Saturday, 4 January 2014

No-Sugar Cranberry Ginger Chutney and Cranberry Sauce

This chutney makes an excellent companion for cashew cheese and crackers- an "I-can't-believe-it's-not dairy" experience!
Do you have leftover Christmas ingredients in your fridge? We bought three punnets of cranberries to use over the festive season, two of which ended up as cranberry sauce to go with our nut roast on Christmas Day, and one of which I rediscovered lurking in the fridge several days later. Not wishing to waste the lovely fruit I decided to make a chutney. It goes really well with vegan cheeses and crackers, or in sandwiches, and this recipe makes a small jar full- which won't last long, if our family's reaction is anything to go by...

Cranberry Sauce (no sugar):
200g fresh cranberries
200g agave nectar

  • Wash the cranberries and put into a sturdy saucepan with what little water is still clinging to them.
  • Heat them gently. the juices will come out and the fruits will gradually break down.
  • When the fruit has broken down stir in the agave. Continue to simmer until it reaches setting point. This doesn't take long at all- keep testing by dropping a little into a cup of cold water. If it sticks together, it is done.
  • Bottle in a sterilised jar and keep in the fridge.
Cranberry Ginger Chutney:
2 tabs cold-pressed sunflower or olive oil
1 tab cumin seeds
1/2 tsp compound hing
1 tsp salt
a pinch of black pepper
1 tab grated ginger
1 tab soy sauce
200g fresh cranberries, washed but left whole
1 rounded tab sultanas
150ml agave nectar
  • Cook the spices and ginger in the oil.
  • When the spices are giving off their aromas but are not overcooked, add the cranberries and sultanas.
  • Simmer gently until the cranberries have broken down; add the agave and continue to setting point, as for the cranberry sauce (above).
  • Bottle and keep in the fridge.

What do you do with festive leftovers? Nut roast sandwiches? Brussels sprout and curried parsnip soup? We'd love to know...

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Smoky Tofu Tart- for Vegan Thursday

This tart can be served hot or cold.
If you are entertaining this New Year or you'd like a fresh idea for lunch or supper, than this just might be the recipe for you: granted, the Jus-Rol puff pastry was a bit of a cheat, but it did speed up the proceedings a lot and ensured a light crust. I wanted to recreate something more reminiscent of the original Alsatian quiche Lorraine, hence the smoky and creamy flavours here, rather than cheesy. It's equally good cold or hot.
We comfortably made 6-8 servings from these quantities:
100ml soya milk
1 1/2 -2 cups unpressed tofu (we made it from 2l soya milk)
1 1/2 tabs yeast flakes
1 cup sweetcorn kernels
a pinch of black pepper
a pinch of compound hing
1 tsp brown rice miso
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp seasalt
750g Jus-Rol (or home made) puff pastry
 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup coconut bacon 

  • Blend all the filling ingredients (we used a food processor)
  • Roll out the pastry about 1/2 cm thick- maybe a little thinner than that- and line an oiled baking dish/ flan dish with it.
  • Dot with the tomatoes and coconut bacon.
  • Bake at 200C in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Make sure the bottom is cooked through.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Ingredient of the month 27 : Raw Cacao Powder and event

Cacao can be bought as powder, or nibbed beans.
It's expensive, it smells delicious, it enables you to eat chocolate and still be raw vegan, healthy, clean eating, or whatever, and it's a superfood too. You have probably by now heard about raw cocoa, or cacao as it's called, and we think it's well worth making a healthier start to 2014 by buying some to replace your regular chocolate or cocoa.
Cacao is scientifically known as theobroma cacao, or "food of the gods". The Maya and Aztec peoples of central America believed that cocoa was literally a gift from the gods.They even used cocoa beans as currency. They must have realised its health benefits, although ancient texts do state that cocoa was only drunk by men as it was considered toxic for women and children! lists the nutritional values and health benefits of raw cacao, and they are truly amazing: zero chloresterol, but fibre, protein, iron, calcium, magnesium and lots of disease-preventing antioxidants too. Dark chocolate is well known for it's endorphin-producing properties that can act as an anti-depressant, and although not yet scientifically proven, it's reasonable to assume that cacao will also have those properties.
Cacao can be substituted for processed cocoa powder to make hot drinks, used in cooking or to make raw desserts and icecreams.

