Summer

Cooling Watermelon, Tofu & Mint Salad

Cooling Watermelon, Tofu and Mint Salad

It’s getting HOT over here!

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

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

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

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


Recipe Notes

The chillies are a great little kick, but optional.

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

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

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


The Bits – For 2 lunch

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

1 green chilli (finely sliced) – optional

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy cooking!

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

Pea and Mint Hummus

Pea and Mint Hummus

Pea and Mint Hummus

Now that one half (me) of the BHK is rocking Spain, things are going totally Med for a while.  Fresh, vital, packed with sun, light and easy. Tapas basically. Little plates of flavour explosions that tantalise and don’t make you feel like a stuffed courgette. Perfect summer fare.

This is a nice twist on your standard hummus, plenty of lemon to lift it and enliven and a good hit of mint. It looks so vibrant, everyone will want a dip!  The great thing about peas is they freeze brilliantly and a I used frozen peas here.  When frozen, they don’t lose much of their nutritional value or texture, so its all good.

A hummus twist

A hummus twist

In Spain, the hummus wave is really hitting.  We went out with out mate in Madrid, a cool area and all the bars were serving hummus.  It seems like all the cool kids were at the crudites.  I think hummus is such a staple now in the UK, its nice to give it a twist now and again, although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a well made ‘normal’ hummus.  I like mine nice and thick and creamy, with plenty of tahini.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

*Warning* – my posts from Spain may get a little erratic at times.  I’m normally tucked away in one of the the few local bars that have wifi.  There is a heady atmosphere of shouting and laughter and I’m no doubt sipping a ferocious black coffee.

Give peas a chance;)

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The Bits – Makes one big bowlful

480g chickpeas

275g peas

1 tbs dried mint

1 big handful fresh mint (finely sliced)

150ml olive oil

4 tbs tahini

1 1/2 medium lemons (juice)

2 big cloves garlic (crushed)

1 teas salt

50ml chickpea cooking broth

 

Do It

Place all ingredients into a blender and blitz until nicely smooth, drizzle in the chickpea broth (or water) until you get the consistency you like.  Remember that the hummus will thicken up in the fridge.  Check seasoning and served with a crazy array of chopped vegetables, flatbread slices, oat cakes, whatever tickles your fancy really.

View from one of the local interent hubs/ bars

View from one of the local interent hubs/ bars.  Life’s a long beach!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, healthy, photography, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Summer, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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

Butter Bean, Lemon and Black Olive Salad

Butter Bean, Lemon and Black Olive Salad

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

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

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

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

Puerto Mazarron market in full swing

Puerto Mazarron market in full swing

DOWN AT ‘EL MERCADO ESTUPENDO’

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

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

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

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

Tomatoes - so many new types to try in Murcia

Tomatoes – so many new types to try in Murcia

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

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

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

Mazarron sunsets are regularly a bit special

Mazarron sunsets are regularly a bit special

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

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

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

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

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

Great with some toasted croutons or a handful or toasted almonds

Great with some toasted croutons or a handful or toasted almonds

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mango and Cashew Cake

Mango and Cashew Cake

Mango and Cashew Cake

With one eye on a lovely summer, here’s a quick and easy cake filled with some delicious tropical flavas! Served warm with whipped coconut cream and we’re talking something quite heavenly. I’ve added a few bananas meaning only a little sugar is needed, each slice is sweet in a naturally good way. The mango keeps the cake moist and there’s a little ginger there to give it all a kick.

This could quite easily be called a Keralan cake, a part of the world I love.  Any diet that is high in mangoes, cashews, coconuts etc I know I’m going to like.  A vegans paradise!!

ON THE ROAD

Even though I have now flown the Beach House, I’m going to try and keep the tasty recipes flowing. I love sharing what we’re cooking with you guys. I always manage to find a kitchen no matter where I end up.  Right now I’m in a little fishing man’s social club and men are playing dominos and quaffing brandy.

I don’t think I told you guys what we’re up to…….Jane is over in the States at the minute, having a wonderful time and I am in Murcia, Spain. Its a long story, but basically my U.S. visa didn’t work out so I’ll be travelling around the Med (Italy, the Balkans, Greece) and then joining Jane in Asia for some time travelling around Indonesia and beyond. We’ve got some freedom and we’re diving into it!!

Unfortunately, my new gadget has the worst camera imaginable attached to it, making every plate of food look like it’s made from limp cardboard. I’ll therefore not be on instagram for a while, but check out twitter and facebook (see side bars) for more regular updates and photos of our meanderings.  We’re both working on exciting projects and look forward to sharing news about them soon.

Back to the old school with Mum's scales - whats an ounce again!!????!

Back to the old school with Mum’s scales – whats an ounce again!!????!

Recipe Notes

The texture will be improved by 2 tbs aquafaba which is the liquid in a tin of chickpeas or leftover chickpea cooking broth (cooled). Most beans will also work well. This aquafaba works a little like an egg in that it helps to hold things together.

You don’t have to use a heart based baking tin. This is the only cake tin that I could find in Mum’s kitchen. How cool is that!!!

Fresh out of the oven

Fresh out of the oven

The BitsFor 10-12 slices
Dry
175g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
75g soft brown sugar

Wet
3 bananas
100g sunflower/ vegan spread (melted)
1 tsp vanilla extract

125g or half a medium-sized mango (finely diced)
2 handfuls cashews (roughly chopped)

A little more cashews or coconut for topping

Whipped Coconut Cream – For 4

1 tin coconut milk (chilled in the fridge)

Do It
Preheat oven 180oC, grab a 2lb loaf tin or 10 inch cake tin, lightly oil and line with baking parchment.

Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl.

Beat the banana, melted margarine and vanilla extract together.

Add the banana mix to the dry ingredients and then fold in the mango until all is combined.

Pour into your waiting tin and top with sprinkles of cashews or coconut. Make sure to press any nuts sticking out down. They will catch the heat and burn.

Bake 45 – 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire cooling rack and leave to cool for 20 minutes before tucking in.

For the coconut cream – it’s oh so simple!! Grab the tin from the fridge, turn upside down and open.

Pour out the coconut water, this makes a nice drink (I’m thinking a mocktail) or base for a soup or stew. Scoop out the coconut cream and whip with a whisk of fork for a couple of minutes. You may like to add a little sweetener to it or even some lime juice and zest can be amazing.

Serve the cream straight away or put back into the freezer and give a quick whip before serving, it will go soft and floppy at most room temperatures.

Mango and Cashew Cake

Mango and Cashew Cake

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Recipes, Summer, Treats, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Chickpea, Date and Potato Tagine

Chickpea, Date and Potato Tagine

Chickpea, Date and Potato Tagine

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

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

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

Happy hobs:)

Happy hobs:)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Durham!  Sunset from the terrace last night in Spain

Not Durham! Sunset from the terrace last night in Spain

Recipe Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Simple summer special!

