Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Last Vegan Mofo; Butternut Squash Cupcakes!

I haven’t quite reached peak Butternut squash consumption.

Since I am trying to explore more of the awesome range of recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World, today on my last Mofo Day, I made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes.

I know what you’re thinking; my post says ‘Butternut Squash’, very observant. Yes I swapped the tinned pumpkin up for fresh roasted, Mmm!
I also made another swap, to make these Gluten Free Cupcakes by using Dove Farms Flour.
I made the accompanying Cinnamon icing to top the cake. The book suggests going 'Pollock style' on the icing, I took this way to literally...who wants to clean my kitchen?
I do love this cakes, so much sugar, might not be good to eat them before bed though.

Next time I would use less chocolate chips.
They are nothing like the Carrot Cupcakes, I would like to experiment with a bit more spice and try these without chocolate chips too.

I will be doing a farewell to Mofo, the highlights and favourite new bloggers.  Looking forward to spending this next year thinking of themes for next October!


Monday, 29 October 2012

Vegan Mofo 1st's; Butternut addiction

I couldn’t resist buying a beautiful, seasonal Butternut Squash, and picked one up the other day with absolutely no recipes in mind.
The deliciousness was shared out into;
First having roasted ¼ of squash with Marinated Tofu and salad
Then Parsnip, Ginger and Butternut Squash soup (winning combo)
Today I made Carrot and Butternut soup
Feeling pretty Autumny at the moment as the weather has seriously turn, and my ‘big coat’ is still in the loft, so it has becoming a very ‘Hot Soup’ and ‘Ginger Black Tea’ affair in my household.
Sadly now all the squash is gone...
Can I restrain myself from buying another? I don’t think so.
Exciting plans include; substituting Squash for Pumpkin to make a spicy sweet cake.
More Butternut soups, and... Butternut Squash Pasta! much Squash in my life.
Might explore the idea of growing them myself next year, (tips welcome) so I can have a steady supply on my doorstep.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Vegan Mofo 1st's Sri Lankan Soya Curry

 Soya meat, TVP very popular in Sri Lanka, but we didn’t notice as much of vegetarian presence compared with nearby India, but there is a strong Buddhist tradition.
Their favourite use of TVP is “Devilled” a term which is used a lot in Sri Lanka is usually means a chilli dish; devilled instant noodles.

We visited Anuradhapura, in the north of the island, and spend one day cycling around the ancient city ruins. There wasn’t a huge selection of restaurants and our hotels offerings looked really grim and overpriced compared to local eateries (the cheap room and free Wi-Fi were the main benefits).
We found a nice place to eat above the supermarket and we ate our lunch and dinner there that day. We chose the Devilled soya, which was little raspberry shaped pieces cooked in a tasty sauce with some stir fried veg and rice.

In the supermarket there was shelf upon shelf of packaged dry soya meats, in all kinds of meat, fish and curry flavours. Before we left the south of the island a few days before the end of our trip we picked up three packets. Two of which were ‘cuttlefish’ style, which I love the novelty that they are shaped like Cheerios when dry!

Last night I wanted to cook curry, I usually do this from scratch, but we realised there was a jar of Lloyd Grossman Bhuna sauce in the cupboard, bought on a whim and taking up space. So I cooked up an aubergine and butternut squash curry in one pan and the ‘Cuttlefish’ in the other. Wow! This was such a lovely curry flavour, every time I walked back in the kitchen the smell was a wonderful reminder…mmmmm

Which reminds me, I send a packet of this away as part of the Vegan Swap Box this month to the lovely Sarah at:

I hope she has as much success with the soya meat :)

Vegan Mofo 1st Mac and Cheese

Now, I’ve had cheesy sauced pasta a bunch of times, but it occurred to me I’ve never cooked, or eaten macaroni shaped pasta!!
How has that happened?
Well I picked up a bag of the tubed shaped pasta and set to work making myself a HUGE pot of carby goodness for this weekend.
I’m off to Plymouth to see A Fist Full of Blockers Roller Derby Bout, and I’m pretty unsure what the food options will be, so be on the safe side I made this delicious cheesy pasta!
I cooked the pasta in one pan whilst in another pan began the sauce and vegetable. I began by sautéing one medium Courgette (Zucchini) with one clove of garlic in a little oil. Once the veg was softened I added the remainder of my Parmesan (made the other day) and half a cup of soya milk.
I threw the pasta into this slightly runny sauce, knowing that as I will be eating it cold, this will prevent it dry out.
I’m looking forward to trying the Appetite for Reduction Mac and Trees too, pasta and cheese get lonely without a green vegetable.
Whats your favourite Mac and Cheese combination?

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Vegan Mofo 1st; Cheese!

