Veggies on the counter

Vegan Tiramisu

Posted in desserts by veggies on the counter on October 8, 2014

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For a long time I wanted to make a vegan version of Tiramisu, the classic Italian dessert. However, though, that required some planning as I had to make the cake or cookie base from scratch, and because I’m usually not so go at planning recipes ahead of time, I kept postponing and almost forgot about it. Almost.

The other day I was reminded of my Tiramisu mission while having dinner with my dutch friend Anne-Marie, who came to visit me here in Porto. We went to an Italian restaurant I particularly like and she ordered Tiramisu for dessert. We brainstormed a bit about what would be the best approach to veganize it (Anne-Marie is the ultimate Tiramisu connoisseur), and came to the conclusion that, instead of trying to mimic the regular version, by using whipped soy cream and the likes instead of the dairy cream, the focus should be on the core flavours and textures of Tiramisu: coffee, Amaretto and biscuits.

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The creamy component of this dish is made by combining silken tofu and coconut cream, and I can guarantee you it’s quite a subtle combo, where you won’t either taste the tofu or be overwhelmed by the coconut flavour. As far as the biscuit part goes, I made a simple almond and amaretto cake that is then cut into thick slices and soaked with coffee. The final result is quite pleasant, not overly sweet and light in texture. Unfortunately, by the time I was making this dessert Anne-Marie have already returned home, but I’m positive she would give her approval. Guess I’ll make it next time we meet, we always happen to come up with creative food ideas when cooking together ;)

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Vegan Tiramisu

 (serves 6-8)

For the Almond Amaretto Cake:

Dry ingredients:

175 g / 1 ½ cups almond meal, slightly toasted in a dry skillet

270 g / 2 cups white spelt flour

¼ teaspoon fleur du sel

2 Tbs. flaxseed meal

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

Wet ingredients:

½ cup + 2 Tbs. brown rice syrup

125 ml / ½ cup soya or almond milk

2 Tbs. Amaretto

1 tsp. lemon juice

60 ml / ¼ cup olive oil

 

granulated brown sugar (1 to 2 Tbs.) and extra oil for coating the pan

 

For the Coffee Sauce:

185 ml / 3/4 cup boiling water

2 Tbs. coffee granules

2 Tbs. brown rice syrup

For the Coconut and Tofu Cream:

2 cans /400 ml full fat coconut milk, turned upside down and refrigerated overnight

1 package / 300 g silken tofu

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and added to the bowl of a food processor

5 Tbs. brown rice syrup

1 Tbs. Amaretto

 

cocoa powder for coating

 

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC.

To make the cake: In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients for the cake except the flaxseed meal. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients along with the flaxseed meal. Put the wet mixture over the dry one and mix everything until a thick batter comes together.

Grease a rectangular baking dish with olive oil and coat it with the granulated brown sugar. Add the cake batter, smooth the top with the back of a spoon, and bake in the pre-heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 1 hour before unmolding and slicing.

To make the coffee sauce: In a heat resistant bowl, whisk the boiling water with the coffee granules and brown rice syrup until thoroughly combined.

To make the coconut and tofu cream: Open the coconut cans and discard the water (you only want the creamy part). Simply put all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and run the machine until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

To assemble: Cut the cake into 14-15 slices (they will be about 1cm thick). Add 5 of the cake slices to the bottom of a rectangular pan and cover them with half of the coffee sauce. Add half of the cream mixture on top of that, followed by 5 more cake slices and the remaining coffee sauce. Finally, cover with the remaining cream mixture.

Refrigerate the tiramisu for at least 24 hours. I like mine well chilled, almost frozen, so I cover the pan with cling film and put it in the freezer for 1-2 hours before serving (but only after it has chilled in the refrigerator). Dust the tiramisu with cocoa powder and serve.

