Saturday, 31 December 2011

Instant Red Cabbage "Sauerkraut"

I am sick of cake!-There, I said it! I don't want to see another mince pie, fruit cake or chocolate date for another year... Today my body is calling for salad, fresh veggies; simple and digestible foods... and it just so happens that our friend Karen (Kalakanti dasi) who is well up to date on all the latest food and health- related info. dropped by yesterday and left us a new bottle of ume plum seasoning. I'd never have thought of using it if she hadn't given us a bottle this time last year, and now I miss it if it's not in my cupboard. The great thing is that it's a lot like a fruity vinegar without being fermented, therefore perfect for those following the yogic path, as it's in the Mode of Goodness and is offerable to Krishna. It is very salty, though, so you can't just slosh it into sauces willy-nilly. I adore red cabbage, and prefer it raw to cooked, but I can't add it to mixed salads as it gives my husband indigestion. Tonight I served it on the side with the salad that accompanied our dinner of jacket potato and vegetable chilli, and everyone who tried it liked it. I'll be making it again!
The recipe is extremely simple, and takes literally minutes to make. The great advantage here is that unlike real sauerkraut you can eat it straight away. My recipe makes enough to fill about 3/4 large olive jar.

1/2 a red cabbage
8 tabs ume plum dressing

  • Grate the red cabbage into a bowl
  • Add the ume plum dressing and stir well
  • Keep in a jar in the fridge

Friday, 30 December 2011

Seitan a l'Orange: New Year's Eve Dinner part 1

A very happy 2012 to you all! Here's an idea I had for a New Year's Eve dinner; I tried it out on my family and a guest tonight so I could post it  in time for people to use on the big night. This is the (entirely vegan) menu I served:
  • Pumpkin soup (too simple to warrant a recipe- celery seed and Chinese five-spice were the main seasonings)
  • Seitan a l'orange with steamed broccoli and creamed potatoes (think olive oil, salt, pepper and yeast flakes)
  • Beetroot red velvet cake with Swedish Glace soya icecream (in the next post)
I made the seitan earlier in the day, and let it sit, slice, to soak up all its broth for a couple of hours. See previous post for how to make seitan. This recipe served 5.
Seitan made with 1 1/4 bags plain white flour
2 fresh oranges (grate the rind off one)
2 cups orange juice (you may have to buy a carton as only one of the oranges can be juiced; the other is for slicing)
1 cup stock made with water and 3 tsps brown rice miso
1 tabs soy sauce
4 tsps arrowroot
1 tab ume plum dressing
3 tsps date syrup

  • Heat up the stock, soy sauce and orange juice in a saucepan
  • Stir in the ume seasoning, grated orange peel and the date syrup 
  • Use a balloon whisk to gradually combine the arrowroot, then bring to a simmering boil
  • Continue to simmer, stirring well, until the sauce begins to reduce
  • Lay the sliced seitan in a large ovenproof dish and pour the sauce over it. It will look like there's a lot of sauce, but it will thicken and reduce down a lot. 
  • Slice the other orange into thin rounds and lay on top of the seitan and sauce.
  • Bake at 175C until the sauce has reduced somewhat and the orange slices are cooked and tender.
  • Serve with greens and some kind of mash/ puree. (I used potato and broccoli; you could try parsnip and bok choy, or celeriac and curly kale, etc.)

Beetroot Red Velvet Cake: New Year's Eve Dinner part 2

I was looking for a suitably special cake to go with the Seitan a l'Orange main course for a New Year's dinner, and I came up with this one.
I've done a bit of research and I've found that traditionally, the red colour of this cake was achieved by a chemical reaction between the vinegar used and the lighter, unrefined cocoa available in those days. I only have the regular cocoa (although it is organic) and can't use vinegar as it isn't offerable to Krishna and is nor in the Mode of Goodness. But what I do have is some homegrown organic beetroot just waiting to become the healthy ingredient in an otherwise nutritionally-lacking cake. If you visit here regularly, you may recognise this cake recipe as an adaptation of my Sweet Potato Muffins. This was the first time I'd ever made (or eaten) red velvet cake, and I'll definitely be doing it again, maybe next time as cupcakes with the piped icing and sprinkles. There's a kind of yummy synergy to beetroot and cocoa- my husband suggested it's because they are both iron-rich.  As you can see from the picture, however, it's really more of a reddish-brown velvet cake; I could use less cocoa next time and maybe also add a little natural red food colouring (beetroot concentrate) to the cake mixture.
400g self-raising flour
200g demerara sugar (use xylitol if you like)
2 tabs cocoa powder
4 tsps baking powder
150g grated fresh beetroot
400ml soya milk
150ml sunflower oil/ rice bran oil
  • In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except the beetroot
  • In another bowl, combine the oil and soya milk
  • Mix the beetroot to the dry ingredients
  • Add the wet ingredients and beat well for about a minute
  • Put into dampened 8-10" silicone moulds/ greased and floured tins and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20-30 mins, until a skewer inserted into the centre of one of the cakes comes out clean. (The cake is very soft, so don't mistake that for it not being cooked through.)
  • Fill and frost with vanilla buttercream (I used the best part of a packet of Pure sunflower unhydrogenated vegan margarine and lots of icing sugar- you could grind xylitol to a powder for this.) When I added the vanilla essence to the frosting, however, it caused the water to separate out and I had to put it in the freezer to solidify it; so I will definitely use vanilla sugar next time so that I can pipe it. Scatter with chocolate sprinkles, or red-coloured sugar granules. 

