Nutty Apricot and Sesame Energy Balls plus the benefits of soaking nuts and seeds

Nutty Apricot and Sesame Energy Balls

Nutty Apricot and Sesame Energy Balls

I love these little energetic things. The perfect way of cramming loads of nutrition and energy into the smallest possible area. These little balls are packed with protein power and full-on flavour and are highly portable! They went down a treat yesterday, I had to share them with you.

Nuts and dried fruits are nutritional power houses and contain vast amounts of good stuff; sugars and fats. The last two should of course be enjoyed in moderation and these little balls are perfectly portion controlled. Unless you make them the size of a cricket ball ( I prefer more of a squash ball size and smaller) then you’ll be getting the optimum levels of everything you need from a revitalising, healthy between meal booster.

PLAY BALL!
I have kept these very simple and natural. No added flavours, just the nuts, seeds and fruit. I like to use seeds primarily because they taste amazing, but they are also less expensive and work just as well as nuts. I used a good mixture of nuts, but you can mix and match with whatever you have handy. Nuts like walnuts, cashews and almonds blend smooth, it is more tough to get a Brazil nut to play ball! This is great when mixed with other nuts, adds a crunchy texture. The same can be said for sunflower seeds, once soaked they blend up nicely, unlike pumpkin seeds which take a little more blitzing action. If you have a high powered blender, non of this really applies, as they will take care of anything you put into them. They’d quite happily blend a bean tin I’m sure (this is an untested theory).

BENEFITS OF SOAKING YOUR NUTS
I mention nut soaking quite a lot in Peace & Parsnips, I think its important to know about and can really accentuate the flavour, texture and nutritional properties of nuts and seeds. It takes a little forward planning but is very much worth it. Nutrients are tucked away in our food and in some occasions, are missed by our bodies. They are not available to the body, so we miss out on all the goodness. This is known as the ‘bio-availability’ of nutrients and soaking nuts in water before using them opens up the nutrients to be absorbed by the body. They have known this for thousands of years in India and soaked almonds are promoted within the Ayurvedic diet for a number of health boosting reasons.

Soaking nuts in water, preferably overnight, inhibits the potentially harmful effects of enzymes inhibitors, tannins and toxins in nuts.  Nature doesn’t want seeds and nuts to germinate until the right conditions are present, by soaking nuts and seeds we are creating these conditions.  They literally come to life!  Enzymes are essential to good health, just as important as minerals and vitamins.  Soaking releases more beneficial enzymes that our bodies love.  Most nuts also taste better after they have been soaked, they plump up nicely and become crisp.  We normally soak to order, but you can soak in bulk.  This just means that your nuts need to be dried out a little.  You can do this in a dehydrator or in a low oven.  The nuts can then be stored in a air tight container and used on cereals and salads.

TOP FIVE REASONS TO SOAK NUTS, SEEDS (AND LEGUMES)

1 – Increase the amount of vitamins, especially B vitamins

2 – Produce greater levels of beneficial enzymes

3 – To make digestion easier

4 – Allows easier absorption of protein

5 – To limit enzyme inhibitors, tannins and potentially harmful toxins

We soak nuts in warm water and some people add a little salt.  Cover the nuts and leave them overnight, between 7 – 24 hours is best.  That’s it!

REASONS TO LOVE TAHINI (AND SESAME SEEDS)

Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and is one of our favourite ingredients.  A wonderful source of vegan creaminess that creeps into dressings, sauces, stews/ curry’s or mixed with jam/ molasses/ maple syrup and lathered on toast and crackers.  Tahini normally comes in light and dark varieties, dark has a much more toasted, full flavour.  Its not only the delicious aspects of tahini that are attractive, nutritionally its a proper superstar, its is actually one of the best sources of calcium found in nature and also keeps your skin vibrant and muscles toned.  It contains 20% protein which is higher than most nuts and is high in very good fats of the unsaturated variety.   See our Foodie Fact below for more nutritional bits and pieces.

Feel free to sweeten them as you see fit (taste the mix before rolling up) but I think they are mighty fine with just the apricots.  Good dried apricots will not be bright orange.  Try and get some un-sulphured apricots, they are out there and well worth the effort and slightly higher expense.  Hunza apricots especially (from Afghanistan) are really interesting.  If you are living in an area where loads of apricots grow, you could dry your own and even use the kernels instead of nuts or seeds.  Apricot kernels are delicious and becoming quite popular in the UK.

We love to play around with combinations of nuts, seeds and flavourings. The possibilities are huge and its much more satisfying and cheaper to make these at home. The main thing is having a dried fruit to bind everything together, normally soaked so that they break down nicely into a sticky paste. Then add nuts and seeds to the equation, any type that takes your fancy and flavour with things like citrus zest, cocoa/ cacao, rose water, orange blossom water, vanilla extract, pomegranate molasses, spices……etc.  Energy balls are a medium for a healthy snack charged with all the nutrition we need when leading an active and healthy life.

Nice sticky mix

Nice sticky mix

The Bits – For 12-15 energy balls

300g mixed nuts and seeds (soaked in water for at least 7 hours beforehand.  I used cashew, walnuts, brazils and sunflower seeds)

150g dried apricots (soaked in water for at least 1 hour before hand)

4 tbs toasted sesame seeds

2-3 tbs light tahini

2-4 tbs sweetener (maple syrup, brown rice syrup etc)

Do It

Drain your nuts and place in your blender/ food processor.  Blend them for a minute of so, scraping down the sides of the blender a few times.  Add the drained apricots and continue to blend until a chunky paste is formed.  You can keep the apricot soaking water, its lovely and sweet.  The mix should be sticky, you will be able to form small balls with  it between our fingers.  Stir in the tahini and sweetener (if using).

Pour the sesame seeds onto a plate and spread out.  With damp hands (stops the balls sticking to your fingers) take a roughly squash ball sized amount of mix (3-4 tbsp) and roll in your palms into a ball.  Pop it onto the plate and roll in the sesame seeds.  Apply a little pressure when doing this to make them stick.  Place the finished ball onto a serving plate.  Repeat until all the mix is used up.

These energy balls will firm up in the fridge and keep well in a plastic container out of the fridge.   Of course, they will not be lasting that long…..!

Serve

These type of energy balls are designed to be portable and travel perfectly.  They are especially good sustenance when exercising, down the gym or hiking.  They are a boost anytime and sometimes I like to nibble one before a busy day in the kitchen.  Intensely nutritious and easy to roll.

Chocolate and Coconut Energy Balls

Chocolate and Coconut Energy Balls – a simple variation with walnuts, sunflower seeds, cacao, coconut and vanilla extract

Foodie Fact

Tahini is a great friend of the BHK.  Very high in many vitamin B’s and vitamin E.  It also contains lot of minerals like iron and potassium and contains chemicals that help our liver detox.  Tahini is alkaline which makes it easy to digest and helps with weight loss.  As mentioned above it is very high in protein and even higher in calcium.  Try a scoop of tahini in the morning instead of dairy products and you are covering yourself for calcium and a healthy raft of other things.

—————–

Have you met Cosmos yet? He’s our new garden cat.  You may remember our dear Buster who has moved on…….where to we are not sure>  Cosmos is a character and it’s good to have him hanging out, lying down and occasionally purring.  Cats are great teachers in so many ways.

