Pumpkin cake

A few days ago, we baked a nice pumpkin in the oven and one of the sides disappeared on that same day. But we managed to keep the other side to be used in a cake. Oh, this cake was so amazing… Imagine how good it was that my family congratulated me for such a good cake. An important point to mention is that they are rather strict with the absence of eggs, milk, butter or other products in cakes. Right now I believe that is because they know that something is missing when it is cooked by me, not because they actually notice it.

 

The recipe that I followed can be found over at the Fat free vegan blog. Due to the limited products that I had on hand, I modified the recipe in almost every step. I added a cookie crust to the bottom and simply mixed the pumpkin puree with some veggie milk and regular flour. I added some cinnamon and baking powder and I think that was all. No worries if you don’t have all the different flours, it will simply work if you give it more time in the oven.

Endive stamppot

Winter is approaching, so stamppot season is upon us. For those of you unfamiliar with Dutch “cuisine”, stamppot is one of the traditional winter dishes, when nights are long and it’s cold outside. Stamppot is not so much a particular recipe, but it refers to the preparation: mashing (“stampen” means to mash). In particular, mashing any combination of boiled potatoes with vegetables in a single pot can be called stamppot. Classic recipes recipes involve carrots and onions, endive, kale, string beans, and sauerkraut. There is even one with apples, dubbed “hot lightning” (hete bliksem), which retains a lot of heat because of the large amount of water in the apples.

The basic recipe involves boiling the potatoes, boiling the vegetables (either in the same pot or in a separate one), and mash them together with some butter or oil. In the Netherlands they’re usually served with a particular kind of sausage, or may contains small pieces of bacon. For visitors it might be hard to actually try stamppot, as 1) there are only very few restaurants serving classic Dutch food which is not fastfood (“Why go out for dinner and pay x times as much for something I know how to cook at home” seems to be a common Dutch mentality), and 2) stamppot is such an unglamorous dish I’m sure many restaurants would think twice before putting it on the menu (except perhaps in places geared exclusively towards tourists). Which begs the question, anybody had a good stamppot in a restaurant?

We made an endive stamppot, with boiled endive (another variation is to toss in the endive only at the end, which keeps it more or less raw and crunchy). Instead of meat we opted for falafel, as stamppot without a substitute for the meat tends to be a bit boring.

 

Chickpeas and chard stew

I want to share one fact that I learned today, did you ever think about how chickpeas grow? This is one of the beans that I love the most… So good, so fleshy…  I definitively love them, however I never stopped to think about how they grow in a plant or how are they collected. So basically, the plant is pretty small (like the strawberry one), and the chickpeas grow one by one, each in a different pod. Somehow I have always imagined that the chickpeas were as fava beans, peas, or other beans, several seeds growing in the same pod. I believe that it would take a long time to harvest them in the old times. Nowadays, they are harvested with machines and let to dry for a long time. Later, the pod is removed and the chickpeas are packaged. This is a very short summary of what we read, so if you are more curious, check for more information and let us know other facts that you find in your search.

Today’s recipe is one of the traditional ways to cook chickpeas in Spain. It is known as chickpeas with sauce, literal translation for “Cigrons en salsa”.

Ingredients:

  • 250g of chickpeas
  • 200g of chard or spinach
  • 10 raw almonds
  • 4 garlic gloves
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika powder
  • salt to taste
  • optional: some bread and some potatoes

Procedure:

After keeping the chickpeas in water overnight, put them with the chopped chard or spinach in a pressure cooker with some water. If you never used a pressure cooker, check some instructions on-line to add the right amount of water. Later, in a frying pan with some olive oil add the almonds and the garlic and fry them until golden. Mash them in tiny pieces and add them to the pressure cooker. In the same pan, add the smoked paprika and the tomatoes and cook them for 4 min, and then add them to the rest of ingredients. Close the pressure cooker and cook for 25min. Some people add potato cubes or some bread crumbs to thicken the sauce.

Look at the huge size of the chick peas, they are about the size of my thumbnail. They are so fleshy and the texture is so great,  yummy …, usually I buy them in Spain because I never found this variety around The Netherlands.

Pumpkin season is back!

We noticed that a lot of Vegan MoFo posts were already including pumpkin or squash as an ingredient. Of course, the pumpkin season also started in Europe so why not write a post about it. I believe that pumpkins are used in pastry or breads as in many places and this month Vegan MoFo comes with a great deal of delicious recipes.

The way that we prepared the pumpkin is rather simple, it is simply cut in half and without adding any sugar or anything else, it is baked for around 40min in the oven. As a kid, this is how I remember eating pumpkin. It would always stay in the kitchen and from time to time you would go and eat a piece until it would be finished, usually not a long time. The variety of pumpkin in Spain is one of the sweetest that I ever found, anywhere. In Portugal, they cook mostly soups with pumpkin, however that variety is not that sweet. In The Netherlands, you can find all sort of varieties to cook with them, but still never as sweet as this one. I am completely in love with the orange color that the pumpkin acquires just after being baked. Yummy yummy, how long will this piece last, …. not much! :- )

 

Later, I will bake a delicious pumpkin cake, hopefully I will post some photos.

 

Surprisingly tasty vegetable: the Turnip

Today we made a nice oven dish with a vegetable that is rather uncommon in the Netherlands nowadays: the turnip. It’s a root vegetable that is surprisingly tasty, although the flavor is rather subtle. We combined it with potatoes and onions in a gratin dish, spiced up with some nutmeg and dill, and covered by béchamel sauce.

