Tuesday, 5 May 2015
Bite sized treats are always my favourite - they're no mess and easy to eat but most of all they just look super cute. I guess the only problem is they're too easy to eat - you just keep going back for another and another and....
These little cute blueberry tartlets were delicious. They could be made with other berries too, or a mixture. Whatever you like really. They're a Russian recipe, which means they're served with a very Russian little dollop of sweetened sour cream.
2 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
2 tbsp. castor sugar
1/2 cup nuttelex (or other vegan margarine)
2/3 cup icy water
3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (unthawed)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 cup vegan sour cream
2 tbsp. castor sugar
1. To make the pastry, combine all the ingredients except the water in a food processor and blitz until you have a mixture which looks like fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add in the ice water until the mixture comes together to form a dough, it should be wet enough to hold together but not sticky enough to stick o your fingers as you form it into a ball (add more water or flour as needed t get it to the right consistency). Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
3. Combine the blueberries and corn-starch in a bowl and md until all the blueberries are coated. Add the maple syrup and stir through.
4. Take half the dough from the fridge and roll it out on a floured benchtop to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out as many 3 inch circles as you can and then re roll the scraps and cut again. Lightly grease a muffin pan and place a circle of dough in each one. Fill with as much blueberry filling as it will hold and bake for about 10 minutes, turning the tray around halfway through to ensure even cooking.
5. Repeat with all the remaining dough and filling. Cool the cooked tarts.
6. Combine the vegan sour cream with the sugar and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
7. Just before serving, add a dollop of the sweetened sour cream to the top of each little tart.
Makes about 2 dozen.
Monday, 27 April 2015
Potato curry is such a perfect dish, the potatoes are superb consistency just waiting to soak up the delicious flavours of your curry sauce. These curried potatoes are genuinely some of the best I have ever eaten (that is a really tough call!). It's made here with potato as the absolute star, but you could adapt it to be a more general veggie curry by using a range of different vegetables. This is the perfect dish to make for a potluck or party though, just exactly as it is.
The chilli in it is definitely optional, in fact I think it's just perfect without it. But you can throw in the jalapeño if you really don't like your curries mild! This recipe makes a fairly large serving, perfect for taking to a potluck or serving up at a dinner party. If you're making it for a smaller crowd or as a side dish for a family diner, try just making half.
1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 lg carrot, diced
1kg chat potatoes, peeled and halved
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cup vegetable stock
1 jalapeño, finely chopped (optional)
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Shallots (green parts only), to garnish
1. Heat oil in a wok and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes, until translucent.
2. Add the curry powder and allspice and fry for about another minute. Then add the carrot and potatoes. Cook for a further 4 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes, vegetable stock, jalapeño, balsamic vinegar and one cup of water. Bring to a boil and the reduce heat. Simmer, covered for about 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender ad cooked through.
4. Serve with rice and garnished with fresh chopped shallots.
Tuesday, 21 April 2015
It's only since I started blogging that I realised how much I love orange. It had never really occurred to me before, but since I label each post according to key ingredients and the list appears in the side bar to your right, I've discovered that 'orange' is one of my most frequently used labels. In fact, I've got almost as many recipes labelled 'orange' and I do 'chocolate'! I glanced down the list, they're a fairly equal spread of sweet and savoury. When people ask me about my favourite ingredients I never think of orange, but it turns out I use it a lot more often than many of the ones I would list as favourites.
Part of the reason is because I'm a bit addicted to home made orange curd, and use it on a lot of things :) But actually I think the main reason is the use of oranges across the whole world to add flavour to such a broad variety of dishes. Many of my orange recipes on this blog are actually part of my world food challenge posts, recipes from all different parts of the globe which use orange as a central flavour to their cooking, it's amazing when you think about how far ingredients spread around the world to be adapted and interpreted by so many different cultures. Here are a few examples of the Orange posts from all over the globe, just to highlight my point:
The Netherlands - Dutch Orange Bitters (Oranjebitter)
Tunisia - Orange Flavoured Doughnuts (Yoyo)
Brazil - Fried Rice Balls flavoured with Orange, Olive & Brazil Nuts (Bolinhos de Arroz)
Nepal - Chilli, Grapefruit and Orange Salad
Egypt - Orange & Olive Salad with Cumin
Samoa - Chocolate Orange Rice Pudding (Koko Rice)
Costa Rica - Orange & Passionfruit Pudding
We could actually add Russia to that list now, because I found and adapted these lovely Orange Teacake Biscuits when researching Russian recipes for the blog.
