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Archive for July, 2010

Sassy Salsas…

Guest Post by Alexandra M.

 At our last BBQ my fellow foodie friend & blogger, Alex, brought along a delicious Mango Salsa which I pretty much scoffed to myself without sharing with anyone else! After weeks of hounding her for this post, I’ve finally manged to get her to share her yummy Summer Salsas with us 🙂 Thank you, Alex! Check out her awesome photos of Hong Kong on her blog ‘From Hong Kong with Love’

Summertime spells S-A-L-S-A in my mind. With the relentless heat in Hong Kong, this cooling mix of bright flavors always hits the spot! Easily adaptable and so simple to throw together at the last minute with whatever you have on hand. Yum!
CORN SALSA


Ingredients:
1 ear Corn on the cob
1 small [Japanese] Cucumber
½ an Orange Pepper [or any, but I like the mix of colors as the salsa already has red, green and yellow]
½ a firm Tomato [or around ½ cup cherry tomatoes]
¼ Red Onion, finely minced
1 handful finely chopped Coriander
Juice of ½ to 1 Lime [I used 1 small key lime]
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional: 1 small Chili, seeds removed [or left in, if you like that sort of thing!] and finely minced
 
– Peel husk off of the Corn and wash it. Thoroughly dry the corn off with a paper towel and grill on a BBQ or grill pan until slightly browned in places and fully cooked. Using a sharp knife, hold the corn over a bowl [I usually do it straight into the bowl I am serving it out of] and slice all the kernels off, scraping residual corn off the cob [carefully] with your knife. Set aside.
– Chop the Cucumber, Orange Pepper and Tomato in to small pieces [sometimes I’m lazy and just quickly chop it all in to chunks, but the more care you take in chopping everything in to very small pieces, the nicer the finished dish will look].
– Place Corn, Cucumber, Pepper, Tomato, Red onion & Coriander in a medium sized bowl. Juice your Lime, pouring the juice over and tossing to evenly mix together and coat all the vegetables. [You can use a juicer, but for a small amount I usually just stick a fork in one half and squeeze the Lime around it. Use the larger or smaller amount of Lime juice depending on your taste, but I usually add the larger amount because i love sour things!]

Delicious on its own as a salad, heaped on tortilla chips, or with grilled skewers on top!       

And two variations using the same method:
MANGO SALSA

1 Mango, peeled & de-seeded and diced in to very small cubes
1 small [Japanese] Cucumber, chopped finely
½ a firm Tomato [or around ½ cup Cherry Tomatoes]
¼ Red Onion, finely minced
1 handful finely chopped Coriander
Juice of ½ to 1 Lime
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional: 1 small chili, seeds removed and finely minced

Chop all vegetables in to small pieces. Add Lime juice and toss well to combine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       BASIC SALSA
 

2-3 firm Tomatoes, chopped in to small pieces
I small Chili, seeded and finely minced
Juice of ½ to 1 Lime
1tsp. Cornstarch

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Whisk cornstarch with lime juice. Add Lime juice to Tomatoes & Chilli, and toss well to combine.

Post by Alexandra M.

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Raw Carob Cheesecake with Almond Crust...

As I may have mentioned before, I always found raw food recipes to be rather intimidating with all the soaking, dehydrating and time consuming preparation, and have therefore hesitated to try my hand at raw desserts…Well, I don’t know what took me so long! The actual assembly of this dessert is simple & fast – all you really need to do is blend the ingredients & pop it in a dish. The only advanced preparation needed is to soak the cashews the night before, and even this isn’t completely necessary,  but I would recommend it as it gives the nuts a creamier texture as well as activating the enzymes in them and making them easier to digest. Coconut Oil can be a bit pricey, but you will need it for this recipe as it is responsible for ‘setting’ the cheesecake (Coconut Oil solidifies in cold temperatures) – it’s also worth investing in to use for baking & cooking, as it is safe to heat to very high temperatures [incidentally, my Indian friends swear by using it on their hair once or twice a month!]. These ‘Cheesecakes’ are so much like the original, in texture and taste, you wouldn’t guess they are raw…Here are two variations for you to try out:

