Thursday, 5 March 2015

RAW VANILLA PLUM CHEESECAKE





I had a whole lot of people asking me how to make this after I posted this picture on instagram. So here it is! I made it in an 18cm springform cake tin but you can also make these in individual moulds which is quite cute.

This was originally supposed to be a vanilla berry cheesecake but half way through I realised I didn't have any berries so I just used some plums I had in the fridge and it worked out great! The plums gave an amazing colour and nice tartness in comparison to the sweet vanilla layer. I would usually use coconut oil to make this but I had run out of that as well, almond oil works fine but it's quite pricey so I wouldn't go crazy and start pouring it all over everything... Alright? Good.

Base

70g raw brazil nuts
70g raw almonds
1 cup dates
1 Tbsp coconut oil/almond oil

Filling

1.
200g raw cashews - soaked overnight
2 Tbsp maple syrup/honey/agave
1 Tbsp coconut oil/almond oil
Vanilla paste
Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon

2. 
1 - 2 medium size frozen bananas
10 black dorris plums or 1 cup berries of your choice
Vanilla paste

Add all the base ingredients to a food processor and mix until it becomes crumbly. If you want to go all fancy buy the nice juicy medjool dates I only had regular ones at the time and they work fine too. Press mixture into a springform cake tin and put it in the fridge while you make the fillings. I also line my cake tin with paper it's more out of habit than anything but I find it makes it slightly easier when it comes to transferring it on to a plate.





Blend the filling ingredients on high until creamy and lump free - this takes about five minutes. Transfer 80% of it on to the base and put back in the fridge.



Put the bananas, plums or berries and vanilla paste into the food processor with the remaining cashew mix and blend until smooth, pour mixture over vanilla layer and place in the freezer for 2 hours or longer.







Also, there's this cat called Bert who frequently comes around to our house. He has attacked both me and Dano quite viciously (I have a physical scar Dano has an emotional one) but he is just so adorable! He also broke into our house and made himself a bed in a cardboard box in our loft - I have caught him sleeping up there three times! Here is a series of crappy iPhone photos as evidence.

Broken catdoor
Cross-eyed Bert climbs up the ladder
Bert in his bed
Bert in the window
Bert asleep on Dano





Sunday, 7 July 2013

POLENTA WITH SPICY CHICKPEA RAGU // POLENTA CHIPS

I love hearty dishes like this in winter and this ragu is ideal for cooking on a lazy afternoon. The chickpeas add a nice bite and a bit of protein however you could also use cannellini beans or any other white bean. I use trusty tinned beans but if you can be bothered soaking dried beans and cooking them first they are supposed to give a better flavour.

I find using dried beans to be a bit of a gamble as you never know how long they have been sitting around for before you buy them. I bought a bag of haricot beans from the bulk bins in Commonsense but they were still really hard even after soaking and cooking for what seemed like an eternity - I'm blaming the quality of the bean not my cooking technique!

This is a simple sauce so if you want to bulk up the flavour you could add olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or spinach - add the spinach toward the end of cooking so it wilts but still keeps its colour. If you're not in a polenta mood, the ragu would be delicious slathered over a pile of quinoa, farro or simply mopped up with a chunk of crusty bread or served alongside a big stack of steamed veges.



BONUS!!! Left over polenta can magically transform into delicious polenta chips. Amazing! For anyone who hasn't had polenta chips they are like a glorious combination of popcorn and corn chips - I'm surprised these bad boys don't make more of an appearance on bar snack menu things in Wellington. Can't a girl can get a good polenta chip when she's out? Is that too much to ask? Is it?!





Ragu - serves 4

Ingredients.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 cloves garlic minced
2 tsp chili flakes
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tin tomatoes
1 tin chickpeas, rinsed

Method.

Heat a frying pan, add the oil and when hot add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook over a medium heat until slightly coloured then add the tomato paste and chili flakes and cook for another 2 - 3 minutes. Add the tinned  tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook for at least 20 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. If you want a smooth sauce transfer it to a blender and blitz on high for a few minutes - you could also just blend half the mixture if you want a chunkier sauce. Add the chickpeas and stir through the sauce, leave on a low heat until ready to serve or set aside and reheat. 

Polenta.

2 cups hot vegetable stock
400g polenta
1/2 cup non dairy milk - optional
Sliced spring onions
Sliced parsley
Pinch of salt

Method.

Most packets come with instructions on how to cook the polenta but here's how I made mine, I feel like I should have used more stock so keep some handy just incase. Whisk the hot stock into a little whirl pool and slowly rain in the polenta, whisking constantly until all added. Cook over a medium heat for 20 - 25 minutes stirring every few minutes with a wooden spoon. Add the milk, salt and some of the parsley and stir through.

Spread the polenta on to a wooden board and pour the ragu over the top. Add the spring onions and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.



Polenta Chips with Cayenne Salt

Chips.

