Not-hummus pizza

In my last entry I posted a recipe for sunflower-seed and chickpea spread. After I had finished my lunch I changed my mind about putting the spread away as it was, that amount of sunflower seeds made a very rich smooth spread, but I decided it was a bit too rich so added about 2/3 cup more chickpeas, more lemon juice, garlic and water, so there’s been plenty to keep me going over the past few days.

Some got turned into a sour-cream and onion dip for crisps and tortilla chips by adding in a few spoonfuls of Tesco plain soya yoghurt, along with dried onion powder, cider vinegar and nooch, but I still had a tub left. Since I was making bread today anyway it was no hassle to make a pizza base from some of the dough, chop up some onion, yellow pepper, a few mushrooms, a couple of cloves of garlic, add a couple of spoonfuls of chopped tomatoes and some dried mixed herbs, pinch of salt, mix that all up with a splash of oil, cover the base with the veg and then dollop a few spoonfuls of chickpea spread and smush it onto the top, along with a few halved olives. This went into the oven while it was pre-heating for the rest of the bread – I know conventional pizza-making wisdom says make sure your oven is smoking hot before putting your pizza in, but I defy convention :p

pizza topped with veg and chickpea-sunflower spread

I am under no illusions that this is a pretty picture. Not bad for about 5 minutes of actual hands-on cooking though! 🙂

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This way to cornbread!

I bought a few of my Live Below the Line food choices in duplicate so I could practice some recipes before the week itself. With the self-raising flour, the main thing I plan to make with that is a variety of quick-bread type things. Two days ago I made a dome-shape loaf using 150g SR flour, 30g peanut butter, a pinch of salt and just enough water so it formed a dough I could knead for a few seconds. It was pretty tasty!

Today, I thought I’d try adding more water to see if that improved the texture (I don’t think so, the firmer dough seems to rise just fine) and making it more of a cake batter texture so it formed a thin layer in the pan (which is about 8″ square). I also added 50g crushed cornflakes to vary the texture. It was quite pleasant, though I think next time I’ll add some mustard or onion pickle juice in too to make it a bit more interesting.
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Ingredients cost breakdown:

(bag of flour 45p for 1.5kg) 150g self-raising flour = 4.5p
(peanut butter 62p for 340g) 34g peanut butter (I was going for 30 but too much dripped off the fork) = 6.2p
(cornflakes 31p for 500g) 50g cornflakes – 3.1p
(salt – 25p for kg) pinch of salt. Let’s say .2p, as that rounds up the total to 14p.

The picture above is only half the quantity the recipe made, and it was pretty filling, so I definitely think that would do as a day’s worth of bready stuff.


Cinnamon buns with orange glaze – happy new year brunch!

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I kinda made up the recipe, but basically it’s 225g bread flour, 1/4 pint warm water, about a tsp instant yeast, 1/2 tsp salt, knead it all together and leave it to rise for an hour somewhere warmish. Roll it out into a rectangle. Heat about 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a little saucepan until it’s melted, then cool it down by adding about another tablespoon of oil (I used rapeseed), add in a couple of tablespoons sugar (I used soft brown) and a teaspoon of cinnamon and maybe quarter-half a teaspoon of allspice. Spread the cinnamon mix onto the rectangle, roll it up and slice it into 8 pieces, arrange them in a baking dish and leave them to rise for another 40 mins, then bake them in an oven at about 180c/350f degrees for 15-20 mins. The glaze was just a bit of icing sugar and a couple of spoonfuls of soya milk and the zest of an orange, but you could use the juice instead of milk if you wanted it really zingy, or leave the zest out if you just want the cinnamon to shine through. It actually could have stood a bit more cinnamon but that was the last of the jar and it had been open a while so your mileage may vary.


It’s that time once mo’…

The month of vegan food blogging is here again: VeganMoFo will be on for the whole of September and I’m getting excited to see people’s quirky, inventive themes, beautiful food styling and witty commentary. I love seeing the stuff folks come up with, and it’s a great challenge too! Even if you’re not vegan, it’s a great opportunity to try out new vegan food and show off what you can make or find.

