Sunday, 30 September 2012

Chocolate Red Wine Cake

I love boozy desserts.  I had brought this over to a housewarming party, because, of course, being who I am, I don't bring just a bottle of vodka or whatever to a house party, no no, not Maria.  I bring food, I love an excuse to bake.
It's a really dense and rich chocolate cake that leaves a trailing after note of red wine, so it's absolutely fantastic.  It's not one of those overwhelmingly sweet cakes, and you can definitely taste the alcohol.  It's a "staff-favorite" on Food & Wine so you know it's good.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Vegan Chickpea and Quinoa Pizza Base

I had it coming.  I had been bragging about my amazing immune system for weeks as all my friends fell ill with runny noses and unbearable coughs, and now --  it's over for me too.  I should be sitting in the library working on economics right now but I'm currently wrapped in a duvet and scarf and I feel just germy and unhealthy and just as a whole very unpleasant.  It's karma.  Not my immune system, but karma.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Carrots and Peanut Butter

Step away, jelly and bananas -- carrots have become the new mistress of peanut butter.
Is it just me or have other people discovered the lovely relationship between the two already??  During my vegan challenge, at one point I got really hungry and desperately needed a snack.  I had carrots and the obvious vegan combination was carrots and hummus, but I had no hummus.  As I had just made some peanut butter, I decided to try the two together on pita bread and oh wow.  New healthy snack.  No more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I'm now having peanut butter and shredded carrots.  

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Red Pepper Falafels

Warning: please skip directly to the recipe if you don't want to read about my mundane life problems below

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Carrot Quinoa Casserole

It's difficult to keep in touch with everyone, even if you live in a small university town where you probably bump into everyone in your social circle at least once a month.  In attempt to maintain good relations with the people that I know, I set up so many coffee dates and dinner parties and whatnot..and as much as I enjoy them, they take up a lot of time and $$$.  So I've decided to go by a different strategy and have routine in my life instead.  On Tuesdays I go to the Psychology lunch with a group of friends, every Tuesday.  Wednesday nights are pub quiz nights with another group of friends (where my friend is the quiz master, and may I say an excellent quiz master).  And now Thursday nights there is the Vegetarian Society's potluck.  I'm going to have to go to that every Thursday with another group of friends.  It's less stressful this way.  It's good.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Stir-Fried Cauliflower Rice

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I'm in my 3rd year of my Bachelor's degree, in 5 years I'm going to be out in the real world.  I'm going to be living in London with my friend, Saanya, we'll be vegan and we'll go out for drinks in our sexy business suits after work, and use all our money on our expensive rent and on the theater.

That's the plan I have with Saanya.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Banana Bread Breakfast Quinoa

I've been waking up at 7 the past couple of days when I really only need to leave the house at 9:40.  The first two days I made challah bread -- honey and apple challah bread that turned out quite well but I won't do a blog post because I tried braiding them and they didn't turn out very pretty...BUT my Jewish friends said they tasted nice, even though they could just be very polite, I think that says something..ahem.
So I woke up early again this morning and decided that i need something else for breakfast other than fresh challah bread and cereal and milk. I had bought a very ripe banana the day before because I wanted to mash it and put it in some healthy dessert.  Then this morning after about half an hour of breakfast-recipe-searching, I found this recipe and thought it was the one.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Mint and Zucchini Quinoa Salad

Ah another one of those delightful vegan dishes.  I had made this during my vegan challenge, and god I really wanted to put some goat's cheese in it.  Please don't be silly like I was and add some cheese to this salad.  
I have not yet had proper cheese since the end of my vegan challenge.  You'd think I'd run to the cheese shop or the butcher's or the fishmonger's and empty my wallet, but surprisingly, as soon as the ban of such foods was lifted, I no longer felt the overwhelming temptation of such foods.  I could write my Psychology research essay on this, actually.  I'd love to write about food and emotions.  The reason I love food is that it makes me happy, from eating it to making it, it's just all therapeutic and relaxing and brings me pleasure.  Anyway, I stray, I'm talking about cheese.  I love cheese, I think most salads need some cheese in it.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Broccoli Soup and the end of my vegan challenge

Monday marked the end of my 2-week vegan challenge.  As a trial, it wasn't too difficult.  Perhaps the only bad thing was living in a small town, the restaurants and ready-made meals aren't very vegan friendly, thus I forced myself to cook more, which is good.  I was worried about not getting certain vitamins so I took vitamin supplements every day and I bought calcium-fortified soya milk and whatnot.

