Choc Mint or Choc ‘n Raspberry Torte

This torte is a total crowd pleaser. It can be presented as a birthday cake or plated up like a fine dining dessert. Best of all, you can add or remove one ingredient; fresh mint to switch it from a Choc Mint Torte to a Choc ‘n Raspberry one. I just love that!

Choc n rasberry torte

What you’ll need for the crust:
1 and 1/4 cup of hazelnuts
1 and 1/4 cup of almonds
1/4 cup of unbleached, organic cane sugar
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of cocao powder
A very generous pinch of sea salt
6 tablespoons of softened coconut oil
1/2 tablespoon on vanilla extract
22cm round cake baking tin

To prepare the crust:
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees
In a food processor, combine nuts to create a fine consistency
Add sugar, cacao powder, salt and pulse again
Pour mixture into a large bowl
Add coconut oil and vanilla extract and gently fold, until your mixture sticks together add a little water (1 tablespoon) if mixture seems dry. It should be moist
Press the mixture into your tin and bake for 15 minutes or until golden
Set aside and allow to cool completely. I often make this the night before

What you’ll need for the filling:
I packet of organic silken tofu
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/2 bunch of washed fresh mint (or not, depending on which version you are making)
1/2 a cup of unbleached, organic cane sugar
1/2 cup of semisweet vegan Sweet William chocolate chips (these are readily available at Coles in the health food isle, other stockists are available in the link above)
A pinch of sea salt

To prepare the filling:
Place tofu, water, vanilla, sugar and salt into a medium saucepan
Using a whisk, break up and whisk the tofu to combine the ingredients
Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the liquid reduces a little and the tofu browns slightly
Place this mixture into your blender, add your mint (if using) and chocolate chips
Blitz until smooth
Pour onto your cooled crust
Refrigerate for 2-3 hours covered by a plate
Then slice and plate up with raspberries, fresh mint, a drizzle of soy yoghurt…
This torte pairs so well with just about any dessert wine from De Bortoli’s Noble One to any Moscato

You’ll be making this torte more than once. I promise you that… so don’t be afraid to pair it with whatever you’ve got in the fridge

 

 

 

 

Sweet Mung Bean Soup

This versatile dish is the prefect antidote to all the over-indulgences of the silly season. Tried and tested, this recipe was given to me by my gorgeous father-in-law who has been making this hydrating and nutritious sweet dessert-soup (known in Cantonese as lucdousa) for more than 30 years.

Traditionally the Chinese enjoy this soup after a meal, or between courses but you’ll find my in-laws, myself and our toddler sons tucking into a big bowl for breakfast or for a late lunch. Full of fibre, folate, protein, calcium, iron and vitamin C (which as we know improves iron absorption). It makes plenty, which is just as well, because you’ll be going back for more, especially after a big workout, or day at the beach.

Lucdousa_ingredients
Lucdousa1

What you’ll need: (you’ll find eveything you need at any good Asian grocer)
2 cups of whole dried mung beans (Hepai)
1 cup of black-eyed beans
3-4 ltrs of water
1/4 cup which equates to roughly 10 tapioca sticks or flakes broken into one-inch pieces also known as (Bot Khoai Dai)

Tapioca_2

1/4 cup of tapioca pearls
1 and a half to two cups of organic raw sugar (start with less, you can always add more)
1/4 cup of shredded seaweed (Hoitai) 

Utensils:
Large pot
Small and large colander
Measuring cups
1 litre measuring jug
Wooden spoon

How to prepare:
Put mung bean and black-eyed beans into a large pot, cover with water and soak for 1 hour

Break up tapioca sticks into one-inch pieces and soak for 1 hour

Drain pot of beans and refill with 3 litres (you may use the 4th litre later) of fresh water.  Bring beans to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer cooking them for 30-mins or until soft

Meanwhile thoroughly wash and untangle seaweed in a small pot, to remove any possible sand (don’t soak the seaweed as you will loose the nutritional content) then drain in a small colander and set aside

When beans are al-dente add pre-soaked tapioca sticks

When beans are soft quickly rinse and drain tapioca pearls using your small colander

Then add them, your prewashed seaweed and the sugar stirring all three into the beans. Turn off the heat, then cover for 10 mins then eat

You’ll know you got this dish spot on if the tapioca pearls are transparent, if the soup is sweet and if there is ample liquid.  If this is not the case, just add another litre of water, a little more sugar and allow dish to sit for another 10 minutes

Once you have mastered this dish, you can adjust the amount of beans, tapioca or sugar content to your preferred taste.  You may also like to cut your shredded seaweed down a bit (into smaller pieces), that’s the way I like it

This dish can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days

A very berry Christmas pie

If you love a tart, berry pie this recipe is just for you.  Either served warm right out of the oven, or baked the day before and served cold. One thing is for sure, you won’t be the only one wanting the last piece.

