Homegrown hazelnuts and raspberries (tartlets and biscuits)

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Over the years, my parents have grown a variety of beautiful fruits in their garden. Some of my favourites have been pears, plums, and strawberries, and currently they’re harvesting raspberries and hazelnuts. The only things I’ve managed to harvest from my own attempts at apartment gardening so far have been a handful of tiny tiny tomatoes and two peas, so I’m always excited by other people’s ability to grow food (especially if they’re willing to share).

Raspberries Hazelnuts

My mother knows how much I love edible gifts, so last month she bought me a little box of raspberries. They were so good I could’ve eaten them all straight away, but I wanted to save some to pair them with the hazelnuts: a homegrown dessert! (With a few ingredients from my kitchen cupboards.)

Hazelnut and raspberry tartlets

I baked these tartlets using this baking tin that my Grandma gave me. The tin is a little too shallow for muffins, but it’s perfect for little tarts that you can eat in one or two bites. The crusts consisted mostly of ground hazelnuts, flour, sugar, and cocoa, and the filling was a hazelnut milk custard with raspberries on top. The cocoa flavour in the crust wasn’t very strong (I’d meant to garnish them with grated chocolate) but hazelnut and raspberry turned out to be an excellent combination.

Because the hazelnuts were so fresh, they seemed to require a slightly longer baking time than usual: I roasted them at 175 °C (350 °F) for 30 minutes and they came out deliciously crispy and full of flavour. As a result, we (I) ended up eating a lot of them straight from the oven, but I also saved enough to use in salads, pestos, and desserts. The biscuits below were inspired by posts from Amey over at Vegan Eats and Treats!, who happened to post two hazelnut cookie recipes during the Vegan Month of Food.

Baci di dama Hazelnut biscuits

I made quite a few changes to both recipes with varying degrees of success (as the pictures illustrate) so this isn’t intended as a critical review of the recipes I link to. I just wanted to share my pictures and experiences, because the biscuits were a good way to showcase these beautiful hazelnuts!

On the left are baci di dama (“lady’s kisses”) which I based on David Lebovitz’ recipe after reading Amey’s post. I didn’t have a food processor so I ground the hazelnuts in a coffee grinder, and I didn’t have rice flour so I used plain wheat flour instead. I also halved the recipe and used sunflower oil instead of butter or margarine. My dough was too crumbly to be rolled into ropes, so I used a measuring spoon to place teaspoon-sized scoops on the baking sheet and that worked quite well. Mine definitely weren’t as pretty as David’s or as adorable as Amey’s, and they kept rolling over when I tried to fill them with chocolate, but it was all worth it because they are seriously delicious. The recipe yields 45 cookies which may seem like a lot, but they have a tendency to disappear very quickly once have a bowl of them in front of you.

On the right is my attempt at brutti ma buoni, another Italian hazelnut biscuit. This time I really made one too many changes — though I’m not sure which was the fatal one. Again, I used the coffee grinder to grind the hazelnuts (along with the flax seeds). I may have added too much sugar because the biscuits were super sweet. The main problem was that my biscuits spread out in the oven, turning into thin disks with crispy edges and chewy centres — not bad, but not what I was going for. They were also a little greasy, so I think I ground the hazelnuts just a little too long. The flavour reminded me of nougat. I’d like to try them again using a food processor to get them right, but they did live up to their name: ugly but good.

The end of VeganMoFo 2014 and another market log

(Nederlandstalige versie)

The Vegan Month of Food is almost over! I managed to post every weekday for the first two weeks, my planned schedule kind of went out the window during the final weeks, but this is my twentieth post so at least I achieved my goal. There are still plenty of things I didn’t get to (for example, I made multiple attempts to recreate the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans from Harry Potter but so far without success), but at least that leaves me with enough things to write about for the rest of the year.

Here’s another little market diary with the vegetables I bought earlier this month:

Market day 15 September

This is what I bought: A bunch of fresh coriander for €0.40; 2 bunches of spring onions for €1; 2 bunches of radishes for €1; 3 ears of corn for €1; 10 red, yellow, and green peppers for €1; 8 aubergines for €1; 13 apples for €1; 1 butternut squash for €1; 4 pomegranates for €1; 1 kilo of plums for €1.

