Friday, March 30, 2012

Thai chickpea patties

I love when using up remnants in the fridge results in a delicious meal. This one began with asian greens I felt like having as a side dish rather than a tofu/veg combination as we had eaten tofu the night before.  After brainstorming what to serve the greens with, I was drawn to Kari from Bite-sized thoughts recent Thai vegetarian cakes recipe.

Kari used mashed butter beans in her cakes and recommended that other white beans or chickpeas could also be a good choice. Chickpeas sounded good to me until I started mashing them with a fork! I have little patience when it comes to mashing beans so they ended up going in the food processor with the potatoes which saved me some time and sanity. I was pleased with this decision because the mixture turned out so smooth, it reminded me of mum's salmon patties which I used to eat doused in tomato sauce as I never liked seafood flavours although I did love their texture.

I swapped the lemon for kaffir lime leaves as we have a small tree growing in our garden and I love to use the fresh leaves whenever appropriate. One of the young man's favourite condiments is sweet chilli sauce so I removed this from the recipe and planned to serve it on the side instead. A few other ingredients were added in it's place to give the patties some spice and I also used some baking powder as I recalled enjoying the fluffiness that it brought to the healthy baked falafels I made from Appetite for Reduction. The pattie mixture turned out nice and firm and I had no qualms about them falling apart as they were frying.

The young man and I loved these patties, the man liked them but mentioned not being a huge fan of the kaffir lime flavour which I found odd as it doesn't seem to bother him in a Thai curry. The kaffir lime was a highlight for me and I preferred to eat the patties plain rather than with sweet chilli sauce. The man tried all sorts of condiments I thought were odd and decided that he liked them best with my tomato and chilli relish whereas the young man was more than happy with his beloved sweet chilli sauce.      

The recipe below was just enough to satisfy the three of us so I would recommended doubling it for a larger crowd. I'm sure that leftovers would taste great too!  

Thai chickpea patties (Adapted from Bite-sized thoughts)

150g small waxy potatoes
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 birds eye chilli, minced
2 kaffir lime leaves, minced
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cornflake crumbs (I normally use fresh breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely
olive oil, for frying

Peel the potatoes and place into a saucepan full of boiling water. Cook for 15 minutes or until they are soft and then drain. Allow to cool slightly.

Place the potatoes and chickpeas in a food processor and pulse until the chickpeas are completely broken down. Transfer the chickpea/potato mixture to a bowl and stir through the rest of the ingredients thoroughly, except for the olive oil.

Roll the mixture into patties of your desired size with your hands, place them on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat some oil in a frying pan, add the patties and cook them in batches on medium heat until browned, about 3 minutes on each side. Serve with sweet chilli sauce, another condiment of your choice or enjoy them plain as I did.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pizza and pie

Diet, Dessert & Dogs is a fantastic blog full of innovative recipes which has provided me with a few winning meals in recent times (thanks Ricki!). Cindy from where's the beef posted about Ricki's beetroot pepperoni last year which I bookmarked immediately as it sounded fascinating. K from In the Mood for Noodles had also given it the thumbs up so I was very keen to try it. 

It's simple to prepare although it takes a bit of time to cook as the thin slices of beetroot are baked in a marinade for about an hour to absorb the delicious salty, smoky flavours. I followed Cindy's advice about adding a bit more spice to the marinade by increasing the paprika and adding some cayenne pepper. I made the pizza fairly plain to accentuate the flavour of the beetroot pepperoni, topping it with a mixture of tomato paste and pesto, onions, mushrooms and cheezly. When the man discovered my plan to put beetroot on a pizza he wasn't enthused at all but he thoroughly enjoyed the pizza, as did the young man and I.  

Cottage pie was one of the first vegetarian recipes I ever prepared back when we were thinking about converting to vegetarianism. The original recipe I tried was sourced from which has a lentil, vegetable and tomato base. A variation of this recipe became a semi-regular meal for many years as the man and young man regard it highly and request it often.

It has never been a favourite meal of mine so when the young man began to grow tired of the old cottage pie, I decided it was time for a revamp. I couldn't resist using some faux ground meat made of cauliflower and nuts in the base, this is another wonderful recipe from Diet, Dessert and Dogs I have used in various ways several times before. This meal turned out to be another winner which is likely to be repeated in the future.

There is one other recipe of Ricki's which I would love to tell you about, alas I didn't take a photo at the time. This will have to wait for another post!

Beetroot pepperoni (Adapted from Diet, Dessert & Dogs and where's the beef)

2 medium sized beetroots
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vegan beef stock powder
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon ground dried sage

Preheat oven to 170C. Peel the beetroots and slice thinly. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a baking tray then add the beetroot slices to the tray, ensuring they are coated with the marinade. Spread the beetroot slices in a single layer.

