These are incredible - so fluffy and great for a special vegan breakfast or if you have run out of eggs (….or milk). They freeze well and are pretty good popped in the toaster the next day too.
If you don’t have plant milk blend 2 tbsp nut butter (PB, cashew, almond, tahini…etc.) with 2 cup water until smooth or 1 cup coconut cream and 1 cup water
If you don't have lemon juice use 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
The baking powder is the key ingredient to make these pancakes fluffy so give the jar a big shake to make sure all the active ingredients are evenly distributed.
Recipe: Fluffy Vegan Pancakes
2 cups white spelt flour (or regular flour, or half and half)
4 tbsp coconut sugar
1.5 tbsp baking powder (give the jar a shake first)
3/4 tsp salt
2 cup of plant milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
coconut oil for frying
Reishi + Chocolate
Increase coconut sugar to 4 tbsp and add 1 tsp (or more) Reishi Mushroom and 1 tbsp cocoa powder. Just before cakes start bubbling top with a few dark chocolate chips before flipping. Serve with coconut ice cream and reishi chocolate sauce (melt 100g dark chocolate, 1/2 tsp reishi, 1/4 tsp salt with 1/2 cup coconut cream in a double boiler til smooth)
Blueberry + Lemon pancakes
Just before you are ready to cook batter add 1 cup frozen blueberries, zest of 1 lemon and 1/2 tsp butterlfy pea powder dissolved in 1 tsp boiling water. Fry in a little coconut oil and serve with coconut yoghurt, maple syrup, more blueberries, lemon juice and lemon zest.
‘Fruit Toast’ pancakes
To the dry ingredients add 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp mixed spice, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, zest 1 orange and 1/2 cup sultanas. Fry in a little coconut oil and serve spread with butter and a pinch of salt
'Golden Milk' Turmeric Pancakes
To the dry ingredients add 1 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp ground ginger and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Fry in a little coconut oil an serve with lots of maple syrup, coconut cream a drizzle of tahini and a twist of black pepper.
Vegan Corn Fritters
Reduce coconut sugar to 1 tsp, leave out vanilla and increase salt to 1 tsp. Just before frying add 1 and a half cups of corn kernels (frozen or drained canned is fine but don't used creamed corn), 1 diced red pepper, 2 diced spring onions and 1 clove minced garlic. Shallow fry in coconut oil til golden. Serve with unsweetened coconut yoghurt, sweet chilli sauce, sauerkraut, smashed avo and plant bacon
Kimchi (or sauerkraut) Pancakes
Replace 1 cup of the plant milk with kimchi/kraut juice, leave out sugar and vanilla and before frying fold in 1cup drained kimchi/kraut. shallow fry in coconut oil til golden. Serve with unsweetened coconut yoghurt and fresh greens.
The Elder tree (Sambucus nigra) can be found all through out the South Island of New Zealand and in some parts of the North growing wild in back gardens, parks, and community reserves*.
The Elder produces flowers in the late spring/early summer and berries in the autumn that can be used for both medicinal and culinary purposes. Though both the flowers and berries are considered medicinal they have slightly different properties. The white blossoms of the Elder tree have been said to have anti-inflammatory and expectorant qualities, making them potentially useful remedy for unproductive coughs and sore throats. Historically, the berries have been celebrated for their anti-viral properties and can be particularly useful when preserved for winter use and taken at the onset of a cold or flu. The berries are also high in vitamin C and antioxidants and have been used as a skin hydrator and anti-aging tonic.
They also taste amazing. So for this reason at home we try to get them in where we can. I pop the fresh berries in hot cross buns along with raisins, make cordial to take straight to ease sore throat or sip slowly mixed with hot water, infuse them in apple cider vinegar and maple syrup to use in dressings or to mix with soda water for refreshing afternoon drink OR do a this recipe for fresh Elderberry gin.
There are only a few Elderberries left on the trees around Dunedin but these will be the sweetest so get in quick to make this gin. If you can't find any Elderberries, any other wild fruits like blackberries or plums work well too. Use the same method but prick plums a few times with a cocktail skewer before freezing. You can also use dried elderberries but they need to be rehydrated in boiling water overnight first (skip the freezing process here). If you don’t want to use alcohol you can extract the berries with apple cider vinegar using the same method, though the vinegar will preserve for much less time, a year or a little more but keep in fridge to be sure.
