Vegan in Prague: Veggie Garden

A vegan can go a long time without a slice of quiche. When you find one that looks this good, you have to grab it with both hands – although it has been pointed out to me that using a knife and fork is less uncouth in public.  Regardless of eating technique, I believe we have found the best vegan quiche in Prague.

Back in December, we tried these delicious slices of quiche at the Prague vegan Christmas fair – the mushroom one was particularly incredible.  Dr HH took note of the name of the caterers, and we agreed to track them down after the Christmas holiday and see if they regularly provided quiche.  Five months later, we finally got round to it and paid a visit to Veggie Garden!

Veggie Garden is a very popular spot for lunch – it was extremely crowded when we went in, and it seemed like there were lots of local office workers popping in on their lunch breaks.  As such, the menu is only in Czech, but the staff were kind enough to give us some help (there were four different quiches, none of them labelled).  There’s a daily special of soup and/or a main course (Thai red curry on the day we visited), plus some staples like falafel and burritos, but of course we only had eyes for the quiche.

One was broccoli, the other was cabbage and tempeh.  The latter was better, because everything is better with tempeh.  In both cases the quiche is deep-dish and has a great pastry case and light filling.  The side salad was 10% beetroot, 90% horseradish, so proceed with caution!

Even though these slices were enormous, we still had to share some cake just for research purposes.   There were two identical-looking cheesecakes, one orange and one nut.  The nutty one had a hint of marzipan about it, so I guess there were almonds in there somewhere.

Look how thick that base is!  That is my kind of base:cake ratio.  The base was more cakey than biscuity, which is always a shame, but it worked well with the creamy topping.  I could barely move after just half of this slice.

If you’re a tourist, I’d recommend picking up some quiche (and cake, if you’re up to the challenge) and taking it away for a picnic in some scenic spot – there is no shortage of those in Prague!

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Cookbook of the Month: But I Could Never Go Vegan!

This book by Kristy Turner was never really on my vegan cookbook wishlist, because the title always put me off a bit – I assumed it was for new vegans and would be full of basics.  How wrong I was!  It’s actually an ambitious and extensive book that’s quite reminiscent of Isa Does It (one of my all time favourites) in its scale and creativity.  There are some quick and easy dishes, along with some multi-component ones.  There are things that require half a pot of nooch. There are things that require cashews to be soaked in advance.  This is a real vegan cookbook.

It’s also a huge tome (I’m guessing here – I purchased an electronic copy, but there’s plenty in it) and I didn’t get around to cooking as many things as I’d hoped.  I’m actually considering doing a ‘Part Two’ of this post in August.  There are some sections I didn’t even have chance to delve into.  Here are the recipes I did try, and I’ve added the section names just because they made me smile.

 

I Could Never Give Up Cheese!

I’m a sucker for a good vegan mac’n’cheese, so of course I tried the tempeh bacon mac’n’cheese with pecan parmesan.  It had several components to work on, though some of them can be skipped:  the tempeh bacon, the pecan parmesan, roasted cauliflower for the cheese sauce.  So was it worth the effort?  Well, the sauce was good, but it wasn’t the most flavoursome I’ve had.  The tempeh bacon and pecan parmesan were tremendous though and I will probably add them to every mac’n’cheese I make for the rest of my life.

 

Where Would I Get My Protein?

As promised, the broccoli and quinoa tabbouleh with tahini-herb dressing was a very busy, hearty salad!  Dr HH said that he felt it was lacking protein, then qualified that with “a protein, like some tofu” when I exploded that it was basically all protein.  I liked it, but felt that more tahini would have made it sing.  It was solid, but not an instant classic like some of the other recipes in here.

I was very impressed with these falafel tacos with sriracha-tahini sauce.  Don’t they look inviting?  The sauce was exquisite, a really perfect blend of flavours, and the falafel was wonderfully herby.

 

Tofu Doesn’t Taste Like Anything!

The Mediterranean tofu scramble was delicious!  It was well-seasoned with plenty of herbs, and I loved the artichoke, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach in there.  Who doesn’t feel fancy when they have artichoke for breakfast?!  We really enjoyed it.

