Pancake Day

Another year, another Pancake Day. Time flies, doesn’t it? One minute you’re nursing the huge hangover that was 2016 and trying to ease yourself into the year when all the bad stuff actually happens (I don’t think I need to name any names here) and the next thing you know it’s Shrove Tuesday and spring is (allegedly) just around the corner.

For now though, it’s still rainy and cold so whipping up a batch of pancakes is a cheering way to spend this Tuesday evening. Shrove Tuesday was traditionally a time to use up and any fat and eggs left in the house before fasting began for Lent. Times may have changed (and according to a recent Waitrose survey, only 12% of people questioned will give something up for Lent this year) but most of us will enjoy a pancake or three tonight and it’s really easy to make vegan versions, too.

This Pancake Day I’ll be making these cute little American-style pancakes which are really quick to put together and because they’re smaller than the traditional kind, you can just turn them over with a spatula – perfect if you’re flip phobic like me. This recipe uses almond milk, although any plant milk will do. The bananas act as a binding agent (to replace the egg) but also add a subtle flavour – don’t worry if you’re not a huge fan of bananas as they don’t taste overly fruity.

These are delicious topped with thinly sliced banana, a sprinkling of cinnamon, a handful of flaked almonds or chopped pecans and generous drizzle of maple syrup; I used Clarks Original – well, it’s made in Wales so it’d be rude not to!

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Clarks Original works a treat on these pancakes

American-style pancakes

Ingredients

2 ripe bananas

140g (1¾ cups) plain or self-raising flour

1½ tablespoons sugar

1½ tablespoons baking powder

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

⅛ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

225ml (1 cup) almond milk

Vegan margarine/spread for the pan

 

Method

In a large bowl, mash the banana. Add the oil, vanilla, and milk. Stir to combine.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix together. If you use a blender, you will get a smoother consistency (and fewer lumps) but don’t worry if you don’t have one.

Place a tablespoon of vegan spread in a large frying pan, and heat over medium low heat.

Once the pan is hot, spoon the batter into the pan using a ladle. Cook the pancakes low and slow, it may take about 3-4 minutes on each side. Once the pancakes are done around the edges, flip them over. Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes more, then remove from pan.

Repeat with the remaining pancakes. Top with fruit, maple syrup or whatever you like.

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I was clearly too excited to eat these, hence the less than perfect photograph…

Treat yo self

Mondays aren’t the most cheery of days and if you’re reading this from Wales (or most places in the UK, actually), you’ll have noticed that it’s rained a fair bit today.

If you think you’ve had a bad day though, spare a though for poor old Warren Beatty. At least you didn’t do this.

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Anyhoo, if, like me, you’re still tired from the weekend (I went to my first wedding of the year and let me tell you: I can’t drink like I used to), you’re probably hankering after a little TLC tonight. Personally, I’ll be hiding under the duvet with a bowl of soup and a generous helping of Gilmore Girls.

Technically it’s still winter (a whole two days until March, my friends) so it’s perfectly acceptable to gorge on comfort food. Parks and Recreation might have coined 13 October as the day to ‘treat yo self’ but I reckon it’s safe to enjoy these bad boys at any time.

This is a shamelessly lazy copy and paste job from Instagram, by the way. #sorrynotsorry

First up, vegan mayo. It’s a thing and a very good thing, too. These new burgers from Cauldron aren’t half bad either.

BOOM @rumdogrees has outdone himself tonight ❤

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Oh, Swedish Glace, how do I love love thee? Let me count the ways…

Yes, I was a naysayer but this is actually OK. Try it.

Vegan biscuits FTW.

Droool. These are seriously good.

Who would have thought that apple strudel was vegan? Not me. I got this one from Morrisons (other supermarket brands are available) and topped it with delicious Oatly custard. Yum.

This teatime staple has been veganised and with this Quorn version you get the same texture as fish fingers minus the fish flavour. Odd but it kind of works.

