Thursday, 6 June 2013

Vegan Thursday: Tofu Vegetable Pie- low fat pastry

Any resemblance to the Union Jack is purely coincidental; but it did spark off a dinnertime debate on the merits and demerits of patriotism!

There's nothing quite like a crisp pastry crust on a creamy savoury pie... or is there? Conventional shortcrust pastry is high in fat and calories and can be hard to digest, but my husband knows how to have his pie and eat it: he made a crust which is part soda bread, part pastry, part soda bread pizza base. It's much lighter than normal pastry and not at all soggy; it's even quite crisp and crusty at the edges. He was quite justifiably proud of his delicious creation, so we took pictures and here it is!

The filling is soft, fluffy and yummy
There follows the recipe for the crust, and some guidelines for the filling. We stuck to vegan so the whole family could eat it. Firstly we steamed some veggies:small florets of  broccoli, a bunch of asparagus (chopped) and some sweetcorn. After making the pastry, we mixed 1/3 quantity of tofu tahini cheese with enough soya milk to make a thick sauce and threw in some more nutritional yeast for good measure. The addition of a little black pepper and some dried basil completed the filling. After blind-baking the pastry at 175C for 5-10 minutes (but not so that it browned at the edges) we poured in the filling and added the veggies, plus some cherry tomatoes on top. My husband even used strips of leftover dough to decorate the top. If you want it extra"cheesy" you caould always sprinkle with some almond parmesan.

Makes a large open pie, as the pictures show:
2 cups (250ml) plain wholemeal flour
1 cup self-raising flour
5 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
25ml olive oil
25ml coconut oil
enough water to form a scone-like dough
  • Simply combine all the ingredients in this order: dry, oily (rub in), wet. Roll out to fit your oven dish and leave some over for decoration if you like.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Rhubarb, Orange and Ginger Squares- vegan

Soft and spongy underneath with just a hint of spice; moist and fruity on top...

This is yet another way of combining rhubarb, ginger and orange flavours, and of using up the great quantities of rhubarb that our allotment yields us. The ginger looks like a lot in the recipe, but really once the cake is baked it appears as more of a subtle aftertaste. The following makes enough for 16 squares, baked in a large rectangular tin.

400g self-raising flour
4 tsps baking powder
200dg demerara sugar
150ml coconut oil (liquefied)
150ml orange juice
250ml soya (or other plant) milk
350-400g fresh rhubarb, sliced
2 tabs powdered ginger
2 tabs grated orange peel

  • First, preheat the oven and prepare the cake tin, wash and slice the rhubarb then juice and grate the orange. You are now ready to start putting the cake together!
  • Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and ginger in a large bowl.
  • In a separate container mix the oil, 1 tab of the peel and the soya milk.
  • Add the wet to the dry mixture, and lastly beat in the orange juice. Spread into a prepared cake tin or mould- it needs to be at least a couple of centimetres deep, but not too deep as it rises.
  • Quickly (you have to get it into the oven asap) scatter the rhubarb slices on top and finish with the rest of the orange peel and a sprinkling of sugar if you like.
  • Bake for 20-25 mins at 180c until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
If you need a few rhubarb-y cooking ideas, you might like:

Rhubarb and ginger jam
Lemon, ginger and rhubarb drink
Hot'n'sour rhubarb and orange chutney
Rhubarb pudding cake
Gingery rhubarb crumble

Monday, 3 June 2013

All-in-one Blender Carrot Cake- vegan

Unusually for carrot cake, this has a smooth texture with no "bits".
I am not a fan of adapting egg cake recipes; we have our standard, never-fail eggless cake which can be adapted in countless ways and I must admit I'm more than happy with that. Then my husband showed me "Recipe of the Week" in our local free paper, and it was a blender carrot cake with chocolate buttercream icing. At first I was horrified: 4 eggs, vegetable oil and too much caster sugar, no grated bits or nuts or raisins and -worst of all- chocolate icing! But I gradually came round to his way of thinking: replace the eggs with flax eggs and self-raising flour, forget the icing, cut down the excessive amount of sugar and use demerara instead of white, swap the unhealthy vegetable oil for coconut oil and add a few flavoursome bits and bobs... and you're left with the concept of a smooth vegan carrot cake but with all the tastes you'd expect that you just throw in your food processor or blender. Actually, the idea was beginning to appeal so I set about collecting the ingredients from the storecupboard and the resulting recipe has so many changes from the original that we can truly call it our own.

3 medium-sized carrots, peeled and sliced
250ml liquefied coconut oil
300g demerara sugar
4 flax eggs (see link above)
150g plain flour
150g self-raising flour
1 tab baking powder
100g raisins
1/2 tab ground cardamom
1/2 tab ground cinnamon

  • Preheat your oven to 180C; meanwhile  assemble and measure out the ingredients and prepare a 10" cake tin or silicone mould. 
  • Whisk up the flax eggs.
  • Put the carrots, sugar, oil, flax eggs, raisins and spices in you food processor or blender and whizz until a smooth mixture is formed.
  • With the motor still running, carefully throw in the flour and baking powder and continue until it is well mixed in. The batter is not as runny as you might expect.
  • Put into the tin or mould and bake for 30- 40 mins. (The skewer test will help you judge when it's done.) The top will have browned slightly.