Theme: Fancy AF – Dazzle us with your haute cuisine or gourmet dishes.
These tofu beignets are inspired by a meal I had a the Bulrush restaurant in Bristol around this time last year. The tofu is marinated in arame, wrapped in nori and deep-fried in batter then served with lime mayo and pea purée.
- 150g plain tofu
- 1 tbsp. of arame or 1/2 tbsp. of seaweed condiment
- 100g plain flour
- 3 tbsp. vegan mayo
- 1/2 a lime, zest and juice
- 2 tbsp. peas
- 1/2 a sheet of nori
- 1 dessert spoon of baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoonful of toasted sesame oil
- 125ml (more or less) chilled water
- Vegetable oil
- Chop the tofu into 2cm cubes.
- Crush the arame seaweed in a pestle and mortar and toss over the tofu cubes and leave to marinate for at least an hour.
- Put the flour in the freezer in a small glass bowl to chill.
- Mix the mayo with the lime zest and juice in a small bowl.
- Boil the peas for a minute or two, drain then mash in a pestle and mortar.
- Roughly break up the nori, soak in water for a few minutes, then wrap small pieces around each tofu cube (don’t worry about covering the whole cube, half-covered is fine).
- Mix the chilled flour, baking powder, salt and add the oil.
- Then add the chilled water slowly and whisk until you get to the consistently of very thick cream.
- Coat each cube of tofu in batter and deep fry in hot vegetable oil until golden brown – around 3-4 mins.
- To assemble, put a few blobs of lime mayo on a plate and place a beignet on top of each then top with pea purée.
Theme: Unconventional grains – Cooking with freekeh, buckwheat, sorghum, etc – try something you wouldn’t usually!
Greenwheat Freekeh is made from young grains of wheat harvested and toasted. It has a nutty taste and chewy texture. It can be used place of rice, couscous or bulgur wheat. Artisan Grains reckon that: “These highly nutritious small, light coloured toasted grains have a delicate smoky flavour and masses of health benefits including 4 times the fibre of brown rice and low GI“. 100g of cooked Freekeh contains nearly 9g of protein, around a fifth of your daily requirement. I thought they were a bit like pearl barley and worked well in an autumn salad with beetroot and kale.
Serves two as a meal or four as a side.
- 100g wholegrain Freekeh
- 350 ml cup vegetable stock (Bouillon)
- Pinch of salt
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 handfuls of kale, tough stems removed and finely shredded
- 1 apple, chopped into slices then each slice, halved
- Small handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted
- Small handful of cup walnuts, toasted
- 2-3 roast beetroot, chopped into small chunks
- Cook the freekeh and stock (Bouillon) in a medium saucepan.
- When cooked, drain and set aside while you prepare the vinaigrette and salad.
- Put the salt, mustard and maple syrup into a small bowl and whisk together.
- Add the vinegar and whisk vigorously until you have an emulsion.
- In a large bowl, mix together the shredded kale, apple, pumpkin seeds and walnuts and mix together (don’t add the beetroot until last as it will make everything pink!).
- When ready to serve, add the vinaigrette and toss to coat all the salad then scatter the beetroot chunks on and serve.
Theme: Making the humble potato the star of the show
These take a little time and patience to prepare but they are a bit of a treat and great for dinner parties or fancy roast dinners. You need to use a good roasting potato like Maris Piper, go for long, oval shaped ones, not round. Choose spuds that are roughly the same size so that they all cook at the same rate and are ready at the same time.
- 18 medium potatoes (try to buy long ones, not round)
- 45 grams vegan margarine
- 5 tbsp. olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Thinly slice the potatoes nearly all the way through but not quite. You must leave the base of each potato unsliced so that it holds the top together. A clever trick to help with this is to place each potato in the bowl of a wooden spoon so that when you cut into it, the knife can’t slip and go all the way through. Use the sharpest knife you have.
- When you have sliced all your spuds, drizzle olive oil over them and roll them gently in your hands to coat them.
- Sprinkle with salt and bake in a hot oven for around 1 hour. They are ready when they are golden brown and when you can easily slide a thin knife in and out of them.
You can eat these with a roast dinner or with a rich bean stew, ratatouille and sausages or anything you fancy really!
Theme: Deconstructed dish – Hipster style food. Serving it on a slate is optional.
Well, where do I start? Craft beer, artisan bread, smashed avocado (really!), beef broth in a mason jar (ack!), well, anything in a bloody mason jar, gourmet burgers, pulled pork, civet coffee (expensive wild cat-crap coffee to you and me), maple bacon, balsamic emulsion, heirloom tomatoes, raspberry reduction, elevated toast, artisan pickle – that’s just homemade isn’t it? Oof the list goes on and on. So here it is, my take on hipster food – Deconstructed Piña Colada Cupcakes.
