Product Review: Gardein Golden Fishless Filets

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Gardein Golden Fishless Filets are an absolute life-saver in the kitchen. They are so practical; I stopped making my own vegetarian fish and chips from scratch. There is nothing fishy here, just great taste and 0mega-3s without cholesterol. Dip in … Continue reading

Creamy Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Thyme

Creamy Cauliflower Salad Lemon Thyme

I have been growing some of my herbs in our outdoor area for some time. Some of them have been successful, some died and replaced and even the replacements died. It’s a process I’m learning and in the end, all this will translate into a mini eBook (hopefully) for you guys to download. I will keep you posted on VegFusion Facebook page. So, go and like the page if haven’t done so.

Lemon thyme I used in this Creamy Cauliflower Salad is the one from my own herb garden. I have always thought that buying a bunch of lemon thyme to be used just one thing was waste of money. However, you pick just the right amount if you’re growing your own and the rest of it will still live.

Mixing yoghurt and mayonnaise is a common practice where I come from. It sort of balances the creaminess of the salad dressing. And, here in this recipe, I flavoured this creaminess with Dijon mustard and added some tanginess with white wine vinegar.

Creamy Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Thyme
Ingredients:

1 small cauliflower, broken into small florets
Juice of ½ lemon

For the Creamy Dressing:
2 tablespoons plain yoghurt, thick Greek style
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (I used Plamil Egg Free Mayonnaise which is vegan)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
Salt to taste

2 twigs fresh lemon thyme, leaves separated
Freshly ground black pepper

Method:
• Wash the cauliflower and drain. Broke into small florets.
• Boil enough water in a large pot. Once it starts boiling, add the lemon juice (you can squeeze it directly into the pot) and cauliflower florets. Cook the cauliflower for 10 minutes. Drain and immediately drop the florets into cold water to prevent further cooking. Cauliflower florets should be slightly firm. Once they are cool, drain and set aside.
• To make the creamy dressing: Mix together plain yoghurt, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar. Season to taste.
• Place the cauliflower in a salad bowl and dress it with the creamy dressing. Mix well.
• Garnish with lemon thyme and freshly ground black pepper and serve!

Recipe: Aloo Matar (Potatoes and Peas)

Aloo Matar

Aloo Matar (Potatoes with Peas) is one of my favourite vegetarian Indian dishes of all time. Partly because it was the first Indian dish I ever learnt to cook.

Aloo means potato and matar means peas, by the way. It is a dry style Indian dish which can be added to other dishes like a daal or another main dish. I found the recipe in Shehzah Husain’s Vegetarian Indian cookbook many years ago. I make changes all the time like (you know me) but I have the original recipe here for you. Enjoy!

Aloo Matar (Potatoes and Peas)
Ingredients:
Tomato puree (1 large tomato)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon garlic pulp
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons corn oil
2 onions, diced
125 g (4 oz) peas (I use baby peas because they cook faster)
300 ml (1/2 pint) corn oil
3 potatoes, roughly diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
½ green pepper, deseeded and sliced
½ red pepper, deseeded and sliced

Method:
• Mix the tomato puree, ground coriander, chilli powder, garam masala, garlic, turmeric, salt and lemon juice together in a bowl and set aside.
• Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onions and fry until golden brown. Pour the tomato puree and spice mixture into pan, lower the heat and stir-fry for about 3 minutes. Stir in peas and set aside.
• Heat the remaining corn oil in a karahi or deep frying pan to 180C, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds, add the potatoes and fry them until they have golden edges and are cooked through. Remove the potatoes dice from the pan and add to the peas and spice mixture.
• Finally, add the fresh coriander and sliced green and red peppers and stir-fry for a further 2 minutes. Serve the dish hot.

Anah Daata Sukhi Bhaava! (Bon Appetit!)

Ingredient Profile: Purslane or Green Purslane

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) comes from Portulaceae family and has many names like green purslane, pigweed, portulaca, kitchen-garden purslane, poor man’s spinach and munyeroo (Aboriginal term).

purslanePurslane is considered as a weed by many farmers. However, it is an edible succulent with a chewy texture and a mild, slightly lemony taste. Depending on the variety, the leaves can be very fleshy, too –like juicier cuisine of lamb’s lettuce.

