Speculoos Spread Cookies and Chocolate Syrup from Have Cake, Will Travel

When I started looking for vegan recipes online years ago, Celine’s Have Cake, Will Travel was one of the first food blogs I found and it remains one of my absolute favourites. Some of the first vegan recipes I ever made were from her website (mostly breads and baked goods) and they really helped me fall in love with cooking and baking. My favourite is probably her recipe for French vanilla cupcakes (which I can’t find on the blog right now, but is similar to this equally lovely lemon cake), which is the best cake recipe I’ve tried. Celine has also written a number of excellent cookbooks, but since I’m focusing on blogs this month, I picked two new recipes to try from her site!
Speculoos Spread CookiesFirst up is this recipe for Speculoos Spread Cookies because I couldn’t resist the idea of taking a spread made with biscuits and then turning it back into a cookie again. I had to scale the recipe down considerably as my jar of Speculoos was nearly empty (how did all of that disappear so quickly?), so I got two good-sized cookies out of it. This amount was actually perfect as my small oven can’t hold that many cookies anyway, I got to use my new mini baking sheet, and my boyfriend and I each got to have one of them to dip into our hot chocolate, which we made using Celine’s chocolate syrup:
Chocolate SyrupThis recipe is quite simple but it’s great to have on hand. My boyfriend really appreciated the chocolate soy milk, and I’m looking forward to trying the syrup on fruits and desserts as well!

I hope everyone’s enjoying MoFo so far! I haven’t had much time to read posts yet so I can’t wait to catch up.

Chocolate raspberry tartlets and market produce

Chocolate raspberry tartletsWhen I came home from the market with two boxes of raspberries that needed to be used quickly (more on that below), I immediately thought of this amazing-looking white chocolate raspberry tart I’d seen on Celine’s blog. Unfortunately I didn’t have the white chocolate or silken tofu required for the filling, so I went with a slightly different idea and made mini dark chocolate tarts instead. I halved Celine’s crust recipe, replaced the whole wheat flour with plain flour as that was all I had left, added a little cocoa powder for extra chocolate flavour, and baked it in a muffin tin (about 8 minutes for 6 mini crusts). The filling is a recipe from Vegan Pie in the Sky (Lagusta’s Chocolate Raspberry Pie) and even though I think I let the chocolate melt too quickly which prevented the ganache from firming up properly, I’m really happy with the way they turned out. I like that they’re not too sweet, so the flavour of the raspberries really shines. I’d love to try the white chocolate pie as well!

Back from the marketLately I’ve been buying most of my vegetables (especially the ones that tend to be overpriced at supermarkets) at a local market. After shopping there a few times at different times of day, I now try to go in the morning when it’s not too busy and there’s still a good variety of produce to choose from. I usually bring a limited amount of cash (say, €10) and stick to that as my budget. I often spend less than that and just bring as much as I can carry, which will last us for 1-2 weeks. And I’ve found some pretty good deals! Here’s what I brought home today:

- eight (striped) aubergines for €1
– a bag of tomatoes (also striped! couldn’t resist the gorgeous patterns) for €1
– five courgettes for €1
– three ears of corn for €1
– one watermelon for €1
– two artichokes for €2,60
– two boxes of raspberries for €1,50

I did my best to protect the raspberries while carrying them home, but some of them still got crushed in my bag. Oh well, all the more reason to eat them straight away! The mushier berries were perfect in the tart filling and most of the whole ones found their way into our mouths by the end of the day as well. I don’t buy fresh raspberries very often so they’re a wonderful treat.

The artichokes were a little more expensive than I’d hoped, but I decided to splurge on them anyway because I love artichokes and my boyfriend has never tried them! I’ve never cooked them myself so I’ll have to look through my cookbooks for tips first. I’m hoping to counter my boyfriend’s reluctance to try new vegetables by appealing to his love for foods that come with dipping sauces, so I need to make a good vinaigrette or mayonnaise (or both)! Any ideas? :)

Thanks to everyone who’s been reading my posts and/or leaving comments! <3 Hope you have a lovely day.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Chocolate Sauce

I almost forgot to post my MoFo meal for today!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip PancakesThis morning I made these delicious Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes from 500 Vegan Recipes. They were really good all on their own, but then I figured since we were already having chocolate chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, why not go ahead cover them in chocolate sauce as well? Mmm. These were amazing, as you probably guessed. I made a huge stack, so we still have leftovers, too!

