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Monday 30 June 2008

Cupcakes, again.

I have had this box of ground flaxseeds in my cupboard for ages and decided I would have a go at making up a recipe for cupcakes using flax 'eggs'. They worked out well, firmer than my usual cakes. Probably good for a large cake too.

I made these for mum & dad; glace cherry and almond, with pink almond butter cream. YUM! I don't think the recipe is quite right yet, so I will post once it's tweaked.

Inside shot....

Here was the other night's dinner. Tofu/Mushroom stroganoff with herbed potatoes. I went a bit over the top on the taters, I didn't even eat half of them!!

And the best part of being the cook - being able to eat the leftover frosting! heheh. Mmm nice hair, don't I look good!

Cooking to: Bon Jovi - Keep the Faith

Saturday 28 June 2008

I dream of salad. Sad, but true.

Long post alert.....

I just had a great week away with the girls, two Bon Jovi concerts, a Def Lep / Whitesnake concert and a few days in Blackpool. The only downside was the food. I basically lived off crisps, rolls, chips and other high fat, refined carb food for a week and my stomach wasn’t loving me for it! I felt crap, as we all did and was just craving a big plate of veg and some tofu! Sadly this sandwich was about the best thing I ate all week – in the zoo!

The week started with a night out in Rochdale at a place called Bar Vegas (yes really). I think it was a gay bar but not sure, it had a drag queen for a DJ who had me in tears laughing at some of the stuff he said.

The next night was bon jovi which was awesome but then we got stuck in traffic for over an hour coming out which BLEW! Then up to Blackpool for 3 nights in a dingy hotel. Pleasure beach, waxworks, zoo, beer, 2 horror films (go watch Teeth, seriously it is fuckin hilarious!) and a butt load of bad food.

Then back down south on Thursday and straight to Wembley to watch Def Leppard (AMAZING!!) and then Jovi again yesterday.

But as I said, my stomach was angry at me for filling it with shit food and beer for a week, so here was my answer; a really fresh, zingy salad. This was inspired by a few things but mainly from a salad that I had in my pregan days on a trip to New York (in the cafe next to the empire state building). It had smoked chicken and cheese, walnuts, cranberries and loads of other stuff, it was amazing. So I veganised and awesomised it and here is the result.

You need to add lots of other veg to this to make the salad awesome, but the base is really up to you. The ingredients list below is just the bits that I think are the really important bits!

½ red onions
Juice of a lime
¼ tsp salt
A big handful (1/2 cup or so) of dried cranberries
A big handful (as above) of walnuts*
A small packet or a good handful of fresh mint (I used fresh from my Mum’s garden)
3 or 4 tablespoons (about half a small tin) of cannellini beans
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt & pepper
1 tsp vegan sour cream (optional)**

Start by slicing the onion into half moons, as thin as you can manage. Then sprinkle them with the salt and the lime juice. This sort of cooks the onions and takes away the harsh onion taste and just leaves them soft and sweet. Honest!! (A Nigella tip, I borrowed!)

Leave them for about 10-15 minutes if you can. The juice will turn a pretty pink colour too, but I’m gonna kill it anyway with balsamic vinegar! J

Squeeze out the onions and throw in a large bowl with the other salad ingredients, reserve the pretty pink lime juice. Chop the mint really roughly or even just pull the leaves off and throw them in whole, you want bulk, not a fine sprinkling!

Add any other salad veg that you want. I added trimmed, halved green beans and frozen edamame (soy) beans, that I just blanched in a pan for 5 minutes then rinsed under cold water. I also added some finely chopped yellow pepper and some carrot that I just shaved off with a peeler, rather than grating it.

Whisk together the reserved lime juice with the rest of the dressing ingredients (be patient, the sour cream takes a minute to get smooth!). Pour over the salad and toss well. Check seasing and adjust if necessary.

I served this with some fine slice of tofu, seared on the griddle pan, that I marinated in soy sauce, liquid smoke, chicken style seasoning, agave nectar and water. I also threw some baby corns, quartered lengthwise, on the griddle just to make them pretty and give them a bit of flavour.

* it should be walnuts in this salad, but I didn’t have any so I subbed with almonds, as you can see in the pic. It is better with walnuts!

** the sour cream is optional, but it gives the dressing a lovely light, creamy taste without being claggy. It also helps emulsify the dressing, but leave it out if you prefer.

Cooking to: Bon Jovi of course – New Jersey

Also, I made some cookies to give to Jackie (my friend) for putting us up and driving us to and from Bon Jovi. I made the chocolate/raspberry cookies from VCON and I have to say, I was disappointed, which surprised me greatly. First of all, 10 minutes was too long a cooking time, they were dry and secondly the almond extract totally overpowered the raspberry and chocolate. So I think they have potential but I will leave out the almond ex next time and only cook them for about 7/8 mins. I also added half a pack of supercook dark chocolate baking chips, I would definitely include those again next time.

