Sunday, 31 August 2014

Vegan Mofo 2014

September is the Vegan Month of Food or Vegan Mofo for short. This huge worldwide blogging event has been going for 8 years and this is my 5th year of taking part. It's an amazing event and the sheer creativity of bloggers taking part is astounding. It's a fantastic way to discover new blogs, get new recipe ideas and even make new friends - yes I have gone in to meet in real life people who's blogs I've discovered through MOFO. I also have an awesome Australian food swapping pen pal I met through Mofo! I did my theme last year on vegan eats in the area where I work which is Manchester's Northern Quarter and I did consider writing this year on vegan eats in Glossop where I now live and the surrounding Peak District but as I've only been here for a few months though and am still discovering places this can wait til next year.

So, instead I've taken my theme from my blog title and will be writing all month about tea! I'm committing to 20 week day posts so expect to see a mixture of tea themed smoothies, cocktails, sweet and savoury recipes and reviews. We're talking Earl Grey Martinis, Matcha Truffles, Bubble teas bars and the like. Expect to see some of our vintage crockery collection cropping up in the background. I love this beautiful teapot designed by illustrator Alan Aldridge that Matt's sister Alison found for us in a charity shop!

I'm also excited to see fellow North West of England vegans taking part so check out the following blogs Hasta La Vegan, Boltonian Vegan and Spice Box of Earth. There may be more, I hope so, but at the time of writing the list of who's taking part hasn't been announced.

Happy reading everyone and remember as Mofo HQ says #we are everywhere!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Bakeoff, Beer and Beet Burgers

I go to see my mum on a Wednesday after work and Great British Bake Off is always on whilst I'm travelling home. So instead we catch up on iPlayer, usually on Thursday or Friday. We've been having homemade burgers to accompany the show and have been working our way through the burger recipes in Isa Does It. Last night was the turn of the Bistro Beet Burgers.

These looked strangely like meat based burgers but were an excellent vegetable based burger crisping nicely on the outside and not succumbing to the mushy burger syndrome like home made veggie burgers often do. These contain rice and like our other recent favourites the Olive, Lentil and Mushroom burgers, they also contain puy lentils. We topped them with an epic horseradish mayo which we made with Plamil original mayo and some English Provender Horseradish that we found in B and M Bargains for 50p a jar. This was a very exciting find as jarred horseradish usually contains cream. 

As recommended by Isa we had them alongside the Garlic, Curry Fries also from the book. To save time we used ready cooked brown basmati rice and ready cooked lentils but they were in no way fast food. It took Matt 2 hours from start to finish to make despite the shortcuts. It was a delicious meal though and we would definitely make the burgers again. The fries I'm not so sure. There were lots of steps, par boiling, plunging into ice water and hand rubbing each frie. To be honest the garlic, curry powder combo didn't really hit my taste buds in the way I thought it would so I think I'll probably stick to my usual smoked paprika fries. 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Best Pizza To Date!

I'm still on a mission to create the perfect homemade pizza and I think I'm there with the base and almost there with the sauce. We're still experimenting with various vegan shop bought and home made cheeses.

I've been using my pizza stone and heating it for 10 minutes before I put the pizza on it. This weekend I made pizza twice and got the thinnest, crispiest base ever. The dough recipe was the Easy Peasy dough recipe from Julie Hasson's Vegan Pizza book. I used 00 flour and Sweet Freedom for the sweetener. This dough could not be easier. You just mix the ingredients, cover with cling film and leave it for a few hours. There is no kneading involved! You can even throw it together in the morning and leave it in the fridge all day to roll out when you get home from work. That's my kind of fast food and this works out way cheaper (and tastier) than a homemade pizza.

I also made a batch of coconut bacon from the recipe on the Fettle vegan blog. I made half the recipe and it still made a jar full. We enjoyed it over gnocchi with a roast veg and pesto, tomato based sauce and I pressed some into the Vegusto No Moo Melty when the pizza came out of the oven. Perfect Bank Holiday comfort food.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Wedding in Reading

We've just returned from a really beautiful wedding near Reading. The happy couple are our friends Greg and Anne who live in Brixton.

