Welsh produce

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

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

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

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

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

ORGANIC VEG FARMERS ARE REAL HEROS

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

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

BOK CHOI LOVES WALES!

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

THE WANDERERS RETURN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bits – For 2

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

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

Do It

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

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

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

Serve

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

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

Detox Greens Soup with Welsh Miso, Ginger and Green Lentils

Detox Greens Soup with Welsh Miso, Ginger and Green Lentils

Detox Greens Soup with Welsh Miso, Ginger and Green Lentils

There is just the hint of winter in the air as we move through autumn and this slight chill always gets my soup bells ringing.  Here is a soup that ticks all of the autumnal boxes, tasty and utterly loaded with healthy things, even (almost) locally made Welsh Miso.

This recipe takes care of all of our seasonal fare on Tiger Mountain, all of them green and when simmered together for a time, transform into a tasty health elixir.  The flavours are hearty and comforting with a tinge of ginger and miso in the background to keep things interesting and offer a little Japanese style twang.

My Dad, John (aka the big yin, aka ‘heed’, aka Johnnie Boy) has been visiting for a week and he knows how to enjoy himself, Jane and I struggle to keep up!  We’ve had a week of wonderful times but lets just say that many of them were not exactly beneficial to the health.  Our wine rack is bare (a very grim sight) and our ale stores seriously depleted.  After waving Dad off at the station, we both decided that our bodies needed some kind of green wake up call and nothing comforts and revitalizes more than a decent bowl of soup.

The 'Big Yin' at Aber Falls, near bangor

The ‘Big Yin’ at Aber Falls, near bangor

Cabbage is the backbone of this soup, and a good cabbage is essential late autumn behaviour.  Not the most glamorous of ingredients but when handled with care, one of the tastiest and versatile veggies.  I love wrapping things in cabbage leaves and baking them, or even blanching the leaves and using them as an alternative to something like a spring roll.  One things for sure, in north Wales, we’ll never be short of cabbages, they love it up here and at work the other day (I cook in a retreat/ alternative learning centre), I had the privilege of tackling the largest cabbage I have ever seen.  Judy (farming genius and very much more) wandered into the kitchen bearing a green globe at least 2 feet across!!!!  I swear there must be something magical in the soil over there, we can hardly eke a Brussel sprout out up here!!!!  If you can’t get hold of a good organic cabbage, you may need to add a little more stock to the mix, your taste buds will be the guide…….

We have been building up to making our own miso for a while now, but are fortunate to have Welsh miso being produced almost on our own doorstep, give or take a few hundred miles, in the same country at the very least.  They guys at Source Foods seem like a very decent bunch and their products are top. We recently got hold of a pot of their hemp miso (thanks for forgetting it Helen!) and its a wicked addition to their fabulous fermented offerings.  They use all organic ingredients and without sourcing bits from Japan, which has been very unfortunately effected by the Fukushima tragedy.   Welsh Miso, quite randomnly, is our amazing stuff!

Miso adds unmistakable vitality and deliciousness, but comes with bags of sodium.  If you are serious about making this a detox soup, give your kidneys a break and take it easy on the miso, 2 tbs is enough.  There is however new research coming out that highlights the difference between salt and miso, they are handled differently and have different effects on our bodies.  Salt leads to higher blood pressure and for some miraculous reason, miso does not.  This is backed up by the rate of heart problems in Japan, where high levels of miso is consumed regularly.  We used light miso here, but you can use a darker variety, just use less.  See the ‘Foodie Fact’ below for more info on marvelous Mr Miso.

This soup falls into the bracket of ‘a meal in itself’ and we regularly eat it like a stew, without much liquid and plenty of lumps.  In this state, it will be wonderful with brown rice, but we find it filling enough by itself.

The Bits – For 6 good bowls

1 teas olive oil

1 teas toasted sesame seed oil

1 leek (finely sliced)

1 1/2  inch fresh ginger (finely diced or roughly grated)

2 celery sticks (finely sliced)

1/2 medium savoy cabbage

1 cup green/ puy lentils

1 small head broccoli (cut into small florets)

6 handfuls spinach leaves

600ml warm organic vegetable stock (use only water if you trust your veggies to be amazing)

1 teas dried rosemary

2-5 tbs light miso (to taste)

sea salt (if needed)

 

Drizzle of olive oil (optional)

The Bits all prep'd

The Bits – pre-prep

Do It

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan on medium heat, drizzle in the oils and when warm add the leeks, ginger and celery.  Stir and fry for 4-5 minutes, until soft.  Add the cabbage, lentils, stock/ water and rosemary to the pan.  Bring to a boil and lower heat to a steady simmer, pop a lid on and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are soft.

Add the broccoli and spinach, stir into the soup and pop the lid back on, cook for a further 5 minutes on a low simmer.  Stir in the miso to taste.  Pulse a few times with a stick blender, or add a quarter of the soup to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Pop a lid on and leave the soup to stand for a couple of minutes.  Miso is really like salt with benefits, it will enhance and deepens the flavours.

Definitely looks healthy!!!

Definitely looks healthy!!!

Serve

Straight away, add a little splash of olive oil for added richness.  If its a very special occasion (or a Tuesday) you could stir in 2-3 tbs of hazelnut butter to add silky creaminess.   Inevitably, Jane’s Easy Seeded Wholemeal Loaf, lightly toasted would be a belter of an accompaniment.

Foodie Fact

‘Miso’ is Japanese for ‘fermenting beans’ and miso can be made with any grain/ bean.  We used soya based miso here but you can find barley, rice, buckwheat, wheat, hemp seed….the list goes on.  Obvious what the miso is made of will alter the nutritional benefits but soya beans are normally used as a base in the process.

Miso involves fermentation, which of course means funky mould (or fungus if you will).  The fungus in question is the brilliantly named  ‘Aspergillus oryzae’ and its highly magic!  The key discovery made in the production of miso was how to keep these spores alive and transportable.  Miso on the move.  People have been fermenting foods in Japan and China for thousands of years (its also traditionally made in Indonesia and Korea), it was referred to as ‘Koji’ and they were well aware of the health benefits brought about by these amazing moulds.  This is the same process used when making sake, soya sauce tamari etc.

To make miso, you basically add the Aspergillus (or other sometimes other bacteria’s/ micro organisms are used) to soaked and cooked soya beans to get things started, this is in turn added to soaked and cooked grains/ beans and the miso is left to mellow and mature.  Miso comes in all sorts of shades and colours, normally white, red and dark brown, the fermentation process dictates the depth of flavour and colour.  Normally the darker the colour, the more intense the flavour, red and brown miso can be matured for three years and ‘Hatcho’ Miso, which is famous in Japan, is matured in 200 year old vats for three winters.

Buy organic miso when you can and ensure that no MSG has been added, cheaper makes will do this.  Miso is very nourishing and is a good source of fibre and protein, it is a very tasty way of adding legumes to your diet, 2 tbs of miso normally contains the nutrition of 2 cups worth of legumes.  The fermentation process of miso means that some of the beneficial chemicals present are already broken down by the magic fungus, giving our digestion a break and allowing our bodies to easily absorb all the goodness.   Misos main attraction, from a health point of view, is its outrageous list of beneficial anti-oxidants, our free radical scavenging friends.

We also just like the word ‘Miso’ and have decided that if another cat decides to move in with us, there are few appearing round our way, we’ll name it ‘Miso’.  Could we get away with calling a child ‘Miso’?!  Hmmm…..

Somethings we’ve cooked with our friend mighty Miso:

Mug of Miso

Sprouted Buckwheat, Onion and Miso Crackers (Raw)

Sava’s Elephant Garlic Flower Salad

Miso and Tahini Dressing

Black Prince Tomato and Coriander Soup (Raw)

Soup on the hob

Soup on the hob

Categories: Detox, Fermentation, Recipes, Soups, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

PIE!

PIE!

A fine pie with influence from Jerusalem (via the Caernarfon Library) and our local hero’s; the mighty leek (a symbol of Wales-ness and great taste), our neighbour’s eggs and the humble spud.  My friend Mandy also makes a pie not to dissimilar to this one, so its a tasty mix of all these things and more!  Surely with all that input, this pie can only be amazing!

