5 A Day Smoothie

We all know we should be getting (at least) 5 portions of fruit and veg every day but sometimes that can be easier said than done. Even us vegans have to be vigilant about our intake because it can be all too easy to rely on convenience food particularly during the week. Therefore a few shortcuts here and there are essential in ensuring we remain fit and healthy and full of energy.

Smoothies are a superb way of making sure you get that fruit and veg injection with minimal fuss. As with anything though I’m very picky when it comes to my smoothies. I have an aversion to gloop and smoothies can so easily be gloop therefore it is of paramount importance that my smoothies are exactly that – smooth!

I find that smoothies can so often resemble a shake in texture and, if adding yoghurt or milk, taste. Thick, heavy and rendering even the widest of straws completely redundant. If I wanted a shake, I’d order a shake – believe me, I like nothing more than a rich vegan soy shake to accompany my indulgent vegan hotdog (not that I’ve had this combo since leaving my beloved Chicago – sniff, sniff). In my opinion shakes and smoothies have become somewhat confused, so this is my effort to restore the smoothie back to its original state.

The first time I’d ever heard of a smoothie was in an episode of Neighbours (an  Australian soap that was ridiculously popular in the UK when I was a youngster) when Craig Maclachan’s character (Henry Ramsey) was making himself one and I was immediately intrigued – I wanted a smoothie! But try finding somewhere that sold smoothies in Northern Ireland in the early nineties. To compound this we didn’t own a blender either so it was a looooog time before I actually managed to sample one. London exposes you to many wonderful cuisines and all my foodie desires were fulfilled when I moved there as a young lass of 18 and it was there I had my first smoothie.

This particular smoothie doesn’t use bananas although feel free to add one – it will change the texture though so you may want to thin it out with a little more water, ice cubes or lime juice. Don’t be tempted to add more orange juice though, as it will really interfere with the taste. Be sure to blend, blend, blend until it is super smooth but not a juice. It’s a fine balance but the results are worth it. This smoothie is the perfect pick me up, however, if you do want to make it a breakfast smoothie then toss in a tablespoon of flaxseeds or a few seeds for extra oomphf – oh yeah, that is a word. I think.

5 a day smoothie

1/4 cucumber

6 or 7 strawberries

1 apple

1 kiwi

1 pear

juice 1 lime

juice 1/2 orange

splash water or two ice cubes

1 tsp agave nectar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

small pinch ground cinnamon

15 drops echinacea (optional and only if you feel you need a boost to your immune system – i did)

Peel and de-seed the cucumber and cut into small pieces. Wash, hull and chop the strawberries. Peel and chop the kiwi, apple and pear into small pieces.

Place all the fruit into a blender and add the lime and orange juice, as well as the water – start with 1 tbsp and go from there, it will depend on how thin/thick you want the smoothie.

Blend on a high speed until everything is liquidized. Then add the agave nectar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and echinacea (if you’re using it). Blend again and serve immediately.

You could also add a few ice cubes in place of the water and this means your smoothie will be nice and cool.

Get blending!

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Uber Easy Vegan Inside Out Sushi Rolls

Not so long ago I wrote a fairly detailed post on assembling an easy vegan sushi roll. Those ones happened to be the traditional nori roll with the nori sheet surrounding the filling – del.ic.ious. I wasn’t sure how to top those homemade nori rolls until I discovered the uramaki roll (inside out roll to you and me). Since then I’m in two minds as to which I prefer, it really is a close call but I think the uramaki might just pip the nori to the post.

It’s not that I hadn’t tasted an inside out roll before. I fondly remember sweet potato maki rolls at Coast (that sushi bar I always bang on about – if you’re in Chicago, GO!) and if I ever buy sushi from a supermarket (I know, I know but there are times when a girl needs sushi, even bad sushi) it’s the maki rolls I like the most.

Now, I could’ve given a you a blow by blow picture tutorial of how I went about assembling my uramaki roll – that would’ve been helpful, right? Yes. But what is even more helpful is me posting a link to the video that helped me construct these fabulous morsels. Watch this video and I doubt you’ll have any problems. If you do, blame me.

