Beer Breaded Garlic Mushrooms

I've been loosing weight recently. As I've not been putting much effort into healthy eating or been to the gym, this can at least in part be attributed to the deep fat fryer remaining in the cupboard for the past few months.

I created a recipe for Mint Double Chocolate Torte a couple of weeks back, but have been to scared to actually make it. Whilst I'm quite convinced that it'd be lovely, it'd also be rich and loaded with calories. I got as far as making the base for it this time last week, then chickened out.

This is probably a step forward in my life; I've been wanting to find a healthy diet that I enjoy without feeling like I'm constantly denying myself tasty food. I've tried 'dieting' in the past and whilst it gives short term results, it's an unpleasant experience and doesn't fix the longer term problem - wanting to eat foods containing more calories than I know I'll burn.

It's not all doom and gloom though - I still hate most vegetables and had a most enjoyable, gluttonous meal on Saturday night. Whilst I'm considering trying some more raw recipes this week, last night I bowed to Twitter pressure to deep fry and had a go at making breaded mushrooms. I'd not had any in years - all I've found recently have contained egg.

I've not breaded anything before, but it was surprisingly easy - the tester one came out perfectly. I guess that most people use egg to help the breadcrumbs stick, but this is easily substituted for batter (and gives me an excuse to sneak some booze into the meal).

Ingredients (serves 3-4):
  • 150g Baby Button Mushrooms
  • Beer Batter
  • 1 tsp Garlic Granules
  • 4 Slices Fresh White Bread
I started by making up a bowl of beer batter, to which I added a tsp of Garlic Granules. I think on reflection that I could have added 2 tsp.

I lightly toasted the bread, then made into fine crumbs using my kitchenaid blender on slowest speed (I expect a food processor would also work).

The mushrooms I washed and cut the hard stalks off, then heated the oil to 175oC.

Toss each of the undried mushrooms in a bowl of flour, then transfer to the batter. Ensure they're entirely coated, then roll in breadcrumbs. If you do it with a reasonable amount of speed then you shouldn't have issues coating all sides.

Immediately after rolling; drop each into the hot oil using a spoon just above the surface. You'll probably want to try one first, then do the rest in a couple of batches.

Try to add all mushrooms in each batch to the oil within a couple of minutes of each other, then fry for 5 minutes. Turn them a couple of minutes into cooking, to ensure they crisp evenly.

Drain off as much oil as possible and transfer to a bowl with kitchen tissue. Set aside until required, then fry again for 1 minute to re-heat. Serve with garlic mayonnaise :)

Mint Chocolate Shots

I've been a bad, bad Vegan MoBo blogger.

Considering I'm the only one though however and that I never stated I'd post every single day, I think it's allowed.

The reason I've not blogged recently is simple: I've been lazy. That and that the post I planned to do went wrong, horribly wrong.

A few weeks ago I made up a gorgeous shot using creme de menthe, cream, chocolate syrup, irish whisky and kahlua. Cleverly I snapped a picture on my iPhone for twitter and wrote down the ingredients, but not the measurements.

When I came to recreate it on Sunday I found that I just couldn't get the quantities right, and my attempts really didn't taste good at all - too alcoholic, too creamy, too sweet etc. I fundamentally don't agree with blogging / posting a recipe which really doesn't work - there are way too many crap recipes on the internet already.

It's 12.43am and I should really be in bed, but procrastination has allowed me to revisit the concept and I'm pleased to announce that this time it worked. Therefore I'm writing it down this time!

Ingredients (serves 2):
  • 1 shot Irish Whisky
  • 2 shots Fresh Soya Cream
  • 1/2 shot Chocolate Syrup
  • 1/2 shot Creme de Menthe
  • 1/2 shot Kahlua
  • Squirty Cream
  • Grated Chocolate (optional)
Add all ingredients bar the last 2 to a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake till your hands go numb from the cold. Pour into glasses and top with squirty cream. Top with grated chocolate if so inclined.

Drink in 2-3 gulps, attempting to drink half the cream with each, mixing in your mouth before swallowing.

It's kind of like a mint version of the baileys recipe I posted last November (my blog is almost a year old!) and kind of not. I know that Baileys now sell a mint version, but it came out after I turned vegan so I've never tried it and can't comment on simularity.

Damson / Sloe Gin

Controversial I know, but I don't actually like Sloe Gin that much, or Damson Gin for that matter. I've not found any really great cocktails that use it and I don't think it's that great on its own.

