I’m gonna smoothie all the way through Autumn! Winter too! The flavours of chocolate and cherry were made for each other. This one’s got that black forest vibe to it, really simple to make and something a little different in your breakfast bowl.
Start the day with something beautiful, something that inspires your tastebuds, something that gives your body a nice healthy hug.
Today we find ourselves halfway up a mountain (where we live) eclipsed by grey mist, grey skies, with the slate grey ocean raging beneath us. So, I popped out in a window of sun rays to get this shot of breakfast. I don’t have anything against the colour grey, I have a grey sweatshirt, but in the foodie sphere, I can’t think of a decent grey food. Nature did not want us eating grey it seems!
Colours! Vibrancy! That’s where were are on this hillside. BHK bowls packed with things to make you purr. In fact, we had a grey cat named Buster once (some of you will remember that legend). He was the greatest dash of grey in this old world I tell you. I miss him.
Smoothies are one way of fixing yourself up for superb things! There is no way that a smoothie can be anything but awesome. Vegan, gluten and sugar free, loaded up with everything the body needs, we even add coconut yoghurt here for a probiotic, gut-friendly, boost. What is not to LOVE!
If this tickles your fancy, let us know below and let’s talk smoothie and vibrant things, beauty bowls, happy days.
**Smoothie Jedi Tip**
Start slow, then build it up. Start blending your smoothie on low and gradually build it up to full steam ahead. This helps to incorporate all the lumps and chunks and means less scraping and shaking to get it blended properly. A Jedi fact.
We buy frozen cherries from the supermarkets. Buying frozen fruits is a great way of preparing for a smoothie-fest. It also works out cheaper and many of the fruits are frozen ripe, meaning good flavour and a higher nutritional profile.
Go wild with toppings! We sometimes sprinkle other nuts, muesli/ granola, funky green healthy powders (spirulina, wheatgrass etc), dried berries like raspberry and strawberry are a knockout too! Occasionally, I rock a drizzle of nut butter or tahini.
Chopped pistachios, goji berries, extra frozen cherries
In a large smoothie cup or blender (we use a Ninja), add all the ingredients and half fill with plant-milk. Blitz on a low setting first, turning it up to high. Jedi style!
Give it a shake or a scrape down if it’s not blending straight away.
Pour into a bowl, sprinkled with your toppings.
Serving suggestions – Sit somewhere sunny and quiet, take a moment, breathe deep (x5 times), enjoy the peace, grab that spoon…..:)
Cherries are wickedly high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients! Loaded up with vitamin C and fibre, they’re an ideal winter wonder food. They can also be awesome for our heart and even help us get a restful sleep.
Cherries. Yes! More please.
See, grey can be beautiful!! Here’s a view from the top of our hill/ mountain. I love this spot!
A simple, colourful and delicious brunch that is ready in double quick time.
I wanted something fresh, tasty and healthy this morning. It’s Sunday, a treat brunch is on the menu! I love baked beans, but fancied something healthier with a spicy and smoky twist, also pan fried vegetables with some of my favourite flavours of the Middle East.
When this brunch is served with hummus/ tahini sauce and toasted pitta bread, it hit’s the spot; weekend, weekday, in fact any time of day. Add bulghur wheat or cous cous to make it a hearty lunch or dinner.
Middle-Eastern Mushrooms, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Smoky Chickpeas – Vegan
I love the combination of delicious, fresh vegetables, warm breads, olives, herbs and something tahini-ish. Its a tried and tested format for a tasty vegan meal. Light and full of flavour and nutrition.
With that in mind, this is my version of things today, with what we’ve got locally (and in the cupboards/ veg basket). That’s how my favourite recipes arise, out of necessity and a chunk of inspiration. Bringing the best out of what you’ve got. I only ever plan meals if I really have too.
In the pan
It’s that time of year when we’re all feeling the pinch as far as seasonal veggies are concerned. I can’t wait for Spring, the wild garlic, dandelions, elderflowers, nettles etc all on the way soon.
Trigonos has been stunning this past month, this is where we have coffee/ lunch. Not a bad view! The beautiful Nantlle Valley.
At Trigonos, preparation is in full swing for the coming growing season. The seeds are being sown and the soil prepared. With all this uncertainty about our food, something to do with that Brexit thing that’s going on, it’s a great time to invest in and celebrate local farmers/ growers. Having organic local produce available is a real blessing for any cook, but I think anyone can feel the benefits of eating with the seasons and celebrating what’s available in our area.
I’ve traveled all over the UK and there are so many passionate foodies, we’re looking forward to meeting more at this year’s food festivals.
Hope to catch you there and get loads of new foodie inspiration. Seems like every year, there is greater diversity at these festivals and plant-based options.
On the plate – quick and delicious weekend treat
Let us know in the comments below if you like the look of this dish, or get to try it out. We hope you are all well and feeling inspired to cook some fresh and colourful plant-based dishes. We’re always here to support you if you have any questions.
Happy cooking from the BHK!:)
Make sure you cook the vegetables on a high heat for a short time, something like a stir fry. The tomatoes and broccoli will get slightly charred, bringing out the flavours. Quick and hot will mean the vegetables cook, but don’t get too soft, we seal in the flavours and retain their vitality.
Use any olives you like, but I love the flavour and texture of Kalamata olives. Make sure they’re de-stoned to avoid any unwanted brunch-based crunches.
This makes a great lunch or dinner, serve with cous cous or bulghur wheat to bulk it out and make the meal more substantial.
Middle-Eastern Mushrooms, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Smoky Chickpeas
The Bits – For 2 as a brunch
2 large flat mushrooms, portobello or field (chopped in half)
100g/ 2 handfuls purple sprouting broccoli
85g/ 3 handfuls cherry tomatoes
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 heaped teas cumin seeds
16 kalamata olives (de-stoned)
2 tbs olive brine or water
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tin chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
2 tbs tomato puree
1 tbs white wine vinegar
1 tbs maple syrup or other sweetener
2 teas smoked paprika
1 teas za’atar or dried thyme
½-1 teas chilli powder
4 tbs water
1/2 teas salt (to taste)
Olive oil (for cooking)
Hummus or tahini/ tarator sauce
Toasted Pitta Bread
For the Smoky Chickpeas – Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan. Warm on a medium heat, cooking for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Taste and season with salt.
For the Mushrooms – Trim off the woody ends of your broccoli. In a large frying pan, add 1-2 tbs olive oil, warm on high heat. Add the cumin and fresh thyme, then the mushrooms. Fry for 3 minutes, turning the mushrooms once.
Add the broccoli, tomatoes and olive brine/ water. Stir and toss the vegetables and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the olives to the pan and warm for 2 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper.
Serve straight away with hummus and toasted pitta bread.
In the Trigonos poly tunnels, not much to see yet, but give it a couple of months…..
Chickpeas, aka gigglebeans, aka garbanzos, aka the Egyptian pea, are probably the best named legume. What do you reckon?
It’s a very good idea to eat lots of chickpeas, or at least, enjoy them regularly. Full of protein and fibre, some calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron….. Plus they just taste fine, I’ve been making cakes with them!! There is no end how awesome and versatile the humble chickpea can be.
Banana, Oat and Peanut Butter Pancake Stack – Gluten-free, Vegan
Light, fluffy and thick, just like the ones you get in a real diner. U.S. style pancakes, made in Wales, with caramelised bananas, a peanut butter sauce, a touch of cinnamon and loads of maple syrup. The batter is made in a blender, so these are super quick and fuss-free.
I’ve made these gluten-free, I cook for a lot of gluten-free people at the moment and I love making up recipes that everyone will enjoy. Gluten-free, vegan, or whatever, you’ll enjoy these pancakes purely because they’re delicious!
I like a good stack of pancakes, layering the flavours and textures and they look great of course. Piled high on a plate. Pancakes are a weekend thing in the BHK, do you feel the same? They always seem like a fun treat breakfast, especially on a chilly Saturday morning. An ideal, hearty breakfast for autumn and winter.
Top it off!
I think the most important thing about a pancake is what’s on top. The filling combos have got to be right and we all know how good peanut butter and banana can be. You could also go for fresh berries and whipped coconut cream or toasted pecans, oranges and chocolate sauce (see our 2-Minute Chocolate Sauce recipe here) or mango, pomegranate and vegan creme fraiche/ thick yoghurt (with a little mint on top). These are a few of our favourite pancake toppings. What’s yours?
I’ve already tried out various banana pancake recipes on the blog, I think it’s easy to see what’s my fav.
The last time I was in a diner was a good few years ago, in sunny Florida, heading to somewhere Disney-fied or other. I must have been around 11 years old. As a young British guy, America seemed so exciting. I basically just wanted to eat fast food and watch satellite TV, go on rollercoasters, and skateboard. Things were simple back then!
I remember loving the atmosphere in a diner, it was a real buzz. I was soon to be confronted with a stack of pancakes, enough to feed a family of five or more. All dripping with maple syrup, it was a big wake up call! What had I been missing out on!! It was like a doorway into a new world of breakfast. We had them most weekends after that when we returned to Glasgow, a proper treat.
Until our American holiday, I always thought pancakes were something we ate once a year with sugar and lemon juice and they always looked really difficult to make. The flipping seemed impossible, with pancakes landing in various places around the kitchen. Rarely back in the pan. It’s true, they take a bit of practice, a few flips to warm up, but once you’re away, pancakes are such an easy and delicious breakfast option.
Are oats gluten-free?
Most oats are produced in non-gluten-free environments. Gluten-free oats can be found in most supermarkets. Many gluten-free people I know eat oats, they are so nutritious, packed with fibre and offer a nice variety in a gluten-free diet.
Give these pancakes a go, and let us know in the comments below. They’re a treat, but filled with good nutrition too. Best of both worlds!
Serve them straight from the pan, hot is best, although they’re still tasty when cooled. The best way to keep them warm is to wrap them in a clean kitchen towel/ cloth on a plate.
If you like a cinnamon-y pancake, go for more cinnamon here, 1/2 teas to start.
Don’t worry about your first attempt with a pancake, they’re always weird. You’ll get into your groove after a couple.
Try to keep the pan at a constant temperature, not too hot. If the pan get’s too hot, simply set it aside to cool a little.
Normal oats and white flour will work well here if you are not gluten-free.
The more oil you add to the pan, the crispier the pancake. I’ll leave that one with you…..
Banana and Peanut Butter Pancakes – simple breakfast treat
Banana, Oat and Peanut Butter Pancakes – American Diner Style
Gluten-free and Vegan
The Bits – For 8 medium pancake
100g gram/ chickpea flour
100g white flour mix (gluten-free)
50g oats (gluten-free)
1 teas bicarb of soda (g.f.)
Large pinch of salt
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs oil
1/3 teas cinnamon
Cooking oil (I use cold pressed rapeseed oil or coconut oil)
Banana, 1 per person (cut in half lengthways)
4 tbs peanut butter
Lime Wedges (Jane likes this)
Place all the pancake ingredients into a blender or food processor and blitz until well combined.
Mix your peanut butter with a few tablespoons of water and stir until it thins out, it may take around 5 tbs water and quite a bit of stirring, but it will form a nice creamy sauce. Add a little maple syrup if you prefer it sweet.
Warm a medium sized frying pan on medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and fry your bananas for 2 minutes, then flip them and cook for another minute. They should be nice and caramelised. Be careful with them, they are fragile and soft when cooked. Set them aside.
Clean out the pan, and put back onto the heat. Get the pan nice and hot, add a drizzle of oil, making sure the base of the pan is covered with a thin film of oil. Pour or ladle in your batter, I like medium sized pancakes, see the photos. But you can vary the size as you like. Lots of small ones is also a nice idea. Fry the pancake for 1-2 minutes, the pancake will bubble, making them really light (you’ll see what I mean).
Flip them using all your ace flipping skills. Cook for one more minute on this side and either serve or keep warm.
Enjoy your pancakes with the caramelised bananas, peanut butter sauce, a drizzle of maple syrup and even a squeeze of fresh lime (Jane likes it with a little lime). I sprinkled with a few oats. Chocolate sauce is also a brilliant addition.
