Fabulous aquafaba crêpes.

dav

Fabulous aquafaba crêpes

Officially it’s not carnival yet (Shrove Tueday is first on 28/2 this year), but since next week is a school holiday in Belgium, today is the day all children celebrate this festival in school (and outside of school, since they will be parading out in the city streets in the afternoon). Our two were pretty excited, had neatly laid out their outfit yesterday evening, and for once, we did not have to rush them to get dressed this morning. After some extra brushes of make-up here and there, off they went, Zorro and the Elf, but not without taking a pile of pancakes with them.

At our children’s school volunteering moms and dads help a hand in baking pancakes, the traditional Shrove Tuesday treat over here. Our children are the only vegans at school, so of course I did my part. I have been baking pancakes ever since becoming vegan, usually relying upon Isa Chandra’s recipe in Veganomicon, thinning out the batter, as we actually bake thin pancakes – or crêpes, as you may (but we call them pannenkoeken) – which are nothing like the thick and fluffy pancakes eaten in Northern America. At one point I started using Karolina Tegelaars pancake recipe (Swedes are avid pancake eaters too – even in the, to me,  quite odd combination pea soup – pancakes – lingonberry jam), which is really excellent, but uses quite an amount of vegan butter. And that part I did not like so much. So lately I’ve been experimenting with aquafaba and chickpea flour (actually besan), and I have arrived at a recipe which really nails it. It still uses margarine, but not an awful lot, and next time I’ll try substituting it with rapeseed oil (with butter flavour) or a coconut oil/rapeseed oil combination. I’m quite confident this next step will be successful too.

Totally craving crêpes now, right? 🙂 I won’t let you wait for the recipe.

(And in case you would have missed it, I added a recipe index to this blog, so that all recipes from previous blog posts become easily searchable and clickable.)

 

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Zorro & the Elf

 

Fabulous Aquafaba Crêpes

  • Servings: 16 pancakes
  • Time: 30 min + 1h resting time for the batter
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 l plant-based milk (I used soy)
  • 400 g spelt flour
  • 80 g vegan butter (easily to be substituted, I think, by 50 g (deodorised) coconut oil and 20 g rapeseed oil; or just 80 g coconut oil, if you prefer that)
  • 6 TB chickpea flour
  • 12 TB aquafaba
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp vanilla (not essence, but the real vanilla from vanilla pods)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

Just fill your blender to the brim with all ingredients listed above and mix!

Then let the batter rest for about an hour, before you start baking (with a well-oiled pan). Go ahead with a ladleful of batter for each pancake, gently turning it when the batter has dried on top. Grease the pan in between pancakes.

Serve with muscovado sugar, nut butter, date syrup, blueberry jam, or whichever topping you like!

 

Sweet potato soup with coconut & lime.

 

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If you were looking for a fancy shmancy dish and you’re not a fan of sweet potatoes, then stop reading here ;-). Otherwise, please continue.

I’ve been on a sweet potato roll, for the last week or so. The reason? I asked my husband to bring home some sweet potatoes from his grocery shopping round last week, and the day after that, when I again found myself in the supermarket (which is VERY – sometimes too – conveniently located just a mere 150 m way, so I can easily pick up things I forgot the day before…), I saw the sweet potatoes were on offer: buy one package, get one for free. I went for the deal of course. So that’s why we’ve been having this gorgeous dal soup with the at least as spectacular restaurant-style naan last weekend, this chili with sweet potato instead of carrots (works great too, by the way), and the soup I’m writing about now. And since we have more sweet potatoes left, I consider making either oven-baked sweet potatoe fries, Dreena Burton’s heavenly smoky white bean-sweet potato hummus (from Vive le vegan), sweet potato rolls (got the pun?), or Isa Chandra’s sweet potato gnocchi with roasted Brussels sprouts (from Isa Does It). Chances are it’ll be the latter, for guess what, I still got heaps of Brussels sprouts  as those were on sale the week before last one (and I already roasted them, used them in soup and potato mash).

But back to the soup, which is both dead easy and filling.