The creamy mushroom fettuccine alfredo was a strange one – when I first sampled the creamy sauce, I was absolutely revolted.  I want to say it tasted like hops, though I’m not entirely sure what hops even are – basically, it tasted the way the streets around a brewery smell.  I was quite worried about whether it would even be edible.  But when I added salt and pepper and cooked it with the mushrooms, it was delicious! So, top tip:  don’t sample it at all before serving!  (Obviously vegan fettuccine doesn’t seem to exist in Prague, so this is the next best thing.)

 

Vegan Cooking Is Too Hard!

I was quite worried about trying the chickpea omelets, even though they’re in this easy section.  I needn’t have worried: the batter was really easy to make (it’s essentially just chickpea flour, water and seasoning galore), and I even managed to flip them tolerably easily.  Maybe I’ll even make them evenly shaped next time!  And there will definitely be a next time.  I used spinach instead of kale for the filling, along with sliced mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.  It was marvellous.

I was quite taken with the idea of these bean and rice freezer burritos, so I whipped up a batch.  They are a great option to have in the freezer for emergencies!  Next time I’d reduce the quantity of rice and increase the beans, and stick some vegan cheese in there as well.  The recipe suggests they can be cooked from frozen in ten minutes, which I strongly disagree with – I doubled that, and topped them off in the microwave too.

 

Where’s the Beef?

It’s always pie season as far as I’m concerned, but I can imagine this portobello pot pie being especially welcome in the colder months.  The herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage) give it a wonderfully comforting aroma, and you can’t argue with big earthy chunks of portobello mushrooms.  Two thumbs up from me!

Dr HH volunteered to make these chickpea sloppy joes and he did a fine job, as always.  He declared them very easy to make, and I declared them very easy to devour!  He doubled the seasoning recommendations, and the chilli was bursting with flavour.

The Thai seitan satay with spicy peanut dipping sauce wasn’t quite perfect – we don’t have a grill, so I just fried the seitan pieces, and they were really flavoursome and delicious.  I spooned the peanut dipping sauce on top, but everything was the same colour due to the bottle of dark soy sauce I currently have, so it doesn’t look as appetising as it should.  Great flavours, though.

These BLT and avocado soft tacos were a very quick and easy meal.  The bacon is the same as the crumbles from the mac and cheese, and it’s really delicious.  I made this recipe even easier by using shop-bought crispy tacos.

 

Just Thinking About Salad Makes Me Yawn!

As it’s pretty hot in Prague now, I was keen to make a few salads for packed lunches, rather than our usual soups.  The three pea and orzo pistachio pesto salad was delicious, though it didn’t pack enough of a flavour punch due to a bizarre shortage of fresh basil the day I was trying to make it (two supermarkets, and nothing!).  Still, it’s recommended and was very filling.  I didn’t have time to make my own feta, though there is a recipe – I used shop-bought vegan feta instead.

 

What About Brunch?

These chickpea scramble breakfast tacos were my third tacos recipe from the book.  As a novice taco maker and eater, my question is this:  why not eat something easier to handle?!  I really enjoyed the filling of these, but the devouring logistics would have been much simpler if the filling was simply secured in a wrap.  Am I missing the magic of tacos?  It seems to be a messy endeavour to me!  Anyway, this recipe was good, but I was a little confused by the instructions to chop the chilled chickpea mixture into squares – next time I’ll just crumble it with my fingers (like tofu) to save time.

The buckwheat banana pancakes with peanut butter syrup made a sensational breakfast!  I used regular plain flour instead of the recommended buckwheat and oat flours, and they were just delicious.  The syrup was sweet and sticky.  All in all, this was a mighty fine breakfast.

I turned to Dr HH to make these pecan-date cinnamon rolls, and he did a top notch job!  The recipe recommended processing the pecans to a powder, but he merely chopped them so we got some good chunks.  They were delightfully sticky and really delicious.

 

Not Soup Again!

I really enjoyed this creole corn chowder (though I suspect nothing will ever top the Glam Chowder from Isa Does It).  It had a really good spicy kick, and the chunky texture is just how I like a soup.

I didn’t really know that broccoli and cheddar went together until I went vegan and found that every book contains a broccoli cheddar soup recipe.  Now I heartily approve of this combination! Roasting the broccoli beforehand was a nice touch that lent a pleasant charred taste to the soup, and the chickpeas were quite a fun addition.  I’ve got about a million of these recipes now, and I’d happily make this one again.

