healthy

Wholegrain Soda Bread Muffins – Vegan

Vegan Soda Bread Muffins, it’s all about the buttermilk!

Home-baked bread in no time at all!!

Perfect with a nice bowl of soup.

 

I’ve been busy away from the blog recently, so it’s great to be back! Thought I’d get started again with something simple and hearty.

I love soda bread, good bread doesn’t need to be fiddly or take ages to make.  These muffins are wholesome, have a great flavour and texture from ingredients you’ve probably got tucked away in your cupboards right now.

Soda bread is easy when you know how.  We don’t want to taste any soda (bicarbonate that is) so we balance it with the flavour of the buttermilk.  That’s the art of soda bread.  The acid in the buttermilk help the loaf to rise.  We use plain flour here to give the soda bread lighter texture.  Soda bread is unique!

WHY MUFFINS?

At work I was asked, why are you always making things into muffins?  It’s a good question.  I do like a muffin!  We make fresh loaves everyday so it’s just changing things up a little.  These will be paired with a nice Winter Roots and Lentil Soup at the minute on my menus.  All hearty and satisfying, here’s why we need this (see below – view from near the kitchen over Nantlle Valley towards Mount Snowdon).

Nantlle Valley, home of Trigonos Retreat Centre and these muffins

I think with a muffin like this, it’s also about the crust.  It’s a wrap-around crust!  Crust all over.  This is a definite bonus when it comes to muffins or rolls.

You can add all kinds of herbs (rosemary and thyme), nuts or seeds and spices to this bread.  You can also bake it in a loaf shape, just add a little more time to the bake.

Simple Vegan Soda Bread – Ready in 45 minutes.

Making vegan buttermilk is very easy and ideal for baking.  I like to use vinegar as the acid, and soya milk.  But you can experiment with acid’s like lemon/ lime juice and other plant milks, like almond.  But other plant milks may not curdle.

View from the dining room, it’s been a chilly few weeks in North Wales

Relax, Recharge and Re-energise! 

Come and cook with us, learn new skills and meet like-minded people

 

I recently announced the dates for our autumn Vegan Cooking Holiday at Trigonos, see below.  21st-24th September!

We’ll be hosting you in beautiful Snowdonia, expect lots of delicious plant-based food, inspiring cooking workshops and talks, walks, yoga and lots more.  If you want to get away from it all, relax, recharge and energise, do let us know.  It promises to be a celebration of good livin’ and the abundance of autumn!  Lots and lots of amazing local produce.  I’ll be announcing the full details soon.

If you can’t wait until autumn:)  We have one room available for our annual and stunning Vegan and Yoga Retreat on the beach in Spain.  A Taste of Bliss – Click here for more information.  It’s a once in a lifetime experience and I’m getting the menus together this month.  Expect new and creative dishes for you to enjoy, and learn how to cook, in our beautiful beach side villa.  We’re very excited indeed!!

We need loads of hearty and warming dishes at this time of year, I hope you like these muffins.  Do let us know if you make them and feel free to ask any questions or give feedback in the comments below.

Happy cooking!!

 

Recipe Notes

You can go wholegrain 100% here if you fancy.  Just replace wholegrain flour with the white flour. The texture will be a little more dense, but tasty.

Make sure you give the mix a good stir, this helps to create a nice texture.

 

Vegan Soda Bread – A simple and satisfying Beach House Kitchen favourite

Wholegrain Soda Bread Muffins – Vegan

The Bits – For 12

Dry

150g plain white flour

300g wholemeal bread/ strong flour

2 tbs brown sugar

2 tbs rapeseed or olive oil

1 teas bicarbonate of soda

1 teas salt

 

Oats (for sprinkle)

 

Vegan Buttermilk 

325ml soya milk

2 teas apple cider or white wine vinegar

 

Do It

Stir the vinegar into the soya milk and leave to sit for 10 minutes.  It will form a buttermilk texture.

Preheat a fan oven to 180oC.

Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl then mix in the buttermilk.  Mix well for a few minutes, I like to use a wooden spoon.

Lightly oil a muffin tin and using two dessert spoons, this is the easiest way, spoon the dough into the tin.  Make the muffins roughly equal in size.

