Food: Raw vegan ‘semlor’

As it’s semlor season here in Sweden for Fettisdagen, or ‘Fat Tuesday’, when these buns are traditionally eaten before lent. The traditional semla is a cardamom- enriched bun with homemade marzipan, called ‘mandelmassa’ and plenty of whipped cream. For this raw vegan version, I’ve decided to use persimmon/ kaki/ Sharon fruit in place of the bun. I was going to use peaches, but they seem to be impossible to get at the moment, not being in season.  As I’ve used persimmon, I decided to top it with a bit of matcha powder, a nod to the asian heritage of the fruit,

 

Makes 6 mini semlor bites

To make you’ll need:

  • 3 persimmon/ kaki/ Sharon fruit
  • 1.5 litres of water
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp almond oil
  • 1 shot of amaretto (optional- don’t use if want to make it totally raw vegan)
  • 2 tbs raw agave syrup
  • 1tbs matcha powder, to top

For the mandelmassa:

  • 150g soaked almonds
  • 150g coconut sugar
  • 1-2 tbs water

For the coconut & cardamom cream:

  • The ‘cream’ from 2 tins of full fat coconut milk
  • 3 tbs raw agave syrup
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/ fresh vanilla bean

 

Start the night before by making up the syrup. Mix the water with the almond oil, agave and cardamom. I also added in some Amaretto, in the spirit of the decadance of a semla bun, but by all means, take it out.  3 big persimmon will make 6 mini semlor buns. To make them, I’d recommend slicing each fruit into 4 equal pieces and cutting out the middle with a round cookie-cutter. This should leave you with a top and bottom bun for each ‘semla’. If there is any lefover persimmon, simply chop it up and keep in the fridge, it’s a great addition to any curry or jerk recipe. De-leaf the top and place into a shallow dish. Once you have done this with all 3 fruits, cover with the syrup. This should soak up all those cardamom & almond flavours of the syrup. Leave overnight.

The next day, turn the persimmon buns in the syrup and make the mandelmassa. I used the recipe off this blog  to make it, but essentially, de-skin the almonds and blend it up with the coconut sugar in a food processor, adding a teaspoon or two of water to bind.

 

To make the cardamom cream, spoon out the coconut cream portion of 2 cans of full-fat coconut milk into a bowl, adding the ground cardamom, agave and vanilla bean paste. Whip up into a thick and aromatic cream.

 

When you’re ready to assemble your mini persimmon semla, take them out of the syrup and pat dry. roll a little ball of the mandelmassa and squish into the palm of your hands. Top the bottom of the buns with the disk of mandelmassa. Next, spoon on about a tablespoon of the cream. Top with the ‘top bun’ of persimmon and dust with some matcha powder.

 

Enjoy!

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Food: Saag Aloo soup

This is a great iron-rich soup, which is a much healthier and quicker alternative than the local takeaway!

You’ll need:

  • 3-4 medium potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 20g frozen spinach
  • 1 tbsp Garam Marsala
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 litre of water
  • Squeeze of lime juice
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Salt & pepper

 

Garnish:

  • 1 tbs coconut cream
  • Few coriander leaves
  • Vegetable pakoras

 

Start by chopping the potatoes into chunks, parboil them in a pan of salted water. Once done, drain and set aside.

Chop and fry the onion & minced garlic in a cast iron pot on a medium heat with a little oil until they’re soft and mellow. Add a splash more oil and add the spices & black pepper, and fry until they are all cooked out and the pan turns an opulent gold. Next, add in the potatoes, and coat them in this spicy mixture. Pour over the water and stir. Add in the lime juice and spinach, and stir lightly until it starts to thaw. Place the lid on, turn the heat down onto its lowest setting and leave the mixture bubble and cook for a further 8-10 minutes.

When the soup’s done its thing, take a hand blender and blitz the whole thing into a thick, velvety spiced soup.

Serve with a drizzle of coconut cream, some coriander and some pakoras on the side.

Enjoy!

Food: Sweet potato moqueca

This recipe started as a way to use up some leftover sweet potato I had in the pantry. By now, it’s one of my weekly favourites. Its super tasty and simple to make!

You’ll need:

  • 4 Medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 Large red onions
  • Glug of vegetable oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 1tsp Chilli flakes
  • 1 tbs Of palm oil
  • 2 Bell peppers (I used green & red)
  • 1tsp Of tomato pureé
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 tsp Ground coriander
  • 1tsp Of dried parsley
  • 1 tin Of peeled tomatoes
  • 100ml Of water
  • 1/2 Of coconut milk
  • 1 Vegetable stock pot
  • Squeeze of lime luice
  • Handful of jalapeños, chopped

Coconut Rice:

  • 1 Cup of rice (per person)
  • 1/2 tin of coconut milk
  • Water
  • 1 Dried chilli pepper

Garnish:

  • Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped.

 

Peel the sweet potatoes & chop into thick chunks. Boil them until soft in a pan of salted water. Once done, drain and set aside.

