I’m having a wonderful holiday. Christmas Day was fantastic, Boxing Day was chilled and we’ve had guests, which has meant food. Party food! I’ve been aided in this area by some wonderful finds in Archie Browns and Holland and Barrett including a gigantic porkless pie, Brussels style pate, fishless thai style fish cakes (surprisingly and freakishly authentic tasting) plus a selection of Indian savouries courtesy of the Co-op.
Whilst I do need a helping hand around this time of year (and I’m not ashamed to cheat a little) I do try to make as much as I can from scratch and even though I’m nowhere near as organised as I’d like to be I have found the time to rustle up some simple vegan party goodies. The ones featured here are actually for a party I’m going to tonight. Being vegan I do have to ensure I always bring something edible to such events else we may starve.
For me this is no chore, as nothing pleases me more than to spread the Vegan love in the form of yummy eats and both of these recipes are so quick and simple they can be made in advance, stored in the fridge, ready to go on the day you need them.
I should stop now because I’ve a potato salad to make to accompany my frittata’s, raw balls and spiced ginger chestnut bread!
mini tofu frittata
1 green pepper
1 cup frozen peas
2 large cloves garlic
handful chopped flat leaf parsley
1 pack of firm tofu (approx 400g)
1/2 cup soy milk
1 tsp tumeric
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp oil
salt and pepper
Heat oven to 200 degrees celsius/390 fahrenheit
Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Finely chop the onion and add to pan. Season and sweat for several minutes ensuring the onion doesn’t colour.
Chop the pepper into small pieces and add to frying pan. Allow to soften with onion. Crush the garlic and add to the pan. Season generously. Add the frozen peas and a little water. Cook for a few minutes until the peas are defrosted. Stir through the chopped parsley. Set aside.
Drain the tofu and press out any excess water. I like to set it on a plate and place another plate on top, rest a heavy pan on top of that and after a few minutes drain again.
Break the tofu into pieces and put in a food processor. Season generously, add the tumeric, flour and half the soya milk. Blitz until smooth adding more soya milk if it is too thick. The consistency should be like that of soft whipped cream.
Pour the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the onion, pepper and pea until it is fully combined.
Carefully spoon the mixture into silicon muffin cases and bake in oven for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool and then keep in fridge until you need them.
Now for something sweet!
chocolate and peanut butter raw balls
8-10 pitted dates
handful chopped pecans
2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon cocoa powder and more for dusting
1 tablespoon date syrup
Put all the ingredients in a food processor or do it in two lots in a hand blender – my preferred choice.
Turn out the rubble mixture into a bowl and roll a teaspoon amount into a ball. Repeat until you get approx. 12 raw balls.
Place in fridge overnight and on the day you need them dust in cocoa powder. Eat, share, love.
…..hasn’t really gotten off the ground yet. Still on tour and still not cooking and creating the way I’d normally do around this time of year, which is, to be perfectly frank, making me miserable. It is right about now that I want to be in the comfort of my beautiful Cornish kitchen and not freezing my butt off in some cottage in Scotland. As idyllic as a cottage in rural Scotland may sound, it is not all it is cracked up to be – believe me.
So I keep myself buoyant with thoughts of all the things I will be cooking, drinking and eating over the Christmas period. I’ve been slowly gathering in things like vegan fudge, vegan chocolate caramels and after dinner mints. I’m determined this is going to be one heck of a vegan Christmas - no holds barred, I’m going all out and then some. Sure, it won’t be perfect and I’m prepared for that but I’m going to give it a damn good try. After all this is our first Vegan Christmas and I’m still learning but that’s the exciting part- if nothing else I do relish a challenge!
For the big day itself I’m planning on a huge feast with all the usual trimmings, combining British and Stateside dishes because we thought this time last year we’d be spending this upcoming Yule in Chicago. It wasn’t meant to be, as they say, and here I am in Scotland and our new home in Cornwall is where we’ll be spending Christmas. I could let the fact this is the third year in a row I haven’t decorated my Christmas tree get me down but that’s the least of my worries at this stage – we’ll be lucky to make it home in time for Christmas Eve judging by the chaotic weather right now. I had so very many plans for this year, the first year I might add, my Husband and I will be celebrating the holidays together. I will miss my family, of course, but we felt it was an important thing to do.
