Vegan Mofo 18: R is for raw buckwheat rolls with Red Bean filling

Sweetened red bean paste (anko) opens the door to East Asia, where it is used in a variety of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean desserts from soups to pancakes to ice creams. I have not worked with red beans before so I thought I’d give it a go. Note that red beans, also known as azuki or adzuki beans, should not be confused with red kidney beans, which are much larger in size.

Recently I came across a very inviting recipe for raw buckwheat cinnamon rolls which looked just like swiss rolls. Currently in a buckwheat phase, I combined the idea of a buckwheat roll with anko filling, thinking that the earthy buckwheat flavor would be a nice complement the sweet anko. In the original recipe, 100% raw groats were used, but I decided soaking and sprouting would be better on the digestive system.

Red bean paste generally comes in two consistencies: chunky (tsubu-an) and pureed (koshi-an). I went for a chunkier filling as I prefer more bite to the rolls. Most recipes call for a 1:1 ratio of beans to sugar but I drastically reduced the sugar amount, because the rolls had dates in them and I didn’t want to overdo the sugar.

But it still turned out quite a sugar-rush though. Buckwheat + dates + sweetened red beans, that makes a triple carbo-load! Also the rolls lacked textural contrast as everything was quite pasty (somewhat like energy balls). On hindsight, chop nuts such as walnuts studded on top would add a lovely crunch. Even better, use crushed pistachios for a red-and-green festive look that would be perfect for Christmas. Overall I love the concept of the buckwheat rolls but the filling needs tweaking.

Raw Buckwheat Rolls with Red Bean Filling (recipe-in-progress)
Makes 10 small rolls.
Vegan.
Buckwheat Rolls adapted from Vegan Fusion; Red Bean (Anko) Paste adapted from Just Hungry.

Ingredients
Raw & Sprouted Buckwheat Rolls

  • 2/3 cup raw buckwheat groats
  • 2/3 cup Medjool dates (about 8 dates), coarsely chopped

Red Bean Paste (will make extra paste)

  • 2/3 cup (125g) red beans (adzuki beans)
  • Water
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Directions

  1. Day 1: soak buckwheat. Two days before making the rolls, soak the buckwheat overnight in water.
  2. Day 2: sprout buckwheat & soak red beans. The next day, drain the buckwheat and rinse well under running water to remove the slime. Once the water runs clear, leave the groats in the sieve and place it away from direct sunlight. Allow the groats to sprout for one day. Also, soak the red beans overnight in water.
  3. Day 3: make the rolls.
  4. First prepare the red bean paste. Drain the beans and put them in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring the water to a boil, boil for a minute then drain the beans. Repeat the boiling and rinsing three times. (Apparently this helps to get rid of the impurities and give a cleaner taste). Then add water again, just enough to cover the beans, and boil for about one hour until the beans can be squashed easily with the back of a spoon. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Add sugar and mix well. If it is too dry, add a little of the reserved cooking liquid back in. Once sugar has completely mixed in, pour into a container to cool down.
  5. Meanwhile as the red beans are boiling, prepare the buckwheat paste. Place sprouted buckwheat and dates into the food processor and pulse until slightly crumbled and doughy, but with some bits of buckwheat groats still visible (I may have overprocessed mine!). Then spread dough out onto a parchment paper and press the dough into a square/rectangle that is roughly ¼-inch thick.
  6. Spread the red bean paste over all of the dough except for about 1/2-inch along the far long edge.
  7. Roll the dough up by making a small fold along the near edge, pressing it down, peeling back the parchment, and continuing to roll in the same way, making sure to press the whole thing together as you go so that you have a tight roll. Refrigerate for a few hours to harden.
  8. For a clean slice, use a thread to cut into 1-inch pieces.

