Rich Brandy Pouring Cream

Updated Dec 21, 2013: For a soy free version, use an additional 1/4 cup of cashews and 1/4 cup water instead of the tofu, then bring to a simmer to thicken.

I’m on the run-up to the holiday season, and getting all my recipes tested and ready to go. This sweet sauce is an adaptation of a recipe given to me by my mother in law for a sauce served as an ultimate indulgence with Christmas Pudding. The original was cream thickened with egg yolks, and various flavorings. Mine uses less magic wand: you don’t have to struggle to avoid curdling it, and it is vegan friendly, though still an indulgence not to be repeated on a weekly basis, if you can help it.

3/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup (or more) of brandy
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp lemon juice

Put all ingredients together in a blender, and blend sufficiently to immerse the cashews. Leave to soak for 1/2 hour to soften the cashews, if you don’t have a high speed blender such as a Vitamix.

If you like yours thicker, bring it gently to a simmer in a small saucepan, then stir for a minute or two until it has thickened and the texture has become smoother.

Chill to thicken further, or serve warm with Christmas pudding or mince pies.

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‘Creamy’ Broccoli Soup

Yesterday, I went into the kitchen to make broccoli soup (and garlic bread) for dinner, and ended up also making my first version of the Thanksgiving Pie that I want perfected before the big day. My husband calls it mission creep, though he did enjoy the soup as well.

This soup is smooth and creamy without being at all heavy. It’s also quick to make (much more so than pies 🙂 ), so it makes a regular appearance on our weekday menu. If you like the idea of having broccoli florets floating in your soup, either remove some of the cooked florets just before blending, and return to the soup while reheating, or steam some additional florets separately.

A note on broccoli: you can make this using pre-cut broccoli florets, or whole heads, or even just broccoli stems for a very economical dish. However, broccoli stems tend to be a bit fibrous, and if you include them, I would highly recommend passing the soup through a sieve (a little laborious) or chinois (I love my chinois/China cap; this is the super fast method) before reheating (or adding any broccoli florets that you’d like to keep whole). If you have a high speed blender, you won’t have this problem, so don’t worry about it.

A note to harried mums/moms: I have found that left over broccoli soup makes an excellent pasta sauce the next day with the addition of some other cooked vegetables. It took my kids ages to realize I was doing this!

2 pints water
1 1/2 lbs broccoli (1 bunch including stalks)
1/2 cup raw cashews
6-8 oz potato
1/2 pint plain non-dairy milk (e.g. rice or soy)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice

Put the water on to boil in a medium – large saucepan.

Add the cashews.

Chop the potato and broccoli up into small pieces (especially any stalks), and add to the water.

Bring to a gentle simmer, and cook until the vegetables are soft.

Add the remaining ingredients, and use an immersion stick blender to produce a smooth soup.

Pass through a chinois if necessary.

Adjust seasoning, heat, and serve with garlic almond bread.

Thick Cashew Cream for Desserts

Thick Cashew Cream Sauce for Desserts.

The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and with it, the need for something to go with pumpkin and apple pies, Christmas puddings and mince pies. This cashew sauce is a great vegan replacement for pouring cream regardless of whether you’re avoiding dairy or not. Make it the day before and leave in the fridge for easy entertaining.

1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup water
5 oz firm tofu (not extra firm)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
pinch of salt
1/4 – 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Put the cashews and water into a blender, and blend sufficiently to immerse the cashews. Leave to soak for 1/2 hour to soften the cashews.

Process the cashews again, then add remaining ingredients including 1/4 tsp of the lemon juice, and blend again until completely smooth.

Check for flavor; adjust the sugar level, and add the rest of the lemon juice if you prefer a slightly tarter cream.

At this point, you can either chill it and use as is, or gently heat in a pan before either eating or chilling. This heating process removes the slightly grainy texture, and the chilling thickens the sauce (pourable at room temperature, more like cream cheez when chilled.)

Serve with apple pie, Christmas pudding, apple crumble, pumpkin pie, etc.

Cheese Sauce for Cauliflower/Macaroni Cheez

This delightful, thick, velvety, vegan cheese sauce is great with GF pasta and/or cauliflower for a gluten free, dairy free, vegan alternative for one of the nation’s favorite comfort foods. Not all misos are created equal, however. The one I use is rich, winey, and not too salty in flavor. Make sure you like the flavor of the miso (and mustard) you’re using before adding it to the sauce. This freezes well; just heat, beat, and eat. As an aside: if you want the color to be less vibrant, use less carrot.

Pasta and Cauliflower Cheez

2 cups (16 fl oz) water (or plain non-dairy milk for an even richer sauce)
1 cup (5 oz) raw cashews
2 tsps non-hydrogenated margarine
1 large carrot, sliced or diced
1/2 large yellow onion, sliced or diced
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (not brewer’s yeast)
1 tbsp (scant) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp sesame tahini
2 tbsp light colored miso (I particularly like this chickpea miso (not chickpea and barley))
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp honey mustard (or 1/2 tsp strong made mustard e.g. Colemans)

Put the cashews in the water to soak.

Heat the margarine in a medium sized saucepan over a medium heat, and gently fry the carrot and diced onion in the fat until the onions are softened and translucent.

