Just a note that this site is not being updated pending moving it to my own server. The ads for meat did it.
Heavenly is a new stealth vegan café in the centre of Glasgow. You’d never know from their website, which is useless but very pretty. I note it’s improved a little over the last couple of days in the time between my checking it before my visit, to my checking it now to put the link in. It now mentions that the café is vegan, but there’s still no online menu.
This place is so new it smells of woodworking. It’s clean, modern and very, very green. The menu is basic and short, and clearly designed to appeal to non-vegans, which is good because the omni partner is with me.
The burger was a ciabatta bun stuffed with grilled tofu and roast veg. It came with proper chips, a tasty green salad and onion rings. The latter were, unfortunately, fried at too low a temperature and were therefore oily. I’ll be giving the tempura a miss in future.
The (tofu) bangers and mash came with onion gravy. The omnivore proclaimed it to be okay, but would not be drawn further, other than it was not as filling as you might expect.
Dessert was something rarely found in vegan form: rice pudding. And it was nothing like I expected. The brown rice pudding had been formed into a cake and dressed with poached pears, blueberries and chocolate. Fabulous!
Heavenly, 185 Hope Street (nr Junction with West Regent Street), Glasgow G2 2UL. Tel: 0141-353 0884. Open 11am – midnight, 7 days a week. Last food order 8pm.
Patra is an Indian speciality made by spreading a spicy gram flour batter on taro leaves, rolling it up Swiss roll fashion and steaming it. It is available from Indian groceries in two forms in the UK. The easiest to find is canned but it is also available frozen, and this is, in my opinion, much better. The amount of patra you need depends on the size of the patra (the frozen is smaller) and the size of your slice of bread.
Polish shops have a range of ketchups. The “extra hot” one illustrated is not as spicy as it claims but has a nice tang. You can always spice it up by going to a Chinese or North American grocery and getting a hot chili sauce to add to it.
To make one sandwich:
between 3 and 5 slices of patra
2 slices wholemeal bread
Polish “extra hot” tomato ketchup
1-2 tbs olive oil
½ tsp white sesame seeds
½ tsp cumin seed
a pinch of asafœtida (hing)
Heat the oil in frying pan and add the spices. Cook for about thirty seconds before adding the patra and turning the heat down. When cooked, it goes a lovely golden brown colour – after a few minutes you will have to flip the slices.
Meanwhile, take one slice of your bread and put lots of ketchup on it. When the patra is done, arrange it on this slice of bread, add some more ketchup and bung the other slice over it. Cut in two and eat.
This is a classic Japanese dressing for bamboo shoots that works incredibly well on asparagus. It’s very simple:
2 tbl sweet white miso
2 tsp brown rice vinegar
2 tsp sake
a good pinch of yuzu (optional)
Just mix it all together and it’s ready. It’s particularly good the after a night in the refrigerator as the flavours mix together and mellow beautifully. You can also mess with the proportions – using only half the vinegar and sake makes a very thick salad cream type dressing.
Clockwise from back left: Clear soup with wakame and silken tofu; brown rice with fresh broad beans; bamboo shoots in a white miso and rice vinegar dressing, topped with yuzu and matcha; lightly fried asparagus in a black sesame dress; sake-simmered carrot and ginger; bought-in pickles.
I’m passing through Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on my way to Boston. Last year, when I was in Antwerp, I made much use of a Belgian chain called Exki. They specialise in natural foods and have lots of vegan options. Imagine my joy therefore, to discover a new branch in Terminal 2E.
Now, I’m feeling a little paranoid. I did not see any reference to my special meal request on my boarding card. So, I’ve bought a couple of items (to go with the hummous sandwich and fruit salad bought at EAT at Turnhouse) – a rice salad with stir fried veg and tofu, and a wakame salad. Both contain a substance called Légumaise, which I am assured does not contain egg.
Air France came up trumps, and the food they provided was spectacular. I haven’t eaten the stuff from Exki yet, so consider this a placeholder. The US Customs were happy to let it in, so I’ll be having it for breakfast.
I’m at London City Airport awaiting a flight home. It’s usually a desert for vegans (except those excessively fond of fruit), but I noticed Caffè Nero had a pasta dish labelled as being vegan.
I was hungry enough to give it a go. It scores poorly on presentation, being served in the plastic container in which it is displayed. But, it’s not bad at all. One of the best ready meal pastas I’ve ever had, and better than some Italian restaurants. The pasta was al dente, and the sauce just spicy enough to be worth bothering. The peppers were a bit mushy, though, and the portion size reflects the price – about £3.50 at an airport. Still hungry.
