Press-in Almond Crust
Makes one 9 inch pie crust or 9-10 inch tart pan crust

2/3 cup ground almonds
1 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 or more tablespoons cold almond milk

Pour almonds, flour and salt and pulse to combine. Continue to pulse and stream in oil, then pulse in 3 tablespoons of almond milk. Mixture should hold together when pressed between your finger tips; if it feels a little mix in one more additional tablespoon of almond milk at a time.
Press into a
If hotly greased tart tin and bake at Gas 5/180c for 15 minutes

6 tablespoons cold vegan margarine, cut into pieces
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup ground almonds
2 tablespoons cornflour
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup plain almond milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 pears, peeled, cored and sliced into thin rounds

In a food processor pulse together margarine, sugar, ground almonds, cornflour, ground cinnamon, and salt until crumbly. Continue to pulse and stream in almond milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract to form a thick batter. Spread frangipane mixture into tart shell.

Peel the pears, remove the core and slice in half. Slice each half into 1/4 inch thin slices and lay overlapping slices on top of the frangipane, gently pressing the pears half way into the batter. Bake the tart for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown, then move the tart onto a cooling rack and cool for at least an hour before slicing.

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Recipe from “Vegan pie in the sky” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Well, I have been away from the blog for a while so have got a bit of catching up to do!

First up – for the festive season (now a dim and distant memory) I made some frangipane mince pies which went down a storm and I will definitely be making these a regular Christmas occurrence. You don’t need me to tell you how to make mince pies but the frangipane topping is worth knowing a sit can be used for many other pies – pear and frangipane tart as one example.

Frangipane topping

150g vegan spread – I use Pure Sunflower Spread
150g golden caster sugar
200g ground almonds
100g ground rice
2 heaped tsp cornflour whisked with 4 tbsp water (egg replacer)
A few drops of almond extract

Place the spread and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat together until smooth. Add the cornflour mixture, bit by bit, stirring as you go until fully combined – don’t worry if the mixture splits, the ground rice and almonds will pull it back together again. Fold in the ground rice, ground almonds and almond extract until combined.

For mince pies – bake at 190C/Gas 5 for 25 – 30 minutes until golden.

Last week I made some chocolate fairy cakes for Poppy’s birthday party. I adapted this recipe https://veganindulgence.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/cranberry-hazelnut-and-orange-muffins/ which is proving to be a good all round muffin recipe.

Make 30 cupcakes/ 20 muffins

560g SR flour (I used half wholemeal and half white) Remove 2 tbsps and replace with cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
130g demerara sugar
120g dark chocolate chips
350ml plant milk (I used half soy and half almond)
220ml flavourless veg oil (I used sunflower)
100ml agave syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to Gas 4/180C
Line muffin tray with cases

Mix dry ingredients and chocolate chips
Add plant milk, oil, agave syrup and vanilla
Mix quickly for about 10 seconds until everything is just combined and still a bit lumpy – don’t over work it as if you take too long the raising agents will run out of oompph!

Spoon into muffin cases
Bake for 20 -25 minutes
Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack

I made a “butter icing” for these using 100g vegan spread and 200g icing sugar with 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder added.

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As it had been a long week at work, I felt a carrot cake would help see us through Friday and I adapted an awesome recipe that I loved in my pre vegan days…and you wouldn’t have known it was vegan! It was demolished by my work colleagues.

260g light muscavado sugar
225ml sunflower oil oil
3/4 cup soy yogurt mixed with 3 tbsps cornflour (egg replacer)
300g grated carrot
150g plain white flour
150g wholemeal flour
1 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp mixed spice
170g sultanas
120g chopped nuts
75g desiccated coconut

beat oil and yogurt/cornflour
beat in carrots
fold in dry ingredients & fruit
pour into greased/lined 9” square cake tin
bake in preheated oven at 180C/ Gas 4 about 50 minutes

This recipe doesn’t really need a frosting but for extra decadence I made a cinnamon “cream cheese” frosting

1/2 tube Tofutti plain “cream cheese”
1 tbsp vegan spread
Icing sugar to taste – probably about 3 tbsps
2 tsp cinnamon

Beat vegan spread and cream cheese until smooth
Mix in the sugar and cinnamon

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Only after I had spread the frosting on did I notice it wasn’t as smooth as it should be – more beating of the spread/cream cheese needed!

