Because vegan pizza!!!

Today, Jacob and I tried a new cooking venture: assembling our own pizzas! We got pizza bases from Sainsbury’s and topped one with their veggie mince and green pepper, and the other with Fry’s chicken-style strips and mushrooms. Both also had passata, Violife cheese, onions and seasoning on them, and it was fairly straightforward assembling everything and cooking in the oven πŸ™‚

Obviously, you could put whatever combinations of toppings you want, but basic instructions are:

  1. Pre-cook any toppings which need it (meat substitutes, hard veg, leafy greens, mushrooms and onions)
  2. Layer the passata, toppings, Violife and seasonings onto the base
  3. Cook according to instructions on the pizza base packet
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A poor photo of yummy-looking pizzas straight from the oven, with salad as a side πŸ˜€
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One happy hubby! (and camerawoman)
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Cooking curry!

Today, I made the first curry I’ve ever cooked from scratch, and it was yummy! I recently received another vegan cookbook, “The New Vegan” by Áine Carlin and adapted her lentil and spinach curry recipe slightly:

Lentil and spinach curry with cucumber raita

Serves 3

FOR THE RAITA

  • 1/2 cucumber, de-seeded and chopped
  • 2tbsp coconut cream
  • 1/2 lime juice
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt

FOR THE CURRY

  • 1tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • salt n pepper
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3tsp worth of ginger
  • 1/2/ red chilli
  • 125g dried green lentils
  • 2tsp curry powder
  • 1/2tsp xylitol or other sweetener
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 1/2 stock cube
  • 150ml water
  • 1tbsp tomato purΓ©e
  • 150g spinach (or combine with kale)
  • 20g coriander, chopped
  • brown rice, to serve, cooked as per packet instructions
  1. Make the raita by mixing all the ingredients together and put in fridge until needed
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion, carrot and a bit of salt and pepper until they begin to soften
  3. Mince the garlic, ginger and chilli together and add to the pan. Cover and sweat for a couple of minutes
  4. Add the lentils and combine well, then sprinkle over the curry powder and xylitol. Cover for several mins
  5. Add the coconut milk, stock and water. Combine, cover and simmer gently for 1 hour until the lentils are cooked, stirring occasionally
  6. Add the tomato purΓ©e and boil for about 5 mins to reduce the sauce
  7. Add the spinach and stir into the sauce, making sure the leaves are wilted. Add the coriander and simmer for a couple more minutes
  8. Serve with the brown rice and raita πŸ™‚

Milk chocolate substitute

Hi folks! Now that my workload is under control again (done my essay!), I will be able to post more again πŸ™‚

Today I discovered the best milk chocolate substitute I have tried so far! I have never seen these bars in Sainsbury’s FreeFrom section before, so maybe they are new. They have choc orange, plain, and crispy varieties, and taste exactly the same as normal milk chocolate; no weird after-taste or anything! Give them a try:

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Nachos night!

Phew! I’ve been so busy over the last few days, what with uni work, Lidl work and general life work!

However… I did manage to have a nachos night with two friends on Thursday πŸ˜€

Obviously I knew I’d have to bring my own cheese (mozzarella-style Violife) and guacamole (the home-made one I posted a recipe for the other day), but the nacho chips and salsa were fine. The Violife took a little longer to melt than my friends’ cheese did, but the result was pretty awesome:

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Slurp!

My friends were curious about how the Violife tasted, so I gave them some to try. Perhaps because they are fans of strong cheese, they said it didn’t taste like cheese, and the texture was different, but was OK.

But that’s why Violife suits me perfectly, because I only like cheese for added texture and very mild flavour anyway πŸ™‚

I was so full by the end, but I kept eating cause I didn’t want to waste any! πŸ˜€

Garlic mushrooms on toast recipe

I improvised this just now and it turned out really nice! Just have a mint to hand afterwards…

Serves 2 (two slices each)

  • 4 slices wholemeal or seeded bread
  • Spread
  • 1 pack sliced mushrooms
  • 4 handfuls kale
  • 3 minced cloves of garlic
  • sprinkling of parsley for each slice
  1. Fry the garlic and mushrooms for a few mins, until cooked. Add the kale for the last couple of mins, whilst the bread is toasting
  2. Butter the toast with whatever spread you’re using, pile on the mushroom mixture and sprinkle parsley over the top

VoilΓ ! πŸ™‚

The best flippin’ burger ever!!!

Hiya folks, hope you’re having a great day πŸ™‚ Just so you all know, we have just put together and heartily scoffed the most delish burgers we’ve ever had.

They each consisted of:

You’re welcome πŸ˜‰ I am now going to have a lie down…

A very vegan Valentines

Yesterday was the first Valentine’s Day I have celebrated, and it was lovely!

For foodie and drinky treats, I got fairtrade vegan Moscato (already thoroughly enjoyed in this picture) and the Animal Aid chocolate gift box for Jacob, and he got me vodka and chocolate spread from Hotel Chocolat πŸ™‚ (You know chocolate spread is posh when it looks like a tub of moisturiser!)

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Guess where we went for a meal……….. πŸ˜€

We combined our favourite starter and main at The Green Rocket Cafe, and THIS TIME I HAVE PICTURES!!

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Courgette spaghetti and marinated tofu
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Sunday roast

Also, the day wouldn’t have been complete without a bath with a Lush bubble bar πŸ˜€

It was a great day to recharge before a week of essay writing, preparing presentations and working…

“But what do vegans eat?!”

