almond + chickpea felafels

almond + chickpea felafel

Ok, so you’re getting into the healthier side of things. You’ve started making your own nut milk (Yay you! That’s awesome!), which is pretty rad. But the sight of all that nut pulp going to waste hurts your inner-recycling genie. Well have I got the recipe for you: almond and chickpea felafel.

I know the universe has been going a little crazy for nut-based felafels lately, and they’re delicious to be sure. But, I wanted to challenge myself to use that bag of frozen almond pulp that’s been sitting in my freezer for months (because I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away). I’ve tried making nut-hummus (but didn’t fall in love with it) and I’ve even made my own almond meal by drying the pulp slowly in the oven (extremely delicious, but a little time consuming and the meal doesn’t have the shelf life of store-bought versions). So with several felafel ideas doing the laps around my brain, out came these babies. And aren’t they tasty.

And versatile! I threw these on top of salads, Adam put them in sandwiches, and I even popped a couple in my mouth for an afternoon snack. Also – the sauces you could serve these with are endless. How about: garlicky tahini, hummus, pesto, coriander cashew cream, creamy dill dressing, or a chunky tomato relish? There’s a lot you can do with them, and I think that’s a big part of their charm for me!

Need I even mention their stellar protein content? And wonderful fats? Since first making this version, I’ve also done a super herby mix (with loads of parsley, coriander and mint), which also turned out great. These felafels are a blank (but not bland) canvas for you to make your own. If you do, I’d love to hear your take on them!

Big felafel-y love X

in the processor
rolled felafel
felafel time
baked felafels
a simple serving suggestion

Almond and Chickpea Felafels

makes about 12

Recipe notes

  • I’m pretty sure almost any nut pulp would work here in place of almond, but I can’t vouch for them.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond nut pulp
  • 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp tahini (I used unhulled, but hulled would work fine too)
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp nigella seeds
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F) no fan, and line a baking tray with baking paper. Combine chia seeds with 3 tbsp hot water and whisk to combine. Set aside for 5-10 minutes to form a gel. In a food processor, combine garlic, onion, coriander leaves, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Process until finely chopped. Add pulp, tahini, chickpeas and chia gel. Season to taste. Process to combine – you may have to scrape down the sides a few times.

In a bowl, combine sesame and nigella seeds. Roll the felafel mixture into balls with your hands, then roll them in the seed mix to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until required. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the felafels are crisp on the outside and golden brown.

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banana chai popsicles

banana chai popsicles

Summer is upon us in every sense of the word (sorry to my lovely northern hemisphere readers). It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s almost hard to move around.

As you may have picked up on, I don’t deal well with the heat. Sure, I enjoy the opportunity to lounge around in shorts and breezy dresses, but shit still needs gettin’ done. Trying to pay for lunch out with a friend the other day, it took at least 3 tries before I could work the machine properly. It almost borders on the ridiculous, and there’s probably some room for toughening up on my part. But in lieu of toughening up, here’s how I deal with sky-rocketing temperatures: large volumes of water and iced tea, raw things (I know Adam’s rolling his eyes), and frozen treats. Once the day gets hot, all I want to do is eat watermelon, nap and if I get hungry at all (which I often don’t if it’s super hot) somehow fashion a salad if I can get my brain to work my arm to chop the vegetables.

I’m being horribly melodramatic I know, but it’s hard to feel motivated to do anything when you feel like you need to take your second or third shower for the day, amiright? Here’s where the frozen treats come in (you were wondering about those, I’m sure). I firmly believe that any task to be completed above 30 C (86 F) can be successfully accomplished with one hand, while you lick/bite/suck/enjoy a popsicle with the other. I’m sure it’s a measurable fact. Frozen treats, like these popsicles, always succeed in cooling my body temperature down just enough to make everything seem doable. I highly recommend them the next time you’re in the middle of a heat-induced brain-fuzz or full-blown meltdown.

These popsicles are just sweet enough, creamy enough and flavoursome enough to satisfy everything you could want from a popsicle, without crossing over into the ‘slightly-less-healthy’ category. When you consider that each popsicle is only about 1/3 cup in volume, you can totally justify eating two in a row. Or one after breakfast, and then another after dinner. Whatever floats your popsicle loving boat. I know there’s probably a few people thinking that banana and chai might make a funky combination, but trust me, it’s divine. These little lovelies are almost caramel-tasting. In fact, I think I’m off to grab one out of the freezer right now.

organic chai tea
bananas
chai in the pot
golden beauties
banana chai joy
banana chai popsicles

makes 10 popsicles

recipe notes

  • If you’re not into soy milk, I think you’d be able to get away with cashew milk (the fat content feels pretty similar to me), but I haven’t tried this. Also make sure it’s unsweetened.
  • Feel free to substitute a red/roiboos chai if you prefer, but personally I like the colour the black tea gives to the popsicles.

ingredients

  • 2 bananas
  • 2 c (500 ml) soy milk
  • 1/3 c (80 ml) agave nectar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp organic black chai tea
  • 1 cinnamon stick

