Posts Tagged With: healthy

Blueberry and Macadamia Cheesecake (Vegan & Gluten free) – ‘Peace and Parsnips’ recipe featured in Hello! Magazine

Raw-cheesecake-

Raw Blueberry and Macadamia Cheesecake taken from Peace and Parsnips

‘Eat like Beyonce for a day’ with four recipes from Peace and Parsnips.  I have to say that I never thought I’d be feeding Beyonce!!!!  Beyonce is going vegan again for better energy levels, firmer skin and weight loss.  I’m sure she is loving the food also!

This cheesecake is completely raw, simple and gorgeous and this, and three other Peace and Parsnip recipes, have just been featured in Hello! Magazine.  Raw desserts are a real surprise and incredibly decadent and rich.  If you haven’t tried a vegan/ gluten free cheesecake like this before, now is definitely the time!

Randomly it also seems that Adam Richman, the ‘Man vs Food’ guy is also trying out a vegan lifestyle.  That is a huge surprise for a man I last saw eating a steak bigger than three peoples heads!  He’s finding that its the healthiest and most natural way to lose weight.  It seems like loads of celebs are getting into veganism, Jennifer Lopez is another one.  This can only be a good thing as the positive message and delicious food spreads far and wide.

‘Love more, judge less’.  Here’s Marco Borges and Beyonce talking about a plant-based lifestyle and the health benefits of a vegan diet.  It’s caused quite a stir Stateside!

Jane and I Are getting a load of dates in our diary for talks, cooking demos, pop up kitchens, book signings etc across the UK.  Check out the Recent Press and Contact Us page for regular updates.  It’s going to be an awesome summer on the road!  Looking forward to meeting some of you then hopefully!!!!

Here’s an excerpt from Peace and Parsnips:   ‘If you are yet to enter the magical world of raw desserts, this macadamia cheesecake is a sensational place to start. It’s so very rich and surprisingly healthy. If you try one recipe in this book, this is the one. I have yet to meet anybody who can resist it! I like to use cashews in the filling purely because of the price difference -macadamias are expensive – but for a special occasion, go for it! Depending on the season, any berry can be used for this recipe. Blackberries are a personal favourite – I love their bitter edge with the sweet creaminess of the cheesecake – although blueberries are delicious too.’

The Bits – For 8 slices For the crust

300g raw macadamia nuts

A handful of pumpkin seeds

90g dates (soaked for 1 hour, then pitted)

20g freshly grated coconut (desiccated is fine)

For the filling

360g raw cashews or macadamias (soaked for at least 3 hours)

120ml lemon juice

120ml Brown rice syrup (or other sweetener of your choice)

180ml coconut oil

A large pinch of sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

120ml water

For the sauce

400g blueberries

45g dates (soaked for 1 hour), pitted

Do It

To make the crust, put the macadamias, pumpkin seeds and dates into a food processor and pulse together until a rough crumble is formed. Add more dates if it’s a little dry or more nuts if it’s wet. The mixture should be able to be rolled into balls and not be overly sticky. Scatter a layer of coconut on the base of a cake tin (one of those with a pushy-out bottom). You can use a normal pie/quiche dish -it just makes it harder to extract the cake. Try lining your tins with a snug layer of clingfilm. Using your hands, press the macadamia crust on to the coconut covering the base. Press the edges down with your fingers, forming an even layer.

To make the filling, blitz all the ingredients in the now magically clean food processor (bless those kitchen elves) until you have a smooth cream-like texture. You may need a few goes to get it all incorporated, scraping the sides down with a spatula. Scrape out your filling mixture into the pie dish, bang it gently a few times on a work surface (to get rid of air bubbles) and smooth the filling down using a spatula.

Place in the freezer and freeze -for best results; eat on the day of freezing, or soon after.Remove from the pie dish using a thin cake slice around the edge and gently pushing the base out. Take it easy and slowly. Pop it into the fridge and allow it to defrost -a couple of hours will do. Place the blueberries and dates into your food processor (now miraculously clean again) and blitz well. Add a little water to thin the sauce out if needed. Pour over the cheesecake before serving, and if there is any excess sauce, serve it in a bowl as a berry bonus.

Categories: Cakes, Desserts, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Gooey Choco Nut Cookies (Gluten Free and Vegan)

 

Choco Nut Cookies (Gluten free)

 

Here’s my best attempt yet at gluten free cookies.  There are many gluten free folk attending retreats at Trigonos (where I cook).  The people attending last weeks mindfulness course loved these cookies and to be honest, there was very little difference in texture between the normal cookies that I made. Chewy and gooey in the middle, with plenty of chunks of melted chocolate.  Quite a treat!

I use trail mix in these cookies, but you can substitute any dried fruits and nuts you like.  Xantham gum is something that most gluten free cooks will have around, it really helps to bind GF baked goods together. I don’t normally use it in the BHK, as it is like gluten in being hard to digest.  The difference in texture though is pronounced.  I never thought I’d say this, but Xantham has changed the way I cookie!

Simple, crispy, gooey (gluten free) cookies, we salute you!!!

Based on the recipe ‘Brazil Nut and Chocolate Spelt Cookies’ taken from ‘Peace and Parsnips’.  I made these cookies for Steve Wright on BBC2 Radio and he loved ’em!  Hear my full interview with Steve here.

Brazil Nut and Chocolate Spelt Cookies (from Peace and Parsnips) Brazil Nut and Chocolate Spelt Cookies (Original recipe from Peace and Parsnips)

The Bits – Makes 8 cookies

Dry

1oog gluten free white flour mix (Doves Farm do a good one)

30g brown rice flour

1/2 teas ground cinnamon

100g unrefined brown sugar

1/2 teas g.f. bicarb of soda

3/4 teas g.f. baking powder

Large pinch salt

2/3 teas xantham gum

 

Wet

90ml vegetable  oil

1/2 teas vanilla extract

30ml water (splash more if needed)

 

1 big handful vegan dark chocolate (roughly chopped into chunks)

1 big handful of trail mix (or mixed dried fruits and nuts of your choice)

 

Do It

Preheat an oven to 180oc/ Gas Mark 4.

Sift all the dry bits into a large bowl.  Mix all the wet together in a measuring jug, make a well in the centre of the dry bits and pour in the wet, stirring as you go.  Mix in the chocolate and trail mix.  Things should come together, but still be a touch powdery (nothing like a cake mix for example).  Add a splash more water if needed to bind things together.

Make small balls, smaller than a squash ball, in your hands.  Press in some of the goodies (choc and nut) and place on a lightly oiled baking tray.  Press them down a little with your fingers to form a fat disc, they’ll expand in the oven, bear this in mind when spacing them out.  Leave a 5cm gap around each cookie.

Pop in the oven and bake for 11-13 minutes.  Ovens vary, if its a fan oven, check after 11, otherwise 13 minutes is good.  A little overbaking will make them crispier, but I like them gooey in the middle.  Remember, cookies are done when they have a crisp coat around them, they will be soft, but firm up on the cooling rack.

Leave the cookies to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes and them transfer carefully to a wire cooling rack.  Eat as soon as cool enough to scoff!

Serve 

Have you ever made a cookie ice cream sandwich?  Go for it, especially when they’re hot.  Place on cookie into a bowl, spoon over some ice cream and place the other cookie on top.  WOW!

Foodie Fact

Eating small quantities of dark chocolate daily can help the heart, assisting blood flow.  It also contains several compounds that make you feel good, even the chemical that is released when we fall in love!  Flavanoids are also present that help to regulate blood sugar and it is packed with anti oxidants.  These are just a scattering of the incredible benefits of our favourite sweet nibble.

Working on the land yesterday at Trigonos. Planting some Crown Prince Squash, one of my favourite varities. Working on the land yesterday at Trigonos. Planting some Crown Prince Squash, one of my favourite varities.

 

Categories: Baking, Desserts, gluten-free, photography, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

‘Peace and Parsnips’ is really taking off!!!!

'Peace and Parsnips'  our new cookbook, taking off!

‘Peace and Parsnips’ our new cookbook, taking off!

 

We went up to the top of Tiger Hill and it turned into a full power ‘Peace and Parsnips’ fest, with various pictures of me goofing around with our brand new cookbook (out on May 7th!).  Forgive Jane and I, we are little excited about it all.

Our friend Shira was amazing at catching me in mid air, looking like I’d just been dropped out of a passing plane.

I also went back to cooking at Trigonos Retreat last week, which is always a real pleasure.  You could call this my day job, cooking vegan fare for meditators and yoga folk.  I am a very lucky chap indeed.  It is the place where many of the cookbook recipes were tried and tested.

Playing with food, back cooking at Trigonos Retreat Centre, Nantlle, Wales

Playing with food, back cooking at Trigonos Retreat Centre, Nantlle, Wales

Once more, just for kicks.....

Once more, just for kicks…..

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‘Peace and Parsnips’ is coming to get yaaaaaah! (Its all in the hips)

We’re also sticking loads of new Beach House Kitchen stuff on Twitter and Facebook.  Check.  It.  Out.  Xxxx.

If you haven’t bought the book yet (tuttututututututututtttttuuuut), HERE is a great place to pre-order your very own copy for a superbly reasonable price.  Over 200 vegan/ gluten free recipes straight from the Beach House Kitchen.  How cool is that!  Priceless…..  The books contains chapters like: Nuts About Nuts!, The Vegan Larder, Eating from soil, shoot or branch, Seasonality, A Very Meaty Problem, Homemade Milks, The ‘Whats Up’ With Dairy and of course the recipes:

Breakfast, Smoothies, Juices, Steamers and Hot Drinks, Soups, Salads, Sides, Nibbles, Dips and Little Plates, Big Plates, Curries, Burgers, Bakes and Get Stuffed, Sweet Treats and finally Sauces, Dressings, Toppers and Other Stories.   

That’s quite a plateful of vegan fare.   It’s a tasty vegan tome.

Friends, family and loved ones (everyone) I will even sign your copy for no extra charge!!!!  Expect many more gratuitous ‘Peace and Parsnips’ plugs coming in the next couple of weeks.

Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.”  HH Dalai Lama

Viva Vegan (peaceful, bright and bountiful food)xxxx 

 

 

Categories: Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Homemade Spiced Ginger and Lemon Cordial (Sugar free)

Star Anise - one of the 'stars' of the show Star Anise – one of the ‘stars’ of the show

So Jane and I decided to go for a walk along the beach yesterday and nearly got blown away.  Spring hasn’t quite arrived in North Wales!

I know this may sound like a winter time treat, but having just returned from India, Wales seems pretty damn wintery to me!  Jane and I are warming our cockles around steaming mugs of hot ginger drinks (I have managed to pick up the dreaded sniffles).  Ginger is the best thing for colds et al, more like a potion than just a refreshing tipple.  This cordial also work brilliantly cold, over ice and in a tall glass (glug of gin optional).

The B.H.K is a global thang and we know that many of you are getting ready for winter.  This zingy cordial will help to ease the blow of dark days and timid sun.  We know that our mates Fran and Steve down in Tasmania will dig it for example.  Serendipity Farm will be buzzing!

Jane throwing shapes on Dinas Dinlle beach - Wales is yet to feel the heat wave of the south Jane throwing shapes on Dinas Dinlle beach – Wales is yet to feel the heat wave of the south

We love making our own stuff, you know what goes into it.  Most cordials, even if they are organic and well made, are packed full of sugar.  Here, you can use as much or as little sweetener as you like.  Sometimes we have it neat, sugarless.  A real wake up zing in the morning!  Try this with hot apple juice for an even more decadent steaming cup of joy.

This is one of those things, once you make one batch or cordial, you cannot stop.  Roll on the elderflower season.  Coming soon hopefully……..

Glorious grated ginger - can you smell that zing!!!! Glorious grated ginger – can you smell that zing!!!!

The Bits – Makes roughly 500ml
100g grated ginger root

1/2 lemon (peel and juice)

1 lemon (juice)

4 green cardamom pods (split)

1 star anise

1/2 stick cinnamon

5 cloves

650ml water

Sweetener (agave, maple syrup etc) – as you like, we go sugar free if poss.

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Homemade Spiced Ginger & Lemon Cordial (Sugar free)

Do It

Place all (except the lemon juice) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, pop a lid on and simmer for 20 minutes.  Set aside, squeeze in the lemon juice and leave to cool and steep for an hour.

We find that after a night in the fridge, the flavours are even more full power.  You may like to add your sweetener now, but we prefer to do it when we drink it, depending how our sweet tooth is feeling.

Strain into a jug and pour into a clean glass bottle or a kilner jar.  Something sealable and preferably glass.  Because it is lacking in loads of sugar, this won’t last for as long as other cordials. Keep in the fridge and enjoy within 3 days. Trust me, it won’t hang around that long!

Serve

Add to cup of hot water (just off boiling) to make a lovely steeper or serve over ice with a slice of lemon and sparkling water, making an awesome ginger ale.  Either of these can be made a bit boozy with a glug of dark rum (a Dark and Stormy) or gin for example (as if you need guidance!)

Sweeten as you like, with what you like.  We use brown rice syrup or sometimes stevia if we are being supremely healthy.  Liquid sweeteners work best as they dissolve quickly and easily.

Hot off the hob – try it warm or cold with great apple juice.  YUMMMAH!

Foodie Fact

All the spices in this cordial are AMAZING for the body!  They are natural medicines for all sorts of ailments.  We will focus on star anise.  Boil star anise in some water and sip it gently, it can soothe stomach pain and cold/ coughs.  

Anise has a delicate liqourice flavour and the seeds of the star are simply anise seeds.  Surprisingly!  The seeds and the husk can be used in cooking, baking etc.  The main source of anti-oxidant glory is the volatile (in a good way) oil named anethole, but anise does boast a potent cocktail of other anti-oxidant oils.

In many traditional medicines anise is used for: anti-flatulence, anti-spasmodic, digestive, anti-septic, expectorant, stimulant and tonic.  They are also a wonderful source of the vitamin B’s, vitamin C and A and contains high levels of iron, copper (good for red blood cells), calcium and potassium.

Categories: Healing foods, Infusions, photography, Recipes, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

‘Meat vs Veg’ – Lee on T.V.

