Avocado and Basil Raw Tart

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Avocado and Basil Raw Tart

This was my first attempt at a raw savoury tart, but it definitely won’t be my last.  Although Spring still isn’t quite sure whether it has arrived in Finland yet,  I wanted to try a summery recipe.  The avocado, basil and spinach pesto filling is super fresh and tasty and works well with a topping of crunchy seeds and nuts.  The base is adapted from a recipe from Aine Carlin´s The New Vegan.  Just make sure you give the grated carrots a really good squeeze or your base will end up soggy!  If I was making this for a party or brunch I think I would make individual tarts, so I would get a cleaner finish.

Avocado and Basil Raw Tart – makes one 36 cm x 10 cm tart or equivalent size

For the base:

2 small carrots, peeled and finely grated

120 g walnuts

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

1/2 tbsp ground coriander

1/2 tbsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground paprika

1 and 1/2 tbsp coconut oil

3 sun blush/ semi-dried tomatoes

freshly ground salt and pepper

 

For the filling:

50 g fresh basil

25 g spinach

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

1 tbsp pine nuts

a good slug of olive oil

a generous handful of almonds

a good squeeze of lemon or lime juice

freshly ground salt and pepper

3 – 4 avocados, depending on their size

For the base, start by squeezing out as much juice as possible from the carrots.  Add to a blender with all the other ingredients and pulse until it begins to come together.  Spoon into a tin lined with cling-film or baking paper and flatten tightly to form the base and sides of the tart.  Put into the fridge for an hour to set.

Meanwhile make the filling.  Add all the ingredients, except the avocados into a blender.  Pulse to form a thick pesto.  Taste and add more oil, juice and seasoning if necessary.

Peel and destone the avocados.  Mash a little with a fork, but leave some chunks for bite. Stir in the pesto, and pour into the base.  Refrigerate for another hour.

Remove from the tin and decorate as you wish.  I used almonds, pistachios, sunflower, pumpkin and poppy seeds, chopped sun-dried tomatoes and some fresh basil.

 

Vegan Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Irish Soda Bread

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Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Irish Soda Bread

I am a self confessed breadaholic!  and nothing beats the smell and taste of fresh bread just out of the oven.  I like to make this sweet bread as it is great as a quick dessert or snack.  There is very little fat and only a couple of table spoons of coconut sugar, meaning it is fairly healthy, whilst tasting indulgent and rich.  The best thing about soda bread is that there is no need for yeast or proving.  Just mix all the ingredients, slam it in the oven and the whole thing is ready in around 45 mins.  The loaf is at its best when fresh and still warm, but it is also good toasted with jam or my vegan Nutella (click for the recipe here).  Feel free to leave out the cranberries, chocolate and sugar and use this as a recipe as a basic vegan Irish soda bread.

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Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Irish Soda Bread

Vegan Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Irish Soda Bread – makes a medium size loaf

400 ml almond milk

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

500 g flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp coconut sugar

100 g cranberries

75 g vegan friendly dark chocolate, cut into small chunks

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees or 200 degrees fan.  Whisk the milk and vinegar together and leave to one side for at least 5 mins.  Mix all the other dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Give the milk mixture another stir and slowly add bit by bit into the dry ingredients until it comes together and forms a wettish dough.  You may not need to use all the milk.  Form the dough into a ball shape, adding a little more flour if too sticky, try not to knead it too much or the bread will be tough.

Put onto a lined baking sheet and cut a deep cross into the top of the bread.  Bake for 30 – 40 mins.  Check the bread is done by inserting a skewer into the centre of the loaf, which should come out clean.

Vegan Eton Mess

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Vegan Eaton Mess

I have already had a crazy busy week and it is only Wednesday, so only time for a quick post.  This time for another veganised english classic.  Eaton mess is a mix of cream, strawberries and meringue.  It couldn’t be easier and tastes great.  It is also a great way to use up any over ripe strawberries and the water from your chickpea can.  You can find my recipe for vegan chick pea juice meringue here.  One note, chickpea meringue tends to soften very quickly when it comes into contact with something wet like cream, so I would recommend folding in all the ingredients just before serving.

