Monday, 5 September 2011

The Last of Summer!

It has suddenly hit me that my daughter (Winnie) is going to be 4 at the end of October and that October isn‘t actually that far away now. Winnie has been organising her birthday party for so long now that it started to feel like it was never going to happen but now I see that it’s my turn to start thinking of ways to make her creative ideas come to life.

Winn decided right at the start that her party would be a Doctor Who and fairy themed party and gave me a clear design of what the cake should look like along with a couple of other things she thinks will happen when The Doctor meets the fairies (mainly involving flowered hats and cheeky fairy tricks). I’m currently brain storming for food and decorating ideas so if any of you have any ideas I’d be happy to hear them!!

I decided to put up the recipe for the raw chocolate tart in this post as although the weather is being unpredictable it does seem clear that we are very much coming to the end of our beautiful summer days and so I thought it was a good time to get that one last hit of summer with this indulgent yet fresh and super healthy tart!

I have always adored the combination of chocolate and strawberries and it’s always something I indulged in when spending long hours reading Harry Potter and it is the spark of this memory that inspired me to create the following recipe.

The chocolate filling is something I’d been using for a while and keeping in the fridge to use either as a sandwich spread, fruit dip or just a yummy chocolate pudding and I really like how this recipe just takes it that bit further.

*recipe note* Make sure your avocados are fully ripe if not you won’t get that really smooth and glossy filling that we’re looking for. Cost wise this is a pricy tart but to make it a little easier on the purse you can either half the recipe and make some mini tarts or replace 2 avocados with bananas which will obviously change the flavour but it will still be lovely. This tart is also lovely topped with fresh banana (especially if adding them to the filling also) or raspberry, do watch out if you use bananas though as they will brown over time.

Raw Chocolate and Strawberry Tart
I decided not to clear the table for this picture - Fear The Flesh not the tart!!!


Blender or food processor, tart base, mixing bowl, spoon, knife, chopping board, scales, fork for mixing

For the butter-free almond base:


12oz raw almonds

2oz desiccated coconut

3oz dates

4tbsp hot water


1/ Pulse the almonds in a blender until they are a course crumb with only a few larger chunks remaining (no larger than ¼ of an almond) and transfer to a large mixing bowl. I only have a cheap blender and found I got the best results if I blended the almonds ¼ cup at a time.

2/ Chop the dates then blend them with the water until as smooth as you can get them.

3/ Mix the coconut in with the almonds then stir in the date puree with a large fork until the mixture is clumping together slightly.

4/ Tip the mixture into the tart dish and firmly push into the base and sides until you have a firm tart case that covers the whole of the tart dish.

For the filling:


4 ripe avocados (preferably haas, see recipe note above)
8 fl oz agave syrup
2 fl oz maple syrup
3 oz cocoa or cacao powder (if using cacao also add 2 tbsp cocoa butter)
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp rose extract
14oz (1 punnet) of fresh strawberries


1/ Blend the avocados until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor it’s best to use a stick blender as the mixture is too thick for a blender to process.

2/Add all the remaining ingredients (bar the strawberries and cocoa butter if using) and blend until smooth and glossy.

3/ If using the cocoa butter put it in a small bowl then place the small bowl in a larger bowl of hot water until the cocoa butter is in its liquid state then blend in with the rest of the ingredients.

4/ Spread mixture evenly into your prepared tart cases and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours (preferably over night).

5/ Top with fresh sliced strawberries and enjoy.

The main problem getting these pictures was trying to stop my little ones from stealing the food !

lalala - nothing to see here.....

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Goodbye Mister Potter

This is a long post but there is a lovely recipe at bottom so feel free to skip to the end if you’re short on time!

I have a feeling that my hopes to keep a fortnightly blog are much like my hopes to keep a tidy house - I mean well but it’s not something that I’m naturally good at!! However, as with the tidy house, it is something I will learn with and get better as time goes on; it may not be perfect for a good while but I promise it will certainly reach an acceptable level.

