Tag Archives: glos vegans

Gloucestershire vegans dine Caribbean

18 Mar

Marinades

Gloucestershire Vegan Group descended en-mass on Marinades Caribbean Restaurant in Cheltenham for their latest get-together. It’s not often we dine out as a group, but it’s great to occasionally visit places that provide vegan options on the menu. We hope that our patronage encourages places to continue to offer vegan options, and perhaps even expand what is on offer for us. Marinades seemed like the perfect place our group to dine out, as they already offer several clearly marked vegan options on their menu, and when we enquired they were really helpful and happy to create a delicious sounding set menu for our group.

spicy jerk tofu and veg

spicy jerk tofu and veg

Marinades brought a little bit of Caribbean sunshine to a brisk spring day in Cheltenham. They treated to a wide-range of dishes including; plaintain-stuffed dumplings with a tangy dipping sauce, classic caribbean “rice & peas”, chana dal & callaloo, spicy “jerk” tofu with vegetables followed by a sweet potato pudding and vegan cream. The dishes were tasty with plenty of hot spices. The jerk tofu was a real highlight, with delicious chewy cubes of spiced tofu nestled in stir-fried crunchy veg. It was clearly all freshly prepared, from our tables we could see the chefs making up our food in the kitchen. The staff were friendly, there was some gentle reggae music playing, and there was an extensive drinks menu, including a few funky-looking fruit juice cocktails.

Marinades is at 56 High St. Cheltenham if you fancy a visit.

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Devine ‘Cheese’ & Fine Wine

5 Aug

One of our ‘cheese’boards – clockwise from left: Sheese Cheese & Chives, Cheshire Sheese, Gouda Sheese, Blue Style Cheezly, Pepperjack Cheezly

On a stormy summer evening we gathered in a couple of vegan group members’ small but cosy living-room to sample a range of vegan cheeses and quaff vegan wines.

For those of you not au fait with the world of vegan cheeses, like most vegan ‘fake’ foods they come in an entertaining array of names resembling the items they are based on. There’s Cheezly, Sheese and Parmazano not to mention No-moo and Creamy-smooth. They are mostly made from a mixture of vegetable fats, potato starch, rice flour and natural flavourings such as yeast, nut butters and spices. Some barely resemble the cheese they are attempting to imitate, whilst others nicely fill the fatty-salty-savoury-creamy role a cheese alternative should.

You can buy many locally from shops such as Sunshine Health Food Shop in Stroud, Green Spirit in Market St, Nailsworth and the Natural Grocery Shop in Cheltenham.

We’d brought a selection of cheeses to try, with the idea that we would get to try each one and discover which we liked the taste of. Everyone brought something along to nibble with the cheeses and some vegan drinks. There was a great selection of home-made chutneys, pickles, freshly baked bread, crackers, scones, salads, and even a yummy chocolate cheesecake for pudding.

pickletastic! fabulous home-made chutneys and a selection of pickled vegetables

After comparing the many cheeses on offer, most of us decided the No-Moo cheeses, made by Swiss-based company Vegusto were some of the best. We were especially keen on the “mild aromatic” flavour, which some of us felt most resembled what we can remember cheese tasted like (some of us have been vegan too long to remember such things!)

A selection of Vegusto’s “No-Moo” cheeses, clockwise from top: Walnut, Mild Aromatic, Classic, Piquant

Some of us also like the Blue-style Cheezly made by vegan food company Redwood, as it had a delicious tangy flavour reminiscent of stilton.

As for drinks we had a range of vegan-friendly wines and other drinks. We also enjoyed local bottled beers, made by Stroud Brewery. (Only the botted beers are vegan, the draught beers available in local pubs contain fish swim-bladder clearing agents. Lets hope Stroud Brewery decide it’s worth the extra custom to also make their draught beer suitable for veggies and vegans soon!) As many of you will know finding vegan-friendly booze can be frustratingly difficult due to poor labelling of drinks and secretive brewing industry processes. A comprehensive list of vegan-friendly alcholic drinks is available on the website Barnivore.

Aside from the good taste, perhaps the best thing about both the drinks and the ‘cheeses’  we’ve recommend above is that they are free from the products of animal exploitation.

Recipes from the evening:

You don’t have to buy vegan cheese, it’s easy to make your own such as this Cashew Ricotta

Cashew Ricotta

(based on recipe from the excellent cook-book Veganoimcon by Isa Chandra & Terry Hope Romero)

Ingredients:

Half a cup raw Cashew nuts

Juice of 1 and a half lemon

3 tbsp Olive Oil

A block of firm tofu

1 clove garlic

1 and a half tsp of salt

6 leaves fresh basil or 1 tbsp dried basil

Method:

Blend the cashews, lemon juice and olive oil until a grainy paste forms. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until creamy.
Chill until use. Great in baked dishes, with pasta, or used as a dip.

