Belated bday reflection part 3: Edible Jurassic Park.

This story comes to you in 3 parts (and I suspect it will get better with each one). All are birthday related. They have been edited in a little bit of time where it seemed the computer would not give out. Anyway, 3 parts: Breakfast, Cake and Edible Dinosaur Landscape.

Part 3: Edible Jurassic-period birthday surprise (a.k.a. the best gift éver).
Picture of mixed salad with tempeh, olives, featuring a mountain of rice shaped like a volcano erupting tomato sauce and a cracker shaped like a brontosaur.

I had not expected any presents this year, because we are all broke and at some point in February my parents had been gracious enough to buy me the fucking expensive waterproof ebook that I am now reading Dune on because I had corroded the butt of the Kindle through frequent use in the bath. I was just really really grateful to have an ebook. But my mum would not be my mum if she did not come up with some outlandish idea that didn’t cost anything more than what was already in the house, but that was on a less pragmatic and purely emotional level about 30.000 times better than an ebook. Like that time she found a discount night light in the shape of a cow and thought that was a bit of a sorry gift so she bought a pair of super-discount pyjamas and I still dream of those pyjamas and wish I had them again. She was somewhat embarrassed to present this as a gift, but I cannot think of a time that I have received a nicer one. Though this one came close.

Picture of mixed salad with tempeh, olives, featuring a mountain of rice shaped like a volcano erupting tomato sauce and a bunch of crackers shaped like dinosaurs in the background.

Yes, there are dinosaur crackers in the shape of a tyrannosaur, stegosaur, brontosaur, spinosaur (no, hadn’t heard of that one before either) and triceratops. And while the brontosaur might now be fictional, I will never stop loving it, if only for that part in the Simpsons where Lisa says “Brontë sisters” and Maggie shows her a picture of a brontosaur and Lisa answers “Oh, Maggie, don’t ever turn two”. But seriously, these picture don’t do it justice. I think this might be even more exciting for 3 year olds, but then it was already very very exciting for me. I was not quite prepared for the full effect of suddenly being surprised with this thoroughly convincing landscape (at least for a non-geologist/archeologist) full of animals/crackers I had, and let’s be fair here, been obsessing over for wééks. It was also really delicious, especially because despite the sheer number of cakes posted here, I am more of a fiend of savoury food.

Picture of mixed salad with tempeh, olives, baked potatoes and crackers shaped like an assortments of dinosaurs.

There were actual mayonnaise puddles, people. Herbed mayonaise puddles. Which crunchy dinosaurs could be dipped into before their sad and untimely extinction. Accompanied by a volcano erupting spicy tomato sauce and red peppers. And lots of arugula. I love arugula. And baked potatoes, which are the best thing I can imagine. There was also some tempeh. I don’t know what else to add. I would suggest anyone just buy some animal cookie cutters and go nuts, be it in cake-form or in giant salad. I don’t think there is a limit to this formula of building landscapes and adding animals. Next year Star Trek cake with actual Enterprises?

Ps. My mum keeps saying that this would be a great way to cater children’s parties, and I disagree: it is also a great way to cater parties for adults.

Kokosyoghurt voor Melk, je kan zonder!

kokosyoghurt

Ingrediënten:

  • 2/3 cup geweekte cashewnoten
  • 800 ml kokosmelk (2 blikjes)
  • 200 ml sojamelk
  • 1/2 tsp guar gum (optioneel)
  • 1/4 cup yoghurt (sojade of van vorige batch)

Blend alles behalve de yoghurt, tot het helemaal romig is. Warm op tot 43 graden (als je geen thermometer hebt: dat voelt lauwwarm). Klop de 1/4 cup yoghurt erdoorheen. Doe in glazen potten met fijne deksel. Ik ben begonnen met sojade omdat daar geen suiker of verdikking in zit. Sindsdien maak ik, als ik de yoghurt in de potten doe, alvast een mini-potje van 1/4 cup dat ik mee laat culturen met de grote potten en de volgende keer gewoon direct door het lauwe kokosmengsel kan roeren. Laat de cultuur 8 uur ontwikkelen in een dehydrator op 43 graden. Dit werkt uitstekend omdat de dehydrator een constante temperatuur heeft die ideaal is voor yoghurt. 

Schommelingen in temperatuur of te hoge of te lage temperatuur, waardoor de goede bacteriën niet groeien, zorgen voor gedoe. Ik vermoed dat de oven kort voorverwarmen, op de laagste stand en dan de yoghurt daarin laten beginnen, ook een optie is, of langer wachten, dus het is even zoeken naar wat er het beste voor je werkt met de spullen die je hebt. Een collega maakt yoghurt met sojamelk in de koelkast, wat een paar dagen kost en dat is misschien handiger als je verder geen stabiele temperatuur buiten de koelkast hebt. Na het culturen kan ie gewoon in de koelkast en is ie hetzelfde als iedere andere yoghurt.