All images taken from ‘Meat vs Veg’ shoot, Summertime ’13

I made a TV program called ‘Meat vs Veg’, I have no idea why I haven’t popped it on the BHK yet, but here it is.  In all it’s glory!  It was nearly two years ago now and since then has been shown all around the world on a variety of food channels, but as yet, has not been shown in the UK.  Hopefully, it will be on soon.

It was a load of fun to make and the basic format was me against Mike Robinson, a top, and very meaty, chef; owner of the Pot Kiln Pub and an all around gentleman (unless you happen to be a deer that is).  We cooked for a varied group of people, two contestants per show, all with weird and wonderful tastes in food; some gourmet critics, others couldn’t tell a chicken wing from a sweet potato.  You will have to watch the program to see who won, Meat or Veg??!

Mike and I got up to all sorts of mischief around London, each show contained a ‘Street Challenge’ where we had to hit the streets and tempt people with our tasty morsels.  We cooked for women rowing teams, R and B models, animal volunteers, Battersea dogs home, aspiring theatre actors, music studio employees…….it was a wild time.

Mike and I were cooking everything live to camera and trying to be interesting at the same time.  Which is much more difficult than it may sound!  Making a TV program down in London was certainly a change from working up in North Wales.

Jane and I were in India recently and it was showing on a Nat Geo channel.  I even got recognized in a small village in the Himalayas, which was very strange and quite hilarious.  ‘Meat vs Veg’ is out there and it’s a light hearted food program, with stunning food and bags of laughs.  It highlights my ability to make a fool of myself in front of a camera (a talent I have honed since childhood).  Overall it was a great experience.

If you are in Serbia, Brazil, India, Hong Kong, Australia and probably a load more countries around the world, keep your eye out for ‘Meat vs Veg’ on your food channels and let us know if you manage to catch an episode.  I’m the tall hairy one, probably attacking Mike with a carrot or other root vegetable.  He deserves it!!!!!

Mike and I (trying to look tough)

Categories: Healthy Eating | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Breakfast Cookies with Banana and Brazil Nuts and the Trials and Tribulations of Vegan Travel

Brazil Nut and Banana Breakfast Cookies - Fresh from the oven

Brazil Nut and Banana Breakfast Cookies – Up close and personal

Warm, healthy cookies for breakfast.  Yes, please!!!!!!  A fine start to any day and even the sleepiest of heads can cope with the simplicity of getting these together.  This is a nourishing and energy giving breakfast on the run and one of these cookies contains much more nutrition than your average bowl of cereal.

A strange post to be winging it across from the Turkish Med, but the weather in the port town of Antalya is dreadful.  Jane and I are tucked up in bed with cups of well stewed Turkish tea.  We were here two weeks ago and the sun was blazing, it now resembles a supermarket car park in Leicester town centre in a November hail storm (with the occasional roman aqueduct thrown in).  Amazing the difference some pants weather can make.

THE BEACH HOUSE ON TOUR

A quick update as to our wandering ways.  We’re in Turkey, as mentioned and have been whizzing around in a hire car for two weeks, covering thousands of kilometres in this fascinating and rich land.  Firstly, Turkey is a country with many layers of incredible history and culture, stunning and varied landscapes, but the real star (as ever we find) is the people.  The folk we have met have been absolutely brilliant, wonderfully hospitable, kind and funny.  Jane and I have felt very at home ever since, on the first night, a genial waiter Abdullah, offered us his house to stay in for as long as we like. We declined his more than generous offer, so he halved our bill and sent us on our merry way.  This has become quite normal, every day we are confronted with bare faced kindness and highly welcoming behaviour.

The view from our hotel in Antalya on the first day, now it looks considerably greyer with occasional lightning forks crackling over the mountains.

The view from our hotel in Antalya on the first day, now it looks considerably greyer with occasional lightning forks crackling over the mountains.

We’ve been so active in the last 14 days its quite hard to recap that’s been done.  Having taken in most of the Turquoise coast, with its stunning ancient Greek and Roman Ruins and beautiful beaches, we headed up to Pammukale, which is a massive calcite wave with hot thermal springs (and an almost token vast ancient Greek settlement on top).  We then whisked our little Fiat up through the Alpine clad mountains, inland and across a vast Anatolian steppe to Konya (the resting place of the poet Rumi and the home of the whirling dervishes) and then spent a few days exploring and hiking in the ridiculously unique and surreal rock features of the Cappdocian valleys.  We stayed in a luxury cave, carved out of compressed volcanic dust.  The beauty of having a car is being able to stop alot along the way and get lost.  Getting lost I find is the best way to get to know a country properly.  The out of the way places are always more fun than the tourist ‘hives’.

Now we’re back on the coast, having traced the silk road for a while and hung out in caravaserai’s.  We’re readying ourselves for a weeks volunteering and cooking on an organic farm and animal sanctuary (meaning sitting down for a day).  Phew!  In a nut shell, its been intensely brilliant.  It feels like we’ve been away for years.  Pictures will hopefully follow when a better internet connection arises.

THE TRIALS AND TRAVAILS OF VEGAN TRAVELER 

Being a vegan foodie traveler outside select parts of LA  is never going to easy, but many Turkish staples are easily veganised and we haven’t struggle for sparkling sustenance thus far.  Saksuka, corba (soup, lentil normally), bean stews, gorgeous pides (Turkish pizza), village rice dishes, shepherd salads, smoked aubergine and pepper salads, many clay pot roasted veggie variations (in wood fired ovens), and lashings of white bread ( no whole grains on the horizon) have kept us ticking over quite nicely.  All washed down with plenty of tiny glasses of Turkish Whiskey (well stewed tea normally grown around the Black Sea).

We do have a very unique diet in the Beach House Kitchen and we always feel the pinch the first few weeks of a travel.  Gone are the 6 vegetable morning juices and rampantly organic raw salads and layered tofu bakes.  Having said that, back here in the big city Antalya (population 11 million) we have just enjoyed a slap up mezze-fest in a white table cloth joint.  Radical selections of local leaves, beetroot, funky turnip juice, fresh steaming white bread, melt in the mouth aubergine dishes (known as the ‘sultan’ of vegetables in Turkey and quiet revered), interesting and intense tomato rice (the shape of which I’d never seen before, very squat and dumpy grains).  Great stuff and an open fire to boot.

Generally travelling as a vegan means scouting out as many fruit and nuts as you can find.  I’m not a huge supplement fan, but do travel with some Spirulina which I picked up in India, see this article I wrote for more info on this wonder green powder.  Getting balanced nutrition is a happy quest when on the road.  A vegan traveler has to be more patient with food and accept the occasion stray lump of cheese or gristle with grace and impeccable manners.  After all, we are ambassadors of something highly  positive, why ruin it all with a restaurant rant.  It can get a little embarrassing on occasion, especially when in a home.  No matter how much you explain yourself, language barriers can become chasms when ordering in a restaurant.  It is quite an alien concept in most parts of the world.  So far, on this trip, I have been fine and had no encounters with surprise ingredients.  There is an element of keeping it simple and realising the the cornucopia of local food is generally out of bounds and you will have to settle with some simple veggies dishes and many baffled and perplexed looks from local waiting staff and restaurant owners.  Jane and I also make alot of salads and simple veggie dishes ourselves, we always travel with a good knife and some plates.  This keeps costs down a little and means that we can pack loads of gorgeous local veggies into diets with relative ease.  Overall, Turkey is a great country for vegan travel and much of the produce is organic and seasonal.

I made these cookies just before we left the Beach House for our travels around Turkey, Spain and India.  They were a real hit with our friends over coffee and chats.  As usual with our sweet things, they are an attempt at taking a gorgeous cake/ cookie recipe and making it as healthy as we can, without compromising on delicousness.

These baked beauts are packed with nutrition and low GI, all that shebang!  They are also super tasty and almost a meal  in themselves.  After one of these for breakfast, we feel pretty much sated for the morning.  We’ve basically put loads of the things that we love in a bowl and baked it, most are ingredients that we believe will do our body the most amount of good first thing in the morn.  A novel way of approaching cookie making you may say?!  But the cookie taste it there, it just so happens that we snook in a few wonder foods as well.  We’ve got oats, flax seeds, bananas, maple syrup, brazil nuts, cinnamon……it’s like a health food shop condensed down into small disc of crispy happiness!  All these things are going to make your body smile and sing.

Gluten free folk may like to try buckwheat flour or your favourite gluten free flour mix instead of the wholewheat flour, we haven’t tried it, but are sure it will lead to magic results.  Gluten free oats are also readily available.  You can also just use oats, but the cookies won’t quite have the density and firm texture that these will.

Fresh out of the the oven

Fresh out of the the oven.  Would you call this a cookie or a biscuit?

SO WHEN IS A BISCUIT A BISCUIT, AND A COOKIE A COOKIE?

I think this is a matter of cultural surroundings and varying criteria.  Personally, a cookie is moist and chewy and a biscuit is crunchy and crumbly.  Cookies are normally fatter and biscuits are thinner.  Cookies are not traditional in the UK, so any new and magical ingredients normally take things in a cookie direction.  What do you think?  I know in the States biscuits are served with savoury dishes, they seem to be more like a semi-scone, but generally quite heavy.  I know one thing, there is no way anybody would refer to these whoopers as a biscuit, maybe a ‘slab’ would be better way of describing them, or a ‘chunk’.

Use any variety of nuts and seeds here, whatever’s handy (although poppy seeds are probably best used only if you love ‘em dearly).

Once baked and cooled fully, these cookies will keep for a few days in a tight fitting container or biscuit tin and don’t just eat them for breakfast, eat them all day if you like!

Gluten-free flour mix and oats will be great in this recipe too.

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Breakfast Cookies with Banana & Brazil Nuts

The Bits – 6-8 big cookies

200g Scottish oats (50g more reserved)

30g wholewheat flour

2 bananas (mashed with your hands or a fork)

3 tbs sunflower seeds

1 ½ tbs flax seeds

1 handful brazil nuts (roughly chopped)

200ml sunflower oil/ light olive oil

3 tbs maple syrup/ brown rice syrup/

1 teas bicarb of soda

1 ½ teas ground cinnamon

1 teas almond extract

In the mix

In the mix

Do It

Preheat an fan oven to 180oC.

Mix together all the bits in a large bowl until a smooth dough is formed, then add the rest of the oats and stir in.  This will give the cookies a little bite and texture.

For soft cookies bake for 10 minutes, for slightly crisper cookies, turn the tray and bake for a further 2-3 minutes.

Breakfast is served!

Breakfast is served!

Serve

Using a flat spatula, place on a wire rack and leave for 15 minutes to cool.  Best served with a nice big cuppa tea.

Foodie Fact  

Many people believe bananas to be high GI (Glycemic Index) foods, meaning they release their carbohydrates straight into your blood stream and leave you with a ‘sugar spike’ that can lead to blood sugar level mayhem and long term ailments.

Bananas are actually low GI and are our friends, meaning they help against diabetes and keep our heart healthy.  The greener your banana, the less sugar present.  Plantains have the lowest sugar levels.

Goodbye from the Med!  (expect more pics soon)

Goodbye from the Med! (expect more pics soon)

 

Categories: Baking, Breakfast, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Juicer Pulp Burgers with Seitan, Miso and a Polenta and Sesame Crumb

Pulp Burgers with Seitan, Miso and a Polenta Crumb

Pulp Burgers with Seitan, Miso and a Polenta and Sesame Crumb

THESE VEGAN BURGERS ARE CARNIVORE APPROVED!!!!!  PACKED WITH FLAVOUR AND LOADS OF TEXTURE, YOU WON’T BELIEVE THEY’RE MADE FROM LEFTOVER KITCHEN SCRAPS!

A vivid receptacle for all your kitchen scraps, a modern take on what would have been a very old fashioned, house wife style, classic. Purple vegan burgers are not it Delia’s repertoire yet, but if you love juicing (and more and more people are getting on that ship) you’ll be wondering what to do with all that gorgeous looking leftover pulp. We use it as a fabulously nutritious filler for many dishes, our muffins turn out rather well (see Juicer Pulp Muffins with Pecan, Fig and Turmeric); burgers, cakes, soups etc. They give these burgers a great texture, light and moist. A million miles away from the stodgy, claggy veggie burgers that most of us have to endure on regular occasions. Well, not in the Beach House!!!!!! Pop round for dinner, we’ll whip you a pulp burger up and you’ll leave considering your very own vegan burger odyssey. It’s a large and diverse place to inhabit for a while. The options are mind boggling.

You will need alot of juicer pulp for these burgers, maybe save up for a couple of days. Taste it before you use it, the citrus elements especially can go a little wayward after a day or more in the fridge. We did it in a day! A pint of juice is surely a zingy start to the day. This pulp contains 250g spinach leaves, 4 apples, 4 carrots, 1 beetroot, 1 handful parsley, 1 lemon (with ½ zest), 1 orange (with ½ zest), 2 large florets of broccoli. Phew! Then yum. Quite a list of ingredients, but we use whats to hand and buy loads of veggies and fruits, if they are getting a little past their best we juice them and come up with many odd combos. Swede juices is a real thing! Certainly wakes you up first thing.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING YOUR JUICER PULP?

The pulp leftover from juicing is filled with fibre which is amazing for digestion.  A little word of warning, too much fibre will bung you up so bear that in mind.  No juicer will produce completely dry pulp, so there are benefits from eating the leftover juice along with the pulp.  Fruits (especially citrus) store many of their nutrients/ flavanoids in their skins, so we are not missing out any of that goodness either.

OTHER IDEAS FOR USING UP LEFTOVER JUICE PULP

–  COMPOST IT, THE PULP WILL BREAK DOWN VERY QUICKLY AND THE GARDEN LOVES IT!

–  ADD TO SMOOTHIES FOR A FIBRE HIT

–  ADD IT STRAIGHT TO SOUPS AS A THICKENER INSTEAD OF POTATOES ETC

–  FREEZE IT, GATHER ENOUGH PULP UNTIL YOU HAVE ENOUGH TO MAKE BURGERS ETC.

–  SOME PEOPLE FEED IT TO THEIR PETS AND ANIMALS, MIXED INTO THEIR NORMAL FOOD.

I use cooked rice as the binding/ ballast for these veggie burgs. You can use a similar quantity of cooked millet, buckwheat, pearl barley, quinoa etc. They will all work well once blended up into a sticky paste.
The flavouring of this burger went East, but you can flavour it with whatever you like. Some suggested substitutes would be leeks = onions, tahini = peanut or other nut butters, sesame seeds = any other nuts (crushed for the coating), seitan = firm tofu or tempeh, tamari = soya sauce/ shoyu.

