Friday, 29 May 2009

People for dinner.

I live at home with my parents at the moment. While I love them, and enjoy cooking for them on a regular basis, it does make having friends over for dinner when they are home a bit awkward. It feels wrong to banish them away from the table when we are eating up a vegan storm of nom, but who wants to have their parents at every dinner party? Every now and then, however, they will go away or go out and I will not be on call. When this happens, it is dinner party time!

The last time this happened was a couple of months ago, and I had the lovely Jen and Freddy (soon to be a Mr and Mrs on the 6th of June!) over for dinner. I've cooked dinner for them a few times before, and it is always a lot of fun!

This is what was for dinner this most recent time:

Artichoke and Root Vegetable Gratin from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. Pretty nice, but not particularly filling on its own - even after I added some extra potatoes and parsnips. But makes a great side!

Which it did! I served it with Garlicky-Herb Marinated Tofu (also from Vegan Planet), a green salad and fresh bread rolls.

Dessert was Apple and Berry Crumble from Now Vegan by Lynda Stoner. Which didn't really crumble! The topping mixture is WAY to runny to ever be considered a crumble. So I hoped maybe it would turn out sort of like a cobbler instead. But it didn't quite, it never truly seemed to bake and was still a bit gloopy even after baking for a bit longer than required. It was still nice and yummy, but it just didn't have the texture one wants.

Served with So Good Vanilla Chai soy ice-cream, which is a perfect complement to every dessert! Hee.

Just a short post today because it is late and I have to work in the morning (an on-call weekend, boo), but lots more still to come!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Nice girls CAN get the corner office!

According to Mistake #27 of 'Nice girls don't get the corner office: Unconscious mistakes women make that sabotage their careers' (oh yes, what a fabulous gem to have found in someone's dusty corner), unless you are Betty Crocker you shouldn't feel people at work. It makes people think of you as their nurturing mother and they will never take you seriously enough to promote you. To this I say: 'WHATEVER!'. I say that nice girls CAN have the corner office, or whatever the equivalent is. I don't actually have any offices at my work, so I am not sure what I am after. But I say that we can bake for our workmates, and be taken seriously in our jobs while being worshipped for being baking goddesses and covertly spreading vegan love. Who's with me!

With this in mind, here is a very large post of some of the delightful little morsels I have taken in to work, which are always much loved and well received. Strap yourselves in!

Jam-Print Cookies from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton. These cookies are really nice, they are made with barley and oat flour and crushed walnuts, which give them a fabulous crunchy texture with that faint afterglow of eating something a bit healthy! The recipe said it made 11-13 cookies (I find this amusing) but for me it made 18 what I consider to be regular sized cookies.

Chocolate Rice Crispy Squares from How It All Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard. Oh. My. God. These are so good! They are way better than any of those horrid rice crackles you used to have as kids. These have peanut butter in them! Please make them and try them! This recipe fills a 9x13 inch pan and is meant to make 6 large and 12 small squares. To that I fall around on the ground and laugh hysterically. Maybe if you were an insane sugar fiend. I tend to cut these up into either 30 squares or 60 bite sized pieces.

Maple Walnut Brownies from How It All Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard. These were nice but a little bit on the dry side. Brownies should be smooshy! I replaced the walnuts with pecans, because I much prefer them.

Simple Oatmeal Cookies from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer. Sorry for the blurry picture. These cookies were good in that they weren't super sweet, but a bit meh overall. I had to bake them for a bit extra but they were still quite soft.

Wolffie's Snickerdoodles from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer. Squeee! Another very happy result. It was the first time ever eating or making snickerdoodles, and can I say that I am sorry I have waited so long. Cookie + cinnamon sugar = gold! The recipe calls for far too much cinnamon sugar than is needed to coat the cookies, but I kept the extra for sprinkling on banana and PB on toast. Double nom.

Stephanie's White Diamond Cookies from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer. My first time using vegan white chocolate. Not that horrid Sweet William crud, but I used some rice milk stuff. And can I say, I didn't like white chocolate when I wasn't vegan and I don't like the vegan stuff any better. Why would you make something without coco powder? It shouldn't be allowed to call itself chocolate. OK,rant over. You can see that these cookies kind of were soft and droopy. Even with extra baking time. White chocolate aside, they were tasty - chocolate and PB always is. But while the people at work enjoyed them, I wished they would have kept their shape!

