Green Take 2

via WordPress Daily Prompt Jolly

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

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A second take on green, revisiting no-cheese cheesecake #4, Nadia Lim’s avacado, lime and coconut ‘cheese’cake

I’ve pretty perfected my no-bake cheesecake base, adapted from this blueberry and beetroot cheesecake:

1 1/2 cups of coconut almond meal leftover from homemade almond coconut ‘milk’ production. You could make the meal directly by blending a cup each of raw almond and coconut flakes.

3/4 of a cup of dates, chopped, optional to top up to a cup with raisins

1 tablespoon of coconut oil, melted to a liquid

A pinch of salt

Next:

Put the meal in the food processor and blend, slowly adding the dates until the mix turns a deeper brown as the oils mix with the meal.

Add the coconut oil and salt and blend.

Pour the base mix into a prepared (I use a baking paper base) springform baking pan.

The topping is dead easy. You’ll need:

5 medium firm ripe avocados

1 cup of lime juice (I use the bottled stuff as the limes up here are poor dry things with hardly any juice

a pinch of salt

1 cup of coconut cream (I skimped as I only had a 150ml can)

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

1/2 a cup of maple syrup

1/4 cup of vanilla sugar (I have this big jar of it that I Hardly use because it’s , like, y’know, sugar)

2 tablespoons of gelatin (actually used closed to 1 1/2 as the box wasn’t quite as full it it made out)

2 tablespoons of cold water

3 tablespoons of boiling water

Then:

Place all the ingredients, except the gelatin and water, in the food processor and blend until the mixture is smooth.

Mix the gelatin powder with cold water and leave it to swell for a few minutes. Add the boiling water and mix well to completely dissolve the gelatin (make sure there are no little lumps!).

Add the dissolved gelatin mixture to the food processor and blend with the avocado mixture until it’s all very smooth.

Without too much mussing around, pour the topping mix into the springform pan and spread into an even layer. If you muss around too much, the topping will strat to set in the food processor.

Place the pan in the fridge for a couple of hours until ready to serve.

Nadia Lim recommends a berry coulis to go withe ‘cheese’cake. I made one by blending a mix of strawberries (tis the season), blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. I’m not particularly sold on this as it is a tart topping on an already quite tart ‘cheese’cake – I think cream, whipped or straight, and vanilla ice cream make for a better accompaniment for this…

This is a very simple and very fast ‘cheese’cake to knock up. Depending on the availability of avocados, it may be a bit pricey…not tested but the original recipe says it can be frozen so there is scope to knock a few up when ‘cados are cheaper and freeze them til later in the year…

Chocolate, beetroot and raspberry cake thing

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This didn’t turn out that well at all but went down well with the target audience…not sure what went wrong but it may be that I didn’t bake it long enough and there was not enough flour for the old skewer trick to determine whether it was done or not…I also used real cocoa powder which really upped the chocolate ante possibly past that intended by the author who only wrote cocoa powder into the original recipe from Healthy Food Guide.

I’m not normally that much of a chocolatey person and found it totally overpowering on its own but quite a pleasant treat once tempered with cream and creamy vanilla ice cream. Probably because it didn’t fully bake properly this one had a very interesting texture from the grated strands of pear and beetroot…

Next time I will back off on the cocoa content and possible add a little coconut flour for body. It would be so good to be able to get colourless cocoa so we get the flavour and the deep rich red colouring of the beetroot…

Cauliflower Buffalo Bites

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The lowly cauliflower strikes again into the hallowed territory of binge TV snack food…I’ve been unable to source the original recipe and there are lots of variations on this theme out there in the culinary googleverse…

Two hours before starting this, I put a chunk of venison steak into the sous vide.

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower chopped into florets

1/2 cup of milk (any unsweetened kind or a not-milk will do)

1/2 cup of water

3/4 cup of flour

2 teaspoons of garlic powder

2 teaspoons of onion powder

1 teaspoon of paprika

1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper

Directions 

Preheat your oven to 230 Celcius.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, water, milk, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper.

