Author

Mihl

This week sucked. After the political thing that happened on Tuesday I didn’t feel very motivated to post anything about food anyway. Sorry, Vegan MoFo! Then F and I also got sick. But I guess we all still need stuff to cheer us up, right? And why not use some colourful food for that? Like these kale tortillas which I made a couple of weeks ago.

The original recipe for these is by one of my favourite cookbook authors: Terry Hope Romero. In her book Viva Vegan! there is a flour tortilla recipe that I have been making for years. It’s such a simple recipe and the tortillas always come out perfectly pliable and tasty. Over the last few years I made many different variations and my latest one included kale pulp. Yes, that is right. I juiced some kale.

We Germans have a very traditional relationship with kale. To most it is a boring winter vegetable. In Northern Germany it is an important winter staple. Cooked in fat and served with potatoes and sausage or meat it makes a filling and tasty meal. (Veganising it is a breeze, especially with all the tofu and seitan sausages around these days.) I used to eat this a lot when I was a kid. And everyone always told me that kale had to be cooked for at least an hour to be digestible. Ha!  A few years ago it completely blew my mind that you don’t have to cook kale for that long to make it edible. This discovery has made this vegetable much more versatile for me.

kale tortillas

At work this green has been popping up since late summer, which is very unusual. Here kale is often not harvested before the first frost, because freezing makes it sweeter. Or at least that is what my parents and grandparents used to say. And look what I also found. Purple kale. So weird. After all the German name for kale is Grünkohl (green cabbage). But since we also have purple kohlrabi and purple carrots, why not?

With its tough skin and chewy texture this green (ha) is really great for wintery recipes such as warming stews and traditionally meat and potato dishes. Putting it in a salad or a smoothie? Nah, that is not gonna happen for most people. Every year when kale season starts, I get very exited. And I tend to buy all the kale. At first it took me some time to get accustomed of the texture and taste of fresh kale that is only briefly cooked. When we used to make kale dishes at home, we often bought the chopped and frozen kind and then as I already said, cooked it for a good amount of time. Now I love kale stir fries or I use some thinly sliced leaves in my tomato sauce. And my daughter loves her monster juice, which is a smoothie made with lots of fruit and one or two small kale leaves. For one of our last smoothies I experimented a bit and suddenly found myself juicing the kale.

kale tortillas

Juicing is something I have never really liked. I think it is weird.  Why would you do this instead of making a smoothie? You have to throw half of your produce away. Since that really bothered me I came up with methods to put the pulp in my bread. I made rolls and loaves and then transitioned to tortillas.

Usually you’ll need an expensive kitchen appliance for juicing. An appliance, which is high maintenance because you have to clean it a lot.Our at least that is what I’ve heard since I don’t own a juicer. Whenever I juice I use a very simple method: I put about two cups of kale (144 g) and one cup of water in my blender and blend until the vegetables turn into a smoothie. Then I place a small laundry bag in a large measuring container. (Seriously people, don’t buy nut bags, if you can avoid it. Your drugstore might have really cheap laundry bags made from almost the same material. They work just as well.)

juicing kale with a laundry bag

You’ve got to use your hands to press out as much liquid as possible. In the end you should have about 30 – 50 grams of pulp left. That is what we’re gonna use for our flour tortillas. As for the juice, you can drink it if you like a strong cabbage taste. Or you can mix it with other juices, add it to your smoothies, etc.

The tortillas came out just as awesome as the regular version. I had to use less water than the recipe originally called for (1/3 instead of 2/3 cup). But that might be different for you, depending on the flour you use. I used yellow wheat flour, which does absorb less water than regular all purpose flour. (When I made this with whole wheat flour, I used only 1/3 cup of water as well.) To keep them soft I usually place the tortillas between two plates. I place the first tortilla on the plate and place the second plate on top but upside down so that the tortillas are kept from fresh air. Then I stack the other tortillas on top of the first and always put the plate back on. This works much better than a towel and you can save energy and resources by not using aluminum foil.

juicing kale with a laundry bag

Kale Tortillas

8 tortillas, 7 inches (18 cm)

Ingredients

240 g (2 cups) yellow wheat, all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
55 g (1/4 cup) refined coconut oil, at room temperature
30 - 50 g kale pulp (made from 144 g (2 cups) kale and 240 ml (1 cup) water
1/3 - 2/3 cups water

Instructions

Make your kale pulp as described above.

In a bowl, combine flour, salt, and baling powder.

Add coconut oil and use your hands to work it into the flour really well. You are looking for a crumbly dough with no lumps of fat left.

