Plum frangipane

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I made these for Valentine’s Day because I reckon the plums look a bit like a  love heart. Well I thought that anyway.

For the pastry:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • ½ cup vegan margarine
  • 1 dessert spoon ground almonds
  • 1 dessert spoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water (you might need more)

For the frangipane:

  • 3 tablespoons cold non-hydrogenated vegan margarine, cut into pieces
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoons cornflour
  • Pinch salt
  • Large pinch of ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 fresh plums, halved and stoned

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C.
  2. Grease six small tart tins.
  3. First make the pastry. Rub the margarine into the flour to make fine breadcrumbs then add the almonds and sugar. Add the water and combine to form a firm pastry. Try to add the smallest amount that you can in order to make the mixture hold together. Don’t worry if it is a little bit dry. Rest the pastry in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Line the six tart tins with a thin layer of pastry then return them to the fridge while you make the frangipane.
  5. In a blender, combine the margarine, sugar, almonds, corn flour, salt, cinnamon, almond milk and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Spoon the frangipane mix into the pastry cases.
  6. Gently place the plum halves in the centre of each tart and slightly ease them into the mix – don’t push them under!
  7. Bake for 35-40 mins until the frangipane starts to brown. Turn the oven off and leave them in the oven to cool.
  8. When still warm, brush them with some heated apricot jam to make them nice and shiny.

Serve warm with vegan ice-cream.

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Where the Wild Garlic Grows

Jules: So, tell me again about wild garlic.

Vincent: Okay, what you wanna know?

Jules: It’s legal to pick it right?

Vincent: Yeah, it’s legal, but it ain’t a hundred percent legal. I mean, you can’t just walk into the woods and start pulling up the bulbs. You’re only supposed to pick a few leaves, and just here and there.

Jules: And those are in public places?

Vincent: It breaks down like this: unless you’re the landowner, it’s illegal to pull up the bulbs. But it’s legal to pick it, it’s legal to carry it, and get a load of this, if you pick enough of it, you can make shit loads of pesto and freeze it. I mean, that’s a right!

Jules: Oh, man! I’m going, that’s all there is to it. I’m fucking going.

Vincent: Yeah baby, you’d dig it the most.

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 Wild garlic pesto (makes four small tubs – think of a regular hummus tub 2/3 full)

  • 350g Wild garlic leaves, washed
  • 175g Pine nuts, toasted for 3-4 minutes in the oven (watch them like a hawk – they can burn in seconds and that’s an expensive mistake!)
  • 25g Vegan Parmesan cheese
  • 200ml olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste

Put all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until you like the look of it. Unlike peanut butter, I like my pesto smooth but some like it with a bit of crunch. So get  picking! Don’t hang about, it’ll be gone by June. Get seasonal and serve it with jersey royals and asparagus, or add it to a spring risotto, or potato cakes or scrambled tofu for a perfect seasonal brunch.

 

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UK’s first vegan Fish n Chip shop

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Tonight I got my tea from the UK’s first vegan fish and chip shop! The new takeaway is based in the Fishponds area of Bristol just along from the giant Morrison’s on the main road. They serve Tofish and chips, battered sausage, curry sauce, mushy peas, salad and a host of other things you expect to see in a fish and chip shop but all vegan.

I had a nice chat with Jon, one of the owners of the new venture, who is very excited about the amount of interest the takeaway has attracted, not only from Bristol’s vegan community but from the Bristol Evening Post, prolific blogger Fat Gay Vegan and today, Sea Shepherd sent a ringing endorsement and best wishes via Facebook! I heard that a vegan fried chicken place just opened in Hackney in London but as far as I know, and Jon too, this is the UK’s first vegan fish and chip shop. How lucky are we it’s in Bristol?!

My fella and I bought large fish and chips twice (£6 each) and were kindly given a very nice salad and some tartar sauce to sample. We dashed home and dished up… The tofish is made from battered, marinated tofu with a layer of nori. The batter was really light and crispy – perfect! It was surprisingly fishy, but in a really good way. The portions of chips were very generous and the salad and sauce was very tasty, a good mix of leaves – no iceberg in sight!

