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Friday Feast: Quinoa Biscuits (Cookies)

I would like to declare that I am absolutely dreadful at baking biscuits (cookies). I’m not sure why; I can bake pretty much everything else, but biscuits just stump me. Even when I follow the recipe exactly, they still come out stuck to the pan or something. However, this recipe (which I got from the back of a packet of Nature’s First Organic Quinoa Flakes) worked fine the first time! If you’re having trouble with the biscuits sticking to the pan, increase the size of your cookies or decrease the cooking time. This worked for me.

I liked that these biscuits were somewhat lower GI than regular biscuits (the quinoa increasing the protein), and I made them even more so by changing the flour to rice and spelt. The original recipe called for wheat flour. The liquid sweetener you use will also impact the GI of the biscuits, as will the type of sugar you use, and how much optional stuff you include (for example, including the cashews will increase the protein/fat quotient per biscuit, which in turn will make them lower GI). It’s a whole complicated thing. I don’t mean to sound obsessive, but for health reasons, it seems it’s better for me to eat lower GI, so I’m doing my best to consider that at all times!

Anyway, I now present to you…

Quinoa Biscuits (Cookies)

Quinoa biscuits

Quinoa biscuits.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup liquid sweetener (the original recipe called for honey, which I used because I wanted to use the last of our honey up)
  • 1/3 cup sugar (I used low GI sugar)
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine (I always use Nuttelex)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I used smooth, but I bet crunchy adds a little something something)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence (I used imitation, and it was fine)
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda (baking soda)
  • 3/4 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1/8 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cashews (or other nuts – optional)
  • 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F).
  2. Beat honey, sugar, margarine, peanut butter and vanilla essence until creamy.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flours, quinoa flakes, bicarbonate soda and salt (if using). Add to wet ingredients, beating well until blended.
  4. Place heaped teaspoonfuls approximately 5cm (2″) apart on an ungreased baking tray.
  5. Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from tray; continue to cool on a cake rack before storing.
quinoa cookies

Mmm... tasty quinoa biscuits!

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Friday Feast: Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Here comes the latest recipe… it’s a cross between a slice, a cookie and a granola bar – it’s Oatmeal Cookie Bars! I’ve just veganised these tasty treats, which wasn’t too hard. They’ve come out a little more crumbly than their non-vegan versions, but that could also be because I used gluten-free flour and baked them about ten minutes longer than usual (I momentarily forgot they were in the oven).

Regardless of any mishap, they’re still super tasty. Eat them fresh from the oven (be careful you don’t burn your mouth on the cranberries, which seem to get to a scalding temperature), cold the next day, or re-heated in the microwave. I used to eat these with ice-cream in my non-vegan days (as if they were so long ago!), so if you’re into vegan ice-cream, that could be a winner too. I’m going to try them with this new vegan cream I bought last week… I hope it’s good!

Oatmeal Cookie Bars

A slice of Oatmeal Cookie Bar, half crumbled on the plate. Look at the cranberries and that chunk of vegan white chocolate - yum!

A slice of Oatmeal Cookie Bar, half crumbled on the plate. Look at the cranberries and that chunk of vegan white chocolate - yum!

Ingredients:

  • 230g (0.5lb or 2 sticks) vegan margarine (I use Nuttelex)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (I used LoGIcane – a low GI version of cane sugar)
  • Egg substitute, equivalent to 2 eggs (I used Orgran Egg Replacer)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (imitation is ok)
  • 1/2 cups plain (aka all purpose) flour (I used 1/2 cup each of wholemeal spelt, barley and Orgran’s gluten-free flours)
  • 1 tsp bi-carb soda (aka baking soda)
  • 1/2 tsp salt – optional
  • 1 tsp cinnamon – optional
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup sultanas or dried cranberries (I used the latter this time, but sometimes I do half and half)
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used 1/2 cup each of Sweet Williams chocolate chips and chopped Sweet Williams white chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of desiccated coconut

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Beat margarine and sugars until creamy (it’s ok to do this by hand).
  3. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well (still ok by hand..).
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour(s), bi-carb soda, cinnamon and salt.
  5. Mix the aforementioned dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
  6. Add oats, sultanas/dried cranberries, chocolate chips and desiccated coconut, and mix well.
  7. Press into a greased baking tray or dish (I use a square pyrex dish) and bake for 30-35mins*.

*You can also use this recipe for cookies, rather than cookie bars – if so, shape into cookies, place on a tray and bake for 10 to 12 mins.

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Friday Feast: Roasted Vegetable Tart

This recipe comes from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook, from bay books (apparently there is no author or editor). Yankee Elv and I got it for Christmas one year, and like so many of our cookbooks, have only tried a few different meals from it. We tend to find something we like and eat it lots. Plus, time is at a premium and some days you just want to cook easy things.

