Tag Archives: French

Fondant Slice-2

Torta Paesana

Serves up to 16 

Fondant Slice

Move over brownies, you’ve been replaced. Well, to be fair, there is room in your life for both, but I prefer this. Why? Because it’s less sweet, but outrageously rich, and you can shave off really tiny slices at a time to make you feel like you’re eating less of it (the photo was taken while the cake was still warm due to the likelihood of rain, the texture totally changes when you put it in the fridge). Plus, since you store it in the fridge it keeps for ages, and it’s the best thing ever with an espresso. Oh and it’s gluten free and you can’t even tell.

I actually created this by accident, when I felt like doing a little aquafaba experimentation. I was browsing through a French gastronomic magazine when I came across a recipe for fondant cake. This ‘cake’ is essentially chocolate and eggs mixed together, and I thought, what if I tried my combination of chickpea flour and aquafaba to replace the eggs?

I didn’t really expect it to work the first time, but I was bored and had a cupboard full of chocolate. So I made it, and unsurprisingly it didn’t turn out like the original. I think silken tofu will be the key with fondant cake. But I put it in the fridge figuring I’d do something with it anyway. Later that day I got a hankering for something sweet, so I reached in and pulled off a chunk. O.M.G. It was good. I had accidentally made a gluten free torta paesana and improved on the original. My housemate proclaimed it the best chocolate dessert ever, and my dad who was visiting ate the entire container I gave him before he got home. Dark chocolate lovers, this is the dessert for you.

Since then I have added all kinds of nuts and rum soaked fruits, because why wouldn’t you, and measured it all out for you.  It’s pretty versatile, so you can serve it with coffee or with some ice cream or cointreau cashew cream for dessert. In fact it’s a great make-ahead dessert and it feeds a lot of people because you only need a tiny slice. It is pictured here with walnuts, because that’s what I had, but my absolute favourite is with pinenuts. Seriously try it, it will blow you away.


200g dark chocolate (I use 70%, because I don’t like it too sweet. Feel free to use a sweeter one if that’s what you’re into)

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup vegan butter, margarine or refined coconut oil (all give equal results)

1 tsp vanilla extract

7tbsp chickpea flour

10tbsp aquafaba

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Couple pinches salt (omit if using salted aquafaba)

1 cup nuts (pinenuts highly recommended, walnuts a close second, followed by hazelnuts)


1. Preheat the oven to 150C. Grease a 9 inch springform cake tin and line the base with baking paper

2. Place the nuts (whole if pinenuts, roughly chopped if walnuts) onto a baking tray a roast for 5 minutes or so until they start to release their oils and are lightly golden. Watch them like a hawk, burnt nuts are nobody’s friend.

3. Place the chocolate in a bowl over gently simmering water and stir with a metal spoon until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter/margarine/oil until melted.  Add the sugar and vanilla and mix well. Add the nuts and chickpea flour and beat well.

4. Pour the aquafaba into a deep bowl with the vinegar. Whisk very rapidly until it’s all white and foamy, kind of creamy, and somewhat thick. You don’t need peaks. Pour this into the chocolate mixture and quickly fold in. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and place in the oven immediately. Bake 45 minutes-1 hour, depending on your oven. It should be firm to the touch and have a really thin skin on top that is slightly cracked, like brownies. Leave in the tin to cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge, still in the tin, until chilled. Remove from the tin and serve.


mushroom walnut pate-3

Truffled Mushroom & Walnut Pate

Time: Approx 25 minutes plus soaking            

Makes: Around 3 cups (or 3 times what is shown in the photos)

mushroom walnut pate-2 mushroom walnut pate

Wow, I think I must be the world’s worst blogger. I just realised it’s been over two months since my last post. Terrible. My excuse it that since going back to full time work, I have been incredibly lazy busy (well both are true), and am lucky if I cook dinner twice a week. I haven’t adapted to being able to make post – worthy food in 20 minutes from start to finish, which is all the time I’m willing to spend after being on my feet all day, because it’s just not how I cook. I’m working on it though.

