Dairy Free Iced Chocolate Coffee Drink

The temperatures are up in the 90s (F), again today. Yesterday it was even hotter, and the girls were desperate for something cool when they got home from school. This is a drink for when you’re sitting in the sunshine watching the world go by, or just sitting with your feet in a pool of cold water trying to get cool, and facing the idea of homework. Icy refreshing, coffee with a hint of chocolate. Something to make you feel that the world is actually a good place to be.

chocolate coffee frozen drink

Serves 1
1 cup (8 fl. oz) sweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tsp instant coffee granules
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup (8 fl. oz) ice

Blend everything together in a blender until smooth (~30 seconds), and serve immediately.

 

Cashew Mozzarella

Mild in flavor and close textured, this browns nicely in the oven, and tastes great with basil and fresh tomatoes in an almond bread sandwich.

You’ll note that I’ve used both xanthan gum and tapioca starch in this recipe. The xanthan gum is used to make it stiff, and the tapioca gives it a bit of wobble and that knife-clinginess that fresh mozzarella has. This recipe went though a fair number of revisions to get to this stage. I’ve had the taste pretty much where I wanted it for a while, but the texture hasn’t been right. The last two versions, however, have been very interesting! This current version with 3 tsps of agar, makes a sliceable cheese, somewhat softer than the partially dried stuff that comes in plastic wrap, but more manageable than fresh mozzarella. 2 tsps of agar makes something more akin to fresh mozzarella which sticks to the fingers a bit in a lick-able sort of fashion.

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1/2 cup raw cashews
3 tsps agar powder (use 2 tsps for fresh mozzarella, 3 for sliceable)
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp chickpea miso
2 tsp nutritional yeast

Soak the cashews in water for at least 1 hour. (Not needed if you have a high speed blender.)

Put the agar in a medium size saucepan along with 1 1/2 cups (12 fl oz) of water, and bring slowly to a simmer over a medium high heat, stirring frequently, to dissolve the agar.

While the agar is dissolving, put the drained nuts, salt, starch, vinegar, lemon juice, miso, and yeast into a blender, along with 1/2 a cup (4 fl oz) of water, and blend until smooth.
molten mozzarella

Once the agar has come up to the boil and thickened, add the smooth contents of the blender, and stir vigorously until combined.

Bring to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring or whisking to prevent sticking, and cook for about 2 minutes until the starch has cooked and thickened.

Lightly oil a 1 pint container, scrape the hot cheese into it, and refrigerate until cold and firm (~2 hours), or drizzle straight over your pizza which is waiting to go into the oven.

 

 

 

Breakfast Casserole

Ah, comfort food. This is perfect breakfast food after a busy night. You can make it the day before, and feed 4 people with very little effort (and possibly a little toast) the next morning. It is warming and satisfying, but not at all heavy.

I designed this with sliced red potatoes (grated ones cooked to a mush), and with the tofu on top so it can bake and dry slightly. Don’t miss out on the lemon / lime juice that’s added to both the onion/pepper mix and the tofu; it gives an interesting zing, lifting the flavor and reducing the amount of salt required. The general consensus of opinion was that the vegan cheese was a good addition, too, and needed to be all over the surface, albeit in a thin layer. I baked it until both the cheese and the tofu was starting to brown.

 

2 tsp oil
1/4 large onion, cut into long strips
8 oz bell pepper flesh, diced or sliced
1/4 tsp lemon or lime juice
1/8 tsp salt
1 lbs red (waxy) potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup cashew flour
14 oz firm tofu, drained
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
light dash of cayenne pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon/lime juice

6 baby tomatoes, for garnish
2 oz faux cheese, for garnish
Optionally serve with Ranchero sauce and toast.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and cook the onion and peppers over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, and the onions are starting to brown (~10 mins).

Line a 10 x 8″ casserole dish with parchment paper or  grease. Peel and finely slice the potatoes into the casserole dish, and toss with the 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper. Distribute evenly over the bottom of the casserole.

Sprinkle 1/4 lemon or lime juice and 1/8 tsp of salt over the onions and peppers, stir, then spread evenly over the potato.

