Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Vegan chocolate cake

No eggs, no butter, no nothin'

Sooo, I haven't posted anything up for...well, quite a long time actually. In my defence, I had exams and, err...other stuff. Anyhoo, let's move on.


As you may, or may not be aware, the Bear is a scientist. He does science-y things all day, with other science-y people, and occasionally they all get together with some other science-y people and have a big science party with cake. (Cake of course being created by science...and magic.)

This is what is happening tomorrow.

One of the science-y attendees happens to be vegan, and so, being the amazing girlfriend that I am, I made a vegan chocolate cake so the poor vegan scientist did not have to miss out.

I should probably caveat this now: I have not tried this cake. I do not know if it tastes any good. I tried some of the uncooked cake batter (no eggs = no salmonella. WIN!) and it was deeeelicious though, so I'm guessing the final, fully-cooked cake is good too. I will report back once the cake has actually been eaten.


*N.B. The crazy refers to the carrots, dates and other weird ingredients, not the vegan-ness.

100g dates
200ml boiling water
150ml sunflower oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
75g chopped pecans
150g grated carrot
150g caster sugar
175g strong white bread flour
3 tbsp cocoa
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp baking powder

For the icing:
150g icing sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
2tbsp boiling water
pecans, to decorate

Soak the dates in the water for 10 minutes. Add the oil and vinegar to the water and dates and blend. 

Mix the date paste with the sugar, pecans and carrot.

Add flour, spices, cocoa and baking powder and mix.

Divide between 2 tins and bake @ 180c for 25 minutes.

When the cakes are cool, combine the icing ingredients and use the icing to sandwich the 2 cakes together, then spread the remainder on top and decorate with pecans.


I just hope if doesn't taste like crap. For the good of science.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Amazing Falafel

Oh yum.

Falafel are amazing. So tasty, so healthy, so CHEAP...what's not to love?

Falafel in pitta bread

Serves 2

1 tin chickpeas
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp turmeric
1 small green chilli
1 shallot
s + p
olive oil
1 tbsp gram flour
1 tbsp plain flour

To serve:
Pitta bread

Finely chop the chilli, garlic and shallot. Put in a bowl with the spices, seasoning and chickpeas. Mash the chickpeas with a fork until you have a chunky paste-like consistency. Mix in the plain flour. Divide the mixture into four and form each quarter into a flat pattie. Dust the patties with the gram flour and stick in the fridge for 10 mins.

Nice n crispy now...

Fry the falafel in some olive oil for about 10 mins on each side, until crispy. Stick your cooked falafel in toasted pitta with some chopped rocket, mayo and ketchup and tuck into your frugal feast.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Weekly menu 20/11/11 - Veggie week

I feel like perhaps I've perhaps been over-doing it a bit recently. Sometimes it's nice to give your body a bit of a break, and I guess that's the rationale behind having a week of vegetarian dinners. I'm also going to take it as an opportunity to have a break from the booze and the cigs. I'm going to be positively virtuous.

The really great thing about resolving to cook only vegetarian stuff, is that it forces you to get a bit more creative with the stuff you serve up. There's no simple meat + veg + carb formula to revert to.

Here's what I've got planned this week:


Warm salad of black salsify, mushrooms and goats' cheese

Falafels in pitta bread with rocket salad

Penne with brocolli pesto and avocado (inspired by this recipe from Nutmegs; Seven -

Spinach and sweet potato coconut curry with rice

Butternut squash, chilli and halloumi frittata


Quinoa, herb-roasted butternut squash and rocket salad with a clementine dressing

Sweet potato, butternut squash and chilli soup

Hummus with pitta bread and carrot sticks

Peanut noodle salad


Oats soaked in blueberry yoghurt mixed with grated apple

Delicious purple goo

Friday, 18 November 2011

Mutton hotpot and a breakfast of leftovers

Hot (pot) to trot

Like Lancashire hotpot, but without the kidneys. I'm pretty good with offal nowadays but kidneys...well, I've had some unpleasant experiences with kidneys. Maybe one day...

Mutton hotpot

Loosely based on a recipe for Lancashire hotpot by James Martin, available here:

Serves 3 (The Bear and I had this for dinner one night, then he took the leftovers to work for his lunch the next day.)