So, in the spirit of getting back into my blogging responsibilities, today I’m posting a recipe that I’ve been meaning  to publish since last Christmas. Perhaps even longer, since the first day I made it. Or maybe I was never going to publish it because I was going to sell it at my market stall, if I ever had the time to do that. But because it’s the season of giving, I give it to you now.

This pate is just so good that I’ve never gotten around to photographing it. It always disappears so quickly when I make it that the task is just about impossible. However, determined to at least post something from this year’s spectacular Christmas feast, this this time I was prepared. I took a third away and hid it so I could finally get a photo today, when nobody knew it existed. I then became very popular for the second day in a row when I revealed it for lunch, also part of my devious plan.

This pate is really easy to make, but is incredibly special. You could put this in a jar and give it to someone as a gift. I’ve fed this to mushroom haters who have devoured it within minutes, pate haters (yes they exist apparently, so weird) who were quickly converted, and to myself, the harshest critic of all, who will sit there with a whole baguette and eat it all if nobody stops me. It’s so, so yummy. So go ahead and make this and become a hero at your next potluck, dinner party, wine and cheese night, Christmas lunch, picnic, you name it. We all like to be worshipped once in a while.


375g Swiss brown mushrooms, cleaned

20g dried porcini mushrooms

1 1/4 cup walnuts

3/4 cup cashews, soaked a few hours, rinsed, drained

1/2 cup porcini soaking liquid

3 tbsp olive oil

2 French shallots, chopped

4 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped

Pinch dried thyme

3 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

Grated fresh black truffle* or black truffle oil, to taste

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

* A note about truffles: While they are technically a vegan ingredient, in most parts of the world, truffles are harvested using dogs or pigs. These animals are trained to seek out truffles, and work for their livelihoods.  Some may be treated very well, as members of the family, but others won’t be. They are usually specially bred, which creates all kinds of issues, including puppy farms, adding to the number of unwanted dogs who are killed each year, and the question of what happens to those who don’t pass their training or are too old to continue. For this reason, while the flavour is far inferior, artificial truffle oil is the far more ethical way to go. That being said, I often receive free truffles through my work or friends in Italy, and I use them. You may be able to find foraged truffles which are not ethically problematic, or truffles from farms which don’t use animals. This is one of those ethical issues the individual needs to decide for themselves, but be aware if you are making this for a vegan, they may not eat real truffle.


1. Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl with 1 1/2 cups of cold and let soak for an hour (or more, more won’t hurt it). Drain them in a mesh sieve lined with a piece of paper over another bowl to reserve the liquid. Remove the paper towel and rinse the mushrooms well.

2. Heat the oven to 200C. Place the walnuts on a tray and roast in the oven for around 5 minutes, or until golden and roasty smelling. When roasting nuts I check them every other minute because they go from toasted to burnt in a flash. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for ten minutes or so.

3. Heat the olive oil in a pan over low heat and add the shallots. Cook until translucent then add the garlic and dried thyme. Cook another couple of minutes until soft. Add the porcini mushrooms and cook another minute. Meanwhile, place the Swiss mushrooms into the bowl of your food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the mushrooms to the pan with a pinch of salt and saute until cooked. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved porcini soaking liquid and cook, stirring often, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and set aside.

4. Place the walnuts and cashews into the bowl of the food processor and blitz until they form a fairly fine, crumbly paste (not a nut butter, not a crumb, somewhere in between). Add the mushroom mixture and parsley, a splash of olive oil and blend until smooth but not a liquid. It will be a medium-stiff paste. Remove the blade and give it a good mix with a spatula. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add the truffle to your desired truffliness. Place into a covered dish/jar in the fridge to chill for at least a couple of hours before serving. If you want to serve it fancy style rather than in a dish, line a bowl with glad wrap before pressing the pate in, then turn out onto a plate. Serve with thin slices of toasted baguette.


nicoise salad

Nicoise Salad

Serves 4 as an entree or light meal, or 2 very hungry people as a main

Yes, another salad. What was that I was saying about vegans not eating salad for every meal? It must seem as though I was lying. I wasn’t, of course. I often eat non-salad meals. And when I do eat salad, you can bet your life it ain’t no bowl of lettuce and cucumber drizzled with balsamic vinegar. What’s that even about anyway? Does anyone actually enjoy it? Not I, not I.

