What, no bacon?
This post was sponsored by The Vegetarian Society, but all opinions are completely my own.
We’re not even talking regular vegetarian here. This is full on vegan you guys!!
Before I go any further, check out this link for FREE tickets to the Just V Show in London – A summer celebration of beautiful vegetarian and vegan food, drink and lifestyle products.
So I was asked to attend the Vegetarian Society Cookery School’s vegan cookery class last week, and in all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect
If you read the blog, you know that as a family we eat quite a lot of meat, but I do try to get a vegetarian meal in once a week. That usually consists of something with cheese and veggies (like these cheesy chickpea veggie burgers or spring vegetable risotto with creamy pesto). The idea of even serving up one vegan dinner at home immediately had me shaking my head.
I had a chat with the kids about what veganism means, and asked them to come up with a few vegan meal ideas. The best they could come up with was salad and nuts. Looks like they’re as educated as me on this subject!
So I drove over to the class fully expecting to be coming home with dressed up salad and vegetable recipes, with maybe a tofu based meal or two. I also wondered whether, being a meat-eater I might be tutted at during the class for freely admitting that I eat meat, and have no plans to remove it from my diet.
Boy was I wrong. Check out this plate of deliciousness!!
You’ll probably have spotted the highly successful Vegetarian Society Approved trademark on lots of things in the supermarket.
To compliment this, they’ve now launched their second trademark – the Vegetarian Society Approved vegan trademark. A stamp of approval to help vegans, or those who’d simply like to incorporate some vegan products, into their daily life. You should start to see the new trademark on products from late Summer.
The trademark is there to make it easier to find vegan foods, but also to give you peace of mind that those foods are 100% vegan (without having to scan the ingredients list armed with a food dictionary!)
Take a look at the bottom of the post for more info on the trademark.
As we entered the school, we were met by the Chief Executive herself – Lynne Elliot, who introduced the day. She also came over and told me she loved the Vegetarian Summer Tomato Pizza + Basil Garlic Butter recipe I made for National Vegetarian week a couple of weeks ago:
Everybody involved in managing and contributing to the class were absolutely lovely, and really keen to get across the message they’re passionate about helping people to incorporate more vegetarian and vegan food in their diet, but not bully them into becoming vegetarian or vegan.
Alex – the course tutor – was amazing. Funny, friendly, helpful and extremely passionate about making sure his class left with as many skills as possible to pull together a huge range of tempting vegan recipes.
So enough of the chit-chat – what did we learn and what did we cook?
The morning of the course was focused on initial kitchen skills – The seven of us on the course were taught expert onion/celery chopping, and making garlic paste with just a knife and a chopping board (Trust me to slap my hair back when there was a photographer around!).
We then moved onto some of the basics – like making vegan versions of:
- Pastry – we made a suet version for a savoury suet pudding
- Pasta – so simple to make, with great texture and taste – without the need for eggs!
- Mayonnaise – lighter than regular mayo, this version used soya milk emulsified with olive oil, then mixed with lemon juice and mustard. Really tasty and creamy.
- Meringues – Yay! I was waiting for the aquafaba to come out, and these meringues didn’t disappoint.
- Pesto – with basil, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, olive oil and a few other goodies. This was delicious – really packed with flavour, without the need for piles of parmesan.
Cue the bloggers taking snaps on their phones or doing endless Instagram stories!
As well as these goodies, the group split off to make a few extra recipes to eat for lunch –
Smoky pate with flatbreads – (the pate used braised tofu and chipotle and had a great spicy bite to it),
Quesadillas with guacamole:
By the time lunch was over, we were all raring to go with the slightly more complicated recipes that Alex had set out of us for the afternoon.
Everyone was given the support they needed – whether you wanted to just get on with it, or if you wanted to be guided through the process. All of the ingredients were already measured and laid out for us to use and the kitchen was set out in a way that we could work in a bustling, chatty and lively, kitchen, whilst still having the tools and facilities we individually needed (without having to wait for cookers etc).
I chose to cook Grenadian Oil Down – which is a type of spicy, coconut milk curry from Grenada:
As well as spices and scotch bonnet chilli (yep, it had a good kick to it), the curry includes tomatoes, spinach, vegan steak pieces and breadfruit. The vegan steak wasn’t really to my taste. It tasted a bit like an artificial sausage, and I think the curry tasted delicious without needing it. The breadfruit was a something I’d never come across before. We used the tinned version, which was kind of like tender, boiled potato:
I though it worked great in the curry – something I’d definitely make again.
Some of the other dishes of the day included paella, chocolate cake, granola berry parfait with cashew cream, M’hanncha (a fruit-filled filo pastry dessert), vegetable pastry plait, Thai mushroom soup with crispy wontons, chickpea and spicy aubergine tagine and pesto ravioli.
We had a big buffet at the end, and completely stuffed ourselves, along with a glass of wine (yep, there were more than a few photos of me scoffing!).
I came out of the day full of confidence and an armed with a pile of recipes (we got to take copies of the recipes home) that I can’t wait to test out on my bacon-loving husband.
I know this isn’t a vegan or vegetarian blog, but I’d love to know if you’re interested in seeing more vegan and vegetarian recipes on the blog. As always, I only post recipes on the food I love, so you can be sure that any recipes I do put up here will be just as satisfying as anything a meaty dish could offer!
Don’t forget to sign up for those FREE tickets to the Just V Show!
Here’s a little more info about the vegan trademark:
Shoppers can keep an eye out for the Vegetarian Society Approved vegan trademark, which
complements its highly-successful vegetarian one, on menus in cafés and restaurants, as well as
on-pack in supermarkets. These products are guaranteed to be free from:
• animal-derived ingredients,
• cross-contamination during production,
• animal testing, either directly or via commissioned processes.
Offering assurance that stringent checks have been made to ensure a product’s vegan
credentials, the trademark isn’t just available for edible items. Customers looking to remove
animal traces from their beauty and cosmetic products can also rely on the trademark to help
them choose the right personal care products.
Some of the first products to carry the trademark will be from Linda McCartney’s and VBites.
The Retreat Kitchen, Richmond, will be one of the first cafés to carry the Vegetarian Society
Approved vegan trademark across its entire home-made menu.