Anna Loka: A Review

Anna Loka is a brand new vegan restaurant in the Roath area of Cardiff.  I had  been hearing some great things about the day time cafe menu, but they didn’t have an evening opening so I held back on visiting.

Recently they started to open in the evenings from 6pm. We booked for a table of ten to celebrate my imminent marriage to the bearded one.

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They offered 3 courses for £19.95, so of course we had the full lot. Here’s what was on offer:

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I had the pumpkin arancini. It was crunchy on the outside and  gooey on the inside. The sweet tomato and herb sauce really complimented the the richness of the arancini. wpid-wp-1445193405256.jpeg wpid-wp-1445193583241.jpeg

My friends and family all had different dishes and were very happy with their choices. I had a few bites of everyone else’s, including eating the pansies from my mum’s salad, which the whole table found amusing.

Falafel.

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Beetroot Cappaccio.

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Southern fried vegetables.

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The main course was something altogether. Mine was absolutely mind blowing! I had the seitan steak. It was like roast beef, smothered in a beautiful gravy with perfect mustard mash and crunchy green vegetables. They even made the seitan themselves.

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My brother had the baked aubergine. He said it was good. I didn’t like it. I thought the aubergine was under cooked and the flavours didn’t seem quite right. Mismatched almost. It looked great though.

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The rest of the family had the raviollo. I tasted some and it was herby, fresh and full of flavour. It was a great dish, but I preferred my steak.

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We tried each other’s puddings and agreed that they were all amazing. I’d order any of them again. Personally, even though I ordered the creme brulee (and it had the crack when I broke the crunchy topping) , I thought the parfait was the star of the desserts.

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I give Anna Loka a 9.5 out of 10. The 0.5 will be remedied when I can have a nice glass of red wine with my steak. (They intend to bring in alcohol in the future.) The service was excellent and the food outstanding overall.

I’ll be popping in to try the breakfast and lunch menu at some point in the future too.

 

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Spiced Butterbean & Sweetcorn Soup

It’s certainly Autumn here in the Welsh valleys. I’m wrapped up nice and warm with a cup of tea whilst I write this.

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With the cold in mind, I came up with a delicious and hearty soup to warm your cockles.

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Ingredients:

1 tbsp of oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

1 can of chopped tomatoes (and then fill the can back up for a can of water to add too.)

1 can of sweetcorn, drained

A large handful of dry red lentils

1 tbsp of chilli flakes

1 tbsp of cumin

Salt and pepper to flavour

1 can of butterbeans, drained

A handful of fresh baby leaf spinach

A dollop of vegan mayo to cool if needed

 

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Method:

  1. In a large pan, fry the onion and garlic in the oil for approximately 3 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan, with all the herbs and spices, mixing well and keeping the heat medium.
  3. Add the lentils and water and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Now add the sweetcorn and butterbeans, mixing throughout.
  5. Does it smell great yet? If not, add more herbs and spices to get it to your liking.
  6. Turn up the heat for the last five minutes of cooking and add the baby leaf spinach.
  7. Enjoy with a good dollop of creamy mayo, sour cream or your own homemade aquafaba goodness.

This dish is full of protein and will fill you up for sure.

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Cheesy Tofu Pie

Traditionally in the UK the summer seems to only last a couple of weeks and then we have lots of rain and a few mild days before it gets cold again. Well at least for the past ten years anyway and they tell us the climate isn’t changing yet! This means we still get to have pies in the summer to keep us warm and fill us up.

I wouldn’t say this is a particularly healthy recipe, but it’s a lot better than it’s non-vegan counterpart.

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The best thing about my recipes is that you don’t need anything fancy to make them work. All the ingredients should already be in your house or easily available.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tins of braised tofu (I got mine from Holland & Barrett.)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable bouillon powder
  • Half a carton of passata
  • Water as needed
  • 2 large potatoes
  • Half a block of Violife original cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tablespoon Vitalite dairy free spread
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

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Method:

  1. Get the oven on full whack.
  2. Have a pan of salted water heating up to boil.
  3. Fry the onion, garlic and carrots in an oven proof pan, for about three minutes.
  4. Empty the contents of the tofu tin into the pan, including the juices. Break up the tofu into smaller pieces and allow everything to simmer for about two minutes.
  5. Add the bay leaves, red wine vinegar and passata and turn down the heat. Allow to bubble gently for about 10 minutes until the carrots have softened.
  6. Taste the mixture. Add salt and pepper if desired. Turn off the heat.
  7. Slice the potatoes thinly and boil in salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and place back in the sauce pan where you mix in the Vitalite and any extra salt and pepper you require.
  8. Place on top of the tofu mixture, layering if you need to. Cover in grated Violife and nutritional yeast.
  9. Put in the oven, in the oven proof pan for approximately 15 minutes or until the top has a nice crunch.

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Enjoy on it’s own or with some steamed vegetables. It’s very filling!

Tomato Spaghetti With Smoky Bacon Tofu

If you get this recipe right, it will literally be one of the best things you’ll ever eat. The sauce has been in the making for several years. I use it in all Italian dishes now. The smoky bacon tofu is spot on. It actually tastes like bacon when warm and ham when cold. I destroyed my kitchen in a hurricane of destruction getting the recipe right.

First of all I was just going to do the sauce recipe for you and totally cop out on the bacon by using chorizo.

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Ingredients:

2 white onions, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp of chilli paste

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp oregano

Half a pack of wholewheat spaghetti

1 block of smoked, chilled tofu

Half a pot of paprika

1 tbsp salt (separate from previous salt.)

