Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Un Monde Vegan - Paris's vegan supermarket

It's actually more of a mini-market, but I'm certainly not complaining. Un Monde Vegan ('a vegan world') had been operating online for a few years before opening a shop here in Paris.

The online business is still going strong, and you can order pretty much any vegan essentials and treats via them if you're elsewhere in France. In my experience, they send your food delights quickly, safely, and coolly.

Back to the vegan supermarket in Paris. It's very conveniently located (for me at least) near République (lines 3, 5, 8,  9, 11).

The selection of vegan speciality products is out of this world. It's almost as good as that huge Union Square Whole Foods I went wild in when I was in New York. Un Monde Vegan stocks a huge selection of vegan cheeses, sausages, sandwich slices, ice creams, burgers, nuggets, mayonnaise, milks, spreads, chocolates, flours, and you get the gist. They even carry the elusive liquid smoke I've been making my friends smuggle back from the US with them for years.

Here's a fairly typical haul for your viewing pleasure. That Wilmersburger cheese didn't last long, I can tell you:

Un Monde Vegan
64 Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth
Métro: République (lines 3, 5, 8, 9, 11) or Strasbourg St Denis (lines 4, 8, 9)


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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Paupiettes de bettes arc-en-ciel - Rainbow chard parcels

Paupiettes are usually little bundles of veal wrapped in solid animal fat. Think that's gross? Try this elegant veganised paupiette recipe instead. Clean and simple flavours = classy, innit.

6 rainbow chard stalks and leaves
3/4 cup brown rice
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock/ bouillon
2 shallots, minced
2 handfuls raisins or sultanas
2 lemons
1 pinch saffron strands
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

  1. Wash your chard, and then cut out the stalks from the leaves like so. Slice the stalks thinly width-wise. Reserve the leaves.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a deep sauté pan on medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until starting to soften (2-3 minutes). Add the chopped chard stalks to the pan, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, rinse the rice briefly. You don't want to remove all the starch, else the grains will be too separate and refuse to form a nice filling for your parcels. Add the drained rice to the sauté pan, and stir to coat all the grains of rice in the oil and cooking juices.
  4. Juice and zest one lemon. Add the pinch of saffron strands to the juice in a small bowl. Add the zest to the rice and vegetable mixture and stir.
  5. Pour 1.5 cups stock into the pan. Then pour in the saffronned lemon juice, add the raisins, and stir. Bring to a boil, stir once more, lower heat, and cover. Cook, covered apart from the occasional stir, until the rice is tender - about 35-45 minutes, depending on your rice's willingness to get cooked.
  6. While the rice cooks, blanch your chard leaves. Put a small pot of water on to boil. When boiling, drop in the chard leaves one by one, leaving each submerged for 30 seconds. It's better to blanch them one by one, to keep a track of time. Drain the leaves. They can drain together without sticking to each other, which is a nice surprise.
  7. The rice should be cooked by now. If it looks too wet, cook a little longer uncovered. If it dries out before fully cooked, add a little more stock. Let the rice cool before filling the parcels. To assemble, just bundle a couple of tablespoons of rice into the centre of each leaf, and fold up.
  8. Place the parcels in an oven-proof dish. Add a cup or so of stock to the dish. Cook for 15 minutes at 180°C.
  9. Serve with a little of the stock, a wee grating of lemon zest, and a squiggle of olive oil poured over the top.
Omni says "a bit like eating delicious cigars" and "bloody gorgeous".

Monday, 28 October 2013

The Vegg: vegan egg yolk

Does the idea of a vegan egg yolk freak you out? Yeah, it kind of freaked me out at first. But worry not, the Vegg is simply a mix of natural ingredients (like nutritional yeast and black salt) to which you add water. It then becomes very similar to egg yolk, in a space food magic kind of way. It's tasty and useful.

A couple of weeks ago, the lovely people behind the Vegg sent me a fabulous parcel containing a sachet of their very exciting vegan egg yolk, as well as the nifty cookbook that provides plenty of ideas and recipes for what to do with this great new product.

