Highlights from our Vegan Christmas Cooking Workshop – 2/12/18 Manchester

A CHRISTMAS FEAST TO REMEMBER!

Our day started well before dawn in North Wales, then we all scooted down to our wonderful venue Food Sorcery in Manchester and got the ovens fired up….

Getting the Apple Mull rockin’ first thing

With a team of amazing people, we can do anything…..

The awesome Cook Vegan! team getting ready; Mandy, Amy, Nita, Claire and Steve

Vegan Christmas Cooking Workshop in full swing. High energy, loads of amazing dishes:)

The day was a mixture of cooking demonstrations and hands on cooking, working from our specially designed recipe booklets and loads of support from the team.

Still swinging! Groups worked in threes to cook a three course festive vegan menu, with all the trimmings. Menu below.

Amy being amazing (as usual!:)

Some of the Portobello Mushroom Wellingtons made by the teams, recipe coming soon on the blog….

You can imagine, the Wellingtons didn’t last long. All that cooking gives a good appetite right!!:)

 

Our menu for the day:

MENU

Welcome Drink
Hot Apple Mull

Starter
Roast Squash and Ginger Soup with Almond Bacon and Coriander

Main Course
Portobello Mushroom Wellington with Toasted Walnut and Rosemary Stuffing
Glazed Rainbow Roots
Pan fried Brussels Sprouts with Black Kale and Vegan Parmesan
Yorkshire Puddings
Cranberry, Orange and Prosecco Sauce
Rich Christmas Gravy
Creamy Mash

Dessert
Festive Chocolate and Orange Brownie Cake with Mulled Berries and Vanilla Ice Cream

 

Is this the best time of the day? Lunch! An early Christmas gathering, a great rehearsal for the big day. Everyone left with a bespoke recipe booklet, a full planner for Christmas lunch and confidence that 2018 will be the best vegan Christmas ever!!!

We hope to be doing more vegan cooking events in the new year, you’ll find all of our upcoming events right HERE.

 

You’ll find more pictures of the day and the food we cooked

on Jeremy’s blog, right HERE.

 

Extra special thanks to this pair. The super talented and sensational Mr Steve and NitaX

 

I’d just like to thank all who came to the workshop and contributed so positively, making it a special day.

 

Hope to see you again soon in Manchester, Spain or somewhere else in the UK!

 

MORE EVENTS RIGHT HERE

 

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Categories: Cooking demos, Cooking Workshops, Events, healthy, photography, plant-based, Vegan | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Nourishing Tempeh and Miso Ramen Bowl – Steaming, Soul Soup

Quick Tempeh and Miso Ramen Bowl with Shiitake Mushrooms- Vegan and Gluten-free

This is one of my favourite all-time dishes.  We eat this all the time!  A warming, nourishing and revitalising bowl of perfect winter soul food.  A ramen rainbow!

Xmas is almost upon us, but this week I’m focusing on healthy, light and satisfying recipes to keep us full of energy for this busy time of year.

This is a really quick meal and is a technique that once you’ve tried it out, can be very flexible.  Swap veggies around and use tofu instead of tempeh, or some beans, for a protein pick me up.

This soup is BIG on flavour, with the fermented goodness of miso and tempeh, it’s packed with all the nutrition we need to face up to and thrive in winter time.

We love these noodles, brings back great memories of our trips East. Here’s a view from a village restaurant in Yunnan, South West China,

MISO!

Adds a lovely, umami filled flavour.  I use it in marinades, dressing, roasted vegetables and stews/ soups, it adds a totally new dimension and also has a load of health benefits, see the ‘Foodie Fact’ below.

You can get miso in all kinds of colours; yellow, white, brown, red…..it’s normally made with soya beans but is also made using barley, seaweed, millet, hemp seeds and rice.  There are hundreds of different types, many regional.

It’s a fermented food, so filled with probiotic goodness, excellent for our digestive system or our ‘gut’ as many call it.  A healthy gut has been linked with a sense of well-being, plus good mental and physical health.

Miso’s flavour really depends on how it’s made, best unpasteurised, it can vary from sweet to salty, savoury to fruity and fermentation time can be anything from five days to several years.

Miso is traditionally from China (named ‘Hishio’) and has been made since the Neolithic period!  Miso soup is a staple in Japan, eaten most days and with white rice, makes for a tasty breakfast which energises and stimulates digestion.

Tempeh may well be a new ingredient for you, it’s basically fermented soya beans, packed together.  It is a very healthy and delicious food, even better for us than tofu.  It traditionally comes from Indonesia and is packed with protein and adds a nice texture to a bowl of steaming noodles.  Tempeh is becoming more popular and you’ll find it in your local, friendly health food shop for certain.  Some supermarkets stock it too.

We ate a lot of noodles on our recent China trip. Here’s a bowl topped with fermented bamboo shoots (very funky indeed) and a fermented bean paste broth, something like miso.

XMAS IS COMING (PROMISE:)

I will post some more traditional vegan Christmas recipes soon, but we can’t live on Christmas pud and cream sherry alone, we need some quick and tasty food in winter.

I hope you like this hearty, healthy noodle broth, I’ve been cooking versions of it at Trigonos for years and it’s always a hit at our cooking events.  I think the most surprising thing is how easy and tasty it is.

Steaming bowls, good for the soul!

Loaded with chillies! Just what we need in the winter, very high in vitamin C

Recipe Notes

This is such a quick recipe to cook, make sure all your preparation and chopping is done before you get started.

Don’t overcook the veg or noodles, we’d like a bit of crunch on the veggies here.  This soup  is best served straight away.

Dried shiitakes can be found easily in Asian shops and Waitrose also do them.

To add even more flavour, you may like to pan fry the tempeh with a little oil until golden and crisp.  Then add to the noodles.

The balance of flavour in the stock is important, it should be nicely sweet and sour, a harmony between vinegar, miso and tamari (soya sauce) that tickles your taste buds.

We’re looking for big flavours here, so I’d recommend a darker brown miso, filled with umami.

Try not to boil the soup once you’ve added the miso, it will take away some of the sublte flavours and detract from the enzyme-rich properties of the miso (which are ace!!)

For gluten-free version, check that the miso is gluten-free, along with the noodles and tamari/ soya sauce.

One of my favourite pictures of recent times. A great band jammin in the street.

Nourishing Tempeh and Miso Ramen Bowl

The Bits For 4-6

100g ramen noodles or your favourite noodle
1 large carrot (finely sliced)
1 red pepper (finely sliced)
275g/ ½ small red cabbage (finely sliced)
50g dried shiitake/ wild mushrooms
2 big handfuls kale (sliced)

2 inch chunk fresh ginger (finely chopped)

200g tempeh (chopped into chunks)

2 ltrs light veg stock

Broth Flavouring
4-6 tbs brown miso
3 tbs rice vinegar
3 tbs tamari or soya sauce
(All to taste, adjust and enjoy!)

Toppings
1 handful spring onions (sliced)
Radish (finely sliced)
Red chillies (sliced)

 

Do It

Get everything ready beforehand, this soup comes together pretty quickly!

In a small bowl, mix together the tamari, miso and vinegar into a paste.

In a large saucepan, bring your stock to a boil, add the dried shiitakes, boil for 2 minutes, then add the ginger, tempeh and vegetables (except the kale). Pop a lid on and simmer for four minutes, then add the noodles, cook for a 1-4 minutes (depends on the noodle type) until soft.

Take off the heat and stir in miso mix and kale, add more miso if you like it stronger, add more tamari if you like it a bit saltier.

Ladle into warm bowls and scatter with your favourite toppings.

 

Foodie Fact

Miso is a good source of minerals like copper, manganese, iron and zinc plus vitamins like vitamin K also helps to keep our gut healthy.

The probiotics present in fermented foods like miso help with the absorption of nutrients and support the immune system.  Miso is high in salt, so enjoy in moderation!

We always go for organic miso, it will say somewhere on the label.

Keep your miso in the fridge, it keeps well and if it forms some light, white mould on top, this is natural.  In Japan, they just scrape it off and get on with the broth.

Categories: Fermentation, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Travel, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Spaghetti Squash with Hazelnut and Cavolo Nero Pesto – Quick Wintertime Dinner

Spaghetti Squash with Hazelnut and Cavolo Nero Pesto – Vegan and Gluten-free

Here’s something quick and easy!  Exactly what I’m looking for at this busy time of year.  Light, delicious and nourishing.

You’re probably getting ready for Christmas and maybe planning your Xmas menu, but I think we still need to eat well throughout wintertime.  Home cooked happiness!

Christmas is a great opportunity to cook something amazing, to challenge ourselves, try something new, but we also need some simple recipes.  Quick and nourishing.  Let’s eat well all the time!!  Healthy home-cooked food is achievable, throughout the year.

This dish uses the delicious spaghetti squash, hazelnuts and cavolo nero (black kale).  These are some of my favourite wintertime ingredients. I wanted something warming and filling, full of delicious flavours, but not too rich.  We need a little break from all the mince pies and puds!

Just what I want at this time of year, light and nutritious food that’s easy to prepare

Spaghetti Squash 

Is a large, thick skinned squash.  They can be challenging to find in supermarkets, but I regularly see them in farm shops.  The squash can simply be chopped in half length ways, seeds scooped out, and then roasted until soft.  Then scrape out the flesh with a fork and you’ll see what the ‘spaghetti’ is all about.  It looks like spaghetti/ noodles and has a lovely light flavour and texture.  You can use your favourite pasta/ noodles with this pesto, but I’d urge you to seek out a spaghetti squash, they’re just loads of fun!

The festive season can be a full-on time, so eating healthy is important, in-between all the other indulgences!  I will be posting more festive vegan recipes very soon, we all need a show stopping Xmas dish, I’ve got a Mushroom Wellington on the way and a decadent dessert.

This dish would be lovely served with a few slices of our Moxarella – Vegan Mozzarella, recipe here.  Also some pan fried greens would be nice, or steamed broccoli.

Winter in the BHK

Winter hasn’t really taken hold yet in the Beach House Kitchen, we haven’t been back that long from Spain!  But it’s really mild and pleasant up in Snowdonia and we’ve been getting plenty of stunning sunsets.  I’ve decided to embrace winter this year, I’m normally a creature of the sun, but I seeing all the good in drizzle and mist and chilly morning and a dusting of frost and snow on the hills.

Winter is generally a dramatic time, fierce storms and giant waves, and at the minute, the stream in our back garden is almost bursting, but it’s cool.  I’m going to take the time to sit by the fire, do lots of reading and playing guitar, and take some refreshing/ semi-frozen walks in the hills.  Plus, I get to play around in the kitchen more, less distractions in the winter I find.  Things naturally slow down.  I love winter warmers like stews, soups and curries, lots of freshly baked things and soulful dishes.  I’d mull anything!

It’s a great time of year to be a cook and to create feasts for friends and loved ones.

 

Xmas Songs and Shirts

I’m not sure what it is, but I’m starting to like Xmas more and more as I get older.  I’m even attracted to buying a festive shirt?  This is a strange feeling that I can’t explain.

I’m also enjoying Christmas songs more than ever.  They were playing the other day in the kitchen at work and I was singing along, loving every minute of Slade, Band Aid, Nat, John Lennon, that one by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl.  I forget they exist until this time of year.  Here’s my top, alternative, 17 (you know all the rest;)  PS – It started off as Top 5 but I got really into it!:

  1. River – Joni Mitchell
  2. Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes 
  3. Santa Claus – The Sonics
  4. Christmas in Hollis – Run DMC 
  5. O Come O Come Emmanuel – Sufjan Stevens
  6. Santa’s Got a Bag of Soul – The Souls Saints Orchestra
  7. Midnight Sleighride — Sauter – Finegan Orchestra
  8. Low – Just like Christmas
  9. Zat you Santa Claus – Louis Armstrong
  10. I Wish It Was Christmas Today – Julian Casablanca
  11. Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
  12. Christmas was better in the 80’s – The Futureheads
  13. Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto – James Brown
  14. Kindle A Flame in Her Heart – Los Campesinos
  15. Hark the Herald Angels Sing – The Fall
  16. Everything is One Big Christmas Tree – The Magnetic Fields
  17. Baby It’s Cold Outside – Sharon Van Etten and Rufus Wainwright

I just want to say that Cliff Richard is a step too far for me.  Sorry to Dad and other Cliff fans, but I just can’t get down with ‘Mistletoe and Wine’, but I do like that Chris de Burgh one.

What do you plan on cooking this Festive Season?  What are your favourite dishes/ songs?  Have you got any new recipes you’d like to try?  Are you trying out a Vegan Christmas for the first time?  Let us know below in the comments and we’d be happy to answer any of you vegan Xmas questions.

Sunset up in North Wales. Winter is a beautiful time of year here.

Happy cooking!

 

Recipe Notes

Toasting nuts is always best done slowly, on a low heat, in an oven.  Check them every 5 minutes or so, turning them and noticing how their colour darkens.  Taste a couple to see how they’re doing (they will be hot!)

Nooch (aka Nutritional Yeast Flakes) can be found in most health food shops.  They bring the vegan cheesiness to the party.

 

I love Spaghetti Squash, a really interesting ingredient

 

Spaghetti Squash with Hazelnut and Cavolo Nero Pesto – Vegan and Gluten-free

 

The Bits – For 2 as a main course

Pesto

75 g toasted hazelnut

12g or 3 handfuls fresh basil

20g or 1 handful cavolo nero or other kale

2 medium garlic cloves (chopped)

4 tbs cold pressed rapeseed/ olive oil

4 tbs nooch (nutritional yeast flakes)

2/3 teas salt

1 medium-sized lemon (juice)

 

500g or 1/2 large spaghetti squash

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 190oC.

Pull the root off your spaghetti squash and cut in half length ways.  Scoop out the seeds.  Rub with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place on a baking tray and cook for 35-45 minutes, until soft.  Set aside to cool a little.

While that’s going on, place all the pesto ingredients into a blender and blitz until a chunky pesto forms.  We don’t necessarily want a smooth paste here.