I am starting to feel Christmassy and tonight had a go at making some Festive muffins and they are delicious!
This recipe is adapted from the Carrot, maple and pecan muffin recipe in my all time favourite baking recipe book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ms-Cupcake-Naughtiest-Vegan-ebook/dp/B00CLWNDUO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382895176&sr=8-1&keywords=ms+cupcake

Makes 20 muffins

560g SR flour (I used half wholemeal and half white)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
130g demerara sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
80g hazelnut pieces
80g dried cranberries
Grated zest of 1 small orange
350ml plant milk (I used half soy and half almond)
320ml flavourless veg oil (I used sunflower)
100ml agave syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to Gas 4/180C
Line muffin tray with cases

Mix dry ingredients, nuts, cranberries and zest
Add plant milk, oil, agave syrup and vanilla
Mix quickly for about 10 seconds until everything is just combined and still a bit lumpy – don’t over work it as if you take too long the raising agents will run out of oompph!

Spoon into muffin cases
Bake for 20 -25 minutes
Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack

I chose to not ice these but you could with an icing sugar/cinnamon glaze or just some demerara sugar

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On Monday we made our Christmas cake…which fell apart! It was a vegan, gluten and wheat free recipe and it (obviously) didn’t have much holding it all together. So I had some for pudding Monday night with Alpro custard! Yum what a treat! The rest will get used up as puddings and mixed into ice cream over the next week or so.

And so, today, I made the Christmas cake Mark 2!
This one seems to have much more hold to it!

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350g wholegrain spelt flour
175g vegan marg
175g light muscovado sugar
2 tsp mixed spice
150g sultanas
200g raisins
150g dates
50g flaked almonds
1 tblsp treacle
100g glacé cherries, halved
grated zest of an orange
2 tbsps ground almonds
120ml soya milk
2 tbsps red wine vinegar
¾ tsp of bicarbonate of soda
brandy/rum

METHOD

  • Soak fruit in 3 tbsps rum/brandy over night
  • Preheat oven to Gas 2/150˚C
  • Grease an 8″ cake tin and line with a layer of greased greaseproof; leave a ridge of paper at the top
  • Sieve the flour and spice
  • Rub in the marg until the mix is like breadcrumbs
  • Stir in the flaked almonds and treacle
  • Add the sugar, dried fruit, cherries, orange zest and ground almonds and mix
  • Warm half the soya milk in a small pot and add the vinegar
  • Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the rest of the soya milk, then add this to the milk and vinegar mix (it will puff up nicely!)
  • Stir this into flour and fruit mix until well combined
  • Spoon mix into greased tin and smooth the top
  • Bake for 2 hours, until a skewer/cocktail stick comes out clean
  • Leave cake in tin to cool, then turn out and peel off greaseproof
  • Prick cake with a cocktail stick and feed with a tbsp of the brandy/rum
  • Wrap cake in greaseproof and store in a tin
  • Feed with brandy/rum at weekly intervals

Original recipe here: http://thehungryvegan.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/vegan-christmas-cake.html

I love cake.
I love chocolate.
So chocolate cake is a sure fire winner in my book and brownies are just heaven sent!

This recipe is from Ms Cupcake: The naughtiest vegan cakes in town.

1 tbsp ground flax seed in 3 tbsp lukewarm water – leave for 10 minutes
250g plain flour
60g cocoa
100g brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
100ml soy milk
280ml rapeseed oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
100g vegan choc chips or pieces

Line a baking tray with baking paper
Preheat oven at 180C Gas 4
Mix dry ingredients
Add in 120ml water the milk, oil and vanilla and flaxseed/water mix
Mix thoroughly
Spoon into tray
Sprinkle chocolate on top bake for 20 minutes

*I like nuts in brownies so added about 25g chopped walnuts

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Ok – get yourself a cup of something, put up your feet and relax…and then read this loooooong blog entry!

I find frozen veggie burgers handy to have in but I have been looking for a good, trustworthy bean burger recipe to have also…and I think this is it. It is adapted from the chickpea cutlet recipe in The Veganomicon.


