Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Kale Apple and Walnut Salad

I found this recipe in the Booths supermarket "The Great Northern Christmas 2015" book, so I made it as a starter for our Christmas dinner and I am glad I did, it is a fantastic recipe.

2 large carrots cut into long batons
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
50 g pumpkin seeds
50 g walnuts
350 g kale
2 apples cut into matchsticks
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 180ยบ.   Place the carrots in a bowl and toss with the cumin seeds and rapeseed oil.   Spread on a baking tray and roast for 5 mins, then add the seeds and walnuts and roast for a further 2-3 mins until toasted and golden.

Add the kale to the tray and toss well with the carrot mixture, then cook for a further 10 mins until the kale is crispy, then remove from the oven and tip into a bowl and toss in the apple.   Whisk the cider vinegar and olive oil together, add to the bowl, season with plenty of salt and pepper and combine thoroughly.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Mac & Greens

This recipe is another one from Anna Jones who writes for the Sunday Times and I just left the Pecorino cheese out to veganise it.

100g macaroni (I had to use fusilli)
1 large bunch of basil
25 g oats
100 g kale
zest of ½ lemon
½ tsp of chilli flakes
3 tbsp olive oil
250 g cherry tomatoes
75 g toasted almonds

Serves 2

Heat the oven to 200°.   Cook the macaroni until it is very al dente, reserving a mug of the cooking water and return the pasta to the pan.   Put half the basil, oats, kale, lemon zest, chilli and 1½ tbsp oil into a blender and blitz to a rough paste.   Season to taste and mix thoroughly.

Rinse the processor and add the cherry tomatoes and almonds, remaining basil and oil and blitz to a smooth paste season and blitz again.

Add the tomato mixture to the pasta and stir well, add a little of the reserved pasta water little by little, you want a sauce the consistency of double cream.   Do not worry if it seems very runny, as the pasta will soak it all up in the oven.

Transfer the pasta to an ovenproof dish and spread the kale mixture evenly over the top.

Bake for 20-25 mins until the topping is crunchy, then remove from the oven and wait 10 mins before serving.

I served the mac and greens with a fennel and avocado salad and it was delicious, definitely one to make again.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Leaf Bold Street Liverpool 4th December 2015

Leaf on Bold Street is another Liverpool institution, apparent by how busy it was on a Friday lunchtime, it was packed.

As with many of the eateries in the city, the building must have been a warehouse in previous times and has a chilled bohemian atmosphere, with tables and communal tables, arranged over two floors, with many features of its old self left in place, which an interior designer would struggle to re-create.   It was so busy, I sat upstairs and perused the menu and read all about Leaf.

All vegan options are highlighted with VV, so it was easy to decide which dishes were vegan friendly, although a few more would be an improvement, but at least there are some clearly marked.

I chose a lemon and coriander houmous salad toasted sandwich, with a bowl of red pepper and tomato soup.

I really could not think of one negative, the sandwich was as it should be, packed with loads of filling, delicious and fresh and the soup was a cracker, really tasty.

I have heard that their vegan breakfast is superb, so when next back in Liverpool, it will involve another trip to Leaf.

Delifonseca Stanley Street Liverpool 3rd December 2015

Delifonseca Stanley Street, is one of two restaurants, run by the same team, the other being at Dockside and the only reason we chose it, were the vegan options on the menu.  On the night we visited there was torrential rain, so a plus point was how near it was to the Premier Inn we were staying at.

There is a small, cool bar area downstairs, with old cinema seats to sit on, still with seat numbers in place, it had a really relaxed chilled atmosphere, with the restaurant on the second floor upstairs.   I must give top marks to the chap serving behind the bar (I really wish I had asked his name, so I could mention him).   When I asked about vegan options, he immediately came over with the menus and his Ipad with the specials, which were on the board upstairs and said any dishes that could be veganised, they would be happy to do so.

When we were ready to go upstairs, the chap rang the restaurant staff and the kitchen, to let them know I had a vegan dietary requirement, he made me feel that I would be well looked after, which I was.

I had olives to nibble on, you get good and bad olives and these were excellent.   On the specials board, the vegetarian option was griddled cauliflower "steak" with pine nuts, ricotta, cumin yoghurt and toasted sourdough.   I asked if it could be veganised suggesting houmous and aubergine pate instead of the dairy elements and with a side order of chips.   When it was served chef had decided to serve it with tahini sauce and he made the right decision, it was fantastic, I loved it, an absolutely spot on dish and not a crumb left on my plate.

