Thursday, 25 August 2016

Kitchen sink tropical fruit loaves

It usually seems like a great thing to live close to public transport.  Unless it is a morning like today when the boom gates are stuck down, the trains don't move and the cars no one can get across the train tracks.  The traffic was so bad we parked the car on our side of the tracks and walked to school through the underpass.  When we arrived, the office was waiving late slips because so many people were caught out.

I came home and baked cake.  It was well overdue.  Bananas were blackening in the fridge and apples had been ignored.  I messed with a Guardian recipe for Maple Oat and Banana Loaves that I had seen Cakelaw bake.  I made it vegan with aquafaba as well as chia seeds, add passionfruit, LSA and coconut instead of oats and spices.  I ran out of olive oil and used some extra aqua faba instead and then I only had berry yoghurt (rejected by Sylvia) instead of plain yoghurt.  I may not have followed the recipe exactly but I did clean out the fridge.

While the cake baked, I finished off some costumes I had put up my hand to make.  Don't get me wrong.  I can't sew.  I volunteered to help out with costumes that just required scissors, spray paint and gaffer tape!  I am pleased they are now complete. 

I am also pleased with my cake.  I get bored by banana cake.  I like lots of texture.  And not too sweet for me please.  This was just right. When I took Sylvia to her swimming lesson tonight I took her a piece.  She liked it.  A little girl was curious about what was being eaten.  I told her it was cake.  When Sylvia said it was banana cake, the little girl told her it was bread.  Others might also call it bread but it has always been cake to me.  No matter what you call it, it tasted wonderful.

More healthy(ish) cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana and coconut cake (v)
Banana and yoghurt cake
Blueberry chocolate cake (v)
Coconut chai cake (v)
Healthy banana bread
Wholemeal chocolate cake
Zucchini layer cake with cream cheese frosting (gf, v)

Kitchen sink tropical fruit loaves
Adapted from The Guardian

110g aquafaba*
3 tbsp chia seeds
150g olive oil
160g berry yoghurt*
50g maple syrup
2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 red apple, peeled and grated
1 small carrot, peeled and grated
30g passionfruit seeds and pulp*
250g white spelt flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
100g LSA (ground linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds)
50g brown sugar
50g desiccated coconut
50g finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 190 C.  Grease and line 2 x 1 litre (20 x10cm) loaf tins.

Soak chia seeds in aqua faba.  Lightly whisk in oil, yoghurt and maple syrup.  Stir in bananas, apple, carrot and passionfruit.  Mix in flour, baking powder and salt then LSA, sugar, coconut and walnuts.

Scrape into prepared loaf tins and bake for 45-60 minutes.  Stand 5 minutes and then cool on a wire rack. 

NOTES:  I used the seeds and pulp of 3 passionfruits.  The aquafaba is the water drained off tinned chickpeas.  LSA is ground linseeds (aka flaxseeds), sunflower seeds and almonds.  If you don't have LSA you could use almond meal or other ground nuts.  I used berry yoghurt because that is what I had but plain would work well too.  To make the cake vegan, use coconut or another vegan yoghurt.

On the Stereo:
The Best of the Radio Songs: The Church

Monday, 22 August 2016

Cocoa Jerk Tofu

A while back my mum came over for lunch and found me putting together a cocoa jerk sauce for some tofu.  I felt slightly concerned that she tasted the marinade and told me it was really spicy.  My mum has always loved the bite of chillis far more than me.  If she thought it was hot, chances are I would.

As you can see, in the above picture, there were rather a lot of ingredients.  Yet most of them are store cupboard ingredients.  The only ingredient I didn't have was the hoisin sauce.  So I winged it with some lemon juice, plum vinegar and ume boshi vinegar.

I cooked it in my new casserole dish which makes a handsome serving dish.  The packaging said I should not bake it above 200 C.  Luckily my oven rarely reaches any temperature so I am pretty easy going about such advice.