One point – they will offer to put cheese on it for you. If they don’t, ask them not to.
Once upon a time, there was Oriental City in Colindale, a fabulous East Asian shopping centre with a big supermarket and a food court. Then the developers moved in and got the place closed down so they could build flats in an area now devoid of any facilities other than ASDA.
Pacific Plaza, right by Wembley Stadium, is the reincarnation. It’s much smaller, but the food court contains an entirely vegetarian outlet, Veggie Hut.
The food is mostly South Indian, and is ludicrously cheap. I splashed out on the lunch special, which cost a princely £3.50 and included a plain dosa, one vada, two idli, two chutneys, a bowl of sambhar and a drink of my choice.
The dosa was a touch on the oily side, but that’s as far as I am going to complain. The chutneys were the traditional coconut plus a tamarind one, both spicy and making no concessions to English tastes. The vada was crispy on the outside, soft within and the idlis were so delicate I needed to use a spoon. The sambhar was filled with vegetables, interesting ones.
There are vegetarian options at the other stands, notably Hot Korean and Nambu (Japanese) both of which indicate what’s suitable, or can be made so, on their menus. The supermarket is due to reopen here soon, too.
Oh, and the redevelopment of Oriental City? After taking so much trouble to close it down, the developers have done precisely nothing with the site.
Veggie Hut, Pacific Plaza food court, Engineers Way, Wembley, London HA9 0EG. [Map - note that it's not where Google thinks it is, but over the road among the collection of outlets]. Open 10.00 till 22.00 daily; last orders 21.00.
Stereo is entirely vegan, and the sister restaurant to Mono and The 78. The menu is a lighter one, with plenty of tapas, plus a selection of mains. There is a strong Mediterranean feel, but they’ve clearly trawled the world looking for interesting ideas for vegan dishes. Weirdly, they don’t mention anywhere that all the food is vegan. They don’t even mention that it’s vegetarian, though that would be obvious as soon as you scan the menu.
I went for the farinata, an Italian gram flour baked pancake (see photo). Usually served simply with salt and pepper, here it had been turned into a meal with the addition of borlotti beans and fried porcini mushrooms, and served it with a green sauce which I think was basically basil. It worked well, having the satisfaction level of a pizza (vegan pizza and calzone are also on the menu), but with the hope that it might be vaguely healthy. My partner chose a selection of small dishes. The Patatas Bravas met with his approval, the flatbread contained more garlic than bread, and the olives were devoured by both of us.
There was even dessert, though only a couple of choices, and there was no way chocolate orange cake was passing me by! Drinks-wise it was unimpressive. The only beer worth drinking was the superb Samuel Smith Wheat Beer, and the home-made sodas you get at Mono were absent. I also think they exaggerate the pedigree of their building. Charles Rennie Mackintosh did, indeed work on it, but mostly on the tiling at the back.
Stereo, 20-28 Renfield Lane, Glasgow G2 6PH. Tel: 0141-222 2254. Full menu served noon-9pm daily; tapas served until midnight daily.
Usually, when I go to the Auld Hoose on a Sunday afternoon, it’s for breakfast. This week, I thought I’d try the Sunday roast. I commented that the vegan meal was presumably the same as the vegetarian one, minus the Yorkshire puddings and Jonathan, behind the bar, informed me that they had vegan Yorkshires. That I had to try!
The meal consisted of a classic nut roast with the traditional trimmings. The nut roast itself made no attempt to disguise its main ingredient, and was excellent. The roast potatoes were crispy on the outside, and melty within, and the Yorkshire puddings made my day. The main disappointment was the offering of vegetables, mostly frozen I suspect. There again, it’s not the season for anything other than cabbage and spuds right now.
It did lie a little heavy on my stomach afterwards, but that’s the idea isn’t it?
Kenchinjiru is a traditional winter recipe originating in Zen temples, and there are many variations. The basic recipe adapts well to the sort of winter vegetables that are available in Scotland right now. It’s dead simple, and really warming. The amounts given makes a large bowl suitable for a meal for one. It’ll serve up to four as part of a larger meal. This is more of a formula than a recipe, and it can be made gluten-free by using a proper tamari instead of shōyu.
