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68. Pesto pizza dough

Aww I had the pleasure of bunny-sitting the bestie’s rabbits last week. They went home on Sunday and the house seems so quiet and empty without them stamping and kicking over their hay rack, haha!

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Gentle Sir meets Kate

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Bad Lad and his tube o’cabbage

 

Since they were being dropped off in the evening I promised bestie and her fella some noms. I was trying to think of a meal which would cover all tastes (her fella is scared of fruit, hubby is scared of greens and bestie likes everything covered in hot sauce!) when it came to me… pizza party!

So I gave everyone a pizza base each and plonked a variety of toppings on the table: homemade sauce –one spicy, one mild and herby – capers, olives, pineapple, faux chorizo, faux chicken, homemade pepperoni chunks, sweetcorn, onion, vegan cheese and I even used a pastry cutter to cut some Violife mozzarella slices into authentic circles. Then we swapped gossip whilst sipping wine and building our own individual masterpieces, which went into the oven whilst we scoffed some starters.

2015-01-27 18.55.43 ps3Since it was quite an easy tea to prepare, I felt I couldn’t cheat on the pizza bases so I made my own dough. I added pesto to make things a bit more exciting and I was pleased with the results – it gave the dough a subtle depth of flavor without hijacking the taste.

Pesto pizza dough

Ingredients (makes 2 x 10” bases):

2/3 x cup warm water (if it burns, it’s too hot!)1 x tbsp. soft brown sugar

1 x tsp salt

1 x sachet of dry active yeast (7g)

1 x cup plain wholemeal flour*

1 x cup plain white flour*

1 x tbsp. olive oil

2 x tbsp. pesto (make sure its Parmesan / dairy free)

Extra flour for rolling out.

*you can use any ratio of the wholemeal and white flour if you want.

 

 

Method:

Dissolve the sugar and salt in the warm water.

Sprinkle the yeast over the top and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, olive oil, pesto and yeasty-water mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until dough starts to form.

Finish forming the dough with your hand and knead for 5 minutes. I try to only use one hand because the dough is very sticky! (If it is too sticky you can add a bit more flour, but don’t add too much or else it will become too dry when you roll it out in flour later).

Cover the bowl with cling-film or a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour to prove.

Remove the cling-film / towel and punch gently to deflate. Knead for another 5 minutes before cutting in half.

Dust a clean surface with flour and roll out each half of the dough into your bases using a floured rolling pin.

Transfer to a baking tray (you can lightly grease but I found I didn’t need to).

Pre-heat the oven to 180oC.

Add your base sauce and toppings. If using vegan cheese, I suggest adding it first after the sauce as it burns faster than normal cheese and the other toppings will offer it some protection.

Bake for 15 – 20 mins or until the edges of the pizza are a lovely golden brown colour.

2015-01-27 18.55.23 ps4Eat with a nice glass of wine in the presence of good company. Or in front of the telly with a beer!

Hubby is begging me to make another one already :o)!

 

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67. Lemon and mint, dreamy, creamy, tahini dressing

I’ve been rubbish at blogging this year! For the first week of 2015 me and the hubby had the flu, and then we spent last week rushing to get the living room decorated before our new carpet arrives. I’ve just not had the time, energy or inclination to get creative in the kitchen!

I’m afraid today’s entry is still a bit of a cop out… but it was tasty so I thought it was worth typing up.

We had pitas with falafel tonight and I wanted a nice sauce to go with it. We had an ancient bottle of raitia in the back of the cupboard, which would have worked, but firstly its completely out of date and secondly it’s from my veggie days and no longer fits into my lifestyle. So in the bin it went!  So what to have instead? My lemon and mint, dreamy creamy tahini dressing – it does exactly what it says on the tin!

