Chocolate fondue and biscotti

(Nederlandstalige versie)

It’s retro day! I’ve been looking forward to reading the entries for this VeganMoFo prompt, but I didn’t have a solid plan myself. I wanted to make something in my Mum’s old Wonder Pot, but we didn’t have all the parts. Then I started to look through old cookbooks, and while I found a few amusing recipes, I didn’t see anything I would actually like to eat. I thought I might skip this prompt until I saw this post by Jo from Hello Seedling: fondue! Even if I couldn’t make a full savoury fondue spread, I figured I could at least do chocolate fondue for dessert.

Chocolate fondue

Fresh berries are probably my favourite for chocolate fondue, but we had bananas and those were nice too. I also made a batch of vanilla and almond-flavoured biscotti. They were basically one of the recipes from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar with all the mix-ins left out because we’d be dipping them in chocolate anyway.

This was fun! Not too much work, not overwhelmingly sweet, and I still got a retro-ish meal into my day.

Pasta with mushroom stroganoff and broccoli

Our actual dinner was mushroom stroganoff with pasta and broccoli. Stroganoff was on my to do list, I had mushrooms I needed to use up, and I saw that Sal from Alien on Toast had posted this as her retro recipe, so it must have been meant to be. My version was somewhere in between Sal’s recipe and the one in Vegan with a Vengeance, both adapted to what I had in the fridge. My fresh pasta skills still need improving, but I loved the stroganoff!

Links of the day

– Hannah from House Vegan wrote about malt shop hamburgers, milkshakes, and her love of the 1950s.
– I’ve never had a prawn cocktail, but Amy/nos.da made one with Fry’s prawns that actually sounds good! Emil from Hasta La Vegan took it one step further and made prawn cocktail waffles.
Sandwich cake!

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Plum jam and oat thumbprint cookies

Thumbprint cookies
A while ago, I got to taste a few organic plums from my parents’ veg box and then some more from a neighbour’s tree, and I think they may have spoiled me because the plums I bought at the market just didn’t taste very good on their own. I wasn’t too disappointed, though—home-made jam was on my food resolutions list and I figured this was the time to try it! I have no experience with preserving and canning, but I just cooked the fruit with a few tablespoons of sugar and a little lemon juice until it reduced, thickened, and turned a beautiful dark red. The jam is a little tart and just sweet enough, and I’ve really been enjoying it on top of my porridge in the morning.

I know budget eating strictly doesn’t allow for many treats, but I just love baking every now and then and I couldn’t resist using this jam to make a batch of thumbprint cookies. They had rolled oats and brown sugar and cinnamon and I think they’re only about 3 cents per cookie, so that’s not too bad! The jam itself cost around 65 cents for about a jar’s worth, which makes it a little cheaper than supermarket jam and it’s a lot more delicious, in my opinion. I only made a small amount so I didn’t use special jars or bother with boiling and sterilising, but maybe someday I’ll learn about those things as well. For now, I’ll definitely be making more small batches of fruit jam when I find good deals at the market!

Plums

Edit: Because someone asked in the comments (thanks koreanmutt!), I’ve added the recipe for the cookies below. Now, I don’t have an oven thermometer (I know. I know! but I’ve known my oven for a very long time and I feel like we’ve developed an understanding) and ovens run differently so the baking time of these may vary—I’d check on them after ten minutes to see how they’re doing and take them out when they’re starting to brown at the edges.

I adapted the recipe from the PPK’s chocolate chip cookies. Those are my go-to American-style cookies, but I kept making little changes when I wanted something different and ended up with these. I just looked at some other recipes and noticed most people add the jam after baking rather than before, so maybe I’ll try that next time, but I kind of like how the jam melted into the dough here.

Plum jam and oat thumbprint cookies (makes 10-12) (Nederlandse versie)
25 g (2 tablespoons) brown sugar
12 g (1 tablespoon) white sugar
60 ml (1/4 cup) sunflower oil
15 ml (1 tablespoon) water (or soya milk if you have it) plus a little more if needed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (you can omit these for budgeting purposes!)
50 g (1/2 cup) rolled oats
65 g (1/2 cup) plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground nutmeg and cloves
a few tablespoons of jam

Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius (350° Fahrenheit) and line an oven tray with baking parchment.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the sugars, oil, water, and extracts until more or less emulsified. Add the dry ingredients (not the jam!) and stir to combine. The dough should be pretty thick but not dry; add an additional tablespoon or so of water or soya milk if necessary. Now drop tablespoon-sized balls of dough on the baking sheet (I use a measuring spoon to scoop and shape them) and use your finger or the back of a teaspoon to make little indents in the middle of each cookie. Then fill the wells with jam—a generous teaspoon each.

Bake for about 12 minutes until the edges start to brown and let cool on the baking tray for at least a few minutes before serving.

Cowboy Cookies

Cowboy Cookies

These are probably my favourite cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I’ve made them several times already, but somehow I’d never posted a picture until now. I adore them, and even though I’d love to try new recipes from VCIYCJ, I keep turning back to the Cowboy Cookies! They’re packed with oats, coconut, chocolate, and pecans, and that makes them an awesome decadent snack that somehow still feels kind of wholesome. I took the cookies to a family gathering once and they got excellent reviews, so I’m definitely going to keep baking these tasty little treats!

