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Burritos with fried avocado

This one was inspired by a recipe from the Leon cookbook Fast vegan, a cookbook I can highly recommend, because so far, every single recipe I have tried (lots of them) turned out really delicious.

If you like a good burrito with all the trimmings, you’ll enjoy this recipe, too.

There are a few components to it:

  • Fried avocadoes
  • Bean chilli
  • Guacamole
  • Cashew sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Cheese
  • Tortilla

Don’t worry, these are all easy to make and prepare, they just require a bit of preparation. Of course you can buy pretty much everything ready-made, but in my house we make things from scratch, because they taste better, are healthier and we know exactly what we’re putting in our bodies.

time to make burritos!

Here is what you’ll need:

Ingredients | Serves 3

For the guacamole

  • 2 small ripe avocados, mashed
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of sugar

For the salsa

  • 1/4 of a red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb of cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes. Large ones are ok too but I prefer the sweetness of the smaller tomatoes, cut into small pieces
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/3 of a cucumber, cut into small pieces
  • salt
  • pepper
  • a pinch of sugar

For the cashew sour cream

  • 1 cup of cashews, soaked in water for a few hours (if you forget to do this, don’t worry, as long as you have a stick/immersion blender, you should be fine)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • splash of cider vinegar (about 1/2 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp of salt, more to taste

For the bean chilli

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3/4 of a red onion (the leftovers from the salsa), finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cans of beans, whichever ones you like best. Black beans, chickpeas, butterbeans, they all work. Keep the brine from the can and make chocolate mousse with it.
  • 1/2 lb of tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 corn cobs, cooked and the kernels cut off or 1 jar/can of sweet corn (fresh does taste better though)
  • 1 cup of canned tomatoes or passata
  • juice of 1 lime or lemon
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika powder
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tsp of veggie stock powder
  • freshly ground pepper

For the fried avocado

  • 2 small ripe but still firm avocados
  • 1/2 cup of plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk (or any other plant based milk)
  • oil for deep-frying. You need about 1.5 – 2 inches of oil in a medium sized pot

Other ingredients

  • 6 small tortilla wraps
  • freshly grated vegan cheddar style cheese

Now it’s time to get cooking.

Method (about 1 hour of prep)

Let’s start with the fast and easy stuff:

Guacamole: mix all the guacamole recipes together in a bowl. You can do this ahead of time, in which case you should store it in the fridge. I typically just start with all this prep and put stuff on the table as it’s ready.

Salsa: Combine all the ingredients and put them in a bowl.

Cashew sour cream: In a deep small bowl or jug, put all the ingredients and blend with a stick/immersion blender. Gradually add up to 1/3 cup of cold water to reach the desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. More nutritional yeast makes it more ‘cheesy’ while more lemon juice can bring out the tanginess and saltiness.

Bean chilli: In a large pan, heat the olive oil until hot, then add onion and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cumin, paprika, stock powder, sriracha sauce and sugar and stir to mix well. Add the lime/lemon juice and stir. Then add all the other ingredients and simmer over low heat. You can keep the chilli as is or use your immersion blender to carefully blend about half the amount with a few pulses to make it more creamy, while the other half (unblended) gives it a nice chunky texture.

Fried avocados: Before starting the bean chilli, get your avocados prepared: you need 3 shallow bowls. In the first one put the flour, cumin, salt and pepper. In the middle one put the almond milk and in the third one, put the breadcrumbs. Cut your avocados into 3/4 inch thick strips, lengthwise. Mine are about as wide as my ring finger. Now get to making the bean chilli.

Once the chilli is simmering, heat up the oil for frying the avocados. While the oil is heating up, take each slice of avocado and roll it in the flour until it is coated, then dip into the milk and then roll in the breadcrumbs. I always get my fingers really messy, but the pro tip is to use one hand for the flour and breadcrumb steps, the other hand for the milk.

Place the coated avocado slices on a plate. Once the oil looks hot (if you’re fancy and have a thermometer, use it – I just wing it), take a small chunk of avocado and carefully drop it into the oil. It should sizzle nicely and the crumbing should turn golden brown within a couple of minutes.

If that’s the case you’re ready to go: place about 5-6 slices of avocado into the oil at once. Just as many as fit comfortable into the pot. Fry until they are golden brown, then take them out with a slotted spoon, letting the oil drip off as much as possible before placing them into a bowl lined with paper towels so the oil can drain further.