If you’d like a stack of pancakes, just add these toppings, then place another pancake on top and add more toppings.
Bananas are a good source of potassium and also vitamin C, plus fibre. They are high in sugar, but when we eat them, the high fibre content makes bananas a healthy snack. No sugar spikes and all.
They seem to be getting a bad rap recently, but bananas are really good for us, light on the stomach and an ideal, natural snack. There are so many varities of snacks out there, boasting all kinds of things, but it’s difficult to beat bananas and fruit for a nutritious boost.
There’s so much in this dish to get the tastebuds jumping; sesame pancake, oyster mushrooms, asparagus, ginger, crispy onions, deep and dark soya sauce……this is a quick lunch and an amazing way to treat leftover rice and veggies.
We all need a good, simple fried rice recipe under our aprons, in our cutlery draws or tucked away behind our chopping boards. Super quick and tasty, some would say mega!! This rice is something everyone will enjoy, packed with veggies and big flavours.
The sesame pancake is one of the stars here, it really adds something to the dish, giving it a change-up in texture and flavour. It’s also very easy to get together and can be used in many dishes in many ways. They’re great by themselves and are basically just a small cup of gram (chickpea flour). Surely one of my favourite ingredients.
I was raised, for a chunk of my childhood in the Philippines, I just cooked this dish for Mum who says that it’s similar to my favourite Filipino fried rice that I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner as a nipper. I’ve always loved trying new and exciting dishes. Although this is a staple dish, we can take it in so many directions. We eat it as a weekend treat in the Beach House, I like it especially in the mornings. A big chilli hit in the AM beats an espresso any day! Anyone else like fried rice for breakfast?
Use any array of veggies you like here, whatever is seasonal or hanging out in your veg tray/ basket. This is similar to Nasi Goreng which is the ubiquitous vegan go-to dish in Indonesia, a country that Jane and I love deeply (see some our travel stories, street food or visiting tofu village). I think it’s just as good without the fish sauce and Kecap Manis, which is a sweet soya sauce (I’m in Spain, so needed to improvise).
This style of rice dish is awesome with some aromatic paste, South East Asia style, probably the eastiest to get our hands on is Thai pastes, yellow, green or red. A couple of tablespoons will do the trick. But maybe you’d like to make your own, there are some good looking recipes for Basa Gede – Balanese Paste that are exciting me right now. Must try soon, when lemongrass and the like are back on the menu.
This is an awesome leftovers dish, using up rice cooked for something else. If you’re cooking the rice especially for the dish, make sure it’s fully cooled first. I always think fried rice is best when the rice has sat in the fridge overnight. The best way to cool rice at home is to spread it our on a baking tray, it will cook much quicker than being left in the pan. Rice needs to be cooled as quick as possible and then stored in the fridge. Fried rice should be eaten straight away and not re-heated.
This dish is so simple and versatile, hope you get to give it a go!
Any long grain rice will do here, whatever you like best.
Add more chillies, I dare you! I love this dish fiery!!
If you’re cooking your own rice, roughly 140g of uncooked rice will make 400-ish g of cooked.
After cooking, cool your rice quickly by spreading it out thinly on a large plate/platter. Once cooked, place in a fridge.
Add whatever veggies you fancy to this, in fact normally, we add two or three more types to this dish.
To make this Mega Rice gluten-free, you can buy gluten-free soya sauce or tamari.
Fried Rice 101 – get all your ingredients and chopping done before you start cooking, makes things a cool breeze as opposed to a potential heated stress-fest!
Super Tasty Mega Rice – Vegan Fried Rice
The Bits – For 4-6
1 small onion (finely sliced)
2 large garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
2 tbs ginger (finely chopped)
1 small carrot (finely sliced into matchsticks)
100g oyster, or other, mushrooms (sliced)
1 green/ red pepper (deseeded and sliced)
2-4+ dried chillies or 1-2-3 teas chilli flakes (finely sliced)
6 asparagus spears (finely sliced at an angle)
400g cooked rice (from the fridge)
250g chickpeas (drained)
3 tbs good quality passata
1 1/2 tbsp tamari/ gluten-free soya sauce
2-3 tbs cooking oil (I use good rapeseed oil)
50g gram flour
½ clove garlic
Couple large pinches turmeric
Couple large pinches salt
1 1/2 tbs sesame seeds
1/2 cucumber (seeds removed and sliced)
1 large tomatoes (sliced)
Crispy onions (gluten-free)
Your favourite chilli sauce
Add the ingredients for the pancake, except the sesame seeds, into a bowl, gradually add the water, stirring as you go to make a smooth batter.
Grab a large, non-stick, frying pan/ wok, add 1/2 tbs oil, place on a medium high heat. When the oil is warm, pour the batter mix into the centre of the pan, swirling the pan to make a thin pancake. Cook for 1-2 minutes, halfway through that time, sprinkle over the sesame seeds to give the pancake a good covering. Now flip the pancake using a spatula. Cook for another minute, then set aside. Give the pan a quick clean out.
Return the pan to the heat, add 1 tbs cooking oil, when hot, add the onions, ginger, garlic and carrots. Toss and fry for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms, dried chillies and peppers, cook for another 2 minutes, now add the passata, soya sauce, chickpeas, rice and asparagus. Stir gently and warm through fully for 3-4 minutes, making sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Get it nice and hot!
Taste the rice, add a touch more soya sauce or salt for seasoning. Chop up the pancake into strips and stir into the rice. Serve straight away with crunchy veggies like tomatoes and cucumber, chilli sauce, crispy onions and a twist of lime is delicious.
Chillies have outrageously high levels of vitamin C, plus decent amounts of vitamin A, K and B-6. Vitamin C wise, they leave the oranges in the shade.
There are many ways of serving these Japanese Pancakes, so many delicious variations, I felt like sharing two of my favs, one very basic, one with a few more bells and whistles. TWO RECIPES. We love you that much!!
This is like Japanese soul food, you can add grated cabbage or carrot or tofu chunks to the pancake and toppings, there are so many; cheese, Okonomiyaki/ Tonkatsu sauce (like BBQ sauce), mayonnaise, pickled ginger, seaweed flakes….. I was having it for breakfast, so I kept it relatively simple this morning.
I’ve made the classic wheat flour recipe gluten-free and kept it really basic so you can get creative and embellish with your favourite sauces and toppings. Then I’ve gone and done a twist and shake on the traditional recipe, BHK style.
FOOD IS PLAY
The thing I like about the basic recipe is there are only a few ingredients and kids love it! Like a pancake but better, cooler, a little exotic and a lot of tasty, kids love scattering, leaves, snow, crumbs, torn up paper and also toppings, playing with their food like champions!!
I love seeing kids enjoying food and not taking it too seriously. But then again, I don’t have kids. I get to give them back at the end of the day/ 5 minute spell. Maybe some parents will disagree when the food starts flying around the room. It just makes me giggle and join in.
HOW YOU LIKE IT!
Okonomiyaki is more than just an awesome name! Its a delicious snack served all over Japan, but is generally associated with the Kansai and Hiroshima regions.
It’s an easy going dish, loves trying on different flavours for size. The name itself means okonomi, “how you like” and yaki meaning “grill”. Basically, get creative and enjoy!
These recipes are a great base for this kind of tasty fun. It’s that kind of dish, there are many restaurants with teppans tables around a grill, whereyou can grill your own Okonomiyaki. I’ve never done it, but it sounds like a great dining experience.
Traditionally, spring onions are used in this recipe, but I love leeks. At this time of year, I’m getting some beautiful organic leeks. If you’re in Britain, and not a super traditionalist, I’d go for some nice leeks. The first recipe is probably something like the simple Okonomiyaki that was popular in World War II in Japan, when rice was in short supply and this, classically wheat pancake, was nutritious and filling.
Gram/ chickpea flour is of course a genius ingredient and a vegans best friend. It adds a lovely flavour here which some have described as ‘slightly eggy’ (it was me earlier on). We’ll be playing more with this recipe soon, expect more variations.
You can omit the cornflour, but it does help bind the pancake together.
Use any type of gluten-free flour mix. All the ones I’ve tried work well.
These pancakes are like every pancake in the world, best served ideally straight from the pan. Although they are still tasty when served cool, just not straight from the fridge if possible.
If you’re not gluten-free you can just replace the other flours with wheat flour. Unbleached white flour would be good.
No seaweed flakes? No problems. Just grab a couple of sheets of nori and pop in a blender and blitz until they are a broken down into small flakes.
Vegan Okonomiyaki – one of my all-time favourite names for a dish
Vegan Okonominyaki – Japanese Savoury Pancake (G/F)
The Bits – 1 pancake, 8 slices
100g spring onions/ leeks – roughly one medium leek (finely sliced)
Chopped spring onions, toasted sesame seeds, pickled ginger, vegan cheese, mayonnaise, Okonomiyaki sauce (g.f), sea weed flakes, kimchi (is awesome but a curve ball is the traditional thing) or try our Wasabi mayo recipe here.
In a mixing bowl, add the flours and then water, mix together until smooth, add the onions/ leeks, mix in.
In a medium sized frying pan, warm on medium high heat, add the oil, ensure the pan is well covered with oil, pour in the mixture, smooth out into a neat, chunky pancake.
Pop a lid on and cook for 5 minutes, flip over. You can use a plate to make this easier. Pop the pancake on a large plate, flip the pan over and place it on top. Using a kitchen cloth (the pan is hot;) hold the pan over the plate and flip them both over. Hope that makes sense! Or just flip it using your A+ pancake tossing skills.
Pop lid back on and cook for 3 minutes more.
Transfer onto a chopping board, cut into 8 pieces. Brush with the teriyaki sauce, top with chopped spring onions/ leeks and sesame seeds. Or go wild!!
Okonominyaki with Tofu, Toasted Sesame, Seaweed and Pickled Ginger – Japanese Savoury Pancake (G/F)
The Bits – For 1 pancake, 8 slices
10g g.f. cornflour
100g g.f. gram flour (chickpea flour)
100g gluten-free flour mix
125g / 2 small leeks (finely sliced – reserve 1/2 handful of sliced greens)
150g firm tofu (thinly sliced)
3 heaped tbs nooch (nutritional yeast flakes)
2 tbs sesame seeds
3 heaped tbs seaweed flakes
2 pinches salt
1 tbs sesame oil
2-3 tbs g.f. teriyaki/ tamari sauce
3-4 tbs vegan mayonnaise
3 tbs pickled Japanese ginger
1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
1 radish (finely sliced)
1/2 handful spring onion/ leek greens (finely sliced)
In a mixing bowl, add the flours and then water, mix together until smooth, add the onions/ leeks, seaweed, nooch and salt, mix in.
In a medium sized frying pan, warm on medium high heat, add the oil, ensure the pan is well covered with oil, scatter with sesame seeds, then place the tofu on top. Making a layer of tofu on the base of the pan. Pour over the mixture, smooth out into a neat, chunky pancake.
Pop a lid on and cook for 6 minutes, scatter the pancake with sesame seeds and then flip over. You can use a plate to make this easier. Pop the pancake on a large plate, flip the pan over and place it on top. Using a kitchen cloth (the pan is hot;) hold the pan over the plate and flip them both over. Hope that makes sense! Or just flip it using your A+ pancake tossing skills.
Pop the lid back on and cook for 3 minutes more.
Transfer onto a chopping board, cut into 8 pieces. Brush with the g.f. teriyaki sauce, then mayo and scatter on the other toppings until it looks beautiful. Serve now!
If you try one of these recipes out, please let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear how it went!
Gram flour is a genius!! It’s basically ground chickpeas. We cook with it all the time, vegan tortillas/ fritattas, omelettes, nofu (recipe coming soon), g/f chapattis, dosas, farinata and loads of cakes, check out our ‘Spiced Orange and Almond Upside Down Cake‘ from just before Christmas. So healthy, versatile and gluten-free too.
It’s got high levels of protein, iron, fibre, magnesium, potassium and vitamin B-6.
