Braised Cauliflower and Puy Lentil Tabouleh and my Sisters Cornish Wedding

Braised Cauliflower and Puy Lentil Tabouleh

We’ve just spent a long weekend in beautiful Cornwall at my sisters wedding.  Weddings are always special, but this was especially special!  My own little sis!!!  Cornwall added a spectacular backdrop to everything we got up to.  I had been to Cornwall as a three year old, from which I surprisingly have a load of memories; staying in little farmhouse B and B’s, the intense smell of fresh manure, cream teas and the iconic Cornish lanes, where vegetation rises high above and it seems like all the roads are cut out of massive bush!  Its certainly a part of the world that leaves an impression.

My sis Laura and her new hubby Paul stayed in the most stunning little wood cottage almost on the beach, surrounded by dramatic cliffs and raging, white surf.  We all said that it seemed like South Africa or Australia, we couldn’t believe that these kinds of coastlines existed in our little island.  The surfers were loving it and there seemed to be a gang of pirates having a fire just down the beach.

The Watson family, all smart and ready for the wedding ceremony

The Watson family, all smart and ready for the wedding ceremony

My sis’s ceremony was on the beach and was a beautiful spiritual affair, although not ‘religious’, we revelled in the beauty of nature and the good things we all share; love, compassion, hope and freedom.  We also ate some sensational vegan food, prepared by the awesome Annie (who worked her socks off).  It was a Middle Eastern/ Southern Med style buffet, something Annie was vastly experienced in.  It showed.  Spicy carrots, green cous cous, fresh pitta, roasted pepper and almond puree, smokey aubergine salad and piles of crispy borek (with spinach and pine nuts).  Jane and I thought we’d died and gone spinning into a Lebanese form of nirvana.  I have rarely enjoyed food so much and the backdrop of the Cornish coastline, surrounded by our nearest and dearest, just added to the experience.

Laura and Paul in their little paradise cottage, Cornwall

Laura and Paul in their little paradise cottage, Cornwall

Jane and I drove our old Peugot estate, Hooty, down to Cornwall and camped in Hay on Wye for a night (central Wales), a real hot spot for second hand book shops and, as it turned out, vegan food.  Wahee!  The perfect combo. I love a good second hand bookshop, the smell alone transports me to a place of wonder and excitement.  I picked up a couple of antique books, precious heirlooms.  We also went to the amazing Old Electric Shop, a space for old vintage clothes, records and interior stuff as well as vegan food.  When Jane and I walked in, they were playing one of our favourite tunes at the moment, ‘Better Days’, we felt right at home immediately.  We missed out on their lovely looking lunch menu, we had to hit the road, but it all smelled amazing and their vegan cakes proved to be a full power breakfast as we took on the Glastonbury traffic.  We hope to go back to Hay on Wye this winter to go deeper into the bookshops and explore the beautiful local scenery.

We’re still on a high after getting back late last night and thought we’d share something in keeping with our awesome weekend in the beautiful south of England.  Here is a recipe taken from ‘Peace and Parsnips’ that would please anyone who has a passion for the cuisine of the Southern Med:

Tabouleh is a proper southern Med classic. Combined with great olive oil and sweet roasted cauliflower it makes a substantial salad. I love the spice mix baharat – if you can find it, substitute it for the ground spices. I like to use pomegranate molasses in the dressing – it gives a funky reddish tinge and has a sticky tang all of its own. For a special occasion, go the whole hog and sprinkle over herbs, baharat, pomegranate and chopped toasted almonds. Gluten-free option: replace the bulgar wheat with millet.

The Bits – For 4-6
100g Puy lentils
1 bay leaf
220g bulgur wheat, rinsed in cold water
about 450ml boiling water or veg stock
1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets, roughly 2cm in size, stalks finely diced (waste nothing!)
a large pinch of ground cumin
a large pinch of ground coriander
a large pinch of sweet paprika
a large pinch of ground turmeric
a small pinch of ground cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt
4 spring onions, finely chopped
½ a cucumber, deseeded and finely diced
2 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and finely diced
1 tbsp great olive oil
½ a handful of dried apricots, soaked for 2 hours, then drained and finely chopped
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
½ a handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
seeds from 1 small pomegranate
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

For the garnish
4 tbsp pomegranate seeds
a handful of chopped fresh parsley and mint

For the Pomegranate Dressing
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses or juice of 1 large lemon
zest of ½ a lemon
1 clove of garlic, peeled and well crushed
a small pinch of dried mint
a small pinch of sea salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

Do It

Put the lentils into a pan and cover with water. Leave for 5 minutes, then pick out any floating lentils. Drain, cover with fresh water, and add the bay leaf. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring and checking the water level (add more if needed). The lentils should be springy, but cooked. Drain if necessary, though there should be very little liquid left.

Put the bulgur wheat into a large bowl and pour over the boiling water or stock, enough to cover it by about 2cm. Tightly cover and leave for 30 minutes. Once cooked, fluff with a fork and cool.

In a frying pan, heat the oil on a high heat, then add the cauliflower and begin to fry. Stir regularly and cook for 10–12 minutes. Once the cauliflower has softened and the edges are slightly charred, sprinkle over the ground spices and salt and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring well. Cover and leave to cool. The cauliflower should be nicely coated with the spices.

For the Pomegranate Dressing simply whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Add three-quarters of the lentils to the bulgur wheat, along with the cauliflower, herbs and the rest of the ingredients, then pour over the dressing and mix gently together with your hands until well combined. Place in a wide, shallow serving bowl and spread out evenly. Sprinkle over the remaining lentils and garnish with pomegranate seeds and herbs.

The beautiful North Cornish coastline

The beautiful North Cornish coastline

Quick Peace and Parsnips update – we’ve recently been in Reveal Magazine, Daily Mirror Magazine and the Waitrose Weekend.  The Vegan Life Magazine has just done a review which says its ‘…..probably the best looking vegan cookbook we’ve seen.’  Which makes us smile.  Also, thanks to all who have left positive feedback on Amazon, Waterstones, Chat Rooms, etc its amazing to hear what you all think and to see people cooking the recipes makes all the effort of writing the book more than worthwhile.  Viva Veggies!

Catch up with us this Saturday 4th July at the Newcastle Vegan Festival, where Jane and I will both be doing talks and then in Flat White cafe in Durham on Sunday 5th July at 10am for a book signing with perfect vegan coffees.

Cover of Peace and Parsnips

Recipe originally posted on the brilliant Happy Foodie site.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beetroot and Cumin Fritters with Horseradish and Dill Yoghurt

Beetroot and Cumin Fritters from Peace and Parsnips

Beetroot and Cumin Fritters from Peace and Parsnips

This is a recipe taken straight from ‘Peace and Parsnips’, a nice light summer lunch:

These little fritters are bursting at the seams with flavours, and the herbaceous horseradish yoghurt tops things off very nicely. A punchy, zesty sauce is perfect with any fried food, lighting the palate up. The sweet earthiness of the beetroot and the fragrance of cumin were, very simply, made for each other. I like to use any green peas or beans for this, but the edamame probably have the edge due to their nice crunchy texture, which adds an almost nutty bite to the fritters. Use any flour you like, but I prefer to keep them gluten free. Gram (chickpea) flour would work well.

The Bits

1 large potato, scrubbed and cut into cubes
125g firm tofu, drained and well mashed
40g buckwheat or wholewheat flour
a handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
300g beetroots, scrubbed and coarsely grated
a handful of edamame/green peas/ broad beans
1½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly ground
vegetable oil, for frying

For the garnish
1 big handful of watercress or spinach leaves
2 spring onions, thinly sliced

For the Horseradish & Dill Yoghurt

350ml thick unsweetened soya yoghurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp finely grated horseradish or 1½ tablespoons horseradish purée
a handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
a pinch of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Do It

Put the potato into a small pan, cover with water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cook for 25 minutes, until soft. Drain in a colander, mash well and leave to cool.

For the Horseradish & Dill Yoghurt, stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Season and drizzle with olive oil. This can be done well in advance.

Once the potato has cooled to handling temperature, mix with the tofu, flour, mint leaves, lemon, salt and pepper. Now gently mix in the grated beetroot and peas, until all is well combined – using your hands is best. We’d like these fritters to be chunky and packed full of texture.

In a large, heavy frying pan, dry-toast your cumin seeds on a medium-low heat for a minute. They should pop and give off a lovely aroma. Put them into a pestle and mortar and bash them up a little, then stir them into the fritter mix.

In the same pan, warm ½ tablespoon of oil on a medium heat, ensuring that the base of the pan is evenly covered with a film of oil. Spoon in 2 heaped tablespoons of fritter mix per go, pressing it down a little with the back of the spoon until roughly 1cm thick. Cook for 3–4 minutes on one side and slightly less on the other. Repeat until you have a few fritters cooking at the same time, and continue to cook in batches. Drain on kitchen paper and keep them warm in a low oven.

Serve

Warm and crispy on a bed of vibrant green watercress or spinach leaves, garnished with the spring onions and with the horseradish and dill yoghurt on the side.

 

This recipe appeared on the Happy Foodie site where I’ve done an interview and there are several other Peace and Parsnips recipes over there.

Peace and Parsnips has also been voted ‘Top Cookbook Debuts 2015′ and ‘Top 5 Vegetarian Cookbooks 2015′  We are super chuffed!!!!!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Lunch, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Chermoula – Vibrant North African BBQ Saviour

Flamegrilled Vegetables with Chermoula (Recipe from Peace and Parsnips)

Flame-grilled Vegetables with Chermoula (Recipe from Peace and Parsnips)

Its that time of year when we dust of the BBQ and get things fired up.  A major part of BBQ season is what we choose to lather on our lovely smoky, charred dishes.  Something that can enliven and surprise, compliment and cut through all those powerful flavours.  Chermoula is a zesty, vibrant thing that compliments BBQ food perfectly.  A marinade/ sauce from Northern Africa, I first encountered it in Morocco and couldn’t quite believe what was happening in my mouth!  Its so full of citrus, herby freshness; the perfect antidote to the richness of a BBQ feast.

I think chermoula goes well with anything, it can light up a veggie tagine for example, especially if its made with squash or dried fruits.  The sweetness, with the zingy chermoula is a treat.  It can be stirred into warm Moroccan style grain salad made with cous cous/ millet et al and traditionally is used as a marinade.  Cover some tofu or tempeh in chermoula and leave overnight in a fridge and let this magic green sauce do its work.  I love things that look as good as they taste and Chermoula adds a splash of life to any plate.

TO PESTLE OR TO PROCESS?

I like to use a pestle and mortar when I can.  Its such a lovely piece of kit and there is something very wholesome about grinding your own spice mixes and condiments.  Yes, its a bit more elbow action than a food processor, but I have a sneaking suspicion that good food was not meant to be easy or convenient.  Sometimes, it takes a bit of work and is always rewarding.  If you are making a lot of chermoula, do it in batches, an overfilled pestle and mortar is not a pretty site (as it splashes all over your lovely kitchen counter like a Jackson Pollock painting).  I’d recommend popping it on a folded kitchen towel or something like that, this stops the P+M scooting around the place.  Also, food processor is a name that I struggle with.  It sounds a little industrial for my liking.  I like ‘whizzer’ or ‘blitzer’.

