Saturday, January 23, 2016

Fake Orecchiette & Stuffed Zucchni flowers

A few days ago, I saw this post on twitter. I love making homemade pasta, so I started to do some research on how to make Orecchiette, which translates into little ears, however look more like little shells to me :)

I thought, "Super easy!!!" after watching a parade of nonnas on youtube making these little gems with ease. Alas, when it came to it, mine would just NOT turn out. I tried a few different shapes, and when I was just about to give up and make spaghetti instead, I thought of cutting them with a circle

cutter and pinching the sides.

I made the dough with aqua faba as I thought it would be better than just water. I am not really sure. The dough was fabulous, but having never made it with water it is hard to make a comparison. I will try just water next time.

I went to the market this morning and hubby requested zucchini flowers. I have never made them before, actually I have never eaten them before either!
But I bought them, and thought of stuffing them with something and chickpeas. So with this meal I used a whole can of chickpeas including the brine (aqua faba).

I hope it is not too confusing. Let me know if it is, and I will separate the recipes :)

1 425gm can of chickpeas
1 red onion
250 gms of sweet potato
300gms semolina (coarse)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 handfulls of green beans (Ends cut, and cut in half)
1 bunch of asparagus
1/2 a bunch of basil
1 tsp dry thyme
1 tsp dry oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 cloves of garlic
salt to taste
10 zucchini flowers
3/4 cup of spelt flour
3/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of pine nuts
3 tablespoons vegan parmesan
5 shitake mushrooms
Olive oil for frying fritters


  1. Drain the chickpeas, and reserve the liquid(aqua faba). Set both aside.
  2. Place the semolina in a bowl, and add 135gms (9 tablespoons) of aqua faba.
  3. Knead to make a smooth dough. Wrap with glad wrap and set aside.
  4. Cut sweet potato into small cubes and boil until soft. 
  5. Cut the red onion in half. Cut half of it in slices, and set aside. Chop the other half finely, and place in a bowl with the sweet potato.
  6. Add 100gms of the reserved chickpeas to the sweet potato mix and mash all of it with a fork.
  7. Add thyme, oregano and one crushed clove of garlic. Add salt to taste. This will be the filling for the zucchini flowers.
  8. Gently remove the stamen from the middle of the zucchini flowers, then wash the zucchini making sure that the two don't come apart.
  9. Using your fingers, fill the zucchini flower with the sweet potato mix. Set aside.
  10. Cut the dough into six pieces. Work with one piece at a time, covering the rest while you work. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin or a pasta machine. Cut with a round cutter. If you like you can press the dough on a gnocchi former to get some lines, then pinch one two sides to form a shell. Repeat until all the dough is used up. Leave the pasta on your bench to dry up whilst you finish with the zucchini flowers and the vegetables that go with the pasta.
  11. Heat a large frying pan, and add one tablespoon of oil. 
  12. Sautee onion and 2 cloves of garlic.
  13. Add, sliced mushrooms, green beans & asparagus.
  14. Chop basil and add to the frying pan. Season with a little salt, and set aside.
  15. Cook pasta for about 10 minutes in boiling salted water, drain and mix with the vegetables in the frying pan. 
  16. In the mean time, in a bowl, place the remaining AF. Whisk until frothy. Add garlic powder, salt, and flour. Add some of the water, until you get a batter thick enough to coat the zucchini flowers.
  17. Fry in hot olive oil, turning over once. Drain on kitchen paper.
  18. If you have any of the zucchini stuffing left over, add the reaming chickpeas, mix and form into balls. Dip into remaining batter and fry till golden.
  19. Re-heat pasta, add pine nuts & vegan parmesan and serve.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Creamy Baked Potatoes - Faux Dauphinoise Potatoes

This recipe was a complete fluke. A lady on a vegan forum I belong to, shared how she made potato bake with a packet of french onion soup. However when I went in search of it, all I found was a couple of different brands which were not vegan.

The problem was that I wanted to have potato bake, so I decided to throw together some things that seemed to me, that they may work, and then see what happened.

What happened was absolute deliciousness!!!!!
This potato bake is enough for 4-6 people as a side dish. We had it over two nights with two different meals. It reheats ok, delicious fresh!!!

3 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups of coconut cream
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon of vegetable stock powder
1/2 teaspoon of dry thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius (392 F)
  2. Place your potatoes in a deep oven tray, so that the potatoes are stacked about 4cm (1.5 inches) high.
  3. In a bowl, mix the coconut cream and all the other ingredients. 
  4. Pour over the potatoes and bake until your potatoes are cooked and the tops are lightly browned. (30-40 minutes)

The amount of time these will take to bake will depend on how thick you cut your potatoes. If you find that they are taking too long and it is getting too brown, lower the oven temperature. 
I sliced my potatoes paper thing, with slicer on my grater. 


