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40. Fake Steak Bakes


Many of the omnivores in my life regularly bow down and praise the almighty “Steak Bake” as sold by a certain, famous high street “bakery”. I’ve never really understood the love of this particular pasty. Back in my meat-munching days I was always disappointed by the lack of filling – too much gravy and not a lot of anything else.

So, I was surprised to find myself fancying one the other day. So I made a couple. Using seitan. Oh mighty seitan -  now there’s a food that deserves worshipping!

Meaty, savoury, filling and best of all, animal cruelty free. My Fake Steak Bake recipe:

Ingredients:

1 ½ x cups vital wheat gluten

1 x 400 g tin black beans (drained and rinsed)

1 x medium onion (roughly chopped)

2 x tsp vegan friendly Worcester sauce

1 x tsp Dijon mustard

1 x tbsp veg oil

2 x tsp beef seasoning

1 x tsp minced garlic

½ x tsp browning

1 x tsp black pepper

2 x tbsp water

250 g vegan friendly shortcrust pastry (I used Jus-Rol)

2 x tbsp gravy granules (I used Bisto original)

Method:

You will need about ¼ of the seitan to make two large pasties. Therefore if you have enough pastry and gravy, you could theoretically make eight pasties. I only made two so this is how many my recipe is for. The left over seitan freezes well or is great in a sandwich.

Whiz up the wheat gluten, black beans, Worcester sauce, mustard, oil, beef seasoning, garlic, ½ of the onion, the browning, pepper and water in a food processor until a smoothish paste is formed.

Add the gluten and whiz until combined into a dough.

Knead for 5 – 10 minutes either by hand or mixer. The longer you knead the more bite the “beef” will have.

Roll into a thick sausage shape and loosely wrap in tin foil. Place into a steamer on a low – medium heat for 45 minutes.

 

Leave to cool in the fridge overnight.

Cut off ¼ of the seitan and chop up into meaty chunks. 


Fry in a little oil along with the remaining onions, just until the edges of the seitan starts to crisp and the onions start to go translucent.

Add the gravy granules and stir in enough water to make a thick gravy. Once bubbling, turn off the heat.

Roll out the pastry into 2 rectangles of equal size. Spoon the filling over one half of each rectangle, leaving a 2 cm gap around the edges. Fold the clean halves over the top of the filling and use the back of a fork to press down the edges in order to seal the pasties.


Bake on a lightly greased baking tray for 15 – 20 minutes (until golden brown).

 

I’m a dirty-girl and snaffled mine up with lots of ketchup!


Flash-Gordonette…x


 P.S., HAPPY WORLD RAT DAY to all my fellow ratty lovers!  X

 

(Harvey on a shoe!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

39. Chocolate, coconut and raspberry nutty date bars


I like to take these bars to work in case I get hungry, especially since the canteen doesn't cater well for vegans.

They’re super easy to make as well, simply throw all of the ingredients into a food processor and when coarsely ground spread into a tin lined with cling film before chilling in the fridge overnight. Simple!

Chocolate, coconut and raspberry nutty date bars:

Ingredients:

1 x 32 g raspberry liquorice bar (completely optional – I had a Panda bar that needed using up)

½ x cup cashews

1 x cup almonds

200g pack of dates (pitted and roughly chopped)

½ x cup frozen raspberries

¼ x cup desiccated coconut

3 x tbsp drinking chocolate (I used Cadbury’s – make sure it’s not the instant version)          

 

Method:

Put all ingredients into a food processor and whizz until all ingredients are coarsely ground. The mixture should bind together when pinched.

Spoon into a container (e.g. a baking tin), lined with cling film and using the back of the spoon, press down.

 

Refrigerate overnight.

Turn upside down onto a chopping board and peel off the cling film. Cut into bars and wrap individually in tinfoil. Store in the fridge.


In the not too distant future I’ll be in France, staying in the arse-end of nowhere for three nights with work. Call me paranoid but I don’t want to go hungry, so I’ll be popping a few of these babies into my suitcase!

 

Flash-Gordonette…x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

38. Curried veggie bean burger


Anyone who read my Ultimate Nachos post (http://flash-gordonette.com/2014/03/09/36-ultimate-nachos.aspx ) would have seen me witter on about how I always have a bowl of grated veggies in my fridge. I listed several uses, including: bulking up meals, a side, part of a salad, sandwich filler, a base for soup or maybe coleslaw.

