Tuesday 17 April 2012

Come Dine With Me.

This Saturday two of my bff's Sal & Kip came over for my turn at our Come Dine With Me challenge. If you haven't heard of Come Dine With Me it's a UK television show where 4 people each take turns at cooking the others a three course meal. Everyone gives the chef a score out of 10 and at the end of the four dinners the winner wins £1000...now there's no £1000 up for grabs here and we've been slacking off at the scoring each other part too but it's a great excuse to get together for a fancier-than-usual dinner!

To start I whipped up the Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes from Vegan Brunch.

I love these, the crispy panko, steamed tempeh and nori make a perfect sea cake and I'm officially in love with the caper filled remoulade; I did quarter the amount of hot sauce though! If you don't have Vegan Brunch yet you should really get a copy but in the meantime the lovely Isa has put the recipe for these tempeh cakes up here.

For the main course I pulled out my copy of Vegan Diner and decided to make both the Barbecued Seitan Ribz and the Cheesy Mac.

The recipe for the Barbecued Seitan Ribz originally comes from the blog Fat Free Vegan Kitchen & I've made them once before, during Vegan MoFo on Football Food Sunday. They were so good then that I made them again but this time with more barbecue sauce and a different Mac & Cheese. The Cheezy Mac from Vegan Diner has become my very favourite Mac & Cheese recipe. It's so easy to make because you pretty much just need to mix everything together in your blender before heating it through in a pan to thicken it. It's also insanely delicious thanks to the smoked paprika and I think the consistency is spot on.

I was a little unsure what veg to serve with a meal like this but Coleslaw seemed to fit. I'd actually never eaten a coleslaw that I liked before Saturday so I'm pretty happy with my made-up-on-the-spot 'recipe'.

To make the coleslaw I just grated 1/3 of a red cabbage, 1/3 of a white cabbage and two medium carrots. I then mixed all of my grated veg together in a bowl with 4 TBS of Plamil Mayonnaise, 1 TBS of Wholegrain Mustard and a little salt & pepper. Easy.

Dessert was the course I was most excited about making and serving to my guests. I made my favourite fancy dessert, the Silken Chocolate Mousse Cake from My Sweet Vegan, and garnished it with a deep fried Oreo cookie!

The Mousse Cake is probably my favourite dessert to make because it's super easy and you don't even need to turn on your oven! It has an almond meal base and the mousse is made with silken tofu, about a tonne of melted chocolate chips and corn syrup to sweeten it. I've never found corn syrup here so I used a mixture of brown rice syrup, agave and golden syrup. I've spotted deep fried Oreo's on non-vegan blogs before & I've been wanting to try them myself for a long time. I decided that this was the perfect opportunity because being left alone with a packet of Oreo's and my deep fryer would probably just end with me feeling really sick!

To make these I mixed up a quick light batter from 1/3 cup soda water, 1/3 cup plain white flour and a pinch of salt & pepper. I then dredged the Oreo cookies in the mixture and popped them into the deep fat fryer until the batter turned golden brown. The trick to stop them sticking to the fryer basket is to put them in sideways not flat and to jiggle them with a spoon a couple of seconds after they hit the oil.

The cookies got all warm and melty in the middle and I really really wished that I had had room for a second one. It was such a fun evening, these ladies (and Nick of course) never fail to make me laugh and if I do say so myself the food was pretty great!

I'm off to Barcelona tomorrow morning to spend a week eating & sightseeing with my awesome lady friends Melanie & Carmen. I'm SO excited! I've just realised that we're staying almost next door to this amazing looking vegan bakery so expect loads of cake pictures soon!

Friday 6 April 2012

Vegan Gelato in Brighton.


I just received a comment from the lovely Ellie that the sorbets at Gelato Gusto probably aren't vegan. They use a base for their sorbets called Pre-Gel which may not be vegan. Ellie spoke to the manager and was told that he's not sure if the sorbets are vegan. I have an e-mail from the manager at Gelato Gusto telling me that the sorbets are vegan and I'll be super disappointed if they lied to me. 

There's a new gelato spot in town! Gelato Gusto opened a couple of weeks ago right on the corner of Gardner Street, at the Bond Street end. Gardner Street is already a vegan mecca with Vegetarian Shoes, the Infinity Foods shop and cafe and I's Pies so this new spot is just making my favourite street even more awesome.

