The Economical Vegan

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A Special Dinner

A Special Dinner

So it has been a very busy weekend, particularly after I discovered that the restaurant I had booked for Valentine’s day wanted to charge £45 for a taster menu. I don’t know about other vegans, but I am not prepared to pay that much for vegetables, however well they are cooked. I could buy enough veggies for a month with that. So it was plan B for the big night. I told my partner I would rather stay in and cook a nice meal instead.

It didn’t even take too much planning, to tell the truth. I knew I had most of the ingredients in for a lovely meal and with a bit of extra effort I could make a lovely, romantic meal. To begin with, I set the table with a nice cloth, candles, champagne flutes, napkins etc. I brought the MP3 player dock in for the music, and set up ‘our song’ ready for when my partner came in.


Beer battered smoked tofu with sesame seeds, served with chopped coriander, olive tapenade and baby tomatoes.

I made a batter from half and half Gram flour and Self Raising flour, adding one teaspoon of baking powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder and chili powder, and added sesame seeds. Then I took some organic beer and whisked it in until I had a good batter with a thick texture. I heated organic rapeseed oil in a small, deep pan and took some good firm smoked tofu and cut it into chunks. Then I tossed the chunks in seasoned flour and dipped them into the batter before tossing into the hot oil. I cooked two at a time and left them on kitchen paper, then put them in a hot oven until it was time to serve. I dressed two square plates with chopped coriander, halved baby tomatoes, and a quenelle of tapenade made by whizzing up green and black olives, pickled garlic and sundried tomatoes. I drizzled a patchwork of sweet chilli sauce on the plate then placed the tofu on top.

I have to say that this was utterly delicious, although next time I would add even more sesame seeds!


Main Course: Stuffed Mushrooms with Chips, Salad and Onion Rings.

I took two very large, flat mushrooms and took out the stalks, placed them in a roasting dish and drizzled on a little extra virgin olive oil. I made wholemeal breadcrumbs and added finely chopped garlic and plenty of finely chopped fresh basil, then mixed in salt and olive oil. I stuffed this firmly into the mushrooms and put them in the oven at 180 degrees to roast.

I made another batter, but this time without the garlic, chilli or sesame seeds, and thinly sliced an onion, then dipped this in the batter and fried the slices a few at a time. I put these in the oven to keep crisp. I made chips from sliced organic potatoes with the skins still on, and cooked them in my low-fat chip fryer, adding some freshly chopped garlic five minutes before the end of cooking.

The salad was leaves of organic lettuce, filled with home made coleslaw and thinly sliced fresh tomatoes. The coleslaw was finely chopped onion, cabbage and celery with grated carrot, olive oil, vinegar and English mustard, and a little lemon juice.

I assembled the dish carefully and served it with everything hot, the mushroom was browned on top and soft underneath, really melt in the mouth. The crispy onion rings were light and delicious, and the salad was fresh and delicious.

Dessert: Sticky Fig Pudding with Chocolate Mousse

I boiled dried figs with vegan red wine, sugar and water for about 15 minutes, then added a teaspoon of baking powder and whizzed into a syrup. To this I added self raising flour and a little vegan spread, and mixed well, then turned into silicone muffin trays (small ones) and put straight into the oven at 170 degrees. I then made the syrup, using sugar, vegan spread and molasses, simmering and then adding some soya milk to make a thick, pourable syrup.

To make the mousse, I melted four large squares of dark chocolate, and put this with the flesh of one avocado, sweet syrup and cocoa powder into the mini chopper, whizzing until smooth. I put this in the fridge until time to serve.

Once the sponges were ready, I sliced them in half and put into bowls, then drizzled on the hot syrup, serving with vegan squirty cream and a quenelle of the chocolate mousse.

The cake was AMAZING! The figs gave the sponge a great texture, the flavour was amazing, and it was a real sugar hit!


And that was the Special Dinner. We had a lovely meal, and that was the most successful vegan sponge I have made to date!


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Party Time

I am sorry to have been absent from the Blogosphere for so long – blame my wedding amongst other things! Today has been a busy day and I have a hundred and one recipes and ideas to share with you, but for now I will make do with some party food ideas. Tonight my choir are giving a concern, and so we are having a little ‘after show party’ with food and nibbles. It all has to be finger foods and easy for me to transport to the venue. I wanted to deliver plenty of taste in small packages.
I am working at home today, and this meant I had to fit all of this lovely cooking into my ‘lunch hour’. I always play to my strengths when I don’t have a lot of time. I had some frozen vol au vent cases left over from the wedding, and half a block of frozen shortcrust pastry, so I first put the cases in to cook during the morning, then when lunchtime came around, started with a mushroom filling. This involved finely chopped onion, garlic and mushrooms, sautéed, with black pepper and salt. I stirred in some plain flour, then added a couple of tablespoons of red wine and stirred well, adding a little hot water. I cooked this down to a smooth sauce and left it to cool. While it was cooking I soaked vegan sausage mix, and rolled out half my pastry and made vegan sausage rolls, which went straight into the oven.
Next I started one of the fillings for soft tortilla wraps. These make a great party food. I peeled some carrots and cut them lengthwise into thin stalks. I put these in a medium hot pan with some olive oil and Turkish mixed spices, adding celery stalks cut to the same sort of size and shape. I added some salt and then cooked these for about 20 minutes, before adding a teaspoon of chipotle paste, and a tin of drained red kidney beans. I cooked this for another ten minutes, stirring frequently. Whilst this was cooking made a simple sweet potato and chickpea curry, using half an onion and a garlic clove, a tablespoon of curry paste, a diced sweet potato, and a teaspoon of coriander paste. I added water and simmered until the potato was soft, stirring in a little vegetable stock powder at the end. It became a very dry curry. I made this into little curry parcels with the rest of my pastry.
While the curry was cooking I filled the mushroom vol au vents and made an olive tapenade. The tapenade was made by filling my mini chopper with black and green olives (without the stones), with a few sundried tomatoes and a tablespoon of olive oil, one raw garlic clove, and a tablespoon of red wine. I whizzed it to a fine texture. There were a few leftover vol au vent cases so I filled these with the tapenade and put the rest in a pot to take as a dip.
The wraps were made with mixed leaves and thinly sliced stalks of raw yellow pepper, onto which were placed a few stalks of carrot and celery and some of the red beans. Each was folded over at each end, rolled, and then cut in half on the diagonal with a very sharp knife. The colours looked great on the cut ends. I arranged these cut ends up on a large platter, filling half of it. Then I made another wrap filling. This time I simply put a pack of vegan ‘fake chicken’ pieces into a pan, added half a tube of tomato puree, a generous dollop of hot chilli sauce, salt, mixed herbs, and a little vegetable stock. I simmered this for about ten minutes. The second lot of wraps had more leaves, the soya filling, and about a tablespoon of red pepper and smoked paprika chutney on top. Again, these were rolled tightly and sliced in half on the diagonal, and arranged on the other side of the platter. I filled a second large platter with the vol au vents, sausage rolls and pasties, and my work was done. All in all, including clearing up and washing up, it took an hour and a half. I would recommend these for party foods because they are delicious, have a great texture, and are full of intense flavours. I hope my fellow singers enjoy them as much as I will.