Scrumtorious


scrum.tor.i.ous

Adj.

What a fantastic word. Straight off the bat you know that dinner was delicious, and…
I was victorious in getting the kids to eat things they’d told me were absolutely & positively inedible (rainbow swiss chard in this case)!

Obviously it’s not my word. It’s Roald Dahl – who else could create such an evocative neologism? But it’s the perfect description for a great meal.

To make the soup I used:

2 cups red onion, diced

3 medium carrots, diced

1 large potato, diced

Stems from 1 bunch swiss chard, diced

3 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 cups tomato, diced

4 cups swiss chard, roughly chopped

1 cup cooked pinto beans

1/2 cup dry white wine

5 cups vegetable stock

1 cup water reserved from cooking the pinto beans

2 tbsp olive oil


Over medium heat I added one tablespoon of olive oil to a heavy based saucepan. I then sautéed the onions, carrots, potatoes, swiss chard stems and garlic till the onions were translucent (about 5 minutes). 


Then I used the white wine to deglazed the pan; added in the stock, bean water and tomatoes; brought the soup up to the boil, and then reduced the heat to low and simmered it covered for 5 minutes.

While the soup was simmering I wilted the Swiss chard leaves in a frypan with one tablespoon of the olive oil and a little salt.


Once the potatoes were tender I turned off the heat and stirred through the pinto beans and wilted Swiss chard.


Yum? No, that’s not the right word … 

Delish? Meh …

scrumdiddilyumptious? Perfect! You see I told you – he just knows the right word to describe a great meal 😉 

#vegan #kidfriendlyvegan #mindfuleating #wholefood #soup #RoaldDahl

Adam Smith & The Wealth of Breakfast Options …


The plan was:

a. Eat breakfast

b. Drink coffee

However, it turned out that before I could get there we had to have a robust philosophical discussion about the allocation of scarce resources …

Kids: Can we have pancakes?

Me: Sure! What about zucchini & corn ones?

Kids: 

Me: I’ll do them with tomatoes & relish.

Kids:

Me: But if we do the sweet ones too it’ll take twice as long & use double the batter.

Kids: Who eats zucchini pancakes for breakfast?

Me: I do <sigh>

So breakfast became bigger than Ben Hur. Fortunately we started with coffee so I had the energy to make it through 😉

For the apple cinnamon pancakes I used:

1 cup apple, diced & steamed

1 cup all purpose flour 

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 1/4 cups almond milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp canola oil

1 tbsp maple syrup

4 plums, diced (for serving)


For the zucchini corn pancakes I used:

1 cup zucchini, grated, steamed & drained

1 cup corn kernels, steamed

1 cup all purpose flour 

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cups almond milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp canola oil

1 cup tomatoes, diced (for serving)


To start the apple pancakes I placed the apple cider vinegar in the almond milk. After leaving it for a few minutes I then added in the rest of the wet ingredients.

In a separate bowl I whisked together the dry ingredients. Then I made a well in the center of the bowl and folded through the wet ingredients and the steamed apple. 


Then I left the batter to rest while I worked up the zucchini and corn batter.

Essentially the process was the same for the savory pancakes…

First I placed the apple cider vinegar in the almond milk. After leaving it for a few minutes I then added in the rest of the wet ingredients.

Then in a separate bowl I whisked together the dry ingredients. I made a well in the center of the bowl and folded through the wet ingredients and the steamed zucchini and corn. 


After that it was simply a case of heating a griddle over medium heat and cooking the pancakes in batches (which also had the unintended benefit of allowing time for more coffee).

And (eventually) we all got the breakfast we wanted… but, if I’m being completely honest the kids were right – I didn’t really need zucchini AND apple pancakes for breakfast. Way too much time taken (& far too many pancakes made).


Lesson learned – next week it’s muesli 😉

#vegan #kidfriendlyvegan #mindfuleating #wholefood #breakfast #pancakes 

To market to market to buy a fat … squash?

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”  Julia Child.

LOVE Julia Child – her cooking, her attitude and the fact that she never stopped learning. Admittedly she’d probably be rather appalled by my vegan dishes (though hopefully her critique wouldn’t be as harsh as Anthony Bourdain’s would be – he once said “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans … are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit.” – ouch!).

