Store Cupboard Recipe 5: Jam Tarts

As restrictions are slowly in the process of being removed in most parts of the world, this will be the last of my vegan store cupboard recipe series for a while. It has been an interesting exercise in seeing how long I can eat a varied diet without popping to the shops regularly. However, I do hope we will all be able to return to our usual routines soon!

The ingredients for these tarts are bound to be in anyone‘s store cupboard or refrigerator. And when that craving for something sweet grabs you, why not whisk up a batch of these! They are very quick and easy, and go beautifully with a cup of tea. Just in case you have never made these before, here is the recipe.

Jam Tarts

For approx. 18 tarts you will need:

  • Some muffin or patty tins, greased, and a cookie cutter
  • 250 g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 125 g (1 stick and 1tbsp) very cold margarine or vegan butter, cut into small chunks
  • a little cold water
  • Jam of your choice

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F)

Make shortcrust pastry by rubbing the margarine into the flour with fingertips until fine and crumbly. Add just enough cold water to bring the dough together into a ball. (Tip: shortcrust pastry freezes really well – I only made 12 tarts and froze the remaining pastry for a rainy day. 😃)

Roll out on a floured surface to about 3mm (about 1/8 inch) and, using a cookie cutter that fits your patty tins, cut out shapes and place in the tins. Add a heaped teaspoon of jam to each. I used several different jams – strawberry, apricot and blackcurrant.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the pastry starts turning golden and the jam is bubbling. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before removing from the tins.

Enjoy!

 

The Ice Saints, May 2020

Modern art, you may ask?

No, it’s a young Gingko tree, given to us by friends when we moved here, and wrapped up in garden fleece!

In Germany the final frosts of the year according to ancient folk sayings are mid-May, on the four Saint‘s Days from 12th to 15th May. And until today they are surprisingly accurate. Last night the 11th-12th was Saint Pankratius and we had a couple of degrees of frost. Tonight is Saint Servatius and temperatures could drop below zero again… a nightmare for gardeners who have been tempted by an exceedingly mild and warm April and early May to plant up pots of Pelargoniums and vegetables and sow annuals…

The Cold Frame

Thank goodness for garden fleece and various bits of packing materials saved for wrapping up sensitive plants. And for our trolley, which came in handy for gathering up these pots to put under cover for the night.

The zucchini and butternut are in pots this year as the ongoing drought deterred us from starting a vegetable bed again this spring. Maybe next year… In the meantime, it means wrapping up pots overnight. These looked a bit peaky this morning when I took the photo, but by the afternoon they had perked up, albeit with some slight leaf damage despite the fleece wrapping.

With our greenhouse plans also postponed for at least another year, I invested in this mini patio greenhouse. It has been worthwhile, with room for twelve trays. And with a bit of garden fleece it stays above freezing overnight. It was delivered in a trillion pieces though, so don’t ask how long it took me to put it together! 😫

At the beginning of our lockdown in mid-March I panicked a bit and worried I would not get any tomato plants, as even if our garden centres ever opened again there would be a rush for them. So I ordered a mix of tomato seeds from a Russian lady not far from us who has a private nursery and usually sells young plants in spring. They are all old varieties brought over from Russia by her parents, and so are not EU certified (so I can‘t eat them… 🤪🤣😉) and ALL of them germinated! So I now have 28 healthy young plants and cannot give them away as I can‘t visit anyone! I think I will be spending all summer watering…

Tomatoes, Tithonia, Sunflowers, salad leaves and a couple of leftover zucchini plants

Some dahlia tubers freshly planted in pots were brought indoors, as were my Lemon Verbena plants. I have been coddling these darlings, bringing them indoors every night.

I love lemon verbena tea and dry the leaves so I can enjoy it all year round. Last year my plants did not thrive and I had to ration my remaining tea. I hope this year I can refill my stock. 😀

The last of our Ice Saints is the dreaded ‘kalte Sophie’, cold Saint Sophia on the 15th, and it looks like that might be our last frosty night…. I do hope so as the wrapping up and unwrapping is getting a bit ridiculous!

How do you cope with late frosts? Is there a specific date for the last ones where you live?

