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The most famous plum cake ever, made vegan

This cake is easy.  Unbelievably easy.  A perfect lazy Sunday cake.  Go on.  Treat yourself this Sunday.  Cream some sugar and vegan margarine, mix in some yogurt, flour, baking powder.  Top with halved and pitted plums and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar and what comes out of the oven?  Pure magic.  Soft and incredibly moist, with pools of tart plums that have melted into a nearly jam-like consistency, the sugar balancing out the sourness of the plums.  This cake is just as good the next day, and the day after that.  And to top it off, it freezes well.

You can see why this cake is famous.  Yes, this is the most famous plum cake of all time.  First printed in the New York Times in 1983, it appeared every plum season thereafter until editors pulled the plug in 1995 and told readers to print it off and laminate it (these were the days before it appeared all over the internet, saved to everyone’s favorites).  It’s been written about on countless websites, such as Food52, The Kitchn and Smitten Kitchen (where I first came across it, and knew I had to make it).  The butter was easy to replace – simply sub vegan margarine.  As for the eggs, I briefly considered flax seeds, but I thought they’d add too much nutty flavor, or banana, but ditto on the overpowering flavor.  So I’ve gone with vegan yogurt, because the flavor wasn’t overwhelming, and it keeps the cake moist and fluffy.  Thanks to the baking powder, you don’t need to worry about the cake rising – it rises just fine without the eggs.

 

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Plum Torte

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (200 g) plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) vegan margarine
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose or plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) non-dairy yogurt
  • 8-10 small plums, halved and pitted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 F / 180 C / gas mark 4, and lightly grease an 8-inch round cake tin.
  2. Cream the margarine and 1 cup of sugar together until combined and fluffy.  Add the flour and baking powder and mix to combine.
  3. Add the yogurt, and mix all ingredients together, then spoon batter into the cake tin.  Smooth the top down and add the pitted, halved plums, skin side up.
  4. Sprinkle lemon juice on the plums to make the surface wet so it will stick, then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon on top.
  5. Bake 45 to 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (of batter, not plum juice).
  6. Cool on a rack.

Want more cake?



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This has been an exciting week!  As I mentioned, I’ve started contributing to One Green Planet.  My second post (5 Healthy, Whole Food Plant-Based Meats) went live this week and it’s got over 2.5K shares!!!  I’m so thrilled that it’s been shared so many times, and I hope people (especially anyone who can’t afford to buy storebought mock meats, or can’t find them in their area) have found it helpful. I’d love it if you could share it, too!

Now, onto today’s smoothie…

First, a word of advice on smoothies.  If you are craving both a smoothie and a coffee, DO NOT decide to mix the two!  I did this yesterday, thinking it would taste like a frappuccino.  It didn’t.  If you want some caffeine in your smoothie, then I’d suggest this one!

Last month, I started a new series, Pin to Plate, which is basically just a way to force myself to finally make those recipes I pin but never get around to trying.  For this pin to plate (or pin to pitcher, rather?), I chose a peach green tea smoothie from one of my absolute favourite blogs, Keepin’ it Kind.  However, I took so many liberties with it it barely resembled the original recipe (I’ve included the recipe I used below!).  The only real resemblance was that it started with peaches and matcha.  I don’t really know what happened after that….  But the end result was delicious!

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Now, I almost always end up changing recipes when I make them, because I like experimenting and I like subbing in ingredients I have.  I also like adding spices and making things even more complicated for myself.  Because that’s just the way I am.  In this case, I went the opposite way for once, and took out ingredients I didn’t have, like buckwheat groats, hemp seeds and maca powder. Next the greens came out, because I was for a making a smoothie for my boyfriend for once (as a banana-hater, he won’t eat my usual smoothies) and I thought starting out his first time with a kale-infused smoothie might be too much for him.  Next, soya milk (which is what I had in the fridge) stood in for almond milk.  Finally, I took out the mango slices and added frozen strawberries, because I snagged a bargain package of strawberries (about to expire).  Oh, and extra matcha, because I had a beautiful-looking package of matcha my friend brought back from Japan recently.   Recipe below, if it can be called that.

