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Homemade vegan oliebollen with apple & cranberries for New Year's Eve!

There’s a first time for everything. I’m 42 but today I made oliebollen for the first time in my life. I used a vegan recipe from Lisette Kreischer’s cookbook Ecofabulous (which I was recently able to obtain as e-book), and replaced the raisins with cranberries — I’m still in a Wadden Island mood, where we spent Christmas!

We’re toasting here with blueberry wine while Juno is waiting for her chance to ‘catch’ a fritter. Can’t blame her, because they are yummy! :)

Wishing you all a very happy, compassionate and animal-friendly 2013!

Special thoughts tonight for my friend muizz who recently lost her father, and for WM who’s dad is also terminally ill. It’s hard to celebrate a new year when you know your loved one won’t be there to enjoy it with you. :(

ExtraVeganza logo, © variomatic

Hello, have you missed me?

I’m glad to be back on this Meatless Monday ~ or Plantaardig Maandag in Dutch. :) And even though I have a backlog of three bentos to post, I’m going to share a slice of the luxurious raspberry-chocolate pie I made for Easter!

Chocolate-Raspberry Pie for Easter

It’s so good I will definitely make this over and over again! Mind you, I’m not even that much of a chocolate lover… But the flavours of this torte complement each other so well: a sugarless cake bottom with bitter-sweet (FairTrade) chocolate and the tartness of fresh raspberries. Need I say more? YUM!

It’s originally a recipe from the Belgian Vegetarian Association EVA but instead of making 6 small pastries I decided to make one big pie (with some other small adaptations). So far I have only made three recipes from the EVA website: birthday brownies (served 3 times), marvellous mayonnaise (I never go without) and now this tart. Obviously they are all a hit! So I guess I should take an even better look at that site. :)

Now the baking of this pie does take a bit of patience… It’s not a lot of work (!), but there’s waiting time in between stages. Personally, I rather saw that as an advantage! I made the cake, which is the most time-consuming part, the night before (or actually 2 ;), the chocolate filling on Easter morning and I added the topping -raspberries and powdered sugar- just before serving at teatime. That was a fun job to do with our little helper cousin.

Of course the adults decided to have some prosecco wine instead of tea with this indulgent treat. :P

Raspberry-Chocolate Tart

Serves 10.
Dutch translation at the bottom of this post.

Chocolate-Raspberry Pie for Easter

Ingredients

Pastry shell:

  • 250 g all-purpose flour
  • 125 g soy butter
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1-4 tbsp soy milk

Chocolate filling:

  • 300 g dark chocolate (vegan and preferably FairTrade, like Tony’s Chocolonely), broken into small parts
  • 50-75 g soy butter
  • 150 ml vanilla soy milk
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 60 g raspberry jam

Finishing touch:

  • 500 g raspberries (extra if they are really big)
  • powdered sugar

Preparation

Chocolate-Raspberry Cake bottom for Easter

Stage 1: pastry shell
Can be made up to 2 days in advance.

  1. Grease a 25 cm pastry tin and/or cover the bottom with baking paper.
  2. Mix flour, salt and ‘butter’ (125 g) by hand to make a crumbly pastry dough.
  3. Add soy milk spoon by spoon until the mixture holds together well, like shortbread dough.
  4. Roll out pastry dough, forming a circle big enough to cover bottom and sides of your pastry tin. I cover my working counter with a flexible silicon baking sheet, put the dough on, cover with baking paper and use my rolling pin over that.
  5. Put the flattened dough into the tin – here’s where a silicon sheet comes in handy! :)
  6. Press well into the sides: you can use a bit of the dough in cling-wrap to do this easily. Cut off any extra dough.
  7. Use a fork to make holes in the bottom and put the dough into the refrigerator until it feels firm. This takes at least 30 minutes – I just went out to do my holiday grocery shopping. :) You can put it in the fridge if you’re pressed for time.

Baking

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C.
  2. Cover the pastry dough with a little baking paper (recycle the piece you used for rolling the dough) and fill with pie weights or whatever you use for blind baking.
  3. Prebake in the oven for 25-30 minutes: keep a close eye on from 15 minutes onwards. Remove weights and paper and bake for another 15 minutes until light golden.
  4. Take from the oven and let it cool.

