Thank you to Mister Nice Guy and a few ‘what I ates’

We haven’t visited Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop in quite a while.  Well, to be fair Husband did take the kids recently but he forgot that the Bake Shop is closed on a Monday, doh.  After the kids beat him up for it, they took it well.

Arthur’s birthday is this week and it appears he has refused my order to stop growing up.  I don’t think that will stop him writing stories for me on my birthday with titles such as “how to cook a butt” (actually that one was a graphic novel complete with recipe instructions).

For a pre-birthday treat, Husband took Arthur and DeeW to Mister Nice Guy’s today and he came home bouncing around in excitement, because of this lovely thoughtful gesture:

bun2

Arthur was given a cinnamon bun for his birthday-in-advance and declares it one of the best presents he’s ever received.  I haven’t had a cinnamon bun myself in ages so asked Husband to get one for me and it was every bit as delicious as always:

bun1

A very mega thank you to Mister Nice Guy and the Bake Shop crew!  Best customer service ever!

Okay, here are a few “What I ate this week” tidbits.  There aren’t many because I’ve been sick with no appetite and when I felt okay to eat all I wanted were the oranges and strawberries and bananas.

First up, the Mushroom Pecan Burgers from Dreena Burton’s ‘The Everyday Vegan’. I’ve never been lucky with things made from mushroom.  I like whole or sliced mushrooms but if it doesn’t look like a button shape to begin with, I won’t eat it.  I can’t bring myself to eat enoki, it falls too much in to the category of alien space food.  I’ve never been interested in turning mushrooms in to something else (like a burger), instead just preferring them sliced and tossed through pasta or on a pizza.  And that’s really about it. Arthur and DeeW won’t go near mushrooms so I thought I’d be sneaky and whiz them up and put them in burger form.  The recipe was very easy and contains tahini and hoisin sauce.  I used oats instead of the breadcrumbs:

mushroompecanburgers

I liked them but the kids weren’t keen which was pretty frustrating as this is a really good recipe.  I suppose they may have eaten them in a bread bun but I want to avoid giving them bread (or gluten, specifically) wherever possible.  It’s worth noting Dreena includes a ‘version 2’ recipe in her book Let Them Eat Vegan and you can see those burgers here.

Still, it means I got to have the leftovers to myself, this time in corn tortillas with salsa and vegan sour cream with coriander:

mushroompecanburgers2

 

For the first time ever, I made myself tofu scramble.  Up until now I was never truly convinced that ‘tofu’ and ‘scramble’ belong in the same sentence.  Kind of like apricot chicken.  Or any of those ‘fruit’ flavours in the Cadburys family block.  I had some tofu that had been defrosted and pressed (I think it was firm tofu) so I just crumbled it and fried it up with a pinch of curry powder and black salt.  I haven’t used my black salt much and boy when I added it to the tofu scramble, could you smell egg!  It smelt and looked so much like scrambled eggs that I had to sit there for a few minutes trying to will myself to eat it.  I added some of the coconut bacon I’d make and some rocket (I love rocket, yeah-eh) along with a little bit of vegan mayo. Delicious!

tofuscramblewrap

More burgers from Let Them Eat Vegan!, this time the Lentil Walnut Burgers.  The recipe calls for green lentils but I only had brown and they still tasted great.  There’s also diced apple (though I grated it) which adds a little sweetness without being too sweet.  I really liked these:

lentilwalnutburgers

I saw these green curry soups at Aldi.  I love green curry but not as a soup so I put most of it (but not all the liquid) on brown rice.  It wasn’t very good, a bit too sweet and the vegies too blergh looking and I gave up after a few spoonfuls.  Then felt a bit crappy because I’d put a couple of these soups (the red curry variety as well) in a bag of goodies for my sister’s birthday:

aldisoup
Woolworths sell these pakoras in their freezer section and they were over a dollar off so I grabbed some as a snack to have back at my mum’s house.  They tasted fine enough but were too dry when reheated:

pakora

I made the Pecan Date Nibblers from Let Them Eat Vegan! as an experiment for a short family holiday we have coming up.  The sweetness comes from the dates and maple syrup though next time I will cut the maple syrup way down as they were pretty sweet.  Arthur loved them, DeeW not really.  I added pumpkin seeds to the mix:

pecandatenibblers

I made my sister a lemon slice using Mel’s recipe but because I was plain old lazy I didn’t include the dairy free margarine and instead just dumped the condensed soy milk in without heating it.  I’ve never used the vegan version of condsensed milk and like the dairy version it’s basically massive sugar overload in canned form.  Does it stop one from having a big spoonful?  Not usually:

soymilke

I’m hoping that my food blog posts (well, my cooking I should say) for September will be far more interesting because of Vegan MoFo.  I’m looking forward to trying lots of recipes from my cookbooks, especially raw recipes.  See you then!

Rocket, YEAH-EHH!

Rocket, YEAH-EHH!

