Green Salad with Garlic Mushrooms

Vegan
IMG_1897
Guys! Big news. I’ve decided that once a month I’m going to do a “fun things you should add to your salads post.” It’s going to be epic! I know, right now it sounds kind of boring. But trust me, lately I have been KILLING the salad game. My uni schedule this semester means most days I got home at 2.30pm, with half an hour before I go to work. What does that mean? Salad!!

The best lunch ever.

Salad can easily be the worst meal, or the best. It all depends what you put in it and how you make it. For me, the most important thing is the salad base. If you don’t have a strong base, the rest of your salad will never be able to shine like the star it should be.
IMG_1883
Take careful note of the photo above. Today I used two types of lettuce, washed and whizzed completely dry in my lettuce washer. It must be completely dry! Otherwise your salad will be sad. Two big handfuls for each person please. Next I added half a finely chopped shallot, for some zing. You could add finely sliced red onion if that’s your thing for this element.

Select two of your favourite herbs. Today I used basil (heaps of basil!) and coriander. You can add parsley, mint, dill (although I can’t be your friend anymore if you add dill because I HATE dill irrationally), or any other soft herb you like. Use a small palmful of leaves, and finely chop.
IMG_1900
Now it’s time to add your crunchy elements! I like to add a stalk of celery, half a chopped apple, half a chopped capsicum, and/or some cucumber for the crunchy part of the salad. Today I just used apple and capsicum because that’s all we had. Chop everything into 1cm chunks and throw into your salad bowl.

Next, time for some substantial greens. The best by far is broccoli, but today for the first time maybe forever we were out of broccoli, so I added steamed baby peas and zucchini. If you have time, you can roast the greens in the oven, but today this is an under half an hour salad so steaming will have to do! Chop in half an avocado for creaminess too.

And now for the secret: mushrooms!! Get out your pan, crush a garlic clove in there, add a drizzle of olive oil and fry up a huge handful of them. Mushrooms make an ordinary salad an extraordinary salad. Only add them at the last second because the heat might wilt the lettuce.
IMG_1904

For dressing mix 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp seedy mustard, and the juice of half a lime. Toss all the ingredients well. I drizzled over a tbsp of tahini as well for extra protein.

YUUUUM. There you have it. The best 20 minute salad in existence. Enjoy! And get excited for next months salad adventures!

One Year Ago: Coconut and Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

IMG_1907

Apple and Date Cupcakes with Coconut Yogurt Icing

Gluten Free, Vegan, Sugar Free

IMG_1853_2 copy-2

Yesterday my beautiful friend Maddie had her twentieth birthday party. Last year I made her this lemon sponge birthday cake and covered it in sugar flowers and told you all how much I love Maddie, if you want to read that. This year I wanted to make the MOST EPIC CAKE OF ALL TIME.

Maddie loves banoffee pie so I decided to make a four-layer caramel mud cake with banana and cream filling and chocolate ganache covering the entire thing. So I got up early, went and bought all the ingredients, whipped up my cake feeling like a casual Masterchef, and as I was cleaning up I found the pound of sugar sitting on the counter. Not in the cake, like it was supposed to be, just relaxing on my counter.

Uuugh. Life’s struggles. I tried to fix it by covering every single layer in a thick layer of more caramel as well as the chocolate and bananas and cream, and it ended up pretty awesome. But I think it would probably have tasted better with you know, sugar in it.

IMG_1868

Lots of people tell me they’re too scared to bake or try my recipes because they might stuff up or they’re not “good enough.” To them I say, I stuff up all the time. Like literally every time I make something there’s a stage that goes wrong somewhere in there. But it doesn’t matter! Try it anyway, and if you have to go out and buy a jar of Dulce de Leche to smother on your sugar-free cake, that’s ok too.

You can never get any better if you don’t try in the first place. Which brings me to these cupcakes. Ever since I made these apple and cinnamon cream cheese cupcakes, I’ve been wanting to make a gluten free AND vegan version that’s just as good as the original.

