‘This is a paid advertorial with Tesco’
February is a month of two halves for me. Coming off the back of January (which arguably hold the dullest days of the year) February feels like a welcome relief – even more so as we nudge our way towards Spring. After Valentines it’s like we’ve somehow hit our stride again and I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying these brighter, longer days. Cornwall (and Penzance in particular) is especially beautiful at this time of year, so our evening walks along the prom are back on the rota and our menu gets a slight tweaking too. Once that sun begins to make an appearance my mind turns eagerly towards lighter dishes that take very little time to prep … really, what I’m after is a simple ‘construct & go’ affair, which is where this spiralized squash spaghetti recipe with rocket pesto comes into play.
I might make my living as a cookbook author but sometimes there’s nothing nicer than letting someone else do all the hard work for you. Like most people I often turn to the internet for inspiration and Tesco’s ever expanding catalogue of plant based recipes is a super place to start. It’s so incredible to see the interest that vegan food is garnering at present and I am really heartened when a brand like Tesco not only embrace it but also endeavour to make plant based eating that little bit easier.
I’ll always be drawn to savoury dishes first but for those of you with a sweeter tooth than myself there’s everything from triple layered Birthday Cake to moreish Cinnamon & Pecan Pastries to satisfy those cravings … both of which look seriously tempting and, more importantly, seem an absolute cinch to make. Because I’m always pushed for time when it comes to dinner though (heck, who isn’t?) this nifty noodle recipe immediately grabbed my attention. I whipped it up in mere minutes and as it only uses six basic ingredients, it’s incredibly budget friendly too. It went down such a storm with my Husband, he requested I siphon off a little for his lunch the next day, which I promptly popped in a handy weck jar.
It’s funny how sometimes the simpler the meal, the better it’s received. When there’s less stress involved, you can spend more time chatting at the table rather than slaving over the stove – and if you think I’m exaggerating, I have been known to lavish several precious hours over a midweek evening meal, ahem. Because food is my life (and my work) having something tasty on the table in record time is a real treat. I’m pretty sure my Husband appreciates it too – he might not say it but I suspect he’d much rather I was conversing with him than fretting in the kitchen, so recipes like these quickly become go-to’s when I’d rather labour over the socialising than the actual cooking.
And whilst it might not exactly be picnic weather yet (close though, so close!), I’ve already earmarked this dish for taking to the beach or park. I’m getting into the habit of prepping dishes on a Sunday evening (well, trying to) and this is going to make for a delicious addition to my weekly repertoire. I reckon it would make for a wonderful topping to any buddha bowl – grain, greans, beans, you know the drill.
If you fancy giving it a go yourself then follow this link to the recipe page or for more ideas head over to the Real Food Vegan Hub. For this dish you will need a spiralizer, or at the very least, a vegetable peeler, which can be used to make ribbons. I opted for a fine spiral but if you’d like it more ‘spaghetti’ like I’d advise using the slightly larger attachment – both equally delicious, just a slightly different texture. If you can’t get your hands on already toasted hazelnuts then you can simply pop them in a pre-heated oven at 180c for 5-7 mins before transferring them to a clean tea towel. Rub vigorously until the skins are removed an et voila, perfect toasted hazelnuts for your pesto!
Coconut oil makes for a great base to homemade chocolates. The texture and flavour are perfect for that most decadent of treats – truffles. Tahini might seem like an odd addition too but trust me when I say, it emphatically works! To put an extra festive spin on proceedings I’ve added orange extract and zest, and loaded up on pistachios and dried fruit … my preference is cherries but you could easily use raisins or cranberries. Once rolled and dusted, they can be wrapped in parchment paper or placed in a cellophane bag, ready for unexpected guests to take home with them. When it comes to gifts, I always think the personal touch goes a long way in impressing – even if they happen to be ridiculously easy to make. Merry Christmas!
