Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 30 - Fusion Challenge! Black Forest Cinnamon Style Rolls

It's a bit of cheat today as I'm re-blogging something from last year's Mofo but I'm time short and it seemed to fit well with the prompt. Here we have a recipe that's a fusion of baked goods - there's the flavours of the German Black Forest Gateaux teamed with an American style Cinnamon roll (minus the cinnamon). To further add to the fusion I would recommend serving these with a pot of good old British tea rather than coffee!

I based my recipe on this Easy Cinnamon Roll recipe from Minimalist Baker.

1 packet of instant yeast
1 cup of soya milk
1/2 a cup of vegan margarine + 3 tablespoons
1/4 teaspooon of salt
3 cups of plain flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of sugar (I used Coconom coconut sugar)
50g of dark chocolate
50g of dried cherries, chopped in half
Seeds from inside a vanilla pod
Black Forest Chocolate Icing Sugar from Sugar and Crumbs

Heat the milk and half a cup of margarine together until melted. Let it cool until just warm and pour into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle on the yeast and leave for a few minutes. Then add 1 tablespoon of sugar and the salt and stir. Mix in the flour half a cup at a time. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Wash out the bowl, grease it with sunflower oil, put the dough back in and cover with clingfilm.

Leave the dough to rise for an hour, it will double in size. Then roll it out to form a thin rectangle. Melt 3 tablespoons of margarine in a pan and stir in the vanilla seeds.

Brush some of the margarine and vanilla mixture over the surface of the dough and sprinkle with the coconut sugar. Then scatter the chopped chocolate and dried cherries over the surface. Roll the dough up into a long sausage shape and then use a serrated knife to cut it into 10 rolls.

Brush the rolls with the remaining margarine and vanilla mixture. Pop these into a pre-heated oven of 180C/ 350F for 25-30 minutes. Don't worry if there's a bit of space around the rolls are you can see these filled out and filled the whole dish during cooking.

I let them cool then I made a simple icing using the Black Forest Chocolate icing sugar and cold water and then simply drizzled this over the rolls as a glaze.

Enjoy with a pot of tea!
I have loved this year's Mofo. It's definitely been one of my favourites and I'm so glad I decided to join in despite not signing up to the blog roll. I've found some great new to me blogs and had so much inspiration. Thank you to everyone who has read my posts and left comments, it means a lot.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 29 - What would you bring on a vegan road trip?

It's been a while since I did a proper road trip. I used to do lots of Eurolines coach trips to Europe when I was younger staying in Youth Hostels on a very limited budget. I'd book somewhere that included breakfast and eat as much as possible and then the rest of my meals would consist of tomatoes, apples and crusty bread smothered with tubes of  Tartex pate that I'd have brought with me. This would actually be a vegan meal way before I became veggie!

These days we tend to book a cottage somewhere in England and do self catering. We are off to stay in the grounds of Harlech Castle in Wales a few weeks and I can't wait! With this in mind I've focused my post for today on what we'll be taking with us to eat during that week. For me on holiday breakfasts feature heavily and I like to have stuff I wouldn't normally have in the week.

I'll be making a batch of favourite granola recipe - the chocolate, coconut granola from the Vintage Tea Party book. It's vegan bar the honey which I'll sub for Sweet Freedom or Agave. I'm also thinking of making up a mix of the Chocolate Chip Pancakes from Vegan Food Gifts. it's a dry mix that you just add some oil and milk to.

Hopefully we'll find a great local bakery with tasty home made bread. I've been saving these mini marmalades and almond butter sachets for the holiday. I got sent the Pip and Nut along with some others in their range for a Can I Eat It review - seriously, best nut butter ever and palm oil free! The little jar on the left is chocolate sesame spread by Savvy Spreads which is amazing stuff too.

I always make up the tofu scramble herb and spice mix from Vegan With A Venegeance and take that away with us so that we have have scramble with a full English. We're hoping to have lots of days out if the weather allows and lunches will likely be sandwiches and bagels. I'll be making a trip to V Revolution before we go to stock up on cheeses and sandwich meats. Maybe I'll even get a tube of Tartex for old times sake. A packed lunch isn't complete without a few biccies and crisps though is it? We got mistaken for students last week in Manchester during Fresher's week and got given these free samples of Pringles which have gone in the holiday bag. I love that the Texas BBQ flavour are vegan friendly.

