This was very nearly vegan. And then I sprinkled some parmesan on it and then it wasn’t even vegetarian. This bothers me a fair bit but sometimes that’s just how it goes. Now, if you are a veggie then go get yourself some of that Italian hard cheese made without animal rennet. If you’re vegan then get yourself some Redwood Parmy or similar (not that I’ve ever tried it but I’ve heard it’s THE vegan parmesan substitute). You could just leave it off and I’m sure you’d like this well enough. But, although the moussaka was lovely without cheese it was OUTSTANDING with it. When I first tasted it from the oven I thought, “this is nice but it could do with something” and that something was parmesan. Also, if you’re vegetarian, why would you make a dairy-free bechamel? You don’t have to after all. Well, you know I’m avoiding lactose, so the dairy-free bechamel was almost a given for me (I could have used lactofree milk but I planned for this to be vegan, and then I went parmesan crazy – sighs). There’s miniscule amounts of lactose in parmesan, due to the method used to make it, so I can just bung it on. It is a mixed up, crazy world when I cook. Whatever you decide to use you should make a version of this. I received some lovely graffiti aubergines in the veg box, and I wanted something that when cooked would show off the pretty stripes. That didn’t work out so well, but it still looked good I think. I’m also going to share my top tip for reducing the fat in a dish like this. Steam your aubergine slices. It is true you won’t get the pretty charred bands you get with griddling but you do get lovely soft aubergine for layering that hasn’t soaked up a pint of oil. Also, as this recipe calls for making a cashew cream it is probably worth mentioning that I’ve managed to achieve a very smooth cream using a combination of a food processor followed by a stick blender. Until I win the lottery and get that Vitamix, it’ll do me.
A small handful of pictures of recipes in progress, life, and the troublesome feline…
I’ve been very neglectful of the blog – summer fun has got in the way! We’ve been off camping with C’s grandparents so there’s not been much work done on recipes. I will fit in a few this week before we’re off again – to the Isle of Wight – but normal service will resume I’m sure when term starts mid-September.
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Adapted from Post Punk Kitchen’s Marbled Banana Bread
I’ve called these little treats buns, although they are not yeasted. I derived the recipe from one for a banana bread, and they don’t rise as much as a muffin and retain a heavier texture than a regular sponge. So I’m going with buns and you can’t stop me! I’ve also left these nut-free so it would be safe to feed a herd of kiddy-winks over the summer holidays without fear of anyone whipping out their epi-pen. I’m starting to get pre-school nut fear. Not because C is allergic, but because almond milk is my go-to non-dairy milk and I just don’t think about it being ‘nutty’. I know people can be allergic to pretty much anything so it’d be difficult to avoid everything that might set someone off. They play with salt dough made with wheat at pre-school so I’m thinking of sheep dipping C at the front door on her return every day! We’ve been told though to avoid nuts and kiwi fruit. I should be able to do this very easily, but I still have the fear that I’ll send C off one day with some fairly boring leftovers to consume and then be running back down the street some minutes later shouting, “Nooooooooooooooooo”, because I’ve put almond milk in a biscuit I made four days ago and just forgot. Maybe I’ll have to tape a note to the front door. Perhaps it should just say, “NUTS”, because some days that could help me on a number of levels.
One of the things I love most about leftovers is how it opens up a world of cuisine fusion possibilities. Nothing too radical, but the putting together of things in a less than traditional way that is tasty and has some links back to a classic. So here are the things I needed to use up today (it was also a Monday and I do try to be meatless first thing in a week, so if I don’t manage it again I know I started it in the right vein!): cold roasted potatoes, soysages, eggs, cavolo nero, avocado. The things that popped into my head were – breakfast hash (potato, eggs, soysages) and huevos rancheros (eggs, cavolo nero, avocado). Why not a combination of the two? A sort of spicy and tomatoey potato bake, with the cavolo nero in there and a egg baked in, topped with crispy soysage crumb, and slices of avocado. It sounded pretty good in my head, and I have to say it was delicious. I’d say no need for tortilla because of the potato (although if you’ve got some, dipping in the egg is lush), unless you’ve only got a little cooked potato and you want to bulk out the carbs. You could easily have this for breakfast if you wanted. We had it for dinner because it is substantial enough, and who doesn’t like having breakfast at dinnertime?
