Vegan Christmas Pudding

A little while ago I was asked to take part in the John Lewis “Stir-up Sunday” Christmas pudding making event at Waitrose Cookery School, and boy was it ACE.

Ok so basically I’d never heard of Stir-up Sunday before, but apparently it’s a thing.  A real thing where people gather together and make delicious Chrimbo puddings – whoop!  Read all about it here if you wanna, because the more you know… etc.

untitled-3317
My creation. SO boozy. SO delicious.

The aim of the evening was to make our very own puddings to take home with us, and while we waited for them to cook we could partake in a bit of cocktail making, food eating and general gossip, chit chat and “getting to know you” kind of vibes.  There were about 20 of us there and we were split into four teams for the purpose of pud making.  Shout out to the vegan squad – we were so high in number that we had to be split into TWO groups #teamvegan.

untitled-3273
Long Winter Negronis that we made ourselves because we’re awesome cocktail makers now.

The pud making itself was surprisingly easy, and the ingredients aren’t that difficult to source.  Considering I’m not a huge fan of Christmas pudding, I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome – meaning, it was hot damn tasty.

untitled-3278
Our gorgeous dinner – all vegan AND gluten free. BOOM.

John Lewis have kindly allowed us to share the recipe for the pudding, which I’ve included below.  Check out their write up of the evening here too, which also includes the recipe and some photos taken on the night.

I couldn’t actually wait until Christmas to try the puds, so I’ve already demolished my two (I had help…).  They were absolutely gorgeous, so if you plan on making traditional Christmas puddings this year, you should give this one a go.  Top notch, guys.

vegan xmas pudding.jpg
The end result – vegan Christmas pudding (photo courtesy of John Lewis)

Ingredients

25g dairy-free soya spread
1 tbsp milled flaxseed
60g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
25g coconut oil, melted
40ml black treacle
55ml stout
1 tbsp dark rum
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
40g peeled, cored and coarsely grated Bramley apple, mixed with lemon juice
10g blanched almonds, roasted and chopped
75g currants
20g mixed peel
20g Forest Feast sour cherries
200g vegan mincemeat

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease 4 mini pudding basins and 4 small circles of baking parchment with the soya spread and set aside. Mix the flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of cold water and set aside for at least ten minutes, or until it becomes jelly-like and makes a ‘flax egg’.

Sift the self-raising flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves into a medium mixing bowl, then add the flax egg and the melted coconut oil. Mix the treacle with the stout and rum in a measuring jug. Pour this mixture into the bowl and whisk everything together thoroughly. Stir in the lemon zest, apple, almonds, currants, peel, cherries and mincemeat.

Divide the mixture between the prepared basins and top each one with a circle of greased parchment. Wrap each basin in an 18cm square of foil and fold under the edges of the basins.

Place the basins into a roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water to come 2.5cm up the sides of the basins. Carefully place the tin in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the puddings are springy and firm to the touch in the centre. Remove from the oven, unwrap, remove the parchment and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Carefully run a small knife around each one and turn out onto warm serving plates.

 

Time to make: 15 minutes to mix the ingredients, 50 minutes to bake, 10 minutes standing time = 75 minutes

On a scale of easy (1) to pull your hair out difficult (5) = 1.5, so simple to make, basically just mix and shove in the oven

#nowplaying: Julian Casablancas – I Wish It Was Christmas Today

 

 

Chocolate tofu cheesecake

How do you make a “healthy” dessert that doesn’t look or taste healthy?  Make this vegan chocolate cheesecake with silken tofu.  EASY.

Ok ok, there’s plenty of chocolate in here but when you hold that up against the silken tofu (all that protein!), the dates (so fibrous!), the almonds (hello vitamin E!) and the hemp milk (oh heyyyyyy calcium!) you’d be hard pressed to find a healthier cheesecake in a non-vegan recipe.  But we don’t do non-vegan around these parts, do we?

untitled-3241
*wipes drool off chin*

And the ridiculous thing is, it tastes delicious.  Don’t be put off by the tofu – it really doesn’t taste like it.  I had a mild panic attack when I put the the silken tofu in the blender without any of the other ingredients and gave it a whizz, as it smelled so much like tofu.  No one wants to eat cake that tastes and smells like tofu, unless you’re hardcore vegan level 5,890 or something.

Adding the melted chocolate, vanilla, cacao powder and agave ensured that the filling tasted not like tofu at all.  In fact, the urge to lick not only the food processor, but stick my finger in the filling itself was overwhelming.  You can even just make the filling without the base and have yourself a tofu mousse (SO GOOD).

And the best thing about this recipe?  No baking.  The joys!

