Thursday, 30 May 2013

Chestnut Mushroom and Smoked Tofu Strogonoff

One day the sun is shining and every one is out in their shorts with naked legs, then the next day its raining buckets and every one is sniffling. 

So for evenings when its raining buckets of water from the skies, have yourself a warming bowl of mushroom strogonoff.  This is one of my quick evening supper dishes.  Its featured on my blog in my early days of blogging (see this link).
I don't often cook with smoked tofu, but I wanted to try it, the smokiness of the tofu was quite subtle. D wasn't that keen on it, I didn't mind it too much.
Chestnut Mushroom and Smoked Tofu Strogonoff
Serves 4
250g firm smoked tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes and set aside
3 tablespoons of sunflower or vegetable oil
1 medium white onion, sliced thinly
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms, left whole if small or sliced if you prefer
120ml double cream
200ml vegetable stock made with 1/2 teaspoon of bouillon powder
sprig of tarragon or 1 tablespoon of dried
1 tablespoon Tamari or soy sauce

Handful of baby spinach leaves
salt and pepper to taste
In a pan, heat one tablespoon of oil. Add onion and garlic and fry over medium heat until soft and golden. Add mushrooms and continue to saute for about 5 minutes until cooked through.
Add vegetable stock , the tarragon sprig and Tamari or soy sauce to the mushrooms, allow it to gently boil. Then turn the heat down. Add the cream and let it simmer for a few minutes until well combined with the vegetable stock.
Finally, add the smoked tofu, spinach leaves, salt and pepper to taste. Gently heat through or until the spinach leaves wilt.
Serve with plain basmati rice.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

We Should Cocoa - The Mango and Chocolate Round Up

As some of you may already know, I was hosting this months We Should Cocoa Challenge.  Mango was the special ingredient that I chose.  This choice was absolutely no surprise to those of you who have been reading my blog on and off for a while, but for some of you it proved a bit of a challenge, but a challenge you all raised because I received 23 mango and chocolate delightss.
Not only have I been introduced to some new blogs and re-acquainted with some blogger friends, I have also truly enjoyed the approach,  the creativity and originality of my fellow bloggers to the mango and chocolate challenge.    I have bookmarked many of your recipes and they will soon be featuring in my home kitchen.  My mother loves mango, so anything I make with mango will be going to her too.  Before I share the entries, I would like to take this opportunity to Thank you lovely fellow bloggers for being part of my much neglected blog and for your wonderful, awesome and tasteful creations.  I would also like Thank both Choclette and Chele for giving me an opportunity to host this months edition of We Should Cocoa.  I have enjoyed it, really.  

Here are the 23 mango and chocolate submissions (in no particular order). 
Lucy The KitchenMaid shared her light and easy to eatTropical Blondies.  I don't know about anyone else, but I know I could eat more than one of these edible beauties.
Rachel Cotterill  shared a perfect and natural pairing of mango and coconut  with her Mango and Coconut Truffle Bites.
Craig from The Usual Saucepans shared this luscious looking Mango and Chocolate Ice Cream.  Perfect to enjoy when the sun decides to come out and tease us.
Baking in Franglais made these awesome looking Mango Blondies piled high, I know many little hands that would reach out for them.
Susan from The Spice Garden shared a sumptuous Mango Chocolate Mousse. I'm licking my lips already. 
I am seriously digging Cake of the Week's moreish Chocolate Dipped Mango Cookies.   
Ros from More Than Occasional Bake shared a sugar-free Banana, Mango, White Chocolate and Spelt Bread.  It was baked in a super cool banana bread baking tin shaped with tropical trees and banana shapes.   
Mainly Baking shared these chewy and subtly flavoured Tropical Chocolate Cookies.
From Elizabeth's Kitchen we have this colourful , calorific and tasty Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes also shared a colourful, luxurious and heavenly Coconut and Mango Yogurt with Chocolate Dipped Banana.  A fruit rainbow in a bowl.  Doesn't it say sunshine?!
Nicole Bremner share d a gorgeous, golden and glossy Chocolate Mango Mousse Cake. I really want to try this and can only imagine the texture. Yum.
Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen shared a seasonal Rhubarb, Mango and White Chocolate Almond Cake.  Comfort food truly.
Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog and one of the brains behind We Should Cocoa created a Mango, Cardamon, Coconut Chocolate Cream Cake.
Psychedelic Mango Chocolate Cake was my submission.
The After School Cake Tin shared these healthy and child (and adult) friendly Mango and Chocolate Flapjacks. 
Hannah from Corner Cottage Bakery shared these rather appealing Mango Rice Crispy Cakes.  I will be making these for my nephews and nieces very, very soon.
Law Students Cookbook created these delightful Spiced Mango Chocolate Chip Muffins.
Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes shared her tart and zingy Green Mango and White Chocolate Blondies.   
We all love chocolate brownies, but Makey Cakey's  Mango and Orange Chocolate Brownies are a little more special filled with sunshine.  Go on I know you want a piece.  I certainly do.
Rebecca from BakeNQuilt made these sweet  Mango Buttercreams encased in a heart shaped chocolate.  Would you share it with a loved one or keep them all to yourself?!
Cookbooks Galore shared Mango Eclairs with White Chocolate Icing. I think they are dreamy.
Tales of Pigling Bland shared her wonderful Chocolate Dipped Mango Macarons filled with mango curd.  I love mango curd - a blogger friend of mine sent me some a couple of years ago and I loved it, so know I will love these. 
And finally, Caroline Makes made this rather naughty, but nice Mango and White Chocolate Cheesecake.  Yum, what more can I say?!  Enjoy.

