Vegan MoFo day 8: Try the churros

A few weeks ago, Chadwiko and I booked ourselves some flights to Europe in December. The plan is to visit my family in Germany for Christmas, and travel around the place a bit. As novel as the snow is going to be, we’re not used to that kind of cold- so we decided on some relief in the form of a quick sojourn to Spain.

But of course, we couldn’t wait that long to sample some of the local cuisine. Tonight called for a treat that I first sampled on the streets of Paris, but which originated in Spain- churros.

Churros with chocolate dipping sauce

I seem to have temporarily misplaced my piping bag, so these are aesthetically less than perfect. But the recipe is from Viva Vegan, so of course they were delicious despite their ‘rustic’ hand-rolled appearance. The cinnamon sugar really makes these, and they pair perfectly with chocolate- in this case, the chocolate sauce from Vegan Brunch. These are rich and decadent, and needed something sweet and fruity to offset the chocolate. What better than the Spanish staple, ice-cold sangria?


Also from Viva Vegan, this recipe packs a punch! I used less brandy than called for, but it’s still quite strong- in a welcome way. It could never be said that there’s a bland recipe in Viva Vegan.

All we need now is some sunshine and an outdoor table at a Barcelona bar- can it be January already?

Vegan MoFo day 7: Double the fun

Walking into our local supermarket the other day, I was greated by the gaudiest of giant, brightly coloured signs hanging above the produce section, declaring that ‘mango season is here!’. A quick glance out the window at the rain and people trudging by in winter coats (that we thought we’d seen the last of) would seem to dispute this claim, but who am I to argue with such boldly proclaimed statements from fruit retailers? Regardless, I decided on the spot what I wanted to make- Taymer Mason’s much-revered Trinidadian doubles with green mango chutney, both from Caribbean Vegan.

More than any other cookbook I own, this one is an adventure and a learning experience. Caribbean food is uncommon and largely misrepresented here, so each recipe is an introduction to something completely new. Taymer’s take on the Trinidadian street food classic, doubles, is no exception.

Trinidadian doubles with green mango chutney

For those, like me, who had no idea what these things are, they’re a delicious chickpea curry wrapped in two bara- a fluffy fried bread, similar to naan. And they’re magical. Messy, but magical. I want to wrap everything in this bread, but I might just have to settle for putting this recipe on high rotation in our house. The green mango chutney pairs perfectly with these. In true Caribbean style, this chutney is a surprise in that it’s peppery, rather than sweet. Combined, this is probably one of my favourite home-style street foods yet.

To round out our Caribbean evening, I also made Taymer’s Caribbean lemonade.

Caribbean lemonade

Who would have thought that three ingredients (water, fresh lime juice and Angostura bitters) could be so wonderful? There is a fourth ingredient- agave or sugar syrup- but I’ll take mine unsweetened, thanks. Why mess with perfection?

For a meal that was technically four recipes, this came together reasonably quickly and couldn’t have been easier. Street food that’s delicious and actually convenient to make at home? Yes please. Of course, I’m not at all opposed to now paying a visit to Trinidad to try the local offerings- but a trip to buy a few lottery tickets might be in order first.

Vegan MoFo day 6: Khaosan classic

There was no way that a street food theme could pass without making glowing reference to Thailand. From the moment I crossed the Cambodian border into Aranyaprathet on my adventure across south-east Asia a few years ago, I was surrounded by the sights, smells and tastes of Thai street food. While we waited for our bus driver to have his bus inspected, the group of weary travellers that I’d joined sat down at an open, street side ‘cafe’ for our first taste. My first ‘real’ pad thai was a good one, and I was hooked.

A lot of the memories of my nights in Bangkok drift by in a Long Island iced tea-induced haze (to be fair, do you realise how cheap those things are on Khaosan Road?), but the food is always familiar. Sans-inhibitions and regard for my own gastrointestinal wellbeing, I sampled a lot. I was eventually punished with a stomach bug that persisted for weeks after I’d returned home, to the disgust of the doctor I visited who declared my illness to be my own fault for ‘going to those kinds of countries in the first place’ (I never saw him again). But there were no regrets.

Pad thai

I often make pad thai at home, without a recipe. But Vegan MoFo is all about trying new things, so this time I tried the pad thai tao hu from Hema Parekh’s Asian Vegan Kitchen- incidentally, the first vegan cookbook (along with Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World) that I ever bought, back at the Vegan Festival across the road from Chadwiko’s old house in 2008. I adore this book. Everything I’ve made from it has been great, but for some reason it remains relatively neglected on my shelf. I think the authenticity of the recipes has something to do with it- while super delicious, they’re not the most convenient dishes to throw together on short notice.

But it’s time for that neglect to change. This recipe is a good start! Using a few ingredients new to my pad thai bowl, like mooli (also known as daikon or white radish), chives and atsuage tofu (I usually just use extra-firm), this was a change in a very welcome way. Although a little less spicy than my usual concoctions, I loved the sour punch from the liberal use of tamarind. My only recommendation is to add more peanuts- but that’s just good advice for life, really.

While a little more effort than my typical haphazard pad thai, I’ll be turning back to this recipe for a treat, or for discerning guests who actually (gasp!) care about their food being pretty. It looks like the real thing, tastes like the real thing, but without the literal gut-wrenching feeling of participating in a game of bacterial Russian roulette.

Who am I kidding? I’d probably have eaten it even with the risk.

Vegan MoFo day 5: Sticking together is what good waffles do

Today’s leg of the Vegan MoFo international street food tour takes us to Belgium! I’ve been to Belgium twice. One of those times, I passed through it on a train and didn’t realise until it was long gone. Oops. The other time… well, it was equally eventful. I was about fourteen, and my family spent a couple of days in Brussels. As it turns out, Brussels is not that interesting to a fourteen year old. I remember precisely two things that I enjoyed about Brussels; my mother’s outrage that the hotel she’d booked was most likely an ex-brothel that had never been redecorated, and the status of waffles as a pervasive and delicious street food.

Ever since I figured out the secret to using my waffle maker (hint- it’s patience, or more accurately, not opening it and scowling at the resulting torn-apart waffles for having the audacity to not be cooked yet), pancakes have been a thing of the past in the Wiko house. Waffles were a natural choice for a sweet, street food treat.

Raised waffles

Waffles on the streets of Brussels come in many forms, with many accompaniments. On plates, in bags, shoved straight into a waiting mouth- but we all know that the best street foods come on sticks. Since waffles are traditional fare in Belgium, I went with a more traditional recipe than our usual peanut butter waffles- the raised waffles from Vegan Brunch. These use yeast, and the batter is set aside to rise. This gives the waffles a much lighter, more delicate texture- and the batter had a great yeasty flavour that made me really want a beer (have I unwittingly uncovered the delicious secret to the success of Belgium’s Trappist breweries?).

Between the beer and the waffles, Belgium, you’re not so bad. Let’s give it another go one day- but how about we meet in Bruges this time?