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This month I’ve tried several new recipes for the Whip Up Something New! challenge that Trish was hosting. All these dishes were vegan — but I bet you wouldn’t have noticed!
- Tempeh ‘Sausage’ Crumbles
- Red Endive, Pear and Walnut Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
- Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts
- Spicy Couscous Stuffed Mushrooms
- Sun-dried Tomato Aïoli
- Quick Spinach Quiche
- Links to previously posted February recipes
Tempeh ‘Sausage’ Crumbles
Something absolutely new to me were tempeh ‘sausage’ crumbles, a kind of topping from the Appetite for Reduction cookbook that I found on the Post Punk Kitchen website. It was recommended for pasta with marinara sauce or as a pizza topping, but is also supposed to be good as a burrito filling or served for breakfast alongside scrambled tofu. Pigheaded me decided to try it for something totally (?) different: as a topping for potato mash with raw escarole, accompanied by caramelized red onions. It was good but sort of weird too because the saltiness combined with anise-fennel taste reminded me a little of liquorice. :\
Also, the substance was a bit wetter than expected. I had thought it would be dry, like tempeh goreng, whereas on the other hand the fennel seeds had kept their bite more than I’d figured. Now that had nothing to do with the fact that I had forgotten to add the lemon juice at the right time and just threw some over the mixture at the dinner table. ;) (TG that we always have a bottle of good organic lemon juice at hand ;)
Maybe this is just how it’s supposed to turn out? Or shouldn’t I have used tempeh that was slightly past its expiration date? :-o Anyway, it seemed to me that the liquid wouldn’t evaporate more if I’d cook the dish any longer — rather the opposite.
This was a very interesting recipe to try — it looks rather meaty, doesn’t it? But I really wouldn’t sell it as ‘sausage’ crumbles.
Since I also had an open packet of tortilla’s I made a wrap with the leftovers for lunch the next day. I was happy to learn that the food-additive E471, which can be animal-derived as well as plantbased (and no way to tell them apart chemically), is vegan in the case of the Dutch Albert Heijn’s brand tortillas!
Red Endive, pear & walnut salad with raspberry vinaigrette
I found this Broad-leaved endive, pear & walnut salad with raspberry vinaigrette recipe in the Vegetarian Times. It’s a nice salad, but no real surprise for us: the combination of pear & walnut/endive is a classic and raspberry vinaigrette of course goes well with pear. If you’ve never made raw escarole salad before, you should definitely try it! I used red endive, and replaced honey with agave nectar to make it completely vegan. Since I only had one head of endive I also added a few leaves of Salanova lettuce.
Yes, I’ll probably make this again, but I won’t be following the recipe to the letter. Though this pear & raspberry vinegar combo with endive is certainly more delicate to serve guests than our usual variation with apple & lemon juice.
Roasted Romanesco Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts
I had some Brussels sprouts and Romanesco cauliflower in my fridge, so the Roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts recipe in the Vegetarian Times seemed like the perfect dish to try. And it’s great! It’s very easy to make, although you have to remember to prepare the ingredients one day in advance… That makes it the perfect dish for entertaining guests. Just don’t forget to keep your eye on the oven; I almost let my veggies burn. Oops.
Mr Gnoe especially liked these veggies so it’ll definitely find its way back to our table!
Curry Couscous Stuffed Mushrooms
I found a Curry couscous stuffed mushrooms recipe from the 500 Vegan Recipes cookbook online and they sounded so yummy that I made them the same day, to accompany my roasted Romanesco & Brussels sprouts. Alas, they were rather a disappointment.
I like the idea of mushrooms with spicy grains (couscous) but there’s something missing in this dish and I just can’t figure out what it is. Mango chutney? Ginger? More salt?
I followed the instructions for preparing couscous on the package, not the 500VR recipe, which means I mixed the dry couscous with herbs & spices, added water and let it rest for 4 minutes (covered). Sautéed onion, garlic and mushroom stems in separate skillet, then added the ‘finished’ couscous to the onion mixture.
