Month: July 2015

Recently I had this absolutely amazing cold-pressed pecan milk. I was raving about it so much I passed the bottle around to pretty much everyone who was within 3 feet of me to try it. Then I sent my husband a whole bunch of photos on Whatsapp of it with the caption “PECAN MILK!!!!”.

So obviously I had to recreate it at home. I clearly don’t have a cold-press juicer just lying around so I’m using my trusty blender for this one.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups of pecans, soaked overnight or soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, split and the seeds scraped out
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • Pinch of salt

  1. Drain and rinse the soaked pecans. Add them to the blender with the water and blend on high until smooth.
  2. Pour the liquid into a nut milk bag over a large bowl and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Discard the pulp or use it in baking.
  3. Pour the milk back into the blender and add the vanilla, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Blend until combined. Pour into a bottle and chill in the fridge.
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Ever since the dawn of aquafaba I’ve been thinking of other ways to use it as an egg replacer. I’ve used it to make meringue and to give body to ice cream without using an ice cream maker.

Here I’m using it to make a simple sweet pastry (one used by my grandma) without the need to use any expensive exotic ingredients. Obviously, the pie is filled with cherries because there’s a damn fine crop of cherries popping up this year!

A tragedy befell us in the kitchen. My beloved Salter digital scales got water in them and died! So I’ve gone back to the old school with this recipe and measured them using my great-grandma’s weighted scales which are in ounces. I’ve done my best to convert to grams but be aware!

INGREDIENTS

  • 8oz/226g plain flour
  • 4oz/113 fat (I used a half/half ratio of vegan butter to vegetable fat)
  • 2oz/56g aquafaba (liquid drained from a can of chickpeas) + more for brushing
  • 1oz/28g caster sugar
  • 300g cherries, pitted
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350f. Get a 7 inch pie dish ready.
  2. Start by making the pastry. In a large mixing bowl add the flour and fat. Using your hands rub the fat through the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse sand.
  3. Stir in the sugar. Make a well in the middle of the flour then add the aquafaba, using a wooden spoon to mix it all together.
  4. Lightly flour your kitchen surface, then plop the dough out of the bowl. Knead lightly for around 5 minutes until the pastry is smooth. Roll into a ball and place in a ziplock bag. Chill the pastry in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  5. Whilst the pastry is chilling, start on the cherry filling. Pit the cherries – I find the easiest way is to use an empty wine bottle and a chopstick. Place 1 cherry in the opening of the wine bottle and use the sharp end of the chopstick to push out the pit.
  6. Once all the cherries are pitted add them to a saucepan with the 2 tablespoons of sugar and vanilla extract. Cook on a medium-low heat until the juices run out and the fruit is soft. Set aside to cool.
  7. Divide the pastry into two equal parts.Flour your surface and roll out one piece of pastry into an 8 inch circle and carefully lay it over the pie dish.
  8. Using your fingers press the pastry into the dish. Cut away the excess pastry. Scoop out the cherries using a slotted spoon, making sure not too take too much of the juice, into the pie casing.
  9. Roll out your second piece of dough and carefully lay it over the top of the pie. Using your thumb press all the way around the edge of the dish to seal the pastry. Cut away the excess pastry.Then using your finger, press the thumb sealed part inwards to make a little flute.
  10. If you want to, you can use your excess pastry to make a little decoration! Cut two slits in the top of the pie crust then brush it with a little aquafaba.
  11. Bake the pie in the oven for 25 minutes  or until golden brown, rotating half way.

 

 

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I don’t eat gluten-free very often. I happen to be quite a big fan of it (hello seitan) but I understand that it can make some people pretty ill!

These breakfast cookies take about 20 minutes to make. Sweetened with maple syrup and golden raisins! Because of the quinoa flour these cookies have the bonus of having protein – so you can shove one of these cookies in the mouth of the next person that asks you where you get your protein from!

(The beautiful walnut scoop and pinch pot I’m using in these photos is from Luke of Hope in the Woods)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup Quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup Gluten-free oats
  • 1/2 cup Grade B Maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup Coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup Almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp Sea salt
  • 1/4 cup Golden Raisins

  1. Preheat the oven to 350f. In a saucepan add the coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt and vanilla. Heat on a medium heat until all the ingredients are melted together. Whisk until smooth.
  2. In a bowl add the quinoa flour and oats. Pour in the melted mixture and stir together. Add the golden raisins and mix to combine.
  3. Scoop out  two teaspoon amounts of mixture and roll into a ball using your hands. Place on a silpat or baking parchment lined tray and then press them down using a fork.
  4. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, rotating half way until they are golden and firm to the touch.
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If you’re also a vegan or even just someone with special dietary needs going out to a high street chain restaurant can be a total pain in the back side.

One thing I’m always on the look out for is whether dishes can be veganised at restaurants. I’m always reading those nutritional info PDFs. A lot of the time there’s only one thing to eat and it’s usually chips or potatoes. Sometimes restaurants can totally surprise me and  have a special separate menu for vegans!

Carluccio’s was one of those restaurants! (They also have a separate gluten-free menu)

The vegan menu. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were multiple starters and side dishes available. Obviously there’s only one main course – the spaghetti – however, in a restaurant that’s basically a homage to the cheese, meat rich Italian cuisine I wasn’t too surprised.

For my starter I had Caponata, a Sicilian sweet and sour aubergine stew served with grilled focaccia. The stew had an incredibly rich tomato taste, dotted with pine nuts. Sometimes aubergine can be tough and chewy but this was melt in the mouth soft. I loved this dish!

For my main I had the only main dish available – the Spaghetti Al Pomodoro e Basilico. Spaghetti with tomato and basil for us non-Italians. This dish was inoffensive but there’s not too much you can say about pasta with tomato sauce. After I was brought this dish the waitress offered me parmesan cheese, assuring me it was “vegetarian!” which I politely declined. Slightly awkward.

For my side dish I had Verdura Fritta which was courgette, peppers and aubergine in a crispy batter. Think Italian tempura. I really liked the fritta, it was crispy and salty.

Overall my experience was positive. I only have one vegan friend and frequently go out with people who don’t have dietary requirements. Having a mainstream restaurant where everyone can eat what they want is great!

You can find Carluccio’s online here and on Twitter here

I visited the Muswell Hill branch. 

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As this is my first 4th of July married to my lovely American husband I felt like a little celebration was in order. Coincidentally we got our first bumper crop of blackcurrants from the garden! Ten minutes later and my mum and I had dessert for what turned out to be the hottest July day on record!

Happy Independence Day to all the Americans out there!

INGREDIENTS

  • 150g strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
  • 50g blackcurrants, stems removed (sub blueberries to keep the red, white & blue theme!)
  • 50g strawberry mixed grain muesli or muesli/granola of your choice
  • Coconut cream scraped from the inside of 1 can of refrigerated coconut milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 tbsp Grade B maple syrup

  1. The night before place your coconut milk in the fridge. When you are ready to make the coconut cream, remove it from the fridge and turn it upside down. Scrape out the coconut cream into a bowl and save the water for a smoothie.
  2. Scrape the vanilla bean and add the vanilla to the bowl with the maple syrup. Using a hand whisk or an electric mixer beat until fluffy.
  3. Layer your parfaits (we used tumblers) starting first with the strawberries, then 2 tbsp of coconut cream then blackcurrants, muesli, coconut cream and so on until your glass is full. Top with more strawberries. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
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