Domestic Vegan Goddess!

So I cooked up a vegan storm last night and am feeling a touch smug this morning.  I should mention ahead of my smug gloating that I am not a good cook.  I can’t make anything without a recipe and nothing I make ever looks like the picture and most times that I do go to great lengths to make something entirely from scratch I end up wondering why I didn’t just call on Lloyd Grossman or his brethren for a far less stressful, quicker, cheaper and tastier cooking experience!

Anyway, this was a rare occasion where I did everything from scratch and it was totally worth it – knocked the socks of Mr Grossman and I danced around the kitchen dreaming of my own vegan cooking series… ‘Tasty Tempeh’ or ‘Hemp Happiness’ perhaps…?  Hmmm… can work on the title – meanwhile back to what I actually cooked:

So we started with a fiery guacamole and toasted pitta – dead easy, dead delish.  Then sat down for the most creamy and delicious Malai Kofta with brown basmati rice:

Chandra malai kofta vegan recipe.

The sauce was thick and creamy, the dumplings were zingy and tasty and even held their shape (a revelation!), the rice was soft and fluffy (never get brown rice right usually) and it even looked delicious on the plate with a flourish of coriander from the garden – oh stop it now you’re showing off!  Plates were licked clean, seconds were proffered and taken and pleasant noises were murmured all round.  Success!

Then we had the Pièce de résistance –

10 best Chocolate and pecan tart

This chocolate and pecan tart.  Homina homina homina.  And so easy to make that even I couldn’t f*** it up!  Bloody ruddy yummy.

Gogo was most helpful…

torte torte1 torte2

Recipes for you here:

Chandra malai kofta

(Serves 4)
For the kofta:
½ x 425g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup slivered almonds
1½ tsp cumin seeds
225g courgette, shredded
¼ cup finely chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
1¼ cups Panko breadcrumbs

For the sauce:
1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp refined coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, very finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp mild curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 400g tin lite coconut milk
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1 cup frozen peas

For everything else:
Refined coconut oil, for frying (2 tbsp or so)
Cooked basmati rice, for serving
Fresh coriander, for garnish (optional)

Prepare the kofta mixture
In a medium bowl, mash the chickpeas until they are mushy but not quite pureed.

Preheat a large, heavy pan over a medium heat. Toast the almonds for about 7 minutes, tossing frequently, until they are golden and browned in some spots. Transfer immediately to the bowl containing the chickpeas. Next, toast the cumin seeds for 3 minutes or so, until fragrant and a shade or two darker. Transfer those to the bowl as well.

Add the courgette, coriander, ginger, garlic, salt, and black pepper, and mix well.

Now add the breadcrumbs and use your hands to mix and mush until it holds together. Cover with plastic wrap (or a plate) and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare the sauce
Drain the cashews and add to a blender along with the broth. Blend until very smooth. This could take from 1-5 minutes depending on the strength of your machine, so give your blender a break every minute or so and test the sauce for smoothness. It should be very smooth, with only a slight graininess. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula to make sure you get everything.

Preheat a pan over a medium heat and add the coconut oil. Saute the onion in the oil for about 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook just until fragrant, 15 seconds or so. Add the curry powder, garam masala, and cumin and toss for a minute or so, just to toast the spices a bit.

Add the coconut milk, tomato paste, blended cashews and salt. Bring to a low simmer and let cook for 15 minutes or so. It should thicken up nicely. Add the peas and let them warm through. Taste for seasonings, then turn off the heat and cover until ready to serve.

Cook the kofta
Preheat a large cast-iron pan (or any pan that is nonstick and good for frying)over a medium heat. Line the counter with some parchment paper to keep the formed kofta from sticking. Scoop up a scant ¼ cup of the mixture. Roll between your hands to pack it well, and then roll into a football shape. Set on the parchment and continue to form all 12 kofta.

When the pan is hot enough, add some coconut oil and make sure it coats the bottom of the pan. Now add the kofta, rolling each one around in the pan when you add it, making sure to coat all sides. Use a little extra oil, if needed.

Fry them for about 7 minutes, rolling them around in the pan to get them browned on all sides. They don’t have to be uniformly browned; just do your best. Once browned, turn off the heat.

To assemble
Scoop some rice on to each plate, place 3 koftas on top of the rice, and cover with sauce. Garnish with coriander, if you like, and serve.

• This recipe is taken from Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, published by Sphere, price £20.

Chocolate and pecan tart (from Jordan Bourke, jordanbourke.com)

The rich fruitiness (and extra vitamins) provided by the avocados, dates and coconut oil here add hidden depth to this chocolate tart. Best served from the fridge, within two days of making it.