Go nuts with the toppings – raspberries, cream, nuts, chocolate shavings etc. and create something you really want to eat.  I just popped some hazelnuts on the top and circled with some cacao nibs for this one.

untitled-3250
Sexy cross-section viewz

Here’s the recipe, go forth and veganize, folks.

Ingredients

Base

1 cup almonds (most other nuts (hazelnuts, pecans) can also be used)

1 cup medjool dates

Pinch of salt

Filling

200g dark chocolate

350g silken tofu (DO NOT use firm tofu! You will regret it…)

1 tsp cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tablespoons plant milk (I used hemp, but soy, almond or oat will also work)

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon agave

Instructions

Pulse the almonds with a pinch of salt in a food processor with a sharp blade until relatively fine. I kept mine a little chunky, but it’s personal choice!

Add the pitted dates and pulse/blend until well combined.  You want the mix to hold together when you press it in your hands.  It might look loose and not sticky when you’re blending, but give it a squash with your hands and you’ll know if it’s ready to go.

Line a 9 inch spring-form tin with clingfilm or baking paper.

Transfer the blended ingredients to the spring-form tin and press down firmly.  I use my fingers because it’s easier to get the base even around the sides.  Press, press, press and put aside.

Melt the chocolate using a bain marie method (see here) until smooth.

While the chocolate is melting, add the tofu to your (cleaned) food processor and blend until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients (cocoa powder, melted chocolate, vanilla extract, plant milk, agave and salt) and blend until smooth.

Taste (try not to eat the entire mix…) and adjust with more agave if needed.

Transfer the chocolate tofu mix to the cake base and smooth over the top, ensuring an even spread of chocolate mix across the cake.

Add your favourite toppings.

Place in the fridge and chill.  Best served straight from the fridge, but can be served at room temperature.

Time to make: 10 minutes base, 10 minutes melting chocolate, 10 minutes filling, 5 minutes putting together = 35 minutes

On a scale of easy (1) to pull your hair out difficult (5) = 2, relatively simple, just a faff making the two parts separately

#nowplaying: Isis Unveiled – …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Tofu Shakshuka

Oh boy do I have an awesome recipe to share with you guys today.

untitled-2576

 

I’ve always seen shakshuka online and out and about, and thought the dish itself looked awesome, but the whole egg idea… ughhhh, no thanks.  That’s where tofu is your best friend – reliable, versatile and tasty when cooked and spiced properly.  Cauldron organic original tofu works best in this recipe, and there is no need to squeeze out the excess liquid either, just open the packet and straight into the blender.  Easy.

Not a difficult dish to prepare, and all the ingredients can be found in any good vegan pantry!

untitled-2573

This shakshuka has a bit of spice to it, as I LOVE heat, but feel free to dial down the spice if you’re not a fan.  Serve with some fresh, crusty, buttered bread and your brunch life is complete.

untitled-2577

Ingredients

1 pack Cauldron Organic Original tofu

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 small white/brown onion, diced

1 medium red pepper, diced

1 large clove of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp hot chilli powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp hot paprika (or sub sweet paprika if you’re not a heat fan!)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 tins chopped tomatoes (400g each)

2 TBsp tomato paste

1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved

small handful of fresh parsley

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 200C.

Add the drained tofu, nutritional yeast and a few cracks of black pepper to a blender and blend until smooth.  Set aside.

untitled-2541.jpg
Blended tofu, ready to dollop

Heat the olive oil in a medium sized skillet and when hot, add the garlic and peppers.

Sauté the onions and peppers on medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Ensure they don’t burn.

Add the minced garlic to the pan and cook for about a minute.

Add the spices, sugar and thyme to the pan and stir to combine.

untitled-2554.jpg
Spice up yer life

Add the olives, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste to the skillet and mix well.

Allow the mix to simmer for five minutes.

Take a large tablespoon of the tofu mix and carefully drop it into the skillet, one at a time.   You should end up with about six evenly spaced dollops of the tofu mix in the skillet.

untitled-2558.jpg
Plop

Carefully cover the skillet with a lid (or tin foil if you don’t have an oven-friendly lid) and place in the oven to cook for 10 minutes.  If you don’t have an oven-friendly skillet it will be fine to leave it on the hob for 15 minutes or so on low heat, then brown the tofu under the grill afterwards.

After 10 minutes in the oven, remove the lid and place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes, or until the tofu is browned on top.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with cracked pepper, more kalamata olives and some fresh parsley.

Enjoy!

Time to cook: 10 minutes prep, 30 minutes cooking = 40 minutes

On a scale of easy (1) to pull your hair out difficult (5) = 2, relatively simple, just make sure you don’t dunk the tofu too far in the mix, and keep an eye on your tofu when it’s browning

#nowplaying: The Districts – If Before I Wake

 

Tofush & chips (vegan “fish & chips”)

It was a long time coming, but the day had finally arrived.  I would try my hand at making vegan fish & chips, aka Tofush and chips.

untitled-1043
Tofush and chips with mushy peas. No fishies in this dishy.

