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Rosewater Cupcakes and Vegan Weddings

I am ashamed to say its been over 6 months since my last recipe post, which really is pretty bad.

Over winter I found it really hard to find inspiration. Our house was like a building site, literally. We had no floor for the first few weeks, we had plaster crumbling off walls and a ton of wallpaper to strip. We are finally at a stage of having a more welcoming home… at least parts of it anyway, (still waiting on buying carpets, buying a bed etc.) Though I will never forget those few weeks when all we had was a camping stove to cook all our food on!

Now summer is nearly here, the house is warm, the kitchen (almost) stocked its definitely time to start writing and cooking awesome foods again.

I have been busy the last few weeks catering a few weddings which has been amazing. The wedding season is here and with over 1% of the population of UK now vegan its now more than ever important to cater for vegans at big events like weddings. In Lincolnshire especially its shocking just how many caterers don’t do vegan very well if at all. I am sure in other parts of the country this may be different, but a friend of mine approached me recently for help after the caterers for her wedding asked if eggs would be OK for the vegan option. It seems even now a lot of caterers don’t know where to go when faced with the dilemma of proving food for vegans. I have been to weddings where I have brought my own food with me or where I have been given very poor medleys’ of soft stir fried veg and nothing else.  I have heard other horror stories of friends munching their way through ‘vegan’ potato salad, asking the caterers which vegan mayo they used and hearing the reply Hellmanns’ mayonnaise (definitely NOT vegan!) I have even heard of a friend interviewing caterers where the bride themselves is vegan and being told they could provide some salads for the ‘fussy eaters’.

The expectations for vegan food at events like these are so so low, with most expecting nothing or maybe a couple of salads if that. With so many more people adopting a meat free diet I personally see weddings as the perfect opportunity to demonstrate to a huge room of people just how amazing vegan food can be. Vegan food should never just be for vegans. When it comes down to it its really not that hard to create  gorgeous 3 course vegan dining experiences and buffets, even to a budget. I have seen at happen and I am dedicated to creating this myself as a caterer.

With that in mind here is a little recipe to keep us going. These cupcakes were made for a wedding buffet last Saturday, and I am not sure why but I have a thing about green food colouring, I just want to make all the cupcakes green every time!

We created all the vegan options for their buffet, to go alongside their none vegan options. It was amazing to hear the brides feedback about how unexpectedly well the food was received by her ‘meat head’ friends (her words not mine!) No one really knew what to expect and were all pretty shocked at how great vegan food can be. Alongside these cupcakes we made Southern Spiced Tofu, Olive and Sundried Tomato Palmiers, Tabbouleh, Focaccia, Mac and Cashew Cheese, Hummus Bowl and Pesto Pasta Salad.

Please feel free to contact us here to get more information about our catering services or just for a bit advice about how to cater vegan for events like weddings etc. We would love to help you out and spread to vegan food further.

 

Rosewater Cupcakes

 

Yields 12 Cupcakes

For the cake mix

  • 1 cup soya milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

 

  • 1 1/3 cups plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rosewater
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Pre heat oven to 180°c/ 160°c for fan assisted oven
  2. Mix together the soya milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside to curdle
  3. Sift together the flour, cornflour, baking powder, baking soda, caster sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
  4. Whisk the soya milk mixture together with the oil, rosewater and vanilla extract together in the small bowl and pour into larger bowl of flour mixture well. Mix well together until there are no lumps or dry patches.
  5. Fill cupcake cases 1/3-1/2 full and place in middle shelf of oven. Bake for 16-18 minutes until golden on top. Place on a cooling rack and let the cakes cool entirely before icing

For the buttercream icing

  • 1/2 cup vegan vegetable shortening, eg. Trex
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. rosewater
  • few drops of vegan food colouring if desired
  • optional: crushed pistachios and mini  rosebuds to decorate
  1. Using an electric hand mixed/ or vigorously with a hand turned one, cream together the vegetable shortening and margarine until fluffy.
  2. Bit by bit while mixing sift in the icing sugar. As it becomes thicker add in the rosewater and any natural colourings you fancy.
  3. Mix until it become a nice stiff buttercream icing.
  4. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and decorate as you like. I like to add a few chopped or crushed pistachios or mini rosebuds on top.