Here is the recipe from ‘Peace and Parsnips’ where I combine Chermoula with Flame-grilled Veggies (see below, I serve this dish regularly at Trigonos) and Raw Cashew Hummus, ideally all wrapped cosily in a warm flat bread.

Down at Trigonos right now, we have a heap of coriander coming from the poly-tunnels.  Along with a whole host of other herbs.  I am using them up in dressings and sauces like chermoula, the picture below contains more ‘erb than normal.  You can really play around with it, a thick chermoula is a delight if you are lucky enough to have a heap of coriander.

Chermoula!  North Afircas answer to a tasty BBQ

Chermoula! North Afircas answer to a tasty BBQ

The Bits – 1 small bowlful

1 teas coriander seeds (1/2 teas ground coriander)

1 teas cumin seeds (1/2 teas ground cumin)

100g fresh coriander

50g fresh parsley

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

2 tbs lemon juice

2 teas lemon zest

8 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Salt (as needed)

Toasting your own spices means so much more aroma and enjoyment!

Toasting your own spices means so much more aroma and enjoyment!

Do It

Dry roast the coriander and cumin seeds in a small frying pan on a medium high heat for about a minute (they will pop).  Keep them moving and make sure they don’t burn or they will become bitter.  Tip the seeds into a pestle and mortar and grind them down into a powder.  Now add all the ingredients (except the oil) and continue pounding and stirring, then drizzle in the oil.  The chermoula should resemble a thin sauce, so add more oil if needed.  Put in a bowl and set aside.

If you don’t have a pestle and mortar and are using pre-ground spices, blending the ingredients together in a food processor/ blender is fine.  Just drizzle the oil in , as above, until you get the desired consistency.

Gorgeous peppers getting a griddling

Gorgeous peppers getting a good griddling

Serve

See above, with an array of vegetables or use liberally as a marinade for the perfect BBQ!

Foodie Fact

Coriander (or Cilantro) is a beautiful plant, filled with amazing nutritional properties.  There are  many different types of coriander and at Trigonos, Judy grows a very small leafed, but intense coriander, which looks a lot like dill.  It’s a delight to cook with and sets this particular chermoula alight!

Coriander seeds are a great source of iron.  They also have good amounts of vitamin C, copper and plenty of dietary fibre.  There are even some

Categories: Dressings, Healthy Eating, Photography, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

World Meat Free Day Today! Is meat production costing the earth?

Today is World Meat Free Day  ‘One Small Step For Our Planet’!  I’ve been reading a lot this morning about the negative effects of the global industrialised animal industry.  There is no easy way around it, it is shockingly bad for the environment.  I don’t want to say too much about it really, the figures speak for themselves.  Here are just a few eye opening facts. Presently, our taste for meat is costing us the earth:

  • According to scientists at the World Bank, animal agriculture is responsible for over 50 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (AGHG) produced world-wide, making animal agriculture responsible for more AGHG than all forms of transportation combined and tripled.
  • Animal agriculture is responsible for more deforestation that any other industry in the world.
  • Animal agriculture uses more fresh water than any other industry in the world, which contributes to water scarcity.
  • Animal agriculture is the world’s largest polluter of fresh water.
  • In the United States, on-the-job injuries among slaughterhouse workers are three times higher than in other factory jobs.
  • And, according to a recent report by the United Nations, 70 percent of all diseases in humans are linked to animal agriculture.
  • Everyday, 10,000 children die from starvation and one billion people suffer from malnutrition.  In the U.S. alone, the amount of grain fed to livestock could feed 840 million people per year.

Taken from this article on the Vegan Future Now site. One meat-free day makes a lot difference.  One vegan day takes it a huge step further in the right direction!  If you are thinking about becoming vegan, or taking steps towards a vegan lifestyle, check out the Vegan Society site for a huge amount of helpful advice/information.  Their 30 day vegan pledge is an excellent resource to support anybody interested in giving it a go.

Changing the way we eat will change the world for the better and create a brighter future addressing; world hunger, water scarcity, deforestation, climate change, water pollution and many other escalating environmental disasters. Drop the quarter pounder and pick up a Portobello and Pecan Burger instead this World Meat Free Day!

Categories: Vegan, Vegetarian, Healthy Living, Healthy Eating, Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Plantain Breakfast Burrito with Pico de Gallo

 

Plantain Breakfast Burrito with Pico de Gallo (Original Recipe from Peace and Parsnips)

Here’s the perfect Saturday morning Burrito packed with colours and all the flavours we love from Mexico.  If you can’t get your hands on a plantain, use potato instead and cook it for a little longer.

I spent six months in Mexico quite a long time ago now, driving around from North to South. The food memories (and parties) have always stayed with me.  In fact, you could say that a street taco changed my life!  It certainly changed my ideas about food and what constitutes ‘good food’ or ‘fine dining’.  I ate some of the best food of my life, huddled under a light bulb on a street corner or hanging out at a 24 hour taco stall.  Maybe it was all that Corona, but Mexico was one long feast and my eyes were opened to the complexity of Mexican food and its distinct regional influences.

Burritos are something we all know and are very much a meal in a wrap.   There are so many ways to fill a burrito, but in the morning, when you’re looking for something a little bit different, a plantain is a very versatile and nourishing amigo.  It brightens up your day from the very beginning!

This recipe and others from Peace and Parsnips were posted yesterday on the Hello! Magazine website, the article was all about Beyonce and her new vegan venture.  Maybe Beyonce would like a Burrito for brekkie tomorrow!  Check it out.

Taken from Peace and Parsnips:

Most of us need a quick breakfast that is easy to prepare, and burritos are ideal. In Mexico, home of the burrito, breakfast differs from lunch in only minor detail – restaurants serve dishes almost identical to any other time of day. Pico de gallo is a classic, and easy enough to assemble for breakfast – although having a bowl of pico de gallo in your fridge is never a bad idea at any time of day. It can be found all over Mexico and Central America and bizarrely translates as ‘beak of rooster’. If you’re not serving your burrito with pico de gallo, I recommend mixing some fresh coriander leaves and tomatoes into the filling. Qué rico!

The Bits – F0r 4
2 large green plantains
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely diced
240g firm tofu or tempeh, well drained and mashed with a fork
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon oregano
1-2 green chillies, deseeded and finely sliced Oalapeiios would be perfect)
a large pinch of sea salt
4 large whole wheat tortillas (must be fresh – stale tortillas will crack when rolled – and they dry out very easily, so keep them covered: gluten-free tortillas are available)

Do It

Make the pico de gallo. Peel the plantains with apotato peeler, then halve them lengthways and chop them into lcrn chunks. In a large frying pan, heat half the oil on a high heat, then add your plantains and toss well. They will become nicely caramelized. Stir them regularly to prevent them sticking and remove when they have some nice crisp brown bits – roughly 5-7 minutes. Set aside, uncovered.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan. On a high heat, saute your onions and peppers (that’s posh frying) and stir well. After 5 minutes, when they are beginning to caramelize, add the tofu, garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, oregano, chillies and salt. Cook and stir for a further 5-7 minutes, adding 1tablespoon of water to ensure the spices are not sticking to the base. Now stir in the cooked plantains and check the seasoning. Cover and set aside.

Wipe out the frying pan with kitchen roll and warm your tortillas for a minute on each side (or you can warm them beforehand on a medium grill). They should be just warmed through, fragrant and still soft and pliable. If they are too toasted, they break when wrapping.

Spoon 3 tablespoons of plantain filling into the centre of each tortilla and top with 2 tablespoons of pico de gallo. Fold in the two opposing edges, pressing gently down, then roll the whole thing over. A burrito is like a tucked-in wrap, a fat tortilla parcel if you like.

Salsa verde is also amazing lathered over burritos or served on the side. Serve these burritos warm, with more fresh chillies or chilli sauce. POW!

Categories: Breakfast, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blueberry and Macadamia Cheesecake (Vegan & Gluten free) – ‘Peace and Parsnips’ recipe featured in Hello! Magazine

Raw-cheesecake-

Raw Blueberry and Macadamia Cheesecake taken from Peace and Parsnips

‘Eat like Beyonce for a day’ with four recipes from Peace and Parsnips.  I have to say that I never thought I’d be feeding Beyonce!!!!  Beyonce is going vegan again for better energy levels, firmer skin and weight loss.  I’m sure she is loving the food also!

This cheesecake is completely raw, simple and gorgeous and this, and three other Peace and Parsnip recipes, have just been featured in Hello! Magazine.  Raw desserts are a real surprise and incredibly decadent and rich.  If you haven’t tried a vegan/ gluten free cheesecake like this before, now is definitely the time!

Randomly it also seems that Adam Richman, the ‘Man vs Food’ guy is also trying out a vegan lifestyle.  That is a huge surprise for a man I last saw eating a steak bigger than three peoples heads!  He’s finding that its the healthiest and most natural way to lose weight.  It seems like loads of celebs are getting into veganism, Jennifer Lopez is another one.  This can only be a good thing as the positive message and delicious food spreads far and wide.

‘Love more, judge less’.  Here’s Marco Borges and Beyonce talking about a plant-based lifestyle and the health benefits of a vegan diet.  It’s caused quite a stir Stateside!

Jane and I Are getting a load of dates in our diary for talks, cooking demos, pop up kitchens, book signings etc across the UK.  Check out the Recent Press and Contact Us page for regular updates.  It’s going to be an awesome summer on the road!  Looking forward to meeting some of you then hopefully!!!!

Here’s an excerpt from Peace and Parsnips:   ‘If you are yet to enter the magical world of raw desserts, this macadamia cheesecake is a sensational place to start. It’s so very rich and surprisingly healthy. If you try one recipe in this book, this is the one. I have yet to meet anybody who can resist it! I like to use cashews in the filling purely because of the price difference -macadamias are expensive – but for a special occasion, go for it! Depending on the season, any berry can be used for this recipe. Blackberries are a personal favourite – I love their bitter edge with the sweet creaminess of the cheesecake – although blueberries are delicious too.’

The Bits – For 8 slices For the crust

300g raw macadamia nuts A handful of pumpkin seeds 90g dates (soaked for 1 hour, then pitted) 20g freshly grated coconut (desiccated is fine)

For the filling

360g raw cashews or macadamias (soaked for at least 3 hours) 120ml lemon juice 120ml Brown rice syrup (or other sweetener of your choice) 180ml coconut oil A large pinch of sea salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 120ml water

For the sauce

400g blueberries 45g dates (soaked for 1 hour), pitted

Do It

To make the crust, put the macadamias, pumpkin seeds and dates into a food processor and pulse together until a rough crumble is formed. Add more dates if it’s a little dry or more nuts if it’s wet. The mixture should be able to be rolled into balls and not be overly sticky. Scatter a layer of coconut on the base of a cake tin (one of those with a pushy-out bottom). You can use a normal pie/quiche dish -it just makes it harder to extract the cake. Try lining your tins with a snug layer of clingfilm. Using your hands, press the macadamia crust on to the coconut covering the base. Press the edges down with your fingers, forming an even layer.

