Moroccan Bessara with Harissa Oil – Nourishing Fava Bean Soup/Dip

 

Bessara – Nourishing Moroccan Soup

We’re getting 2018 started with a simple and nourishing dish from Morocco, a country I love and where I first tried this delicious soup.  We’re not long back from Spain, where we sit on beaches looking towards North Africa.  A tenuous link, but its awesome to be back here and blogging!!  After our little break in the sun, we’re topped up with fresh ideas for 2018.

This comforting bowl is ideal for new year, so easy and light, nutritious and flavourful.  It’s also inexpensive and the basic soup only has a handful of ingredients.  It also happens uses fava beans, which as you might know, were one of my favourite things about 2017.  Couldn’t get enough of them.  You can thin this out, or serve it as a dip.  Either way, it’s a dish I cook all the time, a great staple and something I’ve been meaning to put on here for years.  Finally, Bessara!

MOROCCAN MEALS

My favourite memories of Bessara was around 15 years ago (food lives long in my memory) when I was travelling all over Morocco and eventually found a little home in the Rif Mountains.  It was chilly, icy winds whistling through all the buildings, my favourite cafe’s door kept blowing off and was missing a window (but the mint and gunpowder tea and tunes were bang on).  I was lucky to be staying right beside the Hamam (steam baths), which was hewn from a hillside, so the whole area was warmed by the huge wood fires which heated the water.  The same wood fires where people would bring their clay pots of food to be cooked.  Great system there, plus the Hamas are the perfect place to meet people, like a pub really, without the booze and with the heating turned up to Gas Mark 2.  Oh, and the clientele are mostly naked.

Every morning I met some friends and went for Bessara, it makes for a lovely breakfast, and we sat on little rickety benches with all the djellaba wearing locals and morose Mohammed (cook and propietor) sat before two giant vats of bubbling Bessara.  His joint was basically a corrugated steel roof between two wonky buildings, but it was always buzzing and cosy.  It’s a warming soup in more ways than one.  Mohammed’s Bessara was very cheap and served without glee but with fragrant local olive oil and small bowl of fresh cumin and salt on the tables.

The bread man would occasionally whistle past on his push bike and we’d score some fresh bread straight from the bakery, that flat Moroccan bread that you may have tried.  If you’re from the North East, it’s basically stottie cake (more stottie here).  I’ve never been able to find out if there is any relation between the two, my romantic side which easily eclipses any of my other sides, says that yes.  There is.  In the middle ages some sailors from Seaham were blown of course and found themselves sahara bound.  Or maybe it was the crusades?  Either way, great bread and highly recommended with this soup.

PUNCHY DRIZZLE

I love harissa, especially with traditional Moroccan food, so I’ve come up with a zesty and punchy little oil to drizzle over the soup.  You’ll have a little bit leftover no doubt, but I love dipping bread into it to finish it off.  Just keep leftovers sealed in a fridge for a few days.  It’s perfect I think after one day in the fridge, all the spices and flavours settle and mingle.

LOVE THY FAVA

I have some organic Hodmedod split fava beans, they actually have a Bessara recipe on their site!  Great minds!!  Hodmedods were kind enough to send me some of their range, which is awesome, so you’ll be hearing from them more this year.  We love to give shouts out to producers who are doing brilliant things in enlightened ways.  Hodmedods are all about incredible pulses basically and are bringing back many traditional British varieties.  Fava beans are actually traditional in the UK, but I think more of them as a Middle Eastern/ North African ingredient.  We have used them to make traditional Egyptian Falafels (Ta’amia) in the past and they make a delicious hummus.

So a big shukran to Mohamed the mirthless in the Rif Mountains for warming my belly each morning with this classic soup, I wrote his recipe down one day, but it got lost along the way, I’m sure this is a reasonable attempt.  Proper mountain Bessara.  Travelling around Morocco changed my life, my world view and my feelings about stottie cake.  Bismillah!

 

Recipe Notes

By adding 750ml of hot water to the finished Bessara, you’ll have a soup.  As the soup cools, it thickens.

My favourite garnish for this soup is the harissa oil and black olives, maybe a sprinke of dried mint.  Toasted almonds are tasty too, as is fresh mint and you might like a lemon wedge on the scene…..the soup is really like a blank canvas for flavours, simply delicious but easily embellished.

If you are using split fava beans, there is no need to soak them beforehand.

Stirring a few handfuls of greens into this soup just before serving will be delicious and add a health twist and different texture, try spinach, chopped kale or spring greens.

 

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One of my favourite simple Moroccan dishes

Moroccan Bessara Soup with Harissa Oil 

The Bits – For 4 bowls

400g dried fava beans (split broad beans)

6 garlic cloves (peeled and finely sliced)

1.5 ltrs water

2 tbs cumin seeds

1 tbs paprika

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lemon (juice)

Sea salt (to taste)

 

Garnish (optional)

2 handfuls nice black olives (destoned) or toasted almonds (roughly chopped)

Sprinkles dried mint or chilli powder

Extra virgin olive oil (if not using the Harissa oil)

Fresh coriander (chopped)

 

Harissa Oil

The Bits – For one small bowlful

1-2 tbs harissa paste (how hot do you like it?!)

1/2 teas cumin seeds

1 teas coriander seeds

1/2 teas dried mint

1 garlic clove (peeled and crushed)

100ml olive oil

1 lemon (juice)

½ teas sea salt

 

Do It

Rinse the beans well in a colander with cold water.  Place in a large saucepan and cover with 1.5 ltrs of cold water, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and place a lid on.  Leave to cook for around 45 minutes, until soft, stirring occasionally.

Place all the ingredients for the Harissa Oil in a blender and blitz until smooth.  Check the seasoning.

When the beans are about cooked, grab a small frying pan and warm on a medium heat, add your cumin seeds and toast them for a minute, tossing them gently in the pan.  They should begins to release their aroma and change colour slighty.  Place in a pestle and mortar and leave to cool a little, them grind them.  Enjoy the smell!  Taste a smidgen, if they are very bitter, they’re burnt, give them another try.  It’s easily done!

In the same frying pan, add the oil and then the garlic, fry until golden, should take a couple of minutes.  Add the cumin, garlic and paprika to the pan, stir in and simmer for a few minutes, then add the lemon juice and salt.  Check the seasoning, this soup will need a good amount of salt to bring the flavours out.  You might prefer it chunky, but when blended, this soup is velvety smooth.  I prefer it that way.  Use a stick blender.  It’s easiest.

Ladle the Bessara into bowls and top with olives, dried mint and harissa oil, or any of the other options above.  Best with flatbread.

 

Foodie Fact

Fava (very similar to Broad) beans are like all beans, they’re brilliant and protein powerhouses!  Nutritionally, they’ve no cholesterol or saturated fats, have plenty of fibre, vitamin K, B1 and B6, loads of minerals like iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, selenium, potassium and zinc, they even have some calcium.

Some tests have even claimed that fava beans can help with depression, they contain dopamine.

 

 

Categories: Budget, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Side Dish, Soups, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

North Wales

Bookings

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

(£85 after that) 

 

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

Vibrant Vegan! Manchester Healthy Soul Food Cooking Workshop

Learn how to cook with the BHK!  The soul food dishes we all love, made healthy, vegan and delicious!!

We’re VERY excited to announce our latest vegan cooking event in Manchester.  

We’re going to make soul food with a twist; satisfying, tasty and loads of fun!!  We’ve found an excellent venue for a day of hands on cooking with Lee, followed by lunch, where we’ll taste all the dishes we’ve cooked.

Are you looking for new plant-based cooking inspiration for the new year? Lee invites you to get relaxed and happy in the kitchen, and celebrate the diversity of vegan food whilst learning new skills and techniques.  This comprehensive workshop and demonstration is all about cooking in vibrant and creative ways and preparing delicious, colourful food that does us good, is easy to make, and that everyone can enjoy (vegan or not). Big bold flavours, great textures and colours, proper tasty vegan food!

