Saturday, July 23, 2011

Midnight Cookies

Last night after watching the movie "Morning Glory" (which I really enjoyed despite having never heard of it before last night and it being pretty predictable), my husband and I had a hankering for donuts.  One of the last scenes involves a grizzly Harrison Ford, actually, I won't describe the scene in case you haven't seen it and want to watch it.  Our internet searching brought up some yummy sounding recipes for vegan donuts, but unfortunately I did not have a full compliment of ingredients for any of the recipes :(

However, by that time the urge to bake and eat was too strong so I had to make something.  What could I bake at midnight with the contents of my pantry?  The recipe I came up with is loosely based on Afghan biscuits - which by the way apparently originated in New Zealand.   Why are they called Afghans?  I dunno.   Internet searching throws up a few possibilities as to why - none of which seem very PC.  First Anzacs, now Afghans.  How awful!  What will I be baking next!

Well, as my cookies have a few significant differences I have taken the liberty of renaming them Midnight Cookies in honor of the ideal time to bake them.  I am sure you could make some changes depending on what is in your pantry when the craving strikes eg throw in some nuts instead of the sultanas or coconut.

Midnight Cookies
Makes about 22 cookies

150g margarine
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/4 cup soy milk
1 cup plain flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sultanas

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC
2. Line two trays with baking paper.
3. Beat the margarine and sugar until fluffy.
4. Add the vanilla essence and soy milk and beat well.
5. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with metal spoon until just combined.
6. Drop tablespoon sized blobs onto the lined baking trays.  They will not spread much at all so you can space them pretty close. 
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on how moist vs crunchy you want them to be.
8. Allow to cool.
9. If you want to (and you have some in your pantry) add a dollop of melted vegan chocolate to the top of each cookie. 
10. Grab a glass of cold soy milk and enjoy!

For the chocolate on top of my cookies I melted 6 pieces of Sweet William dairy free chocolate from the multipack with a dash of canola oil.  If you are melting chocolate in the microwave be very careful not to overdo it or you will ruin the chocolate.  Make sure that your bowl and stirring spoon are very clean.  I do it in spurts of 30-45 seconds stirring after each blast.  Adding a dash of oil helps to keep it smooth and makes it easier to spread.

NB - the photos were taken this morning.  Not very good that there are only 8 biscuits left - considering I made 22 last night and there were only 2 of us here to eat them last night.

Actually make that only 6 biscuits left!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vegan Recipe Books Galore

A friend is moving to Canada for at least a year.  And guess who she left all her vegan recipe books with?  (If you didn't guess that it's me then you are obviously not paying attention.)

I have had a wonderful time sitting on my couch and flicking through these books and dreaming of all the wonderful recipes I am going to make.  I have already made a few things - some amazing and perfect, some, well, perhaps my over zealous beating has negatively effected the outcome.

A few nights ago I made the Corn Chowder from Vegan with a Vengence by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (of Post Punk Kitchen fame).
You can find the recipe here: Corn Chowder on CHOW

Yes I know that Corn Chowder might seem like a bit of a tame choice because I made my own version recently, but hey, Corn Chowder is great for winter evenings and I wanted to compare.

The verdict: Isa's version is yummy but really, maple syrup in Corn Chowder??  I just couldn't bring myself to put maple syrup in Corn Chowder.  Also, I must confess that I left out the jalapeños.  I love the taste of jalapeños, but I figured that the addition of red bell pepper (or capsicum as we like to call it in Australia) and the jalapeños might just be a bit too much irritation for my reflux prone oesophagus.  (Is that too much information?)

I like the subtle leek flavour in my version, but I think the addition of lime juice in Isa's is great.  I am sure there will be plenty more Corn Chowder consumption in my household this winter, and I suspect future recipes will be hybrids of the two versions.  But I can assure you that maple syrup will be reserved for pancakes and baking, not for soup sweetening.  You might be thinking "Why doesn't she just try a little maple syrup in her soup" but to me right now that just seems yuck! 

If you have had soup with maple syrup in it I would love to hear about it.  Was it sickly or was it divine?

I will miss my lovely friend very much.  But I sure am enjoying her cook books!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Anzac Slice

I love Anzac biscuits, they are just so delicious in all their golden syrupy, chewy glory.  Chewy because that is how I like them - out of the oven in no more than 18 minutes.  Revered since childhood in Australia and New Zealand because of the association with brave soldiers who we pictured as carrying them around in biscuit tins.

It might seem like a strange choice for a moderate pacifist.  But it is an obvious choice for a vegan - the recipe never included eggs due to war time scarcity.  And of course it is very simple to replace the butter with vegan margarine.

For this batch I ditched the coconut, reduced the sugar and added some nuts, seeds and dried fruit.  I squished the mixture all down in a tin rather than forming separate biscuits.

I was enjoying them all the more because I was kidding myself that they are somewhat healthy.  Hmmm.  I don't like my shiny new kitchen scales anymore.  Heartless tool of scientific inquiry!

