Wales

Abundant Autumn: Yoga and Vegan Cookery Day Retreat, North Wales

New BHK event! Abundant Autumn: Yoga and Plant Based Cooking Dat Retreat, North Wales

Saturday 20th October 2018 10-5pm

Location – Prichard Jones Institute, Newborough, LL61 6SY

Join us for a rejuvenating, empowering and nourishing day retreat on the stunning coastline of Anglesey. Local yoga teacher Claire Mace is teaming up with vegan chef and cookbook author Lee Watson to bring you a special programme based on grounding yourself in a healthy way of being, learning new and transformative habits for body, mind and soul. This approach is rooted in the seasons and the cycles of existence.

**Special Early Bird Offer £69** BOOK NOW

Autumn is a time of abundance in so many ways, especially in the kitchen. Lee will be cooking a delicious plant-based seasonal feast for lunch using produce sourced locally in North Wales, with a smoothie in the morning and more sweet treats in the afternoon. There will also be a cooking demonstration and a Q&A session. Pick up new kitchen skills and simple techniques that will make satisfying plant-based meals accessible to you and your family.

Lee’s creative recipes explore the sweet spot between healthy and hearty, decadent and good for you. He believes that this is entirely possible only using plants, and that autumn is the perfect time of year to showcase all the incredible local ingredients on offer in Gwynedd and Anglesey. He has also designed a bespoke recipe booklet and nutrition sheet for the event, covering many of the recipes you will taste, making it easy to re-create them at home.

Claire will teach an all-levels yoga session where you will connect to your body’s cycles, and explore how listening to your body’s needs – and your soul’s needs – is crucial to living a grounded and happy life.
Claire and Lee have come together to share their knowledge and skills with you and believe that a healthy mind and body can vastly improve our abilities to be centred within our constantly changing lives. We’d like to celebrate with you the transition from summer to autumn. Come join us for a feast this October.

£79 regular

**£69 earlybird (until 1st September)**

Places are limited – Bookings here

Price includes:

· Nourishing morning smoothie
· Yoga session – with options for beginners and more advanced yogis – learn empowering, energising postures and techniques to help ground yourself and connect to the cycles of nature
· Cooking demonstration and Q&A – based around healthy, hearty, home cooked kitchen tips
· Lunch – locally sourced, seasonally influenced plant-based FEAST
· Afternoon cake
· Herbal teas and coffees
· Bespoke recipe booklet – detailing the day’s recipes

 

Bookings also being taken for our late summer event:

Food for the Soul – Yoga and Plant-based Cooking Day Retreat 

19th August 2018 – Mynydd Llandegai, Snowdonia

“Feed your soul through delicious movement and healthy food….”

Categories: Autumn, Cooking demos, Cooking Retreats, Cooking Workshops, Events, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition, plant-based, Vegan, veganism, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: | Leave a comment

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.

Some of you will recognise these brownies, we’ve been making them at some of our recent events in Manchester and London.  Check out all of our upcoming events and retreats in Spain, Cornwall and Wales here.

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.

Because they’re just made of beans, 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 coffee

1 teas cinnamon

1/6-1 teas chilli powder

1 teas baking powder

½ teas 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.  

 

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: | 3 Comments

What we did this weekend – Beach time!

Dinas Dinlle Beach, one of our favourites

It’s been beautifully freezing and sunny at the minute up here in Snowdonia, North Wales.  We’ve been loving this winter, so much sun and at the minute, loads of snow.  We’re snowed in in Snowdonia!

Jane, well wrapped up

Don’t let the weather put you off!  Get wrapped up and go for it!!

Buddha in the garden……

….Broccoli in the basket (purple sprouting, proper treat;)

Our mate Mr Robin, keeps us company when we have breakfast in the garden.

Remember to leave a little food out for the small birds at this time of year, especially with all this snow.  Naturally, it’s a hard time of year for us all, not much is growing, food is scarce and its been a long winter.

We are making do until Spring kicks in.   There may be potatoes, cabbages, some broccoli, onions, swede, turnip, kale growing locally, so we’re not complaining, plus the occasional Pineapple from the supermarket!

The Llyn Peninsula from Dinas Dinlle

Top Soya Latte – Yum – Providero, Llandudno

Sunset up near the Beach House overlooking Anglesey and the Menai Straits. Booootiful:)

This is one cheeky little chap

Freezing winds but look at that big old sun:) Dinas Dinlle, the local

The beautiful thing about Snowdonia, one of many, is the different environments, from giant craggy mountains, down to wide stretches of beaches and forests, white water rivers, waterfalls, marshlands, it’s paradise for people who love going outside and exploring.

Deep in the heart of Snowdonia;)

Great advice!:)

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

We like to slow things down in the winter, not fight against the weather and the darkness, but try and enjoy it for what it is.  A chance to take it easy, keep warm, play, cook and sing the winter away.  Winter can be a great time to reflect and recharge.

 

Beam me up!

The first signs of spring are here, the snowdrops and there are rumours about bluebells.  I can’t wait for wild garlic, one of my favourite parts of spring, but this world is warming, there is a little spring in the air and we can’t wait for nature to wake up an bloom.

 

Join us in beautiful North Wales this March at our Food For The Soul – Plant-based Cooking and Yoga Day Retreat, 18th March ’18.

We also have two relaxing Beach House Kitchen cooking holidays, A Taste of Bliss in Spain and Vibrant Vegan Cornwall, in stunning locations.   

Categories: 'The Good Life', Healthy Eating, photography, Wales, Winter | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Recipe Notes

To make this gluten-free, just check your Teriyaki Sauce or make your own.  Its really easy.

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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

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

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

If you’re interested in vibrant vegan cooking and learning more about yoga, meditation and a healthy, more peaceful lifestyle, why not join us in two beautiful locations for one of our BHK retreats in ’18:

A Taste of Bliss – Yoga and Vegan Cooking Holiday, 5th-12th May ’18 – Murcia, Spain

Vibrant Vegan Cornwall! – Healthy Vegan Cooking and Yoga Holiday, 13th – 16th July ’18 – Lands End, Cornwall

 

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.

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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!

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COME AND JOIN US IN THE SUN!!

COOK VEGAN, GET HEALTHY, BE HAPPY:)

Only two rooms left for our Taste of Bliss Vegan Cooking and Yoga Holiday in beautiful Murcia, Spain this May.

More details and bookings here.

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

Beach House Kitchen Event Update – What’s cookin’ in ’18?

Thanks to Jane at Formby Yoga for this cool collage of A Healthy New Year Day Retreat, Caernarfon

We had a great time at the weekend, hosting a A Healthy New Year‘ Yoga and Plant-based Cooking Day Retreat with Claire from Inspiratrix Yoga.  It’s wonderful to cook locally and see so many enthusiastic people in North Wales digging what we do.  I’m blown away by how many non-vegans are now cooking more vegan meals.  Pictures of the event are over on our BHK Facebook cooking group.

“The mini retreat day on Saturday was totally inspiring with easy and healthy vegan recipes. Food was truly outstanding and by Lee’s demonstration they certainly seemed achievable by even the most unskilled of cooks!”  Elaine

Cooking at one of our Vegan Retreats

I wanted to update you on what we’re up to in ’18 so far, I’ll always update our events page, and we’ll announce things via this blog or on our newsletters.  Sign up here.

Here’s 2018 so far…………….

3-4th February ’18 – Our weekend of Vibrant Vegan! Healthy Global Cooking Workshops in London is sold out.  Contact us on hellobeachhousekitchen@gmail.com to be added to the wait list.

 

High point for me, cooking at The Stadium of Light, Sunderland AFC;)

4th March ’18 – Due to cancellations, we have a few tickets for Vibrant Vegan! Cooking Workshop in Manchester.  Book directly here.

“Thank you Lee & Jane for a wonderful time…the demonstrations were really inspiring and of course the food was delicious!!  It was lovely to meet fellow vegans too, to swap ideas….you were amazing!!”  Irene

During our cooking demo at the Ludlow Food Festival (I’m holding an imaginary cauliflower, it’s a long story……;)

18th March ’18 – Our next event in North Wales is ‘Food for the Soul’ Day Retreat.  Book over the next week for our early bird offer!  The location is in the beautiful Snowdonia hills.

 

5-12th May ’18 – Good news!  We’re off to Spain, come and join us!  We still have a couple of rooms in our beach side villa available for our Taste of Bliss – Yoga and Plant-based Holiday in stunning Murcia.  We have limited spaces available for couples and individual bookings.   Book some Spanish sunshine, peace and bliss directly here.  

“The content exceeded my expectations!  Loved the ethnic feast concept behind the demos/ menus…..It was like having 4 days of birthdays!  Special meals, special people.  I will recommend Trigonos/ the vegan retreat to anyone.”  Sheila 

One of our recent cooking demonstraion at Trigonos ’17

I am currently working on new events for ’18 and even looking into ’19.  We love collaborating on events and getting out and about around the UK.

Our long awaited Cornwall Vegan Cooking Holiday is looking ever more likely.  We’ve found a stunning location down near Lands End and will hopefully have some news on that very soon.  There will be excellent yoga, healthy and vibrant vegan food cooked by us and a whole host of activities designed for relaxation and rejuvenation.  If you’re interested, contact us on the email above.  Places will be limited.

Later in the ’18 – when (or if;) we make it back from Spain, we’ve music festival cooking lined up and more food festivals, if you know of any local food festivals who are interested in vegan cooking, let us know.

I’ve added lots of new photos to our photo scrap book, check it out here.