And this is how we ate it: a spicy pumpkin soup with corn and spring onion; dumpling soup with radishes and plum chutney; chili with peppers and corn; quinoa salad with aubergine, tofu, and pomegranate; roasted aubergine salad with spring onion, hazelnuts, and pomegranate; romesco spread; red pepper burgers; oatmeal porridge with apples; radish leaf pesto; naan with spring onions and nigella; and probably more things that I’m forgetting right now.

Radishes

I baked this thing and it really was good but I have no idea what to call it. The base is a kind of savoury cake (?) of silken tofu and polenta with radish leaf pesto and spring onions mixed in and halved radishes on top. I almost added a crust underneath just so I could call it a quiche or tart, but instead I just ignored its namelessness and ate it anyway.

Roasted red pepper burger Roasted aubergine salad

I roasted the rest of the aubergines and red peppers. The aubergine went into a kind of salad with hazelnuts and spring onions (on the right) — roasted aubergine doesn’t look very appetising so I just sprinkled a lot of pomegranate on top. On the left is a veggie burger made with chickpeas and soy mince and roasted red pepper on a slice of bread with mayo and radishes (the only vegetable I had left). The burgers were pretty good but they could be better so I’m sure I’ll make them again.

That was VeganMoFo for this year! I hope everyone who participated is happy with how the month went. I’m a little behind on reading and commenting on other blogs but I hope to catch up as soon as possible. :)

Oh, and did you see this treasure hunt at the VeganMoFo HQ? I’m not in the US so I’m not entering for the prize but it’s fun to see how many items from the list you can find!

Cooking resolutions update, part 2

(Nederlandstalige versie)

This is the second part of my list of short updates on the cooking resolutions I posted last year. I posted the first part last week.

23: Rice paper rolls
I’ve been eating these pretty often since I first bought a bag of rice paper. It’s my favourite meal for hot days when I don’t want to do any cooking other than chopping vegetables. My favourite fillings up until now have been crunchy fresh vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, radishes, courgettes, peppers, cabbage, things like that), fresh herbs, baked or pan-fried tofu, and avocado with peanut sauce and sriracha on the side.

25: Martine‘s Roti
I posted about this last year.

26: Cashew mozzarella
Cashew mozzarella caprese

I had fun just making these: you use an ice cream scoop to form balls of mozzarella and then they firm up in a bowl of ice water. I used this recipe from Miyoko Schinner which consists mostly of cashews and soy yoghurt. My mozzarella had a very mild flavour, but my experience with fermented cheeses is still limited — I had trouble determining how long the mixture should sit before it was “ready”.

27: Chimichurri something
I wrote about Isa’s tempeh chimichurri here. Since then, I’ve also made the sauce to go with tofu and several kinds of vegetables. I’m glad coriander and parsley are so cheap at the market.

28: Romesco
I made the romesco from Isa Does It earlier this month. That recipe was a spread and not a sauce, but I say it counts. I’m going to try it in sauce form, too.

30: Seitan slices
I made the Gobbler Slices from Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day; more details here.

34: Yoghurt
I’ve made yoghurt three times now: once using a thermos, once using glass jars inside an insulated bag and once using the yoghurt maker I found at a car boot sale. Each time, I just mixed warm soy milk with a bit of ready made yoghurt and left it overnight. It worked okay, but I still need to try out a few recipes to get the texture right.

35: Jam
Last year, I made jam to bake cookies with (see this post).

37: Carrot cake
I crossed this one off the list on the first day of this year’s VeganMoFo!

38: Tiramisù
Tiramisu
When I made my food resolutions I had been making mini versions of tiramisù, like parfaits or cupcakes, but I’d never made a full dish of the stuff. The one pictured above was a version of the wonderful recipe from Seitan is my Motor (I had to make a different cake because I was out of chickpea flour) that I made for Christmas last year. (I tried to “artistically strew” some ingredients across the table for this. Food styling is hard.) I love this recipe and I’ve also made a wonderful version with chocolate biscotti, but I don’t have a photo of that one — I think that means I’ll just have to make it again?

39: Flourless chocolate cake
I tried a recipe and then accidentally left out one of the ingredients, so the end result wasn’t the best. I’d like to make another one and follow the recipe more closely.

