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.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Chamomile Tea Hot Toddy

The chamomile flower is well known for it's soothing relaxing qualities. It's distinctive flavours are not to everyone's taste though. In herbal tea form it is often paired with honey with the sweetness of the honey tempering the bitterness of the chamomile. As vegans avoid honey I've come up with my own version using coconut sugar instead. According to Barnivore the orange brand name liqueurs Grand Marnier and Cointreau are suitable for vegans as are some brands of triple sec. It's a cross between a cocktail and a medicinal drink as it would also make a great evening drink when you feel you've got a cold coming on as I do today.

Chamomile Hot Toddy

Makes 1 serving

2 teaspoons of loose chamomile flowers or one chamomile teabag
Boiling water
1 shot of orange liqueur or if you don't have this try a shot of brandy and half a freshly squeezed orange
1 teaspoon of coconut sugar (I used Coconom coconut sugar with ginger)

Make a mug of chamomile tea. Once this is brewed stir in the orange liqueur and coconut sugar.

Sit back, sip and relax. Sweet dreams.