Saturday, 14 September 2013

Movin' on up: A change of address

The time has come for a change of scenery for Guac! I've been pretty quiet over here as I've been building Guac & Roll's new home at

After a year and a half I thought Guac could do with a new look- I even bought some new plates to mark the occasion! (No, there's no room for them anywhere, not sure what they'll have to double as when not in use...) I hope you all love the new layout as much as I do. You can find all the blog posts I've written here archived on the new site, along with a recipe index, a load of new recipes, monthly outtakes and tips on going vegan.

Thank you to everyone who has been visiting Guac here for the last year and a bit- please pop by the new site and remember to update your favourites/bookmarks!

Click here to see the new Guac in town...

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Really sayin' something

It might have all fallen a little quiet on the Guac & Roll front over here, but rest assured there's more than a little something in the works for next week...

As well as recipe testing and scrawling ideas on my work roof at any given moment, I managed to finally get my hands on some of the gorgeous magazines pictured above- Kinfolk, Cereal, Wilder and Chickpea. I decided to buy the spring/summer issues as I think I'm in some major seasonal denial and wanted to read about ice cream and sorbets for another few months. If you come across any of these, they're all sumptuous reads, and I don't think anything can replace that luxury of having an evening or even just an hour to spend reading a magazine you've been trying to track down for months. I cycled home with all four weighing down my rucksack like a treasure trove.

See you shortly, and follow me on Instagram for vegan ideas and mishaps with burritos in the mean time!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Back to school

Unlike January, I think September is one of the best months to start something new. Maybe it's the back to school feeling ingrained into what the start of autumn means, but I love making a new beginning at this time of year. With three months to go until the New Year and the warm nights still here, I feel like it's an ideal time to start a good habit or research a change you want to make.

I've had some amazing conversations with a load of people over the past few days that have really got me excited about being vegan and making further changes to my lifestyle. I've also been able to change my work balance specifically so I can spend what currently feels like an AMAZING amount of time working on all things Guac & Roll, and devoting way more time and energy to researching and making vegan food for me and the people around me. 


So I thought it would be a great time to post the two things that got me here in the first place- Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals, which I cannot recommend enough, and have talked about here. Along with Foer's book is the interview above with Ellen DeGeneres, where she discusses why she turned vegan. It was these two pieces of information that made me make a decision to try being a vegan, and I still end up in tears every time I watch this video, Ellen is such a babe.

Finally- for all my friends trying out veganism over the next few months- here's a link to how Guac started out, as a tumblr diary of my first few months as a vegan- which included a disastrous mac and cheese, a lot of fry ups and marmite on toast before things started to get easier! 

Good luck everyone! I know there's a ton of resources and books out there to help vegans just starting out- if any of them speak as clearly to you as these did to me then please let me know, I always love some new inspiration! 

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Vegan potato croquettes

There's a semi-joke among my friends that my portion control is out of control. I say semi because I think everyone now knows and expects there to always be at least third helpings at any dinner at Casa del Guac, and also because leftovers are no laughing matter, and out of control portions mean a lot of these.

Too much mash is one of my favourite problems to have, which is precisely where a vegan potato croquette starts its life. You can make them from baked potatoes but as I make vegan mashed potatoes with vegetable stock and olive oil, by the next day the mash has usually developed its flavour a little and is perfect for a filing for croquettes.

I chose to add a salad and a wedge of lemon to mine, to cut through the stodge of the potato. But then again, I made this after a sober evening and I think with hungover eyes they'd go equally as well with as many other carbs as you can fit on a plate. Your call.

Makes enough for 4 with other breakfast things or 2 very hungry people!

400g leftover mash potato
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 handfuls of bread crumbs or a hunk of stale bread that has been grated into 2 handfuls' worth
1/2 cup of soy or almond milk

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed potato with the olive oil, paprika and lemon juice, and season to taste. You don't have to add these extra flavours- but I find the paprika is a great match to the smoky fried taste of the breadcrumbs, while the lemon juice freshens it all up a little.

