{Recipe} Chocolate, Coconut and Pecan ‘Ice Cream’ Cake

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Yes, more chocolate. 🙂 I make no apologies for that.

Today’s recipe is a nearly raw, gluten-free, no-bake, ice cream cake-style dessert. It is perfectly suited for an Aussie Christmas.

This recipe is inspired by a raw chocolate ‘gelato’ recipe that was distributed at a raw food preparation course I attended in Brisbane about 6 years ago.

This recipe consists of water and flesh from a young coconut. I live in a rural area, but I have no trouble sourcing young coconuts at the supermarket, in the fruit and vegetable section. They may also be labelled as drinking coconuts or Thai coconuts.

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The thought of cracking open a young coconut (or an ‘old’ one for that matter!), may seem a little intimidating at first.  Just take your time, and focus on the task. Do not assign this job to a child. And if they want to watch – and they will– make sure they stand clear.

You actually only need to remove a tiny amount of the husk – just enough to release the water and accommodate a spoon. I pour the water into a jug, then I use a spoon to scoop out the flesh.

Click here to watch an interesting instructional video on how to open a young coconut easily and safely (it will only take a couple of minutes of your time). If you haven’t opened a young coconut before – and want to make this recipe – I suggest that you view the video.

The opening of the coconut is the only [slightly] complicated part of this recipe. The rest is easy! The coconut flesh is delicious. I usually eat (and share) the leftover flesh as I prepare the recipe. It is very moreish.

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Ingredients

(requires overnight freezing; Serves: 12-14 slices)

1.5 cups raw macadamia nuts, soaked in water for 4 hours

1/2 cup raw cacao powder (ie. raw chocolate powder)

1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

generous 1/4 cup of coconut flesh

1 cup coconut water

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp maple syrup (or agave syrup, if you want a raw ‘cake’.)

1 – 2 Tbsp cacao nibs (or choc chips)

2-3 Tbsp chopped pecans

1/2 of a vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

1. Drain and rinse the macadamia nuts in a colander. Set aside.

2. Safely open your coconut. Pour the water into a metric jug until you have 1 cup. Store the remaining water in a separate container in the fridge (for a smoothie) or drink it now. Scoop the flesh out, measuring out a generous 1/4 cup. Store the remainder in the fridge for a smoothie, or eat it now. 🙂 If your young coconut has less than one cup of water (unlikely, but possible), make up the remainder with filtered water.

3. Line a loaf tin with baking paper. Ensure that the paper hangs over the sides of the tin – this will assist you to remove the dessert from the tin once it is frozen. The folds of the paper may leave imprints on your dessert (as you can see in my photos) so if this concerns you, make an effort to smooth the paper.

3. To a [high-speed] blender, add the coconut water, coconut oil, maple syrup, macadamia nuts, coconut flesh, and cacao powder. Cut your vanilla bean in half, then cut open one of the halves, lengthwise. Scrape the seeds into the blender.

4. Blend until smooth. [On my Blendtec, I use the XL smoothie setting.] Once the mixture is smooth, pour the cacao nibs and pecans into the blender – do not blend! Use a spatula to fold the nibs and pecans into the mixture.

5. Once the cacao nibs and pecans are incorporated, pour the chocolate mix into the loaf tin. Smooth the top with the spatula. Cover the tin, and place it in the freezer overnight (or until frozen).

6. Once frozen, remove the cake from the tin. If the paper sticks to the tin, run a knife along the edge of the tin to separate the paper from the edge. Invert the cake onto a serving plate (so that the base now becomes the top), and decorate with pecan halves and additional cacao nibs (or choc chips).

7. If the cake is too hard to slice immediately, allow it to soften a little. Slice, then serve immediately.

Store leftovers in the freezer.

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The tiny vegans’ verdicts

7-year-old tiny vegan informed me that he prefers my ‘banana ice cream'(the one that involves whizzing frozen banana in a food processor). I can’t complain about that. 🙂 He commented that he didn’t like the chocolate that I had used. The flavour of the cacao powder was too strong for him. Perhaps cocoa powder would be more suitable in this recipe for some children’s palates.

My daughter ate half of her slice and commented that it was delicious but very rich. Obviously, smaller slices are the way to go for kids. Some kids…

4-year-old tiny vegan was happy to eat his slice, and his sister’s leftover half-slice. He was the most enthusiastic fan of this recipe – apart from me, that is. I adore it!

