Orange and Geranium Chocolate Tart

This fragrant girly tart couldn’t be much easier to make, if you don’t fancy orange and geranium you could substitute chilli, ginger or coffee or whatever you want. Serve it with some fruit to balance the strong dark chocolate.

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of silken tofu
  • 1 packet Hobnobs
  • 2-3 tsp orange blossom water
  • 2 large dessert spoons vegan margarine
  • 1 bar Montezuma’s Orange and Geranium chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 1 dessert spoon of maple syrup

Blend the biscuits and mix with the melted margarine and orange blossom water. Put the mixture in a greased flan dish and press down evenly. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over some boiling water. Blend the tofu and add the melted chocolate. Blend it all together with the maple syrup. Bake at 180° for 30 minutes then cool. Serve with fresh fruit.

 

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Corn Porn 2

I have a love affair with tomatoes and corn. I remember them from my childhood. I only had them in the summer. They were extraordinary.

Alice Waters

Previously… I wrote about my obsession with fresh sweetcorn in 2011 in Corn Porn. This year I grew James Wong’s Homegrown Revolution Popcorn Fiesta. I put six plants in two grow bags and they shot up over eight foot tall! Most of the plants have made two ears of corn each and I picked three this morning. They are smaller than the corn you get in shops but the colours are mad! I’m cooking them up for friends tonight – hope they taste as good as they look.

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Banoffee Pie

Not for those who like a subtle desert… This sweet gooey pie will make your teeth hurt!

Banoffee pie
Thanks Mary Welsh for the photo!

 

Ingredients

For the base

  • 75g margarine
  • 1 packet of Hobnobs (keep back 1 or 2 biscuits for the breadbin/chef if you like)

For the filling

For the topping

Directions

  • To make the base, melt the margarine in a small pan. Whizz the biscuits in a food processor then add the melted margarine and blend until thoroughly mixed.
  • Transfer the biscuit mix into a lightly greased 9 inch fluted loose-based tart tin and press down firmly and evenly. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • To make the filling, melt the margarine in a medium pan and stir in the sugar. Cook over a low heat as the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly until the margarine and sugar look smooth and no fat floats to the surface. Add the condensed milk and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring until the mixture turns a creamy caramel brown.
  • Pour the toffee gently onto the biscuit base and smooth the surface. Leave to chill for at least 2-3 hours before topping.
  • While the pie is chilling, make your chocolate shards.
  • Just before serving, combine the coconut cream and tofutti in a bowl with half the lemon juice and the icing sugar then whip until light and fluffy, it should stand in soft peaks. Diagonally slice four of the bananas and scatter half them over the toffee. Fold the rest lightly into the cream and spoon gently on top.
  • Slice the remaining banana and put in a bowl with the remaining lemon juice and toss around to coat them. Poke the banana slices into the cream and decorate with chocolate shards.

Don’t make your chocolate shards the way Philip Seymour Hoffman does!

Posted in Cakes and tarts | 1 Comment

Milk Mania

Last week a biotech start-up company announced that they will soon be producing animal-free cow’s milk. Bioengineer Ryan Pandya, founder and CEO of Muufri, says that modern dairy farming comes at huge environmental and ethical price and that it is his mission to create authentic animal-free milk. But this is not soya, oat, rice milk or nut milk. Pandya is going to use GM yeast to produce the proteins found in cow’s milk. These will be mixed with water, sugar and oils to make animal-free cow’s milk. They plan to use a non-lactose sugar; around 75 per cent of people in the world are lactose intolerant and can’t digest the lactose sugar in milk. Also, it won’t be contaminated with bacteria so won’t need to be pasteurised.  Sponsored by a venture capital investment company, they are making their product in Ireland and hope to have it on the shelves within the next three years.

Meanwhile, San Francisco-based iGem group, Counter Culture Labs and their sister lab BioCurious who describe themselves as biohackers, have gone a step further and are developing artificial cheese based on human milk proteins. It kind of makes sense as human milk is more suited to our biochemistry. Their project is called “Real Vegan Cheese!” and they hope to produce animal-free cheese that tastes just like regular (dairy) cheese. Using similar techniques, they will be inserting the genes for human milk proteins into yeast cells then letting them do all the work to produce the proteins. Then they will add water, non-lactose sugar and oil and to make milk which can be converted into cheese using the traditional cheese-making methods. The company reached their $15K goal to develop the project in just a week by crowd-funding, but say it may be some time before the finished product hits the shelves. They point out that everyone on their team is a volunteer; their goal is to create vegan cheese, not make money.