Wil je meer iets kwarkigs, gebruik dan een theelepel guar gom. Geen guar gom? Ik vermoed dat xanthaangom ook zou werken, maar zonder kan ook prima, alleen is het dan meer drinkyoghurt. Het kan nog steeds goed over muesli en fruit en in smoothies en er zitten nog steeds supergezonde bacteriën in! Is ook heel erg lekker met appels, kaneel, rozijnen en een theelepel palmsuiker, net appeltaartyoghurt.

Ps. Dit recept is geïnspireerd op het recept in Miyoko Schinner’s Artisan Vegan Cheese. Er staat ook een yoghurtrecept in haar andere geweldige boek The Homemade Vegan Pantry, en het boterrecept is ook briljant. Ik heb nog geen bladerdeeg ermee gemaakt, maar de boter an sich is veelbelovend. Zie ook het volgende recept voor ‘buffel’ mozzarella.

Kombucha Smoothie Pick-me-up!

Happy New Year! Just a quick one! I found out that if you use kombucha and frozen fruit, you can recreate an ice cream treat I used to get at a local ice cream store years back. I wasn’t a fan of milkshakes back then either, but they did make a thing called a fruitshake, where they blended fizzy water with lots of sorbet. Especially strawberry was good. Last week I was craving ice-creamy dessert and had left-over frozen mango. And so I blended it with some mint and frozen strawberry topped off with kombucha.

Picture of a kombucha smoothie in a mason jar with glass straw and mint garnish against a blue background.

It tastes almost exactly the same (with a vague hint of kombucha-soapy-taste, it’s actually really nice) as the fruitshake and with a little stretch of the imagination, you could call it healthy. But even if it wasn’t, you should go and make this, because of how delicious it is. You do need kombucha for this, but I already gave you all the info you could ever need with that.

Picture of a kombucha smoothie in a mason jar with glass straw and mint garnish against a blue background.

You just add the frozen fruit until the glass is filled and then top off with the kombucha, you can make it in any size container, or directly in your blender. I use the same method for my morning-smoothies. A tiny bit of vanilla, or mint is also quite delicious. I sometimes add some drops of stevia if it isn’t sweet enough.

Thank you Ms. Schinner!

I have made a few recipes from Miyoko Schinner’s Artisan Vegan Cheese by now, with varying degrees of success, and I can honestly say there’s no other vegan cheese book that can hold a candle to it. The Cheesy Vegan has a really nice though somewhat runny silken-tofu-based cream cheese that was gorgeous on bagels with chives, but the cheese I used as pizza topping and the blue cheese were both pretty much revolting. The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook was one of the first vegan cookbooks I ever tried, it was one of the three available in the library, and it put me off veganism for 3 years, until I decided that animal welfare meant more to me then the taste of cheese.

Picture of an open faced mozzarella and basil sandwich on a wooden board against a purplish blue background. Also visible is a potted plant, a chair, and a cat on the chair smelling the sandwich.

One should probably not triple Miyoko Schinner’s recipe for mozzarella, especially not if it is used to make mini-mozarella, resulting in so many tiny mozarella-balls half of one’s fridge is filled with them. Also, making them in those quantities means that it is hard to sufficiently heat the mixture, which results in a more spreadable, less melty mozzarella than something that would be ideal for putting on sticks. If you heat it properly it will become scarily similar in texture to dairy mozzarella (and the taste is indistinguishable regardless). The badly-heated one does make for a spreadable sandwich filling that is absolutely delicious though, and it actually reminded me of fresh goat’s cheese. So “Elk nadeel heb z’n voordeel” (“Every con has its pro”) as our famous Dutch soccer coach Johan Cruijff would say. The cat, as you can see, agreed.

Picture of a mozzarella and basil sandwich on a wooden board against a purplish blue background.

I am still getting the hang on most of the cheese-recipes, culturing things is a tricky business, and I am much better at kefir and kombucha than I am at rejuvelac, yoghurt or cheese. The mozzarella and brie are a happy exception, but most of it is tricky and many is the time that I’ve found moldy cheese, or forgotten about perfectly fine cheese and then have it turn angry and sour on me. One of the things I did manage to tackle in the end though, were rolls of chèvre. I desperately wanted to put those on top of a pizza with Daiya mozzarella, because it is the closest one could even come to my favourite pizza from pre-vegan days. This one, dare I say it, is better, if only because the sauce and dough on my version is actually handmade, proper, garlicky delicious, and not something dropped by a machine on something that’s more cardboard that pizza-crust. Both my own coconut-milk-based cheesy spread and the cashew cheese on top of that are better than the original.