Every Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe that is enjoyed by my own family – I hope your family enjoys it too!

Ally 🙂

{Virtual Vegan Potluck} Rainbow Salad with Chilli-Mint-Lime Dressing

rainbowsalad1Welcome to the Virtual Vegan Potluck and a beautiful, warm spring day at my place.

The tiny vegans have set the table on the verandah, and 7-year-old Tiny Vegan is waiting to pour you a refreshing drink. Just be careful where you rest your glass – Little Baker (21 months) may snatch your ice or straw!

Sit down, relax, and enjoy the view of distant mountains while you indulge in a bowl of my potluck offering:  Rainbow Salad with Chilli, Mint and Lime Dressing.

This colourful salad is a scrumptious medley of vegetables, herbs and dry-roasted cashews. A flavoursome, mildly spicy dressing of red chilli, coconut sugar, lime, garlic, tamari, and mint leaves completes the recipe. rainbowsalad2

Ingredients

serves: 4-6 as a side salad

2 x medium zucchini, chopped into matchsticks (I use a julienne peeler)

2 x medium carrot, chopped into matchsticks (again, I use a julienne peeler)

1 medium red capsicum (bell pepper), thinly sliced

1 shallot (green or spring onion), finely chopped

1/2 cup beetroot (beet) leaves, destalked, and finely chopped

2/3 cup finely chopped coriander, stem and leaves

6 large, fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1/2 of a medium raw beetroot (beet), peeled and grated

1 cup raw cashews

for the dressing:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small red chilli (birds eye), seeds removed, and finely chopped

6 large, fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

juice and pulp of 1 freshly-squeezed lime

1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce

1 tsp coconut sugar or brown sugar

1/4 tsp vegan fish sauce (optional)

Method

1. On a low-medium heat, dry roast the cashews in a fry pan or skillet until they begin to turn golden brown. Set aside.

2. Prepare the dressing: Add all of the ingredients to a small mixing bowl or glass jug, and mix well with a fork. Set aside.

3. Add the vegetables and herbs to a large mixing bowl in the order that they are listed. Mix well, but gently. Then add the dry-roasted cashews (set a few aside for garnishing). Toss the salad gently until the cashews are incorporated.

4. Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss to distribute the dressing.

5. Garnish with mint or basil leaves, and cashews.

6. Serve immediately.

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The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

Regular readers know that I usually mention the opinions of the tiny vegans (my children).

In this case, only 9-year-old Tiny Vegan and Little Baker were offered the Rainbow Salad. They both enjoyed their portions.

The addition of a tiny amount of chilli in the dressing makes this salad a ‘tiny vegan’- friendly recipe. If you prefer a spicier dressing, add the chilli seeds as well.

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I hope you have enjoyed your time with us. Your food journey continues! To visit The Vegan Cookbook Aficionado, and indulge in Megan’s delectable recipe, click here.

rainbowsalad5If you missed the delicious offering from Janae at Bring Joy, click here.

If you want to go to the beginning of the Virtual Vegan Potluck, click here.

rainbowsalad4Thanks for stopping by! I hope to see you again soon.

I apologise for the beetroot stain on your shirt – Little Baker doesn’t usually throw food. 🙂

If you are new to Made of Stars, please consider signing up for email updates, following the blog through WordPress, or joining us on Facebook and Twitter.

Ally 🙂

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…to The Vegan Cookbook Aficionado

***

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…to Bring Joy

vvpLOGOThanks to Annie and Keely for their support and assistance.

{Recipe} Corn Fritters and Tartar Sauce (gluten-free, soy-free)

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Source: Arbon Publishing

Today, I feature two delicious recipes* from ‘Veganissimo! Beautiful Vegan Food’ by Leigh Drew.

Corn Fritters and Tartar Sauce are gluten-free and soy-free recipes.

Corn Fritters

serves: 12–14 fritters

preparation time: 15 minutes

cooking time: 1 hour

***

Ingredients 

1 1⁄2 cups (10 oz/285 g) corn kernels (fresh or frozen)

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 medium capsicum (red bell pepper), finely chopped

1 bunch (approx. 4 oz/115 g) coriander (cilantro), finely chopped

1 cup (5 1⁄2 oz/155 g) masa harina or polenta

1⁄2 cup (2 oz/60 g) chickpea flour (garbanzo bean flour)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup (8 fl oz/240 ml) soy-free or soy non-dairy milk

1⁄4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) olive oil

 Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Line a baking/cookie tray with kitchen baking paper.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the corn kernels, red onion, garlic, capsicum (bell pepper), and coriander (cilantro). Stir through the masa harina or polenta, chickpea flour (garbanzo bean flour),salt, and ground black pepper. Pour in the non-dairy milk and olive oil, and mix the ingredients together well. Set the bowl aside.

