Vegan MOFO2014 – Recipe: Tomato, Lentil and Herb Lasagne

This recipe s for the 52 Weeks of Vegan Cooking week 36 Italian Challenge on Reddit. For all my talk of “Italian food is not just tomato and cheese” in the challenge introduction for this week… I’ve made a pretty traditional (westernised) lasagne. In my defence I’ve had most of the ingredient in the cupboard for a while but have been too lazy to actually make anything.

Tomato and Lentil Sauce

Ingredients:

1/2 a Yellow Onion, diced.
1 Clove of Garlic, minced.
1/2 a Medium Capsicum (Red Pepper), diced.
1/4 head of Cabbage, chopped small.
125 Grams(4.5 Ounces) of Spinach, I used frozen.
2 Cans of Diced Tomatoes.
1 Can of Lentils, drained and washed.
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Method:

Heat some oil in a large pot and add the onion and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent.

Add the Capsicum, Cabbage and Spinach and cook until soft.

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Veggies!

Add the Lentils, then add the Tomatoes plus one can full of water.

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Before reducing

Cook until the excess water is gone, you want it wet but not watery.

Herbed White Sauce

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup of Vegan Margarine or Oil.
1/4 Cup of Plain Flour.
1 Clove of Garlic, minced.
2 Cups of Water.
2 Cups of Non-Dairy Milk, I used Rice Milk.
1 Teaspoon of Vegetable Stock Powder, I used Massel.
1 Tablespoon of Dried Thyme.
1 Tablespoon of Dried Basil.
1 Tablespoon of Dried Oregano.
Mustard (Optional).
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Method:

In a large pan heat the Margarine and the Garlic. Add the Flour and whisk.

Add the Milk and the Water one cup at a time, whisking as you go.

Add the Stock Powder and the Herbs. Add the Mustard if you’re using it.

Add Salt and Pepper to taste.

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The herbed white sauce (it’s under the steam)

Assembly

Ingredients:

1 Packet of Lasagne Sheets, I used Wholemeal.
Vegan Cheese (optional), I used Cheezly Parmasan style.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

In a large deep baking pan ladle 1/4 of the White Sauce and spread evenly over the bottom. Place 1 layer of Lasagne Sheet.

Add 1/2 of the Tomato Sauce, then 1 layer of the Lasagne Sheet.

Add 1/3 of the White Sauce, then 1 layer of the Lasagne Sheet.

Add 1/2 of the Tomato Sauce, then 1 layer of the Lasagne Sheet.

Add the remaining White Sauce and then top with Vegan Cheese if using.

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Ready to bake

Bake for 40 minutes.

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Done!

Cool for 10 – 20 minutes then serve.

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Delicious

Verdict: Yum yum yum! A little too salty, but that’s my own fault. Sweet too, presumably from the cabbage. The vegan cheese left a lot of oil on the top, otherwise fantastic!

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Vegan MOFO2014 – Recipe: Salami Style Crumb

52 Weeks of Vegan Cooking challenge on Reddit is back again (because I’ve recently taken over as moderator) and the Week 33 challenge was DIY Mock Meats. Now there was a recipe I saw and saved a while back that I’ve been wanting to try… sort of. I’ve never particularly liked the spice combination of chorizo but I thought the recipe had a good base. I used that base in an attempt to make my own vegan salami.

Ingredients:

1 and 3/4 Cups of TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) Mince.
2 Cups of Vegetable Stock, Hot. I used Massel brand.
1/4 Cup of Roasted Capsicum (Red Pepper), finely chopped.
1/4 Cup of Black Olives, finely chopped.
1/4 Cup of Red WIne Vinegar.
3 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste.
3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce.
1/2 and White or Yellow Onion, minced. I used the food procssor for this.
3 Garlic Cloves, minced.
3 Tablespoons of Paprika.
Coarsly Ground Pepper.
A Pinch of Ground Cinnamon.

Method:

Put the TVP and the hot Vegetable Stock in a large bowl, cover and set aside for at least 10 Minutes. I only has TVP Strips so I had to rehydrated them then chop them into mince sized pieces; sooo time consuming!

Add all the other ingredients into the bowl and stir together.

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All chopped up and ready to go

Set aside for about 20 minutes while you hang out the laundry (or whatever it is you need to do).