Delifonseca has a great wine list, with many organic wines, which is unusual for a restaurant, so to accompany the meal, I chose a Gerard Bertrand organic Chardonnay, which was delicious and I love their ethos with their environmental credentials and low carbon footprint.

Service throughout from first stepping through the front door and the chap in the bar, to waitresses Jen and Carrie-Ann upstairs, was friendly and helpful, really could not fault it.   Will I return to Delifonseca, you bet I will.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Evuna Deansgate Manchester 14th November 2015

I love tapas and wanted to visit Evuna so booked their Deansgate restaurant at 21.45 on a Saturday night, the place is cosy and warm, just the ticket, as the weather outside was torrential rain and cold.

We had a cosy table for two in the window, were given menus and our drinks order was taken.  I knew they had vegan options available, as I had already made enquires, so chose carrots and runner beans with pine nuts, oven roasted vegetables, tomato and onion salad and patatas bravas.   The lighting was quite dim so the photos do not do the food justice, but I thoroughly enjoyed all the food, especially the carrot dish.

The place was busy even so late on at night and service was friendly and efficient, so I will definitely revisit, but next time I will pay their Northern Quarter site a visit.

Comptoir Libanais Spinningfields Manchester 14th November 2015

I visited Comptoir Libanais on a dank and wet Saturday lunchtime and the place lifts your mood as soon as you walk through the door, it is so colourful and bright, even the menu!

I had been on their website and found it easy to decide on vegan options, as there is a search filter, so I knew there was a good selection of dishes for me to choose from.   I chose baba ghanju dip, fattoush salad and batata harra, a spiced potato dish, all tasty and delicious and just the kind of food I love, fresh and light.

I had an excellent mug of black Americano coffee, but a big thumbs up to Comptoir Libanais, as they serve soya or almond milk.

The Manchester branch had only opened two days earlier, but we had excellent service from Lorenzo our waiter who had moved up to Manchester from one of their London branches.   We had a chat with Charli, who I presume is the Manager and she explained that all the tiles, teapots, bags, foodstuffs and everything for sale, in the front part of the building were all authentic and imported from Lebanon.   Everywhere you look is a big splash of vibrant colour, even the ladies toilets!

If the weather had been fine there are lovely seating areas at the front of the building, but it was a little cold on this visit.

I will definitely make a return trip Comptoir Libanais, as I want to try more of their delicious Lebanese dishes.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Crispy Cauliflower Pasta

I was given this recipe by my friend Joe, who had seen it in the Sunday Times magazine, so thanks Joe its fantastic!

700 g cauliflower chopped
80 g pine nuts
60 ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 tbsp oregano
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp chilli  flakes
400 g any kind of pasta I used fusilli
Salt and pepper

Serves 4

Put the cauliflower and pine nuts into a food processor and blitz until finely chopped.

Put the olive oil in a pan, add the cauliflower, lemon  zest, oregano, garlic and chilli flakes, season with plenty salt and pepper and cook until the cauliflower is golden brown.

Whilst the cauliflower is cooking, cook the pasta until al dente, drain and toss with the cauliflower mixture.

I served the pasta dish with some lightly fried broccoli, which worked really well, but you could serve it with some lightly fried greens or kale.   I love this recipe and the humble cauliflower really makes it, so I will definitely be making it again and again.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Soup Kitchen Spear Street Manchester 26th October 2015

I have been meaning to pop into Soup Kitchen for ages and wish I had done sooner, as I loved it on my first visit.   It is a really relaxed kind of place, with long bench type communal tables, loads of people coming and going, with blackboards explaining what dishes were available and plenty of vegan options.

You order food at the counter, so I opted for a roasted vegetable and houmous sandwich, with a mug of roasted butternut squash and sage soup, which at £6.50 was a bargain.   The lunch was delicious with loads of filling in the sandwich, which was probably one of the best sandwiches I have eaten recently.

I could not manage any cake for afters, but there were vegan peanut butter brownies and veggie fritterz available.

I will certainly be revisiting Soup Kitchen and will make sure I have room for whatever vegan cakes are on that day.