I was waay too scared for ages because my memory of them was so perfect, I didn’t want a mediocre cupcake to replace it. But finally thought, geez Lil. Just go make the cupcakes already. With the help of My Darling Lemon Thyme‘s gluten free muffin recipe I finally cracked the apple cinnamon cupcake challenge.

IMG_1855

I’m going to go as far to say that these are better than the original muffins. And they happen to be way better for you too! There’s no eggs, dairy, gluten or refined sugar in them at all and they also happen to be super easy to make.

I’m always worried when I make gluten free cupcakes that the texture will be either super powdery, or gluggy, or dense. These weren’t any of these. My sister ate one not knowing they were gluten free and said they were crumbly but moist (mooooooist), like the perfect cupcake. So there you go, the Cake Kahuna has spoken. You can replace the apple with carrot or pear if you want! You could add chopped almonds or walnuts, sultanas instead of the dates, and you can even leave out the icing.

By the way, I am calling these cupcakes but they are technically muffins…But in my mind once it has icing it is a cupcake, so…yeah. They’re cupcake muffins. Have a great week guys!

One Year Ago: Lemon Berry Butter Cake

Screen shot 2014-08-24 at 2.18.14 PM

Apple and Date Cupcakes with Coconut Icing
Recipe inspired from this book
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cup fine brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato flour
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 heaped tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs, lightly beaten OR 2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 4 tbsp water for vegan
3 apples, washed and grated
1/2 cup dates, chopped into chunks

1.5 cups (370g) coconut yogurt (or normal yogurt)
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp brown sugar (optional but awesome)
IMG_1858_2 copy-2

Preheat the oven to 180C (356F) and line 10 muffin moulds with muffin cups. Whisk together in a bowl the dry ingredients well. In a separate bowl mix together the wet ingredients. Gently fold the wet into the dry and fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 17-22 minutes, until golden on top and cooked through. Leave to cool.

Drain the coconut or normal yogurt in a sieve lined with a teatowel for a few hours, to make Labneh. Mix with the maple syrup and brown sugar and pipe over the cupcakes. Once iced, keep the cupcakes in the fridge.
IMG_1838_2

Chocolate and Vanilla Flecked Cream Cake

Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

IMG_1764_2
Last weekend, my cousin decided to do the 40 hour famine with his school. In a moment of madness, I decided to do it with him. In my memories the 40 hour famine was never very hard. To be honest all I could really remember is the end of the famine, where I would either make and eat an entire pizza, pot of macaroni and cheese or possibly tub of ice cream, much to my shrunken stomach’s regret. Nothing tastes quite as good as homemade macaroni and cheese when you haven’t eaten for forty hours 🙂

So I started at 8pm, and settled in for a night of babysitting. Babies went to bed, I started binge-watching all their recorded movies, things were looking good. And then…I saw they hadn’t eaten their dessert pizza. It wasn’t just any kind of dessert pizza, it was an Elvis Presley pizza. Layers of caramel sauce, nutella, roasted banana and chocolate crumble, covered in sugar. A little voice in my head said ‘no Lil! You’re only forty minutes into your famine!’ But a much louder voice said ‘NOOOOM NUTELLA BANANA ERMAGEEEERD’ and the next thing I knew, half that pizza was chilling in my tummy.

I wasn’t even hungry! I don’t even like dessert pizzas (except this one was pretty good). It just goes to show that deprivation never works. Especially if you haven’t actually raised any money, and therefore have no reason to continue the famine…
IMG_1758_2
That story doesn’t really have much to do with this chocolate cashew cream cake, I just had to alleviate my conscience somewhere. I did warn you all with my rhubarb cinnamon cream cake that there would be many more cashew cream cakes to come now that I’ve discovered how good they are. And to be honest, what with dumpling month going on this past four weeks, there has been a serious lack of chocolate on here.

