Posts Tagged With: healthy

Super Tasty Mega Rice – Vegan Fried Rice

Sooooooooo tasty! Quick and easy rice dish, think Nasi Goreng (Indonesia)

There’s so much in this dish to get the tastebuds jumping; sesame pancake, oyster mushrooms, asparagus, ginger, crispy onions, deep and dark soya sauce……this is a quick lunch and an amazing way to treat leftover rice and veggies.

We all need a good, simple fried rice recipe under our aprons, in our cutlery draws or tucked away behind our chopping boards.  Super quick and tasty, some would say mega!!  This rice is something everyone will enjoy, packed with veggies and big flavours.

The sesame pancake is one of the stars here, it really adds something to the dish, giving it a change-up in texture and flavour.  It’s also very easy to get together and can be used in many dishes in many ways.  They’re great by themselves and are basically just a small cup of gram (chickpea flour).  Surely one of my favourite ingredients.

I was raised, for a chunk of my childhood in the Philippines, I just cooked this dish for Mum who says that it’s similar to my favourite Filipino fried rice that I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner as a nipper.  I’ve always loved trying new and exciting dishes.  Although this is a staple dish, we can take it in so many directions.  We eat it as a weekend treat in the Beach House, I like it especially in the mornings.  A big chilli hit in the AM beats an espresso any day!  Anyone else like fried rice for breakfast?

Use any array of veggies you like here, whatever is seasonal or hanging out in your veg tray/ basket.  This is similar to Nasi Goreng which is the ubiquitous vegan go-to dish in Indonesia, a country that Jane and I love deeply (see some our travel stories, street food or visiting tofu village).  I think it’s just as good without the fish sauce and Kecap Manis, which is a sweet soya sauce (I’m in Spain, so needed to improvise).

This style of rice dish is awesome with some aromatic paste, South East Asia style, probably the eastiest to get our hands on is Thai pastes, yellow, green or red.  A couple of tablespoons will do the trick.  But maybe you’d like to make your own, there are some good looking recipes for Basa Gede – Balanese Paste that are exciting me right now.  Must try soon, when lemongrass and the like are back on the menu.

Mega Tasty Rice – Leftovers given a very tasty make over

This is an awesome leftovers dish, using up rice cooked for something else.  If you’re cooking the rice especially for the dish, make sure it’s fully cooled first.  I always think fried rice is best when the rice has sat in the fridge overnight.  The best way to cool rice at home is to spread it our on a baking tray, it will cook much quicker than being left in the pan.  Rice needs to be cooled as quick as possible and then stored in the fridge.  Fried rice should be eaten straight away and not re-heated.

I’m doing a load of recipe testing and menu planning for the late summer and autumn at the minute, loving it!!  It can be so inspiring, but I’ve got to say, challenging too.  The success rate yesterday was less than 50/50.  Some dishes just seem to work in the head and in the pan/ oven/ mouth, just don’t work out.  This is a dish we cooked today for a quick lunch between recipe testing and the one I decided to share!  Such is life.  My favourite dishes tend to be the simple ones and when you look at our favourite dishes, from all over the world, it seems that that is just the way we’re wired up.

We love these little sesame pancakes

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This dish is so simple and versatile, hope you get to give it a go!

Happy cooking!

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Recipe Notes

Any long grain rice will do here, whatever you like best.

Add more chillies, I dare you!  I love this dish fiery!!

If you’re cooking your own rice, roughly 140g of uncooked rice will make 400-ish g of cooked.

After cooking, cool your rice quickly by spreading it out thinly on a large plate/platter. Once cooked, place in a fridge.

Add whatever veggies you fancy to this, in fact normally, we add two or three more types to this dish.

To make this Mega Rice gluten-free, you can buy gluten-free soya sauce or tamari.

Fried Rice 101 – get all your ingredients and chopping done before you start cooking, makes things a cool  breeze as opposed to a potential heated stress-fest!

Super Tasty Mega Rice – Vegan Fried Rice

The Bits – For 4-6

1 small onion (finely sliced)

2 large garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)

2 tbs ginger (finely chopped)

1 small carrot (finely sliced into matchsticks)

 

100g oyster, or other, mushrooms (sliced)

1 green/ red pepper (deseeded and sliced)

2-4+ dried chillies or 1-2-3 teas chilli flakes (finely sliced)

 

6 asparagus spears (finely sliced at an angle)

400g cooked rice (from the fridge)

250g chickpeas (drained)

3 tbs good quality passata

1 1/2 tbsp tamari/ gluten-free soya sauce

 

2-3 tbs cooking oil (I use good rapeseed oil)

 

Sesame Pancake

50g gram flour

100ml water

½ clove garlic

Couple large pinches turmeric

Couple large pinches salt

 

1 1/2 tbs sesame seeds

 

Serve

1/2 cucumber (seeds removed and sliced)

1 large tomatoes (sliced)

Crispy onions (gluten-free)

Lime wedges

Your favourite chilli sauce

 

Do It 

Add the ingredients for the pancake, except the sesame seeds, into a bowl, gradually add the water, stirring as you go to make a smooth batter.

Grab a large, non-stick, frying pan/ wok, add 1/2 tbs oil, place on a medium high heat.  When the oil is warm, pour the batter mix into the centre of the pan, swirling the pan to make a thin pancake.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, halfway through that time, sprinkle over the sesame seeds to give the pancake a good covering.  Now flip the pancake using a spatula.  Cook for another minute, then set aside.  Give the pan a quick clean out.

Return the pan to the heat, add 1 tbs cooking oil, when hot, add the onions, ginger, garlic and carrots.  Toss and fry for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms, dried chillies and peppers, cook for another 2 minutes, now add the passata, soya sauce, chickpeas, rice and asparagus.  Stir gently and warm through fully for 3-4 minutes, making sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Get it nice and hot!

Taste the rice, add a touch more soya sauce or salt for seasoning.  Chop up the pancake into strips and stir into the rice.  Serve straight away with crunchy veggies like tomatoes and cucumber, chilli sauce, crispy onions and a twist of lime is delicious.

View from the Beach House Kitchen (Spain branch) today. Way too close to the beach to work properly;)

Foodie Fact

Chillies have outrageously high levels of vitamin C, plus decent amounts of vitamin A, K and B-6. Vitamin C wise, they leave the oranges in the shade.

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

Cooling Watermelon, Tofu & Mint Salad

Cooling Watermelon, Tofu and Mint Salad

It’s getting HOT over here!

I realise that most of you don’t need cooling down, but we do. Its baking in our little place in the coconut grove, Goa. This is the most cooling and simple salad I could think of with the added benefits of tasting very awesome and also bags of sparkling nutrition.

We don’t have a kitchen so we’re loving playing with salads, of the fruity sweet variety and killer savoury ones normally with tahini dressing. We’ve a great supply of locally made tahini and tofu, it’s making us very happy. It’s been about a year since I’ve enjoyed one of my favourite things, tahini I could eat on anything and everything.  I love the creamy flavour and it’s of course, one of the best sources of calcium around.

Whilst taking these pictures we had to fend of Indra the local alpha bull geezer, a speckled massive creature with impressive horns. He’s a bit of a punk and loves nibbling things when we sit near the edge of our terrace. His tongue is outrageously long, something like a mighty iguana. Especially good at hoovering up stray bananas.  Cheeky chap, but we’ve a soft spot from his brusque greediness. He eats all of our peelings and I think looks a little happier afterwards. Other animals hanging around the coconut grove today are large woodpeckers, egrets, a family of buffalos, stripy chipmunks, a pack of semi-feral yet friendly mongrels, wild peacocks at dawn, fish eagles, many funky lizards, a praying mantis and probably loads of other amazing little things. Mosquitos, some. Families of geckos, yes. Anyway, we’re a food blog right!…….

If you’re in northern Europe, maybe save this one until summer hits (or turn the heating right up!) If you’re in more southern climes, this one is a light and cooling lunch for two that also looks a bit sexy.


Recipe Notes

The chillies are a great little kick, but optional.

The tofu quality is important when being eaten cool like this. See if you can get some good stuff, the tofu here is rich and creamy, slightly crumbly like feta. Perfect for salads. Add a squeeze of lemon, a little salt and come nooch (nutritional yeast flakes) if you have them for extra feta like cheesiness.

Watermelons are always huge. We’ll only use a little here so why not try cutting it into cubes, freezing it and using it as exotic ice cubes in your favourite juice/ cocktail. Of course, blended up with cucumber, lemon and mint (maybe a touch of sweetness), your looking at a wonderful smoothie.

I’ve seen some people taking the pips/ seeds out of their watermelon.  It’s a total waste of time!  Just crunch them down, they are not bitter at all.


The Bits – For 2 lunch

250g firm tofu (cubed)
1 cucumber (peeled and cubed)
2 cups watermelon (cubed)
2 tbs fresh mint (finely sliced – do this last)
Pinch salt
Squeeze lemon juice

1 green chilli (finely sliced) – optional

Dressing
2 heaped tbs tahini
½ lemon (juice)
Water
Pinch salt

Do It
Cut the melon, cucumber and tofu into similar sized cubes.

Squeeze a little lemon and a pinch of salt over the tofu and toss lightly.

Mix your dressing together with a fork adding drizzles of water and stirring in until a single cream texture is formed.

Mix your mint in with the tofu and place in the centre of a large plate. Surround in layers with your melon and cucumber. Sprinkle over leftover mint and chilli (if using)

Best served with a sunset;) From Zoori’s Place – Anjuna, Goa

Foodie Fact
We’re going to let Macka B take over the foodie fact, so many incredible health giving properties to the humble cucumba!!!!

Check out our latest Vegan Cooking Retreats HERE or join our Vegan Cooking Group on Facebook for more info, recipes and chat

Happy cooking!

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Music, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Salads, Summer, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

Visiting Tofu Village – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

The load, hot and crispy end of the kitchen

The load, hot and crispy end of the kitchen – Tofu Village

Jane and I are not fans of tour groups so we jumped on a motorbike and headed out into the countryside around Yogyakarta.  We’d been reliably informed that there would be huge ancient religious monuments, something like the grandeur of Angkhor Wat, and no shortage of tofu (tahu) making villages.  We were ready for some great times, lumps of tofu and stunning temples sounded like a decent way to pass a day.

This southern area is known as the garden of Java. Incredibly fertile and beautiful, lush countryside

This southern area is known as the garden of Java. Incredibly fertile and beautiful, lush countryside

We zig zagged and bounced our way out of Yogkakarta in the early morning, traffic flowing like a crazy vein of buzzing scooters making erratic patterns on rutted tarmac tracks.  We made it to the greener surrounds and went off piste down little tracks lined with rice paddies and folk thrashing their harvest by hand.  The countryside was breathtaking and so very fertile.  After the polluted city, the fresh air and open skies were a delight.

We began to follow our noses, asking the wonderful people of Java for tips and signals.  Many people understand English in Indonesia and they are so very kind hearted.  One chap hopped on his bike and led us over awesome off road terrain to a little village where an old lady was sat on a terrace.  ‘Tahu!’ he excitedly exclaimed and we knew we’d hit our plant-based jackpot.

Firstly - Cook the ground beans and add coagulant

Firstly – Cook the ground beans and add coagulant (great word!)

Tahu (tofu) is a staple in Indonesia, as well as Tempeh (more to come of that in following posts).  Many people in the countryside cannot afford to eat meat regularly and it seems that tofu and tempeh fills the gap.  Indonesians love it and it is available everywhere, mostly in little stalls selling it as a deep fried snack with a cup of Jasmine green tea.  We’ve so far eaten it many ways and have gobbled them all with glee.  The tofu is generally given a quick fry in coconut oil before being re-cooked and the tempeh is regularly served after being simmered with cane sugar.  Sticky and sweet.  In many ways, eating tempeh and tofu in Indonesia is a little like eating Focaccia and Pasta in Italy, this is it’s land.  Where it is from.  There is something intangible there that cannot be recreated.

Put into moulds, then leave to dry on racks

Put into moulds, then leave to dry on racks

The tofu kitchen was actually a mini countryside production plant.  Generations of the family were lending a hand as Grandmother supervised.  For those who know the process of tofu making, it is the same as you’d do at home, just a larger scale.  They made what we’d call ‘firm’ tofu in the UK and sold it straight up cubed or gave big chunks a couple of minutes in very hot coconut oil to crisp up and then stored the finished tofu in water.  All of the heat used was via wooden braziers, the frying pan was heated using a large pile of wood chips.  Very, very hot work but the aromas were a delight.

Chop it up (Jane slightly assisting)

Chop it up (Jane slightly assisting)

The family didn’t speak English and were a little shy.  Our two scrumbled pages of Indonesian and a few sentences got us somewhere, but two big gangly exciteable tourists poking about your work place is generally a little unsettling.  They were absolutely lovely and we got to taste the tofu at each process and it was excellent, as you’d expect.  One thing that I did find surprising is that the soya beans used were from the USA.   I know that the US grows vast quantities of soya beans to feed their insatiable appetite for beef, but I did not imagine that some of it would be feeding the people of Java!  I can only imagine that its cheaper than local soya beans which just seems bizarre, but understandable with our current methods of food production and distribution.  Organic tofu this was not!  Otherwise, this method of making curd from warmed bean milk is completely genius and has long been established (Han Dynasty, China, over 2000 years ago) as a vital way to get nutritious, protein-rich food into diets.  It’s also utterly lovely stuff.