Sprinkle with oats or a little more flour and place in the oven.  Bake for 14 minutes.

Once baked, they’ll be nice and golden on top.  Leave the muffins to sit for a couple of minutes in the tin and then remove onto a wire cooling rack.

Best enjoyed warm with a nice bowl of soup.  Also nice with your favourite jam and vegan creme fraiche.

Trigonos in Snowdonia – a pretty stunning place to cook.  You can come and join us here in September!

Foodie Fact 

Wholegrain flours are less, or not, processed at all.  Wholegrain flour is much higher in fibre than white flour, fibre is essential in our diets for loads of reasons.  Good levels of fibre in our diets will help our digestion, can lower blood cholesterol and even help to lose weight.

Wholegrain flour has roughly six times more fibre per serving than white flour.  Wholegrains are low GI, meaning they’re great fuel for our bodies, releasing sugar slowly into our bloodstreams.  We’re also talking vitamins; some vitamin B’s, folate, riboflavin.

Go wholegrain!

Categories: Baking, Cooking Holidays, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales, Winter | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Thai Red Pepper and Coconut Soup – Vegan

Thai Red Pepper and Coconut Soup – Vegan

Something quick and easy to kick start 2019!

A simple, healthy and delicious soup with some of the Thai flavours I totally love.

This is how I’d like to kick off 2019, a steaming, bright and nourishing bowl of goodness.  Red peppers are packed full of vitamin C and after the festive season, I’m sure a lot of you fancy a pick me up, tasty dishes that are lighter and give our body a big hug.  Comfort food can be healthy and satisfying.  No probs.

This soup contains coconut, chickpeas, turmeric, ginger, loads of my favourite foods.  Bar the Kaffir lime leaves (see below) and lemongrass these are easy to find ingredients, that many of you might have in the kitchen already.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year………………

Of course, January is now officially Veganuary, they’ll be changing the calendars next year for sure!  If you’re trying out Veganuary, you’re not alone, record numbers have signed up worldwide this year.  I even saw it all over the TV around New Year’s, right there, bang in the middle of prime time programmes.  Just awesome to see a vegan lifestyle skyrocketing, being embraced and enjoyed!

The people over at Veganuary have always been lovely to us and we even have some recipes over on their website, check them out here.  Good luck to anyone giving it a go and long may your vegan-ness continue!  Let us know if you need a hand or some advice, we’re fully available for pats on back, big thumbs up and bags of encouragement.  GO FOR IT!!

Nourishing vegan Thai soup

What are Kaffir Limes?  Why are they so awesome!!

Dried kaffir lime leaves can be found in most supermarkets.  I buy them frozen in a local Chinese supermarket, these have been frozen fresh.  They are much better than the dried varieties, but you can use either in this recipe.

I’ve been lucky to travel around South East Asia and work and stay in some beautiful places, some even had kaffir lime trees.  The limes themselves are like big, nobbly limes, with thick piths, very fragrant.  The leaves can be used in all kinds of cooking, it’s essential oils are use in perfumery, and it’s really like a bay leaf with an Asian turbo charged twist.  Their flavour is unmistakable!  When I worked on an organic farm in India, I’d wake up, pick a few leaves and make a refreshing tea with them, watch the lizards and mongoose chase each other.

Eating peppers at this time of year means we have a great source of vitamin C.  Peppers are said to be three times higher in vitamin C than oranges, red peppers are best, but green peppers also contain good levels of vit C.

Beach House Kitchen bowl! Nourishing, light and satisfying. Red Thai Coconut Soup – Vegan

Jane and I have been spending time with family and friends over Christmas, we’ve been to North Yorkshire and Durham mainly and really love the time away with the people who rock our world!!

We’ve actually not stuffed ourselves too much!  We both feel like we’ve lost weight over Christmas, which is pretty unusual.  I go back to the fact that freshly cooked vegan food can be so, so healthy and tasty.  We’ve had many positive comments over Christmas, so many non-vegans digging the food.

