MiniMoFo: Welcome to Autumn


The third and final MiniMoFo challenge is all about welcoming the autumn.  There hasn’t been much of a seasonal transition here in the Czech Republic:  one week it was too hot for a cardigan, the next I was bundled up in scarf, hat and winter coat.  But I’m quite glad about the change anyway – as all my students tell me, it’s British weather and it makes me excited about snuggling in of an evening and making hearty meals.

Although the shops here are full of different varieties of pumpkin and squash, I decided to forego the obvious cooking choices and for this challenge I have just bought something autumnal.  And what could be more appropriate for October than accidentally-vegan Halloween treats?!  I’ve been relying on Marks and Spencer to provide some seasonal treats, and they haven’t let me down.


I enjoyed the shape of the crisps.  Yes, the starfish is meant to be a ghost.  I love that both the ghost and the bat have shocked expressions.  The crisps were very thin, but also very salty and delicious.  They’d be fun for a snack at a Halloween party, or just for eating at home with a film.


I recently found out that quite a lot of the jellies at M&S are vegan.  Good news!  These cola and blackcurrant spiders were good, but very big, which made them a bit too chewy.  The flavour and fizziness were excellent, though.


And this one isn’t technically Halloweeny, but with that black and orange packaging I think I can just about get away with it!  I became hooked on these Blackfriars flapjacks when I was just a nipper.  Every Friday and Saturday evening, my brother and I were given the princely sum of 50p to spend in the corner shop, and I always picked up one of these flapjacks (and a penny chew with the change), trying just about every flavour.  I was delighted when I saw them again in Aldi a couple of years ago, a few of them with the green vegan sticker.  I hadn’t seen the ginger choc chip one since I was a child though…until this week!  There’s a little vegetarian shop in Prague that usually stocks a couple of Blackfriars varieties, and this one was nestled amongst them.


What a lovely and unexpected throwback to my childhood – it was just as I remembered.  If only the price had stayed the same!



And finally, the true mark of autumn in Prague:  Signal Festival.  This is an annual video-mapping extravaganza, with impressive light shows dotted around the city.  There’s no shortage of beautiful buildings in Prague, so any excuse to stand and gape at them for a few minutes is welcome.  We’re fortunate to live quite close to one of the best installations:  this church looks amazing on a normal day, so seeing it all lit up was quite something.

So, I am firmly settled into autumn now and ready for the most important part of the season:  Vegan MoFo!  This was the last of the warm up challenges, so now I’m just counting down to the main event.

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Vegan in Prague: Thai Box Food

Thai Box Food (4)

For the first half of this year, I felt like I was stuck in a rut in terms of eating out.  I know the places I like in Prague, and I eat there a lot.  Dr HH often suggests going somewhere new, but there is always the possibility of smokiness to contend with (how can a country not have a smoking ban by 2016?!)  and sometimes it’s just easier to stick with the tried and tested options and save adventurousness for our holidays.

But sometimes, he does talk me into going somewhere new.  Back in April we paid a visit to Thai Box, a nice little place that’s in the city centre but somehow not as well-known as the other meat-free eateries around there.  It’s a vegetarian place, with about a 50% vegan menu – non-vegan options are marked with an egg symbol.

Thai Box Food (1)

We ended up getting three courses, because it’s so rare that we have Thai food and everything sounded so exciting.  There were four or five starters, and while the spring rolls sounded tempting we decided to be bold and try something different.  We ordered some Farang’s Patties, which were nicely spiced and crispy, and some skewered rice balls which were really good too, especially the sticky sauce.

Thai Box Food (2)

Unfortunately, the starters are all sitting out on the counter and aren’t even re-heated before serving.  They were both tasty, but surely they would have been better if they weren’t lukewarm.  That was our only complaint about the meal though.

Thai Box Food (5)

The main courses were piping hot, freshly made and delicious.  Actually, maybe we do have one more complaint:  Dr HH ordered the Made in Thailand, which promised a red or green curry with tofu, aubergine balls and veg.  After he’d been eating for a while I asked about the aubergine and he realised there was none – we think he got the Bangkok Dangerous by mistake.  Whatever it was, it was well-spiced, creamy and had lots of bamboo shoots, which he loved.  He was still happy.

