Emi's Good Eating

Be good to yourself and all fellow animals

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The Best, Booziest and Vegan Christmas Cake

Each year around this time, we prepare our special Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding. Here is our recipe for the best Christmas Cake you will have.

We have tried, tested and improved the recipe over the years. The cake has been a huge hit with everyone who has tasted it, including avowed fruit cake dislikers, and whether in the UK or otherwise (the cake travels with us wherever we may be at Christmas).

This recipe is boozy! If you will not make it boozy, then you will need to prepare the cake closer to the time you intend to eat it, otherwise it will be too dry.

Happy baking, Christmas and all Winter holidays.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or any other Winter holiday, do the right thing: let All beings live. You can go vegan right now.

Emi's Good Eating

Christmas Cake has its origins in 16th century England. Oliver Cromwell even banned it for a while! Of course, we have the Victorians to thank for the creative winter scenes that adorn the top of the cake.

For the last many Christmases, Mr. GoodEating and I have been making our own Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding. We bring these festive treats wherever we may be celebrating Christmas. Before making ours, I never liked fruit cakes, but these… oh these are totally different and utterly delicious. They last forever, so you will be tucking into them until Spring, if there are any leftovers.

Generally, we prepare ours in September or October, giving us plenty of time to “feed” the cake brandy (or cognac) and letting it mature. It can be made later, of course.

Set aside 5 hours to prepare and bake the cake (and that’s apart from the time necessary…

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Napoli Soul Food: Simply Delicious Everyday Tomato Sauce

Despite that tomatoes were only introduced to Italy in the mid-16th century, tomato sauce, or la salsa di pomodoro, is another staple of cucina povera, which literally translates to poor kitchen – peasant food. The first recipe for tomato-sauce-topped pasta and pizza appeared in 1779 in Antonio Nebbia’s cookbook Il Cuoco MacerateseToday, the humble tomato sauce is ubiquitous, not just in Naples or Italy, but all over the world. And it is inherently vegan.

Tomato sauce is simple, versatile, low-calorie and inexpensive. It keeps well, whether refrigerated or frozen. It is a perfect topping not only for pasta and pizza, but for rice or any other grain, quinoa, amaranth, tofu, tempeh, seitan, dark green vegetables and whatever else you may fancy combining it with. And you only need five ingredients and there is NO chopping – tomato passata/purée, an onion, a clove of garlic, a couple of basil leaves or a small pinch of dried basil and a tablespoon of olive oil. That’s it!

Recipe (and the reasons for not using salt, sugar or spices) after the photo. UsServes four with leftovers.

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Ingredients

  • 1 container (approx. 700g) of plain tomato passata (aka tomato purée) – look for one with as few ingredients as possible and certainly no added spices, sugar or salt
  • 1 onion, top and bottom trimmed and skin peeled but otherwise left whole
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed if you like or you can leave it whole
  • 1 Tablespoon olive or other flavourful vegetable oil (optional)
  • 2-3 basil leaves or a 1/8 teaspoon dried

Before explaining the method, let me explain what is not in this tomato sauce and why:

  • No salt because you will use salt when you are cooking pasta or whatever else it will top. If you added salt to the sauce as well, you could have a salty disaster
  • No sugar because I believe it detracts from the tanginess of the tomato and it is superfluous
  • No spices or aromas because this is a basic sauce and it needs to be versatile. The onion and garlic clove will impart enough aromas to the sauce and the basil added at the end will tie everything together. If there are too many flavours, then you are letting the aromas/spices do the talking, rather than the tomato and the sauce will get heavy

Method

Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium-high heat (if you are not using oil then use a bit of water and watch that the onion does not burn). Place the onion and garlic into the oil and let them get slightly golden (4-5 minutes). Stir the garlic and onion in the oil so that the oil is infused with the aromas of garlic and onion.

Add the passata and quickly cover because it will splatter. Then, fill the passata container 1/4 full of water, swish it around to get the remaining bits of passata and add this water to the saucepan. Keep on the heat and stir from time to time until the mixture boils.

After 3-4 minutes of boiling, turn down the heat to medium/medium-low and simmer for approximately 40-50 minutes, still covered and stirring from time to time. You will know the tomato sauce is ready once the onion is soft.

Turn off the heat and add the basil (you add basil at the end because otherwise it will turn bitter).

If you are not going to use the sauce right away, let it cool in the saucepan and then transfer it (whole onion and garlic clove) into one or more containers for storage in the refrigerator or freezer.

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The animals we love are no different from the animals we eat. If you are not vegan, please go vegan. It is easier than ever and http://www.howdoigovegan.com will help you get started. 


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Napoli Soul Food: Lightly Stewed Courgette (Zucchini) with Plum Tomatoes

While visiting my sister B. in Napoli, she made this dish for us for dinner. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed courgette cooked in this manner. Upon my return, I made it for Mr. GoodEating, who also very much enjoyed it.

This is a traditional Neapolitan dish and it is inherently vegan. It is a savoury and flavourful main dish that is simple, inexpensive, fast and, most importantly, very satisfying.  It is also low in calories, yet very filling. In the summer, you could also eat it cold. Add some tofu or tempeh if you fancy. It can be gluten free if you omit the bread crumbs and oil free if you omit the oil.