42: Coconut cream pie
Coconut cream pie
I made this for my boyfriend’s birthday last year because he also loves non-vegan cream pie and sure enough, we both really enjoyed this one. The recipe is from Vegan Pie in the Sky.

44: Clafoutis
I don’t want to cross this one off yet because my first try was just pathetic. It doesn’t help that I’m actually not really sure what clafoutis is supposed to taste like. I read somewhere that it’s like a big oven-baked pancake, so I made a beautiful pancake batter, poured it into an oven dish, covered it with fruit and put it in the oven. Or so I thought. I use  a combination microwave oven that had somehow switched to the microwave setting, so my clafoutis ended up barely edible. My boyfriend did say he liked it but I’m pretty sure he just felt sorry for me. I think I’ll have to look up a fool-proof vegan recipe before I try again. :)

49. Miyoko’s flax seed foam
It turns out flax seed is even more magical than I already suspected. If you boil it, it releases a kind of gel that you can whip and use in the same applications as the whites from chickens’ eggs. Of course flax and eggs have slightly different properties and the link above only shows the beginning of the possibilities, but I’d like to do more experimenting with this concept. So far I’ve made the basic recipe and used it to make a kind of lemon dessert with strawberries.

Lemon cakes and half a strawberry pie (A game of thrones)

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Lemon cakes Half a strawberry pie

Jeyne yawned. “Are there any lemon cakes?”
Sansa did not like being interrupted, but she had to admit, lemon cakes sounded more interesting than most of what had gone on in the throne room. “Let’s see,” she said.
The kitchen yielded no lemon cakes, but they did find half of a cold strawberry pie, and that was almost as good. They ate it on the tower steps, giggling and gossiping and sharing secrets, and Sansa went to bed that night feeling almost as wicked as Arya.

- George R.R. Martin, A game of thrones

This is my third post inspired by Game of Thrones and probably the last one for this month. There are still many foods from the series I’d like to try, though, so maybe I’ll return to this theme after VeganMoFo!

Lemon cakes are probably one of the first things you’ll encounter if you look for recipes from Game of Thrones. Mine were mostly based on these cakes shown in the TV series. Those looked smaller than regular cupcakes, so I made a flat cake and used a scone cutter to cut out little rounds. This method allows you to sneak bites of both the batter and the cake and I like to think Sansa would approve of that. The cake recipe was more or less the Lemony French Cake from Have Cake Will Travel, one of my favourites which I think everyone should try. The topping is a glaze with cashews and lemons but in hindsight I think lemon curd would’ve been better (can anyone recommend a vegan recipe?).

For the pie, I adapted the recipe for Strawberry Hand Pies from Vegan Pie in the Sky using whole wheat flour and oil instead of margarine. Delicious! Almost as good as lemon cakes.

My favourite kitchen tools

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Kitchen things

Earlier this week, both Julie (from My Apologies for the Novel) and Rosie (Rosie’s Vegan Kitchen) nominated me for a Liebster award. The idea of the award is that you answer 10 questions and think of 10 new questions for the people you nominate yourself. I tend to be terrible at these kinds of question tags (too indecisive?), but I do like the questions they came up with. One of Julie’s questions was about your favourite kitchen tool/utensil, and I thought I’d dedicate an entire post to that. These are some of my favourites that I use almost every day:

1. Knife and cutting board: These are often mentioned as the two essential items for every kitchen and I feel the same way. I have a medium-sized knife from Ikea and I think it’s just right. I use a hand-held sharpener regularly so the knife is always sharp when I need it. My Mum gave me the bamboo cutting board and I really love it – it’s a good size and it’s easy to clean.

2. Stick blender: I think I overwork my stick blenders a bit because I’ve already gone through several since living on my own, but they’re so convenient! I use mine for soups and sauces but also for thicker things like pesto and smoothies and spreads – in that case, I do try to make sure that the ingredients are small enough and that there’s enough liquid.

3. Sturdy wooden spoon: Should I call this a spatula or a spoon? In any case, I use it for stirring. When I make bread, I always try to stir the dough for as long as possible before I start kneading. This seems to help to make the dough reasonably firm so it doesn’t stick to your hands as much. This method does require a very strong spoon. This beautiful olive-wood spatula was given to me by a friend when she returned from a holiday on Samos and I use it a few times a week.