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Turmeric & Almond Cookies

Posted in baked goods, breakfast & brunch, cookies by veggies on the counter on April 18, 2014

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My oven is mostly used to roast vegetables (during the last couple of weeks, it roasted an obscene amount of beets and onions) and to make bean casseroles and kale chips. The occasional loaf of bread also comes out of it but cakes and cookies really are a from-time-to-time affair. I have way more ideas for savory dishes than I have for desserts so, whenever I have an idea for a sweet treat, I put my hands to work.

almonds first-collage-web These gluten free turmeric-almond cookies are dead simple to make. The dough comes together in a breeze and you don’t even have to roll it. They aren’t overly sweet and I like to eat them plain, but you can definitely slather them with a fruit compote or marmalade if you wish. As I’m writing this, it comes to my mind that you could add some caraway seeds to the dough or use orange zest instead of lemon. Turmeric is a spice with a mild earthy taste, so a few additional flavours are always welcomed. 2nd-collage-web turmericcookiestop_web Turmeric & Almond Cookies

(makes about 30 cookies)  

90 g / ¾ cup peeled almonds

105 g / 3/4 cup brown rice flour

60 g / ½ cup corn flour

60 g / ½ cup quinoa flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

zest of one lemon

125ml / ½ brown rice syrup

80 ml / 1/3 cup olive oil

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Let them cool and, once cooled, grind them in a food processor until you a fine meal.

Add the almond meal, brown rice, corn and quinoa flours, salt, turmeric and lemon zest to a large bowl. Mix everything together. In a separate bowl, combine the brown rice syrup with the olive oil.

Add the wet mixture to the dry one and mix, forming a dough. Cut the dough into two equal pieces. In a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a log with roughly 4 cm in diameter. Wrap the logs tightly with cling film and seal the ends with kitchen twine. Put the logs in the freezer for 45 minutes to an hour, to firm up. In the meantime, Pre-heat the oven to 180C /350F.

Once the logs have chilled, cut them into 0.7-1 cm disks. Place the disks in a large baking tray lined with parchment paper. Since the cookies won’t rise much while baking, you can put them close together. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes + Arugula-Tarragon Pesto over Socca

Posted in appetizers, main courses by veggies on the counter on July 12, 2013

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Chickpea flour has to be one of my favourite gluten-free flours out there. It has a lot of character (don’t even try tasting it raw, by the way) but it is, at the same time, very versatile. I make crêpes with it, savoury pancakes, use it in small amounts in cake batters (its high protein content mimics that of eggs, making it the perfect egg replacer) and many other preparations.

It wasn’t long ago that I’ve heard of socca, a chickpea flatbread typical of Nice, France. I came across a recipe for it in Ottolenghi’s Plenty, but haven’t tried it out as it called for egg whites. However, and after some research on the internet, I found out that most socca’s recipes don’t use eggs at all, requiring only three basic ingredients (chickpea flour, water and salt) and, optionally, a few dried herbs and olive oil. In this recipe, I used za’atar to flavour the batter because it goes well with the pesto and all, but you could definitely build different flavour profiles by adding different spices and herbs.

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Regarding the slow roasted tomatoes: I quite like raw tomatoes, but I like them even more when slow roasted. They’re sweet and tangy at the same time and can totally transform an otherwise boring leafy salad into something out of this world.

The recipe(s) for the slow roasted tomatoes and the pesto make way more than what you will need for this particular dish but that’s the point, really, so that you have plenty to play around and use in different meals (salads, sandwiches, and so on).

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soccatomatoespesto

Slow Roasted Tomatoes + Arugula-Tarragon Pesto over Socca

(serves 4 to 6)

slow roasted tomatoes:

1 kg / 15 medium sized vine ripened tomatoes, quartered 

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed

arugula-tarragon pesto:

40 g / 1/3 cup laminated almonds, preferably toasted

30 g / ½ cup packed arugula

6 g / ¼ cup packed tarragon

1 teaspoon salt

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

60 ml / 1/3 cup olive oil

socca:

130 g / 1 cup chickpea flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons za’atar

250 ml / 1 cup water

1 teaspoon olive oil, to grease the pan

extra arugula and silvered almonds, to assemble

Pre-heat the oven to 140 C / 284 F. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Add the tomatoes, salt, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic to a bowl and mix to combine. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on the baking tray and slow roast for 1 ½ to 2 hours. They’re done when wilted and lightly brown around the edges.

For the pesto, finely chop, separately, the almonds, arugula and tarragon. Mix everything together in a bowl and add the salt, garlic clove, lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well to combine. Have a taste and adjust the seasonings if needed be. Alternatively, and instead of chopping up the ingredients by hand, you can use a food processor to blend them up.

Raise the oven temperature to 200 C / 390 F.