Next month (June)We Should Cocoa is hosted by Victoria from A Kick at the Pantry Door.  Please go by and check out what her chosen ingredient is for Junes edition. 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Psychedelic Vegan Mango Chocolate Cake

This is my entry for this month We Should Cocoa Challenge - The Mango Challenge.   It's a vegan Psychedelic Chocolate and Mango Cake.  The mango puree remains liquid upon baking, which makes it perfect again the soft cakey texture of the chocolate cake, as well as adding another sweet dimension. 
For those of you still wishing to participate in the challenge, there is still some time.  Just follow this link for further details.
Psychedelic Mango Chocolate Cake
Makes 6 - 8 x 3 inch round cakes
30g cocoa powder
180g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
165g brown sugar
200ml strong brewed coffee, cooled
100ml vegetable oil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

4 - 6 tablespoons of mango puree from a can 

Heat the oven to Gas Mark 5.  Line 8 round cake tins with baking parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the sugar. In a small bowl, combine the coffee with the oil and whisk. Then beat the liquid into the dry ingredients. Then quickly stir in the vinegar.
Pour the batter into the prepared tins, then quickly drizzle over a tablespoon of mango puree over each to create a swirl effect.  Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a toothpick in the centre of the cake comes out clean. These delicate cakes are better served the following day. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

Mango Cheesecake Royale

I am off to work in the next hour, so while I have a few minutes to myself.  I thought I would quickly post an entry to promote my hosting of We Should Cocoa Challenge - The Mango Challenge.  This is not my WSCC entry by the way, I will be making my mango - chocolate entry this afternoon, so hope to post it later in the week before the deadline of the 25th.  So there is still time to participate.
Anyway, unlike my other Cheesecake recipes that take a little more effort, I see this one as a cheats one as its relatively easy to put together. I gently ladled and poured the ingredients into a wine glass and allowed it to set in the chiller. If you don't want to go all posh and elegant with wine glasses, you can also do them in dainty teacups or traditionally in little bowls.
I called these Mango Cheesecake Royale, but a fellow blogger CT aka Choclette's partner commented that is should perhaps be 'MangoCheeks cake' referring to my previous pseudonym. Perhaps I should have, it made me smile. 

I haven't had much time to sit down and catch up on my blog reads, but I have become aware that Choclette has recently written a generous blog post on my vegetarian venture. Please follow this link to read more. Choclette, I promise to come by later in the week. Lots of changes happening here at the moment. 
Recipe to appear shortly but it includes: crushed digestive biscuits - cream cheese, caster sugar, mango puree and sun dried mango pieces.

I know I have a few posts where I have not written up the recipes.  I plan to catch up with these in the next few weeks or so, when I will have a little more time on my hands. 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Seasonal May Recipes from A2K

Today you will have to forgive me for what is a bit of a cheats entry, but I want to showcase some seasonal dishes that I have made in the past that I think deserve to have the limelight put on them once again, especially for those of you who may be new to my blog and may have missed out on them originally.  

As well as the many Wild Garlic recipes, such as these Wild Garlic Oatcakes.  Here are some others that I made in the month of May years gone.   