According to the instructions of the cookbook I should have sautéed the dry couscous & herbs/spices together with the onion mixture instead, adding water and stirring until all liquid would have been evaporated… It could be that would have made the flavours come out better (especially the curry & garam masala). But as far as I’m concerned, it’s really not worth giving this snack another chance: it’ll never have that Wow-factor I need for my omnivore friends.
The amount of couscous in the recipe was also way too much for 12 medium cremini mushrooms (the required 8 oz), so we’ve been eating it as a side-dish for days after…
Sun-dried Tomato Aïoli
I want to buy a good vegan cookbook and for that reason I’m looking for recipes from recommended books on the web to give them a try. The mushrooms with spicy couscous were a #FAIL but I found another recipe of which I’m relatively certain that it’s from the same 500 Vegan Recipes cookbook by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman: Sun-dried tomato aïoli. Please correct me if I’m wrong because I have no way of checking this.
Well. About that Wow-factor: this sun-dried tomato aïoli has become an instant favourite!!! It’s the perfect substitute for a previous fav of mine: sun-dried tomato butter (which I can no longer have now that I’m going ExtraVeganza!). It is a great dish to bring along to pot-lucks and I will definitely serve it on my own birthday party next week.
I made just half the recipe as a try-out and used some veganaise that I made with part sunflower oil, part olive oil. It wasn’t really clear to me what I was supposed to do with the pine nuts — I felt they should be toasted & ground but the recipe didn’t say so. I decided to do both: ground half and keep the rest as a whole. Seemed perfect to me. :)
Quick Spinach Quiche
I stumbled upon an easy recipe for spinach quiche that seemed great to take along on our ‘Day at the Oscars’. It’s in Dutch and we made some adaptations, so I’ll just summarize.
- frozen puff pastry (vegan); 4-6 depending on your pie mold
- large packet of frozen spinach (slightly thawed) — or fresh spinach leaves (cleaned & cut)
- (optional) small onion, diced
- small can of corn kernels
- sun-dried tomatoes, cut and welded
- dried basil
- ground pepper
- soy sauce or salt
- a few dashes of soy cuisine (cream)
- Preheat oven (220 °C).
- Cover pie or oven dish with parchment paper.
- Thaw puff pastry, roll out dough a little and line in pie dish, covering the sides.
- Sauté onion, add spinach and let it shrink a little. If you’re going the easy way with frozen spinach you can leave out the onion and skip this step!
- Stir in all the other ingredients, mixing well.
- Put the filling on the pastry, folding any protruding dough over the filling.
- Put in the oven for about 30 minutes.
This spinach pie is best eaten cold. I think we’ll make it again for a pick-nick or such.
The crust looks a bit bleak and I would love to get (vegan) tips on how to get a golden-looking pie?! We’ve covered the dough with a bit of olive oil but that didn’t help. ‘In the old days’ I used either egg or coffee creamer — do you think a bit of soy milk or plain water would do the trick?
Also whipped up in February
And here are this month’s new dishes that I’ve already posted about.
These yummy and easy to make (!) poppy seed scones are a recent discovery. I promised to share the recipe, so here it is!
Dutch readers can look up the original. Note that I used raspberry jelly instead of strawberry; Mr Gnoe and I actually liked that better because of it’s subtle (& less sweet) taste. For this blogpost I made a double batch; you can view the baking process on Flickr.
Please use organic dairy for animal welfare?!
Here’s what you need for approx. 18 small scones.
- 300 gr self-raising flower
- 4 tbs sugar
- pinch of salt
- 50 gr butter
- 100-150 ml buttermilk
- 1 egg, whisked loose (not two eggs; I made a mistake taking the picture above)
- 2 tbs poppy seeds
- Preheat oven at 225 ºC.
- Mix self-raising flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.
- Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips to make a crumbly dough.
- Pour in the whisked egg and part of the buttermilk. Be careful not to make the dough to wet (that’s why you won’t want to pour in all the buttermilk at once) and make sure you leave a little milk for a golden finishing.
