Cherry crumble slice

cherry crumble slice

Summer. It’s the season of abundance. Definitely my favourite time of year produce-wise, with all those delicious fruits that are so very missed during the cooler months; tomatoes, plums, peaches, apricots, berries, figs. Fantastic! Having too much of a good thing can be a bit irksome though, specifically when you somehow manage to end up with too much of one thing. The glut.

A lovely friend recently posted on the harvest and yarn facebook page requesting vegan cherry recipes, preferably using a lot of cherries. Firstly, I need to apologise for taking so long getting this up here. It’s one of those chaotic times when writing about food constantly falls to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list, following the ever growing amount of produce that needs cooking, drying or bottling. Secondly, this doesn’t use nearly as many cherries as I would have liked. I rushed straight to the farmers’ market to buy some, and was lucky enough to get a punnet from the last cherry pick of the season. But they were still expensive. I’m sure you’ll understand, Mia :)

To make up for this, I’ll just note that I’m certain you could probably double the cherries in this recipe and it would work just fine. Or even better, use a bigger pan, and triple the cherries! I’ve also found a couple of neat little vegan recipes that look super-tasty, and make me wish I had discovered them at the start of summer:

Homemade cherry ripe bites (Wholesome Cook)
Cherry Garcia Ice cream (Girl Cooks World)

I also had a flashback to a wwoofing experience last year, where we were instructed to cook up sour cherries with 80% as much sugar as fruit, which was then strained and bottled separately as stewed cherries, plus cherry sauce. Could go?

Anyway, fingers crossed cherry season isn’t long gone, but in the likely event that the glut is no longer existent, at least we all have a heads up for next summer.

cherry crumble slice 2

Cherry crumble slice

Base
1/3 cup almonds
1 teaspoon raw sugar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (coconut or olive oil is fine too)
2 tablespoons soy milk

Filling
200g cherries, seeds removed (halving and picking them out is fine)
3/4 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
2/3 cup soy milk

Crumble
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a rectangular dish with baking paper, though it could really be any shape. (Mine was about 25x15x15cm).

Make the base by blitzing the almonds in a food processor to form a course meal, then mixing with the sugar. Add oil and soy milk and combine to form a crumbly mixture. Press about half into the base of the prepared dish.

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl, then add the milk and vanilla essence and stir until well combined. Lay the cherries evenly in the dish on top of the base. If you want to add more, just pile them up a bit. Pour the filling on top of the cherries, ensuring it fills all the gaps.

To the remaining half of the base mixture, add the brown sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle liberally on top of the slice. If you used more cherries, they might poke out the top, but that’d look quirky so don’t worry :)

Bake for 50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean (but don’t worry if it’s not – the cherries keep it moist). Serve warm or cool with something tasty – ice cream, cherry sauce, or ideally both.

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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.

Lemon chickpea slice

Abundance! What a brilliant word. But when it comes to citrus, you really have to get a little bit creative. Oranges are great because you can just eat or juice them. Lemons and limes are a tad more tricky – pickled limes, preserved lemons, marmalade? Tick. And there are still bags of fruit coming off the trees.

Desserts.

Lemon and lime sweets generally use very few fruit, which will hardly make a dent in the abundance of your heaving lemon tree. But any use is better than none, right? Especially a tasty one.

This is a variation on a recipe I posted a while ago for choc-berry chickpea slice. That one was vegan – this one is dairy-free and uses eggs. I must say that this version is rather lovely. It has a much lighter consistency, rather than the more fudgey chia-egg version. Not to say I don’t love a fudgey slice, but the eggs really do make a difference to the texture. Lighter is better when it comes to lemon I think. It also has no oil! Why did I even include that in the first place?! (And it still excites me that you’re getting a little dose of legume in your dessert!)

Lemon chickpea slice

1 cup chickpeas, cooked and drained
1 cup plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup raw sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 180C and line a square or rectangular baking tin (the type for making brownies, or square cakes) – about 20 x 20 or 30 cm.

Whizz the chickpeas in a food processor until the texture resembles something between breadcrumbs and flour. This will be easier if the chickpeas are well-drained.
Place the chickpeas in a large bowl with the flour and baking powder, and whisk to mix together and remove any lumps.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Add to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

Pour the mixture into prepared baking pan and bake for 40 minutes until the top is golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool, then remove from pan and ice with lemon icing by combining approx 1 cup icing sugar with a dash of lemon juice (or dilute with non-dairy milk if you want a more subtle lemon flavour).

When icing has set, cut into slices of your desired shape and size.

Eat.

Cooking from abundance.

