Sunday, 22 January 2012

Flavour Pairings

I got a second hand copy of The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit this weekend. I've always been fascinated by classic and unusual flavour combinations since my days selling wine and this is what the book explores. Food is split into categoires such as floral fruity, woodland, green and grassy, brine and salt etc and then each chapter looks at different pairings. The style of writing isn't at all stuffy and has made me laugh out loud at times.

For example, I decided to make some Coffee and Walnut Muffins and here's what the author had to say about that classic flavour pairing

"I've always thought that walnuts had a slightly nicotine character, which might explain why coffee and walnut is such a natural combination. Barring a ban on eating walnuts in public places - someone with a nut allergy might be nearby, after all - a partial substitute for a cigarette and coffee is a large slice of coffee and walnut cake."

So there you go, anyone trying to give up smoking, give these a whirl!



Coffee and Walnut Muffins

Makes 12

1 ½ cups of plain flour
¾ cup of caster sugar
2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinammon
½ teaspoon of salt
1 cup of soya milk
1 teaspoon of cider vinegar
4 teaspoons of instant coffee (regular or decaf) dissolved in 2 tablespoons of boiling water
½ cup of sunflower oil
1 cup of chopped walnuts


Pre-heat the oven to 375F/ 180C/ Gas 4

Put the soya milk in a small bowl, stir in the cider vinegar and leave to one side. Dissolve the instant coffee in the boiling water in a cup and leave to one side.

In a large bowl sieve the plain flour, caster sugar, baking powder, cinammon and salt and mix well.

In another bowl whisk together the soy milk mixture with the dissolved coffee and the sunflower oil.

Add the liquid mix to the dry ingredients. Stir lightly whilst folding in the chopped walnuts until just mixed.

Distribute the batter to the muffin wrappers and bake for 18-20 mins until a toothpick comes out clean.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Upcoming Events!

Full of a yucky cold this weekend so the plan is to keep warm, watch films, drink hot chocolate and sleep at lot and hope it goes soon as there's nice events coming up I need my energy for! This Wednesday January 18 is the first ever Vegan Drinks Manchester from 6.30pm at Bakerie. Vegan Drinks is a social event that started in the States and has spread to London and now up North!


On January 29 it's the next Cake Liberation Front meet up from 3.30-5.30pm at The Friends Meeting House which is behind Manchester's Central Library. Still wondering what to make for this one. I usually make a few different things including one gluten free thing. If anyone has any tasty GF recipes send them this way!


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Happy Birthday Elvis!

Last weekend was a really busy fun weekend. Tea was straight from work with Dale at Bakerie with a big dish of warming Butternut Stew and chunks of fresh bread washed down with a glass of Cuvee Gabriel Merlot. Next up was the Cornerhouse for The Artist a black and white silent movie for the 21st Century. It was great, go and see it!


Saturday was a trip over to Chorlton for my friend Dave's birthday tea. I asked him what he wanted me to cook and his response was 'hangover food' after one too many the night before! So, he got 2 veggie curries - courgette and tomato + potato and cashew nut. We enjoyed this watching one of Jan's Christmas presents - a DVD of one of The Cramps last live gigs.


Sunday saw a Scavenger Hunt round Manchester in the rain (much, much more fun than that sounds!) with the wonderful psychogeography group, The Loiterers Resistance Movement. Following that was a trip over to Glossop with Morag, Marie and Rachel (aka The Bloody Marys) to our friend Matt's house for Elvis's birthday tea. Matt is an Elvis expert and kept us educated and entertained with Elvis films and classic concert footage and well fed with burgers and chips.


Rachel brought some pink champagne and I made some Blue Hawaiian cocktails. The amazing Elvis cake in the picture was made by Morag. To start with it is shaped like a doughnut, how cool is that! The cake itself was chocolate chip and cherry with chocolate icing and the most amazing and moreish peanut butter and banana filling. Following the success of the evening Rachel has come up with the idea of taking the Come Dine With Me format and holding Come Rock With Me nights. Wonder what will be next!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

This is Not Just Any Bangers and Mash

Peas by Birdseye, sausages by Linda McCartney. I'm not the biggest fan of the normal Linda McCartney sausages. Sorry Linda, I prefer Heather's but wow, these special edition red onion and rosemary sausages are excellent. I hope 'special edition' doesn't mean they are going to disappear from the shelves soon. Ignore the cooking instructions to bake or grill, these are great fried. The gravy has been doctored with fried onion and some left over Christmas Maderia, I could eat vats of it on it own!


And the mashed potato.... well we all have our favourite methods! Mine has been influenced by an old friend who introduced me to the whisk method years ago. You get wonderful light mash and of course you get to lick the beaters. Added to the boiled potato is unsweetened soya milk, vitalite, salt, pepper and that 'cat nip for vegans' - a couple of spoons of nutritional yeast. How do you make yours?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Secret Fudge

One of my favourite things about this Christmas were some gifts from my mum. Social history is fascinating and none more so than when it relates to your own family! My sister and I both got DVDs of all the old Super 8 cine films my dad made when we were growing up with notes to go with them with all with the details of locations, people, dates etc. Alongside this mum had also written down some memories of growing up as a kid in Salford living through WW2. It's hard to truly imagine what it must have been like to live through all of those years of rationing. Sweet and sugar rationing didn't actually end until 1953! Check out this BBC report from the time. The kids in this picture aren't eating lollies, look closely and it's actually a carrot on a stick!


I thought I'd share with you the story of the secret fudge.

"We had a very large bottle of malt at home and were supposed to have one spoonful per day but I sometimes sneaked another one because it was SWEET. Food was rationed and the worst for children was the shortage of sweets and sugar. You could get some sweets but we wanted more. Mother went to work each day and we were all latchkey kids and looked after ourselves. My sister had a recipe for fudge and we would use small amounts of sugar and margarine, too little for mother to notice and we made fudge. I remember it being put to set in the larder which was a small space inset in the kitchen wall above the coal hole. There were no fridges but things kept cool there. We had to remember to remove the fudge when it was set and wash all the tins before mother came home - removing the incriminating evidence!"

Kids eh! Needless to say my sister and I grew up to be good fudge makers too.