I didn't waste long in getting started. I decided to begin at the beginning, by just making up a couple of yolks' worth of the product. All you do is use an immersion blender to combine a teaspoon of Vegg with a quarter cup of water. Whizz, and you have something very very closely resembling egg yolk, but without harming any chickens. Marmite soldiers made a perfect dipping accompaniment.

Then this got me craving scrambled eggs: my favourite way to eat the things back in my pregan days. So I made a super simple tofu scramble, adding a quarter cup of prepared Vegg. Very much like scrambled eggs indeed! It doesn't look it, but it tastes it.

Most recently, I added Vegg to a pasta carbonara made with oat cream and a touch of nutritional yeast, with tempeh bacon crumbles standing in for the lardons.

This is the very best Vegg use I've found so far. Creamy, rich, delicious, and with that very special mouth-feel that I thought only egg could add. Success!

Tempted? If you're in France, you can get hold of the Vegg through Un Monde Vegan. If you're elsewhere in the world you have a load of options.

This post was brought to you by the colour yellow.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Vegan Prague

Oh my God, Prague is great. And despite it being a land swimming in butter and pork, eating vegan in Prague is actually quite easy, and often quite delicious.

Our first meal was at Country Life, a vegetarian buffet place near the Old Town Square (address: Melantrichova 463/15). The sauerkraut and potatoes were both amazing, but some of the protein patty things were a bit odd/unexpectedly cold.

My plate:

Omni's plate. Omni loves potatoes more than anyone else on earth:

The restaurant itself is nice, clean, and airy. Free water too!

Next up, Beas vegetarian Indian buffet. This was my favourite meal in Prague. We went to the branch at Tynska 19, which is located in a little courtyard. The vegan options were clearly labelled, and everything we tried was delicious. Free water here, also! Amazingly tasty samosa, great curries, and perfect pickles and chutneys.

Loveg only opened this summer, but seems to be doing good business already. It also happens to be located just a few doors down from our hotel (the Golden Star) at Nerudova 36, so it would have been rude not to pay them a visit.

I started with the quesadilla: garlicky aubergine, vegan cheese, and a tasty salsa all grilled to perfection and served with good guacamole and a nice side salad:

Omni had a momentary lapse and ordered a raw soup. We're not sure what flavour it was. He liked it, I thought it tasted like liquid dust:

Then I had the 'vegan sirloin', which was advertised as coming with a cream sauce and dumplings. In fact it was just strips of tempeh (delicious! There's a tempeh famine going on in Paris and I haven't been able to find any for months), sitting on what tasted like reduced carrot soup. The dumplings looked exactly like those I'd seen at meaty restaurants. And there was jam. Czech food seems to like mixing sweet and savoury. I wasn't a huge fan:

Omni had some broccoli patty things, served with great black beans and awful mash which managed to be everything you don't want from mash: cold, gluey, AND lumpy all at once. The beer was delicious.

We didn't just eat at vegan/vegetarian restaurants. Getting hold of animal-friendly food at 'normal' Prague restaurants wasn't as difficult as I'd feared, and I enjoyed the following:

Crispy fried cauliflower at a tiny one-man, one-woman operation:

Spaghetti aglio-olio. This is actually on the menu at quite a few (non-Italian) restaurants, and I had it twice. This was the better version:

And some simple, tasty grilled vegetables enjoyed on a reverside terrace in the sunshine.

Bonus beasties spotted as we walked about. This guy was tootling along on his way home after a night on the tiles:

If the male is a peacock and the female is a peahen, what is the baby? A peachick?

Monday, 7 October 2013

Sojabio - Tartine & Moi - A new French vegan cheese

New cheese, new cheese! This spreadable, Boursin-style vegan cheese is very similar to Tartimi by Sojami. In fact, it's pretty much identical. In fact, it could be the same product with a new name.