The Bits – For 6-8

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

4 small potatoes (chopped)

2 bell peppers (deseeded and chopped)

1 aubergine (chopped)

4 large tomatoes (chopped)

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

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

Do It

This is an easy one…….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

When the Welsh sun is out and proud, salads suddenly become highly relevant, essential and a playground for all things fresh and seasonal.  They become a palate for vibrant colours and fresh textures.  This recipe has a real taste of South Asia about it, with the chillies, sesame, ginger, orange and tamari.  Certainly a wake up call for the taste buds!  I love to take gorgeous British produce and jazz them up with some global flavours.

We are getting the first stages of our glorious organic veg bounty from the hardworking local growers and its truly a beautiful time of the year!  Spring has bowed out to full on early summer (with the occasional patch of dramatic storms) and things are starting to leap from the ground in the most wonderful ways.  Even our garden is waking up and every fertile day sees growth.

ORGANIC VEG FARMERS ARE REAL HEROS

Tyddyn Teg is back up and running with a new gang of lovely folk at the helm, they even have a facebook page this year! The farm is looking incredible which means we are going to be a busy one in the BHK, in the best possible way.  Loads of fresh and lovely local produce (you can probably tell we’re a bit excited about this!!!)  The farm is 10 acres and a huge under taking.  These guys are real hero’s, nothing to do with money and profit and all to do with integrity, promoting organic farming practices and ensuring folk around here have healthy affordable food.

John and Pippa have been growing organic veggies near Bethel for many years and have taken a well earned step back, it has taken six young people to replace them!  We’ll be showcasing their beautiful produce throughout the year.

BOK CHOI LOVES WALES!

Succulent Bok Choi is something that thrives in poly tunnels up here and we use a lot of it at Trigonos and in the BHK.  Trigonos have many different varities growing at the minute.  My favourite is the crunchy, peppery, purple Mizuna Leaf (surely a close relative?!) a real surprise package in salads and stir fries.  Does anyone really, truthfully, know the real difference between bok and pak?  It’s a size thing no?  I feel that flavour and texture wise, there is very little between the two.  They sound so exotic and yet thrive here in North Wales, as does our brassica buddy Mr Kohlrabi with his alien tendrils.  Its basically a turnip/ cabbage crossed with an extra terrestrial space craft.  Sometimes called a German Turnip.  We love them grated in slaws, roasted whole or just chopped simply into a salad.

THE WANDERERS RETURN

Jane and I’s wandering summer got off to a flying start in Durham and Newcastle this weekend.  We both made talks at the brilliant Vegan Festival Newcastle which took  place in the lovely, historical Assembly Rooms.  We met loads of inspiring people, vegans and non-vegans alike, and really enjoyed our first speaking engagements.  Afterwards we enjoyed a cool drink high above the River Tyne, perched in the Baltic Art Gallery Restaurant.  Newcastle looked glorious with the setting sun and glittering river, even the roaring gangs of stag-do’s seemed to mellow out as the light became richer.

Delicious vegan salad with avocado on toast - Flat White, Durham

Delicious vegan salad with avocado on toast – Flat White, Durham

On Sunday we whizzed over to beautiful Durham (where my family are all from) and spent a morning at Flat White Cafe with the ace Patrick and his gang of merry baristas.  Its such a buzzy little place, tucked in a nook, packed with style and surely the coolest place to enjoy a coffee in the North East of England.  You get a proper mug of intense Americano!

So its been a weekend of meeting kindred spirits and plenty of celebrating so returning to the little Beach House on the hill seemed like a very peaceful, healthy proposition indeed.  This salad certainly brightened things up, its insanely nutritious and fresh.  We are looking forward to more food and chat-based adventures this summer mixed in with our usual raw food month (probably in September this year).  This salad gave us a flavour of what is to come……(minus the toasty sesames!)

Jane and I in Durham at the weekend.  We had a book signing at Flat White Cafe.

Jane and I in Durham at Flat White is Durham, signing books and sipping sensational coffee.

The Bits – For 2

1 large head of Bok Choi (leaves trimmed from the heart)
1 handful red cabbage (finely diced)
1 courgette (cut into long thin slices or thin ribbons using with a French peeler)
1 orange (cut into segments, without pith preferable)
1/2 small red chilli (thinly sliced)
1 tbs fine capers
1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
2 tbs fresh coriander (finely chopped)

Ginger and Orange Dressing
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs orange juice
2 teas cider vinegar
1/2 teas tamari
1/4 teas finely grated ginger
1/2 teas agave syrup
1/4 teas orange zest

Do It

Peel the pith off your orange with a sharp knife, following the shape of the fruit, to leave very little pith.  Then, holding the orange in one hand, gently cutting each segment out, using a sawing motion, just inside the pith of each segment.  When you are finished, squeeze out the juice from the left over orange piece to make your dressing.

In a nice shallow bowl or large plate, scatter your bok choi and then courgette ribbons/ slices and orange.  Sprinkle over the red cabbage, chillies, capers and finally the coriander and sesame seeds.

Whisk up the dressing in a small bowl and drizzle over the salad.

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad - A proper summer zinger! #vegan

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad – A proper summer zinger!

Serve

This crunchy number makes for a very colourful side dish and just by adding a little chopped firm tofu or a handful of nuts and serving with some bread, a brilliant summery main course.  Adding the tofu and nuts are an obvious protein addition to most plant-based dishes, but there are so many ways of getting good, healthy, plant protein onto our plates:

We have oodles of fresh basil at the minute and feel that a couple of handfuls of basil leaves would be quite sensational (and probably highly excessive in a good way!)

Foodie Fact

Sesame seeds have a higher calcium content than milk!  In fact, they are a great source of so much!  Read more nutritional info here.

Random little fact, Myanmar is the top producer of sesame seeds in the world.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Organic, photography, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Summer, Vegan, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

A million miles from partial, self-sustainability (but trying!) – Beach House garden pics and update

Enjoying a cuppa at the Pant Du Winery (just down the road).  Yes, Richard is making wine in Wales!  Very nice tipple as well (the cider is especially amazing)

Enjoying a cuppa at the Pant Du Winery (just down the road). Richard and his family are making wine up here in North Wales! Very nice tipple as well, red, white or rose (the cider is especially amazing).

Here we are again, challenged by our beautiful hill side climate. The Beach House Garden is a wild place to be. We’re 400 metres up Tiger Hill, staring out towards Ireland and Angelsey and the weather so far in 2015 has been unrelenting and way too chilled.  The veg patch is not very photogenic at the moment, the plants look a little timid, not sure whether they’ll bother this year.  But, when the sun is out and you’re lying on the grass, watching the apple tree dance; the world seems bountiful and ever generous.  Thank you nature, I’m not complaining.

The back of the garden, where the wild ones live.....growing freely for all the little critters, bees and hedgehogs.

