Friday, 29 March 2013

Recipe of the Week - Coronation Street Hot Pot

SC Coronation St Hot Pot

Coronation Street Hot Pot
Serves 4 to 6

I’m not a Corrie watcher, but I have in-laws that are, and I have been in enough houses of people who do watch the show over the years to have noticed something. In the pub on the show (the name escapes me) there always seems to be a pot of a Lancashire Hot Pot bubbling away for feeding the hungry pub goers. I can imagine they'd have one for sure over the Easter weekend!! 

This image must have stuck with me as when I was brainstorming for ideas of recipes to make in the slow cooker this one jumped out from the depths of my memory. I did have to Google to find out what was in a Lancashire Hot Pot, and have changed it a bit to make it vegan friendly, and delicious.

Hints - 
  • Slice your potatoes using a mandoline to get uniform slices if you have one. Otherwise use a sharp knife and a steady hand.
  • If you would rather not make the thick gravy to serve over the stew, and have as a more liquid stew then this is fine too, just omit the steps after the stew is finished cooking.

Notes - 
  • Rutabaga is also known as Swede (in the UK and NZ) and Brown Turnips (here in BC).
  • This one is not gluten free as written, the recipe was developed prior to my being gluten free. If you are GF  I would recommend using one package of Extra-Firm Tofu cut into 1/2" cubes, in place of the Seitan. If you sliced the tofu as written it would fall apart, but cubes will hold up nicely and absorb the flavours well.

Preparation Time – 40 Minutes

1 tablespoon Canola Oil
½ medium Onion, finely chopped
4 to 5 medium Leeks, trimmed, rinsed (page 000), cut in half lengthwise then sliced, about 1-pound after trimming, or 4 to 4 ½ cups

2 pieces (½ recipe) simmered Darker Seitan, cut into 1-inch wide, ¼-inch thick, and 2-inch long strips
1 ¼ cups ¼-inch cubed Rutabaga, ¼ medium, about 8-ounces, see Note
1 cup ¼-inch cubed Turnip, ½ medium about 6-ounces
1 Bay Leaf
½ teaspoon rubbed dried Sage
¼ cup finely chopped fresh Parsley
1 cup Seitan Cooking Broth, or Dark Vegetable Stock
3 ½ cups Vegetable Stock

2 medium Potatoes, thinly sliced widthwise no more than -inch thick, about 10-ounces or 1 ½ cups, peeling optional

1 ½ tablespoons vegan Margarine
2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour

In a large skillet over medium heat sauté the onion and leek until soft and reduce in volume by half, but the leek is still bright green, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker.
Add the seitan through stock and stir well.
Layer the thinly sliced potatoes in the top in a decorative spiral pattern. Press down on the potatoes to ensure they are at least partially submerged.
Cover, set heat to low and cook for 7 hours until the vegetables are tender. Turn off the slow cooker.
Using an oven glove to protect your hand, tip the cooker to allow the liquid to pool in one area. Use a large flat spoon to scoop as much of this liquid, but at least 1 ½ cups, as possible out of the slow cooker into a bowl.
Recover the stew in the slow cooker and allow to stand on warm until required.
In a medium saucepan, melt the margarine. Add the flour and cook to a blonde roux.
Add the cooking liquid ¼ cup at a rime, and whisk to combine and cook into the roux, ensuring well mixed and smooth prior to adding the next ¼ cup. Once the 1 ½ cups of liquid is added, after about 10 minutes, the sauce should be thick and smooth.
To serve, place a portion of the stew keeping the potato design intact if possible, from the slow cooker onto a plate or bowl, and smother with some thickened sauce.

Monday, 25 March 2013

I'm on holiday!

So there is no book review post this week, or next week, and maybe not the week after either - we'll see how I get to that when I'm home. I have set up some recipe of the week posts to post automatically so there will still be something for you to read....

Monday, 18 March 2013

Book Review - Vegan Pie in the Sky

Not a new book, but a new to me one.
I didn't make loads of recipes, because really, there is only so much sweet pie you can eat without feeling like a complete glutton. And there are far too many choices which appealed to me, and if I'd kept making I would have kept eating and well, not good all round really.

As you could imagine this book is packed with treats! Appealing, delicious looking treats. There are photos of a large number of them, which will be liked by those folks who need to see the end result of a recipe, and the recipes are laid out 1 to a page, in logical chapters with nice introductions. A pretty well laid out book.

