Kale, Walnut and Mushroom Orecchiette

August 30, 2016

Kale, Walnut and Mushroom Orecchiette | A simple pasta for busy weeknights! Vegan, easy, delicious

This has to be our favourite weeknight meal of the moment! A delicious orecchiette pasta tossed with kale, mushrooms and walnuts, and flavoured with lots of garlic and lemon. Kirk even insisted to me last night that it is his favourite pasta… Though I’m pretty sure he said that last time I posted a pasta recipe. Either way, this fella loves pasta, so it’s high praise either way!

What makes a meal weeknight-friendly? Obviously everyone has a different prerequisite as to what they need in terms of midweek cooking – I need it to be done in under 40min, and not require more than 1 – 2 pans. Obviously the quicker the better, and extra brownie points to recipes that leave lunch box suitable leftovers for Kirk to take to work (this is one of them!).

Apart from batch cooking on the weekend (which I definitely partake in), there are a couple of tricks for evening meals I’ve learnt over the years. I’ve said this pasta is on the table in 35 min, but to be honest that is a generous estimate, due to the following…

One of my tricks for speedy pasta is to boil the water in an electric kettle first, before filling the saucepan. It is amazing how much quicker a kettle can boil water than on the stove, and it definitely gets food on the table quicker. You can even do this before you start cooking, or get a family member to do it for you. I also use this trick when making soups (boiled water and stock cube/paste, instead of cold stock). It can cut 10 min off your recipe’s cooking time.

Another trick for cooking quickly is to utilise idle time: unless I’m cooking a stirfry (in which case I would prepare/cut up most components first), I almost always cut up veg as I’m cooking. In this particular recipe I would boil the kettle, cut the mushrooms and put them on to cook, before putting on the pasta and cutting up the onion, garlic and walnuts. I’d then cut up the kale whilst the onions cooked. These types of recipes don’t require constant stirring due to their being cooked at a lower temperature (than a stirfry), so it’s a really easy way to save time during the week.

Finally, I choose ingredients for midweek recipes that don’t take much time to prepare or cook – leafy greens and herbs are a mainstay in our house, as well as pre-cooked beans, onions and garlic (always!), tinned tomatoes and easy to chop veg like broccoli or zucchini. I generally leave root veg and pumpkin for weekend cooking, unless it’s soup (which doesn’t require much standing over and therefore I don’t mind a bit of chopping time).

Hope these tips are helpful to you. I would love to know what ways you cut down on cooking time during the week! Let me know in the comments before :)

Kale, Walnut and Mushroom Orecchiette | A simple pasta for busy weeknights! Vegan, easy, delicious

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White Winter Chowder with Roasted Cauliflower

August 23, 2016

White Winter Chowder with Roasted Cauliflower | A creamy potato and cabbage soup with loads of lemon and mustard flavour! Easy, vegan and gluten free

I feel a little silly posting a recipe with “winter” in the title, when there is only a week (officially) left of winter to go for the year, but this recipe I’ve made a handful of times over the past few months and I didn’t want to miss out on sharing it! I don’t tend to eat soups for six months of the year (say, roughly, Oct – March), but I feel this year I have certainly posted my fair share of autumn and winter soup recipes! Possibly a light and brothy soup recipe might appear in spring, but for the most part, thick, rich and creamy soups will be making way for lighter fare, but until then…

I first made this soup a few months ago after green cabbage kept appearing weekly in my seasonal veggie box. As this glut of cabbage started to stockpile, I realised how completely unprepared I was… Where were all the cabbage recipes in my repertoire? I did my best though: made some okonomiyaki, slaw, stirfries, and then when yet another cabbage showed up on my doorstep I began feeling a little overwhelmed. When my friend (Phillipa again!) suggested I cook a cabbage and potato soup, blend it up and top it with parsley, I thought “why not”?