Not sure why I had put this off for so long – fear of failure?  Thinking it might look crap?  Might taste disgusting?  It’s tofu, I mean, how much like fish can tofu taste?!  Turns out quite a lot, if you wrap it in a nori sheet.

I’ve tried vegan fish and chips at a couple of restaurants in London and always marvelled at how authentic it tasted.  The beauty of tofu is that it tastes like nothing.  It really does!  Which makes it the perfect ingredient to hold onto any sauce that you marinate it in, any spice that you shake on it or indeed, any seaweed that you wrap it in.

untitled-1067

While not the healthiest of dishes (deep fried, whoops), it’s one of the tastiest I’ve ever made for this blog.  Next time I’ll bump up the unhealthiness and try it with beer batter instead 😉

If you wanna go all out and have mushy peas alongside your tofush and chips, check out my recipe on this previous blog post.  Absolutely love a bit of homemade tartare sauce as well – remind me to share that on this blog at some point too!  But for now, enjoy your deep fried, fishy goodness.

Ingredients

1/2 block of tofu (approx 200gms)

1 TBsp lemon juice

2 TBsp olive oil

1/2 sheet of nori

30ml water

30ml plant milk (I used soy)

80g plain flour (plus more to thicken if batter isn’t thick enough)

1 tsp baking powder

salt & pepper

Enough oil to cover the tofush when frying (approx 5cm in height, depending on the size of your tofu).  I use sunflower oil as it has a high smoke point – much better for frying foods

untitled-1059

Instructions

Prepare the tofu by slicing in half, then slicing into large triangles, or any shape that you want your “fish” to look like.  I used the remaining tofu for scrambled tofu the next day.

Press the tofu in paper towels until very little moisture remains.

Add the oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to a flat bottomed dish, big enough to fit the tofu flat in the dish, and mix to combine.

Add the tofu to the dish and marinate for at least half an hour in the fridge.

While the tofu is marinating, combine the water, milk, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in a small dish and whisk until smooth.  You want the batter to be the consistency of thick double cream.  Keep adding flour until you reach the right consistency (or milk if too thick!).

Once the tofu has finished marinating, it’s time to cut the nori.  You can either cut the nori the same size as the tofu and stick to one side, or do like I did and wrap around the tofu on all sides.

To keep the nori sheets in place I used a toothpick – much easier than fishing around in hot oil if the nori falls off.

At this point, turn on your hob to medium heat and heat up the oil.

Add the tofu with nori sheet into the batter and cover all over.

Check the heat of the oil by dropping a small amount of batter into the oil.  If it floats and starts bubbling then it’s ready to go.  If it sinks to the bottom, give it another couple of minutes.

When the oil is hot enough, carefully place the battered tofu into the oil, turning over after about four minutes to the other side.

Remove from the oil when fried and crispy all over, and place on a paper towel.  Carefully pull out the toothpicks to ensure none of the batter comes off with them.

Serve immediately with crispy chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce.  Enjoy!

Time to cook: 20 minutes prep, 30 mins at least marinating, 10 minutes cooking = 1 hour, (or half an hour not including marinating time!)

On a scale of easy (1) to pull your hair out difficult (5) = 2.5, got to make sure the batter is just the right consistency, plus the nori sheets can be a bit of a faff to keep on the tofu

#nowplaying: Idles – Divide & Conquer

Vegan in Melbourne, Australia (part 2)

Here’s part two of my vegan eats blog of Melbourne, after visiting early this year.  If you want to check out part 1 (just in case you haven’t already…) here it is 🙂  Let’s get down to it then, shall we?  Good.

Smith & Daughters, Fitzroy

Super gutted I only managed to visit Smith & Daughters once on my trip, as the menu was obscenely good.  I popped in for brunch on a Sunday, so didn’t have anything too huge (which I should have, looking back now!).  I had a Reuben sandwich that was chock full of vegan meats and cheese, with a yummy pesto sauce and a side of tortilla chips.

MelbsStArt-16
Smith & Daughters, Melbourne

This is another place to visit off-peak as it gets very busy during your standard lunch and dinner times (because the food is so damn awesome!).  Smith & Daughters is “a vegan bar and eatery with a unique rock ‘n’ roll vibe”, and they have a brilliantly extensive, Spanish/Latin American style menu.  If you get a chance to bump into one of the owners (highly likely – they both work and love hanging out there), definitely have a chat with them.  On visiting Smith & Daughters and being served by Mo (one of the owners) and having a chat with her, a couple of days later I visited their takeaway/grocery store, Smith & Deli – Mo was there, and she greeted me with a very American “Hey, Jen!”.  Lovely people, give them all of your food money please.