Cosmos - The new cat on the scene

Cosmos – The new cat on the scene

Categories: Desserts, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Charred Cauliflower Steaks with Coconut and Kale Puree

Charred Cauliflower Steaks with Coconut and Kale Puree

Charred Cauliflower Steaks with Coconut and Kale Puree

This really is vegan food for everyone!  Charred cauliflower is something that appeals to all and not something you’d expect from the humble cauli.  It’s actually a superstar veg and has been hopelessly cooked over the years, giving it a bad rep.  Don’t boil it to death, breath life into it by bringing out its intense flavours and creaminess.  Of course, this being the BHK, we have to talk a little about its shining health properties.  Its REALLY good for you (see ‘Foodie Fact’ below).

Here’s a dish that looks great, tastes mighty fine and takes very little preparation. This is the easy kind of recipe that anyone can whip up at home and make it look like a restaurant style dish. I love it when that happens! This is also a very BBQ friendly way of cooking cauliflower.  These steaks will grace any BBQ and make a tasty burger filling (or two).  Charring the cauliflower ‘steaks’ (what else could we call them?!) and poaching the rest of the cauli in coconut milk highlights two of the amazing flavours hidden in a humble cauliflower.  In this dish, you get the best of both worlds.  Great texture and superbly creamy when poached and blended (something to do with the natural pectins).

Vegans can easily cook this for self-confessed carnivores (aka people who cannot live without meat….until they try these!!!) and want to make their way into the world of plant-based food.  There is a huge shift towards plant-based foods happening and there are an infinite number of ways of making plants incredible; vegans are now making meringues and macaroons out of chickpea/ bean juice, the other night I made something like a parmesan cheese out of gram flour (its a long story……more to come in that department).  Endless is the plant kingdoms culinary surprises and I feel we are only beginning to harness the tastiness of plants.  Watch this space.  Vegans are pulling out all the creative stops!

BLEEDING BURGERS!?

Somebody has recently made a vegan burger than bleeds.  I have very contrasting feelings about that.  One, a little unsettled.  Two, amazing for our health, animals and the planet.  Looking at it like that, the little weirdness is something I can get over.  The more plants we pack into our diets, the better for all!

Its a stormy day up here on the hill, but we’ve had a few nice days of sunshine which always makes me very happy for our little veg patches.  I also get to dig my shorts out.  Our cauliflowers are nothing to write home about this year, slugs seem to find them irresistible and our slug issues are many and overwhelming sometimes.  You know we’ve only watered the garden once this year.  Once!  This is surely some kind of record.  Wales will not be running low on water anytime soon.  Its a blessing (in a way).  But maybe it could bless us more in autumn, than in the heart of summer.  We’ve been harvesting blackberries (strangely early), raspberries, rocket and kale.  We’ve also got a good looking crop of potatoes, beetroots, parsnips and we may even get a few peas if the wind stays down.

BEACH LOVIN’

When the sun comes out, we’re on the beach.  Our local beach Dinas Dinlle (where a lot of the pictures in Peace & Parsnips were taken) is one of my all-time favourites.  Backed by the Snowdonia hills and mountain rangers, it stretches for many miles, all the way from Caernarfon down to Trefor near the Llyn Peninsula.  There is a large Bronze age fort halfway along the beach and at one end you have a bird anctuary and the other, a dramatic mountain range, the Rivals.  I run along the beach quite often and when the tide is out, feel like the only person alive. No footprints to be seen, just me and the smooth sand stretching off into the distance, the sea birds, the occasional wave.  Even though the weather is….changeable, the sea is still warm and the water seriously rejuvenating.  A swim in the Irish Sea is not easily forgotten!  There is something very special about our local beach, overlooking Lovers Peninsula on Anglesey and the Menai Straits.  (Maybe I should start working for the Welsh Tourist Board?)  Anyway…..back to the kitchen….

No complaints here - North Wales is beautiful! Dinas Dinlle Beach

No complaints here – North Wales is beautiful! Dinas Dinlle Beach

The Bits – For 2
1 large cauliflower (750g)
1 white onion (finely diced)
3 teas ground cumin
2 teas turmeric
2 pinches chilli flakes
3 large stems kale (roughly 80g leaves only)
3 tbs light olive/ coconut oil
500ml coconut milk

Black pepper and sea salt

Do It

Trim your kale leaves off the woody stems.  Finely slice.  Cut cauliflower (as below) down the centre into two cross sections/ steaks, roughly 1 1/2 inches think.  Nice and chunky.  Trim the end of the stems off.  Roughly chop the rest of the cauliflower.  Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper.

Cut your 'steaks' from the centre of the cauliflower. Nice, neat, cross sections if poss. (they cook nicer that way)

Cut your ‘steaks’ from the centre of the cauliflower. Nice, neat, cross sections if poss. (they cook nicer that way)

Preheat oven to 180oC.

For the puree – In a large saucepan, add 1 tbs oil and warm on a medium heat, saute your onions for 2 minutes, until softened.  Now add the cauliflower and 2 teas turmeric and 2 teas cumin.  Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.  Pour in the coconut milk, bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer.  Pop a lid on and leave to cook for 15 minutes.  Stirring occasionally.

For the steaks – While the puree is simmering.  Grab a large, heavy frying pan.  On a high heat, warm 1 tbs oil.  When hot, place your cauliflower steak (one at a time), face down, into the pan.  There should be a good sizzle now.  Press down with a spatula to get it nicely charred.  Check after 1-2 minutes of frying.  Once you get a nice char, flip over and do the same on the other side.  You may need a drizzle more oil here. don’t be shy with it, this dish needs a bit of oil to get that nice colour.

Straight out of the pan, sprinkled with spices, ready for the oven

Straight out of the pan, sprinkled with spices, ready for the oven

Now place the cauliflower steak onto a baking tray, lightly sprinkle with ground cumin, chilli flakes and a few more twists of fresh black pepper.   Repeat the process with the other piece of cauliflower.  Once both are cooked, place the tray in the oven and finish off cooking the cauliflower for 15-20 minutes.  Check that the base of the stem is softened.  You can do this by trimming off a slice of the stem and trying it.

Finish the puree, by adding the finely sliced kale leaves and stirring them in.  Pop a lid back on and simmer for a few minutes.  Then blend the puree well with a stick blender or add to a food processor and blitz, thin with a little water if needed.  Check seasoning and keep warming.

Charred Caulifower Steak - Ready for your resident/ local carnivores approval!

Charred Caulifower Steak – Ready for your resident/ local carnivores approval!

Serve

On a warm plate, ladle out some sauce into the centre, spread out evenly in a circular motion with the base of the spatula and gently place a cauliflower steak in the middle.

Foodie Fact

Cauliflowers are actually really high in Vitamin C, in fact, this dish will easily supply your daily RDA for Vitamin C in one tasty plate.  Cauli also contain a good amount of protein and high levels of fibre.  It also offers a load of the vitamin B’s and a healthy helping of omega 3 fats.    So if you’d like to keep a healthy heart, brain, give yourself a bit of a detox, cauliflower is perfect.

Catching a few rare sun rays in the herb garden aka the sun trap

Catching a few precious sun rays in the herb garden aka the sun trap

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Photography, Recipes, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Banana, Buckwheat and Walnut Slices (Yummy, easy and don’t cost the earth!)