*As always when foraging or wildcrafting take care to be mindful, safe and respectful to yourself, the plants and the land. Gather away from roadsides and known spray areas (you can call your local council’s parks department to enquire), ask permission of the land owner, and gather only small amounts from an abundant plant or area. Only take what you know you will use and never more than 1/3 of any plant at the very most. I also ask the plant if its ok….may sound strange but it makes sense to me and brings about a sense of relationship to the food or medicine I am about to make.
This is an unconventional (but fun!) way to make infused alcohol but its good for those who forget to shake the random jar sitting at the back of the cupboard every day or two. The freezing helps break down the tough skin and release the juices inside. An alcohol content of at least 40% is best for extracting medicinals but lower will work too for culinary purposes. Once you have made the base spirit, divide the mixture and try turning a portion into a spicy Elderberry liqueur - the best warming winter nightcap.
Wild Elderberry (or foraged fruit) Gin
Elderberries (or a mixture of Elder, Blackberry, Wild Plum)
High proof gin, vodka or brandy
Large mason jar with tight fitting lid
Gather your berries, as many as you can (think filling the mason jar) and remove from the stalk. You want as little stalk as possible (though a little is ok) as it can hurt some people tummies. Pick out any foreign objects but don't wash unless you really really want to.
Pop in snap lock bag and freeze overnight.
When ready, place frozen berries in mason jar and add enough gin to cover berries completely, you don't want any exposed to air which is why its best to have the right sized jar for the amount of berries. Don’t stress too much though, daily shaking will expose the berries to the alcohol often enough.
Put the lid on tight.Tight as you possibly can. This is where it gets weird. Wrap the jar in bubble wrap, then brown paper, another layer of bubble wrap, then a tea towel. Tie the whole bundle up with string and place it in the boot of your car for 3-4 weeks so it rolls and shakes while you journey (if too risky for you just keep it in a dark cupboard and shake it every day, couple of days or whenever you remember).
You can strain this any where from 1 month or 2 and drink straight away but it is best left to mature for another few months. Serve straight, sipped slowly and intentionally in front of the fire or add to soda, maple syrup and lemon for a rich winter cocktail. Store in a cool dark place and will last many years.
This gin is strong so if liqueur is more your jam then try this….
Spicy Elderberry Liqueur
Double, triple or quadruple this to your needs
1 cup sweetener (sugar, maple etc. I like using coconut sugar)
1 cup water
zest 1 orange
2 cinnamon sticks broken up
1 star anise
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
thumb sized piece of fresh ginger cut small
In a saucepan place all ingredients and bring to a boil while stirring. Once comes up to boil pop the lid on, turn off the heat and leave to infuse for a couple of hours till cooled. Once cooled strain (double strain to get the clearest cordial), then mix with 2 cups of the elderberry gin. Put in pretty bottles and store in a cool dark place. It will last at least a year but put in fridge if you want it to last longer. see strait up over ice. Yum
Today is Valentines day and also my most wonderful mothers birthday. A beautiful day for love of all kinds and a reminder to celebrate and appreciate all the different types of love on all of the days.
Although made from traditional aphrodisiac herbs these truffles do not just have to be shared with a partner. These hit on all levels of love that I would happily share with my mum and family during birthday celebrations. Although the word aphrodisiac originates from Aphrodite , the greek goodness of love, beauty, desire and fertility, herbal aphrodisiacs are not always only attributed to sexual love. They also offer an opening of the heart, relaxation of the mind and body, increased awareness of the senses and an ability to see beauty in the everyday. What a wonderful tool to have in our kitchen medicine chest.
These truffles start with a base of chocolate, one of the foods most associated with love. Chocolate actually contains chemicals that mimic those released when falling in love as well as ones that help stimulate sexual arousal. wow.