1 ½ tbsp. *vita coco coconut oil
150g dark chocolate (min. 70% cocoa solids)
3 tbsp. light tahini
1 tsp. orange extract
Zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp. agave
Pinch of sea salt
50h roughly chopped
50g dried cherries
2 heaped tbsp. raw cacao powder
50g pulverized pistachios
Place the coconut oil in a small saucepan and melt over a low heat.
Break the chocolate in small pieces and add to pan. Gently melt, using a spatula to incorporate the oil and chocolate.
Take the saucepan off the heat and add the tahini, orange extract, zest, agave and salt. Whisk vigorously to combine. Return to the heat for a few seconds to ensure the tahini is thoroughly incorporated and the mixture is silky smooth.
Fold in the dried cherries and chopped pistachios before transferring to a small lined loaf tin. Refrigerate for at least 6hrs until solid.
Pulverise the remaining pistachios until they resemble a fine dust. Transfer to a shallow dish, ready for rolling. Place the cacao in a separate bowl.
Once solid, remove the chocolate slab from the fridge and let it soften for 5mins before scooping out approx. ½ tbsp. worth of chocolate – a melon baller is handy. Tip the ball into the cacao to lightly coat before rolling into a smooth ball. Transfer the truffle to the pistachio dish and gently roll to coat, gently pushing the truffle into the nuts for maximum coverage.
Repeat until all the chocolate mixture is used – you should get about 20 balls from each batch.
Refrigerate until needed.
Alternatively, line a muffin tin with baking parchment and divide the mixture between each mould. Refrigerate for at least 6hrs before using the baking parchment to carefully remove the chocolates from the tin – this will render 12 large discs. Similarly, refrigerate until needed.
*this is a sponsored post but all views etc. are authentically mine – enjoy!
I’m typing and watching a video simultaneously here. Not the most effective way of writing a blog post but in my defense I’m still trying to arm myself with all the ‘facts’ before this dreaded referendum on Thursday. It probably goes without saying that I’m worried. As in, terrifed. More specifically; ‘quaking in ma boots’, can’t sleep, feel sick/sad and generally despairing at the world. Ya get me? Y’see, I emphatically, desperately (like a toddler clinging to its Mother’s legs) want to remain in Europe but (and truthfully, I’m loathed to even think it) that reality is increasingly looking pretty darn dicey … if any of the endless ‘leave’ comments on the internet are anything to go by anyway. I have to concede I’m surprised at how effective Boris and his cronies have been during this campaign … throughout one particular televised debate I even found myself being semi-convinced by the 350 million a week argument – or maybe it was just a case of ‘if someone says it often enough and loud enough’ you begin to believe it. Know what I mean? And even though I hate getting political (especially on a food blog of all places) this matter is close to my heart – and given that I’m a ‘heart on sleeve’ kinda gal, I honestly couldn’t let this whole debacle drift by without directly addressing it. So here goes.
Guys, we are on the brink on something massive here – and it potentially ain’t good. I’ve listened to the experts (from both sides!) and it’s abundantly clear to me that we are better off ‘in’ the EU. Apart from all the single-market shenanigans (which is more or less over my head) and immigration complications (as if it isn’t complicated enough already) I personally (and perhaps rather selfishly) like being a part of Europe … particularly (especially) as an Northern Irish person living in England. In my opinion, it’s a singularly beautiful unifying identity we all have in common … my Husband is English, I am Irish, but together we are European. I know, totes silly, but that’s how I feel.
And look. I know we’re all concerned about the NHS – Lord knows my family has seen the best and worst of it these last two years but if we think we’re going to protect it by voting ‘leave’ then we are seriously deluded. We are also beyond bonkers if we think Boris and his pals have our best interests at heart and wouldn’t jump at the first chance to privatise our beloved healthcare system. Closer to home (well, my first ‘home’ that is), little old Northern Ireland is going to feel the full force of this EU exit if it in fact comes about. Want to return to the days of borders and checkpoints? Well, your wish could very well be BREXIT’s command. Yup, that’s right. My family will have to go through a whole customs and exiles rigmarole just to get a pint of (dairy-free) milk from Muff – and lets not even think about how much it could potentially destabilise the peace agreement. These are the things that quite literally keep me up at night.