I added nooch to the cauliflower bisque, because why would I not?  It was a lovely soup, really creamy and comforting, and I’d happily have this again.

If you go shopping between 3pm on Friday and 10am on Monday, it’s pretty slim pickings in my supermarket.  As such, this white bean and portobello stew was made with shiitake mushrooms instead, and without any carrot, which is always a shame.  Nevertheless, it was delicious:  the seasoning was just perfect, and the mushrooms still had that good earthy flavour that you want.

 

But I Hate [Insert Vegetable Here]

This pan-fried gnocchi and acorn squash with hazelnut-sage pesto was very easy to throw together, and really flavoursome to boot.  It felt quite autumnal to me, but it was still delicious.  The pesto was easy to make and packed so much flavour.  This was really impressive, but was very quick and easy in reality.

 

You Can’t Bake Without Butter or Eggs!

The salted caramel peanut butter bars were delicious!  The sponge was just perfect, so light – but maybe it could have done with a bit more peanut butter, it tasted more strongly of banana.  And I’d tone down the salt in the caramel as well: the ingredients list calls for some salt, but it’s not mentioned in the method.  I chucked it in anyway and wish that I hadn’t, as it was a little too salty in some parts.  Still delicious though!

These iced oatmeal cookies were my first recipe from the book, and they were a very promising start!  They’re quite crunchy on the outside but lovely and soft inside, and I feel like they’d be perfect for Christmas – not that I’m planning on waiting that long to make them again.

 

Wait, Is Chocolate Vegan?

How could I resist the chocolate chip brownies?  The recipe indicates that the consistency of the finished mixture should be closer to cookie dough than cake batter, and that was definitely the case – and the baked brownies had a slightly crumbly, biscuity texture.  They weren’t dry like stale or dry cake, they were just quite crumby.  And they were delicious!  I swapped one cup of chocolate chips for pecans, and I’d certainly recommend doing the same, as they were already extremely chocolatey.

 

All in all, this has been my favourite cookbook of the year so far and I’d definitely recommend it to the keen cook, vegan or not – if you’re just looking to reduce your meat intake or give veganism a test drive, there’s plenty in here to inspire you.  And if you’re already vegan I think you’ll love these innovative and flavoursome dishes.  Furthermore, it’s great value for money:  as I said, there are still plenty of recipes here that I’m desperate to try.

Never again will I let a title deter me from a vegan cookbook!

 

 

 

Posted in Cookbooks | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Vegan in Prague: Chutnej

Yet another newcomer on the Prague vegan scene, and this time it’s a takeaway!  I was expecting it to be a colourful, plastic kind of fast food joint, but far from it:  there were big windows, wooden tables, recycling bins.  It’s definitely a vegan place!

The food is fast and delicious, and available either to takeaway or eat in.  On our first visit we’d been planning on not sticking around, expecting it to be short on seating, but being so pleasantly surprised we grabbed a table and waited.  The menu consists of six kinds of burger, seven kinds of pizza (also available in calzone form, called kapsa), and a few side dishes (falafel, coleslaw, chips or onion rings).  Dr HH and I both ordered calzones, in tribute to Ben Wyatt, everyone’s favourite calzone enthusiast.

Dr HH got the Mexican calzone, and deemed it not spicy enough despite the presence of pickled chillies.  He liked the creaminess of the cheese, and found the pizza well-stuffed and tasty.

I got the artichoke one, as it’s my opinion that there is no fancier pizza topping (or filling, in this case) than the artichoke.  Of course, it was delicious!  I was also a big fan of the cheese.  I was not such a fan of the calzone being cut into three, as it made the middle piece extremely difficult to eat without the filling oozing out everywhere, but sometimes you just have to get a bit messy.

On our next visit, we transferred our attention to the burger menu.  Dr HH chose the beetroot burger, because he was hoping it might be robi (a mock meat made from beets that we’ve only encountered here in the Czech Republic).  It wasn’t robi:  the patty was made with beetroot, as you can probably deduce from the colour.  He enjoyed the integrity of the patty, and was especially pleased to find gherkins in there too.

I went for the falafel burger, which tasted beautiful but was a little dry, unfortunately.  I think that’s always the risk with a falafel patty.  But I was happy to see it was served with cheese, and the bread was really good too.  In the end we agreed that while the pizzas were excellent, the burgers were just fine, and we’ll order accordingly next time.

