Tag: sustainable food

Marmite and peanut latkes

I love Marmite so much I once wrote an embarrassing song about it in response to an Amanda Palmer song about her hatred of Vegemite. Just call me Joan Marmiterading. (Sorry.)

Anyway Amanda retweeted it and my life was made.

I’ve now invented a way of getting the salty sticky toffee coffee stuff into a latke, which is the more trendy and pretentious way of saying ‘hash brown’. I went rogue and added peanut butter (although I’m very unsure about the provenance of all nuts and don’t know if they’re ethical, can anyone help?!)

I think tahini would also work instead of peanut butter, and a fried free-range, organic egg would make it even better, if you eat eggs. I just went with wilted spinach and vegan mayo. Here’s the recipe, feel free to write a song about it.

RECIPE

Makes 6 latkes

Ingredients

  • 1lb floury potatoes (three medium sized), peeled
  • 1 onion
  • 25g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsps Marmite
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter, crunchy or smooth, Fairtrade and organic is best
  • 2 tbsps water
  • 5 tbsps sunflower or rapeseed oil

Method

  1. Grate the potato and grate or finely chop the onion. Squeeze it all in a teatowel or muslin until as much water as possible has come out. Wait a minute and then squeeze out more.
  2. Mix with the flour and baking powder in a bowl.
  3. Gently heat the peanut butter and Marmite in a pan with the water and one of the tbsps of oil. Stir until you have a well-mixed paste.
  4. Stir quickly into the potato mixture before it cools and hardens then shape into 6 patties about 2 centimetres thick.
  5. In a non-stick pan, heat 2 tbsps oil over a medium heat and fry half of the latkes for three minutes on each side until good and brown. You can sacrifice one to check it’s cooked in the middle, cook for another minute if not. Repeat with the remaining oil and latkes.
  6. Write a song about them.

Vegan herby dumplings and onion soup

Let’s talk butter. Beurre noisette, almond croissants, madeleines, hollandaise, Nigella’s Marmite butter pasta… this is essentially a list of my life’s greatest moments. My corpulent childhood golden labrador once ate half a pound of butter when our backs were turned and I can’t say I blame her. 

So it is with a very heavy heart that I have cut it out, after learning that it is one of the most carbon intensive foods around. Since going vegan, I have been trying to find recipes where I can replace it without feeling like I’m missing out on life. Cold-pressed rapeseed and sunflower are the oils with the smallest carbon footprints and have roughly a quarter of the footprint of butter. Read this article for a great environmental comparison of butter and margarine. 

Enter steamed dumplings. They are partly about high fat content, traditionally from suet, but mostly about texture – fluffy and doughy.

To make them I swapped butter for margarine in this herby dumpling recipe. I steamed them for 25 minutes in a huge cast iron pot of onion soup subbing beef stock for veggie and using nice white wine.

The only vegan margarine I can find that uses sustainable palm oil is Biona sunflower spread, but it’s expensive at £3.49 for a 500g tub. I can’t find any margarines that don’t use palm oil at all. I tried to bypass margarine and use rapeseed oil on its own but it was a massive fail. 

I used Flora Freedom (£1.80 for 500g) which has sustainable palm oil label of sorts – its parent company Unilever says it plans to source its oil completely sustainably by 2019. A big part of the problem is a transparent supply chain but by the end of this year they aim to have full traceability. It’s not perfect but it’s better than most others, which make no promises at all to end deforestation and treat workers fairly. 

RECIPE

Makes 14 medium sized dumplings

Ingredients

  • 140g cold margarine, diced
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp chopped mixed herbs – try parsley, thyme and sage or chives

Method

  1. Rub the marg into the flour with your fingertips until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the herbs, plus salt and pepper. Drizzle over 150ml water, and stir in quickly with a cutlery knife to form a light dough. Shape into 14 ping pong sized balls.
  2. 25 minutes before your soup or stew is cooked, place the dumplings on top, put the lid on and steam.

 

Restaurant review: Tibits

King of the veggie/ vegan buffet

Tibits, 12-14 Heddon Street, London W1B 4DA (0207 758 4112). Two-course meal for two, including drinks: £46

★★★★☆

If you’re walking down Regent Street and realise you haven’t breathed normally in several minutes in an effort to dodge everyone, take a diversion down Heddon Street. It’s the type of street that Muggles don’t notice – you wouldn’t know there was anything to discover unless you were looking for it.

Suddenly you’re in a leafy enclave of restaurants, with strings of lightbulbs overhead. On a half-hot September day you can eat outside and forget about the bustle.

Tibits is king of vegetarian and vegan buffet. The food is so appealing because 1) it’s instant, just like Yo Sushi and 2) the quality and variety is excellent.

When I went on a Sunday lunchtime, there was a pleasant chattery thrum oozing out of the open windows. An oval table in the centre of the restaurant is filled with hot plates and salad dishes.

You pay by weight (£25/kg). So I set about filling up my plate with a little bit of everything…

  • gnocchi verde
  • beer battered onion rings
  • carrot salad
  • vegetable tartare
  • orecchiette pasta salad with tofu, olives and sundried tomato
  • houmous and za’atar
  • okra tempura
  • dried bean salad with a walnut coriander dressing (wait for it, this was unbelievably the best part)
  • rocket

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The gnocchi was a little overcooked and starchy but I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to carry on eating it for the rest of the day. It comes in a creamy sauce with spinach, leek and basil, which was heaven. The onion rings were sweet and juicy and dangerously addictive. The carrot salad was not naked and sidelined but has its own secret recipe dressing.

Veg tartare had an odd carroty flavour but the tomatoey orecchiette salad was better. The houmous was one of the best ones I’ve had. Tempura okra was great, if you like okra.

But hold on. The best bit, incredibly, was the dried string bean salad. Nope, I’ve never heard of dried string beans either. They don’t look particularly special but the texture was so good and rubbery in a really, really good way? The garlic, walnut, coriander, onion, balsamic sauce – just yes.

The recipe is actually online here. Thank you Tibits.

… and that’s not all.

Vegan pudding. I know what you’re thinking. But oh my, the chocolate molten pudding AND sticky toffee pudding made me all fuzzy inside. They were squidgy and gooey and cakey and datey and saucy. I actually wrote down the word ‘PHENOM’ in my notebook.

I had them with a vegan mocha cream, which was thick, delicious and what a hippy Nigella Lawson would adore.

So now you know about Tibits, don’t be a Muggle.