Oh man, this has gotten way serious all of a sudden and I almost feel like I should delete all of the above and keep my mouth firmly shut. But I won’t. I’ll simply leave you with this. No-one knows what will happen if we leave the EU but as with most splits it will likely be full of heartache, bitterness and more. The path will not be smooth and the end result may not be what we had anticipated … there’s no rainbow at the end of this road and there’s no bringing back a post-war Britain full of hope and glory. Impending doom doesn’t feel too far off at this stage and I’m almost resigned to the fact that come Friday morning, I will be clinging to my Irish passport (perks of being born in Norn Iron) reciting the words ‘I’m still a European, I’m still a European … ‘ whilst simultaneously clicking my imaginary sparkly shoe-clad heels. By then the madness will undoubtedly have officially infiltrated the UK at large, leaving half the population in utter despair and wondering where on earth we go from here. Pessimist much? Okay, suffice to say, I am firmly in the remain camp – and not just ’cause I like having the option to roam about Europe at will but because I truly believe we are better/stronger as one European nation and have more to offer unified than apart. Like all slightly dysfunctional families, we might gripe at one another and not always see eye to eye but at the end of the day we’ve got each others backs. Let’s not needlessly throw that away. M’kay? Love you all. Peace out.
What have sushi rolls go to do with this? Absolutely nothing. But they taste flipping delicious and require no sushi rice – just making your maki-roll life that wee bit easier.
what you’ll need
4 nori sheets
1 small head cauliflower
1 spring onion
1 thumbsize piece of ginger
1/2 green chilli
few sprigs of dill
1 large pre-cooked beetroot
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 handfuls spinach
salt and pepper
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
for the quick pickle
1/2 red cabbage
1 large carrot
2 tbsp cider vinegar
juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 tbsp agave
few sprigs of dill
for the dip
2 tbsp dairyfree mayo
1 tsp chipotle paste
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 heaped tsp salt
what you’ll do
for the quick pickle, roughly chop the veg and place in a bowl. whisk the cider vinegar, agave, lemon juice and salt together and pour over the chopped veg, stir to combine. finely chop the dill, stir through to coat and set aside to pickle.
place the cauliflower, spring onion, ginger, chilli, dill and a pinch of salt in a food processor. pulse until is looks like rice. set aside.
heat the sesame oil in a skillet and quickly wilt the spinach. season and set aside to cool. squeeze out any excess liquid and roughly mince.
slice the beetroot length-ways.
place the nori sheet on a rolling mat, shiny side down and lightly brush with a little sweet chilli sauce. layer on another nori sheet. spoon over half the cauliflower mix, leaving a section at the top of the wrap for sealing purposes.
near the rolling end, evenly distribute the spinach before layering on the beetroot. season and sprinkle over some chilli flakes.
using the mat tightly roll the sushi wrap away from, squeezing the roll as you go. wet the end section with a little water, seal and set aside with the join underneath.
fill a jug with water and wet a large knife. carefully slice the end piece off the sushi roll and then cut into even maki rolls – be sure to wet/clean the knife between each.
repeat the process using the remaining two nori sheets and plate up.
whisk the mayo, chipotle paste and lemon juice together. serve alongside the sushi and pickle.
What should I share this week folks? Well, I’m just back from Ireland where I spent the last fortnight with my family and quite unbelievably I seemed to hit Derry at just the right time – hello heatwave! So yeah. Two weeks hanging with my Mum and Dad, helping out wherever I can (that invariably means being designated cook) and generally lending a bit of support … Dad had a bit of a dip a few weeks back but has thankfully rallied again. I can’t deny this is an emotional, stressful, overwhelming time for us all and I’d feel weird acting as if everything is totally normal on the blog so I thought it best to be upfront and honest about the whole thing. Anyway, our family isn’t one to wallow in our sorrows and I can assure you there’s still plenty of laughs to be had … my Dad still cracks us up from time to time – joking about things that are essentially grim is seemingly his forte. I think it’s the only way he/we can deal with this horrible hand we’ve been dealt. Generally speaking, us Irish do tend to use humour to counteract difficult situations – the troubles being just one example. It’s probably another reason why Freud deemed us ‘one race for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever’ … not that I entirely agree with that sentiment, as I’m a habitual over-sharer and don’t mind going in for some deep and meaningful’s myself. Nevertheless, therapy is still far from the norm in Northern Ireland so banter acts as a good daily antidote to daily strifes.
