Vegan Aubergine Pathia

Pathia is an ancient Parsi curry from Persia, it is hot, sweet and sour. Chillies supply the heat, jaggery adds sweetness and tamarind, the savoury sourness. There are quite a lot of chillis in this recipe but the heat is offset by the tamarind and the sweetness of the sauce. The recipe is adapted from 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi. The directions are quite precise and a bit too fiddly I thought initially but if you go with it and follow it to the letter, it makes a really good, rich and tasty curry!

Serves 4 as a main or 6-8 with side dishes.

Ingredients:

  •  10 baby aubergines (~4-5 inches long)
  • 1½ teaspoons tamarind paste
  • 3-5 green chillies, chopped (depending on how hot you like it!)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ¾ tsp coriander powder
  • ¾ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • ½ tsp fresh turmeric, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon jaggery
  • 10 curry leaves
  • a small handful coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Cut the aubergines in half, sprinkle with salt and set aside in a bowl for 30 mins.
  1. Rinse the salt off the aubergines, pat dry and griddle on a medium heat until soft and slightly charred with a criss-cross pattern, set aside.

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  1. Grind the green chillies, 2 of the garlic cloves and the cumin seeds into a paste (toast the cumin seeds first in a small pan if you want extra flavour). I used a Nutribullet and added a little water.
  1. Heat the oil in a medium-sized pan and fry the onions until they are soft. Add the ground paste and fry for 2 minutes, stirring well.

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  1. Add the cumin, coriander, red chilli, garam masala and turmeric. Stir constantly for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  1. Add the tamarind, the jaggery, curry and coriander leaves and salt. Taste and adjust the sour, sweet, and salt flavours to your liking. Add 200ml of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  1. Lay the aubergines out flat in an oven dish and spoon the sauce over them. Leave some bits peeping out!
  1. Bake in a warm oven (150°C) for an hour until the sauce becomes sticky and starts to burn slightly at the edges.

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  1. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve with naan bread or brown basmati rice.

 

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Vegan Farinata

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Farinata or socca is a sort of thin, unleavened pancake or crêpe of chickpea flour originating from Genoa and later a typical food of Liguria, from Nice to Elba Island. Traditionally it is cooked with fresh rosemary, pepper and sea salt then cut into triangular slices and served warm. I made a thicker version with onion, garlic, asparagus and French beans. It’s pretty cheap to make (especially if you used plain tofu) and it was very tasty! It makes great party food – thin slices served with a cold beer!

For the batter:

  • 200g Taifun Organic Tofu with Basil
  • 1½ cup gram (chickpea) flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp bouillon
  • 1½ cup soya milk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Veggies:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp oregano or thyme
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, discard the end and chop each spear into three pieces
  • 1 handful of French beans, chop into the same length pieces as the asparagus
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halves

Heat the oven at 180°C and put a cast iron pan in to warm. Throw all the batter ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth (it should be a thick batter) then pour into a bowl. Fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil with the celery salt and some oregano or thyme until just beginning to brown. Steam the asparagus and beans until just soft. Thrown the onions, garlic, asparagus and beans into the batter and mix. Pour it into the hot pan and gently push the tomato halves into the batter. Cook for 45 minutes. Serve warm with salad.

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Mushroom and Chestnut Wellington

Mushroom and Chestnut Wellington

I forgot to photograph it hot and covered in gravy – this was the last bit of leftovers!

This mushroom and chestnut wellington is adapted from the excellent people at BOSH! It looks complicated but it isn’t hard at all if you follow the simple instructions. It takes about an hour to put it together, I did it in the morning and left it standing for a couple of hours before cooking. The chestnuts and pecans make it really rich. It makes a great celebration lunch for Easter and no dead babies on the table!

Mushrooms

  • 4 Portobello mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • Splash of olive oil
  • 1 large pinch of salt
  • 1 large pinch of freshly ground pepper

Nut Roast

  • Splash of olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1 large pinch of salt
  • 1 large pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • ½ tbsp muscovado sugar
  • 2 cups of chestnuts
  • 1 cup of pecans
  • 1 cup of cashew nuts
  • 2 slices wholemeal bread
  • ½ cup of vegetable stock (Marigold Bouillon)

Wellington Case

  • 1 large tbsp. cranberry sauce
  • 2 blocks Jus-Roll shortcrust pastry (you will have some left over)
  • ½ a cup of soya milk for brushing and sticking, add ½ tsp turmeric for colour

