Saturday, 24 March 2012

Smokey Roast Tomato, Parsley and Almond Pesto.

Be still my heart.



Pesto. Where do I even begin. Pesto was and is the staple food of my house. The fresh, garlicy flavour is the taste of my childhood. Forget pizza night. We had pesto night. But as I got older and my tastebuds matured I began to stray from the classic basil and parmesan version. Today my pesto reptoir includes coconut coriander, rocket and almond, feta and kale.... Not to mention countless other variations.



This pesto has a rich tomato flavour which is elevated by smokey paprika tones, sweet nutty almonds, fresh parsley and cheesy nutritional yeast.



Smother over toasted bread, dunk in brocilli florets, stir through spelt pasta or use it to add a sparkle to salad. This pesto will bring a smile to anyones face.



The juicey tomatoes allow for a lower oil content so feel free to just eat this by the spoon.



Lets just say... I'm smitten. :)
I've also made my way through 3 heads of brocilli today. Nom nom nom.



Ingredients:



  • 225g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  • 2 fat garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika


1. Roast the cherry tomatoes til they burst and the juice flows out.

2. Blend all the ingredients together til smooth.

3. Smother on everything.


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Happiness in a Ramkin

I have discovered the secret to instant happiness (and vegan baking!). Number one.... is this instant chocolate lava cake. And number two....... drumroll.......


Is soya yogurt!!
 Personally, I was never really a big fan. I was happy with vegan milk, chocolate and other such things but never yogurt or cheese. Soya yogurt never seemed to have that much loved twang that dairy yogurt has. Well I've discovered the solution to that problem. The problem isn't actually with soya yogurt itself but with the brands on the market. They simply haven't been fermented enough. So I just buy my soya yogurt a week before I want to eat it and if its still not tangy enough for my taste I add a splash of lemon. As for cheese.... I'll post a solution to that soon ;).



It seems the entire health blogging community is obsessed with applesauce in baking. I just can't get my head around it. I think it leaves an awkward aftertaste... almost like too much baking powder. I love mashed banana in baking though. I had a brainwave the other day to use soya yogurt in baking. Sure if you can use tofu why not soya yogurt?? So I tossed together this baby.




Molten chocolate lava cake. 15 minutes from craving to spoon. The recipe for instant happiness. Instant gluten free, high protein, vegan happiness.


This a dense, moussey cake however if you want a dryer, fluffier cake you can add more flour. The rasberries and hazelnuts work beautifully with the rich chocolate. Don't leave out the square of dark chocolate! It melts in the middle to give it the molten effect.


Ingredients: (serves one)
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter 
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut palm sugar 
  • 2.5 tbsp soya yogurt
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tbsp millet flour
  • pinch of baking powder
  • pinch of baking soda
  • 1 square dark chocolate
add ins
  • 5 frozen rasberries
  • 10 toasted hazelnuts
Instructions:

1. Mix all the ingredients except the rasberries, hazelnuts and chocolate in a ramkin.

2. Push the square of chocolate into the middle of the mix.

3. Top with rasberries and hazelnuts.

4. Cook in the oven at 180 for 10 minutes.

5. Yum. Slurp.

Experiment with different nut butters, sweetners and add ins to find your favourite combination. I used cherry soya yogurt in my first one and it was lovely.



Saturday, 17 March 2012

Healthier Caramel Squares with Almonds and Sea Salt



Oaty, almond butter shortbread. A layer of thick maple caramel. Sprinkles of crunchy almonds. Luscious, silky, dark chocolate. A scatter of salty crystals.



You know you want it.


This little brainchild was born after spending an evening at the dublin food co-op. I was recently promoted from shelf stacking grunt to assistant chef for a day. Woop woop. :D I've missed kitchen work. The happy pear was one of my best experiences this year. I love the busy atmosphere, the creativity and the satisfaction; not to mention the free food!



Anyway, the unbelievable chef (Caryna), who runs the cafe pretty much on her own had baked some caramel squares. It was pretty much torture watching my mom munch her way through one. I'm not even a big caramel square fan, too sweet for me, but Caryna's just looked so incredibly beautiful with big swirls of white chocolate onto.



I was a woman on a mission, I was going to create a healthier vegan caramel square. End of story. I googled a couple of recipes to get a general idea of what goes into the original. A lot of white flour, condensed milk, golden syrup, butter and other such gunk. This was gonna require a lot of substitution. Out went the butter. In swooped the almond butter. I gave the golden syrup the boot in exchange for some lovely maple syrup. White flour was swapped for some homemade oat flour.



I wouldn't call these squares healthy. They are still incredibly sweet but they're a far cry better than the original. If I was making them for myself I'd probably removed most of the sugar from the base and remove half the sugar from the caramel but this had to pass the taste test for my mom and Jenna's sweet tooth.
Without further ado…. I present…. Healthier Caramel Squares.



Makes: 9 squares

Ingredients:

-1 cup oats
-1/4 cup almond butter
-1/8 cup brown sugar

-1/4 cup maple syrup
-1/4 cup soya milk
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-3 tablespoons cornstarch
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
-teaspoon coconut oil

-125g dark chocolate (I used 81%)
-teaspoon coconut oil
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
-2 handfuls of almonds

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2. Blend oats, almond butter and sugar til combined.

3. Press mixture firmly into tin so its 1cm thick. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

4. Meanwhile bring the maple syrup, soya milk and sugar to boil. Add the cornstarch and whisk till thickened. It will thicken more as it cools. Stir through the vanilla and coconut oil. Allow to cool. Pour over the base. Sprinkle over almonds and allow to set.