Scrape out the flesh of the squash, using a fork, and mix with the pesto until well combined.

Serve straight away, some vegan parmesan would be nice.

 

Foodie Fact

Nooch (aka Nutritional Yeast Flakes) are not only a way of adding a cheesy flavour to vegan dishes, they’re also packed with nutrients.  Loaded with B12, essential for vegans and everyone actually, high in other vitamin B’s, zinc.  They are well worth stocking and can be sprinkled on dishes, mixed into stews and soups for added savoury flavour.

I know that vegan cheese have become more accessible and better quality, which is great news, but I will always use Nooch in dishes.  Try frying or toasting it, it really intensifies the flavour., I now a guy in a Michelin star restaurant who uses it as a secret ingredient!!

We’ve started a BHK youtube channel! 

Check out some videos of our latest vegan cooking workshops and demonstrations here. 

The first of many!!  

I’ll be adding clips of my TV appearances, videos of me cooking at the Beach House Kitchen, food festival demonstrations, clips of me scooting about the Snowdonia mountains and loads more…

 

Subscribe to our Beach House Kitchen channel to not miss out on new videos

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales, Winter | Tags: , | 10 Comments

Cook Vegan! Christmas Feast Menu, Manchester

 

Come and join us!

 

Cook Vegan!  Christmas Feast Cooking Workshop

Sunday 2nd December, Manchester

 

~Menu~

Welcome Drink

Hot Apple Mull

Starter

Roast Squash and Ginger Soup with Almond Bacon and Coriander

Main Course

Portobello Mushroom Wellington with Toasted Walnut and Rosemary Stuffing

Glazed Rainbow Roots

Pan fried Brussels Sprouts with Black Kale and Vegan Parmesan

Yorkshire Puddings

Cranberry, Orange and Prosecco Sauce

Rich Christmas Gravy

Creamy Mash

Dessert

Festive Chocolate and Orange Brownie Cake with Mulled Berries and Vanilla Ice Cream

 

Lee and Mark cooking at our last event at the awesome Food Sorcery in Didsbury, Manchester

 

Two tickets are now available!

Would you like to join us for a day of cooking, demonstrations and a festive lunch?

Learn to cook up a vegan Christmas and then feast!

 

Click here for more information and bookings 

 

 

Categories: Cooking demos, Cooking Workshops, Events, plant-based, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Malaysian Squash Laksa – Rainbow Noodle Bowl (Vegan, Gluten-free)

I could eat this all winter, no problem!  Creamy and Spicy Coconut and Squash Laksa

Creamy, spicy, fragrant, loads of colours and flavours, this is my kind of rainbow bowl.  Laksa is a stunning combination of very tasty things, the perfect re-vitalising, comfort food we need in the winter time.  We’ll cook with seasonal vegetables and giving them a exotic, Malaysian twist, this laksa bowl really lights up any table or meal time.

We’ve enjoyed Laksa, in so many different ways, all across South East Asia; Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, but the very best (and we both agree on this) was in Southern Thailand.  Which is strange, because I’ve called this a Malaysian Laksa, but it was just this one little place, on an island, beach side (in fact it was on the beach) restaurant.  One of those special meals, where everything is right, sunset, waves, swaying palm trees, a friendly family running the place.  The works!  A recipe for a memorable meal.  This Laksa, I think, resembles the one we had that night.  Big and bold, with a generous amount of coconut.  Truth is though, in South East Asia, you rarely get anything resembling a bad Laksa.

Laksa is basically a noodle soup with a creamy and spicy coconut sauce.  It normally has a sour element, known as ‘Asam’, here we add some fresh lime to give it that tickle and zing.  Laksa is a fusion dish, with influences from China (noodle soup) and Malay (coconut cream and spices).  Making Laksa vegan means no loss in flavour in the slightest, without the dominating meat or fish, the subtle and sensational flavours can work their magic much easier.

I’ve gone the whole enchilada here, we make our own spice paste.  This means lots of gorgeous ingredients, and a little time spent, but its SO worth it.  You can also buy vegan yellow Thai curry paste quite easily, for a quicker laksa fix.

I like a laksa with a chilli kick and lots of fragrant aromas, I use quite a bit of lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, fresh kaffir lime leaves (you can find them in the UK), all with the deeper background spices of cumin and coriander.  It’s just awesome, you have to try it!

Jane and I are in Spain at the minute soaking up the winter sun and the tasty tapas.  Life is so peaceful here, we live close to the beach and can hear the waves at night.  We’ve been doing some cooking out here and met some amazing new people, also spent some times re-energising and preparing for winter, lots of walks, swimming and enjoying the stunning scenery.  We’ve got loads planned this winter and I’ve been focusing on creating lots of new recipes.

We cooked this Laksa at our recent weekend of vegan cooking workshops in Hackney, see pictures here, and it was a big hit.  I’ve never served this to anyone who didn’t think it was yum, it’s rainbow soul food.  Could we ask for more?!

Our upcoming Cook Vegan! event in Manchester is almost fully booked, we’re cooking a full festive vegan lunch and then of course we have our blissful Spanish cooking holiday next year.  Come and join us on the beach!  Maybe we’ll have Laksa in the sun?

We hope you’re all enjoying cooking and feeling inspired to create and eat healthy, delicious and vibrant vegan food.  Do let us know below in the comments if you like the look of this recipe, or have any questions, or just want to say ‘Howdy!’  It’s wonderful to hear from you.  We love feedback, it helps us create and share the dishes YOU want to cook.

So many colours and flavours in one bowl, perfect winter food

Recipe Notes

Rice noodles will act as a thickener here for the soup.  I love this, but if you’d prefer a thinner broth, blanch the noodles in boiling water and drain before adding to the soup.  This will cook the noodles, so add them just before the end of cooking.

This Laksa can be made a main course or starter, depending on the amount of noodles added.  See below in the recipe.

An alternative for this curry paste is to use a shop bought yellow thai curry paste, but homemade is soooo much better!

Rainbow Vegan Laksa Bowl – Love it!

Malaysian Squash Laksa – Rainbow Noodle Bowl (Vegan, Gluten-free)

The Bits – For 4

 

Laksa Paste

2 tbs coriander seeds

1/2 tbs cumin seeds

 

1 medium or 150g onion (sliced)

7 garlic cloves

1 1/2 or 30g inch ginger (sliced)

6 kaffir lime leaves

2 sticks or 20g lemongrass (inner white stem only, sliced)

1 red chilli

3 tbs chopped coriander stems

1 1/2 tbs tamari/ soya sauce

1 tbs oil

 

Soup

1/2 tbs oil

1 1/2 teas ground turmeric

1/2 large squash or 550g (chopped into small cubes, skin on is fine with thin skinned squash like butternut)

1 red pepper (sliced)

1.25 ltr light vegetable stock or hot water (from a recently boiled kettle)

1 can full fat coconut milk

2 handfuls or 75g spinach/ kale

2 handfuls or 100g green beans/ mangetout (chopped at an angle)

125g-175g rice noodles

1/2 tbs brown sugar

1/2 teas salt

 

Garnish

Fresh coriander or mint leaves (or both)

A dash of tamari/ soya sauce

A scattering of crunchy peanuts or crispy onions

4 lime wedges

Chopped chillies

Salt or tamari/ soya sauce (to taste)

 

Do It

For the paste – Toast the coriander and fennel seeds for 2 to 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add to a blender or spice grinder and grind to a coarse mixture.

Add the rest of the ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until a thick paste forms.  Add a tbsp or so water if needed. The paste can be refrigerated for up to a week and frozen for longer.  

For the soup – Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the spice paste and turmeric, cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly.  Check out those aromas!!

Now add the squash and peppers, the vegetable stock, 1/2 teas sea salt and coconut milk, bring to simmer and cook the vegetables for 8-10 minutes until the veg is soft.

Add in the rice noodles and green beans, let the mixture simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring a little to make sure the noodles don’t stick together.

Mix in the spinach/ kale.  Taste and adjust salt, sugar and chilli, as you like it. I usually add a bit of salt or soy sauce, lime juice and some sugar at this point.

Serve straightaway, garnish with fresh coriander leaves, bean sprouts, chopped chillies, toasted peanuts. Finally, squeeze over you lime wedge and then throw it into the soup. Adds to the flavour!

Malaysian Squash Laksa – Rainbow Noodle Bowl (Vegan, Gluten-free)

 

Foodie Fact

Lemongrass not only adds wonderful fragrance to this Laksa, it is also high in iron, potassium and magnesium.

Categories: Curries, Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Caramelised Banana and Oat Pancake Stack with Peanut Butter Sauce – American Diner Style, Gluten-free

Banana, Oat and Peanut Butter Pancake Stack – Gluten-free, Vegan

Light, fluffy and thick, just like the ones you get in a real diner.  U.S. style pancakes, made in Wales, with caramelised bananas, a peanut butter sauce, a touch of cinnamon and loads of maple syrup.  The batter is made in a blender, so these are super quick and fuss-free.

I’ve made these gluten-free, I cook for a lot of gluten-free people at the moment and I love making up recipes that everyone will enjoy.  Gluten-free, vegan, or whatever, you’ll enjoy these pancakes purely because they’re delicious!

I like a good stack of pancakes, layering the flavours and textures and they look great of course.  Piled high on a plate.  Pancakes are a weekend thing in the BHK, do you feel the same?  They always seem like a fun treat breakfast, especially on a chilly Saturday morning.  An ideal, hearty breakfast for autumn and winter.

Top it off!

I think the most important thing about a pancake is what’s on top.  The filling combos have got to be right and we all know how good peanut butter and banana can be.  You could also go for fresh berries and whipped coconut cream or toasted pecans, oranges and chocolate sauce (see our 2-Minute Chocolate Sauce recipe here) or mango, pomegranate and vegan creme fraiche (with a little mint on top).  These are a few of our favourite pancake toppings.  What’s yours?

I’ve already tried out various banana pancake recipes on the blog, I think it’s easy to see what’s my fav.

Disney Pancakes

The last time I was in a diner was a good few years ago, in sunny Florida, heading to somewhere Disney-fied or other.  I must have been around 11 years old.  As a young British guy, America seemed so exciting.  I basically just wanted to eat fast food and watch satellite TV, go on rollercoasters, and skateboard.  Things were simple back then!

I remember loving the atmosphere in a diner, it was a real buzz.  I was soon to be confronted with a stack of pancakes, enough to feed a family of five or more.  All dripping with maple syrup, it was a big wake up call!  What had I been missing out on!!  It was like a doorway into a new world of breakfast.  We had them most weekends after that when we returned to Glasgow, a proper treat.

Until our American holiday, I always thought pancakes were something we ate once a year with sugar and lemon juice and they always looked really difficult to make.  The flipping seemed impossible, with pancakes landing in various places around the kitchen.  Rarely back in the pan.  It’s true, they take a bit of practice, a few flips to warm up, but once you’re away, pancakes are such an easy and delicious breakfast option.

Are oats gluten-free?

Yes. Sort of.  Naturally, oats are gluten-free, but I’ve read that around 30% of people intolerant to gluten may be intolerant to oats.  Also, most oats are produced in non-gluten-free environments.  Many gluten-free people I know and cook for eat oats, they are so nutritious, packed with fibre and offer a nice variety in a gluten-free diet.  Gluten-free oats can be found in most supermarkets.

Give these pancakes a go, and let us know in the comments below.  They’re a treat, but filled with good nutrition too.  Best of both worlds!

 

Recipe Notes

Serve them straight from the pan, hot is best, although they’re still tasty when cooled.  The best way to keep them warm is to wrap them in a clean kitchen towel/ cloth on a plate.

If you like a cinnamon-y pancake, go for more cinnamon here, 1/2 teas to start.

Don’t worry about your first attempt with a pancake, they’re always weird.  You’ll get into your groove after a couple.

Try to keep the pan at a constant temperature, not too hot.  If the pan get’s too hot, simply set it aside to cool a little.

The more oil you add to the pan, the crispier the pancake.  I’ll leave that one with you…..

 

Banana and Peanut Butter Pancakes – simple breakfast treat

 

Banana, Oat and Peanut Butter Pancakes – American Diner Style

Gluten-free and Vegan

 

The Bits – For 8 medium pancake

100g gram/ chickpea flour

100g white flour mix (gluten-free, or use plain white flour)

50g oats (gluten-free, or normal oats)

1 teas bicarb of soda

Large pinch of salt

1 tbs sugar

1 tbs oil

1/3 teas cinnamon

250ml water

 

Cooking oil (I use cold pressed rapeseed oil or coconut oil)

 

To serve

 

Banana, 1 per person (cut in half lengthways)

Maple syrup

4 tbs peanut butter

 

Lime Wedges (Jane likes this)

 

Do It 

Place all the pancake ingredients into a blender or food processor and blitz until well combined.

Mix your peanut butter with a few tablespoons of water and stir until it thins out, it may take around 5 tbs water and quite a bit of stirring, but it will form a nice creamy sauce.  Add a little maple syrup if you prefer it sweet.

Warm a medium sized frying pan on medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and fry your bananas for 2 minutes, then flip them and cook for another minute.  They should be nice and caramelised.  Be careful with them, they are fragile and soft when cooked.  Set them aside.

Clean out the pan, and put back onto the heat.  Get the pan nice and hot, add a drizzle of oil, making sure the base of the pan is covered with a thin film of oil.   Pour or ladle in your batter, I like medium sized pancakes, see the photos.  But you can vary the size as you like.  Lots of small ones is also a nice idea.  Fry the pancake for 1-2 minutes, the pancake will bubble, making them really light (you’ll see what I mean).

Flip them using all your ace flipping skills.  Cook for one more minute on this side and either serve or keep warm.

Enjoy your pancakes with the caramelised bananas, peanut butter sauce, a drizzle of maple syrup and even a squeeze of fresh lime (Jane likes it with a little lime).  I sprinkled with a few oats.  Chocolate sauce is also a brilliant addition.

If you’d like a stack of pancakes, just add these toppings, then place another pancake on top and add more toppings.