To make the filling, blitz all the ingredients in the now magically clean food processor (bless those kitchen elves) until you have a smooth cream-like texture. You may need a few goes to get it all incorporated, scraping the sides down with a spatula. Scrape out your filling mixture into the pie dish, bang it gently a few times on a work surface (to get rid of air bubbles) and smooth the filling down using a spatula.

Place in the freezer and freeze -for best results; eat on the day of freezing, or soon after.Remove from the pie dish using a thin cake slice around the edge and gently pushing the base out. Take it easy and slowly. Pop it into the fridge and allow it to defrost -a couple of hours will do. Place the blueberries and dates into your food processor (now miraculously clean again) and blitz well. Add a little water to thin the sauce out if needed. Pour over the cheesecake before serving, and if there is any excess sauce, serve it in a bowl as a berry bonus.

Categories: Cakes, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Desserts, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A million miles from partial, self-sustainability (but trying!) – Beach House garden pics and update

Enjoying a cuppa at the Pant Du Winery (just down the road).  Yes, Richard is making wine in Wales!  Very nice tipple as well (the cider is especially amazing)

Enjoying a cuppa at the Pant Du Winery (just down the road). Richard and his family are making wine up here in North Wales! Very nice tipple as well, red, white or rose (the cider is especially amazing).

Here we are again, challenged by our beautiful hill side climate. The Beach House Garden is a wild place to be. We’re 400 metres up Tiger Hill, staring out towards Ireland and Angelsey and the weather so far in 2015 has been unrelenting and way too chilled.  The veg patch is not very photogenic at the moment, the plants look a little timid, not sure whether they’ll bother this year.  But, when the sun is out and you’re lying on the grass, watching the apple tree dance; the world seems bountiful and ever generous.  Thank you nature, I’m not complaining.

The back of the garden, where the wild ones live.....growing freely for all the little critters, bees and hedgehogs.

The back of the garden, where the wild ones live…..growing freely for all the little critters, bees and hedgehogs.

Now Buster (our semi-feral part-time cat) seems to have found a better deal, small birds are flocking to our garden. Its wonderful. Goldfinches and all sorts of busy tits.  We even have a robins nest directly opposite our kitchen window in the dry stone wall. We can see the little Mum robins head poking out of the nest when we’re washing up. I have to say, the Dad robin is working a hard shift getting the twigs sorted and gathering fat worms.

Mrs Robin keeping an eye on us.

Mrs Robin keeping an eye on us.

Jane bought me a very cool, Snowdonia Pear Tree for my birthday, so that will be going into the earth very soon. We have a lovely little sunny spot ear-marked for Percival (2.5/10 for originality there!)  I’ve always thought an orchard would be beyond me, but it seems we’re getting a nice little gathering of fruit trees together.  Even the cherry tree has decided to burst into life.

The herb garden is doing well, we have some funky varieties of mint growing, I’ve gamble on some tough ‘bush’ basil and of course, the rosemary, thyme and sage are doing well (they’re toughies).  Mint is such a trooper, we now have ginger mint growing in our grass.  A nice surprise!  I’m in charge of edibles and Jane loves to work with the frillier plants.  The colourful ones that look nice.  Jane’s favourite plant is a ‘Lady Shallot’ Rose, beautifully peach.  It gets favourable marks from me just for having an onion in its name.  Our Acer tree is loving it this year and has doubled in size.  Acers always remind me of Japan.  I love the little red guy for that.

rsz_p1190200

Our noble red acer

When the sun does get out and we are both at home, we chop wood.  The chainsaw gets cranked up and we fill our garage full of scavenged trunks and branches.  There is something very reassuring having a garage half filled with logs for the fire.  Jane’s brother in law, Paul, will be coming up soon to help us get one of our years biggest projects finished.  A new woodstore.  Knowing Paul, it will be a work of art!

Choppin'  logs

Chopin’ logs – Feeling warmer already

I think one of the highlights of our garden is the succulents. They are an interesting plant, like a cactus meets a rose, normally on a stony wall. I planted a little succulent and couple of years ago, wedged it between a few stones with some soil and it now looks like a perfect, crimson, lotus flower.

The Lotus Succulent

The Crimson Lotus Succulent

Our apple and plum trees went wild with blossom, which is now blown all over the garden. Hopefully the bees did there work and we’ll have some fruit again this autumn. This year is, so far, nothing like last, which was a bumper year for fruit and berries. Come on plums!

Plum blossom going strong.  Last year we had a festival of plums.  This year will be more like a quiet get-together.

Plum blossom going strong. Last year we had a festival of plums. This year will be more like a quiet get-together.

We are growing our own lettuce this year and have trays of seedlings all over the place, we’re also going for plenty of rocket. Our veg patch is sporting tiny shoots of cauliflower, cavolo nero, beetroot, fennel, potato, chard and savoy cabbage. We’re realising that the veggies we grow up here on Tiger Hill need to be the equivalent of a very enthusiastic SAS commando to even stand a chance. If Bear Grylls was a carrot, he wouldn’t last long in our veg patch!  Anything like a creeping bean will soon be blown over to the curious sheep (or horses) next door and turned into a tasty bite.

Orange, gold and black, at sunset, Tiger Hill lives up to its name.

Orange, gold and black, at sunset, Tiger Hill lives up to its name.  Overlooking Nantlle Valley.

One of the advantages of the plants being small, is that the slugs seem to have followed suit. They’re tiny little guys, still doing a slugs-worth of damage, but in smaller nibbles than usual. I have built up some of the edges of the veg patches, but have generally given up on slug traps/ assault courses. I think the best way is patience and surrendering a decent portion of each crop to the greedy little critters.

Eeking out a few veggies is more than a hobby though, it helps to keep me connected to the seasons and what’s going to be good on the BHK menu and the menu at Trigonos. When the weather is beautiful I feel great for the garden, when the storms set in, I just hope they survive another day!

Pond ferns

Pond ferns

The pond is doing brilliantly.  We rarely touch it, which seems to do the trick.  Everytime you walk past you can hear small amphibians throwing themselves into the safety of the overgrown water feature.  We have many newts living there, and frogs.  We have also noticed baby red dragonflies.  I think this all points towards a nice clean pond.  Again, since Buster left us (we miss you little man) the frogs especially are thriving.

At this time of year sorrel is really doing its thing.  We’ve tried growing it in beds, but our sorrel prefers to grow through the slates in the front garden.  It seems very happy there and is thriving.  Its one of my favourite leaves, full of bitter apple twang, I’m happy to see its found a home.

Sorrel is a star

Sorrel is a star

It looks like the garden this year will be more play than productivity, I can see the fire pit being cranked up later in the summer.  Apparently, September is going to be a stunner.  Only another three months to wait then!

So after four years of Beach House gardening adventures, we’re still roughly a million miles away from our wonderful goal of partial self-sustainability. But I know we are on the right track!  If all else fails, maybe we can dive into the world of poly-tunnels.  We’ll keep experimenting until we figure something’s out, we learn a little more each year and for that alone, the Beach House garden is ever valuable and fertile.

Some blue skies......

Some blue skies……

Categories: Healthy Living, Photography, Summer, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Portobello Pecan Burger with Pumpkin Wedges – Original Recipe from Peace and Parsnips

 

Portobello Pecan Burger (Original recipe from Peace and Parsnips)

This is no ordinary veggie burger, this a proper whopper!  Perfect for every summer BBQ and a vegan burger for all (even rampant carnivores!)

A beast of a burger taken from ‘Peace and Parsnips’ our new vegan cookbook which is storming a technicolour, vibrant veggie, food trail around the UK at the moment.  Jane and I are super chuffed with its success and so happy that people are enjoying the food and positive vibe of the book.  We’ve had such a great response on The Beach House Kitchen, as well as Twitter and Facebook.

In fact, Jane and I are really getting out and about this summer and have plenty of book signings, cooking demo’s, supper clubs and festival appearances lined up.  2015 is going to be a veggie riot!  The best way to keep up with all of this is on Twitter of course, but we’ll try and keep the BHK up to date and ever crammed with gorgeous vegan deliciousness.

There are a few recipes floating around the internet from Peace and Parsnips and we thought we’d share one of our fav’s with our beloved Beach Houser’s.  Thanks to the good folk at the Happy Foodie for posting this originally.  They also voted Peace and Parsnips in their ‘Top 5 Cookbook Debuts of 2015′ and the Beetroot Fritters in their ‘Top 5 Vegetarian Dishes of 2015′.  I love these guys!!!!

If you haven’t quite got around to getting a copy of the book, we’ll be running a competition very soon, giving away a free copy.  Watch this space.

So here we go, the

‘Here we have a burger that is rich, with a deep flavour from the mushrooms and miso. It is packed with heavy umami flavours, with the seaweed, pecans and miso working their potent charms. Sun-blushed tomatoes can be found in most delis nowadays and ooze fragrant tomato all over this burger. If you are struggling to find them, I know some fantastic people on the Isle of Wight who can sort you out. This burger mix will keep very well in the fridge, 5 days easy. Try making it into ‘meatballs’, with a tomato sauce and pasta. Gluten-free option: just cook 25g more rice and omit the breadcrumbs.’
Like so many vegan dishes, this burger is super delicious and super healthy.  What a sensational combo!

The Bits – Makes 6–8 mammoth burgers

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 350g Portobello mushrooms, cut into cubes
  • 1 aubergine, chopped into 2cm pieces
  • a large pinch of sea salt and black pepper
  • 3 tbsp fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 20g dried seaweed, cut into very fine ribbons
  • 175g flageolet beans, soaked overnight, then cooked with ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda and cooled, or 1½ x 400g tins
  • 120g toasted pecans
  • 100g red or brown rice, cooked and cooled
  • 2 heaped tbsp brown miso
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g fine wholewheat breadcrumbs (you can also use gluten free breadcrumbs)
  • For the Pumpkin wedges –
  • 750g pumpkin, scrubbed, seeded and cut into 5cm wedges
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • a large pinch of sea salt
  • To serve –
  • 8 seeded wholewheat rolls, halved (for gluen-free aternative, use your favourite GF bread)
  • 1 big handful sun-blushed tomatoes
  • buttery lettuce leaves (something like oak-leaf)

Do It

To make the pumpkin wedges, preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Put the pumpkin on a baking tray, toss with the oil and salt, and roast for 30 minutes, turning over once. The pumpkin should be tender and nicely coloured.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy frying pan on a medium-low heat and add the mushrooms and aubergines. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the salt and pepper. Cook for a further 5 minutes, until the aubergine is soft. Stir in the oregano leaves and set aside in a bowl.

In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil on a medium-high heat and cook the onion and celery for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and seaweed and cook for another 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and combine with the aubergines and mushrooms.