3. Place a nonstick or cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. Form ½-cup portions of the mixture into patties, and pan fry the fritters in batches of three or four at a time. Cook the fritters for about 5–7 minutes or until they are golden on the underside, flip and fry them for a further 3–5 minutes, and then place the fritters onto the baking/cookie tray. Place the fritters into the oven to bake for 15 minutes or until they are fully cooked and set in the center.

Serve with tartar sauce (recipe to follow).

***

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Source: Arbon Publishing

Tartar Sauce 

Preparation time: 5 minutes, plus overnight soaking of cashews

Cooking time: none

Yields: 2 cups

***

Ingredients

1 cup (41⁄2 oz/130 g) cashews, soaked overnight and drained

3⁄4 cup (6 fl oz/180 ml) water

1⁄4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, minced

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 bunch chives (approx. 1⁄2 oz/15 g), finely chopped

1⁄3 cup (21⁄2 oz/70 g) finely chopped gherkins (cornichons)

1⁄4 cup (11⁄2 oz/45 g) finely chopped capers

Method

Place the cashews, water, white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, white pepper, and olive oil into a food processor. Blend the ingredients until the sauce is smooth. Pour the sauce into a bowl, and stir through the chives, gherkins (cornichons), and capers.

 Tartar sauce can be used on sandwiches, served with pan-fried or battered tofu, and even offered as a dip.

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For my review of Veganissimo! Beautiful Vegan Food, click here.

* The recipes and specified photos are reproduced on Made of Stars with the kind permission of Arbon Publishing, Sydney.

Each Monday I feature a delicious vegan recipe – or two! 

Ally 🙂

{Book Review} ‘Veganissimo! Beautiful Vegan Food’ by Leigh Drew

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Today, I am delighted to feature a review of Veganissimo! Beautiful Vegan Food by Australian cook book author, Leigh Drew.

It is a dilemma faced by all individuals who eagerly open the cover of a new cook book for the first time: what should I cook first? This challenge is all the more pronounced if one is hungry at the time!

Ultimately, I chose two recipes from the Charming Cheeses, Pates, Dips, and Spreads chapter, as I had the ingredients readily available. To date, I have prepared 11 recipes from the pages of Veganissimo!, and several more are earmarked for imminent preparation.

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Chive, Garlic and Walnut Spread

This spread is visually appealing and tasty. I am always interested in simple dishes that incorporate walnuts (and all of their omega-3 fatty acid goodness).

Although I used freshly-picked garlic chives from our herb garden in this recipe, I wouldn’t recommend that you do the same. The spicy garlic flavour of the chives aggressively competed with the mellow, sweet flavour of the roast garlic. Definitely use ‘regular’ chives as outlined in the recipe. Nonetheless, we still enjoyed the flavour of this dip, and I imagine that it would be a delicious substitute for pesto.

Chunky Beet Dip

This dip is scrumptious. It contains mint and oven-roasted beetroot (beets). I used freshly-picked mint from our herb garden.

The aroma of onion, garlic, vinegar, coconut sugar, salt, and white pepper bubbling on the stove is captivating. My husband, Mat, entered the kitchen at this point and proclaimed: ‘something smells alright out here’. Talk about an understatement!  I particularly enjoyed this dip teamed with avocado on toast.

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Zucchini Muffins

These muffins are superb! I decided to make this recipe to force myself out of my comfort zone. I usually overlook savoury muffin recipes, giving preference to sweet muffins. I’m so glad I decided to bake them!

Once the muffins cooled, I offered them to the tiny vegans. Minutes later, my daughter returned to the kitchen, imploring: ‘Can I have another one? They are so good’. I found them to be incredibly moreish too. I plan to bake these again soon.

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Spinach Hummus

I make a batch of hommus each week for school lunchboxes. I am planning to alternate between ‘regular’ hommus and spinach hummus from now on. The flavour of the baby spinach is so subtle as to be undetectable. This recipe is a great way to incorporate raw greens into the tiny vegans’ diets.