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Almost done

Heat a little olive oil into a large pan or wok and add the mixture. Cook until all excess moisture is gone.

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The finished product

Set aside to cool. Enjoy.

Verdict: So it doesn’t really taste like salami but that’s okay because it still tastes good. It has a rich flavour and a meaty texture. I added a bit too much pepper so it’s a bit spicy and I used all smoked paprika making it far to smoky. Next time I will use 1 Tablespoon of Smoked and 2 Tablespoons of Sweet Paprika.

Recipe: Eggless Cinnamon Macarons with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Macarons. Something I used to eat often and have been hoping to find a vegan version of. For week 8 of the 52 Weeks of Baking sub on Reddit the challenge was gluten free. In the challenge intro there was a link to a classic french macaron recipe and I decided to Google “vegan macaron recipe” and I was surprised to actually find something. A test of the recipe I found was Attempt 1. This attempt did not go well.

2 weeks later and it’s time for the first Cake Liberation Front picnic of the year which also happened to coincide with the french challenge on the 52 Weeks of Vegan Cooking sub so I decided to try again. Attempt 2 went much better.

Attempt 1.

This recipe was problematic. I basically ended up with a sticky almond paste that was unusable. See below.

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The failed mix

The reason for this is simple. The recipe asked for what amounts to 4 1/2 cups of dry ingredients to be added to the equivalent of 3 eggs; a normal macaron recipe only has 1 1/2 + 2/3 cups of dry ingredient.

Attempt 2.

I used the recipe that was linked on the 52 Weeks of Baking intro and altered it to vegan.

Ingredients: Macaron.

Note: This recipe is not perfect and while it tasted quite good, it still needs a little work. See my Verdict at the end for more information.

1/4 Cup of Powdered Egg Replacer (I used Organ No Egg).
1/2 a Cup + 2 Tablespoons of Water.
2/3 Cup of Almond Meal (also known as Almond Flour).
1 1/2 Cups of Icing Sugar (also known as Powdered Sugar or Confectioners Sugar).
5 Tablespoons of Caster Sugar (Granulated Sugar).
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract.
1/2 Teaspoon of Cinnamon Powder.

Method:

Preheat oven to 140C (280F). Line baking tray(s) with baking paper and if you can be bothered draw circles on the back of the paper as guides for your piping. Circles should be about 1 inch and 1/2 inch apart.

Sift the Almond Meal and Icing Sugar into a bowl and combine. If your Almond Meal coarse you may need to put it through a food processor first.

Place Egg Replacer and Water into mixer with whisk attachment (beaters are also fine) and turn onto fastest setting, you may need to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. When the mix starts to get frothy add the Caster Sugar on tablespoon at a time.

The mixture should expand and when it looks like the picture below slow the mixer to the lowest setting and add the Vanilla Extract and Cinnamon Powder.

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The “egg” mix

Add  half the Almond Meal and Icing Sugar mixture and when combined add the rest.

Remove the bowl from the mixture and combine any remaining mixture. Be careful not to work the mixture too much as you want to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.

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Put the mixture into a piping bag (if you don’t have one use a sandwich bag and cut off the corner once filled). Pipe 1 inch circles onto the baking paper.

Lightly tap the tray on the bench to break up any larger air bubbles. With a traditional macaron mixture you are meant to let the trays sit for 15+ minutes until the mixture is no longer sticky to the touch and has formed a skin. I have no idea if this would even work/matter with the eggless mix but I did it anyway.

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Place trays in oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. After the first 2 minutes open the over to release any steam.

With mine it took nearly double the time to cook the macarons; this may be because the mixture was wetter than it should have been or the fact that the oven is weird and I don’t entirely know how to use it or because my piping was terrible (in my defense it was my first time using a piping bag). Probably all three.

The macarons are done when they are baked all the way through and the shells are just hard. Take care to not underbake (insides will still be mushy) or overbake (tops will begin to brown).

Remove them from the oven, and cool on baking sheet placed on a wire rack.

Ingredients: Salted Caramel Buttercream.

1 Cup of Vegan Margarine (I used Nuttalex), at room temperature.
1/3 Cup of Salted Caramel Sauce, at cool room temperature.
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract.
1 1/2 Cups of Icing Sugar (also known as Powdered Sugar or Confectioners Sugar).
Salt to taste.