Looking back at the photos of ’17, we’re surprised how far and wide we got, from cooking in front of a packed crowd at Vegfest London, to a retreats at our much loved Trigonos, North Wales and cooking to a tent full of hungry non-vegans in Ludlow Castle.  Although one of the highlights for me will always be cooking at the Stadium of Light!  Home of the finest football team in the land (who are just giving everyone else a chance at the minute;)

We also love getting out there and talking vegan, we had a great time chatting about all things vegan in ’17 at food festivals and in book shops.  

We hope to see you somewhere on the road in ’18 or in the future!

Cook vegan, get healthy, be happy!

Happy cooking, Lee & Jane:)

Cooking at a recent event at Trigonos, North Wales

Categories: Cooking demos, Cooking Retreats, Events, healthy, photography, plant-based, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Leek, Potato & Kale Soup – Organic, Classic, Seasonal

A simple classic.  I realise I’m doubling up with soup posts here, but let’s face it, no one is complaining with this chilly start to the year.

There’s something in my bones that calls for this kind of soup in January, in the depths of winter.  Many of us in the UK have had loads of snow recently, and at the very least have been facing freezing days and nights.  It always feels a little colder and darker at this time of year, the warm glow of Christmas seems long gone.

What we need is warming, nourishing bowls of yum!  We all know this soup, it’s a classic, but will never get tired.  It makes the very best of British produce at this time of year, when not much else is growing and the land is resting.

We are so lucky to have a group of brilliant people down the road, at Tydnn Teg organic farm, who are soldiering on and still growing sensational produce.  I am blown away by their veggies and this soup uses what has come from the heart of wintertime.

It seems right to be eating dishes like this, seems like I’m tuning in to the season and giving my body exactly what it needs.   I love simple recipes that take a few ingredients and make them shine!

Recipe Notes

Use any winter herbs you like in this soup.  A herb mix or fresh herbs would also be very nice.  Just not too much, I think it’s nice just lightly flavoured with herbs, let the other ingredients come through.

Use any kale, you can see we went for curly.  Spring greens and savoy cabbage are good alternatives.

The single cream is a luxurious extra really, you might also like to use vegan creme fraiche, which is available in supermarkets nowadays.

Try to get the very best, organic if you can, produce for this soup.  It will really make the difference.

You don’t need to blend this soup, I sometimes like it chunky.  Try to cut your veggies into smallish pieces.

This soup freezes well.

Winter warmer – Leek, Potato and Kale Soup (Vegan)

Leek, Potato & Kale Soup

The Bits – For 8 Bowls
1.25kg potatoes (peeled and chopped)
750g leeks (cleaned and sliced)
200g kale (sliced)
1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 teas dried sage
1 teas dried rosemary
1 teas dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and black pepper (to taste)

250ml vegan single cream (available in shops and supermarkets)

Do It
Add 1 tbs cooking oil to a large saucepan and warm on a medium high heat.  Add the leeks, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Now add the potatoes, stock and herbs to the pan, cook 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Add the kale and simmer for a couple of minutes. Pick out the bay leaves and blend using a stick blender until smooth.

Stir in the single cream and season well with salt and pepper.

I quite like kale! Taken in the Trigonos veg farm

Foodie Fact

I added kale to this classic soup combo because its seasonal and delicious, but also because it is one of the healthiest things we could ever, ever eat. It’s just outrageous how good kale is for us!

It’s off the charts high in Vitamin K, is ridiculously amazing for vitamin A and C, also high in minerals like manganese, copper, is a good source of fibre and even has some Omega 3 fats thrown in there.  The list goes on really, but the more we can incorporate kale into our diets, the better, especially at this time of year when our bodies need a real healthy kick start.

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

Food for the Soul – Yoga & Plant-based Cookery Day Retreat, North Wales

 

Come and join us for a revitalising and relaxing day retreat amid the mountains in beautiful Mynydd Llandegai.  Learn to cook satisfying, healthy vegan food and relax deeply with yoga and meditation. We’ve planned a peaceful day to help you recharge, nourish yourself and get lots of healthy inspiration.

The day will start with nutritious herbal teas and then experienced local yoga teacher Claire will lead you through an extended yoga class designed to help you use breath and movement to feel more grounded and revitalised. Beginners and improvers are welcome.

Lee (vegan chef, food blogger at beachhousekitchen.com and author of Peace & Parsnips) will be cooking a soul food vegan lunch. We’ll be enjoying treats like:
Detox Miso and Greens Soup
‘Mac and Jac’ – Baked Sweet Potato Macaroni Cheeze with BBQ Pulled Jackfruit
Mexican Double Chocolate Brownies with Dulce de Leche (Coconut Caramel Sauce)
We’ll even learn how to make vegan cheese. Gluten-free options are available on request.
In the afternoon Lee will demonstrate how some of the dishes were made and share knowledge and tips about creating simple and healthy plant-based dishes at home. Questions are always encouraged.
After the cooking demonstration, it’s time for afternoon tea and cake. We’ll end the day with a meditation session with Claire to send you home full of good vibes.
You will receive a full recipe booklet from the event to take home so you can recreate magic in your own kitchen.
This day retreat will encourage wellbeing and happiness: pick up techniques and good habits to feed your soul and ease you towards a more balanced and healthy approach to life.
Some concessionary places may be available, please ask.
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Sunday March 18th 2018 10am – 5pmWith Lee Watson & Claire Mace

Mynydd Llandegai (Memorial Hall) in Mynydd Llandygai, LL57 4LQ

(near Bangor, about 10 mins drive from junction 11 of the A55)

North Wales

Bookings

*Early Bird Offer* until 2nd Feb – £69.00

(£85 after that) 

 

Categories: Cooking demos, Cooking Retreats, Events, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, plant-based, Relax, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Rye & Stout Loaf

Rye & Guinness Loaf

Rye and stout just works!  There’s a harmony there.  I’ve been wanting to use stout in a recipe for a while now.  The deep, full  flavours mingle perfectly with the big flavours of rye and dark treacle.  Nutritious and really flavourful, wholesome in the best possible way.

Of course, there are many other amazing stouts and dark ales which will be equally as nice in this bread, adding ale to a bread really boosts the flavour, deep and malty is this loaf (did I sound a bit like yoda there?) and the recipe calls for a layer of beer batter before baking, which made for a nice crust and finish.

This is a dense and delicious loaf which makes incredible toast!  I’m using a lot of Rye at the minute in baking, its a healthy flour option, low in gluten.   Its a great choice for a hearty wintery loaf.  Although I’d eat this bread at any time of year, anywhere, anyhow….

I’ve been making apple and walnut scones with a rye and white flour mix, they’re great.  The addition of white flour gives just enough lightness to the texture.  I find that this goes for most rye baking, add a little white flour, maybe 1/4 of the total flour quantity, for best results.  Although I regularly go 100% for bread with lots of seeds.   This combo makes a loaf that slices nice and thin, with a great texture.

Rye has always seemed a treat for me, we don’t use it so much in Britian, but in Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and Germany, it is common place.  Rye used to be popular in the UK, but bizarrely, was always seen as being inferior to wheat.

I wasn’t sure about the bread in Portugal, I’m not keen on light and flighty white, so I took a loaf of heavily seeded rye bread on the plane with me.  It probably weighed a few kilos, but it was so worth it.  Rye toast with Portugese tomatoes, oregano and olive oil.   Yes please!  I seemed to get stopped consistently at airport security and they love having a good look through my old green rucksack.  The chap emptying the contents out this time seemed a bit surprised to find a loaf of seedy bread; “Did you bake this loaf yourself sir?”  My small umbrella was also a bit of an issue and they were not sure about my stash of chia seeds, but I got through in the end and Lisbon was an amazing city (more to come about that…..)

One of our neighbours.

This recipe is based on one by Paul Holywood that I played with it a bit.  Thanks Paul!  I liked the batter idea.  I don’t actually watch Bake Off, I find that when I’m cooking most of the day, watching more people cooking is a bit much, but the program has had a massive effect on Britain, when I cook for people and do demos, the level of baking knowledge is incredible!  Most people seem to know there way around a sourdough now lets put it that way!!

Wales has been shining this autumn/ winter, thought I’d share a few snaps of beautiful Snowdonia.  We’ve loved being back up here at this time of year and long may it continue.  Bit of frost livening up the mornings but generally, all has been bright and reasonably dry (weather report over!;)

So here it is, try it with some vegan smoked salmon (made with tomatoes or carrots, we may post a recipe soon) and cream cheese is my whole hearted serving suggestion!!

Recipe Notes

Vegan butter recipe I’ve been working on, if you’d like, I’ll post it soon.

Due to the low gluten in rye, it can take much longer to rise than wheat loaves.  Be patient and leave it for as long as it takes, we’re generally looking for around double the size it started.  You can leave it overnight in a fridge, which has worked for me in the past.

Because of the low gluten, there’s no need to go overboard with the kneading either.  Which I’m sure some of you are quite pleased about!

Sticky is good for me when making bread, better that  the dough is a little sticky, than a little dry.  When kneading the bread, only add a small amount, a thin layer, of flour for dusting.

Rye & Guinness Loaf

Rye & Stout Loaf

The Bits – For one medium-sized loaf

Dry

375g rye flour

125g strong white bread flour (plus extra for flouring)

2-3 teas salt

7g yeast (small packet)

 

Wet

3 tbs black treacle/ molasses

100ml water

250ml stout or dark ale

 

Beer Batter Topping

150ml stout or dark ale

100g rye flour

Large pinch brown sugar

 

Handful jumbo oats

Early winter in Wales has been beautiful! Bardsey Island off the Llyn Peninsula

Do It

Mix your dry bits together in a large bowl and add the wet bits, adding 150ml of the ale and more if needed.  Mix together until a wet dough forms.  The dough should be sticky but comes away from the edges of the bowl.

Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes.  The dough will be wet, use slightly wet hands to make the kneading easier and less sticky.  It will gradually become smoother, but not as smooth as a normal bread dough.  This is fine.  Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl.  Loosely cover and leave in a warm spot for 2 hours.

Beer Batter Topping – Mix the ale, flour and sugar together into a thick batter.

On a baking tray, lined with parchment, and lightly oiled, form your dough into a ball and spread over the ale paste, sprinkling the oats all over.  Leave to prove for 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 220oC and bake for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 200oC and bake for 10 more minutes.

The loaf will have a nice crust and be golden brown, tap the bottom, it should sound nice and hollow.  Leave it to cool on a wire rack.

Home baked, can’t beat it!

Foodie Fact 

Rye is quite similar to wheat, but has different nutritional properties.  It’s lower in gluten, high in protein and is full of fibre with good levels of vitamins and minerals.  In fact, Rye is way up there in the fibre stakes. Here’s a quick top three……….

1- Barley   2- Raspberries  3- Rye 

Raspberries!!!  I know.  That seems a bit of a brilliant nutritional curve ball.

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I’d like to thank the good people of the BHK Vegan Cooking group, over on Facebook, who have inspired me to share a Rye Loaf recipe.  (Judy, I finally got around to it;)

Do you like rye bread?  How do you feel about it’s heavy texture and flavour?  Let us know if you try it in the comments below:)

Originally I listed Guinness in the ingredients for this recipe by mistake.  Guinness is only vegan draught, but cans and bottles will hopefully follow soon.

Categories: Baking, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Vegan, Wales, Winter | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Drunken Cherries – Autumnal Livener!

Drunken Cherries

Surely one of the most delicious ways to warm up!  A fruity little livener!!  This is a simple method to preserve berries and produce some wonderful flavoured spirits to make winter cocktails.

It’s Halloween and we’re having a big fire and welcoming in the darker, wintery times with some luxury hot chocolate spiked with cherry brandy and some rich chocolate mousse (see recipe here) and drunken cherries.  There’s a theme there!!  Cherries and chocolate are a match made somewhere very, very nice.

I love an open fire at Halloween, staring into the flames I feel inspired and a real connection to the festival; from light to dark.  It’s also just great to be outside at night in the winter, especially with a clear sky overhead and maybe a glass of cherry brandy warming your cockles!!  Lighting fires at Halloween (or Samhain in Celtic Traditions) especially on higher ground is said to aid a souls way to heaven.

Samhain was a day set aside for fasting and reflection, but things have changed a little.  Halloween is now a big party of course, all about feasting and treats.  We’re well stocked for trick or treaters and I’m enjoying Rye flour at the minute, so loaves and cakes are on the way for tonight as well as plenty of squash/ pumpkin in a variety of forms.   I might go for a good old school Soul Cake (like a spiced scone really)?  We’ll see….

Beautiful Snowdonia – October is a spectacular month over here

North Wales has been sparkling of late in Autumn sunshine and crystal clear skies.  I love this time of year up here, probably my favourite time in these hills.  We’ve been out walking, exploring new corners of Snowdonia, there seems to be endless trails and paths that lead to new vistas, lakes and terrain.  Soon it will be a bog-fest, many paths transformed into marshes.  The walking is still incredible, but you need to get a little more semi-aquatic, and definitely, a whole lot muddier and chilled.

I’m not a huge fan of the dark, long nights, so tonight is a chance for me to celebrate the brighter times of year.  October has been so beautiful and November is the turning point where the wet and grey rise up and take control.  I’m always reminded of the villages I’ve visited in the high Himalayas, where they are snowed in for many months a year and spend the days with friends and family, drinking local chang (like a watered down moonshine), singing, dancing and telling stories.  That’s their approach to living through a really arduous winter.  I think we all need more singing, dancing and story telling in winter and lets face it, homemade cherry brandy is way better than chang (trust me)!!

You can use this method (technically it’s called ‘macerating’) to preserve and transform any berries really into something warming and delicious in the winter months.  We love to make things like Sloe Gin, Blackberry Whiskey and whatever soft fruits we can get our hands on.  I managed to get some tasty cherries a couple of months ago and now we are reaping the rewards!  I love preserving the bounty of summer/ autumn and enjoying it in the depths of winter, it seems like such a gift to pop open a jar of jam or pickle and share in the joys of the brighter months.  It makes winter slip by a little easier, some summertime sweetness.

Macerating cherries brings out some surprising flavours

Recipe Notes

Berries/ fruits like blackberries, strawberries, loganberries, sloe, plums, damsons, mulberries, blueberries will all be very nice in this recipe.

The longer you leave the fruit to macerate, the more the flavours will develop and change.  Taste it regularly and drink it when you like it!  It’s a fascinating process!!

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Drunken Cherries

 

The Bits – Makes enough for one medium kilner jar

700g cherries (pitted and cut in half)

½ bottle brandy

2 handfuls sugar (to taste)

 

Do It

Place the cherries in medium sized kilner jar, if you’re keeping for awhile, or any large sealable container if otherwise.  Pour over the brandy and sprinkle the sugar over.  Place a lid on and gently shake to combine the sugar.  Now taste.  If you like it sweeter, add more sugar.  Seal and store in a cupboard.

These can be enjoyed after a few days but are better when left for a few weeks or longer.  If there are any cherries sticking above the brandy, either add more brandy or a splash of water.  

Use the cherries in desserts and drink the brandy as you like it.  It’s nice when served warm, especially in hot chocolate.  

Hiking in Snowdonia near Moel Siabod

  Come join us in North Wales for a retreat or cooking workshop soon

Check out our events page here or join our Facebook vegan cooking page

 

Categories: Autumn, Desserts, gluten-free, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A Healthy New Year: A day of yoga, inspiration and plant-based cookery

January 20th 2018 10am – 5pm
Feed My Lambs, Ffordd yr Ysgol, Caernarfon LL55 2RY
With Lee Watson and Claire Mace

Start your 2018 in a good way with this day-long mini-retreat in Caernarfon, hosted by chef extraordinaire Lee Watson, author of the vegan cookery book ‘Peace and Parsnips’, along with yoga teacher Claire Mace, who teaches classes on Ynys Môn that help people honour the wisdom of their bodies, reduce stress and feel better in themselves.

This day will get you feeling muscles you didn’t know you had, learning some top cookery techniques and relaxing deeply. We want to inspire you with vibrant, nourishing food and easeful movement to recharge your enthusiasm for self-care and healthy living.

Begin the day with a fresh smoothie, followed by a two-hour yoga session with Claire, with options both for those new to yoga and those wishing to improve their practice. Expect to stretch deeply, let go of stress and feel more centred.

Then sit down to a delicious vegan and gluten-free lunch. Lee’s food is always super-tasty, varied and inspiring. Expect dishes influenced by his global research into vegan diets, made with locally-sourced produce grown at Tyddyn Teg in Bethel.

Afterwards Lee will share some easy and effective vegan cooking techniques through live demonstrations. You will learn about making healthy tasty snacks and salads, plus dessert and comfort food that doesn’t leave you feeling guilty or lethargic.

We’ll finish with some time for Q&A and a group meditation. You will leave with a recipe booklet and lots of inspiration for creating your healthy, happy and peaceful 2018.

Book your space now

Price is £79 – or **£69 if you book and pay before 1st December**

Some concessionary places may be available, please ask.

Categories: Cooking demos, Events, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, plant-based, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Ultimate Umami Vegan Burger

IMG_0497

Ultimate Umami Vegan Burger

The ‘Ultimate Umami’ is a special occasion in a bun!  it’s the main event (with a side order of wedges.)  I think this burger will be enjoyed by absolutely everyone!  

I think most of us now know that veggie burgers can have way much more flavour and texture than a traditional meat burger, we just need to make them right and flavour them up with bold and delicious flavours.  This is where all that ‘umami’ comes into play.  We’ve all had a sub-standard, borderline nightmare, veggie burger experience.  This ain’t it!!  

These are perfect for a late autumn BBQ.  The sun is still hanging on up here in North Wales and there’s that lovely nip in the air.  September and October are two of my favourite months in Snowdonia, winter is well on the way, but we can still squeeze in some BBQ’s and picnics.  The sea is still warm-ish, the moutains take on amazing colours and shades and there is so much local produce to play with. 

Winter is coming in Snowdonia, but we still have a few BBQ’s left in us yet!

I’ve packed these patties with big flavours and the texture is solid (good ‘solid’, not brick like). It’s not going to flake or crumble out on you at the decisive BBQ moment or grill flip.  We enjoyed them down in Ludlow, the night before our cooking demonstration and talk, on a little BBQ sat outside the coolest caravan ever, a ’59 Vintage Airstream in mint condition with a bath outside under the stars.  Lucky, lucky us!! The burger was a highlight, but a bath at dawn, with the mist rising off the meadows probably just pipped it in the amazing-ness stakes.

Us – Outside the Streamline ’59 Caravan , before the Ludlow Food Festival

INTRODUCING UU!

The ‘Ultimate Umami’ (UU for short) will blow your taste buds away (to somewhere nice, like the coast of Southern Italy, or the Himalayas on a clear and sunny day.  Burgers have that power!) I don’t think I’m exaggerating here!  Name me one person who does not truly get a burger tickle on occasion? (Comments below).

There’s some kind of magic there, but the accompaniments need to be bang on too, it’s a team effort, so we’ve gone to the Med to pick our favourite flavours; basil yoghurt, sweet roasted peppers…..  This burger will also be ideal with any of your favourite sides and sauce; it’s got that deep, savoury, deliciousness that accompanies most things brilliantly.  It’s a launchpad for a burger feast to remember.  