Yields 12 Cupcakes

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Savoury Pancake Stack with Pine Nut Cream (gluten free)

This recipe is something I tried last week, kind of just making it up as I went along. This is not something I usually do, I will usually thing about what it is a want to make then list all the ingredients I want to use etc. and work out the best way to make the meal.

But with these pancakes it was different somehow, more creative and it felt wonderful. I knew I wanted pancakes, but nothing sweet and I just kind of went from there with whatever I happened to have in the cupboard.

This Savoury Pancake Stack really is delicious, and it is really the Basil Pine Nut Cream that makes it. And it’s also gluten free! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

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Savoury Gluten Free Pancake Stack

 

  • 3/4 cup Chickpea Flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 cup Water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 4-5 cups of sliced vegetables of choice (I used portobello mushrooms, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onion and loads of baby leave spinach)
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes while you prepare the veggies and pine nut cream (recipe below).
  2. To cook the pancakes, heat up a skillet to a medium heat and pour in some of the pancake batter to make a pancake approximately 6 inches across. Cook until the top starts to dry out and the bottom is browned (a couple of minutes) then flip and cook the other side until golden. If the pancake starts to burn before the top has dried turn the heat down a bit.
  3. Repeat this until all the batter is used up and you have a nice stack of pancakes. This recipe should make about 9 thin pancakes.
  4. Add a little olive oil to the skillet or a wok, turn up the heat and quickly fry your veggies. Stir and cook for just a minute or two so they stay crunchy.
  5. Lay one pancake on a bed of baby leaf spinach and add a spoonful of veggies. Add another pancake on this, then veggies again. Top with a third pancake and smother with Pine Nut Cream

Serves 2-3 people, depending on how hungry you are!

 

Basil Pine Nut Cream

 

  • 1/4 cup Pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup Oil-packed Artichokes
  • Juice of 1 small Lime
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1 tsp Nutritional Yeast
  • Handful of basil leaves (optional but recommended)
  • Salt to taste

Blend all ingredients until smooth and place in the fridge while you prepare and cook the pancake stack.

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Vegan Potato Gnocchi

Wow I cannot believe it has almost been a whole month since my last post! The last month has been absolutely crazy, going to sea, organising the ship, and now for the first time in months and months I am back on home soil in England. And this time permanently… or at least for a few years until I need to escape again.

Its pretty exciting to be home and honestly can not wait to get more involved once again in some activism in the UK. There is so much need here for people to be active or for fundraising, especially for some animal sanctuaries that are barely hanging on. Take a look at my links page to see some awesome organisations in need of support… or maybe there’s a group in your area. I often feel there can be way, way too much focus within the vegan/vegetarian community on just the food/recipe aspect of vegan living and never enough focus on really being active within your community to generate change and directly help the animals that are suffering. Its something now I am back in England I definitely need to feel connected to again, and wish that more and more people begin to feel this need to do more that just eat vegan.

Saying this… vegan food is undoubtedly a huge part of most of our lives, so heres a new, well overdue, Vegan Potato Gnocchi recipe for you. I love how filling this dish is and how its honestly not that hard to make at all. Serve with your favourite pasta sauces, or try my Marinara Sauce recipe with Basil and Sunflower Seed Pesto on the side.

Before boiling this Gnocchi will also freeze well. To cook from frozen just heat salted water to a fast boil, chuck in the frozen Gnocchi and wait until the rise to the top… same as with the fresh Gnocchi but it just takes a few more minutes.

