Monday, 28 February 2011

Choc Chip Lemon Cake

I really love the flavour combination of fresh zingy lemon and dark chocolate. I used it here in this Choc Chip Lemon Cake. It's the cake in the first photo from Saturday's post. Really quick and easy to make with minimal washing up!

Choc Chip Lemon Cake

2 cups of plain flour + a bit extra to dust the baking tin
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of caster sugar
1/2 cup of soya or other non dairy milk
1/2 cup of sunflower oil
finely grated zest of an unwaxed lemon
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of lemon extract
100g bag or 3/4 cup of dark chocolate chips
Vegan margarine for greasing the pan

Preheat your oven to 180C/ 350F/ Gas 4
Prepare your baking pan (I used an 8 x 8 inch brownie pan) by greasing with vegan margarine and then dusting this with a little flour.
Sieve together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and sugar and stir well.
Add the milk, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract and lemon extract and stir until all the flour mixture is combined.
Fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour into the baking tin and bake for around 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool on a cooling rack before releasing from the baking pan.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Yay, it's Saturday!

Wow, this has felt like a long week. I was more than ready for spending some time with friends and having a few laughs this weekend! Saturday mornings are my time to bake and make a few meals ahead for the week. Today was a big pan of sweet potato and black bean chilli and a lemon and chocolate chip cake. The lovely stained glass in the background was made for me by my friend Sarah who I went to visit in Vancouver and travelled to Portland with last October.

Next up was a breakfast/brunch and leisurely cups of tea at the Thirsty Scholar with the Manchester Vegan Society crew.

The weather turned out nice so at 4pm a few of us ambled across town to Afflecks Palace to the Cocoa Emporium for more tea and their fabulous vegan cupcakes.

Back home it was chilli with all the trimmings for tea - guacamole, salsa and nachos with a cheezy sauce.

I'm planning a cocktail do in a few weeks for friends who have birthdays in April. It's going to be a tropical theme and I've been trying some recipes out. Tonight it was the turn of Mexican Bulldogs which are equal measures of tequila, kahlua and soya cream, stirred with ice, topped with coca cola and garnished with a sprinkle of cocoa powder. I managed to find a willing victim tester! Mmm, these are yummy.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

What Kind of Cook Are You?

Are you an adventurous cook who can happily experiment in the kitchen without the aid of cookery books? Or are you like me, someone who likes the security of a recipe, knowing that if you follow it there's very little chance of things not turning out right? I've always been a firm follower of recipes but I've surprised myself since starting my blog in that I've become a bit braver and have come up with some original recipes. Mind you I like to make variations on tried and trusted basic recipes particularly when baking so I know the science of it won't fail!

My preference for following recipes did once actually get me a job! I went for an interview for a position many years ago at The Christie which is the big hospital in Manchester that treats people with cancer. I didn't get the job but during the course of the interview we'd got onto cooking, I must have listed it as a hobby on the application form, and they offered me a different temporary 3 month post. One part of the job role involved making up different chemical compounds for the lab workers to use when conducting tests on tissue samples. It literally involved carefully following recipes and heating up chemicals in a fume cupboard. Cooking with goggles and a white coat on!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Vegan Cake Outreach

Giving people samples of delicious vegan cake has got to be one of the easiest and most successful ways to change people's perceptions of a vegan diet. For the last couple of years I've also used it to entice people to buy raffle tickets for the annual Animal Aid Christmas prize drawer. For every £1 ticket people buy they get a 'free' cake. I usually have the cake there at the same time as the raffle tickets but I wasn't very organised this year and only ended up bringing in the promised cakes, well muffins actually, this Monday.

I invested in one of these Cupcake Couriers a couple of years ago. I've put a link to the cheapest one I can find on line. It's brilliant for using on public transport although bus drivers often seem to think I have a cat in it, lol, and start telling me all about their cats! Mine is affectionately known as the Cupcake Car Park whilst my sister calls hers the Cupcake Hotel. They always cause a stir when we take them into work. In fact I ended up giving spare cake away this week to people from other departments who came over just to see the courier increasing the cake outreach even further!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Tea and Sympatico Is One!

Today my blog is 1 year old! This co-incided with receiving a Stylish Blogger award from Belgian blogger Tofuparty. Thanks Tofuparty! I hope you get to visit Manchester someday, I can recommend it as a fun, friendly city! As part of the award I have to write 7 facts about myself.

1 I've been a vegan for 4 and a half years. I had been drifting towards it for a couple of years then I went to Peru and sat opposite someone in a restaurant eating a Guinea Pig. I looked down at the fish on my plate and decided that was it. I've never looked back and love eating this way.

2 I was born and grew up in Salford in the UK and now live just down the road in Manchester but spent a year at University in upstate New York as part of my degree and also worked for a short time teaching in a school in Chile

3 I started out wanting to be a fashion designer but changed my mind at college. I've had a varied career to date, initially as a Primary School teacher, followed by a stint in the wine industry, time in Visitor Services and Education in an art gallery and I currently work in arts funding.