Picture of a mozzarella and basil sandwich on a wooden board against a purplish blue background.

I don’t want to be too negative about other vegan “cheese” books, they might work for you, but both with the Cheezy Vegan and the Uncheese Cookbook, I pretty soon decided that I’d rather not eat any cheese than the things they claim will substitute cheese, maybe with the exception of a tweaked version of tofu feta. And it’s unnecessary to eat bad cheese as a vegan, because there’s lots of creamy sauces and cashew fondue and baked marinated tofu to be had that is not cheese per se, but that is tangy and delicious in its own right. If you are on the fence about Artisan Vegan Cheese, buy the VegNews Cheese Issue and see how it goes. It went amazing for me! Then you can decide if it’s worth buying. The difference between that book and the others is of course the fermentation, because however much nutritional yeast, miso, salt, garlic, lemon juice or vinegar, it just won’t be fermented like cheese, and Miyoko Schinner’s recipes actually are fermented like cheese! And especially with the lighter cheeses, like mozzarella and brie, that culturing adds precisely the right tang. I am currently air-drying a parmesan, so I’ll let you know how that went.

On Laundry and Ice Cream!

First, I’ll give you a recipe. Then I’ll give you some tips. We got the Zoku Shake-maker thing. We already had the popsicle maker, and we like that one a lot! The shake-maker is also rather nifty. I wouldn’t call what it makes granita or shake, it is more of an awkward ice cream, but it is really delicious. It’s not the Magimix Turbine à Glace, but it is better than the motorized 250 euro costing one we had before the Turbine, but that we had to return because it was so loud we heard it when we put it out on the balcony. So that’s not bad for a 15 euro gizmo that works without electricity.

Picture featuring a round container (the zoku shake maker) filled with bright pink raspberry sorbet garnished with two mint leaves and a few chocolate shavings.

Get a cup. Fill it 2/3 with fruit (I used frozen cherries and strawberries), add a splash of agave nectar and a tablespoon of almond butter. Add water until the fruit is covered. Add a handful of mint if desired, and sweeten with stevia to taste. Blend this all up, add to the Zoku together with either a handful of chocolate chips, or some nuts, or cookie crumbs, or toasted coconut flakes. Do the stirring thing. Then put on a movie and enjoy. You can make this as healthy as you’d like. The texture improves remarkably with the added agave, but you can sweeten it the rest of the way with stevia if you’d like. I have done this with my morning smoothie, but the texture is really depressing when you use unsweetened smoothie with chia seeds and kale…

Picture featuring a round container (the zoku shake maker) filled with bright pink raspberry sorbet garnished with two mint leaves and a few chocolate shavings.

Now for a movie-tip: if you like the 80’s, intercultural relationships, skinheads seeing the error of their ways and embracing old “friendships”, a young Daniel Day Lewis (& an equally gorgeous Gordon Warnecke), sex involving bubbly wine, tight jeans and squatters (I happen to have a soft spot for each and every one of those), you should watch My Beautiful Launderette. I think my dad recommended it a few years ago. I won’t say it’s a fun movie, it is a bit strange with a fuckload of dark shit happening in the not-so-fortunate parts of society during Thatcher (or: duh). But I repeat, Daniel Day Lewis, young! With champagne! If you then need a bit of a laugh, because you are both deeply saddened and hugely excited from watching Laundrette, you should read Al Dente by David Winner. Who knew the Ancient Romans were the first designer-water drinkers? It might have not been bottled, but it was branded and hyped up. For real!

Melty Daiya!

I told you about the friend got me Daiya and I may have used it in everything. It turns out I am not a fan of the cheddar slices. But the mozzarella is a lot milder and I don’t think people really notice the difference between this and what’s on regular frozen pizzas. Anyway, it is really good so I put it on everything. I put it on a hummus-pesto-hybrid made from fresh green peas, pine nuts and mint for some fancy open-faced grilled cheese. A little bit of sriracha gave it more of a kick, which I like.

Picture of two open-faced sandwiches with mint-pea spread and melted daiya.

