Wales

BHK Lockdown Diary – Sunshine, Cakes and Frogs

Welcome to lockdown BHK style.  I’ve lost count how long we’ve been hanging out around the garden and house, but we’re the very lucky ones, with a garden and loads of Snowdonian sunshine!  It’s been like Bermuda up here for the past couple of months which has made this whole time feel much brighter for us.  

We’ve been getting on with cooking new recipes, playing with new ideas in the kitchen and in the garden too.  The veg patch is up and running, we have modest ambitions and if we get a few Broccoli floret and a cabbage out of it, we’ll be very happy.  The slugs round here resemble ugly anacondas (I like snakes).  We’ve been really fortunate with all the foragables in the area, loads of sorrell, nettles, hawthorn and crab apple flowers, fresh hawthorn leaves, mints, dandelions, wild garlic, all the joys of spring and early summer.  All that makes for some pretty awesome salads!  

 

Slice of our White Pizza, Vegan Style! Middle-Eastern Flavours – Roasted Cauliflower and Red Onions, Za’atar and Roasted Garlic Puree, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Sumac

 

In these uncertain times (how many times are we reading those words of late!!) we feel blessed to have a local supply of organic veggies.  Our veg box is one of the highlights of the week and Tyddyn Teg are producing an amazing array of fresh local veg for us to base our vegan dreamin’ on.

People keep talking of a new world sprouting out of this, we’re ever hopeful that things will get better and we’ll start taking better care of each other, animals and the world.  One of the key factors for us is a vegan lifestyle, but also keeping food local.  Focusing more on local, sustainable, organic farming.  I don’t like the idea of massive corporations feeding us. I can’t trust those who put profit before health and wellbeing.  I can see from our groups and your emails that many of you are growing your own and from a produce point of view, it doesn’t get any better than that!  I don’t really have very green fingers, but I’m good at getting my hands muddy.  Does that count?        

 

Jane out by the pond, there are loads of frogs, newts and toads this year. We’re keeping it topped up and making shelters for them around the ponds.

 

Vegan Shish Kebab – Marinated Tempeh, Tofu and Oyster Mushrooms with Apricots, Tahini Sauce and Pilaff. Oh, there’s a Beetroot and Ajwain Flatbread too:)  Got to have big colours!!

 

We think we’ve noticed more birds and insects in the garden.  There’s definitely more newts and frogs this year, we’re being invaded!  They try and get into the house, which is very cute.  I was hanging the washing out the other day and a Peregrine Falcon leapt out of a bush.  What sight!  It was amazing to see such a bird of prey up close.  We get the buzzards overhead, but they rarely land near the garden.  We’ve also made friends with the local horses, see below.  Bob, Tanny and Hera are our names for them and they seem to be warming to us.  They’ve started to hang our beside our wall and even lie in the sun just outside our bathroom window.  It’s lovely to wake up to see horses chilling and rolling around.  Every sunset we get a crescendo of grunting horses, blackbirds twittering and the occasional croak from the pond.  

 

Meet Bob – One of the neighbourhood horses who keeps us company in the garden.  We raided there fields the other day and now have a mighty pyramid of horse poo.  For the garden next year. 

 

Pineapple and Pistachio Up-side Down Loaf with a Rose and Cacao Sauce.  Gluten-free.  I’ve had some extra time to experiment with new recipe ideas.  I cook something everyday and have realised I’ll never get through the backlog of recipes I’d like to share here.  Maybe you could give me an idea of what you’d like to see?  I’m sure I’ll have a recipe tucked away somewhere for yah!!  

 

Plenty of brews in the garden to wash down all the cake;) Apparently we’ve both got sun tans from being out in the garden, hanging out with frogs and cabbages.  

 

Sunsets!!!

[caption id="attachment_10516" align="aligncenter" width="470"] We’ve got Sorrel coming out of our ears. I love the zesty flavour in salads, stews/ soups

 

Summers really kicking in over here. We’re enjoying loads of salads, this one includes Korean Mint, an interesting member of the mint crew. It looks like marijuana, but tastes like mint crossed with liquorice. Apparently bees, butterflies and hummingbirds like it. So it must be cool.

 

We try to keep the BHK blog up-to-date, but there’s plenty more vegan cooking action and chat over on our Facebook cooking group

 

We’re loving our afternoon walks up the hills. Appreciating more than ever right now!  

 

This is part one, more BHK lockdown pics coming soon.  

 

We’re ever sending positive vibes and best wishes your way. 

 

 

Categories: healthy, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Peace and Parsnips, photography, plant-based, Summer, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Quarantine Curry – Quick Spicy Tomato Masala with Cauliflower, Mango and Spinach

Quarantine Curry – Quick Fragrant Tomato Masala with Cauliflower, Potatoes and Spinach – Vegan, Gluten-free

 

Quarantine cooking.  Means simply making the most of what we’ve got! 

This was last nights dinner in the BHK,

I can’t think of a much easier, less fuss-free way of preparing a curry.  

 

This was such a hit over on our vegan cooking group, we had to share it.  Thanks so much for all the continued support and enthusiasm.  Your kind wishes here and on Instagram etc are really inspiring.  It sounds like you’re mainly positive about this ‘new normal’ that we’re all finding ourselves in.  Most countries around the world are on ‘lockdown’, and most of you are finding time to get cooking at home, which is great.  Hang in there!!  Let’s eat healthy:)    

This is probably not the most enticing of recipe titles, but it’s pretty accurate!  What can we do?!  Cook with what’s at hand and hopefully this curry does just that, using only ground spices and a few simple ingredients and veg.  You can use any veg in fact, the sauce/ masala is the key.  Getting it well cooked, nicely spiced, with a nice hit of fruity sweetness to tickle the tastebuds.

 

We need less than we think to cook delicious food!

 

We’re loving our walks like never before.   Appreciating the awesome mountains where we live.  Last nights giant pink moon rising over Mount Snowdon. Spectacular!!

Making the most of what we’ve got

Really, the best way to cook is making the most of what we’ve got.  Always.  Not just now.  So this could be the time we get into some really good kitchen habits.  Learning new skills to take humble ingredients and give them a makeover.  Make them shine!  Good food is not fancy or expensive, it’s cooked with care, with passion and focus.  

We very rarely buy anything especially for a recipe, we just cook with what’s local, seasonal and in the cupboard/ spice rack.  It’s where I get my inspiration as a cook, a window to get creative and challenge myself.  Let’s see these restrictions as a chance to try new things, new flavour combos, new textures and techniques, and always minimising waste.  

We love cooking and buying food, partly because it is such a precious resource.  I’m lucky, because Jane is a storage expert!  An amazing stock rotator and tin stacker!!  Never a rubbery carrot wasted in the BHK.

Keep it spicy!

So here we’ve got dried spices, not fresh ginger, onions, chilli or garlic, which is normally where I start most curries.  Try to use as fresh spices as you can, but this is quarantine curry, swap and choose as you like.  If you’re short of cumin or coriander, sub with a little more curry powder.  If you don’t have fenugreek, no probs, just add a little more cumin or curry powder.  They’re really the base notes for the flavour and in time, you’ll get your favourite balance, you’re own perfect masala mix.  

Keep your spices in airtight containers, out of the way of damp and sunlight.  As fresh as you can.  Keeping them spicy!  If you have whole spices, toasting and grinding your own is the way to go.  I realise that’s a bit of a luxury, but you can’t beat those gorgeous flavours.        

We’ve been doing lots of chilling, digging and some planting in the garden. But mainly chilling.  It looks like all our trees survived the winter up here (which is not a given) and we’ll get a nice little crop of plums, apples, pears and maybe the odd cherry?  You never know.

Up on the hill

We’ve had a brilliant weather for the past few weeks and are feeling settled up here on Tiger Hill.  We live in a tiny village and people are in their gardens and taking daily walks more than ever, which is really nice to see.  Even though we can’t get close, it feels good to just exchange waves and smiles.  Bringing the village together.  It’s never been truer than now, we’re all in this together!!  

Somedays we’re feeling the sheer scale and global suffering relating to this situation, and on others, enjoying the newts and birds in the garden.  We’re basing our days around focusing on those we love what makes us feel grounded and inspired.  Cooking has always been a place where I can relax, retreat and focus my mind, a release at these times.  We will be sharing our wellness tips in a post very soon.  

We’re keeping healthy and in a positive frame of mind.  This feels like just the beginning of something, so we’re trying to chill, be open minded and ride it out.  Good food always helps!  

I hope you like these photos, we’ve been taking our walk around the hill at sunset and there’s been many a firework show!  Looking out across the Irish Sea towards Ireland.  We feel VERY lucky, everyday, to be together up here, with a garage full of lentils.

 

Sending you all the best of bestest wishes, good health and sensational spiceX      

 

Jane up with the stone circle (now a triangle?!) What a place to stretch your legs!!

Recipe Notes

Chilli!  How’d you like it?  I’ve gone for mild here, but add another 1/2-1 teas if you’d like to feel the fire.  

The same goes for the mango chutney.  Many people like a sweeter style curry, it’s one of the tricks in curry houses, making your curries slightly sweeter (and also richer) than at home.    

Vegetable wise, you can use any similar quantities of cooked vegetables.  Steamed, roasted, pan-fried, however they come.  This curry is an ideal home for leftover veg, a good meal for the day after a roast dinner.   A banging sauce, pre-made, then add your vegetables and maybe a few more spices and fried garlic or ginger, a little yoghurt/ coconut milk, a sprinkle of fresh coriander….  It’s such an easy way to approach making curry, and the foundation is always a tasty masala sauce.  Having a masala sauce ready for action in the fridge is a cooks dream!   

Frozen spinach is a great idea.  Frozen vegetables and fruits are still filled with nutrition and flavour.  We always keep a good stock of frozen fruits for smoothies (they even sell frozen avocado now!) and veg for stews and soups.  Fresh is best.  Most of the time.  But not always. Frozen does have benefits.  It’s right there, ready, and like I said, it’s normally picked ripe, so there is even more nutrients than lots of frozen produce.  

[caption id="attachment_10271" align="aligncenter" width="470"] Vegan Cauliflower and Potato Curry – Quick and easy using simple ingredients. Ideal for lockdown:)

 

Quarantine Curry – Quick Spicy Tomato Masala with Cauliflower, Potatoes and Spinach

Vegan, gluten-free, oil free option 


The Bits – For 4

Fragrant Tomato Masala
400g passatta or tinned chopped tomatoes
2 tbs tomato puree
1 tbs mango chutney
300ml vegetable stock

4 teas good quality curry powder
1 1/2 teas garlic powder
1 1/2 teas ground ginger
2 teas ground coriander
2 teas ground cumin
1/2-1 teas chilli powder
1/2 teas ground fenugreek
1 teas sea salt

Vegetables
300g frozen spinach leaves
300g cauliflower florets
400g boiled/ steamed new potatoes (cut in half)
2 tbs cooking oil (I use cold-pressed rapeseed oil)

Do It
In a sauce pan, add all of your masala ingredients, bring to a simmer and pop a lid on. Leave to cook gently for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  That easy!!

In a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan, add the oil on medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add your cauliflower and potatoes and cook for 8 minutes. Turning the veggies occasionally, getting some nice caramelised edges. 

