Rosemary and White Bean Cassoulet

April 17, 2017

Rosemary and White Bean Cassoulet | Vegan, French-style stew. Gluten free, grain free, dairy free.I really enjoy this time of year, when the weather gets cool enough for oven cooking, but beautiful summer veg is still abundant and affordable. This rosemary and white bean French-style cassoulet is a dish I’ve been making on repeat since February. Part stew, part baked beans, this cassoulet is so flavour packed and creamy, it really is a favourite of mine.

French cuisine has always been something I’ve shied away from in my kitchen, mainly due to my unfair preconceptions about it being meat and dairy heavy (but really, popular dishes from most cuisines are!). That said, I have been experimenting and nerdily reading up about the nuances of vegetables, and have discovered that a vegetarian cassoulet can be perfectly rich, flavourful and delicious, so long as you have plenty of fat and aromatics. My other trick here is to bake the cassoulet uncovered, which makes the white beans and vegetables melt-in-your-mouth tender, and intensifies the flavours. The baking makes the total recipe time a little daunting looking, but just remember that most of it is hands off and the results are worth it!

One of the fundamentals of French cooking is the mirepoix, which you’ll see in this recipeMirepoix is the vegetable trifecta of onion, celery and carrot, which is the base for many stocks and sauces. The ratio is two parts onion to one parts each of celery and carrot, which is finely diced and then cooked nice and slow over a gentle heat – with the intention of bringing out their sweetness, rather than browning.

Almost every cuisine has its own vegetable base like mirepoix: Cajun cooking has the Holy Trinity (onion, celery, green capsicum), Spain has Sofrito (onion, garlic, tomato), and Germany has Suppengrün (carrot, celeriac, leek). Whilst the vegetables practically dissolve into the sauce, their presence is so important to the flavour of the resulting dish. Learning about different cuisine’s vegetables bases brings you a step closer to getting authentic flavours in your cooking, even if you’re skipping the meat and dairy! See this great Serious Eats article for more on mirepoix.

Rosemary and White Bean Cassoulet | Vegan, French-style stew. Gluten free, grain free, dairy free.

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End of Summer Muhammara Dip

February 20, 2017

End of Summer Muhammara | A delicious red pepper, walnut and chilli dip. VeganI have been waiting all year to make this classic Levantine dip, Muhammara, heralding from Turkey and Syria. Red capsicums aren’t in season very long down here in Melbourne, and only showed up in my veggie box a fortnight ago. I got excited and ordered a few extra to specifically make this dip, and I’m so glad I did! It’s sweet, sour, spicy and totally more-ish. The toasted walnuts gives it a delicious nutty depth of flavour, as well as  adding body and texture. Great in place of hummus or baba ghanoush, or along side them both as part of a larger mezze spread.

If there are no red capsicums in season where you are, or you’re not inclined to roast your own, you can always use the ones you find preserved in jars, or at your local deli. I’ve included the quantity for that below, if you choose that route. I’ve also given directions for making muhammara with and without a food processor. Either way, I prefer it quite chunky in texture, but you can puree it smooth if you prefer.

This past weekend I was excited to find some Aleppo chilli flakes at the new South Melbourne Essential Ingredient store. In the currently political climate, it feels both humbling and special being able to use these Syrian chilli flakes, despite them being grown in Turkey. They are a mild chilli flake, and I’ve used them according to my taste below (self confessed chilli wimp here!) but feel free to add more if you like things a little hotter – pretty sure those who love a bit of heat would like to add up to another teaspoon to what I’ve called for below. If you can’t get your hands on Aleppo chilli flakes in person or online, any mild and fine textured chilli flake will work here – adjust to your taste.

Hope you enjoy this less common addition to your condiment repertoire, it’s such a perfect way to celebrate late summer’s produce. xx
End of Summer Muhammara | A delicious red pepper, walnut and chilli dip. Vegan

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Raw Broccolini, Lentil and Tahini Salad

February 13, 2017

Raw Broccolini, Lentil and Tahini Salad | Vegan and gluten free.

On Monday nights my good friend Georgia and I rehearse in a local pop choir that is run by an old friend from Brisbane. The last few weeks, Georgia and I have started cooking an afterwork meal together prior to rehearsal, and it has been a very enjoyable challenge to see what delicious feast we can make and eat within an hour at dusk. This salad is a riff on one that Georgia made last week – thinly sliced raw broccolini with cooked lentils, all smothered with a more-ish, sweet and lemony tahini dressing. I’ve been trying to get more zinc in my diet, so I’ve added crunchy toasted pepitas here, but her original salad had toasted flaked almonds (feel free to sub them in instead if you prefer), both add a delicious and crunchy textural element to this salad.

