gluten-free

Cooling Watermelon, Tofu & Mint Salad

Cooling Watermelon, Tofu and Mint Salad

It’s getting HOT over here!

I realise that most of you don’t need cooling down, but we do. Its baking in our little place in the coconut grove, Goa. This is the most cooling and simple salad I could think of with the added benefits of tasting very awesome and also bags of sparkling nutrition.

We don’t have a kitchen so we’re loving playing with salads, of the fruity sweet variety and killer savoury ones normally with tahini dressing. We’ve a great supply of locally made tahini and tofu, it’s making us very happy. It’s been about a year since I’ve enjoyed one of my favourite things, tahini I could eat on anything and everything.  I love the creamy flavour and it’s of course, one of the best sources of calcium around.

Whilst taking these pictures we had to fend of Indra the local alpha bull geezer, a speckled massive creature with impressive horns. He’s a bit of a punk and loves nibbling things when we sit near the edge of our terrace. His tongue is outrageously long, something like a mighty iguana. Especially good at hoovering up stray bananas.  Cheeky chap, but we’ve a soft spot from his brusque greediness. He eats all of our peelings and I think looks a little happier afterwards. Other animals hanging around the coconut grove today are large woodpeckers, egrets, a family of buffalos, stripy chipmunks, a pack of semi-feral yet friendly mongrels, wild peacocks at dawn, fish eagles, many funky lizards, a praying mantis and probably loads of other amazing little things. Mosquitos, some. Families of geckos, yes. Anyway, we’re a food blog right!…….

If you’re in northern Europe, maybe save this one until summer hits (or turn the heating right up!) If you’re in more southern climes, this one is a light and cooling lunch for two that also looks a bit sexy.


Recipe Notes

The chillies are a great little kick, but optional.

The tofu quality is important when being eaten cool like this. See if you can get some good stuff, the tofu here is rich and creamy, slightly crumbly like feta. Perfect for salads. Add a squeeze of lemon, a little salt and come nooch (nutritional yeast flakes) if you have them for extra feta like cheesiness.

Watermelons are always huge. We’ll only use a little here so why not try cutting it into cubes, freezing it and using it as exotic ice cubes in your favourite juice/ cocktail. Of course, blended up with cucumber, lemon and mint (maybe a touch of sweetness), your looking at a wonderful smoothie.

I’ve seen some people taking the pips/ seeds out of their watermelon.  It’s a total waste of time!  Just crunch them down, they are not bitter at all.


The Bits – For 2 lunch

250g firm tofu (cubed)
1 cucumber (peeled and cubed)
2 cups watermelon (cubed)
2 tbs fresh mint (finely sliced – do this last)
Pinch salt
Squeeze lemon juice

1 green chilli (finely sliced) – optional

Dressing
2 heaped tbs tahini
½ lemon (juice)
Water
Pinch salt

Do It
Cut the melon, cucumber and tofu into similar sized cubes.

Squeeze a little lemon and a pinch of salt over the tofu and toss lightly.

Mix your dressing together with a fork adding drizzles of water and stirring in until a single cream texture is formed.

Mix your mint in with the tofu and place in the centre of a large plate. Surround in layers with your melon and cucumber. Sprinkle over leftover mint and chilli (if using)

Best served with a sunset;) From Zoori’s Place – Anjuna, Goa

Foodie Fact
We’re going to let Macka B take over the foodie fact, so many incredible health giving properties to the humble cucumba!!!!

Check out our latest Vegan Cooking Retreats HERE or join our Vegan Cooking Group on Facebook for more info, recipes and chat

Happy cooking!

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Music, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Salads, Summer, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Roasted Cauliflower Hearts with Hazelnuts and Creamy Asparagus Sauce

Roasted Cauliflower Hearts with Hazelnuts and Creamy Asparagus Sauce

Roasted Cauliflower Hearts with Hazelnuts and Creamy Asparagus Sauce

I know this may sound complicated, but it ain’t!  A light and simple summer time lunch which is a bit of a looker and won’t have you hanging out in the kitchen or shops for too long. The method is so easy and there are only a handful of ingredients. You want to be outside right, dancing in the sunshine, listening to reggae!!!

This is what you could call a restaurant style dish, I served it recently to some friends and it’s that kind of Saturday night dinner party plate. Dishes like this look much more complicated than they actually are, I think that makes for a good restaurant dish. Making our lives easier in the kitchen doesn’t mean the quality and presentation of food has to suffer. The contrary is generally true. The more chilled and effortless we are in the kitchen, the better the end product. Thats how it works in the BHK anyway!

KING CAULI
Cauliflower is so versatile and its finely getting some real kudos in the ‘foodie’ world. Long overdue! I actually endured the glorious cauliflowers former incarnation recently, that drab and vacuous, steamed way beyond death thing, that graces serving dishes in function rooms across Britain. It was at a wedding. Any flavour that the poor florets had were mercilessly boiled out. What a shame, I only hope they used the stock.

Cauli makes our sauce here super creamy, it actually contains pectin, like apples, which helps to thicken things up nicely. I use cauliflower in soups and stews when looking for a touch of silky creaminess. I’ve even used cauliflower in a chocolate torte which was actually really nice. It was for my Mum’s 60th birthday cake, which was admittedly, a bit of a risk. But no one could have guessed, primarily because I didn’t tell them about the secret ingredient until after they’d eaten at least two slices and showered compliments on the richness of the torte etc. Then I went in, a bit smug. No one was that surprised. They know what I’m like.

Of course, we’re all crazy for roasted cauliflower at the minute and bar maybe potatoes, few veggies can match cauli when it is nicely caramelised and a bit charred around the edges. Yumah!

A plate fit to grace a party

A plate fit to grace a party

Recipe Notes
You’ll probably have a little too much sauce from this recipe. You can thin it down with vegetable stock to make a lovely soup.

If your hazelnuts are not toasted, just pop them on a baking tray and into the oven for 10 minutes. Keep your eye on them.

You can easily cook the cauliflower on a bbq if you prefer. Cauliflower is perfect for all kinds of bbq style behaviour.

Asparagus can be substituted for a number of veggies in this dish. What ever is looking good and seasonal, I’m thinking peas, broad beans, kale, even peppers or squash. Cauliflower is fairly neutral and takes well to many other veggie flavours.

I served this with pan fried mushrooms and spinach with roasted potatoes. Unless you are looking for a light meal, I’d advised some of your favourite, complementarty sides.

The BitsFor 4
1.25 kg cauliflower (a big one)
600g asparagus spears
3 cloves garlic
500ml soya milk (unsweetened)
1 big handful toasted hazelnuts (finely chopped)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Do It
Preheat an oven to 225oC.

Cut off the asparagus tips (first three-five inches), then chop the stems until you get to the woody bit. Try some, if it’s fibrous, you’ve gone too far.

Trim the leaves off the cauliflower by slicing off the majority of the base stem. Then cut into 3/4 inch slices straight across, use a long knife. Now cut off the ‘hearts’ of cauliflower, basically nicely shaped florets. The more broken, smaller pieces of cauliflower, add to a saucepan for the sauce. This should be roughly 1/2 the cauliflower. Use any leftover pieces of stem for the sauce.

Drizzle some oil onto a large oven tray, add the cauliflower hearts and season with salt and pepper. Toss a little so they are covered with oil and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Until they are well caramelised, I’m talking dark brown colours and charred bits here.

Add the soya milk and garlic to the cauliflower in the saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is just breaking down. Add the asaparagus and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes more then leave to cool. You can do this in advance, preferably before the cauliflower is roasting in the oven. Using a stick blender or food processor, blitz the sauce until nice and smooth.

Just before serving, grab a frying pan, add a dash of oil and on a high heat, cook the asparagus tips. Fry for 5 minutes, until they caramelise and then season with a touch of salt and pepper.

Serve on big warm plates, add a few spoons of sauce to the centre, use a spoon to form a circle/ square (depending on the shape of your plate), form a row of asparagus tips along the centre, with four large cauliflower florets either side. Finish with a good scattering of hazelnuts. Or anyway you fancy.