Sift the chickpea flour, salt and za’atar to a bowl. Slowly pour in the water, whisking vigorously to avoid any lumps. Let the batter sit, covered, for 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature.

In the meantime, grease one 25 cm / 10 inch round baking dish with olive oil and put it in the middle third of the oven for at least 10 minutes. After that time take, very carefully, the pan out of the oven and pour the batter into it. Return the pan to the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the chickpea pancake is golden brown on top. You can finish it (as I did) on the broiler for the last 5 minutes of cooking to encourage even browning.

To assemble, cut the socca into 4 or 6 equal slices. Spread the pesto on each of the slices, add a generous amount of arugula on top as well as 2 to 3 tomato quarters. Drizzle a bit more pesto on top of the tomatoes and finish off with plenty of toasted silvered almonds.

Snow Pea and Roasted Almond Pesto

Posted in appetizers, breakfast & brunch by veggies on the counter on June 3, 2013

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The other day I got a big bag full of spring goods from my aunt’s garden – it had snow peas, pea pods and fava beans (also still in their pods) in there. I sat down in front of the tv for a good hour peeling the pea and fava pods, and by the end of it there was this huge pile of green pods and a smaller one with the actual edible produce (that was eaten in the next two or three days). However, the bag also contained a considerable amount of snow peas (and, thankfully, those do not need to be shelled), and even though I love eating them the simplest way possible – sautéed for just a few minutes with garlic and olive oil – I felt I needed to do something a little bit different with them just for the sake of variety. And so this pesto recipe was born.

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It’s as easy as it gets – mix a couple ingredients in the food processor, purée, season and enjoy. I prefer my almonds toasted (I think they’re more flavourful that way), but if you don’t want to turn on the oven just to toast them, you could use them in their natural state and still end up with a tasty, somewhat unusual, pesto. I brought some of it to a dinner party and we ate it over bread, crackers and even as a dipping sauce/paste to spring rolls but, really, you could do a whole lot of things with it – it’s excellent as pasta sauce, for instance.

Oh and last, but not the least: this blog is now on facebook. Go over there if you want to follow it as it is going to be updated regularly.

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Snow Pea and Roasted Almond Pesto

(makes, roughly, 1 1/2 cups)

200 g snow peas

1/3 cup / 55 g almonds with their skins on

zest and juice of one medium lemon

½ cup / 125 ml extra virgin olive oil

½ plus 1/8 teaspoons sea salt

2 garlic cloves

a few sprigs of lemon thyme

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºc /350 F.

Rinse the snow peas and, while trimming their ends, slide your finger along one side to remove any tough strings. Coarsely chop them.

Arrange the almonds evenly on a baking tray. Roast them for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Set them aside to cool. When the almonds are cool enough to be handled, chop them coarsely.

Put all the chopped snow peas and almonds in the bowl of a food processor along with the other ingredients. Process for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth. Have a taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Transfer the pesto to a large bowl and store in the fridge. Use within 2-3 days.

Bolo-Rei

Posted in baked goods, desserts by veggies on the counter on December 19, 2011

One of the most typical cakes eaten in Portugal around this time of the year is Bolo-Rei (“bolo” stands for cake, “rei” for king). It’s one of those cakes I always enjoyed eating since I was kid (even though it isn’t a kids-friendly type of cake) and now, as a grown-up, I decided to try to bake it myself. I did it yesterday and, even though the cake is a bit of a project (it’s yeast-based, so it has to rise two times), the end result is way better than its store-bought counterpart.

Firstly, I decided to bake two cakes, basing them on different recipes (which only varied slightly in terms of method and rising times). Then, I thought, “why-not-to-go-a-little-bit-further-with-this” and substituted sugar for agave nectar, butter for olive oil, eggs for tofu, and also added spelt flour to one of the doughs (while the other one was made only with regular flour). I was really satisfied with how both cakes came out : they had a soft and bread-like inside, filled with lots of nuts and dried fruits. I finished things off by covering them with a tangerine glaze and toasted shredded coconut. The recipe I’m sharing with you is the one in which I used 100% regular flour: not because it tasted better or anything (the cakes had a similar taste), just that it was the one I actually ended up taking notes of (anyway, I’m pretty sure you could sub half of the amount of regular flour called in the recipe for spelt or any other whole grain variety).  Also, this time around I ended up measuring everything in grams, for which I apologise, even though I prefer to do it that way, especially when baking.