We're going to Wales, it'll be October, there's likely to be rain. For those times where we end up holed up in the apartment with books and dvds there's hot chocolate and marshmallows. Not just any hot chocolate and marshmallows either! These are extra special treat ones. There's salted caramel handmade marshmallows from Marshmallow Deli and my favourite ever hot chocolate from London company Jaz and Jules. It's called Caralimelicious which is caramel hot chocolate with a lime twist. The flavour reminds me of bonfire toffee, it is sooooo good.

A night in with a good film needs a wee dram to accompany it so we usually bring the hip flask filed with something from our bar. The white ceramic pineapple was actually a purchase on last year's holiday bought because it matched white ceramic Elvis.

We will be eating some vegetables too, honest! My skin has gone a bit crazy in the last few weeks and after not having any spots for the last few years it's breakout city. Matt is even calling me Rudolph after the big red spot I currently have on my nose. The holiday is a time to slow down and get back on top of my skin care regime as I've been terrible recently and just been using those alcohol infused make ups wipes which I don't think are good to use all the time, for me anyway. So I'll be taking some nice products for my skin and I've got enough black pots to return to Lush to get one of their fresh facemasks too.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 28 Tacos VS Burritos. Where do you stand on this important issue?

Firstly I have to admit that I do not have much familiarity with Mexican food or at least Mexican vegan food. I did travel a bit in Mexico 12 years ago but I wasn't veggie then. Also, in the meantime I have developed a condition called Hyper Sensitive Cough Reflex Syndrome and chillis amongst many other things can be one of my triggers. Incidentally it seems like the condition likely stems from a horrendous virus that I caught during that trip that caused neurological damage and this condition! When I have a coughing attack it can be quite scary and I can be sick and nearly pass out. People with this condition have even been known to break ribs from a coughing attack! I've developed quite a bit of anxiety around food that can trigger attacks but I'm ok with mild chilli powder and things like chipotle though so all is not lost!

Also, where I live in England Mexican food is not really a thing. Just recently though this has started to change and there's a couple of burrito chains and some food stalls in Manchester and these seem to be doing well so hopefully Mexican cuisine will start to get more established as I remember loving the flavours of the food that I ate on that trip to Mexico. So up until now my vegan Mexican experiences have been limited to burritos from the aforementioned fast food places made with the mildest salsas and sauces. So, in the spirit of Mofo I challenged myself to make tacos yesterday in order to give today's question a fair weighting.

 I picked the black bean and kalamata olive tacos from Appetite for Reduction. I skipped the jalapeno as the ones I'd bought in a jar were ridiculosly hot, I used a bit of chipotle tabasco instead which is lovely and which doesn't trigger my cough at all. Instead of the jar of green salsa I used a mild red one as I've never actually seen green salsa for sale anywhere. The white sauce on top is a lemon, garlic, yoghurt dressing. Oh wow, these were delicious! I did actually manage to get proper corn tortillas which I bought from Panchos Burrito's which is a lunch stall in the Arndale market. Matt and I wolfed these down in no time and decided we need to hunt down more taco recipes to try so please leave suggestions in the comments. So actually at this moment in time I think tacos are winning over burritos. I'm excited about trying more and grateful to Mofo that I've come out of my food comfort zone and tried something that I had a bit of a food fear about because of the chilli issue. Yay for tacos!

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 27: Favourite Herb or Spice

I've picked something that I very rarely use but I love - star anise! I'm not actually sure if it is a herb or a spice. In my internet research I saw it described as both! There were also all sorts of health claims made for it but only if it's the Chinese kind, apparently the Japanese type is poisonous!

My favourite type of cuisine is Chinese and it's a spice that pops up in some Chinese dishes due to it's inclusion in 5 spice powder. Good vegan Chinese food is not always that easy to come by though. Luckily we have the Red Dragon takeaway in Glossop which does a pretty decent selection and includes mock meats and tofu on their menu (it's surprising how many places in England still don't). We also have my favourite restaurant Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen a thirty minute drive away in South Manchester. The food is so good it has even converted Matt to being a fan of Chinese cuisine. Here's a picture of the Stuffed Three Treasures we enjoyed last time we went. Hopefully there's be more Chinese cooking action going on in my kitchen soon. After I saw this post by Dandelion Vegan on favourite cookbook day featuring Authentic Chinese Cuisine by Bryanna Clark Grogan I asked Matt to order it for my birthday in November.