Below are two meals we had we our scrumptious baked potatoes!!
Corn & Leak puff triangles, potato bake, cous cous salad and wilted spinach.
Herb Crumbed Tofu, with cous cous & roast vegetable salad, potato bake and roast asparagus.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Creamy Pasta Primavera

Yesterday I decided to try to make vegan creme cheese for the first time. I thought it would be a daunting task. Alas, it was super easy and quick. I followed this recipe

However, I made the following modifications. I used:
  1. 1 tsp of citric acid instead of the lactic acid
  2. Macadamia oil instead of canola
  3. Oat milk instead of soy milk.
Some advice, I was too quick in adding the oil to the aquafaba and my mix did not emulsify. Take it really slowly.
However I still followed the rest of the recipe and added the cashew mix to the liquid, and voila. It seemed to work anyway. Yummy creamy vegan cheese :)

Now to the pasta recipe! Such an easy and quick weekday meal! Especially if you made the cream cheese the day before :)

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large red onion, cut into 4 and then sliced thinly
1 cup of frozen peas
1 cup of frozen corn
Two large handfulls of washed baby spinach leaves
100gms of green beans, topped and tailed and cut into small pieces
1/2 a small red capscicum (bell pepper) sliced
3 tablespoons of pine nuts
375 gms packet of San Remo Vegeroni (or other egg free pasta of your choice)
1/2 cup of vegan cream cheese

  1. Cook the pasta while you are cooking the veggies as follows.
  2. In a large frypan, heat the olive oil and then sautee onions until translucent.
  3. Add the beans and cook for a minute.
  4. Add frozen peas and corn, and stir until warm.
  5. Add the capsicum and stir for a minute or until it is as cooked as you like it, i like it still firm, so didn't go past the minute.
  6. Turn off the heat, then add the spinach. Stir through to wilt.
  7. Add cooked pasta, and stir through the cream cheese and pinenuts.
  8. Serve immediately.
I think that a crushed clove of garlic would go really well at the time you cook the onion, however didn't add this as it's a weekday and we do not want to stink out our work colleagues in the office ;)

Please note, other recipes using Aquafaba (a wonderful egg replacement) can be found on the facebook group Vegan Meringue Hits & Misses

Monday, January 18, 2016

Hello and welcome!

Welcome! I just wanted to add a little note about the purpose of this blog.
I have been vegetarian for the last 16.5 years. I always looked at vegetarians as some strange species of people, and had never imagined that something may touch me one day and make me become one.

I was never an animal lover per se. There were animals I liked, some I loved and some I loathed.
In 1999 after meeting my husband (Boone), who is a Buddhist and a meat eater, we had several conversations in regards to spirituality and the value of life. His flatmate and his then girlfriend were talking to us one night and telling us about an amazing lecture they had heard on the radio about animal intelligence. Boone's flatmate had a 19 year old cat which ruled the house.

The whole chat made something in my brain click. Then I realised that there was really no difference in the value of life from one animal to the other. If I was not prepared to kill my dog or cats for food, why was it OK for me to pay someone to kill a cow, or a sheep, or a pig for me to eat. The answer was simple. It was not OK.

For the whole time that I was a vegetarian, I did not consider the egg or dairy industry. I thought that vegan was extremism, and that there was no real reason to go there.

In 2003 I met a vegan girl, who wrongly told me that sugar was not vegan. Wrongly because sugar has been vegan friendly in Australia since the 90's when the usage of bone char in the processing was stopped. I had no idea this was not true. At the time I was tinkering with cake decorating, and had started thinking of running my own cake business from home. Veganism was not considered again.

It never really occurred to me to go and do research on the subject, I just didn't think there was anything wrong with the consumption of eggs and dairy.

I can't remember for what reason, maybe ten years ago, I tried to give up eggs and dairy. I lasted three days. I did no research and had no one to ask questions. The one thing that remained with me from those days was drinking milk, I swapped cow's milk for soy, and from then on, could not stand the taste of dairy milk.

Five or six weeks ago, I joined a vegan cooking group, as I love inventiveness in cooking. The Facebook group is about experimenting with using an egg substitute that is easily available. A meat eating friend had told me about. I started to experiment and found some vegan groups through some memes that people had posted. I joined one said group.

A person in that vegan group had posted and article debating that oysters could be classified as vegan .The person was asking for opinions. I said something along the lines of as a vegetarian, I wouldn't eat oysters as it was killing another being. Then one guy asked me, what about all the chickens that die in the production of eggs. Another posted a few stats in regards to half of all chicks (males) being killed as they had no usefulness in the industry. Also highlighted that calves are removed from their mothers when they give birth, and the cows cry for days afterwards looking for their babies. That is so heartbreaking!!!
Not only that, the majority of the calves are killed for veal not long after. It became clear that although I had not consumed meat for over a decade, I was still responsible for the suffering and murder of innocent animals. I went away to process it all. I started by saying to my husband that I would commit to cooking vegan dinners for a week, by the third day I had been eating vegan meals the whole day, and by the third day of vegan eating, I knew there was no going back. As the saying goes "What's been seen cannot be unseen".

I started making meals and sharing them in the Vegan group I had joined. I started to get asked for recipes, and thought that having a blog to document my experimentation and conversions would be good, even as a diary for myself.

Ooops this was supposed to be a "little" note, hahahaha.

