Tuesday 30 September 2014

MoFo '14 Day 30 - S'mores Cookies

I got tattooed earlier (check my Instagram for a pic) and I know that what I need during a tattoo appointment is sugar so I made cookies to share! I heard about this recipe for S'mores Cookies on Lindsay's blog Vegan Chai but it originally came from Amanda at Will Draw for Cookies. You should definitely check it out because it's an illustrated recipe and it's super adorable. 

Now when both of these ladies made them they turned out super well, they were all perfect and round, y'know just how you'd expect a cookie to look. Here are mine pre-oven...

...and here they are post oven. 

I think that Freedom Mallows maybe melt less well than Dandies and by that I mean they melt like craaaaazy, everywhere. Either it was the fault of the mallows (which I totally did cut in half to make mini mallows) or I'm a terrible baker...I'm going to keep blaming the mallows. I subbed rich tea biscuits for the Graham crackers because we don't have those here, I was planning to use digestive biscuits but every single kind at the supermarket I went to had milk.

I realised after taking the first two off of the tray that I was going to need to let them cool completely before popping them on the cooling rack, ten minutes wasn't quite enough. Ooops!

A good 75% were attractive enough for sharing which actually worked out wonderfully because it meant that the other half needed eating stat. That was really tough for Nick and I because we totally hate cookies*! *we do not totally hate cookies. Despite not being the most beautiful these were super delicious. I'd definitely make them again.

I'll leave you with two pic's of what these cookies are meant to look like!

Photo Credit Amanda

 Photo credit Lindsay

It's been a super fun VeganMoFo y'all. I can't believe it's over. I'm feeling a little emotional about writing the very last round up on the official VeganMoFo blog later! If you've enjoyed my MoFoing rest assured that I still have plenty of posts in the works for after MoFo and I'll be posting regularly for the rest of the year and beyond!

Monday 29 September 2014

MoFo '14 Day 29 - Cheezish

It's my favourite day of the week, Mac & Cheese Monday! Yay! I wasn't quite sure what to make today and then I remembered Cheezish! If you read my pal Lindsay aka Vegan Chai's blog then you must have heard of Cheezish. It's her favourite! I knew I had to try it and what better day than today. The recipe comes from the Glad Cow cookbook and it's also here on the cookbook author's Facebook page. It was so easy to make, you just whiz the ingredients together in a blender and then stir in some margarine at the end. As well as being ridiculously easy it was also totally delicious. 

This stovetop mac is tangy, creamy and cheesy and the recipe makes a tonne of sauce which is the best. It has both roasted red peppers (pimentos if you can get 'em, I couldn't) and a tonne of nooch which are two of my fave' mac & cheese ingredients. I left out the hot sauce. I wanted to get cavatappi (or spirali as they seem to call it over here) because it's Lindsay's favourite but the supermarket I went to didn't have it so I got Pipe Rigate instead which is still an excellent vessel for cheesy sauce.

I will definitely be making this again soon. Probably tomorrow.

Sunday 28 September 2014

MoFo '14 Day 28 - VegFest London

VegFest London was yesterday and I had a super fun day. I was speaking about vegan travel on behalf of The Vegan Society and I blogged a little about that yesterday so today's all about the food. I've been having some stomach issues recently (to go along with my joint pain issues - don't worry I'm seeing some good doctors!) and yesterday I was having a mega flare up of all of the issues all at once. Ugh. Good timing body! I started the day with a fresh juice because the idea of eating was making me feel icky. These guys were lovely and their juices were great. I think I had carrot and orange but it could have been carrot and apple. Either way it was delish.

I knew I'd be feeling better soon enough so next we swung by the Ms Cupcake stall to pick up one of my favourite treats, the Peanut Butter Snap, because Ms C always sells out early. 

Nick got a Peanut Butter Snap too and an Oreo Brownie which he ate for breakfast because he's a winner. I ate my PB Snap today for breakfast which was a most excellent decision. I also got to watch the lovely Ms C herself win a Veg Fest Award later in the day in the Cakes, Sweets & Desserts category which was well deserved and I'm super happy for her. 

