Monday, 27 May 2013

Book Review - The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies

I don't have Laurie Sadowski's first book The Allergy Free Cook Bakes Bread but after my experiences with this book, I'd really like to get a hold of it!

This book is the middle one in a series of three (pick me for the next one!) showcasing the ease and deliciousness of eating gluten-, dairy-, egg- and soy-free. There are 2 introductory sections dealing with allergies and allergens, and specific gluten-free hints and tips. I found the sections informative and worth reading. The recipes are laid out well, either one to a page, or a double page, with short introductions and clear instructions. The only thing I found was that the times were not entirely accurate for my oven - in some instances I had to nearly double the time stated to get the result as described. There are no pictures of the recipes, just the odd random black and white photo of bakeries, which I'd have preferred to be of the food!

I didn't make loads of recipes from this book, and the ones I did make were spread over a number of weeks as while gluten-free they are treats and I didn't want to completely over-load us with goodies. The recipes I made were delicious, using mainly sorghum and teff flours (plus starches) as the base for the baking, with added xantham gum of course. I made -

Page 42 Loaded Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting
I didn't make the pineapple filling, instead made double the frosting and went mad with it. SO lovely and coconut-y which complimented the moist cake very well. You could only eat a little at one go, but so good!

Page 64 Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
I made these as mini cupcakes and baked for the time as for the full size to get them done. They were lovely and richly chocolate-y and the frosting was divine. Eat out of the bowl with a spoon good.

Page 89 Essential Chocolate Chip Cookies
These I had to cook much longer than stated as well. But they were worth it in the end. Lovely textured cookie, a little chewy but soft. mmmm.

Page 96 Double Chocolate Cookies with Raisins
Though as my kids don't like cookies with raisins, I left these out and added more chocolate chips and a few cocoa nibs instead. Triple Chocolate Cookies. Soft, fudgy, brownie like and very very chocolate-y! Super easy to make too.

Page 118 Rich and Fudgy Brownies
There's hazelnut butter and coffee in these and my nut- and coffee-hating daughters were asking for me to bake another batch before they'd even finished the first brownie! Very high praise indeed. Will make often I think as they were so very good.

Recommended? Absolutely - sweet treats for everyone! I can't wait to have an excuse to bake more from this book.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Winner - Whole Grain Vegan Baking!

So, using the Random Number Generator...
True Random Number Generator  24Powered by RANDOM.ORG
The winner of Whole Grain Vegan Baking would be this comment from Lydia Claire- I eat steel cut oatmeal with chia seeds, maple syrup, banana and almond milk. I also add a little stevia and salt. The salt helps bring out the sweetness.
So, Lydia Claire - if you could email me (veganyear (at) gmail (dot) com) your contact details I can forward these to get your prize on its way!!
Thanks to all who entered - I did enjoy reading about how you all enjoy your cereal! 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Book Review and Give away - Whole Grain Vegan Baking

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Whole Grain Vegan Baking! Happy to have you here and happy to be showcasing this book.
Tami and Celine bring you a comprehensive look at vegan baking - from a healthy perspective. Using whole grains, minimally processed sweeteners, and better-for-you fats they pack a huge number of tasty treats into this book. The photos are lovely (taken by Celine of course) and the book is user friendly - nice layout to the recipes, and logical chapter groupings.

The recipes include everything baking, from yeasted breads, to scones, muffins, cookies, cakes - sweet and savoury, treat and everyday so I'm sure you'll find something to enjoy.

The only bad thing for me about this book is that I couldn't make many recipes, being as I am now eating gluten-free, and there is a reliance on gluten containing whole grains for most of the recipes. However, I do look forward to at some point trying to switch up the whole grain flour to get gluten free alternatives which work!

I made -
Page 26 More-than-Maple Granola
Not too sweet, and tasty. This one I didn't have to make any changes to.

Page 29 Morning Boost Muesli
Original recipe and photo follows.
I changed the cracked wheat for steel cut oats, and used old fashioned rolled oats for the spelt and kamut flakes. I also omitted the wheat germ. I added the pineapple as suggested. Very tasty, if tricky having to remember to get it done the night before!

Thanks to Celine and Tami (and their publishers) for letting me reproduce the recipe.
Morning Boost Muesli

We know, we know: There’s technically nothing baked about muesli, but this is a whole grain book after all, and we love muesli too much not to sneak in a recipe for it. Loaded with cracked wheat, wheat germ, heart-healthy spelt flakes, and pleasantly chewy kamut flakes, this breakfast will ensure you won’t get hungry again before lunch.

1 cup (235 ml) water
53 g (1⁄3 cup) dry cracked wheat
pinch of fine sea salt
240 g (1 cup) plain or vanilla-flavored vegan yogurt
1 cup (235 ml) unsweetened pineapple juice
24 g (1⁄4 cup) rolled spelt flakes
24 g (1⁄4 cup) rolled kamut flakes
20 g (2 heaping tablespoons) date crumbles or chopped dried cranberries
25 g (1⁄4 cup) pecans, broken into smaller pieces
16 g (2 tablespoons) wheat germ

Combine the water, cracked wheat, and salt in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover with a lid, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly while preparing the rest.

