Author Archives: leroy watson

About leroy watson

I am a vegan cook, writer, blogger, traveller and sometimes TV presenter. I like to pass time writing poetry, playing guitar, gardening, blogging, creating new vegan recipes, walking in the hills, practicing all forms of yoga and meditation, running, sitting by the fire, cooking elaborate feasts for my loved ones and finding elusive chess partners.

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.

——————

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: , , | 7 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 plan and cook a creative, show stopping three course vegan Christmas lunch with support and guidance from Lee 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!

We’ll cook together a three course meal, making a starter, stunning centrepiece 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.

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:

Festive Starter

Main Course Christmas Centre Piece

Cranberry & Orange Sauce (can be frozen for the big day)

Tasty Vegan Gravy (can be frozen for the big day)

Stuffing (can be frozen for the big day)

Roasted Root Veg and Brussels Sprouts

Yorkshire Puddings

Decadent Dessert

 

 

Lee will be releasing the full 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.

Your favourite festive jumpers and aprons are encouraged. As well as learning new skills, this is a pre-Christmas celebration. We’re going to have lots of fun!

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:

 

Full recipe booklet with tips and advice

Essential planning timetable

All equipment, including aprons

Tuition and support form experienced cooks

Locally sourced, high quality ingredients

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

 

 

BOOK NOW!

 

**Early Bird Offer £89**

 

Normal Price Day Ticket £99

 

 

10:30am – 1:30pm

Sunday 2nd December ‘18

 

Food Sorcery Cooking and Barista School

Waterside Hotel & Leisure Club
Wilmslow Road
Didsbury
M20 5WZ

 

** Early bird offer ends 5/10

Categories: Cooking demos, Events, plant-based, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , , , | 8 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

——–

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

triplecitrustarttriangle-jpeg

‘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!

———————

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.

—————

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

BIG thank you to all!! Beautiful gifts and get inspired

Beach House Kitchen Wreath by Jenna Clyne

We’re feeling really veryvery lucky today, to be able to write this blog and do our vegan cooking thing all across the UK (and occasionally Europe too)!!  Not a day goes by that I don’t cook or write and take a moment to think about all the cool stuff and incredible people that this blog has brought into our lives.  We feel part of an inspiring global community.

NAMASTE mosaic by Madeleine Howard

We have received some beautiful gifts and cards and have just taken a quick snap of two of them.  Jenna’s Beach House Kitchen wreath made from foraged Cornish bits and pieces.  It’s just stunning!  Also Madeleine’s vibrant Namaste mosaic.  Both are works of art, made with such talent and care.  Much love and gratitude to Jenna and Madeleine for these, but also, to everyone who contributes to the blog, checks out our posts, comes to our events, holidays and retreats.

Jane and I were just saying that without exception, everyone we have met through the blog, TV thing, cookbook and all has been so positive and open hearted.  In a world where this is not always the case, it gives us renewed faith in people and the future.  You inspire us to keep going and doing what we do, spreading the message of healthy, peaceful, vegan vibes far and wide.

If you have an inspiring quote or image you’d like to share, it could be your own or someone else’s, please post it in the comments below.  Let’s get inspired this Friday!  Ready for a wonderful weekend.

Thank you always and happy cooking,

Lee and JaneX

 

Categories: photography, plant-based, Vegan, veganism | Tags: | 6 Comments

Dinner at the Farm – Photos of our Kashmiri Feast on Tyddyn Teg Organic Farm

The well-travelled BHK dhaba

A few pics from last weekends Dinner at the Farm. The first of many we hope, we had a blast!!

Tyddyn Teg farm is a beautiful location and we cooked exclusively using their stunning organic produce.  What a treat!  A variety of summer squashes, a plethora of heritage tomatoes, many shades of kale, peppers, aubergines, really interesting Peruvian mint, sweet foot long cucumbers, plus a lot more…..we even offered homemade wine!  Food miles for the dinner ingredients were around 200 metres!!

Tyddyn Teg Organic Veg Farm

It was a pleasure to cook and work with the TT team, it is such a positive project, focused on maintaining and developing sustainable and ethical food production and ways of living.  An inspiring place to hang out for the day.   They have so many exciting plans for the future.

Jonjo was the master of bhaji’s

The sun came out in the afternoon and the bookings rolled in, benches and tables were made (by the onsite wood genuises) and numbers toppled well over 60.  This took some classic ‘creativity’ and ‘problem solving’ techniques in the kitchen that all cooks know about.  But being on an organic farm, if you need another squash, you just pop out and pick one!

“Simon, any chance of a bin bag full of three varieties of fresh picked kale.” 10 minutes later. “Is this enough!!” The beauty of cooking on a farm:)

Here’s what we made:

 

Dinner at the Farm – Menu

Kabocha & Uchuki Kuri Squash Rogan Josh

Kashmiri Masoor Daal Tadka

Jonjo’s Onion Bhajis

Haak Saag – Kashmiri Greens and Red Cabbage

Roasted Masala Potatoes and Onions

Brown Basmati Pulao with Toasted Cashews

Chopped Salad with Beefsteak Tomatoes, Cucumber and Chaat Masala

Organic Leaves and Flowers

Beetroot, Mint and Lemon Raita

Griddled Chillies and Lemon Pickle

Beautiful sunset at dinner time

Thanks to everyone who came out and supported a brilliant cause, all proceeds going to Bigger Stronger Bridges. aimed at supporting permaculture communities and networks in the Middle East and Kashmir.