 

Vegan Mofo 15: T is for Thunder Tea Rice

The Chinese may not be known for their salads, but one that you have to know is Thunder Tea Rice (Lei Cha Fan), which I would laud the honour as King of Asian Salads. Essentially this dish is served in two parts: a rice bowl filled with a bedazzling medley of chopped Asian vegetables such as long beans, cabbage, leafy greens and radish as well as diced tofu and peanuts; and a side bowl best akin to a slightly astringent herbal pesto soup, made from ground tea leaves and Asian herbs such as mint and basil. It is the tea soup that harbours the strong and unique flavor of Thunder Tea Rice which you either love or hate. It is obvious which side of the camp I am on!

The best part comes when you douse the rice bowl in the green tea soup, so that each spoonful of veggies comes coated in the minty soup. This is the traditional way to eat the dish although there are some who find the soup too overpowering and choose eat the individual elements separately. Whatever the method, the beauty of Thunder Tea Rice is the smug sense of virtuousness and well-being that lingers on for hours.

As always, I like to write a little on the history of the dish. Thunder Tea Rice is a traditional Hakka dish originally created as a medicinal dish for soldiers to ward of plague and illnesses during the tumultuous times of war in the Qin Dynasty (221 – 207AD). During the mass migration from central China to the southern provinces, the Hakka brought along and preserved the traditional preparation of Thunder Tea Rice. The “thunder” (Lei in Chinese) in the dish refers to the racket made from pounding (Lei in Hakka) all the tea ingredients. Thus there is actually a double meaning to the name depending on the language you view it from. It’s kind of confusing but interesting to learn the etymology of words.

With so many veggies, preparing thunder rice tea at home can be a tedious endeavor; it requires the separate preparation of each ingredient so as to maintain each of their flavor profile. But I assure you the results are rewarding and extremely satisfying. A big batch may last a couple of meals, which you will never tire of.

The original dish contains dried anchovies which help impart a umami or savoury flavour. I easily replicated its flavours by using tamari-simmered mushrooms and shredded nori strips. Also I used Pu-Er (普洱) tea leaves instead of the recommended ones green tea and some obscure liu bao cha (六宝茶) or jiu cheng ta (九層塔) because that was the only tea leaves I had on hand. Also I blended the tea leaves into the paste which may not have been the best idea. My soup came out blackish rather than the expected pale green, probably because of insufficient basil and mint leaves (their taste was rather weak too). Overall the tea blend still needs a little tweaking but was still pretty good. And look who loves Thunder Tea Rice too!

Thunder Tea Rice (Lei Cha Fan)
Serves 4.
Vegan.
Refer to Annelicious for a very comprehensive guide.

Ingredients (You may also refer to the visual guide above)
Rice or other carbs

  • Cooked brown/white rice or carbs of preference (I used buckwheat)

Vegetables and Other Toppings

  • 100g or 1/2 pack long beans, chopped into large sticks
  • 140g or 1/4 of a large savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 200g or 1 pack of kai lan (Chinese broccoli), leaves and stems separated
  • 9 small dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tsp tamari
  • 220g or 1/2 medium jicama, diced into small cubes
  • 200g or 1/2 pack firm tofu, drained, dried and diced into small cubes
  • Nori, shredded
  • 40g toasted peanuts, toasted

Thunder Tea Soup

  • 8g Thai Basil Leaves (stems removed before weighing; I used home-grown Thai Basil!)
  • 8g Mint Leaves (stems removed before weighing)
  • 5g superior-grade tea leaves (I used Pu-Er)
  • 25g old ginger, grated into large chunks
  • 5g or 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 10g toasted peanuts
  • 1/2 tsp matcha powder

Directions
For the vegetables and toppings

  1. Rehydrate the dried shiitake mushrooms in water for at least 2 hours, or better, overnight.
  2. Trim long beans and cut into large pieces. Blanch in boiling water for about 3-5 mins, drain, then chop into small pieces. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, saute cabbage in olive oil until softened, about 10-15 mins. Set aside.
  4. In the same skillet, saute the kai lan leaves in olive oil until slightly wilted, about 3-5 mins. Set aside.
  5. Blanch the kai lan stems in boiling water until bright green, about 3 mins, drain, and set aside.
  6. Once the msuhrooms are rehydrated, squeeze them dry, slice into small pieces. Then simmer the mushrooms in the tamari and some water for about 10-15 mins, until the mushrooms have softened and absorbed the tamari.
  7. Meanwhile, chop the jicama and firm tofu, and shred the nori. Set aside.
  8. Toast peanuts and sesame seeds (for the tea paste) in a skillet over high heat if using untoasted. Set aside.

