Carrot Cake Pancakes

Carrot Cake Pancakes (7)

At the weekend I went to one of my favourite places in the UK, and indeed in the world:  York.  Traditionally a trip to York has been synonymous with a trip to Betty’s Tearooms, but now that I’m vegan that is no longer an option.  But the lack of Betty’s in no way dampened my weekend.  Instead I had a tasty burger and divine chocolate and hazelnut cake at Goji, and an evening feast at El Piano that started off with the worst tempura ever (I don’t want to talk about it) and then improved dramatically with some delicious meatballs and falafel.  I was full, but determined to plough on with dessert.

el piano

The woman at the next table was clearly not as optimistic about the dessert as I was.  When the waitress arrived to take her order, she asked anxiously:  “Do you use dairy products in the desserts?”  The waitress assumed this was the usual cautious vegan, and reassured her, “No, everything is completely dairy free.”  However, that was not the answer she wanted:  “In that case, I won’t have anything.”  What?!  Why take that kind of attitude into a vegan restaurant?  I’m finding that there are very few things that can’t be admirably veganised (although my experiments with vegan cheese are not particularly enjoyable, I have to say – I’m only exploring it for pizzas, where it needs to function as the glue that keeps the toppings in place).  Anyway, it was clearly her loss, as this was the dessert I opted for, and it was intensely chocolatey:


I suspect that woman would also turn her nose up at these vegan pancakes.  Good – more for me!  Finally, instructions on how to legitimately eat carrot cake for breakfast.

Carrot Cake Pancakes (8)

Carrot Cake Pancakes

Serves 2 greedy people, from Isa Does It


2 tbsp ground flaxseed

1 cup almond milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/ cup maple syrup (plus more for serving)

2 tbsp canola oil (plus more for frying)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1.25 cups plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp each ground cinnamon and ginger

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup peeled and grated carrot

To serve:  extra maple syrup, handful walnuts and raisins


Carrot Cake Pancakes (1)

1.  In a small bowl whisk together the milk and flaxseed with a fork for one minute.

Carrot Cake Pancakes (2)

2.  Add the vinegar, water, maple syrup, oil and vanilla and beat again.

Carrot Cake Pancakes (3)

3.   Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and spices into a bowl.

Carrot Cake Pancakes (4)

4.  Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the liquids and mix well.  Add the carrot.  Rest the batter for 10 minutes, while you put a frying pan over a medium heat to warm up.

Carrot Cake Pancakes (5)

5.  Lightly coat the pan with oil, carefully tipping out any excess.  Add a half-cup of batter to the centre of the pan and cook for about 3 minutes.

Carrot Cake Pancakes (6)

6.  Carefully flip the pancake and cook for another 3 minutes on the other side.

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7.  Wrap the cooked pancake in tin foil to keep it warm, and repeat the process with the remaining batter.  Serve in stacks with maple syrup, walnuts and raisins.

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Creme Egg Brownies

Creme Egg Brownies (15)

One of the downsides of teaching English as a foreign language is that everyone always thinks I get long holidays for summer, Easter and Christmas.  In the last two weeks I’ve been asked countless times:  “How long are you off over Easter?”  Four days, people, four stupid days, the same as everyone else.  At least the students feel my pain – they keep double-checking with me, just in case the school has changed its policy all of a sudden and they have time for a week of travelling.  Alas, no.

But I suppose a long weekend is better than nothing, and I am very much looking forward to a little break.  And an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast.

Creme Egg Brownies (13)

These brownies are, obviously, pre-vegan.  But they were pretty darn tasty, as long as you’ve got a sweet tooth – even for me, a little went a long way.

Creme Egg Brownies (8)

Creme Egg Brownies


185g unsalted butter

185g dark chocolate

85g plain flour

40g cocoa powder

3 large eggs

275g golden caster sugar

6 Cadbury’s Creme eggs, carefully cut in half


1.  Preheat the oven to 160C and grease a 20 cm square baking tin.

Creme Egg Brownies (1)

2.  Place the butter and dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water until melted – stir together to combine.

Creme Egg Brownies (2)

3.  Break the eggs into a large bowl and tip in the sugar.  With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, and have doubled in volume.