Curry for 60. That’s a lot of toasting and grinding spices. The whole street smelled like Kashmir!!

“Help us join hands with like-minded folk across divides of geography and culture to create the world we want to live in!”  Alice, Tydyyn Teg

If you live or run a restaurant/ cafe in North Wales, Tyddyn Teg has a brilliant veg box scheme, a big one or a little one.  You just pop in and pick up the veg weekly.  You can also order wholesale.  Drop them an email – info@tyddynteg.com for more info.  Prices are very, very reasonable. 

Having an organic veg farm close by is a real blessing.  It’s the healthiest and most delicious way we could ever wish to eat!  Fresh, local, seasonal organic fruit and veg.  Yum!

Working together, anything is possible!!

We’ve a load of events coming soon in the UK and Spain, check out the event page here.  I’m also supposed to be writing another cookbook…….

Leeks…..coming soon

If you have a local organic veg farm or hero producer, please let us know below.  Inspiring local producers and growers are at the heart of a healthy food culture and community, it’s always nice to share the good news and positive vibes.

Here’s our next event, on Sunday, in North Wales. Food for the Soul: Yoga & Plant-based Cookery

 

Categories: Events, Healthy Eating, Local food, Organic, photography, plant-based, Sustainability, sustainable, Vegan, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Viva Vegan! Spain: Plant-based Cooking Holiday with Áine Carlin and Lee Watson

 

Viva Vegan! Spain

Thursday 8th – Monday 12th November 2018

 

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

 

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.

 

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Our Viva Vegan! Spain villa awaits

 

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

 


Awesome Autumn Offer**

now on £70 OFF per person!!


 

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Our bright open plan kitchen

“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.

 

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Cooking demonstrations, workshops and masterclasses….

 

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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We have so many treats coming your way

 

‘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.

 

A Taste of Bliss – Yoga & Vegan Cooking Holiday, Spain 2018

Coastal views, just outside our villa

 

Explore and Relax in rural Spain

 

There will be plenty of time within the program to explore the area and chill on the beach, only a few metres from the villa, or stroll along the promenade.

 

For the more adventurous, there are mountain trails and bikes, scuba diving or kayaks and paddle boards to rent.

 

The villa has several terraces, a garden, hammocks and spacious living area and lounge, perfect places to find a quiet space to meditate or practice yoga, or just curl up with a good book.

 

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Áine Carlin – Vegan cook, blogger and author of Cook Share Eat Vegan, Keep it Vegan & The New Vegan

 

The local village has all the amenities you’ll need and the pretty, historic city of Cartagena is only 40 minutes drive away, with excellent shopping, bars and museums.

 

Additional massages, private yoga classes, golf, bicycles, kayaks and snorkelling/ scuba trips can also be arranged locally with our support.

 

“I am just embracing a vegetarian lifestyle and was amazed by the gorgeous food Lee of ‘Beach House Kitchen’ demonstrated and created lovingly for us 3 x daily … plus snacks! Lee is a lovely upbeat guy and such a creative and enthusiastic chef.”  Barb

 

Lee Watson – Vegan Entrepreneur, TV chef, Author ‘Peace and Parsnips’

 

Included on the weekend:

 

– Four nights accommodation in our comfortable beach side eco villa

with log burner, dvd library and wifi

 

– Delicious, nourishing meals cooked by Áine and Lee …

mostly gluten and processed sugar free

 

– A variety of inspiring cooking demonstrations and workshops with Áine and Lee

 

– Sunset mocktails on the terrace

 

– Locally selected wines with meals

 

– Relaxing and energising yoga classes on the terrace, for all levels

 

– Guided walks along the coast

 

– Nourishing morning smoothies

 

– Afternoon cakes and sweet treats

 

– Barbecue Night

 

– A bespoke recipe booklet

 

– Movie night with popcorn

 

– Tea, coffee and filtered water

 

– Airport pickups*

 

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

 

Additional Extras:

 

Air fare

 

Car Hire

 

Hire of kayaks, mountain bikes, paddle boards, local walking guides, scuba diving or snorkelling

 

Yoga, private one to one sessions or classes (all levels and many styles available)

 

Massages

 

Coffees or drinks taken in local cafes and bars

 

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Learn how to cook delightful plant-based food with local Mediterranean produce

 

Sample Day Program:

 

9:00 – 10:00 Morning yoga on the terrace

 

10:00-11:00 Nourishing Breakfast and Morning smoothies

 

11:45 – 13:00 Workshop with Aine

 

13:30 Lunch cooked by Lee

 

15:15 – 16:30 Cooking Demonstration with Lee 

 

16:30 Afternoon Cake and Treats

 

Free Time – Rest, swim in the sea, book a massage, yoga, paddle board, chill on the beach, explore local hills, village and coastline, find a hammock with a good book

 

20:00 Mocktails and Dinner cooked by Aine

 

21:30 Movie Night with Popcorn

 

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Recharge and Rejuvenate

 

Viva Vegan! offers you a rare chance to recharge and rejuvenate at a time of year when you need it most.