If you want to see pics from my trip, they are here.....

Bon Jovi pix here...

And in case anyone is interested, here is a bit of video of Dry County.

Twickenham was an amazing gig, they were really energetic and totally on top of their game. This song is always amazing and last night was no exception! They get 5 aliens from me!!

Thursday 19 June 2008

Damn straight, cherry pie!

2 posts in one morning, I'm on a roll......

I got the urge to bake – big shocker right?

I get bored of muesli for brekkie and wanted something more interesting but I thought I’d better be good and come up with something low fat so I don’t stray from my diet. Plus I got some cherries on special at Morrisons, so I came up with some low fat cherry & almond muffins. Now I’m pretty sure that there is a recipe for Cherry & almond muffins or something in VWAV – but don’t quote me, as i’ve not made them. But here is my low fat version anyway (by low fat I mean lots of fruit, no oil, no sugar and only 3 WW points and they’re a decent size too!!):

Dry Ingredients:
230 g flour (2 cups)
4 tbsp (¼ cup), slivered (or battered with a rolling pin - not ground into powder though!)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
200g Cherries, stoned

Wet Ingredients:
100g (⅓ cup) fruit puree (I used 1 tub Clearspring pear puree, which you can get in the supermarket!)
185 ml (¾ cup) Alpro Light, unsweetened Soya Milk
1 tsp Almond extract
4 tbsp (¼ cup) Agave Nectar
4 tbsp (¼ cup) Maple Syrup

Mix together the dry ingredients. Stone the cherries and chop them into quarters (you can chop them smaller but I like them chunky). Mix them into the flour mixture (this helps stop them all sinking to the bottom of the muffins).

Combine the wet ingredients and mix well. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet into the well. Mix until just combined, a few lumps are ok just don’t overmix.

Pour into muffin tins, lined with paper cases and bake at 180°C/350°F until a knife comes out clean and they are lightly browned (it took about 25 minutes in my oven).

I got 9 out of this mixture because I like them tall, but you could make them stretch to 12 if you only half fill them.

Money shot:

Cooking to: The Offspring - Greatest Hits

Miscellaneous crap

Been a while since I blogged - busy couple of weeks. So I went onsite again and this time I was determined to be prepared, so I bought a coolbag and some shite placcy cutlery & plates and packed myself some stuff for lunches and loads of fruit......

Despite that, I was still so glad to get home and get some proper food down me, so here are some dinners since I got back....

Mushroom pilaff with some griddled aubergine:

The famous VCON chickpea cutlets - I think I was the only vegan in the village that hadn't made these yet. They are seriously good, although I don't think I quite did them justice as they were a bit tough. I took out the oil (I joined weight watchers so trying to keep the points down!!) and baked them instead of frying. Served with a sweet potato (actually half a one cuz it was friggin HUGE!) and some steamed veg.

Awesome roasted veg and some baked tofu. I LOVE roasted veg and these were so good!
The weekend just gone was the download festival. Food wise I did ok, there were 2 vegan food stands and I had a really nice burger from there with loads of salad. One day we had a chinese meal and one day we went to M&S in the service station so I got a salad.

We lucked out with the weather too. I mean it was feckin freezing but it didn't rain so it was just dusty rather than a muddy swamp. Just a shame that KISS sucked AAASSSSS!

Anyway, before I went I used up the rather sad looking avocado in my fridge to make this cheesecake - it was good but I think it needs more avo, it was nowhere near as green and pretty as the avocado pie someone posted recently on the PPK. Ah well. When I got back though unforunately the remainder was past it's best.

I'm going to try making this again and re-jigging it before I post the recipe, but here's a pic. Hobnob base! Hobnobs are vegan - how happy did this knowledge make me!!

Sunday 8 June 2008

Birthday Celebration and Cake, mark 2!

Last night was mine and my best mate's birthday celebration. We went for chinese then onto the pub and it was my job to make the cake. Em requested my mango & coconut cake, so here it is. I doubled the recipe but just made one batch of frosting as it makes too much for 1 layer anyway. It was too big though! I should have done 1.5 of the recipe and split that instead but hey ho.

Also, my friend Kelly has a wheat intolerance and as I'm always hearing "there's cake for everyone, except you Sarah!".... I substituted regular plain flour for Dove's Farm wheat & gluten free flour so Kelly could eat some too. The flour changed the texture a bit and I think it was too noticable. But I don't really have experience of working with wheat free flours, so I might have to look into alternatives.

Anyway, here is the cake:

We went to the Water Sky in Fleet, which is a really nice restaurant and has a good selection for veggies, including fake duck!! Which a few of my friends tried and had to admit 'it's alright isn't it!', even my veggie-phobic brother!