Hi there!

Oops, sorry for the slight absence after my final London post! The new semester started last week so I’ve been a little busy with that. I’m enjoying my new classes, though, and one of them is during the evening, which means I either have to pack a quick dinner or buy my food at a restaurant. Homemade is obviously the cheapest option, and here’s what I packed today:

I made a batch of tomato soup (in the thermos) with chopped red & yellow bell pepper, carrot, corn, courgette, and spring onions and I added some chili powder and other spices as well. It was delicious! I only just discovered we actually had a thermos in the house, but I’m definitely going to use it to bring more of these hot soups when the weather gets colder.

On the left is a salad of sautéed tempeh, shallots and asparagus over a bed of lettuce mixed with yellow bell pepper and white grapes. There’s a balsamic dressing in the little container on the side. This was tasty, although next time I’d add more tempeh and use less balsamic vinegar because the salad was a little too sour for my taste, but the tempeh was really tasty. I used the Italian marinade from Vegan with a Vengeance, which is originally meant for tofu, but it worked nicely for the tempeh as well!

And next to the thermos in the little cupcake box is a delicious double chocolate muffin based on a Have Cake, Will Travel recipe. I love how the recipes uses whole wheat flour and is so low in fat, but I did add a spoonful of oil just to make sure they won’t dry out even if I keep them for a while. The muffin was the perfect treat to enjoy on my way home! Mmm. I just wish I’d used a different cupcake pan so the muffins would get a nice high top instead of spreading out in the liner, but hey – at least they taste great.

Crazy Rumors lip balm

Oh, and check out what I received in the mail today! I really needed some new lip balm due to the sudden cold weather, so I ordered three varieties of a product I’d been wanting to try for a while – Crazy Rumors lip balm! I thought it would be good to sample some different scents, so I got Apple Spice (tea scented!), Almond Fudge (ice cream!), and French Vanilla (coffee). I’ve been using the Apple Spice one today, because it’s the scent that appealed to me the most, and I love it! It truly smells like apple spice tea – when I just put it on, I felt like I was sitting with a lovely cup of tea under my nose all the time. In a good way! It feels wonderful and moisturising, too, so it’s just what I was looking for. I’ve only been using Lush lip balms up until now and I still like those, but the little tins can be inconvenient at times. These little tubes are much easier to apply!

I got the lip balms at Alice and Jo’s Havesentials, by the way, and I love them for carrying the Crazy Rumors brand, as I hadn’t seen it available anywhere else in the Netherlands. They were really quick, too – I placed my order on Sunday evening and got my little envelope of lip balms this morning. I can’t wait to try the other Crazy Rumors scents… mmm!

I have some old(er) photos that I need to put on here, too, but I’ll save those for a later post – for now, have a great day, and thanks for reading!

London: Vx – an all vegan shop!

Vx Storefront

After our delicious lunch at the Gallery Cafe, we filled our afternoon with sight seeing and shopping at fun shops, including Vx (pronounced v-cross), a completely vegan store in King’s Cross! Vx is the home of the Secret Society of Vegans, so the store carries all of their clothing and accessories, but they sell lots of other awesome products as well. I really wanted to check out this place because it’s just so much fun to shop at a store completely packed with vegan goodies!

Vx!

They sell everything from shoes to cupcakes and I was especially excited to try some of the vegan baked good and other treats. Here’s a little list of what I got:

A cupcake by Ms Cupcake: I think the one I got was a Triple Chocolate Cupcake, but whatever it was, it was perfect! I took it with me in a little box so it got a bit squashed on the way to the B&B and I couldn’t get a pretty picture of it. Definitely have a look at Ms Cupcake’s website, though, because there are some gorgeous pictures over there! I’d love to try more of her cupcakes if I ever get the chance.