I cut the slice into 24 squares resulting in the following nutritional data per serving:
  • 710 Kj = 170cal 
  • 3.3g Protein
  • 9.9g Fat
  • 17.4g Carbs
  • 9.1g Sugars
And, I might add, calculating the values for each of the ingredients took considerably longer than I had expected.

Oh well, at least the nutritional value of the slice is much higher than chocolate cake.  There is a good range of proteins, some fibre and zero cholesterol (as in all vegan food).  Well, that's me convinced - might just have another one now with a cup of tea!

If you want to try making them, here is the recipe:

1 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup seeds
1 cup dried fruit
1 cup nuts
125g margarine
1/3 cup golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda

For the slice pictured I used:
Seeds - 1/2 cup sunflower seeds and 1/4 cup each of sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds
Dried Fruit - 1/2 cup each of sultanas and cranberries
Nuts - 1/2 cup each of walnut pieces and slivered almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC.
2. Grease and/or line a baking tray with baking paper.  I used a rectangular 30cm x 20cm tray.
3. Lightly toast the seeds under a grill. 
4. Combine all the ingredients except the last 3 in a bowl, mix well and form a well in the centre.
5. Place the margarine and golden syrup in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until melted.
6. Dissolve the bicarb in 1 tablespoon of boiling water and then pour into the melted margarine mixture.  It will froth up (This is my favourite bit!)  Immediately pour this into the dry ingredients and mix well.
7. Press down well into the tray
8. Bake for 18 minutes, or longer if you would like a more crispy slice.
9. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then slice into squares.  Allow to cool fully before removing from the tray if you can (my husband and I tend to eat at least 2 squares worth each while it is still in the tray).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My New Toy

Today I bought myself a set of kitchen weighing scales.  Aren't they just so beautiful and shiny?

I have never had kitchen scales before, so when recipes have called for Xgm of an ingredient I have always had to guess or find some way to convert it to something simpler - like cups.  This has been a much easier task in recent years with so many internet sites to do the conversions for me.

Now I know that kitchen scales might not sound very exciting, but I have been having a ball.  Weighing, measuring, calculating and planning.  I have been getting the nutritional data from this site: Self Nutrition Data

So you can look forward to all kinds of interesting stats appearing in future posts.  At the moment I am pretty focused on protein content.  Not because I think you need to struggle to get sufficient protein on a vegan diet, but rather to show how easy it is.

Here they are with a nice dusting of flour after being used today.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Genesis in the Hills

No I have not forgotten about blogging, or about my vegan apprenticeship.  I have just been busy with an exam and moving house.  Ok, so yes, maybe I have been a bit lazy too.

So what better way to jump back into blogging than with my very first restaurant review.  (I am glad the spell checker is working or right now you would be laughing at how I spelled restaurant.)

The subject of my debut restaurant review: Genesis in the Hills.  What a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon!  A vegetarian paradise and a vegan refuge.  (Am I getting carried away?  Maybe I need an editor.)

It is a bit of drive from the city to the Perth Hills.  So it is not really convenient for an "I'm hungry - where is the nearest vegan friendly restaurant" kind of moment.  But it definitely lends itself to a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive and a long relaxing lunch.

From the car park it is a short walk up the garden path to the restaurant.  

Up the Garden Path.  Thanks for the photo Brett.
Being a sensible sweet toothed vegan apprentice I ordered the lentil and vegetable soup for lunch, leaving plenty of room for dessert!  The soup was light and refreshing, rather than hearty.  It was served with a couple of slices of nutty rye bread baked.  The bread was baked on the premises and was really delicious.

Lentil and Vegetable Soup.
The most popular choice at our table was the veggie burger.  I thought it was beautifully presented.  But one of the veggie-burger-eaters commented that they like to be able to pick a burger up to eat it.  This was not an eat with you hands kind of burger.

Veggie Burger.
The desserts looked amazing.  My choice was obvious: "The Vegan Cake".  It didn't seem to have any other name that I could tell.  When the waiter brought the cakes over to our table he called out "Vegan Cake" with more decibels than really seemed necessary.  At least in a vegetarian restaurant the word vegan does not draw the stares that it might have in a more mainstream establishment.

The Vegan Cake.

Verdict on The Vegan Cake?  Amazing!  Fudgey, moist, sweet, but not too sweet.  So satisfying.  Think sticky date pudding with figs and walnuts instead of dates and caramel.  Fortunately someone reminded me to take a photo before I gobbled it all down.  My camera was not doing it justice at all, so thanks Brett for letting me use your camera to take this photo and the one below.  I have been wanting to buy a new camera for a while.  Now I really, really, really want a new camera.

The proprietor was kind enough to pose for a photo.  She was worried because there was not many slices of cake left for the photo.   That kind of seems like a good sign to me - as it shows that plenty of cake had been eaten!

The friendly proprietor, Rivka, and what remains of the cakes.

The prices where pretty standard cafe prices.  The bill for my husband and I came to $57 for 2 mains, 3 hot drinks and 2 slices of cake.

Will I go take the drive out to Genesis in the Hills again?  Absolutely!  I would take the trip just for the cake.  I would have bought a few take-home slices on Sunday, but unfortunately I had already eaten the last slice!