Monday, 1 September 2014

Vegan Mofo: Ham & Mustard Moulds


Hurray! Vegan Mofo has begun! I want to do something a little different this time round. Last year my Mofo was so poorly planned that I really didn't get involved enough in the whole community side of things, which is definitely the best part. I'm determined to read more blogs and get involved commenting and linking to things I've enjoyed. So please keep reading to the end of this post, as I have recommendations for you!

So for anyone who hasn't heard yet, I'm doing a Bizarre and Outdated Cookbooks theme and I thought I'd start with one of my favourites

Cooking With Colman's

























I got super excited when I came across this book. I love condiments! My fridge is full of jars upon jars of mustards, sauces and spreads that compliment my roast dinners, burgers and extravagant sandwich combinations. Now I had information that would allow me to incorporate my condiment collection into all of my meals! Fantastic!

Whilst there were some recipes that immediately caught my eye and excited me, I was slightly disappointed upon closer inspection that pretty much all the recipes in this book just use mustard. Yeah, there's a bit of redcurrant jelly and horseradish thrown in but essentially it's just mustard. That's fine, I like mustard but it's hardly Cooking With Colman's, it's Cooking With Colman's Mustard. Maybe I'm looking into it too much, maybe I got carried away...whatever! Time for the recipe

Ham & Mustard Moulds
An unusual savoury dish which will add elegance to any meal


Ahahahaha, yeah. So elegant. I'm totally sad of all the missed dinner party opportunities where I could have showcased this special dish. Goddammit. What I love more than this is the Cooks Tip "This dish makes an unusual starter if served without the spinach"....ahahahahahahaha! Like adding spinach makes this normal ahahahahaha. I freakin' love this book!

Okay okay, I know you're begging for this recipe right now


  • 1/2 of a Fry's Slicing Sausage/Polony, minced or finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup firm tofu
  • 4 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp English Mustard
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax meal mixed with 3 tbsp cold water)
  • 150ml soya cream
  • Soya butter/oil for greasing
  1. So first things first, preheat your oven to 190C and grease 4 castle moulds
  2. In a small bowl mash the tofu with the english mustard. Stir in the ham, breadcrumbs, flax egg and the soya cream.
  3. Divide the mixture between the moulds until 2/3 full.
  4. Stand the moulds in a baking dish and fill the dish with boiling water until it is halfway up the moulds.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top.
Serves 4

I served mine with creamed spinach and also a quick tomato basil rice I cooked up because I can't have a meal without something carby. The mixture comes out of the moulds really easily but to ensure it comes out in one piece, run a knife around the edges before turning it out.

So, what did I think of this elegant dish? Well, honestly, the mustard ruined it. I love mustard but it was a bit too strong. I think using a wholegrain or a dijon would have worked much better. Also a little seasoning! I should have trusted my instincts on this one and added salt but I put way too much in the power of condiments here. It wasn't awful, it tasted okay but it was more amusing than it was tasty.



I've only been awake a few hours today but I've already spotted some amazing posts today. Take a look at Soy Division's Thai Red Curry Tomato Soup, and the Vanilla Tahini Ice cream from Veganosaurus,

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Vegan Mofo 2014

It's back!


Vegan Mofo 2014 has officially come round again and of course I've signed up to take part. Whilst last year was a bit of a failure (I only managed 13 posts), I'm determined to do it properly this year, I've decided to try and go for the full 30 posts. Unfortunately I decided all this two weeks ago, which I thought was loads of time. I was sitting around with a print out calendar of September feeling really smug that I had my theme sorted, most of the days planned and 4 recipes under my belt. "I'm great" I was thinking to myself "I can do this easily"...and then of course I began reading all the tweets from expert Mofo bloggers who already have most of their posts drafted up...

And then the panic set in. Shiiiit.

But let's forget all that. I'm going to bloody do this. I might go insane, my head might explode with stress and I'm sure this will cause a few disasters in the kitchen along the way but I will do this, dammit! I have a list of ideas and a highlighter, everything is going to be fine!