Bubble, bubble......man, this pan was smokin'

Bubble, bubble……man, this pan was smokin’

This was our first time seeing tofu being made in a traditional way and the family had been making the local villages tofu for generations.  It is such a privelege to be able to travel and investigate the food that we love.  Our connection with and understanding of what we are eating grows and we can find new found enjoyment in the wonders of global cuisine.  We’ll never look at a lump of tofu the same again!

PS – We’d love to tell you the name of the tofu village, but we were scooting all over the place and had no idea where we really were.  It’s our little secret, somewhere near Karang.  We’d also just had a jug of thick black coffee from Papua New Guinea which gave us some kind of joy jitters; laughing, jabbering, sweating, dazed, frantic, dry mouth……you know how that goes.

All wood fired in these parts

All wood fired in these parts

Categories: healthy, photography, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Portobello Pecan Burger with Pumpkin Wedges – Original Recipe from Peace and Parsnips

THE MIGHTY ONE!!
In honour of Peace&Parsnips being released in the U.S. (31st May – wahooooo!) we’re going to share a few of our favourite #recipes with you lovely folk. Here’s a real whopper to get started with!
This is probably (almost definitely) my favourite burger. Its utterly packed with flavour and is actually quite sophisticated, not your average patty! Let’s face it, you can’t beat a burger in a sunny garden with a chilled cucumber mojito.
I don’t mess around with burgers, there is a whole chapter dedicated to them, along with sausages, chorizo etc, in Peace and Parsnips and they are all at least this size and tastiness;)
Enjoy!!:)

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Source: Portobello Pecan Burger with Pumpkin Wedges – Original Recipe from Peace and Parsnips

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Healing Power of Nettles

Nettle tea - 2015 vintage

Nettle tea – 2015 vintage

After a strong nettle tea this morning, I feel supercharged and inspire to share the wealth of our green and bountiful friend.  The nettle plant is much misunderstood, yes it stings a bit, but there is so much more to nettles than that.  It is one of the healthiest plants that grows in temperate areas and is something we could all benefit hugely from incorporating into our diets.   Nettles are one of natures multivitamins (and the rest)!!

We love drinking nettle tea, its a complete health tonic and ideal first thing in the morning. The way we start our days is so very important, what we choose to put into our bodies after many hours sleeping can have a huge effect on our day and health in general.  Nettle tea is the perfect start!  It’s just one of those infusions that you know is doing you the power of good. Then you read a little into it and you’re certain. Nettles are packed full of pure plant power.

Nettles have historically been regarded as a superbly healthy food in many different cultures.  Milarepa the famous Tibetan sage and saint ate them when meditating for ten years in a cave, eventually turning green and gaining the ability to fly (I love these legends).  Sometimes I think we feel like exotic foods, with cool names, are our only source of sparkling nutrition.  However, there are so, so many super foods on our doorsteps (or nearby).

Milarepa - Green after a few too many nettles

Milarepa – Green after a few too many nettles

The nettle picking season is just around the corner and we’re very excited. Hopefully a few will be ready before we head over to the States. North Wales is quite a tough place to grow things however nettles love it and we go on massive picking sessions each year, drying them in our dehydrator or in the boot of our estate car (on very warm days). We can then store the leaves for tea and adding to soups and stews throughout the year. You can even pan fry the leaves or use them fresh, just like spinach. Its a way of stocking up on essential minerals, vitamins and a whole host of sparkling nutritional properties, not to mention that the tea tastes wonderful. Its in the realm of green tea with a few added nuances. Some say its an acquired taste, but I think most are?! When the leaves are fresh, they have a lighter flavour. Free wonderfoods fresh from the hedgerow, now you’re talking!!

Nettles grow prolifically throughout the temperate areas of the world.  They actually thrive on the waste we produce and interestingly, large patches of nettles may be used as sign of previous settlements that are now long gone from our countryside.

Pan Roast Maple Parsnips and Young Nettles

Pan Roast Maple Parsnips and Young Nettles Recipe

THE POWER OF NETTLES
One of Jane’s teachers, Susan Weed, is a firm advocate of all things nettle and writes about them extensively.  Nettles are also known as the devil’s leaf and even wild spinach, they are certainly equally delicious and even more nutritious.  There are literally hundreds of health properties attributed to this wonder plant, here are a few:

  • Nettles strengthen the kidneys.  Their Greek name is Urtica Dioica, ‘Uro’ meaning urine.
  • They are a powerful tonic, anti-anaemic, diuretic, anti-spasmodic, anti-allergenic, decongestant, anti-arthritic, laxative, antiseptic, anti-rheumatic, anti-asthmatic, expectorant……..the list goes on and on.
  • Nettles are ideal for women, especially during pregnancy, childbirth and lactation.  Nettles help with menstrual cramps, nausea and bloating.
  • A general relaxant that helps with hypertension.
  • Fresh nettle juice is antispetic and can be used as a kitchen spray, for washing skin.
  • Nettles infusions can be used to wash hair, leaving it shiny and thick.  They are also said to prevent hair loss.
  • Helps with gastrointestinal diseases, IBS and constipation.
  • Cures the common cold.
  • They can also help with hormonal, adrenal and energetic imbalances and the circulatory system.
  • They can be taken as an anti-histamine, which over a period of time, can cure ailments like hayfever.
  • Reduces gingivitis and prevents plaque when used as a mouthwash.
  • Nettles are known as a digestive restorer and consistent use of nettles strengthens lungs, intestines, arteries and kidneys.
  • Even the nettles sting has been shown to alleviate joint pain!
  • And many, many more……

It’s even been said; 

“The seed of nettle stirreth up lust……”

Gerarde-Johnson 1633

You can definitely say that nettles are an all-rounder!

It is worth mentioning that if you are taking certain pharmaceuticals, you should seek a doctors advice before taking nettles regularly.

NUTRIENTS

Nettles are especially high in calcium, vitamin C and iron.  They are also high in protein and fibre, a whole host of minerals and many more vitamins.

The whole plant is basically a powerful medicine, from roots to seeds.  It is especially good for ‘pale and pasty types’.  I like this little rhyme:

“If they would eat nettles in March and drink Mugwort in May, so many fine maidens would not go to the clay” (Funeral song of a Scottish mermaid)

We seem to have lost touch with so many of natures gifts that surround us throughout every season which are there to give us health and vitality.  I believe that in each environment we can find the nourishment we need to thrive, that is, if we have the knowledge and are inspired to seek them out.

Brewing nettles for tea

HARVESTING NETTLES

Nettles are easily identified by most, we’ve all had a little incident with them as children.  Like any plant, if you are not completely sure, don’t pick it.  There are many different types o nettles, this is especially true if you’re traveling to other countries.  Some have a very nasty sting.

We travel with marigolds and bags in nettle season and when we see a good patch, we harvest.  For eating fresh and drying, take the tender, young leaves from the top of the plant.  The first four is a good rule of thumb.  Like many plants, the growing energy is concentrated in the upper plant, this is what we after.  Nettles become more fibrous as the season goes on, so get in there during early spring although some young paler nettles will grow in shaded areas until late summer.  Always pick nettles, and any edible plants, away from man made signs of poisons and ground contamination.  This means away from roads, railway lines etc.  Many foragers also avoid plants near popular dog walking areas, or at least pick above leg cocking height!

COOKING NETTLES
Nettles are easily transformed into a delicious edible green leaf vegetable.  Simple blanch them in boiling water, this breaks down the formic acid which stings.  You can leave them to steep to make a lovely tea or use as you would any leafy green.  Try a Nettle Aloo or Nettle Soup.  We love them in smoothies and iced teas.  Nettles make for a great pesto and can be used in place of basil and we especially like nettle hummus an stirring the leaves into hot pasta.

NETTLE JUICE

Rinse young leaves and stalks in water, place in a mechanical juicer or place leaves in warm water and leave to steep for 30 minutes.  Place in muslin cloth and wring out the bright green juice.  The juice will keep in a fridge for one day.

RUTH’S NETTLE SOUP

Recipe here.

NETTLE TEA

Recipe here.

PAN FRIED NETTLES

Blanch the nettles leaves in just boiled water.  Save the water as a stock or drink it.  Strain the leaves well.  In a frying pan, add some oil and garlic followed by the leaves.  Fry for a minute and served topped with pine nuts or almonds.

TINCTURES

Jane also makes a wonderful nettle tincture, basically pop lots of leaves into a kilner jar and cover with vinegar (you can also use alcohol like vodka or gin).  You should use young leaves,  dried or fresh are both fine.  Leave for a month or more (the longer left, the stronger the tincture) and then strain with muslin cloth.  Place in small bottles and use the tincture for eczema, psoriasis, allergic rashes, rinse in hair to treat dandruff, taken internally it is known to treat hayfever.  Take 1 teas poon every morning as a preventative or three times a day to treat ailments.

Glorious nettles!

Dry the leaves without blanching them.  As I mentioned, you can do this in a warm car with a couple of windows slightly opened.  On a very sunny day, thinly lay out the nettle leaves on news paper.  Leave for a day and check that the leaves are nicely dry and crisp.  If you are lucky enough to have a dehydrator at home, dry as you would kale or other leaves.  It won’t take long.

The strong fibres of the nettle plant have been used to make paper, sails, bags, cloth (think a silky linen) and makes a very strong string or rope (fifty times stronger than cotton).  Nettles have been cultivated in Mexico for 8000 years for these purposes.  Nettles can also be made into a dye, the leaves for green and the stalks for yellow.

Nettles are a gardeners delight.  They are hugely nourishing to the soil and are amazing on compost heaps.  They can be brewed into a homemade plant fertiliser packed with nitrogen compounds (this stuff stinks by the way) and can be grown as a companion crop with tomatoes and aromatic herbs.

I still think that it’s incredible that nettles are not sold in greengrocers or markets.  It is a shame that more people are not benefiting from this stunning plant.  I’d say if you’re taking multivitamins, why not try nettles instead.  They’re perfectly natural and free!

Drinking nettle tea and eating fresh nettles in stir fries, soups etc will ease and energise the circulatory, immune, endocrine, nervous and urinary systems.  Like I said, an incredible overall tonic and they literally grow on trees (or in small bushes).  If we all used nettles wisely, pharmacies would go out of business!  Nettles are good for us in ways that we don’t really fully understand yet.  The nettles season is coming, don’t miss out!

If you are interested in foraging or taking courses in the UK, www.wildforage.co.uk is a good place to start.

Categories: Detox, Foraging, Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Inspiration, Local food, Nutrition, Recipes, Spring, Superfoods, Vegan | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Blender Banana and Pecan Pancakes with Chocolate Sauce (Gluten-free)

Blender Banana and Pecan Pancakes (Gluten-free) Blender Banana and Pecan Pancakes (Gluten-free)

There is only one pancake night so lets do it in style!!!!  Why is there only one pancake night actually?  I feel like we need at least a weekly or bi-weekly pancake night.  Pancakes are better than that.

So I felt like joining in on the pancake party but with a busy week ahead, I wasn’t going to have much time to play with pancakes.  I needed something super quick and tasty.  I know that a lot of you are avoiding or taking it easy on gluten and I wanted to give you a brilliant option.  I love making food accessible to all and no one will feel like they’re missing out with these pancakes.  Impossible!

They’ll make for a great breakfast or dessert any time of year, maybe add some berries or chopped fruit, a little dusting of cocoa…..

I like pecans any way they come...... What is it about pecans, maple syrup and pancakes?!

I’m going to have to write this quickly before I eat all of these!  I am actually multi-tasking here, typing with a mouthful of pancake.  It is possible after all!!  This recipes is hot out of the pan.  I always said that the precious time that I get out of the kitchen I would not spend in the kitchen (does that make sense!!) taking 56 pictures of a pile of pancakes.  Tonight…..I have. There is surely no better way to spend an evening.

This is easy.  Pop all the ingredients in a blender, blitz, fry and enjoy!  I love the way some talk about pancakes ‘behaving well’ in the pan!?  A well behaved pancake sounds so bland.  Make these small and you’ll have no problems at all flipping them and kids absolutely love a mini pancake (mini most things really).

THE GHOSTS OF PANCAKE DAY PAST

Pancakes have come a long way since my family launching them at the ceiling and redecorating the walls with flour and eggs.  It always seems a very messy night with loads of fuss for a little, thin thing that normally had the consistency of a supple frisbee.   It was always fun though and we laughed at our attempts and devastation.  Everyone had a go at flipping and it was always very exciting and quite nerve wracking as an 8 year old.  You always remembered your technique from last year, after four failed and mangled attempts!

One of my heroes...as an 8 year old. Banana Man! Do you remember this man? One of my heroes…as an 8 year old. Banana Man!!!!

I still love the classic lemon and sugar crepe, but lets face it, we’ve all become a bit more Americanized with our pancake habits.  Hotcakes are big, light and fluffy (like some Americans I know) you eat two and feel like you’re about to explode.  Quite filling they are.  Sets you up for the day or an early return to bed!!!  Sleep off breakfast.

This is the later, light and fluffy, but without that heavy feeling.  We use gluten-free flour and the delights of banana paired with pecans.

SAUCY IDEAS

There are so many!  I had mine with a simple chocolate sauce (melted chocolate with a little coconut oil mixed in) or try warming peanut butter in a pan and stirring in some maple syrup, or tahini in the same way, in fact any nut butter is sensational warmed with some sweetness stirred in. Another option is warming the peanut butter, sweetening it and then stirring in a little coconut cream (the thick stuff in a tin of coconut milk).  Wow!  That is a sensation.

