Category Archives: reviews

chocolate chilli cupcakes

chocolate chilli cupcakes

Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes
Ingredients:
4 tablespoons of self-raising gluten free flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 quarter teaspoon of hot chilli powder
4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 box of rice cream or something similar (we got this at Approved Food, always worth checking for vegan goodies), a vegan yoghurt or soya cream would do, even a chocolate pudding

Mix the dry. Add the wet. Stir thoroughly and divide between 12 cake cases. Bake at 200C/400F for up to 20 minutes or until risen and firm. Once they have cooled: ice them!

For the spicy icing:
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1 tablespoon of caster sugar (or icing sugar)
2 tablespoons of marg.
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a pinch of salt
Melt it all up in pan over a very low heat. Once well mixed, allow to cool and thicken a little before spreading on the cakes.

Perfect for Valentines Day, as is our little friend Egbert:

veganbunny

And books, they always make perfect gifts… Here’s two involving love that we’ve read and enjoyed in recent months:

humans

Matt Haig’s ‘The Humans’ is compassionate and funny and deeply moving.  When Professor Andrew Martin solves an important  mathematical problem, he is replaced by an alien who is charged with eliminating all evidence of the discovery and Professor Martin’s wife and son. It’s one of those books that is so good you nag other people to read it…

Buy UK or Buy US

miniturist

 

Set in 17th century Amsterdam, Jessie Burton’s novel follows the lives of newly married Nella Oortman and her family.  Intrigue surrounds the dolls house that Nella is given as a wedding gift and the mysterious miniaturist whose wares echo the lives of the people in the real house. Gripping and unputdownable.

Buy UK or Buy US


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getting a bit Nudie with it

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It’s an exceptionally frosty morning. But it’s okay. Because we have hot chocolate and Nudie snacks.

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Nudie snacks are toasted coconut chips, rich in healthy fats and fibre and decidedly moreish. You can make vegan bacon with them. You can top curries with them. You can eat them for breakfast with your cereal. They are available from Amazon and Whole Foods at present.

A beautiful birthday cake for a beautiful person:

birthday

In other food news: Graze are offering a free, no obligation to continue, first box again and we have a new lasagne recipe over on frugal.

coconutty

green smoothie

A Beautiful Green Smoothie made with wonderfully rehydrating coconut water (as ever these quantities make a large jug that serves four):
4 bananas
2 avocados
half a bag (about 3 cups) of baby leaf spinach
2 X 320 ml. tins of JT’s Coconut Water
1 tablespoon of nut butter such as almond or brazil (we used Cacao Brazilnut Bliss)
Top the jug off with juice of your choice: apple for a sweeter smoothie, orange for tartness.
Blitz and enjoy!

We’ve also tried their coconut oil which is rich and smooth and nourishing. We made this with it:

coconut chickpea rice

Coconut Chick Pea Rice:
1 heaped tablespoon (or 2 runny ones if you’re in hot climes) of JT’s Coconut Oil
1 large spring onion
4 or 5 cups of cooked rice; we boiled ours with a little turmeric, hence the nice yellow colour
1 can of cooked chick peas
seasalt to taste
Fry the onion in the oil until softened. Add the rice and chickpeas and stir until everything is well heated through. Season. Serve with salad. Simple and utterly delicious. You can really taste the coconut.

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Space Age Cooking

gluten free mini chocolate logs

Doesn’t look a very space age treat, but it is because it was cooked in this:

Halogen oven

…and that looks like a robot, little eyes and everything, though it’s actually a VonShef Halogen Oven Cooker. It’s an amazing and energy saving device, great for when you want to just bake a cake or cook one dish without heating the whole oven. It also gets hot at once, no need to preheat. It comes with a bunch of kitchen stuff too: heat resistant basket, recipe book, extender ring, lid holder, baking tray, steamer tray, skewers, low Rack, high Rack (these work well as cooling racks) and a nice oven glove. It would make a great gift!