20170115_150346.jpg
Smith & Daughters, Melbourne

Smith & Deli

Another place I should have visited more than once!  So so so SO many vegan treats to be found at the little sister take-away/grocer to Smith & Daughters – there are fridges and freezers full of vegan goodies, freshly made salads and sweet things, made to order sandwiches/baguettes and lots of other grocery items and fun items of clothing.  I could have spent a fortune in there, however, I only bought a Parmageddon and a couple of drinks, as I was worried I might be overweight (in both baggage and stomach-wise!!).

Melbs3-48
Parmageddon, Smith & Deli, Melbourne

I was going to pick up one of their “Smith & Daughters – A Cookbook (that happens to be vegan)” but unfortunately they had sold out.  Luckily for me though, they ship to the UK so I bought one when I got back to London.  Get yourself a copy as it’s is WELL worth it.  Gorgeous book and brilliant recipes.

Admiral Cheng Ho

This speciality coffee bar/plant-based cafe was walking distance from my Air B&B, on the same street, so there was no backing out of visiting while I was in Melbourne.  I popped in on a boiling hot day, and they didn’t have a full menu out, only what was available as the specials.  I settled on the lentil and potato shepherds pie (on a hot day? Yeah, well done Jen…) which was yum, but really, really filling.

IMG_20170116_125503_592 (1).jpg
Admiral Cheng Ho, Melbourne

 

I had a coffee as well, which I don’t usually drink, so I was buzzing for the rest of the day.

Transformer, Fitzroy

This is vegetarian/vegan dining at its finest.  Everything on your plate is well thought out and presented with the utmost of care.  Not exactly the kind of place where you whip out your Canon 5D mkiii with your massive zoom lens, but I managed a couple of sneaky photos on my trusty Samsung mobile phone instead.

IMG_20170118_141521_746 (1)
Transformer, Melbourne

First up was a salad with olives, pink grapefruit, caramelised walnuts and greens.  The menu isn’t online, so I’m going on memory alone here!  An interesting combination of flavours (olives and pink grapefruit?!) which ended up tasting delicious.  They clearly use the freshest ingredients in everything.

IMG_20170118_142630_107
Transformer, Melbourne

After the salad I had a dish of silken tofu with carrots and seaweed.  Hoooooly hell.  Talk about flavours.  Every part of the dish tasted completely different yet it all worked together brilliantly, just like the salad.  Transformer is kind of a tapas style restaurant where you order a bunch of plates and share, which is great because you can try plenty of things on the menu.  I was on my own however, so only managed to try two dishes before I was full.  I ordered a cocktail with an emoji on it instead of dessert, because I couldn’t possibly fit any more food in!

20170117_204249.jpg
Transformer, Melbourne

Veggie Bar, Fitzroy

Why oh why did I leave this place until my very last day in Melbourne?  I was on the way to the airport with my suitcase and my friend Jay and decided to have lunch here instead of going to the airport early.  So glad I did.  We ordered two dishes to share, the first being a tofu and quinoa burger with a side of sweet potato fries.  As I said on my Instagram – easily one of the best vegan burgers I’ve ever had!  That smoky tofu though… mmmmm

IMG_20170122_123635_241.jpg
Veggie Bar, Melbourne

After devouring the burger pretty quick smart we started on the Moroccan tagine, which was also delicious (but hey, it ain’t no smoked tofu burger…).  Sweet potato and chickpeas in a rich tomato sauce with couscous, roasted cauliflower, fresh cucumber and a dollop of yoghurt (or Tzatziki?! not entirely sure!).

IMG_20170122_125118_374.jpg
Veggie Bar, Melbourne

Don’t be like Jen – make sure you visit the guys at Veggie Bar while you’re in Melbourne.  They’ve been in business for over 20 years, so you know they know what they’re doing.  Big, big fan.

There ends my (extensive!) wrap up of what I ate in and around Melbourne earlier this year.  I was bowled over by not only the amount of places you can pick up vegan food, but the standard of what I was eating.  If there is one place you should visit when you make the trip to the Land Down Under, make it Melbourne – it’s a vegan foodie paradise.  Someone take me back there soon, yeah?  Ta!

#nowplaying Methyl Ethel – Ubu

 

Vegan in Melbourne, Australia (part 1)

Ahhhh Melbourne, oh how I love you.  Your changeable weather, your noisy trams, your laid-back attitude and your plentiful vegan options.  A lot has changed since I lived in Melbourne in the late 00s, but I always remember they had a decent amount of vegetarian options.  I became vegetarian while living in Melbourne, so it has a lot to answer for!

