Sunday, June 21, 2009

Vegan chocolate cream tart

By Tracy

Today seems to be vegan cooking day. Every day (for us) is vegan cooking day -- but this one more than usual.

You need:

Vegan shortcrust pastry base* -- prebake at approx 180 deg C until golden, pricking with fork and flattening as needed if it puffs up or bubbles (takes about 10 min). Let it cool.

When the base is cool, make up the following to pour into it and chill:

5 dessertspoons cornflour (sifted!)
5-6 dessertspoons sugar
3-4 dessertspoons cocoa (sifted!)
2.5 cups soy milk

You proceed as if making custard -- that is, take two small-to-medium saucepans, and in one, mix the dry ingredients with a little of the soy milk. In the other, heat the soy milk with the vanilla essence till it nearly boils, then take it off the hotplate and pour it into the dry-mix saucepan, stirring the whole time. Put this now-full saucepan onto the hotplate and, still stirring to prevent lumps forming, bring it up to the boil. Remove from heat when it has thickened like any custard. Pour immediately into the pastry shell.

(If you don't stir evenly and continuously, it will burn or form lumps, or both! But it's actually very easy.)

Leave the whole tart to cool, first outside the fridge and then inside if it needs longer. If you put it in the fridge too soon, condensation can make it a little soggy and water droplets spoil the top (but it still tastes good).

When it's completely cool, make a mock cream as follows: whip four dessertspoons of Nuttelex (vegan margarine) with four dessertspoons of sifted icing sugar, and pipe around the inside rim of the pastry shell.

Let the cream piping set in the fridge, and then it's ready to eat.

It tastes luxurious but is very inexpensive, and easy to make from ingredients you could already have in the cupboard, etc. -- needs nothing fancy.

My pictured effort is a little rough because the pastry was slightly too small for the pie dish, and I made it very fast while preparing dinner! -- but even a ragged-edge tart tastes okay...

All recipes detailed in this blog are my own; when I use someone else's, for copyright reasons, I indicate the books where you can find them.

*Borg's and most varieties of Pampas frozen pastry sheets are vegan: see the Vegan Network of Victoria. They also list many other ready-made products that are suitable for vegans, and they carefully update their pages. You can also make shortcrust pastry from scratch, using Nuttelex and flour. Anchor Lion Pastry Mix (dry, in a box -- you add water) contains no animal fat and they confirm it is vegan too. So there are many easy options for vegan pastry.

Vegan "cheese" scones

By Tracy

Here's the recipe, adapted from ordinary scone-making:

2 cups SR flour
2 tsp vegan margarine (Nuttelex in this case)
3 quarters of a cup of soy milk
approx half cup grated Cheezly*

Rub margarine into flour until mix resembles breadcrumbs, then add half the grated vegan cheese and stir through. Mix in the soy milk, reserving a tiny amount for glazing if you want browned tops. Halfway through baking, use the remaining grated vegan cheese to top the scones**. Bake about ten to fifteen minutes at 190 deg C.

*I used Edam-style Cheezly; there are other vegan cheeses. Not all of them melt. If you can't get a commercially made vegan cheese, you can give food a similar flavour by using nutritional yeast (Engevita, for example, or Healtheries Savoury Yeast), though this won't melt on top and can't be grated; it's a flaky or powdery substance, depending which sort you use).

**Cheezly melts fast, so I add it as topping halfway through -- same when making pizzas.

Olive update

By Tracy

Here are the olives from our tree, just over a month after picking. (See this earlier entry...)

They've been in brine which is changed daily, and they're almost ready for transferring to jars and eating.

The length of time you have to do this seems to vary depending on the olives, but there's no mistaking the change in taste. If it's too early, you can't wait to get the aftertaste out of your mouth!

If it's just right, or nearly, you can't resist the temptation to try another one before you put them back in the brine.

Only a few more days, by my reckoning.