omelette with roasted red pepper & almond sauce

Makes around 6 omelettes

Life hey… isn’t it a tricksy beast at times? So after a sabbatical of sorts, I am back with this Central American inspired omelette created and executed by my dear James Clarke (yes, I own him, like a boot). For a couple of months in autumn a small number of us were managing a weekly breakfast club and this was without doubt the prize dish over the course of those gatherings; something James whipped up and refined after his time spent in the abovementioned place in the world (read: James and this recipe have mad cred).

James’ idea of a well defined “recipe” certainly presents a slip space between itself and mine but the idea offered below should not disappoint or betray you in your quest to savour a great vegan omelette.

Thanks a bunch to James for the omelettes and modelling work, Lesley for the photography and Isa Chandra Moskowitz for the direct Roasted Red Pepper & Almond Sauce recipe that we lifted from Vegan with a Vengeance.

I would dare say that it goes without saying that this meal serves fantastically as either a breakfast, brunch or general meal of the day or night but it may indeed be worth mentioning that I suggest cooking it up in a cast iron pan, if you have one. We actually used a non-stick number, but that stuff is gross so steer clear if you can.


Ingredients


Roasted red pepper & almond sauce

3 small red capsicums, roasted, skinned, seeded and chopped into chunks
1/4 cup roughly chopped almonds
2 cloves chopped garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons raw sugar
salt, to taste


Omelette batter

500ml coconut milk
2 cups rice flour
1 cup chick pea flour
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
600ml water
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
4 spring onions
1/4 cup chives
lots of oil for frying


Omelette filling

900g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
500g baby spinach, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil


Method

First things first and today that’s the red pepper sauce, because once you’ve made that you can put it to the side and forget about it, until the omelettes are ready and waiting for it.

This component of the recipe is pretty involved, so psyching yourself up with some star-jumps or the like beforehand would definitely be encouraged…

Chuck everything into a blender and turn said blender on; blend until, well, smoothly blended and you’re done. As previously mentioned, put the sauce to the side until further notice. The listed ingredients should yield about 1 1/4 cups of sauce.

To make the omelettes, first it’s best to make the filling and to do this, simply fry all of the filling ingredients in a pan. I’d tend to add the garlic first, then the onion, followed by the mushrooms and finally the spinach. I’d leave about a minute between each addition and I finish off when the spinach has fully wilted but not begun to fry or burn.

For the batter sift and combine the flours and then slowly add it, along with the water alternately to the coconut milk, whisking frequently as you go so as to avoid lumps. You don’t want to add more than around 1/8 cup of anything at a time without whisking at this point, or you’ll find yourself in lump city. Next add the yeast, turmeric and salt and stir through the batter. Fold in the spring onions and chives.

Leave the batter to sit for about an hour now, so that the ingredients and thus the flavours can mingle and get to know one another.

Heat at least four tablespoons of oil in a pan and pour two large ladles of the batter (or enough to cover the surface of the pan) into a very hot pan. Immediately spoon some of the filling, I’d say about 3/4 of a cup, onto the batter, making a line of filling along the middle of the omelette.

Allow the omelette to cook until the top-side begins to form pox and the edges brown lightly (should take 3-5 minutes) and then with a large spatula very carefully lift half of the omelette and flip in onto itself to make a semi-circle. Press the edges down to seal your delicious package; the batter should cook and seal onto itself within a few seconds.

Cook the omelette like this for a further one to two minutes before flipping it over completely and cooking on the other side for another one to two minutes again. Finally lift the omelette out of the pan and serve with roasted red pepper and almond sauce. We chose to also serve the omelettes with some pan fried tomato wedges and grilled tempeh (or dare I say: “facon”?!).

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mushroom polenta tramps- a guest appearance

Serves up to 6

A couple of weeks ago my good friend Mark came around to my place and cooked me dinner. Before this meal I was only vaguely acquainted with the witlof and although the dish is quite different to the richer meals I am inclined to put together, the simplicity and untouched freshness of this dinner was delicious.

In Mark’s words…

This is a really versatile, really easy meal that looks really impressive to most anyone. Feel free to change the filling, the salad, the dressing; I’ve even thought about making a desert version.