Having had a chance to try Teese, Sheese, aforementioned Cheezly, Tofutti, Violife, Wilmersburger and Daiya, and some tofu-feta-goat-cheese thing from a Berlin health food store that was so good I had three blocks of it in 5 days, I can say that some of those have their use. I recommend you completely ignore the first three. They’ve ruined otherwise perfectly cheeselessly delicious meals. Tofutti slices are doable if inferior, but their cream cheese is perfect, exactly that same fatty, little bit bland, rich weird creamy thing that is regular cream cheese, with not a hint of soybean. Violife is quite similar to what you can get in Dutch supermarkets pre-sliced in packets, and the same goes for Wilmersburger. I especially recommend the latter, also for grilled cheese. Daiya is the only one of those that melts somewhat realistically and the mozzarella is neutral enough to work with anything.

Picture of a bowl of chili topped with shredded daiya.

Right, my initial point of this post was that chili is really tasty with a handful of Daiya, and I made a discovery: they have smoked paprika powder at a store just a short bike ride away. I had been looking for smoked paprika for the longest time and there it suddenly was, next to the cash register. It is the best thing ever to have happened to both chili and BBQ. And sauces. And tomato soups. And salads that need a bit of heat or smoke. And tofu rubs. And baked potato fries. I’ve found the sweet variety there as well, so now I put it in almost everything.

Picture of a bowl of chili with shredded daiya.

As you can see, my mum’s cooking course is really paying off. The structure of our breads has improved drastically. I am learning from a distance, and have now learned to make the best pasta I’ve had in my life so far. Penne all’ arrabbiata is something new, but it’s the kind of spicy even my family enjoys on occasion. And you can make it as spicy and with as much vegetables as you want. It takes a maximum of 20 minutes? 30 if I am very precise and finicky about it. So you should try it. I used a Jamie Oliver recipe (without dead anchovies of course), because his method of cooking is roughly similar to that of the course. You cook your pasta until just south of al dente (for me, with spaghetti that’s probably 5 minutes, 6 with a bigger pasta) and then cook it the rest of the way with a cup of cooking water added to the sauce (takes me 2 minutes usually). It makes for a really nice bite and a sauce that actually sticks to your pasta without clumping or the need for olive oil to prevent said clumping. It’s so simple and so much better that I don’t know why we didn’t start cooking pasta like this years ago! I blame the Dutch and their total lack of pasta-understanding. Or possibly a lack of Italians in my life.

James Tiberius Kirk

I often wonder if I antropomorphise my cats too much. I guess it won’t hurt them if I think of them as tiny furry humans, hell, they probably think of me as a huge relatively clumsy cat. At least that’s what the book suggests. What finally convinced me that we are in essence pretty similar creatures, is Captain James Tiberius Kirk (the original). I am more a TNG and Voyager fan (with a huge Garak-weakness), and you can wake me up for Commander Tucker any time of night.

Picture of a bowl of cherry-banana nice cream against the deck.

I am not so much a fan of TOS because it is difficult not to laugh or fall asleep because of the very lengthy pauses and stage-like over-acting common in the 60’s. But then there’s Kirk (and Nichelle Nichols <3). Don't get me wrong, it is completely logical that Spock became the sex symbol. But I react to Kirk the way my cats react to butterflies. Whatever I’m doing, if there is Kirk, I will become pre-occupied and stare at him transfixed. I can’t say that I start batting at the computer screen, but I cover my mouth with my hands every now and again in overexcitement.

Picture of a bowl of cherry-banana nice cream against the deck with a cat looking at the bowl in the background.

To go with the Kirk and aloof cats, you should probably make banana-sorbet. There’s so many recipes on the internet that you hardly need my extra input, but I should say that I usually add some extra maple syrup to the sour cherries, and have added chocolate chips on occasion. It was really good. It’s not “just like ice cream, yum” (Kristina really gets on my nerves), but it is an excellent snack or even a proper meal when combined with hot cereal. Also, huge coconut flakes are my new favorite thing. Oh, and always add vanilla. It makes the sorbets go from “quite good and fruity” to “what is this ambrosia (sort of)”.

I’ll leave you with something only mildly Star Trek related: Shatner does Common People. Maybe next time we will discuss the ins and outs of Cardassian politics.

Vegan Mashup!

I’ve supported Vegan Mashup twice so far. And right now, I am really loving the second season. No matter how much fun it is to see Miyoko Schinner make “unbirds”, it is even better to watch her feed the chickens, and have Fran Costigan talk about ethical vegan chocolate. She is lovely by the way, and I thought she seemed a bit scary from the picture in the Vegan Chocolate book. Back on topic: you can buy and or rent it on Vimeo On Demand, and I suggest you do. Especially for the second season. And also because it is a good thing to support people making a vegan cooking show.