Bake for 20 minutes then flip the slices over, basting them in the marinade. Keep baking until the slices start to look dry and curl up at the edges, flipping and basting the slices in 10 minute intervals. The total baking time took mine almost an hour.

Cottage pie (Featuring ground "meat" from Diet, Dessert & Dogs)

1 kg potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon dairy-free margarine
soy milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, diced
1/2 quantity ground meat
1 1/2 cups vegan beef stock or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon vegan worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 180C. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes to the pot and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Drain the potatoes in a colander. Mash the potatoes with the dairy-free margarine and enough soy milk to create your desired consistency.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook until softened. Stir through the garlic for a minute, then mix in the carrot. Cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally then add the ground meat, beef stock, worchestershire sauce and tomato paste. Simmer covered for 10-15 minutes until the carrots have softened then stir through the peas. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the ground meat mixture in the bottom of a 20cm x 20cm casserole dish. Cover with the mashed potato and smooth it out to the edges so it entirely covers the filling. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the mashed potatoes are starting to brown.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Iskender Kebab

A few months ago I made a frivolous comment about veganising an Iskender Kebab. The man and young man were rather keen on the thought of Iskender Kebab but I wasn't sure how to pull it off at the time so I added it to my "ideas" list for the future. The man was given a peek at this list recently as I wanted him to select a couple of items from it and his top pick was Iskender.

For the uninitiated, Iskender Kebabs are traditionally comprised of thinly sliced gyros meat served on top of cubes of Turkish pide which is covered with a tomato sauce and yoghurt and garnished with fresh tomato slices and parsley. We used to order them from a local kebab shop, obviously back when we were omnivores.

The main hurdle I needed to overcome was creating a decent Turkish pide. My previous attempt of making pide last year had shattered my confidence as the bread turned out almost rock hard! After looking up a few recipes, I made this one from and halved the recipe in case it didn't yield satisfactory results. This dough was extremely pliable and stretching out the pide to an even consistency proved to be a bit of a challenge. As you can see in the photo above, the centre of the pide turned out a lot browner and crispier due to the dough being too thin in this area. Regardless of these minor issues, the pide turned out so much nicer than than the one I tried previously. 

The gyros part didn't require much thought as we loved the taste and texture of the gyros seitan I adapted from I Eat Grains! last year. Both times I have added 1/4 cup chickpea flour to Rachel's recipe as I have found that seitan recipes from the US usually turn out moister than they should be. I found it interesting during recipe testing that someone from the UK mentioned that their gluten flour requires less liquid to be added than the US recipes state. Perhaps the vital wheat gluten used in the US acts a bit differently to the gluten flour available in other parts of the world.

The tomato sauce seemed too easy after looking up a few Iskender recipes. They all called for tomato paste with some water and melted butter with a few adding in a pinch of cayenne. A true vegan cultured yoghurt felt like way too much to tackle this time around so I decided to use something in it's place that we all adore, cashew cream.

We all loved this meal, it satisfied our kebab cravings and it was a lot of fun to plan and put together. There were quite a few steps involved in the recipe but it was spread over the course of a few days to lighten the load. There was some seitan leftover so for lunch the following day we had wrap style kebabs using store bought pita bread and I added some garlic to the remainder of the cashew cream. Iskender is not something I can see myself making on a regular basis but I'm sure it will be requested again in the future.

Iskender Kebab

Olive oil, for frying
1/2 quantity seitan gyros, sliced thinly
Turkish pide, cut into bite sized pieces and kept warm
Tomato sauce
Cashew cream
Fresh tomato slices and parsley, for garnish

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and cook the seitan in batches until browned on both sides.

Arrange the pieces of turkish pide on serving plates and place the seitan slices on top. Cover with some  tomato sauce and cashew cream and garnish with fresh tomato slices and parsley.

Turkish Pide (Adapted from

250g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon dried yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup lukewarm water
Olive oil, for greasing
3/4 teaspoon nigella (black onion, kaloonji) seeds
3/4 teaspoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoons dairy-free margarine, melted
2 teaspoon olive oil

Mix together the sugar, yeast and warm water in a small jug and set aside for a few minutes until it becomes frothy.

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the water into the well and mix the wet and dry ingredient together with your hands.

Tip the dough onto a clean bench and knead for about 10 minutes, after this time the dough should be smooth and springy. Lightly cover the dough with oil and place in a bowl. Cover with a tea towel and position in a warm spot for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.    

Preheat the oven to 230C and place a baking tray on the centre shelf. Place the dough on a floured surface and flatten slightly with your hands. Transfer to a baking sheet and cover with a damp tea towel for 15 minutes.