Method:

Clean your mixing bowl and attach the scraper (again a beater is also fine).

Beat the Margarine on a medium speed for 1 minute.

Add Salted Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Extract and beat on medium for 2 minutes.

Add Icing Sugar and mix on low until incorporated. Increase speed to medium, mix for 2 or 3 minutes until smooth.

Taste and add Salt if needed. (I forgot to taste and just added the salt).

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Note: this make a LOT of buttercream, way more than you need for the macarons. Fortunately you can freeze it.

When the macarons are cooled pick 2 of equal size, spread or pipe some buttercream on the bottom of one and stick them together, Repeat as until you have no more macarons.

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Verdict: The macaron were overly sweet and the butter cream was a bit too salty but together they worked. The macarons had the right chewy texture, but they were not quite correct, they cracked easily and had hollow bits. As I mentioned before they also took longer to cook as they were quite wet.

I think that the ratio of Egg Replacer to Water was correct, but there was too much in comparison to the Icing Sugar and Almond Meal mixture. Now you could use less Egg Replacer and Water (keeping the same ratio) however as I mentioned the macaron was too sweet so I would alter the Icing Sugar and Almond Meal mixture by adding more Almond Meal.

Lastly the Cinnamon flavor was strong when raw but less noticeable when baked.

I took the finished macarons to the Cake Liberation Front picnic (and a few for a friend who is always stuck at work on picnic days) and they were very well received,

Recipe: Cashew Cream Cheese

For the 52 Weeks of Vegan Cooking on Reddit this week we are using nuts as the theme. Nuts are so very versatile, especially in vegan dishes. When I saw the theme my mind when instantly to cashew cream cheese. Now I have previously review a few of the commercially available vegan cream cheeses (here and here) and it basically boils down to this: I like my cream cheese savory and the vegan options I have tried are far too sweet and therefore taste terrible with pickle.

I used this recipe and altered it a little.

Ingredients:

1 Cup of Raw Cashews, soaked.
2 Tablespoons of Nutritional Yeast. Can also be called Savoury Yeast.
1/4 a Cup of Lemon Juice.
1/2 a Tablespoon of Canola Oil.
1/4 Teaspoon of Salt.
1 Teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar.
1 Teaspoon of Minced Garlic.

Method:

Place Cashews in a food processor and process until smooth.

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Cashews ready to be processed

Add all other ingredients and process until incorporated. I has to add some water to get it smooth but that’s due to the fact that my food processor isn’t powerful enough.

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Processed

Taste and adjust flavours to suit your palate. I added a bit more salt.

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On a cracker

Enjoy.

Verdict: Very nice. I’m not too sure if the vinegar is needed as the lemon juice adds enough flavour on it’s own. I will leave it out next time. The smell of the final product is odd, it smells like the yeast which I find a tad off putting. Otherwise it’s great. Should go well in a pickle sandwich.

Recipe: Baba Ganoush

Week 7 of the 52 Weeks of Vegan Cooking on Reddit is an interesting week. The challenge is “New To Me.” Interesting but hard to do. I was a bit lost at first then I had some lunch. I found some discounted baba ganoush at the supermarket and I decided to try it. I’ve never really liked eggplants and my one attempt to cook with them several years ago was disastrous. Any way the dip was lovely and eggplants were on special so I decided to try making my own.

I used this recipe here.

Ingredients:

1 or 2 Eggplants (totaling 2 pounds or 900 grams).
3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
2-3 Tablespoons of Tahini.
1-2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped.
1 Teaspoon of Ground Cumin.
Juice of one Lemon (about 2 1/2 tablespoons).
Salt and Cayenne Pepper to taste. (I didn’t have cayenne pepper so i left it out).
1 Tablespoon of chopped Parsley.

Method:

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F).

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The eggplants – pre roasting

Poke the eggplants in several places with a fork. (I forgot this step but it doesn’t seem to have mattered). Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and brush the cut sides lightly with olive oil.
Place on a baking sheet, cut side down and roast until very tender, about 35-40 minutes.Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

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The eggplants – post roasting

Scoop the Eggplant flesh into a large bowl and mash well with a fork.

Combine the Eggplant, Garlic, remaining Olive Oil, Tahini, Cumin, Lemon Juice, Parsley, Salt, and Cayenne. Mash well.

