Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tasteless advertising from Hunky Dorys

This is apparently what you do when you want to advertise crisps:

Or at least, this is what Irish company Largo Foods, who own the Hunky Dorys crisps (potato chips) brand, think passes as acceptable advertising. And this is what they think is acceptable as a website to back up said advertising campaign. (It's worse than the ad might suggest.)

This isn't, and shouldn't be, acceptable. I used to be an occasional Hunky Dorys customer, but no more. I don't want to give my hard-earned money to a company that uses the worst, laziest form of advertising to promote its product. Using a woman's breasts, and a 'cheeky' tagline drawing reference to them, is the lowest level of advertising. It requires little brain power, little ingenuity, and little sense. It talks down to the customers - as if it's trying to appeal to their most basic instincts - and alienates and offends its female consumers.

When I see something as glaringly offensive as this, I call it out. I don't sit there and hope that if I say nothing, it'll disappear. I don't believe that anything was achieved by being silent - especially when it comes to sexism. I have sent a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about this ad and so have a number of my friends. If we want this sort of demeaning advertising to end, we have to call the advertisers out on it. We have to put our money were our mouth is and not support products that market themselves in such a way and treat their customers as though they are stupid.

There were numerous ways that Hunky Dorys could have capitalised on their 'proud sponsors of Irish rugby' slogan - such as using real rugby players, male or female, and not in sexualised poses. So why go down the lazy route? Is it because they've done something similar before, and just not learned from it? Or do they really think their customers are that stupid?

Will you be boycotting Hunky Dorys products?

This story has already picked up some interest on Jezebel.com, the Evening Herald and the Belfast Telegraph. I note with a sigh that many of the comments on the latter are predictably of the "prudish feminists, what are you complaining about?" ilk.

PS. I wrote something similar about the use of models in music advertisements only two weeks ago on my other blog..

Vegan Bakesale haul


Check out that plate of (slightly squashed) goodies! 

Last Saturday, I went along to the vegan bakesale I told y'all about a few weeks back. It was held in Cultivate in Dublin city centre - next to Siam Thai - and was run by volunteers and members of the Vegetarian Society. There were so many delicious cakes there, so I decided to pick a few to sample - two mini croissants (one with almond filling and one with peanut butter); neapolitans (strawberry flavour); chocolate cupcake; lemon cupcake (with strawberry jam filling); chocolate chip cookies and four mini oaty flapjacks (er, I ate one before I took the picture). They were all delicious but I definitely ate waaaaay too many in one go!

Well done to the organisers - I hope they raised lots of money for Cats Aid and that they hold another vegan cakesale again soon. It was great to see such a positive veggie event being held in Dublin!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lovely Leek & Lentil soup


There's something about a big bowl of soup - it's so comforting, so soothing and so easy to make. It's soul food; but rather than chicken soup for the soul, I'm a fan of veg soup for the soul - harming chickens certainly doesn't make me feel good.

In this week's veg delivery from Home Organics, we got three large leeks. I haven't really cooked much with leeks so I decided to do something simple and make a leek and potato soup. Then I remembered the big bag of green lentils I had bought recently, and thought that maybe the soup could do with a bit of added protein. I was pretty unsure how this would turn out - but myself and C finished off the pot of soup that very night, when it could have easily fed us for the next day's lunch! It was really tasty and filling, and the lentils were an unusual but delicious addition.

Here's the recipe - if you try it, I'd love to find out how you get on.


(I'm such a professional with my Tesco knife *ahem*)


Lovely Leek & Lentil Soup

Serves 2 - 4
10 mins prep
35 mins cooking (approx)

Ingredients

3 leeks (roughly chopped) (note - to wash the leeks properly, chop then wash in a colander to get out any remaining grit)
2 medium potatoes (if organic, leave the skin on) chopped into chunks
1/2 (half) cup of green lentils, washed thoroughly
1 medium onion, diced or roughly chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1 dash of dried rosemary (to taste - but it really gives the soup an edge)
1 dash of pepper (to taste)
1 pint of yeast-free veg stock


1. Heat a small bit of oil (or veg stock if you don't use oil) in a saucepan at medium heat and add your garlic and onion.

2. Cook for a few minutes, until they start softening, and then add your leeks and cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes, being careful not to have the pot too hot. If the veg is sticking, add a splash of water.

