Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Goodbye MoFo
I'm having major trouble uploading pictures today. After leaving them to upload on Blogger for almost two hours, I concluded it's just not going to happen.

Instead, I'll finish my first Vegan MoFo without any photos, and with a survey. I have seen this short questionnaire on various blogs during November, and have loved reading everyone's replies. :)

Here are mine:

What is one food you thought you’d miss when you went vegan, but don’t?
I'm in a slightly different position than many vegans, as I'm allergic to both eggs and dairy, and have never eaten much of either (specially eggs, which I can't tolerate at all). Therefore, going vegan only meant leaving out fish - and I knew for sure I wouldn't miss it. I still eat honey occasionally, however, which is why I don't call myself 100% vegan. I think honey is the one thing I would miss, if I became a "real" vegan.

What is a food or dish you wouldn’t touch as a child, but enjoy now? 
Brussels sprouts.

What vegan dish or food you feel like you “should” like, but don’t? 
I'll have to say celery. I can't stand celery in any form, raw or cooked, and can detect it in every dish, including vegetable stock or bouillon powder. Another food I don't like is vegetable juice - I guess I just prefer my veggies in solid form.

What beverage do you consume the most of on any given day?
Water, without any doubt - but white tea and homemade (unsweetened) berry juice are also consumed in large amounts. 

What dish are you “famous” for making or bringing to gatherings? 
Blueberry cake, which I love because it always turns out great and is usually loved by vegans and non-vegans alike.

Do you have any self-imposed food rules (like no food touching on the plate or no nuts in sweets)?
I can't think of any, but I'm sure my family could point out quite a few. I'm known to be a bit fanatic with food/hand hygiene, and I guess you could also call it a food rule that I generally don't like to combine sweet and savory things (I love the way the flavors blend in Asian cuisine; but with that exception, I prefer them separately).

What’s one food or dish you tend to eat too much of when you have it in your home? 
Sweet granola - but we usually have unsweetened müsli instead.

What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available prepackaged?
Seitan - mostly because the packaged kind is super expensive in Denmark, and it's easy to make at home.

What ingredient or food is worth spending the extra money to get “the good stuff”? 
In my opinion, organic produce.

Are you much of a snacker? What are your favorite snacks? 
I don't snack all too much, but when I do, I love some crispbread, yoghurt, or dried fruits (figs are my favorite). I'll also admit that I do snack on dark chocolate at times...

What are your favorite vegan pizza toppings? 
Mushrooms, jalapenos, sundried tomatoes.

What is your favorite vegetable? Fruit? 
My favorite vegetable is probably broccoli. I eat more berries than fruit, but if it should be a "real" fruit, then maybe apples - those grown at home, small and juicy.

What is the best salad dressing? 
Often I just sprinkle some pumpkinseed oil on my salad - it's good as it is. You can spice it up with some lemon juice or vinegar and spices.

What is your favorite thing to put on toasted bread? 
If it's "white" bread, I like homemade jam, almond butter, chocolate, or vegemite/marmite. On rye bread, I prefer hummus, jalapeno, avocado, and crunchy veggies.

What kind of soup do you most often turn to on a chilly day or when you aren’t feeling your best?
Spicy lentil soup.

What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Frosting flavor? 
My favorite frosting is chocolate ganache, but I'm not sure of the cupcake flavor. If it can be a muffin, too, then I'd say cranberry or blueberry.

What is your favorite kind of cookie? 
Gingerbread or chocolate chip.

What is your most-loved “weeknight meal”? 
Probably Ethiopian lentil stew with berbere - it is so easy to make, and always delicious!

What is one dish or food you enjoy, but can’t get anyone else in your household to eat? 
Brussels sprouts...

How long, in total, do you spend in the kitchen on an average day? 
It varies greatly. Sometimes I don't spend any time at all and only eat cereal (bad, bad - I know), and sometimes I bake for hours. Maybe average would be about one hour?

 ***

Wishing you all a nice end of Vegan MoFo! I have loved reading everyone's entries, and have found so many new, cool blogs to follow. I'm already looking forward to next year's Vegan MoFo, and hope I'll have a little more time to participate then. :) 

PS. I can't believe it's December tomorrow!!!
 
posted by Seglare at Tuesday, November 30, 2010 | Permalink | 10 comments
Sunday, November 28, 2010
White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
I know I have mentioned these cookies on the blog a few times, but never had the time to post the recipe. These are not any "super-health-cookies", just honest and delicious holiday cookies that should be enjoyed with a big glass of non-dairy milk or a cup of tea. :)


Before something else comes up again and keeps me from posting it, here's the recipe:

Vegan White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
  • 1/2 c heart-friendly vegan margarine
  • 1/2 c unrefined sugar
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 2/3 to 1 c sifted spelt flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp egg replacer powder (you can use flax egg, if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
  • 1/2 c non-dairy milk
  • 2/3 c chopped vegan white chocolate or vegan white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries
  • 1/4 c chopped almonds
Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F).

Using a food processor, process the oats until fine, and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar. Mix the milk and vanilla into the margarine-sugar mixture. Combine the dry ingredients, and gently mix them together with the wet mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips, cranberries and almonds.

