Vegan Cashew Cream Cheese

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It’s been almost three months here in Italy and I’m starting to realise that your environment can really influence you. Like, A LOT.

The most remarkable thing Italy has succeeded in has been to make someone who took pride in not being addicted to caffeine a person who barely spends a day without drinking a cappuccino. With soy/almond/rice milk, please.

Closely related to becoming a coffee-addict is my cornetto/brioche consumption (I still don’t get the difference, if there is any) which has gotten to the point where I need to pull myself together not to get a cornetto on my way to (or from) uni. Bad, bad habit, I know, but I tested if my addiction was severe by spending four days back home. I didn’t have one croissant and I didn’t miss it, I had a croissant the first day because I went to have breakfast with my parents, and the croissant was part of the deal (damn it!), but I managed not to have one for the remaining three days and I didn’t miss it, so I decided I can happily continue eating croissants while being here. On a side note, vegan croissants are pretty luscious, too.

One funny thing I have witnessed for the second time now, is that “good” becomes very relative when you go abroad. After I lived in London, people whose English I had considered perfect before suddenly had heavy accents. The pizza in that restaurant I always considered fairly good, suddenly is extremely dry and fairly terrible. Oh Italy, what hast Thou done unto me? 

Thankfully my taste for wholesome and vegan food has not changed, though I admittedly am not being very vegan here (because pizza, homemade pasta and cornettos).

This cashew cream is a friend’s invention and one of the best things that has happened to me (and to you). Very very thankful for this invention and for my mum who had asked her for the recipe and regularly makes it ever since. So yes, this post is more like a guest post, because apart from taking the pictures, I didn’t do much. (Thanks Andrea for the recipe and mum for having it ready when I got home!)

But I asked them for approval and so here it is: the spread that might possibly change your life and which will make eliminating cream cheese from your diet plan pretty easy!

vegan spread

Makes a good batch (sorry, but my mum could not tell me quantities)

  • 200 g cashews
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • thyme (fresh, if possible)
  • pepper

Wash the cashews and soak them overnight (or over the day), changing the water at least once. Rinse them well and cook them with some fresh water, the garlic clove and some salt until they are soft. Drain, keeping the water in a separate bowl.

Put cashews and garlic in a food processor, add some thyme and pepper, and process until smooth. You might want to add some of the liquid if necessary. Garnish with olive oil and fresh herbs.

Cashew Cream Cheese

That’s it. Enjoy. 

Homemade vegan Cashew cheese

Cashew Cream

Monthly Inspiration #1

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Because eating out has become a habit here, and I do cook, but switched more to the enjoy-food-made-by-others-mode, I decided that this is going to be a post of another kind. For my food adventures here in Padova, you can follow me on Instagram.

nade in the kitchen - instagram

There are wonderful people out there, and I discover new things almost every day that make me really excited. This is going to be a post with some of my favourite posts from the last couple of weeks. Inspiration, start-ups, talks. Simply good stuff.

I love nice clothes. By nice I mean those kind of clothes you wear on days where you get up and feel like you’re having a good day (or planning to have one). Those clothes you just don’t want to take off. I do not, however, love how most of my clothes were produced. We all know about child labour, and I am not going to write an article about that. But what we might not know is that in fact there is nice and fair clothing, which I believed to be an impossibility until a few weeks ago. Two online shops I find particular cool is MASKA, and in particular this sweater and Santosh.

MASKA - Fair Clothing Online Shop

This homepage wants to help give homeless people a home. The concept is easy: They have advertisement on their site. Every time we go to the website, money is generated. This money goes directly to neunerhaus, a Viennese aid organisation that allows homeless people to live a decent life. Making the homepage your welcome page is a very easy way to do good. Do it.

Obdachlosen helfen

Food Waste is a big issue in our society, and the bad news is: we’re all in the system, and even if we do not let our veggies rot in the fridge, there will still be food waste, mainly because there are crazy regulations about ugly fruit and vegetables like knobby carrots or small strawberries. The good news is that there is a really cool Startup called Unverschwendet (german for “unwasted”) which exclusively uses fruit and vegetables which would otherwise be thrown away. Cornelia, the founder of Unverschwendet, is currently trying to crowdfund her project, and I think that helping her reduce food waste in Austria is well-invested money.

You can support Cornelia here.

Some food inspiration and to-try-recipes for the next weeks:

Key Lime Tart

When I get back, I would like to start posting everyday recipes, those recipes that don’t deserve their name, because you just mix up something, but the result is something heavenly. Those things you cook when you’re in a hurry, or just don’t know what to cook. What are your go-to-recipes?

