Friday, 7 December 2012

Countdown to Christmas Cookery 4: Sweets- Chocolate Hemp Chikki, Chocolate Dates and Vegan Marshmallows

Crunchy hemp and smooth dark chocolate... mmm...
There are many different sweets traditionally made and given as gifts at Christmas: Turkish delight, peppermint creams, sugared almonds, marzipan fruits and fruit jellies, to name but a few. These are all vegetarian (you can just omit the eggwhite from peppermint creams; I'm not sure why it's even in there in the first place) or vegan- of course, you do need to check labels just in case- so here are three ideas for some less traditional yet equally delicious vegan goodies with which to feast your friends. 
New this year are the chocolate hemp chikki (the hemp was my husband's idea and the chocolate was mine!) which are rich in minerals and omega oils from the gour and the hemp. Then I've posted links to my recipe for date and marzipan chocolates and one for vegan marshmallows (possibly my greatest accidental invention ever!)

Chocolate Hemp Chikki (makes a bagful of little bites)
300g shelled hemp seeds
200g gour
about 50g dark chocolate
  • Melt the gour in a sturdy pan over a medium heat, and stir in the hemp seeds.
  • Follow the instructions for making chikki  here .
  • Spread onto greaseproof paper and when setting, break into little chunks or cut into neater squares/ diamonds (I went for he "crazy paving" effect).
  • Half-dip in melted dark chocolate and return to the greaseproof paper to set.
  • You can also make these with sesame seeds.

Date and Marzipan Chocolates
Find the recipe here

These are equally good as a cake decoration or on their own

Vegan Marshmallows
Find the recipe here

Try adding a little food colouring to make them even more attractive!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Easy-Peasy Pulao- vegan: re-blogged for Kids' Delight Event

Adapt the seasoning to suit your own taste, or follow my suggestion for a mild and family-friendly side dish

Our kids don't really enjoy their rice plain. However they don't like pieces of chilli or whole spices either, so I have to be careful to make sure the pepper and cardamom are ground. (I left the cloves whole though, as they are so obvious.) What made tonight's effort different was the addition of some grated veggies- when feeding youngsters it's always a good idea to cram in as much "hidden" veg as possible! Anyway, the end result was so colourful that I'm sending this to Kids'Delight  What makes it a "storybook" recipe is that my mum used to make rice something like this, and as I ate she would tell me stories of her childhood in India- not exactly a book, but a great family story!

This recipe serves 6+ as a side.
1 1/2 cups (250ml) basmati rice
1 level tsp turmeric (haldi)
1-1/2 tsps seasalt
1/2 tsp compound hing
1 large pinch coarse black pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp powdered green cardamom (elaichi)
10 whole cloves
olive or ricebran oil for sizzling the spices
150g veg (such as courgette, sweet potato and/ or white cabbage)
1/2 a yellow bell pepper
1 tab peas
1 tab sweetcorn kernels
  • First grate all the veggies apart from the peas and sweetcorn. (I used the fine attachment on my Magimix.)
  • Wash the rice and place in a pan with 3x 250ml cups of water, the salt and the turmeric.
  • Put the lid on, bring to the boil then turn down and simmer gently until the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked through. Be careful not to overcook it or it will become sticky and stodgy and the grains will break up.
  • Meanwhile, heat some oil in a small pan and throw in the rest of the spices. When the aromas are released (don't overbrown) add the grated veggies, peas and sweetcorn.
  • After a couple of minutes stirring and heating the veg through add them to the rice (which by now should be virtually done). 
  • Your pulao is now ready!
PS: Next time I'm going to toast the spices and in the rice pan, then add the rice, turmeric salt and water- I think this will make it even more aromatic. To prevent sogginess though, I will still add the separately-cooked peas and sweetcorn at the end, once the rice is done. (I only did it separately this time because I'd already put the rice pan on to cook when I decided to make pulao!)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Seitan chickpea sausages/patties or mince- vegan

I served them with roast potatoes, baked beetroot and a large mixed salad; you also could team them up with mash, gravy, peas and a blob of mustard for a very British supper.
I had been meaning to make these for ages, so when I found myself with a spare hour or so to spend in the kitchen, I jumped at the chance. I suspect I will modify this recipe in the future as this version is a good starting point for more experiments- but don't get me wrong; it's still a good recipe to cook per se. I looked at the ingredients to my kids' favourite brand of veggie sausage (the one that bears the name of a Beatle's late wife) and found the source of protein is "wheat protein" and "pea protein". So I decided to make my own version without onion powder, using seitan and ground kala chana (dark chickpeas). I wanted to cut down on fat and salt, too. Next time I will compromise, and add a tad more salt and perhaps throw in some shelled hemp seeds for some healthy omega oils, as the sausages were a little bit dry and crumbly on the outside once baked. (Maybe they would've been better fried, but then I guess that would have defeated the object.) This recipe will make 6 sausages/patties or you could leave the mixture loose, cut out the herbs and smoked paprika and use it in a tomato sauce or stock as mince in something like Bolognese sauce or lasagne.

300g seitan- look here for how to make it
200g cooked chickpeas (I used kala chana, the dark brown ones)
1- 11/2 tabs soy sauce
1/2-3/4 tsp seasalt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp compound hing
2 tsps paprika
1 1/2 tsps sweet smoked paprika
  • Blitz the seitan and chickpeas in a blender/ food processor until they resemble a fine mince.
  • Turn into a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, stirring well.
  • Shape into sausages/patties and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
  • Bake at 200C for 10-15 minutes,or until heated through and browning, turning once.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Countdown to Christmas Cookery 3: Veggie sides: Baked Beetroot with Cumin and Smoky Swede Mash

Baked beetroot with cumin is so quick and easy to make!

Fed up with boring Brussels sprouts? Tired of predictable peas?- Well here's a couple of ideas for something different to go with your main meal on Christmas Day (or New Year's Day, or any other day during the Winter festive season for that matter...)
The first side dish features beetroot, and is great because it can just be prepared then popped in the oven with whatever else you happen to be roasting in there. The cumin really raises the humble and somewhat earthy beet to divine status, along with seasalt crystals/ flakes and a dash of lemon juice. I promise you that people who wouldn't normally go for beetroot will love this one!
-Which brings me to the second veggie side of today, Smoky Swede Mash. Swede is cheap and plentiful in the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year, but few know how to make it really delicious. Too often swede is consigned to anonymity within a stew or casserole, but here I've given it star billing. Forget its history as animal feed- swede cooked this way is really tasty; I devised this recipe last Winter to persuade my family to eat swede, and it worked!

Baked Beetroot with Cumin (serves 4 as a side)
2 medium-sized fresh beetroot
a pinch of coarse/ flaked seasalt
a pinch of coarse black pepper
2 tsps cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tab olive oil
a dash of lemon juice to serve
  • Wash,peel and slice the beetroot into 6-8mm-thick rounds/semicircles.
  • Toss them in the oil,salt, pepper and cumin seeds.
  • Place on a baking tray and cook in the oven at 200C until soft (but not leathery).
  • Serve with a dash of lemon juice.
Smoky Swede Mash

Swede has an attractive golden colour

This is another really simple side dish.The flavour of the swede is enhanced by sweet smoked paprika. For  the recipe, click here.

By the way, iInow have another blog, Vegan on a Budget, where the recipes are all priced up and exclusively vegan. You may find some recipes the same as here, and some new ones too.So far I've made one post....

This is going to the excellent Foodomania's Christmas Cook Off  event; do check out all the yummy festive recipes there...