Kombucha and kefir

Little did I know that when you forget to do something with your kefir for a few days, not only do you end up with lots of kefir grains, but also with cider! This is a welcome surprise (I read something along those lines in the fermenting book, but it also looked like it would take forever), because the last time I made cider, it wasn’t just disgusting, it also exploded all over the living room, the garden, our cats and the neighbours’ dog. Seriously. We had to repaint a part of the ceiling (and clean part of a cat). The kefir is non-explosive and tastes good which is quite a relief. Since the grains are growing like mad, I can also give them to all interested friends. My sister has approved of the kefir, and if she approves of food, you know it’s good.

Picture of a glass of kombucha and a glass of kefir.

The same goes for kombucha. A friend of my dad’s (whom he met at work in Amsterdam), got us a SCOBY and I can’t thank her enough! She gave us two, but now I only have one left because I could’t keep up with the amount of babies it kept producing and the amount of kombucha I had to drink. Kombucha is basically the roller coaster of the lemonade-world. There are no known health-benefits, it is a bit of an unusual activity when you look at it objectively and it is almost completely safe, but a few unlucky people have accidentally died because of it. I am still in very good health after drinking quite a lot of both homemade and store-bought kombucha (and am willing to bet there’s probiotics there and in any case a delicious low-sugar carbonated soda). I can report that home-made tastes a lot better than store-bought. So it has gotten to the point where I serve it to friends, but maybe I will never feel safe enough to serve it to frail old people or pregnant women.

Picture of a glass of kombucha.

Back on the SCOBY: it turns out ours is of noble breading, its grandmother originating at Goldfinch. Which is not only nice to know, it also turns out this is an incredible source of information! I can certainly recommend the True Brews book, and although I have only read it and not tried any recipes yet, I also really like the Delicious Probiotic Drinks book. But the Goldfinch website settled a few issues that my books did not address (“My SCOBY looks a little bit like the elephant man grew a beard, is this normal?”). It is, and the recipe takes a bit longer than the book says, which I noticed, because last time I checked it after 7 days it was still rather sweet. I will update you on the cider, and let me know if you want a SCOBY. Mine is having babies like crazy! I can hardly keep up. Babies come with healthy SCOBY, so I just need do find more friends who aren’t afraid of things that look like a cross between a jellyfish and an illegal organ donation.

Picture of a scoby in a jar covered with cheesecloth.

Ps. I think Welcome to Night Vale had a very applicable sentiment to utter about kombucha. Actually, it was about beauty, but it still applies: “There is a thin semantic line separating weird and beautiful and that line is covered in jellyfish.”

Stuffed Courgette Flowers

Last summer we had courgette flowers, so we stuffed them. With the wonderful VegEZ recipe for herbed tofu cheese ricotta. And then we breaded them in this batter sans sesame seeds, fried them, and it was delicious. I had to share, otherwise I’d have eaten all of the flowers.

Picture of stuffed fried courgette flowers.

I definitely recommend frying. I’ve also seen raw versions, and I’d definitely experiment with different fillings if you have a favorite vegan ricotta or some other creamy stuffing that holds its shape. But the crispy, fatty outer part, just go for it. I wouldn’t say so if I didn’t think it was worth the oil. We don’t have a deep fat fryer, so it takes time, effort to fry stuff, but this time it was very much worth it.

Picture of stuffed fried courgette flowers.

Quicky Dinner: Noodle Bowl.

There’s a few of my go-to recipes so simple that you can hardly call then recipes. I make them quite often, sometimes a few times in a row. They all take a maximum of 20 minutes? Seeing how this is a big part of the cooking I do, I thought I’d share. It’s practically impossible not to like the recipes, because if you don’t like it you can adapt them as much as you like without any chance of failure. For those of you thinking: “But Aster, where are the vegetables in this?”, I’d like to point out that herbs are really good for you and if you feel the need to add broccoli, go right ahead. Coarsely grated carrot is also really nice. Tofu, regrettably, didn’t add anything, and I say that as someone who feels even plain baked tofu with a bit of salt on top is delicious.

Picture of a bowl of noodle soup with green herbs.

I would always add the ginger and garlic, the soup becomes bland without it. Spring onions are really nice, but a small yellow onion works as well. Pea and maize-vermicelli is the best, I got it at the Persian market around the corner. Brown rice vermicelli also works well, but is less chewy. Be sure to check that your noodles don’t have eggs. The recipe is ridiculously straightforward. Fry the onion with the garlic and some grated ginger (along with the optional carrot) in a tiny pan while you cook the vermicelli in another one. Use the water cooker if you’re really impatient (I am). Add some tamari, vegan wochestershire sauce and mirin and let it simmer. When the pasta is done, add that, along with half a bouillon cube (or use stock instead of water). In the meantime I have grated the zest of a lemon and chopped some fresh herbs. Then I add some sriracha sauce, put it in a bowl and add the zest and herbs. Voila, almost instant pan-asian-fusion for one. I prefer mine spicy and very lemony, but you could try the opposite. Roasted sesame oil is good, but not a must.