For the soup:
2 cups dashi
½ tsp frying oil
¼ tsp sesame oil
½ tsp shōyu
1 tsp sake
1 shiitake mushroom, both fresh and reconstituted dried ones are fine. If using dried, include the soaking water in the dashi.
2 large leaves spinach, a similar quantity of any green leafy vegetable, or a few green beans.
½ block (100g) tofu, cubed – either silken or “ordinary” will do
Vegetables: (choose three)
Peel (if needed) and slice them thinly. The first four are traditional:
Half a small carrot
5cm length of daikon from the thin end of the radish
1cm lotus root (quarter, then slice)
5cm burdock root
a quarter or a golden or striped beetroot (the traditional red one will colour the soup)
half a small parsnip
10cm length of salsify
a quarter of a small turnip, more if very small.
a similar amount of whatever root vegetable you happen to have.
Extras (choose one):
½ block konnyaku, any savoury variety, broken into lumps, boiled and drained.
1 sheet aburaage, rinsed and sliced thinly.
Heat the frying oil in a medium saucepan and add the vegetables, mushrooms and konnyaku (if using). Stir fry very briefly, then add the dashi, shōyu and sake. Bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are nearly cooked through. Add the spinach and tofu, and simmer until the tofu is warmed through and the spinach slightly wilted. Stir in the sesame oil and serve.
I was attempting to make apple strudel last night and had five sheets of pastry left over. I was also hungry, so decided to experiment and make a mushroom strudel. Except I only had three mushrooms left, so had to add the potatoes.
5 sheets filo pastry, defrosted.
at least a cup vegetable ghee
Approximately a dozen small new potatoes
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic, or to taste
¼ cup ground almonds
2 tbl sesame seed
2 tbl olive oil
1 tbl flour
1 cup vegetable stock
Ground black pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 180°C, maybe 200°C if not fan-assisted.
Slice the potatoes very thinly and parboil. Set to one side.
Slice the mushrooms and onion thinly. Crush or chop the garlic finely. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the mushrooms, onion and garlic for a few minutes. Add the ground almonds and the flour and fry for a minute or so more or until the flour darkens. Turn the heat down, and gradually add the stock, stirring all the time, until you get a thick creamy sauce. Bring to the boil – it should thicken slightly – then add the cooked potatoes and black pepper to taste and set to one side.
Melt the ghee in a small saucepan and leave on the lowest heat.
Place a clean tea towel on a flat surface. Put the first sheet of filo on top of this and brush it all over with the melted ghee. Place your next sheet of filo on top of this and repeat, until all the sheets of filo are used up. Sprinkle about 1½ tablespoons of sesame seed all over the top sheet. Allowing about 5cm (2″) at the end, and about half that at the edges, spread the filling in a rectangle at one narrow end of your pastry. It should cover about a third to a half of the surface area. Using the tea towel like a sushi mat, lift up the narrow end and gently roll the pastry into a large Swiss roll. Place onto a greased baking sheet with the “join” underneath.
Brush the top with more melted ghee and sprinkle over the remaining sesame seeds. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until it is nicely browned. Don’t forget to switch off the heat under the remaining ghee!
I used vegetable ghee for this, but you could use a baking margarine. The fat level is important to make this recipe work, so it needs to be a hard margarine such as Tomor Hard Block. I liked how this recipe turned out, but am thinking of experimenting with olive oil next time. To slightly reduce the fat content, the top could be brushed with soya milk instead of ghee.
Use a flavoursome stock. I used a Kosher parve beef-style consommé, sprinkled onto the sauce at the boil, and stirred in. I would also have used more mushrooms and fewer potatoes, but that’s what I had.
This is a variation on a traditional Japanese dish, using pine nuts instead of sesame seed. The dressing can be made with practically any kind of nut or seed, but I had some pine nuts to use up, and they worked really well.
A bag of spinach (200-250g)
30g pine nuts
1 tbl shōyu
1 tbl mirin
Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan, no oil, until mid-brown. Grind them as fine as you can and mix in the shōyu and mirin. Put to one side.
Thoroughly rinse the spinach and wilt by boiling it in as much water as sticks to it. Rinse in cold water, and gently squeeze out as much liquid as you can. You will probably have a sausage shaped lump of spinach at this point. Cut it into short lengths of about 2cm, and separate the pieces as you put them in a bowl. Mix in the dressing and leave for a while before serving at room temperature.
This recipe can be made gluten-free by using proper tamari instead of shōyu. You should use a high quality mirin, such as Clearspring’s Mikawa Mirin, for this dish – it’s worth it.