This time last year.

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… me and Julien were just back from our holiday to France.

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Back in Aberdeen, my parents came for a weekend visit.

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We went out to picturesque Stonehaven for the day. 1
… And they got to act test bunnies while I experimented with making this rhubarb white chocolate cheese tofu cake.

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I got a new tapestry to our room. Great tip for making a place more homely when you are not allowed to repaint the walls etc.
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In true spirit of Midsummer, it was raining on said day. It also coinsided with my birthday so I combined the two, creating Bidsummer! We had dinner in the living room, floral crowns on our heads, with the rain pouring down outside.
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Other than so, I discovered the beauty of Seaton Park and thus spent just about every day off walking around it, numerous Kilau take away-coffees in hand.

Summer Strawberry Cake with Rhubarb, Lemon Curd & Almond Paste.

DSC_0403I swear it was only last weekend that myself and the eldest niece were looking at the teensy baby barbs out in the garden. Already at that stage astonished over how much they’d grown considering what a lack of summer weather the past weeks has involved. Now they have grown into a fullblown army of Rhubarb.
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To restore order in the vegetable plot I plucked some of them yesterday to use in a cake. Here is what went down (like, quite literally, along with a strong cuppa pitch black coffee) ↓


SPONGE CAKE AQUA FABA BASE

(Recipe courtesy Kakboken utan Ägg & Mjölk)

100 grams soft margarine
2½ dl sugar
1 dl aqua faba
1 dl corn starch
1½ dl plain yoghurt
3½ dl flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla sugar

1. Set oven to 175°C. Prepare a dish (circa 20 cm diameter) with butter and bread crumbs/semolina. 2. With an electric mixer, whisk margarine, sugar, aqua faba and corn starch together until fluffy consistency. 3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and vanilla sugar. 4. Place dry ingredients along with plain yoghurt into the aqua faba-butter mixture, folding it into a unison batter using a spatula. Be careful not to over work the mixture. 5. Bake for 40-50 minutes. Once a dipstick comes out clean from the middle, the cake is done. Leave to cool completely in its dish on oven rack.


MARZIPAN AND CREAM “CHEESE”

almond paste
vegan cream cheese, like tofutti original

Use a couple of tablespoons each. Grate almond paste before combining with cream cheese.DSC_0397


VEGAN LEMON CURD

(Recipe courtesy of MinimalistBaker)

1 can (~414 grams) coconut cream
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 dl lemon juice
2 tbsp arrowroot powder (I opted for corn starch)
1-2 tbsp maple syrup

Place lemon zest and coconut cream in a small saucepan. Combine lemon juice and corn starch separately until no lumps remain, then add to saucepan. Add maple syrup, one tablespoon at a time. Bring mixture to a low bubble (not boil!!) whisking often. Once mixture starts to thicken, keep on medium to low heat until a visible ribbon appears when pulling a spoon along the top. Adjust sweetness/acidity ratio by adding more maple syrup respectively lemon juice until appealing the likes of your taste buds.
Let set for 15 minutes, before transferring to a clean jar. Cover with plastic wrap (making sure the plastic touches the curd) or else a film may appear. Refridgerate for at least 5-6 hours.


RHUBARB COMPOTE

400 grams rhubarb
½ dl sugar
½ dl water
1 vanilla pod
(1,5 tbsp potato starch + 2 tbsp water)

Rinse and stem rhubarb, then cut into inch long pieces. Add to small saucepan along with sugar, water and seeds from vanilla pod. Let simmer for 10 minutes until rhubarb has softened. If you want a thicker compote, add the potato starch mixture. Let cool in fridge before adding to cake.


DSC_0392After assembling all, or some, of the pieces – cover with whipped dairy free cream and fresh strawberries. Voila!

What are your favourite cake fillings?

There is likely to be left over lemon curd, may I suggest you use it for:
Strawberry & White Chocolate Muffins with Lemon Curd.

Organic Café Choice.