 

What’s on the menu?  Soul food classics:

 

Umami Burger Bites with Mushroom Bacon & Cosmic Slaw

The Ultimate ‘Mac & Jac’ – Baked Sweet Potato Macaroni Cheeze with BBQ Pulled Jackfruit

Mexican Chocolate Brownies with Dulce de Leche (Coconut Caramel Sauce)

Mango & Ginger N’Ice Cream

Cashew & Chipotle Cheese

 

All the dishes are designed to be quick and easy to cook at home.  You’ll also receive a full recipe booklet so you can make notes and take the recipes away to try out for yourself.

Booking directly here!

Some techniques and skills you’ll learn on the day:

 

Making vegan cheese – an easy, rich and creamy set cheese

The Ultimate Umami Bean Burger! – Takes 10 minutes, with only a few ingredients

Vegan Smoky Mushroom Bacon 

Making a creamy and vibrant vegan pasta sauce

Decadent gluten-free blender brownies

2 minute tropical N’ice Cream

Homemade Vegan Mayonnaise

Cooking with jackfruit – Genius ingredient, unique texture

Homemade & healthy BBQ sauce

 

Lee will cover the basics; vegan 101, nutrition, food presentation and some chopping techniques.

This workshop will be high energy, fun and informative. Lee will share his experience and passion for vegan cooking at all times.

We’ll have lunch together at the end, trying all the dishes and get to know each other.  Food Sorcery even has a licensed bar if you’d like to buy a drink, with complimentary tea and coffee available on arrival.

These recipes will give your mind, body and tastebuds a boost, getting you vibrant, inspired and healthy for 2018!

PS – Bring a food container, there will be plenty of leftovers to take home!

 

Timing – 10:30am-2:00pm

 

Venue – Food Sorcery Cooking and Barista School

Waterside Hotel & Leisure Club, Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, M20 5WZ

 

BOOK NOW!

Vibrant Vegan! Healthy Vegan Soul Food – 4th March ’18

£89 

Includes: full tuition, recipe booklet, tea and coffee and three course lunch 

Categories: Cooking demos, Events, healthy, Healthy Eating, plant-based, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Spiced Orange & Almond Upside Down Cake – Vegan and Gluten-free

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Spiced Orange & Almond Polenta Cake – Vegan, Gluten-free

This is just the kind of deliciousness I like at Christmas, something light and rich.  Makes a nice change at this time of year!  One of the highlights for me is the intense spiced marmalade glaze (with or without whiskey;)  This cake can be served as festive dessert with some vegan creme fraiche or cream.

I do enjoy Christmas cake and pud, but they can get a little heavy.  This one is so easy to make and looks lovely, it’s also gluten-free, so it ticks many dietary boxes.  I know that we can be cooking for friends and family at this time of year and catering for dietary requirements.  I love recipes like this, that everyone can enjoy, vegan, gluten-freers and the rest!  It’s just a straight up delicious cake.

You’ll probably get a better, caramelised look in your oven.  I was using a big old oven (looks like an ancient steam train) which is a temperamental creature, ideally, we’re looking for loads of gorgeous caramel all over your oranges.  But either way, it’s a lovely cake.

The only problem I can see with your average polenta cake is that it can be a little dry.  You won’t have that issue with this recipe as the oranges sit on top and keep the cake nice and moist.  You can also use blood oranges (which I couldn’t get hold of), pears, apples, pineapple, plums, in fact most fruit will be great on top of this almond and polenta base.   The polenta means that you get a nice crust on this cake, soft in the middle, crisp on the outside is always a good combo in my book.

I’ve had a really nice couple of weeks, whizzing all over the UK cooking and enjoying.  One of the highlights was walking along the tip of Cornwall, near Land’s End.  There were rainbows out at sea, the waves were huge and ferocious and the coastline jagged and epic.  The wind was incredible and it seemed like I had the whole coastline to myself.  Afterwards, I enjoyed the obligatory pastie, I was amazed to see how many vegan options there are in Cornwall.  I also managed to check out some cool locations for cooking retreats in ’18.  More info to come soon……

Cape Cornwall – Stunning!!

If you’re looking for some Christmas recipes, here’s a few we think you’ll like:

 

maple roasted parsnip, walnut & mushroom roulade with cashew cream sauce

boozy snowball truffles

roast winter vegetable salad

parsnip, cranberry & chestnut roast

oven baked squash gnocchi with sun-dried tomatoes, fennel & spinach pesto

festive pear & cranberry chutney

cauliflower hearts, hazelnut, creamy asparagus sauce

decadent double chocolate cake 

braised cauliflower & puy lentil tabouleh

ginger & chocolate treats (simple festive fun)

 

This will be my last post before Christmas ’18, I’m just leaving to Spain, so I must scoot.  Thanks to everyone for the support, inspiration and love in 2017!  You really make the BHK a very special place to be!!  Have a peaceful and chilled Christmas filled with tasty nibbles.  Let us know what’s cookin’ in the comments below?

Love and Happiness, Lee & JaneX

Recipe Notes

This cake is not a big riser, but it should still be light.

The texture of this cake is moist, when checking it during baking, bare this in mind.  There is a difference between moist and sticky/ raw.  You can tell when you check it with a skewer, there should be nothing that looks like raw cake batter on the skewer.   I hope that makes sense;)

If you are using other fruit, feel free to freestyle with the glaze.  Using other jams for example is a really nice idea to compliment the fruit.

Because of the fresh fruit, this cake does not keep well.   I guess you’ll just need to polish it off quickly (don’t worry, this is easily done:)

 

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Spiced Orange & Almond Upside Down Cake

The Bits – For 8-10 slices

4 mandarins

125ml light rapeseed/ olive oil

100g light brown sugar

150g ground almonds

80g polenta

1 lime or ½ lemon (juice)

1 teas baking powder

½ teas turmeric

1 teas vanilla extract

2 tbs ground flax/ chia seeds (mixed with 5 tbs water)

 

A little light brown sugar (for dusting)

 

Glaze

5 tbs marmalade

2 star anise

4 cloves

2 green cardamom pods (cracked)

2 tbs whiskey (optional but nice)

 

Do It

Line and oil the base and sides of a 8 inch cake tin with baking parchment.  Lightly dust the base and side of your cake tin with sugar.  Preheat oven to 180oC.

 

Zest one of the mandarins, neatly peel the rest and slice across into ⅔ cm slices.  Pick out any seeds.   Lay the slices over the bottom of the tin and fill in the gaps with segments if needed.  Beat together the oil and sugar and add the orange zest, lime juice, almonds, polenta, baking powder, turmeric, vanilla extract and flax seeds.  Mix until combined well.  Pour the batter into your cake tin.  Smooth the top.    

 

Bake on a middle shelf for 25-30 minutes, until the cakes top is golden brown and springy.  Test with a skewer and remember this is a moist cake, so there will be more stickiness than a normal cake when testing.

 

While it’s baking, warm the marmalade and spices in a small pan, boil for a minute and then set aside.   

 

Leave the cake to cool and turn out of the pan onto a serving plate/ platter.  Brush with the marmalade (easiest to do when warm).  Decorate with the spices if you like and serve with vegan creme fraiche or ice cream.  

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, gluten-free, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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: , , , | 3 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

Pickled Jalapenos – Easy & Quick Way to Pickle

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Pickled Jalapenos – The easiest way to pickle

This is a legendary way to spice up your winter burgers, burritos or pizza (?!) plus homemade pickled jalapenos are way, way better than shop bought.  When not pickled, I even like ’em in a smoothie, something like kale, banana and apple, is awesome with a few slices of jalapeno, great also paired with pineapple.

You can take this recipe wherever you like flavouring wise, add spices or herbs, but I went for simple garlic with a little tickle of ginger.  Maybe some chipotle or other Mexican dried chillies, I wonder how that would go, never tried it…. let me know!

