Asparagus and Artichoke Pies

So we all know it’s summer (or is it?). That means I’ve been going a bit crazy over the cheap produce and buying way too many veges for one person to eat. So I’ve been improvising dishes and using up my ingredients to stop anything from going to waste. One of those dishes were these little pies. My vegan creations are usually ones that only my Insinkerator would love but I’ve had a good run the last couple times and made some super easy, delicious and nutritious treats which I though were worth sharing!

This recipe makes 6 baby pies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch asparagus finely chopped
  • 1/2 block firm tofu mashed
  • Approx 200g artichoke hearts chopped (I like the ones from New World deli)
  • 5 Tbs Soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • vegan puff pastry
  • Olivani for greasing ramekins

Method:

preheat your oven at 180°C

Place the asparagus, tofu and artichoke hearts in a mixing bowl. Add the soy sauce and mix to combine all the ingredients. Taste the filling and add a little salt and pepper to your liking.

Grease 6 ramekins (or  a muffin tray should do the job) and carefully lace with puff pastry sheet, cutting off the excess from the top.

Fill ramekins with pie filling, distributing it evenly between the 6 pies.

Lay some more puff pastry on top to cover the pies, once again cutting off the excess and poke some wee holes on the top so the air can escape.

Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the pastry starts to golden.

Enjoy🙂

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Adulis Restaurant – Review

I’m finally reviewing one of my favourite restaurants, Adulis on Tory St. If you have never tried Ethiopian food, Adulis is an excellent opportunity to do so. Injera is a traditional Ethiopian bread, served at Adulis, and it is unlike anything you will have had before. The flavour is savoury and reminiscent of sourdough, but the texture is like a pancake crossed with the softer part of a crumpet. It is eaten with curries.

Adulis currently has a 2 for 1 deal on Mondays for vegan dishes at dinner. The vegan meals range from $12 – $19 at full-price.

The vegan platter is the main to try if you want a bit of everything. It consists of the injera bread with four curries (pictured on right of below image).

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My favourite curry from Adulis is the Aterkik Alicha. It’s a mild, creamy curry made from yellow split peas with ginger and turmeric. It’s affordably priced, at $15 for a generous serving. And for half of that with 2 for 1 on Monday, it’s an amazing dinner for students.

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They also have a selection of milder vegan dishes, for example, the Gomen, which is leafy greens and onions simmered with garlic and ginger, and served with injera. I like this one because it is extremely tasty, but I also know I’m getting a good serving of greens. The Defen Meser is another mild vegan main, which is a tasty brown lentil curry.

For those who like their curries hot, try the Shiro. This dish is a red curry made from chickpea flour, in berbere which is East African chilli paste.

The spicy tea at Adulis is worth raving over – it’s made from a handful of spices, and is easily one of the best hot beverages I’ve had.

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Angel Food Cheese Sauce Mix – Review

Thorndon New World is way ahead of the times – they have a selection of Sheese (a vegan cheese brand, not my favourite but the smoked cheese is pretty good and strong), in the cheese section, a selection of Tofurky, and recently, products from the Angel Foods range. The desserts at New World Thorndon are also pretty good, alpro pudding for under $6, mango sorbet for $5, and coconut yoghurt.

The “CHEESEY SAUCE MIX” is just short of $12, and it makes up to 12 cups of sauce. So it’s not super cheap for a student, but it goes a long way; the sauce is strong so 1 cup makes two bowls of mac and cheese-y. It’s mixed with a non-dairy milk.

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Either way, I’m really happy to be seeing more of this stuff in the supermarkets. Like many people, I was shaken and depressed after the recent exposé of abuse in the dairy industry in NZ. It kills me to know that so many animals suffer and die needlessly. Products like these make me feel a little bit hopeful, that one day the choices which are compassionate will be widespread and convenient.

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New World Thorndon also sells nutritional yeast (called savoury yeast) for around $3.86 per 100g. This is also a good ingredient to make cheesy foods.

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The next post will be a review of Adulis, an Ethiopian restaurant on Tory St, who have an extensive vegan menu and a 2 for 1 vegan mains deal on Mondays!

 

Mapo style tofu

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Mapo tofu is excellent. This recipe is a quick, delicious way to use the soft tofu which is available cheaply from the saturday and sunday veggie markets. When I make this dish, I have it with steamed or fried garlic eggplant. This recipe is full of flavour, and is absolutely student-friendly. Most of the ingredients can be bought from the market.

Serves 3

Mapo Tofu
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 cloves garlic
1 – 2 chillies
1/4 tsp sichuan pepper (optional, found at asian supermarkets)
1/2 tsp ginger
1 cup water + 2 tsp chicken stock (Massel brand is vegan)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon black bean sauce
2 tablespoon soy sauce
Bunch of spring onions, chopped (from market)

Extras
Rice + water
Eggplant + garlic + oil (optional)

To make the mapo tofu:
Put rice in cooker. Finely mince the garlic, chillies, sichuan pepper and ginger, then fry in oil.