Selection and Storage
Purslane is a delicate creature. So buy it only a day or two before you use it. Because it won’t last long –even in the fridge. Choose purslane with bright green leaves. Seal it in a plastic bag and store in the vegetable crisper at the bottom of your fridge.

purslaneVarietals
• Wild purslane
• Asgen
• Partulaca
• Vilmoin

Where to Use
Salads: Purslane is widely used as a raw salad ingredient in countries like Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, Cyprus, Armenia and Syria. Purslane Salad with Yoghurt or Yoğurtlu Semizotu Salatası from Turkish cuisine and the famous Middle Eastern salad Fatoush are great examples.

Stews: In Turkish cuisine, there is a vegetarian stew featuring purslane and it’s called Zeytinyağlı Semizotu. There is a variation of it with rice, too.

Soups: Purslane is one of the main ingredients in the French soup called ‘bonne femme’ mostly for its gelling, binding, thickening effect. Very much like okra.

Complimentary Flavours
Purslane goes particularly well with these ingredients:
• Oregano
• Yoghurt
• Basil
• Garlic
• Flat-leaf parsley
• Bay leaves
• Cucumber
• Chervil
• Chilli flakes
• Parsley
• Onion and spring onion (scallions)
• Thyme
• Nutmeg
• Chickory
• Cheeses like feta or halloumi
• Tarragon
• Watercress
• Chives

Nutrition
Purslane is a good source of iron, vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium and one of the best plant sources of the Omega 3 fatty acids.

Haydari (Turkish Yoghurt Dip)

Haydari

Haydari is a Turkish yoghurt meze. Herbed and spiced yoghurt, so to speak. There is another variety of it which uses both yoghurt and feta cheese. The recipe below uses yoghurt only. But, I know how to make cheesy one, too. So, I will publish that one as well as soon as I have the photo. Stay tuned, Peoples…

Haydari is made from very thick, strained yoghurt. In Australia, a yoghurt that ‘thick’ is very difficult to find. So, I use Farmers Union Greek Style Natural Yoghurt. It is gelatine free and does the job nicely. I also want my Haydari is a little bit more spreadable. I must admit, real Haydari looks as if you would need knife and fork to eat.

I do have a vegan version of Haydari here on VegFusion, by the way. I remember substituting real yoghurt with Tofutti Sour Supreme and lemon juice. It is close but still not quite the same. Anyway, you can find Vegan Haydari recipe here.

Haydari (Turkish Yoghurt Dip) is very easy to make and is a great addition to any meze platter. Here’s the recipe…

Haydari (Turkish Yoghurt Dip)
Ingredients:

1 cup Farmer’s Union Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon Turkish ground sweet paprika (Use Hungarian sweet paprika if you can’t get Turkish one)
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried spearmint
½ tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt to taste

Method:
• In a small bowl, mix together yoghurt, olive oil, crushed garlic, cumin, sweet paprika, black pepper, dried mint and parsley.
• Salt to taste and serve.

Serving Suggestions
Haydari is served along with other mezes as part of a meze platter. You could also serve Haydari with:
Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders
• Fresh bread (preferably Turkish bread)
• Toasted rustic bread
• Corn Fritters
Mücver (Zucchini Fritters)
• Crudités
• Water crackers
• Pitta bread

Afiyet olsun Peoples!

Cauliflower Bake with Baby Capers

Cauliflower Bake with Baby Capers

I have been making this bake since my early days of cooking. Cauliflower Bake with Baby Capers is your ultimate winter bake with its creamy texture and heartiness. Best served with a fresh salad as it is quite filling. Try a winter salad like coleslaw. I served mine with white cabbage, green onion and parsley salad with creamy mustard dressing. The recipe below is for 2.

cauliflower bake baby capers

Cauliflower Bake with Baby Capers

Ingredients:
½ cauliflower
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
1 cup boiled water
1 teaspoon Turkish chilli flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon baby capers in brine
1 tablespoon flat-leaf continental parsley, chopped

For Béchamel Sauce:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 cup milk
Salt to taste

Grated cheese (I used Nimbin)

Method:
• Boil some water in a pot and add the cauliflower and lemon juice. Cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
• Heat the oil in a pot. You can use the same pot as you boiled the cauliflower in –just dry it properly before you return it to heat so that the oil won’t splatter. Fry the onions until they are thoroughly cooked. Dilute the concentrated tomato paste in boiled water and add to the onions. Season with Turkish chili flakes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Lastly add baby capers and chopped parsley. Mix in the par-boiled cauliflower and make sure that each piece is covered in tomato sauce.
• Remove from heat and divide the cauliflower dish in tomato sauce into two oven-proof dish.
• To Make the Béchamel Sauce: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. When melted, add flour and cook stirring with a wooden spatula. Spatulas work better than wooden spoons in a situation like this in a way that the sauce does not form lumps. It is more difficult to achieve smooth texture with a spoon. Remove from heat and slowly add cold milk, whisking constantly until the sauce becomes thick and glossy. Add salt, stir well and remove from heat.
• Cover the cauliflowers with béchamel sauce and top them up with grated cheese.
• Place the bakes under the grill and brown the top. Serve hot.