1 tbsp yeast extract

Method:

First of all get your pan on for the spaghetti. I am lucky enough to have a spaghetti pan. Fill with water and a dash of salt. Allow water to boil first if you don’t have a spaghetti pan. Otherwise throw it straight in.

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Press the tofu. I’m not fancy. I use a large pot of sesame seeds and a sieve. Leave that pressing whilst you prepare the sauce.

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Get the sauce going now. Fry off the onions, garlic and chilli for a few minutes until soft. Add the chopped tomatoes, red wine vinegar, salt, sugar and oregano mixing frequently and keeping on a low heat.

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(A good tip for chilli is to go to the supermarket late at night and pick up a big bag that has been reduced to 9p. Blend and then pickle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to get a lovely big jar of chilli paste you can spoon into multiple dishes.)

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Get a frying pan on with a good amount of oil in it and your stove should look something similar to this.

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Cut your drained tofu into pieces the size and thickness of your little finger. Pour the paprika and salt onto a chopping board and mix together with your hands. Place your yeast extract as a dollop on the side. One piece at a time, cover the tofu in salt and paprika. Then using your finger, smear yeast extract on both sides. Stick this in the pan and allow to brown for 2 minutes on each large side. Taste it as soon as it’s cool enough to put in your mouth. Does it taste like bacon? If the answer is yes, do the same with the rest. If the answer is no, add more yeast extract each time until the answer is yes. I went through quite a lot of tofu before I got this right. It’s not really an exact science unfortunately. One thing is true though, it bloody well tastes more like bacon than anything I have ever tasted since becoming vegan.

They should come out like this:

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Not pretty I know, but don’t worry. Taste is what this dish is all about.

Drain your pasta and mix in with the sauce straight away. Sprinkle the top with your tofu bacon that you’ve now cut into cubes. (Do not mix the bacon through.)

Serve straight away or eat cold for lunch the next day.

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The sweetness of the sauce should balance the smoky, salty flavour of the bacon.

I hope you enjoy this. I know it’s not the prettiest or the most comprehensive recipe in the world, but do you know what? The best ones never are.

 

Simple Sharing Platter

Whenever I have people over, I always provide food for two reasons:

1) I’m a good host and I like my guests to be comfortable in my house.

2) It promotes veganism and that is always a good thing.

I had my niece around just before Christmas. She isn’t vegan and isn’t a particularly adventurous eater. The only thing on my platter she had had before was the BBQ sauce.

I made the guacamole myself using avocado, lime juice, salt, chilli and garlic and a blender. The BBQ sauce was shop bought.

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I then baked Vegi Deli chicken style pieces in Jamaican All Spice and sautéed the aubergine in salt and garam masala until soft.

The whole lot took me about 20 minutes. Guess what? She loved it!

Simple and tasty vegan food wins the day again.

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Queer Vegan now has an Instagram page too. Check it out! Queervegan666

 

Sausage Ragu & Cheesy Polenta

A sausage ragu is one of those recipes you often see on pretentious Italian cooking shows. The chef spends all day cooking it and it looks like tomato slop on a plate. I decided I’d write my own recipe for it which can be completed without fancy ingredients and in about 30 minutes. This is now one of my favourite comfort food meals. It’s fresh and fragrant, yet filling and hearty. Everything you want in a dish right? Take a look at this!

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I enjoyed mine with a lovely Welsh cider really complemented the flavours in the sauce! 🙂 (Pretentious or what? 😛 )

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped or minced

8 vegan sausages (I used Linda McCartney as these days I’m skint.)

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

400 ml vegetable stock

2 tbsp tomato puree

400g instant polenta

1 whole block of vegan cheese (I used Cheezly because it’s hard to get hold of much in rural South Wales. Try Tesco’s smoked vegan cheese for the best flavours.)

4 fresh rosemary sprigs

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Method

Make the ragu! Heat the oil in a frying pan. Cook the onions and garlic for a few minutes on a medium heat.

Stir in the sausages, breaking them up into small pieces as they defrost. This should take roughly 8 minutes.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes, stock, tomato puree and most of the rosemary. Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken.

Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Whilst the ragu is simmering away, it’s time to make the cheesy polenta. Make up the polenta as per the packet instructions. Remove from the heat and stir in your cheese. (You’ll need to have grated it for this to work.) Season as you wish.

To plate up, pour the ragu over the top of the polenta and add some fresh sprigs of rosemary.

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I really hope you enjoy this dish. It’s worth the time and effort to make it. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Garlic

And so my adventure in Queer Vegan gardening begins! I’ve always thought that growing your own food is one of the most revolutionary things you can do, so why not let’s all do it together?

The first week in October is the ideal time to plant garlic so that you get lovely big bulbs in spring apparently. I’m going to do it one week early so that everyone has time to get the stuff they need to get this going.

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Stuff you will need:

An upcycled container. (I have used an old Ronseal container I found laying around.)

Compost. (Homemade is ideal, but if you’re just starting out like me, go and buy some.)

10 garlic bulbs. (Some guides say you need to buy these specially and can’t use the ones from supermarkets because they have been treated. I say, let’s try the cheap way and use the supermarket ones and see what happens. A lot of other people have had success with this.)

Method:

Wash out your container and fill it with compost.

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Now get your bulbs with flat bit facing down and cover with soil.

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This tub can be left outside, but don’t let it get too covered in frost and snow in the winter. I’m going to keep this in a corner to protect it a little bit, but not too much. Hopefully in the spring we’ll see some shoots. Let me know how you all get on and take some pictures! 🙂