I just felt like a sausage sandwich and these chestnut sausages from ‘Peace & Parsnips‘ are some of my favourite vegan bangers going. Teamed up with the Rye & Stout Loaf that I just posted and some home made ketchup (recipe is in the book;), made creamy with macadamias or cashews, you’ve got yourself a really top breakfast/ brunch.
I haven’t shared a recipe from the cookbook for a while and thought this one is arriving at an ideal time, a great way to start a chilly morning and these sausages freeze well, so you can make a stock for the freezer to last you through winter.
THE BIG QUESTION – WHAT’S ON THE XMAS MENU?!
I’ll be in Murcia, Spain for Christmas, a tough call, but someone’s got to do it! I’m spending time with family over there and no doubt Mum’s already thinking about Xmas lunch (as am I).
I think these sausages will be made over the festive period, there are huge mountains of local castana’s (chestnuts) down at the local food markets and after a quick roast in an oven, and especially when eaten straight from their shells, it’s one of my favourite tastes of Christmas.
I see Christmas as a great time to try out new things and I’m surprised how chestnuts can be neglected at this time of year, for me, they’re as essential as cranberry sauce or mince pies.
Do you already have one eye on your Xmas menu? It’s such a feast, a celebration of good food and drink, but I don’t think it necessarily needs to be really unhealthy. I’m looking at a balance between indulgence and food that makes us shine. Xmas doesn’t need to be an eating marathon that makes us feel sluggish and heavy all the way to February, I think we can get the best of both worlds. I know we can get the best of both worlds!!
Let us know what you have in mind for this Xmas and generally what’s inspiring you in the kitchen, it’s always awesome to hear from you in the comments below.
Here’s the intro from Peace & Parsnips:
“Chestnuts seem to have been a little neglected of late, and you rarely see the lonely chestnut roaster on the festive street corner these days. But chestnuts are so plentiful on our island, and can be used in a variety of dishes, both savoury and sweet. They come to life when paired with the robust and earthy sage, and will live with most herbs in harmony. I like to use them in sausages and burgers because they are quite starchy and help with the binding process, which can be a major failing in many vegan sausage and burger recipes. Most vegan sausages/burgers are best cooked straight from the freezer – they hold their shape better that way. The key with vegan sausages/burgers is to be gentle with them in the pan, and don’t mess with them unnecessarily. They just need a precise flip on occasion and they are perfectly happy. To make things easy, you may like to use pre-cooked chestnuts.”
Chestnut, Millet & Sage Sausages with Homemade Ketchup
The Bits – For 15 small sausages
250g cooked chestnuts
300g firm tofu (mashed with a fork)
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
a handful of toasted sunflower seeds
1 onion (grated)
3 cloves of garlic (peeled and minced)
2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 red chilli (deseeded and finely diced)
a large pinch of ground allspice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
150g very fine wholewheat or gluten-free breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon tamari or teaspoon sea salt
Vegetable oil (for frying)
Homemade raw ketchup (or your favourite sauce)
To cook the millet, put it into a small pan and cover with 2cm of cold water. Bring to the boil, then pop a lid on, lower the temperature and leave to cook for 20 minutes. Fluff up with a fork – the millet should be soft and tender but quite sticky. This is perfectly normal. Allow to cool.
In a food processor, blitz your chestnuts to fine crumbs. Add half the tofu and pulse a few times until quite smooth. In a large bowl, mix the chestnuts and tofu with the rest of the ingredients apart from the vegetable oil. The mixture should be firm enough to form into sausages, slightly tacky to the touch. Check the seasoning and add more tamari or salt if needed.
Using dampened hands, form your sausages, making them look like big chipolatas. Roughly 15 will do, but you may prefer just a few longer ones instead. Place them on a plate and cover lightly with cling film, then pop into the fridge and chill them for 30 minutes. Put 1 tablespoon of oil into a large frying pan on a medium heat and fry your sausages for 5minutes, turning them regularly to get a good colour all over.
Serve with a big blob of homemade raw ketchup and some warm toast. And normally I’ll have a few green leaves for the plate. Sausage sandwich, anyone?
Chestnuts are best kept in the fridge and are the only nut to contain good levels of vitamin C. You’ll also find some of the vitamin B’s along with a decent amount of fibre and minerals, especially copper and manganese. Nut-wise, they are low in fats and are unusually starchy for a nut.
This is a very simple recipe for vegan dulce de leche. I love the coconut flavour here, it adds something to the classic recipe. It’s a treat that keeps well in the fridge and is really versatile. I hear that in Puerto Rico they make DDL with coconut milk, so this might even be a traditional-ish recipe. Who knew!? I think this is very coconuty, so I’ve swapped the name to reflect this.
Up here in the North lands (UK) we need a touch of sweetness. The skies are dark grey and its one long drizzle-fest. Some call it summertime in these parts. Jane and I are creatures of the sunshine, it’s a bit of shock to the system really, but we know how it goes. Moving on from weather, how about something sticky, sweet and gorgeous. This recipe only has a few of ingredients and requires a long, slow simmer which transforms it into something incredible.
I always associate Dulce de Leche with my travels in Central America many years ago, it was a regular source of sweetness and when things were limited menu wise, you always knew dessert was looking good!
I remember going camping in the volcanoes of Guatemala (may sound a bit Joseph Conrad, but there are loads of people doing it). Our guides were lovely guys and we had an incredible time watching the sun rise over a strip of active volcanoes as they blew ash, boulders and toxic gas up into the ether. For dinner, we had beans. Then came dessert. I peered into the pan bubbling over the fire to see a tin being boiled. I was intrigued and a bit uninspired by its potential tastiness. Turns out it was Dulce de Leche. A tin of condensed milk boiled for a while produces old school Dulce de Leche. But this recipe is easily as rich and moreish.
Like any much loved food, Dulce de Leche has quite a few variations and regional this and thats. In many parts of Latin America, its cooked right down, like a crumbly fudge. In Cuba they used curdled milk (which I’d like to veganize soon) and in Mexico they add vanilla to the mix. In Chile they make ‘manajar’ which has cannabis added, sure to liven up your morning toast. Variations are also traditionally made in France, Norway. Poland, Russia……it’s a worldwide craze!
Dulce de Leche is just milk slowly cooked with lots of sugar, the longer you cook it the more it caramelizes and gets more funky and deep in colour, sticky and lovely. It can do anything; on toast, as a filling or topping for cakes, stirred into smoothies, porridge or rice pudding. Really though, I’m a purist, straight out of the jar, onto a spoon.
There are a raft of recipes on line for vegan dulce de leche, I like the idea of using dates cooked with the coconut milk, but the results were not anywhere near as good as this recipe. I’m going to keep looking into that one though.
A thick bottomed sauce pan here is ideal. Otherwise, keep stirring and ensuring your bottom doesn’t burn.
Remember, the longer you cook it. the deeper the colour. I like this lighter version, but cook it longer if you fancy something deep. dark and super rich.
I add much less sugar than your average dulce de leche, I find it easily sweet enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. Add more if you fancy.
If you feel like going a little Mexican, why not try adding 1/2 teas vanilla extract?
The Bits – One medium jarful
1 cans coconut milk
Large pinch sea salt
Place the bits in heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat on medium and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Allow the milk to boil and bubble gently until reduced to roughly 250ml stirring often and the colour has darken to a deeper brown. This takes around 40-50 minutes. Take this as far as you like. The longer you cook, the sweeter and thicker it will become.
Pour into sterilised jars and leave to cool. Pop a lid on and keep in the fridge. Will keep for a week quite happily. If it separates, simply stir it.
Better than hummus!? Or at least equal! Regardless, an awesome, quick and easy summer dish to be eaten alone with warm bread, maybe a salad and then take it the whole way and make it part of a summer feast. Tables filled with lovely dishes one of my favourite sights, especially in the garden with a shining topping of sunshine. Come on sunshine!!
I ate this mainly for breakfast on a recent trip to Beirut. Warm, with crisp tomatoes and pepper, plus fresh, thin pitta bread, it set me up for days traveling around the fascinating country of Lebanon. It’s a simple dish and can be ready in minutes.
Msabaha (some spell it Mussabaha, Msabbacha, Mschabeca, Messabbeha but in Lebanon I saw Msabaha, I hope that makes some sense) is a great twist on hummus, containing most of the same ingredients. This is a really creamy, more-ish way of serving chickpeas, perfect as a picnic mezza.
I was sharing a table with a friendly American one morning and I recommended the Msabaha, he exclaimed “THIS IS THE NEW HUMMUS MAN!!” I’m not sure about that. I don’t think it really matters. It’s just Msabaha. And it’s just amazing.
The Lebanese love, I mean love, their chickpeas. I excitedly ordered a dish in a bar/ restaurants (there are loads of excellent bars and restaurants in Beirut, especially in and around Gemmayzeh.) What showed up was basically a bowl of chickpeas, dusted with cumin and a splash of olive oil. It was delicious, but still, just a bowl of chickpeas straight up.
The main challenge with travelling for me is re-creating the dishes that I loved once I arrive back home. It can be a thankless task, we cannot recreate the chickpeas here, for some reason, they taste so much better in the Med/ Middle East. Also the veg, the cucumbers and tomatoes in Lebanon were a constant sensation. We can’t replicate their fertile soil and sun. But we can try and we can get close.
THE BEST SOUVENIRS ARE RECIPES!
The funny-ish thing about travelling is we go away and sample all of these delicious delicacies and local people are unfazed by the adulation. It’s like a tourist wandering into a Gregg’s and getting worked up about a pasty. These kind of dishes are what everyone eats, they’re the working persons food, cheap, delicious, plentiful and ever present. In Britain, I think things like good chips and mushy peas, or a cheese and pickle sandwich (now back on the menu with vegan cheddar), or maybe even the perfect shepherd-less or apple pie are our equivalent of hummus, falafels, baklava and the like. Simple food that everyone loves! My best souvenirs are always recipes like these and delicious memories.
THE GREAT HUMMUS DEBATE – WHICH IS BEST?
Basically, don’t go there!! In Lebanon, hummus recipes are precise and it can be a point for debate. I’ve encountered this in other countries, many little variation, some say add ice and blend, others say only use a hand masher, some say painstakingly remove the jacket from each individual chickpea.
Most people I spoke to in Beirut said keep it simple. No garlic, no spices. Just lemon, salt and a little olive oil. The hummus we eat in the UK, especially those pale imitations in the supermarkets, are nothing like those in Lebanon and Egypt. Their hummus is super creamy and perfectly balanced, also, the olive oil is normally very fruity.
In Lebanon, the folk I spoke to would never put cumin in hummus and many would not dream of garlic. No, no, no, nooooo! “Garlic!! Are you crazy Britishman!!” Direct quotes from a falafel stand in Beirut.
I think it’s about balance and knowing what your dream tahini tastes like and the texture you want. Some like it a little rough, some smooth. I like mine with a little more tahini. But anyway….back to Msabaha……
Remember this though, tahini alone, mixed with water, a little garlic and salt, makes for an incredible sauce for many, many dishes. Can be called Tarator. I love tahini, we should all be eating it at least twice a day in my humble opinion. More at weekends. Have you ever mixed tahini with jam/ molasses/ something sweet and spread it on warm toast or drizzled it over things like porridge or muesli? You’ve got to try it!! It’s a breakfast based revelation.
I love the simplicity of Msabaha, so easy to get very wrong and incredible when mastered. I’m no master, but this is a decent effort I reckon. If you’re from Lebanon, please try it and send me your kind and not-too-harsh feedback. Chokran!!
If you like a thicker sauce, stir in a few spoonfuls of hummus. This is perfectly acceptable behaviour.
I ate this with hummus, so I didn’t make it really saucy. Feel free to add more sauce.
Cook the chickpeas until they’re nice and soft, melt in the mouth!
I prefer soaked and cooked chickpeas, better flavour, but tinned will be fine.
I think this dish is best served warm.
I like cumin, so I put it in.
The Bits – Enough for 4-6 as a mezze
550g chickpeas (cooked) – 2 tins
1 teas ground cumin
6 tbs light tahini
1/2 lemon (juice)
5 tbs water (more if needed)
1 small clove garlic (crushed)
Sprinkle of paprika
2 cloves crushed garlic (optional but nice)
1/2 handful chopped parsley (use the soft stems also)
Big glug of extra virgin olive oil
1 green pepper
2 tomatoes (all sliced)
Fresh mint leaves (I used basil)
Cook your chickpeas, as you like, and drain.
