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Wednesday 30 July 2008

oh yeah, cakes & pies, cakes & pies, cakes & pies.

OK no pies, but one cake and a syrup sponge!

I have about a week’s worth of food pix that I’ve been too lazy to blog - I am sorry, here they are (and I also have a recipe for ya!)

Firstly the good (read fattening and sickly sweet) stuff – walnut cake. I suddenly had a hankering for the walnut cake that my nan used to buy when I was younger, so when mum and dad invited me for dinner and asked me to bring pudding, I had the perfect excuse for some experimentation.

For me, walnut cake absolutely HAS to be a rectangle. No circle walnut cakes allowed and none of this coffee icing bollocks either! This is my version:

OK so it's not the prettiest cake ever but it was damn tasty!

Wet ingredients:
180 ml / ¾ cup non dairy milk (I use light soya)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
180ml / ¾ cup sunflower oil (or other light, flavourless oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp lemon extract (optional)
¼ tsp almond extract
Zest of a lemon
Dry ingredients:
175g / ¾ cup Sugar (I use golden caster)
125g / 1.5 cup plain flour
30g / 1/3 cup walnuts – pulsed in a food processor or smashed with a rolling pin till chunky – not powdered!
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Icing Ingredients:
2 tbsp vegan margarine (I use Pure Soya)
2 tbsp vegetable shortening
4 tbsp / ¼ cup walnuts
250g / 2 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp ish non dairy milk
¼ tsp almond extract
A few extra nuts for decorating the top

Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F.

Line the bottom of a loaf tin with parchment paper and grease the sides with a little oil.

Mix together the milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk the rest of the wet ingredients into the milk mixture. Pour the wet into the dry and mix well to combine. Don’t overmix, as this will result in tough cake – a few lumps are ok!

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake until a cocktail stick / knife comes out clean. About 40 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire cooling rack and leave till it is complete cold. When cold, slice the loaf through the middle so you have 2 halves to sandwich back together.

To make the icing, you need to blend the nuts to a paste. Unless you have a REALLY good blender, it will be difficult with such a small amount of nuts and you might want to use a pestle & mortar. But I don't have one, so I did this with a hand immersion blender, in the beaker that came with it. It also makes it much easier to grind down if you add the margarine at this point. Keep blending until the nuts are as fine as you can get them – a gritty paste.

Then put into a bowl and add the shortening. Mash together with a fork then add the icing sugar in two batches, mashing well after each addition. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Then get the electric hand beaters in there until creamy and smooth.

Slap a good dollop of the butter cream (about a third) on the bottom half of the cake and spread out. Sandwich the two pieces together then put the rest of the buttercream on top and level off with a palette knife or spatula. Break the remaining nuts into pieces and decorate the top of the cake.

I don’t have an inside shot as I took it to my parents’ house and never took any away with me.

Baking to: AC/DC - Powerage

Here are the rest of my stored up food pix!

These were some meatless chicken style dippers that I found at Tescos, with some homemade bbq sauce. Not great, but not bad in a pinch!

I was just excited that they actually labelled something vegan .... see:
VCON chickpea cutlets with a quick mushroomy sauce, potatoes and sauteed sugar snap peas.
My new favourite soup - creamy white bean & sweetcorn. I'm working on getting this 100% right and then I'll post it.
My only criteria for this meal was that it had to be fast, I was starving! I went for a burrito with pinto beans, tofu, kale, peppers and tomatoes and lots of spices! Oooh I made such a mess of myself eating this.

The leftover chickpea cutlets, with a stirfry of the only veg I had left in the fridge

Another quick meal - some cold noodles that I just added some peanut sauce (from THIS post) and toasted sesame seeds to. Then some quick stir-fried tofu that I added some bbq sauce to (from THIS post), thinned down with a bit of water and cooked until the sauce was almost completely reduced. Fast and not all that healthy - but tasty.

This is another recipe work in progress. I'm not much one for stodgy puddings but I just really fancied syrup sponge & custard, so I got to veganising one! It's not quite right yet, I'm not happy with the texture. But I will enjoy testing it till I get it right!!

Here it is smothered in custard (birds' custard powder is vegan! YAY)

And lastly, but not leastly, sunday's breakfast - pancakes! MMM.

Pfft, who says vegans live off twigs and berries!!

Thursday 24 July 2008

You like me, you really like me...!

I’d like to thank the academy....

Was that predictable? I think it was. Ah well I don’t care! I am so excited, my little fledgling bloglet has won an award – courtesy of the lovely Jessy at happyveganface.

I think her blog is fab so I’m really flattered that she nominated me as one of her picks. She has been very supportive and often leaves me really sweet comments so a big thank you to you Jessy!

So here are the rules....

* put the logo on your blog.
* add a link to the person who awarded you.
* nominate seven other blogs.
* add links to those blogs on your blog.
* leave a message for your nominee on their blogs.