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Ingredients (Makes more than enough for 2 people enjoying some falafel!):

½ x block firm silken tofu (I used Mori Nu brand)2 x tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 x tsp tahini

1.5 x tsp dried mint (you can used fresh but I think the taste of the dried stuff works better here)

½ x tsp ground cumin

½ x tsp garlic powder

½ x tsp salt

2 x tbsp. soya  milk

Chop the tofu into medium-sized chunks. Get a small pan of water boiling and gently add the tofu. Boil for 1 minute before draining and leaving to cool. (This is a tip I picked up from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s awesome book “Appetite for Reduction” – she cooks the tofu first for her “Sanctuary Dressing” to get rid of the beany flavour).

Put the tofu into a blender (smaller is better if you have the option since we’re making a relatively small volume). Add the lemon juice, tahini, mint, cumin, garlic powder and salt. Whizz up until smooth (a minute or so).

Scrape down the sides of the blender with a spatula and add the soya milk (or any other replacement milk). Whizz again until blended. I like my dressing quite thick but if you wanted to thin it down with more plant milk then I’m not going to stop you!

I always think this type of dressing is best served cold, so into the fridge for 20 minutes or so it goes, ready to serve up with some tasty falafel. I got mine from Costco of all places and it was very nice too!

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Is it too late to mention New Year resolutions?  I’m planning on learning to play the drums ;o) Wish me luck!

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66. Fruity hot toddy

I’ve not posted an entry in ages! Been super busy over Christmas and I’ve been zonked out with a flu bug the last few days.

I’m currently sat shivering on the sofa in a million layers, enjoying a “fruity hot toddy” so I thought I would share the recipe in case anyone else is feeling under the weather.

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Ingredients:

Juice of ½ lemon

Juice of 1 orange

1 x cup lemonade

1 x tbsp. whiskey (I used Famous Grouse)

1/8th x tsp of cayenne pepper

1 x tsp syrup (I used a fruit syrup, agave or maple would also work. – optional)

Method:

Mix the lemonade, syrup and cayenne in a small saucepan and heat until hot (tip: it’s hard to measure out such a small amount of cayenne so I recommend not doing it over the lemonade, just in case!)

Bring off the hob and stir in the orange juice, lemon juice and whiskey.

Pour into a glass or mug and enjoy.

 

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65. Mushroom calamari

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There’s not much that I’ve really missed since turning vegan. After the first month all my cheese, milk and most of my meat cravings had completely subsided. I did miss BBQ ribs, but I created a vegan version pretty early on. The other thing I really missed was calamari!

The other day I was eating some pasta that I had made using  oyster mushrooms I’d bought cheap at the supermarket. I’d over-cooked them and turned them chewy… which is when the idea of using them to create calamari came to me.

You’re only an easy recipe away from crispy, delicious yumminess!  Unfortunately I couldn’t figure out a way to make rings, but the taste and texture is totally there!

Ingredients (makes 2 portions):

Batter:

2 x tbsp. gram flour

2 x tbsp. cold water

0.5 x tsp bicarbonate of soda

0.5 x tsp apple cider vinegar

 

“Calamari”

60 g oyster mushrooms (bigger the better)

200x ml cold water

2 x tsp salt

1 x tsp kelp powder

1 x tbsp. flour

2 x tbsp. breadcrumbs

 Method:

Pre-heat a deep fat fryer to 190oC.

Whisk together the gram flour, 2 tbsp. water, bicarb and apple cider vinegar to make a thick batter. Leave to one side.

Slice the oyster mushrooms into approx. ½ cm wide strips.

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Put the 200 ml of water into a small pan with the kelp powder and salt. Add the mushrooms and heat over the hob. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes (This makes the mushrooms a bit chewier so they have more of a bite).

Drain the mushrooms using a sieve. Once cool enough to handle, it’s best to pick the mushrooms out of the sieve and lay on a piece of kitchen roll a) to drain them and b) so they don’t end up coated in too much mushy kelp powder. Bleurgh!

Coat the mushrooms in the plain flour before dipping in the batter until evenly coated. Then roll in the breadcrumbs until again evenly coated.

Deep fry at 190oC for 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Scoop out, drain and put on a bit of kitchen roll to absorb some of the oil.

Serve! I mixed together some fresh lemon juice with a squirt of vegan mayo to make a tasty dip.

