29 January 2010

Mock Satay Skewers

dairy free egg free nut free

If peanuts are an issue for anyone you know, then I sincerely hope they have discovered Eskal's FreeNut Buttter. It is a brilliant substitute spread for peanut butter, made from ground sunflower seeds (make sure you are not allergic to sunflower seeds!). It is slightly sweeter than the regular stuff, but delicious just the same. Now that most schools aim to be nut-free, make sure you tell all your mummy friends. Readily available at Coles.

There is also a 'crunchy' version made from roasted pieces of honey (though this version is obviously not vegan). You can make 'peanut butter' cookies too - they are damn tasty.

I noticed recently that Trialia Foods have produced a satay substitute mix - BUT you can easily make your own. If you like to have a bit of extra sauce to spoon over when serving, reserve some marinade (before adding to the chicken please), and let it simmer and reduce a bit on the stove for 5 minutes before using.

These are so good, they almost made me cry!

Makes about 8-10 skewers

4 chicken thigh fillets, cut into even pieces
2 tbsp FreeNut Butter (smooth)
1 tbsp soy sauce (if you are soy-free, you could just add extra salt or stock powder)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp turmeric
pinch of salt

Mix well the FreeNut Butter, soy sauce, coconut milk, spices and salt - add chicken pieces and leave to marinate for at least an hour. Thread chicken pieces onto pre-soaked bamboo skewers and grill or bbq. Eat, then wish you had made double the quantity.

Replacing Dairy

Dairy is relatively easy to substitute, thanks to the ever-growing array of non-dairy products available. You don't even need to visit your specialty health food store, as many are available at your regular supermarket.

Replace same quantities in a recipe with any of the following milks:
Personally I like to stick to rice milk as it is much more palateable, although when baking, there is no discernible difference.

You can also replace liquid quantities with either fruit juice or water, but overall result might be a little on the bland side.

Most commercial margarines contain milk solids, so Nuttelex is by far the best non-dairy margarine available. It is also soy-free and the only non-dairy margarine I have come across with no preservatives. Tablelands make a dairy-free spread, and there is also an unsalted kosher margarine called Migdal made in the US and available here in some shops. Loaded with preservatives though, hence I steer clear. Would be lovely if Nuttelex made a salt-free version which would work perfectly in your 'buttercream' frostings.

Soy is pretty much the only non-dairy cheese substitute available. Please remember to check labels as some soy cheeses actually have casein in them (dairy protein). Kingland International make a block of soy cheese, Redwood's Cheezly is sometimes available at healthfood stores, but Tofutti is really the only brand readily available in Coles/Woolworths. They come in very convenient plastic-wrapped individual slices (both American-style cheddar and mozzarella for melting). Beware though that Tofutti generally (being American) is uber-processed so occasional use is ok - but I wouldn't go serving it on every sandwich if you can help it.

You can use Parmazano as a parmesan replacement to sprinkle on pasta - it is made predominantly from seasoned soy powder - you could feasibly make your own if you visited your local health food store and sourced the individual ingredients.

Cream Cheese
Soy - both Kingland and Tofutti produce this - good for any replacements, the consistency is identical to dairy cream cheese. (I have served smoked salmon, dill and cream cheese sandwiches before and no-one could tell the difference). Also good for cream cheese icing on carrot cakes but make sure you use a recipe that includes some shortening like butter or margarine (use Nuttelex obviously). Combining it with icing sugar  seems to highlight the high water content and goes very sloppy.

Sour Cream
Tofutti again - also a good substitute for yoghurt in cooking (rather than yoghurt for eating).

Kingland make a good fruit soy yoghurt in packs of four and individual larger tubs also. Available from Coles - there are some other soy yoghurts on the market but check ingredients always - some have traces of dairy or nuts.

Coconut cream can be used if your sweet recipe lends itself to a coconut taste.

Soyatoo make two versions of soy cream - one for whipping and one for cooking. If you don't mind the soy taste, it can make an ok substitute. I have seen some rice-based creams in shops like Sunnybrook but they stock it sporadically. It's called BioAvena, comes in UHT pack and is purely vegetable based (soy-free too). Works well in creamy pasta sauces.

Until it's readily available though, we tend to adjust our menu so it's not necessary.

Condensed Milk
I have attempted this once, when I was desperate to make a lemon slice. It took the better part of a morning to bubble away on the stove and reduce to the proper consistency, so be prepared to hang around. If you make a big batch, it might well be freezable - though I haven't tried it.

3 cups soy or rice milk
½ cup white sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Add the soy or rice milk and the sugar to a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until volume is reduced to 1 cup. Add a few drops of vanilla to taste, and a pinch of salt.  Cool before using.  May be stored in the refrigerator.

Replacing Eggs

Eggs perform different functions depending on what you're cooking. In baking, they are usually used for either leavening or binding purposes. You can't replicate a pavlova (that I know of), but you can, with a little egg replacer know-how, manage to adapt most recipes successfully. Try to stick to recipes that require substituting no more than 2 eggs - things just don't seem to work otherwise!

Allergy-conscious/vegan bakers can use any one of the following methods. All quantities specified equal 1 egg..

