Chickpea flour scramble

1 Mar
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Chickpea flour scramble with tomatoes, on noochy toast.

 

You would never guess that the stuff that makes Indian pakoras so cripsy and holds together felafel would also make a creamy and satisfying scrambled egg substitute. The secret is to let the batter sit for a few hours. Not only does that sort out any lumps, but the flour particles soak up the water giving it a smoother consistency and texture. In my pre-vegan days I used to like my scrambled eggs quite soft, preferably with some tasty veggies added. I think this recipe is very reminiscent of that, but without being heavy or greasy and, more importantly, without any animal involvement.

 

Recipe (serves 1)

  • Quarter of a cup (60ml) of chickpea (gram) flour
  • 100ml of cold water
  • 1ts oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: a bit of anything else you fancy, e.g. a chopped tomato, some courgette, or a couple of blocks of thawed frozen spinach.
  • Tea and toast, to serve.

Mix the chickpea flour and water together. Leave for at least two hours, preferably overnight. Don’t worry about any lumps, they will disappear on their own. The batter will probably end up quite thick, particularly at the bottom. Give it a quick stir before continuing.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat. If using something that needs to be cooked, e.g. tomato or courgette, fry this quickly first. Otherwise, mix whatever veg you’re adding into the batter.

Pour the batter into the frying pan. As it sets underneath and around the edges, turn with a spatula, as you would making scrambled eggs. Continue until it reaches the desired consistency, this will only take a couple of minutes at the most. Serve on toast with a nice cup of tea.

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Roasted broccoli tofu quiche

15 Feb

 

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Poor old quiche doesn’t have the best reputation, people either think that (a) it’s a bit fiddly to make, or that (b) it belongs in the seventies along with vol-au-vents and cheese and pineapple on sticks. If either of these applies to you then please cast aside your doubts and give it a go! Vegan quiche is gorgeous, it’s a good balance of healthy (tofu and veggies!) and naughty (pastry!), and it works both hot or cold. Also, it’s not difficult or time-consuming to make at all. The most active part of the recipe is making the pastry, which takes, what… three minutes? You can do that, right?!

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Roasting the broccoli in this recipe was a last-minute brainwave. I was planning to microwave it, then I read an inspiring article written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz where she said roasting makes everything taste delicious (you can read the full article here for this and five other pearls of wisdom). I’m so glad I did, roasting the broccoli deepens the flavour and contributes to the slight cheesiness. Ground almonds add a little extra firmness to the filling, and increase the cheesy quality of the flavour profile.

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Recipe (serves 4)

For the pastry:

  • 50g margarine (check it is suitable for pastry)
  • 100g flour (white or wholemeal, this time I used half wholemeal spelt and half plain flour)
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 200g broccoli, chopped into small bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tb vegetable oil
  • A 396g block of firm tofu, drained but not pressed
  • Quarter of a cup (or 4 tb) nutritional yeast flakes
  • Quarter of a cup ground almonds
  • One clove of garlic, mashed to a fine paste
  • 1 ts salt
  • Plenty of black pepper

For the pastry, rub the margarine into the flour and salt. Continue mixing with your hands, adding some cold water a splash at a time until it comes together in a ball. Put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.

Lightly grease a 20cm / 8 inch quiche dish. Roll out the pastry and use it to line the dish. Trim the edges but not too much, be aware that the pastry will shrink a little bit when you cook it. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, then blind bake it for 15 minutes at 200˚C. You want the pastry to be starting to go dry and golden, but not brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Put the chopped broccoli in a small roasting tin with the oil and roast for about 15 minutes, until softened and starting to brown round the edges. Crumble the tofu into a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, and mix well with a fork.

When the broccoli is cooked, remove it from the oven. Chop about half of it even more finely, then add all of the broccoli to the tofu mixture. Carefully tip this into the pastry case, pressing it into the corners and smoothing out the top. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes, until it is heated through and golden brown on top. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, it will be much easier to get out of the dish. Serve hot or cold.