Over these past….hummmm…let us not dwell on the actual amount of time but it is safe to say I have been a busy bunny. For those of you who follow Pro-Wrestling: EVE (the all female pro-wrestling company I run with my other half: Pro-Wrestling:EVE) you’ll know that we’ve been dealing with venue changes and all sorts of FABULOUS things like that! I won’t go into more details as I may start weeping and I’ve heard the tears of the exasperated are really bad for laptops. The past few weeks have been hard work and stressful but belief in the company keeps me going. I love that we’re able to showcase strong female role models along with a damn good show. Everyone seems to be talking about roller derby at the moment and it makes me laugh, I know those women are tough but they‘ve got anything on pro wrestlers (if you have doubts just stick on Beyond The Mat and you‘ll get what I mean). For those who want to see more you can check out the 10 roster members confirmed for the upcoming shows on October 8 & 9 that will now be held at Gym Combat, Nottingham here (WARNING: There is a 3.9% chance that Alpha Female will jump through the screen and eat you): EVE roster video.

Along with wrestling work I have been managing to get quite a lot of cooking done and have some laid back time too, among other things I’ve:

Had an indoor teddy bears picnic with the kids (the rain just wouldn’t stop!!)

Watched quite a lot of this (10 geek points for naming the correct episode)

Fled from Sudbury and the exploding car outside my house!! I have no picture of this as my country brain was too alarmed to remember such technological devices.

Celebrated my sisters wedding. This my favourite picture from the wedding as it’s so natural, such a genuine smile from my big sis and I love how emotional my new brother-in-law is looking.

Fed my children LOTS of chocolate

Then there is the most heart breaking thing and that was saying goodbye to Harry Potter. I know, I know - Harry Potter a bit of a marmite of the geek world. I’ve never actually been that big of a fan of the films but I appreciated them, I loved the designs, music and general feel of the movie if not what they decided to cut.
The books, however, have been a constant for me. I started reading them when they first came out, I was 11 years old and socially awkward but I was whisked away into this magical world and it’s been there for me ever since. Harry Potter was there was I took my GCSE’s, when I had my heart broken, when I battled CFS/ME (I suffered very badly from the age of 16 and up until recently spent the large majority of my time bed bound not even able to feed myself). When my friends, fed up of me always being ill and not much fun were not there Harry Potter was . I made new friends and met new people through a shared love of Harry Potter and it made me brave the geek world where I now feel so comfortable! I became a woman, fell in love and became a mother and Harry Potter was there the whole time happy to take me away to it’s magical world whenever I needed it. I picked up the last book when I was pregnant with my daughter and fantasised of the day I would get to read it to her; even going back and reading the books aloud to my bump!

I know it seems silly, the books will always be there for me but the last film made me realise that I don’t need the books in the same way any more. I am so lucky to have family and friends around me and to have made a life for myself where I don’t feel the need to escape anymore. I am happy. For this reason I decided to be brave, I went to the last film knowing in my mind that I would be saying goodbye to Harry Potter - goodbye to the support, the crutch that kept me going all those years. The world will always be there for me but now it will be a warm and welcoming embrace and no longer the strong hands stopping me falling into the abyss that I so often needed.

Harry Potter being so strongly in my mind influenced the food I was cooking and over the next few weeks I’d like to share with you the recipes that fondly remind me of Harry Potter. They are indulgent and old fashioned and obviously very British. For some reason Harry Potter always leaned more towards desserts for me but I do have one savoury dish that is my absolute must whenever I’m in a Harry Potter mood. Here’s what I have lined up:

Gainsborough Tart

I have no clue where this originated but I like to think that it was one of Gainsborough’s favourite tarts and was named after him. I actually work in Gainsborough’s sisters house and I can just imagine this deliciously sweet dessert being served up there! The recipe for this one is at the bottom of the blog.

Raw Chocolate and Strawberry Tart

This one isn’t old fashioned at all it’s just for some reason I always found myself eating fresh strawberries with chocolate sauce (in summer) or strawberry creams (at Christmas) while reading Harry Potter so the combination always takes me back!