🌷❄️🌷

Store cupboard recipes 3 and 4

I have been craving sweet stuff recently and made myself some flapjacks. After all, you only need sugar, margarine and oats! If you have golden syrup even better.  Mine were bit crumbly, but this recipe I am linking to uses half sugar and half syrup, so give yourself a treat and give it a go!

BBC website Flapjacks recipe

Of course, mine were vegan, using margarine instead of butter. And I added a little maple syrup. Other options for spicing them up would be adding a teaspoon of cinnamon or cardamom. Or a handful of dried cranberries.

The second recipe is one I have been meaning to post for years! It is an old favourite for a quick and tasty dinner when there are no fresh veggies left in the fridge. I think it was originally a rice salad that ‘evolved’ into a hot dish. I call it  simply ‘Curry rice’. 😃

Curry Rice

All you need for two to three portions is:

  • 200g basmati rice
  • About 2 tbsps margarine
  • 1-2 tbsps curry powder (depending on how hot your curry powder is!)
  • 200g (frozen) green beans
  • 200g tin of sweetcorn
  • Salt and black pepper

Warm a large serving dish in the oven. Cook your rice and your green beans separately, according to the instructions on the packets. When the beans are cooked, turn off the heat, add the sweetcorn and leave for a couple of minutes to warm through. Then drain.

Mix the rice, beans and corn, the margarine and the seasoning thoroughly and place in your warm serving dish.

We like this with homemade naan bread or spicy fried tofu cubes. You could in fact serve it as a side dish but we like a big portion, so it is a main meal in our house!

Hope you too are eating well during lockdown. 😉

P.S. Here are a few more recipes that can be made with minimum ingredients:

Falafel

Cannellini and Tomato Bake

Vegan Milchreis

 

Store cupboard recipe 2: Garlic spaghetti

I am sharing another of our favourite vegan store cupboard recipes. This is great with a fresh salad, but failing that we have also eaten it with frozen peas or broccoli. As you may have noticed, we love garlic. And in times like these we do not have think about whether we can eat it without offending anyone the next day! 😜

Garlic spaghetti


It is so quick and simple to make.

For two people you will need:

  • 300g spaghetti
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6+ cloves of garlic, depending on their size (or add an extra two or three!)
  • 1 packet smoked tofu or vegan bacon, chopped into cubes (normal tofu is also good as long as you season it really well)
  • approx 200ml good olive oil
  • herbs, dried or fresh, for sprinkling
  • vegan parmesan or nutritious yeast for sprinkling
  • lots of salt and black pepper

While your spaghetti is cooking, sautée the onion in olive oil until soft, then add the garlic and switch off the heat. In a separate pan fry the tofu in a little olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Mix the onion, garlic and tofu together and serve over the spaghetti. Sprinkle with herbs etc.

Enjoy!

xxx

 

Store cupboard recipe 1: Vegan (garlic) mayonnaise

One of the first things we did when we became vegan a few years ago was to invest in a powerful mixer. We chose a German one – ‘bianco di puro’ – developed with a vegan lifestyle in mind. In fact the company promotes veganism with their product at fairs and exhibitions nationwide.

It was a fabulous investment, and we use it several times a week. I make my cashew sauce with it, but the best thing I use it for is our mayonnaise. Finding a tasty egg-free mayo is not easy in Germany, so a few years ago I started experimenting. It took several attempts to get it right and it has been fine-tuned over time as well. I would like to share this ‘recipe’ with you today as all the ingredients are probably in your pantry. But do bear in mind that differing ingredients and mixers may produce different results and patience is required until it turns out perfectly!

You will need:

  • 100ml soya milk
  • 1 1/2 tsps white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic (optional)
  • 150 ml vegetable oil (I use about 100 ml rapeseed oil and 50 ml sunflower oil, but you can experiment to find what you like best)

Mix all of the ingredients except the oil in your mixer at high speed for about 20 seconds.

Set the speed to low and now gradually add the oil with the motor running. When all the oil is added, switch to high speed for about ten seconds. Your mixture should now be creamy and have a thick mayonnaise consistency. Refrigerate until using and eat within 24 hours. (It may start to separate if kept longer.)

