Chilli Beetroot Chocolate Cake

Gooey chilli beetroot chocolate cake

This moist chocolate cake with a twist of chilli is delicious and economical. 1 Though see below, there are mixed opinions in our house on how to treat the beet πŸ™‚ Β  The chilli adds a touch of interest, the beet adds colour, texture 2 Too much according to one critic πŸ˜‰ and moistens the cake. The recipe is adapted (to make it more economical and lower fat (so I can excuse eating it with cream) from one in Lifestyle Block magazine from last year..

  • 200ml cooking oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2-3 tsp Vanilla

Zapped together in the food processor, or by hand.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 1 Tbsp (yes really!) Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Chilli powder

Sifted and mixed.

  • 1 big cooked beetroot

Either: Tim’s preferred version, grate the beet and add to the wet mix. Or: Barbara’s preference, zap the beet while you are zapping the rest of the ‘wet” mix. 3 The difference is the presence or absence of distinct soft red bits of beet in the final cake. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Pour into an oiled floured cake tin. 4 I use one with a removable bottom to make getting at the cake quicker once it is baked πŸ˜‰ Bake at 180C for about 30 mins (or maybe 35 in a non fan oven. I think it is best to remove it while the insides are still a little gooey, because that’s how I like to eat it, with cream πŸ™‚ 5 But then I’m not Vegan, Vegans should top with frosting to make up for the lack of cream πŸ˜‰

Notes   [ + ]

1. Though see below, there are mixed opinions in our house on how to treat the beet πŸ™‚
2. Too much according to one critic πŸ˜‰
3. The difference is the presence or absence of distinct soft red bits of beet in the final cake.
4. I use one with a removable bottom to make getting at the cake quicker once it is baked πŸ˜‰
5. But then I’m not Vegan, Vegans should top with frosting to make up for the lack of cream πŸ˜‰

A tale of two mushrooms: Eating local?

Mushroom photo by orchidgalore (I forgot to take a shot of mine πŸ™

It is better to eat local. That’s a no brainer. Forget about foodmiles, carbon footprints and the like, just remember the tale of two mushrooms. The first was actually several small buttons, used by the cafe to garnish my lamb’s fry (liver) and bacon. They were anonymous and almost tasteless, the sort every supermarket sells. Who knows where they came from, and apart from presentation 1 My chef son will remind me here that presentation is nine tenths of the flavour, but that’s not quite true. they added nothing to the dish. The second mushroom was a fat giant, bought from the mushroom man at the Tauranga Farmers’ Market. We hadn’t been kind to it, kept it several days sitting in its paper bag in the bottom of the fridge forgotten, till I grilled it for lunch. Fat, juicy and bursting with mushroom flavour, despite the delay and despite cooking it merely by shoving it under the grill with a slosh of olive oil while my bacon toasted.

The local mushroom beat the supermarket thing hands down (I do wonder why some cafes seek to save cents by serving tasteless mushrooms, but that’s another story).

Much of the produce from the Farmers’ Market is organic or spray free for much the same price as the mass market produce. Almost all of it tastes better, usually fresher, often with a story 2 The tale of the people who produced it, or at least the look of them if the stall was too busy for a chat. and sometimes just like in a Kongo market with a “matabiche”. 3 The same idea as a baker’s dozen, a little extra to keep a customer returning to your stall by thanking them for their custom. Like the packet of bacon Frank, of Frank’s Sausages, gave us on Saturday.

You may think that eating local is a luxury for country folk, not so, there are markets all over NZ. So, as the guy on the TV advert says “Eat fresh!”

Notes   [ + ]

1. My chef son will remind me here that presentation is nine tenths of the flavour, but that’s not quite true.
2. The tale of the people who produced it, or at least the look of them if the stall was too busy for a chat.
3. The same idea as a baker’s dozen, a little extra to keep a customer returning to your stall by thanking them for their custom. Like the packet of bacon Frank, of Frank’s Sausages, gave us on Saturday.

Chocolate muffins (non-Vegan)

Chocolate muffins on a sunny Spring day πŸ™‚

Not Vegan because they use eggs, but then our freely ranging chooks produce several a day…

  • 1.25 cups flour
  • 2-3 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 cup sugar (at least some brown is nice)
  • 175 ml milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten (three if they’re from our quasi-bantam πŸ˜‰
  • 100 ml vegetable oil (soya or sunflower are good)
  • 75 g plain chocolate chunks
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Set oven to 160ΒΊC (a bit more if not a fan oven, c375 in the USA).
  2. Prepare a deep muffin tin (with paper cases or if you are stuck grease) it should make a dozen
  3. Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder
  4. Add sugar mix then make a well in the centre
  5. Pour in the milk, eggs, oil, chocolate, and vanilla
  6. Gently mix
  7. SpoonΒ  into the muffin tin
  8. Bake for approximately 15 mins or until springy
  9. Cool for 10 mins then transfer to a wire rack and leave any that remain uneaten until cold before putting them away in a tin for later πŸ™‚

I made these because I needed a break after finishing the course notes, I’ve eaten three while uploading this recipe, the only changes I’d make next time, apart from making sure we had paper cups so they could stand properly tall, would be to add more vanilla (we got some proper vanilla extract and it is so much better than imitation “essence”) and to use real dark chocolate instead of Bin Inn’s best chips.