My current way of clearing my head, however, is to declutter. And then declutter some more. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a ‘maximalist minimalist’ mainly because I’m forever drawn to colour and from what little I know about this lifestyle it’s all about the neutrals. My home and wardrobe are feeling ever more pared back though, and it’s actually quite liberating – so much so, it’s infiltrated how we approach things (life) in general in a big way. Whilst I still love great design, it more about function for me now … decorative items just hold no sway with me anymore and the same goes for my closet, which could almost be classified as a ‘capsule’ collection at this point. Pretty much everything can be mixed and matched bar one or two items that are a bit more unique. I can’t see us going back to our old ways at this stage.
Travelling has also become something we want to explore again, which is how our ‘month in Berlin’ idea came about. So we’re upping sticks this summer and moving to this awesome German city for what we’re calling a ‘working holiday’ – I honestly cannot wait to eat my weight in awesome vegan food and immerse myself in oodles of culture. I’ll definitely be uploading blog posts to accompany our stay and give you the lowdown on what has become something of a European vegan mecca.
Even though we’ll be eating out a lot when we’re there I also want to do plenty of cooking – we always opt for self-catering. Recipes like this rawnola are going to be super handy for breakfasts and snacks because they’re quick to make and satisfy those sweet cravings. The Cornish Sea Salt ‘cinnamon salt’ addition is an absolute must in my opinion but if you can’t get your hands on it simply add a pinch of good quality sea salt (or pink himalayan salt) and a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. There’s something about sweet and salty that just really hits the spot for me. I’ve never been one for indulging in confectionary but give me a bowl of granola and fruit and I’m one happy lady. If you’re anything like me and classify breakfast as the happiest meal of the day then this is going to be a little lifesaver – you can mix up the ingredients to suit too … not got almonds? Use brazil nuts or cashews instead. You could also swap the oats for buckwheat flakes – it’s entirely up to you. Simply use this ‘recipe’ (such as it is) to create your own perfect rawnola. Enjoy!
what you’ll need
1 cup regular oats
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup whole almonds
4 x medjool dates
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 tsp cinnamon salt
what you’ll do
place the oats, coconut and almonds in food processor and pulse to break apart.
add the stoned dates, raisins and cinnamon and pulse until it forms a sticky rubble – be sure not to overwork the mixture.
refrigerate for an hour to firm or serve immediately.
place a handful of rawnola in a bowl, add sliced apple and pour over you favourite plant milk. finish with a little more coconut and cinnamon salt.
I almost didn’t post this recipe … not because it’s not delicious but because I often play around in the kitchen with similarly yummy results but for whatever many and varied reasons never get around to blogging about it. However, with that ‘New Year, New Me’ mantra still swirling around my head I’m determined to change that pattern, and even though (again) I’m not entirely happy with the images, they’re passable enough to warrant a post. I definitely deserve the ‘over-thinkers achievement award’, don’t you agree?
Brasil nuts are a new fav of mine when it comes to raw (or almost raw) desserts, particularly (especially!) for the base. The texture is almost sponge-like when ground and their wonderfully mild flavour ensures the chocolate ganache remains the star of the show – sprinkled with a little cinnamon, it is sure to blow yer socks off. In fact, I’ve been making a conscious effort to buy less and less processed food (yes, even us vegans fall into the convenience trap) and this is where raw desserts really come into their own. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than a bliss ball or raw slice – it satiates that nagging sweet tooth and gnawing pre-dinner hunger in one fell swoop, with the added bonus that your blood sugar levels don’t sky rocket meaning you’re less likely to falter before your evening meal. Our usual routine usually involves a cup of tea with a slice of something at around 6pm because we don’t eat until 9pm, which I know sounds crazy to some people but it’s just normality to us – basically, we are night owls and we eek out every second of our evenings together.