 

You’ll be pampered with fine vegan food in a unique, delightful location.

 

This is so much more than just a relaxing weekend away,

it is an opportunity to learn new, inspired life skills and enhance the way we eat, cook and live.

 

Áine and Lee look forward to welcoming you to plant-based paradise!

 

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Upstairs in our beach side villa

 

Prices
(per person)

 

£669 double room with en suite bathroom (2 person)

£629 double/ twin room with shared bathroom** (2 person)

£599 triple/ family room with en suite bathroom (3 person)

£529 shared triple room with shared bathroom** (3 person)

 

Awesome Autumn Offer

now on £70 OFF per person*** 

 

 

Reserve your place now for £49 

(Non-refundable deposit)

 

 

All enquiries email – hellobeachhousekitchen@gmail.com

 

Single occupancy rooms may be available on request

 

Facebook event page here for updates 

 

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Can’t wait to see you in Spain!

 

*Airport pickups are from Murcia and are limited depending on flight times and availability.

Nearest airports are Murcia (50 mins drive) and Alicante (1 ½ hours drive).

 

Hiring your own car is an easy and inexpensive way to reach the villa and to explore the local area.

** The villa has ample modern bathrooms and even an outdoor, solar heated shower.  Shared rooms are always same sex.

 

***Awesome Autumn offer ends 8th October ’18

 

Categories: Cooking Holidays, Events, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, plant-based, Travel, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Pea and Wasabi Soup with Seaweed Gomasio

Pea and Wasabi Soup with Seaweed Gomasio (vegan, gluten-free)

This is an ideal soup anytime of year, but works so well in the summer because it can also be eaten hot or cold.  The best of both bowls!  It sits in the fridge and is an ideal, standby meal.  The potatoes add some substance and the wasabi, a delicious, mustard-y kick.  In Snowdonia, we need a flexible soup this time of year.  One day scorching, the next chucking it down and nippy.

But really, British summertime has taken off this year, even in North Wales!  We’ve had a summertime!!  All that sunshine has come with a few challenges for growers, but the produce we’ve been getting is delicious.  It’s not often we get to try British fruit and veg that’s been bathed in a load of sunshine.  Is it just me, or are the strawberries the best for a long while this year?

Peas are one of my favourite things about summer, so here’s a simple soup recipe, using local peas given a global twist.  I think that’s one of my favourite things about cooking, taking the best local produce to Tokyo or Tehran for a ride.

Which is pretty much what happens in this recipe, some traditional Japanese flavours light up organic veggies from Snowdonia.

Fan of chilled soups?

If you haven’t tried a cold soup in the summer, give it a whirl.  The Watermelon Gazpacho recipe I shared earlier in the summer was really popular, I just think this type of soup is the idea summer meal.  It’s delicious, light and when served chilled, a cooling lunch on a steamy day.  This smooth and satisfying recipe reminds me a little of a Vichyssoise, a traditional French chilled soup, I think its the creamy texture, given by the potatoes.

Wasabi and seaweed may be new ingredients to you, but most supermarkets stock them nowadays.  Wasabi is similar to mustard or horseradish, you can use it as you would mustard.  I love it mixed into mayonnaise, or in dressings, even thinly spread in a sandwich with pan fried tofu or tempeh, lettuce and other vegetables.

What’s Gomasio?!  A tastier, healthier alternative to salt

Gomasio (or Gomashio) is a lot like a Japanese version of the Hazelnut Dukkha that I posted recently.  It is a Japanese condiment, basically toasted sesame seeds, with a little salt, ground or blended.  It’s something that adds so much flavour to whatever you sprinkle/ stir it on/ into.  Have you tried toasted sesame seeds at home?  Trust me, they’re intense little things!

Gomasio can add real bite and a lovely toasty flavour to your favourite salads or pan fried greens and also goes well with a host of Japanese dishes (as you’d imagine!)  Gomasio is something that can replace salt and with the sesame seeds, adds a lot of nutritional goodness to our meals.

The ratio of salt can vary depending on the diet, macrobiotic diets follow a roughly 18/1 ratio, average gomasio is more like 5/1 (5 parts sesame to 1 part salt).   You’ll find your perfect balance I’m sure.

Gomasio keeps well in a sealed container.   I pop mine in the fridge, it lasts much longer that way.  This goes for all seeds and nuts, once they’re chopped or blended, all those lovely fragrances and oils are released and to take care of them, pop them in the fridge.  Gomasio is one of those recipes that is so much more than it’s ingredient list, only two, it’s a keeper!  Pop it on the table, use as a replacement for salt or pepper.  Makes a very nice change I find.

Lots of peas with a nice tickle of wasabi plus the flavourful seaweed gomasio.

Keep up to date with new recipes and news from the BHK……

I hope you get to try out this recipe.  If you like this and would like to hear more from us, we’re working on our new newsletter at the minute, which will be out soon.  Sign up here, it takes a few clicks, and we’ll send you all the up to date info from the BHK with recipes, pictures and special offers for upcoming events.  I’ve decided to focus on writing a new cookbook, I’ll share something about that, and I’ve some exciting things to share soon regarding new events and festival appearances.