We have been getting a few leeks out of the garden, but these are proper Welsh farm leeks (the home of the mighty leek, spiritual at least).  Great leeks are a good place to start most dishes, but especially pies.  I like to put leeks centre stage, they deserve it and should not be wasted in a stock pot.

LEGENDARY LEEKS

Legend would have it that St David (the patron saint of Wales) had the Welsh army wear leeks on their helmets to differentiate themselves from some pesky Saxon invaders.  The impact of this fashion accessory stuck and it is still worn on March 1st, St Davids day.

“MR OTTOLENGHI I PRESUME”

Yotam Ottolenghi’s cooking style also makes an appearance here.  He is a real food superstar, most things he touches come to life with flavour and texture. I popped down to Caernarfon Library and picked up a few books, one of them being Yotam’s ‘Jerusalem‘, a fascinating place and a fascinating book. Brilliantly written and photographed, the dishes seem intrinsic to the melting pot of Jerusalem, with its many cultures in one little place. I particularly liked the ‘Herb Pie‘ recipe and immediately went about corrupting it to suit my cupboards and fridge. This little pie popped up and we’re glad it did. It is full of YUM, gorgeous richness of cheese, herbs, sweet leeks and onion

Lovely local spuds, getting golden

Lovely local spuds, getting golden

I was half asleep at the shop yesterday and bought puff pastry instead of filo, I think filo would have been better, but the puff sufficed!  I would like to think one day I will make my own puff pastry and my own filo pastry, I would also like to think one day I’ll play guitar like Neil Young and write poetry like T.S. Elliot.  Stranger things have happened!!!!!

Mandy puts Goats Cheese in her ‘Leek and Walnut Pie’, but I prefer the tang of the feta here that stands up nicely to the other flavours and has the perfect crumbly texture for this filling.

Really get your leeks, onions, potatoes etc nice and golden and sweet, this will make a great contrast with the lemon, olive and feta.  Expect a multi-cultural party in your mouth here!

CRAZY CHEESE

You can really go crazy with the cheese here and Yotam put three cheeses into his pie (he seems to put three cheeses into alot of things).  Obviously we are working on a different level to Yotam and felt that one was more than enough, with a couple of blobs of good creamy Greek yoghurt to add a creamier feel.

LITTLE TIP – LEEK CLEANING

I find the easiest way is to cut off the very tops of the green leaves and check for any dodgy looking wilted leaves.  Then chop the leek, discarding the root end and loosing the hard outer leaves, you’ll be able to feel what I mean when you do it.  Then place in standing cold water and give them a good wash.  Sieve out and double check that no grit or dirt remains.

Cleaning and chopping a leek this way allows you to get the most out of the green bit, which is packed with flavour and all to often shown the bin.

MORE BEACH HOUSE FLAVOUR HERE:

Radio Tarifa Tagine

Murcian Sweet Potato and Manchengo Burger

Kumato, Piquillo, Butter Bean and Coriander Salad

This is the tastiest pie I’ve ever made, try it!

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Makes one large pie, a dish approx. 8″ by 10″ or there abouts.  Enough for four.

The Bits

8 new potatoes (cut into small cubes), 2 large leeks, 1 red onion, 5 mushrooms (most varieties will be fine), 2 sticks celery, 2 handfuls spinach leaves, 10 pitted green olives, 3 large cloves garlic. All finely chopped.

Pie filling, looking good

Pie filling, looking good already

75g fresh dill (1 1/2 teas dried dill), 75g fresh mint (1 1/2 teas dried mint), 2 free range eggs, 150g good Greek feta, 2 tbs thick creamy yoghurt, 1 lemon zest, 1 teas honey, sea salt and plenty of cracked black pepper

1 pack of puff pastry (one roll or however you buy it).   1 tbs oil (for brushing)

Leeks, softening

Welsh Leeks, softening

Do It

Get some colour on your potatoes, in a large frying pan, add 1 tbs of your cooking oil (your choice here!) and fry off your potatoes for 10 minutes, getting some nice golden brown tints. Set aside.

The filling getting together

The filling getting together

In the same pan, add 2 teas more oil and get your onions softened, 3 minutes cooking, then add your leeks, celery, mushrooms, garlic, cook for a further 3 minutes until all is getting soft.

Then add your olives, spinach and cooked potatoes and then all your filling bits.  Stir in and warm through for 10 minutes on a low heat.  Cover and cool, now sort the pastry.

Pre-heat fan oven to 180oC

Roll out your pastry sheet to fit your pie dish, we just used a pastry lid, but you may like to add a base.  We are not huge fans of loads of pastry in a pie, the more filling the better!

Place your warm filling in the dish and spread evenly, then throw on your pie lid (delicately!) and brush the pie dish edges with oil.  Now press down around the edges with gentle force, sealing the pie.  I used my thumb, you may like to use a fork.  Trim off any excess pastry and make three slices in the centre of the pastry to release cooking steam.  Now give the pie a loving brush with some olive oil and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

The pastry should be nicely golden and the pie filling steaming hot.

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Serve

With a steamed green vegetables or a nice green leaf salad with a light, sweet dressing.  The pie has a lovely lemon-ness that will go nicely with a honey/ sweet dressing.  Its a heavy pie, flavour and texture, so keep the accompaniments light.

We Love It!

We  really do you know.  Love It!  Especially this pie, which had us both ‘Mmmmming’ in unison at its sheer deliciousness and flavour combinations.   Not your average pie and all the better for it.

Foodie Fact

Leeks are alliums, basically tall thin onions with a green head of leaves, they are used all over the world and don’t just feature in Welsh pies!  Leeks contain many vital vitamins and allicin that actually reduces cholesterol, they also contain high levels of vitamin A.

 

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Shiitake Mushroom, Sesame & Kelp Noodles

Konichiwa and greetings!  Here we have a lovely Japanese dish to tickle your taste buds; the ingredients are subtle and revitalising, perfect for a light spring lunch, also great chilled as a noodle salad.

We have paid a visit to our brilliant little Asian supermarket in Bangor recently and stocked up on the staples for tasty Japanese and Chinese fare.  Noodles are of course a mainstay here, but the dried kelp is something not so easy to find, but well worth getting hold of.

Dried kelp adds a strong vegetal flavour to soups and stocks and, along with the mirin, really makes this salad tick and fizz with flavour. The jerusalem artichokes add nice crunch and sweetness and are plentiful in our area of Wales at the moment.  Think of them as a water chestnut substitute of Welsh origin.

The rest of the flavours found here are classically Japanese and the sauce is vaguely Teriyaki.  I had a friend as a child, Kenji, and my first most amazing cooking experience (I’ve only remembered this because of this dish, how cool is that!) was at his house with his Mum.  We had to cook in front of our school class, I have no idea why, so I went around Kenji’s house one Sunday and we got straight into the kitchen and whipped up a Teriyaki Noodles as I recall.  I remember it being another world of flavour’s and techniques and like absolutely nothing I’d seen before or tasted before.  The way Kenji’s Mum approached cooking was so different.  I was then a major Japanese food fan, 10 years old, and still am to this day.

The dish would be best garnished with some toasted sesame seeds, but we seem to have ran out!  We finished it with some dried sea salad, but you can hardly see it on the pics, but it’s there and the flavour is wonderfully oceanic and salty.  Sea salad is very similar to seaweed, which would also make a great topping here.   Anything edible, green and living in the sea is bound to be amazing for you and taste like seaside rocks (you know that flavour!).

THE LAND OF MUSHROOMS

In this part of Wales we are blessed with the finest grower of shiitake and other mushroom varities in the UK, The Mushroom Garden.  Being nice and damp and misty, Wales in the perfect place for mushroom cultivation and their shiitake’s and mushrooms in general are some of the finest I’ve tasted.  I have been trying to track down a hedgehog mushroom for a while now, they are elusive little critters!  The Mushroom Garden are also doing an ‘Umami’ seasoning, which sounds interesting and will be sprinkled on things in the BHK very soon.  It’s great to have such wonderful, passionate producers locally.