Seitan is an ingredient we use rarely.  It has a lovely texture, sometimes called ‘mock duck’ it is something a bit different.  Seitan is basically pure gluten and these burgers can easily be made gluten free by adding tofu or tempeh instead.  You won’t lose anything by doing so.

I fancied putting a crunchy coating on the burgers and a vivid yellow jacket, so I used polenta. You can leave them naked if you like, or go for breadcrumbs. Both would work very nicely indeed.  I like the colour of them without there jackets and its a little less fuss.

Pulp burgers pre-crumbing

Pulp burgers pre-crumbing

The Bits – Makes 8 Fat Quarter Pounders
3 tbs oil (more for frying)
300g leeks (finely sliced)
1 inch sq fresh ginger (finely diced)
4 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
3 teas sesame seeds (more for the coating)
3 tbs tahini
1 -2 tbs tamari
2 tbs brown miso
200g seitan (roughly chopped)
400g brown rice (cooked and cooled – leftovers are best)
1 tbs sesame oil
900g juice pulp

Crumb
1 small handful of sesame seeds
2 big handfuls of polenta (optional)
½ teas turmeric

Do It
In a large frying pan with a heavy bottom, add 2 tbs oil and your leeks, sauté until tender, add your seitan, sesame seeds and ginger, cook for another 3 minutes, then add the garlic, tamari, miso, tahini and 2 tbs water, cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated.

In a blender, blitz your cooked rice until it forms a thick paste. Sticky to the touch.
Add the leek mix and rice to the juice pulp, pour in your sesame oil and 1 tbs more oil. Pop in a fridge for ½ hour or longer to mingle and get together.

The leek mix and juice pulp before mixing

The leek mix and juice pulp before mixing

Scatter sesame seeds, turmeric and polenta on a plate, grab a handful of burger mix and form it into patties of your favourite dimensions. Place on the plate and toss the coating over the burgers, pat gently so that it sticks.

Your burger mix in all its vivid-ness

Your burger mix in all its vivid-ness

Preheat oven to 180oC.

Warm oil in a pan, we like to use roughly 3 tbs, and replenish when needed. For super crispy burgers, cover the base with 1 cm of oil and shallow fry them gently. This is amazing, but uses alot of oil, so we reserve it for what could be called, ‘special’ occasions. Fry the burgers on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes each side, until golden brown and warmed through. Top up the oil as needed.  Use a nice flat spatula and gently flip them over, veggie burgers need to be handled with a little finesse and care, otherwise they’ll look like a dog’s dinner (which basically means not very appetising at all unless you’re a spaniel).

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Quick fry in the pan and then a warm in the oven

After frying, place them onto a baking tray lined with parchment and pop them in the oven to warm for 10-15 minutes, this will ensure that the fat burgers have a piping hot middle.

Serve

However you like burgers. You may like to maintain the sesame theme, as we did, and serve with smokey hummus (smoked paprika mixed into regular hummus) and salad leaves (we used sorrel) or serve them in fresh bread with something creamy, a bean puree for example, and something tangy; pickles, pineapple, then the ubiquitous leaves; spinach, lettuce, sorrel?(it grows like weeds in our garden).

Our juicer pulp burgers, ready for action

Our juicer pulp burgers, ready for action

Foodie Fact

This is Wales and the leek is a national symbol of pride and rightly so for many reasons.  Leeks are said to come from Central Asia and were introduced to Britain by the Romans who believed they helped the voice (could this be why the Welsh are famed for their singing voices?).  The history of leeks in Wales goes back to the 17th Century when a Welsh army defeated the Anglo Saxons, to differentiate themselves form the enemy, the Welsh wore leeks on their helmets.

Leeks are a member of the allium family, along with garlic, onions and many others.  The alliums are filled with flavanoids, folates and anti-oxidants, which combine to keep our heart very healthy indeed.  All of the alliums have anti-inflammatory properties.  The healthiest parts of the leek are the bulb and just above, this is where the health-giving chemicals hang out.

Walking around Aber Falls (near Bangor) recently.  Walking off all those burgers!

Walking around Aber Falls (near Bangor) recently. Walking off all those burgers!

Categories: Recipes, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Homemade Baechu Kimchi

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Homemade Baechu (Cabbage) Kimchi

Kimchi is certainly pickle/ condiment royalty.  Very Korean and yet superb with traditional British veggies, a home for all your seasonal veggie fest’s and the perfect way of preserving the ‘gluts’ that we experience at this plentiful time of year.

I don’t know why I’ve used the ‘Homemade…’ in the title, it seems quite obvious that it would be homemade, but it does give a nice homely ring to a dish and there is nothing like the rancid smell of festering cabbage to make me feel settled and comfortable. I love the smell of kimchi and sauerkraut in the house, but I must admit that after a week or so, the garage beckons for our fermenting friend. Kimchi is a labour of love, but isn’t all cooking. Surely when we cook we are bucking the convenience trend and doing something for ourselves that is quiet intangible, but easily felt and munched. Food made with love, fermented with relish, is as integral part of any home. Sacrifice for our bellies is a worthy sacrifice I say. Kimchi will test your culinary resolve and passion for pickles to the max. Its like marmite you could say, there is an intense love/ hate things going on, Jane and I are in the Korean cabbage love camp.

Kimchi is a great place to start fermentation exploration, a spicy pickle that can be taken in many different directions from a flavour point of view.  This Baechu (Cabbage) Kimchi recipe is basic and very open to embellishments.  It is normally made with fish sauce, but for obvious reasons, your won’t find that on the BHK.  It is not missed either.

Kimhci is very simple to make and the toughest part is being patient enough to let it ferment properly before you munch it.  Kimchi lights up any meal, especially salads and rice dishes and can even be used in soups, stir fries and stew .  It is the national dish of Korea, where they eat it with pretty much anything and in vast quantity.   Your average Korean eats 125gms of Kimchi per day.  Three quarters of the Kimhci consume in South Korea is still made at home, which is great  to hear, although most South Korean residential areas must have quite a fragrant cabbage pong going on!!  Surely they have a special Kimchi closet or well ventilated area for its maturation.  Many businesses in Korea give a yearly ‘Kimchi’ bonus, so employees can go out and buy the ingredients to make a years supply of this wonder pickle.  Kimchi made in Korea is controlled by a legal standard, basically if it isn’t made the traditional Korean way, it just ain’t Kimchi.   In Korea instead of saying ‘cheese!’ when you have a photograph taken, they say ‘kimch!’.  Its a happy sounding word!  It certainly makes me smile.  Koreas obsession with Kimchi and the fact that it is normally eaten with rice or noodles is one of the factors keeping obesity out of Korea, generally they enjoy a high fibre, low fat diet with Kimchi as a tangy constant.

Kimchi is alot like its German sibling Sauerkraut, the only major difference being flavouring and the fact that Kimchi is softened in very salty water to start with and then fermented in less salty water.  Sauerkraut is slightly more straightforward.

We make a big batch of Kimchi, you can half this quantity if you are just starting out and are unsure as to whether Kimchi will become a major part of your life.  You will not be disappointed with the results, as I said, homemade Kimchi cannot be replicated and it is surprisingly easy to prepare.  Lastly, we should mention that Kimchi is ridiculously good for you and contains all the magic of other fermented foods.  This type of pickle cleanses the palate and also aids digestion.

If you are on a low salt diet, you can make Kimchi and Sauerkraut without salt, just substitute with wine, seeds like fennel, aniseed, dill, carraway etc or even seaweed (which contains sodium naturally).

One thing is for sure, fermenting is addictive and once you start, it opens so many doorways for tasty pickles to complement any meal.  Being fermented, they also store very well, so for minimum effort, you can have a constant supply of glorious tangy condiments.

Kimchi can also be made with most root vegetables; Swede, Turnip, Burdock, Jerusalem Artichoke, Horseradish……etc in Kimchi is awesome and any radishes are always welcome (and quite traditional to boot).

Chinese cabbage is easy to find in Asian/ Oriental Food shops throughout the UK and I’d imagine, the world.  Local cabbage also works well, it just isn’t quite as Korean looking or tasting.  Where you find Chinese cabbage, you will also find Daikon radish.

Have fun with your microorganisms!

The Bits – Fills one massive gherkin jar (see picture above)

1 kg Chinese cabbage (you can use bok choi or white cabbage as subs)

2 Daikon radish (or a large handful of radishes)

3 carrots (or turnip)

3-4 onions (or 1 large leek)

6-8 cloves garlic

6-8 red chillies (depending on how hot you like it!)

6 tbs fresh ginger (grated)

Sea salt

You may also like to add green peas, seaweed, artichokes, in fact most veggies that are seasonal can be added to a Kimhci to great effect.  Potatoes do not work so well.  

Veggie mix after overnight soaking

Kimchi veggie mix after overnight soaking

Do It

Grab a large saucepan or bowl with vertical sides that is big enough for the job.  You will also need a lid/ plate that fits snugly into the pan/ bowl, something that will be suitable to press the kimchi down and keep it submerged beneath the brine.  You don’t need purpose bought equipment here, just use whats hanging around the kitchen.  You’ll also need a weight, we use a large jar filled with water, anything good and heavy.   Really, the heavier the better.  The more you press and bash the kimchi, the quicker it breaks down and better it tastes (all the flavours can then get right into the cabbage and veggies).

Mix your brine, 2 litres of water and 9 tbs of salt.  Stir to dissolve salt, taste to check that it is very salty.

Roughly chop the cabbage and finely sliced the radish and carrot.  Leave these veggies to soak in the brine, weight them down and leave overnight to soften.  Add any other seasonal veggies at this stage.

Grate the ginger, mash and slice the garlic, remove the seeds from the chillies and slice (pop them in whole to reduce the heat of the kimchi), use loads of spices and flavourings, Kimchi loves it!  I then like to add the spices to a pestle and mortar and mash them up a bit, this can also be done in a food processor (just pulse a few times).

Drain the brine off the vegetables (reserve the brine) and taste them to ensure they are salty enough.  If they are too salty, unpleasantly so, rinse them with fresh water.  If they are not salty at all, sprinkle in a few more teas of salt.

Mix the veggies with the spice paste thoroughly and stuff into your saucepan/ bowl.  Pack it down tightly, bash it around a little bit with a rolling pin if you like, lovingly abuse it!  Press down with your plate/ lide until the brine is released and rises above the veggies.  You may need to top it up a little using your reserved brine.  Leave the kimchi, with a weight on top, for a day, covered with a kitchen cloth or anything that will keep out insect intruders and dust.  Any bits of vegetable that float to the top, escaping the lid, just throw into the compost bin.

Leave to ferment in a warm place, the smell will be overpowering at times, so bear this in mind.  Taste the kimchi everyday or as often as you can (or remember to do so).  When the Kimchi tastes ripe, tangy and very flavourful, place in a sterilised glass jar (or several) and keep in the fridge.  This will take between one to two weeks.  The warmer the place, the faster the fermentation.  Keep the Kimchi well weighted and pressed, you can even do this by squeezing it with your hands on a daily basis (which I quite enjoy).  Microorganisms work better in the heat.

This is a relitively low salt Kimchi, traditonally in Korea it would have more salt and be left in a cooler place to ferment for alot longer.  This works if the smell is overpowering your house and it needs to be moved to a cellar/ garage.  We are gluttons, we cannot be that patient unfortunately!!!!

Pressing the Kimchi down evenly is very important

Pressing the Kimchi down evenly is very important

Any mould/ spores that form on the brine surface are perfectly natural, just skim them off regularly.  Your Kimchi is very safe in its neutral brine home with its friendly and beneficial bacteria.  Bacteria has such a bad rap, but we are made up of billions maybe trillions of them!

Serve

I like it stirred into plain rice, a very Korean way of eating it.   Jane likes it on a mixed salad plate.  Stir frying it with tofu is a real treat, or use it to liven up soups, especially miso based soups we have found.

We both like it pure, spooned straight from the jar into our mouths, no nonsense, no additions required.  Kimchi is a flavour-fest straight up.

Foodie Fact

Kimchi is packed with vitamin A, B and C but its real star is the healthy bacteria present in all fermented foods, called lactobacilli.   It is normally found in yoghurt, so for vegans, eating fermented foods is a great way of getting this wonder bacteria into our diets.  Loctobacilli helps with digestion and works to prevent yeast infections.  Fermented cabbage has also been shown to help fight cancer.

The Beach House at sunset (through the Hawthorn tree)

The Beach House at sunset yesterday (through the Hawthorn tree) – we’re having an amazingly sunny autumn up here.  Summer hasn’t ended yet and its Oct 1st!!!! 

Categories: Fermentation, Healing foods, Recipes, Side Dish | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Simple Blackberry Compote and Tips on Berry Foraging

The BHK bumper blackberry crop

The BHK bumper blackberry crop

We decided to let our brambles run wild this year, the back of the garden has sprung into a thorny, berry heaven.  Brambles are so prolific and need no encouraging to take over the joint!  We’ve had a bumper crop with kilos of blackberries flying into the kitchen and looking for a home.  I like what the brambles have done to the nether regions of our garden, creating a home for all sorts of cool creepy crawlies and a decent amount of little mice, which are big friends to our developing garden.

On our green and good isle, Britain, we are enjoying a good start to September, the extra rays of sunlight are resulting in some massive, succulent blackberries, so we’ve been making chutneys, wine (this recipe will no doubt appear here soon) and compotes/ jams. We are nicely stocked for the upcoming Christmas/ birthday present-athon. What better gift than a spicy chutney?

Blackberries are such a bountiful autumnal bonus and along with elderberries, are two of my favourite fruity treats. This is such an abundant time of year, it seems like all the warm weather we’ve had this year has come to fruition. Its hanging from almost every bush! It makes all that messing around with soil and late night slug raids on the veg patch worth while. We can eat from the land and there are few things more satisfying than a fruit salad made from you’re own (British!) garden.

Berry foraging bonus - fresh lavender smells around the house

Berry foraging bonus – fresh lavender smells around the house

Blackberries are native to Northern Europe and they grow as far north as Siberia!  Our berries, like most, just run wild all over the place.  You can be more organised and precise and run them up trellises etc.  But thats proper gardeners territory and we’re not there yet.