 

Foodie Fact

Bananas are a good source of potassium and also vitamin C, plus fibre.  They are high in sugar, but when we eat them, the high fibre content makes bananas a healthy snack.  No sugar spikes and all.

They seem to be getting a bad rap recently, but bananas are really good for us, light on the stomach and an ideal, natural snack.  There are so many varities of snacks out there, boasting all kinds of things, but it’s difficult to beat bananas and fruit for a nutritious boost.

 

Categories: Breakfast, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, plant-based, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Smoky Beets, Red Pepper and Chipotle Soup

Just what we need in late Autumn! Soups with lots of colours and big flavours.

Get a little spicy, plus a little smoky this autumn!  This is a radiant soup filled with delicious flavours and fresh, seasonal produce.  Lots of beetroot and red peppers, this is exactly what I want to be eating right now.  It’s adding a vibrant slice of Mexico to your autumn and all you’ll need are staples most of us have in our cupboards and some chioptle chillies/ chilli paste.  More of that a little later…..

I wanted a soup that was hearty and sustaining, so we have lentils, colourful and healthy, so we have red peppers and beetroots, a little creamy, creme fraiche, a little crunchy, pepitas (or pumpkin seeds as we call them), finished with a sprinkle of fresh coriander and you’ve got a very tasty bowl indeed.  I’d happily eat soups like this all day, every day, until next May, when things thaw out.

Getting Frosty

We’ve been getting frosty over here in Snowdonia, the first glimpse of snow and ice on the mountain tops, washing freezing on the line, that beautiful early morning frost that makes all the plants look like their draped in jewels.  I love this time of year.  Lots of sunshine still, so soup in the garden is also doable.  I’m thinking winter BBQ’s are on this year!  Why not?  The first frosts always says to me, “Parsnips!”  They’re always bettter after the first frost, as well as sloes.

Smoky Beets, Red Pepper and Chipotle Soup (vegan, gluten-free)

Viva Mexico!

I’m lucky to have travelled Mexico extensively, I drove around it for a while with some friends, from the border with Texas right down to Guatemala.  It took about 6 months.  I was in my 20’s and, as you can probably imagine, I had a good time!  There is so much joy for living and eating in Mexico!!

I had no idea how good Mexican food was until my first few days wandering around Mexico City.  I’d been working in fine dining style restaurants and was really into that way of doing things, but my first few tacos in Mexico blew my mind.  I was hooked and a new way of approaching food dropped into my world.  Sensational food didn’t need white table clothes and weighty price tags, it could be fast and furious on a street corner, or served in the back of taxi mid-traffic jam.  Good food is everywhere in Mexico, it is hard to escape, and let’s face it, why would you want to escape it anyway!

I ate some INCREDIBLE soups in Mexico.  If a soup can be life changing (if your soup was changed by your life, or vica versa, please let us know, we’d like to hear that story!) I had many in Mexcio.  Things I’d never imangine, avocado is soups, soft cheeses in soups, garlic, nachos, smokiness, it really blew me away.  Mexcian food is so rich and diverse, lots and lots of new dishes to explore.

Having said all of that, this soup is not a traditional Mexican recipe at all, but Chipotle chillies make anything taste Mexican to me.  They were one of the many new flavours I discovered on my trip.  The cumin in many Mexican dishes originally came from Spanish immigrants, who picked it up from North Africa via the Moors.  I’m fascinated by the way that our food tells us a lot about our history, how our cultures developed over time.  It is Day of the Dead tomorrow, this soup would be a perfect addition to the feast!

Chipotle!

Chipotles are dried and smoked chillies, one of many varieities.  I remember buying smoked chillies in markets, so many types, big and small, different colours and shades, all with distinct flavours.  It was steep learning curve.

Chipotles start off as red jalapenos and are smoked and dried for days, coming out looking a little like the chilli version of a raisin.  You can buy them in many ways, powder, flakes, dried whole, in cans or in a potent paste, as we use here.  Chipotle’s are used in all kinds of marinades and stews, they give a subtle earthy, smokiness to dishes with a little kick of chilli.  Adding one chipotle to a stew or soup can really mix things up.  In the UK, they are normally found in paste-form, in little jars, that keep well in the fridge.  I like to mix it into mayonnaise, dressings and generally use it as often as possible.  I love the flavour.  It’s very unique.

I am off to Spain soon, where they do some nice things with smoked chillies, but honestly, no one smokes chillies like Mexicans.  Spanish chillies are very mild, they hardly tickle, Mexican chillies however, they can melt things, or just add a lovely spiciness to dishes.

We’re lucky to have loads of organic beetroot at the minute coming from the veg farm

Get Your Beet On!

So get your beet on, gather some lovely veggies and have fun with this soup.  Beetroots are the most outrageous roots and I think we underuse them in the UK.  The colours, flavours and awesome nutrition (see below) they bring to our table are always very welcome.

Please let us know if you like the recipe, enjoy Mexican food, or anything else really in the comments below.  If you try out the soup, why not share your kitchen creation with us all over on Facebook, our cooking group is here.  

Enjoy this beautiful time of year (in Australia it’s spring right!?!)

More soups and hearty, healthy, delicious vegan recipes for everyone coming soon…..

 

Here’s some Mexican inspired dishes we’ve cooked in the paste, from Loaded Nachos to a Cashew and Kale Mole, Pickle your own Jalapenos and Dark Chocolate and Chilli Bronwies.

 

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Recipe Notes

If you love your smokiness, add a little more chipotle, or add smoked paprika (same time as the cinnamon) for a smoky, but less spicy soup.

No red peppers, any pepper will work fine.

Same goes for the pumpkin seeds, any toasted seed or nut would be nice here, but pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are used quite a lot in Mexican cooking.

In you’re getting beetroots with their leaves on (congratulations!), you can cut them off, wash them and stir them in at the end of cooking, just before serving.  You may also like to do this with spinach, kale or any other greens.  Adding greens to dishes can never be a bad thing.

Beetroot, Red Pepper and Chipotle Soup

The Bits – For 4-6 bowls

550g beets, roughly 3 medium beetroots (diced)

1 red pepper (diced)

1 medium onion (diced)

200g red lentils (rinsed and drained)

2 teas cumin seeds

1 1/2 teas oregano

1/2 teas cinnamon

3 tbs tomato puree

1 ltr light vegetable stock/ hot water

3-5 teas chipotle puree

 

Topping

Toasted pumpkin seeds

Vegan creme fraiche

Freshly Chopped Coriander

Sliced chillies

 

Do It 

In a large saucepan, add 1/2 tbs cooking oil and warm on medium high heat.  Add the cumin seeds, stir and fry for a minute, then all the onions, peppers and 1 teas sea salt.  Fry until soft and slightly caramelised, 5 minutes will do.

Add the lentils, beetroots, oregano, ground cinnamon and tomato puree.   Then pour over the vegetable stock and bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and leave to cook for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Allow to cool slightly and blend using a stick blender or pour into a blender and blitz until smooth.  Taste and season with salt and pepper, adding more chipotle if you like.

Top with toasted pumpkin seeds, creme fraiche/ single vegan cream, chillies and coriander.

 

Foodie Fact 

Beetroot is a stunning root in more ways than one.  Besides the amazing flavours and colours, we’re talking about a contender for the healthiest veg ever!  It’s well up there.

Packed with anti-oxidants, plenty of fibre, it is very good for our digestion, and also contains plenty of minerals.  Beetroot juice is now drank by many atheletes to improve performance.  We love beetroots mixed into juices or smooties with things like apples and carrots.  What an amazing way to start the day!

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Would you like to come and cook with us? 

Learn how to prepare a delicious three course vegan Christmas Lunch? 

Our next cooking workshop is in Manchester soon, more details here.  

 

 

Categories: Autumn, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Soups, Travel, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Italian Herb and Sun Dried Tomato Dumplings

 

Thanks for your patience everyone, I’ve finally got around to posting this recipe.  It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve had a few things on my plate (see below;).

These dumplings are perfect with pasta and a rich tomato sauce, but also ideal served in a wrap, as a canape/ starter.

This is a simple and versatile recipe that has recently become a staple in the BHK.  I have noticed that non-vegan really dig these, they taste like dumplings but are made with chickpeas and oats.  Easily made gluten-free and can be pan fried or baked.  That to me is the hallmark of a staple recipe, something that is not too fussy, that can be whipped up in a short window of time and most importantly, are very delicious.

Italian Herb and Sun Dried Tomato Dumplings – Just add pasta

MIX IT UP

The base of chickpeas and oats can be played around with, you can take the flavours wherever you’d like to lead them; add spices for Indian dumplings, served with a spicy curry sauce; add za’atar and make things more Lebanese, serve in a wrap with tahini; add some chilli, ginger and coriander, serve with noodles and Chinese sauce (sweet and sour, black bean, hoisin…..)  So, so many ways to make your dumplings shine!!

The autumnal beach – spectacular Snowdonia!

Jane and I are heading over to Spain very soon, can’t wait!  In one way, it’s a shame to leave Snowdonia right now, so much sunshine and last night the mountains got their first little cap of snow and frost.  Icy winds, sunny days, I love that about these wintery times.  In this climate, I flip into soup mode.  Just made a huge pan of veggie broth, old school, like my Nana’s did it.  Plus some quinoa bread, not quite the same as Nana-made bread, but I reckon they would have liked it.  Plenty of strawberry jam.

These dumplings have been discussed quite a bit over on our vegan cooking group on Facebook.  I’ve been meaning to post this and a huge stack of recent recipes, but life has been nice and full recently.  Lots of cooking, lots of cool new projects, lots of time hanging out in the mountains.  It’s been a stunning autumn.

A NEW COOKBOOK!

I’m posting much less at the minute because I’m cooking much more.  I’m very cool with this balance.  I love the blog and facebook and all, so many awesome people and connections made, an online community of plant-lovin’ foodies, but being in the kitchen is where I’m best suited.  If you’d seen me type, you’d know what I mean!!  I’m better with a pan than a kepboard.

I’ve been developing recipes, cooking at the beautiful Trigonos in North Wales, running cooking events and yes, working on a new cookbook.  It’s in the pipeline.

Thanks to all who have sent messages of support, many which say things like “Where’s your new book dude?”  It’s coming and the time is now right, I wanted to wait until I had and idea and a group of recipes that really rocked!!

These bookie type things can take a while, but fingers crossed, I’ll have some more news soon.  If you haven’t heard, here’s my last cookbook, Peace & Parsnips.

Any ideas about what you like in a cookbook?  Do let me know in the comments below.  I love to hear your feedback.  Really, I write recipes partly for me, but another big part is for you.  The readers of the BHK, I wonder a lot about what you’ll like and always listen to your comments.

Other news.  We sent out our autumn newsletter recently, if you missed it, just sign up here, it takes a few minutes.  We’ve got some cool interviews (are you interested in fermentation, we interview the Queen of Fermentation!  Janice Clyne), plus recipes, pictures, news, events, loads of nice things.  Sign up, we’ll send it across.

 

Recipe Notes

You can see that I like these dumplings with a little colour, from a hot pan.  You can cook them on a lower heat if you like, we’re just really warming them through.

You can make the dumpling mix well in advance, keep in the fridge and just roll up the dumplings when you need them.  They freeze well.

Another nice idea is to make a plain version of the mix, without the tomatoes and herbs, then flavour the dumplings as you like with different dishes.  This makes them super versatile.

If you are cooking your own chickpeas, not using tinned, make sure they’re not overcooked or mushy.  This will lead to a wet mix, which is not what we want.  If this happens, I’d recommend adding gram/ chickpea flour until the mix firms up a little.  Remember that once the mix cools, it will get thicker.

 

 

Italian Herb and Sun Dried Tomato Dumplings

 

The Bits – For 16 dumplings 

2 medium onions (sliced)

3 cloves garlic (chopped)

2 tins chickpeas (drained)

3 teas dried Italian herbs (a mix of dried oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, sage)

8 pieces sun dried toms, plus any oil (finely chopped)

125g oats (gluten-free oats are fine also)

1 1/2 teas salt

A few twists of black pepper

A sprinkle of chilli flakes (or more if you like your chilli)

Cooking oil

 

To serve

Fresh basil leaves

 

Do It

In a large frying pan, add 1 tbs cooking oil, warm on medium high heat, add the onions and garlic.  Saute for 5 minutes, until soft and golden.

 

Add the cooked onions and the rest of the ingredients to a blender, with any oil left on the board from chopping the sun dried tomatoes.  Blend until smooth-ish. Some chunks are fine. Taste and season if you like.

 

With slightly wet hands, roll around 2 heaped tablespoons of mix into balls.  Place on a plate.

 

Warm the frying pan again, add 2 tbs oil and warm on medium high heat, add some of your dumplings to the pan, don’t overcrowd.  Roll them in the oil and get them well covered, fry them for 6-8, minutes, until golden all over and warmed through. Set aside.  Fry in batches if needed.

 

Alternatively, preheat a fan oven to 180oC, lightly oil the dumplings and place onto a baking tray, then into the oven.  Cook for around 15-20 minutes, until they are warmed through.

 

Serve with a rich tomato sauce, freshly torn basil leaves and pasta of your choice.  

 

Foodie Fact

Chickpeas are a real nutritional powerhouse.  They are filled with protein and fibre, also lots of minerals like iron, magnesium and potassium and vitamins like Vitamin C.  Chickpeas are also a good source of calcium.  Overall, the more chickpeas we can get onto our plates and forks, the better!

Categories: Autumn, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Viva Vegan! Lee’s interview with Veganuary

I really enjoyed chatting with Veganuary at the weekend!  It was all about our Viva Vegan! Spain: Plant-based Cooking Holiday with Áine Carlin coming up soon!  I thought I’d post a little of the interview here.

Why did we pick Spain?  Why are Áine and I collaborating?  What will the Viva Vegan! experience be like?

We still have a couple of rooms left in you’d like to book up for our delicious weekend in the sun.  You’ll find all the information here.

