Cookbooks

Fruity Friday (MOFO #12) – Tea Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce

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It’s the end of the third week already, can you believe it? Some chocolate covered pears will cheer you up though right?

Today’s recipe is from Veganomicon and didn’t take any adaptations to make it gluten free. It makes a change to not have to edit a recipe that tastes this good!

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I’ve never made or tasted a poached pear before but I loved the idea as soon as I saw it on the page. The recipe uses black tea, orange zest and vanilla extract to poach the pears in and then mixes some chocolate with some of the tea mixture to pour over the top. I used Earl Grey teabags for a bit of a lighter flavour and my pears turned out beautifully soft and had a comforting tea flavour. I loved the idea of using the leftover tea to make the chocolate sauce as it gave the sauce a bit of depth.

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I added some crushed almonds to the top of my pears to give a bit of crunch and ladled the chocolate sauce over the top. I managed to eat my way through 2 pears before I could stop!

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Have you ever poached a pear?

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Categories: Cookbooks, Vegan MOFO 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stress Free Saturday (MOFO #9) – Aubergine, Potato and Pepper Stew

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We’re halfway there guys! Today is Stress Free Saturday which is the day where I share a recipe with you which does not need adapting. Today’s stew is from the Meat Free Monday Cookbook and is my all time favourite aubergine recipe!

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This book is an excellent one for both veggies and vegans alike. It’s based on the idea of eating only vegetarian food on Mondays and is broken down into seasons. The aubergine, potato and pepper stew comes under Autumn which means it’s perfect for this time of year.

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I followed the recipe exactly but left out the feta to make it vegan. Once the veg was prepped and it was simmering away I could relax for half an hour until my bowl of comfort food was ready! The stew is made with peppers, courgettes, aubergine, potatoes, butter beans and olives and is beautiful served with rice.

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What is your favourite aubergine recipe? Maybe I need to expand my repertoire!

Categories: Cookbooks, Vegan MOFO 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday (MOFO #8) – “Fronch” Toast

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We’re almost halfway through Vegan MOFO and it’s going too fast! Today I’m carrying on with my theme of making recipes from my pre-vegan days suitable for my gluten free and vegan diet.

Today is Throwback Thursday and I want to talk to you about french toast (aka eggy bread!). Before I was vegan my birthday breakfast was always eggy bread with a dollop of ketchup to dunk it in. For those of you not familiar with it, eggy bread is slightly stale bread which is soaked in an eggy mixture and then fried. It’s deliciously naughty!

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Today’s recipe comes from Vegan With A Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. This was one of my very first books when I turned vegan but since I went gluten free and started avoiding soya I’ve not used it much at all. The Fronch Toast recipe is very easy to make gluten and soy free though and makes an absolutely perfect Sunday breakfast.

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Isa recommends a baguette shaped loaf for this recipe but I used a DS Ciabatta which I cut in half. It soaked up the mixture delightfully because of the air pockets inside. Instead of soy cream I used the new Alpro rice cream which was surprisingly thick and creamy! I also replaced the soy milk with some unsweetened almond milk.

The eggs in this recipe are replaced by cornflour and chickpea flour which is a combination I would never have thought of. They worked perfectly though and created a gorgeous crispy coating. This is definitely going to be a regular in my kitchen!

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Which breakfast treats do you miss from your childhood?

Categories: Cookbooks, Other Recipes, Vegan MOFO 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Stress Free Saturday (MOFO #6) – Peas, Leeks and Spinach

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Welcome to Stress Free Saturday! My MOFO theme is adapting your pre-vegan cookbooks to match a gluten free and vegan diet. I don’t know about you but the last thing I want to do at the end of a week is spend lots of time in the kitchen trying to figure out how to veganise a recipe. This is why on Saturdays we will be doing Stress Free Saturday – recipes from non-vegan cookbooks that just happen to be vegan and gluten free!

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Most chefs love vegetables  and there are a million and one different ways to prepare them. Jamie Oliver really likes to make his veggies shine and I found a beautiful side dish in one of his early cookbooks, The Return of the Naked Chef.

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In this recipe Jamie cooks sweet peas with spinach, white wine and spring onions to make a fresh and tasty side dish. Whilst the recipe is completely vegan I did make a few changes. In mine I used leeks instead of spring onions as they were what I had on hand. I cooked the vegetables in some vegetable stock instead of wine and added a bit of dairy free margarine at the end.