Add kale pulp and water. (Start with 1/3 cup water and add more if needed) You'll want a firm but pliable dough.

Divide the dough into 8 equally sized pieces.

Roll out until the tortillas are approximately 7 inches (a little les than 18 cm) in diameter.

Heat a cast iron pan over high heat.

Cook the tortilla on each side for about 1 to 2 minutes.

Place on a plate and cover with a second plate upside down.

Repeat with remaining tortillas.

http://www.seitanismymotor.com/2016/11/kale-tortillas/

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Recently I have been getting a lot of traffic for an old post. An really old post. With terrible pictures and links that don’t work anymore. And while the pictures may be awful, the recipes are great and still two of my favourites. That is why I want to update them today. They are Christmas recipes and I am aware that I am pushing the season very early this year. But you never know what will happen in December. I know me and I’ll probably post the next cookie recipes two days after Christmas. Plus, we already went to see a Christmas movie at the cinema yesterday and my kid is singing “Oh Tannenbaum” 24/7.

The old post I want to brush up here had a recipe for cinnamon stars (cookies) and speculoos truffles based on my recipe for speculoos spread (cookie butter). For this entry, I updated both the recipes and the pictures. There are corners of this blog which are such a building site and a few items definitely need a bit of remodeling.

Speculoos truffles and gluten-free cinnamon stars {Zimtsterne}

These gluten-free cinnamon stars are a very traditional and well-known German Christmas season cookie. They are in a way the elegant version of macaroons, because recipes always call for lots of meringue. The first time I posted this to the blog I winged it somehow. I made flax eggs and added rice syrup. At that time I thought I had ended up with a decent enough result.

That was way before we all discovered the magic baking properties of canned chickpea water aka aquafaba. And of course, if you make these cookies with aquafaba, they turn out absolutely perfect! They aren’t too crispy and even will soften after a day. Which is how I remember the original version. The only trick here is to whip up the aquafaba really thick. It should have almost the same texture as marshmallow fluff. To do this, I always use a pinch of guar gum. In Germany, guar gum is often available at health food stores whereas xanthan gum is much harder to find. If you can only find xanthan, you can use that instead. If you cannot find both of these or don’t want to use them, use half a teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar instead. That should do the trick.

You have to whip up the aquafaba in two steps: First you mix the liquid with guar gum (xanthan etc.) and beat it for 5 minutes until it has stiff peaks. I always use a handheld mixer for this. Then you add about 25 g (1/4 cup) of powdered sugar and whip until the mass is very thick and looks similar to the marshmallow fluff on of the pictures here. It needs a solid texture, so it will hold all the ground nuts you have to mix in later.

The second recipe I am updating today is a chocolate candy made from speculoos spread (biscoff spread or cookie butter). Back in 2009 I was one of the first who made a homemade version for the at that time trending spread. It is easily made at home from the popular Lotus (Biscoff) caramel cookies (speculoos) but I often use traditional German spekulatius cookies.

Speculoos truffles and gluten-free cinnamon stars {Zimtsterne}

When I made this the first time I used traditional ingredients that were quite similar to those found on the package of a jar of speculoos spread. One of the ingredients was refined coconut oil. I still use this fat a lot but I know that some people cannot tolerate it very well. So I do now have an updated version made with nut butter. You should probably try both of today’s recipes, but the speculoos truffles are very addictive. I love to give them as a present, too. Also, if you’re going to watch the US election tomorrow, you might want some food helping you deal with all the stress.

Spekulatiuspralinen | Speculoos Truffles

 

Cinnamon Stars // Speculoos Truffles

46 cookies and 15 truffles

Ingredients

Cinnamon Stars
60 ml (1/4 cup) aquafaba
1/4 teaspoon guar gum (or xanthan)
225 g (3 cups) ground nuts (almonds or hazelnuts)
25 g (1/4 cup) plus 50 g (1/2 cup) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground clementine peel or lemon zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the frosting:
100 g (1 cup) powdered sugar
5-6 teaspoons lemon juice
Speculoos Truffles
150 g spekulatius cookies (or similar)
1 tablespoon agave nectar
100 g (1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup) cashew or almond butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
150 g melted chocolate for dipping

Instructions

To make the cinnamon stars

Place aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas) and guar gum in a narrow bowl.

With a handheld mixer whip for 5 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.

Add 25 g powdered sugar and whip for another 2 to 5 minutes, or until the mixture resembles thick marshmallow fluff or very stiff whipped cream.

Place remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Add whipped aquafaba and use a spatula to fold it into the nut mixture. This will take one or two minutes. Your dough will be stiff and sticky.