Vegan Chicken and Ham Pie

Chicken and Ham Pie is mentioned in the books and was one of my favourites. It’s a recipe I’ve played around with a lot when it finally clicked that I should think more outside the box and I finally got that taste and filling combination I was looking for :-)

Harry’s Treacle Tart

How could this one be missed??? I’ve found it quite funny reading several blogs trying to ‘veganise’ treacle tart recipes. I did nothing to this recipe, it’s exactly (…well - I used wholemeal flour for the pastry base but you get my point!) as my Great Grandmother made it and I love it.

A recipe for a Gainsborough Tart follows. It’s an old favourite of mine, especially as I tend to have the ingredients to hand. It’s made with a thin and delicate pastry crust then filled with jam and a creamy vanilla middle and topped with coconut. It’s a perfect dessert summer or winter and goes particularly well with afternoon tea. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


For the pastry base:

Mixing bowl, spoon, rolling pin, Clingfilm, tart dish

8oz very fine wholemeal flour
2oz margarine
2oz vegetable shortening
1oz caster sugar
2tbsp cold water (add as necessary)


1/ Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Sift flour into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar

2/ Add the margarine and vegetable shortening in small (tsp sized) lumps and gently rub into the flour/sugar mixture until it resembles bread crumbs

3/ Add the water a small amount at a time and mix until the dough starts to stick together in a ball.

4/ Crush it twice with the palm of your hand on the work surface then sandwich between two sheets of Clingfilm.

5/ Roll out the dough until it’s roughly 3mm thick. The Clingfilm stretch a little while you roll and will prevent it from falling apart or sticking to the work surface.

6/ When it is the correct dimensions remove one of the sheets of Clingfilm and press pastry side down into the greased tart tin.

7/ Remove the top layer of Clingfilm and patch any gaps in your tart case as necessary. Poke some holes in the bottom with a fork and bake for 20mins at 220 degrees. Leave to cool while preparing the filling.

For The Filling:

Whisk or electric beaters, blender of any kind (to puree the silken tofu), large mixing bowl, tart dish, wooden spoon


5 tbsp Raspberry Jam (seedless) stirred
6oz margarine
6oz caster sugar
4oz silken tofu
6oz brown rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
Splash of non dairy milk as required
3oz desiccated coconut


1/ Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Blend the margarine and tofu together and add to your mixing bowl.

2/ Beat in the sugar and vanilla extract until the mixture is light and creamy in colour.

3/ Sift in the rice flour and baking powder and fold in until the mixture is nicely combined. The mixture should be the consistency of a thick cake batter, if it is too dry then mix in a small splash of non dairy milk then set aside.

4/ Put the raspberry jam into you prepared pie base and spread evenly with the back of a spoon. Pour over the rice flour mixture and even out the top if necessary.

5/ Sprinkle over the coconut and bake at 190 for 45-50 minutes until the filling no longer wobbles!

6/ Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. It is delicious both hot and cold.

above: Afternoon tea in the garden with a cup of yogi tea (rose tea) and a good sized slice of Gainsborough Tart

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A Gravy Fit For A King (or at least a Weasley King)!

It’s been a longer gap than I would have liked this time - my youngest has been poorly and my life got a little full with doctors visits, emergency doctors visits and not full enough with sleep! Thankfully he’s doing a lot better now - turns out he’s allergic to paracetamol which explains why the minor ear infection was causing such massive problems.

However, before all of this ill toddler panic, I was a very happy bunny as the fabulous weather decided to take a turn to the cool for a few days. I relished in the days of rain, storms and nippy breezes and dreamt of the autumn days to come. I’ve never been one of those typically English people who complains about the cold then complains that the summer is too hot - weather wise I do like to watch the seasons go by and I love the unpredictable nature of a good British summer but I just do not enjoy those super summer days that everyone else seems to relish in.

My other reason for loving autumn and winter is that I just LOVE the food that comes with the season, summer is all light food and snacking but I ADORE having a big plate filled with a hearty casserole or a perfect pie and piled high with a mountain of fluffy mash drizzled with too much gravy!

