This is a post dedicated to A.
1 December was the first day of a world without A, a befriended mom whom we got to know through school three years back, having just moved back from Sweden. Her oldest and our oldest were in the same class, just as her middle kid and our youngest. We got along well, our husbands and children got along well, and last year we started going on excursions during weekends. That is also what we did two weeks ago, making further plans for get-aways during 2018.
And then only 4 days later she found herself biking at the wrong place at the wrong time. Plain bad luck, with terrible consequences.
So this recipe is dedicated to her.
Only days before, she had finally found my IG-account (having misspelled it earlier in her searches, due to bad oral communication), and was ❤-ing one food picture after another, followed by a text message that she wanted a signed copy of my cookbook. That cookbook was one of the many plans – both hers and mine – we had discussed during earlier conversations. I don’t know if I will ever succeed in publishing one – she was, however, an ardent believer and supporter. She also generally thought that dreams are there to be realised, and she truly lived to put her own ideas into action and stimulated others to dare and dream bigger. But in case I never get to publish one, then at least there is this.
Besides our plans for the future, we regularly discussed food as such (me being a vegan, she being an advocate of low-sugar food), and this recipe for naturally sweetened raw bites would no doubt have been totally right up her alley. The combination of flavours -coffee and cardamom- is derived from a Dutch vegan ice cream brand, Prof. Gruenschnabel, which is now finally widely available over here.
So these are to you, A.
I wish I could have served these alongside a cup of tea or coffee after the dinner I intended to host for you and your family. They will have to serve as one of the many vehicles to remember the wonderful person you were instead
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
- Pinch of salt and vanilla
- 1 tsp coffee (ground coffee)
- Ground seeds from ca. 5 cardamom pods
- 1 TB cacao
Blend everything in a food processor until you end up with a sticky dough, then roll into walnut-sized balls.
Coat with melted chocolate if desired.
Being vegan or even vegetarian allows for a broadening of one’s culinary world and a more densely than average stocked spice rack. I remember being 23, entering my 4th year as a vegetarian, living abroad, and slowly expanding my cookbook collection. That year I bought several ones, including one on Indian cuisine which I still use every so often, and one on homemade schnaps, which I, contrary to friends who bought the very same book at the very same moment, but also had access to cheap alcohol in a university lab, never used (but never say never). I also remember compiling grocery lists with spices that at that particular time were totally exotic and new to me, but which I needed to finally start cooking up those dishes in my new cookbooks. It’s weird to realize how foreign cumin, coriander and curcuma once were to me, since I now use them on a nearly daily basis. In this tajine served over couscous, for instance.
This is the kind of dish which is easily integrated into one’s rotating menu, because it’s easy to make, it doesn’t require any weird ingredients from specialty stores (I often make it when travelling, as I then usually only have access to limited vegan ingredients (aka veggies and pulses)), it’s sweet, spicy (as spicy as you like), and filling. And the kids eat it without much fuss.
Once I cooked a tajine assisted by a visiting friend who has an Algerian husband (yes, the same friend whom I mentioned in my post on Ratatouille and more). In Algeria, Friday equals couscous, so the recipe below should come quite close to the ‘real’ thing. At least that is what this friend contended, and if it doesn’t, it’s still worth making anyhow ;-). You’ll notice the many ‘handfuls’ below. That’s simply cooking tajine isn’t exact science. Use the amount of veggies you want, season as hot as you like it, use cilantro or don’t. It’s all up to you, regard the recipe below as a mere guiding framework.
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2-3 carrots, diced
- 1/2 sweet potato, diced (optional)
- 2-3 small potatoes
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1-2 bell peppers
- A handful of string beans
- 1 can chopped tomatoes + the same amount of vegetable stock
- 2-3 TB tomato paste
- 1 can chickpeas, drained (don’t throw out the chickpea liquid, use the aquafaba to make curd cheesecake, madeleines or crêpes or something)
- A handful of dried apricots, finely chopped
- A handful of raisins
- 1 – 1,5 tsp curcuma
- 1 – 1,5 TB ras-el-hanout (a North African spice blend)
- 1-1,5 tsp cumin
- 1-1,5 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 TB paprika or 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp or more harissa (North African chili paste)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- A handful of almond slivers, roasted, for garnish
- A handful of cilantro, for garnish
- Fry the onion until translucent, then add the garlic and fry one more minute
- Add the spices and then veggies one by one, starting with those that have the longest cooking time (i.e. the carrots and potatoes). Then the tomatoes and the renaining ingredients. Let simmer. Hold back the chickpeas, though: they shouldn’t end up in your casserole until the very end of the cooking process, when the vegetables have softened.
