Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Microwave Viennese biscuits

Instant biscuits ... almost. Yes, microwave cooking is cheating but these turned out pretty well and I'm happy to cheat for a quick fix! They're sweet, soft and melty but you have to get the cooking time right otherwise they burn in the centre and you don't know until you take a bite!

Microwave Viennese biscuits

6 dsp flour
6 dsp margarine
3 dsp icing sugar
2 dsp cornflour

Mix everything together and shape into biscuits. Microwave for four minutes. Leave to stand for a minute and then test a biscuit. It should be a little crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. The centre will firm up when it cools. Put them in for another minute if necessary but don't overcook them.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Cashew cheese, apple muffins and pink kittens

This is my version of Dreena Burton's pasta with truffled cashew cheese. I thought it looked good so I decided to make it before I realised that we don't have any conchiglie pasta so I couldn't stuff the cheese inside shells. Instead I layered the cashew cheese in a dish with pasta which I'd tossed in Waitrose tomato and chilli pasta sauce (which tastes like Heinz tomato soup and that's no bad thing!). Then I topped the dish with more sauce, truffle oil and capers and baked for half an hour. It turned out amazing. My photos don't do it justice but it was lovely. I'll definitely make the truffled cashew cheese again. It would be good in so many things.

Since the oven was hot, I also made some apple muffins.

As for the pink kittens, well I have a bit of an obsession with Crawford's Pink Wafers. I eat them a lot! Recently I got to thinking, if I covered them in chocolate, could I make Kit Kats? I used to love Kit Kats but they're made with milk chocolate. I was so excited when they started making dark chocolate ones but then I saw that they're not vegan either. These home made ones are really gorgeous. My cousin has dubbed them Pink Kittens - Thanks Sam!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Padron peppers

Today I saw padron peppers in Waitrose. They were reduced to clear so I thought I'd give them a go. They're fab! I fried them in olive oil for about 4 minutes until the skins blistered and then sprinkled with salt, which is what was suggested on the back of the bag. Most of them weren't hot at all, a couple of them were a little bit hot, and one was properly hot. Chris got that one but he let me share it :) I'll definitely buy these again if I see them!

We had the peppers alongside grilled courgettes over millet which I cooked up with carrots, onions, smoked paprika, tomato puree, nooch and vegan cheese. This made a really tasty, cheesy stodge. I topped it all with pine nuts and then took some really rubbish pictures on my phone because I couldbn't wait to eat it. It was reeeally good.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Using dried beans

Another of Chris's creations - courgettes fried with cannellini beans, tofu, tomato puree, soy sauce and miso on top of basmati rice. It was really yummy comfort food.

The cannellini beans were bought dried. We soaked them overnight and boiled them for 40 minutes before using them.Soaking and boiling beans is a bit of a pain but we did a big load of them so now we have plenty in the fridge, ready to use for other things. Not only are they really cheap but they're handy for adding protein to our meals and our baby's meals too. She eats such a a small amount that sometimes it's difficult to think what to make for her. If I have cooked beans ready, I can just take a few out of the fridge and mash them up. She loves them with cous cous, avocado, toast ...

Friday, 23 October 2009

Dubious dosas and malignant masala mix

The offenders:

The offenders again, this time prepared and poised ready to attack:

We bought instant dosa mix and chana masala spice mix recently. Gakk! Saltiest things ever! I ate one and a half and then had to give up and drink four pints of water. We still have most of the bloody stuff left in the cupboard. Although it is probable that the saltiness may have been down to mismeasurement of ingredients (we used spinach instead of chickpeas so there was a lot less bulk), I'm reluctant to use the rest because if I taste this stuff again I might recall the sensation of crumbling into dust that I had the other night. I think we should stick with making dinners from scratch for a while.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Mighty fine pasta

Chris made a yummy dinner tonight: pasta with brocolli, avocado and a spicy tomato sauce made with tinned tomatoes, onion, chillies and paprika - all whilst I was working hard* on the computer.

* yes, okay, I am addicted to Facebook. Isn't everyone?

