Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Mushroom & Guinness Pie

I'm currently making and sharing lots of recipes inspired by the United Kingdom. As spring here has had plenty of chilly days and nights, the stodgy comfort food has been quite nice. I felt it was important to include an Irish inspired dish loaded with Guinness - so here it is. Unfortunately, Guinness itself is not actually vegan, so if you're making this dish and you're a vegan or a vegetarian you can just swap out the Guinness for a vegan/vegetarian friendly stout (such as Coopers).

I never do things by halves, so I've used almost a whole can of Guinness in my pie. This makes for a lovely strong Guinness flavour, which may not be for everyone. If you like it a bit milder, just substitute one of the cups of Guinness for some more beef stock (I've used Massel beef stock, which has no animal content).

Mushroom & Guinness Pie

2 onions, finely chopped
4 gloves garlic, minced or crushed
2 tbsp butter or margarine (vegan friendly)
500g large field (portobello) mushrooms, washed and cut into medium chunks
3/4 cup wholemeal flour
2 cups Guinness (or stout beer)
1/2 cup strong hot 'beef' stock (no animal content brand)
1 tbsp soy sauce
cracked pepper to taste
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
Sesame seeds, to sprinkle

To Make
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. 
2. Melt the butter in a frypan and cook the onions and garlic until translucent. Add the chopped  mushrooms and 1/2 cup Guinness and simmer until the mushrooms are cooked.
3. Add the flour and stir vigorously. Next, gradually add in the remaining Guinness and the beef stock, stirring continuously to make a gravy. Adding gradually and stirring lots should prevent it forming lumps and keep it nice and smooth. If it's looking a bit too dry, you can add a touch more stock or beer to slacken in a bit (this can vary, depending on how juicy your mushrooms were in the beginning). 
4. Season with soy sauce and plenty of cracked pepper.
5. Grease a pie dish and line the bottom with one of the sheets of puff pastry. Pour the filling in and top with the remaining sheet of pastry and crimp the edges firmly together using your fingers, or a fork. If you want to use cutouts, like I did, cut them out of the pastry before you put it on the pie. If not, just use a knife to make a few slits in the top to let the steam out while it cooks. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
6. Set your oven to the 'bottom only' setting and bake for 20 minutes (ensuring that the bottom is properly cooked) and then switch to the normal baking setting (top and bottom) and bake for another 10 minutes. It should be golden brown on top. 

Makes 1 pie, serves 4-6.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Summer Pudding

I wish I had managed to get some better picture of this dessert - it's such a special one! Luckily it's also absurdly easy and actually fairly healthy, so I have no excuse not to make it again to try and get some better shots :)

When I first read about this very simple English dessert, I thought it sounded way too simple to actually work. I toyed with whether I needed to make changes when I made it to make it stay together (I was really worried the whole thing would fall apart when I cut it!), but this very simple method was so prevalent all over the internet that I figured it must work. I sceptically made it in the traditional way and was slightly amazed at how well it worked. It stays together beautifully when you cut it up into slices!

It made for such a refreshing and healthy dessert that I ate the leftover with vanilla yoghurt for breakfast the next few days.

I was a bit unsure about using white bread, because I really don't like white bread in general. I've used it, because I followed the traditional recipe faithfully. It was nicer than I expected, although I wonder if it might also work with other types of breads?

Summer Pudding

1 kg mixed berries, fresh or frozen
3 tbsp water
1/2 cup sugar
Fresh white bread with the crusts removed

1. Set aside a handful or so of the berries for garnish and place the rest in a saucepan with the water and sugar. Cook for about 8 minutes or so, until the berries are no longer frozen and the juices run (you may need a bit less time if you are using fresh berries).
2. While the berries are on the stove, line a small pudding bowl with the trimmed bread slices. Press the edges together well, plug any little holes and make sure there are no gaps. 
3. Reserve 1/4 cup of the berry juice and pour the berries and remaining juice into the pudding bowl lined with bread. Cover the top with more sliced bread and press down gently.
4. Cover the pudding with a clean saucer that fits just inside the pudding bowl (if you've got one!) and put a weight on top (like a can or something similar).
5. Refrigerate the pudding overnight, or for at least 5 hours. 
6. To serve, remove from fridge and take off the saucer. Place a serving plate over the bowl and invert the pudding onto the plate. Use the reserved juice to cover up any white spots on the bread. Decorate with the reserved berries and drizzle any remaining juice over the top. 

Serve as is, or with whipped coconut cream or vanilla yoghurt. 

Serves 8-10 people. 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Vegan Cauliflower Cheese

Cauliflower cheese is a bit of a household classic in any Australian home and, I imagine, any other country with a strongly British-influenced cuisine! This next month or two I'm going to be featuring dished from the United Kingdom, and I thought cauliflower cheese was a great way to start. It might sound like a bit of a contradiction to make vegan cauliflower cheese, but really, the key to cauliflower cheese is white sauce rather than cheese itself. If you're not a vegan, feel free to top with some grated cheese for an actual 'cheese' experience. To be honest though, this recipe tastes exactly like the cauliflower cheese that I used to eat as a child so I don't actually think the cheese is necessary.

For a good vegan white sauce, I prefer not to use soy milk because it has such a strong flavour which can dominate the mild creamy sauce. Any mild flavoured milk substitute should be fine, I prefer oat milk but almond milk would work well too.

Vegan Cauliflower Cheese

1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 cup nuttelex (or other vegan margarine/butter)
2 onions, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup vegetable stock (hot)
2 1/2 cups unsweetened oat milk (or rice/almond milk)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup breadcrumbs mixed with 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

To Make
1. Parboil the cauliflower until only just tender and then drain and transfer to a large baking dish. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan and then add the onions and garlic. Cook until softened and translucent.
3. Add the flour and stir vigorously to make a roux. Gradually add the hot vegetable stock, stirring as vigorously as you do to keep the roux smooth. Once all the vegetable stock has been added, start adding the oat milk, also gradually and while stirring.
4. Once all the milk has been added, stir the roux over a low heat and add the lemon juice and the nutritional yeast. Season to taste with salt and pepper (you probably wont need to add salt, as vegetable stock is usually already very salty). 
5. Pour the white sauce over the top of the sliced caulifower and smooth over evenly. Top with bread crumbs and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes and then remove the foil and bake for just long enough for the breadcrumbs on top to get lightly browned and crispy (you can switch your oven to the grill setting for this, in which case it will only take a few minutes). 

Serve as a side dish or as a main accompanied by some steamed green veggies.