A few days ago we got an invitation for a friend’s “Flower-power” spring themed birthday party. She requested that we bring something that reminds us of spring. So not wanting to do the typical spring flowers, and my idea of a jar filled with natural fertilizer being banned by the other 50%, we settled on cake.
My first idea was to create a three layer lemon-poppy seed cake, with a fruity filling, cover it in yellow marzipan, and then decorate it with sugar paste flowers (daisies, mostly). But the store being closed and a certain lack of ingredients and time meant I had to find an alternative. Pinterest and a childhood memory of no bake cheese cakes to the rescue. After browsing for a while for spring-themed cakes, I settled on a blueberry no bake cheesecake. Mixing a vegan recipe, with a not even vegetarian one (the childhood cake uses gelatine, and turning it vegetarian was a challenge. And it turned right the first time round!
I basically adapted & mashed so many recipes that it’s not even worth it mentioning them, since this cake doesn’t resemble any of them any more.
Happy Birthday for the flower power girl
For the crust
- 200 grams “maria” cookies
- 100 grams butter
For the cheesecake
- 300 grams cream cheese, room temperature
- 250 grams Greek yogurt
- 375 ml cream
- 250 grams blueberries
- 125 grams sugar
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 2 grams agar agar powder
For the topping
- 200 grams blueberries
- 4 grams agar agar powder
- 25 grams sugar
- 50 grams blueberries
- sugar flowers
- (fresh edible flowers if you can find them – I couldn’t)
No bake blueberry cheesecake
For the crust
- Line the bottom of a spring form with baking paper. Place spring form on dish (the cheesecake will most likely leak a bit).
- Melt butter in microwave or pan over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, crush cookies to thin dust either in a food processor or by wacking them with a rolling pin. (Second option recommended if you have anger you need to get rid of).
- Mix butter & cookie crumbs until it resembles wet sand. Pour mixture into lined form and press with hands to create an even crust.
- Place in refrigerator while making filling.
For the cheesecake filling
- Pour 250 ml of cream into a small sauce pan, sprinkle 2 grams of agar agar powder on top and let soak for a few minutes. Bring to a simmer, and whisk to dissolve agar agar. Simmer for a 3-4 minutes, whisking regularly to make sure it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pan.
- Meanwhile, in a blender, blend blueberries with remaining cream.
- In a mixing bowl, mix cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, lemon zest and juice until smooth. Add blueberry mix and mix until well combined.
- Add agar agar cream to the blueberry mix and mix thoroughly. It should start setting and it can be whipped to a creamy consistency. Pour into spring form with crust and even top out with a spatula.
- Chill in refrigerator while making topping.
Blueberry cheesecake filling ready for chilling
For the topping
- In a blender, mix blueberries and sugar with about 100 ml of water until smooth.
- Sieve blueberry mix through a strainer to remove skins.
- Add enough water to the mix to make 500 ml. Pour into small saucepan and sprinkler agar agar on top. Let sit for 5 minutes for agar agar to hydrate.
- Bring to a boil, lower to simmer and whisk to dissolve agar agar. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, whisking to make sure it won’t burn to the bottom of the pan.
- If present, remove white foam from top of blueberry jam with a spoon before it cools down.
- Let blueberry jam cool to around 50°C, pour on top of cheesecake. Quickly tilt spring form around to distribute the topping evenly.
- Sprinkle blueberries on top.
- Place sugar (and / or fresh edible) flowers on top.
Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.
One benefit of using agar agar however, the cheesecake & topping will withstand higher temperatures since it won’t un-gel with warmth. So this is an ideal dessert for the summer months!
Lately I am experimenting with dairy / gluten / egg free baking. Having friends that are allergic / intolerant to one of more of those, and me liking a challenge, baking for them is a good opportunity.
Photo (c) Nadege Biojout
These muffins are both dairy & gluten free, but do contain eggs. I will experimenting with the egg part next. I am happy to say that they have a nice earthy spicy flavour, and a fantastic soft moist crumbly texture. Texture wise, they are faboulous, to be honest!
