Winter

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Flying Flapjacks 

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

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

Celebrate Cake

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

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

 

These are fill your boots flapjacks!  

I hope you enjoy them.  Leave us a comment below if you do and check out our upcoming events RIGHT HERE.  We may be cooking near you soon! 

 

Recipe Notes

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

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

These flapjacks freeze very well.  Make a double batch.  Emergency ‘jacks!

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

Festive Flapjacks – The ones that escaped the storm

 

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

 

The Bits – For 6 large slices, 12 small 

Dry

150g jumbo oats (gluten-free or normal is fine)

50g walnuts

50g sunflower seeds

25g chia seeds

1 teas ground cinnamon

 

Wet

75g brown sugar

50ml plant-based milk

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

2 tbs cranberry sauce

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 180oC.

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

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

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

Mix the wet into the dry, until all is nicely combined.

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

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

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

 

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

 

We’ll have more vegan Christmas recipes coming soon, SIGN UP to our newsletter her and get all the BHK action, including new events, workshops and holidays.

 

 

 

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

Merry Vegan Midwinter Workshop – An alternative festive feast and celebration

 

Sunday 24th November 2019

10am-5pm

 

With Gillian Monks ‘Merry Midwinter’ and Lee Watson ‘Peace and Parsnips’

 

Get back in touch with the true spirit of Christmas!

 

Join best-selling authors, Gillian Monks and Lee Watson at the beautifully situated Trigonos, to celebrate an alternative Festive season with a delicious, 3 course plant-based lunch and cooking demonstration.

 

Are you interested in a Christmas which doesn’t revolve around commercialism and consumerism?

 

Do you wish to return to celebrating this time of year in a more authentic way?

 

Gillian will be sharing her passion for this season and introducing you to an alternative festive approach, re-introducing ourselves to activities and customs which better reflect the nature of this time of year.

Prepare to be inspired!

Vegan chef Lee will be creating a plant-based festive menu, with lots of treats. A slap up three course Christmas lunch, using local produce, that everyone can enjoy! Vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free options are available, all decadent and delicious. Lee will also be demonstrating how to cook a full vegan Christmas dinner, step by step.

Learn to cook this Parsnip, Chestnut and Cranberry Roast

Gillian’s workshop will involved creating your own Christmas decorations from locally foraged evergreens. Design and make your own advent wreath or kissing ball, Welsh calennigs, Christmas woodland gnomes and eco-friendly gift-wrapping.

Gillian will also be sharing ideas for festive entertainment, games and gifts, which cost nothing except time, inspiration and care, as well as leading our stories and carols by the fire.

 

What’s included:

 

Three course plant-based festive lunch and welcome drink

 

Authentic Christmas decoration workshop with Gillian, using locally foraged evergreens

 

Cooking demonstration with Lee, learn how to make this Christmas plant-based and decadent

 

Storytelling and carols by the blazing fire,
with special hot chocolate

 

Full recipe booklet, especially designed for the day, try all the recipes out at home

 

Much knowledge and many practical tips of how you can re-connect with the Festive season, in new, old ways

 

A selection of Teas and Fresh Coffee

 

——–

 

Why we came together for Merry Vegan Midwinter:

 

“Celebrating midwinter is not about what you buy or how much you spend….Turn away from the frenetic consumerism of Christmas and rediscover the authentic and meaningful realities of this, the oldest and most precious celebration of the year.
The true significance of midwinter is not found in any individual spiritual or religious belief or practice. Instead, the winter solstice provides an opportunity to celebrate what we as humans share; to set aside our differences and come together with a sense of community and cheer.”

Gillian

 

“Many people are choosing to eat more plant-based foods, I want to make the festive season delicious for all! Taking into account vegans, gluten-free and even sugar-free options, I’ll be creating a Christmas lunch menu that everyone will enjoy. Full of flavours, textures and pleasant surprises along the way.”

Lee

 

 

Come along for an enjoyable, delicious and relaxing day, reconnecting with the true spirit of Christmas.

 

 

Tickets £79

 

TO BOOK

Call 01286882388 or email info@trigonos.org

 

Normal Day Ticket £79

 

Address:

Trigonos
Plas Baladeulyn
Nantlle
Caernarfon
Wales
LL54 6BW

 

*Early Bird Offer ends 19st October 2019

Categories: Cooking demos, Events, gluten-free, healthy, plant-based, Vegan, Wales, Winter | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Wholegrain Soda Bread Muffins – Vegan

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

Home-baked bread in no time at all!!

Perfect with a nice bowl of soup.

 

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

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

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

WHY MUFFINS?

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

Nantlle Valley, home of Trigonos Retreat Centre and these muffins

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

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

Simple Vegan Soda Bread – Ready in 45 minutes.

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

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

Relax, Recharge and Re-energise! 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Happy cooking!!

 

Recipe Notes

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

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

 

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

Wholegrain Soda Bread Muffins – Vegan

The Bits – For 12

Dry

150g plain white flour

300g wholemeal bread/ strong flour

2 tbs brown sugar

2 tbs rapeseed or olive oil

1 teas bicarbonate of soda

1 teas salt

 

Oats (for sprinkle)

 

Vegan Buttermilk 

325ml soya milk

2 teas apple cider or white wine vinegar

 

Do It

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

Preheat a fan oven to 180oC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foodie Fact 

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

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

Go wholegrain!

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

Christmas Lunch Made Easy! – Full Planner and Top Tips

VEGAN CHRISTMAS LUNCH MADE EASY!

Or at least, a bit easier!!  I’ve been asked loads of times how to make cooking easier.  Of course, there’s no one answer, that would be way too easy.  But here are some guidelines and plenty of helpful tips I’ve learned from experience/ my mistakes.

I’d like to help to make your Christmas lunch 2018 really delicious and the most stress-free festive feast ever!

The only way to do this is with a little preparation and planning. It will mean that you’re comfortable and confident, ready to create a delicious meal for your loved ones and also have a chilled and enjoyable day yourself.

