Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Chocolate and Courgette Muffins

A few weeks ago I had one of those wonderful baking experiences where you just throw together what you have in your cupboards/ fridge and it comes together perfectly. This included a courgette that needed using up and a bottle of date syrup that I'd bought a while back on a whim but then not been sure what to use it for. Although Chocolate, Courgette sugar free muffins may sound quite worthy I can assure you that they tasted anything but. The date syrup added rich toffee flavours and the coconut oil a fabulous butteriness. Quite simply these were some of the fluffiest, tastiest muffins I've ever made and I've made a lot of vegan muffins in the last 9 years! I'm really glad that I took time to write the recipe down as I will definitely be making these again.

Chocolate and Courgette Muffins
Makes 10


5oz/ 125g of plain flour
2oz/ 50g of cocoa
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
4 fl oz of soya milk
1/2 cup of coconut oil
3/4 cup of date syrup
1 small grated courgette (4oz/ 100g)

Pre-heat the oven to 360F/ 180C

Sieve and mix the flour through to cinammon on the ingredients list.

In a separate bowl whisk together the vanilla extract through to the date syrup.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently mix then fold in the courgette.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Cooking with Stout

I've been enjoying cooking with stout and chocolate recently as they are such a great flavour combination. I blogged about making this ice cream back in January.  The recipe for the Vegan Chocolate Stout ice cream is from a blog called the Beeroness and I highly recommend it if you like these kind of flavours. I followed the recipe in full this time and added the toasted coconut which gave an extra dimension. I don't have an ice cream maker but the beauty of this recipe is that you don't need one and the texture is spot on. I'd also recommend Sainsbury's Coconut Milk as all the tins I've bought recently have been more like a thick coconut cream than milk and therefore perfect for ice cream making.

The cake in the picture was another great recipe discovery which I found through Googling. It's this recipe from the Culinary Orgasm blog. Interestingly neither this blogger or the Beeroness are actually vegans but they have written fantastic vegan friendly recipes.

And finally here's my own recipe Chocolate, Stout and Cranberry Tea Loaf made as mini loaves drizzled with icing made from Sugar and Crumbs Chocolate Orange icing sugar. I'm always on the look out for vegan friendly stouts as a lot of makes use isinglass. Has anyone any recommendations?

Monday, 29 June 2015

Kitchen Art

We've been in our house for a year and are slowly doing it up. We had to have a really extensive rewire which left the walls and ceilings in most rooms in a bit of mess so there's still a lot to do. The first room we got round to painting was the kitchen and months later we've finally we've got round to hanging our collection of food related art. A colour that united all the pieces was orange so we've gone for this Morrocan Flame colour for a feature wall with the rest of it white.

I love text art and I bought this 'What do Vegans Eat' print from Herbivore in Portland when I was on holiday there a few years ago. You can still buy it online here. For $12 for a hand screen printed print it's a bit of a bargain.

Excuse the reflection in the next few pictures which were taken on my phone. This print was a little more expensive as it's a limited edition print from British artist Jo Peel. It's of the Henderson's Relish Factory in Sheffield. If you're not aware of Henderson's it's a condiment similar to a veggie Worcestershire sauce which gets used loads in our house and is great splashed into soups, stews and gravy. The print is now sold out but Jo has loads of other great ones. I really love the tower block prints of the Balfron and Trellick Towers in London.

This piece isn't artist produced but is actually some framed tupperware labels from the 1970's that were Matt's grandmas.

Finally, we've wanted one of these for ages and I've been searching eBay for old cafe boards with no luck. I spotted one on the counter of a coffee shop in Manchester with their drinks prices on and asked the staff where they got it from and they pointed me in the direction of a shop fittings shop a few streets away. The cobs/barms refers to the regional variations in what Matt and I call bread rolls. Does anyone else have any food related art work?

My friend Sarah sent me a picture of this fab drawing that her dad did one evening when they were sitting in the kitchen sharing a drink and putting the world to rights. The text at the bottom reads 'My other cooker's an Aga'. I love it!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Vegan Life Issue 6

Issue Six of Vegan Life could be subtitled the protein issue. I thought that this was a great idea to focus on protein especially for new vegans or those considering changing to a plant based diet. There's lots of great recipes featuring tofu, tempeh and seitan as well as beans and seeds. The magazine even features the Smokehouse Chickpeas recipe from Salad Samurai that you might have spotted in my last post.

It also featured this Well Dressed Tofu Bowl from The Great Vegan Protein Book. I'd not been aware of this book but seeing as it's by two great vegan cookbook writers - Celine Steen and Tasmin Noyes, I'm really glad to have discovered it. I love bowls like this. They are pretty quick to prepare but you feel like you're having a fancy treat. The tofu is coated in a sauce made from peanut butter that is flavoured with rice vinegar, lemon, miso, garlic and sesame oil and is delicious.