This dish, whilst easy, is a bit time-consuming. It is super tasty though, and there’s enough that you’ll definitely have leftovers. I recommend giving it a try! Cooking this meal is also a great opportunity to roast some extra veges and just eat them by themselves… maybe with a bit of salt, or on pizza. Roasted butternut pumpkin (squash) with shallots (green onions) on pizza is awesome – especially when the pumpkin is squishy and soft!

Roasted Vegetable Tart

Roasted Vegetable Tart, ready to go in the oven.

Roasted Vegetable Tart, ready to go in the oven.

Ingredients
Filling
2 Lebanese eggplants, cut into thick slices (halved if they’re fat eggplants)
350g pumpkin, chopped
2 zucchini, halved and cut into thick slices
1 to 2 tabs olive oil
1 large red capsicum, chopped
1 tsp olive oil, extra
1 red onion, cut into thin wedges
1 tab korma curry paste (we make our own using the sauce base, sans coconut milk, from our Chana Masala recipe)

Pastry
1.5 cups plain flour
125g butter, chopped
2/3 cup (100g) roasted cashews, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds (or ground cumin)
2 – 3 tabs chilled water

Method
1. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F).
2. Brush eggplant, zucchini and pumpkin with oil and bake in a tray for 30 mins. Turn, add capsicum, and bake for another 30 mins. Cool.
3. Meanwhile, heat the extra oil in a pan and cook the onion for 2 to 3 mins, or til soft.
4. Add curry paste and cook (stirring), for 1 min or until fragrant and well mixed. Cool.
5. Reduce the oven to 180°C (350°F).
6. Make the pastry:

  • Sift flour into a large bowl.
  • Rub in butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in cashews and cumin seeds.
  • Make a well in centre and add water.
  • Mix with a knife, using a cutting action, til mixture comes together in beads.
  • Gather dough together and place on a sheet of baking paper.
  • Flatten into a disc, then roll out to a 35cm (14″) circle.

7. Place pastry on a tray and spread onion mixture over it, leaving a wide border.
8. Add other veges over the onion, piling them higher in the centre.
9. Work your way around, folding the edges of the pastry up over the outer veges.

Work your way around, folding the pastry over the outer veges.

Work your way around, folding the pastry over the outer veges.

10. Bake for 45 mins, or until pastry is golden.
11. Serve immediately (but it’s also good reheated the next day).

Roasted Vegetable Tart, ready to eat. Yum!

Roasted Vegetable Tart, ready to eat. Yum!

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Friday Feast: Chocolate Slice

I love chocolate slice. I first made it grade 8 home economics, and it’s been a win ever since.

Items of Note:
I find that because ovens vary, the same recipe can turn out soft, or hard, or in between depending upon the oven you’re cooking it in. I tend to just check on it a lot (unless I know the oven well) and when it feels good to me then I’ll pull it out. It will seem too soft when it first comes out but it firms up as it cools. You’ll probably stuff it up the first time, but even if it’s too hard or soft it still tastes great and the next time you’ll know what not to do… and then you’ll have perfect chocolate slice! It’s also really easy to make.

By the way, you want to use desiccated coconut, not the moist, sweetened shredded kind that’s most commonly used in America. It’s too big and too sweet – just not right. You can usually find desiccated coconut in health food stores over there. In Australia, desiccated is the one most people use anyway, so just pick it up from anywhere.

Chocolate Slice

Chocolate Slice

Chocolate Slice

Ingredients:
190 grams margarine (I haven’t tried it with nuttelex but it shouldn’t make a difference)
1 1/2 cups dessicated coconut
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3 tabs cocoa

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Melt butter/margarine on the stove or in the microwave.
3. Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl.
4. Pour margarine into the dry mixture and mix well.
5. Press mixture into a slab tin/tray.
6. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.
7. Ice with chocolate icing while still warm. Sprinkle with dessicated coconut or mini m&m’s.
8. Slice while warm and somewhat soft, remove from tray when cool and harder.

If you want to know how to make the icing, here’s a basic recipe. You might need slightly less or more icing sugar or milk, but just experiment until you get the consistency you want. It’s roughly right. Keep in mind that this icing will taste rich, but it’s the perfect chocolate slice icing.

Icing

Ingredients
2 cups icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
1 1/2 tabs cocoa
1 to 2 tabs soy milk

Method:
1. Mix icing sugar, cocoa and milk in a bowl until smooth and sticky.
2. Spread carefully over chocolate slice while it’s still in the pan, before slicing, but while it’s still warm.

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