Sunday, 31 October 2010

Pear Tart

This was a tart we made from pears grown in our back garden. The fruit were a bit sour but nice, and the tart came our really well. The recipe: Put a big handful of raisins into a mug and fill it up with hot water. Leave them to soak. Take 5 pears and slice them into very thin wedges. Mix half a jar of vegan yoghurt with the soaked raisins and some pear syrup. If you don't have pear syrup, use golden syrup, maple syrup, or runny honey. Take an oven tray with raised edges, grease it if necessary, and line it with puff pastry. Blind bake for 5 minutes, then arrange the pears in an overlapping fashion. Pour the yoghurt/syrup/raisin mix on top evenly and put back into the oven until the pastry is brown.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Extended Edition Salad

Vegans, as we all know, eat vegetables, and vegetables means salads. Salads do not have to mean health food, however! We recently had a salad made from the following ingredients:

  • head lettuce
  • cherry tomatoes
  • fresh basil
  • humous
  • pesto
  • doritos (Yes, they're vegan. They may not technically be classed as food, but they are vegan.)
With a sauce made of:
  • 1 part olive oil
  • 2 parts balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Monday, 25 October 2010

International Almond Cupcakes of Mystery

A stack of un-iced almond cupcakes.

Adapted from Peanut Butter Cupcakes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

My friend Martin gave me this amazing book for Christmas and Dave and I have been slowly working our way through it since. I made the Gingerbread Cupcakes at the weekend -- they were delicious -- and wanted to repeat them tonight. Unfortunately, once I'd sieved the flour into the bowl I realised we were missing some key ingredients. I flicked through to find something I could bake instead. The substitutions I had to make gave a certain international aspect to the recipe!


3/4 cup soya milk
2 tsp sushi vinegar
1/2 cup whole nut almond butter
1/3 cup vegan margarine
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 plain wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 °C and line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper liners.
2. Add sushi vinegar to soya milk and put to one side to curdle. (Finally, a recipe where you're meant to curdle the soya milk!)
3. Mix the almond butter, margarine, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla together in your main mixing bowl. Add the soya milk and vinegar and mix them in well.

Mixing the wet ingredients.

4. Sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a smaller bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the main bowl and mix.
5. Fill the cupcake liners equally and bake for 20-25 minutes (ours were done after 20 minutes). They're ready when you can poke a skewer into the middle and it comes out clean.

Adding the batter to the cupcake liners.

Dave made a chocolate "buttercream" icing to put on top from margarine, lots of cocoa, some icing sugar and a little soya milk.

A cupcake with a thick layer of chocolate buttercream icing on a blue plate.

The cupcakes were tasty and very satisfying. The recipe called for plain white flour and next time I would use that instead of the wholemeal, but it didn't really matter because the almond butter had a strong enough flavour to stand up against it.

These were so good, I may never make the peanut butter recipe in the book -- unless I run out of almond butter, of course.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Star anise schnapps

A bottle of vodka and several green, unripe walnuts on a table in a garden

The picture above is rather misleading. Last summer, my colleague Martyn gave me half a dozen unripe walnuts from his tree, to make schnapps with. I steeped them in vodka for five months, according to this recipe, and left the liquid to mature for seven months. Just as the schapps should have been ready to enjoy, I moved house and the jar was spilled in the process.

Martyn gave me some more walnuts this year, the ones shown above. Unfortunately, it was too late in the year and they had already formed their woody shells. I cast about the kitchen for something to schnappsify, and found a bag of star anise. Here's a recipe for star anise schnapps from the same site.

This recipe had the advantage that it was a lot quicker to mature. (Being absent-minded, I still left the star anise in for a few days longer than recommended.) A week later, I served it to some friends as a digestif: seen below are Jenny, David and Dave.

The schnapps had a beautiful amber colour and a strong flavour of aniseed, with delicate undertones -- more complex than, for example, sambuca. The next time I make it, I'll probably leave the pods in for the same length of time and dilute it slightly with more vodka. I also want to try turning it into a liqueur and experimenting with the rest of the spice cupboard

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Beetroot and squash soup with red bean mash

When this blog started, the first couple of posts were of beetroot-based recipes, as Rachel had just gone to the market and brought back a lot of beetroot. This is once again the case, so here's some delicious squash and beetroot soup:

Recipe (serves 2)

  • 2 small squashes/pumpkins
  • 2 beetroots
  • olive oil
  • a stock cube
  • garlic paste, salt, a bit of cayenne pepper, and lots of cumin
Peel, de-core and cube the squashes and cube the beetroots. Put into pan with a generous amount of olive oil, some garlic paste, and the spices. Gently fry for 5-10 minutes. Then add the stock and enough boiling water to cover the vegetables. Simmer, occasionally stirring, for half an hour. The squashes will have dissolved, the beetroots softened, and the soup become thick, red, and creamy.

