Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ciderrrr Hotpot

The best thing about Hotpots is you can really experiment and mix things up! Pretty much anything can go in a hotpot. I made one last night, based on this recipe below. However I chucked in some courgettes and peppers as well, and the boyfriend and his brother added some chorizo to their portions. We had it with ciabatta, and they had garlic butter on theirs. A lovely, wholesome meal and VERY easy to make!


- 1oz dried shitake mushrooms
- 1 small head of fennel or 4 celery sticks
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 12 shallots, peeled and whole
- 2 cups button mushrooms, trimmed and halved
- half pint of dry cider
- half cup of sundried tomato paste
- 1oz sundried tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- chopped fresh parsley to garnish (optional)


1. Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl, pour over boiling water and leave to soak for 10 mins.

2. Roughly chop the fennel or celery, heat the oil in a large casserole pot and sauté the fennel and the shallots for 10 mins over a moderate heat until lightly browned. Add the button mushrooms and fry for 2-3 minutes.

3. Drain the dried mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Add the dried mushrooms to the pan.

4. Pour in the cider and stir in the sundried tomato paste and the sundried tomatoes. Add the bay leaf. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 30 mins. If it seems a little dry add either a little more cider or the water from the mushrooms until happy with the consistency.

- Beautiful!!!

And here is a photo of the Bai-Toey (Pandan) glutenous rice & soya cake that I bought in the Asian Market and ate before I could get home to take a proper picture for the review... It's usually a brighter green than this, they were quite dull for some reason today:

Asian Market Goodies

I went to the Asian Market today. I had been looking forward to my adventure all week and spent just under €14.00... this isn't everything I got for the money, I confess that I ate one of the glutenous rice & soya cakes and the boyfriend ate the crisps! So here is what I managed to NOT tuck into so that I could write this review. It was so difficult to choose what to get, there's a million and one things I wanted to buy, but I just didn't have the money and more importantly, didn't want my belly to get any bigger!

These pretty items are amazingly delicious glutenous cakes made from sticky rice flour and soya bean paste. I am totally addicted to them. They come in a variety of colours and shapes, but my favourite (which is not pictured, as I devoured it as soon as it was purchased!) is flavoured with pandan leaf and is bright green in colour with a layer of yellow soya bean paste sandwiched in the middle. The pretty multi-layered one on the right is flavoured with banana essence and I love the texture of it. The yellow bean paste layer is really soft and mushy, and the sticky white rice flour layer is slightly firmer. The cake on the left has a hard white outer with a slightly powdery texture to it and the same yellow soya bean paste inside. They are very sweet, probably not that good for you - but hey, I guess one every so often can't harm you much. These cakes, to me, taste like a mixture of marzipan and rice pudding. Sounds bizarre I know, but I love both of those things so it's heaven to me!

These are soft squares of puffed wheat flour with sugar and palm oil. Again, probably not something you should eat in large quantities, but they come wrapped in individual small squares perfect for a little snack. I suppose you could compare them to a rice crispie square, but more savoury and much softer. They are delicious and I hope they will serve in keeping my rice crispie square cravings at bay!

I have always loved cashew nuts, and edible rice paper, so these have been a favourite for a while. They are little round sandwiches of sugary cashew nuts with rice paper on the tops and bottoms. Heaven! You can get sesame seed versions as well (with no nuts).

These peanut brittle snacks are along the same lines as the cashew nut ones, only they have peanuts and sesame seeds in a hard, sugary mixture with no rice paper. Delicious! The individual packs are disappointingly small though, but still good to pop into a lunchbox to satisfy a sweet tooth.

I've never tried these before and am really looking forward to it: Taro chips! Well, I've tried them in the normal crisp format in mixed vegetable crisp bags before, but I've never tried them as actual "chipsticks". Should be an interesting (and probably nicer) take on the normal, boring potato based snack.

And finally, the good old Wasabi Peas and Spicy Dried Broad Beans. I love these so much. I really wish they came in smaller packets, as they are so addictive. Leaving me alone with a whole bag is a bad idea as it's physically impossible to stop eating them once you've opened a bag. I've never had the spicy broad beans before, only the normal kind and the garlic flavoured ones. Both are good so I expect the spicy ones will be just as tasty. They are so crunchy and salty. Probably really bad for you too, but you can kid yourself into thinking otherwise because they are broad beans! Wasabi peas are not as hot and disgusting as you may think, most varieties have a subtle flavour... unless you're like me and stuff handfuls of them into your mouth at a time, then maybe it can get a little hot after a while!