I did enjoy making it though, so as there's a remote chance that my taste buds aren't superior to everyone else's; I'm dedicating this VeganMoBo post to it.

I made Sloe Gin in 2006, then Damson Gin in 2007. I added the used damsons when I'd finished to a kilner jar with brandy and sugar, then left on a shelf and completely forgot of its existence. I discovered it in summer 2010 and was delighted to find that it's actually pretty good. I'd be tempted to use brandy instead of gin for the first batch if I ever make it again.

Sloes grow in the wild in the UK are are relatively easy to find. Just make sure you look up what they look like in advance though and don't accidentally make deadly nightshade gin. Damsons are harder to find - though sometimes in shops its easier to find someone with a tree.

The recipe for both is essentially the same - wash and prick fruit, place in a kilner jar, add a few tablespoons of white sugar then cover with gin. Close the jar, and shake regularly for the first couple of weeks, then every now and then after. Traditionally you should wait until after the first frost before picking sloes - I'm not aware of any rules for damsons.

The first time I made it I meticulously measured out the ingredients, but in reality it doesn't really matter (and variety is good).

If you make it around now then it should be done in time for Christmas. You can use the fruit again (as I did with brandy) or attempt to eat it. Cooking with it sounds like a good idea, but all the alcohol boils off. I made chocolate with the sloes, but in reality it wasn't that good.

Mushroom Stroganoff

I've been making this for years, but last night's was the best tasting so far.
I owe this in part to the half bottle of brandy I added whilst trying to take flambé pictures ;)

Continuing with the Vegan MoBo theme and in an attempt to prove that I eat food in between drinks:

Ingredients (Serves 2):
  • 2 handfuls Fresh Mushrooms
  • 1 handful Dried Mushrooms
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • Smoked Tofu
  • 100ml Brandy
  • 1 pint Mushroom Stock
  • Fresh Soya Cream
Slice fresh mushrooms and fry in a little oil with cubed tofu, minced garlic and diced onion. You can use any type of mushroom you want - a combination can be good. Either red or white onion is fine. I use Taifun Smoked Tofu with Almonds and Sesame Seeds - it's much nicer than unflavoured stuff and is firm enough to fry with.

Make up the stock and reconstitute dried mushrooms in it. Again you can use any - last night I used shiitake and porcini. Once they've softened up; remove from the stock and add to the pan.

Cook until onion is soft and the mushroom has released excess moisture. When the pan is hot and reasonably dry, add the brandy and light (standing back so you don't loose your eyebrows in the process). If you add it when the pan isn't hot enough or when the mushrooms are still releasing moisture then you'll have difficulty lighting.

You can add as much brandy as you like, but 100ml should be enough. It also works with sherry and I guess other booze too (but probably not kahlua).

Pour in the stock, bring to the boil and allow to simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed / boiled off. Add cream to taste, stir through and heat.

Season with salt/pepper and serve with tagliatelle or linguine. Waitrose in the UK sell fresh varieties of each.

Tomorrow I'll return to booze only, I promise.

Vegan MoFo Survey

Hooray for non posts.

It's not uncommon during MoFo for bloggers to post questionnaires; in the hope that lazy participants with nothing better to post about will fill them out and provide a reciprocal link in return.

Whilst I naturally abhor such practice; considering how horribly wrong last night's cocktail experiments went I figure that it's an excellent way to pad things out a bit.

Therefore, this one is thanks to I Eat Trees:

What is one food you thought you’d miss when you went vegan, but don’t?

What is a food or dish you wouldn’t touch as a child, but enjoy now?
Anything involving mushrooms

What vegan dish or food you feel like you should like, but don’t?
Anything involving most vegetables

What beverage do you consume the most of on any given day?

What dish are you famous for making or bringing to gatherings?

Do you have any self-imposed food rules (like no food touching on the plate or no nuts in sweets)?

What’s one food or dish you tend to eat too much of when you have it in your home?
Pizza - sometimes several times a week.

What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available prepackaged?
Pesto. It's piss easy to make and always tastes better fresh.

What ingredient or food is worth spending the extra money to get the good stuff?
Balsamic Vinegar (last bottle was ~£15)

Are you much of a snacker? What are your favorite snacks?
Absolutely: cake, biscuits, chocolates, dried fruit

What are your favorite vegan pizza toppings?
Sundried tomato paste, pepper antipasti, pesto, artichoke, fake cheese

What is your favorite vegetable? Fruit?
Potato, Melon

What is the best salad dressing?

