This blog is a celebration of the wonderful world of vegan cooking. Enjoy!

* The title of this blog refutes the dangerous idea that veganism is a weight-loss diet and that all vegans are skinny. Conversely, being a-not-so-skinny-vegan is also not the same as being overweight or unhealthy. All food intake must be part of a balanced lifestyle.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Roasted Parsnip and Garlic Soup

Soups are awesome. They may take a while to eventuate but on cold winter days they make you warm and fill you up and if you are careful you can essentially make them fat free.

Here's one from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen that we cooked up. It was yummy and very filling. Here's my version of the recipe.

Roasted Parsnip and Garlic Soup

500g parsnips, chopped into chunks
1 head garlic
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 rib celery (including leaves), chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
 1 can beans (something white like cannellini beans)
200g mushrooms, sliced
1 spring onion, sliced thin
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200C. Put parsnip chunks on baking tray lined with baking paper with the head of garlic with its stalk bit chopped off and wrapped up in foil. Bake for 30 minutes (until parsnips tinged with brown), turning the parsnips once. Remove from oven and allow the garlic to cool in its wrapper.

Heat a non-stick saucepan and cook the onion until it’s translucent. Add the celery and cook for a couple minutes more. Add 3 cups of vege stock and the parsnips. Squeeze the garlic out of the cloves into the pan and cook for a few minutes until parsnips have softened. Add the beans.

Blend the soup either in the pot or in a blender (be careful not to put boiling liquids in a glass blender). Add the extra cup of vegetable stock to thin the soup out and season to taste.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rice and Beans with Avocado Salsa

This is, without a doubt, my new favourite recipe. We've been having it at least once a week since we discovered how awesome it is. It's from Vegan Cooking (Eating for Health) and is so very delicious. And don't decide to skip the salsa as it makes the dish!

Rice and Beans with Avocado Salsa

Rice & Beans
1/2 cup canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
4 tomatoes, halved (seeded, if you are patient)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 brown onion, sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup long grain brown rice, rinsed
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 carrots, diced
1/4 cup green beans, chopped into thirds
salt & pepper
4 tortillas to serve

1 avocado
juice of 1 lime
1 small red onion
1 small red chilli, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Preheat grill to high. Put onion, tomatoes and garlic in a baking tray and cover with 1 tbsp of the oil. Toss to coat and grill for 5 minutes on each side. Set aside to cool. Once they are cooled puree in a blender.

Heat the rest of the oil (2 tbsp) in a saucepan and add the rice and cook for a few minutes until golden. Add the puree and cook for 2 minutes.Pour in the stock and cover, cooking for 20 minutes. Stir occassionally.

Take out 2 tbsp of the kidney beans for the salsa and add the rest to the rice with the carrots and green beans and cook for a further 15 minutes until vegetables and rice are softened. Season.

The rice simmers down in its juices and tastes delicious!

To make the salsa dice the avocado and toss in lime juice. Add the onion, chilli, coriander and kidney beans and season with salt.

This avocado salsa is so yummy you could eat it on its own!
Spoon the hot rice onto tortillas. The salsa can be served separately but I like to put it on top of the rice and roll my tortilla up. Delicious!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

inSpiral, London

When I go to London I like to make the most of the variety of vegan restaurants available. We had decided to meet some friends for brunch last Sunday and I thought finding a vegan restaurant serving brunch would be easy. It wasn't. Most places don't open until 12pm and the only ones with actual brunchy food on the menu were pricey.

The last time I was in London I met some friends in Camden Town. I'm not Camden's biggest fan but I did spot a cafe that advertised vegan food so I decided to give it a try.

The cafe is inSpiral and it's just a few hundred metres up from the Camden Town tube stop. They have a huge range of vegan meals, drinks and desserts and the cafe is a bit of a tight squeeze (especially when it is as busy as it was on Sunday!) but has a wonderful view of the river and opposite markets.

The food was spectacular. I had a toasted focaccia which was only £3.95. The meals that the others had were £7.95 which I would consider a bit pricey but taking into account the fact that this is the UK and that my friends said the meals were delicious I'm happy to let it slide.

The coffee was really good. In fact, I'd almost go back just for the coffee since no where else in the UK seems to be able to make reasonable coffee. And, of course, I had to try the desserts. Geoff ordered a Key Lime Pie which was tasty but my Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake knocked its socks off.

This is definitely going to be a cafe I will visit often.

Olive Bread Focaccia with Almond Pesto, Sundried Tomatoes & Rocket Salad
Spelt Crusted Chunky Vegetable Ratatouilli
Nut Loaf
Key Lime Pie
Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake

Thursday, February 10, 2011

St John's College

It is no secret that I am not a fan of formal dinners at Cambridge. Until last night my only experience of them was at my own, rather poor college of Selwyn. The food is always overcooked, the vegan dishes are unimaginative and I always get fruit salad for dessert. 

Imagine my surprise then when our lab went to St John's College for formal hall last night and the food was well cooked, beautifully presented, very tasty and the wine was free! And it was cheaper than Selwyn! For shame, Selwyn, for shame.

You can only take photos in hall when the fellows are not present which restricts any photos of the food to dessert.

So above is the menu for anyone that's not a vegan. I received an entree of cherry tomatoes, rocket and capers drizzled in seasoned olive oil. For my main I had pasta with a red sauce with mushrooms, courgettes and aubergine with the same fondant potatoes and glazed carrots and black sesame seeds as everyone else. Then for dessert... no fruit salad! It was a very sweet berry, date, fig and raisin compote which I couldn't actually finish so Geoff ate it.

John's is my new favourite place to get a 3 course meal with wine for £9 in Cambridge.