- In the meantime, prepare the couscous according to the directions on the package. Add in a TB of za’atar spice blend if you like that as much as I do.
- When the dish is ready, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Then serve over couscous and sprinkle with almond slivers and garnish with cilantro.
So here we are again!
When I posted my recipe for strawberry-rhubarb crumble pie, I hadn’t got the faintest idea that as many as five months would elapse before I’d be picking up on my kitchen adventures in a next blogpost. But that is what ultimately happened, and an entire summer (and half an autumn) was as such left blank in terms of blogposts, yet proved itself all the richer in terms of living life to the fullest and creating cherishable memories.
This is not to say food did not play any part in this. Rather on the contrary. It’s often the pebble that, softly hitting the surface of memory, ripples out, touching upon a variety of recollections. Food is a social connector, and reliving what was on and who was gathered around the table goes hand in hand.
Reminiscing this summer is reminiscing
- the birthday pies I made as a treat for my colleagues at the onset of summer, and right before going on vacation.
- the succulent dates and delicious oil-cured olives which we enjoyed during a stopover with German friends when we were on our way to the Alps. Last time we had seen these friends, a German-Algerian couple, we were traveling with a 9-month-old and they were expecting their first child. Now each of us had two boisterous kids ranging from 5 to 8, happily playing together despite the language barrier. We departed with a stash of Algerian dates and Moroccan olives (imported straight from Oran by our host – we learned that Moroccans are better at curing olives than their neighbours) and some bottles of Moroccan vinegar.
- what must have been the first time in over a decade that I enjoyed the luxury of not having to touch any kitchen utensils for an entire week (no matter how much one loves cooking, being able to have break from it is something precious too), thanks to the hospitality, flexibility, open-mindedness and wondrous cooking skills of a high-school friend who now runs a family guesthouse on an idyllic Carinthian mountain top (with a panorama stretching as far as the Slovenian Julian Alps) together with her husband. If you’re ever considering a (family) stay in Austria, both during summer or in winter (there are alpine ski facilities practically around the corner), look no further than Gasthof Fernsicht! And oh yes, we continued our journey to the South with homemade elderberry syrup, books to kill time on the road, loads of Slovenian travel tips and refreshed spirits. And a cooler full of vegan stuff from Merkur (an Austrian supermarket chain with a gigantic range of vegan products).
- the incredible Italian ice cream we had in Trieste at gelato Marco , where about half the (gigantic) counter consisted of vegan ice cream. This must have been one of the best, if not the best ice cream servings I’ve had, and if my husband hadn’t deemed it way too decadent, I think I really would have gone for seconds.
- the joy of being able to order vegan pizza in Portoroz, Slovenia, before going for a swim in the Mediterranean. Pizza, sun, an inflatable dolphin, ample wind and a kite – what more do kids (and grown-ups) need to find happiness on a summer day?
- the exchange of food when again staying over at our friends’ place in Bavaria again on our way back home. They had cooked a simple but lovely and hearty German potato soup for dinner (our son even had three large servings!), we had brought a decent portion of leftover Indian curry. Both the soup and the curry were gone by the end of the meal. We finished the soup, they finished the curry.
- the counter full of Mediterranean-style dishes I had cooked for a family gathering, half of which cooked according to recipes from Yasou, the second cookbook by Miriam Sorell which I had finally purchased after it had been on my wishlist since its publication date. A book very much worth its money.
