Thursday, 30 June 2016

7 Chocolate and Malt recipes - We Should Cocoa #70 round up

This month I had the honour of hosting We Should Cocoa, the long running blog event that challenges bloggers to paid chocolate with a different ingredient each month.  I chose MALT because chocolate and malt is such a comforting flavour combination.  It reminds me of childhood.  I hoped others might also be fond of the combination.  Then I got very worried that malt was a bit of a niche ingredient.  I was delighted that we got an interesting group of chocolate treats sent in by fellow malt lovers.  Without further ado, here they are:

Three ingredient Horlicks (malted milk powder) chocolate pots - Fuss Free Flavours

Firstly we have these magnificently simple Horlicks chocolate pots from Helen of Fuss Free Flavours.  They are the perfect indulgent and impressive dessert to finish a dinner party or for that quick chocolate fix.  Even more fun with the addition of Horlicks malt powder . 

Malted superfood bars with mango and coconut chocolate - Tin and Thyme

Choclette (coordinator of We Should Cocoa) sent in some healthy malted superfood bars with mango and coconut chocolate.  These nutritious bars are jam packed with the goodness of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and grains.  And just in case you think they are just too healthy to be fun, they are studded with chunks of mango and coconut chocolate.  These would be delicious and healthy lunchbox snacks.

Malted loaf with chocolate, fig and brazil nuts - Green Gourmet Giraffe

I too chose to use malt syrup in this malted loaf with chocolate fig and brazil nuts.  Using these add-ins made a plain loaf into something quite fancy to impress your friends and family.  It was based on a favourite overnight sourdough recipe.  If you are not in possession of sourdough starter, I am sure you could use the malt syrup, chocolate, dried figs and brazil nuts in a regular yeasted overnight bread as well.

Vegan oil-free chocolate malt cake - Veganopoulous

Faye of Veganopolous didn't find any vegan malted powder but she used malt syrup to flavour a vegan oil-free chocolate malt cake.  I have always been a little wary of using too much malt syrup and was impressed at how much malt syrup she used. It sounds just lovely.  Check out how she keeps the moisture in the cake while keeping the oil out.

Chocolate malt pie - Bite Sized Thoughts

Like Faye, Kari looked to malt syrup as a vegan option for this decadent chocolate malt pie.  It had a nutty date crust and a chocolate mousse filling which might be the first time that tofu and malt have been paired together.  And don't the marshmallows on top look pretty.

Rye rye whisky brownies - The VegHog

The VegHog moved away from malted syrup and powder into the more alcoholic realms of maltiness.  She used a favourite whisky to douse these dense chocolately Rye Rye whisky brownies.  They sounds really intense and really yummy.  With some cream and berries they would make a decadent dessert.

Malted chocolate cake - Mainly Baking

Suelle from Mainly Baking brings up the rear with a malted chocolate cake.  She enjoyed the malt and chocolate flavour combination.  It looks lovely and dense with chunks of white chocolate.  I am sure the white chocolate went well with the Horlicks and malt extract.

    So there you have some great ideas for bringing together chocolate and malt, whether it be in powder, syrup or whisky, whether you are after decadence or healthy.  And over half the recipes are vegan.  Thanks to everyone who sent in recipes and thanks to Choclette for supporting me to host We Should Cocoa.

    Head over to Tin and Thyme to find out the theme for We Should Cocoa in July.

    Sunday, 26 June 2016

    Pumpkin and apricot tangine

    The Age newspaper says that we are experiencing a cold snap right now.  We are eating lots of soups and stews that last for a few nights.  One of these is a pumpkin and apricot tangine that I have had bookmarked for far too long.  It was a hearty stew that is perfect for this weather.

    Before I tell you about the stew, let me say that it was great to have a weekend without many plans.  It opened us up to impromptu activities.  Firstly my dad rang to say he and my brother would help with making some cat steps that we had be discussing.  Our cat Zinc is getting old (14 years) and sometimes gets up on the fence and seems unsure of getting down.  We hope this might help.  She seems a bit unsure of the steps but hopefully they will be useful next time she finds herself on the fence.  And if not, then I am sure E will appreciate somewhere to put his cuppa.

