Picnic Food Extravaganza (part 2)

In addition to the Chickpea Nuggets-of-Delicious and the Sweet BBQ Sauce, I brought some Vegan Chocolate Cherry Soy-Free Bread Pudding.

I had never made anything like this before, but, knowing the logistics of a regular bread pudding, I was convinced it would work.  People seemed to like it.  It turned a bit too pudding-ey for a picnic, though; I was hoping to get it to a consistency where it could be eaten with one’s hands, but luckily people had plates and spoons and were able to eat it anyway.  In the future, I’d probably add some vegetarian gelling agent like arrowroot powder even some Ener-G Egg Replacer.

Most importantly, it was super easy.

Without further ado:

Ingredients

  • about 10 slices of whole wheat bread, decrusted and cut into cubes
  • 710 mL oat milk
  • About half a bar of vegan dark chocolate, cut into small chunks
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 180g raw cane sugar
  • 1 tin black cherries in syrup, drained completely and chopped

Step one Warm milk in a pot over the hob and then add cocoa powder and sugar.  Stir to combine so that most of the cocoa powder has dissolved. Remove from heat.  Stir in cherries.

Step two Scatter bread cubes across the bottom of a square cake pan (or whatever cake pan you have).  Pour milk mixture over the bread cubes.  Scatter the cherries and chocolate chunks over the top.  Fold everything through and make sure all the bread has begun to suck up the milk.

Step three Bake in the oven at 200C for 35-40 minutes, until you take it out and the centre just wobbles a bit and the crust is a bit hard.

Picnic Food Extravaganza (part 1)

So I brought the chickpea nuggets to the picnic yesterday, and they were a massive hit amongst everyone who tried them.  I had to sub a few oats for breadcrumbs, because I ran out of breadcrumbs and only had half the measurement.  I didn’t seem to notice a difference.  What I’ve learned: chickpea nuggets are pretty tasty when cool.  Obviously, they’re divine when fresh from the oven.

I have no pictures of anything, because I didn’t think about this before taking all the food to the picnic.  But everything was damn tasty.

But I had to start by making some soy-free soy sauce so as to accommodate non-soy eaters.  This was quite easy, actually, and my soy-free soy sauce turned out great.  All soy sauce really is at the end of the day is salt + umami tastes.  So…

Soy-free Soy Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp veggie stock powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 pinch white pepper
  • a shake of garlic powder
  • a dab of natural yeast extract
  • a dab of black strap mollases
  • 355ml water

In a pot, stir all things together and bring to a boil.  Simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes, until concoction has reduced to about 1 cup.  Package and store in the refrigerator.  Use as you’d use soy sauce.

Then I moved on to making the Sweet BBQ Sauce to dip the chickpea nuggets into.  It was delicious.  I still have some left.  I might use it to marinade some tofu for dinner tonight.  Easy leftover-cooking win!

Sweet BBQ Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 dried sundried tomatoes (about 2 tbsp if chopped), soaked in hot water and then wrung out
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes (drained)
  • 1 small-medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • the juice of one lemon
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 60ml water (only as necessary)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

Step one Combine ketchup, tomato paste, sundried tomatoes and tinned chopped tomatoes in a blender, adding water only as necessary.

Step two Transfer to a pot with onion, maple syrup, brown sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic.  Simmer for 15 minutes

Step three Add the rest of the ingredients (spices) and simmer for another five minutes.  Taste and season as necessary with salt. 

Serve warm or cold.  Use as a marinade or dipping sauce.

Social Weekend

Red and I went to Barnes last night for dinner and drinks with Molly and Phil.  We had a lovely Thai meal in a quaint little restaurant and then drinks at another equally charming pub on a residential street.  This was mostly a much-needed and much-enjoyed social outing, but also partly a reconnaissance mission.  You see, we’re going to be moving out of London Central in a couple months’ time.  While the areas south of the river don’t have great Tube transport lines, I think I’ve made it to the point where I really don’t mind this.  Red believes that as soon as I move out of the centre of London I will start complaining about the lack of convenience, but I would just like to have a little space to my own.  An area with restaurants, pubs and shops that aren’t filled with a bunch of French tourists invading my personal space and trying to jump in front of me in the queue.  An area that won’t ensure I get packed into a hot, sticky Tube elevator three times a week with a bunch of drunk Europeans shouting about one thing or another in a language I don’t understand at 12:30AM when all I could want for is some peace and quiet.

