Emi's Good Eating

Be good to yourself and all fellow animals


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My Vegan Experiment aka My Experiment In Missing The Point Entirely

Click here for my latest piece in Ecorazzi.

Lately, The Guardian is becoming a platform for self-absorbed and outlandish perspectives on veganism. The paper has yet to feature the only coherent and unambiguous case for veganism: that it is a matter of simple fairness and justice we owe to the animals. 

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Going vegan is easy and it is the right thing to do.


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Mostly Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Happy St Paddy’s Day. Make some Irish Soda Bread today. It’s so quick, easy and delicious.

Emi's Good Eating

I am not Irish and I am not one to bake bread often. I like St. Patrick’s Day because it has been a special date for me since 1998 when something brilliantly life-changing happened.

To celebrate the day and that memory, I have made two different loaves of Irish Soda Bread. It could not be easier.

Americans, please note, this is the flour and caraway seeds kind, not the Irish-American sweet version. See here for the Irish Soda Bread debate.

Happy St. Paddy’s! (oh and yeah, it’s Paddy, not Patty)

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For the darker loaf on the left:

  • 1 3/4 cups wholemeal flour and 1 3/4 cups white strong bread flour
  • 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons milled linseeds/flaxmeal (I didn’t have unmilled ones, but if I did, I would have put in 1 Tbsp only)

For the lighter loaf on the right:

  • 1 3/4 cups…

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Butternut Squash Spread

This umami filled, no oil, spread will rival avocado on toast any day. It tastes indulgent and it is anything but. It is ridiculously simple and quick to make.

It does require that you have roasted butternut squash on hand and you can prepare that ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator. And roasting any squash is easy too. See directions below.

This recipe makes enough for at least four pieces of toast … and these were laden! IMG_7488.JPG

Ingredients

  • 1/4 roasted butternut squash (also you could used canned pumpkin), skin on, chopped and mashed
  • 1 Tablespoon tahini
  • pinch of salt (if you have seaweed salt, then use that, or a bit of gomasio)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dulse or seaweed flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (optional and will make the squash a bit more yellow than orange) 
  • large pinch of nutritional yeast
  • juice of half a lemon
  • fresh pepper
  • fresh or dried dill for sprinkling

Method

Roasting butternut squash (or any pumpkin) is incredibly easy: wash, wrap in aluminium foil, heat oven to 220C and pop into the oven for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the squash/pumpkin. You will know it is cooked when you can easily insert a knife through to the middle. Take out of the oven, top and tail it, cut and scoop out the seeds (you can then toast those if you fancy). Done.

For the spread, mix all the ingredients, except for the dill, into the squash mash. Sprinkle dill on top of each slice of toast or in the bowl. Done!

Serve on bread, toast or crackers.

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Animals are not things for us to use; they are someone, not something (Francione). Go vegan. It is easy, delicious and the right thing to do http://www.howdoigovegan.com


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A Letter To… My non-vegan mother, who I still love

My latest essay for Ecorazzi is a response piece to the anonymous letter by a non vegan mother to her vegan daughter that was recently published in The Guardian.

As always, the issue is not about us, but about them – the victims in all this – the animals. If we keep the focus on that, we will see and understand the issues much more clearly.

Thanks to my friend CL for flagging the article to me and asking me what I thought about it. It is the second time she inspires me to write something.

 


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Napoli Soul Food: Pasta e Ceci (Chickpeas)

This is a perennial favourite in Naples and the South of Italy. It is  a one-pot delicious meal, fast, economical, utterly satisfying and basically, you just cannot go wrong here.

In this recipe, you have two options: one, just use chickpeas (ceci) or two, use ceci and broad beans (fava).

Combining fava and chickpeas is a bit of an enhancement to the chickpea-only recipe and it is inspired by the fact that I had a box of Hodmedod’s split dried fava beans. Oh and did you know, that Britain is the world’s largest producer of fava beans? It is a somewhat forgotten traditional pulse in the UK, so most of them end up in the Middle East where they still love them a lot. Fava beans are also very much used in Neapolitan cooking, so it feels right on a number of levels to use them in this dish.

You can use canned chickpeas or dry. In terms of canned chickpeas, I like the smaller, somewhat harder ones that you can get in supermarket own-brand, organic line, but the large and soft Italian ones are good too.

Instead of canned chickpeas, you can use dried chickpeas. You will need to soak them overnight with lots of water and a teaspoon of baking soda.   

This dish keeps very well and leftovers are wonderful. Serves two.

Pasta e ceci

Pasta e ceci with fava

Ingredients

  • 200g pasta (short type)
  • 200g dried split fava/broad beans (optional), rinsed
  • 1 can chickpeas (drained) or 3/4 of a cup dried chickpeas (soaked overnight, then rinsed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon asafoetida (optional) or 2 inch piece of kombu, rinsed (optional, both of these ingredients aid digestion)
  • 2 teaspoons chili flakes or one fresh or dried chili, chopped (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons flax meal (optional, but good for extra Omegas and creaminess)
  • pinch of fresh parsley, chopped
  • glug olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Method

In a large saucepan, heat up the garlic, asafoetida/kombu and chili flakes in a bit of olive or other vegetable oil. Let the garlic get golden. Do not let the garlic burn, but keep it in the saucepan this time (I usually take it out to leave only the hint, but it melts into this dish and it is great).