Ingredients


Tart

250g (usually half a packet) polenta
1 packet filo pastry
900g (1 full supermarket mushroom bag) Swiss brown mushrooms – the smaller the better
3-4 sprigs of rosemary
1 litre vegetable stock (fresh or from cubes/powder)
olive oil
salt and pepper


Salad

3-4 witlof
2-3 pears
1 cup dried cranberries
½ a cup white balsamic vinegar


Special utensils

Pastry brush
Muffin tin


Method

Let’s start with the pastry shells. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Fill a bowl with olive oil and grab your pastry brush. Lay out a sheet of filo and liberally cover it with oil, cover this with a second sheet of filo and repeat until you have a six layer sheet of filo. Once you have this ready cut the sheet into quarters and squish each quarter into a greased muffin tin and repeat with another batch of half sheets for the last two shells. Pop the shells into the oven for crispifying for 5-10 minutes or until golden and self supporting.

Get your stock on the boil with the rosemary and get on with the mushrooms. If the ‘shrooms are smallish (no bigger than a ping pong ball) you can leave them whole otherwise you may need to halve or quarter them. I find that a lot of people struggle with mushrooms, ending up with bland watery, rubbery ‘shrooms rather than succulent, tender, flavoursome ones. The secret, I’ve found, is simply to fry the living daylights out of them. With a frypan on maximum heat warm up 1-2 millimetres deep of olive oil. Make sure it’s proper hot before you add the mushrooms; this goes for any vegetable though really. Add the mushrooms, any left over rosemary and some, preferably freshly cracked, salt and pepper – freshly ground coffee tastes better and the same goes for condiments. The mushrooms should really sizzle; stir them regularly but not constantly and cook until golden brown and tender on the inside. Any leftover oil and mushroom juices can be combined with the polenta stock.

While all this is going down you can prepare your salad. Separate and wash your witlof leaves and slice the pears into thin wedges removing the core and seeds from the inside. Combine in a bowl with the raisins and pour the balsamic vinegar over everything.

Returning to the stock, retrieve the rosemary sprigs and begin SLOWLY adding the polenta, stirring constantly. Always add the polenta to the stock and not vice versa. When the polenta reaches a thick but pourable consistency pour it into the filo shells and top with stacks of mushrooms.

Plate up with a tart in the middle and salad surrounding… voila!

NB: I am indeed aware that this post is grossly overdue but I can not bring myself to again apologise and thus become one of the overapologising hordes of sloppy bloggers; “sloppy” is bad enough – I don’t need to add “overapologising” to that… when I created sporks & spoonerisms in my mind I really hoped to right a number of wrongs that I recognised in many of the vegan food blogs I had come by over the years – I am a long way from perfect but I know I’ve offered some improvements through constructive analysis … Practice makes perfect?

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spaghetti and tofu balls

Serves 3-4

This post is obscenely overdue and if there’s one thing that irks me about recipe blogs, it’s irregular updates; looks as though I have become what I despise.

Over the past two weeks I’ve been busy with a trip back to my hometown, which involved a “zorbing” expedition for my mother’s 60th birthday (her suggestion; not mine) and my ex-boyfriend’s wedding. Since being home things have kind of been a bit messy as well but the good news is that I’m now a “zorbonaut”, so whatever challenges I encounter are overshadowed by my associated pride and joy.

It is in my mind to update here once a week, at around the Wednesday/Thursday mark but with intensive weekly German classes starting tomorrow night and tomorrow being Thursday, lets change that to Tuesday/Wednesday. Perhaps saying it out-loud like this will coerce me into keeping my word. Wish me luck with German, won’t you?!

Moving on to business, this week’s recipe is simple and it’s one of my old favourites. I’ve seen a lot of similar versions of these balls floating around but I’m pretty pleased with my particular concoction and they’ve become a kind of comfort food for me, over the years.

The dish lends itself well to leftovers and the balls themselves are especially great eaten cold – left over tofu balls can be used on sandwiches with salad or nibbled on while you upload your weekly blog entry onto the internet…



Ingredients

Tomato sauce

1 onion, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 400g tins of tomatoes
¼ cup of loosely packed sweet basil, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil


Tofu balls

340g hard tofu, chopped into cubes
1 small onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons crunchy peanut paste
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
¼ cup of chopped Italian parsley, loosely packed
1 teaspoon French mustard
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
olive oil for browning

350g instant spaghetti
extra olive oil
freshly ground salt and pepper
extra chopped sweet basil for garnish



Method

First we’ll get the tomato sauce going; in the heated olive oil, sauté the onion and garlic in a pan, until the onion becomes translucent. At this stage add the tomatoes and bring them to the boil. Once the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium-low and leave simmer. You can get to work on the tofu balls and cook the spaghetti up while the tomato sauce is simmering…

… Boil a pot of water and prepare the spaghetti as per the packet instructions (I strongly recommend preparing it al dente). Once cooked, drain and set aside.