I feel like 2019 will be the greatest year for vegans in the UK EVER!  We have some great plans, we’ll be hosting our vegan cooking week in Spain again (click here) and will be announcing new dates for events and holidays in Wales soon.  Exciting stuff and we hope to see you at one soon!  Keep up to date with all our news, recipes and other bits and pieces by signing up for our seasonal newsletter, right here.

One of the main things I’ll be working on in 2019 will be a new cookbook!  I have an idea and a group of recipes that I love, soooooooooooooooo, watch this space:)

Big thanks to all who cooked our recipes over Christmas and New Years and let us know, it was great to see pictures over on Twitter and Facebook, it makes our day!!  We love to see your kitchen creations, you really bring our recipes to life!!

Recipe Notes

You may like to pick the lime leaves out before you blend the soup, but I generally leave them in.

Use the softer, centre piece of your lemongrass.  Discard the tough outer leaves.  You’ll find lemongrass in most supermarkets.

 

Thai Red Pepper and Coconut Soup – Vegan

 

The Bits – For 4-6 large bowls

5 red peppers (deseeded and chopped)
3 medium carrots (chopped)

1 large onion (sliced)

3 heaped tbs fresh ginger (roughly chopped)

2 heaped tbs fresh lemongrass (peeled and chopped)

1 fresh chilli (sliced)

1 can chickpeas (drained)
1 can chopped tomato or passatta
1 can coconut milk

8 kaffir lime leaves
1/2 tbs turmeric
Sea salt

To Serve

Tamari or soya sauce
Lime wedges
Sliced chillies
Chopped coriander

 

Do It
In a large saucepan, add 1 tbs cooking oil, fry the onions and ginger with 1 teas salt until soft, 3 minutes will do.

Then add the carrots, chilli, lemongrass and peppers, fry for 5 minutes, then add the tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, kaffir lime leaves and turmeric, bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Then add the coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes more, until the carrots are soft.

Blend with a stick blender then season with salt, if needed, and adjust the consistency using hot water if it’s too thick.

Serve with chillies, coriander and lime wedges.  We also love it with sticky coconut rice balls.

Foodie Fact

Kaffir lime has many uses in Asia, not just for the pot!  The lime juice makes a great shampoo, the plant is a natural insect repellent, when used in aromatherapy kaffir lime is relaxing, can reduce stress and help with a good nights sleep, also many people chew the leaves, it is said to help with oral health.

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

What a Year 2018! Great Memories and Big Thanks to YOU

We just wanted to say a huge thanks and best wishes for 2019!

 

But first up, 2018, what a year!!

 

It’s been a mega time, we’ve packed so much in, cooked in so many amazing places and met so many special people along the way.

 

You know that we’re all about tasty and healthy plant-based food, but it’s also, very much about YOU.  The kind and open hearted folk who make it all happen, give it all such a positive and creative feel.

2018 has been the most successful year for the Beach House Kitchen blog, in more ways than one, and the most enjoyable and rewarding part of the whole thing is connecting with and sharing recipes with you all.

You make this blog and our Facebook and Twitter pages a great place to be and inspire us to keep sharing and enjoying what we do.  Thanks to all for your amazing feedback over the festive season, seems a few of you enjoyed the Mushroom Wellington!!

BIG LOVE, BIG THANKS!!  

 

 

Wishing you all health, wealth and happiness in 2019, we’ll be here with healthy and delicious vegan recipes and plant-based updates, if you’d like to join us for one of our vegan cooking events, holidays, demonstrations or talks, CLICK HERE.  We’ve loads of cool plans for the new year.  

 

HERE’S TO A NEW YEAR FILLED WITH PEACE, VITALITY, GOOD HEALTH AND GOOD VIBES

 

 

What have we been up to in 2018?

 

From our Taste of Bliss Cooking and Yoga Holiday in stunning Spain, to our Cornish Vegan Getaway near Lands End, to the centre of London and the awesome Made in Hackney. We’ve had events all over North Wales and in Manchester, not to mention our annual cooking demos and talks at Ludlow Food Festival. In 2019, we’d like to visit new towns and cities, give us a shout if you know any good venues/ locations.