Bean burgers

1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup mixed beans
3 tbsps olive oil
1 cup wheat gluten
1 cup wholemeal bread crumbs
1/2 cup veg stock
3 tbsps tamari soy sauce
3 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 tsp miso
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp smoked pimenton
1/2 tsp yeast extract
Salt and pepper

Mash the chickpeas, beans and oils with a fork until all the peas/beans are mashed but a few remain as lumps.
Add everything else and mix well.
Knead for 3 minutes.
Using a spoon or your hands form into about 14 burgers
Fry in some olive oil – about 8 minutes each side.

Sorry – no pictures!! They were delicious and my son has DEMANDED I make them again.

Now, we don’t often have over ripe bananas in the house but when we do, we used to make a banana bread (recipe from Nigella Lawson) and I have wanted to try to veganise it for a while – this is the result and it worked awesomely well….you wouldn’t know it was any different from the original.

Banana bread

100 grams sultanas
75 ml dark rum (or Bourbon)
175 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon salt
125 grams vegan marg (melted)
150 grams caster sugar
1/2 cup plain soy yogurt mixed with 2 tbsps cornflour (this replaces the eggs)
4 small very ripe bananas (mashed)
60 grams chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the sultanas and rum in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Remove from the heat, cover and leave for an hour or longer.
Preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3 and get started on the rest.
Put the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a medium-sized bowl and combine well.
In a large bowl, mix the melted marg and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the yogurt/cornflour mix, then the mashed bananas.
Then, with your wooden spoon, stir in the walnuts, sultanas and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture, and stir well.
Scrape into a loaf tin (2lb) and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-1¼ hours.
When it’s ready, an inserted toothpick or fine skewer should come out cleanish.
Leave in the tin on a rack to cool.

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And if you still have some bananas needing used up – this recipe is adapted from River Cottage.

Banana fridge flapjacks

100g pitted dates
100g dried prunes
2 ripe or slightly over-ripe medium bananas, peeled
150g syrup – golden and maple worked well, or you could use agave
2 tablespoons coconut oil
325g medium porridge oats
100g raisins
100g unsulphured ready-to-eat dried apricots, finely chopped
100g mixed seeds – sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, hemp

Line a shallow baking tray, about 20 x 30cm, with baking parchment.
Put the dates, prunes, bananas, syrup and coconut oil in a food processor and blitz to a thick, fruit-flecked purée.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, raisins, chopped apricots and seeds.
Stir in the puréed fruit and mix well
Tip the fruity oat mixture into the prepared tin and gently press it out, getting it as even and level as you can.
Put the tray in the fridge for 2–3 hours to allow the flapjack to set, then turn out on to a board and slice into bars.
Keep in a plastic container in the fridge and eat within a week.
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These bars are gorgeous and feel oh so virtuous too! My wife says they are good for the colon!

And finally – a restaurant. We got a babysitter last night and headed into Edinburgh to Yeni, http://www.yenirestaurant.com/ a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Meze restaurant. I had heard good things about it and the selection available for vegans and it did not disappoint.

The deal is you choose 3 – 4 items each and they come as and when they are ready. There was a good selection of items marked as suitable for vegans and I was spoilt for choice. The updated wine list will also highlight wines that are suitable for vegan also.

I had spinach filo rolls, baked aubergine (which was amazing!) spicy potatoes with a tomato sauce and baba ganoush; we had olives and flatbreads to share also.

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AND they had some vegan dessert options – I went for the Turkish delight which went well with a coffee.

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All in all, a really good meal and I heartily recommend a visit. We will be going back with the kids very soon.

I heard via Facebook that a new Indian restaurant has opened up in my student stomping ground of Newington in Edinburgh and that they do great vegan food. So I felt duty bound to explore and suss them out!

Bindi (in what used to be Anna Purna) is on St Patrick;s Square and is a Gujarati Indian restaurant – totally vegetarian and there is a huge amount of choice for vegans, either meals that are already vegan or that can be adapted. I was really impressed and will certainly head there again with my family.

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I opted for the Thali main which is a dish of many parts – a Daal soup, 2 curries (mine were cauliflower and an aubergine and spinach) roti flatbreads and basmati rice. All of these were delightful – the rice was probably the fluffiest I have ever had and the roti were really good.

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Whilst waiting I was given a plate of puri (a fried flat bread) and chutneys which were really tasty. The coriander one was really fresh and zingy and was accompanied by a sweet tamarind chutney and a firey lime pickle.

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Price wise the food is really good value – the Thali costs £5!

I definitely recommend a visit.

Find them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BindiEdinburgh?ref=ts&fref=ts