Using wet hands, form the dough into balls, place on a baking sheet, and flatten gently. Alternatively, just drop the dough on the baking sheet by the spoonful.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.



I hope you all have a nice Sunday, and enjoy the last days of the Vegan MoFo! :)
 
posted by Seglare at Sunday, November 28, 2010 | Permalink | 11 comments
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Mini Thanksgiving
I hope all my American friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and are enjoying the weekend. :)

Thanksgiving is obviously not celebrated in Scandinavia, but in honor of the American half of my family, we had a mini dinner nonetheless. It was nothing fancy - just a nice excuse to sit down for a good meal together.

If you have read my blog earlier, you probably know I love the oven, and tend to prefer dishes that can be baked. As you will see below, every dish of this meal (except for the gravy) was cooked in the oven, too.


I started cooking the dinner by making a lentil loaf. I have made this for years with different lentils, spices, and grains, but I think the one we had now was one of the best. Instead of millet, you can use quinoa, potato, sweet potato, rice, barley, or any other grain/starchy vegetable you like. You can also add nuts or seeds: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and cashews all work well. :) Sometimes, I also add some chopped bell pepper, zucchini, or Kalamata olives (about 1/3 c - reduce the salt accordingly). If fresh herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley...) are in season, I highly recommend using them. The recipe is nice because it is so versatile, and you can spice it up or down according to your own taste. In my opinion, this is best served slightly warm or at room temperature, but feel free to heat it up as well. The leftovers make a great sandwich topping - in fact, that is often my main reason for making this. :)

Savory Lentil Loaf
  • 1 c lentils (any kind you like - I used Puy lentils)
  • 1/2 c millet
  • 3 c vegetable broth, or water + one vegetable bouillon cube
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp canola oil or olive oil
  • 1 red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 c spelt bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp tamari 
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vegan Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
In a large pot, bring the vegetable broth or water to a boil, and add the rinsed lentils and millet. Cook according to package instructions, until the liquid is absorbed. Mix in the tomato paste.

While the lentils and millet are cooking,  heat the oil in a large skillet, and add the onion, carrots, and garlic. Cook until the carrot is soft and the onion is transculent.

Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). In a food processor, combine the lentil-millet mixture, onion mixture, and the rest of the ingredients - minus bread crumbs. Process until quite smooth (I like to leave some bigger chunks, but you can also process this very fine if you like). Mix in the bread crumbs.

Pour the mixture into a lightly greased loaf pan. Bake in the lower part of the oven for about one hour, until the loaf has set, the top is brown, and it slightly pulls away from the sides of the pan. Let cool completely before removing from the pan. Serve with a good vegan gravy and fresh veggies. :)


For the gravy, I used a recipe for Thick 'n' Rich Gravy from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan - a book that I, sadly, don't own myself, but really wish I did (I found the recipe while browsing the book on Amazon). Seeing as I love so many of Dreena's recipes, I should probably get at least one of her books (any recommendations which one?!).

I first tried this recipe last Christmas, and it instantly became not only mine, but my family's favorite. I always omit the onion powder and sometimes use lemon juice instead of vinegar. The flavor also varies a little depending on the miso I have, but the recipe seems to work with virtually every type of miso. One of my favorite ways to make this is to add dried, soaked mushrooms - specially black trumpet mushrooms - and use the soaking liquid instead of vegetable broth. Absolutely delicious! :)


For potatoes, I made garlic potatoes in the oven. This is a very simple, mild recipe, and you can adjust it by adding more spices, mushrooms, carrots, onion - or, for a cheesy flavor, nutritional yeast or cashews - and using non-dairy creamer instead of milk. You can also replace half the liquid with vegetable broth or vegan cream of mushroom soup, or use a vegetable bouillon cube for flavor.

Garlic Potato Casserole
  • about 1 kg/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 to 2 1/2 c non-dairy milk or creamer (or half of each)
  • 1/2 tbsp freshly ground green pepper (you can use black pepper, but use a smaller amount)
  • salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F).

Put the potatoes and garlic into a medium, lightly greased casserole dish, and mix to combine. Mix the pepper and salt with the milk or creamer, and pour over the potato-garlic mixture. The potatoes should be all covered in liquid, so add a little more milk if needed. Mix again to make sure the pepper spreads evenly.

Bake in the oven, covered, for about 45 minutes. Remove the lid/foil, and bake for another 45 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown.


On the side, we had some oven roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower. For the cauliflower, I used olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. While the cauliflower was roasting (at 200 C/400 F), I prepared the brussels sprouts by mixing them with some canola oil (I ran out of olive oil), gomashio and black pepper. When the cauliflower was half done, I added the brussels sprouts, and continued roasting until they turned dark and crispy - about 20 minutes or so.




Instead of bread, we had some vegan cheddar jalapeno biscuits. I have made and also mentioned these on the blog several times - they are always a favorite. If you already haven't, you should really check out the (very easy) recipe here. ;)


We also had some homemade cranberry sauce that my aunt gave me when I visited her last month, but I forgot to take a picture of it.