3. When the onions and leeks are nicely softened, add your potatoes, stir until all the veg is combined and sweat for about 5 or so minutes.

4. Add your vegetable stock, and your lentils. Bring to the boil, then bring it back to a gentle simmer.

5. Add a dash or two of rosemary and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes - until the lentils are soft.

6. Don't worry if the potatoes start breaking up - that'll really add to the flavour. This is a brothy soup but you could blend it if you want. Personally, I loved the combination of textures and flavours.

Serve with some crusty bread. Go back for seconds.

What's your veg soup for the soul?

Naomi Rose's quinoa dish

Hey folks! Hope you all are having a great weekend. Don't forget that the fourth Adventures in Food column is out today in the Irish Independent - it features a marinated and baked tofu dish! I'll put the recipe and details up here next week.

But for now, here's one of my absolute favourite recipes by the lovely Naomi Rose from the Gluttonous Vegan blog. I love her blog to bits and I was delighted she allowed me to use her recipe for my last column. If you've never cooked with quinoa before, believe me, it's a really great addition to any kitchen. It's protein-rich and you can use it in all sorts of ways. This recipe below is so simple, yet so delicious. Just how I like it! If you try this dish, please let myself and Naomi know how you got on!

Thanks Naomi!



The Mighty Quinoa

By Aoife Barry

Quinoa: it might sound like a tropical disease, or perhaps even an ancient Irish name, but in fact this unassuming looking seed is the key to a hearty meal. 

It’s often mistakenly called a grain, but in reality quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’) is the seed of a pseudocereal, and originated in the Andean area of South America. The Incans, it is said, regarded quinoa as sacred. These days it is loved for being an inexpensive and filling protein source with a light nutty taste that can be used in a multitude of ways. You can buy organic, Fairtrade quinoa in 500g or 1kg packs from about €4 in health food shops. Although it might seem like a ‘strange’ ingredient, it is one that you can use as the main focus of a meal; as a side dish (like rice or couscous); or even as breakfast porridge. 

Before you cook quinoa, you must rinse it thoroughly to remove the bitter saponin that covers each seed.
To cook quinoa, add it to the saucepan, then cover with twice its volume in water, bring to the boil, then simmer until all the water is absorbed. Leave the lid on the pan to steam it, which will leave the finished product fluffy and light. 

It took me a few tries to perfect my quinoa – at first, it was too watery and mushy, and I didn’t rinse it, leaving it tasting bitter. These days my favourite way to serve it is as a brightly-coloured curried dish, by adding one teaspoon each of coriander, turmeric and cumin to the pot as it is cooking. I also cook it like porridge, with chopped apple and one teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg for a filling breakfast.
This week I’ve included my favourite quinoa recipe, by Naomi Rose from the wonderful Gluttonous Vegan blog (www.thegluttonousvegan.com). You could serve this as a main course with vegetarian sausages, or as a side dish to be scooped up with pitta bread. This is a gluten-free meal, and without the cashews is suitable for nut-allergy sufferers. As with all the recipes I feature, you’re encouraged to play around with ingredients and discover what suits you. Don’t let the unusual name put you off – you’ll not see nothing like the mighty quinoa. 


 Naomi Rose’s Curried Quinoa with Coriander and Cashews

Serves 2

20 minutes

1 cup quinoa (rinsed)
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 red onion
1 inch of finely chopped fresh ginger
A pinch of chilli flakes
1 heaped tsp each of turmeric and ground coriander
1 3/4 cups water
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 bunch of fresh coriander
A couple of handfuls of cashews

  1. Rinse quinoa well, then put to one side. Chop the onion and put it in a pan with the oil over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the ginger and spices for another minute or so. Stir and add the quinoa.
  2. After a few minutes, add the water and half of the fresh coriander. Bring to the boil, then put the lid on the pan and leave to simmer until all the water's been absorbed.
  1. Add the peas (you might need to pour in a tiny bit more water) and leave until the peas are cooked around 3 5 minutes. Just before serving add the rest of the coriander and the cashews.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Eats and treats this week

A cool painting I spotted in Temple Bar, Dublin

Hello everyone! Hope you're looking forward to the weekend? I can't wait - C's band are playing a gig tonight, and then I'm going home to Cork for the weekend and doing a DJ set along with some friends on Sunday night. Fun!