What is your favorite thing to put on toasted bread?

What kind of soup do you most often turn to on a chilly day or when you aren’t feeling your best?
Pizza. Honestly, why would anyone turn to soup?

What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Frosting flavor?

What is your favorite kind of cookie?
White chocolate & macadamia

What is your most-loved weeknight meal?

What is one dish or food you enjoy, but can’t get anyone else in your household to eat?
Living alone has its benefits :)

How long, in total, do you spend in the kitchen on an average day?
About 30 minutes

DeKuyper Melon

....and a green drink in a fancy bottle that tastes like cough medicine, called Midori.

I'd had a passing interest in trying Midori for a while now. I emailed them 3 times of the course of several years, but heard nothing back.

After finding a reliable contact at DeKuyper recently for asking about veganness of their products I enquired (mostly out of boredom) about their melon liqueur. It's in most UK supermarkets and I had no problem picking up a bottle (~£10) when I'd heard back.

The best way I can describe DeKuyper Melon is as a liquid version of melon flavoured sweets. It's sweet and whilst artificial tasting, really quite pleasant.

A few days later, @M_tohappyvegans mailed Midori and got an instant response - maybe they just don't like me? We'd just polished off our first bottle of Dekuyper, so I bought a bottle of each to run a comparison.

Other than the colour, I struggled to find one. DeKuyper is gorgeous, Midori tastes like children's cough medicine.

It's a shame - I really wanted to like Midori. Other than its funky bottle however it really has nothing going for it.

The good news is: all Midori cocktail recipes I've tried taste far better with DeKuyper. We spent a couple of evenings trying out 10-15 recipes a couple of months back and there's one that I've made time and time again since. It's actually, possibly, now in my top 5 favourite cocktails.

DeKuyper Splice (formally Midori Splice!)

  • 2 shots DeKuyper Melon liqueur
  • 2 shots Malibu
  • Pineapple Juice
  • 1 shot fresh soya cream -or- coconut cream
  • Ice
Fill a highball glass with ice and pour the melon liqueur over.

Add the malibu, then top with pineapple juice until the glass is almost full. Don't mix.

Float the cream on top, so that it covers the whole surface. Fresh soya cream is best (Alpro), but coconut uht cream will be nicer than long life soya cream if none is available.

The result should be greenest at the bottom and drunk through the cream.

For a drink containing 4 shots of 24% strength booze it really doesn't taste alcoholic at all, and slips down with ease.

Banana Vodka


So; I realise this is (arguably) the most disgusting looking thing I've posted thus far, but I assure you that it tastes better than it looks...

Banana vodka was an experiment I conducted a few weeks ago (before going to Dubai), which I then bottled and left to fester in the back of the fridge. I've not really heard of people making it before or seen recipes calling for it, but I like bananas and had some that needed using.

Having almost completely forgotten of its existence, I was quite gobsmacked when I finally tested it last night and found how good it is.

The good news is, it's easy to make. Like most fruit infused vodkas it contains only fruit, sugar and vodka. Being a soft fruit it only needs to infuse for 24-48 hours.

The bad news is, I can't remember the quantities I used. I seem to remember it being something to do with 25g and 75g, and thinking I didn't need to write it down because I'd definitely remember.

I'm pretty sure though that I mashed one ripe banana (75g?), covered it with vodka in an airtight jar, then added white sugar to taste (25g?). Give it a really big shake, then again every time you walk in the kitchen. After 48 hours it should look as disgusting as that which is pictured above, at which point it's time to strain.

This is a 2 stage process. The first involves using a sieve to remove the large particles (see above), then the second using cloth to remove the pith. I used strong kitchen tissue instead of cloth for mine, which was a pain in the ass but did eventually work.

Decant into a clean bottle and refrigerate until use.

In the name of Vegan Mobo (it's a hard life); I created a cocktail using it last night.

With the exception of banoffee, the main use of banana in my life is for making milkshakes. As it also goes well with chocolate, I wanted to make a creamy shot with cream and chocolate syrup.

Having decided to make a layered shot, I quickly (only 4 drinks) found that cream was both too sickly and had a density too similar to the vodka to layer properly. Therefore I switched to vanilla soy milk, which works so much better.

It's with great pleasure that I give you my "Banana Split".