When still warm. Stir the tahini, water, garlic, lemon juice, cumin and salt together, adding the water gradually to make a thin sauce. If you didn’t cook your chickpeas with bicarb of soda, use the chickpea cooking broth instead of water. You can make the sauce in advance if you like.
Gently stir the sauce into the warm chickpeas. Top with parsley, paprika and crushed garlic and serve with warm flatbreads and crisp, chopped salad.
Tahini! Why we love it so, other than it tastes awesome.
Tahini is one the best sources of calcium out there, it keeps your skin and muscles healthy, high in vitamin E and many of the B’s, helps with detoxing, full of minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron and more, a great source of protein (even better than nuts), it is highly alkaline, it is high in unsaturated fats and therefore can help with weightloss.
Jane and our amiga Rach in the backstreets of sunny Granada. Yesterday. I think they went to the Alhambra later…..Que vida!
It may have been around a year since you last made pancakes, don’t fret a jot, we are here to ease you into an evening of perfect flippin’ and crispy edged perfection. Jane has popped over to Spain and was last night giving this pancake recipe a dry run in the back streets of Granada (very nice indeed) whilst I kept my head down in the Beach House avoiding storm Imogen (nicely named). So, we’d like to share one of the easiest ways to make the perfect pancake and a few key tips to ensure pancake paradise is yours……
Pablo (or Paul to some) is my sisters newly crowned husband. I’m still getting used to the new title. Pablo is a passionate cook and regularly comes up with sensational dishes, over Christmas, one that stood out for the whole family was Pablo’s perfect pancakes. You could really wish for no more in a pancake recipe. This is as easy as it gets, but the outcome is light, fluffy and hopefully, crispy around the edge. Perfect for pancake day, or any day for that matter.
Pablo (right) at the wedding party with our mate Nick
I wish we ate more pancakes in Britain and didn’t reserve them for one night of frantic flipping. I think our nations happiness index would leap with an increase in pancake munching, they are so fun and versatile; sweet or savoury, thick or thin, wholegrain and nutritious or light and white…….we all know how we like them. I like mine with a fruity sauce or something rich like this wonderful coco and peanut sauce I just came up with. Jane is a purist and opts for a squeeze of lemon and a scattering of sugar. Each to their own!
If you’d like pancakes like this, check out these tips…
TOP 5 TIPS FOR PERFECT PANCAKES
1. Don’t over oil – lightly grease your pan and remove any excess oil with a paper towel.
2. Practice makes perfect – The first couple of pancakes may be a little strange, but you’ll get the hang of it!
3. Regular heat – Consistent pancakes need a consistent temperature. Warm up your pan on medium heat and turn down the heat slightly if needed.
4. Flippin’ Marvellous – Make pancakes small to ensure an easy flip. Always loosen run a spatula under the pancake before trying to flip, otherwise you may pull a muscle and generally look a bit daft as the pancake clings to the pan.
5. Portion control – use the same amount of mix per pancake. Sounds obvious, but for best results, keep a measuring cup handy and add the same amount of batter to the pan. They’ll take the same length of time to cook, look great and there will be no arguments over who got the runt of the litter!
And voilà! Perfect pancakes every time!
Right………..lets rock a perfect Pablo pancake!
I use cups here because I love America and it cuts out unnecessary scale faff. These are not supposed to be huge, pan filling pancakes. They are harder to handle. These are roughly 6 inches in diameter, light and fluffy. More like an American style pancake than a French style crepe. Thats how Pablo likes ’em……
1 1/4 cup strong white flour/ all purpose flour
2 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
2 tbs light brown sugar
1 cup (250ml) non-dairy milk (we use soya)
1 tbs oil
2 tbs water
(should equal 1 1/4 cups in total, if not, add a splash more water)
Jane flippin’ in Spain
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until all is combined.
(Check the top 5 tips above to make sure you are fully prepared for pancake paradise……)
Grab a medium sized frying pan (preferably with a nice thick bottom on it) and warm on medium heat. Add a couple of drops of oil, coat the pan, then add roughly 1/3 cup pancake batter. Let it naturally form a nice circular shape, leave to cook for 3 minutes, then flip over using a spatula to loosen it from the pan. Cook for another 2 minutes. If the colour is too dark or too light, check the heat and/ or cook for longer/ shorter with the next one.
Like I said, the first pancake at least, is a loosener, a warm-up.
There is only one pancake night so lets do it in style!!!! Why is there only one pancake night actually? I feel like we need at least a weekly or bi-weekly pancake night. Pancakes are better than that.
So I felt like joining in on the pancake party but with a busy week ahead, I wasn’t going to have much time to play with pancakes. I needed something super quick and tasty. I know that a lot of you are avoiding or taking it easy on gluten and I wanted to give you a brilliant option. I love making food accessible to all and no one will feel like they’re missing out with these pancakes. Impossible!
They’ll make for a great breakfast or dessert any time of year, maybe add some berries or chopped fruit, a little dusting of cocoa…..
I’m going to have to write this quickly before I eat all of these! I am actually multi-tasking here, typing with a mouthful of pancake. It is possible after all!! This recipes is hot out of the pan. I always said that the precious time that I get out of the kitchen I would not spend in the kitchen (does that make sense!!) taking 56 pictures of a pile of pancakes. Tonight…..I have. There is surely no better way to spend an evening.
This is easy. Pop all the ingredients in a blender, blitz, fry and enjoy! I love the way some talk about pancakes ‘behaving well’ in the pan!? A well behaved pancake sounds so bland. Make these small and you’ll have no problems at all flipping them and kids absolutely love a mini pancake (mini most things really).
THE GHOSTS OF PANCAKE DAY PAST
Pancakes have come a long way since my family launching them at the ceiling and redecorating the walls with flour and eggs. It always seems a very messy night with loads of fuss for a little, thin thing that normally had the consistency of a supple frisbee. It was always fun though and we laughed at our attempts and devastation. Everyone had a go at flipping and it was always very exciting and quite nerve wracking as an 8 year old. You always remembered your technique from last year, after four failed and mangled attempts!
I still love the classic lemon and sugar crepe, but lets face it, we’ve all become a bit more Americanized with our pancake habits. Hotcakes are big, light and fluffy (like some Americans I know) you eat two and feel like you’re about to explode. Quite filling they are. Sets you up for the day or an early return to bed!!! Sleep off breakfast.
This is the later, light and fluffy, but without that heavy feeling. We use gluten-free flour and the delights of banana paired with pecans.
There are so many! I had mine with a simple chocolate sauce (melted chocolate with a little coconut oil mixed in) or try warming peanut butter in a pan and stirring in some maple syrup, or tahini in the same way, in fact any nut butter is sensational warmed with some sweetness stirred in. Another option is warming the peanut butter, sweetening it and then stirring in a little coconut cream (the thick stuff in a tin of coconut milk). Wow! That is a sensation.
Something fruity, how about marmalade or cherry jam, warmed in a pan with a dash of whiskey or dark rum stirred in. Why not toss some apples, dates and orange zest in a pan and warm them through. Once the apple has broken down you have a lovely apple compote to use liberally on pancakes and more.
Although, having said all of that and being a purist in the department, just maple syrup is enough for me.
Not everyone likes the full taste of buckwheat, I do. These pancakes are awesome with just buckwheat flour.
I like these pancakes small, you can eat more of them and they are fresher when you do. In a large frying pan you should be able to fry three at a time. Use a spatula to flip them. If you can flip three pancakes by tossing them in the air…..well done.
If you’ve no pecans, walnuts will be fine. If you have no walnuts…cashews will do.
You can experiment with your favourite mix of gluten-free flour. If you’re using normal flour, I’d mash up the banana, chop up the pecans and stir it all togther. The blender may get the gluten going in the flour and you’ll be left with weird pancakes.
The Bits –12 mini pancakes (serves 2)
2 ripe bananas
1/2 teas g.f. bicarb of soda
1 handful pecans
4 tbs white gluten-free flour mix
3 tbs brown gluten-free flour mix
150ml soya milk (or plant milk of choice)
1/2 teas vanilla extract
Make your sauce first. Place a glass bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Add your chocolate and melt. Stir in a little oil, the sauce will be shiny and super rich. Its best serve warm.
In a blender, add all the pancake ingredients and blitz until all is combined. There will be chunks of nuts left, that is cool. You may need to get a spoon in there and mix things up, making sure all in smooth and batter-like.
Lightly oil a frying pan and warm on medium heat. Add 2-3 tbs of mix per pancake. Fry 2-3 minutes one side, flip and fry for 1-2 minutes on the other. I normally reduce the heat of my pan as I go through the batches of pancakes. It can get carried away. Keep your eye on it.
Keep the pancakes warm in an oven, or wrap them in a clean kitchen cloth until you’re ready to serve.
Enjoy with your favourite sauce or topping. You know the one……
Pecans are so intensely brilliant in many ways. They are packed with good fats and fatty acids, keeping your heart healthy. They are full of fibre which helps our digestion out, anti-oxidants and they are powerhouses of minerals, helping things like our bones, skin and immune systems. A handful of nuts a day, keeps the grim reaper at bay!
A quick and delicious breakfast for us this morning. The perfect antidote to a very grey day in Wales, some tropical flava! We managed to pick up/ save some very ripe mangoes recently and have been trying out coconut water, which seems like a bit of a craze at the minute. Mangoes and coconut, beaches and palm trees, a little escapism from the dark nights and storms of our little hillside retreat.
A lassi is something like an Indian milkshake that comes in many varieties, basically salty or sweet, but there are so many ways this yoghurt based drink can be enjoyed. Salted lassi is lovely, normally flavoured with a little ground cumin. Lassi’s are easily made vegan with the addition of non-dairy milk and vegan yoghurt, both are best used unsweetened we find. You can then control which and how much sweetener you choose to use, if any. The mango and coconut water are already sweet here and any sweetener is really only needed to give the sweet tooth a little treat.
We’ve eaten mangoes all over the world, but have to say that the best are Indian. I don’t think any other country reveres a fruit quite like Indians with their mangoes. Maybe the French with grapes?! Italians with tomatoes?!! Brits with apples?!! Its out there for discussion. Surely having a mango tree in your garden is a sign of very good karma though! Especially in Wales!!
The sheer diversity of mangoes in India is bewildering and the season is anticipated like the festive season over here. Mangoes are now very expensive in India, especially certain highly regarded varieties like Alphonso, Badami, Chausa, Dasheri…..there are loads. Where are you favourite Mangoes from? Thailand and the Philippines are closely behind India in the mango nirvana stakes for sure. The ones we bought here were from Brazil(!)
Adding turmeric to lassi’s is an age old remedy for stomach complaints in the sub-continent and we like adding turmeric to anything, such is it’s vibrant health giving properties (not to mention the colour! WHAM!! YELLOW!!!)
We are drinking these in autumnal Wales and need no extra chilling. If you happen to be in a nice hot part of the globe (well done!) you may like to add a few ice cubes to the lassi and decrease the coconut water a little. You could also freeze your coconut water into ice cubes, this works brilliantly and adds a lovely coco twist to cold drinks.
Other lassi varieties you could try:
Strawberry, Pineapple and Mint, Avocado and Lime, Beetroot and Thyme, Chocolate and Pistachio, Apple and Chai Spiced…….
You may also like to check out the brilliant Vegan Richa’s recipe for a spicy Thandai Lassi.
Mangoes are such a treat in Wales, they don’t come our way very often. We think a lassi is the perfect home for a nice ripe mango and a breath of bright tropical air in the early dark nights and rain clouds of beautiful Wales.
If are struggling to find coconut water, go for non-dairy milk (like soya or almond) and even straight water will make a good lassi.
If you can get ground cardamom, please do. Just a sprinkle on the top transforms the lassi. Cardamom and Indian sweets got together perfectly, but remember that too much can be overpowering. Lightly sprinkle.