Baked Alaska

The Recipe: Baked Alaska

Picture of a baked alaska on a white plate against a grey background. It's piped with a star tipped nozzle.

I’m warning you: this post will be rather self-congratulatory. See, I baked an Alaska. The internet usually overhypes the difficulty of recipes, and probably any gimmicky cook with an ounce of self-respect can out-alaska-bake me in a second. However, their alaskans are not vegan. But mine is, and I’ll assure you it’ll work just as good. It’s not that hard, it just takes some patience and some kitchen gadgets.

Picture featuring two baked alaskas on white plates against a grey background. One is piped with a star tipped nozzle, the other round and has a piece cut out that's plated and featured most prominently.

It’s pretty damn straightforward. You just bake brownies from Vegan Cookies, then top with chocolate ice cream. That ice cream in itself was quite the victory: it’s probably the best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever eaten. In my life. Even beating a strange chocolate-amaretto flavor I once had in Rome, both vegan an non-vegan store bought and, dare I say, my dad’s home made chocolate ice cream by a mile. Did I mention it’s sugar-free, fiber-rich and full of almondy goodness? I probably shouldn’t have, but if you plan on feigning healthy, you could skip the alaska and go straight for the ice cream.

Picture of a partially melted piece of baked alaska on a white square plate against a grey background.

But this is decadent-dessert-time, not health-food-obsession-time. This’d be the perfect recipe for a formal dinner, if you have the time to bake and serve for dessert. As always, I’d advise you to check out Ms. Humbles post first. It’s full of useful information, although the baking of our vegan meringue is slightly different from the regular meringue in this case. You’ll need to bake it slightly longer, until the tops turn brown. The ice cream won’t melt if you make sure it’s cold to begin with.

Oyster Mushroom Kalamari

Oyster mushrooms can do anything. They are delicious in a ragout and, well, in anything. And they cost about their weight in gold and sometimes they’re worth it. But I did add some button-mushrooms for variety, which turned out great. I just halved or quartered them, and I can definitely recommend it. I used a part of a recipe from the Millennium cookbook, but over the years I’ve used very little and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. But I saw a picture of the kalamari. And had to make them. I did away with the stir fry, and we had it with some rice.

Picture of different fried mushrooms with tartar sauce on a white plate.

Photographing mushrooms pretending to be dead squid is a challenge. Photographing that attractively I mean. They don’t really do colour, or variety. Just texture. And taste, but I can’t capture taste in a picture. The mushrooms have a chewiness and a deep lovely taste, that squid can’t hold a candle to. And let the squid swim, swim freely!

Quiche

It’s Tarte A L’Alsacienne. Fill the sour cream with sautéed onion and garlic and zucchini. Then top with tomato slices (I used 6 or 7) and bake. Better than your average quiche. And so much healthier. Add some extra salt, pepper, nice herbs (garam masala or smoked paprika would be great, I used oregano, tarragon and thyme). This can be done with cooked potato, baked mushroom, basically, anything, inside or on top. Don’t forget the black pepper. The adding of nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor wouldn’t hurt either, but just the cashew is better, if you ask me. Less complicated but somehow more tasty because of that.

Close-up picture of a quiche with tomato slices arranges in a circular pattern. The quiche sits atop a cooing rack with small black metal squares that contrast with the table underneath it.

Tarte A l’Alsacienne

It started out, innocently enough, with Mad Men, the second series dvd-box. It’s one of the few dvd’s I kept after the big purge. There was a recipe for tarte aux pommes à l’alsacienne. I saw it at 3 in the morning while stressing over schoolwork, thinking: “I should do this after I’ve glue-gunned this skirt, somewhere in the near future”, then proceeding to burn myself with said glue-gun.Second situation leading up to this tarte: lots of prunes, relatively good but not ripe enough to eat out of the hand. Then the old recipe came into my head, and I thought: bingo, I should do that. Google-y google-y and then there were some lovely original French recipes, and combining my limited knowledge of French (turns out it’s more than adequate to read recipes) with the need to veganize everything turned out fine. You’ll make a cashew-based cream filling with a blender. The cake will be firmer if you do so the night before, but it will work on the spot, even though it’ll sink more.

Picture of an unbaked plum tart on top of a wooden table in front of a blue radiator. The top of the pie consists of slices of peach arranged in circles reminiscent of flower petals.