Osterpinzen [traditional Easter bread in Eastern and Southern Austria]

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The first week in Padova consisted of more welcome meetings and partying than lectures (in fact, we were expected to miss our courses because of the welcome meeting). There was a tight schedule of partying every night, while at that point, we didn’t have a fixed schedule for our lectures. Welcome to Erasmus life.

Also, I have come to the irrevocable conclusion that there is no such thing as English weather. The first two weeks mainly consisted of rain, wind, fog and cold. There were three days of sunshine in 15 days. Exactly what we would call English weather. But who says it’s English? I remember we had the same thing in Graz and I remember when I went to Berlin with two friends for four days last year and we had three days of rain, and approximately 10 minutes of hail/snow/indefinite precipitation. In April. Tell me more about English weather.

Anyways. Italy is treating me very well and there’s one word for that: food. I’m deadly serious. How the heck do they do that?

But because Austria is nice, too, I came back for a couple of days to celebrate Naw-Rúz with my family. I, too, though not being entirely Austrian and not having grown up in a Christian family (apart from my beloved great-grandmother), am familiar with easter customs in Austria. One of them is pretty luscious in particular – it’s an Easter Bread called “Osterpinze” (pronounced “oh-sta-pin-tseh”, kind of).

This bread, though. Is so so good. Also: how cool is that apricot jam glaze that looks like egg?

Vegane Osterjause

Makes 3-5 Pinzen

  • 500 g flour
  • 250 g milk
  • 30 ml water
  • 50 g sugar
  • 1/2 cube fresh yeast (20 g)
  • 70 g margarine, room temperature
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp parts apricot jam + some water
  • oil

Add the flour to a bowl. In a pot, slightly (!) heat the milk, water and sugar (you should easily be able to keep your finger in the milk without burning yourself). Add the yeast and mix until it has dissolved.

If your margarine is not soft, heat it a little. Add the milk-mixture, margarine and salt to the flour.

Vegane Osterpinze osterpinze vegan austrian easter bread vegan

Mix with a spoon until you have nice lumps, then knead until you obtain a nice dough.

How to make vegan easter bread

vegan yeast dough

Cover with a wet dish towel and let rise in warm place (if there is not warm place nearby, putting blanket around the bowl does the trick). Two hours is a good time. It will more than double.

yeast dough rising

Yeast dough with fresh yeast

Mix jam with a little water.

How to replace egg for glazing

Knead the dough.

Veganer Striezel

Make three to five small buns and place on a baking sheet. Brush them with the jam mixture.

How to vegan glaze

In a small, high glass, add some oil and dip your (clean) scissors in it. Cut the pinzen in three, about two thirds of their hight (not touching the baking sheet, or otherwise they might fall apart).

How to make Osterpinze

Osterpinze vegan

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Bake the pinzen for 20-25 minutes (depending on their size).

Now this is important, people: I know they’re tempting when they come out of the oven. But: do not slice it while it’s still warm, because it will not look nice and taste raw like it’s not completely done.

Osterpinze ohne Ei

Vegan Easter vegan Easter Bread

My New Root’s Cashew Dreamcake

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When my cousin was not married, and I was still at school, I visited him about once a month in Vienna in his shared flat, and during every almost every stay, I would have a project, mostly having something to do with the kitchen: clearing out the fridge, neatening some random kitchen cupboard or, when I was in an exceptionally good mood, cleaning the whole kitchen.

Now my cousin is married, has a beautiful apartment (and wife), and the first evening I was there, we cooked a better Khoreshte Bademjan than in my last post (there might be a new post, soon…). I am not sure about the exact reasons behind this, but sometimes, I am overcome with the urge of having to clean kitchens like a madwoman.

Apart from spending my time cleaning the kitchen an rearranging the living room (which was not my idea, FYI), I witnessed a romantic adventure trip of two people in their mid-fifties on the bus to Vienna. Not only was I tired and couldn’t sleep, but also did I have to watch these two people, who had met on the bus 50 minutes before, kissing for entire 80 minutes. The one-sided-conversation they had after cuddling and telling the world (or the two people sitting behind them, one of them being me) was very amusing indeed: “We will stay in touch on facebook”, she said. “Can I be friends with only one person? I want to be friends only with you.” OK, woman.

When I came back from Vienna, I felt like I should pack for Padova, which is was happening the day afterbut instead, I tidied up my room. By this, I don’t mean tidy up like every normal person would, but tidying up to a degree where I would re-organize my folders, look through every single sheet, through out half of them and feel relieved afterwards. The content of my furniture has never in my life been so orderly.

This excessive spring-cleaning is the reason why I didn’t start packing until two days before my departure.