Add the spinach to the pan and pour the masala sauce over the vegetables, gently stir, careful not to break up the vegetables.  Pop a lid on and leave to bubble for a couple of minutes, cooking until your spinach is soft and vibrantly green.  Check seasoning, adding salt and chilli as you like.  

Ideally, serve with basmati rice, a simple raita, pickles and warm chapati’s.  It’s thali time!

If you’d like to make this recipe oil free, simply cook your vegetables without oil!  Steamed vegetables is a great option.  

 

Stunning sunsets, exploding sun. Wandering around Tiger Hill, looking over towards Ireland, Snowdonia (our extended back garden;)

 

Foodie Fact

Jane’s fav.  Potatoes!  Spuds are full of good stuff.  A sprinkling of good protein and fibre with nice minerals, like potassium, and plenty of vitamin C.  Leave the skins on and the nutritional value shoots up.  This goes for most vegetables. 

 

 

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Categories: Curries, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Sending Good Vibes! BHK news and how we’re keeping well

Nourishing, simple, vegan cooking skills and knowledge is so important at times like this, giving our bodies and minds the good fuel and flavours they need to be healthy.

    

All of our plans and work for the year are cancelled, which feels both expansive and daunting, sometimes at the same time.  We’re sitting, chilling and breathing it all in at the minute.  Seeing what arises and getting prepared for a lengthy spell of uncertainty and big changes in the way we live.  Most of all, we’re staying at home!  

 

Spanish Dreams

We were moving to Spain a month ago and were in the final stages of buying a olive/ fruit farm in rural Spain.  A little slice of paradise, tucked away in the mountains of Murcia, where we could grow Mediterranean crops and make our own olive oil and wine.  I would be cooking homegrown in an outside kitchen and it even had it’s own spring.  We were over the moon to have found such a place, but it turned out that this idea was affected by Brexit and then, BOOM, Coronavirus lands and the rest of our year is turned upside down, shaken, then plonked back down looking bewildered, exasperated and a little afraid.  I’m sure you know the feeling. 

We know that what is to come will be tough, for us all in a variety of ways, each of us will experience uncertainty, loss and fear in one way or another.  We realised we are in a very privileged position and feel deeply for those who are suffering globally from health issues, themselves or within families, friends and communities.  The poorest in the world are the first and worst to suffer.  Also, those who have pressing financial worries and are trying to run businesses and have uncertain work futures.  We especially feel and offer fortitude and support to healthcare and charity workers, as well as other essential, frontline workers. Keeping the systems going that support our societies and our most vulnerable.  We hope you are well protected, healthy and rewarded for your bravery and incredible efforts.   

 

Compassion, community and kindness will get us through.  

 

Support local 

Big shout to our local organic farm superheroes, Tyddyn Teg, who will be supplying ourselves and the local community with organic veg throughout the year. Re-focusing on local produce and small businesses, growing our own food, simplifying and living a more sustainable life is more relevant now than ever.  If you have the means, distributing and investing money locally and to small businesses is so important. 

 

We are well!

Jane and I are well.

I am sure many of you are being creative and flexible in the way you’re looking at the future. How can we adapt, stay safe and earn a living in these times?  We shall see, but good energy and positivity will go a long way.  

It would be awesome to communicate and we invite you to be part of our positive on-line communities:

Our Faceboook vegan cooking group is here

Let’s eat well!  Share good vibes and tasty treats!  Develop grounding rituals and healthy habits. We hope the BHK is somewhere you can escape to for a while, topping up on happiness and inspiring recipes.   

Looking out towards Ireland, across the Irish Sea. I love this rock formation, it looks like an ancient settlement (with a view!) and makes me feel connected to the land and my impermanence in this majestic landscape

Take good care

At this time, we feel it’s essential that we focus on self-care.  Understanding how we can find balance, peace and good health in our lives.  We ever wish to take you on that journey in a holistic way, feeling that good health isn’t just good eating, but good movement, good breath, good mentality, good connections with nature and others, good vibes from the heart and lots of love and positive energy.  

Self-care beginning with the heart, opening up to love.  We feel that having clarity and peace of mind will help us make good decisions, for us and those around us.  

The world may seem to be spinning out of control but nature tells us otherwise.  Beautiful weather and the sights and smells of early Spring are in the air.  

Good health does not need to be complicated, and even with extended self-isolation and uncertainty, we can still find peace.  Good health does not need to cost anything, we have our mind and bodies, these are the only tools necessary to unlock vitality and wellness.  With regular practice, discipline and good intentions, the techniques below can transform our lives! 

We can exercise well in a small space.  Check out our friends Complete Unity Yoga and their guide to starting a yoga practice at home:

Find Peace and Calm – Yoga at home

We also love these yoga sequences

Also, here are some relaxing and empowering breathing techniques with that dude, Mr Wim. Boost your immune system and find peace:

Life Changing Breathing techniques

Meditation is an excellent practice to calm the mind and boost the immune system.  Jane’s favourite is Tara Brach:

Meditation practice 

Breathe in, smile.  A beautiful meditation here

Fermentation is a delicious way of preparing and preserving food, as well as boosting our health and immune system in general.  We have fermenting recipes here and our favourite fermentation website is Nourished by Nature:

Fermenting Foods – Immune system support and health

You’ll find most of our recipes, except the most recent, right here.  Plenty to choose from:

Simple, healthy vegan recipes from the BHK

We can also put you in touch with excellent therapists and healers; herbal, homeopathic, nutritionists and much more.

 

Our plan

We don’t have one!  Things are changing too quickly at the minute.  We’re getting prepared and trying to be as proactive as we can.  Staying at home and educating ourselves about the situation at hand.  We’ll be regularly turning our thoughts inwards and reflecting, adapting, finding balance, allowing creativity to flow and embracing what we have and the opportunities presented.  Staying alert and aware, asking questions.  Taking regular breaks from phones, social media, news and the like.  Going outside, spending time in nature.       

We’re focusing, as I’m sure you are, on our local situation, supporting family, friends and the local community.  What we can control, we try our best in, what we cannot, we are aware of, but let go.    

 

So, how are you feeling? 

Can we help and support you at this time? 

What kind of foodie things would you like to see us doing? 

 

So much beauty, even in the smallest parts and details of nature.

 

We light a candle for peace after sunset each evening and you’ll all be in our thoughts and prayers.  This BHK community means a lot to us and you’ve all contributed in making our lives a brighter and more fulfilling place to be.  Thank you.  

Wishing you all good health, safety and fortitude!

 

Another storm is here, but they always pass. 

 

Peace and Love,  

Lee and JaneX          

 

We’ve a decent stash of foraged logs. When we get around to chainsawing, we’re looking forward to a summer filled with fires under the stars.

 

Join our MAILING LIST here for exclusive recipes and BHK news 

 

Email us now – hellobeachhousekitchen@gmail.com

 

 

 

Categories: healthy, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Sustainability, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Coconut and Caulilflower Gigglebean Curry with Coriander and Lemon Chutney

Vegan Coconut and Cauliflower Chickpea Curry – Quick, healthy and delicious!

 

A one pan, seasonal curry.  All vegan and very easy to cook.

 

It doesn’t get much easier and nutritious than this to make a crowd pleasing curry.  This really feels like a bowl of spicy abundance, a staple bowl of sunshine.

This was lunch today as Storm Something-or-Other blows itself up outside.  The trees are rocking, the rain’s coming down sideways, even our blackbird has took shelter just outside the kitchen, not fancying getting mixed up in that raging wind.  But we loved this one, so I thought I’d quickly share it with you.  This is the kind of bowl that will fuel happy bellies in our house all the way through the depths of winter and beyond.

Taking this picture was a little tricky, but the colours are there for you, loads of nourishing ingredients meeting in a vibrant bowl of spicy winter comfort food.  The rain is lashing the house, the wind is whipping the world, but we’re cosying up to a curry.  Happy days!!

Chutney is generally a bit different in India to the British variety (fruity, sweet and sour, eaten with cheese etc).  Chutney can mean many things, a whole variety of pastes and sauce bases.  Here, we’re talking a creamy dip, which adds bags of herbs to any plate of Indian food.  This chutney is versatile and will accompany many dishes, add a twist to a noodle bowl, stirred into a soup, drizzle over salads or even add to an Asian-style sandwich.

What we’ll do here is make a nice thick spiced tomato sauce, then cream it up with coconut, chickpeas are radiant in so many ways, add seasonal veg, a fresh and zesty chutney, there’s a wholeness to this kind of eating.  A mild and satisfying curry with minimal fussin and frettin. Jane is not a fan of chilli, so this is a mellow curry.  Light, something non-curry fans (do they exist?!!!) can enjoy.

 

Enjoy this bowlful of home cooked happiness!

 

I hope you get to try this recipe out, let us know in the comments.  Feel free to say hello or sign up to our newsletter here.  There will be lots of new recipes and travel stories.  I’m heading to Israel, Spain, Italy and Austria soon.  I’ll be doing some cooking and always enjoying the ride!

Plus, I’ll be posting more about our experiences walking the Camino Portuguese from Porto to Santiago de Compostela.  

 

PS – I’m told that Gigglebeans is a nickname for Chickpeas in Germany, and we like it!!

 

Recipe Notes

Coconut cream is the thick cream on the top of many tins of coconut milk.  A fail safe way of getting a good, defined layer of coconut cream is placing the tin into a fridge for a few hours.  Flip it over and open.  Scoop out the coconut cream.  Reserve the rest for adding to soups, cakes or stews.

Use any mix of seasonal vegetables you like here.

This recipe does make a BIG panful!

Taking shelter from the storm – Wintery Vegan Chickpea Curry, full of creamy spiciness, loaded up with nutrition and big flavours, plus some spicy red cabbage ‘kraut

 

Coconut and Caulilflower Gigglebean Curry with Coriander and Lemon Chutney – Vegan, Gluten-free

 

The Bits – For 4-6

2 tbs cooking oil (cold-pressed rapeseed we like)

1 tbs cumin seeds

3 large garlic cloves (finely sliced)

3 tbs fresh ginger (finely sliced)

2-3 teas garam masala

2 teas ground turmeric

150ml hot water

1 tin tomatoes (or equivalent fresh tomatoes)

 

1/2 small/ 400g cauliflower (chopped into chunks)

1 pepper (deseeded, chopped into chunks)

2 tins/480g cooked chickpeas

1 tin coconut milk

 

1 bok/ pak choi (sliced)

3 tbs fresh coriander (finely sliced)

Sea salt

 

Do It

In a large saucepan or frying pan, warm your oil on a high heat, add the cumin seeds.  Stir, then quickly add the ginger and garlic, continue stirring.  Cook for 2 minutes, then stir in your spices, followed by the tomatoes and hot water.  Add 1 teas sea salt and stir.  Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.

Now add your cauliflower and pepper to the mix, stir and cook for 5 minutes.

Pour in you coconut milk and chickpeas, bring to boil again and cook for 5 minutes, more. Check that the cauliflower is cooked, nibble a bit.

Stir in the bok choi and fresh coriander.  Cook for 2 minutes and check seasoning, adding a little more salt if your tastebuds agree.