Damiana, arguably one of the most well known and most studied western herbal aphrodisiacs, has traditionally been used to increase sexual desire, performance and increase positive mood and feelings of wellbeing. Look it up…
Tulsi, or holy basil is considered an adaptogen which can help your body deal with stress and the adverse effects of stress. Stress effects us in many ways both physically and emotionally and can play a hugely negative role in how we go about our relationships. Adaptogenic herbs like Tulsi can help regulate stress hormones giving us more room to be open to experience loving relationship and feelings of joy and happiness.
Roses are a symbol of love across many cultures , and quite rightly too. Although not an aphrodisiac in the traditional sense, the scent of a rose can calm and over active mind, reduce stress and enhance feelings of wellbeing.
Hawthorn - one of my favourite herbs has a special affinity for the heart. Physically it is thought to increase coronary blood flow and may regulate blood pressure and is particularly beneficial to those with a nervous heart. On and emotional level, hawthorn is thought to give courage to a wounded heart and open it up to giving and receiving of love.
These herb infused truffles are VERY medicinal , one or two will do. Best made the day before these will keep for months in the freezer for a little love any and every day.
And actually! Infusing chocolate with herbs is a very effective method of home medicine making. Use what ever herbs you like, the actions will change but regardless, chocolate is most definitely medicine.
Damiana, Tulsi, Rose + Hawthorn Infused Love Truffles
400ml coconut cream
200g dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 Tbsp dried damiana leaf
1 Tbsp dried rose petals (or fresh petals of 2 blooms)
1 Tbsp dried Tulsi leaf
1 Tbsp crushed dried hawthorn berries (if you have fresh use 1Tbsp leaves + 1 Tbsp berries)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
200g dark chocolate
crushed dried rose petals
flakey sea salt
Pace all herbs, vanilla, cayenne, salt + coconut cream in a heavy bottomed pan and slowly heat until just below boiling. Turn off the heat, pop lid on and leave to infuse for 15 minutes.
Once infused, strain herbs through fine sieve or cheesecloth and squeeze as much of the coconut cream out as possible. Place back on the the stove and heat again until just below a simmer.
Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl and pour hot coconut cream over the top. Leave for 30 seconds before stirring until smooth and velvety. I also put a dropper full of my homemade damiana + hawthorn tincture at this stage for extra potency - you could add a little brandy or other infused spirit if you like.
Place in fridge at least 4 hours till set. Once set take a tablespoons of the mixture and roll into balls. Pop on a plate and put in the freezer until frozen.
When ready to coat, gently melt chocolate in a double boiler. Coat frozen truffles in the chocolate, place on grease proof paper and quickly decorate with crushed rose petals and a pinch of sea salt.
Done! chocolate will set almost immediately on frozen truffles so place in fridge until ready to serve or pop in the freezer to grab when ever the mood strikes/whenever you want to get in the mood.
Happy love day to all, happy love everyday to all and Happy Birthday to my beautiful Mumma!
So many courgettes! In winter I pine for them, in summer I forget what to do with them. I’m sure gardeners all over New Zealand are having the same (happy)problem right now. Luckily though, courgettes are extremely versatile and suit many savoury as well as sweet dishes. Nutritionally courgettes contain pretty good levels of vitamin C - around 1/3 of the recommended daily intake in 100g (about 1 courgette) as well as decent levels of potassium which can assist in regulating blood pressure and may help to prevent stroke. Mostly water (around 90%) courgette is particularly hydrating and, if low-cal floats your boat they contain only 17-20 calories per 100g, meaning you can load up your plate with zucchini noodles and take advantage of their nutritional benefits.
Challenge: eat 3 a day while they are at their peak to up your vitamin C in prep for the colder months ahead.
My favourite ways to use courgette are grilled with a good cold-pressed olive oil, lemon and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, zucchini 'noodle' salad with herby pesto and avocado or blended up with frozen banana, cacao and a fresh date for a delicious vegan ice-cream.
Try this salad!
Using a potato peeler or mandolin to thinly slice the courgette makes them feel a little more substantial and filling to me and the tend to wilt down less when an acidic dressing is added. And this dressing! Tahini is the best, just the best. Also the fat from the tahini and good amount of black pepper in this help our body receive the greatest benefits from the anti-inflammatory and liver supporting active constituent Curcumin in the turmeric.