The idea of cabbage soup had only existed in my mind as a crazy diet food, but I would be willing to give it a shot if it meant being a little closer to beating the cabbage influx. I went home that night and I remembered this recipe by the wonderful Laura Wright that had appeared in my Pinterest last summer (when it’s winter up north). Inspired by her liberal use of mustard, lemon and nutritional yeast, I made a zippy little number that is both creamy (in a chowder-inspired way, due to the addition of white beans) and zesty enough to brighten up your winter blues.

Don’t despair: this is not cabbage soup as diet food (I would never do that to you!), and nor is it overly sulferous in an depressingly-over-cooked-cabbage kind of way. The cabbage retains its sweetness due to its very short cooking time, and the result is a great base to showcase all the lemon and mustard goodness. Thankfully it’s no longer the height of cabbage season, but luckily they’re still around to make this soup. x

White Winter Chowder with Roasted Cauliflower | A creamy potato and cabbage soup with loads of lemon and mustard flavour! Easy, vegan and gluten free

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Chili Con Tempeh with Lime Creme

August 16, 2016

Chili Con Tempeh with Lime Creme - Your new go-to vegan chili recipe! Perfectly spicy, comfortable filling, with an easy lime cashew cream! Gluten free and weeknight friendly.
A few months ago, my long time friend and colleague Phillipa described to me this delicious variation on vegetarian chili that her partner Jona regularly makes her. I filed it away in the “next time I make chili basket” and promptly forgot about it. She mentioned it again a few weeks ago and this time, in order not to forgot its genius, I asked her for the recipe. She texted me through a photo of a well-used photocopy. It originally came out of a book, but had obviously been used via photocopy for quite some time. For this reason I’m not sure which cookbook the recipe came from, but to be honest I’m not too concerned because the following recipe barely resembles it (!) – I used it more as an inspiration/jumping off point to make this delicious little number. I’ve made this weekly for the past month, tweaking it each time, and I am finally ready to share it with you!

It has to be my favourite chili to date – spicy and a little smokey, substantial yet comfortably filling. I like it best with a bowl of rice, a little coriander and the lime creme I’ve included the recipe for below, but the creme is by no means imperative if you can’t be bothered – it is great as is! That said, some avocado or a little zesty cabbage salad would be most welcome, as would serving it with tortillas or corn bread.

I’m a bit of a chilli wuss and this is on the spicy side for me, but you might like to add a little extra cayenne (to taste) at the end if you like it hot. I’m super excited about sharing this recipe with you today (after the weeks of testing), and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! X

(Thanks Phillipa and Jona for generously sharing the chili love! X)
Chili Con Tempeh with Lime Creme - Your new go-to vegan chili recipe! Perfectly spicy, comfortable filling, with an easy lime cashew cream! Gluten free and weeknight friendly.
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Roasted Cauliflower and Potato Salad with Lemon and Dill

August 1, 2016

Roasted Cauliflower and Potato Salad with Lemon and Dill | An easy side salad that's bright and zesty - vegan, paleo, vegetarian

I made this warm salad one night when I was cooking a baked tomato and bean dish and wanted a side of roast potatoes, but was too lazy to also cook an additional side of greens (a meal isn’t complete without a few greens)! So I roasted the potatoes with some cauliflower and tossed them all with dill, kale and plenty of lemon juice. Laziness aside, it’s now turned out to be one of my favourite accompaniments to wintery baked dishes. The cauliflower is sweet and nutty, the potatoes creamy, and they both shine in a punchy dressing. I imagine it’d also be welcome alongside a potluck or picnic.