In a cast-iron pot, fry the onions – cut into strips & 2 cloves of garlic (minced) until soft. Add in a green & red bell pepper cut into chunks. Once everything has lost its toughness add in 2 tsp ground coriander, a sprinkle of chilli flakes, a big dollop of tomato pureé and a generous amount of fresh coriander. Add 1 tin of peeled tomatoes (taken and chopped into thick chunks on a chopping board) with its juice.

Fill up the tomato tin with water and add to the mix, getting out all the tomatoey goodness.

Then add in half a tin of coconut milk, a squeeze of lime juice, a vegetable stock pot, a few jalapeños and a tbs of palm oil – or dendê- which you can get online. Thankfully my mum had some Carotina oil – which is sustainably sourced, cold-pressed red palm fruit oil.

Finally add in the vegetables and season to taste. Cook incredibly slow for 3 hours.

Finish with loads of freshly chopped parsley and coriander.

I served mine with coconut rice, which I made by cooking the rice in seasoned water, the other half of the coconut milk and a dried chilli until fully cooked. The result is somewhat fluffy, somewhat sticky- FULL ON comfort food

I served mine with some lime Lemonaids, but a Brazilian beer such as a Brahma, would pair really nicely!

 

Bom apetite!

Food: Chocolate, blueberry and liquorice tarts

To finish off my Icelandic themed Saturday, celebrating the end of the chillingly good Icelandic drama, Trapped, I decided to make some Icelandic themed, Vegan friendly treats.

Chocolate, blueberries and liquorice make an amazing combination, and they come together brilliantly in these little tarts.

Makes 4 tarts.

To make, you’ll need:

  • 2 packs of Oreo cookies
  • 80g Vegan butter, melted
  • 150g dark chocolate (80% minimum), chopped
  • 250g coconut cream
  • 1 tbs liquorice powder, sifted
  • 1tbs golden syrup (agave/cornsyrup will also work!)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 handfuls of fresh blueberries
  • 1tbs blueberry jam
  • 100ml water.

Making these couldn’t be simpler. Start the bases by crushing up the Oreo cookies into rubble in a baggy and a rolling pin. I then used my mini food processor to get them into fine crumbs – alternatively, if you’ve got a large food processor do it in that. Once they are like breadcrumbs combine them in a mixing bowl with the melted butter. Press the black sludge into 4 tart tins – make sure you get into every corner and press it out evenly so that you get a level amount of filling in each. Place into the fridge to set for 30 minutes.

To make the ganache, melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir minimally, until it’s all melted. Take off the heat and set aside. Next, stir in the coconut cream until it forms a ganache. After it comes together, you can add in the golden syrup, salt and liquorice powder. Stir until it all comes together into a nice smooth and silky filling. Leave to cool, slightly.

The crusts should be ready by now. Take them out of the fridge and pour the ganache into them. Shake them, so they are level and them place back in the fridge, for a good couple of hours, if not overnight.

Just before you are ready to eat them. Take them out of the fridge and put a saucepan on the hob on a medium heat. Pour in 100ml of water and 1tbs of blueberry jam. It shouldn’t take long for the jam to dissolve and with a few stirs – it should come together into a nice glaze.

Top each tart with a handful of blueberries and brush on a nice layer of the glaze. It shouldn’t take long to set and it will look so much more professional – straight out of an Icelandic bakery!

Now, devour and Enjoy!

 

Food: Silk Road flapjacks

Here’s an easy flapjack recipe with a bit of an Eastern flair. Mind you, even though they are full of fruit, I wouldn’t exactly call these ‘healthy’ but they are damn tasty!

You’ll need:

  • 150g vegan butter (I used Vitalite)
  • 1 tbs agave nectar
  • 2 tbs golden syrup
  • 1 tbs good quality apricot conserve
  • 250g porridge oats
  • Pinch of salt
  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 2tsp ground cinnamon
  • Zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 80g mixed dried fruit, chopped finely  ( I used dates, prunes,figs, pears, sultanas and apricots)
  • 20g crystallised ginger, chopped finely
  •  10g dried goji berries
  •  A pinch of saffron
  • 20g fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 20g pumpkin seeds
  • 10g sesame seeds
  • Handful of flaked almonds (optional)

 

Start by melting the butter in a pan, on low heat. Add in the agave, golden syrup and conserve. Stir lightly until it’s all melded into a sticky caramel mixture. This should take a couple of minutes. Then, add in the ground cinnamon, vanilla and saffron strands and let them infuse for a couple of minutes. Whilst this is cooking, preheat the oven to 150°C and grease and line a square tin. Now, it’s time to add the oats and the coconut and the salt. Fold into the caramel and add the fruit, ginger, seeds & lime zest. Stir thoroughly and tip out into the lined tin. Press with either your hands or the back of a spoon, until it’s all level. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, leave to cool for 15 then cut into squares.

(An optional thing you could do is in the last 10 minutes of cooking, take it out and sprinkle some flaked almonds on top, then simply put it back in the oven, as normal.)

Hope you enjoy these exotic energy filled treats! They’d be great served with a pot of sweet mint tea.