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together the soy milk, agave and vanilla. Add the tea leaves (I put mine in bag, but you can leave them loose, just strain through a sieve once you’re done) and cinnamon stick. Heat for 10 minutes, stirring until it starts to steam, but do not boil. Cover and allow to cool completely with cinnamon and tea to infuse. Once cool, remove tea and cinnamon stick (with a sieve if necessary). Combine in a blender with the bananas and blend until completely smooth. Pour into popsicle moulds (each should take around 1/3 cup). Place in the freezer for 30 mins, then quickly remove and insert 1 popsicle stick into each mould. Return to freezer for 2-3 hours, until completely frozen. To remove popsicles from mould, run the mould under warm water to loosen the popsicle. Enjoy!

hand food: pumpkin + chickpea samosas and pear pies

samosas and pear pies (made from a wholewheat-spelt pastry)

A few weeks ago, my parents and brother moved house. In and of itself, this isn’t a strange or rare occurrence in our family – we’re definitely gypsies. Moving house is a stressful time, as I’m sure we can all relate to. Your stuff is everywhere, your plates and cooking tools packed away, and you stand around an empty house feeling a bit overwhelmed but excited. Moving into the new house is just as stressful, but equally exciting: finding everything its place, heck, finding you a space!

I’d been helping out here and there, packing boxes and taking things to the new house the week before they moved. But, I decided that for moving day itself, a bit of extra help was needed. The last thing you should be doing during a stressful life event is chowing down on whatever is most convenient, but usually the least of what your body actually needs. I wanted to bring food for moving day that was filling, wholesome, delicious and convenient to eat. Here’s where hand food comes into play. Food that’s easy to transport, eat and enjoy. No cutlery and no plates required. Perfect for a busy day of coordinating removalists, and unpacking boxes. But, you know, equally perfect for picnics, parties, and road trips. Crowd pleasers.

I made a double batch of the best vegan pastry recipe I’ve ever come across: Perfect Vegan Pie Crust from Food52. I made a wholewheat-spelt blend pastry this time, and I went from there. After seeing Laura’s (from The First Mess) strawberry hand pies a couple months back, I decided something similar was definitely on the cards. Instead of strawberries, I opted for the adorably blushing corella pears that had been languishing in my fruit bowl. Now what to do with the other half of the dough? I wanted something savoury – super savoury – and samosas it was!

Now, I know most vegetarians and vegans have had the experience of turning up to a function, cocktail party or other event and being served an oily, greasy lump of pastry stuffed with equally unsatisfying filling. Not these samosas my friends. When Adam tried a samosa, the first thing he asked was that I make the filling again and we eat it with rice like a normal curry. I know I’m probably biased, but that’s how delicious this filling is, truly. The pumpkin almost melts around the chickpeas, and the spices are flavourful without being overpowering.

I arrived for moving day, my bag stuffed with pies and samosas, eager to help in more ways than just moving boxes around. I gave everything a quick reheat in the oven (thought they’re equally fine cold or at room temperature), served them up onto a platter (pulled from a box I’d just unpacked) and watched them disappear. No plates, no forks, and no fuss.

corella pears
pear filling (all the cinnamon)
pumpkin & chickpea filling
pumpkin & chickpea samosa filling
slightly overfull pear pies
workspace
crimped
samosas in progress
pear hand pie
pear pies
pumpkin & chickpea samosa
samosas

Pear Hand Pies

makes about 15

Recipe notes

  • For the pastry, I used 2/3 wholewheat flour, 1/3 wholegrain spelt.
  • Don’t be tempted to overfill – I always remove filling as I’m folding them over – you don’t want your pastry to rip.

Ingredients

  • 1 quantity vegan pie crust
  • 3 medium corella pears, peeled, cored and diced
  • juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground clove
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 180 C (355 F) without fan. In a bowl, combine pears with lemon juice, syrup and spices. Stir to combine. Roll out the dough to 0.5 cm (1/4 inch) thick, and using a cookie cutter approximately 4 inches in diameter, cut out circles of pastry and place on a tray. Repeat rolling and cutting until all the dough is used. Spoon a small amount of filling into the centre of each circle (you’ll be able to tell if you’ve overfilled – just remove some and continue). Fold the circle in half, and seal by crimping the edges with a fork. Repeat for remaining pies.

Brush the tops of the pies with the juices that have collected in the bottom of the filling bowl. With a small sharp knife, poke a little hole in the top (this lets steam out during baking). Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until cooked and lightly golden. Cooled thoroughly, they should keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.

Pumpkin and Chickpea Samosas

makes about 15

Recipe notes

  • See notes above regarding pastry and filling
  • You can prepare these in advance and freeze them, unbaked, until required. Thaw thoroughly first before baking.

