Viva Vegan CookbookA couple of years ago I gave my initial impressions of this book, but now, having had a decent amount of time to use it, I thought it was worth an update,:

Let’s face it, we’ve got far too many cookbooks, but there’s always room for one that changes everything! We know we need to eat less meat – for health reasons, to save money, and to help the planet – but somehow we never seem to quite get around to it

Sticking Viva Vegan on my Christmas list was a bit out of left field, but it has turned out to be fantastic. The recipes are really delicious Latin American staples with great Vegan twists, and there are some really interesting meat-substitutes that I can’t wait to try – and I’m sure I’ll get to soon. As a bonus, most of the recipes can be made from store-cupboard ingredients – albeit pretty specialised store cupboard ingredients!

As I’ve embarked on a recent on-again, off-again love affair with the VB6: Vegan Before 6 diet I have found myself making the recipes more often, and I’m definitely developing some favourites.

Our top recipes so far are the Cashew Crema – a replacement for the ever-present sour cream used in many recipes – and the Drunken Beans, although we have yet to make the Vegan Seitan Chorizo, which I am really looking forward to.

Making Seitan is one of the things we just haven’t tried yet from the book – it took me a while to source the Vital Wheat Gluten, which is essential to the recipe – none of our local health food shops had it, so I had to resort to Amazon. While I was there I stocked up on some of the more unusual ingredients she mentions – I’ve listed them below to make it easy for you to find them. Any day know I’m going to get the time – and courage – to give it a go, and then I’ll report back . . .

Our favourite recipes

As with every recipe book, we have grown used to several of the dishes, and they get cooked regularly, with varying local tweaks:

Peanut Sauce – Salsa di Mani
This is a quick, simple sauce which makes an easy addition to steamed veg-and-rice. Loved by all the family.

Cashew Crema
Slightly less well received by the whole family, but one of my favourites. We’d use it more if you didn’t need to soak the cashews beforehand, as we’re always after creme fraiche.

Drunken Beans with Seitan Chorizo
I do this one all the time – albeit without the Seitan Chorizo, as I’ve only just got the Vital Wheat Gluten. Some point soon I’ll do the whole thing – it should be even more delicious.

And some recipes we’re keen to try

As well as regular favourites there are a few dishes that I somehow just haven’t got to yet, but which are definitely on my shortlist:

Seitan
Used in lots of vegan dishes – this is a meat substitute based on Vital Wheat Gluten. Getting the ingredients was the hard bit. Now I just need to find time to try making it.

Black-Eyed Butternut Tostadas
Crispy-fried tortillas stacked with toppings – what’s not to like?

Chocolate Chile Mole Sauce
I’d just love to see the kids’ faces when we serve them something covered in chocolate . . .

Mashed Potato Pancakes with Peanut Sauce – Llapingachos
These could be perfect for a VB6 vegan breakfast – and a perfect alternative to Bacon & Eggs!

And there are plenty more where those came from.

Essential Vegan store-cupboard ingredients

In addition to large bags of cashew nuts, peanuts, dried beans, brown basmati rice, and a garden full of vegetables, there are a range of interesting store cupboard ingredients we’ve bought to fill the gaps for our more unique Vegan recipes. Hard to find in your local supermarket, but surprisingly easy on Amazon:

Wheat Berries, a delicious wholegrain alternative to rice, perfect for VB6
Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, essential to make Seitan – the delicious meat substitute.
Liquid Smoke, for adding that essential barbecue flavour to Seitan.
Engevita Yeast Flakes for more meaty flavour.

That’s the update – even if you are a dyed-in-the-wool carnivore there are some great dishes for you to try!

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Viva Vegan Cookbook

We’ve got far too many cookbooks, but there’s always room for one that changes everything! We know we need to eat less meat, but never seem to get around to it . . .

Sticking Viva Vegan on my Christmas list was a bit out of left field, but it has turned out to be fantastic. The recipes are really delicious Latin American staples with great Vegan twists, and there are some really interesting meat-substitutes that I can’t wait to try. As a bonus, most of the recipes can be made from store-cupboard ingredients – perfect for our collection of Resilient Recipes.

