Vegan Radish Cakes (luó bo gāo)

Ingredients~
Serves 2-4

Radish cake batter:
1/2 pound (226.8 g) daikon/Japanese radish, shredded
2/3 cup white rice flour
1 1/2 tbsps potato starch
1/3 cup & 2 tbsps water
1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, minced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 heaped tbsp white onion, finely chopped
1 scallion, finely chopped (reserve green bits for garnish)
1/4 tsp chili paste (I used dou ban jiang)
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/8 tsp table salt (add up to 1/4 tsp if your chili paste isn’t very salty)
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Dipping sauce:
1 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
2 tsps water
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp spicy chili paste (optional)

Important note: this recipe was loosely adapted from the Woks of Life’s turnip cake recipe!

Continue Reading

Hearty Rye Pie Crust

A hearty rye pie crust; a pie crust made with heart, for the heart. “Rye Pie” is fun to say. It’s also fun to make because it’s a little out of the ordinary. To be honest, I thought I had purchased spelt flour, not rye, so upon combining the ingredients and beginning to knead the dough, I realized that kneading wouldn’t be possible and that my spelt flour was definitely some other guy. I found the receipt from my flour purchase, did a little online translating, and discovered that the spelt dough I was excitedly anticipating in pie crust form was actually an imposter called rye. I wasn’t sure if the crust was going to work out, given that I knew nothing about baking with rye (other than: DELICIOUS DARK GERMAN BREAD), but I proceeded with the crust-making anyway.

So, how did it go? How did sly rye fair in a pie? Simply put: do it. Make the same, but hopefully for you, conscious and purposeful, mistake and bake with rye. Make a loaf of bread, okay, sure, yummy no doubt, but everybody knows rye is for bread. Instead, get a little jiggy with it, go a little ham (only in metaphors, of course), and press it into a pie pan. Bake it until firmer and noticeably darker and fill it up with sage mushrooms and mashed potatoes or, better yet, a sweet and tangy cherry filling. There’s definitely a cherry rye pie on my horizon. This crust may sound unusually good for you, but it’s far, far from tasting like cardboard. Sure, it’s not a standard, white and buttery, flaky crust, but that’s the beauty of it. This rye pie is different and a whole lot better for you. Do I sound like your mom? Good, that means I’m probably saying the right things.

Rye is a powerhouse grain. One cup of rye flour contains 11 g of protein, 12 g of dietary fiber, 16% of your rda of magnesium, 15% of vitamin B-6, 14% of iron, and 10% of potassium. For the same serving, white flour offers 10 g of protein, 2.7 g of fiber, 5% of your rda of magnesium, 0% of B-6, 6% of iron, and 3% of potassium. It’s clear who comes out on top. I’m not anti white flour, but I am all for swapping it out with more nutritious and flavorful flours when the opportunity presents itself. Luckily for me, white flour can almost always be replaced. This pie crust would probably accompany the word ‘rustic’ in a visual dictionary; there are no fancy ingredients and no heaps of butter or sugar. Instead, there is rye flour, olive oil, salt, water, and a dark, texturally pleasing, biscuit-esque pie crust as a result. I used whole grain rye flour, which is very coarse and contains the bran, germ, and endosperm of the rye kernal. Finer rye flours, such as light or medium rye, probably wouldn’t churn out the same pie crust, seeing as they lack the deep flavor and rough texture offered by the whole grain, but nonetheless, slightly more refined rye would still be a step above plain ol’ all-purpose in the creativity and health departments.

Looking at this crust awakens the cow girl in me; I want to swing onto a horse and ride through prairies with a wagon full of rye pie tugging along behind me.