Thai Box Food (4)

And I ordered the only vegan noodle dish, Phi Phi Island.  It was hearty!  The noodles and soy meat were lovely, and the sauce was creamy and coconutty with plenty of bite.  I enjoyed all the fresh, raw veg around the outside.  It was great.

Thai Box Food (8)

Somehow, we still had room for dessert.  There were two vegan options on the counter, so we took one of each.  Dr HH had this blueberry dumpling, which was good and coconutty with some nice crunchy sugar for texture, but he felt it was a bit too doughy and needed more fruity filling.

Thai Box Food (9)

I absolutely love this ricey, fruity cake.  The waitress said she didn’t know the English name for the fruit and I couldn’t put my finger on it either, but basically there was a layer of sticky rice and a layer of fruity goodness, and altogether it was sublime.

This was such a great place to go, and it has spurred me on to get out of my food rut and try some more of the eateries Prague has to offer.  It would be a shame to live somewhere with so many vegan options and not try them all out!

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Prague Vegan Festivals

Veggie Naplavka 002

Regular readers will hopefully be well aware that Prague is a great place to be vegan.  There are a lot of all vegan eateries, and what’s more, there is no shortage of vegan festivals here either.  In fact, we’ve been to four in 2016!  Let’s have a closer look…

Prague Animal Shelter Festival (1)

Prague Animal Shelter Festival (2)

We went to a slightly baffling fundraiser for an animal shelter back in February.  We were quite put out by the steep entrance fee, but then it turned out that you just paid what you wanted for all of the food, so it made more sense to try to sting people on the door.  There wasn’t an abundance of food, but we did pretty well.  First of all we tried these corn dogs.  Neither Dr HH nor I had ever had such a thing before, so I can’t comment on its authenticity, but it was nice and novel.

Prague Animal Shelter Festival (3)

We also got a couple of cakes to share.  The collapsed one on the left is the traditional Czech molehill cake, slightly deconstructed:  it’s chocolate sponge, banana and lots of cream.  Even when it’s messy, it’s very good.

When we chose the cake on the right, we could only see the top and assumed it was a cheesecake.  Although I was initially a bit disappointed by the sponge, it turned out to be absolutely amazing.  We loved it!

Prague Vegan Festival (1)

With the warmer weather came the outdoor festivals!  This was the Veggie Naplavka festival by the river in May.  We had some burgers, which were good and hearty.

Prague Vegan Festival (5)

Dr HH can never resist the opportunity at these events to grab something deep-fried from one of the Loving Hut stands – this time, he went for aubergine.

Prague Vegan Festival (3)

For dessert, we got some crepes!  It was fun to see these being made.  There was a choice of compotes – we copied the Czechs and got some apricot jam.

Prague Vegan Festival (4)

And a slice of cake from Momo, a vegan and gluten-free cafe.  Alas, the crumble on top was quite soft, but it was still a good fruity slice.

Prague Vegan Festival (6)

Prague Vegan Festival (7)

We also got this ice cream for the road.  I was hoping it would have a good solid chocolate core like a Feast, but alas no – it was still pretty exiting.

Veggie Naplavka 001

There was another Veggie Naplavka on the last Sunday in August, with all the same caterers, I believe, but we resolved to have different food this time.  As it was a boiling hot day, we started with some raw bites from My Raw Deli: good flavoursome sushi, and exciting dumplings (we had these at the festival last September too).

Veggie Naplavka 002

But then we moved on to the serious business!  Dr HH enjoyed this enormous hotdog from Leo269.  It was basically a baguette filled with two sausages, some salad and crispy onions.  What’s not to love?!

Veggie Naplavka 005

Somehow, he also had room for this fried good from Mr Hau.  It looked (and tasted) like someone had made some chips, then deep-fried them into a patty.  You definitely couldn’t eat more than one of these!

Veggie Naplavka 004

I went for a somewhat lighter lunch, with this tempeh wrap from one of my favourite restaurants, Plevel.  It was smoky, creamy and delicious!

