Strawberry-rhubarb crumble pie.

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It’s been 25 days since my last blog post. The longest interval in between posts since I re-started blogging last October. To begin with, life outside of the kitchen has been too busy lately, and my head too preoccupied with other things besides blogging recipes. Moreover, Belgium’s been struck by a heat wave for the ten days or so, and those temperatures wear me down completely. A thunderstorm was initially announced for this evening, and although the forecast has been readjusted (no rain to be expected until Monday!) , a cooler wind is currently blowing, and I wanted to seize the moment to finally share a recipe which I’ve wanted to get out into the world ever since I created it last summer.

As rhubarb and strawberries are in season (you might even grow your own?), this is absolutely the time to go for this easily pleasing tangy-sweet dessert. It’s not in the pictures below, but of course you can serve this pie with some whipped cream, ice cream, or vanilla sauce (like this one from Oatly, which I wish were available in Belgium, and which my in-laws were so kind to bring home a couple of packages of from their Sweden trip recently – thanks again!).

 

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strawberry-rhubarb crumble pie

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 2h
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

PIE
  • 120 g cane sugar
  • 150 g vegan butter
  • 8-10 TB aquafaba
  • 3 TB cornstarch
  • 1 tl vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup vegan cream (I used soy cream)
  • 50 g vanilla pudding powder (which basically is cornstarch + vanilla)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 300 g spelt flour
  • 150 g strawberries, quartered
  • 150 g rhubarb, chopped
EXTRA FRUIT
  • 75 g strawberries
  • 75 gram rhubarb
CRUMB LAYER
  • 75 g vegan butter
  • 100 g spelt flour
  • 75 g cane sugar
  • dash of salt

Directions

  • Mix sugar and margarine until creamy. Add the vanilla and the aquafaba, and subsequently the cream, until you get a creamy mixture. Add the flour, cornstarch vanilla pudding powder and baking powder and stir decently.
  • Now mix in the strawberry and rhubarb pieces.
  • Distribute the batter evenly over a pie pan (28 cm in diameter)
  • Now layer the extra chopped fruit on top of the batter.
  • Finally make the crumbs: mix all ingredients until they form crumbs, and use them to create a top crumb layer.
  • Bake the crumble pie for 60 minutes in a preheated oven on 175-180 degrees Celcius.

 

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Samphire paëlla.

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I never had any paëlla before turning vegan or even vegetarian. Growing up in eighties and early nineties Belgium, one’s food on average did not get much more exotic than, let’s say, a pineapple topped pizza with a charred black olive in the middle. (An olive which I always immediately discarded and made me esteem its kind quite lowly for quite some time to come. That’s what I thought olives generically were supposed to look and taste like.) It was a time when broccoli had not become mainstream; neither had things like hummus or sun-dried tomatoes, all of which are part of our staple nowadays.

But even if paëlla had been a commonplace dish back then, I am sure I would have kindly declined every invitation to have some. Paëlla usually contains seafood (though each Spanish region most certainly has its own variation and key ingredients). And I happen to dislike (nearly) all things stemming from the sea’s salty waves. So even before turning vegetarian (and later vegan), seafood and fish were a no-go for me.

In the light of the above, it might seem utterly ironic that one of the first dishes I mastered as a vegetarian, was paëlla. Over the course of years the initially basic dish has become one which does not fail to convince vegans and non-vegans alike. Instead of seafood, my version contains cashews (for the bite), tangy, brine-cured, firmly textured Kalamata olives, and samphire. Although samphire is a sea vegetable, I actually do like it. Its salty taste is not overpowering, yet adds just that little extra which finishes the dish.

So this is how it goes.

Samphire paëlla

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy to medium
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Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp curcuma
  • 1 – 2 tsp sweet paprika (feel free to use a dash of smoked paprika)
  • a few pinches of saffron
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups short-grain rice (such as calasparra rice; though feel free to use what type you have at hand. I’m not ashamed to admit that I often use arborio or carnaroli rice instead).
  • 4-6 cups vegetable stock, or more if necessary. Substitute 1/2 cup of the broth with sherry, if desired
  • 2-3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 3/4 – 1 cup grilled artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup cashews
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 kalamata olives
  •  1 cup samphire (blanched during 30 seconds)
  • a splash of lemon juice
  • some finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions

  • Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil; add the spices after 2 minutes and stir.
  • After 1-2 more minutes, add the rice, and stir, so that the rice is evenly coated by the spices.
  • Pour in the liquid (don’t add everything at once; you can add more later if necessary) and stir shortly
  • Add in the vegetables (except for the samphire, peas and olives) and mix them unter the rice.
  • Lower the heat and let simmer until all liquid has been absorbed. Add more if necessary. In principle you needn’t stir the paëlla in the meantime.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir to distribute them evenly.
  • Serve!