Here in North Wales, good Japanese food is quite rare, homegrown is best.  This salad turned out very well and I’d hope Kenji’s Mum would be happy with my progress!

 

Sayonara & Peacex

Makes two decent bowls.

The Bits 

15og shiitake mushrooms

6 medium jerusalem artichokes (sliced into 1cm discs)

2 spring onion (finely chopped)

1/2 teas chilli flakes

1 tbs minced ginger

1 cup of dried kelp

150g fine wheat noodles

2 tbs light soya sauce

2 teas rice vinegar

1 tbs sesame oil

2 tbs mirin

1 cup noodle/ kelp cooking broth

1 teas brown sugar (if needed)

2 teas cooking oil

 

Garnish

Sprinkle dried sea salad/ sea weed, chopped fresh coriander, toasted sesame seeds

Do It

In a saucepan, warm 2 teas of oil and fry your shiitake for a few minutes then add your artichokes and ginger, fry for five minutes and add your vinegar first (allow it to evaporate a little) then add chilli, sesame oil, soya sauce and mirin.  Keep your eye on the mushrooms, shiitake will absorb alot of liquid and can go a little soggy.  They will release this liquid after a few minutes more of cooking.

Continue to cook on a high heat and reduce the sauce a little, check seasoning, it may need a little more sugar.  Cover and keep warm.

Have some boiling water ready in another sauce pan, pop in your kelp and cook for 3 minutes, then add your fine noodles and cook for a minute.  That’s all it should take.  Seive the noodles and kelp and keep the stock.  Run under cold water to cool the noodles down.  This salad is best served warm.  Reserve any leftover stock for other soups and stews, even freeze it, the flavour is well worth it.

Add your noodles to your mushroom mix and pop in your spring onions.  Stir gently together, combine well.

Shiitake, Sesame and Kelp Noodles

Shiitake, Sesame and Kelp Noodles

Serve

In warm bowls with chopsticks, extra mirin and soya sauce available.  Make sure everyone gets a decent amount of mushroom and artichoke, they tend to sink to the the bottom.  Sprinkle on your toppings and enjoy.

We Love It!

Full of the flavours of classic Japanese cuisine and is nice and easy to get together and great served hot or cold.  Great quick bite material and something that keeps nicely.

Foodie Fact

Shiitake Mushrooms (or Wood Mushroom  in Japanese) have been used by the Chinese for over 6,000 years medicinally and are burting with health giving properties.  Brilliant for voth the immune and cardiovascular system, the Shiitake is also full of iron.

Although the Shiitake may seem like an iconic Japanese ingredient, China now produces 80% of the worlds Shiitakes.  No great surprises there though.

All this nutrition talk is all well and good, but the best way to feel healthy, is to feel healthy!  Enjoy your cookingx

Categories: Recipes, Vegan, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Nantmor Shiitake Risotto with Four Herbs

The ideal warming dish as the nights are drawing in and theres a winter chill starting in the air.  Autumn is here and that means it’s time for blockbuster risottos.

I love Italian food, but have never been to Italy.  I have been fortunate to have met and cooked with quite a few Italians in the past and can safely say that they are the most pedantic and fussy cooks/ eaters in the world.  Everything is how ‘mama made it’ or its no good at all.  They are critical of the slightest detail and in this way, great to cook for and with.  If you can get an Italian excited about your food, you are doing something very right!

A luxurious risotto for me is a taste of food perfection.  The balance of fresh produce, richness and a hint of wine represents all that is amazing in Italian food (not to mention the large hunk of pungent cheese).  They of course take it seriously, its seriously good food.  Our new chef at work lived and worked in Modena for years and to see him make risotto is to see a true craftsman at work, he gives it such care and dedication.  I hope this recipe reflects this passion.  I’ve gone for only the finest of local produce and a brilliant wine.  All the elements must be selected with equal care, otherwise the risotto will not be a true expression of food heaven.

These Nantmor Shiitakes (Shii – Tree, Take – Mushroom) from the Mushroom Garden are the real highlight in this dish.  They’re my kind of mushroom; pungent, meaty and damn pretty too, adding amazing flavour to anything they touch. They are grown on Welsh Oak in the small village of Nantmor, by a local chap named Cynan.  The Mushroom Garden now supplies many top restaurants around Britain as mushrooms actually thrive in the mist and damp of Wales.  Whenever I find a good mushroom, I always think ‘risotto’, so classic and so good.  Due to the Shiitakes being so precious and a little costly, we added some chestnut mushrooms to add a different texture and ensure that we had loads of lovely mushrooms in the risotto.

The Beach House additions is brown rice.  I know its not technically a risotto, but humour us!  The results are delicious.  Vegan parmesan is out there, Violife make an incredible version. Very much like the real thing, we’d recommend seeking some out.  Especially for risotto!

Nantlle Shiitake

The brown rice is not as starchy as the proper risotto rice, but we are willing to make that sacrifice.  We like the nutty flavour of brown rice. Try and get some really funky organic rice if you can, rough stuff with chaff, good for the belly and you’re guaranteed more flavour.

WELSH WINE!

We bought a wonderful bottle of southern French rose from the local family ran vineyard Pant Du, set in the beautiful Nantlle Valley.  Yes, you heard us right, they are growing wine in these parts. Brave souls indeed. The Pant Du Winery has now opened a small cafe and wine shop, Jane and I visit regularly for tea and to soak in the stunning views and happy family vibes.

The wine on sale are from small pockets of Europe, a really interesting selection. This rose was a deep pink beauty.  This year at Pant Du has unfortunately been a less than prosperous growing season, but they will still make a few bottles of their German varieties.  So a glass of our Costiere de Nimes was sacrificed to the risotto. Really, we should only cook risotto with wine that we would enjoy drinking, it makes a difference to the delicate balance of flavours.

I plundered the herb garden for our herbs; sage, rosemary, oregano and thyme. A brilliant combination, we are so lucky that they thrive in our hedges. Unlike our tomatoes, they seem to like the grey conditions.  The courgette came from the farm and they are abundant and delicious at the moment.  I couldn’t resist a little more greenery in there.

I think we’re ready for the fun bit now, let’s get cooking!

Beauty Herb

The Bits

Olive oil (for frying)

1 big white onion (finely sliced)

4 cloves garlic (crushed)

2 cups of organic brown rice (roughly 1 cup per person)

1 cup Shiitake mushrooms

1 cup other mushrooms (preferably something like a chestnut)

1 smallish courgette (chopped into small cubes)

2 big handfuls of Violife parmesan cheese (finely grated)

1 glass of decent wine

1 tbs of each fresh sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano (chopped)

1.5 ltr good veg stock

Glugs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional, for added richness at the end)

 

Do It

You need to be a bit organised with a risotto, have hot stock ready and all your ingredients to hand, things can happen quickly here and timing is everything.

Boil the kettle and make some nice veg. stock, 1.5 ltr should be enough, if you are super cook, you’ll probably make your own stock from scratch.  Have a good bottle of wine open and preferably a glass poured for yourself, all that stirring is thirsty work.

Pre-soak your shiitake mushrooms for an hour or so prior to cooking and have all your bits chopped and ready.  The key to a good risotto is to never leave its side, keep stirring and giving it love.  You will see the difference in the end.

Getting things organised

Begin by gently frying off your onion in a thick bottomed large saucepan, keep them moving, you want them to go glassy but not browned.  Once they are getting there, add you garlic and in this case, your courgette and mushrooms (try not to break them up).

Cook for a couple of minutes on a medium heat, stirring all the time, then add your rice.  Keep stirring and giving the rice a thorough coating of oil.  The pan should be nice and hot, add your glass of vino, which should immediately sizzle and evaporate, being absorbed nicely by the hot rice and meaty mushrooms.

Sweet simmering

Now for some serious, steady stirring action.  With a good wooden spoon or a spatula, keep going at it, adding your hot stock one ladleful at a time (we put the mushroom soak juices into the stock), this will loosen any starch from the rice and create a lovely smooth texture.  Once the stock has evaporated and the rice is hissing slightly, its time for another ladleful.