I took a few pictures of some eats and treats I had this week that I thought you might be interested in. All are veggie of course and most are vegan - they're all available here in Ireland, but I'm not sure if they're available in other countries. Let me know if you eat or drink them yourself.

First up is a sandwich I got for lunch the other day in work - it's from Quigleys Bakery, a café in the town I work in. I was delighted when this place opened as they do lots of options for sandwiches and will make them for you on the spot. I usually get a wrap or a brown bap (like this one) with pesto, roast vegetables, peppers, spinach and sundried tomatoes. Yum! The salad is usually nice but the one that day tasted odd. It's pretty hard to get nice veggie food in cafés sometimes but I really love the ones with lots of different options.


I have a problem. A chocolate problem. I don't think I ever go through a day without some chocolate - it's really bad but I figure I don't smoke, I don't drink a lot - so I don't have many vices other than this, heh! This bar is by Butlers and it's a vegan dark chocolate bar with almond and orange. It's not cheap - it's about €2.99 - but a little goes a long way. You can buy them online here. I sometimes melt these bars and add them to icing sugar and dairy-free sunflower spread to make icing and it is UNBELIEVABLE. Seriously, it is to die for. I was cleaning out the cupboards in the kitchen recently and found two half-eaten bars of this in the back of one of them....along with two other big bars of dark chocolate....like I said, addicted!



I love this tea, so so much. I'm a huge tea and herbal tea drinker - I don't really drink 'normal' tea as I don't like drinking milk and I don't drink coffee, so it's usually green or white tea I go for, or all manner of herbal teas. This green tea tastes really fruity but not very sweet and it's a lovely pick-me-up during the afternoon or in the morning. It says it's full of antioxidants - I'm not sure how true that is, but green tea certainly ain't bad for you. I spotted this in Holland & Barrett for half price recently so now's a good time to try it. I'll do a bigger post on my favourite teas soon - I have a LOT, of all different prices and varieties.


Just because you're vegetarian, it doesn't mean you don't like junk food - but if you no longer eat gelatin, one thing that's off the menu is traditional jellies. Haribo is a hugely popular range of European jellies and I used to eat them a lot when I was in school - usually when I'd meet up with friends one of us would bring a pack of their Gold Bears with us. Knowing what I know now about what gelatin is made from, I shudder to think of what I was ingesting at the time...! I have tried some veggie and vegan jellies but have found that the majority of them don't quite have that 'jelly' consistency. I'd heard that Haribo do some vegetarian jellies and finally I got the chance to try them this week as the health shop chain Holland & Barrett now carry these 'Funny-Mix' (!?) sweets and also jelly beans. These aren't vegan - they contain beeswax. And, as I discovered, lots and lots of sugar - under four different names.

I've noticed that the less junk I eat (and though I used to eat a lot of junk when I was in Uni, as the years go on this has thankfully decreased, but most notably this past 12 months - so I wouldn't be eating these jellies regularly!) the more sensitive I am to it. These jellies tasted delicious and had a nice 'bite' to them, but gave me a headache and serious sugar cravings after.

It was way too easy for me to eat most of the bag in one go, so I think it will be a looooong time before I'd get them again. But I'm trying to cut down the sugar I'm eating (er, with the exception of the dark chocolate, ahem) so these are too sugary to have around the house on a regular basis! If you're looking for a vegetarian replacement for Haribo though, these really do the job well. Just be aware they're full of sugar.



So there you go - some of the eats and treats I sampled this week. Did you have anything nice to eat that you'd recommend? I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Ultimate Veggie Burger


For the second Adventures in Food column, I wrote about the Ultimate Veggie Burger, from 'What to Eat When You Can't Eat Anything', by Chupi and Luke Sweetman.

If you're from outside Ireland, or didn't pick up the Independent this weekend - fear not! The article is (sort of) online now. I say sort of because they left out the main body of the text, but the recipe is there!

Click here for the recipe.

Here's the full text and some pics I took for your persual. Have any feedback? Let me know! If you try this burger, I'd love to find out how it went!