If you’re in the UK, I hope you’re having an awesome summer, diving into lakes, forests, ice creams and BBQ’s, and are also enjoying these long sunny nights properly.  If you’re somewhere else in the world, how has your summer been?

 

Recipe Notes

You can add tamari/ soya sauce instead of salt, but it can affect the colour.  I prefer this soup very green looking.

Just like horseradish or mustard, if you put too much wasabi in your soup, you’ll get that overpowering experience that leads to ‘mustard face’.  That’s what we call it anyway.  That fiery, burning sensation in your nostrils and roof of the mouth, leading to a look of sheer panic and confusion.  Some people like this kind of thing, but to avoid it, just add your wasabi a little at a time.  You can even leave it out until the end and add it bowl by bowl depending on how much ‘mustard face’ you enjoy.

You can buy seaweed flakes, or make them your self.  Place a nori seaweed sheet (the type used for sushi) into a blender and blitz until a powder forms.  This seaweed can then be mixed into your gomasio, to taste.

I use new potatoes, so there was no need to peel them.  The skins are so thin.  If you’re using other types of potato with thicker skins, I’d peel them first.

I chose to keep my seaweed and gomasio seperate for this photo, the sole reason being that it looked better!

Pea and Wasabi Soup with Seaweed Gomasio (gluten-free, vegan)

 

The Bits – For 4-6 Bowls

425g garden peas or petit pois (fresh or frozen is fine)

200g or x6-7 new potatoes (scrubbed and chopped)

175g or roughly 1/4 white cabbage (sliced)

3 heaped tbs chopped fresh ginger

1 medium onion (peeled and sliced)

1.25 litre hot vegetable stock

1-3 tbs wasabi

1 tbs cooking oil

Sea salt

 

Black sesame (optional, nice if you aren’t using gomasio)

 

Gomasio

3 heaped tbs unhulled toasted sesame seeds

1/3-1/2 teas sea salt

Sea weed flakes/ powder

 

Do It 

Boil a kettle and make a light vegetable stock.  In a large sauce pan on medium high heat, add your cooking oil, once warm, add the onions and ginger.  Fry them for 5 minutes, until soft.  Add the cabbage and fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the vegetable stock and potatoes.   Bring to a gentle boil, put a lid on and cook until the potatoes are ready, around 10-15 minutes is normally fine.

Now add you peas and cook for 2 minutes. Leave the soup to cool slightly, then blend with a stick blender or leave to cool more and blend all in a blender/ food processor.

In a small bowl, add your desired amount of wasabi (remember you can add more later), add a few spoonfuls of soup and mix into a paste.  Add this wasabi paste to the soup.  Taste, check for seasoning, adding salt/ tamari or more wasabi, depending on how your taste buds feel.

Serve hot or cold, sprinkled with gomasio, seaweed and black sesame seeds.

To chill the soup.  Let it cool fully, place in a container and simply pop in the fridge.

For Gomasio – In a frying pan on medium heat, add the sesame seeds and toast them up to 10 minutes.   Tossing them or stirring them until they turn a darker shade of brown.  If you’re not sure how toasted you like them, take a few in a spoon, blow on them and taste.  Just be sure to keep moving them in the pan, they can burn quite easily.  Once you’re happy with them, pour into a bowl and leave to cool for a while.

Then add to a pestle and mortar and grind, or use a blender to blitz them up into a rough crumb.  Mix in salt and seaweed to taste.  Place in a sealable container and pop into the fridge.  It will keep well and can be used instead of table salt.

This summer has been incredible in North Wales. So much sunshine, the mountains are looking sensational!!

Foodie Fact

As a condiment that can replace salt, gomasio is full of nutritional benefits.  Very high in calcium for a start.  A good source of minerals like copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc.  I you are eating a vegan/ plant-based diet, sesame seeds are an excellent ingredient to incorporate into you diet.  Have you tried tahini drizzled over your breakfast cereal, or on toast?

The word ‘Gomashio’ in Japanese can also mean a person who has some white hairs mixed in with black hairs.  What we call the ‘salt and pepper’ look.  I’m getting there!

Here are some other dishes we’ve made recently high in sesame seeds:

Halva Choc Ices with Fig, Almond, Rose and Tahini  

Aubergine Fava Bean Fatteh with Tahini Yoghurt – Lebanese Party Food!

Beach House Dressing – One of our fav’s

Strawberry and Tahini Summer Tarlets

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

Egyptian Summer Mezze – Tomato & Cumin Chickpeas

Egyptian Lunch on the terrace with Hulba (Fenugreek Dip), Roasted Cauliflower Wedges and Spicy Aubergines

Have you tried Egyptian food?  This is the ideal recipe to start.  Many people ask for quick and easy recipes that are tasty, nutritious and something that can be rustled up without fuss.  Here we are!

This an ideal summer dish, light and good to go for a picnic twist, it can be eaten hot or cold.  It seems with all the sunshine we’ve been getting in the UK, the tomatoes are here!  Great news indeed.  Using nice ripe tomatoes in this dish with make all the difference.

These chickpeas are perfect with the Hazlenut Dukkha recipe that I just posted, a nice fresh salad, chargrilled/ roasted vegetables and some flatbread.  Summer lunchtime sorted!

