Blueberry upside-down cake {vegan, gluten-free}

I haven’t done a lot of baking for the past 10 years. I think it’s from many vegan and gluten-free recipe inventions that haven’t gone so well. Substituting one core ingredient? Easy. Substituting three? Thirty-times more likely to fail from my experience.

Recently, I’ve been educating myself on the magic of white vinegar. And it all started as an accident when I ran out of surface cleaner for the kitchen. (I mean, who knew vinegar, baking soda, water and a touch of eucalyptus made for a great all-purpose cleaning solution? You probably all did. I know I’m late to the party, but it’s changed my life).

Then I stumbled across a recipe that called for vinegar as a way to make a cake airy and moist. Airy and moist are terms few home bakers can describe a vegan and gluten-free creation (unless you’re some kind of baking unicorn). Apparently it was a ‘thing’ during the Depression when eggs and dairy products were difficult to come by.

Turns out, it was the missing ingredient in this recipe for blueberry upside-down cake that I’d been sitting on for months. My faith in gluten-free vegan baking has been restored *raising hands emoji*.

Blueberry upside-down cake {vegan, gluten-free}
Makes a 20cm cake

2.5 c frozen organic blueberries, rinsed
270mL (1 small can) full-fat coconut milk
1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 c gluten-free plain flour
1/2 c coconut sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 c coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Whisk coconut milk and white vinegar in a small bowl and set aside while preparing the remaining ingredients.

Lay the berries out on some absorbent paper towel and gently press on them to dry them off after rinsing and stop the colour from bleeding.

Line a spring form cake pan with some baking paper. Transfer the berries to the bottom of the tin and spread out evenly, trying to cover the entire base of the tin.

Mix the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, then add the coconut milk with vinegar, as well as coconut oil and vanilla. Stir to combine.

Pour the batter on top of the blueberries and smooth out. You want to make the top of the cake as flat and even as possible because this will end up being the bottom of the cake when it is flipped.

Cover the cake with foil and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Then, remove foil and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, or until top is browned and a skewer comes out of the middle clean.

Let the cake cool before releasing the sides of the pan. Carefully flip onto a cooling rack to cool further, or flip onto a serving dish. Slice and eat on its own or with some dairy-free vanilla ice cream.

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Lebanese socca {gluten-free, vegan}

Lebanese pizza was another favourite of mine growing up. I can remember mum made it for dinner one night and I loved it so much that I asked for ‘the lamb and pine nut pizza’ again, and again, and again. 

After 10 years without Lebanese pizza in my life and after perfecting a good ‘mince’ for my current favourite taco recipe, I knew it would be possible to recreate as vegan. 

While it was definitely a pizza in my memory, I’ve avoided a heavy gluten-free pizza base for this recipe and opted for socca (an ingenious chickpea flour-based flatbread that I’ve been making for years) as the base instead. I love socca for many reasons, but especially because it’s an easy way to add soy-free protein to your plate – and I’m all about that.

Lebanese socca {gluten-free, vegan}
Makes 1 large ‘pizza’

For the ‘mince’
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 packet tempeh
1/2 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper
1/4 c pine nuts, lightly toasted
Small handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

For the socca
1 c chickpea flour
1 c filtered water
1 tbsp + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper

To make the socca, add chickpea flour, water, 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to a bowl. Whisk until combined and no lumps remain. Set aside for 30 mins.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees C.

To make the ‘mince’, add pinto beans, tempeh, onion, garlic, cumin, cinnamon and salt and pepper to a food processor. Blitz until combined and resembling small crumbs.

Transfer mixture to a pan on a medium heat and cook a few minutes until it starts to brown and become fragrant. Set aside.

When ready to cook the socca, place cast iron skillet in the pre-heated oven for about 5 minutes.

Carefully remove skillet from oven and add remaining 2 tbsp olive oil to base of the pan to coat the surface. Then, pour the batter into the skillet and return it to the oven for 8-10 minutes until golden and crisp.

When the socca has cooked, remove it from the oven. Carefully transfer it to a cutting board and spoon the ‘mince’ over it. Then, scatter it with pine nuts and garnish with parsley. Slice as you see fit and serve with a side salad and hummus.

Baked sweet potato with white beans and parsley seaweed pesto butter

I’ve probably told you before that I don’t make new year’s resolutions. If I want to change something, I change it then and there rather than waiting for a new year to roll around.

In saying that, I’m not opposed to giving each year a theme. Telling you mine is going to help keep me accountable so I stick with it. My theme for this year is ‘fresh’. For as long as I can remember, I’ve focused on cooking and preparing the types of meals that warm me up from the inside out. They’re the types of meals that only need one pot, pan or tray like curry, stir-fry, stew, and sheet pans.

‘Fresh’ is about turning these meals upside down (figuratively, not literally). That means more fresh and raw ingredients in my bowl instead of featuring them as a garnish or side salad. It means more meals that marry different flavours on my plate instead of these flavours cooking harmoniously in a pot. It means turning to new ingredients or the ones I don’t use often instead of reaching for my favourites every meal.

This recipe for baked sweet potato with white beans and parsley seaweed pesto butter is about breathing new life into seaweed – to prove it can do a lot more than embrace rice in sushi. After trying this recipe, you’ll agree with me that it can.

kale-mary-baked-sweet-potato-h

Baked sweet potato with white beans and parsley seaweed pesto butter
Serves 2

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, roasted with the skin on until flesh is soft
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 sheet nori seaweed
1 handful fresh parsley
1/2 avocado
10 baby capers, drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper

Cook the cannellini beans in a little bit of olive oil and dusted with a sprinkle of salt until the edges start to crisp up on some of them. Set aside.