The rice should take around 15-20 minutes to cook, you want it ‘al dente’.  Just before the rice is cooked (try some between your teeth, it should not be chalky, but still firm in the middle) take it off the heat and stir in your cheese and if you like, glug of nice olive oil and season with sea salt and fresh pepper.  This is where the real richness kicks in.  Put a lid on and leave for 5 minutes to come together.

Stirring in the Shiitakes

Add a little more stock to thin it out if needed.  Risotto must be served and eaten almost immediately.  It’s perfect, when its perfect, not afterwards.  Your risotto should be liquid, but not liquid enough so that it seeps out around the edges, all should be perfectly combined and blended together, with the rice cooked but not stuck together.  Its a fine art!  But one well worth mastering.

Serve

Pronto!  Hot flat bowls are best.  We topped ours with some runner beans from garden, a little more herb.

We Love It!

Risottos are one of my most satisfying dishes.  I love cooking them and eating them equally.  They are normally eaten in Italy as a first dish but I cannot imagine that, I like it centre stage.  Cooking rice is something that the Italians have perfected.  Grazie Mille!x

Foodie Fact

Shiitakes are re-knowned for their health giving properties, in Japan especially, they believe the Shiitake to help fight cancer.  These mushrooms also boast many medicinal and immune system boosting qualities.

Categories: Autumn, Recipes, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Warm Green Salad with Rapeseed Oil Dressing

Warm and Green Summer Salad

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rapeseed Flower

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

The Bits

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

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

Do It

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

Warm Green Salad with Rapeseed Oil Dressing

Serve

Warm, with smiles and summer joy.

We Love It!

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

Foodie Fact 

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

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

Beetroot & Sprouts Salad with Strawberry Dressing

Hello Beauty Strawbs….we are going to eat you…..

This is a vibrant looking thing.  Beetroots, Radish and Strawberry coming together for a colour-fest!

The beetroots we are getting at the moment are amazing, we are buying them from the farm by the bunch; quite small roots, but huge leaves. They are proving excellent value as the leaves are lasting for a few days salad-wise.  The leaves are actually more nutritious than the roots.  Its great to be able to eat the whole thing, no waste at all.

Beetroot, as we all know, is a vivid customer. Mainly due to the lasting impression it makes on your hands and nails when handling it. My advice, rubber gloves. I have no problems donning the marigolds in the kitchen, you do lose the ‘feel’ of cooking, but you gain a fantastic stain proof layer!

We are also getting a good supply of strawberries with actual flavour, always a challenge at this time of year.  It seems that most people just want to cash in on this highly prized crop and do naughty things to grow them. Whatever they are up to, it completely saps their flavour.   Anyway, our strawbs are ace!

I liked the sound of strawberry and beetroot, I liked the way it looked in my mind and it soon ended up in a bowl.   I’ve used beetroot for desserts in the past (stuck some in a chocolate cake to great effect) and thought I’d give the strawberries a similar reverse treatment.  They make for a really tart dressing and something I would highly recommend with any sweet-ish salad base.

Food processors are a choppers best friend.  They do the hard work, while you stand there holding the button, wondering how much longer you can handle such a mental noise!  Ours rattles like a badly oil cement mixer on overdrive.  We used the contraption for the beetroots here and for the radish, it saved valuable minutes of our precious lives.

Radishes are funny little things, my Grandad loved to grow them in his allotment, but never seemed to know how to eat them.  I think this was a general trend.  This salad does them justice and I’m sure Bobby would have been proud, if a little confused by the pink dressing.  I love a radish for its crunch and it just so happens that the colour goes very well with beetroot.

This is quite a sweet salad and very pretty, but we had to give it a dose of sprouts.  They are so tasty and chock-ful of good things.  Ideally served with some cashew cream cheese.

Beetroot and Radish Salad with Strawberry Dressing

The Bits

Salad

3 whole beetroots (leaves and all)

Around 8 radishes (thinly sliced)

1 big handful of sprouting green lentils (or a sprout of your choice)

2 handfuls of spinach

 

Dressing (makes 1 small tub full)

2 handfuls of strawberries (washed and stemmed)

1/3 cup great olive oil

Sprinkle of good sea salt

Good few turns of cracked black pepper

2 tbs white wine vinegar

1 tbs purified water

1 teas of sweetener i.e. agave syrup (if needed).

 

Do It

Make your dressing, add all bits to a food processor and blitz for a minute.  Taste and add sweetener if your strawberries are a little tart.  Set aside, will keep nicely overnight, so you can make in advance if your that organised.

Take your beetroots of the stems and scrub them well.  Cut off an unsightlies.  Take the stems and cut into cubes, then cut up a few leaves, finely shred, to be used as a base.  Mix with the spinach and place in a nice big salad bowl.  Place a few of the whole beetroot leaves over the edge of the bowl, covering the whole circumference to make a nice looking bowl.

Add the slicing blade to your FP and slice your radishes, then take your shredding tool-thing and shred all of your beetroots.  Put them in a bowl and mix in a few tbs of the dressing, until well coated.  Then take that mixture and place it in the salad bowl.  Finish with a good sprinkling of sprouts (not essential).

Serve

Non rawers, sprinkle a roasted pumpkin seeds, rawers (you brave and wonderful few!) tuck in from your favourite bowl and let the flavours dance in your mouth!

Beetroot and Radish Salad with Strawberry Dressing

We Love It!

This turned out a treat, a little unusual, and we’ll be making strawberry dressing again.

Foodie Fact

Radish is one of the most nutritious root vegetables.  Apparently you can get a black Spanish radish, but I’ve never encountered such a thing.  You can also buy watermelon radishes that have a sweet flavour and look like watermelons when you cut into them.  What amazing things you learn writing a blog!

The Chinese have a saying:

“Eating pungent radish and drinking hot tea, let the starved doctors beg on their knees”.  Poor doctors.

As with most veggies, they are packed full of only good things for the body.  They are a very good source of anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber.  High in vitamin C especially.

Categories: Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Vegan, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Purple Sprouting Broccoli & Broad Bean Salad with Hazelnut Pesto

Local veggies

We live on Bryn Teg which translates to English as ‘Fair Hill’.  I call it tiger mountain because of the stripes, but it doesn’t seem to be catching on in these parts.

So Fair Hill it is and this salad reflects what is growing near our little home.  Things are beginning to come into season and our local farm shop’s shelves are beginning to fill (thankfully).  We bought what they had and this delicious salad was born.  The combination of flavours worked surprisingly well with the pesto and it was even better the day later after having a good marinate in the fridge.

Broad beans (Fava beans) are special in any salad, they add a unique, nutty texture.  Texture is one of the key ingredients to a brilliant salad and ingredients should be selected accordingly.  Limp leaves are not the way forward!  Fresh and crunchy is the key, something that is exciting to in the mouth and on the taste buds.

We have been discovering the art of salad making this raw month.  Ingredients and dressings take on a completely different flavour when combined and subtle changes in flavouring can make all the difference.

Making a vegan pesto is tricky, without the pungent cheese, you just cannot recreate that unmistakable flavour.  I think this is a decent attempt, matured cheese is something that vegans just have to give up on.  You can buy those yeast cheese flake things.

You do end up using quite a bit of herb in the pesto, but it is well worth it.

The Bits

Salad

1 cup shelled broad beans

3 handfuls chopped sprouting purple brocolli (leaves as well)

1 sweet potato (peeled and grated)

1 courgette (1/2 grated, 1/2 cubed)

 

Hazelnut Pesto

4 cups basil leaves, loosely packed

1 cup fresh parsley

1 – 2 tsp sweetener of your choice

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 tsp fresh ground pepper

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup hazelnuts (soaked overnight, drained and rinsed)

1 – 2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

3 tbs nutritional yeast flakes (optional)

 

Do It

Salad – Separate your broccoli florets from the stems and leaves, chop up.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Pesto – Chop the basil and parsley until reduced to 1 cup basil and 1/4 cup parsley, blend all ingredients except hazelnuts until smooth.  Add hazelnuts gradually and continue blending, adding more olive oil as needed for desired consistency.  Check seasoning.

Thin down the pesto a little, a thick dressing and mix into the salad.

