Friday, December 30, 2011

Fruit of the Month: Cherries!

Who doesn't love cherries?? (My sister, apparently. Crazy!) I have been eating cherries like they were air this season. I have been buying cherries for $7.99/kg at my fruit shop for a couple of weeks now - they are the reject cherries marked down because no one would buy them at the normal price (15 or so dollars/kg) but I think they are still good, especially used in what I've been using them in!

Cherries are apparently an aid to sufferes of gout (and arthritis) - the flavonoids in the cherry juice help reduce uric acid levels in the blood stream. Doesn't work for everyone, but it does for many! They also taste good. For only 87 calories per 1 cup serve, they make an excellent snack choice for anyone. (Not that I care about the caloric content - I'd eat the whole kilo if I wouldn't feel sick!) That same one cup serving also has 3% of your daily iron needs, 16% of your vitamin C and 2% of your calcium. [Source:]

Now for some uses:
Freeze them for the long cold winter ahead of us. I've found this to come in handy. I've hardly bought any frozen berries lately (because my freezer is full of containers of cherries) and pitting all the cherries is quite relaxing. I just cut them in half, twist it apart and then pry out the pit with a knife. Don't cut yourself. Apparently if you freeze them whole they'll take on an almond flavour from the pit. I just put it all into plastic takeaway containers (or whatever container you want) and freeze. When I need to use them it only takes a second to pry them apart (once you get one the whole lot usually falls apart).
Use them in a tart or pie. (Top right obviously). This was our Christmas dessert table! I contributed the Pear Frangipane Tart from the Post Punk Kitchen. Everyone loved it. I've made it twice now. I'm sure the pear version is lovely, but I don't think pears are in season here right now. But when they are I'm totally making it. Again.
Put them in your breakfast smoothie. I have smoothies for breakfast quite often. Since my old food processor finally carked it (JUST when I was about to start making my christmas tart) and I bought myself a fancy pants new one with a blender attachment, smoothies will be much more regular. Here's one I had this morning:

Cherry-Almond Smoothie
I small frozen banana
1 cup frozen cherries
30g (1/3 cup) almond meal
30g (1/3 cup) rolled oats
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 1/2 cups slmond milk

Blend. Makes about 2 cups.

This smoothie provides:  17g protein, 28% daily calcium, 10% daily iron, 23g fat (only 2 of which are saturated). Not bad huh? I was pretty impressed. It also lasted me for like, 3 hours.
Bake them into a cake or muffins. I made Lemon cherry muffins by Vegan in Bellingham. I chose this recipe while searching 'vegan cherry muffins' on the net because I already had all the ingredients. And they are so good. I made them yesterday afternoon and there's only 3 left. Good thing they are relatively good for you :)
And last, but not least, ice cream! I was gifted with an ice cream maker for Christmas from my mum and HOOFUCKINGRAY! I tested the wodnerful machine out today with a basic vanilla ice cream with what was supposed to be blasamic cherry swirl, but it turned out a little more like cherry ice cream. I used the lazy vanilla ice cream from A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise blog, except instead of creamer I used a can and abit of coconut cream. Unfortunately the shop only had light in the cheap brand, but full fat would definately have been better. This ice cream still rocks my world though!
I cooked 2 cups of pitted cherries down with 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar. This would be good on top of plain vanilla ice cream too, but I wanted something fancy for my first time use of the Wonder Machine! I'd chop the cherries up into little bits next time because I had to mash them this time and one squirted me in the eye. I thought I'd go blind. I didn't, obviously. So anyway, I let the ice cream maker do it's job for 20 minutes, and then I blobbed in this sauce (and 1/4 cup cacao nibs) and let it swirl around for a few minutes. Oooh it's good. The balsamic adds just a touch of a different flavour as an aftertaste. yum. I've had to stop myself from eating the whole lot. it's not even frozen yet!
Happy cherry eating! I hope they stay cheap for just a little while longer...I want to freeze more for when I hibernate.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Just juice

I am busy packing and cleaning our flat at the moment and haven't had the energy to post :) (Did you know my kitchen door was painted cream? I sure didn't.) I shall return soon I'm sure. But here is an unintentionally festive juice: 2 carrots, 1 lg beetroot and 2 large leaves of a silverbeet. I got the star shaped ice cube tray as a fun gift from my dad and stepmum :) It's silicon and it pops out so easily! I'm already thinking chocolates or flavoured ice blocks...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas mince pies

For a few years now I've been meaning to make some fruit mince pies for Christmas day :) So this year I have.

Recipe for the fruit mince part:

1/4 cup currants
1/3 cup sultanas
2 tbsp mixed peel
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 apple, peeled and grated
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated orange rind
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and quartered
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, quartered
1 overflowing tbsp scotch whiskey or brandy

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You should use this pretty much as soon as possible because it's fresh fruit, and there isn't much alcohol in it to preserve :)
This is a terrible picture.
I made a basic sweet shortcrust pastry with wholemeal flour and used my mini muffin pan as a mould. Put about a teaspoon of fruit mince into each hole and put more pastry on top as a lid. Press around the edge with a fork. I stuck a hole in each pie with a skewer and then sprinkled raw castor sugar on the tops. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 200 degrees C.
The fruit mixture was enough for 10 full size muffin pan sized pies, and 14 mini muffins, or about 30 mini muffin pan sized pies.