These lassi’s are made without turmeric, so the colour is a little lighter.
Mango and Coconut Lassi (Vegan)
The Bits – Makes two small glasses
1 mango (peeled and de-stoned)
175ml coconut water
5 tbs dairy free yoghurt
1-2 teas sweetener (we used brown rice syrup)
1/2 teas turmeric (optional)
Pinch cardamom powder
Pop all ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth and creamy. Check the sweetness and you can even add more yoghurt for extra creaminess.
Creamy sweet fruity YUM!
Pour into your finest glassware and sprinkle over a little cardamom and chopped almonds or pistachios for a real authentic India style.
Soya is packed full of protein and coconut has amazingly healthy fats. Mangoes are very high in vitamin A and C……as far as breakfasts go, this is a smooth and tasty winner!
Vegan omelettes are delicious and simple to prepare. A very tasty day-starter especially when boasting smoky chipotle, mushroom, toasted sweetcorn and a lively salsa.
The flavours of Mexico mirror Mexican culture; diverse and vibrant, fresh and intense. There are many ways to make a plant-based omelette but I like this combination of gram flour, caramelised veggies and silken tofu. Loads of flavours and textures going on.
I’m not so keen on creating dishes that exactly mimic meat/ cheese/ eggs etc, just something that everyone will be able to enjoy and appreciate the similarities in texture and flavour. This is one of those dishes that is carnivore approved!
Eating vegan food doesn’t mean giving things up, it normally means adapting dishes and is always full of creative surprises. Just like these omelettes. They are rich and delicious and of course, are packed with wonderful nutrition.
I normally like juices, fruit, porridge, muesli etc for breakfast, I don’t have a sweet tooth, but it seems to be what my body is craving first thing. There are however those exceptional days when only savoury will do. This normally follows a few glasses of moonshine down at the local tavern I find!
Pan fried mushrooms are just packed with umami-style flavour, along with the sweetcorn and the toasty, nutty flavour of the gram flour making for a flavour packed breakfast.
Mexicans are brilliant at breakfast and many of the classic breakfast dishes are egg-based. Huevos Rancheros, Huevos a la Mexicana, Breakfast tacos or burritos, Gorditas (think a pasty meets a tortilla, stuffed with beans and griddled, utterly delicious)……. All easily veganized, especially as avocado is such a staple in Mexico. They are normally served with loads of chilli in some form or another, either chopped raw or a potent sauce. There is also the beauty of the ubiquitous and always freshly homemade green and red sauces (salsa verde y rojo) that can be spooned over anything to add sensational flavour. Breakfast is no exception.
Chilli is sure to get the body and mind warmed up for the day! Once a week, I like to have a spicy brekkie and in Mexico became accustomed to chewing on a whole chilli in the morning. Beats an espresso I can tell you!
WHAT IS CHIPOTLE?
Chipotle is basically a smoked red jalapeno chilli that is now readily available around the UK and Europe. If you’re reading in the States, I’m sure you know your way around a chipotle already! Chipotle chillies can be bought in many forms either dried, in adobo (canned), as a paste (popular in the UK) or ground. You can sometimes replace chipotle with smoked paprika in recipes.
I spent six months backpacking around Mexico, many years ago now, but I can still perfectly recall many of the meals I ate there. The diversity and flavours of Mexico blew me away. Thank goodness there are a few decent Mexican restaurants in the UK nowadays, there is much more to Mexican cuisine than a Texmex Burrito (although they can be awesome too!)
One of the delights of Mexican cooking is the chipotle and other smoky, sweet chillies. They are unique and a real delicacy. Many markets have a huge variety of smoky chillies piled up, all used in different dishes, from the salsa rojo to the feast that is a mole pobaldo. Chipotles are quite fiery, but I’d say are medium on the blow your head off scale. Less hot than a raw jalapeno that is for sure.
Chipotles are normally smoked for several days and in that time shrivel up. The flavours really intensify, so this is worth bearing in mind when cooking. A little chipotle can flavour a large pot of stew. Chipotles are quite tough and are therefore best used in slow cook dishes like soups, stews and are especially good as a surprise ingredient in chutney/ marmalades. I love a cheeky Chipotle Marmalade and will attempt to get a recipe on here one day.
Gram flour is a wonderful ingredient. So full of flavour and totally gluten free, made from ground chickpeas. Gram flour can also be made form roasted pulses and comes in raw and roasted varieties. Roasted gram has a fuller flavour.
It is a healthy alternative to wheat flour and I’m using it to help bind together vegan baking at the moment. A couple of tbs mixed with an equal quantity of water can make a huge difference to the texture of a cake.
Gram flour has been used in Europe for many years, its maybe not so exotic as we think. Examples of this would be the pancake style dishes Socca (France) or Farinata (Italy). Both traditional and totally gram. When gram flour is cooked its strong flavour mellows, I do quite like my vegan omelettes a little soft, but some are not keen on the flavour of raw-ish gram flour. Gram flour is a top larder item for every cook.
My other favourite chilli at the moment, the mighty British Komodo Dragon Chilli. POW!
We can’t eat meat and dairy at current levels. The world will not sustain us. There are very clever people out there who are creating fake meat and cheese in laboratories and just recently I saw a youtube clip of a scrambled vegan egg. It certainly looked like the real deal, all soft and shiny when cooked. What it tastes like remains to be seen so I’ll stick with this omelette for now.
Most of us are waking up to the fact that our eating habits must change, for so many positive reasons; we love animals, for our own health and the health of the planet. The future of food for me is lots of fruits, legumes, veggies and nuts. However, some folk will still want a bloody hamburger or a runny egg yolk, this is now becoming a very real, plant-based alternative.
This is a lively breakfast/ brunch (in fact lunch too) sure to get your taste buds firing first thing, certainly adding a little spice and big flavours to an autumn morning. A wake up call! A fiesta in your mouth!!
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Corn season in the UK is coming to an end, but what better way to use your gorgeous fresh corn on the cobs. You can use tinned sweetcorn, but it just ain’t the same.
Some vegan omelettes call for the tofu to be mixed in with the flour, but I like the texture contrast of keeping it separate.
I like these just cooked, over cooking an vegan omelette will only make it dry. Which is never a good thing. A couple of minutes in a warm pan is enough and then straight under the grill and then eaten just after. Just like an egg omelette, the warmer and fresher the omelette the more delicious.
I love chilli so 1 1/2 tbs is a good amount. Use a little less if you’re not quite ready for a full chilli hit at the breakfast table.
Adding fresh coriander to the salsa and omelette is lovely. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any.
The Bits – For 2 large omelettes
150g gram flour (besan)
½ teas salt
½ teas baking powder (gluten-free)
1 teas cumin seeds
250g firm silken tofu (sliced)
200g sweetcorn (2 corn on the cobs)
2 large mushrooms (like field or portobello)
1-1 1/2 tbs chipotle paste
Oil for cooking (I used rapeseed/ canola oil)
Avocado and Tomato Salsa
2 spring onions
2 large leaves kale (curly, black kale etc – stems removed and finely sliced)
1 lime juice
½ lime zest
½ teas salt
In a bowl, mix together the gran flour, water, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
Make your salsa, this can be done in advance. Combine all the ingredients, lightly toss together and check seasoning.
Grab a large, heavy bottomed frying pan. Add 1/2 tbs oil and warm on a high heat. Once hot add the cumin seeds and corn. Stir and saute for 5 minutes, until the corn has a nice, dark golden colour. Set corn aside. Wipe pan clean.
Pop pan back on the stove. Warm another 1/2 tbs oil and add your mushrooms, saute for 2 minutes, stirring regularly, add the chipotle paste and cook through for another minute. Set aside and wipe clean pan.
Warm a grill on medium heat. You can flip the pancake in the pan, but it is quite thick and can break easily. Better to go for the grilling option.
Warm 1/3 tbs oil in your frying pan, make sure the pan base has a nice thin covering of oil. Scatter half your corn and mushrooms into the pan and spoon over half your gram flour mix. Ensure the pan base has an even covering of mix and place half your tofu evenly across the omelette. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then loosen the edges with a flat spatula. This is a good sign that the base is cooked (you can even have a quick peek!)
Place the pan under the grill (drizzle a little more oil over the omelette for added richness at this stage) and grill until the omelette is cooked through, a nice golden colour, a couple of minutes should be enough.
As soon as possible along with the salsa. You can either fold the omelette or leave it flat and sprinkle over the salsa, like a pizza. Mexican omelette pizza!? Quite a thing!!
A nice sweet and sour sauce, something like a smoky Mexican Salsa Rojo would be perfect, but not necessary.
Gram flour is higher in protein than wheat flour and is packed with healthy unsaturated fats, iron and fibre. More reasons to go gram.
Jane and I have been down at Whitstable at my sisters wedding bash. Laura and Paul were married on a beautiful beach in Cornwall, but this one was for all the family and other rabble! It was a wonderful time, a marquee in the back garden, bright sunshine all day and Jane and I cooked up a Italian feast; plenty of antipasti to start with salads, tarts, stews etc later on. We had a local band play a few tunes and then an impromptu talent contest from the semi-sozzled/ fully-sozzled revellers. Stand up comics, musicians and spoken word enthusiasts. It was a proper giggle.
A quick and easy breakfast/ brunch was in order the morning after. Something with a bit of substance. This is a nice change from your normal beans on toast! I love my beans and like to play with flavours in the morning, of course, sometimes a classic beans on toast is in order (you know the brand!) But homemade beans are so much tastier and better for us. They also only take a few minutes longer to prepare and combined with the herb oil and chillies, tickles the tastebuds nicely.
The pickled chillies are essential here, you can easily make your own or buy them in, you’ll find them easily in your local shops. I love the way Italians add cheeky chilli to things, just a tickle to get you interested. I am more of a unabashed chilli muncher and therefore eat a few whole with my brekkie. Probably not for everyone, but I learnt this trick in Mexico and it certainly cuts through the morning head mist.
After all the extravagance of wedding food, this was one of my favourite things to eat all weekend! So simple and tasty, I had to share it with you. Here we serve it with some smoked aubergine puree, which is not your normal breakfast fare, but as with all party menu’s, there were some brilliant leftovers to hoover up.
Use any greens here, spinach, kale etc…… They make all the difference for so many reasons.
I like to soak and cook dried beans. More flavour and better texture. But you can use two tins of beans if you like.
You will have a little basil oil left over, it seems wise to make a little more than needed. Cover it with cling film and it will keep well for a couple of days. The basil may discolour a little. You may like to blanch it for 30 seconds in boiling water to help to prevent this. But that seems like a lot of hassle in the morning (especially after a wedding party!)
BIG CONGRATS TO LAURA AND PAUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Bits – For 2 Healthy Appetites
480g cooked cannellini beans (2 tins or 250g dried beans – soaked overnight in plenty of cold water)
4 big handfuls of spinach/ kale leaves
2 teas dried oregano
2 teas paprika
3 tbs tomato puree
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
1-2 tbs fruity olive oil
1 handful sun dried tomatoes (roughly chopped) – Optional deliciousness
1 large handful basil leaves (very finely chopped)
1 large handful parsley (very finely chopped)
2 tbs lemon juice
1 large clove garlic (crushed)
75 ml olive oil
Large pinch sea salt
Sourdough Bread (for toast)
2 ripe tomatoes (chopped)
Pickled red chillies (as you like)
For the basil oil, stir all the ingredients together. You can also pop it all into a good blender if you don’t fancy all the fine chopping. Blitz until the herbs are broken down.
In a medium saucepan, on medium low heat, warm the beans, adding all the ingredients except the spinach leaves and olive oil. Stir regularly on a low simmer for about 7 minutes, take off the heat and stir in the spinach leaves and olive oil (for optional richness). Check the seasoning and then pop a lid on and get your toast and tomatoes ready.
Spoon the beans onto a plate with the toast, chillies and tomatoes. Drizzle liberally with your herb oil. Sit in the sun and dream of the Italian coastline and the aquamarine Med. If its a brunch time, a chilled glass of Prosecco is perfectly acceptable.