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64. Portobello mushroom burger

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I’m so happy with this burger! I was sat at work all day today imagining making it and coming up with the recipe in my head. It was a great feeling to come home and put the theory into practice.

The crispy crunchy out coating compliments the succulent and juicy centre. Who would have thought that the humble mushroom could be used to make such a delicious “meaty” meal?

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Ingredients (makes 2):

2 x Portobello mushroom

2 x tbsp. gram flour

2 x tbsp. plain flour

2 x tbsp. water

1 x tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 x tsp apple cider vinegar

1 x tsp garlic powder

1 x tsp smoked paprika

½ x tsp cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

2 x tbsp. breadcrumbs

Method:

Carefully take the stalk out of the mushrooms and bake on a tray in the oven 180oC for 10 – 15 minutes (or until the mushroom starts leaking juice!)

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Whilst the mushrooms are cooking, whisk together the gram flour, plain flour, water, bicarb, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. A thick, orangey-red batter should form.

Take the mushrooms out of the oven and once cool enough to handle, pat dry with a bit of clean kitchen roll.

Dip the mushroom in the batter until evenly coated. Then dip into the breadcrumbs until again evenly coated.

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Before…

 

Deep fry at 190oC for 5 minutes or until golden brown. You might want to flip the mushrooms over half way through.

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…and after!

Drain and put on kitchen roll to absorb some of the oil.

And serve! I had mine on a bagel with a cabbage leaf, a slice of Violife cheese (I’m addicted) and a sauce I made by mixing vegan mayo with spring onions. Mmmmm!

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63. Super easy, instant miso soup

I’m fed up of my soup container leaking.

It seemed like a good idea when I bought it, but fact is, everyday by the time I have walked or cycled to work, the carrier bag I have carefully wrapped the tub in is always full of liquid.

I tried looking into packet soups, but the choice for vegans is pretty rubbish, most contain milk in one form or another. And the problem with tinned soup? I can’t eat a whole tin but half a tin isn’t enough!

To overcome my terrible  souper-sized dilemma, I had to invent my “instant” miso soup. Leak-proof, mega-easy and mega-tasty!

Ingredients:

1.5 x tbsp. white miso

2 x heaped tablespoons chopped nori sheets

1 x heaped tablespoon of cubed firm silken tofu (roughly equals 15 x 1cm3 cubes)

1 x tsp finely sliced spring onion

Optional – 1 x tbsp. chopped mushroom.

350 ml boiling water.

Method:

You can either make the soup directly in the container you are going to eat it out of (e.g. bowl, or a mug or whatever) or you can put the ingredients in a Tupperware tub and transfer into your bowl / mug when you’re ready to eat it. Either way, the method is really easy!

Into your container, add the miso, nori, tofu and spring onion. If adding mushroom, make sure it is chopped into small chunks as they will float!

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Next, gently stir the mixture whilst pouring the water on top (the easiest way is to use the kettle). You need to make sure the miso dissolves and mixes in without pulverizing the tofu into pulp.

Leave for 5 minutes and tuck in.

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Low calorie, low fat and low in leakages, perfecto!

 

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62. Vegan mince pies

NOTE – This recipe used to include a method for making vegan brandy butter. However my 2nd attempt failed miserably so I have withdrawn the recipe until I have had chance to retry! 

 

I hate Christmas!!!

Maybe it would be better if I had kids so I could watch them enjoy the magic, but to me it is just a season of waste: wasting food, wasting money and wasting time!

The ridiculous amount of food that remains uneaten and gets thrown away unnecessarily. The obligation to buy people presents and struggling to come up with something they actually want and will use. The stress of spending hours that you don’t have, wrapping presents and hoovering up glitter…. Rargh!!

HOWEVER, all that said, I AM a sucker for a mince pie ;o)

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The inlaws are staying at ours this year so I am trying to make an effort and not be miserable. So, I am trying to be super organised so I don’t have to add stress to the equation. I’ve made and frozen (or eaten!) 92 mince pies already so I’m well prepared should we have any unexpected visitors or should we feel peckish on an afternoon.

