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Magic Jelly Blog

Life is nuts, nuts, nuts right now! We’ve got so much going on, it’s crazy. And my laptop is dead, my phone is dead, I can’t find my camera and my iPad takes shitty photos, which is why I haven’t shared pictures of the awesome Mulberry Cobbler I made last week. I will, when I can get the photos off my phone, which I had to use to take the photos because I can’t find my camera (I think it’s in the spare room, which is still unpacked even though we moved here over a year ago), and my iPad takes shitty photos. As I previously mentioned.

So anyway, this is a picture-free post. I just had to share though. I found this Magic Jelly blog today and I’m so excited I could cry! So many vegan recipes and they are all things I’ve been wanting to try, and written by an Australian so I don’t have to faff around trying to find ingredient substitutions.

There is cashew whipped cream, people. Made without coconut or tofu. You do not understand my excitement. Whipped. Cream. *squeals*

Go there and look: http://magicjelly.com.au/blog/

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Friday Feast: Vegan Barszcz (Borscht)

I recently took Yankee Elv’s surname (we were civilly unionised earlier this year) and so now I sound like I’m authentically Polish, even though I haven’t a Polish bone in my body. The closest I come is a Russian/Finnish Jew about five generations back. Not quite the same.

Anyway, I was determined to be a good Polish wife, so I learned how to make Polish beetroot soup. This beet soup was originally eaten in the Ukraine, but it spread all over Eastern Europe during the middle ages. In Poland it’s traditionally eaten with uszkami (or sometimes over pierogi), but we just had it plain or with pieces of rye toast (using King Henry Bakehouse rye bread, which is locally produced, vegan and made with 100% rye flour). Once I had it with herbed, roasted button squash. The flavours were very complementary.

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Obviously my version of barszcz is a vegan version, which was surprisingly not that hard to do. Barszcz is a primarily vegetable soup anyway, I just had to swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock, leave out the optional ham hock and not serve it with a dollop of sour cream. Otherwise, it was good to go. That makes sense I guess considering it was a soup traditionally eaten by the lower classes and filled with cheap, abundant veges.

I came up with this recipe myself, but it’s based on this vegan borscht recipe and this more traditional red borscht soup recipe. I pureed half the batch and left the other half chunky to see which I liked better. I’m normally a smooth soup person, but I really enjoyed the bursts of concentrated flavour I got when eating the pieces in the chunky soup, so I actually liked it both ways.

The real test was Yankee Elv, who grew up eating Polish food. She says it doesn’t have the sour tang that most barszczs have (usually from fermented beets, vinegar or pickling juices), but that she loves the earthy flavours. It’s different to what I’m used to as an Aussie – I eat a lot of strongly flavoured Italian, Asian and Indian foods, plus Mexican after my time in Texas (it’s steadily becoming more popular here now). The flavours in this soup are more subtle; you can taste the herbs and vegetables clearly, but they meld gently together and no one takes precedence over another. Yankee Elv’s description – earthy – is a good one. She says it tastes like the earth smells after rain. Give it a go for yourself and see what you think.

Vegan Barszcz

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Ingredients:

  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 leek, cleaned and finely sliced
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 small-medium beetroot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 6 to 8 button or cap mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (broth)
  • 1 tab lemon juice
  • 2 tabs apple cider vinegar (add more if you want that sour flavour)
  • approx 1/4 cup of fresh dill, chopped (stems removed)
  • approx 1/4 cup (generous) of fresh parsley, chopped (stems removed)
  • 2 tsp dried thyme (can use fresh if you want, but use more as the flavour is more concentrated when dry)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 400g can butter beans (or other white bean)

Method:

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large pot. Saute the leek, onions and garlic over medium heat until soft.
  2. Add beetroot and parsnip and saute for another 5 mins.
  3. Add mushrooms and vegetable stock and lower the heat. Simmer, covered, for 30 to 40 mins, stirring occasionally.
  4. Taste broth, then add desired amounts of the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 10 mins more, or until beetroot is tender.
  5. If you want to puree some or all, let it cool for 10 mins, then puree with a stick blender (immersion blender).
  6. You can serve it as is, with rye bread, vegetables, vegan sour cream, pierogi, uszkami, sauerkraut, pasta or however else you like!
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Friday Feast: Vegan Okonomiyaki

I tried something new today: vegan okonomiyaki! I’ve never had it before, but let me tell you, it was okonomiyummy! Or maybe I should say okonomnomnom?

Oh come on, I had to go there.

