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Vegan “Meat” Balls

Hello, everyone!  I meant to post this before Christmas and then got a little bit sidetracked with, um, Christmas.  Seems like a long time ago now…

My brother and his partner are currently giving veganism a go and so, as Christmas was at their house, we had to come up with something to contribute to the dinner that night.  Normally, this wouldn’t be such an issue – Mum and I are already vegetarian – but because I have kidney issues, a lot of vegan-friendly foods are off the menu.  No chickpea casserole or lentil burgers for me!  So it became a little trickier to figure out what to bring.  And I didn’t want to wuss out and bring something just for me to eat.

Mum was in charge of dessert, so I told her to just make apple pie which is easy to do (just substitute any butter in the pastry with a non-dairy spread) and we served it with soy ice-cream.  Simple!  So she got off lightly.

I had to figure something else out for a savoury dish.  So I came up with these vegan “meat” balls.  I don’t have an exact recipe – I was too busy testing and mixing to actually write down any measurements – but you will get the general gist of things here.  It’s a bit of a keep-adding-stuff-until-you-get-it-right kind of recipe anyway.

Start with the binding agent, which in this recipe is flax seed meal.  Add three tablespoons of water to one of flax meal and mix together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Now you need a large eggplant, chopped into small-ish pieces.  Chuck in a frypan and saute with a little bit of oil.  To stop it drying out, add a splash of water now and again.  You’re going to want to cook it for a while until….

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…it goes shmushy.  Y’know, all soft and mushy and no longer holding its shape.  Shmushy.  Oh and while you’re doing that, blanch some broccoli florets in boiling water for about 3 minutes until it is tender but NOT shmushy.  I used about 400g broccoli for this.  Drain it and set aside while the eggplant is cooking.

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Into a food processor, chuck the broccoli and eggplant, flax meal, five chopped spring onions (or you can use a small brown onion, chopped and sauteed with the eggplant), 200g of pine nuts, and about a cup of quick porridge oats.  I also added a little vege stock powder for seasoning and some smoked paprika.  Pulse in the processor, until it forms a sticky, combined blob. If it seems a little too sticky and wet, add some more oats or, if you’re not me, you could probably chuck in some besan (chickpea) flour.

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Now, roll the mixture into little balls – about the size of a golf ball.  Place on a baking tray and sprinkle with a little more smoked paprika if desired.

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Bake for 25 – 30 mins in a 180 C oven.  Turn halfway through cooking time so they’re golden on all sides.  They should be quite firm and crispy on the outside.

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Serve with a nice tomato sauce (like you would regular meatballs).  Yum!

These balls freeze really well and are delicious cold as well as hot.  You can use them in place of mince in a “meatloaf” or burgers.  As I said, my recipe is not exact – just go by feel and taste.  The eggplant lends a nice meaty taste to the dish, but you could substitute everything else for something you prefer.  Eg grated carrot instead of broccoli, breadcrumbs instead of oats, etc.  And of course you could use egg instead of the flax, if you’re not vegan.  Anything goes here!  Just experiment a bit 🙂

Hope you give these a try and maybe invent your own version/recipe (using my crappy version as a blue-print).  This recipe makes enough for a whole family and has the added bonus of not looking like they contain vegies (so fuss-pots will eat them too).

Thank you for stopping by x

 

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Haloumi & Zucchini Fritters/Patties

I have been meaning to make haloumi fritters for ages, because I keep seeing them everywhere, on menus and in magazines.  I finally got around to trying them this week.  Mine is a fairly basic recipe, to which you could add “extras” like chopped vegie bacon, sauteed onion, spring onion or sundried tomato.  Experiment with whatever you have in the fridge (that’s pretty much what I do – I’m not very organised!).

This recipe makes about 12 medium sized fritters.  They’re good hot or cold, so great for tucking in lunchboxes.  I’ve baked mine, because I don’t really fry anything, but you could certainly fry them if you prefer that method.

Ingredients

2 medium zucchinis, grated
100g haloumi cheese, grated
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
Tbs chopped dill or parsley
Tbs sumac
Salt and pepper to season
(go easy on the salt as there is plenty in the haloumi)

Method

Preheat oven to 190 C

Squeeze as much excess liquid out of the grated zucchini as you can.  Mix with haloumi in a large bowl, with breadcrumbs and beaten eggs.  Mix herbs and seasoning through the mixture.  If it’s a little wet, you can add some more breadcrumbs or some rolled oats to soak up the excess moisture.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Using a large spoon, drop about 1/4 cup of mixture on to tray to form each fritter.  Leave a little room for spreading.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until brown and crispy on the outside.

Serve as a snack with some herbed yoghurt and salsa, or have for brekky with a nice poached egg and some mushrooms.

Enjoy 🙂

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Beetroot Risotto with Feta and Peas

I watch MasterChef a lot.  It’s a yearly addiction and probably explains why I am always thinking about food.  Or cooking food.  Which then leads to eating food.  One of the things that is a recurring theme on MasterChef is the humble risotto.  They call it the “Dish of Death” because no one can successfully make one that the judges deem worthy of them.  So many people have tried and failed.  Mushroom risottos, chicken and asparagus risottos, cheesy risottos – they all suck (apparently).