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DSC_0690The waitress’ smile wides in recognition as we step out of the Kyoto night and into the restaurant. This is our second visit today alone. Not because choice (pun intended) is limited for the kyotan vegan. In fact, the city is a bit of a haven for veg grub in Japan and that is just what sets the scene for places like Choice to flourish.

So what is it then that makes us return for dinner mere hours after we have left from brunch? What makes Choice stick out among the crowd?

Well, first and foremost – by making and offering their own range of vegan cheeses! *angels singing*

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The backstory

With an increased interest for plant based foods and  particularly ways to make vegan cheese, the café founder set out to meet Miyoko Schinner in California back in 2011. Schinner, about to become somewhat of a “health food superstar”, had namely just succeeded in making a fermented cheese out of plants.

Applying the techniques taught by Schinner, albeit adjusted to suit the Japanese climate, soon resulted in the variety of (nutritious yet delicous) nut- & soy cheeses that are served at the café today. Plenty are being used along dishes from the menu, but may I suggest the cheese platter to try a select few?
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It is a full concept

Choice is formed as an open space that invites for conversation between its visitors. The interiors are bright, woodsy and contains plentiful of beautifully printed chalk boards revealing the daily specialities. On the menu you will find veggie burgers, risotto and pancakes along with freshly pressed juices and raw cakes.

One thing I am a big fan of is when chosen coffeeshop or restaurant has spent some time on their menus. A neat layout and something to read while awaiting the food. Choice does this brilliantly with little booklets for anyone to grab. (Even providing me with facts to use in this blog post!). To any café owner out there: do this! This gives customers a chance to be impressed by your particular story, and gives you a chance to brag and boost your efforts, ingredients, awards or whatever you please.


Choice Café & Restaurant
Where |89-1 Suzukikeiseigeka Bldg. 1F,
Ohashi-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Subway | Sanjo-Keihan, Exit 2
Website
Cuisine | Vegan, Gluten Free

Spaghetti Lentilgnese.

DSC_0343I was never a big fan of spaghetti bolognese even before turning to the veg side, and I suppose that is a reason why I have been in no rush attempting to replicate the dish either.

Well, now I have and happily so. It is such a great comfort food, as well as being both inexpensive and easy to make. Win, win, win!

There are two rules of this dish:
1. garlic buds don’t like to be lonely
and
2. be generous with the amount of curry paste added… (Go curry paste or go home!)
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SPAGHETTI LENTILGNESE.

→ 2,5 dl red lentils
→ 1 can (à 400 g) crushed tomatoes
→ onion, at least 1 but why not go for 2
→ garlic, lots of
→ 1 tbsp red curry paste
→ 2,5 dl veg bouillon
→ 2,5 dl oat cream or other plant based cream suitable for cooking
→ salt + pepper, to taste
→ 2 bay leaves
→ 2 shredded carrots (opt.)

For serving: vegan parmesan, fresh basil

Start by sauting the onion(s) until softened, 7-8 minutes. Add in garlic, curry paste and lentils – stir to combine. Add in remaining ingredients and bring to a light simmer. Leave for circa 20 minutes until lentils are cooked. Possibly add some more water if needed as you go along.

Serve with pasta, sprinkling some vegan parmesan and fresh basil on top.
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More pasta suggestions:

Simple Pea + Mint Pasta Sauce.
Mushroom Pasta Veganara.
Cauliflower Mac n’ Yeast

Japan Photo Diary, Day 12-13: About (cherry) bloomin’ time!

Resuming where we left off last post, mid way through the Tuesday in Hakone – we catch the train back to Tokyo. And so our roundtrip has reached its first and final destination once again.


It is late afternoon, aka rush hour, when we arrive at Tokyo Station that seems busier than a bee hive. We lock our bags away in safety boxes there at the station, eager to be on our way to the Ueno Park, as I have spotted some pink flowers on the Instagram-geo tags of said park.
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Hoards of people are getting off at the same stop and in the nearby supermarket aisles long queues are forming amongst shelves emptying rapidly from beer and bento boxes. It seems we have finally hit the jackpot and are about to experience hanami in full throttle.