    Today I read chapters of Harry Potter to Sylvia during the day, had a bike ride and took Sylvia's bike for a ride.  It has been a while since she has ridden her bike what with one thing and another.  I hope we might have some bike riding now that we are into the school holidays.  We found that the back tyre was quite flat and took the bike to the petrol station to pump it up.  Now she is all set.

    Sylvia is quite keen to bake.  I hope we might do some baking over the holidays.  Our days are already filling up and these days I have to make sure that there is time to just hang out at home.  Unfortunately she is not into making dinner, though she is quite good at putting together a platter of bikkies, hummus and vegies.

    She is very fond of dried apricots but not in savoury food.  I quite like dried apricots in savoury dishes.  It was the reason I was initially attracted to this recipe.  The apricots contribute to the flavour rather than appear as sharp sweet fruity nuggets of flavour.

    Like many stews, I enjoyed this more the second day, though I made more of an effort with garnishes the first day.  I wasn't sure I got the seasoning exactly right, because the apricots and pumpkin made it so much sweeter after cooking that it wasn't easy to taste until done when it can be harder to adjust.  However the tagine was packed with lots of vegies and lots of flavour that kept us enjoying it across a few nights.

    I am sending the tangine to Jac for Meatless Mondays, Kimmy and Mary Ellen for Healthy Vegan Fridays and Corina for Cook Once Eat Twice

    More recipes with dried apricot on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    Apricot and cheese balls (gf)
    Apricot chutney (gf, v)
    Apricot delight (gf, v)
    Black bean and apricot chilli non carne (gf, v)
    Curried red lentil and apricot soup (gf, v)
    Dried fruit and coconut balls (gf, v)
    'Morroccan' chickpea barley salad (v)
    Overnight sourdough fruit bread (v)  
    Tahini, quinoa and apricot toasted muesli (v)

    Pumpkin and apricot tangine
    Adapted from Bit of the Good Stuff
    serves 6-8

    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 carrot, diced
    1 red capsicum, diced
    3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    1 tsp ground ginger
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1 tsp ground cumin
    500g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into bite size pieces
    400g / 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
    1 cup vegetable stock
    2 tbsp tomato purée
    400g / 14 oz can chickpeas, drained
    2-3 large leaves kale, destemmed and chopped
    16-20 dried apricots, chopped
    1 tbsp honey or other sweetener
    2 tbsp harissa
    1 tsp salt

    To serve:
    Flaked almonds, lightly toasted
    Sesame seeds, lightly toasted
    Shelled hemp seeds (optional)
    Fresh parsley, chopped

    Fry onion for about 5 minutes over low heat or until translucent.  Add carrot, red capsicum and garlic and fry for another 15 minutes until vegetables are soft.  Stir in spices and pumpkin.  Cover and sweat for 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about an hour.  (Note that the seasoning should be tasted at the end rather than the start of simmering because the pumpkin and apricot will release sweetness as it cooks.)  Serve on couscous with nuts, seeds and parsley.

    On the Stereo:
    Sergent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Beatles

    Friday, 24 June 2016

    My personal vegetarian 100 - the second list

    Years ago bloggers were sharing lists of the top 100 foods you must try.  Of course it has a lot of meat so I posted my Personal Vegetarian 100 list in 2008.  It is time to revisit and update the list.  (And why not today when you might just want to take your mind off the Brexit!)

