Today is the first day of our vegan adventure, inspired by the Veganuary campaign. We really should have started yesterday – what with it being the first day of January and all that – but we only got back from our trip on Saturday and we’d invited Linda for Sunday supper, so it didn’t seem appropriate. (Roast chicken with all the trimmings, followed by mince pies, since you ask).
So far, so good. Breakfast today was Bircher muesli, made with apples and almond milk – slightly on the soggy side for my liking, but Robin pronounced it delicious. Luckily, I’ve made a large supply of super-nutty toasted granola this afternoon, so I won’t have to put myself through that again.
I was up at the crack of sparrows, making vegan pizza for our walking lunch – luckily I already had the dough in the freezer, so I retrieved it last night, and it only entailed a bit of rolling and then smearing with some passata, followed by chucking a few things on top (no cheese, obvs) and then a quick bake. They were delicious – much nicer than our usual cheese sandwiches, but I am not sure that I want to be baking early morning pizzas on a regular basis, so I need to get more organised.
This evening, I made pasties, all the more inspired by the ‘swede’ that we picked up in Vienna and carried half way across Europe before sliding it surreptitiously past Turkish Customs. Unfortunately, when I ceremoniously slit it open this evening, it turned out to be a giant beetroot. And we get those here – in fact, this is possibly the beetroot capital of the world. *Sighs dramatically*
Onto my newest discovery: Aquafaba. No, me either, but watch and learn. It turns out to be the water that you get in a can of beans or chick peas – it has a similar protein structure to egg white (presumably from the proteins that are leached from the beans during the canning process), so it actually makes a great egg replacement for cakes and the like. This evening, I used the liquid from a large can of chick peas (falafel later in the week) to make carrot and banana muffins, plus the pastry for my pasties. Both have turned out surprisingly well – the pastry in particular is both crisp and crumbly at the same time. I may even last the month on this vegan malarkey at this rate. I still have loads of the bean water left, so I’ve frozen it in an ice cube tray for later bakes.
So, here’s the recipe for the swede-less vegetable pasties. As they have no steak or any swede, they are not at all Cornish, but are still delicious.
You need to rest the pastry in the fridge for at least half an hour; an hour is better or overnight is fine.
For the pastry:
200g plain flour
100g very cold vegetable margarine
2 tablespoons aquafaba (or you can just add more water)
2 tablespoons water (you may need to add a little more)
Salt and pepper
For the filling:
1 small potato
1 medium carrot
1 small onion
A piece of swede if you have one (not beetroot!)
1 small parsnip
A piece of leek (green end is fine – mine was about 15cm long)
A large handful of frozen peas
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
Plenty of ground pepper (white is good) and salt
You will need a baking tray, lined with non-stick baking paper
Put the flour into the food processor* and add the margarine, cut into cubes (or if it is too soft for that, just add in spoonfuls).
Pulse until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add the aquafaba and water and a pinch of salt and pepper, then pulse again until the mix starts to stick together. If this doesn’t happen, add more water, one tablespoon at a time.
Once the mix starts to clump together, tip it onto the worktop and knead gently for a few seconds until smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Meanwhile, peel the vegetables and chop into small pieces (about 1cm x ½cm). Put into a bowl with the peas and chopped parsley, add plenty of salt and pepper, a generous tablespoon of oil, then give it all good mix.
Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
Once the pastry has rested, split into two and roll out the first half (keep the other half of the pastry well wrapped). Use a small side plate as a cutter to cut out three circles (I had to re-roll my trimmings to get the third one). Repeat with the other half of the pastry, so that you get six pasties in all. If you have any filling left over, it can be frozen for another day.
Brush all around the edge of each circle with water or almond/soy/rice milk, then put a couple of dessert spoons of the filling in the centre, making sure you leave a border of at least a couple of centimetres.
Fold over to form a semi-circle and press the edges together firmly.
Crimp or fold the edge over to make sure it forms a good seal. Make a small hole in the top with the tip of a knife and place on the lined baking sheet.
Repeat with the other pasties (if you don’t want to bake them all, freeze them on a tray lined with baking paper, then place in a freezer bag – thaw overnight in the fridge when you want to use them).
Brush the pastry all over with more almond/soy/rice milk (I used almond), then bake for 30 – 35 minutes until golden brown.
I served ours with spicy potato wedges and baked beans, which reminded me quite a lot of school dinners, but was very yummy indeed after our long walk in the cold.
*If you don’t have a food processor, tip the flour and cubed margarine into a bowl and rub the fat gently into the flour until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Add the aquafaba (if using) and water, then mix with a table knife until the dough starts to come together. Tip onto the work top and knead gently until you have a smooth ball of dough.