Serve

Dress with a few of the broccoli leaves and a few more spoonfuls of the thick pesto.  Maybe a few leaves of parsley or basil if you are feeling extravagant!

Raw pesto salad

We Love It!

The glory of pesto!  Mix it in yoghurt for a tasty side dish, thin with oil for a dressing, mix with hummus to make the finest hummus ever!  It really is one of the finest things you can have lurking around the fridge.

Foodie Fact

Sometimes referred to as the horse bean (!), broad beans like all legumes are a high in protein and low in fat.  A really meaty legume!  They are packed with vitamins, fibre and have a high iron content.

Categories: Dinner, Dressings, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Local food, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Vegan, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Raw Asian Buckwheat Stew

Sprouting Buckwheat

This is not exactly Asian, not your average back street Shanghai fare; we lack some ingredients but do our best in the hills of Wales!  This recipe boasts all the flavours you would expect from a classic Asian dish, with the raw touch of sprouting buckwheat and the richness of cashews.  It really is a revelation that this food tastes so good cold and is so satisfying.  Who knew?

We live quite remote, the nearest decent shop being 30 mins drive.  For a cramped island like ours, 30 mins is quite a distance.  If you can believe it, there are no fresh fruit and veg markets in the entire area.  It is strange, we are quite unique.  We therefore use what we have locally, there is a shed over the hill that sells the occasional organic vegetable, at this time of year, local produce for sale is quite sparse.  Hence we make do and blend!

We have been missing our Thai curries, stir fries etc, so this was my attempt at adding a new set of flavours to this Beach House raw June.  I like adding cucumber to dishes, it freshens and lifts things.

These recipes are known as ‘living food’ due to the sprouting going on.  Anything sprouting is full of life and nutrients and is serious super fuel for your body (and mind/well-being…..).

Sprouting buckwheat has a lovely bite to it and reminds me of a fuller quinoa in flavour.  It tastes and looks like a grain, but is gluten and wheat free.  It can also be blended up into a lovely porridge (more of this to come).  Buckwheat sprouts well and only takes a couple of days.   The technique is simple enough, soak for 24 hours in fresh water, drain and wash, leave for 24 hours, drain and wash etc.  Until sprouts begin to appear.  It  is then ready to eat.

This stew has a lovely rich feel and is very satisfying, which you need on the grey island (Britain) were it is currently summer/winter in just one day.  The storms may rage outside, yet we are warm inside and dreaming of the East….

The Bits

Veg – 1 large tomato, 1 small onion, 1/3 cucumber, 1 carrot, 1/2 red chilli (check for heat)

Sauce – 2 cloves garlic, 2 inch cube of ginger, juice of 1 lime (finely chopped zest if you like a real tang), 2 teas honey, 3 tsp sesame oil, 2 tbs tamari (or light soya sauce)

Stew – 2 cups sprouting buckwheat, 1/2 cup whole cashews,

Topping – 1 1/2 cups chopped green beans, 2 teas sesame seeds, handful of broken cashews

Mid blitz aka carnage

Do It

Add all veg and sauce bits to the blender blend to a fine salsa like mix, taste check for balance of flavours, then add your stew bits and pulse a few times to break up the buckwheat and cashews slightly.  Not too much, you need a little bite there.  Chop up your greenbeans and scatter on top in any fashion that takes your fancy (we normally mix half into the stew).

Serve

Finish with a few sprinkles of sesame seeds (we were out of stock here) and some broken cashews.

Raw Asian Buckwheat Stew

We Love It!

This beats a sloppy Chinese takeaway any day of the week!  Bursting with vitality and nutrients, this is one of our favourite raw recipes thus far.

Foodie Fact

Buckwheat is one of the most complete grains globally and contains all eight essential amino acids (meaning you can basically live on it!).  It is great for diabetics as an alternative to sugary wheat and also alkalizes the blood.  Buckwheat even boosts the brain, it contains high levels of lecthin and 28% of the brain is made of lecthin which also purifies the blood and actually soaks up bad cholesterol.  Wonder food!

Categories: Detox, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, Nutrition, Raw Food, Recipes, Superfoods, Vegan, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sunflower and Beetroot Pate (Raw)

Raw Sunflower and Beetroot Pate

A pinky purple veggie/ raw pate that will get your taste buds zinging and brighten up any happy plate.

The wind is howling outside, probably smashing our poor little runner beans and sunflowers.  I can’t bring myself to go out and check them.  Its the worst possible weather for our newly planted veggies and flowers.  We are hoping they’ll tough it out.  We need cheering up with some vibrant food and colours. Thankfully we got out hands on some delicious organic beetroots and already had a batch of sunflower seeds sprouting, so the combination seemed logical (and tasty).

We are eating alot of salad, as you would imagine being raw this month (rabbit food we are regularly told.  Lucky rabbits!) but like to have something a little different on the side.  Another texture to compliment the crunch of the salad, this pate is perfect for that.

It has a light texture, but is full of flavour and I imagine would be great spread on toast (like the other livery stuff).  We have added hazelnuts to the recipe in the past, which gives it a fuller texture and richness.

We use Blodyn Aur rapeseed oil here because it is delicious and from Wales.  It has a lovely nutty and buttery flavour that is totally unique.  It also contains 11 times the amount of omega oils compared to olive oil.  If you are in the U.K., keep your eyes peeled for it.  It’s a star.  You could however use a good quality olive oil or flax seed oil.

We seem to be using alot of jars with this new diet change.  Having been saving them for so long, I’m glad to get some use out of them.  They are ideal for shaking up and storing dressings and this pate will keep for a couple of days refrigerated in a jar.  They also happen to look much cooler than a clunky tupperware!  That rustic look that is very fashionable in our hamlet.

The Bits
Makes one large jar
3 small beetroots, 2 carrots, 1 stick of celery, 2 handfuls of spinach, 1 courgette, handful of parsley, 1 small red onion, 1 cup sprouted sunflower seeds, 2 tbsp rapeseed oil (olive oil is fine), 1 big handful of black olives (de-stoned), juice and zest (finely chopped) of 1 lemon, 2 tbsp tamari, 2 tsp cumin, 1 red chilli, 3 cloves garlic.

Raw Sunflower and Beetroot in the mix

Do It

Add all ingredients to a blender and blitz until a smooth paste is formed.  You may need to stop and scrape down the sides a few times, to ensure that all is blended nicely.

Serve

Finish with another glug of oil and some chopped parsley and sunflower seeds.  Great as a side dish, or as a dip.  You may also like to spread it thickly on things that you like.

We Love It!

It packs so many nutrients and flavours into one little paste.

Foodie Fact

Sunflower seeds are a great source of nutrition, a really concentrated food.  It is an excellent source of vitamin E, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant.

Sprouted sunflower seeds are full of iron and chlorophyll which helps to detoxify the liver and blood.  They also contain the wonderfully named, phytosterols, which act like a superhero all over the body, battling all sorts of nasties.

PS – Here’s a gratuitous shot of our morning bowl of happiness bathed in a few rare and cherished rays of sunshine:

Today’s fruity cereal

Categories: Raw Food, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegan, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Worlds Smallest Potato

Found in a bag of Hooton’s new potatoes.

This may be a record!

The Worlds Smallest Potato

How best to cook this?

Categories: photography, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beach House Egg Benedict with Asparagus

Morning bluebell

This is our version of the famous Waldorf Hotel breakfast dish.  It was originally created by a man named Benedict (surprisingly!) who wanted something to cure his hangover.  I have almost completely changed the dish, made it a healthier delight, and served it for supper.

That seems to be the BHK style, take a classic and meddle with it until it is almost unrecognisable!

Asparagus is a very beautiful thing, so fleeting, which makes you appreciate it more. I have recently looked into growing them and it really is a labour of love. They are quite tricky and only give you good spears after a few years. Hootons Homegrown have been selling some delicious packs of asparagus, so we’ve been using it in many recipes. Simply pan-fried is my favourite and topped with a local egg makes it something rather special.

This is a gorgeous light dinner or lunch and quick to prepare. The layered effect and combination of creamy dressing, runny egg and crispy vegetables give it a ‘complete’ restaurant dish feel. We added a little toasted oat bread for some ‘packing’. We’ve been in the garden for most of the day, doing loads of seeding and planting; transplanting and spreading of horse manure. We needed a good feed.

