Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Cupcakeamundo

So I guess my no bake is officially history! My workmates requested these on Friday when I told them about the cupcakes I was making for mum. Good excuse to practise my piping skillz again though!

Both recipes from VCTotW: Carrot cake CCs with lemon cream cheese frosting:
Basic chocolate CCs, with peanut butter frosting:

All packed up ready to go to work with me this morning:
It’s my birthday next week, so after I’ve made my birthday cake I’m going on a baking hiatus. Odds as to how long it’ll last??

Cooking to: Nickelback – All the Right Reasons

Easy Peasy Chinese-y and Chilli Vanilli!

OK I couldn't think of anything that rhymed with chilli except willy - and that's just childish!

It was bank holiday weekend again – I love May! Saturday night we had a meal out in a Chinese restaurant for Mum's birthday. Everyone had a set menu and they did a veggie option for me, which I gotta say for such an expensive restaurant, really wasn’t that imaginative. The starter platter was awesome, but the rest all they basically did was replace the meat with shredded up veggies! That goes for the starter of shredded up veggies with some spicy sauce on and the duck course they gave me shredded up veggies to go in the pancake rolls. My local Chinese restaurant is a lot more inventive!

Even the main course was nothing to write home about; a rather flavourless aubergine dish, some rather flavourless looking beansprout dish (I didn’t bother with this) and some rice, which they brought with egg in it and I had to send back). The green bean dish was awesome though, as was the pink champagne!

Anyway yesterday (Monday) I was in the mood for Chinese food, again, for some reason. So I thought it was about time I used up the rice papers and can of mock duck sitting in my cupboard.

I used the Granose brand, which you can get in Holland & Barrett. Straight out of the can, this stuff is fucking terrible! But drain it off and bake it at 180°C for 20 minutes (or until crispy) and it’s a lot better! The pancakes are the Blue Dragon brand and they are not like the ones you get in Chinese restaurants, they are solid until you soak them in water, then they go sticky and a bit weird, but once they’re rolled up with the mock duck, cucumber and hoisin sauce they are pretty good!

To go with it I made satay tofu (recipe below) and some brown rice. Technically the tofu should have been skewered, but I didn’t have any skewers so I just lined it up in a row.

Here’s the pancakes, ready to roll!



Satay tofu! Mmmmm!

Ingredients for the Tofu:
1 block of firm Tofu, drained & pressed (I use Caldron Original)
1 tbsp soy sauce
60ml / ¼ cup water
2 tbsp cornflour (seasoned lightly with salt & pepper)

Ingredients for the satay sauce:
6 tbsp ish (about 1/3 cup) chunky peanut butter
1 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
Juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp soy sauce
¼ - ½ tsp chilli sauce (optional, use enough to make it as spicy as you want)
120ml / ½ cup water

Method:
I prefer to use tofu that has been frozen and defrosted before pressing, as it gives a firmer texture. Press the tofu for a good hour between 2 boards and a few sheets of kitchen paper, weighted down with a couple of cans or jars. Half way through, flip it and replace the paper.

Cut the tofu into bite sized cubes and put into a bowl. Mix together the soy sauce and the water and pour over the tofu. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes or so.

Remove from the marinade and pat dry. Put the cornflour into a food bag and toss in the tofu. Shake it all about to get it coated. Spray a roasting dish with some light oil (I use sunflower), then bake at 180°C/350°F (that’s about Gas 4) for around 20 minutes, turning once.

For the sauce, put everything except the water into a small saucepan and stir over a low heat. Slowly add the water, mixing as you go to incorporate it. Heat through until warm and check seasoning before serving. I found this didn’t need any extra seasoning – the soy sauce and chilli sauce did the job fine!

To serve, pour the sauce over the tofu (I served the rest in a small dish on the side for dipping).

