After three years of running Lots of Nice Things and being involved in many different vegan food projects and events and after much hard work, I am delighted to tell you all that I am going to be starting work as Head Cook in a new vegan cafe and yoga studio in Swansea.
Urban Zen Yoga Studio & Cafe will offer a wide variety of Yoga classes and health treatments alongside its wholefood cafe in the heart of Swansea city centre and I am currently working hard producing its first menu!
My heart tells me it is time to bring Lots of Nice Things to a close. I’d like to thank you all for your interest and support over the last few years and I hope you’ll continue to follow my work and recipes through Urban Zen Cafe. Our website, which currently under construction, will feature a blog where you’ll be able to see exactly what we’ve been up to. You can also follow on Facebook.
If you happen to be in Wales, please come down and say hello.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache and Rose Petals
These little shiny cupcakes are based on brilliant fail-safe recipe I have used many times, from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (with a few personal amendments). After a trip out to a local cafe, who had sold out of vegan cakes… Iolo asked if we could make our own! Instead of getting messy with a piping bag and buttercream, I opted to glaze them with a lovely ganache instead and a few pretty rose petals. They were soft and delicious and didn’t last long in our house.
Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache and Rose Petals
Makes 10 large or 12 medium cupcakes
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup caster or granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable or rapeseed oil
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup self-raising flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup almond milk
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tbsp agave syrup
2 tbsp Rose petals
1. Preheat your oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4 and line a cupcake tin with 10 or 12 liners. If you use a muffin tray, the mix will only make 10.
2. Whisk together all the wet ingredients with the sugar in a jug and set aside.
3. Sieve all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.
4. Gently stir the liquid into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon, adding gradually and stirring until no large lumps remain.
5. Spoon the cake mixture into the liners, distributing it evenly amongst them all.
6. Bake for 18-20 mins. They are cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
7. Place the cupcakes on a rack to cool completely while you prepare the ganache.
8. Bring the milk to a boil in a small pan. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and agave with a wooden spoon, so it melts.
9. Pour the ganache over the cupcakes and then top with petals.
Let’s face it, if you are in the know-how, there are much healthier things to spread on your toast or oatcakes in the morning than margarine, let alone butter…such as a homemade plant-based pâté.
Why not make something that tastes great but also gives you a fabulous nutritional boost to start your day.
This pâté is made using heart-healthy cashew nuts, packed with monounsaturated fats, copper and magnesium, which are great for bone health; teamed with brilliant Organic Black Chia Seeds, which are rich in Omega 3 and 6 (needed for good cell health, brain and nerve function). They also contain good levels of fibre and protein.
Enjoy it on wholemeal toast, or as I did, spread across some lovely Organic Amisa Gluten Free Quinoa-fibre Crispbreads. The Black Chia Seeds, Crispbreads and all the herbs and spices can be purchased from Suma Wholefoods.
Creamy Cashew and Chia Seed Pâté
Makes 3 medium pots
Preparation time 12 hours soaking plus 5 mins
200g/ 7oz cashew nuts
4 tbsp Raw Health Black Chia Seeds
3 tbsp sunflower 1 tsp salt
Black pepper (to taste)
1 tsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 sprig fresh parsley
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
3 tsp zatar spice (optional)
1 tsp salt
Black pepper (to taste)
Sprinkle cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 tsp lemon juice (or to taste)
1. Place the cashews, chia seeds and sunflower seeds in a bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak overnight.
2. The next day, mix in the rest of the ingredients apart from the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and lemon juice. Blend with a stick blender until thick but textured. Now add in the final three ingredients to taste.
4. Spoon into pots and allow to chill, before spreading on quinoa crackers or bread!
Cashew and Chia Seed Pâté
Working with my friend and vegan cookery guru, Jane Easton, we spent over four years producing a vegan cookery book for vegan charity, Viva!.
Filled with hundreds practical, delicious and easy-to-follow recipes, I’m delighted to have shot all the pictures within this book, with Jane selecting and testing all the dishes we included and writing literally thosands of words!
It is the definitive, wonderful, vegan crème de la crème of recipe books!
This is no ordinary collection of animal-free recipes, for a start there’s sections devoted to kid-friendly recipes; entertaining non-vegetarian friends; eating solo and how to freeze your food to save time and money. We have everything covered – chapters include: Feel the Pulse; Tofu Secrets; Souperb; Lunch-out; A bit on the Side; The Main Event; Sweet Thing and more!
Boasting 145 recipes with accompanying full colour photos, the Viva! Cookbook will take your taste buds on a culinary adventure; from satisfying starters – Sautéed Squash with Olive Tapenade & Cannellini Beans and Luscious Two Pear Salad with Balsamic Dressing; to decadent desserts like Juliet’s Luxury Chocolate Mousse and Viva!Blocker Glory. For the main event, we’ve scoured the globe for fresh and flavourful dishes that hold their own such as Viva!’s Very Moorish Moroccan Stew or that work well as part of our ‘Cool Combos’ – pair the Quesadillas with Guacamole & Lime Sour Cream Dip with our tangy Mango Salsa. For a stunning show-stopper, our Big Puff Pie – bursting with mixed mushrooms and topped with a crown of puff pastry – will not disappoint.
The book is avaialble to buy from the Viva! shop, priced £9.99 plus p+p.
There is nothing better than sitting down on a Christmas evening with a slab of chocolate and a glass of mulled wine. Like with anything, you can buy ready bottled red wine, but it’s just so much nicer (and cheaper) to make your own. Here’s how!
Mulled Wine from The Parsnipship
1 bottle red wine (suitable for vegetarians & vegans)
1 orange, studded with star anise and cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 sliced lemon
4 tbsp unrefined sugar (or to taste)
Place all ingredients together in a pan and bring to the boil. Skim over the top to remove any impurities and serve hot into glasses. Add some brandy if you want an extra kick.
* Sainsbury’s house red wine is vegan for example and The Co-operative also label all their suitable wines. Visit www.veggiewines.co.uk for more information.
Happy New Year to all Lots of Nice Things followers.
Thank you for helping to make up some of my 25,000 hits!
WordPress have put together a little review of 2012 for Lots of Nice Things
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 25,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals
Click here to see the complete report.