Of course, this is a vegan inside out roll so ignore the fillings used in the video. I went for a roasted pepper, grated carrot and pea shoot combo. For the few nori rolls I also made I added some bean shoots for extra crunch. I also mixed the umeboshi paste with a little yoghurt, as I found the taste can be somewhat overpowering. You could also use vegan mayo – garlic mayo would also work really well.

Roasted peppers are things of glory, in my opinion, but I find some people can be a bit intimated by them. Fear not. There is absolutely no need to stand over a hot flame whilst rotating your pepper until it’s blackened. Nope, nope, nope! The easiest way to roast a pepper is to cut the pepper into quarters (removing the seeds and all that) and place them under a grill (broiler to my American chums) until the skins are black. Remove them and cover tightly with cling film or a clean plastic bag. When they have cooled carefully peel the skin – do not run them under water, as all that lovely charred flavour will be ruined. Slice, chop, use them in a multitude of dishes. They truly are one of the most flavoursome and versatile ingredients, I just love ’em.

Go on – make a maki!

p.s. apologies for including some nori roll photos – I just wanted to show how much my rolling skills have improved. Shameless.

uber easy vegan inside out sushi rolls

1 cup sushi rice

3 sheets nori

1 orange pepper

1 large carrot

peashoots

2 tsp umeboshi paste

1/4 cup natural soy yoghurt

1/2 cup poppy seeds

3 tbsp sushi rice seasoning

salt and pepper (optional)

tamari

wasabi powder

Place the sushi rice in a large saucepan. Cover with two cups water, place a lid on the pan and leave to soak for 30mins. Bring to a boil and then gently simmer for approx 10mins until the all the liquid has been absorbed. Transfer to a baking sheet or large dish, pour over the sushi rice seasoning, mix thoroughly, spread out evenly and leave to cool while you tend to the other ingredients.

Quarter and de-seed the pepper. Place under the grill or broiler and roast until the skin is blackened. Cover tightly with cling or a plastic bag. Allow to cool before peeling the skin. Slice lengthways into long thin strips. Set aside.

In a small bowl combine the yoghurt and umeboshi paste along with a little salt and pepper. Set aside.

Peel and finely grate the carrot. Squeeze out any excess juice by pressing it between your hands – over a sink! Set aside.

Cover your rolling mat with cling film. Halve the nori sheet. Wet your hands and grab a ball of sushi rice, placing it in the centre of the nori and spread by pressing outwards using the tips of your fingers until the rice almost covers the entire sheet – leave a small uncovered strip at the top. Flip the sheet over and arrange your fillings lengthways along the sheet. I began with layering the pepper strips, placing them just above the centre, then carefully spreading the umeboshi paste mixture in the middle of sheet. Place the grated carrot on top of the paste and top everything with a generous handful of peashoots.

Using the mat to help you, tightly roll the sushi – don’t be afraid to tuck in ingredients as you go. You don’t have to be as delicate with the roll as you might think – roll with confidence!

Pour the poppy seeds into a large plate and coat the sushi by rolling the entire piece in the seeds. Place the roll onto a chopping board. Fill a tall glass or cup with water and wet your knife (make sure it is sharp). Cut the sushi roll in half and place the two smaller rolls beside one another. Clean and wet your knife and cut the doubled up rolls into three, each time cleaning and wetting your knife.

Make up the wasabi using a teaspoon of wasabi powder and a little water. Throughly mix until a thick paste is formed. Put a small amount in a sushi soy sauce dish, pour in a generous amount of tamari and use your chopsticks to incorporate the wasabi. Use this sauce to dip your maki rolls – not too much mind, that stuff is hot!

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Vegan Matcha Cupcakes

I’m alternating healthy recipes with not so healthy ones at the moment – this is my version of a balanced diet. Am I kidding myself? Probably, but I can live with that.

Cupcakes were never at the top of my sweet treat list. I’ve never really gotten overly excited about them for some reason – well, actually, I know the reason. I’ve always found they never quite lived up to their promising appearance. Yes, they look all cute and girly and naughty but when it comes to the taste, I find they are, more often than not, underwhelming. I know that isn’t the right thing to say but I’m just being honest here.