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (to make: cut sweet pumpkin in quarters, scoop seeds out, and steam pumpkin for 25-30 minutes, or until the flesh starts to separate from the skin, scoop the flesh from the skin, mash, and measure) (to be updated with metric measurement)
- 2 eggs
- 175 grams cane sugar
- 75 ml olive olive (use a mild one)
- 60 grams corn-based all purpose gluten free flour (basically a mix of corn starch, corn flour, guar gum)
- 60 grams quinoa flour (ground quinoa flakes works well)
- 60 grams (white) rice flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp each cinnamon, ground ginger, all spice & chinese 5 spice
- Preheat oven to 175°C. Place rack in middle of oven. Line 12 cavity muffin tray with paper liners or silicon liners.
- In a big bowl mix pumpkin puree, eggs, sugar and oil very well with an immersion mixer. Alternatively you can use a blender.
- In a small bowl mix all flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt & spices. Add to wet ingredients and mix with a spatula until no blobs (very technical name) of flour are left.
- Divide batter among the cavities of the muffin tray.
- Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let muffins cool enough to remove from tray, transfer to cooling rack and let cool (or enjoy warm, if you cannot wait).
Open muffin showing the texture
I really couldn’t wait to eat them so I forgot to take a picture before I started. Here you can see the nice crumb & fluffy texture of the muffins.
Yep, making crackers, because they are easy, and fast, and taste so much better fresh from the oven and I know what’s in them. And they happen to be vegan.
- 200 gr flour
- 120 ml room temperature water
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Mix all ingredients together (by hand with a fork or with a kitchen robot – you might want to double or triple the recipe in the later case). Knead a couple times by hand to form a nice smooth dough. Form a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and stick in the fridge for at least an hour, up to a day.
- Let dough come to room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C & line 1 baking tray with baking paper.
- Roll the dough about 3mm thin (this is easier between cling film or silicon baking mats). Prick all over with a fork. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut into squares about 5cm in side. Brush with water & sprinkle with some sea salt / dried herbs of your choice (sprinkling optional). Move to lined baking trays.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden.
- Let cool on a rack slightly before tucking it, lest you burn your mouth!
Today’s dinner brought to you inspired by a recipe that I read somewhere, and with the “40 days without meat” campaign in mind.
Mushroom & Tofu Sang Choy Bau
- 1 250 gr block firm tofu
- 10 gr / ~ 1tbsp sesame oil
- 500 gr mushrooms, clean & sliced
- 1 orange (or yellow) bell pepper, diced
- 3-4 spring onions, sliced
- 1 small tin (70gr) tomato concentrate
- 1 tbsp mushroom “oyster” sauce (or the real thing if you’re not vegetarian)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sambal oelek
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 pack (150 grams) straight-to-wok noodles
- Wrap tofu in a couple paper towels and press dry with hands. Cut in 1.5cm cubes. Heat up a non-stick pan on medium, once it’s hot, add the tofu cubes, and let them cook without touching them for 4-5 minutes, until golden, then turn, and repeat until all sides are golden and slightly crunchy.
- Heat up oil in a wok. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes, until tender. Add the bell pepper & half the spring onion, and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the tomato paste, mushroom “oyster” sauce, soy sauce, sambal oelek & garlic powder with 3-4 tbps of water, enough to make it pourable (might need to add some more water). Add to the mushrooms and cook 2 minutes. Add the noodles, stir and cook for another couple of minutes.
- At this point, all sides of the tofu should be golden. Add tofu to the mushroom mix. Stir to coat.
- Sprinkle remaining spring onion on top before serving.
Cashew nut dip
- 120 gr roasted cashew nuts, soaked in water for 3-4 hours & then drained
- 4 spring onions, white parts only
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp freeze dried shallot
- 3 tbsp (10 gr) nutritional yeast
- 2 tbps (20 gr) olive oil
- 60-100 ml water
Put all ingredients in a food processor (starting with about 50 ml water). Process until creamy, adding water if necessary. Scrape the sides of the bowl often to obtain a nice creamy dip. Add more water if you want to turn this into sauce for nachos.