Right opposite Ms Cupcake was Ananda Foods who make the Round Up which is a vegan Wagon Wheel. They're so great! I was always a big Wagon Wheel fan and these fill that spot perfectly. I picked up a couple for later and entered to win this giant wagon wheel! Epic! (I did not win!)

Next we spotted the Wood Green charity who, among other things, rescue animals and find them forever homes. They were great and they had this excellent pop up thing (what are these called? Do they even have a name?) where you could be a dog or a cat. Look how cat-like Sal looks!

I eventually decided that eating something solid was a must and I headed straight for the Vegusto stall. I love their mock meats and cheeses and I wanted to feed my poor sad stomach something familiar and easy.

They were making the hot dogs with both their Farmhouse Sausages and their Frankfurters. I am super in love with Vegusto's Farmhouse Sausages so of course I went with one of them.

It was so good, this is totally my kinda food! I skipped the onions but went to town with the ketchup and mustard.

I wish I could have tried some of the other fun new (to me) options too. I thought Happy Maki's menu sounded great. I would love to try their hoisin duck maki one day.

Rupert's Street had a great looking menu too, I bet the Fresh Corn Tomales would have been amazing.

Everything from Paradise Unbakery looked beautiful especially the Almond & Cranberry Cheese and the Cashew Cheese & Tomato Tarts. Another time fo' sure.

We wandered around the stalls and Sal and Nick took advantage of the Nakd bar samples and deals. 18 for £8 or 2 for £1 are good show deals if you're either super into Nakd bars or want to give a couple of flavours a whirl.

I was excited to see that Moo Free had some new flavours and Christmas products. Fun! Nick was all over it!

Considerit are more my kinda thing when it comes to chocolate though, I like it fancy! They do fancy truffles as well as filled bars and of course I picked up a few treats including a caramel filled bar that I'm excited to try and review soon.

There were a couple of other amazing looking chocolate stalls but I couldn't afford to try it all! Cocoa Feliz's stand looked seriously amazing though. Maybe I'll order some for Christmas!

Goody Good Stuff were next on the agenda, I love this brand especially now that they're entirely vegan. I still see some of the beeswax containing flavours in stores but once they're sold they're sold and they'll be 100% vegan from now on.

They had some fun Christmas products on sale too, these were super tasty and I can see myself munching on this tub on Christmas morning.

My talk was at 4pm and I think I rocked it once I relaxed a little. Public speaking's not something that's ever come easy to me, at school I was that dyslexic kid turning beetroot red and stumbling over the words when we had to read aloud in class but I'm so passionate about vegan travel that I wanted to get over that, step out from behind the computer, and put myself out there. It was great and I'm super glad that I'm doing this now, I can't wait to speak at Vida Vegan Con next year. I love talking about travel and public speaking's really no different than talking with a group of friends...it's just a slightly bigger group than usual!

After the talk my stomach was feeling a little better so after chatting to new and old friends and answering some travel related questions I was ready to get eating! I had a second hot dog from Vegusto - with the Farmhouse Sausage again and it was so great. I also picked up some of their Piquant cheese to take home because it was only £4 a block, bargain!

Sheese was next and I was happy to taste test a few flavours of the hard and spreadable cheeses before deciding which ones to purchase. They were doing a 3 for £6 deal which Nick and I took advantage of. We got the Medium Cheddar and Smoked Cheddar hard cheeses and the Cheddar Cheese Spread. Apparently we like cheddar!

Lastly I remembered that I hadn't really eaten any sweet treats all day, not cool! I spotted this beautiful chocolate ganache covered cake topped with blueberries on the Essential Vegan stall and I knew I had to have it.

It was every bit as delicious as it looked, the cake was so light and it was exactly the right level of sweet for me. I'll definitely be trying to find more of their cakes in the future, apparently they usually sell their wares at Boiler House on Brick Lane or at their pop-up cafe on Portobello Road at weekends.

I'm still feeling shattered after the weekend and I can't believe there are only two more days of MoFo left - I've totally been off of my commenting game but I'll be back on it tomorrow!

