Sunday, 20 November 2016

Coconut Ginger & Chilli Pancakes

I saw this recipe by Gunpowder Kitchen in The Times and thought it would be great for Sunday brunch.   I was missing some ingredients, so the recipe is slightly tweaked, using all chickpea flour and oat cream instead of yogurt.

110 g chickpea flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp turmeric
125 g oat cream
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 red chilli chopped
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper

Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry you are.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and turmeric, in a mixing bowl.

Whisk the cream and water together and stir into the dry ingredients, until you have a smooth batter, then season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and drop a ladle spoon of batter into the pan, then sprinkle with coconut, ginger and chilli and cook until bubbles form on the surface and the edges can be lifted with a spatula.   Flip the pancake over and cook until both sides are golden brown.

I always find that the first pancake is always a little messy, think it is something to do with the heat of the pan, but as you cook more they do turn out better.

I served the pancakes sprinkled with more coconut and an avocado, tomato and chilli salsa, but tomato or mango chutney would be good too.

Monday, 14 November 2016

The Deaf Institute Grosvenor Street Manchester 13th November 3016

As the name suggests The Deaf Institute was just that, built in 1878, but these days is an independent venue, spread over three floors, with a bar, restaurant and music hall.   I was dying to try their Sunday Vegan Hangover, a perfect end to a day spent exploring the Makers Market in the Northern Quarter.

The Deaf Institute is just off Oxford Road, in the University campus area, so I was expecting to feel a bit of a dinosaur customer, but to be honest age is irrevelant, its a cool, eclectic kind of place and I loved it.   The lighting was spot on for my liking, I hate anywhere with bright atmospheric killing lights, so my photos are not as clear as I would like, but hope they give an idea of both the place and food.

I have been following vegan chef Charlie Hadley on Twitter and although The Deaf Institute is a not a vegan establishment, she has introduced a huge selection of vegan dishes and it gives me comfort being catered for by a fellow vegan.   I caught up with Charlie for a brief chat prior to our meal, it was great to finally meet and I loved her enthusiasm for cooking and all things vegan.

I had an Aperol and soda to start, then with our meal a large glass of vegan friendly Vina Arroba Rosado, confirmed online at Stockport based Smithfield Wines who have a vegan search filter.

Steven ordered the vegan roast of the day and I opted for the seitan burger, but it was a hard decision to make, based on what was on offer.

The roast dinner was huge and would cure any hangover and with complimentary Mac 'n Cheese alongside (the best ever in our opinion), I had to help Steven out, as I demolished my burger.   The main courses were excellent and dismissed the image of vegan food being insipid, bland or boring, just a shame my photos did not do justice to the food, but we were impressed.

We shared both desserts, a chocolate brownie bowl, very much like a chocolate fondant, with soft Italian baby meringues and an ice-cream parlour bowl.   They were lush and far flung from boring fruit salad or fruit platter, which sadly can be the norm.

Overall we loved our experience from the warm welcome off Kate and Poppy, who did a wonderful job looking after us, the quirky venue, to the wonderful food created by Charlie.   They are hoping to increase their vegan options (wonder what else Charlie has in mind) and currently have vegan options on their Christmas party menu, which would appeal to groups and works outings, where vegans are sometimes an after thought, but not here.

I highly recommend The Deaf Institute, we are so lucky to have places like this, wish I had somewhere like this to go to, back in the day.

As Happycow Ambassador for Manchester it is great to see The Deaf Institute listed click here.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Roast 'Kentucky' Cauliflower

I was inspired to make this dish, by the Plant Food Power Chef, whose vegan restaurant The Allotment opened recently in Stockport, where I am celebrating my birthday in the New Year.

He made a You Tube video highlighting this dish, but apart from mentioning chickpea flour and smoked paprika, I have winged it as to what goes in the coating, so until I get to taste his version, I have no idea if this is authentic or not.

1 cauliflower
100 g chickpea flour
Salt and pepper
500 ml almond milk
2 bay leaves
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp dried sage

Serves 2

Heat the oven to 190º.   Cut the cauliflower into two and wash thoroughly, then blanch in boiling water, until just tender, when pierced with a knife.

Place in a dish with the almond milk, bay leaves and salt and pepper, then leave overnight to marinade, periodically basting with the milk and turning over to ensure it gets a good soaking.

Sieve the chickpea flour into a dish, with the herbs, spices and salt and pepper and mix well to combine.

Add the cauliflower to the flour mixture and coat with the mixture, pressing it on firmly, so it is evenly covered.