Combine the remaining ingredients (except garnish), together in a large mixing bowl, and mash thoroughly with a pastry wire (or the back of a sturdy fork) until no large lumps remain, or pulse in a food processor, but do not puree.

Spread evenly over the onion and pepper layer.

Press the tomato and cheese garnish into the top of the tofu layer.

Bake in the middle of the oven, at 400F for 30-35 minutes.

Check the potatoes are completely cooked by sticking a fork into the middle of the dish, if still not soft, cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve warm rather than hot, optionally with Ranchero Sauce and almond bread.

Gruyere Style Cheese Spread (and Pasta Sauce)

Faux Gruyere Cheese SpreadI had a flurry of enthusiasm for making faux cheese last week. My girls had reminded me that they liked the faux cheddar that I sometimes make (and not often enough, allegedly), and I’ve had a draft recipe for an appetizer requiring feta for about a year now, just waiting for me to figure the recipe for the feta before I post it. I’ve just about developed something that I like, but in the meantime, I had a go at something to replace Gruyere. The initial batch I made was with all water (too bland), so the second batch was made with all wine (too strongly flavored), but the next batch made with 1/2 water and 1/2 wine was great. I didn’t manage the right texture, but since I couldn’t think of a use that I’d have for Gruyere where a spread wouldn’t work (and some where soft was preferable), I decided that it wasn’t an issue, and stopped trying to firm it up.

Like Gruyere, this is a moderately strong tasting cheese, and the initial flavor is very similar to the dairy variety. The aftertaste, however, has a bit of a tang due to the wine that isn’t present in regular Gruyere, but that can be driven off, to a certain extent, by cooking it. As a lover of cheese fondue, I have to admit to liking the tang, and I’m not in a hurry to get rid of it!

Daughter #2 consumed quite a quantity of this stuff on crackers, so it’s been put through its paces! Personally, I like it on pasta. About 1 tbsp of cheese per ounce of dried pasta, stirred into the drained, cooked pasta for an almost instant supper. If you figure on any other ways to use this, do let me know.

8 oz (2 scant cups) blanched almonds
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a chardonnay)
1 tbsp dark colored miso (I used Sweet Tasting Brown Rice Miso)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) melted coconut oil

Put the almonds and dry white wine in a blender, along with 1/2 cup (4 fl oz) water, and leave to soak for at least a couple of hours.
Add remaining ingredients, and blend until completely smooth. This might take a couple of minutes or so, and if your blender can’t handle such a dry mixture, add a tablespoon or two of water, which you can then cook off.

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Texture of cooked cheese.

If your mixture is a bit thin, scrape it into a small saucepan, and heat, stirring frequently until the mixture turns stiff like cream cheese.

Adjust flavoring if necessary.

Store, covered, in the refrigerator.

 

Black Eyed Pea Goulash

Over the last few years, I’ve strayed somewhat from the beany stews that I so loved when I was first learning to cook. Could it be that I see them as unsophisticated? Certainly their image is somewhat austere, and they can seem unexciting, and yet (for some reason or another), they are warming, comforting, homey, reassuring, kind to my tummy.

Black Eyed Pea Goulash

Black Eyed Pea Goulash with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

It doesn’t hurt that they’re economical and healthy, too. I wanted to make Boston Baked Beans for dinner this evening, but found I’d run out of haricot beans, and there was this packet of black eyed peas sitting in the dried bean draw waiting to be tried. In a rather bad mix of enthusiasm and disorganization, I put the beans on to soak, and then headed for my copy of Rose Elliot’s The Bean Book, which I’ve had since the mid 80′s and is now festooned with annotations and post-it notes, and has lost much of its glue, so is falling apart and has to be treated with respect in what is definitely the autumn of its life.

Anyway, I made the Beany Goulash, with my inevitable tweaks (more garlic, less oil, sun-dried tomatoes instead of puree … that sort of thing), served it up with garlic mashed potatoes, and watched while both of my girls cleared their plates, and told me I should make this more frequently. So much for austere and uninspiring. I shall make this more often. It will probably surface every couple of weeks on a weekday evening, warming tummies, and not requiring a whole lot of my attention.

