Thursday, 13 March 2014

Ⓥ Our Trip To Falmouth's First Vegan Cafe/Bar - Wildebeest

Yesterday - Wednesday 12th March 2014 - We journeyed down through Cornwall from Vegan Chat Room HQ on a trip to Wildebeest, Falmouth's first vegan cafe/bar.  The cafe had opened it's doors for the first time on Monday 10th March, and we were keen to sample their food.  We found it quite easily, on Arwenack Street, one of the main streets through Falmouth.

We had been trawling the charity shops of Falmouth, so were keener than ever to get stuck into some vegan grub.  The cafe is very smart and clean, with pine benches and tables, together with a few green stools and food bar. I checked out the toilets, one for each sex which is great and very clean. I think there were around seven tables, so a fair size cafe really.  There is also a chalk board for anyone feeling artistic, who wants to sketch down their vegan thoughts.  On the shelves are mini cacti/succulent worlds.

We selected two main meals from the selection on the chalk board - Chestnut, Fennel and Tarragon Ravioli and Pumpkin Quesadillas with Refried Beans, Salsa and Guacamole (gluten free).  We waited with drooling mouths for our food to arrive. 

Very soon, our food arrived from the friendly staff, together with our cutlery which was contained in cleaned, reused and polished up tin cans, with recycled napkins.

Now, I have forgotten the times that I have sat down in a veggie or vegan cafe or restaurant, awaiting the arrival of my food, keen to tuck into the selection of vegan fayre that I had selected from the menu, only to be disappointed to various degrees.  I can honestly say, that this was the very first time that I have not been disappointed to even one percent of a degree.  We shared both main meals, and tried the ravioli first.  Rose told me later that they make and dehydrate their own cashew cheese and that was sprinkled on top of the ravioli.  It was a dish comprising of a few ingredients, but those ingredients worked so well together.  The fennel was a wonderful, mild aniseed flavour, it went so well with the tarragon and chestnut.  The ravioli pasta was cooked really well, really light and with the cashew cheese on top melted in the mouth.  Then, we were onto the Pumpkin Quesadillas dish.  All four parts of the dish were very tasty independently as well as complementing each other.  The pumpkin Quesadillas were a new one for me, they were also nice and light filled with a great flavourful pumpkin centre.  We had all too soon reached the end of our meals. 

Rose recommended two of the ice creams and sorbets for us to try, Giandina ice cream made with hazelnuts and BBQ pineapple and black pepper sorbet.  We thought we would try a giant cranberry, oat and almond cookie each to go with it.

The Giandina was really rich and sooo, hazel-nutty, just like a cruelty free version of Nutella in an ice cream. The sorbet was really fresh and with such a wonderful pineapple hit.  The fruity/nutty cookies were wonderful and went really well with the scoops, I did wonder how they fitted them in their oven though.

After we paid, we were given a loyalty card, which gives you one free drink after you have five stamps and a generous offer of 2 meals for 1 after you have ten stamps on your card.

Rose told us, that they having a vegan sushi night on Sunday 30th March and they plan to have monthly events from then on.  My only complaint, is that Vegan Chat Room HQ is too far away from Falmouth and more importantly from Wildebeest.

Twitter: @wildebeestcafe

Friday, 14 February 2014

Ⓥ Organic Vegan Raspberry, Date, Cacao & Cashew Love Truffles

Being the season of love, I thought I would try to concoct some truffles for myself.  Gramondo could have a few as well, if there were any left over.

First, using my Excalibur Dehydrator I dehydrated around 200g of raspberries, forgetting of course to take any photographs of this stage of the proceedings.  It took around 16 hours to get them nice and crisp and dry.

Then I soaked a cup of organic cashew nuts for about one hour.

I chopped up a cup of organic dates and processed them with the nuts, raspberries, 1/4 cup of organic cacao and four table spoons of organic maple syrup.

I rolled the mixture into small truffle sized balls and placed them on a board, then put them in the freezer.  I thought freezing them would help later when covering them in chocolate.

Around one hour later, I melted various chocolate (including an Organica Chocolate Couverture bar) that I had managed not to scoff; it was around 140g in total.

Then I rolled each truffle, coating it in chocolate. Freezing them did help a great deal here I think. The chocolate hardened very quickly.