They have big plans for the future aiming to offer the healthiest fast food take out possible. Everything from a vegan take on a chip shop, right through to super salad bowls and wraps, using sprouted and krauted seeds, beans and vegetables. Pie, chips and peas, vegan fried cheeken (a take on fried chicken) and gluten-free battered sausage and chips, along with the much loved tofish and chips. Kebab wraps, homemade sauces like chilli, sweet and sour, gravy, curry sauce, garlic mayo. They plan to develop the menu to include other classic takeout wok dishes and even pizza, all made from vegetables from the wholefood shop Jon runs called Matter Wholefoods – always organic and wherever possible local and seasonal. There are plans to include desserts from pineapple, banana and apple fritters through to raw vegan cheesecakes and homemade super chocolate. Their dishes will be aimed at everyone – not just vegans!

What a treat having this just up the road. It’s actually a two minute walk from where my fella works so I can see it becoming a regular thing…

www.facebook.com/Matterfastfoods  

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Choose vegan

I keep seeing the words “Choose vegan” and wincing. Surley you choose to go vegan? But then I thought how fitting it would be to tweak John Hodge’s poem written for the film Trainspotting:

Choose Life. Choose a compassionate job. Choose an ethical career. Choose a kind-hearted family. Choose a fucking big heart, choose cruelty-free washing powder, no leather seats in cars, compact disc players to listen to Morrissey and tin openers for your chick peas. Choose exceptional good health, low cholesterol and less cancer. Choose ethical investments. Choose a forever home suitable for rescued animals. Choose your friends – carefully. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage, no leather, wool or silk. Choose a three-piece suite in a range of fucking cruelty-free fabrics. Choose DIY and knowing who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-expanding, spirit-lifting documentaries, stuffing vegan junk food into your mouth. Choose dancing and laughing to the end of it all, embracing all life in a happy home, more than an inspiration to the angry activists you encouraged to replace yourself.

Choose your planet’s future.

Choose vegan.

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Sticky, Chilli Tofu

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Adapted from a recipe by Bosh. This is really cheap to make! I used half a block of Cauldron Food plain tofu (about 75p’s worth!). The tofu comes out crispy and sweet with a kick of chilli and salty tamari. It’s a bit fiddly but well worth it.

  • 1/2 a block of plain tofu, chopped into little finger-sized sticks
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 tbs of sweet chilli sauce or chilli jam
  • A large squirt of Sriacha (hot chilli sauce)
  • 3 tbsp tamari (or soya sauce)
  • 1 squirt of tomato puree
  • 1 small sachet of sugar (like you get in cafes)
  • Cornflour
  • Vegetable oil
  • Black onion (nigella) seeds and sesame seeds
  1. Coat the tofu stick in cornflour by sprinkling the flour through a sieve onto the tofu then turning the sticks over until evenly coated.
  2. Put the orange juice, sweet chilli sauce, Sriacha, tamari and sugar in a big flat frying pan (cast iron if you have one) and cook down to  a thick sauce.
  3. Fry the flour-covered tofu sticks in hot vegetable oil until they begin to brown.
  4. Transfer the tofu into the pan containing the sauce and coat the sticks until they are all covered.
  5. Serve with rice and stir-fried vegetables.
  6. Sprinkle black onion and sesame seeds on the tofu.

 

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Mushroom soup

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This recipe is adapted from the Sea Shepherd book Cooking up a Storm. The authors says, when weather calms down, a nice big bowl of piping hot soup is the perfect way to warm up a fellow crew member who has spent a long day zigzagging around the ice, harassing whale poachers.

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups (about 30) button mushrooms, finely diced
  • 2 ½ tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 cups of water or stock made with vegan Boullion
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup vegan cream
  • Freshly ground white pepper

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion, garlic until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for 10-15mins then add the water/stock, wine and season to taste. Cook for a further 10 minutes then blend. Serve with a swirl of vegan cream and some flat leaf parsley.

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Vegan Fish Fingers

So Quorn have increased their vegan range to include ‘Fishless Fingers’. My lovely vegan friends who live in the next street to me picked some up and gave me a packet! They are quite fishy (although for me it’s been a while) and a bit denser than Vbites fish fingers. Nice in a sandwich with ketchup or with mash and peas. Well done Quorn, I’m hoping you’ll drop the eggyness from all your foods now.

 

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