For the tea paste

  1. Place all the ingredients for the tea soup into a food processor and blend until a paste forms. Scrape out the paste and place into a small bowl.

Serving

  1. Place rice of choice of carbs into a bowl, then scoop desired amounts of each topping over.
  2. Take about 1-2 tbsp of the tea paste and place into a small bowl. Pour boiling water over to infuse for 3-5 mins.
  3. Douse the rice with the tea soup and inhale its minty aromas!

 

Vegan Mofo 11: M is for Mooncake

Today is the 15th day of the eight month of the lunar calendar, which marks Mid-Autumn Festival. Walking lanterns, donning papier mâché masks and offering foods to the gods are all part of the festivities, but let’s be honest, most of us associate this holiday with the indispensable delicacy called mooncakes.

Traditionally, mooncakes are palm-sized Chinese pastries with an egg yolk center that is embraced by a sweet rich paste made from lotus seed, red bean or jujube and a variety of nuts and seeds. The sweet/salty contrast is what makes mooncakes so irresistibly good. Additionally, crusts can vary from being thin and glossy (Cantonese-style), flaky (Suzhou and Taiwan-style) or chewy (modern snowskin varieties). As far as symbolism goes, its round-shape signifies the completeness and unity of the family while the bright golden yolk represents the full moon and also wealth.

I was surprised to learn a few years ago that lard is commonly used in traditional mooncakes to achieve a smooth texture and impart fragrance. For vegans/vegetarians, snowskin mooncakes are a safer bet because the skin is made from cooked glutinous rice flour and vegetable oil (although you may want to check the ingredients first). Although my family is not big on mooncakes, this year I got to enjoy some heavenly nuggets – either gifted/bought from restaurants or friends, as well as a rather inauthentic version that I invented at a last minute.

Mao Shan Wang Durian Mooncake, Peony Jade

Source

Generous chunks of 100% pure premium bittersweet Mao Shan Wang durian in organic pandan snowskin. I didn’t really care for the skin, which I found too sweet and lacking bite, but the durian… delicious, divine, decadent or heavenly, but truly, no words can do justice to describe it. Just so good! They were swiped clean in a matter of a few days hence the borrowed picture.

Pandan Lotus Paste with Brown Rice Snowskin (left) and Red Bean Paste with Glutinous Rice Snowskin (right) from Chen Xi (@peabrainner on Instagram). Both mooncakes are vegan.

I got to know Chen Xi through Instagram. Her pictures, mainly of food but also of street shots and architecture in Singapore, are colorful and varied and I was drawn to her account immediately. Moreover how often to you “meet” a fellow vegan friend in Singapore? Anyway her mother was having a mooncake sale and just the descriptions of the mooncakes alone was enough to entice me into buying. The skin of snowskin mooncakes are usually made with cooked glutinous rice flour (koh fun/gao fen), so a brown rice snowskin was novel and certainly worth a try.

Both mooncakes impressed with their not too sweet paste. There was none of the cloying oiliness that can sometimes be present in commercial mooncakes, but instead had a clean natural mouthfeel. The texture of the snowskin was the highlight – springy and thick, and infused with a gentle hint of pandan or red bean. Usually I’m a fillings person and abandon the skin (too sweet/doughy), but for the first time I actually found a snowskin that was palatable! The brown rice (pandan) snowskin was also noticeably softer than the glutinous rice (red bean) one – an interesting observation worthy of experimentation. Of the two, I preferred the pandan which came filling came studded with bits of brown rice, imparting the mooncake with a unique texture different from the usual crunchy nuts/seeds.

Matcha Buckwheat Mooncakes with Peanut Butter Sweet Potato Yolk, a creation by earlymorningoats.

