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Monday, 28 January 2013

Quorn Chilli

Hi! Jess today!

I guess I should say Happy New Year since this is our first blog since 2012. We are bad bloggers I know, but Tom has had final year exams and I have been eating a lot of salad and ready made soup. Healthy, but it doesn't make good blogging to tell you how I chopped a carrot, a pepper and some tomatoes, threw in some rocket and some ham and then..ate it.

So anyway, on the healthy note, I decided I would try cooking with Quorn. I figured it's low in fat and calories and high in protein, therefore there must be something good to it. I know it isn't vegan, and technically it's not gluten free as it states it contains barley gluten, but I tried it anyway because I figured the gluten is probably negligible. And I really wanted to make chilli and Quorn mince was only £1 in Asda.

So, I will admit, this recipe failed a little in that after chopping all the veg up, I realised I'd forgotten to get kidney beans. A chilli without kidney beans isn't really a chilli i know. But i found baked beans, so I made do with them.

1 pack Quorn mince
1 red pepper
1 red onion
1-2 cloves garlic
2 chilli peppers (I used a red one and a birds eye one which was pretty spicy, but use what you're comfortable with)
1 cup mushrooms (I used chestnut)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
300ml vegetable stock
Chili powder
Worcester sauce
1 tin drained Kidney Beans (or a tin of baked beans if you're forgetful like me)

This isn't a technical recipe; fry onion, chillis and garlic until onions are browning, add pepper and mushrooms, when brown add quorn. Fry for a few mins, add tomatoes, beans and stock, add as much paprika, chilli powder and cumin as you like. Add a dash of cinnamon and worcester sauce. Cook for another 8-10 mins on medium heat on the hob. And that's pretty much it.

Not an exciting recipe, but a single serving with a sweet potato jacket (which I made by microwaving a sweet potato for 8 minutes, no science in this one) is less than 400 calories so it's a perfect tasty option for those still sticking to their new year's diets. I wouldn't say Quorn is as good as beef, but it's so much lower in fat that it seems worth it. I'm not going vegetarian, but it's nice to know I don't mind veggie options :)

Planning on lots of low-cal dishes to come (and some more cake). Tom will be back soon too as his exams are now over (yay!), probably after our visit to Dough Pizza Kitchen in Manchester as his belated-birthday celebration (they do AMAZING gluten free and vegan pizza, need I say more?).

Let me know how you get on!

Vegan, Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Jess again today!

So, it was Tom's birthday earlier in January. Any UoM students will know this makes him incredibly unlucky as his birthday falls approximately a week before the start of the January exam period. Booooo. Therefore, we postponed his birthday celebration to this weekend, and we are going to Dough for pizza (the most amazing place in the world for the gluten free and vegan people of Manchester). And I have made him a birthday cake. A vegan, gluten free, chocolate cake, with peanut butter frosting. Everything Tom loves, in a cake.

I spent a very long time looking for a good recipe for this. So many GFV recipes contain a ridiculous number of ingredients that would cost me a month's wages to buy, I was starting to get disheartened. I came across a really easy recipe but decided it looked too easy. Basically, I was really picky. And then I found this and knew it was the one. I just tweaked it a little to make it gluten free (and I made a big cake, not cupcakes).

1 cup gluten free flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup vegan butter, melted (I used sunflower spread)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used praline rice milk because it sounded nice and I lose all sense of cost in the Eighth Day veggie shop on Oxford Road, but soy milk or almond milk would work just as well)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1/3 cup hot water with 1 tsp Chia seeds (flaxseed would work the same)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4tsp apple cider vinegar (I don't know how to measure this exactly, I probably used more like 3/4 tsp but whatever, I don't think it made a difference!)
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup blended fruit
Optional - handful dark chocolate chips, cacao nibs

Now where I say blended fruit, I used a whole mashed banana with a handful of mashed blueberries. The original recipe used blackberries, and suggests that any mashable fruit would work - strawberries, other berries, banana, apple...but I decided banana would go best (and I trusted it best) and just threw a few blueberries in for fun. I'd like to try this with blackberries or raspberries, I'll let you know if I do! Also, the original recipe used 1+1/2 cups all purpose white flour, but I substituted 1/2 cup ground almonds in because I think they give a nicer texture in gluten free baking. And the original recipe used just a cup of sugar, but in my experience a bit of golden syrup makes gluten free baking a bit more moist so I tried this.

Heat oven to 190C. First, blend the fruit and add the milk. You could use a food processor but I just did it in a cup by hand. Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl, sifted. Add the blended fruit, melted butter, seed slurry and other ingredients and mix together. Again, I just folded it all in together. At this point I added a handful of dark chocolate chips and a sprinkling of cacao nibs. This isn't needed but I wanted to make it a bit more decadent since it's Tom's birthday. Fold together, pour in your chosen baking tin and bake. Mine took about 30 minutes, but keep checking and go by your oven (if a fork comes out clean, it's done...). Cake done.

Cake mix is luckily not that great licked from the bowl...

 Yes, all my chocolate cakes do look the same...

Peanut Butter Frosting
1/3 cup peanut butter (use whatever type you prefer, other nut butters would work too if you wish!)
1/3 cup vegan butter
2 tsp vanilla
A few splashes of non-dairy milk
1 cup icing sugar
Optional - 2 tsp maple syrup

Basically, blend it all together. Use a whisk or a fork or a spoon or a food processor, whatever you like. Add more milk if its too thick, more sugar if its too runny. Just go with whatever looks best.

What dreams are made of

To decorate the cake, i literally slathered this beautiful frosting all over it, and then added some flaked almonds around the side. Then I spelled H.B. TOM on it with these cute little vegan chocolate chips 

So, this was the final product....

And in all honesty, it was wonderful. Perfect. Glorious. Incredible. I cannot stress how important it is that you make this. Make it into cupcakes, make it into a victoria sandwich with more frosting and some jam in the middle (had i had sandwich tins, this is what I would have done), just make sure you make this. It is vegan, gluten free baking at it's finest, if I do say so myself.

Then, to celebrate Tom's birthday, we ate cake (after our Dough pizzas), dipped fruit and dark chocolate in frosting, drank prosecco and watched Coyote Ugly. He is a man, I do know this, but he embraced his inner woman this day. And I'm pretty sure he enjoyed it.

 You must do this, it is amazing.

 Please make this and please tell me how amazing it goes :)