- Add poppyseed.
- Knead into a smooth (elastic) dough. If it is too wet you can add a bit more self-raising flour.
- Flatten dough by hand on a floured surface, until about 2 cm thick.
- Use a small glass our cookie cutter to cut out circles of approx. 4 cm and put these on your baking sheet.
- Coat with a little buttermilk to give them a golden shine.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes.
These poppy seed scones can be eaten either cold or lukewarm and they make great picnic food, bento stuffing, or an addition to your breakfast, lunch or high tea. Serve with mascarpone or clotted cream and jam.
Another one of Gnoe’s tips
Now what to do with the rest of that whole liter of buttermilk? Yes, of course I could drink it, but I do not particularly like buttermilk :\ So I made curd out of it by hanging it in a (clean) moist tea towel from the kitchen cupboard for 8-12 hours.
Buttermilk curd is a bit thicker than quark and much more creamy. Yesh, I like :) The best part is that you can put the curd on your scones instead of mascarpone or clotted cream. A healthier alternative, although I like to indulge on the bad ones ;)
Why don’t you join Beth Fish’s weekend cooking with a food-related post?
In the past I’ve referred to Maki’s tutorial on how to make a Japanese switchback cut. It’s really easy to do and looks great!
I also mentioned that my technique (originating from the book The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carving) is a bit different: it does not leave any leftovers. As promised: here’s my own ‘instructible’! I’ll be thorough, so bear with me ;)
First: the chigai-giri, or ‘opposing cut’, as it is also called, can be best performed on fruits or vegetables with a skin that clearly contrasts the inside. I do use it on gherkins, but it’s much fancier on bananas and cucumber!
Are you ready? Here we go!
So, you’ll need a straight piece of your fruit or vegetable and a sharp knife. Preferably one with a blade that cuts on both sides, but I do not own any.
You’re going to cut your knife through the center of the cucumber, about 1 cm from the end. Note that the sharp side of my knife is on the right.
Cut right-angled, all the way through the center of the veggie, staying 1 cm from the side. In the picture it looks as if my cut went awry but it didn’t! And it wouldn’t really matter that much either ;)
Now, pull the knife out again and turn so that the sharp side is on the left. If you’ve got a double-sided blade you can skip this step.
Put the knife back in at the point where you just pulled it out and slice it all the way to the left — but stop at about 1 cm from the side again.
Pull out your knife and put it crosswise on the cucumber. Have the point of your knife approx. where your cut ends at 1 cm from the side and hold it askew to make a line ending about 1 cm from the other side.
Now cut carefully to the middle of the cucumber: just to the slice you made in the first steps. Do NOT cut all the way through!
Turn the vegetable upside down. Of course I usually pull out my knife first but I wanted to show you that I really only sliced halfway through.
Now do exactly the same as in step 3. So point your knife in the same direction as you did before and cut to the core of your cuke.
TADAAH! You can easily pull both parts aside.
I know I used a lot of pictures to show you how to make an opposing cut, but it really is easy peasy! Just try it!
I’d like to point out that my cuke is organic. I was told once by a nutritionist that cucumber is a vegetable collecting so much pesticides directly under its skin, it’s not healthy to eat without peeling it first. Mind you, that was a long long time ago ;)
Why don’t you join Beth Fish’s weekend cooking with a food-related post?
I still have to wait a few months before it’s that time again.
Tomato season, I mean.
That’s hard, because I’m already craving some freshly made tomato soup!
So I guess it’s time for my all-time favourite recipe; tomato soup au natural, the way my mom used to make it. “But why post it now?” you ask — quite justly…Well, because I’ve had a request from one of the Kookgrrls, a Dutch mailinglist for women who like to cook.
Needed (serves 4)
- 1 shallot (skinned and chopped)
- 1 garlic clove (skinned)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 650 gr tomatoes (skinned, cores removed and chopped roughly; you may choose to remove the seeds with the core but I like the tanginess it adds to the soup)
- 500 ml vegetable stock (or boiled water and 1 cube of vegetable stock separately)
- small can of pureed tomato
- salt + pepper
- optional: sugar
- optional: fresh basil
- Sauté onion and crushed garlic for about half a minute in heated olive oil.
