Sunday, 30 September 2012

Macmillan Bakesale

On the eve of Vegan MoFo 2012, it's been a weekend of baking for a Manchester Vegan Society Bakesale. My contribution was Macaroons filled with chocolate ganache (recipe from Vegan Boulangerie), Lemon Poppyseed Tealoaf, Chocolate Chip Bananabread and Gingersnap Cookies all gluten free and from the Babycakes cookbook and Peanut Butter Blondies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.

We certainly put on a good spread. I loved Tam's Madelaines on the bottom of the cakestand on the left of the pictures. She uses the same moulds to make Dalek cakes for her kids complete with an Aldi chocolate matchstick for the plunger - genius idea!

Manchester based Barrow Boys very kindly sent samples of their new range of vegan and kosher crisps. Yes, that is vegan cheese and onion on the left! I tried them all and they are great.

The weather was terrible but when does that ever keep vegans from their cake and brews. The final total was an amazing £235!

Right I'm off to get my first MoFo baking out of the oven. I've come up with themes for the different weeks. There will be a week of sweetie making (my sugar thermometer has just arrived), a week of mash recipes featuring some guest posts from Matt the 'King of Mash' and a week of beauty treatments made from food. Week one though involves my work colleagues who have selected flavour combinations from the Magic Muffin Generator.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Party, party

There's been a lot of this at work this week. I normally go in closer to 10am and finish later but living on the student bus route into Manchester means that during Freshers Week and for a few weeks after it's mayhem around my usual travel times. So I've been leaving to get in for 8.30 and taking breakfast with me with lots of overnight oats so I can just grab the jar from the fridge. The flip side is that I can finish at 4pm which has freed up essential time that I need to finish some artwork for an exhibition I'm having in a few weeks.

There was a very happy event this weekend. My nephew and niece turned two! My sister asked me to make their birthday cake using this Food Network recipe. It made a big cake and at one point I was worried that it wasn't cooking through the middle. I kept it in the oven for longer than the stated cooking time, covered the tops with foil and it turned out fine.

I was really pleased with it in the end and it seemed to go down well at the party.

The decorations are little fruit flavoured stars made by Humdinger that I picked up in Lidl. I also noticed them for sale in Aldi too this week. I finished off the sides with Humdinger White Chocolate Buttons.

I was pleased to see this lady on the buffet table. She was always a highlight of our childhood birthday parties. My gran made her from a skittle and you fill her skirt with biscuits. Check out the mini packs of vegan friendly jammy and choccy dodgers in there!

Edit: Boo just looked at a packet of the mini Jammy Dodgers and unlike the full sized ones they have Whey in them so they're not vegan - how annoying, I just don't get why companies do that! It's like Oreos being vegan in North America but nowhere else. Anyway, the Choccie Dodgers seem ok so I will be finishing the leftovers of those with my teabreaks at work this week.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Breakfast Beast

I love weekend breakfasts, they have to be one of my favourite things of the week. Breakfast at home is usually a fairly sedate affair, coffee and something like these fried mushrooms with nice seeded bread and Marks and Spencer Bubble and Squeak Cakes.

Eating out however is a different matter. I really like their vegan breakfast but this weekend I tried something new at Fuel - the Breakfast Beast! It's basically a breakfast wrapped in a burrito. You slice it open to find the different strata of sausages, beans, hash browns and mushrooms with a tomato and salsa on the side. I don't know what sausages they use but they're not Linda McCartney. They were some of the best tasting veggie sausages I've had and I suspect homemade from a mix, maybe the Unicorn veggie sausage mix which is an excellent one.

The burrito was certainly large and it was definitely good but perhaps the title of beast should go to this big boy. This is the Double Vegan Brunchfast that the Thirsty Scholar serves. It's so big you can't even see all of it - there are rashers hidden under that lot and not one but two types of potato - wedges and hashbrowns. It's definitely a challenge to finish it all!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Comfort Food

It's been a bit of a rubbish week. I finished last Friday for a week's holiday but woke up on Saturday morning with a throat infection. I managed to try and suppress it with large amounts of vitamin C and paracetamol until Tuesday when I had a hospital procedure booked in. I still felt pretty exhausted though and spent the weekend on the sofa. Luckily there were some nice comfort foods and snacks to cheer me up. This semi healthy snack tray has Inspiral Kale chips, olives + sundried tomatoes and supermarket own brand vegan friendly Frazzles type crisps.

These Dutch Stroopwafel biscuits are filled with caramel. The traditional way to eat them is to warm them up by placing them over a freshly made hot drink for a few minutes to soften the filling. It's unusual to find ones that are vegan friendly so I when I saw these in The Eighth Day and they were on offer I snapped them up.

 I have had a cough for around 8 years which started gradually but has become really chronic recently and especially bad when I try to eat. Doctors think it is linked to acid reflux but I've tried 3 medications now with no effect so I got sent for an endoscopy. It showed that I have a hiatus hernia and I've got to go back in soon for some more exploratory procedures. Not pleasant but hopefully it will get to the bottom of what is wrong as it's been making me really miserable.

