Another veganny goodness lunch

My parents came over again today to help with some work going on at our house.  Which of course means I cook some vegan delights!  I decided on a very light dessert, seeing as we had a double layer chocolate fudge cake two days ago.

todayslunch1

First up was Spinach and Tofu Ricotta Cannelloni, posted by Caeli over at Little Vegan Bear.  I made the sauce and filling last night to make things easier today.  I haven’t had cannelloni in years so I was very happy with this tasty vegan version!  The filling contains tofu, mushrooms, walnut and spinach (plus other flavours) and was very easy to make.  The stuffing-the-tubes bit was the most time consuming part but really, it was only ten minutes.  Put the radio on, rock out to a few Poison songs, deny you did that, and you’re done.  Hey did you know that Rikki Rockett, the drummer from Poison (AS IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW) is vegan?  Anyway, I topped my cannelloni with grated frozen Cheezley:

tofuspinachcannelloni

My second dish was the Creamy Potato and Leek Casserole posted over at James&Matt. I had a leek in the fridge for about, oooh, as long as you can have a leek before it starts sporting mould.  I screwed it up a bit though.  I used less potatoes and used a smaller baking dish but I think I misread the liquid ingredient amounts and didn’t compensate properly.  Although the casserole on top was all nice and thick, the potatoes were swimming in a sea of watery liquid. My silken tofu was also really watery which probably didn’t help. Next time I will adjust properly, because this dish was delicious and I’d like to make it again  😀

leekpotatocasserole

I also made a simple salad with mixed salad greens, tomato, toasted walnuts and the Effortless Anytime Balsamic Vinaigrette from The Oh She Glows Cookbook.

todayslunch2

For dessert, I wanted something as light and refreshing as possible so I opted for fruit with some kind of fancy pants element.  I chose the Winter Citrus Salad from The Oh She Glows Cookbook.  Fresh mint leaves and (raw in my case) sugar are whizzed up and sprinkled over sliced oranges and grapefruit.  I added strawberries.  I’ve never made mint sugar before, it’s so incredibly tasty for something so incredibly simple:

wintercitrussalad

I gave some cannelloni and potato leek casserole to my sister and brother in law.  They said they tried to leave some for tomorrow’s dinner but caved in and ate it all tonight instead.  So there you go, thumbs up all ’round from my family!

Hair vegan.

Hair vegan.

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‘No-Fu’ Love Loaf from Let Them Eat Vegan! plus oversmashed smashed Jamie Oliver spuds. Bad pics

I haven’t made a lentil loaf in ages.  The loaf (lentil and sweet potato) I have always made is from Choosing Raw and it never let me down.  I did however always plan to make Dreena Burton’s No-Fu Love Loaf from Let Them Eat Vegan! in the hopes that Arthur and DeeW would eat it and LIFE WOULD BE GOOD.

The loaf is easy to make and involves cooking up some lentils and burghul (or you can use steel cut oats instead) then mixing it up with some herbs, tahini, Worcesteshire sauce, tomato ketchup and tamari and adding in some oats.  Bake and it’s done. Super simple to prepare.

nofu love loaf

I really liked it but SAD FACE, the kids weren’t crazy about it but they at least tried it.  Which means I will put it on their plates about fourteen more times because recently a researcher within the field of sensory processing difficulties told me they found that on average, a food had to be presented to a child fifteen times before the child started eating it.

For those of you who watch Jamie Oliver Christmas show specials, you might have seen his roast potatoes that he kind of squishes half way through the cooking process.  I found a clip of it on YouTube.  Easy enough right?  I don’t think mine were cooked enough when it was time for squishing. I think I applied a bit too much force:

smashed spuds whoopsie

They kind of just exploded.  First my potato masher was making little wormy potato through the masher holes so I press down a little harder and they exploded.  But let me tell you the explodey bits crisped up and boy does adding the vinegar halfway through pack a really nice punch.  I never, ever put vinegar on my fries and always found it rather gross.  But these were great:

smashedspuds2

 

I will definitely make them again… carefully.

A slightly fancy luncheon party

‘Slightly fancy’ here means I’ve broken out the old china, properly cleared the table and planned a bit of a menu for a special guest.  Today’s special guest was my sister who came over so Husband could fix her phone.  That was the special occassion.  Yep, any reason to get the slightly-fancy on in the haus of Veganopoulous.

Usually I have a fair bit of anxiety when it comes to cooking for anyone not in the immediate family.  My shoebox kitchen doesn’t help matters.  Anxiety about cooking for others kinda sucks when you love to cook.  But hey, I’ve come a long way from my teenage sweet and sour Asian macaroni piece de resistance and the truly disgusting ricotta tortellini salad that was simply dressed with sesame oil (thank YOU, awful 90s Womens Weekly cookbook.  Or was it Family Circle?).

