Food: Top 5 Vegan Easter eggs

With Veganism & people following a plant based diet growing, the selection of Easter treats has also grown to accomodate. Last year, results from a survey came out saying that the number of vegans in Britain had grown 360% in 10 years! Here are my picks for the top 5 Easter eggs this year:

For a great milk choc alternative:

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Tesco Finest Free From Caramel Egg With Truffles, £4

This caramel flavoured milk choc egg, made with rice flour is great gift to give someone (or yourself ;)) this Easter. The beautiful box contains 3 fondant truffles, as well!

Available from most Tesco’s or online

All the small things:

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The Little Vegan Bakery Vegan Creme Egg, £1.89

Easter is synonymous with Creme Eggs, and just because you’re vegan, doesnt mean you have to miss out! These little morsels of ooey-gooey goodness are great to snack on whilst the Easter lunch is in the oven. Remember to stock up though, as they are very popular!

Available at Brontosaurus Vegan, Swansea Market or contact TLVB at their Facebook page here.

For the Gourmet:

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Hotel Chocolat Hard-Boiled Easter Egg – Ginger 70%, £15

This deep, dark chocolate made with Indian ginger oil and studded with hazelnuts is a decadent tour de force. The chocolate is very rich, meaning you wont need a lot of it to get that chocolate fix, and at £15, makes the purchase more economical. It even has little crystallised ginger & hazelnut ‘crunches’ for you to nibble on.

Available at your nearest Hotel Chocolat, or online.

For the Kids:

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(photo taken from here)

Sainsbury’s Freefrom White Choc Egg, 

A great white chocolate alternative, this is sure to make your kids beam with delight! Comes with buttons for a double-whammy of vegan white chocolate treats. Creamy and sweet, it’s hard to tell the difference between this and Milkybar!

Available at local Sainsbury’s, or online.

For something Different:

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Booja-Booja truffle eggs,various flavours, from £9.95

For something a little different to the usual Easter egg, why not splash out and get yourself a Booja-Booja Easter egg, filled with their award-winning truffles, tissue wrapped and encased in a special shell. The shell, alone is worth buying, handmade & painted by artists in Kashmir. Each one unique, the egg shell can be kept for years and re-purposed into a momento box etc.

Available from Brontosaurus Vegan, Swansea Market & So Cocoa, Mumbles

Have an egg-cellent Easter everyone!

Food: Peking jackfruit pancakes

This is a recipe to make a vegan version of my favourite takeaway dish: Peking duck pancakes. Its super easy to knock up and cheaper than going to the local Chinese 😉

To make the pancakes I used this recipe from the Queen of cookery herself, Nigella. It’s a great recipe and yields loads!

 

To make, you’ll need:

For the Peking Jackfruit:

  • 2 heaped tbs plum jam (I used my Nana’s homemade!)
  • 1 tbs golden syrup (agave/corn syrup also good)
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger (grated)
  • 1 tsp five spice
  • 1 tsp chilli paste
  • Glug of garlic infused oil
  • Glug of sesame oil
  • Dash of liquid smoke
  • 2 tbs Shaoxing  rice wine
  • 2 tbs Chinese black vinegar
  • 3 tbs dark soy sauce
  • 1 star anise
  • Splash of water
  • 1 tin green Jackfruit, drained
  • 1 tbs sour plum juice

Also:

  • 
3 spring onions, chopped
  • ⅓ of a cucumber, chopped
  • 4tbs hoisin sauce

To prepare the marinade:

Melt the plum jam in a saucepan with the golden syrup until it begins to caramelise. Agave or corn syrup are good alternatives. Reduce the heat and add the grated ginger, the five spice and the chilli paste and stir together. Add the oils to loosen the mixture and a dash of liquid smoke, the Shaoxing, black vinegar, soy sauce and a splash of water. The mixture should be heady, thick and aromatic. At this point you can add the star anise and let it simmer for ten minutes while you prepare the Jackfruit.

Begin by draining the water then cut the flesh away from the tough core. Cut the pieces into small chunks, stir into the mix when it’s ready and allow to cool. Let the Jackfruit marinade in the mixture for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

When it’s ready to cook, place them in a Dutch oven like a Le Creuset and bake in the oven with the lid off for about an hour at 140°c (fan) until dark and sticky.

The pancakes can be a bit fiddly but Nigella’s recipe is easy to follow and produces great results. They can take a bit of time to make so I’d recommend making them while the Jackfruit is cooking. After you’ve made them it’s important to steam the pancakes to give them that light and slightly translucent quality that the real ones have.

For the vegetables simply cut spring onions and cucumber into strips. Prepare a few ramekins for the Hoisin dipping sauce. Serve the whole thing on a platter and begin building!

 

I served the dish with an equally exotic cocktail, the Empress Wu with the flavours of plum, star anise, ginger and citrus – it perfectly compliments the Jackfruit dish.

For the Empress Wu cocktail you will need:

  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 4 shots of sour plum juice
  • Splash of ginger ale
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 shot orange liqueur
  • 2 shots Shaoxing rice wine
  • 200ml orange juice

Method:
In the first jug add grated ginger to 4 shots of sour plum juice (from a jar of plums – for a recipe on how to use said plums, check out my recipe for vegan apple,plum and ginger crumble). Combine with a splash of ginger ale, the juice of half a lemon and one star anise. Allow them to infuse for five minutes.

Strain the mixture into your serving jug (I used my Iittala Kartio jug – its simple, geometric form and its pop of green suited freshness of this cocktail). Add the orange liqueur and the Shaoxing. Top up the whole thing with orange juice and stir.

 

Enjoy!  享受!

Food: Apple, Plum & ginger crumble

Here’s a recipe for a hearty and warming crumble with a speculoos/speculaas topping.

Makes 6 portions.

To make, you’ll need:

For the filling:

  • 8 medium apples,
  • 1 jar of sour plums,
  • Half the liquid from the plum jar,
  • 1 star anise,
  • Thumb size piece of ginger (grated),
  • 125ml of apple cider,
  • 20g of crystallised ginger,
  • 1 knob vegan butter,
  • 80g of brown sugar
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon,
  • 1 tbs of golden syrup (agave/ corn syrup will work as well),

For the topping:

  • 120g of plain flour,
  • 60g of brown sugar,
  • 60g of vegan butter,
  • 60g speculoos biscuits,

 

To make the filling:

Peel, core and slice the apples then set aside. Begin by melting the butter in a pan, add the sugar and allow them to caramelise. Add the apples and stir them around until they’re coated. Then add the plums along with the juice, the apple cider, the star anise and allow to simmer on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes with the lid off.

When the mixture has reduced add the grated fresh ginger, the crystallised ginger, the zest and juice of half a lemon and the golden syrup. Stir until combined and the golden syrup has loosened and melted. Spoon into a medium sized baking tin until you’re ready with the topping.

To make the topping:

Measure out and combine the flour, sugar and butter in a bowl and breadcrumb by rubbing between your fingers. Smash the biscuits in a pestle and mortar (or in a plastic bag and bashed with a rolling pin) until they’re a mixture of crumb and rubble sized pieces. Combine the two and sprinkle over the mixture.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for forty minutes until the topping is rich and golden. Once out of the oven, leave it cool slightly and serve with some soy custard 😉

Enjoy!