Essentially, you may consider this a buckwheat peanut butter cup masquerading as a mooncake. I initially planned on making traditional/snowskin mooncakes, but eventually had to abandon the idea because of the lack of time and resources. Then last night a spark of inspiration hit; why not a buckwheat mooncake?

An ashen brown, the colour of buckwheat flour makes the perfect mimic for lotus paste. The buckwheat bake is made with a banana-flax base and stippled with pumpkin and sunflower seeds for a satisfying crunch. For the yolk, I went with a ball of sweet potato, rolled oats and peanut butter. Not only does it resemble the golden egg yolk/moon, the peanut butter adds a savoury touch similar to the salted duck egg yolk in traditional mooncakes. Finally for the “skin”, I went with a green tea cashew frosting. Green tea is a popular flavour in mooncakes because its bitter notes help balance out the sweet filling. Initially I was afraid that the earthy buckwheat and bitter matcha might be too overwhelming, but the flavours all worked out beautifully in the end.

I had some leftover sweet potato “yolks” which I baked alongside with the mooncake. This might just be the best snack ever.

Matcha Buckwheat Mooncakes with Peanut Butter Sweet Potato Yolk
1 3.5″ mooncake.
Vegan. Gluten-Free.
Buckwheat Bake adapted from Edible Perspective. See Ashley’s blog for a wonderful collection of buckwheat bakes.

Ingredients
For the Sweet Potato Peanut Butter Yolk

  • 1 1/2 tbsp sweet potato puree (preferably from a yellow sweet potato which is starchier than the orange ones)
  • 2 tsp rolled oats
  • 1 tsp natural peanut butter

For the Banana Buckwheat Lotus Paste

  • 5 tbsp buckwheat flour
  • 1 tbsp raw buckwheat groats
  • 2 tsp cacao powder (optional; added for a darker colour)
  • 1-2 tbsp protein powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water)
  • 1/2 medium banana, mashed (about 3-4 tbsp puree)
  • Non-dairy milk, as needed
  • 1 tsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp pumpkin seeds

For the Matcha Cashew Frosting

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F°/175°C. Lightly oil a 3.5″ mini casserole or ramekin and set aside.
  2. First make the flax egg. In a small bowl, mix the flax meal with water, whisk and let stand for 15 mins to thicken.
  3. Make the sweet potato yolk. Steam a (yellow) sweet potato and mash a few slices to get about 1 1/2 tbsp of puree. Add in the rolled oats and peanut butter, then roll the mix to form a ball about 1.2-inch/3 cm in diameter. Press down gently to flatten slightly. Set aside.
  4. In a medium-size bowl, mix all the dry ingredients for the buckwheat bake. In another bowl, mash the banana then add in the flax egg, which should have thickened. Then create a well in the dry ingredients and fold in the banana-flax mixture. The batter should be thick and sticky. Add non-dairy milk to the batter if necessary. Then, fold in the pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds.
  5. Pour half the batter into the mini-casserole, place the sweet potato yolk in the center, then add the remaining batter around it. Bake the mooncake at 350F°/175°C for 30 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Meanwhile as the mooncake is baking, prepare the matcha frosting. Add the matcha powder to the cashew frosting, then refrigerate until needed.
  7. Once the buckwheat mooncake has finished baking, remove from oven and let cool 5 mins then slide a knife around the edge to release. Let cool another 10 mins.
  8. If the top of the buckwheat bake is domed, you may want to slice the top mound off. Then frost with the matcha cashew frosting.

This is probably the only mooncake which you can devour whole and not feel the least bit guilty! And you can enjoy it at any time of the year too!

Vegan Mofo 2: B is for Buckwheat – sprouted Buckwheat, quinoa & oat granola

Vegan MoFo Day 2 and I’m back with a big bang for the letter ‘B’: Sprouted Buckwheat, Quinoa and Oat Granola (technically this may qualify for letters Q, O or G, but stop being nitty-picky). Homemade granola has been a stubborn stain on my Recipe Bucklist List. Although crunchy granola can never replace pillowy soft doughy freshly cooked hot-off-the-stove oatmeal for breakfast, it comes in handy for hunger crisis or snack-attack situations. This is one of the things I love about Vegan MoFo – apart from getting to know other bloggers and sharing recipes – the impetus to tackle the Bucketlist.

