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What do I look forward to the most when I come to Austria to visit my family? -Apfelstrudel! (And the fam, of course…!) More specifically, Geli’s Apfelstrudel! Ever since my dad’s girlfriend veganized her Apfelstrudel for me last year, I have been waiting in anticipation to return and indulge in it again. Seeing as I’m Austrian, I think it’s about time that I shared a traditional dish from my country of birth… In Austria we buy a ready-made pastry that is especially for the Strudel, but it can be used interchangeably with Phyllo – which is what I recommend for this recipe. When you prepare your pastry Geli suggests leaving it to sit for a few minutes after brushing it with oil, so that the Oil can soak in and make the pastry a bit more flexible. Just make sure you have it lying on a damp cloth to stop it from drying out. According to Geli, the trick to making a juicy Apfelstrudel is to grate the Apples instead of just slicing them – it works a charm! The measurements are all a bit rough as she eyeballs her ingredients, so be sure to add more or less, according to your taste.  So here it is – Geli’s delicious (and easy) Apfelstrudel!

Ingredients: (makes one medium-sized Strudel, about 5 servings)

2 sheets Phyllo (if using frozen you need to defrost in refrigerator over night)

Canola Oil to brush pastry

4 large (or 6-7 small) grated Braeburn Apples, or a mixture of Granny Smith & Gala [slightly sour Apples are better than too sweet]

juice of 1 Lemon (or less, depending on how sour/sweet your Apples are)

2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/4 cup Brown Sugar (again, you might need to add more or less, depending on the Apples)

2 Tblsp. Maple Syrup

generous amount of Amaretto, or Liqueur of your choice (about 1/4 cup)

Optional: handful of Raisins

Icing Sugar, to decorate at the end

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 160C, and lightly grease or line a baking tray.

– Have two cloths ready: wet one of them with hot water, and wring it out so it isn’t dripping wet. Lay it on the counter, and cover with the other dry cloth. Remove one sheet of Phyllo and lay it over the top of the cloths, then thinly brush it with Oil covering the whole surface. Carefully lay the other layer of Phyllo over it, and allow the pastry to stand whilst preparing the filling.

– Place the grated Apples in a large bowl and add fresh Lemon Juice, Cinnamon, Sugar, Maple Syrup and Raisins. Pour the Amaretto over it, and mix well. Taste and adjust sweetner/Lemon Juice as needed.

– Spoon the Apple mixture over the bottom third of the Phyllo square, shaping it into more of a dome (don’t make it too flat or your roll will end up flat). Carefully lift the towel up from the bottom edge and use it to slowly roll the pastry over the filling, making sure not to touch the pastry, and also keeping it rolled tight over the filling. Do this all the way to the end until you have a tight roll that is nicely shaped. Tuck it in at both sides, and then using the cloth from underneath, slowly move it to the tray.

– Bake in the oven for 30-40 mins. until the top is browned and the Apples are cooked through. Once out the oven, allow to cool and dust with Icing Sugar.

*Traditionally served with Vanilla Custard, but Vanilla Ice Cream will do the trick…

 

Spaghetti Bolognaise & Lasagne were my two most requested dinners when I was young – I’m sure my Mum must have gotten tired of making them! They were also the first dishes I learnt to make when I moved out of home, before that my specialty was melted Cheese on Toast…To this day I still love a good Bolognaise, except now I make it without the smelly Mince-meat (which used to make me gag when I was cooking it!). This recipe is pretty basic as I just used what I had around that night, but feel free to add some other veggies if you like – Eggplant, Courgettes or Carrots would go well too. You could also roast your veg first, rather than pan-fry, and then add them to the Tomato Sauce before blending, mmm…The ultimate comfort food – tastes just like Mum’s Bolognaise!

Ingredients: (2-4 servings)

1 pkt. Gluten-free Spaghetti Pasta

1 clove Garlic, minced

1/2 Onion, diced

1/2 each of Red Bell Pepper & Yellow Bell Pepper, diced

1 Tomato, diced

1 tin crushed Tomatoes (Fire roasted is good)

handful of Kalamata Olives, halved

3-4 Sundried Tomatoes, rehydrated & chopped

pinch each of dried Basil & Oregano

a few leaves of Fresh Basil, chopped finely

Optional: 1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (if you want it to have a bit of spice…)

 

Method:

– Boil water with a dash of Olive Oil & Salt, and cook Pasta according to instructions on packet.

– In a large Saucepan heat some Oil and sauté Onions until they begin to soften. Add Garlic and sauté until it begins to release its aroma, then add Bell Peppers and pan-fry until they begin to soften.

– Add Tomato, dried Herbs, optional Red Pepper Flakes, and Sundried Tomatoes,  and stir to combine. Pour in the tin of Tomatoes, bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer (add a little water if mixture looks too thick). Allow to cook on low until the vegetables are cooked & softened (about 15mins.), then add Olives & Basil and remove from heat.

– With a hand blender (or in a blender), purée the Sauce leaving about half of it chunky. Add drained Pasta, and serve in a big bowl…

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.

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!)

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…!

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…

 

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…