For the few days the weather was cooler I was in my element making lentil soup with fresh baked bread for lunch, a chickpea and tofu pie (my version of fish pie) and ending the cool spell with a personal favourite of sausage, mash and gravy.

I’ve decided to share with you my recipe for a fantastic mushroom gravy. It truly is scrumptious, easy to make and along with going well with a roast or the sausage and mash mentioned above it makes a great sauce and I often serve it with things like tofu and veg over a bed of quinoa.

Originally I wasn’t going to put this recipe up as I though ‘who wants a gravy recipe?’ but once I started working at my local health shop I was shocked at the number of vegetarians and vegans who didn’t know how to make a gravy and were reliant on nasty packet mixes filled with all sorts of chemicals or would just make up a vegetable stock cube to put with their dinner! After scribbling down the recipe a few time for customers and getting positive feed back I though it would be a good one to share with you.

This gravy is bold but not over-powering and I’ve served it to vegans and meat eaters alike and the recipe is always requested.

**One of the ingredients I use is ‘Shiitake mushroom powder’ now this isn’t actually anything I’ve ever seen for sale, what I do is to buy a bag of dried shiitake mushrooms, blend until fine then stick them back in the packet to store. You can use another dried mushroom if you’d like but PLEASE give it a go - it adds such a deep flavour you’ll end up adding a teaspoon here and there to all your favourite sauces then end up wondering how you ever got along without it! It works out well cost wise as also as although they are expensive to purchase you only use 1 - 2 tsp at a time so it will last **


Above: Taifun Herb Grill sausages served with mash potato, caramelised onions, peas, sweetcorn and the mushroom gravy. I’d added some butter beans to the gravy as we were all really hungry that night and they’re my daughters favourite but left to my own devices I would have added cannellini beans as I think they go really well with this meal.

Equipment needed:

Milk pan, wooden spoon, whisk (or just the wooden spoon for those with strong arms!), teaspoon, table spoon, measuring jug


1 tbsp non-dairy margarine
1 tbsp gram flour
2 ½ tsp shiitake mushroom powder **see note above**
½ tsp low salt stock powder
3 tbsp low salt soy sauce
½ tbsp balsamic vinegar (or cider vinegar)
300-400ml water
3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes


1. Melt margarine in pan on a low heat

2. Mix in the gram flour until it makes a smooth paste then mix in the mushroom powder and stock powder.

3. Increase the heat to medium/high and add the soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, stirring all the while.

4. Switch to using your whisk (this will prevent you ending up with a lumpy gravy) and start to gradually whisk in half of the water.

5. Let the gravy simmer for 3 - 5 mins on a low heat until it’s thickened then whisk in more of the water until the gravy is at the desired thickness.

6. When ready to serve switch off the heat and whisk in the nutritional yeast flakes.

If you’re really wanting the gravy to pack a mushroom punch try adding a drizzle of truffle oil just before serving.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Worzel's favourite dinner....probably.

What a scorcher hey??!!! I had planed to go to the Library and then for a picnic in the park with the kids today but we ended up hiding out in the cool of the library for several hours, snacking on sandwiches and tiffin thankful that the children’s section kept us hidden from the watchful eyes of the librarians!

While there we got a chance to have a really good look around and I managed to come a way with a couple of great traditional English cookbooks which are already calling at me to spend my days lost in them, notepad at the ready, to veganise some of my old favourites. Well….actually, that’s a bit of a lie as, bar cakes and puddings, my mum was really more of a ‘roast on Sunday, pasta bake on Monday, Sheppard’s pie on Tuesday, Mincemeat w/ pasta on Wednesday’ and ‘dear god kill me now -I can’t believe I can still remember the meal plan this is probably the reason why I rebel against any form of routine thrown my way’ on Wednesday (you get the picture!!).