The vegan movement has come along in leaps and bounds there in the last few years, to the extent that there are restaurants in Melbourne creating vegan foods that are yet to make their way to London (vegan poached eggs anyone?!).  I would have loved to have spent more time there, because I didn’t get around to half of the places on my list, and wanted to go back to most of the places I visited.  Head to Fitzroy (Brunswick St especially), Collingwood, St Kilda and the CBD for the best vegan options.  If you’re planning on going to Australia for a visit and you’re not quite sure which city to visit, please, please, PLEASE go to Melbourne.  The people, the fresh food, the coffee and the vibe just cannot be beaten.  Highly recommend using Air B&B as well – the flat I had was brilliant, and so close to the Fitzroy area where all the good vegan joints were!

The Cornish Arms, Brunswick

If you go to one place in Melbourne for dinner, I BEG of you, make it here.  They do serve non-vegan food, but the vegan options are just beyond belief!  Parma (a Melbourne favourite), fisherman’s basket, souvlaki, burgers and gourmet pizzas – all vegan.  I couldn’t go past the vegan double down because, well, it’s a vegan double down.  I’ve tried recreating it myself at home since, and nothing compares.  I mean, look at this baby.

IMG_20170115_010910_321.jpg
Double Down at The Cornish Arms, Melbourne.  DIRRRTY.

 

Amazing, right?!  Vegan cheese, vegan bacon and tomato, sandwiched between two southern fried mock chicken fillets, served with mash, gravy and slaw.  TAKE ME NOW.  The Cornish Arms is quite a large pub with an outdoor seating area, but tends to get busy, so book a table in advance if you can.  A great place to take along non-vegans and impress them with how tasty and delicious your vegan food looks.

Matcha Mylkbar, St Kilda

Instagrammable food, you say?  Welcome to the best place in Australia for it.  I tell you what, Melbourne knows how to do a sexy plate of food, and this place makes London vegan restaurant food look incredibly grey and boring in comparison.  Oh yeah, the food is also tasty, how about that?!  It was a toss-up between the matcha pancakes (green pancakes ahhhhh!), the soy chicken burger (green matcha bun ahhhhh!) or the vegan fried eggs with hollandaise, corn fritters, fried cauliflower and crispy kale… oh yeah, you don’t have to guess what I chose.

Melbs2-102
Matcha Mylkbar, Melbourne

The weird thing is – the eggs tasted like eggs.  The yolk not so much (I rarely ate yolk when I was non-vegan in any case), but the white was so much like an egg I almost couldn’t deal.  The rest of the food was fantastic, and I really couldn’t fault any of it.

Melbs2-103
Look at dem vegan eggz!

I also had a Smurf latte.

IMG_20170117_231953_143.jpg
Smurfilicious

THIS PLACE, GUYS.  I had a nice chat to one of the service guys there (he could actually have been one of the owners, I’m not quite sure) and he had a sit down and natter for a few minutes with me, telling me about the place and asking me about my photography (yeah – my massive camera was sitting on the table…).  Highly recommend going here, although think about going at an odd time like mid-morning on a weekday, as all the tables were full when I went (mid-morning on a Tuesday).  You will want everything on the menu.

*Even just writing up this blog is giving me serious FOMO at not living in Melbourne anymore.  Sad face.*

Neko Neko

Neko Neko is a gorgeous Japanese restaurant serving meat and vegan dishes, and one which I had no plans on visiting until I saw the “vegan ramen!” sign in the window.  My friend Jay suggested we go there and check it out and I’m glad we did.  We ordered the quinoa and chickpea gyoza to share as a starter, which was ace.

IMG_20170122_121208_179.jpg
Neko Neko, Melbourne

 

I also ordered the “teishoku” (Japanese for “meal set”) with bean and potato croquettes.  Wasn’t too sure what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised – look at all this!!

IMG_20170122_122409_732
Neko Neko, Melbourne

 

The waiter explained to us what everything was, which I almost promptly forgot… but from memory – black rice, pickled cabbage, pickles, aubergine, tofu, creamy potato, tofu-style cashew, spicy cauliflower, red pepper and crispy potato croquettes in the middle.  Loved being able to have all different tastes to try in one dinner plate.  Need to try to recreate stuff like this at home!

Phamily Kitchen

Such a cute little Vietnamese restaurant, which was packed when I visited (always a good sign), but I managed to squeeze beside a couple of people and ordered the Vermicelli noodles with tofu and spring rolls.  The menu is clearly marked with vegan options, which we love 😉

IMG_20170116_090324_959
Phamily Kitchen, Melbourne

 

The bowl was actually really huge and I didn’t manage to finish it all.  Great value at $12, considering how big it was.  They also do take away which they appeared to be doing a LOT of while I was there.  Super cute little restaurant with a gorgeous blue and pink colour scheme – get Instagramming!