This kind of dish demands a nice glass of chilled white wine (with or without bubbles).

Enjoy!!!!!

Enjoy!!!!!

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Butter Bean, Lemon and Black Olive Salad – A Real Taste of Murcia!

Butter Bean, Lemon and Black Olive Salad

Butter Bean, Lemon and Black Olive Salad

A simple sunshine salad which makes a great quick summertime lunch.  Ideal served as a side or starter, add some chunky croutons or toasted nuts for a more substantial dish.

The sun is coming and with it comes sprouting a host of beautiful fruits and vegetables. Summer is an exciting time of year, we can finally don shorts again and be collectively surprised at how white our feet are! The flip flops are out in force, maybe a vest and we’re into the garden with salads and fizzy glasses. Certainly in Spain, salads are an every day delight.

There is a global constant that baffles me. You visit local markets and shops (this does not apply to the sub-Saharan region) and there are a wonderful selection of fruits and veggies displayed. You then go to the restaurant next door to find that none of the lovely local fruits and veggies are present on the menu. It’s a strange old situation. The world is addicted to potatoes and tomatoes it seems. Murcia is similar. Although this is the ‘garden’ of Spain, and possibly Europe, a Murcian salad consists of onion, tomato and some black olives (plus tinned tuna if you’re particularly unlucky). This is my version of the local salad using things we can all get our hands on.

You can’t just throw things into your finest salad bowl and expect magical results, salads need a little thought. There’s a balance there. I’d say always gently handle and chop your ingredients and toss them together with care. You want a nice combo of flavours and textures, without over doing it. Salads are our chance to showcase amazing produce and whenever possible, lets buy good stuff for our salads. You might be able to hide vacuous tomatoes in a stew, but in a salad, they just look so lame.

Puerto Mazarron market in full swing

Puerto Mazarron market in full swing

DOWN AT ‘EL MERCADO ESTUPENDO’

I’ve just been down to the local Sunday market here in Mazarron and beeeee jeehzus there is a startling array of amazing produce at the minute. Piled up like technicolour forts; melons like beachballs, bewildering varieities of tomato action, gangs of crimson peppers so deep and vivid, every conceivable shade of olive and crispy, fresh donuts (churros). Well, they seem to balance up all the healthy veggie behaviour. Spain is hot in weather and generally, super chilled in attitude. My kind of combo. ‘Manana!’ (tomorrow) is the Murcian moto. Their crest is probably a tranquil terrace scene, but I can’t verify that. Today is for enjoying…..

I rock up mid-morning just after the donut breakfast feast that’s washed down with goblets of brandy or thick coffee (maybe beer) sometimes a combination of them all will lashing of condensed milk and randomly, nutmeg. It’s a coffee called an Asiatico and is more like several desserts in a small glass swimming in a few shots of black espresso. If you’re lucky, you can score a fresh orange juice, but expect at least two funny looks as you make your way back to a wobbly plastic chair in the sun. Sunday is a good day here.

There is a whole host of other items sold at the market; counterfeit cd’s, plants, leggings, trees and the occasional pot or pan or pot plant. There is also a very cool pan pipe band from Peru who belt out all the classics. I must say, I just focus on edibles. I have a routine, I sweep past with an empty backpack, the first pass. I am above temptation. I don’t buy anything. This is a strict regime, fact finding, and essential for quality control and price comparison. There is no Asda price in Murcia, you’ve got to do the leg work and have hawk like instincts. Bargains are fleeting and sometimes well disguised.

I asses the form and then stop for a well earned cafe americano (sometimes plus a few crispy donuts). If I don’t have donuts, the lady will feel sorry for me and give me some anyway. Older ones from the bottom of the pile. A donut constant that I go with. Then the fun begins. I have pockets of small change and throw myself into the crowds of haggling Spanish and Moroccan housewives, all at least half my size and double my strength, who posses pin sharp elbows. Dead legs and worse have been known around the olive stand and especially at the bargain tomato family and always at the toothless apple dude.

Tomatoes - so many new types to try in Murcia

Tomatoes – so many new types to try in Murcia

The olive stand is a piece of work, ran by three generations of a family. It seems they’ll pickle or preserve anything going. Capers, caperberries, garlic, cucumbers, pink pickled onions the size of a cricket ball, the olives are pretty hot too. You’ll always get a few freebie tasters if you offer equally confused and intrigued expressions. Have you tried a purple olive? I went for some bitter bright green local olives today, they love their bitter olives in these parts, stuffed with lemon rind, minced onion and rosemary. Quite a thing I can assure you.

I know each stand intimately by now, after ten years, I’m one of the villages most well schooled veg selector. They all have their stregths and weaknesses and I try to spread the wealth (amounting to a few euros) around. I’d say on average, the fruit and veg here is at least 1/3 price in a UK supermarket. The Spanish supermarkets also charge more than Mazarron market. The market shifts from town to town, four days a week, I’ve been to each location but the Sunday one is the best. People are letting there hair down and there is a sense of celebration, most of the stall owners clutch a cold can of beer, churches occasionally ring bells and you’re never far from a chuckle or guffaw.

It’s a tough old life in Spain guys!! I’ll keep the sunny plant-based correspondence flowing. Here’s what I did with todays haul.

Mazarron sunsets are regularly a bit special

Mazarron sunsets are regularly a bit special

Recipe Notes
For a more filling salad, drizzle some bread with olive oil and toast under a grill. Roughly chop up and toss in a little more oil, a pinch of salt and a few pinches of dried herbs like oregano and thyme. Scatter over the salad before serving.

Pickled garlic is not that easy to find but it is a superstar ingredient. Use a couple of cloves of fresh garlic instead, it’s worth noting that the flavour is different, pickled garlic is sweet and mild tasting pretty well pickled! I find it quite addictive and sometimes just eat it straight up, I find its quite nice served with nibbles.

I find the lemon and a good extra virgin olive oil is more than enough dressing wise.

Spain boasts very fat and creamy butter beans. Seek out some beauties for this salad, they are one of the highlights.

Using pitted olives is a good idea.  An unexpected olive stone is always an unwanted crunch.

Great with some toasted croutons or a handful or toasted almonds

Great with some toasted croutons or a handful or toasted almonds

The BitsFor 4 as main course, 6-8 as side salad/ starter

500g cooked or 2 tins butterbeans (the fatter, the better)
1 small sweet onion or 3 spring onions (finely sliced)
6 medium sized tomatoes (ripe and sweet)
1 handful pickled garlic cloves (roughly chopped)
1/2 courgette (diced)
1/2 cucumber (diced)
1 head baby gem lettuce or similar (sliced)
2 big handfuls black olives

1 handful parsley (finely sliced)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon (juice and zest)
Salt and pepper

Do It
Place all ingredients in a large salad bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil and the juice and zest of one lemon. Toss gently together with your hands.

Scatter over the parsley, some salt and pepper and croutons if your using them. Serve with more wedges of lemon if you fancy a little more zing and extra virgin olive oil for drizzling.

2016-05-08 17.05.07

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Lunch, photography, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Summer, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Chickpea, Date and Potato Tagine

Chickpea, Date and Potato Tagine

Chickpea, Date and Potato Tagine

Tagine is a great summer time staple, a light stew with lovely spice and hints of sweetness from the dates. The perfect place for brilliant seasonal vegetables, a straightforward and ideal addition to your mid week special board!

In Morocco, tagines are a showcase for the amazing local produce. The stock base is just the cooking juices of the vegetables and a little salt, no added stock needed. You know how good your veggies are, its a good test actually. If this tagine is tasteless, its all down to the produce (add a little veg stock).

I went to Morocco straight from Mexico and I remember being hungry quite a lot. I was travelling on hope and pennies and there was certainly not the range of cheap street eats that you find everywhere in Mexico. It was a bit of a shock to the system. When I found a place that did cook veggie food, normally cous cous or tagine, it was a real find. There was normally then a wait while the cook/ owner went out to but the vegetables and cook the tagine. I travelled in mostly rural areas and this could mean a long wait for dinner/ lunch. Still mint tea always flowed easy and the pace of life in Morocco suits me down to the ground. Life ebbs by nice and easy.

