Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Amazing vegan crumble topping....

This is, in fact, rhubarb crumble, but the toppings look pretty similar...
My husband suggested last Sunday that we should make a crumble together; he insisted, in fact! I was to prepare the fruit and soya custard, and he would mix up the topping then let me get on with putting it together. I chose about 7 Pink Lady apples and a pineapple, and the whole thing made 8-10 good-sized portions. It was without doubt, the tastiest crumble yet to emerge from our little kitchen, and I grabbed my notebook fast to write down the recipe before it was forgotten. There are some seriously nutrient-rich ingredients involved here, such as hemp flour with its omega oils and pumpkin seeds with minerals such as zinc and B-vitamins. If you think that addition of sugar as a sweetener spoils its otherwise ultra-healthy credentials, you could try xylitol, date syrup or suchlike for a more natural alternative. The photo of the crumble is not actually the one we made, as it got eaten before I could get a pic; it's Gingery Rhubarb Crumble, which is slightly different, but looks quite similar on top.

To the prepared (and pre-cooked fruit) add this topping: (1 cup=250ml)
1 cup jumbo oats
1 cup porridge oats, partly ground
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup ground pumpkin seeds
1 cup hemp flour
2 cups demerara or other raw cane sugar, ground to the consistency of caster sugar
50ml extra-virgin olive oil

  • Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl
  • Rub in the olive oil
  • Mix in a little water; just enough for the mixture to start to stick together
  • Spread on top of the fruit in a large rectangular baking dish
  • Bake at 200C until the top is just starting to brown
  • This crumble is really delicious served with custard made from soya milk, and, as my husband pointed out, means the dessert contains all four vegetable sources of protein: seeds, nuts, grains and pulses!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Vegetarian and Vegan Cornish Pasties

Delicious with a dollop of  green tomato chutney!
Bossiney Cove, Cornwall, last August- one of the most romantic places in England...

In England, the pasty is forever associated with the county of Cornwall, where it is said to have been invented by the tin miners' wives. The pastry would form a kind of edible lunchbox for the stew of meat and vegetables contained within: a hassle-free meal to take to work with them. I love wild North Cornwall with its wonderful seascapes of turquoise-blue water and golden beaches, rugged crags and green valleys, so this recipe is my vegetarian tribute to the Cornish pasty. I swapped the flaky or hot-water pastry for shortcrust made with olive oil and organic wholemeal flour, the meat for cheese or preserved black beans and the gravy for my own concoction of miso, tomato puree and soy sauce with seasonings. I recommend eating them while admiring the view from a clifftop like the one pictured above. (Who knows? You may get lucky like I did and spot two beautiful seals swimming across the bay together...)

To make 10 pasties with some filling left over (makes a great pitta/ toastie filling for those who prefer bread to pastry) I used:
500g organic wholemeal flour
200ml extra- virgin olive oil mixed with 50ml water
water to mix
  • Measure the flour out into a bowl
  • Whizz up the oil and 50ml water in a blender with a little of the flour 
  • Rub this into the flour until the mixture looks a bit like breadcrumbs
  • Mix to a dough with cold water (use as little as possible- the pastry comes out crisper that way)
  • Form into a ball and set aside, covered, in a cool place while you prepare the filling
900g (uncooked weight) peas, potato, celery, white cabbage, pumpkin and swede (rutabaga) all chopped finely or diced no bigger than 1cm. (You could also use sweetcorn, parsnip, turnip, celeriac, carrot/ sweet potato etc.)
a little olive oil for sweating
200ml water
1 tab miso
1 tab soy sauce/ Liquid Aminos
1 tab tomato puree
1/2 tsp coarse-ground black pepper
1 tsp hing
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp thyme
  • Sweat the vegetables over a medium heat in a large, shallow pan with the lid on, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking. Do this for a minimum of 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are starting to soften. 
  • Mix the remaining ingredients with the water to make a stock and add to the pan. Cover and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Adjust the seasoning if necessary and set aside to cool.
  • Dice 250g of vegetarian Cheddar cheese and add to the filling when cool. Alternatively, use a handful or two of preserved black beans (douchi
  • Now roll the pastry out about 3-4mm thick and use a saucer or bowl to make circles around 15cm in diameter. 
  • Place a spoonful of filling in the centre of each circle, brush the edges with water and pinch the opposite edges together to make the classic pasty shape. 
  • Place on oiled baking sheets, brush the pasty tops with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 200C for 15-20 minutes, until the pasties are browning nicely on top
  • They are equally delicious hot or cold with plenty of salad and your favourite chutney. I like pumpkin, tomato, plum or green tomato. (There's a recipe for green tomato chutney lying around in my drafts; will publish soon.)
More vegan-ising ideas: instead of black beans, use "Scheeze", "Cheezely", TVP chunks, seitan, tofu or your favourite cooked bean. I chose the black beans because their sharp tanginess is somewhat akin to a mature cheese.