Thursday, July 21, 2011

Potato-Mash Quiche is a project to publish vegan recipes and to promote a vegan lifestyle. More or less it is a vegan blogger's union. People with or without blogs post their vegan recipes here.
It's sister site  is a wealth of information about all things concerning an ethical lifestyle, from articles to shopping advice and  current events (mainly in Italy of course).
The foodblog produces so many recipes and ideas that you just can't bookmark them anymore - way too many. But now and then I just have to try one out, so last weekend I made this  'Quiche 3P (panna, patate, and peperone which means cream, potatoes, and bell pepper) from Alice.
You see I had to rename the quiche since '3P' is not working in English and I used some other ingredients anyway; hence I called mine a potato-mash quiche what it in essence is. Thanks for the recipe Alice, it was a wonderful dish which will be on our table more than once, since you can so easily modify it :)

And here comes the recipe in English with my adaptations:

Potatoe-mash quiche (1 pie shell)


1 package frozen vegan puff pastry sheets
150 ml vegetable cooking cream (I used soy)
3 floury potatoes (like Kind Edward or Desiree)
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 fennel bulb, cut in slices and blanched
herbal salt, pepper, turmeric to taste
olive oil (optional)

What to do:

  • Let thaw the puff pastry, and preheat the oven to 200° C. Arrange pastry sheets in a greased pie shell (you will need an at least 1-2 cm high border)
  • Boil and mash the potatoes, add salt and spices and mix in the soy cream.
  • Carefully fold in your vegetables.
  • Fill into your pie crust and level out.
  • Drizzle some olive oil on top and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Enjoy hot or cold

Next time I will add some more veggies like green onions, corn, peas ... whatever you fancy or have in your fridge. You could also experiment a bit with your spices. The mash is a wonderful collecting pond for all kinds of veggies. A very versatile and tasty dish.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Milan in one day

Assume you have one day's time to explore Milan. Where are you going? What are you doing? Where to eat (in a vegetarian sort of way)?

Well this is what we did: Milan in one day

Take the train from Varenna at Lake Como and get for ridiculously few money (compared to the totally overpriced German railway) in about 1 hour to Milan.

Take the underground and get off at the most famous place in Milan, the Cathedral. It is hardly avoidable to somehow come across the cathedral since a lot of streets are radiating from or circling the ancient city centre. Since il Duomo di Milano is also the largest cathedral in Italy (yes, St. Peter's in Rome isn't a cathedral) it was of course a must and our starting point. Inside you can admire the huge stained glass panes

or suck in the atmosphere

Outside the cathedral you can enjoy modern art, I especially liked this installation which is only a temporary one and probably gone by now. Gives me the feeling I'm sharing a secret with the lucky ones that could see it *hehe*. Anyway, 'Il muro del sale' (the salt wall) was created by Domenico Paladino and actually consists of salt. You might call it 'quick'salt, since some horses have already sunken into the muro del sale.

The cathedral's exterior is quite impressive, too, especially if you look for the more minute details. Aren't the ancient myths ghastly?

or at least bizarre?

Next to the cathedral is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II with its famous glass dome. It is said that the iron construction was the inspiration for the Eiffel tower.

The shopping gallery connects the cathedral with the Piazza della Scala, so you have to walk along the domed High Street, which is expensive but also fun since you can watch the people scuffling around or drinking coffee in one of the many cafes in Milan. We could even watch workers (artists?) repairing the mosaicked floor.

When you leave the gallery you will find a memorial for one of Milan's most famous citizens, Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo was actually called to Milan by the Duke of Milan in 1482 and was commissioned with many projects for the Duke; he stayed in Milan for the next 17 years until the Second Italian War when he moved to Venice.

The actual Scala theatre right opposite the memorial was quite unspectacular from the outside. I expected a more plush and lavish building. Maybe I can return one day and study the insides :)

Then walk slowly back to the next subway station but this time use the narrow alleys and you will find more curiosities, like this lingerie shop:

In any case you should go to Santa Maria delle Grazie, not only is it on the Unesco Heritage List, but it also houses the famous painting by Leonardo, the Last Supper. If you haven't pre-booked a visit you will not be able to actually watch the painting, but you can at least say that you were very very close to it. It is in the refectory on the left-hand side of the church and Dominican convent, which is precisely cut off from my photo.

