Easy Peasy Vegan cheesey scones

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This is a dead easy, quick and delicious recipe and should make 8 scones.

There are just a few minutes work needed, and then 15 minutes cooking time.

Ingredients

  • 225g / 8oz self-raising flour
  • Half teaspoon of salt, I used  pink Himalayan salt
  • Pinch or two of black pepper – although this can be omitted
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper – although this can be omitted
  • 55g / 2oz of vegan margarine – I used Vitaquell Cocovit as it doesn’t contain palm oil
  • 25g /1 oz of grated  Vegan Cheese – I used Vegusto piquant
  • 150 ml or 5fl of plant milk – I used oat milk

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Method

In a bowl, mix together the flour and salt and then add the margarine.

Add the grated cheese and milk and stir until it has formed a dough.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead.

Roll out until about 2cm thick and then cut into rounds using a cutter (I actually used a glass as I didn’t have a pastry cutter to hand )

Place the scones onto a baking tray and brush with plant milk.

Bake for about 15 minutes in an oven heated to 220c or 425f, until the scones are brown, well risen and cooked through

Leave to cool and then munch away.  Best eaten while still warm.

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Pepenero Organic Pizza

I went here after Vegfest on Saturday….lush vegan pizzas.

Flax Sabbath

15 King Street , Bristol , BS1 4EF

Having wanted to try Pepenero’s organic vegan pizza for some years, fate finally brought us there last month.

The independent pizzaria recently moved from Broadmead to their new home in the depths of the Beer Emporium on King Street. It is a move welcomed by those with a taste for good pizza and good beer as the Emporium now proudly delivers both, all within two stonewalled, moodlit underground tunnels.

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Beside cravings for craft beer and a dark yet quirky atmosphere, the deal clincher came in the form of an offer listed on local restaurant pusher Wriggle (https://www.getawriggleon.com/) for a mighty family sized pizza for just £15. Wriggle is a growing online company offering daily discounted vouchers for indie restaurants in Bristol, Brighton and London, and feature a number of vegan friendly joints – a bit like Groupon but without the…

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Roasted Aubergine with Chia and Sesame Seeds

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This is a dead simple and very tasty meal to make but does need a few key ingredients.

Serves 4 people as part of a salad or a side dish, or two people as a main course with brown rice.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium aubergines
  • coconut oil
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 4 tablespoons of mirin (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoon white miso paste
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons of chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds

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Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C
  2. Slice the aubergines in half and score through the middle several times.
  3. Brush with melted coconut oil.
  4. Put onto a baking sheet and cook in centre of oven for about half an hour.
  5. Finely grate the ginger and put into a small saucepan.
  6. Add the miso paste, the sesame oil, the soy sauce and the mirin and heat gently until a sauce forms.
  7. In a small frying pan, dry fry the seeds and toast for a few minutes.
  8. Brush the aubergines with the sauce and sprinkle with the seeds.
  9. Place back in the oven for another 10 minutes until cooked.

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The Aftermath Dislocation Principle…on tour

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Coming soon to a riot torn town near you, a dystopian cityscape at 1:87 scale depicting a future police state…….

I first saw the iconic Aftermath Dislocation Principle project as a static display at Banksy’s Dismaland Bemusement Park in Weston-super-Mare last September; but after a stint in London it has now been cut down and is touring the UK mainland in a 45ft shipping container with 123 peepholes drilled all around it, each of which allow you to see vignettes of the miserable vision of the KLF’s Jimmy Cauty.  From a distance the peepholes look like machine gun bullet holes, and although I don’t know if this is the intention I quite like that idea.

First Stop on the Riot Tour, which will be travelling around the UK and ending up in Bedford at Christmas, is the Bruton Art Factory.  According to the promotional blurb, the criteria to host the installation is that in the last 1000 years there will have been a riot within 20 miles of your town or city; the riot commemorated here is probably just under 20 miles away…the Yeovil Glove Riot of 1831 which apparently kicked off when William Ponsonby, the Whig Reform candidate, was defeated by Lord Ashley in a Dorset parliamentary election in nearby Blandford.