Happy hobs:)

Happy hobs:)

Let’s face it, most of us don’t have a proper tagine (the cooking vessel). That’s fine, we can still call it a tagine (just don’t tell your Moroccan mates!) As you’d imagine, we do have a tagine dish. It is normally used as a fruit bowl and I’m always looking for an excuse to use it. A tagine is actually a brilliant shape and design to cook vegetables and cous cous to perfection. You need very little water as the heavy lid keeps in most of the water, it acts as something like a pressure cooker. I find this especially helpful when cooking cous cous.

I like a good mix of veggies in my tagines and potatoes are very important base to other more glamorous (you know what I mean) veg like aubergine, peppers etc. The potatoes have the added benefit of making the tagine sauce thick when they begin to break down.

The flavour or Morocco (in a little jar), just add amazing veggies

The flavour or Morocco (in a little jar), just add amazing veggies

I always bang on about fresh spice, but it makes a huge difference. Many spices have been lurking around our cupboards for a while and may be past their sensational best. Ras El Hanout is the traditional spice mix used, but you know what, other spice mixes can be added to make a tasty stew. Think garam masala, curry mixes, berbere, jerk style mixes. The basic technique will be the same, just experiment with the spice quantity.

I’ve been cooking all over the UK in the past month, it seems like a different kitchen every night! I love it!! I’ve found most people have really good kitchens and its interesting to try out different ovens and cook with a range of pots, pans and utensils. Most people have some amazing kit, much better than the stuff I’ve got!!!  This tagine was made in Durham a few days ago, my Dad who you probably know by now was like me, a real, full power, carnivore and is now going through a real shift. He’s making his own twelve veggie stew at home. I knew Dad would dig this and he says he’ll be trying it out again soon. It’s always wicked when your loved ones enjoy what you make.

Not Durham!  Sunset from the terrace last night in Spain

Not Durham! Sunset from the terrace last night in Spain

Recipe Notes

Tagines are normally chunky. Cut all the veggies into roughly 1 1/2 inch chunks.

As a variation, you can substitute the dates with dried apricots and use whatever vegetables are good and seasonal, easy to get hold of.

My friend Abdul, who lives in a cave near the Sahara, swears by a nice glug of olive oil when serving a tagine. It adds extra richness and gives the sauce a shimmer.

To make things extra special, adding a few handfuls of greens just before you serve the tagine would be nice. Something like spinach, kale or chard. Spring greens are awesome, just add then about five minutes before serving, they take a bit more cooking.

Do not use a metal spoon or spatula to stir stews, unless you want the vegetables to break down. A trusty wooden spoon is perfect.

We cooked quinoa to serve the tagine with, instead of the traditional cous cous. Gluten free and delicious, its also packed with massive amounts of goodness/ nutrition.

2016-04-28 19.00.21

Simple summer special!

The Bits – For 6-8

2 tbs cooking oil
1 onion (peeled and sliced)
2 inches fresh ginger (peeled and finely sliced)
½ medium butternut squash (peeled and chopped)

4 small potatoes (chopped)

2 bell peppers (deseeded and chopped)

1 aubergine (chopped)

4 large tomatoes (chopped)

250g/1 tin chickpeas
16 dates (de-stoned and cut in half)
4 tbs tomato paste
3 tbs ras el hanout spice mix
1 3 inch cinnamon stick
400ml hot water
Salt (to taste)

Serving
A little good olive oil, fresh coriander and extra spice

Do It

This is an easy one…….

In a large frying pan or saucepan on medium heat, add the oil and fry the onions and ginger for five minutes until soft, then add the other vegetables, cinnamon, spices and some salt. Stir and fry for two minutes then add the tomatoes, dates, tomato puree and water.

Stir gently and pop on a loose fitting lid and cook on a steady simmer for 35-40 minutes, until the potatoes are just breaking down. Season with a little more salt to taste.

Serve with cous cous, topped with a drizzled of olive oil, fresh coriander and a sprinkle of extra spices.

Nice with some greens!  (Isn't everything;)

Nice with some greens! (Isn’t everything;)

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, photography, Recipes, Stew, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Roast Potato and Cumin Frittata with a Farro and Cannellini Bean Salad

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Roast Potato and Cumin Frittata with Farro and Cannellini Bean Salad (Vegan)

I had a great time on BBC Radio Wales recently, a little thing they do called ‘Foodie Friday’.  It was the wonderful Eleri Sion show (although Tom was standing in) and we mainly talked about how accessible and incredible a vegan lifestyle is and coconut scones, but I did mention one of my very favourite dishes at the moment, a simple and really nutritious vegan frittata.  Plant power for all!!  I just had to share the recipe.

Tom mentioned that vegan food can be more time consuming to cook than a lump of meat with vegetables, which may well be true for some dishes, but this frittata is so easy and straightforward and as with all vegan cooking, substitutions can be made, things can be swapped, veggies played with, happiness unearthed, taste buds dance a merry jig.  It’s always easier when you’re done it, so lets do it!

This is a lovely light Italian lunch with a twist.  I just can’t help myself!  Cumin seeds are one of my favourite ingredients (along with gram flour) and they bring a subtle and deep spice to this dish.  I know that cumin is not exactly traditionally Italian, but I’m sure they’ll forgive me!  Especially if they get to try this frittata.  Molto delizioso! (Which means pretty dang nice in Italian)

Spring is taking its gentle hold on North Wales and the nights are lighter and the sun is making reappearance after a long winter.  Its such a beautiful time of year and we are naturally turning to lighter foods.

This frittata is a brilliant way to use up gorgeous roasted vegetables, either freshly roasted or leftovers.  The other night, after some very posh curry and chips (see below), I pondered how to use the leftover potatoes.  It’s been a while since our last Spain time and I know Jane loved Potato Tortillas so this was a no brainer.  I know the art of romance, surprise frittata!

Posh chips and curry sauce - a Beach House classic made with local organic roasted potatoes and a spicy masala sauce (recipe from Peace & Parsnips)  Yumah!

Posh chips and curry sauce – a Beach House classic made with local organic roasted potatoes and a spicy masala sauce (recipe from Peace & Parsnips) Yumah!

Roasties!!!!!!!!

Roasties!!!!!!!!

A tortilla is basically a Spanish name for an unfolded omelette.  Most people will cook this in a pan and then grill it (this is also called a ‘Frittata’ in Italy or even a ‘Kuku’ in Iran – confused yet?!) but I’ve made it easier, pop it in the oven and all is well.  In fact, omellete’s seem to be a staple in most countries I visit, from North Africa to India, the world loves an omellete.  Making it a vegan delight is quick and easy.  I’ve cooked this for many non-vegans and they love it, a few glugs of olive oil for richness and no one misses those strange oval chicken things.

Looking good with a plenty of fresh coriander (although parsley is probably slightly more Italian)

Looking good with a plenty of fresh coriander (although parsley is probably slightly more Italian)

THATS LUNCH!

Frittata is very happy when paired with a grain salad and some green leaves.  That’s lunch!  I’ve made a little Farro and Canellini Bean Salad, packed with crunch and the wholesome feel of the farro, served with some top salad leaves from our local organic farm.  When the leaves are this good, with amazing vitality, fresh flavour and texture, I just give them a quick rinse and tear them up with my hands.  Finely slicing amazing salad leaves just seems like a waste.  I love to see their shapes.

FUTURE SALADS

I am constantly blown away by the diversity of flavours in the plant word and salad leaves, sprouts and cresses are a real joy for me.  At the recent Discovering Vegan Cooking Retreat that we ran at Trigonos, we were privileged to try a load of different cress and leaves.  The flavours were all over the shop, many shocking and delightful in equal measure; some subtle, some full-on.  All suggested that in the near future, salads will be getting much, much more interesting.  Trust me, you ain’t tried nothing like this!

Crazy Cress!  Such a diverse range of flavours and colours all wrapped up in tiny, tiny leaves.  Very interesting.

Crazy Cress! Such a diverse range of flavours and colours all wrapped up in tiny, tiny little leaves. Very interesting.  Boom!!    