 

Sweet potato soup with coconut and lime

  • Servings: 6-8 portions
  • Time: 20 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 leek
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 4 small sweet potatoes, cubed (I used about 330 g)
  • 1,5 – 2 tsp ginger (grated or finely chopped)
  • 1 – 1,5 tsp lemongrass (grated or finely chopped)
  • 1 l (= 4 cups) vegetable stock
  • 250 ml (= 1 cup) coconut milk
  • 2 TB lime juice (or more, if you like)
  • Salt and black pepper.
  • Cilantro, for garnish

Directions

Sauté the leek, together with the garlic. Add ginger and lemon grass, and then the remaining ingredients. When the sweet potato cubes have softened, puree the soup with a handheld mixer (immersion blender). If you find the soup to be too thick to  your liking, add some more water or coconut milk.

 

 

 

Vegan madeleines.

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No, I won’t start this post musing over Proust and how the shell-shaped delicacy called madeleine has more or less become a pars pro toto for A la recherche du temps perdu (speaking for myself, at least, for I quite frankly dare admit that the excerpt on madeleines is actually the only part I ever read from this novel, way back in high school). However, this is an apophasis, of course (and here some other dusty high school recollections surface, those from a lesson on Latin rhetorics). If I am honest, namely, a substantial part (not all!) of vegan cooking is about exactly this: the search for tastes inextricably linked to one’s pre-vegan days, the quest for reconstructive, but fully plant-based, recipes.

When it comes to madeleines, this culinary journey has been a meandering one, starting about four years ago, when I bought a silicone madeleine mold during a Christmas vacation in Belgium. Back home (we were living in Sweden at the time), I tried out two different madeleine recipes I found online, and was so utterly disappointed over those wasters that were totally unworthy of the madeleine label, that I stowed away the mold in a rarely used and hardly noticeable storage drawer just below the oven.

I then went on to forget all about that particular mold until one day last year, when we had already moved back to Belgium for nearly over two years, and I suddenly wondered where on earth I had left it. It dawned upon me we must have forgotten to clear out that one well-concealed drawer upon moving out. Shortly after that realization, I spotted the exact same molds in the sales corner of a local store. They were a true bargain (only €2 a piece!), so I immediately bought two of them (and in hindsight, I should have bought three :-)).

Now I had a good reason to start experimenting again, and this time I found this recipe from Green Sage, which used aquafaba. I was already blown away by the batter, and even more so by the madeleines themselves. BUT, I was disappointed by the fact my madeleines were very sticky and did not achieve that signature ‘bump’ (other than the madeleines in that original blog post, which did have it). I still don’t know what exactly I did wrong, but after three attempts I just gave up, more or less, and decided I should come up with a tweaked version which would work better for me. Since the origin of madeleines is French, I thought I should be looking for French recipes, instead ending up on fellow Belgian bloggers’ pages (in French, however), like this and this one. There I got the inspiration to partly cover the madeleines in dark chocolate (hell yeah, why hadn’t I thought of that before!?) and to open the oven door during the baking process, to let the temperature drop somewhat, as this would be beneficial to getting that particular bulging shape.

In a next step I tried combining several recipes, and first ended up with madeleines that had nicely risen but were way too dry, then, after more tweaking, the result was madeleines that were easy to remove from the molds, but were too flat.

But my patience, tweaking and tinkering was rewarded: the fifth and final recipe I tried my hands on was an absolute hit! They had nicely risen, had a tiny bump, and could be smoothly removed from the molds without sticking and breaking. So here comes the recipe, in case you would like to have a go at it yourself. Warning: these madeleines ARE addictive!

 

dav

Vegan madeleines

  • Servings: about 18 pieces
  • Time: 20 min + refrigeration time
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 130 g flour (I used spelt)
  • 80 g cane sugar
  • 100 vegan butter – I used Alsan, as that is more solid than Alpro (I find that alpro’s vegan butter is often too soft for baking; that is definitely the case when making puff pastry, for instance). Another option is using a blend of 60 g odourless coconut oil and 30 g canola oil (for instance with butter flavour). I’ve tried this too, and the result is similar to the one with Alsan.
  • 7 TB aquafaba
  • 2,5 tsp lemon zest
  • 1,5 tsp baking powder
  • 0,5 tsp salt
  • optional: some drops of vanilla-butter flavouring

Directions

Whisk all ingredients until you have a smooth batter. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Grease the pan and dust it with flour. Then drop a tablespoon of the batter in your mold for each madeleine. Preheat the oven at 220 degrees C (if you do not use silicone molds, you can even increase the heat to 240 degrees). Bake the madeleines for 6 minutes at 220 degrees, then open the oven door and let the temperature drop to 200 degrees and let the madeleines bake for 4-6 more minutes (I advise to just keep an eye on them, so that you see when it’s time to turn off the oven; they should have turned nicely golden). When they’re done, leave the oven door ajar, and let the madeleines sit for about fifteen minutes. Then remove them from the oven ánd from the mold, and let them cool on a grid.

