Saturday, 14 April 2012

Peach and Coconut Upside-down Cake- vegan, natural sugar

I had enough fruit and cake mixture to make one normal-sized cake and one small cake.

The cake is very moist and soft.

We went to our local fruit and veg market on Saturday and got- literally- bags of bargains! Inspired by Sobha's Eggless Mango Cake I was after some very ripe mangoes to try it out, but sadly it is a little too early in the year here to get the nice soft and sweet yellow ones from India/ Pakistan. So I decided to make a cake using nectarines instead, as we had bought some very nice, perfectly ripe ones. Their sun-kissed taste reminds me of the peaches from my Granny's tree, and of how although it never gave very many fruits in our damp English climate, she would always save one each for me and my cousins- But I digress: my chief sources of inspiration (and also my chief critics), the kids, were asking for an upside-down cake, so that is exactly what I made. After dinner we had to go out for a couple of hours, and judging by the fact that the smaller cake was completely gone by the time we came back, I think it was a success...

5-6 ripe peaches/ nectarines (depending on size), sliced thinly
400g self-raising flour
4 tsps baking powder
4 rounded tabs desiccated coconut (or more of you like coconut especially)
2000ml date syrup
400ml soya milk
150ml coconut oil
  •  Grease and flour/ dampen a metal/ silicone cake mould and line carefully over the base and up the sides with the peach slices.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl.
  • Mix the wet ingredients together in another bowl or jug.
  • Add the wet mixture to the dry immediately (otherwise the coconut oil re-solidifies and won't blend in properly) and beat well for about a minute.
  • Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 180C for 20-25 minutes, or until a thin skewer inserted into the middle of the cake emerges clean.
  • When cool, turn the cake out upside-down onto a cake board or foil-covered tray, to show the lovely golden peach slices.
  • Traditionally, an upside-down cake would have a mixture of butter and sugar or syrup spread over the base and sides before the fruit layer, but as peaches are so naturally sweet and juicy, I didn't feel it necessary.
PS: I have a really busy week coming up, so I may not post much- but I'll be back as soon as I can!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

"I can has cheezeburger?"- How to make healthier "Fast Food": Vegeburger and fries (vegan)

Burger in a bun with fries.... 

So what is this doing on a blog about wholesome vegan and vegetarian cooking and spirituality? A burger is made of meat- usually from Mother Cow- and it's full of unhealthy saturated fat too. Burger buns are highly processed, refined white flour with a lot of white sugar, food additives and goodness knows what else in them. Fries are full of fat that has been heated beyond its smoke point so that it becomes potentially carcinogenic, and ketchup is loaded with white sugar, vinegar and chemicals. What little salad there is, is probably boring old lettuce and tomato, and not very fresh either, right?
- Wrong! Just take a closer look and you will see...'s a vegeburger!
Actually, this whole meal is vegan, but you could, like the cat in the famous picture, "has cheezeburger", if you wish! (Or use a vegan cheese replacement such as Scheese, Tofutti or Cheezly.) For some simple and yummy low fat vegetarian and vegan burger recipes, look here, here, here, here and here. The buns shown above were made using my bread machine to knead and rise the dough while I got on with some long-overdue housework. Unlike commercially-made bread, they have no additives and are just flour, olive oil, a little salt, a little raw sugar and sesame seeds. (We only had white flour in the cupboard at the time, but usually I would have gone the whole way and made them wholemeal- even healthier, as it contains more fibre and B-vitamins.) By coincidence, today Aarthi of Yummy Tummy has posted a burger buns recipe, so take a look at it here. There really is nothing like the smell of home baking to tempt the kids in for lunch!

You could use your favourite pav bun recipe if you like, or go completely wholemeal

 Now let's look at the fries...
...not as unhealthy as they might seem at first...
The "fries" have been cut thicker, so as to minimise the amount of fat each one will absorb on its surface, I left the peel on (more fibre) and I used an oil which does not become unstable at a high temperature so that it isn't a toxic health risk. Of course, you could be even smarter and not fry at all, brushing the chips with a little oil and baking them in the oven. Then they would probably have less fat.

 And what about that limp lettuce leaf and sad tomato?

...Get creative, and throw in olives, cucumber, rocket, beansprouts, alfalfa, avocado...
...and serve more salad on the side,as well as in the bun, so you don't fill up on loads of fries. Don't bother with oily dressings either if you have home-made ketchup and/ or tofu mayo, in a recipe here. The ketchup is too easy to even warrant a recipe: mix tomato puree with lemon juice, seasalt, black pepper, date syrup/ gour and hing to your taste and nobody in your house will ever want to buy a bottle of ketchup again!