The raw broccolini in this salad only softens slightly with the acid of the dressing, so it’s actually a great salad to make ahead of time (add the toasted pepitas when serving to retain their crunch) or bring to work for lunch. It’s also extremely flexible – torn black kale works well here, as would a variety of green vegetables, and I can imagine cooked chickpeas would work well in the place of lentils.

Some notes on tahini:

When it comes to tahini, the delicious sauce made from blending sesame seeds, I prefer the hulled variety over the unhulled. This is for a few reasons: firstly, because I think it is a more pleasant tasting tahini, less bitter, smoother and creamier.

Secondly, because although much of the sesame seed’s calcium and fibre lies in the outer bran (hull), so does most of it’s phytic acid – an “anti-nutrient” that is found in legumes, nuts, grains and seeds. Phytic acid binds to the minerals and nutrients in the seed, and makes it hard for our bodies to digest them. The process of soaking, sprouting, cooking or hulling removes it. Hulled tahini still contains a good serve of calcium, and your body is able to use it easily without the phytic acid inhibiting its absorption.

Thirdly, Hulled tahini is more “traditional”, and generally I think that, when it comes to food, looking at the way cultures have traditionally prepared their ingredients gives us a good idea as to how to get the most nutrients out of them. Sometimes we go a bit crazy on the idea of “wholegrain” and think that everything is better for us in its whole form. Whilst this is most often true, it’s not always the case, and sometimes ingredients have been processed a certain way for hundreds of years for a good reason.

This is just my opinion formed from information I have read over the years, I encourage you to do your own research. Either way, seek out a delicious, fresh tasting tahini from your favourite bulk foods store. :) x

Raw Broccolini, Lentil and Tahini Salad | Vegan and gluten free.

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Mini Matcha Key Lime Pies

February 6, 2017

Mini Matcha Key Lime Pies | Delicious vegan pies that are super zesty and creamy! Paleo, mostly raw, dairy-free, refined sugar free, gluten free, grain free.If you’ve ever witnessed or partaken in a Japanese tea ceremony, you’ll know about matcha – a high quality, powdered green tea that is traditionally prepared with hot water and whisked till frothy. Matcha is a beautiful green colour and has a pleasant herbaceous flavour that pairs well with citrus and creamy textures. In today’s recipe I’ve matched it with lime and coconut to make a riff on the classic American dessert – key lime pie!

As I wanted maximum filling to crust ratio, I optioned for more of a cheesecake format with just a layer of crust on the bottom and plenty of silky smooth filling. These mini pies are tart, not-too-sweet, and perfectly balanced in flavour. You could use this recipe to make a full sized pie if you prefer – use a 15cm/6inch card or silicon mould or parchment lined spring form tin, and extend the chilling time.

Matcha is loaded with antioxidants, amino acids and other nutrients. One of the amino acids, L-theanine, makes the tea’s naturally occurring caffeine metabolize more slowly. The result is that the caffeine is released in your body over a longer period of time, compared to the quick jolt from coffee, giving you sustained energy and mental clarity. That said, it is powdered tea leaf, so these cakes are better suited as a day time treat!

I’m using Aiya Cooking Grade Matcha here, which is specifically blended for use in baking, lattes, smoothies and desserts. Premium grade matcha, whilst beautiful as a tea, is often too delicate to hold its own against other ingredients. Cooking grade matcha, apart from the added benefit of being more affordable, is actually better at providing a matcha flavour that truly shines through in your desserts. xx enjoy!

Mini Matcha Key Lime Pies | Delicious vegan pies that are super zesty and creamy! Paleo, mostly raw, dairy-free, refined sugar free, gluten free, grain free. Continue Reading…

Coconut Whipped Cream

January 30, 2017

Coconut Whipped Cream | Easy dairy-free and vegan whipped cream. Paleo and refined-sugar free.

This simple recipe for coconut whipped cream is one I often want to refer to but haven’t had a recipe on my site to link to… Until now!

This isn’t really a stiff sort of vegan whipped cream, which often has powdered sugar added for structure, but it’s perfect for piling onto cakes, topping coffee, or serving with scones. 

Please take the time to read the notes below, because not all coconut creams are created equal and I don’t want you to be disappointed. Australian readers, I recommend seeking out my preferred brand below (no sponsorship, just a fan), which is one I know works.