And so I feel that with all the madness kicking off over the next few days, I can finally reveal my theme. Last year I did a monthly theme on Seasonal Cooking and this year I decided to stick with just one theme again.

Bizarre and Outdated Cookbooks


Yeah. Look at these beauties. These are just some of the cookbooks I'll be using as inspiration for the whole of September. Some of them are gloriously tacky and incredibly outdated, some are a little more recent but just plain weird. I have cooked some crazy stuff over the last few weeks and I've barely made a dent in my plan. I'm hoping there will be more laughter than there are tears but some of the things I have planned out are terrifying. To take a little pressure off myself, I've brought my collection of old vegan cookbooks into the mix but I will be veganising a lot of meaty/cheesy/eggy dishes from some awesome charity shop finds as well.

I am so excited for Mofo 2014! 

Bring it on!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Vegan Life Magazine

A brand spanking new vegan magazine has just hit the supermarket shelves and I'm feeling really excited to tell you about it.

A few months ago, I was contacted by the creators of Vegan Life Magazine and asked whether I would be interested in taking part in their blogger outreach programme, which aims to bring together a community of bloggers to work alongside the magazine. Myself and some other awesome bloggers will receive a digital copy of the magazine to review each issue. I thought this was a great idea! I couldn't refuse.


I was a little wary of what my feelings would be on the magazine. I don't really buy veggie/vegan related magazines because quite often they don't appeal to me. I was fed up spending money on magazines that I felt only represented a small part of the vegan community, and it was not the part that I was involved in or had any interest in. I'm not a vegan runner, I don't care about celebrity vegans, I'm not really into the whole health/nutrition side of things and whilst I love to cook, the recipes were often uninspiring. And I will never buy a magazine with an advertisement of vegan supplements as it's cover - that does not define veganism to me. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with enjoying these aspects of veganism but it does not appeal to me and I feel the magazines on offer do not truly represent what veganism is and the direction it's going in right now. 

Well, I'm pleased to report that things are definitely heading in the right direction with Vegan Life. There is so much packed into this issue that covers a whole range of issues, topics and interests. On my first flick through I loved the "What's New?" page, which shows a selection of new products on the vegan market and the "Favourite Books" page which has pointed me in the direction of a few new books/authors that I've not heard of. The selection of recipes inside also caught my eye (Dumplings and Pad Thai Summer Rolls are on my to do list!) and I was pleased to see both simple and more complex recipes available. When I went back and read through again, some longer, more detailed articles caught my eye. The story of P.S It's Vegan bakery starting up, leading to baker Jennifer Dunn organising Colchester's very first vegan fair was an inspiring read. I also enjoyed the article Have A Go Heroes, which detailed the rescue of thousands of the battery hens that were injured during a crash on the way to the slaughterhouse on the M62.

Yes, there were a few nutrition/cleanse based articles and yes, there was a mention of vegan runners but I don't mind that here because there is so much more that I found myself getting stuck into. It was great to look through a vegan lifestyle magazine that will appeal to a wider audience, that is accessible to both vegans and non vegans and reflects a variety of things going on within the vegan community today.

Vegan Life has officially launched, it can now be found in print at a selection of supermarkets and independent shops, as well as digitally through their app. Subscriptions are not just limited to those in the UK either, Vegan Life is available internationally too. There are three subscription packages available, for 6 issues a year

1) UK subscriptions - £14.50
2) European subscriptions - £31.42
3) The rest of the world - £37.30

If subscriptions are not for you and you only want to grab a copy every now and then, individual copies retail at £3.95...not bad if you want some light reading for a long train journey.

Head on over to the website for a sneak preview or if you've heard enough and want to subscribe, click here.

I'm looking forward to laying my eyes on the next issue and also pretty damn excited to see a vegan magazine in the mainstream.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Kale Caesar Salad

You may not know this, but part of my job involves working behind a deli counter, I serve but I also make salads and do a bit of cooking. Working in a hot, fast paced and often stressful kitchen creates a lot of close friendships, it also creates a fair bit of playful teasing. So when I mentioned that massaging kale makes for a good raw salad the other day, I had to endure laughter and endless jokes about 'happy endings'.

