Vegan chocolate nests. Perfect for Easter. Perfect anytime really.
Vegan Chocolate Nest Ingredients (makes 12)
5 Weetabix style cereal biscuits
150g of dark chocolate
1 tablespoon of golden syrup
1 tablespoon of vegetable margarine
mini eggs (we used Doisy & Dam ones, found in Asda). You could also use other sweets or make little eggs with marzipan.
paper cake cases
Crumble the biscuits into a bowl and melt the chocolate, syrup and margarine together in a Bain Marie until well combined. Mix it all up. Divide the mixture between the cases and top with the eggs or sweets. Cool until set. Enjoy!
A chocolatey read to go with your vegan chocolate nests:
FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, was inspired by the 600 children and young people who were kidnapped from Aberdeen during the 1740s and sold into indentured servitude in the American Colonies. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s proper derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!
From the publisher’s press release: “Fiery and forthright, Elizabeth isn’t someone to be argued with. She knows her own mind, and isn’t afraid to speak it. Through her experiences, the reader sees her grow from a girl, into a woman with a powerful voice… a woman of her time, but very much of ours too.”
Included in the large zip-up bag are a 5 in 1 pop up reflector:
8 postcards with tips from a professional photographer on aspects like composition and lighting:
… and 4 wonderful backgrounds. We used the gold reflector to good effect in the top noodle bowl photo. It was a really dull day. One of the frequently occurring storms was ongoing and the reflector really helped light the food.
And here’s a chocolate smoothie on the white marble background:
A simple but truly delicious vegetable curry with onion bhajis from Lidl and some winter lettuce from the polytunnel.
Vegetable Curry Ingredients (serves four)
A little oil
one onion, chopped
a pepper, chopped
an apple, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons of curry powder or spices of your choosing (we like a combo of fenugreek, cumin, turmeric and chilli).
vegetables of your choice, chopped: we used an aubergine, some green beans, a few small potatoes and a diced carrot.
water to cover. We had some broccoli stock from earlier cooking and water saved from a tin of cannelloni beans.
a teaspoon or two of cornflour
salt to taste
Fry off the onion, pepper and apple in the oil for a few minutes then add the spices. Stir well for a few minutes taking care not to burn the mixture. Add the vegetables and water, bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer until all veg is tender. Combine the cornflour with a little water and mix until smooth then add it to the curry, stirring all the time until it thickens. Add salt. We served it with some golden vegetable rice (add turmeric and a few peas/pepper/celery to rice as it cooks).
This vegan bread sauce is a beautiful accompaniment to Christmas dinner and easy to prepare (in advance too). Below is a wonderful recipe from Oatly, though we do have a dear friend who makes bread sauce by simply putting all the ingredients in an oven dish and cooking it in the oven with everything else, just giving it a stir now and again. Experimentation required!
Vegan Bread Sauce Ingredients (Makes approximately 1 litre)
600ml Oatly Oat drink
1 onion, halved & studded with approx 12 cloves
1 bay leaf
5 pepper corns
150g fresh white breadcrumbs
50g vegetable margarine, optional
Put the onion, bay leaf and peppercorns into a medium saucepan and pour in the Oatly oat drink. Bring the liquid up to just below boiling and take off the heat. Leave for 2 hours to allow the aromatic flavours to infuse the Oatly.
Remove the onion, bay & pepper and keep them to one side. Add the breadcrumbs, put the pan back on and cook gently over a low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bread crumbs have swelled.
Season with salt and pepper and stir in the marg, if using. You can use this immediately or chill and reheat it. If you are going to keep it for any time, pop the onion and aromatics back in to continue adding flavour.
Recipe credit This recipe was made using Oatly Oat drink – a great dairy free, healthy alternative to milk. For more delicious recipes and further information about the Oatly way of life, visit www.facebook.com/OatlyUK
Looking for something easy to go with your vegan bread sauce? See all the ready made roast options at vegan supermarket GreenBay! They also sell a variety of gourmet vegan products that would be great for Christmas treats such as cheeses (including Camembert), steak and bacon etc.
Now to the lucky truffles. Winter Solstice 2018. Lucy made these:
You can see the recipe here. They’re delicious and quite healthy. And lucky. Within an hour of making them a book publishing contract was received. Obviously it was the truffles. Not the years of researching and writing and polishing… So make these. You never know what will happen!
The book in question was THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR.
Aberdeen’s 1597 witchcraft panic (mermaid) and 18th century kidnappings (fireflies) combine with love and hope in Lucy’s traditionally published novels THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR & FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE. Christmas features in both books!
The UK vegan supermarket GreenBay sell a variety of gourmet vegan products that would be great for Christmas treats such as roasts, chocolate, cheeses (including Camembert), steak and bacon etc.
