Well HEY everyone. Here’s something totally different for Guac in 2017 that I’m so excited to start sharing: I’m going to be doing Ask Me Anythings for vegan recipes!
If you haven’t heard of AMAs before, they began (I think?!) on Reddit, where an interviewee gives an open call for questions, and anyone can submit any kind of question. They’re a great way of discussing huge topics and tiny comments within the same space, and I love that it creates a public forum for questions where no question is too obvious or silly, and everyone gets to learn from each other.
So obviously with these Guac AMAs, I’m sticking to just questions about vegan recipes. But within that realm, let the questioning commence! I’ll be giving help, advice, links and tips if I think I know the answer, and if not, I’ll be getting in touch with people I think do know the answer. We’ll be sharing recipes, advice from cookbooks, or advice on cookbooks, technical skills, how to perfect certain aspects of recipes, the best places to buy supplies, the best supermarkets for certain vegan products, loads! You can ask me everything from the best method to prepare tofu, how to tell which avocados are the best to buy for avocado toast, how to make seitan, to the best kind of icing to use on a chocolate cake and the best egg replacers for a recipe you’ve been struggling with.
The beady eye amongst you may have spotted that the cookbook giveaway I ran in February included a request for things you’d like to learn how to make. I thought I’d collect some answers to get us started, and work through those, and then you can either leave a comment with new questions for the next Guac Recipe AMA in April, or leave comments on my Insta post too. I’ll also put a call-out for questions nearer the time for the next one.
Just writing the answers to this initial post has got me so inspired to try some new recipes I’ve never thought of doing- I’m really excited to get to it! Please do add your own ideas in the comments if you have other suggestions. And remember- there aren’t any stupid questions or things too small to ask - we can all learn from each other and even the skills you take for granted might be the most helpful trick for someone else!
So let’s begin-
1. @hollyexley_illustration wanted to make perfect cauliflower buffalo wings - I’ve struggled with these before as I find they get into a bit of a battery mess! But I remember Hot For Food doing a really good-looking recipe for it on their YouTube channel, and then I came across this recipe via Google, which sounds like they’d make great wings too, before realising it’s also written by Lauren Toyota and John Diemer of Hot For Food- so I’m going to recommend theirs! Also, when I put this out to my Twitter followers, @whatlisesaid suggested the same recipe- everyone loves H4F!
Side note: (I can assure you there will be plenty of these!) Hot For Food is pretty much my favourite YouTube channel for vegan cooking- Lauren and John have so many great tips and ideas and I love how well thought out their recipes are, as well as how they approach cooking with food- eating things up, not wasting, continuous experiments- it looks like a whole lot of fun to be at Hot For Food HQ!
2. @foodwithdom asked how to make seitan. Seitan is also a tricky beast I’ve wrestled with for a few years, but great seitan IS GOD so it’s certainly worth getting your own recipe refined and working out the best way that works for you. The recipes I’ve followed so far online have all had pros and cons but none of them have felt like the ultimate recipe. So I’m still on the hunt. But this one by That Was Vegan? sounds like it’s going to be good, and Vegan Dad, a blog Tsouni from @yesitsallvegan often references when I’m asking her about recipes, and his roast seitan recipe with ginger and peach stuffing glaze sounds delicious so I’d recommend following that too!
I do have a seitan roast recipe card for sale in my Etsy shop too- this is only for making a roast with as you cook the seitan with all the stuffing wrapped inside, but it’s perfect for special occasions and Christmas Day- I made it no less than nine times last winter and everyone I made it for loved it.
One last word on seitan- Holland & Barrett also sell decent pre-made stuff you could try using if you want an easier route. I use the little chicken pieces in curries, and the larger roast joints can be deep fried for schnitzels (yum x 1001) or shredded for chicken-style fillings. The ‘duck’ ones are also great in a hoisin marinade in stir frys.
3. @Hannahvettese wanted to make the cookies and cream cheesecake slice which is in Sam Murphy’s book that I’d recommend picking up- I learnt so many vegan dessert hacks from reading her chapter on sweet stuff- really worthwhile.
4. @joellybaby asked how to make crepes- I’m not so sure! Leave that one with me- as the only pancakes I make are the thicker kind, but there must be a reliable way to make thin, French-style ones too.
5. @nisha-desai is on the hunt for a vegan cheesecake recipe. I got preeeety obsessed with cheesecakes at the start of the year so have worked my way through a fair share of recipes! I’d recommend using a high-speed blender than can process soaked cashews into a smooth liquid, because you’re going to add a lot of protein and goodness to the cake, as well as keeping it firm and very rich. It really helps the texture. This is my favourite cheesecake recipe I’ve found, and then I add in a pack of Bute Island Food’s plain soft cream cheese when you add the coconut milk. It makes it so rich and cheesecake-like and adds that cheese tang it’s hard to mimic.