First, the pin that inspired this experiment:



Matcha Peach-Strawberry Smoothie

Matcha Peach-Strawberry Smoothie

Inspired by the amazing-looking peach green tea smoothie on Keepin’ it Kind

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup frozen peaches

  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries

  • Enough soya milk to cover the fruit in the blender

  • 3/4 tsp matcha

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together in the blender until smooth.

 

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patio

London doesn’t always have the warmest summers, but I’ve been enjoying all the sun and warmth I can in our local park so far this month!  Here’s a roundup of my favourite picks of June and the summer so far:

‘Our’ park

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My boyfriend and I moved into a new flat in March, which we absolutely love.  Apart from being three to four times bigger than the place where I used to live solo (whose nickname was ‘the box’ or even ‘the shoebox’), it’s got a pretty little patio (more on that below), loads of light, and is situated on a square.  The square we live on, with a park in the centre, is one of the quietest parks I have encountered in London, despite being off a fairly main road.  There are bigger and better known parks nearby and I think most people go to them so luckily few seem to have discovered our little square!  Every time it’s sunny we go sit in the park; sometimes we work on our laptops, sometimes I read my book, and we often have cava, which feels so decadent (but actually costs about the same as a bottle of wine!).  There’s nothing better on a sunny, summery day.  We’ve also started getting up before work the last couple of weeks to do some exercising before work, and I can’t get over how convenient it is to be able to go to the park across the street to exercise.

The patio

patio

Our patio is a little bit odd, seeing as how we’re in the basement flat.  I like how I can look up and see trees in the park across and the sky, but it’s slightly disconcerting to also see passerby, who sometimes look down on me curiously.  Despite it not being the most private place, the street isn’t busy so it’s fairly quiet and not that many people walk by, so I love drinking coffee out there and eating the occasional breakfast or dinner on the patio.  Also, as it’s the first flat where I’ve had proper outside space (I had a tiny bit of roof space just outside my window in my old flat, which I used to perch on to read books, but it wasn’t big enough to grow plants and even when I tried I forgot to water them — oops!), we’ve decided to grow a little herb garden.  So far the mint and chives are thriving but we’ve somehow managed to drown the parsley and kill it.  Oh well…  Somehow our tomatoes are doing quite well and we’ve put out a few small flower pots which make the place feel more homely.  It also came with a little tree and a mystery plant, which hasn’t revealed itself but which I think might be a rose due to its thorns (anyone know of any other thorny plants it could be?).  I also fulfilled my dream of having a mosaic table when I spotted one on Preloved just before we moved into our house.  It was quite an epic journey going to get it, which involved dragging the (very heavy) table onto first a bus, then a train, and finally the tube, but it really brightens my day eating on it!

Flavoured waters

Recently I’ve started ‘flavouring’ my water sometimes, as I find a hint of herbs or fruit makes me more likely to drink water (which I am really bad at!).  A new health food shop opened near my office last month, and I spotted cucumber water selling for something £4 per 1 liter bottle!  I couldn’t believe it, because infusing your water with flavour couldn’t be easier…all you have to do is put some water and whatever herbs, veg or fruit in a pitcher or jug and leave sitting for a few hours until the flavour has spread throughout the water.  You can even refill it with more water and keep reusing the herbs/fruit for a few rounds of water.  It doesn’t cost more than a few pence!  My favourites are old standby cucumber and also strawberry and mint from the garden.

Smoothies

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We get free breakfasts at work so for the last couple of years I’ve been having cereal with soya milk or jam and toast for breakfast most days — not a bad breakfast, but I’m ravenous by the time I usually get around to eating  (I might get up at 7:30 but often by the time I have a chance to eat breakfast between meetings it might be 11, or even noon!).  When we started getting up to do exercises last month, I couldn’t take the wait, so I started eating all my breakfasts at home, even on days when we’re not exercising.  I felt a huge difference in eating a few hours earlier!  I usually have either overnight oats (my favourite at the moment is equal parts oats, yoghurt and milk, plus a sprinkling of chia seeds, fresh cubes of mango and a dash of almond extract) or smoothies.  My favourite smoothie is so rich it tastes more like a milkshake, and is made out of frozen bananas, a few tablespoons of oats (use steel cut for best results), a dollop of peanut butter, milk and a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder.  Recently I discovered a new favourite smoothie (which I can also share with my banana-hating boyfriend — if I’m nice enough to share!), peach-strawberry matcha smoothie (recipe to follow soon).

