Saturday, 16 January 2016

Crust Bold Street Liverpool 15th January 2016

Crust is a newly opened restaurant and bar, specialising in Italian classics  some with a twist and is an extremely busy place, especially on a Friday night, when we visited.

I contacted Crust via Twitter and received a very positive response as to vegan options, with plenty to chose from and many of the pizzas can be adapted.   I decided on tomato and basil bruschetta to start, which I shared with my husband which at £3 was a bargain.   Mains was Marinara pizza, a simple traditional Italian classic of tomato, oregano, garlic and olive oil, but I asked for artichokes as an extra, with a side order of skin on French fries

The food was delicious and having eaten Marinara pizza all over Italy and in Naples, where pizza orginated, it is fantastic to see it being served at Crust as it should be and not a seafood pizza, as in most Italian restaurants.   Service was fast and efficient, which it needs to be as Crust is a vibrant, busy place and if you are looking for a quiet romantic dinner for two, it is not the place for you, but if you want delicious authentic Italian pizza, get yourself down to Bold Street.

Brasco Lounge 27A Mann Island Liverpool 15th January 2016

Brasco Lounge is part of a group of informal food led cafes and bars, with this particular venue not far from Albert Dock.   The added bonus is that they have an extensive vegan menu, so plenty of choice, whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner.

I was here for brunch so chose chimichurri field mushrooms, potato, spinach and spring onion hash, fried aubergine and roast tomatoes, swopping the spicy beans for extra aubergine.   I also had two slices of granary toast and a large pot of Earl Grey tea.

I could not fault the breakfast, it was delicious, tasty and just the ticket, after a freezing breezy walk down the sea front from Albert Dock and service throughout was spot on.

The company have various venues throughout the UK, including the Cosy Club Manchester where I visited last year (see my review here), so I hope to visit others in the future.

Lunya College Lane Liverpool 14th January 2016

Lunya is a lovely Catalan deli, bar and restaurant, with the added bonus of having an extensive vegan menu.   We had a lovely table for two near the bar and were very well looked after by our waiters Natalia and Gokhan.

The vegan menu has so much choice, it was difficult to decide what to have, a tough decision.

Pre dinner nibbles were stuffed giant gordal olives, recommended by Natalia (an excellent choice) and roasted Catalan almonds.   The olives were some of the best I have eaten, lush, moist and delicious and I love almonds, so perfect to start the meal.

Catalan tomato bread, patatas pil pil and pan fried woodland mushrooms and asparagus followed the nibbles.   I could not fault the dishes, they were totally divine, I did not want to finish they were that good, as you can see from the photos.

I love eating these small plates of food, so if you fancy something else, you can order more, so to finish it had to be escalivada, another fine dish.

To accompany the meal we had a very nice bottle of Rioja Gran Reserva, delicious and vegan, which complimented the meal perfectly.

I loved Lunya, so much so that not only will I visit Liverpool again, but will be paying their Manchester venue a visit at some point in the future.

The Egg Cafe 16-18 Newington Liverpool 14th January 2016

I visited The Egg Cafe back in December for lunch (see my review here).   This latest visit was for an afternoon snack, in between the huge breakfast I had eaten at 81 Renshaw and dinner later at Lunya.   You certainly cannot miss this place, with its bright pink exterior and on entering even though it was mid afternoon, the place was really busy.

I chose their vegan chocolate crunch cake, it was my birthday after all and a pot of Earl Grey tea.

The cake was huge, I actually thought they would cut it in two, for me to share with my husband, who also wanted a slice, but we got one each with a big pot of tea each all for the bargain price of £6.00.   The cake was in one word "awesome" with plenty of texture and crunch, loads of chocolate and I happily polished it off, no wonder this place is so popular, serving such delicious food.   A visit to Liverpool would not be the same without a visit to The Egg Cafe.

The Garden by Leaf Wood Street Liverpool 13th January 2016

The Garden by Leaf is situated at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, a venue offering a unique programme of exhibitions, film and participant led art projects, with four state of the art film screens.   I enquired as to vegan options and knew that there would be plenty of choice, as I received a very nice email from Manager Robyn.   I had also been to their sister restaurant Leaf on Bold Street in December (see my review here) and had a great vegan lunch.

The place is light, airy and welcoming, with a lovely tranquil feel to it, but yet bright and colourful too.

There are vegan options for all tastes, for breakfast, light bites, sandwiches and soups, so not easy to make a decision.

I chose a houmous and roasted vegetable sandwich, one of my all time favourites, with a pot of Earl Grey tea.   It was delicious, packed with filling and served with some balsamic dressed salad leaves on the side.

I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch and The Garden by Leaf will be on my list to visit, when I am next in Liverpool.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Lemon Sponge Cake

I was given this recipe by my 82 year old neighbour Alan, who is not vegan, but enrolled for some cookery classes years ago and surprisingly this was one of the recipes.   I made buns but the recipe originally makes 2 x 8" cakes and is a match made in heaven with this vegan lemon curd recipe.   You can find a recipe for a chocolate version at the bottom of the page.  

12 oz self raising flour
3 tsp baking powder
9 oz caster sugar
9 tbsp rapeseed oil
12 fl oz water( replace 2 tbsp of water with 2 tbsp lemon juice)
Zest of one lemon

Makes 12-18 buns

Heat the oven to 180º.   Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients.

Mix with a balloon whisk to a thick batter like consistency.

Put large or small muffin cases into a bun tray, depending on how big you want them.

Fill the cases with the batter mixture, to about a centimetre from the top, to allow them to rise.

Bake for about 20-25 mins, until well risen and brown on top and when you stick a cocktail stick into the centre, it comes out clean.

The mixture makes fabulous chocolate buns, using 10 oz flour, 2 oz cocoa powder, 1½ tsp vanilla essence and replace the lemon juice with 4 tbsp water.

4 oz vegan margarine
7 oz icing sugar
1 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp lemon juice

Mix all the ingredients together to make a smooth buttercream, for chocolate buttercream use 6 oz of icing sugar and 1 oz cocoa powder, replacing the lemon juice with 1 tbsp hot water.   Cut the tops off the buns and fill with buttercream, replace the tops and dust with icing sugar.

The buns are also fantastic served warm with cream, ice cream or custard, or leave to cool and decorate with icing and crystallised lemon peel.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Aubergine & Walnut Pesto Rolls

The photo of this recipe in The Sunday Times screamed "make me" so tonight was the night.   I have tweaked the recipe slightly, omitting the cheese and using baby kale instead of basil for the pesto, which worked a treat.   This recipe really surprised me, it is awesome.

1 aubergine
3 tbsp olive oil
50 g walnuts
70 g baby kale
2 garlic cloves crushed
Salt and pepper
Tomato sauce to serve either home made or ready made

Serves 2

Heat the oven to 180º.   Slice the aubergine lengthways, brush with olive oil on both sides, place on a nonstick baking tray and cook for 20 mins, until golden and soft enough to roll, but not so soft they fall apart.

Put the walnuts, remaining olive oil, garlic, kale and plenty salt and pepper in a food processor and blitz to a coarse consistency, so it still has a bite to it.

Heat the tomato sauce and keep warm.

Remove the aubergine from the oven, place a dollop of pesto in the centre of each aubergine slice and roll up.   Ladle some of the tomato sauce on a plate and arrange the aubergine slices on top.