Thai tofu-mango pasta salad.

davA little over a week ago my 7-year-old son was away on a 2-day field trip with school: the perfect occasion to toss together a summery pasta salad with an Asian touch in which mango – a fruit much enjoyed by my daughter, but detested by my son (unless it’s in a smoothie) – is a key ingredient. Pasta, mango, tofu – what’s not to like?

Even though this is a very straightforward recipe, it does require some advance planning, as it contains marinated tofu. And the secret to successfully marinated tofu is – apart from a good marinade of course – time. Plenty of it. This tofu will be at its best when at least marinated overnight (I actually usually let it sit in the fridge for two days). I can promise you this tofu will be worth the wait, as it’s absolutely heavenly.

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Thai tofu-mango pasta salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 minutes + 1 night for marinating the tofu
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Thai marinated tofu

  • 400 g pressed (do not skip the pressing part) and cubed tofu
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 knob of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 – 1/3 stalk of lemongrass, grated or finely chopped
  • 3 TB agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 TB lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil (or other oil of your choice

Pasta salad

  • marinated tofu (see above)
  • ca. 350 g pasta shapes of your choice
  • 1 diced mango
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup grated coconut, toasted
  • 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
  • a handful of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB vegan ‘oyster’ and mushroom sauce (or if you cannot find this: 1 more TB of soy sauce)
  • 1 TB sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek (chili paste)
  • 4 TB lime juice
  • 2 TB agave syrup

Directions

Marinated tofu

  • Mix all ingredients and pour into a container (with a lid), together with the pressed and cubed tofu.
  • Let sit overnight. Shake the container every now and then, so that the marinade is evenly distributed.

Pasta salad

  • Heat some oil in a skillet and sauté the tofu cubes until nicely browned. When you want to add some extra crispness, sprinkle some arrowroot or cornstarch over the tofu cubes, toss around the cubes until the starch is evenly distributed, and fry. Set aside when done.
  • Boil the pasta, drain, and set aside until somewhat cooled.
  • Take a bowl and toss in the pasta, the tofu cubes and all remaining ingredients. Mix well, and enjoy your meal.

Donuts.

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Last weekend did not only feature my udon noodle soup premiere, but also my first time ever for baking donuts. My daughter was going to a birthday party (actually two that weekend) and I always give something along, so that she has the option to eat something vegan. Now the (first) birthday boy in question had been announcing in class that there would be donuts at his party. With little time on my hands on a Saturday morning, I looked for the quickest donut recipe I could find. The first recipe (more or less) looked easy and tasty enough, but in the midst of making the batter I realized that donuts are supposed to be yeast-based, whereas this recipe contained baking powder. I had crossed the point of no return, so I just went ahead and fried the donuts. They were extremely dense and heavy, but my daughter was totally thrilled nonetheless at the prospect of getting 3 donuts (yes, I always tend to exaggerate). And a bit in tears at pick-up time that two boys had each taken one of her donuts (as it turned out, hers were ironically the only (wannabe) donuts at the party, where waffles and cupcakes were served), so that she was left with “only” one (it did count for at least two).

I quickly consoled her with the promise that I would be baking new ones the day after to take with us as a coffee table treat when visiting vegan friends. And even better ones this time. And so I did.

I found a recipe on a blog called Darth Vegan, and I decided to give them a try, despite one of the ingredients listed being coconut milk. There was the minor fear that the taste of coconut would be overpowering, but I decided to go for it anyhow. Looking back I certainly do not regret doing so! These were totally easy to make, the dough was a charm to handle, and the donuts tasted, well, like REAL donuts. Needless to say all vegan kids around the table were totally thrilled and devoured them in no time.

If it weren’t for all the fat (I fried them in coconut oil), I’d make a batch of these every week. But as it’s the plan to spend some of our summertime on Italian beaches, that wouldn’t be the best plan I guess. At least not when speaking for myself. So this will be just a once-in-a-while treat from now on.

