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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Recipe: Tofu Scramble

I was scrolling through some recipes and I came across this one. I had all of the ingredients (almost), so I decided to give it ago. I added a few extra veges to use up what had in the fridge.

Ingredients:

500 Grams (14 Ounce) of Firm Tofu
3-4 Tablespoons of Tamari or Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons of Sesame Oil
¼ Cup of Nutritional Yeast (also known as Savoury Yeast)
¼ Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
¼ Teaspoon of Tumeric
½ Teaspoon Ground Cumin

1 Small Yellow Onion, diced
¼ a Cup of Red Capsicum, diced
5-6 Large Sun-Dried Tomatoes, chopped into small pieces (the kind that are lightly seasoned, packed in olive oil – don’t use the dry ones!)
2 Cups of Washed Baby Spinach
10 Mushrooms, sliced
Plus additional Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce and Nutritional Yeast (to taste)

Method:

Put Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Nutritional Yeast, Garlic Powder, Tumeric and Cumin in a large mixing bowl and combine.

Squeeze excess liquid out of Tofu and crumble into pieces. Add to the mixing bowl and coat thoroughly with sauce.

Pit a little vegetable oil in a large frying pan/wok and heat. Add Tofu mixture and fry for about 10 minutes.

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The Marinated Tofu

Place cooked tofu in a clean bowl and add a little more oil to the pan and add the vegetables.

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The Veges

Cook until tender, then add in the Tofu. Combine.

Taste and add Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce and Nutritional Yeast to taste.

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Ready to eat!

Verdict: Not bad. I think there was too much soy sauce, which made it a little too strong in both colour and flavour. For some reason it had a bitter flavour.

 

Restaurant: Papa Mia’s Wood Oven Pizza

Papa Mia’s is a small local pizza place in Colonel Light Gardens. It sits just off Goodwood Rd amongst a number of other fast food outlets. The interior is… well… crappy. It’s your regular el cheapo take away. A drinks fridge, some uncomfortable chairs and a counter. What makes this place unique is that a few months ago they started making vegan pizzas. Yay! There’s four pizza options, plus garlic bread and, as of the day after I ordered from them, some dessert options. They alas have gluten free options.

I ordered the Gourmet All Veg Vegan pizza with added mushrooms and the vegan Garlic Bread.

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The Gourmet All Veg Vegan Pizza

The base was average; not the worst I’ve ever had but certainly not the best. It was also a little burnt on the edges but that’s what you get with wood fire pizzas. The pizza is topped with Vegusto cheese which has a good flavour and a nice creaminess.

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Close Up

The toppings were full of flavour and the tomato sauce had a good amount of herbs but just a little too much pepper. There were not many olives which is a good thing in my mind (mouth). However there were other toppings lacking as well. There were only a few small pieces of the artichoke and even less of the roasted pepper. There was quite a lot of fresh tomato which tasted nice but made the pizza very moist. All of these complaints are trivial as the pizza was fantastic!

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Vegan Garlic Bread

The garlic bread was very tasty. Lots of garlic and just a little too much salt. The bread was a tad dry and the crusts weren’t nice at all.

Food: The pizza was amazing; best vegan pizza I’ve ever had. Garlic bread was average. I can’t wait to try some of the desserts. 4/5

Service: Basic. 3/5

Setting: Cheap take away venue that hasn’t been updated in a long while. 2/5

Overall: Great vegan pizza so who cares about the rest. It’s a suburban take away; it’s not meant to be pretty. 3.5/5

Papa Mia's Wood Oven Pizza on Urbanspoon

 

 

Recipe: Creamy Tomato Pasta

This recipe is based on the recipe of a friend of mine; the original can be found here. I was a little unsure about this as I’ve never had a creamy tomato dish before, but I had some discounted Tofutti to use so I tried it.

Ingredients:

500 Grams of Pasta (I used penne).
Salt for the Pasta water.

1 Small Onion, diced.
2 Teaspoons of Garlic, crushed.
100 Grams of Mushrooms, sliced.
1 Teaspoon each of Dried Thyme, Dried Basil and Dried Oregano (or whatever Italian herbs you want).
1/2 a 700 Gram Jar of Passata (pureed Tomatoes).
125 Grams of Cherry Tomatoes, halved.
Olive Oil.
100 Grams of Spinach.
1 Tub of Vegan Cream Cheese (I used Tofutti).
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Method:

Boil water in a medium pan, then add salt and the Pasta. Cook until tender, drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan heat the Olive Oil then add the Onion and Garlic. Cook until Onion is see through, stirring occasionally.

Add the Herbs, the Mushrooms and the Cherry Tomatoes, cook until softened.

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Onions, Herbs and Mushrooms

Add the Passata and stir through.

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Tomato!

Add the Cream Cheese and combine thoroughly.

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After the cheese is stirred in

Stir through the Spinach and add the Salt and Pepper.

Add the pasta and stir through.

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Ready to eat

Verdict: So creamy! I can’t believe my friend actually suggests using 2 tubs of Cream Cheese! Despite the creaminess the dish still has a strong tomato flavour. It’s nice but I wouldn’t make it again. Nothing wrong with it, it’s just not my thing.

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: Salted Caramel Sauce

Ah salted caramel. Something I’d never heard of until a few years ago and now it’s on every menu. When it’s good it amazing, when it’s bad it’s still pretty tasty. Regular readers may remember me singing the praises of Eggless’s salted caramel sauce and I order it whenever I see it on the menu (if it’s vegan obviously) but I’ve never tried to make it myself. Why? Because my one attempt at making caramel went badly.

I used a recipe from the Australian cooking competition show My Kitchen Rules.

Ingredients:

220g (7 3/4 ounces) of Caster Sugar.
80ml (2 2/3 fluid ounces) of Water.
250ml (8 1/2 fluid ounces) of Thickened Cream. I used Rice Cream.
40g (1 3/8 ounces) of Vegan Margarine. I used Nuttalex.
1tsp of Salt. I used table salt which has a stronger flavor than rock or sea salt.

Method:

Stir Sugar and Water in a medium heavy based saucepan over medium heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves.

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Sugar and water, pre cooking

Use a wet pastry brush to brush any stray grains on side of pan back down into mixture. I didn’t do this bit.

Bring to the boil.

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On the boil

Bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, without stirring, until mixture turns a rich golden brown. This may take longer than you expect but keep an eye on it as it can turn very quickly. Mine didn’t heat evenly and I had one section go very dark and start to burn while the rest was still pale gold. Fortunately it didn’t effect the flavor.

Remove from the heat.

Add 1/3 of the Cream and whisk in (note to self buy a whisk). It will froth up. Any crystals and thicker caramel will reincorporate on the heat.

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Caramel

Return to the heat and add the remaining Cream, the Margarine and the Salt. Whisk it together then turn off the heat and cool to room temperature. It may seem a bit thin but don’t worry it thickens as it cools.

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Now what am I going to do with all this?

Verdict: Yummy. Just the right amount of salt. It took longer than I thought and that was annoying as I got quite impatient. Despite this it was quite simple to make. I will make it again and I might use coconut cream to see what it tastes like. Now I just have to decide what to use this for…

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.