August 28, 2014

Vegan Tofu Quiche

I never liked omelettes, fried eggs or egg salad sandwiches. I had a thing about eating the yolk. I don’t know why but it really wigged me out. Maybe I intrinsically knew how gross eggs are. Quiche therefore wasn’t even an option for me and I hated my mom’s potato salad for the same reason.

One day (I actually know the exact day- Halloween 1997- and I was sitting on my sister’s porch and she was curling my blonde wig for my Marilyn Monroe costume) out of nowhere I said “I want mom’s potato salad.” This was a dish I had dodged for years at barbeques, family picnics and holidays. It was full of potatoes (duh), pickles, onions and yes eggs.

To this day it is one of my favourite dishes (my mom is happy to adapt it for individual needs). After this revelation I became open to other egg-related dishes and when I was 19 I tried quiche for the first time. Honestly it was full of things I love: broccoli, cheese and pastry goodness. After that I was hooked.

Now that I am trying to cut out dairy products I am trying to find new recipes for my old favourites. I have been perusing the vegan blog “Oh She Glows” for months bookmarking yummy dishes and having very good intentions of making them.

Yesterday I was looking for a healthy dinner recipe and I opted to try the Sun-dried Tomato, Mushroom, and Spinach TofuQuiche. I really loved the idea of using almonds and oats for the base. It turned out to be fairly sweet and would probably make a good cheesecake base.

It was also the first time I’ve baked with tofu. I’ve cooked with it but creaming tofu was a new experience. I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms but when I had all the ingredients simmering in the wok I couldn’t stop myself from taking bite after bite- quality control I assure you.

I was really surprised by how flavourful the filling was even without the “nutritional yeast,” which I couldn’t find in the shop. I’ve never had it before and I had to Google it when I saw it in the recipe. It evidently adds a cheesy flavour to sauces but I can tell you the filling really didn’t need it.

All together this was a very successful recipe (I didn’t follow all the measurements exactly as I tend to just eyeball it). My husband really liked it and proceeded to have the leftovers for lunch and again for dinner. Oh She Glows is a really inspiring blog for a new non-diary cook/baker and I will for sure be making more things for her recipes in the future.

August 19, 2014


Last weekend we had friends visiting from Belfast and after our intended plans went askew we decided to head to Brighton for an overnight stay. We were supposed to go to to the Jabberwocky music festival to see some cool bands but the festival was cancelled at the last minute (stupid ATP!!!!).

We headed to West Sussex on Sunday after a late-night at Vinopolis in London. So slightly hungover I drove the two-hours and we got in at 2pm. We followed our fearless leader Matt who was very adept at getting us around the town.

We stopped for lunch at the Green Chair and I had a yummy veggie burger with halloumi and pesto. MMM. Then we wandered the Laines and found some amazing shops (I could have bought everything in Edited and Zoing Image).

I was really surprised by Brighton. I expected it to be a quaint, posh seaside town like Aldeburgh or Southwold, but it was very run-down in parts and had a large homeless population. I liked that it was a bit grittier than Aldeburgh and I fell in love with all the veggie/vegan restaurants and food stores. There is even a vegetarian shoe store!

Brighton also has a large gay community and we wandered into a block of flats and shops lined with rainbow flags. We stopped down this road at The Black Dove for an afternoon cocktail (I had the Paloma). The decor was so dark and eclectic but I felt it would have been more at home in Tennessee. It just had that Appalachian feel. The downstairs had a room (which was really creepy when I was the only one in there) where I imagined a Nina Simone-esque singer croning through the thick cigarette smoke.

We then made our way to the sea where Matt decided to take off his shoes to dip his feet in the water and then preceded to get soaked by a large wave. Up on the pier Matt spent a large amount of 10p coins trying to win Minions (all the call machines seemed to have the Despicable Me characters). I tried once then gave up in frustration. Instead I opted to spend £3 for 5 minutes on a trampoline. Two minutes in I was exhausted- seriously it was hard work. I could spend hours jumping when I was a kid.

After another round of cocktails at Laines Brewery we headed to The Blue Man for North African Tapas and a lot of wine. The food was pretty good. I had most of the veggie tapas to myself and I think their tortilla was the best I've ever had. The hummus however was a bit bland. After my husband was hit on by the barman (he wanted him to move to Brighton!) we left after a few hours.

We stayed at the Best Western on the main seaside road. It was acceptable but by no means nice. My prerequisite was my own bathroom and a bed so I can't really complain. It was cheap. We left the next morning after a very hungover breakfast of toast.

I would definitely go back to Brighton. I'd like more time to explore- especially the shops and the restaurants. Maybe next time someone will hit on me!

August 11, 2014

Butternut Squash Katsu Curry

For over a decade now my signature dish has been Chicken Katsu Curry. When I was a student in London in 2003 Wagamamas was the restaurant du jour for poor students and the CKC was by far my favourite. When I went back to uni in New York I craved katsu curry like nothing else. So after a few trial and errors I found a way to make it (and I think its better than the original, but I may be biased).

Since I've stopped eating meat this dish has been off the menu, much to my husband's disappointment. A month or so ago we went to a street food market in london called Kerb and I got Pumpkin Katsu Curry. I was really surprised, not by how good it was because I have long loved pumpkin, but by how well the pumpkin held its structure.