Of course, not everyone will produce spectacular food that has been photographed beautifully. Witness my first item.

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Can you guess what it is? That’s right! Tiger bread!!

No? You think it’s more of a lumpy burnt-looking possibly-a-cat? Yeah, well the only way is up from here, my friends!

It puzzles me when people don’t understand why vegans or vegetarians would want to eat fake meat. I think anyone who has been veg*n for any length of time gets pretty tired of explaining that it’s not the taste most of us didn’t like, it’s the idea of something having to have gone through pain and death to get to our plates, so I thought I’d take the ‘eating fake animals’ thing to the extreme this MoFo and cover all the tasty animals we can eat that aren’t really animals at all.

One small hitch is that I’ve got about 8 ideas at the moment (and the goal of MoFo is to post at least 20 times in the month), so expect it to get pretty tenuous towards the end! Or I may just give up and start posting pictures of sandwiches. The above abomination came about because I only realised when I came to stripe-up my tiger-patterned pizza that I didn’t have any olives or in fact anything dark and savoury so I just left the tomato-paste and turmeric orange base on, thinking I could go out and get some olives to top it once it was baked. Then I burnt it. Like I say, it can only get better from here!


marmalade cinnamon rolls

So I bet you’re wondering where all my money went? So am I! I’ve learnt a good lesson this month, which is to not carry the whole month’s allowance around in my wallet (probably kind of obvious, but it was interesting to try a different way from October & November).

I do at least know where some of it went, and that’s the £2.80 I spent on 3 kg strong organic bread flour. It was on special offer at Waitrose when I went with my friends on Saturday to get the free coffees they offer to membership card holders. Ooh, they’re crafty alright! Come for the free coffee and newspapers, leave with a load of stuff you didn’t know you wanted until it beguiled you! I didn’t mean to buy anything after necking the coffee, apart from some potatoes, but my friends were going round the shop and I made the fatal mistake of looking down other aisles besides the produce section. Still, I do feel particularly naked in the cupboard area when there’s no strong wheat flour in there, and I’ve been able to make lots of breadly goodness, including these.

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I made dough using about 850g flour, a heaped teaspoon yeast, a teaspoon of salt and about 3/4 pint of lukewarm water. I used about a third of the dough to make these rolls (then the rest to make plain rolls and garlic bread to go with dinner tonight), so there’s only a very rough and ready recipe. I rolled out the dough into an oblong, mixed a heaped teaspoon of powdered cinnamon with about 5 tablespoons of marmalade, then because this is value marmalade they seem to have compensated for the low amount of fruit by using a lot of pectin, making it quite dificult to spread, so I added a squirt of golden syrup. Spread the sweet goop onto the dough, rolled it up, cut it into 8 pieces and squished each one slightly between my palms before putting them on a greased Pyrex dish and leaving them to prove for about 90 minutes. Then I baked them for twenty minutes in a fairly hot oven around 180/350.

We had these for pudding, and I heated them up for around 3 minutes again just to loosen up the sticky bottoms. I made a simple drizzle out of icing sugar and water to go over the top, but they were pretty gooey and delicious even without it. The value marmalade works really well precisely because they’ve been quite stingy with the fruit so it compliments rather than overwhelms the cinnamon. I would make these again, although maybe not at the same time as a load of other bready stuff! I’m going to see how they freeze…


£100 Challenge – day eleven

After worrying about how I was going to get out to dinner, I ended up getting lifts both ways, so didn’t spend any money yesterday at all. I do owe those friends a lot of dinners by now, though!

Today’s weather is damp and dreary. After work this morning I was happy enough to hurry home, so no temptation to go to the shops. I’m wearing two jumpers but my hands and the tip of my nose were getting cold so I’ve momentarily succumbed to putting the central heating on. Good job that’s not part of the challenge pot.

To counteract the cold I made a quick and simple stew including the last of my potatoes which were just beginning to sprout but fortunately hadn’t gone green, with a side of quinoa and some spicy croutons on top.