Ingredients

  • 1 quantity vegan pie crust
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 250 g pumpkin (peeled and deseeded weight), cut in a small dice
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cooked chickpes (tinned is fine)
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 C (355 F) without fan. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and fry gently until fragrant. Add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5-10 minutes, until translucent and soft. Add the pumpkin, the rest of the spices and cook, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft. You may like to add a couple of dashes of water, so the mixture doesn’t stick to the pan. Add the chickpeas and parsley, cooking for a further few minutes. Season to taste. Remove filling from heat and allow to come to room temperature.

Roll out the dough to 0.5 cm (1/4 inch) thick, and using a cookie cutter approximately 4 inches in diameter, cut out circles of pastry and place on a tray. Repeat rolling and cutting until all the dough is used. Spoon a small amount of filling into the centre of each circle (you’ll be able to tell if you’ve overfilled – just remove some and continue). Fold the circle in half, and seal by crimping the edges with a fork. Repeat for remaining samosas. With a small sharp knife, poke a little hole in the top (this lets steam out during baking). Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until cooked and lightly golden. Cooled thoroughly, they should keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.

stracciatella ice cream

vegan stracciatella icecream

Oh boy, it’s true, I inherited an ice cream maker. Readers, gird your loins for an influx of recipes for ice creams, sorbets, and all manner of delicious frozen delights. I’ve got a raspberry-cashew idea floating around, along with a hankering for something rich and chocolatey. I knew as soon as I had my eager hands on that ice cream maker (kindly given by Adam’s parents, who weren’t using it), that stracciatella ice cream would be high on my list of priorities.

My trip to Venice just over two years ago is largely dominated by memories of all the gelati I ate. Which was a lot. Four scoops a day? I’m not even lying. It was truly excessive. But delicious. There was lemon, and 70% chocolate, and watermelon, and hazelnut, and strawberry. Served to you, at my favourite gelateria, by a man who my friends and I christened ‘Hot Nasty’ (he was incredibly gorgeous, but slightly surly). But my favourite gelato flavour, guaranteed to be nestled in beside whatever other flavour I was trying, was stracciatella.

You see, the thing is, I’m a vanilla girl. Not that I don’t love chocolate (I really do). But, if you held a gun to my head and said that I had to pick between vanilla and chocolate for the rest of my life, I’d pick vanilla. Hands down. (What would you pick? I’d love to know!) Stracciatella combines, for me, the best of both worlds. It’s vanilla-y and creamy soft, with flecks of dark chocolate smattered throughout. Bliss (if you eat dairy, which I was at the time). Now, I return to Australia, after a dreamy (but hectic trip) and what do I find? That all stracciatella versions I come across are missing something, something subtle, something delicious. I ponder (for a long time). Then, serendipitously, one night at our favourite pizza place, the waiter tells us their gelato flavours that night: vanilla, strawberry, and stracciatella. “Which is vanilla, with flecks of dark chocolate and roasted almonds,” she tells us, in no way understanding the breakthrough she’d just thrown me into. Needless to say, Adam ordered some and I snuck a mouthful (we’re still in the dairy-days here).

And there it was, the something that was missing: toasted almonds. But without any crunch or hint as to their existence. And that really is the secret – grinding them to form a ‘dust.’ So as soon as that ice cream maker was in my kitchen, I knew a vegan-friendly stracciatella was on its way. It’s made on a base of coconut milk, sweetened with maple syrup, and flavoured with what you might think is almost too-much vanilla. It’s silky and smooth without being rich. With the toasted almond and cacao nibs ground to a coarse dust, that ‘oh-my-what-is-in-this?’ feeling is retained. This stracciatella has a depth of flavour that makes me so very happy, recalling memories of a wonderful trip, and the city and people which made it so special. Buon Appetito!

the only coconut milk to use
vanilla bean
sprinkles of cacao nibs
roasted almonds + cacao nibs
almond and cacao dust
stracciatella waves
stracciatella w roasted almonds and cacao nibs
stracciatella ice cream

makes about 750 ml

recipe notes

  • You will make more of the almond-cacao dust than you need for this recipe, but fear not! You’ve just created something that is great as a topping on smoothies, granola, oats and probably even waffles. Store in an airtight container.
  • If you’re not keen on cacao nibs, you could use dark chocolate chips instead (but I haven’t tried this). Blitz them along with the cooled almonds, but be careful they don’t melt everywhere.
  • You could also use agave instead of maple syrup, but personally I enjoy the flavour which maple adds..

ingredients

  • 2 c (500 ml) full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 c (250 ml) water
  • 1/3 c (80 ml) maple syrup
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted

In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine coconut milk, water, maple syrup, vanilla seeds, extract and xanthan gum. Whisk to combine. Continue to heat, whisking regularly (so the bottom doesn’t burn) for 10 minutes, or until it comes to the boil. Once it reaches boiling, immediately remove from the heat and allow to cool completely before proceeding.

While the mixture is cooling, combine the toasted almonds and cacao nibs in a coffee grinder or food processor, and blitz them for ten seconds or so, so form a coarse ‘dust.’ Once the liquid has cooled, add to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Once everything is moving about, add 2 tbsp of the almond-cacao dust. When finished, store in an airtight container in the freezer. Allow to thaw for 10-15 minutes before serving.