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Butternut squash with Orzo

Isn’t it awesome when someone invites you round for tea and doesn’t stress about feeding you? I went to my friend Rachel’s a couple of weeks ago and she made this:

What a truly awful photo!

What a truly awful photo!

It was lovely. The non-vegan version she had just had the addition of feta. It’s such a simple dish but really was delicious, and the kind of thing you could make lots of and take to work for lunches. Here’s the vague recipe…

  • Butternut squash, roasted in chunks with a bit of all spice and dried chilli
  • Orzo pasta
  • Fresh mint, chopped
  • Lemon juice
  • Pepper
  • Pine nuts

 

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Vegan cake in the workplace

When you work Monday-Friday, Mondays are a sack of shit, aren’t they? But, a Monday where a work friend brings in a homemade vegan chocolate cake? That’s a pretty good Monday.

Vicky isn’t even a vegan – in fact I’m the only person in the team who is, but she’s awesomely kind and so made a cake which I’d be able to eat too. Nice eh? Lucky me 🙂

I was too eager to get the cake in my facehole to take a photo when it looked all nice, so here’s a terrible photo from after it had been cut…

IMG_3044

This cake is SERIOUSLY GOOD. Yum.

Here’s Vicky’s recipe…

Chocolate cake

  • 420g plain flour
  • 400g muscovado/ dark brown sugar
  • 6Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 500ml water
  • 200ml sunflower oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and stir together.
  3. Make a well in the centre and add the remaining  ingredients.
  4. Mix until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into cupcake cakes or a greased and lined tin.
  6. Bake – 20 mins for cupcakes or 1 hour for cake (or as I did the mixture in two tins, it was about 40 minutes).

COMMENT: Let it cool for a while in the tin when you take it out the oven. I left it for about ten minutes, which is all I usually do, but it was still very delicate when I took it out of the tins. One of them actual broke in half! Fortunately not noticeable when covered in icing 😉

Chocolate icing

  • 1 cup/225g Vegan margarine
  • 1 cup/125g icing sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 145g quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
  • ¼ cup almond or soy milk
  • pinch of salt
  1. Combine the icing sugar and margarine and beat with electric mixer on low speed, about 1 minute.
  2. Add vanilla and beat on low until well combined.
  3. Add the melted and cooled chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add almond milk and salt, and beat on medium speed for another minute.

COMMENT: It’s very sloppy so it isn’t great for spreading. Could add a bit less soy milk, I reckon.

Coffee walnut icing/filling

  • 200g butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 2 tsps instant coffee granules
  • 60g walnut pieces
  1. Beat the butter till soft and pale with an electric beater, then add the sugar and beat till smooth and creamy.
  2. Stir 1 tbsp boiling water into the coffee granules then mix it into the buttercream.
  3. Fold in the walnut pieces.

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Here we have another recipe from Becky – omnivore/recipe-veganiser extraordinaire (she did the welsh cakes. Yum). She’s a good ‘un!

Adapted from a Nigella recipe, this chocolate mousse is INSANE. So rich and amazing. It uses marshmallows instead of egg to make it fluffy. She used Dandies that I bought when I did an iherb order a while ago, but you can get vegan marshmallows from lots of online vegan shops, and even in some health food shops.

  • Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 150g mini marshmallows (or normal ones cut in half)
  • 50g dairy-free margarine
  • 250g good dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces
  • 60ml hot water from a recently boiled kettle
  • 1 x 284ml tub soya cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • raspberries

Method

  1. Put the marshmallows, margarine, chocolate and water in a heavy-based saucepan.
  2. Put the saucepan on the hob, over heat, though keep it fairly gentle, to melt the contents, stirring every now and again.
  3. Remove from the heat.
  4. Meanwhile, whip the cream with the vanilla extract until thick, and then fold into the cooling chocolate mixture until you have a smooth, cohesive mixture.
  5. Pour or scrape into 4 glasses or ramekins on top of raspberries, about 175ml each in capacity, or 6 smaller (125ml) ones
  6. Chill until you want to eat

IMG_0785

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Banana choc chip cake

I don’t know if I have ever made banana cake before, but since there were some sad (and I mean SAD) looking bananas in the kitchen, I decided to give it a try. I looked at a few recipes online and came up with this (adding chocolate chips was my own rather brilliant idea. I know, I’m modest.). It came out really well 🙂 and it was super quick and easy to make.