When making this compote, it will rarely get easier when playing with pots and pans. Two ingredients and a little heat, a jar and a cool place.  All you need for a knockout compote.  We took this in what is known as a ‘sugar free’ direction as a friend was visiting who is avoiding the heinous white powder.  A sprinkle of dates sorts out all of our sweet tooth requirements and also brings a thicker texture to the party.  Taste the compote after 5 minutes bubbling on the hob and add more dates if not quite sweet enough.  We are not sure how long it will last in the fridge, this compote is not made as a ‘preserve’ but should be eaten soon after cooking.  We’ve had a huge pot in the fridge now for over three weeks and its fine.  I did think that the reduced sugar content would shorten its life, but its still soldiering on.

Good blackberries are essential for this type of embellishment free behaviour, raid you local hedgerow to find the finest blackberries.  You will probably have a nice time too, just avoid those vicious thorns and if picking on a road, avoid speeding buses!

TOP TIPS FOR BERRY FORAGING

–  Never pick anything edible around train tracks, they regularly spray chemicals around the tracks to stop weeds growing.  Never pick berries that are cocked dog leg height, for obvious reasons.

–  Be careful not to squash berries when picking them, if you do, we suggest popping them into your mouth.  Try to keep your hands clean when picking fruit, the occasional scoff is very hard to resist (and all part of the fun).

–  Only pick berries that are plump and soft, the ones that fall off in your hand.  If you have to tug it, it ain’t ready for munching.  Leave if for a few days and then go back for it (blackberries grow and ripen quickly).

–  Use the berries straight away, that day.  If they look dirty, or you don’t fancy wild berry munching, submerge berries in cold water when you get home, give them a swish around and then leave them to drain, laying them out on kitchen paper when ready.  Handle them very gently, until they are dry-ish.  Then pop in the fridge covered loosely.  This works for us.  But as mentioned, the sooner they disappear into happy bellies, the better.

–  When picking blackberries, look at the white bit (where the stem should be), this is where maggots reside.  If there are maggots hanging out, ditch the berry on the ground and continue undeterred.

–  Don’t wear your new white shirt or trousers.

The Bits – Makes 2 regular jam jars 

800g freshly picked blackberries

2 big handfuls of chopped dates (to taste)

Do It

In a large, heavy bottomed pan, add the blackerries and dates, bring slowly to a boil and leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the berries have broken down.  Stir regularly, do not allow the base or edges of the compote to catch and burn.

Very easy Blackberry Compote

Very easy Blackberry Compote with some Rye Bread

Serve

The resulting deep purple gorgeous-ness can be spread on warm toast with soya yoghurt or with chopped bananas and nut butter.  Very pleasant when spooned over your morning bowl of muesli or even frozen and made into a sorbet (we haven’t tried this yet).  You could also make a wonderful dressing with it, by adding balsamic vinegar and a touch of oil and seasoning.

Foodie Fact

Blackberries contain a low-calorie sugar substitute called Xylitol, which is low GI, meaning slow absorption into the blood stream.  Blackberries are high in fibre and are full, full, full of antioxidants like vitamin C and chemicals called phenolic flavanoids (good guys).

See below for the physical after effects of a days blackberry picking.

Jane on Aberdaron beach yesterday, full of blackberries!

Jane on Aberdaron beach yesterday, full of blackberries!

Categories: Foraging, Recipes, Wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Pecan and Fig Muffins (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free)

Juice Pulp Muffins with Pecan and Fig Juice Pulp Muffins with Pecan and Fig

GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN, SUGAR FREE, LOW GI, HIGH FIBRE, …….whatever you want to call them, these muffs are very cool.

The worlds healthiest muffin?  Almost, possibly not.  The worlds strangest muffin?  Quite possibly.  The worlds tastiest muffin?  (Probably) YES!

These are muffins if Doctor Parnassus made them in his Imaginarium (any Terry Gilliam fans out there?)  Containing what can only be described as pscycedelic pulp (great name for a surfer rock band).  This is what you could call a classic Beach House post, we woke up and all of a sudden made some pink-ish muffins with turmeric in them, then thought we’d write about the experience.  I trust you don’t think any of these posts are planned or orchestrated in anyway.  This is adventure is all the food we are eating right NOW.  Steaming on the plate/ wire rack.  You can probably tell by the rushed looking photo’s, a hungry camera man is a complacent camera man.  Thankfully these freakish muffs are totally delicious, have an almost succulent texture and are happily brimming over with health giving properties and the main thing (that we almost forgot) is that they are a pleasing receptacle for your leftover juice pulp.

Yes,these sweet thangs are ‘sugar free’, although I don’t quite get this new movement.  The whole sugar free thing seems mystifying; you can’t eat one type of sugar but can eat other types of sugar.  Its like being vegan, but you can eat goats cheese because its lower in fat????  Can someone please explain the ‘Sugar-free’ craze?  Anyway, these are sugar free as they only contain dried fruit and maple syrup, which are not classed as ‘sugar’ by some.   They are of course, much better than processed, bleached, alien sugars, meaning all white sugar (which isn’t even vegetarian as it can contain bone meal!!!!).  Low GI seems the way forward, or eating fructose with fibre (like a banana) which naturally slows he absorption of sugar into the blood stream.

PULP (NON)FICTION

Jane and I would be nowhere without juice.  Our lives have changed since we got our first juice machine and we are now a happier shade of orange (too many carrot and ginger juices, you have been warned!).  We have been curious about juice pulp muffins for ages.  How can we use up all of this wonderful looking chaff.  Its almost pure fibre and we’re not eating it?  Quite a conundrum!  How can we utilise this excellent commodity, other than adding to the ever grateful compost bin.  What better way that baking with it!  We discover a great webpage that gives ‘20 smart uses for using up leftover juice pulp’ from making ‘pulpsicles’ to a face mask, there are so many creative ways of putting pulp to work.  Check it out!  We also like to add it as balast ie replacing, rice, lentils etc, to vegan burgers and patties (falafels, sausages, frisbee…….or whatever shape is being moulded), it can also be incorporated into a wholesome and frugal soup.  No doubt, more pulp-based Beach House posts are coming this way….watch this space for Pulp Gazpacho.

A bucket full of pulp derserves a home A bucket full of pulp derserves a home

PULP NUTRIENTS VS JUICE NUTRIENTS

The leftover pulp from juicing is primarily fibre, although there are some other good things in it as no matter how good your juicer, dry pulp is virtually impossible to extract.  Too much pulp is not great for the system as the high fibre content may lead to ‘blockages’.  Some would say, and this makes perfect sense, that juicing inundates the body with concentrated nutrients that it may not be quite ready for and eating whole foods is the way forward.  We’d agree with this.  The enzymes needed to extract the nutrients of most foods can be found in the food you’re eating.  How cool is that!!!!  When we juice, we seperate the ‘whole’ food, so eating the pulp later means that all of the nutrients are not necessarily available to the body.

Another theory is that the nutrients from vegetables is in the juice and the nutrients from fruit is in the pulp.  Meaning, juice your veggies and eat your fruits.  This is due to the flavanoid content in the skins of especially citrus fruits.

This is not in anyway us angling against juicing, just give some differing opinions.  Juice is the finest way to start any day and we’d whole heartedly recommend it to anybody.  For us, it is the cornerstone of healthy, vibrant diet.  Juicing is a truly awesome way to offer our bodies potent nutrients and is a sublime wake up call to our system first thing.  How often would we normally eat 4 carrots, 2 apples, 1/2 beetroot, 2 inches of ginger and loads of kale (our juice ingredients this morning) in one sitting, especially one glassful!  You can just imagine what good that is doing our bodies and it shows the effect of bags of energy and a sense of ‘fullness’.  Normally after a breakfast juice, I won’t eat again until at least lunchtime.

These here psyco muffins are beautifully moist due to the high pulp content, we baked ours for between 35-40 minutes (37 1/2 minutes to be exact!) any more and you’d loose some of that ‘gooey in the middle, crispy on the outside texture’ that is so drop, dead gorgeous.  Also, under baking vegan/ gluten free goods will not mean that you catch anything or have dodgy digestion for the rest of the day, so there is no risk going for gooey.

Maple syrup is so precious on this hill, we did a half/ half mix between malted rice syrup and the glory sap (maple syrup).  Anything is better with more maple syrup, so go wild accordingly.  You could use any combo of dried fruits and nuts in this recipe.  With the bright purple beetroot content of these muffs, I thought at one stage that pecan and fig just didn’t go.  For some reason, they didn’t seem fun enough for pink!?  Peanut and cranberry seemed better, and still sounds nice.  Hazelnut and dried apricot, walnut and date, almond and prune……..The dried fruit used will alter the sweetness, especially if you’re going for dried dates.  I’d say this recipe is moderately sweet and would make the perfect, post juice, mid morning nibble.

If you’re not very keen on spice, omit the cardamom and turmeric (adding 1/2 teas more cinnamon), although the latter especially is one of the finest things you could ever wish to consume (health wise).  Turmeric also gives these muffins a very funky colour, especially when combined with beetroot pulp (although the raw mix hue does tame slightly when baked).  You can use most juice pulp here, but things like celery will take things in a more savoury, eclectic direction.  Things like carrot, beetroot, greens (maybe not cabbage), any fruit, ginger are all fine pulp fodder for baking sweet things.

So if you try one muffin this morning, fill it with psychedelic pulp.  Don’t worry, I’ve ate four of them whilst typing this with no obvious side effect (other than a goon like grin and a misty/ vacant look in my eyes, “Parnassus you rogue, is that you!!!!!??????”,,,,,,,,,,@).  All is well in the BHK!

Dr Parnassus himself would be proud of such a mound of goodness Dr Parnassus himself would be proud of such a mound of goodness

The Bits

2-3 cups juice pulp (ours was beetroot, carrot, apple)

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (we used 1 cup rice flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal/ fine polenta)

1/2 cup vegetable oil (coconut oil is also wonderful)

1/3 cup whole bean, organic soya milk

1/2 cup maple syrup (brown rice syrup or liquid sweetener of your choice.  Adds to the crispy exterior)

3 tbs flax seeds (ground well and mixed with 6 tbs water.  Leave for 15 minutes to become gloopy)

3/4 cup dried figs (roughly sliced)

1/2 cup pecans (roughly chopped)

1/2 tbs vanilla extract

2/3 tbs bicarb of soda

1 teas ground cinnamon

1/3 teas ground cardamom and 1/2 teas turmeric (optional but awesome)

For additional oomph! and new flavour directions (especially if you’re making a breakfast style muffin):

Add 1 heaped teaspoon of ground coffee/ wheatgrass or spirulina/ lemon or orange zest – and let us know how these go……we are trying the wheatgrass version next week.

Do It

Simple as.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl with a trusty wooden spoon.  Form into big balls with your hands and pop into a muffin tray.  You don’t need a special muffin tray for this recipe, you can form big balls with your hand and place them on a lined and oiled baking tray and then fashioned them into a muffin shape.

Preheat an oven to 180oC (fan oven) and bake for 35-40 minutes, turning the tray/ trays after 20 minutes.  Our oven is a beast and can burn the items closest to the fan (do you have that problem?).

Leave to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before nobbling one or two.  Best served warm and slightly steaming.

The psychedelic interior (dampened slightly by baking) The psychedelic muffin interior (dampened slightly by baking)

Serve

As quickly as possible.  We ate ours with some homemade blackberry and apple compote, just because it was on the hob.  I’d imagine some cashew cream or soya yoghurt would be pleasant.  You will of course need your favourite brew (that means a cuppa tea, not a beer in these parts, we are drinking alot of ‘Iron Buddha’ tea at the minute.  From China.) to hand.

Foodie Fact

Pecans.  These little beauties are members of the hickory family and like all nuts, are packed with the things we need and thrive upon.  Full of very good and useful fats, huge amounts of energy, good cholesterol and dietary fibre.  They are also rich in anti-oxidants, especially an excellent source of vitamin E which protects our cells and skin from free radicals.

Categories: Baking, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Sepen (Spicy Tibetan Dipping Sauce) and the Nightshade Fairy

Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh

Tibet in a bowl!  I have never been to Tibet as such, but I’ve been close on a number of occasions, visiting various Tibetan regions of Northern India.  Tibetan culture is alive and well in India (unfortunately the same cannot be said of Tibetan culture in Tibet, but thats a whole different blog. post.  See here for more details regarding the present state of affairs in Tibet).  Once, on a hike in Himachal Pradesh (North West India) I thought I’d made it across the border when a Indian army fella popped out from behind a boulder with an AK-47 and politely asked me to turn around and don’t look back.  Shame, it was the absolute middle of nowhere!  Tibet looked like a majestic place, all icy peaks and vistas to take the breath away and inspire sheer awe..

Tibetan Monks, Tawang Monastery - March '14 Tibetan Monks, Tawang Monastery – March ’14

VEGGIE TIBETAN DELICACIES 

The food in Tibet is designed to fuel some of the worlds most hardy folk, many of them nomads.  Living at very high altitudes, with extreme temperatures and very little water, most Tibetans are rock solid folk and they need alot of sustenance.  Salted yak butter tea is one way of getting fat and energy into the body, but we would definitely not recommend it as a tasty beverage.  I normally opt for soemthing like Jasmin tea and Green tea is also common.

Tsampa is normal fare for breakfast, basically roast barley gruel (which grows well up there in the rare airs and windswept plains), sweetened or salty and we like to add banana to it for a luxury version.  Tsampa is lovely and reminds me of a very nutritious and fortifying ‘Ready Brek’ (a British brand of thin porridge that most kids were rasied on in the ’80’s).  ‘Balep’ is a light, spongy and chewy bread that is excellent dipped in a cup of hot tea on a crisp mountain morn.  ‘Tingmo’ is a light, dimsun like bun that is popular as a snack and can sometimes be found by the side of village and town streets, served straight from the steamer.  A welcome sight on wet and chilly day (seemingly very common in most of the Tibetan areas in India).