Recipe Notes

You can also use this gram flour mix for omelette’s cooked in a pan or as a filling for a vegan quiche or tart.  A baked gram flour pancake in Italy is known as a Farinata and its one of the best things ever.

For a lighter frittata, why not add 1/3 teas baking powder to the gram flour and then stir in the water.

Farro is basically Italian Spelt, meaning that some people who are gluten intolerant can handle it.  If you are off gluten, try using buckwheat or even quinoa.

Due to my intense love of veggies, this salad is light on grains.  I like a high veg ratio in any dish.

Farro and Cannellini Salad

Farro and Cannellini Salad – packed with crunch and vitality

The Bits – For 4-6

Frittata

250g roasted potatoes (or similar quantity of any roasted vegetables)

2 small onions

2 tbsp olive oil

¾ teas cumin seeds

½ teas turmeric

150g gram flour

225ml water

1/3 teas salt

Large pinch pepper
Garnish 

½ handful Fresh Coriander or Parsley (finely chopped)

½ handful Crushed Walnuts (optional)

 

Farro and Cannellini Bean Salad

100g faro (I use quick cook type)

1 small kohlrabi (finely diced)

3 handfuls leek (finely sliced)

½ yellow pepper (finely diced)

1 handful toasted pumpkin seeds

1 handful pitted green olives (sliced)

½ lemon (juice)

200g cannellini beans

4 radishes (sliced into thin batons)

1 handful parsley chopped

Couple of pinches of salt and pepper

Very simple salad, torn leaves.  No need to mess.  Delicious!

Very simple salad, torn leaves. No need to mess. Delicious!

Do It

Frittata

Preheat an oven to 200oc.

Grab a 10 inch non-stick baking dish, round looks good but you could always use a square one.  If you are not sure about the non-stickiness of the dish, line it with baking parchment.

Drizzle in a little oil, add the cumin seeds, onions and a couple of pinches of salt.  Toss together and place in the oven.  Roast for 15 minutes, stir, roast again for 10 minutes, stir, roast again for 10 minutes, by this time the onions should be nicely caramelised and golden.  Set aside.

While the onions are in the oven, in a large bowl, add the gram flour along with the turmeric, olive oil and a couple pinches of salt.  Stir together and then gradually pour in the water whilst stirring, until a thick and smooth batter forms.

Add your potatoes to the oven dish, mixing them in with the onions.  Pour over the batter and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the frittata.

Pop in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the frittata is firm and getting nice and golden on top.  Cut into slices and drizzle over a little more olive oil and a sprinkle of coriander/ parsley.  A few toasted walnuts are also delicious.

Can be served warm or cold.

Salad

In a saucepan, bring roughly 1 litre water to a rolling boil, add the farro and simmer for 10-12 minutes.  Until the grains are soft.  Drain and refresh with cold water.  Set aside.

Once the grains have cooled, toss everything together in a big bowl.  Serve with your favourite dressing and ideally, a nice big slab of frittata.

Vegan frittata - ideal and super nutritious Spring lunch

Vegan frittata – ideal and super nutritious Spring lunch

My dressing for this was using pomegranate molasses, english mustard and sherry vinegar, with a light olive oil and a touch of salt and maple syrup.

My dressing for this was using pomegranate molasses, english mustard and sherry vinegar, with a light olive oil and a touch of salt and maple syrup.  Worked nicely!  

Foodie Fact

Did you know that potatoes are a good source of protein, iron, fibre and vitamin C?  I sometimes overlook how nutritious potatoes are.

Gram or Chickpea flour is another ingredient to get excited about (of you’re that way inclined).  I love using the stuff!  It makes for a brilliant egg replacer, when stirred with a little water, in baking and is sooooooooo versatile.  Helpfully, its also gluten-free and packed with nutrition.  High in

When buying gram flour, it may be called Besan (unroasted) or Chana (roasted) flour.  They both have slightly different flavours.  Chickpea flour has twice the amount of protein that wholewheat flour has and six times the amount of protein compared to white flour.  It is also very high in folates and healthy unsaturated fats and is a good source of vitamin B6, iron and magnesium.

Wales is so beautiful in early spring - taken at Trigonos, Nantlle Valley, North Wales

Wales is so beautiful in early spring – taken at Trigonos, Nantlle Valley, North Wales

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Lunch, Nutrition, Organic, photography, Recipes, Salads, Spring, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Quick Carrot and Ginger Pickle plus Five Health Benefits of Ginger

Quick and easy - Carrot and Ginger Pickle

Quick and easy – Carrot and Ginger Pickle

This is the perfect accompaniment to your Saturday night curry feast!  Curry makes any weekend extra special.

I like shop bought pickles, it’s generally what you eat in restaurants in India. Although the very best pickles I’ve ever eaten have been home made (no surprises there then!) Mango, lime and mixed pickles are my favs but I had a few nice carrots in the kitchen, so I thought I’d give this a go. The spice combination and method can be used for most firm, sweet veggies, pumpkin or squash for example also work very well. This is very much a milder pickle don’t expect that eye-popping and taste bud tickling saltiness.  Its mellow like a mango pickle with spicy bells on with a nice sweet and sour chilli-ness.

The drawback of most shop bought pickles is the salt. In India I have noticed pickles are used sparingly, a couple of teaspoons per meal. In Britain, I think we can overdo it sometimes and all that salt is just not cool. The lovely thing about taking a wholefood approach, making an effort to cook much of your food at home, is that you know whats going into your dishes. We can moderate the sugar and salt levels here accordingly.

FIVE HEALTH BENEFITS OF GINGER
Really ginger is more like a medicine than a food!  It is just so good for us.  Some people get a little freaked out when I start talking about the health properties of food, but I can’t help myself!!  I love to know that the food I enjoy is actually doing me some good, not just tasting amazing, but filling me with nutrition and vitality.  Healthy food is not the worthy, boring grey slop of old, its the bright and very tasty future for us all!

  1. Anti-oxidant – Ginger contains a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory called gingerol.  It is one of the natural oils in ginger which gives it such a powerful aroma.  Ginger may also help to prevent cancer and helps to fight infections.
  2. Helps Nausea – Many people use ginger to treat nausea like morning sickness and sea sickness.
  3. Lowers Cholesterol – Ginger has been shown in many studies to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol and has even been shown to lower blood sugar levels.
  4. Helps the brain – Studies show that ginger can help to prevent age-related damage to the brain and improve brain function in elderly people.
  5.  Can help to treat chronic indigestion and pre-menstrual aches – Food containing ginger leave the stomach quicker, beneficial for people who suffer from indigestion.  It may also help reduce pre-menstrual pains if taken at the start of the menstrual cycle.  It has shown to be as effective as taking drugs like Ibuprofen.

Ginger is most certainly one of those foods worthy of the ‘superfood’ name!

Back to pickle.  Enjoy this tangy, spicy pickle with flat breads and of course, a curry or two for company. It also goes down well in sandwiches and I even like it on toast in the morning. Remember, I also eat chillies for breakfast on occasion. I understand that it’s a slightly more intense affair than strawberry jam.

 

The Bits – Makes 1 jar or serves 4-6

450g carrot (peeled and cut thin half moons – slice anyway you like really as long as its thin)

1 onion (finely sliced)

3 tbs ginger (finely sliced or grated)

3 tbsp oil

½ tsp fenugreek seeds

1 1/2 teas cumin seeds

1 teas coriander seeds (the smaller ones are best)

5 whole dried red chillies (cut in half length ways – more if you love chilli)

1 ½ tsp turmeric

2 tsp salt

5 tbsp unrefined sugar

1/2 lemon (juice)

Very simple recipe:)

Very simple recipe with brilliant results:)

Do It

If you are jarring the pickle and looking to preserve it for a while, sterilise the jars by either boil the jar and lid in a pan of water or bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Add the oil to a large saucepan on medium heat and when hot pop in the fenugreek, cumin seeds and dried chillies. Fry until they pop, a minute or less, then add the carrot, onion and ginger, fry for five minutes.