Seeing as there was so much to report on  as far as vegan food goes in Melbourne, I’ll be doing this blog in two parts – we ALL need a rest from looking at this amazing vegan food for a bit.  Mop brow, etc.  Stay tuned for part two in the next week or so!

#nowplaying – Arctic Monkeys & Childish Gambino Mashup  I Wanna Be Terrified

Vegan in Perth, Western Australia

After going back home (and to my adopted home) earlier this year, I thought it was about time to sort out some blog posts on where I ate awesome vegan food in Perth and Melbourne, Australia.  There are so many more options now for vegans in both locations since I moved from Australia to London 8 years ago, and boy did I take advantage while I was there!

First stop is the city I grew up in – Perth, Western Australia.  I tell a lie actually, I grew up in the country, about an hour north of Perth in a small town called Gingin, but I digress…  Perth has never been the most forward-thinking of cities (can you tell why I’m now living in London?!), so I wasn’t expecting to find anything amazing as far as vegan options are concerned.  Unlike Melbourne where the word “vegan” can be seen on any main restaurant strip, Perth isn’t teeming with obvious vegan options.  Vegan meals are there if you do your research however, and I found a few gems while I was there briefly.

Raw Kitchen, Fremantle

Holy moly.  So much to choose from on the menu and such a great looking restaurant.  There are other vegan options around Freo, so if you’re spending the day there (and you should – Freo is lovely), you won’t be short of places to eat.  Raw Kitchen, however, is the star of the area.  I wanted to eat everything on the menu, but had to settle for the nachos – salsa, jalapenos, walnut refried beans, guacamole and cashew sour ‘cream’ over raw nachos.  LOOK AT THIS.

Perth-11
Raw Kitchen, Fremantle

Didn’t have enough room for dessert, but I did have an elixir shot and a Longevity kombucha on the side.  The entire menu is vegan, and mostly raw, so knock yourself out!  Seeing as the weather is usually beautiful at any time of the year in Perth, eating raw is actually quite easy to do and really refreshing.

Perth-10
Raw Kitchen, Fremantle

Flora and Fauna, Northbridge

If you’re an insta-whore, this place should be top of your to-do list whilst in Perth!  Don’t just take my word for it – take a scroll through their Instagram and you’ll see how gorgeous the food is.  Fresh and exotic fruits, edible flowers, pastel colours and cute little tables make taking Insta-pics here a delight.  The chefs clearly want to impress with their plating – I felt almost bad cutting into my food!  Almost…  The vegan banana bread with raspberry sauce was my brunch of choice, as they make their banana bread fresh every morning.  No words needed, just this picture.

0insta
Flora and Fauna, Northbridge

Seriously guys, GO HERE!  Perfect for brunch and plenty of vegan options on the meat-free menu. Head there on a sunny day, as the outside seating area is much bigger than inside, and Northbridge is always buzzing with all sorts of interesting people wandering around.

Wassup Dog, East Perth and Fremantle

Because who doesn’t like hot dogs?!  Although Wassup Dog serve meat-dogs, they do a mean vegan option.  All of their ingredients are made from scratch (the bread, the condiments, the sausages etc.) and sourced locally, so you know you’re going to scoff the good stuff here.  They do breakfast (with a good looking vegan option) and also home delivery, if you CBA dragging yourself out of bed.  Here’s the “Vegan Dog” that I had, with a side of hand cut chips (natch).

Perth2-60
Wassup Dog, East Perth

How sexy is that?!  Their vegan sausage is made from pumpkin, sweet potato and coriander, plonked in a freshly baked bun and topped with sautéed peppers and onions, a smashed avocado and homemade vinaigrette.  Difficult to finish it off as the serving was so huge, but that, my dear friends, is not a complaint.

Lord of the Fries, Perth CBD

I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you.  The one thing that London lacks is a decent, easy to access (e.g. no massive queues), super cheap, veggie/vegan dirty take away chain.  THAT is why I love LOTF.  All the dirty burgers, hot dogs and fries you want, all veggie or vegan.  You can basically veganise anything on the menu here, and the choice is huge.  Firm favourite for me is French Canadian fries, hold the cheese, as can be seen here (excuse the legs!).

LOTF
Lord of the Fries (and my pasty legs), Perth CBD

So many sauce options however – get yourself a big serving of fries and slather on that sauce.  All of the “classic” sauces are vegan, and all of the burgers can be made vegan if you ask.  They have exploded in the last few years and have shops all over the country, including plenty in Melbourne.

There were a few places on my list that I didn’t get around to eating at (wahh!), but add these to your list if you have more time than I did.

Swan Valley Café – in the heart of the wine district (you know what to do guys…) is this vegetarian café with a huge breakfast, lunch and dessert menu.  The options are mostly vegan (tempeh burger!!) and they also do a good amount of raw and gluten free options.  There are garlic and onion free food options as well, which is great for Krishna’s.

