Wednesday, 18 June 2014

"Tuna" Pasta

I'm in Edinburgh. The good news is that all my exams are over and I've got a good bit of free time to focus on things like blogging. The bad news is that I blog with my partner's camera. Said camera is currently with my partner. Said partner is currently nowhere near Edinburgh.

My sister, who is a secret vlogger (she records, but doesn't upload...?) has ordered a camera. Its designed for vlogging but apparently takes good stills. We shall see. If not you (and she) may have to contend with me borrowing her phone to blog with. Mine certainly isn't up to the job. If only I could waft the smells of food at people over the internet instead! 

Let me assure you in written form that this recipe is up to any job you fancy giving it, preferably one that involves being eaten. 

To be perfectly honest however I'm not sure how much credit I can really take: this post is going to mostly be me raving about this "tuna" by the brilliant Margaux Mouton. It's amazing. As the author states on her original post, it doesn't taste "just like tuna" as such - but I swear it will bring back and perfectly serve any purpose tuna might have once held in your life. And this is coming from a former fish-lover. It has that tangy, fishy, salty flavour, and the delightfully chewy fishy texture, and there's something very fishy about how addictive it is. I'm now on my fourth batch.

I love it in toasties, or spooned over roasted spicy carrots and broccoli, but this helter-skelter pasta I threw together one night has got to be one of my favourites - it really is delicious, especially with veggie mayo. Yes I eat mayo with pasta. And with pizza. It's a habit that dates back from childhood, but trust me. It's delicious.

So delicious.

"Tuna" Pasta

by Shonalika Tilak
Cook Time: 10 mins
Ingredients (1 serving)
  • 1 serving dried pasta
  • 1/4 cup "Tuna" (See link to recipe above. I omit the celery, add 1 tbsp lemon juice, and use a generous amount of soy milk to make it smoother - if you go for tofu instead you'll probably end up with an even creamier and more delicious pasta.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 big handfuls spinach, torn
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. (I always salt the cooking water.)

2. Saute veg and chill powder in a pan until cooked through. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice.

3. Drain pasta and add to vegetables along with 1-2 tbsp butter-type spread. Stir in "tuna." Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve (with mayo:D)
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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Chocolate Banana-Beetroot Cake

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you may remember this excitable mid-essay tweet. Whilst getting all my work done before the deadlines (all over now - phew!) I was often in my favourite cafe, which also happens to be quite vegan-friendly. I'm not actually a big fan of cake, but after slugging through an hour of mind-numbingly boring material with a frantically growling stomach, the need to re-fuel won out. I sidled up to the counter, intrigued by a delicious-looking cake entitled Chocolate Banana Beetroot.

It was a good choice: moist, sweet, light yet rich and with these fantastic subtle, rustic, almost earthy undertones from the beetroot. I was so delighted with it, I had to try out the combination myself.

Mine turned out sweet and moist, but with a more traditionally "cake-like," texture, and significantly more chocolatey flavour. As a result, whilst I was only so-so about it, this has gone over very well with everyone else: I received reports of a delicious chocolate cake, with orders to make a habit out of making it and comments such as "you'll make me fat!" The presence of the beetroot, or anything remotely healthy, went completely unnoticed. So, whilst I tinker in the meantime with a more beetroot-flavoured variety, I can confidently say that this is a strong "secret" ingredient dessert: with the fruit, veg, unrefined sugars and whole wheat, there's a lot of good stuff in there amongst the rich chocolatey layers. And considering it's my first attempt ever at making a proper cake by myself, I'm pretty proud of it.

