Review: No Bull Burgers and Other Iceland Vegan Treats

UK vegan bloggers, social media users, and just about everyone else has been talking about the meaty-tasting and meaty-textured No Bull Burgers from Iceland. It’s been a big deal, especially at £2 for a 2 pack. I’m not usually one to shop at Iceland because I like to pretend I cook everything from fresh. Which I don’t, but I feel like shopping at a frozen food place would be admitting that. Here we go then, off to try the vegan food of Iceland.

First up, the No Bull Burgers. The texture is reminiscent of a beef burger but softer. I would have liked a bit more bite myself. As you can see from the pan pic they have the look down but it doesn’t really translate when cooked. Only the outside browns so it’s still pink in the middle. I know that doesn’t matter. It’s still cooked but when you’ve spent your childhood avoiding eating meat that’s pink in the middle it messes with your head a little. Because of that it’s not my favourite burger but it’s a solid choice. Especially at the price.

Of course I couldn’t just stop at the burgers. While I was in there I picked up four dishes from the Mumbai Street Co range. 4 for £2. Why not? The rice in the range has milk in it so instead I made some in the Instant Pot to go with my selections. Let’s start it’s the Tandoori Shashlik. Because it’s worth starting with. Packed to bursting full of lovely veggies in a rich sauce. The bhajis, apparently from Calcutta, are crisp and satisfying.

Next up I piled Gobi Dhansak and Chennai Dhal onto a plate. The Chennai Dhal is good, I can’t say a bad word about it. The Gobi Dhansak however is amazing. Perfect sweet and sour sauce, lentils and more of that lovely, lovely veg. There’s some good stuff in Iceland right now and I’m happy to support them as they’ve made a commitment to reducing plastic packaging and have a yummy vegetable Dhansak.

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Review: vegan fudge from Roly’s

Before we went vegan I loved fudge. Not the sickly sweet, strangely smooth substance made by Cadbury and the other confectionery giants, but the crumbly stuff the Scots call tablet. I learnt how to make it one summer, and treated my workmates to a different flavour each week. I’ve experimented with different oils to try to make vegan fudge: coconut oil fudge was too brittle and greasy, while cocoa butter fudge showed promise but needs works. Fortunately you don’t have to wait for me to perfect the recipe: Roly’s Fudge have beaten me to it.

fudge

As they describe on their blog, it’s made from coconut oil, soy milk, and cashew butter, and comes in two flavours: maple and cashew, and salted maple and pecan. The pecan one has pieces of pecan in it, while the cashew one is just fudge. They have same crumbly texture I remember from their non-vegan fudge, and the price is the same too. Clare picked up a bag of each in Dartmouth, and as she doesn’t like fudge I had the whole lot to myself; they lasted almost a day, as I alternated between them trying to work out which was more delicious. I think I might need another couple of bags before deciding. If there’s a Roly’s near you then pop in for some (tip: they also do vegan ice cream), and if not you can order online.

Sampling Linda McCartney’s Christmas Offering: Vegetarian Beef Roast With Red Wine & Shallot Glaze

Christmas is coming and the pestering has started. We’re asked almost ever other day what we’ll be having for Christmas dinner. We’re going to my in-laws this year. That means spuds and vegetables are taken care of and we just need to provide a meat substitute. So it’s time to get sampling.

This week we’ve tried the Vegetarian Beef Roast that’s new to the Linda McCartney range this year. It comes in it’s own roasting thin so it can easily slide in the already full Christmas Oven. When it’s done you turn it out and out plops your beefy roast, glazed and ready to be carved. I was pleased to be able to get the slices nice and thin, like roast beef.

cookedbeef
Beefy?

So what of the taste? Fairly beefy, though it still has a beady texture. If you looked at the picture and think it looks like a loaf shaped version of the sausages then you would be right. I wasn’t a fan of the glaze, I found the red wine overwhelming, but you can’t really taste it unless you are nibbling along the bottom edge.

beef
Roast Dinner

It’s edible, and it’s not unpleasant but it didn’t exactly blow me away. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t the worlds greatest fan of beef in the first place. I wouldn’t mind eating this again and unlike a lot of the other Christmas roast options it’s easy to find in regular supermarkets but it’s not going to win a spot on out Christmas plate.

The White Rabbit Pizza Co. Smokin’ Vegan

When we hear about a vegan product being launched in the UK we just sort of assume it will take a while to filter down here to Devon. So I heard about these pizzas long before I got to try one. The White Rabbit Pizza Co. makes gluten free pizzas, two of which are vegan. One of them has made it onto the shelves of our local Sainsbury’s.


Okay, let’s get one thing out of the way. This is not a low cost vegan option. When I got mine it cost £5 which is about the same as a chilled Pizza Express pizza. It’s the same sort of size too. As it’s vegan, gluten free and organic it’s going to cost a bit more to make but that does mean I can’t afford it all that often. 


Let’s talk taste, then. I was pleased with the amount of toppings. Pepper and olives will always make me happy. The cheese didn’t taste all that smokey to me, disappointing because I love smokey cheese, but it is nice and creamy. As for the base, well you have to remember that it’s gluten free. It’s not a chewy, bready base. It’s rather cracker like but it is tasty. 