I’m old.

Also, it theoretically takes twice as long to get from Hammersmith to Westminster on the Tube as it does to get to the City from, say, Greenwich on the train.  London Transport Conspiracy?  Yes, yes, I know when the Tube was on strike two days ago that London was mayhem.  But, by ‘London’ I mean the area of London north of the river.  I’ve read that South London, without its heavy reliance on Tube transport, was fine.  Just, fine.

I was thinking I might be able to live with all the antipodeans in Hammersmith (just north of the river from Barnes, with two, count them, two Tube stations) earlier in the evening yesterday.  That is, until I got to Hammersmith from Barnes on the bus and needed a toilet.  And couldn’t find one anywhere.  All the pubs had doormen who wouldn’t let me in.  Fuck Hammersmith and its loo fascism.

Anyway.

Picnicking.

Tomorrow’s the Yelp picnic.  According to the numbers on the Yelp Event page, 24 people are coming to this picnic.  Massive!  Quite possibly the most successful London Yelp event to date.  I am supposed to be cooking right now.  Well, I suppose I’m not wholly behind on schedule, because Red woke up early to go into work (on a Saturday. Bleh.), so I ended up waking up with him at 8am.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not wont to wake up at 8am on a Saturday, so that already put me ahead of schedule.  So ease up on me, hokay?

I’m going to make the chickpea nuggets-of-awesome and some homemade BBQ sauce.  But it occurs to me that both of these things involve soy sauce.  And I know that Molly is allergic to soy.  And, being the observant and thoughtful person that I am (how self-deprecating of me), I couldn’t possibly in clear conscience elect to bring something to the potluck picnic that she couldn’t even try.  So my domestic-task-of-amazingness for today is making my own ‘soy sauce’, soy-free of course.

I’ll get right on that.

But before the Yelp picnic on Sunday, we have plans to hang out with Olly, Dan, Jay and Sarah this afternoon at the Lowlander Cafe in Covent Garden.  I’m still feeling the three drinks I had last night (lightweight), and I’m not too sure I’m going to be able to hack drinking Belgian beer all day .  Oi.  I’m going to have to get better at drinking if I’m going to keep having these social-filled urbanite weekends.

OMG Chickpea Nuggets!

This recipe, originally Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon, has taken internet blogs by storm.  Everyone speaks of this Veganomicon Chickpea/wheat gluten hybrid as if it’s better than God’s own supply of puffy cheeze balls.  Really, going fucking crazy about its deliciousness.  I have never made it before.  I made it today. 

I. love. these. nuggets. 

I think I’ve found the food I’m bringing to share at the picnic this Sunday. 

The chickpeas make them crispy on the outside; the vital wheat gluten makes them chewy on the inside.

Seriously. Good.

Chickpea nuggets

 

Red thought they were perfect little vessels for ketchup and mustard.  While I love drowning just about anything in a healthy helping of the red and yellow stuff, I thought that, in this case, the delicate and delicious balance of herbs and spices of the nuggets were overpowered by said red and yellow stuff.  In my opinion, they were perfectly complemented by something sweet.  In my case, honey.  But in the case of a vegan, perhaps agave nectar or maple syrup.  I’m thinking they will be fabulous fo deffs with some homemade BBQ sauce. 

Ingredients

  • 1 c cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 c vital wheat gluten
  • 1/2 c bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c vegetable broth (or water)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (sub veggie worcestershire sauce or just some plain ol’ salt, I guess, if you need to be soy-free)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest (I didn’t have this and just squirted in a bit of lemon juice.)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • additional oil for frying or baking

Step one Mash the hell out of the chickpeas with the oil until there’s no identifiable chickpea matter left.

Step two Combine the rest of the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir through.  Add this to the mashed chickpeas.  Then add the wet ingredients and stir well to combine.  Knead the mixture in the bowl until the gluten strands begin to form and hold everything together (about three minutes).

Step three Divide the dough into little chunks and form them into little balls, then flatten into nugget shapes.  Rub a bit of olive oil on both sides of the nuggets and place them on a baking sheet.

Step four Bake for 20 minutes on 200C.  Flip nuggets and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes. 

Serve. 

Mmmm…