Set aside the potato, and then get to work on your breadcrumbs- I would grate and then use a hand blender to make them extra fine- or if you have a mixer this can sort them out too! I used the stale end of a wholemeal, seeded loaf, and the seeds tasted amazing after they'd gone chewy from being fried, but whatever bread you have in will work well as long as it is a few days old.

Once your breadcrumbs have a fine, even consistency and no major lumps, pour the soy or almond milk in to a dish and arrange so you have the mashed potato ready to go on one side, then the milk, then the breadcrumbs, and a plate to pop all the prepared croquettes on, like a factory line.

Using two tablespoons, shape the potato croquettes into fat rolls and then quickly dip into the milk so they are covered all over. Then roll in the breadcrumbs, making sure the ends are covered. Leave on a plate and start the next croquette. They don't need to be perfect as you can add a few more breadcrumbs to them all once all the potato is used up, just make sure they are firm.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and then wait until the pan is almost smoking hot before frying two or three at a time- any more and they start to bump in to each other and knock the breadcrumbs off. Once the breadcrumbs are totally brown all over, carefully remove and plate up with the rest of your breakfast. I find it easy to make beans in this time but anything else might need a bit more preparation, in which case you could set the croquettes aside and then heat them up in the oven once they're ready to go.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Summer nights: The Joy of Seeds

I picked up a hankering for seeds from my best friend Heather. The taste of that seeded bread I couldn't get enough of in Berlin followed me right back to London, so that when I returned I realised I, like many before me, had finally discovered THE JOY OF SEEDS.

No, I am not Gillian McKeith incarnate, I just think seeds are amazing; they're little but they pack a punch. You can top off most meals with them and they'll add protein, vitamins, fibre and iron to your food without you realising they're there.

I've tried munching on all manner of seeds at my desk before and it's ended in what a stranger would think were drawers full of abandoned bird-feed.  However, I've found that by adding a handful of different seeds to my meals each day, I've begun to crave them and now miss anything that doesn't include a bit of seedy goodness. So if like me, you're not someone who's easily wooed by seeds at snack time, I suggest adding some to breads, salads, porridge, museli, flapjacks, roast dinner stuffing, burritos.... well, anywhere. Here's a few of my favourite seed-embracing recipes for summertime. Yes, they're super easy, but it's a start...

For another summer night dinner I made a giant couscous salad with sunflower seeds, which are a good source of vitamin E, protein, and minerals, and broccoli with sesame seeds, which are a great source of calcium, magnesium and iron. Along with these two recipes I served marinate aubergine, toasted wraps, salad leaves, beetroot hummus and homemade falafel.

Giant couscous salad with grated carrot, spinach, radish and sunflower seeds
Makes enough for 4

300g giant couscous
Olive oil
1 large carrot
Handful of washed spinach
Handful of washed radishes
Handful of sunflower seeds
Juice 1/2 lemon (optional)

Heat the giant couscous in a pan with a little olive oil, before pouring in around 500ml of boiling water. Allow to simmer for around five minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the mean time, grate the carrot, chop the spinach if it is a larger leaf and slice the radishes. Once the coucous is softer (it has a totally different consistency to regular couscous, so instead you're just tasting to see if it is no longer hard as opposed to fluffy), drain, allow to cool a little, and mix in a bowl with the vegetables and the seeds. Top off with some seasoning and the juice of half a lemon if you like it.

Broccoli, sesame seed and soy sauce salad
Makes enough for 4 as a side dish

One medium head of broccoli
1 tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp sesame seeds

Chop the broccoli into florets, and boil in salted water until just al dente. Drain, then back in the pan add the soy sauce and sesame seeds and heat for about 30 seconds, just so the flavours can mix at a high temperature.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Black coffee, watermelon and the best seeded bread you ever tasted

The two flight attendants stared at me cluelessly.
"No milk? No sugar?"
"No, just black please."
"Oh, isn't she continental."