Donuts (Darth Vegan style)

  • Servings: 15
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 2 TB lukewarm water
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (the kind I buy, the home brand of Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize, is very rich and creamy and hardly contains any liquid. Good value for money.)
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (this is roughly the amount one apple yields; you can quickly make apple sauce in the microwave)
  • 2 TB vegan butter or oil
  • 2 1/2 cups flour

Directions

  • Mix water and yeast and let sit for a couple of minutes until foamy.
  • Take a large bowl and combine coconut milk, sugar, salt, applesauce, and oil/margarine.
  • Add the foamy yeast/water mixture, the flour, and stir until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it’s to sticky.
  • Let rise until doubled in volume.
  • Roll out the dough to 2 cm thickness and cut out donut shapes (I used a glass and the piping piece of a piping bag for the centre).
  • Let rest until doubled in size.
  • Heat the oil in a pot.  To test whether the oil is hot enough, test with a small piece of dough: if the oil is sizzling when you add the lump of dough, then it’s ok to start frying.
  • Fry the donuts for 30-45 seconds on one side, until golden, then turn and fry them on the other side.
  • When done, transfer to a plate lined with paper kitchen towels and let cool.
  • Decorate them. (I decorated them with either a chocolate ganache (vegan chocolate + soy cream), partly with strawberry icing (half a strawberry mixed with icing sugar), and with vegan sprinkles).

     

 

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Udon noodle soup.

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Up until today, I had never made udon noodle soup. Never. Go figure. It just happened to be this way, right until 5 to 12 this noon when I urgently needed to start prepping lunch. My husband suggested we’d have some soup, and this triggered my mind to start wandering back to the package of brown rice udon noodles I earlier this week had considered using in a stir-fry, only to eventually toss away the idea.

So now I again grabbed that very same package from the drawer and thought I actually might use those in a soup, rather than in a stir-fry. To give the soup a Japanese touch, I started out with a base of roasted sesame oil, ginger, tamari and rice wine vinegar, and I used a variety of veggies which I had around (being some leftover broccoli and zucchini, celery, spinach, red bell pepper and baby corn). Today is the 1st of May aka Labour Day, so shops are closed and I had to make do with what I had in my fridge. A fridge which, quite frankly, is pretty full, since we went grocery shopping only two days ago. But no bok choy or shiitake mushrooms. Not that that was any problem, however, because the soup turned out marvellously well without too.

I dare say I was pretty pleased with the result, the more so because the children seemed to enjoy their portions and my husband exclaimed several times how delicious this was. He has even already secured the single leftover soup bowl for this evening (we’re having scrap dinner, featuring three types of leftovers), so that definitely means something!

I cannot but wonder what took me so long to use udon noodles in soup. They always rather left me kind of disappointed in stir-fries, so I guess from now on, I’ll just stick to the ultimately safe noodle & soup combo.

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Udon noodle soup.

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2TB roasted sesame oil
  • 1 onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 knob ginger (sliced/grated/chopped – as you prefer)
  • A variety of veggies (such as e.g. paksoi, shiitake mushrooms, celery stalks, red bell pepper, celery stalks, broccoli, baby corn,…)
  • 3 TB tamari
  • 1 TB rice wine vinegar
  • 1 TB vegan mushroom and “oyster” sauce
  • 1/2-1 tsp red chili flakes
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 5-6 cups vegetable broth
  • 250 g brown rice udon noodles
  • 2 thinly sliced spring onions, more chili flakes and sesame seeds for garnish

Directions

  • Sauté the onion in a decent splash of sesame oil, together with the ginger and garlic.
  • Add the veggies, and after some minutes also the broth, soy sauce, vegan mushroom and “oyster” sauce, rice vinegar, seasonings and broth.
  • Bring to a boil, then add the noodles.
  • After approximately 5-6 minutes, the noodles should be done and the soup ready to be served. Add a splash of lime juice and garnish with sesame seeds, spring onion and dried red pepper flakes.
  • Enjoy!

Strawberry-lemonade nice cream.

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You all know that moment, right, when your stash of initially halfway greenish and still inedible bananas suddenly, and seemingly overnight, has turned into a bunch of freckled and speckled overripe fruit? My kids call them ‘rotten bananas’, but frankly, that’s a hyperbolically pejorative denotation that does not pay them the honour they actually deserve. Just have a look at  this long list of recipe ideas (some of which are vegan, plenty of which can be veganised).

Baking chocolate chip banana bread is my standard way to use up overripe bananas, and blending them into smoothies is my favorite second. When I don’t want to use them immediately, then I chop them up and freeze them. In this scenario also another option – something I should be doing more often – comes into the picture: making nice cream (aka banana-based ice cream), which is simple, sweet and satisfying. And a totally guilt-free way of enjoying ice cream.