Banana Walnut Bars from The Garden of Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard. Another super NOM recipe. These were a huge hit with everyone at work and vanished before lunchtime! Cinnamon sugar baked into the top is what makes these extra five star yummy!

Maureen's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Garden of Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard. I used the last of my stash of Tropical Source chocolate chips on these. And they are lovely. The recipe has the option of using either soft tofu or banana, I suggest using the banana to add an extra layer of lovely flavour. Also, it claimed to make 10-14 cookies, I got 30. Do American's like their cookies and the like REALLY big?

Anne's Molasses Cookies from The Garden of Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard. These were nice, though quite cakey in texture. I love molasses, and apparently so do the kids at work. Its not just for the ponies.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. These were really nice oaty cookies, just what you want with a glass of milk. Very comforting.

Cranberry-Walnut Oatmeal Cookies from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. Tasty little morsels, though I often find the dried cranberries we can get here to be a bit too sweet for me. Oh yeah, and I of course made them with pecans!

Mom's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies - Only Better from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. These cookies are excellent. Five stars!

Sparkled Ginger Cookies from Vegan With A Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. These cookies are absolutely fabulous. I have made them so many times, and they are easy to make and work perfectly every single time.

Glazed Orange Scones from Vegan With A Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I made these for an afternoon tea party with my friends, which was held at work while I was on call and the left overs were left for the girls the next day. The icing is quite sweet and makes twice as much as you need, be careful adding the orange juice because it gets runny fast. Also, though dough was too sticky for me to roll into rounds and slice, so I jut plopped it down. They were yummy!

Macadamia Blondies with Caramel-Maple Topping from Vegan With A Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. These are seriously yummy, but with the price of macadamias are definitely an every now and then treat - it uses 2 1/4 cups. They are gooey and delicious, and were raved about by the fussiest person at work (to be fair, it is her issue not mine that she doesn't like any fruit or vegetables or nuts or anything not meat and starch, but still it was great to make something she could enjoy as well!).

Chewy-Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. These are great little cookies, and the hold up really well making them ideal for cookie swaps, presents and road trips. Plus, what's not to love about chocolate and raspberry?

Pistachio-Rose Water Cookies from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. These are amazing! The people at work loved them because of their different yet highly addictive taste. You re meant to roll the cookies, flatten them and press the top into chopped pistachios but I found that my dough wasn't stiff enough for this. I mixed the pistachios into the dough instead. Fabulous stuff.

And so ends the current list. I have been baking up a storm of late so I have even more photos on my camera waiting to be uploaded, but if I kept on waiting until I had everything uploaded I would never make this post! And yes, the kids at work will be getting a new batch of cookies tomorrow! Baking for other people is fun, so to the book I say 'Nya', I am a vegan baking goddess and proud of it. You should be proud to be one too! (Plus, people totally love you... hee).

Monday, 25 May 2009

Recipe Round Up: Vegan Planet

More photos to upload and share! Today I thought I might do a bit of a Vegan Planet (by Robin Robertson) round up. But I have so many photos, this is not yet all of them! So today's pictures all have an Asian-type theme.

Hoisin-Braised Baby Bok Choy with Shiitake Mushrooms. I think served here with Asian Marinated Tofu (from Vcon/VWAV) and jasmine rice. Tasty! It is rather sweet, so a nice savoury marinated tofu is a fantastic side.

Pad Thai. Very yummy and satisfying. Mmmmm. I added some chopped green beans as suggested for extra green stuff and adding a fresh lime or lemon wedge to squeeze all over is great.

Teriyake-Glazed Tempeh. Served with some Vcon Easy Stir-Fried Greens and rice. I love, love, love, love this! It is so juicy and tasty. It would also be fabulous as a sandwich filling, a bit of a variation on tempeh bacon. The Easy Stir-Fried Greens were a bit spicy but nice and tasty.