The back of the garden, where the wild ones live…..growing freely for all the little critters, bees and hedgehogs.

Now Buster (our semi-feral part-time cat) seems to have found a better deal, small birds are flocking to our garden. Its wonderful. Goldfinches and all sorts of busy tits.  We even have a robins nest directly opposite our kitchen window in the dry stone wall. We can see the little Mum robins head poking out of the nest when we’re washing up. I have to say, the Dad robin is working a hard shift getting the twigs sorted and gathering fat worms.

Mrs Robin keeping an eye on us.

Mrs Robin keeping an eye on us.

Jane bought me a very cool, Snowdonia Pear Tree for my birthday, so that will be going into the earth very soon. We have a lovely little sunny spot ear-marked for Percival (2.5/10 for originality there!)  I’ve always thought an orchard would be beyond me, but it seems we’re getting a nice little gathering of fruit trees together.  Even the cherry tree has decided to burst into life.

The herb garden is doing well, we have some funky varieties of mint growing, I’ve gamble on some tough ‘bush’ basil and of course, the rosemary, thyme and sage are doing well (they’re toughies).  Mint is such a trooper, we now have ginger mint growing in our grass.  A nice surprise!  I’m in charge of edibles and Jane loves to work with the frillier plants.  The colourful ones that look nice.  Jane’s favourite plant is a ‘Lady Shallot’ Rose, beautifully peach.  It gets favourable marks from me just for having an onion in its name.  Our Acer tree is loving it this year and has doubled in size.  Acers always remind me of Japan.  I love the little red guy for that.

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Our noble red acer

When the sun does get out and we are both at home, we chop wood.  The chainsaw gets cranked up and we fill our garage full of scavenged trunks and branches.  There is something very reassuring having a garage half filled with logs for the fire.  Jane’s brother in law, Paul, will be coming up soon to help us get one of our years biggest projects finished.  A new woodstore.  Knowing Paul, it will be a work of art!

Choppin'  logs

Chopin’ logs – Feeling warmer already

I think one of the highlights of our garden is the succulents. They are an interesting plant, like a cactus meets a rose, normally on a stony wall. I planted a little succulent and couple of years ago, wedged it between a few stones with some soil and it now looks like a perfect, crimson, lotus flower.

The Lotus Succulent

The Crimson Lotus Succulent

Our apple and plum trees went wild with blossom, which is now blown all over the garden. Hopefully the bees did there work and we’ll have some fruit again this autumn. This year is, so far, nothing like last, which was a bumper year for fruit and berries. Come on plums!

Plum blossom going strong.  Last year we had a festival of plums.  This year will be more like a quiet get-together.

Plum blossom going strong. Last year we had a festival of plums. This year will be more like a quiet get-together.

We are growing our own lettuce this year and have trays of seedlings all over the place, we’re also going for plenty of rocket. Our veg patch is sporting tiny shoots of cauliflower, cavolo nero, beetroot, fennel, potato, chard and savoy cabbage. We’re realising that the veggies we grow up here on Tiger Hill need to be the equivalent of a very enthusiastic SAS commando to even stand a chance. If Bear Grylls was a carrot, he wouldn’t last long in our veg patch!  Anything like a creeping bean will soon be blown over to the curious sheep (or horses) next door and turned into a tasty bite.

Orange, gold and black, at sunset, Tiger Hill lives up to its name.

Orange, gold and black, at sunset, Tiger Hill lives up to its name.  Overlooking Nantlle Valley.

One of the advantages of the plants being small, is that the slugs seem to have followed suit. They’re tiny little guys, still doing a slugs-worth of damage, but in smaller nibbles than usual. I have built up some of the edges of the veg patches, but have generally given up on slug traps/ assault courses. I think the best way is patience and surrendering a decent portion of each crop to the greedy little critters.

Eeking out a few veggies is more than a hobby though, it helps to keep me connected to the seasons and what’s going to be good on the BHK menu and the menu at Trigonos. When the weather is beautiful I feel great for the garden, when the storms set in, I just hope they survive another day!

Pond ferns

Pond ferns

The pond is doing brilliantly.  We rarely touch it, which seems to do the trick.  Everytime you walk past you can hear small amphibians throwing themselves into the safety of the overgrown water feature.  We have many newts living there, and frogs.  We have also noticed baby red dragonflies.  I think this all points towards a nice clean pond.  Again, since Buster left us (we miss you little man) the frogs especially are thriving.

At this time of year sorrel is really doing its thing.  We’ve tried growing it in beds, but our sorrel prefers to grow through the slates in the front garden.  It seems very happy there and is thriving.  Its one of my favourite leaves, full of bitter apple twang, I’m happy to see its found a home.

Sorrel is a star

Sorrel is a star

It looks like the garden this year will be more play than productivity, I can see the fire pit being cranked up later in the summer.  Apparently, September is going to be a stunner.  Only another three months to wait then!

So after four years of Beach House gardening adventures, we’re still roughly a million miles away from our wonderful goal of partial self-sustainability. But I know we are on the right track!  If all else fails, maybe we can dive into the world of poly-tunnels.  We’ll keep experimenting until we figure something’s out, we learn a little more each year and for that alone, the Beach House garden is ever valuable and fertile.

Some blue skies......

Some blue skies……

Categories: Healthy Living, photography, Summer, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Blooming Marvelous! Garden Update

The Queen of Salads!

The Queen of Salads!

Well, well, well……I mean really.  We had a summer, a proper stint of sun.  We woke every morning expecting it to be sunny.  How rare, how brilliant!  The garden has appreciated the warmth and light, things are blooming like never before in our little mountain abode, we can’t keep up with the progress, most of the time just letting nature do its thing and appreciate what comes from that.  This generally hides our lack of discipline with gardening and confirms our inherent feeling that nature cannot be contained in a plant pot, or bossed around.  Our potatoes seem to appreciate the approach!

The Potato Patch

The Potato Patch

Courgette Flower

Courgette Flower

The Beach House Garden is quite big and wild, after not strimming for a while it was resembling a Welsh jungle and wild things lurked out towards the horse field.  Fortunately they were just frogs and the occasional mole, although the rabid sheep have been making unwanted appearances in the garden.  Feral lot that they are.

So this year we have some decent looking beetroots, rhubarb chard, cavolo nero and even courgettes coming along.  The herbs have gone wild (which we always enjoy) and as I said, we have three varieties of potatoes leaping from the ground at an alarming rate.  Come early August and freak storms permitting, we should have a reasonable bounty to play with in the BHK and share amongst our nearest and dearest.

