0

Friday Feast: Cranberry Pecan Bread Pudding

A few weeks ago, I was looking through the cupboard and fridge thinking about what food I needed to use up. I try to avoid wasting food. If you want to know more about why, have a look on the Wasted Food blog, cos Jonathan Bloom lists a bunch of reasons.

Anyway, I found half a stale baguette, some pecans that were on their last legs (or would have been, if pecans had legs), and some apples. The baguette was like a rock – there was no eating that unless it was significantly softened somehow, which prompted me to think of a bread pudding. However, I was never the biggest fan of the kinds of bread puddings I had as a kid. They were made of white sandwich loaf (too soft, which made for a soggy pudding), with milk, eggs, sugar and sultanas. I’m not big on sultanas in sweet food, although I love them in curry. My childhood memory was not what I wanted for a bread pudding. (Sorry Mum and Dad, I know you like it, but it’s not my style.) So I hunted down a new recipe.

My google-fu did not fail me, and I found a recipe for Cranberry Pecan Bread Pudding in the Dairy Free Cooking section of About.com. There seems to be some good stuff there, so it’s worth having a look. I tweaked the recipe quite a bit (halving it, then increasing some ingredients, reducing others, swapping nutmeg for cardamom), but I’m really happy with the end result. It’s American tasting (hello cranberries, apples and pecans), but it’s got a special little something something that makes it unlike the typical American fare (probably the ginger and cardamom). The consistency was soft, but not soggy, and the nuts added a lovely bite.

I actually made it with only a quarter of a chopped apple, but I couldn’t taste it at all, so I’ve increased it to a whole apple in the recipe below. I increased the pecans too – I used only a third of a cup, but Yankee Elv insisted it needed more. Otherwise, she loved this pudding though – and so did I!

Cranberry Pecan Bread Pudding


Ingredients

  • 4.5 cups stale bread, cut into 1.5cm (about half an inch) cubes
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (currants might be a good alternative if you prefer them)
  • 1 apple, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup  pecans, chopped or crumbled
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom (or you could use nutmeg)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups plain non-dairy milk (I used soy)
  • 1 tab vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup liquid sweetener (I used agave nectar)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (about 350°F).
  2. Lightly oil a medium-sized heatproof dish (such as a pyrex dish) and set it aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, cranberries, apple, pecans, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and salt until well mixed.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the non-dairy milk, vegetable oil and liquid sweetener until well combined.
  5. Allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes, so all the bread is soaked. The liquid should be almost gone.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and bake until mostly firm and golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes.
  7. Serve warm with non-dairy custard (which I make the same way as dairy custard, just with soy milk. Please note: there are no eggs in my custard, ever!)

Share

3

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!

Share

0

Friday Feast: Quinoa-stuffed Butternut Pumpkin

Today’s recipe is a bit of a quirky one that I made up a few months ago and perfected this Thanksgiving. I really wanted to try out quinoa, a grain commonly eaten in Peru and really protein-rich (great for folks who are after low-carb meals). It’s about the size of couscous, so I figured making it into a stuffing would be a great idea.

Quinoa - it looks sort of like couscous, but it's a protein-rich grain

Quinoa - it looks sort of like couscous, but it's a protein-rich grain

Here’s the recipe!

Quinoa-stuffed Butternut Pumpkin (Squash)

Quinoa-stuffed butternut pumpkins (squash)

Quinoa-stuffed butternut pumpkins (squash)

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut pumpkin, cut in half with the seeds and some flesh scooped out
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 apples, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced (you can also include the chopped celery leaves)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped well
  • 1 handful of broken pecans
  • 1 small handful of craisins (dried, sweetened cranberries)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
Celery, onion and apples - oh my!

Celery, onion and apples - oh my!

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Rub pumpkins all over with olive oil and place cut side up in a roasting or casserole dish. Rub some brown sugar on the cut areas. Place in the oven until the pumpkins are justsoft enough to pierce with a fork, but still firm enough to easily hold their shape.
  3. Meanwhile, place quinoa and vegetable stock in a pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer with a lid for 10 to 12 mins. Remove from the stove and set aside, covered (the liquid will absorb).
  4. Pour some olive oil into a large frying pan and add the veges/fruit as you chop – celery, onion and apple. Add salt and pepper, then cook for 10 to 15 mins to soften the vegetables/fruit.
  5. Add the parsley, celery leaves (if using), pecans and craisins, and cook for 2 mins more, til the greens wilt and the craisins plump up a little.
  6. Remove from the heat and add the quinoa.
  7. Tightly stuff the pumpkins with the quinoa mixture, cover the dish with foil and return to the oven. Cook for approximately 30 mins.
  8. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 mins, unless the pumpkin is soft.
Pecans, parsley and craisins, ready to go into the pan.

Pecans, parsley and craisins, ready to go into the pan.

Let me know what you think!

Share

0

Friday Feast: Apricot and Cashew Stir-Fry

This is an old recipe my mum used to make back in the 90s – fruity stir-fries were so in back then, like casseroles had been in the 80s. Her recipe included chicken though, so I substituted by including more veges and some nuts. It’s sweet and saucy, but not too sweet – sometimes it’s just what you’re looking for!

Apricot and Cashew Stir-Fry

Apricot and Cashew Stir-Fry

Apricot and Cashew Stir-fry

Ingredients:
[sauce]
400mL can apricot nectar
35g packet french onion soup mix (the dry, powdery kind you add to water to make soup)
[stir-fry]
vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, sliced (or approx 8 baby carrots)
1/2 red capsicum, coarsely chopped
4 shallots, sliced
6 (approx) button mushrooms, chopped
1 large handful snow peas, chopped into roughly 1 inch pieces
1 large handful dried apricots, chopped into quarters
2 regular handfuls cashews
cooked rice (enough to accompany veges/sauce)

Method:

  1. Make the sauce: mix apricot nectar and french onion soup mix together in a microwave safe bowl/container. Cover loosely (so that steam can escape) and cook for 10 mins on HIGH, stirring twice throughout. (If it doesn’t thicken to your liking (some soup mixes are less powdery than others and that can affect it) then you can whisk in a little cornflour/cornstarch, or cook for longer).
  2. After sauce is ready, heat oil in a wok/pan/pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onions and fry until they become soft and just start to brown.
  4. Add carrots and fry for several mins.
  5. Add remaining ingredients except nuts and rice. Stir-fry for approx 5 mins.
  6. Add cashews and fry for several mins. (Nuts should no longer be dry, shallots should be wilted, apricots should look squishier).
  7. Add sauce and bring to boil, stirring constantly.
  8. Remove from heat and serve with cooked rice.

Share