But back to rural Bruton; it’s a sleepy little town; home to about 3000 residents. Nothing much happens here; it is quiet and surrounded by dairy farms.  In fact while we were having lunch at the Green Monkey vegetarian cafe and juice bar (Rupert, please pass the Spirulina and wheatgrass), a tractor drove past.  It is also very middle class, with several independent boarding schools (as well as a state co-ed boarding school, sniggeringly named Sexey’s School…located in…wait for it…Lusty Hill).  The only likely chance of a riot in Bruton is if they run out of Malawi Mzuzu Chikali  beans at the town’s Beanshot Coffee Roastery.

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The town has in recent years become a magnet for the wealthy.  Half of its inhabitants used to live in North London – just an hour and  half away by train from nearby Castle Cary, while Hauser & Wirth Somerset (founded by the super wealthy  Iwan and Manuela Wirth who now live locally) is a pioneering world-class gallery and multi-purpose arts centre (not the manufacturer of assault rifles and machine guns as the name seemed to imply to a pleb like me; perhaps after all it was one of their weapons that machine gunned the ADP container),

Pop into the swanky At The Chapel restaurant and bar (a grade 2 listed former chapel)  just up the road, and you’ll likely find Mariella Frostrup propping up the bar as indeed my wife did.  It is all frightfully civilised, although the town’s two pubs are suitably down at heel; there is also a charity shop as well as a food co-op.

The Bruton Art Factory itself is suitably unimposing, stuck in the corner of a small trading estate; barely noticeable apart from a small sign with the name on.  Ascend a metal external staircase and you are afforded picturesque views of what may be scrap cars, a boat and rubbish and there you are, in a scruffy room with scuffed walls and the dilapidated feel of a squat or a 1980s student union common room.  I was surprised not to see Neil, Mike, Rik and Vivian peeking out somewhere.  It was not quite as highbrow as I expected

The main exhibition room hosts some remarkably naff pieces of art; perhaps I am not pretentious enough, and after all art appreciation is subjective, but in my opinion my cat could probably do better than most of it.   Also within this room are some of Jimmy Caulty’s mini riot in jam jar scenes to accompany the main ADP exhibit.  These are actually pretty good, physically accurate and incredibly detailed pieces, and this ongoing project has been in existence for several years.  Each jar contains a liberal dose of visceral violence and a smidgen of thought provoking gallows humour contained in a little glass capsule…you can buy one if you want…with prices starting at a mere £250….and then throw it at a passing copper on your way home, for a truly revolutionary experience.  There’s also a selection of smiley faced riot shields on offer, for a mere £1400 each, and at that price…no wonder they are smiling!  If you’ve got the money to burn and want to make an exhibition of yourself, you are a little too late, Mr Cauty and his mate Bill Drummond did that on the Isle of Jura 20-odd years ago.

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Out back, down the slope is the ADP container itself.  Jimmy’s vision is not a pleasant one…peer into the container’s nightmare night time scenario and you can witness the scenes of anarchy, chaos and destruction that follow an outbreak of rioting in a fictional town, located somewhere in Bedfordshire.

It was cold and hailing (in April) as we looked in….which helped it feel suitably depressing…a little reminiscent of our tour of Auschwitz A POW Camp in the January snow; one of the 30-odd pupils from the nearby Bruton Primary School fell over while scrabbling for a look for added angst; the rest of the kids thought it was cool, wicked or brilliant – the exhibition that is, not the mishap, though if they love chaotic riots they probably thought that was ace too!

Suffice to say I enjoyed the exhibition….a lot of hard work has gone into the intricate little village; carnage and commotion everywhere: roads are wrecked; cars are crashed and burnt out; fast food joints are torched; the shops are all looted; and the cops have gone crazy.  The illumination on the miserable scenes is provided solely by blue police lights, broken streetlamps and helicopter searchlights.  From within the container can be heard the static and crackle of police radios.  The police really do rule the roost….but in this vision there isn’t much left that’s worth ruling over……….and as DS Andy Cartwright says in Hot Fuzz (filmed just a few miles away in England’s smallest city, Wells)..”You wanna be a big cop on a small town?  Fuck off up the model village”.

Although you are too late to see the ADP container in Bruton, the tour stops at these places.  The scenes in jam jars continue to be displayed in the main gallery until 28th May 2016.

Some photos featured in the article are courtesy of the Noisy Cafe.