Here’s a few general tips I’ve learned over the years:

  • Try to keep it simple, but tasty. Know your limits and don’t try anything extravagant or totally untested. A main dish with a few side dishes is more than enough, we eat way too much on Christmas day!
  • If you are cooking for people with dietary requirements, like no sugar or gluten-free, get them ready in advance or make the whole menu gluten/ sugar free. There are simple ways of doing this and it will make your life much easier. The last thing you need is to be cooking many different dishes for people on the big day.
  • People expectations don’t matter. Cook the best meal you can with the skills and ingredients you have. Cook the food you love and I’m sure others will enjoy it too. Trying to cook like super chef once a year is just unrealistic!!
  • Chill! Take it as easy as possible on the day. Using this plan below, it will be plain sailing!! Try to keep calm and be focused. Have some trusted helpers around if you can, who are good in a kitchen. What you’re doing is not easy, especially if you do not cook meals like this regularly.
  • Things will, very probably, go wrong.  Take it all in your stride. You’re cooking for loved ones and it’s supposed to be fun!! Remember that professional chefs make mistakes and lose their cool all the time, but staying calm, taking some deep breaths if you need to, will ensure your meal is delicious.

 

Check out our recent Christmas recipes:

 

Portobello Mushroom Wellington with Toasted Walnut and Rosemary Stuffing

 

Festive Chocolate and Orange Brownie Cake with Mulled Berries – Vegan

 

Shallot and Red Wine Gravy – Vegan, Gluten-free

 

Some preparations tips:

The run up….

  • If you can do a dry run of the meal you have planned, invite some people over for a pre-Xmas feast.
  • Buy dry and frozen ingredients, things that will store well, don’t leave all your shopping to the last minute.
  • Cook dishes beforehand that can be easily frozen or jarred, like the Wellington, Cranberry Sauce, even the gravy.
  • Yorkshire puds can be made before and frozen. Just warm them in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
  • Oven space will probably be an issue on the day, plan your menu around this, make sure there is a balance between dishes prepared in the oven and on the hobs.
  • Equipment check, make sure you have big enough dishes, tins and pans. Especially if you don’t normally cook for lots of people.
  • Sizing up recipes. If you’re cooking for a full house, you may need to double or sometimes triple recipes, this can be a challenge. Recipes don’t always work out so well when multiplied up, it’s simply a case of using common sense, especially with things like flavourings, spices etc. Taste the dishes regularly. Always!
  • If you think the meal will be ready for 1pm, set a meal time for 2pm. Don’t feel pressured into getting a meal out bang on time, people are enjoying a drink and the Xmas vibe, take you time, hurry leads to mistakes.

The day before

  • Get a load of your cooking done on Xmas eve.  I know this is idealistic, it’s such a busy time of year, but if you have time, doing all, or some of this, will make Christmas day so much easier in the kitchen.
  • Re-read your recipes highlighting areas of confusion or difficult bits, small things you might miss when busy.
  • Plan a cooking list for the day (see below), noting times for cooking and if different from the recipe, quantities calculated.

On the day

  • Have a good breakfast. Sit down and look over what you have planned with a cuppa. Start calmly, as you mean to go on.
  • Get the kitchen organised, make sure you know where everything is and have all the ingredients and equipment to hand.
  • Have a washer uperer on standby all day. If they want to eat your lovely food, they’ve got to play ball and get the marigolds on! Ask them nicely and I’m sure someone will help
    Delegate jobs for success. You’re the cook, let other people set the table, peel the vegetables, tidy up. In an ideal world, surround yourself with helpful and competent people. That’s a secret to kitchen success!!
  • Have a festive tipple, but not too many!! Being tippled in the kitchen is a recipe for burnt bits.
  • Always best to start earlier than you think, time in the kitchen really flies.
  • It’s true what they say with a Roast Dinner, it’s all about timing. Cook your veg last, as this will not do well sitting around waiting to be served.
  • Warm your plates in the oven if you have time. This will ensure everything is hot for service.
  • Clear the kitchen down before serving, get as much surface space as possible. Serving up is one of the most important times of the process. Make sure everything is simmering or warm and you’ve thought a little about how you’re going to present the meal.

We’ll be cooking using this plan:

Cooking List/ Timetable – Example (with time added for plenty of chatting and sipping)

1 hour Wellington or Nut Roast
1 hour Brownie Cake (including decoration time)
30 minutes Shallot and Red Wine Gravy
45 minutes Soup
30 minutes Glazed Roots
30 minutes Creamy Mash
20 minutes Cranberry Sauce
20 minutes Yorkshire puds
20 minutes Brussels Sprouts (essential!!:)
30 minutes **For when things don’t necessarily go to plan or totally mess up:)**

 

I hope this helps, do let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

 

Happy Cooking and Merry Christmas! Lee and Jane:)

 

Merry Vegan Christmas 2018!!!!!

Categories: Healthy Eating, plant-based, Special Occasion, Vegan, veganism, Winter | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Shallot and Red Wine Gravy – Vegan, Gluten-free

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

 

A rich, dark vegan gravy that everyone will enjoy.

 

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

 

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

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

Proper gravy for a proper roast dinner

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Recipe Notes

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

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

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

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

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

Tasty and Rich Vegan Gravy

Shallot and Red Wine Gravy – Vegan, Gluten-free

The Bits – For 4-6

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

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

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

700ml vegetable stock

Cooking oil (I use cold pressed rapeseed oil)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

Festive Chocolate and Orange Brownie Cake with Mulled Berries – Vegan

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

I fancied something different this Christmas for dessert.  

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Festive Chocolate and Orange Brownie Cake with Mulled Berries – Vegan

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

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

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

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

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

 

Have magical and delicious Festive Time 2018!  

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

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

 

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

 

Portobello Mushroom Wellington with Toasted Walnut and Rosemary Stuffing

 

Recipe Notes               

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

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

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

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

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

Just add cream or ice cream….