Udon-Shiitake Stir-Fry with Sake and Ginger. Served with edamame in the pod and Asian BBQ marinated tofu (also from Vegan Planet). This is another love, love, love, love it recipe! It is just absolutely divine. Make it now!

Mahogany Eggplant. Served with Asian Marinated BBQ and The Complete Vegan Cookbook's Wasabi Mashed Potato. OK, so apparently I am saying the word LOVE a lot in this post. But again, I love this! It makes a small amount, enough for four side servings. The flavour is insanely tasty!

Sesame Soba Noodles. With Marinated Tofu #2 from Vegan Vittles. This was very nice. Definite like, though not quite up with the LOVE of the last three! I took out the icky capsicum and used an extra carrot and some extra peas to make up for it. I think it would be nice with zucchini as well.

Indonesia-Style Rice with Tempeh. This is the Vegan Planet version of nasi goreng, and is very nice. The red stuff you see on it is Asian chili sauce. My mother can't at chili at the moment, so I omitted it from the recipe and my father and I added chili sauce on ours.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Menu: Hearty Sicilian Supper from The Vegan Gourmet

Menu time again! You know how I love a menu, and this one was outstanding. It is called 'Hearty Sicilian Supper' and it is from The Vegan Gourmet.

This is Mushroom, Radish and Celery Salad with Lemon and Garlic. I have mixed up green leaves into it rather than serve it on lettuce leaves, because that is what floats my boat. It's a really nice combintion of subtle flavours. And it keeps for a couple of days for you to take to work or school.

I was very excited a while ago when I found some bucatini (or Tubular Spaghetti according to the packet) so I could make this dish - Bucatini with Green Beans, Tomatoes and Olives. It's a yummy, satisfying dish and looks great in a great big shallow bowl for people to serve themselves out of. Nom!

The surprise star of this menu, though, was undoubtedly Braised Turnips with Chives and Parsley. First I had to go on a turnip hunt, as it was only just coming into season for them. But success! This recipe is really simple, but something about the flavour and the texture and the smell is just utter outstanding!

And here it is, all plated up! There were also some bread roll, that aren't pictures here but they were a great addition as well. I give this menu five starts, and definitely suggest making it if you have this book.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Recipe Round-Up: Vegan Cooking For One

As previously mentioned, I have a ridiculously HUGE backlog of food photos on my computer, so I figured the best way to deal with them would be to do some recipe round-ups from my cookbooks. Of which there are many, and they continue to grow (damn you Borders and your occasional really good discount coupons!). Hee.

Today's cookbook is Vegan Cooking For One, by Leah Leneman. Even though I have been a vegan cooking for one for several years until I moved back home at the end of 2008, I must admit that I resisted buying this book for a long time. It was more about the sadness of the title, cooking for one, and the implication in the blurb on the back that vegans cooking for one a a sad, time pressed species. Which is of course, rubbish and I am undoubtedly being over sensitive. And it is true that there are many vegans, be the single or the only vegan in their household, that need to cook for themselves alone.

I ended up buying this book with one of the above mentioned Borders coupons. Buy three cookbooks and only pay for two? Hell yeah! Plus I have another of Leah's books, Easy Vegan Cooking, which has some lovely stuffy in it! The book is divided into Summer/Spring and Winter/Autumn recipe sections, which don't seem to be that relevant. It is presented into week long menu plans, and includes a shopping list at the start of each week. Which would be handy for some, but for me I just pick out the individual recipes I want to make. I have only made a few of the recipes in this book thus far. I tend to save them for days when I'm cooking for myself or only two of us. It is very easy to multiply ingredients to increase the number of servings. The recipes I have made range from absolutely delectable to satisfying. I find the serving sizes to be pretty large! You need to add vegetables to most of these, which Leah points out by recommended each recipe be served with steamed vegetables or a side salad. Otherwise you shall all get scurvy and die! Or something like that. ;)

So here are some of the recipes I have made thus far:

Creamy Pasta with Mushrooms and Walnuts. The cream sauce here is a little bit bland. I improved it immensley by ading buckets of my beloved nooch. That stuff is so gooood! I also added some peas and baby spinach leaves to the mix, to increase my greens. Also, nuts in pasta doesn't excite me overmuch, though that is my issue - not the recipe's. I think on its own it would have been a bit blergh, but with a few easy additions it makes a happy little dinner indeed.

