23 May, 2010

Chickpea Cashew Korma

I had one of those days at home today. I generally need one of these days once a week, where I cook, wash, and leave the house only to grab a few groceries and take a walk around the block. I spend a few hours tending to all my online pursuits (today it was Bluelight) and perhaps watch a little television. I find that without this day, once a week, everything gets much harder to achieve... practically and emotionally.

So, although I did wish I was out with Michael and Cindy celebrating their 1000th post at Where's the beef? this afternoon, I knew I needed this day to myself. Instead of coming out to celebrate, I share one of my current favourite dishes with you all, and especially with Michael and Cindy!

I've only changed a couple of things from the original recipe in this chickpea cashew korma. The original recipe can be found at p. 110 of Vegetarian Cooking Without . This book is a special cookbook - it's more of a diet and philosophy book than just a list of recipes. All the recipes are free from gluten, sugar, yeast, dairy, meat, fish and saturated fat. Basically vegan, you just have to watch out for eggs and honey. The introductory chapter discusses how to detox your body in a sustainable way, which I liked.

This Korma has a different and (I think) delicious taste due to the addition of fennel seeds to the curry paste. It also has a lovely texture. Half of the curry mix, cashews and chickpeas are processed to form a thick, creamy sauce. I can attest that this dish tasted and felt wonderful on a cold winter night :)

2 large onions
4 garlic cloves
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp grated ginger
1 400 g tin coconut milk
1 cup whole raw cashews
1 400 g tin chickpeas, drained
1 carrot
1 capsicum (I used a yellow one)
200 g green beans
1 250 g tin diced pineapple in natural juice
1 punnet ripe cherry tomatoes
1 small bunch coriander
salt & pepper to taste

1. Dice onions and crush garlic. Gently fry in olive oil until onion begins to soften. Add spices and ginger and continue to gently fry for a few minutes.
2. Add half of coconut milk to pan. Simmer until onions are soft.
3. While simmering, prepare the harder vegetables. Chop carrot, capsicum & beans into bite-sized pieces.
4. Place half of the onion mixture into a food processor along with half of the cashews and half of the chickpeas. Process into a smooth paste and set aside.
5. Add remaining coconut milk to pan with the remaining whole cashews and chickpeas. Bring to boil then add carrot, capsicum and beans. Simmer until tender.
6. While simmering, prepare remaining ingredients. Slice cherry tomatoes into halves and chop coriander.
7. When vegetables are tender, add the processed cashew, chickpea and onion mix to the pan along with the pineapple pieces and their juice, tomatoes and coriander. Warm through and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with brown rice. Serves 4 generously!

13 September, 2009

Vegan tempeh lasagne

There have been many vegan adventures in this little kitchen over the past few months, many that I've been really proud of, but just haven't taken the time to blog about! This one, however, has to be blogged. Not only because it tasted amazing, but because the recipe was sourced from one of my favourite food blogs, where's the beef? In fact, I've been meaning to make this one since Cindy and Michael blogged about it, but alas, I did not have one of the key recipes, liquid smoke. Recently, I bought a bunch of things from USA Foods which included a little bottle of liquid smoke, and then it was time to give the tempeh lasagne a try.

Vegan tempeh pasta bake*

This recipe had 4 steps, which took me the best part of 2 hours to complete: making the zesty tomato sauce, the tempeh filling, the cashew cream sauce and of course, cooking the pasta. You'll also need a large lasagne dish or 2 normal sized ones.

* Unfortunately I thought I had all the ingredients sorted and discovered I had no lasagne sheets. So I turned this into a pasta bake, using spiral pasta instead.

Zesty tomato sauce

1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil (to taste)
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
6 cloves garlic, crushed
4 x 400g tins organic diced tomatoes
grated rind of one lemon

Add olive oil, chilli, salt and garlic to saucepan and mix to combine. Heat pan on medium, and saute mixture for about one minute, without burning the garlic. Add tomatoes and simmer gently for a few minutes. Take off the heat and stir lemon rind through the sauce.

Measure out one litre of the sauce for the tempeh mix and place the rest in your freezer for later use.

Tempeh filling

2 onions, finely chopped
400g tempeh, frozen and thawed for about 30 minutes
4 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 litre zesty tomato sauce

Cindy and Michael mentioned they were lacking in tempeh filling when they made their lasagne, so I thought I'd ensure I had enough by doubling this part of the recipe.

Prepare the tempeh by processing the slightly thawed tempeh into what looks like 'mince', using the food processor. Fry the tempeh with ample olive oil until they were golden brown, taking about 10 minutes, then add the tamari and liquid smoke into the pan and fry until they have been absorbed - this part smells delicious! Remove tempeh and set aside.

Now, fry up the onions in olive oil until they are soft. Add basil, sugar, salt, pepper and the zesty tomato sauce, mix well and simmer while making the cashew cream. Once cream is made, stir in the fried tempeh to the sauce and mix well.

(At this point, I began cooking the spiral pasta [about 500g], but you won't need to bother if you have your instant lasagne sheets ready. Regardless of your choice of pasta, you should now turn the oven on to 200 degrees.)

Cashew cream sauce

3 tablespoons nuttelex
1/4 cup flour
1 cup cashews
1 litre oat milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1.5 tablespoons lemon juice (this was juice of one lemon for me)

Blend cashews with 100ml oat milk in food processor to form a thick paste. Set aside.

Melt the nuttelex in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, gradually, stirring constantly to keep mixture smooth. Continue stirring while adding rest of the oat milk. Then, bring mixture to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring frequently.

Once thickened, add the cashew paste and yeast flakes. Stir to combine. Simmer for a few minutes more then add pepper and lemon juice.