A Nicoise salad is in my opinion one of the top 5 salads of all time. Much like a really good coleslaw, potato salad, kale salad and Asian salad, this classic French dish it should be part of everyone’s salad repertoire. It’s a complete meal, supremely satisfying, totally delicious, pretty and when made vegan, very healthy. I’m actually surprised I’ve never come across a recipe for a vegan Nicoise salad in all these years, or been served one in a restaurant. Served with a glass of really excellent Rosé, this is one of the best meals I can think of to eat on the balcony overlooking the warm setting sun, or at a picnic. Of course, it’s also outrageously good at 10pm sitting around your cluttered dining table with your housemates.

I really urge you to give this recipe a go. If you’ve never tried a Nicoise salad before, you’re in for a treat. If you loved the original, you’ll find all the great flavours and textures in this version with no need for animal products. Just eat it.


* You can change up the vegetables depending on what you have/like. The beans, tomatoes, potatoes and lettuce are a must, but you can swap radish for cucumber or red capsicum, or add one or both as extras. Artichokes are also a great addition. I make it based on how I’m feeling and what’s fresh at the grocer.

250g fresh green beans

1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 bunch radishes (approx 5 large radishes), sliced 2-3mm thick

A few handfuls of butter or romaine lettuce (don’t use a bitter lettuce), roughly torn

1/2 cup olives (I prefer a mix of Sicilian green and Kalamata)

1 heaped tbsp salt preserved capers, thoroughly rinsed

For the potateggs

12 new potatoes (or any small potatoes)

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp olive oil or melted vegan butter

1/4-1/2 tsp kala namak (Indian black salt), to taste

Small pinch turmeric

For the chickpeas 

2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 sheet toasted nori

2 tbsp flaxseed oil

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and black pepper, to taste (but don’t skimp on either)

For the dressing

120ml olive oil

4tbsp red wine vinegar (or to taste)

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 small clove garlic, crushed to a paste

1 tsp dijon mustard

Handful fresh basil (10-15 leaves), fine chiffonade

Sea salt, to taste


1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes and cook until just fork tender. Add the green beans and cook another 40 seconds only. Drain and leave to cool.

2. Drizzle the tomatoes with a little olive oil, and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix and set aside

3. Prepare the chickpeas. Use your hands to crush the nori up as fine as you can get it. Add to a food processor with the chickpeas, flax oil, olive oil, a good pinch of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Pulse for a few seconds until the chickpeas are broken up. Don’t turn it into a dip. Alternatively, you can mash them with a fork, but the food processor gives better texture. Adjust salt to taste and set aside.

4. Prepare the potateggs. Cut the potatoes in half. Using a teaspoon or knife, whichever you find easier, scoop the middle out to make a little crater in the potatoes. Place the scooped out stuff in a bowl with the nutritional yeast, olive oil/butter, 1/4tsp of the kala namak and the turmeric and mash until you have a smooth paste. Add more kala namak if you want it eggier, or just regular salt as needed if you don’t. Using a teaspoon, fill the craters with the mashed potato mixture. Set aside.

5. Toss the radishes with a pinch of good quality sea salt and set aside.

6. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously until emulsified. Stir in the basil and season to taste. Depending on the olive oil you use, you made need to add a little more vinegar.

7. Assemble the salad. Arrange the vegetables in separate piles on a a large platter. Place the chickpea mixture in the middle, allowing it to scatter over the other ingredients in places. Scatter the olives over the lettuce, and the capers over everything. Arrange the potateggs around the outside of the platter. Drizzle with dressing, making sure to get it over the potatoes too. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh basil. Or arrange it however you want,  in individual serving bowls if you prefer. I prefer everything separate, and letting diners mix it up on their own plates.