As part of my Vegan 1st's, I'm going back to basics, and cheese is totally on the list. I use shop bought Vegan Cheese a lot, so why not have the power to make it at home?

I'm oftern asked; "Whats vegan cheese made of?" and to be honest I have no idea what goes into Cheezly and Scheese.

 This week I made my own cheese, so the next person who asks I'll point this way.
I love how simple the ingredients to this are, except the Agar agar, which I have never used, didn't know where to find and found to be Crazy expensive, but I have found other recipes which call for it, including the Boston Cream pie in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World.

Hard White Cheese

11 fl oz (300 ml) water
2 tsp Agar Agar powder
3 1/2 oz (100g) Raw cashew nuts
1/2 oz (12g) nutritional yeast flakes
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp sesame tahini
1-2 tsp onion granules
1-2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic granules.
1. Boil the water and sprinkle agar agar powder on top. Stir and simmer till the flakes have dissolved.
2. Place in a food processor together with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Place in a mould e.g. margarine tub.
3. Chill in fridge overnight.
Great with Crackers and vegetables Crudités, this makes a lot so you can have it for breakfast, lunch, snack and share a bit, if you are feeling generous.

It’s not a cheese for melting or putting on toast or pizza...sadly these are my favourite uses of vegan cheese!

So as you can see the cheese is pretty soft, it’s comparable to a cheesy mustardy hummus really, maybe I will thicken the Agar Agar more next time, or use more of it. I also used Dark Tahini, but would trade up for light next time or use a little less.  I would make this again; this is a great Pate style spread or dip for crackers and vegetables. I added a lot of black pepper when I ate it to spice it up a little bit.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Vegan Mofo; tortilla española; con patata, cebolla y tomate

Spanish Omlette
This experiment was a total success - what a happy surprise, even my ovo-veg bf was impressed and wanted to eat more.
I developed recipe from a rough idea of; scrambled tofu I made years ago, recipe books I’ve read, and what I imagine is in a non-vegan Spanish Omelette. I read the difference between and omelette and a Spanish omelette is the oven grilling, so what about a frittata? I won’t get caught up in the specifics, but this did go in the oven/grill so it’s all good, right?
I started with the potato, onion and tomato and created the tofu mix while the potato was cooking, I leave the skins on for extra taste and fiber, peeling isnt cool.
My basic idea was to add spices to the tofu that I thought would make it taste good and nothing over powering. Cheesy flavour from Nutritional Yeast. Garlic and onion powder were recent discoveries and great to set up the savoury flavour in this, I had Paprika in the spice rack, but splash out on Spanish paprika if you wish. The Turmeric was mostly for colour, but also gives an earth taste.
I’ve been having serious mustard cravings, so tone it down if you are less of a fan. I tasted as I went and adjusted to taste. I could have spiced this up a little more, but honestly it had a good kick already. This Tofu mix could be used as a dip or spread as well, so pull some out to use later if you like the taste.
I would love to try this again with some Chorizo pieces, which are usually quite oily, so would require a reduction in oil.
Almost managed to turn it out on the plate perfectly...

Sliced onion
Cooked Potato cubed
Sliced tomato
I pack Tofu
3 Spoonfuls of Engevieta, Nutritional Yeast
1 teaspoon Olive oil/ Tomato oil (from a jar of sundried tomatoes)
Soya milk
¼ teaspoon Mustard powder
¼ teaspoon Mustard
1 teaspoon Garlic powder
1 teaspoon Onion powder
1 teaspoon Paprika
¼ teaspoon Tumeric
Salt and pepper

Fry onion on a high heat in a little oil until lightly brown, add cooked potato and brown the edges, add the tomato slices in for a minute and season with salt and pepper.
Pour Tofu mixture into pan and fold into with other ingredients; let this cook whilst stirring to cook the tofu mixture, like you would with scrambled tofu.  When it starts feeling more firm, at least 10 minutes, leave it to become solid on the bottom. Pop this under the grill with a few sprays of cooking oil to let it crisp up.
Shake the pan to loosen the Tortilla.
Check by eye and when its browned up; Turn out onto a plate (carefully) and slice up.

Serve with a nice big dressed salad, or a hearty breakfast with Baked Beans and toast.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Vegan 1st; Oyster Sauce and Toasted Sesame Oil

Before I left for travelling my aunt kindly bought me a bottle of Vegan Chinese style Oyster sauce. with the recent success of marinated tofu, I decided to make a dinner having another go at the tofu.
I also picked up some Toasted Sesame Oil, in the spirit of trying new things.

Tofu Veggies and brown rice

I made a HUGE stir fry, so dinner for 2 and lunch for 2 sorted! I was amazed at how much of a Punch of flavour the Toasted Sesame Oil gave to the stir fry. Ive never used it before, but a few drops gives a strong slightly chinese taste. 
I loved the Mushroom sauce, it was rich, full of flaour and not over-sweet. I have used mushroom sauce once before, in Thailand at the cooking school, I think we used it for Pad Thai.