Enough of my sombre musings. This is supposed to be a time of joy, happiness and peace. In reality I should be counting my blessings because I am a very lucky girl with a wonderful Husband and a fantastic family. Let me then cheer the mood by quickly telling you what I have lined up for my Christmas dinner. Whilst I had wanted to make a chestnut pie for the main I’ve now resigned myself, mainly due to time constraints, to sampling Redwoods celebration roast. What I’ll be serving alongside is sure to excite any true foodie, omni, veggie, vegan or otherwise. Of course there’ll be roast potatoes but also a sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, spiced brussel sprouts with pomegranate seeds, braised cabbage and apple, sage and onion stuffing balls, maple glazed parsnips and gravy. I still haven’t decided on afters but it’s a toss up between a Mont Blanc, an ice-cream bombe or cinnamon poached pears with ice-cream and brandy snaps. Maybe you could kindly help me choose? It would be much appreciated.
Drinks are very important at this time of year and aside from the usual mulled wine, on Christmas Eve we’ll be sipping on divinely festive glasses of Nigella’s Poinsettia Cocktail. Christmas Day itself will see us drinking Candy Cane Martini’s (I’m pretty excited about these!!), which is a recipe I discovered in this months free Sainsbury’s mag. You could grab a free mag yourself or save yourself the trouble and follow the recipe below – yes, I have been kind enough to type it out for you, you can thank me all later!
candy cane martini
Pour 50ml chilled vodka into a cocktail shaker. Add 3 drops peppermint essence and ice cubes and shake well, until the shaker frosts. Strain into a martini glass, top with *lemonade and decorate with a sprig of mint and candy cane on the side.
*US readers please note Lemonade in the UK is akin to Sprite – a sugary fizzy drink with a mere hint of lemon. Do not use traditional Lemonade.
Also, for those of you interested in spicing up your day and doing something a little different with your brussels then see the recipe below. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
spiced brussel sprouts with pomegranate seeds
10 brussel sprouts
1 teaspoon cumin
sea salt and pepper
Finely slice an onion. Heat a little oil and soya butter in a pan and lightly fry the onion until it softens – about 8-10minutes. Remember to season your onion with sea salt to ensure they don’t colour.
Slice the brussel sprouts – fairly thinly, you should get about four slices out of each sprout. Add to pan and fry for about 10minutes until they soften but don’t loose shape – we don’t want any mushy sprouts here;)
Sprinkle over the cumin and thoroughly mix allowing to infuse for a few minutes. Season. Before serving stir through the seeds from the pomegranate – you may have to encourage them out with a knife or just give the back of the fruit a hard tap with a wooden spoon.
And finally. I did make these odd little sweet treats one day when I was bored and desperately wanted to bake but had none of the relevant ingredients to do so. They are strangely moreish even though they are like a cross between chocolate covered cookie dough and a cake ball – neither one nor the other and kinda difficult to describe. Confused? I am. Hopefully, someone out there will appreciate it – they sure did comfort me when I needed cheering on a horribly cold and lonely day.
chocolate covered cookie cake balls
1 cup plain flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup soya milk
3 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 bar vegan dark chocolate
handful of vegan white chocolate buttons
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/390 fahrenheit.
In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients. Mash the banana and combine with the soya milk and agave nectar. Stir into dry ingredients and thoroughly combine. If it is too dry add a little more milk and likewise if it is too wet add more flour.
You should make a rough dough. Pull off small pieces and rolls between hands to make a ball shape. Place on a baking sheet and repeat. Bake in oven for 15-20minutes.
Allow to cool. Melt chocolate in a saucepan with a splash of soya milk. Roll the balls in the chocolate and top with each with a white chocolate button. Allow to cool and the chocolate to harden before eating. Keep in freezer and let them thaw for at least 20minutes before eating.
Okay, that’s all my news for now. I’m leaving you with an image of my advent calendar because I think it’s mega cute. It was a gift from my Husband – he got himself one too so together we could count down the days to our reunion (pass the sick bucket?).
