Sunday, October 30, 2011

Carrot Curry Puffs

The Vegan MoFo Iron Chef Challenge # 3 - Carrots & Oats!  What a great idea.  I just had to wrap my creation in puff pastry because I am pretty sure that just about anything can be improved by wrapping it in puff pastry.  I am just such a classy girl like that  :)

2 cups cooked, mashed carrot and pumpkin
(I used 2 large carrots and a chunk of pumpkin which came to a total of 500gm of raw veggies)
300mg silken tofu, also mashed
1 tablespoon oil (I used peanut oil)
1 medium sized onion chopped very finely
1 small garlic clove crushed
1/2 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder (more or less depending on your taste buds)

3 sheets of puff pastry
A little soy milk or oil to brush the tops with
Poppy seeds to decorate

1. Prepare mashed carrot and pumpkin (if you haven't already)
2. Preheat oven to hot (220oC).  Line a tray with baking paper.
3. Lay the 3 sheets of puff pastry out to soften.
4. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil until translucent.
5. Add the ginger and curry powder and fry for a couple of minutes.
6. Combine the mashed veggies, tofu and onion mixture.
7. Cut the puff pastry sheets into halves.  You will now have 6 rectangles.
8. Make a "log" of the mixture along each rectangle.
9. Roll the pastry over the log.  Carefully cut into desired size.  I like party sized rolls so I cut each log into 5 pieces yielding 30 rolls in total.  (At this point you can store some rolls in the freezer for later.  Make sure you separate the rolls - the plastic sheets that come in the packet to separate each sheet of puff pastry work really well.)
10. Place on the tray with the "join" underneath.  Brush with a little soy milk or oil.  Sprinkle a few poppy seeds on top.
11.  Bake for about 25 minutes - until the pastry is golden and the yummy aroma seeps out of the oven.

A selection of Vegan Puffs.  Yummy!

Well, I now have 3 recipes for vegan puffs, or rolls, or savouries, or whatever you want to call them.   But you will have to come back another day for the other recipes.  They keep really well in the freezer.  Just defrost for 15+ minutes (while the oven preheats).  If I am serving more than one kind at once I make sure I decorate the rolls with different seeds so that people know which one to reach for when they come back for seconds.  And they will come back for seconds.  Serve with dipping bowls of tomato sauce (for true Aussie flavour), chilli sauce, and any other personal favorite sauce.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bounty Slice

The key ingredient for the 3rd Vegan MoFo Iron Chef challenge is coconut.  Mmm, coconut.  I love coconut.  I adore coconut - in curries, in chocolate, and in desserts of all descriptions.

But what to make for the challenge?  Maybe a slice?  Dear husband asked if the filling would be like a Bounty.  Perfect!  Just the inspiration I needed.  Thank you dear husband.

Here is what I came up with:

I am very happy with the result.  It is very, very rich.  It is really a no-bake confectionery, rather than a slice. So if you make it please cut it into small squares.  You have been warned!  I cut mine into 48 squares.  Dear husband and I have eaten a few each and now we can't even contemplate dinner.

If I make this again I think I will keep the coconut layer thinner, but keep the proportions of the ingredients the same as it was just delicious.  Who am I kidding?  "If"!  I will definitely be making this again.  Hmmm, better yet, maybe next time I will make just as much filling, double the base and chocolate, and make it in a bigger tray!  Then there will even be enough to share.

250gm biscuits (cookies)
125gm margarine, melted

1 can coconut cream
60gm margarine
½ cup castor sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2½ cup dessicated coconut

125gm chocolate
½ vegetable oil eg canola oil - NOT olive oil

1. Line a slice tray
2. Crush the biscuits.  Mix in the melted margarine.  Press into tray.
3. In a saucepan combine the coconut cream, margarine, castor sugar and vanilla essence.  Heat until well combined and then simmer for 5 minutes over a low heat, stirring frequently.
4. Stir in the coconut then spread over the biscuit base.
5. Refrigerate until set (I popped mine in the freezer for 30 minutes and then the fridge for an hour).
6. Melt the chocolate and oil together.  Spread over the slice.  Refrigerate for ~ 15 minutes until just set then cut into squares.  (Don't let the chocolate get too hard before you try to cut it.)  Refrigerate for a further 30 minutes before serving.

