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
  • 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 ūüôā (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 :-).

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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 ūüôā ). 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

sdr

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.

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

  • Saut√© 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.

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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.

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Eggplant, potato and chickpea curry       (splendid recipe by Miriam Sorrell Рnot 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.

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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¬įC. 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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Fabulous aquafaba crêpes.

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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 cr√™pes, 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 cr√™pes now, right? ūüôā¬†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.)

 

dav

Zorro & the Elf

 

Fabulous Aquafaba Crêpes

  • Servings: 16 pancakes
  • 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.

 

spoonsandsplatters sweet potato soup with coconut and lime.jpeg

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
  • 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.

dav

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 ‚ā¨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
  • 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 √°nd 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.

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Cannelloni with tofu ricotta and spinach.

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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):

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Cannelloni with tofu ricotta and spinach

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

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 – 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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