It’s Veganuary in Yorkshire …and elsewhere, of course. I’m doing a little dance because I know a thing or two about vegan diets. My two daughters follow this plant-based way of eating and it’s not easy to find restaurants and shops that cater for it.
This month lots of restaurants, cafes and food retailers have made a huge effort and I hope they keep it up for the rest of the year because veganism is booming. I’m embracing it too this month, though for anyone thinking of becoming a full-time vegan do your research and make sure you get all your nutrients – B12, calcium and iron can be lacking if you aren’t careful.
One of my favourite restaurants, Alexander’s Bar and Kitchen in Skipton, will always cook up a great vegan dish if you want one, including a black pudding and white bean cassoulet, lentil and spinach dahl served with carrot and courgette bhaji and a chicory, pear and walnut salad, with a mulled seasonal fruit with meringue and vanilla and soya yogurt for pud.
It also has that rarity: a full vegan and gluten free Afternoon Tea.
It’s the sort of place you go for a treat. If you can’t make it but want to try a vegan pudding, Struan has shared the recipe below.
This dish uses some amazing seasonal fruit from the late harvest.
Ingredients for the mulled liquor:
350ml full bodied red wine
150ml ruby port
150gm light brown soft sugar
Juice and peel from one orange
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
5 black pepper corns
4 plums, firm but not bitter or hard
2 apples, something firm and sweet like a Cox, or a beautiful Lancashire Russet.
2 large pears, again something firm but sweet like a Comice
4 figs, preserved or fresh
Small bunch of red currants to garnish
Ingredients for the Vegan meringue:
Weigh out the liquid from a tin of chickpeas (it is the perfect replacement for egg whites!)
Weigh double the amount of sugar (to the chick pea liquid)
1tsp white wine vinegar
Zest of one lime and lemon to top the meringue
Ingredients for the vanilla and soya yoghurt:
250ml soya yoghurt
1 small tsp of vanilla paste or vanilla pod
35gm icing sugar
Set the oven to 50 degrees. This is perhaps best done the night before as the meringue is better when dried out slowly for a long period of time.
Take the liquid from the chickpeas and whisk with an electric whisk or in a mixer until it resembles fluffy egg whites in soft peaks. Still whisking, slowly add the sugar until
incorporated and the mixture is silky and glossy. Spread thinly on to a baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkle the citrus zest over and bake until dry and crisp. This will take some hours, probably over-night.
In a pan, add all the ingredients for the mulled liquid and bring to a simmer stirring to ensure all the sugar is incorporated. Do not boil as this will make the liquid bitter. Reduce slightly until it becomes a light syrup and remove from the heat.
Peel the pear and apple. Cut the fruit except the blackberries in to suitable quarters or
eighths depending on size. When the liquid is warm but not hot, place the fruit in it and cover with a cloth to weigh the fruit down. Allow to cool, best overnight, and the fruit will infuse and take in the colour of the liquid.
Lightly whip the soya yoghurt with the sugar and vanilla and reserve in the fridge.
When ready, remove the fruit from the liquid and assemble equal amounts in bowls, drizzle a little of the liquid over to create a pool in the bottom of the bowl. Place the blackberries on top for effect. Take a small spoonful of the yoghurt and dollop in the centre of the fruit, garnish with a small bunch of the red currants. Break off shards of the meringue and assemble at angles just over the yoghurt. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Please note: The meringue can be saved in an airtight container for up to 5 days.