After the hospital visit the cold came out in full force and it's been a yucky couple of days. I'm feeling a lot better this evening though so hopefully I'll be able to get out of the house and do something tomorrow on my last day off. One nice thing this week is that I have managed to watch the whole of the first series of Boardwalk Empire on DVD  whilst enjoying some comforting meals like the Superfood Porridge above sprinkled with goji and blueberries. Matt made me this mega roast dinner too with home made nut roast, roast parsnips, carrots, broccoli and the most amazing roast potatoes.

I'm still trying to eat lots of salads too. Sweetcorn roasted in the oven is one of my favourite things at the moment. Here it accompanied by green beans in vinagrette, chargrilled artichoke, olives stuffed with almonds, home made potato salad and a green salad with smoked tofu.

I noticed on Facebook before that the form is up for this years Vegan MoFo. Wow, it doesn't seem like a year since the last one! I've signed up to participate for the third year running. Is anyone else going to do it?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Chain, Chain, Chains

Whenever I'm in an unknown big city I'm always grateful for Wagamama, that there is one chain where I can get some good vegan food. Happily, I've just discovered another. I've been aware of the Las Iguanas chain for a few years but had never ventured inside one or looked on their website until this week. My friend Jan suggested going out for some after work Happy Hour cocktails and that's where we decided to try.

We had delicious Cana Royales made from cachaca, raspberry liqueur, elderflower and topped with cava. I am a bit of a cocktail snob but I was impressed with these. And the other good news is that they have some vegan friendly food choices too. Jan went for the Mexican Popadoms with guacamole and I had the Veggie Moqueta. This was a creamy coconut curry of sweet potato, palm hearts, sugar snap peas, peppers, garlic and tomatoes. It was accompanied by rice, plantain, salsa and toasted coconut. It was exactly the sort of curry I love, rich and flavourful and not too spicy.

At the opposite end of the scale it's great to support independent businesses, especially vegan ones. V Revolution opened in Manchester earlier this year and I'm lucky that it's round the corner from where I work. They are a record shop but also stock vegan food, drink and snacks. Plans are to also have a cafe space soon specialising in sandwiches that offer more range than just the staple of humus and roast veg. I popped in after work tonight to stock up as they had just had a Vegusto delivery. We were off to a gig so it was a quick but delicious sandwich tea of crusty bread with Vegusto picante, pear + ginger chutney, tomato and rocket, Marks and Spencers crisps and Matt's homemade potato salad that consists of new potatoes, Plamil garlic mayo and the secret ingredient of chopped capers. Yum.

Monday, 3 September 2012

For Your Convenience

Not a great deal of cooking went on this weekend. The most effort went into the breakfasts. Saturday was brunch with a good friend with Bucks Fizz to start us off.

The cooked breakfast consisted of sausages, beans,  rosemary roasted potatoes from Vegan Brunch and Mushroom Tofu Scramble from Vegan With a Vengeance. I think those two have to be my most used vegan cookbooks.

To finish with was tea and coffees and croissants from a tin, half plain and half made into pain au chocolat.

Saturday night we tried a new Glossop takeaway called Fusion Wok. It is one of those ones where you choose your protein, then the sauce and the rice/noodles etc. We went for mock chicken with ginger and spring onion and tofu in a teriaki sauce. They made us fried rice without egg in it which was impressive. It set us up for a night out watching a Spinal Tap tribute band which was great fun. Sunday breakfast was a bowl of Superfood porridge. This included mashed banana, maple syrup, raisins, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.

Suitably fortified we went for a mooch around big Tesco. Matt's nephew and his girlfriend were up in Manchester for a Saturday night party and were calling round for before heading back to Nottingham. We went in search of something quick and easy for tea. Matt was very excited to discover these!

I was more excited to discover this. And on offer too, and seconds before I'd been saying how I wished I lived in America and could get coconut milk based icecream!

It was unusal, not what I was expecting, but very nice. I thought it almost had a taste of honey to it, although it is vegan there is none in the ingredients. We served it with this lemon and coconut cake. I halved the Lemon and Coconut Bundt Cake recipe from Veganomicon and baked it in a loaf tin.

This is what we picked for tea in the end. Falafel balls served in burger buns, with humus, sweet chilli sauce, caramelised red onions, salad and potato wedges on the side.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

A Simple Lunch

These days I nearly always take a packed lunch to work and eat it sitting at my desk. Yesterday I went out for lunch for a change. I'd eaten half of the sandwich before I remembered to take the picture! I was impressed with this toasted foccacia bread with vegan mozarella, spinach and sweet potato served with wedges and a salad garnish. They also made a great soya latte. The venue was Simple Bar in the Northern Quarter, an area of Manchester which caters well for vegans. They also offer another vegan sandwich, a breakfast and a Sunday lunch.