Mushroom risotto

Photo by tristanf

1 Tbsp dried porcini mushrooms
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large or 2 small onions
3 garlic cloves
300g fresh mushrooms (I used half button, half portobello for cheapness and variety)
350g arborio rice
150ml white wine preferably dry
1+ litres hot vege stock
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp chives, spring onions or fennel
a little more oil, Avocado is nice as well as good Extra Virgin Olive (non-Vegans can use c25g Butter)
Salt and pepper
Non Vegans can top with grated Parmesan

 

Cover the dried mushrooms in hot water and soak (c15 mins), drain them.

Chop the onion and garlic finely. In a heavy saucepan big enough to take the full recipe, heat the olive oil and fry chopped onion and garlic (use a low heat, the idea is to sweat them until soft, not turn them to carbon). Chop the fresh mushrooms and fry them also for a few minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add wine and simmer, stirring often. When it has been absorbed add stock a little at a time. Keep stirring! Add stock (Remember it is important that this is hot, we don’t want to shock the poor little rice grains do we?) till the rice is tender.

Chop and add the porcini and parsley. Season and add the extra oil (or butter and Parmesan).

Lower fat vegetable oil pastry

This recipe (as well as being truly vegan 1 apart from the egg glaze – for which vegans will substitute soy milk. has no saturated or hydrogenated fat) for a lower fat pastry works well 2 Actually I’ve only tried the savoury version, but I imagine the sweet one does too πŸ˜‰

I found it on UK site “Grow your own Fruit and Vegetables” here. The writer does not give a name but developed the technique themself. I’ve tried it and it works.

Low fat pastry for a 20cm pie

  • 225g (8oz) flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs sugar (for sweet pastry omit this for savoury dishes)
  • 50g (2oz) vegetable oil (I used rice bran)
  • 4-5 Tbs water
  • 1 egg to glaze (Vegans use soy milk)

Whisk the water and oil in a small bowl with a fork, it will quite soon turn to a cloudy emulsified mixture.

Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl add salt (and for sweet pastry sugar).

Pour liquid into flour and pull together till it binds. If the mixture is too dry, add a little cold water. Do not overwork it or the pastry will become tough. (Barbara has been watching Britain’s Bake-off on TV so this lesson was drummed into me πŸ˜‰

Roll out thin and place (roughly half) onto the bottom of a well oiled pie plate. Patch any holes, brush with egg (this helps it become waterproof). Bake blind for 15 min at 210 C.

Add the filling and use the rest of the pastry to cover the pie, this time brush the outside with egg to glaze. Bake at 210 C until the top is brown and crisp πŸ™‚

NB:

Regular pastry uses lots of saturated or hydrogenated fat which makes it crisp and acts as waterproofing to keep the filling from making the pastry soggy. There are two things you can do to reduce this problem with low fat pastry:

  1. brush well with egg (yes, not just the top for decoration but the base of the pie too, to seal it)
  2. bake the base “blind” 3 Which means you bake the case before putting in the filling with ordinary (high fat) pastry this step is optional, while you can avoid it here you risk a soggy bottom πŸ˜‰

 

Notes   [ + ]

1. apart from the egg glaze – for which vegans will substitute soy milk.
2. Actually I’ve only tried the savoury version, but I imagine the sweet one does too πŸ˜‰
3. Which means you bake the case before putting in the filling

A repentant carnivore looks forward to a visit from the home-kill guy

...and you must admit they are looking good πŸ™‚

I’ve been busy this evening taking photos of the steers and gleefully posting them to Facebook. All this because Barbara wanted photos before the home-kill butcher visits on Tuesday. Because after hisd visit there will be three steers not four.

All of which, at least when I read some of my comments and replies on Facebook raises questions like: What’s a repentant carnivore doing slavering over the thought of juicy roasts and tender pastramis? Does this meat frenzy fit at all?

I think so, let’s conside where the meat will go:

  • The lion’s share (pun intended?) will go into our freezers to be enjoyed over coming months. It will have avoided the journey’s to the slaughter house and from there to the retail butcher or supermarket. Loads of carbon that won’t become dioxide.
  • Quite a bit will go to our children and friends. The same carbon dioxide savings (nearly).
  • Some will go to the church foodbank, and/or other places that will allow people on tighter budgets than us enjoy some prime beef.
  • Some will be roast or BBQed for parties.