Squirt some chocolate syrup into the bottom of a shot glass, then pour banana vodka into the glass via the back of a teaspoon. Allow to sit for a moment (whilst it completely separates), then very carefully add the vanilla soya milk to the top (I used fresh So Good).

If you've not made layered shots before then it can take some practice to get right (see YouTube for videos), but it all goes down the same way in the end. Talking of which, it's best to drink these in one go, mixing the flavours together in your mouth before swallowing.

You may need to experiment with the amount of syrup you use, to ensure that enough comes out with the drink and doesn't just stick to the sides! :)

Vegan MoBo!

I would use this (mostly meaningless post) to wish you all a happy "World Vegan Day", however as I'm not entirely sure what the point of it is (or who decided the date as being 1st Nov); I'm instead going to use it to introduce Vegan Mobo.

In case you missed it, 1st November is also the start of Vegan Month of Food, where bloggers are encouraged to post more than normal about vegan food.

Admirable though this is and as open minded as I am; I'm just not sure that "MoFo" - the adopted abbreviation for "month of food" is a word one should be using. A search on urbandictionary will enlighten those not familiar with the word's normal use.

Therefore, I suggest Vegan MoBo instead, Vegan Month of Booze.

I'll use that as an excuse instead to post about tasty drinks, and as an excuse to make more of them :D

Creme de Menthe

is good stuff.

I tried mint syrup as a kid and wasn't impressed. I was therefore not overly excited to find that De Kuyper alcoholic creme de menthe is vegan a month or so ago when @M_tohappyvegans wrote to them to check. It turns out that both the white stuff (which I've never seen in shops) is vegan, as well as the green stuff (in most supermarkets).

As part of my quest to own all vegan suitable booze I bought a bottle anyway, and was pleasantly surprised.

It mixes incredibly well with chocolatey things, such as chocolate soya milk. I plan to make a mint chocolate torte at some point (I've still not made this again since I blogged it back in Feb).

It also works really well in hot chocolate, substituting creme de menthe for kahlua in this recipe.

I've drunk half a bottle so far (with help) and will no doubt find other combinations that work well with it.

Edit: Now I think about it - I've actually made quite a few good tasting cocktails using this now. Too bad I can't remember how to make any of them.....


Dubai: a city with practically no history, institutionalised racism, polluted beaches, censored internet and one of the world's highest carbon footprints; where imprisonable offenses include homosexual sex (10 years), use of cough syrup (4 years), prescription medicine (8 weeks) and even eating the wrong type of bread roll (4 years).

Despite its guaranteed sunshine, world's tallest building and biggest mall; Dubai isn't exactly my ideal holiday location. It is therefore explainable why I was less than ecstatic when it was announced I was being sent there for a week earlier this month by my work.

Part of my general reluctance to visit comes from the fact that the UAE doesn't like guys with long hair. I've read reports of long haired guys being falsely imprisoned in Dubai and others having their's cut off by the police in neighbouring Sharjah. Having had long hair myself for more than 10 years I seriously considered having mine cut, until speaking to the British Embassy first. As it happens, I saw more guys with long hair during 1 week in Dubai than I do in an entire year in the UK.

Getting There - Emirates

I booked my flights the day before (£417 return) via Opodo, then called Emirates immediately to change my dietary requirement. Strangely, the vegan option (code VGML) is named "Vegetarian".

Unfortunately they don't tell you what you're being served, so your guess is as good as mine as to what the food was meant to be (comments please!). The good news is that they serve you first - up to an hour before everyone else.

On my 9.20pm - 7.20am (7 hour) flight there was one meal:

The rice smelt like shoes, but was strangely tasty. What can best be described as dal was dry but OK. The rice salad didn't really fit, but as I was expecting them to stuff up the order and serve me chicken, I was grateful all the same. I'm pretty sure it was vegan - nothing was obviously creamy or egg like. They served it with the obligatory non dairy creamer (containing milk protein), which I ignored.

On my 3.05pm - 7.40pm (7.5 hour) flight there were two; a main meal and snack:

The main part was a strange kind of potato hotpot, but it was warm and I was hungry. The margarine was labelled vegan, but dessert a little too suspect looking. I decided not to risk it, so gave it to another passenger. They confirmed that it tasted really odd, so "probably vegan".

My second meal/snack looked like this:

The roll seemed to be filled with whatever yesterday's main course was. It was just plain odd.

I almost didn't try the muffin, but tore a bit off and saw that it almost certainly wasn't made with egg. It was a kind of mix between crumble and sponge, which had gone a bit hard in the fridge. Still, it was edible, and I wanted another when I'd finished.