- Add tomatoes, let cook for two more minutes.
- Add vegetable stock (or hot water and crumbled vegetable stock cube), bring to a boil (stir), cover and let simmer for approx. 20 minutes.
- Use food processor or blender to smoothen.
- Optional: use a sieve to sift the seeds out of the soup. I never do.
- Add tomato puree to taste.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- If you’re a sweet tooth you can add some sugar.
I’ve assumed you know how to peel tomatoes. There are several ways to do it, but this howto on GoodFood explains the simple technique I use. I leave them for up to 1 minute in the water, no more. Mr Gnoe doesn’t skin the tomatoes beforehand btw… He takes out the green hearts, chops them roughly and cooks the whole lot. Then, instead of using a blender, he works the fruit mass manually through a sieve. Way too hard work for me, I’m lazy ;)
You can use some freshly cut basil as garnish. And here’s another one of Gnoe’s tips (I hope I haven’t told you before): do NOT cut your basil leaves with a knife or scissors but tear them apart with your hands. This way their essential flavours will come out best.
With this post I’m joining in the Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads.
Once I have finally made some fresh tomato soup again I’ll take a picture to pimp this post. Please let me know if you want me to add a Dutch translation as well?
I didn’t have time before to update you on this week’s bento #86: Gringo Bento. Called that way because of the Mexican foodies :) Although the American Heritage Dictionary classifies gringo as ‘offensive slang’, it has a positive ring for me because it sounds like the name of my gorgeous tomcat Ringo :)
Don’t you love the (organic) blue maize tortilla chips?! This must be a very healthy bento because I even exceeded the five colour rule ;) How many tints do you count?
The tier on the left contains corn cob, a slice of zucchini, parsley, homemade salsa picante (recipe below), a piece of carrot and something I call an avocado gringo, because it’s neither a quesadilla nor a burrito since it hasn’t been baked or grilled afterwards like the first, nor wrapped liked the latter. It consists of four layers of multigrain wheat tortilla with guacamole, salsa, lettuce and cheese in between.
As you can see I brought some red grapefruit in another side container. The bento box tier on the right contains pepitas (popped pumpkin seeds), sour cream for the bean dish, dried strawberries as a sweet, a mix of corn salad and plain lettuce and frijoles (kidney beans) with red bell pepper, corn, onion and zucchini.
It was yummy :)
Making salsa picante is really easy!
- 4 tomatoes without skin & hearts, roughly cut (look at Gnoe’s tip!)
- 1/2 onion, peeled and roughly cut
- 1 red pepper, de-seeded (or sambal, chili sauce or tabasco to taste)
- 1-2 cloves of garlic (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- 4 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
- salt & pepper to taste
Put all ingredients in a food processor and shred until smooth — or almost smooth. Et voilá!
If you don’t have a blender just cut the ingredients with a knife. This recipe is so flexible! You can use leftover tomatoes that have gotten overripe, or you could replace them by canned tomatoes, pureed etc. Instead of ketchup you can also take some tomato paste and add a bit of sugar or honey for sweetness. There’s almost no excuse not to make this salsa!
Last but not least, here’s Gnoe’s tip to undress tomatoes ;) The easiest way to peel tomatoes is to immerse them in boiling water for 1 minute after cross-cutting the skin. Drain, and immerse in cold water for about 5 seconds (or hold under the cold tab). The skin comes right off!
Recipe courtesy of Eethuis Iris
This first bento of the month should definitely make up for my bento-less last week!
Two years ago we went to Cappadocia, Turkey in October and had an amazing time. This bento contains some leftovers of Turkish take-away (dôh not that old of course). YUM! Unfortunately I don’t know the correct names for these mezze dishes, but I will try to add them later on.