 The Ultimate Veggie Burger

By Aoife Barry

There’s something about having burgers and chips for dinner that makes me feel like I’m having a ‘food holiday’. It reminds me of being a child and those Saturday nights when we’d have chips fresh from the deep-fat fryer with dinner as a treat; or the summer evenings where any hint of sun called for a barbecue.
These days, when I feel like a burger it’s not the beef variety I reach for – it’s a veggie burger instead. So this week, I decided to try a recipe from ‘What To Eat When You Can’t Eat Anything’, (Gill & MacMillan) a wonderful cookbook by sister and brother Chupi and Luke Sweetman.
Although it bills itself as “the complete allergy cookbook”, it’s not just aimed at those with allergies – and as some of the recipes feature eggs, dairy or meat it’s not a vegetarian or vegan book either. That said, almost all of the recipes are adaptable thanks to their simple ingredient list, and I love the emphasis on organic ingredients, wholegrain flours and lots of vegetables. 

This burger was easy to make but took a little while to prepare, although I made up for it by having one for dinner for two nights in a row. They did get slightly drier on the second night but nothing a bit of sweet chilli sauce couldn’t fix. These are more like falafel burgers thanks to the protein-rich chickpeas, gram flour (ground chickpeas) and spices – don’t be afraid to mix the spices to your taste. These were delicious with homemade oven chips and a salad – and no deep-fat fryer required!


The Ultimate Veggie Burger

Feeds 4

1 tsp each ground cumin and coriander
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup/110g gram flour
1 tin cooked chickpeas, drained, and rinsed
4 scallions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whizz the chickpeas in a blender until they are a lumpy consistency. Then add the rest of the ingredients and combine with a spoon.

I found that the mixture didn’t come together well enough, and whizzed it in the blender for about 10 seconds, which made it far less dry and more malleable. If it is too sticky, add a little gram flour, if it is too dry, add water by the teaspoon.

Season the burgers with a little pepper and salt or more cumin and coriander – being a spice hound I always add double the advised amount in the recipe! I found that these burgers could easily take more spices.

Dust your hands with flour, and make the mixture into four balls. Flatten each into a 1cm deep burger. The recipe recommends warming half a tablespoon of oil in a pan, but I found a teaspoon sufficient in a non-stick pan. Add the four burgers to the pan and cook on a medium heat for 4 – 5 minutes each side. I needed a little more than this for my burgers.

Serve these with homemade oven chips and a salad.

Cats and Cakes


Attention all Dublin folk - there will be a bring and buy vegan bakesale in the city centre on Saturday 24th April. It will take place in Cultivate, a really nice shop on 17 Andrew Street, Dublin 2 (near Siam Thai).

This what the organisers have to say:
There will be a vegan bake sale in Cultivate on Saturday 24th April from 1pm-4pm, as part of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale (www.veganbakesale.org). It will be a delicious opportunity to sample a variety of mouth-watering baked goods, from chocolate chip cookies to sponge cakes, all lovingly created without any animal products! All proceeds will go to Cats Aid, a Dublin-based charity entirely made up of volunteers, which seeks to rescue, rehabilitate and find good homes for unwanted cats (www.catsaid.org). The bake sale is being organised by four friends from the Vegetarian Society of Ireland! We would love if people would bake something vegan for this event. If you would be interested please email grace@vegetarian.ie. Thank you.

How great is that! I think I'm in Dublin that weekend so I would love to bake some vegan cakes - maybe the ones I baked in the pic above!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

One Wedding and a Spring Roll


Why hello there, aren't you looking well? How's your Tuesday going - wonderfully, I hope? I'm not actually naked in the photo above - I promise I'm not one of those embarrassing guests at weddings! The above pic is of myself and Cormac at a wedding this weekend. My bandeau dress made for some very interesting photographs, heh!

It's hard to believe that the weekend is well and truly gone, and we're already almost half-way (er, am I a glass-half-empty kinda gal? It appears so...) through the week. At the weekend, I went to a wedding in Carrickmacross and I tweeted beforehand that I'd let you know what the food was like. The couple getting married are friends of C's and a really lovely couple they are too. (Hello, Ronan and Aisling!) They asked on the RSVP card if guests were vegetarian (etc) and I of course ticked the box. I have a dodgy relationship with wedding food - even back when I was an omnivore, I was never a big red meat eater (it makes me feel so sick!) and didn't like seafood either.