Serve in a shallow bowl, drizzled with the coriander and lemon chutney.  We added some more freshly chopped coriander and desiccated coconut, along with warm paranthas.  Your favourite rice is also delicious, chopped chillies for spiciness.

All of your favourite curry accompaniments apply too.

 

Coconut and Lemon Chutney 

The Bits – For One Small Bowlful

35g desiccated coconut

60g fresh coriander (with stems)

4 teas lemon juice

4 tbs coconut cream (from the top of a tin of coconut milk)

100ml water

1/2 teas sea salt

 

Do It

Place all into a decent blender.  Blitz on high.  Scrape down the sides and blitz again.  Do this until a creamy chutney is formed.  Taste and add salt as needed.

 

Foodie Fact

Chickpeas are a staple for most of us, so versatile; hummus, stews/ curries, makes an awesome flour (gram), roast them, add them to a cake mix, they know no limitations!!

Maybe you’re not so aware of how amazing gigglebeans are for our dear old bodies.  They’re a good source of protein and fibre, a great start, this means that they’re filling.  They are low GI and are a good source of vitamins and minerals; there’s iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium.

What’s not to love!!

 

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

Vegan Festive Flapjack – Cranberry, Walnuts and Oats (Gluten-free)

Vegan Cranberry and Walnut Flapjack – Sweet and super easy (Gluten-free)

Fruity and nutty.  Sweet and super easy.  Just the way we want them!  

This is my alter ego flapjack, with a festive twist and even healthy.  Lower in sugar and using cold-pressed oil, packed with seeds, nuts and cranberries.  Also gluten-free!  

Something sweet and simple for festive time!  The kitchen is a busy place at this time of year and we all need a quick flapjack recipe up our Xmas sleeves.  Last minute party call, these are a great go-to tray baker.  The ingredients are easy to find, you’ve probably got them tucked away in the kitchen already.  Two bowls, one tray, hot oven…job done.

Blending up the oats, nuts and seeds here makes for a rich and very nutritious flour.  The chia seeds help to bind things together nicely and add a little texture and crunch.  These flapjacks are nice with almonds, and a touch of almond extract, you can use any mix of nuts and seeds you like really.  Flapjacks forgive.

Gluten-free, vegan sweet treats for Christmas. Everyone can enjoy!

One thing we Brits know our way around is a flapjack.  Is that right?  My childhood was built around their sturdy sweet sustenance.  They seemed to be everywhere when I was a kid, every relative made their own brand/ ballast, every school fair would see tents filled with them, golden syrup sales were through the roof in the 80’s.  Sugar was on a high!  You needed a strong jaw and commitment back then to get through most baked goods.

I admit to being sick of the sight of them by age 12.  I find your average joe flapjacks way too sweet and regularly, boring (like a brick).  So I thought I’d revisit this sweet spot.  These are lighter.  I’ve added much less sugar than normal.  They get their sweetness from the cranberries and a touch of cranberry sauce, which gives them a little extra fruitiness.  They are rich, with the oat and nut flour and cold-pressed rapeseed oil.

Flying Flapjacks 

Wintertime in Wales is a precarious time for foodie photos.  It’s dark in mid-afternoon and there are some fiesty winds and driving rain outdoors.  What to do?!  These flapjacks nearly ended up in Dawn’s garden (neighbour), the wind whipped the bread board out of my hand.  I managed to get some decent light by the kitchen window.  I’ve also got this new I-phone thing that has some pretty cool settings, makes everything look good!!  It’s not easy being a caveman in a modern world.

I quite like them dusted with some more cinnamon, or a pumpkin pie style spice mix is ace too

Celebrate Cake

Let’s face the cake facts.  You can’t just have one at Christmas time, you need a long and healthy line of varieties, a cake for each time of day.  I’d tuck into this at ‘elevenses’ (or ‘merienda’, I was raised in the Philippines you see, it means a snack between meals.  It also means the same in Italy, Latin America and Croatia.  I love the world.  We all love cake.)

This would be an excellent kid diversion, when they’re needing something to keep from running wild.  You can’t really go wrong with them. Flapjacks are a bit of fun really!!  Served warm with custard or ice cream and it even ventures into the realm of dessert.

These are fill your boots flapjacks!

Recipe Notes

Most of us have cranberry sauce kicking about the kitchen at this time of year, if not, use another jam or preserve.

Baking in a tin, as opposed to a tray, means that your flapjack gets a good bake and the top doesn’t burn (which happens).  If you’re using a tray, just keep your eye on it.

Add 1 heaped teaspoon of orange zest to take these onto another level.

Festive Flapjacks – The ones that escaped the storm

Vegan Festive Flapjacks – Cranberry, Walnuts and Oats (Gluten-free)

The Bits – For 6 large slices, 12 small 

Dry

150g jumbo oats (gluten-free)

50g walnuts

50g sunflower seeds

25g chia seeds

1 teas ground cinnamon

Wet

75g brown sugar

50ml plant-based milk (g.f.)

100ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil (or other cold-pressed oil)

2 tbs cranberry sauce

75g dried cranberries

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 180oC.

In a bowl, mix together your dry bits, crushing the walnuts up in your hands, making smaller pieces.

Measure your wet bits in a measuring jug, mixing them together.

Place 75g of your dry mix into a blender and blitz until it’s broken down, looking like flour.  Add back to your bowl.

Mix the wet into the dry, until all is nicely combined.  Then add the dried cranberries.

Line a large loaf tin with baking parchment, scoop in your mix and pack it into the corners, smooth off the top.  Nice and neatly does it.

Place in the oven for 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the edges are nice and crispy.

Leave to cool a little in the tin.  Ideally served warm with custard or ice cream, also nice cool with a cuppa.

Packed with nuts and seeds. Hearty and healthy(er)

Foodie Fact

Chia seeds are outrageously healthy!  We add them to many dishes.  Part of the mint family, these little blockbuster seeds are packed with protein (good balance of amino acids), fibre, omega-3 fats and are loaded up with anti-oxidants and minerals.

They were celebrated by many ancient cultures, the Mayan word for strength is actually ‘chia’!!

We’ll have more vegan Christmas recipes coming soon, SIGN UP to our newsletter her and get all the BHK action

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales, Winter | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Cherry, Pistachio and Cacao Smoothie – Plus Smoothie Jedi Tip

Cherry, Pistachio and Cacao Smoothie

I’m gonna smoothie all the way through Autumn! Winter too! The flavours of chocolate and cherry were made for each other. This one’s got that black forest vibe to it, really simple to make and something a little different in your breakfast bowl.

Start the day with something beautiful, something that inspires your tastebuds, something that gives your body a nice healthy hug.

Today we find ourselves halfway up a mountain (where we live) eclipsed by grey mist, grey skies, with the slate grey ocean raging beneath us.  So, I popped out in a window of sun rays to get this shot of breakfast.  I don’t have anything against the colour grey, I have a grey sweatshirt, but in the foodie sphere, I can’t think of a decent grey food.  Nature did not want us eating grey it seems!

Colours!  Vibrancy!  That’s where were are on this hillside.  BHK bowls packed with things to make you purr.  In fact, we had a grey cat named Buster once (some of you will remember that legend).  He was the greatest dash of grey in this old world I tell you.  I miss him.

Smoothies are one way of fixing yourself up for superb things!  There is no way that a smoothie can be anything but awesome.  Vegan, gluten and sugar free, loaded up with everything the body needs, we even add coconut yoghurt here for a probiotic, gut-friendly, boost.  What is not to LOVE!

If this tickles your fancy, let us know below and let’s talk smoothie and vibrant things, beauty bowls, happy days.

——-

**Smoothie Jedi Tip**

Start slow, then build it up.  Start blending your smoothie on low and gradually build it up to full steam ahead.  This helps to incorporate all the lumps and chunks and means less scraping and shaking to get it blended properly.  A Jedi fact.

——-

Recipe Notes

We buy frozen cherries from the supermarkets.  Buying frozen fruits is a great way of preparing for a smoothie-fest.  It also works out cheaper and many of the fruits are frozen ripe, meaning good flavour and a higher nutritional profile.

Go wild with toppings!  We sometimes sprinkle other nuts, muesli/ granola, funky green healthy powders (spirulina, wheatgrass etc), dried berries like raspberry and strawberry are a knockout too!  Occasionally, I rock a drizzle of nut butter or tahini.

 

I’m on Instagram.  Yes, it’s taken me a while…..remember, I’m a mountain dweller, some would say a bit of a caveman in some ways.  But, I’m over there now and sharing my little heart out.  Come and join me, click here!  

 

Beauty bowl! Cherry, Pistachio and Cacao Smoothie – Sugar-free, vegan, gluten-free

 

Cherry, Pistachio and Cacao Smoothie

The Bits – For 2

2 handfuls frozen cherries

1 handful frozen banana

2 tbs vegan coconut yoghurt (cultured preferably)

2 tbs cacao or cocoa powder

Plant Milk (of choice, we used hemp milk)

 

Toppings

Chopped pistachios, goji berries, extra frozen cherries

 

Do It

In a large smoothie cup or blender (we use a Ninja), add all the ingredients and half fill with plant-milk.  Blitz on a low setting first, turning it up to high.  Jedi style!

Give it a shake or a scrape down if it’s not blending straight away.

Pour into a bowl, sprinkled with your toppings.

 

Serving suggestions – Sit somewhere sunny and quiet, take a moment, breathe deep (x5 times), enjoy the peace, grab that spoon…..:) 

 

Foodie Fact 

Cherries are wickedly high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients!  Loaded up with vitamin C and fibre, they’re an ideal winter wonder food.  They can also be awesome for our heart and even help us get a restful sleep.

Cherries.  Yes!  More please.

See, grey can be beautiful!!  Here’s a view from the top of our hill/ mountain. I love this spot!  

 

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

Quick Pickled Rhubarb and Ginger plus The Joys of Spring!

Rhubarb, fresh of the land, organically grown

Here’s a really quick and easy way to pickle rhubarb.  I’ve added some ginger, which gives even more intense and beautiful flavour to this pickle.  The method could not be much easier, and it’s a great technique for preserving delicious produce, enough to enliven any meal!

Rhubarb makes a great pickle, maybe you haven’t tried it?  I find it goes well with Middle Eastern salads, anything with a bit of spice.  I also like it with Japanese style salads. It has a real sweet and sour twang!

When this lovely bunch of rhubarb landed in the kitchen we wondered what to do with it?  How to make it shine!  No crumbles here.  I shouted “Pickle!”   Jane shouted “Ginger!”  And it was as easy as that really.

Nantlle Lake looking stunning in Spring (you can just about see Snowdon from here)

 

It has been a stunning week, Spring has been in full swing (and then it snowed/ hailed for a couple of days!)  A Snowdonian Spring!  It has been still and sunny, and this extra sunlight and warmth has meant some surprises in the poly tunnels.

We’ve had some beautiful and colourful, organically grown, produce coming off the land this week at Trigonos.  Owain (our resident Horticulturalist and Organic Superhero) has been appearing in the kitchen with arm loads of all kinds of goodies.

 

Not sure what you call this one? Golden Chard?  I’ll have to ask Owain

 

Most of these are seeds from last year, that have decided to make an appearance in the poly tunnels; ruby chard, swiss chard, purple rocket and some radiant rhubarb!!

