Saturday, 26 January 2013

Purple Power Soup- vegan

Thick, blended vegetable soup with an extra-special "something"...
 Unfortunately we didn't get a proper recipe recorded for this amazing tasty soup, but we will be making it again so we'll be sure to write it down next time. It started off as one of those soups that materialises from whatever veggies you have lying around, but then a couple of magic ingredients added propelled it into another league altogether. The smell is pure mineral-rich goodness, but the taste is not too earthy at all. After lunch we agreed that the amount of nutrients that must be packed into this soup had given us a real buzz- what a great Winter tonic!
Here's what went into it: a fresh, organic homegrown beetroot (hence the wonderful purple colour), some parsnips, pumpkin and Savoy cabbage. All four of these are "superfoods", containing between them Vitamin C, magnesium, sodium, potassium, betaine (for cardiovascular health), beta carotene and Vitamin A, anti-carcinogenic sulphurous compounds and zinc. There's iron and calcium in there too.
The veggies were gently pressure-cooked until just soft, then blitzed into a rough puree in the food processor, along with a good handful of fresh cherry tomatoes to counteract any earthy flavours. I think salt and black pepper also put in an appearance, and here's the real magic: a spoonful of black treacle, which adds to the mineral content of the soup and lends a rich, sweet flavour. (Molasses would be even healthier.)

If you love home-made soup, then do give these recipes a go and let us know what you think:

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

"Creamy" Vegetable Curry- vegan

The garnish here is thin strips of cabbage, but you could use coriander (cilantro/ dhaniya) or parsley

Now what to call this?? It doesn't contain coconut or yoghurt so it's not strictly a korma; it has almonds rather than cashews, so I guess it's not "shahi" anything either.... if you have a name for this dish (a polite one, please!) then do let us know via the comments.  We will choose the name we like best, amend the title of this post and reward the sender with a mention and a link to their blog/ website on this post. Thanks :)
...What is this curry called?

Several years ago before we started moving towards veganism and before lactose intolerance became an issue for some members of our household, we used to make this with-cringe!- single cream. The kids always loved its creamy richness and it helped them get lots of vegetables down, so it became something of a regular feature. I can't actually remember the last time we made it that way; it must be 5+ years ago, but its return in vegan form was greeted with smiles rather than moans so doubtless it will make another dinner-time appearance soon.
You can make this from stuff you have lying around in your cupboards if you keep a stock of basic spices and a few nuts, plus any veggies you want to use up, so it's quite an economical "midweek" dinner to make. We teamed it up with plain boiled brown rice, which made a hearty and satisfying Winter evening meal. This recipe serves 4-6 people, depending on whether you eat it alone or serve it with rice/ chapattis.

1.1kg diced and/or sliced vegetables: try peppers, green beans, potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, plantain, cabbage, sweetcorn kernels or baby corn, courgettes (zucchini), cauliflower, broccoli... whatever you have
2 tabs oil (preferably coconut, cold-pressed sunflower, ricebran or olive see here for why)
11/2-2 tabs Madras curry powder
1/2 tsp compound hing
1/2 tab turmeric (haldi)
2 tabs ground coriander
200g almonds and 200ml water
2 tsps seasalt
a dash of lemon juice/ thin lemon slices and a green garnish (optional)

  • If using potatoes or other hard vegetables, add them to the oil first and cook them for a few minutes before adding anything else.
  • Add the rest of the vegetables and all the seasonings except the coriander and the salt and sweat on a low heat with the pan lid on until soft. If your veggies are not very juicy, then you will probably need to add a little water and/ or oil to the pan from time to time to prevent scorching.
  • Meanwhile, take the almonds and blitz them to a fine powder in your food processor, grinder or a powerful blender. Add the water gradually while the motor is running until you haver a thick, creamy paste. It's worth taking a little time on this to get it really smooth and less grainy, as this will give the finished dish its signature creamy texture.
  • Add the coriander towards the end of cooking the vegetables.
  • Next, turn the heat right down and add the creamed almonds, stirring well.
  • Add the salt now, so you can gauge its effect on the finished dish.
  • If necessary, add a little water if the curry is too dry, but be careful not to lose the thick creaminess.
  • If you like, serve with a little lemon and a green garnish.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Rich Chocolate Brownies - vegan

Cracked top and fudgy texture- these are classic brownies...
At long last I have achieved a brownie that's a bit more brownie-like than just a square of chocolate cake. It's much more like the classic fudgy-textured brownie, and is rich enough without recourse to nuts, chocolate chips or frosting. As the weather outside is still cold (it snowed today for over 12 hours and is still going strong as I write this at night) I wanted to bake something that is great to curl up with in the warm, maybe with a mug of steaming cocoa. I haven't posted a cake since the Christmas cake in the Christmas recipe roundup nearly a month ago, so I figured it was about time...
The richness comes from using melted chocolate as well as cocoa powder, plus chocolate flavoured "milk". The fudginess is helped along by using melted gour (unrefined sweetener from boiled sugar cane juice) rather than normal sugar. This recipe makes 15-18 brownies, in 2 small rectangular trays.

400g self-raising flour
3 tsps baking powder
3 rounded tabs cocoa powder
150g gour
100g melted dark chocolate
50ml oil (I used sunflower, as that was all I had in the cupboard, but coconut oil would probably be best)
400ml "Kara" chocolate coconut "milk" (chocolate or regular soya milk would do fine)

  • Mix the flour, baking powder and cocoa in a large bowl.
  • Melt the chocolate, gour and oil in a bowl over a pan of hot water.
  • When smooth, whisk in the "milk", keeping it on a gentle heat.
  • Add this liquid to the dry mixture and beat until thoroughly combined.
  • Spread evenly into the bottom of 2 half-sized rectangular trays, about 2cm deep (it does rise) and bake at 180C for 15 -20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven when a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the tin emerges clean. Cut into rectangles or squares while still warm and remove from the tin when cooled.
Enjoy with a hot cup of cocoa!
PS: Recipe for sugar-free chocolate brownies with dates and hazelnuts is here