Add the cauliflower florets and mix until well-coated – make sure you get the mix well into the florets themselves .

Spread evenly onto the cookie sheets so the florets are not touching .

Bake for 15- 20 minutes , flipping once.

Remove from the oven and set aside.

 Wing sauce

2 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons of vinegar

1 tablespoons of water

A pinch of salt

1/2 cup of your favourite hot sauce (I used some old chili sauce that had been in the fridge a long time)

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, hot sauce, vinegar, water, and salt.

Add the baked cauliflower and toss to coat with the sauce, again making sauce the mix gets rights into the florets.

Spread the florets evenly onto the cookie sheets and pop back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes until crispy (flipping once).

Don’t get some engrossed in The Punisher that you forget about them and they come out slightly scorched.

Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

I took the venison out of the sous vide and sliced it into chunks. If I had thought about it at the time, I could have crumbed them and give them a quick sizzle in a hot skillet…of even foregone the crumbs and gone straight to the skillet. This would have added a nice golden tinge to the meat…

I served them together as finger food on the same plate – see fuzzy pic above – very filling and very spicy in a good way…one head of cauli would make a decent snack serving for two people…

Another way of tricking your kids into veges…

 

Slow Cooked Red Wine Mushroom Soup

Another Jen Rice creation…I saw this one in my feed a few weeks and read enough to include the makings in my next supermarket shop. Since, it’s just been a case of waiting for a day off as I get dinner supplied at work now – I have a decent breakfast and don’t usually make a bid deal about lunch so other opportunities are a little lacking…

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The soup I made following the recipe…it’s very simple and would be tough to get wrong. I’m kinda over having bread as my only side for soup meals so cast the Google net to see what alternatives I could find.

I found mention of using vege burgers as a side to soups and that reminded me of  this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie . The only change I made was to sub kidney beans for the pinto beans and to dribble my last remnants of block cheese over the top – wasn’t very much so it looks a littler snotty…sorry… I also referred to this site for some tips on cooking quinoa

The recipe make about a dozen of the ‘biscuits’. I though that I would dip them as I would with bread but this soup isn’t thick enough for decent dipping. I ate them as a side: quite tasty and very filling…worked well with the soup which is very rich, tasty and filling.

A simple, tasty dinner with the only time-consuming aspect being the slow cooker phase of the soup…add in a few chunks of beef and this would be an even chunkier soup or the makings of an equally fine stew…

 

Sautéed Honey Mustard Cabbage

This sautéed honey mustard cabbage bowl is a perfect detox breakfast, lunch or dinner. Cabbage is not only insanely good for you but it simply tastes amazing as well.

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Another winner from Jen Rice’s Sugar Soil stable…I’ve included the whole recipe here because I’ve had trouble getting it to show on the Sugar Soil site…very simple, very fast, very yum…

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of apple cider

1 tablespoon of mustard

3 tablespoon of olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons of honey

1/2 head of cabbage chopped into bite-size pieces.

An onion chopped

One large egg

One avocado diced

Directions

Combine the vinegar, mustard, 1 tablespoon olive oil, honey and apple cider together and set aside.

Over a medium heat add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the cabbage and the onion to a skillet and sauté for 5 minutes.

Pour the mustard sauce over the cabbage and mix well, turning the heat to low and cook for about 5-7 more minutes.

While you are cooking the cabbage, fry or poach your egg in another pan.

Place the sautéed cabbage in a bowl with the egg and avocado on top.

Easy as an easy thing…reversing the quantities of honey and mustard will give you the same less sweet and with more of a mustard ‘bite’…

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Yesterday’s leftovers on black rice that I soaked overnight before cooking this morning…I used a very small pan to poach the egg and then realised that I don’t have a scoop small enough to  slide the egg from the pan…hence the semi-deconstructed look…

Of the two variations, I think I prefer the more mustardy version with rice: cabbage, mustard and honey for flavour, avocado of textural contrast and the rice for bulk.

