Mighty Food Fight… again

Delicious tuck on my lunch hour down at The Mighty Food Fight today!

★ Southern Fried Tofu (crispy, ‘buttermilk’ coated pieces)
★ Mexican Style Quinoa Salad with Black Beans
★ Apple Slaw dressed in Mayo
★ Collard Greens with Coconut Bacon
★ Homemade Aioli
★ Classic BBQ Sauce
★Spicy Wedges and Chipotle Salsa!

It was all so lovely I forgot to buy one of their amazing donuts to take back to the office. D’oh!

The Mighty Food Fight is Hannah, Isabel and René, a 1978 Citroen HY van. The food they make is all vegan, colourful and bursting with flavour. You can find them in Old Market Bristol on the corner of Narrow Plain and Temple Quay by the Pip n Jay Church (BS2 0ET).

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Great Vegan Breakfast in Hackney

I was in London with my fella for Field day festival in Hackney, Patti Smith and the Gallery cafeSavages played and were great! I would say ‘awesome’ but then I’d have to throw up. We stayed in Shoreditch and I woke up hungry wanting a decent vegan fry-up. The Gallery Café on Old Ford Road in Bethnal Green was one of the nearest places listed by Happy Cow as doing a good breakfast. It was a 30-minutre walk from our hotel so and I found a wallet on the pavement on our way which caused a delay, standing around wondering what to do with it (luckily the bloke who’d dropped it appeared on skateboard and we were able to return it to him). Warning! Breakfast is served until 12pm on weekdays and 3pm on weekends. It was a Monday we visited on and we got there just 10 minutes before they stopped serving breakfast, so I felt pretty lucky and a big huffy mood was avoided. Vegan breakfast (£7.50) consist of two veggie sausages (V-bites sausages cooked in some kind of clamshell George Foreman-type grill), hash browns, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, scrambled tofu and sourdough toast. They had run out of tomatoes so I had spinach which suits me just fine. It was very nice and the scrambled tofu was great. I had a big cup of tea with it too. My fella had the Breakfast Quesadilla: refried beans and cheese (vegan or dairy) in a toasted tortilla topped with scrambled tofu, fresh tomato, sour cream and coriander (£6.95). It was good he said but not a patch on the Breakfast Burrito he had in San Francisco – that would take some beating. He had a cappuccino and the whole bill was £18.50. I would certainly go back here, there’s a nice outdoor seating area at the front, a laid back feel and the staff were friendly and helpful. Maybe the rude staff member (mentioned in other TripAdvisor reviews) has either left or cheered up!

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The Tree House, Stokes Croft, Bristol

I’ve walked passed this place a few times, I work just around the corner from it, but it wasn’t until a friend suggested we went for lunch there that I realised they cater for vegans (way beyond a lonely dry baked potato and beans!). It’s got a good friendly feel and the staff, well there was only one person there the day I went, was very friendly and helpful.

IMG_5517The café was set up by Derw Robertson-Jacobs (previously the chef de partie at Jamie’s Italian and who now helps run The Love of Dub) with help from a few friends including Come Dine With Me winner Lilly Stephenson. They have used global influences combined with local produce including award-winning bread from East Bristol Bakery, salad leaves grown in Bristol by the Severn Project and organic vegetables from Somerset. Even the sign and refurbished interior was built using wood from the Bristol Wood Recycling Project; the reclaimed wood make the Tree House look a bit like a café for Hobbits. It’s nice and makes the place feel a bit different.

Breakfast is served all day which I reckon is the mark of a good café. Breakfast includes a Southern Indian-style dosa (pancake) stuffed with mildly spiced potatoes served with ‘magic’ homemade baked beans and scrambled eggs (we substituted the eggs for fried mushrooms). They also as serve a more traditional breakfast as well as porridge. For £5.50 it was a good plateful. The dosa was cooked really well – the potato was tasty and not too spicy. The beans were indeed ‘magic’ and much nicer than Heinz! The mushroom had that wonderful earthy taste you only get occasionally with good dark mushrooms.