Serves 8
150g pecans, plus extra for decorating
10 dried pitted dates
125g oatcakes
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, melted
3 tsp cocoa powder
Pinch of sea salt

For the filling
3 large ripe avocados, peeled and destoned
6 tbsp pure maple syrup
3 tbsp date syrup (or more maple syrup)
6 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt
5 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, melted
100g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and roast the pecans for about 4 minutes, or until they are a shade darker and aromatic – watch them carefully as they burn very quickly. Leave to cool completely.

2 In a food processor, blitz the dates for a few seconds, then add the rest of the ingredients for the base and blitz until everything is very finely chopped and sticks together when pressed between your fingers. Very firmly press the mixture into a 20cm-diameter springform tin, so that you have an even, smooth and compacted base for the tart. Place in the freezer to set for 15-20 minutes.

3 For the filling, place all the ingredients into a food processor, apart from the coconut oil and dark chocolate, then blitz until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as you go. This could take a few minutes, depending on the strength of your machine.

4 With the processor still running, pour in the melted coconut oil until just combined. Pour the mixture on to the set base and smooth out the top. Place in a fridge to set for at least 4-5 hours.

5 When ready to serve, remove the tart from the springform tin and place it on a large white plate. Liberally grate the chocolate over the tart and scatter with extra pecans.

 

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Can you stomach it…?

There’s a book I know I should read but can’t quite bring myself to yet.  It’s called ‘Slaughterhouse’ and is written by Gail A Eisnitz
Prometheus Books, New York, 1997. 

You can tell from the title and the front cover that it’s not going to be light reading… no happy endings or sugar plum fairies here..  The fact that we know from the title that this book is going to be deeply upsetting and disturbing tells us everything we need to know about how we really feel about slaughterhouses.  A bit like watching Schindler’s List or 12 Years a Slave, you know that reading this book is going to fill you with shame and horror and sadness and anger.  But unlike Schindler’s List and 12 Years a Slave, you won’t be able to walk away and tell yourself that you’d have behaved differently and that you’d have tried to stop it.  Because you aren’t and you don’t.   

Here’s Alex Hershaft’s (PhD,President, FARM) review of Slaughterhouse:

 In the midst of our high-tech, ostentatious, hedonistic lifestyle, among the dazzling monuments to history, art, religion, and commerce, there are the ‘black boxes.’ These are the biomedical research laboratories, factory farms, and slaughterhouses – faceless compounds where society conducts its dirty business of abusing and killing innocent, feeling beings.

        These are our Dachaus, our Buchenwalds, our Birkenaus. Like the good German burghers, we have a fair idea of what goes on there, but we don’t want any reality checks. We rationalize that the killing has to be done and that it’s done humanely. We fear that the truth would offend our sensibilities and perhaps force us to do something. It may even change our life.

        Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz of the Humane Farming Association is a gut-wrenching, chilling, yet carefully documented, expose of unspeakable torture and death in America’s slaughterhouses. It explodes their popular image of obscure factories that turn dumb ‘livestock’ into sterile, cellophane-wrapped ‘food’ in the meat display case. The testimony of dozens of slaughterhouse workers and USDA inspectors pulls the curtain on abominable hellholes, where the last minutes of innocent, feeling, intelligent horses, cows, calves, pigs, and chickens are turned into interminable agony. And, yes, the book may well change your life. Here are some sample quotes (warning! extremely offensive material follows).

        The agony starts when the animals are hauled over long distances under extreme crowding and harsh temperatures. Here is an account from a worker assigned to unloading pigs: “In the winter, some hogs come in all froze to the sides of the trucks. They tie a chain around them and jerk them off the walls of the truck, leave a chunk of hide and flesh behind. They might have a little bit of life left in them, but workers just throw them on the piles of dead ones. They’ll die sooner or later.”

        Once at the slaughterhouse, some animals are too injured to walk and others simply refuse to go quietly to their deaths. This is how the workers deal with it: “The preferred method of handling a cripple is to beat him to death with a lead pipe before he gets into the chute… If you get a hog in a chute that’s had the shit prodded out of him, and has a heart attack or refuses to move, you take a meat hook and hook it into his bunghole (anus)…and a lot of times the meat hook rips out of the bunghole. I’ve seen thighs completely ripped open. I’ve also seen intestines come out.”

        And here is what awaits the animals on the kill floor. First, the testimony of a horse slaughterhouse worker: “You move so fast you don’t have time to wait till a horse bleeds out. You skin him as he bleeds. Sometimes a horse’s nose is down in the blood, blowing bubbles, and he suffocates.”