UNIVERSAL VEGAN BURGER LAWS

You need a tasty burger if you want to be a vegan cooking wizard or wizard-ess. It’s one of the universal vegan cooking laws. Those timeless guidelines, set in a block of ancient fossilized tempeh, somewhere high in the hills of Eastern California, by a veg patch and smoothie bar. ‘Thou shall munch on tasty burgers! Then thou shall use a napkin afterwards (it can get a little messy)!’ Other vegans laws include ‘Open mindedness towards tofu’ and ‘When in doubt, blend it!’

IMG_0432

UMAMI?

Umami overload! Not a bad thing. Mushrooms, red rice, balsamic vinegar, yeast extract, caramelised onions, toasted walnuts, miso, smoked paprika……it’s all there. Intense. It’s a bells and whistles burger for sure.

Umami is the fifth flavour and is present naturally in many foods, normally the very tasty ones. Of course, a Japanese scientist isolated it and turned it into MSG. Not good stuff. But umami itself is basically the thing that makes you go MMMMM in savoury dishes.

We hope you get the chance to sit in a garden soon with one of these whoppers and enjoy the late Autumn sun.

Recipe Notes

Don’t mess with veg burger too much. Handle them minimally and gently. Once in/on the pan/grill, just flip them once. Once they are cooked and left to rest, they will firm up some more.

You can make the burger mix beforehand. This works nicely, a night in the fridges and the flavours can really get to know each other better.

This mix will also freeze nicely. Keep for three months max.

We made these into little burger bites at our Home Cooked Happiness Vegan Cooking Retreat, think falafel sized bites.   They can be deep fried if you like, makes them very crispy.

Red rice is a super nutritious and tasty ingredient (see ‘Foodie Fact’ below), but you can substitute it for a wholesome brown rice instead.  In fact, at the cooking retreat, I tried the recipe with red quinoa, which was delicious.

IMG_0489 (1)

Introducing The ‘UU’ – Ultimate Umami Burger

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The ‘Ultimate Umami’ Vegan Burger (Gluten-free)

The Bits – For 4 

Burger

100g red rice

50g green/ brown lentils 

240g red kidney beans (cooked)

 

400g mushrooms (diced)

1 large onion (diced)

3 garlic cloves (crushed)

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

 

80g toasted walnuts (ground to a rough crumb in blender)

3 teas brown miso 

2 tbs onion marmalade

1 tbs yeast extract 

60g bread crumbs (gluten-free is fine)

 

Roast Potato & Carrot Wedges

300g carrots (cut into thick batons)

500g potatoes (cut into wedges)

1 teas smoked paprika

1 teas thyme

1 teas cumin seeds

Salt

 

Basil Yoghurt

350ml unsweetened soya yoghurt

10g basil leaves (one big handful)

¼ lemon (juice)

1 garlic clove

Pinch salt

 

4 tbs white flour

 

Serve

Roasted Med Veg (your favourite selection, I used onions, peppers and aubergine)

Salad leaves/ Rocket

Onion Marmalade (see our recipe for Onion & Chilli Marmalade here.)

 

Do It

Burgers

In a small sauce pan, wash and drain the rice and lentils, then cover with 1.5 cm water, bring to boil, pop lid on, cook for 30 minutes on low heat.  Leave to cool. 

In a frying pan, add 1 tbs cooking oil and add the mushroom, fry for around 12 minutes, until they are caramelised and all their liquid is cooked off. Set aside. Add more oil and fry the onion until golden, add the garlic and balsamic, stir and cook until the balsamic vinegar has evaporated, five minute-ish.  Leave to cool. 

In a large bowl, mix and mash together all the other ingredients. Combine well.  You’re looking for most of the beans to be mashed but a few whole, for texture. Refrigerate. The mix is best used straight from the fridge, but it’s not essential.

Form the mix into burger patties, roughly 10cm wide, 1.5cm deep. This is easiest done with slightly wet hands.  Scatter the flour onto a plate. Place the patties in the flour and give a light coating all over.

Warm 1 tbs oil in a large frying pan on medium high heat. When warm, fry off two burgers at a time. Cook for 4-5 minutes each side, until a little charred. Place them on a lined baking tray and repeat.

When ready to serve, place the burgers in an oven, 200oC for 10-12 minutes, making sure they are warmed through.  

 

Wedges

On a baking tray lined with parchment (stops the wedges sticking to the tray), toss the potatoes and carrots in the oil, paprika, thyme, salt and cumin seeds.

Preheat a fan oven to 200oc and bake the wedges for 30 minutes, turning them gently at least once to ensure even cooking.

 

Yoghurt

Place all in a blender and blitz until smooth. Check seasoning.

 

Serve

In your favourite buns/ rolls with a little side salad, relish and loads of Autumn sunshine.

The bounty of autumn. A cooks paradise:)

Foodie Fact

Red rice is normally unhulled and has a lovely nutty flavour as well as loads of healthy properties.  Red rice is normally a little more expensive than other white or brown rices, it is more scarce and also has a much lower yield.

Red rice has a stronger flavour and when cooked, will share its bright red colour with other ingredients.  In these burgers, the rice adds a full flavour, loads of fibre and is the perfect ‘binder’ to help keep the burger together when being cooked and nibbled.

There is a good amount of protein in red rice and plenty of minerals like zinc and especially iron and magnesium.  You’ll also find Vitamin B1, B6 and B2, calcium, plus plenty of anti-oxidants.

During our cooking demo at the Ludlow Food Festival (I’m holding an imaginary cauliflower, it’s a long story……;)

If you try the ‘Ultimate Umami’ Burgers, let us know below in the comments.  We love to hear from you!!

Sign up to our BHK Newsletter and be the first to hear about our new events and promotions.

Come and say hello in London soon!  We’ll be at Vegfest 2017 and cooking at our Global Vegan event in Brixton.  

Can’t wait!

 

 

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , , , | 17 Comments

Home Cooked Happiness Vegan Cooking Retreat – Photos, Food and Thanks

Cooking demos in the studio

Here are a few photos of our recent Home Cooked Happiness retreat at the beautiful Trigonos in North Wales.  There were full days of vegan cooking demos, walks near Snowdon, yoga and lots and lots of good eating (and laughs)!

I cooked simple and creative dishes from all over the world; Mexico, Lebanon, Italy, Spain, Indonesia, Greece and China.  It was a pleasure to cook for such a wonderful group of people, I love these retreats, always leaving with a whole new gang of friends and inspiration to do more cooking retreats/ holidays.  I just have the best time!

First morning of HCH, I was up at dawn pressing tofu;)

Mexican Dark Chocolate & Pecan Blender Brownies (g/f) with Dulce de Leche – Dessert on Day 1

This time of year means an abundance of incredible organic, seasonal produce

I was so lucky to be able to cook with almost exclusively organic, local produce from the Trigonos farm and the brilliant Tyddyn Teg.  Thanks to Judy and Claire for providing produce that chef’s dream of;  Crown Prince Squash, Spaghetti Squash, beautiful greens, radiant tomatoes and even giant Welsh aubergines.

Mushrooms grown and foraged in Snowdonia, Wales

I even managed to get some local mushrooms, grown just the other side of Snowdon.  We had some foraged Chaterelles, loads of Shiitakes and even some Hedgehog mushrooms.  They made our paella extra special!  Thanks to The Mushroom Garden.

One of my favourite nights, Spanish feast with wild mushroom paella and a roast potato and thyme tortilla

Simple and delicious. Rose, Macadamia and Strawberry Cheesecake

View from the studio window. The weather was very un-Welsh throughout the retreat. The sun shone!

Just checking out the afternoon tea:)

Home Cooked Happiness starts in the kitchen, the heart of the home and ripples out into all aspects of our lives.  After all, eating a healthy and peaceful diet can only make our lives healthier and more peaceful!!  Cooking nourishing, fresh food at home is for me, one of the most important things we can do with our time.  It’s a gift for ourselves, body and mind, and those loved ones we share our lives with.  It doesn’t have to be fiddly or complicated, we learned loads of methods and techniques to make the most out of plants, the kind of dishes that anyone will enjoy, young or old, vegan or otherwise.

The buffet table is always packed with vegan treats

We went all Mexican on the first night.  Quesadillas, mole and all the bright and colourful trimmings.  I love it!

Every meal is accompanied by a varied cheese board, sometimes with homemade cheeses.

I’d like to thank Vegusto, V-Bites and Mozza Risella for providing some tasty cheeses for our cheese boards.

Willie’s Chocolate tasting on the last day. Everyone leaves buzzing on amazing chocolate!

Thanks to our lovely yoga teacher Claire for getting our mornings off to the best possible starts.

We start most mornings with yoga, meditation and a healthy breakfast, normally light, there is a lot of eating to do everyday!

We had three cooking demos every day, ranging from making plant milks and cheeses, to all kinds of global dishes, curries. soups, breads, cakes, desserts and lots of trying new ingredients from around the world.  Not to mention some pickling and fermenting.

I love cooking and preparing for these retreats, it pushes me to try out new things and develop new recipes.  Each attendee gets a big, fat recipe booklet to take home and play with in their kitchens.  The vast majority of the recipes are designed especially for the specific retreat.  Here’s one:

Rich chocolate mousse with drunken cherries and almond biscotti (g/f)

I’ll be sharing some of these new recipes on the blog soon.

The Italian Dinner rounded things off with seasonal feast of pasta, local vegetables and other Puglian delights!

Everyone say “Home Cooked Happiness!!!”

I can’t imagine a more beautiful location to host a retreat. I feel very lucky to have worked at Trigonos and be able to invite happy cooks into Snowdonia.