It has been shown that around the world, cultures who eat a good amount of beans live longer. There are of course other factors, but beans are just incredible for many reasons. Beans are very low GI, making them a brilliant way to fuel up for a day, slowly releasing energy throughout the day. Beans are of course full of fibre and certain chemicals which have a strong detoxifying effect on the body. Plus, they are absolutely packed with pure plant protein with non of the nasty additions you get with animal proteins. Beans may seems a little uninteresting to some, but they are really a magical wonder food!
Here is your five a day in just a few gulps! Juicing is the easiest way of supercharging your day and getting loads of shining fruits and veggies into your diet.
I love experimenting with new flavour combos in our morning juice. What do we have available and will they sing together in a glass?! This one is backed up by a hit of ginger and lemon (whole, the zest is awesome in many ways), apples, carrots and a handful of mint. Its a feast and a massive wake up call to the immune system. When you juice, you can forget about the need for expensive supplements, vitamin pills etc. Nothing can compete with a fresh juice. Juicing also helps in weight loss and makes you much sexier!!!
SUPERCHARGE YOUR DAY
Our favourite way to start any day is a glass of freshly made juice. It just seems to make perfect sense. Our bodies have just woken from (hopefully) a nice long sleep, when we have basically been fasting for many hours. We’re dehydrated and a little depleted, we need a serious boost of something nutritious and preferably, charged with vitality and vibrant flavours. Juicing is the easiest way to get loads of essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, enzymes etc) down the hatch, very easy on the digestion and we can feel the benefit soon after. Energy levels rise and we get a healthy glow about us.
The contents of this juice are a sign that things are really flying now this summer. You could call this our ‘Veg Box Nectar’, basically whatever we get from the farm in a juicer with a little consideration for overall flavour. Really though, all these sensational veggies and fruits cannot taste bad in a glass. There are probably a few guidelines to a good juice; go easy on the cabbage, turnip or swede, too much whole citrus (with pith on) can be a little challenging.
We always try to add greens, like Kale, Chard or Spinach, to our juices as they are the bodies best friend. Greens contain so many amazing nutrients, not to mention things like protein, calcium, iron….the list goes on and on. They also contain bags of chlorophyll which helps the liver detox and purifies and rebuilds blood cells, also helping with high blood pressure. Eating a lot of greens regularly, daily if possible, is our number one suggestion for staying healthy and feeling amazing.
TOP JUICING TIPS
EAT YOUR FRUIT AND JUICE YOUR VEGGIES – As a basic rule, this works a treat. Many fruits are high in sugar and unless they are packed with fibre, can make your blood sugar levels rocket. Its best to drink a balanced juice, with sweet fruits as a sweetener and not a base. Some root vegetables can also be high in sugar, worth bearing in mind. Having said that, a pure fruit juice is an awesome treat!
PREP WELL – Get everything cut down to size and peeled (if needed) before you start. This will make juicing a breeze. We always fill our juicer shoot up (wide funnel juicers are best) before turning the machine on, this is more efficient. Wash up before you drink the juice, for some reason, this seems to make it less of a chore!? Not juicing because of the washing up is a very poor show.
DON’T HANG AROUND! – Juices are highly perishable and are best drank as soon as possible to get maximum flavour and health benefits.
REASONS TO GET JUICY
INTENSE NUTRIENTS – Juicing condenses down produce into a glass, you can cram so much goodness into a juice. One glass can contain 5 carrots, 3 apples, 1 lemon, 5 kale leaves…….whatever your imagination can come up with! To eat all of those in one sitting would take a long time and lot of chewing….
DIGESTION – Juices take almost no digestive energy, meaning the body is getting loads of nutrients and expending very little in return. That energy can be used for other things like replenishing and rejuvenating.
LOSE WEIGHT, LOOK GOOD – Juices can really help here, accompanied by a good, balanced diet (we’d of course recommend a vegan diet) and regular exercise. The intense nutrient hit you get from juicing helps keep the skin shining and hair and nails strong, it will also help to make you feel and look younger.
There are two main types of juicers, cold press or centrifugal. We have always used a centrifugal juicer and if they are well made and powerful, produce good results and extract plenty of juice (you can check this by pressing out the waste pulp – this pulp can be made into tasty burgers or muffins).
Centrifugal juicers basically extracted the juice using a spinning blade. Cold press (or masticating) juicers normally extract more juice and at low temperature, maintaining all of the nutrient content. They are quieter and can be used to make nut milks, however, they are more expensive.
We’ve tried out many juicers and our favourites are Sage. They sent us a juicer over a year ago and its been brilliant since then. Very well made, easy to clean and powerful. They are not the cheapest, but if you are serious about getting into juicing, its well worth the investment.
First Summer Strawberries
BERRY NICE SUMMER:)
We just ate our first wild strawberries from the garden and they were so sweet. The song ‘Summer Wine’ by Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra sprang to mind. A classic with a proper retro video. Lee knows how to wear a moustache! A perfect tune for strawberry munching in the sun. Jane and I have been playing it recently on guitar and it’s a cheeky tune that makes people smile. The raspberries are coming at Trigonos and we’ve been inundated with gorgeous gooseberries (so sweet) and blackcurrants (potently purple). This time of year is just one long celebration of sensational seasonal produce, even the cauliflowers are making an appearance!
FAT, SICK AND NEARLY DEAD
This documentary came out a while back and has influenced loads of people and certainly spread the good juicing word around the globe. Going on a juice fast can have wonderful health benefits, incredible transformations, as highlighted by the personal stories in this film. Some friends of ours are going to try it out, although a shorter version, it will be interesting to see the results. Jane and I feel that juice fasts can be an incredibly cleansing and revitalising opportunity, although we’d not recommend carrying them on for too long. Juicing does take fibre out of your fruits and veggies and we love fibre in the BHK. Its essential for maintaining good health and digestion.
Along with a healthy balanced diet, juicing can be a brilliant habit to get into, the benefits of which are best experienced to be believed!!!!
Here’s a recipe for a seriously tasty juice, full of zing and good things:
The Bits – For 2
3 kale leaves (with stems)
3 large carrots (scrubbed)
1-2 inch fresh ginger (peeled – with a teaspoon is easiest)
2 large apples (halved)
1 large beetroot (scrubbed – with leaves if you’ve got any)
1 green pepper (deseeded and halved)
1 small lemon (whole)
Pop all into a high speed juicer, leaves first, then ginger and lemon. The carrot and apple will flush everything through.
In your favourite glass (or jars if you are trendy, or poor, or both) with a smile.
Beetroots are in the same family as chard and spinach. The beetroot leaves (greens) are exceptionally high in iron, calcium, vitamin A and C.
Many athletes are now getting into beetroots. Apparently it lowers muscle fatigue and is of course, amazingly nutritious with huge amounts of beta carotene and a good hit of sugar to keep you well fuelled for a workout. Beetroot is also ideal for detoxing, as it kick started the detox process in the liver. Ideal for a morning juice.
TOP BEET TIP – If you have beetroot fingers, all purple, try rubbing some lemon juice over them. This helps. Or wear gloves in the first place.
Plantain Breakfast Burrito with Pico de Gallo (Original Recipe from Peace and Parsnips)
Here’s the perfect Saturday morning Burrito packed with colours and all the flavours we love from Mexico. If you can’t get your hands on a plantain, use potato instead and cook it for a little longer.
I spent six months in Mexico quite a long time ago now, driving around from North to South. The food memories (and parties) have always stayed with me. In fact, you could say that a street taco changed my life! It certainly changed my ideas about food and what constitutes ‘good food’ or ‘fine dining’. I ate some of the best food of my life, huddled under a light bulb on a street corner or hanging out at a 24 hour taco stall. Maybe it was all that Corona, but Mexico was one long feast and my eyes were opened to the complexity of Mexican food and its distinct regional influences.
Burritos are something we all know and are very much a meal in a wrap. There are so many ways to fill a burrito, but in the morning, when you’re looking for something a little bit different, a plantain is a very versatile and nourishing amigo. It brightens up your day from the very beginning!
This recipe and others from Peace and Parsnips were posted yesterday on the Hello! Magazine website, the article was all about Beyonce and her new vegan venture. Maybe Beyonce would like a Burrito for brekkie tomorrow! Check it out.
Taken from Peace and Parsnips:
Most of us need a quick breakfast that is easy to prepare, and burritos are ideal. In Mexico, home of the burrito, breakfast differs from lunch in only minor detail – restaurants serve dishes almost identical to any other time of day. Pico de gallo is a classic, and easy enough to assemble for breakfast – although having a bowl of pico de gallo in your fridge is never a bad idea at any time of day. It can be found all over Mexico and Central America and bizarrely translates as ‘beak of rooster’. If you’re not serving your burrito with pico de gallo, I recommend mixing some fresh coriander leaves and tomatoes into the filling. Qué rico!
The Bits – F0r 4
2 large green plantains
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely diced
240g firm tofu or tempeh, well drained and mashed with a fork
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon oregano
1-2 green chillies, deseeded and finely sliced Oalapeiios would be perfect)
a large pinch of sea salt
4 large whole wheat tortillas (must be fresh – stale tortillas will crack when rolled – and they dry out very easily, so keep them covered: gluten-free tortillas are available)
Make the pico de gallo. Peel the plantains with apotato peeler, then halve them lengthways and chop them into lcrn chunks. In a large frying pan, heat half the oil on a high heat, then add your plantains and toss well. They will become nicely caramelized. Stir them regularly to prevent them sticking and remove when they have some nice crisp brown bits – roughly 5-7 minutes. Set aside, uncovered.
Add the rest of the oil to the pan. On a high heat, saute your onions and peppers (that’s posh frying) and stir well. After 5 minutes, when they are beginning to caramelize, add the tofu, garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, oregano, chillies and salt. Cook and stir for a further 5-7 minutes, adding 1tablespoon of water to ensure the spices are not sticking to the base. Now stir in the cooked plantains and check the seasoning. Cover and set aside.
Wipe out the frying pan with kitchen roll and warm your tortillas for a minute on each side (or you can warm them beforehand on a medium grill). They should be just warmed through, fragrant and still soft and pliable. If they are too toasted, they break when wrapping.
Spoon 3 tablespoons of plantain filling into the centre of each tortilla and top with 2 tablespoons of pico de gallo. Fold in the two opposing edges, pressing gently down, then roll the whole thing over. A burrito is like a tucked-in wrap, a fat tortilla parcel if you like.
Salsa verde is also amazing lathered over burritos or served on the side. Serve these burritos warm, with more fresh chillies or chilli sauce. POW!
Breakfast of champs!!!!!!!!!!! Although really anytime of day is a good time for hash. Spinach is not everyone’s breakfast go-to veg, but it adds a stack of vitamins and nutrients to any dish and the body loves few things more first thing. Give it a go, it might even start making an appearance on your cooked brekkies (or is that a step too far?!).
I always find it strange that the things we eat in the morning normally make an ace late night snack as well. Hash is proper Brit grub, which for me means it fills the belly after a long walk around our freezing terrains, either returning from a pub or recovering the morning after. After all, beer and Britain go together like beans and toast, pies and piccalilli, Wimbledon and Cliff Richard (Dad’s personal favourite). You catch my drift, historically British culture needed food that filled a whole, fueled our passion for hard graft and soaked up buckets of ale.
An evocative word for many reasons, culinary and otherwise. Foodie wise, the name hash comes from the French ‘hacher’ which means to chop. Hash is normally a wonderful receptacle for leftovers, alot like Bubble and Squeak. In Denmark they have a dish like hash called ‘biksemad’ which means, ‘tossed together food’. I think this is sums it up. In fact, most countries have a version of hash up their sleeves, ‘picadillo’ in Spain, ‘pyttipanna’ in Sweden and ‘tyrol’ in Austria. We love it!
Most people forget that Britain was once struggling and my grandparent and parents would eat things like hash primarily because they were quick and cheap. Hash is proper ‘poor mans’ grub but this, as we find all over the world, does not mean that its poor food. Hash is a brilliant way of turning cheaper bits and pieces into a hearty and satisfying meal. One chap has even release a cookbook dedicated to the mighty hash and high end restaurants are now doing fancy things with the hash medium.
