Sunday, 21 September 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 - Sunday baking: Golden Syrup Cake

Today's Sunday baking is a recipe from the Ms Cupcake cookbook.  I actually got this book before it was available in stores - I got a signed copy at Brighton VegFest last year (? - whatever year it came out).  But I've been really crap about making stuff from it.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I've only made 4 recipes ... after today.

I kept looking at the Golden Syrup Cupcakes and thinking I really wanted to make them.  But given my penchant for laziness and the fact that I have fewer than 12 cupcake papers, I decided instead to make these into a cake.  I made it in an 8" square pan and sliced it in half to layer it with the vanilla buttercream from the book, then drizzled with syrup as suggested.

Behold!  As you can see, I like my cake to frosting ratio at approximately 1:1.  I usually frost the sides as well, but for some reason I decided I liked the look of it more like this.  And frankly, it didn't need any more frosting.

This was good, but not really much different from a regular vanilla cake.  I would've preferred a more syrupy flavour, maybe less sugar and more syrup.  But it's lovely and moist.  And Zebby liked it!

Also, I had half a recipe of frosting left over, so, oh darn, I'm gonna have to make something else.

And just because, here's a picture of Zebby looking at something.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 - Review: Brass Monkey Leith

I'm pretty sure everyone's aware of the results of the referendum, so you're probably not surprised that I didn't blog yesterday.  I actually hadn't intended on doing so today, but I had to get my laptop out to order pizza (for Mike's birthday, yay!), so I thought I might as well.

Yesterday evening I met a lovely Aussie PPKer for dinner at Brass Monkey in Leith.  I keep hearing that they have great vegan options, and they do have a really good booze selection, so we decided to give it a try.  I hadn't been there in years, and last time I only managed to get bread and olives to eat, so I figured anything had to be better than that.

First, the booze:  Both their food and drink menus are online, so you can have a look at them.  Like I said, they have a lot of good options for vegans.  My concern, of course, was the cider selection, and it doesn't disappoint.  They have Thistly Cross, which is made somewhere in the Lothians and is fantastic, as well as Jeremiah Weed (which I don't really consider cider but I guess it's not really classifiable).  I went with the Jeremiah Weed Sour Mash, which almost tastes like alcoholic root beer.  So good.  Beer-wise, they have Brew Dog and Innis & Gunn, amongst others that may or may not be sfv.

For dinner, I had the falafel burger, and Michelle had the veggie chili.

So, the falafel burger.  As you can see, the bun to burger ratio is about 3:1 (if I'm being generous), and the bun was really floury.  The burger itself wasn't great - mushy, bland, and unseasoned.  It was really only edible with the chips (which were pretty decent).  I'll note that I specifically asked for the bun to come out dry (it usually comes with some kind of onion jam and a chutney or something), so maybe they're hoping the condiments will serve for flavouring.  But you shouldn't have to rely on condiments to make something edible.

Michelle's chili, on the other hand, was actually pretty good (sorry, no pic).  I had a bite with one of the accompanying tortilla chips.  I probably wouldn't have enjoyed a whole bowl of it (British chili is just not really chili to me), but it was infinitely better than the burger.

So, a mixed bag, but only 2 entrees.  We didn't have any starters, and I didn't even bother to see if they had any vegan desserts (I doubt it - very few places do unless they're actually veg*n).  I wouldn't suggest avoiding the place because maybe that burger was off.  They also have a falafel sandwich that might be good (like, possibly actual falafel, not a slab of mashed chickpeas with veg and coriander mixed in).  And, you know, they try - they actually have quite a few vegan or veganisable options.  Ultimately, it's a pub, so if you go in expecting pub food, even if you have a bland burger, you're still gonna have a better experience than in most other pubs.  And even if you have a bad food experience, they'll getcha drunk (and much more cheaply than a lot of other pubs - I'm pretty sure I spent £2 more for the same drink at a different place).

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 - Alan Cumming's indyref stovies

Oh my glob, it's indyref day!  For the one person in the world who isn't aware, today is the day Scotland decides if it wants to be independent from the rest of the United Kingdom.  As I write this, I keep looking at Facebook and Twitter to see what people are talking about (I started this post about an hour ago).  I'm feeling a mixture of excitement, fear, hope, and hunger, because I didn't make dinner until about an hour ago.

For the sake of transparency, I support the GreenYes campaign.  I mean, I'm American *and* Southern, so secession is in my blood.  But as a progressive vegan feminist, I've been for many years and will continue to be a Green.  All that said, as an American citizen, I didn't actually have a vote!  It really, really sucks.

OK, enough of the politics.

I was gonna make this recipe tomorrow but made plans to have dinner with an Aussie PPKer, so I changed tonight's dinner plans.  I follow Alan Cumming on Twitter, and when I saw him tweet his recipe for stovies, I immediately decided I'd make it during MoFo.  He didn't call them indyref stovies, but since he's one of the most visible celebrities supporting the Yes campaign, and I made them on voting day, I thought it was appropriate.

Mmm, brown food.

Yeah, it's not particularly photogenic, but it was tasty as hell.  I don't know if I quite got it right - I think I might have added too much mince.  I think maybe stovies are meant to be the opposite of mince and tatties in that they're meant to have more tatties than mince.  But they were alright for my first stovies.

I only did about half the recipe, and I used Alan's suggestion of BBQ sauce because I didn't have, couldn't find, and couldn't be arsed to make Worcestershire sauce.  I can see myself making this again (especially since I still have a huge bag of tatties to use up), but I might add a touch of liquid smoke next time.  And I'll use Worcestershire sauce.