I served the jerk tofu with roast pumpkin and brown rice.  Below is a tub of it that I took to work.  It was sort of nice but it was so hot that it left me gasping.  I reduced the spicy ingredients slightly but if I make this again I will reduce them even more.  Because I liked it but just found the heat was ratcheted up too far for my liking.  Even E agreed and he usually likes more spice than me.

So there you have my first attempt at a jerk seasoning.  I really liked its darkness if not the spiciness.  I was interested to read Cindy's post about her jerk seasoning that she bought in America and how spicy it was.  So I guess it is meant to be spicy.  The great thing about making these dishes at home is that I can taste all the flavours without too much spice for comfort.  It has taken me years since I first bookmarked a jerk seasoning recipe.  Hopefully it is not so long before I try a jerk seasoning again.

I am sending this dish to Jac for Meat Free Monday, to Choclette for We Should Cocoa, and to Kimmy and Mary Ellen for Healthy Vegan Fridays.

More chocolate savoury dishes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Cocoa Jerk Tofu
Adapted from Superfoods for Life, Cacao by Matthew Ruscigno via Tastespace

Sauce:
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup tamari
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons hot sauce (I used sriracha)*
2 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice (or balsamic vinegar)
1 tablespoon plum vinegar (or plum sauce or hoisin)
1 tablespoon ume boshi vinegar
2 teaspoons curry powder*
2 to 3 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste (I left it out)
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 tsp ground pepper* 
pinch chili powder*

300g hard tofu
1 onion
1 red pepper
1 zucchini
1/2 tomato

Mix together all the sauce ingredients.  Toss through the tofu and vegies and rest for at least 30 minutes.  Bake at 200 C for 30 minutes, turning midway through.

*NOTES: I found this really spicy (and I don't do really spicy) so next time I will reduce the asterisked items.  And I used half a tomato just because I had one there.  A whole tomato or no tomato would be fine.

On the Stereo:
Fallen Angels: Bob Dylan

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Vegan Pesto and Poppyseed Scones

Scones are such great comfort food.  They are so quick to make that they are instant gratification.  I love trying new flavours.  This week I made a batch of silverbeet, basil and pistachio pesto.  It seemed just right to use the pesto to give a batch of scones some colour and flavour. 

I had basil but not a lot.  The pistachios had been sitting my cupboard for a while and the young silverbeet (also known as chard) was given to me by my mum from her garden.  The silverbeet gave the pesto a smooth texture while the basil gave it that wonderful aroma.  I didn't have any parmesan so I decided to make a vegan pesto.

A vegan pesto deserved to be in a vegan scone.  Searching online, however, one would think that pesto scones could not be made without cheese.  With a bit of help from a Tesco recipe and my Kale scone recipe, I worked out a recipe.

The best scones seem to have quite a soft dough so I erred on the sticky side.  With a bit of flour it was fine and produced light and fluffy scones.  However this should be notes if using other pestos which can be of a thinner texture than mine.

I am particularly fond of soup and scones for dinner.  And the last couple of weeks have been a bit crazy so we didn't eat as well as usual.  I needed a decent dinner on Friday and rustled up a quick vegie and lentil soup (a bit like this soup) to eat with the scones.  It was most delicious. 

These scones are not just for meal times.  They make a nice savoury snack.  I really like them with vegemite, E thinks they would be nice with hummus and of course you can add cheese to them.

As an aside, I have finally bought a new camera.  It is still in the box but I have a new macro lens that will fit my old DSLR and my new camera.  I used the new lens in these photos.  It seems to work fine.  When I get a bit more time I will test drive my new camera and write a bit more about it.

I had meant to send these scones to Tandy at Lavender and Lime who is hosting International Scone Week but I have just seen that I missed the deadline, but do check out the scones on her sidebar. Meanwhile I am sending these to Kimmy and Mary-Ellen for Healthy Vegan Fridays.