I have never really understood this because I find risotto very easy to make (and even easier to eat, but let’s not talk about that right now).  Take this Beetroot Risotto.  Delicious.  It is totally worth the bright pink fingers you end up with (unless you wear gloves of course, like a sensible person) and is quite a visually impressive dish to create if you want to look good in front of guests.  My rather haphazard recipe is as follows :

Ingredients 

4 medium beetroots, trimmed of stalks and roots
1 litre vegetable stock
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (or 1Tbs minced garlic)
1 1/3 cups (300g) arborio rice
1/3 cup water mixed with juice of half a lemon (or you can use 1/3 cup white wine)
Few sprigs of fresh thyme or Tarragon (I used a bit of both)
1/2 cup frozen baby peas, cooked
Crumbled feta and chopped parsley to garnish

Wrap each of the beetroot individually in foil and place in oven on a baking paper-lined tray.  Bake for approximately 45 minutes at 200 C until beetroot is tender.

Meanwhile, bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, pop a lid on to keep it warm, and set aside.

Heat  olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic, thyme or tarragon; cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until onion softens and turns transparent. Add rice; stir to coat grains with oil.
Increase heat to medium–high.

Add reserved stock one-third at a time, stirring occasionally and allowing rice to absorb stock between additions. Add water + lemon juice in last batch of stock.

Rub off beetroot skin and discard. Dice beetroot into small chunks; set aside. Once rice is al dente, stir in peas and beetroot (the more your stir it in, the brighter red the risotto becomes).

Serve risotto topped with crumbled feta and chopped parsley.

Serves 4.

Enjoy 🙂

PS In your face, MasterChef!

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Ricotta and Kale Gnudi

Ricotta and Kale Gnudi

This is an easy and delicious dish you can make when you want something pasta-ish (cheesy, saucy) but don’t want pasta.  I don’t eat pasta at all so this recipe is a great substitute when I’m hanging out for some comfort food that won’t give me a tummy ache afterwards.  It’s fairly light, especially if you use low-fat ricotta, and really tasty.

The original recipe called for spinach, but I can’t eat that so I use chopped, cooked kale instead – works exactly the same in this dish.

Ricotta and Kale Gnudi

Ingredients

3/4 cup ricotta, drained
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 Teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup cooked kale, drained and chopped very finely
Extra flour for rolling

Method

Couldn’t be easier – just mix all the ingredients together until combined, roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls (this is the messy, fiddly bit), roll them in a little flour to prevent sticking, and then drop them into boiling water.  The gnudie will float to the surface when done (approximately 5 minutes or so).

Serve with some tomato sauce and an extra sprinkle of parmesan if you like.  I like a little side salad to go with it (but then I have a little side salad with everything. Here,  I have used rocket because I am obsessed with the stuff) but you could pair it with anything you fancy.

This recipe serves two piggly-wigglies.

Voila!  🙂

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Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder

Ah, soup.  I am such a fan.  It is easy to prepare, does not require difficult-to-get ingredients and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes (depending on the soup).  It’s filling, without being fattening, and can be flavoured and bulked-out with just about anything you have lying around the place.  Just bung it in, blend it up and hey presto! You have soup.  Or some weird-flavoured water (depending on the “anything” you bunged in).

Tonight I had a hankering for corn chowder.  I don’t know why.  It just appeared in my brain and took hold and made me desire its smokey, corny goodness beyond all other food stuffs.  I don’t make it very often.  Pretty much never.  The first time I ever made it was in catering class in high school.  I think I have made it three times in my entire life.  But it’s so yummy!  And filling and satisfying and feels like a meal rather than some sort of dietary punishment.  It never looks very attractive though.  Corn Chowder resembles, at best, dog vomit.  In fact, I hesitated when naming this blog post.  I wanted to call it “Corn Chunder” but I am far too mature for such a title.  I apologise if you are eating right now but, seriously, was there ever a more unattractive looking soup?

So my photo below is another fail.  I’m not even going to bother blaming it on bad lighting (even though the lighting in my kitchen is rubbish).  Let’s just ignore the picture and get on with the taste.  It’s yummy.  Delish. Tasty.

So here’s my recipe.  As always, for all my soup recipes, it is a bit approximate in terms of amounts used.  Again, just bung it in. I have, as is necessary for me, made this vegetarian, but substitute (if you must) real bacon etc.

Corn Chowder 

1 large onion, diced
4 rashers of vegetarian bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 potato, peeled and diced into roughly 1cm cubes
375ml can of evaporated milk + 2 canfuls of water – one mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of stock powder + one mixed with flour
2 cups frozen (or fresh) corn kernels
Chopped parsley

Method

Saute the onion in a bit of oil (I used sunflower) in a large saucepan  until soft.
Add bacon and fry for a minute (don’t let it brown).
Add milk and extra cans of water (with stock and flour).  Bring to a gentle boil (keep your eye on it) and add potato.  Keep stirring – the milk can burn or boil over so keep it simmering rather than rapid boiling.  Keep stirring for about 10 minutes until potato is tender (but not super squishy).  Add corn kernels and chopped parsley.