It's made with organic fermented soya grown in South-West France, so no need to worry about rainforest destruction. The five-pepper flavour reminds me very much of the peppery Boursin that I loved so much in my pregan days.

Sojabio Tartine & Moi is great spread on bread.

Sadly it doesn't react well to heat: it's more of a spread than something you'd eat hot. But hey, I love spreading things on bread.

So far, I've only found this delicious stuff in the fantastic, Whole Foods-esque, Carrefour Bio, which just so happens to be round the corner from my house.

Omni says: "It tastes like cheese!".

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A few of my favourite blogs (Vegan mofo 2013 XXIII and final)

It's been a busy blogging month. In case you haven't gathered by now, Vegan mofo is a month in which loads and loads of vegan bloggers go all out and write at least 20 posts on their blogs. There's a small but wonderful team behind the vegan month of food, who have organised giveaways as well as creating roundups of some of the best posts.

I chose a theme of French foods for this, my first vegan mofo. I've eaten some really delicious things like this plum tart wot I made up, and these creamy tomatoes courtesy of Elizabeth David. I'm also now thoroughly sick of French food. I want spice. I want coconut milk. I want tempeh. And I want them all now.

One of the best parts of mofo has been discovering a whole load of great blogs that I didn't know about. Today, for your reading pleasure, here are some of my favourites, which I know I'll be returning to again and again.


Wonderful recipes for 'world cuisine' dishes, with a special focus on Mediterranean (and especially Turkish) food this month.

Vegan miam

Beautiful photography used to document the adventures of a pair of world travellers. Insanely useful if you're planning a trip!

Spicebox of Earth

Reviews, recipes, slices of life, horror films, and a beautiful doggy to boot!


Super original recipes, with a theme of Russian foods this month. PLUS VODKA.

Seitan is my Motor

Beautiful photos of beautiful vegan German food. This month, a special focus on German desserts. Effin' lecker.

The Vegan Word

Inventive, delicious-looking food with the great mofo theme of 'also suitable for non-vegans'.

Tea and Sympatico

Great guide to vegan Manchester. Amazing exploration of the Northern Quarter this month.

Leaves and flours

Stunning vegan baked goods and sweet treats. You will drool.

Interprétations Culinaires

Delightful bilingual blog full of pretty pictures. Also, a vegan croissant recipe!

There are lots and lots more great blogs out there of course. Congratulations to one and all on your fabulous blogging this month!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Cassoulet (vegan mofo 2013 XXII)

A French friend of mine was complaining about the weird food he'd been given when on a language exchange in England. "What type of thing?", I asked. "They eat cassoulet for breakfast", he replied. Presumably he was talking about those tinned Heinz baked beans with sausages. Not quite cassoulet, but hey.

Cassoulet is quite possibly France's best one-pot meal. They love it so much that there's even a Fellowship of the Cassoulet: a guild of folk who take cassoulet so seriously that they dress in funny clothes and parade around shouting about how much they love the stuff. Ahh, France.

The traditional version(s) of this dish include(s) lots and lots of different meats: sausages, pork belly, confit duck, chicken carcasses and more. This vegan version has three different meaty-type things, as well as lots of vegetables and mushrooms (plus a couple of secret ingredients) to add depth of flavour.

Vegan cassoulet recipe

250g dry white beans, soaked overnight (at least 12 hours)
3 smoked vegan sausages
3 other vegan sausages of your choosing
2 generous handfuls large TVP chunks
2 carrots, diced
1 leek, washed and sliced into 1cm rounds
4-6 fredh mushrooms
8 slices/pieces dried cèpe/porcini mushrooms
500g passata/sieved tomatoes
3 cloves garlic (peeled and left whole)
5 Tbsp olive oil
3 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp marjoram
1 pinch powdered sage
1/2 tsp Marmite
1 Tbsp Bisto powder
1.5 litres water
Salt & pepper

