Fluffy Vegan Pancakes

Light, fluffy pancakes and they’re vegan friendly too, what’s not to love? Pancakes aren’t something that I actually eat all that often for breakfast but I had a bit of a craving for them on Sunday morning, plus I wanted to test out my new stainless steel frying pan that I’d just gotten (I’m giving up non-stick cookware) and so pancakes for breakfast it was.

This recipe is super simple and can be made from basic storecupboard ingredients; no fancy substitutes required. The batter will make about 8 saucer sized pancakes. If you don’t need that many, just half the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain flour (or whatever kind of flour you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup milk (my preference is soy or almond)
  • 4 tbsp oil (I use rapeseed/canola or coconut usually)

Method:

  • In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.
  • Add the wet ingredients and mix well until you have a smooth batter. Be careful not to overmix.
  • Put the pan onto a medium heat and add a drop of oil when the pan gets hot.
  • Pour batter into pan (how much will depend on the desired size of pancake)
  • Do not flip your pancake until bubbles have started to appear on the surface, once this has started to happen, flip and cook on the other side until it has started to brown.
  • Serve.

As my pan isn’t huge and I can only get one or two pancakes in the pan at the same time, I like to keep the oven on a low heat and put the cooked pancakes in to keep warm until I’m ready to dish them up.
I like to serve my pancakes with a drizzle of syrup and a berry sauce.

For the berry sauce:

  • 1 cup or so of berries (frozen is fine and is what I usually use)
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tbsp water

How to:

Add all of the above to a saucepan and cook on a low heat until the berries start to break down and the sauce has thickened. This will probably take 5 – 10 minutes. Any that you don’t use will keep well in the fridge for a few days and tastes delicious served with plain yoghurt.

Home-made Granola

Granola is one of my favourite things to eat for breakfast, whether it’s with yoghurt or milk, but finding a decent store bought one that’s not laden with sugar can get quite expensive and so I choose to make my own. Some of the ingredients may seem expensive, but if you can buy in bulk (check out the world food aisle of your local supermarket for good deals on nuts and seeds), it works out much cheaper in the long run.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of rolled oats (not porridge)
  • 1 cup of nuts/ seeds (I use a mix of cashews, flaked almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds)
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
  • 1/4 cup oil (I prefer coconut or rapeseed)
  • 1/4 cup sweetner (either maple or agave)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • pinch salt
  • 4tbsp ground flax seed (optional)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 150°C/ 300°F/ Gas Mark 2
  • Mix all dry ingredients, except ground flax, together in a large bowl
  • In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients together
  • Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well, ensuring that all of the ingredients are evenly coated
  • Place on a lined baking tray and bake for around 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes
  • Once cool, mix in ground flax and store in an air tight container

I like to serve the granola topped with berries, here I have it topped with pomegranate seeds, but it also works brilliantly with raspberries, strawberries or blueberries.

Room Restaurant, Manchester.

A few weekends ago, five of us went along to Room Restaurant in Manchester for a little celebration lunch. A few of us have had birthdays recently and thought it would be nice to get together for a bit of wining and dining. Rather sillily, I didn’t take any photos of the restaurant itself (which is beautiful) or of the group of us together, just of the food that I ate, but that’s the most important part right?

The rest of my friends ate from the set price lunch and dinner menu and absolutely loved what they had, however there was nothing suitable for vegans on that menu and so I ate from the vegan menu.
Room caters well for those with special dietary requirements and has separate menus available for most needs.

To start, I went with the Bloody Mary consommé. It might not look like much, but this packed a punch and was full of flavour whilst being lightly spiced.

Moving onto the mains and for this course I went with the Malayan vegetable curry. The menu stated that this would be served with spiced rice, however mine was actually accompanied with coconut spiced lentils and roasted cauliflower, which were delicious. I’m definitely going to have to try and recreate them at home. The potatoes were delicately spiced and went perfectly with the lentils and cauliflower.

I also may have pinched a couple of the chips that my friends had ordered with their mains and they were really quite yummy. 

Lastly were the desserts. I decided on the sorbet and had a scoop each of raspberry, strawberry and fennel. They were all beautiful but the fennel sorbet was sublime. I almost wish that I’d gotten three scoops of just that; without a doubt it was one of the nicest things that I have ever eaten.

room

Overall, I would highly recommend Room Restaurant. I’ve eaten there twice now and on both occasions, the food has been great. The wine and cocktails that are available aren’t bad either. It can be a little pricey, however for me it’s worth it, especially if it’s for a special occasion.

For many of those with special dietary requirements, going for a meal can feel a little daunting, especially when you have to contact a restaurant in advance just to make sure that they’re able to cater for you, but with Room, all of those anxieties are taken away and that’s just one of the many reasons that I know that I’ll be back.

 

Recipe: Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Now that we’re into Autumn, one of my favourite things to make is soup. There’s nothing better on a drizzly day than snuggling up on the sofa with a big bowl to warm you up. It’s generally quite quick and easy to make, plus it’s really healthy and a great way of getting that extra bit of veg into your diet too. One of my favourite soup ingredients is pumpkin, but if you can’t find any, butternut squash will do just fine.

This soup doesn’t take much time to come together and has a little bit of a kick to it, so if you’re not a chilli fan you might want to reduce the amount. I like to serve this with a nice thick slice of granary bread.

Ingredients

  • 750g pumpkin
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 carrots
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 chillies (deseeded if you don’t like too much heat)
  • 2 litres vegetable stock

Method

  1. Peel and deseed the pumpkin and then roughly chop all of the ingredients into smallish bitesized chunks. This doesn’t need to be too precise as the soup will be blended, but the chunks should be roughly the same size to ensure they cook evenly
  2. In a large pot, add a splash of olive oil, the onion and the garlic. Cook for around 5 minutes or so until the onion has softened
  3. Add the pumpkin and cook for around 10 minutes or so until the pumpkin starts to take on some colour
  4. Add the carrots, the cumin and the chilli and cook for a few minutes
  5. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Once the stock has started to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer
  6. Simmer until the pumpkin and carrots have cooked through and can be pierced with a knife
  7. Blend until smooth and then check for seasoning. Add a pinch of salt and pepper if required
  8. Serve with some crusty bread

Recipe: Granary Loaf

There’s nothing more homely than the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven and it tastes far better than anything shop bought. This bread is a fantastic accompaniment to soup, but also tastes great on it’s own with a nice slathering of butter (my favourite vegan alternative is vitalite). Although the bread takes a while to rise, you don’t need to keep an eye on it, meaning that you can get on with other things whilst waiting.

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g granary flour
  • 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar or honey if you’re not vegan
  • 300ml lukewarm water

Method

  1. Sift the flours into a large bowl, add the yeast and salt and stir to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl or measuring jug, add the water, oil and agave nectar and mix well.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until a soft dough forms.
  4. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for around 5 minutes or so until the dough is no longer sticky.
  5. Add dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a clean, damp tea-towel and leave to rise in a warm place for around an hour.
  6. After an hour, tip the dough back onto the work surface and knead for a few more minutes.
  7. Oil a loaf tin and press the dough into the tin evenly, cover again and leave to rise for another hour or so, until the dough has filled the tin.
  8. Heat the oven to 200°C/ 180°C fan/ 400°F/ Gas 6 and bake the loaf for 30–35 minutes. Remove from the oven and tip the bread out of the tin onto a cooling rack. When cooked, the loaf should sound hollow if tapped on the base.

The loaf is best eaten on the day it’s made, but will keep for a second day if kept in an airtight container.