Stollen rolls

To anyone still reading this: Hi! It’s been a while. VeganMoFo always seems to both renew and then completely destroy my enthusiasm for blogging and if I ever want to make it through the whole month again I’ll have to get better at planning! Anyway, I’ve been doing some holiday baking and made this cinnamon roll/Christmas stollen hybrid:

Stollen roll

I love stollen but mine always come out a bit oddly shaped and some people in my family don’t appreciate the big chunk of almond paste in the middle, so sometimes I prefer to make smaller rolls instead. If you’d like to make something like this, just take your favourite cinnamon roll recipe (I like the one from Vegan Brunch) and replace part of the sugar in the filling with cubes of almond paste. Add raisins if you like them (I do) and flaked almonds if you have them (I didn’t), then bake as instructed in the recipe. I left off the glaze because I’m not a fan but I did add powdered sugar for christmassyness!

I’m spending all day cooking and baking while watching a Doctor Who marathon – maybe I’ll update again later with more Christmas treats. Happy holidays! :)

Three budget dinners

For this budget-themed Month of Food, I’ve been trying to keep track of the cost of my meals. It’s harder than I’d expected, though, especially when I cook recipes with a lot of different ingredients! Still, it’s interesting to compare recipes in terms of cost, and sometimes I’m surprised to find that certain ingredients can make a dish much more expensive than I’d thought. Below are a few meals I made this week.

Morroccan chickpeas & veggiesOn the left is a plate of the Morroccan chickpeas and zucchini from Appetite for Reduction with a few extra veggies thrown in. This type of recipe recipe is great for budget eating because you can use whatever cheap vegetables you have on hand—I made it to use up some spinach and cauliflower I still had in the freezer. The stew itself was around €0,50 per serving, and we had bread and hummus on the side.

PizzaOn the right: Pizza! I always use a mix of plain and wholemeal flour and make the dough from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen, which costs €0,35 for two large pizzas (we always make a few smaller ones). My toppings weren’t the cheapest, though, so my entire pizza was about €0,70. It was mostly the spinach that made it expensive – a big bag of it seems cheap, but when it all wilts down there’s not much of it left.

I topped the pizza with a sprinkle of the chickpea parmigiana topping from Vegan Eats World, a clever recipe that uses mainly chickpea flour, olive oil, and lemon juice. It costs around €0,35-€0,45 depending on the type of oil you use, but you’ll only use a little at a time so one batch will probably last a long time. This topping doesn’t taste very cheesy to me (mostly just salty and lemony) but it could work as a budget-friendly alternative to nut cheeses or nutritional yeast for sprinkling on top of soups and pastas. Maybe next time I’ll try to add some miso or herbs for a bit more flavour. For this pizza I added the topping just before serving, but I prefer to add it before baking.

Broccoli & potato mash with soy-tan cutlets and chickpea gravyMy boyfriend loooves potatoes, and I got 2,5 kilos of them for €1 so we made ourselves some mash. This plate has mashed potatoes & broccoli with the silky chickpea gravy from Appetite for Reduction and a soy-tan dream cutlet from 1000 Vegan Recipes. Cost: €0,55. Not bad!

Gobbler slices and homemade ciabatta

We spent some time house-sitting for my parents this summer, which was pretty great—we got to hang out with the cats and rabbits, enjoy the sun in the garden, and prepare summer meals in my parents’ kitchen. I love our kitchen in The Hague, but it’s always good to be cooking back home. I especially enjoyed trying out my parents’ bread machine, so we ate a lot of sandwiches. This one was my favourite:
Gobbler sandwich It’s a basic wheat bread from the machine’s instruction booklet with rocket, tomatoes, red onion, the gobbler slices from Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day (recipe online here), and a herb dressing from the same book. This was the first time I’d made seitan specifically to slice into sandwiches, and I really like how it turned out. It took me a while to try the recipe because I couldn’t find the instant tapioca it calls for, but I ended up using dried sago, which seems to be very similar if not the same thing. The little balls provide an extra textural element that other seitan recipe don’t have, so I’m glad I gave them a try, but if you can’t find the tapioca I’m sure the slices will still be delicious without it. The seitan recipe makes a lot and freezes well, so it’s good to keep on hand for quick sandwich making. It also seems like the kind of recipe that lends itself well to variations and substitutions, so I’d like to try it with other herbs and spices as well.
I also enlisted the help of the bread maker for my first homemade ciabatta. I’d been meaning to make this bread for a while, but knowing how sticky the dough can be I decided to let the machine do most of the work. I used the method from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen which includes a biga (pre-ferment) recipe that makes enough for several batches of ciabatta. The loaf pictured above was my second try. The first batch was good, but not as airy as I would’ve liked, so I left the dough to rise a little longer the second time. This batch was pretty much perfect, although I should have taken it out of the oven a little earlier—the top was almost burnt! This bread was much chewier and crustier than the shop-bought ciabatta I’ve had, and much cheaper as well, so I definitely want to see whether I can make it without the bread machine at home.