I do hope you will try this if you have a high-speed mixer. It does work in a normal mixer too, but my experience was that it did not thicken up as much. It tastes fantastic just with bread and salad, and is ideal (without the garlic) for homemade coleslaw too. 😃

Seasonal Tip: adding a leaf or two of wild garlic instead of using normal garlic gives it a delicate garlic flavour and a beautiful green tinge. 😃

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Cardamom and Almond Cake (Vegan)

With January almost over (yippee!), and the days becoming noticeably longer (another yippee!) I hope to have a flower or two to share very soon. But in the meantime I decided to make my Cardamom and Almond Cake again, so that I can share the recipe with you. I made it at New Year and it was so good, but not as cardamommy as I had hoped. So today I added an extra teaspoonful of this delicious spice and it was perfect!

It reminds me a little of the (non-vegan) Swedish Visiting Cake I made a few years ago, with a soft spongy texture, the contrasting crispy flaked almond topping, and of course the lovely aroma. And this one is of course vegan. 😃

So here is my recipe – my second for Veganuary 2020. Please let me know if you try it as it is my own creation!

Cardamom Almond Cake

Preheat your oven to 180° C (350°F) and grease and flour a 24 cm (9 inch) baking tin.

In a large bowl, sift together:

  • 250g (2 cups) self-raising flour
  • 50g (1/2 cup) ground almonds or almond flour
  • a pinch of baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsps cornflour
  • 6 tsps ground cardamom spice

In a pan, melt:

  • 60g (half stick) vegan butter
  • with 250g (1 1/4 cups) sugar
  • and then add 60 ml (4 tbsps) vegetable oil (eg rapeseed oil)

In a dish, mix:

  • 450ml (2 cups) plain unsweetened soya yoghurt
  • a dash of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsps soya milk

In addition you need about 25g (1oz) flaked almonds.

Now pour all the wet ingredients into the sieved flour mixture and gently fold in. You should not beat or mix, only fold. And watch the bubbles appear as the chemistry does its magic! Pour into your prepared tin immediately, scatter flaked almonds on top and place in your hot oven. Bake for about 35-40 minutes. I made half this recipe (8 slices) in an 18 cm (7 inch) tin today and it only needed about 35 minutes. Do check regularly though, as the almonds may start to burn if it is in too long.

Here is the larger cake:

And here is a slice for you to try…. 😉

Enjoy!

And have a good week!

😃

Homemade Potato Soup and Life in January

It tends to go a bit quiet here in January at Words and Herbs, with frosty days and chill winds keeping the gardener indoors. But inside it is warm and my kitchen is welcoming.

And with January also becoming known as Veganuary in the UK (and anywhere else?) I simply can‘t let the month pass without posting a recipe or two.

😃

If you haven‘t heard of Veganuary, it is basically a month of vegan eating to get the new year off to a healthy start – and to promote a vegan lifestyle. Magazines are full of ideas for new vegans or for people who simply want to try out a plant-based diet. For old vegans like me I find the magazines rather repetitive and full of time-consuming recipes using trendy ingredients that are either unavailable in our part of the world or out of season or horribly expensive!

So here is a simple and delicious recipe using ingredients you probably have in your pantry already, created at the request of my Man of Many Talents who grew potatoes for the first time last year. (They were a big success – here is one of our harvests!)

I hoped to make the soup like his Mum used to, but I believe she must have used celeriac, which I have never tried – I substitute with a parsnip. 😉 If you see soup recipes in German they usually say ‚Suppengrün‘ which is typically pieces of vegetables like this, sold in our supermarkets in bunches:

My version comes pretty close to the original though. Please let me know what you think if you try it. It has become a favourite in our house!

German Potato Soup

You will need:

  • 1 kg potatoes (any sort will do!), peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs (and 1tsp of marjoram if you have any)
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A good glug of olive oil

Heat the oil in a very large saucepan and sauté the onions and leek until nice and soft. Add all the other vegetables and put the lid on for a few minutes. Add the stock and herbs (save the parsley for just before serving) and simmer gently until the vegetables are cooked through – about 20 or 25 minutes. Allow to cool a little. Now the important part!. We like whole pieces of vegetables in our soup, but with a creamy consistency too, so I take my hand blender and pulse very briefly to break down some of the larger chunks of potato.

Add the chopped parsley (and chives go well too) and stir through. Serve with crusty bread, pretzels, crisps or croûtons. 😜

Enjoy!

P.S. I usually make an extra large pot of this soup and freeze some for a rainy day. 😉