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Gingerbread House 2011

This is now becoming something of a Christmas tradition in our family: same recipe as last year (from BBC Good Food site) but I used chocolate fingers instead of flaked almonds for the door and roof. We were reluctant to demolish it on Boxing Day, but once we started, we couldn't stop! -Funnily enough, they all asked for the door..!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Quick and Easy Cranberry Sauce

Who needs meat to go with cranberry sauce? It's delicious with nut roast and totally yummy on a cheeseboard or plate of savoury snacks. Plus cranberries are rather good for you; as well as vitamins and minerals they contain tannins and polyphenols which can prevent urinary tract infections. I have used a minimal amount of sugar in this recipe, as we like our sauce tangy and distinct from jam. I have seen a few recipes which include orange juice and/ or white wine, but to be honest, I don't think this is at all necessary; cranberries have a delicious flavour all of their own which in my opinion is great as it is and doesn't need enhancing. 

I made enough with these quantities to almost fill 2 regular-sized jam jars.
680g fresh cranberries
250g raw cane sugar

  • Gently heat the cranberries in a thick-bottomed saucepan with the lid on until they begin to break down; you can press them with the back of a spoon if you like to help the process along
  • Add a little water if you need to, to prevent scorching
  • When the berries have broken down, stir in the sugar 
  • Continue to cook over a gentle heat until setting point is reached (doesn't take long)

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Apple and prune mince pies- vegan, no added sugar

I spoiled the no-sugar thing by dusting the pies with icing sugar!

First of all, Happy Holidays to you- whatever your faith (or not) it's a welcome break in these busy times, to spend a few days with your family and to show them how much you love them by spending time together, giving gifts and cooking food they'll love. Celebrating Christmas is not a part of bhakti yoga, but we do it in our house for all the aforementioned reasons, and in any case, I do find that come the afternoon/  evening there is always more time than usual  for chanting mahamantra on my beads as I don't have to go out anywhere or do any more cooking. Our Gurudeva taught us that having genuine love and affection for others is a basic for spiritual life- otherwise, how can we aspire to love Radha-Krishna? You can tell how spiritually-evolved a person is by the way they treat others.  I want our children to remember us as warm-hearted and loving parents who led by example, not aloof and artificially austere people at odds with family life.
  Last night we had a little pizza- and- mince-pies party at home with a few devotee friends who were not with their families this year, and on Boxing Day we'll be entertaining again- great reasons for Nanda and I to get creative in the kitchen! As I write this, having prepared the veggies for lunch, my wonderful husband is making an almond nut roast, and I shall don my apron again shortly to make the gravy...
...So let's cut to the recipe: The filling is sweet without refined sugar and the pastry, thanks to Nanda's scientific input, is the crispest ever! Make sure you fill each pie with enough filling, though, as the pastry is not sweetened.  I used prunes as they are a superfood; rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. (I eat five every day as they are said to prevent osteoporosis, and I have definitely noticed an improvement in my hair since I started.) This recipe makes enough for 28-29 pies, half with lids and half topped with pastry stars. I like to cook them batch by batch as needed over the holiday, so they are hot,crisp and fresh out of the oven for guests. 
50g mixed peel
200g mixed fruit (raisins, currants and sultanas)
the grated rind of 1 lemon
175g prunes (about 20), finely chopped
2-3 medium-sized apples, grated
2 tabs date syrup
2 tsps mixed spice
75ml water

  • Combine all the ingredients apart from the date syrup and mixed spice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • Heat gently with the lid on until the apple is soft
  • Remove from heat and stir in the date syrup and mixed spice.
  • You will find the flavour improves after standing for an hour or so.
-I'm really excited about this, as it's higher in fibre, uses good oil, is vegan, easy to handle, and comes out very crispy!
250g plain white flour
250g wholemeal flour
200ml ricebran oil
50ml water
more water to mix
  • Measure out the flours into a bowl and mix together
  • Whizz up the oil and 50ml of water with about 1 tab of the flour mixture in a blender
  • Rub this into the flour
  • Add water to mix to a dough
  • You can now roll, fill and bake (at 200C) as many pies as you need, storing any excess in the fridge for use later. Mine lasted less than 24 hours, but it will keep at least 3 days.
Whatever you are doing today, I hope you are having a great time! :)