Thursday, 23 October 2014

Vegan Life magazine - Issue 2

Did you manage to get hold of a copy of the first issue of new magazine Vegan Life? We were inspired by the article on a vegan wine and cheese evening and took advantage of an offer that Marks and Spencer's had on for 25% off 6 or more bottles of wine. It brought the price of this lot down to a fiver a bottle and we enjoyed trying them. My favourite was the third from the left, the PX. This was a crisp Chilean white. PX which is short for Pedro Ximenez is a grape usually associated with Spain and amazing sticky, sweet almost treacle toffee flavoured sherry. It was interesting to try it in a different style. M and S do a great job of labeling their wines as vegan and seeing as there is an M and S food at the end of our road we've been enjoying trying the range.

Issue 2 of Vegan Life is out now. You can see a preview of it here. I read my copy cover to cover yesterday evening. It took me over 3 hours, there's so much in it. There's a really great range of features and definitely something for everyone. I was really impressed with the variety. As one of the bloggers featured on their website I get a free digital subscription but I did also buy a copy of the first issue from WH Smiths. It's such a nicely printed magazine on quality paper that we're going to take out a subscription to get copies posted to us. It works out better value than buying individual copies and there's currently a subscription offer where the first 200 people get a free Organii shower gel and liquid soap worth over a tenner.

Very excitingly there is an article in this issue of the magazine on Cake Liberation Front. We're hoping it will inspire lots of people to hold their own CLF events. There's posters and graphics on the website that can be used for free to help with this. Don't forget that the t-shirts we did recently with Philosophy Football are still available. These would make great Christmas presents and are really high quality shirts.They can be found in the dissenters section of their website.

One of the parts of the magazine that I immediately turn to is the recipe section. There's plenty of variety ranging from ideas for Christmas cooking to raw food treats. There's also several features with recipes from selected cookery books which is a great way to get a flavour of a book before buying. I also enjoyed the feature on carob. Carob has had a bit of a bad rap over the years but the secret is to not compare it to chocolate. It used to marketed as a chocolate alternative and it simply isn't. It is great in it's own right though. I often use it in smoothies and I have been known to put carob chips in cookies when I've been able to find them. It's packed with vitamins and I was pleased to find a new way to feature it in my diet. Below is my version of a recipe from the magazine for a spicy warming drink. There's fresh ginger, maple syrup, cinnamon, cardamon, soya milk and boiling water in there. I slightly misread the recipe and had a much higher ratio of soya milk to hot water than it said but I don't think I'd change it as it really worked for me. This was such a lovely indulgent, spicy, treacle flavoured drink, just perfect for a winter's evening. Has anyone got any other uses for carob?

Monday, 20 October 2014


Matt's new job has taken him to the town of Ashton Under Lyne. After spending the last couple of years working in Manchester's Northern Quarter which caters brilliantly for vegans, he was a little worried about lunch options. Ashton however caters surprisingly well for non meat eaters. I joined him over there for lunch one Friday afternoon. Our choice of cafe was Topaz. Topaz is on the ground floor of a centre run by mental health charity, Mind.

All of the food is vegetarian and most of it is either vegan or veganisable. They also use veg which they grow on their own allotment. Matt went for kolrabi fritters with a gorgeous sweet pepper dish. I had tagliatelle with homemade pesto, olives, broad beans and rocket. Both dishes were delicious and really fresh tasting.

We managed to squeeze in some dessert too. 

This chocolate cake was pretty good but the real star was this apple crumble and custard.

We had a quick chat with the head chef Kevin before we left. He's run various veggie restaurants over the years. It turned out he was running a place in Leicester that Matt used to go in and was the creator of one of Matt's favourite food memories, an outstanding cashew cream he tried back in the nineties!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Earl Grey IPA

In keeping with my tea theme I'll be finishing off Veganmofo 2014 by raising a glass of Earl Grey beer to all the bloggers round the world who've taken part in this fantastic event. Well done everyone! I feel like I've only skimmed the surface of what's out there so I'll be doing what I do every year and that's using my lunch breaks at work to check out all the blogs that have taken part between now and Mofo 2015.