Ingredients~
Makes enough dough for one 7-inch pie crust 

3/4 cup whole grain rye flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsps olive oil (chilled in the freezer for 30-45 minutes until sludgy)
1/2 scant tsp rice or apple cider vinegar
1/4 scant tsp table salt
1-3 tbsps ice cold water

Instructions~

Continue Reading

Pumpkin & Caramelized Onion Galette with a Whole Wheat Crust

I’ve been an avid coffee drinker for years and years. Reading that sentence, it sounds as though I think I’m an expert at life; ‘oh yes, deary, I was drinking coffee decades before you were born’. In reality, I am 22, and while I do have some life experience under my belt, there is still a lot of room to fill up with successes and failures and hopefully not too many embarrassing tales of wetting myself. I believe I started drinking coffee on an almost daily basis when I was a freshman in high school, although, in middle school I would go to Starbucks with friends before and after school some days, so my introduction to caffeine happened way back when; roughly speaking, I’ve been dependent on coffee/caffeine for 5-6 years. Only in the last couple of months have I noticed the frequency with which I think about drinking coffee when I don’t have a cup of it in my hand. I started to think about the tightness in my chest and it’s possible connection to my daily, usually 2-3 times a day, coffee habit. My anxiety had been relatively in check but it still played up everyday in subtle ways; perhaps cutting back on coffee would help tone down my worry and stress?

So, partly because of my dislike for unnecessary (and costly!!!) dependencies, and partly because of my curiosity, I have now reached day 14 without caffeinated coffee. Matt and I decided going the cold turkey route was not for us (a few days of migraine-ridden zombie life? No thanks), so we replaced coffee with matcha. Matcha is sorta like a Japanese variation of green tea; it’s a bit more caffeinated and very different in flavor than your average cup of brewed green tea, as the green tea leaves used for matcha, besides undergoing a unique growing process, are actually ground into a powder which is then whisked directly into water. Am I now matcha dependent? Maybe a little. We’ve cut back from two grams or two cups of matcha a day to one gram and, now, to half a gram. I have to mentally pinch myself sometimes; half a measly gram of matcha!!!? That’s so little caffeine compared to what I was used to! And yet, at this moment in time, it sounds like a trove of treasure.

I’m pretty amazed by how quickly the body can adapt to the circumstances you put/FORCE it in. I’m not really sure what the end goal with this little experiment is… rekindling my coffee dependency is out of the question, but maybe I’ll enjoy it once every couple of months or so when I find myself at a cafe with friends or family, maybe… or maybe I’ll find that it makes me feel sweaty and angsty and awful all over again and I’ll quit for good. I’m not really sure at this point. What I am sure of is that the term ‘addiction’ shouldn’t be reserved for the most extreme of drug addicts. We all have addictive tendencies, whether we are aware of them or not; and that, our possible lack of awareness about our own addictions/dependencies/negative habits/what have you, is what I find most unsettling. I used to drink coffee everyday or else feel bogged down by fatigue, listlessness, and annoyance. There are no doubt other blind spots in my life that I have yet to notice and work on clearing up, but little by little, right?

I had been day-dreaming about making a pie for weeks but upon receiving my baking utensils in the mail, it turned out that the pie tin I ordered online was actually a mini tart tin! If only there was a photo of my face upon unwrapping the tiny, two-inch wide tart tin. Mini tarts were for another day, today I wanted to eat a hearty, savory pie-like thing. I had been browsing a recently discovered food blog, Daisy and the Fox, when I came across a recipe for a galette. Having no idea what a galette was I clicked on the link and was unexpectedly surprised to find the pie-like thing I’d been dreaming of. No pie tin? No problem!! You can simply bake this galette on parchment paper! It’s as tasty as pie, sans the dirty dishes and dainty finger work.

Above^ is a ball of hardened coconut oil. I was in awe of it for a handful of seconds before realizing Tokyo’s notorious summer heat was emanating through the kitchen window directly above it. This may have been my first time making a galette/pie crust from scratch by myself (well, besides the unconventional oat & nut one I made for a vegan pumpkin pie), but I knew that too much diddle daddling + cascades of hot air + warm, palmy hands = melted, mess of a crust, so I stopped oggling the coconut ball and started cutting it up into the flour.

