Sunday, 12 November 2017

Crispy Veg Puffs- gluten free

Dip them in your favourite chutney!

Do you ever crave spicy savouries like pakoras but wish they didn't have to be fried? Look no further, my friends...
One of the best things about blogging as opposed to writing a formal cookbook is that you can publish your experiments, your works in progress, and come up with all sorts of off-the-wall ideas that probably wouldn't get past a publisher. Don't get me wrong; we'd still be thrilled to get The Yogi Vegans into print (publishers out there, take note ;) ), but here on the blog we can get, well, just that little bit more creative. This recipe definitely falls into the "creative" category, if not for ingredients then for using a redundant cake-pop maker we found in the bottom drawer. Don't worry if you don't have a cake-pop maker; these crispy and protein-laden balls of delight can also be cooked in the oven. They won't come out spherical, but they will be just as delicious. We know; we've tried. We didn't think we would come up with post-able results the very first time we made these but we loved their crispy outsides and cake-y insides and the satisfying way you can dunk them in chutney... so here they are!
We teamed them with a spicy tomato chutney and some stir-fried vegetables.

This recipe made about 20. One portion is about six- that's cake-pop size; just under an ice cream scoopful per ball.

175g gram flour (aka chickpea/ garbanzo flour)
90g peas, sweetcorn or a mix of both (we only had peas when we made them)
90g peanuts, ground (use a blender or even a coffee/ spice grinder)
1 1/2 tsps salt
1 tsp powdered turmeric
1 1/2 tsps baking powder*      *make sure it is gluten free if that's what you want; not all brands are.)
masala/curry powder/ a spice mix of your choice to your taste; at least 1 tsp (we used tava fry masala)
water for mixing

  • Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Stir in the peas/ sweetcorn.
  • Gradually add water until your mixture is the consistency of cake batter.
  • Using an ice cream scoop spoon the mix into the sections of a cake- pop maker and cook for about 15 minutes. If you are using the oven, place in blobs on an oiled baking tray and cook for about 15 minutes at 200C, turning halfway through. (Of course, you could always deep-fry them, but for us the whole point was getting a crispy, pakora-like savoury that didn't have to be fried.)
  • While they are cooking, you could whip up your favourite chutney; we used a tin of chopped tomatoes, some spices, fresh ginger, raw sugar and tamarind to create our own in minutes. If you would like a recipe, though, there's one for date and tamarind chutney here.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Iced Shortbread Cookies

You don't  need to ice these cookies, but it does make them more festive!
COOKIES! Who wants some?
That got your attention, didn't it? I don't know anyone who doesn't like some kind of cookie and vegans are no exception. Because it is so hard to get vegan cookies in supermarkets here in the U.K. which don't contain palm oil, we rarely eat biscuits or cookies any more except home made ones. This means we don't get to eat them very often at all. (Sad face emoji.) What I look for in a cookie recipe is simplicity: few ingredients, a quick and easy method and reliable, preferably crunchy results. This recipe has all these, so it's perfect for when you want to quickly make a batch or two in order to decorate them and give them as gifts. Ice or decorate them however you like, and use cutters shaped like stars or Christmas trees for maximum Christmas effect. I made the batch pictured here for a particular decorating purpose at work so they had to be round but you could let your creativity run riot!
 A few words about this recipe: after experimenting with coconut oil, I decided on coconut-based vegan margarine. Vitalite, to be precise. I know it's not a whole food, but at least it doesn't contain hydrogenated fat. My coconut oil attempt was nice and buttery, but a tad too... well...oily. Maybe another time I'll get it right. My next confession is that I used white flour and white sugar. White sugar is of course the most unhealthy sugar you can get but these cookies fall into the "sweet treat" category and white sugar from beet (rather than sugar cane) is fine for vegetarians and vegans as it is not bone-char filtered. Wholemeal flour with the coarser bran particles sieved out and soft brown sugar would probably work just as well. The ground rice is just that: I threw brown rice into a high- speed blender.You could, of course, use rice flour, or not bother at all, but I do think it guarantees that crunch that shortbread absolutely must have. Fine cornmeal would also work, and give the shortbread an attractive yellowy colour. The amounts in this recipe will yield about 16 cookies the size of digestive biscuits.

200g dairy-free spread
100g caster sugar
a pinch of sea salt
300g plain flour
1 tab ground rice
icing sugar for decorating

  • Cream the margarine, sugar and salt together.
  • Mix in the ground rice and the flour until you have a ball of dough.
  • I found the dough handled perfectly well without being chilled before rolling out, but if yours doesn't wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge for a while.
  • Roll out the dough to about 0.5cm thick. To save messing my worktop up, I rolled it out on clingfilm. Cut into the desired shapes. Keep rolling and cutting until the dough has all been used.
  • Place the cookies carefully on baking trays. I lightly oiled mine, but you could using baking parchment.Bake in the centre of an oven preheated to 160-180C. After bout 10 minutes your cookies should be done. They will look ever so slighly golden around the edges. 
  • Place them carefully on a rack to cool and crisp up. That's the thing about biscuits; they never look quite cooked but they are, and they don't go crunchy until they have cooled.
  • When the cookies are cool, you can make some icing by mixing a few drops of water with some icing sugar and spread that on,add sprinkles, cake glitter; whatever you like- or just dust them with sugar.
  • Perfect with a steaming mug of cocoa on a cold evening!
How did you decorate your cookies? Let us know via the comments below; you could even send a picture.