8 oz dried black eyed peas/beans
2 tsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, peeled and diced
16 oz (2 cups) green/red/yellow pepper strips (frozen works fine)
28 oz canned, chopped tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, minced
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1-2 tbsp sugar (white or brown)

Pick the black eyed peas over for debris, rinse, and cover with plenty of water before leaving to soak over night.

Drain the peas, rinse once or twice, then cover with fresh water, bring to a simmer, and cook until the beans are soft but not falling apart (~30-40 minutes stove-top, or just bring up to pressure in a pressure cooker, then remove from the heat and allow to cool naturally).

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and gently fry the onion for about 10 minutes until it is soft and translucent.

Add the garlic and pepper strips, and carry on frying and stirring for 5 minutes.

Drain the beans. Stir all ingredients together, and allow the stew to simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the surface turns a little darker, and the oil separates and rises to the surface, and the sauce has thickened.

Check seasoning before serving, and eat with a clear conscience.

By the way, if you want to make garlic mashed potatoes: peel, dice, and boil 4 baking potatoes (~2 lbs) until soft but not disintegrating. Mince 6 cloves of garlic and warm through in 2 tbsp vegan margarine (I like Earth Balance). Once the potatoes are cooked, roughly drain them, add the garlicky margarine and 1 tsp salt, then mash thoroughly with a potato masher. Check seasoning before serving.

Silky Smooth Dairy Free Rum and Raisin Ice ‘Cream’

This recipe is simplicity itself. Rich, creamy, and not too sweet, with little pockets of intense raisin/rum flavor. It includes cashews and alcohol, both of which disrupt the formation of ice crystals while the mixture is freezing, and so help to make the ice-cream smooth.

Rum and raisin ice cream (vegan)

5 oz (1 cup) raisins
1/2 cup dark rum
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup maple syrup

Soak the raisins in the rum for at least 1/2 hour, turning them through once in a while.

Put 8 fl oz (1 cup) water and the cashews into a high speed blender, and process until completely smooth.

Transfer the cashew mixture to a saucepan with all the remaining ingredients, use another 8 fl oz (1 cup) of water to rinse out the blender into the saucepan, and bring to a simmer until thickened, stirring continuously as it starts to boil.

Allow to cool, then pour into a freezer-proof container and freeze for approximately 4 hours, stirring every hour or so.

At this point, the ice-cream is still soft enough to serve. If it is left for longer in the freezer and gets too hard, you might want to allow it to defrost slightly in the fridge for 1/2 hour before serving.

For a variation on a theme, make Prune and Brandy ice-cream by substituting 5 oz prunes for the raisins, and brandy for the rum. Blend the prunes and brandy with the cashews.

Pineapple and Mango Guacamole

Pineapple GuacamoleA couple of weeks ago, we had a storm which brought down a whole heap of avocados off the trees, and once avocados are off the trees they start to ripen which means that I’ve had to think of ways to have the whole family eating plenty of them in a hurry. None of us has got bored of the Mediterranean Guacamole, yet, but I did run out of tomatoes yesterday, and so hunted around for other avocado recipes. I found loads of recipes on the Calavo website, but many of them included cream or meat, so I took some ideas and played with them, until this variation on a theme popped out: an interesting mixture of mildly hot and sweet, all tempered by rich avocado.

1/2 cup pineapple pieces (frozen & defrosted works fine)
1/2 cup mango pieces (frozen and defrosted works fine)
1 cups avocado flesh (~4 avocados)
1 tbsp minced jalapeno chili (or to taste)
1 tbsp lime juice
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp minced red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced

Chop (by hand or in a blender) the pineapple and mango pieces into small to medium pieces.

Stir all the ingredients together with a metal spoon (start with 1/3 of the chili), chopping any large pieces of the avocado into small chunks with the side of the spoon.

Check seasoning (adding more chili as desired), and serve with corn tortilla chips, or wrapped in GF tortillas.