Monday, 22 October 2012

Spinach Fatayer (aka Lebanese Spinach Pies)

A recent discussion with a Lebanese coworker got me hungry for spinach pies, or fatayer. There's no going past the ones sold at Tabet's on Sydney Road, but I thought I could give making them a go. These turned out great - not quite as flavourful as the ones in Brunswick, but a great snack none the less.

Makes about 6 pies.

Ingredients for the dough:
  • 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1.5 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/6 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
  • some olive oil

Dissolve the yeast and the sugar in about 1/3 cup warm water and let sit for about 10-15 minutes. Blitz the flour and salt in a food processor and, once the yeast has sat for awhile, add the oil to the yeasty water. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry while mixing on slow speed with a dough hook attachment.

After about a minute, test the dough with your hand. If the dough sticks to your hand, sprinkle it with a good couple of tablespoons of flour, then grab it out of the mixer and knead for a couple of minutes by hand, until smooth and elastic. Set aside in an oiled, covered bowl for about 90 minutes.

While the dough is sitting, you can make the filling.

Ingredients for the filling:
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2/3 cup brown onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a few grinds black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • 1/4 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1/6 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sprinkle the salt over the spinach in a large bowl. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then squeeze all the juice out, if juice exists. Mix in the onion. When you are ready to fill the pastry, mix in the rest of the ingredients.

Once the dough has sat for a good 90 minutes, cut the dough in half, and roll the first half out onto a clean surface. Cut into shapes, as circular as possible (but, as you can tell from my non-triangular attempts, it doesn't really matter!) Fill with a couple tablespoons of filling, and pull the outer edges in, pressing the sides together so no filling can escape.

Place the pies onto an oil-sprayed baking sheet, brush with a bit of olive oil and put them in a 175'C oven for about 10 minutes. Check on them, turn them around if necessary and bake for another 5-10 minutes. They are done when browned on top.

Serve with an extra squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper.




Sunday, 21 October 2012

Cheese and Chicken Pizza

A broken tooth, a broken computer; my third week of Vegan Mofo did not go so well. I am going to try to get back into it, but we shall see how it goes...

Anyway, after last week's success with "Better Than Ricotta", I had a bit extra that I thought to use as pizza sauce. It was okay, but the texture turned a bit chalky, so it probably needed to be mixed with some Nuttelex to make it more creamy.

Warning: This pizza dough should be left for an hour or so to rise (you can cheat with 45 minutes) so make sure you know this before you think to make it as a quick dinner. That said, the dough is very easy to make, and is probably the best pizza dough I have made at home.

Ingredients for the dough:
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 3 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • large pinch of salt

First, dissolve the yeast in a large mixing bowl with the warm water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Blitz the flour and salt in a food processor (all my instructions will include the use of a food processor, but can certainly be mixed by hand as well), using the dough hook. Add the oil to the yeasty water and slowly dirzzle these wet ingredients into the food processor, while on low speed. Mix until just mixed and a dough has started to form.

Pull out the dough and hand-knead for about 3 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and put aside in an oil-coated mixing bowl. Cover with platic wrap and set aside to rise for 40 minutes to an hour.

Spray your baking sheet(s) with oil and dust with cornflour or all-purpose flour. Cut the dough in half and shape into whatever shape it will allow you (I aimed for circles but that just didn't happen!)

My toppings included:
  • a sauce of "Better Than Ricotta" mixed with fresh, chopped oregano (on one half)
  • a sauce of ready-made pizza sauce (on the other half)
  • roasted pumpkin
  • Redwood Mozzarella Cheezly
  • Redwood chicken-style pieces, previously cooked in a frypan then chopped
  • sliced mushrooms
  • diced tomato
  • diced green capsicum
  • finely diced red onion 


I put on all the ingredients bar the cheese, cooked the pizzas in a 250'C oven for about 10 minutes, then added the cheese and cooked some more until the crusts were clearly baked, and the cheese melted. Grind some salt and pepper over the top and it's ready to go!



Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Oh Em Gee Ricotta Mushroom Leek Ravioli with Pesto Sauce

One of the best foods in the world is the dumpling. This is because the definition of a dumpling can include pretty much any kind of dish that is made of a piece of dough, stuffed with whatever kind of filling, then cooked. Ravioli are like the Italian version of dumplings, and for that I love them. It's hard not to be satisfied after consuming a plate full of them.

Before I discuss the recipe, I want to give a shout-out to Tofutti brand for having a long product shelf-life. I bought my container of Tofutti Better Than Ricotta Cheese in about March, and lost it in the back of my fridge. I reunited with it again today, fearing the mouldiest. I was more than pleasantly surprised to find it still had another month and a half 'til expiry and in perfect condition for eating. YES!!

So, I have posted about making ravioli before and the good news is, that with the dough hook-thing on my food processor, I am only getting speedier and speedier at making these little things, this dish taking less than 3 hours from sauce to filling to dough to plate. If I hadn't paused to wash some dishes, it probably would have been quicker, so don't ever feel daunted by pasta-making. It's not always as time-consuming as it seems.

Pesto Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of basil (about 4 cups, loosely packed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Add the basil and pine nuts to the food processor and blend until paste-like. Add the lemon juice, garlic and salt and blend again. While blending, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. DONE! I usually would have a taste and add anything else that needs adding, being mindful that the flavours will deepen and emulsify after a night in the fridge.

As with my last ravioli, I used Vegan Dad's dough recipe, replacing 1.5 tbsp of all-purpose flour with besan (chickpea flour) to give colour and bind.

Follow the dough recipe and roll out in a pasta roller or, if you've got muscles and patience, with a rolling pin.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 tub Tofutti Ricotta (I subtracted about 5 tbsp for later use)
  • 10 small Swiss Brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1.5 tbsp Nuttelex
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper

Finely dice the leek and add to a large frypan with the melted butter in it. Mince the garlic and add to the leek. Make sure to keep the heat on low so as not to burn anything. Slice the mushrooms as thinly as possible (I use a cheap mandolin from the Tokuya on Bourke St). Make sure to give the leek/garlic mixture a few stirs whilst slicing the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to the frypan and grind some salt and pepper over it.


Melt down the veggies a bit more, then add the nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Cook until you have cooked most of the liquid out of the mixture. Let cool for a couple of minutes (it's okay if it is still warm) then add to the ricotta. Stir until all the ingredients are combined and let rest in the fridge while you finish the dough.

ravioli_3  ravioli_4

I won't go on and on about how to compile the ravioli, as I have described the process on this blog before. I will, however, comment on the Tofutti Ricotta being delicious. I had feared it would be yucky, based on a few reviews I have read. Rather, it worked wonderfully - the texture and moisture content was perfect, and the taste went well with my ingredients. Worth the high price if you can't be bothered making tofu ricotta.



Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Eazy Cheezy Potatoes Au Gratin

This dish is a nice change from our usual weekday side dish of mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes. My partner isn't the biggest fan of the "yeasty stuff" taste (nutritional yeast) and I have to say, it does have a distinctive taste that I wouldn't want to eat every day, but every few weeks I'm happy to yeast it up!

The sauce, adapted from the Cheezy Sauce out of Veganomicon, turned out super-creamy and paired with the potatoes perfectly.


  • 3 medium potatoes, sliced about 1/2 cm thick (I used desiree potatoes)
  • 2 cups liquid vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pinches of fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • a few grinds of fresh black pepper
  • pinch of tumeric
  • 3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp Nuttelex

First you need to parboil the potato slices for about seven minutes. Drain all the excess water and set them aside in a strainer.