 

Ingredients~
Makes one small galette, roughly 6 inches in diameter 

Filling:
1/2 cup chopped pumpkin, tightly packed
1-2 tbsps plain yogurt (soy/coconut if dairy free)
1 medium onion
1 tsp neutral oil
Scant 1/4 tsp table salt
Ground black pepper to taste
Dash of cinnamon (optional)

Crust:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
Scant 1/4 cup coconut oil, hardened/scoopable
1-3 tbsps ice cold water
1 egg yolk for wash (optional, gives the crust a shinier appearance)

Instructions~

For the crust:
1. Add flour to a large bowl. If your coconut oil is scoopable, toss it into the flour and begin cutting it up (I use a fork) into the flour. If your oil is solid and straight from the fridge like mine was, transfer it to a cutting board and chop it up into chunks with a knife, then add it to the flour. The resulting mixture should resemble grainy sand. Cover the mixture and set it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
2. Once the flour-oil combo has chilled, stir in a tbsp of icy cold water. Add up to 3 tbsps if needed, but don’t over add. Using your hands, quickly shape the mixture into a ball, it should just barely hold together. Transfer it to a sheet of lightly flour-dusted parchment paper and begin rolling it out, sprinkling flour on the surface if the rollin pin is sticking. Roll, rotate the paper, roll, rotate the paper, to achieve a relatively circular shape. If you are going to add your filling and bake the galette right away, begin doing so, but if not, wrap it in plastic wrap and set it in the fridge until baking time. It can also be stored in the freezer, to be defrosted an hour or so before use. Also, if the dough is clearly oozing oil and too wet to handle, set it in the fridge to chill before continuing to roll!

For the filling: 
1. Begin by caramelizing the onion; slice a medium onion and add it to a saucepan with 1 tsp oil. Cook on low-medium heat for at least 30 minutes to an hour, stirring every 5-10 minutes, until gooey and sweet in flavor. Stir in a tbsp of water if the onions begin to stick and burn. Set aside for later.
2. Preheat oven to 180 C/356 F. Chop and boil pumpkin. Once cooked, mash/puree it until smooth. Add 1-2 tbsps of yogurt to achieve a creamier texture. Stir in the salt, pepper, and cinnamon if using.
3. Spread the pumpkin filling in the center of the sheet of dough, leaving at least 1 inch of untouched dough around the border. Top with the onions and gently fold the crust over the filling, pleating it as you go along to evenly fit the crust. Lightly brush the crust with egg yolk and bake for 35-45 minutes (mine baked for 42 minutes) or until the crust is golden. Enjoy fresh out of the oven or cold from the fridge- it works quite like a quiche!

Important note: this post was inspired by Daisy and the Fox’s Apple & Blueberry Galette and the crust is based off of YayYay’s Kitchen’s Flaky Whole Wheat Crust!

Continue Reading

Curried Chickpea and Spinach Fritters

Today I made gold nuggets. Gold in color, yes, but also gold in worth. Am I serious? Maybe a little, but I’m really just trying to convey how goddamn tasty these fritters are.

Deep fried to golden perfection (yes, I said golden perfection), these fritters have a savory, curry flavored center and a lightly crunchy outer layer. As if you need any more incentive to hop to it, here’s an unbelievably simply breakdown of what you’ll need:

A big bowl
Some chickpea flour
A few pinches of spices you likely already have on hand (cumin, chili, turmeric…)
Onion and spinach (optional, I ain’t your mom)
Water
Oil
Enthusiasm for deep-friend, crispy curry things

Did I mention these fritters are full of chickpeas and vegetables? Those things are apparently really good for you…

Ingredients~

1 1/3 cups chickpea flour
1 pellette frozen spinach, pureed
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chili powder or paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp ground rock salt
1/3 cup water
Canola/sunflower oil for frying

Instructions~

1. Combine chickpea flour, spices, and salt in a large bowl. Add onion, spinach, and 1/3 cup of water. Stir until goopy batter forms. The consistency should be able to hold together on a spoon, not quite as solid as cookie dough, but not as pourable as pancake batter. Add more flour by the tbsp if it is too runny and more water by the tbsp if too dry. Note that the batter will definitely be too sticky to touch- that is how it should be!
2. Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan until very hot and beginning to bubble. Drop a bit of batter into the oil to test if it is hot enough; the batter should begin to sizzle immediately. Drop large spoonfuls of batter in, only adding 2-3 to the saucepan at a time to prevent over crowding. It should take no more than a minute for the first side of each fritter to cook and deepen in color. Flip each fritter and continue to cook in the oil for a minute or until it turns golden. Make sure to keep a watchful eye as they brown very easily.
3. Set the hot fritters on a sheet of paper towel to cool. Serve fresh with mint yogurt or mix through a curry!