'Erbs running wild

‘Erbs running wild

Raw Earth Month marches on bathed in sun and good vibrations.  I have to say, the food has been grand and we are trying our best to post more recipes.  Our month of total raw/ vegan-ness ended yesterday, no booze, coffee, consuming, chemicals, lights, washing machine etc for over a month now and going strong.  Once you start this and feel good about it, it’s always hard to get back off it.  I am sure one day a scone will come along and that will be it!  Until then we are thinking another two weeks are in order.  There are two bottles of cava primed for the closing ceremony, we’ll have a picnic in the back garden on the stone circle and eat sandwiches and a lemon drizzle cake (Jane’s favourite) and get slightly sozzled in the sun (hopefully).

Yellow Lilly's (I think) growing in the pond

Yellow Lilly’s (I think) growing in the pond

Cavolo Nero, Beetroots and Chard

Cavolo Nero, Beetroots and Chard

We are so lucky to have wild strawberries growing this year, if we can grab them before the birds take their share!  They are the sweeetest, fragrant little things.  Just one tiny strawberry can change your day, much better than their big brother variety.

Wild Strawberries

Wild Strawberries

My hayfever has taken a back seat now that Jane’s magical herbalist friend has sent some little sweet pills through.  I can now enjoy the garden without fear of pathetic dribbles and sneezing fits taking over.  Hoorah!  This has made a huge difference to my enjoyment of the dramatic transformations in these green and golden hills.

We are being battered by odd humid, tropical storms at the moment, but somewhere behind those grey clouds, there’s a sun waiting to get busy.

On a walk near the Beach House

On a walk near the Beach House

Some classic George (you saw this one coming surely!):

Hopefully you’ll be seeing some of our garden produce in our recipes very soon, there is nothing quite like cooking with your own veg.  I am lucky enough to be working at a wonderful retreat centre at the moment and cook with alot of veg grown on the land.  There is something intangible and whole heatedly enjoyable about cooking with such produce.  It makes all the difference and the flavours are spectacular!  Eating the stem of a rhubarb chard recently is a food experience I will never forget!

Enjoy the heat wave (while it lasts)!

Categories: Garden, Raw Food, Summer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Flower Power – Homemade Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Cordial soaking in our giant pot

Elderflower Cordial soaking in our giant pot

I know, that’s two Elderflower cordial-ish recipes this summer, but it is such a great thing to do!  Elderflowers are all the rage in our village this June. we’ve had neighbours knocking on the door asking for recipes. What can we say, they are a beautiful thing and they grow on trees!  Some even call this drink the ‘nectar of the Gods’!

This is not technically raw, as it is simmered slightly, but we hope that it didn’t make it above 46oC as this stuff is lighting up our life right now!  Very easy to make and plentiful, something all Brits should have in the fridge door ready to be mixed with sparking water, gin or whatever takes your tipple fancy.  Did you hear that Brits, its a must!  In the States, I think it grows?  I know you can buy it dried over there and its just as good, if not more intense.

Elderflower Cordial - the perfect summer cooler

Elderflower Cordial – the perfect summer cooler

FLOWER POWER

There are over 30 varities of Elderflowers and some may be slightly toxic, don’t let this put you off.  None of the flowers are toxic, only the leaves and stems, so if you are not sure, just leave out the greens.

You cannot mistake an elderflower tree (some younger plants look more like bushes), the unmistakable aroma will be the first  thing that hits you.  They have the coolest micro-flowers, white and yellow.

When picking Elderflowers, make sure you leave some for the tree!  We only take a small share from each tree and keep our eyes out when driving or walking around for new trees to pick from.  This is the great thing about foraging for your own ingredients, wherever you go, the plants follow!

We recommend making the cordial as soon as you pick the flowers, otherwise they will naturally deteriorate and lose some of their vitality and flavour.  You can of course dry them if you have a dehydrator or live in a particularly hot place (lucky you!)

The Elderflowers will also turn into gorgeous Elderberries later in the year and these are worth the wait.  It makes us feel much more connected to the seasons, watching the trees and plants changing as we move through summer towards the bounty of autumn.

You may also like to try this with orange or lime, anything citrus will do and mix things up a little.  Lemon is the classic though to be sipped on a steamy British summer’s day preferably with a knotted handkerchief on your head and some cucumber sandwiches to hand.  Croquet anyone!  Splendid.

If you like this, you may like our Elderflower Champagne Recipe.

Makes 1.5 litres:

The Bits 

30 heads of Elderflower, 1.5kg sugar, 3 unwaxed organic lemons, 2 pints water, 75g citric acid (food grade) optional

Do It

Shake the Elderflowers and make sure there are no little crawly friends still present.  No need to wash them, they have been breathing the same air as we have!  If they are growing at ‘dog cocking leg height’, wash them well.  Place in a large heatproof bowl.

Put water into a pan and heat gently, add sugar and stir to form a syrup.  Leave to cool.

Now zest your lemons into the syrup and then slice them acrossways, add the slices also.  Pour the slightly cooled syrup onto the Elderflowers and stir in the citric acid.  Cover with a plate and leave to stand for a day.

After that, taste the cordial, then strain through muslin into sterilised bottles.  We use old wine bottles with corks.

Will keep in the fridge for at  least three weeks, but it won’t last that long anyway!

Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Cordial

Serve

We have ours with sparkling water and a little ice, maybe a squeeze more lemon.  We have also had it in cucumber juice, which was quite amazing.  Of course there is lots of boozy fun to be had here, add to sparkling wine or a gin and tonic for something quite special.

We Love It!

The essence of the British summer, concentrate and bottled.

Foodie Fact

Elderflower’s are one of natures power flowers.  They contain bio-flavanoids, many of the omega fatty acids, pectin and tanins.  They are also good for allergies, and I feel alot better hayfever-wise after a glass of this flower power.  It also helps colds, flu, fevers and arthritis.

It has been shown that Elderflower can help to remove toxins from the blood, it stabilises kidney function and even helps with intestinal problems.

Proper FLOWER POWER going on here!

Jane gathering Apple Mint

Jane gathering Apple Mint (with her slipper on)

Categories: Foraging, Healing foods, Infusions, Summer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Avocado, Coconut and Apple Breakfast Pudding + THE Best Way to Start the Day

(Sorry guys, we had problems with the photos for this one and they now seem to be lost.  Recipe is still delicious though!)

This makes for a sweet and super nutritious start to the day.  Who says pudding is just for later in the day anyway!  We like to mix things up over here on the hill and this is dessert first thing, what a way to start the day!

A serious combination of goodness this avocado and coconut, to some a pair of fat filled fiends, but to those of us in the nutritious know, two full blown detox powerhouses of legendary proportions.  Am I exaggerating, very probably!!!!  But seriously, don’t be put off by all that fat talk, fat doesn’t even make you fat anyway!  It’s all that sugar aka carbs, aka breakfast cereals…….  We haven’t even got started on how these two actually taste, a mixture made in heaven for certain (if you dig that kind of behaviour).