There are a few side dishes available:  falafel balls, vegetable fries and onion rings.  The onion rings were nice, but I was put off the fries when I took a big bite of what I’d guessed was parsnip and found that it was celeriac.  Noooooo!  I didn’t trust any of them after that.

There were also slices of raw cake available and they looked really good – unfortunately we just didn’t have room though (and had an uphill walk home to consider).  Maybe next time!

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Vegan in Prague: Mamacoffee

Mama Coffee (2)

Regular readers will know that Moment is my go-to place for  tea and cake, but even I like a change sometimes.  Enter Mamacoffee, a charming vegan-friendly chain of cafes across Prague.

Mama Coffee (1)

The Londynska branch is my favourite, though it is a seasonal destination for me: there are only a couple of indoor tables, so you need the right weather to enjoy the garden seating.  It’s a teeny tiny place, but they have good tea, coffee and hot chocolate (vegan if you ask for non-dairy milk) and always one vegan baked good on offer.  This chocolate bundt cake is usually in, and it’s very good.

Mama Coffee (5)

They also sometimes have this banana bread, with a delicious chocolate topping.  Both of these cakes are fairly light and make a very enjoyable elevenses, I have to say.

mama-coffee-1

mama-coffee-2

The Vodickova branch, closer to the city centre, is more of a restaurant upstairs with a cafe downstairs, and it tends to be quite busy – the first two times we went we couldn’t get a table upstairs. We managed to find a seat in the cafe downstairs on one of those occasions, at least.  Dr HH and I both ordered the one savoury vegan option, a savoury turnover which was something between a pasty and a calzone, with a samosa filling.  It took about ten minutes for the staff to warm this up in the oven and bring it over, and the time:heat ratio left something to be desired.  It was tepid at best – we might as well have just had it immediately at room temperature.  At least it tasted good though!

mama-coffee-4

There were four vegan dessert choices:  the aforementioned chocolate bundt and banana bread, plus apple strudel and these pumpkin coconut cinnamon rolls.  We couldn’t detect any pumpkin, but the dessicated coconut rolled up inside was a great touch.  They were room temperature, and lacked the usual stickiness of a cinnamon roll, but again, they tasted fantastic and we really enjoyed them.

On our third attempt and with a reservation this time (phone reservations only, more’s the pity), we finally got into the upstairs section for a proper lunch in March.  The vegan and veganisable options are clearly marked on the menu, which is in both Czech and English.  There are a couple of vegan breakfast options, and most of the lunch options are vegan-friendly too.  Dr HH had the burger, which came with a little pot of coleslaw.  It had a vegetable patty with some mayo and a delicious bread bun.  It wasn’t the best burger he’s ever had, but he was pleased with the flavours and textures.

My brother was with us, and he had the mezze plate, which certainly looked good.  He raved about the pita pockets, and was also delighted with the hummus and rice salad.  Well done Mamacoffee for winning over a non-vegan!

And I got the veganised Ukranian dumplings with potato and mushrooms.  They were filled with mashed potato, and topped with sour cream and mushrooms, and they were delicious!  I’d highly recommend them.  It’s the kind of dish I haven’t really seen elsewhere in Prague.

We finished off with a couple of cakes:  the chocolate bundt again, and a lemon and chia seed one which was really zesty and light.  If there are no vegan cakes in the upstairs cabinet, definitely ask the staff and they can let you know what the options are downstairs.

The best thing about this particular branch of Mamacoffee is that it is directly opposite one of Prague’s Hooters restaurants.  Yes, that Hooters.  Not only do you get to have a tasty and civilised light lunch, you also have the entertainment of watching hungover, remorseful-looking stags hiding behind their sunglasses as they stumble in and out.  Classic Prague entertainment!

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

MiniMoFo: Herbivore, Prague

June’s MiniMoFo theme is fruit, and fortunately I had just the place up my sleeve after recently visiting Herbivore for the first time.  This charming little cafe and shop is well-established, but I’d simply never gotten round to visiting yet.  It’s quite pricey, and seating is limited, so I’d always stayed away, but finally Dr HH and I decided to visit on a weekday morning when it wasn’t too busy.  And our breakfast was suitably fruity!