 

You know I love this one. Curly Kale.

 

Along with a host of herbs and a scattering of salad leaves, and of course outside, the wild garlic is doing it’s thing.

 

Ruby Chard, love the vibrant colour!

 

I always feel like the luckiest cook alive to have access to this kind of produce.  Especially at this time of year.

 

Purple rocket. The flavour here is amazing! Very peppery and fruity even.

 

Produce picked in the morning and by lunchtime is being served (or pickled).  I love it!

 

Recipe Note

Only use the pink rhubarb stalks, never the leaves.

Any excess pickling liquor can be used in dressings or to marinade tofu, for example.

 

Quick Rhubarb and Ginger Pickle

 

Quick Rhubarb and Ginger Pickle

 

The Bits – Makes 2 jars

500g rhubarb (finely sliced)

300ml apple cider vinegar

300ml water

4 tbs sugar

8 slices fresh ginger

2 bay leaves

 

Do It

You’ll need two sterilised glass jars with lids.

Gently pack the sliced rhubarb into your jars.  So it’s snug, with a little room left at the top.

Place the vinegar, water, bay leaves, ginger and sugar into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Pour this mixture over the rhubarb making sure all is well covered.   I add the bay leaves and ginger to the jars also.  Leave to cool.

Enjoy! I’d keep this pickle for a week.

Foodie Fact

Rhubarb is packed full of minerals and vitamins. It’s a source of vitamin C, protein, calcium, fibre and beta-carotene.  Plus a whole lot more.  Much more than just a crumble!

 

Categories: Cooking Holidays, Cooking Workshops, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Spring, Vegan, Wales | Tags: | 8 Comments

Quick and Delicious Plant-based Brunch! Middle-Eastern Mushrooms, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Smoky Chickpeas

Weekend Plant-based Brunch

A simple, colourful and delicious brunch that is ready in double quick time.

I wanted something fresh, tasty and healthy this morning.  It’s Sunday, a treat brunch is on the menu!  I love baked beans, but fancied something healthier with a spicy and smoky twist, also pan fried vegetables with some of my favourite flavours of the Middle East.

When this brunch is served with hummus/ tahini sauce and toasted pitta bread, it hit’s the spot; weekend, weekday, in fact any time of day.  Add bulghur wheat or cous cous to make it a hearty lunch or dinner.

Middle-Eastern Mushrooms, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Smoky Chickpeas – Vegan

I love the combination of delicious, fresh vegetables, warm breads, olives, herbs and something tahini-ish.  Its a tried and tested format for a tasty vegan meal.  Light and full of flavour and nutrition.

With that in mind, this is my version of things today, with what we’ve got locally (and in the cupboards/ veg basket).  That’s how my favourite recipes arise, out of necessity and a chunk of inspiration.  Bringing the best out of what you’ve got.  I only ever plan meals if I really have too.

In the pan

It’s that time of year when we’re all feeling the pinch as far as seasonal veggies are concerned.  I can’t wait for Spring, the wild garlic, dandelions, elderflowers, nettles etc all on the way soon.

Trigonos has been stunning this past month, this is where we have coffee/ lunch.  Not a bad view!  The beautiful Nantlle Valley.

At Trigonos, preparation is in full swing for the coming growing season.  The seeds are being sown and the soil prepared.  With all this uncertainty about our food, something to do with that Brexit thing that’s going on, it’s a great time to invest in and celebrate local farmers/ growers.  Having organic local produce available is a real blessing for any cook, but I think anyone can feel the benefits of eating with the seasons and celebrating what’s available in our area.

I’ve traveled all over the UK and there are so many passionate foodies, we’re looking forward to meeting more at this year’s food festivals. 

Hope to catch you there and get loads of new foodie inspiration.  Seems like every year, there is greater diversity at these festivals and plant-based options.

On the plate – quick and delicious weekend treat

Let us know in the comments below if you like the look of this dish, or get to try it out.  We hope you are all well and feeling inspired to cook some fresh and colourful plant-based dishes.  We’re always here to support you if you have any questions.

Happy cooking from the BHK!:)

 

Recipe Notes

Make sure you cook the vegetables on a high heat for a short time, something like a stir fry.  The tomatoes and broccoli will get slightly charred, bringing out the flavours.  Quick and hot will mean the vegetables cook, but don’t get too soft, we seal in the flavours and retain their vitality.

Use any olives you like, but I love the flavour and texture of Kalamata olives.  Make sure they’re de-stoned to avoid any unwanted brunch-based crunches.

This makes a great lunch or dinner, serve with cous cous or bulghur wheat to bulk it out and make the meal more substantial.

 

Middle-Eastern Mushrooms, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Smoky Chickpeas 

The Bits – For 2 as a brunch 

Middle-Eastern Mushrooms
2 large flat mushrooms, portobello or field (chopped in half)
100g/ 2 handfuls purple sprouting broccoli
85g/ 3 handfuls cherry tomatoes
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 heaped teas cumin seeds
16 kalamata olives (de-stoned)
2 tbs olive brine or water
Sea salt and black pepper

Smoky Chickpeas
1 tin chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
2 tbs tomato puree
1 tbs white wine vinegar
1 tbs maple syrup or other sweetener
2 teas smoked paprika
1 teas za’atar or dried thyme
½-1 teas chilli powder
4 tbs water
1/2 teas salt (to taste)

Olive oil (for cooking)

To serve
Hummus or tahini/ tarator sauce
Toasted Pitta Bread

To Do

For the Smoky Chickpeas – Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan.  Warm on a medium heat, cooking for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.  Taste and season with salt.

For the Mushrooms – Trim off the woody ends of your broccoli.  In a large frying pan, add 1-2 tbs olive oil, warm on high heat.  Add the cumin and fresh thyme, then the mushrooms.  Fry for 3 minutes, turning the mushrooms once.

Add the broccoli, tomatoes and olive brine/ water.  Stir and toss the vegetables and cook for 3 more minutes.  Add the olives to the pan and warm for 2 minutes.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

Serve straight away with hummus and toasted pitta bread.

 

In the Trigonos poly tunnels, not much to see yet, but give it a couple of months…..

Foodie Fact

Chickpeas, aka gigglebeans, aka garbanzos, aka the Egyptian pea, are probably the best named legume.  What do you reckon?

It’s a very good idea to eat lots of chickpeas, or at least, enjoy them regularly.  Full of protein and fibre, some calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron…..  Plus they just taste fine, I’ve been making cakes with them!!  There is no end how awesome and versatile the humble chickpea can be.

 

Categories: Breakfast, gluten-free, healthy, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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?

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. 

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 as well.

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.

Beautiful views in wintery Snowdonia

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

Festive Chocolate and Orange Brownie Cake with Mulled Berries – Vegan

A very rich and chocolatey slice of happiness, perfect for Crimbo

I fancied something different this Christmas for dessert.  

 

I wanted the flavours, the spice, the mulled fruits, the richness, but all mingling together in a different way.  So I wrapped them up in a big brownie, with lots of chocolate.  It just seemed like the right thing to do!  

 

This is a decadent brownie cake, very rich, with lovely taste explosions coming from the mulled berries.  Best served warm with vanilla ice cream I’ve found, or whipped coconut cream is also very special.  Plus, it’s a big brownie, so it’s easy to make.  

You could use any dried fruit really in this recipe, but I prefer, and if you can get them, dried cherries, blueberries or the classic cranberry.  If you don’t drink alcohol, you can cook the berries in orange/ cranberry juice or non-alcoholic wine.

I have cooked the mulled berries with a few cloves, star anise and cinnamon.  But I found that it was a fiddle trying to pick out all the spices, they do add some flavour, but we’re just cooking the berries quickly and there is plenty of cinnamon in the cake.  But, by all means, add the spices.

I love the way cinnamon seems to blend and deepen the the flavour of the dark chocolate.  As a cook, I find myself naturally drawn to flavour combinations, sometimes I have to resist, in order to try something new.  Cinnamon, orange and dark chocolate is special trinity of good things in my eyes.

Festive Chocolate and Orange Brownie Cake with Mulled Berries – Vegan

I do like a Christmas pudding and I’ve always loved Christmas cake.  Mum used to bake it in early December and I remember the whole house filled with those beautiful, spicy cake aromas.  But they’ve very much like Christmas pop songs, I don’t mind them once or twice in a year, but anymore makes me feel a bit sickly (see my post on Alternative Christmas songs here ).  But this brownie cake, I’d happily tuck into in the roasting heart of August.  It also makes the house smell pretty damn good too.  

Jane was a big fan of Terry’s chocolate orange, so I have added a twist of orange here.  It’s a match made in lapland or maybe the Swiss Alps!?  Now Terry’s is off the menu, I go for a very dark chocolate flavoured with orange, there are some awesome bars out there.  If only they made them in little globes with segments.  That’s where all the fun is.  The idea as a kid that chocolate oranges could maybe grow on trees just made Christmas even better.

The thing about cooking at Christmas is preparation.  Cook things well in advance and have a plan.  I’ll be posting some Christmas cooking tips and a full cooking plan in the next couple of days.  However, I think this brownie is best served warm, recently taken from the oven.  Leave it to the day, along with your veggies.

I hope you love this recipe and it woo’s and yum’s the whole family, and all your friends and neighbours and people at work.  Who doesn’t love chocolate cake (actually, one of our bestest buds doesn’t like chocolate cake, but generally speaking, it’s a HIT!)  If Christmas is not your cup of tea, or it’s a hard time of year for you, cake is never a bad thing right!

We send you all our love and good vibes at this time of year, a time to eat, drink and snooze by a fire.

 

Have magical and delicious Festive Time 2018!  

Any questions or comments?  They are very welcome down the bottom there in the comments.  Drops us a chat or just say hello.

Sign up for our seasonal newsletter here (loads of cool stuff coming in 2019) or check us out over on Facebook.

 

If you’re looking for a delicious Christmas centre piece, here’s what we’re having this year (plus recipe):

 

Portobello Mushroom Wellington with Toasted Walnut and Rosemary Stuffing

 

Recipe Notes               

You might like to decorate it with dried orange slices, I’ve added the method below.   They also make for nice decorations. 

If you’d like to go very decadent (steady!!), I’ve also added a link to my quick chocolate sauce recipe below, which is ideal for a chocoholic, maybe a little brandy could sneak in there too.    

I do mention this below, but please don’t overbake this.

If you’re wondering where to get vegan cream or ice cream, you’ll find it in most supermarkets now, and supporting your local health food shop is a wonderful thing too.  They’ll have it.

I know what you may be thinking, that’s a lot of chocolate.  It’s Christmas!!!

Just add cream or ice cream….

Festive Chocolate & Orange Brownie Cake with Mulled Berries

The Bits – For 12-14 slices

175g plain flour

175g light brown sugar

1 ½ teas baking powder

20g or 3 heaped tbs cacao/ cocoa

1 ½ teas ground cinnamon

Large pinch sea salt

 

150g dark vegan chocolate 

100ml cold pressed rapeseed/ sunflower oil

1 ½ teas vanilla extract

1 medium orange (zest)

200ml plant milk, I used soya milk

 

Mulled Berries

150g dried fruits, I use cranberries, cherries or blueberries, or a mixture 

3 slices orange

60ml brandy/ whiskey

Optional Spices – 4 cloves, 1 star anise, 1/2 stick cinnamon

 

Decoration

Dried/ fresh orange slices

Icing sugar

Dried cranberries/ cherries or fresh berries like raspberries/ strawberries

Fresh rosemary sprigs

 

Do It

Boil a kettle.  Preheat a fan oven to 180oC.  Grease and line a large round cake tin (23cm) with oil and baking parchment.