Festive Chocolate & Orange Brownie Cake with Mulled Berries

The Bits – For 12-14 slices

175g plain flour

175g light brown sugar

1 ½ teas baking powder

20g or 3 heaped tbs cacao/ cocoa

1 ½ teas ground cinnamon

Large pinch sea salt

 

150g dark vegan chocolate 

100ml cold pressed rapeseed/ sunflower oil

1 ½ teas vanilla extract

1 medium orange (zest)

200ml plant milk, I used soya milk

 

Mulled Berries

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

3 slices orange

60ml brandy/ whiskey

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

 

Decoration

Dried/ fresh orange slices

Icing sugar

Dried cranberries/ cherries or fresh berries like raspberries/ strawberries

Fresh rosemary sprigs

 

Do It

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Bake for 18 – 25 minutes, depending on your oven.  Don’t over bake, it should still be a little gooey in the middle when you test it with a skewer.  Normally, if you think it’s a little undercooked, that’s fine.  Don’t trust your instincts on this one!  The brownie cake is ready when a light crust has formed over the whole cake.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Can also be served with 2-minute Chocolate Sauce Recipe

 

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

 

Categories: Cakes, Desserts, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Special Occasion, Vegan, veganism, Wales, Winter | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Portobello Mushroom Wellington with Toasted Walnut and Rosemary Stuffing

Vegan Mushroom Wellington with Toasted Walnut and Rosemary Stuffing

The perfect Christmas or roast dinner centre piece!

 

This dish looks lovely, with succulent mushrooms tucked away inside a flavourful nut roast, wrapped in crisp pastry.

 

This is the kind of dish that everyone will enjoy, vegan or not.  It’s rich with loads of big flavours and textures.  This has been well trialed on meat eating friends and family and it always gets the thumbs up.

 

This is my variation of what is fast becoming a modern vegan classic. 

 

I’ve been testing the recipe for months now, it’s changed many times.  Sometimes a recipe arrives straight away, is bang on and I’m happy with it.  Yum!  Other times, it’s impossible to not tinker with, or make huge necessary changes that make it edible.  The joys of experimenting in the kitchen!

I love making this dish, so trying out new things has been a real pleasure.  I like the balance of flavours in the stuffing here and I much prefer the mushrooms pan fried, they’re more succulent and juicy.  Plus the garlic must be nice and golden, this adds wonderful flavour to the filling.

We recently hosted a cooking workshop in Manchester, guess what the main course was?!  Here’s some of the team Wellington’s offerings, made by Jeremy (thanks for the pic:), Nicola and Christine.  The one closest to the camera had problems in the oven, hence the funky pastry patterns.  Plenty of tips below on how to make them perfect and lovely, plus you probably won’t be using complicated new ovens with funny buttons and weird tendencies.

The Wellingtons of Manchester

A B.H.K CHRISTMAS

We’ve been busy cooking and travelling all over the UK in recent times, spending some cool times in Whistable down in Kent.  Great vegan breakfasts if you’re in the area!  Plus one of our favourite vegan cafes in the UK, The Wallflower Cafe.

Yeah.  It’s that hectic but fun time of the year, where everything seems to go unhinged, we all get high on mulled wine and mince pies, waking up covered with tinsel.  It does offer so many opportunities to eat like a hungry reindeer!

We’re spending the festive period with family in Harrogate and North Wales.  It’s great because we’ll be with young folks, they’re already so excited about the BIG day!  Plus, I get to play with lego.

We’ve both written long letters to Saint Nic.  I’ve asked Santa for a frying pan.  Jane is expecting a pink watch.

 

Why Wellington?

No one really knows why this dish is called a ‘Wellington’, it has nothing to do with the Duke of Wellington, although it may well have been created in Wellington, New Zealand. It is most probably a British name for a French classic ‘en croute’ dish.

 

I hope this makes your Christmas lunch table in a week, do let us know if you cook it in the comments below.  Also, let us know if there are any questions, leave a comment, it’s our 24/7 BHK Wellington helpline;)

This does look like lots of ingredients and instructions, but once you’ve tried this type of Wellington, it’s a really flexible dish that you can use all year with different seasonal vegetables.  It’s easier than it looks.

Here’s to a delicious 2018 Christmas lunch!  I’ll be posting a dessert and gravy recipe very soon.

 

 

Have an amazing Christmas!!

 

Big Festive Hugs and Merry Times from the BHK

 

An ideal Christmas centre piece, Vegan Mushroom Wellington. Notice the different style of folding the pastry.

 

Recipe Notes

I’ve added two sizes of Wellington below, one for a meal for 6+ people and one for 4.

This Wellington can be made the day before, and kept in the fridge. If you have the time, this is a great idea, making your Christmas day much simpler. This dish freezes well. Reheat in a low oven covered with foil.

Mushrooms – If you prefer, oyster or a selection of wild mushrooms, they also make a wonderful filling, just swap them for the Portobellos. If you like garlic, fry a clove or two more with the mushrooms. If you like things smoky, add ½ teas more smoked paprika.  As ever, this is your dish now, and it should ideally represent your tastes.

Pastry – I mention below, but I’ll say it again, the pastry is best used straight from the fridge, nicely chilled, in a cooler part of the kitchen, ideally on a cool surface.  This means the pastry is much easier to handle and fold.  If it seems too soft, pop it in the fridge again to chill for 20 minutes or so.

Cutting the pastry – I’ve tried folding the pastry many ways, the easiest is to cut it at a right angle away from the filling, see directly below.  You can cut it at an angle, like in the picture up top and below, it leaves a space between the pastry folds, which can make it easier to cut.  But I think I prefer the tucked in, right angle approach.  I hope that makes some sense!

You can use hazelnuts, pecans or almonds in the stuffing.  Just make sure they’re nicely toasted, in a low oven, to bring out all the rich and full flavours.

If you are really not a fan of yeast extract (there are many out there!) and cannot even have a jar in the house, go for a dark miso.  They both add a great umami depth to the stuffing/ roast.