It’s been great to catch up. I’m so looking forward to posting about some more magnificently seasonal delights very very soon. Just in case I don’t have an opportunity to update before the 25th let me take this opportunity to thank you all for being such wonderfully loyal readers and to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas x
Sooooooo, I’ve been a very bad blogger of late. An uber bad one if you will and it makes me very upset because I love this little blog and the wonderful readers and the lovely comments. I’m very lucky really because even though I haven’t been updating as regularly my views have remained relatively consistent, which has given me pangs of guilt because I know that some people must be logging on to see if I’ve finally written something.
I’ve not made any secret of the difficulties this tour has posed with regards to the upkeep of my blog but it has been taken to the next level over the past few weeks. Not only have I not been taking photo’s of my food but I’ve found myself so completely exhausted in the evenings that the thought of typing is just too much exertion.
I have managed to find the time to eat, of course! Breakfast and lunch are rushed jobs but luckily in the evenings I can take a little more time to prepare and enjoy some food – I need this for my sanity alone. For brekkie I’ve been having toast with peanut/almond butter and jam. I always use jam without added sugar – I’m a fan of St.Dalfour – and I never ever use peanut butter that contains palm oil! Another favourite is fruit, plain soya yoghurt, granola, chopped pecans and a squeeze of agave nectar – seriously delicious. Sometimes carbs are the only thing on my mind though and for those occasions when toast just won’t do I’ll allow myself a bagel or crumpet. Sainsbury’s own brand crumpets are vegan (says so on the packet – thankyou yet again Sainsburys!) and I like the cinnamon and raisin bagels from the New York Bakery Co.
Lunchtimes vary wildly and I could be having anything from leftovers from the night before to a hummus and carrot sandwich. What I do need after each performance though is a sugar fix and this is where my vegan sweet treats come into play. I know I’ve told you about Nakd bars before but they really are so good. My absolute favourite varieties are without a shadow of a doubt the cashew cookie and cocoa orange – totally yum, totally raw and not totally bad for you. If I’m feeling particularly naughty then only chocolate will do and being vegan doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of this most popular of confectionery. I’ve sampled too many vegan chocolate bars to keep track of but I was so thrilled to discover these vegan white chocolate buttons. Before my vegan days I was a white chocolate nut and these little Humdinger dairy free beauties really do hit the spot. This company make an array of amazing vegan snacks that make my life so much easier. The latest addition to the Humdinger food family is the fantastic reggae reggae nuts, which are insanely moreish – I love that Levi Roots dude too, he’s so cool!
Now I’m entering the treacherous territory of ‘may contain’ products so you decide for yourself where you stand and how you feel about consuming such foods. For me, I am reassured by The Vegan Society’s stance and I choose to enjoy these products. Many dark chocolate bars fall into this category and the one featured here is a Sainsbury’s own brand bar that was really very nice. Smooth and not too bitter and excellent for melting, so I’d recommend it for cooking. However, it pales in comparison to Montezuma’s Dark Chocolate Giant Buttons. Holy smokes, I cannot begin to explain to you how good these are. Phenomenally good. Extraordinarily good! Nope, it’s no good, you’ll just have to buy a batch to test yourself. Do it! You know you want to.
Lastly, I have a confession to make. I have a slight obsession with marzipan. Loved by some, loathed by others, marzipan is a curious treat but one I am an unabashed fan of. Ritter Sport do an excellent vegan bar but I’m afraid it doesn’t come close to the Organic Dark Chocolate Marzipan bar made by Lyme Regis. This bar out of this world good and my darling Husband brought me up a few on his last visit. Now that is love.
I’m currently sitting in a cottage in Scotland, where it has snowed pretty heavily and whilst stunningly beautiful to look at the reality is it’s freezing cold and I can’t seem to get warm no matter how many cups of tea I drink or how many logs I put on the fire. In fact, I have lost feeling in some of my fingers, which isn’t helping in the writing of this post. I’ve resigned myself to feeling this cold until I arrive safely back in the arms of my Husband in our wonderfully cosy flat in glorious Penzance – I have never missed a place so much!
Being away from home at this time of year is hard. When you’re surrounded by everything Christmas and want to be in the company of people you know and love you it can be extremely hard to relish in the happiness you should feel at this special time of year.