 

Mulled Berries – Place your dried fruits into a small saucepan, pour over the brandy, squeeze the juice out of the orange slices and toss them in too.  Bring to a boil and leave to simmer for 3 minutes. The berries should absorb almost all of the brandy.  Set aside to cool.  Remove the orange slices and any orange pips. 

 

Break your chocolate into a bowl, pour the boiled kettle water into a small pan, place the bowl on top and gently warm the chocolate.  Stirring regularly until it’s melted. Don’t let the base of the bowl touch the boiling water when cooking. Set aside to cool a little.

 

Place the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cocoa, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl, mix well together.  

 

In a bowl/ measuring jug, stir together the oil, soya milk and vanilla extract and then pour this into the bowl of dry ingredients, along with the cooled melted chocolate.  Finally add the mulled fruits (with any leftover brandy) and orange zest, fold into the mix.  Don’t over mix, just until it’s all combined.  Pour the mixture into the tin, fashion a level top, and place in the oven.

 

Bake for 18 – 25 minutes, depending on your oven.  Don’t over bake, it should still be a little gooey in the middle when you test it with a skewer.  The brownie cake is ready when a light crust has formed over the whole cake.

 

Leave to cool in the tin, then decorate as you like. Nice and festive!

 

Best served warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.  

 

Orange slices – Place 6 orange slices onto a wire/ cooling rack and into a low oven (120oC).  Cook for 1 hour or more, until they have dried out nicely.

 

Can also be served with 2-minute Chocolate Sauce Recipe

 

Foodie Fact

It’s Christmas, I’m going to leave out the healthy Foodie Fact this time around.  But, I’ll just say this, cinnamon is very high in calcium!  Also a good source of iron.  And this, cinnamon has been used medicinally for thousand years, it is an AMAZING source of anti-oxidants.

Winter is the perfect time of year to get your cinnamon oooon!  We love cinnamon tea and it’s so versatile, add it to smoothies, soups and stews.  The next time you cook rice, pop a cinammon stick or some cinnamon bark into the pot.  Lovely sweet and warming flavours.

Festive Brownie Cake, a BIG part of our Christmas Lunch menu 2018 in the Beach House Kitchen

 

Categories: Cakes, Desserts, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Special Occasion, Vegan, veganism, Wales, Winter | Tags: , , , | 1 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 even know of a guy in a Michelin star restaurant who uses it as a secret ingredient!!

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

Italian Herb and Sun Dried Tomato Dumplings

 

Thanks for your patience everyone, I’ve finally got around to posting this recipe.  It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve had a few things on my plate. As they say.

These dumplings are perfect with pasta and a rich tomato sauce, but also ideal served in a wrap, as a canape/ starter.

This is a simple and versatile recipe that has recently become a staple in the BHK.  I have noticed that non-vegan really dig these, they taste like dumplings but are made with chickpeas and oats.  Easily made gluten-free and can be pan fried or baked.  That to me is the hallmark of a staple recipe, something that is not too fussy, that can be whipped up in a short window of time and most importantly, are very delicious.

Italian Herb and Sun Dried Tomato Dumplings – Just add pasta

MIX IT UP

The base of chickpeas and oats can be played around with, you can take the flavours wherever you’d like to lead them; add spices for Indian dumplings, served with a spicy curry sauce; add za’atar and make things more Lebanese, serve in a wrap with tahini; add some chilli, ginger and coriander, serve with noodles and Chinese sauce (sweet and sour, black bean, hoisin…..)  So, so many ways to make your dumplings shine!!

The autumnal beach – spectacular Snowdonia!

Jane and I are heading over to Spain very soon, can’t wait!  In one way, it’s a shame to leave Snowdonia right now, so much sunshine and last night the mountains got their first little cap of snow and frost.  Icy winds, sunny days, I love that about these wintery times.  In this climate, I flip into soup mode.  Just made a huge pan of veggie broth, old school, like my Nana’s did it.  Plus some quinoa bread, not quite the same as Nana-made bread, but I reckon they would have liked it, with plenty of strawberry jam.

These dumplings have been discussed quite a bit over on our vegan cooking group on Facebook.  I’ve been meaning to post this and a huge stack of recent recipes, but life has been nice and full recently.  Lots of cooking, lots of cool new projects, lots of time hanging out in the mountains.  It’s been a stunning autumn.

Thanks to all who have sent messages of support recently, some which say things like “Where’s your new book dude?”  It’s coming!

These bookie type things can take a while, but fingers crossed, I’ll have some more news soon.  If you haven’t heard, here’s my last cookbook, Peace & Parsnips.

Any ideas about what you like in a cookbook?  Do let me know in the comments below.  I love to hear your feedback.  Really, I write recipes partly for me, but another big part is for you.  The readers of the BHK, I wonder a lot about what you’ll like and always listen to your comments.

Other news.  We sent out our autumn newsletter recently, if you missed it, just sign up here, it takes a few minutes.  We’ve got some cool interviews (are you interested in fermentation, we interview the Queen of Fermentation!  Janice Clyne), plus recipes, pictures, news, loads of nice things.  Sign up, we’ll send it across.

 

Recipe Notes

You can see that I like these dumplings with a little colour, from a hot pan.  You can cook them on a lower heat if you like, for a longer time.

If you are cooking your own chickpeas, not using tinned, make sure they’re not overcooked or mushy.  This will lead to a wet mix, which is not what we want.  Remember that once the mix cools, it will get thicker.

 

Italian Herb and Sun Dried Tomato Dumplings

 

The Bits – For 16 dumplings 

2 medium onions (sliced)

3 cloves garlic (chopped)

2 tins chickpeas (drained)

3 teas dried Italian herbs (a mix of dried oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, sage)

8 pieces sun dried toms, plus any oil (finely chopped)

125g gluten-free oats

1 1/2 teas salt

A few twists of black pepper

A sprinkle of chilli flakes (or more if you like your chilli)

Cooking oil

 

To serve

Fresh basil leaves

 

Do It

In a large frying pan, add 1 tbs cooking oil, warm on medium high heat, add the onions and garlic.  Saute for 5 minutes, until soft and golden.

 

Add the cooked onions and the rest of the ingredients to a blender, with any oil left on the board from chopping the sun dried tomatoes.  Blend until smooth-ish. Some chunks are fine. Taste and season if you like.

 

With slightly wet hands, roll around 2 heaped tablespoons of mix into balls.  Place on a plate.

 

Warm the frying pan again, add 2 tbs oil and warm on medium high heat, add some of your dumplings to the pan, don’t overcrowd.  Roll them in the oil and get them well covered, fry them for 6-8, minutes, until golden all over and we’ll warmed through. Set aside.  Fry in batches if needed.

 

Alternatively, preheat a fan oven to 180oC, lightly oil the dumplings and place onto a baking tray, then into the oven.  Cook for around 15-20 minutes, until they are hot in the middle.

 

Serve with a rich tomato sauce, freshly torn basil leaves and pasta of your choice.  

 

Foodie Fact

Chickpeas are a real nutritional powerhouse.  They are filled with protein and fibre, also lots of minerals like iron, magnesium and potassium and vitamins like Vitamin C.  Chickpeas are also a good source of calcium.  Overall, the more chickpeas we can get onto our plates and forks, the better!

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

Apple Crumble Cookies – Gluten-free, Vegan

Apple Crumble Cookies – Gluten-free, Vegan.  Yes please!

If you’re a fan of apple crumble, you’ll love these!  The cookie version.

I wanted to combine the best things about an apple crumble into a cookie, just to change things up a bit.  That lovely crunchy crumble and the sweet tartness of the apple sauce.

These cookies are crisp on the outside and very apple-y inside, with that lovely warming cinnamon and plenty of oats.  They’re even gluten-free, but you can make them with wholemeal flour and normal oats.  I’d just like to invite as many people as possible to the good food party!

These cookies are sweet!  But balanced with the tartness of a green apple, I’ve used russet style apples from our neighbours garden, donated, not scrumped (see all our scrumping talk on our last post).  I think an apple with good acidity and a bit of bite is what we’re looking for here.

The best things about a crumble, wrapped up in a cookie!

Please don’t worry about us, we’re still eating plenty of Apple Crumbles this autumn.  Jane loves ’em too much!  But these cookies were a big hit with everyone who’s tried one, even our neighbour Meirion, a man who dearly loves a good crumble, is a fan of the cookie variety.  That’s when I knew this was a winner, they got the nod from our Meirion.

We’re just fixing our fire at the minute, autumn is giving us those signals, nice and crisp at mornings and at night.  The occasional dramatic storm.  I do love sunshine, but I admit that a roaring fire on a cold night is very tempting.  Just need to get a big pipe and stick it onto the back of the fire.  Some of you know all about my DIY skills, so I’ll probably get the fire man in.  I’m better off with the pots and pans!

The North Wales coastline is stunning in Autumn, awesome sunsets

Another bonus of autumn is all the produce, I’m just blown away at the minute.  I just got the list through from our local organic farm and it knocked my socks off.  As a cook, I almost don’t know where to begin with it all.  I feel very lucky to have such problems!! 

I’m back cooking at Trigonos this week and I love to create new recipes like this.  There are many gluten-free visitors who need catering for, the Trigonos cooks come up with all kinds of gluten, sugar, oil, nightshade, salt etcetc free dishes.  I’ve always found it a great challenge, but having dishes which are gluten-free and vegan is a sound start to planning a menu.  These cookies can be enjoyed by loads of people!  Maybe you’re gluten-free, but I bet you know someone who is.  The mystery of gluten-free baking is disappearing as more and more people experiment with new ways of making cookies, cakes, scones and tray bakes.

Chop those apples nice and small

Chopping your apples up nice and small is one of the keys to success with these cookies.  Of course, take all the pips and core out, but I leave the skin on.  These apples had nice, thin skins and I reckon there’s some nice flavour there when baked.  You can see the apples turn a lovely golden brown in the oven, something like apple crisps.  They’re good these cookies!

These kind of cookies are going to make this autumn very sweet!  Hope you get to try one soon.

 

Recipe Notes

You can use flax seeds instead of chia seeds.  Pop the seeds into a blender and blitz until a fine powder is formed.  Then mix that with water until a gelatinous mix forms.  It only takes 5 minutes or so to get nice and thick, ready to bind our cookies together.  Ground flax and chia are ideal egg replacers in vegan baking.

You can also use light brown sugar in these cookies, although I prefer the texture using the golden caster sugar.

I used a Dove Farm white gluten-free flour mix here.  It works really nicely.  Gluten-free oats are available in most supermarkets.

I use cold pressed rapeseed oil here, but you can use most, neutral flavoured oils.  I prefer cold pressed oils.

For non-gluten-free cookies – Wholewheat flour and normal oats will work nicely here too.