Banana, Buckwheat and Walnut Slices

Banana, Buckwheat and Walnut Slices

A nice slice of proper, old fashioned cake here. I love baking these traditional style cakes, you can’t go wrong with them.  Its so quick and easy to get together and it is also very cheap.  I doubt you’ll be able to cobble a cake together for much less.  This recipe is a request from one of our lovely guests at Trigonos, Debbie. It is a Trigonos classic and a variation on Ed’s (long serving chef and all around superhero) recipe that has been served to many thousands of artists, meditators, yoga students etc over the years. One of the best things about it, is its ease in preparation. Never a bad thing when working in a busy kitchen!

I was going to make Jack Monroe’s awesome looking Extra-Wholesome Banana Loaf and will be soon as I am always open to adding coconut oil to cakes.  I think its the closest we vegans can get to butter in baking and certainly adds richness and a fuller texture to your favourite slab of sweet happiness.  The extra-wholesome element in this cake is the buckwheat.  Adding great nutrition and a depth to the flavour of the cake.

PLEASE EAT MORE CAKE:)

Afternoon tea at Trigonos is always a highlight for most of our guests. It seems that this tradition is fast disappearing, maybe Great British Bake Off is reversing the trend a little, but a nice sit down with a cup of tea is a British institution that is dwindling due to our now fast paced lifestyles.  I think eating cake is essential to a balance, healthy, blissed out existence.  A little sweetness brings a smile.  Even if its a piece of fruit or one of the vast array of healthy cakes out there now; no sugar, gluten free etc.  We’re making one today actually, something revolving around polenta, garden blackberries and gram flour.  Watch this space (idea pinched from the brilliant Laura at Whole Ingredient blog!)

THE LUCKIEST CHEF ALIVE!

Trigonos is rocking at the minute with local produce.  I’m the luckiest chef living to be able to cook everyday with glorious organic produce.  Its all thanks to Judy and Owain who work their socks off year round to make the conditions right for these summer gluts.  The team have just podded over 200lb of peas alone, the sun has been out a little recently meaning the tomatoes are finally going red and we’ve a whole poly tunnel of them to munch, roast and/ or jar up.

Lovely to see the Ruby Chard back on the Trigonos Menu

Lovely to see the Ruby Chard back on the Trigonos Menu

As a cook, its a busy time of year, but a wonderfully satisfying one.  Our freezers are beginning to burst at the seams with blanched and fresh veggies, prepared for the more leaner months.  Our guests at the retreat centre really appreciate the fact that a lot of the food they eat was grown on the land, it certainly adds to the dining experience.  You can’t beat the flavour and vibrancy!

The courgettes are just taking off and that’s always interesting, overnight they can turn into something resembling a canoe crossed with a marrow.  They just blow up!  Sometimes these are great stuffed, as a real centre piece.  Basil has also ran wild this year, meaning many pesto/ pistou’s.  An abundance of basil is always a rare gift.  I’ve been loving Toasted Cashew and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, hopefully I’ll get the recipe on the BHK soon.  Jane and I are also doing a few house renovations and working on plenty of Beach House/ Peace & Parsnips based projects.  More news of those to follow soon.

Overall, I’m consistently amazed at how the Trigo guys eek out such abundant harvests from what is quite a damp and overcast part of the world with fairly dodgy volcanic soil. Its taken 17 years to get it to this stage.  I think that is the main lesson with organic farming/ veg growing.  Patience.

Gorgeous summer peas - post pod

Gorgeous summer peas – post pod

This recipe makes roughly 24 slices. It comes directly from my Trigonos recipe book (a cluster of precious, undecipherable scrap paper) where recipes are normally fit to serve 20-30.  Please feel free to scale it down a little.  I’ve also made this with added tahini and sesame seeds (no walnuts) and it becomes even richer with a nice chewy texture.  You may also like to add seasonal berries to the cake.  Raspberries and blackberries, for example, work beautifully.  As ever, use this recipe as a base and go wild!  Feel ever free to experiment…………  Use any oil you like, of course unrefined is much better, preferably with a neutral flavour.  If you don’t have buckwheat flour, you can use all wholemeal.

IDEAS FOR REPLACING EGGS

The bananas here act as a egg replacer.  Other vegan options for helping to bind things together when baking are apple sauce (cooked apples), silken tofu, mashed sweet potato/ squash, ground flax seeds……there are loads of healthy and effective plant based options.

This one’s for you Debbie!!!!!!!x

Trigonos farm - looking a bit misty yesterday.  We're having a pretty good year with produce, but unfortunately, much less sunshine than last year.

Trigonos farm – looking a bit misty yesterday. We’re having a pretty good year with produce, but much less sunshine than last year.

The Bits – 24 Slices

Do It

11 oz (310g) self raising wholemeal flour

5 oz (140g) buckwheat flour

10 oz (285g) unrefined brown sugar

 

1/2 pint (285ml) sunflower oil

1/2 pint (285ml) soya/ rice milk

4 ripe bananas

3 oz (85g) crushed walnuts

 

Do It

Oil and line a 10 inch x 14 inch (roughly) pan with baking parchment.  Preheat an oven to 375oF (190oC).

Sieve the flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl.   Mash your bananas in a seperate bowl with a fork, until smooth.  Make a well in the flour and sugar, gradually pour in your oil and milk followed by your bananas.  Stir until all is nicely combined (not too much).

Pour into the baking pan and pop in the oven for 40-45 mins.  Until your trusty skewer comes out clean when pressed into the centre of the cake.

Turn out onto a wire rack (removing the baking parchment) and leave to cool for 20 minutes.  Devour at will.

Banana. Buckwheat and Walnut Slices - This recipe makes a load, but don't worry, it freezes well!

Banana. Buckwheat and Walnut Slices – This recipe makes a load, but don’t worry, it freezes well!

Serve

Big cups of tea with your neighbour or granny.   Cats are also nice to have around when eating good cake.

Foodie Fact

Buckwheat is a great, gluten free alternative when used as a flour or grain.  Buckwheat is classed as a whole grain but is actually a fruit and is related to sorrel and rhubarb.  Buckwheat is a good source of magnesium and has other properties that promote good cardiovascular health.   Fibre is so important in a well balanced diet and buckwheat, being a whole wholegrain, is full of it.

I use buckwheat, both flour and grain, loads in Peace & Parsnips, things like Buckwheat Pancakes, Toasted Almond Buckwheat Crumble, Kasha with Rosemary, Apricots and Walnuts…….  It’s such a nutritious and tasty thang.

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Local food, Photography, Recipes, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

No-Knead Pizza Dough

Roasted Med Veg Pizza with Toasted Peanut Pesto and White Bean Puree

Roasted Med Veg Pizza with Toasted Peanut Pesto and White Bean Puree

A super easy way to make pizza or flatbread dough and the best thing is that it sits happily in your fridge for days, waiting patiently to be used.  No knead, a few stirs with a trusty wooden spoon and the flour’s gluten develops in the fridge and leaving it this way makes for a full flavoured dough.

Making pizza is always a load of fun, especially when kids are thrown into the mix.  Jane’s niece and nephew were visiting this week so we had to get some pizzas in the oven!  Jane and I don’t eat much white flour at all, but pizza night is our one exception.  I like a whole wheat base, or other flour, but a white flour base just seems like a treat and traditional.  After visiting the south of Italy last year, I don’t think Jane and I’s approach to pizza and pasta will ever be the same.  We now have very regular Italian feasts and making your own pizza bases is superbly simple.   We have used plain, all purpose flour here, but finer ground flours like strong/ bread flour or even ’00’ flour would be interesting.  ’00’ especially makes for a pizza base with more texture, a bit more chewy.