For chocolate covered madeleines, melt some chocolate, drop half a (tea)spoonful in each individual madeleine mold and make sure the mold is entirely lined with chocolate (use a brush or just a finger to distribute the chocolate evenly), and then gently press the cooled-off madeleines back into the mold. Let cool (in a freezer it just takes five minutes), and then remove the madeleines from the mold.

dav

Cannelloni with tofu ricotta and spinach.

dav

Monday dinners have become synonymous to swift solutions in our household. Since the after-school time period on that particular weekday is filled with the occasional quick library visit with the children and, after that, their weekly swimming class (this combo is only possible because the library is next door to the sports facilities), I always make sure that I have something at hand that can either be quickly prepared on the spot, like this Pasta Galberto, or something – and that is most often the case – a pre-made dish that can be popped into the oven as soon as we arrive home. A shepherd’s pie, for instance, or the good old favourite lasagne, or, on occasion, these cannelloni with a tofu ricotta and spinach-basil filling, which have become a family favourite too, and which are totally easy to make, even more so if you have a simple food processor.

I made several versions of this dish, each time making subtle variations, until I finally arrived at this one, which I am now fully satisfied with. You don’t need any specialty ingredients (firm tofu, basil, spinach, cashews for this creamy cheese (which you can make in advance), some nutritional yeast, tomatoes,..) – except if you would add a vegan cheese topping, which is totally optional, but which I mostly do, mostly for optical reasons. You could sprinkle the marinara sauce on top with homemade nut parmesan, for instance, or use storebought vegan cheese. Many vegans are not fond of the regular vegan cheeses that supermarkets or health food stores carry, whether it might be because they often are highly processed food items, or because they might not meet their pre-vegan tastebud standards. Be it as it may, there are actually some good vegan cheeses out there, even if it might take you some time to figure out which are appealing to you. And moreover, not all are highly processed either. For the cannelloni dish in these photo series, I used MozzaRisella, a rice-based vegan mozzarella, which does not contain any odd ingredients and which actually melts really nicely as you can see.

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This is what the cannelloni looked like before baking (and still during daylight):

dav

 

Cannelloni with tofu ricotta and spinach

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 40 min
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

Tofu ricotta with spinach and basil
  • 400 g firm tofu, straight from the package (only drained, not pressed)
  • 100g spinach (for me that means the equivalent of 4 frozen – and thawed – 25 spinach ‘nuggets’)
  • 15 g or a very dense handful fresh basil
  • 3 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 3 TBSP cashew cheese (or another soft cheese of your choice, like vegan cream cheese or vegan mozzarella)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • crushed black pepper
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
Marinara sauce
  • 1 onion
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp agave syrup
  • some salt and black pepper

Optional: grated vegan cheese for garnish.

And of course you’ll need cannelloni.

Directions

For the tofu ricotta

Add the tofu to the food processor and give it just a few whizzes, just enough for the tofu to get crumbly (or just crumble it with your hands in a bowl). Remove from the food processor, add to a bowl, and set aside.

Add all the other ingredients to the food processor and mix until finely chopped (but not until it is a thickish paste). Add to the bowl and gently fold it under the tofu.

Take a piping bag or a ziploc bag with a cut-off corner (the same diameter of the cannelloni), fill it with the tofu-spinach mixture, and you’re set to go to fill the cannelloni.

For the marinara sauce

Sauté the onion until translucent in some olive oil, then add the garlic, and all remaining ingredients. Simmer for a couple of minutes and then pour over the cannelloni. Garnish with vegan cheese if you like. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 200 degrees C.

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Purple carrot & beet soup.

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A short while ago I came across this mouthwatering recipe of vegetable crisps with sweet potato, parsnip and beetroot, so when I spotted a basket of beautiful multicoloured beets in our local supermarket, I decided to buy those, along with purple and yellow carrots, and have a go at the recipe.