… Using a food processor, mince and combine all of the tofu ball ingredients except for the oil. It doesn’t really matter in what order you do this but I like to add everything except for the tofu and blend those ingredients first and then add the tofu, so that I can process the tofu quite roughly. This component of the recipe if entirely at your discretion, though, as the consistence of the balls will not make or break them; you simply need to ensure that all ingredients are well combined.

That said, it is also fine if you do not have a food processor. In this instance, simply crumble the tofu between your fingers into a mixing bowl, ensure that onion, garlic and parsley are chopped as finely as possible and mix it all in together.

Once the mixture is combined, form into flattened balls about 6cm in diameter (approx 2.5”); you should get around 15 balls from the mix.

Place on a baking tray and lightly brush the tops of the balls with olive oil. Place under the grill until golden, flip and repeat. The balls should only take a few minutes to brown on each side.

Back to the tomato sauce…

… After having simmered the sauce for 45 minutes, or until the sauce is of a desirable consistency, stir in the chopped basil and remove from the heat.

Toss the spaghetti with enough extra olive oil to very lightly coat it and freshly ground salt and pepper to taste.

Now place spaghetti portions onto large plates and top with sauce and balls (I tend to offer three balls to a plate). Finally, garnish with basil.

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riva’s spinach and tomato curry

Serves 4

It’s been an incredibly long fortnight. I’m sorry for being slack and not posting last week; I was busy saying goodbye to someone who went far away, working hard at a friendship that is already in the other hemisphere and balancing that with unreasonable nonsense. Basically, life got in the way. In the time since my last post I feel as though 2009 has already taken a serious turn for the worse for me. Maybe all that has transpired will free up more time for cooking… there’s got to be some good that comes of it.

Anyway, just to be contrary, or because I’m a bit silly, or because I’m indignant and I said I would in my last post, I decided to make my killer spinach and tomato curry, despite the insultingly hot weather.

Make it for someone you love:


Ingredients:

Paste

2 teaspoons ground paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoons ground cardamom
½ teaspoons ground cayenne
½ teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
3-4 small red chillies, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoons ginger, minced
1.5 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon hard fat (coconut oil, Nuttelex etc)

2 teaspoons mustard seeds
——

2 medium brown onions, diced
1 large red onion, diced
250g (approx 2 medium sized) ripe tomatoes, diced
900g (approx 2 bunches) fresh spinach, finely chopped
2 tablespoons plain flour
1.5 cups water
4 tablespoons or so of hard fat (coconut oil, Nuttelex etc), extra



Method:

In a mortar, place the chilli and garlic, as well as all of the spices except for the mustard seeds.

Mash the crap out of everything with a pestle. If the paste appears to be dry and powdery, don’t be afraid of an extra tablespoon of oil – you’re making a delicious curry paste here and the more oil you use now, the less you’ll need in the pan – the paste should be smooth and oily. When you’re done, scoop the paste out of the mortar and set it aside.

(nb: If you don’t have a mortar & pestle, you can give the spices a whiz in a blender, food processor or coffee grinder. If you have none of these, don’t stress – just mix them all together in a bowl and go to the next step).

Heat 2 additional tablespoons of fat in a saucepan now. When it’s heated up, add the brown onion and sauté it for a minute or two, until it begins to turn translucent.

Now add the mustard seeds and fry them for about thirty seconds – they should pop and give you a bit of grief (ie fly around the kitchen) – that’s their job!

Now add the curry paste: if it is dry and tried to burn to the bottom of the pan when frying, then add a little extra fat. Otherwise, get straight to stirring it around for a minute or two, coating the onion in the spices and making the whole room smell delicious.

Next, add the plain flour and one further tablespoon of fat to soak the flour up. What you’re doing here is making a roux, so you absolutely need the flour to be absorbed by fat, otherwise it’ll just burn and ruin the dish; therefore if necessary, you may need to add more fat. Fry the mixture for around thirty seconds to a minute, giving the flour enough heat so that it’s cooked through (raw flour is no one’s friend!).

Now add the spinach. You will most likely need to do this step in batches and that’s fine; just keep adding the spinach slowly until it has all wilted

Once the spinach has all wilted, begin adding the water slowly. Once you have added all of the water, simmer for 5 minutes and then set aside to cool. Once the mixture has cooled, transfer it into a food processor and puree the living crapola out of it. Set aside.

In the saucepan (there is absolutely no need to clean the saucepan, unless anything has burned onto its base), heat the remaining tablespoon of fat and fry the red onion; as with the brown onion, heat it until it begins to turn translucent.