What you’ll need: (serves 6-8)
4-5 ripe, or very ripe pears, washed and sliced into quarters, then each quarter sliced into thirds
½ cup of frozen (then thawed) or fresh raspberries
I tablespoon of corn flour
2 sheets of Borg’s vegan puff pastry
Soy, rice or almond milk for glazing
Small square non-stick cake tin. If your tin is not non-stick it will need to be greased to prevent the pie catching

How to prepare:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees and prepare the middle tray
Separate pastry sheets by inserting a knife between the sheet and film and slide from side to side to separate
Thaw required sheets for 10 minutes
Place cut and thawed fruit into a bowl, add corn flour and gently fold in
Place first sheet of puff pastry into square cake tin
Place fruit on top of the pastry, creating a slightly raised peak in the middle
Place the second sheet of pastry on top and tuck in the sides
Glaze with plant-based milk
Using a small knife create a hole in the middle of the pie, where the ‘peak’ exists
Place in the middle of your oven
Cook for 45 minutes or until golden brown
Allow to rest, before cutting
Pair with fresh cherries, coconut ice-cream or coconut yoghurt or just on its own

Fruit Shack Smoothie

We took a drive from the south of the island of Kauai to Hanalei Bay in north, where the movie the Decedents starring George Clooney was filmed. Along the way we happened across a mobile smoothie wagon. It was a sight to behold, a literal oasis with every tropical fruit you could wish for. As we drank up our fruit smoothies, I couldn’t wait to try out some of the wagon owner’s combinations for myself.

This one is our three-year-old son’s favourite. Since our return, he’s asked for the ‘fruit shack smoothie’ everyday! I’ve made it for breakfast on-the-go and even as a dessert. Guests and the kids get a real kick out of the retro bottles, jars and re-usable straws.

If you’re already a fan of my ultimate breakfast smoothie you’re going to love this one. Easy to make and packed with so much goodness, you can just feel your body hydrating with every gulp.

Smoothie in cool jar

What you’ll need: (serves 4-6)
2 bananas broken into pieces
1/2 a Papaya peeled, deseeded and diced
1 Mango peeled and diced, or just cut it in half and scoop out the flesh, then eat the pip… it’s a a little quicker
6 Strawberries
1 tray of ice cubes
1/4 cup of filtered water
Re-useable steel or glass straws available online at the raw food store
Fruit smoothie ingredients

How to prepare:
Add fruit to a powerful blender and blitz
Add ice cubes and blitz until smooth
Add water and blitz until mixed
If you have a Thermomix, I start at one and move to speed 10 for 10-15 seconds
Serve in a unusual glass or old-school jar with re-usable straws
Devour and go for more!

Ethan Hawaii Smoothie

Nut and Date Truffles

Inspired by my friend Jacqui’s love of Medjool dates, I’ve created this gorgeous truffle recipe, which is great fun to make with the kids.

These make a perfect protein-rich snack for toddlers and teenagers alike. They are an impressive addition to any picnic hamper and make quite the impression when served with (chocolate) Co Yo coconut ice cream and fresh fruit as part of a dessert tasting plate.

Nut and date truffles

What you’ll need: (makes 20)
200g Medjool dates (this equates to about 8 dates)
100g raw almonds
2  teaspoons of cacao powder
(I use Cacao Gold from Power Super Foods which supports conservation initiatives and organic technical education programs in Ecuador. Available at all good health food stores)
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
(I like to use a combination of both black and white chia seeds)
Desiccated coconut to coat your truffles

Medjool dates and almonds
Did you know…

Dates are rich in potassium, with a high iron content. They are a good source of protein, dietary fibre and packed with vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B5 along with vitamin A1 and C.  Free from cholesterol and very low fat, they are the perfect energy booster.