When I say ‘my old favourites’ I should explain what I mean - I have always been a bookworm and when friends were off running around being naughty I was easily found in my room with several stacks of books (if not I was either watching wrestling or on my weekly pub/cinema visit) and it still makes me giggle that they used to push me to go out on dates when I was in college - probably not what most parents envision having to do!! So when I say that I’m going to ‘veganise some of my favourites’ what I’m talking about is the food that inspired me, the food that made me start taking a real interest in cooking, that conjures up such vivid memories of happy childhood for me and that is the food that I read about in the worlds of Enid Blyton and Harry Potter. These are the meals I would seek out when at restaurants or friends houses and why my first job, working at a hotel, was so exciting for me. I don’t think the chefs had ever seen anyone so excited to get a portion of chicken and ham pie (there was even treacle tart for pudding!!). These are the recipes I am seeking out to bring to you in vegan form as for me they are truly magical and I hope they turn out to be just that for you too.

I do have several ‘traditional’ recipes floating around already but sadly my old computer gave up on me and took the pictures with it :-( (I know, I know - I will always back up in future!!). So for now I’m giving what is still a very British recipe - a curry. Yes, I know, some people try and deny it but curries are as British as The Queen and this lovely creamy coconut curry doesn’t even resemble anything you might get in India! It’s a personal favourite of mine as it’s very easy to make and the use of dried beans means is a great store cupboard recipe. I also love that it has a yummy coconut cream flavour without having to go to the expense of coconut milk which seems to get more expensive by the day!

This recipe is a lovely way to work adzuki beans into your diet which are packed with magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, manganese and B vitamins. They’re known for being a great weight loss food as they’re low in fat and high in nutrients and can also help to lower blood pressure. They’re packed with soluble fibre which binds itself to toxins and cholesterol and can help to eliminate it from the body. For this reason they are know to be a very healing and cleansing bean but I just eat them for the nutrients and because they taste nice!

To stick with the magical theme the lovely Worzel Gummidge joined us for dinner - thankfully he kept his head on! We ended the meal with a cup o' tea and a slice o' cake.



2 medium sized bowls, 1 large saucepan with lid, blender/stick blender/ food processor, chopping board, knife & vegetable peeler


6oz adzuki beans, soaked over night

3oz coconut chips (or any unsweetened dried coconut0
2oz flaked or ground almonds (you can use whole almonds if you have a good food processor)
500ml warm water
1 tbsp of oil (preferably virgin coconut oil)
½ tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp rapadura or unrefined sugar
1 ½ tsp curry powder
1 ½ tsp garlic granules (or 3-4 cloves minced)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp onion granules (or 1 diced onion)
½ tsp seasoned salt or to taste
½ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp cinnamon

2 carrots, diced
1 sweet potato, diced


1/ Place the adzuki beans in a pan with fill with plenty of water (until there is roughly 3cm of water above the beans) bring to the boil then cover and simmer gently for 45mins or until the beans are tender. REMEMBER TO CHECK!!! The last thing you want to do is to just assume your beans are done and have to put up with a curry filled with crunchy beans!

2/ Meanwhile, place the rest of the ingredients bar the carrot and sweet potato (or the onion and garlic if using fresh) in a bowl and cover with the warm water. Leave to soak for 30-45 minutes.

3/ If using fresh onion and garlic: Fry the onions in a pan over a medium heat in 2 tbsp of oil until soft (around 8mins) add the garlic and cook over a low heat for 3 more minutes then set aside.

4/ After the coconut mix has finished soaking transfer to a blender and blend until smooth, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides. Once it is a smooth consistency set aside.

5/ Once the beans have cooked transfer them to a colander and rinse. Give the pan they cooked in a quick rinse then add the cooked beans back to the pan along with the coconut mixture, carrots and sweet potato (also add in the fresh garlic and onion if you opted to use them).

6/ Cover the pan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes until carrots and sweet potato are tender.

Serve with Chapattis or Basmati rice.


If you like a lot of sauce with your curry to get optimum dipping then add 300ml extra water and 2 tbsp of gram flour

For a beautiful curried soup simply blend all of the ingredients after they have all finished cooking, adding extra water if necessary.

