Sticky date pudding

Photo by Gary Donald Corbett

“Who doesn’t like sticky date pudding?! It’s one of the top desserts on many menus around the world and a regular recipe in my own kitchen. I’ve been testing a vegan recipe for catering and have realised this is better than the version I used to make. With the addition of banana to replace the eggs you do get and extra flavour in the mix but it compliments the traditional flavours so well. Enjoy!”

Watch the video here

https://youtu.be/BCxatZoIIBM

Ingredients for the pudding

  • 1 cup soy milk (you can use cows milk or vegan alternative)
  • 2 cups dates
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Ingredients for the sauce
  • 110g Nutikex (or butter)
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
Method
  1. Heat your oven to 180 Celsius
  2. Place soy milk, dates and golden syrup in a saucepan and heat while stirring until dates are soft.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of bicarb soda and stir. Put aside to cool.
  4. Using a fork mash the bananas with the olive oil.
  5. Combine the dry ingredients and mix together.
  6. Add the bananas and dates to dry ingredients and mix together.
  7. Line a slice tin with baking paper and spoon the batter in, smoothing it down.
  8. Bake in a 180 Cescius oven for 20-30 minutes or until a skewer comes our clean.
  9. For the sauce combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil while stirring.
  10. While the pudding is still hot spoon over some of the sauce.
  11. Serve with extra sauce, coconut ice-cream, Medjol dates and a sprinkle of chopped walnuts.

 

French toast 3 ways

Photos by Gary Corbett

“You can’t beat French toast for an indulgent breakfast, brunch or even dessert. I’ll be making this with my nieces on a Facebook live this Mother’s Day. I’ve given you three recipes to choose from but you can get your creative juices going with many different culinary alternatives. I’ve also given a vegan alternative for the custard and you can use a non-dairy spread instead of butter. Enjoy!” 

Ingredients for egg custard

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
Ingredients for vegan custard
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Version 1 – with mixed berries
  • Thick cut fruit toast
  • Mixed berries
  • Maple syrup
  • Thick cream or coconut yoghurt
Method
  1. Put berries in a container and pour over some maple syrup. Set aside.
  2. Mix custard ingredients together until they are well combined. Put in a shallow bowl good for dipping.
  3. Put a tablespoon of butter or non-dairy spread in a frying pan and heat up until it’s melted.
  4. Cut your fruit toast in half, dip in the custard on both sides and put in the frying pan. Let one side go golden (about 1 minute) before turning over.
  5. Place on a plate, top with a dollop of cream or coconut yoghurt, some berries and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Version 2 – with coconut bananas

  • Thick cut fruit toast
  • Bananas
  • Desiccated coconut
  • Thick cream or coconut yoghurt
  • Toasted almonds
Method
  1. Mix custard ingredients together until they are well combined. Put in a shallow bowl good for dipping.
  2. Cut your bananas in half then slice them lengthwise so you get a flat side.
  3. Put some coconut on a flat plate. Dip the flat side of the banana in the custard then place in the coconut.
  4. Put a tablespoon of butter or non-dairy spread in a frying pan and heat up until it’s melted.
  5. Place the banana flat side down in the frying pan and cook until the coconut has gone golden. Remove and set aside.
  6. Clean the pan of coconut then put a tablespoon of butter or non-dairy spread in a frying pan and heat up until it’s melted.
  7. Cut your fruit toast in half, dip in the custard on both sides and put in the frying pan. Let one side go golden (about 1 minute) before turning over.
  8. Place on a plate, top with a dollop of cream or coconut yoghurt, the coconut bananas, some toasted almonds and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Version 3 – with figs and spiced yoghurt
  • Thick cut fruit toast
  • Fresh figs
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Toasted almonds
  • Honey
Method
  1. Mix custard ingredients together until they are well combined. Put in a shallow bowl good for dipping.
  2. Put yoghurt and spices in a bowl and mix together.
  3. Cut your figs into quarters.
  4. Put a tablespoon of butter or non-dairy spread in a frying pan and heat up until it’s melted.
  5. Cut your fruit toast in half, dip in the custard on both sides and put in the frying pan. Let one side go golden (about 1 minute) before turning over.
  6. Place on a plate, top with a dollop of spiced yoghurt ,fresh figs, some toasted almonds and a drizzle of honey.