Summer Courgette Slaw with Tahini Turmeric Dressing + Plant Bacon
Serves 4 as a main meal with bread and hummus
1/4 red cabbage
1 large cucumber
1/2 head of iceberg lettuce
juice 1/2 lemon
toasted sesame seeds
Plant Bacon 60g
1/3 cup tahini
juice 1/2 lemon
juice 1/2 orange
1 tsp ground turmeric (or more)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp nutritional yeast
1 small clove garlic, minced
Roughly tear iceberg and place on serving platter. Thinly slice (thin as possible!) courgette, red cabbage and cucumber with veggie peeler, mandolin or sharp knife into a bowl, squeeze over lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and give a light mix before placing over lettuce.
To make dressing place tahini in a bowl and loosen with lemon and orange juice. At first it will seize up but keep stirring and adding liquid, it will loosen then start thickening up again and become very creamy and white. Add enough water to get to desired consistency. Add turmeric, black pepper, nooch, garlic and salt.
Pour the dressing over the salad…all of it! and top with toasted sesame and plant bacon. I put rose petals on mine cuz ... plant nerd.
Any other weird and wonderful ways to use up this most amazing courgette glut?
Resisting the urge to make a joke about blue balls right now……
OK. Bounty bars used to be my all time favourite supermarket shop check out treat. Followed close second by cherry ripe…(which lucky for me there were always about ten thousand left at the bottom of a box of favourites...why why why?). Its the coconut. Love love love coconut AND its actually really easy to recreate the classic bounty while opting for some slightly healthier ingredients, keeping it vegan and incorporating some botanicals. These vegan bounty bars are amazing, absolutely a treat BUT they keep in the freezer for ages so one batch could last a few weeks. The pixie dust can also be subbed out for any freeze dried fruit powders so you can change up the flavour as you please. Really so yummy.
Speaking of botanicals, Butterfly Pea Flower has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine as (among other things) a cognitive enhancer and memory tonic. While some small scale studies have shown promise in this area, not enough trials exist to be conclusive SO as the ever curious herbalist I’m experimenting on myself, putting this into anything and everything I can think of to see if I can become smarter or remember to grab my keys before I walk out the door. And living off blue cupcakes, blue cookies and blue cocktails 100% helps too…..
Watch this space.
Blue Vegan Bounty Bars with Butterfly Pea Powder
2 cups desiccated coconut
5 Tbsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp coconut cream (use the top part of the can that has separated from the coconut water)
1/2 tsp Pixie Dust powder/butterfly pea powder mixed with 1tsp boiling water
1/2 tp vanilla bean paste or extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
200g vegan dark chocolate
2 tsp coconut oil
Place everything apart from chocolate coating ingredients in a large bowl and stir until it all comes together (can also be done in a processor but pulse so you don’t break down the coconut to much). Taste and add more maple syrup if necessary.
Pick up tablespoons of mixture and squeeze together to form truffle shapes OR press into a lined bead tin if you want to make the classic bar shape. Place in freezer til frozen.
Once frozen make the chocolate coating by placing chocolate pieces on top of double boiler with coconut oil. Stir occasionally until melted. Bring bounty bars out of the freezer (if in bread tin turn out and cut into bars first) and roll in chocolate, letting excess drip off. I triple coated mine so popped them back in the freezer to set between coatings.
Coffee as an act of self love. And shrooms...
I love coffee. Love it. Its not just the taste , or the physical effect it has but also the ritual and routine it brings to the morning. It’s the treat to get out of bed, the excuse to all the animals, all the little people and all the big people that I can be an uncommunicable zombie for just a few more minutes before I have to jump into action. I enjoy how everyone respects to leave me be (mostly) until I can sit down and have that first blessed sip. Its my own defiant act of self love, self care and deep nourishment. However , sometimes …and more and more often as I get older the beloved coffee don't love me. When I’m feeling particularly sensitive, have hormonal things goin’ on or have had a particularly heady previous day of thinking, finances, research or computer work it can leave me feeling jittery, strung out and not completely in control of the goings on in my brain. I find though, that the tonic like qualities of Reishi can lessen these jitters and bring them away from my head and into my body leading to a much much much more constructive brew.
And so this little gem, that started out as an ‘oh fuck we have no almond milk’ kinda scenario has become part of the beautiful chaos of our morning ritual and it is one that I think, will stay.