There is a quite large introductory section, which looks at everything pie. From looking at ingredients, to equipment used, to types of pies, to basic instructions in how to make the crusts, and decorate the tops and edges there is a lot of helpful information. These sections are worth the read.

The recipes give options for a wide range of pies, from fruit to chocolate. A large number of the creamy pies do use soaked and blended nuts to achieve the creaminess, but then a number of them do use tofu as well. There will be something for everyone in this collection. I made -

Page 52 Press-in Almond Crust (GF version)
A nice basic crust which I liked, and found easy to make.

Page 87 Very Berry Chocolate Chip Cobbler
I used an all purpose gf flour instead of the regular all pupose flour as listed - worked fine. I don't know if the chocolate chips were absolutely necessary in this recipe as it would have been super tasty without them.

Page 108 Coconut Cream Pie
Nice. Very coconutty and smooth.

Page 193 Chocolate Mousse Tart
Simple and tasty. A standard version of a chocolate filling but nice.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Recipe of the Week - Tacu Tacu

Gringa's Tacu Tacu

You have, in part, the wonderful Terry Hope Romero to thank for this one! During testing for Viva Vegan! Terry made a Peruvian dish called “Tacu Tacu” which didn’t make the cut into that book. It is essentially “Fried Quinoa” and is something I make at least once a week, but not to her recipe as I don’t have a copy of it any more. Anyway I prefer it my way. Thanks Terry for the wonderful inspiration. This is how I have been making it. I often add in leftover vegetables, chopped up into small pieces, or change the spices a little, but the idea is super simple and super delicious. A perfect way to use up leftover cooked quinoa.

Carla's Tacu Tacu
Per person

[gluten free] [soy free]

Preparation time – 10 minutes
Cooking time – 15 minutes

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Shallot, halved and thinly sliced
1 Garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon Cumin
¼ teaspoon Coriander
¼ teaspoon Smoked Paprika

3 tablespoons finely chopped Green Bell Pepper
6 tablespoons finely chopped Red Bell Pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped Green Onion, about 2 small
2 tablespoons finely chopped Cilantro
1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 cup cooked Quinoa

1 tablespoon Lime Juice

Hot sauce, salt, and pepper to taste
Cilantro to garnish

Heat the first measure of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, allow to sizzle and sauté for 1 minute until aromatic.
Add the spices and sauté a minute more.
Add the peppers and sauté until just soft, 3 to 4 minutes, before adding the green onion, cilantro, and second measure of oil and stirring to combine.
Stir in the quinoa. Increase the heat to medium-high. Allow mixture to cook, without stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes until the bottom is golden brown, with darker patches and looks crisp.
Flip using a wide spatula and allow the other side to brown for 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat the flipping and browning once more if desired.
Stir in the lime juice, taste and season as required.
Serve hot, garnished with a sprig of cilantro.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Book Review - The Healthy Green Drink Diet

A very attractive, square, hard cover book, printed on glossy paper, with loads of photos, (at least 1 per recipe) both of produce and the drinks made from the produce, this book will certainly appeal to those you like to see the recipes!

There is a large introductory section, which covers a huge range of information relating to both blending and juicing - including a comparison of the two. There are chapters looking at the benefits of green vegetables, in general, and specifically each green in turn, which is handy information to have. This section is quite comprehensive. The introductory parts then go on to look at fruit and other ingredients used, and the benefits they bring. There is a chapter on buying and storing produce, and one on equipment for getting the most out of the recipes. From having not made some of the recipe due to my not thinking my blender could handle it I do agree that for some of the smoothie recipes a high powered blender is required (if you're being asked to blend carrots until smooth you need power! and mine doesn't have it)

The recipe section is split into two, one for smoothies and one for juices. I did make recipes from each. The recipes are well laid out, one to a page, with a photo as I said above. There is a nice introduction for each, a little cutesy (as are the recipe names) but light hearted is not a bad thing. The Smoothie section has something to suit every taste - especially if you have a high speed blender and your choices are not limited to what your machine can handle! From the smoothie section I made -
Page 89 Dumpkin Pie
I found this to be overly pumpkin-y until I added a bunch more cinnamon and maple syrup than called for. I then got the wonderful pumpkin pie flavour and balanced taste I expected, adjusting to personal taste is always to be expected though.

Page 95 Liquidate
Loved this one, sweet from the dates, a touch of bitter but nothing too much, and filling too.

Page 107 Lettuce Rock
Nice balance in this one, the taste is quite fruity and sweet with a hint of the bitter and sour.

