Palm heart pie
In Brazil palm heart (or as we call, “Palmito”) is one of those food that is so common and typical that make us to think it’s something only from there. And true, living in Australia and New Zealand, some people have heard of it but no one had idea where to get it.
When I arrived in France, one of the surprises was that, HERE THERE IS PALMITO! And of course, I thought about the traditional palmito pie right away, finally I could make it.
My friend didn’t have a deep baking sheet as we do for that, so I adapted it into a pie pan, but do in whatever baking pan you have.
And after so many recipes with gluten, here we go again with a GLUTEN FREE RECIPE!
Since I made this recipe in a rush, I didn’t measure anything properly, so I will just write it down what I remember and you can adapt as necessary.
For the dough
1 1/2 cup. rice flour (brown rice flour is fine)
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup vegan margarine
3 Tsp olive oil
1 pinch of salt
Mix all the ingredients, adding more oil if necessary.
For the filling
4 ripe tomatoes, cubed
3 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
200g palm heart, sliced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 Tsp oil
1 cup non-dairy milk (no sugar added)
2 Tsp cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pan, add the oil and the onion and cook for about 6 minutes, add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, until golden brown. Add the chopped tomatoes, a pinch of salt and other spices you like. Cook for about 8 minutes, until the tomatoes get softer.
Dissolve the cornstarch into the non-dairy milk and add to the vegetables, cook for another 5 minutes, seasoning to taste.
Divide the dough into two parts, one for the base and one smaller for the top. Distribute the bigger into a pie tin.
Distribute the filling on top of the base.
Roll out the smaller portion, cut into stripes or cover completely the pie. Coat the top with soymilk or olive oil.
Bake in medium heat for approximately 20 minutes. Serve hot or even cold, it’s one of my favourite dishes anyway!
Polenta aux Lentil Bolognese
And after almost 8 months in Oceania I arrived for the first time in Europe, starting from Paris.
Ready for a historic immersion and aware that France is not exactly vegan friendly, apart from Paris, I was lucky to be hosted by a cool vegan that is also a food lover.
One recipe that I learned in New Zealand with my Brazilian friend (from a brazilian book that she had) was Polenta with Lentil Bolognese. After that, I found out that Lentil Bolognese is something common, I even saw the recipe for it in a box of lentils, I can’t remember if it was in New Zealand or here in Europe.
But I have to say that now it’s one of my favourite recipes, almost my brazilian rice and beans, especially because of the quick cooking time.
Obviously, fresh cooked lentils are way better than those canned ones, the texture is better, more flavourful, but when in a rush, canned are a quick solution. Not that they are good for the environment, of course, canned products require way more resources then buying them dried in bulk.
This recipe I made in Paris, watching Simpsons in french, my first contact with the TV over here. I did it once more in Saint Laurent du Pont, in the french alps, with my friends over there.
Here it goes:
1 cup dried polenta
5 cup water
mixed herbs to taste
thyme to taste
salt to taste
In a pot, bring the water to a boil, add the polenta carefully with a whisk or a fork. Stir constantly to not burn the bottom and cook for about 15 or 20 minutes.
1 large onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tomato paste and 1/2 cup water
or 4 large ripe tomatoes
1 cup cooked lentils (or 1 can)
1 cup cubed zucchinis (optional)
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp sugar (to reduce acidity)
mixed herbs to taste
salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet, warm up the oil and saute the onions for about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes or the tomato paste, salt, sugar, and cook for about 6 to 10 minutes. If using zucchini, add it after the first 5 minutes.
Season to taste.
To serve, you can make individual portions on a dish with polenta and pour the bolognese on top of it, or spread the polenta in a baking dish and cover with the bolognese then cut in squares to serve.
Sprinkle nutritional yeast to serve. In France I found this brand Gerblé, that is basically wheat germ and nutritional yeast mix, and is really yummy.
I had it with pickles, bread and a black raddish with margarine. Very french.
Hazelnut chocolate mousse with candied orange zest
That sounds fancy, I know, but I wanted to make sure that you won’t have any hard-to-find ingredient for this one. There’s no special type of tofu or maybe-not-so-ripe-yet or expensive off season avocado. There’s no many hours before soaked cashew and even hazelnut is optional (you can just use hazelnut flavour if you like). But being my last night in New Zealand (that’s right, I’m leaving New Zealand after being here for almost 7 months) and wanting to thank Niq for being such a sweet host, I really wanted to come up with something special but easy enough so I didn’t have to buy any new ingredient since my budget is pretty limited now.