I dropped them an email & was pleased to hear back from the owner who told me that they're planning to have vegan sorbet options every day which will include flavours such as Mango, Lemon, Kibana (Kiwi Banana) and Mojito. They're also planning to make a chocolate gelato and a soy based gelato in the coming weeks. As soon as I heard back from them I went down there to cheek it out, the space is lovely bright & airy and there was a queue out of the door. They had Berry, Kibana & Mango sorbet to chose from & I picked the Mango.

This was a great sorbet, really creamy . I'm really looking forward to trying their chocolate soy gelato & I peek through the window to look for it every time I walk past. There's nowhere in Brighton to get locally made vegan ice cream yet & if it's good I think it'll be super popular...I'll update you guys when it gets here!

Boho Gelato are quickly becoming a Brighton institution and I headed there over the weekend to check out the Food Festival flavours. Each flavour was inspired by and included products from other local companies.

They had six vegan sorbets to choose from... 'Seductress' Martini, Purple Haze, Strawberry, Basil & Black Pepper...

...Myzo (Vanilla Vodka, Lemon, Elderflower & Chilli), Middle Farm Cider and WJ King Blonde Beer & Lime.

After much deliberation I chose the flavour inspired by one of my other favourite Brighton eateries, Pizza Face.

This Strawberry, Basil & Black Pepper sorbet was truly excellent, the basil was perfectly blended into the strawberry sorbet and the black pepper was really subtle & just left a slight tingle at the back of the throat. The other brilliant thing about Boho Gelato, as I've mentioned before, is that they have vegan cones! I love a good cone, they make eating gelato even more fun!

Whilst we're talking about Pizza Face have you tried their Vegan Meathead yet?

It's Nicks favourite! My favourite is the Ham & Pineapple which comes with sour cream, I thought that sounded a little strange at first but it's so damn good. The only problem is that I'm kinda allergic to pineapple (even though I love it) so I usually swap it for mushrooms! We both love that you can order a tub of Boho Gelato sorbet from them with your pizza order.

Last time we ordered pizza we got a tub of the Mint Chocolate sorbet which is delicious, even Nick likes it & he hates mint! When it runs out I'll be replacing it with some Mojito or, if they have it, my very favourite sorbet, Chocolate & Blood Orange.

So, if you're in Brighton this bank holiday weekend I suggest you hunt down some gelato & if you see the new soya chocolate ice cream at Gelato Gusto lemme know!

Tuesday 3 April 2012

How you doin'?!

Looking at my blog recently you'd think that I never spend any time in Brighton! I really do, I promise! Recently I've been getting involved with my local pro-choice group Brighton Pro-Choice, we've been campaigning against Abort 67 who come all the way from their church in Worthing to harass people trying to use the local bpas clinic, real nice guys, keeping it classy. We've done information stalls, handed out leaflets, gathered signatures for our petition and we also held a fundraiser where we made dinner & cupcakes and showed the film Vera Drake.

I also helped out with another local feminist groups campaign, Brighton Feminist Collective arranged a local 40 Days for Treats campaign to counter the anti-choicers 40 Days for Life campaign. Every day people took treats to the clinic and I contributed some Operation Icing cupcakes...

...Vanilla Thumbprint Cookies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur...

...and Isa's amazing Raspberry Truffle Brownies.

If you live in or around Brighton you can get involved in these campaigns too. This Thursday Brighton Feminist Collective are holding a Reclaim The Dance Floor fundraising night at The Blind Tiger with bands, DJ's, and stalls selling zines. Hopefully see you there! On April 15th Brighton Pro-Choice are holding a Carnival For Choice in Worthing, come along and make your pro-choice voice heard, details right here.

Just before I went away Veg Fest came to Brighton. Yay! I spent the first day hanging out with my PPK buddies eating food and then on Sunday I worked for the wonderful Ms Cupcake. Unfortunately all of this hanging out and working made me pretty slack at taking photos but there are a few. Me & Nick got there early on Saturday & my breakfast of choice was this tasty Black Forest cupcake from Sweetcheeks. It was a firm but moist gluten free treat and it actually made a great breakfast as the frosting wasn't too sweet.

After a walk around all of the stalls upstairs we went downstairs to see the lovely ladies from Veg Out. These guys are awesome and they catered our wedding so we always make sure to find them to say hi and to eat their delicious treats. This year they had loads of miniature food so of course we grabbed a plate to share.

We picked (clockwise from the back) the Avocado Lime Pudding, Chocolate Banana and Ginger Ganache, Sweet Potato Globe, Mini quiche, Frangipani Tart & a Mango Chocolate thing that I can't remember the name of. Everything was great but I think my favourites were the Avocado Lime Pudding and the Frangipani Tart. So damn good.