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Vegan Potato Gnocchi

 

  • 4 – 5 Medium sized potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp Salt, plus extra to add to boiling water
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • approx 1 cup Plain Flour
  • Water for boiling
  1. Wash the potatoes but leave in the skins, and place in a large pan of water, Bring to the boil and cook for 30 minutes or so, until a knife can be inserted easily and the skins are starting to flake away a bit.
  2. Drain potatoes and leave to steam and cool slightly in a colander. Leave until the potatoes have dried out and are cool enough to handle, but not cold.
  3. Scoop out the insides of the potatoes into a large mixing bowl, discarding the skins, add the olive oil and salt and mash until smooth and lump free.
  4. Prepare a large pan of salted water, cover with a lid and start to bring to the boil while you prepare the gnocchi.
  5. Now its time to add the flour to the potatoes. Stir in bit by bit until it kind of forms a soft potatoey dough, just enough so you can pick a bit up with floured hands and roll. (you may need a little more if your potatoes are particularly wet) One handful at a time place some dough on a floured surface and roll between your hands to form a long thin log like a rope, about 2 cm in width, (see above photo for guidance).
  6. Next slice the gnocchi log into approximately 3 cm pieces. Place on a floured plate, take another handful of gnocchi and repeat until all the dough is used up. (At this point you could freeze the gnocchi on trays, then transfer to sealed bags and cook as directed above when needed)
  7. Once the water is at a fast boil, add gnocchi, not all of it at once but in batches, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. After about 3 minutes the gnocchi will rise to the top, this means it is cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and place in a large dish with a little olive oil. Bring water back to boil, add more gnocchi and repeat this step until all the gnocchi is cooked.
  8. Serve straight away and eat as desired with your favourite sauces. I like to serve with Marinara sauce and Basil Pesto, either straight on top as you would serve pasta, or baked together in the oven for 15 minutes.

Serves 6-8

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Skillet Rock Cakes with Goji Berries

This week I have been once again facing the perils of cooking without an oven, and in my mind all I want to do is bake. I made up the batter for these rock cakes with the intention of baking them traditionally in the oven.  I had everything all ready and the oven pre-heating! Then disaster…  Once again I heard the noise of the gas change,  had a look underneath and saw the fuel pipe was on fire on the OUTSIDE!  Argh ! The thing drives me crazy.

I was determined to not let the batter go to waste…  Wasting food is not something that happens on these ships.  There is a very well enforced rule of ‘if you put it on your plate… Your eating it’. So I grabbed my skillet and thought why not? It could work.

These delicious Skillet Rock Cakes were the result and can be enjoyed anytime of the day.  We had them for an afternoon snack served with jam and vegan custard, then this morning I had the leftovers for breakfast.

Note: If you do happen to have a fully working oven feel free to cook these traditionally,  either way they are delicious.  Just heat the oven to 180°u c and bake for about 12-15 minutes until golden.

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Skillet Rock Cakes with Goji Berries

 

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp cornflour/cornstarch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/2 cup goji berries
  • 2 flax eggs (mix 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed with 5 Tbsp water and let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1-3 Tbsp non dairy milk
  1. Sieve the flour,  cornflour,  baking powder,  mixed spice,  and nutmeg and sugar. Add the margarine and mix in with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the good berries
  2. Stir in the flax eggs until a stiff batter forms. If the mixture is still very dry add up to 3 tablespoons of milk if needed. The batter should be a bit sticky but not at all runny
  3. Heat your skillet on a low heat and add a bit of Vegan margarine to grease. Take 2 tablespoons at a time of the batter, place in skillet and flatten the top slightly with wet fingers. Cook on a low heat for at least 6 minutes, until the top starts to dry out slightly and the rock cake starts to firm up and are golden brown on the bottom. Flip and cook the other side for another 6 minutes, maybe longer being careful not to burn the cakes
  4. The rock cake should now be golden and firm. Enjoy hot or cold with jams, custard, with vegan whipped creams or just plain as the come.

Makes 14-16 cakes

All things Rosemary

I have often overlooked rosemary as a herb and really just associated it with roasted potatoes. I feel like I have never really given it a chance! So at the veg market the other day I was collecting my weekly bunch of basil when the lady pulled out this huge handful of rosemary, and I thought what the hell, its something different than usual and I figured I would find something to do with it. It was only about 50p for the whole lot.

