Sunday, 30 January 2011

Weekend grub

It's been a nice relaxing weekend with the chance to potter around, knit, watch films and do some cooking. I've been trying for the last few weeks to do more cooking on the weekends and freeze things for later in the week. Yesterday morning I made a huge pan of vegetable bourguignon from a Rose Elliott recipe which smelled amazing and has a pint of red wine in it.

The bourguignon was served with a baked potato and I also put some sweet potatoes in at the same time. I used them to make the wonderful Sweet Potato Falafel from the cookery book by the Leon chain of healthy fast food restaurants in London. Here are the falafels before they are baked in the oven.

They made a delicious lunch with mayola, sweet chilli sauce and salad in a wholemeal pitta. I froze some too for lunches later in the week. Not forgetting sweet stuff there was also a lemon and coconut cake. I used the bundt cake recipe from Veganomicon, halved it and baked it in a loaf tin.

The Linda McCartney recipe competition has now closed. Thank you to everyone who voted for my dish. The judges are now going to make some of the dishes in the test kitchen and select 3 finalists who will be filmed making their dish and this will be show on ITV before going to an online public vote. I got an message this morning from Robin who owns The Greenhouse vegetarian restaurant in Manchester saying that they had made my Butternut Hotpot recipe and it had gone down well! I love the picture of his dish, much more photogenic than my attempt!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Yay, It's Vegan Pizza Day!!!

Today is the first ever official Vegan Pizza Day that is likely to become an annual event knowing how much all the vegans I know love pizza! Although the vegan pizza didn't win the recent Pizza Express competition it did reach the top five and Pizza Express say they have noted the demand. The Vegan Pizza Day website is developing as a good resource for where to find vegan pizza in the states and I thought I'd let you know what we have in Manchester.

Cornerhouse is one of my favourite places in Manchester. It's an independent cinema, contemporary art gallery, bar and cafe. They've been featuring a vegan pizza on their menu for a couple of years now. It's a cheese free thin crust with roasted vegetables and spinach. I had one last Friday before going to see Black Swan - good pizza, good film. They also have a couple of other vegan friendly options such a hummus, baba ganoush, olives, pittas etc and a vegetable tagine.

Odd, Odder and Oddest are two city centre and one Chorlton based bars. They do a wonderful vegan breakfast and a very yummy sweet potato burger. Veggie pizzas are available without cheese.

The number one place to go for vegan pizza in Manchester is the wonderful Dough Pizza Kitchen. This is an independent in the Northern Quarter which is the area to go for vegan food if you're visiting Manchester with Dough, Odd, Earth Cafe, Nexus Art Cafe, Oklahoma, Ning, Sweet Tooth Cupcakery and the best place for cupcakes - Cocoa Emporium in Afflecks Palace, all within minutes of each other. There's also loads of vintage shops and independent bars and businesses. Dough offers you a choice of standard, wholewheat and gluten free bases - I've tried them all and they are all tasty. There are several vegetarian pizzas on the menu and they can all be made with dairy free cheese. My personnal favourite is the fungi but I have friends who always go for the spicy veg. And, unlike anywhere else they also offer a range of dairy free ice creams and sorbets. It's a must try place if you are visiting the city.

Friday, 28 January 2011

The Rise of The Vegan Cake!

It feels like a leap forward is happening at the moment with vegan food becoming more easily available and part of the mainstream. There's still a long way to go until vegan options are as easily available as vegetarian but it feels like it's getting closer. There was an excellent article this week in the Irish Independent by journalist Aoife Barry who is also writer of the Adventures in Veg blog and one of the bakers featured is Glauce from the blog All About (Vegan) Food!

Over in Manchester we had our second Cake Liberation Front meet up. The first was 2 months ago where we had 25 people. This time we had 50! Ages ranged from 2 weeks to 74 and we had vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters all enjoying the all you can eat cake buffet!

The standard of baked goods was fantastic, people are really raising the bar and I'm looking forward to the next meet up on March 20 already!

We've now got a Flickr group set up and you can see more photos from both this, the November meeting and the Bed-In event we did at the Bluecoat Gallery where had breakfast in bed giving away vegan muffins as part of a series of events celebrating John Lennon's 70th birthday by recreating the famous Bed-Ins that John and Yoko did in the 1960s.

Monday, 24 January 2011


My Butternut Hotpot recipe has been picked for this weeks shortlist in the competition to design a new Linda McCartney readymeal. If you'd like to vote, please follow this link. Click on the picture of this dish, then click on rate this dish to cast a vote. Thanks x

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Chocolate Truffles

These are really easy to make chocolate truffles which make great gifts. This basic recipe came from the little magazine that my local health food co-op The Eighth Day publish. I've made many variations over the years such as chocolate orange (with orange brandy and candied peel added), chocolate mint with some mint extract and white chocolate and whisky.

Chocolate Truffles
Makes about 20 truffles

100g plain chocolate
50g vegan margarine
1 tablespoon of dark rum or strong coffee
25g of ground almonds
1 tablespoon of soya cream
150g icing sugar
Cocoa powder to dust

Melt the chocolate and margarine together. Mix in the rum/coffee and cream, then the icing sugar and ground almonds.

