Friday, 18 June 2010

To-cook list...

A list of recipes I've been salivating over but haven't got round to trying out yet!

Blackberry and apple crumble cake (also requires veganising, more fun for me!).

Banana walnut cake with date-sweetened chocolate frosting (sugar free, yay, but needs veganising).

Just this minute noticed another yummy sounding confection on that same site that had passed me by somehow - carob brownies.

Some version of this Thai coconut soup.

Urid Dhal with feungreek - I love fenugreek, and now it's growing in my garden there'll be nowt to stop me!

Chocolate coconut pudding.

This one's for a cold grey day! Spelt macaroni with cashew cheese.

Chinese dumplings a la Vegan Dad - he never fails!

This one sounds so exciting that it's probably going to be my next dinner party/celebration meal recipe. Tofu, sesame, spinach and miso napoleons.

I've been googling shortcrust pastry recipes like there's no tomorrow since my new-found success with it - and found all kinds of potential deliciousness! Spinach and mushroom quiche, sausage rolls (obviously to be filled with vegan sausages/some vegetable-based treat instead of pork), pesto pastry wheels (again filling to be transformed into cruelty-free goodness), and (om nom nom, really shouldn't but you know you want to) treacle tart. I might even attempt to de-sugar it a bit with dates and that sort of thing.

That should keep me going for a while!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Is it a samosa? Is it a pasty? Who cares... My pastry worked!

A vat of chickpea, carrot and spinach curry cooked up yesterday inspired me, for some unknown reason, to make some pasties with the leftovers. Today it seemed less of an appealing prospect, with the messy and tiresome dough-making process that may or may not succeed...

But wait! What's that? You looked up pastry making in all your recipe books and randomly selected the one that actually worked?! YES! It's true. You can make pastry without fear, without gungy hands, and without even breaking a sweat, thanks to Nigella Lawson. The woman is a genius. I've always liked her 'just chuck it all in then eat it like you mean it' approach, which is maybe why I picked her method out of all the others I looked at.

First genius stroke - put all the ingredients in the freezer for 10 minutes before starting. (Ingredients, for me, being 300g white spelt flour and 150g dairy-free marg - you just need twice the amount of flour to fat.) I sort of knew this already, but it really does make life a lot easier. Second, really amazing true genius stroke: put the flour and the fat into the food processor. Honestly, who knew it could be so easy? No craggy, gluey hands, no aching arms, no margarine all over the place. Add a bit of water (with lemon juice or vinegar and salt added) in small increments until the dough is almost holding together, then take the dough out of the machine, wrap it in a bag and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes. True, I left mine in for more like an hour due to some Scrabble-related distraction, but when I took it out, the woman was right! Even if you added a but too much liquid by mistake (it's almost as though she was talking directly to me...), there was 'a dough that anyone can roll out'. Incredible.

I was impressed just with the food processor bit (I mean really, I've had a food processor all this time and I didn't know how much hassle I could be saving myself?!), and then with the smooth, lovely, cool, pliable dough that came out of the fridge - but the most impressive part? Naturally, the post-cooking eating part! Thin, flaky, crisp, but with maximum stuff-holding capacity.

Take heart, all thou pastry naysayers! It can be done.


That's what I should call the smoothie I made this morning when I finally write that cookbook.

Two kiwis, one banana (all slightly too ripe for eating but perfect for smoothies!), three large basil leaves, a dollop of plain soya yoghurt, a splash of water and some raisins for good measure. It could probably stand more basil as it was a very subtle flavour, but I didn't want to overdo it on my first try and ruin the whole thing!

I've also heard that pineapple and basil is something of an experience, so I shall have to keep my eyes peeled for reduced pineapples!