1 cup nuttelex (or other vegan friendly margarine or butter)
1 cup castor sugar
1 tbsp. orange zest
1 tbsp. orange juice
2 tsp orange extract
2/3 cup apple sauce (or you can use an egg replacement such as 'no egg"'to the equivalent of 2 eggs)
3 cups wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
Large granule sugar (sometimes called 'coffee sugar'), for decorating
1. Cream the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer (or some nice vigorous elbow grease, which is my most common method). Add the orange zest, juice, extract and the apple sauce and mix until completely smooth.
2. Sift in the flour and the baking power and mix well. Form your dough into a ball and wrap in cling wrap, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. In the meantime preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Cut your dough into 3 pieces and roll out the first one on a floured bench to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out whatever shapes you like and arrange on a tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Press a sprinkling of the large sugar granules into the top.
4. Bake in batches for about 8 minutes, or until just lightly golden in colour. Turn the tray around about 5 minutes into the cooking to ensure even baking. If you're using smaller than average cutters, they will need a bit less cooking time.
Makes 25-35 biscuits, depending on the size of your cutters.
Friday, 17 April 2015
A little while ago, I had a kitchen epiphany. I had a lovely dish brewing in my brain, it was going to be gorgeous and spicy. I headed to my spice rack only to find none of the star ingredient I had in mind - garam masala. Much as I hate making a trip to the shops for just one item, down I went to get the all important garam masala, only to find the shelf completely bare. I was irrationally frustrated by this, and grumped my way back home. It took a surprising amount of time for me to realise that, of course, garam masala is just a blend of spices which are all present on my insanely well-stocked spice 'rack' (I use the inverted commas there because no one rack could possibly contain all my spices, so they are in fact in there separate clusters all around my kitchen).
I couldn't quite believe I'd been so silly. So I made some myself. I have not bought garam masala since that day, because making it was easy, fun and meant that I could tweak it to include more of the spices I love the most. Making spice blends also has the benefit of making your house smell ridiculously yummy. Plus - look how much darker and richer my home made mix is compared to the months-old stuff that has been sitting in the supermarket.
My Garam Masala Blend
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
3 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1. Combine all spices in a frypan and dry roast gently until fragrant and just toasted. Allow to cool slightly and then grind into a fine powder using a spice grinders, a mortar and pestle or a food processor which has a spice grinding attachment. Keep in sealed jars and use generously.
NOTE - If you don't have whole spices and don't want to go out and get them all, you can combine the same quantities of ground
spices in a jar and use that. However, roasting them yourself before grinding really adds richness and brings out the flavours, so it's definitely preferable.
Friday, 3 April 2015
Kachumbari is a common salad eaten in various African countries including Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Congo and Chad. As part Chad Month (which was all the way back in February 2012!) I made this lovely fresh African salad (for other recipes see the links at the bottom of this post - but excuse the photos, it was right when the blog first started). I've remade it now because I really felt like eating it again, and because I thought it deserved some better photos! This time I've used a combination of red and yellow small roma tomatoes, because it just looks so pretty and these lovely yellow roma tomatoes are at my local supermarket at the moment. You can make it with a mixture of any heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes or just regular tomatoes (which would be most authentic). Given that tomatoes are the hero of the dish though, I'd encourage tasty vine-ripened ones, as if you buy tomatoes which taste like nothing then your salad won't taste like much!
The main elements of the dish are tomatoes, onion and citrus juice. There are lots of variations depending on region, this version includes cucumber and fresh chilli. If you like hot, add an extra chilli or just leave the hot bits in (the placenta -which is the white bit which the seeds are attached to - is the hot part of the chilli, not the seeds). This salad is perfect paired with the Chadian Sweet Potato Fritters (see link below) and is a light and tasty addition to any gathering, potluck or group meal.
1 small red onion, thinly sliced (or diced)
4 tomatoes, sliced (or diced)
1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced (or diced)
1 chilli, seeds & placenta removed and sliced
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
The juice of two limes
How to make:
1.Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss until well combined
2. Serve immediately.
Check out our other Chadian recipes:
Tuesday, 31 March 2015
You might have noticed a lot of lumpia on the blog this month - here is another! Lumpia are Filipino spring rolls and they come in all varieties. I've already shared fresh (lumpiang sariwa) and gorgeous fried (lumpiang prito) spring rolls, you can find links to those recipes at the bottom of this post. Lumpiang hubad is essentially the filling of the rolls and the sauce, but without wrapping them up into rolls. Same great flavours, but a 'lazy' version which doesn't involve taking the time to roll them. The peanut sauce all over it is just delicious.
I've chopped my veggies bigger than I did when making the lumpiang sariwa and prito, because I knew I wouldn't be rolling it up. You can also just make a double batch of lumpiang filling and use half for rolls and half with peanut sauce like this for another meal.