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The finished product

Allow to cool and eat.

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On toast

Verdict: Great. I like making my own of this because I can control the amount of tahini (less) and garlic (more). I liked the cheezy flavor and it also makes for a great pasta sauce.

Recipe: Pickled Cauliflower Salad

For week 6 of the 52 Weeks of Vegan Cooking on Reddit the challenge was Cauliflower. My experiences with cauliflower has previously been steamed, cauliflower cheese or just eaten raw. I like cauliflower but I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat it.

So I Googled cauliflower recipes and saw one for pickled cauliflower. I love pickles and anything that involves vinegar but I didn’t want to make a big batch and preserve it for a long period. I decided to make a small batch and turn it into a salad.

Ingredients:

Pickling Liquid.

1/3 Cup of White Wine Vinegar.
2/3 Cup of Rice Wine Vinegar.
1/4 Cup of Dry Sherry.
1/3 Cup of Water.
1 Tablespoon of Seeded Mustard.
2 Tablespoons of Sugar.
2 Tablespoons of Salt.
1/2 Teaspoon of Carraway Seeds.
Pinch of Chilli Powder.

1 Small Onion.
1 1/2 Cups of Cauliflower, fresh.

Note: The pickling liquid is made up of stuff I had in my pantry. You can use whatever vinegar’s and seasonings you like.

Method:

Place ingredients for Pickling Liquid in a saucepan and heat to boiling point.

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Boiling pickling liquid

Cut up Onion and Cauliflower into small to medium pieces. Random sizes are better because then you get different textures and levels of acidity.

Place the pieces in a sealable container and pour over boiling liquid. Seal and place in fridge for 2 hours. You can refrigerate for less or more time it depends on how strong a flavor you want. Just make sure that the contents have cooled completely before using.

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About to go into the fridge

Cut up salad ingredients and place in a bowl. I used Tomato, Spinach and Blanched Green Beans. Drain the pickles through a sieve and wash under cold water. Leave some of the seeds on the pickles for extra flavor and texture. Drain thoroughly and add to salad.

Mix and eat.

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The salad

Verdict: Yummy. The pickle turned out great! The onion and cauliflower was cooked enough to soften and take away some of the rawness, especially in the case of the onion, but not so much that you lost the natural sweetness. The carraway seeds left on the pickle were lovely and provided little bursts of flavor. As for the salad it was okay. The other vegetables were a nice flavor and they broke up the acidity of the pickle but it could have used a creamy element (avocado?) to tie it together. I will definitely try this again, maybe it some different vegetables.

Recipe: Baked Kale Chips

So this week on the 52 Weeks of Vegan Cooking subreddit it’s the Obligatory Kale Challenge! Love the title 🙂

Kale is one of the superfoods, full of vitamins and minerals and all that stuff that’s good for you. Personally I only buy it occasionally when it’s cheap but I prefer spinach or silverbeet (chard). I know that the fact that kale doesn’t break down no matter how much you cook it is supposed to be a good thing, but I hate that. I think the texture is annoying.

My first though for a kale recipe was a smoothie because that would get rid of the texture issue. Then I remembered that my (housemates) blender isn’t that powerful and probably wouldn’t break down the kale properly. I wasn’t really sure what to do for this weeks challenge. I always try to do something I’ve never done before and I’ve already tried using kale in soups and stir fries. Then yesterday I found myself craving potato chips and I remembered that you can make kale chips.

I followed this basic recipe.

Ingredients:

1 Bunch of Kale. I didn’t use a whole bunch, just 6 stalks worth.
Olive Oil.
Flavored Salt. I used regular table salt.

Method:

Preheat oven to 175 Degrees Celsius/350 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Pick or cut off all the Kale leaves from the hard stem and tear/cut them into bite sized pieces.

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Kale in a bag

Put Kale pieces into plastic freezer bag and add salt and oil. Hold the bag closed and shake to coat evenly. Make sure you hold it closed properly of you’ll end up with oily Kale on the floor. *facepalm*

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Blurry kale – pre baking

Put coated Kale onto baking tray and place in oven. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until the edges brown but are not burnt.

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Kale chips

Eat.

Verdict: Not bad. Certainly better than I was expecting. Not all of the pieces were crispy and some had globs of salt. I will make these again, possibly in salt and vinegar flavor next time.