Hot pepperspread, eggplant spread (I don’t think it was baba ghanoush), summer couscous salad with watercress leaf, blue grapes, fishy with dressing, sundried tomato.
Bean salad with paprika and onion, choggia beet stars, snow peas, dill and red batavia lettuce.
On the side:
Organic butterfly biscuit, mandarin (and I also took an apple and some toast for the vegetable spreads).
Last time I got some choggia in our weekly veggiebag I cooked it like ordinary beet, but then it became a homogeneous red. Now I kept it raw to preserve the beautiful pink and white pattern ;) When cooked for just a minute or so the pattern stays alive as well, but not as fresh as it is now. Someday I’ll try steaming it!
BTW a tip for Dutch people who would like to try more organic g/foods: until November 7th you can collect EKO-marks of products and swap them for fun fair trade and environmentally friendly Goodforall products!
CSA & organic: grapes, beet, lettuce, dill
Organic: watercress, biscuit
Lekker, deze week zowel blauwe druiven als appels in de groententas van de Aardvlo! Verse appels wel te verstaan — en geen restant uit de koeling (zoals bij de supermarkten het geval is, volgens het NRC van afgelopen maandag ;) Verder staan komende dagen op het menu: bloemkool, kropsla, maïs, rode peper (en ons eigen plantje doet al zo zijn best op het balkon!), en prei.
Trouwens, tijdens openingstijden van het Aardvlo winkeltje kun je bloemen plukken in de pluktuin (v.a 0,15 per steel). Da’s een leuke afsluiting van een wandeling op Amelisweerd. Nou ja, je moet natuurlijk eerst nog wat groente kopen en dan thee met iets lekkers nemen bij Theeschenkerij Amelisweerd. Wat een heerlijk middagje heb je dan!
Well, this bento really was an ordinary lunch bento and not meant for tonight, but because of the shooting star, moon behind the tree (houmous container behind mint) and peppermint planet, it made me think of summer nights. Especially together with my new dark furoshiki, as you can see on Flickr. Now I keep hearing ABBA’s song Summer Night City in my head with a different chorus line… who’s to say they are not subtitling the song Summer Night BENTO in this Japanese broadcast? :P
Left tier: apple, radish, container of houmous, a few pistachios, mint for tea, my very last special babybel from France (emmental), bruschettas and a peppermint candy for the end of the day.
Right tier: fresh field peas á la Provence (in tomato sauce with herbes de Provence, zucchini, shalot, leek and garlic), green beans (hiding behind grass divider), radishes, yellow cherry tomatoes, lettuce, parsley and… tsukemono of turnips (meiknol).
Making tsukemono (pickles) is a Japanese way to preserve food so you usually do that some time before you want to eat it. It is a side dish with totally different texture (bite) and flavour from the rest of your meal. When I say “Japanese ginger pickles” you’ll probably all know what I mean ;)
The mixture I used to make my turnip pickles contained rice vinegar, mirin (rice wine for cooking), a bit of lemon juice and some cayenne pepper because we’re out of shichimi powder. But before I mixed the dressing with the turnip I extracted water from the vegetables by coating them with salt en putting them in a colander for about 15 minutes. Next time I’ll really need to use less salt! After wiping the slices dry and mixing them with the dressing, I put the tsukemono in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight.
As you might have noticed by now, quite a bit of pre-preparation time went into this bento! Thankfully the field peas are a leftover from diner so the work had been done yesterday. It did take me some time because not only were the peas fresh and had to be taken out of their pods, we also never have any pre-composed herb mixtures. So I made the herbes de Provence myself.
And here’s another one of Gnoe’s tips! First I dried some thyme in the microwave. You just have to put the fresh herbs (without the woody parts) evenly between two layers of kitchen paper, about 3 minutes on 600 Wt. You know that they’re ready when they are crunchy to the touch. That’s all :)
Ingredients of herbes de Provence:
- 4 parts of thyme
- 4 parts of oregano (since we were out of marjoram)
- 4 parts of savory (bonenkruid in Dutch)
- 2 parts of rosemary
- 2 parts of basil
- 1 part of sage (salie)
- 1 part of tarragon (dragon)
You could also add fennel, chervil and — preferably — lavender if you have some, but I didn’t want to make my mixture too outrageous ;)
Summer Night Bento… for those of you who can’t get ABBA out of their heads either: here’s another cool version of the song in Wembley Stadium (1979). Enjoy :)
Here’s the recipe for the tzatziki that I took in bento #58. I’ts really easy to make and tastes great. A fresh dish that will make you think of vacation on any summer day!