Fear not though because my appreciation for cupcakes took a turn for the better in the not too distant past. When I turned vegan I thought I’d said goodbye to things like cupcakes, pizza, burgers – little did I know that vegan doesn’t mean deprivation and there are vegan versions of just about anything you can think of. That seems like such a long time ago now. Since then I have indulged (maybe a tad too much) in virtually every vegan treat possible and along the way I acquired a whole new and unexpected love for the cupcake.

This lady needs to take some of the credit:

http://www.mscupcake.co.uk/

She makes the best cupcakes in the UK. If I could have sampled every flavour I would have but by the time we managed to get to her stall in Greenwich Market she only had a handful of cupcakes left and two different flavours – blueberry and lemon. By golly were they good though and I don’t mean good for ‘vegan’ cupcakes, I mean just great cupcakes full stop. Certainly better than any cupcake I’d ever previously sampled as an omnivore and it got me thinking – maybe cupcakes can taste as good as they look ’cause these ones certainly did.

Next up on my vegan cupcake journey I discovered there was an entire book dedicated just to vegan cupcakes – the very appropriately named Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. Fast forward to more recent times – more recent than the not too distant past anyway – and we come to these very cupcakes, made by combining my new found love for cupcakes and my new found love for matcha.

Matcha, in case you didn’t click on the link, is basically green tea, which might sound a bit weird if you’re not familiar with it as an ingredient. I mean, green tea cupcakes don’t sound particularly appetizing and if you have an aversion to green tea as some people do then this whole recipe might not appeal. Regardless, I urge you stay with me on this cupcake journey. So confident am I that you will like love these cupcakes that I’m willing to go out on a limb by saying they are the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted. That is a bold claim, I know, but I really do mean it. These cupcakes will convert all those cupcake and matcha naysayers – of that I am sure.

Just so you know, texturally, they are denser than your typical cupcake but that is a good thing in my opinion. Not forgetting the frosting – ah, the frosting! Yep, I’m going to wax lyrical about the frosting too. Seriously, seriously great. You might think matcha on matcha is bit too much matcha (that’s a mouthful and it was!) then think again because you can never have too much matcha. I will be refining this recipe (any excuse to make these cupcakes a million more times) so you may find another matcha cupcake recipe crop up on my blog at some point – all in the name of cupcake research!

All hail the cupcake. They really do rock!

vegan matcha cupcakes (ever so slightly adapted from vegan cupcakes take over the world by Isa Chandra Moskovitz and Terry Hope Romero)

1 1/4 cups plain white flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

3 tsp matcha powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup soy yoghurt

1/2 cup rice milk

1/3 cup sunflower oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/390 degrees fahrenheit.

Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl: flour, sugar, matcha powder, salt and baking powder. Thoroughly mix.

Whisk the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl and gradually add to the dry ingredients, mixing with a spatula. Careful not to over mix.

Divide into silicon muffin/cupcake cases and bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes. Check they are ready by inserting a toothpick into the centre – if it comes out clean they are good to go.

Allow to completely cool on a rack before frosting.

vegan matcha frosting

1/4 cup sunflower or soya spread (or any non-dairy spread)

1 tsp rice/soy milk

3/4 cup icing sugar (pref.organic)

1 tsp matcha powder

Using an electric whisk beat the ‘butter’ and ‘milk’  until fluffy – a minute or two. Add the icing sugar and matcha powder and beat for a further five minutes.

Pipe onto the cupcakes and decorate with any vegan cake topper. If you don’t have a piping bag you can using a spatula to create swirl effect – here’s a helpful video.

p.s. would you just look at those hyacinth’s! They are currently filling my apartment with an incredible fragrance. I love flowers.

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Vegan Bircher Muesli

After three months on tour and relying a wee bit too much on convenience foods – namely Linda McCartney’s vegan range, bagel’s, baked beans, that sorta thing – I’m desperate to get back to my relatively healthy eating ways. I’m not really one for snacking but being on tour means you have to snack throughout the day just to keep energy levels up and whilst I love marmite rice crackers and nakd bars, there are only so many a girl can eat before she’s sickened with the sight of them.