And a lovely festive book…
‘Vegetarian Christmas’ by Rose Elliot. Not exclusively vegan but there is a plethora of vegan delights included and most of the lacto-ovo recipes are easily ‘veganisable’. Our favourite Christmas dinner of Chestnut and Red wine pate en croute is one of many included here along with lots of advice on taking the work out of Christmas catering. This book is full of ideas for lots of special touches which can be prepared early and frozen – a firm favourite. Now out of print but the hardcover is available cheaply from both UK and USA Amazons below and has lots of lovely photos throughout 🙂 We love this book so much we even wrote a blog post on it! Buy UK
The shops are full of vegan festive products now, including Vegan Advent Calendars. Long gone are the days when we excitedly told other vegans about the one and only dairy free calendar that you got by ordering online and paying twice what the dairy ones cost… and it always arrived with all the chocolate having fallen out 😀
There are still some that are worthy of a wee mention here though…
Playmobil do a lovely range of toy calendars with great scenes to build up day by day from traditional Nativity to dragons, unicorns, pirates and Santa’s workshop. We loved these when the kids were, well, kids, and frankly wish we still had an excuse to buy them. Look at the Back to the Future one!
This vegan udon noodle soup is spicy and richly flavoured and perfectly paired with plant-based meatballs. We used the Birds Eye ones that are made of pea protein but any would do. Alternatively pan fried tofu pieces work well.
Vegan Udon Noodle Soup Ingredients
three small packs of thick udon noodles, or one per person, straight to wok or dried
a tablespoon of vegetable oil
an onion, chopped into thin strips
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 green chilli, prepared likewise
a thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced or finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 courgette, cut into small strips
a bunch of fresh parsley, minced
a head of broccoli, broken into florets
water as needed
soy sauce to taste
salt if needed
vegan meatballs, prepared according to pack instructions (fry or bake)
In a large saucepan, fry the onion, chillis, ginger and garlic in the oil for a few minutes
add the courgette and udon noodles and fry for a few more minutes
add the broccoli and parsley, stirring to coat in the oil
cover well with water and bring to the boil
once the broccoli and noodles are tender, add the soy sauce.
add salt if needed
plate up and top with the meatballs
‘Vegetarian Christmas’ by Rose Elliot. This title is not exclusively vegan but there is a plethora of vegan delights included and most of the lacto-ovo recipes are easily ‘veganisable’. Our favourite Christmas dinner of Chestnut and Red wine pate en croute is in here along with lots of advice on taking the work out of Christmas catering. This book is full of ideas for lots of special touches which can be prepared early and frozen. Now out of print but the hardcover is available cheaply from Amazon and has lots of lovely photos throughout 🙂 We love this book so much we even wrote a blog post on it!
Kala Namak (black salt, tastes sulfurous like egg) to taste
a little olive oil
a box of fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced (or tinned ones)
a chopped red pepper
one small tin of sweetcorn
Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.
Grease a baking dish and place it in the oven to heat (frittata will cook more quickly).
Blend the tofu with the turmeric, gram flour and Kaka Namak.
Wash, slice and fry up the mushrooms and pepper in the olive oil.
Add the sweetcorn to the mix and stir until well heated through.
Combine the blended tofu mixture with the mushrooms and vegetables (in the cooking pan if big enough, or straight into the oven heated dish) and bake for at least half an hour or until the frittata/tortilla seems set through.
We served it with chips and salad above, but it is lovely on its own and also cold and sliced the next day.
This is a totally delicious sweet and sour pizza, made spicy by the inclusion of a chilli in the sauce. And it’s all about the sauce. You can put it on any base you like. We used homemade sourdough (see how we do it here) but you could use ready made bases or even pitta breads.
The quantities below made enough for a large, full roasting tin size pizza, serving four.
Sweet and Sour Pizza Sauce Ingredients
a little olive oil
one onion, finely chopped
a few cloves of garlic, really finely chopped or crushed
one small sweet potato, peeled and finely diced
one chilli pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
about a quarter cup of pineapple juice (handy if putting tinned pineapple on pizza, as you can use the juice from the can)
about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
half a tube or a small jar of tomato puree
a few sprigs of parsley, very finely chopped
salt to taste (doesn’t need much)
Toppings of choice: we used tinned pineapple, tinned mushrooms (they don’t dry up on a pizza like fresh) and Asda Free From Grated Mozzarella (Asda have the cheapest free from cheese we’ve seen).
Prepare your base as desired. In our case, we made sourdough bread dough and left it rising in the tin all day!
Fry the onion, garlic, sweet potato and chilli in the oil for a few minutes.
Add the juice, vinegar, parsley and puree
Mix well, adding more juice if too thick.
Season with salt
Spread it over your pizza base and add toppings!
How long you need to bake depends on the base. Our thick homemade one needed half an hour at 200C/400F. Pittas would need much less as they’re already cooked. In fact you could just grill them.