And here are my nominations – glamourous assistant, the envelope please....

1. Vegan.Chicks.Rock - I couldn’t agree more!
2. Chocolate Covered Vegan
3. Could it be seitan?
4. Indian Vegetarian Kitchen
5. Destiny’s Vegan Kitchen
6. Comfort Food Vegan
7. Megatarian

Ok and because I’m in a good mood, some food pics and a recipe. Firstly, I reworked my banana muffin recipe to make it wheat-free and also because I had to because I didn’t quite have the right ingredients. I actually preferred these to the regular ones, the texture is better and they are more peanut buttery.

So here is the tweaked recipe:

Banana Peanut Butter Spelt Muffins

Wet ingredients:
2 ripe bananas (mine were frozen and just defrosted in the morning, but fresh are better)
125ml / ½ cup soy yoghurt
125ml / ½ cup soymilk (or other non-dairy milk)
4 tbsp / ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter
60ml / ¼ cup sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dry ingredients:
320g / 2 cups spelt flour
1 cup sugar (I know a lot of bakers add this in with the wet but I put it in with the dry to make mixing easier)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.

In a jug, mash together the bananas and whisk in the rest of the wet ingredients.

In a large bowl stir together the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients in and mix well. Line a muffin pan with muffin cases and fill them half way with the mixture. Bake until a knife comes out clean (about 20-30 mins depending on your oven).

Note: I got 8 muffins out of this mixture, but as you can see they were HUGE! That’s because I filled them 2/3 full, like I always do with muffins, but these rose more than normal, so only fill them half way up.

Cooking to: Audioslave – Out of Exile

A couple of other shots as well. I been trying to make sure I get my dark green veg every day and surprisingly really enjoying it.

I have also discovered my favourite new vegetable side dish: blanche some greens (sugar snap peas and string beans work especially well), just for a couple of minutes then plunge them into ice water. Then sauté a small onion or shallot (finely diced) in a little bit of olive oil. When it’s browned add the greens, grate in a clove of garlic and a bit of salt & pepper and just cook it till the veg are warmed through. This keeps them really crispy and delicious and blanching / shocking in cold water keeps them beautifully vibrant green. Perfect!

So here’s two pics of meals with the aforementioned veg:

This one was my favourite! I roasted some onions, red pepper and tomatoes in a little olive oil and some balsamic vinegar, then added some of Julie Hassons’ awesome Italian spicy sausage for the last 5-10 minutes of baking. I served some brown rice along with it, that I just tipped into the tray once I took out the veggies and mixed around to get some of the balsamicy veggie juices to coat the rice. By the way, if you’ve not made these sausages yet – try them! They freeze really well so even if you can’t eat them all in a few days it’s ok. And they’re a great recipe that is quite easy to tweak if you don’t like spicy / garlic … etc. They’re just awesome.

This was just some plain old baked tofu. But the potato wedges, now they were delicious. I baked them for almost an hour in total at 180°C (with a little olive oil, a sprinkling of paprika and sea salt) and they were perfectly crispy and soft in the middle.

And this was just some veggies, tinned tomatoes, chilli and pasta – a really quick dinner.

Saturday 19 July 2008

Come over to the darkside - we have cupcakes!

I worked from home this morning so I got to make myself a hot brekkie - pancakes! I'm so happy with these; not only were they awesome but they came out the pan in one piece - hurrah! Here they are smothered in maple syrup!

For dinner I did a mushroom and sun-dried tomato pilaff. To go with it I cut up some smoked tofu, gave it a gentle coating of flour and fried it in a little olive oil. I have discovered that I really love cutting the tofu up in these little triangles.

My mum and dad are going to visit my grandad this weekend and as I'm not going I sent up a box of cupcake love - the best kind! Here they are straight out the oven.

And frosted: chocolate orange cupcakes and vanilla cupcakes with blueberry frosting.

All packed up and ready to go

Cooking to: Charlotte Hatherley - Grey Will Fade

Someone on the ppk asked for instructions on the blueberry frosting so I posted it but thought I'd add it in here in case anyone wants to have a go - it is perfect with the basic vanilla cupcakes (VCTOTW).

5 tablespoons / heaped 1/4 cup blueberry jam
5 tablespoons / heaped 1/4 cup shortening
2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
enough soymilk to make it creamy (about 1 tbsp)

Push the jam through a fine seive with the back of a spoon just to get out the lumps (there will still be some seeds in it but I think they look pretty). Add the shortening and mash together with a fork.Add the sugar in two goes, mashing with a fork in between. Add the vanilla and soymilk, mashing still.

Then get the electric beaters in there and whip it till it's fluffy and you're done.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

aye aye stir fry

I haven't been eating much except not very exciting stir frys this week. Don't get me wrong, they're awesome, they just don't make for very interesting blogging. So I'll only post the one... Simple veggies, tofu and brown rice stir fry dressed with soy, lime juice, garlic, fresh ginger, chilli and agave nectar.