But at weddings, the main course option is invariably red meat or fish. So I'd end up reluctantly picking at the beef. Since I've gone veg, I've found the main courses tend to be along the theme of mediterranean vegetables + tomato sauce + cheese + a roast potato + random vegetables. Irish hotels are obsessed with giving you a roast potato with every meal! I love roast potatoes but the ones at hotels are usually horrible. Le sigh.

Anyway, at this particular meal it turns out the main course was - a spring roll! Filled with caramelised onions and rice noodles, and nestled on a bed of green leaves, it was a great alternative to the usual veggie wedding fare. Thanks Ronan and Aisling! Of course I got the usual random vegetables on the side - but no roast potato (!). This was a good thing though, as the roast potatoes were brought out...on a plate of beef. I kid you not.

Here's a crappy phone pic of the spring roll (with a massive cauliflower on the side):




The starter at the meal was either duck's leg or melon. The duck legs were served with bone, skin and all, not for the fainthearted vegetarian.....Veggies were given the option of melon, but I'm not a melon fan personally, so I just drank (more) wine.

Dessert was a meringue and raspberries and strawberries - C had my meringue and I ate the fruit. I can't wait until strawberries and raspberries are in season properly! Yum.

After the meal, we partied till the wee hours before retiring to our B&B, and the next day we made our way back to Dublin. There was such beautiful weather at the weekend! It was glorious. On Sunday we went to town for brunch and I had a panini in Lemon Jelly in Temple Bar:















It had sweet tomatoes, lettuce and pesto in it and was simple yet tasty, although quite expensive for what it was. I was stuffed after all that bread though. I also had a cup of Suki peppermint tea, which came in one of those beautiful Suki teapots, which I covet in a very big way:


Then later on Sunday night, I went to my friend Fiona's house - where I was introduced to some of the most delicious Irish-made chocolate that I have tasted in a long, long time (thanks Fiona!)....expect more on that soon!

What did you all do this weekend? Any nice eats and treats? Have anything planned for the rest of the week?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Chana Maybe-Masala

I'm calling this dish 'Chana Maybe-Masala' as it's not really an authentic 'masala' - but it does feature chana (chickpeas) and lots of Indian spices, so I'm not being totally untruthful, I swear!

In my last blog post, I extolled the virtues of a well-stocked herbs and spices cabinet - now here's how you can put them in action. This is the kind of meal that you can make when you don't want to spend ages at the cooker, and when you'd rather do nothing more strenuous than open a few tins. You can, of course, not use the tinned variety of the two main ingredients here, but this particular night I happened to have tins to hand, so tins I used.

Ingredients:


1 tin tomatoes (chopped/plum - whatever you have! Blend them if you don't want them chunky.)
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1 red onion or 1 white onion
1 clove garlic
1.5 teaspoon/glug olive oil
dried coriander
dried cumin
dried turmeric......
Optional: dried mustard seeds; fenugreek; mixed masala/vindaloo/balti spices - whatever you have on hand!


Show me the masala!

So, first things first - chop that onion! Chunky, diced - it doesn't matter, just do it to your taste.

Drop the olive oil into the pan, heat and add your onions and crushed garlic (we used garlic powder as we had run out of garlic!) and cook over a medium to high heat until they start going translucent.

Then add your spices. What spices, I hear you ask? Well, tonight we added at least one teaspoon each of coriander; cumin; garlic powder; half a teaspoon of vindaloo powder and a little pepper.

Go with whatever spices you have - keep in mind that coriander is sweet and mild, whereas cumin is spicy, for example. If you have a ready mixed spice, like vindaloo or balti, then you're also good to go - but don't fret about mixing it with other spices. Don't worry for now about being too authentic - experiment and see what tastes you like the best. Google each spice and see its benefits if you want - or go wild and throw caution to the wind.

Add these spices to your onions, mix and cook for another few minutes. Then add your tomatoes, and cook for around five or so minutes. Taste these and see if you need to add more spices - don't be afraid!

Next, add your chickpeas.


All that's left for you to do now is cook your chickpeas for another 10 or so minutes (or slightly more if you'd like) at a medium to low heat, allowing the flavours to infuse. I used tinned chickpeas, which were already cooked.