Great to dip your fries in!
So there you have it:there are healthier alternatives to meat burgers, commercial breads, lacklustre salad garnish, french fries, ketchup and mayo. Of course, the great thing about this meal is that as well as being healthier, it's all offerable to Krishna too :)

PS: Please don't forget to join in my Amazing Almonds event! Nobody has linked anything yet :(

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Vegan and Vegetarian Cornish pasties re-posted here for Chandrani's Lunchbox event

Boscastle Harbour, Cornwall,  at low tide

Delicious with a dollop of  green tomato chutney!

 May blossom and flowering gorse in Rocky Valley, Bossiney, Cornwall

I just got back from another wild and wonderful weekend in Cornwall, walking the cliffs and beaches, so what better way to participate in Chandrani of Cuisine Delights'
 "Spotlight: Lunchbox ideas" event than to re-post my pasty recipe! Pasties are a complete meal, all sealed up in their own edible pastry wrapping so they are ideal for lunchboxes. 

To make 10 pasties with some filling left over (makes a great pitta/ toastie filling for those who prefer bread to pastry) I used:
500g organic wholemeal flour
200ml extra- virgin olive oil mixed with 50ml water
water to mix
  • Measure the flour out into a bowl
  • Whizz up the oil and 50ml water in a blender with a little of the flour 
  • Rub this into the flour until the mixture looks a bit like breadcrumbs
  • Mix to a dough with cold water (use as little as possible- the pastry comes out crisper that way)
  • Form into a ball and set aside, covered, in a cool place while you prepare the filling
900g (uncooked weight) peas, potato, celery, white cabbage, pumpkin and swede (rutabaga) all chopped finely or diced no bigger than 1cm. (You could also use sweetcorn, parsnip, turnip, celeriac, carrot/ sweet potato etc.)
a little olive oil for sweating
200ml water
1 tab miso
1 tab soy sauce/ Liquid Aminos
1 tab tomato puree
1/2 tsp coarse-ground black pepper
1 tsp hing
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp thyme
  • Sweat the vegetables over a medium heat in a large, shallow pan with the lid on, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking. Do this for a minimum of 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are starting to soften. 
  • Mix the remaining ingredients with the water to make a stock and add to the pan. Cover and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Adjust the seasoning if necessary and set aside to cool.
  • Dice 250g of vegetarian Cheddar cheese and add to the filling when cool. Alternatively, use a handful or two of preserved black beans (douchi
  • Now roll the pastry out about 3-4mm thick and use a saucer or bowl to make circles around 15cm in diameter. 
  • Place a spoonful of filling in the centre of each circle, brush the edges with water and pinch the opposite edges together to make the classic pasty shape. 
  • Place on oiled baking sheets, brush the pasty tops with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 200C for 15-20 minutes, until the pasties are browning nicely on top
  • They are equally delicious hot or cold with plenty of salad and your favourite chutney. I like pumpkin, tomato, plum or green tomato.
More vegan-ising ideas: instead of black beans, use "Scheeze", "Cheezely", TVP chunks, seitan, tofu or your favourite cooked bean. I chose the black beans because their sharp tanginess is somewhat akin to a mature cheese.

Reminder: don't miss out on my "Amazing Almonds" event; submissions accepted until the end of April.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Barleycup and brown sugar cake (eggless)

Barleycup brown sugar cake

This cake is neither vegan nor sugar-free! But it is soft, sweet and has the grown-up, slightly bitter taste of coffee without any caffeine. It would be a good cake for entertaining, as it looks pretty with minimal effort. It's based on my basic cake recipe, with the addition of powdered Barleycup, a coffee-substitute made from roasted barley and chicory. It is really good topped with walnut halves, but as I didn't have any in the cupboatd (these days any whole nuts lying around in the cupboard get turned into nut butter in our new Magimix), I have shown it here with flaked almonds.

400g self-raising flour
200g dark brown muscovado sugar
4 tsps baking powder
3 1/2 tabs Barleycup (the powder, not the granules)
150ml sunflower oil
400ml soya milk
About half a packer of unsalted butter
an equal quantity of dark brown muscovado sugar
a little more Barleycup (to taste)
some walnut halves or flaked almonds for the topping
  • Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Add the oil and the soya milk, beating the mixture for about a minute.
  • Bake in an 8-10" (approx.) dampened silicone mould/ oiled and floured cake tin in an oven preheated to 180C for about 20 minutes, or until a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake emerges clean.
  • Beat the butter and the muscovado sugar together thoroughly; the sugar will be lumpy unless you take time over it. Stir in the Barleycup.
  • When the cake has cooled completely, spread the frosting on top and scatter with the nuts. 
  • If you want to make the cake even more special, you can double the quantities, make it in two tins and sandwich it together with more of the frosting, perhaps with some chopped nuts inside.