- 1 organic cucumber
- 3,5 dl Greek yoghurt
(I like it full-cream)
- 1 piece of garlic
(2 if you wish)
- 2 table spoons of olive oil (extra virgine)
- 2 table spoons of fresh dill (finely cut); see Gnoe’s tip for cutting herbs below!
Wash and roughly grate the cucumber (including the skin). Because you’re not peeling the cuke, it’s really best to use organic! Put in a colander, sprinkle with salt en put a weight on it for half an hour. I often use a saucer and small pan filled with water to weigh something down.
In the meantime crush the garlic. Mix yoghurt with garlic, olive oil, dill and pepper to taste (blend by mixing). When the cucumber is ready it can be added to the mixture.
You can make tzatziki a while in advance if it’s kept refrigerated.
Use as a starter or side dish with salad and black olives (think mezze!), as vegetable dip, for a picnic or buffet — you can even put it on your sandwhich, but it will get soggy ;) I like to serve it with Turkish pide bread.
To give you an idea of the quantity: it’s about 4 servings as entree.
Gnoe’s tip for cutting herbs
An easy way to cut dill (or parsley) is putting the leaves in a cup and snip-snap with your kitchen scissors! You can’t use this method for all herbs though; e.g. basil leaves should be torn to allow their fragrances to appear.
Last but not least: I like the smoothness of a tzatziki that’s low on garlic but some people might want to use 2 pieces of garlic :-o In that case, remember my post with natural tips against garlic smell ;)
Oops, it took me a whole week to post about bento #52! It came to work on Wednesday May 20th — and it’s been my last bento up until today. I was too busy! And I don’t have to go to the office for a while now, so bento’s will be sparse in the next few weeks.
In the picture my lunch looks quite cute — but don’t be fooled! The hint is a packet of Smint…
The red stuff you see in the left hand tier is Mediterranean bean paste, which erm.. had a bit too much garlic in it :-o I don’t like tasting garlic all day, so I came prepared.
Here’s another one of Gnoe’s tips: natural & healthy remedies against garlic smell (and taste) are drinking milk, eating an apple and — last but certainly not least — chewing on a bunch of parsley. That’s after you’ve eaten garlic, not before ;) In my experience these solutions work best if you don’t apply them immediately, but after you’ve brushed your teeth without result.
Well, my apple is not in the picture but it did come along. And in the photo you can also see some fresh parsley (not enough though, LOL) — and the before mentioned package sugar free Smint for emergencies ;)
What else could be found in bento #52?
- red leaf salad (hiding)
- 3 conchiglioni (pasta seashells) with herbs, slightly greased with olive oil so they wouldn’t stick together
- black olives
- slices of orange sweet bite
- capers, small & large
- yellow cherry tomatoes
- parsley (like I said)
- yogurt coated apricot
- roasted sunflower seeds as topping for:
- leek salad (leeks marinated in a basil-garlic dressing)
- Mediterranean bean paste made of white beans, tomato, red bell pepper (paprika), onion, olive oil and oven-roasted garlic (to eat with the pasta)
- grated cheese for the conchiglioni
- pistachios and cashews
Both the leek salad and the bean paste were easy to make. But… the bean spread was best on the day it was prepared. Next day it had gotten a bit ‘watery’ and needed the salty & sour addition of capers and olives.
So, bento #52 was like a wolf in sheep’s clothes: looking cute, but with a sharp bite! Well, I got a lot of work done that day with few colleagues disturbing me ;) Which is good — is it? It was really my day off… :\