Use this method of pickling for most veggies, it’s a really simple way to preserve and enhance the flavours in vegetables.  For some strange reason, they were selling off jalapenos for pennies at our local shop in Caernarfon, I snapped them up and knew exactly where they were heading.  Jane is not a massive chilli fan, so having a jar of jalapenos in the fridge is perfect for me, I pop in there every now and again to add a little zing to dishes, of course, these will light up anything remotely Mexican.  They are surely one of the most legendary Mexican ingredients.

When I love a dish, I always want to find a way to make it myself.  These pickled are something I first really got a taste for in Mexico, I especially like the big jars of pickles in most street food style eateries, called ‘Escabeche’, huge jars of things like carrots, radishes, cauliflowers and onion.  A perfect lift to go with the rich Mexican dishes.  You can make ‘Escabeche’ like this, maybe add some black peppercorns to the mix.

These chillies will be nice served with our Cashew & Kale Black Bean Mole with Tofu Bacon or Mexican Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa.

Recipe Tips

I said this will work for most veggies, which is true, but with watery vegetables like cucumber, it’s best to salt them first.  Rub some salt into them and leave them to drain over a colander for an hour or so then rinse well.  This removes a good amount of the water and makes for more intense pickles.

If you leave the seeds in, expect fireworks!  In a good way if you’re a chilli head.  Take them out for milder, more placid results.

I love pickled garlic, so I’ve added a load of garlic cloves.  They mellow when pickled and are really crunchy and lovely.  If you’re not a fan, just omit them and add more chillies.

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Pickled Jalapenos

The Bits – One large jarful

14 jalapeno chillies (sliced)

 

175ml white wine/ distilled white vinegar

175ml water

8 or as many as you like garlic cloves (peeled and whole)

2 bay leaves

4 slices fresh ginger

2 tbs sugar

1/2 tbs sea salt

Do It

In saucepan, add all the ingredients, bar the chillies.  Stir and bring to a boil, making sure the sugar is dissolved.  Add the chillies and leave to cool for 15 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, pack your chillies, garlic and ginger into a clean jar, pour over enough pickling brine to cover.  Seal the jar and leave in the fridge and enjoy!  You can eat them straight away, but they’re better after a day or two.

The chillies will be quite happy in the fridge for a few weeks.

 

Foodie Fact

Chillies are full, full, full of Vitamin C.  Perfect for a boost in the winter.  They are also rich in vitamin A and K, they even have a little fibre going on.

 

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 4 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

Gado Gado – Indonesian Seasonal Salad with Kickin’ Zesty Peanut Sauce

I’m trying to prove that you can eat salads in winter!!  The sun is still shining!  What a beautiful autumn we’ve had here in Wales.  Here’s a seasonal salad with a seriously zesty and creamy sauce, a taste of autumn and early winter given a very Indonesian twist.

Some of the vegetables in Gado Gado can be served warm, which makes it idea for autumn, it is also so colourful and takes advantage of all those incredible veggies that are about at the minute.

Gado gado (or Lotek) is something you find all over Indonesia and basically means ‘mix-mix’, we travelled all over Indonesia last year and found that it changed most times we ate it.  We’ve added roasted veggies instead of steamed/ boiled and some of our favourite, colourful local organic veg.

Gado Gado vendour, Sulawesi, Indonesia

We use what is to hand for this salad, what is seasonal and looking great, with new potatoes and the thick peanut dressing, this seems to be the way things are done in Indonesia too.  The veggies may change but the POW of the amazing sauce is a constant.

You can use any mix of veggies really, in Indonesia, potatoes always figure, with things like cabbage, jackfruit, bitter melon, corn, beansprouts, spinach, the list is long and tasty.  It’s normally topped with something crispy, like fried rice crackers or deep fried shallots.  We’ve kept it super healthy and gone for some toasted pumpkin seeds instead.  Not traditional, but packed with nutrition and gorgeous flavour.

SULAWESI STYLE

I think our favourite Gado Gado was in a small town in the North of Sulawesi.  One man was making it with such care at a warung (street food stand) and we ate it on the street on a little table with a group of lovely people, all giving us their top Gado Gado tips.  It’s one of those dishes that is a real institution and everyone has their favourite quirk and twist with it.  I love the way it’s so flexible and easy to make.

Gado Gado is a great option for a vegan traveller around Indonesia, its filling nutritious and will sometimes come with two of my Indonesia favourites; tempeh and tahu (tofu).  They are everywhere, on each street corner, you’ll bump into a lump of tofu!  We even visited a remote village that was all about tofu, check it out – Visiting Tofu Village – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

It’s fair to say that Indonesia captured our hearts, we loved travelling around and the people were amazingly friendly and hospitable.  The food is also sensational and is one of those cuisines that hasn’t really taken off here in the UK, at least not like Thai or Vietnamese food.  I would say that it’s a fascinating cuisine to explore and Gado Gado is at the very tip of an intensely tasty tree, and if you’re vegan, Indonesia will teach you all you need to know about making tofu and tempeh taste amazing (little tip, great sauces and marinades).

Recipe Notes

Gado Gado normally comes with the thick sauce poured over the dish, a very generous quantity normally.  I like to see the lovely veggies and therefore drizzle the sauce on the base of the plate/ shallow bowl and then have some more around for people to drizzle on top.

We use cooked beans and roasted veggies here, you can serve them warm of cold.  The contrast of raw veg and warm is nice and the sauce comes alive even more with a little heat.

If you can’t track down tamarind, just add a little more citrus.

Aduki beans are also really nice with this salad.  We use beans to substitute tofu or tempeh when we don’t have any.  Nice bit of protein!

Gado Gado – Indonesian Seasonal Salad with Kickin’ Zesty Peanut Sauce

The Bits – For 4

Salad 

450g new potatoes (cooked and chopped)

300g mung or other beans (cooked)

4 big handfuls roasted veggies (we used golden and purple beetroot, squash and onion)

1/2 green pepper (sliced)

1/2 yellow pepper (sliced)

2 big handfuls red cabbage (finely sliced)

2 ripe tomatoes (diced)

1/2 cucumber (diced)

4 Brussels Sprouts (finely sliced)

 

Topping

½ bunch fresh coriander (leaves picked off) or mint leaves (sliced)

1 hot red chilli (finely sliced)

4 tbs toasted pumpkin seeds

 

Extra something crispy – fried wonton wrappers, cassava crisps. Traditionally prawn crackers (krukuk) are used.

 

Peanut Sauce

130g peanut butter (crunchy or smooth is fine)

3 tbs coconut cream (that’s the cream from a tin of coconut milk)

30-40g palm sugar or brown sugar

1 large clove garlic (crushed)

1 tbsp / 1 inch ginger or galangal (peeled and chopped)

1-2 red chillies

2 limes (juice)

2 tbs tamari or good soya sauce

1 tablespoon tamarind paste

Salt (to taste)

2 tbsp water (more if needed to thin)

 

Do It

In a bowl or food processor (easier), mix/blitz the peanut sauce ingredients (except the lime) until a thick sauce forms, adding water if needed to thin it out.
Place sauce in a small saucepan and warm gently. Taste and season with salt if needed then stir the lime juice in. The sauce should be nice and smooth creamy and with a real lime zing.

Spoon the sauce around the outside of the base of a shallow bowl. Arrange all the other vegetables over the sauce however you like it, then sprinkle with all the other toppings, coriander, chillies and seeds and serve.

Foodie Fact 

You may know that peanuts are really high in protein, but did you know they are very high in copper?!  We need copper in our diet to to help us absorb iron and it also helps with red blood cells, nerves, bones and the immune system.  Aren’t we amazing!!  They are also a great source of healthy fats and even anti-oxidants.

Sulawesi is one of the most beautiful places we’ve been in the world.

Want to learn how to cook vegan?  Looking for more plant-based inspiration? 