I think lemon and dill has to be one of my favourite flavour combinations… I’ve spoken about it previously in this particularly popular recipe, and it shows up in a number of my recipes on this blog. There is just something so morish about this zesty and herbaceous combination! I won’t pretend this is an authentic recipe in the slightest, but the flavours here are inspired by everything I love about Greek food. I often say Greek is my favourite cuisine (not that I like to have favourites, and being part Greek may or may not have influenced this assertion!), and I put this largely down to the liberal use of lemon, garlic and fresh herbs… What’s not to like? Hope you enjoy this simple salad as much as I do. X

Roasted Cauliflower and Potato Salad with Lemon and Dill | An easy side salad that's bright and zesty - vegan, paleo, vegetarian

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Things I Love (July 2016)

July 16, 2016


Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a love list! Or a recipe for that matter! Sometimes life gets in the way. Creative projects often take the back burner when things come up, it’s the first commitment you drop when you’re working too much or if you have too many social engagements… I’ve had both! But instead of feeling angry and disappointed in myself for not keeping to my weekly posting schedule, I’ve decided to treat myself with kindness. You don’t produce good things when it’s fuelled by guilt. This is an online space I love to be in, and I love making recipes to share with you… So please excuse the occasional tardiness – sometimes it’s necessary if I’m to post quality, tested recipes that I feel are worth sharing!

One thing I love most is getting messages from you… So if you’ve made one of my recipes, I’d love if you could leave a comment on the blog or tag me in a photo on Instagram! (@libertybrowne or #homespuncapers) it really makes my day to hear what you think of them!

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Easy Whipped Butter (Vegan) + Maple Butter

June 27, 2016


Easy Whipped Butter (Vegan) + Maple Butter | A deliciously easy whipped butter with only 2 ingredients! Dairy free and vegan, and perfect for spreading on toast.

I grew up in a butter household. We didn’t cook with it so much, but we did eat a lot of toast and therefore quite a bit of butter. I don’t think I had margarine till I started visiting school friends at home… And maybe not even then! My mother used to tell me that margarine was bad for you, which I have never bothered to research as an adult – firstly because my mum is always right (!). Secondly, because I know non-descript vegetable oils are made from a waste product of industry, and when companies are trying to make a buck or two from their waste, it usually requires a closer look. It also comes down to the old saturated fat vs unsaturated fats argument – but I would prefer to eat whole saturated fats than processed vegetable oils from dubious origins. “Vegetable oils” can also include unlabelled palm kernel oil, which is environmentally destructive, and I don’t like that they aren’t labelled clearly enough.

As a rule, I avoid overly processed ingredients – opting for oils that are cold / expeller pressed, and closest to their original state as possible. I find this type of thinking (and eating) is the easiest way to avoid ingesting too many toxins or empty calories – “is this made from ingredients in or close to their most natural form?” If yes, eat with abundance!

So, when I started exluding dairy from my diet for ethical reasons, I knew that I didn’t want to buy vegan margarines as a butter replacement. It was pretty easy to start with – baking with coconut oil, cooking with olive oil. Pretty much the only thing I was unable to replicate the taste and texture of was butter on toast. Until now! This 2 ingredient butter replacement had me face palming at the simplicity of the technique. Coconut oil, a healthy saturated fat that is solid at cool temperatures, is whipped with avocado (or mild olive) oil till light and fluffy. The result? Easy to spread, delicious and full of good fats.

A quick note on coconut oils: I use expeller pressed refined coconut oil – which is just as healthy as the extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil I usually use in my recipes, but without the coconut flavour (and it has a higher smoke point too). Make sure you get naturally refined coconut oil that hasn’t come into contact with bleach or other chemicals – “expeller pressed” means they can remove the coconut solids from your oil with pressure rather than chemicals. Be wary of cheaper brands and avoid hydrogenated coconut oil which contains trans fats.

You can use either avocado oil (my preference due to its mild buttery flavour), olive oil or even macadamia oil for a nuttier spread. This butter keeps as long as your ingredients are within their use by dates – the long shelf life is great for those of us that use butter predominantly on toast. I believe you could also use this butter as an alternative in baked goods – but I am yet to test this. Let me know if you do!

I’ve also included a sneaky recipe variation for maple flavoured butter – for all your sweet treat needs! Hint – it may also be featured in a recipe over the next coming weeks!

Easy Whipped Butter (Vegan) + Maple Butter | A deliciously easy whipped butter with only 2 ingredients! Dairy free and vegan, and perfect for spreading on toast.

