Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Twelve Posts of Christmas: Chargrilled Sweet Chilli Mango and Tofu Salad

Mangoes are absolutely delicious and in season at Christmas for us Aussies. This is a very substantial salad that could either be a main or side. Chargrill them to make them even sweeter!

4 firm mangoes, cut into slices 5mm thick
1 block firm tofu cut into thick slices
1 small bunch spring onions, finely chopped
3 carrots julienned
4 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 bunch kale finely shredded
1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce
1/4 cup white tahini
1/4 cup black tahini
1/4 cup sunflower seeds toasted
Gsarlic infused olive oil to drizzle

Toss tofu in sweet chilli sauce, and chargrill, set aside.
Chargrill mango slices, set aside to cool
Whrn ready to serve, toss kale, tomatoes, carrot, and onion with tofu and mango.
Drizzle both tahinis over the top and sprinkle sunfloer seeds over.
Finish with a drizzle of garlic olive oil.
Serve immediately.

The Twelve Posts of Christmas: Lemon Myrtle Hasselback Potatoes

I won't have any choice but to make potatoes dauphinoise for Christmas this year (siblings and husband expect it!) but I do really like hasselbacks - they look pretty, crisp nicely, and you can put all sorts of flavourings on them. If you fancy some Aussie flavoured ones try some lemon myrtle - it gives them a lovely little tang and these also pair really well with the vegie ribbon tart

Washed roasting potatoes skin on (allow 1 1/2 potatoes per person minimum)
sunflower oil
sea salt flakes
lemon myrtle dried

Cut potatoes in half, and then put cut side down. Using a sharp knife make vertical cuts a few millimetres apart leaving about 1 cm uncut at the bottom. 
Place on a baking tray and drizzle with sunflower oil, sea salt flakes and lemon myrtle. 
Bake at 180C for approximately 40 - 50 minutes until golden and crisp. 

The Twelve Posts of Christmas: Vegan Vegie Ribbon Tart

I have seen vegetable ribbon tarts done a few times but always it is more of a quiche type thing, and not vegan. I can't say I've ever had a really good vegan "quiche" that involves silken tofu. I don't know why, it just doesn't do it for me. This tart is made using a thick silky "custard" using non dairy milk and flour to thicken it, flavoured with onion and thyme. It is based on a very thick white sauce. When baked it sets very well, just allow it to cool a bit before serving. It shouldn't be piping hot - just warm, or it can be cooled completely and served cold. I used sweet potato and zucchini, but you could use any vegetable easily sliced into ribbons like beetroot, parsnips, swedes, or carrots. Bake in a loose bottomed flan tin for easy removal.

Base - Savoury Shortcrust Pastry
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon cornflour
125gr vegan butter, softened and cut into cubes
pinch salt
pinch ground pepper
cold water

Sift flour, cornflour, salt, and pepper into a large bowl.
Rub butter through flour using your finger tips until it resembles large breadcrumbs.
Add 1 tablespoon of water and draw mixture together into a ball. If it is still too dry, add water a teaspoon at a time until it holds together.
Roll out and press into your greased tin. Trim edges.
Place in freezer for at least an hour. If you are making ahead cover in clingfilm and leave in freezer until ready to bake.
Blind bake in a 180C preheated oven for 12 minutes, and then remove, and put aside.

2 zucchini
1 sweet potato
1 1/4 cups non dairy milk
1/4 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons vegan butter
1 tablepoon dijon mustard
1 small onion
1 heaped teaspoon chicken style stock
1 tablespoon dried thyme

1.Cut zucchini and sweet potato into ribbons using a mandolin or vegetable peeler. Blanch ribbons in boiling water for a couple of minutes until just softening. Drain and set aside to cool.
2.onion and saute until softened, and set aside.
3.Arrange vegetable ribbons in a circular fashion in pastry base leaving a bit of a gap for the custard to settle in between and support the ribbons.
4.In a small sauce pan on low heat melt butter and then add flour to form a roux. Add milk slowly whisking vigorously to ensure no lumps as it thickens. Add stock, mustard, and onion, and using a hand blender puree until onion has blended. Add thyme, and keep stirring for a few minutes on low heat  to cook out the flour.
5.Pour mixture over vegetable ribbons, gently spreading over the top and pushing to ensure mixture falls between ribbons.
6.Bake in 180C oven for 20 minutes until  pastry is golden.
7.Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from tin and cutting into wedges to serve.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Twelve Posts of Christmas: Mini Savoury Cranberry Pies

If you haven't made that cranberry relish then you had better plan on making some to assemble these scrumptious little bites of Christmas! you will need a batch of quinoa mince which you can find the recipe for here. I often make a big batch of quinoa mince and portion it to freeze , so if you have done that too these will take no time at all if you leave it in the fridge overnight to thaw! I use a small tartcase tray that bakes 12 to each one. You can get 9 pies out of each pastry sheet using an 8 cm cutter. 