More savoury scone recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Beetroot, apple and walnut scones (v)
Cheeseymite scones
Kale scones (v)
Leek, walnut and blue cheese scones  
Pumpkin, pecan and poppyseed scones (v)
Sweet potato and cheeze scones (v)
Walnut, brie and apple scones

Pesto and poppy seed scones
An original recipe by Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes about 20 small scones

1 cup milk (I used soy)
1/2 cup pesto*
1 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups plain wholemeal flour
1 cup self raising white flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp poppyseeds
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
50g butter or margarine
extra milk to glaze scones
extra poppy seeds to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 220 and grease a baking tray.

Mix soy milk and pesto in a large jug or small bowl.  Stir in lemon juice and set aside.

Mix flours, baking powder, poppy seeds and salt in a medium large mixing bowl.  Rub butter into flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Pour the pesto mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a knife (this is to make sure the mixture is handled as little as possible.  Knead briefly on a well floured board until you have a smooth dough.

Pat out dough to about 1.5-2cm thick on a floured board using floured hands.  Use a scone cutter to cut out scones and place on prepared tray. 

Brush scones with milk and sprinkle with poppyseeds.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Wrap scones in a tea towel and eat warm or on day of baking.

*NOTES: I used the below pesto but any pesto would work.  However the texture of the pesto would affect the texture and need for seasoning in the scones, so adjust accordingly.  The pesto below is vegan and if you also use vegan milk and  vegan margarine in the scones, they will be vegan.  When cooking scones, I like to put mine close to each other which helps them rise but they can also be spaced out.

Vegan Silverbeet, Basil and Pistachio Pesto
Adapted from Food 52 and The Vegan and The Chef
Makes about 1 cup

1 packed cup of silverbeet (swiss chard) leaves
1/2 packed cup of basil (1 bunch)
1/2 cup pistachios
6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove
good pinch salt and shake of ground pepper

Blend until smooth.

On the Stereo:
British pub songs (The London Inn): various artists

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Earth Burgers served with a surprising "cheese" sauce (vegan)


A couple of weeks back I finally made two recipes I have had on my to do list for ages.  Not just my gonna-make-it-some-day list but on my I-am-going-to -make-this-tonight-for-sure list!  And it has taken me weeks!  But I am really pleased to have finally tried the Earth Burgers and Life Changing Cheese Sauce.

It was on the week that I had a flat tyre.  It was very tiresome (indeed that pun was intended).  Not only did it happen while I was on a main road and meant sitting in a side street in the rain instead of arriving at work on time, but it also meant I had to get my spare tyre replaced and while I was at it, my friendly tyre store said I had another tyre that needed replacing.  So I had an hour or so to kill while they replaced my tyres.  Buying a Harry Potter movie was the silver lining on that afternoon!

Sylvia is smitten with Harry Potter.  I had been promising her we would get the movie of the Chambers of Secrets a few weeks before when we finished reading the book.  And so we ate this meal while watching Harry Potter and finding that the DVD was so faulty we could not watch it through to the end.  Which was fine as it was so long that we needed to watch it over a few nights.

And besides I was quite happy eating the burgers with cheese sauce.  Happy because they tasted really good and happy because a friend had taken Sylvia for a playdate after school and so I had some space in my day to make them.

I really liked the earth burgers, esp the crunch of the seeds on the outside.  They taste like hippy vegetarian food and I say that in a good way.  No pretensions and airs.  Just good honest home made grub.  I cut the nori as small as possible with scissors and used sesame oil to fry the onions but am not sure I should do that.  Nor should you lump the nori under the tofu and let it become a wet blob - stir as soon as you add it.  It was fun to squelch the mixture through your fingers when mixing.  It is like playing with playdough.  Though I should have let the hot brown rice cool a bit.  It was so hot it was a bit ouchy (as Sylvia says).  But I was racing to have it ready before I picked up Sylvia.