    Back in 2008 I thought I had the definitive list of food I had discovered as a new blogger.  Now I know that the food trends and discoveries just keep on coming.  Eight years on I have a list of a further 100 foods that comfort, fascinate and inspire.  It is a mix of popular and quirky with some personalAussie classics thrown in.  Many of these were unknown to me back in 2008 though not all.  As with my previous list, I have bolded those I have tasted and linked to all I can
      1. kale cake
      2. apple rose tarts
      3. nutritional yeast flakes
      4. cuitaloche
      5. fresh truffles
      6. cactus
      7. chickpea chips
      8. vegan cheesecake
      9. foam
      10. fresh chickpeas
      11. kefir
      12. yellow watermelon
      13. aquafaba meringues 
      14. coconut whipped cream
      15. vegan 'pulled pork' jackfruit tacos
      16. orange flower water
      17. warrigal greens 
      18. banana soft serve ice cream
      19. kale chips 
      20. black rice
      21. arepas
      22. watermelon curry
      23. parsnip cake
      24. beetroot powder
      25. macarons
      26. nutella doughnuts
      27. hedgehog
      28. raw brownie
      29. vegan french toast
      30. fresh sourdough bread
      31. scrambled besan
      32. maca
      33. crumbed avocado fries
      34. CLT (Coconut bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich)
      35. liquid smoke
      36. israeli couscous
      37. chocolate with 100% cocoa solids
      38. black bean brownies
      39. cauliflower rice
      40. Japanese curry
      41. zucchini noodles
      42. cauliflower pizza base 
      43. hominy
      44. kombucha
      45. haggis nachos
      46. natto
      47. purple carrots
      48. zaatar pizza
      49. cronut
      50. harissa
      51. roast cabbage
      52. chermoula
      53. french lavender salt
      54. chia seed jam
      55. golden syrup dumplings
      56. poached quinces
      57. cranachan
      58. gooseberry fool
      59. redcurrant jelly
      60. chokito chocolate bar
      61. tamales
      62. buffalo cauliflower
      63. bush tomatoes
      64. no knead bread
      65. oatcakes
      66. gingerbread house
      67. lemonade scones
      68. cheeseymite scrolls
      69. lacuma
      70. ramen burger
      71. chocolate salami
      72. pikelets
      73. gomashio
      74. hemp seeds
      75. potato scones
      76. grilled lettuce
      77. yacon syrup
      78. fresh fenugreek
      79. dried inca berries
      80. black tahini
      81. dried rose petals
      82. edamame
      83. salted caramel sauce
      84. sriracha
      85. forestberry
      86. steel cut oats
      87. poblano chile pepper
      88. beet greens
      89. Chinese five spice powder
      90. treacle tart
      91. tumeric latte
      92. dandelion greens
      93. maple sugar
      94. jerk seasoning
      95. smoked salt
      96. coconut nectar
      97. white balsamic vinegar
      98. raw cheesecake
      99. dried barberries
      100. activated nuts

      Which of these foods do you really love?  Are there foods on the list you want to try?  What would you add to the list?

      Tuesday, 21 June 2016

      Banana anc coconut cake

      Occasionally people ask if I have thought of writing a cookbook.  More often I feel that I am far more suited to blogging than cookbook writing.  Cookbook authors have to make the same recipe over and over with great precision.  It is not the way I cook.  I tinker and tweak recipes.  Take this banana cake.  I have made it twice.  The first time I veered from the recipe on and the second time I changed it again.

      Manky old bananas like these are the reason that I have so many banana cakes on my blog.  Sometimes I return to old recipes and sometimes I want to try something new.  Many banana cakes ask for 3 bananas.  I was particularly drawn to this vegan banana cake because it only needed 2 bananas.  Which was all I had.

      The first time I made the banana cake was just before I picked up Sylvia from school.  We met a friend of hers.  When her little sister told me it was her birthday I was pleased to be able to offer her a tub of sliced cake.

      The second time I made the cake I was in a rush to leave the house and took it out without even testing it.  The cake was slightly soft in the middle after 40 minutes in my slow oven but it tasted lovely.  I love cakes warm from the oven but the texture of this one is better after cooling.  Sylvia and E were very pleased to get home and find fresh cake waiting for them.