THE BEST WAY TO START THE DAY

The coco water here is a brilliant re-hydrator due to its high quantity of electrolytes, beats any ‘sports drink’ hands down, and we all need a good dose of hydration in the morning.  This is a dense pudding so get the body fully woken up before you attempt to spoon it down.  We’d always recommend starting the day with a pint of warm water with a squeeze of lemon or a tbs of apple cider vinger (avec mother) in it at least 20 mins before having your breakfast/ pud.  This is the best way to start the day with plenty of good clean fluids which will get the system well oiled, hydrated and sparkling early on.  A pint of water can only help at anytime, especially in the morning when our body has being shriveling up whilst we sleep.

This ‘pudding’ is utterly guilt free!!!!!  It has a firm kick of greens, with some wonder green powder, spinach (or kale, or cabbage leaves, whatever you have handy) and the wonderfully gelatinous linseeds.  This is what gives the coco pudding its super thick texture and pudding-ness.

Naturally sweet and creamy, this could probably be frozen and made into a splendid summer ice cream.  We haven’t tried this though.  Has anyone frozen an avocado?

Good Mornin’s and BHOM!

The Bits

1 avocado, ½ fresh coconut plus coco water (chopped in chunks), 2 sweet apples (halved and seeded), 1 tbs ground linseeds/ flax seeds (soaked for 20 minutes in 3tbs water), 1 cup creamy coconut milk, ½ lime (zest and juice), 1 handful spinach leaves, 1 tbs barley powder/ wheatgrass/ spirulina

Do It

Blend it, all of it, until thick and creamy.

Serve 

Sprinkle things on top if you like, but its great just as it is and as always, not too cold please, set the flavours free!

We Love It!

What a way to get things going in the morn!  Its fair to say that Jane and I are not natural morning birds, we tend to blossom later in the day, especially when we’re feed some AM dessert!  Hoorah!  What a concept, this could be the next big thing (way bigger than the last big thing, which was just medium/large in comparison.)

Foodie Fact

Coconuts are one of the most nutritious fruits on earth.  It contains a load of lauric acid, which is known for antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial properties and also boost the immune system.

Coconut water (the stuff in the nut) has a huge amount of electrolytes, making it an ace in preventing dehydration.  In some parts of the world they use it intravenously to hydrate critically ill patients.

Coconut, although being high in fat, actually helps you loose weight!  Its good for the heart, rejuvenates the skin (keeping wrinkles away), increases metabolism and actually lowers cholesterol.

Only downside is, they don’t grow in Wales!!!!!

Yesterdays breakfast - eaten in the garden!!!!!

Yesterdays breakfast – Blueberry and Mango Salad with a Banana Tahini Sauce eaten in the garden with the sun!!!!!

Categories: Breakfast, Raw Food, Recipes, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Elderflower Champagne

Gorgeous Elderflowers

Super sweet, honey-like and gorgeous Elderflowers

Jane has been a hive of activity of late, rooting through hedgerows, plucking from trees, culling vast quantities of wonder nettles and generally turning the Beach House Kitchen into a herbal/ potion dry/ infusing nirvana.  We have our very own herbal den on our hands and our new dehydrator is coming in very useful, we’re stocking up for the depths of winter with the sun on our backs.

We have been blessed with some good weather of late (although not when we climbed Snowdon the other day, see below) and all things green and multi-coloured are leaping from the ground and heading towards the sun.  Its a wonderful thing to witness and our courgettes and beetroot especially are loving these conditions.  Summer has hit, Im driving around with the car window open and have even been seen wearing a T-shirt outdoors on a nuber of occasions.

This recipe tastes like summer, the smell of the elder tree is something that evokes memories of me being a little nipper, running around fields and falling over alot.  Our fridge is full of the stuff in all forms of receptical,old gin bottles, wine bottles, large gherkin jars, we’re brimming over with herbal champagne and very chuffed indeed.

The has taken our focus back towards nature and the more we learn about the properties of the herbs and flowers that fills the hills and valleys of the area, the more we realise what we have been missing all along.  Jane has some incredible books and nature has provided so much richness and diversity that we were ignorant to until recently.  The flowers are good now, but leave a few until autumn and the wonderful elderberries will arrive, apparently these little beauts can beat the flu!  In old folklore the elderberries signified the end of summer and the preparations for autumn and winter.

If you have an elder flower tree locally, or see one when driving around, we strongly urge liberating a few heads for the pot.  Don’t forget to thank the tree!

The Bits

12 elderflower heads, 1 unwaxed lemon (juice and zest), 0.7kg sugar, 2 tbs white wine vinegar, 4 litres cold water.

Jane amongst piles of herbs and goodness

Jane amongst piles of herbs and goodness (and a cuppa)

Do It

Pop the sugar and water in a large pan, stir until dissolved, shake the elderflower heads (check there are no insects).  We didnt wash them as we live in the air we breath and we wanted to keep them dry and intact, they are quite fragile little guys.

Add lemon juice and zest and leave covered for 24 hours.

Thats it!

Strain through muslin and keep in sterilised bottles.  Wine or champagne bottles look very cool.  Can be kept in the fridge for two weeks.

We doubled this recipe and it worked a treat.

One of our bottles, sandwiched between this winters Sloe Gin

One of our bottles, sandwiched between this winters Sloe Gin

Serve

In champagne flutes, in the sun, feet up, without a care in the world…..

We Love It!

Its as good as champagne and free!  What a gift from nature!!!!

Foodie Fact

Elder flowers contain a whole host of natural flu beaters.

Saturday - at the summit of Snowdon

Saturday – at the summit of Snowdon

Categories: Foraging, Infusions, Recipes, Summer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Black Prince Tomato and Coriander Soup (Raw)

Something like a Black Prince Tomato

These little toms are mind-blowingly tasty and light up this fabulous raw soup recipe.  We believe they are called Black Princes, but cannot be sure.  If they are Black Princes, they originated in Siberia but we picked them up from the wonderful John and Pippa in the small village of Bethel (a couple of valleys away). They are stunning tomatoes to look at, purple and dark green inside and mottled with emerald patches on the outside.  The most surprising thing about these tomatoes is that they have been grown organically in Wales (the land of the shy sun).  How is this possible?  I put it down to great expertise and poly tunnels, 20 years of growing experience also helps!  We are so very grateful to the brilliant Pippa and John for eeking out the best of the conditions of this, the wettest and worst summer on this grey island for over 100 years.  Can you imagine what they’d do in Spain!  Jane and I are almost addicted to these little gems, even scoffing them like popcorn whilst watching a samurai movie recently.

So whats all this about a Black Prince anyway? 

Well, the Black Prince (apart from just having the most epic name of any tomato we have encountered) is one of the most popular black tomatoes in the world (more dark green than black to be honest).  These toms are classed as an heirloom variety in the U.S. (see the foodie fact below) and have a wonderful deep, rich and fruity flavour.  The Black Prince is known as a ‘true Siberian tomato’, which makes it perfect for growing in cooler climates like our little grey island.

