Who says that Veganuary means no treats? We’ve just returned from a really lovely evening out which involved a really nommy dinner – and ice cream too!
That’s not to say we had a complete break from cooking, of course – our treasure-trove of veg won’t eat itself, after all! – today was another working from home day, so come lunchtime I knocked together a speedy bowl of soup. It was kind of inspired by this BBC recipe for broccoli soup – but this version also included cauliflower, onion, and garlic for extra goodness, roasted to bring out a nice deep flavour.
I spread out lots of broccoli and cauli florets on a baking tray, drizzled them with oil, and sprinkled on salt and pepper. Into the oven they went for 15 minutes, during which time I made some vegetable stock and gently fried a finely chopped onion. When 15 minutes was up, I gave the baking tray a shake, added two fat cloves of garlic amongst the veg, and popped it back into the oven for another 10 minutes.
When the time was up, the veg was beautifully soft and a bit charred around the edges – and it smelled amazing. Onions, garlic/florets, and stock all went into the blender – a good zhoozh – and then a gentle heat through in a saucepan, and it was ready. I was really pleased with the result – it wasn’t the most appetising colour (khaki is in this season, right?), but it had a beautiful silky texture and a really rich depth of flavour. Super nom.
When Si got home, he said it ‘smelled like roast dinner the whole way down the street’ – I’m taking that as a compliment! Unfortunately while the soup was delicious it wasn’t hugely filling (though that could be because I’d only had a small serving, saving the rest for Si – didn’t realise he wouldn’t need feeding when he got in – hey ho, that’s tomorrow’s lunch sorted!), and by 4pm I was starving again. Lucky me, Si came to the rescue and whipped up a quick spring onion flatbread – super savoury and tasty and much needed.
When 6pm came around, it was time to hit the town – very exciting! We were taking further advantage of the special discount cards we’d bought from Time Out in September, allowing us 50% off food at selected vegan-friendly restaurants – tonight, we were off to the Ugly Dumpling 🙂
I must say, the restaurant is inaccurately named – the logo is adorable! And the food is fab too. But before I get too stuck into that, breaking news from the world of Adjusting to Veganuary: as we walked to our destination, we passed a fondue joint that Si has been promising we can go to. This time last year, as I paused to read the menu, I’d have been moaning and mouth-watering and longing for everything on the board – but this time round I was completely impassive, I didn’t crave cheese at all. Not that I’m not still keen to go, but being reminded of dairy deliciousness didn’t evoke any anguish. Miracles do happen!
Back to the dumplings. We ordered a vegan platter each – which came with four tofu and spinach dumplings, and four curried jackfruit ones – and then shared a side of tempura aubergine, and one of sriracha sweet potato. This being Dry Jan, Zero – and what a fabulous feast it was.
The dumplings were light but bursting with flavour – the curried jackfruit ones in particular were amazing, while the spinach ones tasted like the vegetable gyoza that we love at Itsu. For me, though, the tempura aubergine was a real revelation – the batter was really crisp, not at all oily, and the aubergine flesh was super succulent. Plus it was drizzled with golden syrup and topped with crushed peanuts – what’s not to like? The sriracha sweet potatoes were also very tasty, though a touch too spicy for me – but it was easily one of the best vegan meals we’ve eaten outside the flat.
I’d also like to give a shout-out to the staff, who were so kind and helpful – once we ordered the vegan platters they were careful to warn us that one of the sides (broccoli slaw) wasn’t vegan as the online menu suggested, and to check if we ate honey before bringing dips for the table. Alas, though, there was one crucial problem – there was no vegan option on the dessert menu! Undeterred, we paid the bill and set out for Yorica!, home of beautiful vegan icecream.
Yorica! is pretty miraculous. Everything they sell is vegan friendly – even though they serve chocolate flavours, and offer toppings including biscuits and gummy sweets. We’ve both been feeling the lack of the latter two, so this was particularly exciting… I ordered a scoop of ‘double choco cookie’ icecream, topped with a vegan custard cream (which I crumbled into it), and Si had a mixed swirl of chocolate and vanilla soft-serve, scattered with pomegranate gummy hearts.
Oh my word, amazing! The chocolate flavour was more chocolatey than most normal icecreams I’ve tried – rich and truffley (not unlike the Booja Booja icecream we loved last year) and scattered with chunks of cookie dough – and goodness it was nice to have a custard cream again 🙂 Si’s was pretty tasty too – you wouldn’t have known that the gummy sweets were vegan.
All told, a fabulous day! We’ve just got home, via the shops to grab vegan spread, cashew milk (yay!), and an intriguing bottle of non alcoholic fizzy grape juice which looks rather tasty – we’re going to have it with dinner on Sunday. Looking forward to more vegan eats tomorrow!
Today I ate/drank:
- Tea with almond milk
- Fizzy squash
- Roasted broccoli, cauliflower, and garlic soup
- Spring onion flatbreads
- Curried jackfruit dumplings and spinach & tofu dumplings
- Tempura aubergine with golden syrup dressing and peanuts
- Sweet potato with smoked paprika and sriracha
- Coke zero
- Double choco cookie ‘ice cream’ with a vegan custard cream
- Pomegranate jelly heart
- Spoonful of chocolate and vanilla ‘soft serve’
- Sip of Simon’s Pepsi Max (don’t tell Si)
- Nothing at all. (Smug? Moi?)