Now transfer the spinach puree back into the saucepan and stir through the tomatoes.

nearly there…

let the curry simmer for around twenty minutes, after which time it is ready to eat!

i generally serve this curry with basmati rice and roti bread (roti only if i can be bothered). it will work on any rice though and is delicious with or without bread.



roti bread

Ingredients:

1 cup plain flour
½ tablespoon of had fat (coconut oil, Nuttelex etc)
½ cup of boiling water
oil or other fat for frying

extra flour for rolling


Method:

Place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre.

In the well, place the hard fat.

Pour the boiling water over the fat and simultaneously stir the mixture, making a smooth dough.

Separate the dough into balls – you should be able to get about six balls out of the above quantity.

Using extra flour as necessary, roll the balls out into large circles, around 15-20cm in diameter or whatever is practical to fry in your frying pan of choice.

Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan before placing the first rolled out bread into the pan.

Fry for about 45 seconds or until goldn brown on the underside. Using a paper towen, dab the top of the bread with a little more oil and then flip, frying for around the same time on the second side.

Repeat with remaining breads.

——

Amongst all the heartache and headaches, one person has been consistently awesome to me. Thanks for all the bloggy feedback, Mark as well as the icy poles and first-class company.

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help avatar help

Would someone please tell me how to make my avatar appear?

I thought that I had uploaded a kick arse photograph but it isn’t appearing!!

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macaroni & cheese

Serves 4

This week was pretty lazy for me, with lots of meals eaten out of the house and a couple of slap-dash fry up type dinners at home. Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to really cook up a storm, living in Melbourne when there are so many options for eating out.

I did throw together a pretty delicious mac and cheese this week though and I reckon I have some pretty mad mac and cheese skillz, even if I do say so myself.

Do bear in mind that this is not a slimmers dish and it isn’t for those of us watching our cholesterol for that matter either. Hydrogenated fat is a pretty nasty business but what can I say… some dishes just aren’t the same without it. The best that I can offer on this subject is that we should all educate ourselves and act with a level of restraint; most things aren’t too bad in moderation.




Ingredients

400g dry macaroni or similar sized pasta, cooked according to the packet instructions and set aside
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons of plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon of salt
2.5 tablespoons of vegan margarine such as Nuttelex
2-2.5 cups of soy milk
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon of mustard
1 teaspoon of white pepper
a few good dashes of Tabasco sauce
fresh cracked pepper to garnish
a handful of sliced stuffed green olives to garnish, optional




Method

In a small bowl mix the yeast, flour and salt together. Set aside.

In a small to medium sized saucepan, heat half a tablespoon of margarine and fry the garlic until it begins to change colour. Add another tablespoon of margarine and half of the yeast mixture. Stir the contents of the saucepan until fully combined and then add the remaining margarine and yeast mixture to the pan. Thoroughly combine all ingredients and then fry for a further one to two minutes, cooking the flour and yeast (This is called a ‘roux’. Failing to see to the roux being adequately cooked is what often results in a flourey tasting sauce). During this time stir the mixture constantly and if any burning starts to occur, turn down the heat immediately.

Next begin to add the milk at medium-high temperature. Remember though that you must add the milk slowly, so as to avoid lumps. I add about one sixth of a cup of milk at a time and stir vigorously, allowing all of the liquid to absorb into the sauce before adding more. Continue adding the milk, stirring constantly and being sure to turn the heat down should the sauce begin at any point to stick or burn until you have added it all to the sauce. I have suggested 2-2.5 cups of milk in this recipe to allow for personal preference in the thickness of the sauce; depending on your taste, you may wish to use even more or less than this.

Once the sauce is of your desired consistency, turn the heat down to low and stir in the lemon juice, mustard, pepper and Tabasco (this time I used 5 dashes from a small bottle).

At this point you may wish to adjust the flavour of the sauce by adding more salt, mustard or lemon juice. Once the sauce is as you want it to taste, though, combine it with the cooked pasta and serve in bowls. Finally, garnish with cracked black pepper and add the olives or anything else you might like to include; I find that keeping the dish simple works best so I only ever add one extra thing but when I’m not in the mood for green olives I have been known to add Kalamata olives, fried Swiss brown mushrooms, steamed broccoli or you could even fry up some mock bacon, if you were so inclined, dice it and stir that through… the possibilities seem almost endless!

Enjoy.


…next week I plan to make a spinach and tomato indian curry

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laksa of love

Laksa is pretty much my favourite food in the world – save for fried breakfast and mushroom crepes which only my Mamma can make right.