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A vegan cooking retreat in Spain? Yes, that’s right! Lee Watson, author of Peace and Parsnips, and Áine Carlin, author of Keep it Vegan & The New Vegan, have partnered up to teach people how to master the art of vegan cuisine, in beautiful Spanish surroundings

 

Veganuary caught up with Lee Watson to find out more!

Main terrace, where all our meals are served and morning yoga practiced

Hi Lee! What’s the inspiration behind this exciting plant-based cooking holiday?

We just love cooking and sharing delicious vegan food.  We’re excited to be getting together and showcasing the diversity and potential of a plant-based diet and healthy lifestyle.  We also wanted to do it in a villa near the beach!  Why not!!  Viva Vegan offers up a weekend of relaxation, sensational food and a chance to learn new kitchen skills.  We want to share our passion for good living!

How did the idea come about?

Áine and I have been chatting for a while about collaborating on a cooking holiday.  I love Áine’s style of cooking and recipes.  I’ve organised holidays like this in the past and they’re just such fun and are an opportunity for everyone to learn and meet new, like-minded people.  Having Áine and I contributing to the weekend, also makes the food and workshops even better, a greater variety of styles and influences for everyone to enjoy.

Why did you pick Spain?

I’ve been going to this little village in Spain for over 12 years and it’s one of my favourite places in the world.  I guess I just wanted let people into the secret!  For me, its the most beautiful stretch of coastline in Spain, where the mountains meet the sea and there’s still that feel of ‘real’ Spain.  Murcia is also known as the ‘garden’ of Spain, the local produce is sensational, tomatoes, olives, lemons, peppers, aubergines, fruits and we even have some local vegan wines to sample.

What can people expect to experience on the holiday?

The Viva Vegan weekend is designed to let people experience they’re perfect weekend.  We have a beautiful location, our modern eco villa is right on a quiet stretch of beach, we have winter sun and amazing local produce.  Áine and I will be doing all of the cooking and hosting workshops, which range from a cheese making masterclass to top vegan kitchen hacks and tips.

There is even the option for us to go for a mini cruise on a vintage yacht down the stunning coast.  Maybe a picnic in a little cove?  The idea is we take care of everything, from soothing yoga classes and nourishing smoothies in the mornings, right through to mocktails at sunset.  We’re even having a vegan BBQ night.  It’s a time to enjoy peace, walks in nature, a swim in the Med, a visit to local cafes and villages.  The idea is you can transform the way you cook or just curl up in a hammock with a good book.  It’s all just a recipe for an inspiring and blissful weekend.

One of Aine’s amazing recipes

 

 

Read the full interview over on the Veganuary blog click here.

Reserve your place for Viva Vegan! Spain right now. 

Just click here

 

 

Categories: Autumn, Cooking Holidays, Events, healthy, Healthy Eating, plant-based, Travel, Vegan, veganism, Winter | Tags: | Leave a comment

Apple Crumble Cookies – Gluten-free, Vegan

Apple Crumble Cookies – Gluten-free, Vegan.  Yes please!

If you’re a fan of apple crumble, you’ll love these!  The cookie version.

I wanted to combine the best things about an apple crumble into a cookie, just to change things up a bit.  That lovely crunchy crumble and the sweet tartness of the apple sauce.

These cookies are crisp on the outside and very apple-y inside, with that lovely warming cinnamon and plenty of oats.  They’re even gluten-free, but you can make them with wholemeal flour and normal oats.  I’d just like to invite as many people as possible to the good food party!

These cookies are sweet!  But balanced with the tartness of a green apple, I’ve used russet style apples from our neighbours garden, donated, not scrumped (see all our scrumping talk on our last post).  I think an apple with good acidity and a bit of bite is what we’re looking for here.

The best things about a crumble, wrapped up in a cookie!

Please don’t worry about us, we’re still eating plenty of Apple Crumbles this autumn.  Jane loves ’em too much!  But these cookies were a big hit with everyone who’s tried one, even our neighbour Meirion, a man who dearly loves a good crumble, is a fan of the cookie variety.  That’s when I knew this was a winner, they got the nod from our Meirion.

We’re just fixing our fire at  the minute, autumn is giving us those signals, nice and crisp at mornings and at night.  The occasional dramatic storm.  I do love sunshine, but I admit that a roaring fire on a cold night is very tempting.  Just need to get a big pipe and stick it onto the back of the fire.  Some of you know all about my DIY skills, so I’ll probably get the fire man in.  I’m better off with the pots and pans!

The North Wales coastline is stunning in Autumn, awesome sunsets

Another bonus of autumn is all the produce, I’m just blown away at the minute.  I just got the list through from our local organic farm and it knocked my socks off.  As a cook, I almost don’t know where to begin with it all.  I feel very lucky to have such problems!!  We’ve got a couple of events coming up this month, check them out here, so we’ll be taking our amazing Snowdonia produce for a ride down to London and over to Anglesey.

I’m back cooking at Trigonos this week and I love to create new recipes like this.  There are many gluten-free visitors who need catering for, the Trigonos cooks come up with all kinds of gluten, sugar, oil, nightshade, salt etcetc free dishes.  I’ve always found it a great challenge, but having dishes which are gluten-free and vegan is a sound start to planning a menu.  These cookies can be enjoyed by loads of people!  Maybe you’re gluten-free, but I bet you know someone who is.  The mystery of gluten-free baking is disappearing as more and more people experiment with new ways of making cookies, cakes, scones and tray bakes.

Chop those apples nice and small

Chopping your apples up nice and small is one of the keys to success with these cookies.  Of course, take all the pips and core out, but I leave the skin on.  These apples had nice, thin skins and I reckon there’s some nice flavour there when baked.  You can see the apples turn a lovely golden brown in the oven, something like apple crisps.  They’re good these cookies!

These kind of cookies are going to make this autumn very sweet!  Hope you get to try one soon.

 

Recipe Notes

You can use flax seeds instead of chia seeds.  Pop the seeds into a blender and blitz until a fine powder is formed.  Then mix that with water until a gelatinous mix forms.  It only takes 5 minutes or so to get nice and thick, ready to bind our cookies together.  Ground flax and chia are ideal egg replacers in vegan baking.

You can also use light brown sugar in these cookies, although I prefer the texture using the golden caster sugar.

I used a Dove Farm white gluten-free flour mix here.  It works really nicely.  Gluten-free oats are available in most supermarkets.

I use cold pressed rapeseed oil here, but you can use most, neutral flavoured oils.  I prefer cold pressed oils.

Missing cookies? Has anyone seen these cookies. 15 minutes after leaving the oven, they were never seen again. Another batch coming soon:)

 

Apple Crumble Cookies – Gluten-free, Vegan

 

The Bits – For 10-11 small cookies

Dry

125g oats (or gluten-free oats)

100g whole wheat (or gluten-free flour mix)

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

⅛ teas salt

 

Wet

100ml cold pressed rapeseed oil

3 teas ground chia seeds (mixed with 7 teas cold water)

1 teas vanilla extract

125g golden caster sugar

 

175g or 2 small green apples (cored and finely diced)

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 180oC.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  In another mixing bowl, mix together the sugar and the wet ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Don’t over do the stirring.  Fold in the apples.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment, form roughly two heaped tablespoons worth of cookie dough and apple in your hands, roll into balls.  Press the pieces of apple into the cookie ball as you go. The apple keeps the cookies nice and moist.  Press this ball down gently onto the baking tray, forming a rotund disc shape.  Continue until the mix is used up.

Bake for 17 – 20 mins on a middle shelf, until the apples are golden brown and the cookies form a nice crust.  Leave to cool for 20 minutes on the tray before enjoying.  Remember that the cookies will firm up as they cool, don’t worry if they are a little soft to the touch.

We had ours warm, dipped into vegan creme fraiche.  Yes!  It was very good.

These cookies will keep nicely in sealed container for a few days, they do get slightly softer.

Just before they hit the oven – Apple Crumble Cookies  This was an early attempt, these apple chunks are a wee bit too big.  Go for very small pieces. 

Foodie Fact

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.  Why?  Because my Nana told me that, what more proof do we need?!

Apples are a good source of fibre and vitamin C, plus potassium, which is good for the heart.

 

 

This recipe was voted for over on our Vegan Cooking Facebook group, you can join here.

I like to see what you think about recipes before I post them.

Plus there’s loads of vegan cooking chat and pictures over there.  Pop over, sign up and show us what you’re cooking?

 

 

Categories: Autumn, Baking, gluten-free, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

The art of scrumping and the great British apple

Scrumping – a great way to make the most of our autumn abundance

Yes!  It’s that time of year.  Apples are falling from trees and we’re loving them.  But I find something very sad about piles of crushed and fermenting apples scattered around pavements and fields, left in piles to rot around trees.  What a waste.  I’ve been travelling quite a bit around the UK recently and seen many great apple trees, laden with fruits, fit and ready for a good scrumping!

There are over 2500 varities of apples growing in the UK, so I’m not talking about the handful of varieties we can pick up in the supermarkets, I’m talking about the real deal, heritage, local apples.  The ones which flourish in certain areas because of the specific climate, regional apples, that’s what gets me excited.  Most of these are growing wild and many may be falling right now, grab a bucket and get out there!

A neighbour kindly donated this bucket load to the BHK

When I travel, I love nibbling global dishes, exotic fruits and the like.  But there is one thing I miss, sensational UK apples!!  Best in the world.  No question.  (Although, they’re pretty good in France too.)

 

Wild Fruits, Great Names 

Most of the apples you’ll pick up in the supermarkets are pale imitations of a proper apple.  Something local, and in my opinion, the more bumps, the uglier the apple is, the better it tastes!  We have such a rich history of apple cultivation, which is still there, if we shop local and take advantage of the natural abundance at  this time of year.  Many of the best apples I find come from neighbours gardens (please don’t tell them;)

Jane’s Mum sent across a fascinating little article that prompted this post, I find the names of heritage apples so inspiring. They just sound fun! Here’s a selection, just a wee taster (by region).  Do you know some of these?:

 

Scotland – Coul Blush, Bloody Ploughman, Scotch Dumpling, Tower of Glanis, Dog’s Snout 

 

North England – Golden Spice, Cockpit, Carlise Codlin, Rilston Pippin, Lord Hindlip

 

South England – Newton Wonder, D’Arcy Spice, Crawley Beauty, Fearn’s Pippin, Pitmaston Pineapple, Oaken Pin, Tom Pitt, Cornish Gilliflower

 

Wales – Bardsey Island, Pig’s Snout, Cissy, Ten Commandments, Saint Cecilia, Croen Mochya

 

Ireland also has some great varities and names going on:

 

Ireland – Greasy Pippin, Lady’s Finger of Offaly, Kilkenny Pearmain, Irish Peach, Ross Nonpareil, Scarlet Crofton, Ecklinville Seedling   

 

Maybe you have some of these growing in your garden?  Or a local park?  I love these names, many are poetic, rustic, some amusing, but they all speak to me of a different time of food production.  When it wasn’t just about business and high yields.  I think it’s paramount to protect the heritage and diversity of locally grown food, in the UK and around the world.  Most of the varities are just about hanging in there (no pun intended), mainly growing wild or in gardens, but we can always ask for them in our local shops and supermarkets.  If we can get together, in enough numbers, and demand real, local, British apples, maybe we can see apples like the ‘Dog’s Snout’ back on the shop shelves where they belong.  These names really brighten up my day.

 

The Legend of the Bardsey Apple

There is a great story here in North Wales about a local fellow, Ian Sturrock, who discovered a single apple tree on a remote island off the Llyn Peninsula.  Bardsey Island.  When it was tested, it was the last of it’s kind in the world.  This variety has now been saved and it’s grown around the world, from Japan to the USA.  We have one in our garden.  Lovely golden, sweet apples.  There is also a variety of Snowdon Pear which is very rare, tastes like sweet fennel and has a light pink colour inside.  You just don’t get such variety and range of flavours in the most shops.  We are missing out big time!  This is one of our greatest British foodies assets.  Our amazing fruits.

 

Here’s our article from a few years ago all about our love for the Bardsey Apple.

 

The Art of Scrumping 

Scrumping!  It’s a doorway to the best of British apples and fruits.  Go find some nice looking trees, grab a bucket and go and fill your boots/ bucket.  I know people who only scrump at night, but we’re day light scrumpers.  Unabashed.  It’s loads of fun and leads to a bounty of fresh and delicious local apples.   A few basic guidelines for new scrumpers:

 

Just make sure that you’re picking edible apples.

Don’t climb and fall out of trees.

Don’t blatantly nick your neighbours apples, this can lead to bad vibes and unneighbourly jams.

If councils or land owners have put up signs saying ‘DO NOT PICK THESE APPLES’, best to leave them dangling.

 

Local apples, ready for cookies/ crumble

Scrump Away!

Picking fruit gets me in touch with nature again, you plug straight back into the natural world, it’s relaxing and a great excuse to get out in the fresh air.  One friend told me that the art of scrumping is to not get caught.  I think there has to be a slightly more moral approach than that.  Plus, scrumping is not illegal anyway, there’s nothing to feel guilty about if we’re following a few, common sense guide lines.

You don’t need to live halfway up a mountain like us to scrump well, urban scrumping is on the rise.  Inner city fruit foraging.  It may take a little research at first, trying to understand what apples are best for eating, which are best for cooking etc.  But once you’ve identified a local tree, that’s it.  Every year you can pick a crop of delicious local apples.

The benefits of scrumping are free food!  Plus, no packaging or plastic and the only food miles are the steps you take.  I just don’t understand why we don’t plant more fruit trees.  Local councils, lets get more orchards going, even if they’re beside motorways or near pavements etc.  We can organise groups of fruit pickers and jam makers, free neighborhood jams and chutneys all year!  Some local councils have done this in the past, after complaints from residents about being hit by falling fruit and apples impeding their driving.  They provided fruit pickers and yes, gave the chutney away for free!  This seems like a wonderful idea.  We know people who pick your apples for you if you’re too busy/ can’t be bothered and make them into a cider and sell it.  Their business is based on free or donated apples.