Creme Egg Brownies (3)

4.  Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse, and then gently fold together.

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5.  Sift the cocoa and flour into the bowl and gently fold in.

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6.  Pour into the baking tin and cook for 15 minutes.

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7.  Take out of the oven and gently press the Creme Egg halves into the mix, spacing them apart evenly. Put back in the over for another 5-10 minutes.

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8.  Leave to cool before removing from tin and cutting into squares.

Creme Egg Brownies (17)

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Tempura (10)

It was with great delight that I spotted a vegan tempura starter on the menu of Tampopo, an Asian restaurant in Manchester.  I immediately put it at the top of my restaurant hitlist and spent the whole day looking forward to some deep-fried goodness.  So imagine my dismay when the waitress apologetically informed me that the batter recipe had recently changed and was no longer egg-free.  My devastation was intensified by the fact that my boyfriend ploughed on and ordered some for himself regardless, and it was the biggest plate of tempura I’ve ever seen.

Fortunately my back-up choice of fresh Vietnamese spring rolls was heavenly, but still.  Sometimes only deep-fried vegetables will do.  And now I need no longer rely on other establishments to provide them (my next encounter involved banana tempura in a savoury dish and was perhaps a little too risky a combination for my conservative tastes), as I have this foolproof recipe to fall back on.  What a relief.

Tempura (13)


Serves 4, from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi


For the sauce:

6 cardamom pods, split open and discarded, seeds crushed

grated zest and juice of 4 limes

1 green chilli

50g coriander (leaves and stalks)

1 tbsp caster sugar

4 tbsp sunflower oil

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp water

For the tempura:

80g cornflour, plus extra to coat the vegetables

80g self-raising flour

210ml soda/sparkling water

2 tsp rapeseed oil

1/4 tsp salt

chilli flakes, to taste

700ml sunflower oil, for deep frying

1.2kg of vegetables (I used pre-cooked beetroot chopped into wedges, and carrots and parsnips (peeled and cut into batons))


Tempura (2)

1.  First, prepare the dipping sauce.  Put all the ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth.

Tempura (4)

2.  In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cornflour, soda water, rapeseed oil, salt and chilli flakes to form the batter.  Pour the sunflower oil into a large pan and heat it up for deep frying.

Tempura (3)

3.  Throw the vegetables in the extra cornflour to coat.  Tap off the excess.

Tempura (5)

4.  Dip the vegetables in the batter to coat…

Tempura (6)

5.  …then carefully add them to the pan of hot oil.

Tempura (7)

6.  Heat for 2-3 minutes, flipping them at the midway point to ensure even cooking.

Tempura (9)

7.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set them aside to drain.

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8.  Serve with the dipping sauce.

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Raspberry Blackout Cake

Raspberry Blackout Cake (21)

I woke up this morning feeling achy and decrepit – unsurprising, as yesterday was my 30th birthday.  It was an absolutely marvellous day, rounded off with a slice of birthday cake (or rather, 2 slices of 2 birthday cakes – why make only one?).  And I got three new cookbooks, so there will be a lot more treats in the near future.

Raspberry Blackout Cake (24)

I have a sweet tooth, but even I had to halve the amount of ganache – I’ve left the recipe with enough for a thick layer to sandwich the cakes and to pipe a few rosettes on top.  An extra layer to coat the cake might be overkill, and it’s not often that I say that.  Maybe I am getting wiser and more sensible now that I’m old(er).

Raspberry Blackout Cake

From Vegan with a Vengeance


175g plain flour

50g cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

350ml soy milk

125ml rapeseed oil

275g raspberry jam

2 tsp vanilla extract

250g sugar


90ml soy cream

3 tbsp vegan margarine

150g plain chocolate


Raspberry Blackout Cake (1)

1.  Preheat the oven to 180C and baseline two 20cm tins with greaseproof paper.

Raspberry Blackout Cake (2)

2.  Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb and salt.

Raspberry Blackout Cake (3)

3.  Whisk together the milk, oil, half the jam, vanilla and sugar until the jam has mostly broken down into small bits.

Raspberry Blackout Cake (4)

4.  Combine the dry and wet ingredients and mix until everything is incorporated.

Raspberry Blackout Cake (5)

5.  Divide the batter between the two tins.

Raspberry Blackout Cake (6)

6.  Bake for about 40 minutes until a cocktail stick or knife poked in the centre comes out clean.

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7.  Let the cakes cool in the tins, then carefully turn them out and let them stand on a wire rack until completely cool.

