Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Vegan White Chocolate and Matcha Green Tea Truffles

This is a really easy truffle recipe that gets great results. I've adapted it from the basic truffle recipe that I've used time and time again with multiple flavour variations.

White Chocolate and Matcha Green Tea Truffles
Makes about 20 truffles

100g of vegan white chocolate (I used 4 of those little bags of buttons)
50g of vegan margarine
1 teaspoon of matcha green tea
25g of ground almonds
1 tablespoon of soya cream
150g icing sugar
Ground almonds and cocoa powder to dust

Melt the white chocolate and margarine in a pan over a low heat.
Remove from the heat and stir in the matcha powder and cream followed by the icing sugar and ground almonds.
Leave the mixture to cool. Once cool take teaspoonfuls and roll into balls. Then roll half in ground almonds and half in cocoa powder.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Vegan Lapsang Souchong Marzipan Fruitcake

I've recently fallen totally in love with Lapsang Souchong tea and like to take a mug of it in my travel cup on my train journey into work in the mornings. I add a splash of soya milk and sometimes a bit of agave or Sweet Freedom. If you've never tried it, it's a very smokey tasting and smelling tea. Matt hates it and calls it ashtray tea! It's definitely a 'marmite' tea. I first tried it as a teeenager and thought it was disgusting but now I can't get enough of it! The smoke flavour is entirely natural and comes from the pine trees in the area where it's grown. The smoke from the pinewood drifts through and permeates the tea as it dries out on bamboo trays. One way I've managed to get Matt to imbibe some is by infusing a cake with it.

I found a couple of recipes on the internet that helped inspire this vegan Lapsang Souchong cake. There's the famous Nigella Marzipan Fruitcake which uses rum rather than tea (I've had great success veganising this and subbing the rum for whisky) and also this adaption of the Nigella cake to use Lapsang Souchong tea by Maison Cupcake. The tea flavour is pretty subtle and the recipe makes a decadent super sweet cake with the pear and marzipan flavours working wonderfully well. This cake needs no topping although if you don't like the look of a plain fruitcake you could add some artfully arranged blanched almonds.


150g raisins
100g dried cherries*
120g dried pears, chopped small*
100ml of lapsang souchong tea for soaking the fruit**
250ml of marzipan, diced
50g of ground almonds
175 g plain flour
100g caster sugar
100g vegan margarine
2 egg replacer eggs (I used powdered egg replacer)
2 tablespoons of orange liqueur (or orange juice or other spirit or liqueur)
2 tablespoons of freshly brewed Lapsang Souchong tea for adding to the cake batter

* The only place I found the dried cherries and pears was a big Tesco. If you can't get them sub with other dried fruit (pineapple would be great) or glace cherries.

**I used Twinings tea bags which are widely available

The night before mix the raisins, dried cherries and chopped dried pears in a large bowl and cover with the 100ml of lapsang souchong. Dice the marzipan into small dice and put it in the freezer.
Leave these overnight.

In the morning grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm springform cake tin with greaseproof paper.
Set the oven to 140C/280F/Gas 1.

Beat together the almonds, sugar, flour, margarine and egg replacer. Add the fruit mixture, orange liqueur, two tablespoons of freshly brewed Lapsang Souchong and frozen marzipan. Add the mixture to the tin, levelling the surface with a slight indent in the middle.

Bake for 2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean. If it starts to brown on the top before it is cooked then cover the top with foil.

Let it cool in the tin and then enjoy with a cup of tea.

Monday, 15 September 2014

London Fog Earl Grey Latte

This seems an apt drink for today as there is mist covering the hills round Glossop and it feels like Autumn is well and truly here. I'd never heard of London Fog Lattes until I spotted them on the menu in the cafe in Oklahoma in Manchester a couple of years ago. Oklahoma is a fab gift shop with adjoining veggie friendly cafe in Manchester's Northern Quarter that is definitely one to check out if you're visiting the city.

For my homemade version I use a tea bag from Pukka. I love Pukka teas, threy're always such great quality and their earl grey has the bonus of an added hint of lavender.

I used sweetened soya milk which I heated then frothed up with my mini battery operated whisk. I picked up this whisk for about £1.50 on eBay and it's had endless use.

1 strongly brewed cup of Earl Grey (I made about 1/3 of the mug)
Soya or other plant milk of your choice
1 teaspoon of Sweet Freedom or agave syrup
Cinnamon to sprinkle (optional)

I served the latte in my Too Happy Vegans travel mug which I like to use on my morning commute. I won it a few years a ago in a competition on the Too Happy Vegans blog. If you've not come across the blog before you should definitely check it out. It's written by friends Mitsu and Sasha who've done lots of great things for the vegan community (including organising the UK vegan food swap) and is especially great for reviews of new products and places to eat in London.
Ps- In the background is an original 1970's biscuit tin we got from a fab shop called Vintage Finds in Glossop. It looks brand new and has a little filter inside the lid to keep those Jammie Dodgers and Chocolate Chip HobNobs nice and fresh! Best biscuit tin ever.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Mint Tea Julep