 

Here’s a quick list of people (in no order whatsoever) we’d like to thank for helping out this year, we could not do it without a team of magical folk, many who volunteer their time to help the BHK to keep on rockin’!:

Will (ace chef and proper dude), Clare (North Walian Yoga sensation), Complete Unity Yoga – Will and Malene (simply stunning yoga folk), Jenna (super talented angel), Mark and Food Sorcery (top venue in Manchester), Sue and Peter at Network News (ever the inspiration!), Andi and Made in Hackney (top venue in London), Thelma and Boswedden House (Cornwall), Janice (fermented genius and overall foodie angel)…..

The lovely Aine Carlin, Veganuary, Alice and the gang at Tyddyn Teg Organic Farm, Mandy (sensational vegan chef), Amy (superb kitchen elf), Nita and Steve (THE kitchen guys), Katie and Glynn (Wot’s Cooking), Mark (foraging genius and top cook), all at Ludlow Food Festival and Aadvark Books, all at Trigonos Retreat and Event Centre for letting me cook and enjoy the beauty of North Wales, Jonathan (my very patient book agent, new cookbook coming in 2019!!)…..

Melissa (Villa superstar), Gaynor (for the coolest Airstream imagineable), Clare (awesome kitchen angel),Miranda (lights up any kitchen!), Jane Eddie (for tastings and loads of support), Hagar (couldn’t have done it without you!!) and all those we’ve forgotten (you’re not forgotten!!), Neil and Nick (the London foodie dudes), Vegan Recipe Hour (over on Twitter), Chris, Dom and Fey (the sunshine Spanish connection) my family for always supporting me, and washing up, AND Jane (as ever, the heart and soul of the BHK and chief taster)

 

PLUS

 

all who have attended our events and cooked up some brilliant memories in 2018!

 

 

It’s already been said that 2019 will be the ‘Year of the Vegan’ and we’re here every step of the way to support and inspire you to cook more plant-based meals, always believing that vegan food can be delicious and accessible to everyone!  Recipes here.

 

 

 

PS – Last, but very much not least.  The WILL’s!….

 

The chefs hard at work;)

 

See you all in 2019 for more fun, cooking and celebrating the good life!

 

——————–

 

Fancy a blissful break with us in May 2019! 

 

We’ll be hosting a week long vegan cooking holiday with empowering yoga, a fully plant-based menu, cooking workshops, local excursions, lots of beach time and sunshine, plus much more.  More info here.   

 

The villa, a beautiful eco-designed kitchen made the week a joy (for the cooks;)

Categories: Cooking Workshops, Events, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Shallot and Red Wine Gravy – Vegan, Gluten-free

All you need now are some roast spuds and your favourite people!!

 

A rich, dark vegan gravy that everyone will enjoy.

 

Being a vegan, or just trying out more plant-based recipes, opens a doorway into new flavours and techniques.  Making this gravy is simple and really flavourful, it’s actually not that different from making other gravies really.

 

We all like our gravy in different ways, taste it at the end, add more balsamic, jam, salt or yeast extract (marmite), depending on the balance of flavours you prefer.  If you can’t get your hands on shallots, a white or red onion will also be fine.

Shallot and Red Wine Gravy – Vegan, Gluten-free, Low-fat

Proper gravy for a proper roast dinner

Making your own gravy is an essential part of any roast dinner, for me, it’s a ritual.  I love making gravy, packing all those big flavours into one little pot.

Gravy has always been one of my favourite things about a proper Sunday roast, I also like mashed swede (very important addition) and crispy roast potatoes.  Yorkshire puddings are also well up there.  In fact, let’s face it, is there a less than awesome part of a roast, when done well?

We’re having this gravy with our Portobello Mushroom Wellington with Toasted Walnut and Rosemary Stuffing, Christmas dinner 2018 sorted.

This deep and rich gravy will go perfectly with any Sunday roast.  There are so many vegan centrepieces nowadays for a Sunday roast style dinner, we don’t just have to toss a coin between nut roast or Wellington.  Sometimes I feel like experimenting with a roast dinner, playing with flavours, adding spices, getting a bit cheeky.   Other times, I’m a staunch traditionalist.  I’m happily contrary like that.