Thanks to all at Trigonos for the care, help and support in getting this retreat together and running it.  Most of all, thanks to all the Home Cooked Happiness group who made the retreat so special and memorable for me.  Your positive energy and passion made cooking for you a dream!  Now all you have to do is practice, practice, practice.  I can’t wait to see your kitchen inspiration over on our Facebook vegan cooking group.

So that’s it for our Trigonos retreats this year, both Home Cooked Happiness and One World Vegan have been an incredible experience for us both.  They have flown over and we’ll hopefully see some of you up here next year for more whole food, plant-based cooking and good times in North Wales.

Diolch yn Fawr!!

Our next event is soon in London – Global Vegan Cooking Demonstration and Lunch

Then we’re across to Vegfest London for a cooking demonstration. 

We also have our Taste of Bliss – Plant-based Yoga Holiday next May in Spain.  Just like Wales, but we substitute the mountains for beaches!

Categories: Cooking demos, Cooking Retreats, Events, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

One World Vegan Cooking Retreat – Photos, Memories and Thanks

I think pictures sometimes tell a better story than words.  We had an amazing time at our vegan cooking retreat last week at Trigonos.

Cooking Demo at One World Vegan, with the Snowdon Mountain Range in the background

Jane and I would like to thank all who attended and the Trigonos team for making it such a special and memorable time.

The lake at dawn behind Trigonos,

We were lucky with the weather as the sun shone for most of the retreat and we had a good walk around Snowdon.

Jane and the One Wold Vegan group, on a walk in Snowdonia.

We cooked food which we love and enjoyed on our travels around the Balkans, China, Indonesia, Italy, India, Mexico and more.

The buffet table was always packed with dishes;)  We brought the flavours  we savoured around the world back to North Wales.

I came up with a menu filled with original recipes, created especially for the retreat.  I love sharing the bounty and creativity of pure plant-based cooking.  With a few tricks and tips, it can be so easy to recreate wonderful, healthy, wholefood vegan food at home.

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Dulce de Leche 

Jane and I during one of the cooking demonstrations

Everyone who attended mentioned that it was a daily feast, but there is always room on the last day for the chocolate tasting.  Thanks to Willies Cacao, Essy & Bella and Vivani for supplying an interesting range of chocolates.  We traveled all around the world, just by sampling chocolates of differing origin.  A great way to travel!!  I think one of the most popular times is when we make hot chocolate with Willie’s 100% Single Estate Peruvian Black Cacao.  It tastes like no other hot chocolate!!  As we all know, chocolate is very, very important and should be taken seriously;)  Results of the chocolate tasting will be on a post soon.

The chocolate tasting on the final day is always a highlight.

We made a variety of vegan cheeses, from Smoky Cashew Cheese to Baked Almond Cheese, but I’d also like to thank Vegusto, V-Bites and Mozzarisella for contributing cheeses to our cheese boards at lunch and dinner.  I’d also like to mention the incredible Tomato Stall, based on the Isle of Wight, who produce some of the most delicious tomato based delights.  Their Oak Smoked Tomatoes are one of my favourite things.  I’m also loving their new Sun Dried Tomato Balsamic Vinegar.  Wow!!

Trigonos beautiful in the sunshine

We used a lot of Trigonos produce, grown to organic standards.  It’s such a privilege to cook with home grown produce.

Artichoke flower

Many of the group woke around dawn to pratice Tai Chi by the lake, even spotting otters most mornings.

Down by the lake

Judy and Owain picked fresh herbs and vegetables every morning from the Trigonos gardens and poly tunnels.

One World Vegan – Local produce given a global twist

Another table full vegan dishes, this was the Spanish dinner with paella

It’s a brilliant experience for me to meet so many people passionate about cooking and open to learning new techniques and recipes.

I’m just running through the menu for lunch here in the dining room

Great to see Janice from the ace blog Nourished by Nature again and thanks to Jan for taking some of these pictures.   I must mention Ninja Blenders for providing the BHK with a new, high quality blender and food processor, after ours finally gave up on a chocolate mousse one day.  It’s got so many features and we’re loving making ranges of smoothies, raw desserts and sauces with our new gadget.  It’s easy to clean and use, with loads of power to make things creamy and smooth.  We’ve never had a blender this good!

The group getting involved during one of the cooking demonstrations.

We’d also like to thank Laura from Yoga Wellbeing for coming up and teaching our yoga and meditation classes, plus John, Sarah and Gillian for the music and storytelling in the evenings.

Yoga classes in the mornings and meditation in the evenings help us all to relax and enjoy the beautiful location.  Classes taught by lovely Laura at Yoga Wellbeing (my sis;)

These cooking retreats go so quickly, sometimes I wish they could last for longer, we meet so many like-minded people and always make new friends.

Some of our group on the last day, hard to say goodbye.  We’ll have to do it again next year:)

We will be hosting other cooking retreats at Trigonos in the future.  Home Cooked Happiness – Creative Vegan Cooking Retreat starts this Saturday, 16th Septemeber.  We still have a few spaces available, more information on our Facebook page or call Trigonos directly 01286 882388.

Goodbye Trigonos and the Nantlle Valley, see you again soon:)

Categories: Cooking Retreats, Events, healthy, Healthy Eating, photography, plant-based, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

One World Vegan Cooking Retreat – 29/8-2/9/17, North Wales

The lake beside Trigonos the venue for the One World Vegan Cooking Retreat

COME AND COOK WITH US!!

I’ve just put the finishing touches to the new menus for the ‘One World Vegan’ Cooking Retreat at Trigonos, North Wales.  I’m really excited about them, the food is looking great and we have a diverse range of dishes to learn how to cook and most importantly, taste!  No one has seen these dishes before, expect Jane, we were up to 1 am last night trying new dishes out.  Yum!

There are a few places now available for this course, book by calling 01286 882388 or click for more info here

We’ll be working our way around the world, from Mexico to Lebanon, China to India, Indonesia to Italy with a little bit of the Balkans thrown in.  We’ll be cooking classics, that I’ve given my own twist and flavours to.  The vast majority of the dishes are gluten-free, as well as being healthy and decadent.  I’ve also just finished the recipe booklet, packed with recipes exclusively designed for this retreat.

Cooking at Trigonos last year.

I can’t wait to get cooking soon, Trigonos is one of my favourite places to cook and we’ll be using organic produce from a local farm and even Trigonos’s own fruit and veg, grown using organic practices.  I’m a very lucky chef indeed!!  All this plus spices and ingredients I brought back with me from the food markets of Delhi, Tripoli, Beijing and Jakarta.   It’s going to be a feast!

The coast. Irish Sea and beaches are just down the road.

Come and join us in a week or so for yoga, long walks in the hills and loads of laughs and windows of relaxation in picturesque surroundings.  I know it’s a bit last minute, but sometimes the best things are;)

Happy Cooking and Hopefully See You Soon!

Lee & Jane

North Wales, we love you!!

Categories: Cooking Retreats, Events, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Travel, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: | Leave a comment

Hot off the press! Announcing our next two vegan cooking retreats

 

We’re very excited to announce our next two vegan cooking retreats at the wonderful Trigonos.

One World Vegan – 4 day healthy cooking retreat
29 August – 2 September 2017

Home Cooked Happiness – 4 day simple vegan cooking retreat
16 – 20 September 2017

Full details are below.

Both courses will be packed with creative plant-based cooking, with optional yoga and meditation as well as evening entertainment and a long walk in the beautiful Snowdonia valleys.

All bookings and enquiries are via Trigonos here or contact on info@trigonos.org for a booking form and more info.

We have limited places available, we like to keep the groups small, it’s more intimate that way.  Gluten-free options available for all recipes.

See you in beautiful North Wales soon.

Lee & Jane:)

———–

ONE WORLD VEGAN: 4 DAY HEALTHY COOKING RETREAT

29 August – 2 September 2017
Led by Lee Watson
Author of Peace and Parsnips – Vegan Cooking for Everyone (Penguin/Michael Joseph)
co-presenter ‘Meat vs Veg’ TV Programme (24Kitchen)

A Trigonos Course

Join us for a rejuvenating, informative and fun retreat in idyllic Snowdonia and learn to cook traditional and contemporary vegan dishes from around the globe. Inspired by Lee’s travel experiences and the recipes, knowledge and tales he’s picked up along the way, this four day retreat will give an introduction Mexican, Indian, African, South East Asian and more with plenty of surprise additions and creative twists that all home cooks can master and everyone enjoy.

The emphasis will be on seasonal and local UK produce, along with essential and readily available ingredients from around the world. Recipes will be healthy and fresh, simple and quick. From exotic desserts to the world’s simplest curry, street food delights and Buddha bowls, we’ll explore all the delicious potential plant-based food has to offer.

The retreat will be informative and relaxing at the same time. Coffee, tea, herbal infusions and treats are free flowing – very important!

We have optional beginners yoga and meditation to start the day in a peaceful way, followed by breakfast with fresh juices and smoothies. Then cooking demonstrations with Lee with opportunities to get hands-on and involved.

Time is set aside to explore the beautiful nature and landscapes around Trigonos with an afternoon set aside for walking in the mountains and valleys of Snowdonia. Each evening will bring local entertainment and drinks by the fire in the Trigonos library, with optional meditation to end the day.

This retreat will be ideal for anyone looking to try something new in the kitchen, spice up their cooking and get adventurous!

Prices from £380 to £550

We’ll be using lots of fresh produce grown on the Trigonos land (check out those tomatoes!!)