This cake was inspired by that nutella pizza in a way, because I continued with the hazelnut and chocolate theme, sans banana. If I was Elvis Presley, there would also be caramel and peanut butter involved, and I would have to deep-fry the whole thing as well…when I was eating it I actually imagined how good it would taste with peanut butter, so I’ve made a little recommendation in the recipe if you want to take it down that route!
Screen shot 2014-08-19 at 12.13.55 PM
Sorry this is so late by the way! This post took me a lifetime to actually put up once I’d planned on making it. Normally I post every weekend, by the latest Monday morning. I had grand plans to finish all my uni work and go to bed early on Friday, waltz in to my kitchen on Saturday morning and blend this up in no time, chill it, cover it in ganache, go out and get myself a new job, and photograph this cake on Sunday morning, possibly drinking a green smoothie at the same time.

But…Friday night ended up being Beyonce night and I ended up not getting home on Saturday morning until 5am…I got out of bed at 10am, dragged myself to a job interview, zombie-stumbled home, fell on my bed on the way to the shower, ended up falling asleep for five hours, fell off my bed on to my phone which thankfully alerted me to wake up, washed my face, stumbled to babysitting and died on their couch.

IMG_1799_2

And then it rained for three days and the light was so terrible I had to wait until Tuesday to photograph the cake! That’s why there’s no process shots, the light was literally so dark my camera couldn’t even find a focus point. So anyway! Here it is. It is seriously delicious. I just ate a huge piece instead of going to the gym, and it was perfect. You can keep it in the freezer or the fridge, both are seriously yummy. 

I had cocoa butter in the fridge, which I used to make my own chocolate both for the filling and topping. If you want a short-cut version, buy a good-quality vegan sugar free block of dark chocolate. (But making your own is super easy!) After eating the different layers, I realised you can’t taste the difference strongly enough to warrant the extra mixing bowl! But if you like the look of layers by all means, take out a few scoops of the filling before mixing in the melted chocolate 🙂 Have a great week guys!!

One Year Ago: Banana Chai Cupcakes 

Screen shot 2014-08-19 at 12.16.11 PM
Chocolate and Vanilla Flecked Cream Cake:
For the Base:
1 cup hazelnuts, lightly crushed
1 packed cup pitted dates
1 tbsp coconut oil

For the Middle:
3 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight in cold water
3/4 cup (185ml) coconut oil
1/2 cup raw honey or maple syrup, for pure vegan
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 vanilla bean, seeded
Optional: 100g smooth peanut butter

50g cocoa butter, melted
50g raw cacao
50g raw honey

For the Topping:
100g cocoa butter, melted
100g raw cacao
100ml raw honey
200ml coconut milk (organic and full-fat is best)

IMG_1819_2

Start by lining a 23cm tin with baking paper. Blend the ingredients for the base until a smooth dough forms. If your blend is crappy like mine, make sure to crush the nuts and cut up the dates first, and blend in batches. Press into the bottom of the tin and keep in the freezer until ready to fill.

Wash your cashews under cold water and drain well. Blend with the coconut oil, honey, lemon and vanilla bean seeds. Either remove a few scoops now to make separate layers, or just make one chocolate layer.For a peanut butter layer, blend the peanut butter with half the mix now and set aside. Mix the 50g cocoa butter, cacao and honey together until smooth and runny. Blend this into the cashew mix and pour into the tin. Smooth over and leave in the freezer until ready to top.

To make the ganache, melt the cocoa butter slowly and stir in the cacao and honey. Stir until smooth. Stir in the coconut milk and pour over the cashew cream filling. Now keep the cake in the fridge for at least 4 hours, until ready to serve. It’s very rich so serve in small slices! Enjoy 🙂
IMG_1775-2

Dumpling Month Part 4 – Pumpkin and Beetroot Dumplings

IMG_1730
Are you guys ready for the next instalment of dumpling month? Because it’s pretty darn exciting. I swear each new flavour I’ve tried has been better than the last ones. These are possibly, *dare I say it* the best so far!