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It’s nice to do something different with vegetables and this was a beautiful way of serving peas and spinach! These kind of recipes can be found in most cookbooks so it’s worth flicking through any old books you’ve had to see if there are any hidden gems.

Make sure you come back tomorrow where I will be rounding up my favourite recipes from the first week of MOFO!

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Throwback Thurday (Mofo #4) – Peanut Squash Stew

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We’re coming to the end of our first MOFO week! Hasn’t it flown by? I’ve been enjoying reading everybody’s posts. Make sure you keep an eye out on Sunday for my seven favourites!

My theme this year is making recipes from pregan cookbooks both vegan and gluten free. On Thursdays I will be sharing recipes that you will have eaten before you went vegan but with a conscientious twist!

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Delia’s how to cheat at cooking is a 2008 book aimed at the more “lazy” cook. This is a book full of frozen mashed potatoes and ready made pastry – not something I would usually be interested in! Then I thought why shouldn’t we get to make easy recipes too? The recipe I’ve chosen includes spices from jars and tinned tomatoes which makes it just that much easier to pull together.

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Delia’s West African Groundnut Stew is a spicy stew made with braising beef, onions, carrot and swede. Rather than use a meat substitute here I realised that the flavours of the chilli and allspice would go fantastically with some butternut squash and my vegan version was born!

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Peanut Squash Stew

(Inspired by Delia’s West African Groundnut Stew)

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Ingredients

250g Butternut Squash (cubed)

100g Potato (cubed)

50g Frozen Sweetcorn

1 onion (chopped)

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp allspice

3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter

150ml vegetable stock

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Method

1) Add a small amount of oil to a heavy bottomed pan and lightly fry the onions and spices for a few minutes

2) Add the squash and potatoes, stirring to coat in the spices

3) Add the tinned tomatoes, peanut butter and stock to the mixture and bring to the boil

4) Simmer for half an hour or until the vegetables have softened

5) Serve with rice and poppadoms!

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This stew was warm, comforting and peanut buttery! Exactly how comfort food should be!

Categories: Cookbooks, My Recipes, Vegan MOFO 2014 | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Make Ahead Monday (MOFO) – English Onion Soup

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My theme for this year’s Vegan MOFO is using recipes from old cookbooks that you owned before your vegan days. Therefore it’s only fitting for me to start with my first favourite book!

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Can we just take a second to appreciate how well loved this book looks? My favourite Jamie Oliver book has seen plenty of splashes! I remember making an incredibly cheesy pasta dish from this book with purple sprouting broccoli. It was one of the first meals I cooked for a group of people and I was very proud. I’d find it very difficult to part with this book which is good because there is no need! The book includes some vegan/gluten free recipes and a number which can be adapted.

For my first Make-Ahead Monday post I’ve adapted a beautiful soup which focusses on English onions and herbs and is topped with some devilish cheesy bread. It makes around 8 bowls and can be happily frozen and defrosted. This is my adaptation of English Onion Soup with Sage and Cheddar.

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At first glance this recipe is a minefield. It contains knobs of butter, gluten filled bread, gooey cheese and anchovy filled worcestershire sauce.

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There are a number of butter substitutes in the supermarkets now and Pure is one of my favourites. I started the soup of with a spoonful of their olive margarine and the onions were sizzling away in no time.

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The recipe calls for red onions, white onions, shallots and leeks. These are cooked for almost an hour so that they slowly soften and almost caramelise. I replaced the sage for tarragon as it gives a gorgeous earthy flavour which matches so well with the sweet onions.

The recipe suggests “2 litres of good quality beef, chicken or vegetable stock”. It’s easy enough to find a vegan vegetable stock cube but if you are coeliac like me then it also needs to be gluten free. My favourite brand for this is Kallo who I’ll be discussing this in tomorrow’s Tuesday Tips so remember to come back!

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Jamie then cooks his soup for 15 minutes while he prepares his cheese on toast. There are a multitude of cheese substitutes out there which would do this dish justice but I decided to go in a different direction and make some garlic bread to top my soup with. Here you can see I have used Dietary Specials (DS) white ciabattas which are my favourite go-to bread replacer. They also work really well here as they don’t fall apart in the soup.