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8.  Make the ganache:  bring the cream to a low boil in a saucepan and add the margarine.  Stir until melted.

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9.  Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until thick and melted.  Leave to set for an hour in the fridge.

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10.  Spread the rest of the raspberry jam over one of the cakes.

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11.  Top it with a layer of chocolate ganache and press the second cake on top.

Raspberry Blackout Cake (18)

12.  Pipe a little extra ganache on top.

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Wild Rice Dumplings with Lemongrass Curry

Wild Rice Dumplings and Lemongrass Curry (20)

The weekend just gone was the last of my twenties – gulp!  A scary thought indeed, but it was celebrated in style with an amazing trip to Brighton.  The weather was bordering on tropical, my spirits were high, my companion was delightful, and the food was phenomenal.  I’ve wanted to go to Terre a Terre since I first heard about it, and it was definitely worth the wait.  For starters, my boyfriend and I split the tapas plate, which was perhaps substantial enough to be a main course.  Nevertheless, I ploughed on for a curry dish featuring some incredible deep-fried cauliflower, and one of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted, churros with salted caramel and chocolate sauce.  All in all it was the best and fanciest meat-free meal I’ve ever had and I am desperate for an excuse to return:


Terre A Tiffin


The next day we breakfasted in the sunshine with vegan pancakes at the amusingly named Wai Kika Moo Kau:

Wai Kika Moo Kau Pancakes

This was followed by the main reason for the trip:  VegFest.  There was an impressive array of stands, but we beelined for the ones handing out free food samples and enjoyed some glorious grub as we mooched around.  We had some delicious Indian food, some tasty tapas and some wonderful cupcakes (including the Jaffa Cake and Ferrero Rocher ones from Ms Cupcake – the woman herself even spoke to me, though I was too scared to ask for a photo.  What to do when you meet your idol?!):

Indian Food

Vegfest Tapas 1

Ms Cupcake treats


We rounded off a fine day of food with an evening at Food For Friends, where we shared another tapas plate (which was tasty, but doomed to fail in comparison with the one from the previous night), followed by a tasty coconut curry and two delicious desserts which we split:  coconut arancini with mango sorbet (based on the classic Thai dessert that I adore) and a sublime rich chocolate torte:

FFF Tapas

Coconut Curry

Coconut Arancini

Chocolate Torte

It was with heavy hearts that we faced our last day by the sea, but we crammed in as much food as possible again with another outdoor breakfast, a sushi feast at Moshimo, and some heavenly vegan cake for our train journey home:

Wai Kika Moo Kau Full English

Faroes Sushi

Katsu Curry

Raspberry Cake and Choc Banana Cake

As we enjoyed the sunny weekend by the sea, it was only natural that we also tucked into some ice cream, and I enjoyed this whopper from Boho Gelato, featuring a scoop of speculoos and another of chocolate raspberry:

Boho Gelato

Brighton Beach


I have returned to Manchester feeling extremely well-fed and happy, and ready for the rest of my birthday week celebrations.  After a weekend of fancy food, I feel obliged to post something a bit fancier than usual:  this recipe is from the fanciest vegan recipe book I own and is a really flavoursome curry.  The wild rice dumplings are an interesting new way of serving rice, and also make delicious burgers.  I think there can be no greater advert for veganism than the photos of my weekend indulgences, and I hope this recipe is also suitably tempting and shows that there is nothing dull or worthy about vegan food.

Wild Rice Dumplings and Lemongrass Curry (22)

Wild Rice Dumplings with Lemongrass Curry

Serves 4, slightly adapted from Vegan Secret Supper


For the dumplings:

100g mixed wild, red and brown rice

50g red lentils

400ml vegetable stock

1 tsp tomato puree

2 tsp tamari

1 tsp almond butter

1 tsp rapeseed oil

1 shallot, chopped

1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander and cinnamon

25g chickpea flour

handful chopped coriander leaves

12 x 1/2 tsp coconut oil

For the curry:

2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks

1 stalk lemongrass

4 shallots, chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp each ground coriander and cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 red chillies, chopped

1 tsp tomato puree

1 tsp tamari

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 can light coconut milk

potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks

100g green beans, trimmed and halved

handful chopped fresh coriander leaves, to garnish


Wild Rice Dumplings and Lemongrass Curry (1)

1.  Put the rice, lentils and stock in a large pan and simmer for about 30 minutes until everything is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed (add more during cooking if needed).