Saturday 27 September 2014

MoFo '14 Day 27 - A Vegan Abroad Workshop

Today was London VegFest and in a total break from any theme I'm just going to write about people, lovely vegan people. Today I spoke about vegan travel on behalf of The Vegan Society who are the people who invented the word vegan, cool right? I was pretty nervous and every single person in that audience made my first ever public speaking appearance a pleasure. Looking out and seeing encouraging smiling faces was the best! Seriously I had so much fun and people clapped and came and chatted to me and asked questions at the end and nobody crumpled up their handout and left it on the floor so I'm calling that a win. I'll blog more about the talk, with links to some of the things in the handout, and about Veg Fest (tomorrow!) when I'm less tired but today was a total blast! All of these rad people came to my talk AND they're all taking part in VeganMoFo! How cool! 

From left to right we have Randi from Laughfrodisiac who I hung out with in London the other day. Her MoFo theme Planes, Trains and Veganmobiles is most excellent and I love that she's managing to blog despite moving halfway around the world during MoFo. Then there's me, you know me! Hasta La Vegan's in the middle, they're doing the most ridic MoFo theme EVER and veganising recipes from old and outdated cookbooks. Hilarity ensues every day and I can't believe I was so stunned from public speaking and new people and chatting that I forgot to do any "you're killing it" high fiveing! Caroline from Tea and Sympatico's next to her and it was so good to see her again. I haven't seen her since I was in Manchester almost 18 months ago. Her MoFo has been tea themed and despite not being a tea drinker myself I've spotted plenty of delicious and tempting things on her blog this month including these white chocolate and matcha green tea truffles. One of my BFF's Sal from Alien on Toast is on the right and if you've never checked out her blog you should, for MoFo she's veganising Jamie Oliver recipes, making dirty sandwiches (like this tuna mayo and sweetcorn one with peanut butter!!) and more. Charis from Floral Frosting wasn't around by the time we took this but it was awesome to meet her - one day I need to make her mint choc chip ice cream, it looks Uh-Mazing! I also got to meet The Food Duo who are MoFoing too as well as loads of other great non-mofo peep's!

Right now I'm ready to crash but I'll post about the food tomorrow fo' sure and don't worry cheese and chocolate do feature!

Friday 26 September 2014

MoFo '14 Day 26 - London Calling

Yesterday was so much fun! I met up with my friend (and fellow blogger and MoFoer) Randi who just moved here from Philly and we spent the day eating our way around London. Our first stop was Shoryu Ramen in Soho because I've been missing great ramen since my trip to Japan earlier this year. Shoryu only has one vegan option on the menu because ramen is traditionally made with pork or fish broth but I appreciate the nod towards accommodating veggies especially as it's vegan as it is, no sub's needed. Here's the Natural Ramen.

There was so much deliciousness in this bowl! Tofu! Sweetcorn! Spring onions! Nori! Bamboo! Spinach! Sesame! Kikurage mushrooms! Pickled ginger! All in a wheat noodle filled shiitake and konbu soy broth. If you're gluten free you can replace the wheat noodles with rice noodles. It brought memories of Japan flooding back as soon as I tasted the first spoonful. The ramen at T's Tan Tan in Tokyo was more peppery than this version but I thought both were equally delicious.

Dessert was next on the agenda and we only had to walk around the corner to get to Gelupo Gelato.

I was a little disappointed that Gelupo's coffee sorbetto contained egg but the rest of the sorbetto menu, including the chocolate, was vegan and any disappointment quickly faded away as soon as we tasted it. OMG! It was so rich and creamy and delicious.

The cones contain dairy (or was it egg? I forget!) but I'm remembering now that they also have wafter things that we forgot to ask about but that I've seen on other vegans Instagram pic's so next time I'll be getting a wafer if they're definitely a-ok!

After the eating we did some walking and went to cheek out a couple of galleries. I'd heard about the Miniature Ink exhibit by tattoo magazine Things and Ink at Atomica Gallery on Twitter and I was super excited that it coincided with a day I was already heading up to London.