Carbs were calling my name every morning and unfortunately I answered by consuming a few too many crumpets, a heap load of toast and a decent helping of those bagels I mentioned – not all at the same time I hasten to add! Topped with pb&j, this was my favourite and, to be perfectly frank, easiest breakfast of choice – the other bonus being it filled me up until lunchtime, which, especially when you’re having to do two shows back to back, is essential. Luckily because I was so active I ended up losing weight instead of gaining but I knew my body wasn’t happy so being back home and in my own kitchen was a welcome relief, as I felt I could return to my normal eating ways.

A few too many excuses there perhaps (and I occasionally did have granola, fruit and soy yoghurt – occasionally being the operative word there!) but believe me (and I know you do seeing as I’ve bleated on about it so much) that tour was tough enough without restricting my food too. Food really was my only comfort and because I didn’t want to linger in the communal kitchen too long, quick and easy eats became an absolute priority – get in and get out – so there were lots of stir fries and pasta. Carbs, carbs, carbs!

Carbs are still on the menu in our house but not in the same quantity I was inhaling them when away. I started off the new week with this wonderful vegan bircher muesli. Honestly, if I were to have only one breakfast for the rest of my life this might be it, it is just so darn delicious. If you’re not a soy gal/guy then there may be other non-dairy yoghurts on the market where you live that would make a great substitute – I hear So Delicious have a new coconut milk yoghurt available (sadly not in the UK but we live in hope!). I did try ricera yoghurt when I lived in the States but I wasn’t crazy about it – although it would certainly be nice to have an alternative to soy right now.

Anyhoo, whatever yoghurt you use I can’t imagine this bircher muesli not tasting absolutely, out of this world, fantabulous. It’s light yet filling, sweet but not sickly with lots of texture and a heap load of taste – surely the perfect way to start your morning? Now, I’m not claiming this to be the perfect superhero recipe – what with the use of processed items such as rice milk and soy yoghurt plus the sugar from the dried fruit etc. – but I see no harm in having a bowlful of this loveliness a couple of times a week. I’m all about mixing it up, so have the kale smoothie by all means but include a bircher in your life sometimes. For me being ‘healthy’ encompasses my mental health too and I’m pretty sure a kale smoothie in the morning wouldn’t get me leaping out of bed the way this muesli does.

This breakfast is the original overnight oats recipe – y, know, that breakfast sensation that’s taken the (vegan) world by storm over the past few years? You can soak the oats in water, any non-dairy milk or even apple juice – although I think that might be apple overkill. When you arise fresh as a daisy in the morn all you have to do is mix in the other ingredients and et voila a nutritious brekkie awaits – now that’s what I call slow, fast food. Those swiss sure do know how to work an oat.

How do you like your eggs oats in the morning? I like mine with a kiss x

vegan bircher muesli

in each bowl:

3 tbsp rolled oats

approx 1/4 cup rice milk (or any non-dairy, water or apple juice)

1/2 apple

1 tbsp cranberries (or gogi berries)

1 tbsp sultanas or raisins

1 tbsp chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds work best)

2 tbsp plain soy yoghurt (or any non-dairy yoghurt but ensure it is plain)

agave nectar (optional)

1 tbsp mixed seeds

Place the oats in a bowl and cover with rice milk. Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning peel and grate the apple – I like mine very fine, almost puree like but you may want the strands slightly thicker, it’s a personal choice. Loosely mix just so the apple doesn’t discolour too much.

Add the cranberries (gogi berries), sultanas, nuts, yoghurt and mix thoroughly. Squeeze in a little agave nectar if you wish – add to taste but I’d recommend no more than a teaspoon.

Give it a final stir before topping with the mixed seeds.

That’s it. Good Mornin’!



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Simple Sugar Cookies

This is a post Valentine’s post. Much too late, I know, but I thought these little biccies were worthy of a mention because they salvaged what could have been a complete washout of day.

We had planned to attend a Vegan Valentine’s Buffet at our wonderful local veggie cafe Archie Browns. I was beyond excited because eating out can sometimes be a bit of a headache when you’re vegan – not impossible but challenging. The main issue for me is always going to be the dessert. If you’re not eating at a dedicated vegan/veggie establishment you can basically forget having anything sweet for afters, which is a bit of a downer (esp. on Valentine’s Day) but for me it’s a price worth paying. Why chef’s insist on using dairy products in all puddings is beyond me – not only would it be cheaper to  not use eggs, butter or milk but the results are invariably the same if not better and certainly more healthy.