Sadly, that is all I got to buy :( Next week I'll definitely be heading back for a couple more bits so I'll do another review, possibly also on more normal food items, not just snacks.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


This weekend I'm going to head to the Asian Market in town and do a special blog post on Japanese treats that are vegan! I love love LOVE any kind of Asian food, especially their cakes, cookies and dried bean snacks. I'm really looking forward to this opportunity to review them all, as it gives me a good excuse to go out and stock up on everything I love!

These are Umbrella Cookies, made from wheat flour, palm oil, sugar, black sesame seeds, blended spices and dash of salt.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


So I thought I'd give making my own houmous a go tonight. I had been recommended a recipe containing beetroot, and I love beetroot so immediately thought it would be something I'd like. My blender isn't the best so it ended up a bit chunky, and I didn't have a couple of the ingredients (tahini or lemon juice) so I made up my own recipe! Here it is:

- 1 can of Chickpeas
- 3 medium cooked Beetroots
- 2 cloves of garlic
- couple small handfuls of Sesame & Pumpkin Seeds
- quarter cup of Balsamic Vinegar
- dessert spoon of Vegan Boullion dissolved in a little water
- lots of Paprika and Chilli Powder
- a little Salt and Pepper

I am not the sort of person who can eat a whole tub of houmous, it usually goes off in the fridge so I decided to freeze it in a silicone baking tray, into six medium sized portions. I've done a taste-test and it is absolutely gorgeous! Can't wait to have it tomorrow with some cruditées of carrot, baby corn and cucumber!


How come I thought ALL crumpets were non-vegan for so long?! I remember looking at a few different sorts and seeing "butter" listed as an ingredient, possibly in the raising agent... and today I discovered that Tesco's own crumpets are dairy-free! HALLELUJAH! How I have missed crumpets. I bought a pack of 12 and plan to have 2 for breakfast tomorrow with a little bit of peanut butter. Oh my sweet Lord I have missed crumpets...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Easy Grab-n-Go Vegan Food

I made this collage of some of my favourite foods, to illustrate that being a vegan on a daily basis is actually quite simple.

I love pimento peppers. I get these in Lidl, in a jar of vinegar. They are gorgeous to add to salads as they are sweet and the vinegar acts as an adequate enough dressing without adding anything to it. For adding to salads, Aldi also do a lovely can of mixed beans and you can find a lot of cheap mixed nuts and seeds there, as well as vegan chutneys in their "Specially Selected" range.

For snacking, cashew nuts are excellent sources of protein and taste lovely. I'm not a huge fan of nuts, unless they are coated in something... so when I discovered the stall in the Ilac Centre that sells dark chocolate coated almonds, peanuts and brazil nuts, I was over the moon! Other snacks I love are dark chocolate rice crispy squares, they are so easy to make at home and are very satisfying! I'm a real chocoholic, so whenever I discover something chocolatey and vegan I get rather excited ;)

Another favourite quick snack to grab is an M&S samosa. Most Indian snacks like samosas, pakoras and bhajis are vegan and the M&S ones are delicious. Dip them in Patak's mango chutney - heaven!!

I've included bagels as they are my favourite thing to eat in the morning. Sometimes they can be quite calorific, but the ones from Superquinn or Weightwatchers are only just over 100 calories so you don't have to feel guilty and can pile on the peanut butter without worrying too much! Bagels keep me full until lunchtime and are my my ultimate comfort food! Talking of comfort food, I also love baked beans or spaghetti on potato waffles - a very easy and quick breakfast.

If I'm going for a quick bite to eat while out shopping with friends in town I'll almost always go for something like a vegetable burrito/fajita (check there's no cheese with it) from the Epicurean Food Hall, or for vegetable sushi from Kokoro opposite the entrance. I make my own sushi sometimes as well and it's easier than it looks. The only thing that takes any time is waiting for the rice to cook. I also love squash, sweet potato or polenta chips, they make an interesting alternative to the normal potato chip and are just as easy to make. If you're a lazy person, you can even get frozen sweet potato chips in most supermarkets nowadays. I've put minestrone soup in the picture as well, because you can almost always be sure that it's going to be vegan if you're in a rush and need to grab a pot/can on your lunchbreak. And it's a great winter warmer!

Eating Vegan in Dublin

If you're in Dublin and would like to eat vegan food, give these places a go:

- Govinda's
A Hare Krishna restaurant. They have three restaurants in Dublin but my favourite is on Aungier Street. They have a range of subji (different vegetables in sauces) that are served generously with rice. They have vegan samosas and veggie burgers as well. Just watch out for the paneer that can be concealed in the subji and looks convincingly like tofu!

- Café Bar Deli
They have a few starters like vegetable cruditées and dips, a vegan winter herb salad, and a warm salad of roast squash and peppers with cracked wheat (just ask for it without the tzatziki dressing). Not a huge range to choose from, but what I've had I've really loved.