Well last week, I found a new use! I didn’t know what to make for tea when I thought… I wonder if I could make burgers out of my grated veg? Last week’s bowl consisted of ¼ of a celeriac, white cabbage and 1 large carrot. I decided that I would need some spices to sex my burgers up a bit and so I thought that a curry flavour would complement the celeriac. To add a bit of sweetness, I added some chopped dates and in order to bind the patties, I mushed a tin of cannellini beans into the mix.

The resulting burgers were fried in a little oil until both sides were beginning to burn and going crispy round the edges. I served them in a bread bun with some homemade fresh and minty pea puree and some not-so-homemade tomato and chilli chutney. Beautiful!

Curried veggie-bean burger recipe

(Makes 2 big burgers)

Ingredients:

1 x cup grated veggies

5 x dates (chopped and pitted)

½ x small onion (diced)

1 x tsp curry powder

¼ x tsp ground ginger

¼ x tsp ground turmeric

¼ x tsp grated nutmeg

¼ x tsp black onion seeds

¼ x tsp carmon seeds

1 x clove garlic

1 x can cannellini beans

Juice of ½ lemon

1 x tbsp gram flour

1 x tbsp oil

Method:

Mix together the veggies, dates, spices, seeds, onion and garlic. Drain and rinse the beans and mash into the mix.

Mix in the lemon juice before moulding the mix into two burgers using your hands. If the mix is too crumbly, you can add a splash of soya / nut milk.

Heat up the oil in a large heavy frying pan. Dip the burgers in the gram flour until lightly coated on both sides. Gently place in the pan. Fry one side for 5 mins before flipping. Fry for a further 5 minutes. Keep flipping and frying until the edges of the burgers are just beginning to blacken. If they lose shape, just use a spatula to push back into a disc.


Minty pea puree

Ingredients:

1 x cup frozen peas

1 x tsp dried mint (or fresh if you have it to hand)

1 x tbsp tahini

½ x tsp salt

Juice ½ lemon


Method:

Pop the peas into a sieve. Pour some boiling water over them until they are defrosted but still fresh and green.

Put the peas into a food processor along with the other ingredients and mix until a puree is formed.


Construction:

Spread a bread bun with a tomato chutney / relish / sauce of your choice. Put a burger on the bottom half of the bun and top with a big dollop of the pea puree. Add the top half of the bread bun et voila!


You could serve these burgers with a side of fries, but be warned, they are more filling than they look!

 Flash-Gordonette…x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

37. Green pasta bake


I love it when the hubby doesn’t need feeding. He’s not a massive pasta fan so it gives me the opportunity to binge on the stuff. He also hates cauliflower, mushrooms or anything green (with the exception of kale and spinach) so I usually take advantage of the opportunity to make my “green pasta bake”.

Kale, cauliflower, peas, broccoli, broad beans and mushrooms – whats not to love? Especially since it’s topped with a delicious “parmesan” crust and devoid of any animal products.

I got two portions out of the following recipe (one has gone into the freezer), but you could easily feed four people if you bulk it out with a nice side salad or some garlic bread.


Green pasta bake recipe:

Ingredients:

Sauce

½ head large cauliflower

½ x cup chopped kale

1 x small onion

2 x tsp minced garlic

1 x tbsp olive oil

½ x medium red chilli pepper

1 x stock cube

Salt and pepper to taste (I prefer not to add salt).

Veggies, pasta and mushrooms:

½ x cup peas

1 x cup broccoli

½ x cup broad beans

3 x cups sliced mushrooms

1 ½ x cups pasta shells (other pasta shapes are fine but you may need to alter the quantity).

Toppings

- Enough plain soya yogurt and breadcrumbs to cover the top of the pasta bake (depends on the size and depth of your baking dish).

- “Parmesan” – Inspired by this recipe: http://www.veggieful.com/2012/08/vegan-parmesan-cheese-recipe.html , I whizzed together 1 x cup of cashews with ½ x cup of nutritional yeast.

Method:

Break the cauliflower into florets and add to a pan of cold water. Crumble in the stock cube and bring the water to a boil. Continue to heat until the cauliflower is tender.

