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