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When I got back to the ship I thought I would get a bit more creative and make a selection of rosemary flavoured and scented things, wanting to give this beautiful herb its due. As with most green herbs, rosemary is an awesome anti-oxidant, it can also stimulate your immune system, improves blood flow to the brain improving mental capacity and concentration, helps with indigestion and protects against certain carcinogen to prevent cancer. Its definitely up there with amazing foods you should include in your diet.

So below I give you four of my favourite rosemary recipes… Rosemary and Garlic Infused Olive Oil, Rosemary Salt, Watermelon and Rosemary Flavoured Water and Rosemary and Orange Sugar Scrub. A few of these can make lovely little food gifts for people if you wrap them up with labels and ribbons etc.

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rosemary and garlic infused olive oil

Rosemary and Garlic Infused Olive Oil

 

  • 500ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 large clove garlic
  1. Sterilise 2 x 250ml or 1 x 500ml glass bottles, I used 2 old balsamic vinegar bottles. Place the rosemary sprigs and garlic inside the dry and sterilised bottles
  2. Heat the olive oil until warm but not smoking. Using a funnel transfer the oil into the bottles amd let cool. Use on salads, in dressings etc and use within 2 weeks.

Yeilds 500ml

rosemary herb salt

Rosemary Salt

 

  • 1/2 cup sea salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh rosemary

Grind the salt and rosemary together in a blender or clean coffee grinder until well mixed and the rosemary is ground. Place salt in a dry skillet and gently heat until the salt is dry, for around 10 minutes.
Use in place of salt to add extra flavour to dishes. Works well on top of garlic breads, bruschetta and in salad dressings.

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Watermelon and Rosemary Flavoured Water

 

  • 1 cup water melon flesh
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • ice
  • spring water
  • a few slices of lime peel (optional)
  1. Place the watermelon and rosemary in a large jar with a lid, approximately 1 litre capacity, and using the end of a wooden spoon mash them up at the bottom.
  2. Add lime peel if using, top with ice and the fill to the brim with spring water.
  3. Cover with the lid and place in the fridge or an hour or until ready to serve.
  4. Serve by pouring through a sieve into glasses to lose the bits and enjoy! Easy and natural flavoured spring water, perfect for parties and picnics.

Serves 1-2

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Rosemary and Orange Sugar Scrub

 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil/argan oil/melted coconut oil/almond oil
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

Mix the sugar and your oil of choice together in a bowl, then stir through the rosemary and orange zest. Store in a glass tub or jar.
Use this sugar scrub on to soften and exfoliate your skin, hands, lips, face etc. Scrub, wash away and pat dry. Makes your skin feel amazing and smells delicious.

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quick rise vegan garlic bread

Quick Rise Vegan Garlic Breads

I haven’t had time to do as many post recently as I would like as I have been going crazy trying to find a job, any job will do really! In a little over a month now I will be returning home to England, I guess permanently for now, and leaving ship life behind for a life on land, hopefully filled with growning vegetables in my garden and visiting forests, the thing I miss most while living on water!
Well so far no luck… Lincolnshire is not calling out for vegan chefs unfortunately so I am having to look at very different career ideas, something I haven’t had to do for years now and its pretty daunting, and extremely stressful. The dream is to open a vegan cafe/restaurant in Lincoln, something it desperately needs, but I am a very very long way from having saved enough funds to get that up and running, so I am spending my days trawling the interent for jobs to apply for that are not completely soulless and I can feel I am still doing some good in the world.

But that means less  time having fun making new creations in the galley unfortunately.

This is just a quick recipe I wanted to share for our now ship favourite garlic breads. This recipe came about when I had some leftover pizza dough last week and just quickly chopped up some garlic and throw it on top to make a little extra for lunch. I had no idea it would turn out so awesome …we then preceeded to have garlic bread that afternoon, with dinner, and at some time during the day for the next four days. I even taught one crew member to make it for himself once I leave the ship.
What I like most about this recipe is the rise time… it barely exists, so perfect for when your short on time. I make the dough, let sit for 10 minutes, prep the rest of the ingredients and then its ready to roll out and use.
For this recipe I like to keep the topping pretty simple, but why not try throwing on some fresh olives, fresh herbs or thinly sliced onions.