Veggie Naplavka 006

And finally, we returned to My Raw Deli for some cake.  There were about six different kinds and they all looked incredibly inviting, but we went for this chocolate and hazelnut one.  It was well-flavoured and really sticky from the dates:  a definite winner!


And in September it was time for Vegefest.  We went to this one last year, and were happy to see it back again.  It’s another outdoor event, this time in Vysehrad, which is a really nice part of the city.  We went back to My Raw Deli for the dumplings and sushi again…


…and followed up with more sushi, this time from Loving Hut.  Oh, and a greasy, delicious potato cake, because who only wants to eat raw, healthy food?!


We shared a few desserts as well.  This was kind of doughnut-esque, spread with plum and poppy seed jam.  Czechs love a good poppy seed, and it gave a really nice texture to the dish.


This elegant little tart was from Momo again.  It was nice, and there was some sweetness from the fruit and coconut, but I felt a little extra sweetness would have been nice (all their goods are sugar-free).  And maybe the crust would have been better if it had some gluten.


This green tea cake from Loving Hut was subtly flavoured, and so light and delicious.  It tasted as good as it looked, and the creamy topping was spot on.

Now as we’re settling in for autumn and winter, festival season might be over.  Hopefully we’ll sneak a few more in next year though!

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Cookbook of the Month: Vegan Bowl Attack


I was back in the kitchen this month after taking the summer off.  Dr HH did all of the cooking in August, and I was quite keen to get back into the kitchen (and put everything back in its rightful place – he had some funny ideas about where to store the mixing bowls and chopping boards).

In September I cooked from Vegan Bowl Attack, another book based on a blog.  I think the ‘bowl’ concept has truly reached Europe now, but I still find it a bit too much hard work, as someone who likes to minimise worknight cooking time (not to mention washing up).  So how did I cope with a whole month of bowls?  Well, for a start, I did a lot of tweaking!


There is a breakfast section, happily.  The first recipe in the book is for Chai waffle stick dippers, which is another way of saying ‘waffles chopped into strips’.   As always, I made the waffle recipe as pancakes instead, and left the pancakes intact.  I was a little worried that the batter was too strongly chai-flavoured, but they were so delicious and did indeed taste like a good chai latte.  Success!  This was such a nice weekend breakfast.


I was also somewhat concerned about the sesame apricot granola.  I like hummus as much as the next vegan, but I wasn’t sure about adding tahini to my sweet, crunchy granola.  When I nibbled a little fresh from the oven, my worst fears were confirmed:  it tasted quite strongly of sesame.  But the next morning with the usual dollop of fruity yoghurt, it was mild and delightful!  I wonder if there’s a mistake with the cooking time – it says just 10 minutes in the oven, which wasn’t long enough for it to go crispy.  Otherwise, worth a gamble!


The peanut butter pretzel oatmeal sounded very exciting – however, the excitement largely comes from an American product (peanut butter pretzels) that are added to the porridge.  Unsurprisingly, they are not available in the Czech Republic.  We decided that chocolate would make a suitably indulgent replacement.  It was a really tasty breakfast bowl – a bit like eating a Snickers for breakfast, which is no bad thing.


The loaded potato breakfast bowl was the latest in my fairly frustrating adventures with American hash recipes.  American friends, help me out:  do you parboil the potatoes first?  Do you chop the potatoes into the teeniest, tiniest pieces?  I don’t understand how a recipe can tell me to just fry chunks of potato in oil and expect them to be properly cooked in under thirty minutes.  Every time, I give it a try as the recipe commands, and every time I’m flummoxed.  I added a tin of chopped tomatoes to try to add some liquid to the cooking process, but still the potatoes ended up a bit hard.

Dr HH really enjoyed this dish, but I found the coconut milk in the mushroom gravy a little overpowering.  I would make it again, but use rice milk instead.


I only made one dish from the snacks section, and it was these tikka cauliflower chunks.  They were quite easy to make, and the yoghurt coating was really delicious.  My only complaint is that they were quite dry, so a dipping sauce would be good – Dr HH enjoyed them with some hot sauce.