I once had a laksa-off with my friend Chris.  It was one of my most glorious moments to date.

Ingredients

Paste

2 thin stalks of lemon grass, sliced as finely as possible ¹
2 thumb sized knobs of ginger, minced

2 large (or more small) cloves of garlic, minced
2 finely chopped small red chillies, finely sliced
a handful of Thai basil, minced
5 kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp of galangal paste (or equivalent fresh galangal, if you should be so lucky)
2 teaspoons of chilli paste
2 teaspoons of turmeric
2 teaspoons of ground coriander seed
1 stick of cinnamon
3 tablespoons of oil

salt (to taste)

Soup

2 tins of coconut milk (not to be mistaken for coconut cream)
almost (but not quiet) as much stock as coconut milk

Vegetables etc.

1 onion, sliced into wedges
a bunch (8ish) oyster or button mushrooms, quartered or thickly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced into circles
1 or two heads (depending on how big or small said heads are) of choi, separated and washed
a small head of broccoli, cut into florets of your desired size (like how I offer you the power the decide on the size here, but dictate staunchly how to cut the mushrooms and carrot?!)

vermicelli (maybe half a standard large pack), pre cooked (according to packet) and set aside
deep friend tofu
²

Garnish

1 extra onion, finely sliced and fried until black (it’s fine to do this whenever you get the chance, and just set aside)

a generous amount of pre-fried shallot ³

a couple of handfuls of bean sprouts

a handful of fresh coriander

chilli oil

corriander if you are so inclined (I myself am not)

cooking oil of your choice, for frying


Method

In a mortar and pestle¹¹, infuse all paste ingredients, except for the cinnamon stick.

In a large wok, saucepan etc, heat some oil and fry the onion wedges for around 1 minute. Then add the laksa paste, plus the cinnamon stick and continue frying²² (add more oil, if necessary – don’t be shy about the oil, you hear!) until the onion becomes translucent.

Now add the coconut milk and stock. Remember that you need to aim for four cups of liquid per serve and that the ratio should be just slightly more coconut milk to stock. Bring the liquid to near boiling, then add the tofu and turn the heat down to create a very low simmer (lest the liquid reduce to nothingness).

Now, with separate apparatus, steam the choi, carrot and broccoli – you will most likely need to do this either separately (from one and other) or in graduated steps ³³.

At this point, don’t forget to fish out the kaffir and cinnamon stick!

Once all of this is done, all that you need to do is assemble your dishes! In each bowl, first place a portion of vermicelli, then arrange a handful (really, just a handful) of vegetables and then fill with soup (monitoring the rationing of tofu pieces between each serve).

On top of this, next put a teaspoon or two of the onion that you fried yourself, then a small handful of bean sprouts and then a teaspoon or so of the pre fried shallots. If you are also including fresh coriander, you can put a few sprigs of that on the very top.

Finally, either drizzle some chilli oil over everything, or let your guests do that, themselves.

How good is laksa?!!


General notes:

* Liquid is the key! Too little liquid and you have a south-east Asian curry, my friend. It is liquid that makes a laksa, because laksa is a soup!

* Don’t overdo the vegetables because again, it’s all about the liquid ratio. It is very easy to fill your bowls with delicious vegetables and noodle, but you must resist and embrace the soup.

Footnotes

¹ Remembering that you only want to use the white, fleshy part of the stalk, not the darker, woodier, green part. All of the lemongrass stalk is quite woody, though and that’s why you need to slice it finely, so that it doesn’t cut your guest’s mouths up. Alternatively you can slice the lemongrass into small stalks, about the size of a cinnamon stick, and fish them out before serving. If you are in a rush this is an alright idea, but the lemongrass won’t infuse as well in this way.

² Much easier to get it pre fried but you could do this yourself or just use unfried tofu, even – oh the possibilities.

³ You could fry your own, by slicing shallots really super finely and frying them to d.e.a.t.h.

¹¹ If you don’t have a mortar and pestle or a food processor, you can improvise – if you have a wooden bowl and a wooden spoon of any kind, you’re set – just use those to mash in. Alternatively, you can simply mix the dry ingredients, then add the ginger, garlic, galangal, chilli, chilli paste, kaffir, basil and lemongrass, mix through and then add the oil and mash as best you can with a fork.

²² It’s really important to fry the spices, as it releases their flavours and enables them to infuse with each other.

³³ For your reference, carrot takes the longest to cook, followed by broccoli, followed by choi. Be careful, too, not to over cook the vegetables – they are best, in my opinion, with a little retained crunch.

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