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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Tales of the unexpected: Palm pies, whiffy tempeh and tasty tea

It's been a little bit longer between posts than normal due to the reappearance of study-based fun. My first set of exam results came through last week and, while they weren't as good as I'd hoped across the board, there was lots to be pleased with and I'm still on track for what I need to do. (All very cryptic, but rest assured, I'll let you know as soon as I can what the masterplan is!)

Any way, after banging on how about much I love homemade stuff now, I got all excited when I saw some vegan convenience food. Forgive me, friends, but you know what it's like, you're at your local healthfood store, you see a tin of tempeh curry and you think, 'wow, cool, I bet that tastes grim, but I'll give it a go in case'.

Can you guess what it tasted like? Yeah, it was a bit grim. I mean, for tinned stuff, it wasn't half bad - there was a lot of nice Thai flavours in there, but you know that weird whiff that you get off tempeh if you don't boil the living bejebus out of it first? There was a lot of that.

To get around the problem, I poured Sriacha onto it until I couldn't taste that dusty tang. To be honest, I poured it on until I couldn't feel my lips, but the effect was the same - I could finish the whole lot. I can't say I enjoyed it though.

Here's how it looked, peppers and okra model's own:


Slightly more successful was a cucumber and tomato salad based on a recipe from Sally Butcher's excellent Veggiestan (there's a full review here, but the short summary is: this is great, I wish it was vegan not just veggie).

I grant you cucumber and tomato salad doesn't sound really exciting - in fact it sounds like the worst kind of English salad, popular up to the 1990s and used to come with feeble, sagging iceberg lettuce. Luckily, as it's a Veggiestan salad, it's far more lively, and there's all sorts of bright tastes in there - coriander and chilli among them.


I served it up with some quesadillas, which was in no way authentic or appropriate, but darn tasty. Incidentally, what's the vegan for quesadillas? Cashewdillas?

I recently signed up to vegan box scheme, The Vegan Kind, and I got my first box the other week. It kind of surprised me - I was expecting basically a big box of all sorts of sweets, but there was all manner of cool stuff in there, including the surprising addition of washing powder. (Not surprising that people would make vegan washing powder, surprising that it would be in the box.)

A similarly interesting inclusion was this bag of Nothing But, a vegetable based snack of freeze dried pepper strips and mange tout. The freeze-drying not only makes it nice and crisp, so it counters my deep and abiding craving for deep-fried maize-based foodstuffs, it also concentrates the flavours, so it's the most peppery pepper and the most mange touty mange tout out there.



Given the theme of this post is turning into the unexpected, here's another random dish that found its way to my table: hearts of palm pies.

I discovered the recipe, torn out of a magazine, in my kitchen recipe stash and decided to bite the bullet. Alas, I can't remember where the recipe came from originally, so I can't point you to it but if you google 'torta de palmito' you should find some similar recipes.

As the name up there hints, it's a Brazilian recipe - hearts of palm, fried onions, and tomatoes (fresh and dried in my case) wrapped up white sauce and encased in some puff pastry.

I made little mini versions in cupcake cases, but I bet a great big pie would be a winner too.

Man, those little pies were good. There weren't any fancy-dan flavours in there, but the gentle, creamy filling meant the pies were a great comforting snack or light lunch with a load of salad on the side.

Here's a quick peek inside, though it doesn't really do it justice:



My last unexpected vegan treat came from my other half, who'd just returned from Berlin. I've not been there for a long time, but it's meant to be one of the most vegan friendly cities in Europe.

During Mr Flicking the Vs soujourn, I asked him to stop by all-vegan supermarket Veganz and have a nosey around. He reported being a bit underwhelmed, saying you get more interesting vegan stuff in a Trader Joe's. He may be right, but I can't help but feeling there's something quite pleasing about going into a supermarket that sells nothing but plant-based wonder. There have been rumours for some time that a Veganz is coming to London, so fingers crossed I can go check it out for myself!

