Lemon cakes and half a strawberry pie (A game of thrones)

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Lemon cakes Half a strawberry pie

Jeyne yawned. “Are there any lemon cakes?”
Sansa did not like being interrupted, but she had to admit, lemon cakes sounded more interesting than most of what had gone on in the throne room. “Let’s see,” she said.
The kitchen yielded no lemon cakes, but they did find half of a cold strawberry pie, and that was almost as good. They ate it on the tower steps, giggling and gossiping and sharing secrets, and Sansa went to bed that night feeling almost as wicked as Arya.

– George R.R. Martin, A game of thrones

This is my third post inspired by Game of Thrones and probably the last one for this month. There are still many foods from the series I’d like to try, though, so maybe I’ll return to this theme after VeganMoFo!

Lemon cakes are probably one of the first things you’ll encounter if you look for recipes from Game of Thrones. Mine were mostly based on these cakes shown in the TV series. They looked smaller than regular cupcakes, so I made a flat cake and used a scone cutter to cut out little rounds. This method allows you to sneak bites of both the batter and the cake and I like to think Sansa would approve of that. The cake recipe was more or less the Lemony French Cake from Have Cake Will Travel, one of my favourites that I think everyone should try. The topping is a glaze with cashews and lemons but in hindsight I think lemon curd would’ve been better (can anyone recommend a vegan recipe?).

For the pie, I adapted the recipe for Strawberry Hand Pies from Vegan Pie in the Sky using whole wheat flour instead of plain and oil instead of margarine. Delicious! Almost as good as lemon cakes.

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VeganMoFo 2014 and a carrot cake

(Nederlandstalige versie)

VeganMoFo 2014

As you may know, today is the first day of the Vegan Month of Food. Every year, hundreds of bloggers spend a month writing about everything related to vegan cooking and eating; click here or here to read along. Many participants choose a overarching theme for the month and I had a couple of ideas, but in the end I decided to just post about anything I would blog about normally, only more frequently.

These are a few things you can expect to see here this month:

  • Food from stories so far I’ve got two dishes inspired by Game of Thrones / ASoIaF planned for this week and a few from Harry Potter for the next;
  • A weekly cooking diary with photos of my market purchases, hopefully with ideas for cooking with seasonal produce;
  • Updates on the cooking resolutions I posted last year — by now I’ve tried to cook a lot of these foods at least once, but I’ve only blogged about a few of them.

I also want to start adding Dutch translations to my main English posts. A lot of Dutch readers are probably used to blogs being in English, but I got a message requesting this a while ago and I enjoy writing in both languages.  I haven’t found an ideal way to combine multiple languages in one blog using my free WordPress account, so for now I will just create an extra page for each post and add a link in the upper right corner.

Oh, yes, the cake. The beginning of VeganMoFo calls for a celebration (not that I need an excuse to bake a cake) and carrot cake was one of the things on my food resolutions list.

Carrot cake

I more or less followed this recipe from VegWeb with 3 tablespoons of ground flax seeds and 9 tablespoons of water for the egg replacer and cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg for the spices. The topping is an almond cream with lemon juice, powdered sugar and a pinch of salt. It came out a little bit dense (I had to improvise a little in terms of baking equipment, which may have been a contributing factor) but it’s been disappearing pretty quickly over the course of the evening, so I’d say it’s a success.

Good luck to everyone participating in VeganMoFo and happy reading!

Spring & 50 new foods

Happy spring! Wait, is this my first post of the year? Well. Happy 2013? Have some cake.

Chocolate cake

Really though, I prefer spring as a time to celebrate a new year anyway. It’s just much easier to get excited about new beginnings when there’s actual sunshine and blue skies and budding trees to feel inspired by. And dandelions. I’m really loving all the dandelions this year.

Spring is also the time when I start to feel motivated about food and cooking again. Our kitchen can get pretty cold in the winter and after long months of wanting to wrap myself in every blanket I could find before even thinking about going in there it feels amazing to be able to leave the balcony door open and cook barefoot.

Though I’m happy to celebrate a new year, for some reason the idea of New Year’s resolutions never really appealed to me. I guess I thought of them as unpleasant things people create to make themselves do things they’re not really that excited by, but of course they don’t have to be like that at all. This year I thought it would be fun to make a list of foods I’d been wanting to try for a while but somehow hadn’t gotten around to making myself. Some of these I’ve tried at restaurants, others I’ve never even tasted, but they’re all foods I really look forward to trying at some point this year. I’ll come back to this list to mark off the items as I try them and if I write about them on this blog, I’ll add links the the posts as well.