They say an Indian summer is coming to these parts, having experienced a couple of these myself in India, I am not sure that this is an accurate description of the potential weather situation.  We can however hope for some late summer sun which makes for a perfect raw soup climate.  But raw soups are not just for the summertime.

One of the things we both struggled to imagine prior to our month of raw food eating in June, was sitting down in front of our fire in mid-December, all wrapped up warm with thermals on and tucking into a cold soup with a salad.  We now know that this would work out just fine.  Although the temperature outside is chilly, the effect this kind of soup has on body and mind is seriously rejuvenating and they are absolutely jam packed full with the vitamins etc. that your body needs come the darker months.

This soup really does the black prince toms justice, it’s refreshing and not shy of a few flavours.  Whether you feel like sparkling some more, or are getting over a good old-fashioned beer garden adventure, this soup will get you zinging in all the right places.

The juice in the recipe replaces a traditional stock.  We have been experimenting with this juicy method and have had some brilliant results in mainly raw soups and stews.  No stock can live up to the vibrancy and freshness of a raw juice, especially for a chilled soup like this one.  We picked only the freshest flavours here and the combination of the tomatoes, peppers, oranges, chilli, coriander and ginger……well you can imagine!  With all those colours in a bowl, expect fireworks!

We like to use a little of the orange zest, it gives it even more pizzazz. The dates are essential to balance the saltiness of the miso.  You could use honey or agave syrup if you fancied, but there is something wonderful about adding dates to savoury food.  Avocado is perfect in soups, but does mean that it must be eaten within a day.  The avos add creaminess without the cream and are a great little raw food trick.

If you don’t own a juicer, just buy some fresh carrot juice instead.  You could also use the same quantity of water, but it would be slightly lacking.  You may also omit the sprouted mung beans and still produce a wonderful bowl of happiness, we just had a glut of them to hand.

Black Prince Tomatoes

This recipe is enough for two big bowlfuls with ample seconds.

The Bits

10 ripe black cherry tomatoes (or the best cherry tomatoes you can get your hands on), 3 ripe tomatoes (the bigger variety), 1 avocado, 1 big handful mung bean sprouts, 250ml carrot and celery juice (that’s roughly 4 large carrots and 1 stick celery), 1 big handful chopped coriander, 1 yellow pepper (chopped), 1 tbsp flax oil (or good olive oil), 1 tsp miso paste, 2 cm cube ginger (finely chopped), 1 clove garlic (mashed), 1/2 red chilli (or 1/2 teas chilli flakes), juice of 1 orange (with half the zest), 3 finely chopped dates

Do It

Make your juice first and then placed all ingredients in a food processor.  Blitz and add the juice gradually.  We think a minute or so is enough, maintain a few chunks, a longer blitz means a smoother soup.

Pre-blitz

Serve

Just not quite chilled and with a good handful of freshly chopped coriander (cilantro) as a topping and a scattering of sprouted mung beans.

We Love It!

Our favourite soup yet and deserving of the Black Prince’s great sacrifice.

Black Prince Cherry Tomato and Coriander Soup

Foodie Fact

In America ‘heirloom’ veggies are all the rage.  The Black Prince is an ‘heirloom’ fruit, which basically means that they are pure seeds and have not been touched by any GM crops.  At local markets in Britain, it is great to see people growing our indigenous varieties again, all mis-shapen and knobbly, with real flavours and textures.  Many people are single handedly keeping these varieties in existence and passing on these heirlooms to future generations.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Local food, Raw Food, Recipes, Soups, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Raw Strawberry Tartlets

Raw Strawberry Tartlets

This is a variation on our Raw Summer Berry Cheesecake that was SOOOOO GOOD we thought we would do it again… only adding some different ingredients to make it tastier and a little more interesting (and smaller!).  One for the sweet tooth and can be eaten on a raw food diet too.  Try it, it’s amazing!

It was a beautiful sunny day so I put on my shorts, went in the garden, felt super-summery, and then decided to surprise Lee with a beautiful treat for when he got home from work.  The strawberries were farm-fresh, juicy, and looked oh so irresistible in the fridge, and the result was a delightful delicate mix of this rich nutty sticky base with it’s thick creamy sweet fruity topping. Such sunny decadence!!!

I just love raw food preparation and cooking. It’s quick, there is very little mess or washing up, and I really feel like I am learning so much about how to combine the ingredients and flavours. It’s so incredible how tasty these blends of foods can be and how versatile these ingredients are – the topping in this recipe is unbelievable!  Tahini never tasted so good.

Raw Strawberry Tartlets

The Bits

 

Base

200g dates, 200g soaked almonds, large handful sultanas, large handful cashew nuts, a shake of cinnamon, a shake of ground (or chopped) ginger

The delicious creamy topping

1 large banana, juice of one lemon, 2 tablespoons of tahini, 8 dates
with chopped strawberries for the topping

Do It

So here’s how it’s done!

Base – Blend the ingredients for the base in a food processor. Make little balls with the mixture and squash flat to make little round mini-bases. This took the longest out of everything because the mixture gets so sticky. Make as many bases as you want, any size or shape you want! Worth persevering with your sticky fingers for the end result 🙂

Topping – Blend everything together and smooth the lovely thick mixture on to your bases. Throw on some chopped strawberries, or any other fruit you may have that looks beautiful; and serve straight away.

You can keep the base and topping separate in the fridge and they will keep well for a few days.  Only add the fruit just before serving for the freshest taste imaginable!

Serve

We like it all left out of the fridge, at room temperature.  Served in the garden and eaten with teaspoons (to prolong the happiness).  Normally with a nice cup of Rooi-al (Rooibos tea with almond milk) or Rooi-soy (with soya milk).  The perfect little summer treat.

We Love It!

This is so simple.  The most delicious dessert and minimal effort…leaving more time for eating!!!

 

Foodie Fact

Strawberries are actually native to Europe, and technically a ‘creeper’.  Nothing evokes summertime in Britain more than the coming of the strawberry.  Strawberries are very high in vitamin C, our anti-oxidant friend and vitamin B. They also contain plenty of vitamin B and E and have good levels of mineral content.  They are also full of phyto-nutrients that are brilliant for the body, they fight diseases and other nasty things.  Oh, and they are low in calories.

Enjoy!! xxx

Jane x

Categories: Desserts, Raw Food, Recipes, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Warm Green Salad with Rapeseed Oil Dressing

Warm and Green Summer Salad

A quick and easy summer salad with many a luxury touch.  The method here is simply blanching the veg and hopefully maintaining alot of their goodness.  You certainly don’t want to cook veggies until they lose their crunch, that is utter madness.  Veggies should be alive and crispy when eaten!