Not least - dessert! A good friend of ours recently exchanged about 10 kg of handpicked, wild cranberries to a few bottles of my parents' homemade berry and fruit juice - and deal they both seemed quite happy about. ;) This provided me with plenty of cranberries to use for baking. I prefer wild cranberries because they have a stronger taste, smaller size, and softer skin, but this recipe works well with store-bought cranberries as well. You can find the recipe in my post about Cranberry Toffee Cake. I'm still grateful to Mihl for creating a vegan dulce de leche recipe that tastes "authentic". This time, I thought I had come up with a smart idea to make the dulce de leche in a double boiler - so I wouldn't need to watch it every second - but after waiting for two and a half hours, I concluded it was never going to be done, and transferred it into a regular pot again. :) Both the dulce de leche and the cake turned out nicely...


We also had some brændte mandler (sugar roasted almonds) and white chocolate-cranberry cookies for a snack, but I will share the recipes with you in a few days.

As the darkness falls around 3-4 PM these days (the days just get shorter and shorter), I hardly ever manage to take dinner pictures with daylight. I'll still have to figure out how to avoid yellowish pictures without setting up a whole studio in my kitchen. :) You can see the difference below: the first plate is Thursday's leftovers on Friday morning (as you can see, the veggies were almost all gone by then ;)), and the second picture is the actual plate on Thursday night, in artificial light.

The leftovers...

...and my real plate on Thursday... ;)

*****


As you probably know, Thanksgiving is not a national holiday - or even known to most people - in Scandinavia. Here the single big national holiday of the fall/winter is Christmas, which everyone is now looking forward to. I do wish they celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving here as well, as I think they make the fall seem so much shorter - there's always a fun celebration to look forward to!

Thanksgiving weekend, however, often falls on the first Advent - which, on its side, marks the official beginning of the Christmas season here. This year, the date is November 28. This is the weekend when most people set up their Christmas lights, and the countdown to Christmas really starts. Although I have been looking forward to Christmas since July (almost) and set up my first indoor Christmas lights in early November, I'm so happy to finally see Christmas lights in people's gardens and in the city as well. The lights are usually quite modest around here, which I'm happy about - bright, flashing lights thrown around every bush and rooftop are in the minority. That being said, I do find this website quite hilarious (I'm just happy it's not my neighborhood)!


Have you set up your Christmas lights or other decorations yet? When do you decorate your tree, if you have one? 

*****

Next, you might want to visit Vegan and So Forth, where you have a chance to win a copy of the Candle 79 cookbook. :)
 
posted by Seglare at Saturday, November 27, 2010 | Permalink | 15 comments
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Wind and Snow
Good morning! Most of Scandinavia is experiencing yet another snow storm. At the moment, there is only a little snow coming down here - but the wind is fierce. Oh, am I ever so glad that I can stay indoors and study in front of the fireplace today! I love to be outside when it's snowing, but nothing keeps me warm when it's really windy (the constant wind is one of the downsides of the Danish weather for sure).

Here's a video taken by a Danish newspaper last night, where you can see the snow and get a short sightseeing tour around the streets of Copenhagen. :) I can see I'm not missing anything by being away, ha! If an add pops up before the video starts, click where it says "luk annoncen".

***

I have recipes for cranberry-white chocolate cookies, savory lentil loaf and garlic potatoes in my pocket, but I will save them for later today or tomorrow, and share a few random meals from the past two days instead.

First, one of my favorite meals of all time - roasted vegetables. For an easy dinner, I like to mix up whatever root vegetables we have, and add some broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini, button mushrooms, garlic scapes, or other veggies. Since I was sharing the meal with others, I had to compromise this time and allow onions and beets in there as well (I can't stand roasted onions; and although I do eat beets, I feel that their taste is so strong it takes away from the other veggies, which is why I usually don't add them).  In addition to above mentioned onions and beets, this mix included sweet potato, brussels sprouts, rutabaga, carrots, garlic, and some yellow potatoes. These were just sprinkled with some olive oil and gomashio, then roasted until lightly browned (the picture is taken before they were done). You can't see it on the picture below, but the yellow potatoes are sliced on top like Hasselback Potatoes (another Swedish dish - see a better picture of them here), which makes them extra crispy as they bake. 


This was part of dinner the day before yesterday. We also had some sukuma wiki with black beans as another side dish, but I forgot to take a picture of that one. Yesterday, I combined the leftovers of both dishes, and added some mushrooms and more spices. These made a perfect filling for a chickpea omelette, another favorite for a quick dinner.


For one omelette, I mix half a cup of chickpea flour (gram flour) with half a cup of water, add some spices (for example: chili, berberē, cayenne pepper or curry powder for heat, some paprika or turmeric and freshly ground pepper, salt, and herbs) and possibly chopped vegetables or mushrooms as well. Cook on both sides until golden brown, and fill with spinach, mushrooms, or other vegetables.

Much to the shock of my boyfriend, I have also made an omelette or two using Ethiopian shiro powder (with spices already added), but I do recommend using good, old chickpea flour and saving shiro powder for Shiro Wat. ;)




Apologies for the terrible pictures above... I'm still working on taking proper pictures in the artificial lighting in the evenings.

