On one of the coldest days last week, I spent the day cooking. I made a loaf of bread, some bread rolls, butter and cheese. I know it is relatively easy to buy all these things in Melbourne, but I find a lot of pleasure in making the most basic foods like these. I make bread the most often, because the no knead recipe is so simple, and the results are so rewarding.
I’ve only made vegan butter once, before the arrival of Half Pint Vegan Dairy butter. But with no butter available at the moment from Half Pint, I decided I’d make some. The recipe I used is the one at veganbaking.net. I make cheese probably once a month, and live in hope that I will finally make the perfect vegan cheese. I’m still trying. 🙂 In the meantime I’ve settled on this one. At the end I had a very nice cheese and tomato crunchy roll with some sprouts for lunch. Sometimes simple pleasures are the best.
Regular readers of the blog might have noticed a few references recently to Half Pint Vegan Dairy butter. I am so in love with this butter that I thought it deserved a short post of its own. I’m onto my third tub.
I originally bought a tub to do some baking. Butter behaves differently in baking because it is hard when chilled, unlike margarine. This is important to make anything that requires the butter to be layered such as pastry and croissants. Margarine just melts so no layers are formed. Anyway to cut a long story short I didn’t end up doing any baking, I just scoffed the lot. On toast, on crumpets, in dhal, in sandwiches.
I love it. I love its cute retro packaging. I love that it has a short list of recognisable ingredients. I love that it is locally made by a small business. And most importantly it tastes good.
I will get round to baking with it at some point, but meanwhile I am enjoying it just on its own.
I got mine at Mad Cowgirls Vegan Grocery. It is also available at The Cruelty Free Shop, Terra Madre and the Prahran Convenience Store.
These lentils are a fabulous wintry dish that are an old favourite of mine. Melbourne’s weather is all over the place at the moment ranging from 6 to 22 degrees, and I snuck this dish in on one of the colder nights. It comes from The Savoury Way by Deborah Madison. Her food is simple and tasty, though usually vegetarian rather vegan. I had stopped making this dish last year as the finishing of the sauce really needs butter. 🙁
Enter Half Pint Vegan Dairy Butter! It behaves beautifully like butter, and the emulsified red wine and butter sauce is delicious.
I like to make this with the little french type green lentils as they remain whole, but it can also be made with ordinary brown lentils which will cook more quickly, but you need to make sure they don’t fall to pieces.
I usually eat this with some mashed potato or soft polenta.
When I was little, my dad sometimes made the mashed potatoes to go with our dinner.
We loved it when dad was in charge because he added about four tons of butter, so that the finished potatoes were yellow (this is in the days when we only had white potatoes!)
I have really high expectations of mashed potatoes after that decadent richness and really didn’t believe that mashed potatoes with olive oil could be this good.
Well I am so happy to find that they are. These are the most creamy luxurious mashed potatoes I have eaten since giving up butter.
Sometimes I’ve also been adding just a smidge of truffle oil or a grating of vegusto parmesan to up the luxury a notch. But they are great as is and excellent with the lentils.
1 teaspoon tomato paste or a few sundried tomatoes
11/2 cups red wine
2 cups water
1 or 2 tbs vegan butter
red wine or sherry vinegar
Soak the lentils in very hot water while you prepare the rest of the ingredients
In a large saucepan heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic, herbs and half the parsley until the onon colours slightly and softens
Add the tomato paste/sundried tomatoes
Add the wine, bring to the boil and simmer for a minute to drive off the alcohol
Drain the lentils (discarding the soaking water) and add to the pan with the 2cups of water and some salt to taste.
Cover and cook until the lentils are tender but not falling to pieces.
If there is a lot of liquid remove the lid and turn up the heat to reduce it but not completely. You need some liquid left to emulsify with the butter and also if you over reduce it it will taste too strong.
Stir in the butter, the remaining parsley and a dash of vinegar and salt to taste.