Caramelised Onion Bread

Ingredients:

1 tsp dried yeast

2 cups warm water

1 tsp salt

4 cups strong white bread flour

For the topping:

2 onions sliced into fine rings, or 8 shallots

3 tbsp Olive oil

Method:

Put 1tsp yeast in a large bowl, and add 2 cups of warm water.

Whisk until the yeast has dissolved.

Add 1 tsp salt and whisk.

Add half of the flour and mix well, then add the following 2 cups of flour.

Cover with a tea-towel and leave in a warm spot for at least 2 hours, until risen and doubled in size.

Then caramelise the onions: Soften in olive oil with a lid on the pan until the onions turn transparent, then remove the lid and up the heat, stirring regularly until the onions are a golden brown.

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.

Drizzle a little olive oil in a 9inch by 12 inch pan.

Turn the dough out into the pan, and spread it evenly

Drizzle the remaining oil on top of the dough of the and poke lots of holes in the dough with your fingers, then spread the caramelised onions on top

Bake for 25 mins or until risen and golden

(This dough is also great for pizza bases)

Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredients:

8oz rich tea/digestive biscuits

4oz marg

I pack of silken tofu

8oz dark chocolate

Method:

Melt the marg and crush the biscuits. Mix them together and press down in a round cake tin to make the biscuit base, leave to cool.

Melt the chocolate. Whisk/blend the silken tofu and stir in the melted chocolate, leaving a little to put on the top. Smooth over the biscuit base, put rest of the melted chocolate on top and put in the fridge till you are ready to eat! Enjoy!

Olive Scones

Ingredients:

225g self raising flour

1/4 tsp  baking powder

50g ‘Pure’ or other vegan marg

pinch of salt

1 tsp dried oregano

about 8 olives, chopped

enough plain soya yoghurt to make a soft dough

Method:

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl

Add the marg and rub in until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs

Using a knife, stir in the olives and oregano

Gradually add the soya yoghurt, until you have a softish dough

Bring the dough together with your hands and knead lightly on the work surface.

Roll out on a floured surface to no less than 2cm deep.

Cut out your scones, re-rolling the mixture until you use it up

Bake on a baking tray in a preheated oven (200C/400F/Gas Mark6) for 12 – 15 mins until risen and sounding hollow when you tap one on the bottom!

Either serve straight away or cool on a wire cooling rack.

(If you want to make these in advance and freeze them, then you get a better result if you freeze before cooking, rather than after.)

Favourite Vegan Cookbooks

31 Jul

There are many vegan cookbooks available out there, on all types of cooking and a varied range of cuisines. Here are some recommendations for books with tasty recipes and lovely layout:

Veganomicon – The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

Da Capo Press (2007)

This really is the ultimate vegan cookbook. Not only is it humourous – there are witty anecdotes and stories next to each recipe, it’s got a huge breadth of different recipes. It starts small with how to cook vegetables and pulses to perfection. This section could sound unnecessary if you’re not a learner chef, but it is actually really helpful in inspiring new methods to cook your favourite veg, or tasty ways to prepare foods you’ve previously dismissed as not yummy enough! After this initial “how to cook a…” section, Veganomicon then moves onto more complex recipes such as the incredible vegan moussaka topped with a cream cheese made from pine-nuts, yam-ram roll sushi, rosewater & pistachio cookies, and amazing layered sandwiches.

There is a blend of cuisines, and exciting new methods to try. This book really has changed the way I cook, and when I’m not following one of the many excellent recipes from here I often find that I thinking about combinations of ingredients and methods I’ve learnt through following these recipes.

I’ve found these recipes to be very reliable, almost all turning out to be completely delicious. Some of the recipes are quite long-winded, and others are really quick, but the time it takes to make is listed next to each recipe which is really helpful.

Its a US cookbook, so a few of the ingredients are hard to find here, but the recipes are measured in cups rather which I find infinitely easier and quicker than using scales to weigh quantities.

Another Dinner Is Possible – More than Just a Vegan Cookbook

by Isy & Mike

AK Press  (2009)

This cookbook is written by a couple of folks from Anarchist Teapot Mobile Kitchen who make amazing food at demos and protest camps in field kitchens with limited resources. It’s got a great selection of easy to make recipes. Not only that but there are sections on nutrition, vegan cooking for families, animal rights and food politics.

Some of my favourite recipes are: the Potato Provencale – a delicious tomato, potato and olive herby stew, perfect for winter months, the raita is amazing, and the potato stuffed chapattis are great with curry.

There’s a good selection of sweet stuff too, including a raisin scone recipe that would impress anyone’s grandma. There is also a section on Korean cooking, on how to make home-brew, and on home preserving. An eclectic mix of recipes, advice and information.

Hot Damn & Hell Yeah

by Ryan Splint

Microcosm Publishing

A fun southern-style inspired cookbook, featuring illustrations of skeletons in cowboy outfits enjoying vegan food!

The recipes in this small and affordable cookbook are easy to follow and simple to make. Great for spicy & southern vegan cuisine.