Something fruity, how about marmalade or cherry jam, warmed in a pan with a dash of whiskey or dark rum stirred in.  Why not toss some apples, dates and orange zest in a pan and warm them through.  Once the apple has broken down you have a lovely apple compote to use liberally on pancakes and more.

Although, having said all of that and being a purist in the department, just maple syrup is enough for me.

Recipe Note

Not everyone likes the full taste of buckwheat, I do.  These pancakes are awesome with just buckwheat flour.

I like these pancakes small, you can eat more of them and they are fresher when you do.  In a large frying pan you should be able to fry three at a time.  Use a spatula to flip them.  If you can flip three pancakes by tossing them in the air…..well done.

If you’ve no pecans, walnuts will be fine.  If you have no walnuts…cashews will do.

You can experiment with your favourite mix of gluten-free flour.  If you’re using normal flour, I’d mash up the banana, chop up the pecans and stir it all togther.  The blender may get the gluten going in the flour and you’ll be left with weird pancakes.

These pancakes are easy flippers, no messing about for you this pancake night. These pancakes are easy flippers, no messing about for you this pancake night.

The Bits – 12 mini pancakes (serves 2)
2 ripe bananas
1/2 teas g.f. bicarb of soda
1 handful pecans
4 tbs white gluten-free flour mix
3 tbs brown gluten-free flour mix
150ml soya milk (or plant milk of choice)
1/2 teas vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Dark chocolate

Coconut oil

Do It

Make your sauce first.  Place a glass bowl over a pan of gently simmering water.  Add your chocolate and melt.  Stir in a little oil, the sauce will be shiny and super rich.  Its best serve warm.

In a blender, add all the pancake ingredients and blitz until all is combined.  There will be chunks of nuts left, that is cool.  You may need to get a spoon in there and mix things up, making sure all in smooth and batter-like.

Lightly oil a frying pan and warm on medium heat.  Add 2-3 tbs of mix per pancake.  Fry 2-3 minutes one side, flip and fry for 1-2 minutes on the other.  I normally reduce the heat of my pan as I go through the batches of pancakes.  It can get carried away.  Keep your eye on it.

Keep the pancakes warm in an oven, or wrap them in a clean kitchen cloth until you’re ready to serve.

Serve

Enjoy with your favourite sauce or topping.  You know the one……

Get them while they're hot! Get them while they’re hot!

Foodie Fact

Pecans are so intensely brilliant in many ways.  They are packed with good fats and fatty acids, keeping your heart healthy.  They are full of fibre which helps our digestion out, anti-oxidants and they are powerhouses of minerals, helping things like our bones, skin and immune systems.  A handful of nuts a day, keeps the grim reaper at bay!

Categories: Breakfast, Desserts, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Baked Mushrooms with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Walnuts

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Baked Mushrooms with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Walnuts

Just such and easy and flavoursome number!  The kind of dish you could serve as a main course or starter  at a dinner party (aka when you’re trying to look a bit flash in the kitchen) and really not go to any great trouble.

One of the main reasons for me popping this recipe on the BHK is the wonderful Vegan Recipe Hour, happening soon over on Twitter.  A great place for vegan cooking inspiration and tonight the theme is……well……MUSHROOMS!

They look lovely and pack some intense flavours; mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted nuts, pesto, these are some of the bedrocks of richness and savoury flavours in a vegan cooks locker.  Combined……POW!  I’d also like to mention that this is most definitely healthy.

UMAMI!

One of the five basic tastes and a word that sounds like something Vic and Bob would exclaim (with loads of reverb) mid ‘Shooting Stars’.  If you are not British, this may take some explaining…..this clip might help.

Umami is a savoury taste in things like mushrooms, nuts, fermented foods like miso and tamari, yeast extract, seaweed and sun dried tomatoes, they’re packed with that mysterious and delicious flavour that acts like catnip to our tastebuds.  We know we love it!

The history of umami can be found here and it is of course the source of MSG.  Its natures MSG, which means all the crazy good flavour without the unpleasant side effects.  Many rich and flavourful plant based meals use something umami as a base.

BEST JOB IN THE WORLD!

Some of you may know that I cook at a glorious retreat centre in Snowdonia, Trigonos.  (Queue a quick plug for the retreat and workshop I’m running soon –  ‘Discovering Vegan Cooking’).  I have started to make these mushrooms for lunch there and they always go down a treat.  Greater than the sum of their preparation skills and time.  The sign of a winning restaurant dish, especially when you’re working in the kitchen!  This is a dish I choose when I’m giving myself a bit of a break.  Normally, if you eat at Trigonos, you’ll be joining me on a voyage into vegan cooking.  I have a rough idea what I’ll be cooking but I generally see what is good from the land that day (we have our own organic farm) and what’s looking great from out veg supplier.  Then I play with food and enjoy myself.  One of the most wonderful occupations imaginable.

Now.  Lets make something delicious.

Recipe Notes

The mushrooms will shrink quite a bit during cooking.  Make sure you get big ones, or double up per person.  I have found that most folk like a second mushroom after they’ve tasted the first.

Portobellos are full of flavour and texture but field mushrooms are also fine (and a little cheaper).

I always try to make my own pesto, but at this time of year, fresh leafy herbs are not exactly sprouting from the earth.  You could use a good jar of vegan pesto, you’ll find this in most supermarkets and especially health food shops or similar.

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A typical Trigonos lunch plate, plenty of colours!

The Bits – For 4

4 large mushrooms (peeled and the end of stalks trimmed off)

Pesto

2 big handfuls sun dried tomatoes (roughly chopped)

2 big handfuls basil leaves

1/2 lemon (zest)

3 large cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)

1 handful cashews (best when soaked in warm water for an hour before)

50ml+ olive oil

2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes

Sea Salt (to taste)

OR

10-12 tbs green pesto (of your choice)

Mixing in the sun dried tomatoes and lemon (zest) – same quantities as above

 

2 handfuls walnuts (roughly chopped)

 

Topping

Fresh green herbs – parsley, thyme, basil

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Fresh out of the oven

Do It

Preheat an oven 180oc.

Peel the mushrooms, lightly oil a baking tray, sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and pepper.  Bake the mushrooms for 15-20 minutes.  They should be soft but still nice and succulent.

Place all of the pesto ingredients into a food processor (except the olive oil) and pulse until a chunky pesto is formed whilst drizzling in the oil.  Or, just mix the tomatoes and lemon zest into your shop bought pesto.  Taste and season with salt if needed.  Adding more nooch (nutritional yeast flakes) will up the cheesiness. A good thing.

Spoon roughly 2-3 tbs of the pesto over each mushroom and sprinkle with walnuts.  Pop back into the oven for 10 minutes to warm them through.  Thats it!

Sprinkle over some herbs and serve soon after.

Here are some dishes I’ve served recently to accompany these mushrooms:

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Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cookbook Competition Winners & Happy Birthday Beach House Kitchen!!!

What a way to celebrate a birthday!  So many amazing recipes have hit our blog inbox over the past couple of weeks. Our minds are boggled now by sheer deliciousness…..!  Its been so hard to pick winners so we’ve changed the rules a little, we’re giving away two more books!!  You are all winners really and we will be cooking as many of your amazing recipes as possible.

Here are the lucky three who will be getting a copy of ‘Peace & Parsnips’ very soon (plus two we just had to include for being extra amazing…..):

Cucumber Rolls with Harissa Cream by Katharina

Winner!  Little Plate – Cucumber Rolls with Harissa Cream by Katharina

Little Plate – Cucumber Rolls with Harissa Cream
Katharina loves drawing, eating and cooking….sometimes all at the same time!!!  Instead of a taking a photo, Katharina sent in a painting.  We thing its wonderful!  Anybody this talented with a paintbrush is bound to be a hit in the kitchen!  We think these will look incredible, rolled into a beautiful rose and stuffed with a harissa cashew cream.  Woah!  The kick of the Harissa makes Katarina happy and we are sure this dish is going to make us smile.  This cream will also go well on bread, with salads or dip a falafel in.  YUM!
You need
1 cup cashews, soaked
3 tbs nooch, aka the nutritional yeast:)
2 tbs olive oil, extra virgin of course
3 tbs water or some more if needed
3 ts smoky paprika
1 ts jeera/ cumin
1 ts caraway seeds
1 ts coriander seeds
1 ts salt (Himalayan Rose)
to serve
1 long cucumber
iceberg salad or frillice
Blend cashews with water and  nutritional yeast and grind the spices in a pestle and mortar.  Add the spice mix to the cashew cream and give it a short final blend.
Slice cucumber lengthways with vegetable peeler into thin long strips. Spread the cream onto the strips and roll them into roses.

 

Big Plate Winner! Greek Butter Bean Pie by Laura

Winner! Big Plate Winner – Greek Butter Bean Pie by Laura

Big Plate – Greek Butter Bean Pie
We love the cooking style of the Med so much and Laura is such a talented cook and blogger.
“A hearty baked version of a Greek meze classic. This Butter Bean Pie is simple to make, full of delicious savoury flavour and packed with wholesome ingredients.”
You’ll find more delicious recipes like this on Laura’s blog ‘The Whole Ingredient’.
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 200g dried butter beans, soaked overnight (or 3 tins of pre-cooked butter beans)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 4-6 garlic cloves
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 30g fresh dill
  • 200g fresh spinach
Method
  1. Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
  2. If you haven’t already pre-cooked the butter beans, put them on to boil in a large pan of water. Leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes – about the same time it takes to prepare the sauce.
  3. While the beans are cooking, make the sauce. Chop the onion, carrot and celery small, all to a similar size.
  4. Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a large frying pan and add these to the pan.
  5. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Slice the garlic and add this to the pan, giving it all a good stir.
  6. Now stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, lemon juice, 1 tbsp of oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Chop the dill (discarding any thick or tough stalks) and stir this in too.
  7. Leave the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. While this is cooking, wilt the spinach in a separate pan until there is no water remaining from the leaves.
  9. You can now assemble the pie. Line the bottom of an oven dish or pie tin with the spinach. Drain the butter beans and stir these into the tomato sauce. Gently pour this over the spinach and level it out. Sprinkle on the rest of the oregano and olive oil.
  10. Cook on a middle shelf for 30 minutes.
Coconut Scones by Janice

Winner! Sweet Treat – Coconut Scones by Janice

Sweet Treat – Coconut Scones

Janice says: “The most delicious scones ever!” These are low in sugar but sweetened with the super healthy coconut.  A ingredient Janice and ourselves can’t get enough of. Janice recommends cutting these scones thick, as they should be (otherwise they’re biscuits) and enjoying them straight from the oven with plenty of coconut oil and home chia seed jam!  Sounds truly amazeballs!!!

Find plant-based delights and natural health magic over at Janice’s blog ‘Nourished by Nature’.

Ingredients

8oz/225g self raising flour, preferably organic

2 level teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ oz/40g caster sugar

4 oz /110g soya or sunflower spread

2 oz/55g desiccated coconut

3 or 4 tablespoons plant based milk

Method

1. Heat the oven to 220C/425F/ Gas 7 and lightly grease a baking sheet.

2. The easiest way to make these scones is to add all the dry ingredients to
a food processor and pulse for a few minutes, then add the milk a little at
a time until the mixture comes together,

3. If you don’t have a food processor then put the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Using your fingertips rub the spread into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Vegan spreads are really soft so run your hands under a cold tap before you start and work quickly to keep the mixture from clumping.

4. Stir in the sugar and coconut then add the milk gradually and mix with a
wooden spoon until the mixture comes together.

5. Turn out onto a floured work surface and pat into a round ¾ inch or 2 cm thick.

6. Cut out 10 scones, I use a heart shaped cookie cutter since I reckon
we could all do with more love in our lives!

7. Brush the tops of the scones with milk and liberally sprinkle coconut on
the top.

8. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes until well risen and nicely browned

EXTRA AMAZING SPECIAL MENTIONS:
Copies of ‘Peace & Parsnips’ will also be heading to Victoria and Amy who both sent in three course vegan banquets to make even the most hardy meat-eater drool!  Delicious!!  We’ve included a picture of some of the dishes below:
Stuffed Peppers

A couple of Victoria’s beautiful dishes. Stuffed Peppers with Cauliflower Rice.  We love cauliflower rice and everything tastes amazing when stuffed in a pepper;)

 

Baked Apples -

Stuffed Baked Apples with Cashew Vanilla Cream by Victoria.  Love the blackberries in this and the cashew cream sounds delicious!!!

Amy is 17!  What a rock n roll star!!!!  Amy is studying cooking at college and is interested and passionate about cooking all foods.  Amy loved trying out vegan food and it shows.  We especially like Amy’s specially printed menu.  Vegan<3

Amy cooked up a wonderful three course feast!

Amy cooked up a wonderful three course feast!  Can’t wait to try the chocolate brownie recipe and curries are always welcome in the BHK.

 

We loved Amy's specially printed menu. So cool:)

We loved Amy’s specially printed menu. So cool:)

We’d also like send big thanks to (recipes that we loved and will be cooking soon):

Sharon’s – Seaside Pasta with Samphire
Rebecca’s – Parsnip and Chickpea Loaf with Lemon and Thyme AKA Not Roast and Chocolate Tiffin
Cora’s – Unbaked Banana Bread Balls
V’s – Spiced Coconutty Butternut Squash Soup
Thank you so much to everyone who has taken part, we loved reading your emails and recipes, the response has really touched us.  You’ve made our 4th birthday party extra special.  Its been a real celebration of home cooked happiness!
Happy Cooking,
Lee & JaneX
Categories: competition, Desserts, Dinner, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Win a Cookbook! Celebrating four years of the B.H.K

Jane and I on the beach today, enjoying the a little bit of sun (too rare).