Roast in the oven for 45-50 mins until golden brown and crisp on the outside.   The recipe works so well and tastes finger licking good and would make an excellent starter, if cut into smaller pieces, with a barbecue dip or whatever takes your fancy.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Aubergine Parmigiana

I have never eaten Aubergine Parmigiana even before I went vegan, though it is a popular dish in Italian restaurants.   I saw this recipe for a vegan version in Vegan Food & Living magazine and loving aubergine had to make it.   I tweaked the recipe slightly, as it required grated cheese and I only had Good Carma Parmesan substitute, which worked perfectly.

1 large aubergine
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
2 tsp dried oregano
3 tbsp vegan Parmesan
60 g gluten free breadcrumbs
800 ml tomato sauce (I used homemade)

Serves 4

Heat the oven to 190º.   Cut the aubergine into slices and place on a baking tray, brush with 1 tbsp olive oil and cook in the oven until brown and tender.

Cook the onion in 2 tbsp oil for 10 mins, until translucent and soft, add the oregano and tomato sauce and cook for another 5 mins.

Spoon one third of the tomato sauce into an ovenproof dish and spread out evenly.

Sprinkle on some of the Parmesan, layer on half the aubergine slices, then sprinkle with some breadcrumbs.

Repeat the layers finishing with tomato sauce, add the last of the Parmesan and breadcrumbs and drizzle with the remaining oil.

Bake for 25-30 mins, until bubbling and golden on top, then leave to stand for 5 mins before serving.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Vapiano Corn Exchange Manchester 2nd November 2016

I received an invite to visit Vapiano, to sample their new vegan dishes, so how could I refuse.   The first Vapiano opened in Hamburg Germany in 2002 expanding to over 168 venues, in 30 countries, on 5 continents, with more openings planned.

Vapiano in Manchester is located over three floors, in the newly refurbished Corn Exchange, which houses various food outlets and is close to Victoria Station and the tram system, so great if you are travelling into the city.   The design and interior I really liked, modern but not minimalist, light and airy, with large tables and plenty of space.

On arrival each person in the party is given a smart card, scanned each time you order drinks, either via table service or at the bar and any food, although I was not sold on this idea at first, purely with it being something different.

We found a table and perused the wine and drinks list and asked our waiter which wines were vegan, but unfortunately this information is not currently available.   I ordered a large glass of the Mezzacorona Castel Firmian Pinot Grigio, as I know all their wines are vegan, but perhaps Vapiano will look at this for future.

The food menu is quite extensive, with special vegan dishes, clearly shown at the chef stations and I loved the covers on each tray, very appropriate with November being World Vegan Month.

I forgot to take a photo of the Special Pizza card, but the vegan option was tomato sauce, balsamic shallots, courgette, aubergine, basil and rosemary.   There is currently no vegan cheese, more to do with testing the water I think, as to the popularity of the vegan dishes.   I hope that should the vegan options be a permanent fixture, Vapiano will think about offering vegan cheese, especially with such a great selection on the market.

On to the food, which you order at the chef stations to one side of the restaurant (you can see me ordering my starter of pumpkin risotto).   The beauty of this idea is chef can tailor make each dish for every customer, dependent on their dietary or allergy requirements.   However I wonder how this works on a very busy night, as I could imagine long queues and everyone's food orders coming out at different times,  I shall have to return to find out, but on this occasion, it only took a few minutes.

The risotto, not the usual Italian flavours, but with pumpkin and orange juice, is not a combination I would expect to work, especially with coconut milk, but it was delicious, perfectly cooked and just the right consistency.   In fact Steven, who does not like or would ever order a risotto when dining out, loved it and said he would happily have it again.

I opted for the vegan pizza next, so after placing my order, I was given a buzzer and went back to our table, until it vibrated wildly, to let me know it was ready.

The pizza was excellent, with a delicious tomato sauce, just the right amount of toppings and a thin, light and crispy base and with a drizzle of chilli oil, found with other condiments and herbs, in the middle of the table, made a fabulous second course.

I had a brief chat with Manager Marius, who explained they could cater for private parties, in one area of the restaurant on the third floor, but not shut away behind closed doors, so you still get the vibe of the restaurant.   I voiced my concerns about the smart card system, but Marius, said it worked well for large parties, no trying to split the bill, as each person has their own tab, but equally for small parties or couples who want to go Dutch.  

There is no central production facility, so each branch makes everything on site, from pizza dough, to sauces and dressings, even the pasta is made daily.   I was particularly interested to hear that all their pasta is vegan friendly, as it is egg free.

I also note there are other vegan possibilities on their menu, such as Pasta Aglio E Olio (one of my favourites), Pasta Arrabbiata, various pizzas without cheese (or hopefully vegan cheese in future), garlic bread with garlic oil and bruschetta.

Once you have finished eating, you are more than welcome, to retire to the lounge bar area, to enjoy another drink.   I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Vapiano, we were welcomed and well looked after by Marius and his team and I hope to visit again soon.