Saturday, 3 August 2013

Buckwheat Peanut Burgers- vegan, gluten free, soya free, suitable for Ekadasi

Shown here with cucumber, but goes with just about anything!
Not only was yesterday Ekadasi, but there are a few celebrations coming up this month where we observe Ekadasi-style fasting, such as Lord Balarama's Appearance and Sri Krishna Janmasthami. If you celebrate any of these festivals by following a farali (grain and bean-free) diet then here is another suggestion for you. (To find out more about Ekadasi fasting, look here and here. For more Ekadasi recipes, please click on the tab at the top of the page.) Whatever your chosen diet, though, these burgers are simple yet tasty alternatives to the kind of highly-processed and soya-based ones you can buy. They are so simple and natural, they truly deserve their "clean-eating" label.

This recipe makes about 8-10 burgers, depending on how big you make them.
1 1/2 cups unroasted whole buckwheat grains (1 cup= 250ml)
300g raw whole peanuts (we used organic redskin peanuts)
2 scant tsps coarse black pepper
2 tsps fine seasalt
  • Cook the buckwheat in 3 cups of water, until it is completely soft and has absorbed the liquid. (Takes 15 minutes or so.)
  • Meanwhile, dry roast the peanuts on a baking tray in an oven preheated to 170C. Take them out when their shells are cracking and they are just changing colour- about 10 minutes- don't overcook them.
  • Grind the nuts coarsely, so that they are finely chopped but not powdered.
  • In a bowl, mash the cooked buckwheat a bit with a potato masher, just to get it extra-gooey! Add the peanuts, salt and pepper. You will need to get in there with your hands to get it thoroughly mixed.
  • Shape into balls, then flatten/ mould with a crumpet ring or similar to form burgers. (This is way less messy if you work with oily or damp hands.)
  • We placed them on an oiled baking sheet and cooked on both sides at 200C, but I have to admit they did dry out rather, although nobody but me seemed that bothered about it. It did make them hard to handle without crumbling, though! Perhaps grilling or frying them would solve this one, or maybe adding some grated courgette (zucchini) to the mixture. Let us know if you tried these, or any other methods- that's the great intereactive advantage of blogging as opposed to writing a book!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Ingredient of the Month 23: Summer Squashes- Courgettes, Marrows and Kadoos Event

l-r: courgette, marrow, kadoo
All three of these are now growing in abundance in our allotment, so they were the obvious choice for Ingredient of the Month since they are such  healthy and versatile vegetables. They fall into the category of plants called curcubitae, which also includes pumpkins. All plants of this family originated in the Americas, but are now to be found all over the world. They are easy to grow indoors or outdoors and will provide loads of edible fruit and flowers in the Summer months. Courgettes (zucchini) were developed in Italy from American squashes. They are usually dark green in colour but there are yellow varieties and paler, round varieties which have a beautiful, delicate flavour. Marrows are a typically English plant to grow and are a real Summer treat, providing much larger, firmer-fleshed striped fruit which is delicious baked or stuffed, or even made into jams and chutneys. Kadoo is often used as a generic word for all squashes and pumpkins in Indian cookery, but here we refer to the cylindrical pale coloured Summer squash as kadoo.

Round courgette, flowers and young fruit. the male flowers can be picked and eaten, too- delicious!
Nutrition: I managed to find some data online for courgettes, and also for Summer squashes in general. Courgettes are low in calories and proetin, but a source of beta carotene, vitamin A, potassium and folate. Half a cup of courgettes contains 19% of the rda* of manganese, too. It is the skin which provides the beta carotene, plus fibre, so leave it on when you cook them, and make sure you eat it!  Summer squashes in general contain per 100g: vitamin a, lutein, zeaxanthin, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6, folate, vitamin K, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and zinc.

*rda= recommended daily allowance

Super Summer Squashes: August 2013

Come join our Super Squashes Event, running throughout August 2013!
Use the linky tool below to add your recipe (which must feature some sort of Summer squash, courgette, kadoo etc.) and post us a comment when you have done so. Archived entries will be accepted, but please amend to mention this event and link to it. You can use the above picture and caption if you wish. We have started the ball rolling with a few links of our own. Looking forward to seeing your recipes!

Spiced Parkin Flapjacks for Vegan Thursdays- vegan, no processed oils

Perfect for picnics...