To make the parsley seaweed pesto butter, add nori, parsley, avocado, capers, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts, lemon, salt and pepper to a food processor and process until combined.

Cut a cross along the top of the cooked sweet potatoes and gently break them open. Add some spoonfuls of the cooked beans to the sweet potatoes and then some dollops of pesto butter.

Serve any leftover pesto butter on the side in a small bowl – it’s likely to be eaten in the one sitting!

Top 10 gluten-free vegan dishes in Sydney {part 1}

There are some standout meals in Sydney that I often crave. I reserve a spot in my mind for the memory of them. And when that memory starts to fade, that means it’s been too long.

When you find something you love on a restaurant menu, do you deviate? Or do you stick to what you love? I rarely deviate. But it’s not hard when there aren’t many options that are both gluten-free and vegan on the one menu (generally speaking).

So, here are Sydney’s best gluten-free vegan eats. The photos – where I’ve included them – are a bit of a case of when bad photos happen to good food (part 1587… amirite). You can’t win them all.

BEST VEGAN PHO

Kale Mary Golden Lotus

Tofu and vegetable pho
Golden Lotus in Newtown
Expect a long wait to get into this one on a Friday or Saturday night, but once you’re in, you can skip a read of the menu all together. Because there’s only one thing that should be on your mind: the tofu and vegetable pho. If you are living that gluten-free life, be sure to order it as gluten-free. This means no delicious tofu knots – it’s a small price to pay because this is the best gluten-free vegan pho in Sydney.

BEST VEGAN SANDWICH

Kale Mary Dear Delicious

Falafel veggie sandwich
Dear Delicious in Dulwich Hill
This little gem is a dish that gets better with age. Each time I go, the dish is refined a little more. While the falafels aren’t completely authentic, they’re still good. Ask for gluten-free bread, which will turn it into a sandwich from a burger as described on the menu.

BEST ENTREE/STARTER

Coconut and edamame bean moneybags
Yulli’s in Surry Hills
Tell me… where else you can get gluten-free moneybags let alone gluten-free and vegan moneybags in Sydney? And to think, they also happen to be the best in my living memory. These bad boys toe the line between sweet and savoury thanks to the unusual flavour pairing – but in the best possible way.

ties with

Sacred knot
Nourishing Quarter in Redfern
At first glance, you probably wouldn’t order these little morsels. Not because they don’t sound good. It’s just too hard to pass up the sweet angel wraps (rice paper rolls) or the pretty dumplings. Next time you’re at Nourishing Quarter, I suggest you reconsider. These guys are very, very tasty and a starter you won’t find on many menus around town.

BEST DOSA

Kale Mary Sri Venkateswara Temple

Masala dosa
Sri Venkateswara Temple in Helensburg
The canteen at this temple is one of Sydney’s best kept secrets. I say this because I’m usually the only Caucasian there. No trip down to the South Coast is complete without dropping by for a dosa – and more. It’s also ridiculously cheap. Keep an open mind about the dining experience – it’s a canteen, so it’s a slightly haphazard set-up. Oh, and skip that pale-coloured sauce if you’re dairy-free!

Kale Mary Hopper KadeAn honourable mention must go to the eponymous dish at Hopper Kadé in Surry Hills (I recommend the beetroot filling) – not technically a dosa, but too good not to include.

BEST VEGAN SALAD

Kale Mary The Henson

Gaddo gaddo salad
The Henson in Marrickville
Look, The Henson categorises this dish as a salad. It’s more like a peanut stir fry from a Thai restaurant – but better. And the tapioca crackers are a nice touch. Also pictured is the vegan taco with miso mushrooms. It’s good but the mushrooms are a bit too chunky and thus ‘meaty’.

ties with

Green papaya salad with crispy tofu
Yulli’s in Surry Hills
If you came here for the salad and found my previous choice questionable, you might find love with this one. If you hadn’t guessed, Asian food is my jam so naturally, any salad I rave as a fave is going to be of that persuasion. It really needs no explanation. If you haven’t had it, you need to.

BEST VEGAN BURGER

Kale Mary LOTF

Chick’n burger
Lord of the Fries
I’m not 100 per cent down with soy meats. But what I am down with is the combination of the chick’n patty with that mustard mayo and lettuce. It’s definitely the least healthy meal on the list. Just call it your naughty treat. And ask for a gluten-free bun.

Honourable mentions must go to the veggie vitality burger from Grill’d and the pulled pork (jackfruit) burger from Soul Burger.

BEST VEGAN PIZZA

Vegetarian pizza
Pizza Rocco in St Clair
While the gluten-free base is rather small, it’s the flavours of toppings that really make this pizza special. You can even bring your own notzarella and they’ll put it on your pizza for you. If you don’t have vegan cheese, they can hold the cheese completely – it’s still a good pizza.

Kale Mary Rocket Boy

An honourable mention must go to the Margherita pizza with extra cherry tomato and garlic oil from Rocketboy (pictured above). Their gluten-free base is a decent size and they use good quality vegan cheese. Fratelli Famous also does a good Margherita on a gluten-free base – their vegan cheese is the only downside.