Monday, 26 January 2015

Vegan Sticky Orange Cake

sticky vegan orange cake
Vegan Sticky Orange Cake w/ Orange Drizzle!
So, first of all, I'm not vegan.I have to get this off my chest, because I hate the stigma associated with vegan food. You tell someone that you've made something vegan and they automatically frown and think “Ew gross you're feeding us wheatgrass and chia seeds!” I don't understand this stigma. In fact I don't understand why there's such a dependence on meat and animal products in general. If I really think about eating animal biproducts I can really make myself sick. This is why I don't. I tend to eat higher welfare meat when I do eat it, and I am generally careful about where I source ingredients. It's in your best interests to keep watch over things that go into your body instead of becoming completely complacent about things!!

Ok rant over, now that we're past my little rant, I want to talk about my orange cake. I have had in my mind for a while now that I wanted an orange cake of some kind. I know the fundamentals of a plain sponge and I can make one quite easy, but I really wanted to use some ground almonds and...I wanted to keep it healthy, and maybe vegan. So I did a little research on how to lighten things up and how to substitute eggs in a cake. Apparently it's really easy to do as I've found out. While the cake isn't exactly what I was going for in my mind, it definitely turned out to be a great treat and I will definitely try to use the base of the recipe as a blank canvas to try many other confections. The best part about this cake is there's nothing weird and wonky in it to get it moving or to get it the right texture or whatever.

sticky vegan orange cake
*Disclaimer: Ok, so here's the thing, baking is somewhat of an experimental thing for me, and this cake was no different. I originally took the cake out of the oven too soon even though the toothpick came out clean. It had risen really high so I took it out and shot lots of photos. I came back a few minutes later and it completely fell in the centre bc it wasn't done! OOPS. I put it back in the oven and cooked it but I couldn't save the soggy I decided to cut it out with a ring mould and make it a bundt cake ut I'm sure it will be fine next time. I just was careless!!


sticky vegan orange cake
Ingredient List
1 ½ c. plain flour
½ c. ground almonds
1/3 c. oil (I used sunflower)
¾ c. white granulated sugar
½ c. brown sugar (I used dark muscovado)
1 ½ tbsp. Cider vinegar
1 ½ tsp. Baking soda
½ tsp. Salt
Zest of two oranges
250ml orange juice

For the Glaze: (I winged this, you can try whatever you want)
1c. icing sugar
½ c. orange juice
50g sliced almonds

To Start:
Very important to pre-heat the oven to 175C or 350F
Next measure out all of the ingredients so you're ready to mix.
Prepare the pans for baking

To Mix:
First mix together flour, ground almonds baking soda, salt.
In a larger bowl, mix together oil, orange juice, orange zest, sugars, vanilla, and cider vinegar.
Mix thoroughly and quickly add in the dry ingredients and mix to combine.

To Bake:
Pour into your prepared pans as soon as possible and get it into the oven.
Bake for 45-1hr.
Depending on your oven, check at 45 minutes and remember my disclaimer – it will look risen enough. Be absolutely sure before you pull it out.

For the Glaze:
Sift icing sugar into a small pan.
Add the orange juice and wisk heavily to remove any lumps.
Bring to a boil and boil down to a thick syrup.
Add almonds and optional orange zest and drizzle on your cake.
sticky vegan orange cake
Dollop Greek Yogurt :)

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Crispy Tofu with Orange Sauce

crispy tofu with orange sauce
Good with orange, lemon, teriyaki sauces!
First of all if you're reading this hello!

Welcome back me. It's been a while. I've been trying to do some work on images and setting up a new layout for my blog. It hasn't all transpired yet so I will just take some time to write a few things and post them as I go!

Anyways, as the new year came in I, like anyone else is more concerned about my waistline. Who isn't around new year? Well, as I wash away all of the holiday pounds, I also want to be more concious of how much meat I eat. Generally over the past two years I only eat meat 1-2 a week and on the weekend I usually do a big roast dinner. I'm not planning on cutting back that much, but I'm planning on being a bit more cncious of what I'm eating. I don't want to be a vegetarian but it makes me wonder sometimes at what point we became so dependant on beasts. Meat. Beef. Chicken. Pork. Whatever it is...we're dependant on it as a main staple of our meals. I think about the early people that roamed the earth and wonder what it was like to live off the land and eat meat when it was just a treat....