Cooking to: Weezer - Pinkerton


Sunday:I love having a whole day to take my time and cook something awesome. On Sunday, I really fancied chilli and cornbread, so that is what I made. I made it up as I went along but in VWAV, there is a chilli recipe which includes cocoa powder. Sounds nuts but tastes amazing. I added some molasses too. The cornbread is my favourite cornbread recipe I’ve tried so far (from La Dolce Vegan). I halved the sugar content in it though, as I think it tastes wrong with savoury food if it’s too sweet.

These are the bowls my mum gave me a few years ago. There is a big serving bowl that goes with them too, I love them!!

The cornbread:


Cooking to: Def Leppard – Songs from the Sparkle Lounge

Cupcake post to follow....

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Posh & Cakes.....

.... hey it almost rhymes!

My Mum's birthday was on Wednesday and we all went out for dinner last night. She's been reading about how Posh gets cupcakes delivered once a week and not one to be outdone by that skinny bimbo, requested birthday cupcakes instead of one big cake!

So I busted out VCTotW and picked the rosewater pistacho cupcakes, which I frosted with buttercream flavoured with rosewater rather than vanilla. The others were the gingerbread cupcakes that I frosted with lemon icing and some little flowers that I cut out of fondant icing I'd tinted purple.

I am actually impressed with my piping for once, normally my piping looks like something a 10 year old did.

So here they are all decorated.


All boxed up and ready to go:


Cooking to: Maroon 5 - It Won't Be Soon Before Long

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Keen-WAHHHHHH! & Dayglo Cheesecake

Tonight I remembered to make notes, so I have recipes!!

Firstly tonight's dinner: Mushroom Quinoa Pilaf. This was awesome and made me glad that I ran out of basmati and had some quinoa to use up. I love quinoa anyway but I was getting a bit bored of just eating it cold in salads - this way is much better. Although having said that, the cold leftovers will be tomorrow's lunch!



Ingredients:
4 sun dried tomatoes (the plain ones, not the ones packed in oil)
2 tbsp or so of dried wild mushrooms (any you like - mine are mixed wild mushrooms)
A small onion, diced (around 100g)
1/2 pack of mushrooms (any you like, I used organic closed cup mushrooms - about 125g)
1 tsp coconut oil
Boiling water (measurements given in method)
1 Vegetable stock cube
175g (1 cup) quinoa
1 tsp each of fresh rosemary and thyme
1 tsp paprika (optional)
A splash (tsp or so) veg*n worcestershire sauce
125g (1 cup) frozen peas
salt & pepper to taste

Method:

Put the dried mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes together in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave to soak.

Chop the onion and mushrooms and saute in the coconut oil, over medium heat, for around 3-5 minutes.


Strain the liquid from the mushrooms/S-D Toms through a sieve lined with kitchen towel (to catch any grit). Make the liquid up to a pint / 2 cups with water from a recently boiled kettle. Add the stock cube and mix well.

Add the quinoa to the pan and stir well for about a minute. Add the stock, herbs, paprika and worcester sauce. Stir well and turn the heat up till the liquid comes to the boil. Chop the sun dried tomatoes and dried mushrooms and add to the pan, stir well.

Once boiling, turn the heat down a bit but it still needs to be bubbling. Cook for about 15 minutes until the quinoa is cooked (when the germ separates). Add the peas after about 10 minutes, they don't need to be in there for the full cooking time.

You may need to add more water if it evaporates before the germ separates - I added about another half a cup in total. Once cooked and almost all the water is evaporated, switch off the heat and cover with a lid or foil. Leave for 5 minutes, then check seasoning and serve.

I served mine with some slices of aubergine that I just sprayed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and baked in a 190°C oven for 30 minutes.

Cooking to: Bowling for Soup - The Great Burrito Extortion Case


Next was pudding. I saw this chick make a white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake on market kitchen yesterday and it looked good. However, I didn't have any vegan white chocolate. Or strawberries. Or digestive biscuits. So instead I came up with blueberry and chocolate cheesecake with a pink wafer base! I had to improvise - they were the only biccies I had in, hence the dayglo pink base!

