One of the best things about being asked to create a food pairing for sherry for International Sherry Week was the chance to try a gorgeously lush new Organic Vegan Manzanilla.
I spent a year living in Spain when I was in my early 20's and one of the loveliest things I have ever done whilst on my travels was go to a sherry bar and sample all kinds of sherries whilst standing and eating bar snacks. I can't show you any photos, because this was pre-digital camera age and loads of my photography with my point & click camera was quite frankly, pants and (fortunately) much of it is lost to time. I do however have the memory, and that memory means that I always associate sherry with sharing. Sharing food, sharing gossip & news and obviously, sharing a glass or 3 of delicious sherry wine.
We were asked to create a recipe and pair wine with food that is inspired by typically local regional food to us, or that holds meaning for you. However, I'm Aussie, I live in Britain, and to top it off, I'm vegan. So I've veganized one of my all time favourite tapas, croquettes, which since becoming vegan I have truly missed. I then decided that I also wanted to share with you one of my favourite ways to eat tomatoes, stuffed with herbs and breadcrumbs and roasted until tender, which perfectly complements the richness of the croquettes. Perfect for eating with friends.
Because I love to share....
You can read all about the sherry I was sent in my last post. It was (yes was- sorry it's ALL GONE now, I had to keep trying it you see, to check it was right to drink with the food) delicious, with hints of raisin and a dry mineral finish, perfect for cutting through fried food and for sipping on whilst chatting to friends whilst nibbling on maybe another mouthful.
The croquettes are actually a recipe I came up with a month or so ago for a friends party, and I have been meaning to post about them, however the first time I photographed them, they came out a bit of a mess, so I'm super happy that these
A) look prettier
B) can be showcased here paired with this gorgeous organic vegan Manzanilla.
They take the principal of a cheezy bechamel substitute made from cashew nuts that I used in my Moussaka recipe, to which I then added vegan chorizo (recipe coming soon!) and crumbed & deep fried. So good. So cheezy.
It's worth noting that I used a chorizo from a seitan (wheat gluten) recipe that I'm trying to perfect. It's good 'in' things but not so much on its own, so I haven't blogged about it yet. Feel use any store bought vegan seitan chorizo instead.
The alioli is from a recipe that I created a little while ago, however I've updated it slightly since then, so I'm going to include the whole new recipe here.
The tomatoes? Well, I bought some locally grown organic tomatoes at the market, however as it's nearly winter, they were a bit hard and not 100% delicious. Removing their harder core, then stuffing and roasting them really improved their flavour and made a perfect foil to the richness of the croquettes. Yums.
The padron peppers you can see in the photos were bought from the same stall as the tomatoes, mostly because I love eating them.
Vegan Chorizo Croquettes
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Vegan Chorizo Croquettes
For the Cheezy Mix
- 125 grams broken, raw cashews
- 150 grams tofu
- 3-4 tsp white miso
- 4 tsp nutritional yeast
- juice third lemon
To make the croquettes
- 50 grams vegan Chorizo sausage finely diced
- 50 grams fine bread crumbs
- sunflower oil for deep frying
- Soak the cashews for at least 1 hour in some warm water. You want them to be quite softened
- In a high speed blender, blend the cashews with a little of their soaking water until completely smooth
- Add the tofu and blend
- Add the miso, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and salt. Blend again.
- Taste to see if the mix is cheezy enough. If not, add more miso and nutritional yeast until you think it has a tangy, cheezy flavour.
- Mix in the little pieces of chorizo and put it in the coldest part of the fridge to set a bit to make the mix easier to work with.
- Put the breadcrumbs out on a plate.
- Once the mix is firmer, put a tablespoon of the mix onto the breadcrumbs. You can now roll the mix into a ball about the size of a large walnut, covering it with breadcrumbs. As the mixture picks up the crumbs it will become easy to manipulate into a ball.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan. Test to see if the oil is hot enough by dropping a crumb of bread into it. It's the right temperature when the breadcrumb sizzles and turns golden in a few seconds.
- Carefully cook the croquettes in batches, making sure they are golden on all sides. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
Herby Stuffed Tomatoes
Herby Stuffed Tomatoes
- 16 4-5 cm diameter tomatoes Try to find tomatoes that are 'bite size'
- 1 clove garlic minced finely
- 80 g panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 Tbs olive oil ½ to grease the oven tray, half for the filing.
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Pre-heat the oven to 180c / Gas Mark 6 & grease a baking tray with half the olive oil.
- With a sharp knife, cut out the stem of the tomato in a little hat shape. Keep the hat!
- With a small teaspoon, scoop out the hard core of the tomatoes and the seeds & juice. Discard the hard core, but keep the seeds and juice in a bowl.
- In the bowl with the seeds & juice of the tomatoes, mix in the herbs, breadcrumbs & nutritional yeast.
- Add half the olive oil into the filling and gently stir in until the mix comes together.
- Grease a Gently spoon the filling into the tomatoes and lay them with their little 'hats' out on the baking tray.
- Bake in the oven for around 10 mins, until the tomatoes are soft and the filling is crunchy & golden on top.
Magic Vegan Alioli
- 6 Tbs Aquafaba Aka- the cooking juice from chickpeas.
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 tsp french mustard
- 3-5 Tbs olive oil
- ½ tsp tapioca flour
- Sunflower oil/ Rapeseed oil or other neutral oil as much as you need so the mayo comes together
- pinch salt
- To prep the aquafaba, freeze it in icecube trays overnight. This somehow concentrates it and helps the mix emulsify
- Use 3 icecube tray's full of frozen aquafaba (around 6 Tbs) and pop them into a blender or food processor
- Blend until the aquafaba had melted, add the garlic and bland some more until it all starts looking foamy/creamy.
- Add the lemon juice & mustard and blend until combined.
- Add the olive oil slowly whilst blending.
- Add the sunflower oil/other neutral oil in a slow drizzle through the funnel until the mix starts looking like mayonaiise/alioli
- Taste the alioli and add extra salt, lemon or olive oil to taste. Blend again to mix.
- By now, the alioli should start to emulsify and become thick. To help it keep the emuslification, add a scant teaspoon of tapioca flour.
- Refrigerate as needed. The Alioli will end up quite 'fluffy' and creamy if you leave it in the fridge overnight.