Vegan MoFo Day XIV : Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (with instructions for non-food processor people)

Chocolate Hazelnut spread on Pumpkin Spice Hazelnut Scones

I’m going to come right out and say that I’m not a big fan of chocolate spreads in general as I tend to find them too rich.  That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t indulge every once in a while.  This is also not an everyday food by any means, and if you do like your chocolate spread every day, please go and find yourself a healthier version.  Ok?  Thanks.

Did you make your ganache?  Have you roasted your hazelnuts?  If you made the Peanut Butter Cup Cookies you probably had ganache left (unless you ate it all!).  This spread was born out of a new way to use my left-over ganache besides making truffles.  I like truffles, but seeing all those fresh-roasted hazelnuts got me thinking about that famous Italian spread and voila.  If you’ve already got roasted hazelnuts and some left-over ganache, this will take you 5 minutes, maybe less.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

160g/1 generous cup roasted hazelnuts (or any nut, really)

100g/3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp ganache

15 to 30ml/1 to 2 tbsp vegetable oil

If your ganache is in the fridge, you’ll need to warm it up either in the microwave or in a double boiler.  While you’re doing that put your hazelnuts in your food processor with an S blade and grind them up as much as you would like.  Personally, I like a little crunch so I left them closer to a coarse meal than powder.  Add some of the oil to help things along, and add more if necessary (this will depend on the oil-content of your nuts).

like so

Now, fold this into the chocolate ganache.  In a sterilised, air-tight jar this will last a few weeks in the cupboard.  In an air-tight container in the fridge it’ll last even longer.  It hardens up when it’s cold, but a warms-up just beautifully.

But wait!  I don’t have a food processor!  (Or I’m lazy and don’t want to roast nuts and wash my food processor). No panic.  Just use your favourite nut butter (hazelnut?).   You can add the same amount of nut butter to the ganache when you’re warming it up, just stir well.  Done!  Wasn’t that easy?

This obviously lends itself to many add-ins and subs, so play with it!  Pistachios are a personal favourite, but don’t let me influence you.

Vegan MoFo Day VIII : Giveaways, an Interview, & things to come!

Edited to add : I have no idea what is happening with my blog – evidently Reader somehow snagged a group of old posts from 2 years ago.  This is the real MoFo Post!

Erm…who else still has their Halloween decorations up?  Please tell me I’m not the only one.

So is this year’s Vegan MoFo amazing or what?  We’ve got over 700 bloggers playing the MoFo game – amazing stuff, kids.  It’s got me feeling inspired, I tell you!  Inspired and excited.  And generous!  I bet that got your attention, eh?

Because Vegan MoFo is about vegan food, and food is all about tasting, I’m going to be doing a few Frenchy product reviews, and I’ll be giving a way a few (little) products for you kids at home to try.  Sound good?  Well then, just tune in the next three Fridays : November 12th, 19th and 26th for your chance to win a little somthin’ somethin’ – even if you live in the U.S.! Or Australia! Or Japan!  World-wide love, kids, that’s what the Shellyfish is all about.

And speaking of inspiration, how about an interview with a new vegan?  I’m very excited about it, and I can’t wait to share it with you!  I know many of you are “pre-gans” and are “vegan-curious”, but are afraid of giving up your cheese.  It’s never too late to go vegan!  Stay tuned!

There will also be more recipes coming your way : peanut butter cup cookies, Hazelnut Chocolate Spread (like Nutella, but vegan and way better), Cassoulet avec vegan saucisess de Toulouse, perogies, Mihl’s birthday cake, and who knows what else?  Not me!

Because I cannot do a MoFo post without some foodyness, I give you our Rainbow Warrior Zombie Cookies we made for Halloween.  They be pink, and they be proud.  And delicious.  They are of course a Halloween (and Vegan MoFo)  tradition!


Life is good in southwestern France.