Whilst the cauliflower is cooking, chop the onion and fry in the olive oil along with garlic and chilli pepper. Fry for a few minutes before adding the kale. Once the onion is soft and translucent, turn off the heat.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the cauliflower from the stock and put into a liquidizeralong with the onion, garlic, chilli, kale and any oil that’s left in the pan. Add two cups of the stock and whizz until you have a thick, smooth, creamy green sauce.


Fill a medium sized pan half full with water and bring to the boil. Add the pasta. Once the pasta begins to soften, add the broccoli, peas and broad beans. Cook until the pasta is on the chewy-side of “el dente”. You don’t want to overcook any of the ingredients as the dish still needs to be baked. Drain.

Whilst the pasta etc is cooking, quickly fry the mushrooms. Again, don’t overdo them.

 

Add all the pasta and veggies to the mushrooms, then add the sauce. Heat through whilst stirring and keep heating and stirring until the sauce thickens and begins to bubble.

Pour into a baking dish.

Top with a thin layer of yoghurt. Sprinkle with a layer of breadcrumbs and then generously dust with the parmesan.

 

Bake in the oven for 10 – 15 mins at 180oC – just until the top turns golden brown and the sauce begins to bubble round the edges.

Tuck in!


Creamy, indulgent, satisfying and yet full of good stuff. The hubby doesn’t know what he’s missing out on

Flash-Gordonette…x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

36. Ultimate nachos

Nacho nacho woman, I want to be, a nacho woman! #

I love nachos. But it makes me sad that I can never have them when we go out anymore. Well I could, but I would have to ask for no cheese, no sour cream and to be honest I probably wouldn’t even risk the guacamole (the bottled, un-refrigerated stuff usually contains dairy). So if a veg*n chilli isn’t available on the menu, that would leave me with chips and maybe some tomato salsa. Hmpft.

However, that doesn’t stop me chowing down on nachos of epic proportions at home! Introducing my Ultimate Nachos… tortilla chips, mouth-watering “chilli sin carne”, lashings of realistic cheezy sauce and a generous helping of sour cream. Definitely one of my favorite weekend treats!


Chilli sin carne

I like to use as many different types of tomato as possible to give a nice depth of flavour. Tomato ketchup is my dirty secret ingredient – perfect for adding a hit of sweetness.

Ingredients:

1 x tsp oil

1 x medium onion (chopped)

1 x pepper

4 x average sized fresh tomatoes

2 x tsp minced garlic

2 x tsp chopped red chilli (the strength is up to you! I opted for a medium spice)

2 x tsp tomato puree

2 x tsp smoked paprika

1 x tsp dried mixed herbs (unless you have some nice fresh coriander/cilantro to hand)

1 x tsp sugar

1 x tin black turtle beans - drained (you can also use red kidney, but I’m not a big fan)

4 x mushrooms (quartered)

1 x tin chopped tomatoes

1 x cup grated veggies* (optional)

2 x cups frozen soya mince

2 x tbsp tomato ketchup

1 x tsp soy sauce

Juice of one lime

Black pepper to taste

*I always have a bowl of grated veggies in my fridge, usually consisting of any combination of carrot, white cabbage, red cabbage, celeriac, suede etc. This comes in so incredibly useful for bulking up meals – it can be a side, part of a salad, sandwich filler, a base for soup or can easily be turned into coleslaw by adding some vegan mayo.

Method:

Heat up the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion. Fry until translucent and soft.

Add the pepper and continue cooking until soft.

Add the garlic, chilli and fresh tomatoes and cook until heated through. Keep stirring to prevent the garlic and chilli from burning.

Add the tomato puree, dried herbs, smoked paprika and sugar and continue to cook and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the black beans, mushrooms and grated veggies and cook for around 2 minutes before adding the tin of chopped tomatoes. Cook until simmering.

Add the soy sauce, ketchup and soya mince and keep cooking until the mince has completely defrosted and heated through. Add water if the chilli seems too dry.

Take off the heat and stir in the lime juice and black pepper if using.

Tip: As with most tomato based dishes, this chilli is best if left to cool for a few hours (or better still, overnight) so that the flavours have chance to develop. You will need to reheat however before adding to the nachos.

Eazy Cheeze sauce

I’ve seen a few cheeze sauces knocking around the internet which use carrot and potato as a base. This is my version but I quick Google search will bring up many more!

Ingredients:

1 x large carrot (peeled)

2 x small potatoes (peeled)

½ x cup nutritional yeast

½ x cup olive oil (don't use virgin!)