I love the way that flavour develops in dough when left for a time, of course sourdough bread is amazing and its that patient build up to a fantastic bread that really makes it a special food, a cooking process that is riddle with magic and mystery.  Yeast is just a very interesting thing!  Given the right care and attention, it works wonders on our humble ground grains.

Vegan toppings are super healthy and we always try to get as many veggies on our pizza as possible.  The pizza we made last night has toasted peanut pesto (very similar to the recipe in Peace & Parsnips) and white bean puree on for added richness.  It also has a layer of reduced tomato passata, roasted Mediterranean vegetables and red onion.  Overall, a highly OTT and delicious affair that left all around the table (vegans and non vegans) commenting how tasty pizza can be when cheese-less.  I ate Marinara (just tomato sauce and the occasional, single basil leaf) in Italy for over two weeks and never got sick of it.  I think I’ve always appreciated the base as much as the toppings!?  We are not huge fans of vegan cheeses, other than the homemade variety.  We are ever open minded however.  We’d love to think that one day, some clever sort will invent a cheese that melts like a dream and is also full of healthy plant power.  Otherwise, we’ll stick happily to nut and bean based cheese-like happiness.

Have you ever tried a pizza with a cauliflower base?  Its not exactly traditional, but a delicious alternative to flour if you are gluten free or looking for something that radiates good health.  We may get a recipe together soon and pop it on the BHK.  In fact, we’re turning into a right pair of dough balls this week.  We’re going baking mad.  With loaves and cakes all over the place.  I have just made a chocolate and coconut loaf that I’d love to share here soon.  Chocolate toast!  We’ve been lathering it with our neighbours home grown raspberry jam.  We only managed a handful of raspberries this year from our juvenile bush.  What a difference the length of a garden makes, Dawn’s razzers are rampant!

Pizza dough ready for action and a random niece (lovely Martha)

comment Pizza dough ready for action and a random niece (lovely Martha)

The Bits – 4 medium pizza bases
325ml water (lukewarm)
1 1/2 teas yeast
2 teas salt
1/2 tablespoon brown rice syrup (or sugar)
85ml olive oil
475g unbleached all-purpose flour

Extra flour and oil (for finishing the bases)

The dough proves and matures nicely in the fridge adding good flavour and texture

The dough proves and matures nicely in the fridge adding good flavour and texture

Do It

Sprinkle the yeast into the warm water, stir and set aside for a few minutes.

Add all dry ingredients to a container, mix with a wooden spoon/ spatula.  Gradually pour in the water, mixing all the time.  Then pour in the olive oil, mixing as you go.  The dough with now be taking shape, give it a few more good stirs.  Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave to prove in a warm place for 2 hours.  Then cover again with cling film, loosely, and pop the dough into the fridge.  Use the next day.  This dough keeps nicely for 10-12 days in a fridge, you can use it little by little.  We have made double the quantity, meaning you’re sorted for pizza or flatbreads for over a week.  Very convenient.

Best to bring the dough out of the fridge an hour before you need it, let it get back to room temperature.  You can scoop some out with a spoon if you’re not using the full amount.  Maybe you’re just looking for a couple of quick flatbreads?

On a cool, well floured surface, knock the dough back by kneading it a few times.  You will need to sprinkle extra flour over here.  Sticky is good and will make a pizza base with great texture.  Once the dough is knocked back, cut into pieces.  One decent pizza base is about the size of a apple.  Wipe your surface down and lightly oil a piece of baking parchment (makes things a lot easier).  Rub some oil into your hands and begin to form the dough into your desired pizza shape.  Do this by stretching the dough with your finger tips and the heel of your hand.  I like my pizza thin crust, meaning roughly 1/2-1cm depth.  Use more oil on your hands if its sticking.

Gently lift the parchment onto a baking tray and set aside for 15 minutes before adding your toppings.   You may need to stretch out the dough again at this stage, it might shrink a little.  Bake in a very hot over (220oC+ fan) for roughly 8-10 minutes.  You may like to swap it around 2/3 of the way through cooking depending on your oven (one side can cook quicker than the other).  You know your oven!  The all have their own little characteristics.

Vegan Pizza!!!!!!

Vegan Pizza!!!!!!

Serve

This dough is highly versatile and can be rolled out into thin or thick flatbreads, depending on what you’re eating.  Just remember to leave it for 10-15 minutes before putting it into the oven for the yeast to wake up and do its thing.

Foodie Fact

There is really very little good to say nutritionally about white flour in general, other than stock up on nice healthy toppings (go vegan!) and then enjoy the deliciousness.  Maybe pencil in a few extra push ups or lengths of the pool (see below)….

Swimming off all that pizza down at Dinas Dinlle

Swimming off all that pizza down at Dinas Dinlle

Categories: Baking, Photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Italian Style Cannellini Beans with Pickled Chillies and Basil Oil

 

Italian Style Cannellini Beans with Pickled Chillies and Basil Oil

Italian Style Cannellini Beans with Pickled Chillies and Basil Oil

Jane and I have been down at Whitstable at my sisters wedding bash.  Laura and Paul were married on a beautiful beach in Cornwall, but this one was for all the family and other rabble!  It was a wonderful time, a marquee in the back garden, bright sunshine all day and Jane and I cooked up a Italian feast; plenty of antipasti to start with salads, tarts, stews etc later on.  We had a local band play a few tunes and then an impromptu talent contest from the semi-sozzled/ fully-sozzled revellers.  Stand up comics, musicians and spoken word enthusiasts.  It was a proper giggle.

A quick and easy breakfast/ brunch was in order the morning after.  Something with a bit of substance.  This is a nice change from your normal beans on toast!  I love my beans and like to play with flavours in the morning, of course, sometimes a classic beans on toast is in order (you know the brand!) But homemade beans are so much tastier and better for us. They also only take a few minutes longer to prepare and combined with the herb oil and chillies, tickles the tastebuds nicely.

The pickled chillies are essential here, you can easily make your own or buy them in, you’ll find them easily in your local shops.  I love the way Italians add cheeky chilli to things, just a tickle to get you interested.  I am more of a unabashed chilli muncher and therefore eat a few whole with my brekkie.  Probably not for everyone, but I learnt this trick in Mexico and it certainly cuts through the morning head mist.

After all the extravagance of wedding food, this was one of my favourite things to eat all weekend!  So simple and tasty, I had to share it with you.  Here we serve it with some smoked aubergine puree, which is not your normal breakfast fare, but as with all party menu’s, there were some brilliant leftovers to hoover up.

With the antipasti table

With the antipasti table

Use any greens here, spinach, kale etc……  They make all the difference for so many reasons.

I like to soak and cook dried beans. More flavour and better texture. But you can use two tins of beans if you like.

You will have a little basil oil left over, it seems wise to make a little more than needed.  Cover it with cling film and it will keep well for a couple of days.  The basil may discolour a little.  You may like to blanch it for 30 seconds in boiling water to stop this.  But that seems like a lot of hassle in the morning (especially after a wedding party!)