 

HOME COOKED HAPPINESS: 4 DAY SIMPLE VEGAN COOKING

16 – 20 September 2017
Led by Lee Watson
Author of Peace and Parsnips – Vegan Cooking for Everyone (Penguin/Michael Joseph)
Co-presenter ‘Meat vs Veg’ TV Programme (24Kitchen)

Are you looking for a healthy and creative kick-start in the kitchen? Seeking simple and inspiring dishes that you’ll want to cook all the time? Or maybe something more decadent for weekends full of treats? On the Home Cooked Happiness Retreat, held at the stunning Trigonos centre in the heart of Snowdonia National Park, we’ll learn a range of skills for transforming simple and accessible produce into nutritious and delicious meals. All dishes have been approved by non-vegans!
 
We know that eating more fruit and vegetables is important for good health, but how can we fit cooking with fresh ingredients into our daily lives? It’s possible and this retreat will give you the techniques needed.
 
A balanced, whole food plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat and it can be sensational and doesn’t need to cost the earth. During the retreat we’ll be using fresh produce grown on the the Trigonos land.
 
The cooking demonstrations by Lee will be fun and informative and give even the beginner the confidence to explore the potential of vegan food with opportunities to get involved yourself.
 
We’ll be ‘veganising’ many classic, staple dishes and learning recipes covering breakfast ideas, breads, soups, starters, vegan cheese, imaginative salads, stews, burgers, curries, bakes, beautiful bowls, smoothies, cakes and many desserts.
 
The retreat is also designed as a relaxing break from the busy world, somewhere you can recharge. We’ll have optional meditation and yoga in mornings and evenings. Fresh juices and herbal infusions are always available, along with plenty of treats, fresh coffee, cakes and nice surprises along the way.
 
You’ll have ample time to explore the beautiful area, lakes and hills, around Trigonos and one afternoon, we’ll go on a long walk in the mountains and valleys of Snowdonia with a qualified local guide.
 
Every night, after dinner, we’ll relax around a log fire and enjoy drinks and local entertainment.
 
This will be a rejuvenating four days, filled with delicious food, where we’ll meet like-minded people and learn how to cook vegan food for everyone!

Prices from £320 to £490

To book your place contact Trigonos on 01286 882 388

 

 

Categories: Cooking Retreats, Healthy Eating, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Seeded spelt bread & simple tips to make awesome loaves

Seeded Spelt Loaf

Seeded Spelt Loaf

Here’s a simple, wholesome and tasty loaf for all made with one of our favourite flours, spelt.  In the wonderful world of bread making, this Seeded Spelt Bread is one for the beginner but will no doubt be enjoyed by everyone.  There is nothing that can beat the fresh wafts of warm bread floating around your house, although Dad’s mulled wine at Christmas does come close.  Bread wafts instantly makes a house into a home.

Shop bought bread, not even the posh deli style stuff, can come close to a lovely loaf of home baked happiness.  Some things you just can’t buy and I believe that most foods are well worth that little bit extra effort and bread is definitely one of those.

There is something priceless and utterly magnificent about the whole bread making process.  Its magical and only takes a little practice and know how.  I’ve popped a few tips below that will get you started on the road to bread brilliance.  If you’re a keen baker, and lets face it, its become a bit of trend recently, this loaf is simple and yet delicious.

A loaf of bread is surely one of the nicest things you could ever give to someone.  If I enter a persons house and they say ‘I’ve just taken some loaves out of the oven’ it’s like entering some kind of ideal parallel universe where everything is just about right.  I was once made a German sourdough loaf by some friends and I rave about it still.  It was over five years ago but I’ll be taking that loaf to the grave!  I wanted to move into their kitchen and make baked goods for the rest of my days.

In my humble opinion, making bread is one of the most soulful things you can do in the kitchen.  Really, I see cooking for people as a privilege.  Once you get the hang of it, the world of bread is yours to explore.   There is no doubting that bread making can be daunting at first and you’ll probably not knock out a perfectly risen and crusty sourdough loaf at the first time of asking.  But stick to the basics and you’ll make something wholesome and full of homemade goodness.

We don’t eat loads of bread in the BHK, I might bake one morning a week.  At work, I bake bread every morning and its one of my favourite ways of starting a day.  All that kneading wakes the body up nicely.  For me, keeping things simple first thing is always a good idea!  We make fresh bread at Trigonos for breakfast and a nice loaf to go out with soup at lunchtime.  In many ways being a chef is a good workout all round, after a ten hour shift in a busy kitchen the gym looks a little pale and tranquil in comparison.  Playing with pots and pans all day keeps chefs lithe and focused (most of the time).

Breakfast loaves at Trigonos, almost ready for the oven

Breakfast loaves at Trigonos, almost ready for the oven

This recipe has been fully approved by our resident bread expert at Trigonos, Holger.  Holger is a proper loaf lover, master wine maker (he even makes wine out of oak leaves!) and German.  Apparently, spelt is more widely available over there and is sold as loaves and rolls, well named ‘Dinkelbrot’.  I know Holger is partial to this loaf because he always goes back for seconds.  Enough said.  It’s a success!

My favourite picture of Holger - observing the 2015 solar eclipse

My favourite picture of Holger – observing the 2015 solar eclipse

WHAT IS SPELT?

Spelt is one of my favourite flours giving a lovely light and nutty loaf.  It is really different from using wheat flour and is a highly nutritious grain that many people who are sensitive to wheat can enjoy.  Sometimes known as dinkel wheat (a word I appreciate) spelt has been cultivated since 5000BC.  It’s fair to say that folk around here in North Wales have probably been making loaves like this since the Bronze age.

Spelt is basically a sub species of wheat and being an ancient grain, has not been manipulated to meet manufacturing needs (like many variations of wheat have for example).  Spelt is easy on the digestive system as the gluten in spelt is water soluble and breaks down when mixed or chewed.  Being an ancient grain, spelt has kept its hard hull intact.  Many modern wheat grains have no hull which protects the grains from pests and the elements.  These wheat grains have now developed an enzyme inhibitor that keeps pests at bay but effects the way that we digest these grains, as enzymes are an essential part of good digestion.  If you feel bloated or heavy after eating bread, switching to spelt bread may be a good idea.

SIMPLE TIPS FOR AWESOME LOAVES

Bread takes some time and effort, not to mention a little technique and skill:

  • LINING – Line your loaf tin/ oven tray with baking parchment.  If your equipment is not totally non-stick, and that attribute is quite rare, then don’t risk a sticky situation.  Quickly line with baking parchment and you are certain of a simple extraction.
  • PROVING – The texture of a loaf comes mainly from the gluten waking up and doing its thing.   This takes a long proving and some kneading.  You don’t always have to pummel your dough for a long time, you can even leave dough in a fridge or a cool place for a very slow prove, overnight for example.  This allows gluten and flavours to develop and makes for a delicious loaf.  In Wales, it is so cold and we have no central heating, we have no choice but to take it slow.  We have however been known to use a warm hot water bottle to help get our dough woken up.
  • OVEN – Baking in general will mean getting to know your oven.  They are all different and timings may vary.  Where you place loaves/ cakes in an oven has a huge effect on the outcome and results will vary depending on whether the oven is heated by a fan or the main heat source is from the base etc.  It can be trail and error at first and the only way to learn sometimes is an over baked bottom on your loaf.
  • PRESENTATION – Bread looks cool when its a bit rough I believe.  Smooth is nice but try and give the surface some texture by not playing with it too much.  Tears and bobbles are great on bread and add to the texture of an interesting loaf.  You may also like to slash the top of the loaf before the final proving.  This adds texture to the loaf and also looks mighty fine.  Dusting with flour will result in a soft crust and brushing with soya milk will result in a crisp and darker crust.  With wet doughs, the loaf will spread out in the oven a little, this is worth bearing in mind if you have a particular shape in mind.
  • OBSERVE – Its also important to remember to be patient with bread making and flexible.  Observe the bread, whats happening to it?  When proving the loaf, is it rising too quickly or too slowly.  This will all be dependent on the ambient temperature (or you forgot the yeast!!)  Gauge whether the loaf is actually twice the size and amend the timings, less or more.  Sometimes the loaf will take much longer to prove and that is fine and actually preferred.  The key factor is that the yeast wakes up and does its thing, working its magic within the bread.  A quick prove can result in off, sour aromas and big air pockets in the loaf.
  • KNEADING – A wet, sticky dough is always better than dry and floury loaf.  I use oil when kneading the loaf as this will not add flour to the recipe, changing the texture of the loaf.  Many bread makers use dough spatulas instead of hands when ‘kneading’.  The old fashioned image of sleeves rolled up and pummeling an hapless lump of dough is not always the best way to go.  When your dough can stretched easily without breaking, around 8 inches is a good gauge, then its ready.
  • STEAM – Turn your oven at home into a professional bakers oven by adding a cooking tray to a lower shelf whilst preheating and when the loaf goes in, pour some water into the tray.  Creating steam which allows the loaf to develop a nice thick and light crust.  I do this with most loaves.
  • YEAST – This is the magic dust that makes bread rise.  Always keep it separate from salt,  they don’t get along and salt can kill it.  Add them to different parts of the bowl.  You can add your yeast to the warm water before mixing, but I find that it wakes up by itself.

Recipe Notes

I like this loaf with poppy seeds included in the seed mix.  They have a lovely flavour and give a nice bite to the loaf.  You may also like to add dried fruits like dates, apricots or herbs like rosemary and thyme to the loaf.  Spices like cinnamon and even garam masala can be delicious.

Rapeseed is one of my favourite oils and is local to us in the UK.  It has a great flavour that compliments spelt well, but you can use any oil, olive or sunflower etc.

Remember that spelt proves quicker than wheat.  I have proved this loaf twice, but you can easily omit the first prove and go straight for a single 40 minute prove followed by baking.  This is of course quicker and leads to a lighter loaf and ever so slightly crumbly.  Not better or worse really, just different.