I hope these aren't terrible… #vegan #vegetarian #veganfoodshare #veganfoodporn #whatveganseat #vegansofig

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And if all else fails, you can always rely on good old beans on toast…

Prynhawn Da

Treuliais prynhawn da iawn heddi yng nghwmni Siân a Rhodri ar raglen Prynhawn Da i siarad am fod yn figan.

Cyfle i esbonio beth mae pobl yn gallu bwyta wrth ddilyn y ffordd o fyw yma a phrofi bod figaniaid yn gallu mwynhau pethau fel bisgedi a siocled fel rhan o ddeiet gytbwys.

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Rwy di cael hen ddigon o’r nonsens ‘clean eating’ – nid dim ond chia seeds a kale sydd ar y fwydlen ac i ddangos hynny, pobais teisen ar gyfer yr achlysur.

Rhaid cyfaddef bod y deisen hon yn weddol iachus gan does braidd dim siwgr ynddi ac oherwydd fy mod i di defnyddio almwn mâl yn lle blawd mae’n gluten-free hefyd. Rwy’n ceisio defnyddio ffrwythau a llysiau tymhorol os gallai gan eu bod yn flasu llawer neisach. Rwy’n llawn cyffro bod rhiwbob nawr ar gael – mae’n binc ac yn berffaith.

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Mae ganddo flas eithai siarp felly rwy di uno gyda afalau (defnyddiais y fath Cox) a sudd masarn. Nid yw’n deisen gor felus felly fydd angen i’r rhai sydd â dant melys ychwanegu banana arall neu rhagor o sudd masarn.

Os na gallwch ddod o hyd i rhiwbob ffres yn y siopau gallwch ddefnyddio’r peth sy’n dod mewn tun.

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Teisen rhiwbob ac afal

Cynhwysion

I’r rhiwbob

200g rhiwbob

3 llwy de siwgr

1 llwy de powdr sinamon

1 llwy de powdr sinsir

 

I weddill y deisen

200g almwn mâl

2 llwy de powdr pobi

½ llwy de soda pobi

3 afal bach wedi’u gratio

150ml llaeth almwn

1 banana wedi’i stwnshio

4 llwy fwrdd o maple syrup

1 llwy de sinamon

1 llwy de powdr sinsir

 

Dull

Torrwch y rhiwbarb mewn i ddarnau bach a mud-ferwch ar dymheredd isel gyda bach o ddŵr, y siwgr, sinisr a sinamon am 5 munud. Rhidyllwch y rhiwbarb a gadewch i oeri.

Cynheswch y ffwrn i 170C (gas mark 3). Rhidyllwch y powdr pobi a’r soda pobi mewn i bowlen fawr a chymysgwch gyda’r almwnau mâl.

Mewn powlen gwahanol, gratiwch yr afal, yna ychwanegwch y banana wedi’i stwnshio, y llaeth almwn, y rhwbob a gweddill y sbeisys.

Yn y bowlen sy’n cynnwys y cynhwysion sych, gwnewch dwll yn y canol, arllwyswch y cymysgedd gwlyb i fewn a chymysgwch yn dda. Irwch tun 8×8 modfedd gyda bach o olew ac arllwyswch y cymysgedd i fewn gan wneud yn siwr i daenu yn wastad.

Rhowch y tun ar silff uchaf y ffwrn a choginiwch am 50-55 munud. Gadewch i oeri am 15-20 munud a mwynhewch!

Saturday night fever

I’m getting reacquainted with Timehop which provides me with a daily reminder that I am well and truly into my thirties. Gone are the days when my Saturday nights in Cardiff involved a few rounds of shots at The Gatekeeper before stumbling into Dempsey’s (sadly no longer with us) then Clwb Ifor Bach, and ending up at Burger King at 3am.

Drinking is a slightly more grown-up affair these days and usually involves wine with dinner, but I just can’t hack it any more. This week, a couple of drinks here and there have resulted in an extended hangover (it’s so true that they get worse the older you get) and that, combined with a lack of exercise and eating too much junk, means that I’m feeling fairly fat this February. It’s time to cut out the crap.