Gado Gado. This is a tasty if not particularly authentic or exciting Gado Gado. The sauce is peanutty, but nice and tangy.

Spaghetti with Bean and Caper Sauce. This was tasty, though you can see from the size of the bowl was a huge serving of spaghetti! Next time I shall make it with less, which I normally do with most recipes anyway. 500g (1 pound) of dry pasta for 4 people? Too much! Too much! Anyway, off topic. I replaced the green capsicum (ewwww) with zucchini (hurrah) and served with some steamed broccoli for extra green stuff.

Potato and Lentil Bake. NOM! This was one of the delectable recipes I was referring to before. It is pretty simple, but is just one of those moreish type things. Interestingly, it is in the Summer/Spring section, but I would make this on any chilly night! The base is sliced potatoes. And the top is a stew made from red lentils, mushrooms, onion, tomato paste, Nuttelex, flour, soy milk and basil. All baked until delicious and ready for your tummy! And served with lots of vegetables on the side to keep the nasty scurvy at bay.

Tofu and Vegetables in BBQ Sauce. This was a tasty little dish. The tofu is frozen then defrosted to give it that nice chewy texture. The sauce is a very simple homemade BBQ sauce - nothing out of a squeezy bottle. I did make double the quantity of the sauce though, otherwise it would have been a bit dry. Served over cous cous and enjoyed.

Cauliflower and Pea Curry. This was originally meant to be just for me and the parentals, then the brother and his girlfriend declared their presence. So I have added some cubed potato to it to fill it out. It was really nice, and enjoyed by all! Served over brown basmati rice with some Mango and Paw Paw Chutney and, my favourite, Tamarind Chutney. And a teeny smidge of Lime Chilli Pickle. Which is insanely hot. Hee.

Greek Style Zucchini and Chickpea Stew. Another Summer/Spring recipe that I happily made on a nippy autumn evening. This is really tasty and satisfying. I changed the ingredients slightly to make it for 4 people, increasing the quantities of things and changing the fresh tomatoes to tinned tomatoes. I also added garlic. Just because everything should have garlic if possible.

So there you have it, as I said, I haven't made that many recipes yet! Which is why it seemed an easy place to start clearing out the backlog! So stay tuned for more picture heavy posts as I continue to share and share and share. I've also been renaming and resorting all my food photos. While I may be slightly OCD about this, it does mean I am getting a fabulously organised resource of food pictures. So yay!

Finally I wanted to say that I have been pretty slack about posting comments on peoples blog, largely in part to being busy with my Masters and so having huge catch up blog reading sessions as opposed to the previous daily meanderings. But please know I am still reading and enjoying, even if I haven't been able to post! I will get on top of it all eventually. Famous last words.

Hope everyone is having a lovely time!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Menu: A Spicy Autumn Feast from The Vegan Gourmet

An UK-free post. And believe me, do I have a HUGE backlog of fun and games to be posting. This menu, A Spicy Autumn Feast, came from the book The Vegan Gourmet.

The first component of this night's delightful menu was Spicy Black-Eyed Peas and Rice. I cheated because I felt like it an I cooked the brown rice in our rice cooker, I just threw in the bay leaf and salt needed at the beginning of the cooking time. I also made slightly less rice than required, because I could tell it would make too much for us. When I was sauteeing, I made sure to add in lots of black pepper, just like a Southern cook would apparently typically do. I really liked this for a combination. It was tasty and really satisfying.

The real star of the show, though, was the fabulous stew! Potato, Zucchini and Olive Stew with Garlic, Jalapenos and Rice. NOM! It was really, really yummy. Especially with the olives in there. Just fabulous for a cool night!

Here they are together, served with a side of baby spinach dressed with orange-cumin vinaigrette as suggested. I used the orange-cumin recipe from The Complete Vegan Cookbook, which was the first cookbook by these people. All up this was a great menu and I really enjoyed it. It was really filling and I would certainly suggest anyone with the book try it out!

Monday, 4 May 2009

UK 2009 - And then it was over.