      This is a lovely soft cake with a slight texture from the coconut.  Enough texture to make me happy but not enough to alienate kids who do not like bits.  It is vegan and low in oil.  I am looking forward to making it again.

      More banana cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Banana and yoghurt cake
      Banana cake with maple syrup (v)
      Choc caramel banana cake
      Healthy banana bread
      Mum’s banana cake

      More banana cakes online:
      Banana skin cake - Not Quite Nigella
      Chocolate chip banana cake (v) - Chef Chloe
      Gluten free banana bread - The Healthy Chef
      Jamie Oliver Figgy banana bread - The Quirk and The Cool
      Karen Martini's sisterly banana bread - The Age 

      Coconut and banana cake
      Adapted from

      1/2 cup soy milk (or sub 2 tbsp aquafaba)
      1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

      3/4 cup banana purée (about 2 bananas)
      1/2 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
      2 tablespoons vegetable oil
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      pinch cinnamon

      1 1/4 cups plain flour (I used half white, half wholemeal)
      1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
      1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda (ie baking soda)

      1/4 cup desiccated coconut (optional)

      Mix milk and vinegar or lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.  Mix banana, sugar,  oil, vanilla, salt and cinnamon.  By now the milk mixture should be slightly curdled and can be mixed in.  Add flour, baking powder and bicarbonate soda.  Stir until combined and then briefly stir in coconut if using.  Scrape into a greased and lined 20cm round cake tin.  Bake at 180 C until golden brown on top and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  (25 to 40 minutes depending on your oven.)

      On the Stereo:
      The Stone Roses: The Stone Roses

      Sunday, 19 June 2016

      Split Pea Soup with Sweet Potato and Mushrooms

      The solstice is upon us and winter has well and truly set in.  What better way to keep warm than with a bowl of split pea soup.  It is one of my favourite winter comforts.  I was glad of it this cold weekend.

      It has been an odd year for us.  We had a warm summer followed by a plunge into the chilly climate that is the Scottish Spring and then back to a very mild autumn in Melbourne.  Cruelly the temperature did not drop significantly until the last week or two of autumn.  When we were faced with cold temperatures, wind and rain.  In fact last weekend I was so cold at my parents house that in the middle of the night I had to turn on the electric blanket.

      Here in our home we have taken out a large warm blanket we often put on the bed in winter.  Ever since my nose has been running like a tap and I assume it must be the dust in the blanket.  Tonight it is hanging inside after a spin in the washing machine and a day out on the line.  I hope this will deal with my dust allergy.  (Though I always think this a very odd allergy given that surely everyone reacts to dust!)

      I made the soup on Thursday when seeking some inspiration for dinner.  Usually I make split pea soup with onion, carrots, celery and potato and at the end I blend it to be smooth.  I always thought split pea soup was smooth, despite my mum adding chunks of ham to it when I was a kid.  When looking at split pea soup recipes online I noticed that many people didn't blend theirs.

      So I set about making a split pea soup with more vegies than usual - sweet potato, courgette and mushrooms.  It meant that I could use up lots of vegies from the bottom of the fridge, something I don't usually do with split pea soup.  And it was brilliant.  At first I thought I had used too much water.  Within hours it had thickened and by the next day it was even thicker.  (See photos in collage above.)   Most of the vegies and split peas broke down a lot but I liked the slight texture of the mushrooms.  And it still had the great comfort of split pea soup.  The soup is great with bread, with some leftover rice stirred through it or just as is.

      This weekend has been quite a split pea soup weekend.  We had planned to go to Fitzroy Market and then to an outdoor Winter Solstice celebration.  But we were snuffly and it was wet and cold outside.  So we bunkered down with a bowl of split pea soup.  Today I baked bread and made lemonade with lemons from our tree.  Sylvia asked me to make recipes from her cookbook so we made her choice of cheese twists and chocolate cupcakes.