My vegan Karithopita – Greek walnut cake: Experiment 1 is a slight bust

Karithopita (“karithi” is walnut) was always one of my favourite Greek cakes.  I’d tried making it a few times over the years using different recipes.  Some recipes called for flour and others said breadcrumbs.  Some said whole eggs, some said separated eggs.   The walnuts are pretty much a given at least.  Like just about every Greek thing you could make, if you had ten karithopita-makers and their karithopita in the room, you’d most likely have ten different versions and lots of debate.  Maybe even a bit of Smackdown! action.

The recipe I used today is one I found in my mum’s old recipe collection.  It’s so old that not only is it typed by typewriter, it has no author or method listed nor size of baking tin or oven temp or how long to bake for.  Just the ingredients.  Hardcore old school or WHAT.  Or just plain annoying?  Anyway, Mum says that many years ago, she was told that a good karithopita should always be made with breadcrumbs, not flour.

So this ancient recipe I found calls for 8 eggs.  8 eggs!  Far out. I opted for egg replacer for 3 large eggs worth and about 5Tbs of home made walnut butter.  With absolutely no freaking idea about anything.  I’ve used nut butter in some recipes before as a sort of egg replacer and it’s worked beautifully.

Then I had the additional challenge of how the heck to mix it all together.  Did the original recipe intend for the eggs to be separated, beaten, whatever?  Who knows.  So I just mixed up the dry ingredients first then in a small bowl I carefully mixed the egg replacer mixture (made according to packet instructions), the brandy and the walnut butter.  Because I made the walnut butter myself beforehand, I made sure it was easy to work with as the store bought nut butters I’ve tried are really thick and hard to incorporate evenly.

Okay, so this is a cake that has two major components: the actual cakey bit and the syrup.  I was always taught that when you have a syrup that is to be poured over the cake, one thing must be hot and the other cool, so the cake is cool and the syrup hot or vice versa.  I don’t know the exact scientific hocus pocus reasons for this but when my grandmother wagged her finger in your face, you didn’t ask questions about thermal conductivity and all that nonsense.

For this recipe I used freshly made breadcrumbs because that’s all I had.  I would have preferred using stale bread but will try that next time.  I know I could have toasted the bread a bit first but I was impatient.

Okay so then I made the walnut butter, which was about two scant cups of walnuts thrown in the food processor and whizzed until they were buttery.  I did add a good teaspoon of olive oil to make it a little smoother.

I’m happy with the way my first vegan karithopita turned out.  Not bad for a first attempt but I’d make some changes next time.  Like reducing the sugar by much more.  I’ll put in my recipe notes at the end.

UPDATE, TAKE NOTE, BEWARE, ETC:  This turned out really thick and dense.  My mum said “the flavours are really good and are exactly right but it’s a little on the gluggy side and needs to be lighter, but not fluffy-light”.  So that’s my next challenge.

Still, I have tasted some versions which were like this and really thick, which is why you only eat a very small piece  🙂

The Veganopoulous Vegan Karithopita v1.0- the really dense version

(1 cup equals 250ml)

For the cake:

* 3 cups of crushed walnuts

* 2 cups of breadcrumbs

*1 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1 cup sugar

* 1 teaspoon baking powder

* Egg replacer to make about three large eggs worth

* 5 generous Tablespoons of soft walnut butter (soft enough to mix up)

* 1 Tablespoon brandy (optional)

For the syrup:

* 3 cups water

* 2 cups sugar

* 2 cinnamon sticks

To make the cake:

* Preheat your oven to about 180C (moderate oven temp).  Prepare your cake tin/dish (see notes).

* In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, crushed walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar:

karithopitamix

* In a small bowl, make up your egg replacer mix for three large eggs.  To it, add the walnut butter and brandy.  Whisk it up so it’s all evenly mixed (this is why the walnut butter needs to be soft enough to blend well).

* Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir, then use your hands to thoroughly mix everything.  I squished the mix between my fingers.  The mixture shouldn’t be a typical cake batter.  You should be able to roll soft balls of it, and it is okay to have it be slightly sticky to the touch, without being a wet batter.  Sorry, forgot to take a photo.

* Put the cake mixture in to your prepared tin/dish (see recipe notes) and flatten it gently so it’s all level.

* Put it in the oven until really nice and browned on top and a toothpick comes out clean.  Mine was in the oven for about 45 minutes.  When it’s done, cut it in to diamond or rectangle (or square) shapes while it’s still in the dish/tin (don’t remove it!).  Let it cool while you make the syrup.  Remember, leave the cake right there!

For the syrup:

* You can make this in advance. Put the syrup ingredients in to a medium saucepan.  Mix well, bring to the boil, then simmer about ten minutes.  Stir now and then.  Remove from heat:

karithopitasyrup

Final assembly:

* With one thing hot and the other cold, get a ladle and pour half the syrup gently over the cake.  The cake should be cut and still be in the dish/tin you baked it in!  If you feel the cake needs more syrup, go for it but today for this cake I found I only needed half the amount in this recipe.  I guess it’s one of those “it just depends” things  🙂

Let the cake sit and be completely cool (about an hour at least) to soak up the syrup.  You can keep it in the cake tin/dish or move it to a nicer looking serving plate. Eat!  It tastes even better the next day and the day after that.