For the base I used McVities Hobnobs.  They were perfect.  What a great vegan find.  But what a shame that it is a 400gm packet and I only needed 250gm for the base.  Dear husband and I had to eat a few with a glass of creamy soy milk while we waited for the slice to set.  No wonder we are too full for dinner!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Banoffee Coffee Squares

Has it really been a whole week since the last Vegan MoFo Iron Chef challenge?  Apparently it has.

I had a few bananas sitting on my kitchen bench that were just passed that pleasant eating stage but not yet at banana bread stage.  So when I found out that the 2 ingredients for the Vegan MoFo Iron Chef Challenge #2 were bananas and coffee I knew that I just had to give it a try.

My offering:  Banoffee Coffee Squares!

⅓ cup coffee (how strong you make it is up to you)
60gm Vegan margarine
1 cup dates (100gm)
½ cup Brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 ripe bananas, mashed (200gm, 3/4 cup)

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup castor sugar
125gm Vegan margarine

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Line a shallow baking tray.  (Mine was 17cm x27cm - weird numbers!)
3. Reserve 2 tablespoons of coffee and set aside.  Combine the rest of the coffee in a pot with the 60gm margarine, dates, brown sugar and vanilla essence.  Heat until the margarine is melted. Reduce the heat and simmer for ~ 8 minutes until the dates are all squishy.  Set aside.
4. Mix the flour, baking powder and castor sugar together.  Add the margarine and cut in or rub with finger tips.  Add the 2 tablespoons of coffee and cut in with a knife.  Kneed together briefly to combine.
5. Take ¾ of the dough and press into the baking tray.
6. Mix the mashed bananas into the date mixture.
7. Spread the date mixture over the base.
8. Take the remaining ¼ of the dough and drop/crumble small piece of it over the date mixture.
9. Bake for ~ 22 minutes.  (I baked mine for 25 minutes and I think the base was just a few minutes overdone.

These are perfect with a cup of coffee (or tea in my case).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Iron Chef Challenge: Chickpea, Ginger and Peanut Curry

Here is my response to the Vegan MoFo Iron Chef Challenge #1.  The challenge was to come up with an original recipe using chick peas.

Before I present my offering - a disclaimer.  I had been planning to make Ginger Peanut Soup for dinner tonight.  It is a fabulous recipe that a friend gave me recently (thanks Sarah!) and we love it.  Not wanting to miss out on the Iron Chef fun I decided to mod the recipe, including of course, adding the all important chick peas.

So my recipe is not really one that I have created from scratch.  I did adjust the amounts of some of the ingredients and I added potatoes, coriander, a little lemon, coconut milk and of course chickpeas.  Will this be acceptable for the challenge or am I disqualified?

Challenge aside, the result was a delicious, creamy, satisfying, multicultural, soupy curry.  We had it on its own, however you could serve it with rice, naan or even couscous if you wanted to. 

3 tablespoons oil (I used peanut oil)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
2 potatoes, diced
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups cauliflower, divided into small florets
2 cups broccoli, divided into small florets
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chickpeas
2 cups vegetable stock
⅓ cup natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
½ cup coconut milk
Squeeze of lemon juice (about 1 teaspoon)
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Saute the onion, garlic, ginger, potatoes and cayenne pepper in the oil for ~ 10 minutes.
2. Add the cauilflower, broccoli, tomatoes, chickpeas, stock, peanut butter and coriander.  Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
3. Add the coconut milk and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a drizzle of coconut milk.