It is so interesting to see the Tokyoites, who are normally so proper, well-mannered and tidy finally let loose. It is nearing 6 o’clock in the evening and people are smashed off their faces. Rubbish everywhere. Cigarette butts and asahi cans. Workers have left their offices early and built long tables of cardboard boxes stacked next to one another forming long tables which they surround, passing around heaps of foods from nearby take away outlets. People sleep in the park under an open sky to secure a spot for their party the next day.

It is a bit like being at a party (full of teenagers) and not knowing a single person.
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I cannot help but to feel a little melancholic. Last time we were in Tokyo we had everything before us; the train journeys, the unexplored cities, the constant anticipation and waiting for the sakuras to let their buds burst into a beautiful blossom.

And now, on our way home. Everything blooms around us.


DSC_0256DSC_0263Next morning we* have decided to go to the Tsukiji Market. Which is essentially a giant fish market (you can imagine my great excitement, “we” in this case means = a mother wanting fresh sushi.)

A lot of tourist go there in the early morrow (like 2am for an event that starts at 5am-early!!) to ensure getting a spot at the fish auction, as they only let a certain amount of people in.
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Thankfully, we get to keep our beauty rest and even make (yet another) pit stop at the Ueno Park to glimpse the cherry trees once more. (Different light in the morning, duh!)
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After some sushi (where the waitress seemed very unpleased with me for only ordering veggie starters — good news for fellow veg munchers, as they are not considered “proper sushi”, they are so cheap!!) we walk over to the up-scale shopping district of Ginza.
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We only pass by the peculiar and impressive looking high end stores, I have a particular place in mind. Namely, itoya — or stationary heaven if you will!

There are two itoya stores just across the street from one another and one of them towers up 12 storeys. I take my time watching pens, note pads, washi tapes and hand made papers until mum taps my shoulder saying
“I’ll go wait outside, we’ve been in here for 2 hours.” Oops…
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As a last sakura excursion, we went to Aoyama Cemetery (because flowers + tombstones, you cannot deny that is the world’s most beautiful juxtaposition).

Oh, and taxis too apparently.
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On the bucket list we had watching the Tokyo skyline from above at dusk. Of course SkyView is closed on said evening. We quickly take the metro to the Metropolitan Government Buildings that offer a free tour up their observatory. Of course #2, the freebie comes with a queue that stretches around each and every corner and out on the parking lot…
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Whilst already in Shinjuku, we end up at Ain Soph Ripple again. Not realizing until we are right outside the door, it is the very same place we went on our first evening in Japan. The story comes to a full circle!

After downing one of their vegan cheese burgers each; we bring some mason jar tiramisu back to the airbnb, pack our bags and I stress out over not knowing where the fudge I will sleep the following night back in Aberdeen. #curseofthetimeoptimistic


This was part 7/7 and thus the last one of my Japan Photo Diary entires. The previous posts can be found below:

Jetlagged in a rainy Tokyo.
Livin la vida Ryokan & the 1st glimpse of Kyoto.
Bamboo groves, trendy coffees & hidden gems.
Neon lights & deers of might.
A historical hike & a last, lazy day in Kyoto.
The Lost in Translation One & Museum Hopping in Hakone.


Up next I am working on a full 14 day itinerary of the trip (something I found incredibly useful when planning ours!) and a survival guide for vegans in Japan.

Vegan at SAS | & the meat norm of in-flight meals.

bild 3SAS cater to a wide range of dietary requirements on their transatlantic and Asia bound flights. Give them 24 hours notice prior to departure to have a meal free from beef, gluten or even honey. Sounds pretty dreamy, eh?

One roll of bread and three types of condiments later

Now I don’t know if it was just as we were flying out of Copenhagen, a city that is generally quite – pardon my French – crap at providing vegan friendly food but thank goodness I had brought a whole bunch of snacks. What I was served on my near 11-hour flight between the Danish and Japanese capitals was rather ridiculous, particularly seeing as they do claim they cater to special diets and I have paid just as much for my ticket as fellow passengers in economy. Should I not receive the same amount of food?

