Early Autumn Savoury Muffins

I never want to see another courgette. Ever. Or at least until next Summer after several months of limp-dick supermarket zucchs at a million dollars per kilo. This year we had a glut. It’s been great but I have pickled, preserved, frittered, fried, gratin-ed and made a freezer-load of rattatouille and I’m officially over them. Here is my last-ditch effort to use up the final few while sneaking green stuff into my toddler’s lunchbox.

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 Courgette, Spinach and Basil Mini Muffins

1 Cup grated zucchini
a few spinach leaves
1/4 small red onion or 1 spring onion
2-3 sundried tomatoes
a handful fresh basil leaves

3/4 Cup soy or almond milk (preferably unsweetened)
5 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

2 Cups white flour
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon mixed dried herbs or fresh chopped parsley (optional)

Finely grate courgette (if you squeeze liquid out of the courgette you’ll need to add slightly more milk later on.) Finely chop onion, dried tomatoes, basil leaves and spinach, mix with courgette and set aside.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Combine milk, vinegar and oil in a small bowl.

Mix flour, yeast flakes, pepper, salt, baking powder, baking soda and dried herbs in a larger bowl then add liquids and veggies. Stir to combine but don’t over-mix. Add a little extra liquid if the mixture is too thick. Spoon into mini muffin tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden. Makes roughly 20 mini muffins.

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Early Autumn Savoury Muffins

Happy Noodles

Food you think you’ll eat while at home with a young baby: Risottos, homemade pasta, gyoza, cassoulet, smoked garlic soup, cauliflower pizza, raw cakes … Basically anything that takes longer than 10 minutes or is a pleasure to cook.

Food you actually eat while at home with a young baby: Noodle Soup. Or Toast.

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enter: Happy Noodles

This is my number 1 go-to meal. It’s filling while being light, it’s super fast to make, every kid I know loves it (with varying amounts of chili) and it was the first Asian-y dish my husband liked (apart from cheese sushi – it’s a thing in France. Bleurk).

It’s basically a hot and sour soup but we call it Happy Noodles after a noodle bar in Paris.

Here’s the technique for 1 large portion:

Put 2 cups of water into a pan or wok. Add 1x cube of vegetable, fake chicken or mushroom stock, 1 handful of sliced dried shiitake mushrooms, 1 good splash of light soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar, juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 tsp white pepper and 1 roughly chopped red chili. Get your broth nice and hot then add a portion of dried or fresh noodles (I prefer fat rice noodles) and some kind of vegetable (pak choy is great). Cook for 4 minutes, take off the heat. Add 1-2 T coconut milk and 1-2tsps of Lao Gan Ma black bean chilli sauce (or sambal oelek works). Serve with chopped spring onion (or fried shallots to save time), a handful of fresh coriander and a few cashews, peanuts or toasted seeds.

For a lighter soup keep the broth clear and use rice noodles. For a heavier, richer dish use a fat udon noodles and plenty of coconut milk.

The beauty of this recipe is that it can be as easy or as complicated as you like. If it’s a long Hangover Sunday, you can add onions, garlic, ginger and coriander root and then strain the broth. You can use limes or vinegar, play with the acid/sugar ratio, make it mostly broth or mostly noodles. You can blanch each vegetable separately and place perfectly atop your noodles. You can serve with a couple of big pieces of marinated, fried tofu. You can add frozen dumplings. Or if you’re hangry and have a crying baby at your feet, you can throw everything into a pot and eat it 5 minutes later.

See below for a few of my variations.

Bon ap. x

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Happy Noodles

A Good Excuse For Cookies

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I’ve actually never been a sweet-tooth, give me salty or smoky food any day. But the chocolate cravings I’ve been having since breastfeeding put my pregnancy cravings to shame. Plus, since the 6-week mark (and with the hot weather) pumping has been difficult and well, mama needs her freezer supply for wine tastings. Enter: Lactation Cookies.

According to the internet the key ingredients to aid in milk supply are oats, flaxseeds and brewer’s yeast. As a vegan and pantry hoarder, I always have a packet of unopened brewer’s yeast in the cupboard, so frankly I was happy to find use for it. By the way, nutritional yeast won’t do the trick – it has to be brewer’s. *Brewer’s yeast is crazy cheap and is available in NZ at bulk stores like Bin Inn.

So here I am, hungry all the time, little time to prepare food, craving sweet things for the first time and apparently if I eat a certain type of cookie my milk supply will increase and I can pump again.

Best. Excuse. Ever.