Savoury shortcrust pastry sheets
Puff pastry sheets
Quinoa 'mince'
cranberry relish

Preheat the oven to 180C, and grease tin.
Using a biscuit cutter cut out shortcrsut pastry circles for the bottom of the pie. Place one circle in each hole and gently press down and up the sides.
Take a heaped teaspoon of quinoa mince and put in bottom of pie bottom, and then take a scant teaspoon of cranberry relish to top it.
using the same size biscuit cutter cut out a puff pastry circle for the lid. Brush the edges of the bottom case with water, and place the puff pastry circle on top of the pie. Press firmly around the edges to seal, and then using a sharp small knife put two slits in the top of the lid.
When your tray is full bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
If you haven't used defrosted quinoa mince then you can freeze these in an airtight container with baking paper between the layers to keep for up to a month.
to reheat place on a lined tray in the oven 

The Twelve Posts of Christmas: Cranberry and Onion Relish

Ok, so granted, you can buy any old jar of cranberry sauce...but there is something about making your own relish which is a lot more hearty, tasty, and of course made with love. I've made this so many times now I can almost do it in my sleep! there is almost always a pot of it in the fridge to be had with hot buttered toast for a more savoury jam substitute, or to spoon onto savoury tarts. For the omnivores out there you may be wondering why someone who doesn't tuck into a turkey's corpse would be interested in cranberry relish. It tastes divine on crackers with almond or cashew cheese, its scrumptious tossed in fried mushrooms, or spooned over a vegetable terrine with gravy. Make a big batch, bottle it and give it away as Christmas pressies. The longer it sits the better the flavour becomes just like a good sweet fruit mince.

500 gr frozen cranberries
2 cups raw sugar
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup water
2 large chopped red onions
1 garlic clove crushed
bunch of fresh sage or thyme, chopped
juice and zest of an orange
pinch salt
oil for frying

1.In a large heavy bottomed saucepan gently saute chopped onion and crushed garlic  in a little oil until translucent. Add chopped thyme and fry for another minute or two to release the oils and aroma.
2.Increase to a medium heat and add all other ingredients, and stir until sugar is dissolved.
3.Turn heat down and simmer until cranberries collapse and mixture has reduced to a very thick consistency.
4.Spoon into sterilised jars and leave to cool. Best kept in fridge if you do not seal the jars, and keep in fridge once opened.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Twelve Posts of Christmas: Rose Pistachio & Date; & Mocha Truffles

I'm not even going to pretend these are healthy for you. But then Christmas is about little indulgences isn't it? These guys are vegan and gluten free (but not taste free). The use of cacao butter in the pistachio ones gives a delicate chocolate taste to these Persian inspired morsels. If you're a coffee lover like my husband you'll love the mocha truffles dark, slightly bitter from the dark chocolate and not overly sweet.

Rose, Pistachio, & Date Truffles
1 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon rosewater
1/2 cup dates chopped
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
2/3 cup cacao butter
1 tablespoon sugar

1.Mix almond meal, dates, pistachios and rosewater in a large bowl.
2.Melt cacao butter and sugar in a small sausepan over low heat, and then pour over almond meal mixture.
3.Stir well to combine, and allow to cool until easily handled.
4.Roll into bite sized balls, and then place in an airtight container in the fridge to set. Makes approximately 24.

Mocha Truffles
1 cup hazelnut meal
2/3 cup good quality sweetened dark chocolate
2 tablespoons coffee essence
1/4 cup dairy free milk
1 tablespoon sugar

1. In a saucepan over a low heat, mix together chocolate, milk, coffee essence, and sugar until chocolate is melted.
2. In a large bowl put in hazelnut meal and pour in chocolate mixture.
3.Stir well to combine, and allow to cool until easily handled.
4.Roll into bite sized balls, and then place in an airtight container in the fridge to set. Makes approximately 24.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas: Fresh Mixed Pea Salad in Apple and Mint Dressing

Once again I'm doing the Twelve Posts of Christmas! I hope to have twelve Christmas food related posts up before Christmas Day so you can try them out and maybe make them for the day itself. Of course, you can still see my previous posts from the last two years, and it may not be too late to soak some fruit for a delcious vegan and gluten free fruit mince or  age a plum pudding

If it doesn't rain again this Christmas and it is sunny and hot for those of us Down Under, a cooked heavy meal isn't very appetising. Why not try a lovely crisp fresh mixed pea and rocket salad with an apple and mint dressing ? Even if you are having baked potatoes or a vegan potato dauphinoise this should lighten it up for you :)

2 cups snow peas
2 cups sugar snap peas
2 cups rocket
2 granny smith apples
juice and zest of 1 lemon
big bunch of fresh mint
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
1/2 cup water
freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt flakes to taste

1. Wash rocket and peas, and dry.
2. Tail peas
3. Core apple and chop into chunks, set aside.
4. Zest and juice lemon
5. Using a blender or bamix, whizz up apple, lemon juice and zest, mint, and water,.
6. In a large bowl toss dressing through rocket and peas, drizzle with flax seed oil and add salt and pepper to taste.