For the last, this chocolatey dream was my supper last night and breakfast this morning - crumbled on top of some incredibly delicious berry soup (which included cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries) and a splash of vanilla soy milk. Sadly, I don't have a picture of the soup, but here's the topping...


Yesterday, I realized I had about three pounds of overripe bananas. Usually I'd just freeze them, but our (three) freezers are still filled to the brim with berries, pumpkin, mushrooms and other goods, so there was no space for any bananas. Naturally, this gave me a good excuse to make some banana bread. ;) I used a recipe for chocolate chip banana bread, replacing the eggs with an extra banana and using chopped dark chocolate instead of chocolate chips. I have used this recipe several times - when I just need delicious, simple banana bread - and it always turns out well. Most of the time, I make my banana bread healthier by using whole grain flour or something else; but every now and then, this is all I want. :)


Today, I'm on my own for dinner, so I have a feeling it's going to be a good, old sandwich or a bowl of cereal or noodles, accompanied by a couple episodes of Grey's Anatomy that I have missed... :)
 
posted by Seglare at Wednesday, November 24, 2010 | Permalink | 6 comments
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
In the Movies: La Rafle
Last night, we went to the movies to see La Rafle (The Round-up). As you may know, it tells the story of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, a Nazi raid and mass arrest in Paris by the French police on the night of July 16, 1942. I don't want to leak any spoilers to those planning to see the movie, so instead, I linked to a plot synopsis and a trailer above.

 [image source]

I found the movie to be somewhat clichéd and, specially in the beginning, quilty of just "listing" different events. There were also several interesting characters that were introduced, then forgotten, and too many loose ends. However, that being said, I do think the good points of the movie outweigh the negative. The filming was beautiful, the actors were good - including the little twin boys playing Nono - and, more than anything, the theme is an extremely important, yet often forgotten part of European history. As far as I know, this is the first movie made of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, which is one of the darkest moments in modern French history.

I still shudder with the thought that the events of World War II are really not that far in history; in fact, the war ended only a short time before my dad was born. The movie is also a good reminder that few countries in Europe can actually claim to have acted "heroically" in those tragic years, although we often like to blame it all on Germany alone. I am not only talking about France or other bigger, better known countries; but also the small Baltic states, and even such traditionally "neutral" countries as Sweden, Finland, Norway or Switzerland, each in their own way. Perhaps one positive exception is that Denmark, although quickly occupied by the Germans, had a strong resistance movement, and managed to save most of their Jews - thanks to an information leak from a German diplomat and a swift action by the civilians. Sadly, many people are willing to go beyond civility when they feel threatened or when they see an opportunity to benefit from a situation. You don't need to go all the way back to WW II, as similar examples of ordinary people turning against each other can be found in much more recent world events as well. Thankfully, however, there are also those who maintain their empathy and dare to defy the circumstances.

What puzzles me is the age limit set on this movie in Scandinavia: in Sweden and Denmark, the movie is not allowed for children under the age of 15. In Finland, they lowered the age limit from 15 to 13 after an appeal from history teachers (??); and only in Norway, it is set to a more reasonable 11 years. At the age of 15, when you study WW II in history, what can possibly be so disturbing about a movie like this that you shouldn't be allowed to watch it? There are many movies on this topic - not to mention other scary movies - that show much more direct violence; and I really think that at 15, you should be mature enough to handle nightmares that this might possibly give you. What are your thoughts about this?

All in all, I do recommend the movie highly. Although I have studied world history and the events were therefore known to me beforehand, the movie was still thought-provoking. If the events are unknown to you (as they are even to many Europeans), or if you're not into reading history books, I recommend the movie even more. It was not a happy, entertaining movie, but a good movie nonetheless.

I will get back to MoFo later on, but for now, I just wanted to share this movie tip with you.

Do you like going to the movies? What is your favorite movie? :)
 
posted by Seglare at Tuesday, November 23, 2010 | Permalink | 6 comments
Monday, November 22, 2010
Waffles for Breakfast
Most mornings, my breakfast consists of a pot of white or green tea followed an hour or two later by a bowl of cereal with berries or fruit or yoghurt with mysli. Every so often, however, I wake up craving something more special - most notably, pancakes or waffles. Yesterday was one of those days.

I'm all about sweet things for breakfast. Occasionally, I may enjoy a cup of Earl Grey or other black tea with soy milk and eat a roll or rye bread with cucumber, tomato and bell pepper on the side as my breakfast; but unlike my boyfriend, I could never stomach tofu scramble or curry in the morning. Therefore, my breakfast pancakes or waffles are always sweet as well. Below is one of the waffles I made yesterday with some leftover apple sauce. The waffles turned out so tasty that I thought it would be fair to share the recipe with you, too. :)


Vegan Apple Waffles

  • 1/2 c sifted spelt flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 c whole grain spelt flour (or whole wheat flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp unrefined sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 c vanilla soy yoghurt
  • about 3/4 c non-dairy milk
  • 1 medium apple, coarsely grated
  • 1/4 c chopped almonds (optional)
In a large bowl, combine the apple sauce, yoghurt and milk. Sift in the dry ingredients, and mix until well combined. Fold in the grated apple and chopped almonds.

Spoon into a lightly oiled waffle iron, and cook on medium heat until golden brown (the exact time will depend on your waffle iron).