It seemed all they had really done was to take the food items containing animal by-products and replace them with… jam. In different varieties. I mean, kudos for the effort of providing a poor vegan with the choice of different flavour jams but I am yet a little puzzled how exactly it will make my bread roll more filling? (My breakfast is pictured in photo above; while omni passengers were served filled baguettes, yoghurt with granola and a piece of frittata.)

The exaggerated meat norm should not board

And by no means is this a bash particularly aimed at SAS. (In fact, on my return flight from Tokyo the amount (and taste) of food was definitely improved.) In general it puzzles me how flight companies are thinking when planning their menus. The standard when it comes to in-flight meals on offer seems to be a choice between two. Meaning, as some people refrain from eating beef for a range of reasons, the alternative meal option will be something as far fetched as *drum roll* (or should I say drumstick) CHICKEN!

With a growing vegan population, and in regards to the fact that it is suitable for most religious- and dietary requirements, as well as just a more environmentally friendly way to eat — does it not make sense to provide a vegetable meal? Some grainy salads and for the bread roll opt brie for some tub of hummus. It is by no means original. But then again, neither is meat as an alternative to meat.


Until then, my dear special dieters – I reckon we are best off getting one of those bags Hermione carries in the deathly hallows and stuff it with snacks.

First two are outbound meals, third is return flight dinner from Tokyo.

Creamy Asparagus Quiche.

DSC_0374Literally stumbling over the finish line, here comes a last minute-contribution for Månadens Gröna — this month hosted by Tina (←who has created a jaw-droppingly fantastic looking starter with asparagus and cured carrots!).

The theme of May is Asparagus and so I have cooked (yet another) tofu quiche!
Here is how ↓
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CREAMY ASPARAGUS QUICHE

→ a bundle of asparagus, ends trimmed
→ 1 block tofu
→ 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
→ ½ leek (or opt for regular)
→ 2-3 cloves of garlic
→ ½ lemon, juice of
→ ½ dl soy milk, or similar
→ salt + pepper, to taste
→ a handful fresh herbs (opt.) — think parsley, basil, coriander
→ spices of your liking; I used nutmeg, lemon pepper, garlic- & leek powder, cayenne

For the pie crust I used a ready bought puff pastry (check that it is SFV) but you could always make a regular pie crust or try this chickpea one instead.

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HOW TO

(0). Start by draining the tofu. Wrap it in a kitchen towel and let sit under a heavy weight for at least 30 minutes. A good idea is to prepare the night before.
1. Set oven to 200°C.
Press pie crust out in a heat proof dish. Prick the bottom a few times using a fork. Pre-bake for circa 5-10 minutes.
2. Saute the leek while combining spices, nutritional yeast, garlic & herbs in the food processor. Mix until meal like consistency, then add tofu.
Blend until creamy, if the mixture needs some help — add in soy milk or similar little by little. Once leeks are softened, add into food processor.
3. Lower oven temperature to 175°C. Pour your tofu batter into the pie crust, then decorate with your asparagus on top in an alternating pattern.
Bake for circa 35 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 before attempting to slice.

Bon appetit!
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So this month marks the one year anniversary of this vegetarian cooking challenge. For this occasion, here is 3×3 of what I have created during this time (in a somewhat chronological order)

Rhubarb Mojitos | with Ginger Beer.
Strawberry & Avocado Salsa | with Quinoa, Roasted Black Bean & Sweet Potato Wraps.
Tomato Quiche | with Red Pesto.

Blackberry Pizza Bianco | with Basil & a brilliant vegan cheese mix.
Cauliflower Mac n’ Yeast
Cauliflower Tacos | with Mango + Ginger Salsa.

Apple & Ginger Compote and Vegan Gingerbread Nutella.
Carrot, Ginger & Miso Dressing | with Summer rolls.
Roasted Parsnip & Pear soup.