Eaton Mess – serves 4

400 g strawberries

250 ml plant based whipping cream

1 – 2 tbsp sugar

meringue

Start by blending half the strawberries into a puree.  Pass through a sieve and stir in the sugar (use as much or as little as you like, but remember the meringue is very sweet).

Chop the remaining strawberries into pieces, whip the plant based cream and break the meringue into chunks.

Carefully fold the strawberries and meringue into the cream.  Pour in the blended strawberries and stir lightly to create a marbled effect.

Spoon into bowls and enjoy.

Vegan Apple Tart with Salted Caramel Sauce

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Vegan Apple Pie with Salted Caramel Sauce

What could be better than crisp pastry with juicy sweet apples and a salted caramel sauce.  This recipe is crazy easy and tastes great.  Finland, just like the UK, has a superb variety of flavourful apples.  For this recipe it is better to pick a variety that isn’t too floury and retains its shape, otherwise you will end up with apple sauce in a pastry case.  A couple of notes, the sauce requires full fat coconut milk, the thicker the better, otherwise the sauce will remain very watery (unfortunately this isn’t a healthy recipe, maybe a weekend treat?).  Secondly Arrowroot (Arrowjuurijauho) isn’t so easy to find in Finland, however I managed to find it in Ruohonjuuri.  Someone suggested I could use potato starch as an alternative.  I haven’t tested this, but I believe it would give the tart a cloudy finish, whereas arrowroot turns clear.  The salted caramel sauce will last covered and refrigerated up to a week.  Just give it a good stir before use.

Apple Tart with Salted Caramel Sauce – makes 1 x 18cm square tart

4 Apples, cored and sliced very thinly

3 tbsp maple syrup + extra for brushing

2 tbsp Arrowroot

1 tsp cinnamon

juice of 1/2 lemon

batch of vegan pastry – see my previous recipe here

For the Salted Caramel Sauce:

80 ml extra thick coconut milk

3 tbsp cold water

4 tbsp coconut sugar

a couple of drops of vanilla essence

a good pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.  Roll out your pastry as thin as possible and line a loose bottom 18 x 18 tart tin.  If you wish you can blind bake your pastry case but I found it wasn’t necessary, as long as the pastry is thin and you don’t overload the pie with apple filling.

Carefully mix the apple slices with the syrup, cinnamon, arrowroot and lemon, making sure the apples are all coated in the sweet mixture.  Lay the apple slices in rows until the pastry case is filled and there are no large gaps.

Bake for 40 mins, until the apples are soft and begin to turn golden.  Remove from oven and brush with maple syrup to give the tart a beautiful shiny glaze.

While the tart is cooking you can make the caramel sauce.  Add the sugar and water to a pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Allow to slowly boil for 2 – 3 mins.  Add the coconut milk and turn down to a simmering point.  Allow the mixture to simmer for 10 – 15 mins until the sauce has thickened.  At this point remove from the heat and add the vanilla and salt.  Don’t worry if the sauce looks too thin, it will thicken a little more as it cools.

 

Date and Raisin Energy Balls

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Date and Raisin Energy Balls

I have recently been trying to cut down the amount of sugary snacks I eat.  This simple energy ball / bliss ball, recipe is super easy and the best thing is you can have fun with the decoration and ingredients.  Although these balls contain some fruit sugar from the dried fruit, they contain no refined sugar and the oats help keep you fuller for longer.

The recipe below is for the basic ball recipe, I have not included decorations as you can feel free to use whatever you have available.  Just a few examples include coconut, cacao nibs, bee pollen, dried flowers, fruit powders, pistachios and toasted almonds.  I love the combination of medjool dates, raw cacao and maca powder as I think it gives the balls a malted chocolate caramel flavour.