Preheat the oven to 150°C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the cinnamon star dough out 1/2 cm thick) between two sheets of plastic wrap.

Cut out as many cookies as possible.

Form the dough scraps into a ball, roll out again and cut out more cookies until no dough is left.

Place on a baking sheet. Bake one sheet at a time for 11 minutes or until the bottoms are only slightly browned.

Let cool on a cookie rack.

To make the frosting, place powdered sugar in a small bowl and add lemon juice by the teaspoon. You'll want a stiff frosting that can be spread but will not drip off your cookies.

Dip the cookies upside down into the frosting and let dry on a cookie sheet.

Store in an airtight container. The cookies will soften after a day.

To make the speculoos truffles

Use a food processor to grind your cookies into a very fine meal.

Place in a bowl and add remaining ingredients.

Stir until everything is combined well.

Place in the fridge for about an hour.

Melt your dipping chocolate and have a piece of parchment ready.

Remove your spread from the fridge and use a teaspoon to scoop out a portion of the spread.

You can form it into balls or shape it only roughly.

Dip into the melted chocolate and let dry on a piece of parchment paper.

Store in the fridge.

http://www.seitanismymotor.com/2016/11/speculoos-truffles-and-cinnamon-stars/

 

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Those who have been following this blog for a while know how much I love everything sweet. Especially chocolate. When I went vegan (almost 10 years ago!) Ritter Sport had a couple of vegan options in Germany. Their semisweet chocolate (50% was vegan) and so were their marzipan and peppermint bars. When they changed the ingredients of the peppermint bar and unveganised it by adding butterfat, I wrote an angry blog post.

A while later I switched to organic, fair-trade chocolate anyway. Over the years you can find a huge variety of chocolates at German health food stores. Plain dark chocolates, others made with rice syrup, white chocolates and lots of varieties made with nuts and fruits, too. With all these to choose from I have to admit that I haven’t eaten a single piece of Ritter Sport chocolate in a couple of years.

This year in August the company introduced two new bars, which for the first time are labeled as vegan. They contacted me and asked me if I wanted to review them in exchange for a package filled with their new chocolates. And how could I say no to that?

The new bars are similar to two varieties they already had on the market: one with roasted almonds and one with roasted hazelnuts. For their vegan version they switched out the annoying butterfat with hazelnut mass. Also they made the bars just a bit more vegan by adding popped amaranth and popped quinoa. At least that is what I thought at first. These days every proper vegan products needs to have either amaranth or quinoa. It’s a bit annoying, but in these chocolate bars the popped grains are pretty great. Together with the nuts they add a lot of crunch and texture. I give Ritter Sport a huge thumbs up for the amount of roasted nuts and popped grains they crammed into these bars. Whoever came up with the recipe for this chocolate isn’t a stingy person.

Ritter Sport vegane Schokolade

As for the chocolate taste I think it is great that these bars have so much additional stuff going on. The roasted nuts are fantastic, they add so much flavour and texture. The popped cereal is really nice, too. But unfortunately  I have to admit that I didn’t care too much for the chocolate itself. It is hard to describe but I didn’t find it very balanced. I thought the chocolate flavour itself was a little bit too sweet and too bitter at the same time, if that makes any sense. One of my coworkers described the chocolate as tasting a bit like raw chocolate. And that hit the nail on the head I think. (No offense if you love raw chocolate. But it’s just not my cup of tea.) I personally would have wished for a milder, more mellow chocolate. Especially because they added hazelnut mass, I would have expected the chocolate to taste a little bit more like gianduia. A hint of milk chocolate would have been great, too.  There are already a lot of regular vegan semi-sweet chocolate on the market.  I had to choose I probably wouldn’t necessarily go for the Ritter Sport bar. My husband on the other hand and a couple of coworkers really liked the chocolate. The almond amaranth bar in the purple packaging was the most popular one.

Ritter Sport vegane Schokolade

Ritter Sport chocolate bars are not labeled fairtrade. I usually buy fair-trade chocolate and I love to know where the processed cocoa comes from. I know that fairtrade labels can be problematic though. Especially since the practice of mass balancing makes it possible to mix fairtrade and non-fairtrade produce. Many fairtrade chocolate bars have an additional note printed on their packaging informing the consumer that the chocolate was produced by using mass balance. Which simply means that you have no idea to what extend the product was made using fair trade cocoa beans.