Continue Reading

Eggless Chickpea and Spinach Omelette

Chickpeas are probably one of my main sources of protein. I eat them almost daily, buying them by the bagful and soaking them over night. Then it’s only a 45 minute boil in a large pot and voila, you’ve got yourself a big heaping mountain of chickpeas. Usually, I’m overcome with a great feeling of abundance at the sight of the cooked beans; wow, that’s a lot of chickpeas! But sometimes I freak out a little, remembering that cooked beans should only be in the fridge for 4 days and there’s no way I’ll be able to eat that many chickpeas in that little time. So in a state of slight frenzy I’ll begin brainstorming sweet and savory dishes that would help make a dent in the chickpea supply. While this recipe is not the result of one of those brainstorming sessions, my raw chickpea cookie dough is. As is my beetroot hummus.

While you’ll definitely be seeing more sweet and savory chickpea-inspired recipes down the road, the one I’m sharing today shines the spotlight on a lesser known form of chickpea: chickpea flour. Chickpea flour is simply the result of grinding dry chickpeas. That’s all. Toss the flour with some chopped onion, vegetables, spices, and a little bit of water, and you have a very, very yummy pancake on your hands!

Ingredients~
Makes one large pancake

1/2 cup chickpea flour
2 pellets of frozen spinach
1/4 inch-thick slice of red onion (disc shaped), diced
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
Scant 1/4 tsp ground rock salt
Pinch of ground black pepper (less than 1/4 tsp)
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions~

1. Saute the spinach pellets in a bit of water on the stove until thawed and water has evaporated. Set aside.
2. Combine the chickpea flour, spices, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add the spinach, onion, and 1/2 cup of water. Stir until there are no chunks of chickpea flour and the batter is noticeably thinner than regular pancake batter. It should be pourable. Add more water by the tbsp if it’s too thick/clumpy!
3. Heat up oil in a medium-large pan and, once hot, pour all of the batter into the center of the pan (or reserve some batter if you are making several smaller pancakes). The batter should spread out on it’s own, creating a pancake that’s fairly even in thickness. Gently nudge the spinach around if it’s too concentrated in one area. I cooked the first side for about 6-7 minutes on lower-medium heat, flipping it after my spatula could easily slide under it. If you have to force your spatula under and it appears too wet/breakable, give it another couple of minutes! Cook on the other side for another 5-7 minutes, before turning up the heat and cooking each side until slightly browned and crispy (another minute or two on medium-high heat).
4. I recommend hot sauce, bean salad, raw spinach, and hummus as toppings, but you do you.

Continue Reading

Creamy Cauliflower Mashed ‘Potatoes’

When mashed potatoes are served at a meal I load my plate up. My dad in particular is a big mashed potatoes fan. He grew up in a big (I mean 9 kids big) Irish Catholic family, so mashed potatoes, being a cheap, nourishing, and historically very Irish dish, were a common sight at meal times. Despite my enthusiasm for eating creamy mountains of potato, gathering the enthusiasm to rinse, boil, and mash potatoes was always a different story.

Funnily enough, what began as an effort to make cauliflower sauce turned into the joyful discovery of mashed potatoes sans the potatoes and longer preparation time.

I introduce to you creamy cauliflower mash. If you’re an old-school mashed potatoes fan you might be rolling your eyes. While I’ll be honest and say that the cauliflower gives this mash a slightly different texture (nothing can quite replace the pillowy softness of potatoes), it is a very close second. Also, it’s a chance to change things up in your diet without feeling like a fish out of water. There are no other hidden vegetables in this mash. I swear.