Halogen oven and accessories

So on with the recipes…

Gluten Free Mini Chocolate Yule Logs:
125g of vegetable maragarine
125g caster sugar
250g Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
2 heaped tablespoons of cocoa
a good squirt of golden syrup (makes it ‘fudgey’)
a teaspoon of vanilla extract
soya milk to mix
decoration: marzipan, 200g melted chocolate and a sprinkle of icing sugar

Cream the marg. and sugar together and then gradually mix in the other ingredients like so: a little flour, a little soya milk, stir; add cocoa and some soya milk, stir. Once it’s all well mixed, pour into a greased cake tin and set the oven temperature to 175C and the timer to 45 minutes. Place the cake in there, close the lid and go for a walk to watch the sunrise (optional/replace with activity of choice):

sunrise

Check for readiness with a skewer, cook for a few more minutes if still wet in the middle. Once the cake is totally cool, remove from the tin and cut into bite-size pieces. Top with thinly sliced marzipan and melted chocolate. It’s ideal to let the chocolate cool a little before spreading on the cakes (go and pick holly) as you can then pull a fork through it for a nice wood-like effect. Let the chocolate set and then sprinkle with icing sugar.

We also made Creamy Sage and Onion Potatoes in the Halogen oven:
8 medium potatoes, sliced very thin and par-boiled for a few minutes, we left the skins on
2 red onions, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
a small handful of fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon of marg.
1 tablespoon of flour
250ml of soya milk
salt to taste

Grease an oven proof dish. Melt the marg. and cook the onions and garlic in it until softened. Add the sage. Add the flour. Mix well. Gradually stir in the soya milk and continue stirring over a low heat until the sauce thickens. Season with salt. Layer this up with the potatoes in your greased dish, leaving plenty for the top as it just looks nice. Set the timer to 50 minutes and the temperature to 250C and light up the kitchen. Ta-da:

potato bake


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chocolate and aprons

ethicoco

Isn’t that beautiful? And just perfect for Christmas with the sparkly red berries? It’s the Peruvian Dark Bar with Cranberries from Ethicoco and it’s absolutely delicious; the texture is smooth, the flavour is full, the cranberries are perfectly tart and there’s plenty of them.

Ethicoco is a new vegan chocolate company that uses ethically sourced and organic ingredients. They also make ‘milk’ bars using oat milk and hand craft their chocolate ‘from bean to bar’, read more about that on their website.

ethicoco2

In other news, we have resurrected our shop! We have aprons, t-shirts, bags, mugs, caps, bibs, badges and underwear in various designs both vegan and flowery…

vc vppanty chocolate cheesecake bag

chestnuts roasting on an open fire…

chestnuts and cocoa

Unlike previous chestnut roasting efforts, these were done properly, in an actual long handled chestnut pan, no less.

chestnut pan

So they were sweet and succulent and cooked all the way through, unlike the ‘wrapped in foil and put in the fire’ nuts of the past which were burnt on the outside and raw in the middle.

Washed and scored:
scored chestnuts

Roasting:
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The pan comes with full instructions on how to choose the best chestnuts and then how to roast them, making it a really nice festive gift.

It’s almost December! Chocolate Advent Calendars:
 

To finish off today, turn your sound up and listen to some beautiful whooper swans on the early morning loch.

black badger stew and other beans

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We were sent some wonderful British bean products by Hodmedod’s. Before the title causes too much alarm: black badgers are a variety of pea that has been grown in Britain for at least 500 years, also known as carlin or maple peas. They are exceptionally flavoursome for a pulse and made a delicious hummus (substituting the chick peas in our usual recipe) and a wonderfully filling stew:

Black Badger Stewblack badger stew
250g of black badgers, soaked and cooked
2 onions, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
4 sticks of celery, chopped
2 dried bay leaves
1 box passata (500g)
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
water as needed
seasalt to taste

Soak your black badgers overnight, bring to the boil and turn down to simmer for about 30 minutes. Add in the vegetables, passata, water to cover and bay leaves and simmer again for at least fifteen minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaves. Thicken the sauce with tomato puree and season with salt. Nice served with rice or mash.

bean saladWe also made a fava bean (broad bean) salad:
1 can of cooked fava beans
3 tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 small onion, diced
a handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Mix it all together and dress with the juice of one lemon and a little olive oil.

The big vegan box pictured above would make an ideal Christmas gift for any foodie. Not only does it contain the useful store cupboard staple of dried beans (including split fava beans which do not require soaking) but it boasts a plethora of ready to eat tinned products and roasted snacks. The baked beans are broad beans in a homemade style sauce rather than the orange goo of most brands. The dahl makes ‘chips with curry sauce’ into something gourmet and delightful. And the roasted beans and peas – wow – horseradish peas! Spicy like wasabi… There’s also a UK-grown bag of quinoa, removing any ethical issues with the product.

And speaking of Christmas: don’t miss our Vegan Christmas or Yule page for lots of festive recipes and gift ideas and also Advent calendars (those will sell out soon).