Anyway, to cut a long story short we got our wires crossed and it transpires the Valentine’s buffet was actually on the Saturday prior to Valentine’s and when we arrived at the cafe, yep, you guessed it, it was in complete darkness. Hmph!

So we trawled every restaurant in Penzance searching in vain for some suitable menu options but we ran into problems because: Valentine’s = set menu = nothing appropriate for us vegans. We ended up at a place where we’d previously enjoyed some great cocktails and lovely pizza – sans cheese, of course – so we thought we’d be in relatively safe hands. Let’s just say the cocktails weren’t half as good and we had to send the pizza back (the first one arrived smothered in cheese and the second was undercooked). We waited an age for both drinks and food, which kinda put a dampener on the evening although things are never that bad when I’m in the best company imaginable.

Luckily for us, I’d decided to whip up a batch of sugar cookies earlier in the day which meant we had something sweet and sugary waiting for us at home. I’m pleased to say they went down a treat and definitely finished the day off on a sugar high, more than making up for the disappointing lack of afters at the restaurant.

I’d stashed half the dough in the fridge, which is how I came to photographing them the following day. The one’s featured here were sampled by my sister in law Michelle and her partner Matt with the verdict being a resounding ‘yum’!

Even if you think you can’t bake, you can make these. Super simple, super sweet and super kind – everything you could possibly want from a (vegan) cookie.

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!

simple sugar cookies

1 cup plain white flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup vegan sunflower spread/soy butter

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

zest 1 lemon

Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees celsius/345 fahrenheit.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl using a spatula or an electric whisk until it is fluffy. Stir in the vanilla extract and thoroughly mix.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and zest.

Add the flour to the creamed butter and mix until a soft dough is formed.

Shape into a log and wrap in cling film or foil and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.

Tear off small amounts of dough and shape into balls spacing them well apart on a baking sheet, as they will spread in the oven.

Bake for 15-20minutes depending on your oven. Ease them off using a palate knife – they will be a little soft still but that is fine.

Allow them to cool on a rack for at least an hour before glazing – if you are glazing – otherwise they are as lovely warm as they are cooled.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

 


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Mung Bean Stew

It’s over! The tour is done and dusted and finally, I am back home and I could not be happier. I’m so thrilled to be getting back into my normal routine and that means lots of cooking and, of course, lots of blogging.

If you don’t know already, much of my cooking and blogging isn’t planned. I might be half way through making a dish before realising it would make a good blog post and this mung bean stew is one of those.

I’d bought the organic mung beans around Christmas time because I thought they looked interesting and I’d never used them before. Being unfamiliar with an ingredient has never deterred me before and the mung bean was no different. I’m not entirely sure why the mung bean has evaded me until now because they are a wonderful little pulse (more like a large lentil than a bean – in my opinion). I love their olive green colour, which is what inspired me to add some tapenade – a truly great addition it transpires that completely lifted the dish and gave it a certain essential piquancy.

The faux chicken pieces are definitely optional and interchangeable – I reckon some ‘sausage’ pieces would work brilliantly too or indeed any meat substitute except for perhaps soya mince. Yes, definitely no soya mince. The couscous is the perfect accompaniment to the dish but I wouldn’t hesitate to serve it with some brown basmati or some gorgeously nutritious quinoa.

It is such a filling yet satisfying meal and, for me at least, is a welcome change to the usual tomato based casseroles that sometimes all tend to taste very similar. The key additions in order to achieve the vibrant edge this dish displays are without a doubt the tapenade and capers. Now I know that capers (and olives) are love ’em or loathe ’em kind of ingredients but I can assure you the stew will taste of neither but merely bring out the brilliance of this unexpected gem of a dish.

I am officially back! Bring on the blogging –  whoop!

mung bean stew

1 onion

12-15 baby carrots

1 can organic tomatoes

1 can organic mung beans

1 pack vegan chicken style pieces

1 vegan friendly vegetable stock cube

1 tbsp sundried tomato paste

2 tsp vegan friendly green olive tapenade

1 tbsp capers

3 or 4 garlic cloves

1 tbsp dried thyme

sunflower oil

salt and pepper

Heat a little oil in a heavy based pan. Finely chop the onion and add to the pan. Season, cover and allow to sweat for several minutes. Mince the garlic cloves and add to pan along with the dried thyme. Cover and allow to sweat for a further 5-10 minutes.