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Curried Tomato and Coconut Soup with Garlic Chickpeas (or: store-cupboard soup)

June 20, 2016

Curried Tomato and Coconut Soup with Garlic Chickpeas | On the table in 30 min, this healthy vegan soup uses ingredients you're likely to already have in your pantry!

The ultimate recipe for weeknights when you’re fridge is lacking fresh produce – a soup that’s made predominantly of pantry essentials. That’s how it came to be actually: Tuesday nights are always a bit of a scrape together dinner in our house because we get our veggie co-op box on Wednesdays. Sometimes there’s a collection of leftover vegetables that don’t quite go together, and sometimes there’s very little at all! A few weeks ago I was determined to make dinner without a trip to the shops, so I made this – a warming curried tomato soup with a good dose of silky coconut cream, topped with pan-fried garlic chickpeas. Bar the ginger and turmeric, the other ingredients were in my pantry – and even better, it came together in less than 30 min!

A few of my friends teased me at my birthday picnic earlier this year that a “30 minute recipe” is not actually able to be made in 30 minutes (unless you’re some kind of wonder cook)… I’m not sure about Jamie Oliver’s 30 min and even 15 min recipes, but I assure you that this one is a cinch to make and comes together quickly!

I see a lot of recipes for oven baked crispy chickpeas, which are delicious and that I love… But it seemed a bore (and time intensive) to turn on the oven just for the chickpeas, so I decided to panfry them instead. The result? Crispy garlic chickpeas! Not the exact same result as baking them, but considering they only took a fraction of the time and are still a delicious soup topper – I know I’ll be making them again. 

Hope this recipe is a help when your fridge is bare and it’s too cold a winter evening to be heading out to the shops. We’ve been enjoying it so much in our house we’ve been having it even when there’s lots of fresh produce around, it’s just so simple to make and delicious – my favourite kind of recipe :)

Curried Tomato and Coconut Soup with Garlic Chickpeas | On the table in 30 min, this healthy vegan soup uses ingredients you're likely to already have in your pantry!

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Orange and Rose Muesli with Walnut and Fig

June 13, 2016

Orange and Rose Muesli with Walnut and Fig | a vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free toasted muesli (granola)

I showed my sister the above photo and she called it a fancy muesli… Which it is, but hey! Don’t we need that sometimes? I certainly do. This luxe muesli is flavoured with orange zest and rose water, and is loaded with walnuts and figs. It’s a pretty special affair before the addition of edible dried flowers, let alone when it’s all dolled up with pretty pink rose petals. 

I was considering calling this Persian Love Muesli – but, firstly, I am not that cute, and secondly, I’m always wary of cultural appropriation (particularly with something as close to the heart as food). Either way, this muesli is a homage to all your favourite Middle Eastern flavours – cinnamon, orange, rose, sesame, fig, walnut, pistachio, sour cherries… It’s almost too much! Except when you’re sitting down on a dreary weekday morning to eat such a decadent muesli, you’ll be thanking your past self for treating you so.

I love this muesli paired just with some coconut yoghurt, but some stewed seasonal fruit wouldn’t go astray here either (I’m lookin’ at you, rhubarb!). It would also make a lovely hostess or edible gift (not that you need to justify making such a luxe muesli just for yourself – you’re worth it.) xx

Orange and Rose Muesli with Walnut and Fig | a vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free toasted muesli (granola)

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Satay Baked Tofu and Sweet Potato with Kale and Coriander

May 29, 2016

Satay Baked Tofu and Sweet Potato with Kale and Coriander | A comforting and easy baked dinner that's gluten free and vegan!

What are your favourite things to eat when the weather takes a sudden turn? The last week down here in Melbourne has been very cold, with lots of rain and wind. We had a (slightly concerningly) warm May, so I’m not sure if this weather is what it usually is this time or year, or whether it just feels cold in comparison. Either way, K and I have been enjoying lots of steel cut oats, lentil soup and baked meals like this one.