And they are delicious.

Monday, December 12, 2011

'Beef' stroganoff

A while ago I bought some of those Lamyong TVP beef slice things for some reason. They aren't that good, but they aren't terrible and they are good for a bit of a protein change. Before we move I'm trying to use up as much of my pantry food as possible so I don't have to move it all. Next on the list was the beef style thingamees so I decided on a take on a traditional beef stroganoff! This recipe is much better than the first one I posted. Much much better.
'Beef' stroganoff
Serves 4


1/2 a packet Lamyong Beef strips (75g)
2 tbsp wholemeal plain flour
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
450g portobello or swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup white wine (I used sav blanc)
3/4 cup stock (I used chicken style but beef would be better)
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 cup silken tofu, blended smooth (important)

Pasta to serve


First, put the beef slices in a bowl and cover with freshly boiled water. Leave until it's soft. Use this water to make the stock.

Heat a little bit of oil in a stock pot and cook onions and garlic until they start to soften. Add mushrooms to pot and cook until they start to release the juice. Mix together the wine, stock and tomato paste in a jug or cup or something. Start water boiling to cook pasta.

Put the flour in the pot with the mushrooms and stir quickly. Once it has cooked for a minute, pour in the liquid and stir so no lumps form. Let simmer for a while, sauce should thicken. Add in softened beef slices, mustard and paprika. By now the water should be boiling. Continue cooking stroganoff until pasta is ready. A few minutes before serving, stir through the tofu. It's important that it's blended so it's smooth. As you can see in my photo mine wasn't, and therefore came out all lumpy!

Serve on pasta and enjoy.
This is really good, even better the next day. however the tvp beef stuff does NOT freeze well. This would also be delicious with tofu chunks, tempeh, seitan, or some sort of bean, or double the mushrooms. For example, if I was serving to family I'd go for the beans or all mushroom version :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Moving time!

Nadine and I recently got approved to rent A REAL HOUSE. With like, a backyard (and a front yard!) and most importantly -  A KITCHEN! With a PANTRY. You have no idea (or maybe you do!) at how much of a luxury a proper pantry is. I am very excited. My new garden will have room for vegetables and it has a garden shed in which I'll have to store a lawn mower.

So, to celebrate, instead of beans and rice (pretty much what we'll be living on as we move) I made a pot pie from Veganomicon. The 'Cauliflower and Mushroom Potpie with Black Olive Crust' which we have indeed made before, though I could not remember it. Since cauliflower is so expensive at the moment we changed the ingredients a little. We were going to use brocolli instead but the tiny lone stalk left at woolies was very sick looking, so I went for the sugarloaf cabbage instead. It was on special :) I like cabbage. And I used some nice portobello mushrooms which were reducted to clear.

And it was a delicious and fitting way to celebrate the arrival of a next home.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Red Velvet for you, Red Velvet for me..

It seems to have turned into a tradition that I make Nadine something Red Velvet for her birthday since she told me that was her favourite when we first drunkenly met. The first cake I baked I stirred with a fork. It took hours and turned out shit and tasting like food colouring, but everyone ate it! The next I made red with beetroot, but it kind of baked brown...though I've read if you add lemon juice it retains it's colour. Anyone tried this?
So this lot of cupcakes I followed the recipe for Crimson velvet cupcakes in VCTOTW (I think that's what they are called), except I left out the almond extract for nut allergic eaters. I also only used about 1.5 tbsp of food colouring because two seemed like the WHOLE BOTTLE. It didn't seem to affect the recipe result. They turned out so red also because I used white flour. They'd still be red with wholemeal but not as brightly coloured.
WHICH WAS DELICIOUS! The cakey part itself isn't particularly stand-out (though still good), but to me a red velvet is all about the contrast between the cake and the cream cheese icing. My icing is just 1/4 cup each of margarine and vegan cream cheese, 2 cups of sifted pure icing sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Mmmm.
I really wanted to put those silver balls on them to make them all fancy and festive, but did you know those things have gelatin in them? Ew. They are rock solid balls of sugar, you wouldn't think they'd need it aye. Oh well, no silver balls for us :( (Nadine said she didn't like them anyway haha).

Anyway, yay cupcakes. Oh. and I know red food colouring is generally cochineal, but I looked up all the numbers in the ingredients list of Queen's Pillar Box Red (that you buy at Woolies) and none of them appeared in my handy little vegan additive food guide so I was pretty confident that it wasn't. However, I emailled Queen Fine Foods today to find out for sure so hopefully they get back to me soon :) The internet yielded no results.

We gave half of these to my sister and her boyfriend who were looking after the cats when we went away, so we didn't have to eat them all. Pretty sure they were much appreciated.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Progress :)

So, QLD queers can be civilly unified legally!

Can you guess what I'm cooking in the picture?