Raw Lemon Cheesecake (modified version of the one found in Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen: Easy, Delectable Living Foods Recipes)

Ingredients:

Crust

1 1/2 cups Nuts (your choice, I used a mixture of Hazelnuts, Walnuts & Cashews) or 1 cup Nut Meal (eg: Almond or Hazelnut)

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/2 cup pitted Dates (soaked in hot water for about 15 mins. to soften)

1/4 cup shredded Coconut

Filling

3 cups raw Cashews (soaked overnight, or atleast 8 hours, in filtered water) and rinsed

3/4 cup fresh Lemon Juice

3/4 cup Agave Syrup (or 1/4 tsp. Stevia powder & 1/3 cup Agave)

3/4 cup Coconut Oil (liquid form)

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

zest of 1 Lemon (optional)

1/2 cup Water, as needed (use the soaking water from the dates)

 

Method:

– For the crust: Process the nuts into small pieces with the salt in a food processor. Slowly add Dates and mix well, then mix in Coconut. Press ‘dough’ into the bottom of a Cheesecake dish or pan (9-inch), and place in refrigerator until needed.

– For the filling: Blend Cashews, Lemon Juice, Agave (and Stevia, if using), Coconut Oil, and Vanilla (and Lemon Zest, if using), in your blender/food processor. Add just enough Water to blend into a smooth ‘cream’. Pour onto the crust in the dish and place in freezer for about an hour until firm. Then refrigerate until serving. (Keeps for about 5 days, if it lasts that long…)

Raw Carob (or Chocolate) Cheesecake (based on a recipe in Kristen Suzanne’s EASY Raw Vegan Desserts: Delicious & Easy Raw Food Recipes for Cookies, Pies, Cakes, Puddings, Mousses, Cobblers, Candies & Ice Creams)

Ingredients:

Crust

1 cup Almond Meal

dash of Salt

1/2 cup of pitted Dates (soaked for about 15 mins.)

1/4 cup shredded Coconut

Filling

3 cups of raw Cashews, soaked overnight (or atleast a few hours) and rinsed

1/3 cup Agave Syrup

1/4 tsp. Stevia powder or another 1/3 cup Agave

1/2 cup fresh Lemon Juice

1/4 cup Water (use soaking Water from Dates)

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

3/4 cup Coconut Oil, liquid form

3/4 cup Carob powder, or Chocolate powder

 

Method:

– For the Crust & Filling: Same as with Raw Lemon Cheesecake, but adding Coconut Oil and Carob powder at the end for the filling, after blending the rest of the ingredients.

Raw Lemon Cheesecake...

 

*Keep in mind that this dessert is packed with calories, albeit good ones, so take it easy…(says me, who devoured a whole Cheesecake to myself in a matter of 2 days -whoops!)

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After a long break from Peanut Butter, all of a sudden I have found myself craving it like crazy in just about any form – but this has been my favourite…I can honestly say that I’ve had this smoothie almost every day for the last few weeks, I’m hooked! For the liquid I use Coconut Water, which has some amazing benefits – it’s hydrating, full of electrolytes & has even been used in blood transfusions due it being identical to blood plasma! I realise that most of you are not living in Asia, and therefore probably don’t have access to an abundance of (cheap) Coconuts, so in that case you can easily swap it for a Milk of your choice. If you do use a Coconut scrape out the meat from inside, using a spoonful of it for your Smoothie, and keep the rest in a tupperware for your next one. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s very important to use frozen Fruit in Smoothies if you want the right texture – so the next time you have some spotty-brown Bananas lying around, just peel them, wrap them up and pop them in the freezer for this yummy Breakfast (or Snack…)!