Constructing the lasagne or pasta bake

This bake had two layers: first the tempeh mix, then a layer of cooked pasta spiral topped with cashew cream, then the rest of the tempeh, plus the remaining pasta topped with remaining cashew cream. Through some kind of miracle, my large lasagne dish fitted these ingredients exactly (YMMV!). I cracked some pepper on top for good measure and placed the dish in the preheated oven on 200 degree celius for 30 minutes.

Now, this meal was just so delicious. The liquid smoke certainly gave it something special, but I think it was also the added lemon juice in the cashew cream that delighted me too - something I don't normally taste in a 'white sauce' used in this way. It did take a while to prepare and cook, but it was worth it, especially because we got 6 huge servings of it so we could enjoy it for days on end.

Much thanks to Cindy/Michael and to the other food bloggers they got their ideas from: Anni and Heikki and Heidi.

(I have to learn how to take better photos of food... this doesn't do it justice!)

20 May, 2009

Smoked tofu stew

Now winter in Melbourne is upon us, what better meal to make than a piping hot stew? Especially with lots of chunky winter vegetables! I've been dreaming of smoked tofu for a while now (a little bit like the way I used to dream about bacon many years ago). If you've not had the pleasure of smoked tofu yet, it's a veg*n's dream - tofu with a smoked flavour and a firm, but not too hard, texture. You made need to look outside your supermarket to find it - I bought mine from Wholefoods.

I decided to have my stew with some brown rice which I got going in our rice cooker first off. I gathered together the onion, carrots, mushrooms, celery, potatoes and tofu, and diced it all into really chunky chunks. I threw them all into a soup pot, fried them for a few minutes in some oil, then added the stock, vegemite, bay leaves and some freshly ground pepper to the saucepan. It pretty much cooked itself: I just brought it to the boil then simmered on low, covered, until tender. For me this was a bit under the 45 minutes recommended. Finally I stirred in the flour/water paste to thicken, then managed to burn my tongue on it after not adequately fighting my impatience to tuck in.

1 brown onion
2 sticks celery
2 small carrots
250 g swiss brown mushrooms
500 g potatoes
300 g smoked tofu
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups vegetable stock
(I used Massel veg 'chicken')
2 teaspoons vegemite
2 bay leaves
Cracked pepper to taste
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons plain flour

Chop the onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes and tofu into bite sized chunks. Fry the vegetables and tofu in oil for a few minutes over medium heat. Add the stock, vegemite and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes. Combine the flour with the water and make into a paste in a separate cup. Stir this into the stew to thicken. Season to taste and serve with crusty bread or rice.

This recipe was adapted from ‘Easy Vegan Cooking’.

19 October, 2008

Red quinoa stir-fry

Every year, we attend Melbourne's Vegan Day - the last Saturday in October. Last year I picked up a 2008 vegan calendar, with a recipe for each month, by Leigh-Chantelle of vivalavegan.net. Unfortunately I only discovered the calendar in my recent spring clean up! So I'm now going through the recipes and they all look appetising.

Last week I popped into Wholefoods on Smith St, Collingwood - next door to a favourite of mine, Soulfood (veg cafe). I picked up some normal and some red quinoa, and I knew it was destined for this stir-fry recipe. Red quinoa tastes pretty much the same as the standard variety, but it is quite striking in its appearance as you can see in these photos of what I created.

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
a little olive oil
as much garlic as you like (recipe said 2, I put 4!)
1 eggplant
4 yellow squash
1 zucchini
1 red capsicum
1 bunch bok choy

The whole thing was pretty painless. I prepared the vegies by slicing them thinly. I salted the eggplant slices before making them match-stick size. I washed the bok choy in the sink with salted water before roughly chopping them up. I finely chopped the garlic.

Cooking quinoa is easy. It takes about 10 minutes of boiling. You know it is ready when you can see the white outer rim has separated from the rest of the grain.

The stir-frying went something like this: saute garlic in a little oil under low-medium heat, add all vegies (except boy choy) and stir-fry until tender, then add boy-choy and cook until wilted, then add the cooked quinoa, toss and serve!

03 July, 2008

Le Speakeasy, Nice, France

Le Speakeasy is a small cafe/restaurant located in central Nice. It is the only vegan restaurant on the Côte d’Azur. The two of us had a fantastic 3 course meal there. The food was delicious, nutritious and definitely good value (total cost around 30 Euro).

The atmosphere was homely, but it also had a strong political element to it, with animal rights and veg*n quotes posted around the place. It was colourly decorated and included a mural of a French street scene from earlier times. The restaurant seated only 4 tables of up to 12 people in total.

The food itself was just what we needed after the vegetarian diet we had been eating in France of cheese, dairy and egg. I had a vegan pate provincial style with olives and bread for starters, seitan with a rice pilau and a very fresh salad for main, and a pear tart for dessert. My husband had miso soup, potato/vegetable pie with salad, and the vegan banana and sultana icecream. We both had peppermint teas too.

Le Speakeasy is run by an expat Californian lady, who we spent a while talking with at the end of our meal. By taking a political stand against the exploitation of animals, she is certainly challenging French norms. We also met another traveller from the US - Roger - veg*n restaurants are a great place to meet fellow veg*ns. We never got your details Roger - we hope you had a great trip!

Le Speakeasy on Happy Cow

28 June, 2008

Juicy Jones, Barcelona, Spain

Juicy Jones is apparently the vegan cafe in Barcelona. It's just of the main street in Barcelona (La Ramblas). At the entrance, it looks just like a juice bar and we weren't so sure it contained an area to sit down and eat. Rest assured, it does, however the decor is pretty crazy, all fluorescent and spirally.

We both had the € 8.50 combo plate which provided us with a three course vegan dinner which was both delicious and healthy. They also had a great selection of teas, we tried the minted tea and the lemon/ginger.

Juicy Jones on Happy Cow