        Then another worker, on cow slaughter: “A lot of times the skinner finds a cow is still conscious when he slices the side of its head and it starts kicking wildly. If that happens, … the skinner shoves a knife into the back of its head to cut the spinal cord.” (This paralyzes the animal, but doesn’t stop the pain of being skinned alive.) And still another, on calf slaughter: “To get done with them faster, we’d put eight or nine of them in the knocking box at a time… You start shooting, the calves are jumping, they’re all piling up on top of each other. You don’t know which ones got shot and which didn’t… They’re hung anyway, and down the line they go, wriggling and yelling”(to be slaughtered while fully conscious).

        And on pig slaughter: “If the hog is conscious, … it takes a long time for him to bleed out. These hogs get up to the scalding tank, hit the water, and start kicking and screaming… There’s a rotating arm that pushes them under. No chance for them to get out. I am not sure if they burn to death before they drown, but it takes them a couple of minutes to stop thrashing.”

        The work takes a major emotional toll on the workers. Here’s one worker’s account: “I’ve taken out my job pressure and frustration on the animals, on my wife, … and on myself, with heavy drinking.” Then it gets a lot worse: “… with an animal who pisses you off, you don’t just kill it. You … blow the windpipe, make it drown in its own blood, split its nose… I would cut its eye out… and this hog would just scream. One time I … sliced off the end of a hog’s nose. The hog went crazy, so I took a handful of salt brine and ground it into his nose. Now that hog really went nuts…”

        Safety is a major problem for workers who operate sharp instruments standing on a floor slippery with blood and gore, surrounded by conscious animals kicking for their lives, and pressed by a speeding slaughter line. Indeed, 36 percent incur serious injuries, making their work the most hazardous in America. Workers who are disabled and those who complain about working conditions are fired and frequently replaced by undocumented aliens. A few years ago, 25 workers were burned to death in a chicken slaughterhouse fire in Hamlet, NC, because management had locked the safety doors to prevent theft.

        Here is a worker’s account: “The conditions are very dangerous, and workers aren’t well trained for the machinery. One machine has a whirring blade that catches people in it. Workers lose fingers. One woman’s breast got caught in it and was torn off. Another’s shirt got caught and her face was dragged into it.”

        Although Slaughterhouse focuses on animal cruelty and worker safety, it also addresses the issues of consumer health, including the failure of the federal inspection system. There is a poignant testimony from the mother of a child who ate a hamburger contaminated with E. coli: “After Brianne’s second emergency surgery, surgeons left her open from her sternum to her pubic area to allow her swollen organs room to expand and prevent them from ripping her skin… Her heart … bled from every pore. The toxins shut down Brianne’s liver and pancreas. An insulin pump was started. Several times her skin turned black for weeks. She had a brain swell that the neurologists could not treat… They told us that Brianne was essentially brain-dead.”

Slaughterhouse has some problems. In an attempt to reflect the timeline of the investigation, the presentation suffers from poor organization and considerable redundancy. But that’s a bit like criticizing the testimony on my Holocaust experiences because of my Polish accent. The major problem is not with the content of the book, but with the publisher’s cover design. The title and the headless carcasses pictured on the dust jacket effectively ensure that the book will not be read widely and that the shocking testimony inside will not get out to the consuming public.

        And that’s a pity. Because the countless animals whose agony the book documents so graphically deserve to have their story told. And because Slaughterhouse is the most powerful argument for meatless eating that I have ever read. Eisnitz’ closing comment “Now you know, and you can help end these atrocities” should be fair warning. After nearly 25 years of work on farm animal issues, including leading several slaughterhouse demonstrations, I was deeply affected. Indeed, reading Slaughterhouse has changed my life.

 

What we all know but try to ignore…

As Paul McCartney famously once said – If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”

I think, deep down, we all know this is probably true.  However much we tell ourselves that animals are killed ‘humanely’, after ‘a good life’, and eating meat is, after all, ‘necessary’ etc.  None of us are actually comfortable with another animal having to die so that we can have the pleasure of eating it.  We happily buy and eat meat but we’d rather not think about the process by which that animal gets from the field to our fork.  Most of us would never have the gall to kill a pig, cow, lamb, chicken or duck in order to eat it. Most of us wouldn’t particularly want to bop a tuna over the head with a mallet even! 

At the other end of the spectrum, even my most hardy farming friends, who’ve grown up ‘culling’, ‘processing’ and ‘butchering’ animals still find the task, however necessary they feel it might be, and however pride they may take in doing it well, an unpleasant one.  At a very basic human level, it is never an enjoyable thing to take someone or something else’s life and nor should it be. 