The wedding was in Anne's home town and the reception was held in the church hall. It was such a lovely day with lots of fab DIY elements. The hall was filled with hand crafted decorations, stunning wild flower arrangements and friends and family baked a cake buffet! The bride and groom are both musicians so as you would expect they had created a fab playlist too. Matt even got to do a reading in the church service which was the lyrics of a Townes Van Zandt song.

We loved our vegan friendly favours.

The main course was a BBQ. We tucked into veg and tofu kebabs, amazing home made veggie burgers and a stunning array of salads and chutneys all washed down with an endless supply of fine wine and ale.

Greg and Anne work for Abel and Cole where they have a subsidised works canteen. The chefs from there did the catering so as you can imagine this was fresh, tasty food at it's best. The veggie burgers were jerk flavoured as a nod to them being Brixton residents. These were so good, I would love to get hold of the recipe as part of my current burger obsession. This was such a great day with lots of personal details and we had a  lovely time chatting, laughing and dance til the small hours.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Burger Off

Once a week we've been having burgers whilst watching Bake Off. We usually end up watching it on catch up on the iPlayer rather than live which we'll be doing tonight when we're breaking with tradition and having home made pizza instead (smoked tofu and mushroom with Vegusto No Moo melty if you're wondering). If you're not from the UK and are wondering what Bake Off is, it's the hugely popular tv show The Great British Bake Off in which 12 contestants compete in weekly shows with a variety of baking challenges to win the title of Britains Best amateur baker (and a book deal).

Anyhow, the first two weeks were beer, burgers and Bake Off nights with burger recipes from Isa Does It accompanied by potato and sweet potato oven baked fries. Both of these recipes were new to me and both came together quickly in a blender before being baked in the oven. The top picture is of black bean burgers. These were supposed to have Carribean curry spice in them but I subbed that for my usual chilli blend and we stayed with the chilli theme topping them with guacamole and crushed nachos.

This second burger was my favourite of the two. It's made with kalamata olives, puy lentils and chestnut mushrooms and believe me it was way more than the sum of it's parts. It really was the nicest veggie burger I've made and I'll definitely be making it again and again. Do you have a favourite burger recipe? I'm keen to try more.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Mock Duck Fresh Spring Rolls

This was a Sunday night tea I whipped up recently with stuff we had in. The quinoa and roasted butternut squash salad was leftovers from the day before. I bought tons of sushi rice when it was 49p a bag in Quality Save recently and we usually have a few tins of mock duck from the Chinese Supermarket knocking about in the pantry. So on the menu was avocado nori rolls and mock duck fresh salad spring rolls.

I heated a couple of spoonfuls of olive oil in a roasting tin, then added the mock duck and drizzled it with three tablespoons of sauce. I used vegetarian oyster sauce and have also had good results with sweet chilli sauce previously. After roasting for around 15 minutes until the pieces crisped up I took them out of the oven and put to one side to cool.
In the meantime I julienned some spring onions, red pepper and carrots. Then I wrapped the mock duck, veg and some mixed salad leaves in spring roll wrappers. These are the type of spring rolls wrappers that look like hard plastic discs but after soaking in warm water for a few seconds totally transform. These are really fun to make and there's always enough leftovers for an impressive packed lunch to show off at work the next day!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Trying out new recipes

Here's a couple of bloggers that are new to me, although I know they've been around for a while. I think I came across them by following links from other bloggers posts but I can't remember where now! The Happy Herbivore has several cookery books to her name and I decided to treat myself to a copy of Happy Herbivore - Light and Lean. I've liked everything I've made so far. The recipes are clear and simple and come together fast. Everything is calorie counted and the emphasis is on fresh, low fat, low sugar food made with mainly wholefood ingredients.

Alongside the steamed asparagus and broccoli on this plate there are burgers and a sweet potato salad from the book. I also made the granola from the book which contains peanut butter and apple sauce. It was softer in texture than other granola I've made but really nice.