There you have it, fairly healthy, truffles, made from lots of raw organic ingredients, that take less than 30 minutes to make.  The raspberry is really intense, and works well with all the other ingredients.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Ⓥ Organic Dehydrated Kale Crackers with Engevita Yeast Flakes

I found a raw Cheezy Kale Crackers recipe a few weeks back and eventually got around to giving it a go today.

As usual for dehydrated cracker recipes, it's very easy to make. The worst problem I have is my blender is total rubbish. Anyway, I won't dwell on my blender.

So, the ingredients are:

Kale, Almonds, Nutritional Yeast Flakes, Coconut Flour, Flax, Paprika and Chili

First you have to soak the almonds over night, then rinse and then blend them. Stick them in a bowl. Put the flax and water in a bowl and leave it to thicken up.  Then blend the kale up. Add all the other ingredients to the ground almonds, add the kale to the almonds, mix well.

Then finally, add the gloopy flax mixture and mix well again.

Then you spread it out on parchment paper and score it. Unfortunately I don't have a fancy pants cutter so I used a knife. Mine are nowhere near as neat as on Susan's blog on

Then you dehydrate it. It smells really good.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Ⓥ Vegan Christmas Nut Roast Recipe

This recipe is one that Gramondo's dad makes every Christmas for their family meal (it serves 6).  It uses 3 types of nuts, but you could substitute 100% peanuts instead.  You don't have to wait until Christmas as this nut roast recipe is enjoyable anytime of the year.

2 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
75g/3oz shelled brazil nuts
75g/3oz shelled cashew nuts
75g/3oz shelled unsalted peanuts
175g/6oz wholemeal breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
a few drops of Tabasco sauce
salt and ground black pepper
3 tbsp tomato puree
150ml/¼ pint vegetable stock
450g/1lb puff pastry (or use rough puff pastry - see below)

1. Fry up the onion and leeks in the oil for about 5 minutes.  Chop up the nuts by hand or if you want to be lazy use a food processor.  Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast them under a pre heated grill for about 3 minutes.

2. Mix together the onion and leek, toasted nuts, breadcrumbs, sage, Tabasco sauce and seasoning.  Dissolve the tomato puree in the vegetable stock and stir it into the dry ingredients.

3. Preheat your oven to 220C/425F/Mark 7.  Roll out the pastry to 30 x 38cm/12 x 15inch rectangle.  Spoon the filling lengthways down the centre of the pastry, leaving a border of around 11.5cm/4.5inches down the long sides and 6.5cm/2.5inches at the short ends.

4. Cut out 4 squares from each of the corners of the pastry, almost to the edge of the filling. Use some
soy/rice/etc milk to brush around the edges of the pastry.

5. Fold the short sides of the pastry over the filling, and then fold the long edges over the filling, forming a sealed oblong parcel.  Place the nut roasts on a heated baking tray seams underneath. Brush the tops with more milk.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

Individual Nut Roasts

You could also make smaller individual nut roasts, which you can then freeze and cook later.  Gramondo's dad makes about 9 from the same ingredient.  He uses a rough puff pastry recipe...

1lb self raising flour
5oz vegetable shortening/fat
5oz vegetable margarine
½ pint of cold water
tsp salt

1. Add flour into bowl, mix the flour and salt.  Add fat cut in small pieces, stir in with knife (do not rub in).  Mix to a stiff paste with water.

2. Roll out to a narrow strip. fold in three turn one of the open towards you,and repeat three times. Put it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

3. Take out and divide into 2, place 1 back into the fridge.  Divide into 4 and roll out into mini nut roasts.  The bits that you trim off make another one.  Then take the other pastry out of fridge and repeat.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Ⓥ Spinach and Potato Pie

Today we had a Spinach and Potato Pie with Aubergine and Sweet Potato Curry. For the pie ingredients I use potatoes, mushroom and spinach - the quantities vary each time I make it depending on how much of each ingredient I have.  I tend to make up the flavours as I go along from a collection of spices.

Dough ingredients

8oz plain flour
125ml warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
Quarter teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix yeast, salt into flour, mix in oil, gradually mix in water, form a dough, kneed, leave for one hour to rise.

Steam the potato cubes. Fry the curry powder, onion seeds, chili powder, asafoetida, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, cumin seeds and garam masala.

Add chopped mushrooms. Add potato, fry for a bit.  Add chopped spinach, add half tin coconut milk (200ml ish).  Let it cook for a bit more, until it's tender.