Top and tail the baby carrots and add to pan. Cover and allow to soften for a few minutes. Add the sundried tomato paste, mix thoroughly and then pour in the chopped tomatoes. Add the stock cube and half a can of boiled water. Season, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the tapenade and simmer for another 10 minutes before adding the drained and rinsed mung beans. Roughly chop the capers and add to stew. Gently simmer for 10 minutes before adding the chicken style pieces or whatever faux meat you are using (you could also eliminate this stage altogether if you wish). Heat through, taste, season and serve with couscous or any other grain to your pleasing.

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Ginger Snap Cocktail

Hallelujah! Never has this word more accurately summed up how I am feeling right now,  for it is two more sleeps my friends (two more, I tell ya!) until I am finally back home in the arms of my handsome fella. Two more sleeps until I am back in my beloved Cornwall. Two more sleeps until I am back in my adorable, bijou but perfectly formed flat that, even though I’ve spent more time away from it than I have actually living in the place, has become my home. Home. There really is no place like it!

So, it is with joy that I post this cocktail recipe because I know it will be the last one I will have to write from a grim flat up North. I thought a cocktail would be in order by way of a cyber celebration and I hope you can join me in raising a glass to the end of a very stressful tour that has quite honestly knocked me for six. I’m still unsure about giving too many details about the whole saga – I’ll feel more comfortable divulging once I’m back home and I can truly say goodbye to a hardcore three months that I will not be repeating any time soon.

With regards to the cocktail. You must think that a. I’m completely obsessed with ginger ale (you’re not far wrong, it is definitely my new fav mixer) and b. I have  a limited range of spirits at my disposal (again, you’d be correct). I don’t let that worry me too much, as many of my recipes are derived from what I have lying about the fridge, cupboard or pantry (I blatantly don’t have a pantry but oh how I want one – a girl can dream!). More significantly we finally managed to get our hands on some cocktail glasses (don’t ask! No, seriously, don’t ask.) and I am thrilled by how amazing they are. I kid you not, they actually make drinks taste better – there must be some scientific reason for this because we are convinced it’s not our imagination (although an actress and an animator do tend to have pretty wild imaginations!).

I’ve called it a Ginger Snap because it contains ginger ale – obviously. The snap bit is just a bit of humour on my part because the first sip made me want to snap my fingers hoochie mama style to indicate the fierceness of this drink. Yes, I did just call a cocktail fierce. Ahem, moving on. On second thoughts I realised the snap could also be the tang of the citrus from both the lemon and the cointreau so whichever way you look at it the name fits.

I should say at this point it is imperative to use flat ginger ale. Ours had been opened and used a few days later. A little bit of fizz won’t affect it but as flat as you can manage – it will only enhance it. I’m thinking you could substitute the ale for a glorious ginger cordial – I may just have to make a purchase! You could also toss everything into a cocktail shaker with some ice and then pour into the martini glasses, which would work wonderfully too. I didn’t but that was mainly due to sheer laziness. In the meantime, and until I further investigate the ginger cordial, here is the recipe for that snappalicious cocktail.

ginger snap cocktail

1 part chilled vodka

1 part cointreau

juice of 1/4 lemon

3 parts flat ginger ale

In a martini glass pour in first the vodka followed by the cointreau, the lemon juice and finally top with ginger ale. Stir with a cocktail stick – preferably from the Hancock Tower or failing that a chop stick will do.

Alternatively throw everything into a cocktail shaker with some ice. Give it good shake and pour into a martini glass.

Sip. Snap. Repeat.

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Soy Free Vegan Brownies!

Another week passes and again I have failed to update my blog more than once. This is really starting to get me down. Part of the problem is I’ve taken the lumix home and I ain’t bringing my gorgeous new canon on tour with me, that baby is staying safe within the confines of my apartment. This means that the weekends are my only opportunity to shoot my food and I’m already cramming a whole lotta stuff into a short space of time.