Ah, what at hought. Anyway's, this is some crispy tofu. I have never really liked tofu only dishes. I've always seen that really crispy tofu and wondered, “How the heck do they get it so crispy?” I never really tried to find out but I had some tofu laying around and a few ingredients and decided to whip something up. Of course this recipe is simply really just for the crispy tofu. You can change anything in the recipe to suit your own tastes, anything that you might want to replce chicken with tofu. Lemon tofu? Sesame tofu? Teriyaki tofu? The list goes on and on. Of course those were just asian suggestions bc it goes so well with those flavours!

Ok get on this folks. This is a simple recipe just for one person, as I didn't make a whole meal from it but use the method to suit your needs.

300g firm tofu
125ml orange juice
zest of one orange
2 tsp. Brown sugar
2 tbsp. Soy sauce
1 tsp. Rice vinegar
½ tsp. Sesame oil
1 tbsp. Corn flour
oil for frying

To Start:
First we want to drain the tofu by placing it in between two plates and weight it down for about 30 minutes.
Keep replacing the kitchen roll to remove excess moisture.

While the tofu is draining, bring the orange juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil up to a gentle boil in a suacepan.
Check and stir constantly to prevent burning.
Leave to simmer until it's a thick syrupy sauce.

To Finish:
Cut the tofu in big cubes and dredge in cornflour.
Heat up the oil and fry fry fry. Make sure not to touch until it moves away from the pan with ease otherwise it will make a mess.
When crispy, pour in the sauce and toss to perfection.
Garnish with spring onions and serve with rice.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Roasted Duck Leg Ragu with Raisins

roast duck leg ragu with raisins
Serve with lots of Parmesan!
Who doesn't love ragu? I love it, and I'm usually partial to a long stewed beef ragu. I decided to see what I could do with some duck. I had an idea for a long time that duck would be good stewed as a ragu. When I got hold of some duck. it was duck legs on the bone and instead of boiling or deboning the legs I decided to roast them. After I roasted the legs I took the meat off the bone and then started the sauce. The result was amazing, in my opinion of course. I admit the idea for using the raisins wasn't just from a recipe that I previously read from Jamie Oliver, but I think the similarities are spot on and he knows what he's talking about here. Mostly when you cook something for a long time, it tends to get bitter. When cooking different types of cuisines that play on that sweet and sour note, you tend to have an instinct to throw in a dried fruit of some kind to counteract the bitterness that sometimes tinned tomatoes can cause. My mom and most recipes when cooking a bolognese call to add a bit of brown sugar or something. The raisins seemed to be a perfect hit and really fell apart and dissipated in the sauce and you'd never know they were there. Everything about this recipe is great especially the fact that you can do it ahead. You can roast the legs well in advance and take the meat off the bone and let it sit for a few days if you want. The sauce itself only takes a bit of boiling for about 45 minutes, and the results are really amazing.

I think this is a fantastic dish for anyone to try if they want minimal amount of work to impress someone. If you make the duck ahead of time then there's little to nothing to do for the sauce. I served this with store made fresh pasta and the second time I made it I tried to make my own pasta. I don't recommend ruining such a nice dish with your own experimentals, but definitely get hold of some good tagliatelle or pappardelle, something nice and thick to soak up the sauce. Serve with some nice garlic bread and a rocket salad. This recipe serves 2-3, but you can easily double the ingredients for a larger amount.

2 duck legs
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 medium carrot
1 rib celery
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
250ml red wine
¼ c. raisins or sultanas
1 sprig rosemary (leaves removed and chopped)
½ tbsp. Olive oil
Salt and pepper

To Start:
Place the duck legs in a small pan and roast for a couple of hours on 180C.
When done set aside and cool to room temperature, then remove the meat from the bone.