Combine yogurt, juice, spelt and kamut flakes, dates, pecans, and wheat germ in a large bowl. Stir the cooked cracked wheat into the muesli, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight to let the flakes plump up. Stir the muesli again before serving. Eventual leftovers will keep well for up to 2 days after preparation when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator; stir before serving.

Yield: 3 cups (855 g), 2 large to 4 more modest servings

Serving Suggestions & Variations

• For a fruitier muesli, add 248 g (11⁄2 cups) of fresh pineapple chunks, chopping them finely before stirring them in. Other fruits, such as fresh or thawed berries, would also be fantastic when added upon serving, to further increase the fiber and vitamin profile of this healthy breakfast.

Recipe note
Date crumbles are nuggets made from dried dates, with only oat flour added to prevent clumping. They’re ideal to use in baked goods because there’s no sticky chopping involved, but you can replace them with regular chopped dates without missing a beat.

Now the give away - only to residents of the US and Canada (the publishers rules not mine) - please comment with your favourite way to eat cereal for breakfast (seeing as the recipes I made were both breakfast cereals) to go into the draw to win your very own copy!
Closes 26th May @ 6pm Pacific.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Book Review ...

Post coming tomorrow! This week I'm a stop on the blog tour for Whole Grain Vegan Baking, so check back tomorrow for the review and give away!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Product Review - Vejibag

While I was sent a vejibag to try out I wouldn't be here telling you I love it, if I didn't love it, and I do.

It claims to prevent slimy veggies so I put it to the test with the veggies which ALWAYS go slimy for me very quickly, I'm talking within days, cilantro and green onions. Now, I know its not normal, but I have had a bunch of cilantro in my vejibag in the crisper of my fridge for 2 weeks now, and while looking a little worse for wear, as you'd expect, the cilantro is not slimy! I am more than impressed, and am more than happy to heartily recommend the vejibag to everyone I meet!

While not super cheap the vejibag is crafted by hand by women in Maine using organic cotton grown in the US, and is a quality product - lovely feel to it and nice workmanship.

Check out the site for vejibag to read and learn more.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Book Review - Happy Herbivore Abroad

The third low-fat, plant-based offering from Lindsay Nixon, with a focus on international flavours. (Review of previous book here) The idea behind this one seems to be both a presentation of food from around the world, and a travelogue / commentary about life and travelling in other parts of the world. Cuisines represented included those such as Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Indian, Mexican, with a smattering of Middle Eastern, African, and others thrown in, but on the whole I found the recipes to be very Euro-centric, and the travelogue part was basically about European travel, which I would have liked to have seen expanded to be more truly "around the world". While the premise is a good one, combining food and travel tips from places all over the globe, I do feel there could have been more of a global presence.

The book itself is bright and colourful, with photos of many recipes, and snaps of many of the places mentioned in the travel commentary. I'd have liked fewer photos of the author and more of both the food and the locales. The chapters are logical, the recipes easy to read and follow, with chatty but not overly familiar introductions. Some of the recipes were really too simple to be recipes for anyone other than a brand new cook, but at least any brand new cook won't be overwhelmed by this book.

The recipes I made -
Page 20 Goulash
This was OK. A little underwhelming, and I felt it needed something spice wise to liven it up.

Page 23 Taco Soup
H loved this one. I was a little less enamoured but her wanted more! I'll make again for him for sure.

Page 51 Nona's Chickpeas
I would have liked these a little saucier - maybe with some tomato added, but that is personal taste. They were good, but I do love chickpeas!

Page 93 Thai Mango Curry
In the introduction is states that this is based on a dish eaten in Maui. I don't think it captures anything Thai at all (and is no way an authentic Thai dish) and should have been left as a spicy Hawaiian influenced dish. Tasty but not Thai.

Page 127 Paella
Simple but nice, would have been good with artichoke hearts added in too. The picture shows carrots and beans which are not in the recipe.

Page 169 Bolognese Sauce
Loving mushrooms I had high hopes for this one, but it didn't really hit the spot for me. It was OK, just missing something which would have made it awesome. A dash of acid from Balsamic vinegar maybe?

Page 178 Cheater Pad Thai
Cheater being easy to make, and not really Pad Thai. The sauce is more of a peanut sauce, and pad thai may be garnished with peanuts but doesn't have peanut butter in the sauce. Tasted good, so was worth making, but it's not pad thai.

Page 237 Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
Interesting this one. Used in another recipe. I've never had a commercial vegan worcestershire sauce so can't comment on how it compares.

