Saturday, 21 December 2013

Raw Chocolate Icecream- vegan, gluten free, sugar free

This is a really creamy and rich dessert!
Last August we visited some friends down at the far end of Cornwall and they introduced us to the delights of home made icecream. We don't have an icecream maker (yet- I'm working on it) but my husband created this rich but nutritious dessert using organic cacao powder. In case you didn't know, cacao is natural raw chocolate, and actually ranks as a superfood. It is a source of protein and a rich source of antioxidants. If ever there was an excuse to eat (raw) chocolate, this is it!

Makes about 8 portions- you don't need much
400g cashew nuts, ground as finiely as poassible
300ml water
50g cacao powder
100ml agave nectar
  • Blend ground cashews with water
  • Add other ingredients.
  • Freeze.
As this is probably a bit richer than normal icecream,  we will try adding a bit more water next time.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

No- Cheese Mac 'n' Cheese with Vegetables- vegan, gluten free

You won't believe this isn't cheese!
We had just taken delivery of our thrice-yearly bulk order from Suma Wholefoods. Eagerly, I opened the boxes in our hallway and peeped inside: soba noodles, wholemeal pasta, mung beans, cold pressed sunflower oil, cashews, almonds, chia seeds, raw cacao powder, brown rice and many, many more ingredients to play with. Suddenly, cooking dinner no longer felt like a chore! As I dug amongst the packages I found the Dove's Farm gluten free fusilli tricolore and the Engevita yeast flakes, and  headed for the kitchen...
... And came up with this lighter, vegan twist on mac 'n; cheese. The sauce came out surprisingly cheesey- tasting, and actually fooled one of the kids! This is not a recipe, but with any luck, should you want to reproduce this dish, these notes/ instructions should be enough. I made about 8 servings.
  • I boiled 500g gluten free fusilli in 2 litres of soya milk, then drained and rinsed the pasta when it was done, catching the soya milk in a bowl and setting it aside for making the sauce later.
  • Meanwhile, I had prepared some veggies (sweetcorn, cauliflower and broccoli), which I steamed until soft. I put the pasta and veg into a large, deep roasting dish. There was nearly as much veg as pasta.
  • The sauce was made by whisking generous amounts of salt, lemon juice and yeast flakes to a bout 2/3cup of tahini, then thinning it gradually with the still-warm soya milk. I kept adjusting the ingredients until I got a nice cheesey flavour.
  • I then poured the sauce over the pasta and veg in the dish and finished off by topping it with sliced tomatoes and a sprinkle of yeast flakes.
  • The dish was then baked at 200C for about 15 minutes.

PS: This is our 500th post!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Black Forest Gateau- vegan

You can decorate the cake with chocolate shavings, too. (And more cream..) 

Continuing with our 1970s theme, we thought it would be fun to make a Black Forest Gateau, that icon of the hostess trolley. But joking aside, the combo of cherries, cream and dark chocolate is actually irresistably delicious, and we can see why this cake has been so popular for so long. It originates from South Western Germany, probably in the early years of the 20th century, and historically contained schwartzwalder kirschwasser (hope I spelt that right...) a local cherry liqueur.
 With the addition of cocoa powder, dark chocolate, cherry jam, cherries and coconut milk a plain cake is transformed into a delicious dessert or tea-time treat. We made it large, as it's party season, but you could always halve the ingredients if you have less than about 12 people to feed. As it's not cherry time here right now and I couldn't bring myself to pay over the odds for a small punnet of under-ripe specimens form halfway round the world I used morello cherry preserve for the filling and glace cherries on top. They did the job admirably, although come the Summer I'll be making this again with fresh fruit for sure.

See below for the recipe:
800g self-raising flour
8 tsps baking powder
6 tabs cocoa
400g soft light brown sugar
300ml coconut oil
800ml soya milk (or whatever plant milk you like best)
150g dairy free dark chocolate 
a jar of morello cherry preserve*
about 12 glace cherries*
2 cans of coconut milk

*or a punnet of fresh cherries, preferably black.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, cocoa and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat in the oil and soya milk. When thoroughly combined, spoon into two large round prepared cake tins/ silicone moulds and bake for about 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 180C. (The cakes are done when a thin skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean with no cake batter clinging to it.)
  • Leave the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Meanwhile, whip the coconut milk into cream, following these instructions. Leave the cream in the fridge until you need it.
  • When the cake is cool slather it generously with the jam/ cherries and cream and sandwich together.
  • Cover the top in melted chocolate. When that's set, decorate further with glace or fresh cherries and swirls of whipped cream, finished off with chocolate shavings.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

How- to 20: Make dairy free whipped cream

This vegan cream is too good to be true- but it is!
What if I told you that you can get a vegan whipped cream that's light and fluffy and holds its shape beautifully? That it's only around the same price as dairy whipping cream? That you can get it in most supermarkets? And that all this is true?- You might be forgiven for being a little sceptical, but I assure you this is for real. This month's how-to really is a life-changing piece of information, opening up a whole new world of scones with jam and cream, trifles, gateaux and desserts that you thought you'd left behind when you gave up dairy! Just follow teh instructions below:

1: Take a can of coconut milk and chill it in the fridge for several hours. Do not shake it up.

2: Separate out the creamy part from the liquid (which should be at the bottom of the can). Don't stir the water back in.

3: Use an electric hand blender to whip it like dairy cream. It may take a while. This is about halfway done.

The whipped cream will form peak when it's done.