BIG CONGRATS TO LAURA AND PAUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Laura cutting Mums massive Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake

Laura cutting Mums massive Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake

The Bits – For 2 Healthy Appetites

480g cooked cannellini beans (2 tins or 250g dried beans – soaked overnight in plenty of cold water)

4 big handfuls of spinach/ kale leaves

2 teas dried oregano

2 teas paprika

3 tbs tomato puree

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)

1-2 tbs fruity olive oil

 

1 handful sun dried tomatoes (roughly chopped) – Optional deliciousness

 

Basil Oil

1 large handful basil leaves (very finely chopped)

1 large handful parsley (very finely chopped)

2 tbs lemon juice

1 large clove garlic (crushed)

75 ml olive oil

Large pinch sea salt

 

Sourdough Bread (for toast)

2 ripe tomatoes (chopped)

Pickled red chillies (as you like)

 

Do It

For the basil oil, stir all the ingredients together.  You can also pop it all into a good blender if you don’t fancy all the fine chopping.  Blitz until the herbs are broken down.

In a medium saucepan, on medium low heat, warm the beans, adding all the ingredients except the spinach leaves and olive oil.  Stir regularly on a low simmer for about 7 minutes, take off the heat and stir in the spinach leaves and olive oil (for optional richness).   Check the seasoning and then pop a lid on and get your toast and tomatoes ready.

Italian Brunch Beans

Italian Brunch Beans

Serve

Spoon the beans onto a plate with the toast, chillies and tomatoes.  Drizzle liberally with your herb oil.  Sit in the sun and dream of the Italian coastline and the aquamarine Med.  If its a brunch time, a chilled glass of Prosecco is perfectly acceptable.

Foodie Fact

It has been shown that around the world, cultures who eat a good amount of beans live longer.  There are of course other factors, but beans are just incredible for many reasons.   Beans are very low GI, making them a brilliant way to fuel up for a day, slowly releasing energy throughout the day.  Beans are of course full of fibre and certain chemicals which have a strong detoxifying effect on the body.  Plus, they are absolutely packed with pure plant protein with non of the nasty additions you get with animal proteins.  Beans may seems a little uninteresting to some, but they are really a magical wonder food!

Jane at sunset near The Old Neptune Pub, Whistable

Jane at sunset near The Old Neptune Pub, Whistable

Categories: Breakfast, Dressings, Healthy Eating, Photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Avocados – Friend of Foe! (plus all you need know)

rsz_avocado-friend-or-foe

FRIEND! *

Avocado on toast.  Who saw that craze coming?!  It has swept the UK and has placed the humble avo at the forefront of healthy eating and dairy alternatives.  But many are still a little sceptical about eating it regularly.  Surely one of our favourite exotic fruits in the BHK, avocados are a vegans dream when looking for a healthy dose of richness and a convenient spoonful of heaven.   Avocado is considered a ‘complete food’ due to its amazing nutritional profile.  We love them so much, we felt compelled to write a whole post about them where the glorious AVO takes centre stage…..

Finding a good, consistent supply of avocados in Britain is like the holy grail for a cook.  They can be so hit or miss.  Some are overly ripe, but generally they are as hard as bullets and sometimes never seem to soften up.  Its the avocado lottery and you’re never sure until you cut into one just what you’re going to get.  This makes sense, they are fragile guys, easily bruised and oxidised.  They’ve also come a long way and when we are in Wales (and not Spain, or somewhere else wandering the world) we treat them like rare and precious jewels.  Enjoying them accordingly.

My favourite avocadoes are in Mexico.  I camped in the Michoacan region, actually in a avocado farm and had memorable breakfasts, avocado feasts, sitting happily under a tree with a big spoon and smile.  I find it incredible that we’ve come up with a way to get them all the way to Wales, in tact and generally (most of the time) edible.

A LITTLE HISTORY LESSON

Avocadoes are actually classed as a berry, a tree in the same family as cinnamon and bay and are sometimes interestingly called an ‘Alligator Pear’.  They have been used by humans since as early as 10,000BC and are indigenous to Mexico and Central America, although are now grown all around the world; from Spain to Vietnam, the Philippines to Rwanda.  In Britain we only became aware of the avo in the 60’s when Sainsbury’s began stocking avocado pears.  This could explain the sudden rush from avocado coloured bathroom suites (which are actually coming back into fashion).

The avocado tree needs a climate without frost and little wind, although the Hass variety can put up with temperatures below zero.  The ‘Hass’ is now the most popular tree in cultivation, accounting for 80% overall, and each one is related to a single Mother tree, grown by a mail carrier named Rudolph Hass in California, 1935.  It is a very productive type and is known as a hybrid Guatemalan. Other varities include Monroe, Bacon, Zutano and Lula.  The word ‘Avocado’ comes from the Spanish ‘Aguacate’ which in turn comes from the Nahuatl ‘Ahuactl’ which was also used to describe testicles.  You can see why!

One of the largest avocado trees in Veracruz, Mexico

One of the largest avocado trees in Veracruz, Mexico

PACKED WITH BRILLIANT FATS AND THINGS TO MAKE YOU SHINE!

Avocado is a fruit, sporting one of the proudest pips going!  We get 75% of the energy from avo’s via fats.  They are also full of protein and dietary fibre.  Its a brilliant source of vitamins A, some B’s, C, E and K.  It also boasts a load of minerals; potassium, copper, zinc, iron and manganese.

Avo is a fatty fruit, something you don’t see very often.  These fats have put some people of avo, but I think awareness about good fats is spreading far and wide and avo’s are a brilliant source of health giving monounsaturated fats.  These account for around 63% of the overall fat content and our bodies love them.  Polyunsaturated and saturated fats account for the other 20 and 17 percent respectively.

Avocado oil also helps to fight harmful free radicals and assists in the absorption of several essential healthy nutrients like lycopene and beta-carotene.  Folates and Omega 3 Fatty Acids in avocado help to keep the brain healthy and help to combat Alzheimer’s.   Folates also help to reduce the risk of strokes.  Folic acid can also help during pregnancy, aiding the development of a healthy foetus.  Avocadoes also contain anti-oxidants that support the immune system and help revert premature aging as well as enzymes and nutrients that aid digestion by reducing inflammation.

HEALTHY HEART

The monounsaturated fats in avo’s contain oleic and linoleic acids.  These are fats that take care of our hearts, regulating cholesterol and helping to fight LDL (lower density lipoprotein) cholesterol and increasing HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol.   This is great news, as LDL leads to furry arteries, which inhibit blood flow increasing the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease.  HDL is our friend and promotes a healthy cardiovascular system.

Avo’s also contain something called beta-sitosterol, a plant based fat that reduces LDL cholesterol by blocking absorption from the intestines.  This improves the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol in our blood.  Omega 3 fatty acids are also present in the mighty avocado, which help to regulate blood pressure.  These polyunsaturated fats assist our heart in beating normally, reducing the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease.

rsz_avocado-food-blog-tour-1_2

SPEEDY METABOLISM

These friendly monounsaturated fats also speed up our basal metabolic rate (BMR).  This is the rate at which we burn calories when at rest.  Calories keep us ticking over, repairing cells, keeping our body temperature regular, pumping blood.  Eating avocado regularly can actually help us lose weight, contrary to what many people think.  These fats make us less fat.