Actually it was surprisingly tasty and it made two so I have one left for tomorrow. Yay. So easy a giant penguin could knock these up - that'd be weird though!


Ingredients:
100g biscuits of your choice (I used pink wafers - 8 of them)
1 tbsp vegan margarine
1/2 a pack (349g pack) firm silken tofu (I used Blue Dragon)
1/3 cup tofutti plain cream cheese
2 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp orange extract
good handful (about 1/2 cup) blueberries, plus extra for the tops
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

Method:
Put the biscuits in a plastic bag and smash fook out of them with a rolling pin. Alternatively, put them in the processor and grind them up.

Melt the margarine over a low heat. Once melted, add the biscuit crumbs and stir well. Pack the mixture into the bottom of 2 small glasses and pack it down with the end of the rolling pin. Put them in the fridge to firm up while you make the filling.

Whizz the tofu up in a blender. If like me you use a hand immersion blender, do it in a beaker / tall glass, or you'll have tofu all over yourself and your kitchen!! Once smoothe, scrape into a bowl with the tofutti and mix well. You could use an electric beater to get it really smoothe, but I just used a small magi-whisk and some elbow grease!

Then add the sugar and orange extract and stir well. Add the blueberries and chocolate chips, mix well and divvie it up between the two glasses.

Throw a few more blueberries on top (or some chocolate shavings, or both!) and let it set in the fridge for an hour or so. After an hour it should have firmed up a bit but will still be softer than regular cheesecake. At this point it is ready to shovel down your gullet, as my dad would so eloquently say.

Cooking to: Del Amitri - Some Other Sucker's Parade

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

I'm off the wagon and I'm hitchin' a ride!!

I fell off the wagon - I baked! Last night I just felt the need to make brownies and more than that - I felt the need to make brownies and frost them with super sickly butter cream. So that's just what I did.

The brownie recipe is from Vegweb (with some semi sweet chocolate chips pressed into them before baking) and the frosting is the fluffy vanilla buttercream from VCTotW (half a batch was a perfect amount).

Here they are straight from the oven:

All packed up in a box to take to work (to stop me eating the whole freaking batch!) My workmates polished off the whole box - luckily for me, there was one that just wouldn't fit in - so I had to eat that tonight! Money Shot!

Oh and a bonus shot - pizza. This was Sunday's dinner. I dreamt of pizza for pretty much the whole hour and a half it took me to drive home from my friend's house in Banbury. Sad or what?

The only flour I had was wholemeal spelt flour so I used that in my usual yeast-free crust recipe and it was pretty chuffin ace - I would definitely use it again! I topped it with homemade pesto, homemade salsa, mushrooms, fresh tomato, sweetcorn, seitan sausages, spring onions and Sheese smoked cheddar. It rocked.



Cooking the brownies to: Incubus - S.C.I.E.N.C.E



Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Seitan Worship

I had a the rest of the seitan sausage patties left, that I made for the Fegg McMuffins, to use up. So Monday I went for something similar to the spicy cutlet parmesan recipe on the Everyday Dish, but I left out the breadcrumbs and kind of made up the sauce as I went along. It was seriously tasty and so was the baked sweet potato I served it with!

Then yesterday I made Seitan au poivre. I may have stolen this idea from Hezbollah Tofu. In fact I think that is a certainty - except that again, I made the sauce up as I went along and I must admit - I over-salted it. Next time I will know to season at the end!!

Today I was trying to go healthier so I made baked tofu with steamed veggies and brown rice, which I dressed with a balsamic dressing to give it some flavour. It was a lovely dinner.

This pic is from the weekend, I had a lemongrass stalk to use up so I made a thai green curry. I left the seeds in the chilli cuz I thought it wouldn't be that hot. Oh I was wrong. It was freakin ace though.