Top with your favorite toppings, and enjoy! :)

I topped mine with apple slices, raisins, chopped almonds and a pinch of cinnamon and confectioner's sugar. After taking the picture, I also went back to pour some vanilla soy yoghurt on top (the yoghurt I use tastes just like vanilla custard). These were so filling I was only able to eat one - but they tasted so good I will definitely make them again!



Hope your week has started out well! :)
 
posted by Seglare at Monday, November 22, 2010 | Permalink | 9 comments
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Princesstårta
Today, I have a more festive recipe to share with you. :) I know I've only posted about sweet treats lately - but don't worry, I have a recipe coming up for a lentil loaf and a few other things next week.

Today, however, this post is for your sweet tooth. Princesstårta is another traditional Swedish recipe, a cake often served on birthdays, weddings, christenings, and other special occasions. I promise I won't turn this blog into "Scandinavian Vegan Cooking" only - and don't you think it's justified I skip Sweden when we get to S in my E.A.T. World Challenge..? - but this cake is so good you should make it. Seriously. :)


Princess Cake

For the cake: 
  • 3 3/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 2/3 c sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 2 1/2 c non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

For the filling:
  • 1 2/3 c non-dairy whipping cream (I used Go Green visp)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar (I wouldn't use vanilla extract, but vanilla powder or paste might work ;))
  • 1-2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 c raspberry jam

 For moisture:
  • Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon (depending on your lemon), diluted with water 

For the topping:
  • 300 g/10 oz green marzipan
  • confectioner's sugar
  • a fresh rose, marzipan rose, or any decoration of your choice


To make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F). Grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan.

In a small bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar with milk. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

Add the vanilla and oil into the milk-vinegar mixture, and mix until combined. Pour the wet mixture into the dry, and mix gently, until everything is well combined. Do not over-mix. Add a little more milk or oil (one tablespoon at a time), if the mixture seems too dry (I have noticed this varies greatly by the type of flour I use - hence the note ;)).

Pour the batter into a prepared cake pan, and bake in the preheated oven for about one hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Let cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once the cake is cool, cut it into four layers.


Now, it's time to make the filling...

In a bowl, whip the cream, and mix in the sugar, vanilla sugar, and lemon zest.


To assemble the cake: 

Place the bottom layer of the cake on a cake plate, and brush with the lemon juice+water mixture. Spread a layer of raspberry jam on the cake, and a layer of whipped cream on top. Repeat with the remaining layers, but reserve a little whipped cream for the top of the cake as well.

Top the cake with the last layer, and spoon the rest of the whipped cream on top. Using a rubber spatula or a knife, spread the cream so that it makes mound. The cake should resemble a dome and be higher in the center, then slowly decrease in height towards the sides (I'm not sure my explanation makes any sense, but the point is to make the cake look, sort of, like half a basketball).


To make the topping:

This is the trickiest part. If you are lucky enough to have a store nearby that carries ready-cut marzipan tops, go ahead and use those (that is what I did, since these are sold in nearly every store in Sweden). If you have to make your own, however, here's how to proceed (I have also made this a number of times, but I would lie if I said I enjoyed it ;)):

First, knead the marzipan in your hands (or inside a plastic bag), until it gets soft and easy to work with. This is where you want to add a drop or two of green food coloring, if you use plain marzipan.

Once the marzipan is soft, place one baking paper on a working surface, put the marzipan on the baking paper, and top with another baking paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the marzipan out between the baking papers, until it is about 0.12 inches (0.3 cm) thick. You'll want to measure your cake pan top + both sides to get the right size, then use a plate/tray/cardboard of the right size to cut the marzipan into a circle.

Roll the marzipan back on your rolling pin, and carefully lift it on top of the cake. Press firmly against the sides of the cake, and trim the excess edges.

If you have the time, leave the cake in the refrigerator overnight - this will greatly enhance the flavor. :)

When you are ready to serve your cake, sift some confectioner's sugar on top, and decorate with a fresh rose or other flower (with the stem wrapped in foil), or any other decoration of your choice. I like to use a fresh flower - this time a yellow rose.


Unfortunately, as you can tell by the shades in my pictures, it was dark when I finished making the cake, and didn't manage to take many pictures. Our guests were quite puzzled when I rushed the cake from the coffee table and into the (snowy) porch to catch the last glimpse of daylight (you can see I had to turn on the porch lights as well, however, as the daylight was almost gone). I also didn't remember to take a picture of the inside of the cake or the working process, so I hope my instructions above were clear enough. ;)

Another traditional way to fill the cake is to use vanilla custard instead of or in addition to the whipped cream. I prefer the fresh, lemony taste in this recipe and think vanilla custard makes the cake too sweet - but if you prefer, or if you can't find whipped non-dairy cream, feel free to use your favorite vanilla custard instead. :)

Have a lovely Sunday!
 
posted by Seglare at Sunday, November 21, 2010 | Permalink | 11 comments
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Danish Delicacies
Denmark being my current home country, it was an easy choice for letter D in my E.A.T. World challenge. Deciding what to make, however, was not as easy. While I'm not a big fan of many of the traditional Danish main courses (most of which include meat or fish in one form or another), I love the unbelievably wide selection of cakes and desserts. For someone with a sweet tooth like mine, Copenhagen is the place to live.