BEAUTY TIPS
Avocadoes can be mashed and made into a soothing face or hair mask, as well as a skin scrub.  Avocado oil has all kinds of magical properties, they are high in vitamin E which helps to eradicate free radicals and combat aging, promotes collagen growth and skin elasticity and hydrates the skin.  It can be used as a make up remover and is increasingly being used as a natural alternative in the beauty industry.

Beautifully rich avo's

Beautifully rich avo’s

TASTY AVO IDEAS

There are the obvious ones.  Mash them up with a fork and make your favourite guacamole style salad.  Spread them on toast (all the rage in trendy city cafes at the moment).  Add them to smoothies, make ice cream out of them, chop into salads and they are great added as a soup garnish (like they do in Mexico).  Try a Indonesian style avocado smoothie, coconut milk plus avocadoes, blended and then drizzled with chocolate sauce.  Wow!  I’ve even heard of someone baking them, but I am yet to get around to this.  Will we see a baked avocado in this years Great British Bake Off (a tv program to those reading outside of Great Britain).  I doubt it, although would be intrigued to hear Mary’s comments.  In Glasgow, I am sure someone has battered and deep fried one (how did that go btw?)

TOP 5 BEACH HOUSE AVOCADO RECIPES

Toasted Corn, Avocado and Basil Salad

Raw Courgette Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta

Avocado, Apple and Coconut Breakfast Pudding

Avocado and Basil Cheese

Chard, Coriander and Avocado Smoothie

RIPEN WELL AND KEEP ‘EM FRESH

Avocados are best eaten when they have just a little give to them when pressed, although sometime a very ripe avocado is a thing of sheer beauty, this can be a gamble as they can turn very quickly into an over-ripe, blackened mush.  Do not buy avocados with blemishes or black dots on their skins.  They will ripen quicker when kept with apples and bananas, due to ethylene gas.  Some large producers and supermarkets use ‘ethylene rooms’ in order to ripen avocados quickly.

Once cut into, avocados can be kept in a fridge for a few days, best to either squeeze some lemon juice over them and store in a sealable container or wrap tightly in cling film.  Exposure to air is an avocadoes worst nightmare.  Avocadoes turn blackish brown due to their iron content.

The easiest way to peel a ripe avocado is to take out the stone and cut into quarters lengthways, then simply peel off the skin like a banana.  You can also scoop out the lovely fruit with a spoon.

Warning – avocado skins and pips can be dangerous to animals like dogs and cats, cattle, horses, goats and rabbits.  Be careful not to leave them hanging around or pop them into their feeding bucket.

SO FRIEND OR FOE?

You know the answer after all of that!  It’s highly conclusive, avocados are our supreme amigo!  Friend to the heart, brain, skin, eyes and tastebuds.  They help us maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure and make our skin shine.  They are a meal in themselves and surely one of the finest fruits to be found.  Love thy good fats and eat an avocado a day (keeps the grim reaper at bay).

PS – You have to try that Indonesian Avocado Smoothie.  Its sensational!!!!!

~ If you created the ‘Friend or Foe’ image, or know who did, please let us know and we’ll credit you.  Can’t find you online ~

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Aviyal – Keralan Coconut and Vegetable Curry with Watermelon and Pineapple Salad

Aviyal - Keralan Coconut and Vegetable Curry with Pineapple and Watermelon Salad

Aviyal – Keralan Coconut and Vegetable Curry with Pineapple and Watermelon Salad

A simple, light summer curry with all the joys and sparkling nutrition of coconut and seasonal vegetables.  This is a recipe straight outta Peace & Parsnips and was recently featured online here in Reveal Magazine.  Recipes like this are a wonderful reminder for me of special times spent travelling and cooking in India.  Kerala is surely one of the most beautiful corners of the planet and its food is surprisingly vegan friendly, diverse and really healthy.

This is a recipe I learnt from my friend Narendra on the patio of a wooden hut in a yoga retreat, rural Tamil Nadu.  Although this is (probably) a traditional Keralan style curry, they love it in neighbouring Tamil Nadu also.  I had been eating it regularly in India and was so pleased when Narendra took the time to sit down with me and finally get a recipe on paper.  He taught me his families traditional recipe, from the ancient temple town of Madurai, and it was pleasing simple.  Like many Indian family staples, the difference is in the freshness of the ingredients; the vegetables and the spices.  Most Indian households will have what I call a ‘Sabji’ (Vegetable) man.  Just like a milk man in the UK, he wanders the streets in the mornings selling his wares from a cart, shouting up to the windows of house wives what’s good , freshest and of course, on special offer!  Fresh vegetables are everywhere in India and veg markets are frequent and always interesting to wander around and pick up some funky looking spice or odd looking root (maybe a mooli or two?).

The beaches of North Kerala are stunning!

The beaches of North Kerala are stunning! Kannur

Although this is a simple recipe, cooked most days in Keralan homes, it adapts well to the changing seasons in most countries.  Any variety of vegetables can be used in its preparation and Aviyal lends itself perfectly to British/ European veg.  In fact, Narendra’s grandmother used to call things like carrots ‘British veg’ as they we only grown and popularised in the time of the Raj, when much of Indian cooking as we know it was altered and influenced by British tastes.

The ladies at Varnam Homestay, Wayanand, Kerala - Lunch prep in full swing

The women Varnam Homestay, Wayanand, Kerala – Lunch prep in full swing

I was lucky to cook in a beautiful kitchen near Wayanad National Park, Northern Kerala with some amazing ladies.  Here I learnt some proper Keralan classics and top tips that you can only learn by actually getting your hands on the pots and pans.  I loved the way that they used very roasted coconut to add depth and flavour to sauces, especially when used with piles of freshly grated ginger.  I also loved cooking with a wide range of local produce, all of their dishes contained only ingredients from their own land.  Spices and all!  They even grew their own coffee and we were inundated each day with fresh exotic fruits, many of which I’d never seen before.  Mangoes grew above the hammocks in the garden, guavas, green figs, coconuts, plantains……you can imagine, it was a bit like eden/ nirvana!

Cooking at Varnam Homestay, Kerala

Cooking at Varnam Homestay, Kerala

Aviyal is such a healthy, light dish, nothing like the rich and fiery curries of the much of North India.  Coconut is king in the south, making travelling around South India a foodie paradise for vegans.  Its up there with places like Thailand or parts of the Med for traditional vegan dishes.  Anywhere that the vegetable or coconut thrives, you find brilliant vegan dishes.  Vegan food is so creative and evolving all the time, but it is nice to find dishes on my travels that reflect a cultures heritage and history.  We’ve always eaten and enjoyed vegan dishes, we just don’t necessarily give them that name (which, for whatever reason, can put some people off).

Indian spices, down at the market

Indian spices, down at the market

The Bits – For 4
For the curry
•2-3 fresh green chillies
•2 big handfuls of freshly grated or desiccated coconut
•2tsp cumin seeds
•220ml coconut milk or unsweetened soya yogurt
•2 large carrots, scrubbed
•2 large potatoes, scrubbed
•1 large courgette
•6 fat asparagus spears
•2 green plantains, peeled
•200ml water
•1tsp ground turmeric
•1tsp of sea salt
•1 big handful of mangetout or green beans
•2tbsp coconut oil
•2tsp mustard seeds
•3tbsp curry leaves
For the pineapple & watermelon salad
•A small pineapple
•One third of a small watermelon (don’t bother deseeding)
•1 large cucumber
•1 small handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
•A pinch of sea salt
•A large pinch of chaat masala mix or black salt (optional)

Do It
In a pestle and mortar or a food processor, blend together the chillies, coconut and cumin seeds (if you’re using desiccated coconut, add 2tbsp of the coconut milk to make a thick paste). This is best done in advance and can be left overnight in the fridge to develop zing.