Overnight Breakfast Cups

My daughter prepared this recipe alongside me one evening while I was cooking dinner. The next morning, we forgot that it was in the fridge! When I discovered it, I devoured a bowl for an afternoon snack. I topped my serving with additional non-dairy milk and a drizzle of maple syrup. I omitted the recommended peanut butter. My daughter had a serving the following morning for breakfast.

Our breakfast cups contained quinoa flakes. In all honesty, I’m not a big fan of quinoa flakes. Drew also suggests using rolled oats and – as we are not on a gluten-free diet – I will do that next time.

***

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Thai-style Yellow Curry with Coriander Dressing is truly delectable. I served it with brown basmati rice. I omitted the fresh red chilli from the recipe, and used a pinch or two of dried chilli flakes, to ensure it was ‘kid friendly’.

The method of tofu preparation involves the following steps: freezing; defrosting; squeezing; tearing; tossing with a smidgen of olive oil and tamari; then, finally, baking.

This process results in deliciously flavoured and delightfully textured chunks of tofu. 7 year old Tiny Vegan was particularly enamoured with the baked tofu in this dish, and I have since employed this method while preparing tofu for a stir fry. The blocks of tofu that entered our kitchen this week were directed straight to the freezer for an overnight chilling. I look forward to my next bowl of yellow curry. The tofu is currently defrosting!

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I prepared Lancashire Hotpot for a family dinner at my parents’ house. It was popular with the adults and children, and I envisage this warming and comforting meal being a regular winter dinner in our home.

The sliced potato topping was well-received by the members of the household who hold disdain for mashed potato toppings (I’m not mentioning any names! They know who they are). The recipe does not instruct you to remove the bay leaves, but if you don’t like biting into whole bay leaves, I suggest that you remove them from the mixture before transferring it from the saucepan to the oven-proof dish.

Pikelets with Whipped Maple Cream

I prepared the pikelets for the ravenous tiny vegans as an after-school snack. As a consequence, Mat and I were not able to indulge in as many pikelets as we would have hoped to devour. Nevertheless, they were popular with the tiny vegans, and the strawberry jam and whipped maple cream were very pleasing accompaniments.

***
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My sister was visiting for the weekend when I made Italian Farinate. She described it as the gluten-free lovechild of frittata and pizza. 🙂 I used fresh thyme (leftover from the hotpot recipe) rather than rosemary.

I particularly enjoyed the farinate the next day, after it was reheated in the oven. The base had crisped up further and the flavours had intensified. Next time I make it, I will use baking paper in my spring form cake tins, as I found the farinate a little difficult to remove from the cake tin bases. Farinate would be perfect as an alternative to garlic bread, served with pasta dishes.

Soft Molasses Gingerbread Cake

My cake preference rarely extends beyond chocolate, so I baked Gingerbread Cake to push myself out of my cocoa-shrouded comfort zone. Drew suggests making this cake in a bundt tin. As I do not own one, I used a springform tin instead (combined with a lower oven temperature and a longer cooking time).

I am not keen on ginger in sweet recipes. I am not enamoured with chocolate coated ginger or candied ginger. I prefer my ginger in savoury dishes, like curries and stir fries. Consequently, although I had purchased a packet of crystallised ginger for this recipe, I decided to omit it. It was a good decision. A couple of the tiny vegans tasted the crystallised ginger, and did not like it. They enjoyed the cake, however.

If you adore gingerbread cakes, you will be charmed by this one. It rose beautifully, possessed a nice texture, and each bite was flavoured with a hint of molasses. I topped the cake slices with leftover whipped maple cream, rather than the suggested icing.

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Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

This recipe is my kind of indulgence! These muffins are a decadent, moreish, and tasty treat. They contain frozen raspberries, raspberry jam and chocolate chunks. I replaced some of the oil with applesauce (as suggested by Drew). These were immensely popular with my extended family members. I will definitely bake these muffins again. They possess the decadence of a cupcake, making them an ideal ‘special occasion’ muffin.

