Thursday, 21 April 2011

Chocolate Cornflake Crunchies (Vegan)

chocolate cornflake crunchies in cake cases
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As it's nearly Easter and the kids are at home for the holidays, we thought we'd make some simple, cheap (and vegan) Chocolate Cornflake Crunchies*.

As we're not vegan, we topped them with mini milk-chocolate eggs, but you could obviously leave them off or use a dairy-free alternative, if you're vegan.

I generally double this recipe to make 16 cakes.
  • 50g/2oz margarine
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 50g/2oz demerara sugar (I use soft brown sugar)
  • 1 tbsp/½ oz unsweetened cocoa powder (I double this to make them more chocolaty)
  • 50g/2 oz cornflakes
Put margarine, syrup, sugar and cocoa into a saucepan. Heat gently until the margarine has melted (I bring the mixture to the boil to make the mixture more syrupy). 
Add the cornflakes and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until coated with the chocolate syrup. Place spoonfuls of the mixture in to paper cases and leave for an hour or two until cold and set.

*Recipe taken from The Children's Cookery Book by Zita Alden and Yvonne Bourbon (out of print). Pin It

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Hummus (Vegan)

Image © Onykahonie
I know some people think that life's too short to make their own hummus, but I thought I'd have a go anyway. If you like super-smooth hummus it takes a little time to make, but it's way cheaper than shop bought and tastes just as good, if not better! Look out for cheap chickpeas in the world food aisle of you local supermarket, or save even more money by soaking and cooking dried chickpeas.
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Grated zest and juice of ½ a lemon
  • 3 tbsp light tahini paste
  • A good pinch each of ground black pepper, cumin and paprika (or more to taste)
  • 2-4 tbsp extra lemon juice or boiled water to thin, if needed 
Empty the chickpeas into a blender. Add all the rest of the ingredients and start to blend.
Stop every few seconds and stir the mixture. Add some extra liquid, if needed.
Repeat until you have the consistency you like.
Chill until needed and serve with warm pitta bread.

Suitable for freezing.

Alternatives: You can make hummus with just about any pulses, such as cannellini beans, butter beans or haricot beans. You will generally need to add less liquid, as these beans are softer than chickpeas. Pin It

Monday, 18 April 2011

Vegetarianism-ism

Have you ever been a victim of vegetarianism-ism?
Chances are that if you're a vegetarian by choice, then you have. There are laws to protect most minority groups from discrimination, abuse and ridicule (and rightly so) but what about human rights for vegetarians? 

Of course, many vegetarians have dietary requirements related to their culture or religion and they are protected by anti-discrimination laws, but for those of us who choose vegetarianism for secular reasons, we apparently have to put up with derision for our beliefs.

Take for example my daughters Miss Ony and Miss Kahonie; They've been shown pity, ridicule and downright rudeness by their peers and some 'grown ups'...this behaviour has even bordered on that of persistent bullying and I am currently poised to go into school and complain about this. Their peers have told them that they should eat meat and have sneered at their discomfort in defending their beliefs publicly. They've had meat waved under their noses at lunch time, and been told how delicious dead animal flesh tastes. Can you imagine them getting away with pushing drugs or alcohol at school? Well to me, this isn't so different.

Meat is something that I have chosen to do without and have brought my children up accordingly. To us, eating a burger is comparable to eating our pet cat or next door's budgie.Talking of burgers, how come a certain well known burger chain doesn't think that vegetarian kids exist? Come to mention it, Virgin Atlantic don't either.

I've been veggie for around 20 years now and have become used to defending my beliefs and my right to bring up my children on a vegetarian diet. I politely stand my ground and explain that we do not 'miss out' and that there really are plenty more delicious foods than chicken nuggets (the staple food for UK kids, it would seem!) People seem fascinated in what we do and don't eat, and seem to want to try to trick us up. If you're interested, no, we don't eat fish, and yes, we do eat free-range/organic eggs and milk.

 If all else fails, I tell them that we don't eat anything with a face or that we forage in the hedgerows for nuts and berries which normally shuts them up! Goodness knows how much stick we'd get if we were vegans!

If you want support and advice for bring up a veggie family, then try the Vegetarian Society. They have loads of helpful fact sheets, recipes and a forum. Pin It

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Easy Naan Recipe

Naans are really quite cheap and easy to make at home. I've included a vegan version for those who want a dairy-free option.
You really do need to find black onion seeds to get an authentic taste. These are normally available in the world foods section of larger supermarkets, and in Asian stores.
  • 3 cups strong white plain (bread) flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fast action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp black onion/kalonji seeds
  • 1 tbsp honey/golden syrup
  • 4 tbsp plain yogurt/dairy-free yogurt
  • 1 tbsp melted butter/dairy-free spread
  • ¾ cup cold water
Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix in the yogurt, honey and butter.
Gradually add the water and mix well until you have a smooth, but not sticky dough (add a little more flour or water if needed).
Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place to prove for an hour or so.
Preheat the grill to high and grease a baking tray.
Divide the dough into around 8 pieces and roll into 10cm (approx) circles.
Place 2 or 3 circles of dough onto the baking tray at a time, and cook under the grill for a few minutes on each side until puffed up and brown.
Leave to cool on a wire rack or keep warm in a low oven until you are ready to serve them.

Suitable for freezing.