I was reminded of Julia’s quote about fearlessness today as I shopped our local farmer’s market. It’s beautiful – not huge but the farm stalls have a fantastic array & I can pretty much get all the fruit & veggies we need for the week. But it can be a little daunting. The produce is fresh but unwaxed, and even at times a little misshapen. It’s a far cry from the polished beauty of, say, Whole Foods. I’m also usually confronted by varieties of a fruit or vegetable that I never even knew existed. Today I found zucchini that were yellow at the top and pale green at the bottom, seven different types of radish I’d never seen before and bell peppers in hues from deep purple to pale yellow.

So much choice. And if you do buy it, what would you ever cook with it?

Market angst.

But my curiosity got the better of me and I had a wonderful shop – ‘tiny finger’ Asian eggplants that are bright purple and white, Barq squash that are like a stubby pale green zucchini, and oversized heirloom purple cherry tomatoes were just a few of the finds I brought home with me.


So now to cook. I had an hour to pull things together before the kids got home & decided that roasting and baking would be the easiest way to go (because – if I ran out of time & had to go pick up the kids – I could turn the oven off before I left & things would still slowly cook in the warm oven… I know, I know it’s sacrilege, Julia would be turning in her grave).

But I digress. After more dithering I finally settled on making roasted butternut squash soup and a ‘zucchini’, eggplant and tomato gratin.

To make the soup I used:

1 butternut squash, halved

1 Apple, halved

1 red onion, quarters

3 cloves garlic, skin on

1/2 tbsp canola oil

2 cups vegetable stock


To make the gratin I used:

1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable stock

3 barq squash, sliced

15 or so finger eggplants, sliced

2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced 

1/2 tblsp canola oil 

2 cups strained tomatoes

1 cup panko breadcrumbs 

2 tsp dried parsley


For the soup I preheated the oven to 400 degrees F and placed the butternut squash cut side down on a parchment lined baking tray. I then roasted the squash for 40 minutes. At that stage I added the apples, onion and garlic to the tray and baked it for a further 20 minutes.

Once the veggies were tender I placed them all in the blender (don’t forget to skin the garlic, core the apples and deseed / skin the squash!), added the stock and blended until smooth.


For the gratin I rinsed the quinoa and brought it to the boil with the stock. Once it was bubbling I covered the saucepan, reduced the heat to low and cooked it for a further 15 minutes.



For the vegetables I lined a separate tray and placed the barq squash, eggplant and onion on it. After coating those veggies in canola oil I roasted them for 20 minutes. 


When the quinoa and veggies were done I layered them in a baking dish, added the tomatoes on top and stirred through the strained tomatoes. 


Finally it was a case of combining the breadcrumbs with the parsley and sprinkling them across the dish. I then wrapped the gratin in aluminum foil and baked it for a further 20 minutes.

All done within the hour (essentially – I did have to turn off the oven when I took the kids to tennis but it was in the final five minutes … so fortunately everything had cooked through beautifully & the sitting time just allow the flavors to steep through the dish).

Market angst conquered. But I’m still not sure Julia would approve 😉.

#vegan #kidfriendlyvegan #mindfuleating #wholefood #farmersmarket #soup #gratin #JuliaChild #AnthonyBourdain

Tibet Tibet


9 y.o. “Yum this looks great, thanks Mom! What’s it called?”

7 y.o. (with a tone of supreme confidence) “Tibet, Tibet”

Everyone else: ‘ ? ‘

Am pretty sure that tonight’s dinner has no cultural or culinary relevance to Tibet – & indeed my 7 y.o. went on to say that he was answering a question from a previous discussion (about places the kids would love to visit), but we found his answer so delightfully random that the name has stuck. So the dish formerly known as grilled veggies with rice and somewhat spicy peanut sauce is now (at our place at least) Tibet, Tibet.

It’s a quick, healthy and delicious go to for us on weeknights – and a great way to use up the odd assortment of veggies that collect in the crisper!