London: Vx – an all vegan shop!

Vx Storefront

After our delicious lunch at the Gallery Cafe, we filled our afternoon with sight seeing and shopping at fun shops, including Vx (pronounced v-cross), a completely vegan store in King’s Cross! Vx is the home of the Secret Society of Vegans, so the store carries all of their clothing and accessories, but they sell lots of other awesome products as well. I really wanted to check out this place because it’s just so much fun to shop at a store completely packed with vegan goodies!

Vx!

They sell everything from shoes to cupcakes and I was especially excited to try some of the vegan baked good and other treats. Here’s a little list of what I got:

A cupcake by Ms Cupcake: I think the one I got was a Triple Chocolate Cupcake, but whatever it was, it was perfect! I took it with me in a little box so it got a bit squashed on the way to the B&B and I couldn’t get a pretty picture of it. Definitely have a look at Ms Cupcake’s website, though, because there are some gorgeous pictures over there! I’d love to try more of her cupcakes if I ever get the chance.

An SSOV hoodie and mug: The hoodie is super warm and soft and comfy! Thankfully the weather currently isn’t so cold that I need such a warm sweater, but I’m sure going to be glad to have it when winter comes around. Plus I love buying my clothing from vegan companies, so that is great as well. The mug is a bit silly but I couldn’t resist. Ha.

Treats!

Mexican-style Creamy Sheese: Sheese is a brand of vegan cheese that I’ve been looking forward to trying. Vx only had one of their products, which was this Mexican-spiced cream cheese. I only tried it once so far (on a slice of bread), and I thought it was tasty but not super impressive. It’s good, but I guess I really wanted to try something new, and apart from the spices, this didn’t seem to be all that different from the Tofutti cream cheese I usually get over here. I would really like to try the solid blocks of Sheese someday, because those look really interesting and different from vegan cheeses available over here. I still have most of the tub of Creamy Sheese to finish, though. I’m just not sure how to serve it. Just spread on a bagel with veggies and avocado maybe? Any suggestions?

Organica Vegan Hazelnut Nougat & Dark Chocolate bar: Yum! The bar was tasty, but nothing outstanding so I probably wouldn’t buy it very often even if I had access to it.

Trios Fudge Filled Chocolate Sandwich Cookies: Score! At least, I expect I’ll love these – I haven’t opened the package yet! I’m thinking I could make some of those enticing Oreo Cupcakes with them… that would be amazing. I just haven’t tried one yet because I’m afraid I won’t be able to eat them all before they go bad, and that would be a terrible waste! So I’m just going to hang on to these and hopefully I’ll be able to make something delicious with them someday.

A Whole Earth Sparkling Elderflower Drink: Woooh! Remember how I said I love the Whole Earth drink we had at Rootmaster and the Elderberry drink I had at the Gallery Cafe? (I know you don’t, but bear with me here) Well, combine the two and you get this! It’s a delicious elderflower softdrink sweetened with agave AND I recently found out can get this near my home, too! Excellent.

I think that’s all I bought at Vx – all such lovely vegan products! And because they were so packed with goodies, I kind of wish I could’ve tried even more. For instance, I saw these huge (and I mean huge) cookies that looked delicious and they had a few types of vegan ice cream, too, but we just weren’t able to buy (and eat) all of those at the same time. I’m really happy I got to try out all these wonderful treats, though!

VeganMoFo 9: Grape juice, spaghetti & meatless balls, and cookies!

ladybird

Today’s post is pretty much a random compilation of food pictures. Then again, most of my posts are, so you’re probably used to that by now. I promise I will post something more coherent again soon!

My parents grow grapes in their garden, and they are delicious this year. There are so many of them, too. I don’t think I remember us ever having so many grapes! They had to remove one of the vines, though, so next year’s harvest will probably be smaller.

Although they were perfect on their own, there were just too many to eat. To solve that problem, my mother turned the remaining grapes into grape juice today. Two kinds!

red grape juice

white grape juice

Actually, she made different kinds of white grape juice, but I only got a picture of one.

The juice is so good! The white grape variety is my favourite. I think it has a slight bitterness in it from the skin, and that makes it extra tasty.

Remember when I posted about the BBQ balls? Well, today, I made the recipe again with a couple of changes so I could have the balls over  my pasta.

Spaghetti with meatless balls

I replaced both the applesauce and the barbecue sauce with a simple tomato sauce, and I made a few other changes because I didn’t have all ingredients around. I also added some Italian herbs and some sautéed garlic (to replace the garlic powder). The BBQ version on a sandwich was better, but these balls were definitely quite tasty as well. I added kalamata olives and rocket to my plate, yum! I wanted to arrange the rocket leaves in a pretty circle around the pasta, but the wind blew a few of them off my plate. Oh well. I tried.

