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!

Three attempts at purple pasta

(Nederlandstalige versie)

I recently bought another bag of purple carrots and a few containers of purple beetroot leaves (more on those in my next market post!) and I thought I’d use them to make coloured pasta. The final dishes weren’t as brightly coloured as I’d hoped, but I did have a lot of fun making them, so today I’m sharing a few photos of the process and the end results.

Pasta dough

I started with purple tagliatelle coloured using a purple leafy vegetable called “bull’s blood”, which I stir-fried in olive oil and blended before incorporating it into the dough.

Pasta dough Purple pasta

In addition to flour, salt, and oil, I also added a bit of soya yoghurt to the dough. I’d never seen this done before, but non-vegan pasta recipes often include eggs and my favourite vegan pasta dough contains chickpea flour, so I wanted to try this as a way to add extra protein. The texture of the dough was good, but I’m not sure whether it would go with every type of sauce because the cooked pasta did have a faint yoghurt aroma.

Purple pasta Purple pasta

Whenever I’d made fresh pasta in the past, I’d have to stop halfway through to figure out where the heck I was going to leave all the pasta while I rolled out the rest of the dough. This time I decided to try hanging a laundry drying rack from my kitchen wall, and that actually worked pretty well! OK, we hardly had any room to walk and the floor was a floury mess, but at least I could finish the pasta without everything sticking together.

And now for the plates of cooked tagliatelle. I knew in advance that I didn’t want to dress the dishes up too much so that the focus would be on the pasta, both in terms of colour and flavour. Unfortunately the lack of sauce also gave the pasta the chance to get super sticky, so next time I would use more oil/and or cooking water (even though the latter looked dark grey and fairly creepy after I’d used it to boil the purple pasta).

Purple pasta with chillies Purple pasta with dill and sunflower seed pesto and peas

For the plate on the left, I just fried slices of red chilli pepper and garlic in olive oil and stirred them into the hot pasta. I think this is one of those dishes that’s incredibly simple but very easy to love, and it definitely allows the pasta to shine.

I wanted to use a little more sauce for the pasta on the right, so I made a pesto with dill, toasted sunflower seeds, lemon juice and salt, inspired by three creamy pasta dishes with dill that I’d seen on Alynda’s blog De Plantaardige Keuken. I also added some peas. Of course the sauce dulled the colour of the pasta, and the pasta was still a bit sticky, but the combination with the creamy dill sauce was lovely.

Purple gnocchi Purple gnocchi with roasted purple carrots and parsley pesto

I had purple carrots on hand and I’d made orange gnocchi before, so this time I made purple carrot gnocchi using the same recipe. Again, the dough looked great, but the colour of the cooked gnocchi wasn’t nearly as bright. They were almost more blue than purple. I mixed in roasted orange and purple carrots (which may only have made the dish look even more alien) and put some parsley pesto on top. I love gnocchi and pesto and roasted carrots, so I think this was my favourite of the three dishes.

So: would I recommend making these kinds of pasta dough? Yes, especially if you’re like me and it makes you happy to see all these bright colours in your kitchen. It’s a nice change, and it doesn’t take much more work than regular fresh pasta. The colour does limit the number of sauces you can serve with the pasta if you don’t want it to look too revolting.

Have you ever made coloured pasta? I still feel like fresh pasta takes a lot of work, but it gets easier every time and I kind of feel I should use the pasta machine more often to justify the space it takes up in my cupboard. I’d like to find a way to make the colour of the pasta even more intense — maybe by using roasted carrots for the gnocchi instead of boiled ones? But then you still have to boil the dough, and that gets rid of a lot of the colour as well. I did some googling and I found ideas for all kinds of coloured pasta with different vegetables — look at these! And these! Ahh so pretty.

Instant mashed potato gnocchi

It’s been a slow MoFo week for me—I won’t bore you with excuses but I would like to tell you about these gnocchi I made the other day. Gnocchi are one of my favourite foods and as homemade pastas go, they’re pretty easy to make (especially if you don’t mind if they’re all different shapes). While looking for tips on low-budget eating, I came across this post on North South Food with an idea to make them even easier: use instant mashed potatoes. Now, I don’t think I’d ever made instant mash before so I was a little apprehensive about this, but I admit it was convenient not to have to peel and mash the potatoes first (hate peeling things!). I’m still not sold on the flavour, though. Even incorporated into the pasta, I thought it tasted a little off—it kind of reminded me of Pringles? Though I guess if you like Pringles, that may be a good thing!