But now I’m almost done, leaving in an hour (!!) and so so ready to move to the country of delicious pizza and heavenly ice cream, of loud voices and feisty people, of caffé e cornetto. Italy, here I come.

Raw Cheese Cake

Raspberry vegan Cheesecake

I think I’ve never reblogged a recipe, but I really cannot withhold you from this cake. When people want a second piece after an abundant dinner, it’s usually a sign something’s yum. A huge thanks you to Sarah Britton from My New Roots for this amazing cake!

Raw Cashew Dreamcake

Notes: I haven’t really changed anything about the recipe except for using only one lemon (I know, she says it’s important to use two) and adding some organic lemon zest. Also, I used maple syrup instead of honey and added in a splash of water to the cream. 

What may be of interest to you is that in order to achieve two separate layers of cream, I placed the cake with only the white layer in the freezer for about 15 minutes, then poured the raspberry layer on top.

When I serving, I like it to stand outside for an hour at least (I prefer a soft consistence rather than a frozen one)

Cheesecake with Cashews

And now. ENJOY. 

Raw Cashew Dream Cake My New Roots

Frozen Strawberries for Raw Cake

Khoreshte Gheimeh-Bademjan (Persian Split Pea Stew)

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I’ll be living in Italy in less than a month. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am. Unlike the majority of Erasmus students, whose semester abroad consists of big parties, lots of free time and chillin’ and very little studying, I am mentally preparing myself to hours and hours of studying and reading. And not only reading, but reading in Italian only. I never learnt reading Italian, I never learnt writing Italian, and all of the courses (except for a B2 Englisch course for which we will get 2 of 30 ECTS credits) and lectures are held in Italian, and Italian only. Who doesn’t love a challenge?

Of course, there are not 1359 things to do for Uni (no exams or seminar papers to write, no pressure on picking a topic for my bachelor thesis and no weird dreams about it) and this is why the fever, cold and headache chose the perfect time to appear in my immune system. Well done, peeps, I appreciate your cooperation!

Also, a thing that’s keeping my mind pretty busy is how some people get along with others and others don’t. This sounds so so trivial, but does anyone have an answer to that? Chances are high I will soon find a TED Talk about this topic, because this has been my latest obsession.

Some of my favourites from the past months:

The recipe for this khoresh (persian stew) has been long due (and whoa, this rhymes!) and I am very very excited to share it with you.

Serving Khoresh

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Did someone say Thumbprints? (+ A Giveaway!)

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I cannot tell you how excited (once again) I am to publish this post because it contains three (!!) pretty cool things.

1. My Wish List, which you might find helpful in times of consumer enthusiasm.

2. (PEOPLE RESIDING IN AUSTRIA ONLY) I have two cool giveaways and you can enter the competition today. 

We have

(1) Classic vanilla sugar
(2) Organic and Fairtrade Mascobado Vanilla and Tonca Bean Sugar

IMG_6283_Fotor

Unfortunately this giveaway is only open to people with an Austrian address. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post or on Facebook mentioning which one of the two you would like to win by December 10th, 9pm.

The Giveaway is closed.

3. A recipe for what seems to have become my favourite cookie recipe because it’s easy, quick and yummy (as you see, I’ve been more on the lazy side lately…).

IMG_6480

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The 50 g banana bread

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Note in advance: Here is a very cool list of things you might want to consider purchasing. 

I know, this is an interesting name for a banana bread, but if you knew what this bread has inside and what it actually tastes like, you will be blown away. Get ready, friends, because this bread is

  • sugar free
  • vegan and 
  • gluten-free
  • soy free

and the result of about 3651 trial rounds. When I realized that my bread (or cake, as some call it) was vegan and sugar-free, I made it gluten-free, too, so we can all enjoy it with a clean conscience.

In the past months I made the conclusion that 90 % of vegan baked goods are good, but in a vegan way good. My dad is not completely wrong when he says that vegan desserts taste vegan and he clearly prefers the non-vegan variety of sweets and cakes.

But this bread is different.

My motto some five years ago was along the lines of “the more work you have cooking or baking something, the better’, but in times of exams, seminar papers and presentations there is not much room for this motto anymore.

My aim at mixing those ingredients together to make this bread was to keep it as short and simple as possible. I used to mash the dates and bananas with a fork and grate the zucchinis, but the consistency will never be as creamy as the one attained when mixed in a blender and also: time.

vegan banana bread

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A Road Trip through Sweden and a Very Good Curry

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This summer has been pretty crazy (=busy) for me and the road trip through Denmark and Sweden was one hell of a good trip. We were seven people, two cars, a car boot packed with food we had bought in Austria, believing that Sweden is so expensive you cannot realistically afford a thing (which turned out not to be the case. Quite on the contrary in fact, when it comes to supermarkets).