Acai Bros – Another one in Fremantle while you’re in that area.  These guys do raw smoothies, acai bowls, shooters and juices.  If you eat there often enough I’ve heard that you’ll end up looking like the founding “Brothers”, which isn’t a bad thing (*ahem* LADIES *ahem*).

Roark & Co – Freo again (I see a pattern here…).  100% plant based café open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week.  Breakfast wraps, burgers, vegan tuna rolls and plenty of salads in the summer.  I should have stayed in Fremantle!

That was about the extent of my food choices in Perth while I was there earlier in the year.  Wish I ate out more, but at least now I know where to go when I venture back there, which is not a bad thing.  Next blog is going to be what I ate in Melbourne, which might have to be over two blogs, because I at a LOT of food there!

Let me know in the comments of any other places that look good in Perth so that I can go check them out when I go back there… one day 😉

#nowplaying: The Goon Sax – Boyfriend

Nut Roast Wellington

That feeling when you make something for the first time and it works out really, really well – hello nut roast wellington!  Don’t let the ingredients list fool you – this is a really easy recipe to get right, and it tastes delicious.  To be honest, it kind of tastes like a giant sausage roll, and who doesn’t like sausage rolls?!  The bigger the better.

0Xmas-3.jpg
Bigger than my arm, guys.

I made this on Christmas Day because at Christmas the year before I bought a vegan roast from a shop, and I wasn’t really impressed by it (I’m not going to name names here…).  Instead of forking out a small fortune (it was) on something I wasn’t going to finish and didn’t really enjoy, I thought it best to make my own this time, and I’m so glad I did.

Don’t just have your nut roast wellington’s at Christmas time either – make those puppies all year round!  Sunday roasts in 2017 have just become a lot more tasty.

The recipe makes enough for about 3 – 4 people when served with veggies and all the trimmings.  Or just make it for yourself and have leftovers for days, like I did 😉

0xmas-6
Sausage roll vibes

Ingredients

1 small onion, diced

1 tsp oil for frying

1 red pepper, diced quite small

2 cloves of minced garlic

120g breadcrumbs (I used Panko, but feel free to use homemade)

Small handful of parsley

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried sage

1 tsp dried rosemary

½ tsp salt (or to taste)

½ tsp pepper (or to taste)

1 ½ cups of nuts (I used 1/3 each of almonds, cashews and walnuts – no hard or fast rules here, you can use pecans, macadamias, peanuts etc., just ensure they’re in their natural form, i.e. not roasted or coated in any kind of flavouring, like salt etc.)

250g mushrooms

2 TBsp tomato paste

1 vegan egg (I used 1 TBsp flax mixed with 2 TBsp water, mixed together, and let it sit for five minutes before adding to the mixture)

1 sheet puff pastry (Jus Roll do vegan puff pastry – I’m always using that stuff!)

2 TBsp vegan milk for brushing over pastry

Instructions

Preheat oven to 175C (350F)

Remove puff pastry from the fridge/freezer and allow to warm to room temperature.

Add the oil to a frypan and heat on medium.  Add the onion and peppers and saute until soft, around 6-7 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and saute for a further minute, then set aside.

Add the breadcrumbs, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme to a food processor and process until well combined.  Transfer to a mixing bowl.

Add the nuts to the food processor and process until fine.  Transfer to the bowl with the breadcrumb mix.

Add the mushrooms to the food processor and process until finely chopped.  Transfer to the bowl with the breadcrumb mix.

Add the onion mix, salt and pepper, vegan egg and tomato paste to the breadcrumb mix.

This is where you get messy!

Use your hands to fully mix all the ingredients, and begin to form into a loaf/roll.

Transfer the roll to the middle of the puff pastry and fold the pastry over the roll to ensure the roast is sealed.

Brush the pastry all over with milk.  You could add poppy/sesame seeds here to the top of your wellington if that floats your boat.

I like to cut slits in the top of the pastry – feel free to do this however you prefer.

Transfer your wellington to a parchment lined baking tray and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until pastry is golden and cooked through.

Let the wellington stand for a few minutes before slicing.  Serve with all your favourite trimmings.

Time to cook: 30 minutes prep, 40 minutes in the oven = 1 hour, 10 minutes

On a scale of easy (1) to pull your hair out difficult (5) = 2.5, quite a large ingredients list, and plenty of food processing going on, but it’s pretty straightforward and easy to just shove in the oven.