In a food processor, combine half the beans, pecans, aubergine mix and rice with the miso, sifting in the bicarbonate of soda. Blitz to a thick paste. Add the breadcrumbs and the rest of the beans, rice and aubergine mix, along with the rest of the pecans. Pulse until a chunky mix forms, coarse in texture but finely chopped. Check the seasoning – the miso is quite salty. Transfer the mix to a bowl, combining it all well with your hands. Form the mix into 6–8 fat burgers. Put them into the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

Pop an ovenproof frying pan on a medium-high heat and lightly oil it. Cook each burger for 5 minutes per side, until beautifully light brown. If they lose shape and are unruly in the pan, press them down using the back of a spatula. Veggie burgers are sensitive and need to be handled with soft hands (and spatulas).

Put all the burgers into a warm oven, 150°C/gas mark 2, for 10 minutes to finish cooking. Cut your bread rolls in half and put them into the warm oven for 5 minutes.

Serve

On the base of each warm roll, scatter sun-blushed tomatoes (with a little of their oil) and top with a lettuce leaf, the burger and a good topping of macadamia tarragon aioli (recipe in the book). With the warm pumpkin wedges.

Foodie Fact

Pecans are a real treat for us.  We don’t use them all the time but when we do, we make them count!  Nuts are little nutritional powerhouses, packed with all kinds of anti-oxidants and friendly fats.  A handful a day, keeps the grim reaper at bay!  In fact, I write a whole section about NUTS in Peace and Parsnips called ‘Nuts about Nuts’!

Pecans are especially nutritious, loads of good mono-unsaturated fats and very high in Vitamin E and some important vitamin B’s.  They also happen to be loaded with all sorts of minerals.

 

Categories: Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gooey Choco Nut Cookies (Gluten Free and Vegan)

 

Choco Nut Cookies (Gluten free)

 

Here’s my best attempt yet at gluten free cookies.  There are many gluten free folk attending retreats at Trigonos (where I cook).  The people attending last weeks mindfulness course loved these cookies and to be honest, there was very little difference in texture between the normal cookies that I made. Chewy and gooey in the middle, with plenty of chunks of melted chocolate.  Quite a treat!

I use trail mix in these cookies, but you can substitute any dried fruits and nuts you like.  Xantham gum is something that most gluten free cooks will have around, it really helps to bind GF baked goods together. I don’t normally use it in the BHK, as it is like gluten in being hard to digest.  The difference in texture though is pronounced.  I never thought I’d say this, but Xantham has changed the way I cookie!

Simple, crispy, gooey (gluten free) cookies, we salute you!!!

Based on the recipe ‘Brazil Nut and Chocolate Spelt Cookies’ taken from ‘Peace and Parsnips’.  I made these cookies for Steve Wright on BBC2 Radio and he loved ’em!  Hear my full interview with Steve here.

Brazil Nut and Chocolate Spelt Cookies (from Peace and Parsnips)

Brazil Nut and Chocolate Spelt Cookies (Original recipe from Peace and Parsnips)

The Bits – Makes 8 cookies

Dry

1oog gluten free white flour mix (Doves Farm do a good one)

30g brown rice flour

1/2 teas ground cinnamon

100g unrefined brown sugar

1/2 teas bicarb of soda

3/4 teas baking powder

Large pinch salt

2/3 teas xantham gum

 

Wet

90ml vegetable  oil

1/2 teas vanilla extract

30ml water (splash more if needed)

 

1 big handful vegan dark chocolate (roughly chopped into chunks)

1 big handful of trail mix (or mixed dried fruits and nuts of your choice)

 

Do It

Preheat an oven to 180oc/ Gas Mark 4.

Sift all the dry bits into a large bowl.  Mix all the wet together in a measuring jug, make a well in the centre of the dry bits and pour in the wet, stirring as you go.  Mix in the chocolate and trail mix.  Things should come together, but still be a touch powdery (nothing like a cake mix for example).  Add a splash more water if needed to bind things together.

Make small balls, smaller than a squash ball, in your hands.  Press in some of the goodies (choc and nut) and place on a lightly oiled baking tray.  Press them down a little with your fingers to form a fat disc, they’ll expand in the oven, bear this in mind when spacing them out.  Leave a 5cm gap around each cookie.

Pop in the oven and bake for 11-13 minutes.  Ovens vary, if its a fan oven, check after 11, otherwise 13 minutes is good.  A little overbaking will make them crispier, but I like them gooey in the middle.  Remember, cookies are done when they have a crisp coat around them, they will be soft, but firm up on the cooling rack.

Leave the cookies to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes and them transfer carefully to a wire cooling rack.  Eat as soon as cool enough to scoff!

Serve 

Have you ever made a cookie ice cream sandwich?  Go for it, especially when they’re hot.  Place on cookie into a bowl, spoon over some ice cream and place the other cookie on top.  WOW!

Foodie Fact

Eating small quantities of dark chocolate daily can help the heart, assisting blood flow.  It also contains several compounds that make you feel good, even the chemical that is released when we fall in love!  Flavanoids are also present that help to regulate blood sugar and it is packed with anti oxidants.  These are just a scattering of the incredible benefits of our favourite sweet nibble.

Working on the land yesterday at Trigonos.  Planting some Crown Prince Squash, one of my favourite varities.

Working on the land yesterday at Trigonos. Planting some Crown Prince Squash, one of my favourite varities.

 

Categories: Baking, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Desserts, Gluten-free, Photography, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Baingan Bharta (Minced Aubergine Curry)

Baingan Bharta (Minced Aubergine Curry)

Baingan Bharta (Minced Aubergine Curry)

This curry is perfect for a Saturday curry festival.  I love BB, its surely one of my favourite Indian dishes and is always a delight.  This is one of those recipes that I will surely be cooking for the rest of my days.  When we look at Indian recipes, they can look a bit long, but most of the ingredients are spices and when you break it down, this is a very straightforward recipe and packed with gorgeous smoky flavours.

Baingan Bharta is eaten all over India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.  Its like an Indian version of Babaganoush (or is Babaganoush a Mediterranean version of BB?).  There are many variations, they use plenty of mustard oil in West Bengal of course and it is eaten in many parts of the sub-continent at weddings.  Brinjals (Aubergine) in India normally come in quite a small size, but its alot easier and convenient in Europe to use the larger varieties of aubs for this dish, more delightful aubergine flesh and less skin to deal with.  You can imagine that traditionally, a warm flatbread is the best accompaniment to this dish.

IS IT A DIP?

Some would call BB a dip, but I cannot get to grips with the word dip.  Especially for something so majestically tasty as BB or Babaganoush.  I always think of a supermarket bought ’90’s style dip medley’ (those four shades of dodgy dips that come in plastic trays) and these dishes are light years away from that kind of fare.  BB has serious heritage and is a feast in puree form.

Because aubergine breaks down so much when cooked, this seems like one (only one I may add) of the finest ways of treating an aubergine.  In Turkey they do amazing things to aubergines and its known as the ‘Sultan’ of vegetables.  In Wales we’ll call it the ‘Tribe Leader’ of vegetables!  I made a version of Babaganoush a couple of days ago and will post it somewhere soon.  You can never have too much aubergine on one blog!  Impossible!!

COOKING TIPS

I like to caramelise the aubergine in the pan, making it stick to the bottom a little.  A crust will form, this is fine and adds to the richness and depth to the sauce.  Just make sure that it doesn’t burn too much!  As with so many recipes, the pan scrapings are the best bits for making sauces/ gravy, basically concentrated flavours.

Traditionally Baingan Bharta is made a little like Babaganoush in that the aubergines are cooked over open flames.  Unfortunately, in the Beach House Kitchen we have an electric hob.  No open flames, so this technique is a decent option and more straightforward.  It also means that you get the benefits of all the goodness found in aubergine skins.

If you are getting a BBQ going this summer, I cannot recommend smoking a load of aubergines highly enough.  The flavour is wonderful and you can always freeze any excess aubs.  This gives you the base ingredient to make either of these delicious vegan dishes.  I mentioned on twitter recently that there is nothing as decadent as a well roasted aubergine and a few of you commented that you can probably think of a few things slightly more decadent.  This is probably true!  But aubergines to me are a sensational veg, especially for a vegan.  They have so many qualities, a wonderful vegetal creaminess and when mixed with something rich like olive oil or tahini, for example, I’ve got one foot in Nirvana.

G.M. CROPS IN INDIA

Genetically Modified (G.M.) crops are becoming a huge problem in India as large multi-national agriculture businesses, with a myriad affiliates and branches, try to introduce GM crops to India.  There are many people fighting against this unnatural invasion, one of the main spokesperson in Vandana Shiva.  In 2011 to protest against the introduction of GM Brinjal (Aubergine) into India, the Meridien Hotel and Greenpeace volunteers in Delhi cooked a world record 342 kilograms of organic aubergine and presented a portion of the dish to the president at the time, Manmohan Singh.  A very tasty protest!

A RADIANT DAY ON THE HILL

Its a lovely day up here on Tiger Hill and Jane is facilitating a Feminine Workshop, so I am home alone.  Jane has been working really hard on her new website this week, Womans Wheel.  It looks beautiful!  I’m off for a walk up ‘Myndd Mawr‘ (Big Mountain, also called Elephant mountain because it looks like a massive sleeping Elephant or ‘Yr Eliffat’) and will then plant Percy, our new Snowdon Pear Tree in the garden.  We’ve picked a nice sunny spot for him.  I’m also making tofu today and am seeking a nice firm tofu texture.  I’m going for a different salt to coagulate the beans and hopefully this will help.  Homemade tofu is really easy and cost effective, I’ll post the recipe soon.  Anyone got any top tips for homemade tofu?

Jane at the base of Snowdon with Mynydd Mawr in the background

Jane at the base of Snowdon with Mynydd Mawr in the background

JO POTT SUPPER CLUB

We had a delicious meal at Jo Pott’s last night.  Each month Jo puts on a fantastic five course menu, served in a very cosy and stylish attic space above her cafe in the Kiffin area of Bangor.  Last night, the theme was South Asia and we enjoyed all kinds of traditional delicacies with a twist.  I loved the Aduki, rice and ginger balls and I think Jane was quite taken with the Watermelon and Vodka crush (which I ate half of because Jane was driving).  The Lentil Cakes in Citrus Broth was also really interesting.  Jo’s food is always creative and looks beautiful.  Jo does this every month and the fact that Jane and I could sit down to a 5 course vegan meal in a beautiful space was a real treat.  Nice one Jo!

 

The Bits  – For 2

2 large aubergines (cut into chunky batons)

3 medium tomatoes (roughly diced)

4 cloves garlic

3 cm ginger (finely chopped)

1 medium onion (finely sliced)

Spices

1 teas mustard seeds

2 teas ground cumin seeds (1 teas ground)

3 teas coriander seeds (1 ½ teas ground)

1 teas turmeric

1 teas sweet paprika

1 chilli (finely diced or 1/3 teas chilli powder)

1/2 teas asafoetida

 

1 -2 teas sea salt

3 tbs oil

125ml water

 

Garnish

Fresh coriander (or sprouted lentils as we used)

 

Do It

On a medium heat, add your coriander seeds to a pan, toast for two minutes and then add your cumin seeds and toast for one more minute, until fragrant and slightly brown.  Bash up well in pestle and mortar.  Use ground spices if you’re in a hurry.