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GIVEAWAY – Vegfest UK Brighton tickets

18 Jan

VegfestBrighton

Update: this giveaway has now ended, and the lucky winner is Nic F – congratulations! – 22nd February 2015

Anyone who read my post from September 2014 about Vegfest UK London will know how much I love their events, so I’m thrilled to announce that I’m giving away two free tickets to Vegfest UK Brighton, on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th March 2015. I’ll be going myself of course, and I’m particularly looking forward trying and buying new vegan products and watching some stand up comedy. Do you want to watch a cookery demonstration and eat some delicious vegan food? Would you like to learn more about nutrition, politics, or how to support wildlife and the environment? Maybe you’re interested in meeting other like-minded people. Whether you’re just thinking about making the transition to vegetarianism, or a long-term vegan, this is the event for you!

I have two weekend tickets for Vegfest Brighton UK to give away to one lucky winner. The festival is on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th March 2015, at the Brighton Centre, BN1 2GR, UK. Travel and accommodation are not included. Entries close on Sunday 22nd February 2015 at 12am. Please do not enter this giveaway if you’re one of my family, friends, or colleagues – sorry! For more information on Vegfest UK Brighton please see brighton.vegfest.co.uk.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS OF HOW TO ENTER
(it takes less than a minute to enter; external site, powered by Rafflecopter)

Watercress soup – healthy, sexy, green

11 Jan

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This soup is a bit of a treat, as it takes one whole bag of watercress to make just one bowl. It tastes fresh and peppery and is full of vitamins and minerals, so it will make you feel incredible. I’m not exaggerating, it’s been over an hour since I ate the bowl of soup in the photo above and I’m still on a bit of a high. Either make it as an indulgent lunch for one, or serve it in little teacups as a starter for someone you’re trying to woo.

Notes:

  • The same quantities and method work for other green soups. Just replace the watercress with spinach or kale for a more everyday soup.
  • A small onion/potato/carrot is one you can fit in the palm of your hand and close your fist around.
  • Don’t bother peeling the potato and carrot unless they’re really muddy or have been nibbled by bugs. Just give them a good scrub.

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Recipe (serves one as a meal, or two as a starter):

  • One teaspoon oil
  • One small onion, diced into roughly 1cm cubes
  • One small potato, diced into roughly 1cm cubes
  • One small carrot, diced into roughly 1cm cubes
  • One clove of garlic, smashed, peeled, then roughly chopped
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 75g fresh watercress
  • Salt and pepper to taste (you shouldn’t need very much of either)

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over a low-medium heat. Add the onion, potato, carrot, and garlic. Cover and leave to sweat for 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. A little bit of colour is fine, but you don’t really want the veggies to brown.

Add the stock and simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes. Add the watercress a handful at a time until it has all wilted into the broth – this should only take a minute or two. Blend, check for seasoning, and serve.

Doners, quiche, VegFest, focaccia – a 2014 review

1 Jan

Most-read post – By quite a long way, it was the seitain doner kebab meat that I wrote back in May. I’m a tiny bit embarrassed that my most popular recipe is also one of the unhealthiest, but I’m also so proud that something we put so much thought in to came out exactly how we wanted. I hope that people who search for vegan junk food recipes find what they’re looking for on my site, but are inspired by the healthier articles.

My favourite recipe – The recipe I posted on my one-year bloggiversary in April, it’s vegan quiche with spinach, leeks, and pine nuts. Quiche was a bit of an obsession of mine in my pre-vegan days, so I was really pleased to come up with a recipe that was both delicious and satisfying, without an animal product in sight.

My favourite non-foodie article – It’s a difficult choice, but I’d have to go with the post about VegFest London from September, simply because I had so much fun “researching” it. I wrote the post as soon as I got home from VegFest. I didn’t over-think what I was going to say, so I my enthusiasm and excitement about the event are genuine.