There is nothing more satisfying than walking through the garden and making a meal from what’s available. Ever found yourself deciding on dinner then going to the shops to buy ingredients? If so, you might like to read on and discover the joys of creating from what’s available. If you start with what you already have, there’s very little chance you can go down the wrong path and cook out of season, over-processed or well-travelled “food” (read: items from the supermarket). Cooking from the abundance of your garden also gives you this crazy-brilliant feel-good buzz. True! Harvesting actually releases dopamine, and makes you feel good, supposedly a remnant from our hunter-gatherer days, where finding food triggered a release of dopamine, resulting in a feeling of bliss or mild euphoria. (Also supposedly the same process in play with compulsive shopping – ever heard of retail therapy?) But I digress!

Those who know me will be aware that I spent the past 6 months in Victoria, travelling, learning, wwoofing and exploring.

For those not in the know, WWOOF stands for ‘willing workers on organic farms’, and is basically a program whereby you stay on host farms and properties as a wwoofer, working approximately 4-6 hours per day in exchange for food and board, while receiving the benefits of learning and sharing skills, knowledge and culture with your hosts. Pretty cool way of exploring the world.

We spent three weeks at the end of last year on a permaculture property in Violet Town, which was super-peaceful, had an abundance of fruit, and where each day was started with a trip to the olive grove to milk the goat. Our second host was in Castlemaine, where we had stayed several times previously, and ended up being our semi-permanent home for around four months. A secluded and semi-cleared bush property on a hill with a yurt dwelling and a huge vegetable garden.

With each host, we mostly had meals provided, but on occasion (like when we got the chance to farm-sit the Violet Town property for four days) the garden and kitchen were entirely ours to express our culinary creativity. I have to say that while in Violet Town, there wasn’t all that much in the way of abundance except for a lot of greens, goats milk/cheese/yoghurt and fruit. If there is one thing I learnt at that farm it was this:

It is very hard to go wrong if you combine garlic, olive oil, salt and chilli.

This is a winning combination, and even if you only add a few leaves of chard to these ingredients, you already have a pretty delicious side dish.

By the time we got to the second property, we were pretty well into zucchini season. Queue “101 ways with zucchini”. I made everything: pasta sauce, chocolate muffins, stuffed zucchinis, pickle, sandwich fillings… you name it. I’m pretty certain that by March I alone was consuming an average of three zucchinis per week.

But the moral of the story is that cooking from abundance is fun. It allows for an incredible amount of creativity and expression, and it’s unlikely that you any two dishes will ever be the same, because the products of the garden are forever changing and evolving.

So here’s a celebration of home-grown-and-cooked meals, with a selection of my favourite farm/garden meals from my travels.

Homemade fettucini with new potatoes, zucchini and mint

Serves 2

Pasta:
300g flour
3 happy eggs

Topping:
2-3 potatoes, boiled and diced
olive oil
sprig mint, chopped
several (2-4 depending on size) cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 spring onions, sliced
1 zucchini, diced
salt and pepper

Place flour on a clean surface, make a well in the centre and crack in eggs. Mix all together, slowly incorporating flour until a dough is achieved. Knead well and allow to rest for an hour in the fridge. If you have a pasta machine, use it now – roll into thin sheets and cut using the fettucini cutter. Otherwise, it’s a rolling pin and knife.

Heat oil in a pan, add zucchini, spring onions, then garlic, cooking until zucchini is soft. Add boiled and diced potatoes and carefully stir in chopped mint, and season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling water for a few minutes until al dente, then drain. Add pasta to pan with other ingredients and some more olive oil. Carefully mix together. Season with more salt and pepper if required, then serve.

Stuffed roasted zucchini

Excuse the shifty photography…
Serves 2

I totally can’t remember the exact quantities here. Just play.

one large zucchini
3 leaves chard/silverbeet
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
olive oil
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
handful fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup (approx) roasted almonds, chopped
salt and pepper

Cut two rounds of zucchini, hollow out (keeping inside intact) and roast in the oven covered in oil and salt. Dice the remaining zucchini (or another one if not enough), including the hollowed out part.

While hollowed zucchini roasts, prepare filling by cooking remaining zucchini until soft with garlic. Add coriander seeds, and finely chopped chard. Toss in almonds, season with salt and pepper, then remove from heat. Stir through tomatoes and fresh coriander.

Stuff the roasted zucchini with the filling, and garnish with fresh coriander.

I served this on toast (as we had an abundance of bread), but it would definitely go much better with a potato rosti or similar.

Spiced potatoes and chickpeas with chapatis

I’m getting pretty tired, and am doing some major procrastination by writing this, so I’ll just give a basic outline of what’s in this.

chickpeas, cooked
potatoes, diced and boiled
onion, chopped
garlic
whole cumin seeds, roasted
salt
olive oil (farm grown might I add)
pepper
fresh coriander

Combine ingredients in a pan in a logical order, and serve with chapatis:

Chapatis:
flour
water
pinch salt

Combine ingredients to form a dough. Roll out and dry fry in a hot pan. Applying pressure with a tea towel can help them puff up :)