If you will be using the fava beans or the dried/soaked chickpeas, then you will be cooking these first. Add them to the saucepan and cover with water with at least two fingers’ width extra. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until the chickpeas and the fava are tender. You will be cooking the pasta in this water along with the fava/chickpeas, so do not drain the water when the legumes are cooked. 

If you will be using canned chickpeas only (and no fava beans), you will not need to pre-cook them as long as above, but you will want to roast them a little bit with the asafoetida/kombu, garlic, chili and olive oil. In this case, you will put them in when the garlic is golden and coat them with the fragrant mixture. This will take one or two minutes. Add the pasta and add water to just slightly cover the mixture.

Whether you are using the dried/soaked chickpeas plus fava or the canned chickpeas, do not add too much water to the legume and pasta mixture because you want the pasta to absorb it all. If you feel you need more water, add it as it is cooking. Add a pinch of salt and a glug of olive oil, stir, cover and bring to a boil.

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Pasta e ceci cooking in one pot (using kombu)

Once the water boils, lower the heat to medium/low and keep the mixture bubbling away gently for approximately 12 minutes or less (depending on your pasta – look at the package and see the recommended cooking time).

As it cooks, the fava, chickpeas and pasta will begin to amalgamate and become very creamy. Taste for seasoning halfway through the cooking process. When it’s all well amalgamated and cooked through, take off the burner, add the flax meal, parsley and, if you wish, a little bit of olive oil. Let the dish rest for a couple of minutes so the flavours can fully develop and then serve with vegan parmesan sprinkled on top or nutritional yeast or not, your choice.

Go vegan. There is no good reason not to and every reason to do so. It is easier than ever http://www.howdoigovegan.com

First published 9 February 2015


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Napoli Soul Food: Migliaccio

Migliaccio is one of my all time favourite desserts. Honestly, I could eat the whole thing and it is ALWAYS even more delicious the next day.  It is a typical Neapolitan cake made for Carnevale (aka Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day/Carnival/Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras).

I love it. It is sweet, but not too much so, dense, a bit chewy and very moist. The fragrance of orange and lemons fills the house while you prepare this cake and that is just the best.

Here is a bit of history. As the word implies, its main ingredient is miglio, which in English, translates to millet, a highly nutritious and wonderful grain. In 18th century Napoli, millet was a grain that was used by the poorer classes, thus, making it part of cucina povera. Today, millet is considered a rarified, fancy thing, but really it is not.

The suffix -accio, is a pejorative in Italian. Why would one ascribe a pejorative to a perfectly delicious food? The richer classes dismissed miglio and anything made of it because, well, poor folks ate it. But eat millet the populace did, luckily for us!

Let’s not forget why people prepared rich, nutritious and fattening dishes before the start of the Lenten period and, particularly, on Carnevale, the last hurrah before the 40 days of privation: during Lent people were meant to eat according to a prescribed set of rules with regularly occurring bread and water fasts. Priests would come ’round and check that you were doing just that. If one did not, one would be in trouble with the priest, and, presumably, with God.

Back to our contemporary kitchens. If you can find millet flour, then great. If not, semolina is the next best thing (and if neither millet nor semolina are available, then just use finely ground cornmeal). Semolina, is “the coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum wheat used in making pasta” (Wikipedia). The primary  aromas are lemon and oranges, which are in season during Winter. You cannot get more Mediterranean than this.

This recipe (after photo) is based upon the one my Mum gave me and that I have been using for years. Serves six to eight, at least. And for a variation, see this recipe for Migliaccio alla Mela (apple migliaccio).

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Ingredients

  • 1L of your favourite non-dairy milk 
  • 200g semolina (you will find it in most shops, even corner shops in larger cities)
  • 300g (or one packet) of firm, silken tofu, drained and mashed with back of fork (optional – it adds moisture and density)
  • 250g sugar 
  • 9 Tablespoons aquafaba or 3 Tablespoons flax meal whisked with 9 Tablespoons water, then refrigerated for a minimum of 15 minutes and up to an hour (flax egg)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 orange peel grated
  • 1 lemon peel grated (adding both orange and lemon peel is my addition and I love it. My Mum does not use both types)

Method

Preheat oven at 200C and lightly grease a rectangular baking dish. I use a rectangular 11×9 inch (28x23cm) glass pan, but you can use a slightly smaller size if that is what you have and it will make thicker slices. Do not line it because if you do, you will not get the light crust underneath that is very nice.

Whisk the aquafaba or flax egg (after you have followed the instructions above for the flax meal), sugar and vanilla until very frothy – set aside. 

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This is aquafaba whisked with sugar and vanilla extract 

In a large saucepan, warm the milk, silken tofu and grated rinds until boiling.