An SSOV hoodie and mug: The hoodie is super warm and soft and comfy! Thankfully the weather currently isn’t so cold that I need such a warm sweater, but I’m sure going to be glad to have it when winter comes around. Plus I love buying my clothing from vegan companies, so that is great as well. The mug is a bit silly but I couldn’t resist. Ha.

Treats!

Mexican-style Creamy Sheese: Sheese is a brand of vegan cheese that I’ve been looking forward to trying. Vx only had one of their products, which was this Mexican-spiced cream cheese. I only tried it once so far (on a slice of bread), and I thought it was tasty but not super impressive. It’s good, but I guess I really wanted to try something new, and apart from the spices, this didn’t seem to be all that different from the Tofutti cream cheese I usually get over here. I would really like to try the solid blocks of Sheese someday, because those look really interesting and different from vegan cheeses available over here. I still have most of the tub of Creamy Sheese to finish, though. I’m just not sure how to serve it. Just spread on a bagel with veggies and avocado maybe? Any suggestions?

Organica Vegan Hazelnut Nougat & Dark Chocolate bar: Yum! The bar was tasty, but nothing outstanding so I probably wouldn’t buy it very often even if I had access to it.

Trios Fudge Filled Chocolate Sandwich Cookies: Score! At least, I expect I’ll love these – I haven’t opened the package yet! I’m thinking I could make some of those enticing Oreo Cupcakes with them… that would be amazing. I just haven’t tried one yet because I’m afraid I won’t be able to eat them all before they go bad, and that would be a terrible waste! So I’m just going to hang on to these and hopefully I’ll be able to make something delicious with them someday.

A Whole Earth Sparkling Elderflower Drink: Woooh! Remember how I said I love the Whole Earth drink we had at Rootmaster and the Elderberry drink I had at the Gallery Cafe? (I know you don’t, but bear with me here) Well, combine the two and you get this! It’s a delicious elderflower softdrink sweetened with agave AND I recently found out can get this near my home, too! Excellent.

I think that’s all I bought at Vx – all such lovely vegan products! And because they were so packed with goodies, I kind of wish I could’ve tried even more. For instance, I saw these huge (and I mean huge) cookies that looked delicious and they had a few types of vegan ice cream, too, but we just weren’t able to buy (and eat) all of those at the same time. I’m really happy I got to try out all these wonderful treats, though!

Organic treats!

It’s a good thing I happened to read Suzette’s blog this morning, as her post about organic farms reminded me that there was actually an event at a farm in my neighbourhood, too. So, since my mother and I were planning on heading in that direction anyway, we decided to stop by for some vegan cupcakes and other goodies. I had actually been to this farm before, so I was happy to find some of the things I remembered liking then, and I also got the opportunity to try some other products. We only had time to stay for a little while, but look what we got:

Organic goodies

In this picture:

Rosie’s Cupcakes: probably the main reason I really wanted to go – it’s not often I get to try vegan cupcakes that I didn’t bake myself! There were four different kinds today, so we tried them all. You can check out all available flavours on Veggierose’s website, though I’m not sure if those are entirely the same as the ones we got. In any case, they were all delicious. I really liked the combination of dried fruit and flowers in two of the cupcakes (the lavender and rose petal ones). The apple pie cupcake was sugar free, but still as deliciously sweet as the other ones, and I really enjoyed the chocolate cherry cake as well. I think these are definitely healthier than the cupcakes I usually make, and there’s a nice variety of flavours to choose from, so I recommend trying these little cakes out if you get the chance!

Nashi pear juice: I got to try samples of two different juices at the KWAKO Fruitteelt stall, and this pure nashi pear juice was my favourite. I hadn’t heard of this Japanese kind of pear before, but apparently it’s very juicy and refreshing – I’d love to try a whole, fresh one someday.

Montezuma’s Dark Chocolate with Chilli: This little chocolate bar caught my eye because I knew it was one of the foods on the UK Vegan 100 list that I posted about during VeganMoFo last year. I’d been meaning to try the product ever since, so now I finally have the chance! I haven’t actually tasted it yet, though, but it looks promising.