Hopefully when I blog tomorrow, it's be from a (soon-to-be*) independent Scotland!

*Independence day is set for 24 March 2016

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 - Bourbon biscuit spread

Another lazy post today - I'm super tired (again) and couldn't be bothered making the thing I'd intended to make.

Remember Speculoos spread? Of course you do because you never stopped eating it. But in case you aren't familiar, it's a peanut butter-like spread made from caramelised cinnamon biscuits. It's made out of cookies (probably NSFW).

Not to be outdone, Tesco decided to make a series of cookie-based spreads. And the Bourbon biscuit spread is vegan! Obviously I bought some. You may or may not be surprised to learn that it tastes pretty much just like Bourbon biscuits. In fact, I would say it's better than Bourbon biscuits. Yeah, it's really good. I've been eating it on bread because carbs (and fat) on carbs.

I think at the moment you can only get it at Tesco Extra. But if you live near one and want a chocolate version of Speculoos, you should look for it. I think I found it in the aisle with the PBs and jams and such.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 - Newsday Tuesday Two-fer!

It's another Newsday Tuesday, and today it's a two-fer!  Do radio DJs still do Two-fer Tuesdays?  I had a love/hate relationship with them because sometimes you'd get 2 songs by Adam Ant or The Cure or The Smiths, and sometimes you'd get 2 from The Eagles or something.

I made two more recipes from Cookin' Crunk today:  the twice-baked potatoes and the Mint Julep Brownies.

The taters took a while because of the baking, but if I'd done it right (cooking the leeks while the taters cooked), it might not have taken so long after that.  I was distracted and didn't pay attention to what I was doing, so it took longer than it should have.  But luckily it didn't affect the outcome.

These were so good!  They were totally worth the time and effort, though they really weren't that difficult.  I would totally recommend making these.  Though now I have pretty much a whole leek to use up, and I'm not sure what to do with it.

I made the brownies while I baked the tatties.  They didn't turn out quite so well.  I don't know why, but they didn't bake all the way through.  I had them in for an extra 10 minutes and they were still nearly raw, so I had to put them back in the oven.  Even after an extra 20 minutes, they're still gooey, and they're meant to be cake-like.  Mike liked them, but I can't take them to work like I'd intended.  And since I'm not a huge brownie fan, Mike will probably end up eating most of them (and he's already eaten about 1/3 of the pan).

Monday, 15 September 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 - Natural Selection Foods

Sorry about the photo-less post - I can't be arsed turning on my laptop, so I'm doing this from my iPad. I'm being lazy in another way in that I'm just gonna talk about a shop because I just made standard tofu scramble for dinner, which is nothing new.

Yesterday we went to lunch with Mike's mum at the city centre-ish location of Bonsai. When we left, I noticed a new shop around the corner, so we checked it out. It's called Natural Selection Foods, which frankly makes me a little uncomfortable. They mostly have stuff like packaged nuts and dried fruits, teas, flours, and snack bars, which I guess is where the natural part comes in. I think it's the muscle gain products that put that bit of discomfort in.

They had some high-protein cookies that happened to be vegan, so we got some of those. The brand is Lenny and Larry's, which I would've linked to but I keep getting an error on their site. They also did a lot of the other body builder-type snacks (like Fit brownies or something like that). Anyway, we got a chocolate chip, a double chocolate chip, and a pumpkin spice cookie, and we ate the first two when we got hot chocolate at Starbucks (ha!). I thought they were good for GF cookies, and then I realised that they weren't GF. Oops. They weren't bad, but they were a little dry. I think that's because they're kinda fitness snacks, so instead of fat they have a protein flour blend. They were £2.50 each, but I'm not sure if that was reasonable or a rip off. They were pretty big, but still.

We worried going in that this shop would give Real Foods a run for their money, but I think RF is safe. Like I said, they mostly just have snacks, whereas RF has pretty vastly different stuff. NSF doesn't have chocolate, toiletries, fresh fruit and veg, frozen or fridge foods, etc. I think the two shops would compliment each other, but I don't think one will drive the other out of business.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 - Sunday Baking: Whole Wheat Beer Bread

It's Sunday baking day!  Today I made the Whole Wheat Beer Bread from Cookin' Crunk.

Warm bread always means jam piece for me.

Beer breads are pretty great - you get freshly baked bread in about an hour, and you don't have to knead!  This came together so quickly that I actually had to do some other stuff while my oven pre-heated before I put the beer in because I didn't want to mess up the chemical reaction by having it sit around before going in the oven.

So, as you can see, I used Innis & Gunn Toasted Oak IPA*.  I had a wee taste of it before I poured it into the bowl, and it was super hoppy.  That really comes out in the bread.  Unfortunately, what I can't handle with beer is the hops part, so I thought the bread had a bitter note to it.  The slice on the right is a bit thicker than the slice on the left, and I almost gave up on the bread because the bitterness overwhelmed the sweetness of the jam.

Apart from that, it's got a lovely texture - slightly dense (without feeling like a brick), moist, and soft.  It definitely has potential, and I think it's my mistake that makes it not fantastic.  Since this is the first time I've made this, I'm gonna assume it's the particular beer and not the recipe itself, because I have had beer breads I've enjoyed.  I might try this again with a less hoppy beer.

*Innis & Gunn are Edinburgh brewers, and most if not all of their beers are vegan.  Woot!