#nowplaying: The Lemon Twigs – I Wanna Prove To You

Easy vegan rocky road

In my quest to veganise every single type of chocolate treat I have ever had in my life, the time has come to give the rocky road a once over.  I like a basic rocky road – nothing fancy, not too many ingredients, and easy to make.  If that sounds like you then you need to make this rocky road.  NOW.

img_8018

After creating this batch I realised that I had made a grave mistake with the recipe.  There just wasn’t enough of the end product.  I scoffed the whole lot in… well I’m not going to tell you how long it took me because that would be embarrassing 😉  So if you want a nice, small amount of rocky road then go ahead and follow this recipe.  If you want plenty of the stuff (and trust me, you will), double the recipe.  Just make sure you have a big enough tin/container to fit it all in, of course.

Any digestive style biscuits can be used in this recipe, and I would suspect that chocolate or chocolate chip biscuits also work.  I found it difficult to source vegan marshmallows initially, but did manage to pick some up at Holland & Barrett in Brixton the other week, and they were brilliant in this.  I dream of a day when I can just walk into Tesco and everything you could ever want was available as a vegan version.  Not long now guys, keep pushing…

As ever, feel free to add anything to this recipe that you might like.  I’ve seen cherries, coconut, peanut butter, nuts and dried fruit all make appearances in rocky road before.  Mix it up a bit.

I will now add this recipe to my list of successfully veganised chocolate treats.  This veganising stuff is EASY.

Ingredients

100g dark chocolate

½ cup vegan marshmallows

100g crushed digestive biscuits (I used Dove’s Farm organic digestive biscuits, but any vegan option will do)

1 TBsp rice malt syrup (or agave if you don’t have rice malt syrup to hand)

Instructions

Line a 16cm x 10cm (approx) baking dish/tin with parchment paper

Roughly chop the dark chocolate

In a large glass bowl, melt down the chocolate with the rice malt syrup in a double boiler on the stove (see here for instructions)

Once melted and combined, add the marshmallows and biscuits to the bowl

Stir carefully until all the ingredients are fully integrated and the chocolate is covering all of the other ingredients

Transfer mixture into the lined baking dish/tin and press down gently

Place dish in the fridge to set (approximately 30 minutes)

Once set, remove from the dish carefully, onto a chopping board, and slice into squares

Serve immediately.  These should last up to 5 days in the fridge.

Time to cook: 5 minutes prep, 10 minutes melting the chocolate, 5 minutes mixing, 30 minutes in the fridge = 50 minutes (20 minutes not including time to set)

On a scale of easy (1) to pull your hair out difficult (5) = Easy treats 1.5/5

#nowplaying: The Fall – Touch Sensitive

Vegan corn chowder

Finally the cold weather is upon us (in the northern hemisphere anyway) and we can all start making soup again *huzzah*

One of the easiest and most versatile meals to make in the winter is soup, and there are so many vegan soup options you’ll never be bored.  Do away with your tinned stuff, there’s absolutely no need.  Guarantee most vegan soups end up being a LOT cheaper than store bought tinned ones, plus you know what you’re getting will be fresher and tastier, as you can add or subtract any ingredients you want.

img_7128

I LOVE corn.  Love the stuff.  Could eat it every day.  Corn and potatoes.  I think I DO actually eat potatoes every day, in some way, shape or form.  Definitely not a bad thing (as Dr McDougall will tell you).  This soup is rich, creamy and chunky.  You can blitz all the soup if you like (might need to add some more water to thin it out), or leave some chunks to make it feel more filling.  I prefer the chunks, so only blitz around half of it.

This recipe serves 4 as a starter, or probably two as a main meal, accompanied with some fresh bread.  Super easy to make and great to freeze/refrigerate for leftovers.

img_7136

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 small white onion, diced

½ red pepper, diced

1 large potato, peeled and diced

3 Tbsp flour

1 cup plant milk (unsweetened)

2.5 cups of vegetable broth

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp dried parsley (or fresh if you have it)

2 cups frozen corn

Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil.  Add the diced onion and red pepper and heat on medium-low heat until the veggies are soft (around 10 minutes). Stir occasionally – make sure the veggies don’t stick to the bottom or start to burn.

Stir in the diced potato.  Add the flour and stir to coat the veggies evenly.

Add the vegetable broth and plant milk and stir to combine.

Add the salt, pepper, smoked paprika and parsley and stir to combine.

Bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cover saucepan with a lid.

Simmer until the potatoes are tender, around 20 minutes, depending on the size of your potato chunks (longer for bigger chunks).

Add the frozen corn to the pot and stir to combine.  Simmer for another 10 minutes until the corn is cooked through.

Once cooked, transfer a third of the mix to a blender and blend until smooth.  Add the blended soup back to the saucepan and stir.

Serve immediately with buttered crusty bread and top with chives/parsley/more corn.

Time to cook: 10 minutes prep, 10 minutes for the onions, 20 minutes cooking, further 10 minutes with the corn – 50 minutes

On a scale of easy (1) to pull your hair out difficult (5) = 2 – a very simple soup

#nowplaying Spring King – Detroit