Missing cookies? Has anyone seen these cookies. 15 minutes after leaving the oven, they were never seen again. Another batch coming soon:)

 

Apple Crumble Cookies – Gluten-free, Vegan

 

The Bits – For 10-11 small cookies

Dry

125g gluten-free oats

100g gluten-free flour mix

1 ½ tsp g.f. baking powder

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

⅛ teas salt

 

Wet

100ml cold pressed rapeseed oil

3 teas ground chia seeds (mixed with 7 teas cold water)

1 teas vanilla extract

125g golden caster sugar

 

175g or 2 small green apples (cored and finely diced)

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 180oC.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  In another mixing bowl, mix together the sugar and the wet ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Don’t over do the stirring.  Fold in the apples.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment, form roughly two heaped tablespoons worth of cookie dough and apple in your hands, roll into balls.  Press the pieces of apple into the cookie ball as you go. The apple keeps the cookies nice and moist.  Press this ball down gently onto the baking tray, forming a rotund disc shape.  Continue until the mix is used up.

Bake for 17 – 20 mins on a middle shelf, until the apples are golden brown and the cookies form a nice crust.  Leave to cool for 20 minutes on the tray before enjoying.  Remember that the cookies will firm up as they cool, don’t worry if they are a little soft to the touch.

We had ours warm, dipped into vegan creme fraiche.  Yes!  It was very good.

Just before they hit the oven – Apple Crumble Cookies  This was an early attempt, these apple chunks are a wee bit too big.  Go for very small pieces. 

Foodie Fact

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.  Why?  Because my Nana told me that, what more proof do we need?!

Apples are a good source of fibre and vitamin C, plus potassium, which is good for the heart.

Categories: Autumn, Baking, gluten-free, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

The art of scrumping and the great British apple

Scrumping – a great way to make the most of our autumn abundance

Yes!  It’s that time of year.  Apples are falling from trees and we’re loving them.  But I find something very sad about piles of crushed and fermenting apples scattered around pavements and fields, left in piles to rot around trees.  What a waste.  I’ve been travelling quite a bit around the UK recently and seen many great apple trees, laden with fruits, fit and ready for a good scrumping!

There are over 2500 varities of apples growing in the UK, so I’m not talking about the handful of varieties we can pick up in the supermarkets, I’m talking about the real deal, heritage, local apples.  The ones which flourish in certain areas because of the specific climate, regional apples, that’s what gets me excited.  Most of these are growing wild and many may be falling right now, grab a bucket and get out there!

A neighbour kindly donated this bucket load to the BHK

When I travel, I love nibbling global dishes, exotic fruits and the like.  But there is one thing I miss, sensational UK apples!!  Best in the world.  No question.  (Although, they’re pretty good in France too.)

 

Wild Fruits, Great Names 

Most of the apples you’ll pick up in the supermarkets are pale imitations of a proper apple.  Something local, and in my opinion, the more bumps, the uglier the apple is, the better it tastes!  We have such a rich history of apple cultivation, which is still there, if we shop local and take advantage of the natural abundance at  this time of year.  Many of the best apples I find come from neighbours gardens (please don’t tell them;)

Jane’s Mum sent across a fascinating little article that prompted this post, I find the names of heritage apples so inspiring. They just sound fun! Here’s a selection, just a wee taster (by region).  Do you know some of these?:

 

Scotland – Coul Blush, Bloody Ploughman, Scotch Dumpling, Tower of Glanis, Dog’s Snout 

 

North England – Golden Spice, Cockpit, Carlise Codlin, Rilston Pippin, Lord Hindlip

 

South England – Newton Wonder, D’Arcy Spice, Crawley Beauty, Fearn’s Pippin, Pitmaston Pineapple, Oaken Pin, Tom Pitt, Cornish Gilliflower

 

Wales – Bardsey Island, Pig’s Snout, Cissy, Ten Commandments, Saint Cecilia, Croen Mochya

 

Ireland also has some great varities and names going on:

 

Ireland – Greasy Pippin, Lady’s Finger of Offaly, Kilkenny Pearmain, Irish Peach, Ross Nonpareil, Scarlet Crofton, Ecklinville Seedling   

 

Maybe you have some of these growing in your garden?  Or a local park?  I love these names, many are poetic, rustic, some amusing, but they all speak to me of a different time of food production.  When it wasn’t just about business and high yields.  I think it’s paramount to protect the heritage and diversity of locally grown food, in the UK and around the world.  Most of the varities are just about hanging in there (no pun intended), mainly growing wild or in gardens, but we can always ask for them in our local shops and supermarkets.  If we can get together, in enough numbers, and demand real, local, British apples, maybe we can see apples like the ‘Dog’s Snout’ back on the shop shelves where they belong.  These names really brighten up my day.

 

The Legend of the Bardsey Apple

There is a great story here in North Wales about a local fellow, Ian Sturrock, who discovered a single apple tree on a remote island off the Llyn Peninsula.  Bardsey Island.  When it was tested, it was the last of it’s kind in the world.  This variety has now been saved and it’s grown around the world, from Japan to the USA.  We have one in our garden.  Lovely golden, sweet apples.  There is also a variety of Snowdon Pear which is very rare, tastes like sweet fennel and has a light pink colour inside.  You just don’t get such variety and range of flavours in the most shops.  We are missing out big time!  This is one of our greatest British foodies assets.  Our amazing fruits.

 

The Art of Scrumping 

Scrumping!  It’s a doorway to the best of British apples and fruits.  Go find some nice looking trees, grab a bucket and go and fill your boots/ bucket.  I know people who only scrump at night, but we’re day light scrumpers.  Unabashed.  It’s loads of fun and leads to a bounty of fresh and delicious local apples.   A few basic guidelines for new scrumpers:

 

Just make sure that you’re picking edible apples.

Don’t climb and fall out of trees.

Don’t blatantly nick your neighbours apples, this can lead to bad vibes and unneighbourly jams.

If councils or land owners have put up signs saying ‘DO NOT PICK THESE APPLES’, best to leave them dangling.

 

Local apples, ready for cookies/ crumble

Scrump Away!

Picking fruit gets me in touch with nature again, you plug straight back into the natural world, it’s relaxing and a great excuse to get out in the fresh air.  One friend told me that the art of scrumping is to not get caught.  I think there has to be a slightly more moral approach than that. .

You don’t need to live halfway up a mountain like us to scrump well, urban scrumping is on the rise.  Inner city fruit foraging.  It may take a little research at first, trying to understand what apples are best for eating, which are best for cooking etc.  But once you’ve identified a local tree, that’s it.  Every year you can pick a crop of delicious local apples.

The benefits of scrumping are free food!  Plus, no packaging or plastic and the only food miles are the steps you take.  I just don’t understand why we don’t plant more fruit trees.  Local councils, lets get more orchards going. We can organise groups of fruit pickers and jam makers, free neighborhood jams and chutneys all year!  Some local councils have done this in the past, after complaints from residents about being hit by falling fruit and apples impeding their driving.  They provided fruit pickers and yes, gave the chutney away for free!  This seems like a wonderful idea.  We know people who pick your apples for you if you’re too busy/ can’t be bothered and make them into a cider and sell it.  Their business is based on free or donated apples.

 

Apple Recipes

What to do with your new found apple bounty?  Chutneys, apple sauce, soups, add to stews and casseroles, make into jam….the list is almost endless.  Here are a few of our recipes to get your going :

 

Simple Apple and Oat Crumble

Jane’s Apple and Plum Chutney 

Apple and Beetroot Sauerkraut

Apple Mint Herbal Vinegar

 

One of the best ways of using up LOTS of apples is to make your own cider.  You do need loads.  You will also need a cider press for this, but again, there will no doubt be someone in your local community who has one you can borrow or use.  Especially if you offer them a small cut of your cider.

Of course, we’re not just looking for apples when we’re in scrumping mode; sloe berries, rosehips, blackberries, damsons, mushrooms, bilberries (see our Bilberry and Spelt Scone recipe), pears, there is a bounty of fresh fruit growing on trees and bushes all around the UK.  We just need to get out there and have a look.

If you are really not fancying scrumping, you can still access local fruits.  Check out freecycle, there may well be someone in your area looking to offload some apples or other fruits.

 

If you do scrump, remember that it is illegal to profit from the fruit you harvest from common or council land.  On private land, you’ll need a ‘scrump pass’.   If you are not a comfortable single scrumper, it can make for a great family activity or form a small local group.  Scrumpers unite!  Some people feel scrumping is a bit cheeky, but that’s the fun bit!

If you’re a serial scrumper of have some scrumping tales or advice, please let us know in the comments below. 

National apple day in the UK is 21st October ’18.  Let’s celebrate local apples, fruits and produce!  Autumn is the perfect time of year to cook and shop local.

 

Look out from my next post if you’re an apple lover, we’ve got an Apple Crumble Cookies (Gluten-free) recipe coming your way very soon.

 

 

Categories: Autumn, Foraging, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Local food, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Sustainability, Wales | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Mushroom and Squash Rogan Josh – Traditional Kashmiri Curry

Mushroom and Squash Rogan Josh – How to make a proper vegan curry, from scratch (even the spices!)

Make a decadent, aromatic, rich curry from scratch and even make your own spice mix.  I’ve cooked this curry, and variations of it, loads recently, but think this version is the best.  It does take a little longer, but you just can’t compare the flavours.  I’ve given you options to make this a quick curry too, but I’d urge you to give the full version a try.  You’re gonna love it!!

The Real Deal 

Rogan Josh is a rich, classical style curry made with yoghurt as a sauce base, not onions.  It was brought to Kashmir by the Mughal’s as they swept across North India.  I’m captivated by Indian history and if you’re not a regular BHK reader, by way of background, I’m in love with India and have been there many times, travelling from the tip down south to the top, the Himalayas!  I am yet to visit anywhere that is as enchanting and mesmering and the FOOD, lets just say it will take me this lifetime at least to explore such a vast and tantalising cuisine.  This curry is a good start, a staple and as ever, this is vegan food everyone one will love!  How could you not?  We get all the full flavours of roasted veg and mushrooms and treat it to a very special sauce.

If you make this curry, please let me know, I’d be excited to hear about your spice adventures and how you found the flavour.  Once you try this, you’ll never go back to shop bought or jars (unless you were in a real rush!)  I love curries, but at this time of year, with it getting colder and darker, I think this style of warming, rich curry really comes into it’s own.  A radiant, colourful bowl of big flavours that’s perfectly suited as a winter/ autumn warmer.   I get quite passionate when talking about Indian cooking.  Does it show?!

Make your own spice mix. It’s quick, easy and totally, very much, better than shop bought spices

 

Roast your own!  Spices

Spices!  They bring everything to life.  I’ve written so much about spices over the years, not to mention a hefty spice intro (with nutritional benefits) in Peace and Parsnips. I talked a lot about spices in there, they’re so important to my cooking and dare I say, Indian is my favourite way of cooking.  No, I don’t!  It does depend on how the stars are aligned and what I fancy and all of that, but, we all know Indian food is utterly diverse, vibrant and totally brilliant.