The cheese sauce left me puzzled.  Fi at Eat Healthy Eat Happy called a Life Changing Cheese Sauce.  Well I guess it changed Fi's life but not mine.  It tasted like well seasoned mashed potato.  So I went with my gut and added some nutritional yeast flakes and enjoyed it but it was still not that much like cheese.  I would not claim like she did that it is the best vegan cheese sauce I have tasted.  And while it is great to have a nut free cheese sauce, I depend on cheese for nutrients and often use it to boost the protein in the meal.  This sauce is a nutritional lightweight compared to others I have made.  That is not always a bad thing.  It worked brilliantly with these protein rich burgers that needed a lighter but tasty sauce.

We got a couple of good nights of meals out of the burgers and then I had a few over and more cheese sauce.  Incidentally the sauce was lovely as a dip too.  I then made a pizza with tomato sauce, crumbled burgers (they did crumble rather easily) and blobs of cheese sauce.  I scattered a little grated cheese on it but it was pretty ineffective in both adding flavour and holding the ingredients on the pizza so I would probably do without the grated cheese next time.  It was a fantastic pizza. 

I am sending these burgers and cheese sauce to Jac for Meat Free Mondays, Kimmy and Mary-Ellen for Healthy Vegan Fridays, and Cindy for Gluten Free Fridays,

More vegan burgers from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cauliflower burgers (gf v)
Chesapeake tempeh cakes (v)
Roasted beetroot tofu burgers (gf, v)
Sweet potato, chickpea and hemp seed burgers (v)
Tamale burgers with mole sauce (gf, v)
Vegemite burger (v)
Watercourse Foods tempeh burger (gf,v)

Earth Burgers
Adapted from Teresa Cutler's The Health Chef
Serves 4-6 (I think about 16 burgers)

1 tsp oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot grated
1 handful spinach, finely chopped
3 cups cooked brown rice
3 nori sheets, finely chopped
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
300 g grated firm tofu
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons tamari (soy sauce)
1 tablespoon of kale powder (optional)
sesame seeds for rolling

Preheat oven to 180 C (or 200 C if you oven is slow like mine) and line a couple of medium baking trays with baking paper.

Fry onions in oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes until mostly cooked.  Add grated carrot and stir in for a few minutes until it changes colour and looks cooked.  Remove pan from the heat and stir in chopped spinach.  Add remaining ingredients except sesame seeds.  Use your hands to mix together for 2-3 minutes to make it stick together.

Chill mixture in fridge for 30-60 minutes.  (It can also be left overnight in the fridge.)  Take handfuls of mixture and roll into patties using damp hands.  Pour some sesame seeds into a bowl (between 14 - 1/2 cup) and toss patties in seeds to coat them.  Place on baking trays and bake in oven for about 30 minutes.

Potato based vegan cheese sauce
Adapted from Eat Healthy Eat Happy

2 cups peeled, cubed potato
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
4 tsp lemon juice
4 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp tamari (soy sauce)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion granules
1/2 tsp fine salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Cook the potatoes and carrot in boiling water until soft (about 15-20 minutes).  Drain and blend.  Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

On the Stereo:
1989: Ryan Adams

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Farewell Zinc

Last week our dear cat, Zinc, suddenly became weaker and weaker until yesterday she died.  She had been diagnosed with kidney disease a few months ago and once she caught cold, her kidneys just could not cope.  She stopped eating, lost weight, could barely walk or even hold her head up.  She was 15 years old and had been with us for 9 years.  Needless to say, we are very sad and miss her terribly. 

So this post is a self indulgent retrospective, starting with the story of how we got her when she was 6 years old.  (Apologies to those who have heard it before.)  A friend had got her from the lost cats home when she was 2 years old.  She had been looking for a kitten but took Zinc instead.  The staff were delighted because they had been meant to put her down but she had such a lovely nature that they couldn't bear to.  Four years later my friend decided to find a new home for Zinc due to allergies.

