Thursday, 16 July 2015


400 g can chickpeas
165 g caster sugar
Pinch of vanilla powder or 1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp cornflour

After researching the recipe for making vegan meringues on the internet,  the mix of aquafaba to sugar should be 1:1.33.   After draining the chickpeas the aquafaba weighed 123 g, so I used 165 g caster sugar.   Whisk the aquafaba until it forms white soft peaks, add the vanilla, then gradually add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking well to avoid any grainess to the mixture.   When all the sugar is incorporated, you should be able to hold the bowl over your head, without the meringue falling on it.   Add the vinegar and cornflour and whisk thoroughly.

Line baking trays with parchment paper and either pipe the meringue into rounds or you can just spoon on and shape as you wish.

Bake for 2 hours at 110°c then turn off the oven and resist all temptation to open the oven door whilst cooling for a good 4 hours.   Remove from the oven, peel off the parchment paper and store in an airtight container or freeze for up to a month.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Almond And Mint Pesto

I love basil and pine nut pesto, so when I came across this recipe from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, I just had to give it a whirl and it has become a staple in our house.

50 g mint leaves chopped
50 g almonds
1 garlic clove crushed
One lemon
½ tsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of sugar
75-90 ml olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Serves 4

First finely grate the lemon.   Toast the almonds, leave to cool, then place in a food processor with the mint, garlic, lemon zest and blitz until finely chopped.   Add the mustard and sugar and blitz a little more.   Slowly add the oil till you get the consistency you like, I like pesto quite runny so would use all the olive oil.   Add a good squeeze of lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper.   I make very large portions of this pesto and then freeze it in pots which works really well.

I also often cheat with this recipe and just use untoasted ground almonds and the recipe still works really well.

In his book:

Hugh serves the pesto with linguine and roasted tomatoes, but I use any shape of pasta and love to serve with stir-fried vegetables like onion, aubergine, peppers and fennel with any herbs I happen to have handy in the garden.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Rosemary Farinata

I have fallen in love with chickpea flour, otherwise known as gram or besan flour and made vegan omelettes, Burmese tofu and this Italian recipe farinata, a speciality in Liguria especially in Livorno where I sampled a "Cinque e Cinque" (see my review for Torteria Da Gagarin).

I have taken inspiration from several recipes and come up with my own quantity of ingredients, to make two main course portions.

150 g chickpea flour
50 ml olive oil
250 ml water
2 tbsp chopped rosemary
Salt and pepper

Serves 2

Sift the chickpea flour into a large bowl and season with salt, add the water and whisk to form a light batter.   Add the olive oil and rosemary and whisk again and if possible leave to rest for an hour.   I do not always leave it to rest and have used it immediately, which does not seem to affect the finished result.

Oil a large round pan, I use a metal pizza pan and put it into a hot oven at 220° for 5 mins.

Remove the pan from the oven,  pour in the batter and return to the oven for about 15-20 mins.  Its cooked when you shake the pan and the farinata comes away from the side of the pan and is firm to the touch.

As for a filling, well the world is your oyster, I love it with garlic mushrooms and a good drizzle of olive oil.   I have previously posted a vegan omelette recipe which contains tofu, however having recently been diagnosed allergic to soya I will be posting a new omelette recipe made just with chickpea flour.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Whaletail Cafe Penny Street Lancaster 1st July 2015

I have been to Whaletail Cafe many years ago, but on a recent trip to Morecambe, due to Network Rail problems, found myself at Lancaster train station with time on my hands and a hungry tummy. Whaletail is 5 minutes from the station and remembering how good it was last time, it was a no brainer rather than standing at the station, with nothing vegan to eat at Costa Coffee bar a packet of dried mango!!

Whaletail Cafe is on the second floor and in the same building as Single Step Wholefoods another must visit place for vegans, as it is packed with everything you need.   Whaletail has a lovely cosy feel and I love the artwork over the counter made up of kitchen utensils in the shape of a whale and they have a big specials board as you walk in and a varied menu including vegan options.

I only wanted a light lunch as I was dining later that day, so I chose the salad bowl which is always vegan and consisted of chickpeas in a curry mayo, carrot and raisin salad, wild rice, lettuce leaves, tomato, pasta salad and lentils with mint.   They also have a fabulous cake display many being vegan and offered vegan crumble with either vegan ice-cream or custard.

I have decided to make a second trip to Lancaster, in the not too distant future, to sample their vegan breakfast straight off the train, do a bit of shopping and then back for tea and cakes!   They even have outdoor space which is great on a sunny day.   Highly recommended.