A Lovechock Pure/Nibs bar: Lovechock is raw organic chocolate made in Amsterdam – have a look at their website, if you like. This was my first time trying raw chocolate (guess I can check that off my Vegan 100 list, too!) and since there were free samples of all three flavours, I was able to pick my favourite before buying an entire bar. Lovechock’s flavours are Pure/Nibs, Goji/Orange, and Almond/Fig. I thought they were all tasty, but the first one really had the most dark chocolatey deliciousness, so that one’s my favourite.

And lastly, China White Monkey Tea from Thieme’s Echte Thee: This stall had various types of tea to choose from, which made it difficult for me to pick one, since I like tea, but really don’t know much about it. Luckily, they offered us a delicious sample of their White Monkey tea, and we decided to buy a bag to take home. It’s really mild and lovely – I just had a cup of this tea earlier this evening and it was perfect.

And then, as you can see, we got some organic veggies as well. Oh, and most of these website links I gave are in Dutch (so I’m sorry if you can’t read most of it), and I guess most of the products are only available locally, as well. Still, if you get the opportunity to try any of them, I highly recommend checking them out! Especially the cupcakes :)

VeganMoFo 4: Brunch on Sunday I

I’ve decided that I’m going to make brunch every sunday for VeganMoFo (and possibly after that), as sundays are always pleasantly lazy days that are perfect for a morning of cooking followed by a nice meal with family. I woke up a little late today, so I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to cook enough for a proper brunch. Everything went more smoothly than I had expected, though, so I ended up with plenty of delicious brunch food!

Most of these recipes are from my newest cookbook, Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I never used to make brunch all that often, so I feared I might not use the book very often. I was wrong. This is turning into my new favourite cookbook! I guess I just didn’t realise how versatile brunch really is. There are so many different recipes in the book, there’s something you can use for every type of meal. I’ve also started having more elaborate brunches since I got it, so it’s definitely not sitting on by cookbook shelf unused!

Now, on to the pictures.

Chocolate Beer Waffles

We started our meal with these waffles. They’re the Chocolate Beer Waffles from Vegan Brunch and they are so decadent and delicious. I wanted to make the chocolate drizzle Isa suggests in the description of the recipe, but I didn’t have enough non-dairy milk so I ended up mixing some melted chocolate with a little maple syrup and fruit juice for an extra rich chocolate sauce. We had some raspberries that were about to go bad and they went great with these waffles!

Tofu scramble

After that, I made tofu scramble! I had a little bit of tofu left in the fridge and it needed to be used, so I made a small batch of the Basic Tofu Scramble from Vegan Brunch. I downsized the recipe and didn’t really measure the spices, so the quantities probably aren’t exactly right, but it was quite tasty. I added a sliced onion and two tomatoes. Mmm. I really love that this scramble has such a soft texture, probably because of the water added to the spice mix. I think the softness makes the dish seem a little more similar to scrambled eggs and since my tofu scramble often tends to burn a little, I really like this technique.

Roasted Potatoes

To go with the scramble, I roasted a few potatoes using the VB recipe. I had made one of the variations before (paprika rosemary), but this basic version was great as well! I never knew how well potatoes go with tofu scramble, but now I try to have them together every time.

Tofu bacon

Next up, tofu bacon. I know, two types of tofu in one meal seems silly, but I really wanted to try the bacon and I had to use up the other piece of tofu somehow, too.

This is the “tempeh bacon revamped” recipe from VB, with smoked tofu instead of tempeh. As I mentioned before, I don’t have any liquid smoke, so I wanted to try and see whether smoked tofu would be a good replacement. Apart from the fact that I may have cooked them a little too long, these were tasty! The recipe takes very little work (you just throw the marinade together and let it sit for an hour), so I’m probably going to make it more often!

Fronch toast

Even though we had more than enough food for one meal already, I also fried up some  fronch toast. I had made a couple pieces of the Fronch Toast from Vegan with a Vengeance on friday, and I had saved the rest of the mixture in the fridge, so it was ready to use! The leftover batter was enough to coat a couple of slices of stale ciabatta, and served with fresh blueberries and maple syrup, these slices made a lovely addition to the brunch!

I hope I can keep this “brunch on sunday” thing up for the entire month, because this sure was delicious.