Here’s an interesting article written by Chris Williamson on why he became involved in animal rights activism and converted to veganism which I thought was worth sharing:

THERE are meat-eaters who abhor animal cruelty and vegans who are driven by matters other than animal welfare. But, in my case, the two have always been intrinsically linked.

I vividly remember being horrified as a 14-year-old given a summer job by my local butcher.

Having been led to believe I would be serving behind the counter, I was surprised on my first day to find myself exposed to the slaughterhouse next door.

Rather than serving up some prime steak for Mrs Smith or chicken fillets for Mr Brown, my unglamorous job was to feed sheep intestines through my fingers to be used for sausage skin.

But if that was unpleasant enough, nothing could have prepared me for some of the other horrors that I experienced on that first day.

I saw the fear in the eyes of the animals who were about to be killed. I can still picture that now, just as I can still smell the rank scent of death which filled the air in that awful place.

It was an experience that stayed with me for life and something that influenced my eventual decision that I could no longer partake in this industry.

I made that choice in 1976, some five years after that dreadful experience in the butcher’s slaughterhouse.

Thinking back, I was inspired by people like Mahatma Gandhi, who said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

I can even remember hearing Spike Milligan discussing his vegetarianism as he was being interviewed on the Michael Parkinson Show. That unquestionably influenced me, too, and may well have been the deciding factor. But, for me, becoming a vegan was less about emulating my heroes or making a statement.

It was much more about taking what seemed to be the next natural step, as a 19-year-old who was beginning to come to terms with some of the social injustices that would epitomise much of the next couple of decades.

It was an era that shaped the person and politician I became. My ideologies and beliefs were shaped in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and becoming a vegan was part of that.

Cruelty seemed inherent within the meat industry. So why would I want to partake in such a thing when I felt so passionately about it?

I joined the Hunt Saboteurs Association at around the same time and was elected on to the League Against Cruel Sports’ board of trustees in 1979. It’s a position I still hold with pride. And I’m as passionate now about fighting against cruelty to animals as I was back then. That made it easy for me to take my natural position on debates such as fox-hunting before that was finally resolved by the last Labour Government. It also sheds some light on why I have been such a vocal opponent of the appalling badger cull which remains in place, even if our campaign against it has forced the Tory-led Government to slow its progress. All that is because it is easy to campaign on an issue when it rankles with the belief systems you hold at your very core.

I abhor cruelty in any form and the way in which animals are reared has become more intensive, which has inevitably compromised welfare. But there are so many other reasons to believe that eating animals is fundamentally wrong, especially at a time when the earth’s natural resources are under intense pressure and energy efficiency is more topical than ever.

Farmed animals consume 13 pounds of grain for every pound of meat produced.

Even more perversely, farmed fish need to be fed five pounds of wild-caught fish for every pound of flesh produced for human consumption.

It is grossly inefficient and makes no sense whatsoever.

In terms of energy consumption, 11 times more fossil fuel is exhausted to make a calorie of animal protein than it takes to make a calorie of food protein. And the livestock industry is responsible for nearly 20 per cent of the world’s climate changing emissions.

Add in other alarming statistics, such as the fact that 50% of antibiotics are used to tackle health problems of animals being reared in intensive conditions, and it casts a dark shadow over the whole meat industry.

So, while my original decision was about cruelty to animals, there are dozens of other factors that reinforce my view that veganism is not just about morals, but about making a sustainable life choice.

Population growth and environmental considerations mean that meat consumption at present levels is untenable. Consequently, the likelihood is that, for future generations, a vegan diet will be the norm rather than the exception that it is today.

10 great recipes to cook non-vegan friends…

So we’re going on holiday in a weeks’ time with some great friends of ours who aren’t vegan.  They’re cool folk and have never been anything other than inquisitive and supportive of our decision to switch to a vegan lifestyle.  On a practical front – she is an amazing cook so isn’t remotely phased by the challenge of vegan cooking so that is half the battle won.  Most friends’ look of abject horror when we tell them we’re vegan, isn’t actually a reaction to our choices but more a panic-stricken reaction to wondering what the hell they are ever going to cook us when we come for supper.

So we’re conscious that we want to be able to cook really tasty, hearty, healthy meals which don’t leave them craving rib eye steak and a chicken bucket by the end of the week! 