I topped the ciabattas with a thick layer of Pure Olive spread and sprinkled powdered garlic and mixed herbs over them before putting them under the grill until browned. I then added them to the top of my bowl of soup and put them back under to finish. Don’t forget to add a liberal sprinkling of vegan worcestershire sauce for a nice spicy edge! I use Biona but there are a few different brands. I also added a sprinkling of nutritional yeast on the top for some added cheesiness.

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And here is my finished product! I put the leftovers into freezer bags and they lasted a couple of weeks. They would have lasted longer but I couldn’t resist!

For the full original recipe please look in the Jamie at Home book.

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Have you had any luck in veganising any recipes from Jamie Oliver’s books?

Categories: Cookbooks, Vegan MOFO 2014 | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

Vegan Four Seasons Pizza with a Sweet Potato Crust (GF)

 

For my birthday last year I was given a copy of the Flying Apron Cookbook by my boyfriend. I had never before heard of Flying Apron but was delighted to find out that it was a gluten free and vegan bakery which can be found in Seattle and Redmond, America. Their book includes a beautiful recipe for gluten free and vegan sweet potato bread which I have used a few times now to make loaves. This week I decided to try out the other suggestion in the book which was to use the dough to make pizza bases instead.

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All I had to decide on then were the toppings! Whenever I used to go out for pizzas I was always intrigued by the four seasons, a pizza which is divided into quarters and topped with mushrooms, pepperoni, anchovies and capers. This meaty, cheesy and gluten containing pizza is obviously not suitable for me! I decided to create a take on this classic pizza using fresh vegetables to replace the meat and as you can see, the result is a colourful and healthy alternative. It almost certainly tastes a lot better too.

Ingredients – Makes 2 pizzas

1 recipe – Flying Apron Bakery House Bread

1 tin of tomato puree

4 types of vegetable (I used tomatoes, peppers, spinach and mushrooms)

mixed herbs

garlic granules

nutritional yeast

salt and pepper

Method

1) Follow the directions in the recipe to make the dough for your pizza bases.

2) Split the dough into two halves and roll each one out to your desired thickness

3) Rub olive oil into both sides of each base and lay onto 2 baking trays.

4) Cut off the excess dough to make the bases into long rectangles (note – I used the off trimmings to make breadsticks to dip in hummus!)

5) Spread the tomato puree onto the bases and then top with your desired toppings, ensuring the layers do not overlap.

6) Sprinkle with the herbs, garlic, nutritional yeast and salt/pepper.

7) Bake at 180 for around 15-20 minutes

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Who says vegans can’t have good pizza? What are your favourite toppings?

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Superfudgy Coconut Cookie Bars

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When I first went vegan I received The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions for Christmas. It’s a very useful book with substitution ideas and recipes for all sorts of dietary requirements including Cheese, Egg, Gluten and Sugar. Back then I was only interested in eating vegan but since I gave up gluten I’ve been exploring this book again.

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This week I decided to try one of the cookie recipes and due to the over-abundance of coconut I seemed to have in my kitchen, I decided to go with these Superfudgy Coconut Cookie Bars. I won’t lie, the name persuaded me to check this recipe out!

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These cookie bars taste deliciously naughty but are full of nutritional ingredients! The bars contain coconut, pecans, flaxseed meal, orange juice and chocolate chips. The texture is rather like a coconut brownie bar, rich and satisfying. The recipe seemed overly complicated with the ingredients needing to be cooked on the hob before going into the oven but it was simpler than it looked and it was definitely worth the work!

Get your copy of The Complete Guide to Vegan Substitutions here.

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What are your go to brownie recipes?

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April Cookbook Challenge – 4 Ingredients Gluten Free Review

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For my cookbook challenge last month I was testing recipes from 4 Ingredients Gluten Free and the Meat Free Monday Cookbook. In this post I will be reviewing 4 Ingredients Gluten Free and letting you know how I got on cooking recipes from this book all month!

Introduction

The premise of this book is a good one. It is a cookbook aimed at families and people who want to create delicious gluten free meals quickly and easily. The 4 Ingredients Cookbook range is quite a wide one so it’s good to see a Gluten Free version!  The good thing about the introduction pages of this book is that they use information provided by the Australian Coeliac Society to back up their claims. This gives the book an air of authenticity which is good in a wary gluten free world!

The introduction starts by explaining exactly what gluten is and why it should be avoided in people with coeliac disease. It gives some good tips about who to contact for more in depth information whether you live in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand or the UK. There us also a useful table of foods to avoid in a gluten free diet and those safe to include. This would be a handy reference for anybody new to the diet.