Do you have a favourite cacao recipe? If so, please join our cacao event using the linky below.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Food trends of 2013 - were we right?- and what's new for 2014

Vegan cheese on toast- has vegan now become the new vegetarian?

It hardly seems like a year since we were summing up what was going on in the food world for 2012 and making our predictions for 2013... were we right? Let's see:

  1. We said that natural and gluten free foods would become even more popular in 2013: And they were! 2013 was also the international year of quinoa, which may have also helped. The craze for fonuts- an American healthy and usually vegan, often gluten free version of doughnuts- is an example of this. As predicted, there was also an upsurge of interest in "super greens" in the UK, with kale and kale chips generating a lot of popularity in supermarkets and recipe sites.
  2. We said that Asian flavours would be big in 2013: Waitrose Weekend Magazine says that in the UK at least, it was Middle Eastern flavours like harissa and preserved lemon that cornered the market. And was kimchi really so passe by 2013?- Not according to Huff Post, anyway.
  3. We said that vegetables would reign supreme, and even find their way into dessert recipes: Also that cauliflower steaks would become popular; well that's certainly come true going on how many times I've seen them on food blogs over the past year. Yum!
  4. We said that home baking would continue to be really popular, especially in the UK: "Baking is now sexy and on trend" says Waitrose Weekend, thanks to another series of Great British Bake Off. I have also noticed quite a few ambitious and popular baking groups in the blogosphere, and the knowhow and standard of home bakers has become very professional lately.
  5. We said that raised awareness of health, hunger and animal welfare issues would lead to veganism becoming the new vegetarianism: And we think this one really did come true! Not only have we connected with lots of wonderful and inspirational like-minded vegans via Twitter and fb, but we have also noticed sites like the US Plant-Based on a Budget cropping up to show that even in the economic downturn and these desperate times of food banks, eating well and compassionately is a viable alternative to unsustainable, inhumane and unhealthy diets. At the other end of the scale, high-end vegan has become popular in restaurants, with establishments in Portland Oregon, LA and New York leading the way.
  6. We said that we thought tempeh would be popular in 2013: It was trending on Twitter about a year ago, so maybe it was... what do you think?
Mexican tortas (filled bread), snow cream (a Taiwanese cross between snow cones and icecream in exotic flavours), mini desserts and cronuts (a cross between doughnuts and croissants) were some other food trends from 2013; but will they last into 2014?

...And now: our predictions for 2014:
  • Holiday Food: This year we've done something different and looked at the top holiday destinations for 2013, going on the theory that people love to recreate their favourite holiday foods once they get home. We found that Spain, Portugal, the Greek islands, Florida, Sri Lanka, Mexico and France were the most popular holiday countries of 2013. So can we expect sunny Mediterranean flavours, dishes from the American South, spicy South Asian delicacies and classic French cuisine to be popular in 2014?
  • Retro Food: We have been experimenting with vegan-ising classic 70s kitsch recipes such as Black Forest gateau, and judging by the reactions we've had on Twitter, this is set to become quite a craze in entertaining. (At least, we hope so; it's fun!)
  • Raw will be the new vegan: Yeah, I know we're sticking our necks out here, but since vegan is now the new vegetarian, something has to take its place, and raw vegan is now taking off big time in cooler climes like the UK as well as sunny California, where it's been going on for years. There are now lots of inspiring raw vegan websites and blogs around, most with testimonials to the health benefits of going raw vegan and amazing photos of fit, slim people glowing with health and vitality;  kinda makes you want to ditch the cooker for the blender and join the ranks of the beautiful people...
  • What does Huff Post say? -well Huff Post says quite a lot, actually: I won't list all of their predictions- you can click on the above link to read the full article- but here are some of those that caught our attention: biscuits rather than bread, sous-vide cooking at home (basically a modern version of boil-in-the-bag as far as I can tell), mini dessert plates (That one's actually already around- but we like it all the same), Jerusalem artichokes, traditional French bistros and brasseries (may tie in with our holiday theory?), more meat-free dishes in non-veggie restaurants (well that makes sense because if vegan is the new vegetarian, then vegetarian is going to become de rigeur everywhere, with any luck), high-end Mexican and regional Italian; both traditional and experimental (another holiday destination link?), and chefs owning their own farms. That last one is particularly interesting as there is a general trend towards growing more of your own food anyway.
What do you think? Have you any tips for what food's hot and what's not in 2014 that you'd like to share?