Apple-vanilla tartlets.

dav

dav

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
  • 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.

 

dav

 

 

dav

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Black pepper stir fry with marinated tofu.

dav

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.

dav

black pepper stir fry with marinated tofu

  • Servings: 4
  • 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

Eggplant marinara sauce with basil & kidney beans.

dav

Yes, I know, yet another pasta dish (or rather sauce destined to be amply served over pasta). But really, who does not have pasta on the menu at least once a week? So here’s a sauce I made quite a while back but postponed blogging about, because, you know, it’s just a marinara sauce. At the same time, that’s actually not being fair, because this sauce does deserve it’s own, be it ephemeral, moment in this blog’s spotlight. How do I know? Well, benchmarked against the average reaction of my children towards eggplant-based sauces, this sauce one is top-notch. How else to explain that both wolfed down their meal (of course they were on an empty stomach, as they had just had had their swimming class, but still… :-)). And on top of that, my daughter, who in the past on more than one occasion showed herself not to be an ardent lover of eggplant (to say the least), this time, in the night following this pasta dinner, ended up in our bed after a nightmare and did not fall asleep again before begging me to “make this pasta sauce again, every single day”. Of course she has forgotten all about that sauce since (figures), but that compliment made my day – and night.

eggplant marinara sauce

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

 

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 small to medium carrots, finely diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 3 tomatoes, cubed
  • 1/3 cup or about 15 half sundried tomatoes, very finely chopped (I used a food processor)
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • A large handful of fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (240g) kidney beans
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  • Sauté the onion until translucent, add the garlic and the carrots. After some minutes, add the remaining ingredients and let the sauce simmer until all vegetables have softened.
  • Adjust seasoning if desired.
  • Serve over the pasta of your choice. (This does not have to happen immediately; you can make this sauce in advance, and let the flavours blend in the meantime. I made the sauce at noon and served it in the evening.)

Chocolate chip-peanut chickpea cookies.

dav

Today’s blogpost takes you to cookies via a short detour featuring curry. I still need to blog about my go-to vegetable curry, as I promised some friends who requested the recipe after having enjoyed that dish at our dinner table, but that won’t be today (sorry friends! but I will, soon!). No, the detour is all about Miriam Sorrell’s (aka the Mouthwatering Vegan’s) wonderfully luscious and creamy curry with eggplant, potato and chickpeas. That curry is only one of an entire chapter on curries in the Mouthwatering Vegan cookbook, and one I had not made until two days ago. Although the ingredient list will not blow you away (for a curry, it’s relatively short), the aroma of this dish certainly will. You do have to be a star anise lover, though, in order to appreciate it. If you are, have a look at this page, where you’ll find the recipe (but ignore the pics or the video, as I find the curry presented there not entirely true to the recipe’s essence; the sauce should really be thick and creamy, and on that page it looks rather thin) – or click the link above (direct link from the author’s own page) which will lead you to the cookbook itself, which is totally worth its money.

eggplant chickpea potato coconut curry mouthwatering vegan.jpeg

Eggplant, potato and chickpea curry       (splendid recipe by Miriam Sorrell – not that splendid photo by me)

You might wonder how this detour will eventually lead us to cookies, but it’s a actually quite a short step from curries to cookies, and the link between both is CHICKPEAS.

I used a can of chickpeas in the curry, saved the drained liquid (or aquafaba), and thought about a way to put it to use. As usual, I came up with something sweet, and this time it was something I had been wanting to try for quite a long time: chickpea flour-based cookies. I had seen some on Vegan Richa’s page, and also on Oatmeal with a Fork, and I could not wait to start experimenting myself. So using the above recipes as a starting point and inspiration, I came up with a recipe for chocolate chip-peanut cookies which I made with my daughter’s assistance. I got help from both my children as  soon as we got to the point of eating them – they were gone in no time, and I’ll soon be baking more. As soon as there is a new load of peanuts in the house.

One would never guess these cookies are actually gluten-free and do not contain regular flour. A giveaway is the raw batter, though. Do NOT taste it (if you do, you’ll seriously regret it)! Refrain from licking your fingers until you have actual baked cookies in your hands.

dav

chocolate chip-peanut chickpea cookies

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Ingredients

  • 6 TB aquafaba
  • 1 TB pure peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup (or ca. 1,6 dl) coconut oil: softened, but not warm (otherwise the chocolate chips will melt)
  • 2/3 cup (or ca. 1,6 dl) dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup (or ca. 3,6 – 3,7 dl) chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla (use real vanilla powder if you have it)
  • 2/3 cup (or ca. 1,6 dl) chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (or ca. 1,2 dl) peanuts (unsalted)

Directions

  • Mix all ingredients until you get a non-sticky, elastic and easy to handle dough. Divide the dough into 16 portions (a heaped TB per portion) and roll into balls. Let sit for an hour, then flatten them and bake for about 14 minutes on 175 degrees C.