I grew up with lots of dogs about us and said I would never live with a cat but E grew up with cats and was keen to have one.  Zinc really was his cat, though Sylvia and I were very fond of her.

She took to our home and soon was up on the fence showing us who was king of the castle!  She loved to sit on this fence and watch us.

She loved us to scratch her chin for her but would scratch it herself on anything she could.  The lamp above was a favourite place for a scratch until she knocked it onto the floor and broke it.  She also loved to scratch her chin against my computer while I was on it and the couch was a favourite place to scratch her claws.

Zinc was a blessing in difficult times.  She had a calming presence and gave us many laughs.

When Sylvia was born, we were concerned about how Zinc would welcome her.  Zinc was curious.  So was Sylvia.  When Sylvia got too close, Zinc would just pat her gently with her paw or walk away. 

As Sylvia grew older, she loved playing with Zinc, though Zinc did not always do as she wanted and at times Sylvia did not want Zinc sleeping in her "house".  Her friends also loved to see her when they visited.

Zinc loved being outdoor.  She would often make a racket (almost as loud as when she used the litter tray) demanding to go outside.  Once out she would often want to in and out constantly, much to our chagrin.  Though she loved to watch for other cats at the back gate and to sleep in the sun at the front.

Unfortunately, being a white cat, she was very sensitive to the sun and had to stay in most of the day during summer to avoid sunburn.  For a time we put suncream on her nose and ears which resulted in black marks where she rubbed herself in the dirt. 

She sometimes came inside looking grey from rolling in the dirt but always washed herself and kept herself clean.

She would not sit on our laps but loved to be picked up and cuddled or just to sit beside us while we went about our business.  She loved to sleep on the bed when we went to sleep, sometimes tapping E's nose to he would lift the covers for her.

Sometimes I would take Sylvia for a walk around the block and Zinc would come part of they way with us.  Or she would wait outside on the footpath for E to get home from work.

She was a creature of habit and often found a spot where she would sleep for weeks on end.  Then suddenly we couldn't find her and would search until we found her new spot.  Her sleeping spots included window sills, beds, couches, blankets, shelves, the pram and even the doll's cot.

As she grew older she grew less active and slept even more.  I love this above photo because it shows just how soft and fluffy she was.  Below is one of the last photos of her wrapped in a blanket.

We feel lucky to have spent 9 years with Zinc.  E thinks we might get another cat some time.  I guess so but right now it is hard to think I could ever meet another cat who has such a lovely and gently nature as Zinc.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Macaroni cheese pies, sick cat and olympics

It has been an interesting week.  After a flat tyre last week, this week has brought the drama of a sick cat, the fun of the Olympic games and the comfort of macaroni and cheese pies.

Let me start with Zinc our cat not being well.  She is 15 years old which is quite elderly for a cat and recently was diagnosed with kidney disease.  Last week she was sneezing and this week she has been off her food and bleeding from the nose.  Yesterday I took her to the vet, fearing the worst, and found she had a cold.  Which seems minor but she is still struggling to eat.  We could barely syringe a few drops of yoghurt into her tonight.  It is a worry!  (Update: Zinc died just a few days after this post.)

[To be clear: Zinc does not wear winter woollens when she has a cold.  It is an old photo I found which seemed fitting.  Sylvia  had draped something green over her and it looked like a scarf!]

But back to the macaroni cheese pies.  I have had Shaheen's macaroni cheese pies recipe bookmarked for ages.  Then when we were in Scotland in March, E bought some from the supermarket.  They were such great comfort food.  I returned determined to make them myself.  (While they are popular in Scotland, they are harder to find in Australia.)

So when I made them a few months ago, they were not quite right.  I was out of butter or margarine and could only use oil in the roux.  The crusty hot water pastry was too thick and using muffin tins meant there was not enough filling.  The oven turned itself off.  Don't get me wrong!  We loved them but I knew I could improve them.