The recipe is adapted from Pineapple Right-Side-Up Cupcakes (Oh the irony!) from the great book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I made the cakes, as shown below, for a friend’s birthday and decorated them with Love Heart sweets. My friend thought the big Birthday box was an exciting present and grabbed it and gave it a good shake. Hence – Deconstructed Cupcakes!!! We all put our hands in and ate them anyway.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup crushed pineapple
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ¼ cup rapeseed (canola) oil
- ½ cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- ¼ cup vegan margarine
- 1 tbsp coconut cream (store in the fridge overnight first then use the thick creamy top)
- 2 tsp white rum
- Preheat oven to 180°C and line a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.
- Whisk the pineapple, coconut milk, oil and sugar in a large bowl until frothy and smooth.
- Combine the dry and wet ingredients.
- Divide between the 12 cupcake liners, they will be about two-thirds full.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Cool completely.
- Cream together the margarine and coconut cream then add the icing sugar and rum.
- Store in the fridge for 30 mins or more then pipe onto the cakes.
- If you have any leftover pineapple, add a couple of small chucks to each cake.
Theme: A dish with five ingredients or fewer (not including cooking oil and salt and pepper).
Easy pasta for a Thursday night! This easy supper took around 15 minutes to make and tasted great thanks to the last bit of vegan chorizo sausage I had left from the stash of vegan goodies I bought back from my recent trip to the US. VBites make a pretty-good chorizo too.
- 200g pasta
- 1 Trader Joe’s vegan chorizo sausage (or 1 pack of Vbites chorizo)
- 1 bulb of fennel, sliced
- 1 large handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
- Vegan Parmesan
Cook the pasta as directed on the packet. While it is cooking roast the fennel and tomatoes in a dash of olive oil (or chilli oil if you like things really spicy) in a hot oven (200°C) for 10-15 mins. Cook the chorizo in a small frying pan for 5 mins until browned then drain the pasta, mix it all together and sprinkle with vegan Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper. Couldn’t be easier!
Theme: Chocolate – Today is Chocolate Cupcake Day, but you can make anything you want with chocolate!
These four-way chocolate cupcakes are made with a chocolate sponge cupcake recipe adapted from the brilliant Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. They contain chocolate chips and are iced with chocolate and mint frosting and decorated with chocolate buttons. That should satisfy anyone’s chocolate craving!
- 240 ml soya milk
- 1 tsp cider vinegar
- 150 g sugar
- 80 ml rapeseed (canola) oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp peppermint extract
- 110 g plain flour
- 40 g cocoa
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 50 g dark mint chocolate, roughly chopped into small chunks
Preheat the oven to 180°C and put 12 muffin cases into your cake tins. Whisk up the soya milk with the vinegar and leave for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla and peppermint extract then whisk up until foamy. Sift in the dry ingredients, bit by bit, keeping the mixture light and airy. Fold in the chocolate chunks then spoon into the liners so that they are three-quarters full and bake for 18-20 mins until a toothpick inserted comes out dry. Transfer to a cooling rack. Ice with frosting made from vegan marg and icing sugar and cocoa… I used half green, half chocolate brown. There’s loads of videos on YouTube showing how to do this. I decorated them with dark chocolate shards I made by spreading chocolate thinly onto baking paper then gently rolling it up into a roll and chilling it in the fridge. When you unroll it, it will crack and break into shards.
Theme: Let’s get boozy! – Food involving booze, like beer brats, Welsh rarebit or a boozy dessert. Feel free to make a non-alcoholic version if you prefer.
Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy and Sicily. Traditionally, it is made from the zest of Sorrento lemons. To make it, you need to steep the lemon peel (without the pith), in grain alcohol until the oil is released. You then add sugar syrup. Most lemons will produce a reasonable limoncello and you can make it yourself with vodka.
I made these Limoncello Drizzle Cupcakes by adding limoncello to the lemon syrup for a boozy grown-up version of these sweet yummy cakes.
- 80ml rapeseed oil
- 150g sugar
- 60ml soya yoghurt
- 80ml soya milk
- 60ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1tbsp finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 150g plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 40g ground almonds
For the syrup and icing:
- Juice of one lemon
- 20 tsps Limoncello
- 1 large tbsp golden caster sugar
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
Whisk the oil, sugar, yoghurt and milk together in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla extract and whisk again briefly. Sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt then add in two batches to the wet mix. Stir in the grounds almonds. Divide into 12 muffin or 24 cupcake cases and bake at 180°C for 18-20 minutes.
While they are cooking prepare your syrup. Heat the juice of one lemon with the caster sugar until dissolved – don’t boil. Set aside and add the Limoncello when it’s cool. When the cakes are cooked, while they are still warm, poke each several times with a skewer then spoon on one or two dessert spoons of syrup. Set aside to cool. Make your icing by adding the icing sugar to what’s left of the syrup. You are looking for a soft but not too runny texture. Spoon the icing onto the cakes allowing a little to dribble over the edges. There you have it!