Such is my commitment to the Beach House Kitchen, I took these pictures out in the garden in fading winter light, in the rain and wind.  Wrapped in a poncho.  I’m actually surprised at how normal they look whilst trees were bending and the wind was howling.  Got away with it!   I just had to share this post before Crimbo, gravy is important!!

I’ve said it many times, there are absolutely no down-sides to going vegan, you can live deliciously, any time of year!

 

Recipe Notes

When I run cooking workshops, most people’s reaction to making a really tasty gravy like this is, “What do we do with all the leftover veg?!”  After the gravy has been passed through a sieve, the veg is all leftover.  I’ve suggested making a pastie or pie with it, but really, most of the flavour and texture has gone, it’s like a dark veg mash really.  Not that appetising, but if you want to, go for pasties!

Gravy is, of course, always best served piping hot, a tip is to pour boiling water from a kettle into your gravy boat/ jug before filling with gravy.

Taste your vegetable stock before adding to the soup, it’s  important it’s not too strong or too weak.  Just right!

If you feel that the gravy is lacking flavour, add a pinch of salt.  It’s amazing the difference one or two pinches of salt can make!

Gluten-free version – opt for gluten-free cornflour, yeast extract, wine, balsamic vinegar and vegetable stock.  Check the labels.

Tasty and Rich Vegan Gravy

Shallot and Red Wine Gravy – Vegan, Gluten-free

The Bits – For 4-6

3-4 large shallots or 1 large onions (sliced)
1 large carrot (sliced)
1 stick celery (sliced)
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
2 big bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme

100g chestnut mushroom or 1 big portobello mushroom (chopped)
175ml vegan red wine
1 ½ -2 tbs dark cherry jam, cranberry sauce or blackberry jam

2 teas yeast extract (known to some as Marmite)
2 tbs cornflour
1 tbs tomato puree
1 ½ tbs balsamic vinegar

700ml vegetable stock

Cooking oil (I use cold pressed rapeseed oil)

 

Do It
In a large saucepan, over a medium heat, add 1 tbs cooking oil, then the shallots, celery and carrot, plus the fresh herbs and bay leaves. Cook slowly for 20-25 minutes, until the shallots are golden, stirring regularly.

Mix your cornflour with a few tablespoons of water, until it becomes smooth.

Add the mushrooms, wine and jam to the pan, stir and cook for 3 minutes, making sure your scrape up all the caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan (great flavour there!!).

Then add the tomato puree, vinegar and yeast extract, cook and stir for a minute, then slowly add the vegetable stock.  Pour in the cornflour, whilst stirring, and bring to a boil.  No lower the heat, simmering gently for 20 minutes.

Pass it through a sieve into another pan or bowl, using a spoon to squeeze out all the precious flavours.

Taste and season with salt if needed. Serve hot with your favourite roast dinner of Christmas feast.

Loads of big flavours in one little boat, totally plant-based gravy!!

Foodie Fact

Shallots are long and slender members of the allium family, along with onions and garlic.  They generally have a lighter flavour than onions and I find them perfect for roasting in a tin.

They are more nutritious than onions, high in vitamin A and not bad for vitamin C.  Shallots contain good amounts of minerals like iron, calcium and copper.

They also contain a chemical called Allicin, which is basically anti-bacterial anit-viral and good for the heart and can even help prevent cancer.

 

Join our seasonal newsletter right HERE, we’ve got loads of tasty recipes and events planned for 2019. 

Plus special offers and news about our new Beach House Kitchen projects. 

 

 

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan, veganism, Winter | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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

A CHRISTMAS FEAST TO REMEMBER!

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

Getting the Apple Mull rockin’ first thing

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

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

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

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

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

Amy being amazing (as usual!:)

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

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

 

Our menu for the day:

MENU

Welcome Drink
Hot Apple Mull

Starter
Roast Squash and Ginger Soup with Almond Bacon and Coriander

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

on Jeremy’s blog, right HERE.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

MORE EVENTS RIGHT HERE

 

DON’T MISS ANY BEACH HOUSE KITCHEN UPDATES AND EVENT ANNOUNCEMENTS. 

SIGN UP FOR OUR SEASONAL NEWSLETTER, CLICK HERE.