THANK YOUXXXxxxxx (From usX)

Four years. Woah! Where did that go!!! We’ve shared recipes from our little hillside kitchen in Wales and all the way from India, Turkey, Italy, Cuba, France, Panama, Spain…..It’s been a rollercoaster ride of deliciousness.

We are super excited to announce a competition to help us celebrate our fourth BHK birthday party with you on the 31st January ’16. Basically, we want to send out a big tasty virtual hug to you all and THANK YOU (thankyouthankyou….x loads) for everything!  There are copies of Peace & Parsnips to win and it’s oh so easy to enter (see below).

YOU’RE THE BEST!

We simply couldn’t (and wouldn’t) do it without you all. Reading your comments and support makes sharing what we are passionate about so very sweet! The hours that we spend happily testing recipes, typing them up and photographing them are very well spent.  Its wonderful to be part of a group of passionate and kind food lovers; whether you’re in Saudi Arabia or Southampton, Japan or Jerusalem……we share the same common joy of cooking and of course, eating!

It seems like an age since we came up with the idea for the Beach House Kitchen over a cup of tea. Its been such a big part of our lives now, 384 posts and still going strong…..I had just returned from India and was ‘between’ jobs and felt like sharing recipes and meeting wonderful new like-minded people. Jane felt the same and it was as simple as that.  The blog has led us straight into so many incredible projects; like a TV series and a cookbook! Who knew!!  What a wild ride it has been!!!

The Beach House Kitchen has always been approached as a hobby. We both love writing and cooking, but are by no means food photographers or computer genius folk. From our first hasty snaps of dishes in our little kitchen, we have tried to become more creative in our presentation and how we choose to share the food that we eat. We have learnt and developed so much through the blog.

The Beach House Kitchen remains true to its roots, we post what we eat and we eat what we post!  Its what we’ve just had for dinner, piping hot out of the oven and made with what’s local, seasonal and most importantly, in the cupboards.  We don’t plan much (ever) and share what we love; hearty, home-cooked, happiness!

THE WAY WE EAT CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

We'll be cooking some recipes from Peace & Parsnips (our new vegan cookbook)

We’re giving away Peace & Parsnips

THE COMPETITION – HOW TO ENTER AND WIN!
As a way of saying thank you to all of you for the support over the years, even if you’re just tuning in, we thought we’d give away three copies of our latest cookbook ‘Peace & Parsnips’. If you are regulars to the blog, you’ll be very familiar with it by now!

The idea is gorgeous food, made with plants. Vibrant, sensational, vegan wonder foods! That’s it! Share your beautiful creations with us, be it savoury or sweet and we’ll pick our favourites.

The three categories are little plate, big plate and sweet treat with a copy of the book to be won for each course. We’re celebrating with a three course feast!  You can enter one recipe, or a recipe for each course.

Recipes have to be your own, something you love to cook and can have appeared on blogs or other publications before.  Recipes should be accompanied by a nice picture and a little note as to why you think we’ll like it would also be appreciated.

We’ll then post the winning recipes on the blog on 31st January ’16.

Email recipes to: thebeachhousekitchenwales@gmail.com

Please share the competition and love with your friends and like-minded happy foodies.  The more the merrier!

*The competition is only open to UK residents as ‘Peace & Parsnips’ is quite a chunky book and doesn’t travel so well. So it’s postage in the UK only.*

The Snowdon Horse Shoe

Hugs and happiness from Snowdonia;) X

 www.theprizefinder.com – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/cookbook#sthash.ZxWkIm31.dpuf

Categories: Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Recipes, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Oven Baked Squash Gnocchi with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Fennel & Spinach Pesto

Oven Baked Squash Gnocchi with Sun-dried Tomato, Fennel and Spinach Pesto

Oven Baked Squash Gnocchi with Sun-dried Tomato, Fennel and Spinach Pesto

Veganz! Omnivores! Traffic Wardens! Rock Stars! Mamas! Papas! Botanists! Kayakers!……..You’re all going to like this one.

January is here and most of us feel quite droopy.  Over fed and watered, back to work but filled with good intentions for the new year.  Over 15,000 people world wide are trying out a vegan lifestyle in January thanks to the awesome Veganuary (see below).  This year we’re all going to be healthy superheroes!  Environmental angels!  Animal lovers extraordinaire!  Just by changing our eating and consuming habits.   Its such a shining, peaceful, positive way to get 2016 off to a flying start.

Here’s a healthy recipe straight out of Peace & Parsnips.  Loads of people have been in touch and said that this has been one of their favourites.  A colourful twist on your traditional gnocchi. This is a light dish packed with texture, a rich pesto, bucket loads of nutrition and plenty of big flavours.

Colourful food always gets us happy and hungry and this is a proper rainbow plate; orange, red, green, red……YUM!  It’s an ideal dish for a special dinner, a Saturday night feast or mid-week indulgence.  If you are cooking for people who think vegan/ healthy/ vegetables/(fill in the blank….) is boring and bland, here’s something to dispel such misguided waffle.

I’m sure this recipe will help all those going fully vegan for this Veganuary.  It’s not all veggie burger, tofu and falafels after all.  One friend said to me recently, a little apprehensively; “But is being vegan any fun?”, I replied “How much fun is Halloumi???!?”  (We  were talking about giving up Halloumi at the time).  How much fun is cheese?  There is no connection between happiness and dairy products.  Trust me.

Go vegan for January (what's left of it;)

Go vegan for January (what’s left of it;)

Veganuary is a global campaign that gets people into a vegan lifestyle in January.  Being a vegan is big news in 2016 and there has been plenty of interest in the press.  There are thousands of people giving veganism a try; my Mum and sister are giving it a go and Jane is giving up her Kefir and occasional Cappuccino for the month.  I also have a load of friends who are getting into the plant-based party.  Its amazing!  Jack Monroe is posting vegan recipes over on ‘Cooking on a Bootstrap’ and other celebrities like Vivienne Westwood, Sarah Pascoe and Romesh Ranganathan are taking part.  In 2015, 49% of the folk who tried out Veganuary stayed vegan full-time.  The Veganuary site is packed with information, advice, recipes and inspiration.  In fact, you’ll find a load of recipes from Peace & Parsnips over there.  Of course, you could also have a wee look at our back catalogue for a massive slice of vegan treats.

Being vegan is becoming ever more accessible, there are an infinite number of ways to eat simply delicious, plant-based food.  Many more restaurants, supermarkets and suppliers are realising that being vegan is far from a fad.  Interest in veganism has grown hugely worldwide in 2015 and will continue to do so in 2016.

Let’s cook plants!  Here’s what I said in the book:

Making gnocchi with coloured vegetables makes brilliant sense. Any quite starchy root works well: parsnip, sweet potato, purple potatoes, cassava, pumpkin . . . But the vivid orange of squash really electrifies the plate (and the palate). With its vibrant oranges, reds and greens, this dish is a feast for the eyes as well as the belly!

The Bits

1 large squash, about 1.5kg (the more starchy varieties of summer squash are best, such as butternut) peeled and cut into rough chunks olive oil, for roasting

a little sea salt

1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced lengthways

240g firm tofu, well drained

300g unbleached white flour, sifted

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

1½ teaspoons dried sage

2 big handfuls of sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

 

For the topping
2 tablespoons roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Spinach Pistou

100g hazelnuts

100g spinach or watercress leaves

2 big handfuls fresh basil leaves

3 cloves garlic (crushed)

juice of 1 lemon

zest of 1/2 lemon

Large pinch of sea salt

2 large pinches of black pepper

75ml extra virgin olive oil

 

Do It – For 4-6

First make the spinach pistou (even better if you can make it the day before). Pistou is a Provencal version of Pesto – much lighter, without the cheese and pine nuts.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.

Place the squash on an oiled baking tray. Rub a little oil and salt over it and bake for 30 minutes, turning the pieces gently over once. You’re not looking for loads of colour here, just lovely soft, golden squash.

Toss the fennel in olive oil, place on a separate baking tray and scatter with a pinch of sea salt. Bake for 30 minutes, turning once, until it’s nicely golden and sweet. When the squash is ready, put it into a processor with the tofu and blend until smooth. Now, place in a large bowl and stir in the flour, salt, pepper and sage until a soft dough forms. Leave to cool down and firm up – it will be a lot easier to handle.

Using two teaspoons, make gnocchi shapes (lovely little flat oval dumplings) with the mixture and place on an oiled baking sheet, leaving about 5cm of space for each gnocchi to grow. Brush the gnocchi with a little more oil and bake for 20–25 minutes, until crisp and slightly golden.

For the Spinach Pistou – Place the hazelnuts in a small skillet and warm on medium heat.  Keep them moving for 5-7 minutes – they will become roasted and smell so very sweet! Put them into a food processor and blitz for 30 seconds.  The nuts should begin to break down into lumps and chunks, which is what we want.  Add the rest of the pistou ingredients (except the oil) and blitz, drizzling the oil in gradually until you get a nice runny texture, like a think sauce.  You will need to scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times.  Add more oil if the pistou needs thinning.  Check your seasoning and set aside.

Serve

Warm, on nice big plates, drizzled liberally with the pistou. Scatter the crispy fennel and sun-dried tomatoes on top with a little more pistou, and finish with some chopped roasted hazelnuts.

Foodie Fact

Winter squashes like pumpkin and butternut squash are directly related to summer squashes like courgette and even watermelon (they’re known as the gourd family).  You can use most winter squashes in this recipe, as long as they are not too watery; acorn or hokkaido will be delicious.

Butternut squash is almost 30% protein and contains outrageous levels of vitamin A which makes our skin shine.  They’re also high in vitamin C and boast a good range of minerals like iron and calcium.

All of the parts of a squash plant are edible; fruit, flowers, leaves and seeds.

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes, Special Occasion, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Christmas Pudding Truffles with Cashew Brandy Butter Sauce – Vegan, Gluten and Sugar-free

Boozy Christmas Snowflakes

Boozy Christmas Snowflakes – Vegan, sugar-free, healthy, all that jazz……

These snowflakes taste just like Christmas pudding but are waaaaaayyyyy easier and packed with natural sugars and gorgeous plant power!  When combined with our warm Cashew Brandy Sauce, this makes for the perfect Xmas sweet thang.

I always loved snowballs, normally chucking them at my sister. Also snowmen (or women) maybe one day we’ll make a boozy snow human! YUM!  We are visiting Jane’s Ma and Pa in sensational Stafford and it’s 14oC!  These sweeties will probably be as close as we get to snowflakes this year.

Here we have little explosions of tastiness, super rich and with a massive kick of brandy, chocolate and pecans to get you right into that festive cheer.  Everyone will LOVE them (guaranteed).  They can be made well in advance and keep nicely.

The warm sauce elevates these into the realms of dessert.  Quantity wise, have a play.  Thin out with water and add a touch of vanilla extract.  Make to your taste.  Its a little like custard but dare I say it…..even better (contentious behaviour there).  Having said that, custard would be lovely with these.

They are part of our lighter, nutritious, simple Christmas this year. These little snowflakes are easily made gluten-free, technically they are ‘sugar-free’ (refined that is) and are of course, full power plant-based, vegan happy.

MERRY CHRISTMAS Y”ALL!!!!!XXXxxxxxxxx

Festive sweet thangs....

Festive sweet thangs….

Recipe Notes
Use any combo of dried fruits, all welcome. We are not massive fans of that ‘dried mixed fruit’ stuff you can buy, they’re a little too dry.  We used whole dried fruits that are relatively inexpensive.

Not into the booze aspect. That’s very cool. Just up the juice quantity.

You don’t necessarily need a blender for this.  You can mash the fruit mix up with a potato masher. Jane’s Mum’s blender wasn’t doing it for us here, so we mashed it up.

The Bits - Maple syrup, soaked boozy fruit and pecans.  Woooah!

The Bits – Maple syrup, soaked boozy fruit and pecans. Woooah!

The Bits – Makes 15 little snowflakes
1 handful of each, dried apricot, dried pear/ apple, dried dates, dried figs (all roughly chopped)
2 handfuls raisins
4 tbs brandy
3 tbs apple juice or orange juice
1 orange (zest)
1 1/2 inch fresh ginger (finely grated)
1 teas ground cinnamon
2 teas mixed spice
1/4 teas ground cloves
2 teas vanilla extract

4 handfuls oats or gluten-free oats
4 handfuls pecans (broken up with hands)

125g dark vegan chocolate

2-3 tbs maple syrup (optional)

 

Snow
2 handfuls desiccated or grated fresh coconut

 

Cashew Brandy Sauce (varies depending on numbers)

Cashew butter

Maple Syrup

Brandy

Vanilla extract

 

Do It
Soak the dried fruit, spices, vanilla and orange zest for at least two hours in the brandy and juice. Longer is better.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl above gently simmering water. Leave to cool for 15 minutes.

In a food processor/ blender, add the oats and blitz until they resemble a coarse flour. Add the dried fruit mix and pulse until the mix is broken down but still chunky.

Scrape out into a large bowl, add the chocolate and pecans. Combine well with a trusty wooden spoon/ spatula.  Taste and stir in maple syrup if you’d like it sweeter.

Scatter the coconut over a plate and with slighty wet hands (prevents too much sticking) grab a squash ball sized lump of the mix and roll between your hands into nice even balls.