Basically in all these cases the “food miles” will be way less than an equivalent commercial “product”. But what about the land? It could have produced veges instead of feeding beef… Well, yes and no, it can produce veges, we plan to increase the vege patch every year for a while. But before our house was built it didn’t it produced lambs, which made expensive trips to the slaughter house and then to the cities of NZ and the world… and no one would try to produce veges here commercially at 450m we are too high, too dry and too cold.

QED as part of a balanced diet home-kill beef is suitable for even a repentant carnivore.

Only, I now have to try harder to ensure that I am eating less meaty meals than I have over the last few months. Cooking to eat with others, who seem less repentant (or at least resistant to the delights of the bean), makes real repenting difficult.

Breads and dips

Again the photo is not our meal, I must get in the habit of taking shots of my food πŸ™ so, photo by jbcurio

One of the most pleasant Vegan lunches is breads and dips, most often when it’s just the two of us it is bread and dips, but several breads or toasts do help make it more special. The recipes are simple, keep well in the frig, and cheap too πŸ™‚

For lunch today we had hummus, skordalia, some olive oil with a little fruity balsamic at the bottom, and Miriam’s competition recipe Guacomole.

Miriam’s Vegan Guacamole

  • 1 perfectly ripe avocado (you can tell it’s perfect when then little knobbly bit where it used to be attached to the tree comes off easily when you nudge it gently-ish with your thumb).
  • 1/4 onion/red onion or one shallot or a couple of spring onions cut into tiny little pieces.
  • 1 small-medium sized tomato cut into equally tiny little pieces.
  • lemon or lime juice
  • plenty of salt and pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 3 or 4 good shakes of your favourite hot sauce (I favour Kaitaia fire)

Mash up the avocado with a fork, mix everything else in, add more lemon juice etc to taste.

I omitted the hot sauce, though I got quite used in Africa to adding chili paste to my meals I don’t like to add a little chili to everything as so many Kiwis do, I also reduced the salt, making a healthy dip even more healthy.

Romanesco and blue cheese

Romanesco fractals (photo By Nick Saltmarsh)

Typical of the use-less-resources recipes I’m expecting to post is the deliciously simple Romanesco and Blue Cheese. It’s a sophisticated yet frugal take on Cauliflower Cheese. Like Cauliflower Cheese it can be either a mildly sauced side dish for unrepentant carnivores, or the main attraction with other veges and carbohydrates as the meal.

 

Its simple get one of those fascinating fractal vegetables they call Romanesco (or Romanesco Broccoli or Broccoflower) cut it into florets and steam it. When cooked (I like it still slightly crunchy) add crumbled blue cheese (any cheap but sharp variety) and a dash of cream. Stir and salt to taste.

Simple as, but sophisticated and tasty. What I’m calling (with apologies to Ray McVinnie) “cheap smart and easy”.

The long wait ;)

OK, so most of you have not been waiting with bated breath, but still I owe explanations. First came the new property, a “lifestyle block”, which meant a new life(style). Then came Christmas and summer, and feeding twentysomethings in droves, then a frantically busy time that still has not really calmed to “normal”. During this time I have seldom lived up to my Repentant Carnivore dreams. Eggs come from the family chooks, they need to be used, meat is quick and easy and kept in the freezer…

Frankly, as we look forward to slaughtering and butchering a huge steer and filling the freezers with meat, I am not sure how two vegan meals a day will work!? But yet, the penitance is still present in the carnivore πŸ˜‰

So, I’m going to try to restart this blog. I’ll again post vegan recipes as I try them and like them, but more often I suspect – under the new regime, and until I actually live the life(style) instead of living a hectic weekly commute – I will post ideas, recipes and tips that allow the use of less resources even while featuring meat, cheese and eggs.(See next post for an example.)

Forgive me, sisters and brothers, it’s been weeks since the last post

Meet the boys

…and I’m sorry. Partly it’s the time of year, but mainly it’s been a change of life (no, not that sort). Buying and moving onto a lifestyle block between Tauranga and Rotorua while still working in Auckland has taken time and effort that might have been spent writing for you πŸ˜‰

But even more it makes being a repentant carnivore difficult. We have six chooks, who produce five eggs most days, that makes eating an average of only one non-vegan meal out (breakfast, lunch and tea) difficult, at least if that meal is not to be eggs almost every day. I like eggs, I enjoyed the (British) Egg Marketing board’s slogan: “Versatile as an egg” (I also enjoyed “Eggs is cheep!” but that’s another story πŸ˜‰ But I do fancy some meals with meat…

It will get worse, we now have four big beefy guys (well, they were to have been guys, before the operation) eating up the grass at an astonishing rate. All that grass is becoming prime (half Angus) beef. Soon I’ll need to remove the “repentant” entirely from the title…

I have tried another of the competition recipes, and once marking is finished (marking student assignments, not your recipes πŸ˜‰ I should be announcing the winner! But in the meanwhile I’ll make this confession.