As I type, I notice that I forgot to do the avocado this morning…a mission now for whatever tomorrow’s breakfast will be…

A nutty two in one…three even…

I think this idea first fell from a recipe that popped up in my or a friend’s Facebook feed for no bake cranberry energy bites from Life Made Sweeter

I liked the sound of it – ‘cept the peanut butter part. Almonds I’m reserving for coconut almond milk: it’s getting warmer here and porridge has dropped on the breakfast menu (pending more snow!) in lieu of muesli, which uses more milk.

Looking at the nuts available, sunflower seeds looked promising and a quick Google led me to this recipe at Pretty Prudent. It is so simple. The only crucial ingredient not listed in the recipe is patience: depending on your food processor, it may take a while for the powdered nuts to cream into butter

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Not yet..keep going

….just keep the faith, follow the directions and it will turn out OK. Three cups of seeds = about two cups of sunbutter.

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It’s fairly solid but spreads with care…more oil would make it creamier but compete with the sunflower seed flavour…the solution, as offered in the comments on the original recipe, may be to use sunflower oil for the creaming…

Keeping the butter in the fridge also contributes to the harder consistency and I’m wondering if my Mad Millie Ceramic Butter Keeper will keep it cool to enough to stop it going off too early but warm enough to be more spreadable…

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Why doesn’t someone invent a straight banana…?

Fresh banana and sunbutter on herb bread toast has been part of breakfast the last two mornings. Very filling with an interesting combination of sweet banana and stick nut…nice…but I would probably go for it more if the sunbutter was a little more creamy and a little less sticky – always my one big objection to most peanut butter…I may sub the sunbutter in instead of peanut butter in one of our peanut rice dishes to see how it goes…

So, getting back on track for the energy bites…again a recipe so simple…just follow the directions….too easy…

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My only deviations from the original recipe were subbing in the sunbutter and using almond coconut meal (leftover from almond coconut milk) in lieu of coconut…if you’ve got, I say, use it…

As writ, the recipe is good for about 20-25 bites. They store well in the fridge and are tasty and very filling: ideal for fending off attacks of the munchies…

Next time around, I will double the dried fruit – not necessarily cranberries – and use normal rolled oats instead of the quick cook oats – I just don’t think they add a lot of value – and/or I may sub in a not-oat-based alternative…not because I am particularly concerned about the gluten thing but because, again, I can…

And there you go, an easy three-fer….

Salmon with Spicy Tomato Rice

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Spur of the moment invention dinner…

As part of my green journey, I have been slowly reducing the number of production steps between me and the raw materials. Last week, I used the last can of tomatoes from the pantry and resolved henceforth to only use fresh tomatoes where previously I would have used the canned variety.

Obviously this means a little more planning ahead due to the shelf life of fresh tomatoes v their tinny competition. So the tomatoes I bought last we were starting to scream for attention and tonight was the night. I wanted to do something a bit different and also empty out the freezer a little more – still don’t have much space for frozen soups and TV dinners after giving up the chest freezer in the garage.

I took some salmon steaks out and only once they were committed to defrosting did I stop to consider how tomatoes might figure in tonight’s dining experience. I got some ideas from Google, selecting this one for Mexican tomato rice and beans from Fine Foods as my base.

It looked like – and was – a quick cook so I got the rice on first. Now that the last of the white rice is gone, it’s all brown from here on – I’m using a mix of long and short grain – with black held in reserve for special occasions. The spicy tomato bit has this in it:

  • 1 teaspoon of oil (grapeseed tonight)
  • 6 close of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 generous tablespoon of Jalapenos, also finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of black salt (the colour doesn’t really mean anything)
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1 can of red kidney beans (also the last can)
  • 440 grams of fresh tomatoes, blended
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of oregano
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of coriander powder (will use crushed seeds next time)

I started by frying the garlic and jalapeno in the oil til the flavours were rally strong – about a minute – before stirring in the spices and slat. After a couple of minutes add the tomato and beans, followed by the herbs. If it looks a tad dry, add about half a cup of water (I rinsed  the bean tin into the pan).

Once this is simmering away, I added the salmon steaks, and let it all simmer away until the rice was done.