This salad was so green, it was jumping out of the bowl (if that makes any sense at all!)  All the veg here are seasonal, from the farm (bar the Avocado which I think flew over from Mexico), the basil came from the bush on the windowsill and even the oil and salt are Welsh.  It is so great to eat something made from produced sourced locally.  We have really struggled this year to gather together good, organic produce.  But the sun is out today and all is blooming, hopefully the next few weeks will see more harvesting and beautiful produce up for grabs.  Even our rainbow chard in the garden is looking good for the plate.  Amazing what a little sun can do!

The dressing is made with Blodyn Aur Rapeseed Oil, a real find in Wales.  Great folk who use the cold press techniques of olive oil making to produce a stunning rapeseed oil.  Real food heroes who enrich our lives with beautiful oil.  The flavour is very buttery, nutty and smooth and the colour is the brightest gold.  This oil also has bags of Omega 3 essential fatty acids, which are great for us.  If you live in Britain, I hope you can track some down.  It is like no other oil I have come across.

We also used some local sea salt flavoured with celery.  Halen Mon are a family business making salt from the pure water of the Menai Straits on Anglesey, we can seem them from the kitchen window of the Beach House Kitchen and have never tasted salt this good.  Really.  It’s amazing salt.  See our Halen Mon post here.

We always have a good stock of seeds, but if you don’t have sesame or flax, any seed will do really.  Although poppy seed would be a little strange.  We like adding flax to dishes because it is good for the digestive system.

A opposed to our normal raw food fare, this warming (I wouldn’t go as far as cooking!) of the salad really brings out the flavour of the dressing.  We have also recently been told that it is not such a good idea to each French beans or broad beans raw.  They contain things that may do you no good.

Rapeseed Flower

PS – A handful in our recipes is probably about a cup (in our hands!).  Maybe yo have different names for these beans, fava etc.  I hope you know what we are talking about here!

The Bits

Salad – 1 ripe avocado (chopped), 3 handfuls of spinach, 1 small sweet onion, 3 handfuls of chopped french beans, 2 handfuls of podded broad beans, 1 stick of finely sliced celery, 1/2 handful of chopped basil leaves, 2 teas sesame seeds, 2 teas flax seeds.

Dressing  – Freshly squeezed juice of a lemon, 3 tbs great oil (olive or we used local rapeseed oil, it has a lovely buttery flavour), 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 teas organic honey, cracked black pepper, sprinkle of sea salt (we used Halen Mon celery salt).

Do It

Gather all your broad beans, french beans, onion, place in a bowl/pan and pour over just boiled water.  Leave to sit for a few minutes.  Make the dressing, add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk vigorously with a fork or small whisk.  Drain you veggies and add to a large salad bowl (or any good looking receptacle), mix in your avocado, celery and basil leaves (gently does it) and pour over and stir in your dressing.

Warm Green Salad with Rapeseed Oil Dressing

Serve

Warm, with smiles and summer joy.

We Love It!

All good local fare; seasonal veggies that are so full of flavour and the vibrant dressing adds a lovely rich citrus kick.  A bowl full of the joys of these lands.

Foodie Fact 

Unlike all other vegetable oils, cold pressed rape seed oil contains a natural balance of omega 3, 6 and 9 oils, making it a great source for these essential fatty acids. ‘Good oils’ are essential in bodily functions, including aiding cholesterol reduction, and maintaining a healthy heart.  Omega 3 is a rare oil, that can be difficult to include in our diet.  Rapeseed oil also contains Vitamin E, a powerful anti-oxidant.

Categories: Recipes, Salads, Summer, Vegan, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Vegan Chocolate and Almond Ice Cream

One big pile of Vegan Chocolate Nut Ice Cream

The Beach House Kitchen is definitely rustic.  Not in the manufactured ‘rustic’ sense of the word, I mean we have sheep invading our front garden and no coffee shop within a half hour drive.  The wind howls and we regularly have horses looking into our bathroom window (which can be quite a shock when you’re getting out of the shower!).  We live out here and it’s beautiful!

I try and convey this country feel in our pictures, I just don’t have the gadgets (and time) to make our food look so polished.  I am in awe of many blogs that manage to make any dish look like food of the Gods.  When it’s so grey outside, taking photographs of food just doesn’t do the dish justice.  One blog who constantly dazzles with its photographs and gorgeous food is 84th&3rd.  This recipe is inspired by their Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream recipe.   This is one of those food blogs that is so delicious and sexy, you just want to try out all of the recipes.

This is an amazing recipe that will blow anybody away.  Vegan or otherwise.  Even the hardest of hardcore Ben and Jerry lovers will be impressed with this ice cream.  It is a wonder, with purely natural and healthy ingredients.  Good fats and sugars ahoy!

The Beach House additions to this recipe were mainly nutty.  Almonds to be exact, although pecan and cashews would be lovely also.  We used soaked almonds here, the soaking brings out the nutrients and also makes them nice and plump and soft, ready for blending.  Soak your nuts!  It helps.

Cacao powder is a great investment, a little costly, but a small spoonful goes a long way.  It is surprisingly chocolaty and opens a doorway into much sweet experimentation.  Contrary to popular misconception, vegan ice cream can be rich and we’ve turned to the old favourite, avocado, to give things that creamy richness that diary normally would.

Cacao Beans

Cacao or Cocoa?

Cacao is not cocoa, cocoa is not cacao. They are very similar in every way, which can be confusing, but one way they differ greatly is nutritionally. Cacao is raw, meaning not heated to an extent that fragile enzymes and nutrients are destroyed, cocoa is heated (although still very tasty).  Raw chocolate is brilliant for the body (in moderation) and big slab of Cadbury’s just ain’t so great.

Try to buy organic with your cacao, they use a load of pesticides and bad things in cacao growing.  There’s no point going healthy and opting for a chemical cocktail, it will probably be the matter of a few pennies more.

Bananas (not ripe yet)

Bananas

The bananas here, and in general, should be getting towards brown.  Some brown spots and a nice soft banana is important.  They will be alot sweeter and better for you (I won’t bore you with the science of it this time, see the ‘Foodie Fact’ for that).  Most places sell bananas way to early, meaning we eat them far too early.  We try and buy bananas a week in advance so they are nicely ripened when we get around to them.  Bananas are an essential part of any healthy foodies diet.  They are so packed with sugar and can add super sweetness to all kinds of things.  No added sugar required when a banana is in town.  It  is a nice idea to keep some bananas (and fruit in general) chopped and ready in the freezer.  It keeps them fresh and is perfect for making smoothies etc.

This recipe is so easy to prepare, no need for an ice cream blender (which is surely a dust trap/ counter clutterer waiting to happen).  It just needs a little stirring and a freezer and you have a gorgeous, very chocolaty ice cream.

You may like to add even more chocolate to this recipe, just bash up a bar of your favourite dark chocolate or add cacao nibs for the healthier touch.  This adds some nice crunchy bits, as does the almonds.  If you like a smoother ice cream, just blend for longer.