No-cook recipes

Thanks to living in a flat that has more than one room, cooking in the summer hasn’t been as much of a nightmare as last year in my tiny studio, where the kitchen was next to my bed and there was no hope of containing the heat of the oven or even the steam from boiling pasta away from my living and sleeping area.  And our basement flat is in fact pretty cool, even when it’s hot outside.  Still, it’s not nice to slave away over a hot oven in the hottest days of summer (especially if you’d rather be reading a book outside!) and there’s something very refreshing about having a light yet filling salad or chilled soup.  Favourites include my perfect salad, cannellini-bean artichoke salad, gazpacho (recipe coming soon), Asian style salad with peanut dressing(if you leave out the cooked quinoa!), and Caesar salad (if you leave out the vegan chicken slices – replace with tinned chickpeas and/or avocado to make it more filling).  Oh, and apart from mains, ice creams of course go down well in the heat too!

‘New’ site

I was *finally* able to make my site mobile optimised a month ago, thanks to my boyfriend, who upgraded my whole theme.  While the site may look the same, it’s actually an entirely new installation of the theme which is fully responsive!  Happy to have finally joined 2014 (or even 2012/3?).

Comment

A comment from reader Dave on my walnut ravioli post absolutely made my month!  “Holy Crap! This is delicious!
My lovely wife and I made the walnut ravioli with Vodka Cream sauce, also made some simple ravioli stuffed with home made vegan cheese ( Almond flour, garlic, lemon juice, salt, water, olive oil, blended ) mixed with random green herbs and used the same sauce. Terrific! We used won-ton wrappers and made 4 ravioli with each wrapper ( lazy ..). Anyways, this set of recipes is now added to my all time favourites list. Thank you!!”  Thank YOU, Dave! :)

Puppy

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The most exciting meeting of the month was when, after attending a wedding in the area, I got to meet my boyfriend’s mum’s new puppy, Betty (pictured above with my boyfriend)!  She was the friendliest little pug I’ve ever met – inquisitive, she came straight up to me and said hi, and my heart melted! :)

Contributing to One Green Planet

Last but definitely not least, I’m super excited I’ve been accepted as a contributor to One Green Planet and will have articles regularly published over there!  If you haven’t checked out One Green Planet before, it’s full of informative and interesting articles about all sorts of topics, from vegan recipes to health, politics, lifestyle and more!

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Vegan pesto, cashew cheese, roasted asparagus and tomato sandwich

I love packing exciting lunches.  It gives me something to look forward to all morning (I am NOT a morning person and I need every incentive I can get to stay awake!), as well as a way to make my friends and colleagues jealous.  Often I have leftovers from my dinner the night before, which gives me something to look forward to if I really liked the dinner, and I also love packing a big salad (by big I mean really big, so big it overflows off my plate!) in a jar using a layering technique.   But even when I have a quintessential lunch food such as a sandwich I like to upgrade it to something a bit more exciting, like this sandwich.

Although I usually bring lunch, I like going for a walk at lunch to get some fresh air and hopefully sun, and I often end up in Pret with workmates who are browsing the selection.  For those of you who don’t know, Pret a Manger is a sandwich chain in the UK who promote themselves as using fresh, healthy ingredients, and they usually have at least one vegan sandwich option, and sometimes vegan soups as well.  At the moment, their vegan sandwich is a hummus wrap, which isn’t the most exciting sandwich as just about every restaurant has hummus as their vegan option.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy that it’s getting easier and easier to get vegan food out in restaurants and on the go, and while I do love hummus, I’m just a bit tired of it being the go-to vegan option on everyone’s menu.  While we were in Pret the other day my eye wandered from the hummus wrap to a sandwich near it, the grilled asparagus, herb and nut pesto.  It wasn’t vegan as it the sandwich contained cheese, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how good the sandwich sounded.  It haunted me for a few days until I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own!

This sandwich is easy to make if you roast your asparagus and tomatoes the night before, and then in the morning before work or school all you need to do is assemble it.  I’d suggest using a good quality crusty bread or baguette, plus your favourite pesto (I make my own because I like the fresh flavour but you can use storebought if you prefer) and your favourite vegan cheese (I had some cashew ricotta to hand so I used that – I’ve included the recipe below).  Or leave out the cheese if you’re not a fan – it will taste just as good without!