Onto the salads and soups section.  As soon as I saw this title, I was excited:  banh mi panzanella salad.  A deconstructed sandwich!  What’s not to love?!  It was every bit as good as I’d hoped, and worth the effort of pickling the veg, toasting the bread, coating and baking the mushrooms, etc.  Sometimes I’m a little too lazy for dishes with lots of separate elements and lots of washing up, but this was definitely worth it.  Just before we tucked in, Dr HH said, “I’m not sure if I like kale.”  Fortunately, it turns out that he is a fan!  This is highly recommended, and has been added to my regular rotation.

Vegan Bowl Attack Roasted Pumpkin Salad

I made the roasted pumpkin quinoa salad using butternut squash instead of pumpkin and spinach instead of chard.  It was nice, but not spectacular – I think it needed more seasoning, more of a wow factor.  It was easy to make, and we took it with us to watch the canoe slalom world championship by the Vltava in Prague.  Good picnic food!


The roasted cauliflower tomato soup was so good!  There was a lot of chunky produce in there, so it was more of a stew than a soup, which is perfect for me.  Roasting the cauliflower first really made it extra delicious.  I’ll have this again!

Vegan Bowl Attack Cheezy Potato Soup (1)

The cheezy potato soup was also very good indeed!  I added too much tomato paste, hence it looks a bit orange, but the flavours were still as they should be.  The temeph bacon was the real highlight.  I kept a few strips for garnish, and chopped the rest and added it to the soup, which made some nice little flavour explosions.  Delightful!


The white bean garlic bisque was very garlicky, and very delicious!  I wish it had been a bit thicker though – stumbling across a bean that had survived the blitzing was the real highlight, so a thicker broth with a few beany chunks would make this perfect.


I made the smoky corn chowder bread bowl without the bread bowl, because it was for a packed lunch.  I thought it was a pretty average chowder, but Dr HH absolutely raved about it, so it must have had something going for it!


The sweet potato eggplant curry was also in the soup section, though we had it as a main.  I cooked the rice separately, rather than chucking it in with the curry as suggested, so I didn’t add the full requirement of stock.  I used some red curry paste because it needed using, and smoked tofu, because that is all my local supermarket stocks (not that I’m complaining).  It made really generous portions, I approved of the heartiness:  plenty of sweet potato and aubergine in there, lots of flavour, really delicious.


And the tempeh stout chilli was in the soup section as well.  I didn’t crumble the tempeh, but cut it into gigantic chunks, as you can see.  It was excellent!  Actually, the chilli itself wasn’t the most exciting, but the tempeh was such a good addition.

Vegan Bowl Attack Mac n Cheese (2)

Onto the mains!  I’m a bit late with the mac’n’cheese love.  I avoided all such recipes for years, but in the last few months I’ve discovered that it is truly a thing of beauty.  As such, I was really looking forward to the buffalo chickpea mac’n’cheeze, and it didn’t disappoint.

Truthfully, I ditched various elements.  I roasted the chickpeas in hot sauce, not buffalo sauce (the recipe calls for “your favourite vegan buffalo sauce” which is a baffling sentence to me).  I didn’t serve it with lettuce, because the thought of cold, soggy lettuce with this was unappealing.  And I didn’t make any ranch dressing for drizzling.  Just good old-fashioned macaroni cheese with spicy roasted chickpeas on top.  The cheese sauce was really good and creamy, and the chickpeas, while a bit too spicy for me, were a good touch.  A fun take on a classic.


The recipe for the seitan satay bowl with peanut sauce was a little daunting because there were so many elements.  It turned out not so tricky though, and I would recommend it.  We don’t have a grill, so I baked the seitan in the marinade and it was fine.  I considered leaving out the peanut sauce, because peanuts upon peanuts can be a bit much, but it was really zingy and actually a nice addition.  I would leave out the cucumbers next time though – they were a bit unnecessary, and the garlicky kale was a much better addition.  Also, I hate cucumbers.


I love a good shepherd’s pie, but I was a little wary of this upside down shepherd’s pie, possibly because by serving the mash at the bottom it completely takes away the “pie” element.  I know it’s completely illogical to say that it would have been better the right way up, but that’s genuinely how I feel.  It was fine, and the mushrooms were a good addition, but “veg on mashed potato” will never be as exciting as pie.