Mum’s Sultana Hokey Pokey Biscuits

hokey pokey biscuitsI was introduced to Hokey Pokey Biscuits by Mum when I was in New Zealand. Immediately I understood why John has been raving about them. Because they are absolutely delicious! During one of our visits to Mum and Dad’s, I copied the recipe from Mum’s recipe book so that I could bake them at home. I have just spoken to Mum and asked her if it was alright to publish her Sultana Hokey Pokey Biscuits recipe here on VegFusion. She said she would be delighted! There you go, Peoples…

Mum’s Sultana Hokey Pokey Biscuits

Ingredients:
4 ounces/125 grams butter
4 ounces/125 grams sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup sultanas
1 tablespoon milk
1 ½ cup flour

Method:
• Cut the butter in small pieces and place it in a pot. Add sugar, golden syrup, baking soda, sultanas and milk and melt all ingredients. When cooled, add the flour.
• Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/ Gas Mark 4.
• Knead the whole mixture and roll into teaspoon size balls. Place them on a lightly oiled oven tray –space them out depending on the size of your oven tray as they will expand and use two trays if necessary. Flatten with a fork.
• Bake for 20 minutes. However, ovens vary and these biscuits tend to burn easily. So, it’s best to keep an eye on them while baking.
• Place Hokey Pokey Biscuits on a cookie rack and cool. When you’re ready… dig in.

hokey pokey biscuitsThese biscuits can be very funny you know. They may do some funny faces and stare at you like this alien one below 🙂

hokey pokey biscuits

Deviled Eggs with Avocado

deviled eggs avocado

Deviled Eggs with Avocado
Deviled eggs are simple yet elegant starters and can be added to any type of appetizer platter without much trouble. They just play well with the other kids. They are also easy to make. Especially, if you boil and refrigerate the eggs overnight.

The classic deviled egg recipe uses the actual hard-boiled egg yolks alone, mixed with mayonnaise, herbs and spices. Of course, there is always room for improvisation. And, that’s exactly what I did last time with my deviled eggs. I added avocado to the mixture!

Deviled Eggs with Avocado

Ingredients:
6 large free range eggs
1 small avocado (ripe)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chives, snipped

Method:
• Place the eggs in a saucepan and fill with enough cool water to cover the eggs by 3 to 5cm (an inch or two). Place the pan over high heat. Once the water reaches a boil, remove the pan from heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
• To peel the eggs, tap the eggs gently against the counter to crack the shell in a few places, then submerge in ice water for at least 1 minute. Then, peel the eggs.
• Place the peeled eggs on a large, flat plate and slice the eggs down their length, from tip to bottom. Remove the yolks by gently squeezing the eggs to separate the yolks from the whites. Then, use your fingers to remove the yolks. Transfer all the yolks to a mixing bowl.
• Arrange the empty whites on a platter, cut-side up.
• Place the avocado on cutting board. Insert knife into stem end; slice into halves lengthwise to the pit, turning avocado while slicing. Remove knife blade; twist both halves to pull apart. Scoop out the inside of the avocado halves and add it to the egg yolks.
• Mash the yolks and avocado with a fork until they are completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
• Transfer the filling to a plastic bag or piping bag. If you don’t have a real piping bag, you could use a zip lock bag instead. Here’s how you do it: Just scoop the filling into the zip lock bag, squeeze the filling into a corner and snip off that corner. Then squeeze the filling into the egg whites. If you have a piping bag, just pipe the filling into the cup of each egg white and around. Alternatively, scoop the filling into the egg whites with a spoon.
• Sprinkle with fresh chives over the top of each egg before serving. That’s it! Enjoy!

Turkish Stuffed Zucchini or Kabak Dolması

Turkish Stuffed Zucchini or Kabak Dolması

I order our fruits and vegetables –along with some other pantry items –through Harris Farm to be delivered to my door every week. They now have this “imperfect picks” option. Basically, your usual fruits and vegetables that don’t look good on the outside. The ugly guys, so to speak. However, they taste good and are cheaper as well.