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After a little experimentation (what a chore, baking and trying biscuits..) here’s what my husband and I came up with:

Chocolate, Walnut and Chia Seed Lactation Cookies

1/2 cup vegan margarine (or coconut oil, olive oil.. whatever)

1/2 cup agave syrup (or 3/4 C sugar)

1 tablespoon chia seeds (mixed with 2 tablespoons water for 15 mins)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (soaked in 2 tablespoons water)

1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2-3 tablespoon brewer’s yeast

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius.

Cream the fats and sugars. Add vanilla stir. Add chia seeds. These can take a bit of work to incorporate. Then add flaxseed meal, chocolate chips and nuts. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda and brewers yeast. Slowly mix dry an wet ingredients together, then stir in oats. Add a few teaspoons of water if needed. Form the mixture into 12 balls and flatten on a lined tray. Bake for 12-15 mins until edges start to brown.

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A Good Excuse For Cookies

Fun with Fake Meats

A while ago I bought some vegan abalone from Chch’s Vegetarian World. It has since taken up a permanent position in my freezer, creeping me out. Honestly I had no idea what to do with it so eventually I delegated the task of preparing it to the Frenchman. I’m still not sold on vegetarian seafood in general but I have to say, this was delicious – not least because cooking with a lot of wine is every pregnant women’s favourite thing (or is that just me?).  Enjoy!

Spanish-style Abalone

 recipe by Youssef Iskrane

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1 large vegetarian abalone, cut into bite-sized pieces (or 2-3 portions of similar fake seafood – something chewy and not-too-strong-tasting)

200g fake chorizo, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 medium onion, finely sliced

3 cloves garlic, grated

3 tomatoes

250ml dry white wine

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp chili flakes

salt and pepper

juice of 1/2 lemon

  1. Halve tomatoes and place on a baking tray, seasoned with salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Roast at 240 degrees C for 10 minutes face down. Remove skins.
  2. Heat some oil in pan until smoking hot. Add chorizo chunks and cook for 2-3 mins, stirring to avoid sticking. Add onions and continue stirring until onions take a little colour.
  3. Add white wine for 1 minute to deglaze pan. Then add the abalone, tomatoes, garlic, paprika and chili flakes. Bring to a boil and turn down to a low simmer.
  4. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
  5. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Serve with rice, bread or quinoa.

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*As I say, this dish tasted amazing but the texture of the ‘abalone’ still creeped me out. If I made it again I’d use ‘chorizo’ and button mushrooms.

Fun with Fake Meats

Food That Tastes Like Hugs

Reasons pregnancy is like one long regression into baby/toddlerhood:

  • You become increasingly clumsy and off-balance
  • You discover the amazing comfort of floating/balancing belly-down in the bath
  • You want your Mum
  • Cuddles, stretching, massage all feel 60% better than usual
  • During the 1st trimester you can’t stand the idea of vegetables and have to sneak them into dishes (this was the case for me at least)
  • Also during that picky 1st trimester you can only handle a single taste or texture at a time, and finds yourself physically separating elements on a plate.

This was one of my go-to dishes when I couldn’t stomach much. It’s from my soft, salty phase. This is not really cooking, as much as surviving on salty carbs with token green vegetable.

Warm Lemony Orzo

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Bring 1 litre of vegetable or vegetarian chicken stock to the boil. Add 1 C of dry orzo, a tsp of chopped lemon rind and 1/4 C of frozen peas. Cook for 6-8 mins until orzo is soft and stock is mostly evaporated, leaving a thick, risotto-y texture. Add salt, black pepper and fresh lemon juice to taste.

Optional – finish with a spoonful of vegan margarine, dairy-free parmesan, nutritional yeast and/or chopped parsley.

Food That Tastes Like Hugs

The Superhero Diet

Flip’s Vegan Pregnancy ‘Go-Suck-It-Old-School-Preggo-Books-And-Un-informed-Doctors’ Diet – Winter Edition

At 22 weeks I am finally winning at pregnancy. I totally thought I was going to be a whinging pain for nine months but I was only a whinging pain for three, now I’m annoyingly perky. (I’m keeping some whinging in the bank for late pregnancy, don’t worry).

My super sense of smell, which made me gag at everything not long ago, now makes me salivate at everything. And just like all good romances, being apart from good food has only strengthened my love for it.

Mostly my ‘pregnancy diet’ looks like my normal diet, it just has slightly more carbs in the form of wholegrains and I’m more aware of sneaking nuts, seeds and green leaves into everything. Below is an example of what I’ve been eating. If you would like the recipes to any of these dishes, just comment and I’ll knock some ingredients out of my memory-brain for you.

Mon Regime:

I start most days with lemon water and wholegrain toast with Vegemite, tahini, lemon juice and black pepper. Then a small coffee.