Speaking of inexpensive food, VeganMoFo is coming up, and I’m doing a budget theme. More on that tomorrow!

Chimichurri tempeh and beetroot risotto

Tempeh chimichurri
I’ve been finding lots of cheap fresh herbs at my local market lately. The seeds I keep planting in the pots on my windowsill don’t seem very eager to grow, so I’m glad to be able to pick up large bunches of parsley or coriander for 40 cents or less (which makes packaged herbs from supermarkets seem ridiculously expensive) and use them generously throughout the week. This tempeh chimichurri from the PPK blog was the first thing I checked off my new cooking list and it was the perfect dish to put these fresh herbs to use. I love tempeh but I often stick with a few basic recipes when I cook with it (tempeh bacon, tempeh wings, tempeh sate) so I’ve been looking for new ways to incorporate it into different cuisines. This recipe was definitely a success—fresh, flavourful, and a welcome variation on the ways I usually prepare tempeh—and I’m looking forward to making chimichurri again. My sauce did look like it would be a little too thin, so I left out some the liquid and I’m adding even mor the herbs next time.

(Also pictured above: my new mezzaluna! I was considering buying at one at a fancy kitchenware shop when I found this one second hand for only €0,50. I’m not sure that it’s actually quicker or easier to work with than a regular kitchen knife, but it is pretty fun to use.)

Beetroot risotto
This beetroot risotto was inspired by a recipe in Nadine Abensur’s The Cranks Bible. I forgot to write down what went into it, but I think I kept it pretty simple with red onion, garlic, red wine, and vegetable stock. My version ended up a little different from Nadine’s, which called for vodka (which I would love to try in risotto!) and parmesan, but it turned out lovely and I can’t wait to make it again—if only because I adore cooking with such beautiful colours. I served the risotto with a lemon-garlic cream (I used silken tofu because that’s what I had on hand, but I think something like a cashew cream or almond feta would be great here) and plenty of chopped fresh parsley.

Carrot Soup from Graasland and Naan from Vegan Eats World

Can you believe tomorrow’s the last day of VeganMoFo already? I didn’t get to write (or read) as many posts as I would’ve liked for various reasons, but I still want to post as much as I can before October’s over! I’d intended to spend my afternoon and evening making all kinds of baked goods to freeze for later: pumpkin bagels, earl grey-scented bread rolls, cranberry muffins, maybe a loaf or two of bread… so many wonderful plans. Sadly, though, my beloved little oven decided to stop working just as I wanted to begin (noooo!), so I’ve been trying to think of other ways to satisfy my need for breads and sweet treats. So far I’ve come up with waffles, pancakes, crepes, flatbreads…
Roasted Carrot Soup

Speaking of flatbreads! Pictured above is some fresh cumin seed naan served with a bowl of curried carrot soup. The naan bread is a recipe from Terry Hope Romero’s new book Vegan Eats World, which I picked up last week when I attended her book launch & cooking demo in Amsterdam! The book is full of inspiring recipes but my boyfriend and I both love naan so this bread was a  great place to start. I’ve made other naan recipes before that were pretty similar to this one, but it worked really well and I’d really like to try some of the variations as well (coriander & garlic naan!). It’s the only thing I’ve made from the book so far but the other recipes sound very promising as well so I can’t wait to try more. We had the chance to try her olive seitan after the cooking demo and I liked that a lot, so I’m planning on making that as soon as possible.

To go with the bread, I made this roasted carrot soup from Gnoe’s blog Graasland. I love roasted carrots (how I miss my oven already…) but I hadn’t tried them in a soup yet, so this was a lovely recipe to try. I did make the small change of using an Indian curry paste rather than a Thai one, which really changes the whole flavour of the soup, but it went very well with the naan bread! Oh, and I had to estimate the amount of carrots I used as my kitchen scales decided to stop working, too. I need to take better care of my kitchen!

Has anyone else gotten Vegan Eats World yet? Have you tried any recipes? I’d love to hear recommendations! Gnoe also posted pictures of the samples we got to try at the demo – olive chickpea seitan with lemony cashew sauce and banana chocolate cheesecake with a speculoos biscuit crust. Amazing.

