Sunday, 6 April 2014

Vegan Portobello Chestnut Patties



You may have been wondering where I have been since posts are so few between these days. I've been concentrating on juice feasting and eating some simple raw food, with some cooked meals to try and heal my body and get this damn weight off! So I haven't been experimenting much of late. But the change of season means I feel drawn more to comforting food since Summer's fruity bounty has all but come to an end. 

I love Autumn. The days are still mild, the nights crisp, and time seems to slide gently into winter. It's the season when the fire is lit again for the evenings, I linger in a hot bath, and then want to curl up with the cats and hounds for a cosy night in. 






Mr Sprout and myself celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary on the 26th March and it has been the first we have both been able to have the day off and spend it together since we were married. The romantic picnic I had in mind went down the drain with the ridiculous amount of water we've had pouring from the skies of late. Not to be discouraged we changed plans, packed our wellies in the van and headed out to Mt Irvine to squirrel for nuts instead. For us it's about a 50 minute drive since we live on the other side of the mountains, but it is a nice one. The small communities of Mt Wilson and Mt Irvine were cut off completely for several days in the bushfires we had in the Spring, and as we drove we saw plenty of areas that had been charred. Yet in the amazing nature of the Australian bush the eucalypts were already covered in bright green foliage helped along by the recent rains. Thankfully  Kookootonga nut farm was spared by the blaze although the neighbouring property lost everything. Which is just as well because we spent a very pleasant hour or so wandering under the canopies of towering chestnut and walnut trees and plucking the fattest nuts we could find.


 Since it was mid week we were barely disturbed by anyone else and the misty morning no doubt kept other squirrels at bay. $8.00 kg for fresh organic nuts are not to be beaten and certainly there is something lovely about gathering your own.



I decided to make some chestnut and portobello patties with our bounty since the mushrooms are also particularly good at the moment. they are delicious in your favourite bun with leafy greens and lashings of mustard, or wrapped in kale or chard leaves if you want a gluten free option. Earthy flavoured vegetables like fresh grated carrot or beetroot go well (or even just some ripe tomato). The mixture also makes excellent vegan sausage rolls, just get some vegan puff pastry and away you go!



Ingredients
250gr peeled cooked chestnuts, chopped
200 gr portobello mushrroms
1 large brown  onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
handful fresh sage, tarragon, and rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Method
1.If you are using fresh chestnuts cut a criss cross in the top and drop them in a pan of boiling water for about 10 - 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then peel and  roughly chop.
2.In a frying pan saute onion and garlic in an little coconut or oil until beginning to soften and then add the mushrooms. continue to cook until onions are cooked through. Allow to cool.
3.In a food processor put in all ingredients and pulse until the mixture resembles a mince and sticks together.
4.Leave in fridge, covered,  for half an hour or so for flavours to develop.
5.Using your hands shape into the size and shape you desire, and fry in a little oil until brown on both sides.










Saturday, 25 January 2014

Australia Day: Vegan Chiko Rolls


Happy Australia Day!  A day for us to be glad we live in a free country and focus on all the things we do have instead of all the things we don't. Except for our current Prime Minister. He's one of the things we do have that I really wish we didn't. So sorry, citizens of the world for inflicting this man on you as our representative. But please don't blame me personally, I didn't vote for Tony Abbott.  His nugget of wisdom on our day of days? "My duty, as your prime minister, is to ensure that, as far as possible, in this great land of ours, no one is left behind," Except if you're on a boat obviously. In which case, not only are you left behind, but you're taken back as well. And we don't have enough cash for improvements to disability schemes, or giving more to foreign aid, but he did find some loose change down the back of the couch for newlyweds to get relationship counselling. But that's for another post. So I will continue to be glad I live in a free country and glad we will have the opportunity to get rid of him at the next election. Or earlier. You never know, this is Australia, we have changed PMs quicker than Bonds undies the last few years.


But enough of that. When I think of all our national foods there are a few that come to mind. What's a cake drive without a Lamington? Or morning tea without Tim Tams? Or a takeaway shop without a Chiko Roll? Yeah yeah yeah, we impress our international visitors with our rich multicultural grub, our fusion foods (aka Modern Australian Cuisine), and emphasise that despite guzzling beer we do a very nice Chardonnay. But truth be told, we're pretty happy with the everyday stuff too. So this year I decided it was high time for a veg version of the Chiko Roll. 