Just a little recipe this week because I’m working on something very special for the coming weeks. Xx
Coconut Whipped Cream | Easy dairy-free and vegan whipped cream. Paleo and refined-sugar free.

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Things I Love Jan 2017

January 23, 2017


Hello friends, I thought it was time for a favourites list because I haven’t posted one since September!

It’s been a pretty scary couple of months in the world of politics. I am generally quite engaged in Australian politics, but this last year I have also been following along with what’s happening in the US – it’s hard not to be with all the craziness, and how much it always ends up impacting things here too.

It’s been quite a dark time, but at the same time there’s been many things bringing hope to my life. To begin with, we saw a beautiful sign of the strength and resilience of all those who identify as/with women just yesterday with the women’s marches.

I hope to see more government policies that are brought in because they are the right thing to do, not because some big dirty business is funding their political campaigns. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask for as a voter. In 2016, a major coal plant in Victoria (my state) was closed down, and the owners are now reinvesting their money in renewables. It’s been a long time coming, we signed numerous petitions to close Hazelwood power station over the past couple of years, and maybe it’s happening because of money rather than science, but at least it is happening.

On the home front, my brother is having his first child in the coming weeks (my first nephew/niece), and my good friend had a baby boy over New Years. My brother and friend are both intelligent, loving and inclusive individuals, and if more people like them are going to be raising the next generation, then I feel like things are going to take a turn for the better.

We’ve got to have hope, because really, what are we without it?

I am holding my breath posting this because there’s bound to be a couple of people who don’t think a food blog is a place for politics. To them I say this: food is about people, politics is about people. Food is a great democratiser and conversation starter. Food is a language that crosses cultures and mends rifts. We all eat, and three times a day we get to choose what we support and what we want to see as the standard available to us. Want to see more environmentally friendly practices? Want to see more support for your local farmers? Want to see animals treated more humanely? Want to see more businesses run by women, LBGTIQ people and people of colour? Vote with your fork. If that’s not political, I don’t know what is.

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Super Red Velvet Smoothie with Raspberry and Cacao

January 16, 2017

Super Red Velvet Smoothie | A delicious goji berry, raspberry and cacao smoothie with creamy almond and cacao butters. Full of antioxidants! Dairy free, gluten free, refined sugar free, and vegan.
This week I’m sharing the other delicious smoothie I’ve been making this summer – a Super Red Velvet Smoothie! Loaded with goji berries, raspberries and cacao, this drink is all about the antioxidants to help our bodies.

This smoothie was inspired by a naturally coloured red velvet cake that I had at my friend Jane’s wedding a few years ago. It was made by her mother and had fresh raspberries folded through the icing. It got me thinking (hoping?) that red velvet was actually a raspberry chocolate cake, but I realised later this was just Jane’s mother’s genius. Either way, raspberries and chocolate are a match made in heaven.

This smoothie is super creamy and luscious from the addition of almond butter and melted cacao butter, which gives a proper chocolate flavour to the smoothie, rather than just the cacao powder. If you’re unable to get cacao butter, don’t despair, it’ll still be delicious without.

Though I am only having a one day off this weekend due to taking my birthday off work later this week (!), I didn’t want to miss out on posting a recipe for you this week. It’s hard to manage blogging when your routine is out of wack, but this year is off to a good start so I wanted to make sure I got something out to you today.

Also, I’m so pleased with how much love my Lemon Meringue Pie Smoothie has received this last fortnight, you guys really love pie! Xx

Super Red Velvet Smoothie | A delicious goji berry, raspberry and cacao smoothie with creamy almond and cacao butters. Full of antioxidants! Dairy free, gluten free, refined sugar free, and vegan.

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A Simple Tomato Salad (or: a vegan caprese-inspired salad)

January 9, 2017

A Simple Tomato Salad (vegan caprese-inspired salad) | A salad for the height of Summer with garlicky butter beans, basil and avocado. Gluten free, grain free, dairy free.

A vegan caprese salad seems a bit of an oxymoron – how can it be a caprese without one of the three key ingredients? Yes, this caprese-inspired tomato salad is unorthodoxically without mozzarella, but it is still a celebration of the height of tomato season! The garlicky butter beans and avocado add a creamy substantial element to make up for the lack of cheese, but tomatoes really are the star of the show here – just like they are in a traditional caprese salad.