Can’t get really big portobello mushrooms, that’s fine, go for field mushrooms, or just use more smaller mushrooms to add a nice centre for the Wellington.

Please don’t be tempted to use dried herbs here, fresh is best for a lighter flavour.

If you make the smaller Wellington, you’ll have a little pastry leftover.  I normally pop it in the freezer.

When blending the nuts and bread, chunks are fine, we don’t want the stuffing too smooth.  A rougher texture is best I’ve found.

Most puff pastries in the UK shops are vegan, but do have a little check.

I’ve found that Aldi is the best supermarket at the minute for vegan wines, many are labeled.

Gluten-free – To make this recipe gluten-free and still delicious, just use gluten-free pastry, breadcrumbs and dark miso (soya based) or tamari instead of yeast extract.  As ever, you are best to judge what is your level of gluten intolerance.

Festive Vegan Mushroom Wellington – ready to carve

Portobello Mushroom Wellington with Toasted Walnut and Rosemary Stuffing

The Bits – For a big one (x10-12 slices) or a medium one (x6 slices)

Mushrooms                                                                    Big           Medium
Large portobello or field mushrooms                               3 (250g)        2
Large cloves garlic (sliced)                                                3                   2
Tbs fresh rosemary (chopped)                                          1 ½               1
Tbs fresh thyme leaves (picked from the stem)                1                   1/2
Tbs cooking oil                                                                  2                    1
Sea salt and black pepper                                                        To taste

 

Nut Roast Filling
Onion (finely diced)                                                      1 large       1 medium
Large cloves garlic (crushed)                                            3                    2
Stick celery (sliced)                                                           1                1 small

The mushroom trimmings
Tbs fresh rosemary (finely chopped)                                1                    1/2
Tbs fresh thyme (finely chopped)                                     1 ½                   1
Teas smoked paprika                                                        ⅔                     ½
Teas sea salt                                                                      1                      ¾
Teas black pepper                                                             ½                     ⅓

Teas yeast extract                                                               1                      ¾
Vegan red wine (ml)                                                         150                  100
Teas maple syrup or sweetener                                          1                       ½

Grams cooked chestnuts                                                  180                   140
Grams toasted walnuts                                                     200                   140
Slices stale bread                                                                2                      1
Tbs water                                                                            2                      1

 

For brushing
1 tbs soya milk
½ teas maple syrup
½ teas cooking oil

 

Pastry
1 sheet pre-rolled puff pastry (or one block), 375g

 

Do It
Preheat an oven to 200oC.

Walnuts – On a baking tray, toast your walnuts for 5-8 minutes. You’ll get a lovely aroma when they’re ready and they will darken in colour slightly.

Mushrooms – Using a sharp knife, cut away the edges of your mushrooms and the end of the stem, so you’re left with a flat base.  This helps them to fry evenly.  Then finely chop the off cuttings, to be added to your nut roast filling later.

Warm a large frying pan on medium high heat, add 1-2 tbs of cooking oil, fry the mushrooms, top first. Sprinkle each mushroom with the fresh herbs and little salt and pepper. At the same time and In the same pan, fry you garlic until golden. Once the mushrooms are cooked, around 5 minutes each side, leave to cool with the garlic scattered on top.

Stuffing – In a food processor or blender, add the bread. Blitz until a rough crumb forms, not too fine. Pour into a large bowl. Also blitz the chestnuts and then walnuts. Placing all together into a large bowl.

In your large frying pan on medium high heat, add 2 tbs cooking oil and fry the onion, celery and garlic, adding 2 large pinches of sea salt. Cook for 5 minutes, add the mushrooms cuttings, fresh herbs, paprika and season with black pepper.

Cook for another 5 minutes, until all is nice and caramelised.  Then add the red wine, maple syrup and yeast extract, stir, heat through, cooking until the wine is cooked off, roughly 5-7 minutes.

Add the onion mix to the large bowl of bread and ground nuts, mix all together until a dough forms, adding 1-2 tbs water, if needed. It should stick together well when pressed between finger and thumb, but should not be too wet.

Taste the mix, season with salt if needed. Separate into two even balls, weigh them if you like, to be exact (and like a proper chef person).

It is easier to cut and fold over the pastry at a right angle, NOT like I’ve done here.
Mushrooms here trimmed and topped with golden garlic.

On a cold baking tray, lined with parchment, lay or roll out, a sheet of puff pastry that’s roughly 23cm x 29cm (large), 23cm x 24cm (smaller). Pastry is best used straight out of the fridge and handled minimally.

Form half your nut roast filling in a large fat sausage, place into the centre of your pastry, lengthways. Press it down to make a flat oblong shape (see above). This is the base layer for the stuffing filling. Top this with your mushrooms and garlic, face down, trim them if they stick out past the edges.  On the picture above, the mushrooms were too big, so I flipped over the middle one to fit it in.  Whatever works best, we want as much mushroom in there as possible!

Cover the mushrooms with the rest of the mix, moulding the mix and making it smooth with your hands. The mushrooms should be tucked in nice and tightly.

Cover and smooth the filling, tidy up any rough edges. This will mean the Wellington has a nice shape and it’s easy to fold the pastry.

Trim the pastry so it sticks out by 1/2cm at each end of the nut roast filling, then cut the pastry in 1cm strips, at a right angle to the stuffing. Not at an angle like in the photo;)

Lightly brush the soya milk mix around the edges of the pastry, this will help the pastry top to stick together. Make a lattice effect, by simply laying one strip of pastry over the filling, followed by the opposite strip, being as neat and gentle as you can.

Continue doing this, when you get to the end, just trim off the last couple of pastry strips so they fit nicely.  Now brush the whole Wellington with milk and tuck it all in and make it look tidy.

For best results, place in a fridge for 30 minutes or longer before cooking. Then brush again with your milk. At this stage, you can leave the wellington in the fridge overnight.

Bake the Wellington for 30-40 mins bake, turn after 20 minutes if your oven is hotter one side than the other. You know your oven.  The pastry will be golden brown and cooked right through.