Another favourite recipe of mine that uses it in the form of 5 spice powder isn't Chinese at all but is a breakfast potato hash dish from Vegan With A Vengeance. Isa came up with a genius idea of cooking sweet potatoes with onion, garlic, salt, 5 spice and watercress. It might sound a bit bizarre but trust me it works. The recipe is here online. And finally star anise is not just for cooking. I've used it for Christmas cards before. Glue a single star anise onto a square of gold card or paper (Chinese money paper is good) then glue that onto your card background and hey presto a simple but effective and great smelling hand made card.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Vegan Mofo 2015 Day 26- It’s cold and rainy and there’s a snow drift outside your door! What are you going to make using the ingredients that you have?

Back to my original theme today which was Carol Vorderman -  Accidental Vegan Hero, blogging about recipes from a series of Detox Recipe books that the television presenter and maths whizz put out with nutritionist Anita Bean in the noughties. The answer to the blog title question - Dahl with Sweet potatoes and Coconut from Carol Vorderman's Eat To Be Cellulite Recipes.

This was the first recipe I made from Carol and Anita's book - Eat To Beat Cellulite Recipes. I remember the first time I ate dahl was back in the mid nineties. My friend Tracey came over from Wales to visit me in Manchester and she cooked some dahl for us.  I remember it being a taste sensation! I love sweet potatoes and I love dahl so I was immediately drawn to this recipe.

I've had cooked lentils in coconut milk before - there's a nice coconut dahl recipe in the Tibits cookbook. Where this recipe differs from other recipes is that there is no oil at all. You cook the lentils with chopped onion, garlic and sweet potato in water and coconut milk for twenty minutes and right at the end you stir in the spice blend and some grated fresh ginger and chopped coriander. Easy peasy, nice and quick and yummy comfort food. This makes a nice meal on it's own with some steamed green veg or as an extra accompaniment to a wider meal of curries.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 25- Share Your Favourite Cuisine

Back to my original theme today which was Carol Vorderman -  Accidental Vegan Hero, blogging about recipes from a series of Detox Recipe books that the television presenter and maths whizz put out with nutritionist Anita Bean in the noughties.

Bit of a cheat today as really my favourite cuisine is Chinese but it's not something I really cook at home. What I wanted to focus on is my favourite type of meal to make instead. Risottos and pilafs are one of the things I like best to cook after a long day at work. Bung everything in one pan, add your liquid, stick some music on and then indulge in some meditative stirring for twenty minutes or so. This Pepper and Cashew Pilaf from Detox For Life - The 28 Day Detox Diet and Beyond fits the bill perfectly.

Actually this dish calls for brown rice so you might want to check the cooking time of the rice on the packet as this can vary from 20-40 minutes depending on the brand and you don't want to end up with RSI! This pilaf recipe calls for onion, garlic, stock, celery, red, yellow and green pepper (I can't digest green so I subbed an orange pepper), cashew nuts and lots of fresh parsley to finish. It's yummy, fresh and creamy and tastes fab reheated next day for lunch. We enjoyed this served with a side of roasted broccoli and cauliflower to up the veggie content even further.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 23 - Autumn Equinox Eats - Quinoa Pilaf with Chickpeas and Almonds from Detox for Life - The 28 Day Detox Diet and Beyond

Back to my original theme today which was Carol Vorderman -  Accidental Vegan Hero, blogging about recipes from a series of Detox Recipe books that the television presenter and maths whizz put out with nutritionist Anita Bean in the noughties.

Autumn to me always feel like a time of big changes when it's important to look after energy levels and not burn out in the run up to Christmas. This pilaf is from the Detox for Life - The 28 Day Detox Diet and Beyond book and is a staple in our house. It comes together quickly and easily and is nice and filling with lots of protein from the inclusion of chickpeas, quinoa, flaked almonds and pumpkin seeds.

Although the photo looks a bit beige there's plenty of flavour in there. As well as onion and garlic there's red pepper and courgette, a cinnamon stick, cardomon pods, stock and fresh coriander. I love toasted almonds and pumpkin seeds as a topping. They add a lovely crunch and smell fantastic whilst you're dry toasting them in the frying pan. I often use them to top risotto too along with some nooch. This is a great after work dish when you're tired and in need of an energy boost with the bonus of only taking 20 minutes to cook and only needing one pan. This is served in one of my favourite Fiesta bowls. I am jealous of all you Americans and your easy access to Fiesta ware! I love it but it is very rare to see it in England so when I found 3 big pasta bowls in a charity shop for a bargain price I actually screamed out load, grabbed them off the shelf and clutched them to my chest. My friend I was with thought I'd gone nuts!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 22 - Make A Dish Using Seasonal Produce - Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup from Carol Vorderman's Detox For Life

Back to my original theme today which was Carol Vorderman -  Accidental Vegan Hero, blogging about recipes from a series of Detox Recipe books that the television presenter and maths whizz put out with nutritionist Anita Bean in the noughties.