Portobello burger with salad in the background
Ingredients (for one burger):
- 1 portobello (about 10-12 cm in diameter, or 70-80 grams in weight)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp grated cheese (mozzarella is a good option) or a slice of cheese to top it all
- salt & pepper
- one pita bread that fits the portobello
- fixings to taste: mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles….
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Oil an oven proof dish that fits the portobelo(s).
- Put portobello(s) in the oven dish, underside up. Season mushroom lightly with salt and pepper.
- Season beaten egg with salt and pepper, and pour it inside the mushroom cap, trying to not spill. Top it with the grated cheese (as much as the cap can hold, do not overfill since it will bake over otherwise) or wait with the cheese for now.
- Put dish with mushroom(s) in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the egg has set. If using sliced cheese, top the mushrooms with it for the last 5 minutes, to allow it to melt.
- Pop the pita bread in a toaster until warm, crunchy and puffed. Let cool enough to handle. Slide burger into pita pocket and add desired toppings.
- It is handy to use a toothpick to keep the burger in place while eating it!
I like to serve the burgers with a big salad: mixed greens, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, and vinaigrette dressing. Feel free to serve whichever way you usually do with burgers.
Lately I’ve been in a rut when it comes to cooking. It didn’t help that for two weeks it was too warm to consider turning the stove on (less so the oven), so we ate mostly salads. And then I had to start studying for (second chance) finals. And I was tired, and fed up, and didn’t have any imagination whatsoever to think up new exciting recipes. Or to look through my cookbooks to plan something different.
But today I felt like something different. Jan had been asking we had pitas (which translates into pita bread pockets filled with vegetarian gyros and vegetables / salad). To make it a big different, we decided to make coleslaw instead of the usual salad. And since we like to live on the edge, we made a nice spicy coleslaw. Here is the recipe so you can enjoy it too.
- 1 head white cabbage (I used pointed, but feel free to use plain ole round), approximately 860 grams
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 l water
- 3 medium carrots (~175 grams)
- 3 tbsp (45 gr) mustard
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
- 1 tbsp (20 gr) agave nectar
- 2 tsp (15 gr) sambal oelek
- freshly ground pepper
- Cut cabbage in quarters, remove core, and slice thinly into ribbons (or shred with a kitchen robot if you have one, I don’t). Put the cabbage in a big bowl, make a brine with the salt & water, and pour over cabbage, making sure cabbage is submerged. Leave cabbage to pickle for about 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times to make sure all cabbage gets a salt bath. Once the time has passed, drain cabbage (discard brine) and rinse under tap water.
- Meanwhile, peel the carrots, and grate them (using the big side of a box grater, or shred them with said kitchen robot).
- In a small bowl, mix mustard, vinegar, olive oil, agave, sambal oelek & freshly ground pepper until it forms a nice emulsified dressing.
- Mix cabbage & grated carrot in big bowl. Pour the dressing over it and toss until veggies are all covered in dressing. Cover the bowl and let rest for at least and hour before serving.
- Leftovers keep well in a closed container in the fridge for a few days.
Makes: 8 servings (~150 gr / serving)
Protein: 2 gr
Fat: 2 gr
Carbs: 10 gr
It’s that time of the year again, when Jan celebrates his 18th birthday! This year it was really warm the days before, so neither of us felt like me turning on the oven to bake something. Luckily the supermarket publicity came to the rescue with a nice summery recipe that required no oven! It did require some stove top time, but not too much. And so, the strawberry tiramisu became this year’s birthday dessert.
- For the coulis:
- 250 gr strawberries
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- For the cream:
- 4 eggs
- 50 gr powder sugar
- 500 gr mascarpone
- For assembly:
- 300 gr ladyfingers (the cookies)
- 500 gr strawberries, clean, hulled & sliced
- Make the strawberry coulis: clean, hull and quarter strawberries. Place in a sauce pan with lemon juice, heat gently for 10-15 minutes, until the fruit collapses. Using an immersion blender, puree the strawberries. Sieve the sauce using a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Add enough water to obtain 250-300 ml of sauce.