Preheat oven to 175 oC

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup soya milk
  • 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup oil (rapeseed or other mild flavoured vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup demerara sugar
  • 2 small very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (or more) vegan chocolate chips (I used waitrose dark chocolate chunks)
  1. Mix together the soya milk and vinegar and set aside
  2. In a blender, or with a handheld blender, whizz up the bananas, oil and sugar
  3. Mix dry ingredients together (flours, baking powder and soda, salt)
  4. Put the milk mixture in with the blended banana mixture and whizz a bit more
  5. Mix the wet into the dry
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips
  7. Pour into a baking tin
  8. Bake for 25-30 mins, until a skewer jabbed in the middle comes out clean
  9. Leave to cool
  10. Dust with icing sugar, if you can be bothered
  11. Cut
  12. Eat

Yes I made a heart shaped cake

Yum

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I love my Vegan Yum Yum cookbook. It’s probably the most used of all of my vegan cookbooks (I have a vast collection). The recipes are lovely and I really love that there are photos for each of them – I’m so much more inclined to cook something if I see a picture of it first!

This recipe is from the cookbook, but I also found a version on the website – here.

I adapted it a bit, mainly because you can’t really buy seitan over here so making it specially would be a big effort! And I’m more likely to have spinach in the fridge than kale, so I tend to use that.

It really is a wonderful dish. I’ve made it for lots of friends and family too – I like things you can make a little in advance (i.e. before they arrive) and then warm up when you want to eat – it means you don’t spend ages in the kitchen when you could be chatting to people. And it is so full of flavour, it’s delicious. And super easy – especially with my microwavey rice shortcut!!

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Other ingredients:

  • I microwave packet of brown rice (or 1 cup of cooked brown rice if you’re not being lazy)
  • 1 bag of baby spinach (or kale)
  • 1 tin of black beans
  • 1 tins of butter beans

Instructions:

  1. In a big bowl, mix all the sauce ingredients together (with a fork, or a whisk) and put to one side
  2. In a large pan, start to wilt the spinach in a little oil (while this is happening, microwave your rice pouch)
  3. Add the beans and rice
  4. Once the beans are warmed through and the spinach is fully wilted, add the sauce
  5. Heat through
  6. Serve
  7. Eat
  8. Yum
  9. Easy

there was very bright sunshine on my windowsill this afternoon 🙂

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Vegan Welsh Cakes

As I mentioned previously, my friend Becky made me welsh cakes for breakfast when I stayed at her house recently. The recipe would usually have one egg but she was confident it would be fine without (she added extra soya milk for moisture) and they were awesome! I have never had them before, and they were a wonderful treat for breakfast. Possibly the best breakfast anyone has ever made for me.

I’m not actually sure if I even really knew what they were before – they are like a cross between a scone and a pancake. She made making them look so easy, I am definitely going to make them myself sometime. I wish I’d taken a photo of her making them because she was wearing a lovely apron…

  • 8oz (225g) plain flour (I suspect self raising flour would be fine, just omit baking powder)
  • 4oz (115g) vegan margarine
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4oz (115g) sultanas/currents/rasins/the like
  • 3oz (85g) sugar
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • nutmeg
  • 3-4tbsp soya/rice milk
  1. rub margarine into flour until you have breadcrumb consistency
  2. add all the other ingredients and mix together
  3. roll out on a floured side (quite thin – around half a cm thick)
  4. cut into circles and pop into the frying pan until nicely toasted on each side
  5. spread margarine on, scoff hot

If you have more mixture than you need, they keep in the fridge fine and just cook them when you’re ready.

Thanks Bex! 🙂

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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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