According to a German article from 2013 Ritter Sport buys most of their cocoa at the stock market. Half of this cocoa is grown in Ivory Coast. For these two new bars on the other hand the cocoa is harvested in Nicaragua. There they have their own plantation and claim to “pay above the minimum wage in Nicaragua guarantee fair and safe working conditions“. The chocolate for these bars is not from that plantation though, because the first harvest their will probably be next year. At the end of the article the company mentions that they have been supporting small farmers in Nicaragua for several years now and they have some additional information on their website.

So far these new bars aren’t listed on their English version of the website and I don’t know when or if they will be available outside of Germany. Here you can find them at grocery stores or at Ritter Sport’s own online store.

November is finally here which is this years Vegan Month of Food. I decided on a topic I am calling Warming Winter Meals and for my first post I don’t really have a meal.  But a warming snack. It contains dried fruits and nuts, which are both foods I do associate with winter.

These nut and fruit based balls are very, very easy to make. All you have to do is to chop them up in a food processor until they form a sticky mass. We often make this recipe, especially since in its basic version, it is much cheaper than the so called raw fruit snacks that you can find at health food stores.

For this blog post, I decided to dress our basic version up a bit. I have to admit that I was already thinking of holiday season here and the countless hours I spend making truffles every year. This is a really quick alternative. Mind you, it’s not the same as a rich chocolate ball, but if you cover these snacks in two kinds of chocolate and dust them with fancy dried fruit powder, they can make an awesome gift, too.

Hazelnut Raisin Snack Balls #vgnmf16 #vegan

I made two versions: One is covered in my favourite couverture made by the Austrian company Zotter. They have a bar made with powdered soy milk that I love. It has a very unique taste and its sweetness and mouthfeel is comparable to milk chocolate. On top of that chocolate I put some aronia berry powder. For that I simply placed some dried aronia berries in a small coffee grinder and pulverised them. (Substitutes for the aronia berries: dried blueberries.)

dried aronia berries

powdered dried aronia berries

Aronia berries are the German version of acai or whatever the newest superfood craze is called. You’ll find tons and tons of information on how healthy they are. Information that is given to you by the same companies that market those berries. I don’t think they are better than your average berry though. And even if, so what? Plant food is plant food and most of it is good for you. Ignoring all that superfood voodoo aronia berries are still an interesting ingredient, because, although native in Northern America, they grow here in Saxony. These almost black berries are very tart when fresh. And I just love tart berries. If you dry them though, there’s only a hint of their sour flavour left. They pair wonderful with the chocolate I chose for my dried fruit balls.

For the second version, I used a white chocolate coating and powdered, dried strawberries. White chocolate and strawberry is my favourite flavour combination!  I made the strawberry powder myself during summer. And since strawberries are completely out of season right now, you can eather buy freeze-dried strawberries and pulverise them in a coffee grinder. Or you can make your own dried strawberries from frozen fruit.

Hazelnut Raisin Snack Balls #vgnmf16 #vegan

For that you’ll need about 300 g frozen strawberries. Line two baking sheets with parchement paper and preheat the oven to 100°C. Cut the frozen strawberries (don’t thaw them) into 2 mm thick pieces and place them on the baking sheets. Bake them for 1 hour. You don’t want to close the oven door completely during this time, there should be a tiny gap left. For that tuck the handle of a wooden cooking spoon between door and oven. After one hour carefully turn the strawberry slices over and dry them for another hour. After this second hour you should turn them one more time and dry them for another hour. This time you can close the door. Let them cool completely before transferring them to airtight jars. Pulverise when needed.

Hazelnut Raisin Snack Balls

Ingredients

100 g hazelnuts
100 g raisins
50 g desiccated coconut
50 g chestnut spread or apple butter
4 heaping teaspoons powdered strawberries
130 g Zotter soy 40% couverture or semisweet chocolate
120 white chocolate
15 g cocoa butter
aronia berry powder for dusting
strawberry powder for dusting

Instructions

Place hazelnuts in a food processor and grind into a powder.

Add raisins, coconut, chestnut spread, and strawberry powder.

Process until the raisins are chopped down and the mixture is sticky.

Divide the mixture into 19 small portions, 15 g each and roll into balls.

Melt the soy couverture in a double boiler.

Dip the half of the balls in chocolate.

Use a fork to remove the balls from the chocolate and transfer to a piece of parchment.

Sprinkle with aronia berry powder.

Combine white chocolate and cocoa butter and melt in a double boiler as well.

Dip the remaining balls in white chocolate, transfer to the parchment paper and sprinkle with strawberry powder.

Let cool completely.

Store at room temperature.

Notes

If you have melted leftover dipping chocolate, pour it into little ice cube moulds and store for another use.

http://www.seitanismymotor.com/2016/11/hazelnut-raisin-snack-balls/

 

 

 

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