  1. Heat the oil in a big fat pot. When hot, tip in the sausages whole. If you have nice big fat American sausages, a) halve them lengthways and b) send me some. Now tip in the prepared carrots, leek, and fresh mushrooms. Cook on high until slightly browned.
  2. Once everything in the pan is golden, remove the sausages. Now pour in the water and scrape to remove any tasty bits stuck to the bottom. Drain the beans from their soaking water, rinse, and add to the pot. Drop in the TVP chunks, garlic, dried mushrooms, and herbs and bring to a boil.
  3. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to a very gentle simmer and cover the pot. Cook for an hour and a half to two hours, stirring gently every 20 minutes or so. When the beans are tender, stir in the Bisto and Marmite.
  4. If the cassoulet still looks too saucy, cook on high without the lid to reduce, until the sauce is rich and thick but not dry. Return the sausages to the pot to heat through.
  5. Serves six, with good crusty bread for dipping. Verdict from Omni: "top drawer! Helen, this is a triumph".

Vegan mofo 2013: over and out! It's been fun!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Salade niçoise rien à foutre - I don't give an eff salade niçoise (vegan mofo 2013 XXI)

Those Southerners get pretty proprietorial about their recipes, and salade niçoise is no exception. The internet is peppered with angry-sounding Niçois declaring what you may and may not include in a salade niçoise.

Well to them, I say rien à foutre. I'll include the things I like in this salad, and leave out the things I don't. What are you going to do about it? Come up to Paris and have words with me? Yeah, I thought not. Southern softies.

Here are a few of my favourite things thrown together in a tasty vinaigrette and given the thoroughly incorrect name 'salade niçoise':

2 very good tomatoes
6 small potatoes (rattes work well)
4 small artichoke hearts
2 generous handfuls green beans
8 olives
1 scant Tbsp capers

3 Tbsp very good olive oil
1 Tbsp red or white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, grated or crushed
Salt and pepper

  1. First, get your potatoes on to boil in salted water until tender. I like to leave the skins on for the health and texture benefits. To save time and water, you can add the green beans to the same pot 3-5 minutes before the potatoes are done. When they're tender, drain and allow to cool. 
  2. Meanwhile, assemble the rest of the salad: cut the tomatoes into wedges and do the same with the artichoke hearts if they're whole. Stick them in a large salad bowl. Add the olives and capers. When the boiled vegetables are cool, throw them in too, cutting the potatoes into bite-sized chunks if they're large.
  3. Now make the vinaigrette by forking all the ingredients together in a mug, or shaking them up in a clean jam jar. Pour over the salad ingredients and toss to combine. Check seasoning. Serves two to three. Omni says: "A bit garlicky, but delicious".

The good thing about not using lettuce leaves here is that you can make the salad ahead of time. Nothing will wilt, and the ingredients will soak up the delicious vinaigrette and get to know each other. Great for picnics. You can always take along a few lettuce leaves to serve it on if you don't agree with lettuce-free salad - I don't give an eff.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Tapenade (Vegan mofo 2013 XX)

It's my 20th mofo post! Hooray, hoorah, huzzay, huzzah! That means I don't *have* to write any more posts this month. But I have a feeling I will anyway, because I want to make you thoroughly sick of me.

Anyway, today I made tapenade. Helpfully, Felicity Cloake at the Guardian recently explored how to make the perfect tapenade, so I used her recipe as a guide.

I'm lucky enough to live on a street lined with great food shops in addition to the daily market. One of my favourite shops is Sabah/Sabbah, which sells a wonderful selection of North African and Middle Eastern delights: everything from pomegranate molasses to lavash. They also have a fantastic help-yourself olive bar, which is where I got the plump little beauties above.

