Call it a mashup, call it a fusion or just call it Ethiopian inspired shepherds pie.
With a cupboard full of lentils, sprouting spuds and some Ethiopian Berbere spice well past its use-by date, the idea of combining all these came to me. I decided to make over an English classic: shepherds pie. Typically made with ground meat and vegetables, I did my own meatless version using some Ethiopian pantry staples.
In a very small nutshell, or should I say teff grain, cook onion, garlic, carrot, peas, teff grains, tomatoes, red lentils, water, salt, a bit of honey, oil, vinegar and some Berbere spice. Set aside. Steam regular and sweet potatoes then mash with some liquid (grain/nut milk) and salt. Place lentil mixture in a greased casserole dish, then top with mashed potatoes. Spread with an offset spatula to smooth out the top. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven and bake until the edges of the potato start to turn crispy, about 25 minutes.
Legumes, mushrooms, ground nuts and the ubiquitous soy products (tempeh and tofu) always make substantial protein substitutes for meat in any recipe. If you’re looking for some fusion inspiration, check out the following link for some ideas.
A funny thing happened on the way to the chocolate mousse…I made chocolate truffle.
When I chose to mix Italian aquafaba meringue with melted dark chocolate I ended up with a thick rather than airy mixture. The intended mousse become the ideal consistency for a truffle. I should have taken more time and peeked at some recipes on the net to remind myself that aquafaba chocolate mousse should not be made with a heated sugar syrup.
As usual I found a use for the would-be mousse. I mixed it with coconut caramel, rolled it into little balls then coated them with icing sugar. (Now are there any left to take a picture of…?) Some of the truffle mix became the focal point of my heart-shaped mini pie, a very fashionably late entry to the Valentine’s Day party.
So in keeping with the theme of “I have a bunch of leftover ingredients, now what?’ I cobbled together the following sugar weekend treat.
There are three layers to my edible heart: the pie ‘crust’ is made of leftover vegan sugar cookie dough; the chocolate layer is my aquafaba chocolate truffle; and in between is the leftover low-sugar raspberry jam I used in my Remembrance Day poppy cookies.
For those of you not wishing to accidentally make an aquafaba chocolate truffle mix, here is the recipe I used (more or less). Whether it turns out the same or not, you can always find a use for melted chocolate mixed with sugar.
Drain the liquid from a small can (355mL) of chickpeas into a mixing bowl. This is the aquafaba. Add a pinch of xanthan gum/cream of tartar then, using a motorized whisk attachement, whip into a voluminous, white, stiff-peaked frenzy. During the whipping process, heat 1/3 cup granulated sugar and ¼ cup water over medium heat. When the mixture gets to 248°F (use a candy thermometer to check), remove from heat, then pour slowly down the side of the bowl containing the aquafaba. While pouring make sure the whipping is happening at low speed. Once done, turn speed to high and continue whisking until sugar syrup is fully incorporated and mixture turns glossy. Add a splash of vanilla extract then mix until combined. Meanwhile, melt some dark chocolate pieces over a double boiler. When just melted, add the aquafaba meringue in two stages using a heat-proof spatula to fold it together. The mixture should set almost immediately. Use as desired and store any remainder in a covered container at room temperature.
Now what to do with the rest of the truffle mixture…
I’ve heard about them, seen pictures of them but have never eaten one. They apparently are a Kiwi favourite and have graced the table of many a bake sale. Google New Zealand cuisine and you will likely come across Afghan biscuits.
This recipe is fairly straightforward, quick and easy.
- Soften 100g (about ½ cup/8 tablespoons) of butter (dairy or coconut oil based).
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Beat butter with ¼ cup fair-trade cane sugar. Once incorporated sift in 1½ tablespoons cocoa powder then add ¼ cup unbleached white flour and ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour. Stir to combine.
- Add 3/4 cup of cornflake cereal and stir to combine. I used a sprouted maize version of cornflakes. You may need to crush the flakes a little to encourage them to stick within the dough.
- Form little balls and place on a lined baking sheet. Flatten with the palm of your hand.
- Bake about 15 minutes; let cool.
- Prepare icing by combining ½ cup sifted icing sugar, 1 tablespoon sifted cocoa powder and 1½ tablespoons of warm water. Spoon a dollop onto each cookie and top with a walnut half or flaked almonds.
*Replace one tablespoon of flour with protein powder.
*Get creative with the type of flour used (teff, spelt, amaranth…)
*Replace warm water in icing with rice/almond milk.