The original called for 4 apples, so I used 6 large prunes. They were in season. It will work with every fruit, just use what you think is the equivalent of 4 apples, about 3 cups? It’s somewhere in between clafoutis and a cream-pie. My dad tasted it thinking it was quiche and was (somewhat unpleasantly) surprised. We were all wondering why he was having cake in the middle of his dinner. Turns out this is also a very nice base for quiches, if you use vegetables. More on that next time. There’s a few ways of baking it. You can arrange the fruit, then pour the cream (see pictures). If you have to transport it or want to prevent it from looking really dreary the second day (say, you wan’t cake and do not have impress via dinner party) just mix it all in. Tastes the same, won’t become blotchy/stained and crackly the second day! In the first case you’ll want to spend some time making nice half-moon shapes, in the second case, just chop and mix. Which reminds me: slivered almonds wouldn’t taste half bad on top, nor would some chocolate sauce.

Picture of plum tart on top of a wooden table in front of a blue background with some whole plums and mint leaves in the background.

I suggest your making this tart and then renting a decent french movie, invite some friends, if one of them has a beamer/big screen tv: bribe them by making things dipped in chocolate sauce. Then, in the tradition of my lovely high school French teachers, proceed with a French-movie-night. Never have I had such fun as having pain au chocolat while watching Harry un ami qui vous veut du bien. Actually, we had some very icky dutch cookies. But one can dream, can’t they?

Lemon-Basil Mojito

The Recipe: Lemon-Basil Mojito

So here’s the easiest of recipes, but fucking impressive none the less. The thought went along the lines of: “God that lemonade-mojito-thing in Prague was good, and damn, that lemon-basil sorbet in the shop around the corner is delicious: let’s put two and two together.” Also: what are the more delicious counterparts of lime/mint/rum? Yes, indeed: lemon/basil/vodka. Make sure to get the good organic stuff or at least check your vodka is vegan (Stoli is).

Picture featuring a bottle of Utkins UK5 vodka and a glass of lemon basil mojito.

This drink is different but equally good virgin. The vodka just adds a little kick. It’s the lemonade and the styling that gives it the wow-factor. It’s a recipe, it only requires some lemons, basil, agave and your hands. Cheesecloth is optional but highly recommended: you could use a strainer or a clean towel. Mashing the basil in the glass mojito-style does a lot for presentation, blending it (or a mashing/chopping combo) then steeping along with the zest is more practical and will prevent the spitting out of leaves. If you use a high dosage of basil, it will turn your drink a bright neon-green.

When I tried something French…

I give you: homemade sausage in a french-like beanstew. Suggest using beans from scratch as well, they’re way more delicious.

Picture of tomato stew with beans, carrots and celery in a white bowl, topped with slices of seitan sausages.

For the sausage, it’s best to watch the video Julie Hasson made. I dislike her commercialism, but all her recipes (except for the biscotti, ughh, horrible biscotti) are excellent. The bean stew is compiled of the leftover beans (I started out with one cup dried cannelini beans), and everything else in our fridge, The parsley is so yellow because it’s celery, that was the only thing we had on hand.

Picture of three seitan sausages on a small wooden board against a black background.

The things in the fridge were something along the lines of carrot, onion and an old celery stalk. I added some more or less french herb-like-mixture and some canned diced tomatoes. Together with a little broth. The sausages taste incredible. I used some cheesecloth to steam them, because that’s reusable and works well. Just be sure to tie it real tight with some string. After steaming, just cut them up and bake them, or make long ones and use them whole as a hotdog.

Bonbons

Picture of two bonbons in a small folded out box.

I attempted a bonbon recipe. It looks great. But it doesn’t work 100% of the time. I had my mom test it, and it came out slightly soggy and separating. And I haven’t a clue as to why. It still needs lots more testing.These pictures are from the very first batch, a batch that went surprisingly well.

Close up of two bonbons in a small folded out box.

Until then, here’s some stimulating food for thought. From Joshua Katcher, brilliant man. This interview is absolutely worth the read. It is a nuanced, intelligent, inspiring, non-judgemental piece.

Gluten-Free Vegan Donuts

Check out the new the new Babycakes book, it is wonderful. These donuts are a pillowy wonder of crispy fluffiness, somewhat soggy, like donuts are supposed to be. I say this with the experience of having eaten one donut in my entire life, about 6 years ago, pre-vegan. Anyways, these are good, especially the cinnamon-sucanat coated ones. Credit to my mom for being hand-model.

Picture of three miniature donuts, one with coconut topping, one with cinnamon sugar, one with chocolate frosting, placed on a horizontal line on a hand over a wooden tabletop.

I froze the lot of them, because I had a little more than planned (do not double the recipe). Just reheat in toaster and top. Get yourself some mini donut pans, they’ll be worth it and they’re easy to use. I prefer the silicone ones. Then you have a proper donut at cookie size, which is more delicious than the ones that start to become a chore halfway through. Did I mention these are made from brown-rice flour?