Chia seeds are the highest known plant source of omega 3’s, also rich in protein and fibre.

Almonds are actually stone fruits related to cherries, plums and peaches. Among other things, almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine; nutrients that boost brain activity and may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The phosphorus in almonds helps build strong bones and teeth.

Cacao is a type of tropical tree that produces the world’s chocolate in raw form, before fat, sugar, and other ‘sweeteners’ are added. Packed with vitamins, essential minerals and antioxidants, the cacao tree grows in a few specific regions of the world, including Mexico and South America, where most of the cacao or chocolate beans/seeds come from.

How to prepare:
De-pip Mejool dates by hand and place them in your blender/Thermomix
Add almonds and chia seeds
Chop for 8 seconds on speed 9
Scrape down sides of your blender and chop again for 10 seconds on speed 9
If using a blender, ‘blitz’ until your truffle mixture is a mostly smooth consistency
Truffle mixUsing a tablespoon, spoon some mixture into your hand
Roll it to form a small truffle, then drop it into the plate of coconut and roll the truffle around until fully coated
Your truffles will need to be refrigerated in an airtight container and are good for 10 days. Serve at room temperature.

If you’ve enjoyed my recipe, please leave a comment for other followers to get inspired!

Best ever chocolate cake

This wonderfully moist, diary free and egg free chocolate cake seems to defy traditional cake-making wisdom, but it really works. Both allergy and cruelty free, it can baked in advance (it is even better the next day) and iced on the day, or frozen for a last minute dessert, morning tea or divine birthday cake. I have to warn you though… be ready to fight for the last piece.

Vegan chocolate cake

For the cake you’ll need:

The recipe makes either one 22cm x 33cm cake or two 21cm round cakes
2 1/2 cups of organic plain flour
1 cup of rapadura sugar
1/2 cup cocoa, or better still cacao powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup canola oil (can also use vegetable)
1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 170 if using fan forced

Non-stick spray and line cake tin(s) with baking paper

Sift the first 5 ingredients into a large bowl

Add remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth

Pour runny mixture into tins and bake for 30-40 mins until centre springs back when pressed gently and skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean

Remove from oven and cool on cake rack before icing

For the chocolate icing you’ll need:

1 Tbsp Nuttelex original spread or 1 Tbsp of Tofutti cream cheese (both dairy free)
1 Tbsp cocoa (or cacao) powder
1-2 Tbsp boiling water
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup icing sugar, sifted

Measure the cocoa, Nuttelex or Tofutti into a small bowl

Add boiling water and mix into a fine paste

Add the vanilla essence and icing sugar and beat until smooth. Adjust the thickness by adding a little extra water or icing sugar if necessary

Spread icing over cooled cake.  Serve plain, or with vanilla bean coconut ice cream.  Add berries, or your favourite nuts

What is Cacao?
Cacao is a type of tropical tree, that produces the world’s chocolate in raw form, before fat, sugar, and other ‘sweeteners’ are added. Packed with vitamins, essential minerals and antioxidants the cacao tree grows in a few specific regions of the world naturally, including Mexico and South America, where most of the cacao or chocolate beans/seeds come from.

What is Tofutii?
A dairy free cream cheese substitute made from tofu. It is however, imported from the states, so while ethical because it is dairy-free, it has a carbon cost given that it is not locally produced.  You can read more about it here: http://www.tofutti.com/btcc.shtml

What is Nuttelex?
Nuttelex is a healthy, planet friendly alternative to butter.  It is made from naturally cholesteral free vegetable oils, is suitable for vegans and is proudly 100% Australian owned and made.

Nuttelex

 

 

Lucdousa – chinese sweet mung bean soup

This versatile dish screams ‘comfort food‘ and is the prefect antidote to all the over-indulgences of the silly season. Tried and tested, this recipe was given to me by my gorgeous father-in-law who has been making this hydrating and nutritious sweet dessert-soup for more than 30 years.

Traditionally the Chinese enjoy this soup after a meal, or between courses but you’ll find my in-laws, myself and our toddler sons tucking into a big bowl for breakfast or for a late lunch. Full of fibre, folate, protein, calcium, iron and vitamin C (which as we know improves iron absorption). It makes plenty, which is just as well, because you’ll be going back for more.