 

Apple Recipes

What to do with your new found apple bounty?  Chutneys, apple sauce, soups, add to stews and casseroles, make into jam….the list is almost endless.  Here are a few of our recipes to get your going :

 

Simple Apple and Oat Crumble

Jane’s Apple and Plum Chutney 

Apple and Beetroot Sauerkraut

Apple Mint Herbal Vinegar

 

We’ve even written a step by step post about How to plant your perfect apple tree.  We’ve got all the apple bases covered.

One of the best ways of using up LOTS of apples is to make your own cider.  You do need loads.  You will also need a cider press for this, but again, there will no doubt be someone in your local community who has one you can borrow or use.  Especially if you offer them a small cut of your cider.

Of course, we’re not just looking for apples when we’re in scrumping mode; sloe berries, rosehips, blackberries, damsons, mushrooms, bilberries (see our Bilberry and Spelt Scone recipe), pears, there is a bounty of fresh fruit growing on trees and bushes all around the UK.  We just need to get out there and have a look.

If you are really not fancying scrumping, you can still access local fruits.  Check out freecycle, there may well be someone in your area looking to offload some apples or other fruits.

 

If you do scrump, remember that it is illegal to profit from the fruit you harvest from common or council land.  On private land, you’ll need a ‘scrump pass’.   If you are not a comfortable single scrumper, it can make for a great family activity or form a small local group.  Scrumpers unite!  Some people feel scrumping is a bit cheeky, but that’s the fun bit!

If you’re a serial scrumper of have some scrumping tales or advice, please let us know in the comments below. 

National apple day in the UK is 21st October ’18.  Let’s celebrate local apples, fruits and produce!  Autumn is the perfect time of year to cook and shop local.

 

Look out from my next post if you’re an apple lover, we’ve got an Apple Crumble Cookies (Gluten-free) recipe coming your way very soon.

 


 

Come and join us in North Wales this month for our:

 

Abundant Autumn: Yoga and Vegan Cookery Day Retreat, 20th October ’18 

We’re teaming up with the wonderful Claire Mace from Inspiratrix Yoga for a relaxing and rejuventing day of yoga, a cooking workshop, nourishing smoothies, cakes, plus I’ll be preparing a plant-based Autumn feast using local organic ingredients.

 

You can book now right HERE.  We have a few places still available.    

 

Categories: Autumn, Foraging, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Local food, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Sustainability, Wales | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Mushroom and Squash Rogan Josh – Traditional Kashmiri Curry

Mushroom and Squash Rogan Josh – How to make a proper vegan curry, from scratch (even the spices!)

Make a decadent, aromatic, rich curry from scratch and even make your own spice mix.  I’ve cooked this curry, and variations of it, loads recently, but think this version is the best.  It does take a little longer, but you just can’t compare the flavours.  I’ve given you options to make this a quick curry too, but I’d urge you to give the full version a try.  You’re gonna love it!!

The Real Deal 

Rogan Josh is a rich, classical style curry made with yoghurt as a sauce base, not onions.  It was brought to Kashmir by the Mughal’s as they swept across North India.  I’m captivated by Indian history and if you’re not a regular BHK reader, by way of background, I’m in love with India and have been there many times, travelling from the tip down south to the top, the Himalayas!  I am yet to visit anywhere that is as enchanting and mesmering and the FOOD, lets just say it will take me this lifetime at least to explore such a vast and tantalising cuisine.  This curry is a good start, a staple and as ever, this is vegan food everyone one will love!  How could you not?  We get all the full flavours of roasted veg and mushrooms and treat it to a very special sauce.

If you make this curry, please let me know, I’d be excited to hear about your spice adventures and how you found the flavour.  Once you try this, you’ll never go back to shop bought or jars (unless you were in a real rush!)  I love curries, but at this time of year, with it getting colder and darker, I think this style of warming, rich curry really comes into it’s own.  A radiant, colourful bowl of big flavours that’s perfectly suited as a winter/ autumn warmer.   I get quite passionate when talking about Indian cooking.  Does it show?!

Make your own spice mix. It’s quick, easy and totally, very much, better than shop bought spices

 

Roast your own!  Spices

Spices!  They bring everything to life.  I’ve written so much about spices over the years, not to mention a hefty spice intro (with nutritional benefits) in Peace and Parsnips, our very own cookbook:)  I talked a lot about spices in there, they’re so important to my cooking and dare I say, Indian is my favourite way of cooking.  No, I don’t!  It does depend on how the stars are aligned and what I fancy and all of that, but, we all know Indian food is utterly brilliant and this recipe does it justice I feel.

I give you full instructions below about how to toast and grind your own spice mixes, this one is similar to a Garam Masala, a North India spice mix filled with warming spices like cinnamon and cloves, you can see the picture above and you can probably imagine the aroma when all that hits a warm pan.  Out of this world!!

 

Garam Masala – Hot Spice!

Dry toasting spices like this in a pan adds complexity and brings out all the incredible aromas.  There are many versions of Garam Masala (‘Garam’ – Hot, ‘Masala’ – Spice Mix).  You could add Mace or nutmeg for example.  But I think this is a good all rounder.  If you don’t please let me know below.  If you do, again, let’s talk in the comments.  I love chatting about spices and learning new things.

I’ve added smoked paprika and turmeric to this spice mix, they’re not classically ‘Garam Masala’, but I like them in this Rojan Gosh.

You can also use shop bought spices here.  See in the recipe below.  Keep your spices in a sealed container and use well within the use by date on the packet.  Smell them, if they don’t smell of much, they won’t add much to the curry.

 

Rojan Gosh – filled with influence from the Mughals andPersia, this dish has a fascinating history

 

UK Curries

Most UK curries are different from those in India.  Generally that is.  In most of the Indian Restaurants in the UK, there is very tasty food, but it’s been modified to meet our Western palates.  There are of course some incredible, authentic Indian restaurants in the UK, but the curries I find that most people enjoy and associate with Indian cooking, are not what I eat in India.  We seem to prefer the big, rich flavours of Northern Indian cooking, much of which was influenced by the great Mughal Empire, who brought a lot of influences from Persia and surrounding areas.  For me, that’s what curries represent, a melting pot in so many ways.

I’m just not sure if there is the same approach with spices.  Many curries I eat in the UK seem to lack the vibrancy and fragrance of an curry in India.  I must investigate this further.  Where’s the magic gone?  I was born in Leicester, a town with a rich Indian restaurant heritage, so I know where to get a mighty fine curry.  But it’s not a standard.  So we’ve three choices, go to Leicester, jump on a plane to Delhi, or make your own?

 

We’re going to Kashmir……

Kashmir is a stunning region in the very North West of India, and a very good song of course (click here for Led Zep’s version of Kashmir).  Apparently Robert Plant had never even been to Kashmir when he wrote it, just liked the sound of it.  Maybe he just loved a good Rojan Gosh?

Kashmir borders Pakistan and historically has seen many foreign invaders cross through it, down into the Gangetic Plain, from Alexander the Great to the Persians, although I don’t want this to sound like a history lesson, I’m just fascinated with a dish like Rogan Gosh (loosley translates as ‘Rojan’ – to stew, ‘Gosh’ – red).  A delicious plateful of history.

The well used BHK Dhaba

 

Recipe Notes

I’ve gone for mushrooms and squash here because they’re seasonal and I love them.  But you can use similar vegetables, carrots, potatoes, peppers, whatever takes your fancy.  The key here is the sauce.  That’s where the magic is!

I mentioned that this was traditional, that was a small, white lie.  It is pretty traditional, but in Kashmir they may use something called Cockscomb Flower to give the curry a more reddish hue.  But I’m happy with this colour.

Kashmiri chillies are quite important here.  You’ll find them in most supermarkets and especially Indian/ Asian food shops.  They are milder than many chillies.  We want lots of chillies in the Rojan Gosh masala, but not loads of heat.

If you don’t have dried Kashmiri chillies, that’s cool, go for chilli powder or cayenne pepper, anything to add a little heat to the curry.

Saffron can also be added here, but I think it just gets lost with the other spices and is basically a waste of our precious, and not inexpensive, saffron.

When I mention coconut cream, I mean the cream off a tin of coconut milk.  That means, the thick bit.  Adds lovely creaminess.  Yoghurt is best, unsweetened soya yoghurt, now available in most supermarkets (wahoo!)

Spices, you will have too much here for just one curry, but if you’re going to make your own spice, you may as well make a decent batch I say.  Keep them in a sealed container or jar.  Label them up, with a date, or give them away as a gift.  In my experience, people love the gift of spice!

 

 

Mushroom and Squash Rogan Josh

 

The Bits – For 4-6

1 roasted medium squash, 650g (skin on, chop into chunks, seeds removed)

1 tin chickpeas (drained)

200g or 3 big handfuls mushrooms (chopped)

3 big handfuls or 75g greens (kale, spinach, chard)

5 tbs plain soya yoghurt/ coconut cream

 

Garam Masala – Spice Mix

½ teas green cardamom seeds (seeds from 10 cardamom pods)

½ stick cinnamon

2/3 teas cloves

1 teas black peppercorns

2 tbs cumin seeds

2 tbs coriander seeds

1 teas fennel seeds

3 bay leaves

1-2 dried red Kashmiri chilli

1 teas turmeric

1 ½ teas smoked paprika

 

Or use shop bought spice mix like garam masala plus 1 teas smoked paprika

 

Curry Paste

1 roasted red pepper (seeded, chopped into chunks)

3 garlic cloves

2-4 dried kashmiri chilli

1 inch fresh ginger (chopped)

3 tbs tomato puree

1 teas salt

3 tbs cold pressed rapeseed oil (or whatever oil you use)

 

3-4 tbs Spice Mix

 

Garnish
Fresh coriander and sliced chillies

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 200oC.

On a baking tray lined with parchment, place the red pepper and squash.  Toss in a little salt and cooking oil.  Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until soft and slightly blackened in places.

For the spices – Place a pan on a medium heat, add all the whole spices and toast for 4-8 minutes or more, tossing them and making sure they’re all toasted and smelling fragrant.  They will take on a slightly darker colour and smell ‘toasty’.

Be sure not to burn them, the best way to check this is the smell and the look.  You don’t want any black bits at all.  Some people prefer darker spices, some prefer lightly toasted.  I’d start with lightly toasted.  Add the ground turmeric and paprika a minute before you finish toasting the spices.

Place all the spices in a small blender or spice grinder (coffee grinders are also good), and blitz until a powder forms.   Use some in the curry and store the rest in an airtight container.  Garam Masala is a versatile spice mix.

For the curry paste – Place the roasted red pepper in a blender with the other curry paste ingredients and blend to a smooth paste.

For the curry – In a large frying pan, warm 1 tbs cooking oil and fry your mushrooms for 5 minutes, until they’re soft.  Add the curry paste, thinning out with water or soya milk (creamier) as needed. Once the curry paste is bubbling away, spoon in the yoghurt and check seasoning.

Now add the roasted squash, chickpeas and greens. Warm through from 5-7 minutes, then serve scattered with freshly chopped coriander with naan, chutneys and rice.

This would be delicious with our Mango and Papaya Chutney or Cashew and Green Pepper Pulao or even Quick Carrot and Ginger Pickle.

 

Look at where we live! Nice innit. Snowdonia looking stunning in the autumn sunshine.  Sometimes the mountains around here remind me of the Himalayas.

 

Foodie Fact

Squash is bang in season at  the minute, there are so many varities.  If you’re reading from the US, were of course talking Winter Squashes here.  They are a rich source of vitamin C, A and plenty of fibre and minerals.  Also remember the seeds, you can clean and dry them and they are amazing roasted in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

 

 

Come and join us for cooking workshops and holidays soon, check out our EVENTS page HERE.

 

Our new NEWSLETTER is out very soon, sign up HERE (it takes a few seconds).  Lots more recipes, news and interviews from Jane and I.

 

 

Categories: Autumn, Curries, Dinner, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Bilberry and Spelt Scones

Bilberry and Spelt Scones – Vegan

Autumn is settling in nicely and it’s definitely time for a scone.  Fresh out of the oven.  You know what I’m talking about there.  Plenty of jam and whipped cream.  Yum!!

We went for a long walk yesterday and it really felt like a touch of winter was in the air, the trees are changing; all those bronze, crimson and golden colours are coming.  It’s such a beautiful time of year up here in Snowdonia.

I made these scones using local bilberries, you can use blueberries, mulberries or blackberries here, if you’re not close to bilberry bushes.  These berries were picked somewhere up a mountain, near a beautiful lake, in the Welsh mist.  My kind of ingredient!

I’ve made the recipes as easy as possible, these scones are served in slices which means very straightforward preparation.  They’re a wholesome style, not your light and fluffy sort, but delicious and satisfying.  They’re also low in sugar, are packed with berries and contain local cold pressed rape seed oil, basically, I challenge anyone to make a tastier and healthier scone!  PS – I know cakes aren’t supposed to be healthy, but I still like to try!

 

Autumn = Scone time

Every autumn I like at least one new scone recipe.  Last year we made Coconut Scones, which are a real treat.  I even got invited onto BBC Radio Wales to talk about them.  That’s how good they are!!  Totally different scone style to these.

Really, this is our Beach House version of a Mabon cake, aka the autumn equinox, we’ll talk more about that on our upcoming newsletter coming out this week.  Sign up here (takes a few seconds).  Loads of news, events, promotions and a very special interview over there this time.

 

Spelt – A Love Affair

Readers of the blog will know my love for spelt flour, we’ve had a long romance through the years.  If I can, I’ll find a way to add spelt or other flours like rye, to my baking adventures.  I just love the flavour and texture.  I like that some of my friends who struggle with gluten can enjoy spelt.

I have a similar love affair with cold pressed rapeseed oil.  One of my favourite things about the last few years of living and cooking in Wales and the UK.  Just a brilliant ingredient on every level, local, healthy, tasty and inexpensive.  I buy rapeseed oil from small producers whenever I can.  Because small producers are ace!  I also wanted to avoid vegan butter/ margarine type things in this recipe.  Not a huge fan of it.

Bilberry and Spelt Scones – so simple to make

Bilberries – A taste explosion!