I also roasted some cauliflower in the oven, really simply with some oil and spices, you can use the Dukkha, or something like Bharat.  Or even Garam Masala will be fine.  Just add a little spice.  Roasted cauliflower is a staple in the BHK in the summertime, great on the BBQ too.

I added a couple more Egyptian Mezze’s, with a classic Warm Aubergine Salad and a Fenugreek ‘Hulba’ Dip, which does have a very strong flavour, the fenugreek is full power.  The consensus from those present was leave the recipe for now.  I like it, it’s a bit like mustard, a little goes a long way.  Next time, I may reduce the fenugreek a little, it can be powerful stuff!

Other Egyptian Mezze ideas would be fava bean falafels, hummus, baba ganoush (ghanouj), fuul medames, tabouleh.  I love these rich, hearty, flavourful dishes.  All traditional.  All vegan!

Travelling Egypt

I love Egypt and the delicious buzz of eating out in Cairo, sipping some tea, taking a wander around Old Town, the little windy, ancient lanes and souks, more tea, then a nibble (repeat).  I may have been lost most of the time, but I never went hungry!

My last visit to Egypt was a good few years ago, but it left a big impression.  So much history (a massive understatement really) and people could not have been friendlier.  I just wandered around each day and invariably got myself invited to cafes or restaurants or weddings for sweet tea and meals and many happy memories.  I experienced incredible hospitality where ever I went.

One of my favourite foodie times was when I was walking up the coast from Dhaba, I met a bedouin family who invited me to stay with them and have some dinner, over near the border with Jordan.  They were camped on an isolated beach facing the Red Sea and twinkling lights of Saudi Arabia.  They made veggie food especially for me, cooked out under the stars and eaten on a huge colourful rug.  These spiced chickpeas are similar to one of the dishes we had.  This is my version.  I love recreating global dishes back in Wales.  When I travel, I write all my favourite food moments and ideas down in notebooks.  The one I brought back from Egypt is packed full with many happy memories of tasty times.

Egyptian Food

For those who haven’t tried traditional Egyptian food, I’d say it has many similarities with much of the food in the Eastern Mediterranean, lots of delicious rice, bean and vegetable dishes, maybe the best hummus I’ve ever tried (at least well up there with Lebanese Hummus).  In Egypt, you never seem far from an awesome flat bread or bowl of ful medames or Kushari, a dish I had never tried before and found it loads of fun.  Rice, lentils, pasta, tomato sauce, garlic vinegar, fried onions, a good hit of cumin, it’s seems all over the place, but really works.  Especially after a long day getting lost in old town Cairo, I needed plenty of feeding up!

Cumin is one of my favourite spices, ubiquitous in so many cuisines around the world, from Mexico to the Mediterranean and India.  Cumin is warming and highly aromatic, that’s why toasting and grinding your own spices at home is such a joy.  Cumin has a sweet smell but can be bitter to taste, so it does need cooking through.  I normally add ground cumin to dishes at earlier stages of cooking.  It acts as a great base for other spices I find, but in this dish, it takes centre stage.  We normally get white cumin seeds in the UK, but in India especially, the smaller black cumin seeds are popular, along with Amber cumin seeds.

Recipe Notes

The best way to go, cumin-wise, is to toast and grind your own.  If you have a pestle and mortar handy, or a blender/ food processor, we’re good.  Toast 2 tbs cumin seeds in a preferably heavy-bottomed pan, for a minute, until the colour slightly changes to a darker shade of brown and you can smell the lovely toasty cumin aromas.   I know in some Indian dishes, cooks prefer to really toast the cumin until they’re almost black.  But generally, the oils (plentiful in cumin) which contain the lovely aromatic qualities are quite sensitive to heat, I prefer, in this dish especially, just a light toasting in the pan.

You can use tinned chickpeas, but soaking and cooking dried chickpeas is more economical and you get the benefit of a nice stock to use afterwards in soups, curries or stews.  This stock can also be used as aquafaba, genius bean broth, which can be used to make all kinds of things; vegan mayonnaise, macaroons. meringues or to replace eggs when baking cakes.

The Egyptian olive oil I’ve tried has been excellent.  Drizzling it over and stirring it in at the end can add richness and great flavour to these chickpeas.

You may like to blanch your tomatoes and removed the skins, but my tomatoes were so sweet and thin skinned , I didn’t bother here.

Egyptian Chickpeas with Tomato and Cumin – Sinai-style 

I hope you enjoy this recipe, do let me know if you try it out.  People have asked me recently what I get paid for doing the BHK blog.  Hahahahahaaaaaa!  I love food and cooking.  That’s it!  There’s no better reason to do this, sharing the recipes that we enjoy at home.

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Egyptian Mezze – Chickpeas with Tomato and Cumin 

The Bits – For 4-6 

500g cooked chickpeas (roughly 2 tins, drained and rinsed)

1 large onion (finely diced)

2 large cloves garlic (finely sliced)

1 tbs cumin seeds

2 teas ground cumin

100ml hot water

4 medium ripe tomatoes (chopped into small pieces)

1 tbs cooking oil – I use cold pressed rapeseed oil

Sea salt

 

1 handful fresh coriander (finely chopped)

4 lemon wedges

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (1-2 tbs)

 

Do It

In a large frying pan, warm on a medium high heat.  Then add 1 tbs cooking oil and the cumin seeds.  Let the sizzle for 30 seconds before adding the chopped onion and garlic, with 1 teas sea salt.  Fry for 6 minutes, until the onions are slightly caramelised, then add the ground cumin, hot water and tomatoes.  Pop a lid on and lower the heat a little, cook until tomatoes are soft, around 5 minutes.