About the Book

The 208-page book contains over 120 recipes presented in 10 chapters (with an elegant use of alliteration), including:

Beguiling Breakfasts and Brunches 

Splendid Salads, Soups and Side Dishes

Pleasing Pasta and Ravishing Rice

Stunning Stews, Classy Curries, and Precious Pies

Sublime Sauces, Marinades and Dressings

Divine Desserts

The instructions are clear and unambiguous. Colourful symbols are used to highlight the soy-free, gluten-free, or low fat status of a recipe. Recipes that require 30 minutes or less cooking time are also highlighted. Ingredient measurements are specified in ounces, grams and cups ensuring that the recipes are useful and practical to readers across the globe. Furthermore, the recipes were tested by a bunch of international recipe-testers.

A couple of the recipes that I made contained all-purpose (plain wheat) flour. This type of flour isn’t a pantry staple in my kitchen. My preferred ‘gluten-loaded’ flours are wholemeal wheat and wholemeal spelt. I would like to use these flours when I next bake Zucchini Muffins and Chocolate Raspberry Muffins.

For the information of gluten-free readers, the book contains over 90 recipes that are gluten-free or contain a gluten-free option, including Gingered Cheesecake Bar Cookies, Vietnamese Savory Pancakes, and Sizzling Polenta Gnocchi with Sage.

***

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Creative use of colour

The photos are beautiful and visually appealing. Vibrant colours, like burnt orange, sky blue, and lime green, are used effectively. Each chapter has its own colour theme, which is used consistently throughout the chapter: in the photography props (ie. tablecloths, straws, etc.) and the featured ‘tips’ sections that accompany the recipes.

The book features an introductory chapter called Building Blocks of Vegan Cuisine, which includes useful information about kitchen equipment, pantry essentials, egg substitutes, nondairy milks, and more. This section is peppered with brief recipes that highlight vegan whole foods, including Nut Milk, Refried Bean-style Dip, and Quinoa Tabbouleh.

The pages are thick and robust, which may seem like a trivial consideration. But, it becomes an important quality in a well-loved and frequently thumbed cook book.

What am I cooking next?

It’s a toss up between Satay Shiitake Mushroom and Eggplant Kebab Wraps and Tempeh, Eggplant and Sweet Potato Lasagne. Or, I may go straight for the Chocolate Mousse Tart with Raspberries.

Curious about the burger on the cover?

That’s a Portobello Burger with the Lot.

With a scrumptious collection of recipes covering a wide range of categories, my copy of the book is fast becoming well-thumbed. In my experience thus far, Veganissimo! lives up to its name. The food is truly beautiful, in both appearance and taste. And, as I have indicated, the layout of the book is visually appealing and easy to navigate.

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If it would thrill you to see the colourful cover of Veganissimo! perched among your cook book collection, or if you think the book would be the perfect gift for a special vegan in your life, you can purchase a copy here or here.

About Leigh Drew

Leigh is based in Sydney, Australia, and has been vegan for over a decade. Veganissimo! is her third cook book.

Disclosure: A free copy of the book was provided to me by Arbon Publishers. All opinions expressed are my own (except those attributed to the tiny vegans, Mat, and my sister – of course!).

Tomorrow, I feature a recipe from Veganissimo!

Ally

{Recipe} Nut-free lunchbox snacks: chilli and parsley crackers; oaty carob bites

The following recipes are suitable for a nut-free lunchbox.

Many of the lunchbox snacks that I prepare at home contain nuts, as my school-aged tiny vegans are not restricted from bringing nuts to school. However, 4 year old Tiny Vegan began attending a ‘nut-free’ pre-school earlier this year. Consequently, this has inspired me to experiment with nut-free lunchbox snacks.

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These tasty crackers consist of dried chilli flakes, fresh parsley, nutritional yeast, ground flaxseeds, tahini, oats and brown rice flour.

This recipe was inspired by a gluten-free cracker that I featured during Vegan MoFo. I decided to experiment with a nut-free cracker recipe that consists of pantry staples – like dried chilli flakes and tahini – and fresh herbs. I chose parsley as it grows so abundantly in our little herb garden.

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Ingredients

(Quantity – approximately 40 small crackers)

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (savoury yeast flakes)

1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds (golden or brown)

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 – 1/4 tsp chilli flakes

1 tightly packed tsp of finely chopped fresh parsley

1/4 tsp asofoetida (hing) or garlic powder

2 tsp tahini (sesame paste)

5 Tbsp water

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/160C fan-forced/350F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Use a food processor or coffee grinder to grind the oats to a fine flour. Add the oats to a mixing bowl.