This lovely Indian pale ale is brewed by a local Manchester brewery, Marble Beers. Their beers are available more widely though so keep an eye out for them. Although they carry the Vegetarian Society logo they are all in fact suitable for vegans. Check out the full range and the lovely bottle designs. My mate Jan is their graphic designer and gets to taste all the new beers first, what a great job!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Vegan Orange and Pecan Rooibos Teabread

A few years ago the supermarket chain Lidl used to sell some great value interestingly flavoured redbush teabags. As well as the standard Redbush or Rooibos as it's also known there was caramel and orange flavours. My favourite was the orange and this recipe is inspired by the memory of it.

Orange and Pecan Rooibos Teabread


2 cups of plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 a teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of caster sugar
1/4 cup of sunflower or melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of orange extract
2 rooibos (redbush) teabags brewed in 1 1/4 cups (250ml or 1/4 litre) of freshly boiled water
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1/2 a cup of candied peel
2 tablespoons of marmalade

Pre-heat the oven to 350C/ 180F/ Gas 4
Grease and flour a loaf tin.

Add the boiling water to the teabags and set to one side to brew.

Sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and caster sugar and mix together.

Add the oil, vanilla extract, orange extract and tea. The teabags will have absorbed a bit of the water so top back up to the original amount. Stir into the dry mixture.

Fold in the chopped pecans, candied peel and marmalade.

Put the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes.

Cool on a cooling rack before removing from a tin.

Enjoy on it's own or with a thin spreading of vegan margarine or coconut oil.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Cherry and Cinnamon Tea Cosmopolitan

I'm usually more of a fan of herbal rather than fruit teas but I do love these Cherry and Cinnamon teabags from Twinnings. They make a lovely refreshing hot or cold drink and lend themselves well to use in a fruity cocktail. Make a strong cup of tea ahead of time (I used two teabags in a small cup) and allow to cool.

Serves 1

A double shot of vodka
A single shot of orange liqueur
A single shot of cherry and cinnamon tea
A squeeze of fresh lime juice

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a martini glass and serve.

Have you used tea in any cocktails?

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Vegan Earl Grey Chocolate Truffles

I love to make truffles and really wanted to make a couple of tea themed truffle recipes for Mofo. Check out my White Chocolate and Matcha Green Tea Truffles as well. I based this recipe on this one I found at Epicurious, veganising it and adding the orange zest as it's a good compliment to the bergamot orange flavouring in the Earl Grey. This would be great made with loose tea leaves but it also works well with a high quality teabag such as Pukka's Gorgeous Earl Grey which also has added lavender, another flavour that works fantastically well with Earl Grey.


Makes about 30 truffles

2/3 cup of soya cream
2 tablespoons of vegan margarine
2 teaspoons of loose leaf Earl Grey tea or the contents of 2 good quality teabags
6oz of good dark chocolate
1 teaspoon of grated orange zest
Powdered chocolate for rolling the truffles


Heat the margarine and cream in a pan until melted. Stir in the tea and leave for 5 minutes.

Whilst the tea mixture is steeping, whiz the chocolate up in a food processor to form a powder. Place in a bowl.

Sieve the cream mixture through a fine sieve or tea strainer onto the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is dissolved. Stir in the orange zest.

If you have any problems with the chocolate dissolving just pop the bowl in a pan of hot water and stir until melted. I made half the recipe and the cream mixture cooled quickly. This sorted it out.

Place the resulting chocolate ganache mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.

Take teaspoons of the mixture and roll into balls then roll the balls in powdered cocoa powder. Serve in miniature cases.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Popcorn Tea Poached Pears with Ninjabread Men

I've made tea poached pears a few times in the past but always with Earl Grey. I decided for Mofo to try a different tea. I came across this recipe online for Ginger and Jasmine Tea-Poached Pears. It sounded great and I was going to use Jasmine tea until I came across this organic Genmaicha 'popcorn' tea in my local Chinese supermarket. The popcorn flavours come from the addition of roasted rice and make the tea smell and taste great.

First off I made some tea in our new teapot which was a house warming gift from our friend Sarah and her family. Isn't it fab!

This then went into a large pan. Alongside the strongly brewed tea there was Coconom Ginger coconut sugar and slices of fresh ginger.

The recipe recommended serving with your favourite gingersnap cookies so I got on with making some whilst the pears stewed.

My ninjabread cookie cutters were a Christmas gift from my friend Susan and this recipe seemed perfect for their first outing! Here they are fighting over the pears.