Date and Raisin Energy Balls – makes 15 – 20 balls 

90 g raisins, soaked overnight or see note below

90 g medjool dates, destoned

100 g gluten free oats

3 tbsp almond butter

2 tbsp cacao powder

2 tsps maca powder

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp whole almonds (you can easily swap these for pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts etc)

a pinch of salt

1 tsp of vanilla essence (you could use a few drops of almond essence if you prefer)

Drain any remaining water from you raisins and add along with the other ingredients to a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture begins to come together.  If you mixture is too dry add a few drops of water.  It should be sticky and chewy, but not so sticky that you cannot roll it into balls.

Roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls and then roll again in any decoration you wish.  You can also leave the balls plain, they are still super tasty.

Store in an airtight container or jar to prevent them from drying out.

If you are in a rush and forget to soak your raisins overnight, you can shorten this step by covering the raisins in boiling water and leaving them to soak for 20 -30 mins.  However I would recommend leaving them to soak as long as possible, so the balls are extra juicy and nice.

 

Bombay Green Masala Curry

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Bombay Green Masala Curry

Curry’s are great, tasty, easy to make and good for using up left over veggies.  This Bombay Green Masala curry is coconut milk based and full of fresh coriander, ginger, lime and chilli.  I found this recipe whilst flicking through an old Jamie magazine, but have adapted it to make it vegan friendly.  I had a some left over chickpeas, a packet of Jalotofu and some spinach which worked really well.  I served the curry with a fresh lemon chutney, black rice from Makrobios and naan bread.  If you have any leftovers, it tastes even better the next day!

Bombay Green Masala Curry – serves 4

oil for frying

3 large onions, cut in half and sliced thinly

270 g packet of tofu, cut into bite size pieces

1 can of chickpeas, drained

large handful of fresh spinach

For the Sauce

4 dl coconut milk

100 g coriander

30 g unsalted peanuts

3 cloves of garlic

2 green chilli

juice of 2 limes

3 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tbsp coconut sugar

1/4 tsp turmeric

toasted almonds, rice, naan, mango chutney or anything else you like to serve

Take a large saucepan and start by frying your onions in a little oil over a medium heat.  Continue frying, stirring occasionally,  until they turn golden brown (around 20 – 30 mins).  Remove half the onions and reserve for later use.

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Meanwhile add all the sauce ingredients, except half the lime juice, into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Once the onions are cooked add the sauce to the saucepan and cook for 2 – 3 mins.  Turn the heat down and add the chickpeas and tofu.  Allow to simmer for 15 mins.

Just before serving stir in the spinach and allow to wilt.  Squeeze in the remaining lime juice and check the seasoning, adding a little salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve sprinkled with the remaining fried onions.

Vegan Easter Simnel cake

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Simnel Cake

The Finns eat pasha and the dreaded mämmi at Easter (I still cannot understand the appeal of mämmi, no matter how much cream and sugar is added) and for my fellow Brits, Easter means hot cross buns and Simnel cake.  Although Simnel cake is a little old fashioned, I try to make one every year.  It is similar to a Christmas fruit cake, but it is lighter and has a layer of marzipan running through the middle and a marzipan top.  The 12 marzipan balls on top of the cake represent the 12 disciples and the cake is put under the grill to lightly toast the marzipan.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have adapted Vegan Richa’s  spiced fruit cake recipe to create this vegan Simnel cake.  By making it a little lighter, less sweet, adding the marzipan and lemon zest the cake turned out really well.  So why not give it a try this Easter?

Vegan Easter Simnel Cake 

175 g mixed dried fruit (I used raisins, cranberries and chopped apricots)

2 dl orange juice

zest of a lemon

400 g vegan friendly marzipan and powdered sugar for rolling

1 tbsp apricot jam

Dry Ingredients:

75 g mixed chopped nuts (for example almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts)

50 g chopped candied orange peel

150 g plain flour

50 g wholewheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp ground flax seed

80 g soft brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp cloves

a grating of fresh nutmeg

1/4 tsp of salt

Wet Ingredients:

2 tbsp golden syrup or light syrup

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 dl coconut milk

80 g coconut oil, melted

Soak the dried fruit and zest in the orange juice overnight.  The next day, line an 18 cm round cake tin with baking paper and preheat the oven to 185 degrees.