Repeat with the remaining avocados. While the last batch is cooking, turn off the heat from the chilli and put into a serving dish. Also, heat the tortilla wraps in the microwave for 30sec at 600W.

Call your fellow eaters and serve the avocados. Place the pot with the hot oil somewhere safe so no one gets hurt :-).

Let everyone assemble their burritos and enjoy!

Chocolate Mousse – quick and easy

I’m pretty partial to chocolate and a few days ago decided to whip up chocolate mousse. In non-vegan mousse, the key ingredient is egg white which is whipped into stiff peaks before melted chocolate is folded in. Well, instead of egg white I typically use chickpea brine, but this time I tried the brine of borlotti beans instead.

Why the heck do I use bean juice? It turns out that the chemistry magic in the brine of cooked beans is pretty similar to egg white and can be used to make all kinds of fabulous things, like meringue, sponge cake, sorbet and, well, chocolate mousse.

No, it doesn’t taste like beans, as long as you add other ingredients like sugar, cocoa, chocolate, lemon juice or whatever else you’re whipping up :-).

So here is my super simple chocolate mousse consisting of 4 ingredients. I recommend saving the brine whenever you’re cooking a dish with beans and turning it into chocolate mousse (or pancakes the next day – the options are endless!).

the finished mousse, chilled.

Ingredients | Serves 3

  • Brine from one can of beans (the ones I have found to work best are chickpeas, borlotti beans or butter beans)
  • 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 100g of dark chocolate

Method

Melt the chocolate and sugar either in the microwave in 30sec increments at low to medium power, stirring after each 30sec until melted. Let it cool down a bit.

Pour the brine into a completely clean mixing bowl and start to whisk with an electric whisker. Add the lemon juice and whip for 5min until stiff peaks form. You might have to whip it for longer. Don’t give up, the lemon juice helps and you will get there.

Once you have firm peaks, gradually pour in the melted chocolate while continuously whisking. Once the chocolate is incorporated, stop whisking the mixture. You want to keep as much air in it as possible.

Pour into bowls, ramekins or glasses and chill in the fridge for an hour before serving.

Tips: If your mixture turns into a wet, sloppy sauce, the chocolate may have been too hot when you added it. Try letting it cool until it is about room temperature. Don’t cool it in the fridge though as it might set again.

Alternatively, you can try folding the melted chocolate into the ‘bean whip’ using a balloon whisk or spatula. It’s okay if there are small lumps of chocolate left. they will harden into nice little chunks in the finished mousse :-).

You can chill this overnight, as well. It should keep for a couple of days in the fridge.

airy, fluffy chocolate mousse

Avocado Maki Roll

The global pandemic has completely changed everyone’s lives right now and with restaurants, cafes and bars closing to the public except for takeaway service, it’s time to tackle some of our favourite ‘to go’ food at home.

One of my all-time favourite foods is avocado sushi, because it tastes so so good and the simple flavours together with the soy sauce are just YUM!

Sushi is easy to make, the rolling takes a bit of practice, but we’re here for great flavours and home cooked food, not for picture perfect instagrammability.

Enjoy!

Ingredients ● serves 4

  • 2 cups of raw short grain rice (pudding rice is cheaper than sushi or risotto rice and works perfectly fine)
  • 1/2 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 1 avocado, sliced into 1/2 inch wide strips
  • 4 nori sheets
  • soy sauce
  • wasabi and pickled ginger (optional)
  • tools: sushi mat for rolling
Avocado maki on the far right

Method

Wash rice and drain. Then put the rice in a pot with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer until the water has disappeared, then turn off the heat. Mix together the salt, sugar and rice vinegar and pour over the rice. Gently fold the seasoning into the rice. Let it sit uncovered so it can cool down.

If you want to speed up the process, put the rice in a larger bowl or baking dish and spread it out so it can cool.

Once the rice is cool enough to handle, place one nori sheet on your sushi mat, put rice on it, leaving about 1 inch (2.5cm) from the bottom (the side closest to you) and about 2.5 inches from the top free of rice. Spread it all the way to the sides, though. You want your rice layer to be about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.

Now at the bottom of your sheet where the rice starts, place the avocado to create a row from left to right. You want to have a good amount of avocado on there, but not too much to roll.