Spread left over polenta onto a flat surface and leave to cool. Slice into shapes and shallow fry in hot oil until golden. Place cooked polenta chips on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Sprinkle liberally with cayenne salt, fresh herbs and spring onions and serve.

These would be amazing with some guacamole so if you can get your hands on a nice ripe creamy avocado, whip up some guac with fresh coriander, lime juice and a tiny bit of garlic (I actually like raw garlic) or serve with a good dollop of tomato sauce.

Cayenne Salt.

3 Tbsp flaky salt
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp of ground cayenne pepper
1/2 a tsp of chili flakes



Tuesday, 25 June 2013

ORANGE AND CHIA CUPCAKES WITH LIME ICING

These are one of my best cupcake creations to date, and even though cupcakes have been done to death there is something nice about having a perfect little cake all to yourself. These are quick and easy to make and the intensity of the orange flavour is amazing.



Cupcakes. 

FYI This should make 12 standard size cupcakes but I like mine extra big so this recipe only made 9.

1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup rice bran oil or any other neutral oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest and juice of 2 oranges - just under 1/2 a cup of orange juice
1 cup flour
1/3 cup almond meal
4 Tbsp cornmeal or polenta
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp chia seeds

Method.

Preheat the oven to 180 and line a cupcake tray with paper liners. Whisk milk and vinegar in a bowl and leave to sit for a few minutes until it has thickened, it should be the consistency of thin yoghurt. Add the sugar and whisk until disolved, then add the oil, vanilla and the orange zest and juice and mix. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, almond meal, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the sifted dry ingredients and chia seeds to the wet ingredients in two batches and beat until smooth.

Pour into cupcake liners, filling 3/4 of the way and bake for 15 - 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before icing.



Icing.

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup Olivani or similar
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
Zest of one small lime
Juice of half a lime
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp non-dairy milk

Method.

I don't usually measure this out when I make it so you may need more or less of these ingredients depending on your taste. Use electric beaters if you have them! Beat the oil and Olivani together until there are no lumps and it is fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. Liberally ice the cooled cupcakes and store in an airtight container for up to four days.


Friday, 24 May 2013

AUCKLAND EATS // BREAKFAST// FEDERAL AND WOLFE EDITION + RECIPE

Federal and Wolfe - Voted Auckland's Best Cafe 2011 in the Cafe and Magazine Awards

I have eaten here many times but I must say, I have been overwhelmingly disappointed with my last few experiences. My most recent order was the vegetarian breakfast sans eggs, which on the menu sounded rather delicious but in real life was a tad lackluster. Described as something along the lines of the 'Big Wolfe Breakfast' (not 100% sure on the name of this) I was expecting a little more than what was placed in front of me. The breakfast consisted of one sliced up tomato, half a sliced avocado, two mushrooms, a scoop of lentils and a vigorous sprinkling of parsley over everything.

This is a picture of me, gazing out the window and dreaming of a place that serves great breakfasts.

Imma break this down for you... 

What it said on the menu: Vine ripened tomatoes
What I wanted: Deliciously red sweet tomatoes.
What I got: Raw watery tasteless tomato.

Now I may have been unlucky and received a dud tomato but I still think a raw tomato is an odd addition to a cooked breakfast. It was also listed on the menu as $5 to add to any meal and nothing gets me more peeved than cafes ludicrously overcharging for things e.g avocado - I'll get to this later.
*See below for my recipe idea that involves dud tomatoes!*

What it said on the menu: Fried mushrooms
What I wanted: Flavourful fried mushrooms
What I got: Mushrooms fried in their own juice, soggy but chewy at the same time.

Fried mushrooms with garlic, salt and pepper are one of my most favourite things to eat - add in some fresh herbs and maybe some spices and you have yourself a delicious meal or accompaniment. Unfortunately these mushrooms were a bit sad as they had basically boiled in there own juice, on a positive note they still had a great earthy mushroom flavour.

What it said on the menu: Avocado
What I wanted: Avocado
What I got: Avocado

Even the worst cook can do no wrong when it comes to a good ripe avocado. I love avocado in any form and I especially love avocado with a good squeeze of lemon juice and lots of salt and pepper. This was also listed as $5 on the menu! I actually almost hulked out and started flipping tabels and smashing everything in site. When did paying $5 for approximately six slices of avocado become acceptable?!

What it said on the menu: Wolfe lentils
What I wanted: Hearty tasty lentils
What I got: Hearty tasty lentils. Rejoice!

These lentils were the savior of this dish - a deliciously rich chunky homestyle tomato based sauce with a whole bunch of flavour! They lacked seasoning but I didn't mind as there was enough pink Himalayan salt in Federal and Wolfe to supply all of Auckland. I could have eaten a whole bowl of these lentils and I will definitely be ordering them again (they are also listed as a $5 side on the menu) sometime in the near future.



So far this has been quite negative and as it is my first attempt at a review I have precisely six good things to say.