Check out our events page for workshops and retreats or our recipe page for…..recipes🙂

If you’d like to read more about our Indonesian travels here’s a couple of posts:

Street Eats and Delicious Days – Our Indonesian holiday snaps

Jungle Kopi Culture – Sampling Indonesia’s coffee revolution

Categories: Autumn, Dressings, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Salads, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Vibrant Vegan! Healthy Global Cooking Workshops, 3rd & 4th February ’18 Hackney, London

We’re VERY excited to announce our latest BHK vegan cooking event down in London!

Are you looking for new plant-based cooking inspiration for the new year?  Lee invites you to get healthy and happy in the kitchen, and celebrate the diversity of vegan food whilst learning new skills and techniques.  

These comprehensive, hands-on, workshops are all about cooking in vibrant and creative ways and preparing delicious food that does us good, is easy to make, and that everyone will enjoy.  Big bold flavours, great textures and colours, proper tasty vegan food!

The dishes are all gluten-free and mainly using organic ingredients, some that Lee will bring from his local farm in Wales. 

The daily themes for the Vibrant Vegan! weekend will be: 

Saturday – HEALTHY VEGAN JUNK FOOD

All the textures, treats and flavours of fast food, but good for you!  We’ll start with a Cacao & Kale Mudslide Smoothie, then for lunch, Miso & Shiitake Ramen Bowl, Mac & Jack – BBQ Pulled Jackfruit with Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese, plus a quick Rainbow Sauerkraut. Dessert will be Mexican Chocolate Brownies with Dulce de Leche and Mango N’Ice Cream.  We’ll also learn a simple and inexpensive technique to make your own Chickpea Tofu.

Sunday – INDIAN FEAST DAY

Lee has travelled to India many times and is passionate about all things Indian food.  We’ll be cooking some of his favourite recipes picked up on his travels.  The day will start with a Rooibos & Almond Masala Chai, then for lunch we’ll make Squash & Cashew Butter Masala Curry, Thoran – Keralan Coconut Stir-Fry, Masoor Daal Tadka, a quick pickle and raita, plus a decadent raw dessert with Almond & Cardamom Biscotti and Smoky Cashew Cheese.  You’ll also learn a technique to make the perfect spiced rice.  Every time!

Some techniques and skills you’ll learn over the weekend:

  • Making vegan cheese – an easy, rich and creamy set cheese
  • Gluten-free baking techniques – all the flavour and texture, just without the gluten
  • Making chickpea tofu – inexpensive and delicious
  • Decadent raw dessert – healthy but you’d never guess!
  • Simple, healthy and quick masala curry and creamy pasta sauces
  • 2 minute n’ice cream
  • Macrobiotic salad
  • Super food smoothie – the best way to greet the morning
  • Cooking with jackfruit – Genius ingredient, unique texture
  • Nourishing 5 minute Japanese style soup
  • Homemade & healthy BBQ sauce
  • Spicy, warming chai
  • Perfect rice cooking
  • Quick South Indian stir fry
  • Simple & soulful daal making    

 

Each day, Lee will cover the basics; vegan 101, nutrition, food presentation and some chopping techniques. 

These workshops will be high energy, fun and informative.  Lee will share his experience and passion for vegan cooking at all times plus you will receive a bespoke recipe booklet to take home and give the recipes a try for yourself.     

We’ll have lunch together, trying all the dishes and getting to know each other. 

These recipes will give your mind, body and tastebuds a boost, getting you vibrant, inspired and healthy for 2018!  


 

Timing – 11am-5pm  

Venue – Made In Hackney, London, N16 6PA

 

We’ve purposely kept the groups small, so book early!

 

~BOOKINGS – SOLD OUT~

Healthy Vegan Junk Food 3rd Feb ’18 

Indian Vegan Feast 4th Feb ’18  

Special Weekend Offer 3rd & 4th Feb ’18

Please email us – hellobeachhousekitchen@gmail.com

to be put onto the waitlist, we may get a cancellation:)

Categories: Cooking demos, Events, gluten-free, healthy, plant-based, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Simple Black Bean & Pumpkin Curry

 

 

We had this for breakfast! Might not be everyones bowl of morning happiness but Jane and I love curry for brekkie, a pleasant habit we picked up at train stations and little bus stops in India. We wanted the all-time classic ‘Chana Masala’, but we didn’t have chickpeas!? What’s going on there?!! I feel like I have failed our household. Still, it lead to this creation which I was so pleased with, I felt the urge to share and write and celebrate the beauty of a simple curry.

SPICY WAKE UP CALL

We were getting tired of the smoothies and bowls of nuts and fruits and things routine, we wanted some SPICE in our early, sleepy eyed life!  When the grey tickles us, as it can at this time of year, we need to put some rainbow flavours and magic into our food.  Spices are magic dust right?!  Does any food have as much pizazz and down right tastiness as a deep and potent curry?  It can enliven the senses.  The sheer complexity of flavours mingling and merging, having a massive party all over your taste buds?  This curry doesn’t have to be eaten for brekkie, but do let us know if you try.  Ditch the fry up this Sunday AM and get spicy!!

I’ve been to India many times, it has become my second home.  I love living a life of contrasts, living on a hill in middle of nowhere, slightly mossy, Wales, straight to the honking depths of down town Delhi, thats my kind of contrast.  Mix things up.  Keep things vibrant and interesting.   For me, India is the country with everything going on within its borders, travel there is rich.  I know I go on about the food all the time, but, it is incredible.  Consistently.  Mind boggling in variety.  Like I’ve died and gone to a Dhaba.

Intensely orange – Pumpkin this time of year they be.

HIDDEN TREASURES (AND PICKLES)

If you’re looking for the best spices and Indian/ Pakistani/ Bangladeshi/ Nepalese etc ingredients, I recommend a regular visit to your local Asian shop/ supermarket.  It’s where all the best ingredients will be hiding and normally for very reasonable prices.  I find them a perfect location for spice worship.  Eastern cooking treasure troves, designed for real food lovers to disappear into for days, reappearing with carfull’s of fantastic ingredients, pickles and inspiration.

I say, take the afternoon off and have a good luck around, ask for help and guidance.  For me they’re like a flavour library for a cook, sifting through the ingredients and always finding something new and interesting to take home and play with in the kitchen.

The curry powder we used here was recommended to us by an Indian man in one of my favourite Asian supermarkets in Newcastle.  He wasn’t wrong, its brilliant, fiery and fragrant.  Curry powder has a bit of a bad name, but its just the same as any spice mix like bharat, ras el hanout etc.  If you buy a decent one, it works well.  Of course, making your own is the holy grail of any spice enthusiast.  But having the time and means to do that can be a challenge.  This is a quick dish, so lets keep it simple.

This is no traditional curry, but its not far off.  I’ve made this curry super easy for you, I’d love you to cook and enjoy it!  With only two spice mixes, garam masala and curry powder, which most of you will have knocking about in your cupboards and a quick cooking time.

If you don’t have the spice mixes, just try making your own up using things like turmeric, cumin and coriander for the curry mix, adding a little cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom for the garam masala.  Could be a very nice experiment!  I add red lentils to thicken the sauce up and make things hearty and substantial.  I used pumpkin, because its their ultra orange time of year, but use any vegetables you like here and a nice idea is stirring some greens in just before serving, a couple of handfuls of spinach leaves is cool.

In Nirvana, this is breakfast!

India, we miss you!x

Recipe Notes

I like the curry quite thin, more a thick daal than a chunky curry. Better for dipping warm chappatis into!  The lentils will just keep sucking up the water, so just keep some warm water handy when cooking, preferably a recently boiled kettle (easier) and top up the water as you fancy.

Mash it up!! Your garlic and ginger and chilli as best you can, blending them or whacking them in a pestle and mortar is best.  Releasing all their vibrant potential.

Leaving the curry to cool slighty, let it sit for 10 minutes with a lid on, will help the flavours to mix and mingle, get deep and meaningful.