- Make the filling: separate egg yolks from whites. First, whip up whites until firm peaks form (or if you’re so inclined, they hold when you upturn the bowl above your head!). Then (don’t bother cleaning the whisk) mix the egg yolks with the sugar until white and volume is two-three times the original. Finally mix the mascarpone on its own (to soften) before adding the egg yolks and mixing thoroughly with whisk. Switch to a rubber spatula to softly fold in the egg whites in three times.
- Assemble the dessert: dip lightly the ladyfingers in the strawberry coulis and arrange one layer on the bottom of a serving dish. Spread with half of the mascarpone mix, then place half of the sliced strawberries on top. Place another layer of dipped cookies, then mascarpone and finish with strawberries.
- Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before serving.
Makes: 6 servings according to the original recipe, but make that more like 12-14 servings.
Sometimes I miss eating a burger. Not the (meat) flavour, but the possibility of just going out and grabbing a burger. It’s hard to find a good vegetarian burger! So what’s one to do? Make your own (deluxe, according to Jan) burger at home.
Portobello burger deluxe
- 2 multi-grain poppy seed bread buns (baked or unbaked)
- 2 big portobello mushrooms, stems removed, clean
- 50 gr mature cheddar (use the good stuff here)
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard (to taste)
- lettuce mix, tomato, cucumber, carrot (or other salad fixings), for serving
Here I’m really only telling you how to make the portobello burgers. I like to eat a nice salad with my burgers. Today’s was young leaves, carrot, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and a olive oil, balsamic vinegar & salt dressing. Salad is pretty much a pick your own adventure sort of thing, so get creative with it!
- Preheat oven to 200°C.
- Bake the bread buns for 10-12 minutes if unbaked, or heat up for 2-3 minutes if already baked. Take out and let cool slightly on a rack before slicing in half.
- Heat up a pan, drizzle a tiny amount of olive oil (about 1 tsp) and place the mushroom caps, cut side down. Press hard down and let them cook 2-3 minutes on medium heat before turning and cooking another 2 minutes.
- At this point the mushrooms are still raw. Put them in an oven proof dish (stem side up so you have a cup), season with salt & pepper, and divide the cheese on top of the mushrooms, making sure it’s inside the cup. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Spread bread with your favourite seasonings. For me that’s mayonnaise on the bottom, ketchup on the top half. Put a mushroom on each bun, top with some lettuce & tomato slices if desired, cover with the other half of the bun and devour.
If you can’t find big (and by big I mean 12-15 cm in diameter) portobello mushrooms, you can also use the smaller ones. Just make more per person and balance them on the bread bun.
Makes 2 burgers
Nutritional info is very dependent on what bread you use, how big your mushrooms are, how much mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise you use, etc. We had a burger each with a nice side salad for 485 calories.
It’s recipe time again. And in the oven before it becomes way too warm to want to use it. This quiche is crustless because I didn’t feel like making a crust (and to keep the calories low!).
Courgette sweet potato quiche
- 1 courgette, washed, thinly sliced (*)
- 2 medium sweet potatoes (±300 gr), peeled, thinly sliced (*)
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 goose egg + 2 chicken eggs (or 4 chicken eggs)
- 160 ml half skim milk
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp thyme
- 30 gr grated cheese (or more, I ran out)
- small amount of olive oil to oil the oven dish
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Oil an oven dish. Layer the courgette, sweet potato & shallot. Cook in the microwave for 5-6 minutes on high.
- In a bowl, mix the eggs with the milk, garlic powder, soy sauce, thyme and pepper to taste.
- Pour the eggy mixture over the layered vegetables. Sprinkle the cheese on top, bake at 180°C for 30 minutes.
Makes 2 servings
Protein: 29 gr
Fat: 16 gr
Carbs: 47 gr
Bonus picture of the quiche once served