And this is my excuse for baking - it was healthy!! Banaa bread: No oil, brown flour, lots of fruit, seeds and hardly any sugar. It wasn't quite cooked after the time I gave it so I meant to give it another 10 minutes but I forgot to set the timer. But astonishingly, it was perfect when I finally remembered to take it out. Really moist and delicious. I'm not 100% happy with it, hence no recipe here yet. But next time I'm gonna get it right!
Oh this is was a quickie soup that I knocked up Monday night to take to work for lunch on Tuesday. It took about 10 minutes and was so easy! It was just hot water, tomato puree, chickpeas, soy sauce, basmati rice and some fresh parsley. (oh and salt & pepper). boil it all together for 10 minutes, then lid on and leave it until you're ready to reheat and eat.


Cooking to: Mostly I have been cooking to Def Leppard's new album - Songs from the Sparkle Lounge

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Weekend cookery

So I'm still trying to be healthy. I've joined the gym and when my friend came over for dinner and shite horror flicks on friday, this is the food I cooked up:

Extreme close up woooooaaaaahhhh!

Yoghurt / cucumber dip. I was going for Tzatziki (sp?) but I have no idea what's in it aside from yoghurt & cucumber, so I made it up.

Warm aubergine salad (actually it was cold by the time we ate it but it was good nonetheless)


Veggie Cous cous


Potato salad - this was so good I fininshed off what was left after Em left. Mayola is my favourite vegan mayo I've tried so far, it's the closest to real mayo I think!

Greek salad - minus the feta. I had been dying for a greek salad ever since the really gorgeous one I had in covent garden last week. Raspberry vinegar - that's the key!


Veggies and pittas to go with the hummus...

Roasted red pepper and sun dried tomato hummus. The last couple of red peppers that I roasted t'other week were festering away in fridge so I thought I'd best use them up.

For desert I did a mango & coconut sorbet. It was delicious and only took about 10 minutes to make (plus about half an hour in the ice cream maker).

Cooking to: a playlist of mid-late 90s dance songs.


Onto today and this was brunch - Vegweb has this recipe for Egg McVegans that I've seen a few people on the PPK make. But I don't like veggie bacon, it's hideous and I can't get my hands on tempeh (plus I always preferred sausage in my omni days - oo-er) so this is my version. My bro is always saying stuff like don't give me none of them tofu eggs, or feggs! So I named this with him in mind...

Fegg Mcmuffin

Easy to do! Take a block of Cauldron original tofu (or whatever brand you like), put it between 2 pieces of kitchen paper and 2 boards, then press down on it with all my (considerable) body weight. If you have time you can press it properly but I didn't.

Slice the tofu into 2 pieces and then use a cookie cutter to cut out a circle, as near to the size of your muffin as you can.



Time for some conveyor belt-ery! One saucer of soymilk and one of seasoned chickpea flour. Dip the tofu in the soymilk then in the chickpea flour and pat off the excess. Spray an oven tray with oil and bake at 190°C for 10 minutes. Flip then bake for another 10 minutes.

Then you need sausage! oo-er! I used a modified version of the seitan sausage recipe from the Everyday Dish website and made them into patties instead. After steaming them, I cut out a circle with the same cookie cutter.

Then fry them for a couple of minutes or so on each side - this really helps the texture and flavour of them.

Then assemble. I added a tofutti cheddar slice as well.


Cooking to: Bon Jovi - 7800 Degrees Farenheit


Here's a couple of other things I made this week:

Moroccan inspired cous cous - aubergines, tomatoes, tofu and harissa.

This morning's breakfast - pankcakes with fresh strawberry sauce and creamy fruit sauce. My frying pan sucks and these stuck like shit to a blanket! So yeah they were uglee, but tasty.


Birdseye potato waffles, they're waffly versatile! They are also waffly tasty with a tofu scramble! Yesterday's brunch.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Happy Bank Holiday - what's left of it!