Next, heat up the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan or large frypan. While it cooks on low-medium heat, whisk the flour into the vegetable broth until all large lumps are gone. Once the garlic is lightly (lightly!) browned, add the thyme, salt and pepper and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the stock/flour mixture, stir, then add the turmeric and nutritional yeast. Stir for about three minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the lemon juice, Nuttelex and mustard. Stir stir stir until everything is combined. Cook for another couple of minutes, stirring so the sauce doesn't form a skin on top. Remove from the heat.

Make one layer of potatoes at the bottom of a glass or ceramic baking dish. 


Pour half the sauce onto the potatoes and add another layer of potato slices. Pour the rest of your sauce on top and spread around so the potato slices are evenly coated. If you have a few leftover slices, arrange them in a fancy pattern on the top and scrape out the rest of the sauce from the pan with a spatula to cover them.

Bake, covered with aluminium foil, for about 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, to your desired brownness. Sprinkle some paprika on top to make it look extra-fancy and serve hot!




Monday, 8 October 2012

Lazy Chocolate-Chip Cookie-Maker Louise

The annoying thing about googling recipes is that Google never knows exactly what you want. If I want a chocolate chip cookie recipe that is super-easy, with limited ingredients, but not too few ingredients, with no nuts, that can easily be adapted as vegan, Google is clueless. I hate having to hunt through ten million recipes to make something so simple as a chocolate chip cookie.

After about 40 minutes' search, I finally found a recipe that fit all my criteria from  Paris Loves Pastry. I used the Sweet William chocolate chips for the first time, which are good, but a little milky for me. I would prefer the Tropical Source dark chips, but I haven't actually seen them for years (they used to sell them in a Jewish grocery in if anyone knows somewhere in Melbourne where I can find them, please let me know!)

This recipe does not produce the best cookie I've tasted - it's a bit heavy on the oil - but it did the trick and cured my mid-week choc-chip cookie craving.


2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup-ish- chocolate chips
2/3 cup canola oil (a bit less wouldn't hurt)
1/4 cup soy milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the over to 170' C.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry, and mix until combined. Form into small balls and smush them onto a baking sheet about an inch and a half apart.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the accuracy of your oven. Remove from the oven, let rest about five minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack if you have one.

Best served with whole soy milk!



Sunday, 7 October 2012

Breakfast Again!: Waffles with Caramelised Bananas

My waffle maker is my new best friend. Though I'm not really a big fan of sweet breakfasts, I can never pass up a good waffle. I happily got this maker for free, and it's okay, but if I was purchasing one, I would probably stay away from the Breville machine (it's a bit flimsy) and go for a Belgian-style maker.

This recipe is simple, but not too sweet - and makes the waffles nice and fluffy! Makes about 8 waffles.

Ingredients for the waffle batter:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 3/4 cup soy milk
  • egg replacer equivalent to 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Combine the dry ingredients into one bowl and mix with a fork to get rid of any large lumps. Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly pour the wet into the dry, stirring after every 1/2 cup. The batter shouldn't have too many lumps, but on the other hand, shouldn't be over-stirred. Let this sit while you prepare the bananas.

Ingredients for the bananas:
  • 2 ripe yellow bananas 
  • 1.5 tbsp Nuttelex
  • 1.5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1tbsp Kahlua (optional)

Combine the Nuttelex and sugar and melt for about 20 seconds in the microwave, until soft. Blend together and add the Kahlua, if you're using it.  Cut the bananas into slices, either lengthways or longways, whichever you prefer. Add the bananas to the butter/sugar/Kahlua mixture and coat. These should then be cooked in a frypan over med-high heat for about 4 minutes on each side, until brown and caramelised but not burnt.

While these are cooking, you can make the waffles according to the instructions on your waffle maker. 

If you're making a ton of waffles like I did a couple of weekends ago at a waffle party I hosted, keep them in one layer on a cookie sheet in your oven with the heat on low to keep them warm and crispy until ready for serving.

Pile your finished waffles up with fresh sliced strawberries, the caramelised bananas, maple syrup, veg bacon and whipped cream, if you like (my Soyatoo! sadly went mouldy after being open for two weeks so I had to bin it.)