Commercial granolas often come sweetened with refined sugars and many unnecessary ingredients. The “healthier” types like Back to Nature or Love Grown Foods Granola are expensive. Others contain too many raisins, too many nuts or too much coconut. With homemade granola, you are the boss; you get to control and customize the add-ins to your heart’s content. My ideal granola? A simple blend of medium-sized chunks of grains, nuts, seeds, with the grains predominating. It should be lightly sweetened without being cloying. Flavour-wise, I’m a traditionalist preferring the classic combination warm vanilla and cinnamon.

I initially considered doing a basic oatmeal granola. But the masterchef in me was not satisfied. I thought: if you are making your own granola, why not make it the best it can be? I decided to put the best use of the multiple grains at home to create this Sprouted Granola, made with buckwheat, quinoa, steel-cut oats and rolled oats.

Why soak and sprout your grains? Grains contain phytic acid which behaves as an anti-nutrient; it binds to zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium in the intestinal tract and has reduces mineral absorption. Phytic acid is also an enzyme inhibitor of digestive enzymes (eg pepsin, trypsin and amylase), and thus may further interfere with digestion. Studies have shown that soaking, fermenting or sprouting the grains before cooking or baking reduces the phytic acid content, so that the minerals and nutrients become available for absorption. A wonderful summary about phytic acid in grains and legumes can be found here.

This recipe will take three days: soaking on day one, draining on day two and finally baking the granola on day three. Technically, buckwheat and quinoa need only be soaked for a few hours because they do not have a high phytate content. However because oats have significant levels of phytic acid, it’s recommended that you soak them for 24 hours.

Another perk of this recipe is that it is mainly fruit sweetened with banana puree. Coating the grains with the banana puree also reduces not only the amount of honey used, but also the oil. **Bonus!** To make the granola you can either use a dehydrator or conventional oven. I used the oven and baked them at low heat (300°F/150°C) for one hour.

Three days worth of effort culminated in a most delicious granola! Loose clusters of lightly sweetened buckwheat, quinoa and oats kissed with the warmth of cinnamon, vanilla and coconut. The grains, nuts and seeds and dried fruits were in perfect harmony in terms of proportions; not one overwhelmed the other. I’m really pleased with the results of my first attempt at homemade granola!

If there is anything I’d change, it would be to bake at an even lower temperature or shorter amount of time. The buckwheat came out a bit hard and popcorn-ish, perhaps being over-dehydrated. But a good soak in almond milk would soften the texture a little, with still lots of crunch factor to enjoy!

Sprouted Buckwheat, Quinoa & Oat Granola
Makes 16 oz (slightly more).
Vegan.

Ingredients
About 1/3 cup of each grain

  • 50g raw buckwheat groats
  • 50g raw quinoa
  • 40g steel cut oats
  • 40g rolled oats **See Note**
  • 4 tsp shredded coconut
  • 1/6 cup seeds (I used a blend of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, 4 tsp each)
  • 2 tsp flax seeds
  • 1/3 cup banana puree (mashed from 1 small banana)
  • 2 tsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or honey (if non-vegan)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup nuts, coarsely chopped (I used a blend of almonds and walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruits (I used a blend of dried cranberries and sultanas, 4 tsp each)

