Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bumbu Kacang

In April, Andy went to Bali for a conference. While he was there, he went to a cooking class. His certificate of achievement is still hanging (okay, a bit ironically) on the fridge. He also brought a little recipe book home with him. The class and the book are so not vegan, which Andy says aligns with his experience in Bali overall, but pretty much everything in the world can be veganised, right?

When we harvested a bunch of peanuts, I had a go at veganising the peanut sauce recipe, which we then turned into a sort of curry-satay stirfry-stew kind of thing.

According to the book, this is called Bumbu Kacang. This is my version, veganised. Terribly healthy it ain't, nor will I make any claims on its authenticity. But it was yummy.

150grams raw, unsalted peanuts with the papery bits still on
2 Tbsp. sunflower oil
1/4 cup warm water
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small, hot chilli, minced
1 tsp. miso paste
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 small tomato
1 tsp. soy sauce
zest from 1 lime
juice from 1/2 a lime

To make the Bumbu Kacang, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the peanuts in the oil in batches (avoid crowding the pan). When they are just golden brown, remove them with a slotted spoon. In a mini-chopper (our method) or food processor or pestle&mortar, grind the peanuts with the water until finely ground.

Remove the peanuts to a bowl. In the mini chopper, blend the garlic, chilli, miso, and brown sugar until they are a paste. Pulse in the tomato. Stir this into the peanuts along with the soy sauce, lime zest and lime juice. Taste - adjust the flavours as needed to balance sweet, sour, salty and spicy.

At this point you could easily eat this as-is, perhaps as a dip for veggies or as a topping on grilled tofu. But we turned it into a full meal. Cauliflower, capsicum, zucchini and bok choy sauteed together; then the peanut sauce mixed in with a splish of coconut milk. We served it on rice, and topped with fresh coriander and some crunchy fried shallots.

The result was nothing like our usual peanut butter-based satay sauce, but holy pants it was good. Lighter, freshened up by the tomato in the sauce, but still intensely peanutty. A deeply satisfying use for a harvest of peanuts that I painstakingly shelled by hand.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Deliciously Healthy

Over the course of this year, I've noticed us shifting to a healthier way of eating. This isn't to say that we ate badly before - in fact, we generally tried to avoid bad food. But in the last few months we've shifted to actively choosing good things, instead of just avoiding the bad. I think this comes down to a few things. One is more awareness. Another is that as I do more exercise, I am hungrier and want to eat better to stay fuller longer. And a big reason is that we are much more financially comfortable now, so buying nuts and unusual grains and flours is something we can afford to do with a bit more regularity now.

One of the things that has made it much easier to shift to healthier eating is the fantastic, delicious, but very health conscious cookbook, Let them eat Vegan! by Dreena Burton. We just love it. Here are some of our winners.

"Fit-tuccine Alfredo". We skipped the chanterelle bread crumb topping, and served it on penne pasta with zucchini, broccoli and capsicum. Based on cashews, this sauce is suuuuper creamy and really delicious.
Raw-nch Dressing! [original exclamation mark] Made with a big handful of fresh parsley, this was fresh and creamy and filling. 

Perfect on a salad with enchiladas and corn on the cob. 

White bean mashed potatoes. This was a bit of hassle to make, and Andy didn't think it was worth it, but it really is much healthier than regular mash. With eggplant parma, sauteed gai lan, and roasted radishes.

Yellow Sweet Potato Chickpea Pie with Basil. This recipe, or some variation of it, is one of our favourites from the book. It's easy to make, and easy to modify, and really delicious. We have only ever made it with orange sweet potatoes, and sometimes use white beans instead of chickpeas, but it is always delicious. Unfortunately, it may have killed my blender last week. 

The star of this pizza is Romesc-oat Sauce, a roasted capsicum-based thick spread with the nutty taste of toasted almonds and toasted oats. 

BBQ Sunflower Tofu, cooked on the BBQ instead of in the oven. Easy peasy, delicious, made with sunflower butter for a different kind of taste. With BBQ eggplant, rocket, and bok choy. 

Jerk Chickpeas, with added eggplant and rocket. 

Lemon-Infused Mediterranean Lentils - made with veggies mixed in, and a little bit saucier. 

There are lots of gems in this cookbook. It makes me want to look more into Dreena's recipes - but Andy thinks I should make more things out of the cookbooks we have before I get more new ones!