Overall, I liked the results from this book, but the style of the recipes isn’t exactly suitable for me.  I don’t usually have time to cook after work, so multi-component dishes aren’t ideal in our household.  Most of the main dishes were off-putting for me because I knew I would struggle to make them after work when I was tired and hot after a day on the go.

The soups section was much better – it was easy to make them in advance, and they kept well.  But the recipes themselves, with the exception of the non-pie, were solid, and if you can spend a bit more time in the kitchen working on the different components, then you’ll definitely enjoy this book.

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MiniMoFo: Food Crush


It’s time for the second MiniMoFo challenge, and this time we’re posting about our food crush.  I’m not wasting any time on this, because I instantly knew who I would choose.  It’s the one and only Ms Cupcake.  I mean, there are a lot of cookbook writers that I like and respect, but the evidence suggests that it’s definitely a crush with Ms C.


Exhibit 1:  Photographs


Everyone knows the importance of contriving to get a photo of your crush (see:  Clueless).


Well, clearly I needed Cher to help me out:  I was too scared to ask Ms Cupcake herself for a photo, so this was as close as I got with my camera.  Here the great woman is in action at Brighton Vegfest in March 2014.  I had received her cookbook for Christmas a few months earlier, and was giddy when I saw that she’d be selling her wares at my first ever vegan festival.  It did not take very long to hone in on her stall and start drooling over all the baked goods.

Speaking of which…

Exhibit 2:  Drooling


Like Homer Simpson trying to get that sweet can, this is how I reacted the first time I saw the treats at Ms Cupcake.


That first time in Brighton, we tried a chocolate orange cupcake, and The Ambassador (chocolate hazelnut).  They were so good!  It was perhaps my first time, and certainly Dr HH’s, buying a vegan cupcake and it was just so exciting.

Exhibit 3:  Stalking


Everyone knows that turning up at your crush’s home is a surefire way to win their heart, right?  That’s definitely a romantic move, not creepy at all, no sir.


So in 2015 on a weekend trip to London, we visited Ms Cupcake’s Brixton home (well, her shop – I’m not that creepy) and struggled to settle on what to eat.  Eventually we agreed to split an Oreo cupcake and a Bakewell one.  Of course, they were delicious.  Look at all that icing!

Exhibit 4:  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery


Sometimes the only way to impress your crush is to become more like them.  And being more like Ms Cupcake cannot be a bad thing!

carrot-and-maple-muffins-8So, yes, I have tried to emulate Ms Cucpake in the kitchen, thanks to her excellent book.  I’ve made these carrot and maple muffins, which are just perfect for a breakfast cake.


Also, these raspberry crumble squares for an all-vegan afternoon tea that I think Ms Cupcake would have really loved to attend.


The banana chocolate walnut loaf – those are some seriously good ingredients.


And giant chocolate chip cookies, because bigger is always better when you’re talking about biscuits.


Snickerdoodles!  See all the exotic and sophisticated things she has brought from over the pond?


And jaffa cakes.  Being able to make vegan jaffa cakes is a valuable skill, and these have truly enriched my life.


In conclusion:  I love Ms Cupcake!

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Vegan in the Czech Republic: Dobrá Čajovna


Now that I’ve been in Prague for over a year, I’ve had the opportunity to do some travelling around the Czech Republic.   While Prague is vegan heaven, and Brno is pretty solid too, a lot of other Czech towns and cities aren’t the easiest for a non-Czech-speaking vegan to navigate.  Dobrá Čajovna is a vegan-friendly tearoom chain that has been my saviour on a few day trips.

Kutna Hora 049

Kutna Hora 093

We first visited the branch in Kutna Hora.  This little town is only an hour away from Prague, so it’s possible to get away without going for a meal there if you time it right – most people visit the famous bone church and the pretty cathedral, and that’s about it.

Kutna Hora 015

But if you do stay for food, this is a good option.  We were expecting to see a menu when we arrived, but after we checked that it was vegan, we were just brought the daily set menu.

Kutna Hora 011

As well as some tea, we got a bowl of pumpkin soup.  It was lovely, but was crying out for some bread.