Tapenade recipe

200g good-quality olives (with the stones still in)
3 Tbsp capers
1 large clove garlic, crushed or grated
2 big pinches dried thyme, rubbed between your thumb and index finger
Juice of half a lemon
4 Tbsp best olive oil

  1. First, stone your olives. This isn't as grim as it sounds: just cut each olive lengthwise along the stone, and then prise the two halves apart. Tip your capers, crushed garlic, and rubbed thyme in with the olives.
  2. Blitz the mixture to a coarse purée. Chunky bits are fine. To save on washing up, I did this in a jug with an immersion blender, but a food processor works too.
  3. Add the lemon juice and stir. You may not need the whole half lemon, depending on how juicy your lemon is.
  4. Add the olive oil and stir very well to combine. Taste to see if you want to add any more lemon juice.

This makes a small bowl of luscious tapenade. It's quite a loose mixture, which I prefer to the crumbly/solid tapenades which taste like insanely salty soil. The loose texture also makes it great for dribbling over salads to add punch. The tapenade's flavours will only improve if you leave it in the fridge overnight so they can get to know each other and compare salty stories.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Sauce vierge (Vegan mofo 2013 XIX)

Wikipedia tells me that this simple and delicious sauce was popularised by Michel Guérard. Thank you, wikipedia. Sauce vierge ('virgin sauce') is fresh, light, and perfect for the Indian Summer which has finally arrived in Paris.

You don't need much to make a sauce vierge:

Juice of half a lemon
4 Tbsp good olive oil
1 tomato
10 basil leaves
Salt & pepper

  1. Dice your tomato finely and discard the seeds. Chiffonade your basil.
  2. In a bowl, cover the tomato and basil with the lemon juice and olive oil. Season, stir, and leave to macerate for an hour or so.
People like to serve this easy, tasty sauce with seafood. I happen to like sea creatures, so I served it over a courgette carpaccio. It'd make a great pasta salad dressing too.

Popular additions to the sauce include crushed coriander seeds, shallots, and even capers. I chose to keep it as simple and virtuous as something called 'virgin sauce' should be.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Soupe à l'oignon - French onion soup (Vegan mofo 2013 XVIII)

Everyone has their own personal hangover cures. A barman friend in Normandy swears by a glass of dry white wine sipped as slowly as humanly possible. I'm partial to a bloody mary. An ex-boyfriend of mine insists on "beans on toast and a wank". Many a Frenchman relies on onion soup to help him out the morning after the night before. I guess it's kind of like chicken soup for the French soul.

4 big onions
3 Tbsp vegan margarine
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup white wine
1 tsp thyme, crumbled between your fingers
6 cups rich vegetable stock (make your own if you have time)

  1. Slice the onions into thin half moons. Heat the oil and margarine in a big, heavy-bottomed pot. When the marge had melted, tip in the onions and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. When the onions are very soft, turn the heat up to high and cook for another few minutes, stirring often, until some of the onions are lightly browned.
  3. Sprinkle on the flour and sugar. Stir.
  4. Pour in the white wine and allow to cook for two minutes, stirring.
  5. Pour in the stock and sprinkle on the thyme. Simmer on medium heat for at least half an hour.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Galettes Bretonnes - Savoury Breton Pancakes (Vegan mofo 2013 XVII)

It's easy enough to buy these savoury Breton buckwheat pancakes, but since my vegan mofo theme is veganising French foods I thought I try making them from scratch. Plus, the ones you buy in the shops are perfectly round. Why eat perfectly round galettes when you could eat ones shaped like this:

Or like this?

Ok, my galettes are shaped like islands drawn by a four-year-old child, but they taste really good.

Galettes bretonnes - Breton buckwheat pancakes recipe

2 cups buckwheat flour
3 cups water
Generous pinch salt
A few tsps sunflower oil for frying

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre, volcano-style, and add the water. Whisk to combine. You should end up with the consistency of crêpe/English pancake batter.
  2. Leave the batter to rest for a couple of hours. Whish again just before cooking.
  3. Heat up your finest frying pan over high heat with a drop of oil. Then pour in a ladle of batter, and swirl round to fill out the pan as well as you can. If you can't, never mind: you'll get island-shaped pancakes like mine.
  4. Cook for about two minutes, until firm and golden. Then flip and cook for a further minute.
  5. Fill with whatever you feel like. Tofu scramble is a good choice, and so is Tartimi. This amount of batter makes about a dozen Mr Messy-shaped pancakes.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Tarte tatin (Vegan mofo 2013 XVI)

I'm not a confident dessert maker. I'm scared of how easy it is to mess one tiny thing up and have it completely ruin your finished dessert. You should have seen the fear in my eyes while I was making this vegan tarte tatin.