Add the salt and turmeric, stir and lower heat, cover the pan and leave to cook until the carrot is soft, 20 minutes. Add the sugar and lemon juice stir, warm through for a minute and then leave to cool.

This pickle can be enjoyed once cooled or preserved for later tasty times. It will keep nicely in a sealed container for a week.

Quick Carrot and Ginger Pickle

Quick Carrot and Ginger Pickle

Serve

With your favourite curry or like I said, good on toast!

Foodie Fact 

See above – we’ve got ginger covered.

We've been loving the winter sunshine down on the beach.

We’ve been loving the winter sunshine down on the beach.

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Rock hoppin

Dinas Dinlle beach on a sunny day - fresh, fresh air

Dinas Dinlle beach on a sunny day – fresh, fresh air

Categories: Chutney, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Side Dish, Superfoods, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Blender Banana and Pecan Pancakes with Chocolate Sauce (Gluten-free)

Blender Banana and Pecan Pancakes (Gluten-free)

Blender Banana and Pecan Pancakes (Gluten-free)

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 like pecans any way they come......

What is it about pecans, maple syrup and pancakes?!

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!

One of my heroes...as an 8 year old. Banana Man!

Do you remember this man? One of my heroes…as an 8 year old. Banana Man!!!!

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.

SAUCY IDEAS

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.

Recipe Note

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.

These pancakes are easy flippers, no messing about for you this pancake night.

These pancakes are easy flippers, no messing about for you this pancake night.

The Bits – 12 mini pancakes (serves 2)
2 ripe bananas
1/2 teas bicarb of soda
1 handful pecans
4 tbs white gluten-free flour mix
3 tbs buckwheat flour
150ml soya milk (or plant milk of choice)
1/2 teas vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Dark chocolate

Coconut oil

Do It

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.

Serve

Enjoy with your favourite sauce or topping.  You know the one……

Get them while they're hot!

Get them while they’re hot!

Foodie Fact

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!

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

Baked Mushrooms with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Walnuts

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Baked Mushrooms with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Walnuts

Just such and easy and flavoursome number!  The kind of dish you could serve as a main course or starter  at a dinner party (aka when you’re trying to look a bit flash in the kitchen) and really not go to any great trouble.

One of the main reasons for me popping this recipe on the BHK is the wonderful Vegan Recipe Hour, happening soon over on Twitter.  A great place for vegan cooking inspiration and tonight the theme is……well……MUSHROOMS!

They look lovely and pack some intense flavours; mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted nuts, pesto, these are some of the bedrocks of richness and savoury flavours in a vegan cooks locker.  Combined……POW!  I’d also like to mention that this is most definitely healthy.

UMAMI!

One of the five basic tastes and a word that sounds like something Vic and Bob would exclaim (with loads of reverb) mid ‘Shooting Stars’.  If you are not British, this may take some explaining…..this clip might help.

Umami is a savoury taste in things like mushrooms, nuts, fermented foods like miso and tamari, yeast extract, seaweed and sun dried tomatoes, they’re packed with that mysterious and delicious flavour that acts like catnip to our tastebuds.  We know we love it!

The history of umami can be found here and it is of course the source of MSG.  Its natures MSG, which means all the crazy good flavour without the unpleasant side effects.  Many rich and flavourful plant based meals use something umami as a base.

BEST JOB IN THE WORLD!

Some of you may know that I cook at a glorious retreat centre in Snowdonia, Trigonos.  (Queue a quick plug for the retreat and workshop I’m running soon –  ‘Discovering Vegan Cooking’).  I have started to make these mushrooms for lunch there and they always go down a treat.  Greater than the sum of their preparation skills and time.  The sign of a winning restaurant dish, especially when you’re working in the kitchen!  This is a dish I choose when I’m giving myself a bit of a break.  Normally, if you eat at Trigonos, you’ll be joining me on a voyage into vegan cooking.  I have a rough idea what I’ll be cooking but I generally see what is good from the land that day (we have our own organic farm) and what’s looking great from out veg supplier.  Then I play with food and enjoy myself.  One of the most wonderful occupations imaginable.

Now.  Lets make something delicious.

Recipe Notes

The mushrooms will shrink quite a bit during cooking.  Make sure you get big ones, or double up per person.  I have found that most folk like a second mushroom after they’ve tasted the first.

Portobellos are full of flavour and texture but field mushrooms are also fine (and a little cheaper).

I always try to make my own pesto, but at this time of year, fresh leafy herbs are not exactly sprouting from the earth.  You could use a good jar of vegan pesto, you’ll find this in most supermarkets and especially health food shops or similar.

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A typical Trigonos lunch plate, plenty of colours!

The Bits – For 4

4 large mushrooms (peeled and the end of stalks trimmed off)

Pesto

2 big handfuls sun dried tomatoes (roughly chopped)

2 big handfuls basil leaves

1/2 lemon (zest)

3 large cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)

1 handful cashews (best when soaked in warm water for an hour before)

50ml+ olive oil

2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes

Sea Salt (to taste)

OR

10-12 tbs green pesto (of your choice)

Mixing in the sun dried tomatoes and lemon (zest) – same quantities as above

 

2 handfuls walnuts (roughly chopped)

 

Topping

Fresh green herbs – parsley, thyme, basil

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Fresh out of the oven

Do It

Preheat an oven 180oc.

Peel the mushrooms, lightly oil a baking tray, sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and pepper.  Bake the mushrooms for 15-20 minutes.  They should be soft but still nice and succulent.

Place all of the pesto ingredients into a food processor (except the olive oil) and pulse until a chunky pesto is formed whilst drizzling in the oil.  Or, just mix the tomatoes and lemon zest into your shop bought pesto.  Taste and season with salt if needed.  Adding more nooch (nutritional yeast flakes) will up the cheesiness. A good thing.

Spoon roughly 2-3 tbs of the pesto over each mushroom and sprinkle with walnuts.  Pop back into the oven for 10 minutes to warm them through.  Thats it!

Sprinkle over some herbs and serve soon after.

Here are some dishes I’ve served recently to accompany these mushrooms:

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Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Fancy a healthy start to 2016? Peace & Parsnips Recipes featured by Veganuary

Big thanks to the wonderful folk at Veganuary for featuring recipes from Peace & Parsnips.  Are you taking part in Veganuary?  How’s it all going?  I’m sure you’re shining away and if you need a little tasty inspiration, check out the feast below!

You’ll find these recipes and many, many more in the ‘recipes’ section of the awesome Veganuary website.

timthumb (3)Chocolate & Maple Ice Cream

timthumb (2)

Lazy Lahmacun

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Charred Fig and Rocket Salad with Lemon Tofu Feta

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Raw Apple and Date Pie

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Charred Fig and Rocket Salad with Lemon Tofu Feta

I’m busy in the kitchen at the minute and finding little time to blog.  Soz about that.  I also just completed my taxes for the year which was a very painful experience.  Why so many numbers and brackets?  I needed some light relief, I needed some bloggin time with you lovely lot!!!

Check out our facebook and twitter pages for more BHK shenanigans.

I’m off to check on my onions……….X

Categories: Cakes, Desserts, Dinner, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Pumpkin, Ginger and Kaffir Lime Soup

Pumpkin, Ginger and Kaffir Lime Soup

Pumpkin, Ginger and Kaffir Lime Soup

At this time of year, I’d quite happily live on soup.

I just have time to squeeze this post in before driving to Durham and the sparkling NEVFest (North East Vegan Fest).  The first time that Jane and I have not been to a food festival this year together.

Durham is where all of my family are from and I’m very much looking forward to cooking and doing a talk in the Stadium of Light, the home of Sunderland AFC.  For my sins, I support the red and whites.  It will be quite surreal.  I never imagined talking and cooking vegan in a football stadium but learnt recently that at least one professional football team in the UK has gone totally vegan, so maybe its not so strange.  Lentil pies at half time with some miso broth.  Yum!  The future…..

You may think that the life of a food blogger is all hanging out by the fire, sipping a cheeky Oolong whilst leafing through a mountain of cookbooks, but it ain’t.  We all have busy lives these days and posts are normally squeezed in somewhere or other.  Janice (over at the sparkling Nourished by Nature blog) and I were just chatting about this the other day.  Blogging is a labour of love for many of us and we are just crazy about food and sharing our foodie inspiration.