I wanted to come up with a recipe that I can make wherever I am, even with lack of tools, but still be able to surprise my host with something unexpected.
You can make it as fancy as you want, if you want to add some Amaretto or other liquor, or if you want to use special type of chocolate, add coffee, mint flavouring, or anything, feel free to do it. But even if you don’t do it, it will still be fancy enough!
I used hazelnuts because I found some in a free shelf when I was in Lyttelton with friends. Was a big surprise and I was thinking of making a vegan nutella with it, but the mousse seemed more appealing to me.
The texture is heavier then a normal mousse, but you can get a better consistency with more soymilk and few minutes in a blender, if you like.
What you will need is:
3/4 cup of melted dark chocolate
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup soymilk
1 Tbsp arrowroot or corn starch
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup shelled hazelnuts
If using hazelnuts:
Preheat oven to 180ºC, place the hazelnuts in a baking tray and bake for about 8 min until aromatic and the skin is cracking. Rub the hazelnuts with your hands or a clean towel to remove the skin.
Chop the hazelnuts and set aside.
For the mousse:
Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 1 min or using a bowl on hot water.
Add the soymilk and the sugar to a small sauce pan and bring it to a boil, mix the starch with some soymilk or water and add to the pan, then add the vanilla, stirring constantly until you have a smooth custard.
If you have a blender, add the cream, the melted chocolate and half of the hazelnuts. Blend it until smooth. If you don’t have a blender, whisk it well with a fork but don’t add the nuts.
Half fill the small serving dishes with cream, spread some chopped nuts and add more cream on top.
Put in the fridge for at least one hour.
For the candied orange zest
1 orange zest cut into long thin strips
60 ml orange juice, strained
1/4 caster sugar
Cut the zest into long thin strips, the thinner the quicker will cook.
Place all ingredients into a small sauce pan, cook for about 6 min in low heat, adding more orange juice if needed, until the zest is soft.
Pour the candied zest on top of the mousse, add some more nuts and cocoa powder on top of it and serve.
Zwiebelkuchen - German Onion Cake
Disclaimer: Unfortunatelly this post is not gluten free. Shame on me =(
For the day after the Mexican dinner, I suggested Nick, my host and friend here in Christchurch, a German recipe because I know we can get some good vegan sausages here in New Zealand and Germany is the country I’m really looking forward to go.
I googled “sausage german recipe pie” and I ended up finding Zwiebelkuchen, or onion cake, which actually uses bacon instead of sausage (how google showed me that?) and the most common vegetarian bacon here is not vegan and the chinese vegan bacon I couldn’t find in Christchurch. The other ingredients were cheese and heavy cream, none of which I can find decent vegan options available here. Not to say I have no caraway seeds for seasoning, which is the main spice for it. But, fear not, big challenges should be welcomed, and I accepted the fact that I will come up with something that looks like, but far from the original. It must be tasty, nevertheless.
Since I don’t have a blender to make a thick cashew cream and coconut cream wouldn’t be a good addition to sausage, I decided to go with a vegan white sauce and that’s it. It wasn’t tasty enough so I added some white wine, that made it.
The dough was another challenge, I didn’t have time nor ingredients to play with gluten free dough, the original recipe asked for sourdough starter, but after adapting it so much, I ended up buying a ready pastry pie base and not feeling bad about it.
Here is the recipe.
For the filling
5 or 6 white onions, chopped
400g vegan sausages or vegan bacon, sliced
1/4 cup roasted cashew, chopped
1/4 cup pitted olives, chopped
margarine or oil
1/2 cup vegan white wine
In a large frying pan, heat the margarine, add the chopped onions and cook for about 7 to 10 min until golden brown, add the sausages and the herbs and cook for another 5 to 7 min. When it starts to burn, add the white wine, olives and the roasted cashew. Let it cook until you can’t taste the alcohol. Set aside.
For the white sauce
2 Tbsp white flour
3 Tbsp margarine
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup soymilk
salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan, melt the margarine add the flour and mix well avoiding any lumps. Cook for about 5 min in low heat to minimize the flour taste. Add the soymilk and white wine, stirring well.
Cook until smooth, stirring constantly, add the olive oil for a final taste and turn off the heat.