It's been a few days since I've last blogged, I had planned to have this wrapped up by now. I was working on my Masters, I had an actual meeting on Friday so I kind of had to ignore my fun procrastinations like this blog. But never fear, let's finish this thing!

After our adventures, I had one day left in London. We went and hung out at the Natural History Museum, then met up once again with my vegan friend Nicole (last seen at the Brighton Vegan Fayre). For lunch, we went and did a second take at Red Veg, which Nicole is just in love with.

So, here it is! It's a veganised Mushroom Veg Burger (yummy patty with mushrooms, vegan mayo and without the Swiss cheese), with some more of those delectable wedges and some Spicy Baby Corn Firesticks. I had heard much of these Firesticks, but to be honest I found them too deep fried and not very spicy. But the burger and the wedges were the stuff of vegan fast food dreams, and I have craved them often since.

After lunch, Nic took us to the Hunterian Museum, where we saw things in glass jars (very cool) and then Jen and I took Nic girly shopping at places like Accessorize and Monsoon and draped her in beautiful pink dresses. Hee. We also went into about a zillion tacky tourist shops, looking for tacky tourist presents for me to take home. For dinner, we scouted out a placed called Mildred's. We arrived just in time because that place fills up fast and they don't take reservations!

My starter was the Gyoza dumplings with mirin and soy dipping sauce (£5.25), which was lovely and tasty.

Nicole had the Tostada with grilled courgette and aubergine, lettuce, pico de gallo and guacamole (£5.25), which as you can see looks amazing!

And Jen had some Sweet potato fries with sour cream (£4.75), which were also greatly enjoyed (though without the sour cream for Nic and I, of course).

Nic and I both got the same main. It is the Mixed mushroom, porcini and ale pie served with fries and mushy peas (£8.75). It was really nice, though I think it could have been a bit more mushroomy! Hee.

For dessert, I got the Chocolate and raspberry truffle torte (£4.75), which was amazing. It was just like a thick block of chocolate mousse. So rich, so scrumptious! Even though the other two claimed they were too full for another bite, they both managed to help me out with this little lovely. Nom!

One thing about Mildred's is that there is a big queue forming for the dinner rush,. Because of this, you can feel a little bit hurried at times. Unfortunately for the waiters, most of the tables were full of groups of girls like us. And groups of girls do not do a dine and dash! After dinner, we rolled our way home.

The next day it was farewell to London, and hello to the plane. Which meant more plane food!

Shortly after take off we got this lovely thing for lunch/dinner. The potatoes and the beans were quite lovely, the pumpkin and spinach predictably watery. The salad was interesting and had cous cous. It was pretty good.

The thing is, I left London at 12pm and it is a 14 hour flight. However, because you get into Singapore in the morning, they decide to switch off the lights shortly after you have eaten this course and then they don't feed you again until the end! There are some snacks you can request, but they don't seem to consider them for vegans. Woe! So for the love of your stomach and your sanity - take some food with you for snacking!

Finally, they brought me this. Faint from hunger though I was, this paled in comparison to the breakfast of awesome I got on my way to London. Those croquette looking things were pretty blah and bland. But at least it was food.

Here ends my photo journey. Upon arriving in Singapore I started feeling really quite ill, and really quite desperate to be home, so I have to say that I didn't take photos of the next leg. Not that you have missed much. The lunch was a few strips of capsicum on some pasta (I got rid of the hated capsicum and just ate the pasta on its own) with no sauce and some salad. And for the snack just before we landed, they actually didn't have a vegan meal. They bought me a roast veggie sandwich with mayo, and when I asked if it was vegan they really couldn't say. So the lovely cabin man was so apologetic, and he brought me a banana, a pear and a couple of bread rolls at my request. Which was fine, because I was almost home.

And then I landed. And I went home. And my mum made Rogan Josh for dinner. And I was reunited with my cats. And I slept.

The End.

Except for the jet lag!

Thanks for reading through all my ramblings. I hope you enjoyed looking at the food as much as I enjoyed eating it! It truly was a delightful journey, both with food, sights and most of all, the company of my beloved Jen.

Now I can get back to blogging the hundreds of back logged photos I have! So be prepared for a storm.