Place in the coconut and roll gently. Now pop them onto your display plate.

These snowflakes will keep well in a sealed container, but look best when freshly rolled.

For an extra special dessert, gently warm up enough cashew butter in a small saucepan and add maple syrup, vanilla extract and brandy until you love it!  One tablespoon at a time is best.  Thin with a touch of water or soya milk if needed.

Just like Christmas pudding, but wee.

Just like Christmas pudding, but wee.

Serve

Spoon your sauce onto a plate and pop two or three snowflakes on top.  They are also amazing as they are.

Foodie Fact

A word on ‘sugarfree’-ness.  Not all sugar is the same!  Sugar in dried fruits like these are in a natural solution of all kinds of things; anti-oxidants, minerals, micro-nutrients most of which are beneficial to the body and really help out the immune system.  Dried fruit is packed with goodness and the ideal winter snack and fruit sugar should not be lumbered in there with refined, cane, beet, corn sugars etc.  Fruit sugars (not loads of course) are way cool with us.

PS – Dried fruit is also very high in fibre, which is an all-time superhero for our bodies.

Categories: Desserts, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Maple Roasted Parsnip & Mushroom Roulade with Cashew Cream Sauce (Traditional Vegan Christmas Fare)

Parsnip, Walnut & Mushroom Roulade with some tasty trimmings

Parsnip, Walnut & Mushroom Roulade with some tasty trimmings

A simple, vegan feast to satisfy all this Christmas!

Here is a old school dish that I came up with last night, ideal for a Christmas day centre piece and only using two pans and a baking tray! I’ve also included quick recipes for the cooking veggie accompaniments – Chicory braised in sloe gin and pan fried Brussels Sprouts with Curly Kale and the creamy sauce is something everyone will enjoy.  You are sorted for Xmas 2015!

I’ve had quite a few requests for a Christmas recipe that is both straightforward and seasonal.  Being the BHK, we don’t plan things, we just let them leap out of the veg basket and we had to go parsnip this year.  It has been ‘the year of the parsnip’ for us in many ways!

All of these ingredients most of us have around the kitchen at this time of year.  I love the way that we can create feasts from simple plant-based ingredients, packed with bold flavours and interesting textures.  We are spending Christmas this year with Jane’s parents and I think they’ll love this dish, a taste of more traditional British fare.

A vegan Christmas is a delight!  I find that I cook lighter and more nourishing dishes than previous Christmas times.  Xmas can be so packed with heavy, rich food and I can’t help feeling lucky to be stuffing myself with food that is delicious and won’t leave me in a food coma, snoring by the fire place.  If I could tone down the red wine glugging, Christmas would be a highly healthy time of year!  Jane and I will be making a whole host of vegan dishes on the big day and all across the festive season, the perfect time of year to let plants shine and inspire.

I like this recipe because it is fun for all the family, no matter what the tastes.  The pastry is something everyone can get down with, crispy, flaky and then the filling is packed with flavour finished with a very creamy, slightly cheesy plant-based sauce that will be a surprise to some.  Cashews are superheroes for plant-based creaminess.

This recipe suits is you are catering for a vegan/s over Christmas.  It can be made in advance and warmed up in the oven on the day or you can prepare the filling ingredients and roll the roulade in the morning.  I have to say that freshly baked it is tastier and the pastry has a better texture.

A festive feast!

A festive feast!

Recipe Notes

This roulade will be lovely with any veggies, but we’ve paired it with a few of our extra special favourites; chicory, kale and Brussels Sprouts.  A few roast potatoes are never a bad idea!   We also love red cabbage however it arises.

If you don’t have any nutritional yeast flakes the sauce will not be cheesy.  Now may be a good time to invest in a pot of these wonderful, savoury flakes.  Especially if you are planning on cooking vegan food regularly.  Otherwise stir in some Dijon mustard or herbs.  It will be delicious.

Cashew butter can easily be substituted by blending up cashew nuts, seasoning with salt.  Soak two handfuls of cashews for 2 hours in plenty of water and then blend.  They will form a smooth paste, perfect for adding to sauces and stews.

If you don’t have access to fresh herbs, that’s cool, lets go for roughly 3/4 teas dried rosemary and 1 1/2 teas dried thyme.  You can always taste the leeks after cooking and add more herbs if you like.

This is the easiest method of rolling a roulade, you can go for a more traditional roulade roll if you are happy with that.  This method is failsafe.

Many brands of puff pastry are vegan, have a quick check of the ingredients.

Chicory is generally quite bitter but when cooked with a sweet liqueur or even a fruit vinegar, will have delicious sweet and sour flavour.

Christmas is not complete without delicious Brussels Sprouts.  Simply pan fried in a little oil, with sea salt is my favourite way to enjoy them.

Happy cooking and Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!

 

The Bits – Makes 12 slices (enough for 4-6) 

325g/ 2 medium-sized parsnips (chopped into 1 1/2 cm wide batons – the longer the better)

2 big handfuls walnuts (roughly chopped)

3 teas maple syrup

1 1/2 teas lemon (zest)

1 head garlic (whole)

 

300g/ 2 medium leeks (cleaned and finely sliced)

2 teas fresh rosemary (finely sliced)

3 teas thyme leaves (picked from stems)

 

250g mushrooms (finely diced)

Black pepper and sea salt

 

2/3 500g vegan puff pastry block (roughly 350g)

3 tbs soya milk

Flour (for dusting)

 

Cashew Cream Sauce

100g/ 1 small leek (cleaned and finely sliced)

400ml soya milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)

4 tbs cashew butter

2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes

Sea salt (to taste)

Lovely maple roasted parsnips and walnuts

Lovely maple roasted parsnips and walnuts

Do It

Preheat an oven to 200oc (180oc fan oven).

Place the parsnips and head of garlic on a baking tray, toss with a 2 tbs of oil and a large pinch of salt.  Roast for 15 mins then gently turn over the parsnips, scatter the walnuts around the tray and drizzle all with maple syrup.  Roast for 7 minutes, turn and check that they are not burning.  Roast for 3 minutes more until the parsnips are totally. beautifully golden.  The walnuts will also be nicely caramelised.  Little explosions of flavour for the roulade!  Scatter over the lemon zest and set aside.

While the parsnips are roasting, grab a large frying pan.  Add 1 tbs oil and fry your leeks for 5- 7 minutes.  When they are soft, stir in the herbs.  Set aside.  Rinse out the pan.

Now add another 1 tbs of oil to the pan and fry your mushrooms for 8 minutes on a medium heat until most of their moisture has been released.  Mix with your leeks, season with salt and pepper, set aside.

Cut a piece of baking parchment/ greaseproof paper out that will snugly fit in a baking tray.  Place on a cool work surface and lightly dust with flour, using a rolling pin, begin to roll out your pastry.  Dusting regularly as you roll, it will help to turn the pastry over a few times while you are rolling.  You’re looking for a rectangular shape around 14″ by 10″, nice and even.  When your happy with the size, trim the edges of with a sharp knife.

Your filling ingredients should now be cool, if not leave them for a while.  Begin to fill your roulade, leeks first.  See the photo below.   Now top with a layer of walnuts,  pressing down lightly.  Top with your parsnips.  Using the baking parchment, roll your roulade.   Lightly brush all of the edges, a 2cm border all around, with soya milk.  Pull the top edge of the paper towards you, packing any filling back in as you go.  Now spin the roulade around and pull the other side of the pastry up and over so the pastry overlaps slightly.  Press gently and using the paper again, flip the roulade over so that the fold is on the bottom.  Using your hands, shape the roulade into a neat, fat sausage shape.  Now press and tuck in your ends, making sure they are well sealed.  All of this is best explained by the photos below:

Spread out the leek layer and top with walnuts, pressing down gently.

Spread out the leek layer and top with walnuts, pressing down gently

Top with the roasted parsnips

Top with the roasted parsnips

Using the baking paper, roll one edge over.....

Using the baking paper, roll one edge over…..

Rolled up like a big, fat......sausage.

Rolled up like a big, fat……sausage

Cut slices, which help to act as a portioning guide and brush with soya milk

Cut slices, which help to act as a portioning guide and brush with soya milk

Cut slices into the top of the roulade and brush with soya milk.  Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes, turning once to get a nice even bake.

Sauce time.  Simple.  Add all of the ingredients to a small saucepan and warm until a low simmer, stirring regularly.  Pop a lid on, turn the heat down and leave to slowly cook through for 10 -12 minutes.  Once the leeks are soft, stir in the yeast flakes and blend with a stick blender, adding salt as needed.  This sauce does not like to be boiled for a long time, a low simmer is ideal, keep your eye on it.

Chicory braised in sloe gin

Chicory braised in sloe gin

The Veggies

3 large heads chicory (cut lengthways into quarters)

3 tbs sloe gin, port or berry vinegar (like blackberry, blackcurrant or even raspberry)

Black pepper and sea salt

 

6 large stems curly kale (stems removed, leaves finely sliced)

400g Brussels sprouts

Sea salt

 

In your trusty frying pan, add 1 tbs oil and warm on a high heat.  Lay in your chicory pieces, season with salt and pepper, fry for a couple of minutes until well caramelised and then turn over.  Fry for another 2 minutes, drizzle over the sloe gin.  Lower the heat, pop a lid on and leave to cook for 5-7 minutes, adding a splash of water if needed.  The chicory will bes soft, set aside and keep warm.  Rinse out the pan.

Adding 1 tbs oil, warm of medium high heat and add the sprouts.  Toss gently and fry for roughly 6 minutes, until the sprouts are nicely coloured (the way you like ’em).  Now add your kale and a splash of water.  Lower the heat and leave to cook for 6 minutes.  Try one (yum!).  Season with salt.

You’re now looking good to serve your festive feast!

Brussels!  Yes, please.....

Brussels! Yes, please…..

Serve

Place the golden roulade onto a nice serving platter (big plate) or chopping board and surround with glorious veggies.  Using bowls to serve the leftover vegetables.  Pour the sauce into a warm bowl/ sauce boat and enjoy the feast!  This dish goes brilliantly with a spoonful of our Pear and Cranberry Chutney.

Yes, it does look a bit like a pastry-based rocket.

Yes, it does look a bit like a pastry-based rocket

MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone! (Drawn by Jane's niece Martha)

MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone! (Drawn by Jane’s niece Martha – 9 years old)

 

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Sauces, Special Occasion, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Roasted Lebanese Cauliflower with Muhammara (Red Pepper & Walnut Dip)

Lebanese Roasted Cauliflower with Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip)

Lebanese Roasted Cauliflower with Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip)

There are zillion and one Xmas stylee recipes floating around at the minute, but I would like to take things is a slightly different direction here.  All the way to Lebanon!!!

Here’s a little festive taste of the Southern Mediterranean, with plenty of warming spices and a really rich and luxurious dip.  This Muhammara recipe is one of my all time favourite dips/ purees and it features in our cookbook.  It is an ideal alternative to hummus at this time of year.  I love hummus, but a change is always good!

Everyone is roasting cauliflower at the minute and I’m all for it.  Roasting brings out the sweetness of the cauliflower and transforms it into something spectacular.  Cauliflower is worthy of taking centre stage and in this recipe, with a few adornments, it shines.  The spices and pomegranate molasses here really takes it up a few notches.

I would eat this as light lunch around the festive season, when you have maybe gone overboard the day before, and it is nice and easy to get together yet bursting with vibrant flavours.

As close as Jane got to a swim (the Med's a bit chilly in winter), El Mojon, Spain

As close as Jane got to a swim (the Med’s a bit chilly in winter), El Mojon, Spain

Jane and I are not long back from Spain, where we had a magnificent time by the beaches and mountains of Murcia.  Regular Beach House readers will know that its one of our favourite spots in the world and we return their regularly.  You will also notice, by the beaming sunshine, that this dish was cooked in sunny Espana.  My parents own a little house out there and I’ve lived and worked over there so its just like going home really.  Our Spanish lingo is improving and we seem to do a load more socialising over there than we do in Wales, something to do with the free-flowing tapas and wine no doubt.

Our local watering hole. A well (pozo) near our house. Murica, Spain

Our local watering hole. A well (pozo) near our house. Murica, Spa

WHAT TO DO WITH POMEGRANATE MOLASSES?

I know that Pomegranate Molasses may not be top of your Christmas/shopping list this week, but it is a brilliant addition to your cupboards.  It can be used to jazz up roasted roots and veggies, as it does in this recipe.  It has a lovely sweet and sour flavour (think cranberries) and is high in sugar, meaning it adds to the caramelised effect we all know and love in roasted roots et al.

It can also be a wonderful sub for citrus in dressings and adds richness and depth to stews, dips (see below) and soups.  Have a play with it!   We also like it drizzled on bread or mixed with tahini to make a delicious spread for toast or even stir it into hot or fizzy water for a refreshing drink.

Pomegranate Molasses is something that is used so frequently in countries like Lebanon and Turkey, where Pomegranate trees are as frequent as oak trees are in Wales.  It is an ideal way of preserving gluts of Pomegranates and turning them into something gorgeously versatile.  It is basically pomegrantes juice cooked down, way down, until a sticky syrup is formed.  You can buy it in Turkey in plastic water bottles by the side of the road. PM is tangy and not overly sweet, unless sugar has been added, check the bottle.

I will be looking at posting a few more festive fav recipes on the blog before the big day.  I’ve just roasted a load of chestnuts and they need a home.  Any ideas?