I say this is ‘almost raw’ because I’ve added a heaped tablespoon of coconut milk/water (the canned variety) but if you want to skip that part and swap out the agave addition for something else then feel free – any kind of vegan syrup would also work but I do like the lift it gives the ganache in addition to the palm sugar. Just my preference but you may want to ‘rawify’ it a little further – totally up to you.
My urge to purge the last few ‘processed’ items currently in my cupboards and fridge has arisen again after taking a bit of hiatus. Like most people, this miserable Winter weather had me reaching for comfort foods like cookies and whatnot but with Spring (almost) in the air, my body is already telling me to ditch the oreos and replace them with something a little less toxic. Don’t get me wrong, when Ben & Jerry’s finally release their dairy ice-creams I’ll be the first in line to sample the delights but until then I’ll be dining out on slightly healthier desserts like this. I hope you’ll join me too!
what you’ll need
for the crust
1 cup brazil nuts
3 medjool dates
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
pinch of pink himalayan salt
for the topping
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 heaped tbsp coconut palm sugar
1 heaped tbsp raw cacao
1 tbsp coconut cream
1 tbsp coconut water
1 tbsp agave or other vegan sweetener
generous pinch of cinnamon salt (available from the Cornish Sea Salt Co.)
or a pinch of regular sea salt mixed with grated or ground cinnamon
what you’ll do
place the brazil nuts in the blender and blitz to a fine meal. stone the dates and add to the processor along with the coconut oil and pink himalayan salt. blitz until it form a fine rubble before transferring to a lined tin. press firmly with the back of a spoon or spatula and refrigerate for at least an hour.
melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan and add the palm sugar. allow it to slowly dissolve before adding the cacao. whisk vigorously until combined … don’t worry if it still looks a bit grainy at this stage. add the coconut cream, coconut water, agave and salt, and whisk again until smooth – you can do this over a very low heat to loosen the mixture.
pour over the brazil nut crust and spread out using a spatula. garnish with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon salt.
refrigerate for several hours (or ideally overnight) until set. slice and serve … this dessert is quite rich so a small serving will suffice.
I am going good guns with this YouTube melarkey, I tell ya. I set myself the task of uploading one a week and so far that’s what I’ve done (click here for the video) … although I won’t deny I’ve had a wee bit of help in the process, ahem. This week I opted for a sweetened cashew cream recipe served with hot griddled oranges – simple but so delicious. You’ll also notice I’ve donned a 70s lurex vest (hey, lurex is ‘in’ again … apparently!) and cut my fringe myself (er, maybe I got a bit scissor happy) … shall we say, double fail? Anywho, something that didn’t fail me was my blender. Since ‘The Boss’ came into my life my cashew creams have never been better; silky smooth, whipped to perfection and scarily akin to the real thing. Yup. Totally obsessed.
Truthfully, I don’t have many go-to appliances in my kitchen (I’m pretty hard to please) but I honestly couldn’t live without a blender – I’m sure most seasoned vegans would agree it’s a crucial piece of kit. Personally, I’ve been through a number of ’em (and definitely put them through their paces in the process) so I like to think I know what separates the good from the great – and ‘The Boss’ is without a doubt ‘great’. Not only does it have a setting for ‘green smoothies’ (I know!) but it also (and crucially, for me) makes mincemeat of nuts … and that’s exactly why it’s ideal for this recipe.