Method

  1. Put the Portobello mushrooms in a baking tray and sprinkle some olive oil over them.
  2. Sprinkle the herbs, salt, pepper and garlic over the mushrooms.
  3. Bake at 180℃ for 15 minutes then set them aside to cool.
  4. Take the pastry out of the fridge and set aside to warm to room temp.
  5. Put the red onion in a pan with olive oil and fry until it’s starting to brown.
  6. Add the herbs, salt, pepper and cook them together until they start sticking.
  7. Add a cup of red wine and simmer for 5 mins to cook the alcohol off.
  8. Add the sugar and mix until it caramelises, pour the mixture into a bowl.
  9. Put the nuts and bread in a food processor and whiz them up into crumbs.
  10. Add the crumbly mixture into the bowl with the onions pour in the vegetable stock.
  11. Stir the mixture round with a wooden spoon so it clumps up like sosmix.
  12. Lay one layer of pastry out on a lightly greased and floured baking tray.
  13. Divide the nut roast mix into two and layer half of the mixture onto the pastry.
  14. Mould the mixture with your hands into a wide, flat sausage shape, think of a thick flip flop!
  15. Put the cooked Portobello mushrooms on top, you make need to overlap them slightly.
  16. Encase the mushrooms with the rest of the nut roast mix and smooth it over with your hands so it looks like Ayer’s Rock!
  17. Heat the cranberry sauce in a pan and spoon over the nut roast mix and smooth over the whole roast with a spatula (this with help the pastry stick).
  18. Paint some soya milk one inch around the base of the pastry to help the top pastry layer stick.
  19. Carefully lay the second sheet of shortcrust pastry over the top of the nut roast and gently push it down with your fingers to remove any air pockets.
  20. Trim off the edges of the pastry (leaving around an inch all the way round) with a sharp knife (save the trimmed bits for decoration).
  21. Seal the edges with a fork – this makes it look pretty!
  22. Decorate your wellington with shapes cut out of the spare pastry.
  23. Bake at 180℃ for 30-40 minutes (be sure to check after 30 minutes, if it looks ready, take it out of the oven!)
  24. Use a sharp knife to carve the Wellington into slices.

Serve with roast potatoes, roast parsnips, maple syrup and orange glazed carrots, purple sprouting broccoli, cavolo nero and tons of gravy.

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Vegan winter porridge with cinnamon apples and redcurrants

Seeing as it’s still winter, I made porridge…

  • 1/2 cup of jumbo oats
  • 1 cup of soya milk
  • 1 small pinch of salt
  • 1/2 a cooking apple, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 dessert spoon of demerara sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 small handful of redcurrants

Toast the oats in a clean pan until they smell toasty! Let the pan cool a bit then add the soya milk and stir on a low heat. Throw the apple, cinnamon and sugar into another small pan with the water and heat making sure the sugar dissolves. When the apple chunks are soft add the redcurrants and cook for 1 minute just to warm them through. If all the water evaporates add a little more – you want to keep a little bit of syrup in the pan. Add a pinch of salt to the porridge, if you like it that way. Spoon the porridge into a bowl and top with the fruit and syrup. Stick the telly on and get under a blanket!

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Mexican Margarita Vegan Celebration Cake

IMG_1841.jpgI wanted to make a celebration cake for a friend’s leaving party. His partner suggested a cake with tequila in it, so here it is! Based on the Mucho Margarita Cupcakes recipe from Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero’s fabulous book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. It has two tequila and lime-flavoured layers and pink vanilla layer in the middle with pink frosting inside, green frosting outside and Day-of-the-Dead themed decorations. Adiós mi amigo!

I would suggest making the skulls, flower and hearts the day before you bake the cake as they will take a couple of hours at least!

Equipment: 9” springform cake tin(s), skull-shaped cookie cutter, syringe with wide nozzle or very small nozzle and piping bag, flower and heart-shaped icing cutters.