Ingredients: (about 2 servings)

Water from 1 young Thai Coconut OR about 500ml of  a Milk of your choice (eg: Soy Milk/Almond Milk/Rice Milk)

1 and 1/2 medium Bananas, frozen & chopped

2 Tblsp. Peanut Butter (Use unsalted with no Sugar added if you can…Crunchy or Smooth, up to you)

1 Tblsp. Flax Meal or Chia Seeds

1 Tblsp. Brown Rice Protein Powder (optional)

For some Chocolate goodness: 1 Tblsp. Cocoa/Carob/Cocao Coconut Butter (Yummm…)

 

Method:

You know what to do for this one: Pop it all in your blender and turn it into smooth, creamy, nutty Heaven…!

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I served this dish at a Girl’s Dinner a few nights ago – it’s great to make if you’re feeding a crowd. Risotto usually has Parmesan in it, but you really don’t need it here as it’s definitely not lacking in flavour! The Sundried Tomatoes add a great taste, but you can also leave them out if you prefer. I decided to make this with Barley because I thought the firm chewiness of this wheat-free grain would work well (and it did), but if you don’t have any on hand then it can be substituted with traditional Arborio Rice, or even Short Grain Brown Rice. Switch it up by changing the veg according to your taste…This is not a difficult meal to make, but it does require a good 45 minutes stooped over the stove, so be prepared!

Ingredients: {adapted from Vegie Food (Chunky Food)}

7-8 cups Vegetable Stock

1 cup White Wine

Olive Oil

1/2 Onion, diced

2 cloves Garlic, minced

2 cups chopped Mushrooms (I used Brown, but you can mix and match with any you like)

2 cups Barley

2 tsp. dried Thyme

4-5 Sundried Tomatoes, chopped into small pieces (if dry, rehydrate before use)

2 cups fresh Baby Spinach

 

Method:

– Place the Stock in a large saucepan and bring to boil, then reduce heat and keep at a low simmer.

– Heat Oil in a large saucepan/frying pan, adding Onion and cook for a few minutes until soft and golden. Add Mushrooms, Garlic & Thyme, and saute a few minutes until Mushrooms begin to shrink in size and release water. Slowly add 1/3 cup White Wine, and cook until dissolved. Repeat with another 1/3 cup until dissolved again and Mushrooms are cooked but still firm. Remove half the Mushroom mixture and set aside to add later.

– Stir in the Barley, adding a litte more oil if neccessary, and cook 1-2 mins. with the Mushroom mixture in the pan. Slowly add the left over 1/3 cup White Wine & Sundried Tomatoes, and stir over medium heat until absorbed. Continue adding the stock a little at a time (about 1/2 cup), with a ladle, stirring constantly until absorbed and the Barley is cooked through and creamy. This will take about 40 minutes.

– Roughly shred the Spinach with your hands, and mix into the Risotto with the rest of the Mushroom mixture you set aside before. Cover with a lid and leave for a few minutes for the Spinach to wilt (with heat off).

– Garnish with fresh Parsley if you like.

*About 4 large servings…

 

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For my friend’s birthday I wanted to make something a bit more decadent than the usual cake, and this Chocolate Kahlua combo did not disappoint! It’s a bit more time consuming than the previous Chocolate Cake that I posted, but it’s worth the effort – everyone at the Birthday dinner agreed that this Cake was delicious…The Maple Syrup used in this recipe gives it a mellow sweetness and a moist texture. You could always sub the Kahlua for another Liqueur if you like, or if you would prefer to make this cake alcohol free then you can just replace it with Soymilk. I used two different frostings here, but you can always double up the recipe and just use one of them – the topping is more of a Ganache, and the filling has a buttercream frosting texture…The Cake recipe is an adapted version of the one in More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts Naturally, in which it is fittingly called: ‘The Chocolate Cake to Live for’!