One has to be careful with mince pies of unknown origin – there is a risk of there being butter and maybe even lard in the pastry and the mincemeat itself may contain animal suet.

Lucky for me, my age-old mince pie recipe happened to be “accidentally vegan” so I’ve not had to change a thing since giving up animal products, hoorah!

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Vegan mince pies (makes 12)

Ingredients:

260 g plain white flour plus extra to dust

65 g vegan friendly marg (I used Stork – the block, NOT the tub)

65 g vegan shortening (I used Trex)

Pinch of salt

Cold water to bind

Jar of vegan friendly mincemeat (I used an 822g jar from Costco – this should be more than enough)

Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Method:

Put the flour in a large bowl.

The marg and shortening should be completely chilled in the fridge before using. Add to the flour and use a butter knife to chop into chunks.

Using your fingers, rub the marg and shortening into the flour. Keep going until you have made soft, golden breadcrumbs.

Add a little bit of cold water at a time and knead into the breadcrumbs until a soft dough is formed. It shouldn’t take too much water to form the dough so be really careful not to to overdo it. The amount of water can vary depending on the absorbency of the flour, which can differ from bag to bag.

Cover the pastry with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 190oC

Flour a flat, clean surface and a rolling pin. Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out until around 1/8th inch thick. Using a pastry cutter, cut out 12 circles and place each into the hole of a patty-pan (good pastry shouldn’t stick so you shouldn’t have to grease the tin, however if you’re worried, it won’t hurt).

In each case, add around 2 heaped teaspoons of mincemeat. The secret is not to use too much or else the mincemeat will bubble up and burn and make a mess of your pastry! Trust me, less is more!

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ps6 2014-11-09 14.32.35 This year I got my mincemeat from Costco. I also really like the Co-op’s own brand which is also vegan friendly.

Using a star shaped cutter (or a small round cutter if you want a more traditional pie) cut out 12 tops and place on top of the pies.

Put the pies in the oven and bake for 10 mins.

I like to scoop my pies out of the tin using a spoon before placing on a cooling rack. It’s a good idea to carefully remove the pies whilst they are still hot as any excess mincemeat will cool down and stick the pies to the sides of the tin.

Once cooled, either eat or freeze for later. They look extra pretty if you sprinkle some icing sugar on top using a sieve.

If only everything about Christmas was this sweet!

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61. Vegan Yorkshire Puddings (that don’t suck!)

I think I finally did it

I think I finally invented a vegan Yorkshire Pudding recipe that doesn’t suck!!!

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I have been trying and failing to make a good pud for weeks, ever since I created my Roast “Pork” and stuffing joint. And this week was finally the one!

I’ve seen lots of complicated recipes online, containing lots of complicated ingredients. But I thought, the normal Yorkies I used to make following an old “Be-Ro” recipe were so simple, why couldn’t the vegan versions be? So hopefully you’ll agree that my recipe is nice and easy, using only vegan staples.

These were crispy and light with slightly denser, softer insides, just like the eggy concoctions I used to make before I gave up the animal products. Even omni Hubby told me “well done!” after I fed him a few!

So I am very happy to introduce, my vegan Yorkshire pudding recipe:

Ingredients:

100g       self-raising flour

½ x tsp    Himalayan black salt (or normal salt if you don’t like the traditional eggy flavour)

2 x tsp     No-Egg (made with 4 x tbsp. water)

200ml      water

150 ml     soya milk (or any other non-dairy alternative)

½ x tsp    baking powder

1 x tsp     apple cider vinegar

12 x tsp   vegetable oil (1 x tsp per hole in your Yorkshire pudding tin)

Put 1 tsp of vegetable oil into each hole of a 12-hole Yorkshire pudding tin.

Place the tin in the oven and pre-heat to 220oC.

In a jug or bowl, whisk the No-Egg with the water until frothy. Add the water, milk and apple cider vinegar and whisk until thoroughly mixed.

Into a new bowl, sieve the flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly add the liquid ingredients whilst whisking. Keep whisking until a lump-free, foamy batter is formed. Transfer into a clean jug for easy pouring.