Dr HH tried this acai bowl which was beautifully refreshing on a toasty summer day in Prague.  It was banana based, and topped with chia, coconut, granola and mango.  He fell in love with acai bowls when we were in Valencia last summer, so it’s nice to know that there’s such a good option here in Prague.

I went for the BCB combo, which consisted of the biggest slab of banana bread imaginable, a dish of peanut butter and a hemp hot chocolate.  It was sensational!  The banana bread itself was so good, especially the chocolate chunks, and slathering it in peanut butter just made it even better.  I’ll probably get this again next time.

We ordered a couple of smoothies as well, just to get the full experience.  The one on the left was Dr HH’s 3N smoothie, which was flavoured with peanut butter and coconut.  On the right is my banana cream smoothie, which had a bit too much cinnamon, but was otherwise tasty.

We’re definitely planning on returning for more fruit-based breakfasts in the future, despite the prices (regular for the UK, but steep for Prague).  Service was good, and it was a nice bright place with a well-stocked shop.  There are a couple of seats outside as well, which would be lovely were it not for the fact that Herbivore sits on a busy, noisy road.  At least you can glimpse the river through the traffic though.

And moving away from the fruit theme briefly, we also made use of the pay-by-weight buffet to get a couple of things to take away for lunch.  The sandwich was on wonderfully fluffy bread and filled with roasted veg, hummus and greens.  The quiche was full of vegetables and was really well baked.  Both got the thumbs up from us!

Have you got a favourite place to grab a fruity breakfast?  Are you an acai bowl or banana bread kind of person?  Let me know!

Posted in Travel, Vegan Mofo | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Cookbook of the Month: The Accidental Vegetarian

I loved this book and Simon Rimmer’s restaurant Greens so much when I was vegetarian.  When I became vegan, I fell out of love with the restaurant (not great for vegans, but I’ve heard it’s improved) and stopped using his vegetarian cookbooks.  While I was looking around for a new cookbook for May, I thought I’d dip back into this one that I used to use extensively and see how vegan-friendly it was.

One thing that’s important to note is that a lot of these recipes were actually served at the restaurant, meaning that they’re much more indulgent than our everyday recipes.  I remember always being aware that the recipes called for a lot of oil, butter and cream, but this time it really hit home just how indulgent they were.  In pretty much every recipe I reduced the recommended quantities of these three ingredients, and I found the food still very tasty and satisfying – so feel free to tone it down and enjoy these every day too.

The spicy red pepper hummus doesn’t look particularly attractive in the mixing bowl, but it was very tasty.  The recipe calls for the juice of three lemons, but I toned it down as that seemed quite excessive.  Simon pairs this recipe with some coriander flatbreads, which I have made before but couldn’t be bothered with this time – the weather has suddenly taken a very summery turn and kitchen time needs to be minimised!

The panzanella was fresh and flavoursome.  Truthfully, it’s a bit of a faff to make:  roasting and peeling the peppers, then attempting to peel the tomatoes (I gave up halfway through and it was fine).  I made this for packed lunches, so I kept the cubes of ciabatta separate until it was time of serve, so they didn’t go completely soggy beforehand.  It was a really lovely salad, probably worth faffing around at the prep stage.  I’ve only ever had homemade panzanella, and it’s my dream to actually have it served to me so I don’t need to worry about all the effort.

The spicy coconut and beetroot soup was the only soup recipe in the book, so I had to try it even though the combination is a little bold for me.  I was quite hesitant to actually take a spoonful, but it was delicious!  You know when something tastes quite weird, but you just can’t stop yourself from eating more?  It was just like that.  I usually tone down the spiciness in Simon Rimmer’s recipes, but this time it was necessary to keep it spicy to balance the sweetness.

I never even tried mushroom rarebit as a vegetarian, so I was a bit anxious about veganising the recipe.  The rarebit is a mixture of cheese, mustard and egg – I used a Veganz melty cheese and a flax egg, plus a little milk to bind everything together.  The cheese took a bit longer to melt than the recipe stated, as expected, but the result was spot on:  really creamy in texture, and savoury in taste.  We’ll definitely have this again!

Inspired by this roaring success, I went on to try the leek and potato rosti with rarebit.  I remember making this rosti before years ago, though I can’t remember what I served it with.  This time, alas, I overcooked the potatoes so they didn’t grate well, and the result was more potato cake than rosti. Still, they were delicious!  I veganised the rarebit just using milk this time, no flax egg: it still worked a treat.