Huge Bowl of Veggies

Stir frying the Veggies

Yummy Sauce

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Vegan Mofo: Carrot Cake Cupcake

This is another 1st for me; Ive never used Carrots or Yoghurt in baking!

I was looking though Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and wondered "Why haven't I made these before!" They seem like a perfectly English recipe, and cake made of vegetable is healthy...right?

I was obligated in my new job to secure my position on the team by hosting the Cakey Friday, I think they made it up to exploit cake from me. These were so lovely, and a really hit with the team too! I kinda wish I had made two batches now!


At first I took them out of the oven and thought they looked a bit over cooked, then when I tried one, it seemed under done in the centre. I was almost ready to start over and make a new batch. But I cooled them and topped with a yoghurt frosting (adapted from Vegan Cream Cheese frosting) and sprinkled a thin layer of chopped walnuts!
Lots of Carrot, and a little Ginger and Cinnamon spice!
Carrot, Walnut and Raisiny goodness!
I put them in the fridge over night and the next day nervously handed them out. Trying one myself I realised they had firmed up nicely. These are very much a make in advance cake, perfect!
I used a bit pot of Alpro Soya Yoghurt for this recipe. My friend tried one, and she kept asking me, "How to you make the sponge so soft?"
These cakes could never be considered dry!!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Vegan 1st: Falafel

Burger or that new falafel recipe?! Oh the choices...I want both!
Warning: falafel food porn commencing
So falafel burger and chips it is.
I was feeling the mood for a good Diner style burger and fries and this really hit the spot.
I got this recipe from a girl at work; she got it from the slimming world website, so it must be low fat. I like it, because it’s all natural ingredients and spices gluten free. The original recipe calls for an egg, which I omitted, also the recipe is to serve 6-8 people; so I reduced the Chickpeas by half and cut some other ingredients down too.
· Grate the 1 carrot in the food processor, removing any chunky bits - chefs perks.
· Add half a chopped onion, 2 cloves grated garlic.
· Freshly ground spices; coriander, cumin, ground ginger and chilli powder
· Tin of drained chickpeas or flageolet beans
· Handful of fresh coriander
The recipe suggests you leave it for a few hours for the flavours to mix, so I made it last night and left time for the flavours to develop in a bowl in the fridge over night.
Make into falafel burgers or balls.
Grill on the George foreman, in the oven, or fry.
I found the nix really crumbly and really needed a nice big dollop of humous! I used low fat humous and mixed in some fresh coriander and served this with some sweet chilli sauce and a side of french fries.


Monday, 15 October 2012

Vegan Mofo 1st; Vegan Swap Box

What a wonderful surprise this weekend to have my Vegan Swap Box arrive!
There was a lovely card inside as well as all the vegan treats.

The box included; Urban Fruit's Strawberries and Cherries, Sugar Free Peppermint Gum, Giant Couscous and the star of the show Indian Sweets.
My swap buddy lives in Leeds and has access to amazing Indian food, as proved by the menu included!

When I was in Mysore this year, I tried Indian sweets for the first time, and they did not dissapoint, they brought back lovely memories. I read in the Lonely Planet that 13 Tons of pure silver is converted into Edible silver to be used every year in the production of similar sweets.
Vegan indian sweets are mostly made of cashew nuts and look amazing!
Also in the package was that HUGE wholewheat couscous, which I had for lunch today, I mixed it with some salad and some chilli powder. This couscous really has to be cooked, even then I left it with a slight biting texture.
I added the Strawberries to my porridge this weekend too!
I've never taken part, and was a little intimidated by what to send myself, but I think my swappie will like what she got too!
I'm off to munch on more Indian sweets now...
You can sign up to the swap here, its once a month:

Vegan Mofo 1st: Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan Cheese

I sprinkled this on some TVP mince and GF tomato pasta. Mmmmm
Found this on the Vegan Society website;
1 oz (25g) nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 oz (12g) blanched almonds
1 tsp salt
Grind all ingredients in food processor until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.
Use as parmesan cheese. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Engevita is pretty big in the Vegan world right? To be truthful the last box of this I had went out of date...So I decided to give it another try. I think the taste takes a while to get used to, but can become pretty addictive, so I hear.  The almonds are a nice addition to give it more body, I would probably use more almonds next time to make this even more crunchy

What’s your favourite use of these little flakes?
Usually I use Life Free From's Parmazano, which is mostly made of Soya Flour, but being able to make Parmesan at home is pretty convenient, if you don’t eat it very often.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Heinz Squeeze Soup Review