Wild Rice Dumplings and Lemongrass Curry (2)

2.  Stir in the tomato puree, tamari and almond butter.

Wild Rice Dumplings and Lemongrass Curry (3)

3.  Spread the mixture on a baking tray to cool evenly.

Wild Rice Dumplings and Lemongrass Curry (5)

4.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan and fry the shallot, ginger and garlic for a few minutes.  Set them aside to cool too.

Wild Rice Dumplings and Lemongrass Curry (12)

5.  When everything has cooled, preheat the oven to 200C.  In a large bowl mix together the shallot mixture, rice and lentils, spices, chickpea flour and fresh coriander.  Season.

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6.   Take handfuls of the mixture and shape into balls, ideally three per person.  Place them on a baking tray.

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7.  Place a 1/2 tsp of coconut oil on top of each dumpling.

Wild Rice Dumplings and Lemongrass Curry (18)

8.  Bake for about 6-8 minutes, then turn them over and bake for 6 minutes more.

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9.  Get started on the curry paste by parboiling the sweet potatoes until tender.  Drain and mash.

Wild Rice Dumplings and Lemongrass Curry (8)

10.  Put the lemongrass, shallots, garlic, ginger, spices, chillies, tomato puree, tamari, sugar and salt in the blender.  Add half a can of coconut milk and blitz.

Wild Rice Dumplings and Lemongrass Curry (11)

11.  Add the sweet potato mash a third at a time, blending between each addition.  Add a little extra coconut milk if it needs thinning out.  Blend until it’s a smooth paste.

Wild Rice Dumplings and Lemongrass Curry (15)

12.  Parboil the potato chunks.

Wild Rice Dumplings and Lemongrass Curry (17)

13.  Transfer the paste to a large pan.  Add the rest of the coconut oil and the parboiled potatoes and cook gently over low-medium heat for 10 minutes.  Add the green beans for 5 more minutes.

Wild Rice Dumplings and Lemongrass Curry (19)

14.  Serve the curry in dishes with the dumplings on top.  Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

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Apricot & Marzipan Loaf

Apricot And Marzipan Loaf (16)

Mother’s Day is upon us once more, a time for great celebration.  This is a pre-gan cake, eggs and dairy included, so I won’t be making it again myself, but it’s a fancy one for a special occasion.  The marzipan gives it a certain fanciness – marzipan makes me think of simnel cakes at Easter, or Christmas cake.  And Mother’s Day is surely worthy of such a fancy, celebratory cake.

I’m pleased to have a Mother who is not only lovely, generous and supportive, but who also provides me with infinite entertainment.  To wit:  She is a keen rugby fan and delights on telling me how the Six Nations pan out, refusing to be deterred by my ‘I don’t care’ expression and loud, obnoxious yawns.  Occasionally I do manage to rouse myself from my disinterest and attempt to have a conversation about it with her.  In the final game of the Six Nations, an England victory could only be ensured by France winning their last game.  You’d think this meant that when France took an early lead she would have been delighted.  Far from it.  Our conversation during the first half went like this:

Me:  Are France winning then?

Mother:  (sadly)  Yes.

Me:  I thought we wanted them to win?

Mother:  Yes, but it’s a shame for Ireland to lose at this stage.

Me:  …but…you do understand how sport works, don’t you?  There can only be one winner.

Mother:  I know.

Me:  And you want it to be us?

Mother:  Well, I don’t want Ireland to lose.

Fast forward to the end of the match:

Me:  So Ireland won!  Are you pleased?

Mother:  I’m gutted we didn’t win.

Me:  ….