I’m also not sure that the instant mash necessarily saved me a lot of money in this dish, as I’d just bought a big bag of potatoes on sale and I think the same amount of fresh potatoes would’ve been just as inexpensive. On the other hand, if you can get instant mash on sale you can stock up and it won’t start sprouting as my potatoes inevitably end up doing. In any case, I prefer the flavour of fresh potato gnocchi, but this short-cut definitely makes it easier to make them quickly and without planning ahead.

I served the gnocchi with homemade pesto (which can be reasonably inexpensive if you grow basil in your windowsill—and it’s certainly cheaper than shop-bought pesto) and roasted tomatoes. No picture of the finished dish because when I have a plate of fresh gnocchi in front of me, I want to start eating!

… twelve jammie dodgers, and a fez

The new series of Doctor Who starts in an hour!

Bow-tiesTo celebrate, we’re having bow-tie pasta …

Jammie dodgers… jammie dodgers …

Fez?… and a FEZ.

OK, so the fez was a bit of a failure. I tried making a dark red icing by adding cocoa powder and beet juice to a plain cooked buttercream frosting, but the beet juice didn’t really seem to affect the colour at all. I kept adding more and more until the icing started to taste vaguely like vegetables, at which point I gave up and just went with the cocoa-tinted frosting. I feel like this cake really needed the red hue to bear any resemblance to an actual fez, but beet-flavoured icing probably wouldn’t have gone over very well so I’ll have to find a more effective food dye!

I thought about making these dalek cupcakes, but I didn’t know where to find the appropriate sweets and given my cake decorating skills demonstrated above they would probably have turned out looking like miniature scrap heaps instead of evil alien killing machines, so I’m kind of glad I didn’t attempt that. They look amazing though. Maybe next time.

Anyway – can’t wait for tonight’s episode! Who else is watching?

Tomato-Lentil Spaghetti

Hi everyone! It’s late and I don’t have much time (I should really write my posts in the morning…), so I’d like to show you one of my favourite easy pantry-friendly week-night meals, the Tomato Lentil Pasta Sauce from Vive le Vegan.

Tomato-Lentil PastaThe basic sauce recipe served over pasta is delicious on its own, but I always like to add whatever veggies I have lying around. In this case I just used onions, shallots, and carrots, but I really love adding eggplant, too. Best of all, this takes very little work but still tastes amazing! Okay, it does have to cook for 40 minutes, but if you use red lentils (like I did) it won’t take as long and you can use that time to do other things. The recipe suggests to serve with capers and pine nuts, but since I didn’t have any, I chose to cover my plate in nutritional yeast and olives instead. This dish is especially good served with a fresh, crisp salad! (unfortunately my lettuce had already gone a bit limp, which is why you can’t see much of it in the photo. shh)

I guess that concludes week one of VeganMoFo 2011! I’m off to bed now so I’ll catch up on other MoFo posts tomorrow :)

Pasta with Pesto, Green Beans, and Potatoes

I had originally planned to cook a dish using the Vegetarian Butcher’s chicken pieces last night, but by the time my mother and I got back from a trip to IKEA it was already pretty late and I didn’t feel like preparing anything elaborate. I decided to save the chicken pieces for a different meal and flipped through one of my cookbooks. Then this recipe caught my eye:

Tagliatelle with green beans, potatoes, and pestoThe Linguine with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen are delicious, but also super quick to prepare – you just boil the veggies and pasta in one pot while making the pesto, mix together, and serve! Just what I was looking for. It’s a simple dish, of course, but the potato added an interesting twist and it was the perfect dish to eat outside during the warm October evening we had.

I’m off to visit my cousin in a few minutes, but I’ve already done most of the prepping for my next MoFo meal. Hope you all have a lovely day!

Pesto Pasta Dinner

Just a quick post to show you the dinner I packed to eat on the train later today:

Pesto pasta & veggies

These pesto-ey mushrooms don’t look that appetising, but I promise this tastes better than it looks! The big box on the right has penne with sliced mushrooms and pesto, sautéed aubergine and courgette, sun-dried tomatoes, and some rocket tucked in at the sides. The little box has more rocket, a few tomatoes, and falafel – I wanted to include some Italian marinated tofu in this meal but I found an opened box of premade falafel in the fridge so I went with that, instead.