4. Thin spatula: I like to use plastic spatulas because all my frying pans have surfaces that would get damaged by metal (non-stick coatings and enamelled cast iron). This one (also from Ikea) is thin and flexible, so it’s perfect for flipping pancakes and burgers (which otherwise have a tendency to fall apart on me). If I could only have one spatula, it would be this one.

5. Empty applesauce jars: My kitchen is full of these glass jars that I rinse and reuse again and again. Why applesauce jars? Well, a thick layer of applesauce used to be the only thing that would get my boyfriend to eat his vegetables. Nowadays we don’t eat it as often, but we’ve still gone through quite a few jars over the years. I also like that they’re easy to clean and they’re a good size for things like dried pasta, legumes, grains – anything, really. I have larger jars with hinged lids to store certain specific ingredients (like big bags of rice), but I like reusing applesauce jars as a cheap alternative.

6. Wooden countertop: This is actually a separate wooden board that I lay down or remove depending on how much space I need. My parents gave it to me after using the same wood for their own kitchen and I use it almost every day. I usually put it on top of the washing machine so it functions as an extra working surface. My other counters are metal and hard to clean properly, so I prefer this board for things like kneading and rolling out dough (and for taking pictures!).

Quinoa salad with za’atar tofu and aubergine

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Quinoa salad

I’ve finally found beautiful cheap pomegranates at the market again! I’d wanted to make a quinoa salad with pomegranate and za’atar for a while, and I was reminded of that by this quick and delicious-looking za’atar lentil salad that Martine from Vegetus posted last week. The salad pictured above takes a bit more time to make, but it does make a big bowl that lasts for days.

I’m trying to post more recipes this month because they’re a more effective way of explaining how I made something than just posting a long description, but it does bring challenges of its own. If I’m going to post a recipe, I kind of want to tell you about all the variations you could make in case you don’t like certain ingredients or if you’re short on time or don’t want to create too many dirty dishes – but too many sidenotes just make a dish seem unnecessarily complicated. I’ve made an attempt at a concise recipe below but you know, make whatever changes you want — salads are hard to mess up.

I didn’t add the onion until after I’d taken the photo but it was a real improvement, so I did include it in the recipe. I used a lot of coriander and parsley leaves because I needed to use them up, but I think rocket/arugula would be really good as well. I that case, you can definitely add more than a cup.

Quinoa salad with za’atar tofu and aubergine

Ingredients:

1 cup dry quinoa (or 3 cups cooked)
2 cups water

1 450 g (1 pound) block tofu
olive oil for pan-frying
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons za’atar (or 2 teaspoons sumac, 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon thyme and 1 teaspoon oregano)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 aubergine/eggplant (or 2-3 smaller ones), in 1/2-cm (1/4-inch) slices
olive oil for pan-frying
a pinch of salt
smoked paprika (optional)

1 cup herbs and/or rocket/arugula and/or other greens (I used parsley and coriander leaves)
1 cup pomegranate arils (that’s about one pomegranate)
1 red onion, halved and sliced
salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice for the dressing

1. First, prepare the quinoa. Rinse it in a sieve under cold water. Drain well, and place the quinoa and the 2 cups water in a pot with a lid. Bring the water to the boil. turn down the heat, and let the quinoa cook for about 15 minutes until the water has been absorbed. Take the pot off the heat and let it rest for a few minutes with the lid on. Stir the quinoa to loosen it up and leave to cool.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the tofu. I’m a big fan of this method from Olives for Dinner. First slice the block of tofu in half lengthwise and then cut each slice into six rectangles — they should be just the right size to fit into a frying pan. Coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of olive oil and add the tofu. Cover the pan with a lid, and place over medium-high heat. The tofu will start to sizzle and sputter and that’s supposed to happen! Let it cook until the bottoms are nicely browned (depending on your preference; check after a few minutes), flip the pieces, and put the lid back on. Repeat these steps until at least some of the sides are crispy and bronwed.