Lucdousa_ingredients
Lucdousa1

What you’ll need: (you’ll find eveything you need at any good Asian grocer)
2 cups of whole dried mung beans (Hepai)
1 cup of black-eyed beans
3-4 ltrs of water
1/4 cup which equates to roughly 10 tapioca sticks or flakes broken into one-inch pieces also known as (Bot Khoai Dai)

Tapioca_2

1/4 cup of tapioca pearls
1 and a half to two cups of organic raw sugar (start with less, you can always add more)
1/4 cup of shredded seaweed (Hoitai) 

Utensils:
Large pot
Small and large colander
Measuring cups
1 litre measuring jug
Wooden spoon

How to prepare:
Put mung bean and black-eyed beans into a large pot, cover with water and soak for 1 hour

Break up tapioca sticks into one-inch pieces and soak for 1 hour

Drain pot of beans and refill with 3 litres (you may use the 4th litre later) of fresh water.  Bring beans to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer cooking them for 30-mins or until soft

Meanwhile thoroughly wash and untangle seaweed in a small pot, to remove any possible sand (don’t soak the seaweed as you will loose the nutritional content) then drain in a small colander and set aside

When beans are al-dente add pre-soaked tapioca sticks

When beans are soft quickly rinse and drain tapioca pearls using your small colander

Then add them, your prewashed seaweed and the sugar stirring all three into the beans. Turn off the heat, then cover for 10 mins then eat

You’ll know you got this dish spot on if the tapioca pearls are transparent, if the soup is sweet and if there is ample liquid.  If this is not the case, just add another litre of water, a little more sugar and allow dish to sit for another 10 minutes

Once you have mastered this dish, you can adjust the amount of beans, tapioca or sugar content to your preferred taste.  You may also like to cut your shredded seaweed down a bit (into smaller pieces), that’s the way I like it

This dish can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days

Raw orange passion fruit and vanilla bean cheesecakes

If there was ever an advertisement for eating organic, plant based whole foods, Adele McConnell is it. Her healthy glow, boundless enthusiasm and passion for good food has all been captured and uploaded to her hugely popular website Vegie Head.

A vegetarian (now vegan) since her teens, Adele’s work has just earnt the title of ‘the vegan woman’ blog of the year. If you haven’t seen it, you must. Jam-packed with easy recipes to inspire, you’ll thank me for the tip – www.vegiehead.com

Raw_cheesecake

As Adele and I lunched just before Christmas she kindly offered to share her fantastic raw orange, passion fruit and vanilla bean ‘cheesecakes’ with us.  I made these several times over the silly season… not only could you taste their goodness, but they were fun to make and made a real impact when served up with a twist, like salad confetti and a glass of iced Riesling.

What you’ll need:
Makes four small cheesecakes
Cake rings, a zester, baking paper, an airtight container and a food processor
All your ingredients are readily available from any good heath food store

The base
1/2 a cup of almonds
A pinch of quality sea salt
2-3 saffron strands, soaked in 2 tablespoons of water for one-hour  (use the water, not strands)
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
1/4 teaspoon of raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon of agave

Filling and to serve
1 cup of raw cashews soaked overnight
1 whole vanilla bean pod, scraped
1-2 oranges to make 1 tablespoon of orange zest
1 tablespoon of raw cacao butter
1 tablespoon of coconut butter
1 tablespoon of raw coconut sugar
1-2 tablespoons of water
2 passion fruits
Salad confetti/edible flowers (optional)

Salad_confetti

How to prepare:
Grease cake rings with coconut oil, place on baking paper in an airtight container ready to fill
Blend base ingredients together, spoon into rings and gently press down
Blend filling ingredients together until smooth, adding any water as needed
Spoon filling into food rings and work into the mould
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours in container
Plate up; top with fresh passionfruit, orange zest and salad confetti

Note: For those of you with a Thermomix I blended the base for 7 seconds on 7 and the filling for 8 seconds on 9.  Scrapping down the sides and repeating twice

For my Melbourne-based readers: I found all my ingredients at the Prahran Health Food store, the salad confetti at the Prahan Market and my 7cm cake rings at Scullerymade in Malvern