Desserts with fruits

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan British Christmas Plum pudding - Veganinathens.com

British Christmas pudding – vegan, moist and delicious

When I was a child and especially a teenager I used to to imagine that when I would grow up, I would choose to travel all around the world during Christmas, in order to come in contact with other cultures, different customs and traditions. However, every time I’ve traveled during Christmas holidays in northern destinations, I had a really hard time with the cold weather, which seemed a very hostile condition to a tropical climate enthusiast like me – I used to live in a place where one could go swimming at Christmas! Therefore, I had to invent other ways to fulfill my childhood dreams and experience other cultures without leaving the relatively warm Greek climate.

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan British Christmas Plum pudding - Veganinathens.com
Fortunately for me it was not that hard. As a true food lover, even the smell of food, the image and the taste of a juicy dessert, prepared according to authentic recipes of different countries, are enough to make me travel mentally miles away in space and time, in countries and cities that I would actually like to visit only during summer, when the temperatures raise above zero. That’ s how we started incorporating recipes, music and customs from other countries in our house, making Christmas a multicultural, peaceful day. One of our favorite recipes is the traditional English Christmas pudding.
So every year, in the last weekend of November – right, November! – me and my partner, decorate the house with colorful Christmas lights and a Christmas tree and afterwards we prepare together our vegan English Christmas pudding. It may seem too early, but according to tradition, Christmas pudding has to be prepared at least one month before Christmas, in order to age and acquire its full taste and flavor. If one month seems a lot, let’s just say that in England, they used to prepare this dessert even one year before, shortly after Christmas.
This is a recipe that really works, it is super tasty and probably noone will notice that it’s vegan. What I really like about it is that each small bite has a strong taste of Christmas, cinnamon, fruits and brandy. Even though it takes quite a lot ingredients and patience, it is really worth trying.

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan British Christmas Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 150 g. dried figs
  • 200 g. dried cranberries
  • 150 g. sultanas
  • 100 g. black raisins (or more sultanas)
  • 200 g. dried apricots
  • 150 g. candied ginger
  • 200 g. candieded citrus or orange peel
  • 125 g. mixed candied or dried fruit, with or without sugar such as pineapple, papaya, various berries, cherries
  • 2 small green apples, coarsely grated
  • 1 large carrot peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2 oranges (juice and zest)
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • 225 g. brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 100 g. margarine (I use a homemade)
  • 150 g. bread, crumbled
  • 180 g. all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 40 ml rum
  • 40 ml brandy
  • 40 ml port wine or liqueur of your choice (orange liqueur is my favorite)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

To serve

40 ml rum or brandy

Powdered sugar or “drunk” vanilla sauce

For the “drunk” vanilla sauce

  • 150 ml vegan milk (preferably homemade such as almond or coconut milk)
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp rice starch or corn starch
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 shots of rum or brandy

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

Method
1. Chop all the dried fruits (except from the cranberries and raisins which do not need to chopping) and place them in a bowl together with the flaxseed. Pour in the bowl the alcoholic beverages, mix and allow to marinate for 1 hour.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder and soda.
3. Melt margarine in a saucepan and put it in a large bowl together with the sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon and add gradually the juice of the citrus fruits and the zest. Add the dried fruit together with the remaining soaking liquid, the grated apples, the grated carrots, the crumbled bread and the flour. Stir for a while, until completely homogenized.
4. Prepare a metal pudding mould of 2 liter capacity or use two smaller of 1 liter capacity.
Brush or spray the inner of the mould with some oil or margarine and lay its bottom with a round piece of greaseproof paper, equal to the diameter of the bottom. Fill the mould up to ¾ of its volume. Cut another round piece of greaseproof paper with a diameter equal to the mouth of the mould and press with your hands to cover the dough.
5. Cover the pan with more greaseproof paper tying it around tightly, using a string suitable for food.
Place the mould in a pot of water. The water should reach the ¾ of the height of the mould.
Put to simmer for 5-6 hours on low heat, but from time to time add some boiling water in the pot as it evaporates while simmering.
6. Let cool and put in a cool and dry place (over the cupboard maybe) for one month, covered and tight with the greaseproof paper. This procedure of aging is necessary for the perfect combination of flavors. Thanks to the alcohol, sugar and dried fruit it is not going to spoil but in contrast it becomes tastier as time passes.
7. How to serve: The pudding can be served plain or sprinkled with powdered sugar or with a creamy sauce. Usually I prepare one hour before serving the vanilla sauce as follows: in a saucepan, add the milk, the sugar, the vanilla and the starch and stir to dissolve as we don’t want any lumps. Put the mixture to cook over medium heat and stir constantly until it thickens and comes to boil. Remove from heat and add the brandy, stirring constantly. Transfer the cream to a glass bowl and cover its surface with a film so as not to form crust. Boil the pudding again for about one hour before serving, with the procedure described above. Then invert on a serving platter, remove the greaseproof paper, pour with 40 ml rum or brandy and flambe. This process is very impressive and your guests will surely enjoy it! Cut into pieces and serve with the cream.

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

 

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Μυρωδάτος χαλβάς με πολέντα, σαφράν και πορτοκάλι – χωρίς ζάχαρη, χωρίς γλουτένη - Gluten free, sugar free, vegan halva with polenta, orange juice, saffron and turmeric - Vegan in Athens

Fragrant Greek halva with saffron and orange – sugar-free, gluten-free

Semolina halva is one of the most popular traditional desserts! The reason is not only the amazing taste but also its minimal cost. Subsequently it’s not weird that for centuries now, the original recipe has survived from wars, poverty and wealth and still nowadays you can find a variant of it in almost every Greek house. In the family where I grew, we used to make it often, especially during the fasting periods, always using the classic recipe “1 – 2 – 3 – 4 “, which means one cup of olive oil, two cups of wheat semolina, three cups of sugar and four cups of water.  My mother makes this delight using freshly squeezed orange juice instead of water, and for extra taste and flavor she adds a pinch of orange zest, cinnamon, raisins and walnuts.

Although the taste of my mother’s recipe is etched deeply in my memory, I usually make a lighter but extremely delicious and aromatic variant, in which I use corn meal instead of wheat semolina, agave syrup instead of sugar and last but not least I cut the oil almost in half. For extra color and to give it an oriental touch, I also add saffron and turmeric.Because this delicious dessert is very simple to make, the recipe is ideal especially in times when you need to prepare an easy, tempting dessert for your friends or your family.

Μυρωδάτος χαλβάς με πολέντα, σαφράν και πορτοκάλι – χωρίς ζάχαρη, χωρίς γλουτένη - Gluten free, sugar free, vegan halva with polenta, orange juice, saffron and turmeric - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup organic cornmeal (polenta)
  • ¾ cup agave syrup or other liquid sweetener
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 10 saffron stamens
  • ½ tsp orange zest
  • ½ cup candied orange peel chopped or chopped dried fruit of your choice, such as raisins
  • ground pistachios for garnish

 

Μυρωδάτος χαλβάς με πολέντα, σαφράν και πορτοκάλι – χωρίς ζάχαρη, χωρίς γλουτένη - Gluten free, sugar free, vegan halva with polenta, orange juice, saffron and turmeric - Vegan in Athens

Method

1. In a heavy saucepan, add the olive oil along with the cornmeal and roast over low heat. Stir for about 10 minutes with a wooden spoon, until you get a nice color and a nutty aroma. Then add the orange zest, the saffron and the turmeric and continue stirring for five more minutes.

2. Add the agave syrup and the orange juice, stirring constantly, until the halva starts to get a thick texture. Pour the candied orange peel or dried fruits and mix.

3. With a spoon transfer the halva into a cake mold (0.8-1 liter capacity) and press to equally distribute and flatten the surface. Allow to cool for about two hours and then transfer in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Unmold from the pan on a platter, garnish with the pistachios and serve.

 

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Vegan peach pie with olive oil - Βέγκαν ροδακινόπιτα με ελαιόλαδο - Veganinathens.com

A delectable, vegan “tibetan” peach pie

Books may be excellent partners while traveling, actually or mentally. There are books able to entertain us – and we don’t need to feel any guilt about it, to help us knowing better some aspects of our inner selves, to teach us, or get us out of dead ends and there books that may seem extremely boring or splendid from our perspective.

Now you may wonder what’s all this about? Well, one of the books I read the past few weeks was the famous Tom Robbins “Tibetan peach pie” and although it has definitely nothing to do with vegan recipes – not even peach pies, it obviously made me want to make a peach pie -a “tibetan” style peach pie full of love and compassion but also full of taste.

Vegan peach pie with olive oil - Βέγκαν ροδακινόπιτα με ελαιόλαδο - Vegan in Athens

In the beginning of each chapter, at least in the Greek edition, there was a tiny drawing of a piece of peach pie and while I was looking at it, I was trying to imagine how should be the peach-pie of my dreams, my own “tibetan” peach pie. The book is quite big so I had the chance to think a lot about it! First of all, I wanted a crispy and fragrant pie crust, not a ready-to-use store-bought but an easy homemade, healthy and delicious recipe. So I used extra virgin olive oil, all-purpose flour and a homemade natural vanilla extract to add flavor. For the filling, I just let nature do the miracle. I chose mature, fragrant peaches from the market and I mixed them with some starch which absorbs the tasty juices from the peaches while baking, making the filling creamy, melting in the mouth. For extra sweetness I added a small amount of muscovado sugar in both the crust and the filling.

Vegan peach pie with olive oil - Βέγκαν ροδακινόπιτα με ελαιόλαδο - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients
For the dough

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vegan milk or water
  • 1 tbsp natural vanilla extract (if not available add the same amount of orange juice)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup muscovado sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour + a little extra

For the filling

  • 1200 g ripe peaches
  • 6 tablespoons (65 g) muscovado sugar
  • 5 tbsp (50 grams) cornstarch or rice flour

Vegan peach pie with olive oil - Βέγκαν ροδακινόπιτα με ελαιόλαδο - Vegan in Athens

Method
1. Prepare the dough: In a bowl mix all the ingredients. If the dough is too soft, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of flour. Do not over-knead so as to get a nice crispy texture after baking. Form a ball with the dough, wrap it with a plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least half an hour.
2. Meanwhile prepare the filling: Wash the peaches, peel them and remove the seeds. Cut into pieces 1 centimeter thick and put them into a wide bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and cornflour and stir with a wooden spoon to evenly spread them.
3. Take the dough out of the fridge divide it in two pieces – the one should be bigger, about the 2/3 of the dough and the second the 1/3. Using a rolling pin, roll out the bigger piece on a lightly floured greaseproof paper to a thickness of ½ – 1 cm. Use the sheet to turn the dough over into the tart pan. Press with your fingers to cover the sides of the tart pan and trim excess pastry from the top edge. Spread the filling evenly over the dough.
4. Roll out the smaller piece of dough to the same thickness and cover the tart. Trim excess pastry and with wet fingers gently press the edges to seal. With a fork make several holes in the surface of the tart or cut with a knife to 5-6 points. Bake at 175 ° C for 45-50 minutes or until the surface get a nice golden colour. Let cool.

Vegan peach pie with olive oil - Βέγκαν ροδακινόπιτα με ελαιόλαδο - Vegan in Athens

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