In the same pan, add 2 tbs of cooking oil on a medium high heat and fry the aubergines.  Stir/ toss them regularly and add 1 teas salt.  Cook for 12-15 minutes, until nicely soft and well caramelised.  They will stick to the bottom a bit, but this is perfect.  That crust equals deep flavour.  Set the aubs aside and cover with a plate.

Now put the pan back on the heat and add your tomatoes to the remaining oil on a high heat, stir them well and try to scrape up the aubergine crust to combine with the tomatoes. Fry for around 5 minutes.  Set aside and cover.

Wipe out the pan and add 1 tbs of oil and on a medium heat, fry your mustard seeds for 30 seconds, they will pop a little, then add your onions and lower heat slightly.  Cook the onions until they are becoming golden, 8 minutes, then add your garlic, chilli and ginger, cook for three minutes, then your spices hit the pan, stir them well, not allowing the spices to stick to the bottom, add 1 tbs of water if this happens.  Saute for two minutes and then add your tomatoes, aubergine and 125 ml water and cover cook on a fast simmer for 5 minutes.  Add salt to taste.

Baingan Bharta

Baingan Bharta

Serve

We love it with fresh, homemade super simple chapattis (recipe here).  They are really easy once you get into a flow.  We also love Baingan Bharta with pulao and pickles, or with daal, why not go the whole shebang and get a Indian feast together, Beetroot Raita and all.  It is Saturday night almost after all!

One of our new neighbours - Trev

One of our new neighbours – Not sure what to call him yet?  Trev?!  

Foodie Fact

Aubergine is just one of those veggies that has it all, good lucks, charisma, tastiness, and dashing nutritional properties.  I love all veggies and when I learn about their nutritional benefits to body and mind, I get even more excited.

Aubergine has loads of dietary fibre, which is amazing for the digestive system and is one of the most important factors in detoxifying our body.  Vitamins are important, fibre equally so.

Aub is a nightshade, like tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.  Called ‘eggplant’ in many parts of the world, I think the coolest type of aubergine is surely the ‘graffiti’ aubergine, with its purple, speckled skin.

Aubergine is a good source of B1 and B6, potassium, copper and magnesium.

Categories: Curries, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Photography, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The random schoolgirl invasion

leroywatson4:

Here’s a little story I wrote about my time in the Himalayas, cooking for 50 English schoolgirls in a remote Tibetan monastery. Its was quite a challenge, no shops, the cook has been arrested and the only market was a 5 hour jeep ride away. The odds were stacked against us!

Originally posted on Penguin Blog:

On the way to the National Park

In this exclusive piece, author of Peace and Parsnips Lee Watson writes about cooking for 50 schoolgirls in a hostel in the Himalayas.

The Spiti Valley is one of the most remote places I have ever been. Purely Tibetan (although technically part of India) ancient Buddhist monasteries hang from sheer rock faces and pristine still lakes dot the desert landscape. Spiti is a trapped in a different time.

I based myself in the hostel of a small monastery, not there to cook, but to walk; exploring the high Himalayas. It was a dream. I had just returned from a few days of tough hiking. Sunning myself on the little terrace. I noticed a red dust cloud forming over the hill beside the monastery  a little strange (a solitary rambling yak herder was the norm). A wild group of donkeys came storming into view, followed closely by shouting local…

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Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Lee’s BBC Radio interviews with Steve Wright and Eleri Sion

I thought I’d pop these on #thebeachhousekitchen as I had such a laugh doing them, it was the first time I’d ever set foot into a radio studio and spoke to a nation!  Quite a day out.  All the people I met were lovely and made me feel very relaxed.  I’ve never had a problem talking (loads) about anything!  Especially veganism, something I’m so passionate about.  They could hardly shut me up!

I ended up chatting about all things vegan, fav foods, chia seeds, healthy eating, nutrition, vegetarian week and ‘Peace and Parsnips’.  I started the day with BBC Radio Wales and Eleri was a real star.  We kicked off with a little ABBA ‘Knowing me, knowing you’ and halfway through the interview we went for ‘Whhhaakkaaan Be Your Hero Baby’ by Enrique Inglesias.  The banter could hardly live up to the tunes, but we tried.  Eleri is the daughter of a cattle farmer and I had little chance of converting her to vegan ways (not that I expected to!) but we had a real laugh and some of Eleri’s questions were quite a surprise.  My favourite of the day was;

‘So Lee, tell us, where is the peace in ‘Peace and Parsnips’?’

I wasn’t prepared for something so deep!  I thought we’d just talk a bit of tofu.

Steve and Janie Lee Grace were very nice and welcoming, the interview was high energy with loads of chat and questions flying around the place. I challenged Steve to a ‘Roast Squash Gnocchi’ (a recipe from the book) which he didn’t fancy much, but I got the impression that they were both open to the idea of vegan food and more veggies in our diets.   I was sandwiched between the guys from ‘Made in Chelsea’ and Gilbert O’Sullivan.  A mixed bag!  I also got my picture taken outside of the BBC building by the paparazzi and touched Elton Johns piano.  Quite surreal times.

Todays cook off - Loads of new tasty recipes for the Beach House Kitchen.

Todays cook off – Loads of new tasty recipes for the Beach House Kitchen.

Click HERE for the Steve Wright interview.

Listen to me chatting with Eleri Sion HERE about vegan wind issues, the joy of plants and PEACE.  I start about 2:05 minutes.

Sunbathing today on Dinas Dinlle, many miles away from a Radio interview!

Sunbathing today on Dinas Dinlle, many miles away from a Radio interview!     PS – This is how we sunbathe up here, wearing jeans and hiking boots.

If you’re not in the U.K. I don’t think you can access these.  Sorry about that.  If you’d like to hear them, Jane’s recorded them on her ZOOM.  We can maybe transfer them across somehow.

PEACE AND PARSNIPS ROCKS THE TOP 20

Peace and Parsnips has been selling really well and even stormed the Amazon top 20 bestsellers recently.  It is still the number 1 selling Salad cookbook on Amazon and we have plenty more promotional behaviour planned for the summer.  Jane and I are organising some supper club style nights in local cafes and restaurants, I’ll be doing book signings and cooking demos around the country and we may even run a vegan cooking course (with yoga and hiking) this winter.  We’ll let you know. Add all that to tending to our veg patch and cooking up a storm in the BHK and 2015 is looking like a busy one!

WIN!

If you’d like to win a copy of Peace and Parsnips, have a look here.  Plenty of sparkling veggie books being given away by the great folk over at The Happy Foodie.

Categories: Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Press, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potato (Vegan)

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potatoes (Vegan)

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potatoes (Vegan)

This is not a fussy thing!  Not a gram (or lentil) of stress, just lots of spicy and sweet creaminess……the perfect dish to end Vegetarian Week. Twitter takes up a lot of time! I’ve been tweeting like a nutter this morning but its great to come back to the BHK. Blog-ville!

Here is last nights dinner which worked out a treat. Creamy and sweet with a hint of nuttiness and plenty of spice this is pure plant and packed with things to make you shine and go MMmmmmmmm……. This is a chunky curry, all made in the one pan for ease of preparation. We like to keep things whole food and don’t think this means loads or extra prep or time over the hob. There is no separate masala sauce making here, we just dive straight in and get maximum flavour and richness from the soya milk and peanut butter.

Jane and I celebrated my birthday on the beach and in the garden yesterday. A little belated as I’ve been busy promoting ‘Peace and Parsnips’ down in London and working at the Trig.  We quaffed a nice bottle of Sancerre and watched the sun slowly set from a rug near our stone circle (quite a cool feature of our garden!)  Pretty idyllic behaviour!  Our garden is looking wild and verdant at the minute, alive with the hum of big busy bumble bees.  You have to wait ages for a sunset at this time of year, we gave up at 9:30pm and retreated into the Beach House. I mention in the recipe that we like our veggies with a little crunch and must say that the pictures of the curry were taken alot later in the evening when the curry had sat and carried on cooking. They were well cooked by that stage (a bottle of wine can have a bizarre effect on cooking).

The Beach House Garden - Waiting for sunset

The Beach House Garden – Waiting for sunset

NATURAL HEALING

Later we watched an interesting documentary ‘Sacred Science‘ about natural plant healing, straight from the shamans of the Amazon.  There is so much healing potential in the plant world, most of which we are unaware of.  This documentary opened our eyes to the potency of the natural world to heal even serious or terminal illness; cancer, parkinsons, diabetes etc.  The Amazon is tragically disappearing for a number of reasons, one of the main ones being deforestation for the growing of soya beans to fatten cattle for humans to consume.  Cutting out meat and dairy will have a hugely positive effect on the Amazon, safeguarding the plants that will one day, no doubt, be used more widely to cure illnesses that presently can only be treated with powerful chemical drugs with many side effects.

Shades view

Shades view

A WORD ON WELSH WEATHER

(Always an interesting conversation in North Wales.  We had hail stones the other day like ping pong balls.  It sounded like the world was being pummelled with marbles!) Its been chilly up here in North Wales and the plants are taking it slowly this year. Basically, not growing. We are about to put our crop of seedlings out into the veg patch, but if things don’t get alot drier and sunnier, we fear stunted beetroots and shy cabbages. Come on SUN! Trigonos (is our local organic/ biodynamic veggie farm) is growing a load of veggies this year and hopefully soon we’ll have some local seasonal veggies to play with. At the minute we are turning to things like sweet potato regularly, primarily because they are one of the most nutritious (see ‘Foodie Fact’ below) and delicious things that could ever pass your hungry lips.

Doing the not-so-famous 'Wine Crane' yoga pose

Doing the not-so-famous ‘Tipsy Crane’ yoga pose

ULTIMATE SPINACH!

Jane makes me a mix CD for my birthday every year, last year we had the magnificence of ‘Wild Honeypie’ which contained alot of tracks from the awesome snowboarding movie ‘Valhalla‘. This years offering is ‘Hazy Daze’ and I’ve popped a couple of the tunes at the bottom of this post. To give you an idea of what we’re grooving to when peeling our radiant orange spuds. Its fair to say that ‘Ultimate Spinach’ are our new favourite band for so many reasons.

So, a simple curry which we hope you make with big smiles and eat with loved ones and laughterXXXXxx

Jane getting out little birthday picnic ready

Jane getting our little birthday picnic ready – the Beach House Garden

The Bits – For 4

850g sweet potatoes (peeled and chopped into 2 inch chunks)

1 large onion (sliced)

1 large pepper (deseeded and cut into 2 inch chunks)

1 large courgette

2 large tomatoes (roughly diced)

1 chilli (finely diced) or 1/2 teas chilli flakes

2 inches ginger (roughly grated)

250ml soya milk

2-3 tbs smooth peanut butter

1 tbs vegetable oil

1 teas sea salt

 

Spices

2 teas cumin seeds

1 1/2 teas mustard seeds

1 teas fenugreek seeds

 

1 teas ground turmeric

2 teas ground coriander

1/2 teas ground cardamom or 4 cardamom pods

Just about ready - Curries up!

