Thursday, 29 April 2010

Book Review - American Vegan Kitchen

Photo stolen from Amazon - please go there and order this book to keep them happy!

I've been a Facebook-friend of Tamasin's for a wee while now, and we've been commenting on each others updates as you do, then I had a brilliant idea - offer to do a review of her book, in exchange for a future review by her of mine. Its like swapping a solid defenceman for a first round draft pick, or something (hey, it is the playoffs!).

So she obligingly popped a copy of American Vegan Kitchen in the post for me to review.

First impressions -
I had to laugh when I saw the list of American Celebration Food days list thingy on pages 14 and 15 because I have something similar-ish planned for my book! (If it makes it past the editors) Now it looks like I am copying! but I swear Tami, I'm not.

Other than that, everything is well laid out, recipes are easy to read and follow. I only saw one typo in my quick perusal (the All American Spice blend as you to let it "cook completely" before storing where "cool" would be more appropriate.) I like the scope of the recipes and the range of dishes covered.

I liked the photos in the middle, more than you often get with a soft cover book. Nice.

There are loads of recipes I'd like to try but what I did try was-
For lunch I made the Fried Avocado Wedges, page 53 to go with a green salad dressed with the Creamy Garlic Basil Dressing, page 87. Then later I made the Beer-Battered Onion Rings, page 162 to munch on while watching the hockey (woot Montreal, what have you guys been feeding on lately. Superb series win come-back).What I thought? -
Fried Avocado - O M G I could eat this every day. Its one of those recipes you think "I really wish I'd thought of that" because it is so very very good. Simple and good. The creaminess of the avocado contrasts with the crispness, and slight sour / spicy-ness of the batter, and it is a good thing I only had one ripe avocado!
The salad dressing was great. I liked the balance of flavours. A real summery taste.
The Onion rings were great too, and would be better if made with the batter from the Avocado!! Next time!

Will I be making more from this book? -
Will I ever. Try and stop me!!

Thanks Tami, for a happy full tummy! Now the pressure is on for reciprocating.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Everything Cookies

Everything Cookies, originally uploaded by Vegan Year.

This is a tester post to see if I can make the automatic blog posting from Flickr work for the photos I have there. Lets see!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

A book I will review in the future!

This looks so very yummy! I want to get my hands on it and bake from it! and I will, so watch this space.

Kelly will be sending me a review copy, in exchange for me sending her a copy of mine, and some advance recipes this summer (cookies of course) so she can make a blog post about them too!

You can order here.
If you are on Facebook, there is a fan page.
Hey, AND there will be more book reviews coming in the near future as I have 2 which will be with me soon!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Muffins. aka Using up stuff in the fridge.

I had 1 lonely banana going black in my fruit bowl, 1 lonely stalk of rhubarb going soft in my veggie crisper, a little bit of sour cream left from the last time we had nachos, and some ground pecans in the freezer that had no friends. Solution – a leftovers party! More commonly known as “Carla invents a muffin recipe!”

These are yummy, nice banana nutty taste overall, with bits of tartness from the rhubarb and smoothness from the sour cream. Kid approved even, two of them gobbled up 3 for a snack, so they must be good!

Rhubarb, Banana, Sour Cream, Pecan Muffins
Makes 12

1 Cup Almond Milk
1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar

2 Cups Spelt Flour
½ Cup ground Pecans
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Baking Soda
½ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon Ginger
¼ teaspoon Cinnamon

1 stalk Rhubarb, finely chopped, about ½ Cup

1 very ripe Banana, very well mashed
¾ Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
¼ teaspoon Almond Extract

¼ Cup Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 375°F, and spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.
In a large bowl combine the almond milk and vinegar, stand for 5 minutes to curdle.
While milk is standing, sift the flour through cinnamon into another large bowl. Add the finely chopped rhubarb and toss to coat. Stand until required.
Add the banana, sugar, oil, and extracts to the milk and whisk until combined. Stand until required.
Take ½ teaspoon size pieces of the sour cream and drop into the flour mix. Once all dropped in toss very gently to coat.
Add the wet mixture to the dry, and very gently fold in until just combined. You’re trying not to break up the sour cream too much.
Spoon into prepared tins, then bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until tests done.
Cool in tins for 5 minutes prior to cooling on rack.

[soy free]
[wheat free]

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Bunches of Basil!

Starting to see them at the F&V store. Lots of love for the bunches of basil!