Leave the Wellington to sit for 10 minutes before using a sharp knife, or bread knife, to carve the wellington.  Serve with your favourite Christmas trimmings.  Merry Christmas!!

 

Rich and Tasty Vegan Gravy and

Chocolate and Orange Brownie Cake with Mulled Berries 

Recipes coming very soon!

 

Foodie Fact 

Chestnuts are the only nut high in Vitamin C, which we of course need lots of at this time of year.  They’re also high in manganese, and a good source of copper and magnesium.

Remember to treat your chestnuts more like a vegetable than a nut, by that I mean they’re best stored in the fridge or somewhere cold.  Chestnuts should be plump when you buy them, give them a squeeze.  Toasted chestnuts are one of my favourite things about Christmas!  But if they’re not done well, or old, they can be a real let down.

 

Find more BHK Christmas centre pieces/ Sunday roast ideas here:

 

Parsnip, Cranberry and Chestnut Roast 

 

Maple Roast Parsnip and Mushroom Roulade with Cashew Cream Sauce 

 

 

Categories: Healthy Eating, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Special Occasion, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Nourishing Tempeh and Miso Ramen Bowl – Steaming, Soul Soup

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

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

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

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

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

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

MISO!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XMAS IS COMING (PROMISE:)

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

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

Steaming bowls, good for the soul!

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

Recipe Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nourishing Tempeh and Miso Ramen Bowl

The Bits For 4-6

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

2 inch chunk fresh ginger (finely chopped)

200g tempeh (chopped into chunks)

2 ltrs light veg stock

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

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

 

Do It

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

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

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

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

Ladle into warm bowls and scatter with your favourite toppings.

 

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spaghetti Squash 

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

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

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

Winter in the BHK

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

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

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

 

Xmas Songs and Shirts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy cooking!

 

Recipe Notes

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

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

 

I love Spaghetti Squash, a really interesting ingredient

 

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

 

The Bits – For 2 as a main course

Pesto

75 g toasted hazelnut

12g or 3 handfuls fresh basil

20g or 1 handful cavolo nero or other kale

2 medium garlic cloves (chopped)

4 tbs cold pressed rapeseed/ olive oil

4 tbs nooch (nutritional yeast flakes)

2/3 teas salt

1 medium-sized lemon (juice)

 

500g or 1/2 large spaghetti squash

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 190oC.

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

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

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

Serve straight away, some vegan parmesan would be nice.

 

Foodie Fact

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

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

We’ve started a BHK youtube channel! 

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

The first of many!!  

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

 

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

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

Viva Vegan! Lee’s interview with Veganuary

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

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

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

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

 

Veganuary caught up with Lee Watson to find out more!

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

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

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

How did the idea come about?

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

Why did you pick Spain?

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

What can people expect to experience on the holiday?

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

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

One of Aine’s amazing recipes

 

 

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

Reserve your place for Viva Vegan! Spain right now. 

Just click here

 

 

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

Cook Vegan! Christmas Feast, Manchester – Cooking Workshop and Lunch

 

Sunday 2nd December ‘18

 

Learn to cook and plan a creative, show stopping three course vegan Christmas lunch with support and guidance from Lee Watson, plant-based cook and cookbook author, and the Beach House Kitchen team.

Is this your first vegan Christmas?  Are you cooking for vegans or just interested in trying something new and creative?  Maybe you’re a vegan cook looking for fresh festive foodie inspiration?

This hands on workshop is packed with delicious plant-based alternatives to a traditional Christmas lunch. All dishes are full of bold flavours and textures that everyone will enjoy.

Cook Vegan Xmas will leave you feeling cool, calm and prepared for the great Christmas day cook off!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor

We’ll cook together a three course meal, making a starter, stunning centre piece and all the trimmings plus a decadent dessert. Many of the dishes you can freeze at home, to be extra prepared for the big day.

You’ll also get a full recipe booklet, including an invaluable timetable, so you can plan your cooking leading up to the big meal, making sure everything is ready at the right time. You’ll also leave with some essentials; stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce for the freezer.

We have an excellent venue, with fully licensed bar and fresh tea and coffee available.

Anyone familiar with Lee’s cooking will know that the recipes are going to be creative but not overly time consuming or complex. Christmas day is about finding a balance between delicious dishes and straightforward preparation. Leaving more time to raise a glass or two and enjoy the day with friends and family. He’ll even make you fall in love with Brussels Sprouts. It is possible!

Cook Vegan Xmas will provide you with new techniques and tricks, plus you’ll leave the day feeling confident that 2018 will be the best vegan Christmas lunch yet!

You will learn how to cook:

MENU

Welcome Drink
Hot Apple Mull

Starter
Roast Squash and Ginger Soup with Almond Bacon and Coriander

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

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

 

 

Lee will be releasing the final menu a little later in the year.

We’ll all sit down at the end to enjoy the dishes we’ve created together. Coffee, wine and drinks will be available to buy from the Food Sorcery bar, plus we’ll enjoy a warming mulled drink on arrival (non-alcoholic).

The workshop is hands on, fast-paced and fun. Like the big day itself! We’ll work together in groups of three (max), with some techniques demonstrated by Lee and some working from the recipe booklet. All levels of cooks will be benefit from the day. There will at least 30 minutes for lunch at the end.

 

Cook Vegan Xmas what’s included:

 

Three course lunch

Festive arrival drink

Full recipe booklet with tips and advice

Locally sourced, high quality ingredients

Essential planning timetable

All equipment, including aprons

Tuition and support from experienced cooks

No washing up at the end (unless you really want to!)

BOOK NOW!

Day Ticket  £99

CLICK HERE

 

 

10:30am – 1:30pm

Sunday 2nd December ‘18

Food Sorcery Cooking and Barista School

Waterside Hotel & Leisure Club
Wilmslow Road
Didsbury
M20 5WZ

 

Categories: Cooking demos, Events, plant-based, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Feel Good February – Our new newsletter is out now!

