Piglet Power!

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Sweet holiday gift from Sophie’s godson Michael

Sophie has a real fondness for pigs, especially sows, alive ones and piglike forms. I am pretty sure one of her top holiday gifts was a pair of “pig trotter” socks that actually make her feet look rather like the “trotters of a middle white sow”. And another favorite is this set of egg cups sent to her here in London by her godson, Michael who lives in Edinburgh with his family. His mum, Gill, is a very long time friend of Sophie’s from her Somerville days.

Hmm…my little vegan brain was thinking when these arrived…what other uses might these cutie piglet bowls have? Mini pots of chocolate mousse was my first inspiration. I found a bar of nice dark ginger chocolate so I made Ginger Chocolate Mousse!

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Chocolate mousse filled piglets awaiting attention from human piglets

We served the mousse with blueberries and ginger cookies (Anna’s original Ginger Thins), and it was a big hit.

Ginger Chocolate Mousse
Serves 4

1 package organic silken tofu (300 grams)
1 bar dark ginger chocolate (I used Green and Blacks; 100 grams)
50 grams unflavored dark chocolate

fresh berries, for serving
Ginger thin cookies, optional

Open tofu package and drain off any liquid. Place tofu in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process the tofu until it is smooth, about a minute.

Melt chocolate in a clean dry glass bowl in the microwave or in the upper pot of a double boiler. If you use a microwave, heat chocolate for about 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between. It the chocolate gets too hot it can “break” and then it becomes very difficult to get it smooth again (don’t ask me how I know.)

Once fully melted, add the chocolate to the food processor with the creamy tofu and process until the mixture is very smooth. If it is too thick, you can add a tablespoon of plant-based milk, or favorite liqueur to thin. If it seems thin, don’t worry. It will thicken as it cools. Transfer into serving dishes ( I used the 4 pigpots and a larger short stemmed glass for the leftovers that served as seconds) and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with fresh berries and ginger thins, if using.

 

Our first dinner party in the flat!

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Thai Fresh Rolls with Peanut Sauce

This week we decided that we had enough space in the flat sorted to be able to entertain Clare and David, Sophie’s god parents and her mums best friends. Last minute preparations included repairing and reinforcing two of the four chairs for the table. Quite sweetly, the chair seats covers were needlepointed by Clare and by Sophie’s mum many years back.

Clare and I are both kitchen alphas and foodies and they so graciously feed us whenever we are around so it is always a pleasure when we are able to make a meal for them. I suggested two different menus to Sophie and she chose the Thai-themed one thinking it might be more of a treat for Clare and David.

I think perhaps the fresh rolls with peanut sauce were the biggest hit. Sophie and I love these and get them whenever we are at a Thai restaurant that serves a veggie version of them. We have a place at home near school, Thai Kitchen, that serves excellent ones. They are basically salad fixings wrapped in softened rice “paper” sheets served with peanut sauce and chili paste for dipping. Recipe below.

It was an adventure trying to find the rice paper wraps, but I found them at a store in Ealing Broadway called Organic for the People, which is an all organic and vegan grocery store with products from all over the world. It is here that I found rice vinegar and the silken tofu for making dessert.

And, I made the peanut sauce twice. The first batch had slightly dodgy peanut butter. I smelled and thought, this isn’t right (but I am sensitive to that off smell of oxidized oils). I thought maybe my nose was being overly sensitive, but it still had that smell and taste when made into peanut sauce. Sophie, despite not minding the taste, very sweetly went to the lane to purchase a new jar of peanut butter.

For the mains, we had sweet chili basil eggplant, bok choy with shitake mushrooms and ginger, red curry green beans, dry fried tofu with Thai spices, basmati rice, and an avocado and cucumber salad over slaw made from the unused julienned vegetables for the salad rolls.

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Sweet chili basil eggplant with peppers, basil and scallions
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Bok choy with shitake and oyster mushrooms with ginger and garlic
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Dry-fried tofu in a glass dish (the food is not sitting on the table cloth)
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A variation on my mom’s cucumber and avocado salad dressed with lemon pepper and rice vinegar

 

Fresh Rolls
Makes 10 to 12 rolls

1 nest rice noodles (nests or angel hair style–thin)–about 2 cups prepared
1 large carrot, grated
2 cups, thinly sliced cabbage
2 cups baby spinach or lettuce leaves
1/2 to 1 cup fresh basil, fresh mint and/or fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)
1/2 large sweet red pepper, cut into thin slivers
2 small or 1/2 large thin skinned cucumber, peeled and cut into thin slivers
2 scallions (green onions), white and green parts, thinly sliced longwise and cut into 2 inch long pieces

1 package large rice paper wraps (about 8″ in diameter)

Other optional fillings: thin slices of baked tofu, avocado slices, other raw julienned vegetables.

Cook noodles according to package direction (usually soaked in boiled water for 8 to 10 minutes). Drain and set aside to cool to room temperature. Prepare fillings and set them near each other for making the rolls.

One at a time, soak a rice paper wrapper in very hot water (but not too hot for your fingers) for about 2 minutes until it softens enough to roll. Remove the wrap from the water and put in on a flat surface (I use a plate). Pile small amounts of each of the vegetable and noodles into the wrap in a log shape in the middle of the wrap, taking care not to overfill it. Then fold in the ends of the short side of the log and then fold one of th remaining sides over the pile of vegetables and roll as tightly as you can without breaking the wrap, like you might when making a burrito.

Set on a serving plate seam side down and cover with plastic. Continue on in the same manner until you have used up your fillings or your wraps.

Keep covered with plastic wrap (cling film) until ready to serve. Serve with peanut sauce and chili sauce/paste for dipping.

Peanut Sauce
4 generous portions

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup water
1-2 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
1-2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon, chili sauce (optional)

roasted peanuts, chopped or crushed
chili sauce

In small food processor or blender, blend first 7 ingredients together until smooth. If mixture is too thick add more lime juice or water to thin. Serve topped with crushed peanuts with chili sauce on the side.