5. Melt the dark chocolate in a glass bowl over boiling water and then stir through the coconut oil. Pour on top of the caramel and then sprinkle on the sea salt. Allow it to set and then carefully cut into nine pieces.

6. Yum, yum… sticky fingered glory…

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Cranberry, Hazelnut, Wasabi Coleslaw

My mum loves hellmans mayo. I, however, amen't the biggest fan. Asides from the hydrogenated oil and battery eggs, mayonaise was never really a vice of mine. I never really understood the big deal.

I do like coleslaw though... Its crunchy and creamy and makes for great sandwiches. Making interesting sandwiches is pretty much a quest of mine. So in an attempt to ween my mum off the hellmans this coleslaw was born.

The idea of adding mustard to coleslaw is nothing new, so I decided to toss mustards asian cousin, wasabi, into the mix for a kick. As for the cranberries, they were an exotic substitution for raisins. And the hazelnuts were just pure whim... :)


This is an absolutely great side to have at a barbeque alongside some vegetarian sausages (brings me back to the days of my dads fantasic brunches...) or in a pita bread with spinach. I had amazing sourdough rye bread at hand so I used that.

I have plans for an apple, spring onion and mustard variation with red cabbage.

Sub the olive oil and water with 125ml soya milk for an oil free version.


Ingredients:

  • 100g cashew nuts
  • 75ml extra virgin olive oil 
  • 100ml water
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Sea salt
  • teaspoon wasabi powder
  • half a cabbage 
  • 3 carrots
  • handful of dried cranberries
  • 2 handfuls of toasted hazelnuts
  • fresh parsley
1. Blend the cashews, oil, water, lemon juice, garlic, salt and wasabi powder til smooth. This is your ''mayo''.

2. Shred the carrots and cabbage.

3. Pour over the mayo, mix. 

4. Stir through the hazelnuts, cranberries and parsley.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A taste of Mexico

I love ethnically themed meals because I know the flavours will work together. When you make a meal without ethnic origins its much more difficult to think of flavours that will work together. I tend to get quiet anxious when I'm preparing something completely odd. But when I prepare a meal with a theme I get a real sense of the whole thing coming together...


Kudo's to my mom for making a beautiful smokey corn soup. We adapted it from the cornicopia cookbook. It was totally delicious.. Sweet and smokey. Corn was my go to snack when I started to get into vegetables. I'd just pop open a can and munch my way through the whole lot. I haven't used it frequently of late. Maybe its because I tend to have a preference for fresh veg but it's a handy staple to have stored in your cupboards. I don't dare imagine how beautiful this soup would be if you were to used fresh corn from the cob. 


Sweet and Smokey Aztec Corn Soup

Ingredients: 

  • 300g sweetcorn (tinned, frozen or fresh)
  • 1tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1/2 leek
  • 4 cloves 
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne 
  • 1/2 tsp cinammon
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 1.5 liters boiling water
  • squirt of tomato puree


 1. Dice the onion, carrot, celery, leek and garlic. Sautee with a little water until soft. Add the dry spices

2. Meanwhile stir-fry the corn with the brown sugar.

3. Blend the stir-fried corn with the veggies and the boiling water. Season with salt and pepper and add the tomato puree.

4. Drain the beans and dice the pepper. Add to the soup along with the remaining corn. Cook until the pepper is tender but with some crunch.

5. Serve in bowls and garnish with parsley. Don't forget to slurp ;)


I came across these babies in the Dun Laoghaire Sunday Market. They are apparently a cross between a lemon and a lime. Perfect for anyone who cant decide whether to use a lemon or a lime in their guacamole!

Guacamole with Cayenne Pepper
Ingredients:
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Juice of one lemon/lime
  • salt to taste
1. Whizz the lot. Have you noticed I like my blender? :P

2. Garnish with lemon slices, cayenne and parsley.



But the meal wouldn't have been complete without...


Hot Skillet Cornbread

Ingredients:

  • 200g polenta
  • 50g kamut flour
  • 1 flax egg
  • teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • half teaspoon baking soda
  • 250ml soya milk + 1 tablespoon lemon.

1. Preheat grill to 180 degrees.

2. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry.

3. Brush a thin coating of oil onto your skillet.

4. Heat until piping hot and pour on the mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes until bubbles appear and everything except the very top is cooked.

5. Place in oven for 10 minutes until cooked.

6. Dunk in soup and smother with large quantities of creamy guacamole :D







Start the day with a 'tang'.

This little concoction has been floating my brain for a while now... I was just waiting for the morning where I really felt like it. Today was the right morning cause I needed a bit of pre run fuel but I wasn't particularily hungry so I didn't fancy much solid stuff.

Truth be told I was just so bored of the usual banana, orangejuice and berry smoothie combo. The beauty of a smoothie is that you can combined so many different ingredients to create unique new flavours. This smoothie is very tangy and not for the fainthearted. If you have a sweet tooth I would prescribe a couple of extra handfuls of grapes or a bit of agave.
 Creamy is not a word one usually associates with grapefruits. It was quiet unusual to taste these flavours together. I liked the creaminess and appreciated the protein element that the soya milk brought but I thought the smoothie would have been much more beautifully fresh if I had used coconut water as the liquid. Still, there are no regrets and thats an adventure for another day!
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soya milk/ coconut water.
  • 3 tbsp red grapes 
  • 3 tbsp blueberries
  • 1 sweet grapefruit
Just blend the lot til smooth and enjoy with a handful of almonds for a filling breakfast. :)