Jane sneaks in

The Bits

1 cup soaked almonds (overnight), 1 ripe avocado, 2 large frozen bananas (chopped up), 1/4 cup cacao powder, pinch good sea salt (we use halen mon tahitian vanilla sea salt), 1 tsp maple syrup/ honey, 3 tbsp bashed up dark chocolate or cacao nibs (for serious chocolate fiends only)

Do It

Blend up the almonds first for a minute then add your banana, avocado and salt using a food processor until smooth.  Chop up the rest of the almonds into rough looking pieces and stir them through with cacao powder until well combined.  Add maple syrup/ honey. Stir through chocolate chunks/ cacao chips if using.

Pour into an old ice cream container, or something of those dimensions. Stir every 30 minutes or so, breaking up frozen bits and mixing until smooth. Do this approximately four times if you can.  You may also like to dust off and put into use your ice cream maker here.

Set out for 15 or 20 minutes to soften slightly before using, it is easier to scoop this way. Sharing is optional.

Serve

We had ours with blueberries and chopped banana, with a little more chopped almonds on top.

We Love It!

The texture of this ice cream is so rich and has a lovely smooth nuttiness.  We cannot believe how healthy and delicious it is, we will be making more of this.  Alot more.

Foodie Fact

When bananas ripen proto-pectin is converted into digestible, soluble pectin and starch is also converted into sugars of which 20% is glucose, 14% is fructose and the remaining 66% is sucrose.

Bananas give off a large amount of ethylene, which helps fruits ripen.  If you have any fruits  that need ripening, pop them in a bowl with the bananas and wait a day.  They use this ethylene to turn green oranges orange.  Many people don’t like the look of a green orange, even though they are ripe.  We do funny things with our food!

Bananas also contain our happy friend trytophan, that converts to serotonin and makes us shine.  See our ‘Mood Foods….’ post for more info on happy veggie foods.

Categories: Desserts, Recipes, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Stuffed Courgette with Hazelnut and Peach

The Bits

Cooking is still a bit weird here after all of our raw escapades.  We are still eating mainly raw, with a few exceptions, when the produce and mood take us in a hotter direction.  I need to keep my hand in because of the work that I do.

I’ve always loved a stuffed veg, Mum used to make stuffed peppers back in the dark ages on the early 90’s.  Mum’s always been a bit of a maverick.  I remember the first time she made cheesecake, in the mid 80’s with cheddar cheese!  The family all came around to try this new found food.  We’ve come a long way since then.

This is a dish along the lines of the millions of other ‘stuffed’ dishes on cyber space, the only difference being, this is ours and its only semi-stuffed.  Recipes that spring to mind via what you have at hand are always my favourite.  Spur of the moment cooking, making the best of what you have.  This recipe goes against all of the food combining advice that we have been following recently, but we felt like living dangerously!

We are lucky to have brilliant courgettes at the moment from the farm and some sweet ripe peaches; combine that with a nut cabinet that never runs dry, mint growing wild like a madman in our garden and the ever-present cauliflower and you have the makings of a feast.

I decided to add the cauliflower to the cous cous, I love the subtle flavour that cauliflower gives off when steamed/ boiled.  It added great flavour to the cous cous.

Being very much an amateur cook, I make many mistakes, or as I call them, great opportunities to learn.  Cooking with an electric hob can be a real drag, but that is what we have.  I much prefer gas stoves, mainly for controlling the heat by eye.  When cooking the cous cous and cauliflower here, I forgot that the hob was still on very low and went off to do other things (drink tea), leaving the poor cous cous to overcook.  Oh well, this is ‘real’ cooking and it still tasted good, if a little soft and congealed.

The French beans here are optional and can be substituted with anything else green and is season.  Peas, spinach, broad beans etc would be grand.

We are an energy conscious household at the Beach House and don’t like turning on the oven unless very much necessary, namely, when we have lovely guests.  Otherwise, it’s all hob.  These courgettes could be blanched off in boiling water then thrown in a hot oven for a while, that would be nice.  We have opted for the simpler and more efficient method of re-using your frying pan.

This is an ideal seasonal summer lunch which oozes flavour.  All that sweetness and crunch with the bitterness of the olives.  You could even cook the courgettes on the barbecue if you fancy!

Peaches and Raisins

The Bits 

2 cup wholemeal cous cous (or brown rice, quinoa etc), 1/2 cauliflower (chopped finely), 1tbsp good veg stock, 1 large onion (chopped), 10 french beans (topped and tailed and chopped), 1 teas carraway seeds, 2 cloves garlic (minced/ finely chopped), 1/2 cup olives (sliced, we like the green ones), 1 ripe peach (finely chopped), 3 tbsp hazelnuts, 2 tbsp raisins (chopped), 2 tbsp mint (chopped), 1 tsp parsley (chopped), sea salt and cracked black pepper, 1 tbsp good oil, 4 courgettes (halved lengthways)

Chopped Cauliflower

Do It

Boil some water in a saucepan (follow quantities written on your cous cous packet, you will need a little less due to the water given off by the cauliflower) and stir in your stock, add your finely chopped cauliflower and cous cous, stir a little then tightly cover and leave off the heat to cook for 20 minutes.  Fluff cous cous with a fork and re-cover until needed.  If more water is needed, add now.

Heat your frying pan, add your hazelnuts and warm them through, lightly roasting them.  Allow to cool, chop up into chunks.

Then heat some oil in the pan, gently soften your onions for 5 minutes, until slightly golden; add carraway seeds and french beans.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, then add your mashed garlic, cook for 5 minutes more.

Gently soften your onions

Now add your mint, parsley and chopped hazelnut, stir for a minute to heat through, then add your cous cous and cauliflower, raisins, olives and peaches, with plenty of cracked pepper and some sea salt.  Combine well.  Be gentle with the cous cous here, you don’t want a mush!  Cover pan and keep warm.

In another large frying pan, heat some oil and on a low/med heat, fry your courgettes face down.  Allow them to colour for a few minutes then flip over, repeat this twice and the they should be cooked.  You don’t want to overcook the courgette, it should still have a little crunch in the middle.

Stuffed Courgette with Hazelnuts and Peach

Serve

Place two courgettes on a plate, leave a little space inbetween, spoon over your filling.  Pile it nice and high, finish with some of your chopped herbs.

We Love It!

This is a great dish, ideal for a light summer dinner.  The combination of flavours and textures here is something that delights the mouth (even with overcooked cous cous)!

Stuffed Courgette with Hazelnut and Peach

Foodie Fact

Cous cous is small balls of semolina flour, whole wheat cous cous is made with wholewheat flour and has higher nutritional properties.  Wholewheat cous cous  contains higher fibre and iron than the normal stuff, 1 cup gives you a third of your daily fibre requirement.

Categories: Lunch, Recipes, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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