Bolo-Rei

(for one large cake)

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons (60 ml) agave nectar

4 tablespoons (60 ml) olive oil

100 grams tofu, crumbled

6 tablespoons (90 ml) soy milk, plus a few extra tablespoons

15 grams fresh yeast

250 grams regular flour

80 grams raisins

80 grams almonds, coarsely chopped

40 grams walnuts, coarsely chopped

55 grams dates (7 units), pitted and chopped

For the tangerine glaze:

freshly squeezed juice of 4 medium-sized tangerines

2 tablespoons (30 ml) agave nectar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

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2 to 3 tablespoons of shredded coconut, toasted

1. In a blender combine the first 4 ingredients and mix until smooth. In the meantime, dissolve the yeast in a few tablespoons (3 to 4) of slightly warm soy milk. Add the yeast mixture to the tofu mixture, and run the blender once again, until everything is well incorporated.

2. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and, gradually, add the liquid mixture. You’ll end up with a soft, sticky dough, which you want to knead for about 5 minutes (resist the urge to add more flour to it).

3. Transfer the dough to a slightly oiled large bowl, cover it with a clean towel, and leave it to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.

4. Once the dough has doubled in size, it’s time to add the chopped nuts  (almonds and walnuts) and dried fruits (raisins and dates) to it. Knead the dough in the bowl for 1 minute, or until all the nuts and dried fruits are well incorporated into it.

6. Now, shape the dough into a log, joining the two ends together in order to form a crown. Transfer the cake to a large baking tray lined with parchment paper, cover it again with a clean towel and leave it to rise for additional 45 minutes.

7. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (375ºF).

8. Bake the cake in the lower third of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until it slightly browned (see picture above) on top.

9. To make the tangerine glaze, add the tangerine juice, 2 tablespoons agave nectar and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch to a small pan over medium heat, until it reduces and thickens up (do not forget to constantly whisk the mixture).

10. Once the cake is done, cover it with the glaze (you might end up having more than what you actually need) and sprinkle it with the shredded coconut.

Recipe inspired by Ingrediente Secreto, by Henrique Sá-Pessoa, published by Casa das Letras in 2011.

Curried Zucchini and Apple

Posted in salads, side dishes by veggies on the counter on September 13, 2010

This recipe is what I had for lunch today, alongside some grilled tofu and toasted bread slices. It’s one of those recipes that you can put together in a matter of minutes, and is really tasty. What is important in here is to slice both apple and zucchini as stated in the directions, so that they cook thoroughly in the amount of time I’ve specified. The point is to just slightly overcook the zucchini, while the apples retain some of their crunchiness (one of the reasons why I haven’t peeled them). Also, you don’t to use tart apples such as, for instance, Granny Smith, but sweet and crisp ones, as a way of balancing the addition of lemon and ginger juices to the dish. For me, Starking apples work the best in here, but if you can’t find them, I bet Red Delicious would make it as well. For some of you who don’t really know what else to do with zucchini, give this recipe a shot – I’m almost sure it won’t disappoint.

Curried Zucchini and Apple

(serves 4, as a side)

540 grams zucchini (3 medium ones)

200 grams Starking apples (2 small ones)

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon curry powder

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed ginger juice

1 and ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus a bit more

1 tablespoon lemon zest

¼ cup toasted almonds, coarsly chopped

1 small handful of chopped coriander

salt and pepper to taste

1. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise. Then, cut each quarter into two halves. Finally, cut each half crosswise into sticks about 8 centimeters long. Set aside.

2. Quarter the apples and remove their core. Slice each quarter into 3 equal pieces, about 0,5 centimeters thick. Transfer the apples to a bowl, and add a squeeze of lemon juice to them, to prevent oxidation.

3. In a large sautée pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic cloves, and curry powder, and fry for 1 minute. Add the zucchini and the 2 tablespoons of water, cover, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the apples to the pan and cook for additional 5 minutes. In the last minute of cooking, add the lemon and ginger juices, the lemon zest, and season well with salt and pepper.

5. Remove from heat and divide among 4 deep plates. Add the almonds and chopped coriander on top of each serving and serve immediately.

inspired by Vegetarian Cookery, published by Dorling Kindersley, 1991 (I believe the book is now out of print)