Saturday 27 September 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 - New (to me) foods from Tesco

I spent most of today running around.  This included a pointless trip to Real Foods - pointless because I forgot they closed at 6.30pm on Saturdays, and I got there at 6.45pm.  Derp.  So today I'm just gonna talk about some new things that have popped up at Tesco, and one new-to-me thing that I got today.

First up, Tesco's new dairy-free ice cream.  It's £2 for 500ml of coconut-based vanilla ice cream.  It tastes alright, but it falls on texture, which I felt was a bit grainy.  It's a great option for a soy-free vegan considering how much other coconut-based vegan ice creams cost (I saw one at Real Foods a few weeks ago that was around £7 for the same size).  But compare that to £2.20 for 700ml of soy-based Swedish Glace.  I loves me some soy, so I'll stick to deliciously creamery Swedish Glace.

A new-to-me thing I got is their garlic sauce.  It's in that wee section of house-brand specialty spices and sauces, which actually seems to have quite a few vegan items.  Garlic is one of my favourite things, so obviously I had to get this.  I'd been eyeing it for a while, but yesterday's weird dinner, and the leftovers produced, pushed me to buy it.  I tried it on my casserole, and it was alright.  By itself, it's a little sweet, but it works on things.

Next up - Amy's breakfast sandwich!  I searched what felt like every health food shop in NYC looking for these things, but couldn't find them, so I was pretty excited when someone else posted they'd found them.  I had to go out to the big Tesco to find it (as well as the next thing), but as soon as I got home, I popped it right in the microwave.  Well, I hate to say it, but it wasn't great.  The microwaving made the bread really weird and tough in parts.  For £2.49 and having to spend an hour on the bus, I wouldn't make the trip just for these.

Finally - A few years ago, I went to Brighton VegFest and met up with some European PPKers, one of whom brought me some Speculoos pudding made by Alpro in ... Belgium, I think.  Earlier this year, during Tesco's Healthy Living Fair (or whatever it was called), they sold some gingerbread man-flavoured Alpro desserts.  They're hard to find, but they're still around.  If you look at the package, it actually lists Speculoos biscuits as an ingredient, so these are pretty much the same thing.  The TL;DR of this is - Speculoos pudding at Tesco.  Do I even need to tell you that these are good?  These are good.  If you like any of the other Alpro puddings (well, I think they're just called desserts), and you like Speculoos, then you'll like these.

Despite the pretty crap free from stuff (most of it has milk or eggs in it) and the fact that they label next to nothing, I'm pretty impressed by the expanding selection of vegan items.  I hope they keep going this way (and maybe improve their own-brand stuff by taking out the milk and eggs).

Friday 26 September 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 - Toona casserole

Sorry about the lack of pictures again. I'm blogging on my iPad (which is awful, FYI) and just don't feel like dealing with it.

Well, this has been my most failtastic MoFo ever! I missed most of this week, and really (mostly) just purely because of laziness. OK, in fairness, we were out late Monday and yesterday. I just had a few days where I just did not want to make anything worth blogging about. But what I made tonight requires discussion.

A few months ago, a vegan fake tuna called VeganToona came out. I bought a can when I was in NYC, but it's been sitting in the cupboard since then. I decided to make pumpkin mac n cheese for dinner tonight, and then I remembered the Toona. So I made Toona casserole!

I used the pumpkin cheese sauce recipe from Oh, She Glows and boiled some star-shaped pasta. I mixed these together in a square glass casserole dish with about a cup of petit pois, 1/2 cup of shredded Tesco smoke-style cheese, the can of Toona, and a few tablespoons of panko. I topped it with more cheese and panko, then baked for about 20 minutes.

The dish itself was actually pretty good, but lemme tell you about that Toona. First of all, I don't know where they get off thinking it's a tuna sub because it is nothing like tuna. It's dark brown and isn't remotely fishy in smell, taste or texture. And while it's flaky, it's less like fish-flaky and more like skin disease flaky. So gross.

If you want something reminiscent of tuna, just mash some chickpeas with dulse or something. You won't get what you're looking for with the Toona.

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).