3. Add the remaining dry ingredients, including the fresh parsley and chilli flakes.

4. Add the tahini and water. Mix well with a spatula or fork, then use your hands to form the mixture into a ball of dough.

5. Sprinkle brown rice flour onto a wooden board or kitchen counter. Knead the dough for several minutes on the floured surface, then divide the dough it into about 6 segments*. Use a rolling pin to roll each segment, one at a time, to a thickness of about 3mm. Use a pizza cutter (or knife) to cut the dough into small crackers, roughly 4cm x 4cm.

6. Transfer the crackers to the baking tray. Prick each cracker with the prongs of a fork a couple of times. Bake for approximately 15 -18 minutes, or until the crackers are a light golden brown colour.

7. The crackers will harden as they cool. Once cooled, store in an air tight container.

*I divide the dough into segments as I find it easier to ‘manage’ (ie. roll and cut) a smaller quantity of dough.

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The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

The tiny vegans are enthusiastic about spicy food, so I use the full 1/4 tsp in this recipe. If you – or your kids – are not keen on spicy crackers, use 1/8 tsp for a subtler ‘kick’.

The tiny vegans enjoy these crackers plain, or with dips like hummus.

***

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This recipe is a nut-free version of a recipe that I developed for Vegan MoFo, Nutty Cinnamon Bites.

Ingredients

1 cup oats

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup raw carob powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup dates

1/2 cup sultanas or pitted prunes

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

coconut sugar and/or shredded coconut for coating

Method

1. Place all of the ingredients into a food processor in the order that they are listed.

2. Process the mixture for about 2 minutes, until it clumps together and forms a large ball on the blade. The mixture will stick together when pressed between your fingers and thumb.

3. To form into balls: Scoop out a heaped tablespoon of the mixture, and roll it between the palms of your hands until it forms a ball. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Roll the balls in shredded coconut and/or coconut sugar. Can be eaten immediately, or refrigerated for half an hour before serving. Store leftovers in the fridge.

4. To form into bars: Transfer the mixture from the food processor to a loaf tin lined with baking paper. Press the mixture into the tin with your fingers or a spatula. Smooth the top. Place in the freezer for a couple of hours. Remove from the freezer and cut into bars. The bars can be topped with raw cacao nibs or shredded coconut.

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The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

This recipe is a popular lunchbox snack with the tiny vegans – in ball or bar form.

Every Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe that is enjoyed by my own family. I hope your family enjoys it too.

Ally 🙂

{Recipe} Sweet and Sour Tofu and Vegetables

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This recipe consists of a sweet and sour sauce that is free of the questionable ingredients that the store-bought and restaurant versions contain. No bright pink sauce here!

I should warn you, lest you curse me afterwards. You will need to do some washing up after preparing this dish – a wok, a saucepan (two, if you cook rice), a fry pan or skillet, and an immersion blender.

But it will be worth it, I promise! The meal is scrumptious and moreish, and the food preparation stage is simple. Maybe you could offer to cook, if your partner washes up. 😉

Ingredients

(Inspired by a recipe in The Vegan Health Plan by Amanda Sweet*)

(serves 4)

250 g firm organic tofu, cubed

1 1/2 cups chopped white mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced celery

1 medium-sized red capsicum (bell pepper), chopped (equates to 1 1/4 cup chopped)

3/4 cup pineapple pieces, fresh or tinned

1 1/2 cups carrot slices

1 tomato, chopped into 8 wedges

1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger

1 tin/400g of crushed tomatoes

200ml low-sodium vegetable stock

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 Tbsp raw sugar

2 Tbsp organic cornflour

1/4 cup raw cashews

Pepper

Method

Make the sweet and sour sauce first: 

1. Use an immersion blender, blender or small food processor to liquidise the tinned tomatoes, until smooth. Set aside.

2. To a medium saucepan (on a low heat), add the cornflour. Add the stock slowly, and stir with a whisk to avoid lumps forming.

3. Once the cornflour is incorporated, add the liquidised tomatoes, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for a few minutes. Taste the sauce – if you prefer it sweeter, add additional sugar. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and set aside.

Prepare the tofu:

4. Cut the tofu into cubes and cook it in a fry pan, until lightly browned on all sides (I use my cafe-style sandwich press to brown the tofu). Set aside.