- Cornucopia
This is THE place to come. I always used to be put off coming here as it was so small and you'd see people pretty much squashed against their window on Wicklow Street when it was busy! However they've expanded into the building next door now so there's more room, but it does fill up quickly! You go up to the counter and order there and everything that is vegan is marked. The Moroccan chickpea tagine is gorgeous, their range of salads are also yummy and the vegan tofucake (fake cheesecake) is out of this world! It can be quite annoying that the only dishes you can get are the ones that are on the counter when you go in. I've been in before, wanting a dish, but it hasn't been there... then later I've gone up to get a dessert and the chef's made a new batch and it's sitting there making me wish I'd come along a little bit later! However, it's good that they rotate their dishes, it encourages people to try different things and adds a bit of excitement and mystery!

- Juice
I've been here a couple of times, on George's Street, and it seems quite pricey for what you get. However they do lovely thai curries and the corn fritters (with no sour cream) are really tasty. Everything is vegan or vegetarian and the menu is quite fantastic, but as I said, they could do with giving larger portions as I remember being quite dissatisfied and feeling ripped off when I went there for brunch with the boyfriend.

- Yamamori
My Japanese restaurant of choice for vegan sushi, pumpkin burgers, cabbage rolls, gyoza, tofu dishes and miso soup. It is located on George's Street, opposite the arcade, and also there's Yamamori Sushi near the Halpenny Bridge

- Blazing Salads
This small deli is situated the opposite end of George's Street Arcade. The salad bar is scrumptious but can be quite expensive if you fill up one of their cartons. Best just take a small selection of everything and not get too carried away! They have pre-made sandwiches, frozen ready-meals and a counter with various baked treats, breads and lovely homemade burgers.

- Hell Pizza
WOW is all I can say about Hell's vegan pizza! It comes with refried beans on the base instead of cheese, and all my non-vegan friends have loved it just as much as a regular pizza. The staff are always willing to swap ingredients without any extra charge. Avacado on a pizza has never really appealed to me so I always ask for pineapple instead. I love this place!

There are obviously many more places that do vegan food and you can always ask for something to be omitted/substituted in a dish. Most Indian, Japanese and Chinese restaurants will have a lot on the menu that is vegan or can be adapted to become vegan on request.

Hello people!

I thought I'd start this blog because I really have trouble tearing myself away from other people's vegan food blogs, and I thought I'd do something productive so other people can see what I eat! I'm not some kind of masterchef, nor do I cook everything 100% from scratch all the time - but what I do eat I try to be adventurous with and make it super tasty, healthy and good to look at! There are so many blogs out there written by people who have loads of time to cook amazing dishes and by people who obviously have a lot of talent in the kitchen - my aim is, however, to show you what the average vegan person eats: nothing too fancy or complicated, food that can be made easily by anyone on any kind of budget.

I'll also be documenting various new food products that I discover, restaurants and cafés around Dublin, and anything else of interest that is relevant to my life as a vegan.

I'll start with a few random pictures of things I've made in the past for you to see:

Here are some roasted chickpeas I made. All you have to do is get a can of chickpeas, drain them off and pat them dry, toss them in olive oil and sprinkle them with seasoning of your choice. Then roast them in the oven, turning occasionally, until crispy and golden. Leave them out to dry in the air so that they harden and become all crunchy... mmmm!

I love making bento boxes and taking them to work for my lunch. I really need to do this more often! Here is some sczechuan marinated tofu with brown rice and some Japanese umbrella cookies and peanut brittles for afters. I used to be pretty creative with my lunches, they were often concocted with leftovers from the previous evening's dinners.

I made this stirfry because I wanted to try out the lotus root that I'd bought from the Asian Market. There's mushrooms, onions, baby corn and sugar snap peas in there too. It was fried up in a bit of teriyaki sauce. The root is pretty hard to slice thinly. I served this with polenta cubes on the side, which were coated in southern fried style spices.

This is Moser Roth chocolate, available in Aldi stores. It is vegan, although is made on a line with chocolate that could contain milk, so that is mentioned on the package. I am totally addicted to this stuff! They make excellent varieties of dark chocolate, including mint, chilli and my favourite - almond and orange. They come in packs of 5 small, thin bars, perfect for snacking!

And of course... PANCAKES! Made from a simple batter of flour, baking soda, soya milk, cinnamon and a little bit of sugar. Who needs eggs? Decided to make these smaller, thicker American style pancakes instead of thinner ones. The toppings are warm red berries with agave nectar, peanut butter, and blackcurrant jam. I loved the way the hot juices from the berries soaked into the pancakes, it reminded me of the upside down summer fruit bread pudding my mum used to make when I was little - deelish!