Lemon and berry polenta cake

Cake 2Flour is limited at the moment because I’m guessing loads of people have dusted off their old bread-makers and starting baking bread during lockdown. It’s possible to make this cake without flour but this recipe only uses 150 grams leaving most of the one bag we have for some more baking later in the week – cakes or bread? Hmmm…

This recipe is based on one from the Domestic Gothess.

Ingredients:

  • 125 g polentacake 1
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 130 g caster (sugar
  • 120 ml rapeseed oil
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup soya milk
  • ½ cup vegan crème fraiche or yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A handful of fresh blackcurrants, redcurrant and/or blueberries

Syrup:

  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a 10 inch cast iron frying pan (or use a cake tin)
  2. Place the polenta, ground almonds, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the lemon zest, sugar, oil, lemon juice, milk, yoghurt and vanilla extract and whisk well until no dry lumps remain.
  4. Pour the batter into the pan and spread it level then scatter over the berries.
  5. Bake for about 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  6. While the cake is baking, mix together the lemon juice and maple syrup.
  7. When the cake is done but still warm, drizzle over the syrup then allow it to cool a little before serving.
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Lockdown brownies

Brownie

I’m craving sweet stuff, but don’t want to go to the shops, so I looked online. I liked the look of the BOSH boys brownies – suitably filthy. I was nearly out of cocoa but have a new tub of hot chocolate, so I improvised, it went pretty well, but the kitchen looks like I’d held a dirty protest.

Ingredients:

  • 300g plain flour
  • 400g light brown sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 100g vegan hot chocolate
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 40g chocolate and hazelnut smooth peanut butter
  • 220ml water
  • 200ml vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • A handful of raspberries and whole pecan nuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C and line a 20 x 30cm cake tin with baking paper making sure there’s a good overhang to act as handles to remove the brownie from the tin when it comes out of the oven.
  2. Add the flour, sugar, cocoa, hot chocolate, baking powder and salt to the food processor and whizz to combine.
  3. Add the chocolate and hazelnut peanut butter, water, oil and vanilla. Blend until everything is smooth.
  4. Stir in the chopped chocolate.
  5. Transfer the brownie mix into the cake tin and smooth it out so it goes all the way to the edges of the tin.
  6. Push the raspberries and pecans evenly spaced into the mix.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes, until cooked and beginning to go hard on the outside but still squidgy in the middle.
  8. Cool to room temperature, lift it out of the tin and put it on a chopping board, chop it up and stuff your face!
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Valentine’s Day vegan steak and chips

steakI avoid eating out on Valentine’s Day evening as it can be difficult to book and quite a few restaurants change their regular menu so it can be a bit of a rip off! This year I fancied trying one the new vegan steaks – I couldn’t have said that a few years ago! There is so much choice now. And yes, if you’re wondering, my fella and I did buy each other the same card this year!

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I’ve tried Vivera vegan steaks and liked them but wanted to try something new so I picked the new Plant Pioneers steaks (£3 from Sainsbury’s). They are quite substantial and really tasty – I haven’t eaten meat for 40 years so I can’t say how authentic they are but I enjoyed them! My fella made the chips (his specialty) and we had grilled tomato, peas and salad along with a delicious pink peppercorn sauce made especially for Valentine’s Day!

Pink peppercorn sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp pink peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • 75ml Madeira (or brandy)
  • 50ml stock (you might need more or less to get the right saucy consistency)
  • 1 tbsp mushroom ketchup
  • 75ml vegan cream (I use Alpro Longlife)
  • A knob of vegan butter/margarine
  • Sea salt

Directions:

  1. Lightly roast the peppercorns in a small pan until they smell aromatic then roughly crush them in a pestle and mortar.
  2.  Put the peppercorns back in the pan and add the Madeira and cook down before adding the stock and mushroom ketchup, continue to cook down until about half the volume.
  3. Add the cream and stir until you have a nice thick sauce.
  4. Turn off the heat, stir in the vegan butter and add a pinch of sea salt.
  5. Pour over the steaks and enjoy!

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Vegan pigs in blankets

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This was my first time for making pigs in blankets. I grew up in a fairly unconventional house and I can’t say I remember us ever having the meaty version of this at Christmas.

You could use VBites Meat-Free Mini Pork Sausages but I couldn’t get them so I bought some Linda McCartney Red Onion and Rosemary Sausages. I thawed two boxes out in the fridge overnight, then on Christmas morning, I cut each sausage in half lengthwise and moulded the ends round to make a total of 24 mini sausages. I then fried them in olive oil until they browned a bit.

I then wrapped each one in a slice of seitan bacon, which I had prepared the previous day. I used a cocktail stick to secure it. You could use shop-bought vegan bacon, but homemade tastes much better and costs a lot less!

They just need 10 minutes in the oven then before serving. Bon appétit!

 

 

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Christmas Tofoie gras

tofoie gras0Last Christmas I was cooking for a non-vegan French friend and decided to try out my tofoie gras recipe. It went down a storm! I know some vegans can’t get their heads around recreating a dish produced in such a vile, torturous way. Foie gras (French for fatty liver) is a pâté made of the diseased liver of ducks or geese that have been fattened up by force-feeding with a tube, a process known as gavage. This is torture marketed as a delicacy.