 

  • Note 1: I put the dough in the freezer for 45 min, then baked the cookies, and my initial ‘fear’ that the cookies would flatten out too much (because of the coconut oil) proved totally unjustified. I actually had to help the cookies a hand in flattening out, with a spatula.
  • Note 2: You can substitute the peanut butter by other nut butter (I tried hazelnut-almond), the peanuts by other nuts, and the dark chocolate by vegan white chocolate (I did the latter in the hazelnut-almond version).
  • Note 3: It is possible to replace the muscovado sugar by a liquid sugar such as maple syrup, BUT you will have to increase the amount chickpea flour. I tried a maple syrup version, and had to use 2,5 cups chickpea flour, and the dough was still too sticky to roll. So I scooped the portions, froze them for an hour (as I did with the muscovado-based cookies), and then  reshaped them a bit and baked them. Also these needed to be flattened by a spatula during the baking process (which means you can just go ahead and flatten them before baking them.))

dav

Semlor.

dav

Now aren’t these semlor first-class beauties? Perhaps it’s not that appropriate to blog about pastries on the first day of Lent, but since vegans abstain from plenty of other not-so-good-foods out there and usually consume quite consciously,  I think this should be okayed. So last week I wrote about the Belgian pancake tradition during this time of year, which is simple and straightforward, contrary to the often rather sumptious (often wine- and beer-based) local customary cuisine. Now in Sweden (where our family once spent 2,5 years), it seems to be the other way around: husmanskost, traditional Swedish food, is quite modest, but exceptions are gladly made for baked goods that are linked to various festivities throughout the year. When Shrove Tuesday approaches, for instance, semlor, cardamon-scented pastries amply filled with marzipan and whipped cream, are eaten in bulk. And every year I bake them too.

I use the recipe by Karolina Tegelaar (kakboken (Swedish version) or Swedish Vegan (English version)) from one of her vegan baking booklets (svenska klassiker), but which she each year also re-publishes on her facebook page and encourages people to share. So this is exactly what I will do below. Just like I made a minor adjustment to her original recipe for cinnamon rolls (kanelbullar) by partly substituting the soy milk by aquafaba, you can also here opt for doing so. As with the cinnamon buns, I also here need more flour than in the original recipe (which perhaps is down to the fact that I use spelt flour), and I do not use the indicated amount of marzipan, but mostly half of it (otherwise I find it too decadent and heavy, but that’s perhaps just me).

Don’t wait for next mardi gras to bake these – just go for it now :-).

dav

 

Semlor

Ingredients

  • 50 g vegan butter
  • 1 dl soy milk + 1 dl vegan cream OR 0,5 dl aquafaba + 0,5 dl soy milk + 1 dl cream
  • 25 g yeast
  • 0,75 dl sugar
  • 0,5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 7 dl spelt flour

Fill

  • 250 g marzipan (less will work too – I usually use about 150-200g)
  • 2 TB water
  • 1-2 packages of whippable cream (I use only 1)
  • powdered sugar for decoration

Directions

  • Melt the margarine and add milk/cream(/aquafaba) and sugar.
  • Mix yeast, sugar, salt and cardamom and add the mixed fluid ingredients. Mix unti you obtain a workable dough. Don’t add too much flour at a time, so you can stop adding flour once the dough is non-sticky enough to work with.
  • Let the dough sit for 40-60 minutes.
  • Divide the dough in about 10-15 equal portions and roll into balls.
  • Let sit for 20-30 minutes. Brush them with some soy cream (this is optional, but this will make them more shiny).
  • Bake in the middle of the oven for 9-14 minutes at 225°C. Keep a close eye on them and take them out when they have turned golden.
  • Let them cool a bit. then cut out a lid, skoop out some of the inside and keep apart. You can mix part of it with the marzipan and water. Fill the pastries with the marzipan mixture and pipe some whipped cream on top. Close with the lid, and dust with powdered sugar.

 

 

 

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