Parkin is a traditional Yorkshire cake made with oatmeal, ginger and black treacle. (There's a nice vegan and sugarless version right here.) These flapjacks are made with oats, ginger/ cardamom and black treacle, therefore they are parkin flapjacks. Just like Yorkshire parkin. Only more biscuit-y. With me? 
We seem to be on a roll at the moment with desserts/ bakes involving more natural, dark sugars, but if you are not keen and prefer sugarless treats, don't forget to click on the tab above named Sugar Free Recipes for plenty of healthier inspiration. But if you are okay with using brown sugar now and then
and you love crunchy, chewy baked goodies bursting with moreish little fruit and nut and morsels, read on:

Makes 12 (sorry the measurements are in Imperial/ all over the place today, as I was using my mum's recipe as the basis.
8oz is half a pound, and equivalent to 226.8g- come on, you can do the maths!)
1 lb porridge oats
about 125g broken brazil nuts, chopped
a large handful of desiccated coconut
a large handful of golden sultanas
6oz soft dark brown sugar
4oz black treacle
8 fl oz unrefined sunflower oil
1/2-1 tab (according to taste- we like it strong) ground ginger or cardamom seeds, ground or unground

  • Melt together the sugar and treacle in a large pan, using a gentle heat.
  • Mix a small handful of the oats with about half a cup of water (1 cup =250ml) and the oil.
  • Add this mixture to the pan, stirring well.
  • Turn off the heat and add all the other ingredients.
  • Press down firmly into an oiled shallow baking tray or Swiss roll tin and bake for about 20-25 minutes in an oven preheated to 180C. For crispier flapjacks (ours were crunchy at the edges and chewier from the middle of the tray) you could either lower the heat to 150C and bake for longer or use a larger tray and spread the mixture more thinly.

This was a Vegan Thursdays post- please get in touch if you'd like to join the group.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Sunny Summer Fruits Tofu Cheesecake- vegan

You can use any fruit you like; mangoes and berries are great too

We've featured tofu cheesecakes on here before- in fact Strawberry Tofu Cheesecake (sugar and gluten free) is our all-time most viewed recipe, although never before have we dared to make it with sugar and wheat. But guess what? -It's wickedly, delightfully rich and creamy and a lot more like the dairy version. 
If you want gluten free, then use the base recipes from either of the links below, or if you don't want to use sugar, try substituting with xylitol, or use the strawberry cheesecake recipe below..
This dessert makes a great centrepiece for a Summer buffet or family gathering as you can make the fruit decoration as fancy as you like. We stuck to basic sliced fruit because we had a roomful of family who, having eaten all their veggies were eager for dessert. Feel free to make a biscuit-crumb base if you like, but to our minds that's not really making it from scratch, plus it adds extra sugar and fat. (Had to draw the line somewhere...). We made a kind of wholemeal digestive-cum-shortbread which was very easy to put together, but I have to admit I probably should have cooked it for longer to get it crunchy in the middle. The tofu filling is cooked, as it retains its sliceable texture better that way. I got most of the ingredients from Louise Hagler's Tofu Cookbook and just tweaked the quantities a bit. I also used firm tofu because that's what we had in the fridge. We used a 10" springform cake tin, but if you wanted a deeper cheesecake you could use a smaller one and make less base. We got 12 slices out of this recipe.

330g wholemeal flour
200g soft light brown sugar
150ml cold-pressed sunflower oil (if you don't mind the flavour) or coconut oil
50ml water

  • Mix flour and sugar together in a bowl.
  • Rub in the oil.
  • mix in the water evenly.
  • Press into an oiled springform cake tin.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 300C for 15 minutes or so, until just browned. 
  • Allow to cool. It should get crunchier as it cools down.
500g firm tofu, crumbled
150g soft light brown sugar
3 tabs lemon juice 2 tsps vanilla essence
A pinch of seasalt

  • Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender until it resembles a smooth, thick cream.
  • Spread evenly onto the base and bake in an oven preheated to 180~C for 20 minutes or so, until the top looks set but not overcooked.
To Finish:
We used 2 nectarines/ peaches and two kiwi fruits, sliced thinly and laid on top of the cake once it was completely cool. Berries also look great, but don't put very juicy berries on until just before serving, as they will seep juice onto the cake and look messy.

If you liked the look of this recipe, you might also want to take a look at:
Strawberry Tofu cheesecake - this is vegan, sugar and gluten free
 Twice-Baked Chocolate Tofu Cheesecake - also vegan with a gluten free base.