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Apple cinnamon muffins

This was another recipe from La Dolce Vegan. The book was a gift recently from a very kind friend so I've been testing out some recipes from it. I won't include the recipe here because it doesn't already seem to be on the web anywhere but I recommend the book because the recipes I've tried have been really good - these muffins included, they're ace!
The only complaint I have of the book is that there are no food photos in it, only photos of the author and her mates. Vivacious, charming and elaborately tatooed though she is, I want to see the food!! Anyone have photos of recipes they've made from this book? Maybe I could print them and stick them in!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Cornbread muffins and semifreddo

Got a new muffin tray! To celebrate I made the cornbread from La Dolce Vegan and made it into muffin shapes instead of a loaf. They were pretty good with a lovely texture but I didn't add sugar because I don't like sweet cornbread. Next time I'll add something savoury instead of sugar, maybe Braggs or miso, because they were a little bland this time around. With that, I made some veggies in a creamy sauce. I had mine with tommy ketchup too but I didn't photograph that!

Semifreddo seems to mean many different things depending where in Italy or the world you are. We've been to Turin a few times and Chris loves the semifreddo you get there. I've never seen a vegan version of it so I've never had it but whenever Chris has it it looks really good and he raves about it. This was my attempt at replicating it ...

I whizzed up Raspberry Swedish Glace, Cremovita vegan whipped cream, chocolate chips and my favourite biscuits, pink wafers. I asked Chris if it was anything like semifreddo and he said,  'Not really'. It was a bit like Angel Delight though, which I have been craving recently, so I was happy! Next time I'm going to try it with vanilla ice cream and chunks of cake to hopefully get it closer to semifreddo di Torino.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Cafe Kino

Yesterday was an excellent day. We had a fun day out to Bristol which included a mooch around Ikea, a visit to the flashy new Cabot Circus shopping centre and, above all, a leisurely lunch at the all-vegan Cafe Kino. I read about this place on and have been wanting to go ever since. Bristol is quite close to where we live and I was quite shocked to find out that this cafe has been there three years and I'd never been there. The food was lovely, the staff were very sweet and there was a roaring fire too. We both ordered the Kino Burger with chips and salad. The burger was tasty and spicy in a big granary bap with relish and mayo. The chips were fat and crispy with the potato skins still on and the salad was really tasty with sun dried tomato, crunchy seeds and lots of yummy dressing.

Afterwards, despite being stuffed already, we had to order a piece of chocolate cake each. The cake was as delicious as it looked but we could only manage sharing one piece and taking the other home with us. It's a good job we didn't order it with ice cream (I was tempted to because I've never been offered vegan ice cream in a cafe before!)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Pie and mash

Thank you, vegan mofoers for introducing me to the concept of pandowdy. It looks yummy. I wanted to make something quite quick this evening and we had shop-bought pastry in the freezer ready to go, so I thought I'd try a savoury pandowdy. One problem, the shop-bought pastry just looked so neat and tidy I couldn't go through with smashing it up! I started to make some paltry slits with a knife but left it there. Perhaps I should make a pandowdy with home-made pastry. My pastry is generally so unattractive that ruining it won't be an issue.

Anyway, the pie was good. It had onions, peppers, courgettes, capers, tomatoes, rosemary, basil, garlic and chilli. We had it, traditionally enough, with mashed potato which, less traditionally, was dotted with cubed avocado. Top scrum.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Spicy gumbo and more dumplings

Last Thursday I had spring greens and okra in the fridge so I decided to make a big gumbo with rice and gungo peas.
Spicy Gumbo

1 head spring greens, coarsley chopped
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 courgette, sliced
1 can chopped tomatoes (400g)
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup hot sauce
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp of each of the following dried herbs: thyme, oregano, basil and parsley
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 heaped tsp vegetable bouillon powder
1 1/2 cups chopped okra
1 can blackeye beans (400g)

Cover the greens in boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, make a roux by combining the oil and flour and stirring over a medium to high heat until reddish brown (about 20 minutes).
Set the greens (don't drain them yet) and the roux aside.

In a little oil, fry the remaining vegetables and the tomatoes for about 10 minutes. Add the hot sauce, garlic, cayenne and herbs and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the roux and greens (including their cooking water). Add the bouillon powder and more boiling water if necessary to cover all the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the okra and blackeye beans and cook for at least 10 minutes more but longer if you've got time.

The gumbo is even better if it's had time to stand and it's best the next day and it freezes well too. On Sunday we finished off the gumbo with another batch of dumplings like the ones I made to go with the goulash (because they're so good).

inside shot of yummy dumplings ...

