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Another French classic is Crème Brûlée. You can swerve eggs and cream to make a really nice vegan version. You need 200g to 400g of silken tofu, 1/2 to 1 whole can coconut cream, 1 – 2 Tablespoons GMO-free corn-flour, a pinch of turmeric (the depth of colour deepens as it heats so be shy with it), plus sweetener and vanilla to taste. Put all this in a pot. Add a plant milk to get it to a thick batter. Blend well with a stick blender. Get your pot up to medium heat and cook, stirring well, until it thickens. I stir with one of those heat-proof spatulas. Quickly pour into ramekins and allow to cool. When cool, move into fridge until ready to eat. Serve cold. Just before presenting, top with a generous layer of sugar and grill. Or use one of those French blow torch gadgets that do the job. If you can’t grill, like us on the boat, then two hours before, sprinkle with a caramely golden sugar like demarera sugar or coconut blossom sugar and allow to melt in the fridge.
You can turn this into a chocolate dessert by adding, cacao powder – might have to add extra liquid – and use chocolate shavings on top instead of sugar. Or – you can add a distinctive spice – such as ground cardamom or star anise (this is when your coffee grinder proves it’s worth), then garnish your dessert with sliced fruit like nectarines or melons – doused in agave nectar – and arranged in a circular decoration on top of the ramekins.
Stone fruit abound in France. I’ve encountered assorted peaches, nectarines and plums back in South Africa. But fresh prunes and mirabelles are new to me. They’re a great choice for parfaits and vegan cheeze platters – see earlier post for recipes – as they don’t oxidise (turn brown). Stone fruit also make pretty tarts. Who knew?
Raw tarts are all the same – only different. Your base is going to be a ratio of approximately 2/3 mix of – neutral flavoured nuts, seeds or dessicated coconut (think ground almonds, desicated coconut, hazelnuts, seame seeds or chai seeds) to a 1/3 pre-soaked dates and coconut oil mix. Crush your 2/3 nuts, seeds and coconut mix either on a chopping board, a pestle and mortar or if you’re lucky enough to have one handy – a food processor. Finely ground is good, but chunky-ish is also OK. Now you want to add the 1/3 pre-soaked dates and coconut oil which will have been blended together. These last ingredients bind the base and help it set. If you can’t find dates, soaked dried figs or bananas are also good. Press into a tart base or mini tart bases and allow to set in the fridge.
For a creamy fruit filling you’re wanting 1/3 soaked cashew nuts, 1/3 coconut oil and 1/3 fruit such as pineapple, mango or fresh berries. Plus sweeteners and maybe spices or vanilla for taste. If you add a touch of lemon juice it give more of a cheese cake flavour. Blend well and check the flavours before pouring into your base and allowing to set in the fridge. Garnish with fresh fruit.
I made a raw stone fruit tart using ground almonds, desicated coconut, dates and coconut oil for the base. Since we don’t have tart tins on the boat I pressed the base into a ring mould. For the filling I chopped stone fruit, tossed it in lemon juice and then drained it well. Next I added a small amount (too much and it’s gritty) of finely milled flaxseeds and placed the fruit over my bases. I used a knife to loosen the base from the mould and served it straight from the fridge.
I’m not able to say exactly which beers are safe. Most places in France have a large variety of Belgian beers. And we think that’s a good thing. Just like the French get wine. The Belgians, without doubt, make the best beer in the world. I know from drinking wine back home in South Africa that most red wines are vegan. As a rule I choose reds bit I also happen to prefer red wine. Even on a sweltering hot day. We love trying different wines and there are so many to choose from. We usually buy a few supermarket Own-Brand wines which are well priced. But we also look out for organic wines. You can find a nice organic wine for as little as €5 to €6. When eating out we ask for Vin Ordinaire which is usually a regional wine and have yet to be disappointed.
The techniques mentioned here are simple. We aim to eat 50% raw food. Our experience, and that of those we’ve been on raw food courses with, is 100% raw includes far too many nuts which are heavy on the liver – and fattening. Legumes and soy products are excellent low calorie protein sources. I don’t believe you should avoid them, although they do need to be cooked well. If you’re cooking legumes from scratch – ignore the Old Wives Tale – DON’T add acids while cooking. No vinegar, lemon juuce or tomato puree. It inhibits the cooking of legumes causing them to be less digestible. Add those after cooking. And throw away the soaking water. The indigestibles go with that water making them much easier on the gut.
Hopefully you will be able to take what I have learned to make your own yummy food. At the very least, I hope I’ve helped you see how easy it is to make a vast range of vegan meals.