Tag Archives: blogging

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.

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Mrs Veg is back

15 Jul

I’m finally back after my annual hiatus! I work as an administrator at a university and around exam time I’m so drained that I can’t quite articulate myself as well as normal, and I have to have a little break from blogging. I’ve not been sitting at home doing nothing though, I’ve been doing all of the usual Mrs Veg things (growing, cooking, and eating vegetables). Here are some of the things I’ve been up to over the last couple of months:

Our gardening so far this summer has been a bit hit and miss. The pigeons damaged our garlic and broad beans which was really frustrating, but I’ve replaced both with courgette plants which have now started producing. Courgettes are one of the things that are definitely worth trying at home – they’re easy to grow and they taste about a million times better than anything you can buy in the shop. Our strawberry plants are taking a while to get established, but we got our best ever crop this year – about seven of the little beauties in total. As with courgettes you just can’t beat home-grown ones.

In June I went to a vegan food event at my local yoga centre. I could tell that most of the people I told about it were a bit baffled by the idea (after all, vegans just eat plain tofu, brown rice, and kale don’t they? What else is there to know?) It was really interesting and I had such a lovely time. We had a really helpful talk on nutrition, which might have been a bit too scientific for some but as I’m a bit of a geek I found it fascinating. After the talk we had a beautiful meal including ful medame (made of fava beans – my new favourite), a vibrant green tabbouleh, courgette rolls, and a few different salads and dressings. The other people there ranged from veg-curious all the way to long-term vegans. I really enjoyed sharing a meal with new people who I had a common interest with, and the the nutritional information that I learned is really sticking with me and guiding my food choices.

2014-06-22 15.37.06

One of the people I met at the yoga centre seemed to be as interested in experimenting with food as I am, and told me about his adventures making his own tempeh. I had eaten and enjoyed tempeh a couple of times before but it never occurred to me that I might be able to make it at home. I bought some tempeh starter and some whole, dried soya beans and tried it myself. Mr Veg helped me make a makeshift incubator using a wire cooling rack set over a terrarium heat mat (pictured above). It was very extremely time-consuming but totally worth it. If you ignore the labour costs of the hours I spent sat in front of the tv dehulling the beans, it works out much more cost-effective than the tempeh you can buy in the shops, and it’s tastier too. I will definitely make it again, but with hulled beans next time. I will take pictures when I do and I will write more about it.

Last week I went to the V Delicious show at Olympia in London. I’ve never been to a vegetarian food exhibition before and I’m so glad I did because I had a whale of a time trying (and buying) different veggie foods. As soon as I decided to go I developed a really strong craving for jelly sweets, which I’ve not eaten for a long time because of the gelatin. When I found the Goody Good Stuff stall I was thrilled, and as embarrassing as this is to admit, when I tried a cola bottle sweet I actually felt a bit emotional, and of course had to buy several bags of them.

Another thing I was particularly interested in trying at the show was vegan cheese. As a former cheese fiend I find the idea of pretend cheese more than a little bit horrifying, but at the same time I’ve been curious to find out what it’s actually like. I tried several of the cheeses made by Vegusto, the texture was a bit too soft and homogeneous, but a couple of them tasted kind of nice. It was interesting to try but I don’t think I’d ever buy it, I’d rather replace dairy with more naturally creamy foods like avocado, tahini, hummus, or cashew cream.

Amongst other things I bought an awful lot of snacks (mostly Nakd bars, which are my absolute favourite), a couple of good books, kombucha (which I’m now thinking about making at home), aloe vera juice, delicious veggie sushi, Round Ups vegan wagon-wheel-style biscuits), tea, crackers, and some habas fritas. It was a great day out and I’d definitely go back or to a similar event again in the future.

Now the hungry gap is well and truly over my vegetable box deliveries are finally interesting again, and the “In my veg box this week…” series will resume this week.

I’m really looking forward to getting back into writing again, and to catching up with people. I’ve got a few recipes and other things to write about and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Vegan quiche with spinach, leeks and pine nuts

6 Apr

WordPress has just reminded me that today is my blog’s first anniversary. I started the blog one Saturday afternoon, when I decided that the pea pesto recipe I’d invented a couple of days before was so good that it deserved sharing with the world. Armed with a name I plucked out of nowhere, and a slightly blurry photo of some basil, I got started. I only really expected a couple of people to look at it, that maybe I’d put one or two more recipes online, and that basically it wouldn’t really go anywhere. Over the next few weeks I did post a few more times, and I read a lot of other people’s blogs, and I got hooked. One year later, with 38 posts, 149 comments, 123 WordPress followers, I feel like I’ve become part of a community. I’ve made contact with people all over the world, stayed up late because I was having an interesting conversation with strangers on Twitter, and annoyed my husband on many an occasion by spending ages taking photos of our dinner. Other bloggers and Twitter-folk have given me the inspiration and support to go from sort-of-cutting-back-on-dairy to 99% vegan (I’m almost there), and I’m grateful to each and every one of you for that. To thank you, I’m sharing a new recipe, my first ever attempt at a vegan quiche.

Quiche is one of my favourite things to make. It does require a fair bit of multitasking, but it’s really versatile and over the years I’ve come up several different combinations, usually involving a vegetable and a cheese. Making something eggy and cheesy without eggs or cheese sounds impossible, but as firm tofu can act as a good sub for both vegan quiche is actually easier to make than the real thing. It’s not strongly cheesy – think ricotta rather than feta – but I am certain that I could feed this to omnivores and they wouldn’t realise it was vegan.

Recipe notes:

  • The filling from this recipe would also work well wrapped in puff pastry, à la my non-vegan spanokopitta sausage rolls.
  • I use frozen for spinach-heavy recipes like this. It’s better value for money by a long long way, you’d need a sack full of fresh spinach leaves to get the same amount, plus you’d still have to wash and cook it. Unless you’re growing your own and have a glut of it, just buy whole leaf frozen spinach.
  • If there is any filling left, you could use it to stuff a couple of tomatoes and bake them at the same time as the quiche.

Recipe (serves 4)

For the pastry:

  • 50g margarine (check it is suitable for pastry)
  • 100g flour (white or wholemeal, I use a mix of both)
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 1 ts margarine or oil
  • 1 leek, white and green parts, sliced into thin half-moons, thoroughly washed
  • 50ml your preferred non-dairy milk
  • 400g frozen whole leaf spinach, thawed
  • 50g pine nuts, toasted then very roughly chopped
  • A 396g block of firm tofu, drained but not pressed
  • ¼ ts grated nutmeg
  • Plenty of ground black pepper
  • 1 ts salt
  • 1 ts cider vinegar
  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 2 tb nutritional yeast flakes

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 10 minutes at 200˚C. You want the pastry to be starting to go dry and golden, but not brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a small saucepan over a medium heat, melt the margarine or heat the oil, then add the leek and fry for two minutes until it starts to cook down. Add the milk and cook for a further five or so minutes, until the leeks have completely cooked down and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Tip the spinach into a sieve or a muslin-lined bowl. Squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as you can.

Crumble the tofu into a large bowl with your hands. You could use a fork or masher, but doing it by hand is much more efficient.

Add the nutmeg, pepper, salt, vinegar, oil, and nooch to the tofu and mix well. You could continue mixing it by hand, but it’s less messy from now on to use a spoon or spatula. Add the cooked leeks, pine nuts, and drained spinach, and mix until well combined. Tip the filling into the blind-baked pastry, and return it to the oven for around half an hour, until the top is firm and golden. 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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