One more thing and then I’m done:

Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles, recipe from the PPK blog. These are delicious! They are probably a little different from what they’re supposed to be, as I had to substitute baking powder for the baking soda. Still, I think these cookies turned out pretty good this way as well.  I had stocked up on baking soda when I found it on holiday a few years ago, but that supply has long run out and I should really get myself a few new bags of this stuff!

I probably should have halved the snickerdoodle recipe, as I had to bake it in two batches and I still couldn’t fit all the dough on my cookie sheets, but then again I’m glad I didn’t halve it because now I have a huge batch of delicious cookies. And I got to make one big mutant cookie by putting all the leftover blobs of dough on top of one of the cookies so that one’s probably all soft and gooey inside, mmm.

Okay that’s really all I have for this post. Have a nice Friday!

Edit: I can’t count and made two “VeganMoFo 8” posts :/ oops.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/kippelina/3996077930/&#8221; title=”ladybird by Bonnie &lt;3, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2483/3996077930_b8101daf47.jpg&#8221; width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”ladybird” /></a>

VeganMoFo 6: Speculaas Spice Mix

I have a couple of MoFo posts planned that involve speculaas-flavoured desserts and while speculaas cookies and speculaas spice mix are widely available in the Netherlands, I realise that this is not the case for every country. Therefore, I’d like to dedicate a little post to the spice mix alone.

This is the spice mix I usually buy (Verstegen):

Verstegen speculaas spices

I thought a quick google search would provide me with the recipe for a standard speculaas spice mix, but I soon realised there is no such thing! Every mixture I found was a little different from the others. I decided I’d just go with a combination that seemed tasty to me, and with the help of the ingredient list of the Verstegen mix and a wikipedia article, I came up with this:

Speculaas Spice Mix
1 1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

It took a few tries before I liked the combination, because I added a little too much white pepper at first, but this is a basic mix that works well in speculaas-flavoured things. I’m sure it could be better with some more changes, though, so if anyone has a favourite speculaas mix that they’d like to share, I’d love to know!

I used the mix to make these cookies:

Speculaas rabbits

Sorry for the crappy pictures, but it’s dark and rainy over here! and cold. Maybe I can get a better shot of the cookies later (if they’re not gone by tomorrow)…

The recipe is based on the one you can see on the Verstegen label above. If you’d like a downsized and slightly edited version, here’s what I did:

In a bowl, add 6 Tablespoons of margarine, 5 Tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, a small pinch of salt, and 2 Tablespoons of speculaas spices. Mix all this together and knead into a (slightly crumbly) dough. [Edit! I misread the original recipe] Now, you can add 1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons of non-dairy milk, until your dough reaches the consistency that you’re looking for.

And of course, there are many more uses for speculaas spices than just simple (but delicious) cookies. More about that in future posts!

VeganMoFo 2: BBQ Balls and Cookie Sandwiches

BBQ balls!

Barbecue balls. This recipe from Have Cake, Will Travel combines two things that my boyfriend loves: vegan foods that resemble meat and foods that are smothered in some kind of sauce. In addition to that, they seemed very easy to make, and Celine’s recipes never seem to disappoint. Needless to say, I had to make these! I was amazed at how delicious they came out using such basic ingredients – I had everything on hand. Well, except the garlic powder, actually, but they tasted fine without it. I also had to substituted regular breadcrumbs for the panko (I’m not sure how much of a difference that would make). I’ll try and get both of those ingredients and make the balls as they were intended sometime. In the meantime, these came out great as well! I love the recipe and I’m definitely going to use it again.

BBQ ball sandwich

Following Celine’s suggestion, I served the meatless balls in a sandwich of ciabatta with BBQ sauce and yellow bell pepper (raw, I was too lazy to roast one).

I used the Backyard BBQ sauce from Veganomicon to coat the balls:

 BBQ Sauce

Perfect! For some reason, I hardly ever make this recipe. It can’t be because it’s difficult to make – it was surprisingly simple. I think I always decide not to make it because the recipe asks for liquid smoke and I don’t have that. However, I just left it out this time and replaced the plain sea salt with smoked salt, instead. It was delicious with the smoked salt, and I’m sure this sauce would still be great without any of the added smokiness. I’ll still keep looking for liquid smoke, though.

Oh, and here’s another one of Celine’s recipes I made recently: the Rosewater Sablés recipe. Only they’re not rosewater sablés anymore, because I replaced the rosewater with vanilla and almond extract. Then I decided to turn them into cookie sandwiches!

 Tea with cookie sandwiches

Mmm, delicious. Using cookie cutters is a little more time-consuming than simply rolling the dough into little circles, but it’s a lot more fun as well. If I ever get my hands on some rosewater, I’d love to try the original version of the cookies.

Even though the cookies were good on their own, I really felt like making them into sandwiches. This was my first time making cookies sandwiches and I made them in two different flavours, using these as fillings:

 Speculoos & Chocolate spreads

Speculoos & chocolate spread! Oh my goodness these spreads are way too tasty. Once you have one speculoos sandwich, it’s hard to stop eating! They were really convenient to use for the cookies, because they make a delicious filling all on their own and I can get both these jars at my local supermarket (coopcompact, in case you were wondering). I don’t really let myself buy these on a regular basis, though, because they’re way too addictive!