While the vegetables fry, add the remaining ingredients to the water and cashews.

Once the onion has softened, add the water, cashews, and flavorings to the pan, and bring slowly to the boil (~10 minutes), and simmer gently until the carrot and cashews are soft.

Blend with an immersion stick or counter top blender until silky smooth (this might take a minute or two).

Add a little more water or non-dairy milk if you want to slacken off the consistency.

Heat and serve over cooked cauliflower or GF pasta (or both).

Steamed Pudding

Apricot Steamed Pudding (Variation using apricot jam instead of golden syrup) served with Custard

Missing steamed pudding wasn’t the first thing that went through my mind when I discovered that I couldn’t eat wheat, but being able to eat it makes me feel almost normal! 🙂 This steamed pudding is only moderately sweet, so it can be served with custard or other sweet sauce, and has the required slightly sticky, moist texture. Note that if you can’t get hold of any golden syrup, you may use honey or maple syrup or jam of some description instead, though the flavor will (obviously) be slightly different. I should point out that this recipe might take a long time in the steamer, but it is not difficult to make. Makes 8 servings.

2 eggs
1/4 + 1/2 cup golden syrup or apricot jam, plus extra for serving
1 1/2 oz margarine, plus extra for greasing pudding basin
1/2 cup smooth apple sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
8 oz blanched almond flour
4 oz tapioca flour or tapioca/cornstarch mix
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 fl. oz. (3 tbsp) non-dairy milk

Cover the pudding batter with a sheet of baking parchment, then a layer of tin foil, then use a piece of string to secure the two in place (and make a handle to ease removal from steaming pan).

Grease a 2 pint pudding basin, and grease a disk of parchment paper in the bottom to stop the pudding from sticking.

Pour 1/4 cup golden syrup or apricot jam in the bottom of the pudding basin.

Break the eggs into a large food processor and beat for 10 seconds.

Beat in the margarine for 10 seconds.

Add the 1/2 cup golden syrup or apricot jam and the apple sauce, and process for another 5 seconds.

Add the citrus juice then the dry ingredients, and process until the dry ingredients have been incorporated (~10 seconds, plus a scraping down in the middle).

Add the milk, and briefly process to give a soft dropping consistency.

Turn the mixture into the prepared basin (no more than 2/3rds full), and seal with a sheet of parchment paper and tin foil tied with a piece of string.

Golden Sponge Pudding (Pudding made with Golden Syrup)

Bring 1” of water to the boil in a deep saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Put  a trivet or crossed forks in the bottom of the pan to keep the basin from sitting on the bottom of the pan.

Steam (covered) for 1 1/2 hours, checking every 20-30 minutes to make sure the water hasn’t boiled away, and topped up with boiling water if it has. Serve with almond custard or pouring cashew cream.

Black Bean Soup

This is one of those emergency foods that is ridiculously fast to make, but tastes so good it’s no shame to make it. I’ve seen so many recipes that make black bean soup far too complicated, and much less pleasurable. I usually serve it as it is, but it goes very well with Sweet Corn Soup.

Serves 1-2 people

1 tin black beans, undrained – you’ll be using the juices
1 clove of garlic, minced, or processed first in the food processor to avoid lumps
1 pinch of ground cumin (optional)
½ – 1 cm squared piece of chipotle in adobo sauce (check for gluten in the ingredients)
salt if needed (I use about 1/2 tsp with my brand of beans; smoked salt is also nice)
1-2 tsps lemon juice (or to taste)

In a food processor, blend the beans including tinned juices, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, and chipotle chili.
Check for seasoning, and add salt if required (tinned beans vary the amount of included salt), and lemon juice.
Heat, either in a saucepan or the microwave.

Black Bean and Sweetcorn Soup: add 1/2 cup frozen sweetcorn after blending.
Smokey Black Bean Soup: substitute 1/2 tsp smoked salt for the cumin and chipotle.

Rich, Sweet, Corn Soup

Black bean and sweet corn soups

This soup is sweet due to the flavor of the sweetcorn, and can be served chilled or hot depending on the time of year. It is also a lovely partner to Black Bean Soup. They are both so easy to make, but serving them together side by side in the same bowl makes them good enough to present at a dinner party.

The way to achieve the pretty, distinct shapes is to make one of the soups in a saucepan with a long handle, and put the other into a jug when it is ready to serve so that you can pour the soups from opposite sides of the bowl at the same time. Ying/Yang designs can be achieved by pouring the soups in a clockwise (or anti-clockwise) direction for about 45 degrees.

16 oz frozen (not roasted) sweet corn kernels
3 cups plain non-dairy milk (I use rice milk)
8 oz potato
2 oz vegan cream cheez OR 1/2 cup raw cashews
1 – 2 cm square of chipotle chili in adobo sauce

Cook the potato, either in a microwave according to manufacturer instructions, or boiled, or left over from a previous meal.
Put everything together in a saucepan (excluding the cream cheez, if using), heat to simmering, blend with an immersion blender, sieve or put through a chinois if possible.
Now add the cream cheez, if using, and reheat if necessary.
I don’t think this needs any salt or pepper, but check anyway before serving.