For the grilled veggies I used:

3 bok choy, quartered

3 carrots, cut into matchsticks

2 cups cauliflower, cut into florets

18 radishes, trimmed & halved

An odd assortment of celery, green beans, zucchini, summer squash cut into batons

2 tbsp canola oil


For the peanut sauce I used:

2 cloves garlic, finely diced & steamed

1 inch ginger, finely diced & steamed

1 cup coconut milk

2/3 cup peanut butter

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp sweet chili sauce

For the garnish I used:

1 cup cilantro, chopped

2 limes, quartered

1/4 cup sesame seeds


To speed things up I briefly par-cooked some of the veggies (carrots, corn, cauliflower, radish) for 2 minutes in the microwave.


Then I heated and oiled a grilling plate (ahhh the joys of living in an apartment without a balcony – if you to have to do it this way make sure you’re exhaust fan is on high!). I then coated the longer cooking veggies in canola oil and grilled them for about 4 – 5 minutes (enough so that they were tender & had some great markings), before transferring them to a plate.


As those veggies were cooking I quickly pulled together the rice and sauce. I put one cup of Basmati rice and 2 cups of water over high heat & then covered and reduced the heat to low when it started to boil – cooking for a further 12 minutes. For the sauce I simply put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulsed until smooth.


Then it was simply a case of cooking remaining vegetables (again coating both the hot plate and the veggies with canola oil) and then layering each bowl with rice > veggies > sauce > garnish.
Done.


Fantastically filling and completely delish… And I’m sure nothing like what we’d eat if we did actually take that dream trip to Tibet my 7 y.o. was talking about 😉

#vegan #kidfriendlyvegan #mindfuleating #wholefood #bowls #grilling

Which Way Is Up?


As a kid I loved Roger Hargreave’s Mr Men books – Mr. Noisy & Little Miss Curious were favorites but I re-read all of them till the covers came off.

Today, jet lagged and head still spinning from a wonderful but whirlwind trip to Rome, I definitely feel like Mr Topsy Turvy. 

Hat on upside down. Sentences scrambled. And no idea whether it’s breakfast or dinnertime.

The kids don’t really feel my pain. It’s coming on 6pm & they just want to eat. So breakfast / dinner (Brinner?) it is. 

Fortunately my mother has left the fridge well stocked and spared me the need for a last minute dash to the grocer. In fact, she’s gone above & beyond and bought beautiful produce from the farmers market down the street.

Portobello, Shiitake and Oyster Mushrooms, baby greens, russet potatoes and the last of this summer’s tomatoes. An amazing haul. But it doesn’t cook itself. And my brain isn’t really in gear to work out how to put it all together…

Which is where Jackie Sobon’s Vegan Bowl Attack comes in. Her ‘Loaded Potato Breakfast Bowl’ sounded delicious & incorporated all the ingredients I had to hand. The kids love the idea that we’ll be having breakfast for dinner. But honestly what sold it for me was the promise that it would come together in under 30 minutes. 


I took some shortcuts – I par cooked the potatoes in the microwave before transferring them to the pan – and added some ingredients that I though were missing (I can’t cook mushrooms without white wine). But I tried to remain as faithful as I could to her recipe.

As it comes together quickly I prepped all the ingredients before I started (which I should always do… but, if I was being completely honest, it doesn’t happen as often as it should).

For the potato hash I used:

2 tsps coconut oil

4 cups russet potatoes, diced

1 cup red onion, diced

1 cup tomato, diced

1 cup mixed baby greens


For the mushrooms I used:

1 cup light coconut milk + 1 tblsp (separated)

1/2 cup dry white wine 

1 cup red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

4 cups mushrooms (portobello, shiitake, oyster), cleaned & trimmed

3 sun dried tomato pieces

1/2 tsp cornstarch 

2 tblsps nutritional yeast

1 tblsp soy sauce

1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped


I par cooked the potatoes in the microwave and then crisped them up in the pan with the coconut oil.


Then as the potatoes began to crisp I stirred through the tomato and red onion and continued to sauté the mix over medium heat.

While the potatoes were cooking I started on the gravy. I cooked the onions for a couple of minutes in a tablespoon of the coconut milk and then stirred in the garlic. Once the onions were almost translucent I added in the mushrooms, white wine and corn starch and turned the heat down low. 



As the mushrooms slowly cooked I put the remaining coconut milk, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, and sun dried tomatoes in a food processor and blended until smooth.


Once the mushrooms were dark and soft I stirred through the coconut sauce and parsley, and then gently heated this amazing gravy for another five minutes or so.