My sister and I like the same foods so I decided to put together a hearty main meal of veg and chickpeas, a few veg sides, a simple garden salad and a slice for dessert with tea.  Plus a coconut cake, because I couldn’t choose between a slice and a cake so I made both.  Because I can!  I did briefly consider a tofu dish but decided this was enough if we were going to have tea and more than one piece of cake…

I collect old china by companies like Johnson Brothers, Meakin and Grindley.  And clearly,  I don’t like to iron or properly co-ordinate a table setting:

tablesetting2

I asked DeeW to prepare a centrepiece:

centrepiece

The main part of the meal was the Pumpkin and Chickpea Salad recently featured on Where’s The Beef? I used half butternut pumpkin and half sweet potato. This was simple and very tasty.  My sister says it would make a great lunch to take to work:

chickpeasalad

One side dish was the Lemon Dijon Green Beans from Dreena Burton’s Let Them Eat Vegan!:

beans

I also made some potatoes that were sprinkled with lemon juice, garlic and sumac.  Which turned the potatoes pink:

sumacpotatoes

I roasted some cauliflower, using Dreena Burton’s recipe for Almond Roasted Cauliflower from Let Them Eat Vegan! but I was out of almonds (yeah, noticed that after I started preparing the cauli) so it was walnut roasted instead:

cauli

The garden salad was a simple green leaf mix, toasted pecans with a vinaigrette made with EVOO, pomegranate molasses, garlic and lemon juice:

greensalad

Everything ready to go:

tablesetting

The slice was Hedgehog, which I haven’t made in many many years.  I used the recipe from Veganise This! which was adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe’s recipe.  I had eaten some biscuits from the packet of Arnotts Nice before I knew I’d be making this recipe so yeah… could have done with about five more biscuits here and a smaller tin:

hedgehogslice

And the cake was another Dreena B. recipe: the Coconut Cake from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan! with the Creamy Vanilla Frosting on top.  I love this cake.  In place of almond extract for the cake and frosting, I used a tiny bit of coconut essence (I really need to buy the good stuff).  This cake was renamed by Husband to Sunken Cake.  And then Caldera Cake.  Obviously I went wrong somewhere cos yeah, it really sunk in the middle:

calderacake

You know those moments when you’re really stuffed but you’re still thinking about going back to the fridge for the last piece of cake?   Yes, that.  I’m resisting the urge though so I’ll go and make another pot of tea for myself instead  🙂

coconutcake

The Philips Air Fryer (aka Veganopoulous the sucker)

So one day, I was channel surfing (I rarely watch tv so this was a rare moment) and Arthur walked in to the room just as a home shopping infomercial came on  for the Nicer Dicer.  And I said to Arthur now come and be seated and let me show you how advertising tries to brainwash us in to buying crap.  Twenty minutes later Arthur says “I think this would be a really good gift for you Mummo” and in a monotone I replied yessssssss.  But then I snapped out of it cos I googled reviews and people were saying how you end up with shaved bits of plastic in your salad.  Phew, they almost had me.

A few months ago, Husband had sent me some links for an air fryer.  I looked at them briefly and said pfffft what a waste of money.  And the air fryer was passed off as a thing of nonsense.

phillipsairfryer

Welllll.  Like the evil little engine that could brainwash, the air fryer came back to try its luck.  In another rare tv moment, as I was home alone and was about to watch a DVD, the home shopping network was on and the feature product was the Philips Air Fryer, reduced in price with a special deal on a second baking tray.  I had no idea what it meant but I decided to see just how gimmicky this baby Dalek was.

Yes, Veganopoulous was sucked in.  Initially, I looked at it and thought how on earth would that size tray feed a family of four to six?  A quick google of reviews showed gush after gush of people cooking [non-vegan-food] with baby potatoes in the same basket, all to feed a family of six.  Impressive.  Then of course, the discussion of cooking chips.  I looove hot chips but to get mine all soft on the inside crispy on the outside required a ton of oil in the oven tray and I really do not like cooking that way.  I tried the oil sprays but the potatoes (in chip form or slices or wedges) turned out urgh.

I also realised that if I was to feed a healthy, balanced meal to my family, then the portion sizes provided by the air fryer tray or basket would be more than enough.  Portion size has always been my downfall!

