Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Orange and Poppy Seed Bread

Hello all! Here's a tasty recipe for you. Orange and poppy seed bread. Gluten free and vegan. 

1 and 1/2 cups of gluten free flour
1/4 cup of poppy seeds
2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 tsps of cinnamon
1/2 cup of orange juice
3/4 cup of rice/nut milk.

Blend dry ingredients then mix in the wet ones. Don't over-mix, or it will be too chewy. Bake in the oven on 180 for approx 25 mis until crust is golden and risen well. To make this into a sweet version, just add half a cup of brown sugar.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

No.109 Bento Big and Small

It was a nice surprise for me recently when my almost fourteen year old daughter (Big T) told me she would like to start taking bento to school again. She hasn't wanted bento for secondary school for the past two years at all, so this is a big deal for me. So now I have two bento to make again, one for her and one for little t, and I love that! These are the bento I made for the children ready for tomorrow's lunch.

Big T's bento is in the strawberry shaped box and little t's bento is in his favourite green box. Vegan veggie burger, rocket, a ketchup pot, raspberries and blackberries for little t. I saved the little dancing girl fruit forks from some boxes of dates we had at Christmas. I think they probably look a little bit risqué for children's bento, but oh well. Big T has the same but with some extra burger, ciabatta bread and cucumber. Her fruit layer consists of strawberries and grapes since she likes neither raspberries nor blackberries. They will also take in some vegan banana and coconut bread that my mother in law baked (so good).

While I packed tonight's bento boxes I started to consider how my two children's tastes vary slightly, and how their appetites and nutritional requirements differ quite immensely. You can see that I've had to put more food in Big T's box, she's older so that makes sense of course. But some of that food is 'filler' food, with the ciabatta. I don't like using bread in bento to be honest. At least, more often than not I'd rather avoid it. Bread is empty calories (empty, delicious calories...). It also gets boring, and harks back to that school lunch trap of the daily sandwich.

I think I'm going to have to get more creative with filling Big T's appetite requirement now she's asking for bento again. Bread just won't do. More raw vegetables are in order, and probably some quinoa or cous cous.

Poor Big T has been poorly with a kidney infection this week, so I had her home with me yesterday. I made her a nice big plate full of healthful things for her lunch and she wolfed it down.

Not the best presentation of a mezze, I know, but it tasted good. She had cucumber and carrot sticks, peri-peri humous, half an avocado with lemon juice and black pepper, strawberries and some wholmeal crackers with vegan (Toffuti) garlic and chive cream 'cheese'. Yum. I had the same but with some leftover roasted veggies, too.

This past week my lovely neighbour told me to start helping myself to his herb garden (mine is a bit bare to say the least), so I ended up with the most gorgeously scented bunch of rosemary. Whenever I have rosemary and dill in the house at the same time, I go straight to this recipe: Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings by Isa Chandra over at Post Punk Kitchen. I suppose it's not really a summer recipe, but who needs rules? This stew is one of the most satisfying meals I make on regular rotation. The payback you get in flavour and all round goodness is remarkable considering its simplicity in preparation. For about twenty minutes max of chopping veggies and mixing a few dry ingredients together I end up with a meal fit for vegan kings. Here it is served up with ciabatta spread with 'Pure' sunflower margarine.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Part 1: Christmas at Bentovention

Hello all! We're are getting truly into the Christmas spirit here at Bentovention House. Although a couple of trays of mince pies have been baked earlier in December, I have waited until now to start cooking in preparation for parties and the Christmas week. Although my Christmas pudding is always made well in advance (see my previous post for a picture), I leave the baking of the Christmas cake until the week before Christmas. That is because I really don't like a heavy fruit cake so I bake a light fruit cake similar to a simnel cake instead. With more cake and less fruit in its anatomy, it won't keep for as long as a dense fruit cake. I will be baking the simnel-Christmas cake next week and posting up a recipe and pictures on here to share. In the mean time, here are some other Christmas recipes I have veganised and put my own interpretation on. 

Vegan Treacle Mincemeat

I used to put vegetable suet in my mincemeat, but I don't any more. I didn't find the suet added flavour, but it certainly added calories and fat. If the mincemeat is cooked then certainly the suet would act as a preservative and also bind the mixture together, but there is so much sugar content in this recipe that I wouldn't bother worrying whether anything will start living in it!

500g of fat, juicy raisins
300g of chopped glace' cherries
200g of mixed candied peel
200g of black treacle
200g of golden syrup
1 jar of orange marmalade with shreds.

Throw it all into a bowl and mix it until you have a dark, sticky, delicious mess. Jar it up in a sterilised jar (I do mine in the oven for twenty minutes on a medium heat), then use when required.

Vegan Devil's Food Cake

For anyone like me that isn't overly fond of fruit cakes, the white iced chocolate cake is a nice festive  alternative. I came up with this veganised recipe for Devil's Food Cake yesterday so that my daughter will have a yummy dessert to share with her friends at the Christmas party she is having tonight.

4 tablespoons of cocoa powder
175g of boiling water
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
100g of dark chocolate
125g of dairy free spread (I use 'Pure')
350g of caster sugar
4 tablespoons of oil (I use walnut oil, any type is fine)
300g of plain flour
200ml of rice or soy milk

For the frosting:
250g of dairy free spread
500g of icing sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
(blend into a paste, adding more spread/icing sugar than the recipe suggests if you don't get the thick creamy consistency you expect. There are no hard and fast rules on how much to use.)

I used some chopped dairy free white chocolate buttons for the top. I think some grated dark chocolate would do just as nicely.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Put the cocoa into a heat proof bowl and mix into a paste with the boiling water. Add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and blend well. Set aside to cool.