Stick the mixture into a cake tin (8inch approx).  Form the dough to fit over the top and plop it on.  Stick in oven for about 30 minutes on 180c.

Aubergine and Sweet Potato Curry

For this I stuck two aubergines in the oven for half an hour then blasted their skin until it was black.  I then removed the skin. I steamed some round beans, carrot and sweet potato.  Then I fried ginger, garlic, onion, asafoetida, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, curry leaves,  bit of salt.  I added the aubergine, sweet potato and beans and then the rest of the coconut milk.  Slapped it on a plate.  Took only 10 minutes to eat it after taking 2 hours to cook it.  Oh well, at least there is some left for tomorrow's dinner.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Ⓥ Chaffinch release day

So, both of the chaffinches have managed to survive. One took a turn for the worst a few days ago and was only making short flights within the cage. The other one was more chirpy, and did escape on a few occasions, out of the cage. They have both been pecking at seeds that we put in the cage, so hopefully they will be able to find food for themselves. I phoned up a local rescue and they advised that the birds should be released. So, we ventured a few miles down the road to our vegan friend, who has lots of land, where there was less chance of cats getting their paws on the birds. When we opened the box, the chirpy one immediately flew off leaving his/her mate behind in the box. We put the box with a little exit hole up in a tree and waited. After a couple of hours he/she also took the plunge and flew off into the trees.

Gramondo managed to take a photo of the first bird to fly off just after it had left.

Then, one photo of the second bird, that waited for a while in its box before leaving. I wonder if they will meet up again, I hope so.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Ⓥ Hand rearing two chaffinches

On Sunday 30th June we took our neighbour's dog, Ratty, for a walk and came across two cyclists.  One of them was holding in her hand, two chaffinch chicks.  They told us that just as they were cycling past, a magpie had thrown the chicks from their nest.  The chicks were feathered, mainly down but with some primary wing feathers.  The couple had been looking for the nest to return the chicks to it.  We helped to look, but failed.  It was a tricky situation, even if we found the nest, the chances were that after being handled by humans the adults would now reject the chicks.  The couple were about to leave the chicks to fend for themselves, when I said that we would take them home and try to rear them ourselves.

We then did a bit of research online as to what to feed them.  The answer seemed to be, kitten food (60%), egg yolk (20%) and mealworms (20%).  I know what some of you will be thinking, and I think it myself.  How vegan is it to feed one animal to another, it's a conflict that I can not reconcile.  Faced with animals totally unable to defend for themselves, bereft of their parents, we chose to feed them.  We expected them to die over night, as, however much we tried, they refused to eat anything.  The next day, I got up at 5am, expecting the worst, but found both of them alive and keen to eat something.  So, it's now four days on and they are still both doing well.  In fact, so well that today, the larger one took his first flight.

So, today we were lucky enough to be lent a small bird cage, to re-home them into from their original cardboard box.  Now they are hopping around we can put a shallow dish of water in with them.  It is important not to syringe feed chicks water as it can pass very easily into their lungs.

I thought I might add to this blog, the fact that the cruel practice of Vinkensport/Vinkenzetting  is still continued today in Belgium.  I mention it as the sick individuals that take part in this "sport" mainly choose to imprison chaffinches.  The idea is to see how many times one poor soul, locked in a wooden box, can call.  Whole rows of small wooden boxes are laid out next to each other, while sad unmentionables sit and count the bird calls within one hour.  This practice has been taking place since the late 16th century.

On a more positive note, we can see that people form early on have shown empathy to animals.  One such person was Thomas Hardy, who wrote the poem "The Blinded Bird" as a protest against it.  At the time, it was practice to blind the birds with hot needles to stop them from visual distractions during the competition.

The Blinded Bird by Thomas Hardy

So zestfully canst thou sing?
And all this indignity,
With God's consent, on thee!
Blinded ere yet a-wing
By the red-hot needle thou,
I stand and wonder how
So zestfully thou canst sing!

Resenting not such wrong,
Thy grievous pain forgot,
Eternal dark thy lot,
Groping thy whole life long;
After that stab of fire;
Enjailed in pitiless wire;
Resenting not such wrong!