Vegan Solidarity

I am enjoying checking out lots of vegan blogs that are taking part in Vegan MoFo.  I open the blogroll on and then randomly click on a bunch of blogs with interesting sounding names.  I have come across all sorts of interesting people and yummy recipes.

In day to day life it is easy to feel like an odd ball for your diet choices.  So it is really nice to be reminded that you are not alone.  There are so many vegans out there.  From many walks of life and with many different motivations for choosing a vegan diet and lifestyle.  It is very encouraging to a vegan apprentice to encounter all these wonderful vegans and, of course, their mouth watering recipes.

I am also very grateful to have lovely friends who are vegetarian and are very vegan friendly.  And who have shown an interest in my apprenticeship, loaned me vegan cookbooks and encouraged me in blogging about it.  Thanks!

Girl Swinging - Thank You Graphic
That's me on the swing.  See how happy I am?
And I am also very grateful for dear husband.  He lead the way to vegetarianism many years ago.  And now he is being so supportive of my vegan apprenticeship.  He has applauded all my efforts and encouraged me to stick with it and keep blogging.  And he helps me with technical computer stuff when I get stuck.

Little Girl Showing Love 
Yes that's me too, in my rainbow outfit.  So photogenic.
Sure I get some good natured teasing at family get-togethers (that is what brothers are for isn't it?).  But overall family, friends and work colleagues have shown only the occasional eyebrow raise and have for the most part been supportive.  In return I am trying not to be a militant vegan and respect others food choices.  But that doesn't mean I can't make yummy things to share to show that being vegan is not all about eating rabbit food!

No that's not me.  It is a winking lego head.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vegan Envy

Moving further along the food spectrum towards Veganism has been a pretty smooth ride.  With all sorts of vegan "milks" in the supermarket and quite a few vegan convenience foods available it has been roughly 10 times easier than I thought it would be!

A friend sent me this link to a recipe for Pumpkin Muffins on the PETA website.  They look and sound scrummy, but as I scanned the list of ingredients I found it included vegan cream cheese. 

Well vegan cream cheese may be lining the streets in New York and San Fransisco, but good luck finding it within a 10km radius of my home!  Now I know that I can make these muffins and improvise on the topping and they will still be delicious.  But it is times like this that I feel a little vegan envy.

I know I should be grateful for the stacks of vegan convenience foods that are available in most shops now.  In fact, really I should just be more than grateful for 3 square meals a day.  But sometimes, like when I see a recipe for Vegan 4 cheeses pizza, I feel a little envious of the big city vegans who have such a great range of vegan products available and many more options to eat out.

At times like these I remind myself to focus on the yummy food I can eat rather than feeling envious of the animal-ridden food that I am trying to avoid.  Rather than thinking "boo hoo, no pizza or cream cakes today",  I try to think "hooray, cherry ripe cookies and vegan sausage rolls."

I admit it doesn't always work, and I still occasionally buy something from the evil, tempting, corrupting bakery down the street.  (Note to self: do NOT go past the bakery when you are pre-menstrual!)  But most of the time it does work and I very content with my (mostly) vegan diet.

I do feel very glad that I am veganizing at a time when so many vegan options are available.  It must have been much harder work, and so much more restrictive, for people taking this journey 20 years ago.  Now I don't even have to miss out on chocolate biscuits!

And of course it is going to get even easier.  As more people make the move towards a vegan diet there will be more demand for vegan products including vegan choices in restaurants, and even, gasp, more vegan restaurants!

This rambling post has reminded me that I haven't shared my recipes for vegan sausage rolls yet.  RecipeS is correct because I have more than one version already, and I have a few more variations in mind.  You can hardly go wrong when you wrap just about any tasty filling in puff pastry.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Vegan MoFo

When I hear the term MoFo the first thing that comes to mind is a rather less PC term than Month of Food.  But that is what it stands for in the case of Vegan MoFo.