Assembling the pie:
In a round pizza pan or any other baking sheet you have available, place the pastry sheet, distribute the sausage filling and pour the white sauce on top of it. You can pour 1 Tbsp of olive oil to make it shiny.
Bake for about 15 min on 200ºC and serve with salad.
This is how the original looks like, not SO different, right?
Gluten free considerations:
This is a tricky recipe to make gluten free. The sausage must be gluten free and I’ve never made a gluten free white sauce.
For the pastry, I would go with a “heavy gluten” gluten free flour, which is basically 1 part of chickpea flour to 1/2 part rice flour, 1/2 part potato starch and 1/4 of tapioca starch. Sourdough flour might also be a good option for this one, because the wine will help to deceive the strong flavour of the flour.2
Fast food 2 - Nachos
I asked Nick what I should cook for us and told him to choose a country. Mexico was the first one that come to him. Beside I’m a latin-american, guacamole has never been part of my diet (in Brazil it’s weird to have savoury avocado, we usually have it sweet) and I thought it could be a good holiday challenge since we had some ripe avos at home.
Since we were hungry, we wanted it to be as quick as possible, so, the recipe wasn’t supposed to be as traditional as possible, neither fancy, but instead the plain basic “whatever we have in the pantry” method to feed two starving guys.
We went to the supermarket on the way home but I had no idea what to buy. I thought that onion and tomato were basic needs, corn chips, mushrooms and of course, beans (so glad that here we can find canned beans, in Brazil it’s not so easy and quite expensive). If something else was missing I would just use my creativity to come up with a solution at home.
I started with guacamole:
2 ripe avocados
1 tomato, cubed
1 yellow or red small onion, cubed
1 Tblsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp chilly powder (or 1/2 t paste)
salt and black pepper to taste
With a fork, mash the avocado, add the other ingredients and it’s done! That’s right, simple as that.
Then we had to make the salsa:
1 can mexican beans (or 1 1/2 cup cooked beans)
1 large tomato chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 t cummin (optional)
1/4 tsp chilly powder
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
Heat a frying pan, add oil and cook the onions until it starts to brown (aprox 5 min), add the chopped tomatoes, mushrooms and the spices and cook for another 3 min or so, add the beans and if it’s too dry, add more water. Cook for about 6 min.
Serve with corn chips and if you have, some vegan sour cream or mayo.
Fast food 1 - Lentil patties
It’s been weeks, if not months that I don’t feel like cooking. To travel can set you free or can set you trapped into yourself sometimes. And I have to say, it hasn’t been always easy.
My last week in New Zealand, and after a long road trip with friend having some wonderful moments and some really stressful times as well, finally it’s time to enjoy my last few days in Christchurch, the earthquake capital. After here I’m heading to Europe, starting from Paris.
Here in Christchurch was the first time I experienced a quake, it’s a bit scary I have to say, but I know that there’s no way it will be a serious one, but feel the shakes is routine around here, even this morning we had another one of those so called “after-shock”, the shakes that happen after an earthquake, which is actually not another “earthquake” but just the earth moving to fill the gaps created by the main quake, at least that’s what I’ve been told.
Here I met really nice people, made new friends and was the first place I felt like home after I started travelling last April. I mean, the city as a whole, not just the good friends.
And when one of my friends was coming over to go to Hanmer Springs, I decided to make a lentil patty for lunch with everything I had. I wanted to make it gluten free and luckily I had some flours at home.
The recipe is roughly the following, I haven’t use any measurements, so you might have to adjust a bit:
1 can of brown lentils (or 1 1/2 cup of cooked lentils)
1/2 chopped broccoli
1 yellow onion chopped
1/4 cup sourdough flour or another gluten free flour
1/4 cup chickpea flour
salt and pepper to taste
margarine or oil to stir pan fry
Heat up some oil and add some onion, cook it for about 5 min and add the broccoli until it softens. Add the lentils, salt and pepper and turn off the heat.
Put the vegetables in a bowl, add the flours and mix well.
Shape the patties and pan fry them with margarine or oil.
Make the burger with slices of bread, salad, slices of tomatoes and avocados.
If I had some corn, parsley or spring onions I think I would have added them to the dough.
Gluten free secrets
I was talking to a friend and he mentioned the challenges of measuring by cups instead of by flour weight.