Just before serving I mixed the baby greens through the potatoes.


Breakfast, no make that dinner done. Look whatever meal it was it was wonderful, tasty … and a sign that I can now go to bed 😉.



#vegan #kidfriendlyvegan #mindfuleating #wholefood #jackiesobon #VeganBowlAttack #mushrooms

Homemade Bliss


I think I first stumbled across Vegan Richa when I was looking for a recipe for cauliflower wings one Super Bowl. That recipe was fantastic – but I now realize it pales in comparison to her beautiful, healthy and delicious Indian ones.

The wonderful thing about Vegan Richa’s recipes is that once you have all the spices on hand the actual cook time is very quick. These three dishes took just over an hour to prepare this evening – about the same amount of time it would have taken for delivery from our favorite Indian restaurant! 

The other great thing is that she relies on spices to give the dish flavor, rather than copious amounts of oil & salt – so I find her dishes lighter & in many ways much more flavorful than what you get at a restaurant.

Pictured clockwise from top left I made eggplant with cumin & nigella seeds, basmati rice, spiced cabbage potatoes and Bengali red lentil soup.

These recipes came from her new book – though similar ones may be on her blog. And as always I need to add the disclaimer that I haven’t quite cooked the dishes as they were written. Yes, you guessed it – I didn’t go shopping beforehand & so used whatever I found in the pantry! 

For the eggplant dish I finely diced some onion and cooked it with nigella seeds and ground cumin until it was translucent. 


Then I processed 3 garlic cloves & an inch of diced ginger with two tablespoons of water. I then mixed the paste through the onions. After that I added 2 diced tomatoes, a quarter teaspoon of turmeric and salt.


Then it was simply a case of adding the diced eggplant and a quarter cup of water and cooking over low heat for about 30 minutes or so.


For the spiced cabbage potatoes I finely diced half a red onion and cooked it in a little oil with diced garlic, ginger and turmeric. Then I added in diced potatoes and shredded cabbage – mixing well to make sure all the vegetables were well coated in the spice mix.



Then I covered & cooked it for 30 minutes – deglazing the pan about half way through with one tablespoon of water.

The dal was my ‘go to’ red lentil soup that I’ve written about before. Essentially it’s one cup of rinsed red lentils in 3 cups of water with turmeric, red onion and tomato added in during cooking. After 25 minutes or so I then added 1 teaspoon of mustard oil & 1 teaspoon of lime juice.



Homemade bliss indeed – who needs to wait an hour for delivery? 😉

#vegan #kidfriendlyvegan #mindfuleating #wholefood #veganricha #Indian

The Supper Club


Supper just sounds so, well, classy. And it’s a meal that masks all manner of evils – like when you have a late lunch & don’t feel like eating dinner at the proper time … but are then ravenous at 9pm… 

So tonight’s post-dinner time meal was half a papaya topped with sunflower & chia seeds, sriracha sauce & fresh lime juice. 

Perfect. I may lunch late every day from now on 😉

#vegan #mindfuleating #wholefood #supper

Table for one


So I’m going to go out on a (controversial?) limb here – cooking for one is waaaay harder than cooking for six. Not because it’s technically harder – but the mental discipline needed to get in the kitchen when it’s only you is huge… Do you realize how close I was to posting a picture of a bowl of dried Cheerios sprinkled with nooch? I mean when you’re cooking for the tribe the mental game is easy – the ravenous wee barbarians are going to eat no matter what, so it’s far better to provide them with a meal rather than have them eat you (are there any statistics on how many exhausted parents – who just wanted the night off – are lost this way each year?) …

But I digress. As I was saying cooking for one is terrifying. But fortunately my craving for salad was greater than the desire to sit on the couch and mindlessly channel surf, so no cereal with odd toppings for me tonight. Instead I pulled together my version of that delicious Indonesian salad Gado Gado.

First I shredded white and purple cabbage, then finely sliced some red, yellow and orange bell peppers and cut green beans and half an English cucumber into batons.

For the dressing I steamed some diced fresh ginger and garlic, and then placed them in a food processor with peanut butter (100% nuts), the juice of one small lemon, 1 tablespoon of sweet chili sauce, one tablespoon of soy sauce, one tablespoon of seasoned rice wine vinegar and about 8 oz of coconut milk.


