Travelling

Spring! How exciting is that?

Even more exciting though, is that I’m about to head off to Europe for a bit of travelling.

I expect that this blog may seem a little neglected, much like the vegetable garden. But equally, I may feel inspired to write about my culinary, craft and garden discoveries across Europe.

Anyway, stay in touch and i’ll be back soon.

In the mean time, check out these scrolls I made! The first is mocha, and the second is cinnamon.

Happy spring pals!

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Raspberry tin can cakes

August! The months are coming and going a bit too fast this year don’t you think? August brings a new uni semester, imminent overseas travelling, and a return to the garden to get prepared for spring. Yay! It also brings another Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, this month hosted by Christina at The Hungry Australian, with the theme “Berry Nice to Meet You”.

Now, I love berries. I really do. Every summer we spend hours picking raspberries, making jam and adding them to everything we can think of. As I generally aim to put seasonality as a priority in cooking though, I have to admit to being a tad disappointed at the berry theme coinciding with the depths of winter. Luckily, someone in my family had the foresight to freeze a whole bunch of raspberries over summer, so all was not lost! A great lesson in preserving the surplus! Thank you family.

Preserving the abundance of summer for the scarce winter months has an underserved nostalgia in my mind (I am firmly in the ‘convenience’ generation, so have no personal memories of winter scarcity). But I really love the idea of spending warm summer days bottling, jamming, freezing, drying and cooking up all number of sauces and chutneys for when the garden lies dormant and the trees have lost their leaves. Eating seasonally makes so much sense, and makes eating all the more exciting when a change in weather signals the arrival of new produce (who else is getting keen for asparagus?!) Preserving the summer harvest is something I’m really looking forward to putting a lot of effort into this year.

In the mean time though, please enjoy this rather eclectic offering using last summer’s raspberries. My family certainly did, despite them being a little bit weird. Yes, they were baked in tin cans, and yes, they are a cross between a slice, muffin and a crumble. But don’t hold it against them. Also – hurrah for upcycling! These cakes are yummy, especially served warm with a touch of your favourite diary or non-dairy cream-substance (I recommend vanilla (soy) yoghurt). Warming for winter, yet hinting at the fast approaching summer. I know I’m excited.

Raspberry tin can cakes

(Vegan)

Short crust pastry:
80g margarine/nuttlex/butter/spread
170g plain flour
1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
tiny pinch salt
cold water

Cake:
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used oat)
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 tsp vanilla essence
3/4 cup raw sugar
1 cup frozen raspberries

Crumble:
1/2 cup plain (or wholemeal) flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tablespoons margarine or coconut butter

First, prepare the pastry. Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Rub in the margarine and maple syrup (if using). Add just enough cold water to bind into a dough. Roll into ball and leave to rest in fridge for 20mins.

Next, make sure you have appropriate vessels for baking. I used tin cans cut in half, which meant an appointment with an angle grinder, then a good clean.
If using tin cans, brush the inside of each with oil, and place on a tray lined with baking paper. Be really careful! They have sharp edges! Don’t try this with children!

Preheat oven to 180C.

Roll out pastry to 3-5mm thick. Use the sharp edge of the tins to cut circles of pastry. Lay each on the baking tray, at the bottom of each tin.

Prepare the crumble by mixing all dry ingredients in a bowl, then rubbing in margarine to forum a nice, crumbly crumble (breadcrumb consistency).

For the cake, combine flour, baking powder and soda and salt in a large bowl, mixing well with a whisk. Place milk and vinegar in a medium bowl, then whisk and let it sit for a few minutes. Add oil, vanilla and sugar and whisk together well. Pour wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients, and whisk until well combined. Carefully stir in raspberries.

To assemble, place a cake mix on top of pastry inside the tins. Make the cake layer as large or small as you like. My cake mix came about half way up each (halved) tin. Sprinkle a generous layer of crumble mix on top of each one, then bake for around 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool slightly before removing from tins, then serve however you please.

This post is part of the August Sweet Adventures Blog Hop. To check out the other berry-themed desserts doing the rounds, click on the link above and scroll down.