Directions

  1. Three days before baking the granola, soak your grains. Place in three separate bowls raw buckwheat groats, quinoa and steel cut oats. Cover with at least twice the volume of water. Let soak overnight or at least 8-10 hours.
  2. The next day, drain the water from each bowl and rinse through thoroughly until water runs clear. Buckwheat in particular exudes a mucilaginous slime, but that is normal. Once rinsed, leave the grains in the sieve overnight to let it drain fully and sprout. You may choose to combine the grains in one large sieve or use three separate sieves (if you have that many!).
  3. On the third day, you may start to see tiny tails sprouting from the grains (only the buckwheat grew sprouts in my case). You can choose whether to allow the grains to sprout. If not, proceed to start making the granola.
  4. Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the soaked buckwheat, quinoa and steel cut oats. Then add in the rolled oats, flax, seeds and coconut. Mix well.
  6. In another bowl, mix together the banana puree, coconut oil, honey and cinnamon. Add the wet ingredients to the grain mixture. Stir well to coat the grains with the banana mix.
  7. Spread out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then bake for 60 mins at 300°F/150°C until dry and crispy. Make sure to stir every 15 mins to break up large clumps and prevent burning.
  8. (Receive copious praise from your family or flatmates as you make the house smell incredible.)
  9. Remove from oven and let cool before storing in an air-tight container. It should keep well for about a week.

Note: I did not soak the rolled oats as I was afraid it might be too soft. But feel free to soak it if you prefer, and do share how it turns out!

 

Have you tried sprouting grains before? How did it turn out and how did you use them?

Fig & Almond Galette (vegan)

You haven’t known figs until you try a fresh one. Sure, the dried ones are available all year round, but there is nothing like the lusciously sweet taste and unique texture of fresh figs. Plump, soft, yielding, bright and juicy – no other fruit is as sensually pleasing. Delicate when fresh, bubbly when roasted, jammy when mashed. Oh, I could go on ravishing about this exotic fruit but I should probably stop lest there’ll be no end.

The appeal of the fig goes beyond its sensual delight. Here are some interesting information that you might want to go figure. Thought to originate in Asia Minor, humans have revered the common fig tree Ficus carica since antiquity. Fossil remains from the Jordan Valley indicate they have been cultivated for more than 11,000 years. In fact, the fig is the most talked about fruit in the Bible. For example, right in the beginning Genesis 3:7 indicates that the fig tree provided the first clothing for Adam and Eve: “… they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig eaves together and made coverings for themselves.” And henceforth, the fig leaf became the symbol of modesty, as you may see so often in Renaissance art.

Moreover, the fig is also a nutrition powerhouse – an excellent source of potassium, calcium, manganese and vitamin B6. So all the more seize the opportunity to load up on figs this season! Here is one idea how: make a Fig Galette!

The word Galette is derived from the French word “galet”, a weatherworn smooth pebble. In culinary terms, this refers to various types of flat cakes, including the crepe-like pancakes of Brittany and Normandy (Galette De Bretagne) as well as freeform pies. Today we are interested in the latter, because, what’s better than filling a dough purse stuffed full of bubbling roasty figs? Traditionally made with a butter-based pie crust or puffed pastry, I never thought that a vegan version was possible. Not until I came across several recipes using frozen coconut oil as substitute. I was very intrigued and couldn’t wait to try it out.

In fact this was my first time making a pie dough, vegan or not, so after some extensive research, here’s what I gleaned. Pie dough is made by cutting butter (or other solid fat) into flour until the butter and flour looks crumbly and has pieces of butter the size of peas. Then, just enough water is added to form the dough into a ball. Most importantly:

Keep things cold, very cold.
It is especially important for the fat to be cold because pockets of unmelted fat within the crust that melt away during baking are what makes a deliciously flaky pie. Thus, refrigerate the oil, flour and use ice-cold water when making the dough, and work quickly.

For a tender crust
Do not overwork the dough; over handling will lead develop the fluten and lead to a tough pie crust dough. Thus, also choose a low protein flour such as pastry flour. I used a blend of pastry flour and buckwheat flour for nuttiness and to make it more nutritious. Buckwheat flour is also gluten-free so I though it may work well. Nevertheless, all-purpose flour is readily available and works well for all pie crusts. Sift the flour before measuring it.

I understand that pictures speak more than words so below is a pictorial on how to make the coconut oil pie dough.

Assembling the galette is easy. I used an almond cream base and layered the figs on top, then folded in the edges to form a mini-dumpling. So cute isn’t it?!

