Friday, 31 March 2017

Maxwells Cafe Bar King Street Clitheroe - 31st March 2017

Maxwells Café Bar is ideally located in Clitheroe, right across from the rail and bus stations, with long stay car parks nearby too.

They introduced a vegan menu last year, which seems to be popular, as every time I have visited, other people have requested it.

I decided to have a glass of wine, but only recognised one vegan wine on the list, a very nice Manzanos Rioja

I began with vegan nachos with salsa and guacamole, presented in a large bowl, sprinkled with Mexican spices, a perfect light starter.

I ordered the vegan club sandwich, but as a normal sandwich, as it would be far too deep to eat as a club sandwich, made with ciabatta bread (which I knew was soya free).   The bread was toasted, it was a good sized portion, plenty of filling and was totally scrumptious.

I think it is fantastic that Maxwells offer a vegan menu and long may it continue and as time goes on, let us hope it evolves and develops.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Prezzo Capitol Centre Walton Le Dale - 22nd March 2017

Prezzo is a large UK chain of 250 modern Italian restaurants and this was my first visit.   I had heard Prezzo had introduced a couple of vegan options, so on a recent shopping trip to Waitrose, right next door and a 25% off food voucher, who could resist.

The place inside is modern with contemporary furnishings, with well spaced tables and a big pizza oven.

I ordered olives to start, which were very nice, whilst perusing the menu.

I chose vegan pappardelle, with a side salad for mains, as I love all the components, as the vegan sharing board, was meant for two people I think and I did not want to be too greedy.

My first thought was why serve a hot dish on a cold plate and although the pasta was nicely cooked, the topping was a big disappointment.   The vegetables were not chargrilled, as shown in the photo of the dish on Prezzo's website, I felt like they been hanging around and there was no rocket.   The dish was bland and lacking flavour,  overpowered by the smokiness of the balsamic dressing, it was just edible.   There were some crunchy bits, which I let Steven try first, as I was concerned what it was, but never fathomed out what, I can only describe it, as a little like crunchy pear.   

I do not think the ingredients are of particularly high quality, which reflects in the run of the mill food.   There are far better chains to eat as a vegan and although Prezzo have added vegan options to the menu, this dish is not one I would chose again, perhaps the platter is better.

I am not one for complaining, unless its absolutely awful, I just vote with my feet and vegan pounds and would only return, if there was nowhere else to dine, when out and about.   I certainly would not want to pay full price, even with the voucher, it was still overpriced.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Nut Roast

I struggled to find a gluten free nut roast recipe, but found this on The Vegetarian Society website, but tweaked it, as I cannot eat lentils, I had no sun dried tomatoes or apricots and I doubled up the recipe, so I could freeze some.

400 g can chickpeas (reserve the juices)
2 onions chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
3 garlic cloves crushed
100 g medjool dates
400 g mixed nuts (I used chestnuts, almonds, walnuts and cashews)
100 g mixed seeds (I used pumpkin and sesame)
3 tsp dried mixed herbs (I used parsley, sage, thyme, oregano and basil)
2 tsp coconut aminos
2 carrots chopped
2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper

Serves 10-12

Heat the oven to 180º and grease a 28 x 22 x 5 cm baking tray, with a little margarine.

Saute the onion and garlic, in the oil until really soft and translucent., then add the tomato puree and herbs and cook for another 5 mins.

Put the nuts, seeds, coconut aminos, turmeric, carrots and drained chickpeas, into a food processor and blitz, until the mixture starts to bind together.   If the mixture appears dry, add a spoonful or two of the chickpea juices, until you are happy with the consistency.

Tip the mixture into the baking tray and press evenly to fill the tray, I wore plastic gloves, otherwise your hands will be stained yellow from the turmeric.

Bake for 45-50 mins until browned and cooked through, when pierced with a knife, then leave to rest for a few minutes, so you can slice and serve.

I was very impressed with how moist the nut roast was, but yet it held its shape.   I served with roast potatoes and vegetables and a big glug of onion gravy.

Onion Gravy

I never make gravy, its usually Bisto gravy granules to the rescue, but I decided to make nut roast for Sunday dinner, so thought I should have a go at gravy and this recipe is the result.

6 onions finely chopped
4 sticks of celery finely chopped
5 carrots finely chopped
6 chestnut mushrooms finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried parsley
1½ tbsp coconut aminos
1 tbsp cornflour
1½ litre vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp rapeseed oil

Put the onions, celery, mushrooms and carrots in a pan with the oil and cook for 30-40 mins, until really soft and browned.

Put the cornflour into a cup with 2 tbsp water and mix together, making sure there are no lumps

Add the cornflour mix to the pan, with the coconut aminos, stock, parsley, bay leaves and a good grind of salt and pepper.   Cook for a further 15 mins, to concentrate the flavours.

Allow the gravy to cool slightly, then blitz with a stick blender.   The gravy may need thinning down, depending on your taste, so add a little water, or if you prefer your gravy really smooth, you can pass it through a sieve.

I enjoyed the onion gravy with nut roast, roast potatoes and vegetables, a perfect Sunday dinner.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Vesuvio Whalley Road Clitheroe 18th March 2017

We were staying in Clitheroe and friends recommended Vesuvio, so I messaged to ask if the pizza bases were vegan friendly.  I received a speedy reply from owner, Massimiliano Burzio, a member of the True Neopolitan Pizza Association, confirming they were suitable.

Vesuvio cook their pizzas in a wood burning oven, at an intense heat of 450º, which really makes a difference to the pizza, giving it a delicate smoked flavour.

I ordered a Margherita, with aubergine, artichokes, peppers and red onion, without cheese.   I also asked if they would mind, not cutting my pizza into slices with the cutter, as being allergic to dairy and vegan would be a cross contamination issue and they were happy to do so.

The pizza took about ninety seconds to cook, it looked fantastic and was awesome, the base and tomato sauce were perfect, with delicious toppings, I loved it.   Vesuvio make better pizzas than most Italian restaurants I have visited in recent times, it is highly recommended.

I drank an excellent Booths Supermarket Chianti Classico, clearly labelled as vegan friendly, with my pizza and it made for an excellent dinner.

Friday, 17 March 2017


My discovery of chickpea flour and its uses has transformed my cooking, with this recipe for omelette, being a regular in our house.   The recipe is really versatile, you can put any kind of vegetable in it, use leftovers or just have it plain, but I used the ingredients below.

1 onion sliced
3 mushrooms sliced
2 potatoes
½ red pepper sliced
2 portions of frozen spinach defrosted
120 g chickpea flour
2 tbsp olive oil
200 ml water
Salt and pepper

Serves 2

Heat the oven to 200º and grease an ovenproof round baking tin with a little oil.   Cook the potatoes in the microwave, until tender when pierced with a knife, then slice.   Put 1 tbsp oil in a pan, add the onion, pepper, mushrooms and potatoes and fry until cooked, then add the spinach.  

The potatoes cooked before the other vegetables, so I removed them from the pan and put them in the baking tray.

Add the vegetables to the potatoes and evenly arrange, so the omelette will cook through.

Sieve the chickpea flour into a bowl, with a good grind of salt and pepper and the remaining oil, then whisk in the water, ensuring there are no lumps, so the result is a smooth batter.

Pour the batter over the vegetables and swirl the tin gently, to distribute evenly in the tin.

Cook in the oven for 15-20 mins, until firm and cooked through.   You can also cook the omelette in the pan on the hob top, turning it to cook both sides, but I find it cooks better in the oven.