I am so ready for summer. Are you? Summer in London is unlike any I’ve experienced elsewhere. It’s full of ups and downs, and far too much rain and clouds – but when the sun comes out, the city explodes with grateful people. Parks overflow with kids kicking around a soccer ball, crowds spill off of pub sidewalks and into the street, and people get skin – loads of it – out. My first summer here I was shocked to see a topless sunbather in the park near my house, but now I appreciate how excited everyone is to see the sun. The mood of the city changes completely, and you can’t help but feel happy, too.
London doesn’t get overly hot, and as a result, few places have air conditioning. This means that on the hottest days, my flat turns into a humid, sticky mess and the last thing in the world I want to see is a blue gas flame in my oven. On these days, I leave the oven off and reach for the big salad bowl instead. I’ve written before about my all-time favourite salad, my recipe for Caesar salad, and my favourite side dish, a cannellini-artichoke salad with orange-miso dressing.
Now I have a new salad to throw into the mix, thanks to my friend Scar, who sent me this recipe off her blog with words somewhere along the line of “you have to try this salad”. She was right, and this one is a new favourite. I think I’ve made it nearly every week in the last month (although part of the reason behind this frequency was my various attempts at getting a good picture of this salad – guys, this is not a pretty salad, but it is tasty!). This one involves turning on the hob to cook the quinoa – but I think I will leave the quinoa off this salad on the hottest days of summer. I made some adaptations, as usual, to the original recipe – swapping mixed salad leaves for cabbage (because I like it better), adding tomatoes (because they are delicious) and cashews (which were in the original recipe, but I didn’t toast them, because I was too lazy).
Asian-Inspired Salad with Peanut Dressing
Adapted from Scar’s nutty quinoa salad recipe
- 250g mixed salad leaves
- Handful of cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cucumber, diced
- 1 carrot, grated
- 2 tbsp cashews
- 1/2 cup dried quinoa, cooked
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 avocado, diced (optional)
- Creamy peanut dressing, recipe below
- Place all ingredients in a large salad bowl. Top with dressing and mix to combine.
Creamy Peanut Dressing
- 3 tbsp peanut butter
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- Pinch garlic powder
- Pinch ginger
- Splash of hot chilli sauce, optional
- Mix all ingredients together, making sure you mix the water in thoroughly to thin down the peanut butter and form a salad dressing-type consistency.
It was Friday night. Overcast, a bit chilly and after a long week, all I wanted to do was make a big pizza with lots of toppings and curl up on the sofa with a big bowl of ice cream and watch a film… Not just any ice cream, though. No, I’d been dreaming about this ice cream for some time, imagining how it would taste. Combining my favourite alcohol (sweet and almondy amaretto) with cherries (almond and cherry flavours work so well together) and chocolate (which always goes well with anything, in my opinion) seemed like such a good way to end the week. In fact, it was better than I could have imagined, which is why I couldn’t wait to share it with you!
This is the second ice cream I made since I got my new ice cream maker, and I think I really hit the jackpot here. I’ve spent the last few years wishing that I had an ice cream maker (my freezer, and my flat, were too small) and wishing that I could find more interesting ice cream flavours in the UK (in fact, I took to adding flavourings in to plain vanilla ice cream to make things more interesting). Now, I can finally make my own ice cream and I love it!
I am experimenting with different ice cream bases at the moment. I tried making this one with soya milk and soya cream base, but it didn’t turn out very well, which is why I’ve gone back to the trusty coconut milk base. But feel free to use a different base (just note that alcohol changes the freezing properties meaning it won’t freeze as hard as ice cream without alcohol). By the way, if you find coconut milk to be prohibitively costly, try a Chinese or Indian supermarket – I got two 400ml tins for £1!
Amaretto, Cherry & Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
- 2 15 oz cans coconut milk (2 400ml tins of coconut milk)
- 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract, or scrapings of a vanilla pod (optional)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) amaretto
- 4 tbsp cherry jam
- 2-3 tbsp vegan chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
- Freeze your ice cream maker according to its instructions (I need to freeze mine for at least 12 hours, so I usually freeze it overnight, covered to prevent ice crystals forming in it).
- Blend coconut milk, sugar and corn starch. Pour into a saucepan, and scrape in the seeds of a vanilla pod or mix in vanilla extract, if using.
- Heat over medium heat in a saucepan until it begins to bubble. Remove from heat and cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours. After it’s cooled down, add the amaretto and mix.
- Make ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. About 5 minutes before the ice cream is done, add the cherry jam and chocolate chips.
- When done, the ice cream straight out of the ice cream maker will be a texture similar to soft serve. If you want, add another spoonful of cherry jam and swirl in to create a ripple effect in the ice cream. You can eat it as soft serve now if you prefer, or freeze it in a container for a few hours before serving for a harder ice cream. Note that because of the alcohol, it will be fairly soft still and not as hard as other ice cream.
While I love the coconut milk base, I want to try out some others. Anyone have any good ice cream base suggestions? I want to try some other variations – but only with ingredients easily obtained in the supermarket, and not too expensive!
Stay tuned for more ice cream recipes coming up this summer by liking The Vegan Word on Facebook.
I spotted a recipe for black bean flautas (vegetarian rather than vegan, due to the cheese) over on Oh My Veggies the other day, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I immediately put it on my ‘to make’ list. Dishes often languish on that list for months, but the flautas lasted all of five days before I made them. These were very popular with my non-vegan boyfriend, who loves Mexican food.
As usual, I made some adaptations. I lined the tortillas with vegan cheese, so it would melt into the flautas, rather than sprinkling on top. I also had both salsa and guacamole as dipping sauce. And since I had half a leftover courgette in the fridge, I decided to fry some up with corn, in a Mexican spice mix, to add some more flavours to the flautas. Since you can’t easily obtain refried black beans in supermarkets in the UK, I decided to make my own. I made it in the slow cooker (crock pot). If you have one, I highly recommend this method – you can make it on low heat while you’re at work, on in 4 hours on high heat. It’s low effort, high flavour, and makes the house smell amazing!
While the beans are low effort, the flautas are not, what with all the frying and holding them together with toothpicks – but they are well worth the effort, trust me!
Black Bean, Courgette (Zucchini) & Corn Flautas
- Tin of refried black beans or 1 recipe refried black beans, below
- 8 tortillas
- Enchilada or Mexican spice mix
- 1/2 courgette (zucchini), chopped into cubes
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- Vegan cheese, optional
- Vegan sour cream, optional
- Preheat oven to lowest setting, to keep flautas warm (optional).
- Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil over high heat in a frying pan or wok. Add chopped courgette and spice mix, and stir fry until soft. Add frozen corn and fry until the corn is cooked through and the courgette begins to brown. Remove from heat.
- Construct flautas by spreading cheese on a tortilla, topping with refried black beans and courgette/corn mix. Roll up and seal shut with 3 or 4 toothpicks.
- Heat oil over high heat in a frying pan or wok. Add as many flautas as you can fit and fry on each side until browned.
- If you want to keep them warm, place on a tray in the oven while you fry the other flautas in batches.
- Serve with salsa, guacamole, and vegan sour cream to dip.
Refried Black Beans
- 1.5 cups dried black beans
- Enough water to cover beans by 1 inch
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- Add all ingredients to slow cooker. If cooking while you’re at work, leave on low heat. Otherwise, you can cook in 4 hours on high heat.
- Remove 1 cup of liquid and reserve to the side to use as needed.
- Drain water from beans and return to slow cooker or place in a mixing bowl.
- Mash with a potato masher. Add more water from the reserved bean water if needed to aid mashing, or add a bit of olive oil.