My top foodie discovery of 2014 – the stuffed focaccia we ate on holiday in Italy, which had roasted courgettes, aubergines, and peppers baked right into it. Just a few weeks later I went on a bread-making course and learned how to make focaccia, and I’m now getting the hang of doing it at home. Watch this space, the recipe may well appear on this blog in the near future.

Still to come in 2015 – an easy, adaptable pesto recipe; vegan parkin; and my adventures with home-made tempeh.

10 not-so-stupid questions about veganism

23 Nov

One of the things vegans have to get used to is being asked an awful lot of questions. While all vegetarians and vegans have at least one story about an offensive or ill-informed conversation with an omnivore, I find that most people are genuinely interested and just want to know about the practicalities of what they see as an extreme or unusual lifestyle choice. The best advice I can give to new vegans is to be prepared for the sorts of questions that come up, and to answer questions calmly and honestly. Here are my responses to some of the questions I’ve been asked over the last few months.

  1. Is it difficult?

Logistically? I wouldn’t say it was difficult, but I do have to always plan ahead. If I’m going on a long journey I tend to research where I might be able to eat on the way. If I’m going to see friends for the weekend I take some almond milk and veggie sausages so I know I can have a cup of tea and some breakfast without causing them any problems. Wherever I go I always have healthy snacks in my bag. Are any of those things a problem? Of course not. I’ve always been obsessed with food anyway, so this isn’t much different from before. Even if it were an effort it would be a small price to pay, the benefits of being vegan outweigh the work that goes into it.

  1. Are there any foods that you miss?

When I first turned vegan I dreamed about oozy cheese every night, but got over it really quickly. I still miss eggs sometimes though, there are times that I get a real hankering for a boiled egg with soldiers, but I know I will get over it. When I first turned vegetarian at the age of 12, whenever I smelled bacon cooking I’d get a real longing for it, but after a few months the craving disappeared to the point that when I smell it cooking now it doesn’t even register as food.

  1. Are you ever tempted to say “oh sod it” and just have some cake?

Honestly? Not in the slightest. My reasons for being vegan are stronger than my desire to eat something animal products. When I do crave an egg, for instance, I just ask myself what happens to the chickens when they’ve stopped being useful, and that’s enough to kill the craving.

  1. But you can’t eat cake!

I don’t know if it’s because I hang around with particularly cake-obsessed individuals, but this is by far the most common thing people say when they find out I’m vegan. I can’t buy cake from a shop, and if someone brings cake to work I have to turn it down, but don’t worry because I can definitely eat cake. My favourite method of vegan advocacy is to bring them some delicious cake and surprise them afterwards by telling them it was vegan.

  1. I’ve been reading all about vegans on the internet, and I’ll let you do it as long as you promise me you’re getting enough vitamin B12.

Thanks Mum! I’m 32, I’ve got an important job, I’m married, but I’m still my Mum’s baby and she will never stop worrying about me. B12 is a vitamin we normally get from animal sources, but it’s actually made by bacteria rather than the animals themselves, so it is possible to get vegan sources of it. Loads of things are fortified with it, like breakfast cereals, non-dairy milks and yogurts, marmite, and nooch.

  1. Is your partner vegan?

He’s vegetarian but not vegan. Mr Veg is a very ethically-minded person, I know and trust that he doesn’t make any decision lightly, so while I don’t agree with his reasons for eating eggs and dairy, I do respect his choice. Does it cause any problems? All of the meals we make together at home will be vegan, if that bothered him he would be welcome to make himself something different, but it doesn’t. The only issue, and it’s really trivial, is that he feels uncomfortable eating certain things when I’m there, he thinks it bothers me an awful lot more than it does.