Hash is something I was partially raised on. In the North East of England there are many varieties. To my mind, its loads of stuff fried together in a pan, with a potato stuck in their somewhere along the way if you like. Its proper British grub. I think the main thing with pan frying potatoes is to take it slowly and gently, try not to bash them up too much. Many people around the world add spice to their hash, in my neck of the woods, this is absurd. Hash is straight up and pure, not spice. I know that in the States they use the term hash for many differing dishes, some thick stews, some loads of minced meat fried. Well not it in the Beach House hombres, this hash is strictly plant but not lacking in substance and certainly not lacking in nutrition and taste.
Dad gets caught in the crossfire (notice awesome dressing gown, essential in the Artic realm of the pre-spring Beach House Kitchen)
I’m not totally blowing our trumpets here (….I am….) but vegans know their way around a nutritious, low saturated fat, nibble or two. As a kid, we used to have this with fatty bacon and probably a load of corned beef whacked in their. Maybe topped with a sausage or two. Corned beef was a constant companion to me, or Pek (like Spam, but I found it to be tastier). Strangely, last night I had a dream/ nightmare based around that jelly you find around the meat in a pork pie. The same jelly you find on Pek, aspic jelly that is a not-too-distant cousin of the jellyfish and seems quite a strange thing to find stuffed into a pie or coating food in general. It was oozing all over the place, like a B-Movie Monster….”Attack of the Aspic Jelly!”
THE SAUCY DEBATE – ARE YOU RED OR BROWN?
In Britain you’re either red or brown. There is no middle ground. The battles lines are drawn! Like the round heads or the royalists, labour or tory it is unwise to mix your allegiance. Welcome to our saucy world.
Now if you’re reading from anywhere outside of the U.K. this is going to all sound a little strange, but there is a timeless debate raging on these little islands about sauce. Brown sauce to be exact. Brown sauce is a phenomenon that has gripped Britain since the early 20th century. Frederick Gibson Garton came up with the recipe, a grocer from Nottingham. I’ve no idea how, but he thought that combining tomatoes, tamarind, dates, molasses and vinegar would appeal to the masses. It was a hit and apparently they served it in the houses of parliament, hence the name. HP is the original Brown Sauce, but there are many contenders (see below). HP was traditionally made in Aston near Birmingham, the factory is now closed. HP was originally called ‘snotrag’, a charming name taken from the founders name (Garton’s), late in the 60’s and 70’s it was called ‘Wilson’s Gravy’ due to the fact that Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister at the time, used to cover his meals with the stuff. HP now comes in a load of different varieties, but its still best out of the old glass bottle. Why is that?
BROWN SAUCE – CONTENDERS AND TASTING NOTES
Not all Brits are into HP. There are many options over here. As a child I was weaned on Daddie’s sauce, slighty more acidic and not quite as concentrated with a less pungent bouquet. The main attraction was the price I’d imagine. Chop sauce is another contender that seems popular in the North. My Uncle Brian swears by Chop. I like Chop. Its very thick and has a lighter flavour than HP. A good chip dipper. Having said all of this, for me, I opt for HP. Having been travelling most of my life, the sight of an HP bottle, with its ‘By Appoitment of Her Majesty The Queen’ and Big Ben embossed on the front, stirs a normally absent sense of nostalgia and reminds me of dinner time around my grandparents house. Its powerful stuff!
Brown sauce is a treat for us in the BHK, in fact Jane is more of a red sauce gal (Tomato Ketchup that is). I reserve a chilled bottle in the fridge for special breakfast times. Its highly processed and not what you’d call a healthy option. Full of salt and sugar. Its just one of those flavours that is so heavily linked with childhood memories. Its also vegan and there are precious few ‘childhood memory’ foods that can claim to be purely plant.
The key here is to cook the hash for a while, on a lowish heat and make sure everything is nicely caramelised. Stirring gently and regularly to ensure the potatoes don’t stick and remain in tact. Its a hash not a mash!
Brekkie of champs……
We’ve had a bash at home made HP sauce and homemade baked beans, but this morning Dad and I had a date with a beach walk. There are some brilliant recipes on the web for both of these things and of course, everything is better homemade right?!
I’ve made hash with firm tofu added before which makes it more substantial and of course brings a load of protein to the party. More filling for sure. Crumble some drained firm tofu (roughly 175g or half a block, will be enough) into the pan with the mushrooms.
There are an infinite amount of hashes to experiment with, use whatever veggies you have at hand and put it on toast. Eeeaaaaaaaaaassssssssssyyyyyyy!
Things are getting golden in the pan
The Bits – For 2
1-2 tbs cooking oil (I used rapeseed oil)
10 mushrooms – chestnut work well (roughly chopped)
2 small potatoes (cut into 1cm cubes, skins scrubbed and kept on)
1 small onion (finely diced)
4 massive handfuls of spinach leaves
1 teas balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and plenty of black pepper (to taste)
You favourite toast and lashings of baked beans
HP Sauce (the only way to go)
In a large heavy frying pan on a medium heat, add the oil, potatoes and onions. Coat well in the oil using a wooden spoon or spatula and continue to gently stir and cook for 10-15 minutes. The potatoes and mushrooms will now be nicely caramelised. Add the mushrooms and balsamic vinegar and continue to gently stir regularly and make sure the potatoes are not sticking, lower the heat slightly if you need to. (Now is a good time to heat your beans if you’re having hash and beans).
Cook for 5-7 minutes and then pile the spinach leaves on top, it will look like alot, but they cook down quickly. Stir the leaves into the hash and wait for them to wilt, after a couple of minutes, season well with salt and pepper.
Pop your toast in. As a vegan, you can buy some nice, natural olive oil spreads (like margarine, but without the nasties) or I just like to drizzle olive oil or good rapeseed oil on my toast.
Mushroom and Spinach Hash (with baked beans)
Spoon the hash over your toast and surround with a steaming moat of beans. Add sauce in the quantity and location that you prefer and get stuck right in!
Spinach is one of the worlds most nutrient dense foods, all wrapped up in a tasty green leaf. Spinach boasts wild amounts of Vitamin K and A, it is also rammed full of a plethora of minerals like manganese, folate and iron. Eating spinach will help you against inflammations, cancer, caridiovascular problems and it gives a serious anti-oxidant boost to the body. Talk about starting the day on a good foot!
Buy vividly green spinach for greater levels of Vitamin C. If your spinach is wilting anywhere else than your pan, look elsewhere for your daily hit of wonder green leaves.
PS – You may have noticed that Dad is standing in for Jane, who is at this very moment, sunning herself somewhere on a beach in Spain. Sounds terrible. She is back next week to really get the BHK rocking.
Brazil Nut and Banana Breakfast Cookies – Up close and personal
Warm, healthy cookies for breakfast. Yes, please!!!!!! A fine start to any day and even the sleepiest of heads can cope with the simplicity of getting these together. This is a nourishing and energy giving breakfast on the run and one of these cookies contains much more nutrition than your average bowl of cereal.
A strange post to be winging it across from the Turkish Med, but the weather in the port town of Antalya is dreadful. Jane and I are tucked up in bed with cups of well stewed Turkish tea. We were here two weeks ago and the sun was blazing, it now resembles a supermarket car park in Leicester town centre in a November hail storm (with the occasional roman aqueduct thrown in). Amazing the difference some pants weather can make.
THE BEACH HOUSE ON TOUR
A quick update as to our wandering ways. We’re in Turkey, as mentioned and have been whizzing around in a hire car for two weeks, covering thousands of kilometres in this fascinating and rich land. Firstly, Turkey is a country with many layers of incredible history and culture, stunning and varied landscapes, but the real star (as ever we find) is the people. The folk we have met have been absolutely brilliant, wonderfully hospitable, kind and funny. Jane and I have felt very at home ever since, on the first night, a genial waiter Abdullah, offered us his house to stay in for as long as we like. We declined his more than generous offer, so he halved our bill and sent us on our merry way. This has become quite normal, every day we are confronted with bare faced kindness and highly welcoming behaviour.
The view from our hotel in Antalya on the first day, now it looks considerably greyer with occasional lightning forks crackling over the mountains.
We’ve been so active in the last 14 days its quite hard to recap that’s been done. Having taken in most of the Turquoise coast, with its stunning ancient Greek and Roman Ruins and beautiful beaches, we headed up to Pammukale, which is a massive calcite wave with hot thermal springs (and an almost token vast ancient Greek settlement on top). We then whisked our little Fiat up through the Alpine clad mountains, inland and across a vast Anatolian steppe to Konya (the resting place of the poet Rumi and the home of the whirling dervishes) and then spent a few days exploring and hiking in the ridiculously unique and surreal rock features of the Cappdocian valleys. We stayed in a luxury cave, carved out of compressed volcanic dust. The beauty of having a car is being able to stop alot along the way and get lost. Getting lost I find is the best way to get to know a country properly. The out of the way places are always more fun than the tourist ‘hives’.
Now we’re back on the coast, having traced the silk road for a while and hung out in caravaserai’s. We’re readying ourselves for a weeks volunteering and cooking on an organic farm and animal sanctuary (meaning sitting down for a day). Phew! In a nut shell, its been intensely brilliant. It feels like we’ve been away for years. Pictures will hopefully follow when a better internet connection arises.
THE TRIALS AND TRAVAILS OF VEGAN TRAVELER
Being a vegan foodie traveler outside select parts of LA is never going to easy, but many Turkish staples are easily veganised and we haven’t struggle for sparkling sustenance thus far. Saksuka, corba (soup, lentil normally), bean stews, gorgeous pides (Turkish pizza), village rice dishes, shepherd salads, smoked aubergine and pepper salads, many clay pot roasted veggie variations (in wood fired ovens), and lashings of white bread ( no whole grains on the horizon) have kept us ticking over quite nicely. All washed down with plenty of tiny glasses of Turkish Whiskey (well stewed tea normally grown around the Black Sea).
We do have a very unique diet in the Beach House Kitchen and we always feel the pinch the first few weeks of a travel. Gone are the 6 vegetable morning juices and rampantly organic raw salads and layered tofu bakes. Having said that, back here in the big city Antalya (population 11 million) we have just enjoyed a slap up mezze-fest in a white table cloth joint. Radical selections of local leaves, beetroot, funky turnip juice, fresh steaming white bread, melt in the mouth aubergine dishes (known as the ‘sultan’ of vegetables in Turkey and quiet revered), interesting and intense tomato rice (the shape of which I’d never seen before, very squat and dumpy grains). Great stuff and an open fire to boot.
Generally travelling as a vegan means scouting out as many fruit and nuts as you can find. I’m not a huge supplement fan, but do travel with some Spirulina which I picked up in India, see this article I wrote for more info on this wonder green powder. Getting balanced nutrition is a happy quest when on the road. A vegan traveler has to be more patient with food and accept the occasion stray lump of cheese or gristle with grace and impeccable manners. After all, we are ambassadors of something highly positive, why ruin it all with a restaurant rant. It can get a little embarrassing on occasion, especially when in a home. No matter how much you explain yourself, language barriers can become chasms when ordering in a restaurant. It is quite an alien concept in most parts of the world. So far, on this trip, I have been fine and had no encounters with surprise ingredients. There is an element of keeping it simple and realising the the cornucopia of local food is generally out of bounds and you will have to settle with some simple veggies dishes and many baffled and perplexed looks from local waiting staff and restaurant owners. Jane and I also make alot of salads and simple veggie dishes ourselves, we always travel with a good knife and some plates. This keeps costs down a little and means that we can pack loads of gorgeous local veggies into diets with relative ease. Overall, Turkey is a great country for vegan travel and much of the produce is organic and seasonal.
I made these cookies just before we left the Beach House for our travels around Turkey, Spain and India. They were a real hit with our friends over coffee and chats. As usual with our sweet things, they are an attempt at taking a gorgeous cake/ cookie recipe and making it as healthy as we can, without compromising on delicousness.