Vegan pesto, cashew cheese, roasted asparagus and tomato sandwich

Pesto, cashew cheese and roasted asparagus and tomato sandwich

Ingredients

  • Baguette or crusty bread
  • Bunch of asparagus
  • 4-6 medium sized tomatoes, sliced
  • Your favourite pesto
  • Your favourite vegan cheese

Instructions

  1. The night before making the sandwich, roast your asparagus and tomatoes.  Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F/gas mark 6.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper or grease lightly with oil.  Line up the asparagus and sliced tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the asparagus is beginning to brown and the tomatoes are shrivelling slightly.  Depending on the size of the asparagus it will take different lengths of time so check every 5 minutes or so until they are roasted!  Store the asparagus and tomatoes separately overnight in Tupperware (don’t store them together or any crispy bits on the asparagus will be softened by the tomato juices!)
  2. When you’re ready to assemble the sandwich, cut baguette in half (and toast if you’re planning to eat it immediately rather than pack it in a lunchbox), and spread one or both sides with pesto.  Add vegan cheese if using, and roasted asparagus and roast tomatoes.

Vegan Ricotta

Makes enough for approx 4 sandwiches

  • 1 package (approx 1 lb) firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flake
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • fresh black pepper to taste
  • Italian dried herb mix to taste

Instructions

  1. In a spice grinder, grind cashews until fine.
  2. In a food processor, blend cashews, tofu, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, nutritional yeast, tahini, miso, basil, black pepper, and Italian herb mix until it forms a thick paste.
  3. Adjust seasonings to taste.
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Next up on my pin to plate project is this Thai carrot peanut soup.  My pin to plate project is my chance (and what forces me) to finally get round to making all the lovely recipes I pin and re-pin on Pinterest but have in the past always forgotten to make.  If you have any suggestions for a recipe I should try, feel free to email it to me or leave a link in the comments.

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This healthy Thai carrot peanut soup is from Minimalist Baker, who says it tastes like the peanut dipping sauce they give you with Vietnamese summer rolls.  As soon as I read that, I was sold.  Everyone knows peanut dipping sauce is the best part of summer rolls!  But I have to admit, I was still a bit suspicious.  Carrot soup with peanut?  Would that really taste like peanut dipping sauce?  Or would it just taste of carrots, and carrots only?



As usual, I made a few changes in here in the way of adding some ingredients (while other people seem to always leave out XYZ, for some reason I’m forever adding ingredients and complicating recipes I come across).  I was determined to make it as peanut sauce-y as possible, so I added a few ingredients I usually use in my peanut sauce: ground ginger, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.  I also doubled the recipe (because I had a really big bag of carrots) and left out the water (but used the stock), because I wanted a really thick soup.  It served 2 as a very healthy dinner – I have to admit I felt pretty good having eaten half a kilo of carrots!  And the verdict?  Well, it wasn’t exactly like peanut sauce, it was more like carrot-y peanut sauce, but it was SO good.  You have to try this one!

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I am really excited to announce my new project: From Pin to Plate.  I love Pinterest and am constantly using it to pin inspiring vegan recipes I find.  My goal is to use it to showcase how delicious vegan food can be (so I try hard to make sure everything I pin is totally vegan – I don’t pin recipes that ‘could be adapted to be vegan’ – I want to show great vegan recipes).  However, I have a bit of a backlog of recipes I am yet to try.  So I thought it would be good to give myself a bit of a kick up the arse and make sure I try out some of the recipes I have found via Pinterest regularly, at least once a month.  So the idea of From Pin to Plate came about.

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First up was these breakfast nachos from Post Punk Kitchen.  I’m a huge Isa Chandra Moskowitz fan (Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World was the book that turned me vegan, by showing me vegan cake can be tasty), so I knew from the moment I saw it this would be good.  But it’s also just such a brilliant idea.  I love nachos, I love cashew queso, and I love breakfast.  Combine all three?  It’s a dream come true.

Caitlin Galer-Unti’s pin on Pinterest.