Anyway, here it is, if you're reading this, and you're not me, Enjoy!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Noodles with Stir Fried Veggies and Seared Tofu


250gms packet of spelt noodles

For the stir fry
280 gms spinach leaves (washed)
1 large carrot (peeled and cut into matchsticks)
1 onion sliced
1 small capsicum sliced
1 thumb piece size of ginger (grated)
1 clove of garlic (minced)
1 tbs tamari
1 tbs olive oil

For the tofu & marinade
500 gms firm tofu cut into thick slices
3 tablespoons Japanese style Worcester Sauce
1 tablespoon  light agave
1 tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil

For the mushrooms
350 gms button mushrooms
1 tbs olive oil


  1. In a bowl mix the worcester sauce, agave, veinagar and sesame oil.
  2. Place tofu in a tray large enough so that each piece has space around it.
  3. Drizzle with marinade, and let it sit for a couple of hours, turning over every half hour.
  4. Remove the stalks from the mushrooms, then in a bowl toss them (whole) with a tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside.
  5. Heat your grill (I used an electric one), and place all the mushrooms on it. With the one I used, because it is also a sandwich press, there was no need to turn it over. Remove when nicely seared on both sides. Repeat with the tofu. Reserve tofu marinade.
  6. Cook noodles as per packet instructions. Set aside.
  7. Heat a medium sized wok, and place 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  8. Place onion, carrot, capsicum, garlic and ginger and stir fry for a few minutes. Add spinach and stir fry till wilted. Add tamari, stir well and remove from heat.
  9. To serve, place the noodles on each plate, top with a mound of veggies, then two pieces of tofu, and a few mushrooms. Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of reserved marinade. Can also sprinkle with dry chilli flakes.

Potato Gnocchi with Eggplant Ragu

Ingredients for Gnocchi

840gms of mashed potato (approx. 4 large potatoes, peeled and boiled whole)
150gms gluten free flour (I used "Free From - Gluten" sold at Woolworths)
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
5 gms of salt
(Serves 4)

Method for Gnocchi
  1. Place the mashed potato in a bowl, then mash in the salt and nutritional yeast using your potato masher, until well combined.
  2. Add the flour, to the potato, mix with a fork until combined. Empty out the contents of the bowl onto a floured surface and knead until it all comes together.
  3. Grab small balls of the dough and roll out into sausages.
  4. Cut into 2cm (3/4 inch) pieces (you can then boil them after this step)
  5. If you have a gnocchi tool, which will allow you to do the ridges, go ahead and press them through this tool, a fork can work as well, but not as neat. 
  6. Place them into boiling salted water in batches, they are done when they float to the top.
  7. Serve with the eggplant ragu (or other sauce of your choice) and a touch of vegan Parmesan. 

Ingredients for Eggplant Ragu
1 large eggplant (Chopped)
10 button mushrooms (Chopped)
2 small onions (Chopped)
1 large capsicum (chopped or blended)
1 tsp Thyme
700ml bottle of passata
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Heat a large non stick pan. Place oil and sautee onions.
  2. When onions are caramelised, add the capsicum and cook until softened.
  3. Add the mushrooms and eggplant. Sweat them out until they become translucent.
  4. Add passata, then fill half the bottle with water, shake it to remove any remnants of passata and add it to the sauce. 
  5. Add salt, pepper and thyme, and simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes.
This sauce is enough for two meals or 6-8 people. I normally make it for the family and freeze the leftovers for another meal.

We had this with a rocket, pear and pomegranate salad. Delish!!!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Eggless Chocolate Macaroons (Vegan)

2 1/2 cups of almond meal
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup of Aqua Fava (Water from a can of chickpeas)
4 tablespoons of cocoa 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

  1. Preheat oven to 145 degrees celcius.
  2. Cover two cookie trays with baking paper. Set aside.
  3. Sift flour, almond meal and cocoa together, and set aside. The purpose of sifting is to remove any lumps from the cocoa and to mix all the ingredients together. Do not discard the larger bits of almond meal that are left in the sieve, put them in the mix also.
  4. Place aqua fava in the bowl of a stand mixer with the cream of tartar.
  5. Beat on low until it gets foamy and increase the speed. Beat until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla at this stage.
  6. Start adding sugar to the meringue one tablespoon at a time, ensuring it is well mixed each time.
  7. Remove bowl from mixer and add all of the dry ingredients, fold them in until well incorporated.
  8. Pipe them onto the cookie trays using a large piping tip or place them on the tray with a tablespoon.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes, they should not brown.
  10. Set aside and cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the tray.
  11. Store in an airtight container.
  12. Enjoy with a nice cuppa!!!!

These macaroons improve once stored in an airtight container for a few hours. They become more chewy. This recipe was an experiment. I think that next time I make them I will reduce the sugar amount by about 1/4 cup, as they can be a little sweet. But oh my!! they are delicious and moorish!!

Aqua fava is all the rage at the moment in the vegan world after it was discovered that it can be used to make lovely meringues.
For more information and recipes join the Vegan Meringue - Hits and Misses! group on facebook. There are hundreds of people on there sharing their recipes using AF (aqua fava), their failures and successes.
This is really great news for not only vegans but for people that have egg allergies.