Open the oven door and as quickly as possible (without burning yourself!!!) pour the batter into each of the holes in the tin. The oil should be nice and hot and beginning to smoke and so the batter should hiss and start to bubble immediately. This is probably the most important step in the recipe!!!

Put the tin back into the oven and shut the door ASAP. Bake for 20 minutes before dropping the heat to 200 oC for a further 10 minutes. You should try to open the oven door as few times as possible, maybe just once to turn the trays around to ensure even baking and to check that the puddings aren’t burning around the edges (if they are try dropping the heat to 180 oC although you might sacrifice the crispiness).

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When the time is up, remove from the oven and leave on the side for 5 mins. Gently slide a blunt knife around the edges of the puddings, hopefully they should just pop out after a quick wiggle!

Serve up with your Sunday dinner and rejoice in the wonderfulness that is the vegan Yorkshire pudding!

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PS, I hope everyone enjoyed a Happy Halloween! Lizzie the Chicken celebrated by dressing up as a Pumpkin-headed monster ;o)

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PS: Here is a link to my lovely friend Mary’s Youtube channel. She very kindly did a video where she tried out this recipe ^_^ Check out her other recipes whilst you’re there, I especially love her bread recipes, including her curry “beef” buns!

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60. Coconut and green veg soup

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Bonnie Edinburgh

Me and the bestie (aka @lalabrownie if you’re on Twitter) enjoyed a vegan pilgrimage to Scotland last week. Using her hometown, Livingstone, as a base we had a couple of days out in Edinburgh and a day in Glasgow. I can’t believe that the birthplace of the deep fried Mars bar and haggis have such amazing vegan joints! Seriously, just look on www.happycow.net!

So, the highlights in Edinburgh:The Baked Potato Shop on Cockburn St where I had the most amazing tattie of my life. It was filled with vegan haggis and topped with a sweetcorn curry. Thank goodness Lala knew to only order a small. I practically rolled around the landmarks of the city after nomming down this beast!:

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I was also super happy after a visit to Real Foods where I finally found the little squashy-pumpkin thing that I have been scouring the streets of Cheshire for after I sampled one in Croatia.

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And last but not least, we visited Jordan Valley Wholefoods where I filled a carrier bag with treats for the train ride home. Tres impressed with the selection available!

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Carrot cake, chickpea and onion pie, artichoke and quinoa dip, spicy veggie haggis roll and a bottle of “living tea”

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Check out www.equinoxkombucha.com

In Glasgow, we had a fantastic (and ridiculously good value for money) meal at Mono. I had a salami, red onion, pepper and cheeze pizza with a side of beer battered onion rings. Lala had moussaka which had a creamy nut based topping and looked very tasty. We both had the BIGGEST portion of sticky toffee pudding and vanilla ice-cream that I have ever seen! Aww man, it was soooo good!(We met Lala’s wee Auntie as well and she had a seitan burger… but I didn’t get a piccie, boo).

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We also enjoyed a couple of yummy “Scottish” breakfasts (tongue firmly planted in cheek!) – Redwood Cheatin Bacon on “Plain bread” and tatty scones on a Scotch roll (Tattie scone recipe here if you’re interested!)

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When I got home to Cheshire-land, the fella decided he had missed me so much that he wanted to take me out for tea at the vegetarian restaurant, Sanskruti. It was my 3rd visit to this amazing restaurant and I was so happy that omni hubby wanted to revisit. We both had the veggie kebabs for starter, then for main he had a massive dosa and I had the kaju karela with a side of onion rice. We both had vegan ice-cream for pud. Yet another fabulous belly-full!

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Meat eaters beware… a sneaky veggie could EASY trick you with these tasty bad boys 😉

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My curry and rice and the edge of the Hubby’s massive dosa

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Vegan ice-cream! Neapolitan at the front and mango and raspberry at the back.

So, after 4 full days of uber-scoffing, I decided that tonight I needed a light tea. Since I had some veg to use up and well as a can of coconut milk, I decided to go for a Thai themed soup.