- the scents and tastes – both familiar and new – that accompanied us on our trip down memory lane to vegan mecca Stockholm: vegan pizza (with aragula and figs – marvelous combo!) at Feca (where they even have an elaborate separate vegan menu) followed by an ice cream from 18 smakers glassmakeri, a Szechuan noodle lunch at Lao Wai, perfect nut cookies (cripsy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside) at Rosendals trädgård, the copious and utterly delicious Sri Lankan dinner – including a savoury kiwi dish – at the home of fabulous friends and former colleagues who are always spoiling us (and the home made Sri Lankan spice blends which I got as a present; the lovely scent of which permeated my travel bag until we got home and I could store the precious gift in jars) , the mezze lunch at Babel Deli (the muhammara! the roasted sweet potato! the parsley salad!), a burger lunch at Kafé44 following a visit to Fotografiska, the fika with peanut cheesecake we had at Los Vegos in Uppsala (the city’s vegan scene has obviously been expanding the past couple of years), the fingerlicking good Thai inspired sweet potato stew (I think its secret to success is the wine! – and the good cook) we had with dear Swedish friends in Uppsala – our friendship dates back to Germany 16 years ago -, the fast fajita lunch at one of the Zócalo restaurants you will find in Stockholm (in between shopping… of course I also bought a new cookbook: Mattias Kristiansson’s Välkommen till Vegoriket), a cinnamon roll (more specifically a Leobulle) from Vete-katten, again pizza and ice cream (see above) – this time with a Stockholm friend (we go back to Vienna 2000) to whom these places were a pleasant discovery -, dinner at good old Chutney (with the very same good old friend) before heading off to cinema Victoria and Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe (that is what German philologists do), lunch at Herman’s, catching up with a Belgian expat friend, and then finally another lunch at Babel Deli (reaching the same conclusion that their muhammara is to die for).
- The Sri Lankan cookbook The Lotus and The Artichoke, which I bought so that I could try and discover even more tasty food from this part of the world (now that I have some authentic spice blend in the house). My first attempts were a success; the curry I made, for instance, resembled my friend’s extremely well, which speaks for the book.
- The huge pile of donuts, the Boston cream pie, fruit tart, chocolate Bundt cake and cinnamon rolls I made for both my daughter’s and my son’s birthdays. The donuts are a keeper for parties; they were immensely popular!
- The stash of tomatoes and rhubarb which I got from friends, resulting in rhubarb chutney, rhubarb-strawberry jam, rhubarb sauce, and tomato chutney.
- The goodbye pies for my colleagues, before embarking on a new professional adventure.
- And much more.
What better recipe to write about after such a jumbled enumeration of separate memories that blend into one and all make up my great summer of 2017 than a chunky pot of ratatouille, which is basically a mishmash of ingredients. That – hodgepodge or mishmash – is also what the Dutch word for ratatouille, namely ratjetoe, boils down to.
Ratatouille is one of my favourite comfort foods, and over the years I have developed my own version of it. It originally started with the traditional eggplant and zucchini kind of ratatouille, but then over time I first left out the eggplant (that just happened, probably because I at one particular moment didn’t have any in the fridge) and started adding olives, preferably well marinated ones (with herbs and/or spices), then suddenly the idea came to me to mix in some cauliflower florets (which was, frankly, a great idea!), and eventually I ended up with a version that usually also contains chickpeas. To me, that’s the perfect kind of ratatouille. And this is approximately how I make it (I never measure anything for this dish):
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 to 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 bell pepper (pick a colour of your preference – I usually take a yellow one, because of the colour contrast with the remaining ingredients)
- 1 can cubed tomatoes OR 2 fresh tomatoes and about 4 TB of tomato paste
- 2 handfuls of cauliflower florets
- a handful of sliced olives
- 1 can chickpeas
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 TB herbes de Provence and some fresh basil, if you have some
- some roasted pine kernels
- fry the onion until translucent, then add the garlic
- after a minute, add in the bell pepper, cauliflower and the zucchini; when they have softened a bit, add the tomatoes and the remaining ingredients, except for the chickpeas and basil
- when the content of your pot has turned into a stew (with the consistency of your preference), add in the chickpeas and basil
- garnish with some pine kernels
- serve with roasted potatoes or (my favourite!) potato mash (preferably potato mash with roasted garlic and rosemary)
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)
- 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
- 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).
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.
- 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
- 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.
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
- 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.)
- 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 :-).
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.
black pepper stir fry with 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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
- 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.)
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, 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.
chocolate chip-peanut chickpea cookies
- 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)
- 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.))
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 :-).
- 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
- 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
- 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.