Then: voila,  your Chana Maybe-Masala is ready to go! We served it with spicy rice.
 - white or brown rice
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
added to the rice while cooking. Yum!


Serve with (wholewheat) roti and a spoon of mango chutney.....heaven!

What's your favourite thing to do with chickpeas? They're such a versatile pulse!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spice it up!


When you begin to cook vegetarian or vegan food, one thing becomes very obvious - if you're going to get anywhere, you're going to have to invest in a lot of herbs and spices, both of the dried and fresh variety. I bet if you open any veggie's cupboards at home you'll find at least four or five dried herbs or spices - I did a spring clean of our spice cupboard at home yesterday and found 31 jars/bags in there!

On an everyday basis, my must-haves are dried cumin and coriander. For fresh herbs, I always gravitate towards basil, coriander (cilantro) and parsley. Yesterday, C and I went to a local store that sells foods from Asia, India and also Eastern Europe. We picked up so many bags of spices, cans of coconut milk, bags of lentils, hot sauces...for €20. It was an absolute steal and will keep us going for months.

I reckon that investing in a small cheap jar of ground dried herbs is like the gateway to some serious herb usage. Before long, the ground version won't be good enough - you'll want the whole spices, so you can toast them and grind them yourself. Then you'll decide that organic spices are the only things good enough for your meals. And finally, you'll start growing the herbs yourself, and buying spices by the bagful. It's a slippery slope....

But thankfully, it's a tasty slope too! (There's some sort of mixed metaphor in there that doesn't work, but bear with me...) Spices and herbs are key to creating tasty meals - and in a flash. My next post will be for an easily-thrown-together meal that's tasty, contains veg and protein, can be made with tinned ingredients and tastes great next day as leftovers.

But first: what are your favourite herbs and spices? 

I asked some followers on Twitter what theirs are, and here are their answers - thanks to all of you for replying! Just click on their name to go straight to their Twitter pages.

@DarraghMc "roasted, ground cumin is the ultimate foil for sweet veggie soups. And thyme is pure woody autumn"

@VoraciousVegan "cilantro, cumin, kalonji black onion seed, celery salt, curry, basil, sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, ginger, and cinnamon!" www.thevoraciousvegan.com is one of my favourite blogs!

@Hello_Lindsey "basil and cayenne pepper are my fav herb and spice"

@aislingodwyer "Always fresh coriander. Last few months big for chili, fennel and star anise, but time to whip out the paprika now- summer!"

@eleventyfour "Tarragon = yum (and is also an anagram of arrogant!)"

@fionarhw Nutmeg: so lovely w/ sweet and savoury. The obvious is its affinity w/ milk puds, but it's great on root veg too.

@loreana "Cayenne Pepper and Rosemary!"

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tempting Tempeh


Liberty Grill's San Fran Salad: sweet chilli marinated tempeh with salad - usually this comes with couscous, but I asked for potatoes and they kindly changed the dish for me.

Have you ever eaten tempeh? The first time I tried it, I was absolutely repulsed. Yep, I thought it was the most disgusting thing I'd ever eaten. I'd read about it and heard from my friend Paula that she and her boyfriend Adam had eaten it a lot while they lived in Canada, so when I spotted a tempeh burger on the menu at Cork restaurant Liberty Grill, I was very curious. On my birthday in 2008, I decided to order it while out for dinner with my mum - and instantly regretted it. An omnivore at the time, I was trying to include more vegetarian meals in my life and so usually went for the falafel burger at the Liberty Grill. As I tried in vain to eat more than a few bites of the oddly-textured tempeh, I longed for the crispy falafel and cursed my inquisitiveness.

The next time I encountered tempeh was more than a year later, when I decided to buy a package and cook some at home. As our freezer doesn't work, I left it in the fridge to defrost. And forgot about it. For more than a month. Whoops.

Fast forward a few months, and I decided to try tempeh again. And guess what? I absolutely loved it. I grew to adore the nutty taste and the unusual texture - and I adore the sweet chilli marinade that the Liberty Grill use on their tempeh dishes. It's sweet, tangy and moreish. Kudos to the Liberty Grill for having vegetarian and vegan options on their menu! Now, if they had vegan desserts, that would be amazing...and I know one person in Cork who could definitely help them out with that...!