Kutna Hora 012

For the main, we had this polenta with salad, mushrooms and aubergine.  It was a bit of an eclectic plate, not my usual kind of thing, but I enjoyed the mushrooms and corn on the cob a lot.  The polenta was quite oily, but enjoyable.

Kutna Hora 013

And a plum cake.  The plums were quite bitter, so it wasn’t a very sweet dessert, but it was a cheap three course set menu in very relaxing surroundings, so we were quite pleased overall.  I’d recommend staying for a meal if you take a day trip to Kutna Hora.

Karlovy Vary Dobra Cajovna (1)

Further afield in the Karlovy Vary branch, we had a full menu to choose from – including the extensive tea list.  Also, bonus points to them for making it extremely easy to find with this sign.

It was quite a dark little underground tea room, with lots of pretty tiles, lantern and stained glass – a very Middle Eastern feel.  This was reflected in the menu.  There was one English copy of the regular menu, which had all the tea in the world, and a few meals:  nothing was labelled as vegan, but there were three couscous dishes: one with honey, one with cheese, and one that looked vegan to me.  They also have hummus, baba ganoush and pitta, aka the vegan staples.  We were also given another menu with the Indian dishes in it.  This wasn’t in English, but it had pictures and the word “vegan”, so we stuck with that one.



Karlovy Vary Dobra Cajovna (2)

Dr HH had this aubergine curry and said it was smoky and good.  I had chickpea and potato curry, and also loved it (mine’s not pictured individually – it was quite a dark place, making it difficult to get good photos unfortunately).  It was quite spicy, but not uncomfortably so.  We both chose bread rather than couscous as the accompaniment.

Karlovy Vary (45)

Karlovy Vary (51)

It was a lovely place to sit and relax for an hour or so:  really unhurried and peaceful.  The restaurant doesn’t open till 2pm, so you have to prepare yourself for a late lunch!  Fortunately, there’s plenty to see in Karlovy Vary to keep you busy.  You might recognise it as one of the locations from Casino Royale.  According to all of my students, it’s the playground of wealthy Russians and is primarily a spa resort.  We didn’t go for any treatments, we just enjoyed strolling by the river and under the colonnades, marvelling at the pretty pastel buildings.  It has all the charm you could hope for in a European town.

Karlovy Vary (67)

Both of these places are day-trippable from Prague:  it’s one hour on the train to Kutna Hora, and just over two hours on the bus to Cesky Krumlov.  We spent 4-5 hours in each place and found it plenty of time.  I know most visitors are only in Prague for a long weekend, but in my opinion it’s definitely worth staying long enough for a day trip too.  When there’s good vegan food to be had on the road, there’s no excuse for missing out!

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MiniMoFo: Signature Dish


Are you ready for Vegan MoFo?  It’s in November this year, but I’m so excited that I’m joining in with the warm-up exercises of MiniMoFo.  The first prompt is: what’s your signature dish?  (The deadline is 27th September, if any blogging friends are going to give it a go!)  As this isn’t a recipe-sharing blog any more, my signature dish is not something I cook at home but something I have when I eat out.  In fact, I order it almost every week from Moment Cafe.


Moment is a lovely little vegan cafe not far from where I live in Prague.  Even though we discovered it immediately when we arrived last August, it wasn’t until January that we realised this seitan and cheese bagel was the best thing on the menu, and possibly in the world.  Now we go almost every weekend for brunch, and this is still the first choice.

The seitan comes in gigantic slabs, really succulent and meaty.  The cheese is thick and gooey, just melting.  There is some spicy mayo on the bun.  Nowadays it doesn’t come with the carrot and beetroot in the picture, but standard lettuce and tomato, along with some fried potato slices.  Oh, it’s good.


Sometimes, alas, they don’t have all the ingredients.  This can result in robi instead of seitan (see above), which is an acceptable substitution.  It can also result in a burger bun instead of a bagel, which somehow throws the whole thing off balance and it’s not nearly as good as usual.  Once, they didn’t have any cheese, and give me tempeh instead.  Seitan and tempeh.  It was a good day.

So there it is, the signature dish that I order when I go to Moment, and hopefully their signature dish too – it seems like they get a lot of orders for it.  If you’re in Prague, make sure you give it a go!

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