Now add the chickpeas, pop the lid back on and warm through, cooking for a couple of minutes.

Stir in coriander and olive oil, check seasoning.

Serve with warm flatbreads, lemon wedges and hazelnut dukkha.

 

Foodie Fact – Cumin

Cumin seeds come from a plant in the same family as fennel and parsley, it’s been around for a while, mentioned in the bible on a number of occasions and the ancient Greeks loved it.  They kept it on the table as an everyday spice, like we use black pepper nowadays.  It was also a staple in Roman kitchens, but became less used in Europe in the Middle ages.

Cumin is rich in copper and iron, zinc, calcium and potassium.  One teaspoon of cumin contains around 1/4-1/3 of our daily iron needs.  Pretty good!

Cumin has also long been regarded as anti-inflammatory, has anti-oxidant properties, is anti-bacterial, helps with digestion (in India it’s used frequently in daals for example, to minimise windiness).  Cumin may also help with diabetes and boosts the immune system.  Cumin is not alone in this respect, most spices have beneficial health properties and its an awesome idea to add spices to dishes and your diet in general.

Cumin seeds can be kept in a sealed container in a cool and dark place, they will keep for around a year.  Ground cumin, well, freshly ground is best, but it will last for a few months, but loses it’s flavour gradually.

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Lunch, Nutrition, plant-based, Recipes, Side Dish, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Hazelnut Dukkha – Versatile, Nutty Spice Mix

 

Hazelnut Dukkha – Egyptian Condiment

Only a small thing, a condiment, but it really packs in some intense, earthy flavours and livens up almost anything.

I’ve finally got round to posting (and finding) some of the Egyptian recipes I cooked in the Spanish sunshine.  Having been on the road for a while, recipes can wander off for a while.  They normally come back in one piece though.

Spain was so hot, we wanted things simple, quick and of course, super tasty.

Dukkha is ideal in this respect, perfect sprinkled on your favourite salad, mixed into youghurt to make a delicious dip, or even just served with warm flatbreads and olive oil.  I also use dukkha on top of roasted or barbecued vegetables and even Middle Eastern stews.

Dukkha is basically a condiment that livens up most things, bringing lovely, deep, toasted flavours, nuttiness and spices.  Dukkha keeps well in a sealed container and is a versatile flavour boost to have around the kitchen.  You can also play around with the recipe, this is classic old school style, by adding your favourite spices to it.

There are many ways of making dukkha, but I’ve gone for the easiest here.  We simply roast all the ingredients in an oven and bash them together in a pestle and mortar.  It’s a highly fragrant task.  Prepare for your kitchen to be filled with the aromas of toasty nuts n’ spices.  It’s delicious.

Go Spicy

I’ve been roasting many of my spice mixes at the minute and feel that if you have the time, this is the way to go.  Fresh roasted spices, ground in a pestle and mortar, or even a blender, are so much better than shop bought.  You can’t even compare really.  If you love spices and spicy foods, making your own makes sense.  I’ll post my Garam Masala recipe soon.

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels

Egypt travel 

But this is Egypt.  A country I love, whose food blew me away.  I really wasn’t expecting it at all, I had no preconceived this and that, I just landed and ate.  The hummus is well up there with the best in the world, of course we all know about the falalfels, here’s my version – Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels.

You won’t be too surprised that I traveled all over Egypt and even did some touristy things like try to climb one of the great pyramids, I had no idea this was illegal until a man with a big gun chased me a fair way up the pyramid of Cheops (the big one).  It was very early in the morning, I was half asleep (missed the sign) and obviously most of the guards were.  To be fair, it was a long climb anyway.

I chilled on Mount Sinai with a load of very happy Christians, clapping with hymns at dawn, staying in monastery.  I dove in the Red Sea, a technicolour world bursting with marine life, at night, sat around fires, we looked right into Saudi Arabia, just across the sea.  I’m not a big city person, but one of the highlights was Cairo, the old town especially, the call to prayer each morning at 5am was a wake up call in more ways than one.  Egypt was the first Muslim country I had traveled around and everything all seemed very exotic and fresh, charged with new flavours, sights and sounds.

I’d love to go back, I didn’t quite make it down to Luxor.  Food wise, no problem, I was a vegetarian/ vegan hybrid at the time and always found lots of options, as you do in other Middle Eastern countries.  I specifically remember one bowl of perfect hummus, in a restaurant on a busy road, it was packed with families and the mezze style dishes just piled up on my table and I was in some form of food-induced bliss.  I’d been walking lots around Cairo (aka getting lost), it’s an ideal walking city with loads of windy lanes and interesting architecture.  I needed to keep my energy up you see!  Bring on the falafels…..

Egyptian style Aubergines, simply pan fried with onion, a little spice and lemon juice.