Are a real taste explosions!  Much more intense and flavourful than their bigger and more watery relatives the blueberry.  Have a look around for a local bilberry bush, they grow all over the UK and are ripe for the picking.  You’ll probably find them in wilder places like moors though.  Keep your eyes peeled.  They tend to grow together in big clumps.  They’re not normally city dwellers.

Other berries will be great in these scones too.  Maybe blackberries are more local for you?  Either way, foraging for these berries is loads of fun and free.  Or you can do what we did, get a friend to pick them for you!!

 

What to serve vegan scones with?

So whipped cream and butter are long gone.  Great!!  You’ll find some excellent vegan creme fraiche in the shops nowadays, this is awesome with scones.  Blended up cashew nuts is also a great idea.  Just soak some cashews until soft, then blend, adding a little water to get your desired consistency and sweeten with whatever you like.  Just a touch of sweetness will do.  Whipped coconut cream is another great, treat option.  These all add delicious, and much welcomed, creaminess when tackling a scone.  Jam?  Grab your finest jar.  Jane’s Mum’s Strawberry 2017 is a fine vintage indeed.

Bilberry and Spelt Scones – Full of flavours and ingredients from Wales, with local berries and rapeseed oil

Let us know if you makes these scones in the comments below.  If you like the look of this recipe, you’ll find hundreds more here and you may like to join us for an event this year, from Spain to Manchester, London to Snowdonia, we’re travelling and cooking all over the UK.  All our BHK cooking events are here.

 

Recipe Notes

When making scones, try not to over mix.  Just enough until things are combined.

Do your best to not pop the berries when you’re combining with the mix.  A few popped ones are fine, you can see I popped a few and they give the scones a cool purple look!

You can buy white spelt flour, but I’ve used the organic brown version here.

All flours are different when you’re baking, the amount of liquid can vary depending on many factors.  4 tbs plant milk is a guide here, we’re looking for quite a dry scone mix.  Just enough liquid to keep it all together.

No spelt flour, no probs.  Use a good quality wholemeal flour instead.

The same goes for rapeseed oil, you can use any cold pressed oil (sooooo much better than refined oils).  I’ve been loving cold pressed sunflower oil of late. But, let’s face it, if you don’t use spelt and rapeseed oil, we’re only talking a very distant cousin of these scones.  I think they’ll still be nice, but I can’t offer any formal BHK approval.  Let us know!

Perfect autumn tea time treat!  Served with Jane’s Mum’s Strawberry Jam

Bilberry and Spelt Scones

The Bits – For 8 slices of scones

Dry 

250g spelt flour

2 teas baking powder

60g light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Wet

80g rapeseed oil (cold pressed)

60ml (4 tbs) plant milk

 

1 big handful (75g) bilberries or blueberries

 

For brushing

A dash of plant milk and rapeseed oil

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 180oC.

 

Place all the dry bits into a mixing bowl, and mix together.  Add the wet and stir to combine.  Mix into the bilberries, being as careful as you can not to pop them.

 

Line a baking tray with parchment.  Form the mix into a disc shape, roughly 3/4 inch thick.  Mix together a dash of plant milk and rapeseed oil in a small bowl, brush your scone with this mix.

 

Bake on a middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes, the scone will have a nice golden crust around the edges.  Ideally, leave to cool on the tray for 20 minutes before enjoying!

 

Serve topped with whipped coconut cream and your favourite jam or more berries

 

Foodie Fact

Spelt is said to have been cultivated since 5000 BC!  It is a member of the wheat family and is a great source of energy, the Romans called it ‘marching grass’.  It is high in minerals like magnesium, copper and iron and also boasts a load of thiamin, protein and fibre.

 

Categories: Autumn, Baking, Cakes, healthy, Nutrition, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Homemade Shroom Dogs – Vegan Mushroom Sausages

Shroom Dogs – highly recommended with mustard

These tasty Shroom Dogs are loaded with big flavours and a very sausage-y texture.  They’re really simple, just blend the ingredients and bake.  That’s it!

These sausages can then be pan fried, on a full vegan fry up breakfast (yes please!!) or added to stews, soups or curries and even go well on a barbecue.

They’re also nice just like this, as pictured today for lunch, sliced and served as a part of an autumn platter.  Mustard is essential!  I served mine with some local tomatoes (great time of year for toms) and some fermented cucumber relish and of course, a decent slice of homemade loaf.  I chucked some smoked cheese on later too.  It was hiding in the fridge.

 

Bring on the Shrooms….

I’ve been hearing a lot about Shroom Dogs, aka vegan mushroom sausages, they seem really popular in the UK.  It’s great to see!  I’ve been making sausages like these for years now and there are just so many ways to flavour them up, fill them with big flavours, all very much approved by non-vegans.  They love em!!  I’ve made these Shroom Dogs as simple as possible so you can give them a go.

You know, I wasn’t sure about this name.  To call these hot dogs, well, they’re homemade and delicious and nutritious and packed with good things, very unlike your average hot dog.  So I gave it two names, more descriptive and a great way of hiding my indecisiveness.  Hoorah!  Here’s to double barreled names.

Also the ‘shrooms’ thing, I know some real mushroom experts and foragers who can’t stand it.  I just think it’s fun.  Mushrooms are surely one of my favourite foods, if you spend a few more pennies on a better quality mushroom, the flavour of these sausages goes up a notch or two.

 

New dawn of vegan food

There are so many new vegan products turning up in the shops, it’s awesome!  I love the fact I can pop into the shops and pick up things like vegan yoghurt, cheese and milks.  A few years ago this just wasn’t the case.   I love the fact that more and more products are being marked as vegan.  Looks like the dawn of vegan convenience food has arrived!

But, you know what I’m like (you may be like me!), I’ll always prefer home cooked dishes and variations.   These sausages are better than shop bought in so many ways, taste and nutrition, there are only natural and delicious ingredients here.  They’re actually really healthy, with beans, garlic, herbs and spices.  All good stuff!  You will taste the difference;)

 

Vital Wheat Gluten – What the….?

I know, some of these vegan cooking ingredients have weird and off putting names.  I have no idea why.  This one sounds like a grainy science experiment.  But really, its a genius ingredient.  You will have to track some of this down for these sausages, I recommend a local health food shop, or of course, ask google!

VWG is not anything too freaky, its basically washed flour, all the starch gone, just the elastic gluten left which can be made into a dough and taken in so many directions, all with a very distinct, full, you could say chewy (in a good way) texture.  Vital Wheat Gluten makes Seitan.  Have you tried it?

It has been used for ages in South East Asia for example to make things that look like meat but ain’t meat.  This was done, mainly in Buddhist countries, because people wanted something like meat, but wanted to stick to, or once a month try out, a more peaceful diet.  In Vietnam especially, I have tried some things that are very strange indeed.  Chicken wings, with skin on, which are made of VWG!  Now that is freaky!!

 

Double Up

I normally make double this batch, they freeze well and are so versatile that they don’t hang around for long.  They make a great sausage sandwich, with HP sauce of course!  I like these because they’re a bit lighter in texture than some vegan sausages.

Enjoy and feel free to share this recipe far and wide! 

Do you like what we do?  Do you fancy making these sausages or just want to say hello?  Please do, leave a message in the comments below.

Our latest newsletter is out very soon, sign up now for up to date news, recipes, events, offers and discounts.  CLICK HERE.  Plus Jane and I will be sharing why autumn is so special to us and our favourtie autumn recipes.  It’s just the most beautiful season in Snowdonia.  Thanks, as ever, to you all for your support and enthusiasm.  It means LOADS!

 

Recipe Notes

I’ve gone on the mild side of flavours here, feel free to add more yeast extract and smoked paprika for a stronger flavour.  It balances nicely with the mushrooms.

I think the nutritional yeast flakes add a lot to the flavour, but you can leave them out.

If you’re going to add these to stews or curries, add them just at the end, to warm them through.

 

Shroom dogs, how do you like yours?

 

Homemade Shroom Dogs – Vegan Mushroom Sausages

 

The Bits – Makes 3 large sausages

250g mushrooms (chopped)

2 small garlic cloves (crushed)

175g, 2/3 of a tin white beans (or other beans is fine)

3 teas yeast extract/ marmite

1 tbs rapeseed oil

2 1/2 teas smoked pap

1 teas dried thyme

2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes (optional)

1 teas sea salt

175g vital wheat gluten

 

Do It

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blitz until a dough forms.  There will be some small chunks of mushrooms, that’s fine.

Kneed the dough for a minute or so, then split the dough into 3 even balls, it easiest to do this on a chopping board I find.  If you want to be very precise, you can weigh each ball, this means that each sausage will be the same size and length.

Preheat oven to 190oC and boil 250ml water in a kettle.  Warm a long casserole/ baking dish in the oven.

Grab some kitchen foil, tear off a piece, 6-8 inches long.  Using your hands, roll out each ball into a long sausage shape, long enough to fit into the kitchen foil, with space at the ends to be tucked in.  The foil acts a guide for how long you want the sausages.  Roll the sausages tightly in the foil, then tuck in the ends and twist.  The sausages may expand a little when being cooking, making sure they’re tucked in and wrapped up nicely will ensure a good shape.

In the warm casserole dish, pour 250ml hot water, then add your wrapped up sausages.   Pop into the oven and cook for 40 minutes.   Set aside to cool and then use as you like.

These sausage can be barbecued, pan fried in a little oil, used in stews, curries and soups or served cold with salads.  However you like them best.

 

Homemade Shroom Dogs – Vegan Mushroom Sausages

Foodie Fact

Vital wheat gluten is packed full of protein and is also a decent source of calcium and iron.

Categories: healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Cook Vegan! Christmas Feast, Manchester – Cooking Workshop and Lunch

 

Sunday 2nd December ‘18

 

Learn to cook and plan a creative, show stopping three course vegan Christmas lunch with support and guidance from Lee Watson, plant-based cook and cookbook author, and the Beach House Kitchen team.

Is this your first vegan Christmas?  Are you cooking for vegans or just interested in trying something new and creative?  Maybe you’re a vegan cook looking for fresh festive foodie inspiration?

This hands on workshop is packed with delicious plant-based alternatives to a traditional Christmas lunch. All dishes are full of bold flavours and textures that everyone will enjoy.

Cook Vegan Xmas will leave you feeling cool, calm and prepared for the great Christmas day cook off!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor

We’ll cook together a three course meal, making a starter, stunning centre piece and all the trimmings plus a decadent dessert. Many of the dishes you can freeze at home, to be extra prepared for the big day.

You’ll also get a full recipe booklet, including an invaluable timetable, so you can plan your cooking leading up to the big meal, making sure everything is ready at the right time. You’ll also leave with some essentials; stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce for the freezer.

We have an excellent venue, with fully licensed bar and fresh tea and coffee available.

Anyone familiar with Lee’s cooking will know that the recipes are going to be creative but not overly time consuming or complex. Christmas day is about finding a balance between delicious dishes and straightforward preparation. Leaving more time to raise a glass or two and enjoy the day with friends and family. He’ll even make you fall in love with Brussels Sprouts. It is possible!

Cook Vegan Xmas will provide you with new techniques and tricks, plus you’ll leave the day feeling confident that 2018 will be the best vegan Christmas lunch yet!

You will learn how to cook:

MENU

Welcome Drink
Hot Apple Mull

Starter
Roast Squash and Ginger Soup with Almond Bacon and Coriander

Main Course
Portobello Mushroom Wellington with Toasted Walnut and Rosemary Stuffing
Glazed Rainbow Roots
Pan fried Brussels Sprouts with Black Kale and Vegan Parmesan
Yorkshire Puddings
Cranberry, Orange and Prosecco Sauce
Rich Christmas Gravy
Creamy Mash

Dessert
Festive Chocolate and Orange Brownie Cake with Mulled Berries and Vanilla Ice Cream

 

 

Lee will be releasing the final menu a little later in the year.

We’ll all sit down at the end to enjoy the dishes we’ve created together. Coffee, wine and drinks will be available to buy from the Food Sorcery bar, plus we’ll enjoy a warming mulled drink on arrival (non-alcoholic).

The workshop is hands on, fast-paced and fun. Like the big day itself! We’ll work together in groups of three (max), with some techniques demonstrated by Lee and some working from the recipe booklet. All levels of cooks will be benefit from the day. There will at least 30 minutes for lunch at the end.

 

Cook Vegan Xmas what’s included:

 

Three course lunch

Festive arrival drink

Full recipe booklet with tips and advice

Locally sourced, high quality ingredients

Essential planning timetable

All equipment, including aprons

Tuition and support from experienced cooks

No washing up at the end (unless you really want to!)

BOOK NOW!

Day Ticket  £99

CLICK HERE

 

 

10:30am – 1:30pm

Sunday 2nd December ‘18

Food Sorcery Cooking and Barista School

Waterside Hotel & Leisure Club
Wilmslow Road
Didsbury
M20 5WZ

 

Categories: Cooking demos, Events, plant-based, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Almond and Orange Biscotti – Vegan, Gluten-free

Almond and Orange Biscotti – Gluten-free and vegan

Delicious crunchy biscuits with toasted almonds and a touch of orange.  I love biscotti on their own, but they are so versatile and seem to go perfectly with ice cream.  Not sure why?  Something about that crunch!  They keep well and make lovely gifts, when nicely wrapped.  Early Christmas presents!!?

I’ve been working on a gluten-free version for a while and I’ve cracked it!  Sometimes recipes happen quickly and they’re great, sometimes they takes years to develop and seem to improve naturally each time, a tweak here, a few minutes more in the oven there.  I love this biscotti base recipe and play around with the flavourings and nuts regularly.  I like them spiced up of course, a little cinnamon and cardamom with the orange works really well.  I recently made some coconut and lime biscotti, which whilst not being very Italian, went down a treat

I know, quite well, what it’s like cooking for people with dietary requirements.  It seems like most of us do nowadays.  I love recipes that tick most of the boxes like this one.  Vegan.  Tick.  Gluten-free.  Tick.  Yum.  Big tick.  Because let’s face it, just because we’re baking gluten-free we still want awesome results.  It’s a brilliant challenge and I don’t think anyone will tell the difference with these biscotti.  If anything, I prefer them to the other, wheat ones.