If you're a fat-free / low-fat eater then I'm sure you'll find a whole lot to love about this book.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Best Vegan Food Blogs in Vancouver

Great post, including yours truly (maybe that is why I think it is great??) on Veg Coast the Vancouver Vegan Food and Culture Guide. Check it out - both the blog and the post! 

(Thanks for including me!!)

Monday, 6 May 2013

Book Review - RawEssence

From the Montreal based team behind the restaurant Crudessence comes this book to showcase the dishes they offer in the restaurant, and to illustrate the food philosophy they ascribe to. The introduction sets out their mission as they see it, and provides a lot of interesting information about raw foods, ingredients, techniques, and equipment.

This is a very attractive book, paperback, yet hefty, and loaded with vibrantly coloured photos; mainly of the food but there's the odd one of the restaurant, and the authors. The recipes are laid out mainly 1 to a page (for the smaller/shorter ones they are combined), make good use of colour in the text so they are easy to read, and I found them easy to follow and not confusing at all. Each recipe gives you an idea of the time required for any pre-soaking, the hands on preparation time, as well as any specialised equipment you may need, allowing you to easily plan what to make. Many of the recipes have storage tips and variations noted as well. While I'm not completely set up for a fully raw kitchen, not having a dehydrator or a super blender, I still found the recipes, on the whole, to be accessible and easy to make. I completely skipped the Dehydration chapter, but saw some tempting dishes in there that I would have liked to try.

The recipes I made were -
Page 31 Soft Green Smoothie
Nice wow from the mint in this, and there is a sweet and creamy texture from the bananas and the soaked nuts which I really liked.

Page 33 Red Lips Juice
I often juice beets so knew I'd like this. Loved the spicy addition of ginger.

Page 62 Lettuga Tacos
Tasty lettuce wrapped tacos. Interesting with the raw leek, not something I'd had before, but will have again as I really liked the texture and flavour.

Page 68 Spinach Pistachio Cream Soup
Very impressive. Creamy and rich yet refreshing. I will make this soup again in the summer!

Page 85 Tabbouleh Flower
Genius - combining tabbouleh with grated cauliflower. Nice and simple but very tasty.

Page 93 Caesar Salad
Didn't make the croutons as I have no dehydrator, but this was great without them. The crunch would have added another dimension, but I enjoyed it as it was. The dressing got thick as it sat but that just made it more like a "real" caesar dressing.

Page 114 Hummus Sun Spread
Another genius - using soaked almonds in place of chickpeas, The texture was so creamy, and the flavour divine.

Page 118 Oaxaca Spread
Used on the Tacos this was a little spicy, just a little, and quite rich. I think I added too much water though as mine wasn't as thick as the picture.

Page 161 Crumesan
Used on the Caesar, this sprinkle was so tasty, and made with so few ingredients. I had to stop myself eating the lot off the spoon.

Page 181 Pad Thai
When mixed with the sauce the daikon and the zucchini really do have the texture of noodles! Refreshing, yet spicy.

Recommended for raw folks, and those who are wanting to take the plunge into eating raw, or just raw curious like myself.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Recipe of the week - White Chocolate Mousse Pudding

White Chocolate Mousse Pudding

White Chocolate Mousse Pudding
Serves 4

The name is a little longer than I had hoped it would be, but in testing this recipe I found that different brands of vegan White Chocolate gave different results. The brand I get sent from New Zealand (Sweet William FYI) gives a lighter, more mousse like, result than the brand I can buy here, which was thicker and more like a pudding. So be warned! The final consistency may differ depending on the brand you use.
Different brands also have different levels of sweetness, so taste the mix after blending, and add additional agave then re-blend if the mousse/pudding isn’t sweet enough for you.
If you don’t have, or wish to use, 4 individual serving ramekins, then use a larger serving bowl and scoop out the mousse/pudding to serve. Decorate to serve with chocolate chips, chocolate shavings, nuts or fresh fruit, whatever you like really. Berries in season are particularly nice.

One 12-ounce packet Firm Silken Tofu
2 tablespoons Soy Creamer, or Soy Milk
1 ttablespoon Agave
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

2 Cups white Chocolate Chips, or chopped white Chocolate

Using your blender or food processor, blend together the tofu through vanilla until very smooth and lump free. Scrape the sides as required.
In either a double boiler or microwave, using 15 second intervals, melt the chocolate chips. When melted and smooth quickly add to the blender and blend into the tofu mix. Work quickly to avoid the chocolate cooling too much and getting lumps in the pudding.
Pour into serving ramekins, smooth the top and chill at least 2 hours prior to serving, preferably overnight.

Orange White Chocolate Pudding
Add a small amount (¼ teaspoon) of pure Orange Extract to the mixture when blending for a delicious choc-orange variation.
Vanilla White Chocolate Pudding
Add the scrapings from a Vanilla Bean for a heavenly vanilla accented pudding.
Butterscotch Pudding
If you have access to vegan Butterscotch Chips then use those in place of half of the White Chocolate Chips for a decadently butterscotch treat.