Monday, 31 October 2016

Greens Cafe & Bistro College Street Grasmere 29th October 2016

Greens Cafe & Bistro is in the lovely village of Grasmere and highly recommended by two friends (incidentally not even vegetarians), as they cater for every kind of diet, so vegans are welcome and they use fresh and local produce.

We were lucky to get a table, as the place was packed, especially as it was a drizzly day and everyone wanted to eat inside.   Greens is cosy and welcoming with an extensive menu, so I was spoilt for choice, especially as they had cakes and desserts on offer too.

First impressions always count, so when my coffee was served and I was placing my food order and mentioned vegan, the chap took my coffee away and brought it back, replacing the shortbread, with two dairy free vegan chocolates.   How is that for attention to detail.

I chose a jacket potato with spicy houmous, salad and mango chutney dressing, just the kind of lunch I needed, half way round a twelve mile walk.

I love a good jacket potato and with the big dollop of spicy houmous, I was a happy vegan, made even happier, when I bought a takeaway lime and coconut cupcake, to have with a flask of tea later.   The cupcake got well squashed in my rucksack, but it was delicious, with a really zesty lime flavour and plenty of icing on the top.

I would not hesitate to visit Greens again and I wish other non vegan places, offered such a selection of vegan options, they certainly deserve to get vegan business.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Lemon Polenta Cake

My inspiration for this cake, came from a recipe out of The Guardian and you can vary the flavours by using lime or orange.   I use Oatly oatgurt yogurt, the nearest I have found to dairy free yogurt and chickpea flour, as I had no other gluten free flour and both worked great in the recipe.

100 g dairy free margarine
150 g caster sugar
100 g ground almonds
100 g polenta
50 g chickpea flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
200 g oat yogurt 
2 lemons
1 tbsp cornflour

Makes 8-10 slices

Heat the oven to 180° and grease an 8" loose bottom cake tin.   In a mixing bowl, cream the margarine and caster sugar till light and fluffy.

Zest the lemons and add to the bowl with the almonds, polenta, chickpea flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and yogurt and combine thoroughly.

Juice the lemons, put 2 tbsp juice into a cup and heat the rest in a pan.   Add the cornflour to the cup and stir to remove any lumps, then add to the pan, whisking as the mixture thickens to a paste.

Whisk the cornflour paste into the cake mixture, then pour into the tin and bake for 45-50 mins, until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean, when you pierce the cake.

The cake is awesome with ice-cream, cream or yogurt and is a match made in heaven with this fantastic vegan lemon curd recipe.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Aubergine Bacon

I have never been a fan of meat like alternatives, tried fake bacon once and hated it, but I was intrigued by this recipe by Aylin from Ecosalon.   Aubergine is one of my favourite vegetables and coincidentally the day I made it, newspapers were full of news about a form of MRSA being found in pork products, what better time to try vegan bacon.

1 aubergine
2 tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce if you are not soya allergic like me)
1 tbsp brown sugar
¼ tsp chilli powder
1 tsp liquid smoke
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp maple syrup
1 tbsp olive oil

Makes 8-10 slices

Heat the oven to 200°.  Cut the aubergine lengthwise into slices, I did not make them too thin, as I did not want the bacon to be too crispy.   Mix the coconut aminos, paprika, sugar, chilli powder, liquid smoke and maple syrup together, if you want a really smokey bacon, add more liquid smoke and paprika.

Line a baking tray or dish with parchment paper and brush with the olive oil.

Place the aubergine slices on the parchment paper turning over, so that both sides are coated with the oil.

Bake for 10-15 mins in the oven, until beginning to brown slightly, take out the oven and brush with the smoke mixture on both sides.

Return to the oven until brown and crispy, checking to make sure you do not burn the aubergine, turning regularly.   Remove from the oven and drain on kitchen paper.

I served on a granary teacake with sliced tomatoes and ketchup, absolutely loved it, far better to use vegetables, than processed meat replacements.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

The Retreat Tearooms Main Street Grassington 30th September 2016

The Retreat Tearooms is a vegetarian cafe during the day and bistro on Friday and Saturday evenings. I enquired via their Facebook page, as to vegan options and allergy requirements and owner Adele was so helpful, I booked a table and a B&B up the street, that she recommended as well.   I love the exterior from the street, so inviting and packed full of customers when we walked past Friday afternoon, to check out the menu displayed outside.

When we arrived we found The Retreat equally inviting inside, with low lighting, candles and a relaxed calm feel and we were shown to a lovely big table for two.

I chose the aubergine stack ,with houmous replacing the goats cheese and it was a tasty start to the meal, as I love all the components of the dish, so it was a winner.

Main course was an adaptation of the filo parcel dish, with a vegan curry sauce and chips, again it was delicious, the parcel was packed with vegetables and I loved the sauce.

I was pretty full by this time, but grilled peppered peaches, pistachio crumb and raspberries, were impossible to resist and as the photos show, you can see why, presentation was topnotch as was the flavour.   It is a dish I will replicate at home.

My only niggle is with the wine list, with no vegan wines labelled, although you would presume that all the wines would be vegetarian, but this was not clear either.   However I kicked off with a bottle of Corona and continued with wine I knew was vegan, but maybe this is something The Retreat will look at in the future.

We had a friendly front of house team looking after us, Carole and Steve, who did a great job and were helpful but professional.

I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to The Retreat and will definitely revisit in the future.