Sunday, 31 October 2010

And suddenly... I got cookie sandwiches!

First things first!

Happy Vegan World Day! Thanks everybody that's already fighting for the animal rights and trying to make this world a better place.

Second, today is the first day of the Vegan MoFo. I'm not into the amazing web event this year (2009 was amazing but I can't find the time to do it now), but if you have the chance, check their page and all the blogs that are participating, it's a great opportunity to share info and recipes about veganism.

Third, the cookies sandwiches. Two Saturdays ago I woke up thinking about baking something different. I had a recipe of cupcakes filled with vanilla cream cheese that a guy from my job (he's not vegetarian but we're always talking about vegan food or things he thinks I could "veganize") and I really wanted to try to do vegan french macarons for the first time. But, I'm always baking cupcake and I realized that I didn't have the ingredients to try the macarons. So I decided to do cookie sandwiches (at least they look like - a little bit - french macarons).

It was a great decision, they came lovely! I used my own recipe for the dough and for the filling (white chocolate ganache!) and I wish I had done more. It's something really easy to do and it's perfect with tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

Cookies base

2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup soy cream

Preheat your oven to 175°C. Line two baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl an set aside. In your mixer, cream the margarine with the granulated sugar. Add the vanilla and soy cream. Slowly add in the flour mixture, stirring just enough to combine.

Drop about 1/4 cup of dough (or even less if you want smaller cookies) for each cook on the prepared baking sheets, leaving plenty of room for them to spread. Bake for 15 minutes until they begin to turn slightly golden in colour. Let the cookies rest and cool.

(PS. I did another base adding 1/4 cup chocolate to the same base recipe)

White chocolate filling
1 white chocolate bar
1/2 cup soy cream
1/2 soy milk
1 tsp cornstarch (maizena)

Dissolve the cornstarch in the milk and stir to avoid lumps. Melt the white chocolate bar in a small pan. Add in the milk mixture and the soy cream. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes after it starts to boil. Let it cool completely and put it into the fridge for a couple of hours.

When the cookies are completely cool and the filling soft and firm, set up the sandwiches.

One thing that I did and gave me an amazing texture: I let the cookies in a plate covered with a glass bowl and in the next day they were even softer and with the filling more dissolved in the cookie.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Domino's Pizza Ireland: Not suitable for vegans

The only place that you can be sure that the pizza dough is vegan is in Italy. This is something that I've learned in all these years of being vegan. In Brazil they might use eggs, so I'm used to always ask about the dough before even considering asking about vegetarian options or to have a pizza without cheese. In Dublin is not different, some pizzas places have eggs or milk in their dough and it's not that easy to find a vegan option in the end of the day. Back in February 2010 I was checking the Domino's Pizza website to try to find some information about their pizza dough. If you go to Food Guide Introduction, you'll find the topic "Pizzas Bases and Toppings - Ingredients and Allergies" and it's a PDF with all the ingredients.

As you can see, "milk" is marked with the "x" for all bases. If you take a look in the Ingredients column you might think there's no milk there in the firs item, "Regular Crust Dough". It's not that obvious (mainly if English is not your mother tongue of if you became vegan recently). But "whey powder" is a milk derivative product. It may sounds silly for a lot of people, but I'm sure that a lot of other people aren't aware of this information.

To make things even clearer, I wrote an email to Domino's and I got two different answers. If I had stopped with the first answer, I would probably ended up buying a pizza from Domino's:

Answer 1: "Hi Glauce, There is no milk or egg in our regular dough base. The milk would predominantly be contained in the cheese. Hope this help."

But I wrote a second email saying that I'm vegan and that the word "milk" was marked in their ingredients PDF.

Answer 2: "Hi Glauce, The base does appear to contain a stabilser which contains whey powder. I was not aware of this as it does not state it on the product in store. Whey is a derivative of milk and is used in a huge amount of food ingredients and flavourings. There is no actual milk added to make the dough. I hope that this helps you further."

It's important to know the questions you're making when you're eating out or wondering to ask for delivery. Sometimes people just answer to our most usual question: "Is there any eggs or milk in this product?" or even "This product has anything with animal origin?" A lot of people don't know all the answers and most of the times they are too lazy to check. Make sure you're asking all the questions and that you received very clear answers.

I don't know if Domino's has the same ingredients for their products in other countries, if you know about it (or even about any other pizzerias that people usually think that offer vegan pizzas but this is not true), please feel free to share with us!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

All about... Blazing Salads

It's unbelievable that Dublin has basically five vegetarian restaurants and I still didn't write about all them here. If I had to choose one or two words now to define Blazing Salads it would be "life-saver". During these busy days, it's being the best place to eat or to go to grab some food to take away.

Blazing Salads is more like a deli place than a restaurant. It's small, but with a great atmosphere and offer salads, soups, cakes, snacks and desserts. They also have a bakery that offer a selection of organic bread. I first went there in September of 2008, while we were in Dublin for the first time, to decide if we would really move here. I loved the snacks options and my favourite one was the vegan pizza slice. But at that time I got that idea that it was a place for salads lovers and I'm not one of them, or at least I wasn't. Because of that I stayed a long time without going there.

But since I'd started to work one block away from there, I decided to go there more often. And I have to say that it was a great idea! For the last months me and Matteo are eating more salads in general, so it's easier now for me to go there. And they also have one of the best hummus in Dublin! It's hard to find a place to eat there during the lunch time, cause the place it's designed to be a take away option, but it's not being a bad thing these days cause the weather in Dublin is surprisingly sunny and warm. So I'm trying to enjoy it as much as I can, having lunch in the roof of the office building.

You can choose between 14 salads option and you pay for the weight. The price is fair enough and they offer quality food. They also have some organic, gluten-free and vegan products to sell there.

If you're in town or if you work around the area, stop there and try it. It's worth it and you can become addicted!

The Blazing Salads Food Company
42 Drury Street

Dublin 2

Couscous + green quinoa salad + hummus

Monday, 4 October 2010

Can I make this at home?

One of my reasons to go to restaurants is to have the chance to try different, original and tasty vegan meals, things that I haven't the talent (and experience) to cook myself. One other good reason is that some days a good food is a ready food. And you know, I'm not having the time to cook and when I do, I'm too tired to try new adventures in the kitchen.

But there are two different kinds of thoughts that usually go through my head when I'm looking to a menu or to the meals of the days in the restaurants:

1. "Could I make this at home?" - This is what I think when I try something really good and different that I'd like to eat more often (and that I wouldn't have the money to buy that often). I really like to try to find out all the ingredients used in a meal and think about the way it's made. I know that most of the times I won't be able to do exactly the same, but I enjoy trying and also adding some personal touch to those "restaurant meals".

An amazing spaghetti al pesto salad that I had at Cornucopia last week

2. "I could make this at home!" - On the other hand, this is a not a good thought. Well, not a good one for the chefs and restaurants, I think. Sometimes I ask for a meal and after trying it, the first thing that comes to my mind is "F**k! I could make it home, better and cheaper!" And this second thought really annoys me. I know how practical is not having to go to the kitchen to prepare a meal, but I always expect to get something at least not so trivial when I'm in a restaurant.

I know that I'll always have one of these two thoughts going out to eat, no mater where, but I hope I can have more of the number 1.


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