Adventures in catering – Tom’s 21st.

A couple of weeks ago, I ventured into unchartered territory. My cousin’s 21st promised to be quite a rad event. With the Facebook event stating “90 people are attending”, and an enticing description of the likely happenings (soup, fires, couches, bring your own musical instruments), I was very keen to put my hand up to create some things for people to munch.

Catering isn’t really something I see myself doing as a career, but I do love cooking, and what better way to practise some skills (namely preparing large quantities), than cooking for a big party?

I really enjoyed this. A lot. Coming up with food suitable to all tastes and dietary requirements, as well as planning what to prepare when, is a fun activity for a chronic list-maker. With supplementary soups and meat dishes by my aunty and mum, there was a serious spread on offer. It was lovely to see people enjoying things I’d made, and made the “oh my god I hope they don’t hate it” moments all okay.

Here are some brilliant photos by Kate Kneebone Video and Photography. Check out her work on Facebook too – seriously great things happening from this girl!

Cheers! And happy birthday Tom :)

Hummus trio. Classic, spicy pumpkin, beetroot and thyme. Success. 
100% rye flatbread. For my wheat-free friend.
Vegetarian ‘sausage’ rolls. Mega success, and so sneaky! Even the meatiest of meat eaters were impressed.
Puff pastry pizzas. Potato and rosemary, jerusalem artichoke and lemon thyme, tomato and red onion. Classic. And how good is puff pastry?! Vegan yums!
Assorted vegan muffins. Orange and wattleseed, apple and rhubarb, chocolate.
Gluten-free orange and choc-chip chickpea cakes.

Ginger and pistachio oat biscuits

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You know those times when you just do completely stupid things? Absentmindedly going about your business, then realising the major mistake you just made? I’m generally a fairly switched-on person, but the other day my brain was evidently on holidays.

It was Wednesday, and I was baking a belated birthday cake for my sister. It was a dairy-free version of this red wine pear, polenta and ricotta cake recipe (which was pretty rad), and I’d spent all day labouring over what to use instead of ricotta. Would tofutti do the trick? Or maybe I could make my own ricotta out of various strange ingredients? I decided on firm silken tofu, and was pretty stoked to find it was a brilliant substitute. Due to my recent quest to avoid processed foods, I had even made a special trip to the shops to buy nuttlex.

After several hours in the kitchen, I was pretty pleased with the results. Success! In the morning however, as I opened the microwave, I discovered 125g of re-solidified nuttlex in a glass jug. My heart sank a little as I realised that my brilliant culinary creation of the previous night was less than perfect, being deprived of a somewhat essential ingredient. On a more positive note, the cake suddenly seemed a little bit less unhealthy. Silver lining?

To make a long story short, I now had a jug of nuttlex without a use, and I don’t really use it much in baking anyway so I was a bit lost. But necessity is the mother of invention, and I was quite pleased to prove this adage to be true.

And here is the result! I took to the kitchen armed with my nuttlex and half a bag of Food Forest pistachios I had found in the cupboard, with a vague plan to make biscuits. Add in a little bit of inspiration from the August issue of Bona Food on making your own flour, and I was set. I can tell this one was a baking victory, as my family has been nibbling away all day. Hurrah!

Ginger and pistachio oat biscuits

Makes approximately 20 biscuits

1 cup rolled oats
plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
125g margarine/butter/nuttlex, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted pistachios (approx)

Preheat oven to 180C, and line a tray with baking paper.

Blitz the oats in a food processor until it resembles flour. Place back in a measuring cup and add plain flour to make up 1 1/2 cups in total (- for me this was was about 3/4 cup plain flour).

Place flours in a large mixing bowl, and add baking powder, soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Chop pistachios and add them to the dry ingredients, then mix it all together with a whisk.

Add sugar to melted butter and mix together, then add to dry ingredients. Mix it all together with a spoon. Make 2-teaspoon sized balls of mixture, then flatten and place on prepared tray, leaving adequate space for them to spread. Bake for around 20 minutes, then allow to cool and harden up.

Yum!