Mary Blair Inspired Cookies (Vegan MoFo 2018)

I’m in the middle of Disney planning so the first thing that came to mind when the vegan mofo prompt was to be inspired by an artist was Mary Blair, specifically the mosaic in the contemporary. Though in the end I settled on the art for It’s A Small World because I thought it would be easier to decorate cookies inspired by this.

So I baked sugar cookies and drew up diagrams and mixed up icing. The intention was for six beautiful individually designed edible tiles using motifs from the picture. So as you probably notice there are only three tiles. Two with the same design. Yep. It’s my annual attempt at icing that goes badly. I am not a gifted decorator. Still I kind of enjoyed the challenge.

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A Riverford recipe (Vegan Mofo 2018)

Today’s Vegan Mofo theme is food inspired by the “leader of a country, place, or group”. That sounds a little nationalistic to me, and after the Aung San Suu Kyi affair I’m struggling to see much inspiring in our current batch of national leaders (although I’m cautiously optimistic about Jacinda Ardern). So I’m going to write about a different kind of leader, and one more obviously connected to food: Guy Singh-Watson of Riverford.

Guy converted his family farm here in Devon over to organic framing in the 1980s, and started delivering vegetable boxes to friends and family. Thirty years later Riverford delivers almost 50,000 veg boxes each week all over the UK. For many companies that kind of expansion would lead to a creeping managerialism and inoffensive polished marketing, but Guy has keep Riverford true to its principles and a little rough around the edges. Each weekly veg box comes with a little newsletter containing recipes, ideas, and — most importantly — Guy’s News. Guys writes on topics ranging from local problems on the farm to big global issues such as pesticide use and climate change, and he isn’t afraid to share his strong opinions. It’s not just talk either: long before Blue Planet II brought the issue of single-use plastics into the British public consciousness, Riverford commissioned the University Of Exeter to investigate the sustainability of Riverford’s packaging.

The most significant development in Riverford’s history happened on 8th June this year. After years of ignoring offers from potential investors who were only interested in the company’s profit-making potential, Guy transferred 74% of the business into an employee trust, guaranteeing Riverford’s values will be be protected into the future.

And now for the food. When Riverford sends us green beans, I make this ragú (minus the Parmesan). It may not be much to look at, but the slow-cooked beans and tomatoes have a wonderful flavour. Clare isn’t keen on the farinata (chickpea pancake) so has her half on pasta instead.

ragu-farinata

Recipe: Curry Rice (Vegan Mofo 2018)

Today’s theme for Vegan Mofo is Emoji Inspired. It’s a pretty good opportunity to dust off my recipe for Curry Rice.

with emoji

When I started my adventure in Japanese-style curry I was following this recipe from Just Hungry. What sold me on it was the description: “The best way to describe it is probably to say it’s like a English style stew with curry.” So I thought it would be something like a more filling version of chip shop curry. Which it is. I love it.

Along the way I’ve made plenty of adjustments. To start with I took the meat out. Today we’ve used a seitan but I also like to use cubes of fried tofu. This has the side effect of making the dish quicker to cook.

I also like to muck around with the veg. We eat this curry fairly regularly between autumn and spring, often to use up the last of the root veg in our Riverford Box. I’ve used carrot, squash, sweet potato, swede, turnip… anything really. It’s a really good clean-out-the-fridge meal. I also sometimes use edamame instead of peas, just because Kate likes them better.

curry mix

And finally I do use blocks of Japanese curry, instead of making my own roux. I like S&B because you can find it practically everywhere now (or order from Japan Centre) but I use double the amount. After all this is my Cheating English Lady’s Japanese Curry.

Ingredients

(serves 2)

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can of tomatoes, blended
  • One cup of assorted mixed root veggies, diced
  • Two squares of S&B Golden Curry
  • Half a cup of diced beef-style seitan or cubes of deep fried tofu or more veggies
  • Half a cup of peas or edamame
  • Rice to serve

Brown the onion in oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds or so.

Add the tomatoes into the pan. Toss in the root veggies, curry and around 1 1/2 cups of water.

uncooked

Cook until the vegetables are done. This will be around 20-30 minutes depending on what veggies you put in and how done you like them (Kate prefers hers mushy and textureless but I’m doing the cooking so…)

Add the seitan or tofu and the peas or edamame and cook for a further 5 minutes or so until they are heated through.

Serve with rice.