½ x teaspoon mustard (or horseradish or wasabi)

½ x tsp black pepper

½ x cup soya milk

¼ x tsp garlic powder

½ x tbsp fresh lemon juice

¼ x tsp white miso paste

Method:

Pop the carrot and potatoes into a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and continue to heat until the soft enough to mash.

Add the carrot, potatoes and all other ingredients to a food processor and whiz until smooth and uniform in colour. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides.

Transfer to a pan and heat until the sauce bubbles. Stir the whole time using a silicone spatula. Taste great cold or warm!

Construction

Ingredients:

Chilli sin carne, eazy cheeze sauce, tortilla chips, vegan sour cream and a melt-able vegan “cheese”.

Method:

1. Arrange a layer of nacho chips onto a plate and pop under the grill just long enough for the edges to just start turning a pale golden brown. Don’t overdo or else they’ll burn during step 5.

 

2. Dollop a healthy serving of hot chilli onto the top of the nachos. I like to leave an outer ring of un-topped nachos for presentation purposes. Plus it makes the chips easier to pick up and dip.

3. Add spoonful’s of the eazy cheeze sauce onto the top of the chilli.


4. Add a nice melt-able vegan “cheese” of your choice onto the top.


5. Pop under the grill until the vegan cheese has melted, the cheese sauce has gone bubbly and the edges of the nachos have started to go brown.

6. Add blobs of vegan sour cream (I used Toffuti). If I’d have had some spare jalapeños to hand, I’d have added some of those as well. Same goes for avocado… live and learn!


7. Enjoy with a nice cold beer! I would very much like to recommend Innis and Gunn: http://www.innisandgunn.com - which is my all time favourite beer, even before I turned veg*n!

This recipe will comfortably create either 4 portions of nachos as an appetizer, or 2 healthy portions as a main meal. And if you have any leftovers, you can stick them on a pizza base and have an ultimate nacho pizza – hell yes!!!


 

Flash-Gordonette…x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

35. Jalebi

 

Through my Facebook account (did I mention I have Facebook??? Add me!: www.facebook.com/flash.gordonette.5) I got talking to an adorable chappy from New Delhi. He recommended that I try this recipe for jalebi: http://indianfood.about.com/od/specialoccassionrecipes/r/jalebi.htm

I’d never ever heard of jalebi before, but I’m always up for a new challenge!

The original recipe wasn’t quite vegan due to the use of yoghurt, so I just substituted with the plain soya alternative. I also think the quantities used in recipe might be a bit wrong… the ratio of yoghurt to flour wasn’t nearly high enough to create a pourable batter so I tweaked by adding some almond milk. Also, I don’t think that the recipe uses enough liquid to dissolve all the sugar in the syrup so I added more.  That said, my jalebi looks absolutely nothing like the picture so maybe I’m not as big a smart-arse as I like to think!

 

The finished product was still very yummy though…

 

I made enough batter to fill a 1Kg empty bottle of ketchup, but since I only used ¼ of the batter to create 4 servings, I have quartered the quantities for the below recipe:

Vegan jalebi recipe:

Batter

Ingredients:

½  x cup self-raising flour

1/8  x tsp baking powder

¼ x cup plain soya yoghurt

½ x cup almond milk (or any other dairy alternative).

1 x teaspoon orange food colour

 

Method:

Mix all ingredients together and whisk into a smooth batter. Pour into an empty sauce bottle (a funnel makes this job a lot easier). Leave to “ferment”. The original recipe recommends 24 hours but I just plonked mine on the radiator for a couple of hours. Maybe this is why my jalebi didn’t turn out looking quite right!

 

Do NOT shake the bottle too vigorously whilst sat next to your husband, it may end in a messy disaster! 


Syrup

Ingredients:

3 x tbsp rose water

2 x tbsp. water

1 x cup sugar

Few strands saffron

¼ x tsp cardamom powder

 

Method:

Put the sugar, water and rose water into a pan and heat whilst stirring. Once the sugar has dissolved, continue to heat and stir until the liquid is boiling and has reduced down to a syrupy consistency. The original recipe recommends sticking your finger in it to test when its ready, but I have experienced enough hot sugar burns in my lifetime to say that I really don’t recommend this!!!

Remove from the heat and stir in the cardamom and the saffron.