However, last night they were slow on the veggie stuff, every course mine came out 5-10 minutes after the omni food! But that aside it tasted good.

I didn't get a pic of the mock duck or the starters, which were spring rolls, tofu with chilli and salt and seaweed, minus the pink fishy crap.

Main course - veggie food.... (tofu, a veggie dish, plain rice and singapore rice noodles - minus the various meats and egg)

To compare, this is the omni food!! A lot of stuff isn't there! I think one of those dishes is veggie! Oh plus the rice, but it had egg in it so I had to ask them for a plain one.

Bonus pic... The cakes were so fat that they took forever to cool down enough to frost them. So as I had people coming over, I figured it was better to see me frosting than half-dressed! So here I am, hair and make up done, party dress on, cosmo in hand and erm ... pinny on - classy!!

Cooking to: A playlist of some very cheesy shit that would reveal how deeply un-hip I am!

ps: some pics of the night are on my Facebook.

Friday 6 June 2008

A note on the cheese muffins!

So I just had another muffin, they are now fully cooled. They still taste really awesome (although I think next time I'm going to kick them up a notch with some chilli!) but they stuck to the cupcake wrapper like poop to a blanket!!

So I think maybe next time they'll have to be made in silicone muffin trays. Or maybe less soymilk and roll / cut them out like scones? I'll test the theory and post the results.

If anyone tries these and overcomes the stickage, I'd love to know how you did it. Smartarse. ;-)

Thursday 5 June 2008

Steak & Chips and Savoury Muffins

Today I dug out my much neglected griddle pan and made myself some 'steak' n chips! I had forgotten how much I love that friggin griddle pan.

This was really simple, just some firm tofu marinated in soy, worcester sauce, liquid smoke and some water, then spritzed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and griddled for about 10 minutes in total. If you griddle tofu, just make sure you keep pressing it down quite often. This way it presses out the excess liquid and gets those lovely griddle marks!

Chips were just potatoes tossed in olive oil and baked for 35 minutes at 200°C (turning once). The sauce was some mushrooms and onions sauted down for 15 minutes, then I added some of the marinade, cornflour a bit of soy and a bit of soya cream.

Easy but tasty.

Cooking to: Scorpions - The Crazy World

Then another experiment! Savoury vegan cheese cornbread muffins. I tweaked my favourite cornbread recipe (from La Dolce Vegan) and added some sheese and some herbs and stuff. They are really good! A really nice savoury snack. I've put the recipe below the pic.

Ingredients (in cups cuz I was too lazy to weigh!):
2¼ cups non dairy milk (I use light unsweetened soya)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp oil (I used sunflower)
1 cup plain flour
2 cups fine cornmeal / polenta (I got a massive bag of this in the world foods aisle in tesco for less than a quid!!)
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1½ tsp fresh rosemary (you could use dried, but probably best to decrease it to 3/4 - 1 tsp)
½ cup vegan cheese of your choice - I used Sheese Smoked Cheddar style
¼ cup nutritional yeast

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Mix together the soymilk and cider vinegar and leave aside to curdle.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients (except the oil). Add the oil to the milk and whisk well. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Spoon into muffin tins and bake till a knife comes out clean. It took 23 minutes in my oven! This only made 9, because I like to fill them right up, but if you don't fill them all the way you might be able to stretch the mixture out to 12.

Cooking to: AC/DC - Highway to Hell

Bonus Pic: a muffin, still hot out the oven, slathered with Pure Soya spread!

Monday 2 June 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

So it's my birthday today and I'm 29 - surprisingly enough I'm not freaking out at the fact that I am now in the last year of my 20s!! Next year might be a different tale.

Some of this weekend's food is below but most importantly, here is my birthday cake. I made it myself but that's ok, I know it's vegan and it is awesome, which is more important. Chocolate orange cake! YUM!

Here it is in full...

Inside shot...

With my birthday present from my mum and dad:

Some other news: the birthday breakfast of champions: fronch toast and ketchup and a cuppa tea in my favourite mug - which is older than me, it makes me feel young! haha. I like to drink my tea out of it and shout CUP OF TEA - in a (bad) impression of Animal's voice.

Some food from the weekend:

Balsamic roasted onion and spiced tomato tart - recipe is a work in progress but very nearly there, so will post soon. It was lunch for me and my besty on Saturday and it was yum!

To go with it, a bean salad dressed with a simple raspberry vinegar / flax oil dressing.

Cookies - again, the recipe is a work in progress so not posted yet, as I think they are good but still need a little something something.

Friday's dinner: sausage casserole and crusty bread. Made with frozen veg - time saving superstars! and some seitan sausage a la the everyday dish but with some Sal modifications!!

Cooking (the birthday cake) to: Vixen's Greatest Hits
Cooking (the cookies) to: This is Spinal Tap