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Vanquished by potato pizza

This is my favourite pizza base. We got the recipe from the Big Issue earlier this year.

This evening Chris made my beloved spud pizzas and three large slices had charmed their way into my mouth before I remembered how filling it is. I'm now rendered sideways on the sofa, typing with one hand. This pizza is so good. Every time Chris makes it I just can't stop eating until it hurts. The base is thick and moist but crusty round the edges. Chris's topping is cooked down passata, chilli, olive oil and garlic, then with olives, capers and cheezly on top.

Spud pizzas (from the Big Issue)

1 1/2 lbs (600g) potatoes
6-8 very heaped tbsp strong bread flour
2 tbsp olive oil

Cook and mash the potatoes. Mix everything together in a large bowl. Press the dough into an oven tray and cook at 220c for 20 mins until crisp and browned. Add toppings and bake for another 15-20 minutes.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Jillypoos' goulash

Well I set myself a challenge to blog every day in October and failed in the first week! Our lovely baby had her first cold and has been sniffling through the evenings when she usually sleeps. She's well again today. Deep joy!

I did manage to find the time to make a wonderful goulash on Wednesday. It's my friend Jill's recipe and I make it quite often because it always comes out perfectly. It's worth making the dumplings too because they're amazing, especially with fresh basil in them. Chris made the dumplings on Wednesday but we'd eaten them all before I managed to take a photo. This photo is my Thursday's lunch, goulash and toast. Mmmm.


1 large handful of TVP chunks
1 parsnip, chopped small
2 carrots, chopped small
1 onion , chopped small
2 medium potatoes, chopped small
1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
3 tbsp tomato purée
3 tsp paprika
1 pint veg. stock
200 ml plain soya yogurt

Cover the soya chunks with water (and bouillon powder if the chunks are unflavoured) in a bowl and microwave for 6 minutes. In a large saucepan, fry onion, parsnip and carrots in oil for 8 mins then add the drained soya chunks, tomatoes, tomato purée and paprika.

Cook for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Float dumplings in the goulash at this point. Simmer for 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Turn off the heat, add the yoghurt, stir through and serve.

Basil dumplings

4 oz self raising flour
2 oz vegetable suet
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp fresh chopped basil

Mix the ingredients together and add enough water to bind. Shape into 6-8 balls and cook for 30 minutes in the goulash.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The endless longing

Twenty years. TWENTY years without Angel Delight. Oh how I ache for its whipped strawberry bliss. Oh how my heart breaks every time I see those little sachets in the supermarket and know that they're not vegan. Why do they put milk protein in it? You add milk to the stuff. There's no need for milk to already be in it is there? I wish that they would change the ingredients or that someone would invent something similar that's vegan and I can add soya milk to. I do not miss Dairylea. I do not miss Quality Street. I do not miss Cornettos. I miss Angel Delight. :'-(

Monday, 5 October 2009

Chocolate mug cake

So I carved my first pumpkin of the year. Okay, so he's not a work of art but I think he's sweet. I tried to make him extra friendly looking so as not to frighten Tabitha.

This evening I really fancied pudding, more specifically, chocolate cake. I had a lot of stuff to do so baking a cake wasn't an option. Fortunately I have this killer recipe for chocolate mug cake. It takes just three minutes from walking into the kitchen to skipping back out again with your cake. I use white flour and leave out the sugar because the drinking chocolate is sweet enough. I wish I had known about this recipe when I was a student. I used to save money by not buying chocolate and making chocolate cake instead. But then I used to also save time so that I would have more time to study (ha ha, blatant lie) by microwaving it instead of baking it. It was usually just about edible but certainly not delicious. But then my chocolate cravings were so strong that I'd have eaten anything with cocoa in. I even ate it once when I managed to melt the cake into the plastic plate I'd used. I did eat round the melted bit. Anyway, chocolate mug cake - very nice and definitely worth making and far better than my student efforts.