Last night, feeling a bit worse for wear, I settled down to a soothing supper which was quick to make and a lot better for me than the chip-shop chips I was craving. This version of a Buddha bowl combines slightly spicy cauliflower with cheap and cheerful (and filling) chickpeas and nutty brown rice. The dressing is to die for, too. Tangy pink grapefruit is the perfect match for rich tahini, although you could use orange if you want something a bit sweeter. And up you want to up the goodness, add some greens; broccoli and kale or spinach work really well with this.

bowled-over
This was supposed to look a lot prettier but I was hungry, OK?

Comforting cauliflower and chickpea bowl with a dreamy dressing

 

Serves 2-3 people, depending on how hungry you are

 

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower

2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil (if using coconut, melt this in the oven or microwave first)

2 teaspoons cumin powder

1 lemon

2-3 tablespoons flaked almonds

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1 tin (400g) chickpeas

Salt and pepper

 

For the dressing

2 tablespoons tahini

½ pink grapefruit, peeled and cut into small pieces

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

A drizzle of sesame or olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

Serve with brown rice

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 220C. Cut the cauliflower length-ways or break into florets and rinse. In an ovenproof dish (depending on its size, you may need to use two as you will need space to add the chickpeas later on), combine the oil, cumin and lemon juice and add the cauliflower, making sure that all of it is coated in the mixture, and place on the top shelf of the oven.

If you’re serving with brown rice, start cooking it now so that it’s ready at the same time as everything else. While everything is cooking, you can make the dressing now. Place the tahini, oil, half the grapefruit and cinnamon, plus a dash of water, into a food processor and blend for 30 seconds. This will give it quite a creamy texture, although you can add more water if you’d like a smoother consistency. Set aside.

When the cauliflower has been roasting for about 20-25 minutes, remove from the oven and add the drained chickpeas, flaked almonds and sesame seeds, plus a dash more lemon juice and cumin powder, if you like. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, then serve with the rice and the remainder of the pink grapefruit (I also added some shredded sprouts) and drizzle over the dressing.

A bite of Bath

Earlier this month, I became a year older. It wasn’t a landmark birthday (nothing to see here, thank you very much) but I was treated to a little day trip to Bath, somewhere I visited a lot as a child but haven’t explored in ages. I love Bath, birthplace of Jane Austen and home to an abbey, Roman baths and a Christmas shop that’s open all year round. There’s also an established vegetarian and vegan scene which we were keen to check out and as time was short, (by the time we got there it was mid-afternoon) we focussed on filling our faces with food.

First stop was The Green Rocket for a slice of birthday cake. This is a lovely little café and restaurant that offers tasty breakfasts, lunches and dinners and does a mean line in vegan cake, too. As it’s right bang in the city centre, it’s also a good spot for people watching.

After some deliberation, I settled for the chocolate and pistachio slice and Kie had a peanut butter and banana cake. Both were delicious and I’ll definitely be returning to try out the rest of the menu; I’ve got my eye on the Bloody Mary tomatoes on toast which would make the perfect brunch.

After a stroll by the river, some bookshop browsing and trying on specs at Boots Opticians (yes, really), we headed over to Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen for a celebratory supper. This cosy bistro features in the Waitrose Good Food Guide 2016 and scooped the Viva! Best Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant title in 2014. Owner and head chef Richard Buckley goes by the philosophy that plants taste better and his menus certainly reflect that; he takes local, seasonal ingredients and turns them into magnificent meals. A three-course dinner is great value at £33 and the wine’s reasonably priced, too. Here’s what we ate.