Cut the carrots, potatoes, courgette, asparagus and plantains into 2.5cm pieces. Heat the water in a large pan and add the turmeric, salt, carrots and potatoes. Bring to a steady boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and pop a lid on the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the courgettes and plantains and cook for 10 minutes more, keeping the lid on.

Add the coconut paste to the curry with the coconut milk or yogurt and stir carefully to combine. Cook uncovered for 8-10 mins on a gentle simmer. Check that the carrots and potatoes are tender, then add the asparagus and mangetout and remove the pan from the heat. Cover, set aside for a few minutes.

Jane and I in the Yoga Retreat, Tamil Nadu

Jane and I in the Yoga Retreat, Tamil Nadu

Serve

Really simply, with steamed rice.  Keralans love their rice!  A crunchy salad is great as a side, exotic fruits work well here with Aviyal.  This is how they served it in the Yoga Ashram (where the food was excellent).

Foodie Fact

Coconuts are wonderfully healthy, containing high levels of Lauric Acid which is anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacteria.  They also have the highest level of electrolytes known to man, making them perfect when exercising or when dehydrated.  In some parts of the world it is even used intravenously for the purpose of re-hydration.  Coconut can boost our metabolism and make our skin shine.

Keralan sunset

A Keralan sunset, Kannur

Categories: Curries, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes, Salads, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top Tips and Health Benefits of Juicing plus Kale, Beetroot and Green Pepper Juice Recipe

Beetroot, Kale and Green Pepper Juice

Beetroot, Kale and Green Pepper Juice

Here is your five a day in just a few gulps!  Juicing is the easiest way of supercharging your day and getting loads of shining fruits and veggies into your diet.

I love experimenting with new flavour combos in our morning juice.  What do we have available and will they sing together in a glass?!  This one is backed up by a hit of ginger and lemon (whole, the zest is awesome in many ways), apples, carrots and a handful of mint.  Its a feast and a massive wake up call to the immune system.  When you juice, you can forget about the need for expensive supplements, vitamin pills etc.  Nothing can compete with a fresh juice.  Juicing also helps in weight loss and makes you much sexier!!!

SUPERCHARGE YOUR DAY

Our favourite way to start any day is a glass of freshly made juice. It just seems to make perfect sense. Our bodies have just woken from (hopefully) a nice long sleep, when we have basically been fasting for many hours. We’re dehydrated and a little depleted, we need a serious boost of something nutritious and preferably, charged with vitality and vibrant flavours. Juicing is the easiest way to get loads of essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, enzymes etc) down the hatch, very easy on the digestion and we can feel the benefit soon after. Energy levels rise and we get a healthy glow about us.

The contents of this juice are a sign that things are really flying now this summer. You could call this our ‘Veg Box Nectar’, basically whatever we get from the farm in a juicer with a little consideration for overall flavour. Really though, all these sensational veggies and fruits cannot taste bad in a glass. There are probably a few guidelines to a good juice; go easy on the cabbage, turnip or swede, too much whole citrus (with pith on) can be a little challenging.

We always try to add greens, like Kale, Chard or Spinach, to our juices as they are the bodies best friend.  Greens contain so many amazing nutrients, not to mention things like protein, calcium, iron….the list goes on and on.  They also contain bags of chlorophyll which helps the liver detox and purifies and rebuilds blood cells, also helping with high blood pressure.  Eating a lot of greens regularly, daily if possible, is our number one suggestion for staying healthy and feeling amazing.

TOP JUICING TIPS

EAT YOUR FRUIT AND JUICE YOUR VEGGIES – As a basic rule, this works a treat.  Many fruits are high in sugar and unless they are packed with fibre, can make your blood sugar levels rocket.  Its best to drink a balanced juice, with sweet fruits as a sweetener and not a base.  Some root vegetables can also be high in sugar, worth bearing in mind.  Having said that, a pure fruit juice is an awesome treat!

PREP WELL – Get everything cut down to size and peeled (if needed) before you start.  This will make juicing a breeze. We always fill our juicer shoot up (wide funnel juicers are best) before turning the machine on, this is more efficient.  Wash up before you drink the juice, for some reason, this seems to make it less of a chore!?  Not juicing because of the washing up is a very poor show.

DON’T HANG AROUND! – Juices are highly perishable and are best drank as soon as possible to get maximum flavour and health benefits.

REASONS TO GET JUICY

INTENSE NUTRIENTS – Juicing condenses down produce into a glass, you can cram so much goodness into a juice.  One glass can contain 5 carrots, 3 apples, 1 lemon, 5 kale leaves…….whatever your imagination can come up with!  To eat all of those in one sitting would take a long time and lot of chewing….

DIGESTION – Juices take almost no digestive energy, meaning the body is getting loads of nutrients and expending very little in return.  That energy can be used for other things like replenishing and rejuvenating.

LOSE WEIGHT, LOOK GOOD – Juices can really help here, accompanied by a good, balanced diet (we’d of course recommend a vegan diet) and regular exercise.  The intense nutrient hit you get from juicing helps keep the skin shining and hair and nails strong, it will also help to make you feel and look younger.

WHICH JUICER?

There are two main types of juicers, cold press or centrifugal.  We have always used a centrifugal juicer and if they are well made and powerful, produce good results and extract plenty of juice (you can check this by pressing out the waste pulp – this pulp can be made into tasty burgers or muffins).

Centrifugal juicers basically extracted the juice using a spinning blade.  Cold press (or masticating) juicers normally extract more juice and at low temperature, maintaining all of the nutrient content.  They are quieter and can be used to make nut milks, however, they are more expensive.

We’ve tried out many juicers and our favourites are Sage.  They sent us a juicer over a year ago and its been brilliant since then.  Very well made, easy to clean and powerful.  They are not the cheapest, but if you are serious about getting into juicing, its well worth the investment.

First Summer Strawberries

First Summer Strawberries

BERRY NICE SUMMER:)

We just ate our first wild strawberries from the garden and they were so sweet.  The song ‘Summer Wine’ by Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra sprang to mind.  A classic with a proper retro video.  Lee knows how to wear a moustache!  A perfect tune for strawberry munching in the sun.  Jane and I have been playing it recently on guitar and it’s a cheeky tune that makes people smile.  The raspberries are coming at Trigonos and we’ve been inundated with gorgeous gooseberries (so sweet) and blackcurrants (potently purple).  This time of year is just one long celebration of sensational seasonal produce, even the cauliflowers are making an appearance!

FAT, SICK AND NEARLY DEAD

This documentary came out a while back and has influenced loads of people and certainly spread the good juicing word around the globe.  Going on a juice fast can have wonderful health benefits, incredible transformations, as highlighted by the personal stories in this film.  Some friends of ours are going to try it out, although a shorter version, it will be interesting to see the results.  Jane and I feel that juice fasts can be an incredibly cleansing and revitalising opportunity, although we’d not recommend carrying them on for too long.  Juicing does take fibre out of your fruits and veggies and we love fibre in the BHK.  Its essential for maintaining good health and digestion.