I used this recipe as a basis for my tarte tatin, with a few fear-induced tweaks. Guess what, it turned out fine! Had I been less afraid, I would have let the initial caramel become darker, but I chickened out so it's a bit peely-wally. Still delicious!

Vegan tarte tatin recipe

8 medium-sized apples
Juice of half a lemon
150g sugar
150g vegan margarine
1 small pinch salt
1 roll ready-made shortcrust pastry (I cannot describe the fear I feel at the thought of making my own pastry!)

  1. First, prepare your apples: put the lemon juice in a mixing bowl and top up with a pint or so of water. Then peel all your apples, dropping each one into the lemony water once you've peeled it. Once they're all peeled, take one out, quarter it, and remove the core. Then drop each cored quarter back into the lemony water.
  2. Now the caramel: put the sugar, margarine, and pinch of salt in a heavy-bottomed pan on high heat. Shake the pan around (don't stir) until the margarine is all melted and bubbling up with the molten sugar. This is when I chickened out, but if you're feeling brave, let the caramel get good and golden: that's what I'll do next time.
  3. Now remove your apple quarters from their lemony bath and add to the caramel. Cover and cook on medium-high for 10 minutes, shaking the pan a few times.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C. Now tip the apples and caramel into a round oven-proof dish. Let cool for 10 minutes. If you're lucky enough to have a pan that goes both on the hob and in the oven, there's no need to transfer to a new dish. I happen to have large pans and a small oven in my small kitchen.
  5. Once the apples and caramel have cooled, lay the pastry over the top of them and tuck the edges round the apples. Prick the pastry a few times with a fork. Transfer to the oven and cook for around 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the caramel is bubbling around the sides. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Here comes the scariest bit: getting the whole shebang onto a plate. Upturn a plate and lay it over the pastry. Invert the whole lot. Be careful - the caramel will probably try to come out and scald your wrist. Try to avoid that.
  7. Serve warm with (r)ice cream.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Salade d'endives aux pommes - Chicory salad with apple (Vegan mofo 2013 XV)

Chicory AKA Belgian endive AKA witloof is a pale and interesting grow-in-the-dark salad ingredient. It's often eaten cooked here in France, usually braised with ham wrapped around it. That's kind of gross, so here's a nicer way of eating it: in crisp salad form with apples for sweetness, walnuts for extra crunch, and a creamy dressing.

Salade d'endives aux pommes - Chicory salad with apple recipe

1 head chicory
1 small red apple
1 handful walnut pieces (way cheaper than intact walnut halves)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp vegan mayonnaise
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp grainy mustard
Grind of pepper, pinch of salt

  1. Slice the chicory width-wise into slim rings. Dice the apple.
  2. Combine all the dressing ingredients and fork together. Pour over the salad and toss well.
  3. Plate up, and sprinkle the walnuts over the top.
This amount is about right for one large dinner salad, or two starter portions.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Pommes sautées - Sautéed potatoes (Vegan mofo 2013 XIV)

These potatoes are the bomb.

Pommes sautées - Sautéed potatoes recipe (serves 2)

4 large potatoes
2 Tbsp sunflower oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Plenty of salt and pepper

  1. Peel your potatoes and cut them into small chunks. Boil for 6-8 minutes, until they're tender enough to be pierced with a fork, but not too fally aparty.
  2. Heat the oil on high. When it's nice and hot, tip in your strained potatoes. Let them cook for three minutes. Season generously. Poke around. Keep cooking until they're nice and golden. Then add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly for one more minute.
  3. Transfer to absorbant paper, then transfer to your mouth.