Buddhist tangent – Dukkha is also the word for “suffering” or more accurately ‘unsatisfactoriness” in Pali, the ancient language of many early Buddhist texts.  It’s what we feel about life much of the time said Buddha.  When I first came across the Egyptian condiment, I couldn’t separate the two really.  Spicy suffering crumbs, toasty torment, I’ve been through them all.  The opposite of Dukkha is Sukha in Pali, meaning something like “happiness”.  I was thinking about coming up with a recipe for Sukha, the topping to sprinkle all over your Nirvana, but I’ve never could see past Dukkha.  Here in lies my inherent problem.  I just can’t get enough of that Dukkha!!

I hope you get to try this recipe out, please let us know in the comments below.  Have you been to Egypt how did you find the food?  Are you a fellow vegan traveler, seeking out the tastiest plates in the coolest places?

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Hazelnut Dukkha

The Bits – Makes one small bowlful

50g sesame seeds
25g hazelnuts (very roughly chopped)
10g cumin seeds
8g coriander seeds
1g dried thyme
3/4 teas sea salt

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 180oC.

Toss everything on a baking tray and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes, checking after 8 minutes.  Mix the dukkha up a little to ensure that everything is getting an equal amount of heat.

Once the sesame seeds and hazelnut have gone a darker shade, place the dukkha into a pestle and mortar.  You can do this in batches unless you have a giant pestle and mortar.  Grind it all down, I like a few who spices left in there for extra flavour explosions.

 

Foodie Fact

Nuts are just packed with nutrition.  Hazelnuts are good for the heart, containing good fats and plenty of fibre, magnesium, protein and Vitamin E.  You can read our previous Foodie Fact  about our tips for soaking nuts to maximise and transform the nutritional properties of nuts here.  It’s a little tip that can have a big effect on a healthier diet.

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Side Dish, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Vibrant Vegan! Cornwall – Photo scrapbook of our recent weekend of healthy plant-based cooking and yoga

Here are some of our favourite pictures from last weekends Vibrant Vegan Cornwall getaway, just beside Lands End.

We were blessed with sunny weather and clear skies and joined by a wonderful group of people.  We shared many memorable times, lots of empowering yoga with Complete Unity Yoga in the Yoga Hall, so much plant-based food, delicious and healthy, with global twists and plenty of treats.  Boswedden House was a beautiful location, comfortable with a nice big dining room and kitchen (the most important rooms right!)

Stunning Cape Cornwall! The sun shone all weekend.

The gardens of Boswedden overlook the coastline and the little old tin mines which trail along the cliffs.  They even have a labyrinth in the garden which we enjoyed.  It was the perfect location for our Saturday night fire, where we told stories, sang songs and read poetry.  We even burned a chest of drawers (old and dilapidated;) which added a real spark to the evening!

We welcomed an amazing group of people! (Not sure what I was looking at here!;)

Malene’s yoga was based around the teachings of Patanjali, taking us right back to the roots and heart of yoga.  All took part and felt the benefits.  Yoga is for all!  No matter what level we’re at.

On Sunday night Malene and Will led a transformatory experience in the yoga hall.  Yoga in the mornings is always a highlight, especially when the pool is open beforehand.  The best way to start any day!

A weekend filled with treats!!

I cooked for much of the weekend with a top kitchen crew, Will, Will and Jenna.  An amazing team of passionate cooks who contributed to making the weekends food extra special.  I’ve popped the menu below:

All meals were themed; Spanish, Japanese, Healthy Vegan Junk Food, Mexican and loads more…

Menu

Friday

Tea and coffee on arrival

Fruit bowl

Cake

Blood Orange & Polenta Upside Down Cake with Creme Fraiche (g/f)

Dinner – Mexican Fiesta!

Black Bean & Kale Mole

Smoky Aubergine Bacon Bites

Loaded Nachos with Chipotle & Cashew Queso

Charred Corn & Coriander Rice

Salsa & Guacamole

Mexican Chocolate Custard Pies with Spiced Oranges (g/f)

Saturday

Lunch – Spanish Tapas

Watermelon Gazpacho

Baked Pea & Mint Tortilla

Roasted Patatas Bravas with Salsa Rojo and Aioli

Mixed Green Beans, Basil with Crushed Peas

Orange, Red Onion, Fennel and Black Olive Salad

Local Salad Leaves with Herb and Lemon Dressing

Cake

Tahini & Chocolate Blondies (g/f)

 

Dinner – Middle Eastern BBQ

Tofu & Watermelon Kabobs with Bharat Yoghurt Marinade

Spiced Aubergine and Courgette Kabobs with Tahini and Harissa Sauce

Charred Cauliflower Wedges with Haleznut Dukkha

Mujdharra – Bulghur Wheat and Lentils with Dill and Za’atar

Fattoush Salad Platter

 

Layered Summer Berry & Chocolate Cheesecakes

Sunday

Lunch – Zen Buddha Bowls
Onigirazu – Sushi Sandwiches with Wasabi Mayo
Teriyaki Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Green Dragon Macrobiotic Salad

Pickled Rhubarb, Peanuts and Noodle Salad
Local Salad leaves with Miso and Ginger Dressing

 

Cake

A Selection of Energy Balls and Healthy Truffles

Dinner – Healthy Junk Food

BBQ Pulled Jackfrui

Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese

Charred Corn Wheels and Courgette Coins

Pan fried Local Greens

Rainbow Sauerkraut

Mango and Cashew Fudge with Coconut Chocolate Bark

Walking along the coastal path, Cape Cornwall

Delphiris took over the lounge for the weekend for a variety of massage sessions, along with Jane’s reiki and menstrual cycle workshop, Malene was offering one-to-one yoga consultations and lifestyle coaching.  All these therapies had such a positive effect on the weekend.