A useful tool for people who live in different countries is the guide to weights and measures. I’m constantly looking up on the internet how much a cup of something should weigh but there’s no need with this quite comprehensive table! There is also a guide so that you can convert the oven temperature from fahrenheit to celsius or even gas mark. Another useful tool that makes this book good for worldwide cooks.

On to the recipes!

Breakfasts

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I think breakfast is possibly the hardest meal to try and make gluten free. There are a few good ideas in this chapter of both savoury and sweet breakfasts! I tried two recipes from the breakfast chapter. The first one I tried was Damper  which turned out to be a sweet syrupy bread. I had a lot of trouble with this recipe (as can be seen  in the link above) and can’t help but wonder if it’s too simple. From experience I know that gluten free baking usually uses a large mix of flours and starches and with just 4 ingredients I don’t think this can compete. Another point I wanted to make about this recipe is that I actually had to search online to see what “Damper” was. There is no introduction to this recipe and while I could guess what it was from the ingredients it would have been nice to have had a bit about the recipe.

The second breakfast dish I tried was the Toffee BananasThese were excellent but I probably wouldn’t serve them for breakfast due to the amount of sugar! They made a lovely dessert.

The rest of the recipes in this chapter were not vegan friendly as they relied heavily on eggs and cheese. However, for a non vegan cookbook, I think finding two breakfast recipes is an achievement!

Dips

I didn’t actually test any of the recipes from this chapter which is a shame. I think if there had been a party/buffet to cook for I would have made the Butterbean & Mustard Topper and maybe the Roast Aubergine Dip.

Salad Dressings

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I was quite impressed with this chapter as it had a huge range of different salad dressings. I tried the Orange & Mustard Dressing  which I really enjoyed. The only thing missing from this chapter is actual salad! I think it would have been good to have some suggestions of salads which would go well with each dressing.

Sauces

I didn’t try anything from this section either as nothing really caught my eye! That said, there was quite a lot of choice in this chapter for a vegan and I probably would have gotten round to trying some of it at some point. The Salsa looks particularly good.

Cocktail Food

This chapter was very heavy on the meat, fish and cheese so I didn’t try much in it. It would have been useful to have more veggie options here.

Morning & Afternoon Teas

Gluten free baking is a minefield but there are some interesting ideas in this chapter! I only tried the Pineapple Cake from this chapter and was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out as most gluten free baking recipes require a lot more effort. There was plenty in this chapter which I wanted to try including Orange Coconut Clusters and Fruit Cake.

Light Meals & Lunches – Soups

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Soup is one of my favourite foods so I gave this chapter a good try! I tried the Pumpkin, Lentil & Ginger Soup which was surprisingly good for such a simple recipe! The Tomato & Basil Soup was also a definite eye opener as it was made with just tinned tomatoes and stock. This chapter was one of my favourites in the book as it showed that you need very few ingredients to make an excellent soup!

All Others

Another chapter that I didn’t try anything from! This chapter was based on light meals and included quiches, pizzas and other nice sounding lunches. It didn’t really have much choice for vegans though!

Salads

Sadly this chapter got largely overlooked due to the amazing salad recipes in the Meat Free Monday book. These salads just didn’t grab my attention! They looked quite boring with such few ingredients. Another problem I had with them is that they couldn’t really be modified. If you didn’t have one of the ingredients you would be left with a very bare salad.

Potato 

This was a very basic chapter which would be good for beginners. I didn’t really find much in there that looked exciting! I did try the Healthy Rustic Chips which is pretty much the same as the recipe that I’m used to using anyway.

Vegetables

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A chapter full of interesting ways to cook vegetables! From this chapter I tried the Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes which can be seen above. These were a lovely way to eat cherry tomatoes and something I’ll be using again.

Mains – Meat

There are a number of chapters on meat based mains but as I didn’t use any of them I’ll just let you know what they are (in case you’re interested!). There was beef, chicken, fish & seafood, lamb and pork.

Pasta

Oddly the pasta chapter is nestled in between the meat ones. I didn’t try anything as the dishes were all meat, fish and cream based.

Vegetarian Mains

IMAG1098The photo shows the Broccoli & Lemon Risotto which was a slightly disappointing recipe as the instructions didn’t include enough water and the end dish was much too lemony.