If you wish to see more photos by me, please check here.

https://vimeo.com/163838552

 

Vegan Cheese Making Workshop with Mel’s Kindness Kitchen

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Hard Parmesan

Many westerners are hooked on cheese.  Over the years I have heard countless people utter things like “I don’t know how you can be vegan, I couldn’t give up cheese” and unfortunately the shop bought stuff can be a hit and miss affair; some of it is frankly vile, with a plastic and heavily processed taste and texture. Sure, there are some nice ones out there, with Vegusto being my favourite, but they are not for everyone.

I missed cheese too. I tried making my own in my early vegan days, when there were no shop bought options, and even nutritional yeast, which really would have helped wasn’t a thing, so for me it was hard Tomor margarine, soya flour, yeast extract and a few herbs stirred together and heated in a pan, and then left to set in the fridge.  Delicious wasn’t a word many would use to describe it.  I soon gave up.

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Say cheese

More recently I have tried making cheese sauces; there is a great one here which uses potatoes, carrots and cashew nuts,  and much as I doubted it, is seriously awesome as a macaroni cheese; and I have also made a raw cashew nut cheese to eat with raw courgette noodles and a spicy raw tomato and olive sauce, but when I heard of a Cheese making workshop in my home town I thought I’d better go along.

Mel Rogers, for it was she that ran the course, has been running her workshops for a couple of years, first of all in Northampton and now more recently in and around the Bristol area, where she now lives.

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The artisan recipes she showed us were all adapted from The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook by Skye Michael Conroy and proved that making your own vegan cheese doesn’t have to be time-consuming and nor does it require a load of special tools and ingredients.  Basically a saucepan, some measuring spoons, a cheap mixer and some storage containers are the tools, and although a few ingredients are required I found only two (Kappa Carrageenan and liquid smoke) are tricky to find and need to be sourced on the internet.  Most of the rest can be found in reasonable sized supermarkets and wholefood stores.  That isn’t to say that all  vegan cheese is easy, as Mel said there are some quite fiddly and time consuming cheeses in the book.

In the informal and instructional workshop, we learned how to make 4 different cheeses: a hard parmesan; a Cheddar; a creamy Tofu cheese and a Smoked Gouda which in all took less than 90 minutes to prepare and cook, including time for sampling as well as a glass or two of wine.

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The Parmesan was quickest and easiest as it required no cooking; it grates really well and is best served from the freezer.  Many of our group really loved this one, although if I am honest it was my least favourite.  Next up, the Cheddar was really tasty and was quite strong and salty, but I don’t think it would fool a dairy cheese lover as an authentic Cheddar.  The creamy Tofu one was crumbly and moreish, had the least amount of ingredients and went really well with the grapes and crackers.  The final offering was a smoked Gouda which was very aromatic as it cooked, and apparently it melts beautifully and is delicious on pizzas, jacket potatoes or pretty much anything that requires a cheesy bite.

We also sampled some Double Gloucester, which Mel brought in even though it was not one we learned how to make.

You can read more about the workshops, including a list of forthcoming events on Mel’s website here.  She will also be holding workshops at the forthcoming Bristol Vegfest on both Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd May 2016.

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Mel Rogers

 

Raw vegan key lime pie

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I’d never eaten Key Lime Pie before, whether raw or cooked, until I went to the Excalibur cafe in Glastonbury…more about them in another of my blog posts here, and as I enjoyed their raw key lime pie, I decided to make one of my own adapting a recipe from the BBC.

Of course a raw vegan version will be nothing like the original, as there is no meringue topping, and furthermore Key limes are different to the limes we get here in the UK, but the amount of tart lime juice in this creation cuts through nicely and the pie is not overtly sweet.

My recipe is as follows:

For the base 

  • 230g dates with stones removed.  I soaked them for an hour, but not always necessary.
  • 50g walnuts
  • 50g pecan nuts
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 40g raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp salt (Tanya uses Himalayan salt)

For the base

  • 200g cashew nuts, soaked overnight
  • 250ml lime juice (juice of about 8 limes)
  • 1½ ripe avocado
  • ½ large ripe mango
  • 1 283 ml jar of virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 110g agave nectar (I used organic)

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METHOD

  1. I added all the base ingredients to a food processor with an S-blade and on high speed mixed it all together…which took about 5 or 6 minutes as had to stop occasionally to scrape mixture back into bowl.
  2. When fully blended, I tipped the mixture into a 23cm loose-based tart tin. and pushed it firmly all around the bottom until it was covered with a smooth, flat layer of mixture.
  3. For the filling,  I blended all of the filling ingredients in a high-speed blender on the maximum setting, until smooth and creamy.
  4. I then poured the filling onto the crust and shook the tin to make it look even.  It was quite a thick consistency so needed a spatula to get to the last bits of mixture.
  5. I then chilled the pie in the fridge for 4 hrs to set firmly.
  6. Before serving I grated some lime zest onto the top. 