No one said you can’t douse the cauliflower in your mashed potato usuals; milk, butter, and salt will help anything taste good, right?

Ingredients~
Yields about 2-3 cups

1/2 large head of cauliflower (about 3-4 cups florets)
2 or 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp ground rock salt
Large pinch of ground black pepper (about 1/4 tsp)
1/4-1/3 cup milk of your choice

Instructions~

1. Boil cauliflower, garlic, and onion in the same pot until the floret stems are nearly florescent and you can easily fork them. Drain the water and use a hand-held mixer or food processor to blend the three ingredients together until mostly smooth. Add the salt and pepper, as well as 1/4 cup of milk, and continue to blend until smoother. Continue to add more milk by the tbsp to achieve your desired consistency! Serve warm and season with chopped herbs.

Continue Reading

The Chipotle Carrot Hot Dog

Hot dogs are fun to eat.
Hot dogs can still be fun to eat if you’re vegetarian or vegan.
Enter the carrot dog.

I’ve been fascinated with mock-meats and cheeses/creams for a while now, but it’s no surprise that they often surpass my Young-Twenty-Something Affordability Test. So, in an effort to minimize unnecessary spending and up my creative game in the kitchen, I decided to give carrot hot dogs a shot. Aside from the carrots and hot dog buns (why is it impossible to find whole wheat buns anywhere?), the other ingredients are likely already in your kitchen. If you do have to make a trip to the store to buy them, they shouldn’t require you to fork out much dough (I am a baker on a budget after all).

If you’ve already searched the internet for carrot hot dog recipes you’ve probably noticed the term ‘liquid smoke’ frequently used (click here if you’re thinking what the heck is that?) This recipe doesn’t call for it because A) I wasn’t about to spend money on strange and novel ingredients I’d likely never utilize and B) I wasn’t in the mood to go on a hunt for it around Melbourne. Yes, the former may be close-minded of me (ironic considering the oddity of this very recipe), but sometimes a girl just wants to stick to the basics. So, with liquid smoke out of the picture I opted for the next best thing (or maybe THE best thing): chipotle sauce. Chipotle provides a warm and smoky barbecue flavor similar to that of liquid smoke and it is far more likely to be sold at your local mom and pop shop.

These carrot dogs are meant to imitate real hot dogs, but I’ll be honest and say up front that the texture is quite different from a real sausage. However, if you’re imagining chowing down on a mushy carrot cushioned in bread, stop. These carrots aren’t meant to be fully cooked to the core. In fact, they retain a reasonable amount of crunch in their final form (without being downright raw). As for their flavor, I’ll start by simply saying that they were YUMMY.  In all honesty, I was surprised to be so pleased by how they tasted. While preparing the hot dogs the know-it-all child in me couldn’t help but point out time and time again, “So, you’re planning on masquerading these carrots as hot dogs? You don’t really think you’ll get away with this, do you? And your Mom isn’t forcing you to do this? Really?”

While I haven’t tasted a meat hot dog in well over a year, I can say that the chipotle sauce and seasonings give these carrots a BBQ flavor much like the real thing. Also, the carrots certainly won’t be as oily or bursting with juices as meat sausages, but that wasn’t a game changer for me.

Condiments will obviously help dress these dogs up a bit; just lather on your usual favorite hot dog condiments, the carrot won’t change the way mustard, sauerkraut, or red/caramelized onions taste!

Ingredients~

3-4 medium-large carrots (for more of a ‘real’ hot dog appearance, pick carrots that are more even in width from end to end and shave down the pointy edges)
2 tsps soy sauce
1 heaping tbsp chipotle sauce (I used Tobasco’s Chipotle Pepper sauce)
1/2 tsp paprika (Sweet or smoky)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (sub with white wine vinegar but make sure acidity is at least 5%)
1 medium-large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup water