500g diced mutton
olive oil
a small knob of butter
1/2 an onion
2 small carrots
1 tsp dried thyme
s + p
1 tsp marmite
2 tbsp plain flour
1 mug of chicken stock
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
about 500g potatoes

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C.

Brown the mutton in a large casserole pan (one which can go in the oven and has a lid) with the olive oil, seasoning and butter. Finely chop the onion and carrot and add these to the pan with the dried thyme. Fry for about 10 mins, then add the flour. Finally add the chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce and marmite. 

Slice the potatoes into roughly 2cm slices and arrange on top of your stew. In between layers of potato add seasoning and a few blobs of butter.

Put the lid on your casserole dish and bung in the oven for one and a half hours. Remove the lid (don't forget to use oven gloves!) for the last 1/2 hour or so of cooking to crisp up the potates. We ate ours with some leeky greens made by sauting some leeks in butter and adding to some boiled savoy cabbage. T'was yum.

Dinner is served...

On another note, we had a lot of leftovers hanging around our fridge, so I turned them into a rather lavish breakfast: leftover savoy cabbage,  roast potatoes, carrots and parsnips became bubble and squeak - perfect with a squirt of brown sauce and topped with a poached egg - and leftover sharon fruit compote got whizzed up into a sharon fruit and banana smoothie. A pretty good start to the day if I do say so myself.

"How do you like your eggs in the morning?" With bubble and squeak. And brown sauce.  And smoothie. And NOW.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Cajun dirty rice


What to do with a bag of chicken giblets? Why, make some dirty rice of course. This is a good recipe even for the offal-phobic, as the chicken in chopped into tiny pieces.

Cajun dirty rice

Serves 2

1 chicken heart 
1 chicken liver
2 lumps of chicken fat (came in the bag with the giblets)
1/2 an onion
1 yellow pepper
3 sticks of celery
about an inch of chorizo
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
s + p
chicken stock (I made mine using the chicken carcass left over from our roast dinner, the chicken neck, about a quarter of a leek, a stick of celery and a carrot)

Put the chicken fat in a saucepan and render. Finely dice the onion, celery, yellow pepper and chorizo. Add the vegetables, orgeano, paprika, cayenne, seasoning  and chorizo to the pan and sweat over a low heat for about 20 minutes. 

Sweated to the max.

Cook the rice in chicken stock until fully absorbed.

Finely dice the chicken heart and liver, turn up the heat and add to the pan with the vegetables. Once cooked, mix in the rice. Snip over a few celery leaves to serve.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Penne with chilli, anchovy and roasted romanesco cauliflower

Why hello there dinner.

So, when I found out we were getting one of these crazy beautiful vegetables in our weekly veg box, I wanted to use it in a dish in which it could take centre stage. This pasta is what I came up with.

I'm ready for my close-up...

It may not look anything particularly special, but this pasta dish sure tastes like it. Even though the pasta tubes look plain, in reality they are coated in spicy, garlicky anchovy flavour. I decided on roasting the romanesco as I recently discovered the magical transformation that takes place when you roast normal cauliflower - if you think cauliflower is a bit bland, you should really try it roasted - and using romaneco worked just as well. Don't be concerned by the gnarly burnt looking bits when you take the romanesco out the oven - these bits taste like AWESOME.

This could possibly be my new favourite pasta. Big words, people.

Penne with  chilli, anchovy and roasted romanesco cauliflower

Serves 2

Normal olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves
3 anchovy fillets + the oil from the tin
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 small romanesco cauliflower
1 tbsp capers
Black pepper
Penne, to serve

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Break up the romanesco into florets and mix in a roasting tin with the normal oil and the chilli. Place in the oven and roast for about 20 mins or until tender. 

Add the oil from the anchovies to a saucepan and fry the garlic and the anchovies until the fish has dissolved into the oil. Take off the heat, add a little extra virgin olive oil for flavour, the capers and plenty of ground black pepper. Mix the roasted romanesco into the oil mixture.

Mix everything with some cooked penne (or any other pasta you desire) and stuff your face.