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Quick Rise Garlic Bread

 

  • 3 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting and rolling
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp instant dried yeast
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup warm water, plus up to 3 Tbsp more

 

  • 10-12 garlic cloves
  • olive oil to drizzle
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine the flour, flaxseeds, salt, sugar and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle on the 1 Tbsp of olive oil, then using a wooden spoon mix in 1 cup of water. Stir to form a dough and if it seems to dry add up to 3 Tbsp more water bit by bit.
  2. The dough should come together enough so you can turn it out on a floured surface and knead for 4 minutes. The dough needs to be very soft and easy to knead but not sticky. If sticky add a little flour as you knead, and if it is tough to knead and dry add more water. Its all about the feel of the dough and the amount of water can vary depending on the brand of flour used.
  3. Cover the dough and leave to rise for 10 minutes, then start the prepare and chop up the garlic.
  4. Divide the dough into 5-6 piece and smooth and roll into balls. One at a time roll out, either by stretching and pushing with your hands or using a rolling pin, to approximatly 8 inch rounds.
  5. Heat a large skillet or frying pan on a medium to high heat, no oil, and at the same time turn your broiler on to heat up. Place one of the rolled out doughs in the skillet, drizzle about 2 tsp olive oil and spread evenly with the back of a spoon, evenly distribute about 2 of the chopped garlic cloves and season to taste.
  6. After about 5 minutes (keep checking), the bottom should be browned and cooked, kind of like a stone baked pizza effect. Once the base is dark brown, remove from skillet and place on the rack below the brolier, about 3 inches from the heat source. Keep and eye on it and cook until golden with a few dark crispy patches.
  7. Repeat for the remaining doughs until you have 6 delicious stonebake effect garlic breads (feel free to half the recipe)

 

Yields 6 x 8 inch garlic breads

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grilled seitan kebabs with a creole spiced coconut sauce

Grilled Seitan Kebabs with a Creole Coconut Sauce

 

So I have kind of fallen in love with spice mixes recently… See my recipe for Sambar Masala Spice Mix. I love making that big jar of mixed herbs and spices and have it just waiting for me to easily transform a meal. I find it much more time efficient than measuring out the exact spices everytime you make a meal… This way you have a selection ready to go last minute if your in a hurry. As I am in Cape Verde where one of the main languages is Creole it seemed fitting to put together my own Creole recipe. As with the Sambar Masala recipe, after this seitan recipe, my favourite way to enjoy Creole Spice Mix is on oven baked potato wedges or roasted sweet potato. It also makes an awesome rice dish when you replace the spices in this Vegetable Paella with the Creole Spice Mix.

For this recipe I used a Seitan I made from scratch, washing a plain flour dough to get to the gluten… It’s a pretty long process and not ideal if you have a very busy life… But I find it an interesting process and it’s the only way for us to get Seitan here with no gluten flour for sale. You can just as well use store bought Seitan for this recipe or your favourite homemade simmered Seitan recipe. This recipe for Homemade Simmered Seitan is my go-to when I have the ingredients available.

Oh and this is grilled in the English sense… so broiled to all of you in the states!

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Grilled Seitan Kebabs with Creole Coconut Sauce

 

  • 4 cups seitan, homemade or store bought, approximately 1 cup per person
  • 2 medium onions
  • 8 bamboo skewers
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp Creole Spice Mix, recipe below
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  1. Chop the seitan into 1-2 inch chunks, and slice the onions into thick wedges. Arrange the seitan chunks onto the bamboo skewers evenly, with a wedge of onion between each piece of seitan, set aside as you prepare the sauce.
  2. Place the coconut milk, spice mix, tomato paste and garlic in a blender and blend until combined.
  3. Turn on the grill/broiler to a medium high heat. Place the seitan kebabs on a baking tray with high edges and cover with the sauce. Make sure that the kebabs are coated in the sauce then place under the grill.
  4. Grill/broil until the top starts to brown, maybe 5-10 minutes, remove and carefully turn the kebabs over in the baking tray to grill the other side, recoating with sauce if needed.
  5. Cook until the kebabs crisp up a bit and have slightly blackened edges, approximately 10 more minutes depending on your grill. Enjoy!