Just about ready – Curries up!

Do It

In a large frying pan, warm the vegetable oil and add the spice seeds (only).  Leave them to fry and pop for 30 seconds and then add the onion.  Stir well and add 1 tbs of water if the pan is getting too hot.  This helps to prevent the spices from sticking and potentially burning.  Fry and stir for 5 minutes, when the onions are golden, add the ginger, chilli and sweet potatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.  Making sure you stir regularly.

Now add the ground spices to the pan, stir well and add the tomatoes with 2 tbs water.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Now add the soya milk, courgettes and pepper, turn the heat up a little and bring the curry to a boil. Lower the heat and cover and cook for roughly 5-7 minutes, until the courgettes are soft with some crunch still.  If you plan on serving the curry later, cook only for a few minutes, the veggies will cook through when you come to re-heating the curry.

Just before serving, stir in the peanut butter.  If you really like peanuts, go for 3 tbs, 2 tbs will give a light, nuttiness.

Serve

Would be lovely with some freshly chopped coriander, brown rice and all your favourite curry accompaniments. A spiced chutney of some sort will be magnificent!  To add even more nutrition by adding a few handfuls of spinach to the finished curry and stirring them in.

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potato (Vegan)

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potato (Vegan)

Foodie Fact

Sweet potato is one of our favourite ingredients.  Its such a treat in so many ways, just roasted in its jacket is something sublime.  Sweet potato (also called Yam) is grown all over the world, there are actually over 200 varieties.  The insides of these potatoes can be purple, cream, yellow, pink, white….  They are originally from Central and South America, one of the oldest foods known to man, nowadays the worlds largest producer is China. Sweet potato is one of the finest sources of beta-carotene, raising our Vitamin A levels.  Eating sweet potatoes with a little fat, i.e. the vegetable oil in this recipe, helps the body absorb the beta-carotene. These vivid tubers also contain lots of Vitamin C and Manganese.

Categories: Curries, Healthy Eating, Music, Nutrition, Photography, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Happy Birthday Blueberry Spelt Slices (and brownies and cookies…)

Hi everyone it’s Jane here!

I have snuck into the beach house kitchen blog to post this in complete secret…

So without further ado, a Big Beach House-y Happy Birthday to you Lee!

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I made some chocolate brownies, blueberry slices and some of Lee’s brazil nut and spelt chocolate chip cookies from ‘Peace and Parsnips’ for the special day! Lee is working today so they had to be gorgeous but transportable and that’s why I opted for the kind you can cut into squares and share around…. Roll on the 10 o’clock tea break down at the Retreat Centre!

Spelt chocolate chip cookies from 'Peace and Parsnips'

brazil nut choc chip cookies from ‘Peace and Parsnips’

Cooking these cakes was so much fun, and I had such a great time covering the kitchen in flour(!) while sieving and grooving to a very cool album… not so much fun clearing up, but I felt compelled to share with you the experience anyway and post some pictures so that you can be with us from afar!

I love baking, and I tend to start with a recipe from a cookbook and see what happens…. Sometimes I go way off-piste and create something totally new, other times I stick to the recipe religiously. Both are interesting and produce unexpected results…!

The blueberry slices recipe originally came from ‘The Vegan Baker’ by Dunja Gulin and I changed it in a couple of places, but gosh I recommend you try it! I munched on a quick slice with a cup of tea this afternoon (pure research you know, checking to see if they were cooked properly..!) and they were delicious!

Lee’s birthday blueberry spelt slices

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The bits

260g/2 cups unbleached spelt flour

65g/ ½ cup plain wholemeal / wholewheat flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon vanilla powder

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

a few pinches of ground turmeric

250ml plain soya yoghurt

30ml soya milk

170g / 2/3 cup maple syrup

100g coconut oil

freshly squeezed juice and zest from one lemon

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 cups blueberries

Do it!

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together (that’s the flours, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt, vanilla powder, cinnamon and turmeric).

Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl (that’s everything apart from the fruit, because that goes on top). You may need to mash the coconut oil with a fork a little to get it to mix.

Mix them together really gently keeping the air inside the mixture, if it looks a little dry here you can add a tiny more soya milk.

Gently spoon into a baking pan (23cm x 30cm is best) and get it fairly level without squashing the mixture down (the aim is to keep the air in the mixture). Scatter the fresh blueberries over the top making sure there are gaps between to stop the cake going soggy.

Put the cake into pre-heated oven (180 degrees, gas 4 or 375 farenheit) for 30-35 minutes and when it comes out it should be golden on top.

Allow it to cool in the pan and once it is nearly cold gently lift onto a wire rack. When it has cooled completely you can cut it into squares. Mine were nice big squares and I got 16.

serve

Drizzled in maple syrup…Yummm!

Enjoy the pictures, and if you have a chance and would like to leave Lee a message that would be fabulous!

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Have a great Day,

Love Jane Xx

Ps Thanks Dunja for great recipe idea from your book :) Love it!

Categories: Recipes, Special Occasion, Treats, Uncategorized, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

 

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Bharat

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Bharat – bowls of sun in The Beach House Kitchen

I’m conscious that on a day like today, Monday, time is more precious than at other times of the week.  I am very much, in the same boat.  I made tonight’s soup as easy as possible, but did not want to compromise on deliciousness!  The roasting part here adds unmistakeable sweetness and the bharat brings a spicy edge to the soup.

You may ask the obvious question, “but Lee, you are in a hurry and yet you take pictures of your food and write a blog piece?!”  It does seem like a strange way to behave, I admit this, but such is the ways of the food blogger.  We are those people in the restaurants who unabashedly whip out their camera when presented with a particularly nice slice of cake while the rest of the table pretend they aren’t with you.  Its a passion/ affliction.  Once you blog, you can’t stop……

We are in the middle of some very stormy and chilly days up here in the Beach House and soups seems like a very good idea.  I love the bright colour of this soup, with added radiance from the turmeric.  Its sunshine in a bowl and is a real lift when the sun is hiding behind the clouds.

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We’ve been celebrating a little after the release of ‘Peace & Parsnips’.  Jane and I took a trip down to Criccieth, a local beach and went down to Black Rock Sands for a proper bag of chips.  There is an amazing chippy in Porthmadog that we frequent on rare occasions.  Chips = celebration!  We sat on the flat sands, a rare place where you can actually drive cars around on a beach without the imminent danger of sinking like a stone.  Black Rock Sands reminds me of beaches in Australia, or what I imagine the tip of South Africa to look like. You can look out over maybe a kilometre of flat sand before you see the sea.  A truly beautiful place to scoff chips!

Us.  Catching some well earned rays...

Us. Catching some well earned rays on Criccieth beach

BAHARAT

Is basically a spice mix from the Middle East, as well as Turkey and Iran.  Although the ingredients may vary, some usual suspects are: black pepper, cardamom seeds, cassia cark, nutmeg, chillies, cumin seeds, coriander seeds.  The baharat we use is very much a Middle Eastern style, in Turkey they add a lot of mint and in Tunisia they make a mix with rose petals, cinnamon and black pepper.  There are an almost infinite number of combinations of spice mixes, but most of the baharat sold in large shops in the UK is similar.   More a warming spice mix than a turmeric or chilli driven one.

If you don’t have any Baharat around the kitchen, use the same amount of Rae El Hanout or Garam Masala.  They will add a similar spice kick to the background of the sweet peppers and squash.

This soup is as easy as roasting a tray of very roughly chopped vegetables and blending.

The Bits – For 4 small bowls

1 medium butternut squash – 1kg (cut into 1/4 lengthways)

1 head garlic (skins on)

2 yellow peppers (deseeded)

1 large onion (sliced)

3 teas bharat

2 teas turmeric

2-3 teas salt

Olive oil (for roasting and frying)

 

Do It

Preheat oven to 190oC.

Grab a large baking tray and rub a little oil over the squash and peppers.  Pop them in the oven for 20 minutes.  Rub a little oil into the garlic cloves and take the tray out of the oven and scatter the garlic cloves onto the tray.  Pop back into the oven and roast for another 15 minutes.  Take the garlic and pepper out, check to see if the squash is nice and soft, if not, put back in for another 10 minutes.  Set the garlic and pepper aside to cool, do the same with the squash once it is lovely and softened.

In a large sauce pan, add 1 tbs olive oil and fry the onion on a medium heat for 6 minutes, until translucent and soft.  While the onions are on, peel the skin off your peppers, garlic and squash.  Chop them all roughly.  Add the spices to your soft onions and stir for a minute, then add the squash etc.  Pour over 1 ltr of hot water and check seasoning (add salt as needed).  Leave it to simmer for 5 minutes before blending the soup with a stick blender or using a food processor (leave the soup to cool a little beforehand for this).

Roasted Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

Roasted Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

Serve

A nice idea, for added richness is to stir some tahini into the soup.  Tahini is also packed with goodness, so nutritionally the soup becomes a real shiner.  If you are going all out tonight (it is a Monday after all!!!) chop up some coriander leaves and finish with little sprinkle of baharat.

Foodie Fact

Butternut squash is one of the healthiest veggies you can eat.  It is much lower in calories than potato and leaves you feeling nice and full after eating it.  Calories are of course only one part of the dietary picture, counting calories is definitely not our thing (big bags of chips and all!)  You can tell by the colour that its loaded with some good carotenes, which are ace anti-oxidants.  Squash is also good for vitamin C and is high in dietary fibre.

Our car off in the distance, Black Rock Sands, North Wales

Our car off in the distance at Black Rock Sands, North Wales

And who can forget......CHIPS!

And who can forget……the glorious CHIPS!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Photography, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

PEACE & PARSNIPS – Published TODAY! Plus my top 11 recipes from the book

It’s a bit like Christmas morning in the Beach House today……..Peace & Parsnips goes on sale across the world.  There are people selling it in Germany, France, Spain, Czech Republic (we think), Japan, Korea, Russia….all over…..Its very cool indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Peace & Parsnips is finally out in the shops. It seems like an age since I first sat down to begin writing it and dream up the recipes and how best to showcase vegan food. “How can I make vegan recipes appeal to everyone?”  Make them outrageously tasty I think is the answer!

The process has been long and fascinating and I must thank all at Penguin Books UK for their amazing support and enthusiasm.  Peace & Parsnips was written in India, Spain, Turkey, Italy, Wales and various family and friends houses in England. It has been a wonderful experience getting this cookbook together and seeing it morph and change, finally creating a gorgeous vegan tome.  I still can’t believe it happened!!!!  The shoots in London and Wales especially were a real laugh and the photography in the book is just stunning.

Peace & Parsnips have been a labour of love for sure.  It really is ‘vegan cooking for everyone’ and I have packed as many tantalising recipes into the 350 pages as possible.  No filler, all foodie heaven.  There are many recipes I love, so many great memories of friends and family are linked to them.  Food is so important to Jane and I, we believe it links us all and goes a long way to representing who we are.