This is one of my favourite soups ever. It feels like Autumn in a bowl although as you can see from the daffodils I took the picture in the Spring! There's quite a bit of chopping involved in the prep but it's so worth it. And in terms of cooking it's an easy 20 minute simmer before a blitz in a blender. I quite often sub butternut squash for pumpkin as it's more widely available in the UK.

The flavours are gorgeous and so comforting. Ingredients consist of onion, garlic, sweet potatoes and pumpkin along with stock. The inclusion of some freshly grated ginger and some ground coriander give it a nice warming kick and made it the perfect soup for when you're feeling a bit under the weather. In fact this would be the perfect soup to take round in a flask for a friend who's poorly!

Monday, 21 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 21 - What three endless food supplies would you take if you were going to be stranded on an island?

Ok, I was glad when I read that our nutritional needs were met and these were extra items. I don't know what I would have chosen otherwise!
First up is what I would think of as my luxury item. It's rare that a day goes past when I don't have a little bit of chocolate. Often a couple of sqaures of a good dark chocolate is enough to take the edge of that craving. There is always chocolate in the door of my fridge, it has it's own special section. If I had to choose a particular type of chocolate for my island I would choose raw chocolate as I'd feel I was getting extra nutrients from it. I've found raw chocolate to vary in style and taste. British wise I'm a big fan of the snappy varieties that Om Bar and Raw Chocolate Company make and also the latter companies chocolate covered raisins, gojis and mulberries. I've also really enjoyed the raw chocolate my Aussie pen pal Sally has sent me which are brands that we can't get here. I discovered Sally's blog Of The Kitten Kind a few Mofos back and we regularly send each other food parcels. My latest parcel had these amazing treats.

Next up would be my necessary item. Where I come from chips (fries) and gravy is practically a regional dish. Indeed gravy goes on sausages, pies and of course a roast dinner. It's a real Northern staple food item. I love gravy. I love gravy a lot. I actually like my food swimming in it. In Britain we tend not to make our own gravy like all the interesting US recipes I see on the internet. We have granules and we just add boiling water. Easy peasy, yum.

My third and final item is what I would think of as my comfort item. Herbal teas. Don't get me wrong I'm definitely not anti-caffeine but I try to limit cups of tea to two a day and coffee to one. I get cold easily and have got rubbish circulation so drinking hot drinks really helps keep me warm. I also find something really comforting about herbal teas. I started drinking peppermint tea when I was a teenager back in the eighties and people used to think it was strange and I'd get the mickey taken out of me but herbal teas are seen as pretty normal these days and it's great to see such good choice out there.

These are just four of my current faves.I like both fruit and herbal teas. From top left going clockwise we have - Chocolate Chai, Rooibos with red fruits, Pukka Nightime blend and Mirabilia Olive Leaf Tea with Pomegranate. I can't wait to read what everyone has picked today!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 20 - Veganise an old family recipe - Cornflake Tart

My initial thoughts for this prompt were some of the meaty dishes I loved that my mum made when I was growing up like steak and kidney pudding and Lancashire Hot Pot but I've still not really dived into the world of seitan making so I decided to opt for something sweet. We used to have a big roast dinner every weekend with the traditional joint of meat and loads of veg and gravy. My mum always gave us a pudding after every meal. In the week it was usually something simple like tinned fruit and evaporated milk (sometimes the two were blended in the liquidiser to make 'fool') or packet mix Angel Delight, just a little something sweet to finish the meal. My mum worked full time but had weekends off so that was the time she used to bake desserts. These would include things like fruit pies and crumbles, Victoria Sponge, Coffee Cake and the one I'm going to feature today Cornflake Tart.

I don't usually eat cornflakes so I didn't realise how difficult it would be to find vegan friendly ones. Most brands in the UK are fortified with vitamins and the Vitamin D they contain is animal derived. Eventually Matt managed to track down these organic Vitamin D free ones in Sainsburys.

Cornflake tart is easy to make, inexpensive and blooming tasty! You blind bake a pastry case, spread jam over the bottom (I used raspberry) add the cornflake and syrup topping and then pop back in the oven for 5 minutes and there you have it! I think I might have to make one for the next Cake Liberation Front meet up.