The motivation to produce animal-free cheese is admirable.  Modern intensive farming methods inevitably mean using cows as large-scale milk production machines, this results in stress, misery and disease. Also, dairy farming contributes hugely to greenhouse gas emissions However, I do wonder if our attachment to the idea of cow’s (or human) milk as a natural, wholesome food is clouding our judgement. We are the only species on the planet to consume milk beyond weaning. We are also the only ones to drink milk from another species, which is where the Real Vegan Cheese Company come in I guess.  But do we really need the white stuff? Most people, over 75 per cent of the world’s population, get by without it just fine.

I agree some vegan cheeses do leave something to be desired – some brands taste a little like tile grout. However, things are improving fast.  Gourmet restaurateur and vegan food expert Miyoko Schinner spent a year in her kitchen developing non-dairy cheeses using nuts and plant-based milks. Schinner uses similar processes used in traditional cheese-making of culturing and aging the ingredients to produce vegan cheeses with a range of consistencies from soft and creamy to firm. She says her plant-based cheeses have all the complexity and sharpness of their dairy counterparts. It seems that the options for going dairy-free are increasing rapidly. Good news for our health, the environment and of course, the animals.

 

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Vodka Martini and Backgammon

Vodka Martini

In the garden? On a Thursday? Well, why not?!

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Thai Green Tofu Curry

Thai Green CurrySunday night, it was a hot summer evening and I didn’t want a roast dinner. I had tofu, green beans (from the garden), ginger, garlic, chilli and coriander and a can of coconut milk lurking in the back of the cupboard. So, obviously we had a thai green curry based on the recipe here. It never fails – this recipe is pretty fool proof – does that sound like a challenge or a dare? Just try it!

Posted in Meals and light bites | 2 Comments

Hunkimori Summer Solstice 2014

Almond Cheese CrostiniWell, the Hunkimori gang cooked a wonderful meal for us again, this time on the longest day. It was a beautiful sunny evening and the place was full (sold out weeks ago!). We were sat in a sunny corner with lovely fresh flowers on the table.

Elderflower champagne and Almond Cheese Crostini and Dukkah was promptly served. Lovely almondy, cheesey slices of bread topped with dukkah; Egyptian aromatic seed and nut mix favoured by the likes of Ottolenghi – very tasty. They went really well with the aromatic, chilled Elderflower champagne – just lovely!

Veg Balls

 

Next we were served Vegetable Balls and Smoky Tomato Sauce with a Fennel, Orange and Watercress Salad. The Vegetable Balls were very rich and balanced perfectly with the smoky tomato sauce and the summery light salad. The fennel and orange went very well together.

Hunkimori pop-up nights are BYO, so I tucked into a chilled bottle of Mauricio Lorca Angel’s Reserve Torrontes that I had bought from Naked Wines. It went really well with this delicious starter.

Hunkimori main event

Then came the main event! Broad Bean, Asparagus and Pea Strudel, Sautéed New Pots with Lovage Cream, Griddled Red Gem Lettuce and Cucumber with a Minted Pea Velouté. Broad beans, asparagus and peas – what’s not to like?! Well thought out – all the flavours combined beautifully. This was a real gem of a meal for a sunny summer solstice supper! The lovage cream was just lovely with the sautéed new potatoes. A clever idea to griddle lettuce and cucumber, I will try that! The pea velouté was perfect with the strudel adding a real pea and mint kick!

Strawbs Hunkimori style

 

We were so sorry that Hunkimori devotee Stuart could not make the meal but we took lots of pictures to show him what he missed out on…

The dessert was next… Strawberries, Pink Peppercorn and White Chocolate Shortcake Stack (they were love hearts!) Strawberry Sorbet and Hazelnut and Chocolate Shard – Phwwwooooooaaar! I loved the pink peppercorn hit in the shortbread. This dessert was scandalous!

A really lovely meal again from the wonderful Hunkimori – thanks very much and see you next time x

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