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Archive for February, 2012

Green tart

I visit my bestie and goddaughter every month, and each time I make cake for them (well, for my friend really – the littlun isn’t one yet so a little too young for sugar-laden cakes!). But this time I thought I’d do something a little different and took along a savoury tart for us to have for lunch. It was well received and my favourite baby even had some for her tea 🙂

This is an old favourite – another one of my “crowd pleaser” recipes which is sure to impress non-vegans and is awesomely tasty. I think it’s nice to use ready-made puff pastry, partly because pastry is such a treat, but partly because people are always so suprised to know it’s vegan!

This is a recipe from the Guardian website. I haven’t changed it much from the original:

  • Preheat oven to 220 oC
  • Serves 6
  •  1 pack of ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 3 large courgettes, sliced quite thickly
  • olive oil for frying
  • a bunch of spring onion, sliced
  • a clove of garlic, crushed
  • a bag of baby spinach (around 200g)

For the pesto:

  • 2 good handfuls of fresh coriander
  • 50g cashews
  • a clove of garlic
  • a few mint leaves (I often forget these!)
  • salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste
  • olive oil (around 4 tbsp – 60ml)
  1. Check the instructions on your puff pastry – you probably need to take it out of the fridge 10 minutes before using it.
  2.  In a pan, fry the courgette, garlic and spring onions in olive oil (on a low heat, you want them to soften rather than go brown/crispy).
  3. When they have softened a bit, add the spinach. You can either add it to the pan, or if like me you find that when using a frying pan you end up flipping spinach all over your cooker, you can put it in a colander over the sink and pour boiling water from the kettle over it to wilt it. Then you just squash all the water out of it and add it to your frying pan.
  4. While that is frying nicely, you can make the pesto…
  5. I use a hand-held blender for this. Simply put all of the pesto ingredients together and blend, adding a bit more olive oil as needed to make it a spreadable pesto-like consistency.
  6. Take out the puff pastry and lay it on a baking tray. Around the edge, about a cm to an inch in, score a line around the pastry with a sharp knife (like a picture frame). This shouldn’t go all the way through the pastry, just enough to leave a line mark.
  7. Spread the pesto evenly all over the pastry, inside the line you just made.
  8. Chuck your fried veggies on top.
  9. Pop in the oven for about 20 mins, until the pastry looks light brown and puffy.

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2 Year Veganniversary

Today, it is 2 years exactly since I made the best decision of my life.

I was reading Vegan Freak, which recommends as a starting point doing a 3-week trial of being vegan. I started those 3 weeks on the 12th of February 2 years ago and never looked back.

Even though it’s only been 2 years, it feels like forever, and I can’t imagine living in any other way. I love that on a daily basis I am acting in a way which is kind and compassionate, doing the least harm to others possible.

In this second year of veganism, the one thing which has kept coming up in conversation which breaks my brain is that SO MANY people don’t know that cows need to have babies in order to make milk. They just think cows are these milk-making machines, rather than living beings which function in the same way as humans or any other animals when it comes to milk production. Strange world.

Happy 2 year Veganniversary, me! 🙂

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Mildreds in London

Today I went to a lovely vegetarian restaurant in Soho, London. I’ve been to Mildreds before, and it did not disappoint the second time. It gets crazy busy and we had to wait about 45 minutes for a table, but this also means that the food comes really quickly as they want to clear the tables. So even if you have to wait, you get to eat pretty soon after you sit down.

They have a good choice of vegan options (see menu here) and also do a lovely selection of smoothies and fresh juices (I had carrot, apple and lime) as well as alcoholic drinks.

For my starter, I had the tostada – with grilled courgette and aubergine, lettuce, pico de gallo and guacamole:

I tried many times and failed to get a good photo, but this starter was completely awesome.

And for my main course, I had the “burger of the day”, (which was butterbean, piquillo and rosemary) with sweet potato fries. When I ordered this I had no idea what piquillo was; turns out it’s a pepper.

Unfortunately there was such a small amount of time between my quite sizable starter and main, that I had no space at all for dessert. Which was a shame because my usual policy is that if I’m somewhere where there’s a dessert on offer which I can have, then I’ll have it. Also a shame because I skipped lunch so I could have a big awesome evening meal! Oh well. Still great 🙂 I’d definitely recommend this place.

See their website for more info (they also have a blog with recipes on it)

45 Lexington Street,

London

W1F 9AN

(nearest tube stations are Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and Tottenham Court Road)

Phone: 020 7494 1634

Email: info@mildreds.co.uk

Opening Times: 12noon – 11pm Monday to Saturday

Read reviews on happycow here

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Alpha Bar in Oxford

I don’t love my job in the cente of Oxford, but I do love the many lunch options available to me on the days I am too disorganised to bring anything from home.

Alpha Bar is in the covered market, and I tend to go there every friday 🙂

They do a variety of salads, sandwiches and hot things (like curry), and I tend to stick with the salad boxes. When I first started going there I asked about which things were vegan, and they knew loads about the food they have on offer. Some of my favourites to go in my small salad box are:

  • coleslaw made with dijon mustard dressing
  • roasted veggies (butternut squash, sweet potato, onion, etc)
  • marinated tofu
  • brown rice
  • giant butterbeans in tomato sauce
  • lentil salad (with onion, herbs etc in it)
  • olives
  • salsa-type salad (tomatoes, onion etc)
  • tomatoes with fresh basil

Today’s box has roased veg, tofu, lentils and coleslaw (most of which is hidden beneath the veg), and they always offer toasted sunflower seeds to be sprinkled on top. It cost £4, which is kind of pricey for a work-day lunch, but they are super special and therefore improve my day 🙂

Not the best photo, since it was taken with my phone. Delicious though!

The website says they also do an order-and-collect service, but I have never used it (I like to make decisions when I see the salads in front of me).

The only downside about this place is that it is situated opposite a butchers, so there are some very grim things on display. But I have mastered a route which walks past as little of this as possible (enter the covered market via market street) and I know where not to look.

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