I handed over the last of my pound coins in exchange for a simple black coffee and went back to my book while Gatwick receded into the afternoon sky and the white cliffs of somewhere slid into view. I hoped Berlin wouldn't be as bad as this. It couldn't be.

It wasn't- I'm beginning to think it may just be London that is bad.

I was lucky enough to stay with one of my best friends in Kreuzberg. Heather is a dab hand at every bit of cooking. By 11am on our first morning we'd flirted our way to free watermelon slices at the greengrocer (I say flirted, all Heather really had to do was ask some prices in German) and stocked the fridge full of berries, radishes and ripening avocados.

As the resident chickpea obsessive, I was put on hand to make hummus, while Heather concocted salads from beetroot, seeds, rocket and lemon juice. Turkish bread fresh from the market had to be kept folded in half because it took up the whole table otherwise. I think one of us managed to find some olives and Luci, another friend from London, tracked down some balsamic vinegar. Once again, we'd made a feast.

Berlin has its own chain of vegan supermarkets called Veganz (great name guys) which I heard on a Radio 4 programme is reportedly expanding into London soon. As with Barcelona, from the small section of the city I got to see, everything felt pretty geared up for vegans or anyone with a dairy-free diet- most cafes will offer soy milk with coffee or tea, and the restaurants will try their best to accommodate you if you're patient. Not expecting this to be the case, I got to try an amazing vegan burger at White Trash, where instead of just offering one vegan or vegetarian option for a burger, lets you add the vegan burger, which is made of nuts, beans, tofu, vegetables, herbs and spices, to one of the eight burger options. LONDON TAKE NOTE!

My trip happened to coincide with a crazy heatwave in which the numbers 33 and 35 degrees Celsius got flung about way too much and in the end it got too hot in the daytime to do much more than drink iced coffee and eat more slices of melon. But in the early morning and late at night we ate toasted seeded bread just with olive oil, pepper and salt, couscous and rocket salad with yoghurt for Heather and her flatmate Petra, blueberries, raspberries, and fresh mint in hot water.

On the final day, after meandering through a flea market, too hot to speak let alone barter, we ended up in a Turkish cafe, Zimt und Mehl, in Neukll├Âlln for breakfast. I spotted 'vegan special' in German on the menu, and ten minutes later was presented with the sight above. If you go to Berlin any time soon, get to Zimt und Mehl as early as possible to grab a canal-side table, order the vegan special and for 8 euros you'll also get amazing coffee and all the bread you can fit in. You won't need to eat again until you get back on home soil.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Summer nights: In a jiffy roasted vegetable wraps

I love what weeknights become in the summer: corners of the weekend that fall into Mondays and Wednesdays that are way too cold to do anything with in winter. Summer is tinnies in the park, night buses home way too late, and good food before grabbing every bit of sunlight you can. 2013 has finally turned me into a serious serotonin chaser. I didn't think it could happen either.

This dinner is perfect for pre-going out, making a bit of a fuss of a friend before heading off, and it would also make a very easy Sunday lunch. Just call me Lionel. You could also easily adapt this for a vegan barbeque by skewering the vegetables into kebabs and grilling instead of roasting.

Refried chipotle beans form the glue for these wraps, the recipe for which can be found here. I added tomatoes and salad to mine, with a squeeze of lemon. They also last really well in lunchboxes- (If you want to be extra kind to your hangover the next day, wrap up yours while you serve your dinner so the hard work is done for the next morning!)

Makes enough to serve 2 generously, multiply up for more
2 peppers
4 small onions
1 courgette
Handful of mushrooms
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Chop the vegetables into chunks- I like to leave the onions whole as they retain their juices and then break them up once roasted.

Place all the vegetables in a large oven-proof dish and drizzle with a good amount of olive oil and seasoning. I don't think you need to add too many herbs or other flavours here because of the refried beans and lemon juice, but maybe some thyme, rosemary, or oregano could work well.

Cook for 30 minutes, in this time you can prepare the refried chipotle beans and salad.