To start, Kie had the split pea soup with salt baked celeriac and orange zaatar. He didn’t think to photograph this (stupid man) but said it was delicious – I tried some and can testify this.  I opted for the oven roasted Jerusalem artichokes with toasted sunflower seed butter and pink grapefruit and it was out-of-this-world good. I really didn’t want the experience of eating it to end and no, my photo doesn’t do it justice.

artichokes.jpg

It was pretty hard to choose the mains, but in the end, Kie had the slow cooked winter squash with pine nut risotto, shredded Brussels sprouts, garlic and lemon zest. Again, I tried some (obvs) and it was one of the nicest risottos I’ve ever tried.

Squash.jpg

For me, it had to be the sautéed cauliflower heart with cauliflower puree, onion bhajis, potato, cauliflower rice, raisin and lemon. While Kie was tucking into his food, I was busy photographing my food – cue the ‘amusing’ snap of me below.

me photographing my food.jpg

I eventually put down my phone to enjoy my dinner. This is definitely one of the most imaginative meals I’ve had at a restaurant (take note, non-vegetarian chefs) and the different textures and flavours were a marriage made in heaven.

All good things must come to an end but not before dessert. Kie chose the salted chocolate tart with peanut butter sorbet and it was dreamy.

Salted chocolate tart.jpg

Excited to try my first rhubarb of the year (yes, I just wrote that), I had the Yorkshire forced rhubarb with almond amaretto cream, fennel sorbet and almond crumb. The shocking pink on my plate and the heady mixture of sweet and sharp flavours made it a pretty perfect pud.

What a dinner. If you’re after an extra-special dinner (whether you’re veggie, vegan or omni) give Acorn a try. You’ll be glad that you did.

Plants taste better and @rumdogrees agrees.

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Lettuce pray…

Forget the trials and tribulations with Trump; we’re in the middle of a courgette crisis. Bad weather in Spain means that vegetables like courgettes, spinach, lettuce and broccoli haven’t grown very well this winter so I guess you could say that the crop has come a cropper. It must be serious if supermarkets are rationing vegetables.

Before we lament this lack of lettuce though, shouldn’t we remember that we shouldn’t really be eating it in midwinter anyway? It seems that we’re a bit out of kilter with how our food gets to our forks with fewer than one in ten Brits know when UK fruits and vegetables are in season. If and when possible, eating seasonally is generally cheaper and it always tastes better too. Although February can be a bit of a miserable month, at this time of year you can enjoy bright blood oranges, creamy cauliflower, sweet celeriac, jolly little Jerusalem artichokes, and much more.

I even managed to pick up an aubergine the other day, too – no mean feat as they’re also in short supply at the moment. Now, admittedly this is not when British aubergines are at their finest (they’re available all year round but come into their own from May until October) but it did well in a simple stew for supper.

Caponata is a sweet and slightly sour Sicilian stew – and it’s delicious. This is a somewhat bastardised version as I’ve left out the celery which is used in traditional recipes, and because tomatoes are out of season and are, quite frankly flavourless at the moment, I used the tinned and sundried variety. This is lovely with pasta, rice or some crusty bread – or just on its own. The chilli is optional and you can use rosemary or another herb in place of the thyme. If you have some fresh basil, it’s nice to scatter some on top, too.

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Caponata

Caponata

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large aubergines, cut into 2cm cubes

3 shallots, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ chilli, finely chopped

A few sprigs of thyme

1 x 400g tin plum or chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato puree

2 teaspoons capers

50ml red wine or balsamic vinegar

Handful of toasted pine nuts or flaked almonds to garnish (optional)

 

Method

Pour the olive oil into a large heavybased saucepan or casserole, place over a medium heat and add the aubergines. Cook for a good 15-20 mins until they are soft. Scoop the aubergines out of the pan and set aside. Add the shallots, garlic, chilli and thyme, and cook for about 5 minutes until they are soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook slowly, so they break down and turn to a soft mush, then add the aubergines back to the pan. Now put in the tomato puree, capers and vinegar, season well and cover with a lid. Cook over a low heat for 20-25 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft. Stir gently so it doesn’t break up too much. Serve the warm caponata scattered with flaked almonds or pine nuts if using.