Time for some therapy. Me, not you (unless you’re up for that sort of thing). I’m settled on the couch, so I hope you’re sitting in an uncomfortable looking chair. I’ve been pondering why it is that I’m frequently eating meals with at least one ingredient on the cusp of perishing. On the one hand I could argue that by getting a veg box I am always running the risk of not being able to eat up all the contents in time. Were I to live next door to a farm shop I could pop in daily for fresh ingredients, and I wouldn’t be hoping to make a pile of veggies last a whole week without any of them disintegrating into mush. But this is not entirely true. If I’m honest the problem is me and my shopping habits. When I go to a store I go with a list and I don’t go very often. I buy what’s on it. But I often put things on that list for a planned future meal that never materializes because other things got in the way. I often find I’m changing my meal plan because we’re not hungry enough for the dinner I had planned or we’ve got back too late for me to make the thing I had in mind. Friends joke that if the zombie apocalypse comes mine is the house we should barricade ourselves in, as we won’t need to venture out for food any time soon. I know that it has irked me in the past to not be able to make something exactly because I don’t have the right ingredients, but I’m not like that so much now. Unless I’m actually craving something a specific way I’m now more willing to fiddle around with a recipe and not freak out. I think I need to be more strict with myself on shopping trips, to not pop things in the trolley just because they might be useful in something. I’m probably about evens on feeling chuffed I found the thing I suddenly need in the fridge because I bought it on a whim, and eating something odd because I’ve suddenly got a sausage, a pineapple and a open carton of passata to use up! Which leads me to this recipe. Mangos were on sale, so I had one of those and the thing was borderline self-juicing when I finally used it. And I had half an avocado. That’s another part of the problem. I am but one, and C is still tiny, so I’m often using half of this and half of that because I would be the size of a house if I cooked for even two adults and then ate most of it myself. Combined with leftover chicken from a weekend roast this recipe was using up three things that needed to go, and luckily it was gorgeous! As the original recipe said – summer in a bowl. You wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to have some of that, would you! I didn’t have the parsley called for in the original, and I’m not a big fan anyway, so I subbed in a bit less mint, which worked wonderfully. You should use whatever you prefer.
Adapted from Frugal Feeding’s Broccoli, cauliflower and leek soup
It’s raining so it’s time for comforting soup! I might have mentioned before I’ve got friends doing WeightWatchers and some seem to regularly eat zero point soup. The basic concept being that most vegetables (though not all apparently) are worth zero points and therefore these can be included in the diet without having to count them against the day’s allocation of points. This is within reason obviously – I’m sure if you ate a mountain of anything, including broccoli, you could still put on weight. But anyway, the idea is to cook a soup without fat and plain starches, like potatoes, rice or pasta which incur points. If you like broccoli soup, and normally sweat onions in butter or oil, then I still think you’re going to be surprised how good this tastes without them. I was inspired by the beautiful soup made over on Frugal Feeding, and that did come with a caveat about the large chunk of butter included! This soup still looks, tastes and feels creamy, which I think is the magic properties of cauliflower when cooked and blended. You get a more vibrant colour if your broccoli is fresh and green, but this is an excellent way to use up anything that has got a bit bendy in the fridge. I’ve included an optional sprinkle of nutritional yeast for a cheesy garnish if you are so inclined, what with all three vegetables having a natural affinity with cheese. Still vegan then, still with no added fat, still zero WW ProPoints per serving and super quick to make as well!
A while back I got an ice cream maker because although Swedish Glace is delicious, the choice of flavours is a bit boring after a while. I wanted to be able to make versions of all the Häagen-Daz and Ben & Jerry’s flavours I used to love but without the lactose. Swirls, chunks, sprinkles and sauces – I want them all! But we’re starting with the basics. Here is a plain coconut ice cream, unsurprisingly made from coconut milk, with a bit of sugar and a bit of cornstarch. It is creamy and delicious. And, although I had my gluten-free ice cream cones on order (I’ve got to draw the line somewhere on homemade, and since I don’t like waffle cones I can’t imagine how I might recreate a rice paper one at home), I knew I needed something to hold my ice cream. A bowl, you say? Too easy!! Plus I wanted something portable that C and I didn’t have to sit still to eat. After some searching I decided on the ice cream sandwich cookies from Gluten Free on a Shoestring. I was convinced by Nicole’s description of the perfect ice cream cookie not shattering on the first bite. Sold! I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly to remove the xanthan gum, and I make only half the amount as I’ve not got that many mouths to feed. A quick mention of cocoa powder – in the USA they distinguish between ‘Dutch Process’ and ‘natural’ cocoa powders and we don’t do that in the UK. The way to tell here what you are buying is to look at the ingredients to see if an alkalising agent has been added. If yes, then it is Dutch Process, if not then it is natural. I use Green & Black’s cocoa powder which is Dutch Process. If you have an ice cream maker with a built in refrigeration unit (fancy!) then you don’t need to plan ahead, but with mine you chill the bowl before use and it’s got to be really cold or the ice cream won’t form and you’ll just have coconut soup. Also you’re making a kind of custard with the ingredients which also needs chilling down before you try to make the ice cream. So this recipe actually takes two days to make unless you have a posh ice cream maker, which is worth bearing in mind. The cookies can be made on the day but I’ve found they keep quite well so you could make them advance. The ice cream is vegan by the way, but the cookies have an egg and butter and so are not.