4 I recently set up a vegan baking group called The Cake Liberation Front. We have bi-monthly social meetups and hope to start doing bake sales to raise money for local animal sancturies. I also have a Folksy shop. More teacosies coming soon, just waiting to be sewn up!

5 I live right next to the famous Curry Mile in Rusholme. The best restaurant for vegans is The Punjab which I was introduced to by a member of The Smiths!

6 I can't drive and have a complete fear of ever having to learn! I'm lucky to live on the busiest bus route in Europe.

7 My favourite animals are monkeys and apes.

And, I would like to pass this award on to the following people -

Sally Kitten, an artist and vegan in Australia who blogs at Of The Kitten Kind

Aoife, a journalist in Ireland at Adventures in Veg doing a great job at getting vegan food in the press

Velovegan also in Ireland who has the most gorgeous rescue greyhoud, Gerry

Glauce, a Brazilian living in Ireland at All About Vegan Food who runs a cupcake business

Julia in Germany at Islaborg, a lovely blog with great photography I discovered through MoFo

Michelle is a friend also from Manchester, also a vegan who blogs about a whole host of intersting things at All Consuming

How Not To Be A Skinny Vegan is an Australian living in Cambridge, UK. Great food reviews

Helen works at the same place as me is a fellow vegan and knits the most amazing things. Check out the monsters she knits based on real people over at Helen Makes

Siobhan in London who bakes for The Gallery Cafe and organises fantastic music and crafting events. See more over at Hello Flower

Ladies, if you wish to continue, these are the rules :)

1. Make a post & link back to the person who awarded you this award.

2. Share seven things about yourself.

3. Award ten recently discovered great bloggers.

4. Contact these bloggers and tell them they’ve won.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Chocolate Fudge Cookies with Balsamic Vinegar!

This week I was looking for links to treats that can be made for Valentines Day to post to the Cake Liberation Front Facebook page when I came across these intriguing biscuits on Fat Free Vegan.

I tried out the first recipe yesterday. Ooh these are very good - just had one with breakfast as I couldn't wait til elevenses! You don't taste the vinegar at all but they are definitely different to a normal chocolate cookie, very rich and fudgy. A good recipe to file away for bake sales or when you want to impress someone!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Eastern Promise Cookies

These are named after the old tv advert for Frys Turkish Delight. Looking at them now the adverts are quite bizarre and nothing to do with Turkey! Turkish Delight is a tricky one for vegans as some kinds can contain gelatine or in the case of the Cadbury's it's covered in milk chocolate. The other hidden thing to look out for in the ingredients list is the colouring E120 also known as carmine, cochineal, natural red or crimson lake which is actually made from crushed insects. It is possible to buy brands without it such as the Koksa brand which often crops up near the tills in my local TK Maxx of all places! The cookies are subtly flavoured and ideal as an afternoon pick me up with coffee, Earl Grey or mint tea.

Eastern Promise Cookies

Makes 20

3/4 cup of sugar

2/3 cup sunflower oil

1/4 cup soy milk

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder

1 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups of plain flour

1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/3 cup of turkish delight chopped into small pieces

1/3 cup chopped unsalted pistacios

Zest of an unwaxed lemon

Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 350f / 180c. Lightly grease your baking sheet.

Mix together the sugar, oil, soy milk, lemon extract and arrowroot for about 2 minutes until it makes a thick caramel.

Mix in the vanilla extract.

Add 1 cup of flour, the bicarbonate of soda and the salt. Mix in then add the rest of the flour and mix to a dough. Fold in the turkish delight and pistacios.

Take a dessert spoonful of the mixture and roll the dough into a ball and flatten to about 2 1/2 inches wide. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Dust with icing sugar (optional).

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Come Dine With Caroline

A few of us at work started a Come Dine With Me Night last year and every couple of months one of us hosts a meal for the group. Richard was first, followed by Paulette and last Wednesday was my turn. After finding a jewelled lantern when I was tidying out a cupboard I was inspired to go for a Morrocan/Turkish theme. First up was Pomegranate Cosmospolitans which got the evening off to a good start. The starter was Muhammara - a Turkish garlic, roasted red pepper and walnut dip flavoured with pomegrante molasses. I served this with carrot sticks and baked, spiced pitta chips.

I forgot to take a photo of the main course which was the Spring Vegetable Tagine from Vegan With A Vengeance served with couscous and wedges of lemon. I made this the night before to give all the flavours chance to blend. In fact I made all the food the night before so on the day I only had to prepare the couscous and make the cocktails.

Dessert was Rose and Pistachio cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, which I made in muffin cases so they were more of a dessert sized portion. This was followed by Turkish coffee or mint tea with mejool dates and Turkish Delight. Richard brought his video camera and filmed people rooting through my drawers like in the programme and giving verdicts between courses. He's bringing the edited version in tomorrow, don't know whether to be scared or not! We finished the evening having a bit of an impromptu disco in my living room, dancing to Blondie accompanied by some bubbles I found in my CD cupboard - top night!