There’s a magic combo here of gram (chickpea) flour and corn flour which I use quite a bit in vegan baking.  The cornflour really helps to bind things together and gram flour is just one of my favourite things.  People can’t believe it when you tell them it’s got chickpeas in.  The shock can lead to dropped biscuits!  But just to confirm, when baked, gram flour has no chickpea flavour.  No worries.

As with all my baking, I try to keep the sugar to a minimum.  I do some ‘sugar-free’ baking, but generally I find that can mean substituting one sugar for another sugar (maybe in liquid form).  I like coconut sugar, but I’m not a fan of it’s price tag.  I try to use good quality brown sugar in baking.  Mostly labeled as light brown sugar.  Some cakes may not be as light, textures do change, but I rarely bake with white sugar.

Biscotti and a brew – Yes please!!

We’ve been talking soup over on the Facebook page, the autumn is settling in nicely up here in Snowdonia.  A nice nip in the air and the nights are creeping in.  The blackberries are going wild!  I love winter but I’m loving getting together our Viva Vegan!  Spain Holiday with the sensational Aine Carlin.  We’re even running an Awesome Autumn offer, £70 off. All the details are here.  We are good to you!!  I’m planning my menus this week and really getting into Mediterranean mode.  Moroccan today.  I love cooking global dishes in Wales, we’ve got such amazing produce to play with.  Especially at this time of the year.  It is strange sometimes thinking about Tangiers and looking at the Snowdonia hills.  They’re pretty different places.  It may seem a little early to be thinking of a winter sun break, but November is just around the corner.  Winter’s coming!  So come with us to Spain and we’ll do all the cooking!!  Can’t wait.

I know you can buy biscotti easily in the shops, but homemade is the way forward right!?  So much better than shop bought and simple to bake.

If you try out the recipe, please let us know  in the comments below, or just say a quick, ‘Hello!!’   We love hearing from you, especially when you’ve just eaten a warm biscotti!

If you’re on Facebook, why not pop over to out Beach House Kitchen Vegan Cooking Group.  You’d be very welcome and we post all kinds of food pictures and chat over there.

PS – Who likes the Campervan mug?

 

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Recipe Notes

If you don’t have gram flour, you can use a gluten-free flour mix instead.  Don’t substitute the polenta, it gives the biscotti a nice bite.

Like I said, use hazelnuts or cashews if you like and any citrus you fancy.

I mentioned in the recipe, but do keep your eye on the biscotti when you’re getting to the end of baking.  There is a fine line between bang on and overdone with biscotti, I think it’s because we bake them for so long.  If your oven is a strong, fan oven, maybe drop the heat 20oC when you go for the second bake.

 

Almond and Orange Biscotti – Vegan and Gluten-free

 

The Bits – For 24-ish

 

Dry

200g gram flour

25g cornflour

75g polenta

1 ½ teas baking powder

¼ teas salt

 

1 handful toasted almonds (roughly chopped)

 

Wet

125g coconut oil (melted)

150g light brown sugar

½ tbs well ground chia seeds (mixed with 3 tbs water)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbs orange zest

 

Do It

Preheat fan oven to 180°C.

Mix the wet ingredients in one bowl, and the dry ingredients in another bowl, then pour the wet into the dry and mix well with a spoon. Don’t worry about over stirring; this is gluten-free.

Line a baking tray / sheet with baking parchment. With wet hands form the dough into two even balls, then fashion into two long flat sausages / logs. The biscotti will rise and spread out a little when baked, but not much.

Place the two logs / sausages onto the baking tray and into the oven for 30 minutes. Turn your tray 90o once if your oven is hotter at one end than the other.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly on the tray. When cool enough to handle, place the two sausages / logs on a chopping board and with a sharp knife cut into biscotti sized slices, roughly ¾ inch in width. Grab the baking tray and flip the individual biscottis on their sides and bake again for 10 more minutes each side. Keep you’re eye on them after the last flip so that they don’t burn. Once there are very crunchy place on a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy with ice cream or a nice coffee (or both!)  We just had them with roasted peaches and coconut ice cream with raspberries on the side.  Must take a picture next time.

 

Foodie Fact

Almonds not only taste amazing, they’re really good for us too.  They’re really high in anti-oxidants, which are in the skin, so try and eat almonds skin-on.  They’re high in Vitamin E, and minerals like manganese and magnesium, plus plenty of fibre and good fats.  Of course, they’re nuts!  Loads of protein there.

Categories: Baking, Desserts, gluten-free, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Rice – Lebanese Style

A simple, stand out dish to spice up your autumn

This is a real centre piece dish which is simple to make and packed with big flavours and colours.  This recipe will add a little warming spice and vibrancy to your autumn cooking.

You may not have roasted, or baked, rice before, but it’s an easy way of getting really intense flavours into a rice dish.  This is a great base for all kinds of variations, I made it Lebanese, down to the fresh spices I had; bharat, za’atar and sumac, but you could easily make it Moroccan, Italian, Indian, even Spanish, whatever spices and herbs you prefer.  The technique is the same, highly untraditional, but tasty non-the-less.

You could say that this is a Lebanese Paella, but maybe that’s pushing things.  I have a feeling I’d upset many of my Spanish friends and readers.  Paella is a passionate subject!

I’ve never had a dish like this in Lebanon, I know there are a load of rice dishes, but I’ve not tried a baked rice one.  I do love a Maqluba though, here’s my recipe from a few years ago Maqluba with Roasted Pepper, Aubergine and Almond.

This was cooked when we were in Spain, so I was making Paellas regularly, mainly because I love them dearly.  They are great cooked on a hob in a traditional Paella dish and in the oven, a little variation cannot be bad.  I think nailing a paella is important, get one paella that you know and love and your quality of life increases dramatically.  Paella is such a satisfying dish, a dazzling centre piece and like I said, is pretty easy when you know how.  Practice + a little know how = yums!

Big on flavours and colours.

A baked rice dish (some may call paella!) goes well on a sunny day, but I think they’re even better in autumn and winter time, when the toasted, roasted, aromatic flavours of this dish really come into their own.  There are many layers of flavours and textures, to me, this is what makes vegan cooking awesome.  I was talking at the weekend at Ludlow Food Festival, to a tent full of meat eaters, about the very same thing.  Most agreed that they’d eat vegan/ plant-based food if it was tasty without any qualms.  It’s all about unlocking the deep and stunning flavours in plant-based food.  This dish is like a key.  Meat eaters will love it, something you can cook for your family or a group of friends, and all will leave satisfied.

CRUSTS

Crusts.  They taste good.  They’re like a concentrated version of the rest of the dish.  The crispy, dark best bit. Many cultures agree with me, those who know a thing or two about cooking rice, I’m thinking Iran and Spain in particular.  The crust has a special name and is the prized part of the dish, handed to the most deserving person and polished off with relish.  Don’t fear a crust on this dish.  It’s a good thing.  Scrape it off and serve it as a crispy topping.  Of course the art is to discern between a crust and a layer of burnt food.  It’s a skill best learned through practice and a keen sense of smell.  You can also peek a little when the rice is cooking.

Let us join together and educate the word that crusts are our friends, especially children.  Why are many children adverse to crusts?  Cutting crusts off bread seems like madness to me.  Unless we’re saving the crusts for later to make some epic, crust based dish for a special occasion.  What would that dish be?  Answers below in the comments please.

Rice is a source of carbs, which is a good thing.  They keep us ticking over.  Nothing wrong with a nice plate of carb rich bits like rice mixed with plenty of fresh veggies and legumes in our opinion. They give us the energy to swim and run around.  Using brown rice here would make the dish even healthier, slow release carbs, long lasting energy.

I love this dish served with hummus or tangy labeh (yoghurt or sour cream would also be ace), a crisp green leaf salad and some lemon wedges.   Maybe even a sprinkle more za’atar and bharat.  Now that’s getting my taste buds excited.  In fact anything which combines the Lebanese flavour trinity of bharat, za’atar and sumac is exhilarating food.  If you haven’t tried these together in a dish, I highly recommend you pop down to the shops and get some.  They are widely available.  A nice idea is to toast some flatbread/ pitta, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over these spices/ herbs.  Instant Lebanese toast!  Serve with chopped tomatoes and cucumber, a nice breakfast there.

Shall we call this a Lebanese Paella?

If you’re interested in my travels around Lebanon last year, here are a couple of blog posts:

Seeking Falafel Perfection in Lebanon

I Ate Lebanon!

Or just click on the recipes header (above) for a selection of Lebanese recipes.  Surely one of my favourite cuisines with so many vegan options.

If you like this recipe, please let us know.  If you make this recipe, maybe you’d like to share a picture over on our Facebook cooking group, click here.  Lots of vegan cooks with positive outlooks over there doing amazing things with vegetables.  Feel free to share this recipe far and wide!  It makes our day when we see our recipes on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Happy cooking!!

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Recipe Notes

Adding chickpeas is a nice idea instead of lentils, stir a tin’s worth of cooked chickpeas into the rice before topping with veg.

Top this dish with any veg that is looking good.  Autumn is here in the UK, we are spoilt for choice.  I used Med Veg because I was in Spain.  If I cooked it here I may top this with ingredients like red cabbage, more onions, wild mushrooms, carrots or squash.  My point is, feel free to play.  Let us know about your amazing creations in the comments below.

Don’t have bharat, use another spice mix like garam masala or ras el hanout.

Don’t have za’atar, use dried thyme with a few sesame seeds mixed in.

Don’t have sumac, leave it out.  When you serve this dish with lemon wedges, it adds the citrus kick we need.

Lemon wedges.  Yes, I do serve everything with lemon wedges!  It adds a lovely citrus lift to this dish.

You can use any type of shallow oven dish.

This dish will vary, mainly depending on the type of rice and dish used.  Check after 25 minutes, most of the liquid should have evaporated, remember, the rice will soak up a little liquid when you leave it to rest.

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Rice – Lebanese Style

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Rice – Lebanese Style

 

The Bits – For 6

400g short grain rice (risotto or paella rice works well)

50g green/ brown lentils

1 tbs cooking oil

1 tbs cumin seeds

2 medium onions (sliced)

4 large cloves garlic (sliced)

2 tbs bharat – spice mix

2 tbs za’atar

2 teas salt

650 ml light vegetable stock or hot water

400 ml tomato passatta

1 big red pepper (sliced)

1 small aubergine (sliced)

1-2 tbs olive oil

 

Toppings

Toasted walnuts/ almonds

Za’atar and sumac

Chopped fresh parsley

 

Serve

Lemon wedges

Hummus or vegan labneh

 

Do It

Wash and rinse your rice and lentils with plenty of cold water.  Drain well.

Preheat oven to 225oC.  Place in your shallow oven dish to warm.

In a large frying pan on medium high heat, add the oil and when warm the cumin seeds.  Fry them for 30 seconds and then add the onions and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Cook for 12-15 minutes, until nicely golden and caramelised.  Add the bharat spices, garlic and za’atar, stir and fry for a minute then pour in the passatta and 1 teas more of salt.  Simmer and stir for a couple of minutes.  Now mix in the rice and lentils and then vegetable stock, stir well to combine.

Pour the rice mix into your warm, not hot, oven dish.  Level it out with a spoon and scatter over the aubergine and peppers and gently press them down with your hand, until they’re roughly half submerged in the stock.

Place your dish in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Check after 25 minutes and drizzle over a little more olive oil to help the vegetables caramelise and add richness.

Once cooked, cover and set aside for 5-10 minutes to cool a little.  Then sprinkle over parsley, more spices and toasted nuts.  Best served as suggested, with hummus/ labneh and a crisp salad.

 

Foodie Fact

Aubergine (bizarrely known as eggplant to some!;) is a superhero of the veg world.  Us vegans use it all the time for its brilliant texture.  Have you tried cooking an aubergine on an open flame until charred.  When peeled, the aubergine is smoky and delicious, ready for traditional dishes like Babaganoush, but also makes an amazing burger filling or pizza topping.

Nutrition wise, aubergines are not exactly outstanding.  They do contain some fibre, vitamin B1 and minerals like copper and manganese, there are some cool chemicals in the black skin that are really good for us.  Like many veggies, eating aubergines with the skin on is best from a health point of view.

Categories: Autumn, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Awesome Autumn Offer £70 Off!! Viva Vegan – Spain, Plant-based Cooking Holiday, Nov ’18

Awesome Autumn Offer** now on £70 OFF per person!!

 

We’re offering a great opportunity to join us for Viva Vegan! Spain: Plant-based Cooking Holiday with Áine Carlin, full details below.

Book your dream weekend of winter sun in a stunning villa with delicious meals and much, much more.  Only a few rooms left!

We’ll be announcing more details this week about the weekend’s master classes and workshops, plus news on our yoga classes and Mediterranean inspired menus.

Best way to keep up with details and announcements for Viva Vegan! is over on our facebook event page.

See you soon in Spain!

**Valid until 8/10

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Viva Vegan! Spain

Thursday 8th – Monday 12th November 2018

Join best-selling cookbook authors Áine Carlin (Cook Share Eat Vegan, Keep it Vegan & The New Vegan) and Lee Watson (Peace and Parsnips) for a peaceful and inspiring slice of winter sunshine, delicious plant-based treats and beautiful beaches.

Get away from it all and learn how to cook awesome healthy food that everyone will love.

We’ll be staying in a stunning, modern eco villa located in a quiet, picturesque bay, right on the beach.

“Our passion for a cooking and enjoying creative vegan food and a healthy lifestyle brought us to work together. We’d been looking for the perfect location for a while, and wow, have we found it!”  Lee

Áine and Lee are thrilled to be able to collaborate, showcasing the diversity and vibrant potential of plant-based dishes.

They’ll be cooking creative cuisine, inspired by the sensational flavours of the Med, using local produce.