The concept was started over at The Post Punk Kitchen.  Nothing surprising here as lots of good things start over at PPK such as chocolate cupcakes and other mouthwatering treats.
"VeganMoFo was originally created on the Post Punk Kitchen, as an homage to NaNoWriMo. Because we do want to write novels, but sometimes cooking gets in the way. So why not combine them!"
Now that is an idea that I can get behind (although I am not letting my self off the hook re: NaNoWriMo).

The idea is to write at least 20 blogs (one each weekday - you have grace on the weekends) in October that somehow relate to veganism.  After September's abysmal 87% (just kidding) I did not quite feel ready to commit to another month of blogging pressure.  So I have not officially signed up for Vegan MoFo but I don't plan on missing out on the fun entirely! 

For a list of the blogs of the intrepid souls who have signed up look here:  The definitive list of all MoFo-ers in 2011.   I am certain you will find some very interesting reading and inspiration.  (What do you think I have spent half my afternoon doing?)

My plan for October is to catch you up on some of the highs and lows, triumphs and challenges, of my vegan apprenticeship.  Yes I know that I said I was going to write more experience posts at the beginning of September and then I didn't (chalk that up as another fail).  But this time I really mean it. 

As a sneak peak I can tell you that this vegan thing is mostly easier than it looks.  (Phew!)   But there have been some challenges and I am still a long way from being 100% animal product free. 

Over the next month I aim to update you about how my vegan quest has been received by friends, family and cafe staff, the easy changes to make, the accidental (and intentional) stuff ups, the foods I have missed and the quagmires of trying to avoid vegan self-righteous fundamentalism.

And somewhere along the way I will make a decision for a challenge bigger than my vegan apprenticeship - whether to sign up for NaNoWriMo this year, or use the move to a new house in November as my excuse for putting it off for another year.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I kind of limped towards the end of the 30 day blog September challenge.  And then just sat by the side of the road and failed to cross the finish line.

26 posts over 30 days.  Still, that is 87% which is a high distinction (or an A+ for those who still think in the old grading system).  So although I have been walking around feeling a bit guilty about failing the challenge, I have now decided to get over it and be happy with my effort anyway!

It has been a busy month for me.  Not least because we bought a house.

Wait.  Did you catch that?  We bought a house!  Picture me doing a little excited jig at the prospect of living in my own home soon.   Well, when I say that we "bought a house", I mean we have signed papers agreeing to buy a house.   Settlement is not until November and the actually paying will be going on for quite some time.

In order to get to the point of buying the house we had to make some very big decisions (ie we are staying in Perth for at least the foreseeable future) and, being the over-analyzer that I am, meant a lot of research into where and what to buy, and then lots and lots and lots of looking at homes for sale.  Phew, glad that part is over.

I have also been busy with work, and study and all the usual stuff, but it was the house hunting and stress of decision making that pushed me over the edge.  So, that is my excuse for stumbling towards the end of the challenge.

The good thing is that eating vegan at home is really not difficult and does not have to be time consuming at all.  Neither does it have to be fancy, expensive or pretentious.  Hopefully over the month I have been able to show you that much at least.  Baked beans on toast for dinner is a perfectly acceptable meal when time is short.  And vegan-convenience food (eg "sausages" or lentil patties) + a pile of microwaved/steamed/boiled veggies is a fantastically healthy meal that won't break the budget and will meet your nutritional needs.

Thanks again to Good Reason for the 30 day blog September inspiration.  I greatly admire those who did complete the challenge.  A big gold star and lots of respect to you.

Here a few pictures of my new house (lifted from the real estate web site) for anyone who is interested and wants to share in my excitement.   It has a one lovely gum tree and a rather excessive number of palm trees.  Personally I would have preferred more gum trees and less palm trees, but hey, you can't have everything you want.

Can you see the house?  It is the brick thing hiding behind the palm trees.
Yes it is very 80's and perhaps a little ugly, but plenty of room for vegan baking.
Look at my double pantry! Think of all the vegan baking ingredients I can store in there!