We loved to use the last of our wild garlic here, picked from the roadsides of Anglesey. The extent of our foraging consisted of opening the car door and leaning out. Not exactly Ray Mears, but just as satisfying. Who doesn’t appreciate a little free food?

Broccoli Florets

The Bits
Glug of olive oil, half a handful of pumpkin seeds, 1 big handful chopped wild garlic, 1 big handful chopped mint, half a large head of broccoli, 5 handfuls of spinach leaves, 1 large handful cherry tomatoes, splash of water.
Bunch of whole asparagus spears (take of the tough tails, normally one inch from base)
Mixed salad leaves
2 free range, organic eggs (with vivid yolks)
For the Dressing
(these measurements are slightly larger than a teaspoon)
1 teas honey, 1 teas dijon mustard, 4 teas olive oil, 1 teas white wine vinegar, salt + pepper (s+p), 4 teas creamy natural yoghurt.

Do It
Make dressing, add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix together thoroughly. Taste and adjust to how you like it (sweeter, saltier, not quite mustardy enough, more bite, smoother etc).
In a large saucepan, on a medium heat warm the olive oil then add your pumpkin seeds, roast for a few minutes until slightly golden, then add the cherry tomatoes and scorch a little, then add the wild garlic then broccoli.  Add a splash of water (roughly 2 tbs). Season with s+p. Cook for a couple of minutes then add spinach and mint.  Put to the side with the lid on, keeping warm.  This will steam the broccoli.
In a separate small saucepan, bring some salted water to the boil with a splash of white wine vinegar and poach your eggs (crack them into a tea cup and pour low and gentle into boiling water for a neater shape).
As that is happening, heat a glug of olive oil in a small frying pan and flash fry the asparagus spears for three minutes. Do not overcook, they should be nice and crunchy. You may add a splash of truffle oil here, if you are feeding people you love very dearly. It’s a decadent touch.
Give your salad leaves a quick wash and drain.

Beach House Benedict

Serve
Place a flat pile of green salad on your serving plate, add the broccoli and wild garlic fricassee (posh word for something fried), then spoon over the dressing, top with a neat pile of asparagus spears and place the egg on top and season with a little s+p. We had it with a piece of toasted oat bread.

We Love It!
Jane loved it so much she actually licked the plate clean! It wasn’t pretty!

Foodie Fact

Asparagus has been enjoyed by folk for thousands of years and has also been used for its medicinal properties.

Asaparagus is brilliant for digestion and helps to regulate our blood sugar levels.  It also contains very high levels of Vitamin K.

Categories: Dinner, Dressings, Garden, Healthy Eating, Local food, Lunch, Organic, Recipes, Welsh produce, Wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Homemade Ricotta with Wild Garlic and Mint

Wild garlic and mint

I realise that I write regularly about making my own cheese.  It is something that I am quite fascinated by.  I have tried yoghurt and using live cultures etc, but it is difficult, especially due to the fluctuating temperature of our cottage (we only have a wood burning stove for heat) and the temperamental weather (British weather is utterly mental).  Live cultures etc don’t seem to like this, they are sensitive sorts.

Making ricotta requires non of this effort.  It is a fail safe method of making your own gorgeous cheese.  Not complex or pungent, but super smooth and creamy.  Every time.

This is a simple technique.  I would advise you seek out good quality, organic milk for best results.  Once you try it, you will not want to go back to the shop bought variety.  This is a real homemade treat that takes no time at all and actually saves you money.

I have mixed a few fresh herbs in here.  We had just picked some wild garlic, we took a wrong turn on Anglesey and ended up driving through a field of the stuff! The mint is beautiful looking, grown by the good people at Hooton’s Homegrown.  I walked into the kitchen this morning and was greeted by the wonderful aroma of these two and could not resist combining them with the cheese.

Ricotta means ‘recooked’ in Italian and is a so versatile.  It goes well in savoury and sweet dishes.  I love it with some warm oat bread and honey and it makes a delicious base for pasta sauces, we have also used it with dark chocolate for dessert (see here).   This ricotta recipe is excellent as it can be stirred directly into warm pasta.  It is basically a great thing to have in the fridge.

I am sure that this is one of those cooking techniques that you will use again and again. You can even make paneer, just use the same method but use a semi skimmed milk (the ricotta uses whole milk).  See a recipe here on the brilliant Kolpona cuisine blog.

There is no waste here.  After the curds have formed, drink the whey.  This is packed full of good protein.  It’s the same stuff those muscle bound freaks buy for inflated prices (and biceps!).  The whey can also be used in cooking, its great in stews, soups and even breads.

Cheesecloth had always eluded me.  I had heard of this mythical fabric but never owned any.  I have resorted to all sorts of strange methods to compensate for it.  I mentioned this to Jane and in her ever thoughtful fashion, she bought some in a little shop somewhere in Yorkshire.  I am now the proud owner of a metre square.  Thank you honey!

The Bits

1 litre of good whole fat milk (makes enough for a decent sized ball), juice of 1 lemon or 2 tbs cider vinegar (or any distilled vinegar), 1 teas sea salt, 1 handful of wild garlic, 1 handful of fresh mint, 1 piece of muslin/ cheese cloth.

Homemade ricotta with wild garlic and mint

Do It

Heat the milk in a pan gently until it is steaming and small bubbles are forming around the edges, do not boil.  Add the lemon juice of vinegar, then stir a couple of times to mix.  Take off the heat and leave for 5 minutes, allowing the curds to form.  Line a medium sieve with your cheese cloth and place over a bowl.  Gently pour the milk/ cheese through the sieve and allow to drain.

Making the cheese

The longer you leave it to drain, the drier the cheese.  Think about what you would like to us it for.   I recommend leaving it for around 10 minutes.  Cool and cover, place in the fridge, it be good for around a week.

When the cheese is fully dried, chop your herbs finely and mix in with the cheese.  If it is proving to be too dry, mix in a little olive oil to get things lubricated.  Taste the cheese, add more salt if you like.

Using vinegar will give a cleaner flavour, lemon will make it slightly lemony.  Again, it depends on how you would like to use the cheese.

Serve

We had ours mixed into roasted root veggies, with our Sprouting Spring Salad.

Roasted root vegetable

Foodie Fact

You can use goats milk for the ricotta, it will be more tangy.  In Italy they use alot of sheeps milk, which is very smooth and creamy and of course the famous buffalo milk, which is equally as good.  It is fun to experiment with different milks.  I have to say, I like the ricotta we get from local Welsh milk.

Calon Wen Milk

Pickled Part

You can’t beat a crisp dry white wine with a fresh cheese like ricotta, something to cut through that awesome creaminess and get your palate sparkling.  We had a lovely Chilean Sauvignon Blanc which worked a treat.

Categories: Local food, Organic, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Wales, Welsh produce, Wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

Joyce and Keith and some dodgy looking waiter.

This was a staple in my family when I was a young ‘un, the mince and spud variety anyway. I was inspired by many a food blogger to have a play with this classic dish, I have forgotten where exactly, but I hope you know who you are!

I can eat alot of mash, it’s so more-ish, so I have included sweet potato to mix with the normal spuds.  This makes for a slightly healthier mash and has vibrant colours with the rich, smooth texture of the sweet orange ones.

I’ve named this a shepherds pie, but it only resembles it in the technique of cooking.  The colours and flavours are more vibrant in the veggie variety (I think!).

The occasion was a gardening visit by Jane’s Mum and Dad, Joyce and Keith.  We had a full day of house sorting, managing to fix the fire and the strimmer and much more.  We needed some rich and hearty grub and this hit the spot.  I know that Jane’s Mum and Dad have slightly sweeter tooth, which meant the sweet pots and sweetcorn in this recipe were ideal.  I would normally tone down the cheese, it is great without dairy, but I find a good lump of cheese sates those who normally have meat as a rule.

I would always used fresh tomatoes if available, but a good tin of organic toms will suit this dish fine.  They are normally sweeter and give a nice red colour to the sauce.  Just replace the toms here with one tin.