Commercial Egg Replacer (eg Orgran No-Egg)
This is a good allround egg replacer staple to keep in the pantry.  Good for biscuits, cookies, scones, light cakes, pastry and anything that requires a bit of binding (this includes savoury things such as meatballs and burgers though if you omit altogether the meat still keeps firm). It's made from a combination of tapioca and potato starch powders and is beaten together with water. Follow instructions on the packet but usually is 1 teaspoon of No-Egg with 2 tablespoons of water. Beat vigorously, you want it foamy.

Bananas/Apple Puree
1/4-1/2 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup apple puree (or pear)

Good binder/thickener for fruity cakes like carrot or banana, muffins and brownies - anything where the sweetness of the banana or apple won't affect the taste. Usually requires a little baking powder in the recipe or self-raising flour to aid the rising if this is required.

Silken Tofu
1/2 pack of silken tofu, whipped/beaten

Can be used for cakes (dense ones rather than light sponges) and brownies or uncooked in things like chocolate mousse and fluffy cake frostings. Though in the latter, sweeteners like honey, sugar or maple/golden syrup are essential to disguise the soy taste.

Many vegan bakers use this and it also happens to be a great source of fibre, essential omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Best to buy them whole and ground them yourself though the ground seeds should be stored in fridge or freezer. Good for baked goods where a bit of graininess doesn't detract from the taste eg. muffins, biscuits, cookies, breads or pancakes.

1 tbsp of ground flaxseeds and 1/4 cup water, whisked very well

DIY egg replacer
When you have none of the above in your kitchen and you're desperate, you can use the following:
1 teaspoon baking powder + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil + 2 tablespoons water mixed together = 1 egg

26 January 2010

Australia Day Lamingtons

dairy free egg free nut free vegan

To jam or not to jam?

Wikipedia tells me that the original lamington, served up to Queensland Premier Lord Lamington around 1900, was created by chef Armand Gallad who was called upon to supply some unexpected guests with a sweet treat. He had some French vanilla sponge lying around and got creative with what he had. There was no jam in the original version - so I committed to staying true to the history of this Aussie treasure (as well as possibly being very tired and not bothering with it all).

Sadly, Lord Lamington allegedly hated his namesake cake, calling them "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits". Silly old coot!

Lamingtons also gave me the opportunity to experiment with the elusive fluffy white sponge. This sponge recipe is from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World -  their golden vanilla cupcake recipe works quite nicely here. You could also use the vanilla version of my Perfect Chocolate Cake by omitting the cocoa powder and replacing with same amount of flour. They rise beautifully as a cupcake and would do same in a cake tin, but I find the taste and texture to not be as 'buttery' due to the absence of margarine.

Anyhoo, happy Straya Day!

Vanilla Sponge
240ml rice or soy milk
1 tbsp white or apple cider vinegar
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb soda
1/4 tsp salt
120g dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex)
150g sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups dessicated coconut

Chocolate Icing
2 cups sifted icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup rice or soy milk
1/4 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 180 C. Whisk milk and vinegar and set aside.

Sift flours and mix together. Cream margarine, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy. Add the milk and flours in alternate batches until combined well. Pour batter into greased and lined 20cm square cake pan for approx 25 mins (a lamington pan is too big for this mixture, and since it doesn't rise too much, the square will condense it nicely).

Turn out and cool on wire rack. Cut into squares (makes about 16).

To make the icing, mix icing sugar, cocoa powder, milk and then add boiling water and mix well until combined. Set aside another bowl for the coconut.

Dip cake pieces into chocolate by using two forks, then roll in coconut before setting aside on wire rack to set.

21 January 2010

Melting Moments with Passionfruit Icing

dairy free egg free nut free

Those of my vintage might still have this cookbook on their bookshelves. It was first published in 1966 and it was the official text for my home economics classes in high school. I will admit to guffawing at the recipes for devilled eggs, hawaiian steak, apricot chicken and something called dried vegetable soup (on closer inspection, is essentially just a split pea soup...geez, way to make it sound appetising!).

But bless its cotton socks, I now consult it regularly for the wonderful array of old-school sweets, cakes, slices and cookies so that I can take to them with my dairy/egg/nut free wand.

Cookery the Australian Way, I love you!

These melting moments are as short  and 'buttery' as they can be, without the butter. Yummy.

(Not sure where most of the passionfruit went as all I see is a lone passionfruit pip in the photo. Note to self: Must.not.eat.recipe.ingredients.before.using.them.)

Makes 24 (ie. 12 joined biscuits)

1/2 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup cornflour
125g dairy free margarine (Nuttelex)
2 tablespoons icing sugar

Preheat oven to 160 C.

Sift flour and cornflour, and cream margarine and sugar. Add flour and mix thoroughly. Place tablespoonfuls on tray, or pipe onto tray with a star pipe and bag.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden.

Cool on cake cooler and then join with passionfruit icing.

Passionfruit icing

1 cup icing sugar, sifted
4 tablespoons dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex)
4 tablespoons passionfruit pulp

Cream icing sugar and margarine until pale and fluffy then mix in passionfruit pulp.