I chose only one typical Danish pastry for this challenge, but you will probably see many of my other favorite Danish recipes on the blog later on, too. :) The recipe today may sound time consuming, but is actually really quick and easy to make - and the result will melt in your mouth.



Hindbærsnitter 
  • 1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c vegan buttery margarine
  • 3/4 c confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 c very cold water
Filling:
Raspberry jam or marmalade

Glaze:
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tbsp)
1-2 c confectioner's sugar

Vegan sprinkles (optional)

To make the dough:
Put all ingredients in a food processor, and process until a ball forms. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour, until quite firm. If you are impatient like me, you can also place it in the freezeer for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F.

Divide the dough in two, and roll each piece out into an equal-sized rectangle. Place both pieces on a baking sheet - on top of baking paper! - and bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges.

While the dough is in the oven, make the glaze by combining lemon juice with confectioner's sugar. Add enough confectioner's sugar to form a spreadable, yet not too runny mixture.

As soon as the pastry is out of the oven, spread raspberry marmalade on one of the layers, and gently (using the baking paper) slide the other layer on top. Now spread the glaze on top of the top layer, and decorate with sprinkles of your choice (you could use chopped nuts or chocolate as well, or no sprinkles at all. I used vegan strawberry sprinkles that I discovered the other day ;)). Cut into small rectangles - or other shapes of your choice - carefully not to crack the layers too much.

Enjoy! :)



As you can see, I had good intentions to make a tutorial - this is the dough before baking. However, I miserably forgot to take any pictures between taking this out of the oven and cutting into final shapes.


Have a nice weekend, everyone! Do you have any exciting plans for this one? :)
 
posted by Seglare at Saturday, November 20, 2010 | Permalink | 11 comments
Friday, November 19, 2010
Lussekatter
Our snowstorm is finally gone. It left us with icy roads, and beautiful, white trees. This is how my arm looked after less than 10 minutes outside yesterday (I was digging the last collards from underneath the snow... I just couldn't bear losing them all ;)).


As one of you guessed, the picture yesterday was St. Lucia buns, or "Lussekatter", as they are called in Swedish (they're also known as lussebullar or simply saffransbullar - a dear child has many names). They are basically sweet buns with saffron, shaped in "curls". Lussekatter are traditionally eaten around St. Lucy's Day on December 13. Baking lussekatter with my Mom is such an integral and cherished part of my childhood Christmas memories - and although it's still early, I talked her into making these buns last weekend. ;)


Vegan Lussekatter - Saffron Buns

  • 50 g/1.76 oz fresh yeast (or 20-22 g/0.7-0.8 oz dry yeast)
  • 2 c lukewarm non-dairy milk (warmer, if using dry yeast)
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 to 1/2 c vegan buttery margarine, softened
  • 1 g saffron threads
  •  1 tbsp cardamom (optional)
  • 5-6 c unbleached all-purpose flour
For brushing:
Coffee or melted vegan margarine

For granish:
Raisins, pearl sugar

Crumble the yeast in a large bowl, add sugar, and pour the warm milk over (if using dry yeast, skip this step, and mix the yeast with a small amount of flour first, then mix into the sugar-milk mixture, using slightly warmer milk). Mix until yeast is dissolved.

Add the salt, spices, and enough flour to make a thin batter. Add the softened (or melted) vegan margarine and more flour, gradually, and knead for a few minutes, until you get a soft, elastic dough that doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl. Use only the amount of flour needed to make a soft dough that pulls into a ball - the less flour you need, the better.

Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let it stand in a warm place for about half an hour, until doubled in size.

Pour the dough onto a floured surface, and knead with your hands again. Add more flour if necessary, but only as much as necessary so that the dough does not stick to the surface.

Form the dough into lussekatter - see the instructions below.

Cover again with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rise for 20-30 minutes. In the meanwhile, preheat your oven to 225 C/425-450 F.

Brush with coffee or margarine, and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until golden.

Pensla med uppvispat ägg eller smält margarin och garnera med russin.

To make the buns:


Start by rolling your dough into a log, then cut it into equal pieces.


Roll each piece into a rope, like this:


Starting from both ends, roll the rope into a curl.



Press some raisins into the ends of the curl.



Brush with coffee or margarine, and sprinkle some pearl sugar on top (if desired). Don't worry, you really can't taste the coffee at all - it's only for color.

Wait while they bake, enjoying the lovely scent coming from the oven...


Then enjoy warm, with a glass of your favorite non-dairy milk. :) We only used about 0.5 grams (half the amount) saffron for these, as we ran out in the middle of baking. If you use the amount given in the recipe - which I recommend - you'll get a more distinct, yellow color.


The shape above is probably the most traditional shape for lussekatter. My Mom makes them in some different shapes as well, which I will probably share with you later in December. In the meanwhile, you can see a picture of the many shapes here.
 
posted by Seglare at Friday, November 19, 2010 | Permalink | 7 comments
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Let it snow
I'm sitting in the middle of a major snowstorm - it started snowing last night and it has continued all day today. The trees are all covered in snow and the flakes are huge: while outside, it feels like walking in a fairytale.