A few months later I tried again.  This time I tried veganising the pastry I made for homity pies by using aquafaba instead of egg.  It worked wonderfully.  Then I added a bit of aquafaba into the cheese sauce and it was such a good cheese sauce.  Coincidence?  I loved these so much that I spent the next day wondering how long was reasonable to wait until I had one.  It is worth noting that while the cheese sauce was incredible creamy and glossy when first made, it thickened and lost its gloss after a while but that was fine in the pies.  I really loved the melted cheese and slightly cooked edges of pasta on top of the pies.

Dinner was late.  I gave Sylvia some macaroni cheese to eat without waiting for it to cook in pastry.  We ate our pies in front of the telly so we could watch some Olympics.  We don't watch much sport in our house but we have watched a bit of the Rio Olympics.  I have particularly enjoyed seeing some men's gymnastics.  E really loved seeing some soccer.  It was quite amusing that he was yelling at the tv in a way we don't usually hear!  I have seen a few events where the commentators suggest anything but a gold is a disappointment but it is interesting to see that the competitors are just delighted to get any Olympic medal.  Sylvia has asked me why we only see Australian competitors being interviews! 

Strangely enough when I made the first pies, Sylvia loved the filling but not keen on base, but for this batch she couldn't get enough of the pastry but not so interested in the filling.  I loved one at room temperature for lunch but am not sure I am ready to waste them in Sylvia's lunchbox.

On the first day we had these pies, I served them with some spinach and cherry tomatoes.  On the second day we went a bit more fancy.  I made some miso harissa roasted pumpkin.  While it baked I worked on an eggplant side dish that was a bit of experimenting.  I roasted some olive oil drizzled eggplant cubes until soft, added red capsicum, cherry tomatoes and chickpeas.  I used some lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and white pepper and roasted until everything softened.  It was really nice and if I can make it again with some more accurate notes I will write it up.

I was especially pleased with my shortcrust pastry as it was my first time using my new blender blow attachment for pastry.  It worked really well.

We really loved these pies.  They disappeared quickly and we would have welcomed more.  I suspect there will be requests for me to make these again soon.

I am sending this to Pasta Please and Meat Free Mondays.

More pasta bakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Green lasagne with broccoli and rocket pesto
Neofolk buckwheat pasta bake (gf)
Pumpkin and tofu ricotta cannelloni (v)
Tempeh and pumpkin lasagne (v)  
Spaghetti pie (v)
Vegetarian enchilada pasta bake (v)

Macaroni cheese pies
Makes 8 pies

1 batch shortcrust pastry - see below
200g macaroni
3 tbsp butter or margarine
3 tbsp wholemeal flour
1 1/2 cup milk (I used soy)
1/4 cup aqua faba
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp seeded mustard
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
150g extra tasty cheese
grated and added to sauce
50g extra cheese on top

Put on macaronni to cook in salted water according to the packet instructions.  (About 8 minutes for my pasta.)

Meanwhile, fry butter and flour a few minutes until it smells cooked and usually will change colour slightly (ie make a roux).  Slowly add milk and aquafaba, stirring constantly until liquid is incorporated into roux.  Add salt, mustard and paprika and 150g grated cheese.  Stir in macaroni once cooked.

Cut pastry into eight pieces, gently knead each into a ball and roll out each to fit 8 greased small pie tins. (Mine were about 10cm in diameter.)  Fill pie with macaroni cheese.  Sprinkle with extra 50g grated cheese.  Bake at 220 C for 20 minutes.

Vegan shortcrust pastry*
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

125g/4oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling
125g/4oz wholemeal flour
150g/5oz butter
2-3 tbsp aquafaba (chickpea brine)

Rub butter into flours and then mix in aquafaba.  This can be done in the food processor.  Knead briefly to form a round, wrap in clingfilm and refridgerate for about 30 minutes.