So anyway… now I’m past the bad dad jokes…

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese fritter type of thing (some say pancake, some say pizza, I say big fritter), which is traditionally made with eggs and meat/seafood. However, Sara Lynn Paige shared a vegan recipe that looked so good, I thought I’d try it. Okonomiyaki means ‘as you like it’ in Japanese, so outside the basic recipe, you have a lot of leeway as to what you put in it. You can have it, you know… as you like it. I put in two cups of greens/veges, whereas I think Sara Lynn Paige must have only had about 1 cup of veges, based on her pictures. Mine looked like there was a lot more green. It also took lots longer to cook (maybe I had the heat on too low though). However, the end result was still ultimately yummy, if a little less perfect looking. Here’s what I did:

Vegan Okonomiyaki

okonomiyaki

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup of non-dairy milk or water (I used a mix of oat milk and water)
  • 1 egg replacer (I used Orgran’s)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 to 2 cups minced greens or other fillings (I used 3/4 cup of raw spinach, 1/2 cup of stir-fried celery leaves, 1/4 cup of raw shallots [scallions], 1/2 cup of diced cooked red onions and celery, and approx 1/4 cup diced honey soy marinated tofu)
  • Toppings – optional (I pressed slices of honey soy tofu skin into the moist surface of the fritter as soon as I put it in the pan and I sprinkled chives on top of the finished product to serve)

Method:

  1. Mix the ingredients (except toppings and oil) in a bowl. Do not overmix.
  2. Heat some vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Put some batter in the pan so it makes a thick pancake (about 1cm thick). This should use approximately half the batter you made.
  4. Let the okonomiyaki cook until you start to get a few little bubbles on the surface, then flip it and cook the other side. You might need to flip back and forth a few times until you get a crisp brownish surface. (The original recipe said 3 to 5 mins. I took more like 10-12 mins.)
  5. Remove from the pan and pat the oil off if you want.
  6. Serve with additional toppings and sauce if you want. (I tried with teriyaki sauce on some bites and sweet chili sauce on others. Good for both, although the teriyaki sauce is quite salty.)
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Friday Feast: Mango Pico de Gallo

This home-made salsa is based on a mango pico de gallo we used to eat when we lived in Texas. It was my first foray into pico de gallo ever (I know! But I’m Australian and it’s not something we typically eat here.). It was from HEB. Don’t look like that. It was good! Especially with those Tostitos cups or fresh made tortillas. You can’t get fresh made tortillas in Brisbane unless you make them yourself. I miss them. I miss Tostitos cups too.

I eat this pico de gallo piled on Mission corn chips/strips which I heat in the oven. In my pre-vegan days, I’d put cheese on top, but I find that it doesn’t taste that different. The heated corn chips add a really rustic flavour to the bright salsa. I also sometimes eat the salsa as an accompaniment to beans and rice. Or as a dip. Or on a spoon.

Yankee Elv has a weird genetic thing that makes coriander (cilantro) taste like soap, so we substitute parsley for coriander. However, if you don’t have that weird genetic thing, you like coriander and you’d like to be authentic, then that’s what should really be used.

Mango Pico de Gallo

Ingredients:

  • 2 mangoes, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 5 – 6 tomatoes, with the cores discarded and the outer flesh diced for use
  • 2 green chilis, diced finely (include the seeds if you like more heat)
  • 1 red chili, diced finely (include the seeds if you like more heat)
  • a handful of chopped parsley leaves
  • lime juice, to taste

Method:

  1. Stir all the chopped fruit/veges together in a bowl.
  2. Add the parsley and lime juice and combine.

THE END! Easiest recipe ever. 🙂

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Friday Feast: Pickled Watermelon Rind

It’s almost summer here in Australia, which means it’s time to eat watermelon! I like to use my handy dandy melon baller so I can eat it with a fork. I know, it’s kinda un-Australian to not eat it in great big slices and get it all over your face… but I don’t really like getting sticky. If someone builds me a swimming pool to jump into after eating it, maybe I’ll change my method.

Anyway, I was eating watermelon the other day and after I’d removed all the lovely pink flesh of the melon, I was left with the rind, and I remembered reading about a Southern (as in the South, in the USA) snack – pickled watermelon rind. I don’t mind regular pickles, but I’m not as in love with them as my Polish-American partner, so I wasn’t sure I wanted to eat the pickled rind of quarter of a watermelon… but I figured I might as well give it a try at least once. Everyone raved about them, so why not?

Well, I gotta tell you, pickled watermelon rind is yummy! It’s crunchy and cool and refreshing – a perfect snack for hot weather, and it’s not super sweet. Most cold foods are sweet. This one is vinegary,  but a little sweet from the sugar. It’s nice for a change. And I really like the crunch!

I chose the absolutely easiest watermelon pickle recipe I could find. Others call for certain herbs, or soaking the rind overnight – stuff like that. Since I wasn’t even sure I would like them, I was going for minimum effort. I think this actually was a great idea. The simplicity of the flavours is part of what I really like about these pickles. Plus they’re quick and easy, and they use up something I’d normally discard. I just changed the vinegar to apple cider vinegar cos that’s what I had in the cupboard.

So now that I’ve raved… here’s the recipe.