Instructions~

1. Boil carrots for 8-12 minutes or until you can easily stick a fork into them. You don’t want to overcook them till they’re soggy! Tip: run cold water over them to prevent them from continuing to cook.
2. Mix ingredients in a bowl or deep tray and add carrots. Use the tip of a knife to prick each carrot a few times, staying clear of the more delicate/thinner end (this adds to the BBQ sausage look and helps them soak up more marinade).  Be sure to lather the carrots in the sauce using your fingers before covering them and setting them aside to soak for at least 5 hours (the longer=the more flavorful). Make sure they are at least partially submerged in the marinade as they sit. Alternatively, put them in a large ziplock bag with the marinade.
3. Heat oil in a pan and add carrots, along with a few spoonfuls of sauce. Cook on medium heat, turning them ever so often for an even coating. It’s easy to burn the sauce, so make sure the heat isn’t on too high. Note that it may take 10 minutes or a little longer for them to become charcoaly and look as though they are fresh off the barbecue!

Continue Reading

Vegan Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

What do you daydream about? Deep-sleep dreams can get weird and dark pretty fast, but cheek-to-elbow daytime dreams usually take on a brighter shade, for me at least. More often than not I’m at my desk daydreaming about scones or pie or cake. It’s no revelation that I’m obsessed with the baked, fluffy, and frosted. However, while I do love utilizing the scrolling feature on food blogs and Instagram accounts, sometimes the endlessness of it all can be overwhelming.

So, when I feel like I’m up to my neck in recipe ideas and visions I try to stop, backtrack, and buy a wagon-full of dried beans. There is a sizable place in my heart reserved for beans; good ol’ fashion home-soaked beans. Given that my boyfriend and I don’t really consume meat (other than fish once in a while), we make an effort to eat protein-dense veggie foods, namely tofu, tempeh, and beans, beans, beans of all kinds.

This recipe calls for black beans but don’t fret if you only have kidney beans on hand, they will work just fine (I’ve tried and tasted). As for the sweet potato, I opted for the truly magnificent Okinawa/Hawaiian purple sweet potato. These guys definitely possess some magical properties and I strongly urge you to seek them out wherever you live. Look on in awe:

chili5.jpgchili4

While making this chili I became convinced I had a future in alchemy or witchcraft. I mean, magic-infused sweet potato, fresh and dry chilis, vegemite, and dark chocolate make for quite the odd ingredient list. There are some other, far more conventional ingredients in this chili, but the former list of items are vital if you are after a satisfyingly sweet and rich chili. Yes, this is not a standard American chili. Yes, the ingredients may be puzzling and you may be nervous intentionally mixing them together in one cauldron. And yes, once the brilliant aroma of this bubbling chili reaches your nose your doubts about it will vanish. Again, magic.

chili6.jpgchili3.jpg

Ingredients~

1 large Okinawa/Hawaiian sweet potato (500-600 grams)
400 grams or 2 cans (drained) black beans
1/2 medium-large onion, diced
4 cloves medium garlic, minced
1-3 small chilis (I used green Thai), minced
2 dried chilis (I used large, Chinese chili peppers)
1 tbsp coconut/vegetable oil
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 1/2 tsps sweet paprika
1/2 tsp chili
1 1/4 tsps oregano
1 inch-by-inch cube of dark chocolate (70% cocoa or richer)
1/3 tsp vegemite
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups of water

Instructions~

1. Heat oil in large saucepan on medium heat as you dice onion and mince garlic. Add dried chilis to oil and let sit for about 2 minutes until spice and flavor seeps from the chili (you’ll definitely smell this!) Next, add onion and garlic, watching/stirring for another 1-2 minutes or until onion is translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add minced chili and zucchini. Cook for another couple of minutes, until the zucchini is slightly less firm.
2. Add 1 cup of water to saucepan, stirring. Then dump all of the spices in at once, combining them thoroughly with the water-vegetable mixture. Now add the sweet potato, black beans, and remaining water (add a little more if sweet potatoes aren’t mostly covered).
3. Lastly, toss in the chocolate, vegemite, and salt. Bring it to a boil before reducing heat and letting the chili simmer covered for at least 30 minutes. Be sure to stir the chili a few times within the 1/2 hour and leave a small crack with the lid if it appears to watery.
4. Season with pepper and salt and enjoy with creamy avocado!

chili.jpg

Continue Reading