Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cannellini Bean Casserole and Apple and Berry Muffins for Vegan Potluck

I had a lovely day today attending a vegan potluck hosted by Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe. Johanna and I started blogging at around the same time, and have been exchanging comments for a while, so it was lovely to meet her and her family (including the famous Dolly, for regular readers of Johanna's blog).  It was also great to meet some other Melbourne bloggers - namely Cindy and Mike of Where's the Beef?, Mel of Veganise This!,  and Alex of Soya & Chocolat and her boyfriend Steven, all of whom are vegan.

I am slightly thick in that when Johanna said the theme was green and vegan, I read "green" as being "environmentally friendly" (because eating meat is very resource intensive), when in fact it meant the colour green - as Johanna's favourite colour is green and it is in the name of her blog.  To quote Homer Simpson - D'oh!  Everyone else understood this, and Cindy and Mike dressed in green (Mike's green T-shirt even had a giraffe on it!).  Here is the impressive array of green dishes (sans Mike's green couscous, which came later):

and some beautiful green desserts - pick the non-green one:

Oh well, I got the vegan part right, and made a cannellini bean casserole (pictured at the top of this post)  and apple and berry muffins (pictured below).  I enjoyed both dishes, but would probably only make the stew again. I think there are better options for vegan muffins than the recipe I chose while operating on autopilot the other night, not realising that they contained almost a full bottle of maple syrup:

For the casserole,  I substituted the lima beans in the original recipe for cannellini beans, as my supermarket's range did not appear to stretch to lima beans.  Subsequent research shows that I should have chosen canned butter beans for the closest match, but I thought the cannellini beans were good.  I also gave the stew a little kick by adding a chopped fresh chilli - I think that was just right, as it may have been too bland without it. I also chose to leave out the dill, but added dried tarragon.

The cannellini bean casserole was based on a lima bean casserole recipe on p193 of Gourmet Vegetarian by Jane Price.  My version of this casserole is as follows:

2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, drained and washed
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped 

1 fresh chilli, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil

1 x 400g tin crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Heat the oil in a large casserole dish on the stovetop.   Add all of the chopped vegetables and cook them until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and water.  Bring to the boil, then simmer for 3 minutes.  Add the beans and tarragon, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring the casserole back to the boil, then remove it from the stovetop, cover it with a lid or alfoil, and place into the preheated oven to cook for 50 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.  (I actually found this was a little too long, so most of my sauce had disappeared.) Serve the casserole hot.

The apple and berry muffin recipe is from p166 of Rowie Dillon's Indulge (gluten free  recipes).  These muffins are a little on the exxy side to make because of the maple syrup, and only taste OK.  However, they have the advantage of being gluten free, as they are based on buckwheat flour.  I was attracted to this recipe because it contains grated apple, dates and berries - yum!  The muffins are also fairly easy and quick to make (a bonus!).  To make these muffins you will need:

1 tablespoon gluten-free cornflour
3 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 grated apples
1 cup chopped dates
235ml maple syrup
1 cup water
300g fresh or frozen berries (I used half this amount of  frozen raspberries)

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin papers.

In a large bowl, combine the cornflour, buckwheat flour and bicarbonate of soda.  Next, mix in the grated apple, dates and maple syrup.  Add the water and fold into the mixture.  Finally, fold in the berries.  Divide the mixture between the muffin holes (I actually got 15 muffins, not 12), and bake the muffins for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.  Remove the muffins from the oven and cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.