 

Jalebi:

Method:

The original recipe says to heat up oil in a wok in order to cook the batter. I just used a deep fat fryer because it was handy.

Heat the oil and test if it is hot enough by adding a small amount of the batter. It should bubble and rise to the surface of the oil almost immediately.

Drizzle the rest of the batter into the oil using an erratic, wiggly pattern. When floating and golden brown, scoop out of the oil and place on some kitchen roll. Depending on the size of your fryer / wok, you may need to cook the batter in several batches.

 

(it was supposed to look like spaghetti, whoops!)

Add the cooked batter to the syrup, gently mix and leave for a couple of minutes so that some of the syrup is absorbed. Serve and enjoy! The portions may not look too big, but don’t be fooled – the jalebi is delicious but pretty sickly!

 

Even Harvey enjoyed a little nibble! Hope you do too J

 

 Flash-Gordonette…x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

34. Leftover butter-cream cookies

I hate it when food goes to waste. Like REALLY hate it. I once had a complete tantrum at a colleague when he threw my one day out of date soya yoghurt in the bin, and I have FORBIDDEN the hubby from participating in food eating challenges until he is man enough to finish the plate…

So you can imagine the burden I was feeling after I was left with a cup and a half of butter-cream after frosting a birthday cake. Well, to begin with it was two cups, but I quickly found out that butter-cream is very sickly when consumed on its own. So what to do? Invent a butter-cream cookie!


These cookies aren't like the last cookies I posted. These are less chewy but much better for dunking in a brew. They are also very yummy and extremely easy to make.

There are endless variations of cookies that I could have made but I went for bran and sultana. They worked very well!

Ingredients:

1 ½ x cups butter-cream (left over from my vegan sticky toffee pudding cupcakes).

½ x cup branflakes (double check the ingredients, some supermarket brands use honey).

¼ x cup sultanas.

2 x tsp vanilla essence.  

1 x cup plain flour.

Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix. EASY. You might need to use your hands towards the end in order to sculpt into a dough.

Break off walnut sized lumps and mould into a ¼ inch thick circle. Lay each circle out onto a baking tray lined with some lightly greased, grease-proof paper and pop into a preheated oven (180oC) for 10 – 15 minutes. I flipped mine over halfway through to ensure they baked evenly.

Once cooled, scoff the lot! This recipe yielded 15, so you might need someone to help


Flash-Gordonette…x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

33. Date and nut crumble

A very easy recipe today – Date and nut crumble. A perfect snack to pop into your lunchbox.
The trickiest bit is finding two identical baking tins. And maybe pitting all the dates, that’s always a boring task…

Ingredients:

½ x cup almonds

½ x cup cashews

¼ x cup raisins or sultanas

¾ x cup pitted dates

½ x tbsp cocoa powder


Method:

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until a coarse paste is formed. To check if blended enough, squeeze a bit of the mixture between your finger and thumb. The mixture should bind together.

Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased baking tin (I used a round one with a 9 inch diameter) and press down.  

Lightly grease the underneath of an identical baking tin and press down hard on the top of your crumble. Add a weight to the top of the baking tin (I used a large jar of golden syrup) and leave in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, but preferably overnight.

Remove from the fridge and take off the top baking tin. Turn upside down onto a chopping board and gently tap the bottom baking tin until the crumble drops out.


Slice up and enjoy!

I individually wrapped mine up in tinfoil so I could take one to work each day. Be careful – they can be slightly messy to eat!

Flash-Gordonette…x

32. Surviving in Bulgaria

You might have wondered why my last entry was written using a tablet. Reason was that I was in Borovets, Bulgaria on a week’s holiday, celebrating my Hubby’s 40th Birthday.

The big day isn’t until March, but we wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss the snow since we were mainly going for the snowboarding. Ha! They’d had the worst snow in years so only the red runs were open. Fine for him but terrifying for a novice like me! Still, I managed to survive with only a bruised bottom and a bit on a bruise on my arm…

I was worried about what the food was going to be like, especially since we were going half board at the hotel we were staying at. I had visions of it not even being veggie friendly, let alone vegan friendly. Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised. First off however, I will describe the food I had on the plane.