Nice a simple. Hot and spicy. Brought out a good sweat on a cold wind wet night…

Took out some more fish to do again with the leftovers tomorrow…

 

Say no to sugar taxes

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Drone alert in more ways than one…

Healthy Food Guide reports today that

“A petition calling for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages that collected nearly 10,000 signatures was presented to Maori and Green Party MPs in Parliament last week”

That’s on the HFG site that is so paranoid that it has blocked the right mouse button function to prevent people copying or printing its articles and recipes. Heads up, team, all that does is force people to other sites more friendly (you’re not that unique), to use the browser drop-down menu, and/or just give you a miss: most, if not all of your recipes are available elsewhere (it’s not called the world-wide web for nothing you know)…just Google the recipe title to see if you can’t find the same -or often a better – recipe elsewhere…

But…back to the sugar thing…dear food fun Nazis, please get a grip…taxes don’t stop people using commodities they want to use…increasing taxes hasn’t drastically changed usage stats for spray paint, petrol, alcohol or nicotine, nor, had the legislation been enacted, would it have stopped sheep farting…all taxes on products like these is make them more expense so that people waste more money on them (less the sheep farting – sheep farts will always be free).

If you really want to stop people using something, then ban it and make it totally unavailable, except of course, for the bootleg and black market alternatives that will spring into existence the second the ban goes into effect. Bans – certainly where the market mass is most of the population – are rarely (not really!!) effective.

Ongoing effective education is the solution. Not anti-sugar propaganda because even kids can see through that. Tell it like it is. Put the truth – not truth, not your truth – out there. Be first with the truth. It’s not perfect but have a read of That Sugar Story anyway. Damon Gameau is a bit OTT at times but his basic premise is pretty good and pretty healthy – and you don’t need any laws or taxes to make it work. Consume less sugar. Avoid hidden sugars: quick tip, if it’s in a plastic wrapper that says it’s healthy, don’t touch it…you DON’T have to give up food fun to be healthy…there’s more to healthy food than water and lentils …

(lentils get a bad rap sometimes)

Stop trying to protect everyone from themselves. Nanny-stating has an opposite effect in the long term: instead of protecting the people from themselves, the increasing absence of challenge turns them into mindless drones incapable of applying judgement, solving problems or thinking for themselves.

I caught up with an old friend last week – someone who I had not physically seen 2007 but whom the miracle of Facebook had kept me in touch with. She made the very telling comment that the more support services we offer, the more people demand AND the less capable they become of thinking and fending for themselves. More and more people expect everyone to be nice to them and for ‘someone else’ to doing all think and supporting for them as well…

The truth is that sometimes life throws up challenges; life is sometimes a bit hard; things do not always go according to plan. ‘The people’ need to make their own decisions and accept the consequences of those decisions. They need to be given opportunities every day to exercise and practise those skills. Taking away their ability, indeed their right, to make lifestyle decisions for them and their families doesn’t make us smarter or healthier as a nation…

Look askance at any politician babbling in support of a sugar tax…

 

Winter solstice dinner

Still no snow this winter…we did have a bit of a teaser dump mid-May but nothing that stuck around…21 June was the shortest day. We have a largish expat community here, mainly outdoorsy types like guides and ski field staffies, who get a bit homesick for a winter Christmas dinner so we did one, bring a plate style…

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My opted plate was Christmas pudding, the unhealthier the better, and who better for unhealthy culinary fun but Nigella. This is her ultimate Christmas pudding, made exactly as per the recipe except I for got on the day to make the whiskey sauce…I guess we’ll just have to do this again so we can see how that goes…

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It is rich as, mainly sherry-soaked fruit with about half a cup each of flour and breadcrumbs to tie it all together and steamed for a total of eight hours: five hours for the initial cook, then three hours to warm for dinner itself – in the interim, Nigella says it will store nice on a dark shelf for months…

…and yes…we did set fire to it – with four firefighters in attendance – next time I will serve it on a more dished plate so that the surplus fuel pools there and not on the table…

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It burnses, it burnses….