I’ve gone easy on the chillies because Jane is anti-chilli, but you go wild if you like!

The lemon and coriander to finish are extras, but the lemon especially, will add a lovely citrus twist to the generally sweet curry, it also seems to re-vitalise the spices a little, bring the flavours to some kind of glorious crescendo!!!!  Swadishtx

The chickpea chapatis in the photos are made by whisking some gram flour, water and salt together, until a double cream texture forms, and frying in a little oil.  Simple, gluten-free, healthy, tasty…….

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Simple Black Bean & Pumpkin Curry  Serving suggestion – eat outside, in a garden.

Simple Black Bean & Pumpkin Curry
The Bits – For 2

1 small onion (sliced)
1/2 tbs cooking oil

3 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
1 inch ginger – roughly 1 heaped tbs (finely grated)
1/2-1 green chilli (finely diced)

250g black beans
75g red lentil – 1 big handful (washed)

200g squash/ pumpkin – 2 handfuls (diced)
300ml hot water
2 tomatoes (chopped and mashed)
1 heaped tbs tomato puree
1 teas salt
1 1/2 tbs curry powder

1 heaped tbs garam masala

Roughly 2 teas lemon juice

Handful chopped coriander (optional one for the coriander lovers out there)

 

Do It

In a large sauce pan, fry the onions until they are texture like sun (golden brown), then stir in your garlic, ginger and chilli, stir and fry for a minute and then add the lentils, beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, curry powder, squash, water and stir together.  Bring to a boil.

Cook on a fast simmer for 10 minutes with a lid on, stirring occasionally to stop the lentils sticking to the bottom. Add your garam masala and cook for 5 minutes more.  Stir in a little more water if its getting too thick.

Once the squash is nice and soft, stir in the lemon juice, check seasoning and serve. If you like coriander, sprinkle some chopped coriander over the dish. I like it with warm chapatis or chickpea chapatis, dip them in and enjoy!  I also served it with some green mango pickle.  One of my favs.

 

Foodie Fact

Pumpkin is full, full of good things.  Especially this time of year when they’re bang on seasonal and hopefully quite local.  Very orange, means goodness.  Lots of vitamin A, one cup contains 200% of your daily need.  You’ll be seeing in the dark in no time.  It’s got loads of fibre and pumpkin is also said to keep our skin shining.  Bananas are famous potassium sources, but pumpkin actually has considerably higher levels of potassium than bananas.  Vitamin C, also in the mix somewhere, they’re just one of the best things we can eat at this time of year and throughout winter.   Superstars!!

PS – Please don’t throw away the seeds, clean them off and roast them for a while in an oven.  You will not regret the slightly time consuming picking orange gloop off them.

 

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Categories: Autumn, Curries, Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Drunken Cherries – Autumnal Livener!

Drunken Cherries

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

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

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

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

Beautiful Snowdonia – October is a spectacular month over here

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

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

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

Macerating cherries brings out some surprising flavours

Recipe Notes

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

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

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Drunken Cherries

 

The Bits – Makes enough for one medium kilner jar

700g cherries (pitted and cut in half)

½ bottle brandy

2 handfuls sugar (to taste)

 

Do It

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

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

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

Hiking in Snowdonia near Moel Siabod

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book your space now

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

Some concessionary places may be available, please ask.

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

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Cups

This deep and rich chocolate mousse recipe is simple and decadent, always a good mix!  This is a go to recipe for a quick and stunning dessert that no one can resist.  Top with your favourite, colourful things and serve in cups/ glasses and you have a lovely looking dessert with minimum fuss.

We made a dessert, very much like this, in London at the weekend at our Global Vegan event and cooking demo at Vegfest.  We had a blast and one thing I’ve noticed with this dessert is very clean glasses.  There is rarely any leftovers and you know its good when people are carefully scraping their glasses out with their spoons.  Good food can really transport us to a happy place, we switch off from the outside world and all we really care about is dessert!   We become consumed by chocolate, we are lost in mousse!!

A food processor is fine here, but a blender is probably better to get the mousse really smooth and shiny.  I’ve been playing for a while with my vegan/ gluten-free biscotti recipe and it is getting there.  I may well share it soon, I need another few more tasting sessions first!  A bit of crunch is perfect with the mousse, scooping up the mousse with a biscotti is something outrageous!

Recipe Notes

You can also use silken tofu (drained) to make this mousse.  Replace a similar quantity for the avocadoes or use a mixture of the two.  Both will give a lovely plant-based creaminess.

I don’t like my mousse too sweet, you may need a little more sweetness, give it a taste before serving and add more maple syrup as needed.  Use any sweetener you like, but I love the combo of maple syrup and dark chocolate.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

To make sure you don’t waste a drop of your mousse, use a rubber spatula to scrape out your food processor/ blender.

Adding a large pinch of chilli powder is a nice idea here, takes it in a slightly Mexican direction which I love.

For your topping, think about contrasting colours and textures.  Pistachios are perfect because they’re delicious, bright and GREEN.  They always look great.

Don’t forget the little twist of salt, it really deepens the chocolate flavour.

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Rich Chocolate Mousse

The Bits – For 4-6

4 ripe avocados
1/2 cup cacao/ cocoa
3/4 cup almond/ other plant milk (unsweetened)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
Large pinch sea salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs coconut oil (melted, but cooled to room temperature)

Topping
Scattering of berries and toasted flaked almonds, sliced strawberry, amaretti biscuit, almond biscotti, pomegranate and pistachio…..whatever your favourite toppings are or what is to hand.

Do It

Place all ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth.  This may take a few attempts of stopping the blender and scraping down the sides with a blender.

Refrigerate for a few hours to thicken or can be enjoyed straight away.

The dark chocolate mousse goes perfectly with something crispy and sweet, like a biscotti, wafer or amaretti biscuit.

Foodie Fact 

Cacao is unrefined chocolate.  Simple and stunningly healthy.  It comes normally in powder form, but can also be found in cacao ‘nibs’.  Cacao is full of anti-oxidants and as you may know, eating chocolate releases endorphins, makings us more happy, shiny people:)

If you like this recipe and want to see more BHK cooking and tips, join our Facebook cooking group here

Categories: Desserts, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Global Vegan & Vegfest – Our big weekend in London

I’m just preparing for what is going to be a big weekend for the Beach House Kitchen. We’re heading to the big smoke for some fun and cooking!

We’re getting a car load of tasty ingredients ready for our events, we’re transporting the Beach House Kicthen to London this weekend!

Starting with the Global Vegan Cooking demonstration and lunch on Saturday. We’ve a few tickets left, but we’ve nearly got an arch full (the event will be in Sunshine Arts Centre, their main room is a railway arch!) We love it!! We’ll be cooking lots of global vegan recipes and having a mezze lunch.

Then on Sunday we’re off to Vegfest, a huge vegan festival in London. We were there two years ago and had a great time. We’ll be doing a cooking demonstration at 2pm, can’t wait to see all the new vegan foodie products and ideas and hopefully see some of Will Tuttle’s talk.  Not to mention meet lots of amazing new people. 

If we don’t see you there, I’m sure there will be a few pictures to share next week;)

Categories: Cooking demos, Events, healthy, Healthy Eating, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Charred Fig & Rocket Salad with Lemon Tofu Feta

 

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Photo by Al Richardson

This is a salad for all those who can’t say goodbye to summer just yet!  Figs seem all of a sudden plentiful in the UK.  I’m seeing them in most shops I go to.  I love cooking figs, so sweet and fragrant, and I can think of a few nice things to do with them, but charring them slightly and serving them with a crispy and lively salad is one of my favourites.

This is an original recipe from Peace & Parsnips, I rarely cook recipes from the past, I’m too busy creating new ones normally, but this is a winner and I really like the tofu feta and flavour combos.  I normally make tofu feta by simply crushing the drained firm tofu with herbs and other flavourings, but cooking it briefly in a pan here intensifies the flavours even more.