There are loads of our holiday snaps over on our Facebook page and I am always sharing tasty things on Twitter.

Sorting out some stunning veggies and fruit down at the Sunday market. Mazarron, Spain

Sorting out some stunning veggies and fruit down at the Sunday market. Mazarron, Spain

Recipe Notes

When cutting the cauliflower, don’t worry too much about small pieces that break off.  These can be kept and used to thicken/ flavour soups, gravies and stews.  They can also be sprinkled into salads.

Baharat is a spice mix from the Middle East.  You may also like to use garam masala, ras el hanout etc.  Spice mixes which include warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg etc are perfect.

If you do not have pomegranate molasses, use a squeeze of lemon juice and sweetener of your choice; brown rice syrup, maple syrup etc.  This adds that gorgeous sweet and sour finish to the roasted cauliflower.

Fennel seeds are a great addition to many dishes and worth buying.  They add a little explosion of that unmistakeable aniseed/ fennel flavour.  I understand that they are not a regular ingredient and can be omitted, add a few more cumin seeds if you are fennel-less.

I know Christmas is a super busy time of year, you can buy pre-roasted red peppers in most shops.  They are normally jarred and stored in oil.  This will save a little time with the Muhammara.

Roasted Lebanese Cauliflower with Muhammara

Roasted Lebanese Cauliflower with Muhammara

The Bits – For 4

Roasted Lebanese Cauliflower

1 medium sized cauliflower (cut into 2 inch florets)

2 small onions (cut into 1/8’s)

1 head of garlic (top trimmed off to expose cloves)

 

1 teas fennel seeds

1 teas cumin seeds

2 tbs olive oil

1 1/2 teas baharat (or other spice mix)

2 teas pomegranate molasses

1/2 teas sea salt

 

Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip) – Makes 1 small bowlful

2 red peppers

2 tbs olive oil

1 teas chilli flakes

2 slices wholemeal bread (crusts taken off, stale bread works best)

2 big handfuls walnuts

1 1/2 tbs pomegranate molasses (or 1/2 lemon juice)

1 teas unrefined brown sugar or sweetener of choice

1/2 teas smoked paprika

125g firm tofu

1/2 teas sea salt

 

Garnish

1 handful fresh parsley (chopped)

Big glug extra virgin olive oil

Large pinch of bharat and smoked paprika

 

Do It

Preheat an oven on high, 240oC.

Start by roasting the peppers for the Muhammara.  Rub oil over the peppers and place on a baking tray.  Roast for 15-20 minutes, turning them once, until they are slightly blackened and soft.  Place in a bowl and cover.  Once cooled, cut in half and remove the seeds, peeling off the skin.  It should slip off nice and easy.

In a bowl, gently toss the cauliflower, onion and garlic in the oil, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and salt.  Scatter over a baking tray and place in the hot oven.  Roast for 12 minutes.

Turn all veggies over using a flat spatula (including the head of garlic), there should be some nice caramelised edges forming on the cauli and onions, this is definitely what we want.  Even nice, dark charred edges are great for this recipe.

Now sprinkle over the baharat spice and drizzle over the pomegranate molasses, give the tray a little shake and pop back into the hot oven for 10 more minutes roasting, until dark golden and crispy.

While all the roasting is going on, you can make your Muhammara.  Place the peppers and all other ingredients in a food processor and blitz until creamy.   Check the seasoning and scoop into your most attractive bowl.

Warm a nice big shallow bowl or serving platter and scoop over your cauliflower.  The garlic will be nice and soft, just pop the cloves out of their skins and scatter over the dish.

The aroma of this dish is a delight. Spicy!

The aroma of this dish is a delight. Spicy!

Serve

Sprinkle a little more Bharat over the cauliflower and finished the Muhammara with a drizzle of delicious olive oil, a sprinkle of paprika and a little freshly chopped parsley.

The Roasted Cauliflower and Muhammara will be delicious with a crisp, green salad and a bowl of olives.  In Peace & Parsnips I recommend warm black olives and toasted pitta bread.  Pickles of any variety will be a great addition.  Now this is really starting to sound like a feast fit for the festive season!

Beach House on the road. The many deserted beaches of Murcia. Aguillas, Spain

Beach House on the road. The many deserted beaches of Murcia. Aguillas, Spain

Foodie Fact

Pomegranate certainly brightens up this time of year and I much prefer the flavour to cranberries, our festive staple for tanginess and that lovely festive touch of bright red.    Pomegranate is packed with vitamins C and K and is also high in calcium and potassium.  Pomegranate is also a good source of fibre and will help to keep our heart, digestive and immune system healthy.  Perfect food to get us through the dark, winter days.

Hiking up in the Espuna mountains. Beautiful forests. Murcia, Spain

Hiking up in the Espuna mountains. Beautiful forests. Murcia, Spain

 

Mazarron sunsets demand a G+T - Murcia, Spain.

Mazarron sunsets demand a G+T – Murcia, Spain.

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pumpkin, Ginger and Kaffir Lime Soup

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At this time of year, I’d quite happily live on soup.

I just have time to squeeze this post in before driving to Durham and the sparkling NEVFest (North East Vegan Fest).  The first time that Jane and I have not been to a food festival this year together.

Durham is where all of my family are from and I’m very much looking forward to cooking and doing a talk in the Stadium of Light, the home of Sunderland AFC.  For my sins, I support the red and whites.  It will be quite surreal.  I never imagined talking and cooking vegan in a football stadium but learnt recently that at least one professional football team in the UK has gone totally vegan, so maybe its not so strange.  Lentil pies at half time with some miso broth.  Yum!  The future…..

You may think that the life of a food blogger is all hanging out by the fire, sipping a cheeky Oolong whilst leafing through a mountain of cookbooks, but it ain’t.  We all have busy lives these days and posts are normally squeezed in somewhere or other.  Janice (over at the sparkling Nourished by Nature blog) and I were just chatting about this the other day.  Blogging is a labour of love for many of us and we are just crazy about food and sharing our foodie inspiration.

This is not helped by the fact that I am a complete luddite.  I still do not have a phone (hence the lack of Instagram action) and only have a bulky laptop.  I’m trying.  But in reality, I am a techno caveman at heart.  I like paper and pens, books and postcards.  The occasional stapler.  I do love sharing things online though and hope you enjoy these little recipes.  I’ve met such a wonderful global community via the BHK.  The internet is an AMAZING place!

I’ve been cooking with loads of squashes and pumpkins (actually pumpkins are members of the squash family) at Trigonos and at home.  Our local organic veg farm Tyddyn Teg has been growing a wonderful variety of squashes; spaghetti, the mighty crown prince and even little acorns.  Some are even larger than my head.

Squashes are perfect winter fuel, high in energy with loads (I mean loads!) of antioxidants and beta carotene.  Just what our bodies crave and thrive on come the wintery months.  In darker times, eat brighter foods!  Squashes also store well, but I doubt they’ll be lasting very long around these parts.

COCO!

When I say coconut cream I mean the cream in a tin of coconut milk.  If  your coconut milk contains emulsifiers and the like, it will not separate and therefore you cannot extract the cream.

To extract coconut cream from a tin of coco milk, simply place it in a fridge for a couple of hours, turn it over, open the tin and pour out the coco water.  You are left with at least half a tin of very creamy coconut cream to play with.  Try whipping it up with some lime zest and juice or just add a little sweetener to make delicious, vegan whipped cream.   Use the leftover coco water in smoothies, on your morning cereal, add it to stews or even cook rice with it (one of our personal favs).

You may also like to use the hard, block variety of coconut cream.  Just follow the pack instructions.  Don’t worry about adding too much coconut cream to this soup, it will only make it even richer and more delicious.

Pumpkin Seeds before roasting in the oven.... Pumpkin Seeds before roasting in the oven….

ROAST YOUR OWN PUMPKIN SEEDS

I never waste my squash/ pumpkin seeds.  I always pick them out and quickly roast them in the oven with a drop of oil and salt.  Delicious!  Just place them on a baking tray and bake them for 8 minutes on 180oC.  Stir them and keep baking them for 5 minute intervals until they are dark golden and crisp.  Its so easy and each type of squash seed will taste slightly different and have their own texture.  Pumpkin seeds are nice and light, very crispy when roasted.  Perfect as a soup-topper.

...and after. YUM! …and after. YUM!

I love adding ginger to soups and a little kaffir gives a vibrant fragrance to the rich, sweetness of the pumpkin.  You can use any type of squash here and you may like to half the recipe or freeze the leftovers.  I think cooking in big batches makes loads of sense.  We’ve also been experimenting with pumpkin smoothies and they are a real treat.  A pumpkin chai latte smoothie is a thing of beauty and I’ll hopefully get around to sharing it soon.

Enjoy and stay cosy,

LeeX

Recipe Notes

As I mentioned, experiment with different squashes, they are all wonderful and have properties of their own.  Some sweet and firm, some lighter and slightly blander, others intense and wonderful roasted.  There are so many varieties and this is still (just about) the time to enjoy them in season here in the UK.

You’ll need an extra big pan for this one.  As I said, half the recipe for something a little more manageable.

Pumpkins are ace! Pumpkins are ace!

The Bits – Makes 10 large bowls
1 medium pumpkin – 1.75kg (peeled and cut into rough 1 inch chunks)
1.5 litres water/ light vegetable stock
7 kaffir lime leaves
50-60g fresh ginger (peeled and finely diced)
2 onions (finely diced)
200g coconut cream

2 teas salt

Do It

In a very large pan, add 2 teas cooking oil, warm and then add your onions and salt.  Fry on medium heat for five minutes until softened and then add your pumpkin, ginger and lime leaves.  Stir well and cook for another two minutes, then add the water/ stock.  Bring to a boil and pop a lid on, lowering the heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the coconut cream, stirring well and simmer for another 10 minutes, adding more hot water if needed.  The pumpkin should now be nice and soft.

Pick out as many lime leaves as you can.  Taste the soup, checking for seasoning.  Now give the soup a blend until creamy and smooth with a stick blender or in a food processor.

Serve

In warm bowls, scattered with freshly chopped chillies and some roasted pumpkin seeds.  A little fresh coriander would also be a delight!

Foodie Fact

Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which means they are cousins to melons, watermelons, cucumbers, squashes.

Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of anti-oxidants and minerals, they even contain a good amount of iron and of course, plenty of protein.  Surprisingly China is now the worlds largest pumpkin seed producer.  Who knew!

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Mango & Coconut Lassi

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Mango and Coconut Lassi (Vegan)

A quick and delicious breakfast for us this morning.  The perfect antidote to a very grey day in Wales, some tropical flava!  We managed to pick up/ save some very ripe mangoes recently and have been trying out coconut water, which seems like a bit of a craze at the minute.  Mangoes and coconut, beaches and palm trees, a little escapism from the dark nights and storms of our little hillside retreat.

A lassi is something like an Indian milkshake that comes in many varieties, basically salty or sweet, but there are so many ways this yoghurt based drink can be enjoyed.  Salted lassi is lovely, normally flavoured with a little ground cumin.  Lassi’s are easily made vegan with the addition of non-dairy milk and vegan yoghurt, both are best used unsweetened we find.  You can then control which and how much sweetener you choose to use, if any.  The mango and coconut water are already sweet here and any sweetener is really only needed to give the sweet tooth a little treat.

TOP MANGOES

We’ve eaten mangoes all over the world, but have to say that the best are Indian.  I don’t think any other country reveres a fruit quite like Indians with their mangoes.  Maybe the French with grapes?!  Italians with tomatoes?!!  Brits with apples?!! Its out there for discussion.  Surely having a mango tree in your garden is a sign of very good karma though!  Especially in Wales!!

The sheer diversity of mangoes in India is bewildering and the season is anticipated like the festive season over here.  Mangoes are now very expensive in India, especially certain highly regarded varieties like Alphonso, Badami, Chausa, Dasheri…..there are loads.  Where are you favourite Mangoes from?  Thailand and the Philippines are closely behind India in the mango nirvana stakes for sure.  The ones we bought here were from Brazil(!)

Adding turmeric to lassi’s is an age old remedy for stomach complaints in the sub-continent and we like adding turmeric to anything, such is it’s vibrant health giving properties (not to mention the colour!  WHAM!!  YELLOW!!!)

We are drinking these in autumnal Wales and need no extra chilling.  If you happen to be in a nice hot part of the globe (well done!) you may like to add a few ice cubes to the lassi and decrease the coconut water a little.  You could also freeze your coconut water into ice cubes, this works brilliantly and adds a lovely coco twist to cold drinks.

Other lassi varieties you could try:

Strawberry, Pineapple and Mint, Avocado and Lime, Beetroot and Thyme, Chocolate and Pistachio,  Apple and Chai Spiced…….

You may also like to check out the brilliant Vegan Richa’s recipe for a spicy Thandai Lassi.

How to pick a ripe mango?  Well worth knowing.

Mangoes are such a treat in Wales, they don’t come our way very often.  We think a lassi is the perfect home for a nice ripe mango and a breath of bright tropical air in the early dark nights and rain clouds of beautiful Wales.

Recipe Notes

If are struggling to find coconut water, go for non-dairy milk (like soya or almond) and even straight water will make a good lassi.

If you can get ground cardamom, please do.  Just a sprinkle on the top transforms the lassi.  Cardamom and Indian sweets got together perfectly, but remember that too much can be overpowering.  Lightly sprinkle.

These lassi’s are made without turmeric, so the colour is a little lighter.