Serves 4

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Creole Spice Mix

 

  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 12 dried piri piri chilis
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried oregano

Whizz everything up in a spice grinder/coffee grinder/ pestle and mortar until ground and combined. Store in a clean air tight jar alongside your other spices.

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Sambar Masala Chickpeas

This side dish can go with almost anything and can quickly bulk up a meal when you realise last minute you havnt’t made enough food… something that happens pretty often to me with the amount of food a crew of hungry sailors can eat! It’s the perfect last minute dish and is absolutely delicious, I could eat this everyday. Its so versatile… serve as a side dish with other curry dishes, rice and flat bread, wrap up in a tortilla with chutney, vegan yogurt and salad, or just eat plain as it comes topped with tons on fresh coriander.

I like to make a big batch of this spice mix to store with my other herbs and spices so I can sprinkle it on other dishes… I particularly love it on oven cooked potato wedges.  With this recipe I used chickpeas as I find them so versatile I always have a few cans stored away for emergencies.

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Sambar Masala Chickpeas

 

  • 3 Tbsp of Sambar Masala Spice Mix (recipe below)
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh Coriander to garnish
  1. Heat olive oil in a non stick frying pan then add the chickpeas. Sprinkle on the spices and water and stir until the chickpeas are evenly coated.
  2. Cook over a medium high heat, stirring every now and then until the water has evaporated and the chickpeas are nicely browned and slightly crispy, about 5 minutes
  3. Serve topped with fresh coriander alongside different curries, in wraps with salad and chutney, or alongside sandwiches as a side dish

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

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Sambar Masala Spice Mix

 

  • 10 dried piri piri chilis
  • 1/2 cup coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric
  • 1/2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp rice
  1. Lightly toast the coriander, mustard, cumin, fenugreek seeds and peppercorns for a few minutes until aromatic and you can hear the mustard seeds start to pop.
  2. Place all ingredients including toasted seeds in a blender/coffee grinder/pestle and mortar and grind everything into a powder.
  3. Store spice mix in a clean airtight jar.

 

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Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

In 2011 I joined the Sea Shepherd ship M/V Brigitte Bardot in Belgium as the cook and my journey into discovering vegan cooking began. The Sea Shepherd ships are all strictly vegan and so was I when I joined. I soon learned though that cooking for yourself in your own home compared with the reality of cooking on a moving ship, providing 3 meals a day for a hungry group of sailors was a whole different and extremely challenging thing! This was also my first time on this type of ship (a trimaran which jerks in every direction possible with seemingly no pattern, extremely fun when trying to drain a huge pan of pasta).

I felt for a while I might be out of my depth, I was sea sick, I wasn’t that good a cook, I couldn’t sleep but at the same time I was so excited o be on board and luckily had a very supportive crew to help me. After a while I started to enjoy myself… we got past the Bay of Biscay and through the Gibraltar Strait on our way to Australia and all of the sudden the ship I thought I would die on through sea sickness turned into a luxury cruise. The seas calmed as we entered the Mediterranean Sea and for the next week it was like we were sailing on glass. This gave me my chance… to get over my sea sickness for good, to have the chance to think about what I was doing, read some of my cookbooks and start to enjoy cooking.

I was hungry to know everything about vegan cooking, and it felt like a whole world opening up to me. I had always loved food, eating it especially, but I had never once considered becoming a cook. When the position opened up of the M/V Brigitte Bardot I went for it because I knew I could do the basics and was a fast learner but I never imagined I would be here 3 ½ years later. Over the years I have sailed on a few different Sea Shepherd ships, my absolute favourite being a M/Y Bob Barker where I got to work alongside experienced vegan cooks who taught me so so much (like basic bread making I didn’t even know before) and eventually had the opportunity to run the galley myself for a year, feeding a crew of between 10-35 people 3 meals a day.