Then it was simply a case of steaming the cabbage for a couple of minutes, plating the veggies and topping them with peanuts and fresh coriander.

It was very yum. Much better that nutritional yeast flavored cereal… But the only thing is I’ve made so much that there’s enough to easily last me into the next millennium. 

Sigh. See I told you… cooking for one IS really hard.

#vegan #wholefood #mindfuleating #salad

Monty Python & The Meaning of School Lunches …


Me: So what did you have for lunch today at school?

7yo: It was yum! I had the veggie enchilada, corn, a salad, 2 sandwiches, 2 glasses of milk and a plum.

Me:

7yo: Oh, and I had 2 yoghurt parfaits for dessert… What’s for dinner?

Sooooooo, it seems that in order to ensure my children don’t explode in some sort of Monty Python-esque way (“Just one more wafer”) it looks like the main meal of the day at our house is shifting to lunchtime.

It’s probably not a bad thing to eat more earlier rather than just before bed – & it certainly fits in better with the over scheduled & homework filled afternoons that being back at school now brings.

Which is why tonight’s dinner was roasted cauliflower & parsnip soup with sweet potato ‘fries’ and steamed green beans.

I simply chopped a head of cauliflower & 3 parsnips into smallish pieces and placed them, along with 6 cloves of garlic (still in their skins), on a baking tray. I then sliced one sweet potato into chunky fries & brushed all of the vegetables with canola oil & roasted them in a 400F oven for about 25 minutes.



In the final minutes that the veggies were roasting I sautéd the onions in a little canola oil & steamed the green beans.

Then I placed the onions, cauliflower, parsnip and peeled (!? – don’t forget that bit!) garlic in a blender & added one quart of vegetable stock.

Done. And it was light, creamy, delicious and very satisfying…

… But you’ll never believe it, he asked for dessert! 😮

#vegan #kidfriendlyvegan #mindfuleating #wholefood #soup

Let them eat cake

I like to tell people that I don’t have a sweet tooth. Desserts aren’t really for me. Savory is much more my thing.

All lies.

Truth is I love sweet things. Baklava, cinnamon dusted doughnuts, shortbread & rice pudding are some of my favorites… But I’d be equally happy with cheesecake, chocolate torte, mince pies or a fruit flan if the occasion called for it.

Fortunately the occasion rarely arises as all of those things are seriously non-vegan. I’ll occasionally make a vegan version of one of these desserts – but they don’t seem to trigger the same childhood memories as the non-vegan versions do… which means I don’t feel a compulsion to eat the entire dish in an effort to return to that long-ago happy place.

But sometimes – especially when I’m celebrating with others – I want to make something delicious, spectacular AND vegan. And tonight – as we celebrated my dad’s birthday – was one of those nights.

Birthdays are the best. Special meals, a few presents, lots of love and hugs … And most importantly CAKE! Carrot cake is always a hit at our place and Love & Lemon’s Vegan Carrot Cake (& frosting) is universally adored here.

I adapted her recipe somewhat as (per usual) I didn’t have all of the ingredients listed to hand.

First I mixed 1& 1/4 cups of plain flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl.


I then combined the wet ingredients – 1/2 cup applesauce, 1 cup almond milk, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, 1 cup of coconut sugar (ok so not all of them were wet ingredients!) and 1/2 cup canola oil – in a smaller bowl.


After making a well in the dry mix I stirred in the liquid to make the batter. Then it was just a case of folding through two (generous) cups of shredded carrot, pouring the batter into a greased cake tin & baking it for 40 minutes at 350F.



The frosting was made by soaking 1 cup of cashews overnight & then blending them (drained!) with 1/4 cup almond milk, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 2 tablespoons canola oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt. I left the frosting to ‘set’ (somewhat) for 30 minutes in the fridge while the cake was cooking & cooling.



Then it was just a case of icing the cooled cake and topping with slices of crystallized ginger.


Delish. I could have eaten the whole thing if I’d let myself … 

… So maybe the title of this post should have been ‘let ME eat cake’ ?!?😉

vegan #kidfriendlyvegan #mindfuleating #wholefood #baking #loveandlemons