They kind of happened by accident. The other day I was roasting a pan of vegetables with vague plans of eating them for lunch/dinner/as a random morning snack, and I had a lightbulb moment. How good would these be in a dumpling?! Maybe dumpling month has got to me and sent me a little bit crazy. Maybe you’ll see me trying to squeeze all kinds of terrible things in dumplings from now on (is it just me or is nutella a fantastic idea) but luckily this time I was right!

I made a little soy dipping sauce to go along with them and they were so perfect. I had a pack of wonton wrappers in the fridge as I am still experimenting with different brands, but you could easily make your own dumpling dough from my first post.
IMG_1681
These are super easy to make even for dumpling amateurs like me. As long as you can use an oven and do some simple folding you’re sweet. When I was making these I had a little realisation that so many cuisines have some form of dumpling. If you rolled the dough slightly thicker and replaced the ginger and chilli with ricotta, these would be undeniably Italian tortellini. I guess great minds just think alike!

You can mix up the vegetables you put in there, and even just use pumpkin. I made these planning on putting them in a miso soup but ended up eating them all prematurely. If you wanted to do that though I bet they would be delicious! Have a great week everyone 🙂

One Year AgoCinnamon, Dark Chocolate and Berry Ice Cream Cake
IMG_1736_2
Roast Vegetable Dumplings (vegan)
1 shallot, finely minced
1 tsp ginger, finely minced
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into big pieces
2 beetroots, peeled and chopped
1 cup pumpkin, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper
olive oil, to drizzle

1 packet wonton wrappers (30-40)
soy sauce
1/2 red chilli
1 shallot, chopped
ponzu vinegar
IMG_1685

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Put the chopped vegetables on a roasting tray and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 40 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Mash them with the ginger, shallot and chilli and allot to cool.

Put a small spoonful of the mashed vegetables on a wonton wrapper and lightly wet the edges. Pull the top half over the bottom half like you’re folding a piece of paper, and seal all the way around. Pull one side over the other side and slightly wetting one edge, crimp it closed in a circle to make a round shape. Repeat with the rest of the dumplings.

Mix the soy, chilli, shallots and vinegar to make a dipping sauce. Steam the dumplings from fresh for about 8 minutes, or from frozen for about 15-20 minutes, until cooked through. Makes about 35 dumplings.
IMG_1689 copy

Rhubarb and Cinnamon Cashew Cream Cake (raw and vegan!)

Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

IMG_1623_2
Guys, it’s happened. I finally got around to making a raw cashew cream cake! Too long have I ogled at this beautiful creation and this one and tried to eat my screen with little to no success. I finally made the splurge and bought the cashews and coconut butter, and gave my blender a serious pep-talk. Don’t worry, dumpling month is charging on, we’re just having a minor cake break so that I can eat my way through the dumplings in the freezer.

I wanted fancy layers for my cheesecake because layers people. Layers are so much more exciting than non-layers. So the bottom layer is infused with cinnamon (because everything should be infused with cinnamon) and the top layer is mixed with poached rhubarb and vanilla compote. Holy to the yum. The compote itself was so amazing! I deliberately made way more than I needed so that I could eat it all week on my weetbix. I highly recommend this as you don’t need much at all in the actual recipe, but if fruit compote isn’t your thing, make a quarter of the recipe.
IMG_1615
The reason this post took so long to put up was because this whole week I’ve been super sick and just horrendous feeling basically. I went away for a week with my friends to a music festival and while that week was one of the best ever and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it, the following week has been rough. It’s been very rough. It started on the day we packed up and left the camping grounds and I’d completely, 100% lost my voice. I could not make a sound.