To go along with this, Rachel made a bean mash consisting of chopped spring onions, mashed kidney beans, lemon juice, tahini and pepper:

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Knobbly courgette, pea and tofu tart

One of the nice things about my company is that a lot of my colleagues have vegetable gardens and are generous with the produce thereof. This is how I came by this knobbly Venetian courgette. After it had served its time as an alien ray gun, it had to be cooked, and we thought this variation on a favourite meal would work nicely.

The original recipe is from The Really Useful Vegetarian Student Cookbook and contains courgette, peas, leak and anchovies (not too vegetarian!). Edit: no, it was in The Really Useful Student Cookbook, where anchovies would be less of a problem.

For this meal we steamed the courgette, as it was quite hard, while frying an onion in margarine, and then added the courgette, some frozen peas, salt and pepper and a packet of Cauldron marinated tofu chunks to the pan for a bit. We used readymade puff pastry for the base, leaving a margin around the edges to puff up.

The result was delicious. Steaming definitely helped the courgette play nicely with the other, fast-cooking ingredients but it kept its character in the mix. On the side I served some Greek-style chickpeas that another colleague had given me.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Blackberry Jam

I go swimming twice a week, and on my way to the pool, I walk across a large common bisected by a railway line. The other day, when crossing the bridge over the railway, I noticed that the bushes to either side of the line were brambles heavy with ripe blackberries.

So on Monday night, I met Rachel on the way back from work and we went picking blackberries. It turns out that the most important tool in the blackberry-picker's arsenal is a hook made from a wire coathanger, which we used to great effect to draw in branches too far away to reach otherwise. One of us would hold the hook while the other would pick the berries.

When the box I'd brought was full, we headed home via the supermarket, where we picked up sugar and pectin. It was time to make jam.

When we got in, we were ravenous, so we quickly prepared and ate dinner. Then we took out the stock pot and set to work. Conveniently enough, the bottle of pectin had instructions for making blackberry jam on it, so we followed them (or tried to - I added the pectin too early). We ended up filling a big jar with jam, and putting a bit of overflow into another one. Finally, we got out some bits of white bread and polished off the jam sticking to the inside of the pot.

We left the jars to cool off overnight. To our satisfaction, when we checked in the morning, the full jar had pressure-sealed. Rachel made a sandwich using jam from the overflow jar, and it was delicious.

Since we still have lots of pectin left, we plan to return to the common. There may be more blackberries, and the elderberries are ripe too...

Welcome to Zum Znacht!

This is the food blog of one vegan-by-association Swiss man (David) and one Swiss-by-association vegan (Rachel). We write about the meals we make together that are interesting or tasty.

The posts below are imported from my (Rachel's) personal blog, where the series was called En Guete! -- Swiss German for "bon appetit". With the move comes a new name: Zum Znacht, or "For Dinner".

We'll be writing fairly frequently but irregularly, as we find things worth posting about. We hope you will enjoy it!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

En Guete! Green and black

A guest post by Dave about our dinner the other night.

Having made pasta salad with lots of olives in, I got to theorising that you could make a pasta sauce based on olives. Since basic olives in brine aren't very expensive, I decided to give it a try the next night. This is what I came up with:

  • A tin of pitted black olives in brine
  • A jar of pitted green olives in brine
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • A bundle of mint leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Drain and rinse the olives, peel the garlic. Chop the olives, garlic and mint finely and put them in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, enough olive oil to coat everything, some salt and a lot of pepper.

We had it with some wholemeal spaghetti and the result was intense and delicious. The biggest problem was that the "sauce" didn't adhere to the spaghetti, so next time I make this I want to try running it through a food processor.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

En Guete! Salads

I was never much of a salad person before I started going out with Dave. I would put some lettuce and a tomato on the side of the plate if I was making something otherwise unhealthy, but that was getting fancy. It took his continental approach to make me a true believer. This is (a) ironic, since I'm the vegan one and (b) why I'm writing an En Guete! entry about two meals I didn't actually cook. I wanted to praise his salad-making skills.