Now all that’s standing between me and some Seitan Chorizo sausages is finding some Vital Wheat Gluten!

I’ve got some Black Beans and Cashews soaking now for tomorrow’s dinner – I’ll let you know how we go.

I got it from Amazon, so if you can’t find it locally, here is the link –Viva Vegan, and the Trafford Eco House will get some money from your purchase (it won’t cost you any more).

Makes two cups
No cooking required

1 400ml can of chickpeas
1 1/2 tbsp tahini – but we use peanut butter
3+ tbsp lemon juice – to taste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2+ tbsp olive oil
up to 1/4 cup water

And for serving

Turkish flat bread or some long-life wraps.

Recipe

Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then combine the all the ingredients in a food processor, with a stick blender (we use a basic one like this – Kenwood Stick Blender, or you can manually mash them if you’re desperate!

Add extra lemon juice, water or olive oil to taste, and if it dries out just add a little more oil.

That’s it – easy, quick, and delicious.

Makes 1 large flatbread

1½ hours from start to finish (1 hour rising)

Ingredients

2 cups plain white flour – or strong bread flour

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

7-10g dried yeast

3-400ml lukewarm water

3-4 tsps of sesame & cumin seeds

Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Add the water, bit by bit, mixing the dough with a spoon – not too slowly or you end up with an impenetrable ball of dough that shrugs off any more water. Keep adding water until you have a very soft and almost sloppy dough.

Cover the bowl with a tea towel and put in a warm place to rise for an hour – our kitchen is usually warm enough. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 250°c and put a large baking tray in it to heat up.

When the dough has risen, remove the hot tray from the oven and sprinkle with a little flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and straight onto the tray (it’ll be too soft to handle) and gently press into shape.

Quickly spray or brush the loaf with a mixture of cold water and a dash of olive oil then sprinkle with the seeds.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 12 mins, then remove from the oven and brush/spray once more. Bake for a further 5 -8 mins, or until the bread is golden.

If you want a crusty loaf then cool it on a wire rack, but for the genuine Turkish Flatbread soft crust, wrap it in a teatowel.

We love eating it as toasted sandwiches, but it’s also great with our home-made hummus.

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This recipe comes from our new Resilient Recipes project, which was inspired by Sharon Astyk‘s book “Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation“. It aims to lay out a range of easy, delicious meals that can be made from pantry ingredients in combination with home-grown veg.

The best of these recipes will need little or no cooking, should appeal to all the family, and can be easy everyday meals made from ingredients that can be stored for up to a year. In the event of any form of disruption to the food supply a well prepared family will be able to feed themselves happily from the Resilient Recipes guide.

We’ll start filling it with our favourite resilient recipes, feel free to contact us with yours and we’ll try them out and add them too!

Easy Risotto Recipe

Serves 4 hungry people
45 min from start to table – 25 mins unattended cooking
Only uses one pan & cooks on the stovetop

Basic Recipe

3tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
300g risotto rice (Arborio)
600ml stock (chicken or vegetable)
150ml white wine (or red! or stock if none available)
300ml passata (or a tin of tomatoes, pureed)
½tsp dried oregano / mixed herbs (or 2 tsp fresh)

and for serving

2 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
50g black olives, sliced
50g parmesan, shredded

Additions
Mix and match – add one or more of these.
Reduce the quantities if you add more than one.

250g mushrooms, sliced
10g dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated
100g chorizo, diced
350g chicken, cubed

Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid (we use a non-stick wok with a lid). Add the onion, garlic and any extras you want, other than the porcini mushrooms. Fry, stirring, for about 5 minutes.

Add the rice, stock, wine, passata, herbs and porcini mushrooms and bring to the boil.

Cover, and cook gently for 25 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is just tender.

Remove from the heat, stir in the olives and sun-dried tomatoes, and serve sprinkled with the parmesan.

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