First of all, I was very pleased and amazed at how the dough came out. It was pliable and very easy to work with, though you need to let the dough “defrost” slightly after chilling because coconut oil becomes very hard when chilled and takes even longer than butter to melt. Second, I have to admit that the crust didn’t come out flaky at all. Nope, no beautiful layers of flaky pastry was in sight. Instead, it came out crumbly, but in an oh-so-delightful crunchy graham-cracker style. That was exactly my first thought when I bit into the crust: Mmm…graham crackers!

With the bubbling hot cinnamon-spiced figs sizzling in its sugars and in all its glory, this was pure perfigtion. Crunchy graham base with pulpy caramelized figs, and a heady almond cream to pair the two together – this galette is definitely worth making. It’s a free-form tart; you don’t need a lot of skill yet it presents a level of rustic sophistication that will surely impress. This is what I call a cheat dish!

Fig & Almond Galette
1 medium galette, about 4-5 slices.
Vegan.

Ingredients
Pie Dough

  • 3/4 cup flour (I used 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour + 1/4 cup buckwheat flour)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, frozen until solid
  • 2-3 tbsp ice-cold water (I used 2 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Almond Cream

  • 1/4 cup almonds, soaked overnight
  • 1/2 large medjool date, chopped
  • 2 tbsp non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice, coconut)
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Fig Layer

  • 3-5 figs, depending on size
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Ground cinnamon

Directions
Begin by making the galette pie dough.

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add the cubes of frozen coconut oil from the ice tray. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the coconut oil into the flour mixture until the texture becomes lumpy, with the pieces of coconut oil no larger than small peas. Add the water and knead with your hand just until the dough pulls together. Alternatively, the dough can be made using the food processor.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and pat into a round disk. Wrap tightly with a cling film and chill for at least 30 mins (can be prepared ahead).

Make the almond cream.

  1. In a food processor, combine the almonds, dates, milk and almond extract and process until smooth and creamy. Place the almond cream in a small bowl and refrigerate to thicken.

Assemble the galette.

  1. Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
  2. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out to a circle of 1/8″-1/4″ thick.
  3. Place the galette dough onto a baking sheet. Spread with the almond cream mixture, leaving a 1.5″ border around the edge. Arrange the figs concentrically from the center. Lift the edge of the dough and fold over filling to make a nice, crimped border.
  4. You may choose to refrigerate the dough if it has become too soft. Bake at 350°F/175°C for 45-50 mins until figs are bubbling slightly and edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing and serving.

 

I just had to shove this picture up your face. Enjoy!

Product Review: An Ally to Aminos

Ally amino quinoa amaranth

While I would rate myself as a loyal Bob’s Red Mill fan when it comes to grains, I also love trying out new products. So when I saw this pack of Ally Amino Grains on the supermarket shelves, I got all excited.

Sold conveniently as 6x30g packs, each contains a blend of (white) quinoa, amaranth, millets, buckwheat and sesame. You know how you get bored with one type of grain, and how a pack of quinoa can languish in the pantry for months? This is a wonderful solution – by having the medley of grains, it provides varied textures, making for an interesting mix in each mouthful. Although the instructions recommend adding the grains as a supplement to rice or soup, I had it just as it is, cooked in water first, then soy milk stirred in. Seeing that the pack was small, I topped it up with a handful of Raspberry Galaxy Granola (that I bought from iHerb). Finally, I added chopped fresh fruits (mangoes, banana, cherries, grapes) and layered with chia seed peanut butter.

As expected, the grains had that characteristic nutty taste/smell, but mostly it was infused with the saccharine sweetness of the Benishan mangoes. Though not as creamy as oats, it’s a good change from the usual.

On a side note, I unearthed a (Forever Italy) moka pot from the kitchen cupboards yesterday while trying to find a sieve (in preparation for making red velvet cupcakes – to come soon). I was really excited as it meant proper coffee – finally! After watching a youtube video on how to use it, I made my first pot of (luwak) espresso this morning. What a heady, potent brew it gave! I’m in love with this new equipment. Sometimes, such small unexpected finds give the most pleasures.