This is not helped by the fact that I am a complete luddite.  I still do not have a phone (hence the lack of Instagram action) and only have a bulky laptop.  I’m trying.  But in reality, I am a techno caveman at heart.  I like paper and pens, books and postcards.  The occasional stapler.  I do love sharing things online though and hope you enjoy these little recipes.  I’ve met such a wonderful global community via the BHK.  The internet is an AMAZING place!

I’ve been cooking with loads of squashes and pumpkins (actually pumpkins are members of the squash family) at Trigonos and at home.  Our local organic veg farm Tyddyn Teg has been growing a wonderful variety of squashes; spaghetti, the mighty crown prince and even little acorns.  Some are even larger than my head.

Squashes are perfect winter fuel, high in energy with loads (I mean loads!) of antioxidants and beta carotene.  Just what our bodies crave and thrive on come the wintery months.  In darker times, eat brighter foods!  Squashes also store well, but I doubt they’ll be lasting very long around these parts.

COCO!

When I say coconut cream I mean the cream in a tin of coconut milk.  If  your coconut milk contains emulsifiers and the like, it will not separate and therefore you cannot extract the cream.

To extract coconut cream from a tin of coco milk, simply place it in a fridge for a couple of hours, turn it over, open the tin and pour out the coco water.  You are left with at least half a tin of very creamy coconut cream to play with.  Try whipping it up with some lime zest and juice or just add a little sweetener to make delicious, vegan whipped cream.   Use the leftover coco water in smoothies, on your morning cereal, add it to stews or even cook rice with it (one of our personal favs).

You may also like to use the hard, block variety of coconut cream.  Just follow the pack instructions.  Don’t worry about adding too much coconut cream to this soup, it will only make it even richer and more delicious.

Pumpkin Seeds before roasting in the oven....

Pumpkin Seeds before roasting in the oven….

ROAST YOUR OWN PUMPKIN SEEDS

I never waste my squash/ pumpkin seeds.  I always pick them out and quickly roast them in the oven with a drop of oil and salt.  Delicious!  Just place them on a baking tray and bake them for 8 minutes on 180oC.  Stir them and keep baking them for 5 minute intervals until they are dark golden and crisp.  Its so easy and each type of squash seed will taste slightly different and have their own texture.  Pumpkin seeds are nice and light, very crispy when roasted.  Perfect as a soup-topper.

...and after. YUM!

…and after. YUM!

I love adding ginger to soups and a little kaffir gives a vibrant fragrance to the rich, sweetness of the pumpkin.  You can use any type of squash here and you may like to half the recipe or freeze the leftovers.  I think cooking in big batches makes loads of sense.  We’ve also been experimenting with pumpkin smoothies and they are a real treat.  A pumpkin chai latte smoothie is a thing of beauty and I’ll hopefully get around to sharing it soon.

Enjoy and stay cosy,

LeeX

Recipe Notes

As I mentioned, experiment with different squashes, they are all wonderful and have properties of their own.  Some sweet and firm, some lighter and slightly blander, others intense and wonderful roasted.  There are so many varieties and this is still (just about) the time to enjoy them in season here in the UK.

You’ll need an extra big pan for this one.  As I said, half the recipe for something a little more manageable.

Pumpkins are ace!

Pumpkins are ace!

The Bits – Makes 10 large bowls
1 medium pumpkin – 1.75kg (peeled and cut into rough 1 inch chunks)
1.5 litres water/ light vegetable stock
7 kaffir lime leaves
50-60g fresh ginger (peeled and finely diced)
2 onions (finely diced)
200g coconut cream

2 teas salt

Do It

In a very large pan, add 2 teas cooking oil, warm and then add your onions and salt.  Fry on medium heat for five minutes until softened and then add your pumpkin, ginger and lime leaves.  Stir well and cook for another two minutes, then add the water/ stock.  Bring to a boil and pop a lid on, lowering the heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the coconut cream, stirring well and simmer for another 10 minutes, adding more hot water if needed.  The pumpkin should now be nice and soft.

Pick out as many lime leaves as you can.  Taste the soup, checking for seasoning.  Now give the soup a blend until creamy and smooth with a stick blender or in a food processor.

Serve

In warm bowls, scattered with freshly chopped chillies and some roasted pumpkin seeds.  A little fresh coriander would also be a delight!

The flavours here do lend themselves to sesame and I have been serving this at Trigonos with sesame bread rolls.

Foodie Fact

Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which means they are cousins to melons, watermelons, cucumbers, squashes.

Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of anti-oxidants and minerals, they even contain a good amount of iron and of course, plenty of protein.  Surprisingly China is now the worlds largest pumpkin seed producer.  Who knew!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Mexican Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa (Vegan)

Mexican Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa

Mexican Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa

 

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.

VIVA MEXICO!

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!

Chipotle Chilli - A real taste of Mexico!

Chipotle Chilli – A real taste of Mexico!

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.

Viva Mexico!

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!

FUTURE FOODS

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.

Cosmos seems to be loving the chipotle!

Cosmos seems to be interested in chipotle!

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!!

*****For more regular BHK action we are now posting loads of news, recipes etc over on facebook and twitter.*****

Recipe Notes:

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

Omelettes

150g gram flour (besan)
250ml water
½ teas salt
½ teas baking powder

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 tomatoes
2 spring onions
1 avocado

2 large leaves kale (curly, black kale etc – stems removed and finely sliced)
1 lime juice
½ lime zest
½ teas salt

Unfolded you can see the lovely corn, shrooms and those tasting pieces of soft tofu.

Unfolded you can see the lovely corn, shrooms and those tasty pieces of soft tofu.

Do It

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 cook until the omelette is a nice golden colour, a couple of minutes is more than enough.

Mexican Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa

Mexican Chipotle Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa

Serve

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.

The pizza style omelette

The pizza style omelette

 

Down on Dinas Dinlle.  Autumn has been beautiful in North Wales.

Down on Dinas Dinlle. Autumn has been beautiful so far in North Wales.

Foodie Fact

Gram flour is higher in protein than wheat flour and is packed with healthy unsaturated fats, iron and fibre.  More reasons to go gram.

See you soon!

See you soon!

Categories: Breakfast, Dairy/ Lactose Free, gluten-free, Nutrition, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Windfall Apple and Oat Crumble – Simple Autumn Classic

Windfall Apple and Oat Crumble

Windfall Apple and Oat Crumble

So the leaves are all turning burnt gold, auburn, crimson and the morning are crisp with deep powder blue skies.  I love this time of year, wandering through dried leaves, staring into fires, wrapping up, rediscovering the delights of sloe gin and big, bombastic bakes!

Desserts or otherwise, its time to wake the oven up,  it tends to be underused in the summer months and dust off our oven dishes.  Autumn and winter mean we need warm hugs and serious sustenance in our bowls/ plates.  It’s something of a survival mechanism and certainly leads to oodles of well-being.  Cosy soul food!

Nothing says autumn more than the first crumble of the year.  Your body knows what’s coming, the dark and windy time when we crave large plates of stodgy happiness to warm our wintery bones.  We are enjoying a beautiful September up here on Tiger Mountain, but the  nights are getting a bit chilly and crumble is the perfect antidote.  Easing us into this time of year in the tastiest of ways.

Crumble’s beauty lie in their simplicity and the way they gobble up our autumn fruity abundance.  This recipe is beautifully basic and can be taken in so many directions with addition of other fruits (think blackberries, damsons, mulberries, dried fruits etc) or flavourings (like elderflower, orange blossom, I’ve even tried a tahini and apple crumble which was a treat).  Adding chocolate to a crumble has been tried and works like a dream.  This recipe is a lovely foundation to add to as you see fit.

ORCHARD DREAMS

We are setting out a little orchard in the garden.  The trees are young (bar our ancient looking plum tree and windswept crab apple) and normally offer scant fruit.  My Snowdonia Pear Tree, a juvenile, was unceremoniously beheaded by a storm recently.  Its tough going for saplings in these parts!  Our little Bardsey Apple tree however is a rugged super star, branches laden every year with tart and juicy, vivid green apples.  Not such great eaters (too much of a twang) but perfect when cooked.  These apples were actually all windfall, saved from the fate of an army of slugs that camp out and descend like slimy vultures on any fruit that hits the deck.