I’m very happy when eating figs, but must admit, most of the year only eat them dried.  I love the way they can be incorporated into traditionally savoury dishes like salads and they are perfect when mixed with a little spice and wholegrains.

I remember in Morocco living off figs for a few days in the mountains (which was not a great idea, they are full of oxalates), as a veggie back then, there was not a great deal to eat and I was really rural, up in the Atlas mountains hiking with some Berber musicians.  I bought figs on long ropes, big fig snakes, that I kept hanging from my backpack.  Whenever I needed a nibble, I just plucked one off the rope.  It was a great snack.

Experiences like that make me a little sentimental about some foods and figs do bring back loads of good memories.  Still, this is quite a long way from this dish which was influenced by my times picking grapes and travelling through France.  One of  the stand out dishes of that time was a meal prepared in the Loire region, a salad with charred figs that I’ll always remember.  I felt so grateful that the chef prepared a special dish just for me.

Most of you know that Jane and I can normally be found tucked away somewhere in Snowdonia, or travelling the less beaten path somewhere in the world, but this recipe found its way over to the food section of the Washington Post!   It’s incredible to see the food that we are passionate about in the Beach House in newspapers and blogs around the world.

Joe Yonan’s version of our ‘Charred Fig & Rocket Salad with Lemon Tofu Feta’ from The Washington Post

So this is a very healthy twist on a traditional feta salad that can be bulked out by adding more toasted nuts (cobnuts would be perfect!) and maybe some white beans would be nice, even mix in something like orzo or oven baked polenta…..ok, I’m getting carried away now!  It’s ideal for an autumn lunch, as we’re just hanging onto the sunshine and warmth in the UK and getting ready for the big, sustaining stews and soups of winter.  I say, get in the fresh figs while you can!

Recipe Notes

As we all know, figs are precious!  They are delicate and should always be handled and stored with care.  Give them a gentle squeeze when you buy them to check that they’re not too soft.

Figs are best washed just before you use them, because they can be so delicate, it’s best to cut them with a sharp knife.  Eat them within a few days of purchasing.

If you don’t have a griddle pan for the figs, a nice frying pan will do the trick.

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Charred Fig & Rocket Salad with Lemon Tofu Feta

The Bits – Serves 4

3 handfuls of rocket leaves
handful of fresh basil leaves
6 ripe figs, quartered
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Lemon tofu feta
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
juice of ½ a lemon
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon olive oil
400g firm tofu, well drained, crumbled
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
large pinch of sea salt
pinch of cracked black pepper

Lemon dressing
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon brown rice syrup
½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

 

Do It

To make the tofu feta, put the nutritional yeast flakes into a bowl with the lemon juice and zest and leave to dissolve.
Heat the oil in a small frying pan on a medium heat and add the tofu and garlic. Pan-fry until slightly golden, then add the lemon mix, salt and pepper, bring to the boil and cook until the lemon juice has evaporated. Spoon into a bowl and allow to cool. Check that it’s just a little too salty, like feta.

To make the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, syrup, vinegar, salt and extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl.
Mix the rocket and basil leaves together in a bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the dressing over the leaves and toss together. Keep the rest of the dressing for further dipping and drizzling.

Warm a griddle pan on a high heat and brush with a little oil. Just as the oil begins to smoke, place your figs widthways in the pan. Allow to cook for 2 minutes, basting them with balsamic vinegar as you go.Turn them when well caramelized, then remove the now sticky figs from the heat.

Scatter the leaves beautifully on plates, and top with the warm figs, a couple of spoons of the tofu feta and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts.

 

Foodie Fact 

Apparently figs are one of the worlds oldest trees.  They are high in minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron and are a great source of anti-oxidants like vitamin A, E and K.  They also have a lot of fibre.

 

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Lunch, Nutrition, Peace and Parsnips, plant-based, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Top 10 tips for new vegans

Travelling around, meeting and cooking for new vegans and the vegan-curious, reminds me how tough it can be at first.  Many people ask me for some tips to get started, so here’s my top ten.

Changing the way we live and have eaten is not something that happens overnight for most of us.  There are may ways of approaching this transition, but here are a few tips from my experience that can make things easier and result in a new healthy and positive lifestyle.

What vegans eat!  Huge burgers packed with flavour – recipe here.

VEGAN FOR ALL

Eating a vegan diet has never been so accessible and popular. Many of us now realise that it can be such a healthy and vibrant way to feed ourselves and our loved ones. Eating vegan minimises the suffering of animals, drastically cuts pollution and can open up a lifestyle that is based on compassion and greater awareness.  Yes, we do have to read the ingredients on packets and meal planning will take a little more thought at first, but these things seem minor when we take into account how much benefit we can do for animals, the planet and, with a balanced vegan diet, ourselves.  Vegans generally have lower cholesterol, body fat, risks of type-2 diabetes, cancer and blood pressure.  It’s a no lose situation and it doesn’t have to be difficult.

MY STORY

I was a vegetarian for years before becoming vegan and the transition was an instant thing.  I watched a documentary and that was it.  I was down to only occasionally eating cheese, but when I realised that there is no major difference between the meat and dairy industry as far as the cruelty to animals, I dropped the Christmas day Stilton for good.  It just didn’t seem worth it.  As things go, looking back, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I hope these tips help in your transition to a more peaceful and totally delicious way of living.

Going vegan seems to be infectious, I look around me, years later, and see many people I know and family members giving the lifestyle a go or at least cutting back on meat and dairy.  I didn’t have to say anything, I just cooked!

So here’s my Top 10 tips:

1 – Easy does it… – I think it’s unreasonable to suggest that we all go vegan overnight.  For most people, a transition period is needed.  Start to incorporate vegan staples into your life and try out your new batch of vegan staple recipes, things that are quick, healthy, easy and filling that can replace all your favourites; things like lentil spag bol, shepherd-less pie, macaroni cheeze, bakes/ casseroles, stews, salads, soups, curries, omelettes, pizza, cakes and cookies.  These are the old school favourites that are easy to prepare and we know, most people love.  They are also awesome when made vegan, everyone loves them!

Also, try out some vegan staple ingredients like nutritional yeast flakes, tofu, tempeh, nut butters, sweet potato, hummus, seitan, jackfruit; these are all interesting new additions to anyones diet and with the correct cooking, are delicious and nutritious.  Of course, who doesn’t love a bit of avocado on toast.  Avocado is an ingredient I find most vegans love to use.

You’ll find over 200 of our vegan recipes here.  

If you are struggling at first, maybe start with one day at a time and expand on that.  Say, Tuesday I’m all vegan, see how it goes and if you run into issues, see how you could avoid them.  Most people find it easy at home, but at work or when travelling/ eating out, slip up.  Slipping up is cool, don’t beat yourself up about anything, but there are lessons to be learned there and it normally involves planning a little better.  Calling restaurants in advance to check about vegan options, travelling with vegan snacks, taking out packed lunches/ dinners.  It’s also sometimes a case of just being happy with whats on offer, if its only chips and a salad, no problems.  By mentioning that you are vegan, the staff/ management will become aware of their growing need to adapt.  Sometimes I may write an email if there are no vegan options and it’s a restaurant that I like.

2- Try a plan – I’m no great planner, but I know they can help and will certainly assist with your weekly shopping, as you begin to seek out and buy new ingredients.  A vegan diet is in no way more expensive than any other, but you may need to gradually re-stock your cupboards with some new and exciting ingredients, keeping a good stock of fresh fruit and veg, dried fruit, nuts/ seeds, wholegrains and beans.  Plan a little extra time for cooking vegan dishes, it will take time to learn new techniques and there can be a few more ingredients to play with in the kitchen.