1. Pita bread with real puffy pockets
2. Ciabatta on 14 August
3. Baguettes
4. Croissants
5. Puff pastry
6. Muffuletta sandwich
7. Yorkshire puddings
8. Calzone
9. Samosas
10. Spanakopita
11. Lahmacun
12. Sushi that I like
13. Saffron risotto
14. Beetroot risotto on 13 April
15. Tortellini
16. Vegetable stock on 4 September
17. Wonton soup
18. Miso soup
19. Eggplant bacon or coconut bacon or carrot bacon or chickpea bacon or another creative vegan bacon recipe that genius people have come up with
20. Something with jackfruit
21. Stuffed artichokes
22. Hasselback potatoes
23. Rice paper rolls
24. Enchiladas
25. Roti like this one from Vegetus on 4 September
26. Cashew mozzarella from Artisan Vegan Life
27. Chimichurri something on 11 April
28. Romesco sauce
29. Stroganoff on 10 September 2015
30. Sliceable seitan for sandwiches on 8 August
31. The holiday ham from Caribbean Vegan
32. Tofu Benny from Vegan Brunch
33. Falafel that’s deep-fried rather than baked on 5 September 2015
34. Yoghurt
35. Jam on 5 September
36. Churros
37. Carrot cake
38. Tiramisu
39. Flourless chocolate cake
40. Sticky toffee pudding
41. Banoffee pie
42. Coconut cream pie
43. Tarte tatin
44. Clafoutis
45. Chocolate chantilly with just chocolate and water
46. Dulce de leche
47. Agar pudding on 2 July 2015
48. A really coconutty coconut ice cream
49. Miyoko’s flax foam
50. Vanilla extract

I included a few foods that I’m slightly intimidated by (such as stuffed artichokes and baguettes) and I’m sure not all of these will turn out well on the first try (I already pulled my first batch of disappointing croissants out of the oven yesterday afternoon), but I have to say, I love having this list of delicious meals (and desserts!) to look forward to!

By the way, the chocolate cake at the top of this post is a version of this Wacky Cake recipe from Where’s the Revolution? which I absolutely love. It uses such simple ingredients that most people probably have on hand, but I love the flavour and texture and to me this is just the perfect chocolate cake. This time I made it with spelt flour and I always like to add a little extra cocoa powder and a few drops of almond extract as well.

… twelve jammie dodgers, and a fez

The new series of Doctor Who starts in an hour!

Bow-tiesTo celebrate, we’re having bow-tie pasta …

Jammie dodgers… jammie dodgers …

Fez?… and a FEZ.

OK, so the fez was a bit of a failure. I tried making a dark red icing by adding cocoa powder and beet juice to a plain cooked buttercream frosting, but the beet juice didn’t really seem to affect the colour at all. I kept adding more and more until the icing started to taste vaguely like vegetables, at which point I gave up and just went with the cocoa-tinted frosting. I feel like this cake really needed the red hue to bear any resemblance to an actual fez, but beet-flavoured icing probably wouldn’t have gone over very well so I’ll have to find a more effective food dye!

I thought about making these dalek cupcakes, but I didn’t know where to find the appropriate sweets and given my cake decorating skills demonstrated above they would probably have turned out looking like miniature scrap heaps instead of evil alien killing machines, so I’m kind of glad I didn’t attempt that. They look amazing though. Maybe next time.

Anyway – can’t wait for tonight’s episode! Who else is watching?

London: Veg Buffet, Inspiral

On our way to Camden market, we passed by Inspiral vegan cafe, one of the restaurants I really looked forward to visiting. They offer a large variety of dishes – delicious looking mains, cooked as well as raw, cakes (including tiramisu cake, chocolate mousse cake, and a raw key lime pie), raw chocolates and truffels, and vegan ice cream.

I was especially excited about the range of interesting ice cream flavours they list on their website, although they didn’t have all of those in the restaurant when we got there. After contemplating the different flavours they did have, we ordered a scoop of Raw Chocolate Chunk ice cream, pictured below.

Inspiral Chocolate Ice Cream

We both liked it, but it’s definitely not the best ice cream I’ve had – I gues I would’ve liked it to have a stronger, more distinct chocolatey flavour. Or maybe I don’t love chocolate and cashews together (their ice creams are cashew based). In any case, I didn’t think it was bad, but I think my boyfriend liked it more than I did. I’d still love to try their other ice cream flavours…

I also would’ve liked to try some of Inspiral’s main dishes, but the menu they had that day didn’t appeal to my boyfriend very much, and we wanted to explore more of Camden, so we decided to look for another restaurant for our dinner. We quickly encountered a man holding a sign that advertised an all-vegetarian buffet, which sounded like just the place for us. I had heard of these restaurants before – there’s a chain of Chinese/Thai buffet restaurants in London where you can get a small lunch takeout box for £3,50 and eat in for £6,50 or so. I’d read mixed reviews on this chain, but we were willing to try them out.

Unfortunately, neither of us was very impressed. Sure, this was a relatively cheap meal, everything in the restaurant was vegan, and the staff were quite friendly, but there wasn’t a single thing in the buffet that I really loved. There were a couple of mock meat dishes that weren’t as good as I hoped, and the veggies they had seemed a bit plain and were sometimes overly salty. I think I would’ve liked the food more if they’d done a better job at keeping everything warm, too – most things were cold by the time we got to eat them.

Veg Buffet in London

Still, it wasn’t too bad for such an inexpensive meal, and we filled our plates with the foods we liked best – in my case, that was fruit salad, potatoes, spring rolls, and some veggies. So I did have some tasty food and I don’t really regret trying this restaurant, but we both would’ve liked to have had a more exciting dinner this evening – after all, I know it’s possible to get amazing vegan meals in London.