 

 


Salsa verde

Photo by Gary Corbett

“Like most cooks, I use heaps of herbs in my dishes. It’s a great way to add freshness and a burst of flavour to your cooking. That’s why I love salsa verde. Not only is it delicious, it’s extremely versatile and can be used to jazz up salads, canapés and main courses. You can also use whatever herbs you have to hand, or put more of a herb you like in. Enjoy”

 Ingredients for salsa verde

  • Bunch of basil
  • Bunch of parsley
  • Bunch of mint
  • Bunch of coriander
  • Bunch of chives
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice and rind of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1/4 cup green olives
  • 1 green chilli
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
Method
  1. Pick the leaves off your herbs and put into a food processor. Blitz for a few seconds to break them down.
  2. Add the other ingredients except the olive oil. Blitz until you get the consistency you want. It works as a chunky sauce or a smooth one.
  3. Add olive oil until you achieve the consistency you want.
  4. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.
Caprese salad
Layer tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves and pickled onions on a plate.
To pickle the onions I use equal parts red wine vinegar and white sugar. Stir the vinegar until sugar is dissolved and put in finely chopped white onions. It’s best to leave the for a day to soften.
Dollop spoonfuls of greek yoghurt and salsa verde over the top. You can also put layers on some sourdough bread for a healthy lunch.
Fresh and delicious.
Baked potatoes
To bake the potato, drizzle with olive oil and salt and wrap in aluminium foil. Bake in a 180c oven for 45 minutes or until the potato is cooked all the way through. Cut the potato open and dollop some sour cream inside, Add the salsa verde and grate some parmesan cheese over the top.
Makes a great midweek dinner if you’re super busy.
Cucumber sandwiches
To be a little bit classy you can jazz up your cucumber sandwiches with salsa verde.
(I actually don’t like cucumber but with the salsa verde they’re delicious).
Butter some white bread and spread on a thin layer of salsa verde on both sides.
Peel your cucumber and add thin slices to one slice. Put the top on, cut off the crusts and slice in half.
Now you’re classy as hell!

Christmas Mince Pies (Vegan)

“Every year I make Christmas mince pies.  Mum’s been doing making them for years but I’m sure mine are better!  She will disagree with this.  Anyway, this version is very tasty and vegan friendly.  Of course, you can make them with a traditional shortcrust pastry but I love the texture of this pastry and it’s really easy to make and work with. This recipe makes enough pastry for about 3 dozen mince pies, so halve it if you don’t need that many. I make the Christmas mince in bulk every year and use it to make Christmas cakes, biscuits and other delicacies. I haven’t given weights for the dried fruit because with this method you can make as much or as little as you like and use a combination of fruits that you like best.  I would also suggest you use less expensive cooking port or it can get expensive. Enjoy!”

(Photos by Gary Corbett)

Ingredients for Christmas mince

  • Sultanas
  • Currents
  • Dates
  • Dried apricots
  • Dried figs
  • Cranberries
  • Cooking port
Method for Christmas mince
  1. Cut up the dried fruit into small pieces or use a food processor.
  2. Place fruit in a large saucepan pour over enough port to saturate the fruit.
  3. Bring the heat up to medium and keep stirring until the port has been incorporated and the fruit has softened. There should be no liquid left in the mixture and the fruit should be glossy and sticky.   (When doing 2kg of dried fruit this takes up to 20 minutes) You can always add more port and keep the mixture on the heat if you want cook it for longer.
  4. Let the Christmas mince cool completely in the saucepan then transfer to a plastic container and refrigerate.  Because of the high amount of natural sugars the Christmas mince will last for ages!
Ingredients for Vegan shortcrust pastry
  • 190g Nutilex (or non-dairy margarine)
  • 190g icing sugar
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
Method for Vegan shortcrust pastry
  1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and combine until it comes into a ball.  If you mixture is crumbly add a small amount of cold water. If it’s to soft put some more flour in.
  2. Empty mixture onto some plastic wrap and knead into a disc. (This will make it easier to roll out later)
  3. Wrap disc in the plastic wrap and place in the fridge until needed.
Method for Christmas mince pies
  1. Roll out the pastry until it’s about 5mm thick.
  2. Cut out circles of pastry to fit your pans.  (I have specialty pans that are shallow with a fluted edge that are perfect for these pies)
  3. Press the pastry into the base of each mould so it comes a few centimetres up the side. (Or as deep as you want if you want bigger pies!)
  4. Fill the moulds with the cooled Christmas mince and smooth the top.
  5. Using Christmas cutters make tops for the pies.  I use stars, Santas, Christmas trees or baubles for mine.  You can also enclose the top completely if you like.
  6. Before you put them in the oven you can use an egg-wash, milk or any vegan milks to paint over the pastry tops.  Or you can sprinkle a bit of sugar over them.
  7. Bake in a 180 degree C oven for 10-15 minutes or until the pastry is cooked and starting to brown.
  8. Give to all your family and friends and everyone will love you!

 

Vegie Bolognese

“Recently, in an attempt to have less meat in our diet, I’ve been trying to create vegetarian and vegan recipes that still satisfy me and pack a punch of flavour and texture.  My favourite would have to be mushroom parmigiana.  Right up there with the chicken version!  One dish we eat heaps of is Bolognese or Chilli con carne and I’ve started using half beef, half lentils to great effect.  I still wanted to do a vegan version, so started experimenting with this recipe.  My aim was to get a dish that felt like you were eating the original and still had heaps of complex flavours.  The fact that my carnivorous husband loves it means it must be a success. This is a good recipe for doing in bulk and freezing for later.  Enjoy!”

Ingredients

  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 stick of celery, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 tsp star anise powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 x 400g can of tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g can of lentils
  • 1 x 400g can of chick peas
  • 1 x 400g can of black or red beans
  • 400g mushrooms
  • 4 tbsp Kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup Barbecue sauce (optional)
  • 100g pecans, finely diced
Method
  1. Cook the carrot, onion, celery and garlic in a large frypan until soft.
  2. Add the tomato paste, star anise, cumin and paprika and cook off for a few minutes.
  3. Add the red wine and tomatoes then let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Put the mushrooms in a food processor until diced. You want to keep a bit of texture. Do the same with the chick peas.
  5. Put mushrooms, lentils, beans and chickpeas in a large stockpot or slow cooker.  Pour in the tomato and red wine mixture and combine.  Allow this to sit on low heat for at least an hour.  If the mixture gets too dry, add more red wine or vegetable stock.
  6. Add the kecap manis (or dark soy sauce) and balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you want a smokey flavour add the barbecue sauce.
  7. Stir in the pecans just before you serve for added texture.
  8. Serve with the pasta of your choice and parmesan cheese.

 

Vegan carrot and lemon cupcakes

“Once a month we have “Cake-day” at the QLD Symphony Orchestra.  It’s an opportunity for us all to gather for morning tea and try a lavish selection of baked delicacies by our industrious members.  I’ve taken on the role to provide cakes for the vegan members of the orchestra, so I’m always looking for new recipes that taste just as good as their non-vegan versions.  Sometimes it takes a few tries to get the recipe up to the standard I want but some are so delicious on the first attempt that I don’t need to change anything.  For this recipe I found a basic vegan cupcake recipe and changed it into this zingy little number with the addition of carrots, currents and walnuts.  Enjoy!”

You can find the video on my Musical Menus YouTube page.

https://youtu.be/Kjb4nhnIYbw

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup soy or almond milk
  • 2 bananas
  • Juice and rind from 2 lemons
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 cup currents
  • 3 cups self raising flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the glaze

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • Juice and rind from 1 lemon
Method
  1. Place coconut oil, soy or almond milk, bananas and lemon juice and rind in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Mix together the grated carrot, currents, flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and mixed spice.
  3. Add the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  4. Line 2 cupcake tins (makes about 20) with cupcake papers and fill 2/3 full with the mixture.  Sprinkle the walnuts on top.
  5. Bake in a 180 degree celsius oven for 20 minutes.
  6. While the cupcakes cool, mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice and rind until smooth.  Top each cupcake with a small wedge of lemon, then using a teaspoon drizzle with the glaze.
  7. Eat as many as you like!

Vegan Fruit and Nut Loaf

“I recently made a delicious fruit and nut loaf from one of Bill Grainger’s beautiful cookbooks.  It was light and fragrant with nice chunky pieces of dried fruit and crunchy nuts.  Because it didn’t have a lot of butter or eggs in it I decided to try and convert it to a vegan version.  After a few attempts I got the right balance that doesn’t lack any of the flavours or textures of the original.  It also works great toasted after a few days and freezes well. Of course I do have it smothered with butter, but you can always find a vegan alternative. Enjoy!”

