Book Review: My Vegan Travels

9781849758833

Please note: A recipe extract is included at the end of this post.

I must admit that the last time I watched a whole series of MasterChef UK, from start to finish, or any other MasterChef to be honest, was in 2011. I cannot pinpoint exactly the reason or reasons why, but I guess it must have been something to do with the people taking part. It’s probably the only series in which I can remember the finalists clearly, but the one clip I will never forget was the one in which they had Yotam Ottolenghi as a surprise judge. Jackie Kearney’s smile radiated through the television screen. From that point on I rooted for her and wished she could win. She didn’t but of course, that was just the beginning.

Apart from a few short exchanges on Twitter – one of the highlights for me on that brilliant platform – I haven’t followed much of Jackie’s progress after that. I wish I did though, and I will from now on. After her brilliant MasterChef performance, many travels, her catering business, and her street food venture Barbarella, Jackie published her first book Vegan Street Food in 2015. Now, two years later she has teamed up with Ryland Peters and Small once more with a second one, published on the 14th November and aptly named My Vegan Travels: Comfort food inspired by adventure. Together with the former, this second publication showcases Jackie’s creative nature that guided her towards inspiration from all over the world. Most importantly, she shows how simple it is to create and enjoy delicious food with a plant-based diet, something which is very much at the heart of her cooking.

Another pillar of Jackie’s cooking style is her knowledge and use of Asian flavours, which is showcased in the chapter Asian Comforts, including a selection of both fusion and authentic recipes. Other chapters include No Place Like Home, featuring recipes from her childhood, European Summers, a compendium of recipes that “hold comforting memories of sunshine and holidays”, and Americana, nicely subtitled with ‘Stateside dining for hungry vegans’, has to be my favourite. The concluding paragraph in the introduction to this chapter says this:

“This section of recipes includes a variety of Canadian- and American-inspired dishes, the comforting and the nourishing, and many of which will convince even the most carnivorous of diners to try some vegan eating.”

Trust me, I will give it a go. I’ll start with the Just Peachy Cobbler Pots thank you!

About the author*:
Jackie Kearney was a top-4 finalist in BBC One’s MasterChef UK 2011. She has been developing her experience and reputation through pop-up dining events, a vegetarian fine dining club and pursuing her Asian street food venture in her iconic trailer, Barbarella (until the start of 2017). Her food passion lies with Asian street food and vegetarian dining, inspired by her extensive travels across Asia with her husband and twin children.

My Vegan Travels: Comfort food inspired by adventure, published by Ryland Peters and Small, out on the 14th November 2017, RRP £16.99

Photography by Clare Winfield © Ryland Peters & Small

My Vegan Travels ricepudding

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding with Ginger Cookies

I didn’t fall in love with masala chai (Indian spiced tea) the first time I drank it, but everywhere we stopped across India and Sri Lanka, there was always a chai-wallah (chai is simply the name for tea and wallah is the seller). After a few months, I found myself hankering for this fragrant and sweet pick-me-up. Being woken by the chaiwallah’s calls on the overnight train from Varanasi has long stuck in my memory, and my husband and I still call out to each other ‘chai-di-chai’ if we’re making a brew. I first made this dessert in the early rounds of MasterChef, after I had the pudding foisted upon me when we were asked to cook for previous winners and finalists.

To make the chai spiced mix

2 teaspoons ground ginger (use slices of fresh if you are making tea)

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (use 1 large piece of cassia bark or cinnamon stick for tea)

4–5 green cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed

1 teaspoon ground fennel (use fennel seeds if making tea)

pinch of ground black pepper

2 cloves (optional)

To Make the Pudding

100 g/3 ½ oz. Arborio rice seeds from 1 vanilla pod/ bean

400-ml/14-oz. can coconut milk

350 ml/1 ½ cups almond, soy, oat or rice milk, plus extra if needed

150 ml/2⁄3 cup almond or soy cream, plus extra if needed

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

3 tablespoons brown sugar

To make the ginger biscuits

150 g/generous 1 cup self-raising/self-rising flour, plus extra if needed

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

40 g/1. oz. stem ginger, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons caster/ superfine sugar

50 g/2 oz. vegan margarine

2 tablespoons golden/ light corn syrup

To make the Coulis

1 ripe mango, peeled, stone/pit removed and flesh cubed

To serve

toasted pistachios

2 baking sheets, oiled

Serves 4-6

Preheat the oven to 190ºC (375ºF) Gas 5.

Gently toast all the spices for the chai spice mix in a dry frying pan/skillet until the aroma is released.

To make the pudding, place the rice, the seeds of the vanilla pod/bean, the coconut milk, almond milk, almond cream and nutmeg in a large, deep pan. Bring to a gentle boil and add the toasted spices. Simmer for 40–45 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more cream or milk if needed – the rice should retain a little bite. Sweeten with the brown sugar.

Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a small pan, gently melt the margarine and syrup together. Pour the melted mixture into the bowl and mix well with the dry ingredients to form a soft and pliable dough.

Add more flour if necessary, so that the dough is not too sticky. Roll the dough into small balls.

Flatten the dough balls slightly and place onto the oiled baking sheets, leaving space between each as the mixture will spread as it cooks. Bake in the preheated oven for 10–15 minutes, or until golden.

Allow to firm up slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the coulis, put the mango pieces into a small pan with a splash of water and heat gently until very soft. Blend in a food processor or push through a sieve/strainer to make a smooth coulis.

To serve, fill a ramekin with rice pudding and add a swirl of mango coulis. Serve with ginger cookies on the side and sprinkle with the toasted pistachios.

My Vegan Travels was kindly sent by the publisher for review.

All images and recipe extracts are used with permission from the publisher.

*Information about the author is extracted from the press release.

This is not a sponsored post.

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