The weekend just gone was the last of my twenties – gulp! A scary thought indeed, but it was celebrated in style with an amazing trip to Brighton. The weather was bordering on tropical, my spirits were high, my companion was delightful, and the food was phenomenal. I’ve wanted to go to Terre a Terre since I first heard about it, and it was definitely worth the wait. For starters, my boyfriend and I split the tapas plate, which was perhaps substantial enough to be a main course. Nevertheless, I ploughed on for a curry dish featuring some incredible deep-fried cauliflower, and one of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted, churros with salted caramel and chocolate sauce. All in all it was the best and fanciest meat-free meal I’ve ever had and I am desperate for an excuse to return:
The next day we breakfasted in the sunshine with vegan pancakes at the amusingly named Wai Kika Moo Kau:
This was followed by the main reason for the trip: VegFest. There was an impressive array of stands, but we beelined for the ones handing out free food samples and enjoyed some glorious grub as we mooched around. We had some delicious Indian food, some tasty tapas and some wonderful cupcakes (including the Jaffa Cake and Ferrero Rocher ones from Ms Cupcake – the woman herself even spoke to me, though I was too scared to ask for a photo. What to do when you meet your idol?!):
We rounded off a fine day of food with an evening at Food For Friends, where we shared another tapas plate (which was tasty, but doomed to fail in comparison with the one from the previous night), followed by a tasty coconut curry and two delicious desserts which we split: coconut arancini with mango sorbet (based on the classic Thai dessert that I adore) and a sublime rich chocolate torte:
It was with heavy hearts that we faced our last day by the sea, but we crammed in as much food as possible again with another outdoor breakfast, a sushi feast at Moshimo, and some heavenly vegan cake for our train journey home:
As we enjoyed the sunny weekend by the sea, it was only natural that we also tucked into some ice cream, and I enjoyed this whopper from Boho Gelato, featuring a scoop of speculoos and another of chocolate raspberry:
I have returned to Manchester feeling extremely well-fed and happy, and ready for the rest of my birthday week celebrations. After a weekend of fancy food, I feel obliged to post something a bit fancier than usual: this recipe is from the fanciest vegan recipe book I own and is a really flavoursome curry. The wild rice dumplings are an interesting new way of serving rice, and also make delicious burgers. I think there can be no greater advert for veganism than the photos of my weekend indulgences, and I hope this recipe is also suitably tempting and shows that there is nothing dull or worthy about vegan food.
Wild Rice Dumplings with Lemongrass Curry
Serves 4, slightly adapted from Vegan Secret Supper
For the dumplings:
100g mixed wild, red and brown rice
50g red lentils
400ml vegetable stock
1 tsp tomato puree
2 tsp tamari
1 tsp almond butter
1 tsp rapeseed oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander and cinnamon
25g chickpea flour
handful chopped coriander leaves
12 x 1/2 tsp coconut oil
For the curry:
2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 stalk lemongrass
4 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp each ground coriander and cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 red chillies, chopped
1 tsp tomato puree
1 tsp tamari
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 can light coconut milk
potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
100g green beans, trimmed and halved
handful chopped fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
1. Put the rice, lentils and stock in a large pan and simmer for about 30 minutes until everything is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed (add more during cooking if needed).
2. Stir in the tomato puree, tamari and almond butter.
3. Spread the mixture on a baking tray to cool evenly.
4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan and fry the shallot, ginger and garlic for a few minutes. Set them aside to cool too.
5. When everything has cooled, preheat the oven to 200C. In a large bowl mix together the shallot mixture, rice and lentils, spices, chickpea flour and fresh coriander. Season.
6. Take handfuls of the mixture and shape into balls, ideally three per person. Place them on a baking tray.
7. Place a 1/2 tsp of coconut oil on top of each dumpling.
8. Bake for about 6-8 minutes, then turn them over and bake for 6 minutes more.
9. Get started on the curry paste by parboiling the sweet potatoes until tender. Drain and mash.
10. Put the lemongrass, shallots, garlic, ginger, spices, chillies, tomato puree, tamari, sugar and salt in the blender. Add half a can of coconut milk and blitz.
11. Add the sweet potato mash a third at a time, blending between each addition. Add a little extra coconut milk if it needs thinning out. Blend until it’s a smooth paste.
12. Parboil the potato chunks.
13. Transfer the paste to a large pan. Add the rest of the coconut oil and the parboiled potatoes and cook gently over low-medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the green beans for 5 more minutes.
14. Serve the curry in dishes with the dumplings on top. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.