I have previously mentioned that, for most meals, I just put a few ingredients together, rather than cooking from scratch every single time. So I thought I would post a couple of “put-together” meals we had this week…

Whoever asked “but what do vegans eat?!” πŸ˜€

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“Cheese” and “ham” pasties with sweet potato fries, salad and avocado
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“Cheeseburger” with salad, avocado and corn-on-the-cobs

I can pretty much guarantee that most non-vegans would not suspect these meals of being vegan, and they involve such popular foods! The meat and cheese substitutes taste so ‘real’ that I often suspect Linda McCartney, Holland & Barrett, and Violife of fraud! πŸ˜€

A few people we know have been puzzled as to why a lot of vegans enjoy eating substitutes which taste ‘real’. The very simple answer is this: most people go vegan because of morals and ethical reasons, not because they dislike the taste of meat! Personally, I was not the biggest meat- and dairy-eater anyway, but I did find it incredibly difficult giving up chicken and some mild cheese. Therefore, it is so comforting to know that there are these cruelty-free options available.

Mousse recipes!

Afternoon folks! I’m writing this after having an absolutely lovely lunch at The Green Rocket Cafe again, this time having courgette spaghetti and tofu, then vegetable curry with cucumber salad πŸ™‚ Jacob had the same starter, then their amazing Sunday roast. We also picked up some cakes to take home and have later this evening (we’re going round a friend’s house for his birthday, so there is cake around!)

Evidence of a meal so lovely I forgot to take a picture till it was all gone πŸ˜€ I WILL remember next time, promise:

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Anyway, my latest venture has been trying to make a tasty vegan chocolate mousse, and I have had a couple of attempts so far; one not so great, another much better.

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The first one I tried was inspired by a recipe which used avocado as the main ingredient, due to its creaminess. However, I found the result far too bitter (even though I added way more xylitol than the recipe suggested), and my mouth felt a bit itchy due to an “avo-dose”. However, Jacob thought it was delicious, and I’ll put my edited recipe here anyway, just in case you’d like to try it:

Serves 2

  • 1 large avocado
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 4tsp xylitol
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  1. PurΓ©e the avocado
  2. mix the milk and cocoa together, then add to the avocado
  3. Add the vanilla and xylitol
  4. Transfer into ramekins and chill in the fridge

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My second attempt was a heavily edited version of Nigella’s instant chocolate mousse, and went much better. Of course, I had to change the ingredients to be vegan, and altered the method a bit as well:

Serves 4+ people

  • 1 1/2 cups vegan marshmallows (from Holland & Barrett), in small pieces
  • 50g soft spread (e.g. Vitalite)
  • 250g dark chocolate, in small pieces
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  1. Melt water and spread in a saucepan over low heat
  2. Add the marshmallows
  3. Once a melted, smooth mixture, take off heat and add the chocolate gradually (put it back on a gentle heat if it doesn’t melt thoroughly; just make sure it doesn’t burn or boil)
  4. Whip the cream and vanilla until thick, then add to the chocolate mixture. Combine until you have a thick mousse
  5. Transfer to ramekins or a big bowl, and chill in the fridge. Decorate with more marshmallows, or whatever you want πŸ™‚

One last mention: these vegan millionaire’s shortbread slices from Sainsbury’s taste just like the real thing! I might have one with the mousse later πŸ˜‰

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Well into week two!

Ciao peeps! Again, sorry for the absence over the past few days; I was ill, and then Jacob got the same thing and we’ve been focusing on getting better. Anyway, I feel like my brain in functioning well enough to write again now, so I’ll give a brief (?) overview of the past week πŸ™‚

I was struggling with appetite for a couple of days, so wasn’t able to eat much of whatever we made, so it was a relief on Sunday when it sort-of came back in time for my friend’s birthday meal! This was at Cafe 84, a local place down the road which was where I ate my last deliberate non-vegetarian meal (and my last accidental non-vegetarian one too, when the waitress made a mistake and served us chicken soup!). We ordered cheeseless pizza with extra vegetables, which were OK but the sauce could have been more tomatoey (oh well, they had 10 or so orders to deal with, so I forgive them).

On Monday, I went to Holland & Barrett in search of a couple of gammon and cheese flavoured quiches that we’ve tried before and are delish, but they were sold out :/ Instead, I got ham and cheese flavoured pasties which turned out to be equally as good. We had these with just some salad, as I had procured some cakes from The Green Rocket Cafe as a treat for the next couple of days. Their orange and pistachio flavour was incredible and tasted like carrot cake, but even better!!! (High praise indeed, coming from me)

Yesterday, I made sausage pasta for a quick lunch (wholewheat pasta, Linda McCartney sausages, Lloyd Grossman tomato and roasted garlic sauce, bit of water, mixed herbs, black pepper, peas), as we were intending to go out for a vegan curry evening later on. However, Jacob was feeling too chesty to venture out into the cold, so we stayed in and ordered the Two-for-Tuesday deal from Papa Johns πŸ˜€ Ironically, their tomato sauce was great, but there weren’t enough vegetables.

I’m popping home for a couple of days now, but when I come back, my next kitchen adventure will be chocolate mousse! I’m finding that, whenever I fancy a non-vegan food, instead of being tempted to eat it, I start researching vegan recipes like:

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I should confess that one of the things we did to distract ourselves from feeling grotty was see Star Wars at the cinema. For the 5th time.

I feel like this is a lot more exciting than heading for the nearest ready-made tub of something, though πŸ™‚ It gives you a sense of achievement, and helps you decide whether you really want something, or if you’re just being lazy. Last night, for example, I was really sad that I couldn’t have the garlic dip which came with my pizza, so I tried dipping my crusts in some humous instead – it was yummy πŸ˜€

So, in summary: the sense of challenge has increased, but so has my determination!