Hello! I’ve really missed you all! Ok, maybe not you, unshaven random stranger reading this post at 3 a.m. in your pj’s, but the rest of you, yes! Thank you so much for all your sweet emails and Tweets – I loved knowing you were thinking of me, as I was thinking of you! You know it’s time to blog again when your mother (aka Mamma Fish) begins “poking” you about it! (She wasn’t the only one  – you know who you are!)

As most of you know, we’ve moved across the country to the bucolic southwest where the weather is just amazing, and the people are even more chalereux than the temperature! This would explain my not spending time blogging and my playing outside, n’est-ce pas?

Yummies from kind neighbour’s garden.

The weather is still gorgeous (30°s/80°s, sunshine) but it’ll be soon time for me to get the vegetable garden plot ready. We arrived too late in the season to really plant much, though I did get some yummy tomatoes in. And figs! And grapes!

Look at those grapes! Can you see the spider web? Special effects for Halloween! A few weeks ago I was dropping a few things in the composter when I noticed something growing in the hedges – Green Grapes!  After a bit of scooby-dooing I found loads of bunches, and decided to ask our neighbours if they knew why we had grapes growing through the thick, 2 meter-high shrubbery.

Turns out our home and garden are on what used to be acres of vineyards. Now, why the original owners decided to tear up all the vines is beyond me, but the desire to live despite all odds seems not to be simply relegated to the animal kingdom as these vines yielded over 2kg of grapes. Amazing.

Long story short, I am so happy to be here, and so very thankful for my little family. There’s lots of fun, exciting stuff coming soon – hey, like Halloween. You know I love Halloween! I hope you’re all great and I can’t wait to read about your adventures now that I’m back on the grid. Bisous!

Vegan Meal Plan Monday & the new garden!

Things are getting rather busy here at the Fish Household as our big move is fast approaching.  We will be leaving the Ile-de-France area and heading for the south-west in just a few short weeks, and that means so much planning and packing.  My computer time has been greatly reduced, but I want to try to get a few more posts in before it’s time to go. This is also probably one of my last weeks testing for Celine & Joni as the kitchen is slowly being packed into boxes…so this week is really dedicated to them!

Monday : Tarte à la tomate et à la moutarde (savory tomato and mustard pie) served with a big green salad.  This incredibly easy and quick recipe is a go-to solution when you need a quick dinner (or when your garden is just bursting with tomatoes).  Hoping I get the time to get the recipe up.

Tuesday : Patatas Bravas Frittata, a tester for Celine. Rather excited about this one.

Wednesday : Savory Cheesecake with quiche-like tendencies, also a tester.  Also served with a huge green salad.

Thursday : Hopefully left-overs, and also planning on baking some Scarborough Fair Buns (yes, a tester).

Friday : Crispy Pepperoni Bites, a mini-pizza-type of deal. I’ll be making this for the “lunch crew”, meaning Guppy and her friends as I have them every other Friday for lunch.

Saturday : Cheeseburger Deep-Dish Pie, also a tester.  I ‘m not sure if we’ll be able to wait until Saturday because this one just looks so good!

As I’ve mentioned at least a hundred times, I’m so excited about having a large yard (front and back) at our new house. I am going to be a gardening fool, planting everywhere and anywhere the sun will allow.  The new garden is rather shady, and I want to try to work with the trees that are there, though I know that in the long run some will need to be trimmed or cut.  It’s not just so that I can have a garden, but also because some of them are not at all native to the region and are very thirsty.

Here are a few shots of our new garden, not terribly clear as they were taking with Monsieur F’s phone on his trip down there earlier this month, but I’m so excited to share them with you!

Look! I have a green house! Picture little sprouts getting ready for the world…

One view…

This is to the left of the prior shot.

Yet again, to the left of the previous two.

I know it looks rather green, but it’s because Monsieur Fish took these right after a rainshower.  I haven’t got any of the side of the house, which is where I hope to put lots of veggies because it’s got sun exposure most of the day and is close to the outdoor water supply.

I’ve already found one or two good gardening/home gardner-type sites, but if you have any suggestions or favourites, do let me know! I’m so excited about growing my own food!