Ingredients & Method:

Chocolate Kahlua Ganache (from ExtraVeganZa: Original Recipes from Phoenix Organic Farm, make this first as it takes a few hours to set)

3/4 cups Dark Chocolate, chips or chunks

1/2 cup Soy Butter/Margerine

2 Tblsp. Kahlua (or other liqueur you prefer)

1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp. Soymilk (I used Chocolate)

 

– Melt chocolate in double boiler, then add Butter and stir until melted. Pour in Kahlua & Soy milk and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.

– Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Chill in fridge until thickened for a few hours, or place in freezer for about 2 hours if you’re in a hurry. Stir vigorously before spreading on cake.

Fudgy Chocolate Frosting: (from Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living)

1 1/4 cup Powdered Sugar

1/4 cup Cocoa powder

1/4 cup Soy Margerine/Butter

1 1/2 Tblsp. Agave Syrup

1 Tblsp. Chocolate Soymilk

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

 

– In a mixing bowl, cream Butter, Agave, Soymilk and Vanilla using a hand mixer. Add sifted Sugar and Cocoa, and beat at low speed until mostly incorporated. Increase speed to medium or high, and beat frosting for 2 mins. until nice and fluffy. Place in fridge to firm up until ready to frost cake.

Chocolate Kahlua Cake: (makes one 9 inch two-layer cake)

1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (or just use more White Flour)

1 cup unbleached White Flour

1/2 cup plus 2 Tblsp. Cocoa powder

1/2 cup Sugar

2 tsp. Baking Powder

2 tsp. Baking Soda

1 tsp. Salt

1/2 tsp. granulated Coffee

1/2 cup Canola Oil

1 cup Maple Syrup

1 1/2 cups Chocolate Soymilk

1/2 cup Kahlua

1 Tblsp. Vanilla Extract

2 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar

*Chocolate shavings (Use a Vegetable peeler to shave Chocolate from a slab)

 

– Preheat oven 350 F/180 C, and oil two 9-inch round Cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper to fit.

– Sift Flour, Cocoa, Sugar, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt and Coffee into a medium sized bowl, and stir with a whisk to combine.

– Whisk Oil, Maple Syrup, Soymilk, Kahlua, Vanilla and Vinegar in a separate small bowl until well blended. Pour into dry mixture and stir with a whisk until the batter is smooth (don’t over stir). The batter will be thin.

– Divide batter evenly between the two pans,  tapping lightly on the counter to eliminate bubbles.

– Bake for 25-30 mins. until the tops of the cakes have set, the sides started pulling away and a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.

– Cool pans on wire rack for 10 mins., then run a knife around the cakes and invert onto a rack. Carefully remove pans and parchment paper. Let cool completely.

– Wrap in plastic wrap over plates, and refrigerate until cold. Once ready, frost bottom layer with Chocolate Frosting, top with second Cake layer and then cover with Chocolate Kahlua Ganache. Refrigerate until Ganache has set and you’re ready to serve.

*Garnish with Chocolate shavings and devour in bliss…

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These next two posts are dedicated to Chocolate Cakes…This one in particular is really the easiest recipe you will ever come across – Vegan or otherwise! There are no Eggs to separate or beat, no messy Butter or Chocolate to melt, and there’s no ‘weird’ replacement ingredients like Soymilk or Tofu. I know it’s not exactly the healthiest cake, as it contains Sugar and Wheat, but for a quick fix (if you need to take something to someone’s house for tea or for a birthday) this is perfect, as it’s simple & easy – anyone can make this cake! I like to mix it up a bit by making it in a loaf tin and adding Nuts, Cranberries & Cinnamon (I call it my ‘Christmas’ Loaf), and people always rave about it. If you’ve previously shied away from Vegan Cake recipes, or even just baking, I urge you to give this a try – you won’t be disappointed!

