Monday, 28 December 2009

Spiced biscuits Chritsmas gifts

A quick request first before we move on to the serious business of BISCUITS. Please vote to get a vegan cookery programme onto channel 4! I just got an email from my sister about this. It's a competition to get a short documentary onto channel 4 and one of the entries is a vegan cooking show. It seems to be in the lead at the moment but please vote to keep it there because it'd be a fantastic way to raise awareness of vegan cooking in the UK: You do have to sign up to vote but it's a very quick form.

Okay, now biscuits.

I wanted to make some gifts this year for my neighbours so I bought a few mugs, filled them with homemade spiced biscuits and covered the mugs with cellophane and fancy ribbons and rosettes. I struggled to find cellophane but eventually found it in our local art shop. I think they looked pretty good. Here were the biscuits that went inside. I used star cutters of different sizes to make biscuits which would stack and fit inside the mugs.

They were fun to make and wrap and very yummy. I know this because I made far too many and kept back, for personal consumption, all the ones which weren't perfectly shaped. The basic recipe is below but I made a triple batch to fill 5 mugs and still have loads left over.

Spiced Biscuits (adapted from Eva Batt's Vegan Cookery)

4 oz plain flour
4 oz oats
4 oz sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
4 oz margarine
1 dsp mollases

Mix up all the dry ingredients and then rub in the marg with your hands until you get a crumbly mixture. Add the mollases and mix with a wooden spoon until you get a sticky dough.

Roll the dough out between two sheets of greaseproof paper until it's about 8mm thick. Cut out your biscuit shapes and bake them on more greaseproof paper at 190c/375F for 8 minutes. Dust while still warm with icing sugar. (Some of the sugar will melt and glaze the biscuits and some will stay white and pretty but will fall off less than if you dust them when they're cold. I wanted the icing sugar to stay fixed on these because they were going to be stacked on top of one another inside the mugs.)

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Rock 'n' Roll Cones not a hit with me

I've seen Tofutti Rock 'n' Roll Cones in Holland & Barratt before and wanted to try them. But I never had because there are four cones in a box (too many ice creams for even me to eat at once) and our nearest Holland & Barratt was quite a long way from our home and our freezer. Then yesterday Holland & Barratt opened a shop in my home town, 5 mins from our house!

This, in itself, is a mixed blessing. Our town already has three health food shops, run by the same local people, all doing well. I love these local shops and buy lots from them. I don't want Holland & Barratt taking business from them (and I also heard that Holland & Barratt are owned by the same people who own the Dewhurst Butchers chain but I'm not sure if that's a vegan urban myth). On the other hand, if Holland & Barratt sell vegan things that I can't buy anywhere else locally then I'm going to be happy about that and shop from them as well as continuing to support the independent shops.

So yesterday I went straight to the freezer in H&B, looking for these cones. I was thrilled to find them and eager to get them home and try one after tea. Which I did. But I was so disappointed! The 'chocolate flavour topping' has the consistency of wax and tastes of nothing, except possibly wax. The ice cream itself isn't creamy at all and pretty much tastes of water. The cone is fine and just about makes the whole thing passable - but only just.

Then I noticed that the box doesn't say Tofutti anymore. It says Triano. Now I usually like Tofutti stuff (especially Tofutti Cuties) so I wondered if these were just a cruel trick played on me by some other company. But when I Googled Triano, it seems to be the same people as Tofutti. Shame.

I don't like to slate a vegan product. Vegan ice creams are hard enough to come by compared to dairy ice creams. But I think products like this just reinforce the misconception that vegan food is dull, bland and tasteless and I think that's a real shame.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


The other night I made the Cholent from Veganomicon. It was super easy and the texture was lovely but it was pretty bland on the first night. The book does say it's better the second day and it was. The flavour of the carraway seeds and tarragon had a chance to come out a bit more. I also used homemade tomato sauce rather than tinned. I love my homemade sauce but in this case I think it probably wasn't salty enough. I think I'll make this again and use something a bit punchier next time.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Carrot cake

This is a good cake. I'm so happy we still have half of it waiting for us in the fridge.

Carrot Cake

For the cake:
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups grated carrot
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
2 tsp vanilla essence
6 tbsp ground flax seeds
12 tbsp water
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

For the icing:
3 oz vegan cream cheese
1/4 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups icing sugar

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. Separately mix together the ground flax seeds and water then add to that the carrots, oil, apple sauce and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and combine well. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts. Put the mixture into a loose bottomed, greased 7" cake tin. Bake at 150c for about an hour and a half or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for half an hour or so, turn out, then cool completely before icing. For the icing just mix up all the ingredients until completely smooth. the icing will set in the fridge after a couple of hours.
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