For our Honeymoon back in May last year we flew with Thompson and since it was a special occasion, we upgraded to Premier Class. At the time I was only veggie but since I was offered the option of a vegan meal, I took it out of curiosity. At the time I was SO glad that I was “only” veggie because basically flying both inward and outbound I got a vegan hot dish, and everything else was the same as everyone else’s meal: 2 x cheeses; pack of cheese crackers; 2 x dairy pudding pots; and a bread roll with dairy butter…! And since the flight was around nine hours we got a snack later on. I got handed an egg butty heading out and a cheese and tomato hot roll coming home! Needless to say I complained on my customer service form, not that I ever heard back.

Anyhow, we flew with Thomas Cook this time and I have to say that I was rather impressed. I got the same meal both inward and outbound but it was tasty so I didn’t mind. I was given a vegetable tagine consisting of some sort of squash, red kidney beans, tomatoes and mushrooms, along with a side of vegetable couscous. I also got two wholemeal rolls, a pack of vegan friendly marg, an apple, a little pack of Sun-maid raisins, a pack of water crackers and a mini pack of Marmite. Lovely! (Well, apart from the Marmite, bleurgh!)

Back to the hotel, we stayed at the Festa Winter Palace. I can’t be bothered writing a big review on the accommodation but it was nice, spacious and for the price we would recommend it to someone with the right budget. I can however be bothered to review the food in detail:

Breakfast was a bit of a chore as the choices were the same every day. Mostly there was bacon, frankfurters, scrambled egg, boiled egg, cereals with cow’s milk and also French toast…but luckily there was also normal toast, jam and beans. To be truthful, seven days of beans on toast or jam on toast was a bit of a tedious challenge. There was also fresh fruit so I enjoyed a juicy orange for the first two days, but then they started to add bananas to the fruit bowl. Anyone who knows me will know that I’m a bit banana-phobic, so I was unable to touch any of the fruit after witnessing this horrific scene!

Lunchtimes weren't included in our package so most days I took a vegan bar up to the slopes whilst the Hubby took a chocolate bar. One day we had chips at one of the slope side restaurants. Another day I was desperate for a change so I gambled and ordered a “vegetarian burger”. The gamble didn't pay off as the burger came and was basically a mass of feta cheese moulded into a patty and topped with a cheese slice in a bun with some salad. The waitress didn't speak very good English (and who can blame her) and I hatehatehate to see food go to waste – so I ate it. Luckily I have only been eating a completely 100% vegan diet for just over a month now (been totally vegan at home for months now, but have previously struggled at business lunches and people’s houses) so I saw no ill effects. BUT I did feel pretty guilty. I also have to admit that I caved and had a couple of hot chocolates because I was cold and at the time felt that I needed a hot drink. I had already learned the hard way that the black coffee was pretty gross, however once I realised that they served hot wine, I stuck to that in the hope that it wasn't made with any gross fining agents.  Although I feel bad for slipping up, it has made me more determined to do a better job of being vegan from now on – I don’t want to be a “transitioning vegan” forever! I do think though that I need to persevere with black coffee until I develop a taste for it, it would prevent a lot of trouble during refreshment breaks.

Teatime was the easiest meal to get through; in fact I did pretty well. The Hubby was sick of the sight of tough pork and chewy chicken by the end of the holiday, whereas I was quite enjoying my evening meals. There was always at least plain pasta or a vegetable rice on the buffet and every night they served a versatile sauce made of pureed aubergine, tomatoes, sweet potato and peppers. There was also plenty of salad: green peppers; black olives; beefy tomatoes; sweetcorn; red onion; jalapeños; and white beans. They also served something called “Royal Salad” consisting of raw carrot, cauliflower and white cabbage in a tangy vinaigrette which was surprisingly flavoursome. I had no problem combining ingredients to create nice vegan friendly meals. The only downside was that most of the food was served lukewarm. I’m not sure I would make a very good raw vegan as I was really beginning to crave a plateful of hot steamy food.


My cravings were however fulfilled on the last day of our holiday. We booked a trip sightseeing round the Bulgarian Capital, Sofia. I had researched a vegan friendly bar and restaurant on www.happycow.net , so when the group moved on to visit a shopping centre we slipped away for a spot of lunch. My dish sounds really boring – basmati rice with onions, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, cashews, ginger and avocado – but it was piping hot and fantastically balanced. The Hubby bless him has been going around telling people that the best meal he has all week was at a vegan restaurant, so I had to remind him that a) it was a normal restaurant that happened to also cater for vegans and b) that his dish had bacon and cheese in it!!! Still, I really appreciated him missing out on a shopping trip to go somewhere I wanted visit.