It’s been two weeks since I saw that program, and one week since the Philips Air Fryer arrived.  Like just about every other air fryer owner in the galaxy, I tried potato chips first.  This involved slicing my potatoes in to strips and soaking for at least half an hour.  Then pat dry, toss with a teaspoon of oil and some salt (I made them plain) and stick them in the air fryer for twenty minutes at 180C:

chips1

 Shake the basket once at the halfway mark:

chips2

I have to say, the chips were pretty good and Arthur, who insists he doesn’t like my home made chips, thought these were fab:

chips3

My second experiment with chips also involved some sweet potato.  As I was only cooking for myself, I used a few tiny drops of oil, a pinch of curry powder and some salt.  Again, pretty good.  Not crunchy-crispy but I’ll stuff myself on them:

chipsb

I will definitely use the air fryer to make chips and other potato goodies where I have previously had to use a lot of oil.  I’ll get Arthur to sample some sweet potato fries again as he didn’t like the oven baked ones I  made.  I have a recipe for stuffed mushrooms which looks good because mushrooms are another thing I have to use a bit too much oil on.

The Philips Air Fryer comes with a recipe book but it’s not very useful to a vegan, apart from the chips recipes and a stuffed mushroom recipe (the stuffing isn’t anything special).  There’s a ratatouille which looks good too.

This isn’t a cheap appliance, but neither was my dehydrator or blender and I bought those for health reasons and with my blender especially, it gets used all the time.  And I wanted to cut my use of oil waaaay down.  Cooking roast potatoes always had me feeling a bit ewww about all the oil.

So far I’m noticing a big lack of vegan recipes for air fryers but that’s cool as I’m sure we’ll eventually see more.  I’m hoping a lot of the recipes I would make on the stove can somehow be used in the fryer.  I would love to have a vegetable pakora or onion bhaji that isn’t deep fried but those batters tend to be quite wet and I’d probably have to line the basket so the batter doesn’t drip through.  I’m also looking forward to doing something with eggplant.  I love eggplant but again, so much oil is used!  I’ve been wanting to make my vegan moussaka again but the thought of frying the potato and eggplant has put me off.

I’ll be sure to blog about my success and failures using the Philips Air Fryer!

Happy Canada Day!

July 1st is Canada Day!  I hope my Canadian readers had a fabulous day rocking out to Bryan Adams and Glass Tiger.  Arthur and DeeW are interested in Canada because they have pen pals there, so today I decided to sneak a little Canada in to our day.

Did you know that Canada is the world’s largest producer of wild blueberries? And that Nova Scotia is the biggest producer of wild blueberries in Canada and the blueberry is its official provincial berry?  I had a blueberry smoothie for breakfast (with banana, leafy greens and hemp protein powder):

smoothie

Arthur and DeeW had porridge with maple syrup and blueberries:

porridge

Canada Day in my house would not be complete without maple syrup.  According to the Wikipedia page for maple syrup, in Canada syrups must be at least 66 percent sugar and be made exclusively from maple sap to qualify as maple syrup. In the United States, a syrup must be made almost entirely from maple sap to be labelled as “maple”. I am a maple syrup snob, none of that maple flavoured syrup for me. Costco sell 1 litre bottles of Grade A 100% maple syrup for $17 which is the cheapest I’ve found.  So to celebrate maple syrup and blueberries, I made a banana pumpkin blueberry cake with oat and spelt flour and maple syrup as the sweetener:

cake

When I was googling for Canadian recipes, the number one dish that kept coming up was poutine.  Poutine is potato fries topped with gravy and cheese curds.  I saw recipes with different ingredients added but I decided to make the plain version of the fries plus a vegan gravy (obviously!) for the kids.  On mine I shredded some Notzarella, a product I’ve never tried before.  For the gravy, I used the Silky Chickpea Gravy recipe from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra M.   I was never much of a gravy fan when I ate meat so I think it’s kinda funny that I really like vegan gravies now.

I put mine in a bowl with the Notzarella and gravy on top:

poutine

the kids had theirs plain with some gravy on the side to sample (they didn’t like it). I also made some baked tofu with a little maple syrup in the marinade… for ‘Canada Tofu’:

tofupoutine

We went off to the library today to find books about Canada.  We found one that says Canadians like to have brunch and bacon and eggs and pancakes with maple syrup is a very common brunch.  I had to smile at the description of kids playing hockey in the street and how one kid is always on the lookout for cars.  Not unlike here, with playing cricket or tennis in the street.  Except I was always the kid who had to run after the ball… something tells me that too is universal.

lib1

DeeW made a Canada flag:

flag

I visited Canada on my own back in 1998.  I went to Niagara Falls and from there I was supposed to stay in Toronto for a few days but had a hiccup with travel plans and I ended up staying with my friend in Edmonton a few days earlier than I planned.  Husband has been to Toronto and Ottawa and said they felt very much like Melbourne and he enjoyed his time there and wouldn’t mind returning.  We’re hoping to do a big family Europe/Canada/USA one day when the kids are much older.

Hope your day involved maple syrup, wherever you are!