Not having planned a lot and being seven people, I thought this trip was going to be a bit stressful – but lo and behold, we managed not to have significant disagreements a single time. That is, if you ask me, a master stroke, bearing in mind that we were on the road for two and a half weeks and generally decided spontaneously where we were going to camp next, how long we were going to stay there and what we were going to do that day.

When it comes to food, we weren’t typical campers because spices were pretty much the base of every dish and compared to the deep-fried, animal-fat- and flavour-enhancer-packed food people around us cooked and ate, we stood out. A lot.

tomato sauce

noodles without a sinkvegan curry vegan ethipoian feastour spice box

using what you've got chickpea salad while camping cooking in the woods polenta with vegetable stewmoroccan spiced vegetables and couscous

Apart from eating good food, we drove quite a bit – almost 4000 km.

We started our journey in Graz and drove to Rostock, Germany the first day. For the way, we had prepared wraps and couscous salad and because no journey is a real journey without some adventure, the warning lamp in one of the cars lit up, indicating that we didn’t have enough engine oil. This wouldn’t have been such a big issue if our car mechanic hadn’t told us two days before that he had refilled everything.

Not so sure if calling my dad was a good idea (as it was our car), the three of us started panicking a little in the car, and eventually decided that calling was in fact a good idea.

Luckily, it turned out not to be an issue, and apart from the lady at the petrol station seeming a bit troubled about three girls filling the engine with oil, we arrived safely at our hostel in Rostock, where the rest of the group waited for us.

We spent the night with strangers in our room (who arrived late and insisted they wanted to have the bed I was lying on).

The next day, we took the ferry to Gedser and drove to København (what a beautiful city!!). We agreeed that chances Smørrebrød will be our favourite dish are pretty low and rhubarb lemonade is pretty awesome (I feel guilty using this word because I watched this two days ago).

Kopenhagen One Wax Thanks for visiting Botanical Garden Kopenhagen The Little Mermaid Kopenhagen København

After spending a couple of days there we drove to Göteborg, crossing the Öresund Bridge (except the other car taking another route and landing on a ferry).

Öresund Bridge

We managed to meet in Tylösand and feasted on our Pesto Pasta (which we had prepared in the morning) at the shore. Beautiful. And cold.

Tylösand

Pasta and Pesto in Tylösand

We then drove to Göteborg, built up out tents on the camping and had dinner a second time. Göteborg is a hipster (or hippie?) city.

Göteborg

The next couple of days, we travelled around and chose quite unique and adventurous places to camp. Swedens nature is breath-taking and generally speaking, in Sweden everything has style.

Revsand camp Revsand Camping Sweden's sky Revsand Roadtrip through Sweden Fjällbacka Houses Fjällbacka

If you happen to visit Stockholm, please make sure to eat Falafel at the best falafel place you’ve ever been to.

Other than that, I’m too excited to share this post that I have no patience to keep on writing about our trip. Some pictures will do (maybe?).

Campfire in Ösjönäs We feel at home. Our tentsOrange It looks like Italy, doesn't it? Island near Stockholm Swedish Stonehenge Swedish Sheep


Because we cooked curry twice and this recipe has been on my to-share list for way too long, I thought that now was the time. (side note: this is inspired, though heavily adapted, by a Jamie Oliver curry)

vegetarian curry

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How to cook Persian Rice

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Apart from preparing gluten-free granola bars from Green Kitchen Stories, trying to figure out how to handle the heat in Austria which is becoming unbearable and thinking about what I will need/can leave behind with a clear conscience for our road trip through Denmark and Sweden in two days time (!!), I’ve been having rice on my mind for more than a month. Not only rice, but Persian rice. Now what is so special about Persian rice, you may ask? Persians will cringe at this question. Persian rice is probably the way of preparing rice. Let me explain.

Rice is considered as side dish in many cultures, in Persia there is no such thing as rice as a side dish. Rice stars almost every Persian dish.

The first thing that makes Persian rice special is that it’s Persian.

Just kidding. Before cooking the rice, the rice is rinsed to remove the starch and prevent it from sticking together after cooking (like sushi rice or risotto).

Another difference is that it is cooked like pasta for a few minutes, and then steamed.

The best part is undoubtedly the “tahdig” (pronounced ‘tah-deeg’, literally meaning ‘bottom of the pan’), the crunchy crust that causes fights at the table and is always the first thing gone at buffets.

Because I believe Persian rice to be one of the best things, I decided that pictures weren’t enough.

So here is my video and the detailed recipe below.

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