Cornflake Tart

For the pastry
250 g of plain flour
125g vegan margarine (I used Vitalite)

Raspberry or strawberry jam - enough to cover the base of the pie case
85g cornflakes
115g Golden Syrup
25g soft brown sugar
55g vegan margarine

Pre-heat the oven to 190C/ 375F/Gas 5
Grease a pie tin
Rub the margarine into the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. I cut it with a knife lots of times first as Vitalite is so soft, to get this process going. Once it's at the breadcrumbs stage add enough cold water so that the crumbs mix to a soft dough. There's no need to chill this.
Roll it out to fit the pie dish.
Prick the pastry all over with a fork. Place some foil in the dish and fill with baking beans.
Pop it into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Take the foil and beans out and bake for another 5 minutes if the pastry needs it.
Spread a layer of jam over the bottom of the pastry case.
Next prepare the filling by melting the margarine, sugar and syrup together in a pan. Once melted together stir in the cornflakes.
Pour the cornflake mixture into the pie case and pop back in the oven for 5 minutes.

Serve with plenty of custard!

I might miss a couple of prompts from here on in as things are starting to get busy for me with non Mofo related stuff. I've got some stuff scheduled so I'm not disappearing and I shall still be reading. If you were reading at the start of the month you will know that Matt and I are involved with We Shall Overcome. I'm so glad that I have managed to join in with Mofo this year after all despite not signing up because I initially thought it would be impossible. I've discovered some amazing new (to me) blogs. We Shall Overcome is a series of hundreds of events taking place all over Britain and Ireland with even some solidarity events in the US, Canada and Australia (shout out to Eugene, Edmonton and Melbourne). All events are free but entry is by donations to local foods banks or homeless projects. Please take a minute to check out this little film of some the fantastic posters that people have produced for their events and see if there's one near you and if you can spot the poster for our Glossop event. There's a gig listing here too. It made me tear up watching this to see how this has grown from a conversation between friends the day after the general election to this amazing show of solidarity and community between artists.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 19 - Lunch on the go - Marks and Spencer Salads

I'm interpreting this prompt as lunches I can grab from a well known chain when I don't have time to make my own. It's still pretty difficult to buy a decent sandwich in England from any of the chains and I think your best best at most places is a salad. This is especially true of Marks and Spencer where despite having a massive sandwich range there is none suitable for vegans. However, they do have a great salad range in their 2 for £3 salad pots.

Quite a number of the salad pots are suitable for vegans and even more if you are happy to leave off the dressing (some are vegan but come with dressing pots that contain honey). The selection can vary greatly depending on which branch you go in but the Marks and Spencer Food store at the end of our road carries the full range.

The pots are nice and filling too incorporating ingredients like quinoa, rice, beans and potatoes and I like to put a couple of different ones together. I prefer to make my own packed lunches for work but if I can't for any reason then I'm always happy with these and they are a great option when you're away from home.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 18 - Honor a human or non human animal who inspires your veganism.

For me the internet was a big part of becoming vegan. Around 11 years ago I was having some hormone related problems. I had a surgery that didn't help and my doctors basically told me I'd have to live with the constant bleeding and lower back pain. Great ! I turned to the internet and started to read about how making changes to my diet could help re-balance my hormones and maybe straighten me out. I gradually started to tweak items in my diet such as eating more tofu and beans and less dairy and meat. I've always been really conscious about trying to have a balanced diet so I did loads of reading and enjoyed exploring new foods and finding new recipes. Within a year my problems had disappeared and after an incident on holiday in Peru where I had to sit opposite someone eating a guinea pig something just clicked in my brain. I looked down at my plate of fish and decided that was it, I was going vegan. Nine years later I still feel it was one of the best decisions I've ever made and I want to honour in this post the people who I found in those early days of trawling the internet who inspired me so much. In no particular order they are:

No strangers to anyone Isa Chandra Moskovitz and Terry Hope Romero are now prolific cookery book authors. They've come a long way since those Post Punk Kitchen tv shows. These are the ladies who taught me how to make sushi and cupcakes.

Next up are the Canadians.

Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard showed me that vegans have great style and I loved their accessible cookery books.

Books by fellow Canadian Dreena Burton furthered expanded my cooking and baking repertoire.

The first vegan blog that I really fell in love with was Urban Vegan the blog of Dynise Balcavage. It remained a favourite right up until she stopped blogging last year and was probably the blog that inspired me to start my own.

And representing the Brits is Shazzie the pionering Raw Fooder who's Detox Your World books and food line were my first introduction to the wonderful world of raw.

So, there you are - The Super Seven. Seven fabulous inspiring women, true individuals, who I would like to thank for helping me on my vegan path.