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Thursday, 1 April 2021

A Vegan Birthday Feast

It was my step-daughter's birthday on Saturday so I cooked her up some of her favourite food. She loves Japanese food and she loves sticky toffee pudding, so that's what went on the menu. As she is vegan, she obviously required that all her food was vegan but she also requested that the whole meal was vegan, i.e. that we all partook. 

The main meal was a buffet of different Japanese foods. I cooked sticky rice in my Instant Pot, baked a nasu dengaku aubergine, fried some shop bought vegan gyoza, and whilst she stir fried some tofu and veg noodles, I deep fried some tempura - pumpkin, mushroom and onion. The other addition at the table was a jar of radishes that I had pickled the weekend before. 

I had received some radishes in my first Oddbox veg delivery. Despite being one of the easiest things to grow, we don't usually bother because no one really likes them. So I figured I may as well try pickling them to see if that made them more palettable. After all, my step-daughter is generally a fan of pickled things and she likes pickled diakon, and diakon (or mooli) are just very large radishes. I have to say, after they turned a pretty pink colour during the course of the week, I was actually quite excited to try them. Yes, definitely nicer pickled and definitely a very similar taste to pickled diakon.

Pickled Radish

1 bunch of radish
175ml cider vinegar
175ml water
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp maple syrup (or honey if not for a vegan)
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
5 garlic cloves (whole)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp peppercorns

Wash the radish and pat dry then slice very thinly. Separate the slices as you drop them into a suitable jar. Add all the other ingredients and put the lid on then slosh it about a bit to mix. Leave for 1 week before eating. Eat within 3 weeks.

I have made vegan sticky toffee pudding a few times over the years and, in fact, I think I prefer it to conventional sticky toffee pudding because it is soft and gooey and satisfying without being overly heavy. Usually I make it as a single cake in a square cake tin and I have even made it in a hemisphere cake tin at Christmas to look like a Christmas pudding. However, on this occasion I decided to use some individual pudding tins from Lakeland. Normally I glaze the cake with some pear jam or similar but on this occasion I started by putting some of my pear sauce in the bottom of each pudding tin. To serve, I topped with a bit more pear sauce and a dollop of Oatly Oat Fraiche, although vegan custard, cream or ice-cream would have worked well too.

Sticky Toffee Pudding (makes 8)

250g dates
2 tbsp linseed breakfast topper
300ml soya milk
200ml vegetable oil
175g dark muscovado sugar
200g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground mixed spice
100-200 g pear sauce or golden syrup or date syrup or jam

Put the dates, linseed and milk in a saucepan and simmer for 2-3 minutes until soft. Use a stick blender to blitz until smooth. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well, breaking up any lumps in the sugar. Add the date mixture, the oil and 50 g of jam/sauce. Stir well to form a batter. Pour more sauce/syrup into the bottom of each individual pudding tin then dollop in the cake mixture until about three quarters full. Put the tins onto a baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes until springy to the touch. To serve, run a knife around each pudding and tip into a serving bowl/plate then heat each one for 30 seconds in the microwave. Add more syrup to the top if necessary and serve with creme fraiche, custard, cream or ice-cream.

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