So for dessert, we headed back to Inspiral for some cake!

Tiramisu Cake at Inspiral!

I looove tiramisu, but it can take so long to make yourself – I’d never  pass up the opportunity to get vegan version in a restaurant! Okay, so this is is tiramisu cake, which is slightly different from actual layered dessert, but it was still wonderful. Not as boozy as I’ve come to expect of tiramisu, but it was much creamier, especially with the dollop of Soyatoo on the side.

I hope someday I’ll get the chance to go back to Inspiral and try their lasagne or their mushroom pastie. And if I do, I’ll definitely get another slice of that cake, as well!

I love exams!

Well, not really, but these parties of people who passed their exams are giving me a great opportunity to bake. I’m not sure if cookies or cake really make a proper gift, but people seem to like them so I guess it’s alright.

Lemon Almond Cake

Strawberries are in season and as my parents couldn’t stop buying loads of them, I decided to make my friend the Lemon Almond Cake from Yellow Rose Recipes. It’s topped with sliced strawberries, a lemon glaze and toasted almonds. I used less glaze than this recipe made, because I didn’t want to cover it entirely. I love how this cake tastes, though don’t think it would hurt the recipe to use less sugar. The crunchy almonds on top were great.

Apart from the cake, I made a bunch of cookies. The ones I love the most? These:

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

They look a bit odd in this picture, but it’s the best one I have: Celine’s Double Chocolate Cookies. As I mentioned in my last post, these are so good. I’ve made them at least five times to give away and I had quite a few myself as well… I also made another batch of her Booze it Up Nut Butter cookies, making sure I added enough fat to the batter this time. I didn’t have cashew/macadamia nut butter and was almost out of peanut butter, so I used part almond butter. They turned out very well this time, I’m glad I tried again! I forgot to take a picture, unfortunately.

I made more cookies, but didn’t take pictures of those, either. They were these Whiskey Cookies. They taste awesome, though the flavours in there remind me more of autumn than of summer so I’m not sure why I’m making this time of year, but anyway – I liked them. I’m just wondering if maybe I did something wrong, as mine seem to have turned out different than Celine’s. She mentions how the cookies are crispy, while mine really are more chewy or cake-like, as someone in the comments there discribed. The dough was also different than the cookie doughs I’m used to, it was much more elastic. Interesting! These cookies were fun to make. And to eat.

So yeah, I’ll make sure to remember to take more pictures next time. Come to think of it, I do have some cupcake pictures to share:

Chocolate Cherry Cupcake

Rosey's Cupcakes

I didn’t make them myself, these are Rosey’s Cupcakes, which I bought at a local organic farm last weekend. I chose the chocolate cupcake in the upper picture and had a piece of every cupcake in the other picture. They were very different from the cupcakes I’m used to (the ones from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World), more like muffins, in my opinion. I think it was partly because the frosting was much less sweet than most of the VCTotW cupcakes. In any case, I loved that chocolate cherry cupcake and it was pretty awesome being able to buy vegan cupcakes so close to home. And they all look so pretty.

One last awesome thing. One of my friends threw a barbecue beach party yesterday and made sure there was some vegan food for me – including this delicious falafel!

Falafel

Cookies & cake

lemon thyme cake

As you may have noticed, I just changed my layout. I think I’m going to keep it like this for a while, but maybe I’ll switch back to the old one again. I just can’t look at the same old layout for a long time! I wish WordPress had more (free) options for customization, but I’ll use this design for now. It’s nice and simple.

In other news, I passed my exams!! I am quite happy and relieved. To celebrate, I made a batch of Dreena Burton’s Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies and had three of them all by myself. The other ones were eaten by my parents and neighbours, who loved them as well. I didn’t take a picture, I think I already posted pictures of these cookies before.

Now, I also baked some things before I got my exam results. I wanted to keep myself busy so I wouldn’t get too nervous but mostly I just really wanted to try these recipes: Booze it Up Nut Butter Cookies (below) and a Lemon Thyme Cake (above), both recipes by Celine. I made some changes to both recipes, as I didn’t have all the ingredients and wanted to try and be a little bit healthier by using part whole wheat pastry flour. The lemon thyme cake turned out great, but the cookies ended up being a bit dry. I think I’m going to try and make them again sometime following the original recipe. I thought I could get away with using a tiny bit less oil, as the peanut butter had a lot of fat, but in retrospect I don’t think it was such a good idea. They’re still good and full of delicious peanut buttery and chocolatey goodness (I put pieces of chocolate in the middle of the cookies instead of on top), so I think they’re worth a second try.

booze it up peanut butter cookies

The lemon thyme cake on the other hand was just perfect. I stored it in the refridgerator and served it cold, which made it a delicious fresh summer snack in all its lemony goodness. Yum. I think I’ll make that recipe again, too.

Now, I’ll probably change a few more things about the layout and bake some more cookies later today. Have I ever mentioned how much I love this recipe? Those cookies are so easy to make and so delicious, I just can’t stop baking them. They make a delicious small gift!