Dragonfruit and Banana Tart (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

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Thirty sleeps. Can I make it through thirty more sleeps in this heat without an ocean to swim in…. with the promise of Indonesia, looming so close, I think I’ll survive.

I’m lucky enough to be spending our last month in a house with another foodie, just as crazy (or maybe even a little more crazy), about food and cooking as me. Check out her blog Taste of the Top End, she’s a clever cookie. So I’d say I’ll be able to keep myself pretty busy, as well as cooking and creating with the local produce, we’ll be helping out with renovating and gardening this little patch of rainforest in the city. It’s actually the first house we housesat in Darwin, back in January/Febuary, since then, we have become great friends with the owners and their puppies. I’m really happy we get to spend our last month in Darwin here (just install that air-con in our room when your ready guys ;-)…. )

This tart is deliciously unusual, and dramatically beautiful! For me, making it vegan wasn’t  so much about it having to be vegan but rather, wanting to use all natural ingredients to accentuate the flavours of these beautiful tropical fruits. I didn’t want them to be hidden away with overpowering flavours of butter, cream, chocolate etc. Not to say that those flavours are bad! I also had a friend in mind when creating this dish. A beautiful, colourful, spiritual woman who has two of her daughters giving birth to their first babies this year. She asked me if I’d be around to cater their baby showers, and unfortunately I won’t. But if I was, I’d be cooking something vibrant like this tart, to celebrate two new babies being born into a wonderful, vibrant family.

If you live in an area that doesn’t grow dragon fruit, I would recommend replacing it with kiwifruit, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or passionfruit. And you can decorate it any way you like. Because it is so warm up here, I set mine in the freezer, and brought it out of the freezer about 15mins before decorating and serving. But if your in a cooler climate, the fridge will be fine.

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Ingredients

Base

1 cup roasted almonds

1 cup dates

1/3 cup desiccated coconut

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbs maca powder

1 tbs coconut oil

1 tbs maple syrup

Filling

1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight, stained, rinsed and dried

3/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup coconut cream

3/4 cup coconut sugar (or raw/brown/caster)

200g chopped banana (2-3 bananas)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

200g chopped red dragonfruit flesh (about 1 1/2 dragonfruit)

Zest of 1 lime

2 white flesh dragon fruit, hard, outer skin peeled, cut into thin slices, to decorate

Toasted coconut chips, to decorate

Method

Grease and line a springform cake tin.

Combine all ingredients for the base in a food processor and process until well combined. Press into the base of the prepared tin and place in the fridge.

For the filling, in a clean food processor, place the cashews, coconut oil, coconut cream, and sugar. Process until very smooth. (if your processor doesn’t manage to get the mixture to a super smooth consistency, I recommend finishing it off with a stick blender)

Divide the filling evenly into two bowls.

Process the dragon fruit and strain through a sieve to remove the seeds. Add this, along with the lime zest, to one of the bowls, stir to combine and spread on top of the base. Return to the fridge/freezer, to set.

Add the banana and vanilla to the other bowl and process until smooth. Spread this on top of the set dragon fruit mixture and return to the fridge/freezer to set. Minimum 6 hours.

When ready to serve, remove from the fridge/freezer, to allow it to soften a little. Decorate as you like.

Enjoy!

 

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Maple Roasted Pumpkin, Kale, Blue Vein and Wild Rice Salad with Pomegranate Molasses

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How awesome are vegetables! They are so versatile, exciting, colourful, textural, interesting, and above all, nourishing. I love treating my vegetables as the main point of a meal, all you need is a bit of love and a few extra touches, and the next thing you know you’ll be turning your humble piece of pumpkin thats been hiding at the bottom of your veggie draw, into a beautiful, shining, and delicious star!

I came across this Naranka Gold Pumpkin at the markets here, I’ve never seen it before, but, as I love to roast pumpkin with its skin on, I thought the look of this pumpkin’s golden skin was very enticing. Roasted to perfection with a hint of sweetness and citrus, it was absolutely delicious. Not to mention the nutty wild rice, the bursts of sweetness from the pomegranate, the earthiness of the kale and the strong scent of the blue vein. It is perfectly satisfying as a main meal but would also be great as part of a feast, along with roasted meats, spreads, other salads and breads. You could also replace the rice with quinoa and the blue vein with goats cheese or feta.

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Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups blended black, red and brown rice

1/2 a small naranka gold pumpkin, about 800g-1kg, cut into thick 5cm wedges, seeds scraped out

1 tbs golden syrup

1 tbs lemon infused olive oil

1/2 cup mixed seeds, such as pepitas, sunflower and pine nuts, toasted

4 large kale leaves, about 120g, stems cut out and leaves finely shredded

Small red onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

Handful of fresh parsley and mint, roughly chopped

120g blue vein cheese. crumbled

Fruit from 1 fresh pomegranate

2 tbs pomegranate molasses

Splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line an oven tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl, toss the pumpkin with the lemon infused olive oil, maple syrup and some salt and pepper.

