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 and 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.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Bashall Barn Visitor Centre Bashall Town 1st & 9th December 2015

Bashall Barn has grown and evolved over the years and appeals to all ages.   It has a restaurant, ice-cream parlour, coffee shop, farm shop and is also a successful wedding venue, so its multi functioning.

I visited with a friend for lunch and it was great not having to pre-order, as they have three vegan options on the menu.

It is a bright, light and airy restaurant with a wood burning stove on entering, plenty of comfy seating and well spaced tables and on a nice day, an outside deck with views over the beautiful Ribble Valley countryside.

I chose the chickpea burger, chips and tomato salsa, with salad to replace the onion rings, which was a good decision, as I do not think I would have managed to eat them.   It was a good sized portion, the burger was delicious with the salsa and the chips were fantastic.

Service from the young waitress and General Manager Henk who looked after us was spot on, friendly and professional and any requests dealt with quickly.

I revisited Bashall Barn on the 9th December with other friends, but this time chose the couscous stuffed mushrooms, with chips, salad and onion chutney.   I have to admit previous experience of this kind of mushroom dish, at other restaurants in the past, has not been the best, with the mushrooms so tightly packed with the filling, that it dries out in the oven and ends up with a crust on the top.    Bashall Barn's version was moist, packed with flavour with light and fluffy couscous, lovely chips and the onion chutney went really well.

Sadly I cannot try their other vegan dish, bean chilli as I am allergic to most beans, but I am quite happy to alternate between the two dishes I have already had on future visits, as they are both delicious.

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.

The 8th Day Vegan Wine Tasting Manchester 15th November 2015

I have only been to The 8th Day once and that was for breakfast, but being a wine lover, could not resist attending their vegan wine tasting, hosted by Linda Ward of Vintage Roots Organic Wines.   I thought the price of £10 per person, which included seven wines and vegan canapes was an absolute bargain.

There were about thirty people attending and we sat in two's or groups of six and as the night went on and the wines were drunk, the noise levels rose, it was good fun.

The wines we sampled were:

DOC Prosecco Spumante Tasi Fasoli Gino Italy

VDP Cotes de Gascogne Les Quatres Cepages, Domaine de Pajot France

Reserve Chardonnay Domaine Bousquet Argentina

Pure Cabernet Sauvignon, Chateau Brau, France

Merlot Reserve Domane Bousquet Argentina

Heaven on Earth Stellar South Africa

DOC Rioja Otis Tarda Crianza Bodegas Navarioja Spain

Linda spoke as to what makes a wine vegan (no animal products used in the fining process) and that more wines are vegan, than you would think, but the wine maker is not required to state what fining product is used on the label.   However the European Union will be introducing legislation in the near future, which is excellent news for us vegans.   Linda talked us through each wine, explaining the wine making method and also which foods matched each wine.

I hope The 8th Day have other wine tastings, as I would definitely return.

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.