If anyone is likely to visit Sofia, the restaurant was called “Cabra Natural Foods and Bar”. The food was fabulous and super cheap, and the girl who served us was warm, friendly, efficient and spoke good English. Also the local beer was lovely, even though I’m not a lager person. 

They are on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cabra-Natural-Foods-Bar/164478763618155) but since most of the posts are in Bulgarian, I have to admit that I haven’t bothered to like the page…

So there we have it, my vegan triumphs and failures whilst visiting Bulgaria! I’m off to Germany, France and Hungary soon so I’ll have to swot up on my Vegan survival tactics – any advice would be greatly received!

 Flash-Gordonette…x

 

 

 

 

 

 

31. Vegan sticky toffee pudding cupcakes

So, I'm attempting to type this on a tablet, which is really ANNOYING no judging me for any typos or formatting errors...!

Here you have it, my vegan sticky toffee pudding cupcakes with a salted caramel sauce filling, vanilla buttercream and salted caramel chip sprinkles.


Remembering back to my childhood days l couldn't resist turning these little gems into 'butterfly' cakes and I'm glad I did because I think they turned out super cute. I made these to take into work but didn't tell people that they were devoid of eggs and dairy. They went down very well and people were still talking about them the next day!

I couldn't find a recipe that I really liked the look of so I adapted several including a couple of non-vegan ones. I'm glad to say that I was very happy with the results. Rich, moist (hate that word!) and well and truly sticky!

Vegan sticky toffee cupcake recipe

Cupcakes:
Adapted from this recipe:
http://www.grahamsfamilydairy.com/recipes/our-friends/cuckoos-bakery/cuckoos-bakery-sticky-toffee-pudding-cupcakes/

Ingredients (makes 12 depending on the size of your cases)
•55g vegan marge
•130g Light Brown Sugar
•1/4 cup apple sauce (homemade if you can! )
•90g Plain Flour
•1 ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
•25g Golden Syrup
•45g Treacle
•150g Pitted Dates
•150 ml Boiling Water
• 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda 
•1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC

Pop the dates, hot water and vinegar into a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Cream the marge and sugar using an electric hand mixer, until light snd fluffy and pale.

Mix in the treacle and golden syrup until smooth and fully combined.

By hand, stir in the apple sauce.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and bicarb and gently fold one tablespoon at a time into the margy-butter-syrup mix.

Fold in the date mixture into the cake batter until thoroughly combined. The mixture should be beautifully thick and airy.

Distribute evenly between your cake cases and pop into the oven. They should take around 10 to 15 mins but keep an eye on them. When done, an inserted skewer should come out clean.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.


Caramel sauce and chips:
Basically, follow this lovely recipe: http://www.grouprecipes.com/31122/vegan-caramels.html (ETA - Struggling to get this link to work. If the page comes up with the message that there are no matches, search "Vegan Caramels" in the search and the second hit is the one to follow. It is written by "maggiehc")
But double up the mixture. When the sauce begins to boil, pour half into a bowl and stir in the vanilla and 1/4 cup of soya milk. This will be the sauce.
With the remaining mixture, continue to follow the recipe. However, instead of cutting into bitesized caramels, you want to use scissors to snip into little chips ready to decorate your cakes with. To stop them sticking together I kept them in the freezer until I was ready to use.

Buttercream:
We're back to this recipe for the buttercream:
http://www.grahamsfamilydairy.com/recipes/our-friends/cuckoos-bakery/cuckoos-bakery-sticky-toffee-pudding-cupcakes/
Simply replace the butter for vegan marge.

Assembly:
When the cupcakes are cooled - and not a moment sooner- use a teaspoon to carve a circular piece of cake out of the middle of the top of each. Keep the little circles safe as you'll be cutting each in half to create the butterfly 'wings'.

Next, add the caramel to the hole in each cake. I would recommend adding just a teaspoon's worth to begin with to make sure theres enough to go around, then top up with whats left.

When you're done being saucy, its time to add the buttercream. I used a piping bag to be posh. Not that I looked posh as I got the bloomin' stuff EVERYWHERE.

Finally, position your wings into the buttercream and decorate with the caramel chips.
The next time someone tells me how they can't understand why all vegans aren't super skinny... I'm going to link them to this entry

MAJOR YUMMERS!



Flash Gordonette...X

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