Unimpressed, I made this salad out of spite. I'm incredibly stubborn when I want to be and dammit, I wanted to prove them wrong. So here it is

Kale Caesar Salad (with added massaged onion)



For the onions

  • 1 large red onion
  • a generous splash of lemon juice
  • a pinch of salt
For the salad
  • Lots and lots of kale (a big bags worth), torn into bite size pieces
  • Croutons/crackers, crushed. About 1 cup worth
For the dressing
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 tsp capers, minced
  • 1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • a splash of tamari
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • 3/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • salt and pepper
For the parmesan topping
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 clove garlic
  • pinch of salt
  1. Firstly you want to thinly slice the red onion. Add it to a bowl with the lemon and salt and massage for a few minutes, until they go a beautiful bright pink and get a little soft. Set aside
  2. Tear the kale into small pieces and put into a large bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of lemon and a little salt. Massage for 3 minutes or so, you'll notice the leaves begin to get tender and wilt. Add the crushed croutons. Set aside
  3. Mix together all the dressing ingredients with a whisk. If you don't have a garlic press, just blitz the garlic and capers in a food processor. Set aside.
  4. To make the parmesan topping, blitz the cashews and garlic together in a food processor.
  5. Assemble the salad by adding the onions and dressing to the kale and croutons. Use tongs or clean hands to mix it all together. Sprinkle on a generous amount of the topping, give it a quick toss and then serve.

Makes 4 generous portions

I served mine with fried seitan and it was awesome!

Hopefully we've learnt a valuable lesson from this. When it comes to kale, I'm always right.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Berlin Round Up

So, I've already blogged about all the day to day fun I had in Berlin in parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6. These posts are pretty long though and they didn't include everything I loved about this city, so here's a round up post. I'll list all the places I visited at the bottom of this post but before that, here's some extra great things about Berlin.

Manner Wafers

So, someone gave me a heads up about these, because I would never have thought to look. They're these amazing hazelnut chocolate wafers that can be found in the majority of shops in Berlin but more importantly in the vending machines on most U-Bahn platforms. I brought so many of these back with me it was ridiculous. Everytime we caught the U-Bahn it would be like a race to see how many I could buy before our 2 minute wait was up. Luckily for me I've found somewhere in Manchester that stocks them, so my addiction can continue (Barbakan in Chorlton if anyone is interested)

Organic Grocery Stores

The city is full of them! Look out for Bio Company, Vitalia Reformhaus and Denns Biomarkt. Obviously not strictly vegan but all of these places have tons of vegan stuff, including slices of cheeze, hams, salames, pates, spreads, dips. They have it all! It's also very clearly labelled vegan, which makes things super easy if you're German isn't great.

Transport

So good! So unbelievably good! The day/week passes are awesome, they let you go on everything from U-Bahn, to S Bahn, to busses to DOUBLE DECKER TRAINS! The connections are great, the services are punctual and it really doesn't take long to get from one end of the city to the other. Just remember when purchasing your day/week ticket to get it validated before you travel. There are no barriers in Berlin, it works on an honor system but occasionally people will check if your ticket is validated. IIRC they were pretty obvious big yellow machines placed all over platforms.

Bike friendly

Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to cycle in Berlin but I am definitely planning on hiring a bike next time round. The cycle lanes are placed in the middle of traffic on busy roads, it may sound scary but cyclists are in view to motorists. Cycle lanes also didn't have cars parked on them, nor were there any lamp posts in the middle of them either! I noticed a lot of bikes that were left outside of shops unlocked. I couldn't believe it! Bike theft must be very low.

Lovely people

I really did find that a little bit of German went a long way. Everyone was really helpful when I had questions/queries but I definitely think it helped that they could see me trying to speak their language. I was a little put out when I kept speaking German and they just replied in English, but dammit I persevered!

