No meat, no diary, no eggs, no honey…

Yep, for the next month, I am vegan only as I’m contributing to the annual Vegan MoFo event. I’m hoping to adapt some of my most popular recipes into vegan ones, as well as trying out new recipes. A lot of what I make is already vegan as I’m not a huge dairy eater but I will miss eggs. A lot. So time to try out some different egg substitutions in cake recipes. Any ideas or suggestions welcome!

Nigella’s Nutella Cheesecake

Yeah. I know. Another recipe from *her*. I’m sorry. I can’t deny it. I do like her recipes. They work. They’re easy. And I like them… This is adapted from the original (p175 of Nigellissima) as I didn’t have any digestives, and not quite enough nutella. But OH MY GOD it tastes amazeballs. I am the size of a house now. Send help…

For 12 portions you need
600g cream cheese
400g nutella
250g gingernut biscuits
75g soft butter
60g icing sugar
toasted chopped hazlenuts to serve (optional)

Begin by pulverising the biscuits and butter in a food processor until they are well combined. Turn out into a silicone cake mould and press down.

Put the cream cheese and icing sugar into a free standing mixer and mix, slowly, until combined. Add the nutella and mix well. Pour into the cake mould and leave to stand in the fridge for at least 2 hours (I didn’t hence it oozing in the picture…).

Carefully remove each slice and sprinkle with hazlenuts if you want them. Scoff. Resist the temptation to eat more than you really should you your belly will feel like mine. But oh my it’s worth it!!

Foraged Blackberry Jam (v)

According to one of the contestants on the Great British Bake Off, young people have forgotten skills like jam making . Yeah, I can’t stand him either, but for lots of other reasons too. Anyway. It’s not true. I have been making jam, and chutney, and jelly, for years. So to you. Jam making is not hard and does not involve any particular skills. You just need to know the right balance of sugar to fruit and whether or not you need to add more pectin. And you must must must sterilise your jars properly if you want to store your jam for a wee while. This jam was made from foraged blackberries from Baildon common. We were lucky enough to get a kilo in one visit, but the fruit freezes well if you can’t pick that much before getting fed up being pricked by prickles or stung by brambles…

For 8 mini (225g) jars you need
1kg blackberries
1kg sugar. Any sugar is fine but preserving sugar is easier to melt and jam sugar already contains additional pectin
juice 1 lemon if not using jam sugar
Wax discs to seal the jam

Start by placing a saucer or small plate in the freezer. We will need it later.

Sterilise your jam jars, lids and any other utensils you will use to put the jam from the pan into jars (e.g. ladle etc). Do this by either putting in a hot dishwasher cycle or by washing in hot soapy water, rinsing and placing in the oven at 75 degrees for 10 mins. Make sure everything is still warm before you bottle the jam.

Place the fruit and sugar and lemon in a large, heavy based pan. A preserving pan is ideal but if you only plan on making one batch of jam don’t bother with buying one, a normal pan is fine. Slowly (this being the operative word) melt the sugar. As you heat the fruit will start to break down releasing juice which will mingle with the sugar and aid the process. Don’t rush this bit, it should take about 15-30 mins. Once the sugar has fully melted and there are no sugar crystals left, bring to the boil.

Boil rapidly for 5 mins and then start to test for a soft set. To do this, take your plate from the freezer, remove the jam from the heat, and place a small dollop on the cold plate. If after 30 seconds you can draw a line through it with your fingernail and it doesn’t immediately get filled with liquid the jam is ready. If not, reboil for a further minute and keep testing until you reach soft set.

I like my jam smooth so I blitz with a stick blender before bottling. Transfer the jam to the sterilised jars and seal with a wax disc. Loosely place the lids on top, and leave to cool before tightening. Don’t put labels on until the jam jars are cold or they will fall off! Leave in a cool, darkish place and enjoy in deepest winter.

Thai Massaman Curry (v)

We had a Thai extravaganza at the weekend (can you guess from recent blog posts ;-)) and this was pronounced deeeeeelicious by both boyfriend and son. Result.

For four greedy portions you need
1 tub massaman curry paste (I like the Thai Taste one but it contains shrimp paste, use one without obviously if you want it to be vegan…)
1 can coconut milk
1 onion
2 courgettes, sliced
1/2 pack each mange tout and green beans
1 head pak choi
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1-2 sweet potatoes (equal quantities to the squash), peeled and cubed
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp fish sauce or mushroom soya sauce if vegan

Begin by frying the curry paste and onion for a few minutes. Add the squash and sweet potato along with the coconut milk. Season with the sugar and fish sauce/mushroom soya sauce and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently, covered, for 10 mins. Add everything else and cook for 3 mins until the remaining veggies are al dente. Serve with sticky rice and sigh with pleasure as the fragrant, rich curry fills that hole in yer belly.

Thai Style Tofu ‘fish’ Cakes (v)

Spicy, salty, hot and delicious. Everything Thai inspired street food snacks should be. And vegan too, yay! This satisfied a craving for fish cakes and was dead simple to make. They are lovely straight from the deep frying pan, but equally store well for a few days and can be successfully reheated in an oven so make up a full batch and enjoy over a few days 🙂

For about 20 nuggets of deliciousness you need
1 pack tofu, pressed flat and well drained (it doesn’t matter if it starts to crumble)
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
4-6 chillies, depending on how hot you like your food!
2 tbsp thai red curry paste (I used a massaman one as it was already open)
1 bunch coriander stalks
About 1/4-1/2 cup plain flour
Oil for deep frying

Begin by placing everything apart from the tofu, flour and oil in a food processor and blending to a mush (you want everything really finely chopped and well combined). Add the tofu and pulse to blend until it’s just mixed. Add flour until it reaches a thick sticky consistency.