Here’s a recent article from the Guardian website with 10 vegan recipes which I’ll be printing off and taking with me as they all look delicious and remarkably straightforward to make:

 

10 best Chocolate and pecan tart

Watch the pecans carefully while they bake, as they burn very quickly. Photograph: Tamin Jones for the Guardian

Chocolate and pecan tart (above)

The rich fruitiness (and extra vitamins) provided by the avocados, dates and coconut oil here add hidden depth to this chocolate tart. Best served from the fridge, within two days of making it.

Jordan Bourke, jordanbourke.com

Serves 8
150g pecans, plus extra for decorating
10 dried pitted dates
125g oatcakes
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, melted
3 tsp cocoa powder
Pinch of sea salt

For the filling
3 large ripe avocados, peeled and destoned
6 tbsp pure maple syrup
3 tbsp date syrup (or more maple syrup)
6 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt
5 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, melted
100g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and roast the pecans for about 4 minutes, or until they are a shade darker and aromatic – watch them carefully as they burn very quickly. Leave to cool completely.

2 In a food processor, blitz the dates for a few seconds, then add the rest of the ingredients for the base and blitz until everything is very finely chopped and sticks together when pressed between your fingers. Very firmly press the mixture into a 20cm-diameter springform tin, so that you have an even, smooth and compacted base for the tart. Place in the freezer to set for 15-20 minutes.

3 For the filling, place all the ingredients into a food processor, apart from the coconut oil and dark chocolate, then blitz until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as you go. This could take a few minutes, depending on the strength of your machine.

4 With the processor still running, pour in the melted coconut oil until just combined. Pour the mixture on to the set base and smooth out the top. Place in a fridge to set for at least 4-5 hours.

5 When ready to serve, remove the tart from the springform tin and place it on a large white plate. Liberally grate the chocolate over the tart and scatter with extra pecans.

Sprouting kachumbar salad

10 best Sprouting kachumbar salad

This super-quick salad proves on one flavour-packed plate that the supremely healthy can also be incredibly delicious. If you’re making it for lunchboxes, put the dressing in a separate container and drizzle over just before you eat.

Meera Sodha, meerasodha.com

Serves 6
For the salad
250g baby plum tomatoes, chopped
200g radishes, topped, tailed and finely sliced
½ cucumber, deseeded and finely diced
A bunch of spring onions, finely sliced
40g coriander, chopped
2cm ginger, peeled and finely cut
250g sprouted mung beans and mixed pulses

For the dressing
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Juice of ½ lemon

1 Toss all the salad ingredients into a bowl.

2 Combine all the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl. Whisk with a fork and drizzle over your salad just before serving.

Peanut butter cheesecake with maple bananas

Free-from products are widely available in supermarkets and health food shops. Vegan desserts don’t always have to be virtuous – just add a dollop of dairy-free ice-cream or coconut sorbet. Make sure you check the biscuit packet, as some digestives are vegan, others are not.

Andrew Dargue, Orchard Vegetarian Kitchen, orchard-kitchen.co.uk

Serves 4-6
50g dairy-free margarine
100g dairy-free digestive biscuits, crushed
50g dairy-free dark chocolate, finely chopped
225g dairy-free cream cheese
30g soya milk
25g icing sugar
270g crunchy peanut butter

For the bananas
4 bananas
4 tbsp maple syrup
Smoked paprika, for sprinkling

1 Gently melt the margarine in a saucepan over a low heat. Mix the biscuit crumbs into the margarine, stir, then fold in the chocolate.

2 Line a 15cm loose-bottomed or springform tin with baking paper, then add the crumb mix. Use the back of a metal spoon to spread and press down the crumbs to form a base. Allow to cool while you make the filling.

3 Combine the cream cheese, soya milk and icing sugar. Fold the peanut butter in lightly so as to keep a marbled effect. Add the mix to the base and spread evenly.

4 Put the cheesecake in the freezer and leave until firm, but not fully frozen. This should take around 30 minutes, depending on your freezer. When set, remove from the freezer and slice into portions immediately.

5 Set aside for around 10‑15 minutes at room temperature, to let it soften a little before serving.

6 Meanwhile, insert a knife just under the skin of each banana and make an incision from one end to the other. Prise open the banana so the fruit is exposed, but keep the skin on. Spoon 1 tbsp syrup into each banana, making sure they are well coated. Sprinkle a pinch of smoked paprika along the length of the banana and syrup. Wrap the bananas in foil, but scrunch it up so the syrup stays in the bananas. Make sure the foil is well sealed.

7 Bake the bananas at 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and serve with the cheesecake.

Poppy seed and black onion crisps

10 best Poppy seed and black onion crisps

These are fast to make, and last for up to a week in an airtight container. Try serving them with a tomato-based dip.

Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding, Justin Gellatly (Fig Tree)

Makes about 50
200ml rapeseed oil
290ml water
4 tsp black onion seeds
4 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp caster sugar
600g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

1 Whisk the oil and water together in a large jug or bowl. Add the other ingredients to another bowl, add the liquid and mix. Once it has become a dough, turn out on to a floured surface and knead until smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and rest overnight, or continue.

2 Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line two large baking trays with parchment.

3 On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 3mm thick. Cut into 4cm rounds. Roll out each round until 1mm thick. Brush off excess flour and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Watch them, as they turn from golden to burned quite quickly.

Lime and turmeric tofu steaks with fresh chilli sambal

Many people think they hate tofu, but it’s an absorbent ingredient – so as good as the flavours you give it. This zingy marinade will wash away any previous bad experience.

Fired Up Vegetarian, Ross Dobson (Murdoch Books)

Serves 4
60ml lime juice
60ml rapeseed oil
¼ tsp ground turmeric
600g firm tofu, divided into four equal portions
Lime wedges, to serve

For the sambal
1 tsp vegetable stock (bouillon) powder
2 makrut lime leaves, thinly sliced
2 lemongrass stems, pale part only, finely chopped
2 bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp lime juice

1 Combine the sambal ingredients in a bowl, then stir until the stock powder has dissolved. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight.

2 Combine the lime juice, rapeseed oil and turmeric in a bowl and stir until the spice has dissolved and the oil is vibrantly coloured. Coat the tofu with marinade. Set aside for 30 minutes.

3 Preheat the barbecue or a grill to high. Cook the tofu for 2–3 minutes on each side, or until heated through and slightly crusty. Serve warm, with the sambal spooned over and lime wedges on the side.

Linguine with edamame pesto

Edamame (soya beans) are available in the freezer sections of supermarkets, but if you can’t find any, you can also use frozen peas or broad beans.
Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Post Punk Kitchen, theppk.com

Serves 4
300g spinach linguine or other pasta
1 tsp olive oil
Small red onion, thinly sliced
200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
Basil leaves, torn, to serve
Olive oil

For the pesto
2 garlic cloves, chopped
A large handful of basil leaves
A small handful of coriander leaves
400g frozen edamame (soya beans), thawed
100ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

1 To make the pesto, pulse the garlic and basil in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until relatively smooth. Scrape the sides with a spatula to make sure you get everything. Add more stock if needed.

2 Cook the pasta to al dente, following packet instructions, while you cook the mushrooms. Fry the onion slices over a medium heat for 5 minutes until softened, but not browned. Add the mushrooms, garlic and season. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3 When the mushrooms are cooked, add the pasta and pesto to the pan. Heat through, stirring, for a couple of minutes; if the pesto is too thick (not spreading out and coating the pasta) add a little water. Check the seasoning, then serve immediately with the torn basil leaves sprinkled over the top.

Cinnamon pull-apart brioche

This brioche takes a little time to make, but is more than worth it and freezes well. Try serving with fruit salad or drizzled with maple syrup for brunch.

Celine Steen, havecakewilltravel.com

Serves 6-8
1 tbsp cornflour
120ml water
120ml full-fat coconut milk, at room temperature
3 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
250g flour
1 tbsp fast-action yeast
50g dairy-free spread
Vegetable oil, to grease the tin

For the filling
2 tsp ground cinnamon
75g light brown sugar
Flour, for rolling out
Water, to brush the rolled-out dough

1 Put the cornflour in a small bowl. Add 30ml water and stir to dissolve. Add the remaining water, and boil in a small saucepan until slightly gelatinous and cloudy, which takes about 1 minute. Set aside to cool completely.

2 Combine the cooled cornflour mix with the milk, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add flour and yeast, then knead either in a mixer for 2 minutes, or by hand for 4 minutes.

3 Add the dairy-free spread, 1 tbsp at a time, as you knead the dough. Once all of the spread has been slowly added, knead in the mixer for 4 minutes, or by hand for 8-10 minutes. The dough will look like batter, be sticky and not form a ball, even after this much kneading.

4 Put back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm then allow to rise for 45 minutes. Punch the dough back down, cover with clingfilm again then chill for 2 hours, until cold and stiff.

5 To make the filling, mix the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl, then set aside. Generously flour a work surface, then roll the dough into a 20x30cm rectangle. Lightly brush with water, then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.

6 Using a sharp knife, cut the dough lengthwise in four strips. Place the strips on top of each other, sugared-side up. Cut into six stacks, width-wise. Transfer the stacks into a greased 900g loaf tin, with the cut edges facing up.