Stretch the dough out to a rectangular shape of approximately 40 x 18 cm. Leave on the baking paper and cover with the tea towel again. After 10 minutes, remove the tea towel and brush the top of the bread with a mixture of melted margarine and olive oil. Sprinkle the nigella and sesame seeds on top.

Remove the baking tray from the oven and slide the pide on the baking paper onto the tray. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the top of the bread turns a golden colour. 

Tomato sauce

1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup water
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon dairy-free margarine

Stir together the tomato paste,water and cayenne pepper (if using) in a saucepan. Add the dairy-free margarine and heat on a low flame until the margarine has melted.

Cashew Cream

1 cup cashews
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon agave nectar
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Soak the cashews in hot water for at least 4 hours. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Place the cashews, water, salt, agave and lemon juice in a blender and process for a few minutes, scraping down the sides if necessary, until it becomes a creamy sauce.  Keep refrigerated in a covered container.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lemon slice

In my childhood there were a couple of sweet recipes that various family members were renowned for bringing along to gatherings. One aunt used to make a chocolate peppermint slice which I veganised for last Christmas. The other popular sweet that used to appear at these family dos was a lemon slice. A different aunt was responsible for this recipe which I had completely forgotten about until recently.

My mum offered to bring it along to the young man's party as my niece and nephew adore this slice. It turned out to be a big hit with my brother-in-law (on the man's side) so mum kindly emailed me the recipe to pass onto him. After scanning the ingredients I had a feeling it would be simple to make a vegan version, dairy-free margarine for butter, soy condensed milk for regular and Nice biscuits instead of Marie.

The slice turned out to be just as delicious with these vegan modifications as I recall it previously. It's a cinch to put together and appeases most tastebuds so I will certainly be making it again.

Lemon slice (Adapted from an old family recipe)

250g Arnott's Nice biscuits
1 cup desiccated coconut, plus extra for topping
300ml Soymilke soy condensed milk
50g dairy free margarine
2 lemons, finely zested and juiced
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essense

Place the biscuits in a food processor and pulse until the biscuits become a fine powder. Transfer the processed biscuits to a bowl and stir through the coconut and lemon zest.

In a small saucepan, heat the condensed milk and margarine together until the margarine has melted, stirring frequently. Pour into the bowl containing the biscuits, coconut and lemon zest and mix everything together thoroughly.

Spread the mixture evenly in a 28 x 18cm tray lined with baking paper. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or until it sets.

Meanwhile, place the icing sugar in a bowl. Add the vanilla essense and slowly drizzle in some of the lemon juice. Mix together until a thick icing results. If the icing is too thick, add a little more lemon juice and if it's too thin, add some more icing sugar.

Spread the icing over the top of the biscuit layer and then sprinkle dessicated coconut on top of the icing. Return to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes then cut into small squares. Store in a container in the fridge.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thai inspired tofu and noodle salad

Salads are not commonly eaten in our house. It is difficult to find ones that suit all of our tastes, given everyone's individual food aversions. When we do eat salads, they are generally served on the side but the recent few days of warm weather motivated me to want a cold meal which is highly unusual. Perhaps this craving was due to some inner guilt as the "must try more salads" pledge I made to myself before the start of summer hadn't eventuated into anything more than a thought.

After rummaging through the pantry and fridge I was inspired to make a noodle salad. I had some left over tofu to use up and discovered half a tin of red curry paste hiding in the back of the fridge. I was in the mood to play around with the ingredients that were on hand rather look up recipes so that's just what I did.

The tofu was marinated in watered down red curry paste and fried briefly. The dressing for the noodles was kept simple, lime juice, Thai thin soy sauce and crushed garlic. Thai thin soy sauce is something I purchased whilst recipe testing, it has a lighter colour and flavour even though the sodium content is higher than regular soy sauce. I used some grated purple carrots as one of the vegetables which stained the noodles slightly as well as adding colour to the salad.

The young man isn't usually interested in salads in the slightest so I was extremely pleased that he liked the look of his dinner before he sat down to eat and then proceeded to devour his bowl with compliments. The tofu was initially quite spicy to eat, stirring it through the noodles toned it down a little as some of the marinade separated from the tofu and blended in with the noodles. The recipe has been written with different serving suggestions and recommended garnishes I didn't have on hand but would love to try next time around.