Crew waiting in line for Lunch on the MY Bob Barker (photo by Mariana Baldo)

Crew waiting in line for Lunch on the MY Bob Barker (photo by Marianna Baldo)

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The cooks preparing food in the Bob Barker galley (photo by Marianna Baldo)

I think this kind of environment forced me to become a much better cook. With so many people to please, all with different tastes, allergies and dislikes you have to become creative. And being based in Australia for a huge chunk of this time getting amazing donations from vegan food companies gave me an opportunity to work with awesome vegan ingredients, and I am so thankful for that.

It was during this time I made my first ever batch of vegan ice cream. When I was a kid my absolute favourite ice cream flavor was mint choc chip and matter what I would always get that flavor, I guess knowing once you have found the best there’s no point in trying any others. So this had to be the flavor I tried to make first on the ship. This recipe has changed somewhat over the years from the first time I made it, tweaking parts to make it just perfect, and I swear I could eat the whole lot myself in one sitting no problems.

 

Mint chocolate chip ice cream after last churning ready to freeze

Mint chocolate chip ice cream after last churning ready to freeze

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Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

 

  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup non dairy milk (soy, almond, oat, rice)
  • 1 ½ cups fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ½ Tbsp cornstarch (cornflour)
  • ½ tsp spirulina
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

 

  1. Place the milks and the mint leaves in a saucepan and place on a medium heat. Heat until almost boiling but do not boil, turn off, cover and leave the milk to steep for 30 minutes.
  2. After 30 minutes put the mixture through a sieve to strain out the mint leaves. Press out any excess moisture from the mint leaves then discard them.
  3. In a small bowl mix together the sugar, cornstarch and spirulina and whisk into the infused milk, place on a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring as it heats. Once the mixture has started to boil turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface and leave to cool to room temperature. Once cooled place in a metal bowl, cover and place in the freezer. (Or at this point put mixture inside your ice cream maker if you have one and follow machine directions skipping stage 5.)
  5. After 1 hour remove from the freezer and using a stick blender or even a fork to churn up the mixture, breaking up any ice crystals and smoothing it out. Repeat this 3 more times every hour to hour and a half. It will get more and more solid each time you do this, but this makes sure your ice cream will be smooth and creamy. After the last churn stir in the chocolate chips, place tin foil directly over the surface and freeze until solid.
  6. Run an ice cream scoop until hot water before scooping and enjoy!

 

Makes approx. 600ml

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Superfood Cornflake Cakes

Cornflakes cakes are probably a childhood favourite to thousands of people, and I think it’s one little treat not made enough as adults. I guess it looks pretty sloppy and you couldn’t really serve them up at a dinner party… But that doesn’t make them any less easy and fun to make.

These are my almost raw version of that classic. I like to add different seeds, superfoods and nuts to make them that bit more interesting. You can really throw in anything you have on hand, and omit anything you don’t have, as long as you keep the amounts similar. Why not try using some oat flakes, bran flakes, rolled oats or even puffed quinoa in place of the cornflakes. Maybe try adding a bit of Matcha powder, acai or spirulina. The possibilities are endless!

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Superfood Cornflake Cakes

 

  • 1/4 cup coconut butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp chopped almonds
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp goji berries
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup Cornflakes
  1. Gently heat the coconut butter and maple syrup together in a double boiler until the butter has melted.
  2. Sift in the cacao and stir until well combined to make a chocolate sauce
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir until everything is well coated with the chocolate sauce
  4. Spoon mixture into cupcake or truffle cases, any size you prefer. I made mini bitesize Cornflake Cakes. Place in the fridge covered until set, usually about 30 minutes, and enjoy!

Mixture yields 28 mini 2cm sized Cornflake Cakes. Serves approximately 6

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