Often the food I make day-to-day in my kitchen was once inspired by a recipe from a book. What I often cook now is something that doesn’t quite resemble the original – having evolved and manifested itself with different flavours and ingredients. This recipe is an example of that occurrence – I have cooked a particular pumpkin, potato and tofu bake from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday many times since first receiving that book as a gift, and, whilst I can see the direct correlation between this meal and that one, the only real similarity is the treatment of the veg and the addition of kale and coriander. But such is the joy of cooking – with each new meal we cook we learn something new about how we can apply certain techniques or use a new combination of ingredients. Our food is constantly shape-shifting, in our own kitchens as well as within communities. This ever-changing factor is what makes the food world an interesting and inspiring place to situate oneself.

This tofu and sweet potato bake is slathered in a peanut satay sauce – so it is flavoursome, nourishing, and full of protein. Lots of lemon juice brightens up this dish and balances the natural sweetness of the roasted potatoes and onions. It’s got a few handfuls of kale and coriander for good measure, making this a nutritious warm meal on its own or with some steamed rice. Perfect for a cold night, great as leftovers for lunch.

I’m going to leave you with this daring assertion and tell you that there is only one kale really worth using, and that is cavelo nero. Too bold? Am I making enemies? I’m sorry curly kale, but it’s tuscan or bust for me. With its beautiful dimpled leaves, its green blue hue and it’s ability to stand up to bold flavours, it is my preferred kale and the only one I buy. Of course, feel free to use your favourite green leafy veg here if it’s hard to come by. xxSatay Baked Tofu and Sweet Potato with Kale and Coriander | A comforting and easy baked dinner that's gluten free and vegan!

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Baked Rhubarb Steel Cut Oats with Orange and Pistachio

May 16, 2016

Baked Rhubarb Steel Cut Oats with Orange and Pistachio | A beautiful spring or autumn breakfast for cool mornings. Vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free.

This is always a funny time of the year – when rhubarb is both in season down here in Melbourne and in the Northern Hemisphere at the same time. I can see everyone online going spring rhubarb crazy, pairing it with new season strawberries and using it in warm weather recipes. Whilst we have rhubarb later in the year (our spring) we also have it now at the end of autumn, where it is delicious combined with apples and roasted in cold weather dishes. I’m not sure if we’re just lucky that rhubarb seems to grow so well here, or if it shows up at other times of the year on the other side of the world too. Either way, it fills me with lots of glee when we can make the same recipes at the same time as our friends North side.

This little number I have been tweaking for the past few weeks – trying different fruit and flavour combinations. Many have been delicious, but this one is a particular favourite: a baked porridge (oatmeal) recipe using steel cut oats, layered with rhubarb, spiked with orange zest and studded with plenty of pistachios. It’s sweetened with just a little coconut sugar to counter balance the tartness of the rhubarb, and a little maple is a delicious addition to drizzle on top when serving.

I absolutely love steel cut oats. I feel that they are in a league entirely of their own, leaving rolled oats in the dust. They’re chewy, substantial, and not as gluggy as the latter. Also called pinhead or Irish oats, they are made by cutting the whole oat groat with metal blades into 2 or 3 pieces (hence, “steel cut”). This causes them to cook quicker than whole groats, but still have that chewy whole grain feeling. The only downside is that they should really be soaked overnight to make them quicker to cook. That said, it’s a good idea to soak any oats overnight to aid your digestion, so it’s no biggie really!

Feel free to substitute in any seasonal fruit you have available if rhubarb isn’t – thinly sliced apple or pear, berries, stone fruit. A variety of nuts and seeds could also be used here. If you have access to Bob’s Red Mill brand, I know he sells gluten free steel cut oats. There are probably other brands too, if you need it to be gluten free.

Baked Rhubarb Steel Cut Oats with Orange and Pistachio | A beautiful spring or autumn breakfast for cool mornings. Vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free.

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