I particularly like the cornbread recipe, which goes nicely with a hot chilli.
Also there are some excellent recipes for burritos, gravy with biscuits, tacos and many other tex-mex inspired foods.

Vegan Pie in the Sky

by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

Da Capo Lifelong ( 2011)

Another super cookbook by some of my favourite vegan cookbook authors. This is one in a series of cookbooks on vegan sweets, following on from the also excellent Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World and Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar. It has a wide-range of pies, cheesecakes, pastries and flans. I’ve yet to bake them all, but have made the maple and pecan pie, which is a gorgeous, sticky, chewy nutty pie, with featherlight pastry.
The citrusy little lemon pies went down well with guests, who said it was the best pudding they’d ever eaten! The blueberry cheesecake is also divine.

There is masses of information on how to make pastry and different imaginative pie crusts such as olive oil crusts.

Dakshin – Vegetarian Cuisine from South India

 This is the choice of Gloucestershire Vegan Group member, Nam – she writes: “A South Indian Cuisine book – this is not strictly a vegan cookbook as it is lacto-vegetarian, but you can easily substitute any dairy ingredients. South Indian food is less oily than North Indian. One drawback is that is can be hard to find some of the ingredients specialist cooking pots (like an idli steamer) which may have to be bought in Asian stores (such as Motala 95-99  Victoria Street, Gloucester, or the World Food Shop (opposite Sub Room) in Stroud. Idlis can be made in ordinary steamers. Just line the base with muslin cloth.”

Do you have a favourite vegan cookbook? Write a review and it can be added to this post.

Making Vegan Sushi

31 Mar

How to Make Vegan Sushi

Following an enjoyable afternoon with Gloucestershire Vegans making and eating vegan sushi at our Vegan Sushi-Making skillshare, here is the recipe so that you can all have a go at making some.

Ingredients List:
For the rice:
Sushi Rice
Brown Rice Vinegar
Mirin
Umeboshi Plum Seasoning

2 sheets of Sushi Nori

For the filling:
A range of vegetables of your choice – I like Spring Onion, Carrot, Avacado, Fennel & Red Pepper

Toasted Sesame Seeds (optional)

For a Tempeh Filling option:
1/2 8oz Block of Tempeh
2 tbsp Vegan Mayo
1 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

For a Tofu Filling option:
Firm Tofu (I like the Taifun brand)
Oil for frying
2 tbsp Soya Sauce or Tamari

(Optional) Serve with: Wasabi Paste (the powdered form is usually vegan), Soya Sauce or Umeboshi Plum Seasoning for dipping, and Pickled Ginger

You may need a sushi rolling mat, but you can use a tea-towel

Some of the super sushi made at the skill-share

Makes 2 Rolls (about 12 pieces of Sushi)

1.Prepare the Rice
Add 1 cup of rice to 1 and a quarter cups water in a small saucepan
Allow to soak for 30mins
Bring to the boil and simmer with the lid on for about 20 mins or until all of the water is absorbed
Allow to stand, away from the heat, for 10 mins

2. Dress the Rice
Decant the hot rice into a medium sized bowl using a heat proof spatula or similar. Add a generous slosh each of brown rice vinegar, mirin, and umeboshi plum seasoning. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. It should taste slightly salty, slightly sharp and slightly sweet.
Allow to cool.

3. Prepare the fillings
If you’re making the Tempeh Filling:
Boil the tempeh in salted water for 10 mins to make it less bitter
Drain, and mash with a fork in a bowl with the sesame oil, vegan mayonnaise and cayenne pepper, and a dash of black pepper. It should be creamy and paste-like.

If you’re making a Tofu Filling:
Drain the tofu and slice into thin strips.
Pat them dry on some kitchen paper or a tea-towel
Fry in oil until golden (a cast-iron pan really helps the tofu to go nice and crispy without sticking)
then add the soya sauce,fry for a minute more
remove from the heat and slice the strips finer again

To prepare the vegetables:
slice into tiny strips or use a julienne slicer.

Assemble the sushi:


Place the sushi nori onto your rolling mat, shiny side down.

Wetting your hands to prevent the rice from sticking to them, grab a couple of handfuls of rice, and use your fingers to spread the rice firmly and evenly over your sheet of nori, allowing half an inch at the top and bottom edge free of rice, for sealing the roll.

Place your filling in a belt about an inch wide along the centre of the sushi nori

Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds if you desire

Wet the top and bottom of the nori, where you have left an area free from sushi rice

Roll the sushi, pulling the filling towards you, and into the roll with your fingers as you go.
Roll firmly and tightly.

Slice your sushi with a sharp knife, applying gentle pressure, and using a sawing motion, so not to squash the sushi.

These are even more yummy if eaten after dipping into soy sauce, tamari or umeboshi plum seasoning.

You can serve with Wasabi Paste and Pickled Ginger.

Enjoy!