Over 100 tattoo artists from all over the world contributed small original artworks which were all on sale for £60 to raise money for charity. Unfortunately the charity they chose funds animal testing so I was never going to buy anything but I was of course tempted as there were pieces by Jody Dawber, Tracy D & Shell Valentine among others but hopefully I can get tattooed by these awesome ladies sometime instead! I hope that next time a fundraising exhibit like this happens it's for a charity like Macmillan Cancer Support, I swear I'll buy something! If you want to check this exhibition out it's running until October 15th. Afterwards we headed across to Somerset House for the second tattoo related art exhibition of the day. I feel like I must have been to Somerset House before but it must have been a long time ago because I didn't remember what an awesome looking building it is. The architecture reminded me of Vienna.

The Time Tattoo Art Today exhibit contains original artworks from 70 of the world's most influential tattoo artists.

There were watercolours, oil paintings, sculpture and even a Japanese silk painting. It was cool to see work by the artists that's outside of their usual medium. It's running until the 5th of October so you should check it out if you'll be in London before then.

Mine and Randi's fifth stop of the day was Cookies & Scream one of my fave' bakeries ever and somewhere Randi had never checked out before. She went for a salt caramel milkshake and I got a Chico, their peanut butter choc chip cookie, heated up. I also took a PB & J cookie to go which I gave Nick to take to work today.

This is such a ridiculously good cookie. I actually ate at C&S two or three times before I realised that they're entirely gluten free as well as 100% vegan and it kinda blew my mind a little. Both this place and Back to Eden in Portland make me wanna step up my xgfx baking game.

After our cookies we were craving savoury and I needed something to munch on on the train journey home (it takes over 2 hours rather than the usual 50 minutes to get home from London after 11pm, England is stupid) so we went to Whole Foods and picked up a giant £3 pretzel each which was such a great idea!

After Randi and I parted ways I headed over to Shoreditch to The Old Blue Last to meet Nick and see Masked Intruder, one of my favourite pop punk bands who I'd never gotten to see live before. They were super fun and even the annoying drunken antics of some bellend in braces didn't ruin it for me! They even perform in their masks and I find their whole pretend criminal schtick hilarious.

Halfway through the show the "cop" decided to become a fellow criminal punk and danced his ass off in the audience. So silly! Check out their song 25 to Life on bandcamp if you're at all pop punk inclined or just want an insight into what I did last night.

Yesterday was pretty much the perfect day! Friends, check! Food, check! Tattoo / Art stuff, check! Hanging out with Nick, check! Punk show, check! Most excellent! I'm heading up to London again tomorrow for London Veg Fest where I'll be doing much more hanging out with both Nick and a whole host of my vegan buddies, eating everything in sight and even talking about vegan travel at 4pm in the Workshops room. Come and see me speak if you're into that kinda thing or just pop up and say hi to me if you see me!

Thursday 25 September 2014

MoFo '14 Day 25 - Vegan Parmesan

Yesterday afternoon I was nearing the end of my to-do list when I felt a familiar rumble that signalled dinner time was fast approaching. For the last few nights Nick and I have eaten cereal, microwaved some Amy's mac & cheese and yesterday I even made Nick grab us take out on his way home from work. Whilst these were all fine and filling dinners I felt like I should probably cook something proper today. I was racking my brain for something easy and decided to head over to my cheese board on Pinterest to see if anything simple but theme worthy jumped out at me. Right there at the bottom was this pin5 Quick and Easy Vegan Parmesan Pasta Recipes from Maple Spice, one of my favourite blogs.

Now I was super tempted to go for the really, really easy option of the Buttery Parmesan Pasta but I had a courgette calling my name so I decided to go for the Vegan Lemon Parmesan Spaghetti becuase Debbie suggests mixing in courgette to add some veg, good call Debbie!

The parmesan recipe itself is SO easy to throw together, easier than any other parmesan recipe I've tried and that's saying something. I think it's because it calls for ground almonds which I always have on hand anyway. You don't even need to get the blender out.

I whipped up a quick single serving batch in my pestle and mortar.

As soon as the pasta was ready I mixed in the margarine, parmesan, garlic powder, pepper and a little pasta water and added the courgettes to my portion - no way was Nick going to eat courgettes!

This was such a great easy meal, it literally came together in ten minutes. I'll definitely be trying the other four quick and easy pasta recipes from Debbie's post, the spring vegetable pasta sounds particularly delicious and even Nick will eat asparagus, peas and green beans these days!