Feel good foods!

Our new BHK newsletter is out right now! Going by the name of ‘Feel Food February!!’

It’s been a long winter, aren’t they all!  We felt like sharing some tips and recipes for feeling great in this last little window of wintery times. 

How can we keep our bodies and minds energised and able to shine on through winter?  

Sign up for your copy, it takes a couple of seconds, right here

The long winter has come to a dramatic end for sure! Incredible weather up here in the Beach House:)

Categories: Blogs, Healing foods, healthy, Healthy Eating, Inspiration, photography, plant-based, Superfoods, Vegan, veganism, Winter | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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

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

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: | 3 Comments

Parsnip, Cranberry & Chestnut Roast

Chestnut, Cranberry & Walnut Roast

We all need a good nut roast up our festive sleeves!!  This is a tasty centre piece with all the flavours of Christmas, that won’t take an age to cook.  It is also remarkably healthy, but we won’t dwell on that, after all, it’s nearly Christmas, time to feast and be merry!!

I’m sharing this one on the fly, its a busy time of year in the BHK!  As I’m sure it is in your home.  I took this picture whilst cooking for lovely group at the weekend, I haven’t had anytime for blogging of late, but this recipe is one we’re enjoying and lets face it, us vegans need a nut roast to lean on (then gobble) at this time of year!

I did a little poll recently in the BHK Vegan Cooking Group, asking what was the stand out vegan dish for Christmas lunch and Nut Roast ruled.  1st by quite a bit.  I was a little surprised, I love nut roasts, but many people have nightmare stories about bland, crumbly roasts, which is the last thing we want when we are mid Xmas feast.

This is a substantial nut roast (aren’t they all!?), with a nice layer of roasted parsnips in the centre. It cuts nicely into slices and I like the idea of glazing things at this time of year.  Makes it extra special and gives it an attractive finish.

I served it with full trimmings at the weekend, roasted Parmesan sprouts, mash, proper gravy, roast squash and swede, a few types of kale and a little red onion and parnsip tart tatin thrown in.  It was snowing outside and Snowdonia was looking like a winter wonderland.  The perfect Christmas scene.

Let us know if you make this roast, it would make our week!  I’m heading off to Spain for Christmas and New Year very soon and Jane is having a nice quiet time with family, then an even quieter time at a silent meditation retreat;)  We hope you have a wonderful festive time and get right into the Xmas groove.  Have fun. jingle bells and spread the love:)

Merry Christmas everyone!!X

The Nantlle Valley looking good and wintery (Snowdon hiddne in the mist)

Recipe Notes

If you have some leftover mix, this would make awesome burgers.  Festive burger twist?  Why not!

This roast will freeze well and can be made in advance.   In fact, its better when made the day before.

Don’t dig parnsips.  That’s cool, any root veg will be fine here, something like carrot or squash would be great. Nice colours too.

Walnuts are great in these dishes, they break down nicely, adding flavour and texture.  You might prefer hazelnuts, which are also very delicious here.

Just use gluten-free breadcrumbs to make this a GF treat.

 

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Parsnip, Cranberry & Chestnut Roast

The Bits – For 4-6

2 medium onions (skin on and quartered)

300g/ 2 largish parsnips 

1 head garlic

2 tbs rapeseed oil

 

200g chestnuts (cooked and peeled)

100g breadcrumbs

100g toasted walnuts

3 teas dijon mustard

2 teas dried sage

1 teas dried rosemary

1/2 teas cinnamon

2 tbs ground flax (mixed with 7 tbs water)

4 tbs Cranberry Sauce

 

Serve

8 tbs cranberry sauce

2 tbs whiskey/ brandy or water

 

Fresh thyme leaves

 

Do It

Slice the thick end of your parsnips into thin discs, with a few smaller discs from the thinner end.  This will be used for decorating the top of our roast.  Cut the rest into thin batons.

Preheat an oven to 190oC.  Trim the top of the garlic off to slightly expose the cloves.  On a baking tray, toss the onion, garlic and parsnip batons (set aside the thin slices) in oil and a little salt.  Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until all is soft and caramelised nicely.  The onion may need a little longer to go nice and soft.   Leave to cool and pop the roasted garlic cloves from their skins.  Remove any skin and roughly chop the onion into small chunks, keep enough parsnip batons for a decent layer in the middle of your roast, chop the rest up.     

Pulse the chestnuts and walnuts into a rough crumb in a food processor.  Place in a bowl and mix in the roasted onions, chopped parsnips and garlic, herbs, breadcrumbs, mustard, cinnamon, cranberry sauce, flax egg, salt and pepper.  Mash together well and taste to check seasoning.  Remember that flavours will develop when cooked.  If it’s a little lumpy, that’s fine!    

Line and oil a 900g/ large loaf tin with baking parchment, lay out your parsnip discs until they cover the base of your tin.  Arrange them nicely, this will be the top of your roast.  Spoon in half the chestnut mix, press down snuggly and level out with the back of a spoon.  Arrange a layer of parsnips batons, press down a little until snug and spoon over the rest of your chestnut mix.  Smooth and press down evenly to make a nice neat finish. 

Cover with foil or baking parchment and bake for 45 minutes, then take off the foil and bake for a further 15 minutes.  There should be a nice brown crust.  Leave to cool for 15 minutes in tin before turning gently out onto a serving plate and again, leave for 10 minutes before slicing.  Makes it easier and slices stay together.   

In a small pan, mix together the cranberry sauce and whiskey, bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minutes.  Keep warm.  Glaze the top of your roast with the cranberry sauce and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.  

The loaf mix can be made the day before and left in the fridge until needed.

Looking for a quick and easy Christmas dessert? 

Why not try this Spiced Apple & Pecan Tart.  Follow the Apple Tart recipe in Peace & Parsnips, adding some spices to the marmalade, cloves, star anise, cinnamon and maybe a few shots of whiskey/ brandy.  Top it all off with chopped roasted pecans.