Noodles are an ever present and are made into something resembling what we’d call ‘Chow Mein’, sometimes with a broth, sometimes with bags of oil.  Basically different sizes and styles of quite bland noodles.  They normally call it Chow Chow, or they did in Arunachal Pradesh anyway.  ‘Thentuk’ is like a soft tagiliatelle noodle in broth which I find the most appetising way of noodling in Tibetan parts.  ‘Thukpa’ is another shape of noodle.  Seasonal vegetables are an ever present in these dishes and you normally get a good amount of greens mixed in.  The humble cabbage is well loved and creeps into most dishes.  Fermented bamboo shoots are very popular and add a wonderful flavour contrast to meals with a very, very funky smell indeed.

Our handmade noodle dish in Menchuka, Arunachal Pradesh. Our handmade noodle dish in Menchuka, Arunachal Pradesh.

We hand made noodles whilst up in Menchuka village, Arunachal Pradesh (the north east corner of India, sandwiched between Bangladesh, Tibet, Bhutan and Myanmar).  We were staying with a lady named ‘Nana’ and she cooked us local specialities every night.  These noodles were made as a second course, eaten after momos.  The stock used was the water left after steaming the momos, she added some local vegetables (grown in the garden) and greens to the stock and let it simmer for a while and there it was, a gorgeous bowl of broth-y noodles, one of my favourite foods.  Definitely what we’d call a ‘bowlful of soul’.  I like the way Nana used the steaming water from the momo cooking, this type of cooking trick makes me very happy, it always seems that more traditional cooking techniques are far less wasteful than modern and the zero waste policy is something that we try and put into practice in the BHK.  The beloved family Mithun (a cross between a buffalo and a cow, only found in A.P.) ate the vegetable scraps and seemed very happy with them.

Wild Mithun Mithun (when a cow merges with a buffalo)

Tibetans love cheese and make many varieties, normally using Yak milk.  Dried yak cheese looks alot like parmesan and certainly smells like it.  They also make fantastic little pastry parcels (like a British pasty) which I normally avoid as they’re stuffed with meat, like beef, or cheese. They do look delicious though.

Tibetans love a tipple and normally afterwards, a little boogie.  Chang (not the terrible Thai lager) is a barley beer drank in most households and distilled grain alcohol, called Ara, is something resembling rocket fuel that gets you there very quickly, especially when huddled around a blazing fire.  Falling over and dancing like a happy loon is quite common in Tibet (or maybe that’s just me!)

Being a vegan/ vegetarian couple, we find travelling around Tibetan regions quite easy, there are always plenty of vegetable based options to be had.  The ‘usual suspects’ on menu’s (mentioned above) can become a little repetitive, especially when compared to the fabulous diversity of food in the plains of India.

Probably the most ubiquitous of Tibetan foods is the mighty Momo (see here for our post on these bite size pockets of supreme tastiness) and Sepen, or something similar, is the sauce you will find on most Tibetan tables.  Momos are normally quite bland and need some jazzing up and this Sepen is the John Coltrane of condiments.

Menchuka high street, Arunachal Pradesh - March '14 Menchuka high street, Arunachal Pradesh – March ’14

This bowl of bright red wonderment is destined to accompany the MOMOS, but it also makes an awesome sauce to stir into noodles and can be used as a spicy little dip when canapes and nibbles are on the horizon.  You can use it like any Indian style sauce, stirring it into freshly roasted vegetables is a thing of extreme tastiness.  Its a good all rounder and one of our favourite things at the moment (even better than turmeric milk.  Yes, that good!)

This is pretty much the exact same sauce as you get in little momo shacks all the way across the Himalayas and to eat it in the Beach House Kitchen (North Wales) is quite a tastebud twister.  We have just recently been sorting our way through the local tomato bombardment, no not La Tomatina (that festival in Spain where they all lob tomatoes at each other), no, this is more like massive boxes of local tomatoes landing on our doorstep (twas the nightshade fairy we’re told!!)  We have been trying to figure out what on earth to do with the big old tom glut and sauces like this are perfect.  Ideal frozen (leave out the fresh coriander until you re-heat) we are amassing little red bags of sauces and chutneys all over our freezer.  Of course, Sepen is by far the finest, thats why we’re sharing it with you guys.

The work of the nightshade fairies (aka John and Pippa and their amazing farm in Bethel) The work of the nightshade fairies (aka John and Pippa and their amazing farm in Bethel)

Make a big bowlful:

The Bits

1 tbsp oil
2 tsp
crushed garlic
2 tsp
crushed ginger
¼ tsp
fenugreek seeds
1
dried red chilli (finely chopped) or 1/8 teas chilli flakes – to taste
500g ripe tomatoes
½ cup
fresh coriander (chopped)

Sepen in the pot Sepen in the pot

Do It

Gently fry the garlic and ginger in the oil over a medium low heat, taking care not to burn. After a couple of minutes add the fenugreek seeds and the chilli and stir until the fenugreek starts to turn a darker shade of gold.  Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then blitz up in a food processer with the fresh coriander until smooth.

Serve

You can have this sauce warm or cold, both are very tasty.  Like most sauces/ stews, it does get better with age.  We’d recommend an evening of chilling in a fridge, to mingle and merge the beautiful flavours.

Couple of our mates from Arunachal Couple of our mates from Arunachal

Foodie Fact

We love our tomatoes and we love our raw food, but the two don’t exactly mix.  Tomatoes are one of the only fruits/ vegetables that benefit nutritionally from a little warmth.  Cooking tomatoes stimulates the lycopene (a phtyo chemical found in the red pigment of tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables) content, but does reduce the vitamin C content.  For example, lycopene content in tomato paste is four times higher than that of raw tomatoes.  Its a balancing act, I imagine warm tomatoes are the way forward; not totally raw, not totally roasted.

Lycopene has been shown in tests to reduce the risk of cancer, but like most nutritional research, the evidence is debatable.   Tomatoes are good for you, eat them by the barrel-full (if you’re not allergic to nightshades that is!)  That’s the B.H.K’s advice.

Categories: Sauces, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Tibetan ‘Magic Herb’ Momos

 

Momos a la GayBoo Homestay. Made bt the magnicficent Nana and Gemma in Menchuka Village Momos a la GayBoo Homestay. Made bt the magnicficent Nana and Gemma in Menchuka Village

Menchuka, or ‘healing-ice-water’, is a small village in a remote valley close to the Tibetan border of Arunachal Pradesh, Norteastern India.   Menchuka has a real outpost feel and is inhabited by the Memba, Ramo, Bokar and Libo tribes.  A.P. is one of the most stunningly beautiful, tribally diverse and ‘off the beaten track’ regions we’ve ever visited. Its a tough place to travel around, good old fashion slog with rickety jeeps and random time tables (most leave at 5am).  Arunachal Pradesh is very rich in culture, which normally means rich in food tradition and it didn’t let us down.  We ate alot of Momo’s stuffed with all sorts of wonderful bits (normally cabbage based) but this little recipe by Nana really blew our taste buds away.  We made Momo’s or noodles together most nights and it became the highlight of the day.

Because it’s a stone’s throw from Tibet, Menchuka is an expression of what India stands for, which is surely the most fabulous melting pot of humanity, religion and traditions.  Surrounded by endless ancient forests, where tigers roam freely and with a stunning backdrop of the high Himalayan snowy peaks, it is an untamed wild-land where we felt on top of the world (in more ways that one, its sits at over 6000 feet!).  The land is extremely verdant, with seemingly endless virgin landscapes stretching over countless valleys and breathtaking waterfalls.  Transport is tough, small jeeps playing terrible pop music cling to the craggy and pot-hole ridden roads/ trails and the pace of life slows right down, sometimes to a halt.

Some people say that Menchuka is the fabled ‘Shangri-La’ but it was normally raining and cloudy when we were there, this is picture is taken from Wikipedia (we’ve been to this exact spot, but couldn’t even see the village below due to cloud cover).

Menchuka is the end of the road and it took three days travel just to pass through Menchuka Valley from the nearest large town named, Along.  Each valley and turn seemed to unearth a totally different tribal culture; with differing techniques for hut construction, cultivating the land and keeping livestock, worshipping nature and dressing in a usually flamboyant and vibrant fashion.  Some of our best memories revolve around the nightly fire in Gayboo’s Homestay with all sorts of rosy cheeked local characters; hitching tractor lifts along muddy roads with friendly locals (crammed in with the lumber!), searching for isolated Tibetan Monasteries and Monks in the misty pine forests, navigating our way around the local army base with the massive runway construction project underway, slurping chow chow noodles (think a greasy chow mein) with mugs of restorative hot water in local eateries and crossing wide white rivers on long and creaking rope bridges… we had a ball!

Crossing creaky rope bridges......near Menchuka, Arunachal Pradesh Crossing creaky rope bridges……near Menchuka, Arunachal Pradesh

What made it extra special was finding Gayboo’s homestay; a small group of log cabins in the middle of the village. The only warm place was beside the communal family fire, where we dried out with a mug of hot tea after yet another damp and chilly hike.  Gayboo, and his wife Nana, made us feel like we were wrapped up in a warm blanket in our little sanctuary home in the mountains.

Our sweet and very kind hosts welcomed us with open hearts and bright smiles. They told us the tales of their lives, showed us photographs of carpets of Spring time wild flowers blooming in secret places, and made us all sorts of Memba (their tribe) specialties.

They also taught us the art of making  Tibetan Momos, their speciality dish, served with a tasty chilli herb dip, made from a recipe passed down to them from generation to generation.  These momos are really special, the real deal. Of Nana’s three techniques to wrap them I liked the so called ‘pinch-pull’ method which gave the Momo a classic British Pastie look.  There was also the ‘twist’ and the ‘crimp’, favoured by Nana’s daughter Gemma, which admittedly sounds like something out of the Mighty Boosh, but all will be revealed….…

Jane and Nana gettign warm pre-momo 'fest. Jane and Nana gettign warm pre-momo ‘fest.

The ‘Magic Herb’ mentioned in the title was intriguing at first, but turned out to be something very much like a whole Szchechuan peppercorn, which was bashed up and added to the mix.  A process we have repeated in Wales to a very nice effect.  The family gave Lee a whole peppercorn to chew on with comical, gurning results.  We would recommend going easy on them in their raw state!!!

The Bits – for 4 (makes about 16 momos – more if your dough rolling skills are good and thin)

Momo Filling
600g boiled potato (peeled and diced)
200g broccoli (grated)
1 medium onion (grated)
½ tsp chilli powder
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 inch ginger (crushed)
½ tsp salt
1 teaspoon oil
100g chard or kale (very finely chopped)
¼ teaspoon Szechuan pepper (to taste – you have been warned!!)

Momo Dough
2 cups white unbleached flour
½ – ¾ cup of water (depends on the type of flour)
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp oil

The Tibetan 'Cornish Pastie' The Tibetan ‘Cornish Pastie’

Do It

Get the potatoes straight into a pan of salted boiling water and cook until they go soft and mashable.

While the potatoes are boiling, slowly and gently fry the rest of the filling ingredients in the oil over a low/medium heat so that they turn nice and soft. Take them off the heat before they go brown.

Mash up the potato when it is cooked, then add the fried ingredients. Give the mixture a good stir, seasoning it just as you like it.  Leave to cool for a good hour until at room temperature.

Whilst the mixture is cooling down, make the dough. For this, mix the flour, salt and oil in a bowl and add water gradually until the texture is smooth and the dough is stretchy. Knead the douhg for a minute and then stick it in the fridge to chill.

Then roll out the dough into a big circle and use a standard sized mug or scone cutter to cut it into smaller discs.  The size doesn’t really matter, just not too massive.  Then get creative with your folding styles!  The ‘crimp’ looks like a little semi-circle, the ‘push-pinch’ looks like a Cornish pasty and the ‘twist’ ends up looking like a little ‘dimsun’ style ball with a twisty top. Lee is the ‘crimp’ king, I’m partial to a ‘push-pinch’. See the pictures for a reasonable idea about what we are getting at.

There may be some filling left over at the end if the dough is a little too thickly rolled (they will still taste lovely though, so no worries!). This filling is so delicious you can just make leftovers into little patties the next day, or just snack on it while you are rolling.  If you are Tibetan and an expert then you’ll probably end up with too much dough!  Nana’s Momos were very thin, but we are just beginner Momo-makers.  We had a little filling left over at the end of our rolling session.

Momo's steaming on an open fire.... Momos steaming on an open fire…….Gayboo’s Homestay, Menchuka

Top Tip – if you try and put too much mixture in each momo it splurges out of the end…..!

These tasty little critters can steamed or shallow fried.  We steamed ours, so lightly oil both the steamer and the Momos so that they don’t stick to each other creating a giant inseparable momo blob. They take about 10-12 minutes to cook through on a decent steam and when they are done there is no stickiness to the dough any more, and the filling is piping hot through.

Serve

We quickly and simply pan fried bok choi, courgettes, tamari and ginger to make the perfect veggie accompaniment; eating our fresh Momos near a picture of the Dalai Lama with our minds all Himalayan.  We always serve Momo’s with ‘Senchen’, a Tibetan dipping sauce.  We’ll dig out the recipe and post it soon.

Foodie Fact

Fenugreek is a fascinating plant – even the ancient Egyptians understood the benefits of fenugreek – it’s seeds were found in Tutankhamen’s tomb!

The health benefits of fenugreek include relief from anemia, loss of taste, fever, dandruff, stomach disorders, biliousness, respiratory disorders, mouth ulcers, sore throat, diabetes, inflammations, wounds and insomnia. What a plant!

Slow moving traffic, waterfall meets road in Arunachal Pradesh. Slow moving traffic, waterfall meets road in Arunachal Pradesh.

Wishing you all happy momo-rolling times. There are few things as satisfying as munching fresh Momos slowly as you’re rolling more of the delicious beasts!!!!!  It is a highly relaxing way to spend an evening away.

Om Mani Padme HumX

Categories: Recipes, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Redcurrant and Chia Breakfast Pots

Redcurrant and Chia Breakfast Pot.  Ready for action!

Redcurrant and Chia Breakfast Pot. Ready for action!

All you need for this easy and gorgeous vegan breakfast is a food processor and a fridge.  It’s that super easy, lightning quick and totally nutritious.  What a lovely, healthy start to the day.

Chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods known to man and are the nutritious seeds of a plant related to the mint family!  Funky grass never tastes this good!! This tiny little seed acts a little like a sponge – becoming slimy and swelling up when soaked in liquid.  Because of this, chia is best served mixed into something creamy and delicious…. in this case coconut milk!  It can also be sprinkle on things liked salads or smoothies, like little seedy nutritional bombs!