Break up the chocolate into another heat proof bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth and set aside.

Put the soft spread into a mixing bowl and beat until very soft, then beat in the sugar until completely blended. Fold in the flour in three batches, along with the oil. Mix well.

Add the cocoa liquid into the melted chocolate and mix together. Fold in the chocolate mixture into the cake batter thoroughly until there are no streaks.

Divide the mixture between two cake pans and bake for about thirty minutes until risen and firm.

Decorate when completely cooled.

And finally, just a little update about the sloe gin I mentioned in my last post. I have now decanted it back into the original gin bottle ready for Christmas. I couldn't help having a little sample to make sure it was okay. It is unbelievably delicious. Shop bought slow gin usually tastes like pure sugar syrup and is thick and sickly. This home made batch has a sweetness to it, but retains a slightly tart aftertaste. It is absolutely perfect. Making sloe gin has been an all 'round success, from the wonderful afternoon I spent hunting sloes with my dear friend and my children, to the anticipation of it while it quietly did its thing in the cool, dark of my cupboard, and now this delicious prize at the end of it all.  I am pleased as punch.

Keep a look out next week for the second instalment of Christmas at Bentovention when I will show you my take on a Christmas cake and fill you in on any other treats I've made in the mean time.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Coming soon: Christmas at Bentovention

Hello all! Here at 'Fort Bentovention' (I have lovingly dubbed my home a fort since this past summer when we had some absolutely beautiful wooden decking and fencing build in our back garden), I am winding down my research work as a PhD student in preparation for a long break over December. While I work, I am listening to Christmas carols, which was initially just as a cheery background to my typing, but has now become a gentle reminder that I must work hard to finish in time for the break I want to take. 

My mind is frequently distracted during the day, as I ponder new vegan recipes I'd like to try in December. Last Christmas I made this cranberry, walnut and chestnut wellington, which was absolutely delicious. It was a recipe I copied from a friend's cookery book. I believe the name of the book was "How to have the best Christmas ever" or something similar. I took the non-vegan recipe and veganised it with some clever substitutions.

This year, I'm leaning more towards the idea of a seitan roast. Whilst looking for a tasty recipe online,  I found this creation that is described step by step by Jezebel (follow the link to see for yourself). It's based on a recipe first shown here on Unturkey.org. I've never made my own seitan before, but I'm excited to try it. It also appears to be a sizeable creation, so it will offer me the vegan equivalent of 'cold-cuts' for sandwiches the following week, as well as a tasty addition to noodle soup.

Through December I will be sure to post pictures of the cookery and crafting creations that my children and I will work on together. I will be making a large batch of my own recipe vegan mincemeat, sampling the sloe gin I jarred up in early November, coming up with a Christmas party menu for friends and family and crafting some home made tree decorations. Check back in December for pictures and recipes that I will post up for you as I go along. For now, back to work for me, but here's a sneaky peak of how the sloe gin is looking. Check out that amazing, rich colour.

And here's a picture of this year's (vegan) Christmas pudding, which was made in 2011. It's a cherry and grenadine pudding, so I'm looking forward to trying out that experimental combination of flavours. I have high hopes for it.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Halloween Treat: Vegan shortbread werewolf claws

I happened to have a hand shaped sandwich cutter which came in handy (excuse the pun) for these, but the shape wouldn't be all that difficult to cut out.

I used my usual vegan shortbread recipe, which is very simple. Three ingredients in a bowl and less than five minutes to blend.

1 part sugar
1 part vegan spread
1.5 - 2.0 parts flour

Mix with your fingers, beginning with the 1.5 parts flour to 1 parts each of sugar and spread. If it ends up too sloppy (more towards a cake mix) add the rest of your flour and rub into the rest. The consistency should be less like pastry and more like a thick cookie batter. You should be able to lift it out of the bowl in one big ball, but it should still feel a little greasy and loose.

It doesn't need colouring, since it will turn slightly golden in the oven, but you could add some vegetable based food colouring the way I have, to get more of a flesh tone. The fingernails are whole almond halves tucked into the hand before cooking.

Cut out shapes and place on a lined baking tray. Initially cook for 15 minutes at 170 degrees. The shapes should only have the merest hint of golden baked colour on the edges before they are removed form the oven. Leave them an extra 5 to 10 minutes if they are not right. Allow to cool before using a spatula to remove them from the tray. They will further solidify during cooling.


Monday, 22 October 2012

Halloween at Bentovention - Mummy sausages and spooky mash

Happy Halloween! I have been enjoying finding lots of Halloween foodie inspiration on the many wonderful vegan blogs that are out there. I discovered the idea for tonight's dinner (Mummy sausages and spooky mash) at Wing It Vegan but the original recipe is from 365 Halloween. Follow the links to see some great pictures of this meal created by other vegan bloggers. I didn't shape the mash with an icing piper, which is how I think they are usually done. I just made little piles of potato and then shaped them quickly with a spoon. I wanted the meal to be put together quickly so that it would still be nice and hot. After the photo was taken I surrounded the spooks and the pastry wrapped sausage in a gravy-yard. The children and I thought the whole thing was extra delicious because of its cuteness value.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

No.108 'Butternut squash and garlic stars' bento

This is Wednesday's bento for little t. I have given him a little more of our leftover pesto pasta, some slices of fried butternut squash and some homemade (vegan) garlic bread stars. For his dessert he has a satsuma and a little pack of caramel flavoured biscuits. My husband brought lots of these home from a recent hotel visit since he doesn't eat biscuits at all. They are one of those wonderful 'accidentally vegan' discoveries! In fact, I just had a couple with my evening cup of tea.


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