Dissolve the cornstarch in a bit of water in a measuring jug. then fill to 1 cup, and add chicken stock, soy sauce and black bean sauce. Pour into large frying pan, add tofu, and heat gently for about 10 minutes, stirring gently. Add spring onions and cook for a few more minutes, until the sauce becomes thick.

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You can serve this with steamed or fried eggplant. I prefer fried in oil with garlic, but steaming is a no-fuss option.
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Pictured above: fried garlic eggplant

Vermicilli Dinner

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Vermicilli is fantastic for students. You can get a bag of it at the supermarket for close to $1, and it doesn’t have the horrible, gluggy taste that thick room temperature-packaged noodles do. They are usually made from rice or a type of sprout. Plus, they are extremely fast to make.

Serves 4

1 bag vermicilli
2 of small pkg deep fried tofu (from market)
Small bag mushrooms
Spring onions
Bag bean sprouts
Carrots

Soy sauce (to taste)
Black bean sauce (to taste)
Garlic salt, or garlic (to taste)
Ginger

Chop the veggies. Boil the carrots for a few minutes, until still solid but not too solid, and drain. Soak the vermicilli for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, take a pot and fill it shallowly with water. Add soy sauce to the water until it is salty (like broth). Add the deep fried tofu to it and boil gently (it’s just imparting a flavour on the tofu).

Fry the mushrooms in a bit of oil, and add carrots, spring onion, bean sprouts, garlic (if fresh), and ginger. Strain vermicilli and stir in the frying pan (or wok), adding soy sauce and black bean sauce (and garlic salt if using), to taste. Transfer food from frying pan/wok onto 4 plates, and take the tofu out with a hole-y spoon. Serve hot/warm.

Approximate cost of meal (veggies + tofu bought from fruit + veg market on Sunday, on Willis St):

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Vegan Supermarket Spaghetti

I often wonder if part of the reason people think vegan food is so disgusting and bland is that our country has such high milk production that food manufacturers chuck dairy in everything. Salt and vinegar chips, better add some milk powder. Coconut cream powder, why not add casein? It can get disappointing.

I remember moving into my first flat ever in Dunedin as a recently-gone-vegan student, and the sadness in my first flat shop as I discovered the student staple, spaghetti, contained cheese powder, with the exception of only the cheapest (and most inedible) spaghetti brands. So now I am sharing my discovery of some decent canned Italian spag, suitable for all the vegan students out there!

The “la ROMANELLA” spaghetti was my favourite of the two, and they sell it at Countdown.

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Vegan Lemon Meringue Pie

Aquafaba meringues are wonderful. Not wonderful like the carrot dog or potato carrot cheese vegan craze (both of which I am not a fan of). Wonderful, like an almost identical version of a meringue, but vegan, and more hygroscopic. I will be adopting a few ex-farm hens in a couple of months, but I doubt I will start making my meringues from hens eggs, because I have just accumulated too many vegan baking skills, and my desserts can parallel or even beat non-vegan ones.

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I made lemon meringue pie after my first exam (it’s that time of year again😥 ), and it was a ray of sunshine. This is not a recipe I’ve made from scratch, but is a mash together of the Lemon Bars recipe from Veganomicon, and the meringue cookies from Vegan Street (minus the chocolate), which is based on the meringue invented by a French guy named Goose. The lemon bars are amazing and have the most wonderful flavour and texture. I use agar powder from Moore Wilsons, and substitute 1 tsp of powder = 1 Tbs of flakes (meaning 3 tsp is used in this recipe). And Delmaine brand chick peas produce the best chickpea water from experience (also, Delmaine chickpeas are the softest, bestest chickpeas around, and are cheap, too).

I learned the hard way that baking the meringue directly onto the pies is a bad idea; cooking is much slower. By baking the pies and then baking the meringue separately, but as to fit onto the pie, you get a much better result.

How to make:
Make and bake the pie crust as specified in No Meat Athlete website (except I molded into mini pies because they were cute). Turn oven to 90 degrees Celcius (which is 200 Farenheit, but we’re in NZ). When the crust is cooling, make the filling.

After you’ve poured the lemon filling, you can then make the meringue. This is the fun part, because the meringues become soooo fluffy and produce stiff white peaks, just like an egg-based meringue. These should be piped onto a baking tray with baking paper, and cooked for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or when the bottom of the meringue comes off the paper cleanly. once this is done, place the meringues onto the lemon bars, and allow to cool for another hour or so. Enjoy!