Recipe notes:

* This is sweeeet.  Well, for me anyway.  And I really don’t like sweet desserts like this anymore.  Greek sweets are usually served alongside a Turkish coffee (so you appreciate the sweetness more).  Next time I make this I’m using a different (and far less sweet!) syrup.

* Use a cake tin or pie dish that allows the uncooked batter to be about 3cm or 1 1/2 inch high.  The cake doesn’t rise much.  I used a square cake tin with base measuring 20cm (8″) and lined it with baking paper.

* I used a combination of finely crushed walnuts and  finely chopped walnuts because I wanted to bite in to little pieces of walnut.  Next time I might try finely crushed all the way.  I used my food processor to chop.

* There are quite a few variations on the syrup used in such cakes.  Some people make a thicker syrup with a little brandy, water and sugar. Others add orange or lemon rind (with no pith).  Others use a few whole cloves in the syrup.  It all comes down to what you like  🙂

* Next time I will try using stale breadcrumbs.  And I’m thinking of trying barley flour.

karithopita

Enjoy!

"This cake has chunks in it."

“This cake has chunks in it.”

Christmas/Newtonmas Eve snapshots

The thermostat reached 39C (102.2F) yesterday and today I woke to a warm morning, blustery winds and my washing line, with washing, on the ground.  I had to do some baking today and prepare Christmas goodies for family.  Fortunately the weather cooled fairly quickly.

Even on hot days I still start my day with a cup of tea.  Today’s selection was chai flavoured green tea in my 90c Savers cup:

chaigreentea

The ‘Arthur’ Christmas special was on this afternoon:

arthurxmas

The latest issue of Vegan Health & Fitness arrived:

vhfmag

I had to snip some of our grapevine leaves so my mum can make Greek stuffed vine leaves.  All helpers must wear monster slippers:

pickingleaves

Roasting nuts to give out as little gifts but they taste burnt even though they’re not, sigh:

roastnuts

A Christmas lights display at one of the houses in my neighbourhood:

xmaslights

A Christmas Eve supper of vegan sausages (the Linda McCartney ones) and veg (not shown), followed by stollen I made today (recipe up soon).  The plates are part of a bulk lot of vintage dinnerware I picked up cheap.  I have the matching glasses for the old jug (found at Savers, my grandma had one of these) but I decided on the Ikea Christmas glasses instead.  Because, you know, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas:

xmasevesupper

xmasevesupper2

Treats out for Santa Claus and the reindeer.  DeeW is really in to the whole Santa thing.  Arthur, not at all.  The conversation between them was something like “DeeW, Santa Claus DOES NOT EXIST.  I don’t understand how you could believe that rubbish”.  “Well my brother, that’s because you are stupid and your brain is the size of a pea”.  Noice:

santafood

I’m pooped.  It was a very late night last night assembling presents, getting stuff together and watching the last half of ‘Bella Swan and the Huntsman’ on dvd.  Tonight we need to finish off the assembly work and do some tidying up.  It’s a big day tomorrow and I hope to be home before dinner time so we can all unwind and enjoy a quiet evening.

Have a wonderful day/night everyone and a fantastic Christmas/Newtonmas/Bradymas!

Brady Christmas!

Vegan Sausage Rolls

My son, named Arthur on this blog,  is a very fussy eater.  Getting him to try new foods involves bribery, corruption and lots of fibbing.

This week I decided to try some of the Linda McCartney vegan sausage rolls.  I don’t usually buy that kind of stuff but I thought I’d give it a go.   Better that than me slaving over a homemade batch to have him say “these taste 30% good but 70% poopy”.  Anyway he loved them and asked me to buy more.  “Buy?” I said.  “You mean you want me to MAKE more”.  I’m sneaky this way.  I’m happy to take the credit.  And then he said “hey Mumz, how do you make a sausage roll?  Just GIVE IT A LITTLE PUSH”.  And I was all very funny sweetheart but please don’t talk with your mouth full of flaky pastry because now we need to vacuum the floor again.

So my challenge was to then make my own vegan sausage rolls that would taste enough like the Linda McCartney variety.  My vegan buddy swears by the recipe over at Where’s The Beef, so I decided to give that a go.

The hardest part of this recipe was trying to find my pastry brush.  I looove recipes where things are thrown in to a food processor because I’m lazy.

Bring forth the roll of no-sausage and bathe it in Heinz:


Critic Review Time.  This is where I get nervous.  Like Iron Chef.

Me: “these are amazing and would absolutely fool anyone who indulges in high fat offal tubes.  If I had this before I was vegan, I would believe it if you told me they came from Fergusson Plarre”.

Husband: “these are good.  I just need a bit more sauce”.

Arthur: “these are 100% delicious out of 100.  See this Superman S on my t-shirt?  The S stands for Sausage Roll Man”.

DeeW: “can you make me something else to eat?” Let us strike her opinion from the record on the basis of Puff Pastry Refusal.

This is a fantastic recipe.  Trust me, you can NOT taste the tofu.  Husband was sitting there peering inside the rolls to see what he could make out.  Fooled good and proper, which always gets a thumbs up from me!