It’s rare in life we can just let go, focus solely on taking care of ourselves and re-energising and aligning ourselves with healthy ways of being.  This is what the Vibrant Vegan weekends are all about, it goes way beyond just what we eat, but a wholesome, balanced plant-based diet is a excellent cornerstone for a healthier body and lifestyle.

We’re chuffed that there are at least two new vegans in the world after the weekend!  We all talked a lot about new ideas, impetus and strategies to lead a more balanced life back in the ‘real world’, a life that is based around our own well-being and peace of mind, making us better equipped to deal with the ups and downs in life, allowing us to give life our very best shot!

Rainbow Sushi for the Japanese lunch, along with roasted teriyaki sweet potatoes and wasabi mayo, pickled rhubarb and noodle salad

Did we mention the sunshine!! So many options for wonderful walks and enjoying the beautiful scenery

Energy balls and healthy truffles, ideal fuel for yoga, long walks and swimming

Everyday, there is cake!

And lots of desserts…

Our Vibrant Vegan holidays showcase what a healthy plant-based diet is all about, variety, colours, textures, fresh flavours, decadent treats, amazing nutritional bits and pieces.  It’s a no lose, no sacrifice, all good way of nourishing our body.  It doesn’t have to be challenging either, so many quick recipes when time is the master!

The weekends are all about inspiring us to cook fresh food, during the cooking demonstration we talked about simple techniques to change the way we cook at home, saving time and approaching new ingredients with confidence.  We even had a chat about vegan nutrition and how to thrive on pure plants.

Big thanks to all who made our Vibrant Vegan weekend so special!!

I know that a lot of people made it down to the beach and the surrounding coves, the ocean down in Cornwall seems really grand.  There is the feeling that you’re right at the end of the island, looking out into the big, big blue.  Refreshing!

Our big thanks and love to all attended and made Vibrant Vegan a very special weekend for us all, especially Jane, Thelma, Nigel, Sue, Will, Malene, Will, Jenna and Cat (the cat) plus everyone else behind the scenes who helps to make these holidays and getaways such a peaceful and enriching time.

It was our first time hosting an event in Cornwall and, as you can probably tell, we loved it!  Let us know if you’d be interested in a Vibrant Vegan Cornwall ’19.

PS – Extra thanks and hugs to Will and Sophia for taking these lovely pics.

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Our next BHK events are coming soon, lots of workshops, demos and holidays planned for ’18-’19.

If you’ve attended on our our events, please leave us a review here.  It’s a huge help for us in getting our message out there and rockin’ new recipes and all things healthy and happy food.  

Full details and new recipes all over on our private vegan cooking group Join here.  

Categories: Cooking Retreats, Cooking Workshops, Events, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Plant-based Protein – It’s everywhere!

Tooooo many sources of plant-based protein

Plant-based protein – It really is everywhere!! The question is more, which plant-based foods don’t have protein in them? It’s so abundant. There are NO worries at all on the protein front if you are a vibrant vegan or rockin’ a plant-based diet.

I still get asked the protein question regularly and these graphics are a good reminder.  Thanks to Meow Meix for this one.  Please share if you like.  Let’s get the message out there once and for all.  A balanced plant-based diet is THE way to go!

Switching to a plant-based/ vegan diet is easier now than ever.  There is so much nutritional support out there and of course, plenty of tasty, wholesome recipes to get you started.  I’ve added a few of our favourites below.

We are here to help also, any questions you have, just fire them across or the Vegan Society is always a great source of bang on nutritional information.

Even desserts can be high in protein! This is our Lebanese Choc Ice recipe, made mainly with tahini which is choc-a-bloc filled with protein.

 

All veg and fruit contain small amounts of protein, here are the better sources; broccoli, potatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, sweetcorn, avocado, artichokes and yes, even Brussels Sprouts. Bananas, blackberries, nectarines are fruity sources.

Also high in protein are; tofu, most beans, tempeh, soya milk, oats, wild rice, nut butters, nuts, seeds, seitan, spelt, quinoa, amaranth, nutritional yeast flakes (nooch), chia seeds.

Mexican Chocolate Brownies – Quick, healthy and very chocolaty.  Gluten-free, made with black beans, which are very high in protein.  

So, really, don’t sweat the plant-based protein question! Eating a balanced diet based around fresh fruit, veg, legumes/ beans, whole grains, seeds and nuts and you’re well on the way to a super healthy, whole hearted diet.

Green Pea Hummus – A delicious twist on chickpea hummus.  Full of protein and so simple.

If you’d like to learn how to cook healthy, vibrant, delicious plant-based food, why not pop along to one of our events or holidays in the UK or Europe.  Our up to date event list can be found here with more exciting events and collaborations coming very soon.

Or, you can join our Vegan Cooking group over on facebook where people, cooks and curious spectators share recipes, photos and their passion for cooking with plants!

Categories: healthy, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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