Vegan Mofo 2019: Spring Salad / Review: Show Up For Salad by Terry Hope Romero

I’m actually really bad at salads. I’m not great at improvising. That’s not true. Actually I’m great at improvising. Only I need clear guidelines and a structure to work with. Very clear, detailed guidelines, recipes almost. Only recipes aren’t great for salads are they? Because you want to use the freshest stuff, not just what’s on a list. I know, I’m going in circles right?

Show Up For Salad is the perfect middle ground. In fact it’s split pretty evenly down the middle between general advice guidance and mix and match recipes to help you put together your own salad combos, and more traditional salad recipes. For this review I thought I’d try one of each: a recipe, and throwing my own thing together.

spring

The Bright And Spicy Spring Asparagus salad was the first one to try. You have the choice of five salad dressings to make this one with and I went for the Tahini French Dressing. I also substituted the mix of greens suggested for the organic salad bag I’d got that week in my Riverford box because it was there and it was fresh. I enjoyed the salad although I did wish I’d made a dressing with more heat.

sidesalad

Tonight I made myself a side salad. For the leafy bit I mixed some bitter leaves with cos lettuce. I dressed it with Sunflower Ranch Dressing which is creamy and perfect and topped with Root Bacon. Yeah. Root Bacon. Bacon made from a bunch of carrots. It’s lush. And then I popped some seeds on top for crunch.

I can’t wait to explore more salads. I’ve got a row of beetroot in the garden destined for beet prosciutto. I’d honestly advise anyone to go out and buy a copy of Show Up For Salad.

Vegan Mofo 2019: Cake / Veganising The Nordic Baking Book

I’ve only explored a couple of the recipes from the cake chapters. I’m still a little bit confused by the whole concept of coating the baking pan with breadcrumbs. But I put my fears behind me for a couple of simple bakes.

Kardemummakaka – Cardamon Cake

Veganised by replacing the butter with Naturli block, removing the egg and replacing the sour cream with Alpro yogurt (the extra liquid that the yogurt contains works to replace the egg as well as the sour cream).

cardamon

Who can resist cardamon cake? Soft beautiful sponge with the beautiful fresh taste of cardamon and sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Mannagrynskaka – Semolina Sponge Cake

Veganised by swapping out the yogurt with Alpro and the butter with Naturli block.

rasberry

Just looking at this picture makes me smile. It’s a beautiful summer cake with a brilliant texture from the semolina and the bright burst of raspberries. I think this one is going to go into my regular rotation.

That’s all from cakes, for now. Tomorrow is pastry!

Vegan Mofo 2019: Biscuits / Veganising The Nordic Baking Book

I first saw The Nordic Baking book in real life in Portree in a shop called ÒR. I couldn’t actually afford it at the time because I was busy buying about five other books (and the rest of the stock — everything in there is gorgeous!) but the Nordic Baking Book played on my mind. I ended up buying it full price in Waterstones in town as soon as I got paid — I couldn’t wait for our next trip to the Hebrides.

The Nordic Baking Book is a collection of baking recipes from around the Nordic Region. Obviously. It’s a documentary book so all the recipes are in their traditional form. You know, not vegan. But I can work with that. I’m trying to veganise one recipe a week out of there. Both this week of Mofo theme and my experiments started with biscuits.

Blondkakor – Peasant Shortbread Cookies

Veganised by replacing the butter with 1/3 vegetable fat (Trex) and 2/3 margarine (Vitalite)

Buttery shortbread studded with whole almonds. Leaving the skin on is something I wouldn’t think of doing for a cookie but it really brings the almond flavour. The only issue is they don’t keep. Turns out that isn’t a problem though.

Chokladsnittar – Chocolate Cuts

Veganised by replacing the butter with Naturli Block

choccuts

Chocolate shortbread studded with pearl sugar. These babies didn’t last very long either. So delicious. They aren’t strongly chocolatey, just light and sweet and perfect with a hot drink.

Mandelskopor – Almond Rusks

Veganised by using Naturli block instead of butter, and eggs replaced with 4 teaspoons of flax, 6 tablespoons of oat milk and an extra 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder.

almond rusks

I needed another almond hit. The idea leaving the skin on the almonds is something I haven’t come across in my usual Anglo-American baking. It’s the best thing ever though. I worried if the skins would add a funny texture but you don’t notice it. All you notice is the incredible almond taste. So I had to try these Almond Rusks, and they did not disappoint.

I’m afraid that’s all of my biscuit experiments for now but I’m having so much fun here that I doubt they’ll be the last.

Review: Mississippi Vegan

I was intrigued by Mississippi vegan as basically I have no idea what it is people eat in Mississippi. As ubiquitous as American film, television, music, and just about everything else is you don’t get much regional variance. Much in the same way, I imagine, that I keep having to explain to people what black pudding, treacle toffee, muffins and black peas are. There is also an emphasis on regional produce, seasonal food and foraged food that really speaks to me. The whole book is written in a gentle autobiographic style explaining why these recipes are important to the author, introducing the people, places and produce that inspired them.

everythingbagels

First up was a batch of Everything Bagels with all the fixings. I love making bagels, it seems so transgressive to sneak the dough into a pot of boiling water before putting them in the oven. The seasoning was perfect but the bagel itself was a little denser than my preferred recipe. All sins, however, are redeemed by cream cheese.

garlic bread

The Garlic and Herb Bread has been a big hit around here. Garlic and herb butter spread on a split roll and baked. It simple, satisfying and comes in some great, creative variations. This one was the basil and chives. I skimped a little on the fine chopping (must follow instructions in future!) but the taste was spot on.

poboy

Of course I couldn’t resist making a po’ boy, I’m favourite po’ boy is the portobello variation in Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day but I’m not supposed to eat mushrooms so this fried popcorn tofu version is perfect. You’ll have to forgive the inauthentic bread but everything else was spot on. I even ordered some imported Old Bay seasoning for the occasion. The result was perfectly spiced, crisp and succulent tofu popcorn. Fully dressed for a perfect sandwich.

gumbo

And, of course, I couldn’t end this review without trying the Classic Gumbo. I had to make a fairly major adjustment. I’m allergic to celery so my holy trinity was missing a member. This gumbo though was fabulous. Rich, creamy, flavourful. Everything it’s supposed to be.

I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of this book and I’m looking forward to exploring it a bit more. In the meantime I totally recommend you picking up a copy. It’s thoughtful, inspiring and the food is amazing.

Review: Black Girl Baking

Black Girl Baking isn’t an entirely vegan cookbook (although quite a few of the recipes are either vegan or have vegan variations), but I was tempted by the pictures I’d seen on Instagram so into my Amazon basket it went. And I wasn’t disappointed. Breaking away from traditional baking the recipes use a variety of flours, sweeteners, and even aquafaba to create a fantastic collection of baked treats.

cake

I started with a chocolate cake. (Not an) Easy Bake Cake With Raspberry Glaze. It’s really easy to throw together the sponge. It’s made with whole wheat flour which makes me feel good about myself and it’s egg-free as-is and dairy-free with a simple substitution. The real star of the show is the glaze though. Made with real raspberries, it packs a very flavourful punch. I always say pink food tastes the best and it’s especially true when flavoured with real fruit.

crackers

For a savoury treat I made the Everything Chickpea Turmeric Crackers, which have the flour profile of a pakora mixed with an everything bagel. I like both of those things but even after eating a full batch of those crackers I couldn’t tell you if they work together. I kept thinking I’d made my mind up but then I’d take another bite.

minibudnt

These little guys are Kate’s favourite: Sticky Maple Mini Cakes. They’re made with with all the fanciest ingredients; dates, maple syrup, coconut milk, coconut oil. Basically it’s all the most expensive things in my cupboard. The texture is a little grainy but not in a bad way. The flavour though is incredible. Rich, caramely, and nutty. All of Kate’s favourite flavours.

tomato

That might be Kate’s favourite but the recipe that’s been added to our regular rotation is a little less sweet. Blistered Tomato Sheet Pizza is super simple. Just a good pizza crust and some beautiful blistered baby tomatoes. It transforms the meh cherry tomatoes of winter into a rich caramelised sauce and is now our favourite thing to do when we have cherry tomatoes hanging about.

I recommend you give this one a look. It might not be for you but between the pizza and the chocolate cake the price is justified for me.

Reveiw: Leon Fast Vegan

When Leon brought out a vegan cookbook I ordered it straight away. I’ve been living with it for the past few months and it’s been in rotation ever since. The title implies that it’s all fast food but really it has a recipe for just about anything you could ask for. There are breakfast, desserts, 15-minute meals and ones that take hours. It’s an encyclopaedia of vegan food. And it’s pretty cool.

We’ll start with one of the quicker recipes. This Artichoke, Basil and Spinach Pasta. It’s a quick pesto recipe that has all the umami you could ever need coming from that artichoke. The recipes are more than just a token vegan option, they’re well-thought-out to give a full range of flavours.

Jackfruit Tikka Masala is one of the the recipes that puts the name fast vegan to shame, clocking in at just under 2 hours. However you will not regret a second of those two hours. This is the best vegan tikka masala you’ll ever have. And it’s a genuine tikka masala, you marinate and cook your jackfruit before tossing it in the curry sauce which just makes everything perfect.

One of the few misses we’ve had is this Spiced Moroccan Tofu. Overall it was just a little dry and the Moroccan flavours didn’t really work with tofu.

But let’s end on a happy, positive, chocolate-filled note. These chocolate brownie cakes are amazing! Really dense and they have chocolate and rich and they have chocolate.

There are some amazing recipes in this huge tome. And although I’ve become adept at translating recipes from American English into UK English it’s always great to have recipes written in my own culinary language. I would suggest you go out and buy this straight away and make the tikka masala because it’s amazing.

Review: Bento Power by Sara Kiyo Popowa

My bento-making career stalled slightly when I started working in a vegan cafe. I don’t have many opportunities to pack a lunch any more but the opportunities I do have I like to make the most of. That’s why I got myself a copy of Bento Power by Sara Kiyo Popowa. Apart from a couple of egg recipes it’s all plant-based so it’s perfect for vegan bento makers.

As it’s whole foods focused there are lots of great ideas for getting more nutrients in your box. One that I was keen to try, and one that I’m going to keep using again and again, is the idea of throwing whole grains in your sushi rice. It brings nutrients, it brings taste, it brings texture. So good in the Onigirazu.

When it comes to books about bento I’m often reading them in a panic at the last minute. I imagine most people are too. So the most useful part of the book for me are the guides and the little tips. Honestly the tip on how to reheat rice in a steamer is probably the most useful thing I’ve ever read. That might make me sound a bit sad but I’m sticking with it. I used the Onigiri guide to make these cute rice balls out of leftovers.

There are also, of course, recipes for boxes full of food. I thought I’d delve into 15-Minute Bento section for my lunch today. I went for the Pasta Surprise Bento with kale, pine nuts, chickpeas and a really delicious dressing. This book has everything you need to pack amazing lunches and I 100% recommend it. If you’ve never packed a bento box before it will walk you through it, and if you have you’ll find plenty of cool new tricks in here.