Serves two as a main.

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Courgette and tomatoes with breadcrumbs

Marrow mixed with courgette, tomatoes and Saga's seitan pancetta. No breadcrumbs

Marrow mixed with courgette, tomatoes and Sgaia’s seitan pancetta. No breadcrumbs

Ingredients

  • 400 g plum/cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if bigger tomatoes
  • five courgette/zucchini or a medium sized marrow (or a combination of the two, chopped into 1cm pieces
  • one garlic clove, smashed, or one shallot thinly sliced
  • 200ml water (or vegetable broth or cube)
  • 100ml white wine
  • 1 teaspoon asafoetida, optional
  • 2 Tablespoons bread crumbs, optional
  • hot chilli (flakes or fresh), to taste
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 5-6 basil leaves and/or 1 Tablespoon parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
  • glug olive oil, optional

Method

You will need a deep skillet for which you have a cover.

Wash the courgette/zucchini and quickly pass a sharp knife over the skin to remove the small fibres atop the courgette (if there are any).

If you are using marrow instead of courgette/zucchini (or a combination), deseed it by scooping out the spongy middle. 

Heat the skillet. If you are using olive oil, then add that in once the skillet is hot. If you are going for an oil free version, then use about 1/3 to 1/4 cup of water instead. Add the asafoetida and the clove of garlic in a large skillet. If you are using a fresh chilli, then heat that now too. If you are using the shallot instead of the garlic, then add that in at this time as well.

If you are adding tofu/tempeh, add now. Let the garlic get golden brown and then remove (5 minutes or so). If you are using the shallot, then let that get soft.

Add the courgette and/or marrow, the tomatoes, the wine and the water and cover. Cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes.

Cook for an additional five minutes, uncovered, and add the salt, pepper, chilli flakes (if not using fresh), bread crumbs, parsley and/or basil. In the second photo above, I used Sgaia’s seitan pancetta for an added flavoursome element. That is not necessary for this dish to be tasty. If you have some liquid smoke, that would work too, but that is also unnecessary.  

Check the water level. If you would like the dish to be soupier, add more water. If you would prefer it dryer, then turn up the heat and let the water evaporate a bit more, minding that the dish doesn’t burn or stick, OR add another tablespoon of breadcrumbs.

When you have finished cooking, add the nutritional yeast and serve. You may also want to add the nutritional yeast atop the dish once you have decanted it to a plate.

The animals we love are no different from the animals we eat. If you are not vegan, please go vegan. It is easier than ever and http://www.howdoigovegan.com will help you get started. 

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Vegg Salad: Vegan Egg Salad

I like food and vegan food is just simply food to me. It is not fake, faux, replacement, vegan-this or vegan-that. But how do you solve a problem like egg salad? [You can sing that if you fancy and know the musical allusion] Do you call it “no egg,” “tofu egg,” “eggless” “n-egg” “vegg”? Or something altogether different? I like simplicity and directness (and film and music); hence, my title.

This is very tasty, fast and delicious. Serves two as a meal or four if the vegg salad is part of a more substantial meal. 

N-Egg salad

Vegg salad on toasted multi-seed bread

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Vegg salad on romaine leaves, steamed plantains and steamed cavolo nero

Ingredients

  • 400g firm or extra firm tofu (pre-boiled and cooled, following this method or see below)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons mustard (not too spicy and you can also use whole grain or a mix of the two)
  • 2-4 Tablespoons (more or less, as you fancy) of either tahini, for a no-oil take on the recipe, or mayonnaise (either home-made or store-bought; for a fast recipe click here) and if you have neither of those, you can also use soy or other non-dairy cream, but only use two Tablespoons and increase the mustard if it needs to cut back on the sweetness
  • 1 1/2-2 teaspoon Indian Black Salt (aka, Kala Namak, that you will find at an Indian market or a good spice shop. It’s optional if you can’t find it, but it’s great because it has a slightly sulphuric smell, so it’s “eggy”)
  • 1/2 or a whole fennel, halved and thinly sliced (if you don’t like fennel, then use 1 celery stalk)
  • 2 green onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic granules (or 1 shallot, finely chopped)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon dill (fresh or dried)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons flax meal
  • 1-2 Tablespoons pine nuts (optional)

Method

Begin by slicing the tofu into small slabs and place in a small saucepan. Cover with water and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the tofu from the water and set it aside to cool and dry. This will help it absorb the flavours and firm up the texture even more.

Crumble the cooled tofu into a bowl. Use your hands to mash it up well get the texture of the tofu just right. You will know it when you see it.

In a smaller bowl, mix the spices, mustard, tahini or mayo and mix well. Add that mixture to the tofu, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Taste to see if it needs anything else and done! 

You could also chop a bit of spinach and throw it in the mix for a bit more nutrition, texture and taste. 

Some serving suggestions in the photos above and sprinkle pine nuts atop just before serving. 

The animals we love are no different from the animals we eat. If you are not vegan, please go vegan. It is easier than ever and http://www.howdoigovegan.com will help you get started. 

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Our Journey and Advocacy: Where The Two Roads Diverge

With a nod to Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”, here is my latest piece for Ecorazzi.

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And here is the poem itself, reprinted from Poetry Foundation

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.