Decadent Choc Hazelnut Cheesecake

A few weeks ago, I found myself channel surfing and consquently fixated on an episode of Nigellissima, where a Nutella Cheesecake was being born. “Utter brilliance”, I thought. I love chocolate-anything. It was a fairly straight forward recipe and all the ingredients were pre-packaged. As I began to mull over how to make a vegan version of this, I found myself getting a little too carried away and complicating things.

I’ve held back greatly on the many ideas whirring around in my head here – the one thing that I wasn’t going to compromise on, though, was a gluten free base. And one that doesn’t use packaged biscuits – because I’ve done that before. I wanted to try something different, so the base is an adaptation of this recipe – literally the first Google search result for “vegan rice crispy recipe”.

Decadent Choc Hazelnut Cheesecake 4
Decadent Choc Hazelnut Cheesecake

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Pastisio/Pasticcio

This dish, pronounced “pastitzo” to the Greeks and “pastichio” to the Italians is something my yia yia (Greek grandmother) made often when I was a child and I loved it. Of course, her version was made with a meaty bolognese and a Greek style béchamel that has an egg whipped into it. You might have tried that type of white sauce before on moussaka.

At the age of 12 when I was trying to become vegetarian, this dish was one of my weaknesses and much to my yia yia’s dismay, I eventually started scraping out the layer of bolognese and just eating the pasta and béchamel. Thankfully, with a bit of imagination and skill, I can recreate a vegan version of this childhood memory in my very own kitchen!

Traditionally, yia yia always used tubular pasta but you could use any pasta you like – including gluten free.

Pasticcio 3
Serves 8-10, depending on the shape of your baking dish. Mine divides into 9 comfortably.

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Lentil Bolognese

I haven’t really divulged or discussed my heritage on this blog… What better time to tell you than now! One of my parents is Italian and the other is Greek – so as you can imagine, I was surrounded by some pretty amazing food while growing up. In addition, I was brought up in a culturally diverse suburb of Melbourne where being caucasian made you the minority – so I learned to accept and embrace different races and cultures from a very young age. I can’t thank my parents enough for bringing me up in such an environment and I have no doubt that this has heavily influenced my curiosity with international cuisine.

Although I was born and raised in Australia, because of my upbringing, I sometimes struggle with understanding Australian slang and colloquialisms and am also both baffled and humoured by Australian home style cooking. You know what I’m talking about – desserts using Kellog’s cereal or Arnott’s biscuits as the main ingredient; meals that are flavoured with tinned soup or sachets of dried soup… And of course Vegemite, which will always confuse and bewilder me. I may have had a chance with Vegemite once upon a time, however my sister convinced me that it tasted like Nutella so I shoved a heaping tablespoon of it in my mouth. To this day, the smell of Vegemite makes me want revenge.

I also have some very amusing food quirks and opinions that I don’t even realise are odd until someone laughs at me for voicing them. For example – we always used flat leaf parsley in our house and mum referred to the curly variety as “Aussie parsley”, while insisting that it had no flavour; kalamata were the only type of olive I’d eaten until I was in my twenties.. and of course: tomatoes are rubbish unless they’re home grown.

I’m sure as this blog develops, you’ll read more bits and pieces about what led me here – but for now, a recipe!

Lentil Bolognese
Yields 8.5 cups and is suitable for freezing.

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Raw Chocolate Custard & A Healthy Parfait!

This miracle happened when I was trying to make a lower fat version of my chocolate mousse – I wanted to omit the use of coconut altogether and thought zucchini would make a pretty brilliant substitute, considering its lack of calories and how neutral its taste is when raw. Luckily, it worked. I really hope you make this; your life won’t be the same without it!

And just a quick note: This is best made and eaten fresh. Don’t leave it in your fridge for more than a day and a half.

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Serves 6

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Recent Smoothies

You won’t find many breakfast recipes on this blog because when it comes to getting a good start to the day, I’m a complete smoothie fiend. I always keep a full drawer of chopped fruit in my freezer and if I’m running low, I quietly start to panic. Here are some of last week’s concoctions:

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Banana, spinach and orange blended with water. Always remove the peel and pith from your oranges or they’ll be really bitter and you might find some stringy bits in your drink. Eew.

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This one was after a couple of dog walks – banana, orange, raspberry, AtV cashew sour cream, cinnamon and agave blended with water.

If you click that link, it’ll take you to the recipe for the cashew sour cream. I always keep some on hand – it’s a staple in my kitchen, just like my cashew béchamel. The best part about these two creamy wonders is that they’re both freezer friendly! You can use a regular ice tray to freeze them, but I only have funny shaped ones (whose novelty have worn off), so I use a silicone mini cupcake tray for freezing. When they’re done, I pop them all out of the tray and store them in a container or zip lock bag in the freezer. Continue reading

Chocolate Mousse Crumble

This is a semi-raw, rich & creamy mousse that’s dairy, gluten and egg free! There’s a hint of coconut flavour from the coconut milk, but you can’t taste the avocadoes at all, I promise. The tartness of raspberries cuts through the richness of this nicely – I recommend serving with fresh or defrosted raspberries (or any other berry), or a berry coulis.

I made this on a whim tonight, with a list on ingredients but no guidance on quantities. A huge thanks goes out to my friend Jodie for the inspiration.

Choc Mousse Crumble
Serves 10

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Another Raw Lunch!

Yet another recipe from Addicted to Veggies – this is the Loaded Creamy “No Pasta” Salad. I made a half batch, marinated my broccoli for 4 hours in the zip lock bag and skipped the optional pickle relish. The tenderising technique Sarahfaé has come up with is brilliant – I thought the broccoli seemed very lightly blanched. If you like cooked broccoli, don’t be afraid to leave this in the fridge overnight.

Loaded Creamy No Pasta Salad

I don’t know if you can really call healthy food “badass”, but I’m going there. This meal kicks butt.

Even half a batch of the original recipe was pretty huge – I’d say about a third of the full recipe would be one serve for me. Towards the end, I was at that point of knowing if I kept eating I was going to feel sick, but it just tasted so damn good that I couldn’t help myself! Yep. I finished it. Deeeeelicious. This might end up being a semi-regular lunch for me. Not only is broccoli my favourite vegetable EVER, but it really wasn’t that hard to prepare this. I already had some AtV sour cream on hand; the rest of the work was just chopping and storing ingredients in separate layers of my tiffin, ready for a quick assembly at lunch time.

Mustard Tofu

Here’s the third recipe, using my cashew béchamel, as promised! This is a vegan version of the “mustard chicken” recipe from Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals. Please excuse my dodgy night time photos – the lighting in my kitchen isn’t that great and I don’t have a very schmick camera.

Mustard Tofu Finished1
Serves 4

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