Another recent 'new to me blogger' is Vegan Richa. This was my version of her Quinoa, Cauliflower, Collard Bowl with Almond, Siracha Sauce. My version where I subbed the siracha for a mild sweet chilli sauce and the collards for broccoli and asparagus may not be a photogenic as Richa's but it tasted amazing and was the perfect quick, yet indulgent Friday night after work tea with a nice big glass of chilled white wine.

I've no photographs but I've also made Vegan Richa's Spiced Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce twice now and it is divine. Check out the recipe here.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Big News

If you're a regular reader of the blog you'll have heard me talk about Cake Liberation Front. The CLF was set up in Manchester in 2010 and since then cells and events have sprung up worldwide spreading as far as Adelaide in Australia! The CLF exists to get people interested in vegan cooking. You don't have to be vegan to come to meet ups, indeed lots of people aren't, but you do need to bring vegan food, sweet or savoury to share. We've never gone down the route of merchandise as CLF is not a business. There have been small amounts of badges and aprons sold each year but these have been merely to go towards the cost of the website.

However, a few weeks ago I was contacted by a company called Philosophy Football to see if CLF would be interested in doing a t shirt partnership. After having a look at the sort of things they've done before including t shirts and events for campaigns like Hope Not Hate and The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign we decided to go ahead. The last 2 weeks have been a whirlwind of activity with emails and designs flying back and forth until the t shirts were launched yesterday just in time for the start of Great British Bake Off! You can find them on the Philosophy Football website in both the 'new' and 'dissenters' sections. The CLF share of the profit will go to the charity Dr Hadwen Trust. Sales for the first day have been good and we're hoping for lots more over the weekend as the t shirts will have a full page feature in the Guardian Cook magazine supplement on Saturday. Fingers crossed eh!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Vegan Life Magazine

I stopped buying magazines regularly quite a few years ago. Sometimes when I'm waiting for a train I go into WH Smiths to see if they've got the Fortean Times for Matt and I might pick up a vegetarian cooking magazine. There's usually too much cheese and eggs though and it goes back on the shelf. I am a member of a couple of vegan related organisations which send out little magazines for subscribers but these tend to lack the vegan lifestyle articles that I'd like to read about. I really miss the now defunct US based Herbivore Magazine which I used to buy and love 8 years ago when I first went vegan. All that is set to change though with the launch of Vegan Life Magazine!

The first issue will be available on the app on 15 August, and in stores on 21 August. 
The magazine will be available to buy from Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda, WHSmiths and Martin McColl as well as independent stores. I was really chuffed to be asked to join their blogger community especially when I saw who the other bloggers were - some old favourites and some amazing new to me vegan bloggers amongst them.

Check out the website for a sneak preview of the magazine and also the various subscription deals. There's even a great free gift should you decide to take one out.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Bierkeller Cocktail Menu Launch

Cocktails are a pretty safe bet for vegans as baring those made with cream, creamy liqueurs or containing honey, as most spirits and mixers don't contain any animal products in the ingredients or process they are likely to be vegan. I've been a fan of cocktails for much, much longer than the eight years I've been vegan and I love making them at home. The other week we got invited to the Bierkeller for the launch of their new cocktail menu. It had a good range of standard classics and a few more novelty ones. What immediately caught my eye on the menu was something I would not make at home - a smoked Old Fashioned. To start with you choose your spirit from whisky, rum or brandy. Then you choose the brand of spirit. I fancied a rum one and went for Appleton Estate 8 Year old as the base spirit.

The glass was prepared by the barman placing cinammon sticks and star anise on a slate, setting fire to them then upturning the glass onto it. It smelt amazing!

Next up you choose your woodchips from a wide selection. Then comes the fun, chemistry style bit. The wood chips are placed into a contraption and set on fire. The smoke from them travels down a tube and into a flask.

This is then poured onto the spirit, stirred with ice, angostura bitters, orange peel and a cherry is added for garnish.

It was very good and definitely a bit of theatre to watch!