Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Veganuary Eats

As I'm sure you know from previous posts I do like a competition and I entered several Veganuary ones. It was Matt who was the winner this time though. He won these ace cookbooks - Defensive Eating With Morrissey and Comfort Eating With Nick Cave in a twitter punning competition where you had to combine food with lyrics from their songs. I thought my Barbecueim Begins At Home entry was pretty good but he pipped me with Girlfriend in a Korma. They've only just arrived so we haven't made anything form them yet but I shall have to report back.

I've blogged before about Glossop business The Pie Parlour. It goes from strength to strength and Diane who owns and runs it did herself proud with her Veganuary offerings. We managed to sample quite a range this month! As well as being vegan the following were all gluten free too.

First up is a raw cheesecake. This had delightful fresh strawberry flavours and was nice and rich in that way that raw cheesecakes are.

One of my favourite cake flavours is coffee and walnut and this did not disappoint. Sticking with the coffee theme we also sampled this stunning looking tiramisu gateaux.

Diane is a very innovative cook and is constantly trying out new things. I was over the moon to try this month two things I've never had as a vegan. It's over 10 years since I've had lemon meringue pie and these were tarts we were of my favourite things to date from the Pie Parlour.

I was also delighted to have a vanilla slice. When I was a kid and we were allowed to choose a cream cake from the cake shop I always bypassed anything with cream and went for a custard tart or vanilla slice. Thanks to the wonder of the new Jus Roll vegan and gluten free puff pastry Diane was able to make these and they were soooo good.

I was even inspired to do a bit of baking myself. Cheltenham Drippers came up in conversation at work and I had to google them to see what they were made from. 

They are a yeasted bread bun filled with raisins that are also known as Lardy Cakes. I used this recipe and veganised it by using melted coconut oil instead of beef dripping.

There was lots of rolling the dough and folding and brushing oil into the different layers. It was a fun lazy Sunday afternoon project and they were pretty tasty.

We also spent January using up stuff we'd got in for the festive season. We'd managed to visit one of the Sainsbury's back in December that stocked 'Gary' and we'd bought a few different ones to try. I think my favourite has to be the caramelised onion cheddar which melts really well as does the feta which Matt used as a filling in these arancini balls made from leftover risotto.

A big change for me in January has been going back to full time hours. It's just for a few months and it's going ok. I'd be lying if I said it was a breeze as fatigue is an issue with being on morphine but I'm doing all the right kind of self care things and it is definitely helping. That means practicing my cold prevention tips I blogged about here and getting early nights. I'm also trying to do some yoga most days too. An important part of self care is food and in line with that I have declared Fridays, my last working day of the week to be Pieday. This involves Matt who works form home popping down to the Pie Parlour in the day to pick up a couple of pies which we warm up in the oven in the evening whilst he nips round to the chippy for a large bag of chips to share, a pot of mushy peas for him and a large gravy for me.

And finally from pie and chips to super posh food. We had vegan friendly champagne and caviar with Matt's sister and brother in law to celebrate us getting engaged. I'd forgotten I had a jar of caviart lurking in the pantry waiting for an occasion and I'd also forgotten how nice it is. I'm also pleased to see that Holland and Barrett now stock it.

So that's it for January. I'm usually ok with winter but it has felt really cold and wet the last few weeks and I will be glad to see Spring this year. We have some fun things planned for February though and are going to Nottingham this weekend and are planning to visit Sneinton Vegan market so I'll be reporting back!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Vegan Eats at Pizza Express - Glossop

The small town of Glossop where I live is pretty good for vegan eats and drinks. There's some great places for coffee that offer plant milks like Twig and Panaderia. Ayubowan and Pico Lounge have clearly marked vegan items on their menus. The Pie Parlour bakery specialises in vegan and gluten free pies, breads + cakes and of course there is The Globe pub where famously all the food is vegan. Just before Christmas a branch of Pizza Express opened in a converted mill building and their PR people invited Matt and I along to sample some vegan menu items.

We were joined on the night by Jane who writes reviews for the Vegetarian Society and her partner Simon who were sampling vegetarian items on the menu. I'm afraid our food pictures are on the dark side due to the low lighting! Matt and Simon both went for pizzas. Matt opted for the Pianta which is a cheeseless pizza with a spicy tomato sauce, spinach, mushrooms, pine nuts and artichokes. As you can see there was a decent amount of toppings and this went down well! Simon chose a cauliflower cheese pizza which I thought was an amazing idea for a pizza and one that I would love to try to veganise at home!

Jane opted for the risotto which we were originally told could be veganised but after our waiter double checked with the kitchen it turned out it could just be made vegetarian by omitting the salmon. I went for a salad as my main. It was the Leggara Superfood Salad which has black rice, edamame beans, red quinoa, mung beans, chickpeas, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and kale in a  vinaigrette on a bed of seasonal mixed leaves, rocket, cucumber, roasted red & yellow peppers. It also comes with house dressing which I asked them to leave off as it wasn't vegan. I asked for some extra olive oil to drizzle but actually didn't need it. It was a nice mix of colours and textures. There is an option to add extra salmon or chicken to it but not extra veggies. I would have enjoyed something like pumpkin or butternut squash or maybe some smoked tofu as an extra.

The salad was tasty and as with the other Leggara menu items is a lower calorie option. On it's own I don't think it would quite have filled me up enough so I was glad that Matt and I had also got some dough balls to share. The dough balls usually come with garlic butter but you can order them with oil instead and they were great comfort food.

We finished with a scoop of raspberry sorbet which was nice and refreshing. I've never really explored the world of sorbets but I got Marie Laforet's The Best Homemade Vegan Cheese and Ice Cream Recipes for Christmas so I can see some home made ones in the future!

It's fantastic to see more and more places like this adding vegan options to their menus. Much as I love completely vegan restaurants I find places like this so useful when booking meals with family, friends or work colleagues. By offering some decent vegan options even if there's only one vegan in a group it's often what clinches the choice of restaurant.

We were hugely impressed by the design elements of the restaurant which gave a nod to Glossop's mill town past with giant colourful cotton reels, beautiful industrial light fittings and lots of lovely exposed brick work. We enjoyed the evening, the service was very good and I liked the atmosphere. I know we will definitely be back. I hope that Pizza Express continue to add vegan options and it would be great if they could also produce a vegan menu as there was a little confusion over some menu items. It's a small thing but lots of places do this now and it must be so helpful to waiting staff as well as reassuring to vegan diners.

Disclaimer - Matt and I were provided with a free meal by Pizza Express. All views expressed are my own.