Cheap!

This is the cheapest city I've ever visited. Everything was reasonably priced, our apartment was a great price, travel was dirt cheap, most food wasn't too expensive but on the odd occasion we paid more we could see why. Occasionally the organic shops could be pricey, but I guess that's just organic for you. It was mostly the price of specialist items though, and juice seemed to be pretty expensive too.

Round Up

Food

Veganz
Goodies
Voner
Cupcake
Berliner Eis
Zeus Pizza
Oh La La
Yellow Sunshine
Viasko
Cafe Vux
Dolores
Dr Pogo
Frittier Salon
Kadtler

Touristy Stuff
Asisi Panorama
Judisches Museum
Panorama Punkt
Museum fur Film und Fernsehen
Computerspielemuseum
East Side Gallery
Ramones Museum
Brandenburg Gate
The Reichstag

Sunday, 17 August 2014

A Vegan in Berlin: Day 6

I couldn't believe it! Our last day was already here! We got up early to eat the last of our ever growing collection of faux meats and cheeses for breakfast, pack up our stuff and clean the apartment before we left. I left it to the last minute to pack up my frozen goodies to bring back home in my cooler. How impressed are you that I came prepared?!

DOUBLE DECKER AWESOME

We left the apartment and got on a bus to Berlin Hauptbahnhof so we could drop off our luggage in the left luggage lockers. I was really pleased that both our suitcases managed to fit in the one locker and we only had to pay six euros for the day. It was definitely worth it and allowed us a lot more freedom with our day. Our train wasn't leaving until around 8pm so we jumped on a DOUBLE DECKER TRAIN!!!* to give Dr Pogo another try.

Before going into Dr Pogo we went back to Cafe Vux because goddamn that cake is great. I got myself a cheesecake and Fritz Kola to eat in and a Sachertorte to take for the 13 hour train journey that evening. Again, it was a great experience, even if I had to endure Jake giving me his judgey-eyed 'can't believe you're doing this all over again' look.

Lovely cheesecake
Just a small selection of cakes available. So pretty!
Coffee!
I was delighted to see Dr Pogo open for business. Now that I'm reviewing it properly I'll tell you a bit more about it. Like I mentioned in my previous post it's a workers co-operative. What does that mean? It means they have no hierarchy, no bosses, equal pay, equal decision making etc. Their two aims are to create self managing employment and to offer a wide range of vegan food at fair prices. Awesome right?

Packed shelves at Dr Pogo










I got excited just by looking at the display window. So many goodies lined up! As I walked inside I instantly thought of Unicorn Grocery, The Eighth Day and Single Step. This shop was everything that I think Veganz should be. They had a wide selection of European faux meats and cheeses (none of the US ones except for Tofutti, which I think is great as stuff isn't flown over) like Veganz has but it's not overkill. There were so many more interesting products that I would not have easily found elsewhere/couldn't just order online that I came across. All at far more reasonable prices too.

The fruit and veg section was bright, vibrant and tempting. The pet food section was superior to Veganz too, they actually had a wet vegan cat food! I picked some up for our toothless Aidah as an extra to her non vegan food as she often takes a swipe at the tofu on my plate. There was a great wines/beers section which helped us choose some decent gifts, a selection of German cookbooks, a counter that served drinks, fresh bread/cakes and a stand with some vegan/animal rights tees/hoodies too. The rest of the shop was general grocery stuff, wholefoods, dips, spreads, jams, chocolate etc. If I were to ever move to Berlin I'd need to be within shopping distance of Dr Pogo, I could definitely get a decent weekly shop from there and it wouldn't financially kill me.

Great pet food selection


Tempting veg!

After gathering all that I could carry we popped back to Coretex in Kreuzberg to get a few more things. By this point I was getting hungry again and I had two places in mind. First of all, we needed to get hold of vegan currywurst. I'm in Germany dammit! I could not leave without it. Secondly Zeus pizza needed to be revisited. Luckily for me Frittier Salon (a restaurant famous for its burgers) is just opposite Zeus. Perfect! I like it when a plan comes together.