Driving, however, is not fun - despite proper winter tires. I just got home and feel like I've run a marathon, instead of driven a car. There were several cars that had crashed or simply slid off the road, including a big truck. The snow is cleared quickly enough, but the roads are terribly icy, and some crazy folks still drive around with summer tires. I'm thankful I didn't need to drive any longer distances today, and hope the people who crashed their cars did not get injured.

I'm going to make a cup of hot chocolate and read the newspaper, but I will be back tomorrow with a food related post again. :) Here's a little teaser - anyone recognize this Swedish Christmas bun?

 
posted by Seglare at Thursday, November 18, 2010 | Permalink | 8 comments
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
C as in Chile
Today, I have reached C in my E.A.T. World challenge. I wish I had the time to do this challenge at a little faster pace, but I try to think that this way, I can enjoy the fun for longer. This week you'll get two new countries, though! Any guesses which country I [was obliged to] choose for D? ;)


Naturally, when I saw the opportunity to cook another dish that involves pumpkin, I jumped at it. We still have quite a few different types of pumpkin/squash in our basement, plus a freezer full of pumpkin puree, so I'm always happy when I find a new way to use it up. I'm sure many of the other C countries would have had some pumpkin recipes to choose from as well, but since this cuisine is new to me and I already knew a recipe for it, I settled on Chile.

I have had this recipe bookmarked for a long time, but have never got around to making it before. Today, I realized it was actually really simple and perfect for dinner. The original recipe I used can be found here, and there are many similar recipes on the internet. As you can see below, I followed it almost exactly. I did add some vegetable bouillon for taste (instead of salt), and used canned red kidney beans because I was out of white beans (and didn't have the time to soak/cook them myself). Hokkaido also cooks quite fast, so I didn't need to mash any of it - it got mushy enough by itself. I would have used whole wheat spaghetti, but I was out of it - which is actually quite funny, because I normally never buy white spaghetti. I was very lucky to find this in the very back of my pantry and thus avoid a trip to the grocery store. :)


Chilean Bean and Pumpkin Soup
  • 2 c cooked or canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small to medium Hokkaido squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube or 2 tsp powder (or vegetable broth)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minted
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 100 g/1/4 lbs spaghetti, broken in half
  • salt or soy sauce, to taste
In a large pot, cover the Hokkaido pieces and vegetable buillon cube with water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, until tender.

While the squash is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet, and add the onion, garlic, carrot, oregano and paprika. Saute on low heat for about 15-20 minutes, until soft.

Once the squash is tender (not too soft), add the spaghetti, and continue cooking for about 10 minutes more, until the squash and spaghetti are both done, and some of the squash is getting a little mushy. Add the onion mixture and beans, and cook for a minute or so, until heated through. Add some more salt, if necessary.

This was the last of our Hokkaido harvest - but luckily we still have some other types of squash left. 

On the side, I made Vegan Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits, which I have also mentioned on the blog before. They never fail and always impress dinner guests. :) You can find the recipe here.


This was a wonderful, flavorful and warming meal - just perfect for a chilly, gray day.

Check out Mandee's blog for another version of this challenge (which is quite a few countires ahead of me). :)

Have a nice evening, everyone!
 
posted by Seglare at Tuesday, November 16, 2010 | Permalink | 4 comments
Monday, November 15, 2010
Another Serving of Noodles
I have just a short post today, as I have been running from meeting to meeting all day, and therefore spent very little time in the kitchen. Once home, I made one of my quick favorites for dinner. I have featured this "recipe" on the blog earlier - you can find it in the end of this post

Today, I made the dish even faster and used mixed frozen veggies and cooked potatoes that were left over from yesterday. I also cooked the noodles (I used whole wheat noodles) with the vegetables and curry-coconut milk, which made them extra flavorful. Ahhh, it's been too long since I had a good bowl of noodles!


On the side, I fried some tofu in a little soy sauce, and mixed it in the dish just before serving.


Garnish with fresh herbs, and enjoy! :) The meal was ready in 10 minutes - from start to finish - and was the perfect ending for a busy day.

Apologies for the badly lit pictures, but the darkness falls around 4 PM (?!) these days. Do any bloggers living in the Northern latitudes have good tricks for taking dinner photos during the long winter months?

***

For the last, some giveaways! These blogs are totally worth checking out, even if you're not interested in giveaways. :)

At Jenny's blog, you have the chance to win a $40 gift certificate to Vegan Essentials.

At I Eat Trees, you can enter to win The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook.

At Leslie Loves Veggies, you could win a Bamboo Utensil Set (if you live in the US, I believe there are many other giveaways on this site as well).

Giveaways accepting international entries are so rare - do I need to say that I would be so happy to win any of these? ;-)

Good night, everyone!
 
posted by Seglare at Monday, November 15, 2010 | Permalink | 6 comments
Speculoos
Good morning! :) I'm terribly behind in my Vegan MoFo blogging due to all the traveling - but that should improve this week, when I'm finally home again.