And so I turn to food. As ever, it is my comfort, my obsession, my solace and my joy. Food can do that and Christmas is the ultimate time for celebrating life through food. I’ve bestowed the virtues of figs before in a recent couscous recipe but this time it’s time for a sweet treat in the form of a fig tart – a pudding of sorts.
This is just a wee bit festive but a whole lotta delicious and must, must, must be served either with some creamy vegan ice-cream or a generous splash of soya cream – or both if you’re feeling particularly naughty!
I am crazy about figs and whilst they are divine on their own, they’re even better when tampered with ever so slightly. I haven’t used much agave nectar in my cooking but wanted to remedy that with this dish and I was thrilled with the results. No, it’s not as sweet as honey but that is a plus to my mind. Obviously, as a vegan I don’t consume honey but I can guarantee you the distinct flavour of honey would only interfere with the specialness of the figs.
Christmas is nearing and this takes minutes to make so welcome in the season with this figgy tart x
fig and pecan tart
1 sheet of defrosted puff pastry (I use jus rol)
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/390 fahrenheit.
Wash and slice the figs. Halve the pastry sheet, lay one half on top of the other and transfer to a baking sheet before topping with the figs and pecans.
Line the pastry with a layer of figs ensuring to leave a gap around the edge to allow the pastry room to puff up. Squeeze over a little agave nectar – a teaspoon or so – and sprinkle over a small amount of brown sugar (again approx a tsp).
Roughly chop the pecans and sprinkle over the figs along with some more brown sugar and agave nectar – it’s a matter of preference really but go easy on the agave nectar because you don’t want your tart to have a soggy bottom (oo er!).
Bake in the oven for 15-20mins. Keep an eye on it as all ovens are different and it could very well need more/less time.
Finally, I have a minute to update my blog. I’ve been able to make home cooked meals every night but photographing the results and indeed having the energy to write up the recipe is pretty difficult much to my annoyance. I must say though that my Vegan diet is sustaining me well and I know I would be feeling a lot worse if I were eating animal products – particularly dairy, as it did seem to zap me. There’s so much conflicting information out there and as a relatively new vegan convert it can make your head spin sometimes so I try my best to listen to my body and make an extra effort to get all the nutrients I need to be healthy and strong.
I’ve been eating a lot of marmite and fortified foods, as well as taking a B12 supplement so I think I’m covered on that front. I’m also conscious of getting enough vitamin D, C, K and iron so I endeavour to eat a balanced diet right throughout the day. I must admit that I am consuming a heck of a lot more food than I normally would just because this job is so physically demanding. If you think being an actor is glamourous, think again! This is hard graft. Lots of lifting and two shows a day playing multiple characters is not for the faint hearted. It’s a high energy show too so there’s never a minute during the performance when you’re not doing something either on or off stage. Of course, it is tremendously rewarding and seeing those smiling faces makes it all worthwhile.
Anyway, this is a recipe I’ve used time and again when we’re eating Mexican style. It’s gone down well with everyone who’s ever tried it – Olive loved it so much she now makes it regularly too (by the way, hope you liked her wicked recipe!). It’s so simple but incredibly tasty and goes well with just about any Mexican dish. Here I made a sort of tofu fajita mix with paprika roasted sweet potatoes, brown rice with freshly chopped flat leaf parsley and the mexican sweetcorn, which was absolutely the star of the show.
Make it, eat it, love it x
1 can of organic sweetcorn or 1 cup frozen sweetcorn
3/4 spring onions
1 green chilli or 1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno peppers (optional)
large handful freshly chopped flat leaf parsley or coriander
1 cup soya cream
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soya butter
salt and pepper
Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan/skillet. Roughly chop the spring onions and add to the pan. Season with sea salt and pepper and lightly fry for a few minutes.
If using the frozen sweetcorn, place it in a bowl and cover with freshly boiled water. Allow to defrost for a few minutes and drain. If using the canned variety just drain and add to pan. Lightly fry for a several minutes. Season.
Finely chop the chilli or jalapeno peppers. Add to pan and cook for a minute or two.
Add the cream and heat through. Chop the parsley/coriander and just before serving add to pan. Give it thorough stir, taste, season if necessary and serve with anything from quesadillas to fajitas to chimichangas.