PEACE & PARSNIPS Sausage sandwich

Chestnut, Millet and Sage Sausage Sarnie with Homemade Ketchup

 

If I had to do a top 11 recipes that I’d make right now for lunch.  It would be (drum rollllllllllllllll  pllleeaassseee):

–  Portobello Pecan Burger with Roast Pumpkin Wedges

–  Blueberry and Macadamia Cheesecake

–  Shiiitake Tempura with Wasabi Mayo

–  Seitan and Sweet Potato Kebabs with Mango Barbecue Sauce

–  Oven Baked Squash Gnocchi with Spinach Pesto

–  Smoked Chocolate and Beetroot Beans with Baked Chilli Polenta

–  Pakistani Beetroot and Pumpkin Bhuna with Banana and Lime Raita

–  Puy Lentil and Walnut Burger with Parsnip Clotted Cream

–  Chargrilled Chorizo Pinchos with Pistachio and Coriander Pesto

–  Okra, Corn and Black Eyed Bean Succotash with Chilli Cornbread Crust

–  Spiced Apple and Date Pie

 

Peace and parsnips recipe slider, by Healthista.com

Portobello and Pecan Burger, Raw Blueberry and Macadamia Cheesecake – a few shots from Peace & Pasrnips

 

In the book, Jane and I share with the world what it is to live up here in the Beach House and cook in our lovely kitchen.  The book revolves around our little cottage and the beautiful landscape around.  There is, of course, some shots of us on the beach and me trying to catch some little waves on our surfboard.  Unsuccessfully!  We also take in local waterfalls, lakes, valleys, mountains and of course, our local glorious veg and fruit farms.  Wales sparkles and shines in the book.

Burgers, curries, many sweet treats, bakes, salads, sauces and dips, tapas style little plates, mammoth style big plates, hot drinks and smoothies, its all here in P & P.  All superbly healthy and naturally vibrant.  I hope you love it as much as I loved writing it!!!

I’m off for some Champagne on toast!

BUY PEACE & PARSNIPS (Available globally)

Thanks to PETA UK and Hodmedod’s for supporting the launch today.

Categories: Books, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , | 18 Comments

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels (Ta’amia) with Cucumber and Lemon Yoghurt

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels (Ta’amia)

Falafels are a simple ‘go to’ in any kitchen, the addition of fava beans changes things up a bit.  Chickpeas are awesome, but fava beans are at least an equal.  They also happen to be indigenous to the UK.

Anyone can eat falafels (almost), no matter what the food allergy or persuasion (carnivore or otherwise) EVERYONE loves a well crafted falafel with lashing of creamy yoghurt and preferably a warm wrap somewhere on the scene.  They are almost always gluten free, dairy free, almost saturated fat free (depending on the oil  usage) but packed with the flavours and textures that we adore.

The idea for Egyptian falafels made with fava beans came from one of my old bosses in London, Henry Dimbleby, and his ever tasty Guardian column.  I used to work with Henry at Leon Restaurants and had a ball down there in the big smoke making healthy food for happy people.  His article claims ‘the worlds best falafel recipe comes from Egypt’, something I whole heartedly agree with.  I had some magical falafels over there in Cairo and surround, having said that, I am yet to visit Lebanon or Israel.  There seems to be alot of competition in the falafel/ hummus stakes in this whole region.  I have heard many a heated debate between various nations over bragging rights to the worlds finest chickpea creations.

Henry’s article is a quest to find the perfect falafel recipe and shows a great deal of passion for the subject.  I remember Leon’s sweet potato falafels bringing about a u-turn in my falafel habits and opinion.  I had once thought them late night, bland and stodgy, kebab shop fodder.  I came to realise that a day without a Leon sweet potato falafel, was a day wasted!

The great British outdoors - Up a Welsh hill, Snowdonia

The great British outdoors – Up a Welsh hill, Snowdonia

FAVA BEANS – AS BRITISH AS A BEAN CAN BE

Really, they are.  Fava beans have been growing in the UK since the iron age and would have probably been made into bread back then.  Something I’d be interested to try out.  They are Britain’s original bean.  Its strange how these things just come up, but I was in our local shop and saw a new brand Hodmedod’s, I liked the look of them and noticed they were selling Black Badger Peas.  Intriguing stuff.  I bought some and loved their full flavour (like a big pigeon pea, normally used in Caribbean cooking).  British peas and beans.  How marvelous is that!  I then noticed that they do split and whole fava beans and this recipe had to be made.

Split fava beans are perfect in in stews, dips, curries and can easily be made into a very flavourful daal.  They are like lentils in many ways, they don’t need soaking which is perfect if you’re in a wee rush.   Hodmedod’s have got some creative, global recipes on their site HERE.

Henry’s original recipe is brilliant and very easy to make.  I, of course, had a little play and added a few tantalising twist and tasty turns.  I’ve also toned down the oil usage to make them even shinier and healthy.  Hodmedod’s have a really nice looking Egyptian Falafel recipe HERE.

Plenty of variations to try, but I think falafels are so easy and delicious, once you’ve made one batch, you’ll be hooked and want to try them all!

The falafels may seem a little crumbly when yo handle them, but they firm up in the fridge and pan.  The ground coriander and gram flour help with this.  Just “try a little tendernessssssssssss……”

The Bits – For 12 falafels

250g fava beans (soaked overnight, or at least 6 hours, in loads of water)

2 tbs olive oil

1 onion (finely diced)

1 carrot (grated)

1 ½ teas cumin seeds

2 ½ teas ground coriander

1 teas turmeric

1 teas dried mint

½ teas bicarb soda

2 tbs gram (chickpea) flour

1 big handful fresh coriander (soft stems and all – finely diced)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

 

Coating

2-3 tbs sesame seeds

Extra oil for frying

 

Cucumber Yoghurt Sauce

6 tbs soya yoghurt

1/2 medium cucumber (grated)

½ lemon (zest)

1 tbs lemon juice

Pinch of sea salt

½ handful fresh mint leaves (finely sliced)

The carrot mix with all those gorgeous, spicy aromas....

The carrot mix with all those gorgeous, spicy aromas….

Do It

In a large frying pan, on a medium heat, add the oil and warm, followed by the cumin seeds.  Allow them to fry for 30 seconds and then add the onions and carrot.   Stir and cook for 6-7 minutes, until they are soft and just getting caramelised.  Add the ground coriander (not fresh) and turmeric to the pan, stir in and warm it all through for a minute.  Take off the heat and leave to settle and cool a little.

Once cooled, add the carrot mix and the rest of the falafel ingredients to a food processor/ blender and blitz until almost smooth, but still ‘grainy’ and coarse.  This will take a few goes, you will need to scrape down the side of your blender with a spatula.

Scatter the sesame seeds onto one plate and have another clean plate ready.  Using your hands, make small, golf ball sized globes of falafel.  Press them gently down into the sesame seeds, flip them over and get a decent coating.  Pop the finished falafel on your clean plate and continue.  Once the mix is finished, cover the falafels and place them in a fridge for an hour or more.

Mix all the yoghurt ingredients together in a nice bowl.  Check seasoning.  Jane loves lemon, so we are liberal with citrus.

Preheat an oven on a low heat (160oC) and line a baking tray with parchment and pop it in to warm.

Clean out your pan and warm on medium heat, then add roughly 1 tbs of olive oil.  In a large frying pan, you should be able to fit 5-6 falafels comfortably.  Don’t over fill or it becomes fiddly.  Fry the falafels for 2-3 minutes each side.  Using a flat spatula, loosen the falafels a little and flip them over.  They will firm up in the pan, but need be handled gently.  Place the falafels onto the warm baking tray and keep warm in the oven.  Once the batches are finished, leave the falafels in the oven to warm through for 5 minutes.  Moderate the amount of oil in your pan, you will need to add a bit more as the falafels love soaking it up.

Playing the Preserved Lemon waiting game (they take at least four weeks)

Playing the Preserved Lemon waiting game (they take at least four weeks)

Serve

We made some Peanut and Lime Hummus (recipe coming very soon) and a big salad to accompany these lovelies.  A warm flat bread would also be nice.  We would serve this with some of our Preserved Lemons, but they need another week.

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels with Cucumber and Lemon Yoghurt (vegan and gluten free)

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels with Cucumber and Lemon Yoghurt (vegan and gluten free)

Foodie Fact

Fava beans are used all over the world in dishes, especially in the countries around the Med.  For some reason, they are not so popular in Britain, but I think that is going to change.  Fava beans are more British than baked beans!!!

When legumes grow, they actually enrich the soil with nitrogen, fixing it.  This means that they actually benefit the fertility of the soil as opposed to drain it.  Legumes and pulses are incredible in that respect.

STOP THE PRESS – I’ve just read that Hodmedod’s are supplying British grown Quinoa.  HOORAH!  Quinoa is back on the Beach House menu.

(Just for the record, we only promote products we really like and will say if anyone has sent us freebies.  Hodmedod’s, we just love the whole ethos and have received no bean-based bribes to promote their brilliant pulses.  We want to support the good guys ’tis all!) 

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Photography, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blueberry and Hemp Muffins

Mighty MUFF - Blueberry and Hemp Muffin (gluten free)

Mighty MUFF – Blueberry and Hemp Muffin (vegan/ gluten free)

I love playing with vegan and gluten free food.  It’s a challenge.  How can we make a muffin taste, look, feel as good as a ‘normal’ muffin without the things that can muddle our bodies.  So many people are giving gluten a miss, it seems like a good idea as many people struggle with it.  I love bread, but its a treat and not an everydayer nowadays.  I did make a tasty loaf the other day using predominately ground sunflower seeds, it worked a treat.  I feel a shift, things are changing in the foundations of how we eat.  The next generational food norms will be very different indeed.  Gluten free and vegan will be as normal as fish and chips or black forest gateau.

I cook in a place called Trigonos, an idyllic retreat centre and organic veg farm.  It’s a blessing.  There I encounter all sorts of dietary requirements, every group that I cook for has a long list of specific dietary needs.  The most regular are vegan and gluten free (we are a pure veggie place), but there are so many people out there waking up to food intolerances.  We are all unique and beautifully different, what works for me, might not work for you.  But eating less gluten and animal-based saturated fat can only be a good thing for your health.  That is a widely held, universal, food understanding.  So these muffins are nice…..  They can be enjoyed by almost anyone and there is no sacrifice in the taste or treat departments.

Nobody who eats these muffins would think they are vegan or gluten free.  They are really quite healthy but very delicious.  Any berry can be used here, depending on the season.  We managed to get some blueberries and I admit, they are one of my favourites.  The berries sort of explode in the muffins, creating lovely fruit pockets of happiness.  There is plenty of richness from the coconut oil and a little bit of bite from the polenta flour (very fine polenta that is, not the course grain stuff we use normally).

GLUTEN FREE BEHAVIOUR

We tend to make our own gluten free flour mixes, we still haven’t got round to making the definitive Beach House Bread Mix.  But its coming.  I always like to have buckwheat flour around, one of my favourite grains/ seeds.  In moderation, it makes for a light addition to baking with a good hearty flavour.  Banana helps with the binding here, but you can use stewed apple instead.  This is also very nice and works well when using blackberries in this recipe.  We’ll be doing his later this year for sure.  The brambles are already winding their wicked way all over the back of the garden and in Autumn, it will be an oasis for big, juicy blackberries.