We’re having friends over for dinner on Friday night. So I put together a menu after I talked to them if they were allergic to anything or if there’s anything they don’t like –standard dinner party procedure. Based on what I’ll be cooking for them and our weekly menu items, I put my order in. Luckily, the ugly zucchinis I ordered happened to have large bottoms! That means, they are large enough to stuff!

Turkish Stuffed Zucchini Kabak Dolması

A note on vegetarian mince: I used Quorn vegetarian mince in this recipe because I can’t get Linda McCartney’s mince anymore in Australia and I really don’t like Sanitarium’s mince. The other alternative to vegetarian mince is The Redwood VegiDeli Gourmet Meat Free Mince but I find it quite expensive and not so easy to get. Quorn mince, on the other hand, can be purchased from Woolworths or Coles, depending on the branch.

A note on an absent ingredient: The traditional Kabak Dolması has rice in the stuffing mix and we have it with plain buttered pasta as a side dish –very German/Austrian, I know. I didn’t use rice this time because I was planning on making a rice pilaf as a side dish and didn’t want things too rice-y. Well, I didn’t make the rice pilaf in the end but dolmas were already cooking when I made that decision. Let’s not talk about it, shall we?

Turkish Stuffed Zucchini or Kabak Dolması

Ingredients:
4 large pieces zucchini

For the Stuffing Mixture:
4 tablespoons Quorn vegetarian mince, thawed (see note above)
½ small brown onion, chopped finely
1 small tomato, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon Turkish pepper paste (hot)
A drizzle vegetable oil
A large pinch Turkish dried mint
Salt to taste
A pinch ground sweet paprika

For Garlic Yoghurt:
4 tablespoons Greek style plain yoghurt
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 twig fresh dill, chopped

Method:
• Peel and carve out the fleshy part of zucchinis.
• Mix together the vegetarian mince, chopped onion, chopped tomato, Turkish hot pepper paste, vegetable oil, chopped dill, dried mint, salt, black pepper and ground paprika.
• Fill the hollow parts of zucchinis with the stuffing mixture. You will have some extra stuffing mixture.
• Place the extra stuffing mixture in a saucepan and lightly cook. Carefully transfer the stuffed zucchinis into the saucepan and fill up the gaps between dolmas with boiled water. Put the lid on and once it starts to boil, reduce the heat.
• Meanwhile, prepare the garlic yoghurt by mixing together yoghurt, crushed garlic and fresh dill weeds. If it’s too thick, add a few drops of water until you reach the right consistency –it should be a little runny. Set aside.
• When stuffed zucchinis are fully cooked, serve immediately with garlic yoghurt. Afiyet olsun!

Turkish Stuffed Zucchini Kabak Dolması

Savoury Herbed French Toast, VegFusion Style

Savoury Herbed French Toast, VegFusion Style is a savoury version of French toast; a total contrast to its sweet cousins. They make excellent lunches so I make them for me and my husband during the weekends. They are also a great way of using stale, left over bread. I always serve them with a little bit of raw salad as it freshens things up a great deal. In this recipe, I used fresh tomato salad but you can use whatever you have in your fridge at the time. Green salad is another alternative or even coleslaw would go well.

You may have noticed the fact that the recipe does not have much in the way of measurements. The reason for that is because I never use measurements for a recipe like this myself while making savoury French toasts.

The recipe below serves 2 hungry people.

Savoury Herbed French Toast, VegFusion Style

Savoury Herbed French Toast, VegFusion Style

Ingredients for Tomato Salad:
1 large tomato, sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Lemon juice

Ingredients for French Toast:
2 eggs
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Dried oregano
Dried mint (spearmint)
10 slices French stick (stale works better than fresh)
Oil for pan-frying
Fresh chives

Method:
To make the tomato salad: slice the tomato and place on serving plates. To make the salad dressing: Whisk together extra virgin olive oil, salt and lemon juice. Drizzle over tomato slices.
To make the French Toast: Crack the eggs in a bowl. Beat the eggs with salt, freshly ground black pepper (if you want, you could use white pepper instead), dried oregano and dried mint (spearmint). Set aside.
• Slice the bread into 10 even slices. Set aside until the frying oil is ready.
• Heat the oil in a heavy-based, large frying pan. Dip the bread into egg mixture and drop them into hot oil. You could do them in batches. Once one side of the bread is golden brown turn them over and fry the other side too.
• Drain the slices on paper towel.
To serve: Arrange French toast on serving plates next to the tomato salad and sprinkle all of them with fresh chives. Serve immediately.