For the Ragu:
Dice the onion, celery and carrot and crush the garlic.
In a medium saucepan heat the oil, when hot add in the celery, carrot and onion saute for about 5 minutes.
Next add the wine and boil for another 2-3 minutes or until the alcohol evaporates.
When it's at least reduced by half, add in the tinned tomatoes and the can of water.
Bring to a boil and then add in the garlic raisins and duck meat.
When the sauce is back up to a boil, turn down to a low-medium heat and boil for about 30-45 minutes. You want a thick consistency, and check for salt and pepper at the end.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Filo Wrapped Salmon with Pesto

This is a recipe revamp today and I'm surprisingly excited to share it. It was good when I wrote it about 4 years ago and it's been one of my most popular recipes. The original photo is here but, I decided to re-photograph it and just revisit it to make sure it still tasted good! And from my new perspective on food and eating, I needed to see if it would fit in my diet! To be honest, it didn't fit in my daily week day meal plan because it just tipped the scales over 500 calories per portion, which is too steep for me. But it's a great weekend meal for me and lower calories than most of my weekend meals. Anyways, forget about that. It was delicious. I added pesto to the salmon to give it a nice twist. The nice thing with pesto is it has a nice flavour, even though it's high in calories and fat, you only have to use a tiny bit to make the flavour go far.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with salmon. I actually think it's one of the most boring fish out there. I personally don't think it's very versatile. It's one of the stronger flavoured fish, not that it tastes fishy but it has a distinct flavour. If I'm going to eat it, I normally have it on it's own without anything else with a strong flavour like simple boiled potatoes and a salad. Today with the pesto I just had some steamed broccoli along side. You use whatever you have and you should be right as rain. Try this recipe if you want a twist on salmon.

filo wrapped salmon with pesto
Serve hot with fresh vegetables.
2 125g salmon fillets skin removed
2-3 tbsp. Pesto
6 filo sheets

Since you have to work with the filo dough simply make sure all of the ingredients are at hand and ready to go.
Lay out 2-3 sheets of pastry and brush a tiny bit of the pesto around the edges.
Lay the salmon at the bottom of the square or recatangle.
Spoon 1 tbsp of pesto on top of the salmon, and fold the ends over the salmon and then roll it up.
Repeat for the next one.
Brush the tops with any remaining pesto.
Bake at 200C for 20 minutes.

The 21st Century Housewife Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Party food: Pecan Crusted Cheese Balls

So if you're like me, at this time of the year you're trying to get ready for all the unexpected events over the next few months. Perhaps you're having a party, or a get together to celebrate the season and want to get ahead of the game and have things prepped for just an occasion. These cheeseballs are so easy to make, and they really are a crowd pleaser. I make mine months in advance and wrap them in cling film and foil and they last up to a year in the freezer! There is tons of variations you could do with this, I was even going to try a goats cheese next year in addition to soft cream cheese. This recipe was inspired by my friend Nichole who really loves the holidays and gave me her own recipe; where she got it I don't know. I tapered it to my own likings and my own ingredients and what I had available to me. I have made these two years in a row and they really are perfect for entertaining. Just take them out of the freezer at least 12hrs ahead of time, you can leave them on the counter and it should be fine. Enjoy!
pecan crusted cheese balls for holidays
Serve with apples, celery and crackers!

200g room temp. light cream cheese
100g room temp. light cream cheese with chives
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
150g grated mature cheddar (I use Davidstow lighter)
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. smoked paprika
¼ tsp. garlic powder
pinch pepper
pinch cayenne powder
100g chopped pecans

In a bowl mix together all of the ingredients really well. This will take some time to ensure that the spices are blended properly so take your time.
Place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to harden.
While the mixture is hardening, chop the pecans finely and lay on a large flat surface like a plate.
Take the bowl out and (I used my clean hands) form two large balls.
Take each ball and roll in pecans and set on cling film.
Wrap carefully in cling film, then in foil and freeze immediately.
This recipe makes 2 large balls suitable for 10ppl.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Easy Peanut Butter Banoffee Pie

To be clear, I had no idea what a banoffee pie was until I moved to the UK, and I didn’t realize how easy it was to make until I made this one. I have wondered since then why I haven’t made one more often? The traditional way to make it is a biscuit crumb base (like a cheesecake base), then a layer of caramel, bananas, cream and some chocolate on top. I just like the idea of peanut butter and banana so I thought for my first attempt at this banoffee pie I would just go all out and experiment. To be honest I’m not sure if I can bring myself to make it the original way because the added peanut butter was amazing! If you’ve made banoffee pie and like it, this is for you, if you haven’t this is for you, if you want to then this is for you….get it? This recipe is for you! Eat eat eat…but I warn you, try to pawn some of it off before you eat it all yourself. This makes…a serving for one or a few more, depending on how much you want to share!