6. @eastwestrax suggested flax seed meringue- oh! Nice niche. I’ve never made aquafaba or a vegan meringue, but reading through various recipes online, it looks like it’s generally very tricky to get the flaxseed meringue to set as a traditional meringue would in the oven, and is mostly used raw, to fold into sweet things. But one person on the Post Punk Kitchen message board seems to have found a way, by adding cream of tartar, which I’m seriously intrigued by!
7. @theyungv also asked for meringues- if you’re happy to go down the aquafaba route and have plenty of patience, I’d recommend that! But bear in mind it isn’t anywhere near as easy as a lot of YouTube videos/ Buzzfeed articles will suggest. Aquafaba is tricky to get right and does not behave well in the oven. My pal Jenny, who is a really experienced baker, found they’d keep folding after just a few minutes in the oven, and we got through a lot of tins of chickpeas trying. I’d always double up on the mixture so you have plenty to ‘experiment’ with (shout at).
8. @sonjatodd wanted to make/fake halloumi- I’ve never even thought of this! But I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a vegan street food trader doing what looks like incredible vegan halloumi. But One Arab Vegan’s recipe here looks INCREDIBLE. I’m gonna be trying this out this week! I think tofu is a pretty good place to start with vegan halloumi because when it’s properly firm it does have quite a similar texture- I’m so excited to see how this one tastes.
9. @debswalters is in the market for a jackfruit burrito. I know the feeling- when I started working at Club Mexicana I would call the day I had a shift with them ‘a burrito day’ and once actually fell asleep eating a jackfruit burrito on the night bus home, the burrito mashed into my face at 3am on a Saturday night. The glamour does get to your head some days.
In any case - I’d recommend schlepping over to Camden to Club Mexicana’s stand there - the jackfruit burritos are incredible :) And if you’d like your own recipe, Club Mexicana founder Meriel Armitage has shared one here for Veganuary. If you don’t live anywhere where tinned, brined jackfruit is easily available, I’d recommend buying it online, because it’s a tricky bugger to get ahold of and you do not want to be making this dish with jackfruit in syrup, which is often what bigger supermarkets do have.
10. @heatherwatermelon asks for a Yorkshire pudding recipe. Oh yes. Having spent my teenage years growing up in Yorkshire, getting a decent pudding recipe down was one of my first missions as a vegan. I’ve written it up into a recipe card available on Etsy, and you could customise it to fit into one whole dish, although I would say they stay crispier in smaller portions.
11. @millie.williamson wants to make black bean nachos- after spotting the ones in Beautifull Real Food. This is my fave black bean recipe for refried beans, and then you can pile that on nachos with some guac and fresh tomato salsa- DE VIIIINE.
12. @emayarmstrong wants to know how to make the perfect lemon tarte. No mean feat! You could go down the route of adapting my key lime pie recipe and use Jus- Roll shortcrust pastry as the base, but agar annoys me a little bit with puddings that are meant to have that really rich, creamy texture- it doesn’t quite cut the mustard for me! I’d actually use that mango cheesecake recipe I share further up, and add lemon juice to that, and adapt from there. I am NOT convinced with using turmeric to get that yellow colour for a Tart Au Citron. NO. I don’t even have a sweet tooth and I’m wincing at the SACRILEGE OF PUTTING TURMERIC IN A DELICATELY FLAVOURED TART. YOUR TASTEBUDS CALLED, THEY WANT A REFUND.
Thankfully there are still some people talking sense out on the internet. Lucy from Lucy’s Friendly Foods has done some frankly paradigm DEMOLISHING work, adding Birds custard powder to her tart recipe to get that brilliant yellow colour, without sacrificing on taste. I love the look of this so much I’m going to be trying it out at the next retreat this weekend.
13. Finally @velo.city.vegan asked about how to make vegan cheese or anything out of cashews. She says she can’t get it right- I hear ya Rachel! My first major vegan recipe disaster (much cited on here through the years so apologies to anyone that’s already heard this nine times) was trying to make cashew nut macaroni cheese for dinner. I soaked the cashews at my desk at work, cycled home with them, blended them up, attempted to make a sauce from it, and was faced with a bowl of pretty VOM looking, vom-inducing pasta sauce. Nope. NOT TODAY SATAN.
My main tips with cashews is you need to have the right blender. It needs to be highspeed- the Nutri Blenders, Nutri Bullets and Vitamixes are the kind of thing you need- then just add enough liquid and you’re all set. You’ll be able to make super smooth salad dressings, pizza crust dips (current obsession) and fillings for cheesecakes too.
As for homemade vegan cheese, I have NO clue. Anyone got any tips?
And that’s it for the first Guac Recipe AMA! I had an absolute blast. Please let me know in the comments if you have any follow-up advice or questions for the next AMA. Catch you on the flip side xxxxxx