All in all it’s a solid weeknight meal option. 

Tried and Tested: New Vegan Ready Meal Options at Waitrose.

The theme for mini mofo (the miniature, monthly spin off from the vegan month of food) is lazy. Which is fantastic. What a time to be alive for the lazy vegan in Torquay. We can buy our lunch from The Kind Grind, order pizza or ring for an Indian. Just because we can’t be arsed doesn’t mean we’re forced to eat hummus. No, I eat hummus because I choose to eat hummus. Still there are a few gaps in the market. For instance, what do you do on nights when you have enough energy to turn on the oven but not awake enough for food prep? Well now we have some new ready meal options.

3 bean chilli

Waitrose announced a new range of ready meals for vegetarians that included, for the first time in the UK, meat from the Vegetarian Butcher. They’ve started to arrive in the local branch on St Mary Church Road so it’s time to see what this means for vegans. For starters it means options! Choices. You can have a Rainbow Vegetable Stew, a Green Thai Curry, Three Bean Chilli and Couscous, or Vegetarian Chilli with Rice. Each weigh in at £3. We went for the Green Thai Curry and The Rainbow Vegetable Stew.

green thai

Desperate to get our hands on some of that Vegetarian Butcher meat we went for the Green Thai Curry. The chicken did have an incredible texture, appearance and flavour. it wasn’t exactly like chicken but its the closest I’ve ever seen. Very impressive. The rest of the curry was a bit meh. We both found that our curry was full of big chinks of chicken and big chunks of bamboo shoot but it only had three or four small pieces of french bean. It made it seem really unbalanced. The sauce also seemed really heavy to me and could really have used some crunch french beans to lighten it up.

rainbowstew

The Rainbow Stew, in contrast, was full of veggies. Mostly squash, bits of beetroot and kale to round out the rainbow. It was all served in a lovely tomato sauce with gorgeous little lentils in their to fill you up. For my taste the vegetable were a bit under done. Textbook al dente, but I generally want more of a melt in the mouth quality in a stew. The variety of texture, flavour, and – of course – colour from the different veggie worked well.

All in all I’d eat either of them again, though I might wait for a sale. I felt a little let down, though that might just be my expectations. These are ready meals after all. Keeping in mind that they are ready meals, they are good ready meals. Worth stashing in the freezer for a rainy day.

Practice Run For Christmas: Vegan Mofo Day 30

This will be our first Christmas as vegans but not our first Christmas without a cheese plate. We were lucky enough to win a selection box of Tyne Chease in one of the official Mofo give-aways. As you can imagine we were very excited. We played them all up for lunch and tucked it, contemplating which ones to order for our Christmas cheese board.


We got a miniature wheel of each cheese. They are really small but once unwrapped and on the plate we saw how much cheese we really had. Gathering together our crackers, our knives and a notebook it was time to eat.

Original 

With all these amazing flavours it could be easy to overlook the original flavour. It’s soft, creamy and a little tart. It’s soft enough to spread but solid enough to keep it’s shape if you prefer.

Garlic


We had mixed reactions to the garlic. Kate thought it was too strong. I thought it wasn’t strong enough. It does have a nice flavour but it wasn’t our favourite.

Pink Peppercorn 


The pink peppercorn had a great amount of punch. It was bright, uplifting and zesty. It also looks absolutely amazing.

Ethiopian Spice


Beautiful! Perfectly spiced with a hint of smoke. There is a perfect balance of the spice topping and cheese.

Dill


Herby with a fresh, light taste. Makes me instantly crave a bagel to spread it on.

Za’atar


We didn’t enjoy this one as much as the Ethiopian Spice. It’s a little acidic, a little sweet and beautifully spiced.

Sun Dried Tomatoes 


This had chunks of sun dried tomato throughout which Kate found off putting. I though it gave the cheese a lovely umami taste.

Chilli


My favourite, but too hot for Kate. It’s hot and a little sweet. I think it’s delicious.

Mustard


Another difference of opinion. Kate didn’t think it had much of a mustardy taste. Probably a good thing as she doesn’t like mustard. I do like mustard and though it had just enough to give it a pleasing punch without being overpowering.

Smoked


My love of all the smoked things has been well documented. So I loved this cheese. Kate loved this cheese. It’s delicious.

All of the cheeses were amazing and we’re so glad we got to try then. So what are we going to do for Christmas? Probably put in an order for the smoked, Ethiopian spiced and pink peppercorn. Delicious.

Unconventional Grains: Vegan Mofo Day 23

It worries me that this is the 3rd time I’ve brought up Ikea this mofo. I’m slightly obsessed. There’s furniture, fabrics, kitchenware and a suppringing amount of vegan food. Last time I was there I picked up this packet of grains and this is a perfect excuse to break them out and try them.


The packet promises a mix of grains – rye, wheat, barley, oats – flavoured with wild garlic, lemon, jalapeño and lingonberry. But you can read that on the bag, so what does it taste like? Well mostly grainy. I didn’t really pick up any of the flavourings over the nuttiness of the grains. I like lit but I could have done with a stronger taste of the wild garlic.


In future I’d serve this with a strong tasting slab of marinated tofu. Something with lots of chilli or covered in barbecue sauce. Throw in some greens and it’s would be a decent meal.