Coconut and green veg soup recipe:

Ingredients:

1 x tbsp. coconut oil (or any other oil really)400 ml can coconut milk

200 ml of water

½ x leek (sliced)

½ x cup green beans (chopped)

1 x cup pak choi (chopped)

½ x cup courgette (chopped)

1 x cup potato (chopped)

2 x cloves garlic (finely sliced)

3 x kaffir lime leaves (dried)

2 x tsp minced ginger (I used frozen)

2 x tsp coriander leaves (chopped)

1 x tsp Thai basil leaves (chopped)

2 x tsp white miso

1 x tsp white pepper

1 x tsp ground coriander

¼ – ½ x finely sliced chilli (depending on how hot you like it)

Lime of 1 lime

 

Method:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.

Add the leeks and potato and fry until the leeks go translucent.

Add the green beans and garlic and stir.

Add the ginger, ground coriander, miso, pepper and chili. Stir constantly to avoid the spices from catching on the bottom of the pan.

When things start to get a bit aromatic, add the coconut milk. Add the water to the empty can and swizzle to get all of the milk out and add to the soup.

Add the lime leaves, basil, coriander leaves, courgette and lime juice.

Bring to a simmer and cook with a lid on until the potato goes tender (10 – 15 mins).

Take off the heat and leave for at least 2 hours to cool. I find that this helps the soup to infuse without evaporating off too much of the coconut milk.

Heat when ready.

Remove any lime leaves and serve in bowls.

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I poured mine over a bit of sticky rice and topped with some fried tofu. Deeeelicious!

 

I’ll be sad to go back to work tomorrow after an epic few days off, but at least I’ll have some leftover soup to take with me 🙂

 

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59. Vegan, baked mini jam donuts

Does anyone have one of these things?

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My QVC shop “bargain”. I paid a tenner for this, I have used it once…

 

If not…. Don’t bloody bother! :p

Well, perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, but let me explain.

My BFF challenged me to make some scrummy vegan donuts. I wanted to make them a bit healthier than normal so I decided the way forward was to bake them rather than frying. If I were to deep fry my donuts I would have had my oil heated to 190oC, so it makes sense to bake them in the oven at the same temperature. My fandangled cake maker however doesn’t heat up that hot, so I found it impossible to get my little donuts to go golden brown.

I had no problem when I re-made them in a patty-pan tin in the oven though, hooray!

(And even if they weren’t golden brown, they were still pretty delicious…)

 

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Recipe makes 12

Baked vegan donut recipe

Ingredients:

1 x cup plain flour

1/3 x cup sugar

1 ½ x tsp baking powder

1 x tsp “No-Egg” whisked up with 2 tbsp water until fluffy

1/3 x cup non-dairy milk

¼ x cup melted vegan marg

1 x tsp vanilla extract

1 x tbsp. jam (I used wild blueberry and seedless raspberry)

½ x tsp apple cider vinegar

 

To coat:

½ x cup caster sugar

¼ x cup melted vegan marg

 

Method:

– Preheat the oven to 190oC

– Grease up your patty-pans (even if they are non-stick). You’ll need 12 holes.

– Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the sugar.

– In a separate bowl, whisk the No-Egg, marg, vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar

– Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until a smooth, thick-but-pourable batter is formed.

– Split 2/3s of the batter among the patty-pan holes.

– Add a little blob of jam to the centre of each batter-filled hole. If you’re using a more solid jelly-like jam, you can just use the back of a teaspoon to push the blob into the batter. If you’re using a more runny jam, you may want to attempt to create an indent to the centre of each donut first, just to make sure it stays centralised.

– Cover each jam blob with the remaining batter. You’d shouldn’t be able to see any jam!

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– Cook for 10 – 12 minutes.

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This photo demonstrates why its important not to overfill your jam donuts – otherwise you’ll end up with little jammy volcanoes!

– Remove from the oven and cool for 5 mins before brushing with melted marg and tossing in caster sugar.

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I warn you, both times I have made these, me and the hubby have scoffed the whole batch within 20 minutes, whoops!

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Please excuse the manky nail polish…

 

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