Next time, I'm going to vary the quantities of flour vs. beetroot/banana to bring out their flavour more - if anyone else tries this first, let me know how it goes! I'm pretty sure a few chocolate chunks won't hurt either;)

Chocolate Banana-Beetroot Cake

by Shonalika Tilak
Prep Time: 15-20 mins
Cook Time: 30-35 mins
Ingredients (1 2-layer 8-inch cake)
    For Cake
    • 1.5 cups spelt or wholegrain flour (225g) 
    • 1 cup coconut sugar (150g) (Brown sugar should work fine too)
    • ½ cup cocoa powder (50g)
    • 2 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 2 medium beets
    • 2 large bananas (150g)
    • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened soya)
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 cup golden sultanas (50g)
    For Frosting
    • 100g coconut butter 
    • 1 ½ cup milk
    • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
    • ¼ cup cocoa powder (25g)
    • ½ tsp vanilla

    For Cake:

    1. Combine dry ingredients (first 6) in a large bowl and mix very well.

    2. Slice beets and bananas and add to blender along with wet ingredients. Blend until smooth. (You’ll end up with a smoothie. Try not to drink it.)

    3. Pour wet into dry and whisk until you have a wonderful sludgy gloop.

    4. Stir in sultanas and divide batter into 2 oiled or lined 8-inch pans. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180C for 35 mins, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

    5. Let cakes cool completely before trying to remove.

    For Frosting:

    1. Place coconut butter, vanilla and cocoa powder in a bowl, keeping the cups of milk and powdered sugar at the sides.

    2. Begin to mix, gradually adding in the milk and sugar until all the sugar is used up and desired consistency is reached. (You may not use all of the milk.)


    1. Place one cake flat-side up on a plate. Spread a thin, even layer of frosting over this, then place the other cake, also flat-side up, on top of this, ensuring the two sides fit together snugly.

    2. Frost the top and sides.
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    • As you can see, I didn't have enough frosting to cover the cake properly - I've compensated for this in the actual recipe, so you should have enough. If not, however just increase the quantities of everything and continue mixing in until you reach the desired amount.
    • I used coconut butter for the frosting as it needed finishing - it works well, but leaves a slight coconut flavour (and melts easily!). If you don't want this, just sub with a vegan butter-type spread:)

    Thursday, 5 June 2014

    Dark Chocolate Smoothie Bowl

    Yep, I've jumped on this bandwagon - as a matter of fact, I'm so firmly lodged on it that breakfast dahl has found itself temporarily homeless. I started off trying a recipe by the Vegan Cookie Fairy one morning. I was curious - I didn't think smoothies would work as a breakfast option for me because I glug my drinks down in five seconds flat (and often regret it afterwards), whereas I like to take time to enjoy and savour my meals. Besides, I like to chew. Anyway, surely a smoothie wouldn't be filling enough?

    The smoothie bowl concept proved me happily wrong on all counts. The pieces of fruit  satisfy the "chew" factor, whilst the sheer thickness and volume of the smoothie, (and the fact that its eaten with a spoon,) play the brilliant mental trick of causing me to view it as a "meal," and eat it slowly. Though frankly, Clem's almond butter smoothie was so filling there's no way I'd have been able to glug it down even if I'd a glass big enough to contain it all.

    I immediately started trying out other people's recipes and experimenting with my own concoctions. Here's one you may not have seen before; its courgette-based, and contains avocado and banana, but the predominant flavour is chocolate. Dark chocolate. As a matter of fact you can't taste anything else. (Apart from the slices of banana on top, of course, if you fancy doing that - I always do ;)

    If you wake up in the morning with the urge to down a bowl of chocolate, chocolate, and nothing but chocolate, this is definitely the recipe for you.

    Dark Chocolate Smoothie Bowl (Serves 1)


    • 1 frozen banana (Fresh will work, but it will lose some of the dessert-like quality)
    • 1 courgette/zucchini
    • 1/2 a small Hass avocado (or 50g any avocado) 
    • 1 cup milk of choice (Coconut is best!)
    • 1 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla (Optional)
    • 1/4 tsp arrowroot (Optional)
    • Sweetener (Optional, amount will vary dependent on your tastebuds and the ripeness/amount of banana. I found it not to need any.)
    • Pinch salt, if needed

    Combine everything in a blender and blend away until smooth and creamy. Sliced banana is great as a topping.

    Feel free to add in anything you like - swap the vanilla extract for 1/4 tsp peppermint, add in nut butters, a handful of spinach, or a scoop of your favourite smoothie powder - but do NOT omit the avocado. Otherwise you'll get a gritty texture from the courgette. Which weirdly enough I sometimes like, but not here. xD