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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Warm Banoffee Chia Parfait

May 2, 2016

Warm Banoffee Chia Parfait | A delicious peanut butter chia pudding topped with a layer of warm banana caramel! A sweet vegan breakfast or a decadent dessert. Paleo, gluten free, refined sugar free.
I love chia puddings in the warmer weather, eating them for breakfast throughout summer and early autumn with fresh fruit and yoghurt. But now that we are having cooler mornings, I have been layering them with warm fruit compotes instead – what feels like an indulgence but is actually deceptively healthy!

In this version you’ll find a creamy peanut butter chia pudding, topped with a warm banana caramel – sweetened with maple syrup and coconut sugar. It’s flavour is reminiscent of banoffee pie (which you may remember I’ve made before), which can only be a good thing!  Serve as it is for a delicious and wholesome breakfast, or with the adorning toppings for a decadent breakfast or dessert. 

You can make the chia base the night before, and just make the banana caramel when you’re ready to serve it. That said, you can also make the caramel the night before too, and assemble it for a cold, make-ahead breakfast. I love the warm caramel during the colder months, but I’m sure it’d go down a treat as a cold pudding in the summer heat. Xx

Warm Banoffee Chia Parfait | A delicious peanut butter chia pudding topped with a layer of warm banana caramel! A sweet vegan breakfast or a decadent dessert. Paleo, gluten free, refined sugar free.

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Paprika & Cumin Roasted New Potatoes with Coriander Aioli

April 25, 2016

Paprika & Cumin Roasted New Potatoes with Coriander Aioli | Delicious crispy potatoes with a creamy vegan aioli. Paleo, gluten free, dairy free.This has to be my favourite way to season potatoes. My partner invented the flavour combination some time last year, on a whim. He grew up in a house where he wasn’t encouraged to help out with cooking, which has meant that he has had to learn a lot of the basic skills (that I take for granted) as an adult. It’s never too late to learn though, and he makes up for his lack of skill confidence with his enthusiasm for flavour experimentation! Since he made this combination, we have been using it pretty much every time we roast potatoes – it’s that good, seriously. Something about the sweetness of the paprika with the heady savouriness of the cumin.

Here I’ve served them a bit like loaded fries, covered in a garlicky aioli that has a good dose of coriander and lemon. It’s a lovely creamy sauce and it’s flavour is reminiscent of an avocado and cottage cheese dip that my father use to make us as kids (he’s a big garlic fan). I like the little bursts of cherry tomatoes and a bit of freshness from the additional coriander… Totally optional though. In fact, these potatoes are amazing just as they are, aioli free. Quite a common side in our house (probably weekly, if I’m honest), I often serve them alongside a soup like this one. And if someone was to serve them with good ol’ tomato sauce (ketchup), I wouldn’t complain either. There’s a reason we go through a kilo of potatoes a week! xx
Paprika & Cumin Roasted New Potatoes with Coriander Aioli | Delicious crispy potatoes with a creamy vegan aioli. Paleo, gluten free, dairy free.

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Roasted Butternut and Garlic Soup with Sage and Hazelnuts

April 18, 2016

Roasted Butternut and Garlic Soup with Sage and Hazelnut | A rich and hearty vegan soup that is creamy despite being dairy-free. Healthy and warming.

Sometimes life gets in the way. It can get a little overwhelming, like people are pulling you in different directions, needing your attention. Sometimes it’s just you though, and it’s your own expectations of what you should be able to accomplish in a given week. Sometimes everything gets too much and it feels like you don’t have enough time, and when that happens – I make soup! The best meal to make when leftovers are the perfect gift for your future self.

Yes, I realise this is the second soup I’ve posted in a row (!) but this is what I am currently making in my kitchen… So I’m going to share it with you! It is substantially different than the lentil soup I posted last, but no less satisfying. This is a super tasty pumpkin soup, totally autumnal in flavour.