So making nice cream is what I did last Sunday. I had some of spring’s first strawberries in the house, and wanted to add a lemony zing as well. So banana-strawberry-lemon ice cream it was, and really, it was goooood!

Usually, when making nice cream, I start from frozen banana chunks, but this time I reversed the order. I first blended the ingredients, then froze the (delicious!) cream until it solidified. The reason? I wanted to make popsicles. Not just popsicles, but beautifully decorated popsicles with heart-shaped strawberry slices. Not the worst idea ever, and it’s doable, but actually, next time I’ll stick to the usual order of things (as in the recipe below), and reserve my silicone popsicle molds for my regular, ice cream machine made ice cream.

Nice cream popsicles demand that you keep a very close eye on them, and regularly check when they are hard enough to remove from the mold, but not too hard that they’re icy. It can be done, but it’s tricky, as nice cream freezes less well than regularly churned ice cream. My regular ice cream contains arrowroot, an ingredient that prevents crystallization. Arrowroot requires boiling the liquid before cooling, churning and finally freezing it, and in the case of nice cream that process would undermine the exact USP of the concept: the fact that you can turn (frozen) bananas into nice cream in no time, with just a few whizzes of your blender.

In the pics below you can see that the popsicle my daughter holds has more or less the desired consistency. In the first pic, which was taken 1,5h later, you do notice that the ice cream has already turned rather icy.

Anyway, to cut a long story short: the ice cream tasted amazing, the children were happy, and this is definitely something I’ll be making again in the future, be it in the traditional way: freezing, blending, scooping, eating!

strawberry-lemonade ice cream

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 5 minutes + advance freezing
  • Difficulty: super easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 bananas (cut in chunks and frozen)
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries (preferably frozen as well)
  • 2 TB vanilla soy yoghurt (can be omitted)
  • pinch of vanilla
  • 1 TB grated lemon (I usually keep lemons in the freezer, which I take out and grate when I need some lemon zest or lemon juice.)

Directions

Blend all ingredients until they have a soft serve-like consistency. If the mass is too soft, then freeze it for maximum one hour before eating it.

Enjoy!

 

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Liège waffles.

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A blog post on waffles on a Belgian blog – it’s the worst kind of cliché, but there’s hardly any way avoiding it. And why would one, actually? There’s a reason why waffles are as highly acclaimed a treat as they are, right?

Of course there’s no such thing as ‘the’ Belgian waffle. There are different types of waffles. They come in various shapes and consistency (rectangular, round, thick, thin, hard, chewy, soft and crisp), they can have a creamy vanilla, syrupy, or fruit filling, they can come with toppings (strawberries, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, sugar,…), or they can just be eaten plain.

In this post I’ll restrict myself to the sturdy Liège waffle, which is the type of waffle you most commonly find in Belgian shopping streets, penetrating the air with their irresistible, seductive sweet smell, thus luring tourists to street vendors’ waffle stalls.

I won’t lie: I don’t have any street vendor’s recipe, though I wish I had. But I am also totally honest when I write that these waffles are totally awesome too. They have been multiply assessed and approbated by the most critical audience: children between 5 and 8, also those who are accustomed to the ‘regular’ waffles containing eggs and dairy.

So there you go, try for yourself!

Liège waffles

  • Servings: 16-18
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 dl water
  • 1 dl soy milk
  • 500 g spelt flour
  • 6 TB aquafaba
  • 2 TB chickpea flour (besan)
  • 180 g unrefined cane sugar
  • 60 g pearl sugar
  • 175 g vegan butter, melted (or a combination of butter-flavoured rapeseed oil and coconut oil)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 package dry yeast (7 g – equivalent of 21 g fresh yeast)

Directions

Mix all ingredients, let sit for half an hour, and then bake away in a hot and greased waffle iron. You can eat them immediately after baking, or you can cover them with melted chocolate first, and then ket them cool. They can easily be frozen and thawed.

Leek-pea risotto with lemon & thyme.

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Spring has arrived, trees are blossoming all around, and then it’s almost time for asparagus. Roasted asparagus, asparagus salad, and -of course! – asparagus risotto. But we’re not entirely there yet. When I checked last week, our supermarket only had asparagus on offer with serious mileage attached. So I decided to wait until local green asparagus becomes available – which is like anytime now – and to cook a leek risotto instead, which, in fact, as far as I’m concerned, is every bit(e) as good and is, with its hint of lemon and thyme, equally capable of conveying a decent sense of spring.

