Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Veganuary: Weeks Three and Four

Apologies for the delay in posting this update.

Many of the lunches and teas in the final two weeks of Veganuary consisted of leftovers from the first two weeks’ meals, and we still have a fairly full freezer now, so instead of just listing the contents of every single meal we had in weeks three and four, and risk too much repetition, I’ll just cover the new ones.

We cooked mainly from Lee Watson’s ‘Peace and Parsnips’ and Yotam Ottolenghi's 'Plenty More', both of which provided a wealth of great sounding recipes to try.  The latter is vegetarian rather than vegan, but our chosen recipes were converted without any problems.

The first, from ‘Plenty More’ was an Aubergine Pahi; a dish of Sri Lankan origin consisting of stewed aubergine, onion and peppers, spiced with vinegar, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.  It was packed with flavour and the dry roasted peanuts that we used for a garnish worked well with it.  As can be seen in the picture below, we served it on a home-made flatbread which I made with a mixture of white and Khorasan flours and flavoured with carom seeds.

The second wasn’t quite so successful.  We wanted to have a go at making a vegan burger, and were inspired by a feature on the Hareburger; a vegetarian burger sold on Ipanema beach.  It was made with soya mince, spices and eggs.  We used egg replacer instead of the eggs, but soon found out that it wasn't a replacement for holding burger patty mixtures together.  We pressed on though and managed to make an edible mixture in the size of a burger patty, but it was fragile in the extreme and didn’t withstand even the slightest pressure.  It tasted nice though and we will be trying it again with some different ingredients to bind the mixture together.  We served the burgers in home-made buns, with olives, marinated artichokes and a tomato cucumber and sweetcorn salsa.

The next featured meal was a vegan meze which consisted of a mixture of shop-bought and home-made dishes.  The main feature was a fantastic potato dish called Batata Harra.  This was another recipe from 'Plenty More' and was similar to patatas bravas but red peppers rather than tomatoes were mixed in with the potatoes, along with chilli flakes, coriander and lemon juice.  The rest of the meze was made up of broccoli with tahini sauce, falafels, tomato and cucumber salad and celery and carrot crudities with a selection of dips; olive oil and balsamic vinegar, hummus and red pepper and walnut dip.  There was plenty of this left over, so fed us amply for a tea and a couple of lunches afterwards. 

We mentioned Burns Night in our introductory post, and posed the question of whether or not it would be possible to prepare a vegan and teetotal Burns Supper.
I am pleased to say that yes, indeed we were able to pull it off in fine style, using a very good quality vegan haggis from Macsween.  Yes we could have had a go at making our own but we saw the ready-made one while we were gathering in our supplies ready for the start of Veganuary so decided to go for it.  We were delighted to discover that HP Sauce is vegan.  Not a traditional condiment for Burns Night but it goes seriously well with haggis.
Whisky would have been nice, but we substituted it with a nice glass of strongly spiced ginger drink.

After the heavy tea of haggis, neeps and tatties, it was time for something lighter for lunch the next day, so we turned again to ‘Plenty More’ and made up a fresh salad of apple, quinoa, celeriac, red onion and coriander in a vinaigrette dressing.  There were a couple of suggested servings for the salad; one with a garnish of walnuts and another with a wintry stew, but we served ours with flatbreads and hummus which worked equally well.

The final three recipes all came from ‘Peace and Parsnips’ and I am pleased to say that all of them were a pleasure to prepare and eat.

First up was a vegan take on Cauliflower cheese.  The ‘cheese’ sauce was made with ground cashews, turmeric and soya milk and while it was less pungent than dairy cheese, it still had plenty of flavour.

For the penultimate recipe we went for a vegan pissaladiere which used red peppers in place of anchovies.  We’d made a version of this before and enjoyed it, but this recipe also included a vegan version of parmesan cheese made from pine nuts, which was a great new discovery.  Although it was only used as a garnish it fitted into the category of little things that would be missed a lot if they weren’t about. 

The final recipe was a Mexican Pastor Pie, which was a vegan-style spiced shepherd’s pie.  It consisted of a layer of vegetables, spices and tofu beneath a topping of mashed potatoes and a final garnish of red peppers and coriander.  We didn’t scale down the quantities listed in the recipe, so were left with enough servings for several more meals.  The potato toppings made the dish quite a filling one, and the Pico de Gallo that we served alongside it added a bit of freshness to the heavier texture of the pie.

That was the final meal we prepared as part of our official Veganuary pledge.  We successfully followed a vegan diet for a whole month, but that's not the end of it.  We still plan to share our evaluation and thoughts for the future, but I've rambled on enough for now, so stay tuned for further updates…


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