Most of these ingredients came from our local farm shop Hooton’s Homegrown.  Until our garden starts producing some vegetables, we are lucky to have them so close.  There carrots are amazing and really made this dish.

Save all stock here and cooking juice for soup making and the stew, you can mix them together to make a great base stock for later.  Vegans, you know the drill, replace the butter and cheese with something like olive oil etc, maybe some tofu cream would be nice as a topping.

The Bits

2 sweet potatoes, 3 white potatoes (scrubbed and cut into chunks, gauge quantity of pots by the number of mouths to feed), 2 cups of dried butter beans, 3 cloves garlic (chopped), zest of 1 lemon (finely chopped), 1 teas paprika, 1 big onion (chopped), 4 fat carrots (scrubbed and roughly chopped), 150g (several large handfuls) spinach, 1 can sweetcorn (fresh if you can), several good knobs of butter, glug of cooking oil (you choose which), 3 handfuls of cherry tomatoes and 250g tomato passata (one good tin toms is acceptable), 4 teaspoons of fresh thyme (or dried mixed herb), 3 nice knobs of butter,  3 decent handfuls of mature cheddar cheese, 2 cups of good veg stock, 2 bay leaves.

The sauce in motion.

Do It

Soak butter beans overnight, covered with 1 inch of water.  Bring to boil, skim of the white scum and simmer gently with lid on for 45 minutes, or until tender to the bite.  Drain and set aside (keeping cooking water).

Get your chopped potatoes in a pan with some cold, slightly salted water and bring to the boil.  Lower heat to a gentle boil and cook for 20 mins, or until tender.  Drain (saving stock) and put back into warm pan, season and mix in a handful of the cheddar cheese and a knob of butter.  Mash it up in the pan (saves on washing up) until creamy and smooth.  Set aside.

Whilst all that is going on, you probably have time to start the stew base of the pie.  Fry off the onions until soft on medium heat with a knob of butter and a glug of oil, then add the garlic and carrots,  thyme/mixed herbs and bay leaves, stir well and cook for 5 minutes.  Add paprika, lemon zest, corn and beans, stir in for a few minutes, then add the toms and passata, bring to the boil and add the stock.  Stir in and leave on a steady simmer for 30 mins, until cooked down and approaching stickiness.  I like to stir in a tablespoon of the mash to make the sauce nice and thick.  Don’t overcook the carrots, remember they’ll be cooked further in the oven.

Pre-heat an oven to 200oC.

In a large baking dish, pour out your sauce into the base, sprinkle over a good thick covering of spinach leaves to form a thick layer (remember it’s a serious wilter) then scoop the mash into the centre and using a spatula or big spoon, gently smooth out to the corners, making sure that it meets all edges.  Sprinkle on top as much cheddar as you deem necessary and a dusting of mixed herbs/ thyme.

Place on a tray and into the oven on a middle shelf.  Cook until a gentle bubbling appears at the edges and cheese is golden brown, should take around 20-30 minutes.

Our Veggie Shepherd’s Pie (Fortunately, our cooking is better than our photography!)

Serve

Place in the middle of your table and spoon out carefully onto plates (unlike we did!  See photo).  Great served with a crunchy salad, we made a simple salad of sprouting mung beans (we just has a bumper crop, see more of our sprouting antics here) with a lemon vinegar dressing.

Our sprouts

We Love It!

This is a real cheesy filler.  We love the contrast of vibrant colours, the layers of red sauce, green spinach and orange mash.

Foodie Fact

Sprouts are the freshest vegetable available, we eat them as they are sprouting!           Find our more on this great healthy eating website.

Categories: Organic, Recipes, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

May’s Coffee Challenge – Welsh Coffee

We love Wales and feel that the local produce and suppliers just don’t get  the credit they deserve.  There are some amazing producers, doing amazing things with amazing ingredients!  In a way, we are lucky, because many of these Welsh gourmet types are not well-known.  We have them all to ourselves!  One such producer are the good people at Welsh Coffee.

Welsh Coffee

Welsh Coffee are a company from South Wales, producing fair trade coffee in small batches.  They pride themselves on intense coffee that is ‘roaster’ fresh and superior quality.

This month I am dedicating myself to transforming my dining area into a bijou cafe, serving the finest roasts and if I am lucky, a warm piece of Carrot and Bean Cake (see following post).  This is going well, a little Parisian music in the background, some attractive flowers, a nicely cushioned chair, there is just one thing missing, other people.  The atmosphere is a little subdued.

So ‘Builder Steve’ came over yesterday to look at our gable end (we are having damp issues) and I invited him to join me in the newly opened Beach House Cafe (not dissimilar to our dining area with a few bags of coffee scattered around the place) .  He’s a good coffee drinker and likes it black, which to me, is always a good sign.

‘Builder Steve’ is a local legend and one of the most philanthropic folk you are likely to meet.  I decided to crack open some special beans that I’ve been saving for just this kind of moment, our Welsh Coffee Aur (Gold), dragon roasted in Wales from 100% Arabica beans.  I had a feeling this was going to be one hell of a brew…..

Nicaraguan and Panamanian Beans

I ground the beans up, they were dark and shimmering and formed a lovely almost black powder.  The smell of fresh coffee filled the hours for hours after.   The beans for the Aur (Gold in Welsh) coffee are sourced from farmers in Nicaragua and Panama, two countries that we love.

I left it to brew for 5 minutes in our trusty orange cafetiere, the smell was intoxicating.  This dragon coffee is powerful stuff!  It produced a coffee with a deep colour and incredible aroma.  It is medium bodied with a balanced and smooth aftertaste.  This is the kind of coffee that can be enjoyed at any time, anywhere, anyhow!

(A short Welsh language lesson.  Coffee is Coffi in Welsh.  Which is one of the only words I can easily remember.  My Welsh speaking in developing slowly.  I also know the word for Taxi, which is Tacsi.  Poor show really.  I hope to get to some classes soon.  The first Welsh I actually learnt was via a band named  ‘Ffa Coffi Pawb’ (translated ‘Everthing’s Coffee Bean’), this was Gruff Rhys, lead singer with the Super Furry Animals, second band.)

‘Builder Steve’ and I chatted for a while, we talked of wrestling sheep, nuclear war heads being stored in the next village and the sin of damp rendering.  It was almost like a normal cafe experience.  Steve agreed that it was a ‘seriously good’ cup of coffee and a definite step up from the Nescafe he normally drinks on site.  I took this as a glowing reference for these lovely Welsh roasted beans.

Welsh Coffee – Aur (Gold)

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Local food, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Beach House Kitchen voted for a ‘Kreativ Blogger Award’

This is a beautiful thing, fellow bloggers VegHotPot and Lucy’s Friendly Foods have nominated us for a Kreativ Blogger Award.

We are understandably chuffed to receive such a kind nomination from two top bloggers.  I love their blogs, so it’s extra special that they like what is going on in the Beach House Kitchen.

The Kreativ Blogger Award is designed to get good bloggers together and spreading the word about each other.  I think it’s a top idea.

Here are the rules:

  • Thank the nominating blogger and provide a link to that blog.
  • Spread the love by nominating seven other bloggers, including their links here.
  • Tell your readers seven things they may not already know about you.
Here goes……………

Seven Blogs we like (alot and in no particular order):

We have only chosen food blogs (for obvious reasons) and only ones that are relatively new.  There are some amazing, established food blogs, but they seem to be doing just fine…..

I think some of these blogs may have been nominated before, but you can never get too many nominations for being Kreativ (can you?!)

1)  Byzantine Flowers  –  Brilliant for all-rounder for all things wholesome and organic.  Interesting articles all the way here, one of the sites I visit regularly.

2)  Vegetarian Ventures  –  The photos here are nearly as beautiful as the veggie recipes.  Lovely looking blog and well written articles.

3)  Moel Faban Supper Club – Denise’s blog is always an interesting read, a real foodie’s blog.  Our local Welsh supper club and a champion of local and seasonal produce.

4)  Tofu and Flowers –  Abigail gives us a real flavour of Thailand here.  Great stories and pics.

5)  Peas and Love –  Gwen’s blog ever fails with gorgeous looking veggie and vegan bites.  You will also find things ‘freegan’ bits here.