Because I like to add as little liquid as possible when making creams and cheeses, it’s been quite tricky in the past for me to get the desired consistency without relenting and adding that extra bit of water or juice. You’ll see here that I recommend adding 75ml maximum to the cashews but in reality I didn’t even use the full amount (more like 50ml) and it still rendered it utterly flawless – in a nutshell, my nutbased creams have been revolutionised. Enough blathering though and onto the recipe – the weekend beckons:
what you’ll need
200g soaked cashews
75ml filtered water
2 tbsp agave (or maple syrup)
pinch of salt
1 tbsp orange juice
1/2 tsp orange extract
2 x oranges
finely grated dark chocolate
what you’ll do
Soak the cashews overnight in filtered water. Drain, rinse and add to your blender along with 50ml water, 1 tbsp agave and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally and adding a touch more water if necessary. It will go through several stages so persevere until you achieve the desired silky smooth consistency.
Once smooth add the orange juice, remaining agave and orange extract and blitz to combine. Transfer to a bowl and chill for at least an hour.
Heat a griddle pan on a medium/high heat. Slice the skin off the oranges and cut into thickish rounds (otherwise they will disintegrate on the pan) and place on the pre-heated griddle pan. Sear the orange slices for a minute or so on each side before transferring to a large platter or dish.
Spoon the chilled cashew cream in tothe centre and finish with a little grated chocolate and/or orange zest.
Summer has officially hit Cornwall and I’m about to vacate the county for Ireland. Typical. Not that I don’t love a jaunt ‘home’ but the temperature there never quite reaches the heights it does here and I always feel a slight chill even on the balmiest of days – who am I kidding, Ireland doesn’t do ‘balmy’. Of course, it’ll be great to see the folks, spend time with my Dad who has just finished his third round of chemo, and celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary … quite a milestone by anyone’s standards! Being the creature of habit that I am though, I always find it difficult settling into a new routine – that adjustment period shows me what a home bird I really am. I crave structure and being a writer means I can construct my own timetable – a luxury that is thankfully not lost on me. There’s nothing I love more than splitting my day into palatable little sections … most of which revolve around tea/snack/lunch/coffee breaks – in a way it’s bliss. Unless I’m working to a tight deadline.
Now that the book is ‘done’ (I’ve put it in inverted commas because I don’t think a book is ever really done but at some point you have to move on … plus there’s always bits and bobs that need tweaking) I now find myself in a weird limbo scenario and so my inclination is to return my attention to ‘Keep it Vegan’. To that end I’ll be doing a few little promo things here and there (another IrelandAM appearance is on the cards for the 7th July), as well as continuing to promote my more summery recipes – perfect for the coming months! Keep an eye on my twitter and instagram accounts for details.
And then there’s this blog. The place and vehicle that started this whole ball rolling. I already am feeling a lot more connected to this space than I have done in a long time … so much so, I’ve even dusted off the DSLR in a bid to regain my confidence behind the camera. Slowly does it though because it really would seem that I’ve forgotten how to use the damn thing – settings, schmettings.
Today was a salad day (nothing special but still… ) and so I thought it would be good practice to shoot something that didn’t have any time constraints or pressures. The focus still ain’t perfect but I think I’ve been able to achieve a slightly nicer quality to these shots than I have done in a very long while. Like I said, they’re a long way from being perfect but I won’t go down without a fight. And now for the recipe … creamy avocado, tart blackberries and not forgetting that gingery dill dressing, it really is a wonderfully simple seasonal salad with a difference.
what you’ll need
large handful of mixed lettuce leaves
1/4 yellow pepper, finely sliced
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
for the dressing
1 heaped tbsp dijon
1 garlic clove, grated
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, grated
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp hazelnut oil or evoo
1/2 tbsp agave
juice x 2 clementines
pinch of salt and pepper
15g freshly chopped dill
what you’ll do
Arrange the salad leaves in a shallow bowl. Scatter the sliced pepper around over the leaves, sprinkle over the spring onion and dot the blackberries about the bowl.
Separate the sliced avocado into a fan shape and place in the centre of the bowl.
Place all the dressing ingredients (apart from the dill) into a bowl and whisk vigorously until it emulsifies. Add the chopped dill and whisk to combine. Spoon generously over the salad, paying particular attention to the avocado.
Finish with a final scattering of roughly chopped dill. Serve.