Since I’m a traveller and I rely primarily on what my hosts have, it’s rare to have a scale. Despite that, I found that the key on gluten free baking are two things:
1 - To use at least 1/4 cup of tapioca starch in a normal recipe (2 to 3 cups of other flours) so it will help binding
2 - Check the batter consistency. It must be runny as you can see in this one here
3 - (UPDATED) Another friend asked me what do I use instead of eggs. In fact this question has multiple answers. The binding agents in the recipes are tapioca starch and/or xanthan gum (if using wheat or spelt flour, there’s no need for it because gluten will do the trick).
To keep the moisture, you can use 1/4 cup to 1 cup of apple sauce, mashed banana or any other fruit puree. It also gives another depth of flavour.
For leavening agent, usually you add more baking powder then usual, plus baking soda. Also note that the water or vegetable milk are usually added hot, so it helps activating the tapioca starch and the leavening agents.
So, if you are trying to make one of my recipes and you end up with a heavy batter, add 1/4 cup of hot water or more if needed, until you get the right consistency.
And if you don’t have tapioca starch, it’s a good idea to use egg replacer, xantham gum or guar gum, or it will probably be too crumbly.
I hope it helps you to explore more vegan gluten free recipes2
I have to say that because vegan chocolate is so easy to find here in Australia and New Zealand, I was getting sick of it. So I wanted to make something cheap, tasty and chocolate free. Then, it came to me “why not an apple something”?
As soon as I made this apple-cinnamon muffin, it became one of my favourites, and all my friends in Christchurch seemed to agree because in few minutes there was nothing left.
After I’ve found the Babycakes book my life changed completely, and it keeps changing it every new recipe I master. Delicious and easy gluten free cakes for me. And here in New Zealand they have that book and dozens of other great vegan books in public libraries!
Since the first time I’ve got it, two ingredients scared me a bit (actually three, but I will talk more about that one later).
Coconut oil are quite expensive for the amount is required in the recipe, specially if using organic coconut oil, but I found that in indian shops it’s possible to find more affordable ones, and also it’s possible to use any kind of flavourless vegetable oil, like rice bran oil or organic canola oil. But for frosting and some other recipes like some cookies, coconut oil is required.
Chickpea flour (gram flour/besan) is quite hard to find in Brazil, not so hard in the countries I’ve been travelling, which is great. But I found out that fava bean flour can also be used instead.
Regarding Xantham Gum, I found that if using 1/4 cup of tapioca starch, it is not required for home baking, but if it’s for selling, might improve the texture. It’s also possible to use twice as much of Guar Gum to help binding.
And if you are asking yourself “why gluten free”? I’ve met quite few people that had some improvements after spending some time on a gluten free diet. It’s not an allergy, but just makes you feel better. Also it helps to include more variety in you diet, instead of wheat bread, cake, pasta and wheat everything else.
So, here’s the recipe:
1 cup of roasted apples (recipe follows)
1 1/4 cup of chickpea flour (or fava bean flour)
1/2 cup potato starch or corn starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup coconut oil or vegetable oil
2/3 cup raw sugar or agave nectar
2/3 cup hot rice milk or any other non-dairy milk (or even hot water)
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
Pre-heat the oven on 190º / 375F and line a 12-cup muffin tin
In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well incorporated. Finally add the roasted apples carefully.
Pour about 1/2 cup batter into each prepared cup and bake them for about 22 minutes, rotating 360º after 12 minutes.
Try with a toothpick until it comes out clean and the muffins are golden brown.
1- Peel, core and dice about 3 apples (pink lady and/or granny smith) into 2 inches / 2.5 cm cubes
2 - In a bowl, mix the cubed apples with:
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp raw sugar or apple
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 - Distribute evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake on 325F/190º C for about 35 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 20 minutes.
You can double or triple this recipe and keep in an airtight container or mash them into apple sauce to use in other recipes. Keep in the fridge up to 1 week.1
Very Brazilian Beans
The first thing a latin american person will miss when travelling around the world is beans. It doesn’t matter how many mexican restaurants are in the country, it will never be the same, and we end up with a growing craving for real beans.
And beside tofu and lentils are quite easy to find in the countries I’ve been to, as so is falafel (a mashed chickpea deep-fried dish), I usually miss those very Brazilian beans, seasoned with onion, garlic and bay leaves.
Without a pressure cooker things get more complicated, and in countries where beans are not so popular, they tend to think that pressure cooker is just to cook those hard pieces of meat.