For those of you across the seas a Chiko is kinda like a spring roll but with much thicker pastry so it doesn't crumble in your hand. It reminds me of summer holidays and swimming at the beach. The traditional walk with my Dad up to the local fish and chip shop to get lunch - feeling slightly sticky with saltwater, covered in sand and wrapped in a towel, thwick -thwacking the hot pavement with my thongs. It makes me feel all gooey with nostalgia just thinking about it. And we always had an ice cream afterwards, my choice was usually a Bubble-O Bill or a Golden Gaytime (yes, for you non Aussies there is an ice cream called a Gaytime and yes it still exists. It's delicious, albeit not vegan. Hmmm...maybe I should try veganising that for another post). Despite the name it doesn't have any chicken and has a mixture of beef and shredded vegetables in it. And when I looked at the manufacturers website, quite a bit of TVP despite the beef and tallow. I don't think I've had one for about 13 or 14 years, but the Beloved thought it was a pretty good approximation and thought it smelled pretty Chiko-ey  alhtough he hasn't had one for ages either.  It would be pretty hard to buy pre made pastry for this, the texture wouldn't be right.  I guess you could use a savoury shortcrust sheet if you really couldn't be bothered making the dough. But you might as well make it while you're waiting for the mixture to cool, it isn't hard.


Makes approximately 8 large rolls

Ingredients
For the pastry
3 cups plain flour 
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

For the filling
1 chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped cabbage and kale
1 shredded carrot
1/2 cup chopped green beans
1 cup cooked barley or rice
1/2 cup cooked brown lentils
2 teaspoons Massel chicken style stock powder
1 heaped teaspoon ground white pepper
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Method
1.Cook lentils, barley, and rice and set aside.
2.In a large frying pan, heat  a little oil and saute onion, celery, carrot, beans, cabbage and kale until soft.
3.Add barley (or rice) and lentils, stock powder and pepper, and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.
4. To make pastry, place flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in in water and gradually take in flour from the sides until all water is incorporated. Knead for a few minutes until you have a smooth soft dough.
5. Divide dough into 8 portions and roll out into a rectangle, about 3mm thick. 
6.Spoon about 1/2 cup cooled mixture down the centre of the rectangle lengthways, leaving about 5cm at either end. 
7. Fold over the shorter ends, and the fold over one half of the pastry lengthways over filling, and roll to wrap remainder of pastry and to seal.
8. Heat oil in a frying pan and gently place a couple of rolls in at a time, seal side down first, frying until brown and crisp, and then turn over (you can deep fry if you would like, I couldn't be bothered messing about with all that oil!)
Serve straight away while crisp and hot.

P.S. Tony - if we didn't have plenty of "boat people" come to this country we wouldn't have the Chiko Roll so ner!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Twelve Posts of Christmas: Chargrilled Sweet Chilli Mango and Tofu Salad


Mangoes are absolutely delicious and in season at Christmas for us Aussies. This is a very substantial salad that could either be a main or side. Chargrill them to make them even sweeter!

Ingredients
4 firm mangoes, cut into slices 5mm thick
1 block firm tofu cut into thick slices
1 small bunch spring onions, finely chopped
3 carrots julienned
4 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 bunch kale finely shredded
1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce
1/4 cup white tahini
1/4 cup black tahini
1/4 cup sunflower seeds toasted
Gsarlic infused olive oil to drizzle

Method
Toss tofu in sweet chilli sauce, and chargrill, set aside.
Chargrill mango slices, set aside to cool
Whrn ready to serve, toss kale, tomatoes, carrot, and onion with tofu and mango.
Drizzle both tahinis over the top and sprinkle sunfloer seeds over.
Finish with a drizzle of garlic olive oil.
Serve immediately.

The Twelve Posts of Christmas: Lemon Myrtle Hasselback Potatoes


I won't have any choice but to make potatoes dauphinoise for Christmas this year (siblings and husband expect it!) but I do really like hasselbacks - they look pretty, crisp nicely, and you can put all sorts of flavourings on them. If you fancy some Aussie flavoured ones try some lemon myrtle - it gives them a lovely little tang and these also pair really well with the vegie ribbon tart

Ingredients
Washed roasting potatoes skin on (allow 1 1/2 potatoes per person minimum)
sunflower oil
sea salt flakes
lemon myrtle dried

Method
Cut potatoes in half, and then put cut side down. Using a sharp knife make vertical cuts a few millimetres apart leaving about 1 cm uncut at the bottom. 
Place on a baking tray and drizzle with sunflower oil, sea salt flakes and lemon myrtle. 
Bake at 180C for approximately 40 - 50 minutes until golden and crisp. 




The Twelve Posts of Christmas: Vegan Vegie Ribbon Tart


I have seen vegetable ribbon tarts done a few times but always it is more of a quiche type thing, and not vegan. I can't say I've ever had a really good vegan "quiche" that involves silken tofu. I don't know why, it just doesn't do it for me. This tart is made using a thick silky "custard" using non dairy milk and flour to thicken it, flavoured with onion and thyme. It is based on a very thick white sauce. When baked it sets very well, just allow it to cool a bit before serving. It shouldn't be piping hot - just warm, or it can be cooled completely and served cold. I used sweet potato and zucchini, but you could use any vegetable easily sliced into ribbons like beetroot, parsnips, swedes, or carrots. Bake in a loose bottomed flan tin for easy removal.