The most delicious thing about caprese salad is it’s simplicity. Made from just a handful of perfectly ripe ingredients, it forms its own dressing from the tomatoes juices mixing with a delicious, peppery olive oil. I’ve treated this salad the same way, and it really is more than the sum of its (perfectly ripe) parts! Serve it over a piece of toasted sourdough or with some fresh bread to mop up the dressing, and there is little better.

I want to stress again that as this is all about the tomatoes, please don’t consider making this salad if you don’t have great tomatoes available to you right now. Just tuck this recipe away till you do! The tomatoes really are the main focus of this dish, and the salad will lack and be positively underwhelming if you have watery, floury tomatoes.

Let me know in the comments below what you think of this recipe, and if there’s any other types of recipes you’d like to see in 2017! Hearing from you always inspires me and I’d love to give you more of what you want this year xx Liberty

A Simple Tomato Salad (vegan caprese-inspired salad) | A salad for the height of Summer with garlicky butter beans, basil and avocado. Gluten free, grain free, dairy free.

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Lemon Meringue Pie Smoothie

January 2, 2017

Lemon Meringue Pie Smoothie | An easy and delicious healthy smoothie! Paleo, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free.

This lemon meringue pie smoothie has to be one of my very favourites. It’s made of such healthy ingredients but tastes like creamy decadence! I use to work at a department store specialty coffee shop a few years ago (when I was still a barista) and it was right next door to a food court that has a great vegan takeaway store. One time I branched out of my usual routine and bought a lemon smoothie there, and when I brought it back to work with me even my most (food) conservative colleague agreed that it tasted like pie. I couldn’t get over the delicious, tart creaminess! I read the ingredients, obsessed about it, and then finally got around to recreating it at home (with a few substitutions) once mangos came into season again. This is my version.

I am often sceptical about “healthy junk food” recipes, there are a lot of them out there on the world wide web, especially at this time of the year, and not all of them are quite as delicious as promised. Maybe it’s semantics, but for me, calling something a “healthy twix bar” makes them not taste quite as good, because they’re already failing to live up to expectations before they even make it to your mouth! But call the same thing a “chocolate caramel cookie bar” and I will enjoy them immensely. So! This smoothie is not trying to be a pie, but rather, reminiscent of one. That said, I believe it’s still so delicious in its own right that you even won’t care it’s missing buttery pastry, three cups of sugar and a mound of egg whites.

There’s a lot of food and body hype this time of year, designed to make us feel inadequate for the benefit of the health and wellbeing industry. All of it results in the development of a universal anxiety about what to eat, which is hardly helpful. I am far from perfect, but I believe it’s really important to enjoy what you eat – it is, after all, one of the greatest pleasures we have. I think you can enjoy a little of what you love, in moderation (or as Julia Turshen says “find an elegance in restraint”), and then eat delicious meals designed to nourish your body the other 90% of the time. Thankfully you can do both with this smoothie, and that’s a pretty good way to eat.

Happy New Year! x

Lemon Meringue Pie Smoothie | An easy and delicious healthy smoothie! Paleo, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free.

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Cardamom and Orange Dark Chocolate Truffles

December 19, 2016

Cardamom and Orange Dark Chocolate Truffles | Easy, vegan chocolate truffles for festive decadence! Gluten free.

I tested a cake recipe the other day, a simple chocolate spelt cake with a fudgy chocolate and orange icing. To be honest, the cake sucked, but the icing was delicious! It firmed up in the fridge and was super creamy and rich. It reminded me of a delicious chocolate truffle recipe that I use to make growing up – it was made with dark chocolate and sour cream and spiked with orange and cardamom (can’t remember where I got the recipe unfortunately).

I decided to rehash the icing into the truffles you see here, and I’m so glad I did. There’s not much better than a deliciousnessly rich chocolate truffle, and I’m so happy I worked out a way to make them dairy-free. I love the hint of cardamom and orange, and I imagine any number of flavourings could work here – or just plain would also be delicious. Orange and cardamom is particularly Christmassy, and I think it’s a flavour pairing made in heaven. I don’t tend to use cardamom much, but I do love just a hint of it in chocolate desserts.

This is probably my last recipe for the year, though I will probably post a round up of this year’s most popular recipes after Christmas. But till then, I hope you and your family enjoys a wonderful and delicious festive season! Be sure to tag me on Instagram @libertybrowne or #homespuncapers if you make any of my recipes, I’d love to see them! Xx Liberty

Cardamom and Orange Dark Chocolate Truffles | Easy, vegan chocolate truffles for festive decadence! Gluten free.

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