7 Cover with clingfilm, and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place, or until doubled.

8 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Remove the clingfilm. Bake the brioche for 40 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

Sweet and sour courgettes with sesame noodles

10 best Sweet and sour courgettes with sesame noodles

You can swap the courgettes for other crunchy green veg when not in season, or serve them simply with steamed rice.
Rosie Reynolds, The Cook Team

Serves 4
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
4cm piece ginger, peeled and shredded
3 courgettes, chopped
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cider vinegar

For the noodles
250g medium rice noodles
4 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp agave syrup
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
4 spring onions, shredded

1 Cook the rice noodles according to packet instructions until just tender. Drain and refresh under cold water.

2 Combine the tahini with the agave syrup and soy sauce. Toss the noodles through the sauce, scatter with sesame and spring onions.

3 Heat the oil in a wok, or frying pan, once hot add the garlic and ginger and sizzle for a few minutes, stirring frequently until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

4 Add the courgettes to the pan and fry for 4-5 minutes until they start to colour and soften. Sprinkle in the sugar and vinegar. Toss the pan to dissolve the sugar. Return the garlic and ginger to the pan and heat through. Serve the noodles with courgettes.

Aubergine jambalaya

A Deep South classic with all the spicy Creole flavours, but none of the meat.

Leon Fast Vegetarian, Henry Dimbleby and Jane Baxter (Octopus)

Serves 4
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
A pinch of dried oregano
A pinch of dried thyme
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
220g long-grain rice
1 aubergine, cut into 1cm dice
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
400ml vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper

1 Heat the oil in a large pan, then add the onion, pepper and celery. Cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Add the garlic, herbs and spices and cook for 2 minutes.

2 Add the rice, aubergine, tomato puree and tinned tomatoes. Stir well, season and cook for a further 2 minutes.

3 Add the stock, bring to a simmer, then cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to steam for 5 minutes. Fluff up the rice and serve with a green salad.

Lentil and apricot soup

A winter favourite gets a summer makeover. This recipe also freezes well, so you carry the sunshine through to colder months.

Three Sisters Bake, Gillian, Nicola and Linsey Reith (Hardie Grant)

Serves 6
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 white onion, roughly chopped
2 large white potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 celery sticks, tough strings removed, chopped
1 large leek, topped and tailed, chopped and rinsed
200g red lentils, rinsed until the water runs clear
200g fresh apricots, de-stoned and chopped
1 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
Salt and black pepper
2 tsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve

1 Fry the veg for 10 minutes until soft. Add the lentils and apricots, then cover with water and bring to the boil. Add the bouillon and stir. Reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes, uncovered. Top up the water halfway through, if necessary.

2 Check the lentils are completely soft before removing from the heat. Allow to cool a little.

3 Liquidise with a blender until smooth, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Stir through the chopped parsley and serve.

How can you not change your mind?

I was reminded today of one of the really basic obvious reasons for not eating eggs.  A principle that a lot of people struggle with and one which I’d sort of forgotten and had started happily eating eggs if I could see that the hens were properly free range and seemed well looked after and happy etc.

What I was reminded of was the fate of all the millions of male chicks which are born up and down the UK and are of no use to the egg industry.   Here’s a reminder of what happens to them.

But why?

Male chicks are killed for two reasons: they cannot lay eggs and they are not suitable for chicken-meat production. This is because layer hens — and therefore their chicks — are a different breed of poultry to chickens that are bred and raised for meat production. Layer hens are bred to produce eggs whereas meat chickens are bred to grow large breast muscle and legs.

Chick hatcheries breed one or the other type of chick depending on which poultry industry they supply — egg or meat. At the layer-hen hatcheries supplying the egg industry with layer hens, the eggs are developed in industrial incubators. Once hatched, the newborn chicks pass down a production line to be sexed and sorted. Sick or weak female chicks and all male chicks are separated from the healthy female chicks and then killed.

The Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Domestic Poultry states that all culled or surplus newly hatched chicks that are destined for disposal must be treated as humanely as those that will be retained or sold. They must be destroyed promptly by a recommended humane method such as carbon dioxide gassing or quick maceration. Chicks must then be carefully inspected to ensure they are all are dead.

Quick maceration ensures the chick is killed within a second and, if carried out effectively and competently, this method is considered more humane than gassing with high concentrations of carbon dioxide. Gassing results in gasping and head shaking and, depending on the mixture of gases used, it may take up to two minutes for the chick to die.