This treat breakfast is also a perfect way to use up all those inevitable fruity autumn leftovers you (hopefully) have lurking in the corners of your fridge.  We had some mango bits and some red-currants that worked perfectly, in a very random way.  Sweet and sour…..bhom and mmmmmmm!

Any autumn berries would be find here, blackberries and elderberries spring to mind (as I can see them growing outside the window!)  We have an awesome little project planned for the next couple of weeks when we make Beach House Garden Jam for the first time.  Our plum tree has sought shelter under a dry stone wall, all the protected branches (from the vicious gales we get up here) are flourishing and its looking like a bumper plum crop this year.  Add to that a healthy Barsdey apple presence from our new apple tree and the ubiquitous blackberries swathe that is taking over parts of the garden and we’re looking good for tasty, sugarfree jam this year.  Does anybody know any good sugar free jam recipes?

For a more local/ accessible sweet fruit, why not go for a plum.  Oh, plum and blackberries, now we are talking in a sensation and seasonal fashion.

With bags of redcurrants at this time of year, what better way to use them?!

With bags of redcurrants at this time of year, what better way to use them?!

The Bits – for 4

1 cup of vegan yoghurt
1 small mango (or sweet fruit of your choice)
4 handfuls of seasonal berries (whatever you have in your fridge)
500ml coconut milk
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 date (optional added sweetness)
1/2 cup of linseeds
4 drops vanilla extract

 

Do It

Blend the yoghurt and mango and pour into the serving glasses.

Make a berry layer on top using half of the berries.

Next blend up the coconut milk with the date (it sweetens the milk a little), pour out into a bowl, and mix in the chia seeds, linseeds, and vanilla extract. Put this in the fridge for 20 minutes to cool and swell (or for as long as you can resist it’s charms for).

When the chia mixture feels thick-ish, pour it on top of the fruit layer in the serving glasses. Finally top with the remainder of the fruit.

 

Serve

Can be kept in the fridge for a couple of hours but better served straight away – dive straight in!

 

Foodie Fact

The benefits of Chia seeds are far and wide, with vast quantities of Omega-3 good fats and fibre being particular highlights.  Try drinking a large mug of lukewarm water with a chunk of lemon squeezed into it while you are preparing this breakfast, the perfect de-tox first thing in the morning.

Enjoy Xxx Sending you love this happy morning, Jane X

Cor!  What a pleasant way to start the day.

Cor! What a pleasant way to start the day.

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Eating, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Jane’s Easy Seeded Wholemeal Loaf

Jane on the beach this morning (Dinas Dinlle)

Jane on the beach this morning (Dinas Dinlle)

Jane has been running wild with the bread vibe recently, all kinds of doughy goodness has been rising and getting crusty around the BHK. The most impressive is the most simple recipe, which is just the way things should be.

Jane has taken a few steps out of your average bread making venture and the result is a light and crispy loaf, with decent density. It makes a great base for regular bread making and avoidance of all that strange stuff made by big supermarkets etc masquerading as bread (when we really know that some strange practices have happened behind the scenes). When you taste good quality, homemade bread, you will not be hurrying back to buy some ‘fly away’ seeded loaf from a luminous aisle. This is the real deal.  You also know what goes into your loaf, there can be some strange things done with wheat, bits taken out then added later, all kinds of additive and preservative action.

Whenever we turn the oven on, we pop a loaf in. It makes sense. Turning the oven on is a real event for us, not only does it heat our kitchen (where we have no heating!!!) it also gets our minds tuned into baked goods. What can we rustle up? Rustling things up is very prevalent in the way we do things over here on Tiger Mountain.

Last year we posted something like a ‘Simple Loaf’ recipe, but this takes things even further in the simplicity stakes. If you know of an easier way to make a decent loaf, please let us know.

Jane and I have both decided that bread is cool. We have tried going off it for lengthy periods, but in moderation, toast is a wonderful thing (especially with loads of Marmite lathered on). I don’t think either of us are gluten intolerant (although we all probably are to one degree or another). I am yet to find a decent gluten free recipe for homemade bread, I’ve tried a few, but many of them contain eggs and there is a limit to the way that silken tofu can substitute the richness and binding properties of an egg. I will keep trying though.

Serving suggestions. You have to love the way that companies incorporate a serving suggestion on most of their processed products. I was looking at a can of beans the other day and it was just a picture of a load of beans, underneath stating ‘serving suggestions’. Serve beans, as beans! Who knew!!!! Serving suggestions here are bowls of soup, try this one, or here’s another beauty or maybe a raw soup would be nice?  You can of course go old school and just toast it up and spread on some bramble jelly of even make a little crostini, with chopped tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and fresh basil or oregano.

Have you tried spelt? This is my new favourite loaf and I will be posting a recipe for my ‘Roman Loaf’ very soon. Spelt has an awesome toasty taste and is filled with nutrition and relaxed gluten. Also barley is ridiculously high in fibre, natures highest in fact and makes for a magic crusty lump.

WHOLEWHEAT OR WHOLEMEAL?

When buying flour, try to get whole meal/ wheat.  Stoneground seems to the the most traditional way of doing things.  Sometimes ‘whole meal’ is not actually ‘whole wheat’ and this can mean a decrease in the nutritional value of your loaf.  These terms change from country to country, but we are looking for wheat with all the bran and germ etc intact and certainly not removed. Some brown looking flours can be mixed with other grains, so its worth checking the ingredients.  Also look for unbleached white flour, as bleach and food just don’t mix.  In fact, bleach and life just don’t mix!  You can easily make this loaf 100% whole wheat and experiment with different types of flour (see above).  The white flour is only really there to make it lighter and tighter (if you catch my drift).  As you all probably know by now, I’m the rough, crusty flapjack side of the ‘Beach House Bakery’ and Jane is the more frilly scone and tinsel approach.  This loaf is a compromise of sorts…..

Over to Jane for the simplicity masterclass:

For one average sized loaf (you know that bread tin shape)

The Bits

500g flour (roughly 300g whole wheat, 200g white)

7g fast action yeast (roughly one sachet)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp brown rice extract or barley malt extract

1 big handful of seeds (sunflower, hemp, pumpkin, poppy…….mixture of these?)

1 1/4 teas salt

 

Do It

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl with your hands.

Dissolve the oil and sweetener into 300ml luke warm water.  Stir this mixture into the dough.

Bring it together and turn out onto a lightly floured or oiled surface.  Knead well for 5 minutes until the dough is mixed, add the seeds now.  The dough should not be dry, and should still be sticky to the touch.  Roll dough into a fat oval shape.

Pop into a pre-oiled loaf tin and press down into the edges.  Leave in a warm place covered with cling film of a kitchen towel.  After 1 hour the dough should have doubled in size.  Make deep slashed on the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife.

Pre heat oven to 190oC and bake for 30-35 minutes, until dark golden and risen.  Loosen the edges with a spatula or pallet knife and turn out onto a wire rack.  If it is sticking, leave for a few minutes and have a go after its rested.  It will come out!  Tap the bottom of the loaf with your fingers, it will sound pretty much hollow when it is ready.  If it still feels solid and dough-filled, pop it back in for 5-10 minutes.

Leave to cool for 15 minutes before diving in.

Easy Seeded Loaf

Easy Seeded Loaf

Serve

See the ‘serving suggestions’ above.  Bread is of course best munched fresh out of the oven.  We tend to slice up old bread for croutons or crostini and freeze them.  You can do the same with breadcrumbs, which can come in very handy when making vegan bangers or burgers.

Foodie Fact

Wheat actually originates from South Western Asia and humans have been enjoying it for at least 12,000 years (and counting).   We only got it in the West when Columbus came back from his pilfering missions.

When wheat is processed, at least half of the minerals and vitamins are lost.  If we are eating pasta, breads, flours etc that are processed, we are normally getting very little of the good stuff that is present in natural whole wheat.

Wheat in its natural state is a very nutritious grain indeed, with bags of minerals like manganese and magnesium and barrel loads of fibre.   Sourdough breads are normally a better choice if you feel a gluten intolerant, they also boast better nutrition.  Interestingly, even though wheat is one of the fibre powerhouses of nature, raspberries still contain more fibre!!!!  How cool is that!  Maybe we’ll make a raspberry loaf next time……

And finally.....Buster in a box

And finally…..Buster in a box

Categories: Baking, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Giant Courgette Hats Stuffed with Walnuts, Sweetcorn & Red Rice (Vegan)

Ready for a final roast

Ready for a final roast

In the time of harvest bounty my mind naturally turns to stuffing things!  I have no idea why, there are so many massive vegetables everywhere that it seems like the logical thing to do, they look so cool served whole and are far, far more interesting when stuffed with something uber delicious like fresh sweetcorn, toasted walnuts and some nutty red rice.

Most cultures love a good stuffing, I read recently that in the Middle East they actually have machines to carve holes in carrots etc, you can buy pre-hollowed vegetables at the market in bags.  Now that’s spoiling all the fun (or is it?!)  I am not very good with DIY, the thought of getting the Black and Decker out to carve a carrot sets alarm bells ringing.   Do I love stuffed veg that much?

Everything is going a very courgette at the moment!  They are everywhere and this is a fine way to use up the wonder glut of this delicate fruit.  This particular beast is of the golden/ yellow variety and was over a foot long.  (This post was written a month ago when courgettes were really hanging out there, now they have finished their shenanigans for another year.  Mores the pity.  Bring on the roots!)  

In fact, the best thing that can happened to a courgette is a good stuffing. Its not every vegetable you can say that about, but a courgette is at it finest full of filling other than its own, it has to be said, watery, slightly mushy interior. Especially when they’re massive like this.  Resembling a marrow really.  Here we have upgraded the mush with red camarague rice, walnuts, sweetcorn and many other forms of ultra deliciousness.  A stuffing to be proud of!

Mighty Golden Courgette Towers

Mighty Golden Courgette Towers

I also like to cut courgettes thin length ways and salt them for a while, then use them as a base for an endless number of bakes and gratins.  You can pack alot of courgettes into one of these dishes and the dense nature of a well baked gratin is a wonderful way to serve this normally gentle and light veg.  Having said that, simply fried with garlic and olive oil, there’s another real winner.

Courgettes are allegedly easy to cultivate, but we don’t get the heat up here on the hill.  We also get wind, which tends to knock them down or drag our mini green house away.  We get extreme weather on tiger hill!  We get our courgettes from Trigonos, a small organic farm and retreat centre just over the hill in the next valley, Nantlle.  I am very lucky to work there at the moment and play with all the produce from the fertile land near the lake.  See here, its a magic place,

Jane is going away a lot recently (attending many interesting workshops) and we are making the very most of our short times together.  Today has been a rare early autumnal day, fresh this morning, warm in the day and a beautiful sunset, the perfect day for al fresco dining with some bubbles and twilight all around.

We sat on our bench near the stone circle and wolfed these delicious courgette treats with lashings of Russian chard and beetroot leaves.  It is that wonderful time of year when every veggie seems to be coming out to play (on the plate) and we are inundated with beautiful produce.  The only problem is, what to do with it all? Our veg basket is brimming over and the freezer is filling nicely, anybody fancy coming over for dinner?  We feel like gluttons, but are still smiling.

BERRY NICE

One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is berry picking.  How cool is that!  All these free berries sprouting from hedgerows and footpaths.  Leave the berries near railways alone, they use a weed killer-type train to kill all the plants around the railways meaning these berries will be contaminated.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news (again!)

The elderberries on our hill are nearly ready and we fancy making some wine this time around, I have a recipe up my sleeve.  The thought of homemade elderberry wine makes us both whoop, and we haven’t even drank any yet!

Camarague Rice filling on the hob

Camarague Rice filling on the hob

If you can’t get your hands on giant courgettes, normal size ones are fine, but a little more fiddly.  They will also cook quicker, take 5-10 minutes off the final roasting time.

This recipe will make a little too much stuffing, but its great cold as a salad or maybe find another vegetable to stuff.  Tomato?  How about an apple?  Serve with a simple, creamy sauce.

 

Char those bad boys

Char those bad boys

The Bits – For 4

1 giant courgette (yellow, green…… or 3 smaller ones)

1 1/2 cup cooked camarague rice (or rice of your choice)

1 handful chopped and toasted  walnuts

1/2 handful of sunflower seeds (roasted is best)

1 small onion

1 small carrot

1 medium potato (all three finely diced)

1 corn on the cob (kernels off the cob)

4 cloves garlic (crushed)

8 cherry tomatoes (quatered, or one normal sized tomato)

3 tbs tomato puree

1 teas dried dill

1/2 teas dried mint

1/2 teas dried thyme

1 teas all spice

1/2 cup veg stock

1/2 cup raisins (chopped)

 

Do It

Cook your rice (as you like or follow packet instructions)

Preheat oven 200oC

Warm a griddle pan (not necessary, but looks pretty).

Start by chopping your courgette into interesting shapes with flat bottoms, so they sit up on the roasting tray, like hats.  We have gone for bishops, maybe you’d like a crown, or just a flat top?

Rub them with oil, use your hands and pop them on a griddle pan, presentation side first.  Leave to char up for around 5 minutes.  Be sure not to move them and you’ll get nicely defined scorch marks. Then into the oven for a 10 minute pre-roast.

Why this is going on, get your prep ready for the filling.

In a large frying pan, warm 1 tbs olive oil on med/ high heat and add the onion, saute for five  minutes until going golden, then add your corn and carrot, stir and heat for three minutes then add your potatoes and garlic, saute for a further three minutes then add your herbs and spices.  Stir well, so not allow any bottom sticking.  Add tomatoes and stock.  Add 1 tbs of water if  the heat is too high and things are getting stuck to the bottom.

Now add your seeds, nuts and cooked rice.  Bring to a boil, add a glug of good olive oil, give it a final stir and pop a lid on it.  Turn heat off and leave to settle for ten minutes.

Your courgettes should now be ready.  Grab them out of the oven and set aside for a moment to cool just a little.

Get a reasonable spoon (dessert) and begin to spoon your hot mixture into to courgettes, packing it down as you go, filling every possible space with tasty filling.

Now pop them back into the oven for a fifteen minute blast and after that the courgette should be softened and the filling piping hot and ready to devour.