I don't know whether the wine they serve is vegan or not; and frankly as the wine hater I am I don't care. They do seem to serve unlimited alcohol though, and have 50cl bottles of cointreau.

Whilst it looks like I'm having a whinge, I'm genuinely quite impressed by Emirates. Other than the creamer they managed to produce edible vegan food that I'd eat again.

Eating Out

If happycow is to be believed, there are about 40 vegan friendly restaurants in Dubai. Whilst I believe there are this many vegetarian restaurants, based on an evening in Bur Dubai I'm not sure how many are actually vegan friendly. That is, unless you speak Arabic / Indian languages and can converse with the staff. In the ones I tried they looked confused and said "no, vegetarian". One got so confused that they said "next door" and pointed to a mixed grill - assumably thinking I was taking the piss or something.

I did find a couple of vegan friendly restaurants though, both with help from others and both part of international chains.

The first, Asha's (in Wafi mall) has an outlet in Birmingham where I ate a couple of years ago. The manager was very helpful and chef came out to advise what could be made vegan. There was a choice of 4 main courses, plus poppadoms and roti bread. The quality was excellent (far better than the UK, which I made a point of telling them) and wasn't badly priced (including a 30% discount from the hotel). I didn't get a flattering picture of the food, so will post a rare photo of me instead:

Their website leads me to believe that there are other outlets in Dubai also.

The second, Saravana Bhavan is in a larger chain, with 25 branches in India and an outlet in London.

I'd not been before though, and was pleasantly surprised to find the first restaurant in my life where everyone washes their hands before eating! It's also the first restaurant I've been to where everyone eats rice with their fingers. It was a good experience, but on reflection using a spoon is easier ;)

All meals they do are the same - thali. 3 of the dishes (the creamy looking ones) are non vegan and you have to make sure you say "no" to the big pot of ghee the guy serving rice walks around with. Puris are unlimited (and amongst the best I've had), as is rice.

The rest of the food was pretty good. I went with an Indian colleague and would certainly recommend it.

Dubai seems to have quite a few juice bars dotted around in malls and at the airport, such as this one in Deira City Centre:

Each time I found one I had a green / vegetable smoothie, which were reasonably priced. Cafe Nero and Costa both have branches selling fruit things, but they're made from juice and ice rather than fresh fruit.

Not strictly vegan related, but I took to drinking mint tea whilst in Dubai, which is easy to find:

Buying Food

In a word: easy. Especially if you visit the lower ground floor of Dubai Mall, where you'll find both Waitrose (yes, Waitrose) and a large Organic store.

Waitrose has a lot of UK stock at sensible prices, so if you've a (studio) apartment; you're sorted. They also have local items too, including American (vegan) recipe oreos for less than a quid a pack. More excitingly still, they also sell Fry's (wish they would in the UK!):

The organic supermarket has plenty of choice, including the largest selection of Amy's products I've ever seen:

Whilst they sell plenty of cold stuff (including fresh tofu) they don't sell any ready to eat items, which sucked as I was staying in a standard hotel room without cooking facilities:

What they do have is a lot of long life vegan stuff, including chocolate and various nut/seed/fruit bars:

What else?

I went up Burj Khalifa, which is worth doing at 100 dirhams (the walk up price). The views on a good day are spectacular (I got lucky).

I also went on a Desert Safari, which was fun. The included food was all meat related though, so I ate a large amount of fresh 'simple' bread instead.

I left my vegan suntan lotion at home, as it contains hemp seed and I didn't want to be put in jail for 4 years. I was worried that I was burn horribly, but in reality hardly anyone spends time in the sun during the day - instead most people rush from one airconditioned building/vehicle to the next. I didn't even pick up a tan.

In Summary

Would I go back? Oh holiday - no. To take a job - no. On a business trip - maybe, but next time I'm having a studio.

Summer Holidays

I've not forgotten you, I'm just being lazy with my cooking and concentrating on other things at the moment.

I'll return within the next month or so :)

Deep Fried Raw Nakd Cashew Bars

Mmmmmmm; raw food.

OK, so I realise that there's something inherently wrong about this blog post, I just can't figure out what it is. I <3 raw food and I <3 deep frying, so surely it's all good?

