Sushi and bugs

Yesterday evening we had a small party to celebrate my birthday that was a few days back. We had a few friends over and prepared some food.

I love planning food for parties, and even though it’s usually a bit stressful to prepare everything in time, I pretty much love the preparation part too. For parties you get to plan food that you would not make for a normal day, food that maybe takes a bit more time or looks more interesting. And most of all, you get to bake! I love baking and trying out new recipes and ideas for baking, but I don’t want to be the one eating all of it, so parties are great for this.

birthday party

Yesterday we planned for light finger-foods;

  • Vegan sushi in a few different variations, filled with marinated tofu, cucumber, avocado and mango
  • “Ladybug”-crackers based on an idea R found on the mighty world wide web (with cream cheese and parsley, the ladybugs made out of cherry tomatoes, black olives and chives)
  • Carrot, cucumber and celery sticks with a vegan sour cream dip

Ladybug crackers

And of course there was cake! This time I made a chocolate cake based on my favorite brownie recipe, with a filling of vegan white chocolate mousse.

vegan chocolate cake

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A vegan Christmas

We had a great Christmas, even though it was a bit different from what we are used to. We talked to our families through phone and Skype, we met some of our friends at church, we got few but great gifts, and we had some great food.

The food is what this post is going to be about.

Here in Finland we have a bunch of typical Christmas dishes that people usually eat every year, such as different casseroles (“porkkanalaatikko”, “lanttulaatikko”), ham, different kind of salads, and so on. I have kind of found my way to make vegan versions of some of these, and have also added some other dishes that we didn’t necessarily have on the Christmas table when I grew up.

christmas table

So on our vegan Christmas table this year we had these dishes;

  • A vegan ham based on gluten, chickpea and soy flour
  • Porkkanalaatikko, or carrot casserole
  • Red beet salad with home-made mayonnaise
  • Marinated eggplant slices, a vegan version of herring (“silli”)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Mushroom sauce
  • “Ris á la Malta”, which is a dessert based on rice porridge, with vegan whipped cream, oranges and pomegranatesaladdessert

Baking without eggs and dairy

I might not generally be a big fan of PETA (more on why some other time), but I have to admit they do a lot of good things as well. I found this handy infographic on replacing eggs and dairy in baking and I wanted to share it with you guys. It gives a good overview of some easy ways to replace eggs or dairy in your favorite non-vegan recipes. So no more excuses not to bake some vegan goodies!

infographicVeganBaking_PETA_REVISED72

Click the picture to see the bigger version, or for the PDF, click here.

Happy World Vegan Day!

Today is World Vegan Day, the culmination of Vegetarian Awareness Month and my 6th anniversary as a vegan!

World Vegan Day was established in 1994 by the former president & chair of The Vegan Society, to commemorate the Society’s 50th anniversary. That makes this year The Vegan Society’s 70th anniversary! At the same time it’s also the 70th anniversary of the words “vegan” and “veganism”, coined by Donald Watson.

We’ve celebrated this day with some vegan cake. In this case carrot cake (turned carrot cupcake by request of R). The recipe I used is in Finnish, it has been circulating around different places so I’m not sure where it originally comes from. The recipe will make a big baking tray of cake, I made half of the amount which is enough for 12 cupcakes or a smaller cake.

Carrot cake:
2 dl oat or soy cream
6 dl sugar
1,5 dl oil
9 dl finely shredded carrots
6 dl flour
1,5 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
3 tsp vanilla sugar
5 tsp cinnamon

Start by mixing the cream and sugar together. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Pour the batter onto a baking tray (or into muffin liners) and bake in 175 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes (shorter time if you make cupcakes). Let the cake cool down before adding the frosting.

carrot cupcake

Vegan cream cheese frosting:
150 g natural vegan cream cheese (Tofutti)
90 g vegan margarine
6 dl confectioner’s sugar
1,5 tsp vanilla sugar
shredded coconut or almond flakes for decoration

Mix cream cheese and margarine together. Add vanilla and confectioner’s sugar and mix until it’s even. It should be quite thick. Spread on top of the cake (or cupcake) and decorate with shredded coconut or almond flakes (or both!). For 12 cupcakes or a smaller cake you only need to make half of this recipe.

If you don’t have access to vegan cream cheese (which I didn’t have today), this is a good alternative frosting:
90 g vegan margarine
6 dl confectioner’s sugar
1,5 tsp vanilla sugar
about 1 tbsp soy milk (or other plant-based milk)
shredded coconut or almond flakes for decoration

Mix together margarine, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar. Add in the soy milk, if needed you can add a little more than 1 tablespoon, but make sure the mixture doesn’t get too thin. Decorate the same way as you would have done with the cream cheese frosting.