Ingredients: (from The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks’ Traditional Treats and Sinful Sweets, makes 1 cake or loaf)

1 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour

3/4 cup Sugar (I like to use half White, half Brown)

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1/4 cup Cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1/3 cup Canola Oil

1 Tblsp. Vinegar (White or Apple Cider)

1 cup (235ml) cold Water

optional: 1/2 cup each of Walnuts and Cranberries, + 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

Frosting (to follow)

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F/180C, and lightly oil Bundt pan, 9 inch Springform pan or Loaf tin.

– Combine Flour, Sugar, Salt, Baking Soda, and Cocoa powder in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Create a well in centre, and add Vanilla, Oil, Vinegar and Water. Add Nuts & Cranberries if using.

– Mix until just combined, don’t overmix. Pour into prepared pan, and bake in oven for 30 mins. or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean (if making in loaf tin it may take another 5-10 mins).

– Cool on wire rack for 10-15 mins. and then run sharp knife around inside of pan to loosen cake. Turn onto wire rack, and cool completely before frosting or dusting with Icing Sugar.

Frosting:

1 cup Icing Sugar, sifted

3-4 Tblsp. Cocoa, sifted

4-6 tsp. Hot Water or Milk of choice

 

Method:

Mix well until right consistency, and frost cooled Cake.

*Next up: Kahlua Chocolate Birthday Cake…

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For the last 2 years or so I’ve become accustomed to a light breakfast of Fruits or Smoothies, but every Sunday I like to treat myself to a nice hearty Brunch (because I have the  whole day free to recover from my food coma!) – and I’ve had this recipe in mind for a few weeks…It comes straight from Dreena Burton’s Eat, Drink & Be Vegan: Everyday Vegan Recipes Worth Celebrating, which has some fabulous recipes! I used Whole Grain Spelt flour for these, which produces quite a ‘wholesome’ texture, so I would suggest that you maybe try it with Light Spelt if you have it on hand – I’m sure Wheat flour would make a fine substitute too, if it’s not a problem for you. Even though they contain Coconut Milk, the pancakes don’t have an obvious Coconut flavour, so adding dessicated Coconut or an extract would be good if that is what you’re looking for…The overripe Banana adds enough sweetness, so that there is no need for extra Sugar. These are not South African style pancakes (which are more like Crepes) – they come out thick & small, perfect to stack on top of eachother and cover with Maple Syrup & Bananas!

Ingredients: (makes 12-15 pancakes)

1 1/2 cups Spelt Flour or Whole-wheat Pastry Flour

1 Tblsp. + 1/4 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon or Nutmeg (I prefer Cinnamon…)

1/8 tsp. Sea Salt

1 1/2 cups Light Coconut Milk (OR mix 3/4 cups Full Cream Coconut with Milk of choice) – you may need to add a bit more to get the right consistency

1 cup overripe Banana (about 1 large Banana), sliced

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Canola Oil Cooking Spray, or Oil of choice to coat pan

sliced Banana, Maple Syrup & dessicated  Coconut to serve

 

Method:

In a large bowl, add Flour and sift in Baking Powder. Add Cinnamon & Salt, and stir to combine. In a blender combine Coconut Milk, Banana, and Vanilla Extract and blend until smooth.

– Transfer wet mixture to dry, and stir just until well combined (don’t over mix), adding more liquid if needed to reach desired thickness (if mixture is too thick, pancakes will be very doughy). Set aside.

– Spray a frying pan with Oil (spreading it with a paper towel), and heat on medium-high heat until very hot. Reduce heat to medium-low, and using a ladle or Ice-cream scoop, pour batter into pan to form pancakes. Let cook on one side for a few minutes, until bubbles start to form, then flip and lightly brown other side for 1-2 mins. Repeat for the rest of the batter, re-spraying pan if needed.

– Top with Maple Syrup, sliced Banana & dessicated Coconut…

*Set your oven to 120C/250F and keep Pancakes warm on a foil-covered plate or tray until ready to serve.

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