ONLY TAKES 5-7 SECONDS:)

 

 

Categories: Cooking demos, Cooking Workshops, Events, healthy, photography, plant-based, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Nourishing Tempeh and Miso Ramen Bowl – Steaming, Soul Soup

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

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

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

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

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

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

MISO!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XMAS IS COMING (PROMISE:)

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

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

Steaming bowls, good for the soul!

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

Recipe Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nourishing Tempeh and Miso Ramen Bowl

The Bits For 4-6

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

2 inch chunk fresh ginger (finely chopped)

200g tempeh (chopped into chunks)

2 ltrs light veg stock

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

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

 

Do It

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

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

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

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

Ladle into warm bowls and scatter with your favourite toppings.

 

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spaghetti Squash 

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

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

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

Winter in the BHK

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

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

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

 

Xmas Songs and Shirts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy cooking!

 

Recipe Notes

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

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

 

I love Spaghetti Squash, a really interesting ingredient

 

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

 

The Bits – For 2 as a main course

Pesto

75 g toasted hazelnut

12g or 3 handfuls fresh basil

20g or 1 handful cavolo nero or other kale

2 medium garlic cloves (chopped)

4 tbs cold pressed rapeseed/ olive oil

4 tbs nooch (nutritional yeast flakes)

2/3 teas salt

1 medium-sized lemon (juice)

 

500g or 1/2 large spaghetti squash

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 190oC.

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

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

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

Serve straight away, some vegan parmesan would be nice.

 

Foodie Fact

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

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

We’ve started a BHK youtube channel! 

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

The first of many!!  

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

 

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

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales, Winter | Tags: , | 11 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Notes

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

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

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

Rainbow Vegan Laksa Bowl – Love it!

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

The Bits – For 4

 

Laksa Paste

2 tbs coriander seeds

1/2 tbs cumin seeds

 

1 medium or 150g onion (sliced)

7 garlic cloves

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

6 kaffir lime leaves

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

1 red chilli

3 tbs chopped coriander stems

1 1/2 tbs tamari/ soya sauce

1 tbs oil

 

Soup

1/2 tbs oil

1 1/2 teas ground turmeric

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

1 red pepper (sliced)

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

1 can full fat coconut milk

2 handfuls or 75g spinach/ kale

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

125g-175g rice noodles

1/2 tbs brown sugar

1/2 teas salt

 

Garnish

Fresh coriander or mint leaves (or both)

A dash of tamari/ soya sauce

A scattering of crunchy peanuts or crispy onions

4 lime wedges

Chopped chillies

Salt or tamari/ soya sauce (to taste)

 

Do It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top it off!

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

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

Disney Pancakes

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

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

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

Are oats gluten-free?

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

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

 

Recipe Notes

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

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

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

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

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

 

Banana and Peanut Butter Pancakes – simple breakfast treat

 

Banana, Oat and Peanut Butter Pancakes – American Diner Style

Gluten-free and Vegan

 

The Bits – For 8 medium pancake

100g gram/ chickpea flour

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

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

1 teas bicarb of soda

Large pinch of salt

1 tbs sugar

1 tbs oil

1/3 teas cinnamon

250ml water

 

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

 

To serve

 

Banana, 1 per person (cut in half lengthways)

Maple syrup

4 tbs peanut butter

 

Lime Wedges (Jane likes this)

 

Do It 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Foodie Fact

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

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

 

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

Smoky Beets, Red Pepper and Chipotle Soup

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

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

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

Getting Frosty

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

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

Viva Mexico!

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

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

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

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

Chipotle!

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

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

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

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

Get Your Beet On!

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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Recipe Notes

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

No red peppers, any pepper will work fine.

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

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

Beetroot, Red Pepper and Chipotle Soup

The Bits – For 4-6 bowls

550g beets, roughly 3 medium beetroots (diced)

1 red pepper (diced)

1 medium onion (diced)

200g red lentils (rinsed and drained)

2 teas cumin seeds

1 1/2 teas oregano

1/2 teas cinnamon

3 tbs tomato puree

1 ltr light vegetable stock/ hot water

3-5 teas chipotle puree

 

Topping

Toasted pumpkin seeds

Vegan creme fraiche

Freshly Chopped Coriander

Sliced chillies

 

Do It 

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

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

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

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

 

Foodie Fact 

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

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

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Would you like to come and cook with us? 