The first weekend in a while I wasn't on the road was spent baking. We made the year's first Lussekatter (St. Lucia Buns - Swedish saffron buns traditionally eaten around St. Lucy's Day on December 13) and a few other things - including these:


Speculoos! Remember when I attempted to create something similar to speculoos, Belgian Christmas cookies, back in October? I didn't bother to look up how they are made, and came up with a delicious tasting recipe - which produced nice, soft cinnamon cookies, but certainly not traditional speculoos.

Since I didn't want to fall behind in my weekly E.A.T. World challenge as well, and since the next letter was B, I had a good excuse to give these cookies another try. Welcome to Belgium!


This time around, I found a traditional speculoos recipe, and followed it religiously (although I obviously used vegan margarine in place of butter). The dough turned out so dry that I had to add a little more liquid (maybe three tablespoons of vegan margarine + cold water), but once I got the dough to hold together, the rest went very smoothly.


The dough tasted almost exactly like gingerbread dough (yum!), just a little less spicy. The cookies turned out crispy and delicious - again, like a milder version of gingerbread. :) I liked them very much, but they were still different than the traditional speculoos I have tasted, so I'll keep looking for the perfect recipe. This one, however, is perfect for a day when you feel like having gingerbread [dough] but want to avoid the time-consuming part of boiling together molasses and spices. ;)


I also made a quick trip to Ikea this weekend to pick up a few things. As a student, Ikea is one of my favorite places to shop; and sometimes (if I visit during a quiet hour!) I just like to walk around looking at the model homes for fun, without even buying anything. This time I only needed some jars and other small items, but I also happened to find these cute cookie cutters and a new bundt cake pan. I'm in love with the animal cookie cutters!


I can't wait to test them out with our traditional gingerbread recipe.

I'll be sharing some of the other things we made this weekend later on, too.

Have a nice day! :)
 
posted by Seglare at Monday, November 15, 2010 | Permalink | 5 comments
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Bread and Pancakes
I hope this post won't make you think all my meals consist of bread filled with lentils and greens (seeing as I just blogged about those empanadas) - but this lentil "pie" was so good it really deserves a recipe post of its own. :)


Despite the snow, our greens are still hanging in there...


However, I realize it is soon starting to be the last chance to use them up, and we have been adding them to almost every meal lately. Today, I had a huge pot of lentils leftover from yesterday, and was wondering what to do with them. I have had the idea of a vegetable "pie" in my head for a while now, and saw this as the perfect time to make a lentil pie. Instead of the traditional pie dough, however, I used the dough for breakfast rolls. This crust is a little more time consuming, but totally worth it in this recipe - I promise. :)



Lentil Filled Bread (or lentil pie)

For the crust:
  • 2 c very warm water 
  • 11 g/0.4 oz active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp sweet molasses or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil or melted vegan margarine
  • 1 1/2 c rolled oats
  • about 4 1/2 c whole grain bread flour
For the filling:
  • 3 c cooked brown lentils or Puy lentils (preferably cooked in mild vegetable broth)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 1 small bunch of greens, such as collards or kale, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 c plain soy yoghurt
  • 2-3 tsp Harissa paste
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper (black pepper and lemon zest)
  • salt (I used spicy Herbamare) or soy sauce and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the glaze:
1/8 c molasses + 1/8 c water

First, make the dough: 
Combine the warm water, molasses/maple syrup and salt in a large bowl. Mix in a little flour to form a very thin batter. In a separate bowl, combine the yeast with about 1/2 c flour. Add into the wet mixture, and mix until well combined. Gradually add the carrot and rolled oats, and enough flour to form a soft dough. Mix in the oil and some more flour, and knead until you get a soft, elastic ball that naturally pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Cover the bowl, and set in a warm place. Let rest for 20 minutes, until about doubled in volume.

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling...
    Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, and fry until transculent (add a little water if necessary). Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for a minute or two. Mix in the carrot and greens, and continue cooking until all the vegetables are tender.  Fold in the tomatoes towards the end of the cooking process. Remove from the heat, and mix in the lentils, soy yoghurt, and spices.

    To assemble...

    Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F).


    Divide the dough into 3 parts. Take 2/3 of the dough, and roll out on top of a baking paper (it should be the size of the paper) or on a floured surface. Transfer onto a deep baking sheet. Spoon the filling on top, and spread evenly. Roll out the remaining 1/3 of the dough to form a "lid", and place on top of the filling. Poke with a fork to avoid any explosions in the oven. ;) Seal the edges firmly with a fork/your fingers and the molasses-water mixture, and then brush the top of the crust with the same mixture.

    Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Immediately after removing from the oven, brush again with the molasses-water mixture. Cover with a baking paper and clean tea towels, and let cool until lukewarm. Cut into squares.

    Serve with some chili sauce and a big, fresh salad. :)

    Can you tell I forgot to divide the dough first? :D Luckily I remembered before spooning any filling on it!


    This was loved by everyone, and I'll definitely keep the recipe to make again. I'm thinking this would be a perfect thing to bring to a pre-Christmas potluck dinner... :)


    For dessert, I made some apple pancake in the oven. I forgot to take a picture of it, however, so I'll share the recipe with you another day.

    Have a nice day everyone! :)
     
    posted by Seglare at Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Permalink | 5 comments