Foie gras is illegal to produce in the UK but it is legal to import it. After sustained pressure from Viva!, Amazon stopped selling it as have many restaurants now including Heston Blumenthal’s. Viva! continue to campaign for its complete removal from shops and restaurants in the UK. If you spot it on a menu in the UK, drop Viva! a line! info@viva.org.uk

The reason I made this is because I want to show everyone, regardless of diet, that vegans can have it all without death and cruelty on our plates! The advent of aqua faba and the beautiful, light, crunchy meringues you can make without eggs was a milestone. We’ve come such a long way since White Wave soya milk and Tomor margarine!!

Have a very merry, cruelty-free Christmas!

Ingredients for six small pots:tofoie gras2

  • 200g smoked tofu (I used Taifun)
  • 100g cashew pieces, soaked in water for a few hours
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp ground almonds
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • A few drops of liquid smoke (optional)
  • 2 tsp cognac (use brandy if you don’t have cognac)
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½  tbsp vegan butter (I like Naturli)
  • ½ tsp turmeric

Directions:

  1. Blend everything expect the butter and turmeric together until smooth.
  2. Spoon into small pots and smooth the top down.
  3. Melt the butter in a pan then stir in the turmeric until it has dissolved.
  4. Pour a little of the melted butter onto the top of the pâté in each pot then chill in the fridge for at least one hour before serving.
  5. Serve with warm toast.

tofoie gras1

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New York-style vegan cheesecake with blackcurrants

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This recipe is adapted from one in Gaz Oakley’s Vegan 100 book which my son gave to me last Christmas. I cooked this for him (my son, not Gaz Oakley) last time he came for dinner…

Ingredients

  • Most of a pack of HobNobs (hold back a couple to have with a cuppa later)
  • ½ a cup of vegan marg (I use Pure)
  • 1 tbsp of melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ a cup of ground almonds
  • 360g of vegan cream cheese (tofutti is best but the new Violife one is good too – make sure you DON’T use a garlic and herb-flavoured one!!)
  • ½ a can of coconut milk
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp blackcurrant jelly
  • Blackcurrants to decorate (frozen is OK)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 170°C.
  2. Blitz the biscuits in a blender than transfer them to a bowl and add the melted marg and coconut oil.
  3. Mix well and add the vanilla.
  4. Press biscuit mix into a well-greased nine-ten inch spring-release tin, pushing the mix up the sides and place the tin in the fridge.
  5. Blend the grounds almonds, cream cheese and coconut milk until smooth then add the sugar, flour and cornflour.
  6.  Add the vanilla extract and give it a pulse or two to blend in.
  7.  Remove the base from the fridge and pour the mix.
  8. Pour warm water into a baking tray to a depth of around an inch.
  9. Wrap foil around the bottom and sides of the cheesecake tin to prevent water  getting in and place it in the water-filled tray.
  10.  Cook for one hour.
  11. When it is cooked, place the cheesecake on the side (don’t try and remove it from the tin) and warm the blackcurrant jelly in a pan.
  12. Pour the warm jelly onto the top of the cheese cake and leave it to cool.
  13. Once it has cooled, decorate the top with fresh or frozen blackcurrants and place it in the fridge.
  14. When it is properly chilled, remove the spring-release tin and transfer it to a pretty plate for serving.
  15. Remove it from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving to improve the texture (it can be a little waxy straight from the fridge).

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Butternut squash and sweet potato curry

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This recipe is adapted from one by Nigella Lawson! I cooked it recently for some friends, one of them said it’s the best meal he’s ever had haha! It’s a lovely, heart-warming, coconutty curry. Perfect for a chilly, autumnal night.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large red onion, cut into chunks
  • 2-3 red chillies, stalks and seeds removed and cut into chunks
  • 50g or a thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thick slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 15g fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped (or 1 tsp ground turmeric)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 300ml of vegetable stock
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  •  1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into large bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces

Method

  1. Put the onion, chillies, ginger, garlic, turmeric, ground coriander, cinnamon and salt into a food processor (or use a stick blender) and blend to a paste.
  2. Heat the coconut or vegetable oil in a wide heavy-based pan, then fry the paste for about 1 minute, stirring well.
  3. Add the coconut milk and stir in well before adding the stock and tinned tomatoes.
  4. Add the sweet potato and squash to the sauce and bring to the boil then turn down the heat, put the lid on and simmer for 40-50 minutes (checking throughout to stop anything sticking) until the sweet potatoes and the squash are soft.
  5. Check the seasoning, then leave to stand off the heat for 10 minutes or so before serving.

Serve with black Venus rice (cooked according to the instructions on the packet) and  Jalapeño coriander salsa (see below) drizzled over the top of it. 

Jalapeño coriander salsa

Ingredients

  • 4-5 jalapeños seeded and cut in large chunks
  • 1 medium sized bunch of coriander
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until all the ingredients are completely crushed and the sauce is smooth.
  2. Use immediately or keep it in the fridge until ready to use (it is best used the same day).

 

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