So for the past few weeks I've been scouring the internet for recipes for pumpkin curry. There are loads out there but in the end I decided I'd make it exactly the way I make Chicken Katsu Curry but with one difference- I used 'vegan eggs' aka flaxseeds as the binding agent. I again am amazed at the powers of the flaxseed. I think it binded better than eggs.

Now I should say that I am of the mind that anything that comes packaged is bad and there is probably a way to make it better (and more healthily) yourself. This includes things from fajita and chilli mix (seriously this just takes about 6-10 spices that you probably already have in your spice rack) to cake and brownie mixes (I grew up using these but now everything bake is from scratch and therefore much better. It is so ingrained in my family that the last time I was home and I made my brownies- which are amazing if I do say so myself- and my sister asked what box mix I used! Pah!!).

That being said I have never found a way to make the golden curry sauce that is as good as this one. I will endeavour to find a good recipe one day but until then I will go to the Asian food store and use this one. Honestly when I open the package it fills the entire room with magic curry aromas that if you're not careful to fully clean-up after cooking will continue to fill the room the next day when curry smells may not be as welcomed.

Seeing as how it is August there was nary a pumpkin to be found and instead I used butternut squash. As every good southern girl knows, the secret to good fried chicken is coating it with seasoned flour before putting it in the egg mixture. After I cut the squash I dipped it in wholemeal flour then into the flaxseed and water mixture then into the Panko (Japanese bread crumbs that are a must for this recipe). I was really chuffed with how well the Panko stuck to the squash (which I par-boiled for five minutes but will probably not do the next time as the squash was a little too soft).

Then I baked the squash until the Panko was golden brown. We paired it with brown rice, golden curry sauce, and the all important edamame (soy beans- mmm).

I was really happy that I was able to adapt my recipe to be vegetarian- well I guess it was actually vegan. I think the squash was probably a little too sweet and I needed to slice it thinner but it was still good. I definitely want to try again when the pumpkin comes into season.

August 8, 2014

Egg-less Banana French Toast

So I woke up at a friend's house on Sunday morning very hungover, tired and hungry. All I wanted was French toast or American style pancakes. Unfortunately not every cafe sells such breakfasty goodness and instead I settled for a croissant.

But I couldn't shake the craving. I was able to make an egg-less French toast using a banana, flaxseeds, vanilla bean extract, cinnamon and skim milk (the recipe was actually for vegan French toast but I was out of unsweetened almond milk and used lactose-free skim milk instead).

The result was tasty and French toast-esque. I used multi-seeded bread that I think was too thin and long because I had trouble getting it well cooked in the centre. I used coconut oil because I think its far better than olive oil when making sweet things, though I do use it on savouries too. The edges of the bread were pretty good though. The banana caramelised and helped the firming up of the bread. And I topped it off with a little pure maple syrup (I don't use Aunt Jemima or any other syrup that uses high-fructose corn syrup- yuck).

I would totally make these again but I'd like to try the vegan version. I'm starting to think that I could give up eggs altogether, which I'm pretty excited about. Now if only I could work on my cheese addiction.

August 4, 2014

Felt Up at the Cornershop

Billy and I spent the weekend with friends in London and our only prerequisite was to see some culture. There wasn't anything more specific. Usually that means a visit to the Tate Modern or the Barbican but this time we headed to Bethnal Green.

Artist Lucy Sparrow used kickstarter to fund some of the project that turned an abandoned cornershop into, well, a cornershop. Instead of cardboard and plastic packaging, the shop was instead filled literally with polyfill covered with felt. Felted crisps, cigarettes, condoms, newspapers etc. It had the same feel as a cornershop so the artist obviously did a lot of research or like most of us, she probably made many last minute trips to pick up things left off the grocery list or for a late-night sugar craving.

It was an interesting installation, but I found it hard to decide if it was 'art' or if it was 'craft.' I could totally have made anything in the shop (isn't that what most people say of art in galleries though regardless of artistic ability) and I probably did make similar items in elementary school. Not to dis the artist but I did leave wondering whether it was cool or weird, regardless though if you're in Bethnal Green its worth a look.

August 1, 2014

Courgette Muffins

Two posts in a week! Whoa what's going on here? I guess I'm feeling inspired.

At my first photo assignment this morning I was given some courgettes (aka zucchini) and I felt I could try to make something I'd never made before. I have been making sugar-free ice cream and raw treats over the past few months but I've never baked anything. I've also never baked without eggs.

I use ground flax seeds mixed with water, which is known as vegan eggs, to make a gelatinous liquid. I've used it to bind dishes like my spicy bean burgers and it works great. I don't think I will ever go back to baking with eggs again and the best part is that I can like the spoon without fear of food poisoning!

Now, just because something is sugar-free doesn't mean it is low calorie. There are a lot of sweeteners on the market but I don't used anything refined or filled with crazy chemicals (hello Splenda). For this recipe I used Agave. There is a lot of criticism of Agave as a natural sweetener but I usually avoid it for its high calorie content. I usually opt for Truvia, which is a form of Stevia.

The muffins came out okay. The texture was perfect. It was moist on the inside and crunchy on top. The problem was with the olive oil. I don't know if the recipe (which I adapted from this one) called for any kind of olive oil. Maybe there was too much in it or maybe my olive oil is super strong but that is what the muffins mostly tasted like. You could barely taste the other ingredients. So this is pretty much a fail, though my husband has just come home and is eating them so maybe not. I will try to make these again sometime will less/different oil.