As well as the recipes I also enjoyed reading articles about some inspiring people ranging from a vegan athletes to a mother and daughter who run a not for profit home made dog biscuit business raising thousands of pounds for animal charities. I usually make a cake recipe from each issue but there's no big cake recipe this time however there's some lovely sounding Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies that are definitely on my to do list especially as they can be made gluten free if you use gluten free oats. Has anyone else made any recipes from this issue?

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Salad Days

Throughout Winter I love home made soup for lunch but as the weather has warmed up (slightly) I've started to be all about the salad. This is thanks in part to getting a copy of the wonderful Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero for Christmas. There's often a few different components to the recipes such as making dressings or marinades but I've been so impressed with the flavour combinations it's worth the preparation time. This first picture is the Smokehouse Chickpeas n Greens Salad. I've made this one several times now and it's become a big favourite with what has to be one of the nicest ways ever to eat chickpeas - roasted in tamari, liquid smoke, maple syrup and nooch.

I used a packet of ready cooked lentils for this bowl. It's the Gingery Beets and Lentils with Tahini and Agave Nectar. The beets are roasted in olive oil and smoked salt and are so delicious. There's not one but two sauces to prepare - a ginger and orange vinegrette and not pictured here a lemon, tahini dressing which is drizzled over just before serving.

Being in Derbyshire I couldn't find collards for this Collards and Sweet Potato Crunch Bowl but it subbed successfully with massaged kale instead. There's also black beans in there, roasted sweet potatoes, a wonderful orange and smoked paprika vinaigrette and a topping of almonds that have been oven cooked in maple syrup, liquid smoke and sriacha or in my case sweet chilli sauce.

Even when I've not has chance to prepare salads and I've had to buy lunches I've been pleased to find a couple of vegan friendly salads in Boots Meal Deals which combined with a coconut water and a Trek Protein Crunch bar make a decent, healthy lunch. Also, Marks and Spencers have just introduced a load more salads to their 2 for £3 range. This picture below is made up of a variety of Marks salads including a Mexican Rice and Avocado salad, a slaw and a garlicy potato salad.

Has anyone any recommendations from Salad Samurai for what I should try next?

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Coconut Treats

I've been enjoying coconut products a lot recently. I've been using Lucy Bee coconut oil for cooking, roasting and in cakes. It's especially good in frosting. I've also really fallen in love with Coconut Collaborative coconut yoghurt as a weekly treat with some granola for one of my work breakfasts.

I think this picture shows the ultimate coconut treat though! Here we've got frozen Coconut Cream Desert from Marks and Spencers which is drizzled with the new Coconut Choc Shot and then topped with Nudie Snacks Coconut Chips. Wow, such a nice treat and so exciting that all this is easily available. When I first became vegan you were lucky if you could find Swedish Glace vanilla icecream. It's great to see all these alternatives becoming available. I can also highly recommend the Coconut, Pineapple and Lime Ice lollies from Marks and Spencers too.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Nothing But Review

I recently got sent some bags of Nothing But fruit snacks to try. My initial thought was that I'd save them until my twin four year old niece and nephew came round as I thought they'd appeal to children but I'm afraid the kids didn't get a look in! The snacks are made from freeze dried fruit slices. The fruit is cut up, the water removed and then it's bagged up. Simple. This leads to a very low calorie (between 34-45 cals per bag) snack with only naturally occuring sugar. The bags are light weight so would work equally well in a lunch box or as a travel snack.

In my office we have a snack table that is constantly full of sweets, chocolate and biscuits. Seeing as we have two vegans and a coeliac on the team, people are really considerate and often add things that appeal to all. Whilst I'm not immune to the temptations of the snack table I do try to limit my afternoon snacks to fruit rather than sugary treats as I find it's better at keeping my energy levels up. The flavours I tried were Strawberry + Banana, Pineapple + Grape and Apple + Fig. I really enjoyed all of the combinations. The Apple and Fig flavours blended really well together and the Strawberry and Banana had a nice contrast with the strawberry being almost wafer like and the banana providing a contrasting crunch. I think my favourite though was the Pineapple and Grape combo which was super sweet and almost sherbet like! I've tried fruit crisps before and not been keen as they've been a bit oily but there is no oil used with these. The company also make a range of vegetable snacks too which sound interesting. I'll definitely be adding Nothing But to my afternoon snacks in the future and I'll also be getting some in for my niece and nephew to try too!