Work is now well underway with the new book, which means I’m up to my ears and elbows in ingredients whilst I recipe test this and that. Some recipes are ones I stored (not literally) from the last book (we just couldn’t fit everything in) but most are brand spanking new, and everyday there seems to be more – aaarrgghh! The hard task is deciding what ones to use so I’ll be filtering a few out from time to time here on the blog.
This raw tart is one such recipe. I absolutely loved it (and so did my Hubby) so I wanted to share it now rather than wait. Now, I know I was ranting on about stews and casseroles not so long along but I feel Christmas is far enough behind us that we can properly contemplate Spring and get our systems officially prepped and ready.
Raw food is a bit of a passion of mine and as the months become warmer I try to include more dishes like this in my diet. It’s not so much a cleanse but I can’t deny eating this way makes me feel kinda amazing and maybe a wee bit smug… although I know 100% raw is out of the question for me – I just love my stove/oven too much. In saying that,when summer hits I’ll be back to eating my two raw meals a day and one cooked (usually in the evening – I’m a sucker for a summer bbq), which I’ve discovered is a good balance for me.
This triple layered tart (pie, slice, whatever you want to call it) is a great combination of tangy, herby and subtly sweet – that’ll be the carrots for ya – and makes for an impressive little starter or lunch option. The trick here (and with all raw food really) is selecting/using the correct equipment – that is, knowing when to utilise the blender, food processor or, as is often the case with me, my trusty Delia mini chopper. That thing never fails me.
I sometimes get messages regarding raw cheesecakes or cashew cheeses saying the texture wasn’t quite as smooth as they had hoped, and usually this can be directly attributed to what equipment was used. That is, for crusts and cheeses, I will always use a processor or mini chopper (depending on the quantities) and for creams I rely on my blender. Now, this doesn’t have to be a fancy high-speed blender but I can’t deny my Froothie does help in getting those creams and cheesecakes especially smooth.
For the pesto part, it can go either way but my preference here is to go down the mini chopper route because you’ll want to retain a little coarseness to aid the overall texture – crucial with raw food, in my humble opinion. You might need to scrape down the sides a few times with a spatula but that’s no great hardship in the grand scheme of things.
You could achieve a firmer consistency overall by popping each layer into the freezer in between but seeing as I currently don’t possess one (although hopefully that will soon be rectified) I made do with the fridge and it turned out pretty great. To ensure the layers don’t bleed into one another, do make sure each one is fairly well set (it will never be solid) before adding the next – the coconut oil addition definitely helps.
I love serving tarts like this on a rustic wooden board in the centre of the table and let everyone help themselves. The vibrant colours go a long way to dispelling those longheld myths that raw food is all ‘rabbit food and deprivation’ and gives it more of an inclusive, accessible feel – not some holier than thou cuisine that serves to alienate half your guests. Not my style. I’m all about winning people over through delicious, wholesome, attractive food… and, thankfully, I’ve not had any complaints yet.
So, what are you waiting for? Your raw food future is just a slice away – you might be surprised how good it actually tastes.
what you’ll need
for the crust
2 small carrots
1 tbsp mixed seeds
1 heaped tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
salt & pepper
finely grate the carrots and squeeze out any excess juice into a bowl – reserve this juice for the sauce.
place everything into a processor or mini chopper and blitz until it forms a fine rubble. taste for seasoning and add a little more salt & pepper if necessary.
line a small tray or loaf tin with baking parchment and press the crust evenly into the bottom.
freeze or refrigerate for half an hour.
for the cream
130g soaked cashews
juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
salt & pepper
place everything into a blender and blitz until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as you go.
check for seasoning and then pour over the carrot crust, reserving one heaped tablespoon for the carrot sauce. Smooth out with a spatula.
freeze or refrigerate for around an hour.
for the pesto
30g basil Leaves
2 tbsp mixed nuts (walnuts and pecans work best)
juice ½ lemon
1 small garlic clove
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp flaxseed oil
salt and pepper
place the pesto ingredients into a small food processor or chopper and blend until coarse but spreadable. taste for seasoning and add a touch more salt and pepper if necessary.
refrigerate for 20 minutes.
for the carrot serving sauce
reserved carrot juice
1 tbsp cashew cream
1/2 medjool date
place the reserved carrot juice into a blender, add the cashew cream and date and blitz until completely smooth.
assembling the tart
carefully lift the tart out of the tin and ease it onto a serving board. spoon over the pesto and carefully spread out using a spatula.
drizzle over the carrot sauce and adorn with crushed hazelnuts
et voila, your raw vegan tart is served!