Mango and Coconut Lassi (Vegan)

Mango and Coconut Lassi (Vegan)

The Bits – Makes two small glasses

1 mango (peeled and de-stoned)

175ml coconut water

5 tbs dairy free yoghurt

1-2 teas sweetener (we used brown rice syrup)

1/2 teas turmeric (optional)

 

Pinch cardamom powder

Do It

Pop all ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth and creamy.  Check the sweetness and you can even add more yoghurt for extra creaminess.

Creamy sweet fruity YUM!

Creamy sweet fruity YUM!

Serve

Pour into your finest glassware and sprinkle over a little cardamom and chopped almonds or pistachios for a real authentic India style.

Foodie Fact

Soya is packed full of protein and coconut has amazingly healthy fats.  Mangoes are very high in vitamin A and C……as far as breakfasts go, this is a smooth and tasty winner!

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Smoothies, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Homemade Vegan Mayonnaise

Vegan Mayonnaise

Vegan Mayonnaise

A quick post here, but something quite special.  Have you played with aquafaba yet?  It is a sensation and amazing in so many ways. This very simple vegan mayonnaise is both rich and creamy whilst purely plant based.

AQUAFABA?

Aquafaba is basically the cooking broth of chickpeas or other beans.  It can be used in a whole host of amazing ways, from making vegan meringues, fudge, pavlova and macaroons to a brilliant egg substitute in baking.  See The Vegan Society’s 13 Amazing things to do with aquafaba.   There is also an awesome Facebook page called ‘Vegan Meringues – Hits and Misses!‘ which has thousands of people playing and talking about this bafflingly brilliant ingredient.  Exciting times!

It seems we are only just getting to grips with all of the uses for this aqua faba (Greek for ‘water’ and ‘bean’).  There is much experimenting going on in kitchens across the world.  I know most of my non-vegan friends are really excited about the prospects of converting something so innocuous and plentiful into sensationally light and dreamy cakes and whipped creams.  Even Baked Alaska is now possible, purely plant! (see the brilliant Lucy’s recipe here).

When making things like mayo, dips, hummus etc that call for quite a lot of oil, I normally opt for something a little less expensive.  Extra virgin olive oil is never (and should never be) cheap and is best drizzled unadulterated onto warm bread or salad leaves.  The flavours are so subtle and fragrant that they can be wasted on a dressing or hummus.  My advice, find a decently priced middle of the roader with good flavour but not a hefty price tag.  Rapeseed oil is a wonderful one and if you’re in the UK, its grown and made here and has the most amazing flavour and deep colour.  It’s making quite a comeback.  Many new modern style producers are making rapeseed oil in the same way that high quality olive oil is made.  It shows!  Here are two of the very best Blodyn Aur and  Bennett and Dunn.  Having said all of that, I wouldn’t use these oils here.  Something more neutral like a sunflower oil is perfect.

There are so many ways of flavouring things mayonnaise, blend with roasted red peppers or onion, try it with any combo of herbs, add chipotle chillies or smoked paprika, lime and coriander…….go wild with it!  Have fun……

Here goes our basic, everyday mayo recipe.  Nice amount of vinegar, touch of sweetness and a little kick of Dijon mustard.  After you give this simple recipe a try you’ll never go for shop bought mayo again.

Recipe Note

You may like to add 1 teas lemon juice and reduce the vinegar content.  We don’t normally do this as it is means your mayo won’t last as long in the fridge.  It does taste nice though.

Most vegan mayo lasts a good six weeks after opening, to give you some gauge of how long it will last in the fridge.  Our mayo normally doesn’t make it past a few days.

The Bits – Makes roughly 200ml Mayonnaise

1 1/2 – 2 tbs apple cider/ white wine vinegar

2 tbs chickpea/ bean broth

1 teas dijon mustard

1/2 teas sea salt

1/2 teas sweetener (we use rice syrup)

125 ml neutral oil (like sunflower)

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All you need to make glorious mayo

Do It

Add all of the ingredients bar the oil to a narrow cup/ jug (a measuring jug works well).  With a stick blender, blitz the mixture a few times and then gradually drizzle the oil into the jug whilst the blender is running.

The amazing aquafaba makes such a creamy texture

The amazing aquafaba makes such a creamy texture

The mayonnaise will thicken and become white and creamy.  Keep blending, for a minute or two, until the thickness resembles your favourite mayonnaise.

Do not add any further vinegar to the mayonnaise at this stage, it will ruin the thick texture.

You can do this in a food processor if its easier.

Serve

You know how you like it!  Although we’ve taken pictures of mayo being served like a dip, its worth remembering that this is predominately oil.  Mayo is always  good spread over some freshly toasted bread and made into a sandwich or Jane’s favourite, with chips (they are French Fries to our American contingent)

Vegan Mayo - How do you like it?

Vegan Mayo – How do you like it?

Foodie Fact

Sunflower oil is light and highly nutritious and can also be used to keep skin moist and hair shining.  It has a good balance of mono and polyunsaturated fats (the good ones) and is also high in vitamins, especially Vitamin A and E, a potent antioxidant.

Unrefined oils, like sunflower, are best in recipes that do not require cooking.  Unrefined means that the nutrients, colour and flavour are still there.  Refined oils are generally more stable at high temperatures i.e. when frying or baking.

We've been on some lovely walks recently up near Snowdon

We’ve been on some lovely walks recently up near Snowdon

The lake beside Plas-y-Brenin, looking down towards Snowdon

The lake beside Plas-y-Brenin, looking down towards Snowdon

Categories: Nutrition, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Mexican Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa (Vegan)

Mexican Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa Mexican Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa

 

Vegan omelettes are delicious and simple to prepare. A very tasty day-starter especially when boasting smoky chipotle, mushroom, toasted sweetcorn and a lively salsa.

The flavours of Mexico mirror Mexican culture; diverse and vibrant, fresh and intense.  There are many ways to make a plant-based omelette but I like this combination of gram flour, caramelised veggies and silken tofu.  Loads of flavours and textures going on.

I’m not so keen on creating dishes that exactly mimic meat/ cheese/ eggs etc, just something that everyone will be able to enjoy and appreciate the similarities in texture and flavour.  This is one of those dishes that is carnivore approved!

Eating vegan food doesn’t mean giving things up, it normally means adapting dishes and is always full of creative surprises.  Just like these omelettes.  They are rich and delicious and of course, are packed with wonderful nutrition.

I normally like juices, fruit, porridge, muesli etc for breakfast, I don’t have a sweet tooth, but it seems to be what my body is craving first thing.  There are however those exceptional days when only savoury will do.  This normally follows a few glasses of moonshine down at the local tavern I find!

Pan fried mushrooms are just packed with umami-style flavour, along with the sweetcorn and the toasty, nutty flavour of the gram flour making for a flavour packed breakfast.

VIVA MEXICO!

Mexicans are brilliant at breakfast and many of the classic breakfast dishes are egg-based.  Huevos Rancheros, Huevos a la Mexicana, Breakfast tacos or burritos, Gorditas (think a pasty meets a tortilla, stuffed with beans and griddled, utterly delicious)……. All easily veganized, especially as avocado is such a staple in Mexico.  They are normally served with loads of chilli in some form or another, either chopped raw or a potent sauce.  There is also the beauty of the ubiquitous and always freshly homemade green and red sauces (salsa verde y rojo) that can be spooned over anything to add sensational flavour.  Breakfast is no exception.

Chilli is sure to get the body and mind warmed up for the day!  Once a week, I like to have a spicy brekkie and in Mexico became accustomed to chewing on a whole chilli in the morning.  Beats an espresso I can tell you!

Chipotle Chilli - A real taste of Mexico! Chipotle Chilli – A real taste of Mexico!

WHAT IS CHIPOTLE?

Chipotle is basically a smoked red jalapeno chilli that is now readily available around the UK and Europe.  If you’re reading in the States, I’m sure you know your way around a chipotle already!  Chipotle chillies can be bought in many forms either dried, in adobo (canned), as a paste (popular in the UK) or ground.  You can sometimes replace chipotle with smoked paprika in recipes.

I spent six months backpacking around Mexico, many years ago now, but I can still perfectly recall many of the meals I ate there.  The diversity and flavours of Mexico blew me away.  Thank goodness there are a few decent Mexican restaurants in the UK nowadays, there is much more to Mexican cuisine than a Texmex Burrito (although they can be awesome too!)

One of the delights of Mexican cooking is the chipotle and other smoky, sweet chillies.  They are unique and a real delicacy.  Many markets have a huge variety of smoky chillies piled up, all used in different dishes, from the salsa rojo to the feast  that is a mole pobaldo.  Chipotles are quite fiery, but I’d say are medium on the blow your head off scale.  Less hot than a raw jalapeno that is for sure.

Chipotles are normally smoked for several days and in that time shrivel up.  The flavours really intensify, so this is worth bearing in mind when cooking.  A little chipotle can flavour a large pot of stew.  Chipotles are quite tough and are therefore best used in slow cook dishes like soups, stews and are especially good as a surprise ingredient in chutney/ marmalades.  I love a cheeky Chipotle Marmalade and will attempt to get a recipe on here one day.

Viva Mexico!

Gram flour is a wonderful ingredient.  So full of flavour and totally gluten free, made from ground chickpeas.  Gram flour can also be made form roasted pulses and comes in raw and roasted varieties.  Roasted gram has a fuller flavour.

It is a healthy alternative to wheat flour and I’m using it to help bind together vegan baking at the moment. A couple of tbs mixed with an equal quantity of water can make a huge difference to the texture of a cake.

Gram flour has been used in Europe for many years, its maybe not so exotic as we think.  Examples of this would be the pancake style dishes Socca (France) or Farinata (Italy).  Both traditional and totally gram.  When gram flour is cooked its strong flavour mellows, I do quite like my vegan omelettes a little soft, but some are not keen on the flavour of raw-ish gram flour.   Gram flour is a top larder item for every cook.

My other favourite chilli at the moment, the mighty British Komodo Dragon Chilli. POW!

FUTURE FOODS

We can’t eat meat and dairy at current levels.  The world will not sustain us.  There are very clever people out there who are creating fake meat and cheese in laboratories and just recently I saw a youtube clip of a scrambled vegan egg.  It certainly looked like the real deal, all soft and shiny when cooked.  What it tastes like remains to be seen so I’ll stick with this omelette for now.

Most of us are waking up to the fact that our eating habits must change, for so many positive reasons; we love animals, for our own health and the health of the planet.  The future of food for me is lots of fruits, legumes, veggies and nuts. However, some folk will still want a bloody hamburger or a runny egg yolk, this is now becoming a very real, plant-based alternative.

This is a lively breakfast/ brunch (in fact lunch too) sure to get your taste buds firing first thing, certainly adding a little spice and big flavours to an autumn morning.  A wake up call! A fiesta in your mouth!!

*****For more regular BHK action we are now posting loads of news, recipes etc over on facebook and twitter.*****

Recipe Notes:

Corn season in the UK is coming to an end, but what better way to use  your gorgeous fresh corn on the cobs.  You can use tinned sweetcorn, but it just ain’t the same.

Some vegan omelettes call for the tofu to be mixed in with the flour, but I like the texture contrast of keeping it separate.

I like these just cooked, over cooking an vegan omelette will only make it dry.  Which is never a good thing.  A couple of minutes in a warm pan is enough and then straight under the grill and then eaten just after.  Just like an egg omelette, the warmer and fresher the omelette the more delicious.

I love chilli so 1 1/2 tbs is a good amount.  Use a little less if you’re not quite ready for a full chilli hit at the breakfast table.

Adding fresh coriander to the salsa and omelette is lovely.   Unfortunately, we didn’t have any.

The Bits – For 2 large omelettes

Omelettes

150g gram flour (besan)
250ml water
½ teas salt
½ teas baking powder (gluten-free)

1 teas cumin seeds

250g firm silken tofu (sliced)

200g sweetcorn (2 corn on the cobs)
2 large mushrooms (like field or portobello)

1-1 1/2 tbs chipotle paste

Oil for cooking (I used rapeseed/ canola oil)

Avocado and Tomato Salsa

2 tomatoes
2 spring onions
1 avocado

2 large leaves kale (curly, black kale etc – stems removed and finely sliced)
1 lime juice
½ lime zest
½ teas salt

Unfolded you can see the lovely corn, shrooms and those tasting pieces of soft tofu. Unfolded you can see the lovely corn, shrooms and those tasty pieces of soft tofu.

Do It

In a bowl, mix together the gran flour, water, salt and baking powder.   Set aside.

Make your salsa, this can be done in advance. Combine all the ingredients, lightly toss together and check seasoning.

Grab a large, heavy bottomed frying pan.  Add 1/2 tbs oil and warm on a high heat.  Once hot add the cumin seeds and corn. Stir and saute for 5 minutes, until the corn has a nice, dark golden colour.  Set corn aside.  Wipe pan clean.

Pop pan back on the stove.  Warm another 1/2 tbs oil and add your mushrooms, saute for 2 minutes, stirring regularly, add the chipotle paste and cook through for another minute.  Set aside and wipe clean pan.

Warm a grill on medium heat.  You can flip the pancake in the pan, but it is quite thick and can break easily.  Better to go for the grilling option.

Warm 1/3 tbs oil in your frying pan, make sure the pan base has a nice thin covering of oil.  Scatter half your corn and mushrooms into the pan and spoon over half your gram flour mix.  Ensure the pan base has an even covering of mix and place half your tofu evenly across the omelette.  Cook for 2-3 minutes and then loosen the edges with a flat spatula.  This is a good sign that the base is cooked (you can even have a quick peek!)