That transformed into a bad case of the flu, which today transformed into a stomach bug. I feel so nauseous I haven’t actually been able to try the cake yet….I KNOW! But my whole family and a number of friends have tried and raved, so I am going out on a limb and hoping it tastes as good assembled as it did on the back of a spoon when I was making it 🙂
IMG_1642
My blender honestly did die a bit in the making of this cake, but I have lamented here often that raw desserts can be tricky in my kitchen. Every time I decide it’s finally time to make an upgrade and start researching, there are so many conflicting accounts and opinions I give up and give my blender a hug.

If you don’t have a powerful blender like me, make sure you soak your cashews all night long. It really made the difference! Also give the blender lots of time to rest in between small batches, instead of trying to power through the whole thing in one go. This is definitely a cake to make, regardless of whether your crowd is vegan or raw! It feels so special with the pink layers and it tastes so light and wholesome. So I’ve officially joined the cashew cream cake bandwagon. Look to the future for more!

One Year Ago: Berry and Lychee Vanilla Yogurt Cake
IMG_1636_2

Recipe inspired by My New Roots and This Rawsome Vegan Life
Raw Cashew Cream Cake with Rhubarb and Cinnamon:

3 cups of cashews, covered in cold filtered water and left to soak overnight

1.5 cups walnuts
1.5 cups dates, chopped roughly
1 tbsp coconut oil

6 long stalks of rhubarb, cut into chunks
100g raw sugar
1/2 a vanilla bean
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup (185ml) coconut oil, melted if hard
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup (170g) raw honey or maple syrup for pure vegan
pinch of sea salt
Screen shot 2014-08-04 at 6.07.54 PM
Line a 23cm baking tin with baking paper. Blend the walnuts, dates and tablespoon of coconut oil into a dough and press in to the bottom of the tin with your hands. Chill whilst you make the filling.

In a medium saucepan, very gently stew the rhubarb, sugar and vanilla bean (cut and seeds added to the pot) with a few tablespoons of water until completely soft but not straggly.

Drain the cashews well and put in the blender. Add the lemon juice, honey, coconut oil, salt and cinnamon. Blend until mix is as smooth as possible. Pour half into the cake tin and smooth around. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Blend the remaining half with about 1/3 – 1/2 cup of the rhubarb mix, to the desired colour and consistency (don’t add too much liquid – just the rhubarb pieces!) pour this on top of the cake and refrigerate the whole thing overnight. Serve cold, serves 10 – 12!
IMG_1659

Dumpling Month Part 3 – Spicy Eggplant Dumplings

Vegan

IMG_1560
Brace yourselves for the most amazing dumplings so far! (Possibly the best dumplings…I’ve ever eaten!) Seriously. I made these, I ate one, I died. They are so. yummy. I made thirty that first day, I very nearly ate thirty in that same day.

The filling is just spicy eggplant fried until soft. There’s a dumpling place near my uni that has eggplant dumplings as one of the vegetarian options, and they’re so awesome. I have a theory that eggplant is kind of a magical vegetable. How does it become so good when you cook it? Have you ever tried to eat raw eggplant? It’s disgusting. But cooked eggplant is like a whole different universe.

IMG_1566
Apologies for the horrendous photos today! I’ve been trying to not get so hung up on photos recently because that’s the major blocking point for so many of my posts. I always feel like if the photos aren’t up to scratch I can’t post it at all, but that’s silly right?! RIGHT?! (You’re all looking at your screen and these horrendous pictures thinking no Lilli…just no…)

Regardless what they look like, these are definitely the favourite dumplings so far. They are also basically the easiest, with hardly any ingredients. You can buy pre-made dumpling wrappers, or you can make your own. Pick your own adventure. Just make sure your eggplant is 100% cooked before you fill the dumplings because it won’t cook anymore when you’re steaming them. Enjoy!!!

One Year Ago: Lavender and Lemon Tarts (gluten free)
IMG_1574
Eggplant Dumplings:
Makes 30
Filling inspired from this recipe
1 large eggplant, cut into 1 inch wide strips and salted liberally
2 tbsp chilli oil (or 2 tbsp vegetable oil mixed with 1 tsp fresh chopped chilli
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
1 tbsp black vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp raw sugar

1 quantity dumpling dough or bought wrappers
IMG_1566

After salting the eggplant slices, wash the salt off and pat dry. Slice the eggplant into 1 cm strips and then 1cm squares.