Prepare the vegetables:

5. Heat 2 Tbsp of water in a wok. Add the onions, and cook until softened.

2. Add the garlic and ginger, stir well. Cook for about 60 seconds, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the carrots and celery. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the capsicum. Cook for 60 seconds.

5. Add the mushroom and pineapple. Cook for 2 mins.

6. Add the tofu and tomatoes, and the sweet and sour sauce. Mix well. Bring the sauce to the boil, then allow it to simmer gently for 2-3 minutes.

7. Add the cashews to the wok just prior to serving. Stir through.

8. Garnish with coriander or additional cashews. Serve with brown basmati or jasmine rice.

* This book is out of print.

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The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

My daughter enjoyed this meal, as I expected. One of 7-year-old Tiny Vegan’s favourite restaurant dishes is sweet and sour ‘not-pork’. At the very least, I knew that the sauce would be well-received by him.

And it was. In fact, he happily ate the contents of his plate.

I merely refrained from including mushroom and capsicum in his serving. Which, in turn, inspired 4-year-old Tiny Vegan to request his meal minus the mushroom and capsicum.

The disdain expressed for mushrooms by some of the tiny vegans is really quite disheartening for a mushroom admirer like myself. Cooked capsicum isn’t popular either. At least they’ll eat it raw.

***

The Virtual Vegan Potluck will be upon us soon. I will be participating again. This time, in the salad section. I am incorporating the featured ingredient into my recipe – beetroot (beets). Sign up at this page by 9 November (US time).

Every Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe that is enjoyed by my own family. I hope your family enjoys it too (with or without the mushrooms!).

Ally

{Recipe} Blueberry Cheesecake (no-bake, gluten-free)

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This lilac-coloured dessert is adored by 7-year old Tiny Vegan. He requested it for his recent birthday. I was happy to comply. It was simpler to make than last year’s birthday cake: Pikachu (of Pokemon fame). 🙂

Blueberry cheesecake consists of a base and a filling.

The base contains almonds, medjool dates and raw cacao powder. These ingredients are processed in a food processor until well combined, then the mixture is pressed into a lined springform cake tin, and placed in the fridge while the filling is prepared.

The filling ingredients – organic blueberries, macadamia nuts, cashew nuts, maple syrup, lemon juice, water, and pure vanilla extract- are blended together in a high-speed blender (or food processor).

Although the base and filling are simple and quick to prepare, there are a couple of ‘inactive’ tasks that take considerable time- namely, the soaking of nuts and the cake ‘setting’ in the freezer.

The day before I require this cake, I soak the nuts for at least 4 hours. Then I make the base and filling in the early evening, and place the finished product in the freezer. The next day (after about 12 hours in the freezer), I remove the cake from the freezer, remove it from the cake tin, and refrigerate it until it is required. This ensures that we are not eating a frozen cake. We all prefer the taste and texture of the cake in its defrosted state.

However, if you want to eat a frozen cake, go for it. It is very refreshing on a hot day.

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Ingredients

the base:

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup medjool dates

2 tsp raw cacao powder or cocoa powder

the filling:

4 cups macadamia nuts or cashew nuts (or a combination), soaked for at least 4 hours in water

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen organic blueberries

1 cup water

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Method

1. The base: Process the almonds in a food processor for about 30 seconds. Add the medjool dates and cacao powder, and process until well combined. The mixture should stick together when you press it between your fingers. It should not be dry and crumbly.

2. Line the bottom (not the sides) of a springform cake tin with baking paper. Press the base mixture into the cake tin, using a large spoon or your fingers. Smooth the top of the mixture. Put the cake tin in the fridge.

3. The filling: To a high-speed blender (or food processor), add -in this order- the water, lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, nuts, and berries. Process until smooth. I use the extra large smoothie setting on my Blendtec (4 or 5 times) to reach the desired consistency. Taste the mixture. If you prefer it sweeter, add an additional tablespoon or two of maple syrup.

4. Remove the cake tin from the fridge. Pour the filling into the base, and smooth the top with a spatula. Cover the cake tin (with foil, or a large lid), and put it in the freezer until frozen.

5. Once the cake is frozen, remove it from the freezer. Remove the cover, and the springform section of the cake tin. Place a large plate over the top of the cake, and turn the cake upside down. Remove the base of the cake tin and the baking paper. Place another large plate (or a cake stand) on the base of the cake, then turn the cake over, and remove the first plate. Place the cake in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.