Serve

We sprinkled ours with chopped toasted walnuts, a few twists of black pepper, some wilted chard, beetroot leaves and good olive oil.

We would also recommend a nice tangy tomato based sauce or chutney, a creamy sauce is also lovely.  These densely packed courgettes are meals in themselves and need little else on the plate to satisfy.

We Love It!

A real decadent dinner treat here, fit for special occasions and Tuesday nights after work.  It does take little preparation but the combinations of textures and flavours are worth the modest toil.  Get golden courgettes if you can, if they aren’t in the shops, hit your local veg farm and flutter your eyelids a little (always works for me).

Foodie Fact

Technically courgettes are an immature fruit (which sounds a lot like a good friend of ours) and can grow to over a metre long.

Golden/ Yellow courgettes are not only very cool to look at they are also have a higher carotene content than your average green courgettes, they are also good for vitamin C and A with plenty of potassium to boot.

Brit disclaimer – What we repeatedly refer to as a courgette in this post may be known to some of you as a zucchini.  We at the Beach House Kitchen mean no offense in the flagrant use of our British-ness and actually prefer the name Zucchini, it sounds like fun and has a ‘Z’ in it, which is always very cool in our world.  Maybe we can all just call them Zuch-ettes and bridge our islands vocab gap.  Just to add greater confusion to the mix in South Africa they call these beauts ‘baby marrow’.    

Categories: Autumn, Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Rainbow Chard & Red Lentil Harira

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Harira on the hob

We regularly have an identity crisis with dishes, turning traditional fare on its head, ‘Beach House-ing’ things you could say.  We don’t mean it, no offence to the original recipes and food heritage in question, its just we like to play in the kitchen.  Here’s another traditional recipe we have messed about with, thankfully the results were rather delicious.

The best harira I have ever had was for breakfast (regularly) in the village of Chefchaeoun, known to many a traveller for its exceptional soup, jalaba (hooded cloak garment worn by most Moroccans) production and wonderful mountain location.  Its small winding streets hide many a wonderful eating experience, rows of blue houses (yes blue!) make this one of the most distinctive and stunning villages in that vast old land.

I moved there for a while, took up residence in a room situated on the walls of the Hamam (the communal bath), the warmest room in town.  You see its high up there and you wake chilled to the bone and needing a serious bowl of spicy sustenance.  Abdullah provided.

He was a wonderful cook, in nothing more than a space between two buildings, a few squat tables and two gas burners with huge steel pots, Abdullah created the authentic Moroccan dining experience for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It was like a French Bistro without the pretense and price tag.  My kind of joint for sure.

For a few pennies, Abdullah would dish you up an epic bowl of full-on morning ammunition, sometimes with a tooth-less smile that shifted the early morning fug.  This hearty soup fuelled me on many a hike around the Rif Mountains and also on days spent lounging around playing card games with other punks holed up there. It came with a wedge of steaming flat bread, fruity olive oil and a small bowl of freshly ground cumin to use liberally.  I sat wearing my Jalaba (the over enthusiastic tourist that I am) eating with the local men in silence, canteen style.  No women.  In Morocco cafes and restaurants seem to be a male only thing.

Chefchaouen

I like cooking soups, its a soulful pursuit.  You don’t have to be to precious, there are rules, but not many, a little like Morocco itself.  This is the situation where I feel nice and comfortable.

Recipe Notes

Add just  2 cups of water to make this a hearty stew.

As with all soups/ stews, depending on the quality of your veggies, you many need to add some vegetable stock if the flavour is thin on the ground.

Here’s to you Abdullah.  Peace be with you.  Hamdullah!

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Rainbow Chard and Red Lentil Harira

The Bits – For 4 bowls

1 1/2 cup dried chickpeas (soaked and cooked)

750ml fresh water (or vegetable stock)

1 tbs olive oil

1 1/2  inch fresh ginger (finely diced)

3 cloves garlic (minced)

1 large onion (finely diced)

1 yellow pepper (diced)

3 ripe tomatoes (with flavour)

3 cups chopped rainbow chard (stems separated from the leaves)

1 teas ground turmeric

1 1/2 teas smoked paprika

1/2 teas ground cinnamon

2 teas cumin seeds

3 tbs tomato paste

1 lemon (cut into wedges)

2 tbs gram flour (or flour of your choice)

1 handful fresh coriander leaves (leaves picked, stems chopped)

1 cup red lentils

3 dates (finely chopped)

1 teas fresh ground pepper

2 teas sea salt

 

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Harira bubblin’ away

Do It

Soak your chickpeas overnight in a saucepan.  Drain and refresh with new water, well covered.  Add 1/4 teas bicarb of soda (this makes them soft and cook quicker), bring to a boil and lower heat.  Vigorously simmer for 20 minutes or until chickpeas are tender.

Warm the oil in a thick bottomed sauce pan, add your onions and cumin seeds and saute the onions for a few minutes until glassy, add garlic, pepper and ginger, stir for a couple of minutes and then add all chard stems (add earlier if they are a little tough), flour and spices, stir and warm through for a minute and now add your tomatoes, dates, lentils, tomato paste, warm through for a minute then add your water/ chickpea juice. Bring to a rolling boil and turn down heat to the lowest setting, add your chickpeas and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, bring back to just about boiling, add your chard leaves and coriander stems.  Re-cover and allow to cook for a few minutes.  Check seasoning.

Serve

A lemon wedge, topped with coriander leaves and a good glug of good olive oil.  Add green olives and brown rice to the table if you’d like to make this dinner.

For a special touch, we have it sprinkled with roasted and chopped almonds.

We Love It!

With winter lurking up the hill, we are getting back to our hearty soups.  Harira is definately one of our fav’s and it is very cool when you have pleasant memories attached to a dish.  Food has amazing transporting properties, the sights and tastes so evocative and alive in memories.

Foodie Fact

Spices are much more than just incredible tasting, the vast majority boast some quite brilliant health properties (as long as we don’t burn them in the pan).

Turmeric is a root similar to ginger and in its raw state has very potent flavour, its wonderful stuff.  Dried is the best we can normally do on this island.  It is peppery and sweet, warm and bitter and has even been likened to orange peel (if very fresh indeed).

Now the nitty gritty and real magic.  Turmeric is anti-microbial, anti-flatulent and strongly anti-bacterial. POW!

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Heavy plate version with rice, olives, fresh coriander and lashings of olive oil

Categories: Autumn, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Brazil Nut and Cacao Pancakes with Papaya Sauce and Berries

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A truly awesome start to any day, this just happened to be a Sunday.   This is a low-rise cake, with aspirations to one day be a pancake.

Brazil nuts, berries, papaya, this is a decadent affair.  Its the kind of thing you’d imagine the old Maharajas to be munching on in palaces on the Gangetic Plains.  What Im trying to say is that this is decadent in the extreme and packed full of nutrition.  I find normal fat pancakes, american style, a little on the heavy side.  These Brazil Nut beauties have all the flavour without the post breakfast sag.

They can be made raw with a dehydrator, but we forgot to put ours on the night before, so we baked them like a cake in the oven and they turned out very well indeed.

The papaya is a real treat, making quite a change to all the apples and blackberries we have been eating at this time of year.  What can I say, I am weak when it comes to papaya.  They are one of my favourite things for breakfast.  Even though the papayas that take the long flight over here are a little jaded and solid, I never tire of that unique flavour.  I also love the seeds, they  look like frog spawn.

THE BEAUTY OF BRAZILS!

Brazil nuts (or cream nuts) are always handled with great care in our kitchen.  They seem impossibly hard to harvest and grow, so when I get hold of some, I reserve them for the best occasions and finest of company.  When blended, they are so fatty, they resemble butter.  Brazil Nut butter is the only thing that can compare with ‘real’ butter for creaminess and outrageous fattiness, only the fat here is not all saturated and of course, all plant based.

Brazil nut trees are mighty things, some of the highest and oldest trees in the Amazon region, growing to nearly 50 metres tall!  Imagine climbing that to get to the nuts!  Each one of these massive trees will only yield around 300 brazil nut pods per year and take at least 14 months to mature.

I am a little dodgy with gluten it seems, it makes my eczema go wild.  Ground brazil nuts, like almonds, make a perfect substitute for flour and are much more nutritious.  Brazil nut oil is also a wonder thing, great for massages and cooking.  As if that wasn’t enough goodness for one nut, see the nutritional content in the Foodie Fact below.

The Beach House Kitchen has been as busy as ever, but you’d never guess it by the number of posts of late.  Below are some of our cacao/ chocolate-style creations for the month.  We’ve had friends and family visiting, so cakes have definitely been on the agenda.  We really should type more, we’re just too busy cooking and eating!

Pancake time!

The Bits

Pancakes – 2 bananas, 1 1/2 cup brazil nuts, 1/2 cup raw cacao powder (or normal cocoa if you like), 1 cup flax seed meal, 2 teas cinnamon, 1/2 teas bicarb of soda, 1 cup water

Sauce – 1 small papaya, 1 small orange, 1 tbsp sweetener of choice (maple syrup, rice syrup etc)

Finish with chopped bananas and berries (we used raspberries and blueberries) and a few chopped brazil nuts (we used almonds bizarrely).

Do It

Preheat an oven to 200oC

In a food processor, add your brazil nut and pulse them until broken down, but still a little chunky.  Almost to the texture of ground almonds, but not quite.

Add the rest of the ingredients, except the water, blend together and add the water a little a time.  You are looking for a thick, double cream like texture, a little thicker than a normal pancake.

Pour into a well oiled, circular spring form pan and pop in the oven for 15 minutes.  It will rise nicely into a low-rise cake of sorts, but still in the realm of pancake.

Whilst this is occuring, wipe out your FP and place all sauce ingredients in.  Blend until smooth.  Thats that.

Chop up and wash your toppings ready for action.

Serve

In slices, drizzled with the sauce and festooned with topping galore.  What a treat for those weary Sunday mornings when the loss of Saturday just seems too much.

If you are hungry and feeling extravagant (even more so!) then you can stack these pancakes into some form of wonder tower, layered with the toppings and sauce.

We Love It!

Dessert for breakfast is something we wholeheartedly condone in these parts.  ‘Nuff said.

Foodie Fact 

Brazil nuts are such a gift.  Individually wrapped, hanging from a beautiful fruit.  Originally a delicious source of protein for the people of the Amazon, now enjoyed by us all, they are fatty, rich and packed full of nutrients.

Being so buttery, Brazil nuts are high in calories and fats.  The great news is that a large portion of these fats are mono-unsaturated, making them good for the heart and preventing strokes.

Brazil nuts also boast great levels of Vitamin E (good for the cells) and Selenium (they are the highest natural source of this mineral).  Selenium works with anti-oxidant enzymes to keep cancer, coronary disease and cirrhosis at bay.

Brazil nuts are also good for the vitamin B’s and are full of minerals like copper and magnesium.

Here’s what else has been hitting the ovens recently:

Baked Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Hazelnut Base

Baked Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Hazelnut Base

Kiwi and Tahini Custard Tart with Cacao and Cashew Base

Kiwi and Tahini Custard Tart with Cacao and Cashew Base

Jane's Double Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

Jane’s Double Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

If you’d like any of these recipes, just let us know.

Categories: Breakfast, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Chestnut Mushroom and Sage Farrotto with Balsamic Figs and Tofu Feta (Vegan)

I'm too sexy for my figs

I’m too sexy for my figs

You cannot say that we aren’t good to you, here are two recipes on one plate!  It also has to be said that we are quite good to ourselves, this is our Thursday night treat dinner (or ‘tea’ as Jane calls it).   A farrotto with the lovely nuttiness of spelt and gorgeously sweet glazed figs topped off with some citrus tofu feta.

Every Thursday, I’m normally off work and Jane gets back early, we head off to the big smoke (Bangor – which is a small town with a big Cathedral) and we pick up our veg box from a wonderful little farm in Bethel and then head to a cafe and maybe pick up some fruit.  Today these beautifully plump figs caught my eye, I haven’t had the pleasure of figs for an age and love them with a little balsamic glaze.

FARROTTO?

Farrotto is an Italian dish made with ‘faro’ which can be translated as spelt.  Whenever I cook with spelt, it seems timeless.  An ancient grain that has been used for centuries in these parts.  We normally keep spelt for sprouting purposes and love the chew of the stuff in a salad, it’s always a hearty customer.

This farrotto is simply cooked like a risotto, only for longer.  We used some local chestnut mushrooms, fresh garden herbs and giant organic spinach for a classic Italian combo.  We also had a little secret ingredient in our umami powder, a mixture of fine sea salt, seaweed and powdered shiitake mushrooms.  Add to that bags of garlic and a small pile of onion and we are talking Italy on a plate using Welsh produce.  Definitely how we like to do it in the BHK, world food, local bits.

Tofu Feta

Tofu Feta – looks similar, tastes different

FETA TOFU, TOFU FETA, ARE YOU MAD?

As a a vegan, you must eat tofu.  It’s one of the vegan commandments.  If you don’t go tofu, you’re sent to work in Mcdonalds by the vegan police.  It’s not pretty.  Eat tofu!

Tofu feta is a vegan staple and nothing like proper feta but is damn fine and tasty non-the-less.  It is a little tiresome with so much vegan food sharing names with the original cheese/ meat produce.  Its something we’ll all have to live with, but when trying vegan sausages/ burgers/ cheese etc please do not expect something remotely similar.   Approach with an open mind and preferably an open mouth!

As you’d expect from a tofu dish, this is full of powerful plant protein and is superbly lean (no fat in fact).  Always opt for whole bean tofu and you cannot go wrong, tofu is amazingly versatile and we even use it in desserts, check it out – strawberry tofu ice cream cake).

Firm tofu will crumble like a nice feta and if you pop this recipe in a blender you have what could be called tofu ricotta.  We don’t make the names, just the tasty food.

AUTUMN HARVEST TIME

It is that time of the year when the slight chill of winter is in the morning air and the trees and bushes are ladened with fruits and berries.  We had a surprise apple tree spring up a few weeks ago.  We thought it was just a little bush and wham!  Big green apples all over the place.  Result!