      The chocolate cupcakes were a lesson in making do for Sylvia.  She was great at following the recipe for the cheese straws but I think finding that I kept veering off course from the cupcake recipe was a bit unsettling.  I said we could make them but we didn't have any butter or margarine left so I used oil.  Then I used some old milk chocolate chips that seemed hardy enough to withstand a nuclear explosion and would not melt.  I reduced the sugar from 400g to 250g and upped the flour from 250g to 350g, and then added some cocoa and wheatgerm. 

      I think the cupcakes have worked but am still not 100% sure.  I love the feeling of having plenty of bread and cake to face lunches for the start of the week ahead.  If only we had not finished the split pea soup it would have made Monday's dinner a cinch as well.

      I am sending this soup to Lisa for My Legume Love Affair and Kimmy and Mary for Healthy Vegan Fridays.

      More split pea recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Potage St Germain (split pea and green pea soup) (gf, v)
      Shitake and star anise split pea soup (gf, v)
      Smoky lime split peas (gf, v)
      Split Pea and Lentil Soup (v)
      Split Pea Soup (gf, v)

      Split Pea Soup with Sweet Potato and MushroomsAn original recipe from Green Gourmet Giraffe
      Serves 6

      1 tbsp olive oil
      1 tsp mustard seeds
      1 onions, chopped
      4 stalks of celery, chopped
      1 carrot, chopped
      180g (3 good handfuls) mushrooms, chopped
      1 medium potato, diced
      2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
      1 tsp smoked paprika
      8 cups water
      1 1/2 cups green split peas
      1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
      1 large zucchini, diced
      3 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp ground white pepper
      Bouquet garni (ie 2 bay leaves, 2 twigs tyhme, 2 twigs rosemary, few stalks of parsley tied together with string)

      Heat the oil over medium low heat and scatter mustard seeds in it.  Leave a few minutes until they start to pop.  Add in onions, celery and carrot and fry for about 10 minutes.  Add mushrooms and fry another 5 minutes.  Add sweet potato and fry another 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and smoked paprika.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 1 hour.  (Note that it will be a bit on the salty side because once the vegies cook they sweeten it.)  I think I could have done about 10 minutes less but wanted to make sure it was all nice and soft.  When the heat is turned off remove bouquet garni.  It will initially look like a thin soup but will gradually thicken up.

      On the Stereo:
      Reading, Writing and Arithmetic: The Sundays

      Saturday, 18 June 2016

      Tea Towels IV

      As I have mentioned before, my late mother-in-law was an enthusiastic collector of tea towels.  She bought us plenty.  We bought her plenty.  And every tea towel purchase reminds me of her.  When we visited Edinburgh and Paris in March we bought a few souvenir tea towels but most of the ones we brought home were from E's mothers collection.  So present you with a fourth installment in our tea towel collection.  Including a New Zealand tea towel my friend Kerin brought for us.



       San Franscisco

       Bronte Country

       Edinburgh Dungeon

       Charles Rennie Mackintosh

       The Isle of Arran

       Paris buildings

       Another Paris tea towel

      New Zealand

      To see more, go to my first, second and third post on my tea towels.

      Friday, 17 June 2016

      Portuguese fried rice, National Celtic Festival and quicklinks

      It has been a short week because we just had the Queen's Birthday Long Weekend.  We had some time in Geelong with my parents, spent a day at the National Celtic Festival in Portarlington, had a couple of Sylvia's friends over and then finished the weekend with Portuguese Fried Rice.

      We had lovely pizza at my mum's on Saturday night but the great excitment was having Scottish food  at the National Celtic Festival.  This is our third year visiting the Festival (check out my 2014 and 2015 festival posts).  This is one of the few opportunities while eating out in Australia that we find haggis, tattie scones and irn bru.

      The above kilted van pleased me with its vegetarian hot dogs.  (Mind you they cost $8 - twice as much as the regular ones.)  At least I was able to get something for Sylvia that wasn't just chips.  I complimented one of the staff.  Then I suggested vegetarian haggis and he said it was a contradiction!  Strange how there was no problem with vegetarian hot dogs! 