Wednesday 24 September 2014

MoFo '14 Day 24 - Endangered Species Chocolate

It's another chocolate day today, yay! I first heard of Endangered Species chocolate on the PPK forums, originally I was drawn in by talk of high quality fun flavoured chocolate but I was even more excited when I heard that they give 10% of their net profits to organisations that support species conservation and habitat prevention. How cool! Each bar also has an adorable picture of an animal on the front and I think they're an entirely vegan company. It took a lot of standing around in the chocolate aisle deliberating before I decided to pick the Raspberry Orange Créme filled bar. The other bars I was considering were Sea Salt & Lime Créme, Almond Butter Créme and Lavender Mint Créme. I think that list should explain how hard the decision was!

Now I don't know about you but when I think of creams and cream filled bars I think of quite a runny fondant but that was not what I found inside.

After a couple of seconds of confusion when I initially snapped the bar I realised that this is a créme not a cream! And what a delicious créme it is, or should I say was. Whilst it totally wasn't what I was expecting the sweet tart fruity orange and raspberry filling compliments the rich 72% dark chocolate perfectly and I intend to eat my way through the rest of the range next time I visit the US.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

MoFo '14 Day 23 - Sweet Like Chocolate

Sunday was mine and Nick's 10 year anniversary and whilst we agreed not to do gifts I knew he was taking us to Terre à Terre for lunch and that he can't resist buying me pretty flowers, something I love but that I just never spend my own money on, so I couldn't help myself. And why when celebrating 10 years would you stick to one gift when you could get 10 gifts?! Nick loves chocolate so I gave him one of his favourite kinds of chocolate every hour for ten hours, well, eleven hours really because on one of the hours he was eating churros with chocolate dipping sauce at Terre à Terre and that seemed like enough excitement for one hour!

Photo Credit for Hotel Chocolat Gianduja Chocolate Bombe Veganoo

In no particular order here's the lowdown on the chocolatey gifts:

1 - Montezuma's - Very Dark Turtles 73%. We both love Montezuma's, one of their flagship stores is about a seven minute walk from our house which means they're one of our go tos when we're buying gifts or picking up treats. I got to eat a few of these yesterday and they are indeed delicious. 

2 - Hotel Chocolat - Gianduja Chocoalte Bombe. Hotel Chocolat are located a couple of doors down from Montezuma's and whilst they don't have as large a selection for vegans they do make these amazing pralines as well as dark chocolates with pistachio and dark chocolate covered marzipan. Their Hazelnut Bûche is also totally ridiculous and a Christmas essential in our house.

3 - Go Max Go - Cleo's Peanut Butter Cups. I'm more of a Justin's PB cup person myself but Nick's on team Cleo. If I'm going Go Max I usually pick up a Twilight!

4 - Vego Bar. I feel like this one doesn't need an introduction but just in case, Vego is a huge vegan milk chocolate bar made with a whole lot of hazelnut paste and stuffed full of whole hazelnuts. It's rocking vegan's worlds right now. Personally I'm kinda over it but Nick's still very much in love.

5 - Humdinger - Dairy Free Buttons. I use these for topping cupcakes, Nick likes them as a quick chocolate pick me up!

6 - Montezumas - Dark 54% Giant Button Bag. These buttons are SO great. Just the right level of sweetness and they're huge!

7 - Co - operative Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Ghanian Dark Chocolate 70%. I blogged about this bar last week, you can pick it up at the supermarket and it's not too expensive. 

8 - Plamil - Organic Orange Chocolate. I don't really understand the appeal of this one but Nick loves it. It's probably the one he buys most often so don't let my opinion put you off trying it!

9 - Seed & Bean - Sicilian Hazelnut. This is probably my favourite out of all of them. I discovered Seed and Bean earlier this year and so far every bar I've tried has been a hit. My favourite is either this one, which is full of Vego-esque hazelnut paste but minus the whole nuts, or the Cornish Sea Salt bar. I might love them both equally but I was certain Nick would enjoy this one more.

10 - Montezuma's - Sunrise Truffles. Super orangey and delicious, I'm hoping Nick might share one of two of these with me!