Ingredients for each of the two tequila cake layers (ie you need 2x this amount):

  • ¼ cup lime juice, freshly squeezedslice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lime zest, freshly grated
  • 1 cup soya milk
  • ¼ cup rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ⅓ cups plain flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the vanilla cake layer:

  • 1 cup soya milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegarIMG_1845
  • ⅓ cup of rapeseed oil
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pink food colouring

Pink frosting:

  • 3 tbsp of vegan margarine
  • 2 cups of icing (powdered) sugar (you may need a bit more if it’s too sloppy!
  • 2 tsp tequila
  • ¼ tsp pink food colouring
  • Pinch of salt

Green frosting:

  • 4 tbsp of vegan margarine
  • 3 tsp tequila
  • 2-3 cups of icing (powdered) sugar (you may need a bit more if it’s too sloppy!
  • ¼ tsp green food colouring
  • Pinch of salt

Day-of-the-Dead skulls, flowers and hearts

  • 1 medium handful of ready-to-roll icing (I used Dr. Oetker Regal-Ice)
  • Food colouring (I used PME Colour Gel Paste Cupcake Decorating Rainbow Cake Colours)
  • Silver balls

I only have one 9” spingform tin so I baked three consecutive sponge cake layers.

First the tequila cake layers:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease the 9” cake tin.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice, zest, soya milk, oil, tequila, vanilla and sugar.
  3. Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder and whisk into the wet mix.
  4. Toss in the salt and whisk well to make a smooth batter.
  5. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 25 minutes until firm (test with a toothpick to check that inside is cooked).
  6. Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool.

Repeat for a second tequila-flavoured layer.

For the vanilla cake layer

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease the 9” cake tin.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the soya milk and vinegar and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.
  3. Add the oil, sugar and vanilla and whisk well.
  4. Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder and whisk into the wet mix.
  5. Toss in the salt and add the red colouring and whisk well to make a smooth batter.
  6. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 25 minutes until firm (test with a toothpick to check that inside is cooked).
  7. Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool.

Make the frosting by beating the sugar and margarine together with the tequila, colouring and salt vigorously until smooth.

Assemble the cake:

  1. When the three cakes are cool, place one tequila layer on a cake stand and spread half the pink frosting over it.
  2. Place the pink vanilla cake on top and spread the remaining pink frosting over it.
  3. Place the second tequila cake layer on top and smother the whole cake with green frosting.

For the skulls, flowers and hearts

  1. Roll out a thin (0.5cm) layer of icing using icing sugar to stop it sticking.
  2. Cut eight skull shapes using a skull-shaped cookie cutter.
  3. Sketch out a rough design on some scrap paper and follow it using a syringe or piping bag to pipe thin lines of coloured icing made soft with a few drops of water. Add silver balls to the eyes.
  4. Using the remaining white icing, add colour and mix well then cut flowers and hearts.
  5. Decorate the cake and don’t hold back!

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Vegan meringues – best yet!

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My favourite old t-shirt says: If it ain’t stiff, it ain’t worth a fuck. Of course, the t-shirt is referring to Stiff Records, an independent record company formed in 1976. Devo, Dr Feelgood, Elvis Costello, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Lena Lovich, Madness, Motorhead, The Damned, The Pogues and Wreckless Eric were just some of the many artists who recorded on Stiff.

What’s that got to do with meringues? Well, when whisking up your aquafaba, if it ain’t stiff, it ain’t worth a fuck! I’ve been playing about and discovered that reducing the aquafaba is key to a stiff meringue. These ones were super-easy to make and came out really light, fluffy and crispy. 

  • Aquafaba: water from a can of chick peas Meringue1
  • A pinch of cream of tartar
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  1. Line two baking trays with baking paper and heat the oven to 100°C.
  2. Prepare a piping bag over a jug or pint glass.
  3. Drain the chick peas and transfer the aquafaba (juice from the can) into a saucepan.
  4. Heat the aquafaba gently, let it simmer and reduce to ⅓ a cup in volume.
  5. Let it cool in the fridge for 10-15 minutes then whisk it with an electric balloon whisk until it  begins to bubble up.
  6. Add cream of tartar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form (this should happen much quicker with reduced aquafaba than with it straight from the tin).
  7. Then add the sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking all the time until all the sugar is mixed in – you should now have glossy stiff peaks.
  1. Transfer the mix into a piping bag and pipe out mini meringues (I got around 40).
  2. Bake at 100°C for two hours then turn of the oven, unclick the door and leave to cool for one hour.
  3. When the meringues are done, gently loosen each one from the baking paper but keep them on your lined trays (if they are still sticky, cook for another hour then allow to cool).
  4. Serve with vegan whipped cream, yoghurt or ice-cream and fruit.

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Vegan Reykjavik

It was my first time in Iceland and I had no idea what to expect in terms of vegan food. I know some traditional dishes include cured meat and dried fish…  I was happy to find out that, like most other European cities, Reykjavik has plenty to offer a greedy vegan! A word of warning  everything is expensive in Iceland except tampons! You just have to adjust your mind-set or you’ll spend the whole time saying “How fucking much?!”