This bread can be baked in a loaf tin, this makes it easier to handle as the dough can be quite wet.  If your just starting on your bread journey, go for a 1kg tin here.  Handling a spelt loaf is different from a wheat loaf, it can be quite floppy and needs some gentle encouragement (see below).

Add white flour instead of spelt for a lighter loaf.

Due to the gluten being different in spelt, it does not take as much kneading as wheat.  This can actually break down the gluten in the loaf, as oppose to strengthen it as with wheat.

 

Seeded Spelt Bread

The Bits – For one large loaf (10-12 slices)

500g spelt flour

1 teas yeast

1 1/3 teas salt

1 tbs malted rice extract (or sweetener of choice)

2 tbs rapeseed oil (plus extra for brushing)

2 handfuls mixed seeds (choose from poppy, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, hemp etc)

350ml warm water

 

Do It

In a large mixing bowl add the flour, seeds, salt and yeast.  Stir the sweetener into the water and gradually pour the water into the flour mix. Mixing it in with your hand or a wooden spoon.   Once all of the water is combined and a dough is formed add the oil and brush/ rub all the excess dough on your hands/ spoon back into the bowl and begin to knead the dough.

If your bowl is big enough, its possible to knead it in the bowl.  Otherwise turn out onto a cool surface, ideally lightly oiled.  Knead, it will be quite sticky, don’t worry, just give a good twist and pummel.  A lightly film of oil on your hands helps with the stickiness.  Work it!  Imagine you’re a kid again playing with food.  Its fun!  Give it roughly a couple of minutes kneading.  When the dough is smooth and pliant, you’re ready.

Form a ball and lightly oil it all over, in the bowl, lightly cover with a kitchen cloth and leave in a place that is slightly warmer than room temperature for 45 minutes.  The warmer it is, the more the yeast will come to life, so keep your eye on it.  The key is that the dough doubles in size.

A nicely shaped spelt dough ball, ready for its first prove

A nicely shaped spelt dough ball, ready for its first prove

Now knock it back (or knead it again).  Basically knocking the bubbles out of the bread and getting the gluten going even more.  This will all add to the firm and chewy texture of the loaf.  Form a rough and fat ball.  It will spread out, so tall is good.

Sprinkle or roll the dough in seeds if you like.  Grab an oven tray lined with baking parchment and place your dough on it and leave to prove for 35 minutes, until the dough has almost doubled in size (ideally, in a very perfect world, leaving just a little room for expanding in the oven).

Preheat an oven to 200oc and place a baking tray on a lower shelf.

The loaf ready for its final 35 minute prove

The loaf ready for its final 35 minute prove

This is spelt so the loaf may now look like a fat pizza base.  This is fine.  Using your hands or a spatula, gently form the loaf back together into the shape you prefer, pushing it and tucking it in.  You don’t want to handle it much at all at this stage.  A bit of gentle persuasion is best.  The loaf will be quite thin, nothing like a sphere but should not resemble a gorgeous, 2D frisbee.

Pour a couple of cups of water into a the now hot oven tray (lots of steam) and pop the loaf into the oven on a middle shelf.

(The tray steaming step is not essential).

Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Tap the base, it should sound nice and hollow with a good crust.  If this is not the case, pop it back in for another five minutes and repeat the process.

Lovely light spelt loaf with a good thick crust

Lovely light spelt loaf with a good thick crust

Once baked, leave the loaf on a wire rack (with a few inches of clearance underneath, too close to the surface and you’ll end up with a soggy bottom, which is never pleasant).  I give it at least 30 minutes before tucking in.  If you are in a hurry to cool the loaf down, cut in half or quarters.  This will release the steam making the loaf cool much quicker.

Serve

Makes a brilliant slice of toast and is ideal with soups especially.  I like it best warm with a drizzle of nice rapeseed oil or a little pot of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Just a quick dip in that and then………woahhhhhh!  Lovely stuff.

Foodie Fact

Spelt is a good source of protein, dietary fibre, some B vitamins and minerals, especially manganese with good levels of iron.  It makes for a highly nutritious loaf.

Categories: Baking, Healthy Eating, photography, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The big chocolate tasting and the thrills of real cacao

Mid chocolate scoff/ tasting

In the library at Trigonos – Mid chocolate tasting

Come join our chocolate feast!!!!  A group of dedicated chocolate enthusiasts (and keen amateurs) gathered together and tasted some of the best chocolate around.  We tried the finest single estate cacao, raw chocolate and some delicious milk chocolate and I’d like to share our findings and the thrills and joys of real cacao!  Definitely not your average chocolate.

There is a huge difference between a quality chocolate and what we normally find in the shops and we had the rare privilege of trying them all back-to-back and finding out what kind of chocoholic we were!  Some like chocolate with caramel notes, some prefer cacao with a hint of summer berries and we pretty much all loved the wild orange flavour.  Here are the results of an intensive tasting session involving some of Jane and I’s favourite chocolate producers.

One of the cooking demos at the vegan cooking retreat

One of the cooking demos at the vegan cooking retreat – Photo by Ashley Duckerin

We were lucky enough to host this chocolate tasting at our recent vegan cooking retreat.  Having assembled some of the most brilliant chocolate around we all tried to eat a small breakfast in preparation for the chocolate onslaught that lay ahead.  How could we fit it all in!?  There is no spitting chocolate out a la wine tasting (that would be way too gruesome and messy).  This was a stamina event for serious chocolate fanatics and aficionados only.

So much glorious chocolate on one table!!!

So much glorious chocolate on one table!!!

In reality, it wasn’t quite that dramatic.  There was a lot of nibbling going on and plenty of uuuuuuuuming and aaaaaaaaahhhing (in a good way).  A variety of ecstatic yelps and the occasional ooooooooh (thats normally a very good sign).  One thing is for sure, we had some clear winners that shone through and brought much smiles and happiness.

This choc-a-thon saw us taste a variety of chocolate from Willie’s Cacao, Ethicoco, Pana Chocolate and Choco Mama.  These guys are making some of the very best chocolate available in the UK.  I’d also like to mention Essy & Bella’s chocolate, who were definitely going to feature (we love em!) but time caught up on us.

Willie's Cacao specialise in sourcing amazing cacao beans and allowing their individual characters to shine through.

Willie’s Cacao specialise in sourcing amazing cacao beans and allowing their individual characters to shine through.

So let the tasting begin…..

DARK CHOCOLATE WINNER – WILLIE’S CACAO PERUVIAN GOLD ‘CHULUCANAS 70’

We started with unflavoured, unadulterated dark chocolate.  Pure, simple and potentially, absolutely sublime.  For me, as a slight chocolate snob (I am a cook after all) this is where chocolate begins and ends.  I love all chocolate, but this is its purest expression.  All the flavour of the cacao is there (hopefully) and we were lucky enough to be in contact with the wonderful Willie’s Cacao who supplied some sensational, single estate, chocolate bars especially for the purpose of sampling a range of cacao from different regions and countries.  We could really taste how the specific location of the cacao estate affected the flavour of the final bar.

It was clear that Willie’s had the dark chocolate comp covered with bars from Peru, Venezuela, Madagascar, Columbia and Indonesia.  Willie compares good cacao beans to fine wines, each estate capable of producing beans with unique, stunning and individual flavours.  Willie’s Cacao uses just raw sugar cane and natural cacao butter, no soya lecithin that can impair flavour.  Willie even owns a cacao estate in Venezuela and visits all the farms that supply his beans.  I love his approach and passion for chocolate.

It is a rare privilege to taste high quality products back to back, you can really appreciate the difference in flavours and textures.  Willie’s range of dark chocolate it stunning and it was difficult to pick a winner.  Eventually the Peruvian Gold ‘Chulucanas 70‘ came out on top with its distinct raisin-like flavour and deep, dark cacao taste.  A tiny piece is like a taste explosion in the mouth!

Really, all of Willie’s chocolate is a delight, with the pure taste of exceptional cacao in each bar.  He really does make chocolate from ‘bean to bar’ which many producers talk about, but few are scouring the jungles of Latin America and the world seeking new and interesting cacao beans.  Picking a favourite, well it really just depends of how you feel that day, there are flavours like caramel, nut, berries, fruits in each bar.  You’ll just have to have your own chocolate tasting to try the all!

(I have to say that my favourite Willie’s chocolate is the Indonesian Gold ‘Javan Dark Breaking 69’ which didn’t even make it to the tasting.  Very irresponsible of me, it just disappeared somewhere on route. In the car. YUM.)

The intrepid group of chocolate tasters and ace vegan cooks! Photo by Ashley Duckerin

The intrepid group of chocolate tasters and ace vegan cooks! Photo by Ashley Duckerin 

RAW AND FLAVOURED CHOCOLATES – WINNER PANA CHOCOLATE FIG AND WILD ORANGE

We then dove straight into the raw and flavoured chocolates and this was an equally difficult and exhaustive process, with repeat tastings needed to decided a winner (nobody seemed to mind this at all!)  Extra tea was drafted in….  We liked Choco Mama’s Mulberry Crunch flavour an interesting texture and dried mulberries are rarely seen in the UK.  Choco Mama is a small company based in glorious North Wales and we love trying their range of chocolate from our local health food store.  Their chocolate is hand made in small batches with fair trade cacao form co-ops in Bali and Peru.

choco mama

An interesting range of raw and fair trade chocolate made in Wales

However the clear winner in this section was Pana Chocolate’s Fig and Wild Orange.  They already produce a wonderful selection of chocolates with creative and surprising flavours and it seems that there are even more coming soon (I just checked out their website, Hemp and Nib is looking good).  The Fig and Wild Orange flavour received the the most votes by a long way and like all Pana Chocolate is so rich and silky.  We all loved the fragrant orange flavour coming from the orange essential oils.