Mix all the dry ingredients together.  In a separate bowl mix all the wet ingredients and then add to the dry ingredients along with the soaked fruit and any remaining juice.

Spoon half the mix into the bottom of the tin and level it off.  Roll out a third of the marzipan on a sugared surface and cut into a round slightly smaller than the cake tin.  Carefully place the marzipan disk onto the bottom cake mix and top with the remaining mixture.

Bake for 45 mins then turn down the temperature and bake for a further 20 – 30 mins.  If the cake begins to brown too much cover with foil.  Insert a skewer into the centre of the cake and check it comes out clean.  If not, return to the oven for a few more minutes.

Allow the cake to cool completely and remove from the tin.  Heat the apricot jam slightly and spread on the top of the cake.  Roll out another third of the marzipan and cut into a another disc.  Use the tin as a guide so that the marzipan exactly fits the top of the cake.  Place the marzipan onto the jam and push down slightly so it sticks in place.

Roll the final third of the marzipan into 12 small balls and place on top of the cake.  Heat your grill and place the cake under the heat to lightly toast the top of the marzipan.  Keep your eye on the cake as the sugar in the marzipan can cause it to burn very quickly.

Turmeric and Harissa Spiced Cauliflower fritters with a Chermoula dip

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Cauliflower Fritters with a Chermoula dip

Apparently there is a glut of cauliflower and prices are set to drop, which is welcome news for me as I love cauliflower.  I decided to make these super quick cauliflower fritters.  They are incredibly easy to make, but taste great.  I had them as a snack or starter, but they can easily be served as a main with a tasty salad.  The turmeric adds a slight sweetness to the cauliflower and the harissa a spiciness which works well with the creme fraiche and Chermoula dip.  I picked up a jar of Chermoula paste when I was last in the UK.  It is a North African spice paste with fresh coriander, cumin and lemon.  It can be used as a marinade, stirred into grains, or here, added to vegan creme fraiche for a tasty dipping sauce.  Mango chutney also works really well with these fritters and if you can’t find Chermoula add some tahini to your creme fraiche instead

Cauliflower Fritters – serves 2 – 4 as a starter depending on the size of your cauliflower 

1 cauliflower cut into florets

80 g flour

1 tbsp corn flour

150 ml of sparkling water

a pinch of salt

2 tsp ground turmeric

1 – 2 tsp harissa powder or curry powder depending on how spicy you like

1 dl vegan creme fraiche – I used Oatly

2 tsp chermoula paste or tahini

oil for frying

lime wedges and fresh coriander to serve

Start by cooking the cauliflower for 2 – 3 mins in salted boiling water, drain and leave to air dry.  Meanwhile whisk the flour, corn flour, water, salt, turmeric and Harissa to form a batter.  It should be like a thickish pancake batter.

Heat a good amount of oil in a heavy duty pan.  To test the temperature of the oil, I usually drop in a small piece of bread.  If it turns golden brown in about 30 seconds the oil is hot enough.

Dip the cauliflower into the batter and fry in batches until golden (about 3 – 4 mins). Place on a plate lined with kitchen paper, to absorb any excess oil, and keep in the oven to remain hot while you finish frying.

Mix the creme fraiche and chermoula.  Serve the fritters with lime wedges, the dip and a sprinkling of fresh coriander

Vegan Courgette and New Potato Pizza

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Courgette and New Potato Pizza

I love pizza! and nothing beats a fresh homemade pizza fresh out of the oven.  As soon as I saw the first new potatoes in the shops I wanted to try out this recipe.  The soft potato, sweet onion and garlic works really well with the thyme, thinly sliced courgettes and pine nuts.  The base takes a little time to raise, but you can easily make the dough the day before and leave it in the fridge until you need it.

I will definitely be making this again.  I can’t wait until the prime Finnish new potato season during summer.  At their best Finnish new potatoes are so tasty and if anything I think it will enhance this dish.