These baked beauts are packed with nutrition and low GI, all that shebang! They are also super tasty and almost a meal in themselves. After one of these for breakfast, we feel pretty much sated for the morning. We’ve basically put loads of the things that we love in a bowl and baked it, most are ingredients that we believe will do our body the most amount of good first thing in the morn. A novel way of approaching cookie making you may say?! But the cookie taste it there, it just so happens that we snook in a few wonder foods as well. We’ve got oats, flax seeds, bananas, maple syrup, brazil nuts, cinnamon……it’s like a health food shop condensed down into small disc of crispy happiness! All these things are going to make your body smile and sing.
Gluten free folk may like to try buckwheat flour or your favourite gluten free flour mix instead of the wholewheat flour, we haven’t tried it, but are sure it will lead to magic results. Gluten free oats are also readily available. You can also just use oats, but the cookies won’t quite have the density and firm texture that these will.
Fresh out of the the oven. Would you call this a cookie or a biscuit?
SO WHEN IS A BISCUIT A BISCUIT, AND A COOKIE A COOKIE?
I think this is a matter of cultural surroundings and varying criteria. Personally, a cookie is moist and chewy and a biscuit is crunchy and crumbly. Cookies are normally fatter and biscuits are thinner. Cookies are not traditional in the UK, so any new and magical ingredients normally take things in a cookie direction. What do you think? I know in the States biscuits are served with savoury dishes, they seem to be more like a semi-scone, but generally quite heavy. I know one thing, there is no way anybody would refer to these whoopers as a biscuit, maybe a ‘slab’ would be better way of describing them, or a ‘chunk’.
Use any variety of nuts and seeds here, whatever’s handy (although poppy seeds are probably best used only if you love ‘em dearly).
Once baked and cooled fully, these cookies will keep for a few days in a tight fitting container or biscuit tin and don’t just eat them for breakfast, eat them all day if you like!
Gluten-free flour mix and oats will be great in this recipe too.
Breakfast Cookies with Banana & Brazil Nuts
The Bits – 6-8 big cookies
200g Scottish oats (50g more reserved)
30g wholewheat flour
2 bananas (mashed with your hands or a fork)
3 tbs sunflower seeds
1 ½ tbs flax seeds
1 handful brazil nuts (roughly chopped)
200ml sunflower oil/ light olive oil
3 tbs maple syrup/ brown rice syrup/
1 teas bicarb of soda
1 ½ teas ground cinnamon
1 teas almond extract
In the mix
Preheat an fan oven to 180oC.
Mix together all the bits in a large bowl until a smooth dough is formed, then add the rest of the oats and stir in. This will give the cookies a little bite and texture.
For soft cookies bake for 10 minutes, for slightly crisper cookies, turn the tray and bake for a further 2-3 minutes.
Breakfast is served!
Using a flat spatula, place on a wire rack and leave for 15 minutes to cool. Best served with a nice big cuppa tea.
Many people believe bananas to be high GI (Glycemic Index) foods, meaning they release their carbohydrates straight into your blood stream and leave you with a ‘sugar spike’ that can lead to blood sugar level mayhem and long term ailments.
Bananas are actually low GI and are our friends, meaning they help against diabetes and keep our heart healthy. The greener your banana, the less sugar present. Plantains have the lowest sugar levels.
Redcurrant and Chia Breakfast Pot. Ready for action!
All you need for this easy and gorgeous vegan breakfast is a food processor and a fridge. It’s that super easy, lightning quick and totally nutritious. What a lovely, healthy start to the day.
Chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods known to man and are the nutritious seeds of a plant related to the mint family! Funky grass never tastes this good!! This tiny little seed acts a little like a sponge – becoming slimy and swelling up when soaked in liquid. Because of this, chia is best served mixed into something creamy and delicious…. in this case coconut milk! It can also be sprinkle on things liked salads or smoothies, like little seedy nutritional bombs!
This treat breakfast is also a perfect way to use up all those inevitable fruity autumn leftovers you (hopefully) have lurking in the corners of your fridge. We had some mango bits and some red-currants that worked perfectly, in a very random way. Sweet and sour…..bhom and mmmmmmm!
Any autumn berries would be find here, blackberries and elderberries spring to mind (as I can see them growing outside the window!) We have an awesome little project planned for the next couple of weeks when we make Beach House Garden Jam for the first time. Our plum tree has sought shelter under a dry stone wall, all the protected branches (from the vicious gales we get up here) are flourishing and its looking like a bumper plum crop this year. Add to that a healthy Barsdey apple presence from our new apple tree and the ubiquitous blackberries swathe that is taking over parts of the garden and we’re looking good for tasty, sugarfree jam this year. Does anybody know any good sugar free jam recipes?
For a more local/ accessible sweet fruit, why not go for a plum. Oh, plum and blackberries, now we are talking in a sensation and seasonal fashion.
With bags of redcurrants at this time of year, what better way to use them?!
The Bits – for 4
1 cup of vegan yoghurt
1 small mango (or sweet fruit of your choice)
4 handfuls of seasonal berries (whatever you have in your fridge)
500ml coconut milk
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 date (optional added sweetness)
1/2 cup of linseeds
4 drops vanilla extract
Blend the yoghurt and mango and pour into the serving glasses.
Make a berry layer on top using half of the berries.
Next blend up the coconut milk with the date (it sweetens the milk a little), pour out into a bowl, and mix in the chia seeds, linseeds, and vanilla extract. Put this in the fridge for 20 minutes to cool and swell (or for as long as you can resist it’s charms for).
When the chia mixture feels thick-ish, pour it on top of the fruit layer in the serving glasses. Finally top with the remainder of the fruit.
Can be kept in the fridge for a couple of hours but better served straight away – dive straight in!
The benefits of Chia seeds are far and wide, with vast quantities of Omega-3 good fats and fibre being particular highlights. Try drinking a large mug of lukewarm water with a chunk of lemon squeezed into it while you are preparing this breakfast, the perfect de-tox first thing in the morning.
Enjoy Xxx Sending you love this happy morning, Jane X
Quite a mad sounding smoothie, but we can’t get enough of it at the moment. It’s more of a breakfast pudding than a smoothie. You can drink it, but a spoon is probably the safer bet.
What we haven’t mentioned yet is that this smoothie is sweetened with banana, so its not all funky vegetal flavour, but actually well balanced and thick like beautiful green custard.
We experiment with all sorts of things in the blender and they normally work. Kale is fine, some cabbages are hard to take (especially when sweetness is involved in the mix), asparagus is fine and spinach is a real hero, melding into all sorts of flavour combos. Soaked nuts add dramatic richness, different milks are fun to play with and really anything that needs using up from the veg basket/ drawer can be smoothed out into something lovely and superbly nutritious. It’s floppy leaf territory.
Recently we juiced a parsnip with excellent results. Next up swede (rudabaga), which could prove quite a challenge. Turnip juice sounds fresh and sweet……
I think my body likes me even more when I give it a smoothie first thing, I can feel it smiling and appreciating the pureed magnificence.
Jane on a beach walk, near Bolunuevo, Mazzaron, Spain
The Bits – For 2
1 avocado (de-stoned), 1 bananas, glug of rice/ soya milk, 3 chard leaves (stems kept for a stir fry), handful coriander leaves (stems in or out)
Place all in a blender and blitz into a very thick smoothie.
We love it with a splash of milk on top, like a green pint of guiness, you can then mix the ‘head’ in with a spoon. It also looks very cool (the importance of which is never underestimated in the BHK).
We Love It!
Thick and green, two things we always appreciate, add sweet to the mix and sold.
Coriander (or cilantro) hails from the Mediterranean and like all green things boasts an almost ridiculous amount of antioxidants. It helps fight ‘bad cholesterols’ and has a brilliant range of vitamins. Coriander has one of natures highest levels of Vitamin K which helps us in so many ways, mainly assisting the bones in growth and repair.
A truly awesome start to any day, this just happened to be a Sunday. This is a low-rise cake, with aspirations to one day be a pancake.
Brazil nuts, berries, papaya, this is a decadent affair. Its the kind of thing you’d imagine the old Maharajas to be munching on in palaces on the Gangetic Plains. What Im trying to say is that this is decadent in the extreme and packed full of nutrition. I find normal fat pancakes, american style, a little on the heavy side. These Brazil Nut beauties have all the flavour without the post breakfast sag.
They can be made raw with a dehydrator, but we forgot to put ours on the night before, so we baked them like a cake in the oven and they turned out very well indeed.
The papaya is a real treat, making quite a change to all the apples and blackberries we have been eating at this time of year. What can I say, I am weak when it comes to papaya. They are one of my favourite things for breakfast. Even though the papayas that take the long flight over here are a little jaded and solid, I never tire of that unique flavour. I also love the seeds, they look like frog spawn.
THE BEAUTY OF BRAZILS!
Brazil nuts (or cream nuts) are always handled with great care in our kitchen. They seem impossibly hard to harvest and grow, so when I get hold of some, I reserve them for the best occasions and finest of company. When blended, they are so fatty, they resemble butter. Brazil Nut butter is the only thing that can compare with ‘real’ butter for creaminess and outrageous fattiness, only the fat here is not all saturated and of course, all plant based.
Brazil nut trees are mighty things, some of the highest and oldest trees in the Amazon region, growing to nearly 50 metres tall! Imagine climbing that to get to the nuts! Each one of these massive trees will only yield around 300 brazil nut pods per year and take at least 14 months to mature.
I am a little dodgy with gluten it seems, it makes my eczema go wild. Ground brazil nuts, like almonds, make a perfect substitute for flour and are much more nutritious. Brazil nut oil is also a wonder thing, great for massages and cooking. As if that wasn’t enough goodness for one nut, see the nutritional content in the Foodie Fact below.
The Beach House Kitchen has been as busy as ever, but you’d never guess it by the number of posts of late. Below are some of our cacao/ chocolate-style creations for the month. We’ve had friends and family visiting, so cakes have definitely been on the agenda. We really should type more, we’re just too busy cooking and eating!
Pancakes – 2 bananas, 1 1/2 cup brazil nuts, 1/2 cup raw cacao powder (or normal cocoa if you like), 1 cup flax seed meal, 2 teas cinnamon, 1/2 teas bicarb of soda, 1 cup water
Sauce – 1 small papaya, 1 small orange, 1 tbsp sweetener of choice (maple syrup, rice syrup etc)
Finish with chopped bananas and berries (we used raspberries and blueberries) and a few chopped brazil nuts (we used almonds bizarrely).
Preheat an oven to 200oC
In a food processor, add your brazil nut and pulse them until broken down, but still a little chunky. Almost to the texture of ground almonds, but not quite.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except the water, blend together and add the water a little a time. You are looking for a thick, double cream like texture, a little thicker than a normal pancake.
Pour into a well oiled, circular spring form pan and pop in the oven for 15 minutes. It will rise nicely into a low-rise cake of sorts, but still in the realm of pancake.
Whilst this is occuring, wipe out your FP and place all sauce ingredients in. Blend until smooth. Thats that.
Chop up and wash your toppings ready for action.
In slices, drizzled with the sauce and festooned with topping galore. What a treat for those weary Sunday mornings when the loss of Saturday just seems too much.
If you are hungry and feeling extravagant (even more so!) then you can stack these pancakes into some form of wonder tower, layered with the toppings and sauce.
We Love It!
Dessert for breakfast is something we wholeheartedly condone in these parts. ‘Nuff said.
Brazil nuts are such a gift. Individually wrapped, hanging from a beautiful fruit. Originally a delicious source of protein for the people of the Amazon, now enjoyed by us all, they are fatty, rich and packed full of nutrients.
Being so buttery, Brazil nuts are high in calories and fats. The great news is that a large portion of these fats are mono-unsaturated, making them good for the heart and preventing strokes.
Brazil nuts also boast great levels of Vitamin E (good for the cells) and Selenium (they are the highest natural source of this mineral). Selenium works with anti-oxidant enzymes to keep cancer, coronary disease and cirrhosis at bay.
Brazil nuts are also good for the vitamin B’s and are full of minerals like copper and magnesium.
Here’s what else has been hitting the ovens recently:
Baked Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Hazelnut Base
Kiwi and Tahini Custard Tart with Cacao and Cashew Base
Jane’s Double Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam
If you’d like any of these recipes, just let us know.