IMAG1139The Rice Pilaf was a perfect recipe and a really nice side dish. I did note that it was not anywhere near substantial enough to eat as a main course though.

There was a good variety of dishes in this chapter and many were vegan which is good to see!

Desserts

This chapter focuses on one of the hardest types of food to make once you go gluten free.. pudding. I don’t often make desserts as they’re usually too big for just me to eat! There were some good recipes in here though including a Cheesecake Base which could come in very handy.

Children

I imagine children are very difficult to feed when they are gluten free! This chapter has all sorts of ideas for quick snacks, lunches and meals which would be very handy for the mum of a young coeliac. The lunchbox ideas are particularly good! There is also a chapter on feeding babies gluten free food.

Drinks

I’m a water drinker really so this chapter didn’t really entice me. There’s a good mixture here though!

The Finishing Touches

After the recipes there are a few useful chapters including one focussing on the different herb and oil types and what they can be used for. There’s also a chapter full of household tips which again would be useful for a new mum.

My Overall Verdict

I think this book would be perfect for families going gluten free and particularly mums. I’m not really the target market! However there were some very simple recipes that could be used time and time again and some good ideas to help me with my gluten free cooking.

There are some things I would have liked to have seen in this book. As always, photos are what draw me to cook books. There were no pictures at all in this book and they really would have helped me to get excited about what I was making. There were also no introductions to the recipes apart from vague “this is really good” type messages. I love it when an author puts some of their own experiences and tips in with a recipe. Finally I would have loved to have been able to look in the index for an ingredient and easily find the recipes that include it. This was a major flaw in my opinion because it makes the book less user friendly and made me want to reach more for the other book in the challenge.

If you’re starting a gluten free family or making changes for your coeliac son or daughter I think this book would be perfect for you. As for me, it was slightly too basic and didn’t make trying recipes fun enough.

Past Updates From 4 Ingredients Gluten Free:

  • Update 1 – Damper, Tomato Soup, Pumpkin Soup, Sweet Potato Fries, Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes, Toffee Bananas
  • Update 2 – Orange & Mustard Dressing, Broccoli & Lemon Risotto, Rice Pilaf, Pineapple Cake

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Spring/Easter Dinner Party (GF/Vegan Lasagne and Ice Cream Cake!)

In January of this year I started eating a mostly wholefoods diet and cut out all processed food. On top of this I was already vegan and gluten free. I celebrated my new diet by holding a dinner party on New Years Day for my family. You can read more about this here. Everyone enjoyed it so much that it was requested that we had another one! This was an exciting moment for me because everyone at the table were the most avid meat eaters! This time I decided to go a bit further and add a dessert to the meal. Read on for what we had!

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The Menu:

Vegan/Gluten Free Lasagne

Oven Baked Rosemary Fries

Side Salad

Raw Ice Cream Cake

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I was so impressed with this! Lasagne used to be my favourite food and I’ve been wanted to recreate it for a while. Here I used Orgran Lasagne Sheets which were really nice. I’ve never had gluten free lasagne before but it was just like the real thing. I layered them with a green lentil and tomato sauce and roasted aubergines and peppers. The cheese sauce I used was from the recipe in Veganomicon. It’s a strong tasting sauce but worked really well. To finish it off I topped the lasagne with sliced tomato and pumpkin seeds.

The side salad was just mixed greens in a vinaigrette dressing and the oven chips were made using this recipe. Here’s my plate!

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And the most amazing part of the meal? The dessert!

IMAG1104This is the Raw Layered Banana Ice Cream Cake from One Green Planet. It took a lot of work to make this the day before but it was definitely worth it! I admit though that my version is not as pretty as the original photograph on One Green Planet!

This ice cream cake contains multiple layers of banana based ice cream with no cream involved! The chocolate layer consists mostly of bananas, cocoa and a hint of chilli. It was my favourite layer to be sure! The vanilla layer was a more plain layer which was made up of cashews. I reinvented the beet layer as I don’t get on well with beetroot! I used a raspberry juice to make this layer with bananas and mixed nuts. Finally the mint layer was made of avocado and fresh mint. All this ice cream is layered on top of a date and nut base (which tasted amazing). The top is coconut oil, maple syrup, cocoa nibs and lemon zest.

All in all a very impressive dessert. People did not realise it wasn’t real ice cream!

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Do you enjoy cooking vegan food for your non vegan friends/family?

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