Every afternoon I drink either a fresh juice (usually ginger, apple, orange, carrot) or a smoothie (almond milk, goji berries, chia seeds, banana, mixed frozen berries).

I use around 90% organic ingredients, walk 20-30 mins every day and do pregnancy yoga every other day. Before you go thinking that I’m oh-so-fucking-virtuous, I also drink two coffees a day, one – two glasses of wine per week (70ml, not a ridiculous 250ml Kiwi pour) and I love salt (so cankles are likely to be in my near future).

In terms of ‘banned’ foods, I have stopped eating sprouts and leftover rice but I haven’t given up tahini. It’s one of my favourite foods and I figure if I use a good quality one and keep it fresh, it’s fine.

Here are some of my recent meals:

Sesame Soba Noodle Salad with Wilted Spinach, Pak Choy and Shiitake Mushrooms (this photo is a summer version of the salad with cucumber instead of green leaves).

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Wholegrain Penne and Pumpkin Salad with Tahini, Lemon and Garlic Sauce

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Vermicelli Salad (this pic has fake chicken but I usually use tofu in this salad)

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Scrambled Tofu with Kale

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Quinoa and Mesclun Salad with Toasted Seeds

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Green Lentil, Mushroom, Walnut and Mizuna Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette and Nutritional Yeast

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White Bean, Kale, Carrot and Potato Cassoulet

Vegan Dandan Noodles

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Vegan ‘Chicken’ Noodle Soup

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Black Bean and Garlic Soft Corn Tacos with The World’s Best Guacamole

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Asian ‘Mezze’ – Sticky Rice, Miso Soup with Wakame and Kombu, Salt and Pepper ‘Chicken,’ Homemade Kim Chi, Asian Greens in Spicy Sauce

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Vegan Dumpling Laksa

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Red Lentil, Kumara, Potato and Pea Curry with Brown Basmati

Fat Rice Noodles in Sesame, ‘Oyster,’ Ginger, Chlli and Garlic Sauce with ‘Chicken’ and Mushrooms

Root Vegetable Tajine with Harissa and Flat Breads

The Superhero Diet

Vegan Pulled ‘Pork’

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Pulled pork is so damn trendy. So trendy I didn’t want to make it. The fruit-as-meat trend on the other hand, is exactly the kind of kitchen geekery I will happily lose days to. Plus jackfruit is the craziest, most amazing thing.

As I’ve never really been into American food, I’m yet to master my own BBQ sauce so this recipe uses a pre-made one. On the plus side, it makes this dish mad easy to make.

Today my little sister and I both had a day off, the weather was unseasonably warm, and I happened to have a tin of the magic fruit in the cupboard so we cracked a couple of booze-free beers (my favourite new discovery as a pregnant woman) and made some pulled jackfruit sliders.

*In NZ it’s super hard to find fresh jackfruit so this recipe uses tinned jackfruit. Jackfruit in brine or water is fine, just don’t buy jackfruit in syrup. It’s available from most Asian and Indian supermarkets.

*Usually I would add some liquid smoke to this so if you have some use it and leave out the smoked paprika. Today I had no liquid smoke and there was still plenty of depth.

Vegan Pulled ‘Pork’ (otherwise known as Pulled BBQ Jackfruit)

1x 280g can of jackfruit

1/2 brown onion, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp chilli powder (or 1/2 fresh chilli finely chopped)

1 tsp sugar

pinch of salt

pinch of white pepper

1 cup of vegetable stock (or vegetarian beef stock such as Massells)

3/4 cup of BBQ sauce (find a good quality one)

Rinse jackfruit well. Chop the hearts out (but don’t discard if they’re reasonably soft) and remove the seeds. Cut jackfruit into bite-sized chucks and finely dice the hearts. Set aside.

Add some oil to a medium hot frying pan and cook off onions until soft and taking a little colour. Add garlic, spices, sugar, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add jackfruit and cook until coated and the whole thing smells great. Then add stock, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the water has evaporated. Use a fork or spatula to crush and separate the jackfruit until it resembles pulled pork.

Preheat an oven to 190 degrees C.

Spread the jackfruit evenly on an oven tray (I coat the tray in tin foil to save clean up) and bake for 15-20 minutes. Take the jackfruit out of the oven, pour over your BBQ sauce and mix until the jackfruit is well covered. Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes until sticky and a little crispy around the edges.

Serve in soft, white buns or chopped baguette with a simple green salad or coleslaw and a spread of Dijon mustard. If you’re gluten free, wrap it up in a corn tortilla.

Bon ap!

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Vegan Pulled ‘Pork’