3. If you have enough pans (if you don’t, skip to the next paragraph), you can fry the aubergine/eggplant at the same time. I used a grill pan, but a regular frying pan works too. Heat a bit of olive oil in the pan and fry the slices on both sides with a pinch of salt. If you want to make sure that the slices are soft, add a splash of white wine or water near the end of the cooking time to steam the slices a little. Once all the slices are cooked, you can add them back to the pan and sprinkle them with a few pinches of smoked paprika, then stir to coat.

I recently learned (also from Martine’s site!) that you can cook aubergines in the microwave as well: place the slices in a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, cover the bowl and steam them for about 7 minutes on high power.

Leave the cooked slices of aubergine to cool a little before adding them to the salad.

4. The tofu should be ready by now. (I know, this is kind of a lot of work for a salad, but we’re almost there.) Sprinkle the pieces with the lemon juice, take the pan off the heat, and add the za’atar and salt as well. Stir to coat the tofu, but don’t worry if not everything sticks; you can just mix it into the salad. If you don’t mind eating the salad with a fork and knife, you can leave the tofu pieces as is; you can also slice them into smaller pieces like I did.

5. Finally, take a big bowl and mix everything together: the quinoa, the tofu, the aubergine, the herbs/rocket/other leaves, the pomegranate arils, and the onion. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste and store in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.

Cooking resolutions update, part 1

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Last year on my birthday, I posted a list of foods I had never made that I wanted to try my hand at. I haven’t crossed off all the items — mostly because I never seem to have the right ingredients and the required equipment on hand at the same time — but I’ve tried enough to post a few short updates.

2: Ciabatta
I made this last summer following a recipe by
Bryanna Clark Grogan. I still have to try it again without a bread machine.

3: Baguettes
I’ve tried a few recipes, but none have turned out as crusty as I’d like. I’m going to look for more.

4: Croissants
Croissants
I’ve made a few attempts using several croissant recipes but I still have to get the hang of them. The photo above shows my second attempt: pretty good, but I used a little too much flour while folding the dough so that the resulting croissants weren’t soft enough. Hopefully I’ll be able to post an update soon!

8: Calzone
I have to make these more often. We make pizza a lot but our oven is very small, so folding the dough in two seems like the clever thing to do. The most recent calzone I made were filled with aubergine, courgette, red pepper, onion, and pesto with a tomato dipping sauce on the side.

9: Samosas
I’ve tried a few recipes so far, but I haven’t found a real favourite yet. I’ve used this recipe as a guide a few times (especially the step-by-step pictures for the folding process!) and I’ve made both fried and baked versions.

12: Sushi that I like
I included this on the list because I used to dislike nori, but I’m OK with it now. Earlier this month I also posted about sushi without nori.

14: Beetroot risotto
Love it. I blogged about it here and here.

15: Tortellini
Roasted carrot tortellini

I made these over a year ago so I’ve almost forgotten how frustrating it is to fill and boiling all those little pockets without having the contents leak out. Fortunately, they were also very delicious. The filling consisted of pureed roasted carrots, onion, and cashews and the sauce was a fresh coriander pesto.

16: Vegetable stock
I posted about this during last year’s MoFo, but I still mostly use stock cubes. I’d like to make it more frequently.

19: Aubergine bacon etc
I made Isa’s eggplant bacon once to go into a salad, but there are still so many other types of vegan bacon to try! Next time I have liquid smoke on hand I’d like to try coconut bacon.

20: Something with jackfruit
I found jackfruit in a can at the Amazing Oriental supermarket and more or less followed the recipe for the Jackfruit Carnitas from Vegan Eats World. We had it in wraps with fresh coriander and the pickled red onions from Viva Vegan!. Despite its hearty flavour in this recipe, the jackfruit isn’t very filling on it’s own, so I made the refried beans from Appetite for Reduction to go with it for extra protein. I haven’t cooked with jackfruit since then but I think I’ll pick it up again if it’s on sale.

Jackfruit! Stuffed artichoke

21: Stuffed artichokes
I was really looking forward to these because I love artichokes and I don’t buy them very often, but I was a little disappointed. I used a simple recipe for the stuffing that mostly consisted of breadcrumbs and herbs, so maybe I’ll try again with more exciting ingredients and young artichokes. For now, I’m sticking to unstuffed artichokes — they’re less work and at least as delicious.