And this is what you will probably miss (at least we did):

Now that you are tired and exhausted spend some time in 10 Corso Como, a trendy shopping centre with an even more trendy webpage (so click on it) and a beautiful café where you can relax in a zen-like style. They have a fantastic asssortment of Asian tea, so you really feel zen-ish.
If you skip the lunch and coffee you might arrive just in time at the Castello Sforzesco to visit one of the museums. If they are just closing you will still get some pretty nice impressions.

This was a fun poster from an exhibition (in a vegetarian sort of way); tormented animals, pupils, patients, and even nature give their tormentors a taste of their own medicine. Pigs are slaughtering humans, horses are forcing their riders to jump over fences ...

Don't miss the Castello Sforzesco Fountain just in front of the entrance:

Hungry now? Try the little restaurant Rosmarino in Viale Pasubio 16; a nice and informal place with a vegan buffet and free tea and water. Feel free to enjoy a glass of wine before you have to head back to the railway station for the last train back to Varenna :)


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Green Lentil and Tomato Curry

This is a recipe I got from Molly's blog feel good, feel well which has been discontinued and I fear the recipe got lost somewhere in the blogosphere, which is a pity, since it is a very very tasty lentil recipe. Her new blog is called flyg fly lila nyckelpiga (fly fly little ladybird) and although it is in Swedish well worth a visit (if you can't read Swedish you can always use the google translator).
But back to the recipe; I only had to make few adaptations to veganize it, mainly exchanging the crème fraîche with soy creme and lemon juice. I very much liked the addition of dried apricots which gave the dish a very fine note.

So here is my vegan version:


oil for cooking
1 onion, finely diced
about 8 dried apricots, cut into thin slices
curry powder (or homemade garam masala)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons soy creme
1/2 a teaspoon lemon or lime juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup dry Puy lentils
some Thai basil for garnish (optional)

What to do:
  1. Wash and soak lentils for 2 to 3 hours; boil until tender.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan, fry the onions until golden.
  3. Add the pepper, apricots, and curry powder and stir for a minute or so.
  4. Add tomato paste and stir well.
  5. Add chopped tomatoes, soy creme, lemon juice, and mustard and cook for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the lentils and adjust with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Garnish with some Thai basil.
  8. Serve on basmati rice.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Vintner-AND-Garden Pizza

Yes, it is all in the AND.
The other day I wanted to make a pizza for C and me (he is much better by the way) but was to late for a yeast dough because we were shopping. But I remembered a yeast-free dough on Barbara's blog Barbaras Spielwiese. Inspired by a Roman pizza (she loves to travel, especially by boat ship) she prepared a lovely variant back at home. This time the dough is just made from olive oil, white wine (or water), flour, and salt. So I tried out her really yummy recipe with a vintner's dough which you can find in German here.

This is my version, full of garden veggie goodyness:

Barbara kindly allowed me to post the recipe, so here it is:

Vintner-AND-Garden Pizza
(slightly adapted after Barbara's Gemüse-Pizzaschnitten aus Winzerteig)

Ingredients (dough):
150 ml (3/4 US cup) olive oil
150 ml dry white wine (I used plain water)
375 g (3 US cups) spelt or wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredients (top):
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 chile pepper
salt, pepper to taste
herbes de Provence
1 small fennel bulb
1 courgette
10-15 yellow cherry tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
cheese (mozarella, cheddar, a vegan cheeze or try Wagashi Maniac's miso-fermented vegan Cashew Cheese)

What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 180-200°C.
  2. For the dough, knead all ingredients together and let rest in fridge.
  3. Combine chopped tomatoes, crushed garlic, minced chile pepper , salt, pepper, and herbs in a bowl and mix well.
  4. Half the fennel bulb and cut each half in stripes, blanche them in boiling water and drain. Cut courgette in slices, cut the bell pepper in stripes, and half the cherry tomatoes.
  5. Roll out dough on a baking tray, distribute the tomato-herb mixture evenly on the dough. Add the vegetablesand bake for about 10 minutes.
  6. Top the pizza with cheese and fresh oregano and bake for a further 10 minutes.
You can use any vegetable combination you like. I used what I had on hand, so go on and experiment a bit :)