Lay the pieces of pumpkin in a single layer on the lined baking tray. Place in the oven and cook for about 45 mins, turning halfway, until golden and tender, crisp edges are good. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Boil the rice until tender. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until soft, about 5mins. Add the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and kale, and continue to sauté for another 5mins. Add to the bowl with the rice, along with half of the toasted seeds, half of the pomegranate, the fresh herbs, a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Mix well.

Empty the rice mixture out onto a large serving plate. Top with the pumpkin, the rest of the seeds, the rest of the pomegranate, the blue vein, and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.

Enjoy!

 

 

Raw Vegan Lucuma Ice-Cream with Chocolate Fudge Sauce

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Once you taste this ice-cream you will not believe that it is vegan. It is so creamy! The lucuma powder really gives it an amazing ice-cream flavour and texture, no wonder lucuma flavoured ice-cream is the most popular flavour in Peru, more popular than chocolate!

The lucuma fruit is native to Peru. It has a maple like flavour, and while it can be eaten raw it is mainly used in puree or powder form in desserts and drinks. It has even been labelled as a superfood! It can be used as a natural sweetener, is full of healthy carbohydrates, very high in fibre, and has been used for centuries in South America as a natural healing medicine for its antibiotic properties.

I loved the lucuma ice-creams so much while I was in Peru, I used to treat myself to one every Sunday night (I was on a budget), while I was working in a hostel over there. It came in the form of a Cornetto cone, swirled with dulce de leche and topped with chopped nuts, amazing! Half the fun was the act of buying the ice-cream too….think, 120kg Peruvian security gaurd/drug dealer, fast asleep in a plastic chair, with a ukulele resting on his ample stomach, not too happy to be awoken at 10pm on a Sunday night to unlock the ice-cream freezer. Haha

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Recipe

Serves 8

Ice- Cream

2 cups raw cashews, soaked

1 cup lucuma powder

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste

2 cups cold water

3/4 cup cacao nibs

Place all ingredients, except cacao nibs, in a food processor and process until very smooth, about 10 mins. (to make it extra smooth and creamy, I transferred the mixture into another bowl and finished it off with a stick blender). Stir through the cacao nibs. Place in the freezer for about 5 hours or overnight.

Chocolate Fudge Sauce

17 Medjool dates, soaked for at least 2 hours, drained, liquid reserved, seeds removed

1 cup almond milk, or other nut milk

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

2 1/2 tsp cacao powder

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a stick blender to blend until smooth. Use reserved date soaking liquid to bring to the desired consistency.

To serve

Take the ice-cream out of the freezer about half and hour before serving, to allow it to soften to a nice creamy consistency (depending on the air temperature). Serve topped with choc fudge sauce, chopped hazelnuts and fresh berries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Winter Rainbow Salad with Hazelnut Dressing and Goat’s Cheese Sourdough Croutons

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The winter solstice was only a couple of weeks ago and already I’ve noticed the days getting longer, it’s amazing how quickly it happens. Apart from the chilly wind we’ve had lately the days have been beautiful and sunny and the colour of the ocean has been amazing, not to mention the show the whales an dolphins have been putting on. I guess what I’m trying to say (or convince myself of) is that winter ain’t too bad here. However, I am sill very much looking forward to the warmer days coming up soon when I travel North!

 

Another great thing about winter are these beautiful rainbow coloured veggies that I picked up from the markets on the weekend. Rainbow chard is so delicious, the colourful stems have a slight beetroot flavour that I love.
The sweetness of the strawberries together with the nutty dressing and the creamy crunchy croutons is like a winter wonderland in your mouth! Originally I was going to put the goats cheese in the salad but then I thought I’d do it like this so that the meal is also vegan and gluten free friendly.

 

Set up a table in the sun, open a nice bottle of red and share this colourful lunch with some friends this weekend!

Oh, and watch out, all this green goodness can lead to some dodgy smiles!

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Spiced Beetroot and Walnut Dip

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So, to be honest, every time I make this dip, I change the ingredients. To write an exact recipe for it is quite difficult, as it’s so easy to twist and tangle the flavours into whatever mood your in, or whatever you have in the cupboard. The recipe I’ve written here is a general guide, adjust it to suit your taste.

Although I’ve topped the dip with yoghurt here, the use of nuts gives the dip a lovely creaminess without using any dairy, therefore making it vegan. Walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, even pistachios, will work in this dip, just make sure you use a good amount of spice to give it the edge that store bought dips don’t have.

 

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Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup chopped, cooked beetroot (you can use fresh or canned, I like to use canned for the sweetness)

1 cup lightly roasted walnuts

1 1/2 tsp toasted cumin seeds

1 1/2 tsp sumac

pinch chilli flakes

2 cloves garlic

Juice of half a lemon or a tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

Plain yoghurt, extra walnuts, cumin seeds and black salt flakes to serve

 

Method

Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor or with a hand held mixer. Check for seasoning and adjust to suit.

To serve, top with yoghurt (optional), extra walnuts, cumin seeds and black salt flakes. Serve with corn chips, or toasted pita bread or vegetable sticks.