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When it is boiling, take the saucepan off the burner. Quickly pour in the semolina and whisk. Then place the saucepan back onto the burner for a few minutes (3-5 and sometimes even less) until the mixture has thickened significantly. Keep whisking/stirring to eliminate lumps as much as possible.  Take the saucepan off the burner.

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Now, my Mum passes the mixture through a food mill. That is a bit too much trouble for me and I do not mind lumps here and there. Instead, immediately after you take the semolina, tofu and soy milk mixture off the burner, use either an immersion blender, a hand mixer or your whisk and some elbow grease to get rid of most of the lumps. Just a quick buzzing should do it.

Next, mix in the creamed sugar and vanilla mixture. Once again, use the hand mixer/immersion blender to get texture right.

Pour the mixture into the baking dish.

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Place in oven for approximately 30-40 minutes if using the silken tofu (or 20-30 minutes if you are not) or until the sides and top are golden. Cooking time will depend on your oven.  Take it out of the oven, let it cool thoroughly and serve. Keeps well for several days and can even be served cold right out of the fridge… that is, if you don’t eat it all before!

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It is hypocritical to have positive reactions to cute animal stories or negative reactions to stories about animal abuse, extinction, and slaughter and to go on using them for reasons that are purely frivolous – pleasure and convenience. We do not need to use animals to thrive, or look great or eat delicious things. Please give this some thought. We all can go vegan http://www.howdoigovegan.com 

First published 7 February 2015 


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Easy Dandan Mien or Tan Tan Mein

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Dandan noodles is a fiery dish that comes from Sichuan. I first tasted it in Shanghai many years ago and have been hankering to make it myself ever since. I love fiery foods.

There are variations on spelling the name, including tan tan or tantan. The name refers to the pole on which street vendors traditionally sold the dish and, according to Wikipedia, the name literally translates to “noodles carried on a pole” or “peddler’s noodles”.

Thanks to a Kiwi Instagrammer’s general ingredients guidance (and twenty year vegan), I came up with my version. Thanks, Monsieur Vegan Burger! Serves four.

Ingredients

For the soup:

  • 750ml-1L vegetable stock or water
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini (either light or dark, whichever you prefer)
  • 2 Tablespoons miso (again, either light or dark depending on your preference)
  • thumb sized fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Sichuan pepper corns or 1 hot chili, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons shoyu soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons mirin
  • 2 Tablespoons sake
  • chili oil (to taste and/or optional)
  • juice of 1 lemon

For the rest:

  • one block of tofu (firm or extra firm), cubed
  • 100-200g shiitake (or other type) mushrooms (optional), thinly sliced
  • noodles of your choice (ramen, soba, udon, Thai rice or if you do not fancy noodles, use bean sprouts instead)
  • 200-300g spinach or kale or Chinese/pointed cabbage, chopped
  • 1-2 Tablespoons sesame seeds (light or black)
  • 4-5 spring onions, chopped

Method 

Start by cubing the tofu, boiling it and then either pan frying it or baking it in the oven. See these instructions for getting your tofu to the best possible texture. Ensure the tofu is nice and crispy so that it will soak up the soup base, while still remaining crispy. Set the tofu aside while you prepare the soup.

If you will be using mushrooms, then quickly sauté these (with oil or water) and set aside. See photo below of a version of this dish with mushrooms.

In a large saucepan (large enough to hold the stock/water – no need to use multiple pans!) heat the sesame oil over medium-high flame. Watch that it doesn’t begin to smoke – it won’t take long.

Sauté the onion and ginger over medium-high heat until the onion is soft (10-12 minutes). Add the chili pepper and/or the Sichuan pepper corns after 5 minutes.

Finish cooking the onion and ginger. Lower the heat to low and add the tahini and shoyu. Stir well to combine these and add a little bit of vegetable stock/water to help you along.

Once well amalgamated, add the rest of the water/stock and turn up to high heat. Cover and let it come to a boil – briefly. Immediately turn down the heat and simmer on low heat. 

Add the kale/cabbage/spinach, tofu and mushrooms and cover. Let the soup simmer gently for five minutes or so, or while you prepare the noodles. The vegetables should be just wilted. If you prefer the vegetables more tender, then increase the cooking time. 

Add the miso, mirin, sake, chili oil and lemon to the soup at the very end just before you are ready to ladle it into your bowl. Stir well, particularly to get the miso well amalgamated. Taste for seasoning and spiciness. 

Prepare the noodles. Once they are cooked, drain and divide them up among your bowls. If you fancy this dish without noodles, then use a generous handful of bean sprouts instead! Ladle the soup on top of the noodles and sprinkle each bowl with sesame seeds and spring onions.

Serve warm. If you have left over soup, it keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days. Just remember to save it without the noodles or you might end up with a gooey noodly mush.

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Dandan mien with shiitake mushrooms and kale

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Dandan mien with crispy baked tofu (no oil), king oyster mushrooms and bean sprouts instead of noodles

The animals we love are no different from the animals we use as food. If you are not vegan, please go vegan. It is easier than ever and http://www.howdoigovegan.com will help you get started. 

First published 11 September 2015