Heat the oil and chilli in a wok and fry the garlic, onion and shallots until soft and slightly brown. Add the eggplant, soy and vinegar and fry until the eggplant becomes soft. Add the sugar and season well with pepper (no more salt) to desired taste. Set aside and let cool completely.

Take a small dessert spoon of filling and place on a dumpling wrapper. Slightly wet the edges with your finger and fold the wrapper towards you, pressing down the edges to seal in the eggplant. Either bring the edges together and join to make a round shape, or leave as pillows. Can be frozen and steamed for fifteen minutes, or cooked straight away until wrappers are soft. Serve with vinegar and chilli oil.
IMG_1577_2

Dumpling Month Part 2 – spring vegetable and mushroom

Vegan

IMG_1559

Are you guys ready for the second instalment of dumpling month?! I know I’m ready. This time round I tried to channel my absolute favourite dumplings from a local Chinese restaurant. Every time we go there I go a little bit cray cray over them. They’re full of vegetables and mushrooms, which makes them kind of…meaty? That sounds gross, but you know what I mean. They’re hearty!

This time did the moneybag shape, which worked well and was super easy to store and steam. Plus it was faster than the crimping method in last week’s spinach and tofu dumplings, which was helpful. I was inspired by Smitten Kitchen‘s recipe to use a mix of seasonal vegetables, so you can kind of add what you like to these. I used a mix of fresh pea, cabbage, spinach, mushroom and tofu. This time round I lightly stir-fried the vegetables first before putting them in the dumplings. This made the flavours much more intense and tasty so I will definitely keep doing this step.

IMG_1523_2

For the sake of experiment (code for laziness) this time round I didn’t make my own dough, I bought some pre-made dim sum squares from the local Asian grocer. It did save a lot of time, but the dough was really hard to work with. Any moisture that got on them would disintegrate it into pieces. They did steam fine, but I think they would be too delicate for pot stickers. If you know any good brands for dumpling wrappers let me know in the comments!

This week I’m going to Splendour in The Grass music festival, so I may be a little slow with comments and questions. My third dumpling recipe will be going up some time in the week though and it’s my favourite by far! So make sure you check it out 🙂 I’m loving all the dumpling suggestions I’ve been getting so keep telling me your favourite flavours! May dumpling month never end!

One Year Ago: Lemon Berry Poppyseed Cake (gluten free)
IMG_1540

Spring Vegetable and Mushroom Dumplings: Inspired by Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 30 dumplings
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup finely shredded wombok (Chinese cabbage)
1 cup finely shredded English Spinach
1/2 cup baby peas (frozen ok)
3 large flat mushrooms, chopped finely
100g (3.5 ounces) firm tofu, chopped into small pieces
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp black vinegar

1 quantity dumpling dough or 30 bought wrappers
Screen shot 2014-07-19 at 2.41.23 PM

In a hot wok, fry the shallots, garlic and ginger in the oils until transparent. Add in the mushrooms and tofu and stir fry until slightly brown. Throw in the greens and just slightly cook. Pour off any excess liquid that comes out in the cooking process and discard.

Once the mix has cooled a little, use a spoon to put a small amount (about 3cm, 2 inches) of mixture in the centre of the wrapper. slightly wet (not too much!) the edges with a bit of water and fold the dumpling over towards you, in half. Press down the edges. Slightly wet one edge of the dumpling and fold over the front, pressing it together with the other side. Keep on a plate with baking paper whilst you make the rest of the dumplings.

To cook, place each dumpling about 1cm apart from each other in a steamer. Steam for about 5 minutes, until the skin is shiny and translucent in places. If you freeze them first you will need to cook them for longer. Enjoy! Serve with chilli and vinegar
IMG_1551_2