It’s not a vegan or even vegetarian café but there is plenty of choice for a vegan and they clearly understand the deal. There is an extensive lunch menu too with soup and salad but I was far too occupied with my late breakfast, I will have to go back next week!

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Cookie Cream Berlin

As one of Berlin’s secret ‘underground’ restaurants, just finding Cookies Cream is a serious challenge! Hidden away in a service alley behind the Westin Grand Hotel, the hunt is over when you spot the huge chandelier hanging by a door, up a few steps, framed by light bulbs. Ring the buzzer, state your reservation and in you go up the stairs to the restaurant. The loft-style building has low ceilings, exposed brickwork and an open kitchen.

Chef Stephan Hentschel, trained by Michelin-starred Michael Kempf, is imaginative with flavours and ingredients producing inventive, vegetarian and vegan haute cuisine. The menu is kept small (no rice or pasta here) the vegan option was Baked Eggplant with Fava beans, Peanuts and Poppadum (€22). Cooking aubergine can be tricky, this was perfect. Dessert was Tangerine and Black Quinoa with Buckthorn Blossom Sorbet (€11), curious but in a good way with unusual flavours. As you are taking your coat off, they will offer you water (it happened to us and I saw others being offered it before they had a chance to look at the menu) but be warned, fizzy water is €6 a bottle! The house wine (€5/glass) is very nice, Berliner beer (€3.50/bottle) was just €1 more than in the squat bar we visited the next night! For two mains, two desserts with wine and coffee the bill was €91 (£67), good value given the high quality of the food.

Cookies Cream has a kind of ‘squat chic’ with its scruffy décor and dim lighting – you may need a torch in the loo! Brainchild of nightlife guru Heinz ‘Cookie’ Gindullis, his other restaurant downstairs is called Crackers and until recently was a nightclub – although the chairs are still strong enough to dance on! I guess it’s a sign of the times that we are more interested in food than raving these days.

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(No) Egham Massive Mess!

Eton Mess always sounds a bit posh for such a big gooey pudding and in the run-up to a general election, hotly contested by a bunch of old boys from Eton who make me sick to my stomach, I feel I should rename my dessert. So, I am calling it a (No) Egham Massive Mess. I made it for some vegan and omni friends last night and they all scoffed the lot and said it was very nice! Again, I must credit Goose Wohlt for his imagination and ingenuity in devising this egg-free meringue magic.

Ingredients

  • Aqua faba: water from a can of chick peas (no added salt)
  • A pinch of cream of tartar
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ½ bar of dark chocolate
  • 3-4 tubs of fruit: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries etc
  • 1 cup cashews (soaked for at least 2 hours, overnight if poss)
  • 1 small (160ml) can coconut cream
  • 1 large tbsp lemon curd
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar

MethodIMG_4713

Get everything ready! Line two baking trays with baking paper and heat the oven to 100°C. Prepare a piping bag over a jug or pint glass.

Drain the chick peas and transfer the aqua faba (juice from the can) into a saucepan.

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Heat the chick pea water gently in a pan reducing to ½ a cup in volume.

Let cool to room temp in a glass bowl then add cream of tartar and whisk for several mins with an electric balloon whisk until stiff peaks form.

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Add the sugar a teaspoonful at a time whisking all the time until all the sugar is mixed in – you should have glossy stiff peaks (matron!).

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Transfer into a piping bag and pipe out around 40 little meringues.

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Bake at 100°C for two hours then turn of the oven, unclick the door and leave to cool for one hour.

To make the cream, blitz the cashews and coconut cream in the best mixer you have, I used a Nutribullet, to get a smooth cream. Then add the lemon curd, vanilla and icing sugar.

When the meringues are done, gently loosen each one from the baking paper but keep them on your lined trays.

Put a heat-proof glass bowl over a couple of inches of boiling water in a pan a melt the plain chocolate.

Dip the edge of each meringue into the chocolate and then put them back on the tray to set.