So now only one thing remains: to cook tempeh myself, and perhaps even try to replicate the San Fran Salad that I usually order at the Liberty Grill.

If any of you have any tips for preparing tempeh; if you have any favourite recipes that include it; or if you'd like to share your tempeh stories, please comment below. 

If you're wondering what the hell this bizarrely-named foodstuff is - it's fermented soy beans. Click here for some more info.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Column lowdown

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend! I'm taking it easy today after a great night out with friends...I'm a sight for sore eyes this morning, it has to be said. I had some Matcha tea with lemon to wake me up, followed by some hummus and gluten-free crackers (made by Tru-Free),  orange juice and Kettle Chips. It's one of those days where I know I'll be grazing for the entire day. I'm about to start working on my next column, and have been blown away with the great reaction to the first one! Thank you all so much. For those who weren't able to buy the paper, the pic of the column is above. Here's the text:





"By Aoife Barry

FOOD, glorious food. It is the centre of our day, the reason why many of us get up in the morning and the cause of family bonding and arguments. When we are young, our meals are dished up by our parents; but as soon as we fly the coop we must provide food for ourselves, leaving us with a choice: to learn to cook, or to put the local takeaway’s number on speed dial.

Since before I could even talk, I was expressing my food likes and dislikes. On my ‘dislikes’ list sat eggs, rice, pizza, cheese, beans and all manner of fruits and vegetables. On my ‘likes’ list? Raw carrots, toast, chips (anything deep fried, really), chocolate and sweets.  As the years went on, my tastes expanded, but I remained a picky eater.
Then I moved out of home, and began to cook for myself – chicken with this, chicken with that; pasta, rice, and the occasional serving of vegetables. 

But it wasn’t until I moved in with my omnivorous boyfriend in 2008 that I really decided to take things seriously in the kitchen. I read, I researched, and I transitioned, slowly, to a vegetarian diet.  My kitchen cupboards are now filled with all manner of spices and herbs, beans, nuts, lentils, quinoa and flours and I have a neat collection of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks.
Like many people, I am on an adventure with food – I’m learning, sometimes ruining meals and other times creating tasty food out of simple ingredients. And in doing so, I’m cooking food that caters for both myself and meat-eaters, because I believe that vegetarian food is, on the contrary to what many might assume, wonderfully inclusive. 

With this column, I’ll take you with me on my adventures in cooking. Together we will try new foods, attempt new recipes, and learn more about vegetarian food. Whether you’re a long term veggie or a ‘newbie’ like me, or you just want to eat more meat-free meals, you’re very welcome on board.
For this first column, I’ve chosen a recipe that I hope sums up what Adventures in Cooking is about –healthy, tasty, and quick vegetarian food that will suit all of the family. Pull up a chair, and tuck in.


Sesame Nut Noodles with Greens

Ingredients (serves 2)
30 minutes

Rice noodles
One head of broccoli, chopped into chunks
One head of pak choi, shredded
One head of Chinese white cabbage, finely sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1.5 tbsp nut (almond or peanut) butter
4 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 - 2 tbsp water
2 tsp sesame seeds

Method

In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, nut butter, two teaspoons toasted sesame oil and a tablespoon (or more) of water to form a sauce. Leave to one side.
Prepare rice noodles according to packet instructions and leave to one side.
In a saucepan, bring water to the boil and add broccoli (boil or steam). Cooking time is about five minutes.
While broccoli is cooking, heat 1-2 tsps of sesame oil over a medium heat in pan. Add crushed garlic clove and onion. Sauté until the onions are turning translucent.
After about 5 minutes, when your broccoli has a bit of bite but is not over cooked, add to the onions, along with the pak choi and cabbage.
Cook for 2 – 3 minutes.
Add some of the nut butter sauce, stirring until all vegetables are coated.
Reduce heat, add noodles to the vegetables and stir until coated.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds - you can toast these for more flavour, if you have time.
Serve immediately."


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Today's the day...