     

    The pie can be frozen and defrosted before use, or will keep in the fridge for about a week.

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Indian Temptations – fantastic Vegetarian/Vegan Indian Restaurant in the centre of Bath

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Dal, rice, korma and more

Dal, rice, korma and more

Yesterday, Laura (my wife) and I were in the City of Bath for a few hours and decided to stop for lunch at the Green Rocket cafe (our go to vegan eatery when in Bath).

Unfortunately, the cafe was fully booked and the waitress suggested we visit Indian Temptation, a vegetarian Indian restaurant just around the corner, right next to, and overlooking the Abbey, that has its own vegan menu.  Until this time I had not heard of the restaurant  (I found out from our waiter later that it has only been open for around 6 months) and I will freely admit I wasn’t 100% convinced I wanted to eat there, because although I used to love Indian food, as I have become older (and wiser?), I have become weary of the overtly oily, overcooked and indistinguishable sauces I find in most British Indian restaurants these days.  I needn’t have worried…..

Kale and onion Bhaji

Kale and onion Bhaji

The restaurant, situated on the first floor, is bright and airy, with high ceilings and is tastefully decorated in cream and green; food wise the menu specialises in South Indian styled dishes, which are well flavoured and subtle.

We settled into our window seats and I asked for a vegan menu (as although the main menu is vegetarian, it is not necessarily easy to identify the vegan options).  As he brought it over, the waiter was also helpful in describing some of the items on the menu that I wasn’t familiar with.

Between the two of us, we ordered Kale and onion Bhaji, and Hot Idli to start, while for mains we chose Vegetable Korma;Baby Spinach with Garlic;  Bombay Aloo and Tadka Dal.  I had ginger rice, while Laura chose lemon rice.

Idli, samba and chutney

Idli, samba and chutney

Often we make the mistake of ordering too much, but here the portion sizes were just right, and the food was freshly cooked, tasted good and was well presented.

Idli was a new dish to me, and these were delicious steamed and crushed rice and lentil patties served with a quite spicy lentil soup (Sambar) and chutney.  They had a delicate taste and the spicy soup really brought out the flavour.

I normally go for a hotter dish than a korma, but this one sounded delicious and indeed it was, with aubergine, butternut squash, snow peas, baby sweetcorn and even asparagus, which is something I have never eaten in a curry before, but the flavours all melded together beautifully.  The spinach and garlic dish was very subtle while the Dal was quite earthy and not as highly salted as some.

Although the restaurant was quiet, the food did take a while to reach us, and I assume that this was due to the fact that it was freshly prepared, so I didn’t mind.

I’d love to go back to sample the Dosas sometime…they looked amazing.

Part of the vegan menu

Part of the vegan menu

In case you want to visit, the address is 9-10 High Street, Bath

Phone: 01225 464631

Website: http://www.indiantemptation.com

 

Excalibur – awesome new cafe for Vegans in Glastonbury

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After months of speculation, a new vegetarian/vegan cafe opened in my home town of Glastonbury (Somerset) today and naturally I popped along to try it out at lunchtime.

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Excalibur is the name (after the legendary sword of King Arthur who, if you believe the myths and legends found his final resting place to be Glastonbury Abbey), and it is an understated fresh looking venue, with a high quality finish (using eco-friendly materials) and a cool, relaxed vibe.  There is a state of the art water filter and a full spectrum EMF filter and harmoniser for those of you who have forgotten your tinfoil hats upon leaving your lead lined cave.

As it is the opening day it is hard to write an honest review, as there were definitely a few teething problems…some of the ingredients ran out; the computers crashed and the staff were finding it hard to cope at times; but those sort of things are only to be expected on an opening day when the locals flock to see the new place in town, but these hiccups didn’t detract from the great food and drink on offer (with mainly ethical and organic ingredients), and the friendly nature of the people working there obviously helped.

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The lunchtime menu had an interesting variety of salads, tapas, burgers, dips and pickles. Most of the food is vegan, and a large proportion is raw; in fact the only non-vegan ingredient I could see was honey.  There are plenty of raw options as well as a range of fermented food and jun (health tonics); and the cafe is also licensed with a good selection of organic vegan wine, beer and cocktails.