I can’t quite believe we’re a fortnight into September – where exactly did the summer go? Truthfully though I adore this time of year in Cornwall, as the tourist season is dying down and the county returns to its usual quiet self. There’s still a little buzz in the air, which makes evenings out in St.Ives or long walks on the beach all the more pleasurable… and lucky for us the weather is still delightful. It’s almost as if we get a sneaky extra bit of summer just before autumn properly hits – it’s nearly pumpkin time folks!!
I have so many recipe ideas whirring about my head at the moment but even still my blogging has taken something of an unexpected backseat – book launches and the all the excitement that surrounds them will do that. Of course, there’s another reason I can’t quite get myself into proper blogging mode again although my Dad’s illness really shouldn’t be used as an excuse for my lack of productivity of late but it’s certainly a factor.
Progress has been made and there is always light at the end of the tunnel but the realisation that things will never be the same again is a hard pill to swallow. At times it’s difficult not to dwell so instead I’m trying to counteract any negative thoughts with pro-active recipe making in the form of healthy, raw treats that will satiate the sweet tooth my darling Pa possesses without feeding that nasty tumour. I’ve never worked with macadamias much but had heard of their pie perfect demeanour, once soaked and blended until smooth. Plus, I was positively bursting to try out my new froothie and it definitely didn’t disappoint … also, I may have fallen in love with the curved spatula that accompanies it, which is the perfect tool to scoop out any food stuffs that may get trapped under the blades.
I’ve called it ‘make-do’ macadamia cream pie because I had to ‘make-do’ with just one cups worth of nuts, so I will say up-front that it could have, maybe, possibly have benefited from two, however, it’s certainly wasn’t a deal clincher. What surprised me most was the fluffy cloud-like texture of the blended nuts, which was really very different to the cashew cream I am used to … my Husband was also loving its light and fluffy credentials and practically ate the pie single handedly – er, I think we have a macadamia convert on our hands.
Now, on instagram I described this pie as ‘perfectly lovely’ and pondered as to whether every recipe had to be mind-blowingly, life-changingly awesome. Well, does it? I don’t know about you but I think I’m fine with some recipes merely being ‘perfectly lovely’ – even if the interweb would have you believe otherwise. Maybe then this recipe is a reflection of my current state of mind, which is all about embracing things (life, food, all the important stuff) for what they are and not what they could be … just like a ‘perfectly lovely’ pie.
for the macadamia cream filling
1 cup soaked macadamias
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut water
juice 1 lime
1/4 cup agave syrup
for the hazelnut crust
1 cup hazelnuts (plus 1/4 cup more for the topping)
3/4 medjool dates
for the blueberry compote
1 cup blueberries
juice 1/2 lime
2 tbsp maple syrup
what you’ll do
start with the compote by blending the blueberries, lime juice and maple syrup until smooth. press through a fine mesh sieve and refrigerate until needed.
make the crust by blitzing together the hazelnuts and dates (remember to remove the stones!) until it comes together in a dense rubble. transfer to a pie dish and press firmly until the surface area of the dish is evenly covered.
blend the soaked macadamias (overnight in filtered water) along with the coconut oil, coconut water, agave and lime juice until smooth – scraping down the sides periodically and adding a little more coconut water if necessary. once it is completely smooth and creamy, swirl through about 1 tbsp of the blueberry compote before smoothing out over the crust using the back of a spoon. refrigerate for at least an hour before serving although overnight is best.
crush the remaining hazelnuts and sprinkle over the top before serving. the remaining compote can also be served on the side.