Windfall Bardsey apples in the garden

Windfall Bardsey Apples in the garden

APPLE ABUNDANCE

What to do with all those apples?  If your, family members, neighbours, avid scrumpers know of an apple tree, I’m sure you’re asking yourself the same thing.  Here are few little ideas for all those surplus apples:

  • Make a Tart Tatin (see below)
  • Cook into apple sauce and use on desserts and breakfast bowls.  Apple sauce is also wonderful in baking, it helps to bind cakes etc together.
  • Make your own Apple Cider Vinegar or Apple and Mint Vinegar
  • Make Apple Vodka, Whiskey or Gin by steeping the apples in alcohol.
  • Try a Apple and Ginger Smoothie or Apple and Kale Juice
  • Add slices to pancakes and bread (works brilliantly with rye or spelt flours)
  • They make a great Raita
  • Chop them up and mix them into your muesli/ granola/ sprouted grains etc for breakfast.
  • Make Apple and Plum Chutney
  • Make Beetroot and Apple Sauerkraut or add to your favourite Kimchi recipe (there’s a nice one in Peace and Parsnips
  • Add them to stews, salads or soups
  • Spread them out somewhere, preferably on cardboard and keep them for as long as possible.  Crunch and yum!
  • Make cider.
Discovery Apple and Apricot Tart Tatin

Discovery Apple and Apricot Tart Tatin

ALL APPLES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL

When cooking with apples its worth tasting one first.  They can be so varied and this is what I love about them.  They are surely one of the finest things we grow in the UK and our traditional varieties offer up a fascinating and varied palate of flavours and textures to play with in the kitchen; some are flowery in texture and sweet, some crisp and tangy, we just need to find them the right home.  I have to say that the best way to eat a good apple is to give it a little polish on our trousers or jumper (why do we do that?) and crunch into it.  I like to eat the core and seeds as well.

Making this pud into a pure plant-based pleasure is a cinch, you’re really just substituting the butter in the traditional crumble with oil and some flax seeds, which offer a lovely nutty flavour and help to give the crumble a little bite and oodles of nutrition.  I am also not great at using large scoops of sugar, I need gentle persuasion.  You can probably make this with other sweeteners, but for once in the BHK, we’re going (almost) traditional.

Crumble is oh so simple but surprisingly many are still not great.  Being too sweet or having a dry, floury crumble are two cardinal sins of crumble-hood.  I like a nutty, crisp crumble.  This is why crumble is always enjoyed best straight out of the oven.  The longer its left, the more time for the crumble to loose its magic crunch.  I like to add nuts and flax seeds to add even more flavour and bite.  To avoid just a mouthful of floury sweetness, I like oats bound with a little flour.  Simple pleasures are always the best!

So grab a fireplace, a large spoon and a nice crisp autumn night and enjoy this true British classic.

Recipe Notes

You can use buckwheat flour and gluten free oats to side step gluten here.  I love the flavour of buckwheat; its fuller and deeper than wholemeal.

The amount of sugar you will need depends on your apples.  Ours are very sharp, so we went for 90g.  Jane has a sweet tooth (see above) and was very pleased with the sweetness level with that amount.

Crumble is amazingly adaptable, make it well in advance or make a large batch of apple sauce and use for other purposes (see above).  Crumbles also freeze brilliantly.

I don’t like going ott with cinnamon, I just like it somewhere in the background.  Not a main player in a crumble.  Add more if your a spicy crumbler.

Enough frivolity, lets crumble!!!!!!

The Bits

Apples

950g apples

60-100g light brown sugar (unrefined)

3 tbs water

1/2 – 1 teas cinnamon

 

Crumble

100g oats

20g flax seeds (ground)

75g mixed nuts (roughly chopped)

30g light brown sugar (unrefined)

70ml rapeseed/ olive oil

1 teas cinnamon

20g buckwheat/ wholemeal flour

 

Do It

In a saucepan, add all of the ingredients for the apples.  Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 20 mins with a lid on or until the apples are tender and just falling apart.

Mix all of the crumble ingredients together in a bowl.  Preheat oven to 200oC.

In a baking dish (approx 10″ by 8″), spoon in the apple sauce and sprinkle over the crumble mix until there is a nice thick layer.

Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until the crumble is a dark golden colour and the apple sauce is bubbling away.

Before.....

Beginning…..

Middle......

Middle……

End!

End!

The Prequel (?)  - Windfall Apple and Oat Crumble with lashings of custard

The Prequel (?) – Windfall Apple and Oat Crumble with lashings of custard

Serve

We had ours with custard.  Mainly because we don’t have any ice cream in the freezer.  If we had ice cream, I am sure there would have been a long debate about which way to go.  Which way do you go?  The timeless question.  I think it depends on how the stars are aligned (or something).  PS – It must be vanilla ice cream.  Of course.  Anything else would be utterly ridiculous.

Beach walking off all that crumble - Dinas Dinlle, near Anglesey

Beach walking off all that crumble – Dinas Dinlle, near Anglesey

Foodie Fact

Crumble is food of the Gods and makes you happy:)

Dinas Dinlle Beach

Dinas Dinlle Beach

rsz_p1240351

Happy Autumn to you all!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Categories: Desserts, Foraging, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Fragrant Wild Rice, Curly Kale and Pistachio Salad – Original Recipe from Peace & Parsnips

Fragrant Wild Rice, Curly Kale and Pistachio Salad - Recipe from Peace & Parsnips

Fragrant Wild Rice, Curly Kale and Pistachio Salad – Recipe from Peace & Parsnips

A rich, zesty and highly nutritious salad that is ideal for an early Autumn lunch.  This is packed with ‘superfoods’ although I think most plant-based foods are superfoods (bar maybe the Jerusalem artichoke, which I love, but lacks much nutritional oomph).  So plants are all superfoods and it seems that being a vegan, no matter what you choose for dinner, your body and mind is going to thrive on it!  That is of course if you keep things natural and whole food.  We are what we eat and I don’t want to feel like a processed vegan hotdog.  Ever.  Just doesn’t appeal!  Radiant health is just one of the coolest things about being a plant muncher.  The other benefits are well documented, many times on this blog.  But I’m a cook, so lets talk food…..

This salad is a filling centre piece dish and can be made even more so by the addition of tofu/ tempeh or even a scattering of pulses/legumes.  To be honest, that’s a little OTT.  This fragrant number is already loaded with nutrition; protein, calcium, iron, vitamins, healthy fats….  For this reason, it is very satisfying and filling.  I love dill, its such a distinct herb that is seldom used.  In this salad it is not overpowering, but mingles in with the other strong flavours.

I love to create salads and toy with texture, colours and flavours.  Salads are the perfect medium to express the freshness and vitality of seasonal produce and tomatoes, carrots, kale are bang on season up here in the wild Welsh hills.  We’ve had a poor year weather wise (you may have heard me mention many times over!) but we’re hanging in there are getting some beautiful cavolo nero and curly kale and down on the Trigonos farm, we have a massive poly tunnel laden with a variety of sensational tomatoes.  Some of which weigh over 1 kg!  All are bursting with sweetness and fragrance.  Experimentation on ways of preserving tomatoes is under way, our own sun dried tomatoes lack one very important element.  So we are going to slowly dry them overnight in the oven, it will take several nights.  Needless to say, this time of year is filled with jar hunting, lots of roasting and creative twists and freezers fit to burst.  I’m a lucky fella to be cooking with such produce on a daily basis.  Thanks to Judy and team for producing the most amazing vegetables and fruits.  A cooks dream!

That's what I call a tom!

That’s what I call a tom!

KALE! WHATS ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?