Ingredients

  • 50g oats
  • 300ml almond milk
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 250g dried fruit, roughly chopped (Dates, raisins, apricots, figs etc)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 70g almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 lemon, rind and juice
  • 30g almonds roughly chopped for topping
Method
  1. Place oats and almond milk in a bowl and allow to soak for 20 minutes.
  2. Combine the flour, spices, sugar and salt and mix together.
  3. Add the oats and milk, dried fruit, almonds, maple syrup, banana and lemon juice and rind and mix together.
  4. Pour the mixture into a lined loaf tin and smooth the top.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining almonds on top.
  6. Bake in a 180 celcius oven for 40 – 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool for 30 minutes then remove from the tin.  Slather with butter and enjoy.

 

 

 

Vegetarian “Sausage” Rolls

“I’ve got an increasing number of friends that are either vegetarian or vegan. so I decided I’d better perfect a vegetarian “Sausage” roll.  As I plan to open a cafe in the future I thought it would be a good addition to the menu.  I’ve found that other veggie rolls I’ve had have been a bit bland and lacking in texture so I’ve added pumpkin seeds and a few other ingredients to give them a culinary kick.  The filling contains no animal products so vegans can make them simply by substituting vegan pastry for the puff pastry I’ve used.  I’ve also used the filling as a veggie burger patty by rolling in bread crumbs and shallow frying.  Enjoy!”

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 150g mushrooms, diced
  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 75g sun-dried tomatoes
  • 60g olives
  • 100g bread crumbs
  • 400g can of chick peas, drained and lightly smashed
  • 400g sweet potato, roasted or grated
  • 100g pumpkin seeds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 sheets of puff pastry or vegan pastry
  •  Egg-wash or almond milk to brush on pastry
  • Poppy seeds
Method
  1. Place the whole unpeeled sweet potato on a tray and bake at 180 degrees C for 40 minutes or until it is soft all the way through.  Let it cool then blitz in a food processor until smooth. (You can also just grate the sweet potato and add to the mixture, but I prefer the baked version)
  2.  Fry the diced onion, garlic, mushroom and fennel seeds until onion is translucent.  Set aside to cool.
  3. In a food processor, blitz the sun-dried tomatoes and olives.
  4. Combine the grated carrot, zucchini, bread crumbs, smashed chick peas and pumpkin seeds.  Add in the tomatoes and olives, the garlic and onion mixture and the pureed sweet potato. Stir the mixture well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, then refrigerate for at least an hour.
  5. Lay out 4 sheets of puff pastry or vegan pastry and distribute a log of the cooled filling down the middle of each.
  6. Wrap the pastry around the filling and place seam side down on a baking tray.
  7. Brush with egg-wash or almond milk and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  8. Bake at 180 degrees C for 30-45 minutes or until the pastry has cooked and browned.
  9. Let the rolls cool slightly before slicing into segments and serve with a sauce or chutney.

 

 

 

 

Zesty Coconut Loaf

“Is it okay to make a new years resolution in May?  Better late than never I suppose!  So here it is: I plan to try to post recipes at least once a fortnight from now on.  (Let’s see how long that lasts).  So, to start the ball rolling I’ve been trying a new coconut loaf recipe that is great for anyone lactose intolerant or vegan…or just hungry.  And it’s super easy!  Just throw all the ingredients in a mixer and stick it in the oven.  While testing it I tried 2 variations of different ingredients and both loafs were fabulous, moist and tasty.  I think this will be my new standby for those last minute baking emergencies. Enjoy!”

(Photo by Gary Donald Corbett)

Ingredients for loaf

  • 300g self raising flour
  • 100g shredded coconut
  • 100g white sugar or coconut sugar
  • 50g coconut oil or olive oil
  • 300g coconut cream
  • zest of 2 limes or 1 lemon
Ingredients for icing
  • juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 20g shredded coconut
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
  2. Grease a loaf tin and line with baking paper.
  3. Put all loaf ingredients into a mixer and combine.
  4. Transfer to loaf tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool in the tin
  6. Lightly toast the coconut in a pan until just golden.
  7. Combine Lemon or lime juice with icing sugar until all lumps are gone.
  8. Spoon mixture over warm cake the sprinkle with toasted coconut.