Monday 22 September 2014

MoFo '14 Day 22 - Mac and Cheesin' in Austin, Tx

Hello and welcome to the penultimate Mac and Cheese Monday of VeganMoFo 2014. To keep the Austin weekend going (Monday still counts as the weekend right?) today we'll be focussing our attention on all of the mac and cheese I ate during my recent trip to Austin. 

BBQ Revolution was high up my list of places to try because I loved Homegrown Smoker in Portland so much and actually up until this trip that was my only experience of BBQ food ever! 

The menu was pretty simple and Nick and I both got the BBQ plate. I was a little disappointed that they were out of soy curls because that's what I'd decided I wanted to order after looking at the menu online but I got the No Bull Brisket instead. 

My plate's the one at the front and as you can see I went with mac and cheese (obviously!) and coleslaw for my sides. Nick went with mac and cheese (obviously!) and potato salad. Both plates came with slices of that cheapo white bread that everyone secretly, or in my case not so secretly, loves.

I'm going to focus on the mac and cheese first because it's mac and cheese Monday and OMG it was delicious. Super creamy and cheesy and perfect, I ate all of mine and stole loads of Nick's whilst he wasn't looking because I'm the worst. I was not a fan of the brisket but anyone with a normal tolerance for heat / pepper would love it. Texturally it was some of the best seitan I've ever eaten and I've eaten a lot of great seitan. The coleslaw was super perfect too and I was very happy with the size of the sides. I will definitely be revisiting BBQ Revolution in May and I have my fingers crossed for soy curls or even the tempeh ribs!

Next up on our mac and cheese tour is Pulse Vegan, somewhere that was recommended to me because of their french dip sandwich but somewhere that I decided was a must visit because they have mac and cheese on the menu.

It's situated in a fun food truck lot which looks like it would have live music in the evenings. Bananarchy are located here too and there was also somewhere to get shaved ice sno cone thingies which are often much needed in Austin. I ordered The Frenchy, the sandwich that was recommend to me, with a side of The Mac.

As you can see The Frenchy comes au jus with gravy for dipping which means that I loved it. Any seitan filled sandwich that you dip in gravy is a win in my book and my only complaint was that the onion on my sandwich was a little thickly sliced making it kinda hard to keep together. The mac was a total win, it wasn't particularly saucy but it was thick and creamy and just a little sweet. I think there may have been some butternut squash in there somewhere. I was also super surprised when I found out the pasta used here is gluten free, it was really good! This was a much more gourmet tasting mac than I was expecting to find at a food truck, it's described on the menu as awesometacular and I would not disagree. I'm also pleased to have found another way to use the word awesome that I had not previously considered!

The third Mac & Cheese option available to you in Austin comes from Wheatsville Co-op home of Red Rabbit doughnuts, huge amounts of vegan meats and cheeses and one of my favourite sandwiches in the world ever the Popcorn Tofu Po'Boy.

I'm pretty sure this mac is, or is at least very close to, the New Farm Mac & Cheese recipe that has been flying around the internet for years. It's one of my favourite ever creamy, saucy, noochy mac and cheeses and I was very into eating this in the car as we were driving!

I loved the nod towards broccoli too...those little flecks of green? Yeah, that's it! If you really want actual broccoli you can add some from the hot bar. I will definitely be eating this one again.

Mac and cheese is not the only deliciously cheesy thing Wheatsville Co-op has up it's sleeve, they also make a vegan blue cheese dip that's great with blue corn chips and popcorn tofu for dipping.

Look at that tofu! It's ridiculous!

The blue cheese dressing is also excellent in the Buffalo Popcorn Hero or Popcorn Tofu Po'Boy sandwiches they make where it sits alongside that amazing looking tofu - I get the Popcorn Tofu Po'Boy which isn't meant to come with the blue cheese but with blue cheese dressing as an add on because I can't handle buffalo tofu at all but I need that dressing! I also get all of the veggies minus the jalapeños. Yum! Nick and I ate this three times during our trip and took one with us for the flight home.

That's all the cheesin' we have for today folks but Mac and Cheese Monday will be back next week! I'm not 100% sure what I'm going to be doing for next week's instalment yet, maybe I'll actually cook some mac and cheese myself from scratch for once because sadly in Brighton there's nowhere to go to get your mac & cheese fix!