W.I.P. Wednesday : The Mad Hatter

It’s all about the hats, kids.

As I mentioned here I really want to try to make this adorable beehive bonnet, but that would require some circular knitting needles and I haven’t got any.  I’m sure they aren’t very expensive, but the only mercantile in town that sells them has been closed for the past two weeks for renovation! The frustration!

In the mean time, I was able to find a super-duper easy pattern in my beginner’s book I showed you here that comes together really quickly and just needs to be grafted/sewn together. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

So far I’ve only made these two : a tiny one I just sort of improvised hoping to make a small-enough one for my toddler niece, and a smaller but not too small version for a skull cap for Guppy.  I know I’ve been pretty lucky, because futzing with a pattern when you have no idea what you’re doing is probably not the greatest idea.  I’m still hoping to snag me a pair of circular needles, but this is fun for now.

And guess what I learned to do today? I’m purling! The excitement! The joy!

Do you have any new W.I.P.s in the works? We would love to see what you’re up to! Snap a shot of your  “in progress” masterpiece and add it to the  W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool. Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are working on.

Vegan Meal Plan Monday – Potato Madness

Thanks for all your great meal plan suggestions last week.  I’ve passed them along to my sister, and I’m sure that other readers were thankful, too!

I’m not sure why, but I almost never, ever make mashed potatoes.  I guess we don’t really do a lot of startches other than pasta, but this week is indeed an exception as Guppy has been practically begging for them of late.

My child really does beg for vegetables.  In public.  Sunday as we were slowly walking through the outdoor market she suddenly pulled me over to a stand of fresh broccoli and looked up at me, pleading, “Oh please Mumma please can’t we get some broccoli? Pleeeeeze?” The vendor was giggling all over himself as I purchased the coveted greens which Guppy carried around the market like a bouquet.

Since we’ll be making mashed potatoes you can bet your boots I’ll be making a lot of them, because mashed potatoes means potato bread, and also the Samosa Quesdadillas  that  Trina posted not too long ago.  Potato madness kids, watch out – it’s catching!

Monday : Chickpea patties with steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes, and for dessert left-over rhubarb crisp.

Tuesday : Your Vegan Mom’s Samosa Quesadilla and for dessert, Vegan Rhubarb Cake based on one of my Great Grandmother Mary’s recipes. If it works out I promise I’ll share.  I’m so excited about the rhubarb!

Wednesday : Pups in a blanket inspired by Vegan Lunch Box, with saucisses by Celine. I’ll also be making cupcakes, but I still haven’t decided which ones.  Aparna and I were Tweeting the other day and decided to make cupcakes together. But apart. You know, since she’s in India and I’m in France and all. I need some inspiration…any suggestions? They will be for Guppy and friends (and me, duh).

Thursday : Hummous & Friends In A Bowl. This Celine and Joni test recipe was on the plan last week, but I didn’t get to make it.

PB&J Muffins, so amazing good, test recipe for Celine & Joni.

Friday : Eggplant Parmigiana, another test recipe, and Potato Rosemary Bread from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. This is another one of those wonderful breads made accessible by master baker Peter Reinhart.

Looking for more Vegan Meal Plan inspiration? Go visit Your Vegan Mom and for GF vegan goodness visit In My Box. Please share you links if you post a Vegan Meal Plan so I can add you, too!

Vegan Rhubarb Crisp (with GF option) & My Rockwell-esque neighbourhood.

As a young child I was very lucky to live in an almost Norman Rockwell-esque neighbourhood.  Everyone knew everyone else, and folks did chat with one another while hanging their laundry on the line.  The neighbourhood was composed of almost exclusively blue and white-collar families, and most everyone had a picnic table, plastic kiddie pool and a swing set.  Indeed,  everyone seemed to either have young children tearing down the gravel alley on their bicycle, or older kids who would obligingly babysit the little ones for pocket-money.