I started eating Nakd bars as soon as they came out and have consumed several hundred of their larger bars over the past few years (mostly as breakfast - I'm generally raw these days before 12). Their new smaller bars are alright, despite looking like something suspiciously different. I like the cashew type the most, however due to their size they're not quite a meal replacement.

So how better than served deep fried in cider batter?

I admit, I did this as a joke. I'd just made my dinner and was on the hunt for something to deep fry for dessert. I am however extremely surprised by how good it tastes!

It's not in the oil long enough to get really hot, but the heat it does get melts it slightly and makes the date become quite toffee like.

The batter is from a recipe I posted in December, using cider (hard cider) instead of beer.

I don't really have anything else to say, other than that I'm definitely making this again!! :D

Cinnamon Ring Doughnuts

So this isn't really a proper post; more of a confirmation that the previous doughnut recipe that I posted earlier this month is indeed better suited to ring doughnuts.

The process of making them is the same, except you roll out the dough and cut it into doughnut shapes before rising. I used a cookie cutter for the outer and the end of a shot measure for the inner. Half the recipe quoted previously makes 4 doughtnuts.

Raising on an oiled surface really helps with clean removal. Fry each in 190oc oil until done (golden brown), turning a few times:

When cooked, shake off excess oil and roll in a mixture of sugar and ground cinnamon. Eat within a day.

Critique? Physically, they work. They do everything you'd expect and the end result looks as it should.

Taste wise they do have that lovely fresh doughnut taste to them, but it's more of an aftertaste as opposed to an in your face taste. Somehow I need to get more flavour into the dough, which could mean salt or a source of flavour (vanilla?). As they're going with cinnamon, I wonder if replacing water for apple juice would work?

The other criticism I have of them is that they're ever so slightly chewy. That is, they're not quite soft enough and melt in the mouth like. I'll work on it and let you know ;)


This isn't really a meal - more of a high calorie snack.

The concept is simple - 2 fried corn tortillas with melted cheese and salsa between them.

Fry half a red onion in a pan with a little sunflower oil, then add spices. I'm lazy and buy packets of fajita spice mix (Discovery in the UK is vegan), from which I use about a quarter.

Fry the spices for a couple of minutes, then add finely chopped seiten chicken pieces (I use Redwoods). Cook for a further minute or so, then add 200g (half a standard tin) of chopped tomatoes in juice.

As it starts to reduce down add half a tsp of black treacle and a half a tsp of smoked paprika (or as much as you like to get the desired level of heat).

When most of the liquid has boiled off and it tastes good, transfer to bowl and wipe out the pan.

In a second pan fry a corn tortilla in a little oil. When the edges start to brown flip it over and cook the other side.

Whilst this is in progress fry the other corn tortilla in the original pan (again with a little oil) and place meltable vegan cheese on top.

Spread the salsa mixture ontop of the cheese. You'll want the heat quite high to ensure it goes crispy and the cheese melts properly.

The tortilla being cooked on its own will finish first, so take it out the pan and place on top of the other.

When cooked both tortillas should be golden brown and starting to go crispy, without burning. Carefully remove the quesadilla from the pan (using 2 spatulas slid underneath) and transfer to a chopping board. Divide into quarters with a sharp knife and eat immediately.

Miniature Chocolate Chip Banana Drizzle Cake

Everybody say "awwwwww" - this is the smallest cake I've ever made.

Ages ago (years) I bought a couple of 4" spring form tins, which I don't remember using until tonight. Now that I'm living alone again I need to restrain myself from making standard 8" cakes ;)

I'm not sure how much of a success this cake was, I just decided to have a go. I made a standard sponge with banana and chocolate chips. I made banana drizzle icing, which I'm not sure (according to google anyway) anyone has done before. Perhaps with good reason? :p

It's pretty moist and I think I used a few too many chocolate chips and a bit too much banana. The cake itself physically worked and it tastes pretty good. I'm not so sure about the icing - I was aiming for a buttercream consistancy but a base of 25g mashed banana wouldn't allow this to happen. Personally I don't believe it has enough of the banana flavour in it.

For my notes as much as anything I'm blogging the recipe anyway, on the pretense that it needs some tweaking.

Cake Ingredients:
  • 100g Self Raising Flour
  • 75g Castor Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 100ml Water
  • 25ml Sunflower Oil
  • 75g Banana
  • 25g Dark Chocolate Chips
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, then add the oil and water. Mix to a batter. Add the banana and mash it into the mixture. Add the chocolate chips and beat as much air in as possible.