Who hath charity? This bird.
Who suffereth long and is kind,
Is not provoked, though blind
And alive ensepulchred?
Who hopeth, endureth all things?
Who thinketh no evil, but sings?
Who is divine? This bird.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Ⓥ My cheese free vegan pizza on Vegan Pizza Day

Yesterday, Gramondo told me that it was Vegan Pizza Day on Saturday 29th June. So, I thought it was as good a reason as any to have another pizza. Recently I have stopped using vegan cheese on my pizza and have found that I don't miss it at all.

Last week we put in an order with Essential Trading Coop and amongst other things ordered Sunita organic olives and Organico organic artichokes. So, I put some of those on, together with only basic ingredients, tomato puree, onion, garlic, red pepper, mushroom, olive oil and seasoning. I keep telling myself that in regards to pizza, less is definitely more. Most of the time, I usually end up putting too much on, but this time I think I nearly cracked it.

For the base, I use my Panasonic bread making machine, which always makes a consistently good dough, without much effort from myself.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Ⓥ Attempting a Divine Vegan Dessert recipe - Raw chocolate mousse

I am having a mini spurt of cooking enthusiasm, so I thought I would have a go at a raw chocolate cake, from Divine Vegan Desserts, by Lisa Fabry. I am calling it a raw chocolate mousse and not the actual recipe name of Black Forest gateau, because I decided to be lazy and only make a basic version of the cake in the book.  My thought was, that I would do a basic version and try it, then if I liked it, I would do the luxury version at a later date, probably for a special occasion.

I thought I would show you the mess I created before showing you my raw dessert.

There are two parts to the basic version, macadamia fudge crumble and chocolate hazelnut mousse.

Ingredients for the Black Forest gateau are:

Base: Macadamia nuts, cacao powder, carob powder, vanilla, medjool dates, agave nectar, salt

Mousse: Hazelnuts, cacao powder, carob powder, vanilla, medjool dates, maple syrup, salt, soy lecithin, coconut oil, psyllium.

For the base, its very easy, all you have to do is blend everything together a bit at a time.

The mousse is slightly more complicated, because you have to make hazelnut milk first.  It's straight forward  enough to do.  You just soak the nuts, blend them with a measured amount of water and then strain it through muslin and squeeze out as much milk as you can.

I will be honest, I didn't use all the exact ingredients listed above.  I used cashews instead of macadamia, I didn't use the carob but added extra cacao, I used ordinary dates, not medjool and substituted the agave with maple syrup.  This was partly because I am a bit short of cash and also with the nuts, because I preferred to buy organic and could not find organic macadamia nuts.  Mind you, thinking about it, macadamia nuts are really expensive conventionally grown, so I shudder to think how expensive they would be organically grown.

So, all in all it was very easy to make, even without owning a proper food processor and having to make do with a hand blender.  I left it in the fridge over night to set and cut off a slice in the morning to try.  Wow! It's truly impressive, a creamy chocolatey mousse contrasted with the nutty base, it was far beyond my expectations, even with my few tweaks to the ingredients, so I imagine it would be even better with the macadamias etc.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Ⓥ Artisan Vegan Cheese - Pub Cheddar with Chives

Since I blogged the Air Dried Cheddar  he  recipe in January, I have been going through the Artisan Vegan Cheese book, albeit very slowly, testing various recipes.  Apart from the Smoked Provolone Cheese, (I have realised I don't like smokey flavours in general), I have really enjoyed every one I have made. Gramondo has enjoyed all of them, so we are both very impressed with the book and would highly recommend that you get yourself a copy.

So, here is another cheese from the book to take a look at.

I set Gramondo the task, to find me an ale to use in the recipe.  He did very well, finding one in the Co-op that was not only a vegan ale, but an organic, Fairtrade and vegan ale.  The ale is brewed for The Co-op by the Freeminer Brewery in the Royal Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.  The malted barley is grown in the Cotswolds and on Salisbury Plain and handcrafted by Warminster Maltings - Britain’s oldest working floor maltings.

First stage is to soak the cashew nuts for 3 to 8 hours.  Then blend them, together with your rejuvelac,
miso, yeast flakes and salt.  You have to leave this to do its thing for 24 to 28 hours at room temperature (about 67f/19c).

Next stage is to thicken the cheese.  You heat the ale, together with the agar powder and then add the cheese.  After you have been stirring it for about five minutes, it becomes smooth and glossy.  You then remove it from the heat and add your chives, I used dried as I could not find fresh.

Pour into a glass mould and allow to cool.

Artisan Vegan Cheese