Spiced Apple & Pecan Tart

 

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Living, Peace and Parsnips, plant-based, Recipes, Special Occasion, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad

Roast Winter Vegetable Salad

You know me, I like a salad anytime of year!  Lots of classic flavour combos and textures going on in this simple and nourishing winter salad.  Sweet apple and roasted winter roots, crunch of toasted hazelnut and the rich and zesty roasted garlic yoghurt dressing.

With all those bright seasonal colours, it’s a bit of a looker too and something bright for the eyes and taste buds, to get enlivened in the festive times.

Jane’s working hard at the minute and challenged me to make something that was substantial but not stodgy, we seem to have been eating a load of stodge of late.  Feels good when we’re eating by the fire to fill our bellies with big plates of rich stews and pies with mounds of potatoes, but we’re not exactly sprightly afterwards!  Maybe that’s what winter is about though.  Taking it easy and going with the flow of the season.  Chilling out!!

I think a tray of roasted veggies is one of the most satisfying things you can do with an oven and winter roots offer up so many tantalising combinations.  It amazes me that nature is so kind to us, putting all those nutrients and colours beneath the soil, pre-packed, giving us all we need through the long winters.

I like to roast at least two trays of veg and keep stocked up for a couple of days.  Make a quick soup, add to a stew/ curry, or mix with grains like we do here.  They’re just ideal things to have hanging out in the fridge.  I encourage you to double these quantities and roast away!

I know that pearl barley has slipped out of most peoples cupboards, other grains will also be great.  Something hearty like buckwheat would be really nice to try, wild rice, millet is one of my favs (all those gluten free too) as well as freekeh (well worth a try).  Good full flavoured grains.

Barley has that lovely chewy, nuttiness and is also really filling and inexpensive.  It’s the ideal winter grain for the UK!  I like to cook a mixture of wholegrains in a pan together, millet, quinoa and buckwheat are my staple for whole grain salads.  The flavours a knockout, especially when the grains are toasted in a dry pan for 5 minutes before adding any water.

Whole grains are one of the cornerstones of our diet in the BHK,  we definitely wouldn’t get very far without them.  We tend to eat them for two meals a day on average, ranging from oats to amaranth, faro to freekeh, we love ’em all.    Whole grains are super foods, nutritional powerhouses and give our body an amazing source of slow release energy, the ideal fuel for us wrapped up in little, easy-to-cook grains.

I would serve this on Christmas day, it would be especially good in the evening, when we want something tasty, but a little lighter.  You can serve it on a large platter and it will look amazing!  A real centre piece.

Recipe Notes

This salad can be served hot or cold.  It’s nice to plate it up and then pop it back in the oven to warm for a while.

Use any range of winter root veg you like here, squash and parsnip would be nice added to this recipe for example.  Even potatoes would be awesome

I’m not sure if you’ve ever put lemon on a radish before, check out the transformation.  They get even pinker and the pink leeches and they just look incredible.

If you don’t have fresh thyme, go for other wintery herbs like fresh rosemary or sage.

Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad

The Bits – For 2 as main 

100g pearl barley (rinsed in a colander)

 

2 large beetroots (chopped into wedges)

1 large carrots (thickly sliced)

2 small red onions (chopped into wedges)

6 cloves garlic (whole, skin on)

2 tbs rapeseed or any cooking oil

 

2 radish (finely sliced)

1 apple (cored and cut into wedges)

1 big handful kale (chopped)

 

30g hazelnuts (roasted)

3 tbs fresh thyme leaves

1 lemon (juice)

1 teas rapeseed/olive oil

5 tbs unsweetened soya yoghurt

Salt

Do It
Place your rinsed pearl barley in a saucepan and cover with plenty of water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 mins – 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 220oC.  Place your beetroot, carrot and red onion on a baking tray and toss in a little oil and salt.  Roast for 40 minutes, turning everything at least once. Take out the garlic after about 20 minutes, when its nice and soft.  The hazelnuts will take around 5-10 minutes to roast on a tray in a hot oven.

Toss your apple half the thyme leaves and your radish in a bowl with the juice of half the lemon.

In a bowl, take the skins off your garlic and mash with the back of a spoon, squeeze in half the lemon, a little salt and the yoghurt.  Mix well together.

When your pearl barley is cooked, toss in the kale and stir, cook for a minute and then drain in a colander, pouring over cold water to cool the grains and kale fully.  Alternatively, serve it warm if you prefer.

Arrange the pearl barley on two plates, top with the apples and radish, then the roasted veggies, before spooning over the yoghurt dressing and finishing the dish with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves and hazelnuts.

Foodie Fact

Barley is a great source of minerals and fibre and it may also lower cholesterol.

Categories: healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

Roast Carrot & Ginger Hummus

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Roast Carrot & Ginger Hummus – Get dippin’!

This is a lively one; zesty, colourful and filled with spice.  Ideal for a winter party, sure to brighten things up!  Playing with hummus flavours is something I believe all vegans enjoy, absolutely nothing wrong with the classic, but hummus is one of the tastiest vehicles imaginable for fabulous flavours!  Hummus is important!!  It’s one of those things that we can all cook, and we all have our own take on, some prefer a little more tahini, some more garlic…..

This hummus is not only a great combination of flavours, it’s also filled with all we need at this time of year to keep us shining, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, citrus and of course tahini (we love it!)  I have added a small amount of oil here and think its rich enough, but by all means, add more to make it a really rich treat.  Just sub the water for oil.

I’ll be sharing some more festive recipes soon…..

The Bits – One medium bowlful, For 4-6 for dipping

500g chickpeas (cooked, drained and rinsed)

2 large carrots (roasted and chopped)

1 1/2 teas turmeric

1 teas ground cumin

1/2 teas cinnamon

4 tbs light tahini

2 tbs heaped ginger (finely diced or grated)

2 limes (juice)

50ml olive oil

50ml water

Salt

 

Do It

Add carrots, chickpeas, spices, lime juice, ginger, 1/2 teas salt and tahini to a blender and blitz for a while.  As it’s going, pour in the water and oil.  It is fine a little chunky, but blend for longer if you like a really smooth hummus.  Taste and add salt if needed to really bring out those zingy flavours.