Growing up, just about everyone in that neighbourhood had rhubarb growing in their gardens.  Even families who didn’t have a proper vegetable garden seemed to have a bushy showing of rhubarb in the corner of their yard.  Since fresh fruit seems to be the siren song all children heed, these acidulate stalks weren’t safe for long as our little group of “neighbourhood kids” always seemed to find our way into everyone’s yard, obeying an almost primal instinct to “help ourselves”, whether we’d been invited or not.

With the exception of an elderly neighbour or two who weren’t particularly keen on having a motley crew of 7 or 8 kids stomping their tulips or mussing their lawns, most families didn’t seem to mind our hostile take-overs, and in fact most of the time an adult would open the screen-door to turn on the garden hose to rinse off the fruit, armed with a tiny Tupperware container filled with sugar.

Sugar? Why yes, for dipping of course!

This was pretty much the only way I’d eaten rhubarb, raw and dipped in a little sugar, until I reached my teens when rhubarb cake and crisp made  it into the family’s dessert repertoire.  We’d since left that special neighbourhood in search of home to house our ever-expanding family, and with that came a much bigger back yard complete with a large vegetable garden and, you guessed it, a whole mess of rhubarb! All that fruit meant that simple munching on stalks wouldn’t be enough.

Crisps have always seemed so magical to me because of the elegant simplicity.  With just a few ingredients and mere moments of preparation you have a delightful, seasonal treat.  This basic recipe would make Mister Rogers proud with its whole wheat flour and reduced sugar, but it’s pretty lovely.  The aroma of the freshly sliced rhubarb brought all those memories back for me, so I’ll share a bit of crisp with you!

Vegan Rhubarb Crisp

Most any crisp recipe can easily be made vegan. Simply replace the butter with non-dairy butter.  Make this crisps gluten-free by using barley or oat flour (be sure to check that your oats and oat flour are GF).

For the filling :

  • 500g or 5 cups sliced rhubarb
  • 55g or 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Combine everything in a large bowl, stirring well to coat.  Set aside.

For the crisp :

  • 60g or 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 95g or 1 cup whole oats
  • 55g or 1/2 sucanat
  • 110g or 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Combine everything in a bowl, using your fingers until it resembles wet sand.  Pour the fruit mixture into a shallow baking dish, then sprinkle the crisp topping to evenly cover.  Bake at 175c or 350f for about 30 minutes (more depending on how thickly the rhubarb has been sliced).  Let cool completely and serve with vegan ice cream or whipped cream.

Vegan Meal Plan Time

This lovely sunset photo has nothing to do with anything, really. I just hate blogging without pictures.

I went sans Meal Plan last week and I must admit, it was a bit of a pain.  I found myself not knowing what to make and trying to come up with last-minute solutions in a pinch.  Though I’m still trying to get into the blogging groove (ie: finding the time), it might take me a while, but I hope to get some of these recipes* posted.  I may not be consistent, but here is this week’s meal plan:

Monday : Easiest Tabouli*, Grated Carrot salad and garlicy hoummous with baguette.

Tuesday : Quinoa-stuffed tomatoes*, Chocolate-Hearted Yeasted Muffins (a test recipe for Celine & Joni’s new project).

Wednesday : Patatas Bravas Gratin (also for Celine & Joni).

Thursday : Left-overs.

Friday : Homemade Pizza Night!

Weekend Baking  & Brunching : Coconut Baked Oatmeal (Celine & Joni) and maybe some waffles? Who knows…wait and see…

Sexism In Animal Rights

I’d been considering writing a fabulous “I’m back!” post, easing myself gently into the blogging world once more. However, after viewing the following, a joint statement written & signed by a group of Abolitionist Feminists for International Women’s Day, I decided it was time to dust off the blog.

Sexism In Animal Rights : An Abolitionist Vegan Perspective

This statement articulates beautifully what I feel to be one of the most frustrating arguments used by many Animal Welfare activists. I believe that the exploitation of some in the name of freedom for others is an illogical and dangerous argument. Visit the NZ Vegan Podcast Blog for links to the written text & the blogs of the statement’s authors.