In the meantime, Mr Flicking the Vs brought me back some treats from Veganz - two packets of fruit leather and some Earl Grey rooibos tea. I've never really gone overboard for fruit leather, but the strawberry and raspberry version were really good, and I love the brand name, which translates as something like 'Devil's Work and Angel's Task'.

But the star was that tea. I drink a lot of tea, and had to switch to rooibos to cut back on caffeine. Giving it an Earl Grey spin meant that I got all the flavour of a good brew, but didn't have to worry about the sleep patterns. Result! Now I just have to work out where to get it in England...

12 comments:

  1. know what you mean about tinned stuff. The best thing I've come across recently was Hodmedod's tinned dahl which whilst never going to best a homemade one was pretty tasty for tinned. That rooibos tea quite often crops up in TK Maxx. It's good stuff.
    And well done on the exams!

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  2. If you hadn't said otherwise I'd have guessed from your picture that the tempeh curry was pretty good!
    I think I'm going to have to see if I can find Veggiestan in the library. It sounds my kind of style.
    I'd completely forgotten about Veganz opening over here, though I think the opening date got shifted forwards to 2015. I never made it to the Berlin store, mainly because I was travelling with my Mum and she wasn't so interested in vegan food tourism!

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  3. The tempeh curry does look very appealing, sorry it wasn't to yr tastes.
    Heart of palm pies, huh? Very cute though I can't quite grasp the flavor in mind.
    Tea of all sorts is so nice. Love the packaging on that one too.

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  4. those salad and pies look great - not sure about the tempeh - I don't get too worried about tempeh whiffiness but not sure it is something I would like in a can with spicy mix - your berlin treats sound great - but sounds like you needed to sneak into Mr Flicking the Vs suitcase and check out Veganz for yourself - just to be sure!

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  5. I just can't warm to tempeh in any form! The pies look amazing though- I've never cooked with hearts of palm before. The salad looks so good!

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  6. That tempeh curry actually looks good, but things in tins do have that tendency to underwhelm. Thank goodness for sriracha ;)

    I love wandering new supermarkets and an all vegan one sounds great, so I'll keep my fingers crossed it does come to London.

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  7. Never seen tempeh in a can before, sometimes I get the seitan in a can from the Asian supermarket. The mini pies look awesome! I'll take a couple of those over the tempeh any day. :-)

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  8. So many interesting foods. I actually appreciate a good tomato and cuke salad if the tomatoes are prime. I'm glad you were able to cure the tempeh with sriracha — that stuff could probably cure anything, even a cold.

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  9. Hearts of palm can do no wrong! I love them, no matter the seasoning, so I'm very much intrigued by your tempting hand pies. I could use a bit of delicious pastry comfort right about now, too.

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  10. Go Joey, you have my support!! I would love to know what your masterplan is! Canned tempeh? I’ve had canned meat alternatives before and they weren’t too bad as long as they are sauteed or cooked with something else. Glad that Sriracha saved the day, it’s the best spicy Asian condiment ever! Haha, I love the term you used, ‘Cashewdillas’, love it! Dang these mini hearts of palm pies look incredible, I will bookmark ‘torta de palmito!’ mmmmm! I’m not a huge fan of fruit leather, but I bet that they are pretty tasty!

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  11. Oh my goodness those pies look incredible! I will definitely try to find a recipe.

    The sound of the tinned tempeh curry made my belly hurt a little, hahaha!

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  12. Those pies look great! I tried hearts of palm for the first time a few months ago and made a really amazing taco with hearts of palm that my boyfriend said tasted just like beef. I have to disagree with Mr Flicking the Vs, I went to Veganz in Hamburg and I loved it! It was just so great to wander around a supermarket and know I could eat every single thing in the place. Plus they had a little cafe and soft serve ice cream stand which I loved. And I discovered some new favourite chocolates/sweets in there by Vantastic Foods.

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