As I’ve said before regarding pumpkin soup, I really need there to be a lot going on for me to not find it too samey and cloyingly sweet. Like my previous (pretty damn popular) Turmeric Pumpkin Soup, this one is loaded with other flavours, much of which counterbalances the sweetness of the butternut pumpkin. For starters, there’s the roasted garlic – so much umami/savoury goodness! Secondly, it’s topped with toasted hazelnuts and sage, both which have bitter flavours that match well with pumpkin. It’s brightened with a little orange zest, and has a little spicy note from black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. It’s complex flavoured, and has interest from the crunchy hazelnut topping – no boring pumpkin soup here!

I like soups to be a full meal (who wants to cook twice? I’m not organised enough for that!) so I am always sure to add protein to the mix. This baby has white beans blended into it – totally unnoticeable, and it adds a creamy richness without the use of dairy. I use cannelini beans here, but any cooked white bean will do (and from a can is also fine).

This soup comes together simply and relatively quick, and is more of an assembly job if anything. Once you’ve roasted the pumpkin (which intensifies the flavour) and garlic, the soup is blended and ready in 5 minutes. Definitely weeknight friendly, but also a lovely weekend autumn meal for a day at home.

Just a quick end note: don’t be worried about the amount of garlic called for it the recipe, the result is a surprisingly mellow flavour brought about through roasting the cloves whole in the oven. See you next week for a not-so-soupy recipe :) xx

Roasted Butternut and Garlic Soup with Sage and Hazelnut | A rich and hearty vegan soup that is creamy despite being dairy-free. Healthy and warming.

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Everyday Lentil Soup with Saffron Yoghurt

April 5, 2016

Everyday Lentil Soup with Saffron Yoghurt | An easy and versatile weekday meal that's super satisfying and flavoursome. Vegan, gluten free.

I love to include recipes here on Homespun Capers that feature on high rotation in my own kitchen – I feel like they’re the ones worth sharing, because they’re the ones I always comes back to time and time again. This is such a recipe – it’s a super easy and versatile soup that I make about once a week during the cooler months. I always adjust the spices and toppings to what I feel like and what I’ve got on hand, but this particular topping of saffron yoghurt makes this everyday lentil soup pretty darn special. People often turn their noses up at the idea of lentil soup, saying it’s boring and ho-hum… But to them I say this: you have obviously never had a good lentil soup. This little number is flavoursome, rich, filling and satisfying. This, my friends, is the one you’ve been waiting for.

This is the last instalment in my suite of delicious autumn immune boosting recipes, and I hope they have inspired you with some different ways to strengthen your body for this time of year. There’s a few different ingredients in this soup that are worth talking about in terms of their health properties. Firstly, lentils are a powerhouse of iron, guaranteed to power you through winter! They are also an excellent prebiotic (which I wrote about last week here), so are fantastic for your immune system when combined with this probiotic saffron yoghurt. Saffron, to start with, is a natural anti-depressant, so it’s a perfect addition to your diet throughout winter when S.A.D. starts setting in. It’s also high in magnesium and vitamin C, so it helps your body fight against infection. Finally, a good dose of cayenne pepper to increase circulation and garlic to bring some anti-bacterial and cold and flu fighting properties to this soup. phew!

Talking about the health properties of foods sometimes make us feel like it is the only reason we should bother eating them. But rest assured, friends, I would never suggest to eat anything that doesn’t taste amazing! These healthful ingredients I’ve been focussing on these past weeks are all full of wonderful flavours, and are all worth eating in their own right! There’s nothing better for the body and soul than eating something delicious, nourishing and satisfying… Or should I say “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”? xx

Titbit: Saffron (crocus sativus) is a purple flowering plant from the iris family, whose flowers each hold three red stigmas (threads) that are harvested for use as a spice. Saffron was originally grown for use as a clothing dye – the prized alfa-crocin (a compound that gives the spice its golden hue) has since been found to also contain anti-oxidant, anti-depressant, and anti-cancer properties. When used in food, saffron has a bittersweet taste and heady fragrance, lending itself to a variety of dishes from Spainish paella to Indian kulfi. Native to South West Asia, Saffron is the worlds most expensive spice due to its high labor and low yield – it takes 4,500 flowers to make one ounce of saffron spice.

Everyday Lentil Soup with Saffron Yoghurt | An easy and versatile weekday meal that's super satisfying and flavoursome. Vegan, gluten free.

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