Place the pan under the grill (drizzle a little more oil over the omelette for added richness at this stage) and grill until the omelette is cooked through, a nice golden colour, a couple of minutes should be enough.

Mexican Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa Mexican Chipotle Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa

Serve

As soon as possible along with the salsa.  You can either fold the omelette or leave it flat and sprinkle over the salsa, like a pizza. Mexican omelette pizza!?  Quite a thing!!

A nice sweet and sour sauce, something like a smoky Mexican Salsa Rojo would be perfect, but not necessary.

The pizza style omelette The pizza style omelette

 

Down on Dinas Dinlle. Autumn has been beautiful in North Wales. Down on Dinas Dinlle. Autumn has been beautiful so far in North Wales.

Foodie Fact

Gram flour is higher in protein than wheat flour and is packed with healthy unsaturated fats, iron and fibre.  More reasons to go gram.

See you soon! See you soon!
Categories: Breakfast, gluten-free, Nutrition, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Vegfest UK Awards 2015 – Last chance to vote!

blog

You may have heard that Peace and Parsnips has been voted in the ‘Best Vegan Cookbook’ category at this years Vegfest Awards.  Its a wonderful accolade for us and we’re very, very chuffed.  Today is the last day that you can vote and every vote counts.  There are loads of amazing vegan cookbooks on the list and its a privilege just to be there.

Anyone can vote and there are load of interesting categories.  Its incredible to see so many vegan/ plant based products, restaurants, chocolate, fashion…..the list goes it.  It just shows how much a vegan lifestyle is growing.  Happy days indeed!

VOTE HERE

Hopefully see you in London on Sunday 11th October for the Vegfest awards ceremony and a Beach House Kitchen cooking demo and book signing.

We hit the road and cooked the food festivals in 2015....

We hit the road and cooked the food festivals in 2015….

....and ate loads of pizza!

….and ate loads of pizza!

Categories: Awards/ Recognition, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Charred Cauliflower Steaks with Coconut & Kale Puree

Charred Cauliflower Steaks with Coconut and Kale Puree

Charred Cauliflower Steaks with Coconut and Kale Puree

This really is vegan food for everyone!  Charred cauliflower is something that appeals to all and not something you’d expect from the humble cauli.  It’s actually a superstar veg and has been hopelessly cooked over the years, giving it a bad rep.  Don’t boil it to death, breath life into it by bringing out its intense flavours and creaminess.  Of course, this being the BHK, we have to talk a little about its shining health properties.  Its REALLY good for you (see ‘Foodie Fact’ below).

Here’s a dish that looks great, tastes mighty fine and takes very little preparation. This is the easy kind of recipe that anyone can whip up at home and make it look like a restaurant style dish. I love it when that happens! This is also a very BBQ friendly way of cooking cauliflower.  These steaks will grace any BBQ and make a tasty burger filling (or two).  Charring the cauliflower ‘steaks’ (what else could we call them?!) and poaching the rest of the cauli in coconut milk highlights two of the amazing flavours hidden in a humble cauliflower.  In this dish, you get the best of both worlds.  Great texture and superbly creamy when poached and blended (something to do with the natural pectins).

Vegans can easily cook this for self-confessed carnivores (aka people who cannot live without meat….until they try these!!!) and want to make their way into the world of plant-based food.  There is a huge shift towards plant-based foods happening and there are an infinite number of ways of making plants incredible; vegans are now making meringues and macaroons out of chickpea/ bean juice, the other night I made something like a parmesan cheese out of gram flour (its a long story……more to come in that department).  Endless is the plant kingdoms culinary surprises and I feel we are only beginning to harness the tastiness of plants.  Watch this space.  Vegans are pulling out all the creative stops!

BLEEDING BURGERS!?

Somebody has recently made a vegan burger than bleeds.  I have very contrasting feelings about that.  One, a little unsettled.  Two, amazing for our health, animals and the planet.  Looking at it like that, the little weirdness is something I can get over.  The more plants we pack into our diets, the better for all!

Its a stormy day up here on the hill, but we’ve had a few nice days of sunshine which always makes me very happy for our little veg patches.  I also get to dig my shorts out.  Our cauliflowers are nothing to write home about this year, slugs seem to find them irresistible and our slug issues are many and overwhelming sometimes.  You know we’ve only watered the garden once this year.  Once!  This is surely some kind of record.  Wales will not be running low on water anytime soon.  Its a blessing (in a way).  But maybe it could bless us more in autumn, than in the heart of summer.  We’ve been harvesting blackberries (strangely early), raspberries, rocket and kale.  We’ve also got a good looking crop of potatoes, beetroots, parsnips and we may even get a few peas if the wind stays down.

BEACH LOVIN’

When the sun comes out, we’re on the beach.  Our local beach Dinas Dinlle (where a lot of the pictures in Peace & Parsnips were taken) is one of my all-time favourites.  Backed by the Snowdonia hills and mountain rangers, it stretches for many miles, all the way from Caernarfon down to Trefor near the Llyn Peninsula.  There is a large Bronze age fort halfway along the beach and at one end you have a bird anctuary and the other, a dramatic mountain range, the Rivals.  I run along the beach quite often and when the tide is out, feel like the only person alive. No footprints to be seen, just me and the smooth sand stretching off into the distance, the sea birds, the occasional wave.  Even though the weather is….changeable, the sea is still warm and the water seriously rejuvenating.  A swim in the Irish Sea is not easily forgotten!  There is something very special about our local beach, overlooking Lovers Peninsula on Anglesey and the Menai Straits.  (Maybe I should start working for the Welsh Tourist Board?)  Anyway…..back to the kitchen….

No complaints here - North Wales is beautiful! Dinas Dinlle Beach

No complaints here – North Wales is beautiful! Dinas Dinlle Beach

The Bits – For 2
1 large cauliflower (750g)
1 white onion (finely diced)
3 teas ground cumin
2 teas turmeric
2 pinches chilli flakes
3 large stems kale (roughly 80g leaves only)
3 tbs light olive/ coconut oil
500ml coconut milk

Black pepper and sea salt

Do It

Trim your kale leaves off the woody stems.  Finely slice.  Cut cauliflower (as below) down the centre into two cross sections/ steaks, roughly 1 1/2 inches think.  Nice and chunky.  Trim the end of the stems off.  Roughly chop the rest of the cauliflower.  Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper.

Cut your 'steaks' from the centre of the cauliflower. Nice, neat, cross sections if poss. (they cook nicer that way)

Cut your ‘steaks’ from the centre of the cauliflower. Nice, neat, cross sections if poss. (they cook nicer that way)

Preheat oven to 180oC.

For the puree – In a large saucepan, add 1 tbs oil and warm on a medium heat, saute your onions for 2 minutes, until softened.  Now add the cauliflower and 2 teas turmeric and 2 teas cumin.  Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.  Pour in the coconut milk, bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer.  Pop a lid on and leave to cook for 15 minutes.  Stirring occasionally.

For the steaks – While the puree is simmering.  Grab a large, heavy frying pan.  On a high heat, warm 1 tbs oil.  When hot, place your cauliflower steak (one at a time), face down, into the pan.  There should be a good sizzle now.  Press down with a spatula to get it nicely charred.  Check after 1-2 minutes of frying.  Once you get a nice char, flip over and do the same on the other side.  You may need a drizzle more oil here. don’t be shy with it, this dish needs a bit of oil to get that nice colour.

Straight out of the pan, sprinkled with spices, ready for the oven

Straight out of the pan, sprinkled with spices, ready for the oven

Now place the cauliflower steak onto a baking tray, lightly sprinkle with ground cumin, chilli flakes and a few more twists of fresh black pepper.   Repeat the process with the other piece of cauliflower.  Once both are cooked, place the tray in the oven and finish off cooking the cauliflower for 15-20 minutes.  Check that the base of the stem is softened.  You can do this by trimming off a slice of the stem and trying it.

Finish the puree, by adding the finely sliced kale leaves and stirring them in.  Pop a lid back on and simmer for a few minutes.  Then blend the puree well with a stick blender or add to a food processor and blitz, thin with a little water if needed.  Check seasoning and keep warming.

Charred Caulifower Steak - Ready for your resident/ local carnivores approval!

Charred Caulifower Steak – Ready for your resident/ local carnivores approval!

Serve

On a warm plate, ladle out some sauce into the centre, spread out evenly in a circular motion with the base of the spatula and gently place a cauliflower steak in the middle.

Foodie Fact

Cauliflowers are actually really high in Vitamin C, in fact, this dish will easily supply your daily RDA for Vitamin C in one tasty plate.  Cauli also contain a good amount of protein and high levels of fibre.  It also offers a load of the vitamin B’s and a healthy helping of omega 3 fats.    So if you’d like to keep a healthy heart, brain, give yourself a bit of a detox, cauliflower is perfect.

Catching a few rare sun rays in the herb garden aka the sun trap

Catching a few precious sun rays in the herb garden aka the sun trap

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Italian Style Cannellini Beans with Pickled Chillies and Basil Oil

 

Italian Style Cannellini Beans with Pickled Chillies and Basil Oil Italian Style Cannellini Beans with Pickled Chillies and Basil Oil

Jane and I have been down at Whitstable at my sisters wedding bash.  Laura and Paul were married on a beautiful beach in Cornwall, but this one was for all the family and other rabble!  It was a wonderful time, a marquee in the back garden, bright sunshine all day and Jane and I cooked up a Italian feast; plenty of antipasti to start with salads, tarts, stews etc later on.  We had a local band play a few tunes and then an impromptu talent contest from the semi-sozzled/ fully-sozzled revellers.  Stand up comics, musicians and spoken word enthusiasts.  It was a proper giggle.

A quick and easy breakfast/ brunch was in order the morning after.  Something with a bit of substance.  This is a nice change from your normal beans on toast!  I love my beans and like to play with flavours in the morning, of course, sometimes a classic beans on toast is in order (you know the brand!) But homemade beans are so much tastier and better for us. They also only take a few minutes longer to prepare and combined with the herb oil and chillies, tickles the tastebuds nicely.

The pickled chillies are essential here, you can easily make your own or buy them in, you’ll find them easily in your local shops.  I love the way Italians add cheeky chilli to things, just a tickle to get you interested.  I am more of a unabashed chilli muncher and therefore eat a few whole with my brekkie.  Probably not for everyone, but I learnt this trick in Mexico and it certainly cuts through the morning head mist.

After all the extravagance of wedding food, this was one of my favourite things to eat all weekend!  So simple and tasty, I had to share it with you.  Here we serve it with some smoked aubergine puree, which is not your normal breakfast fare, but as with all party menu’s, there were some brilliant leftovers to hoover up.

With the antipasti table With the antipasti table

Use any greens here, spinach, kale etc……  They make all the difference for so many reasons.

I like to soak and cook dried beans. More flavour and better texture. But you can use two tins of beans if you like.

You will have a little basil oil left over, it seems wise to make a little more than needed.  Cover it with cling film and it will keep well for a couple of days.  The basil may discolour a little.  You may like to blanch it for 30 seconds in boiling water to help to prevent this.  But that seems like a lot of hassle in the morning (especially after a wedding party!)

BIG CONGRATS TO LAURA AND PAUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Laura cutting Mums massive Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake Laura cutting Mums massive Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake

The Bits – For 2 Healthy Appetites

480g cooked cannellini beans (2 tins or 250g dried beans – soaked overnight in plenty of cold water)

4 big handfuls of spinach/ kale leaves

2 teas dried oregano

2 teas paprika

3 tbs tomato puree

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)

1-2 tbs fruity olive oil

 

1 handful sun dried tomatoes (roughly chopped) – Optional deliciousness

 

Basil Oil

1 large handful basil leaves (very finely chopped)

1 large handful parsley (very finely chopped)

2 tbs lemon juice

1 large clove garlic (crushed)

75 ml olive oil

Large pinch sea salt

 

Sourdough Bread (for toast)

2 ripe tomatoes (chopped)

Pickled red chillies (as you like)

 

Do It

For the basil oil, stir all the ingredients together.  You can also pop it all into a good blender if you don’t fancy all the fine chopping.  Blitz until the herbs are broken down.

In a medium saucepan, on medium low heat, warm the beans, adding all the ingredients except the spinach leaves and olive oil.  Stir regularly on a low simmer for about 7 minutes, take off the heat and stir in the spinach leaves and olive oil (for optional richness).   Check the seasoning and then pop a lid on and get your toast and tomatoes ready.

Italian Brunch Beans Italian Brunch Beans

Serve

Spoon the beans onto a plate with the toast, chillies and tomatoes.  Drizzle liberally with your herb oil.  Sit in the sun and dream of the Italian coastline and the aquamarine Med.  If its a brunch time, a chilled glass of Prosecco is perfectly acceptable.

Foodie Fact

It has been shown that around the world, cultures who eat a good amount of beans live longer.  There are of course other factors, but beans are just incredible for many reasons.   Beans are very low GI, making them a brilliant way to fuel up for a day, slowly releasing energy throughout the day.  Beans are of course full of fibre and certain chemicals which have a strong detoxifying effect on the body.  Plus, they are absolutely packed with pure plant protein with non of the nasty additions you get with animal proteins.  Beans may seems a little uninteresting to some, but they are really a magical wonder food!

Jane at sunset near The Old Neptune Pub, Whistable Jane at sunset near The Old Neptune Pub, Whistable
Categories: Breakfast, Dressings, Healthy Eating, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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