      We had a great time at the festival.  Each year I promise myself next year I will buy a ticket rather than just going to the stalls and the free acts on the Village Green Stage.  Realistically we are only there a few hours and I am not sure it is value for money to buy a day ticket nor is there enough time just for the free stuff.

      We love all the craft stalls, the Irish dancing, the Scottish dancing, the fencing, the food stalls.  E was delighted to have a really good haggis burger.  Sylvia and I helped him eat some tattie scones.  I had a cheese and onion pastie which was bigger than I expected so that when I got to Jerry's Vegie Burgers, I wasn't that hungry.  I bought a burger because I loved them so much last year but my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

      We were pretty tired when we got home on Sunday night.  Then on Monday Sylvia had some friends around so I made sourdough flatbreads for lunch.  It was lovely to have some quiet in the house when she then went to the park with her friends and their parents.  By then, I wanted something simple for dinner.

      I'd had my eye on the Portuguese Fried Rice on Not Quite Nigella and decided it was just the way to enjoy a vegetarian pepperoni sausage I bought in Scotland.  I also had discovered an open jar of olives at the back of the fridge and wanted to make omelette with some silken tofu that needed using.  (NB I only had half a tub of silken tofu so I halved the omelette I usually make.)  Having leftover rice clinched it.  E and I loved the rice, though I found it quite strongly flavoured.  It was a nice alternative to our regular fried rice with lots of lovely add-ins and it lasted for a couple more meals.

      The long weekend meant more time for reading so I am sharing a few quicklinks:

      I am sending this Portuguese fried rice to Kimmy and Mary for Healthy Vegan Fridays, to Cindy for Gluten Free Fridays and to Jac for Meatfree Mondays.

      More rice dishes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
      Cheesy cauliflower and rice soup (gf, v)
      Italian rice and beans (gf, v)
      Mexican rice (gf, v)
      Paella with brown rice (gf, v)
      Tahini lime rice with kale and cashews (gf, v)
      Veggie crumble 
      Zucchini flowers with rice (gf, v) 

      Portuguese Fried Rice
      Adapted from Not Quite Nigella
      serves 4-6

      Vegan omelette (see below), diced
      Oil for frying
      1 onion, peeled and diced
      1 carrot, diced
      handful cashews
      50g vegetarian pepperoni sausages, sliced thinly*
      4-5 cups day old cooked rice
      4 tablespoons tomato paste
      2 teaspoons salt
      1 teaspoon sesame oil
      good pinch white pepper
      1/2 cup pitted black olives
      1 teaspoon smoked paprika
      1 cup peas

      Fry the onion, carrot and cashews on medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes until soft and the cashews brown a little.  Add in the veg pepperoni and cook about a minute.  Turn the heat to medium high .  Now add the rice, tomato paste, salt, sesame oil, pepper, olives and paprika.  Stir until mixed and heated through.  Add the cup of peas and cook until they are warm.

      NOTES: to make this meal vegan check if your veg pepperoni sausage is vegan - I had thought this one was vegan but upon checking I found it had egg in it.

      adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

      150g silken tofu, drained
      3 tablespoons besan (chickpea flour),
      1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
      1/2 tablespoon olive oil
      1/2 tablespoon mirin
      1/4 tsp sea salt
      1/8 teaspoon turmeric
      1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
      1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
      1/8 teaspoon onion granules
      pinch black salt
      1 tsp oil, for frying

      Mix everything together (I usually use a blender but I just did it briskly by hand and I think it was fine).  Heat a heavy bottom frypan over low heat and swirl the teaspoon of oil about it.  Scrape all the mixture into it and spread about with the back of a spoon.  Fry for 10 minutes.  Then cover (I use a large saucepan lid) and fry for another 10 minutes.  Use an eggflip or spatular to push around under it to check it is not sticking to the pan.  The flip onto a large dinner plate.

      On the stereo:
      Garbage: Garbage