Savoury pastry hearts

Best eaten fresh from the oven!

We made these yummy crumbly flaky pastry hearts to celebrate John’s birthday and valentines day falling in the same week. They are quick, easy and yummy, and make a great snack, starter or accompaniment in place of bread.

This was so simple. I just took 1 batch of my home made vegan pastry and rolled it out. I then folded it over a couple of times (this gave them a lovely flaky layered texture, which led them to rise slightly), and rolled out to a thickness of about 1 cm. It was then ready to cut into heart shapes using a plastic cutter, and brush with olive oil. I included some garlic powder with the olive oil for extra tastiness. They took about 15 minutes in the oven at 180°C, but check them after 10 and take them out when they look golden and lovely.

Happy valentines day!  ♥

Quickie sourdough crumpets

These ones had really large bubbles!

If you have some sourdough starter, then you can make these quickie sourdough crumpets whenever you fancy, for breakfast, for afternoon tea, or for supper.

Eat them hot from the pan with your favourite spreads. We love them with marmite!

I’ve seen recipes that use rings to give them a smart shape, but we just make the batter thick and splodge it in the pan, and they come out tasty and bubbly.

Makes 8 cumpets. Continue reading

Mocha cupcakes with amaretto buttercream frosting (vegan)

Tonight I had a craving for something naughty and sweet, but there was no chocolate in the cupboards, the biscuits were all gone, and it was raining outside. Surely I had the building blocks for sweet tasty vegan comfort food?

Here’s my creation: mocha cupcakes with amaretto buttercream frosting! They were so light and fluffy and moist and tasty. Even John had two (he’s not normally as into dessert as I am)!

Luckily I have one left for tomorrow, because this recipe makes 5 cupcakes. You can always scale it up if you want more. Or make a second batch in a different flavour and let me know what your favourite is! Continue reading

Sourdough starter made simple – 3 Key principles, and establishing your own starter!

The starter will bubble away as the yeast release Carbon Dioxide.

Since meeting John I have got really into sourdough. He introduced me to the concept, and I dipped into my housemate’s copy of Andrew Whitley’s ‘Bread Matters’ to establish my own starter and learn a basic sourdough loaf recipe. The idea is to allow wild yeast to colonise some flour/water mix, which, once well-established, can be used as a raising agent in cooking. It also has the benefit of adding a distinctive (and delicious) sour flavour to your food.

It’s been more successful (and tasty) than I could have imagined! The sourness (caused lactic bacteria that co-exist with the yeast in your starter), gives things a really unique flavour, that I just can’t get enough of!

Sourdough is really versatile, and now, in just a couple of years, I find I’m dependent on it, even taking it on holiday with me recently so that I didn’t have to miss out on my favourite dishes! Loads of my best recipes use it, for example our yummy vegan pizza, cheeky spiced garlic bread, and ethiopian sour injera pancakes.

As you can expect to keep seeing posts from me that use it, I thought I’d better tell you how to make your own! It’s really much simpler than I was expecting, and after daily attention for a few days at the beginning to get it started, it has been really low maintenance – I keep it in the fridge and only bother to feed it when I’ve used some. I’m really slap-dash with my techniques and quantities, but the yeast seem to be quite happy with this semi-neglectful arrangement and continue to thrive (I suspect it may even make them tougher).

If you’ve been put off by overly-complicated sounding processes in the past please read my method and consider trying again. Wild yeast are fairly simple little microbes and with a few very basic principles you can easily start your own colony! Don’t be intimidated, give it a go.

Three main principles of yeast-keeping are explained here, to enable you to keep your starter going indefinitely with minimal effort, as well as a simple technique to get your starter established.

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Ten secrets for golden crunchy roast potatoes

Today John’s brother Rob and his girlfriend Steph came to visit. We made roast vegetable quiche with onion gravy and roast potatoes. The roast potatoes were a particular hit with our non-vegan guests, so I thought you might be interested to know our technique for mouth-watering golden crunchy roasties that hit the spot every time!

Golden Crunchy Roast Potatoes – perfect every time!

So, our ten secrets for a yummy golden crunch on your roast taters are: Continue reading

Onion and Red Wine Gravy

Being from Manchester, I (Lorraine) am obsessed, as all northerners are, with gravy! I like a little island of food in an ocean of gravy. I like it on chips, I like it on mash, and I like it with roast potatoes, the more the better – I just can’t have too much gravy.

Tomorrow is Sunday and we’ll be making quiche with roast potatoes and gravy, yum!

Cornflour is used in this recipe as it’s easy and gives a glossy and translucent gravy. As I like my gravy really thick we err on the generous side with the cornflour. For a thinner gravy just use less cornflour as this is what thickens it. Wheat flour will work too but gives a more opaque gravy with a richer flavour (which I love), and you will need to use about 50% more of it to get a the same thickness. Obviously avoid this if you want to make your meal wheat free or gluten free.

Steamy rich onion gravy

So here goes, this is our method for sure-fire rich and tasty gravy. Mmmmm.

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Vegan Cheezy Sauce!

My vegan cheezy sauce is an ongoing work of refinement, and is constantly being tweaked. It has evolved from my mum’s cheese sauce, which she served with cauliflower and home made chips.

Previous iterations of this recipe have included at one time or another one or more of: ground cashew nuts, tahini (1-2 Tbsp), lemon juice (1/2 a lemon), garlic powder (1/4 tsp), and a pinch of coriander powder.

I am now fairly settled on a version that I’m really happy with as it’s creamy and well-rounded. The latest addition is the white wine, which adds an amazing tang and complexity that I haven’t found in a vegan cheese until now!

Use this sauce wherever you want a cheezey white sauce, e.g. for cauliflower cheeze. Dilute it with extra soya milk to make vegan lasagne, or make a thicker version (less soya milk and more cornflour) for my vegan quiche recipe.

Makes enough for 4 servings, or as a component in one of my many recipes that use it!

Adjust the thickness by changing the amount of flour/cornstarch.

Continue reading