You could think about trying out Veganuary, I know many people who have used it as a base to go vegan long term.  There is loads of support and inspiration there.  Also, the Vegan Society have a 30 day vegan pledge that is well thought out and has all the nutritional information you could need.  For the record, a balanced vegan diet, based around fresh fruit and vegetables, pulses, nuts, dried fruits and whole grains is going to give your body and mind amazing nutrition, but I’d recommend your read more about vegan nutrition on the Vegan Society website.   The information there is easy to follow and practical.

I don’t know about you, but I love to learn more about the foods that I eat, the fuel for my body, and how it affects my health.   Nutritional deficiencies are an issue across the board, not just solely for vegans, there is a lot of misleading studies and articles out there; calcium, iron, omega fats and protein can all be readily found in a vegan diet.  Read up on Vitamin D, Iodine and B12 would be my advice.

All the nutrients without the animals

3- Fill up – When you’re getting used to a vegan diet, many people say that they feel hungry.  This is where I’d say fill up on high protein and carb foods.  Things like pulse/ legumes, nuts and seeds, tofu, tempeh, seitan, quinoa etc are all high in protein.  I guess the idea is to not just drop the meat or dairy from meals, but replace it with something nutritious and plant-based.

If you feel fatigued and weak at first, this will pass, remember that many athletes are now vegan and praise the diet for enhancing their recovery times and overall performance.

If you eat a lot of dairy, meat, drink alcohol and coffee etc, then just drop it all, your body will go through a detox period that can lead to fatigue, nausea and generally feeling rough.   Again this will pass, but unless you’re on a planned and even supervised detox, I wouldn’t recommend just dropping everything at once.  Meat and dairy also contain lots of fat, your body may crave it, maybe up the plant fats in your diet for a while.

You will most probably get cravings, stay strong and satisfy them in plant based ways.  After all, things like vegan chocolate, pizza, burgers and crisps are just as amazing as the other stuff.  The cravings go, hang in there!!

Key facts about a veganism

4- Find alternatives – This is becoming ever easier.  Cheeze, sausages, burgers, pizzas, yoghurt, milks, mayo, single cream, even creme fraiche are all available in most supermarkets.  You can also make your own if you have time, that is of course, our way, but the vegan diet is now convenience friendly for sure.  We all need a little convenience sometimes and this can help make things more sustainable in the long run.  Once you’ve found where everything is in your local shops, there will be vegan options in most places now, you can get into a new routine and whizz around in no time.

You’ll find that substituting the vegan options into your favourite recipes works.  There is cheese now that melts, cream that is creamy and mayo that hardly anyone can tell the difference between.  With the increased vegan market, there has been a general increase in vegan food quality.

Check out cereals and milks fortified with vitamins and minerals, these can be a great source of what we need.  Most new vegans I speak to mention how much more they think about their diet and the choices they make revolving around food, for me, this is one of the added bonuses of going vegan.  Educating ourselves and eating in new ways, it’s all fresh and creative.

It doesn’t all have to be pizzas, falafels and burgers, vegan cooking can be more refined. Pappardelle with Artichoke & Almond Sauce.

5 – If at first…. – You think tempeh and seitan are uurgh and tofu is not your thing, all is well.  These things need to be cooked right, and when they are, I find that most people love em!  However, a vegan cooks options are huge and they don’t need to be based around the classic vegan staples.  There are so many ways of making plant-based ingredients shine and you will get the hang of it.  Tastes change with time and who knows, maybe soon you’ll be digging seitan?!

6- Hit the umami – The big, savoury flavours, that we are used to in a meat/ dairy diet may not always be there for you when you are learning your new vegan recipe repertoire.  I say, go umami!  Giving  up our favourite foods is not easy, we’ve enjoyed them all our lives.  Things like mushrooms, yeast extract, olives, balsamic vinegar, fermented foods (kimchi!), sun dried tomatoes, tamari/ soya sauce, miso are high in umami and vegan cheeses are packed with it, like cheddar/ blue-style and Parmesan.

We can’t just rely on one big piece of roasted meat for flavour, we need to be creative, layer our flavours, tantalise our palate in new ways and be more conscious of pairing textures and colours.  Roast things, fry them up, get out a griddling pan or even better, a barbecue, use big and bold sauces and dressings.  The options for amazing vegan food are endless.  All of this is can be a challenge, but a great one, we’ll become better cooks and no doubt, more connected with the food we eat.

I travel a lot and know that it can be easy to be vegan on the road.

7- Vegan on the road, no probs! –  Check out local vegan restaurants, Happy Cow is a great source of info, and keep your eyes out for Lebanese (see above). Indonesian and Indian restaurants especially, there will be many vegan options there.   I find that most countries I travel to have a wide range of traditional dishes that are already vegan.  Of course, some countries are easier than others.  Also, always keep plenty of snacks on you, just in case.

8- Be gentle and kind with yourself – If you slip up, that’s normal.  If you are persistent, you will get there.  If you miss your daily kale smoothie hit, no problems.  Our diets have to be flexible and fun.  Having positive intentions is the key thing and not being disheartened when you first start out.  Your body, and digestion especially, may take a little time to get used to the shift, but after a few weeks, you’ll be flying!!

I believe that anyone can be vegan and very healthy, regardless of body type.  Many of the difficulties that arise in the transition period are in the mind, stay positive, join friendly and supportive local or on-line vegan groups and remember that you are joining a family of people, millions strong, who live well all over the world.  You’re not alone, but some people around you may be critical, which is their stuff entirely.  Stay true to the ethical reasons you chose to go vegan and spread your new lifestyle by communicating positively, not being drawn into arguments (which can be tough) and living the vibrant potential that a vegan diet offers.

9- Supplements are fine – I was a little put off at first about taking supplements, but they can really help us get what we need.  Many vegans take iron, omega fat, iodine and B12 supplements.  Also, maybe some vitamin D unless you live in a sunny place.  These are all good ideas and something that many people need a boost in, not just vegans.  There are fortified foods out there which will help with keeping us shining and well.

10- Stay positive and open – If you want to do it, you will.  If you stay positive, the whole process will be much more enjoyable.  This is not a punishment in anyway.  Going vegan should be a enjoyable thing, where you can learn and grow, meet new liked-minded people and gain new insight.  There will be times when people question your choices, you don’t have to go into detail or in at the deep end all the time, you can say you like the food or just change the subject.  Sometimes we don’t have the energy or resolve for a full-on debate and that is fine, many people hold strong views about a vegan lifestyle, but in my experience, most people are curious and open minded about it all, asking questions in good faith.

Just simple answers can work; good for animals, good for the planet, good for us.  Keeping our positive energy topped up is so important, conflict is draining, we need to take good care of ourselves physically and emotionally if we’re going to be at our best.  If we want to be shining lights for a brighter future for us all, we need to charge up!  If we are empathetic, and let’s face it most of us were not born vegan, we will have a much better platform for talking about veganism and a better chance that our message will be understood and considered.

How your diet can change the world

We should never feel bad or shy about speaking about veganism, but should be sensitive and constructive at the same time.  Again, these sometimes challenging conversations are an aspect of being a vegan that we can get used to with a little experience and support.  Ask fellow vegans for advice and don’t judge others.  If I communicate clearly and with sincerity, I find most people are open and receptive.  My approach is, preach from the plate, cook amazing food and enjoy it!  Good vegan food is a powerful message in itself.

If after, say a few months, you are no closer to being fully vegan, maybe revisit your original reasons for choosing this path.  Remind yourself of the motivation, ethical or otherwise, that stirred you into wishing to make a change.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about your vegan adventures and any challenges you faced.  What were the best bits?  I think one thing is clear, there is no one way, but there is always your way!  I feel that going vegan is not giving up anything, we’re actually gaining so much.  Peace and Good luck!

Here’s our vegan cooking group on facebook if you’re looking for inspiration and support.

I also like the group Vegan Food UK, lots of like minded, friendly vegans over there.

My favourite book relating to veganism is The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle.  Here’s one of my favourite vegan interviews with Will.