As mentioned above, we’re in a ‘sea of green’ kale at the minute and not dreaming of complaining.  As we all know, many times over, eating greens is the quickest and most effective way of becoming a super happy wonder being.  It is (sort of) that easy!  Kale is a star for so many incredible reasons:

  • Kale is high in good fats.  Omega 3’s that is.  Good for the heart, brain and can reduce Type 2 diabetes.
  • Kale contains a huge amount of vitamin A.  The highest of any green leaf.
  • Gram for gram, kale has more calcium than milk.
  • By weight, kale has twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange.

Eat your greens, live the dream……………

Sea of green. Kale harvest is going very well at Trigonos.org

Sea of green. Kale harvest is going very well at Trigonos

“HEY, WHAT’S HAPPENIN’?!”

(Any Marvin Gaye fans out there?)  The BHK is, of course, not just solely about food.  We do other things and like to keep you abreast of what’s happening in our lives up here on Bryn Teg (Fair Hill), North Wales.   We are going through renovations of the cottage and have recently built a deluxe wood shed, which could comfortably sleep a young family.  We need a lot of wood over the winter!  We have also been building a slate path out the front, all from local slate that we have scavenged and traded for.  Its looking like something out of the Hobbit at the minute.  Quite rustic, but very cool.  Add to that, loads of painting, gardening, oh working for a living and wandering around the hills, our summer has been packed.

We are now starting food festival season and this weekend we have two, Ludlow (Saturday 12th) and Beaumaris (Sunday 13th).  We will be doing cooking demonstrations, all recipes from Peace & Parsnips, and then book signings.  We are really looking forward to kicking things off this year and will be attending a load of food festivals around Britain.  Maybe see you there! (See ‘Contact and Press’, top right of the screen, for more details).

The Nantlle Valley, where we wander and work (looking great with the new heather growth, everything is going purple!)

The Nantlle Valley, where we wander and work (looking great with the new heather growth, everything is going purple!)

We have been sharing a much more on Twitter and Facebook these days and this has meant a few less BHK posts.  Its nice to mix things up a little!  Although Instagram is a step too far at the moment (I don’t have a mobile phone!)

This recipe has also recently featured in Your Healthy Living Magazine and posting it was inspired by Janice over at the wonderful Nourished by Nature blog, celebrating plant based food and natural health magic!  Thanks Janice.

This salad is great warm, just don’t let the rice cool fully and watch all those flavours come to life!  You can play around with the veggie components of this salad and keep it seasonal.  We are using sorrel loads at the moment, it growing in patches all over the garden and even likes to grow in the cracks in or front garden slates.  I can think of worst ‘weeds’.  Sorrel is delicious.  ‘With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue, the only thing I ever got from you, was …….’

Sorrel. Our favourite weed.

Sorrel. Our favourite weed.

The Bits – For 4-6

•250g wild rice
•1 carrot, grated (if you have any carrot tops, finely chop them and add)
•5 leaves of curly kale, cut from the stems and very finely sliced
•3 tbsp raisins, soaked for two hours and roughly chopped
•½ a handful of roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
•6 radishes, trimmed and finely diced
•6 sun-blush or sun-dried tomatoes, including any oil, finely chopped
•4 spring onions, finely sliced
•½ a handful of fresh dill, chopped
•½ a handful of chives, finely sliced
•A handful of sprouted mung beans or green lentils

For the dressing

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
•3 tbsp olive oil
•Juice of 1½ limes
•Zest of ½ lime
•½ tsp sea salt
•½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the garnish: •A handful of roasted pistachios
•3 tbsp chopped fresh dill

Do It

Rinse the wild rice in cold water a number of times until the water runs clean. Place in a pan, pour in water to cover by 3cm, then bring to the boil and put a lid on the pan.

Reduce the heat to its lowest possible and cook for 45-50 minutes, until the rice is soft and all the water has evaporated. Fluff up gently with a fork and allow to cool fully. Spreading the rice out on a plate will help here.

To make the dressing, whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to mix evenly. Add the dressing, spoon in the rice and combine well.

Serve

In shallow bowls, garnished with the extra nuts and herbs.

Foodie Fact

The fats in this salad (oil) and the citrus (lime) will help the body to absorb the nutrients available.  They work in harmon together and carotenoids (part of the Vitamin A family) are fat-soluble and the high levels of iron in the kale are made more available by the acid in the lime.  Not only are they tasty, but all these ingredients are working together to keep our bodies shiny and happy.

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Local food, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Salads, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

Nutty Apricot and Sesame Energy Balls

Nutty Apricot and Sesame Energy Balls

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 – Increase the amount of vitamins, especially B vitamins

2 – Produce greater levels of beneficial enzymes

3 – To make digestion easier

4 – Allows easier absorption of protein

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

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

REASONS TO LOVE TAHINI (AND SESAME SEEDS)

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

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

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

Nice sticky mix

Nice sticky mix

The Bits – For 12-15 energy balls

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

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

4 tbs toasted sesame seeds

2-3 tbs light tahini

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

Do It

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

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

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

Serve

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

Chocolate and Coconut Energy Balls

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

Foodie Fact

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

—————–

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

Cosmos - The new cat on the scene

Cosmos – The new cat on the scene

Categories: Desserts, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Charred Cauliflower Steaks with Coconut and Kale Puree

Charred Cauliflower Steaks with Coconut and Kale Puree

Charred Cauliflower Steaks with Coconut and Kale Puree

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

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

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

BLEEDING BURGERS!?

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

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

BEACH LOVIN’

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

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

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

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

Black pepper and sea salt

Do It

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

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

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

Preheat oven to 180oC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

Beetroot and Cumin Fritters with Horseradish and Dill Yoghurt

Beetroot and Cumin Fritters from Peace and Parsnips

Beetroot and Cumin Fritters from Peace and Parsnips

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

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

The Bits

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

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

For the Horseradish & Dill Yoghurt

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

Do It

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

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

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

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

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

Serve

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Portobello Pecan Burger (Original recipe from Peace and Parsnips)

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

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

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

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

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

So here we go, the

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

The Bits – Makes 6–8 mammoth burgers

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

Do It

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

 

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Gooey Choco Nut Cookies (Gluten Free and Vegan)

 

Choco Nut Cookies (Gluten free)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bits – Makes 8 cookies

Dry

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

30g brown rice flour

1/2 teas ground cinnamon

100g unrefined brown sugar

1/2 teas bicarb of soda

3/4 teas baking powder

Large pinch salt

2/3 teas xantham gum

 

Wet

90ml vegetable  oil

1/2 teas vanilla extract

30ml water (splash more if needed)

 

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

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

 

Do It

Preheat an oven to 180oc/ Gas Mark 4.

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

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

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

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

Serve 

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

 

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

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

 

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Bharat

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

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

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

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

rsz_p1250242

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

Us.  Catching some well earned rays...

Us. Catching some well earned rays on Criccieth beach

BAHARAT

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

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

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

The Bits – For 4 small bowls

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

1 head garlic (skins on)

2 yellow peppers (deseeded)

1 large onion (sliced)

3 teas bharat

2 teas turmeric

2-3 teas salt

Olive oil (for roasting and frying)

 

Do It

Preheat oven to 190oC.

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

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

Roasted Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

Roasted Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

Serve

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

And who can forget……the glorious CHIPS!

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

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

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels (Ta’amia)

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

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

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

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

The great British outdoors - Up a Welsh hill, Snowdonia

The great British outdoors – Up a Welsh hill, Snowdonia

FAVA BEANS – AS BRITISH AS A BEAN CAN BE

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

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

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

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

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

The Bits – For 12 falafels

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

2 tbs olive oil

1 onion (finely diced)

1 carrot (grated)

1 ½ teas cumin seeds

2 ½ teas ground coriander

1 teas turmeric

1 teas dried mint

½ teas bicarb soda

2 tbs gram (chickpea) flour

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

Salt and pepper (to taste)

 

Coating

2-3 tbs sesame seeds

Extra oil for frying

 

Cucumber Yoghurt Sauce

6 tbs soya yoghurt

1/2 medium cucumber (grated)

½ lemon (zest)

1 tbs lemon juice

Pinch of sea salt

½ handful fresh mint leaves (finely sliced)

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

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

Do It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve

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

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

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, photography, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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