Foodie Fact

There is so many vibrant and healthy ingredients packed into this hummus, it’s difficult to know where to begin with this foodie fact.  Shall we talk about turmeric?  Why not!  Turmeric is a colourful root, that looks a lot like ginger in it’s raw state.  Most of us know that turmeric is an incredible ingredient from a nutritional point of view, here’s a quick low down.  It full of beneficial bits and pieces, loads of iron, vitamin C, magnesium and good amounts of protein and fibre.  I like to sneak turmeric into meals, smoothies etc whenever I can.  Turmeric is also known as an anti-inflammatory and has been said to cure a whole host of ailments.  It is also a very cool colour (which is important;)

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Side Dish, Snacks and Inbetweens, Superfoods, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

Chestnut, Millet & Sage Sausages with Homemade Ketchup

I just felt like a sausage sandwich and these chestnut sausages from ‘Peace & Parsnips‘ are some of my favourite vegan bangers going.  Teamed up with the Rye & Stout Loaf that I just posted and some home made ketchup (recipe is in the book;), made creamy with macadamias or cashews, you’ve got yourself a really top breakfast/ brunch.

I haven’t shared a recipe from the cookbook for a while and thought this one is arriving at an ideal time, a great way to start a chilly morning and these sausages freeze well, so you can make a stock for the freezer to last you through winter.

THE BIG QUESTION – WHAT’S ON THE XMAS MENU?!

I’ll be in Murcia, Spain for Christmas, a tough call, but someone’s got to do it! I’m spending time with family over there and no doubt Mum’s already thinking about Xmas lunch (as am I).

I think these sausages will be made over the festive period, there are huge mountains of local castana’s (chestnuts) down at the local food markets and after a quick roast in an oven, and especially when eaten straight from their shells, it’s one of my favourite tastes of Christmas.

I see Christmas as a great time to try out new things and I’m surprised how chestnuts can be neglected at this time of year, for me, they’re as essential as cranberry sauce or mince pies.

Do you already have one eye on your Xmas menu?  It’s such a feast, a celebration of good food and drink, but I don’t think it necessarily needs to be really unhealthy.  I’m looking at a balance between indulgence and food that makes us shine.  Xmas doesn’t need to be an eating marathon that makes us feel sluggish and heavy all the way to February, I think we can get the best of both worlds.  I know we can get the best of both worlds!!

I’m going to share some recipes with you and there are a few on the BHK already.  Here’s one to get you into the spirit;)  Maple Roasted Parsnip, Walnut & Mushroom Roulade with Cashew Cream Sauce.

Let us know what you have in mind for this Xmas and generally what’s inspiring you in the kitchen, it’s always awesome to hear from you in the comments below.

I love the winter walks in Snowdonia, especially on clear day like this:)

Here’s the intro from Peace & Parsnips:

“Chestnuts seem to have been a little neglected of late, and you rarely see the lonely chestnut roaster on the festive street corner these days. But chestnuts are so plentiful on our island, and can be used in a variety of dishes, both savoury and sweet. They come to life when paired with the robust and earthy sage, and will live with most herbs in harmony. I like to use them in sausages and burgers because they are quite starchy and help with the binding process, which can be a major failing in many vegan sausage and burger recipes. Most vegan sausages/burgers are best cooked straight from the freezer – they hold their shape better that way. The key with vegan sausages/burgers is to be gentle with them in the pan, and don’t mess with them unnecessarily. They just need a precise flip on occasion and they are perfectly happy. To make things easy, you may like to use pre-cooked chestnuts.”

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Chestnut, Millet & Sage Sausages with Homemade Ketchup

The Bits – For 15 small sausages

75g millet

250g cooked chestnuts

300g firm tofu (mashed with a fork)

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

a handful of toasted sunflower seeds

1 onion (grated)

3 cloves of garlic (peeled and minced)

2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh sage

2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 red chilli (deseeded and finely diced)

a large pinch of ground allspice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

150g very fine wholewheat or gluten-free breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon tamari or teaspoon sea salt

Vegetable oil (for frying)

 

To Serve

Homemade raw ketchup (or your favourite sauce)

 

Do It

To cook the millet, put it into a small pan and cover with 2cm of cold water. Bring to the boil, then pop a lid on, lower the temperature and leave to cook for 20 minutes. Fluff up with a fork – the millet should be soft and tender but quite sticky.This is perfectly normal. Allow to cool.

In a food processor, blitz your chestnuts to fine crumbs. Add half the tofu and pulse a few times until quite smooth. In a large bowl, mix the chestnuts and tofu with the rest of the ingredients apart from the vegetable oil. The mixture should be firm enough to form into sausages, slightly tacky to the touch. Check the seasoning and add more tamari or salt if needed.

Using dampened hands, form your sausages, making them look like big chipolatas. Roughly 15 will do, but you may prefer just a few longer ones instead. Place them on a plate and cover lightly with cling film, then pop into the fridge and chill them for 30 minutes (you can also freeze them at this point).Put 1 tablespoon of oil into a large frying pan on a medium heat and fry your sausages for 5minutes, turning them regularly to get a good colour all over.

Serve with a big blob of homemade raw ketchup and some warm toast. And normally I’ll have a few green leaves for the plate. Sausage sandwich, anyone?

Foodie Fact

Chestnuts are best kept in the fridge and are the only nut to contain good levels of vitamin C.  You’ll also find some of the vitamin B’s along with a decent amount of fibre and minerals, especially copper and manganese.  Nut-wise, they are low in fats and are unusually starchy for a nut.

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Join us in Murcia, Spain next year for our blissful vegan cooking and yoga retreat, we have a couple of rooms still available in our beach side villa and we might even get some chestnuts in the oven! 

 

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

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

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