*NOTES - I also made these with a half batch of crusty hot water pastry in muffin tins - which was ok but I tried to press it into muffin tins and it was too thick and too low a ratio of macaroni cheese to pastry.  I think it might work in the bigger tins if rolled out thinner but it may need longer than the shortcrust pastry in the oven.

On the Stereo:
As Time Goes By: Brian Ferry

Monday, 8 August 2016

Truffled cashew cheese for Sage tempeh sausage wraps using Spelt flatbreads

I don't often have my brother over to lunch so I was delighted that, when we were organising a recent lunch, he was keen to cook with me.  The initial idea was to make spelt wraps because Paul was after spelt recipes.  Once I know he was on board to help out, I went all out on a fancypants wrap of cashew cream cheese, lavender fried shallots, sage tempeh patties and baby spinach.  Inspired by Street Vegan.  If only every lunch time was so much fun and so delicious!

I had already tried two of the components of our meal before.  The first was the truffle cashew cheese.  I bought truffle oil from an airport when visiting Paris earlier this year.   I will never eat anything with truffle oil again without thinking of that trip. 

At Orly Airport we had bought a few last purchases including the truffle oil.  Then began the queuing to get through customs.  We were told that it was ok to take liquids through customs as we stood in queue.  Someone else told us to leave the lengthy queue use the automatic passport scanner but when we got there we were told that we should have registered and Sylvia was not able to use it as she was not yet 8 years old.  Finally, when I walked through the body scanner, I saw an officer was speaking disapprovingly in French and holding up my truffle oil at the same time that Sylvia was nervous at going through the scanner after me.  Then we waited for ages in a cramped waiting area for a late plane.  Sylvia fondly remembers that she was first on that plane!

It took me ages to work out what to do with the truffle oil.  Then I found truffle cashew cheese in Adam Sobel's Street Vegan which I borrowed from Faye of Veganopoulous.  And because it wasn't quite right for me I found a similar recipe online which suited.  I loved it.  The truffle oil makes it rich but in a good way.   It was great in dips and sandwiches.  Above is a ciabatta with truffle cashew cheese, avocado and grated carrot.

Later I made some of the Sage Tempeh Sausage Patties from Street Vegan.  I was intrigued at the idea of blending up tempeh with seasonings and baking them to make sausage patties.  It worked pretty well though I felt that the flavour of the fennel seeds were a bit intense.  We all enjoyed them.  Sylvia even ate one or two.

I also decided to stick with my regular sourdough flatbread recipe and substitute spelt for wheat flour rather than trying another online spelt flatbread recipe.  This was a good decision as I tried the latter recipe on another day and found those flatbreads to be dry and disappointing.

By the time that Paul arrived, though I had quite a bit of cooking to do, most of it was something I had done before.  Street Vegan is a great cookbook with lots of really interesting reflections on food truck culture and the history of the Cinnamon Snail Food Truck where a lot of the food in the book is sold.  The recipes are not for beginners but are great to make for a special occasion or when there is team cooking.

Paul is quite a fearless cook and happy to divvy up the tasks.  I started on the cashew cheese and he got the lavender shallots underway.  Then he started on the sage tempeh sausage patties while I started to fry up the flatbreads.

The original recipe in Street Vegan for the shallots was Lavender Roasted Shallots.  But my oven is so slow when it comes to roasting that I thought frying them might work better.  We fried them gently in the roasting marinade while we prepared other components of the meal.  I reduced the lavender and felt it was enough for me.

I really liked the Sage Tempeh Sausage Patties.  The ones I made with Paul had a better flavour.  The raw mixture was quite sweet but it was less noticeable once cooked.  (Hence my 2-3 tbsp maple syrup in the below recipe to remind me to start with 2 tbsp and see if it was enough next time.)  Blending seasoned tempeh is brilliant in imitating sausage meat.  However we forgot the wheatgerm when doing them with Paul and they were a bit soft as a result.