Of course two weeks went by and still I had not ventured into the realm of homemade, oven baked crisps, partly held back by the fear of them not turning out as beautifully crisp and crunchy as the promise held by the video tutorial. Partly because I rather felt like winding down in the evening, rather then putting my apron back on. So there they were, these yellow, purple and pink beauties, unrightfully ignored. So I decided to make a soup with them instead, since my husband is quite fond of beets and soup (I abandoned the idea of a second go at purple carrot-potato mash; I made it once, and the children did not find the purple-pink colour very appealing as it was not what they are used to having on their plate).

Apart from beets and carrots, I added a red onion, a red bell pepper, and some red wine. No seasonings and frills, as this sweet soup is actually good to go as it is.

If you’re into Valentine-themed food, then this pinkish-purple soup might be something for you. You can even add creamy dots that easily transform into a heart-shaped garland with the swift touch of a toothpick.

purple carrot and beet soup

  • Servings: 10
  • Time: 30 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 red onion
  • 4 beets (I used 2 pinkish white, 1 white and 1 yellow beet, but you can just use regular beets too)
  • 5 purple carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup or 60 ml red wine
  • 10 cups or 2,5 l vegetable stock
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Optional: a dash of sweet paprika and/or caraway
  • Chives, parsley, vegan cream for garnish

Directions

Sauté the onion, then pour in the wine and add the rest of the veggies and the stock. Let simmer until all vegetables have softened, then blend until smooth. Add more water if you want to thin out the soup.

 

 

Lemon curd cheesecake.

dav

vegan lemon curd cheesecake

Everyone knows cheesecake (I guess). But the cheesecake I grew up with was not the kind of cheesecake made with cream cheese. Instead, it had curd cheese in it, and the one my mom used to bake (and still does) was based upon a recipe she had gotten from a neighbour who, in her turn, had it from her husband’s German relatives. In German, this is called Käsekuchen or Quarkkuchen. The Austrians have their own word for it, Topfenkuchen. As far as my research indicated, the correct English term would be lemon curd cheese (the recipe indeed includes lemon zest and juice). But do correct me if I’m wrong.

When turning vegan about 12 years ago, I stopped having this marvellous cake which, apart from curd cheese, also has quite some eggs. But then after analysing numerous recipes of veganised versions, I started making my own curd cheesecake based upon a mixture of silken tofu and firm tofu. It actually worked and it was quite a decent cake. But now I have been able to bring the art of lemon curd cheesecake baking to top-level quality. And all thanks to two new ingredients. The first one being the soy-based curd cheese alpro has launched  (its organic counterpart provamel did the same), and which really tastes like I recall curd cheese to taste. The second one being aquafaba (ok, admittedly, that is not something new, but the insight that this chickpea liquid actually has distinct eggwhite-like qualities still is relatively recent). The addition of aquafaba is not strictly necessary, but it does add a sublime airiness to the cake’s texture. Take these two ingredients, and you’ll get a curd cheesecake that no one will ever suspect to be vegan in the first place.

So here you go!

 

dav

vegan lemon curd cheesecake

 

Lemon curd cheesecake.

  • Servings: 12 decent slices
  • Time: 1h 30 min
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

Crust

  • 300 g flour
  • 100 g vegan butter
  • 75 g cane sugar
  • 15 g baking powder
  • 1/4 cup water

Curd cheese filling

  • 2 packages (400 g each) alpro Go On plain (curd cheese/strained yoghurt)
  • 100 g cane sugar
  • 15 g baking powder
  • 50 gram package vanilla pudding powder
  • 4 TB cornstarch (maizena)
  • 2 tsp vanilla-flavoured sugar
  • 250 g plant-based milk
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 TB lemon juice
  • liquid of 1 can drained chickpeas (about 10 TB)

Directions

Crust

Mix all ingredients and knead until you end up with a smooth ball of dough. Roll it out with a rolling pin and line the bottom and side of a (relatively large) springform pan with it. Use a fork to perforate the dough here and there.

Curd cheese filling

Whip the aquafaba until it forms stiff peaks (and you can hold the bowl upside down 🙂 ). Set aside.

Mix all other ingredients. When you have a smooth batter, gently fold in the whipped aquafaba. Pour into the springform pan.

Bake for an hour in a preheated oven on 160-170 degrees Celcius. Your cake will be rising during the baking process, but will somewhat collapse afterwards. When done baking, leave it to cool in the oven (with the oven door ajar) for 20 more minutes before removing it.

Let cool completely (and thus firm up) before serving.