Pour into two greased 4" springform tins and cook at 200oc for 20-25 mins.

Remove and allow to cool when an inserted cocktail stick can be withdrawn cleanly.

Icing Ingredients:
  • 25g Banana
  • 125g Icing Sugar
  • 10ml Soya Cream
Mash the banana and add 100g of the icing sugar in stages. Combine to a thin icing, then sieve the lumps/dark bits out. Add the remaining icing sugar and soya cream.

When the cake has cooled apply the icing and eat. As it's quite moist I'm guessing that it may improve over night.

Cream Doughnuts

Having been told in a health checkup this week that my cholesterol level is too low to be read (using 3 separate blood samples in two machines) I decided to celebrate with a spot of deep frying.

I sometimes make special trips to Co-op to buy their doughtnuts and used to buy Tesco and M&S ones when they were suitable. Nothing beats a freshly fried one however.

I veganised a recipe a few years back and whilst it worked, the taste just wasn't quite right. I was inspired by Terre a Terre to have another go and am pleased to report that the results were pretty good.

As always I'm going to give an honest review and not just say they're amazing because I made them. Fresh out the frier they were amazing - just like ones from fun fairs. I think this recipe would work best for traditional ring doughnuts served hot. Once cooled and filled (as I did with the remainder) they weren't as good. Therefore next time I make them I'll either do ring or play with the recipe a bit.

Ingredients (4 huge doughnuts):
  • 250g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 25g Margerine
  • 150ml Water
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Active Yeast
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Sugar
Place all ingredients in a bread maker and select the Italian dough/pizza setting (45 minutes on my Panasonic).

Place the dough on a floured surface and kneed for a couple of minutes with your hands.

Divide the mixture into 4 and shape into lozenges. Place on an oiled try in a warm area for 20-30 minutes (I use an oven that's been heated to 50oc, then turned off). During this time they should smooth out and gain in volume.

Heat your fryer to 190oc and cook each doughnut for about 3 minutes (turning regularly).

I've just acquired a camera that shoots 720p video, which is a vast improvement on my iPhone's terrible video application that I used earlier this year for my pancake recipe. Thus I've decided to play around with vlogging a bit more:

They should float as soon as you place them in the oil and start bubbling immediately. Within 30 seconds you'll be able to turn it over. Once cooked remove the basket and shake off excess oil, then roll in sugar.

If filling, allow to cool first. I tried Soyatoo squirty cream, however piped whipping cream would have been better. I'd also recommend using standard jam - the stuff I used was a bit too syruppy and synthetic tasting.

Chesters (Worcester)

I'd not been back to Chesters since the first time in 2007, so jumped at the chance to return when invited out by a group of vegan friends.

As a general rule: I don't voluntarily do non vegetarian restaurants. I've been vegan long enough now to have had enough crap restaurant experiences to last a life time.

There are however a few hand picked exceptions to this rule, who whilst serving non vegetarian food; do completely understand the concept of veganism and have a choice of items on their standard menu.

Chesters is a Mexican restaurant in Worcester with an impressive selection of vegan offerings. They use vegan sour cream, cheese, tofu etc and seem to have really thought it through.

I've eaten a lot of nachos over the years (when you meet me you'll realise I'm telling the truth) and Chesters have gotten it just right. The chips aren't over salty and they don't scrimp on toppings.

Being the adovcate of deep drying you know I am; for mains I had a 6 bean chimichanga. Due to them messing up my order and serving salad not chips I ended up with both! Their chips are very good and salad (from a salad hater) pretty good too.

The chimichanga itself wasn't so great, but they do a variety of fillings so next time I'll try a different one. Their standard menu is for 2 chimichangas (£12), but at lunchtime they've the option of one (£6). I could probably eat 2, but it would be sheer gluttony if I did :p

Uncommon for non vegetarian restaurants: Chesters have a choice of vegan desserts. There did however seem to be some kind of availability cofuffle (I think in the end they decided they could do it), but with minutes to spare on my parking ticket I had to make a run for it and miss out on pudding.

In hindsight running is probably better for me than cake, but it's OK - I got the deep fat fryer out when I got home. More on that in another post.

The picture that follows is of their carrot cake, from the last time I visited:

It's large, warm, moist, slightly odd and served with vanilla swedish glace. Slightly odd in a good and tasty way though.

I'd certainly return (probably a few times) when back in that direction. I should probably start going walking in the Malverns - they're less than an hour from me and there's some very pretty countryside in the area.