We went to Frittier Salon first and ordered a currywurst each and some fries to share. This was definitely worth the wait. I'd never had currywurst before but I love it! As we had lots of time to kill and not too many plans we hung around for a while before discreetly crossing the street to sit outside Zeus.

Currywurst

It took no time to order this time round, I went for the garlic mushroom Pide pizza. I'd been dreaming of this. It was fricking great. I was pretty full from currywurst but obviously that didn't stop me. Time was getting short and I had one more place I wanted to visit before we left Berlin.

Pide Perfection!

Kadtler, a hidden gem
I'd read about Kadtler on Vegan in Brighton's blog and I was determined to get over there and try some traditional German baked goods. Luckily it was a little far out so I had time to walk off the two meals I'd just eaten. I'd read online about what was vegan beforehand and had the webpage up to guide me as I knew we were out of the touristy area and my German, whilst not awful is a little ropey. I was a little sad to see that we'd come a bit late and that there wasn't much in the counter. I panicked that all the vegan options were gone and all the vegan option names went out of my head. I think the member of staff serving saw my despair and although she didn't speak English was very helpful at pointing out what was vegan when I explained. There were lots of breads and one sweet, the apfelkuchen. I went for the cake!

I was way too full to eat it then so I saved it for my train journey. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of it but it was great and tasty and when I return to Berlin I'll be going back in the early hours so I can buy everything!

Even though in Europe people don't turn up for their trains early, my travel anxiety meant that I had to get myself there a little early. It was a good opportunity to visit the shops inside the station, look at Berlin merch that we couldn't afford and to stock up on supplies for the ridiculously long journey home. We did have around an hour where we just sat down and felt very sad that we were leaving.

Berlin is such an amazing city and 6 days was nowhere near enough to see and do everything I'd like to do. I am a little proud that I managed to get a good mix of touristy stuff in with all the food. I have a habit of visiting vegan friendly places and just waddling from one restaurant to the next, which is tasty but ultimately not the only reason I like to travel.

I have a few more great things I came across/noticed/enjoyed that haven't really fit in with my day to day reviews so I'll be putting together a round up and extra tips post up tomorrow, so stay tuned for more!

* The double decker train is one of the single best life experiences ever. I'm so sad that we will never have them in the UK.

Friday, 15 August 2014

A Vegan in Berlin: Day 5

I woke up on day 5 and panicked a little. This was our last full day and I wanted it to cram a lot of stuff in. I made a big breakfast to go over the big plans for the day.
Dr Pogo

I decided it was time to find Dr Pogo - an awesome vegan grocery store that is run as a workers co-operative. It was a little out of the way so I figured we might as well start there. So with food in our bellies we headed over to Neukolln Station, just a short walk away. This was a very different part of Berlin to that we had seen, we were clearly outside of the more touristy/hip parts of the city. I got a little concerned as everything in the area had shutters down. I figured we were in a run down part of town and carried on to Dr Pogo. We got there and it looked pretty dark inside, clearly not open. I checked the opening times on the door and we definitely weren't early. It suddenly dawned on me that something wasn't right here. A few google searches later and we discovered it was some special bank holiday in Germany that day. Damn!

I peered through the windows and moped about for a little while, hoping that against all odds someone would come running down the street with keys, ready to open up. When that didn't happen I trudged towards the next S-Bahn. I was feeling a bit dishearted until we walked past a building surrounded by scaffolding. Looked like it was some kind of cafe...and it was open...dammit, why couldn't a vegan friendly place be open instead?...and then I saw it...'Vegane' was written on the window. I doubled back and looked for a sign. I had just stumbled across Cafe Vux.

"Cafe Vux!" I gasped "This place is vegan! We're going in!"