I saw these in the shops last year but never thought to try them, as I love making soup but I bought one and was given the other, I hoped they would make a nice change at lunch time. when I'm busy.
They are a sachet of thick condensed soup, that you add water to and have in a cup.
I had two at lunch this week;
I really didn't like the Mediterranean Vegetable flavour as it was sweeter than my cuppa tea!
The Minestrone Soup was miles better, a nice quick lunch with a few Ryvita crackers, and the pasta looked like little lentils.
The first soup really made me want to go out buy a single soup carrier thermos and make my own soup, because there is nothing as tasty and easy to make as homemade soup.
Everyone should made soup at home, it’s the easiest way to make a hot tasty meal whilst using up whatever you have in the fridge.
I have quite a relaxed attitude to soup and general throw in what is to hand then make the decision to blend or not. Leak and Potato is one of my favourite homemade flavours, tinned will never have the same thickness.
Another tale from the exciting life of an office temp.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Vegan 1st; Fresh Figs

I've never had a fresh fig before, so when I saw them for sale in a little local shop, I grabbed this beauty.

 It was a whole new taste experienced; it was comparable to Pomegranate and not too distant from their dried forms, the skin is soft like a peach but filled with seedy fruit.
I will buy more of these and experiment with them in fruit and vegetable salads, but in terms of cost it’s better to use dried figs for cooking.

Vegan Mofo 1st; Vegan Cheesecake Review

 I have seen this cheesecake so many times and thought about splashing out £3.99 but never actually tried it, what have I been missing out on?
This is amazing! I ate a slice of it tonight, it was light but creamy, the base was sweet, spongy (and GF!) and the Passion fruit added a little sharpness.
I was really impressed with the size, I had a good slice and there are still loads left. I think this could feel 6-8 people!
Next time I am too busy to bake cakes for an event I will really think about bringing one of these!
I see the company also make Quiches!

Vegan 1st Mofo; Wagamama’s Japanese Fusion

This is a different kind of 1st, a little history of a young Dada Vegan.
Wagamama is one of my favourite places to out for a meal.
The 1st time I ate at Wagamama was before I went vegan, I was introduced to Wagamama’s by the girl who told me what a vegan diet was! I took my Mr to Wagamama as he had never tried it, and that was 7 years ago. I celebrated my 18th birthday there, and have had lots of date nights with him and nights out with friends there.
My home town Basingstoke doesn’t have any vegetarian restaurants and doesn’t have many independently owned restaurants either.
A few years ago they opened a branch in Heathrow T5 which we had before our flight to Chicago in 2010.
We even found a Wagamama in Australia.
Back to the start, my 1st ever dish there was the Yasai Yaki Soba, (Yasai meaning Vegetable and Soba the type of noodle)
Now my two favourite dishes on their menu are vegan without any changes; the Yasai Itame; a Rice noodle soup with coconut and chilli.
The side dish of Yasai Gyoza; steamed and grilled dumplings with carrot and crunchy water chestnuts.
They also do lovely Juices made with freshly juiced fruits and vegetables (apple skin and all).
They have an allergy sheet and can make a lot of the veggie dishes vegan by changing the noodles or removing the egg. Sadly one dish I really miss is the Yashi Katsu Curry, which is made using eggy Packo bread crumbs.
The Yasai Chilli men, Yasai Cha han can be made vegan.
Anyone who hasn’t tried it, I would say give it a shot, I find the food to be really flavourful, fresh and different.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Vegan Mofo 1st; Gluten Free Bread

Gluten Free Rosemary Focaccia

I’ve never made bread, with gluten or otherwise, so in the spirit of 1sts I bought some Mrs Crimbles Bread Flour mix and some dried yeast; never worked with that before. I found a recipe online for Basil and garlic focaccia, I’ve always wanted to make rosemary focaccia and we have a rosemary plant growing in the garden, so instead of sourcing basil (wrong time of the year) we went with rosemary, and we both love rosemary.

Basically you prepare the bread as per the box, adding oil, warm water and Yeast (scary) to the bowl. Then pop this on a greased tray, sprinkle with GF flour and make into a circle. In a small bowl mix Rosemary, olive oil, lemon juice, chilli flakes, salt and pepper. The fun part is poking big holes and sloshing the oil about, I needed photo taking help as my hands were messy, but I wanted a Photo!

Leave this to prove and it should grow, and then pop it in a preheated oven, till it turns golden brown (texture like sun) about 20-25 minutes. This was pretty awesome to eat alongside the gluten free pasta, a few olives and salad the flavour was really nice.

It did taste a little bit underdone and verged on the side of Yorkshire pudding or toad in the hole. I would make some changes next time, using less oil and trying to get the bread to raise a bit more, warmer water, or warmer proving space?