Base - Savoury Shortcrust Pastry
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon cornflour
125gr vegan butter, softened and cut into cubes
pinch salt
pinch ground pepper
cold water

Sift flour, cornflour, salt, and pepper into a large bowl.
Rub butter through flour using your finger tips until it resembles large breadcrumbs.
Add 1 tablespoon of water and draw mixture together into a ball. If it is still too dry, add water a teaspoon at a time until it holds together.
Roll out and press into your greased tin. Trim edges.
Place in freezer for at least an hour. If you are making ahead cover in clingfilm and leave in freezer until ready to bake.
Blind bake in a 180C preheated oven for 12 minutes, and then remove, and put aside.

Filling
2 zucchini
1 sweet potato
1 1/4 cups non dairy milk
1/4 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons vegan butter
1 tablepoon dijon mustard
1 small onion
1 heaped teaspoon chicken style stock
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Method
1.Cut zucchini and sweet potato into ribbons using a mandolin or vegetable peeler. Blanch ribbons in boiling water for a couple of minutes until just softening. Drain and set aside to cool.
2.onion and saute until softened, and set aside.
3.Arrange vegetable ribbons in a circular fashion in pastry base leaving a bit of a gap for the custard to settle in between and support the ribbons.
4.In a small sauce pan on low heat melt butter and then add flour to form a roux. Add milk slowly whisking vigorously to ensure no lumps as it thickens. Add stock, mustard, and onion, and using a hand blender puree until onion has blended. Add thyme, and keep stirring for a few minutes on low heat  to cook out the flour.
5.Pour mixture over vegetable ribbons, gently spreading over the top and pushing to ensure mixture falls between ribbons.
6.Bake in 180C oven for 20 minutes until  pastry is golden.
7.Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from tin and cutting into wedges to serve.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Twelve Posts of Christmas: Mini Savoury Cranberry Pies


If you haven't made that cranberry relish then you had better plan on making some to assemble these scrumptious little bites of Christmas! you will need a batch of quinoa mince which you can find the recipe for here. I often make a big batch of quinoa mince and portion it to freeze , so if you have done that too these will take no time at all if you leave it in the fridge overnight to thaw! I use a small tartcase tray that bakes 12 to each one. You can get 9 pies out of each pastry sheet using an 8 cm cutter. 


Ingredients
Savoury shortcrust pastry sheets
Puff pastry sheets
Quinoa 'mince'
cranberry relish

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C, and grease tin.
Using a biscuit cutter cut out shortcrsut pastry circles for the bottom of the pie. Place one circle in each hole and gently press down and up the sides.
Take a heaped teaspoon of quinoa mince and put in bottom of pie bottom, and then take a scant teaspoon of cranberry relish to top it.
using the same size biscuit cutter cut out a puff pastry circle for the lid. Brush the edges of the bottom case with water, and place the puff pastry circle on top of the pie. Press firmly around the edges to seal, and then using a sharp small knife put two slits in the top of the lid.
When your tray is full bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
If you haven't used defrosted quinoa mince then you can freeze these in an airtight container with baking paper between the layers to keep for up to a month.
to reheat place on a lined tray in the oven 




The Twelve Posts of Christmas: Cranberry and Onion Relish


Ok, so granted, you can buy any old jar of cranberry sauce...but there is something about making your own relish which is a lot more hearty, tasty, and of course made with love. I've made this so many times now I can almost do it in my sleep! there is almost always a pot of it in the fridge to be had with hot buttered toast for a more savoury jam substitute, or to spoon onto savoury tarts. For the omnivores out there you may be wondering why someone who doesn't tuck into a turkey's corpse would be interested in cranberry relish. It tastes divine on crackers with almond or cashew cheese, its scrumptious tossed in fried mushrooms, or spooned over a vegetable terrine with gravy. Make a big batch, bottle it and give it away as Christmas pressies. The longer it sits the better the flavour becomes just like a good sweet fruit mince.

Ingredients
500 gr frozen cranberries
2 cups raw sugar
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup water
2 large chopped red onions
1 garlic clove crushed
bunch of fresh sage or thyme, chopped
juice and zest of an orange
pinch salt
oil for frying

Method
1.In a large heavy bottomed saucepan gently saute chopped onion and crushed garlic  in a little oil until translucent. Add chopped thyme and fry for another minute or two to release the oils and aroma.
2.Increase to a medium heat and add all other ingredients, and stir until sugar is dissolved.
3.Turn heat down and simmer until cranberries collapse and mixture has reduced to a very thick consistency.
4.Spoon into sterilised jars and leave to cool. Best kept in fridge if you do not seal the jars, and keep in fridge once opened.