Friday, July 08, 2011

Stuffed globe courgette

C is ill. He is lying around with tonsillitis and an earache :(
So I wanted to cook something special; it should be soft so the swallowing wouldn't become too hard and it shouldn't be too spicy or sour to not irritate his already inflamed throat. Plus it should contain antiseptic ingredients like onion, garlic, thyme.

I remembered a wonderful recipe I found at Béa's blog La Tartine Gourmande, 'Globe zucchini flavored with marjoram and stuffed with sweet potato'. The recipe (which is alas not vegetarian) can be found here. Apart from inspiring recipes (after all she is a real pro, her recipes appeared in food magazines, books and on French TV), her beautiful photos are really worth visiting her blog.
So I decided to roll up my sleeves and start veganizing her recipe. I couldn't find Japanese sweet potato, so I used ordinary orange fleshed sweet potatoes. Instead of ham I used chopped up sundried tomatoes and replaced the egg with a spoonfull of vegan mayonnaise.

And this is the result: super delicious stuffed globe courgette (remainders of the stuffing on the side).

And here is the vegan version:

Stuffed globe courgette
serves 2


3 small globe courgette
1 sweet potato, grated on the coarse side of your grater
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 celery branches, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped marjoram
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon thyme leaves (scrape them gently from the stalks with a knife, or bundle up and remove after cooking)
herbal salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for frying
zest of lemon, finely grated
2 tablespoons vegan parmesan (you can use gomasio or chopped roasted pine nuts or omit altogether)
4 halves sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 180° C.
  • Slice a small piece off at the top of the courgette and set aside. Scoop the flesh out with a teaspoon. Make sure you don't scrape through the shell! Chop the flesh of the courgette and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a pan and add onion, celery, lemon zest, and thyme. Fry over medium heat for a couple of minutes; don't forget to stir or your onions will burn!
  • Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add grated sweet potato and courgette flesh. Stir well, cover with a lid and let simmer for 10 minutes or so.
  • Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, vegan parmesan (if using), and mayonnaise. Season carefully with herbal salt and pepper. It shouldn't need too much salt.
  • Stuff the courgette shells with this mixture and place the preserved top back on top of the courgette. Place in an oven proof dish.
  • Drizzle olive oil over the courgette and add half a cup of cold water
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until courgette is soft (prick the shell with a sharp knife).
  • Season the jus with some herbal salt, pour it over the courgette, and serve with rice or French Bread
  • Enjoy :)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A trip to Rupe Magna

Rupe Magna is the Italian name for a rock art panel near the Castello Visconti Venosta, a 14th century castle in Grosio. To pep up our holidays we decided to throw in some archaeology and went to see Rupe Magna which was a mere 2 hours drive away from Varenna. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day and it also drizzled a bit, which is really really bad for rock art which is best seen with a morning or evening sun when the sun rays fall upon it in an oblique angle and carve deep shadows. Since the weather didn't seem to change for the better we went there anyway. The site was beautiful with the huge rock panel stretching outside of the castle walls.

This is the castle or what is left of it:

In proper weather you can see that the rock panel is engraved over and over with cupules and figures: (fig. 7)

Here is a motif with arcs, maybe a tent or hut, or something completely different :)
What you can see on a rainy day is this:

Maybe you can see the figures better with some digital help:

If you want to know more about Rupe Magna have a look here.

If you want to see one more photo of how beautiful the area was, you can watch it here:

When we came back home, bags full of wine, Valtellina's very own polenta (with buckwheat), carrot jam, and of course crostate (jam filled cakes) we had a fantastic pizza in Varenna just besides the lake. While having a vegan pizza with radicchio paste as base instead of a tomato base and green asparagus. Lovely! And on top we could watch the monster of Lake Como (or rather C because he made the photo while the rest of us fed upon tiramisù and crostata. See the monster between the boats?