On a note the recipe calls from Strong white bread flour, but I wasn’t able to find that in Helsinki.  You can easily substitute it with normal white flour (puolikarkea vehnäjauho)

Courgette and New Potato Pizza – makes 2 medium size pizzas

400 g strong White flour

100 g semolina flour

1/2 tsp salt

5 g dried yeast

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp sugar

200 g new potatoes

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 green chilli, finely chopped

2 medium red onions, sliced thinly

fresh thyme

2 medium sized courgettes

olive oil

pine nuts, toasted, for serving

fresh basil for serving

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  My oven has a special pizza sitting so I used that, or you can use a pizza stone if you wish.  Start by making the pizza base.  Add the yeast, sugar and oil to 300 ml of lukewarm water.  Stir and leave for a couple of mins, until the yeast begins to react.  Sieve the flours and salt and add the yeast mixture, little by little, stirring to bring it together to form a smooth dough.  Knead for a few minutes then place in a floured bowl covered with a damp tea towel.  Leave to prove for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.

Meanwhile boil the potatoes in a large pan of salted water for 15 -20 mins until tender.  Strain and leave to dry.  Fry your onions, chilli, garlic and a few sprigs of thyme in a little oil over a medium to low heat.  Allow them to cook for a while until they begin to caramelise and turn soft and sweet.  Add the potatoes and mash a little to break them up and allow them to soak up the oniony flavour.  Season and add a little oil if the potatoes are very floury and dry.

Uncover your dough and divide into two.  Sprinkle a little semolina flour onto a surface and flatten your pizzas into a round shape roughly 0.5 cm thick.  Put your pizza base onto a baking tray and top with half the potato mix, spreading to the edges.  Using a peeler, peel thin strips of courgette to top the potato layer.  Season and drizzle with a little oil.

Cook for 7 – 10 mins until the base is crisp and the pizza golden brown.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with pine nuts and a little fresh basil.

Vegan Black Bean Nachos with Cashew Sour Cream

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Vegan Black Bean Nachos with Cashew Sour Cream

I am currently stuck at home, off work with an inflamed foot, so I needed some comfort food.  What could be better than a plate of homemade nachos, piled high with spicy black beans, guacamole, roast veg and sour cream.  I can already feel myself getting better!  This recipe seems like it has a lot of ingredients and elements, but they are all very easy to prepare and, if you are quick, the whole dish can be made in 30 mins from start to finish.

 

Vegan Black Bean Nachos with Cashew Sour cream – serves 2 as a main

5 vegan friendly tortillas

5 ripe tomatoes, chopped into eighths and deseeded

3 bell peppers, cut into chunks

a bunch of spring onions, slice into 2 cm chunks

2 red chilli, deseeded and cut into chunks

oil for roasting

380 g tin of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 heaped tsp dried coriander

1 heaped tsp paprika powder

1 tsp chili powder

1 ripe avocado, cut into slices

coriander to garnish

lime wedges to squeeze

 

For the guacamole:

1 ripe avocado

handful of fresh coriander

1 ripe tomato, seeds removed and quartered

juice of half a line

salt

 

For the cashew sour cream:

100 g cashews, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1 dl water

salt and peper

Start by roasting your veg.  Preheat the oven to 210 degrees.  Place your prepared veg on a baking tray and drizzle with oil and salt.  Roast for up to 25 mins until the veg begin to char.  You may need to remove the spring onion and chilli as they tend to roast quicker than the tomatoes and peppers.

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Vegan Black Bean Nachos

Meanwhile prepare the guacamole by throwing all the ingredients into a food processor, season and pulse to leave a chunky texture.  Taste and add a further squeeze of lime, or an extra pinch of salt if necessary.

For the cashew sour cream, place all the ingredients in a blender, season with the salt and pepper and blend until smooth.

For the nachos, heat a large frying pan over a medium heat.  Drizzle with oil and one by one fry the tortilla on both sides, until they are golden brown and crispy.  Place them on some kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt.  While they are still warm, cut into nacho shaped triangles.

Finally add the black beans to the pan with a little oil, the coriander powder, chilli powder and paprika. Fry for a few minutes, season and allow them to absorb the flavours.

You are now ready to assemble your nachos.  Layer the nachos with the guacamole, roast veg, beans, sliced avocado, sour cream and garnish with chopped coriander and lime wedges.