I give you full instructions below about how to toast and grind your own spice mixes, this one is similar to a Garam Masala, a North India spice mix filled with warming spices like cinnamon and cloves, you can see the picture above and you can probably imagine the aroma when all that hits a warm pan.  Out of this world!!

 

Garam Masala – Hot Spice!

Dry toasting spices like this in a pan adds complexity and brings out all the incredible aromas.  There are many versions of Garam Masala (‘Garam’ – Hot, ‘Masala’ – Spice Mix).  You could add Mace or nutmeg for example.  But I think this is a good all rounder.  If you don’t please let me know below.  If you do, again, let’s talk in the comments.  I love chatting about spices and learning new things.

I’ve added smoked paprika and turmeric to this spice mix, they’re not classically ‘Garam Masala’, but I like them in this Rojan Gosh.

You can also use shop bought spices here.  See in the recipe below.  Keep your spices in a sealed container and use well within the use by date on the packet.  Smell them, if they don’t smell of much, they won’t add much to the curry.

 

Rojan Gosh – filled with influence from the Mughals andPersia, this dish has a fascinating history

 We’re going to Kashmir……

Kashmir is a stunning region in the very North West of India, and a very good song of course (click here for Led Zep’s version of Kashmir).  Apparently Robert Plant had never even been to Kashmir when he wrote it, just liked the sound of it.  Maybe he just loved a good Rojan Gosh? Which loosely translates as ‘Rojan’ – to stew, ‘Gosh’ – red.

The well used BHK Dhaba

 

Recipe Notes

I’ve gone for mushrooms and squash here because they’re seasonal and I love them.  But you can use similar vegetables, carrots, potatoes, peppers, whatever takes your fancy.  The key here is the sauce.  That’s where the magic is!

I mentioned that this was traditional, that was a small, white lie.  It is pretty traditional, but in Kashmir they may use something called Cockscomb Flower to give the curry a more reddish hue.  But I’m happy with this colour.

Kashmiri chillies are quite important here.  You’ll find them in most supermarkets and especially Indian/ Asian food shops.  They are milder than many chillies.  We want lots of chillies in the Rojan Gosh masala, but not loads of heat.

If you don’t have dried Kashmiri chillies, that’s cool, go for chilli powder or cayenne pepper, anything to add a little heat to the curry.

Saffron can also be added here, but I think it just gets lost with the other spices and is basically a waste of our precious, and not inexpensive, saffron.

When I mention coconut cream, I mean the cream off a tin of coconut milk.  That means, the thick bit.  Adds lovely creaminess.  Yoghurt is best, unsweetened soya yoghurt, now available in most supermarkets.

Spices, you will have too much here for just one curry, but if you’re going to make your own spice, you may as well make a decent batch I say.  Keep them in a sealed container or jar.  Label them up, with a date, or give them away as a gift.  In my experience, people love the gift of spice!

 

 

Mushroom and Squash Rogan Josh

 

The Bits – For 4-6

1 roasted medium squash, 650g (skin on, chop into chunks, seeds removed)

1 tin chickpeas (drained)

200g or 3 big handfuls mushrooms (chopped)

3 big handfuls or 75g greens (kale, spinach, chard)

5 tbs plain soya yoghurt/ coconut cream

 

Garam Masala – Spice Mix

½ teas green cardamom seeds (seeds from 10 cardamom pods)

½ stick cinnamon

2/3 teas cloves

1 teas black peppercorns

2 tbs cumin seeds

2 tbs coriander seeds

1 teas fennel seeds

3 bay leaves

1-2 dried red Kashmiri chilli

1 teas turmeric

1 ½ teas smoked paprika

 

Or use shop bought spice mix like garam masala plus 1 teas smoked paprika

 

Curry Paste

1 roasted red pepper (seeded, chopped into chunks)

3 garlic cloves

2-4 dried kashmiri chilli

1 inch fresh ginger (chopped)

3 tbs tomato puree

1 teas salt

3 tbs cold pressed rapeseed oil (or whatever oil you use)

 

3-4 tbs Spice Mix

 

Garnish
Fresh coriander and sliced chillies

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 200oC.

On a baking tray lined with parchment, place the red pepper and squash.  Toss in a little salt and cooking oil.  Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until soft and slightly blackened in places.

For the spices – Place a pan on a medium heat, add all the whole spices and toast for 4-8 minutes or more, tossing them and making sure they’re all toasted and smelling fragrant.  They will take on a slightly darker colour and smell ‘toasty’.

Be sure not to burn them, the best way to check this is the smell and the look.  You don’t want any black bits at all.  Some people prefer darker spices, some prefer lightly toasted.  I’d start with lightly toasted.  Add the ground turmeric and paprika a minute before you finish toasting the spices.

Place all the spices in a small blender or spice grinder (coffee grinders are also good), and blitz until a powder forms.   Use some in the curry and store the rest in an airtight container.  Garam Masala is a versatile spice mix.

For the curry paste – Place the roasted red pepper in a blender with the other curry paste ingredients and blend to a smooth paste.

For the curry – In a large frying pan, warm 1 tbs cooking oil and fry your mushrooms for 5 minutes, until they’re soft.  Add the curry paste, thinning out with water or soya milk (creamier) as needed. Once the curry paste is bubbling away, spoon in the yoghurt and check seasoning.

Now add the roasted squash, chickpeas and greens. Warm through from 5-7 minutes, then serve scattered with freshly chopped coriander with naan, chutneys and rice.

This would be delicious with our Mango and Papaya Chutney or Cashew and Green Pepper Pulao or even Quick Carrot and Ginger Pickle.

 

Snowdonia looking stunning in the autumn sunshine.  Sometimes the mountains around here remind me of the Himalayas.

 

Foodie Fact

Squash is bang in season at the minute, there are so many varities.  If you’re reading from the US, were of course talking Winter Squashes here.  They are a rich source of vitamin C, A and plenty of fibre and minerals.  Also remember the seeds, you can clean and dry them and they are amazing roasted in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

 

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Categories: Autumn, Curries, Dinner, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , | 7 Comments

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. I know cakes aren’t supposed to be healthy, but I 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)

 

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 even 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 more 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.

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

Dark Chocolate & Chilli Brownies – Vegan & Gluten-free

Chocolate & Chilli Brownies – Gluten-free and Vegan

An interesting twist on a classic chocolate brownie, made with black beans and given a lift with a little chilli and coffee kick!

Please don’t be put off by the whole bean thing, give them a go.  You would never be able to tell and these brownies have a lovely rich texture and all the benefits of black beans, meaning that they’re healthy and gluten-free.

They’re also pretty fuss-free creations, pop all the bits in your trusty blender, blitz, bake, enjoy!  Dessert sorted!!  I don’t know who originally started to make cakes with beans, but I hope you’re very proud of your genius.

Rich and very chocolaty, they’re a real favourite of ours at the minute.  We normally served them with our Dulce de Leche, it compliments the dark chocolate perfectly with its sweet caramel.  If the Dulce de Leche is warmed, even better, then, a nice bit of vanilla ice cream.  That’s some kind of perfection right there disguised as a gorgeous dessert!

Mexican Style Chocolate Brownies – Quick, healthy and very chocolaty

I feel these brownies have a hint of Mexico about them, with the cinnamon and chilli.  I just like a little chilli tickle, but I know some of you are chilli heads, so add as much as you fancy.  A friend recently tried these with chipotle chilli flakes and enjoyed them, a little smokiness that could be interesting, but I’m not convinced.  I’m going to try it soon, but smokiness in desserts seems like a taste bud twister to me.

There is a lot of cocoa/ cacao in these brownies, which gives them a lovely deep and rich chocolate flavour, with a nice bitterness.  We prefer dark chocolate, this is definitely one for the dark chocolate lovers and when served with dulce de leche, you’ve got the whole sweet and bitter chocolate combo going on, which is a sensation! (So good, I mentioned it twice;)

The best black beans yet! Straight from Mexico City.

Black beans are one of the most incredible plant based foods based nutrition wise, and they taste mighty fine too.  Some people call them ‘turtle beans’ because of their hard shells.

I talk about their nutrition properties below in the ‘Foodie Fact’ bit, but they trample all over beef for example in almost every conceivable nutritional way.  All we need are beans!   We use a load of black beans in the Beach House, you can see by the recipes at the bottom of the page.

Chocolate & Chilli Blender Brownies

What’s your favourite bean?  That’s a tough one I know.  I’m definitely going through a black bean phase, with occasional butter bean relapses and a week rarely goes by when I don’t fall for a kidney bean.  The world of beans are diverse and, in my eyes, there is no downside to beans.

I was once on BBC Radio Wales with Eleri Sion, how lucky am I!  One of the first questions about us vegans was if we fart all the time!!  Due to the bean thing.  I don’t really get windy with beans, but I think the presenter was a little sensitive to pulses.  I wasn’t expecting this question on national radio, it was a laugh and led to a chuckle of an interview.

Recipe Notes

These brownies are delicious without the chilli, if you’re not a big fan.  The nuts and chocolate are luxury touches really, again, without them, the brownies still rock!

I think pecans are my favourite nuts for these brownies, but really, most nuts would love this brownie.

You can dare to slightly under bake these brownies.  Much better that than over baking them.

EAT ME

Dark Chocolate & Chilli Brownies – Vegan & Gluten-Free

 

The Bits – Makes 12 Brownies

235g or 1 tin black beans (rinsed and drained)

2 tbs ground flax (mixed with 5 tbs water)

3 tbs coconut oil or vegan spread

75g dark brown sugar

75g cocoa/ cacao powder

¼ teas sea salt

1 teas vanilla extract

2 teas instant coee

1 teas cinnamon

1/6-1 teas chilli powder

1 teas gluten-free baking powder

½ teas g.f. bicarb soda

35g dark chocolate (chopped into small chunks)

35g chopped pecans/ cashews/ peanuts 

 

Do It

Preheat fan oven to 180°C. Oil and line a small oven tray with baking parchment.

Mix your flax seeds with the water and leave for 5 minutes to thicken.  

Add all the ingredients to a food processor (except chocolate and peanuts), blitz for a minute. Scrape the sides of the blender down and repeat blending until a smoothish mix is formed.   

Now add the chocolate and nuts, pulsing a few times to combine. Pour/ scrape the batter into your lined tray and press down flat, around 2/3 inch thick.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops and edges are just crisping up. Test with a toothpick or skewer; the insides should be a little sticky still. That’s what brownies are all about!  Leave to cool in the tray and they will firm up. 

Serve topped with dulce de leche, vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of nuts.  Or as they are with a nice cuppa or if you fancy, serve with some whipped coconut cream for a real treat.  

 

Serve with our Dulce de Leche – Coconut Caramel Sauce

Foodie Fact

This is the low down and figures on the super charged hero that is the humble black bean.  They’re full of healthy surprises!

Black beans contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc and can help to maintain strong bones and lower blood pressure.  They are very high in fibre and protein, with much more protein and iron than beef, and they also contain selenium which is a quite rare in the plant world and very, very good for us.    Eat beans, be merry!!

 

 

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Superfoods, Vegan, Wales | Tags: | 4 Comments

Hello Germany! Peace and Parsnips released in Germany tomorrow

Peace and Parsnips aka Food and Harmony (in Germany only) hits the shops tomorrow in Germany!!