Milk & Cookies

This recipe is a double one: the leftovers from the milk are a key ingredient in the cookies. All you need is a blender and a big bowl, or food processor. The cookies will be tiny, but there will be lots, so if you package them nicely, you have the perfect gift.

Picture of nine tiny cookies arranged in two rows on a hand over a wooden tabletop.

These taste like a cross between Dutch bitterkoekjes and amaretti, with the texture of a bitterkoekje (little crunchy on the outside marzipan on the inside) and the little almond kick of amaretti. We ate the entire batch in a span of three hours between the four of us because they are a little addictive.

Chocolate Extravaganza!

Today I am mooching off of the recipes of others and combining them in a different way. A 250 gram bag of pitted dates (just as cheap as those with stone) from Terra Sana will give you exactly the amount of dates you need for both the brownie and the frosting. Then all you need are 750 grams of small bananas and two cups of your favorite non-dairy milk, and you’re off. I trust you have all the other ingredients on hand (cocoa powder, coconut oil, shredded coconut, walnuts, salt, maybe vanilla/coffee/orange/chili or some other tasty thing you want to add).

Picture of frozen banana popsicles, raw brownies and chocolate milkshake.

This brownie will not taste like traditional brownie at all but it’s a little reminiscent of the super-fudgye-sugary-crakley brownie concoctions you get at the Bijenkorf. As for the frosting: therein lies the real miracle. It doesn’t contain anything even slightly troubling (like sugar or margarine, heck, not even agave). Yes, your frosting will hint of date. But not overpowering, it will taste a little like caramel. I usually go with unscented oil (it was all I had on hand). The consistency is divine. I’ve been known to frost regular cupcakes with it, but make sure they’re very COLD because this frosting is just as melty as sugary frosting is.

For these recipes, start by freezing your bananas Everyday Dish style (3 of them cut into 9 tiny popsicles total). Ours will be way healthier in comparison to theirs: go sugarfree semi-raw frosting! Then make the brownie, fill the pan, use the blender for the frosting (no cleaning required), frost the brownies. Dip your bananas, maybe roll them in some topping. Put the leftover banana(s) into the blender container with the leftover frosting and the milk. There you have your milkshake. Alternatively, you could just eat the leftover frosting with a spoon and call it mousse, but that wouldn’t be a banana-breakfast shake, now would it?

Close up of frozen banana popsicles.

One more sidenote: when I took the pictures our kitchen was still being remodeled, so I had to do with the tiny space between my bed and book closet for photos. Also: there was no pastry bag, no decent knives and a shortage of plates. This explains both the messy frosting and the minimal clean-up needed (almost none if I’d have used a square pan) for this recipe. Furthermore: I mostly use non-raw cocoa for raw recipes. Right now I don’t have access to raw cocoa and it’s very very expensive.

PS. It seems I forgot to post the original recipes. Embarrassing. So, here’s Laura-Jane the Rawtarian’s version of the brownie and the best damn chocolate icing ton the planet. Please ignore her pro-rawfood missionary-like tendencies. Also, use 125 grams of dates per recipe. It’s a tiny bit less then she does, but I find it less overpoweringly sweet that way.

Typically Dutch: Tompoezen for Everyone

OK, these are for everybody except those with-nut allergies, I’m sorry. It might be doable with silken tofu and/or soymilk, but the taste will suffer. Cashews are just the magical answer to most dairy-related problems. I haven’t found another answer yet, although sesame-pinenut-cheese is giving me hope.

Close-up picture of a mini-tompoes on a plate with pink frosting and two more tompoezen in the background.

These are incredibly delicious. It’s tastes (nearly) authentic, looks great, and you needn’t tell anybody our dirty little secret. Just pretend it came from cows, no one will notice, or at least no one will be able to tell you exactly what it is you did to make it as good as or even better than the original. For those of you who know the Netherlands: these are industrial strenght HEMA-style but without the dead pigs hooves, milk and eggs. Don’t skimp on the sugar, because that gives it it’s HEMA-authenticity, and I already downgraded it quite. Tompoezen is spelled tompoucen in Belgium and the south of the Netherlands, but HEMA still says tompoes, not tompouce, so we’ll stick with that.

Picture of three mini-tompoezen on a plate with pink frosting.

One recipe makes 18 mini tompoezen with just enough filling and frosting for 1 packet of puff pastry. Three mini-tompoezen would make one HEMA-tompoes. So effectively, this recipe makes 6, but they’re a little less overwhelming in mini-form.