Friday, 11 October 2013

Recipes Revisited 3: Date and Walnut Cake- vegan, no sugar

Would you guess this picture was taken under artificial light?
This time it's my husband's turn to give a favourite recipe of ours a makeover: he chose date and walnut cake/ loaf, as it's one of his best- loved combos. I have made at least three versions before; here, here and here, all of which turn out out well, but there's always room for another! -And this one has certainly put my previous attempts in the shade- it's light, moist, even-textured and has just the perfect level of sweetness. He also set up a lamp for photographing food indoors now that we are nearly back on GMT and the nights are so much longer and darker. It's a small metal halide floodlamp, which gives off white light, and is pretty effective, as you can see from the photo above. The only thing is positioning it, as we have no stand. This time it was balanced on top of a cupboard, shining down onto the worktop. Any tips? What do you guys do if you have to take a picture after dark? (As we combine cooking for the blog with cooking family meals, some dark evening photography is unavoidable.)
...So back to the cake: the big difference in this version is that some of the wheat flour has been replaced with millet (bajri) flour, to give a closer texture without compromising on lightness. The orange peel is new too. We would have used coconut oil, but didn't have any at the time, so olive oil was used instead.

200g wholemeal flour
100g white self raising flour
100g millet flour (bajri)
5 tsps baking powder
175ml olive oil/ coconut oil
400ml soya milk
125ml agave nectar
140g chopped dates
70g chopped walnuts
about 20g finely shredded orange peel
  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, including the peel, half the dates and the walnuts.
  • Beat the oil into the agave nectar and mix in the soya milk and the rest of the dates.
  • Combine the wet and dry mixes, put into a prepared mould/ tin and bake at 170C in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven. (Our fan oven took 22 minutes.) Tip: use a square or rectangular mould/ tin rather than a loaf pan, as the cake will be shallower and bake more evenly.
Do let us know your verdict if you try this out. Would you like to see a gluten free version of this cake?

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Aloo Baingen- vegan

I added peas to this traditional recipe
In this well- known Indian dish, melt-in-the-mouth aubergine is combined with cubes of potato and aromatic spices, in a rich tomato sauce. I don't think I need to say any more...

Makes 4 large portions:
2 large potatoes
2 ½ -3 small (but not baby) aubergines (eggplants)
2 cups fresh coriander
2 tabs cumin seeds
3 bay leaves
3 tabs sunflower oil
Piece of fresh ginger about the size of the top of your thumb, grated
Seasalt to taste (1-2 tsps)
5 medium-sized fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 Cup (250ml) frozen or fresh green peas 
500ml passata
2 tsps compound hing
2 tabs powdered coriander
  • Dice the potato and aubergine and chop the coriander (scissors are good for this)
  • Heat the oil in a large wide-bottomed pan/ karhai and stir fry the potato and aubergine until thoroughly coated.
  • Add the cumin seeds, salt, fresh tomatoes bay leaves and hing. Place the lid on and sweat on a low heat until the aubergine and potato are soft.
  • Add the peas, sugar (if using), passata and both corianders, and continue to cook with the lid off until it has reduced a little and the sauce is nice and rich.
  • Serve with an Indian bread such as chapattis, bhatura or naan.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Kabocha Coconut Soup- vegan, gluten free

The darker flecks are the spices
Actually, this is just a way of sneaking another pumpkin soup recipe into our kitchen and onto the blog- when you have as many pumpkins as we have this year, you have to get super creative with them ; )

This soup is really easy to make- in fact it virtually makes itself while you're cooking the rest of your meal*. Our recipe serves 4 people easily, as it is thick and creamy and quite satisfying. Quantities are approximate for now, as I didn't start making notes until part way through.

about 1/2 cup shredded white cabbage plus a dash of soy sauce, a pinch of brown sugar and a pinch of hing
a fingernail-sized chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
300ml coconut milk
about 2/3 small kabocha , peeled and diced
1 1/2 tsps seasalt
1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
2 tsps Chinese five-spice powder (or a bit more if you like)
  • First stir-fry the cabbage and ginger in another pan until soft; add the soy sauce, hing and sugar and mix well. (This should now be pungent enough to do the job of onions.)
  • Now put the squash in a pan with just about enough water to cover it, and boil until soft. *This is the part of the recipe when you can go and roast some veggies, put a pot of rice on, etc.
  • Mash the squash coarsely in the pan of water- should be easy if it is thoroughly cooked.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and bring to a simmer. Use a hand blender to get a smooth, velvety texture.
  • This soup looks great garnished with a little coriander leaf/ flat-leaved parsley, or toasted coconut shavings. Or even top with steamed shredded kale, as we did the second time I made this.