If you can't find wild garlic in your area, you will undoubtedly find wild stinging nettle.  Nettle is growing everywhere at the moment, one of my favourite rice dishes was this  Stinging Nettle Risotto
For those of you blessed to have your own home grown asparagus, well my husband will envy you very much.  I like many people will have to wait for it to appear on the grocery shelf and then hope to make this beautiful Asparagus Flecked Tart.
If your not that keen on cabbage, I encourage you to try this recipe.  It truly converted me.  It has become one of my favourite meals:  Stir Fried Cabbage with Chilli and Ginger
This simple Asparagus and Radish Pasta Salad will make you and your loved one swoon. 
Rhubarb and Ginger Muffins in some of my treasured and cherished teacups and saucers.
Rhubarb, Rose Petals and White Chocolate Flapjacks cut out in a heart shape.  A bit fiddly, but worth it for presentation.
Rhubarb and Rosemary Cookies - a culinary experiment that worked delightfully.  These days I make a cake with both ingredients, I will share that Rosemary and Rhubarb cake with you in the very near future - it also happens to be vegan, the cake that is - not these cookies.
Pink Rhubarb Sorbet - one of the very first Rhubarb recipes to feature on my blog.
And finally, many of you will have recently seen my mini vegan Parsnip, Raisin and Walnut cakes, but well before I started making them I had made a little known and wonderful tart called Rosemary, Lemon and Parsnip Tart.  Its a sweet tart.  I plan on remaking it and introducing it to some unsuspecting diners.  I hope they like it as much as the Parsnip, Raisin and Walnut cakes.  

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Vegan Welsh Faggots with Onion Gravy

Let me introduce you to a new vegetarian dish: Welsh Faggots (Ffagod).  For those of you who have never heard of Faggots, let me clearly state that it has nothing to do with the homophobic disparaging and offensive reference. Faggots are a specialist of Wales in the United Kingdom.  Faggots were traditionally made with the innards of pigs. The pate like mixture is then wrapped in the lacy casing of the animals caul and oven roasted slowly. Faggots are traditionally served with mushy peas and onion gravy. Faggots are still made in Wales and are still quite popular. In fact, I've seen them being sold in Cwmbran, a neighbouring town and Abergavenny - which tags itself as the Gateway to Wales, a place where tourists flock for sure on their way to the Brecon Beacons - so its sure a novelty for some to try, a bit like the Welsh Rarebit which really is just cheese on toast, but hey ho its a pound maker.  

I set myself the challenge a few months ago, around St Davids Day in fact to re-create a mock meat and vegetarian friendly variation of the Welsh Faggots.    
Well I did it, however this main meal of a dish failed to feature on my St Davids Menu, simply  because I was being a little too ambitious and found myself a little stretched.  So the menu featured Welsh dishes such as Welsh Glamorgan EggsCaerphilly Cheese, Leek and Potato Pie.  For those who liked their spices, I made Welsh Chilli: Red, White and Green in a Bowl, Red Thai Dragon Curry and our popular  Red Dragon Burgers.   

These vegan mock Welsh Faggots of course do not taste of real Welsh faggots, and even if they did I would not know for sure as it has never passed my lips.  These vegan Welsh faggots were made so Welsh vegetarian people like me could partake and celebrate St Davids Day, in the same vain as my vegetarian Scots friends celebrate St Andrews and Burns Night with haggis.  I know its not the prettiest looking plates of food I've showcase in while, but you should know by now that homely traditional food is not pretty food, but hearty rib sticking food.

Welsh faggots are traditionally served with mashed potatoes and mushy peas, I served my vegan  Welsh faggots with sauteed winter green and another popular Welsh dish Onion Cake (Teisen winwns).  Onion Cake was one of the first dishes I ever got to make at school.  When I took it home to be sliced and enjoyed by my family, my mother looked at me in horrified.  The sliced potatoes were raw.  I blame my Home Economics teacher for being poor and unhelpful.  I was only a kid.  This time, my onion cake just melted and the onion gravy was delightful.  Its a perfect dish to enjoy on a rainy wet blustery evening.

Please see up-dated version of my Welsh Bara Lawr Laverbread Seitan Faggots (Ffagod) made with vital wheat gluten in 2017

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Vegan Tiger Cake

In the past I've posted a cake that I've rather pretentiously called Leopard Cake (Chocolate Chip Banana Bread) because of the rosettes on gold.  This time I am calling this one Tiger Cake - so called because of the tiger pattern and colouring. Its actually a Vanilla Chocolate Banana Marble cake and its suitable for vegan too.

I've been making this Vegan Tiger Cake on and off for the past six months.  It was even recently requested to feature on the menu of an 88th Birthday bash.  
This Tiger Cake came about when I saw someone make a Zebra Cake. Well I didn't think I could get a cake perfect with white and black stripes, but I knew I could for colours that would aptly describe a Tiger Cake.  Well here it is, unadorned.  Its a moist, flavourful and textual cake.      
Vanilla Chocolate Banana Marble Cake aka Tiger Cake
Serves 12
Recipe to follow

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Vegan Garlic Mushroom Parsley Pies

I've created lots of individual hand-made pies over the past year with unusual pie fillings such as these  Paprika Mushroom and Potato Pies , Soy Mince 'Keema' Pies,  so much so that some people jokingly call me 'Veggie Pie' or 'Vegan Pie Girl' in my little corner of Wales.   There are also a couple of vegetarian ones such as my Caerphilly Cheese, Leek and Potato Pies aka the Welsh Pie; and Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Feta Pie.

I've mentioned the Garlic and Mushroom Pies in a past blog post, but noted recently that I had not yet shared a recipe or blogged about it in much detail.  My Garlic Mushroom Pies were the first pies to sell out at the cafeteria.  It was also the first pies to sell out at the couple of food and crafts Fayre's I've attended.  I've learned recently because of my absence at a vegan food fayre this month, one of the other vegan stalls has decided to recreate a version of my vegan Garlic Mushroom Pies - I guess I should see it only as a compliment; not just that a fairly newish vegetarian cafe in South Wales has also started making tarts with garlic mushroom filling - I guess I'm a trend setter.

I think its quite funny how I came to create these Garlic Mushroom Pies and its something I'd like to share with those of you still reading my blog (Thank you). I would have people coming into the cafeteria, sitting down and without even looking at the daily chalked boards: ordering Jacket potato topped with buttery garlic mushrooms. My staff would look at them and think when was it the last time you were here?! Certainly not a loyal customer as the previous owners sold the cafeteria to my landlords three - four years ago. It hasn't been on the menu for yonkie years.
don't mean to sound snobbish, but I am a serious vegetarian cook and jacket potato for me is homely food that anyone can make.  Its also a easy peasy back up for those mainstream eateries that don't have many suitable options for vegetarians and vegans.  Well you won't find jacket potatoes topped with salads on the menu here. I also don't understand some people, they don't come by an independent family run eatery for months, then come back a few years later expecting the same grub on the menu.  This is not a high street food chain.  

Anyway, enough of the rant.  It got me thinking, instead of turning away these potential customers (albiet they may not be back again in another three - four years) what could I do to encourage them to stay and try something new and different.  Well I thought I'd merge garlic mushroom and potatoes in a pastry casing.  The response from my regular loyal customers of all diets has been fantastic.  It also shows how much people have becomes adventurous, I remember a time when people used to turn their noses up at garlic, accuse people of having garlic breath and blurt out their stereotypes of the French. The opportunity to travel abroad has definitely opened up some peoples eyes and palettes to different worldwide cuisines and versatility of ingredients such as the garlic that is the star of this pie.
Whenever these pies are featured, they do really sell out and unlike the original Jacket Potato with garlic Mushroom which were drenched in butter, l these are suitable for vegans and those who avoid dairy. They are so popular and are on the menu every two weeks. Usually at the start of the week when I have loads of mushrooms left over from Saturday Vegetarian Breakfast.  

If too much garlic worries you. You can tame it a little by adding in a couple of cooked and diced potatoes to the mix, this would also sup up some of the juices and stop the pie from getting a soggy bottom. The trick really is to make the pastry bottom a little thicker than the lid.

For those of you interested, this week I also made Wild Garlic Mushroom Pies.  I will share that recipe later this month.  They were just as popular as these.   I am sharing these Garlic Mushroom pies with Javelin Warrior's for his Made with Love Mondays as they fit in nicely with this weeks optional theme of fresh mushrooms.
Garlic Mushroom Parsley Pies
Makes 6 - 8pies
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bulb of garlic, peeled and crushed

400g - 600g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned, halved or quartered if large
1 teaspoon dried parsley or I tablespoon freshly minced parsley
Optional: 200g peeled, cubed and cooked potatoes 
Salt and pepper to taste

In a wide pan, heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the garlic and sauté for 1 minute before adding in the mushrooms. Keep the heat high and cook the mushrooms, stirring frequently until softened.
Stir in the parsley optional potatoes and seasoning to taste.  Stir to combine well, then remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Now make the pastryYou have three choices for the pastry.
For ease, you can use shop bought puff pastry or shortcrust pastry – in which case pour the filling into a casserole and top with the pastry and cook according to packet instructions.
Or you can make your own shortcrust pastry. For recipe follow here.
Or You can make you own hot water crust pastry. Follow here for the recipe. For individual pies, see here.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5.