What do you do??
Make Pesto. Serve over Pasta. With grilled Zucchini and homemade Focaccia bread!

Here's the photo
Here's the recipe

Basic Basil Pesto
Makes 1 ½ Cups

4 Cups fresh Basil leaves (1 to 2 bunches depending on size)
4 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
1 Cup Pine Nuts
⅓ Cup Nutritional Yeast
¼ Cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Water
½ teaspoon Salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until very smooth. You’ll need to scrape the sides down a few times to ensure its all well mixed.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Here's another roundup

This time some of the Yeasted Breads I have been slaving away creating! Don't they all look good!
Coffee Shop Fruit Swirl
Vanilla and Cinnamon Monkey Bread
Coconut Long John Rolls
Sticky Spice Buns

Cinnamon Raisin Bread (for Toast)

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Bake Sale requests

I'm coming to the end of the recipe creation stage of the book, but thought before I call it a day I'd put it out there to you, my readers, and ask what do you like to see and buy at Bakesales?
What don't you see but think you would like to??
Just to double check I haven't missed anything important!
Comments please!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

My own little bread makers apprentice.

I was doing some kneading the other day, as you do, when M piped up, "I'd like to try that Mum", so I showed her the basics and off she went. She has a tendency to add too much flour, but I'll train that out of her. Fun time had by all - here's some action shots!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Rhubarb as requested!

Seeing as it is rhubarb season, and seeing as I super-dee-duper love rhubarb, and seeing as you requested it, here's a rhubarb recipe from the test kitchen for the book. Its one of those ones I had to make 4 times to get it to work, so (crossed fingers) it should work for you!!

This pie has a great combination of flavors, sweet and tart at the same time, topped with a tasty crumble topping. You’ll find that you’re asking yourself; “is it crumble?” “is it pie?” and the answer is – It’s both! And its good!!

Fresh or frozen rhubarb and strawberries can be used in this recipe with good results so it’s not just for when they are in season.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble Top Pie
Serves 8 to 10

One unbaked 9” Pie Crust

1 ½ Cups roughly chopped Rhubarb, 2 to 3 medium stems
¾ Cup Sugar

2 Cups quartered Strawberries

3 Tablespoons Tapioca Starch
2 Tablespoons Water
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

Crumble Topping
⅓ Cup Plain Flour
2 Tablespoons Rolled Oats
2 Tablespoons Panko (Japanese Breadcrumbs)
1 Tablespoon Sugar
½ teaspoon Baking Powder
¼ teaspoon Salt
⅛ teaspoon ground Ginger
Pinch ground Nutmeg

2 Tablespoon Shortening

Preheat oven to 375°F, and place pie plate on a baking sheet.
Prepare filling -
In a medium pan combine the rhubarb, sugar, and water. Bring to the boil, and then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until fruit is cooked and syrupy.
Add the strawberries and cook in the same manner for a further 10 minutes until softened.
Prepare crumble topping while the fruit is cooking -
In a large bowl whisk together the flour through nutmeg.
Cut the shortening into the dry ingredients, then stir in with your hand to form a crumbly mix. Stand until required.
In a small container combine the tapioca, water, and lemon juice into a slurry. Add to the fruit, stir to combine.
Pour fruit mixture into the prepared pie crust. Smooth the top.
Evenly sprinkle crumble topping on top of your prepared fruit layer, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until crumble is lightly browned.
Cool pie in pan for 15 minutes prior to serving, or, if serving cold until completely cool. Store covered in fridge, the filling will firm up if kept in the fridge.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Two exciting things happened this week in our house.

Firstly, I passed my Drivers licence Road Test!! Hooray for me!! I've only been here 5 years. First try though so I have to be proud of that. I haven't really needed it until now, I could walk everywhere quite easily, but now the girls are older they need ferry-ing to dance lessons, and dance competitions, and birthday parties, and everything else they do! It took me a while to be comfortable driving on this side of the road too - everywhere else I've lived they've driven on the left.

The other thing exciting that happened is this -
R lost her first tooth. My baby is now officially, according to her, a big girl!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The long awaited Product Review!

Finally, you say. In my defence I must say that the stuff to review didn't arrive until the day I was leaving for New Zealand, and while some I took with me to try and review there, I forgot how strict NZ is about food stuff being brought in so I scoffed the lot on the plane (Its a 12 hour journey so its not as bad as it sounds!). The rest didn't get eaten for review until the other day as I have been super busy since I got back, and I've had my notes here making me feel guilty ever since.