Stage 2: filling

  1. Melt the chocolate Bain-Marie on low temperature (you know how to do this, right?).
  2. Add butter bit by bit (keep stirring to mix well), vanilla soy milk and maple syrup. It may seem that the chocolate is forming clumps but everything will be all right if you keep stirring carefully.
  3. When everything is mixed well and creamy you can start filling your pie! First get the pastry shell out of the tin though. :)
  4. Cover the bottom of the pie with raspberry jelly.
  5. Add the chocolate filling.
  6. Let it cool at room temp for approximately 2 hours (or more).

Stage 3: finish

  1. When you’re ready to eat you can layer the chocolate with fresh raspberries.
  2. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Chocolate-Raspberry Pie for Easter

Stage 4: Bon appétit!

Plantaardig Maandag NL button

Meatless Monday button


Recipe in Dutch

Me & my rabbit Bumpie in the eighties

2011 is the year of the rabbit according to Chinese Zodiac. I love rabbits — had one myself once and it is roughly the equivalent of my western Zodiac sign Pisces, so it can’t be anything but G.O.O.D. :)

It’ll also give me a great excuse to buy lots of kawaii bento goodies with usagi. ;)

Wishing all my virtual and real life friends a warm, happy hopping 2011 with lots of love. Couldn’t do without you!

2011

After all those read-a-thon updates on Graasland it’s about high time I posted my latest bentos. And what better motivation than to find a mail from Hapa Bento telling me I had won the September B.O.M.B. challenge?!

*blush* I am so honoured!

Bento #116 served as dinner on my train journey to an evening about ‘Foodies, Foodporn & Foodblogs’ in The Hague on Wednesday September 22nd. That day it was mid-autumn and the Chinese were celebrating their Moon Festival. On Thursday the 23rd there would be a full moon — the brightest and most beautiful moon of the year according to Japanese people!

Tsukimi

Watching the full September moon is a special celebration in Japan, called Tsukimi (moon-viewing), tsuki being moon. It’s about honouring the moon and being thankful for the harvest. So, what could be more fun than to take an early Tsukimi Bento to the food event?

That meant I had to use seasonal produce (which is traditionally offered to the moon) and use ‘pampas grass’ for decoration. My organic CSA veggie bag came in handy! I really wanted to bring traditional foods, but no way I was having another attempt at making dango! I tried that on my first Holland Hanami (cherry blossom viewing, the spring counterpart of Tsukimi) and it made us gag! #fail

Thankfully I had recently bought some green tea mochi. But what am I doing, starting with dessert?

Tsukimi Bento (#116), 22-09-2010

Front tier

  • Buckwheat soba noodles (traditional) with leftover stir-fry of Swiss chard, silver onions, leek, carrot, corn kernels and chili pepper (all seasonal vegetables), braised in the soaking liquid of dried mushrooms.
  • Large shiitake mushroom (‘dark side of the moon’).
  • Slice of corn cob (‘full moon’).
  • Potato patty (no traditional sweet potato but hey, close enough).
  • Red pepper rabbits (tradition).
  • Fennel green ‘pampas grass’ for decoration, plastic sushi grass and flat leaf parsley for baran (dividers).
  • Slice of braised carrot, mini gherkins and pickled silver onions.
  • All on a bed of lettuce.

Background tier (which can be seen more clearly in another picture)

  • Edamame (traditional).
  • Apple – first local harvest!
  • Dried fruit: apricot & mango.
  • Green tea mochi (traditional).
  • Dollop of ketchup for potato patty.

But there’s more to it…

I didn’t get round to writing this blogpost because I wanted to tell you more of the thoughts behind bento #116.

In the Chinese Moon Fest round forms symbolize unity, completeness, togetherness. It reminds me of the circle of life, autumn being the season in which ‘the fruits’ get harvested. Of course the moon is round too. So I’ve used a lot of round foods in my round tsukimi bento :) Mix & match is what I say! ;) A lot of Chinese heritage became Japanese culture as well. Hey, I’m an European making bento, so what are we talking about anyway?

It’s interesting to know that the box that I used for this train bento is even officially called Tsukimi. The depiction of a moon-watching rabbit can be found in many Japanese decorations. All around the world people see things in the moon; here in Holland it’s a face and we’re calling it the Man of the Moon. Ancient Chinese saw a hare or rabbit pounding herbs for elixir, the Japanese believed it was pounding rice to make mochi. Making mochi is called mochitsuki (餅つき), which sounds similar to the word for full moon: mochitzuki (望月)!

Green tea mochiNow do you see the importance of my green tea mochi dessert? First flush (green) sencha tea is supposed to be best when kept till September, so that makes it even more appropriate.

