Sunday, 8 November 2015

A Vegan in Iceland - Food, Cocktails and Trips!

My boyfriend and I spent 5 days in Iceland at the end of September, and had a spectacular time. You can even enjoy the food on this magical island as a vegan.

You'll find most vegan-friendly food in Reykjavik. Ask the staff - most people understand the concept today and even take an active interest in it. You can ask them to exclude any offending items from the dishes to make it vegan. It is also a great place for trying new things!

Hotel Laxness and Vegan Burgers in Kaffihúsið Álafossi

We stayed in a great hotel outside Reykjavik and walked to a tiny village on our first evening in Iceland. We found a lovely little restaurant and I was amazed to find they offered a vegan burger and even cake! Wonderful staff, decor and food.

Vegan Burgers in Kaffihúsið Álafossi

Reykjavik Chips with Vegan Sauce

No.1 - my favourite food - chips. We found this place just off the main street (Laugavegur) and, much to my surprise, it does a vegan chip sauce! It tasted like peanut satay sauce and was incredible. I never knew peanuts and potatoes went so well together. Really cool place too - with chip-related decor, good music and very nice staff. We need this in UK!

Reykjavik Chips with Vegan Sauce
Reykjavik Chips with Vegan Sauce

Lebowski Bar for Vegan White Russians

Anyone who has seen the film will love this place. Actually, anyone will love this place. Also on Laugavegur it has a 50's bowling alley theme and every kind of White Russian you can imagine (even vegan) this place is worth a visit whilst in Reykjavik.

Did I say a vegan White Russian? Why yes, I did! The bar tender's friend was vegan so he knew exactly what to do. He used soya milk and cream to replace the dairy. I enjoyed a liquorice flavoured one, and worked really well, but, you know, that's just, like, my opinion, man.

Lebowski Bar for Vegan White Russians

Iceland Air Hotel for Avocado on Toast and Liquorice Hot Chocolate

We found this cool little cafe which joined the hotel along the harbour and stopped here to revitalise and warm up. The staff were really nice - one had lived in Cardiff for a number of years and he even had a Welsh accent when he spoke to us in English!

They served my favourite - avocado on toast (just ask for no butter) and a new one for me - hot chocolate with liquorice (with almond milk). Apparently the Icelandic enjoy liquorice as much as I do - probably as it is salty. I would recommend this! Wish I could make it here somehow.

Stayed here for a while next to the central fire place. Lovely.

Avocado on Toast and Liquorice Hot Chocolate

Whale Watching with Elding - Choose An Animal Friendly Tour Group and Restaurants

You can't visit Iceland without going Whale watching. This family run tour group is completely against whale hunting and are actively trying to have it banned. They argue that a whale is worth more alive than dead as generates much more income from tourism than from the meat industry. The staff are also very respectful towards the whales as they don't want to harm them or drive the pods away; they are marine biologists so know what they are talking about!

They also encourage people to boycott restaurants that serve Whale meat. They have a whale-friendly restaurant 'Mar' which you can get 10% off with your ticket.

We went for the Northern Lights & Whale Watching package, it is worth every penny. Be sure to take a free travel sickness pill and wear the overalls they provide - it gets choppy and chilly out at sea.

My boyfriend spotted a minky whale and we all saw some incredibly acrobatic dolphins; they leapt right out of the water and kept swimming under our boat. I did get very sea sick though!

The Northern Light tour was a real unexpected treat as I was convinced it would be called off due to the bad weather, but they do say "if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes" in Iceland as it is so changeable. Sure enough, it was a beautiful clear night and high solar activity meant that we saw an extraordinary display; the lights were so strong and danced across the sky in front of our eyes.

Whale Friendly tours iceland

Traditional Tomato Soup in Cafe Haiti

This was a cure for my sea sickness after the whale watching tour. A little cabin on the harbour with a warm, cosy atmosphere. I really enjoyed their homemade soup - simply tomatoes and basil (no cream! yey!). They also do fantastic coffee.