I chose a delicious Pendragon burger which is handcrafted using shiitake mushrooms, activated nuts, Turkish pink olives, dulse and sun dried tomatoes, served on a ciabattini bun, with chatney, pickles and fermented kraut alongside mixed potato wedges, and a delicious coconut garlic mayo that was unlike any mayo I have tasted previously being creamy with a dense coconut flavour.  There were plenty of different tastes and textures at play here, but they all complemented each other perfectly.

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My wife (Laura) had some tapas: raw buckwheat crackers, artisanal hummous and sweet potato and garlic dip, which were all very moreish (I know because I sampled them to make sure they were ok), although the hummous was a little bland for my taste…I am usually heavy on garlic in mine.

The drinks were interesting; I had a Bulletproof Coffee, which comprised of organic coffee with cacao butter, coconut oil and coconut sugar and hemp milk, and although it lovely, the hemp milk curdled, which is quite unusual in my experience; meanwhile Laura’s almond milk latte was a little more conventional, although definitely not the norm even in Glastonbury.

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Price wise I think Excalibur is possibly a little on the high side for Glastonbury, which may put off some of our many daytime visitors, as on passing by the Excalibur could be compared to the other (in my opinion inferior) places to eat, while many locals will alas go for a cheaper option, but the quality of the food here means that it should not be missed and I for one can see myself as a regular customer.

Given time to make its mark and prove itself, I expect the Excalibur to be a valuable addition to the Glastonbury high street.  Best of all for me, is that it is open late into the evening several nights a week (up to 1am at weekends), and there will sometimes be evening entertainment which is something that the local vegan community has needed for a long time; a place to hang out, eat delicious food and be entertained in a chilled, relaxed vibe.

Check out the cafe on Facebook or Twitter

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More vegan options available at Morrisons

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morr1If you are a vegan living in the UK, it may interest you to know that Morrisons, the UK’s fourth largest supermarket has been expanding its free from range over the past nine months, and this includes many new vegan products.

In April last year, Morrisons launched the Fry’s meat free range into many of their stores, although alas that hasn’t reached my 3 most local branches, and Almond Dream dairy free ice cream, which has (alas only in the Vanilla variety) was hot on its heels, but within the past 10 days or so quite a few new items have started to appear on the shelves, and the free from aisle has been expanded accordingly.

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My eagle eyes have spotted among others, a bounty of products from the likes of Fabulous Free From Factory, Chippa, Lazy Day Foods, Great Food, Koko, The Coconut Collaborative, Perkier and Violife.

Alas I have always found that the Morrisons range of vegan friendly products has been well behind the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.  I used to mainly use them for the own brand hummous which is my favourite of all the supermarket options, as well as tofu and the occasional box of Linda McCartney sausages. Aside from this, the choices were a little lacklustre and uninspiring, so it is good to see them upping their game.

Price wise they are pretty good too, and I will certainly be supporting them now that I know they have a decent selection of stuff.

I’ll review some of these products shortly….once I have gotten around to trying them.

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Flora Freedom – a new vegan margarine.

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Bandwagon jumper Unilever has just launched a new Flora margarine product to the UK market; a dairy free and vegan spread charmingly called “Flora Freedom.”

This new spread boasts its plant-based ingredients which include sunflower and rapeseed oils, which are rich in Vitamin E, Omega 3 and 6.  And of course there is also palm oil, which is increasingly controversial due to its harvesting which causes deforestation and habitat loss which in particular could lead to the extinction of the orangutan and Sumatran tigers in just a few years.  Unilever is the World’s largest single user of palm oil, which is nothing to be proud of.  Read more here.

The full ingredient list is: 60% vegetable oils (rapeseed, palm), water, salt (0.9%), emulsifiers (mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids, sunflower lecithin), citric acid, natural flavouring, vitamins A and D2, colour (carotenes).

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The Unilver marketing department are quick to point out that “The Flora Freedom dairy-free variant is a delicious tasting spread that ensures that those who have an intolerance or allergy, or simply want to choose Free From products, can enjoy a great tasting spread.”

Hopefully with this great new branded product they can more accurately rename the regular versions of Flora as Flora Dairy Rape, Flora Incarceration, and Flora Animal Torture.

Of course I won’t be buying it.