All meals will be prepared in the modern, open plan kitchen and served on the lovely terrace overlooking the beach, with nourishing smoothies in the morning and sunset mocktails, or a glass of local wine, each evening.

Murcia is called the ‘garden of Spain’ for a good reason, the fruit and vegetables are a plant-based cooks dream.

There will be daily cooking demonstrations and workshops, which will be themed and designed to give you all the skills, secrets and support you need to start cooking fresh, wholesome food at home.  Any level of cook will find interesting new tips and techniques.

Get ready to transform the way you cook!

Áine and Lee will share their knowledge freely and you’ll leave with a recipe booklet and newfound confidence.

Reserve your spot now for £49

“It was definitely the best vegan food (actually any food) that I’d ever eaten; beautifully presented and made with so much love by Lee and the team.Lee is passionate about plant-based food and was incredibly generous in sharing his wisdom and knowledge with us.”  Sandy

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‘Finding the balance between health and indulgence…Discover the beauty of plant-based food…leave your preconceived notions at the door – it’s time to cook, eat, smile (repeat)’ Áine

Our Viva Vegan! holiday takes place in a small, traditional village, aptly named the ‘jewel’ of the Spanish coastline.  An area that Lee loves dearly, where he has cooked and ran healthy plant-based events for many years.

This holiday offers not only a rare chance to truly unwind, recharge and enjoy some winter sunshine before the Christmas period, but also meet like-minded people.

We’ll be going on scenic walks along the stunning coastline and beaches, to small villages and cafes, with magnificent views of mountains and the ocean.

This is ‘real’ Spain and the Costa Calida is famous for its unspoilt scenery, an environmentally protected area with friendly locals.

November in Murcia is many people’s favourite month, lots of sunshine in the day and cool at night, it is also very peaceful and we’ll no doubt have the beaches to ourselves.

Awesome Autumn offer now available, £70 discount per person (see below)

Click here for full post, prices and information

 

Categories: Cooking Holidays, Events, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, photography, plant-based, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Chocolate, Sea Salt & Quinoa Cookies (Gluten-free)

Chocolate, Sea Salt and Quinoa Cookies (Gluten-free)

Perfect weekend treat cookies!  Rich, light, chocolaty and yeah, made of quinoa.  More of that later, but these cookies are delicious!  I could eat a whole tray of them with a really big cuppa.

This recipe comes by popular request from our vegan cooking group over on Facebook.  It seems the combination of chocolate, sea salt and quinoa flour has got us curious, maybe some a little skeptical?  But it all works very nicely!

So, let’s start this weekend as if we mean it, with a big plate of warm, freshly baked cookies.  Made with love.  The whole house smelling like one big yummy cookie.  This recipe will make you many new friends, please neighbours, pacify children and generally help us to incorporate more cookies into our diets.  Which is important!

Try something new!

These are not just any old cookie though, they’re made with quinoa flour.  Yup!  It’s a thing.  And a mighty fine thing it is.  They’re a full chocolate flavour with added richness coming from the tahini/ peanut butter plus a little twist for the topping, sea salt.

I’ve been looking for a use for a bag of quinoa flour for a while, it just sat there staring at me from the cupboard, asking “Why am I here?”  I was challenged, I tried a few things out that I wasn’t happy with (you cannot make tofu with quinoa flour!  You can however make inedible grey sludge instead).  Then we had a big bake off, Jane’s Tea and Cake Day, loads of friends, loads of cake.  What better time to unveil a quinoa cookie?!  I really like them, these are soft, light cookies.

So, quinoa in cookies, whatever next you may say?  Well, quinoa flour is a healthy choice and more accessible now in shops.  It has some protein, a little fibre and a good lump of iron in there.  The protein in there helps with the baking, gluten is a protein, so flours rich in protein are best to use when baking gluten-free.  I like to add it to gluten-free bread recipes, it gives a good texture and makes for light baked goods.

Salt on sweet things? “Why?”

I know it sounds strange, in fact with the quinoa element also, these cookies may not be getting you that excited.  But trust me, salt is an essential component of most desserts and sweet things.  It brings dishes to life!

A little salt will make all the difference and sprinkling good quality sea salt on these cookies really enhances the deep chocolate flavour, salt also goes very well with peanut butter.  You’ve all tried salted caramel and most people seem to like that sweet and salty thing.

Although it’s distinctly not for everyone, our friend popped over and tried a cookie, I totally forgot to mention the salt and the face she pulled was impressive and a bit worrying.  A face filled with pure shock and disgust.  “What the heck is that?!”  Pointing at the salt.  Eyes blazing.  “SALT!!!”.  Then came a saddened shake of the head, and a defeated, pitiful, “Why?”  She has tried most of my far out there experiments with food, many of them are just a bit weird, but for me, salt on cookies is cool.  It works.  But is obviously not for everyone.  What is?

Make your own quinoa flour

I realise that we all don’t regularly stock quinoa flour in our cupboards.  But quinoa grains are more popular.  All we need to do to make quinoa flour is blend the grains in a high speed blender for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until nice and fine.  Then pass this through a sieve, taking out the lumps, and leaving you with light quinoa flours.  This works for most grains if you’re running low on specialist flours.  Try toasting the flour or the grains in a pan for 5-7 minutes, on a medium heat, tossing regularly.  You’ll smell a toasty flavour and see the quinoa change to a darker shade of brown.  This adds a deeper flavour.

How do you feel about these cookies?  Are you going to give them a go?  Do you like a little salt in your desserts?  Let us know in the comments below and, if you have an question at all, fire them across.

Have a sweet weekend!

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Recipe Notes

Not into salt on cookies.  That is perfectly fine, just omit it, no topping.   But please leave the touch of salt in the cookies, as I said, it’s important.

Not a fan of tahini/ peanut butter (there are a few out there), I would imagine any nut or seed butter would be fine, but I haven’t tried them out.  Don’t omit the nut/ seed butters, they give the cookies a nice richness.

Don’t over bake the cookies, 10 minutes should be enough, just till they form a crust.  They will be soft to the touch, just leave for a few minutes to cool on the tray.

Try to use a nice olive oil for these cookies.  I find the flavour of olive oil works brilliantly with dark chocolate.

Chunks are nice.  Of course!  You can keep the chocolate chunky for a nice chocolate surprise, or I also like to blitz the chocolate a few times in a blender and stir it into the cookie mix.  More and more richness!

I went off quinoa for a while, preferring more local grains, but in recent years, there are many sources of British grown quinoa.  Hodmedod’s is one.  They do some really interesting grains and pulses, I haven’t tried their smoked quinoa from Essex, but it sounds very cool indeed.  You will also find quinoa flour in places like health food shops and in some supermarkets (try the Free-from sections for example).

These cookies are absolutely brilliant with Dulce de Leche, see our recipe here.  Like a vegan coconut caramel.

Fresh out of the oven.

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Chocolate, Sea Salt and Quinoa Cookies

The Bits – For 10 cookies

 

Dry

100g quinoa flour

3 tbs cocoa or cacao powder

1/2 teas bicarb of soda

1/2 teas baking powder

 

Wet

80g light brown sugar

2 tbs tahini or smooth peanut butter

75ml olive oil

1 teas vanilla extract

2 tbs flax egg (1 tbs ground flax mixed with 3 tbs water)

1/4 sea salt

 

60g broken up, good quality dark chocolate (I used 80%)

Extra sea salt for sprinkling

 

Do It

Preheat fan oven to 180oC.  Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Make your flax egg, mixing the ground flax seed with the water.  Leave it for 10 minutes, it will thicken.  Add a little more water if needed and stir, we’d like it gloopy and thick, but not totally solid.

Place the dry bits into a bowl.  Place the wet bits into a bowl, mixing them until combined.  Now mix the wet bits into the dry, until a thick dough is formed.

Roll roughly 2-3 tablespoons of cookie dough into little balls in hands, then press down onto the baking tray, making small disc shapes.   They will expand a little during baking.

Bake 10 minutes until thin crust forms over the cookies, but they are still soft in the middle.  Leave to cool on the baking tray and get the kettle on!

 

Foodie Fact – Quinoa

Quinoa is actually a small seed and is a rare plant-based source of complete protein, meaning it contains all the 20 amino acids we need.

It’s rightly regarded as one of the most nutritious grains going; high in fibre and folic acid.  Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and contains good levels of minerals like manganese, magnesium, zinc and iron.

Some of the health benefits associated with quinoa are a healthy heart, weight loss and it may even help to fight cancer.

 

Come and join Jane and I in Spain, along with the amazing cookbook author Aine Carlin (Keep it Vegan)

**It’s the last week of our Early Bird Offer**

Learn how to cook awesome vegan dishes and completely relax for a weekend on a beautiful Spanish beach?

Viva Vegan! Plant-based Cooking Holiday in Spain.   

 

 

Categories: Baking, Cakes, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Mango and Papaya Chutney

Mango and Papaya Chutney (vegan, gluten-free)

A tangy summertime tropical treat that goes well with most things; curries, burgers, salads, vegan cheese.  I used our Moxarella – Vegan Mozzarella recipe here on quite a tropical ploughman’s style platter.

Mango and papaya are two of my favourite fruits, although getting good ones can be tough in Wales.  I’ve noticed more papayas becoming available and the key to a papaya is to get them nice and ripe.  The skin should be almost completely yellow and orange and it should feel a little soft.  When I’ve eaten papayas in more tropical places, they go from just ripe to woah, take it easy, way too ripe in around 10 minutes.  It seems that in cooler climates, papayas are more relaxed.  Ours took around 4 days to ripen in a fruit bowl with bananas, if you want to keep it from ripening, pop it in the fridge.  I think a ripe papaya is a match for a ripe mango and, in India especially, is probably a 1/5 of the price.  No wonder Christopher Columbus called it ‘The Fruit of the Angels’.

I made this at the weekend for our Food for the Soul event in Snowdonia and promised to post the recipe. It has a good balance of sweetness and tang, with some spices to add extra dimensions of flavour.

Papaya Farming

I’ve worked on a papaya farm.  Honest!  Became pretty good at harvesting them.  This entails using a long piece of bamboo, standing under the tree and jabbing (gently) a ripe papaya with your bamboo appendage, they’re the yellow/ orange ones, and in approximately less than a second, catching the falling papaya with your free hand.  This is a tricky business and takes practice and the reactions of a mongoose, of which there was family of living just beside my hut.  This was in Tamil Nadu, India.  Most mornings we harvested the crops for the local market, a fascinating array of produce created in a relatively small area, using mainly permaculture farming practices.

I was writing Peace & Parsnips at  the time, in the sweltering heat of summertime, the farming was a day job of sorts.  It was a organic farm in a community called Auroville.  A fascinating place.  The farm was called Solitude Farm and I also cooked lunch there with the women in the kitchen.  I learned much, mainly about using tropical ingredients like yams, banana flowers, plantains, various flowers, purple amaranth, snake gourds, plenty of coconut, and all kinds of other things.  Surprisingly for me, basil and little sweet cherry tomatoes grew like weeds all over the place.  We cooked on wood fires, crouching on the floor.  I loved it.  The restaurant used only organic produce grown on the farm, even the rice and peanuts.

Lunch is legendary at Solitude – celebrating the produce from the farm

I’ve also harvested mango’s, but I’ll save that story for another day.  Hehehe.  It’s a dangerous undertaking.  Mango trees do not want you to nab their fragrant fruits.  Goggles can be useful.

This chutney is quick n’ easy, give it a whirl and be sure to let us know how it goes in the comments below.

Recipe Notes

This is a lower sugar chutney, I prefer it that way.  This has a good balance I feel, but if you like a very stick and sweet chutney, you may prefer a few more tablespoons of sugar.

We enjoyed this chutney with a mixed bag of a platter.  Nachos, salsa, smoky vegan mozzarella and pickled jalapenos.

Papayas are easy to skin, you can use a potato peeler or a sharp knife.  Then just scoop out all the big black shiny seeds.  The seeds are edible, quite peppery and bitter.  Your papaya flesh should be soft and deep orange/ pink in colour.

When you cut into a mango, be sure to trim away as much fruits as possible from the seed.  There can be quite a bit of fruit hidden around the seed.

Papayas can be huge, but in Britain, they are sold quite small, lets say around 8-10 inches in length.  That’s the size we use here.  Avoid papayas which are bruised or have lots of black spots.

 

Mango and Papaya Chutney (Vegan. Gluten-free)

 

The Bits – Make two large jars or 1 litre kilner jar

1 onion (finely diced)

2 heaped tbs fresh ginger (finely chopped)

1 small cinnamon stick

1 teas cumin seeds

1 teas coriander seeds

 

4 green cardamom pods (cracked)

1/3 – 1/2 teas chilli flakes or 1 red chilli (deseeded finely diced)

1/2 teas ground turmeric

3/4 teas nigella seeds

2 mangoes (peeled, deseeded and diced)

1 papaya (peeled, deseeded and diced)

100-125 g light brown sugar

125 ml red wine vinegar

1 tbs cooking oil

 

Do It 

In a sauce pan, add the oil and warm on medium high heat.  Add the cumin, cinnamon and coriander seeds, stir a few times, for around 30 seconds.  Then add the onions and ginger.  Fry for 6 minutes, until soft, then add the rest of the spices followed by the fruit and then finally, the sugar and vinegar.  Stir well and bring to a simmer.  Leave to cook for 35 minutes, until the chutney thickens.

Allow to cool, then spoon into a container.  This chutney is ideal served with your favourite curries, salads, burgers or why not try a tropical cheeze platter.

Store in a sterilised jar.  Will keep for a few months, but when opened, pop in the fridge.

Foodie Fact

Papaya is very high in vitamin C and is also a good source of folates, vitamin A and fibre.  Papayas help to support our immune system, are anti-inflammatory and may well keep our hearts healthy.

 

Would you like to learn how to cook awesome vegan dishes and completely relax for a weekend on a beautiful beach?

Join cookbook author Áine Carlin and I for our Viva Vegan! Plant-based Cooking Holiday in Spain.  Early bird offer now on! 

 

Categories: Chutney, Curries, gluten-free, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 24 Comments

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