Icelandic Tomato Soup

The Laundromat Cafe - No Vegan Sandwich :-(

I was looking forward to this place as I had heard they did a great vegan sandwich. When I looked online I couldn't see it on their menu so send them a message on facebook, where they assured me they still offered this. Sadly, when I tried to order it the staff didn't know what I meant, so I had to order a vege burger minus cheese and menu. I wasn't aloud to replace these items sadly, even by paying extra (avocado would have been a nice replacement) so the burger was really dry and disappointing. Still worth a visit as the decor is cool, but perhaps just get chips. There is also actually a laundrette underneath - so it is authentic hipster!

laundromat cafe iceland

Picnic Food for the Day Trips

The best way to enjoy the sites of Iceland is to hire a car and go for an explore. It is a big island, so you will be out all day. Bring a picnic as you won't find much vegan food on the road. For these excursions, we stocked up on essentials from the local supermarket; bread (try the Icelandic flat bread - reminded me of what the elves give the hobbits in Lord of the Rings), tomatoes (grown in labs in Iceland) cashew nuts, hummus, crisps and I even found some Violife vegan cheese spread!

Vegan picnic

Monday, 14 September 2015

Wagamama - Vegan Option - Warm Tofu Chilli Salad

I went to Wagamama hoping against hope that their katsu curry with breaded sweet potato and aubergine was vegan. The friendly waiter went and got a file with all the food allergy information and we looked through. Alas, the breaded mixture had egg in it and there was nothing they could do!

Their yasai itame is vegan but I went for the warm tofu chilli salad and I was happy. Really big, tasty and  good value. The star of the show was the super green juice - apple, mint, celery and lime. Gosh it was good - so sour and refreshing.

I later read somewhere that you can ask for the katsu sauce with rice and perhaps a bit of veg. After all, it is the katsu sauce which is the main event with my old favourite meal! I will try it out one day, though let me know if this is true.

vegan wagamamma

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Union Pizza Kings Cross - Vegan, Quick and Cheap Food!

My, we ate our a lot last week. I needed to calm down on the spending, and my friend recommend a new and cheap pizza place that had opened in Kings Cross. Perfect as we were going to see a gig at the Lexington later on.

Pizza union is great - their bases and sauces are vegan, plenty of seats and it is decorated in a cool, modern vibe (exposed piping, old tiles and loud music) You order and pay at the counter and then have a buzzy thing when your pizzas are ready. The staff were all smiles - and there was no issue having a margarita with no cheese. They were ready in under 10 mins, the bases satisfyingly crispy and a good size (12"). I went to ask for some fresh basil as my pizza was a little dull with just sauce and cooked basil, and again, the request was met with a big smile and a handful of lovely fresh leafs.

Such a nice place, ideal for a quick but enjoyable meal and incredible value (mine was only £3.95!) This is my kind of fast food.

union pizza kings cross


Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Trip to York - Best Chip Shop Chips and El Piano - Lovely Vegan Restaurant

I have always wanted to go to York. Well, ever since standing on the underground platform at Finsbury Park on my way to work and seeing a travel poster for it; a train zooming towards golden buildings, bridges and the cathedral. 'Visit York!' was the declarative title, "from £30 return". It never is the price as advertised, normally it is alluring to an indirect train on a Wednesday at 6am, but a few weeks ago I found some very affordable tickets teamed with our 'Two Together' card.

So one Saturday we got up relatively early to catch the 9:30 am train from King's Cross. I was so excited, I love day trips and exploring new towns. It was only a 2.5 hour journey and soon we were filing into the city with all of the other tourists. It was noticeably cold, and the air smelt of gravy! I know it sounds stereotypical, but it is true. It must have come from the brewery, which was in the centre of town.

EDIT - The Vegan Punk tell me these chips now use Beef Dripping 
I loved it; we went round the castle walls, shuffled through The Shambles and had the BEST chip shop chips I have ever had. The smell of salt and vinegar from Drakes Fisheries had grabbed me as we walked past. We were served by a lovely friendly teen who was all smiles and good humour (not used to this in London) They were perfect - piping hot, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. We ate them in a near by square and watched the other tourists. I enjoyed every mouthful, perfect for the chilly, Autumnal afternoon after a long journey (I may have also been nursing a slight hangover after going out with the family the night before) I know they are not healthy - but they tasted like they had been cooked up especially for that moment. They also had vegetarian options and their chips were cooked in a separate, designated pan.

Drakes Fisheries Chips


Naturally we visited a lot of pubs, and just before our train back we went for a meal at El Piano, a well established vegan restaurant with great reviews. We booked a table as we weren't sure how busy it would be (the town was already heaving with revellers at 5pm, all well into their pints) but the restaurant was very quiet at 6:30pm. We were a bit worried as weren't very hungry (after sharing the chips and a portion of humungous onion rings at a pub) It was cosy and nicely decorated in a colourful and comforting Moroccan theme. We smelt the mouth-watering dahl as we walked in, and my mind was made up as to what to have. The waiter was really nice and made us feel relaxed, despite being the only ones there. I liked the way the menu worked: you basically choose a main dish, some fritters and a cold salad so you could mix and match to get exactly what you wanted. I went for the dahl (of course) with spinach, mushrooms and tomato pestolitos with hummus. Luke had the skewers, falafel and tabluleh. It was beautiful - I especially loved the dahl - full of garlicky flavour and not too runny. Luke said "It was really good". The portions were perfect for our present state, though I thought they would be bigger due to the price (£11.95). It is worth mentioning that they use locally sourced organic products, so it all adds up. We all eat too much anyway! I would definitely recommend a visit here if you do journey up to York one day.

el-piano

I had a wonderful time in York, next time I would wear more layers but otherwise do exactly the same things.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Sagar Covent Garden - Vegetarian Vegan Curry - Vegan Thali

Sagar at covent garden was a wonderful meal pre theatre. It is a vegetarian curry house that has vegan options.

We were lucky - a couple next to us overheard me trying to figure out what I could eat and recommended the vegan thali - which wasn't on the menu! We took their advice and had one each - though our eyes were much bigger than our stomachs as we couldn't quite finish it. I think 1 between 2 would have been ideal, especially as our favourites were different (mine was the okra, Luke's the cauliflower)

Sagar Covent Garden

They also have guilt-free vegan wine.

The waiter was also very sweet, and he had just turned vegan so we had a nice chat about this. A really positive experience, will be going back!

Sagar Covent Garden

Mildred's Vegan Restaurant Review - Soho, London

Luke and I went into South Kensington on a Bank Holiday Saturday to go visit the Museums. Big mistake. There were actual queues outside - which was weird. I have never queued before - and we weren't going to queue then! We decided to take a stroll around town instead, and walked from Chelsea to Soho.

After the long (but enjoyable) walk we were on a mission nutrition. It was quite late in the afternoon and we were lucky enough to get a table at Mildred's (without queuing). It was a busy, bustling cafe with a cocktail bar in the front (mixologists!). The staff were young and trendy but the clientele were a wide range of ages from all walks of life. The service was slow, but we were relaxed enough to not really care.

The thing with Veggie restaurants is that I am always faced with too much choice. I couldn't decide what to have as it all looked great, until I saw what the table next to me had ordered. I went for the sri lankan sweet potato curry with roasted lime cashews, pea basmati rice and coconut tomato sambal (£11) and Luke had the parmesan and pomegranate risotto cake with saffron cream sauce, wilted spinach and green beans (£11 - not vegan) The food arrived hot and beautifully presented, we both agreed they looked like they were from some posh restaurant. The portions were very generous and most importantly, delicious. The sweet and savoury curry was just what I needed after a chilly August bank holiday (typical weather) the warm spice and smooth coconut was the perfect comfort food. Luke said his was "lovely". We both agreed it was very good value for money, especially in central London.

The table next to us had been waiting for their bill since we were served, and had to ask for it three times. Fortunately we had our bill right after asking for it, though at the same time as our patient neighbours.

As we were leaving a very large queue had formed out the door, so we had definitely gone at the right time! Will go back again for sure, there were lots of vegan items I'd like to try. Just don't go in a rush, ask for your bill at the earliest opportunity and enjoy the experience.

Mildred's Vegan Restaurant Review - Soho, London


Monday, 7 September 2015

At Last - The Best Vegan Yorkshire Pudding I Have Ever Had

Another star of our friend's roast was the vegan Yorkshire puddings. They had a breakthrough with this one!

Not only did they taste like the real deal, they even looked like Yorkshires.

Here is how they did it (original recipe from http://thriftyliving.net/2009/10/19/vegan-yorkshire-puddings/)

Ingredients

  • 4oz / 115 grams / half a cup plain (all-purpose) flour
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 heaped teaspoon gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • Half a pint of soya milk
  • Vegetable oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to high 230C and our a thin later of oil in each hole of a muffin tin (the oven and oil needs to be hot before you pour the batter in)
  2. Mix the flour, salt and gram flour together with a whisk and gradually pour in the milk. Whisk good and hard so you can see bubbles - the airier the better. Use an electronic whisk to save your strength! The batter will be thin, this is normal.
  3. Fill the holes 1/2 way of the preheated muffin tin (be careful it is hot) Put them back in the oven and blind bake for 20mins (this is important! Keep the oven door closed once they have gone it - no peeking!) After 20 mins you can check them, but be quick if they need a bit longer as the oven needs to stay hot.
  4. Serve and enjoy a few Yorkshire puddings with your roast once more! I had four!
vegan yorkshire puddings

(old pic from John's last roast - they looked even better than this)


Hedgehog / Hasselback Potatoes - My New Favourite Roast Potato

Our friends made us another Vegan roast on the weekend, and we enjoyed it so much there were no pictures.

They used a new method to cook the roasties - and I must say it was spectacular. No need to boil, just:

1. Preheat the over to 220C. Peel and wash the tattys
2. Slice the potatoes without going all the way through - the more slices the better
3. Put in an oven tray and douse with your preferred oil (olive oil was very good), salt, a few garlic cloves and rosemary.
4. Cook for about 45mins to one hour, until they are golden brown.
5. Feast

They fan out in the oven and cook right the way through, achieving the crispy coating and soft inside. Will definitely be doing this at Christmas!

ROASTED HASSELBACK POTATOES

picture from http://www.booths.co.uk/

Sunday, 23 August 2015

A Vegan in New York City

My boyfriend and I went to New York City for the first time in June and we had an incredible trip.

Five nights was just about right; we stayed in a great hostel called The Local NYC in Queens, just across the river of Manhattan. It was a converted warehouse with a roof terrace that had views of the sky scrapers without the noise that goes with them. It was on a very quiet road and very short distance from the subway, a couple of stops from the centre. Very friendly staff, cool ensuite room and a nice vibe to the place.

This certainly was a food trip. I had plenty to choose from and think I tasted some of the best food of my life! Here are the restaurants we visited and I would recommend all of them.

A vegan in New York

£ - cheap,  ££ - average, £££ - dear

Terri NYC - £

http://terrinyc.com/menu.html

For our first meal Luke and I shared the comfort plate - the 'pulled pork' was incredible, though we struggled to finish it as very rich. We sat in the window seats amongst the skyscrapers and watched the busy streets, the perfect introduction to NYC. It was great that there was so many veggie fast food outlets in the city.

Blossom du Jour - £

www.blossomdujour.com

Another Vegan fast food restaurant. I had their vegan muffin for breakfast twice as it was so so tasty; scrambled tofu with fake melted cheese, hollandaise style sauce and facon. Great hangover cure. They were also very reasonable - less than $5. I've had scrambled tofu once before in London and found it too dry - but this was lovely - perhaps because of the sauce. I would never have ordered a veggie version of this before I turned vegan, as I hate the idea of egg and cheese together - but tofu and fake cheese works like a charm.

Blossom du jour vegan breakfast muffin


Murray's Bagels - £

www.murraysbagels.com

As you have to have a bagel when in NYC. Choose from an overwhelming about of toppings - including toffuti - a delicious cream cheese alternative. I had a classic cheese and cucumber.

Murray's Bagels - Vegan Friendly NYC

SOUEN - Macrobiotic, Natural Organic Food - ££

http://souen.net

I think this was our favourite meal - they also served fish so Luke could have this. I had the best pad thai I have ever tasted (lime peanut sauce, tofu and lots of veg) with a mu 16 tea - which is so full of flavours and like nothing I have ever had before. Very good value for money.

Souen - Vegan Friendly Thai Asian NYC

Lombardi's Pizza - £££

www.firstpizza.com

Quite historic! The first pizza diner in America - ever - and their bases are vegan! It was very popular and we were lucky that we only had to queue for a short while. First mistake was ordering a pizza each as we noticed everyone was sharing, but when in Rome! The marinara was very very good; tangy tomato sauce and very sweet basil. We took some home to have for lunch the next day.

TeaNY - New York - ££

www.teanynewyork.com

Cute little cafe in the trendy lower East side of Manhattan, offering vegan and vegetarian food. It is owned by Moby. We sat outside and a man walked past us after reading the menu, saying "What is vegan, is it gluten free?" to his friend. I rolled my eyes and Luke said "You know that was Zac Braff don't you?" and it was!

The food was brill. I had a 'choose your own' bagel with fake mozzarella, facon and avocado washed down with some lush lavender lemonade. We also had dessert for the first time - I had the classic strawberry cheesecake and Luke the peanut butter bomb. We couldn't believe they were both vegan - delicious, but also massive, so we were defeated.

TeeNY Vegan Friendly Cafe NYC


Candle 79: Organic Vegan Food - NYCs Premiere Vegan Restaurant - £££

www.candle79.com

We did try and book a table at Dirt Candy as a treat but there were none, so went to Candle 79 in the upper East side instead. Glad we did! We had a lovely meal and a really sweet waitress (it wasn't as unnervingly posh as we expected, but the food was incredible) I had the raw lasagna with cashew cheese (first taste of cashew cheese - a winner) and Luke had spaghetti with wheat balls. We also shared roasted sprouts. The portions were just right and reasonably priced - recommended.

Champs Diner

www.champsdiner.com

On our last morning we went to an all vegan breakfast diner, as recommend by the waitress at Candle 79. It was in Brooklyn, and quite a trek to get to as it was not near any tubes. We queued to get inside and it was worth it. I went for the breakfast burrito and really enjoyed it (guac and scrambled tofu did it for me) Luke also devoured his Vegan slam breakfast.

Champs Vegan Diner NYC


All the food was really different to what we have at home and I felt there was a much wider choice than in London. They were more adventurous with the food in New York, and having the fast food outlets was really useful and affordable. I didn't want to go home! I <3 NYC!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Vegan Homemade Chip Shop Curry Sauce

I'm Welsh. Therefore I love chips and curry sauce. Unfortunately many chips shops have animal derivatives in theirs (my local has beef gelatine - yuk!) So I found this brilliant recipe online and have adapted it a tad.
This serves 2 (and I do like a lot of sauce!)

Ingredients


  • 1 tbsp oil (I used coconut)
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • Dash of apple cider vinegar 
  • Pinch of smoked garlic powder
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2tbsp flour (I used oat, which is gluten free) 
  • 300 ml vegetable stock
  • Black pepper

  • Method

    1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic and cook on low until soft (careful not to burn)
    2. Add the stock, followed by the curry powder, garlic powder and the dash of cider vinegar. Then add the flour and stir well. Leave it to simmer and keep stirring until it has reduced.
    3.  Add more hot water if it is too thick or add flour if it isn't thick enough. Feel free to give it a blitz with a blender if it is too chunky, though it should smooth out by itself as the vegetables have cooked right down.
    4. Serve on any potato based products!

    I had mine with mushy peas (Sainsburys) Linda McCartney Country Pies and potato waffles!

    Vegan chip shop curry sauce



    Tuesday, 18 August 2015

    Simple Vegan Blackberry Crumble (Accidentally Gluten Free)

    Our garden is rife with blackberries at the moment. Luke and I had fun picking them. We only used the ripest - ones that fell off the stalks nice and easily.

    I used some oat flour that I had in the cupboard, it works really well and happens to be gluten free!


    Ingredients

    500-750g of blackberries
    200g oat flour
    3 tbsp sugar
    120g pure sunflower spread / margarine
    Sprinkle of lemon juice

    Method

    Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas4

    First I washed the blackberries thoroughly, then popped them in an oven dish, spreading evenly.

    Next I sprinkled a small amount of lemon juice and a table spoon of sugar.



    Now for the breadcrumbs. Pour the flour into the bowl and add the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar and cubes of the spread. Mix in with your hands until it feels like sand (you might need to add a little extra flour - oat flour is heavier than most) Don't worry if there are a few lumps - these are nice!

    Pop in the oven for about 30mins / until top is golden brown.

    Eat it all up!



    It was definitely tastier cold the next day - which I was surprised at. Next time I might add more blackberries and perhaps some apples too to make it a little deeper and fruiter.

    It was so nice eating something that had grown in our garden. There are plenty more out there, so there will be more crumble!




    Monday, 17 August 2015

    Vegan Lasagne with Cashew Cheese

    This was my first go at cashew cheese, and naturally, I loved it. I think I've pretty much loved everything since going vegan (apart from Sheese)

    I used this recipe from Oh She Glows.

    For the cheese, I soaked the cashews for a few hours, and used frozen basil. I've had it once in a restaurant in New York, which was so smooth it was like whipped cream, I couldn't achieve this level with my flatmate's blender, but I did like the nutty texture.

    Now for the lasagne itself I adapted the recipe slightly, for the veg I just used fresh spinach, mushrooms, onion and garlic which I fried for about 6mins. I also added grated courgette as a layer - uncooked. Grating is Great (aha) as it makes the courgette all smooth and creamy. I personally don't like chunks of courgette. For the cheese on top I used Violife pizza (my personal favourite) and biona for the pasta sheets (which you don't have to cook)

    YUM. It made four meals worth, I served it with some rocket and a drizzle of balsamic.



    Friday, 14 August 2015

    Homeslice Covent Garden - The Best (Vegan) Pizza in London

    Homeslice might also be the best pizza in the UK. SO so good. My boyfriend works in the area and it was recommended by almost all of his workmates, so he checked the base and the sauce was vegan (it was) and we went along one evening after work.

    There was a waiting list (always a good sign) about 30 mins long, so we went for a quick drink. They even called us when there was a table available.

    The restaurant is really cool - long trestle tables to share, laid back and funny waiters, with an open fire oven where you can see the pizzas being made.

    The idea is you can either order slices of pre-made pizza or an entire customisable pizza for £20. This was perfect, as I didn't have to subject my pescetarian boyfriend to no cheese. I had 1/2 a caprese with no mozzarella (so tomato sauce, tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil) and Luke had 1/2 caramelised onions, olives and anchovies.

    We also ordered red wine, which they sell in a very clever way. They put a massive bottle on your table and only charge by the glass, which they measure at the end with a stick. Very tempting! Good as we didn't have to keep catching the waiter to order more, bad as you may end up drinking too much.

    The pizza was as big as the table! HUGE! We were given paper plates to eat from and it is all hands on. Things get messy! But oh BOY this was the best pizza I had ever had in the UK (first place goes to Almalfi, Italy) Thin crust, loads of delicious sauce and the most fragrant fresh basil I have ever tasted. It was sublime.



    Neither of us finished it but we took home the spare slices in a bag for lunch the next day - where it was equally brilliant!

    Monday, 2 February 2015

    Best Boyfriend Award - Vegan Cooking

    I am really lucky that my friends and lovely boyfriend enjoy cooking vegan food - not only that - they are great at it. Here are a few meals Luke whipped up in the kitchen lately (not all on the same day - we don't live that luxuriously!)

    Breakfast - A Vegan Fry Up

    My first vegan fry up - as you don't have to have Ryveta and almond spread.



    This consisted of beans, sautéed mushrooms with spinach and spring onions, a 'Vegusto' banger and sweet potato hash browns.

    I LOVED the sausage - it was slightly smoked and had a great consistency. The sweet potato hash browns were my favourite though! All Luke did was grate a sweet potato, then fried it in a pan generously greased with sunflower spread. Nice and crispy with more flavour than the traditional hash browns.

    Lunch - Vegusto Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries


    Vegans can still enjoy burgers, especially as I have just bought some dairy-free garlic mayonnaise - which is surprisingly tasty. I used to have mayo with everything, so I am glad to have found a convincing substitute.

    I stacked my Vegusto 'Mushroom and Cheese' burger with home made guacamole, fried onion slices, Vegusto Dill Deli slices, lettuce, tomato, ketchup and mustard. 

    The chips were just thinly sliced sweet potato doused in oil (and soya sauce - which was recommended on a recipe online but didn't really work for me) and roasted for 40 mins. 

    Dinner - Vegan Pancakes with Mushrooms, Tomato & Shallots in a Creamy Sauce



    Now this tops them all - it was SENSATIONAL. Luke wouldn't let me in the kitchen to see what was cooking, so it was such a surprise when served up. Wow, seriously, amazing.

    You can find the recipe here. We didn't have soya flour and you don't really need it. A few years ago we used to make pancakes every Saturday so we know how to make a good one - but boy - these pancakes just go to prove that you don't need dairy. They were so light and tasted so similar. 

    The topping of creamy soya sauce (which I definitely prefer to the original) was perfectly blended with the sweet tomatoes and nutty mushrooms. 

    Served with a green salad lightly dressed with olive oil, lemon and salt. The perfect compliment. 

    Dessert - Mango Sorbet with Fresh Raspberries


    Just that - mango sorbet by Marine Ices with fresh raspberries. Gorgeous.

    Sunday, 1 February 2015

    Vegan of the Week - Peter Dinklage - Animal Rights Advocate


    Peter Dinklage is a brilliant actor, and also a brilliant person. The Game of Thrones star has been a vegetarian since childhood and is now an animal rights advocate.

    Watch and share this powerful video and encourage others to 'Face your food'. This is what people pay for every time they buy meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.

    Saturday, 31 January 2015

    Norman's Coach & Horses - London's First Vegetarian Pub

    I was thrilled when I found this place as I love hearty, comforting pub food.

    Norman's Coach & Horses is bang in the centre of Soho. When we arrived we thought there wasn't anywhere to sit in the small pub, then we noticed the sign above the bar saying 'Ask about our secret tea rooms'. We did just that, and were led behind the bar and up the stairs into a cute candle-lit dining room where there were plenty of seats. It was beautifully decorated in keeping with the style of the house.



    The menu was completely vegetarian with lots of vegan options. I went for the 'Tofush and chips, battered tofu and seaweed with minted peas and tartare sauce' (£11.75) as I know I will miss the veggie version using halloumi. Luke had the 'Mushroom and kidney bean burger, with lettuce, tomato, whole roasted field mushroom, onion rings and mustard relish' (£11.75). The prices were good for the centre of town.



    The portions were huge and very tasty. I surprised myself by eating the whole block of tofu - which was delicious with the seaweed coating. Nice chunky chips with fresh peas - perfect with the homemade tomato ketchup. Luke said his burger was tasty but it was difficult to eat as it kept falling apart. The humongous onion rings defeated us both though - we couldn't eat the last one! We were so full but very happy.

    The waiting staff were also so sweet - always happy to help with a smile. There was a nice laid back feel to the place too - not overly formal and it had its own sense of charm and character. I loved the 'secret' aspect of it too - felt peaceful and cosy despite being in the centre of Soho. 10/10 will visit again and again.

    Sunday, 25 January 2015

    Jai Krishna - Vegetarian Curry in Finsbury Park

    For our family meet up (excluding mam who is not very well) we went to Jai Krishna, a short walk from our house. I was looking forward to my first curry of the year - as they do not use ghee here!

    Lucky we booked, as the place was packed to the brim on Thursday night. It was my favourite kind of service; you are left alone with the menu to write down what you want, then go and present it at the desk when you are ready. We needed lots of time - as there were so many delicious dishes to choose from!

    It was also BYOB - so we popped into the Sainsburys for our drinks. Unfortunately I am doing Dry January, so couldn't drink wine. But BOY did I want to! Even my dad tried to tempt me. I didn't though.

    There was a nice atmosphere in the restaurant - the staff were friendly and relaxed - I liked the informality of ordering and the absence of 'uniforms' (no paisley waistcoats) it had a nice, honest family run vibe.

    We ordered lots of little dishes to share, including my all-time favourites sagg bhaji and tarka dahl. Wow, the table was hardly big enough when all of our order was served! It was a feast! Favourites included the pumpkin curry, jeera aloo and the divine Kachori Chat with pomegranate seeds.  You can view a menu on Zomato here.

    I forgot to take a picture at the beginning as we were all so hungry, but here is one close to the end!


    We managed to eat it all - and felt pleasantly stuffed. I think the absence of ghee meant it was easier to digest and none of us experience the 'post-curry coma' that I am used to.

    The bill came, and despite eating like kings and queens it was only £12.50 each, including tip. Needless to say I will be eating here again!

    Monday, 19 January 2015

    Vegan Roast and Successful Dairy-Free Yorkshire Puddings

    I am very lucky that one of my friends who lives close by was happy to take on the challenge of cooking a vegan roast for 5 people. I am even luckier that he is an excellent cook!

    We didn't need dairy at all - the proof, it seems, is in the (Yorkshire) puddings! They were DELICIOUS.

    vegan roast


    Here are the pictures and the recipe links.

    Portobello mushrooms in puff pastry with red onion and tomato sauce 


    Portobello mushrooms in puff pastry with red onion and tomato sauce

    Link: http://www.cookingforvegans.co.uk/veganrecipes/meals/portobellopastry.html

    Vegan Stuffing


    Vegan Stuffing

    Link: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/11/best-vegan-stuffing-thanksgiving-recipe-vegetarian.html

    Vegan Gravy


    Vegan Gravy

    (I made John this gravy boat after he told me he used to use a teapot to serve gravy in.)

    Link: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2744673/vegetarian-red-wine-gravy

    Vegan Yorkshire Puddings (The Vegan Holy Grail!)


    Vegan Yorkshire Puddings

    "follow a normal recipe and swap the milk for soy milk and for the eggs you can use 1 tsp of baking powder and one teaspoon of white vinegar for each egg"

    Edit: After a recent, even more successful roast here is an improved recipe. 

    Original link: http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?30844-Yorkshire-Pudding-recipe-that-works

    Saturday, 17 January 2015

    Vegan of the Week - Ryan Gosling - Animal Welfare Campaigner

    Ryan Gosling Animal Cruelty

    Never managed to watch The Notebook, but loved Ryan Gosling in The Place Beyond the Pines and Drive, and I love him even more after his campaigning for animal welfare.

    You can read his open letters below:

    Against the cruel practise of 'de-horning' cows here.
    Letter to KFC against cruelty to chickens here.
    A Cage is Not a Life article here.

    Oh I love him. He is my Vegan of the Week (that could be a good feature)

    Ryan Gosling Vegan

    Thursday, 15 January 2015

    Peanut Butter and The Vegan Food Thief

    This is a short post - just to say I LOVE this peanut butter by Whole Earth. It has added flax seeds which contain the all important Omega-3 essential fatty acids. It is delicious. I wish they did a crunchy one, but the seeds give it some nice texture. Perfect vegan snack on Ryvita. (EDIT: they have palm oil so boo)

    Whole Earth Peanut Butter 3 seeds


    I must share this bizarre story about my Tesco online shop, where I ordered the above and another load of vegan-friendly food. I ordered on Friday for Monday delivery, and nothing arrived. Phoned a few times to try and trace my food.

    Turns out they delivered my shopping to the wrong address (a house up the road) where it was signed for! To be fair, it was an easy mistake to make as our Victorian street names are fairly insane - but how cheeky of that house to take my shopping and not tell me! My partner knocked a couple of times but no answer. Oh well, enjoy all the free healthy vegan food.

    It ended well though, the Enfield Tesco Manager was SO helpful he actually delivered my shopping on Tuesday himself ! Very impressed with them, but not so with my neighbourhood. I might post them some sheese...

    Today I learned (TIL) Not all crisps are vegan as they can contain whey powder (milk) which came as an unpleasant surprise. However, the best crisps are still OK - Kettle Chips Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar.

    Kettle chips salt and vinegar are vegan

    Wednesday, 14 January 2015

    Vegusto Goodies and Vegan Pizza

    I received the Vegusto order yesterday and I have already put it to good use!

    For lunch I had pesto on toast again, but added some 'dill sandwich slices' which added a pleasant texture and were nice and fragrant! As I was a life time vegetarian I am not sure what it is pretending to be, but I really enjoyed them.

    vegan dill slices

    For dinner I decided to try out the 'melty' cheese. I had bought some pizza bases and tomato passata before hand, so just added some spinach leafs, pine nuts and of course the cheese. When I opened it I was slightly alarmed as it smelt reminiscent of the sheese (slightly sweet), but I need not have worried as it was delicious cooked. It didn't taste like mozzarella, but was subtle and Luke even said it was really nice. I made sure I didn't add too much, but compensated with lots of sauce and a sprinkle of olive oil. 

    Phew! Pizza is still on the menu! 

    vegan pizza

    Today I made a quick guacamole by blending one avocado, 2 cherry tomatoes and a squeeze of lemon juice. I decided to have these on my favourite 'crispbread'. Though I am not allergic to gluten, I bloody love these. They are a bit like chipsticks without the flavouring. I added some more dill slices as I enjoyed them yesterday.

    crisp bread