Filed under: Drinks, Sweets | Tags: chai, chocolate, nut, rocky road, vegan
Once upon a time, in the faraway land of Australia, there was a strictly vegan Christmas celebration, up the road leading from the hamlet of Channon to Protestors Falls (which are indeed named after a group of successful environmental activists). There lived Mel and Jane, my two gorgeous Australian friends, in a house that was perched midway on a hill, like so many houses are in that region.
Northern New South Wales is full of alternative people and back – to – the – landers, colourful markets where hippies try to rip off tourists, ecovillages hidden in the bush and endless parties, with groovy music, vegan chocolate cakes and cuppas of chai. The hills grow other stuff than just eucalyptus, and that is one of the reasons for the prosperity of the local hippies. In Northern New South Wales it is not unusual at all to visit the monthly market dressed in a pair of wings, three layers of colourful skirts and curve – tipped fairy boots. And the parties! How they dance, dreadlocks flying, skirts swinging and the whole house going up and down with the beat of the didgeridoo! And afterwards, you jump with your friends into a van that runs on homemade biodiesel and drive an hour to the nearest beach, to have a plunge in the moonlit waves.
Around Christmastime, I happened to be staying with Mel and Jane up the Channon road. Their house was a vegan sanctuary and they were quite strict not to allow any animal products in the house. They had decided to celebrate Christmas by holding a gathering for their friends, and prepared vegan delicacies for the occasion. There was vegan sushi, vegan mudcake and vegan rocky road on the menu, as well as vegan lasagna, if I remember correctly. Christmastime is full summer in Australia, and extremely hot, so we went with our picnic down to a little creek that runs nearby. That lazy hot afternoon with non – traditional Christmas food is still one of my funniest adulthood Christmas memories, and so since I now happened to get some vegan marshmallows I decided to remake part of the memory.
There are certainly a thousand different rocky road recipes on net, generally they contain nuts, peanut butter, turkish delight, marshmallows and chocolate in some form. The idea is to drizzle the ingredients on a non- sticky surface and then cover with melted chocolate so that everything will stick together. Mine was simply accomplished by combining all the ingredients I found in my cupboard. For some reason this chocolate is really sticky, and I’m not sure whether that’s because of the honey. If you simply melted some chocolate, the end result would certainly be less sticky, and you’d get a pretty surface with all the goodies neatly layed out, instead of boring brown bars like I did.
1 dl vegan marshmallows, cut in halves
1 dl hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 dl coarsely chopped dried apricots
1 dl dried cranberries
1 dl toasted pumpkin seed
a small handful of dried chokeberries
a small handful of cocoa nibs
150 g cocoa butter
2 dl cocoa powder
280 g organic honey
a pinch of chillipowder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp bourbon vanilla powder
2 tbsp cognac
First I sprinkled all the nuts etc. on a greased round oven pan (27 cm in diameter). Then I carefully melted the cocoa butter on low heat, and blended in the cocoa powder, spices and honey. Then I poured this mixture over the nuts and other things, and allowed it to cool down in the fridge (in a hurry? Just stick it to the freezer for 10 minutes, I have learned from Yaelian).
Chai is the favourite hippie sweet drink. I’ve never been to India, and I have no idea how the original thing is made, but I’ve learned that there are as many ways to making chai as there are hippies in the world. Basically chai is a very sweet spicy milky tea: you can make it with organic dairy milk, with rice milk, with soy milk, with coconut milk, with or without black tea. My chai is made with seven heavenly spices: ginger, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, vanilla and cardamom. I usually like a bit of black tea in it too, and for sweetening I think honey is just right. Clove is a slightly dangerous spice, so use it with caution!
5 dl water
5 dl rice milk (etc)
3 cm piece of fresh ginger, cut into rounds
5 black peppercorns
15 green cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
7 whole cloves
a dash of bourbon vanilla powder
1/4 of a whole nutmeg, chopped
1 black teabag
1 tbsp honey
Presently, I am cooking for a bunch of Alternative People of Finland. They have decided to make a movie about Kalevala – the Finnish National ephic poem – and wanting to make it hit the box offices big time too. They just went to do some shooting to an island, and among the food that I made for them was this little hippie treat:
Mint Chocolate Balls
(about 20 pieces)
300 g vegetable margarine
2,5 dl brown sugar
5 dl oat flakes
1 dl cocoa powder
1 dl fresh peppermint (chopped)
2 dl grated coconut
This is so simple to make: I chopped the mint finely, mixed all the ingredients, and then made balls of it, and rolled them a bit on plate that was filled with grated coconut.
We’ll see about the movie…
Filed under: Sweets | Tags: dessert, halva, indian, rose water, semolina, strawberry
First, in order to avoid confusion, there are two types of halva: Indian halva, which is kind of a pudding made of semolina, and Arabian halva, which is a sweet made of sesame seeds. Indian halva is one of my all time favourites, when I’m cooking in a hurry for big crowds. It can quite easily be made for like a hundred people in a 10 liter pan. Besides, hippies love it! The idea of halva was presented to me by an ex – Krishna devotee when I was working in an ecovillage in Central Finland.
This particular recipe I invented last summer for a hippie – festival catering. For the hippies I shaped balls of the halva, since it was easy to serve like that, and hippies generally love to eat anything that is in a form of a ball (why that is so I cannot tell). Though, it can also be made a so that the consistency is a bit runnier and then served with a spoon. Rosewater can be obtained in Asian stores and at the chemist’s, but I have sometimes used a brand of organic rosewater (Julia Lawless Aqua Oleum), which was definetely the best, since it smells most like real roses.
Rose is an edible flower, and a very decorative one too! Though it’s good to remember to take out the white part of the petals, since it is bitter. I usually collect the petals of Japanese rose or rosa rugosa which grows very all over the place in Finland, and blooms from June to August.
Halva with Rosewater and Strawberries
4 dl semolina
1,5 dl grated coconut
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp bourbon vanilla powder
3 dl brown sugar
2,5 dl oil (anything that doesn’t have a very distinguished taste, I used canola)
3 dl oat milk
2 tbsp rose water
250 g frozen strawberries
This halva is made in a cooking pan. I started by toasting the semolina on dry pan for about ten minutes, stirring it all the time, in order to avoid burning. When the semolina was very slightly yellow – brownish, I added the coconut, spices and sugar, stirred hastily and then quickly added the oil, milk and strawberries and the rose water. Then I turned down the heat and covered the pan with a lid, and let it simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. I was using frozen strawberries, so I guess it would go faster, if you used fresh ones. I shaped the halva by pressing it to tiny bowl and then turning it over on a plate, kind of in the same way children make sandcakes. I decorated the halva with rose petals, grated coconut and freeze – dried strawberries. It could also be sprinkled with rose water, to enhance the taste and smell.