Alternatives: Make in a bread maker using the dough setting. Pin It

Friday, 8 April 2011

Fried Aubergine/Eggplant with Herbs and Garlic (Vegan)

 © 
This is a recipe which I've adapted from the Greek Vegetarian by Diane Kochilas. Serves 4 as a starter or side dish.
  • 2 aubergines cut into 2-3cm chunks
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped (or 1 tsp dried mint)
  • 25g/1oz vegan Parmesan-style topping such as Parmazano (or grated vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese for non-vegans).
Fry the aubergine in batches in the olive oil, until soft and golden brown.
When all the aubergine is cooked, return to the pan and add the oregano, mint, garlic and vinegar.
Simmer on a low heat for around 3-5 minutes, until soft and tender. 
When cooked, sprinkle with the cheese/cheese substitute (optional).

Alternatively, marinate the aubergine in oil, vinegar, garlic and herbs. Thread onto skewers and cook on the barbecue.

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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The alternative to party bags

pretty mugs filled with sweets
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I'm not claiming that this is an original idea, but I hadn't seen a decent tweenage/older kids alternative to traditional party bags until my daughter came back from a friend's party with a mug in her hand. It wasn't just any old mug... it was a mug filled with goodies and wrapped in cellophane, which looked great and went down well with 12 year old Miss Ony.

As it was Miss Kahonie's birthday pretty soon afterwards, I unashamedly stole the idea and made up 'party mugs' for her party guests.

The pretty mugs were a great buy from B&M Bargains at 79p each. To fill the mugs, I bought a bag of mixed mini chocolate bars (£2.99) and a bag of mixed wrapped sweets (£1.50), plus a pack of assorted hairbands and bobbles (reduced in ADSA to £2.00). The only expensive part was the cellophane, which I bought from Hobbycraft (£7.00 a roll) but that will last for a long time as I only used about 2M of the 10M roll. The total price per mug worked out at around £2.50, which I don't think is bad compared to the amount I've spent on total rubbish to fill party bags in the past!

You could easily adapt the mug idea for different friends and  family members and for almost any occasion such as Easter, Christmas, Birthday and Teachers'/Teaching Assistants' presents. Fill with items such as cosmetics, craft items, beads/jewellery, small toys, cooking equipment, tools, stationary etc. Add some home made Chocolate Truffles or Oreo Truffles, if you're not sure what to fill your mug with.

Fill other containers using the same idea...colourful pastic cups (from IKEA etc) cocktail glasses, sundae glasses, beer glasses, small vases etc, or really go to town and fill a hamper!

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Friday, 1 April 2011

Vegetarian and vegan barbecue recipes

There's nothing like the taste of barbecued food, but us vegetarians and vegans sometimes get raw deal (excuse the pun) in the barbecue department.

If eating with non-veggie friends and family, we might find that we can't cook our food on the BBQ at all, as it's full to bursting with slabs of meat, so our food gets relegated to the oven; Or if we are catered for on a separate barbie, we have the choice between a veggie burger or a sausage. Now, I know these are by far the easiest vegetarian options to BBQ, and they taste pretty good, but there are plenty more inventive and delicious options out there...

Halloumi cheese and vegetable kebabs
Thread chunks of halloumi, onion, mushroom, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, courgette etc onto skewers. Drizzle with oil before cooking on the BBQ.
(Vegan option - vegetable kebabs, marinated tofu/no halloumi.)

Baked feta in foil
Finely slice one onion and two green peppers. Divide the vegetables between 4 squares of foil. Cut the feta in four. Place a piece of cheese on top of each pile of vegetables.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with dried oregano/mixed herbs. Fold up foil tightly and place on the BBQ for 15 minutes. Warm pitta breads, spilt open and then fill with the feta and vegetables.
(Vegan option - baked vegetables topped with basil tofu.)

Barbecued portabello mushrooms
Brush mushrooms with olive oil, cook on one side, then turn over and top with a slice of cheese - goats cheese, halloumi or a strong cheddar work well. Cook for a few more minutes to heat the cheese through.

(Vegan option - mushrooms topped with vegan cheese, chutney or salsa.)

Stuffed bell peppers
Cut peppers in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Fill with packet/microwave rice or cous cous, drizzle with oil, wrap in foil and then place on the barbecue for around 20 minutes, turning twice.

Flavour combinations to mix into the the rice/cous cous, before cooking:

  • A good pinch of cinnamon and a handful of raisins and pine nuts.
  • 1 tsp garam masala and some drained, tinned chickpeas.
  • 1 tsp oregano and a handful of chopped olives.
  • 1 tsp basil and 1 tbsp sundried tomato paste.
Veggie tikka kebabs
Mix 1 tbsp of tandoori/tikka spice mix or paste with 2 tbsp vegetable oil and 1 tbsp lemon juice. Marinade your choice of paneer/Quorn/meat-free chunks/very firm tofu for an hour (in the fridge). Thread onto skewers. Bbq for 10 minutes, turning 2-3 times..

Corn on the cob
Place each cob on a piece of foil. Drizzle with olive oil or add a knob of butter. Wrap tightly and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally. To speed up up cooking time, microwave (covered with cling film) for 3-4 minutes, before bbqing.

Vegan garlic bread
Mix 50g/2oz dairy-free spread with 1 crushed clove of garlic and a good pinch of dried mixed herbs. Cut a ciabatta or small baguette in half, lengthwise. Spread the garlic butter on both cut sides. Sandwich together and wrap in foil. BBQ for 10 minutes turning occasionally. Brown off by placing directly on the grill for the last couple of minutes.


Other recipes suitable for the bbq



My camping food page contains more ideas suitable for alfresco eating.


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