  1. How do you cope going on holiday?

This is really two questions in one. Firstly, in terms of accommodation then either self-catering or a vegetarian bed and breakfast will be easiest, but most hotels will have a breakfast buffet with at least some vegan choice (e.g. beans on toast or some fruit) so it’s not really an issue. Secondly, they might be asking about eating out. My answer to this is that I’ve learned what sort of places I can get easily a vegan meal in, and how not to be shy to ask questions or ask for tweaks to things on the menu. I sometimes get funny looks asking for things without the cheese, but when it’s a choice between getting a funny look and going hungry, I’d much rather put up with being the weird customer who wanted the goats’ cheese salad without the goats’ cheese.

  1. Do you find you have enough energy?

This surprises some people, but I actually feel physically a lot better now than before I was vegan. I have more energy, my acne is a lot better, my hair is less greasy, my nails are stronger, and I suffer a lot less with bloating. I transitioned to veganism gradually, and for a few months I was vegan in the week and just vegetarian at the weekends, until I realised that every Monday and Tuesday I felt bloated and grumpy. That was enough to give me the final push!

  1. Do you want some cake or are you still doing that vegan thing?

I have to admit, this does wind me up a bit. It’s not the offer of cake, they’re just being polite after all. What really does bother me is that people assume it’s a phase or a fad diet, or that I’m vegan most of the time unless it’s someone’s birthday. I’m not on the 5:2 diet or WeightWatchers, I made a permanent lifestyle change due to an ethical choice. Thank you very much for the offer but, in the same way a vegetarian would turn down a bacon butty, I’ll politely decline.

  1. You’ve lost weight, is it your [whispers like there’s something shameful about it] vegan diet?

I did lose a few pounds when I turned vegan, it’s quite common but not guaranteed. I was at the upper limit of a healthy weight for my height before, and now I’m comfortably below that line but definitely nowhere near underweight. I had to work very hard with this particular person to demonstrate that my diet is vibrant and healthy and varied and definitely not something to be worried about, and I think I won her round.

I’d be really interested to know what questions others have been asked, or what answers you’ve given to some of the questions above. Please leave your comments below.

In my veg box this week – celeriac, fennel, swede

19 Nov

I’ve chosen the three most weird and wonderful items to talk about this week. I imagine all three of them will divide opinion, some people love strong flavours, some find them freaky. I love a bit of variety, so I’m thrilled to see all three of them.

Celeriac
It’s almost impossible to describe celeriac without sounding nuts. The best I can come up with is a turnip infused with celery, but that still doesn’t quite cut it. There’s no way to know whether you’d like it or not without trying it, so give it a go! I’d highly recommend making a celeriac and potato gratin. Peel and very finely slice some celeriac and potato, then par-boil them for just a couple of minutes. Drain and return to the pan with some finely chopped garlic and plenty of salt and pepper and toss it all up to mix. Tip the whole lot into a greased casserole dish and drizzle over plenty of non-dairy cream. Bake at 200˚C for 30-40 minutes until bubbly and brown on top.

Fennel
Another one that’s difficult to describe. I suppose I’d say that the texture is similar to chunky white cabbage but with a little more crunch, and the flavour is unmistakeably aniseed, but much fresher and zingier. You can eat it raw, sliced finely and tossed with herby vinaigrette. It also roasts and steams really well, or cook it in a stew with tinned tomatoes and tonnes of garlic.

Swede
I hated swede for such a long time when I was younger, I can’t even remember why now because over the years I’ve had a complete about-turn. It’s perfect paired with carrots, the sweetness of the carrots counterbalances the bitterness of the swede, and they bring out the best in each other’s flavours. Mashed together they make a perfect bed for some veggie sausages and a bit of onion gravy… Yum!

Also received this week: tomatoes, kale, cauliflower, potatoes, mushrooms, apples, oranges, plums, bananas.

“In my veg box this week…” is not intended as a product review, simply a description of some of the fruit and vegetables that are in season and what I like to do with them. I pay full price for my vegetable box and have no affiliation with the company that delivers them or any of their suppliers.

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