It's the weekend so here's this week's tea infused cocktail recipe. I used to work in the wine and spirit industry and I can remember being at a rum tasting and it being a real revelation to see cheap white rum being transformed for use in a cocktail after it was muddled with an Earl Grey tea bag, muddling being the mixologists term for giving it a good old stir. My friend Julian reminded me of this when he told me all his many uses for peppermint tea bags including iced tea, cocktails and even gravy! I've taken the idea here to make a quick and easy mint julep. So, if fresh mint leaves are not available as long as you've got some mint teabags in your store cupboard you need never go without a julep or mojito. I just love cocktail accessories. She's not very clear in the picture but on the end of the stirrer is an Hawaiian hula dancer. I have a set of these and a set of monkeys wearing fezs.

Mint Tea Julep
Serves 1


1 peppermint teabag
50ml/2 fl oz of bourbon
1 teaspoon of icing sugar (powdered sugar)
6-8 icecubes

Place the mint tea bag, bourbon and sugar in a cocktail shaker and gently muddle with a spoon for a few minutes.

Add the ice cubes, shake then strain into a tumbler over ice.

Do you have any other use for mint tea bags?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Manchester's Vegan Bubble Tea Bar

The only time I've tried bubble tea was about 6 years ago in New York. I remember being excited when shortly afterwards a bubble tea cafe opened in Manchester's  Chinatown but alas the drinks were dairy based and not suitable for vegans. I thought vegan bubble tea must just be a New York thing.

With that in mind I've often walked past Bobo Tea, the bubble tea bar in Manchester's Arndale Shopping Centre without giving it a second thought. With my Mofo theme as tea though I started thinking about bubble tea and sent Bobo a tweet just on the off chance they could do a vegan option. To my delight they tweeted right back saying all their drinks could be made vegan and recommending the iced tea with jellies (coconut flesh).

The bubble teas are made up from a flavour, a creamer (ask for soy powder instead of dairy), black or green tea, ice and tapioca balls (these are the bubbles). The result is a sweet, milky tea drink that you drink through a wide straw that also sucks up the chewy tapioca balls. These are kind of tasteless but strangely addictive.

My sister and I chose almond and coconut flavour bubble teas respectively. We both found the almond a little strong and sweet tasting for our palates but loved the coconut which was more subtle, refreshing, yet really creamy tasting. I'm already looking forward to going back to try more flavours and also check out their iced tea recommendations. The prices are similar to a latte in a coffee shop and the drinks are a fun alternative.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Lapsang Souchong Smoked Tofu

When I decided to do tea for my Mofo theme I started having a look around the internet to see what kind of savoury tea related recipes people have created. One that caught my eye was this Smoked Tea Infused Tofu from the wonderful blog Seitan Is My Motor. I tweaked the recipe changing a few ingredients whilst hoping it would come out like a almost bacon like tofu I once made with tofu that had been frozen first.

A 250g block of tofu, frozen and then defrosted
150ml of lapsang souchong tea (2 teabags), brewed and left to cool
1 dessert spoon of Henderson's relish (if you can't find this Sheffield delicacy then veggie Worcestershire Sauce will do)
1 dessert spoon of soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
2 dessertspoons of maple syrup
2 cloves of pressed garlic

Once the tofu has defrosted, press it with kitchen towels to get the water out. Slice the tofu and place in a large dish. Pour over the marinade and leave overnight.
Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry the tofu slices until browned on each side. This takes good cold and we had it in a salad with chopped avocado.

It didn't come out bacon like as I'd hoped. I think the tofu was so spongy it soaked up loads of the marinade. Thinking back I seem to remember a dry rub and grilling the tofu to get a crispy outcome. It did have great flavours though. The texture reminded me more of strips of omelette. It worked really well too on a barm cake as a BLT and was definitely worth experimenting with.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Vegan Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

This is an old favourite recipe of mine for a super fast and tasty shortbread cookie that can be whipped up and on your plate in less time than it takes to walk to the shop to buy a packet of biscuits. They look and sound fancy too so they make a great gift. They are very easy to make and if you're not an Earl Grey fan try subbing it with chai.


Makes 16 biscuits

1/2 cup of vegan margarine
1/2 cup if icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
Couple of drops of vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons of plain flour
1/8 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1/8 teaspoon of salt
The contents of 3 Earl Grey teabags

Preheat the oven to 350F/ 180C/ Gas Mark 4

Grease and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper or use a silpat mat

Beat the margarine until creamy. add the vanilla extract and icing sugar and beat again.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in the contents of the teabags.

Fold this mixture into the icing sugar and margarine mixture. Add a bit more flour if it's too sticky.

Roll out onto a floured board and cut out with your favourite cookie cutters.

Transfer to the baking tray and bake for 12-14 minutes until they start to turn golden.

Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

Whilst they cool put the kettle on and make yourself a pot of Earl Grey.