The product I was sent to try is, of course as every other blogger seems to have got some too, Primal Strips, the vegan jerky. Photo stolen from their website.
I've never had unvegan jerky before so I really can't comment on how alike this is to the "real" stuff but I must say its a lot moister than I was expecting. I always thought jerky was all dried up and chewy and dried up. This stuff, while chewy, is really moist and nice to eat. It is very "meat like" or as far as I can remember it is (I've been not eating meat now for 5 years longer than I did so its been a while) and though a little strange it is not unpleasant. I liked the Hot and Spicy flavour best for texture and this is the one which has soy, and gluten, and shiitake mushrooms in it. It was more like I was expecting I guess.

For flavours, there are loads of options. If you consider 6 to be loads, that is. They have Hickory Smoked, Thai Peanut, Hot and Spicy, Teriyaki, Texas BBQ, and Mesquite lime. I think I liked the Thai Peanut one best, it was like a little satay without the stick. I thought the Texas BBQ and Hickory smoke would go really nicely in a sandwich, and I thought the Hot and Spicy was just that.

Now, the Mesquite Lime, bear with a minute for background. I was lucky enough (you may remember) to test for Terry Hope Romero's Viva Vegan which is due to hit the stores any day now-ish, and one of the recipes that I tested for the book (I hope it made it to the book) was a Cuban sandwich that you grill, with vegan cheese and meat stuff in it. While I was eating the Mesquite Lime Primal Strip I had the brainwave that this would be excellent as the "meat" in that sandwich! Go buy Terry's book and try it, you'll see I'm right!

Anyway -

Did I like Primal Strips? Yes

Would I buy them in the store? Yes - especially to use as noted above

Would I recommend them to others? Yes - as above

Anyone else have products for me to review? I promise to try and be quicker next time. I'm still waiting on a VitaMix!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Baking pictures.

Here's some more stuff that I have been busy in the kitchen whipping up for the book!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread (for toast)

Rhubarb Bars

Custard Squares

Coconut Ice Slice

No Bake Apricot Cookies

Wipe that drool off your keyboard please!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

A lovely dinner to use up a little mint.

I had just a little mint left over the other day from a baking tester and came up with this simple dal to use it up. The flavours are very mild, but it is ever so tasty. Great over brown rice with steamed broccoli on the side.

Simple Minted Dal
Serves 4 with Brown Rice and a Green Vegetable

1 Tablespoon Cumin Seeds, lightly crushed
½ Tablespoon Mustard Seeds, lightly crushed
½ Tablespoon Coriander Seeds, lightly crushed

1 medium Onion, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Canola Oil

¾ Cup Yellow Split Peas
⅓ Cup finely chopped Carrots
3 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 Bay Leaf

One 19oz tin Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ Cup frozen Green Peas

2 Tablespoons finely chopped Mint
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium heat dry fry the cumin, mustard, and coriander seeds for 2 minutes or so, until aromatic.
Add in the onion, garlic, and oil then sauté for 10 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.
Add the split peas, carrots, stock, and bay leaf, cover and turn the heat up and bring to the boil. Once at the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, partly covered and stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes or until split peas are just soft and most of the liquid is absorbed.
Add the chickpeas and green peas, cover and cook at a simmer for a further 10 minutes until peas are tender.
Turn off the heat and stir in the mint, lemon juice, and seasonings. Stand for 10 minutes prior to removing the bay leaf and serving.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Place Holding.

I have 2 posts I am going to write up over the weekend. I promise. I just haven't done so yet, and am doing half a million (it feels like) other things as well. That's the thing with committing to blog, it sometimes get pushed to the back burner as life gets in the way, and then you feel guilty about not blogging, and then its harder to actually blog because you feel you've let someone (who? the Internet? like it cares?)down by not doing it, when really its all in your head.
Anyway, I am baking, and have to take the girls to an Easter Egg hunt tomorrow morning (if the rain holds off) and H is working tomorrow night so I should be able to get the posts done (and one of them scheduled for later) then. But "best laid plans" and all that.
One post is a recipe for a Dal that we had for dinner with brown rice the other night, and the other is that long promised and not yet seen product review. Bear with me little blog, you are not forgotten, just temporarily pushed to the back of my mind!