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To assemble the (No) Egham Massive Mess, place fruit, dollops of cream and meringue randomly on a cake stand or your favourite plate to build up a pile of sugary goo!

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Cinnamon spiced Chick Pea and Vegetable Soup

I made this soup yesterday from a recipe in the excellent Nourish cookbook from the Penny Brohn Cancer Care centre in Bristol. I wouldn’t have thought to combine cinnamon with cayenne pepper, turmeric and fresh ginger – it tasted great! It’s full of carotenoids from the vegetable, lycopene from the tomatoes and protein from the chick peas. The ground cinnamon aids balancing blood sugar level.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh root ginger
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 450g potatoes
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 400g can chick peas
  • 1 tablespoon ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 20 twists black pepper
  • Coriander to garnish

Method

  1. Slowly sauté the onion in the oil to develop the flavour and the onion to be soft and transparent.
  2. Mix the spices together with a little stock to form a paste.
  3. Prepare the vegetables into chunks.
  4. Add to the onion pan with the paste and stir to combine.
  5. Add the stock, tinned tomatoes and most of the chick peas (reserving some to be stirred in at the end).
  6. Simmer until the vegetables are soft enough to blend.
  7. Add some of the lemon juice.
  8. Blend the soup with the ground almonds and return to the pan and heat through with the rest of the lemon juice if required.
  9. Garnish with chopped coriander and reserved chick peas.
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Vegan Meringue!

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It all started less than a month ago. Goose Wohlt experimenter, engineer, and food lover from Indiana, US, posted a picture of vegan meringues in the Facebook group What Fat Vegans Eat. Goose’s said: “dead simple delicious two ingredient whole food meringues… one can chickpea brine mixed w half cup sugar. perfect-O”. Soon after that, Rebecca Stucki started a new Facebook group called Vegan Meringue – Hits and Misses. In just a couple of weeks, this group has attracted nearly 2,000 members! I made my first batch of meringues yesterday and it is not a hoax! You can make meringues with the canning liquor from tinned chick peas!!! It whisks up just like egg white! My limited understanding is that with egg meringue, it’s the unfolding proteins, produced from a good whisking/beating, that form the scaffolding structure of a meringue. The gaps in the scaffolding are then filled with sugar molecules. When you slowly heat the meringue the water evaporates leaving a crispy, crunchy texture. Too much heat causes the water to expand and evaporate too fast and make the inside hollow. Now, with chick pea canning liquor it’s hard to know if it’s the same principle… it would seem that there are proteins in the juice as people who use juice from home-cooked beans don’t appear to have the same results as those using canning liquor (into which the beans have had a lot more time to leach protein). The role of starch/carbohydrate is unclear. With eggy meringue, it is advised that you use a copper bowl. One reason for using a copper or glass bowl is that plastic bowls may have traces of fat on them – fatal to an eggy meringue. Fat seems not to be such a problem for this type of meringue (chick peas themselves contain 10 times as much fat as egg whites, but it is unclear about how much is in the canning liquor). Copper ions from a copper bowl can bind to a protein in egg (conalbumin) and strengthen it. Adding lemon juice/vinegar/cream of tartar before the sugar provides acid which may slow the newly unfolded proteins bonding together and permit even more air to be whisked in – this may or may not help with canning liquor depending on the protein content I suppose… Anyway, I whisked up the gooey water from a can of Napolina chick peas. First it went bubbly then it thickened and went white and formed peaks – just like egg whites! I then added some cream of tartar (I think I added too much – it should just be a couple of pinches). Then I added half a cup of caster sugar, adding it a bit at a time to avoid collapsing the mix. The result was a thick and glossy meringue. I piped out little blobs on a sheet of baking paper and baked at 100°C for two hours. Then I left them in the oven to cool – just unclick the door, don’t open it. It is astonishing – I have meringues! This opens a whole new world of vegan desserts – Pavloa, Lemon Meringue Pie, Key Lime Pie, Soufflé, Macaroons, Chocolate Mousse, Baked Alaska…. As the lovely Edwyn Collins would say “The possibilities are endless!”

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