Veganizing your favorite recipes: Blueberry pie

When I was a kid my grandmother used to make a blueberry pie that I really loved, and still do to this day. Unfortunately original recipe contains both eggs and sour cream, which I thought was a hindrance in making it vegan. Because of this I didn’t have this type of pie for many years, until I got an idea of how to make it vegan. I tried out the idea, and it resulted in a pie that tasted pretty much exactly like I remembered it from my childhood.

The original recipe for the dough has 125 g margarine, 1 dl sugar, 3 dl flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 egg. The filling has 2 dl sour cream, 3/4 dl sugar, 1 egg, 2 tsp vanilla sugar, 3 dl blueberries.

bluberry pie

The vegan recipe goes like this:

For the dough:
125 g non-dairy margarine
1 dl sugar
3 dl flour
1 tsp baking powder
a little water or soy milk (to replace the liquid of the egg)

For the filling:
2 dl soft tofu, blended until smooth
(1 tsp potato flour/corn flour)
3/4 dl sugar
2 tsp vanilla sugar
3 dl blueberries

Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar. Add the margarine and mix until the batter is even. Add the liquid and mix again. Spread the dough evenly unto a pie dish.

Mix the blended tofu with sugar and vanilla sugar. If you want you can add a little potato or corn flour to make sure the mixture will stay together, but this might not be necessary. Pour the mixture into the pie dish. Pour the blueberries evenly on top.

Bake in 200 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes.

What I want to say with this post is; don’t be afraid to try to make you favorite non-vegan recipes vegan! You may fail the first time (or then you succeed!), but just get up and try again. It’s worth it for that special food or dessert that you remember from you childhood, isn’t it?

Spicy bean soup (or stew)

This African-inspired bean soup (or stew) was introduced to us by our landlord – she and her husband are missionaries in Kenya. She made it for us once and since we liked it, she taught us how to make it. Unfortunately the recipe doesn’t have any exact measurements, it’s more up to your own taste and whether you like it to be more like a soup or a stew. The herb mix that we have been using lacks a full ingredients’ list, so I’m not sure exactly what is in it, but it’s a blend of salt, pepper, spices and herbs. Hopefully you can still find the recipe useful!

spicy bean soup

You will need:
Chopped onion
Finely chopped garlic
Salt
Herb mix
(Cayenne pepper)
Finely cut fresh tomato
Shredded carrot
Bell pepper, cut into small pieces
Mixed beans (ready to use)

Heat a little oil in a pan. Add onion and garlic and saute until golden brown. Add salt, herb mix (and if you like, a little cayenne pepper). Fry for a while, continuously stirring. Add a little water and let boil for a few minutes. Add the finely cut tomato and shredded carrot. Let boil for a little while longer, then add the bell pepper. Let the mixture boil until it becomes like a paste. Then add the beans and water (the amount of water depending on whether you like it to become a soup or a stew). Let boil for a few minutes for the beans to become warm, then take the pot off the stove.

We usually make this recipe as a stew and serve it together with pasta, which works really great!

 

What do vegans eat? #5: Beans, peas and lentils

Beans, peas and lentils are great! They are highly nutritious and can be used in almost any dish; casseroles, patties, soups, stews, spreads, baked goods etc.

Some beans, peas and lentils include:
Soy bean
Green bean
Kidney bean
Chickpea/Garbanzo bean
Mung bean
Black bean
Red lentil
Green lentil
Beluga lentil
Green pea

legumes

Learning to cook with beans, peas and lentils may take some time and practice. I’m still not great at it, but I learn more all the time. Some types pf legumes are easier to use than others, and since the flavors of the different legumes vary it’s also a lot up to your own taste.

You can choose to cook your legumes from scratch – buying them dried in bulk – which is definitely the cheapest way. You will need soak them in water for at least 4-8 hours, depending on the legume, and then boil on low heat for at least an hour. A list of soaking and cooking times for different legumes can be found here. Some lentils – such as red ones – don’t need soaking, and usually don’t either need to be boiled for that long time.

As a beginner when it comes to cooking with legumes it might be a good idea to start with canned ones. They are a bit more expensive, but much faster and easier to use if the soaking and boiling part seems too hard or time-consuming. When you use canned legumes, be sure to pour out the liquid that they have been preserved in and rinse the legumes, since this will make them easier for your body to digest.

Some legumes, mainly peas, can also be found fresh or deep frozen.

Some of my favorite dishes with legumes include; sweet potato and lentil soup, spicy bean soup, falafel, hummus, different types of patties and marinated beans. Recipes for some of these dishes are coming up soon!

Earlier in the “What do vegans eat?”- series:

#1: Tofu
#2: Plant-based milk & cream
#3: Ice cream
#4: Fruits and vegetables