On Sunday, I fancied some comfort food so I made a veggie casserole served on top of lots of mash, it was awesome.

I found another use for my pizza stone - fattening pastries! Huzzah! I just got some ready made puff pastry, spread it with almond butter, threw in a few choc chips, brushed them with soymilk and then sprinkled them with sugar mixed with cinammon. 20 minutes in a 180C oven and they were done, and very very tasty with a steamy mug of tea.

My big love of this week is ginger. I have some in my fridge and normally i freeze it and forget about it but I decided to use it up. So for breakfast yesterday and today I had it in a smoothie. I know a smoothie is not much of a wow recipe, but I'm working on a couple to post in the next week or so, so just to tide you over.....

Mango Smoothie:
1/2 a mango cut into rough chunks (mine was frozen, but it doesn't have to be)
125ml (1/2 cup) soya yoghurt
125ml (1/2 cup) apple juice
tbsp or so (to taste) maple syrup
tsp or so (to taste) ginger, grated finely on a microplane grater.

Just throw everything in a beaker and leave for a minute to help soften the mango (if frozen). Then use a hand immersion blender and blend till smooth and creamy. Be patient, it takes a minute to chop through the frozen mango.

On to today's dinner then and I was getting bored of stir fry. That and I had an avocado to use up. So I soaked some red onion in lime juice then added peas, cooked green lentils, 1/2 a yellow pepper, some cherry tomatoes, fresh mint and parsley, flax oil and my chunked up avo. I served it with some tofu lightly coated with seasoned flower and fried in a teeny bit of olive oil until golden brown. YUM!

Last time I did the lime juice / red onion thing I didn't take a pic before I massacred the pretty pink colour of the lime juice with balsamic vinegar, so this is what it looks like only a bit brighter (flash washed it out a bit).

And a couple of bonus pics. The rose bush outside my window is looking gorgeous so I snuck out when no one was looking and pinched a couple for my window sill!

And look look look - my chilli plant has a friggin shoot! Woo, happy dayz.

Cooking (today) to: Go West's greatest hits.

Wednesday 9 July 2008

I <3 free stuff. And tofu.

I won a prize draw! That never happens to me, I never win anything. But I won a box of Retro Lush stuff. I scored a shower gel (there were 2 but one wasn’t vegan, boo!), 2 soaps and 2 bath bombs. My flat smells good!! Here they are:

The box – I know it’s daft to post a pic of a box but it was cute:

The Swag:

But back to the important stuff: foodz. This was yesterday’s dinner – I re-attempted my idea of sesame mustard tofu and hurrah, it worked! I 86’d* the breadcrumbs and coated the marinated tofu with flour, mustard powder, salt & pepper and sesame seeds. I also baked it instead of frying it to make it healther. To go with it was balsamic roasted cherry tomatoes and red onions (SOOOO good!), fresh corn sauted in a bit of vegan margarine and olive oil and some spinach cooked in a teeny bit of veg stock.

Today, I went for a really simple stir fry of bok choi, peas, green beans, peppers, marinated tofu pieces and carrots with a splash of lime juice, soy, chilli sauce, agave and a grating of fresh ginger. To go with it I just did some noodles which I mixed some peanut sauce (recipe in this post) into and topped the whole lot off with some toasted sesame seeds. This was sooooo yummy! Oh and it took my peanut butter collection down to 4 jars!

(I don’t really know if I know exactly what 86’d means but Phoebe said it in Charmed once about a demon and I'm pretty sure it applies here!)

Cooking (today) to: Bloodhound Gang – Hefty Fine

Monday 7 July 2008

Wakey Wakey, Flax Eggs & Bakey

Another day and yet another burn! That’s 2 more burns since my last post (1 a day! ) Oh and a bruise too. Seriously, I dunno what the cock is wrong with me lately - I’m gonna have to start wearing clothes with sleeves and oven mitts or something stupid like that if this carries on! Sheesh.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, I baked yesterday. Two experiments with flax eggs (see; the stupid title makes sense now): biccies and cakes.

First off, fairy cakes; I used to love making these when I was little and I just felt like creaming together butter and sugar, adding ‘eggs’ and making really childish cakes. So I experimented and this is what I got:

Erm, they sunk! So I am gonna have to work on the recipe before I can give it out as it’s not right yet. Maybe it’s because I ran out of baking powder and didn’t have quite enough! Hmmm. So instead of the butterfly cakes I had in mind, I decided to start a theme – IT’S PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME..... ooh that dancing banana, I’m gonna hunt that little bitch down.

Anyhoo. I poked a hole in each cake, filled it with jam and then topped them with peanut butter frosting. They rock.

Money shot....