The Juice section has a range too, from the sweeter more introductory green juices to the full-on no fruit at all juices later in the chapter. I kept it pretty save and sweet in the ones I tried -
Page 119 Red Queen
Make sure you mix up the juice before you drink it! Cabbage juice by itself is not great - but when mixed it added a back note to this one which worked. I loved this juice.

Page 121 Beetle Juice
Sweet and earthy this one was nice too.

Page 135 Ginger Snap
Possibly my very favourite. While bright green this does taste just like gingerbread - sweet from the grapes, sharp from the ginger with a hint of the fennel it works very well.

Recommended? Yes, more so if you have a high powered blender and a good juicer to get the most from the recipes. More suited to someone who knows they like green smoothies and juices and wants to make them at home. The true novice may be a little hesitant about some of the combinations, really when they shouldn't be - you can always just add a little more fruit or a date or two if you need to. Will revisit some of the other recipes for sure.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Recipe of the week - Masala Jackfruit and Plantain Curry

Jackfruit and Plantain Cashew Curry

Masala Jackfruit and Plantain Cashew Curry
Serves 4 to 6

Jackfruit is used throughout Asia and the Caribbean as a “meaty” ingredient in stews and curries. This one is very inauthentic, and isn’t even based on a traditional recipe, just completely made up. Masala means “mixture” in Hindi and refers to the spices used, and it could mean that this is a mix of influences. This mixture doesn’t stop the curry from being delicious! There are sweet bursts from the plantains, sour from the brined jackfruit, salty from the cashews, all together in the creamy, spiced (but not overly spicy) sauce. The cashews also provide a nice texture variation.
I like this with a bread of some sort, be it a roti, naan, or even in a wrap. It’s also good over a bowl of plain brown basmati rice.

Remember to soak the nuts!
Tinned Green Jackfruit in Brine (make sure you don’t get ripe jackfruit in syrup) can often be found in Indian Spice stores, or wherever you purchase Latin food products.

You can buy ready made Garam Masala, which is a mix of spices used in Indian cooking, wherever spices are sold.
If you would prefer more heat use the Serrano Pepper, less heat, the Jalapeno.
Buy your plantain when it is green a few days in advance of making this recipe and allow to ripen in your fruit bowl alongside regular bananas. It is best for this recipe when completely yellow and just starting to have black specks.
Either buy the cashew nuts ready roasted and salted or toast them yourself.

Preparation Time – 25 Minutes

[gluten free]
[soy free]

1 cup raw Cashew Nuts, soaked overnight then drained and rinsed

1 cup Vegetable Stock

1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds

1 ½ teaspoons Garam Masala, see Notes
1 ½ teaspoons Tandoori Spice Mix

1 tablespoon Canola Oil

1 tablespoon minced fresh Ginger
3 cloves Garlic, minced
½ medium Onion, finely chopped
1 Serrano or Jalapeno Chile Pepper, see Notes
1 red Bell Pepper, finely chopped

2 cups (20-ounce tin) Green Jackfruit in Brine, drained and rinsed, cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 large ripe Plantain, chopped into ¼-inch cubes, about 1 ½ to 2 cups, see Notes
½ teaspoon Salt
1 cup Vegetable Stock

3 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
½ cup roasted salted Cashew Nuts, see Notes

Salt, Pepper and Hot Sauce as required

Using a food processor or powerful blender pulse the soaked cashew nuts to a paste.
Add the first cup of vegetable then blend until smooth and thick. Transfer to the slow cooker.
Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat and toast the mustard and cumin seeds until aromatic, 2 minutes. Add the spice mixes and toast a minute more. Transfer to the slow cooker.
Add the oil to the hot skillet, then sauté the ginger through bell pepper until soft and aromatic, and just starting to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker.
Add the jackfruit, plantain, salt, and stock, stir to combine.
Cover, set heat to low and cook for 6 hours until sauce is thick and jackfruit and plantain are tender. Add additional stock or water, if required, if the sauce is too thick for your preferences.
Stir through the tomato and cashews prior to serving.
Taste and season as required.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Book Review - Feeding the Hungry Ghost

I was a little apprehensive at first with this book. I had a preconceived notion that it was going to be all religious and a little preachy, and boy was I wrong. However, it is a hard one to categorise - yes, there are recipes but its not really a recipe book; yes, there is talk of faith but its not religion based, more holistic; yes, it has a vegan focus but doesn't really go into health/animal rights/environmental impacts other than where such things coincide with the narrative; its also a very personal (and in places very funny) story but not in an "I remember when" memoir sort of way. It just is, and it is worth a read. Counter to my first impression and biased notions I really enjoyed this book, it resonated with me in a lot of ways, spoke to the person in me which is very similar to, and on a cosmic level connected with, the author. This is a little more touchy feely than my usual reviews but its that sort of book.