Thai inspired tofu and noodle salad

250g firm tofu, drained and pressed
3 tablespoons Maesri (or other vegan) red curry paste
3-4 tablespoons water
270g packet soba noodles
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons Thai thin soy sauce (or regular soy sauce or tamari)
1 teaspoon agave nectar
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 carrot, grated
2 x purple carrots, grated
1 small red capsicum, cut into thin strips
75g baby spinach leaves, shredded
lime wedges, to serve

Recommended garnishes
roasted chopped peanuts or cashews
fresh coriander leaves and/or thai basil leaves

Cut the tofu into bite sized cubes. Mix the red curry paste with 3-4 tablespoons of water in a bowl and stir through the tofu, ensuring that all of the cubes are coated in the marinade. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Cook the soba noodles in boiling water according to the package directions. Drain in a colander, then rinse well with cold water. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl.

Whisk together the lime juice, soy sauce, agave and garlic, then pour over the noodles. Add the carrots, capsicum and spinach to the noodles and toss well to combine.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the tofu and cook for a couple of minutes on each side. Allow to cool.

Serve the noodles and vegetables in large bowls, then add the tofu cubes on top. Alternatively, stir the tofu through the noodles and vegetables prior to serving. Garnish with chopped nuts and herbs if desired and serve with a wedge of lime.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tofu Bacon

It's no secret that tofu bacon is consumed on a regular basis in this household. Tofu bacon has featured in many recipes on my blog; calzonespinwheelsbrunches, several pasta dishes, and as a tasty garnish in a creamy cauliflower soup. It also makes a tasty sandwich filling. When it comes to facon we prefer tofu bacon over coconut bacon, tempeh bacon and this bean and buckwheat bacon. Eggplant bacon is still on my list to try!

Although I have posted a recipe for tofu bacon before, I have been meaning to write about it again for a few reasons. The original post (which I have been linking back to often) was early in my blogging days and silly old me didn't include any photos of the tofu bacon. Another reason is that my tofu bacon has improved over time due to the acquisition of a Tofu Xpress and grill pan. Pressing the tofu with the Tofu Xpress makes the texture of the block a lot easier to cut using a cheese slicer and the tofu also soaks up more of the marinade. After the slices are initially fried in the grill pan, I prop them up on the sides of the pan while the next batch is cooking which crisps the slices up further.

I'm sure this won't be the last time you hear me talking about tofu bacon as there are plenty of other recipes which I am planning to include it in the future.

Tofu Bacon (Adapted from a recipe on veggieboards)

350g firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon tomato paste or ketchup
1-2 tablespoons dark brown sugar or maple syrup
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/2-2 teaspoons liquid smoke

Shave the block into long thin slices using a cheese slicer or cut fine slices with a knife. Mix the soy sauce, water, ketchup, brown sugar, nutritional yeast flakes and liquid smoke together in a large shallow dish then add the tofu slices ensuring they all get coated with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.

Heat a non-stick grill pan or frying pan and spray lightly with olive oil. Fry the slices in batches for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy. If you have a grill pan, prop the cooked slices on the side of the pan while the next batch is cooking. Drain on paper towels. The tofu bacon becomes more crispy as it cools down.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tofu Xpress

Tofu has always been a bit hit and miss at home with the others more than myself. Over the last month or so my success rate with tofu has been flawless thanks to this handy device - the Tofu Xpress. I read about this gadget on various US blogs and although it sounded like such a helpful tool to have in the kitchen, I told myself that I didn't really need one. After contemplating purchasing other items for the kitchen that would have been used more infrequently, I decided to buy the Tofu Xpress as it seemed like it was something I would use often. 

The Tofu Xpress is made up of three parts, a container to hold the block of tofu, a pressing plate which is placed on top of the tofu block and the part containing the spring. The latter clips into the grooves in the container which applies pressure to the tofu whilst holding it securely in place. It's a simple yet effective design.    

It's important to place the tofu in the centre of the container particularly if the block is smaller than the container so that the weight is distributed evenly when the pressing is taking place. If the block isn't centred correctly, the tofu can turn out a bit lopsided.

After the tofu has been pressed for an hour or left overnight in the fridge, the entire container is full of liquid. Anywhere from 1/4 - 1/3 of a cup of liquid is expelled which is heaps more than I imagine would have been extracted via my previous method of pressing tofu with paper towels and heavy weights. The size of the block almost halves in size too. The tofu expands again after being placed into a marinade and it soaks up so much more flavour than tofu pressed with heavy weights.

I had been hesitant to grill up tofu steaks for my occasional tofu sceptics before I purchased the Tofu Xpress. Not long after it's arrival, the man and young man were won over with these teriyaki tofu steaks as the flavour that permeated throughout was sensational. The Tofu Xpress is an impressive tool for any tofu lover to have in their kitchen.

One of the downfalls of ordering is that the supplier is in the US and the shipping costs to Australia are quite expensive. The Tofu Xpress costs about $40 with the option to purchase a light tension spring (for pressing silken tofu) for an additional $6. The standard shipping costs were about $20 which bumps the price of the product up considerably and it took just under three weeks to arrive.