Secondly, I fancied jammie dodgers, but surprise surprise - they are not vegan. Well suck it mcvities (or whoever makes jammie dodgers), I shall make my own.

Ok so they’re not perfect (YET) and the second batch was overcooked, even though they were cooked the same temp / time! Weird. These are my peanut butter jammie dodgers, recipe pending tweakage.

Oh and yesterday morning’s brekkie. I wouldn’t normally bother posting a pic of a common old tofu scramble, but it was so pretty and colourful! I added fresh tomatoes and basil right before serving and roasted up some sweet potato to go with it – and it was good (it made me forget about the burn on my hand from digging out the bits of potato that fell through the oven door, for about 5 minutes anyway).

Yesterday was also the day I realised that I have 5 jars of peanut butter in my cupboard! FIVE! How messy is my cupboard! No wonder the bugger doesn't shut properly.

Cooking to: Def Leppard – Slang, Ash – Meltdown & Snow Patrol – Final Straw

Onto today and I felt like making some Singapore noodles. I only had tandoori curry powder so they weren’t quite right. Plus once the vermicelli pasta was cooked it looked more like spaghetti, but that’s cuz it really should be rice noodles not regular pasta! They were good though and I was so happy with the tofu, it was perfect in texture and colour and taste! I’m going to try this again with my own spice blend and rice noodles and then I’ll post the recipe.

Cooking to: A random iTunes playlist but this dinner was so quick, it only took about 4 songs!

Sunday 6 July 2008

What is and what should never be

So I’m coming to the end of my second week off work. Last week I was away and this week just been chilling at home, mainly boring myself stupid. It’s been nice to have time to myself but my own company was starting to irritate me – still not looking forward to getting up Monday morning though! Didn’t do much for the first half of the week; Wednesday my friend came over for a supernatural half marathon – we do the other half tomorrow! Thursday, I went into town and I found this pasty in Holland & Barrett. I was intrigued and it was vegan – a perfect match!
The good news is that as well as being reduced to 59p and containing no trans-fats, it was suitable for vegetrians. I dunno what a vegetrian is – anyone who know, answers on a postcard please. Seriously though, it was surprisingly not hideous, although it did give me heartburn!
For dinner, I was still feeling lazy and I fancied another dose of the old heartburn so I ordered from the local Chinese takeaway. The Singapore noodles and spring rolls were good but the tofu in satay sauce was a bit chewy and the sauce was watery. That’ll learn me. Yesterday I made enchiladas and some guac to use up the manky looking avo I had in my fridge. Mmm mmm mmm.

Onto Saturday and by this point I was bored stiff. I even went out for a walk, twice – that’s just how bored! Boredom is a bad thing, it makes me either bake, experiment or sit on my arse and watch lame movies. I did all three of those things today, not necessarily in that order though. Baking: fruit crumble. It had mango and pear (my new fave crumble fruits) and some strawberries that I had left in the fridge about to go off. I added a bit of coconut to the crumble topping. It’s not very taxing making a crumble but if anyone wants the recipe, leave me a message and I’ll post it. Here is the fruit before being topped with sugary oaty goodness: Straight from the oven: And a shot of the finished article, smothered with custard:

Experimenting: mustardy sesame tofu. Ok I have a question – how in the name of Zeus’ butthole do people get breadcrumbs to stick to tofu? I tried soymilk, soymilk mixed with cornflour, straight out the marinade... but I was fighting a losing battle I’m afraid. I ended up wodging it on and burning more of the crumbs (and myself in the process) than I got on the freakin tofu. And the stuff that did stick was a wee bit over- cooked! So this tofu didn’t turn out exactly as hoped or expected but it was still pretty tasty and the accompanying mash and my posh mushy peas (with a dollop of mayola instead of tofu) were perfect! This picture shows the restrained amount of peas for photographic reasons. I did of course pile the rest on after I took the photo and lick the blades of the food processor too! Being that I am a bit silly today, I don’t know how I managed to not cut my tongue off in the process.

Oh and not forgetting... Lame movies: Addicted to Love & Say Anything (well half of it anyway, I got bored). So like I said, I am a derp today and by that I mean that since 9.30 this morning I have managed to give myself 3 burns, 2 cuts, splash water into the frying pan containing hot oil which then spat in my eye and also lop hunks out of 2 fingernails with my veggie peeler. My silliness also seemed to rub off on everything in my kitchen! Pans were falling over, cutlery kept going mad and jumping out my hands and covering my floor with peas / custard / sesame seeds / mustard powder..... and my poor old spatool even got himself injured!! Look...

Note to self: hot oil in frying pan = too hot for cheapo plastic wilkinsons spatulas! Note to self 2: don’t cook when you suspect PMT is rearing its ugly head, you WILL get injured. Cooking to: a bit a this, bit a that but Led Zep stood out and inspired the post title