Reishi + Coffee Bullet Proof Latte
This tonic like pick me up is great for those foggy mornings when I’ve run out of milk and feel like something sweet, frothy and nourishing knowing that a straight up black just wont cut it. Boosted with immune and nervous system supporting Reishi mushroom, this is on a whole different level to your standard milk and two. I find with the mineral rich dates, the creaminess of the coconut oil and the thickness the blended nuts bring, this coffee has enough substance that I can keep up with the busy morning routine until there is time for a proper breakfast. This recipe calls for soaked cashews but lets face it, remembering to soak 2 tbsp of nuts before bed is highly unlikely (especially if you cant remember that you’ve run out of milk). Luckily it seems to work fine grabbing a handful of unsoaked, raw nuts (i use any nuts I have on hand) and a high speed blender. - give it a go!
400ml strong hot coffee (I use stove top espresso)
1/2-1tsp Reishi mushroom powder (start with less, build to more)
2 Tbsp cashew nuts (soaked 3-8 hours)
1-2 fresh dates, pitted
2-3 tsp virgin coconut oil
few drops of vanilla extract (optional)
While your coffee is brewing place all ingredients in a heat tolerant blender. As soon as coffee is brewed place in blender, pop the lid on and blend for about a minute until its thick, creamy and frothy.
If you have run out of milk AND cashews or do not have a high speed blender, substitute with a heaped tablespoon of tahini, almond, or cashew butter. If that sounds way too weird for you, leave the nuts out completely, you’ll still get a creamy frothy bevvie with the coconut oil only.
If your blender can not take the heat blend all ingredients except the coffee separately until completely smooth. Pour freshly brewed coffee into your cup and add the milky mushroom mix on top.
ALSO! we are on the look out for beautiful pottery mugs, cups and drinking vessels for our shop - if you or anyone else you know can help please get in touch :)
AND! Keep an eye out for a new product coming soon from the BK Kitchen to make this new morning ritual even easier.
I’m so into natural food dyes at the moment - when you look into the process of what goes into artificial and synthetic colours it can get pretty scary, especially when we see so many of them in products for children (some dyes are not plant-based and some are derived from ingredients you’d definitely not consume knowingly see here). Bold and vibrant colours in food however ARE fun, loads of fun and can definitely make certain dishes more appealing to children. Luckily there are a number of natural dyes that we can utilise in our own kitchen and a lot of these, rather than confusing our bodies with ‘non-foods’ can have some positive functional benefits.
Play around with turmeric for yellow, beet powder or strong hibiscus tea for red and pink, spirulina or greens powders for green and activated charcoal for black. Until recently I didn't know of any natural edible colouring for blue. At culinary school we were told “there is no such thing as blue food” and this is the reason for bright blue coloured plasters in hospitality. WELL. It turns out there is such a thing...Pixie Dust!
This butterfly pea powder does an amazing job of naturally colouring the icing on these cupcakes a beautiful vibrantly hued blue. Add a little acid (like lemon or lime juice) if you’d like it more lavender. You can even use a thin paint brush to swirl lemon juice on top to create that galaxy like swirl of blue and purple.
This cup cake recipe is great to have on hand and is easy enough to memorise for emergencies. Often there will be 6 (sometimes more!) children running in and out of our house and all that running means they are always hungry. This uses pantry staples (apart from the blue powder.....), is affordable and ready in less than 30mins. Making the blue icing and decorating with flowers is fun for the kids and 2 bowl clean up is all good with me. Freeze excess and pop in lunch box they thaw just in time for morning tea. While not refined sugar free - these are a fun away for plant based kiddies and adults to join in at cake time and share the yum with family and friends.
Vegan Pixie Dust Cupcakes
These one bowl cup cakes take less than 5 minutes to prep and make at least 20. Freeze 10 either iced or un-iced to take out as needed.
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 cups almond milk (or other plant milk)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp applecider
In a large bowl add first 3 ingredients and stir. Make a well in the centre, add remaining ingredients and slowly incorporate dry ingredients in until a smooth batter is formed. don't over mix or the cakes will be tough when cooked. Spoon into 20 pre-lined muffin pans and bake 15-20 mins until springy and a toothpick comes out clean.