6. Decorate with blueberries (fresh or frozen) prior to serving.

7. Store leftover cake in the fridge.

The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts
All of the tiny vegans enjoy this cake, including Little Baker (who enjoyed licking the spatula).

Every Monday, I feature a delicious recipe that is enjoyed by my own family- I hope your family enjoys it too.
Ally

{Vegan MoFo} A recap of Vegan MoFo 2013

On the last day of Vegan MoFo, I leave you with a sample of the gluten-free recipes posted at Made of Stars during the month. In no particular order (click on the images to go to the recipes):

carobcup1

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rosemary1

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apricot1

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sunflowerintro1

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blueberry cake

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pesto1

***chocalmond1

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veganpre-schooler1

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maca1

***soupheading***

chocchai1

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shiitake1

Thank you for following my MoFo journey, and for leaving thoughtful comments.

Ally 🙂

{Recipe; Vegan MoFo} Almond Carob Tahini Bars

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These gluten-free, no-bake bars are reminiscent of tahini-based halva. They consist of a base and frosting.

Ingredients

1 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup raw pecans

2 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk

2 Tbsp coconut sugar or brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)

for the frosting:

1 cup medjool dates, pitted (about 10 large)

1/4 cup + 3 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp pure maple syrup

3 tsp carob powder

Method

1. For the base: In a food processor, process the almonds and pecans for about 45 seconds. Add the tahini, coconut sugar, almond milk and vanilla. Process until well combined, stopping to scrape the mixture from the sides of the jug with a spatula if necessary. The mixture should stick together when you press a small amount between your fingers. It should not be grainy or crumbly.

2. Press the mixture into a loaf tin lined with baking paper or foil. Smooth and flatten the surface of the mixture with the back of a spoon or your fingers. Put the base into the freezer for 30 minutes.

3. For the frosting: In a food processor, process the dates for about 20 seconds. Add the almond milk, vanilla, maple syrup and carob powder, and process until smooth.

4. Spread the frosting evenly across the base. Refrigerate for an hour.

5. Slice into bars, and serve. Store the leftovers in the freezer or fridge.

almondbars2The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

The tiny vegans enjoy date and nut-based treats, so there was never any doubt that they would enjoy this one.

The frosting is a little bit sticky, so you could make the bars without frosting if giving them to toddlers or young children, or if packing them in lunchboxes.

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I’ll see you back here tomorrow for the last day of Vegan MoFo 2013. 🙂 Thanks for sharing the journey with me.

Ally

{Recipe; Vegan MoFo} Roasted Cashew and Coriander Pesto

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We don’t seem to have much luck when it comes to growing coriander in our backyard. We are fortunate to have well-established parsley, oregano, rosemary, mint, and garlic chives plants. But coriander does not thrive in our little herb garden.

Fortunately for us, big, beautiful, fresh bunches of coriander are available for a pittance at our farmers’ market.

We use coriander in salads, stir fries, Thai curries, and pesto.

Today’s pesto recipe contains roasted cashews, raw pine nuts and coriander. The oil content ensures that it is spreadable and easily stirred through pasta shells or spirals. For a pesto recipe with a lower oil content, see this recipe.

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Cashew and Coriander Pesto

Quantity: makes 1 1/4 cups

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups raw cashews

1/4 cup pine nuts

3 tightly packed cups coriander leaves (some stem is OK)

2 cloves garlic

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method

1. Spread the cashews onto a baking tray and roast in a warm oven for about 10 minutes. Allow the cashews to cool before using them in the recipe.

2. Wash and dry the coriander leaves (I use a salad spinner), and put them in a food processor with the cashews, pine nuts and garlic cloves. Process for 30 seconds.

3. Scrape down the sides of the food processor using a spatula. Add the salt and olive oil. Process for 30 seconds.

4. Taste the pesto, and add more salt if desired. Process for a further 15 seconds (if required).

5. Serve with your preferred gluten-free pasta.

Scoop leftovers into a glass jar with a lid, and store in the fridge. Yummy on toast!

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The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

All of the tiny vegans enjoy this pesto stirred through pasta. As they find raw garlic spicy, I keep the garlic content low in this recipe.

Two cloves is low for us. 🙂

Thanks for sticking with me through Vegan MoFo. The ‘finish line’ is in site. Wishing you all a beautiful day. 🙂

Ally

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