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Potato, carrot and cabbage stew (3-4 servings?)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped medium-fine
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
  • 3 smallish potatoes, cut into chunks
  • few leaves of cabbage (maybe 100g), sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Bouillon powder to taste (start with a teaspoon, I probably added more like 2-3)
  • Water

Method

Fry the onion in the oil in a medium-sized saucepan on a medium heat until starting to soften and brown, add the bouillon powder, carrots, potatoes and top up with water to cover. Turn up heat until simmering, then add the cabbage and cook until that’s done to your liking and the potatoes are cooked. Turn off the heat and add in the garlic (I like to find a balance between stinking of raw garlic, but still being able to taste it, and I find if the garlic gets added earlier it’s not very noticeable, but the residual heat takes the raw edge off. I am pretty garlic-immune these days though!)

I cut up the last bread roll from the batch I baked a few days ago to make croutons, which I fried in a small amount of olive oil, with a sprinkle of salt, smoked paprika and cayenne. This is my new favourite way of using up bread. Strictly speaking the stew hardly has enough liquid to count as a stew, and the croutons rested on a big pile of veg rather than soaking up the liquor, but they added a pleasing contrast in terms of both crunch and flavour. The quinoa was another great addition to make the whole dish a bit more hearty.

I also have bonus croutons left to snack on!


It’s the final Monday (doo-doo-DOO-do….)

So, it’s the last Monday of Vegan MoFo, and with this post I’ve met my goal of a blog post a day. Some have been a bit of a fudge (mmm, fudge), but I’m pleased with some of the stuff I’ve come up with. Can’t lie that some of the ideas I had for themes made me panic a bit and start inventing stuff I wouldn’t cook for myself in the normal way, particularly the amount of pies and scones, however there is some baking I do genuinely do on a regular basis, and that’s bread.

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I generally do half white and half wholemeal organic flour because I like the compromise between rise and nutrition this offers.

I weigh out what my scales tell me is 1lb flour, but judging how much more than half a pint of water I have to add (which is what my original recipe told me to add), my scales must be pretty out. I think I’m going to treat myself to some new ones with this month’s pay packet!

I divide my dough in half, then those in half, and then in half again, to get 8 pieces. What I generally do is make a tray of 6 quite flat bread rolls, which are useful for sandwiches. If I’m not going to get through the whole lot, I like to cut them in half and freeze them. Because I’ve made them flat each half can then fit straight from the freezer into my toaster.

unbaked bread rolls on baking try, held in left hand (only thumb visible)

With the remaining 2 bits of dough, I vary it according to what I fancy at the time, and if I have anything hanging around that needs using up. Sometimes I might make a spice bread, but I’ve plenty of that at the moment, or I occasionally divide those lumps in half again and make 4 pasty/calzone type things, but today I’m going for pizza-ish.

What I tend to do is slice up an onion with whatever else I’ve got around (sometimes just frozen sweetcorn), put a bit of Marigold bouillon powder and smoked paprika, and a slosh of oil in and mix it up in the same bowl I made the dough in.

chopped onion, mushrooms and tomatoes in dirty mixing bowl with small amount of smoked paprika and bouillon powder

The pizza bases are a bit of an odd shape so I can fit them on my baking sheet. And the reason I don’t just do one is because I’d be tempted to eat it all, whereas two means I can have one for lunch and one for another time.

oblong pizza bases topped with onion, mushroom and tomato

I also made hummus today, another regular staple. I buy giant 5kg bags of dried chickpeas, cook up about a kilo at a time and then freeze most of them in handy sized boxes.

Hummus in blender container with mixing spoon, viewed from above

Although the Vitamix is super for making things smooth in super-quick time, I do find it difficult to get the final scrapes of anything thick. Hating to waste things, I tend to plan stuff like this to co-incide with something like soup or stew where I can then add some water and add the watered down last bits of mixture to something else.   This time, instead I added fresh rosemary, dried oregano and some flaked almonds to make a sauce for my pizza. This sauce is nothing like cheese but it fulfils the same sort of function in terms of protein and holding the veg together.

two uncooked oblong pizzas on baking tray

And here’s my lunch!

cooked pizza shown from above on white plate, placed on floral background

If you’ve got this far, thanks for bearing with my rather boring final day’s post.