Pixie Dust Icing
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/4-1/2 tsp butterfly pea powder dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
few drops of peppermint, coconut or vanilla extract (optional)
Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth and comes together to form a thick icing - add more hot water drop by drop until the desired consistency is reached. Wait till cupcakes are completely cooled before spreading icing (a knife dipped in boiling water then quickly dried helps) and topping with flowers.
You can get the blue butterfly pixie dust here (this amount will make thousands of cupcakes but can be used in so many ways), or try some of the other natural dyes suggested for a fun and much more natural alternative to artificial food colouring.
Ah Christmas! My absolute favourite and most restful time of year…in my intentions at least. Childhood memories of the endless days before Christmas, listening to carols and making popcorn chains, the whole house decorated and countless pre-Christmas parties with food food everywhere now seem slightly skewed. Back then Mariah’s Christmas was totally acceptable day time listening in the last week of October. Its different when you're a grown up . The day sneaks up and the popcorn chains get missed, the parties don't happen and last minute internet orders don't turn up. I used to save money all year for Christmas and have gifts ordered and delivered well before November. This year beginning a new business and prepping for a big move my poor family will be lucky if they end up with a home-made packet of bikkies, a foraged bunch of flowers and some product samples. I’m bad. Every year i say ‘next year i’ll be more organised, next year i’ll have fake snow on the windows, next year I’ll be relaxed and present and zen and clean in the kitchen and party ready and have great conversation pieces prepared. Its December in one more sleep and Mariah hasn’t been pulled out once (actually though - to our credit we HAVE had the christmas lights up all year and N managed to re-wire our outdoor twinklies after they got chewed by the cat). Somehow this is always the busiest time and when we are all in such a mad rush, food can become the healing ointment that brings everyone together and, for one moment, just be.
So this year I’m determined to start Christmas early. So early in fact that in this last week of November the Christmas decorations are coming out, the Christmas tree is coming in and the Christmas craft table is going to be permanently set. From today Pomegranate is going to feature in every meal, kids shows are being replaced with cringey 80’s Christmas movies (check out Santa with Muscles…sheesh!) and Mariah … blessed Mariah will be played very loud and on repeat for all the merry days of Christmas.
Mushroom,Tofu + Cranberry Larb with Reishi Mushroom + Walnuts
This is so delicious and keeps in the fridge, well covered for at least 5 days. You won’t get any grief from your nearest and dearest for serving this completely vegan party snack. Deeply umami, this is best served room temperature and sprinkled on salads, on top of pizza, in sandwiches or wraps or try it this way as a festive finger food option. This recipe seems a little complicated but once you get the hang of it its easy to whip up and have waiting in the fridge over the holiday season.
Make two batches. Its pretty good.
50g dried mushroom mix
200g mushrooms, cut into small dice
200g tofu (or tempeh) cut into small dice
1 can black beans, drained and coarsely crushed (leave some whole)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp miso paste
1 tbsp soy tamari
couple of drops of liquid smoke (optional)
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp corn starch
1tbsp reishi mushroom powder*
1/3 C dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
salt + pepper to taste
coconut oil or other high-heat cooking oil
Iceberg or cos lettuce cups
In a blender or food processor blitz dried mushrooms till a course powder. Place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Give them a bit of a stir and let sit 30 minutes to re-hydrate. Check on it and top up with more boiling water if needed. .
Heat about 1 tbsp oil in a heavy bottom pan on a med/high heat and when hot add mushrooms cooking till browned and starting to get crisp around 10 minutes. Add tofu and cook another 5 minutes. don't worry if the tofu breaks down but some whole pieces are good in here for texture.
Add the re-hydrated mushrooms, miso, soy sauce, liquid smoke and garlic and cook till liquid reduced.
Add crushed beans, and rice vinegar and stir and cook another 5 or so minutes to reduce any liquid. You want this to be as dry as possible
Taste for seasoning. You want this to be salty. Add more tamari or salt if needed.
Turn off the heat add reishi powder, walnuts and cranberries and allow the mixture to cool.
Heat oven to 190C and put 2 tbsp coconut oil in a large oven dish back into the oven to heat up.