Well, the day has finally come - the first Adventures in Food column has hit the shelves! It's featured in today's Weekend magazine with the Irish Independent. It features an updated version of this recipe for Sesame Nut Noodles with Greens, and an introduction to what people can expect from the column.
Here's a sneak preview:


If you're a first-time visitor to the blog and read about it in the Independent, then you're very welcome! I have lots of plans in store for the column but what would be brilliant is feedback - I want to write about things that interest the readers so if you have any suggestions or comments, please email adventuresinveg@gmail.com.

I don't think the column is on the newspaper's website yet, but here is something I did find that will be of great interest to many of you: 'Why I became vegetarian...despite craving a nice steak', by Steven O'Rourke. For me, it feels like vegetarianism - and veganism - is becoming almost 'mainstream' these days, with more and more articles about why people are deciding to 'go veg'. This is such a great thing. As a new vegetarian I get great inspiration from long-term vegetarians but it's so great to read about people who are also new to the vegetarian world. We all have so many different reasons but the core two are always our health and compassion for animals.

I can't think of a better decision I've made in my life than to 'go veg' and I can't thank enough the friends of mine whose vegetarianism gently inspired me to read up on the subject. Simply seeing their compassionate lifestyles in action was enough to reassure me that there was more to this vegetarianism lark than lentils and mung beans (although, as it turned out, I became a fan of both!). A big inspiration for me were my friends Vicky and Dave, who went vegan a few years ago and are raising a happy, healthy vegan daughter. They were the first vegans I knew and it's thanks to them I started researching what veganism was. Then there's Nathalie, my kick-ass veggie friend, Paula who cooks awesome vegan cupcakes, Maria who is a 16-year veggie and a talented designer; not to forget the many other inspiring, awesome vegetarians and vegans I've met in 'real life' and online since I took the plunge.

I'm off for a celebratory lunch in the Liberty Grill in Cork - there's some sweet chilli marinated tempeh that has my name on it! - and I hope that if you're in Ireland, you get a chance to read the column.

Thank you!

Aoife

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter / Chocolate Weekend

 
Image borrowed from here

I'd like to wish you all a Happy Easter - or a happy chocolate weekend, depending on your beliefs! As a lapsed Catholic I haven't celebrated Easter 'properly' in many years but I hope that those of you who are celebrating it have a lovely weekend. And those who don't celebrate Easter, I hope you have a great weekend too and take advantage of the tasty Easter eggs on offer if you live in a country where it is celebrated...

Here in Ireland, many businesses are closed on Good Friday (today) although I'm used to working on that day myself. Traditionally, in keeping with Catholic traditions off-licences and pubs are closed, leading to huge queues in them the night before when people try to stock up on alcohol! This year however, for the first time the Government has allowed some pubs to open in Limerick today and serve alcohol - because there is an important rugby match on and people want to watch it in the pub...! (That says a lot about our country and the role religion plays in it these days.) Around the rest of the Republic, pubs are allowed to open but not serve alcohol. You can read more about this at the links above.

To brighten up our work day today, I brought in some vegan chocolate cupcakes. I used a recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (Search Amazon.com for vegan cupcakes take over the world)* by the amazing Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero and added Alpro soy vanilla dessert instead of oil (having been inspired by the fabulous Tasha aka Voracious Vegan), and used fine plain wholewheat flour. They turned out pretty good, a little dense but tasty and low fat.

Here's the original recipe, featured on the CHOW website: http://www.chow.com/recipes/10794

I also tried to adapt this frosting and make it vegan, but it definitely needs work - I ended up having to add 1/3 cup cocoa powder and it still wasn't quite 'right'. I used Alpro organic UHT soya milk and Pure soy-free sunflower margarine as the milk and butter. Here they are on the train on the way into work! I *may* have eaten one for breakfast. Guilty, m'lud.



What are you up to this weekend? Do you celebrate Easter, and if so, what do you do? 

I'm going home to Cork to see friends and family - I can't wait to have three days there to spend time with everyone and have some great nights out!


Vegan Cupcakes Take Over World:

*I've recently signed up to the Amazon Affiliates programme, so if you buy this book through this link I'll earn a very small percentage. Obviously this is only if you a) want to buy it and b) don't mind me earning a few cent from it. It's totally up to you and please feel free not to buy through this link. It seems to only link to Amazon.com rather than Amazon.co.uk, so it might not be of use to everyone. Either way, I'll always let you know if it is an affiliated link and I will only link to books I own and use regularly.