HELLO GERMANY!! “Kreative vegane Küche”

Peace and Parsnips is out in German tomorrow. Under the title ‘Food and Harmony’, but it here.  Danke schön + Guten Appetit!

We’re made up and so grateful about this news. Jane speaks a bit of German, but me, not a word. It’s incredible to see Peace & Parsnips in a new language, one that I can’t even read!!

We’re a bit excited over here in Wales!

If you’re in Germany, let us know if you see ‘Food & Harmony’ or even get yourself a copy. 

If you’re in the UK and have our cookbook, feel free to help us spread the word of tasty, healthy, happy vegan food by leaving feedback or reviews online i.e. on Amazon (the biggest of course), Waterstones, Good Reads etcetc. It’s massive!!:)

Happy cooking to you all, Lee and Jane:)

PS – I’d love to write another cookbook one day, I’ve a load of new recipes to share, maybe soon;)

 

Categories: cookbook, healthy, Peace and Parsnips, photography, plant-based, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Zen Bowl – Teriyaki Sweet Potatoes with Wasabi Mayo

Zen Bowl – Teriyaki Sweet Potatoes with Wasabi Mayo

A super healthy bowl with many of my favourite things all given a Japanese twist.  I was thinking about winter warmers and just didn’t fancy another stew or soup.  I felt like bright colours, crunch, some big textures and flavours.  This is an exciting way to eat!

When it snows like this, these pictures were taken in the snow, my mind regularly thinks of Japan.  I love the images of rural Japan in winter, especially when it’s covered with snow.  It’s magical!  Snow seems to do that, brings a sprinkle of something special to landscapes, Snowdonia is stunning today, the mountains have a whole new feel, even more majestic.

Caramelised sweet potatoes, green leaves with a zesty dressing, fresh crunchy veg and a creamy wasabi mayo.  This is a warming bowl of goodness, bound to satisfy everyone.  This is a gathering of the things I think we need in the depths of winter.

NEW TWIST ON COMFORT FOOD

I do love all the classic comfort food thing, I’ve just posted three soup recipes in a row, but lets re-vamp the concept of comfort food a little.  Add some bright colours and new flavours.  Broccoli and pak choi, radish, turnip and carrots, may all be growing at this time of year.  Polytunnels are genius!!  They should be easy to get hold of anyway.  I am on a one man mission to get Britain eating turnips/ swedes again, but thats for another post.

Sweet potato is a treat (and maybe a little more glamorous to most) that I crack out when I feel like something a bit different, the way it takes on the flavours of the teriyaki sauce is something special.  A great pairing right there.  It is also packed with beta carotene which is very much welcomed at this time of year.

A winter sunshine bowl!  But good anytime of year too.  This is how we like to do things in the BHK for sure.  Delicious food that happens to be healthy, thats a serious sweet spot right there!!

Zen Bowl

GET CREATIVE!

Improvise with the veg, the main highlights for me are the sweet potatoes, along with the wasabi mayo and the zesty dressing.  Quinoa can be substituted for millet, cous cous, freekeh etc.  The broccoli here is a bit special, purple sprouting, any blanched greens would be awesome green beans, mangetout etc, pak choi is easily subbed with chard, bok choi, kale and spring greens.

I hope to visit Japan soon, I doubt I’ll eat anything like this, but the flavours of miso and wasabi are two of my all-time, hall of fame, foodie favourites.

Teriyaki sauce is something I’ve loved since I was a kid.  I spent some years in the Philippines as a child and had Japanese friends.  I remember going over to their houses for dinner and being blown away by how different things were.  It was crash course in chopsticks and new flavours.  I loved them from the start and could see the huge difference in the way that Japanese people approach, cooked and ate food.  One of my favoruites dishes was teriyaki kebabs cooked on mini BBQ’s.   Teriyaki is basically a sweet soya sauce, normally including mirin and Teriyaki dishes are normally grilled.

If you’d like to make your own Teriyaki Sauce, there is a recipe in Peace & Parsnips.

Teriyaki sweet potatoes – a twist on comfort food

WHY ZEN?

I normally steer clear-ish of calling dishes Buddha bowls etc, although I imagine he would not have minded.  Today is so peaceful though and the garden has taken on a zen quality, it seems deeply still, perfectly silent.  It was the perfect backdrop to this lunch, appreciating being out in the icy cold, with the mountains.  Feeling lucky to live in this beautiful area, but as we’re in Zen mode, there is no such thing as luck.

This Moment Is Full of Wonders: The Zen Calligraphy of Thich Nhat Hanh

Maybe you’d like to try this dish out and cook it in a more mindful way?  Take it easy and enjoy.  It worked for me!  As we know, food is much more than just the eating, we can get some joy, find some peace, in every part of the process.  Jane likes washing up because it keeps her hands warm (it gets a bit chilly in our house!)  There is a way to find enjoyment in any situation, or at the very least, to find a way to do things well, with awareness.  Making a dish called a ‘Zen Bowl’ must be a good place to practice this, with the added benefit of a delicious, nourishing meal at the end.

Zen Bowl – A bowl of winter goodness

Zen Bowl – Teriyaki Sweet Potato with Wasabi Mayo

The Bits – For 2

1 large sweet potatoes (peeled and chopped into wedges)

1-2 tbs teriyaki sauce (gluten-free)

1 big handful radishes (cut in half)

1 big handful broccoli florets (blanched)

 

1 turnip (sliced finely)

1/2 medium carrot (finely sliced)

1/2 red pepper (finely sliced)

 

1 small bok choi (washed, leaves picked separately)

1/2 avocado (sliced)

2 tbs toasted sesame seeds

1 cup cooked quinoa

 

Miso & Lime Dressing

1 tbs lime juice

1 teas light brown miso (gluten-free)

1 teas fresh ginger (finely diced)

 

Wasabi Mayo

3 tbs vegan mayo

1 teas wasabi

1 teas lime (juice)

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 200oC, line a baking tray with parchment.  Toss the sweet potato and radish in a little oil and salt, cook in the oven for 20 minutes.  The radish should now be nicely cooked.  Turn the sweet potatoes, carefully, and drizzle over the teriyaki sauce, making sure the potatoes are well covered.  Bake for another 10 minutes.  If they are nicely caramelised, take them out.  If not, drizzle over more teryiyaki sauce and bake for 5 minutes more.  If you repeat this process, you are guarenteed very caramelised, delicious, Teriyaki potatoes.

While the potatoes are baking, cook your quinoa, follow the packet instructions.  Boil a kettle and place your brocolli in a bowl.  Pour over the boiling water and leave them for a minute, drain and refresh with cold water.  This makes them nice and green.  Mix your wasabi mayo ingredients together (see here for our homemade vegan mayo recipe).  Mix together the dressing bits and toss the pak choi leaves in it, until they are well coated.

Toast your sesame seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat or on a baking tray in the oven.  It will normally take between 5-10 minutes,  until the sesame seeds turn a darker brown and you get that lovely toasty smell.  Scatter them over your sweet potatoes.

While the ingredients are still warm, arrange everything in a shallow bowl, including the finely sliced vegetables and avocado.  Serve the wasabi mayo on the side, I firmly recommend, the first thing you do, is to dip a sweet potato in the mayo and enjoy!

Foodie Fact

Wasabi is a close relative of horseradish and cabbage, commonly known as ‘Japanese Horseradish’.  It’s loaded with anti-oxidants, helping the body detox and boosting the immune system.  It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and is good for the heart.   If you’re looking for the true wasabi experience, you may need to spend a little more money, cheaper, imitation wasabi can be made using horseradish and mustard.  Wasabi is hard to grow, meaning that it is sought after.

This Moment Is Full of Wonders: The Zen Calligraphy of Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Cook vegan, get healthy, be happy!

Categories: Cooking Retreats, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Salads, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Creamy Parsnip & Coconut Soup – A bowl of winter sunshine!

Creamy Parsnips and Coconut Soup – Vegan

Ginger, turmeric, sweet parsnips, creamy coconut….yes please!  This is just the kind of bowl I like to see at the cold end of the year.  Bursting with colour, big flavours and bags of healthy giving goodness.

Thick frost this morning in Snowdonia and grey, as grey can be (with a pinch more grey for luck).  When the frosts are here, I always think of parsnips.  They love this time of year!

To combat the dark skies, I felt like adding some sunshine to lunch time.  This soup is creamy, with the coconut and parsnips, sweet and spicy, and with a little fresh coriander on top, is a real winter time treat.  Just the colour makes me feel warmer inside!

Most of you know that I’m quite partial to a parsnip every now and again.  The ones I used here were huge, gnarled things, they look like they’d had a rough winter.  There’s not much seasonal produce about at the minute, so I cherish these parsnips.  A friend was here and tried the soup, and was surprised that she liked it.  Not a parsnip fan you see.  I think we have a convert!  There are parsnips and then there are parsnips, try and get some good organic if poss ones and the difference is mega!  I eat these ones happily raw, so sweet, in fact parsnips contain more sugar than bananas.

I’m going to keep making soups until I finally defrost this winter, probably sometime in June at this rate.  Still, I’m not complaining, I love these crisp winter mornings and having a warm bowl of soup waiting for lunch is real food for the mind, body and soul.

Recipe Notes

Go wild with the turmeric if you like, its beautifully golden, turn it up to 5 (teas) if you really love it.  It can only lead to lovely flavour and it amazing for our health.

I peeled the parsnips here, because the skins on mine were very funky, all kinds of nobbles and bashes on them.  With veg like parsnips, much of the flavour and nutrients are just below the skin, scrubbing them is really best.

If you are not a parsnips fan, you could try it with other sweet roots like potato or sweet potato.  Let us know how it goes!  This recipes is a platform really for many great variations with veg.

A twist of lime brings it all to life.  Highly recommended.

This soup freezes well, so feel free to double the quantity.  I would check the balance of the spices though, maybe add 75% and then taste.  Sometimes multiplying recipes can throw them out a bit.

If you do freeze it, taste it once it’s reheated, the spices may need jazzing up a bit.  Add more, or a really nice idea would be to fry up a little more ginger in a pan, than stir in the spices, warm through and add to soup.  Freezing can kill flavours.

———

Creamy Parsnip & Coconut Soup

The Bits – For 4 Bowls
1 kg parsnips (peeled and chopped)
2 small onions (peeled and sliced)
3 inch ginger (peeled and finely chopped)

3-5 teas turmeric
3 teas cumin
1 teas cinnamon
½ teas cardamom

800ml light veg stock
1 tin coconut milk

Salt (to taste)

Topping

Tomato (chopped)

Coriander (chopped)

Toasted coconut or cashews (optional and very nice)

Sprinkle more of ground cumin

Lime wedges

Do It

In a large saucepan, warm 1 tbs cooking oil and fry onions and ginger on medium high heart for 5 minutes.

Then add spices and parsnip, stir and cook for a minute, before adding the stock and coconut milk.  Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, until the parsnips are soft.

Blend until smooth with a stick blender.  Season with salt and serve.

P1350355

Foodie Fact

Parsnips are the same family as carrots, celery, dill and cumin.  They are a good source of vitamin C and fibre, plus have good levels of vitamin K and manganese.  Not just a pretty, knobbly root!

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Wales, Winter | Tags: | 2 Comments

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