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

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

 

 

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

Viva Vegan! Lee’s interview with Veganuary

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

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

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

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

 

Veganuary caught up with Lee Watson to find out more!

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

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

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

How did the idea come about?

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

Why did you pick Spain?

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

What can people expect to experience on the holiday?

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

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

One of Aine’s amazing recipes

 

 

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

Reserve your place for Viva Vegan! Spain right now. 

Just click here

 

 

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

Bilberry and Spelt Scones – Vegan

Bilberry and Spelt Scones – Vegan

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

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

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

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

 

Autumn = Scone time

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

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

 

Spelt – A Love Affair

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

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

Bilberry and Spelt Scones – so simple to make

Bilberries – A taste explosion!

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

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

 

What to serve vegan scones with?

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

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

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

 

Recipe Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bilberry and Spelt Scones

The Bits – For 8 slices of scones

Dry 

250g spelt flour

2 teas baking powder

60g light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Wet

80g rapeseed oil (cold pressed)

60ml (4 tbs) plant milk

 

1 big handful (75g) bilberries or blueberries

 

For brushing

A dash of plant milk and rapeseed oil

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 180oC.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Foodie Fact

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

 

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

Homemade Shroom Dogs – Vegan Mushroom Sausages

Shroom Dogs – highly recommended with mustard

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

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

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

 

Bring on the Shrooms….

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

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

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

 

New dawn of vegan food

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

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

 

Vital Wheat Gluten – What the….?

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

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

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

 

Double Up

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

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

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

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

 

Recipe Notes

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

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

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

 

Shroom dogs, how do you like yours?

 

Homemade Shroom Dogs – Vegan Mushroom Sausages

 

The Bits – Makes 3 large sausages

250g mushrooms (chopped)

2 small garlic cloves (crushed)

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

3 teas yeast extract/ marmite

1 tbs rapeseed oil

2 1/2 teas smoked pap

1 teas dried thyme

2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes (optional)

1 teas sea salt

175g vital wheat gluten

 

Do It

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Homemade Shroom Dogs – Vegan Mushroom Sausages

Foodie Fact

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

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

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Rice – Lebanese Style

A simple, stand out dish to spice up your autumn

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

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

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

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

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

Big on flavours and colours.

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

CRUSTS

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

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

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

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

Shall we call this a Lebanese Paella?

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

Seeking Falafel Perfection in Lebanon

I Ate Lebanon!

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

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

Happy cooking!!

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Recipe Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can use any type of shallow oven dish.

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

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Rice – Lebanese Style

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Rice – Lebanese Style

 

The Bits – For 6

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

50g green/ brown lentils

1 tbs cooking oil

1 tbs cumin seeds

2 medium onions (sliced)

4 large cloves garlic (sliced)

2 tbs bharat – spice mix

2 tbs za’atar

2 teas salt

650 ml light vegetable stock or hot water

400 ml tomato passatta

1 big red pepper (sliced)

1 small aubergine (sliced)

1-2 tbs olive oil

 

Toppings

Toasted walnuts/ almonds

Za’atar and sumac

Chopped fresh parsley

 

Serve

Lemon wedges

Hummus or vegan labneh

 

Do It

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

See you soon in Spain!

**Valid until 8/10

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Viva Vegan! Spain

Thursday 8th – Monday 12th November 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get ready to transform the way you cook!

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

Reserve your spot now for £49

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

triplecitrustarttriangle-jpeg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for full post, prices and information

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Try something new!

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

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

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

Salt on sweet things? “Why?”

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

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

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

Make your own quinoa flour

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

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

Have a sweet weekend!

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Recipe Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fresh out of the oven.

