Raw Chocolate Cheesecake from Lucy Bee

Regular readers of my little blog will know that I’m not a huge fan of cooking, but¬†as we’d planned to make our own New Year’s Eve feast, Phil and I wanted a homemade pudding from scratch. Phil received the Lucy Bee Coconut oil cookbook for Christmas and we saw a¬†delicious looking raw chocolate cheesecake recipe and decided to give it a try.

The great thing about this cookbook is not only that it’s full of healthy recipes, but all the recipes are clearly labeled as to whether they are gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, lactose free, vegetarian or vegan. Lots of the non-vegan recipes can be veganised so it’s well worth getting if you’re interested in cooking with coconut oil more. There are also a few beauty recipes so you can make your body scrub, among other things.

Raw Chocolate cheesecake

The recipe is easy and straightforward to follow. The only difficulty I had was blitzing the cashew nuts after soaking because I don’t have a food processor but we managed to create a cashew butter, even it meant sacrificing my hand blender! Once you’ve made the cheesecake, you have to put it in the freezer, which is easy enough. The recipe says you need to take it out of the freezer for 10 minutes before serving, but I found this wasn’t long enough by any stretch. We found it needed to be out of the freezer for a good hour before it was defrosted enough to cut and then it needed a little bit longer before we could eat it. Instead of serving it with creme fraiche, we used Oatly cream, which I received in my Archie Browns hamper. It’s so good. You wouldn’t notice the difference between it and regular cream. The cheesecake keeps well, and we’ve still got a few slices left. As it’s full of natural goodness, even if you’re detoxing, you can allow yourself this!

New Year Vegan Feast

For the last few years, Phil and I have welcomed in the new year with a take away. It’s easier than cooking giving us more time to get onto that second bottle of prosecco. However, we’ve recently been cutting back on takeaways, and we’ve realised that a lot of the time, we prefer what we cook to what we get from takeaways. So we decided that this year, we’d cook something ourselves and we decided on a curry. Armed with a good quality shop bought curry sauce, a packet of vegan Quorn and ingredients for chapatis and bhajis, we set about creating our new year feast.

Vegan Curry dinnerHomemade vegan onion bhajisIt kind of went okay. The bhajis were delicious and I almost couldn’t stop eating them. The chapatis were okay, though I couldn’t get chapati flour so they weren’t as soft as they should be. I had to substitute wholemeal flour in its place, which works okay, but it’s not ideal. The shop bought sauce and vegan Quorn pieces weren’t that tasty in comparison with the freshly homemade extras. I think I need to get a few vegetable curry sauces under my belt so we don’t have to buy sauces. We’ve got most of the spices so it shouldn’t be that hard, right?

The best thing was having enough bhajis left over for lunch the next day. I had some wraps in the freezer which I used, put some vegan mayo and French’s Deli relish, along with a couple of bhajis and some salad leaves. They were so good! I’m so pleased I didn’t eat them all New Year’s eve!

Vegan bhaji wraps
To make the bhajis, you need the following:

  • Two cups of gram flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed coriander seeds (though 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander will do)
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 onion
  • 2 handfuls of fresh spinach
  • At least one cup of water, though probably two. You want to add it slowly, whisking as you go, so that you end up with a gloopy batter, but not liquid
  • plenty of oil for frying
  1. Sieve the gram flour into a bowl and add all the spices. Mix.
  2. Gradually add the water, mixing as you go, so that you end up with a thick batter.
  3. Chop the onion and the spinach. Then add to the batter.
  4. Give the batter a good mix so that all the onion and spinach is covered in the batter.
  5. Heat the oil in a wok. When it’s really hot, carefully add spoonfuls of the batter mix to oil.
  6. Keep an eye on the bhajis and when they’re cooked on one side, carefully turn them.
  7. When the bhajis are brown on both sides, carefully remove them from the oil and leave them to drain on some kitchen paper.
  8. When cool enough to avoid burning you mouth, enjoy until you can eat no more!

I got this recipe years and years ago from a cooking class I went on. It was pretty good, though this is the only thing I’ve made in about ten years! If you do have any leftovers, it might be worth warming them through to get the most out of their deliciousness. Enjoy!