For a more intense almond flavour try toasting the almonds in a dry pan first until they turn golden brown in colour.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

A post with one recipe and no excuse!

Well my word it’s been a long time! I’ve never been one for excuses and if we’re honest they tend to be quite dull so I’ll just jump right in!

I’ve been so busy lately I’ve barely stopped! If I haven’t been taking the kids to new clubs and activities then I’ve been working on EVE ( or writing/working on new recipes.

Somewhere along the line I also thought it would be great idea to buy both seasons of Dollhouse at once. Now, I may have mentioned that even after a life time of yoga and meditation practice I have never been the most patient lady - so when I do something such as buy a DVD box set or a new book the main objective for me is to finish it....Quickly. I’m the girl that waited in line at midnight for the Harry Potter books then didn’t sleep until I’d finished them! So, against my better judgement even though I set out saying ‘I’ll just watch one or two episodes a night’ I watched them all over roughly a 3 day period until I started to become doll-like myself.
Due to this and a couple of other ‘incidents’ (I HAD to catch up on the True Blood books!!) and the fact that I've started back at work for the first time in 4 years I thought I’d share with you one of my favourite quick and easy recipes that is coincidentally one of my families favourite dinners.

It’s a great dish full of summer time flavours and I love it as it uses un-pressed tofu so it’s a real time saver and great for those last minute dinners :-)


Equipment needed:

Chopping board, knife, 2 large non-stick roasting tins (or 2 large roasting tins lined with parchment paper), pastry brush, small bowl


1 500g pack of firm tofu, cut in squares roughly 1cm thick (tip - cut into rectangles first then cut in half)
1 Aubergine, sliced in 1cm rounds
2 peppers (I used one red and one orange) sliced in 1 cm rounds

For the marinade:

1 tsp garlic granules
1 tbsp vegan Worcester sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup (or your preferred sweetener)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
4 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
4 tbsp soy sauce (preferably low salt)


1/ Preheat your oven to 210C

2/ Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl until combined and set aside

3/ Lay the tofu and aubergine out across the two large roasting tins trying your best not to overlap. You might have to squash the tofu a little but don’t worry too much if there is some slight overlapping.

4/ With a pastry brush, brush the marinade over the tofu and aubergine slices. Turn them all over and bush the other side with marinade also.

5/ Scatter the pepper slices over the top and brush with any remaining marinade. Don’t worry if you don’t have any to spare as it will be just as tasty, it just depends on how big your aubergine was.

6/ Place in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and turn everything over (the food not the baking trays…) and bake for 10 more minutes. I tend to rotate shelves as like a lot of ovens my oven can be patchy.

Serve on its own, with basmati rice (pictured above) or with crusty bread.

(for those wondering - I used the tidying technique learnt from Black Books for my photo's :-P)

Monday, 21 February 2011

Starting at the beginning.

I have always been a fan of the 'skip to the end' way of life (fellow Spaced fans will know fully what I mean) and in my mind I have a beautiful and detailed website filled with lovely information and vegan recipes for everyone to look at and share but alas it is not yet the time for that and I have finally come to accept that with this new chapter it is time for me to start at the beginning and to not skip but to see it through to the fact I am even starting this before figuring out how to upload pictures from my phone to the computer (let alone to the blog!!). I'm sure that I will learn these things swiftly but I felt the time for dilly dallying is over and it is finally time to BEGIN!!!

I hope to regularly post pictures (once I've figured out how to upload the buggers!) and recipes of vegan food, with a focus on traditional British cooking, sharing my interpretations of the classic and comforting foods of my childhood. I'll also write about my little vegan family and motherhood, also about the awesomeness of running an all-female pro-wrestling company with my other half ( all that with a large smattering of such geek favourites as Doctor Who (both new and old), graphic novels (current favourites include Sherlock Holmes vs. Zombies, Walking Dead and Locke &Key) and Harry Potter.

So that is near enough...probably...almost certainly(ish) what you shall be getting with this blog and thank you for sharing some of the journey with me. Oh and if you plan on just seeing the writing then skipping to the end for the recipe then that's cool too.