When lunchtime rolled around there wasn't a doubt in my mind about what I'd be eating, the fish & chips were top of my list! I'd never seen these guys at Veg Fest before & I was excited to try something new.

The fish was SO damn good, really, well, fishy! I went back for seconds.

There was plenty of other awesome food at the Fest, Vegusto were there with their plate of cheese samples, Amy's had samples of their soups, chilli, and more importantly, the gluten free Daiya mac & cheese. On Sunday I had a Wheaty kebab and a lot of Ms Cupcake treats, the new Peanut Butter Snap bars are to die for & I have a new favourite cupcake flavour, English Rose.

Monday 2 April 2012

La Palma.

I just got back from spending a week chilling out with Nick on the tiny island of La Palma in the Canary Islands. It was awesome to spend some time hanging out in the sun this early in the year.

We swam in this beautiful rock pool by the ocean...

... and messed around by the pool at the little villa we rented.

We hiked through Los Tilos rainforest to this beautiful lookout point...

...and I read a lot of books (some of which were really fucking good and one of which was so terrible I almost set fire to it!).

I also got really really excited about seeing real life banana plantations!

The first thing we did (after grabbing our luggage & picking up our hire car) was drive to the store to find vegan eats, it was about 8pm on a Friday and most places were closing but we managed to dash into a Spar Supermarket in Santa Cruz to grab some stuff for dinner & breakfast.

We found the same corn based margarine that we loved in Mallorca last summer and we also picked up the usual staples; pasta, herbs, canned tomatoes, rice, olive oil, fruit & veggies.

SPAR also make an own brand version of the ubiquitous Fillipino biscuits, these little chocolate covered O's were my favourite treat when I went on a language exchange program to Spain when I was 15 & I was really excited to discover this vegan version. I may or may not have brought back 9 packets!

As well as having awesome vegan friendly treats in the Supermarkets La Palma also has a lot of small health food stores. The first one we went to was Vida Sana which we found out about on Happy Cow. It's in the tiny village of Tijarafe which was about a 30 minute drive around a mountain on very very scary roads from where we were staying near Todoque.

We picked up a lot of great stuff here including my favourite Nirwana Noir chocolate, Streich spread, pesto, soya b├ęchamel sauce, washing up liquid & peanut corn snacks.

We also grabbed this enormous hunk of seitan, a smaller hunk of seitan and some spelt seitan steaks.

They also had tofu (plain & flavoured) and tofu & mushroom tortellini.

That night I made a pasta dish with the tortellini, some delicious local oyster mushrooms, and a sauce made with the soya b├ęchamel & some Vegusto we snuck over in our suitcase.

The next day we went to the nearest town for a look around and to check out a vegetarian restaurant we found listed in the Lonely Planet guide. Unfortunately once we'd grabbed a table at the veggie restaurant, La Vitamina, we realised that they are definitely not a veggie restaurant! They did have an English menu though and we spotted a sentence on the back page saying to ask them for the vegan or gluten free options. We did just that and they made us a big plate of all of their vegan options which we shared...

The plate had a mild veggie curry, roasted brussels sprouts, pan fried potatoes, mushrooms marinated in a sweet sesame sauce, cous cous, roasted chickpeas and sweet fried bananas. The bananas were certainly a random addition to this savoury plate but Nick loves sweet bananas and was happy to eat them! My favourite parts were the mushrooms and chickpeas and we both enjoyed the curry and potatoes.

La Vitamina also have a huge selection of freshly squeezed juices and smoothies, I got a massive glass of freshly squeezed orange juice which was delicious.

Right down the street from La Vitamina, on the corner of Calle Aridanz, is a health food store called Bubango Verde. Like the other health food stores we found on the island it's not totally veggie but they had the Nirwana Noir chocolate, various spreads & a good selection of tofus.

They had some great fresh produce too so I picked up some tomatoes, lettuce and squash. I also got some awesome Hello Kitty pasta!

On the drive back from Los Llanos to our villa we stumbled upon yet another health food store!

Bio Canana, which is located on the LP213 between Los Llanos & Puerto Naos, has a bakery inside which sells delicious fresh baguettes and alongside the usual soya milks and gluten free pastas they had a whole case of seitan, Nirwana Noir chocolate and agar powder which is almost impossible to find in the UK.

Overall La Palma was a great place to catch some early spring sun, it would have been easier to eat out if I spoke better Spanish but I like to cook and the fresh produce and health food stores were great. Oh & not many things are cooler than a black sand beach!