Along with a healthy balanced diet, juicing can be a brilliant habit to get into, the benefits of which are best experienced to be believed!!!!

Here’s a recipe for a seriously tasty juice, full of zing and good things:

The Bits – For 2

3 kale leaves (with stems)

3 large carrots (scrubbed)

1-2 inch fresh ginger (peeled – with a teaspoon is easiest)

2 large apples (halved)

1 large beetroot (scrubbed – with leaves if you’ve got any)

1 green pepper (deseeded and halved)

1 small lemon (whole)

Do It

Pop all into a high speed juicer, leaves first, then ginger and lemon.  The carrot and apple will flush everything through.

Serve

In your favourite glass (or jars if you are trendy, or poor, or both) with a smile.

Foodie Fact

Beetroots are in the same family as chard and spinach.  The beetroot leaves (greens) are exceptionally high in iron, calcium, vitamin A and C.

Many athletes are now getting into beetroots.  Apparently it lowers muscle fatigue and is of course, amazingly nutritious with huge amounts of beta carotene and a good hit of sugar to keep you well fuelled for a workout.  Beetroot is also ideal for detoxing, as it kick started the detox process in the liver.  Ideal for a morning juice.

TOP BEET TIP – If you have beetroot fingers, all purple, try rubbing some lemon juice over them.  This helps.  Or wear gloves in the first place.

Categories: Breakfast, Detox, Healthy Living, Juices, Nutrition, Recipes, Summer | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

When the Welsh sun is out and proud, salads suddenly become highly relevant, essential and a playground for all things fresh and seasonal.  They become a palate for vibrant colours and fresh textures.  This recipe has a real taste of South Asia about it, with the chillies, sesame, ginger, orange and tamari.  Certainly a wake up call for the taste buds!  I love to take gorgeous British produce and jazz them up with some global flavours.

We are getting the first stages of our glorious organic veg bounty from the hardworking local growers and its truly a beautiful time of the year!  Spring has bowed out to full on early summer (with the occasional patch of dramatic storms) and things are starting to leap from the ground in the most wonderful ways.  Even our garden is waking up and every fertile day sees growth.

ORGANIC VEG FARMERS ARE REAL HEROS

Tyddyn Teg is back up and running with a new gang of lovely folk at the helm, they even have a facebook page this year! The farm is looking incredible which means we are going to be a busy one in the BHK, in the best possible way.  Loads of fresh and lovely local produce (you can probably tell we’re a bit excited about this!!!)  The farm is 10 acres and a huge under taking.  These guys are real hero’s, nothing to do with money and profit and all to do with integrity, promoting organic farming practices and ensuring folk around here have healthy affordable food.

John and Pippa have been growing organic veggies near Bethel for many years and have taken a well earned step back, it has taken six young people to replace them!  We’ll be showcasing their beautiful produce throughout the year.

BOK CHOI LOVES WALES!

Succulent Bok Choi is something that thrives in poly tunnels up here and we use a lot of it at Trigonos and in the BHK.  Trigonos have many different varities growing at the minute.  My favourite is the crunchy, peppery, purple Mizuna Leaf (surely a close relative?!) a real surprise package in salads and stir fries.  Does anyone really, truthfully, know the real difference between bok and pak?  It’s a size thing no?  I feel that flavour and texture wise, there is very little between the two.  They sound so exotic and yet thrive here in North Wales, as does our brassica buddy Mr Kohlrabi with his alien tendrils.  Its basically a turnip/ cabbage crossed with an extra terrestrial space craft.  Sometimes called a German Turnip.  We love them grated in slaws, roasted whole or just chopped simply into a salad.

THE WANDERERS RETURN

Jane and I’s wandering summer got off to a flying start in Durham and Newcastle this weekend.  We both made talks at the brilliant Vegan Festival Newcastle which took  place in the lovely, historical Assembly Rooms.  We met loads of inspiring people, vegans and non-vegans alike, and really enjoyed our first speaking engagements.  Afterwards we enjoyed a cool drink high above the River Tyne, perched in the Baltic Art Gallery Restaurant.  Newcastle looked glorious with the setting sun and glittering river, even the roaring gangs of stag-do’s seemed to mellow out as the light became richer.

Delicious vegan salad with avocado on toast - Flat White, Durham

Delicious vegan salad with avocado on toast – Flat White, Durham

On Sunday we whizzed over to beautiful Durham (where my family are all from) and spent a morning at Flat White Cafe with the ace Patrick and his gang of merry baristas.  Its such a buzzy little place, tucked in a nook, packed with style and surely the coolest place to enjoy a coffee in the North East of England.  You get a proper mug of intense Americano!

So its been a weekend of meeting kindred spirits and plenty of celebrating so returning to the little Beach House on the hill seemed like a very peaceful, healthy proposition indeed.  This salad certainly brightened things up, its insanely nutritious and fresh.  We are looking forward to more food and chat-based adventures this summer mixed in with our usual raw food month (probably in September this year).  This salad gave us a flavour of what is to come……(minus the toasty sesames!)

Jane and I in Durham at the weekend.  We had a book signing at Flat White Cafe.

Jane and I in Durham at Flat White is Durham, signing books and sipping sensational coffee.

The Bits – For 2

1 large head of Bok Choi (leaves trimmed from the heart)
1 handful red cabbage (finely diced)
1 courgette (cut into long thin slices or thin ribbons using with a French peeler)
1 orange (cut into segments, without pith preferable)
1/2 small red chilli (thinly sliced)
1 tbs fine capers
1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
2 tbs fresh coriander (finely chopped)

Ginger and Orange Dressing
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs orange juice
2 teas cider vinegar
1/2 teas tamari
1/4 teas finely grated ginger
1/2 teas agave syrup
1/4 teas orange zest

Do It

Peel the pith off your orange with a sharp knife, following the shape of the fruit, to leave very little pith.  Then, holding the orange in one hand, gently cutting each segment out, using a sawing motion, just inside the pith of each segment.  When you are finished, squeeze out the juice from the left over orange piece to make your dressing.

In a nice shallow bowl or large plate, scatter your bok choi and then courgette ribbons/ slices and orange.  Sprinkle over the red cabbage, chillies, capers and finally the coriander and sesame seeds.

Whisk up the dressing in a small bowl and drizzle over the salad.

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad - A proper summer zinger! #vegan

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad – A proper summer zinger!

Serve

This crunchy number makes for a very colourful side dish and just by adding a little chopped firm tofu or a handful of nuts and serving with some bread, a brilliant summery main course.  Adding the tofu and nuts are an obvious protein addition to most plant-based dishes, but there are so many ways of getting good, healthy, plant protein onto our plates:

We have oodles of fresh basil at the minute and feel that a couple of handfuls of basil leaves would be quite sensational (and probably highly excessive in a good way!)

Foodie Fact

Sesame seeds have a higher calcium content than milk!  In fact, they are a great source of so much!  Read more nutritional info here.

Random little fact, Myanmar is the top producer of sesame seeds in the world.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Organic, Photography, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Summer, Vegan, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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: Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Inspiration, Vegan, Vegetarian | 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…

View original 414 more words

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,980 other followers

%d bloggers like this: