Sunday, 30 June 2013

Red Velvet Strawberry Cake with Strawberry 'Cream Cheese' Frosting

I created this seasonal strawberry cake around this time last year, but was unable to feature it on my blog due to work load and other life distractions.  Plus I didn't get round to taking a photograph of it as it disappeared within hours of making it. 
Well last week I was given a chance to cook some of my vegetarian and vegan delights at a local arts venue. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and thought I'd feature this Red Velvet Strawberry Cake alongside some of my most popular and seasonal dishes, such as the Red Dragon Burgers, Rhubarb and Puy Lentil Curry and vegan BLT.    
This red velvet strawberry cake, well it was truly popular, even the kids from a local primary school who had come in to view some artwork by a young talented new artist were going 'wow'.  So it won't be any surprise to some of you that more than half of the cake was gone by the day.  Everyone who had a slice, could not only believe it was vegan, but were surprised to note how moist it was.  I know I could have added more colouring to make it a deeper red, but I was being cautious. After all its a red velvet cake, not a 'oh my bloody bleeding heart cake'. If you so wish, you could decorate it with more fresh strawberries, but personally I did not want to over-do it.
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Vegan Red Velvet Strawberry Cake with Strawberry 'Cream Cheese' Frosting
You will need a 10 inch round spring form cake tin for this cake
Serves 12
425g plain flour
11/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
180g golden caster sugar

400ml soy milk
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
200ml vegetable oil
100g - 120g fresh strawberries, sliced plus extra for topping
1 Teaspoon red food colouring
Sieve the dry ingredients first over a large bowl, then stir in the sugar.  In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients, then carefully pour into the dry ingredients, along with the sliced strawberries and red food colouring and combine well.  Then pour into baking tin.  Bake at gas mark 4/180oC for 45 - 50 minutes of until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool and cover with cream cheese frosting the following day.
For the vegan 'cream cheese' frosting
Icing sugar
Vegan margarine

Vegan Cream Cheese
2 - 3 fresh juicy strawberries crushed or pureed
Put the icing sugar, margarine and 1 - 2 tablespoons of crushed fresh strawberries into a blender and blitz. Allow to chill, then carefully with a spatula spread over the top of the cake and leave to set. Then top with additional freshly sliced strawberries.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Vegan Moroccan Tagine Pies

My home-made vegetarian and vegan pies with their various  fillings have been very popular with friends, family and readers alike, but there are some things I would not put in a pasty base.

It actually makes me cringe  when I see what some people put into their vegetable pies. I think yes, its great that you can make a good pastry base, but please don't assault our taste buds with any old vegetarian filling.  For a start, I would not put Mushroom Bouginionne or Thai Red or Green Curry in a pastry base.  Its just so wrong, on many levels. 

Indian spiced curried pies such as Aloo and Gobi (Potato and Cauliflower) work well, of course they do hence the popularity of samosas in South Asian culture:  and so do those packed with cheese and onion (pasties) and mushrooms such as my Portobello Mushroom, Puy Lentils and Ale Pie or Butternut Squash, Feta and Chickpea Pie in Western culture, but some just simply do not work.  How do I know this?! because I'm an experimental cook and I've tried pretty much every combination.  Once I know it doesn't quite work, then I won't do it again.   
Anyway, with this in mind I went about taste-testing another pie filling -Moroccan Tagine.  Perhaps I am a bit of a food snob, but I have to be honest and admit, I don't think I would do it again in a hot water crust pastry. It just did not taste right. Some things are best left alone.   

What are your thoughts on this?
Not one to waste, I served this particular Moroccan Tagine pie with sauteed greens, spiced couscous and harissa oil.  But I would strongly recommend making the recipe as pictured below au naturale - the way it should be.  Follow here.
The recipe for the Moroccan Tagine pie filling can be found here.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Rhubarb and Rosehip Jam Cake

This cake looks really amateur-ish next to my other recent bakey delights such as the Raspberry and Chocoalte Cake and  Strawberry Cake.  Why amateurish?  If you look closer you can see at the top what I can only call 'pot-holes' caused by the excess juices from  the fresh rhubarb.  I could have easily covered it over with some cream cheese frosting, but I decided to scatter over some purple coloured sugar, icing sugar and some sugared almonds to distract attention from the visible flaws. It sort of, well kind of did the job.
I had a jar of Rosehip Jam that I made a long long while ago, so I thought instead of sandwiching the two sponge cakes together with rhubarb and ginger jam which was my original plan, I would do so instead with the Rosehip Jelly. In spite of how it looked, it was truly a lovely combination and tasted quite good. 
The taste reminded me a little of bakewell tart but in sponge form.  Serve a slice of this cake with a massive dollop of whipped cream.
An i I am sharing this Rhubarb and Rosehip Jam Cake with Kate of What Kate Baked who has chosen layer cakes for this month's Tea Time Treats . Tea Time Treats is co-hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.
Rhubarb and Rosheip Jam Cake

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Red Pepper, Coriander and Almond Pesto Pasta

After a rather long and frustrating week, I am glad to have a few hours to myself this evening.  I'll share my frustrations with you later on when things have been ironed out so to speak, but right now I'd like to share this rather simple pasta and pesto dish that I made today. 

Its made with peppers straight from jar.  I don't have an aversion to fire roasting my own peppers over a roaring flame and then peeling the blackened charred skin, but today I was in a lazy mood and wanted something a little quick to eat other than a cheesy toastie for my hungry belly. 
I have added a smidgen of chilli flakes to it, okay half a teaspoon but you can choose to omit this if you so wish.  This pesto is also vegan as the ground almonds gave it that 'cheesy taste and texture'.  I have to be honest and say this wasn't one of my favourite pasta dishes, but it filled a very big hole in my belly and you know when your hungry, most food will satisfy you.
am sending this bowl of Red Pepper, Coriander and Almond Pesto Pasta to Karen of Lavender and Lovage for Pasta Please#6, the event that Jacqueline from Tinned Tomatoes coordinates. This month the theme is nuts.

Vegan Red Pepper and Almond Pesto Pasta
Serves 4
Measure out enough pasta of your choice enough for 4 people (I have used farfalle)
50g whole almonds, blanched and peeled
120ml extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
250g red peppers from a  jar, drained and rinsed
Small handful of coriander (or parsley)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta.  While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wide pan over low heat and gently cook the garlic and chilli until soft but not so much that it browns.  Places the nuts in a food processor and whizz until chopped.  Add half the peppers, the coriander (or parsley)and the remaining olive oil and blitz until well incorporated.  Roughly chop the other other half of the red peppers and add it to the garlicky chilli oil, then tip in the blitzed nuts and pepper pesto until it begins to warm through.
Stir in the cooked and drained pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste and allow it to heat through for a couple of minutes before serving

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Vegan Chocolate Mint Cake

I had originally made these Shamrock decorated vegan Chocolate Mint cakes for St Patricks Day early this year, but they seemed to have been overlooked by many of my readers as I had just got back into blogging, so I thought I would take the opportunity to re-post it again and submit it to Victoria from A Kick at the Pantry Door.   Victoria is hosting this months  We Should Cocoa - a monthly chocolate challenge created  by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog and Chele of Chocolate Teapot. Victoria has  chosen mint as her special ingredient.

I have to admit I was going to make the this very same cake but instead of adding mint syrup to it, I thought I would press an after eight thin mint chocolate into the batter.  I changed my mind due to time constraints, but that doesn't mean I won't try it next time.  I surely will and recommend you do so too. 

Anyway, my husband dubbed these cakes as  Father Ted's chocolate cake.  For those of you unfamiliar with this reference, here's a link to the hugely successful Irish comedy show Father Ted shown by Channel 4.  I had some green ready to roll icing , so  I used some of this to decorate the cake with shamrock, but of course that is optional.   
Chocolate Mint Cake (or Chocolate After Eight Mint Cake)
Makes 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
3 tablespoons of mint syrup (8 x After Eight Thin Mints)
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

Optional: Ready to roll green icing
Optional: Icing sugar for dusting

Heat the oven to Gas Mark 5. Oil an 8 inch round baking tin or 8 round/oval cake tins lined with 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, mint syrup *(see note below if not using mint syrup) and whisk. Then beat the liquid into the dry ingredients. Then quickly stir in the vinegar.
Pour the batter into the prepared tins and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a toothpick in the centre of the cake comes out clean. These are better served the following day.

*If not using mint syrup and using After Eight Mint Thins, then press these into the batter, so well covered just before baking. 
The following day, roll out green icing and use a shamrock cookie cutter for decoration and top cakes. Sprinkle with additional white icing sugar.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Sunny Caribbean Vegetable Patty Pies

Along with the vegan Garlic Mushroom and Parsley Pies these Sunny Caribbean Vegetable Patty Pies were second to sold out when I held my first food and crafts fayre a few months ago.  I have not seen these on market stalls in Wales yet, but I know it won't be long to appear.  So watch this space.
I really like the sunshine yellow glow of the pastry, its calling out for summer and the filling is not that bad either.
These particular Sunny Caribbean Vegetable Patty Pies are made with vegetables, but I have also made them with soy mince otherwise known as textured vegetable protein so that it mimics minced meat. 

I am sharing one of these vegan Sunny Caribbean Vegetable Patty Pies with My Legume Love Affair 60 as it contains kidney beans.  MLLA as it is known to its fans, is a popular, legume-centred event was created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, and is now run by Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen. This June it is being hosted by One Hot Stove. It is the 60th edition  - the diamond anniversary!
Vegan Caribbean Vegetable Patty Pies
Makes 6 - 8
2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil
1medium onion, peeled and finely sliced
200g carrots, peeled and diced
250g sweet potatoes or butternut squash, peeled and chopped into cubes
3 peppers, red, green and yellow, deseeded and diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
200g can sweetcorn, drained and rinsed
400g cooked kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder for pastry dough
Preheat the oven to 180ÂșC.
Heat oil and then add in sliced onions and saute until translucent.  Then add in the diced carrots and sweet potatoes or butternut squash if using.  Cook on moderate heat, stirring constantly until beginning to appear translucent, stir in the peppers and thyme leave and continue cooking until all the vegetables are tender.  Stir in the sweetcorn and kidney beans and salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste.  Cover and cook for a few minutes for the flavours to blend. Turn off heat and allow to cool. 

Now make the pastry
You 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 all these recipes please add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder to the pastry just before kneading.
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.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Vegan Raspberry and Chocolate Cake

Some of you may remember that my father had to give up his allotment plot a year and a half ago, but he had not given up on the wish to start up another one, well he finally has got himself another allotment plot that is accessible.  I am so pleased and now that I have a little more time on my hands too, I am planning to join him. 

I know the season for sowing and planting some seeds has passed by, but there are still some things we can sow and grow together: maybe some Christmas potatoes, some radishes, fenugreek, chick-peas and salads.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know they would be most welcome.  On his plot of land, he has an eating apple tree and a row of established raspberry canes that are beginning to fruit, which brings me to my cake today - Raspberry Chocolate Cake
I have a bit of a confession to make.  I've made this cake before and its been posted on my blog early this year.  Its actually the Scottish Raspberry and chocolate Bundt cake I made for Burns Night and Day menu. The only difference with this Raspberry Chocolate cake is that this one is made with fresh raspberries and the previous cake was made with frozen raspberries. Also as raspberries are beginning to appear on market shelves, I've topped this cake off furthermore with some fresh raspberries. 
I failed to post a recipe on the original cake, so this has given me the opportunity to make it again and this time share the recipe with you all.  
I am sharing this with One Ingredient with Laura of How to Cook Good Food and Nazima of Franglais Kitchen who are featuring raspberries this month and this is my first ever entry to  Alphabakes.  This months letter is 'R'.  This month it is being hosted by Ros from TheMoreThanOccasionalBaker and Caroline at Caroline Makes. 
Vegan Raspberry and Chocolate Cake
Oops the Recipe will appear soon.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

New Garden Friend

Some of you will know that I have been hankering for a pet - a dog and to be quite honest I know what kind of dog we would like too.  We came so close to adopting a dog when we were in Glasgow, but with our imminent move on the horizon at the time we did not pursue this any further. 

Anyway, for the past few days this four legged beasty has found us and is making herself at home in our garden.  I like cats,  I've grown up with cats - two family cats called Tabitha and Tiger but I had not made any plans to get one, as I said its a dog I would like - not a kitty.   
She has no collar, so we are not sure yet if she belongs to any of the neighbours or if she has been abandoned. She does not appear to be a stray as she has good house manners, but she has been hungry and we have began feeding her the past few days. For the time being we are monitoring her movements and presence. 
I have called her Moggy for now. She is making me smile, and being good company while I am at home alone and getting used to my new routine.  Thank you stars.

Monday, 10 June 2013

End of a culinary chapter

My culinary vegetarian adventure has come to a gentle and expected end. I never thought it would last forever, in fact I was quite surprised to see it start at all. 
I will briefly share how it all happened as it was not planned at all.  
Just over a year ago, I had gone in to volunteer at Newport's oldest vegetarian coffee shops, possibly Wales oldest vegetarian cafes (reputed to have been est. 1971).  About three years ago the cafeteria had changed hands and come under new ownership: a charity called Kaleidoscope.  However, when I turned up the charity had literally just closed this business. I was really disappointed and wrote a letter of interest to the CEO of my passion and interests in vegetarian cooking and what I could potentiallly offer. He seemed genuinely interested and set up a meeting and it snowballed from there, before I knew it I found myself re-opening, managing and cooking at Newport oldest and now newest vegetarian cafes: Hunky Dorys. I thank him and a number of other people for giving me the opportunity and allowing me practically develop my culinary cooking skills. It was a springboard, a perfect training ground where I learned so so much about running a business. I know I can cook, but to cook for people on a larger scale, on an order basis is now something I can do not only with pure passion but with competence. I've made lots of mistakes along the way and learned so, so much from my experience, I will share some of these with you in the near future, in different blog posts. 
I've also gained genuine respect and warmth from customers and many of them were not even vegetarian who have humbled me, by not only enjoying the diversity and creativity of the food I plated up, but supported me in this endeavour and understand the reasons for my closing the doors of Hunky Dorys for once and for all, one of the main reasons was the location of the venue and secondly, the city of Newport is just in decline - Hunky Dorys's is not the first and nor will it be the last.   
Many of them wish to see and eat more of my food in the near future. So this is not the end, there will be another culinary chapter in my life, as I do plan to dip my little feet back into the food scene, but right now a little time to myself to gather my thoughts and become familiar with the kitchen in my rented abode.  I would also Thank my husband whole-heartedly without whom this culinary chapter would not have began.

One of the best compliments, we have ever received 'since cooking at Hunky Dory's - Shaheen, the cook has made vegetarian and vegan food in Newport worth talking about, that now other mainstream cafes and eateries in the city centre and near the market are seriously targeting vegetarians and now even vegans, to the point that they have re-invented themseves as a place that caters to this once overlooked customer and cashing in.  Their veggie offerings are no longer simple dishes, doorstop sandwiches, Welsh rarebit, Veg Lasagne, Jacket Potato, veggie breakfast (without the substitute vegetarian sausage) and the plastic burger.  

A number of eateries are raising their standards (Thank goodness to Hunky Dory's for setting a standard in the first place (comment from customer) - now offering more interesting optionsvbarying from Italian, Indian to Mexican (enchilladas, quesadilla) and maker proper vegetable burgers, not the standard mushy bean burger.  Now that is having an impact and a sign of success and legacy of a good cafeteria.  One that challenges others to raise the standards.  We know vegetarian offerings in Newport can only get better.  Long may it continue.
and t

Hunky Dory's Legacy
Now we are gone, we are happy in the knowledge that in the little time we were at Hunky Dory's (2012 - 2013), we have impacted positively on other mainstream cafeteria's nearby who now have begun to offer diverse vegetarian food - whereas before they offered vegetarians the same boring dishes, day in and day out; and vegans well, they were not even catered for - we know now they will be.

Vegetarians and Vegans in Newport will never have had it so good (Thanks to Hunky Dorys)
Finally, Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog wrote a very kind and generous post about the vegetarian cafeteria. Please follow this link to read a little more.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Vegan Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Icing

I'm back to pottering about in the garden, and whilst I was doing a little bit of lazy weeding here and there.  I unearthed a small patch of strawberry plants that i has planted last year.  The delicate white strawberry flowers in full bloom.  I smiled to myself and spoke in the third person 'Yes this lady will be enjoying some home grown strawberries this year', but not quite yet.  Instead, I will have to enjoy those grown by someone else, but at least they are local and in season. 

I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but the sun has been shining graciously upon us all week.  I think its going to last into the weekend, so I've taken this as a sign that it is now officially summertime and I better make the most of it while I have some free days to enjoy. 
I have made a summery big fat pink vegan strawberry cake. And it was glammed up with some natural pink icing. The pink colouring came from the crushed juices of strawberries and then topped with some sliced juicy strawberries with calyx still attached for visual impact.
No small slices served here, its going to be a big fat slice too. The inside of the cake is studded with sliced strawberries, not too much as it would make the cake soggy in places.   
The only thing I would do differently with this cake is that I would cover/coat the sides of the cake with icing too, without it - it can be a tad dry, but I guess that is why you need cream, yeah strawberries and cream - a perfect combo (and yes, you can get vegan cream!)
If you like the look of this strawberry cake, you may also find my Strawberry, Banana and Peanut Butter Cake (a homage to Elvis Presley) dubbed as Graceland cake just as appealing too. Follow this link. I am sharing this vibrant pink cake studde with strawberries with Ren at Fabulicious Food for Junes edition of months Simple and In Season.
Recipe will be posted shortly.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Vegan Mango and Coconut Cake

Oh my, the sun is finally shining upon some of us.  Three days, no four days of non-stop sun warming, sun blazing hot sun-shine.  Thank you mother nature.  Not that I have been able to enjoy much of it, as I'm stuck indoors distracted with things happening.  I do have some news to share with my readers, its about cafeteria: my vegetarian venture, but more about that later in the week.  Promise. 

Anyway, right now I would like to share these rather sumptuous Mango and Coconut Cakes.  I made these delicate delightful cakes around the same time I made the Mango Cheesecake Royale. 
These are very sticky and moist, they also reminded me a little of good Madeira cake but with mango flavours. 
  Best served with some vegan cream.
If you still haven't checked out the We Should Cocoa - Chocolate and Mango Round Up that I was hosting, then please do follow this link.  Lots of edible mango inspiration there.
Recipe will be posted later this month.