FLAX EGG?(!)

Making flax eggs is so easy. Grab some flax/ linseeds and grinder them in a coffee grinder, blender, something like that.  You are looking for a fine powder, but a few whole seeds is absolutely fine.  You can also buy ground flax seeds or flax meal.  This can then be added to all baking shenanigans in order to add a very nutritious binding agent.  In the absence of eggs, I find them the best.  They even have a vaguely egg-like texture, very gelatinous and gloopy.  For 1 tbs of ground flax, I add 1 1/2 – 2 tbs water, stir and leave for a short time.  You’ll see the change very quickly.  Ground flax is also an amazing way of adding nutrition to your morning cereal, yoghurt or smoothie.  Ground flax also helps to make a substantial and chewy loaf of bread or pizza crust.  Fibre is so, so important to a healthy diet.  It cleans you out in more ways that one!!!!

See here for more about flax eggs and other vegan baking substitutes.

 

I love using hemp seeds although they are a little rare.  You could try sunflower seeds here, but the hemp seeds (hulled ones anyway) are so creamy and light.  They seem to blend into the muffin adding richness.  Sunflower seeds will be more of an  obvious presence.  Tasty non-the-less.  Hemp is a wonderful plant and is becoming more and more popular for its uses in making fabric and even paper.

On the beach, with a shell

On the beach, with a shell

What with promoting our new book PEACE & PARSNIPS (out tomorrow I may add)  and cooking, cooking, cooking…..there seems little time to squeeze in blogging, let alone glorious beach walks.  Which is a shame.  We will hopefully get some more of our recipes up on the B.H.K very soon.  It is almost impossible to keep up.  I love writing about food, but I must say, I love cooking much, much more.  I’m an out of balance food blogger.  Forgive me!!!!  I just bought a new computer to replace my ancient little Filipino net book gadget, hopefully this will make me vastly more efficient.  You never know!

These muffins are light and fruity…..healthy and delicious….give them a whirl!!  All of your guilt-free dessert dreams are coming true….right here:

Fresh from the oven- THE SMELL!  THE AROMA! (yum)

Fresh from the oven- THE SMELL! THE AROMA! (yum)  PS – I ran out of mix so the top left muff is a bit of a half-ling

The Bits – Makes 6 muffins

50g buckwheat flour

50g rice flour

25g polenta flour (not coarse polenta, it should be fine like flour)

(or try 125g of a pre-mixed gluten free flour)

30g hulled hemp seeds

2 tbs coconut oil (softened)

½ teas bicarb soda

½ teas apple cider vinegar

¼ teas sea salt

1 teas vanilla extract

1 banana (mashed)

4-6 tbs rice syrup (depending on how sweet your tooth is; I’m a 3 and Jane’s an 8 – on this scale)

30-50ml soya milk

1 flax egg (1 tbs ground flax seeds mixed with 1 1/2 tbs water and left for 15 minutes)

100g blueberries (or berry of your choice)

When baking, always have a tea towel thrown over your shoulder.  It makes you look like you know what you're doing!

When baking, always have a tea towel thrown over your shoulder. It makes you look like you know what you’re doing!

Do It

Set the soya milk aside and then mix together the dry and wet ingredients separately.  Then mix both together until just combined, adding the soya milk as need.  The batter should be sticky, but not wet.  Gently stir in the blueberries without popping any if poss (no drama if you do, they will have cool purple streaks).

Spoon the batter into oiled and lined muffin trays.  Use muffins cases if you like, I prefer cutting out squares of baking parchment, oiling them and using them.  They look far cooler.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out clean and not sticky.  Remember, a little moisture in a muffin is a good thing of course, over baking them would be a shame.  Use your muffin-sense here.

Leave to cool in the tray for 20 minutes before enjoying liberally with mugs of your favourite chai.

Blueberry and Hemp Seed Muffin

Blueberry and Hemp Seed Muffin – Difficult to be this close without taking a bite…..

Foodie Fact – Flax Seeds

Flax seeds contain soluble fibre, a gel forming substance called ‘mucilage’.  This means that they are brilliant for slowing down the release of sugars into our bodies, helping us absorb more nutrients from our foods and resulting in us being fuller for longer.  2 tbs of flax seeds contains 4 grams of dietary fibre.

Flax seeds are also the very best source of lignans, which provide the body with anti-oxidant and fibre-like benefits.  In fact, flax seeds are actually higher in anti-oxidants (polyphenols) than blueberries!  Not bad for a little grass seed.

Flax seeds are also ridiculously high in Omega 3 fatty acids, probably the highest to be found in nature.  Omega 3’s help to keep our hearts healthy.

Categories: Baking, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

PEACE & PARSNIPS – Behind the scenes at the photo shoot

Peace and Parsnips climbed Snowdon recently

Peace and Parsnips climbed Snowdon recently

Only a couple of days until the BIG DAY!!!!! No, I’m not talking about the election (which surely must be a little refreshing), I’m talking ‘PEACE AND PARSNIPS‘!!!!!!!

‘Happy, healthy and hearty – it’s time to cook vegan…discover the delights of eating meat- and diary-free recipes, bursting with vitality and taste. Using fresh produce, Lee celebrates this incredibly healthy way of eating through recipes that are varied, nutritious and utterly delicious. From curries, burgers and bakes to show-stoppers….’

Preparations are almost complete, like Christmas Day, all of the vegan elves and parsnip fairies have been working overtime to get the book ready and on Thursday, all the good veggie (and non veggie) boys and girls of the world will wake to a massive slice of vegan deliciousness.  It’s a real tome, over 350 pages packed with recipes and gorgeous pictures of North Wales, many of which are gluten free (or with options for GF).  Its the full montilado!!!!

Here’s a little look behind the scenes of the shoot where I’m trying to keep my cool in the middle of a heatwave and full on cookathon:

Here’s an interview here:  The Happy Foodie

PLUS

An article in the lovely Healthista

There will be some very exciting things happening in the press over the next couple of weeks.  Watch this space or twitter (below) for updates.

The first vegan cookbook ever to climb Mount Snowdon - clever thing!

The first vegan cookbook ever to climb Mount Snowdon – clever thing!

I’m new to twitter, but am sharing loads over there; pictures, recipes and all – @lee_the_vegan or check out #peaceandparsnips

Categories: Books, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Foragers Salad – Primrose, Sorrel and Dandelion Leaves

Foragers Salad - Primrose, Sorrel and Dandelion

Foragers Salad – Primrose, Sorrel and Dandelion

Here is something we found growing under our apple tree, with a few bits from the rockeries and surround.  Free food!  And highly nutritious leaves.  Like gifts from the ground, they come to grace our garden with edible happiness.

This may well be rabbit food to some, but these leaves are actually nutritional powerhouses.  They are full of calcium, protein and iron, minerals and also have bags of vitamins.  The only thing they really lack is carbs (but some people quite like the idea of that anyway).  Gorillas, elephants, buffaloes, the strongest creatures on the planet eat leaves.  Not just for rabbits!  Leaves (with a nice dressing) are meal in themselves.

FORAGING

Primroses are everywhere at the moment, and although they are not particularly nutritious, they make salads look amazing.  Primroses carpet our garden every spring, so when we found out we could eat them, it was a good moment.  I am thinking Primrose Tempura soon?

Dandelions are best in spring and early summer and the leaves should be picked preferably before there is a flower.  The leaves are really bitter when the flowers have bloomed.

Sorrel is a real trooper and thrives like a weed.  It has such a distinct flavour, like a very bitter apple, that is best used sparingly in a salad.  Just one leaf per mouthful will give you a really pleasing zing!  Sorrel grows everywhere and is easily harvested, the leaves are very distinct and even older leaves taste lovely.

Always forage in areas that are away from industrial agriculture, train lines….generally clean and natural spaces.  Nasty chemicals, pesticides etc can be present on plants close to these places. Remember that if industrial waste etc has been dumped in the ground, pollutants will be absorbed by the ground (and subsequently the plants).

THE BEACH HOUSE GARDEN

The weather has actually been quite nice recently, so we’ve been out in the garden getting our hands mucky.  The veg patches are ready for action and all of our seeds are in the planter of strooned around the house.  We are growing all sorts this year; a few varieties of beetroot, fennel, salad leaves, rocket, cauliflower, kale, chard, cabbage….radish.  We’ll see what pops up!  No potatoes this year as we had a bit of blight last year and think its best to leave this fallow for a while.

Our fruit trees seem to have had a good winter and our new rowan is hanging in their.  Raspberries have blossomed and we’re looking forward to them!  Also our wold strawberries are looking mighty fine.  The herb garden has taken a wallop and will need some tlc.  Rosemary is indestructible!  May is my birthday month, so we have a new tree lined up.  A Snowdon Pear Tree, the fruit has dark green skin with a light pink centre and a feint fennel taste.  Wow!

Weeding the veg patch, the seeds are in, we are going for many varieties this year.  Too ambitious?!

Weeding the veg patch, the seeds are in, we are going for many varieties this year. Too ambitious?!

Our friend Shira is the real inspiration for this salad.  She has been going through our foraging books and identifying all the local plants that we can munch on.  There are so many and its only April/ May.  We are looking forward to raiding the hedgrerows and fields this year and seeing what we can find.  Plenty of sloe gin, blackberry whiskey, rosehip cordial, elderberry jam, elderflower cordial etc.  Not to mention much fun and games with gooseberries.  We will hopefully sniff out some edible mushrooms this year, we’ve been tipped off about a special little place.  Maybe a cep or two for the pot?!

We love this time of year, nature is waking up and the earth is warm again.

The Bits – For 4 (as a side salad)

2 handfuls primrose flowers

3 handfuls sorrel

3 handfuls dandelion leaves

4 handfuls young spinach leaves

2 handfuls red cabbage (grated)

 

Apple and Mustard Dressing

5 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs dijon mustard

1 1/2 tbs apple juice concentrate

2 tbs apple cider vinegar

1 clove garlic (crushed)

sea salt and pepper (to taste)

 

Do It

Wash and drain the leaves well (use a salad spinner for best results). Gently toss all the leaves together and arrange on a nice big plate.   Scatter the flowers over the salad  in a pleasing design.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Foragers Salad

Foragers Salad

Serve

With a small jug of dressing on the side, some fresh bread and maybe something like bean puree/ hummus would be nice.

Foodie Fact

Dandelion leaves are hugely nutritious, they are very high in calcium and iron.  In fact they have more calcium than kale and more protein than spinach.  They are also full of anti-oxidants, mainly vitamin C and A.  They are also great for supporting the liver, the ultimate detox green!

Little lambs - cute now, in a couple of months they'll be invading our garden!

Little lambs – cute now, but in a couple of months they’ll be invading our garden!

Categories: Detox, Dressings, Foraging, Garden, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Photography, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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