1. 
Organic, free range and vegan friendly menu.

2.
Good location.

3.
Huge windows that let in lots of sunlight.

4. 
Serves Kokako Coffee.

5. 
All tabels are provided with fancy pink salt.

6.
The service was alright.

Federal and Wolfe also have a range of fresh juices available. I ordered The Zinger which is a delightful combination of apple, pear, lime and ginger juice. So fresh! So tangy!


My advice to anyone planning to eat at Federal and Wolfe...

1.
Order the toast with a side of lentils - the bread will soak up the lentil juices perfectly!

2.
Order a fresh juice.

3.
Sit in the window in the sun.

4.
Don't go on Sunday - they're closed.

*Dud Tomatoes*

If you end up with some tomatoes that are a bit yuck don't dispair you can still use them to make this! Apologies for the terrible photos.



Ingredients.
Tomatoes
Rosemary
Garlic
Lemon peel
Salt and pepper
Assorted spices
Brown sugar
Olive oil

Method.
Chuck everything in a roasting tray or cast iron pan and put in the oven until they have caramalised and reduced. Serve with warm crusty bread.


Saturday, 11 May 2013

BELGIUM BISCUITS


This is my take on Belgium Biscuits, I don't know why they are called Belgium Biscuits but I do know that they are pretty tasty. Be sure to have a cup of tea handy when you eat these, they tend to be a little dry but they definitely make the cut to my Top 5 Biscuits list. 

Two deliciously crumbly spiced biscuits filled with thick gloopy raspberry jam and coated with rose water icing… 



Biscuits. 
Makes 8 - 10 large double layer biscuits

Large1/2 cup coconut/canola oil – a mix is fine
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp black strap molasses – optional
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp cocoa

Icing.
1 cup icing sugar
1 - 2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
2 -3 Tbsp strained beetroot juice/dark plum juice
1 - 2 tsp rose water

Filling.
About 1/2 cup raspberry jam

Method.

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Cream oil/margarine and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add molasses and vanilla essence and mix to combine. Sift flour, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice, and cocoa into the bowl and then mix into combine and make a firm dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer.

On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to about 4mm thick. Cut out and even amount of shapes or rounds – don’t go too small or intricate with the cutter you want them to be nice and big!

Bake at 180 C for 12 - 15 minutes or until cooked. Leave to cool on a baking tray. Once cooled cover half the biscuits with pink icing and the other half with jam, sandwich them together.

To make the icing, mix all ingredients until smooth and spreadable. 









Wednesday, 8 May 2013

PIZZA


Store bought pizza crusts are gross and weird. Why go to all the effort of assembling a pizza if you aren't going to make the base? This is an Alison Holst no fail (60% of the time - works every time) pizza base recipe that I have been using for years. You can also make it ahead of time and leave it in a warm place until you are ready to use it, for example - make it before work and leave it in the hot water cupboard. Better living everyone!

Top it with your favourite ingredients and it is guaranteed to be better than any pizza take-out you will ever buy! It's a great way to use up any left overs you have in the fridge and it tastes amazing eaten cold the next day! I somehow managed to get my hands on some delicious asparagus, although it's not in season at the moment I really felt like eating it.

Unfortunately I ate all the pizza before taking a photo of it, it was really good! Covered with chilli oil and served with a pile of blanched asparagus it made for a very tasty meal.

Pizza base.
1 1/4 cups warm water
3 Tbsp sugar/honey/agave
1 Tbsp dried yeast
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour - I used a combination of white spelt and wholemeal spelt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Method.
Dissolve the sugar in the warm water then sprinkle in the yeast granules. Add the oil and then stir gently for a few seconds. Leave to stand for at least five minutes to allow the yeast to begin acting. Once the yeast mixture has begun to bubble and looks a little foamy, add the remaining ingredients. Stir everything together until the dough begins to come away at the sides of the bowl and form one large ball. Knead for a few minutes then place in an oiled bowl to rest for 20 - 30 minutes, although this is not necessary it is a good chance to start prepping your toppings. 

For this pizza I used: finely sliced potato (can be raw or cooked), asparagus, capsicum, red onion, garlic, rosemary, olive oil, cracked black pepper and lots of smoked salt.

Once you have prepared your toppings, roll out pizza dough and place on an oiled tray or pizza stone - I strongly recommend investing in a pizza stone they are amazing. Let the dough rest for another ten minutes then cover with your favourite toppings! 

Bake in a preheated oven at 230ºC for 15 minutes, until the underside is golden brown and the toppings are cooked. Serve with blanched vegetables or a fresh green salad.

Makes one large or two small pizzas.

Some of my favourite toppings.

Leftover refried beans
Marinated tofu/tempeh
Eggplant
Capsicum
Mushrooms
Red/white onion
Sun-dried tomato
Garlic
Pesto
Artichoke hearts
Olives
Thinly sliced potato
Roasted bell peppers
Asparagus
Courgette
Broccoli
Spinach/Rocket
Leftover roasted pumpkin
Cashews, almonds, roasted pumpkin seeds
Chillies
Fresh herbs - basil, rosemary, oregano