And this is what the turnips looked like before they were sliced and put in the oven…

Although not common in the Netherlands, turnips are being prepared in different ways along the Mediterranean sea. This combination with potatoes is common in Italy or Spain. In these counties, it is used as well as a vegetable in rice dishes and broths.

Wholemeal bread with pumpkin seeds

Here in the Netherlands bread is serious business, as well as in some other European countries. People often eat sandwiches for breakfast as well as for lunch, and since not much goes in between the slices of bread, the bread had better be tasty! It’s interesting to note that in other countries such as Portugal it’s actually the other way around, where lunch and dinner are basically the same type of hot meal. Often in those countries it’s hard to get a nice loaf of bread to make sandwiches. A good thing of bread is that many of them are vegan, or otherwise relatively easy to veganize. So we’ll start off Vegan Mofo 2011 with a nice wholesome bread.

 

 

 

 
Recently we acquired River Cottage Handbook No. 3, by Daniel Stevens (Bloomsbury, London, 2009), which is dedicated to baking many different kinds of bread at home. It’s a great hands-on guide full of illustrative pictures and practical advice. It spends a good amount of time on getting the basics across, followed by many specialized bread recipes, from classic Italian breads (ciabatta) to more exotic ones (such as vetkoek, which appears to be similar to oliebollen, minus the raisins). One of the final chapters teaches you how to build your own clay oven in the garden, I’m not sure we’ll reach that level (besides the fact that we currently lack a garden…).

We’re slowly starting to explore the book (but a sourdough starter is in the works!), here you can see a nice wholemeal bread topped off with pumpkin seeds. It uses the basic bread recipe provided by Daniel, with the following ingredients:

  • 500g wholemeal flout
  • 5g dried yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 300ml warm water

The bread’s a bit flat, next time we’ll leave it to rise in a bread pan, to give it a more traditional shape. But the consistency and taste are great, and that’s what counts!

Starting Vegan Mofo 2011

Yeap! We also decided to join the project Vegan Mofo 2011. If you don’t know what is that, you wonder right? Well, in short, Vegan Mofo is dedicated to blog as much as you can, in principle 20 times, in one single month. Thus, the name Vegan Mofo stands for Vegan Month of Food. This year the month is October but the last year was November, lovely fall!. All the posts have to be vegan and you can decide upon a theme. After some brain storming, we decided to dedicate our first Vegan Mofo to ….

Local European food


Basically, we will be posting about different vegetables, local products, or techniques that are grown on European land, can be found in local stores or are used by European communities. Our goal is to make people eat more Vegan by encouraging the use of local products easily to find and by using vegetables that they recognize.

In the post, we will try to summarize the history of the product, the different ways of using it and we will give several ideas of how to use it. Of course, we will cook one or more recipes and post them with great photos.

Let’s start and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

 

After a long vacation and a long break

After a long break not writing in the blog, I am back. The reason for the long break was that I spent a month travelling around Vietnam. Definitively it was a great experience and a non-stop trip. I will post some amazing photos from the trip and as well a huge collection of food. I made a lot of photos of our meals so I can introduce here a little bit of the Vietnamese culture. To give you an idea, being vegan there was not difficult, I managed mostly in all the places despite the language problem.

Moroccan chickpea salad with couscous

After the Queen’s night (koninginnenacht) in Den Haag, we went to the famous Queen’s day (koninginnedag) markets. Look what a nice plate I found. It was really nice to walk around the markets full of old things. Basically you can sell whatever you want and in practice what happens is that the people empty their storage rooms or garages of unwanted things (old coffee machines, old dishes, old video games, old cloth, old bikes …) and sell it for the money you agree to pay. With the cultural mix of Netherlands, it was wonderful the mix of stuff you could get. You could also find people selling food on the street, this time no matters if you are an expert cook or not, simply put your post in a good place and sell food . This year, one friend of mine was selling Indian food and I am thinking that for the next year, I might put a post of vegan food.

In the photo you see a Moroccan chickpea salad with tofu cheesy sauce and couscous. The salad had lettuce, rocket leaves, onion, tomatoes, chickpeas, roasted bell paper and it was seasoned with lemon and olive oil. The tofu cheesy sauce was made with 150g of tofu, 2 tablespoons of water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, some lemon, salt and dill. The couscous was mixed with some raisins and special spices for couscous that I got in one of my trips to France. As well on the side, you can see tomato with tofu salad. Great combination for such a plate.

Awesome food in Capri

Eihh it  has been a while that I did not post, the reason was because I spent some days on Capri, a small  island  in front of the Naples coast. The weather was great almost all the days and the food really good even for a vegan. The reason to go there was because of a spring school related to my job. To my great surprise the organizers took a lot of care and effort to arrange perfect vegan meals in every restaurant, so I felt not discriminated at all. Here I want to warmly thank Dario and Daniel for their efforts to accommodate a vegan in Italy.

Here there is a bit of what I ate for lunch…

Look at the ruccola leaves, really big!

An awesome, simple and tasty pasta made with aubergine tomato sauce. I am amazed about the flavour of such a simple mix of ingredients but definitively the quality of the tomatoes, aubergine that I ate during the week cannot be compared to what I can get here in The Netherlands. The tomato sauce was cooked at low fire with some garlic cloves for a long long time and the aubergine was soft and nicely cooked.

I had some hours left before my flight departure around Naples. Of course, I went to eat a good pizza in a traditional place founded in 1780, quite old. It is called La pizzeria Brandi.  Did you know that marinara pizza (the one displayed in the photo above) is vegan by default?! I did not have to change anything from the ingredient list, awesome! It is basically tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, basil and olive oil. Yummy yummy….