As far as the recipes go, there are no pictures (which is OK with me but I know this is an issue for some people), and the recipes are just part of the text, so as such they are often spread over more than one page, making for a lot of page flipping. The recipes are not presented in any traditional recipe order, they are used to show how food can make a connection to a time and place, and as such illustrate the anecdotes / ideas being presented in the text. They make sense from the story point of view, just not if you're reading this as a recipe book.

The only picky negative I would have is that I would have liked to have seen an index of recipes by meal as you'd find in a regular recipe book. Nothing needed at the front necessarily, as an appendix would have worked. I feel it would have made finding the recipes that took my fancy easier once the book was done.

Onto the food - the recipes I made, in page number order -
Page 24 - Whole Grain Pancakes
I didn't eat any of these, as they are not GF. My daughter and her friend at their sleepover ate them all so they must have been good. Easy to make and cook.

Page 42 Deep, Basic Comfort Lentil Soup
Simple, warming, nourishing. Nothing difficult or fancy.

Page 62 Farinata
Nice, though I'd have liked an infusion of something herb-y or garlic-y. Below.

Page 63 Red Onion Jam
Oh, my. Tasty and sticky and really good. Wish I'd made a double batch as this did not last long. Above.

Page 102 Roasted Beet Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette
I left my leftover beets sitting in the dressing in the fridge and they were so awesome the next day! Nice salad with textural contrasts.

Page 107 Moroccan Carrot Salad
Very simple but awesome flavours.

Page 122 Rice in the Sahara
I had no saffron so made it without. Again, warming comfort food, with nice hints of spice and sweetness, and good textural contrast.

Page 142 When-all-else-fails Pasta
Lovely. The hit of lemon juice at the end is really elevating. Easy to make and filling.

Page 145 Broccoli with Lemon and Mint
Super simple, very tasty.

Page 147 Kale Chips
Again very simple, and you know I love Kale Chips!

Page 158 Steel cut oats with Goji Berries
Not a fan of the soft cooked goji I've found out. Liked the chewy oats with the cinnamon and maple syrup though.

Page 180 Thanksgiving Kale with Fennel, Cranberries and Walnuts
Easy to make, tasty to eat. Maybe not for Thanksgiving, but for everyday instead.

Read with an open mind and you may find this book speaks to you too.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Recipe of the week - Happy Hemp Waffles

Happy Hemp Waffles

Happy Hemp Waffles
Makes Six 8-inch Waffles @ Cup batter each

These are almost Granola Waffles, but happy??? Well, your tummy will be happy with the whole grains from the oats, and your brain will be happy with all the Omega 3’s in the hemp! These waffles, unlike some of the other waffle recipes I have, are actually a little healthy tasting so maybe not for dessert.
I found some Manitoba Harvest Hemp Seed Butter on sale (near its use by date) in the supermarket and decided to try it. I was surprised at how green (and oily) it was, as Hemp Milk always seems to be grey. You get a few flecks of that green coming through in the finished waffle.

If you don’t have Oat Flour, just grind up quick cooking rolled oats in a spice grinder, and if you don’t have hemp butter then use another nut butter, like almond instead.
You can substitute a commercial Gluten-Free flour blend such as Bob’s Red Mill for the Spelt flour, but they become slightly more delicate. I have made them this way since I stopped eating gluten and they still tasted as yummy.

Preparation time – 5 minutes
Cooking time – varies but about 20 minutes

[wheat free]
[nut free]
[soy free]

1 ½ cups Hemp or other non dairy Milk
2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar

½ cup Granulated Sugar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons Soft Brown Sugar
¼ cup Canola Oil
¼ cup Hemp Seed Butter
½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 cup Oat Flour
1 cup Spelt Flour
½ cup Quick Cooking Rolled Oats
¼ cup shelled Hemp Seeds
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon Cardamom

In a large bowl combine the hemp milk and vinegar. Stand 5 minutes to curdle.
Add in the sugar through vanilla extract, and whisk to combine.
Add the flour through cardamom into this bowl, and whisk until combined.
Stand while your waffle machine heats, according to instructions for your machine.
Spray the inside plates of your waffle machine with nonstick spray prior to making each waffle and cook according to the directions for your machine and your preference.