She doesn’t want anyone to lose, even when it means her own team wins.  She cries at Aladdin.  She is a mystery.  But she’s also a good egg!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Apricot & Marzipan Loaf

Makes 1x900g loaf cake, or 2 smaller, from The Great British Bake-Off:  How To Bake


300g self raising flour

pinch of salt

150g butter, softened

100g golden caster sugar

150g sultanas

100g dried apricots, quartered

2 eggs

150ml milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

150g golden marzipan, chopped into 1.5cm cubes

To finish:  2 tbsp apricot jam, 1 tbsp boiling water, handful flaked almonds


Apricot And Marzipan Loaf (1)

1.  Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and base-line a loaf tin (or use disposable ones).  Put the flour and pinch of salt in a large bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Apricot And Marzipan Loaf (2)

2.  Stir in the sugar.

Apricot And Marzipan Loaf (4)

3.  Add the sultanas and chopped apricots, mix well.

Apricot And Marzipan Loaf (5)

4.  In a jug, beat together the eggs, milk and vanilla.

Apricot And Marzipan Loaf (6)

5.  Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and mix until everything is well combined – it makes quite a heavy batter.

Apricot And Marzipan Loaf (8)

6.  If you are making one big cake, put one third of the batter into the prepared loaf tin (you may need to spread it with a spoon/knife to get the mixture into the corners).  Sprinkle on half of the marzipan cubes.

Apricot And Marzipan Loaf (7)

7.  Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining half of marzipan cubes, and finish off with the remaining batter.  Smooth it down as best you can and rap the tin sharply on the counter to get rid of any air pockets.

Apricot And Marzipan Loaf (9)

8.  Bake for 40 minutes for smaller loaves, 60-75 minutes for a full size loaf.  Test with a skewer/toothpick.

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9.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  If you’ve used a metal tin, run a round-bladed knife around the edges of the tin to loosen the cake but leave it in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out to cool.

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10.  When the cake has cooled, make the glaze.  Gently warm through the jam and water.

Apricot And Marzipan Loaf (15)

11.  Brush the sticky glaze over the cake and scatter on the flaked almonds.  Leave to set.

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Snickerdoodles (12)

Last Friday at school I returned to the classroom after break to find one of my Mexican students sitting ready to resume work, with a bottle of tabasco sauce sat on the desk before him.  “What’s this all about?”  I asked him.  “I carry it everywhere,” he replied.  Apparently British food is just a bit too bland for him so he keeps his trusty tabasco on hand.  If he buys a sandwich at Tesco or stops somewhere for a bowl of soup, he can season it himself with his condiment of choice.

Snickerdoodles (13)

He was roundly mocked for this, of course, largely by me.  But thinking about it, I quite like the idea of carrying around a little something to jazz up my food.  Cinnamon is probably one of my all-time favourite flavours and scents, and I’d like to give it a little shake over my hot chocolate or the icing of a slice of cake when I’m on the go.  No extra cinnamon is needed for these cookies, however, they are flavoursome enough and sublimely chewy and delicious.  “Snickerdoodle” is just the American name for cinnamon biscuits, and it’s such fun to say it may be one of the rare occasions when the American word is better than the British.


Makes 14 large, from Ms Cupcake


400g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

4 tbsp ground cinnamon

150g margarine

75g vegetable fat/shortening

170g brown sugar

250g caster sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

3 tsp egg replacement powder

3 tbsp lukewarm water


1.  Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

Snickerdoodles (1)

2.  Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb and half the cinnamon in a bowl.

Snickerdoodles (3)

3.  Cream the marg, shortening, brown sugar, vanilla and 150g of the caster sugar in another large bowl.

Snickerdoodles (2)

4.  Mix the remaining caster sugar with the rest of the cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.

Snickerdoodles (4)

5.  In yet another bowl, whisk together the egg replacer and water until frothy.

Snickerdoodles (5)

6.  Add the frothy mixture and flour to the creamed mixture.  Mix together – you may need to use your hands to bring it together.

Snickerdoodles (6)

7.  Roll the dough into large balls.  Drop them in the cinnamon sugar and roll them about to coat them.

Snickerdoodles (7)

8.  Place them on the prepared tray, leaving plenty of space to spread.

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9.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Bang the tray sharply on the counter when you remove them from the oven – this keeps them nice and flat.

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10.  Let the cookies stand on the tray for a couple of minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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