It’s been a long weekend – and not just because of the bank holiday!!

Two Matchbox 20 concerts, a trip to London, greek food, Chinese food, shopping, a Brothers & Sisters marathon and a few cocktails! Haven’t done much cooking, aside from a couple of tofu scrambles, which I have now got my (omni) friend Vicki hooked on. I also got her hooked on Supernatural, but that’s a whole ‘nother story!

Today I had dinner at the parents’ house and normally I cook but today my mum did it all and made an awesome tomato puff pastry tart which I stole the recipe from her for – I do wish I’d taken my camera because they were pretty as well as tasty.

Also, I had left a book there and she made the coconut cake which she filled with strawberry jam and buttercream. If you have THIS BOOK – I really recommend you make this cake. It is freaking DELICIOUS!! Back on the wagon tomorrow!

But I did have Saturday night to cook and I went for enchiladas. I used to make enchiladas all the time before I went veg*n and loved them. They are so easy to make but have a few stages so can be time-consuming.

Originally, this recipe was from the GI diet book but I have modified it to take out the animal fat and cholesterol and here is my veganised version:

Ingredients:
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2-3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for sautéing
½ block Cauldron firm tofu, drained & pressed
½ red pepper
½ yellow pepper (or use one of either instead of half of each)
1 small/medium onion
2 or 3 rings of jalapeno chilli (from a jar of nacho chillis)
Small tin (or half a regular tin) chopped tomatoes – juice drained off
Small tin (or half a regular tin) kidney (or other) beans
4 flour or corn tortillas

Method:
Cut the tofu into small cubes. Mix together the cumin, chilli, paprika, oregano and salt & pepper in a small bowl. Add oil a tablespoon at a time until you have a loose paste.

Add the tofu and stir well. Put aside for as long as you can but at least half an hour.


Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Slice the onion and peppers into strips.

Heat a frying pan or wok and tip in the tofu and fry for a few minutes. Remove the tofu from the pan and put aside.

Add some oil to the pan and add the onions and peppers. Saute until softened (about 5 minutes). Add back the tofu plus the tomatoes, beans and chilli. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.



Split the mixture between the tortillas. Smoosh it into an oblongy shape and roll the two sides of the tortilla in.
Place, join-side down, in a lightly greased dish.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. After this time, remove the foil and bake for a further 5 minutes. This gets the tortillas all crispy, which I think is the best part.


You can dollop some vegan sour cream and soy cheese on top if you want but I served them with homemade guacamole and salsa.


The rest of the tortillas I just cut up and baked alongside the enchiladas for about 4 mins on each side - et voila, homemade tortilla chips. Great with the salsa & guac that was leftover.



Cooking to: Matchbox 20 - All their albums on random.

Product Review: Lush Baby Face

So I thought I'd review a product or two and this is the latest thing that I am loving. I have a new-found love for Lush - I bought this a couple of weeks ago and the lady in Lush was really helpful, new her stuff and was really good about advising me what stuff was vegan friendly (yeah yeah I know it's signed but that's besides the point).
I was looking for a new cleanser, as the one I used before has beeswax in. This is what she recommended for my dry skin. It's a solid bar called Baby Face and contains Shea, Cocoa & Avocado butters. It smells great and a little bit goes a long way - including taking off waterproof eyeliner.
I love it! I warm my hands under the hot tap (my flat is cold!) and massage into my face, then remove it with a muslin cloth, run under a hand-hot tap and squeezed out. Follow by toner and moisturiser and it makes my skin lovely and soft.
I do need a bit more help with my dry forehead though - I have bought another Lush product to help with that - I'll review that once I've tried it out a few times.

This product gets 4/5 aliens from me
I really do like it and it's so cute!! However, it doesn't quite combat my flaky forehead, so I'm giving it 4/5.
Do you like my new Alien rating pic....?