The first (shown in the terrible picture) is a potato salad created to play with a tahini-based salad dressing. The salad itself contained steamed potato chunks, black olives, cherry tomatoes, radishes and red kidney beans. The dressing was made up of:

  • tahini
  • lemon juice
  • garlic paste
  • salt and pepper
  • a small amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • water to thin it

It was delicious, filling but not stodgy, thanks to the hidden protein from the tahini and the freshness of the radishes and tomatoes.

The second salad (in the nicer picture) was based on wholemeal pasta shells, cucumber and tomato. It also contained black olives, spring onions, cornichons and mint leaves from a pot in the kitchen. The dressing was made from:

  • vegan mayonnaise
  • turmeric
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil and balsamic vinegar

I love this salad and we've had a version of it several times this summer. The only problem with it is that, with so many different flavours, I'm constantly compelled to have just one more forkful...

Friday, 30 July 2010

En Guete! Return of the return of the beetroot

Here is another En Guete! post by Dave. He also took the photo, which I think is rather good.

Having made two beetroot-based meals, we found ourselves with yet more beetroot to use up the following day. So we looked into the cupboard and determined that the other thing we had far too much of was risotto rice.

Consulting Google for a recipe yielded this one. We made it vegan by the simple method of leaving out all the cream and cheese and using margarine instead of butter. We also substituted brandy for the vermouth, since we had no vermouth in.

Despite the recipe's dubious origins, the result was delicious, and probably a lot less taxing on the stomach than the cheese-laden original.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

En Guete! Return of the beetroot

After the great success of our borscht, Dave and I were a little surprised to see quite how many beetroots we had left. We decided to make purple mashed potatoes with them. This was made easier by the rice cooker/steamer we got for Christmas (expect many of these posts to mention it. It is a marvel). We steamed potatoes, carrots and beetroot together, then I mashed them with some salt, pepper, and margarine. The different types of vegetables hadn't softened to the same degree, which gave a nice mix of creaminess and chunkiness. Dave made onion gravy and we had the mash with Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages.

The next day we had both fresh beetroot and beetroot mash left over and I started to despair a little. Neither of us had actually made bubble and squeak before (although I love my stepdad's version) but we steamed some cabbage and improvised. From subsequent looking at websites, it seems that my choice to make the mash into patties before frying it was quite a fancy one. Despite looking worryingly meatlike in the pan, they were good and had just enough of the crunchy outside.

Dave will be happy, because now I've written about these rather traditional meals he can write about what we did with the last of the beets...

Oh yes, and that white thing the plates are arranged on is our washing machine, which stood around for a while because the kitchen fittings were brand-new and strange. We eventually plumbed it in ourselves, with help from Ask MetaFilter, and felt mighty.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

En Guete! Borscht(sch)

As promised, here is episode one of En Guete!, written by Dave.

The day after we moved into our new flat, Rachel went to investigate the market in town and returned with a profusion of vegetables, amongst them a large bundle of beetroots.

"We schould make borscht!", she said. Neither of us had had this infamously red stew before, so we went onto Google and used pretty much the first recipe we came across.

In German, borscht is spelled "Borschtsch" and pronounced a bit like the sound a parent makes when their meal of borscht is interrupted by their beloved daughter's declaration that she is unexpectedly pregnant with the stable-boy's child, causing a near-eruption of stew. This pronunciation made us refer to our dinner in an increasingly elaborate way, ending up at "Would you like some more borschtschtschtschchshchshhhhh, darling?"

Anyway, the recipe we were using included optional pork sausages, which we left out, and cream, for which we substituted vegan cream. We can't know if the result was authentic, but it was certainly delicious.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

En Guete! Food blogging from PodBasket

Dave and I have just moved in together. Together! Although everyone who reads this blog probably already knows about it -- the moving took long enough, groan -- I still want to grin for a minute here about how great it is. I get to come home to my boyfriend every evening (not that that's much of a change). We don't have to label our food in the fridge! We have, er, two copies of nearly everything Neil Gaiman's ever written, a double bed with no fixed date for assembly, zero cash, five vegetable peelers and four bread knives: the spoils of being the last of the Cambridge-based Pod to move out of PodHouse and PodTower. At some point there will be a "Please take stuff away from here" party.

Among our other adventures, we've been cooking some nice meals lately and one of us proposed semi-seriously that we start food blogging. Since we already have too many blogs and don't update them enough, we're doing it here for the time being.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce En Guete! -- an irregular series about the meals of your hosts, one vegan-ish and Swiss, the other vegan and Swiss-by-association.

The first post in the series will be by Dave: expect it tomorrow.