Once mushroom mix is cool stir through corn starch and add to the hot oil in oven tray.
Cook for 20-30 minutes checking and stirring every 5 minutes or so till brown and crispy. Remove from oven and sit 5 minutes to crisp up a little more.
This can be eaten straight away or left to cool and put in a jar in the fridge for around 5 days ready to sprinkle on anything and everything.
Wash and dry your lettuce cups and add a spoon of hummus, some sauerkraut, the crumbly larb, and decorate with radish, pomegranate seeds and flowers.
*Reishi powder will be available up on the BK shop soon soon soon
Moving towards a plant based diet has been a yearned for but steadily slow process over the years for me. While cooking meals both as a chef and at home have most often centered around vegetables, apart from a few years of being a relatively un-healthy vegetarian in my late teens and early twenties (more on that later), I had adopted more of a 'flexitarian' model of eating in the past. While I ate animal products here and there I have always been deeply in love with plants and always looked to plant based families with quiet envy.
When I met my partner I delighted in incorporating as many vegetables as possible into feasts and taking the focus away from the meat when we cooked together - it felt like a dream . Despite being a devoted animal lover he had been advised by his doctor to avoid eating too many vegetables and instead eat bland, low fibre, high animal protein foods (again, more on that later!). This was a whole new world for him and we loved it! So much so that we decided to challenge ourselves to 12 months of vegetarianism. What stared as a temporary challenge, very quickly we both knew within our selves that this was becoming more and more a part of the way we wanted to live. It was a forever thing. We did not watch the traumatising Netflix documentaries, we did not get into heated discussions with our friends and family who mourned our dietary loss.We mourned it too. We just wanted to be kind. Kind to animals, kind to the environment and kind to ourselves.
As most new vegetarians know cutting out meat meant we needed to replace it with something. More often than not, for us it was DESSERTS! When going to a restaurant in New Zealand vegetarian options mostly consist of option A: Fries and option B: Dessert and there are only so many fries one person can eat. Oh the cakes. Oh the ice cream. Oh the creme brûlées and cheese platters. It was like my birthday every day.
This too did not take very long to change.
The more we thought about it and the further along we got in our plant-based journey the more it felt right to choose to cross all animal products off our shopping list.
This was hard both physically and emotionally and I found it especially difficult. I felt that cheese and cream and butter was almost part of my personality, they had held so much value in my life.
Dairy represented much more than just the act of consuming it. It wasn't necessarily the taste but the situations and occasions it was consumed in. Cream was so significant in my family that people were shocked if we did not turn up to a gathering with a big platter of cream puffs or had any less than 500ml of cream in the fridge at any given time. A glass of wine and plate of cheese at 5pm on Fridays has been an institution in my family for years - a way for the aunties and uncles, cousins and grandmas workmates and friends to come together, re-connect and all take stock of our busy weeks. Whether we are physically together or not we can count on the rest of our crew being somewhere, doing the same thing and thinking of each other. Cheese is a big part this. It really did feel like I was turning my back on family traditions , values and the family culture we have created. I love my family and I love our customs so was not a step I took without intense thought.
So dessert, baking and sweets in their traditional form were out! Not a bad thing but when you have little people in your house it can be quite a challenge to keep your home within your values whilst acknowledging you do not want anyone missing out on things that are a 'essential' part of childhood.
But this is the fun part! The opportunity for creativity and innovation that comes with plant-based cooking can be very exciting and its one of my favourite parts of my work. There are disasters..many disasters and as a self confessed 'bit of this, bit of that' experimental chef it takes more tries to get something right than it used to. I've always thought it complete BS that baking is a science and you need to be precise and meticulous but with plant based baking it certainly helps to write measurements down if you want to replicate it the next time.
So here is my quick and extremely easy no-fail (yet!), no refined sugar, no strange ingredient, vegan school lunch box cake that keeps on the bench from Monday till Friday without drying out AND means no missing out for the little people.
Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake
Penelope (BDes(hons), BCA, ND, Dip. Med Herb) is a trained chef, medical herbalist, naturopath and holistic nutritionist and has recently completed her design thesis which focused primarily on methods of incorporating plants, medicine and feelings of joy into culinary products and experiences.