IMG_1071

 

Vegan MoFo 2018: Introducing me!

It’s another Vegan MoFo and it’s time to introduce myself. I guess. So here we go. In list form to make it easier.

1. I’m from town called Heywood, which is to the north of Manchester.

2. My favourite food is still the chips and curry from the chippy there. Lots of vinegar.

3. I live in Torquay in Devon where I just can’t find a decent chip shop.

4. I’m an obsessive trip planner. When we went to London for an afternoon I made a map to show me were to get a snack, a meal and all the shops we wanted to go to. For my upcoming Disney trip I have meals booked, to do lists for the attractions and note on what outfits to wear to which park.

5. I am, however, remarkably disorganised in everyday life.

6. I like visiting supermarkets. Especially on holiday. They are fascinating. Also they stock food.

7. I work in a Vegan Coffee Shop. Oat, Almond, Soy or Coconut?

8. My favourite drink is hot chocolate. Because it’s made of chocolate.

9. I like to do complicated, multi step cooking projects. Equally I like to order a take away.

10. Someone really needs to start delivering a cheesy vegan pizza around here!

Recipe: hot chocolate dessert

Today is the Late Summer Bank Holiday in England and Wales. The phrase ‘late summer’ might give you visions of evenings on the beach, putting on a fleece as the sun sets and the air starts to cool. However, as any Brit will tell you, bank holidays mean awful weather. That doesn’t stop half the population waiting for hours in traffic though, as they optimistically head to the coast on Friday and disappointedly head home on Monday. I’d rather stay at home with some warm comfort food, like this simple hot chocolate dessert.

dessert

Ingredients:

  • 20g cocoa power
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 200ml oat milk
  • 20g cornflour
  • 20ml water

Method:

Put the cocoa powder, caster sugar, and oat milk in a saucepan, whisk together, and place over a medium heat.

Put the cornflour and water in a small bowl and stir to make a thin paste, known as a ‘slack’.

Pour the slack into the saucepan. The heat will cause the cornflour to thicken the dessert, so whisk it continuously to avoid the bottom layer thickening first.

Once it has thickened to the point that the whisk leaves faint trails, pour the dessert into a bowl to serve.

Review: Tibits Heddon Street (London)

It’s been years, maybe even half a decade, since someone first recommended I visit Tibits and finally I made it through the door. Obviously this isn’t breaking news but we loved this place so we’re going to give it a review anyway.

The buffet (is it egg-shaped or avocado-shaped? or a very badly shaped boat?) is all vegetarian with clearly marked vegan options. And you pay for the weight of food you have on your plate. I tried to restrain myself a little but we all know I didn’t.

I can’t remember what exactly all that was. I do remember the highlights: the glass noodles and wakame, the jollof rice, and the pak choi were my favourites. The only thing I didn’t like was kimchi which was oddly bland. Kate had less of a selection and wasn’t a great fan of the wakame but she had a good meal. Not good enough to skip desert.

Kate loved the Victoria sponge, my favourite was the mango mousse, and we both liked the chocolate. We may be late to the party but we had a great time. And we’ll try to make it back to Tibits sometime in the next five years.

Review: Crosstown Marylebone (London)

We popped across to London on Thursday. Unfortunately it was just for an appointment, not a protest. While we were there it only made sense to find some yummy vegan treats. I especially wanted to try the vegan location of Crosstown Doughnuts which had opened just two days after our last visit.

The shop is small with just two tables outside and a bar inside. It has plenty of doughnuts though. I was torn between trying one of the more adventurous combinations or getting something more plain. In the end I went for the Vegan Chocolate Truffle, somewhat between the two.

Here the doughnut is topped with dark chocolate and has a truffle filling. It’s a very grown up chocolate doughnut. Dark, decadent and absolutely perfect.

Kate, as is traditional, went for the pink one. This is orange blossom, with pistachios and pomegranate. There is an orange custard inside and it was just as delicious as my chocolate choice but a bit more light and summery in flavour. This would be a two-thumbs-up review that would enthusiastically recommend you go to buy doughnuts if it wasn’t for one thing that’s been bothering me. This is a card-only location. No cash is accepted and that means that anyone who can’t get a card is shut out. Yeah that’s a small minority but its generally a vulnerable one. And as vegans we should be looking out for the vulnerable in society. I still recommend visiting for the doughnuts but if the no cash thing bothers you too maybe shoot an email.