Pancakes from BitterSweet and Kumquat Poppy Seed Scones

I’m super sleepy right now, so here’s a quick post about the delicious breakfast & scones I made today!
Blueberry PancakesI felt like having a nice leisurely weekend breakfast but I didn’t really want to make something elaborate just for myself when I had too many other things to do. I did have some blueberries I needed to use, though, so I was really happy to come across this Pancakes for One recipe on Hannah’s blog. Okay, most pancake recipes don’t really take very long to prepare, but I guess I just needed the reminder that sometimes it’s worth a little extra effort to make a meal a bit more special. In the end my boyfriend joined me for breakfast even though he didn’t have much time (who could say no to blueberry pancakes?) so I made a double batch of the recipe to share.

The following treat doesn’t technically fit in with my MoFo theme for this month as it’s not a recipe from a blog, but it is from one of Hannah’s cookbooks so I’m including it anyway:
Kumquat poppy seed sconesKumquat poppy seed scones! My parents came dropped by for a visit today and I wanted to make them something tasty they hadn’t tried before. I knew they love baked goods with poppy seeds and I’d just picked up some kumquats at the market, so these scones from Vegan Desserts were perfect! I hadn’t tried kumquats before but I knew I could rely on Hannah’s recipes to turn a new ingredient into an original and delicious treat.  I was a little worried these wouldn’t turn out as I had to replace the margarine with oil, but I don’t think it affected the texture too much (I froze the oil beforehand so it was solid – a trick I’d learned from Vegan Pie in the Sky) and these scones were absolutely lovely.

I hope everyone’s enjoying MoFo 2012 so far. The first week’s gone by so quickly!

Grilled yuca tortillas, baked falafel, and more summer meals

Grilled Yuca TortillasFor years I always skipped over the recipe for Grilled Yuca Tortillas in Veganomicon because I had never heard of yuca and I was sure that whatever it was, I had certainly never seen one at my local supermarket. This changed when I moved and started shopping at more different shops and markets, and sure enough, I’ve encountered this vegetable at a few different places now – it’s usually sold under the name cassava here – and I decided to finally give the recipe a try. Once I had picked up a package of frozen yuca pieces at Amazing Oriental, the dish was actually very easy to assemble: just boil and mash the yuca, add some sautéed vegetables and other ingredients, spread the filling onto a tortilla and grill until browned and crispy. I added roasted red peppers and black olives to the filling, both of which paired wonderfully with the creamy garlicky filling and provided a pretty colour contrast as well.

Now that I’ve tried this vegetable, I’d really like to make more dishes that feature yuca – I’d love to hear recipe recommendations if anyone has them!

These are a few other meals I’ve cooked this summer (I never got around to posting them so I figured I’d add them all to one post):

Falafel & sidesPictured above is the baked falafel from Appetite for Reduction served with flatbread, salad, garlic sauce, aubergine dip, and roasted red pepper spread. By the time I was done cooking, the meal was more about the sides than the falafel itself, which was fine by me – I love meals with loads of different salads and toppings. The bread is the 50/50 flatbread from The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet, which was very simple and perfect as a quick side dish. I made it in a few different sizes but the large crispy ones were my favourite.

Quinoa & black bean saladThis is a bowl of the quinoa & black bean salad with toasted cumin seeds (also a recipe from AFR) that I made to keep in the fridge for quick healthy lunches. I did think it could use a few extra add-ins so I topped it with roasted red pepper slices here. This would be amazing with avocado on top, as well. The salad seems to be packed with nutritious things and it’s pretty filling so it would be great as a healthy meal on the go!

Roasted red pepper soupI had a big bag of red peppers to use up (I got 16 at the market for €1!), so after using some in the spread and on my salads I roasted a few of them to make this soup. It was simple (mostly just peppers blended with a little stock) but so full of flavour and colour.

Baby quiche!Finally, I modified the broccoli quiche recipe from Vegan Brunch (which is also online here) to make these muffin-sized spinach tomato quiches. This dish is one of my favourites from the book because it’s so easy to adapt using whatever vegetables you have on hand. It’s also really good cold or at room temperature so this recipe is perfect for picnics, especially if you make it into mini quiches like I did! Just bake them in a muffin tin (you could probably even make them crustless, though I haven’t tried that) and reduce the cooking time a bit (mine were in the oven for about 20-25 minutes). I didn’t want to spend too much time making the crusts look perfect, but I kind of like the way they turned out – lots of crispy edges!

Hope everyone’s having a lovely weekend!