Also, I still haven’t gotten to grips this wonderful new piece of equipment but I can already see the difference in my photos, which is very heartening. I have a very long way to go but I’m in this for the long haul so it’ll be interesting to compare and contrast photos this time next year when I’ve mastered all this camera has to offer!

You should know though, my dear readers, that you are never far from my thoughts. I’m always problem solving and attempting to come up with delectable yummies that I hope you like. This week I’ve been grappling with the whole soya issue – y’know, some people are wary and others would just like an alternative and I aim to please. I was inspired to bake this whilst leafing through my copy of The Kind Diet. I’d left it in Ireland when we were briefly staying with my Parents after our relocation from the States and because of the awful weather and a host of other things it only arrived recently. It was so nice to re-introduce myself to this truly wonderful book. I know I’ve mentioned it before but let me just say that even if you have no interest in ‘going vegan’ you should still give it a gander. The author, Alicia Silverstone, has such a beautiful perspective on life and you can’t fail to be wowed by the recipes.

To that effect let me continue by saying that every cook works differently. Some take inspiration from reading other blogs, cookbooks, magazines and watching the seemingly endless supply cookery programmes now on tv. Whilst others prefer to remain in their own cooking bubble not wanting to be influenced and deriving all their own recipes from their, obviously very creative, cooking brains – oh to be so effortlessly talented! I would say I fall between the two. I love nothing better than sitting down with a good cookbook or indeed an episode of Nigella, all the while thinking how I can adapt or change the recipe to suit my own needs – f.y.i. Nigella’s dishes are particularly suited to veganizing.  Then there are times when I experiment, allowing myself to run wild in the kitchen using up whatever ingredients are at my disposal – my Husband calls this ‘making something out of nothing’.

I’m a total, straight up daydreamer, so there are, of course, times when I have a good old ponder about food and cooking and recipes and eating. This is mostly when I come up with an original (at least to my knowledge!) recipe but I’m sure the seed of the idea is always taken from something I’ve heard of, eaten or made in the past. I wonder if it’s possible to come up with an entirely unique recipe without it, even subconsciously, being connected to another? Sheesh! I definitely need to get out more,  I must be slowly going mad on this tour. Correction, I have definitely gone ever so slightly mad on this tour – one week to go, eek!!

The brownies, the brownies! Okay, so these should suit anybody with a sweet tooth and a penchant for chocolate. They are uber chocolatey and the perfect sweetness (do not feel tempted to bung in a load of sugar, there really is no need) and would go really nice with a scoop of non-dairy ice-cream. We kinda defeated the purpose and had a dollop of whipped soy cream but that’s just us. I would maybe, possibly omit the brown rice flour in favour of plain white next time but the brown rice flour does work perfectly well in this recipe, it’s just a preference thing.

That’s it. Soy Free Vegan Brownies. Yum and er, yum.

soy free vegan brownies

3/4 cup wholewheat flour

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup date syrup

1/4 cup blackstrap molasses

1/2 cup chocolate oat milk

3/4 cup rice milk

1/2 cup sunflower oil

large handful of toasted, chopped walnuts (optional)

glaze

1 cup dark choc vegan buttons (good quality ones – I like Montezumas)

1/4 cup vegan sunflower spread

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees celsius/320 fahrenheit. Line and prepare a baking tin.

In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients.

In another bowl combine the wet ingredients. The blackstrap molasses are very thick and sticky so don’t worry if it doesn’t mix thoroughly.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold in using a spatula before adding the *walnuts.

*To toast the walnuts place them on a baking sheet and put them in the pre-heated oven for 10-15mins stirring occasionally. Roughly chop.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tray and bake in oven for 25-30mins. Insert a toothpick into the centre and if it comes out with a little batter still on it’s  good to go – if it comes out clean you may have baked for a little too long.

Let it cool completely before making the glaze.

For the glaze

Place a little water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat to barely a simmer – the steam will do the work. Place a heat proof bowl on top of the  saucepan and add the chocolate buttons and sunflower spread. Allow it to gently melt giving it some encouragement with a spatula now and then. When is it smooth and glossy pour it over the brownies and spread evenly over the entire bake with the spatula. Set it to one side (preferably a cool area) for at least an hour.

You can also keep it in the fridge but the glaze will harden. It is equally delicious this way and will keep the brownies fresh for a week.

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