Time to roll up your avocado roll. Grab the nori sheet and the sushi mat and fold the bottom that has now rice on top and over the avocado, then, tucking it into the roll, keep rolling to make a tight roll. This will need some practice. Imagine rolling a wet towel, gently so as to not squeeze out the water, but tight enough so there is no hollow space inside. Use your thumbs to move the roll and mat from the side closest to you, while the remaining four fingers on each hand keep tucking the nori sheet in as you roll up across the rice.

Finish rolling with the seam side down (the top strip of nori that wasn’t covered in rice). I like to roll the mat completely around the sushi roll and give it a bit of a squeeze in my fists to make sure the warm, moist rice makes the nori sheet stick to itself and seal the roll.

Put the finished roll aside and continue with the remaining sheets and rice.

Once you have rolled all your avocado maki, slice them with a very sharp knife into slices that are the width of a thumb (3/4 inch).

Serve with soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger.

Lasagne

One of my favourite foods ever since I started eating solids has been lasagne. While it didn’t feature on the menu nearly as often as I would have liked as a kid, I’m now in charge of cooking so I make it every couple of weeks.

It also keeps well and works perfectly as leftovers the next day. We take leftovers for lunch the next day pretty much every day of the week, so lasagne is a great way to have several portions of leftovers :-).

I tend to go freestyle when it comes to cooking, so no meal ever truly tastes the same when I make it again and this recipe is really flexible.

There are three main components: lasagne pasta, bolognese sauce and béchamel sauce. Here’s the list of ingredients:

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 packet of lasagne sheets
  • 2 large handfuls of vegan mozzarella

For the Bolognese sauce:

  • Olive oil
  • 1x 600ml bottle passata or canned pureed tomatoes
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 200ml tomato paste (1 tube)
  • 1 teaspoon veggie stock powder
  • 2 tablespoons of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar (or red wine, the choice is yours)
  • 400g of firm tofu, crumbled with your hands into small bits
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 3 medium sized carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped

For the béchamel sauce:

  • 750ml of almond milk (whichever you prefer, sweetened is fine, unsweetened is okay too. There are no strict rules 🙂 )
  • 2 tablespoons of margarine
  • 4 tablespoons of soy flour or chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon of veggie stock powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder

The first step is to prepare the Bolognese sauce. In a large saucepan add a splash of olive oil (1-2 tablespoons) and heat up until hot (test with a wooden spoon – if bubbles form around the spoon then it’s hot enough).

Add the onion and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly. Add the veggie stock powder, carrots, red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes and the tofu and fry for a few more minutes. Then add the oregano and paprika, stir and add the red wine vinegar. Let it bubble up and mix through, then add passata and tomato paste. Let everything simmer for around 15min with the lid on.

In the meantime, prepare the béchamel sauce. Now it’s time to heat up your oven to 200ºC.

In a pot melt the margarine over medium heat, add the flour, garlic powder, onion powder and stock powder and stir with a whisk until everything forms a ball. continue stirring and very gradually add the milk. First add just a couple of tablespoons, whisk vigorously, then add a bit more. Your ball of flour will turn into a thick paste and then thin out smoothly as you add milk. Adding milk slowly ensures you don’t have lumps in the finished sauce. Once you have added all the milk, bring the sauce to a boil while stirring frequently. Let it thicken. If the sauce is to runny, grab a bit of flour, about 2 tablespoons and mix it with 2-3 tablespoons of cold almond milk, stir until smooth and add to your sauce. Bring to a boil and now things will thicken.

Turn off the heat from your béchamel and the Bolognese sauce.

Grab a baking dish. This can be a loaf pan (makes it very easy to cut neat slices) or a rectangular brownie pan or a round pan (who am I to judge), just anything that is about 4 inches (10cm) high so you get a nice tall lasagne with lots of layers.

On the bottom add Bolognese sauce in a thin layer, then add one layer of lasagne pasta sheets. They should not overlap. Now add another layer of Bolognese sauce to fully cover the pasta, then add béchamel sauce. Not quite as thick as the Bolognese sauce, just a thin layer on top. Then pasta again and repeat until you’re done. The top should be béchamel sauce. Top with the cheese.

Bake in the oven for about 30min.

Take out the lasagne and let it sit for 10min before cutting and serving.