From the Big Platefuls section, I tried a classic penne all’arabiata, which I don’t think I’d ever made before.  The flavours were simple and powerful, and it was a great fresh dish.  I’m not sure I’ve ever even ordered this before (it’s always the most boring dish on the menu, in my opinion), so it was actually a pleasant change for me and exceeded my expectations.

I didn’t have a chance to get stuck into making my own dough, so for the gnocchi with wild mushroom and rosemary ragu I used shop-bought gnocchi (DM stores in Prague sell a vegan version) and focused my energies on making that ragu. The recipe called for a lot of tomato puree, so I pulverised two cans of chopped tomatoes and just added a few spoons of puree to thicken it up.  I also couldn’t bring myself to put 850ml red wine in, so I scaled that down a bit too.  The sauce turned out thick and rich – it was really lovely!  The garlicky mushrooms on top were great too.  I’ll definitely come back to this one.

Like most people who were meat-free in the ’90s and ’00s, I’ve had my fill of risotto.  But the lemongrass risotto with lime leaf tapenade sounded like a sufficiently interesting twist, and I’m really glad I gave it a go – it was one of the most flavoursome dishes of the book!  The flavours were well-balanced, with a nice lemony hint to the rice and a big zesty kick from the lime.  As with all of the recipes though, it could have been healthier.  The tapenade called for 75ml of olive oil to serve four people.  I’m not particularly health conscious, and even I couldn’t commit to that.  It worked really well with just half the amount of oil, I found.

I’d made the oriental pie a few times back in the day – it’s a shepherd’s pie with lots of mushrooms and soy sauce.  The recipe is easily veganised:  just use vegan spread and cream instead of dairy ones.  Actually, I completely omitted the cream from the mash, because I wasn’t sure it was necessary for a weeknight meal – not quite so much indulgence, please!  I also used only sweet potatoes for the mash, rather than some regular potatoes too.  I was worried the pie would be a bit light, but it did fill us up (though we only got 4 portions out of it rather than 6) and the flavours were excellent.

Moroccan spaghetti was the first dish Dr HH ever cooked for me, so it has a special place in my heart.  He paired it with the sweet potato salad from this book, but I was too lazy to follow his lead.  I used a tin of chopped tomatoes rather than fresh ones, and I like the extra sauciness.  The sauce is simple but full of flavour, and I love all the chickpeas and flaked almonds.  A definite winner.

The black bean and aubergine chilli is another Dr HH staple (his old flatmate had this book, hence he knows some of the recipes too), so I was a little annoyed to have to make it for myself this time.  Tinned black beans don’t seem to exist here, and I’m far too lazy for overnight soaking, so I just used kidney beans instead.  It was predictably delicious, although I have to say it tastes better when Dr HH is at the helm.

I decided to try the Rendang shallot and asparagus curry, mostly because my rubbish supermarket happened to have both asparagus and shallots in, and nothing that was actually on my shopping list. The sauce was incredibly flavoursome, and the caramelised shallots were delicious, but this did not make very much – we only got three servings out of it.

The aubergine tikka masala was a mixed success.  The marinated aubergine is meant to be skewered and grilled, but we don’t have a grill so I just bunged it in the oven for an hour – the pieces weren’t as tender as I would have liked though.  The tomatoey sauce is meant to be poured over the skewers, but I decided to mix everything together – the result was tasty, but not particularly saucy, as a tikka masala usually is.  It was nice, but not really what I was expecting.

I’ve made the red Thai bean curry several times before, and it’s always better with more exciting veg – green beans and broad beans aren’t exactly spectacular, and the nearest bean I could find was cannelini anyway.  It needed something a bit meatier, I think.  That said, the curry paste is absolutely faultless.

I wish the recipe for strawberry and black pepper lollies had been more specific on the amount of pepper.  For it to be a title ingredient, you’d expect a reasonable amount, no?  I added the recommended “twist” of black pepper, and was afraid of being too heavy-handed, so left it at that.  It just tasted of strawberries. I couldn’t find plain yoghurt, so I used strawberry yoghurt and omitted the sugar from the recipe.  It was nice, but I’ll have to be bolder with the pepper next time.

