Food

I love food! I’m not a ready-meal sort of person. Even if I’m knackered at the end of a long day, I like to make myself a proper meal with fresh vegetables. I like cooking that’s quick, easy and tasty. I also love cooking for other people. I’d like to share a few recipes here and show people that vegan cooking is easy and cheap.

I also get a veg box from local health-food shop, Beanies. For £8, I get enough organic, seasonal veg to get me through the week. I enjoy finding or inventing recipes for the random things that I get in my box.

 

Chocolate Fridge Cake

I made this for my colleagues for my last day at work. This cake was such a mainstay of my childhood that it was very surprising that none of them had heard of it before. It’s really easy to make but it’s definitely not health food!

150g Vegan Margarine (Vitalite or Pure)

2 tablespoons of cocoa

2 tablespoons of golden syrup

100g raisins / sultanas (you could use other dried fruit, chocolate chips or nuts too)

300g digestive biscuits (check the ingredients to make sure they’re vegan. I used Tesco value ones!)

Turn the biscuits into crumbs using a word processor. Or if you’ve got some frustration to work out, put them in a large bowl and bash them with a baked bean tin! It’s nice to leave a few larger pieces of biscuit to give the cake a bit of “crunch”.

Place the margarine, golden syrup and cocoa in a large pan and heat gently until melted. Add the biscuits and dried fruit and mix well.

Put the mixture in a well greased flan tin with a removable bottom. Press it down well. Put it in the fridge. You could decorate the cake by topping it with hundreds and thousands or Smarties (I know these aren’t vegan but that’s how we decorated fridge cake in the 80s!) Wait for two hours or more and then eat the cake!

You can also make a tasty version with ginger nuts!

 

Is that your flap, Jack?

Some flapjack, made by me. Do you like my retro tea plate?

Some flapjack, made by me. Do you like my retro tea plate?

Foolproof Flapjack – March 29th 2013

Since the hateful move to the Derby office, at work, I’ve needed something to eat quickly in the morning and to keep me going during the day. I’ve mastered the art of flapjack, which has been an unexpected bonus of the move to Derby, apart from my decision to bugger off and completely change career.

In the USA, flapjacks are a kind of pancake, but in the UK, they are a cross between a biscuit and a cereal bar. Due to the large amounts of sugar, syrup and margarine involved, they are not health food, despite what a colleague of mine thinks. He has one every day for his breakfast and calls them “porridge in a bar”. Flapjacks are great for a packed lunch and different ingredients can be added, for example, nuts, dried fruit or chocolate chips!

This week in Essex, a school has banned flapjacks cut in a triangular shape, following a fight in the school canteen when a student’s eye was injured after being hit in the face by a sharp piece of flapjack! http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/mar/25/essex-school-bans-triangular-flapjacks

Recipe:

Heat an oven to 180°C

Ingredients:

200g Margarine (use Vitalite or Pure if you want vegan flapjacks)

200g Sugar (experiment with different kinds of sugar: dark muscovado sugar will make the flapjacks taste like brownies)

200g golden syrup (you can use a mixture of golden syrup and black treacle, or use honey or agave nectar if you’re feeling healthy!)

400g porridge oats (you can add some muesli too)

50-100g nuts, dried fruit or chocolate chips

Put the margarine, sugar and syrup into a large pan and heat gently until the margarine has melted and the sugar has dissolved.

Take the pan off the heat and add the oats, nuts etc. You can add a few more handfuls of oats. As long as the oats are coated in the sugary mixture, you should be okay.

Line an oven tray with greaseproof paper and grease lightly with margarine. Pour the flapjack mixture into the oven tray and make sure it’s even and pressed into all the corners.

Put the flapjack into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, checking earlier if your oven tends to run hot. Don’t be tempted to bake the flapjack until it turns brown. This just means that it’s burned!

Take the flapjack out of the oven and press the mixture down with a wooden spoon. Leave to cool in the tin for about ten minutes.

Use a knife to cut the flapjack into squares – or triangles!

When the flapjack has completely cooled, break it up into the squares you’ve cut and put them in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Upside down leek tart

Upside down leek tart

“Mother’s Day Dinner”  – March 2013

I decided to say thanks to my mum (and dad) for their support and encouragement by cooking a meal and treating them. My mum insisted on helping with the vegetables when I wanted her to put her feet up, but it turned out to be a really enjoyable experience. Here are my recipes! The meal was delicious.

Serves 3-4.

Starter: Breaded Garlic Mushrooms (very retro!)

Brush a smallish casserole dish with olive oil and place large washed mushrooms in it. Sprinkle finely chopped garlic on top, sprinkle a bit more olive oil on top and cover with breadcrumbs – adding more olive oil! Put the lid on the casserole dish and cook for 15-20 minutes at 200 degrees Centigrade. Uncover the dish and put it back into the oven for 5-10 minutes to crisp the breadcrumbs.

Main: Upsidedown Leek Tart

I’m indebted to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for the idea for this. He does an onion version of this in his Veg book.

Slice 4-5 leeks and saute with olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs and a dash of soy sauce and maybe Hendersons Relish http://www.hendersonsrelish.com/ for about 20 minutes on a fairly gentle heat. Tip the cooked leeks onto a large tin plate, greased with olive oil.

Roll out pastry thinly (I’ve tried ready-made puff pastry and leftover hot-water vegetable suet pastry for this and they were both nice). Cut out a round of pastry large enough to cover the tin plate and press it lightly on top of the leeks. Brush with a little soya milk. Cook for about 20 minutes at 200 degrees Centigrade. Just before serving, take out of the oven (use oven gloves, doh!) use another plate of about the same size, put it on top of the pastry, hold the two plates together and turn the tart upside down so that the pastry is at the bottom and the leeks at at the top, looking very neatly arranged.

Serve with celeriac / potato mash (celeriac is that weird vegetable that looks like a freaky head but once you peel it, treat it just like potato!) and stir-fried greens. Or perhaps a nice salad.

Pudding: Apple Strudel

Roll out a ready-made block of puff pastry thinly into a large rectangle. Put the rectangle of pastry onto a sheet of baking paper. Grease a fairly large baking tray with vegan margerine.

Peel and slice three cooking apples (e.g. Bramleys) and cook gently in a pan with lemon juice and zest, a couple of tablespoons of water, cinnamon and a few handfuls of raisins or sultanas. Cook until the apple slices soften.

Spread the apple mixture evenly on the pastry rectangle, leaving a border of about 1″ around the edge. Gently pull the baking paper so that the pastry is rolled up (like a Swiss Roll!). Use the paper to gently roll the strudel onto the baking tray. Cook for about 30 minutes at 200 degrees Centigrade.

Serve with vegan cream or custard! The strudel is also delicious cold the next day.

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