Carnage by Simon Amstell is brilliant and the Okja movie on Netflix I enjoyed.

Some popular vegan documentaries are What the HealthForks Over Knives (Health), Cowspiracy (Environment), Earthlings (Animal Agriculture/ Meat and Dairy Industry), Vegucated (New Vegans)

 

Categories: Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Inspiration, Nutrition, plant-based, Travel, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Cashew & Kale Black Bean Mole with Smoky Bacon (Vegan)

 

Smoky Cashew & Black Bean Mole with Tofu Bacon (Vegan)

Mole sauce is such a Mexican classic!  A full-on fiesta of flavours; spices, chilli, smoky chipotle, creamy black beans, chocolate and here I’ve added some cashew butter instead of the traditional peanuts.

These beans are quite a mouthful!  Spicy, chilli, creamy with a tickle of lime at the end and when served with smoky tofu bacon and all your favourite Mexican condiments; salsa, avocado/ guac etc you’ve got a Mexican feast.  There is a black bean & cacao recipe in Peace & Parsnips, this is a new twist on that really.

I was lucky to travel from the North to the South of Mexico by car a good few years ago.  Zig zagging down Mexico I did munch the odd taco and was blown away by Mole!  I’d never heard of it before and was mesmerised by the complexity of it, the stories of how it takes days to make (something to do with grinding and roasting all the ingredients).  It seemed like such a legend!  It is.  Normally served as a treat during a massive, joyful party, which are common in Mexico, so much so that ‘Ir a un mole’ (Go to a mole) is used to say ‘Go to a wedding’.

Mole comes in all shades in Mexico, of which Mole Poblano is probably the most famous, the flavours of which, if not the techniques of cooking, my mole beans take after.

How many savoury dishes are enhanced and inspired by chocolate so effortlessly and deliciously?  I have used Willie’s 100% Chulucanas Peruvian Cacao, bought by the block, you will find it in supermarkets and of course, on line.  This is the best cacao I’ve ever tasted in the UK.  Grated into this dish, it will be sublime!  Adding richness and depth to the dish.  However, other cacao and cocoas will be more than fine also.  I’m thinking about experimenting with a cacao gravy for Christmas dinner.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

I’ve streamlined the traditional recipe here big time, it’s normally quite involved and uses a whole cupboard of ingredients, spices and a whole gaggle of Mexican style chillies, which are totally awesome, but not always that easy to get hold of.  Chipotle paste is a decent go to, I made my own Chipotle en Adobo recently, which is well worth it if you’re a Mexican food fan or just mad about things chilli and smoky.

The best black beans yet! Straight from Mexico City.

The real inspiration for this dish was Helga, a good friend of my sis’s, Laura.  Helga is Mexican and sent these beans from Mexico City to be used especially for just such a dish.  I’d also like to thank the cooks of the B.H.K Vegan Cooking Group on Facebook, who voted for a savoury dish this week.  The delicious thing about this type of dark mole is that it skirts between sweet and savoury, with the addition of raisins here and a good amount of cocoa/ cacao.  I must admit, I was a bit surprised when the savoury vote came in, I was sure it would be sweet all the way!  I’d even got a recipe lined up and everything!!

Mole!!  Vegan!!!  Por favor

Recipe Notes

I’ve added grated golden beetroot, red cabbage and red pepper to the plate, for crunch and colour.  These kind of ingredients, along with carrots, cauliflower, savoy cabbage etc can all add the same crunch and colour to any dish.  Brightens things up no end!

I’ve added some simple tomato salsa to the dish and sliced avocado.  Lime, essential on, or in, most things Mexican and of course a god tickle of chilli!  I also like serving this dish with some warm tacos/ tortillas.

These beans and bacon make the most perfect leftovers, especially when wrapped up in a warm tortilla (I like the corn ones).  When I say tortilla, I mean the soft ones, not the big nacho style ones that look like napkin holders.

The black kale/ cavolo nero, adds great texture to the beans.  Savoy Cabbage or Spring Greens will also be delicious.

Chipotle paste?!  No probs.  Head down a supermarket and ask someone.  It’s there.

I used the crumble method of cooking the tofu bacon in the pics.  Both methods are really nice.

If you plan on keeping the mole, don’t stir in the lime juice until you are about to serve it.  Tastes amazing that way.

Lets MOLE!!!

(By the way, for those who are not too familiar with Mole, the e has a little dash over it, making it Mole as in Olé!  Not the same as the small, lovely creature that terrorises lawns.)

So…..lets MOLE!!!!

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Cashew & Kale Black Bean Mole with Smoky Bacon (Vegan)

The Bits – For 4

550g black beans (cooked)

2 big handfuls black kale/ cavolo nero (chopped into strips)

1 large onion (sliced)

4 cloves garlic (crushed)

3 medium tomatoes (chopped)

2 tbs tomato puree

1 stick cinnamon

2 teas all spice

2 teas ground coriander

4 tbs raisins

2 tbs chipotles en adobo/ chipotle paste (how hot do you like it?!)

 

250ml water/ or bean cooking broth

2 tbs cocoa/ cacao

3-4 tbs cashew butter/ peanut butter

1-2 teas sea salt

1 lime (juice)

2 tbs cooking oil

Salt and pepper (for seasoning)

 

Garnish

2 handfuls coriander

1-2 chilli (finely sliced)

Vegan yoghurt/ sour cream/ creme fraiche

Lime wedges

 

Do It

In a large saucepan, warm the oil on medium heat, fry the onion for 12 minutes until caramelised and golden, add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the cinnamon stick, all spice, chipotle sauce, coriander, raisins, tomatoes and tomato puree and stir. Cook for 5 minutes until the tomatoes are soft, add the beans and water. Put a lid on it and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes.

Stir in the cashew butter, kale and cacao, cook for a further 10 minutes. The beans should be breaking down and going a little creamy. Now stir in the lime juice, season with salt and a good amount of pepper and serve straight away.

Serving ideas – Ideal with a crumble of tofu bacon, sour cream/ yoghurt and coriander.  It makes a nice dip too. Take the cinnamon sticks out and pulse it s few times in a blender. Serve with nachos and guacamole.

 

Smoky Tofu Bacon

The Bits – Serves 6-8 as nibbles
450g firm tofu (cut into bite size pieces, cut thinly for sandwiches)

Marinade
3-4 teas smoked paprika (more if you like it really smokey!)
1/2 teas turmeric
1 1/2 teas maple syrup
1 teas nutritional yeast flakes
2 teas tamari/ soya sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs veg oil

 

Do It

Mix marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Marinate in a fridge for a couple of hours or overnight is good.

Preheat a fan oven to 200oC and place tofu onto a lightly oiled baking tray. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes. Until nice and crisp.

Serve straight away but is also very nice served cold.

Use the leftover marinade to dip the tofu in or as a base for a dressing or even add to a stew/ soup to add a little flavour kick.

For the tofu bacon crumble – I mashed up the tofu, then marinated. Drained excess marinade and fried in a large frying pan on medium/ high heat with 2 tbs cooking oil until caramelised and crispy, roughly 8-10 minutes.

Vegan Black Bean Mole with all the gorgeous flavours of chocolate, chilli, spices and even cashew butter for extra richness.

Foodie Fact 

Black beans are one of the best sources of protein out there.  They are also one of the best sources of things called phytonutrients (basically, compounds in plants that do us loads of good).  They’re a good source of iron, copper and plenty of fibre.  They will help us to take care of our bones and heart, they even contain selenium, which is not found in many places in a plant-based diet.  Overall, they are a very healthy and super tasty star!

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I couldn’t write about Mexico without sending my love and best wishes to all effected by the recent earthquake in and around Mexico City.  If you’d like to help, here are details of an amazing charity, A Hand for Mexico, based in Mexico City and helping the people affected, as well as helping to re-build the city, focusing on shelters, schools and hospitals.

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Stew, Travel, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

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