This place had been on my list of eateries but I'd figured we weren't going to get the chance, when I'd looked it up it seemed too far out of the way and I'd never really made the connection that it was round the corner from Dr Pogo. Despite being full from our breakfast, I was determined to make the trip there worth it. One look at cake on offer and I knew we'd ended up in Neukolln for a reason.

This place sells the most beautiful layer cakes I have ever seen. They were just so perfect, I could not find fault in any of their appearances. After drooling and pointing excitedly at everything on offer, I finally went for a white sponge cake, with apricots on the bottom, iced in a pink cream cheese icing.

The most beautiful cake in the world

Just look at it. Do you understand the perfection now? The sponge was incredible. I have never eaten a cake that this light. It melted in my mouth. I felt it was such a special cake that I made it last longer than 30 seconds. Anyone who knows me will know that I have not done this before. I didn't want this experience to end. Whilst spacing out each bite I took time to enjoy my Fritz Kola, to enjoy the lovely atmosphere of the spacious cafe and I spoke to Jake a bit as well, mostly about how fricking amazing the cakes there were.

 Somehow I managed to leave without cake to takeaway, probably because I knew deep down that I would definitely be returning on our final day.

With the sun shining outside and our bellies more full than ever, we made our way to Warschauer Strasse so we could walk down the East Side Gallery; a 1.3km section of the Berlin wall, consisting of 105 paintings from artists all over the world. This was definitely going to burn off some of our early overeating.

Well, it would have done, had we not walked past the Veganz located at Warschauer Strasse, which had a van parked outside cooking up vegan waffles. It was painful but this had to happen. WAFFLES!

WAFFLES!
Right, food time was definitely over. We had to get moving, despite the excrutiating pain in our stomachs. We walked along the East Side Gallery and took pictures of all of it, so I'll only share a few with you.


I really enjoyed this, we were lucky that it wasn't too busy and we could wander at our own pace and take photos without too much difficulty. It was amazing to see so much artwork out in the open.

The Ramones Museum
After wandering around for a few hours we made our way to Mitte, the center of Berlin. It's probably a little weird that we only made our way to this part of the city on our last full day and part of me is a little sad that we didn't spend a huge amount of time there, but there were so many things I wanted to see/eat/do in other areas of Berlin.

Our first stop was The Ramones Museum, because if you're punk and you're in Berlin you have to go there. Even if you don't like the Ramones that much. It's the rule. It was a lot smaller than I expected but I really liked it there. We paid around 5 euros and got a free drink from the bar. The museum was basically a cool bar with a wall signed by loads of bands who have visited, and lots of other memorabilia.


This led to the main museum part, which is a large room filled with old posters, newspaper articles, photos...even a Garfield Jigsaw with The Ramones on it. There's also a small room with  seating where you can watch a documentary on loop. I was pretty tired so I sat in there watching for a while.

It was really chilled out there so it was a nice way to spend an hour or so of our afternoon. I'm sure if we were drinkers we would have spent longer at the bar.

We began wandering around Mitte after the museum. We saw the Brandenburg Gate, The Jewish Memorial Garden and then walked over to the Reichstag. Unfortunately we couldn't go into the Reichstag but it's an amazing building.
Reichstag
Brandenburg Gate

Whilst waiting around at the Brandenburg Gate I saw these amazing seven seater bikes! I was so sad there were only two of us, I vow to return to Berlin with more people so I can have a go on these next time round!

So who wants to ride on this with me?!

Judge me all you want but after all this, it was getting late and I had room in my belly for food. I'd been recommended Dolores by a friend, which was located in Mitte so dinner was an obvious choice.


I was impressed by Dolores, it's not 100% veggie or vegan but it has great vegan options and was great for fast food in a casual atmosphere, just what we needed after a long day of wandering.

I went for the Vegan Lover Burrito; soy meat, guac, peanut sauce, rice, beans, veggies and salad. It was a great burrito, it was a bit of a novelty to finally have one with faux meat in it and the peanut sauce was weirdly great. It also finished me off, so we returned to the apartment to pack and plan our last few hours in this amazing city.

The Vegan Lover Burrito