I made a few changes here – I used my basic nacho recipe and my nacho cashew cheese sauce recipe (I made nachos a few days ago and made some extra cashew cheese sauce).  I also modified the tofu scramble to suit the ingredients I had to hand (and to use up some courgettes and red peppers I had in the fridge) plus to include Vegg to make it taste eggier.  It was an amazing breakfast (and SO filling) – I highly recommend it!!

I’ll be doing more pin to plate posts, so watch out for more to come.  Have a suggestion of something I should try?  Link to the pin in the comments or ping me a message with a link!

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My boyfriend hates pretzels – a fact he neglected to mention until I said I was planning to make caramel and chocolate-covered pretzel ice cream.  He said that pretzels aren’t your average snack food in England, so it had never come up previously.  Still, I was upset to discover it.  This ice cream was no small undertaking – first I had to make the coconut caramel sauce, then make the caramel and chocolate-covered pretzels, and finally make the ice cream – so I was pretty disappointed when he dropped the pretzel bomb.  Luckily this ice cream managed to change his mind!  He still hates pretzels, but he’s discovered a newfound appreciate for chocolate and caramel-covered pretzels. Which are obviously a completely different thing to plain pretzels.

This ice cream is a lot of effort.  If you can easily obtain vegan caramel sauce near you, or somewhere you can get vegan chocolate-covered pretzels, please substitute and make life easier for yourself.  And if you know where I can get vegan caramel sauce or chocolate-covered pretzels in the UK, I’d love to know where!

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Caramel and Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Ice Cream

Suitable for non vegans

Ingredients

  • 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)
  • Caramel and chocolate-covered pretzels, recipe below

Instructions

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Make ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.  Feel free to use your own favourite ice cream base instead of this coconut milk base.
  5. When done, the ice cream straight out of the ice cream maker will be a texture similar to soft serve.  Break up the caramel and chocolate-covered pretzels into pieces and add in the pretzels to the ice cream base and stir to mix.  If you have any extra caramel sauce, you can drizzle some on top of the ice cream now and stir in to create a caramel ripple effect.
  6. 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.  Ice cream from an ice cream maker is often harder than storebought, so you may need to leave it out for a few minutes to soften.

Caramel and Chocolate-Covered Pretzels

Ingredients

  • A bag of vegan pretzels
  • Your favourite vegan chocolate bar
  • 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 1 cup (200 g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp margarine
  • pinch salt, optional
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. To make the coconut milk caramel, heat coconut milk, brown sugar, margarine and salt together in a saucepan over medium heat, being careful not to boil over the coconut milk.  Simmer over medium heat until the milk has reduced to a thick, syrupy consistency.
  2. In the meantime, cover a baking sheet in parchment paper and spread out the pretzels on the tray in a single layer.
  3. In a double boiler or the microwave, melt the chocolate bar.  Pour the melted chocolate and the caramel syrup over the pretzels.
  4. Place the coated pretzels in the freezer for 1-2 hours to allow the chocolate to set, before using in the ice cream.

I’m planning on making a lot of ice cream now I’ve got the ice cream maker!  Stay tuned for more ice cream recipes coming up this summer by liking The Vegan Word on Facebook.

 

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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 saladand 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).

peanut sauce salad prep

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Asian-Inspired Salad with Peanut Dressing

Adapted from Scar’s nutty quinoa salad recipe

Suitable for non vegans

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a large salad bowl.  Top with dressing and mix to combine.

Creamy Peanut Dressing

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.

 

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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

Suitable for non vegans

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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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!

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Black Bean, Courgette (Zucchini) & Corn Flautas

Suitable for non vegans

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Tin of refried black beans or 1 recipe refried black beans, below
  • 8 tortillas
  • Toothpicks
  • Enchilada or Mexican spice mix
  • 1/2 courgette (zucchini), chopped into cubes
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • Vegan cheese, optional
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Vegan sour cream, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to lowest setting, to keep flautas warm (optional).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. If you want to keep them warm, place on a tray in the oven while you fry the other flautas in batches.
  6. Serve with salsa, guacamole, and vegan sour cream to dip.

Refried Black Beans

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Remove 1 cup of liquid and reserve to the side to use as needed.
  3. Drain water from beans and return to slow cooker or place in a mixing bowl.
  4. 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.
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