6)  AlmostRawVegan  – Great inspiration here for our coming Raw food month in June.  A lovely looking site with brilliant smoothie recipes.

7) Emmycooks –  I just love the way Emmy cooks!

Seven interesting things about Jane and I (again in no particular order):

1)  We met on a small island beach in the Philippines, I was accidentally evicting Jane from her room at the time.  Jane was suffering from horrific facial sun burning (known as panda bear eyes).

2)  Our first meal together was a tiny plate of cold veg fried rice, cooked by a disgruntled Belgian fella wearing tight trunks with Kraftwerk blaring from a stereo.

3)  Jane was initially attracted to me because I had several pots of yoghurt stashed  in my rucksack (a very impressive feat in Asia)…..

4)  ….I used these yoghurts to woo Jane at breakfast, atop coconut and mango porridge, cooked in a bamboo hut.  The rest is culinary history………..

5)  I flew all the way from Mumbai to be with Jane in the Beach House and set up the Beach House Kitchen (giving up a lucrative career in dodgy English teaching in Hanoi!!!).

6)  Jane is addicted to potatoes Lee is partial to a bean.  You will always find hummus in our fridge and oatcakes in our pockets.  Jane also likes hunks (of mouldy cheese).

7)  The population of Carmel, our village, is around 90 and has approximately three sheep to one person.  These sheep terrorize us with their munching and are an enemy to all raspberry patches.

Thanks to Becky and Lisa for the nominations and happy blogging to one and all.

Lee and JaneX

Categories: Blogs, Healthy Eating, Organic, Raw Food, Vegan, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Red Onion & Beetroot Tatin, Green Lentil Stew, Orange & Mint Dressing

My Dad is visiting, he likes his food meaty, hearty and tasty. This dish seemed to fit the bill (even though it had no pork chops in it!)

We had a thorough beer tasting before dinner, sampling the full range on offer. This got my inspiration well oiled for cooking dinner. Like almost all of the BHK food, this required little thought, preparation and execution.

The tatin works a treat with the sweetness of carrot, onion and beetroot being lifted by the touch of balsamic and orange. You can do the tatins individually, but one large one is easier and much more impressive when you flip it out (queue a few ‘ooohhhhhhsss!)
The green lentil stew would be better with puy lentils, but they were expensive. Your humble green lentils still have a nice bite with some earthy flavour. The stew is rich with addition of coriander.

The orange and mint dressing is an added dimension of flavour that balances the sweetness of the tatin.

I’m not a huge pastry fan at the minute, but this was a real treat. Dad happy munched away, without mentioning sausages of chops for at least half an hour. A major breakthrough!

We are so lucky that all of these veggies come from Hootons, the organic farm down the road.

The Bits

Tatin
Puff Pastry (we bought ours, make your own if you prefer, enough to adequately cover your dish, needs to be snug)

1 chopped carrot

1 red onion

2 beetroots (veg should fit snuggly in your dish after cooking, so add around a 1/4 more initially and allow for shrinkage)

Small glug of balsamic vinegar

Glug of cooking oil (we use sunflower)

1 knob vegan butter/ margarine

2 teas of fresh thyme

Zest of 1/2 orange

Juice of half an orange

2 teas light brown sugar.

 

Lentil Stew
3 cups of green/ puy lentils

1 finely chopped onion

2 garlic cloves

Big handful of chopped cherry tomatoes

1 carrot

Zest and juice of half a lemon

Handful chopped coriander

1 bay leaf

1 glug olive oil

1 teas thyme

1 teas chilli flakes,

Good veg stock.

 

Dressing
Zest and juice of half a orange

1/2 cup of good olive oil

Handful of finely chopped mint

1/2 teas dijon mustard

Touch of sweetener (to just slightly sweeten)

Alittle lemon juice (if your orange is super sweet, needs a little sourness in the dressing)

Salt + Pepper

 

Do It

Preheat an oven, 200oC.

Lentils

Cover the lentils with water and bring to a simmer in veg stock, add bay leaf, herbs (not coriander), veggies (except toms), chilli (monitor chilli level depending on who’s eating!).

Cook for half and hour, or until tender.  5 minutes before serving, add toms and olive oil, stir well and just before serving stir in the lemon and coriander.

Tart

Roughly roll out and measure you pastry, should be slightly larger than the dish you are using, prick well with a fork, keep in fridge until needed. We used a heavy bottomed oval casserole dish.

Tatin Pre-bake

Heat dish in the oven for a few minutes, then take out and add your oil, veggies, sugar, vinegar, thyme and season.  Mix well and bake in the oven for half an hour or until caramelised.  Then take out dish, squeeze on orange juice and a splash more oil.  Stir the veggies around to loosen and coat with the oil, make sure the veggies are packed in nice and tight (and flat), then carefully lay on your pastry case (brush top side with some olive oil), tuck in at edges, should fit nice and snug.  Put back in oven for 20-25 mins, or until pastry is nicely golden brown…..

Prepare dressing.  Add all ingredients to a bowl (small blender would be good for this) and mix vigorously together.  Check for seasoning and make sure its nicely citrus, to balance the sweetness of the tart.  Perfect when drizzled on all over the tart.

This is a good time to throw a green salad together.

P1150134

The Voila! Moment

Take tatin out of oven and grab a serving plate that fits over the dish, place on top and skillfully using your oven gloves/ cloth, hold plate and dish together and flip over.  There should be a nice gentle thud, your tart is turned! Take off dish and viola!  A steaming, beautifully caramelised tatin in all its sticky glory.

Green Lentil Stew

Serve 

We chopped the tart up and served everything family style on the table with a nice glass of beer (flavoured with elderflowers!) and a green salad (rocket, romaine lettuce, cucumber and more mint).

We Love It!

This was a proper feast for St Georges Day.  The patron saint of England (I am English) and countless other countries, including Syria, Serbia and the Isle of Gozo.  Strange day really, celebrating the slaying of a dragon?!

Foodie Fact

You know we love our beet!  The greens of beetroots contain more nutrition than the roots and a higher iron content than spinach.  Beetroot is a great blood cleanser and builder for the blood.

 

Categories: Baking, Dinner, Dressings, Local food, Organic, Recipes, Special Occasion, Welsh produce, Wine and Booze | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Ernie’s Easter Eggs

The 'Ostrich' Easter Egg

Happy Easter!

A nice time of year, but it does seem strange to still have snow on the ground.

I woke up this morning to find a psycedelic goose egg on the kitchen table (Jane had been up to some late night craft scribbles) and a nice slab of cherry chocolate.

Which triggered memories of my own egg painting days.  I once won a prize at school for dressing an egg up as superman. Which remains one of my highest accolades in the field of art (and tailoring).

Being Easter, we have eggs on the mind.  Not chocolate though, Ernie’s eggs. Ernie is an old navy captain who lives with his dog Paris and a garden full of ducks, drakes, geese and chickens.  It’s a proper cottage menagerie.

Some of Ernie's Bantam Eggs

Ernie’s fowl seem to like the sun and springtime snow, they are popping eggs out at an incredible rate, meaning an abundance for the Beach House table.
Ernie lives just down the way and has recently recovered from a broken hip that he injured whilst delivering our Christmas card. We do live on quite a steep hill!

Ernie’s cares greatly for his birds, they run around semi-wild, eat fine grains and are housed in a selection of well appointed coops.  You can see it in the eggs, which are really rich with brilliant yolks.  Perfect for soldier dipping (‘soldiers’ are slang for sticks of toasted bread, to avoid any unnecessary military confusion).  The first time I saw one of his goose eggs, I was sure he had a ostrich tucked away somewhere.  They are huge!  We haven’t eaten one yet (it’s the weight of around five hens eggs) but apparently they are good for baking. Goose egg brownie?!  I may crack it tomorrow, I’ll keep you posted.

We may not have a shop in the village, but at least we have an Ernie.

Lots of Easter love from the BHKXXXXXXXXX

P.S. – If you’re in Carmel, it’s 6 Duck Eggs for a pound.  Bargain.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Baking, Breakfast, Local food, Organic, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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