Pickled Watermelon Rind

pickled watermelon rind

Ingredients

  • Watermelon rind (from a quarter of a big melon)
  • 1 very scant cup of water
  • 1 very scant up of apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup caster sugar

Method:

  1. Cut the watermelon rind into small chunks, about 1 to 2 inches in size. Make sure you remove the green skin.
  2. Stir the water, vinegar and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Add the watermelon rind and stir.
  4. Turn off the stove, but leave the saucepan on the hotplate. Let the rind sit until it reaches room temperature.
  5. Place rind and as much brine as you can fit in a jar(s) and put them in the fridge.
  6. Eat them right away or save them for a bit in the fridge. Remember, these haven’t been properly sterilised and sealed, so they’re not shelf-safe. You should eat them within a few weeks at most and keep them in the fridge.

pickled watermelon rind in a small jar

Note: swish your mouth with water after eating, because it’s not good for your teeth to let acidic foods like vinegar sit on the enamel.

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Friday Feast: Pumpkin Pie Spice Muffin Tops

These were meant to be cookies. I followed the recipe completely! But they’re way too cakey. They don’t look like the picture in the recipe I veganised. I don’t know what happened… maybe it’s cos I made my own pumpkin puree*? Or could it have been the veganisation? I don’t think it was due to my reduction in white chocolate chips or making my own pumpkin pie spice (you can’t buy it in Australia!).

Anyway, regardless of whether or not they turned out how they were supposed to, they taste good. Just call ’em muffin tops and eat ’em all up!

This recipe makes about 36 cookies.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Muffin Tops

three pumpkin pie spice muffin tops

Ingredients:

  • 2-¼ cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsps pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup vegan margarine, softened
  • 1 cup white/raw sugar (we used low GI cane sugar, which is similar to raw sugar)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (I made my own from a grey pumpkin)
  • egg replacer for a whole egg (we used Orgran’s No Egg)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (imitation is fine)
  • 1 cup vegan white chocolate chips (or chunks, in our case – we cut up some vegan white chocolate)
pumpkin pie spice muffin tops
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Cream the margarine and sugars.
  4. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla to the wet ingredients and combine thoroughly.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
  6. When all ingredients are combined, stir in the chocolate chips.
  7. Drop small spoonfuls (slightly heaped teaspoonfuls) of dough on a non-stick cookie sheet, then place in the fridge for 5 to 10 mins before baking.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
  9. Cool for a couple minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.
pointy pumpkin pie spice muffin top
*To make my own pumpkin puree, I removed the seeds and stringy parts from the centre of half a grey pumpkin. After that, I rubbed it with olive oil and baked it, cut-side down, in a pyrex dish. I took the pumpkin out of the oven when it was really soft, then I removed the skin and pureed it using a stick blender. I put it in a strainer to drain a little, but the puree was too thin and it started to go through the strainer. I did get some excess liquid out, but you’d be better off using cheesecloth if you want to do this. I decided not to bother.
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Friday Feast: Chewy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

On Halloween night, while Yankee Elv and I were waiting for trick-or-treaters, we decided to make biscuits. I mean, cookies. Since they were American style, they can be cookies just this once.

We made two types: chewy chocolate chip and pumpkin pie spice with white chocolate chips. The latter turned out too cakey. The flavour is great, but the texture is not right. However, if you think of them as something other than cookies (such as muffin tops), then they are super yummy. As for the former – the chocolate chip cookies – well, they’re only the most super awesome vegan cookies I’ve ever tasted.

So, here’s the recipe. We didn’t really change it much; but we did reduce the number of chocolate chips. Admittedly, this was only because we didn’t have enough chocolate chips… We actually changed the method more than the ingredients. Clearly we made smaller cookies, cos we ended up with 48 rather than the 25-30 the recipe said it would make. Also, to get a great texture and shape, Yankee Elv puts the tray full of unbaked cookies in the fridge for 5-10 minutes before placing it in the oven. This really helps for some reason and is not a trick I’ve ever used before. This may be why I’m typically bad at baking cookies. But these ones turned out great (thanks YE).

Chewy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate chip cookies on a plate

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of softened vegan margarine
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white/raw sugar (we used low GI cane sugar, which is kinda like raw sugar)
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (imitation is fine)
  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 300g vegan chocolate chips (the original recipe called for 12oz)
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. In a large bowl, cream the margarine, sugar and brown sugar.
  3. Slowly stir in the non-dairy milk.
  4. Add the vanilla essence.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda.
  6. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir well.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  8. Drop small spoonfuls (slightly heaped teaspoonfuls) onto non-stick cookie sheets and refrigerate each tray for 5 to 10 minutes before placing them in the oven.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, until you can lift them off the tray with a spatula. Then place them on a cooling rack until they’re cool. Make sure you eat some while they’re warm though!
chocolate chip cookies all in a big stack on top of each other (like a tower)