Refrigerate until firm. Shape into balls and roll in cocoa powder.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Whisky Noons

I work in an office where we are pretty much glued to our computers so biscuits are an important part of the day! Back in December I invented a cookie that was a marriage of cocoa, white and dark choc chips and amaretto for my colleague Jen's birthday. Last week another workmate and fellow blogger had a birthday which inspired the invention of Whisky Noons, a delicate shortbread type biscuit.

Whisky Noons


½ cup of vegan sunflower margarine (I used Vitalite)

½ cup of icing sugar

1 and 1/2 cups of plain flour

1/8 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

1/8 teaspoon of salt

zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

2 tablespoons of whisky

½ cup of ground almonds

½ cup of choclate chips

Grease and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F/ 180C/ Gas 4

Using an electric whisk beat the margarine until creamy. Add the icing sugar and whisky and beat again.

In a separate bowl sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and almonds and mix together.

Fold the flour mix into the margarine mixture in 2 batches. Fold in the lemon zest and chocolate chips.

Roll a dessertspoonful of the mixture into a ball. Place on the baking tray and flatten with a fork.

Bake for 12-14 mins until starting to turn golden. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Cake, Curries, Birthdays and Babies

I've had a busy few days visiting people. On Friday, I spent the afternoon visiting my sister, who's just celebrated her 40th birthday and got to hang out with her and my gorgeous twin niece and nephew.

On Saturday, I spent the evening with my friends Jan and Dave. I took over some curries and a mocha cake for Dave's birthday. The cake is the coffee and walnut cake from The Cake Scoffer with the Chocolate Ganache Frosting from Vegan with a Vengeance. Dave is the brilliant graphic designer who created the Cake Liberation Front website graphics. Our next meeting is next Sunday if you're in the Manchester Area.

We were also celebrating the arrival of their new baby girl, who'll be the youngest person at the meeting! What a cutie!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Competition to create the next Vegan Readymeal

Whilst the range is vegetarian, there's not much in the Linda McCartney section of the freezer that is vegan. However, they are currently running a competition for the next ready meal. You send in a recipe and 10 get shortlisted each week for the public to vote on. The top 3 will then go into a play off. I've just entered my Butternut Squash Hotpot recipe.

The prizes are a new cooker (yes please!) and a lovely handmade kitchen table and the winning recipe will be widely available. The competitions only running until the end of Jan so get an entry in now or if you're not entering remember to vote for your favourite vegan dish.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Chickpea and Chorizo Stew

I really enjoyed watching 'Toast' on tv at Christmas time which is based on the autobiography of chef Nigel Slater. I went on his website after watching it to see if there was anything vegan.

What did catch my eye in the Winter section was a lovely simple recipe for Chickpeas with Chorizo. I veganised it with Redwoods Cheatin Chorizo Style Chunks, in my opinion the best fake meat substitute around. I love putting them in scrambled tofu too. I omitted the dried chillis as the chorizo is spicy enough for me on it's own. I used a tin of tomates instead of fresh, only 1 tin of chickpeas (Suma - the best tinned ones I've found) and my left over Christmas sherry was Harveys rather than a dry style. It was so delicious served with baked sweet potatoes, crusty bread and corn chips. I think this will become at regular dish in my household!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Chocolate Stout and Cranberry Tea Bread

This tea loaf is incredibly easy to make and leaves you scratching your head as to how it can work with so few ingredients but believe me it does and provides a delicious afternoon treat!

Chocolate Stout and Cranberry Tea Loaf

2 cups of plain flour
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
3/4 cup of caster sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
12 fluid oz of stout
1/2 cup of cranberries
3/4 cup of good dark chocolate chopped into chunks

Pre-heat the oven to 350F/ 180C/ Gas Mark 4

Grease and flour a 1lb loaf tin.

Sieve the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg into a bowl and mix together.
Pour in the stout and stir well until combined.
Fold in the cranberries and chocolate chunks.
Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes.
Let it cool in the tin on a cooling rack before eating.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Bear

Manchester Vegans are lucky in that we also have West Yorkshire a short train ride away which is a very vegan friendly area with establishments like the wonderful Dandelion and Burdock in the town of Sowerby Bridge, numerous veggie friendly places in Hebden Bridge and The Bear Cafe in Todmorden. It was The Bear we headed to for lunch yesterday and to celebrate the birthdays of 2 MVSers, Lynmarie and Jen.

I was so busy catching up with folks I forgot to take any pictures of food! The menu is 100% vegetarian with about 40% of it vegan. There were lots of tasty stews on offer as well as salads and lighter lunches like my grilled tomatoes on toast with miso spread. I followed that up with an oaty chocolate and cherry slice and a hot ginger and pear drink. The Bear is run as a co-op and there is a great healthfood shop on the ground floor. It's worth a walk round the town too for the charity shops, second hand book shop and a treasure trove of an antiques shop that is right next door.

I loved this 3 tier wooden cake stand - isn't it fab! Unfortunately, I had to talk myself out of it though as at £35 it's just too long til payday!