Lemon, thyme, leek and peas make a pretty good combo, and it’s a child-friendly one on top of that. I remember that as a tiny one-year-old, my son would amaze me each time, eating no less than three portions of this risotto. It’s a dish he now, 6 years later, still loves. And so does his sister.

leek-pea risotto with lemon & thyme

  • Servings: 3 to 4
  • Time: 30 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2,5 dl or 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 leeks (white parts; don’t discard the green parts: chop finely, wash thoroughly, and freeze for later use in e.g. soup)
  • 0,8 dl or 1/3 white wine
  • 6-7 dl (or 2,5 cups) vegetable stock (adjust the quantity to your need)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp salt (or more)
  • 0,5 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1,8 dl or 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 TB lemon juice (I usually have some lemons at hand in the freezer – next to fresh ones -, and you can just grate frozen lemon too, both the zest and the fruit itself)
  • 3 TB nutritional yeast, also called nooch amongst vegans 🙂 (make sure to use a decent brand, as taste varies greatly from brand to brand, and whereas some types are really awesome, others may be downright disgusting (at least according to my experience). I like the nooch from Vitam, but totally avoid the Rapunzel brand, for instance, which ironically is most widely available where I live.)

Directions

  • Heat the oil and add the arborio rice. Stir until the rice is translucent.
  • Add the wine, and when the wine has evaporated, move over to the leeks and some of the stock (not all of the stock, as you’ll be adding it in batches), as well as the garlic, thyme, salt and black pepper.
  • Stir until all liquid has been absorbed, then add some more. Repeat this process until all stock has been used, or until the rice has softened completely. Mind that the rice should not become mushy, but should still have some bite. If the rice needs more liquid, then add some more water, until the risotto has reached the consistency you’re looking for.
  • Bring to taste with lemon juice (or grated lemon, see ingredients), nutritional yeast, and perhaps more salt and pepper if you like. If you’re a fan of vegan parmezan (I am not ashamed to admit that I am!), you can of course cover your risotto with a decent layer of grated vegan parmezan. But if you’re not, or if you can’t get your hands on some where you live, then never mind: this risotto will do what it promises without the parm just as well :-).

Apple-vanilla tartlets.

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Since 2011 there’s this initiative in (the Flemish part of) Belgium  called “dagen zonder vlees” [days without meat] that challenges people to abstain from meat (and fish) during the 40 days of Lent. A good initiative, as it might help some realize that, one, their standard way of eating is very much centred around animal products, and two, that eating vegetarian is not as hard as they initially thought it would be. A few among those already adhering to a vegetarian lifestyle might seize the opportunity of this challenge to take their vegetarianism one step further and look into the new horizons veganism might open up for them. One of my friends is currently doing exactly that, and has become aware of how dairy and egg-based her day-to-day diet actually is. Another acquaintance made the actual switch to veganism during such a previous edition.

So what’s in it for vegans? Well, there are of course some options for them (us) too if one wishes (but I don’t 🙂 ). One acquaintance decided to go raw during those 40 days a couple of years ago, and another edition inspired him to temporarily ditch sugar. Whereas I absolutely can’t see myself either limiting myself to a raw-food lifestyle, even if it isn’t but for a short period of time, or cutting out all sugar – I neither aim for such a restriction, nor do I see the point if one already eats a balanced plant-based diet -, I can see the benefits of increasing the amount of non-processed foods and limiting the use of sugar. The latter inspired me to make a healthier version of the vanilla-apple tartlets I’ve been making for nearly a decade (apples needn’t always be paired with cinnamon – vanilla makes for more than a worthy variation). This healthier version includes – instead of ready-made puff pastry – a homemade crust containing chickpea flour and olive oil, and also subs date caramel for the cane sugar in the apple filling. Although this date-sweetened version is slightly less sweet than the original, it definitely tastes as good, and I liked the – very neutral tasting and easy-to-handle – crust so much, that I definitely regard it as a keeper.

So go ahead, try this, and enjoy!