Peanut butter banoffee
Okay, so it's not the prettiest photo; but it's the best!!

200g digestive biscuits (or you can use an American pre-made graham cracker crust)
50g melted butter (for the biscuits)
400g tin caramel or make your own
2 tbsp. smooth peanut butter
500ml double cream
2 fresh bananas slightly green still
Dark chocolate for shaving on top

If you haven’t got a pre-made crust, wiz up the biscuits in a food processor or bash them up into pieces and combine with the melted butter.
Press the crumbs into a pie tin and put in a fridge for 30miniutes.
In a bowl mix the caramel and the peanut butter until smooth.
Take the pie out of the fridge and spread the caramel and peanut butter over the bottom as evenly as possible, you can obviously use as much or a little as you want.
Next slice all of the bananas and lay them on top of the caramel.
Return to the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or until you want to serve it.
When you’re ready to serve it, whip up the double cream until stiff and spread over the top of the bananas.
Grate chocolate on top, slice and serve!

What could be more easy?

Monday, 20 October 2014

Oven Cornflake Fried Chicken and Leek Macaroni and Cheese

I decided that I am going to make one big post so bear with me. This was a weekender meal so it’s not that calorie conscious but I’m completely on the 80/20 perspective where I’m healthy 80% of the time and 20% of the time I’m letting lose and eating some extra calories. I have no idea of the nutritional value down to the calorie but I do know the macaroni and cheese is somewhere in the vicinity of 250 calories a portion.

I had previously made oven fried chicken a long time ago, and I apologize there isn’t a better picture of it. As most bloggers know it’s a curse to blog something you’re eating for dinner because by the time it’s ready you’re starving and you just snap a shot of it and it may or may not be good! But you’ll have to use your imagination. I am a bit annoyed I didn’t get a better photo because I am doing this as a recipe revamp, but to be honest, with the old recipe, no picture might have been better than the actual photo used! This is definitely not fried chicken, but it’s a nice alternative if you’re hankering for something lighter and oven made. This recipe is just for two but can easily be doubled for more. Enjoy!

Oven fried cornflake chicken and leek macaroni and cheese
The chicken is hiding in the back!

2 bone in chicken breasts
600ml buttermilk
1 tsp. tabasco sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
6-8 cups crushed corn flakes
1 c. seasoned flour

Mac and Cheese:
125g macaroni pasta
1 large leek
1 clove garlic
300ml milk
50g butter
50g flour
50g low fat cheddar cheese
20g parmesan cheese
50g light Philadelphia cream cheese

To Start:
Pour all of the buttermilk in a bowl and put the chicken in to marinade for at least 5 hours.
When you’re ready to cook your chicken, drain all of the buttermilk from the chicken, wiping off as much as you can but reserve about 150-200ml.
Add to that reserved buttermilk the Worcestershire sauce, tabasco and egg.
Mix thoroughly.
Make sure you have a dish out for dredging the chicken in seasoned flour and a dish with the crushed cornflakes.

To make the Chicken:
Dip the chicken in the flour, coating completely, try to cover all wet areas with flour.
Next dip the breasts into the buttermilk/egg mixture and then into the cornflakes.
Once properly dredged set aside on a foil lined baking tray and bake in a 200C oven for about 45 minutes.

For the Mac’n’Cheese:
Cook the macaroni according to directions and set aside.
Melt the butter in a non-stick pan.
Slice the leeks up finely, and mince the garlic and sauté in the butter until well soft.
While the leeks are cooking, shred all your cheeses and measure out everything.
When the leeks are soft, sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine and cook out the flour; about 3-5 minutes on low heat.
Next add the milk stirring frequently while it thickens.
When it’s thick add in the cheeses, leaving a little parmesan behind for the top.
Taste for seasoning, and mix in the cooked macaroni noodles.
Top with the remaining cheese and add some cornflakes on top if desired.
Bake in a hot oven for 30 minutes or until brown on top.