Heat the oil in a deep pan until really hot (a cube of bread turns golden brown in 3 secs). Take small spoonfuls of the tofu mixture and drop into the pan, taking care not to splash yourself with the very hot oil. Leave to cook on one side for a few mines then flip over and cook the other side.

Drain on kitchen paper and either eat straight away or reheat in an oven. Lovely with prik nam pla (but make with soya sauce not fish sauce!) and sweet chilli sauce.

Cowboy Stew (v)

I don’t know where the name Cowboy Stew comes from I have to confess. I first made this as a student so I think it’s probably something to do with the fact that it contains beans and sausages and everyone knows that’s what cowboys eat. Whatever, the etymology of the name is less interesting than the recipe. It’s the perfect sort of dish for horrible weather like what we had today: wet, soggy, cold, blustery. This warms you from the inside and tastes lovely at the same time. Result.

For 4 portions you need
1 pack Linda McCartney sausages
1 tin baked beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin drained black eyed beans
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 punnett mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 red and 1 green pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli powder
salt and pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp each of hendersons relish (veggie worcester sauce), soya sauce and mushroom ketchup

Begin by sautéing the onion in the oil for about 5 mins. Add the mushrooms and cook till the juices have come out. Add the peppers and garlic and fry for another 1-2 mins. Add everything else apart from the sausages and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 mins. Meanwhile fry the sausages until browned. Add the sausages to the pan of stew and cook for a further 10 mins till steaming hot. Serve with mounds of buttery mash, or whatever carb you feel like. Perfeck.

Butter Cookies with Rose Water

I adore these. They are so meltingly delicious from the (copious) butter but have a lovely light and clean delicate flavour from the rose water. They are ridiculously easy to make and even easier to eat heh heh heh. The original recipe is adapted from one by Ghillie Basan in Modern Moroccan (p140).

For about 20 cookies you need
200g butter
130g icing sugar
10ml rose water
250g plain flour

Melt the butter then add everything else to it and mix to a smooth paste. Chill in the fridge for 30mins or so. Pull of pieces of dough about the size of a walnut and roll in to a ball. Squidge down on a baking tray and bake in a moderate (170 degree) oven for about 20 mins until lightly golden brown. Leave to cool on the tray for a few mins before transferring to a cooling rack and cooling thoroughly.

Nigella’s Olive Oil and Almond Chocolate Cake (GF)

I got Nigellissima earlier in the week (think I might have already mentioned that…) and saw this in it as I was idly flicking through the pages. So I made it. It’s d-i-v-i-n-e. Moist. Sticky. Gooey. So very very chocolatey. Utterly delicious in other words. Make it, you won’t be disappointed.

For 8 greedy slices you need
For the cake
150ml olive oil
50g cocoa powder
125ml boiling water
2 tsp vanilla
150g ground almonds
1/2 tsp gluten free baking power *or* 1/4 tsp bicarb of soda and 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
200g caster sugar
3 eggs

For the icing you need
75g vegan spread
150g icing sugar
25g cocoa powder

Begin by mixing the boiling water into the cocoa powder till it’s smooth. Add the vanilla to it and leave to cool.

Place the eggs, oil and sugar in to the bowl of a free standing mixer and beat on full for three minutes until fluffy and thickened.

Slowly drizzle in the cocoa mixture. Once this is added, add in everything else and mix gently to a smooth batter (it will be very wet, don’t worry).

Scrape into a silicone baking mould and bake in a moderate (170 degree) oven for about 45 mins. The outside should be cooked through and the middle moist when it’s done. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Turn onto a wire rack once cool enough to handle.

Whip the vegan spread, icing sugar and cocoa together until light, fluffy and creamy. Spread on to the top and sides of the cooled cake and finish with a dusting of cocoa powder. Enjoy!

Nigella’s Steamed and Sauteed Potatoes (v)

I have never, ever, steamed a potato before in my life. I mean why would you? Surely it would take f-o-r-e-v-e-r given how long they can take to boil. But Nigella recommends doing this as a way to ensure dryer potatoes, perfect if you want to sautee them afterwards as they won’t be so steamed and claggy as they would be if they were boiled. But I broke with tradition last night after reading a recipe for steamed and then sauteed potatoes in her new book Nigellissima (p52). There were actually very good. I can’t vouch for them being sweeter as she suggests they would be, but they certainly crisped up better than I have ever seen them do when sauteeing… This dish makes for a nice side dish. I had it with a fried egg for my dinner but obviously omit if you’re vegan 🙂

For 2-3 portions, depending on greed, you need
3-4 waxy potatoes
pinch dried chilli flakes
pinch dried mint
1 tbsp olive oil

First cut the potatoes into 1-2cm dice. Then steam for about 10 mins until just tender. Allow the steam to dry the potatoes (I find holding the steamer insert outside for a few mins is sufficient to allow them to start to dry). Pre-heat the oil, chilli, salt and mint in a pan and then tip in the potatoes. Sautee over a medium heat for 3-4 mins, shaking the pan from time to time. You want a nice even browning on the slices. Serve with whatever you fancy.

Salty and Spicy Green Beans (v)

I have been craving Thai food this week, and whilst what I wanted were tofu fish cakes, I didn’t have any paste so I had to be creative with what was available instead… This combo of salty soya sauce, fiery chilli and toasted sesame hit the spot. It’s lovely warm or cold and is a good quick and healthy side dish to make.

For two portions you need
1 pack green beans, topped and tailed as necessary
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce or mushroom soya sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp japanese rice vinegar
1 tbsp tabasco sauce (fresh chilli if nicer is you have some!)
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp sugar

Blanch the beans in boiling water for 1-2 mins. Drain and refresh in cold water to retain their colour and stop them cooking further. Place all the other ingredients in a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Immerse the beans and then scoff. Nomtastic!