I weighed myself, and I think I've lost 1kg.  I don't know my exact weight before the challenge though.  I should've measured my blood pressure and had a whole check-up before, so I could compare it to now.  It was definitely interesting -- it forced me to be a lot more adventurous with my cooking, though being the first two weeks of school I ate out a lot (making ridiculous requests in restaurants such as asking for feta salads without the feta) and I ended up eating the same things over and over again.  But I may do this again, next time for a whole month, and I'll weigh myself and actually document how much I'm paying for everything as well.  Anyway, if you haven't seen already, I've posted my vegan challenge meals on Facebook.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Versatile Lentil Salad

I go crazy for wholegrain salads.  I only realize how overpriced they can be hours after the meal though.  Honestly, it's just lentils and pulses -- cheap stuff, but they sell them at these fancy healthy delis and cafes.  It's like tofu and seitain, they're cheap stuff, but they've become so popular in the west, winning the label as "healthy foods" and so you only find them in overpriced health stores.  Tofu and seitan are the cheapest things in China. Oh and miracle noodles! Have you guys ever heard of "miracle noodles"?  They're low-carb and almost calorie-free, I had thought that they were the most fantastic inventions.  They cost a fortune but I was so curious that I actually ordered a pack online.  They tasted fine, but after some internet research I realized that I had been eating them all my life in China.  They're usually thrown in hot pots, and, again, they're cheap.  Cheap ingredients. I get really annoyed by these things.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Raw Carrot and Cashew Bites

I've been looking at all these vegan baking recipes but most of them involve chia or flax seeds and those things are expensive.  I found a whole bag of chia seeds, maybe 250g or so, for 12 pounds. Fair enough, I only need like 1 tbsp of it per cake but still -- 12 pounds! My vegan challenge is almost up, I don't need chia seeds.
Remember my raw brownies?  No? Check them out if you don't know about them.  These are built upon the same concept: dried fruits and nuts.  These are sooo very yummy, it's got ginger and cinnamon and nutmeg so it's wonderfully spicy.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Eggplant and Chickpea Curry

I am really enjoying this vegan thing, I like challenging myself when I cook, and this has proven to be quite..challenging.  It's fun looking for vegan recipes and discovering all these new ingredients and foods, i'm almost tempted to extend this two-week challenge to a whole month!  It could be completely psychological, but I feel great, my body feels great.  I feel healthy and full of energy, though that could be largely due to the fact that there has been a surprising amount of sunshine here in Scotland in the past few days.  There are so many recipes I want to try, and I know I don't have to be vegan to try them, but I like the fact that I have self-control, which I had thought that I didn't have at all when it came to food.  I like setting limits and challenges and having to look for new recipes all the time. I love it.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Saffron and Zucchini Barley Risotto

My first properly cooked meal in my vegan challenge! And in the new kitchen!  Just moved into the new house, kitchen's quite good (obviously it's the only thing I care about).  I hate moving. I hate packing and unpacking, and I have to do it again next year and the year after that.  First year in dorms, then I moved to a house, was lovely but a bit too $$$, so I moved for my third year, but I have to move again next year to live with two of my best friends.  And then I graduate so I have to pack and move again to do a 1-year master's degree somewhere, so I'll have to move again after that.

I just always lose things when I move.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Two-Week Vegan Challenge

I had started this challenge on Monday.  It's really just for fun, just to see if I can.  I don't think I could ever become a vegan, I personally don't think it's necessary.  Becoming vegetarian is something I'd like to do but unfortunately I love steak and bacon too much.  Eggs, milk and cheese --- I feel no guilt in consuming these.

It's good to have some self-control.  Perhaps it's because I know so many vegetarians, Muslims and Jews that have all these eating restrictions, and I admire them for their self-control.  A week ago I'd have thought I could never turned down a crackling pork belly or lobster ravioli, and now, I know it's only been 3 days, but I've been pretty good.  Soy milk and cereal in the morning, lots of fruits, vegan brownies, vegetables and pulses and beans.

It can be quite healthy, and you could lose weight on it, but only because food choices are so limited. People always offer cookies and ice cream and whatnot, and I've had to turn them all down because they contained egg/dairy/butter.  In restaurants I'm forced to eat salads, because there's not much else.  Most restaurants are pretty vegetarian-friendly with at least a couple of vegetarian options -- but they always contain cheese and so I can't have it.  Although the other day I ordered a feta salad without the feta.  It's like once I ordered a caesar salad without the caesar salad and I could sense the waiter mocking me.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Sicilian Almond Cookies

Credits to Sanjna for the photos, and the rest of her family for enjoying the cookies.  I had spent the last couple of days in the Jain household in London where I had been indulging in traditional Indian food almost every meal.  Dosas, puris, which I'm probably misspelling, and many more, with names that are too difficult for me to remember.  I miss them.  The mother's a fantastic cook, which is why I was so happy that she actually enjoyed my cookies.
These are light and sweet, reminding one of macarons but perhaps not as delicate -- they're easier to make as well. They're similar to my pistachio cookies, that I've tried and failed to seduce men with.  These, again, may not be a great method of seduction but it'll make you more likable.
makes about 20 cookies
200g almonds
150 icing sugar + more for dusting
1 egg white
1 tsp honey

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Put the almonds in a food processor and process until finely ground, but don't do it so much that it becomes butter.  Mix well with the icing sugar.  Add the egg white and the honey, you may need to use your hand to knead it, it becomes a really thick paste.  Knead into small pyramids and flatten the top.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, don't worry if they seem too soft, they will harden when cool.   Let cool and dust with icing sugar
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