Pizza buns

Some days you just need a quick dinner and while I like making the effort to cook a proper meal, yesterday was one of those days when a late lunch meant I wasn’t really hungry. And I wasn’t interested in using my remaining energy for standing in the kitchen.

So our dinner consisted of pizza buns and a salad. Pizza buns are another one of those childhood memories, only that as a teenager I ate them topped with ham, salami and cheese in the mix, rather than vegetables.

Thinking back to how mum mixed together the toppings for a quick meal, I decided to use the leftover pretzel buns I had made earlier that day to create a vegan version of pizza buns.

Ingredients (feeds 4)

  • 1-2 buns per person, depending on the size of the buns and how hungry people are
  • a large handful of grated vegan mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup of grated vegan cheddar cheese
  • a small head of broccoli florets, cut into small pieces and steamed until tender
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped finely
  • 2 spring onions, chopped finely
  • 6 pieces of sun-dried tomatoes (I used those in oil) chopped finely
  • a handful of baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup of vegan cream, e.g. soy or oat cream
  • 1/2 cup of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • salt and pepper

Method

  • Preheat the grill of your oven to medium high.
  • In a large bowl, mix together all the vegetables and the cheese.
  • In a medium sized bowl, mix the cream, tomato paste, spices, garlic, salt and pepper until it becomes a smooth sauce.
  • Pour the sauce over the veggie cheese mix and stir until everything is well combined.
  • Cut the pretzel buns in half horizontally and place all the halves on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  • Put spoonfuls of the veggie cheese mix on the buns, spreading the mix to the edges. Be generous, no one likes a dry pizza ;-).
  • Place the finished tray in the oven and grill until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Be creative with the topping. Include chopped zucchini or mushrooms, artichokes, olives or any other ingredients you like. Some veggies, like aubergines or carrots, will benefit from a bit of pre-cooking. Make sure every vegetable is pretty finely chopped so they all cook evenly when grilled.

Soft pretzels

Ever since I was a child, I have loved pretzels and their variations – pretzel sticks, pretzel buns and pretzel knots. But only the soft, fluffy ones, not the hard and crunchy pretzel snacks.

So I was delighted to come across a recipe online that didn’t just sound good, but it also resulted in a perfect batch of crispy brown pretzel buns full of fluffy crumb that goes perfectly smothered with mashed avocado or topped with a slice of vegan cheese and grilled in the oven.

I found the recipe on the Veggie Inspired blog written by Jenn and tweaked it a little to satisfy both, my craving for childhood memory pretzels and my love for Philly soft pretzels that were slightly softer and sweeter than their German counterparts.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of dry active yeast
  • 4.5 cups of strong bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons of margarine
  • 2/3 cup of bicarb soda
  • rock salt

Method

  • Mix the water, sugar, salt and yeast in a jug and let it stand for a few minutes.
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour and margarine, then add the yeast mixture and knead for several minutes until the dough becomes smooth and pulls away from the sides.
  • Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise in a warm spot for about an hour. It should double in size by that time.
  • Dust your kitchen bench with a little flour and tip the dough out onto the surface. With a dough scraper, cut it into about 8-10 equal portions. The dough scraper helps with easy cutting and with getting sticky dough off the surface – if you don’t have one, buy one, I highly recommend it.
  • Next, shape each piece of dough into a longish rope. I first roll them into taught balls on the bench, then roll them into a log between my two hands and work to stretch them longer and longer until they are about 7″ (18cm) long (about the length of my forearm from inside the elbow to my wrist).
  • Then I shape a pretzel but it will be small and fat and basically turn into a knot. I push the ends of the log against the middle part so the knot doesn’t come apart. When they bake, the knots end up creating a nice shape but essentially result in a nice fat bun with lots of fluffy crumb in the middle.
  • Now place all those pretzel knots on a tray lined with baking paper or a silicon mat and let them rise for another 20min.
  • Pre-heat your oven to about 230ºC (450F) fan-forced.
  • In a pot bring about 6 cups of water and the bicarb soda to a rolling boil.
  • Carefully place one knot at a time onto a slotted spoon, lower into the water and leave it in there for 15-20 seconds before removing (try to drain as much liquid off the spoon as possible) and putting the knot back on the baking tray.
  • Sprinkle with rock salt while the knots are still moist on the surface. Once all the knots have been dipped in the lye water, bake them for about 13-15 minutes, depending on how brown you like them.
  • Let them cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes if you can wait that long.