P.S. The cream in the photo is cashew cream. I won't link to the recipe because it wasn't actually all that great! I'm on the look out for a better one.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Pumpkin soup

Yesterday we bought our first pumpkin of the year. I love pumpkins. Bringing home a pumpkin, to me, is like bringing home a Christmas tree (for people who like bringing home Christmas trees!) It makes me feel all festive and warm. This evening I scooped it out and made a big pumpkin soup which we had with fat sarnies made from nice Waitrose bread, home-grown tomatoes, cheezly and basil. Pumpkin carving tomorrow. Yaay!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

How to eat an avocado

Patronising post title - sorry! I just wonder whether anybody else eats avocados like this. I've never seen anyone do it outside of my family. Half the avocado, remove the stone and fill the hole with olive oil and cider vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and eat with a teaspoon. It's best with some white bread and margarine too. Mmmm, this is one of my very favourite things.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Coffee and pasties

We had a lovely time this afternoon, meeting up with my sister and niece in Costa Coffee. I love their soya lattes but the selection of vegan things to eat is weak. The only vegan thing I've found there is their ginger cookies. Fortunately the cookies are good.

For tea this evening I made a batch of pasties with yesterday's stew. I do not make pretty pasties! They were tasty though. I'm a lazy cook so my pastry recipe is as simple as it gets. I've posted it below. Chris dug up a load of potatoes from the garden so I made some chips by slicing them small, tossing them in olive oil and fajita seasoning and baking. We also had spring greens which I love.

340g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
135 ml oil
100ml - 135ml water

Mix the dry ingredients and then stir in the oil and 100ml water. Add more water if needed until you get a dough. Roll out between two sheets of cling film or greaseproof paper. This makes it easier to roll and also saves covering your work surface and rolling pin with flour so less cleaning up!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

My first post!

I love vegan food blogs. I spend hours reading lindy loo's rants, getting inspiration from Sal and drooling over Emmie's photos (to name just a few of the brilliant bloggers whose sites I'm addicted to). I don't think I have what it takes to be a good blogger. I don't generally have much to say. But I've been inspired by the idea of veganmofo. I want to join in. So just for October, I'm going to give it a go. My aim is to post about what I'm cooking and eating, hopefully post some nice recipes, and just sort of stand up and be counted. I've been vegan for almost twenty years now and I just love how much more commonplace veganism is now. The fact that some things are actually labelled vegan in the supermarket and that there are so many great vegan cookbooks available now is really exciting. So rather than sitting back and quietly being vegan, I'm going to talk about it for a while. If you've stumbled across this blog then I'd love to know what you think but please be nice because it's my first day!

Breakfast this morning was porridge, made with rice milk. I stirred in a spoonful of fruit spread to sweeten it. I'd usually use jam but we've just begun weaning our six-month old daughter, Tabitha, so I'm going for the healthy option at the moment. The spread contains only pear, apricot and apple. I feared it might be a bit 'worthy' when I bought it but it's actually lovely in porridge.

Tabitha LOVES porridge and fruit spread. She didn't manage quite all of the little bowl on the right but she ate a good three quarters of it before she stopped thumping her feet on the floor and gaping her mouth at me for more.

Lunch was tortilla wraps filled with butter beans that I fried up with some ready-made fajita spice, tomatoes from our greenhouse and leftover rice. I charred the wraps over a gas flame and wrapped them up with some salsa verde that I made from my friends' tomatillo harvest. Thanks Lu and Nick! The salsa verde was pretty good, although not quite as nice as the stuff I've had in America. Still it was fantastic to have some because I've never seen it for sale in England and you can't buy tomatillos either.

This afternoon we had thumbprint cookies which I made yesterday :)

Dinner this evening was the most fantastic veggie stew with some lovely granary bread. It was the sort of thing you dream about when you've been on holiday for a while and you've been having fun but eating crap and you just can't wait to get home and eat something hearty and healthy. Here's what I did.

Veggie Stew

2 heaped tsp cumin
olive oil
2 dried chillies
1 onion
1 leek
1 head of brocolli
2 carrots
2 medium potatoes
1 clove garlic
2 heaped tsp bouillon powder
1 handful  red lentils
1 large handful fresh coriander

Fry the cumin in a little olive oil. After about a minute, add the chopped dried chillies and the sliced onion. Once the onion is soft, add a leek, brocolli, carrots, potatoes and garlic. I chopped everything large except the potatoes which I wanted to disintegrate a bit. Cover with boiling water and bring it back to the boil. Add the bouillon powder and a handful of red lentils. Simmer for half an hour and then add a large handful of chopped fresh coriander before serving.