I really loved the truffle cashew cheese.  It is soft and smooth like a creamy dip.  It is a cheese for spreading rather than grating or slicing.  I was happy that there seemed to lots of this for another day.  Just the soft of vegan cheese spread I love to have in the fridge.

And everything tasted brilliant when wrapped in a soft spelt flatbread.  I was really pleased how the spelt flour worked in my usual recipe.  It wasn't completely spelt as there is white flour in my sourdough starter.  But it was the sort of spelt recipe that Paul had been seeking.

Finally everything was ready and the table set.  We sat down and stuffed our flatbreads and were well and truly satisfied with an excellent lunch.  The patties were served in sliders in the book but it was the flatbreads that I had originally planned to make.  I would love to try more dishes from Street Vegan but many dishes seem quite complex like this and most days I just don't have time.  However I am very pleased to have made an approximation of one of the amazing recipes in the book.

I am sending this to Jacqueline for Meat Free Mondays, Kimmy and Mary Ellen for Healthy Vegan Fridays and Kirsty, Mandy and Eb for Cook Blog Share.

More tempeh recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chesapeake tempeh cakes (v) 
Pumpkin and kale soup with tempeh crumbles (gf, v)
Tamarind Tempeh with Noodles (v)
Tempeh and corn soup (gf, v)
Tempeh and pumpkin lasagne (v)
Watercourse Foods tempeh burger (gf,v)

Sage Tempeh Sausage Wraps
see below for component recipes

Truffle cashew cheese
Spelt flatbreads
Tempeh sausage patties
Lavender roasted shallots
Baby spinach

Spread truffle cashew cheese over the middle of a flatbread, pile with sausage patties, shallots and spinach.  Roll up and devour!

Truffle cashew cheese
Adapted from Nutrition Stripped

1 cup raw cashews (soaked for 1hr or more)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp truffle oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cloves garlic
2-3 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp sea salt

Blend until smooth.  Keeps for quite a few days in fridge in sealed container.

Spelt Flatbreads
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes 4

*250g sourdough starter (100% hydration - straight from fridge without feeding)
*200g spelt flour
50g filtered water
pinch salt

Mix all ingredients and knead briefly until you have a smooth firm ball of dough.  Cut into four.  Roll out each portion as thin as possible (about a 0.5cm thick) on a lightly floured board .

Heat a heavy based non-stick frypan over a high heat.  Place a round of dough onto the pan.  Heat for a few minutes or until it balloons up and brown spots appear on the other side.  Flip over, flatten with an eggflip or spatula and fry another minute or two until you have some brown spots on the other side.  I tend to brush out the flour from the pan (with a kitchen towel) before frying the next one so it isn't covered in burnt flour.  Best eaten on day of frying.

Tempeh sausages patties
Adapted from Street Vegan

300g packet of tempeh
3 tbsp white miso
1/4 cup chopped sage leaves
2-3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp chilli paste
1/3 cup wheatgerm

Blend everything together to form a sticky but fairly thick mixture.  (We did this using a stick blender in a jug.)  Using damp hands shape small handfuls into patties..  Place on lined oven tray.  Bake for 20-30 min at 200 C until slightly browned but still quite soft.  (My own is quite slow so I did not worry but Street Vegan warned not to dry them out.)

Lavender fried shallots
Adapted from Street Vegan

1 tsp dried edible lavender flowers
2 tbsp seeded mustard
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp agave nectar
2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tbsp tamari
3 tbsp olive oil
7 shallots

Cover shallots with boiling water to loosen the skin then peel and slice lengthways.  (Discard soaking water.)  In a medium bowl mix lavender, mustard, vinegar, agave, liquid smoke, tamari and olive oil.  Fry in large heavy based nonstick frypan for 20-30 minutes over medium heat or until shallots soft and caramelised.

On the stereo:
Marvin the Album: Frente