Continue simmering for about 5 mins.  Take off heat and take out a ladle or two of the chunky bits.  Give the remaining soup a bit of a blend with an upright stick blender (or whatever you have).  Don’t puree it until it’s smooth – this is supposed to be a chunky chowder!  Add the removed ingredients back into the pot and stir.  If it is too thick for your liking, you can add a half-cup of water if you wish.

Serve hot in bowls – garnish with parsley if desired.

Enjoy!  (just don’t look at it and you’ll be fine) 🙂

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Lemon & Baby Peas Pasta (Pauline’s Lemon Pasta)

Lemon & Baby Peas Pasta (Pauline’s Lemon Pasta)

Firstly, a warning.  The photo below is not good.  It does not look appetising at all.  I apologise.  As per usual, I tried to take a photo at night, in my little kitchen with barely any lighting.  Secondly, I tried to do that cheffy, twisting-the-pasta-around-artfully-on-the-plate kind of thing.  Which, blatantly obviously, did not work.

However, the completed dish was quite tasty and I am glad I broke my almost decade-long boycott on pasta.  I don’t do pasta.  It doesn’t like me and I am not a huge fan of it either.  I haven’t missed it at all since I stopped eating it some ten years or so ago, but tonight I saw this recipe in the magazine Daphne’s Diary and thought I would give it a go.  I like anything with lemon in and, let’s be honest, cheese.  So here’s the recipe (in which I substituted fettuccine for spaghetti and added peas as a way of assuaging my carb guilt):

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Pauline’s Lemon Pasta – Serves 4 

300g spaghetti
1 lemon
1 onion – sliced finely
Half a red chilli – chopped finely, seeds removed
2 cloves garlic – chopped finely
250ml single cream
40g parmesan – grated

Handful of chopped parsley
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Method

Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan with plenty of salted water. Drain

Fry onion, chilli and garlic gently in a little olive oil in a saucepan.  Don’t let onion brown.

Add zest from the lemon and juice of half the lemon.  Stir to combine.

Add the single cream and heat quickly to prevent splitting.  Mine did a wee bit (mostly because I cheated and used milk instead of cream…duh) but came back together once I’d mixed it through.

Add the cooked pasta and stir through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with parmesan and parsley sprinkled on top.  Serve hot.

Oh, and I added the baby peas (cooked) at the end to add some more freshness and colour.

Voila.  Pretty easy. Give it a try if you’re looking for something different to the usual pasta and tomato-based sauce combo.

I’m still resting at home and trying not to eat everything in sight, but obviously failed tonight.  Sigh.  Will try again tomorrow and only eat things that are green and crispy.

🙂

Polenta Chips

Polenta Chips

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I tried a new recipe for dinner last night – Polenta Chips!  Ok, so it’s not a new recipe – every trendy restaurant and pub is making them these days – but I haven’t made them before, not being a polenta fan usually ( I think I just have had some so-so ones in the past).  Anyway, I am always looking for something I can have other than chips as I am not supposed to have a lot of potato (including sweet potato – ahh! So unfair!) because of my renal issues.  I don’t have chips very often, obviously, but it would be nice to have another alternative that is tasty and not too unhealthy.

I found this recipe in a free magazine (you know the ones you get at the supermarket when you’re at the checkout?) and thought I would give it a go.  Seemed simple enough and didn’t have any difficult-to-get ingredients.  The results were delicious and moreish and I will definitely make them again.  In fact, I have a gathering at my house in a couple of weeks (a video night with friends), so I might make these again then.  Share the love! 🙂 Basic Polenta Chips (serves 4 as a side dish)

2 cups stock (I used vegetable)
1 Cup instant polenta
20g butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan

Method : Bring the stock to the boil in a medium saucepan then add polenta, stirring briskly to prevent lumps.  Take off the heat, add butter and cheese – stir until smooth.  Mixture will thicken and be quite firm.  Turn out into a 20cm square baking pan lined with baking paper.  Smooth top down to make it nice and even and flat if possible.  Chill in fridge for 30 minutes.

When cold and firm, cut polenta into “chips”.  Season with salt and pepper if you like (the stock I used had plenty of flavour so I didn’t need any extra seasoning). Fry in a pan with a little oil until golden on all sides.  Serve!

I don’t fry anything if I can help it so I actually did mine in the oven – baked at about 200 c for 40 minutes or so – which of course takes longer but gives a nice crispy finish and less guilt ha ha.

Give them a go – really easy, very delicious and not expensive either.  Next time I am going to add some herbs and maybe a little paprika or chilli to the basic mixture, just to add some extra flavour and oomph.  But you can dress them up or down in any way you like 🙂

PS As per usual, I took bad photos in the equally bad light of the kitchen.  This one is the best of the bunch.

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