Pretty shocking hey?  This is one of those things that I found out during my research into veganism and immediately wanted to share with people because presumably they hadn’t realised that this was going on, just as I hadn’t.  Like me they just wouldn’t have thought to question what happens to all the make chicks that can’t go on to lay eggs or sit centre stage at the Sunday Roast, breasts wrapped in bacon and stuffed with a juicy lemon.  And as soon as they see this footage and realise that this isn’t the rantings of some hair-brained lunatic animal obsessed weirdo – they too would have to stop eating eggs and chicken and having anything whatsoever to do with the egg and poultry industry….. wouldn’t they….?

What do any of us really know about animal testing here in the UK?

Ann Widdecombe wrote this article in the Guardian a few weeks ago.  It’s another prime example of things that we know go on and things that deep down we know that if we know more about them we would probably want them to stop happening, but yet we allow ourselves to go on not knowing and being compliant in the consumption and therefore compliance of such beauty products, household cleaning products and medication.

Here’s the article…

Animal testing should not be shrouded in secrecy. We need real reform now

Behind closed doors, and out of the public eye, the number of animals used in experiments has been steadily rising. In 2012 – the most recent figures available – the total exceeded 4 million animals.

Despite the eye-watering number of animals used in experiments, we know very little about what is done to them and why, and about the pain and suffering they endure in laboratories across the UK in the name of science. This is due to section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which enables animal experiments to take place in complete secrecy and makes revealing any information, even with the researcher’s consent, a criminal offence carrying a two-year prison term.

I was still in parliament when the Labour government passed the Freedom of Information Act. As the then shadow home secretary I queried whether in some areas it did enough to open up the work of government to public scrutiny. Similarly, I am hesitant to welcome the government’s proposals in the long-awaited consultation on reforming secrecy in animal research, launched earlier this month.

The intention of the freedom of information act is to enable the public to scrutinise the workings of government, but this does not seem to apply to animal experiments. These are exempted from the act, so we have no way of knowing if the governing body responsible – the Home Office – is fulfilling even its basic duty to ensure that animals are not used in experiments where non-animal alternatives are available.

This secrecy surrounding animal experimentation has been examined – and sidestepped – by successive governments, but there continues to be widespread support for reform. As far back as 2002, a House of Lords committee called for section 24 to be repealed, and last year, the National Anti-Vivisection Society (Navs) visited Downing Street to call on David Cameron to act, supported by a number of celebrities. In parliament, MPs from all parties have supported motions calling for reform and even the minister responsible at the Home Office, Norman Baker, said recently that the provisions in section 24 are “now out of step with government policy on openness and transparency and with the approach taken in other legislation”.

New European legislation has now rendered the status quo untenable and the government has launched a consultation on this issue. Acknowledging the disparity that exists, it seeks to repeal the secrecy clause. However, the government’s preferred option for reform is to replace section 24 with further legislation to restrict disclosure of information relating to people, places and intellectual property. But why is new legislation needed when the freedom of information act already protects businesses, the NHS, police and schools on these issues, and has been bolstered further by the new intellectual property bill?

The proposed legislation gives cause for concern, potentially gagging whistleblowers and organisations such as Navs, which expose wrongdoing in laboratories, under a new criminal offence: “malicious disclosure of information about the use of animals in scientific research”. This raises the immediate question of how “malicious disclosure” is defined. A raft of “ag gag” laws in the US criminalised whistleblowers and trampled the right to free speech last year. It would be a mistake to begin travelling down this dark road in the UK, especially at a time when the government seeks to achieve better openness and transparency.

Greater transparency and accountability could be achieved by opening up animal experiment applications to review before they are approved. Sadly, this seems to be where the door of openness and transparency slams shut. The government has decided that it is the only judge capable of weighing the cost of the experiment to the animal against the potential benefit. It is worth pointing out that out of more than 4 million animal experiments conducted last year, not a single application was turned down.

The Home Office has resisted opening up applications to perform experiments, rather lamely claiming that it is not possible to provide all the relevant information regarding each experiment. One sad fact that we can be sure of, even with a full repeal of the secrecy clause, is that animals will continue to die in duplicate experiments: in tests for drugs that are already on the market, for diseases we can already cure, and where modern, faster, cheaper and more accurate technology can be used instead. Proper scrutiny is the least the public expects while animal experiments are happening.

It is vitally important that the government gets this reform right, as this issue is unlikely to be revisited for years to come. Meaningful reform will protect researchers, animals and science, but we can only achieve this by opening up the animal experiment industry, allowing organisations to help identify duplicate experiments and highlighting where non-animal technology can be used to benefit humans and animals alike. Tinkering around the edges will do nothing for transparency, public confidence in the system or, most importantly, for the millions of animals suffering in laboratories.