But since I love to cook Brazilian food everywhere I go, in houses with no pressure cooker, there’s nothing left but to wait. So, here in Wellington, New Zealand, I made some pinto beans (which are the closer to the brown brazilian beans).
300g of pinto beans (soaked overnight)
3 bay leaves
1 cube of vegetable stock
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cups dried shiitake mushrooms, sliced and soaked in 1/2 cup of water
Coriander or parsley
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Sea salt to taste
Cook the beans and bay leaves with enough water to cover the beans about 10 cm / 4 inches for about 1h20 in a pot, half covered with a lid (25 min if using a pressure cooker after it gets to full pressure) or until it’s soft.
Scoop out about 1 cup of cooked beans, mash them with a fork until you have a bean paste.
In a frying pan, add the oil, the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Finally add the mashed beans, the mushrooms with the water and the coriander, cook until it thickens up.
Pour the refried beans into the pot again and cook for about 7 minutes. If you want even thicker, mash another 1/2 cup of beans an return to the pot, cooking for extra 5 minutes.
Serve with brown rice and salad.
The original Brazilian taste.
Pressure cooker tips:
1 - Never fill it up with over 1/2 if mostly liquids (like whole maize ears) or 3/4 if mostly solids (like beans or rice)
2 - Be careful with foods that produce lots of foam, like soybeans or peas. Rinse them thoroughly before cooking or cook in a normal pot instead.
3 - The cooking time is always after it’s on full pressure.
4 - Don’t open until all the pressure has been released.
5 - To accelerate the cooling time, after few minutes off, put it down under running tap water. Again, don’t open until you notice no pressure in it.7
Vegan Brazilian Cheese Bread
As a good Brazilian I used to love cheese bread. I used to eat it with margarine or plain, but because of my father, I also used to like it with honey. But, this traditional delight is nothing close to vegan, full of cheese and eggs, but now we have Nutritional Yeast (that is not the same as Brewers Yeast or Savory Yeast). The flavour from brands like Red Star and Bragg are the only I really like (this one for Australia and New Zealand).
You can make without nutritional yeast for sure, especially if you use sour tapioca starch (usually found on Brazilian markets).
In Melbourne I was staying with a friend which his sister is married to a Brazilian and lives in Brazil. So I decided to veganize something traditional for my friend.
Since most recipes I found on internet for it are usually too greasy I tweaked a little bit, but if you still find it greasy when working with the dough, just add few extra tablespoons of tapioca starch.
You can make it without nutritional yeast for sure, especially if you use sour tapioca starch, but it gives a special punch.
My favorite, although, is not the cheesy one, but a version with a type of a yellow sweet potato called “mandioquinha”, but while we can’t find nutritional yeast in Brazil I couldn’t find “mandioquinha” overseas. I could find yam, but I don’t think it’s as tasteful as the brazilian one.
It’s basically a gluten free recipe, but in case of being intolerant to wheat or gluten, check the nutritional yeast or misso if using, to see if it’s gluten free too.
1 1/2 cup tapioca starch (notes 1)
1 cup mashed potatos (notes 2)
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (notes 3)
salt to taste
spices to taste (notes 4)
Cook the potatos until very soft, drain and mash the potatos.
In a bowl resistent to heat, like metal ones, add tapioca starch, mashed potatos and the nutritional yeast. Heat up the oil in a frying pan and pour over the mix. Add water slowly, mixing often, until you get a smooth consistency but without being sticky.
Oil slightly a baking sheet, form balls with the doughs about the size of a golf ball, and put them on the baking sheet distributing evenly with a gap of about 5 cm.
Pre-heat the oven to 220˚ C / 428F and bake for about 20 minutes, until it gets a crispy crust.
Let them cool down and serve with vegan margarine, vegan cream cheese, molasses or agave.
1: You can use 1 cup of tapioca starch and 1/2 cup sour starch which can be found in brazilian groceries. It will give an even cheesier taste and better texture. The tapioca starch can be found in most asian markets (I have no idea why they use it for, by the way).
2: You can also use sweet potatoes (kuruma) or yam
3: The nutritional yeast is optional. You can also use 1/4 cup of misso or don’t use anything. In that case, just add about 3 tblsp of tapioca starch.
4: You can season, instead of nutritional yeast, with garlic, oregano or a mix of onion and parsley.0