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Chocolate, Sea Salt and Quinoa Cookies

The Bits – For 10 cookies

 

Dry

100g quinoa flour

3 tbs cocoa or cacao powder

1/2 teas bicarb of soda

1/2 teas baking powder

 

Wet

80g light brown sugar

2 tbs tahini or smooth peanut butter

75ml olive oil

1 teas vanilla extract

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

1/4 sea salt

 

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

Extra sea salt for sprinkling

 

Do It

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

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

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

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

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

 

Foodie Fact – Quinoa

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Viva Vegan! Plant-based Cooking Holiday in Spain.   

 

 

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

Pea and Wasabi Soup with Seaweed Gomasio

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

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

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

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

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

Fan of chilled soups?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Recipe Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Bits – For 4-6 Bowls

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

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

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

3 heaped tbs chopped fresh ginger

1 medium onion (peeled and sliced)

1.25 litre hot vegetable stock

1-3 tbs wasabi

1 tbs cooking oil

Sea salt

 

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

 

Gomasio

3 heaped tbs unhulled toasted sesame seeds

1/3-1/2 teas sea salt

Sea weed flakes/ powder

 

Do It 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

Halva Choc Ices with Fig, Almond, Rose and Tahini  

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

Beach House Dressing – One of our fav’s

Strawberry and Tahini Summer Tarlets

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

Egyptian Summer Mezze – Tomato & Cumin Chickpeas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travelling Egypt

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

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

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

Egyptian Food

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

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

Recipe Notes

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

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

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

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

Egyptian Chickpeas with Tomato and Cumin – Sinai-style 

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

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Egyptian Mezze – Chickpeas with Tomato and Cumin 

The Bits – For 4-6 

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

1 large onion (finely diced)

2 large cloves garlic (finely sliced)

1 tbs cumin seeds

2 teas ground cumin

100ml hot water

4 medium ripe tomatoes (chopped into small pieces)

1 tbs cooking oil – I use cold pressed rapeseed oil

Sea salt

 

1 handful fresh coriander (finely chopped)

4 lemon wedges

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

 

Do It

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

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

Stir in coriander and olive oil, check seasoning.

Serve with warm flatbreads, lemon wedges and hazelnut dukkha.

 

Foodie Fact – Cumin

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

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

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

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

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

Hazelnut Dukkha – Versatile, Nutty Spice Mix

 

Hazelnut Dukkha – Egyptian Condiment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Spicy

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

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels

Egypt travel 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hazelnut Dukkha

The Bits – Makes one small bowlful

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

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 180oC.

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

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

 

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

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

Stunning Cape Cornwall! The sun shone all weekend.

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

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

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

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

A weekend filled with treats!!

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

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

Menu

Friday

Tea and coffee on arrival

Fruit bowl

Cake

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

Dinner – Mexican Fiesta!

Black Bean & Kale Mole

Smoky Aubergine Bacon Bites

Loaded Nachos with Chipotle & Cashew Queso

Charred Corn & Coriander Rice

Salsa & Guacamole

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

Saturday

Lunch – Spanish Tapas

Watermelon Gazpacho

Baked Pea & Mint Tortilla

Roasted Patatas Bravas with Salsa Rojo and Aioli

Mixed Green Beans, Basil with Crushed Peas

Orange, Red Onion, Fennel and Black Olive Salad

Local Salad Leaves with Herb and Lemon Dressing

Cake

Tahini & Chocolate Blondies (g/f)

 

Dinner – Middle Eastern BBQ

Tofu & Watermelon Kabobs with Bharat Yoghurt Marinade

Spiced Aubergine and Courgette Kabobs with Tahini and Harissa Sauce

Charred Cauliflower Wedges with Haleznut Dukkha

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

Fattoush Salad Platter

 

Layered Summer Berry & Chocolate Cheesecakes

Sunday

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

Green Dragon Macrobiotic Salad

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

 

Cake

A Selection of Energy Balls and Healthy Truffles

Dinner – Healthy Junk Food

BBQ Pulled Jackfrui

Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese

Charred Corn Wheels and Courgette Coins

Pan fried Local Greens

Rainbow Sauerkraut

Mango and Cashew Fudge with Coconut Chocolate Bark

Walking along the coastal path, Cape Cornwall

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyday, there is cake!

And lots of desserts…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Cooking Retreats, Cooking Workshops, Events, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

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