Pana Chocolate make 'Chocolate that loves what’s within, as well as the earth it came from.'

Pana Chocolate make ‘Chocolate that loves what’s within, as well as the earth it came from.’

Ethicoco’s rich and creamy bar did gather quite a few votes but the majority of people were part of the dark chocolate persuasion and it was always up against it.  As a change, we will definitely be buying a few bars for a rainy day.  I also love the sound of their Chai Latte Flavour and at VegFest this year in London, I tried their range of dark chocolate which was also delicious.  We found that the oat milk makes this bar so creamy and it is not overly sweet, something I cannot forgive in a chocolate bar.  I like to taste the cacao not the sugar!  Ethicoco know their way around a top bar of chocolate for sure.

An aerial view of Trigonos taken from a drone (piloted by one of the course attendees), the retreat centre where the cooking workshop was held - North Wales

An aerial view of Trigonos taken from a drone (piloted by one of the course attendees), the retreat centre where the cooking workshop was held – North Wales – Photo by Ashley Duckerin

HOT CHOCOLATE HEAVEN

To top everything off with yet another dollop of chocolaty happiness, during our story telling evening with Claire, we made a massive bubbling pot of hot chocolate using a block of Willie’s 100% Venezuelan Black Cacao.  You basically grate the entire block (if you’re making for fifteen) over a pan of water and bring to a simmer.  The cacao does need cooking through for a while to allow it to melt and become silky smooth.  You can add some almond milk, but it’s creamy and rich as it is and is packed with pure cacao goodness.  As Willie says “Coffee is a poor mans hot chocolate” and when you try this hot chocolate, you can really see why.  The flavour is intense and the aroma, totally sensational.

I love using cacao in savoury cooking like stews and pies.  There is a ‘Smoked Chocolate and Beetroot Beans’ recipe in Peace & Parsnips which contains very dark chocolate.  You can try adding a few teaspoons of cocoa to a Mexican-style stew, it brings a new and interesting flavour to a bowlful of your favourite beans and goes especially well with smoked paprika or chipotle chillies.

cyl-venezuelan-carenero--e1427891943355

There is a rumour going round that bottles of rum where planted around the library at strategic points and this somehow made it into the hot chocolate.  I have no idea how that happened?!  So the scene is…..an open fire, a group of new friends, a wonderful story unfolding and a mug of rum laced hot chocolate from Venezuela…….it was a very special evening and the best possible way to spend the last night of our retreat.  We all had rosy cheeks and slept like babies.

So tasting chocolate is a hit (we thought it might be!) We couldn’t think of a better way to round off our vegan cooking retreat, with all those whoops and occasional sounds of sheer delight!  Great chocolate does that!!  Highlighting the power that brilliant, plant-based food can have on us.  It can bring so much joy and I’d like to thank all the chocolate suppliers for packing so much flavour, care, love and happiness into each little bar of chocolate.  It was all very much appreciated.

A cacao pod

A cacao pod – where every chocolate bar begins…

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF REAL CACAO

Cacao has been known as the ‘Food of the Gods’ for centuries in the Americas and it’s easy to see why.  The cacao tree produces big pods, where the cacao beans hide and grow.  Inside each cacao bean there is a cacao nib (for chocolate) and cacao butter (for chocolate, cosmetics etc).  Most chocolates are made with extra cacao butter, or things like soya lecithin, added to make the bar smooth.

Cacao is very high in anti-oxidants and essential nutrients although many of these can be lost when processed into chocolate or cocoa.  Some of the apparent health benefits of eating cacao are lowering high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, asthma, diarrhea, preventing wrinkles, liver, bladder and kidney disorders and many more.

The cacao bean is packed full of antioxidants, good fats, carbohydrates, protein, minerals like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, iron, zinc and potassium.  They also contain oleic acid which is a heart-healthy essential mono unsaturated fat, fiber and vitamins E, B2, B1, B5, B3 and B9 as well as small quantities of vitamin A and C.  We think it’s incredible that something as decadent as chocolate, especially raw chocolate, is so wonderfully healthy.

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FULL CHOCOLATE TASTING RESULTS – TRIGONOS 4/3/16

Pana Chocolate – Fig and Wild Orange – 15 points

Willie’s – Peruvian Gold ‘Chulucanas 70’ – 5 points

Willie’s – Venezuelan Gold ‘Rio Carabe 72’ – 2 points

Choco Mama’s – Mulberry Crunch – 2 points

Ethicoco – Ugandan Oat Milk and Raisin – 2 points

Pana Chocolate – Nut – 2 points

Willie’s – Venezulean Gold ‘Las Trincheras 72’ – 2 points

Willie’s – Madagascan Gold ‘Sambirano 71’ – 1 point

Willie’s – Columbian Gold ‘Los Llanos 88’ – 1 point

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Willie’s – 100% Venezuelan Black Carenero Cacao (as hot chocolate) – Many, many points…….(plus extras with a glug of rum)

Thanks again to Willie’s Cacao, Ethicoco and Pana Chocolate for sending chocolate across to the BHK.  It is always wonderful to sample on the blog the products that we enjoy so much.

PS – Although Willie’s is not certified as vegan, I have spoken to them and they assure me that their dark chocolate it totally vegan.  

Categories: Cooking Retreats, healthy, Nutrition, Organic, photography, Raw Food, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Coconut Scones

Coconut Scones (Vegan)

Coconut Scones (Vegan)

Mum’s here!!!! (and Dad)  When Mum visits we get stuck into loads of cooking.  We always have done and I’ve had these scones in mind for a while.  I knew Mum would love ’em!  Coconut + scones = genius.

This is a light, rich and crispy scone recipe especially for all those Mum’s out there. It’s MOTHERS DAY!! (Well it was yesterday when we made them!)  This will make any afternoon tea a little bit special.  Just add your favourite jam or Mum just had one with chocolate spread.  Yowzah!

These little beauties are based on the awesome recipe sent across to us by Janice at Nourished by Nature.  A place we visit regularly for nutritious, delicious, healthy recipes.  Janice is so passionate and creative and we love the way she cooks!  These scones even scooped the ‘Sweet Treat’ award at our last cookbook giveaway.  We just had to share our version of the recipe.

I love making scones and must admit, that at the moment I make more savoury scones.  Rosemary scones being my favourite.  They work so well with a nice hearty vegetable broth in these chilly winter months.  I have some great memories of Mum’s baking as a child.  Mum’s walnut and date scones were always amazing!  They were at least three times the thickness of these little guys.  I must remember to ask very nicely for a recipe…..

I have never used a food processor to make scones before, but I will again.  If used with care, i.e. not over working the mixture, the resulting scones are light with a delicious crispy crust.  I do not have a massive sweet tooth but these are right up my street!  A brilliant twist on a classic, just what we’d expect from Janice.

Mum busy with scones.  Always amazing to see Mum in the kitchen!

Mum busy with scones. Always amazing to see Mum in the kitchen!

Recipe Notes

I use the coconut oil here in solid form. This works best.

Feel free to use vegan spread instead of coconut oil, which I realise is quite expensive.  I must admit, I prefer the coconut oil ones.  Richer, lighter and with a crispier crust.

These scones can be made thicker, but I find thin scones great because there is less leftover mixture at the end and that means more lighter scones.  Once we start to reform the leftover straggly bits, the scones become heavier (although still very tasty).  Try weighing them in your hands, you’ll see what I mean.

Remember when baking scones, cookies etc they will seem a little underdone when removing them from the oven, they tend to firm up on the cooling rack.  This is perfectly normal and its best to take them out slightly undone than slightly overdone I feel.  Check the tops and bottoms, if they are beginning to brown, you’re there.

The Bits – Makes 8 medium-sized scones

225g self raising white flour

2 level teaspoons baking powder

50g unrefined white sugar (unprocessed)

100g coconut oil or vegan spread (olive, sunflower etc)

55g desiccated coconut

4-5 tablespoons plant based milk (soya milks works well)

2 tbs soya milk (for brushing)

2 tbs desscated coconut (for topping

Do It

Preheat an oven to 200oC (180oC Fan Oven)

In a food processor, add all the dry ingrdients and pulse a few times until a loose crumb forms. Add the soya milk gradually whilst pulsing until the mixture just starts coming together.

If you are not using a food processor, place all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and crumble the mixture using your fingers and thumbs (think breadcrumbs). After a while it will form a fine crumb, add the milk gradually, mixing with a spoon.

Fresh out of the oven

Fresh out of the oven

Pop the mixture onto a floured surface and bring it together with your hands. Do not over handle at this stage or your scones will be dense. Light scones will come about from very little handling.

Roll out the mixture using a rolling pin to a depth of 1 – 1/2 inches and cut out the scones using a cutter of your choice (Janice using a very cool heart shaped one). These ones will be the lightest, gather together the straggly bits of pasty and make into extra scones.  

Place on a baking tray lined with parchment and bake on a middle shelf in the oven for 12-14 minutes until the tops are have browned.

Coconut Scones - one ain't enough!;)

Coconut Scones with Rhubarb and Blueberry Jam – one ain’t enough!;)

Serve

You know how you love ’em!  A scone eaten still warm from the oven is a thing of rare beauty (blazing fire and purring cat on lap optional).

Foodie Fact

Coconut is an incredibly good thing in so many ways.  It is high in fat, giving it that gorgeous richness.  The fat in coconut is no ordinary fat however, a large portion of it is known as lauric acid.  A fat which has been shown to heighten our good cholesterol levels.  A medium coconut covers all of our energetic, mineral and vitamin needs for a whole day!   If you are ever in a tropical country and feeling the heat, reach for coconut water.  It is excellent at rehydrating the body

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Treats, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

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