Our first night, we headed down the road to Kaffi Vinyl – Reykjavik’s first 100% vegan café, bar, restaurant and record shop located in Hverfisgata 76, parallel to the main shopping street Laugavegur. I chose lasagne: it arrived piping hot in a bowl and was made  with a tomato-based sauce, vegetables, béchamel sauce and cashew cheese, it came with a fresh spinach salad, green pesto and a slice of crusty garlic bread (£17). My fella went for the Thai noodles: a generous plate of noodles, colourful vegetables, cashew nuts and crispy tofu (£17). We had a beer each too and it was during happy hour (4pm-7pm) so it was around £5 for a pint. They also serve wine and a few cocktails, they can even make a whisky sour made with aquafaba! The food was delicious and I was sad to have only had time to visit this place once. If I go to Iceland again, I will definitely return here. Kaffi Vinyl is open from 9:00am-11:00pm on weekdays and 10:00am-11:00pm on weekends.

The next day we did the ‘free’ city walking tour which was great fun and very interesting. It was freezing though and snowing on and off so afterwards, we decided to look for hot soup… I’m so glad we did as we found a real treasure of a place in Súpubarinn (Bergstaðastræti 4). It’s a small café offering a choice of four veggie/vegan soups! The day we were there they had Tomato and Basil, Mulligatawny, Tex Mex and Malaysian. Soup and a sandwich costs around £10 but its a generous bowl of steaming hot soup and a delicious homemade sandwich full of pickles and interesting veggies. Soup and bread costs a little less and you get hummus with your bread. Most cafes have jugs of tap water available (sometimes with lemon, cucumber or ice in it). I suggest going for that unless you want beer or wine as the tap water is pretty amazing. Apparently local people find it very amusing when they see tourists buying bottled water!

Opening hours and Monday to Friday 11am-8pm and Saturday 12pm-8pm and Sunday closed.

That evening it was snowing heavily and the hunt for the Northern Lights was cancelled so we headed up to a bar/restaurant called Pylsa on Laugavegur 105.  They serve a range of sausages including the vegan Bulsur which comes with maple syrup-sweet potato mash (for some reason we were given chips instead), fresh salad and coconut creamed kale (£13). The dining tables are in an area behind the bar surrounded by old mirrors and red velvet curtains – a bit Twin Peaks, but in a good way. They do great cocktails and happy hour is 4pm-8pm when beer is about £5 instead of £9-10!

There is a hostel upstairs and apparently they do dinner deals. Open Tuesday-Saturday 5pm-10pm.

The poshest meal we had was at the Lava Restaurant at the Blue Lagoon. Tip – if you book a premium pass for the Lagoon you get a free drink in the lagoon and a free glass of fizz in the restaurant too. They offer a set menu and an à la carte menu. The vegetarian menu (which is vegan), includes:

  • Baked yellow and red beets – mixed lettuce, radishes, plums with vegan mayo
  • Baked celeriac –  onions, fennel, almonds and chickpeas
  • Strawberries – coconut sorbet with mint and almonds

Two courses cost around £46 and three courses around £53. The food was really lovely and I would recommend going here! I’ve never thought of cooking baked celeriac but will be trying it at home as it was delicious!

The last evening, we went for a pizza at Eldsmidjan on Laugavegur 81. The waiter was Danish and had just got the job after arriving in Iceland nine days earlier. He told us the owner was a vegan and that’s why the menu featured the Vegano: a thin-crust pizza topped with a tomato sauce, mushrooms, onions, broccoli (bit weird), black olives and vegan cheese! There are three sizes to choose from small (£15), medium (£20) or large (£27).  The medium sized one covered a regular plate and was more than enough for one, I gave a slice away…

Lastly I would say how easy it is to find vegan food in Reykjavic. Most cafés we went in had soya milk and I had a great vegan mocha coffee in Mokka-Kaffi on Skólavörðustíg 3A (where singer John Grant was photographed for one of his album covers).

To save a bit of cash, if you are heading out on a tour or a day trip, I recommend going to the Bonus supermarket and buying some bread rolls and some vegan meat or cheese slices to make your own packed lunch. Tofurky products were widely available in Bonus!

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It’s just amazing to see how fast things are changing across the planet! The vegans are taking over!

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