Both moon and rabbit symbolize a long life. That probably originates from the Chinese life elixir myth — and the way rabbits know how to ensure eternal life through their offspring ;)

But there’s also a Buddhist story associated with this all, the story of Jade Rabbit. On a day of Uposatha — Buddhist Sabbath — an old man asked for food from a monkey, an otter, a jackal and a rabbit. The monkey collected fruits and offered them to the old man, the otter brought him a fish and the jackal a lizard. The rabbit didn’t have anything to bring, because the herbs constituting his food weren’t good for humans.
Then the rabbit decided to offer his own body and jumped into fire. Surprisingly his body did not burn, because the old man was the deity Sakra. And for people to remember the rabbit’s sacrifice, the old man drew the rabbit’s image over the moon.

If you look at Google images of ‘tsukimi rabbit‘ you’ll see the cutest rabbit-shaped sweets… I wish I could have had some! Still, I had so much fun making & eating this thematic bento! It’s wonderful it was awarded with a B.O.M.B. badge :)
Tsukimi Google logo 2009

Home-grown: red hot chilli peppers
Local & organic: Swiss chard, leek, carrots, corn, lettuce, potato, parsley, fennel, apple
Organic: sōmen, shiitake mushroom, egg, paprika, ketchup

The Year of the TigerToday is a special day: Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year. Yay, The Year of The Tiger has started! This afternoon I went to a Chinese festival and released Paper Tiger (Papieren tijger) by Olivier Rolin for our Bookcrossing Monopoly Game. And I hopped by our city’s red light district for a Valentine’s release called Solely Lust (Louter lust): erotic stories for women. Both have been caught already!

In the past week I finally managed to post my review of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. And I wrote a (belated) Weekly Geeks post revealing a fun fact about author David Mitchell.

Cover The RomanticNow, this Valentine’s Day Sunday Salon provides me with a good opportunity to talk about Weekly Geeks 2010-6: ‘Romancing the Tome’. Have you heard of The Romantic, a book by Barbara Gowdy (one of my favourite authors)? You should have! It got longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003, and was in the running for several other awards. I haven’t been able to write a coherent review of this book about a zillion kinds of love; I had too many feelings to make any sense of them. So I’m going to give you the synopsis from Waterstones:

How do you love someone who sits, smiling, at the edge of oblivion? Award-winning Canadian writer Barbara Gowdy unravels a romance, and the idea of romance, in this spry, witty, agile novel full of all the species of love. Louise Kirk falls in love. She’s 10, lives in a cosy, unremarkable suburban home, but, remarkably, has lost a mother already. Or, rather, her chic, sharp mother has disappeared. So, Louise, lonely and steeped in complicated yearnings, decides to fall in love. Furiously. First, she falls in love with her magnificent new neighbour, the operatic and exotic Mrs Richter. Then, within the year, she falls for Mrs Richter’s brilliant son Abel. Distracting him from his attentive study of everything around him — the constellations, the moths, the music — proves quite a struggle. But before long Abel finds he loves Louise ‘too much’. A dozen years later, Abel is gone and Louise is devastated. This is the unravelling story of their romance! In The Romantic, Barbara Gowdy tracks and identifies all the species of love. Each of her characters is iridescent, but Louise Kirk, who flies to love again and again like a moth at a lamp, is a creature from whom no reader will easily tear their gaze.

I am not a person to reread books — so many books, so little time! But I have been wanting to start over in The Romantic ever since I finished it (and that was in 2004). Yes, that’s how much I loved it. Well, I’d better finish my current book first — I seem to be STUCK in it! :-o That’s the 3rd part of I Am a Cat by Natsume Sōseki. And the bookgroup discussion starts tomorrow! I guess I’ve left it for too long. But I don’t want to put the novel aside; I should be able to finish the last part of this classic! Although it seems to be keeping me from reading at all…

The Pillow Book read-along

Arrived at entry: 0
Entries read since last time: 0

My Name Is Sei Shonagon (book)Oooops, I still haven’t started reading yet! It’s because of my problems with I Am a Cat. I hope I’ll have some better news for you next week! Anyway, I did buy another book to read once The Pillow Book read-along has ended. A bit premature, I knoooow LOL, but I couldn’t leave this discarded library book for someone else to find, could I?

It’s My Name Is Sei Shonagon in Dutch (Mijn naam is Sei Shonagon), by Jan Blensdorf. You can find a review on Curled Up With a Good Book.

The Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, where they blog about bookish things of the past week, visit each others weblogs, oh — and read ;)

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