Pretty much all of the dessert recipes call for about six eggs, making them not the easiest to veganise. I decided to have a go at the chocolate brownies (with marshmallow sauce), as there were only four eggs to contend with – the marshmallow sauce was a non-starter as I don’t know of any vegan brands here in Prague.  I used two big bananas instead of the eggs, and they seemed to do a decent job.  The recipe also called for one cup each of sugar and butter, plus 225g chocolate – and this is meant to be dessert for four people!  I halved the sugar and butter, but stuck with most of the chocolate.  Unsurprisingly, it was still extremely rich and decadent.  (Excuse the flatness – I only have one ovenproof dish here and it’s gigantic so all my traybakes are pancake-flat.)  They were really good brownies.  For a special occasion I’d definitely come back to this recipe and indulge myself.

I was a little daunted by the prospect of trying the hot choccy with churros, and they did turn out to be a little tricky.  I halved the recipe and converted it from grams to cups, so it’s possible that the correct balance of ingredients got a little lost in translation, as Simon kept referring to the batter, when I produced more of a dough.  The batter was meant to be piped into the oil for deep-frying, but it was so thick and heavy I actually just rolled it out and placed the dough rolls into the oil.  In the end they were lovely and crispy outside, but not quite right inside – this recipe definitely needs more tinkering.

The hot chocolate was also not perfect – I added half as much milk as I needed, and it was already much thinner than I’d hoped for, so I left it at that.  Due to the condensed milk, you definitely couldn’t drink this hot chocolate!  I’m glad I gave this recipe a whirl, and I’m going to look at alternative churros recipes to see if I can get it right next time.  The churros recipe was already vegan, and for the hot chocolate I just used non-dairy milk and this vegan condensed milk.

After a month of cooking from this book I’m inspired to dig up some of my old veggie cookbooks again and see what use I can get from them.  I really enjoyed these dishes, and will definitely be dipping into it a little more.  A more experienced vegan baker than me could probably do some good work veganising the other eggy desserts too.  While buying it may not be great value for money for vegans, if this is in your library, you should definitely check it out!

Posted in Cookbooks | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Vegan in Prague: AMA Tibetan

Unlike in the UK, there aren’t many meaty restaurants here in the Czech Republic that also have vegan options on the menu.  I think part of the reason is that there aren’t so many chain restaurants here, so there just isn’t the same consumer pressure for vegan options.  Whatever the reason, it’s always very exciting when a place pops up with solid vegan options.  (Don’t get me wrong, I like giving my money to 100% vegan businesses, but it’s also nice to have more options, see vegan going more mainstream, and have somewhere to go with friends who want a meat fix.)

AMA Tibetan is not far from JzP station, pretty close to the centre for tourists as well as locals.  You’ll see the colourful bunting as you approach on the street, and the restaurant itself is in the basement.  It’s nice and bright, thanks to lots of white paint and light wood, and really simple and elegant.  The menu has one vegan starter, one vegan variety of momos, and two mains (one stirfry, one noodle soup).  The vegan options are clearly labelled, so you can’t go wrong.

Dr HH ordered the stirfry.  As you can see, it was full of delicious charred broccoli and juicy mushrooms:  he loved it!  The waiter recommended getting rice with it, but we’re not sure this is necessary, as it was already a pretty hearty serving (plus we had a side as well).

I went for the soup, and did not get a good photograph of it.  It was a huge portion – I didn’t even come close to finishing it.  It was advertised as a noodle soup, and, not knowing anything about Tibetan noodles, I was quite surprised when it was full of what seemed more like ripped up lasagna noodles.  They were huge and delicious!  I also got mushrooms and broccoli, along with pak choi and other green veg.  The soup had a nice kick to it, though I think the stirfry was actually tastier.

Perhaps the reason I struggled with my soup and Dr HH didn’t need the rice was because we also ordered the vegan momos to share.  How could we not?!  We got ten little dumplings, which were perfectly formed, but unfortunately we found the veg filling a touch bland.  Fortunately the dipping sauce (tomato and chilli, I’d guess) packed more of a punch and really elevated them – and was once again generously served.

What a great place!  Huge portions, generally strong flavours, lots of fresh veg, and guaranteed to please a crowd of veggies/omnis.  Hurrah!

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , | 2 Comments