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
400g hard tofu cut into cubes
1 cup sweet potato cut into cubes
1 large carrot, cubed
1 cup chopped celery
2 tsp vegan fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup sliced green beans
1 cup cabbage
Shallots, for garnish
For the peanut sauce:
2 cups water
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup finely chopped peanuts
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp cornstarch
1. Heat oil in a large frypan or wok and add the onion and garlic. Sauté until translucent and then add the tofu and sweet potato. Cook for about 3 minutes and then add the carrots, celery and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring often.
2. Add the fish sauce and soy sauce. Once the carrot is tender, turn off the heat and stir through the green beans and cabbage. The residual heat will cook them just enough.
3. Set the filling aside to cool a little, it can be warm but not hot when you wrap up the rolls.
4. To make the sauce: Combine 1 1/2 cups water, soy sauce, brown sugar and salt in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Once all the sugar is dissolved add the peanuts and garlic and simmer for 3-4 minutes. In a cup, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water with the cornstarch and stir until smooth.
5. Stirring the sauce continually, add in the cornstarch. Stir continuously over a low heat until the mixture thickens up a bit. Remove from the heat.
7. Arrange lumping hubad in a bowl and pour the peanut sauce over the top. Garnish with chopped shallots.
This month I'm featuring lots of delicious food the Philippines.
Check out my other Filipino recipe posts:
Sunday, 29 March 2015
The Philippines is a fun country to explore, it's such a melting pot of different influences. A lot of Chinese influence has made it into their traditional dishes, and this is one of them. Pancit means noodles, so these noodles are called Cantonese Noodles in the Philippines. It's a dish of stir fried noodles with vegetables (and usually pork) similar to a chow mein. It has lots of variations, you can use any variety of mixed veggies, and a few different cooking methods. I love how easy this dish is because you cook the noodles in the broth, rather than separately, which makes it a great one-pot dish.
Filipino Pancit Canton
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
2 tbsp. oil
1 onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium-large carrots, cut into sticks
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup light soy sauce
750g dried wheat noodles
3 cups shredded green cabbage
A few handfuls of snow peas, trimmed
Generous grinding of black pepper
1. Soak shiitake mushrooms in one cup of hot water while you chop all your veggies.
2. Heat the oil in a wok and sauté the onion until just softened and then add the crushed garlic and cook for another few minutes.
3. Add the carrots, vegetable stock, soaked mushrooms, soy sauce and any liquid remaining from the mushrooms. Bring to a simmer and simmer until the carrots are just slightly softened.
4. Add the dried wheat noodles and simmer until he noodles are just cooked and have soaked up the liquid. Add the shredded green cabbage, snow peas and a generous amount of cracked pepper. The residual heat will cook them just enough. Serve immediately.
Note: Depending on the thickness and variety of your wheat noodles, liquid quantities may be variable. If your noodles have absorbed all the stock but are not quite yet cooked through, you may need to add in a little bit more liquid - make sure it is boiling hot rather than cold. Alternately, you may find that the noodles are perfectly cooked but you still have quite a bit of liquid. In this case, mix 1 tbsp. cornstarch with 2 tbsp. cold water and stir just before you take it off the heat and add the remaining veggies.
This month I'm featuring lots of delicious food the Philippines.
Check out my other Filipino recipe posts:
Friday, 20 March 2015
It's turning disticntly to Autumn here, the mornings have started to get chilli, the leaves are starting to yellow and the beautiful summer fruits are diminishing in stores. Around this time of year I like to try and preserve some of the flavours of the summer fruits so that I can enjoy them once the fruits are no longer available. Jams are a wonderful way to do this, but I'm also a big fan of infused vodkas - Strawberry & Lime Infused Vodka, Raspberry Vodka & Pineapple & Basil Vodka have featured on the blog in past years to preserve the flavours of summer fruits (plus they make great gifts).
This time around I had a big bag of plums on the verge of being over ripe, and I thought I'd try something a bit different. I love Japanese plum wine, so I thought I'd try a fresh plum infused wine. No, they're definitely not even close to being the same thing, but my fresh plum infused wine worked really beautifully.
It's not really a recipe, use whatever quantity you have or want. Use whatver type of plums you have, and choose a wine you like. I recommend starting with a mild flavoured wine, and definitely not one that is too sweet. I recommend starting with a Semillion or Semillion Savingnon Blanc. If you start with a wine that is already sweet, all the sugars in the plums will make for a very sweet wine! Mine turned out just the right amount of sweet with a mild Semillion Sauvignon Blanc, it was fresh and fruity - and a truly beautiful colour.
Plum Infused Wine
About 500-750g plums
1 bottle mild flavoured white wine
1. Wash the plums (then pat dry, you don't want to water your wine down) and then remove the seeds and slice.
2. Place in a large (probably 1 litre) clean jar and pour the wine over the top. Seal well and store in the fridge for 2-4 weeks.
Will last several months in the fridge.