I’d also like to thank the Vegan MoFo team for their hard work, and say that I’m looking forward to next year already. Now I know how much work it is I’m going to start planning!

Blogging regularly has been a great challenge and I’d like to keep it up, so I’m going to start a new challenge for October. Watch this space…


Thirsty Thursday – Ginger Beer part 2

glass full of yellow ginger beer with slice of lemon on yellow, patterned background.

On Tuesday I posted my whole ginger beer recipe, but in reality I had only got up to the ‘leaving it in a big container for a while’ stage. Yesterday I sieved out all the ginger-chilli-lemon-zest, set the pulp aside, bottled the ginger beer up, and it’s been building up pressure nicely in the bottles.

So I’m going to go back to that bit where you have your drinks bottles and pour them 3/4 full (actually, you might want to make it 2/3 full even, depending how many bottles you have spare). Your squeezed bottles should look like this:

plastic bottle containing yellow ginger beer, that has been squeezed to exclude air.

(only you probably want less blurry bottles!) Leave them for a few hours in a moderately warm place, and you should come back to find them looking something like this:

plastic bottle with yellow ginger beer inside. there is a gap full of air between the beer andthe closed lid at the top of the bottle.

You can now unscrew the cap a little bit, squeeze out all the air and make them look like the first picture again. If you’ve left them for long enough that the yeast has been fermenting wildly, be careful how you open the bottles, as they do tend to fizz up quite a bit!

ginger beer frothing up in bottle.

I generally give them an extra 24 hours to ferment in the bottles before refrigerating and probably relieve the pressure 3-4 times during that period.

(Alternatively, if you want to leave them for a while to ferment out of the fridge and won’t be around to relieve the pressure, you can get a bit of plastic sheet (e.g. a section cut from a zip lock bag, make sure it’s clean), wrap that over the top, and then secure it with a couple of rubber bands (2 in case one breaks). The rubber bands expand to let the gas out, but vinegar flies (which you always want to avoid when you’re making alcohol, unless you want vinegar instead), and mould and other undesirable additions cannot get in.)

A sieving doesn’t get all the bits of ginger and solids from the mix, so a sediment will start to form in the base of the bottles. If this bothers you, you can get some more clean bottles and carefully pour your ginger beer off the sediment or even rack it off if you want to be fancy! http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Racking has a good explanation. If you don’t want fuss and don’t mind the possibility of a slightly cloudy drink, just pour it carefully, trying not to disturb it too much, as you would a bottle-conditioned beer. You could also have lined your sieve with cheesecloth to get out more solids, although you’ll still get yeast sinking to the bottom even then.

Ah, solids… remember the ginger-lemon-chilli pulp set aside earlier? Well, you could dispose of this by composting it or something, but there’s still life in the gunk, if you care to use it! After I’d finished bottling yesterday, I decided to make bread. There’s still live yeast in the stuff that’s been set aside that is perfectly adequate to raise a loaf. I also had half a can of chestnut puree left to use up so I got some plain flour (320g, but that was the only thing I weighed, sorry! I only weighed it to get an idea of how much liquid to add, but in the end I didn’t need any because the pulp and puree added enough), added in the pulp, the chestnut puree, a handful of sultanas, a spoonful of blackstrap molasses, a pinch of salt, and some oat flour and rolled oats for texture and heartiness. This combination resulted in a delicious loaf! Not very sweet, but perfect for breakfast toast. Unfortunately the chestnut puree made it a bit on the brown side, so it’s not the most photogenic of loaves, but it really was very pleasant indeed! The white specks are oats, in case you were wondering.

brown coloured bread loaf and two slices on bread board.

two slices of toasted bread with margarine melting into them, on a polka-dot bordered plate.