Saturday, 22 December 2012

Vegan rougaille

The mother of a good friend of mine spent years living on the beautiful Indian Ocean island of la Réunion. Lucky her. This means that despite her Norman heritage, she's a dab hand at all sorts of fantastic creole dishes. Her rhum arrangé is to die for, and the rougaille recipe I'm going to share today is killer too.

Rougaille is essentially a spicy tomato sauce. It's often used as a condiment, but here the addition of beans makes it a perfectly balanced vegan main course. It's also especially good at clearing up colds. Maybe because it comes from a nice warm place.

Rougaille-saucisses is a tea my friend's mum made for us very often. She always cooked the saucisses part separately, so that I could enjoy the delicious spicy bean and tomato stew that is rougaille over rice. The internet tells me that every family has a different version of rougaille, lots of which seem to involve prawns and a variety of vegetables. I'm giving you Maryvonne's simple version, which I've tweaked a little, mainly to add more umame.

Serves 3-4


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
800g tin whole tomatoes
400g tin kidney beans
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp dried thyme, crumbled
1 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Marmite
1 Tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp sugar
Black pepper
A few good shakes of your favourite hot sauce
Optional, to serve: fresh parsley, spring onions, squeeze of lemon or lime

1. Warm the olive oil in a deep frying pan, and sweat the onion in it, covered and on medium heat, for a few minutes until transluscent. Add the garlic, ginger, herbs and spices, and fry for 1 minute.

2. Tip in the tomatoes and stir to remove tasty bits from the bottom of the pan. Break up the tomatoes a little (into 3-4 rough pieces each). Stir in the soya sauce, black pepper, Marmite, hot sauce, and sugar.

3. Simmer the sauce, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Add the drained kidney beans and simmer for 20 more minutes, until reduced and thickened.

Serve with rice and a side salad or cruncy vegetable of your choice. Extra hot sauce is always a good idea.

Vegan rougaille: not very photogenic, but cheap, easy, warming, and delicious.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Vegan waffles

...are really easy and delicious!

A dear, dear friend of mine has sadly bid farewell to Paris and gone to live in New York. My only consolation is that she has left me her waffle iron. So I have waffles on which to weep (and on which to pour maple syrup).

I used Isa's Gingerbread Waffle recipe from Vegan Brunch. Man, are they good?! A cheeky blogger has posted the recipe here, but I'd advise you to buy the book. That way, you'll also get your sticky mitts on the world's best vegan crêpe recipe, the definitive tempeh bacon recipe, and many more brunchy treats.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Gentle Gourmet Café

The Gentle Gourmet Café is brought to you by the good people behind the now-closed B & B of the same name, as well as Paris Vegan Day and other events. The café serves 100% vegan, upmarket French food. No alcohol is served, but - get this - you can BYO! There's not even a corkage charge.

I've eaten here twice now, and really enjoyed my meal both times. I took a flexitarian and an omnivore along too, for good measure.

The menu is concise but appetising and changes frequently. The majority of the ingredients are organic. Here's what we ate...

Tartiflette! This is a French classic, particularly favoured by ski enthusiasts in the Alps:

It's a creamy, cheesy bake of potatoes with lardons. Here, entirely veganised. It was tasty, although maybe could have done with a little more creaminess.

My flexi friend chose the portobello burger, which turned out to be super. fucking. delicious. Juicy mushrooms, great sauce, extremely generous side of chips and salad. We both loved it:

Then I took my omnivore along one evening (hence decreased quality of photos). He had the portobello burger on my recommendation. Now with fat chips:

He enjoyed it, but would have preferred a burger patty over the mushrooms and fried onions that Flexi and I found so delicious.

Since Omni and everyone else in the restaurant had ordered a burger, I felt obliged not to order a burger. They were out of the excellent-sounding cajun tempeh dish, so I chose the seitan bourguignon:

Yes, it comes served in a potimarron, that most delicious of winter squashes! The bourguignon itself contains seitan, juicy mushrooms, and some root vegetables. It's a great winter warmer and extremely filling, but I thought the sauce could have had deeper flavour and there could have been more of it. Still, a very tasty main course.

Then came something that put the biggest smile on my face since Vöner in Berlin: crème fucking brûlée.

I can't tell you how much I loved this. We were supposed to share it, but it didn't quite work out like that. The caramel topping was perfect, and cracking it with my spoon actually made me squeal with delight. Just call me Amélie. The sweet creaminess below was more solid than the eggy/milky versions I've seen people eat. I loved it though. Really, really loved it.

The Gentle Gourmet is a great place to go for swanky or romantic meals. It's also a great place to go for vegan crème brûlée. Seriously, I might go back in the middle of an afternoon just for that beauty.

24 Boulevard de la Bastille, 75012 (map)
Métro: Bastille (lines 1, 8, 5) or Gare de Lyon (lines 1 and 14, RERs A and D)
Opening hours:
Tues-Sat: 9am-11pm.
Sun: 11am-3pm for brunch and 11am-11pm for take-away.
Mon: 9am-7pm for take-away.