Tuesday Treat – Homemade Nutella

I have a chocolate hazelnut spread addiction. So much so that I cannot have it in the house. This is because I will find any excuse to eat it and if I can’t, then I’ll go at it with a spoon until it’s all gone. So when I came across this recipe on Minimalist Baker, I knew that I had to make it.

Armed with plenty of hazelnuts and high hopes, I set about making Easy Vegan Nutella with four ingredients. It was surprisingly easy. (Okay, I know it’s called ‘Easy Vegan Nutella’ but this is me making it and I can ruin oven pizza!) I slightly overdid roasting the hazelnuts, so when it was first made, it did have a bit of a burnt tinge, but that passed over time (not that it was around for long!) I used raw cacao for my chocolate, instead of melted chocolate, as we always have that in the house and it was easier. Removing the skin from the hazelnuts was pretty straightforward too, it just took a little time. The nutella works well on croissants, in wraps, on toast and straight from the jar!

Croissants and homemade vegan nutellaHomemade Nutella and banana wrap Homemade nutella wrapHomemade nutella on toastI will definitely make this again, as it was so easy and I’ve since seen skinless hazelnuts in Holland & Barrett so might try those next time, just to save a little time (‘cos this recipe isn’t easy enough, right?!) And I thought this might make a great Christmas gift next year. Fyi, I tried the JusRol make at home croissants and I’m not sure whether it was our oven or if I did something wrong, but they weren’t great. They didn’t really rise and for me, they weren’t worth it. I’ll stick to eating my nutella from a spoon thanks!

TV Recommendations – January 2016

I watch a lot of TV. I have no shame in this. It’s something I enjoy doing, it doesn’t cost very much and for me, it’s a great way to unwind after a busy day. Because of that, I get through a lot of TV, some good, some great, some awful but it passes the time!

One of the things I do enjoy about the winter months is that when it’s dark and miserable outside, you can be cosying up inside without feeling guilty about it. Over the Christmas break, Phil and I planned to do some serious sitting, as like most people, we had such a busy run up to the holidays. Here’s what we got our teeth into:

January 2016 TV recommendations

{Making a Murderer – Netflix || Fargo Series 2 – iTunes || The Bridge Series 3 – BBC4 || Homeland Series 5 – Channel 4}

Making a Murderer popped onto my Netflix ‘Recently Added’ and I didn’t think much about it, but then I started seeing some Twitter and Facebook support for it. I gave it a go on my own, and before long realised that, due to it’s similarities to Serial, in that it’s a true crime documentary, I thought Phil might like it too so we watched it together. I think it’s fair to say that we were gripped by it very quickly. I know that the justice system isn’t perfect in any country, and I’ve seen plenty of CSI and crime dramas to know (or think I know!) certain things you’d need to prosecute someone (thank you, Good Wife!) but this documentary leaves you reeling. There were so many times when I’d say, ‘That’s circumstantial evidence!’ or ‘Where’s the DNA?’ I don’t want to give too much away as it’ll spoil it, but it certainly has you questioning everything you thought you knew about crime and police work.

I really liked the first series of Fargo, in fact, I thought it was better than the film it was based on. I didn’t really hold out much hope for series 3, so much so that we didn’t watch it when it was on Channel 4. We had to buy it from iTunes after we thought we’d give it a go over the holidays. We both loved it! It’s so different to the first series, but charming, funny and dramatic all the same. Plus, you get to say things like ‘aw, jeez’ all the time. Brilliant viewing.

After the way series two of The Bridge ended, I wasn’t really sure what to expect of series three. Personally, I think this was the best series yet. Saga was her usual fascinating self, but there were lots of other twists and turns that showed some of her different sides. The new characters really added to the mix and the main murders that Saga was investigating had me scratching my head. I had no idea who was behind them, gruesome and weird though they were. Don’t be put off by the subtitles. This is really an excellent series.

To be honest, I thought Homeland had had its day. I thought the last series was a bit boring so I only put this on while I was washing up. However, this series was sooooo much better than the last one. It was back to its brilliant, intriguing and fascinating roots. Carrie was back on top form. She no longer works for the CIA but that doesn’t stop her getting embroiled in a new security threat. As the main story in the series reflects modern life in a scarily accurate way, it makes for unmissable viewing. I hope this return to form continues with series 6.