Fill the pastry and top with lid.
Bake for 30 - 40 minutes depending on the size of your shortcrust or hot water crust pastry pie(s). Allow to cool, before serving.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Puro Fairtrade Coffee Review and Vegan Gingerbread

I've been meaning to write this coffee review for a good few good months now, but my hours at work have been non-stop that I have barely found time to myself, let alone to blog and write a review.  Anyway, today I find myself with a little time to write a little about Puro Fairtrade coffee to review.  I say a little as I have noted since I received my coffee package from Puro a number of fellow foodie bloggers have also been asked to review the very same product, so I don't want to repeat in parrot fashion a lot here in relation to Puro Fairtrade Coffees background.  Instead I encourage you to go on over to Chocolate Log Blog review and The Ordinary Cooks review and Fuss Free Flavours review . 

I will however share my own personal taste of the three blends of coffee that were sent to me to review.  But before I do I want to say that when the package arrived, I was quite chuffed.  It was one of the most prettiest packages I had ever received and it wasn't even a Christmas or Birthday present.  The heavy hessian sack contained three 250g packets of coffee with hand-written labels, but also a cream coloured cafetiere, a Pura cup and saucer, a Pura expresso cup and saucer and some sachets of l hot chocolate sachets and brown sugar too.  I like brown sugar with my coffee.  Thank you so much for this Puro.

Okay onto the coffee review.  I do like my caffeine kick in the morning, but I have to admit to those of you who are real coffee connoisseurs that my preference is for mellower blends. I found that the Puro Fuerte described as fragrant dark roast with a touch of spice just too strong for my palette, I could barely drink it.  It was just too bitter for me (but I am not one to waste, I did use the coffee for making cakes - vegan Gingerbread being one of them).  My favourite Puro blend was the Puro Organic with its soft notes of sweet chocolate with tangy citrus, followed by the Puro Noble with its lively medium roast with hints of hazelnuts.

Puro Fairtrade Coffee as the name suggests is a fairtrade brand, certified by the Fairtrade Foundation. If you wish to learn more about Puro and some of its initiatives worldwide, please watch this video, or check out either their website or their facebook page.

Puro coffees are available in the UK at National Trust cafes, Allegra McEvedys marvellous restaurant Leon, among many others. I've learned that the range will also be available to buy online direct from the Puro At Home website soon.
Vegan Gignerbread Cake - Click on link for recipe
I also have a picture of me drinking the coffee from a Puro branded cup to share with you, but as the photograph was taken a while ago - February 2013 in fact, I just cannot see it in my picture files.  I will post it here as son as I can locate it.

Disclosure: I was sent these coffee blends in return for this blog post. The opinions expressed here are my own and I received no financial incentive.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

We Should Cocoa - The Mango Challenge

Although I am not a huge lover of chocolate, I have to admit We Should Cocoa is one of my favourite challenges. In the past few years I've participated in We Should Cocoa by submitting sweet recipes such as Chocolate and Lime Halva; White Chocolate Banoffee Roulade; and Courgette and Apricot Muffins.  For those of you unfamiliar with We Should Cocoa - a chocolate challenge.  This is a monthly cooking event created by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog and Chele of Chocolate Teapot a few good years ago.  The idea is to create something each month with chocolate.  It can be a sweet dish or a savoury one.  You can use any kind of chocolate or cocoa substance, but it must include the specially selected ingredient chosen by the host.  Well guess what?! Today I am ever so excited to announce that this month I will be hosting We Should Cocoa and its your turn to participate.    
The ingredient that I have chosen will be absolutely no surprise to those of you who have been reading my blog - its MANGO.   For those of you who don't know the background, well 'Mangocheeks' used to be my blogger pseudonym, before I shared my real name Shaheen a couple of years ago.

Anyway, back to the  We Should Cocoa Challenge.  You can use fresh mango, dried mango, tinned mango,  pureed mango  and so on.  Make absolutely anything you like as long as it incorporates both chocolate and mango.

If you haven't done so already, you can also check out last months We Should Cocoa challenge set by Choclette using honey. Follow this link for the Honey and Chocolate Round Up and some inspiration.   

To participate:
Simply link your recipe by the 25th of May to the linky below.
Mention We Should Cocoa in your post
Please link to the current host Shaheen of Allotment2KitchenChocolate Log Blog  and Chocolate Teapot.
Please use the 'We Should Cocoa' logo in your post.
If you use Twitter, please tweet your post to @A2KShaheen and @Choclette8 with
#tag #weshouldcocoa and we will endeavour to  re-tweet it.
Please follow the current theme.  This month it is chocolate and mango when creating your recipe.  All entries for this edition must be suitable for vegetarians.  
Only one entry per blog.
The round up of entries will be posted here on or before the last day of the month.
We Should Cocoa - The Chocolate and Mango Challenge