And if you’re short on time or don’t have dates at hand, just go for the quicker, puff pastry- and sugar-based tartlets after all :-).

apple-vanilla tartlets

  • Servings: 12 tartlets or 8 handpies
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

Apple filling
  • 4 sweet apples: peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 60 g sugar or for the sugar-free option: 5 soaked and subsequently pureed medjool dates + 2 TB of the soaking water
  • 70 g, finely chopped (I used a mix of almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts)
  • 60 g raisins
  • 100 g flour
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I used scraped vanilla)
  • 2 tsp vanilla-infused rum (which is basically vanilla essence)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Dough

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 3/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 cup soy yoghurt
  • 2 tsp agave syrup
  • pinch of salt

The amount of dough is sufficient to either make 8 handpies, or to line about 12 tartlet forms like the ones I used.

Directions

Apple filling

Mix all ingredients. (See, this was easy, wasn’t it?)

Dough

Making the dough is as uncomplicated as making the apple filling: mix all ingredients and knead until you obtain subtle dough.

Roll out and either use it to line your tartlet forms or to make handpies (I used a breakfast bowl to obtain the round shape for the handpies).

For tartlets: line the forms with rolled-out dough, and scoop some apple filling into them.

For handpies: spoon some apple filling onto one half of the (round) dough, then fold the dough and press the edges (I didn’t need/use water to seal the edges).

Bake in a preheated oven (175 degrees C) for 20 minutes, or until the crust turns golden.

 

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Black pepper stir fry with marinated tofu.

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If you are in search of a delectable stir fry, you needn’t look any further: this black pepper stir fry is definitely the one!

Black pepper is something I use in just about everything, but whereas it usually isn’t but an extra (though an important one at that), in this dish it justifiedly takes a leading role. Usually we have this stir fry with these truly heavenly seitan-based balls in sesame oil from Vantastic Foods, but this time I decided to use marinated tofu instead. It was worth every single minute of extra work (which was, all in all, not that significant). Preparing tofu seems something new or non-veg(etari)ans often struggle with, as they do not know how to transform a bland block of admittedly tasteless tofu into something awesome. The trick usually (although not necessarily) involves marinade, and that is not any different here. The tofu mantra goes like this: press – marinate – fry. Simple as that. So if you’re a novice in this area, try your hands on the recipe below, and next thing you know, you’ll be a totally tofu convert and see a world of infinite possibilities opening up.

If you like things hot, be very generous with the amount of black pepper you add; if you have young children, though, like I have, first spoon out their portions, before adding the full load of spiciness. At least that’s what I’d recommend if you want them to appreciate this meal as much as you no doubt will.

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black pepper stir fry with marinated tofu

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 min + pressing and marinating tofu
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

Marinated tofu
  • ca. 400 g plain firm tofu
  • 1 TB rice vinegar
  • 4 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB vegan (!) mushroom ‘oyster’ sauce (I used this) – if you don’t have this, just leave it out, the marinade will still be superb.
  • 2 TB sesame oil
  • 1 TB agave syrup
  • 1,5 TB thinly sliced ginger
  • 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • some black pepper
  • coconut oil and 3 TB of cornstarch for the frying process
Stir fry
  • coconut oil for frying
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • about 10 ears of baby corn
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • a large handful of broccoli florets
  • 1 – 1,5 TB freshly cracked black pepper corns (I use mortar and pestle here)
  • 3 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB sesame oil
  • 1 TB agave syrup
  • 2-3 TB cornstarch dissolved in 6-8 TB of water
  • sesame seeds and sliced scallions for garnish

Directions

Marinated tofu
  • Remove the tofu from the package, wrap in a clean kitchen towel, place a small cutting board on top and some items with a significant weight (like a carton of soy milk or a can of kidney beans, or whatever you come across in your kitchen). Press the tofu for at least half an hour, remove from the towel (which now should be soaked), and cut in small cubes (or triangles, or whatever shape you like :-)). Transfer the cubes to an airtight container.
  • Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and pour over the tofu.
  • Let sit for at least half a day, preferably overnight.
Stir fry
  • Remove the tofu from the container, and keep the excess marinade, as you’ll need it for the stir fry sauce.
  • Heat some coconut oil in a skillet for stir frying and add the drained tofu cubes. Sprinkle 3 TB of cornstarch over the cubes and make sure they get evenly coated. Stir fry until nicely browned and a bit crisp. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  • Heat some more coconut oil and add the carrots, thereafter the softer vegetables, one by one. Pour the leftover marinade over the vegetables and add the remaining ingredients for the stir fry. Make sure not to stir fry the vegetables too long; they should still have a bite when served. So when the vegetables are fork-tender, again add the tofu to the stir fry, and make sure it get’s nicely coated with the stir fry sauce.
  • Serve over rice, and sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds.

 

dav