We will soon be harvest our potatoes and beetroots, blackberries are everywhere (which is great for walks, no need for a packed lunch!), we will be making rowan syrup soon and bramble jelly. We are also trying to eat as much rainbow chard as possible, it’s irrepressible, which is wonderful news.  We are really thankful for a great summer weather wise and the bounty of autumn is a fine time of year to be a cook, I’ve never roasted so many tomatoes.  It’s the time of year when spare jam jars become a rare commodity.

We love the British seasons but will be cheating again this year and heading to Spain for a large part of it, we then have plans to go further afield.  Eastward.  Hoorah!  I plan on making a pit stop in the Southern Med for a couple of weeks of eating my way around various countries (Jane is heading to Delhi), then waddling around some fascinating historical sights.   I promise to come back inspired with notebooks full of new recipes to try out and a belly full of hummus.

Herb garden raided - My king of bouquet (edible)

Herb garden raided – My king of bouquet (edible)

The Bits

Serves 2 hungry sorts

Farrotto

2 cups spelt grain, 3 cloves garlic (minced), 1 small onion (chopped finely), 4 cups large spinach leaves and stems (sliced), 1 cup dried chestnut mushrooms (soaked) or 2 cups fresh, 1 teas umami powder or salt, 1 teas cracked black pepper, 5 large leaves fresh sage (chopped finely, 1 teas dried), 2 teas fresh rosemary (chopped, 1/2 teas dried), 1 teas fresh oregano (good pinch dried), 1 cup mushroom soaking liquor, 4 cups good veg stock (kept warm – jug with a plate on top will do, or a covered pan on low temp), 2 tbs good olive oil

Balsamic Figs

2 plump figs (halved from stem down), 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 teas brown rice syrup (or other sweetener), scant pinch of salt and pepper

Tofu Feta

1/2 pack firm tofu (150g crumbled with fingers), juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 teas sea salt, 1-2 cloves garlic minced (depending on how much you love garlic), a few basil leaves (optional – left whole in the feta when marinading)

A couple of handfuls of sharp salad leaves, rocket is perfect.

Some of the bit and the not-so-secret ingredient

Some of the bit and the not-so-secret ingredient

Do It

In a medium sized saucepan, warm on medium heat 1 tbs olive oil, add your onions and saute for 4-5 minutes.  When softened, add garlic and faro to toast a little, saute for 3 minutes further, then add your umami (salt), pepper and mushrooms followed quickly by the liquor all this whilst stirring well!  Intense.  You’ll get a nice hiss now, add your herbs and continue to stir well.  It’s all in the stir this dish.

When the liquor has reduced down, ladle in some warm stock, one ladle at a time as the farrotto becomes thicker and reducing, intensifying the flavours.  Wow, what a thing!  Keep stirring gently.  Cook on a steady heat for around 40 minutes in total, the faro should still have a little bite to it and the consistency of a loose porridge.  Finish with 1 tbs olive oil stirred in just before serving.

The tofu is best made the night before serving to marinade nicely.  Crumble the tofu in a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with a spoon.  Serve at room temperature, like most things, straight out of the fridge is just not cool.  It’s a flavour killer.

In a small frying pan, get it hot, add you balsamic and sweetener then your figs straight after, there will be smoke here.  Exciting.  Move the figs around the pan to get well coated in the glaze, cook for two minutes on high heat then remove from pan.  The figs should have a lovely shiny charred look to them.

Figs mid-glaze

Figs mid-glaze

Serve

On one half of a dinner plate, pop a handful of leaves sprinkled with some tofu feta (add walnuts or other nuts here for a super special twist) a couple of fig halves, few twists of black pepper.

On the other half (remember this is two meals in one here!) spoon your lovely thick and gooey farrotto, a sprinkle of herbs and drizzle the whole plate with some fine olive oil.

Chestnut Mushroom and Sage Farrotto with Balsamic Figs and Tofu Feta

Chestnut Mushroom and Sage Farrotto with Balsamic Figs and Tofu Feta (as you can see, we are not shy with portions in the BHK, no finger food in our kitchen!)

We Love It!

Like eating in our favourite Italian restaurant in the Beach House.  Who needs to go out for dinner when the food is this good in the casa and you get your starter and main course on the same plate.  Unconventional, but we like it.  Great for sharing.

The citrus tofu and sweet figs work well and the farrotto is our new favourite risotto (if you catch our drift),

Foodie Fact

Spelt is a cousin/ neighbour of wheat, but is lower in gluten making it acceptable to some folk who suffer from wheat allergies.  Generally its better for the belly than wheat and makes a wonderfully nutty loaf in flour state.

Spelt is said to originate from Iran and is 7000 years old (how do they know these things).  Spelt has always been highly regarded and was offered to pagan gods of agriculture to encourage a fine harvest and fertility.

Spelt has a better range of nutrients than the vast majority of wheats, its full of minerals which our body loves.  It is a whole grain meaning it has a good level of dietary fibre, remember that grains are not the only soure of fibre, many fruits are full of it.  Take raspberries for example which have a comparatively higher level of fibre than oats and brown rice put together!

Categories: Autumn, Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Morcilla De Verano – Spanish-Style Aubergines

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Morcilla De Verano

A traditional vegan classic from the south of Spain, originally cooked to replicate Morcilla (black pudding basically).  You regularly see it served around Murcia, especially on tapas bar counters.  Its a great option for me in the land of jamon.  All Murcians know the dish and are rightly proud of it.  We’ve added some tempeh to the traditional recipe making it more of main event.  I love cooking aubergines right down with sweet onions and the addition of proper Spanish herbs and spices really pack a punch flavour wise.

Even though its called a ‘summer’ dish, we think this is great all year around.  Due to its slightly meat like texture, this is a dish to sate all.  We’re always trying to find dishes that will appeal to meat eaters aka most of our family and friends.  This is exactly what this dish was created for, people couldn’t afford meat and were looking for a delicious substitute.

You know, I love Spanish food and this dish really taps into the rustic heart of their magical range of cuisine.  Spanish food speaks of the land and culture.  It is the perfect expression of such a diverse land and for me, the cuisine of the South perfectly matches the arid plains and craggy red mountains.  Its rugged, its got bags of soul and it can take your breath away.

As some of you will know, my parents have a little place over in Murcia, Jane and I are regular visitors chasing the sun and the peaceful Med life.  This dish is based on a recipe passed to us from wonderful friends over that way, Fey and Jose.  It is actually Jose’s brother Andres recipe and he created it in an attempt to eat less meat (he’s a real maverick in the area, only 0.3% of Spain’s population are veggies after all).  I still have the little scrap of paper that he wrote it down on one night, for me that is real soul cooking.  This recipe is connected with so many memories of wonderful people and places, we can’t help but love it.  We have of course made our usual Beach House alterations, but this does not stray too far from Andres Murcian delight.  Gracias HombresX

Recipe Notes

Don’t be shy with the oil here, remember it is Spanish after all!  The dish should be slightly on the oily side which of course makes it very rich and satisfying.  After eating this for dinner Jane exclaimed “I feel like I’ve just eaten meat and two veg” rubbing her belly.  Always a good sign.

We decided that this is a star dish and very versatile.  It could be used to stuff a vegetable, a courgette or potato sounds perfect.  Of course, its great for tapas and picnics and is lovely even when served cold.

Buen Provecho!

The Bits

2 small aubergines

1 courgette

1 small onion (all three finely diced and kept seperate)

2 garlic cloves (crushed)

2 teas fresh rosemary (finely chopped)

2 teas sherry vinegar

2 teas sweet paprika

1/2 teas cinnamon

1/2 teas all spice

2 teas fresh oregano (finely chopped) or 1 teas dried

200g tempeh (or tofu)

1-2 teas sea salt

1 1/2 teas cracked black pepper

Olive oil (for frying)

 

Topping

2 tbs toasted pine nuts or almonds

 

Do It

This is a three part saute/ pan frying routine, meaning a number of stages until your meaty morcilla is just right.  The trick is to get everything nicely caramelised, bringing out maximum flavours.

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First saute, courgettes and aubergine

Start with your aubergine and courgette.  Add 2 tbs of the oil and warm on a medium heat in a heavy based frying pan.  Add the aubergine and saute for 8-10 minutes, until nice and golden and releasing some of their liquid, then add the courgettes and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.  This is the real flavourful aspect of the dish, the aubergines should be nicely browned and gorgeously sweet by this stage.  Set aside.

Next, your tempeh needs sorting.  Chop it up finely, it will resemble dried scramble egg.  Add 1/2 tbs of oil and saute for 5-7 minutes, until it is beginning to get brown around the edges.  Set aside with the aubergine mix.

Now, add 1 tbs oil, fry the onions in the same pan (wipe out if necessary).  Lower the heat if things are getting a little hot.  Stir, the onions should take 6-8 minutes to become golden, we don’t want to rush them and risk burning them.  Once they are golden, add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, pop your vinegar in to a big hiss.  Now it’s time to spice things up.

Add your paprika, all spice and cinnamon, saute for a minute, stirring all the time and not allowing the mix to stick.  Then add your herbs and the aubergine/tempeh mix to the pan.  Stir well and warm through for a couple of minutes.  Your ready for the plate.

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Warm through and enjoy the awesome aromas

Serve

In a warm serving dish, topped with some pine nuts and a sprinkling of paprika.

We served our morcilla with some steamed green vegetables (broad beans, runner beans and broccoli) with some pan fried lemon cabbage.

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Morcilla de Verano – looking good!

We Love It!

Really satisfying rustic style Spanish fare.  I imagine this is pretty close to Morcilla itself and cannot wait to try it out on some meat eaters.  Dads coming soon, one of our favourite guinea pigs.

Foodie Fact

Pine nuts are just incredible little things.  Now so expensive, but worth every penny as a treat item.  They can make a real difference to a dish, especially when roasted a little to bring out the flavour.

Pine nuts are full of vitamin A, so you’ll be able to see in the dark.  They have good levels of vitamin D, for the bones and are also rich in vitamin C and iron.  They are quite fatty, which is obvious when you enjoy them, but its mono-unsaturated fats.  Pine nuts are also packed full of energy, great on cereal for a morning buzz and fizz.

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Served with some blanched summer greens – Not bad for Thursday!

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake with Fig and Poppy Base (Raw/Vegan/Gluten-Free) + The Best Way To Wash Your Veggies

Strawberry Tofu Cheesecake with Fig and Poppy Seed Base (Raw/ Vegan/ Gluten Free)

Strawberry Tofu Cheesecake with Fig and Poppy Seed Base (Raw/ Vegan/ Gluten Free)

Please don’t be put off by the sound of tofu in a dessert, it is a truly wonderful addition.  Vegans wouldn’t get very far without it!!!!  Tofu has a bad rep, this cake will change it all…..Tofu is a real hero and if bought organic, is a nutritional wonder to boot with a smooth as silk texture.

It really is amazing what you can do with a blender.  This is a light, refreshing take on a cheesecake, only frozen and with the added interest of being made with tofu.  It takes minutes to prepare and sits happily in the freezer.  This has to be one of the healthiest desserts we’ve made at the BHK with bags of strawberries and only a small amount of figs in the base.

Raw desserts are amazing, but some hide huge quantities of sugar, normally in the form of dried fruits (primarily dates).  It is natural sugar, but it is still sugar.  This dessert is lower in sugar than most, the strawberries go a long way to sweetening the cake.  Raw desserts are not always healthier than other desserts, its worth bearing in mind.

Silken tofu is a vegan staple for dessert, baking and all sort of textural fun.  Tofu is high in protein and is a wonderful vehicle for flavours, of course by itself it is bland, its like a blank canvas for a creative cook.  We have used it in cakes to substitute eggs and it does an admirable job.

The base of this cake goes all seedy.  We have found that going raw can cost alot more, a main contributor is nuts.  You can get through alot of them, especially when making desserts.  Instead of flour, you use cashews.  In fact, many of our staples ie rice, cous cous, pasta etc go out of the window on raw and are replaced by fruit and veg.  Certainly not a bad thing for the body, but it can hit you in the wallet/ purse/ piggy bank.  Seeds are the answer and almost equally as flavourful.  For a crunch base like this, they are perfect.  We have also been making butters with them and they are just as tasty as their nutty compadres.  Go seed!

8 REASONS TO LOVE STRAWBERRIES (EVEN MORE)

–  Big C, very big C.  Super packed with Vitamin C (8 strawbs =150% rda)

–  High in fibre (meaning that even though they are beautifully sweet, they have a low GI index)

–  Member of the rose family (how romantic!)

–  Virtually fat free (for those who think that matters. Fat doesn’t make you fat, to be covered in a later post.  Fat is actually very cool.)

–  Full of manganese=great for bones and growth.

–  They fight the big C (Cancer) with something called anthocyanin.

–  Some scientists have said that strawberries are actually anti-aging.

–  Super high in the vitamin B’s, which help metabolism.

Beauty Strawbssss!

Beauty Strawbssss!

CLEANING YOUR FRUIT AND VEG

We’d always recommend that you give strawberries a good wash.  They can attract all sorts of wonderful creep crawlies and dusty dirt.  Here are some top tips for cleaning fruit and vegetables, especially those bought in supermarkets (i.e. not particularly fresh and probably covered with chemicals and pesticides)  This makes a HUGE difference:

This cake is not made with an ice cream maker, so expect a few ice crystals if eaten frozen.  We find it best semi-thawed.  Take it out the freezer an hour before serving and it should soften up nicely.

Makes one large tart, enough for six slices.

The Bits

Topping: 1 punnet strawberries, 1 box silken tofu (350g), 2 tablespoons of sweetener of choice (we used a cane sugar syrup), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ cup of soaked cashews

Base: 1 cup of dried figs (soaked), ½ cup ground flaxseeds, ½ cup sunflower seeds, ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds, 2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Fresh from the freezer

Fresh from the freezer

Do It

Easy as pie (cake)!

Put all the filling bits in a blender and blend so that you get a thick double cream texture.

Put all the base ingredients into a blender and blend so you get a sticky clumpy mixture that can be rolled into balls.  This will take a few goes, make sure you scrape down the side to incorporate the chunks.

Press the base into a 9” dish circular tart dish lined with cling film.  Pour in the filling and pop in the freezer.  We decided to make two small fat ones, so we could eat one who cake between the two of us.  Some call this greed, we call this the good life!!!!!

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake

Serve

Take it out of the freezer before service and it will have a soft scoop ice cream feel with a nice crunchy base.  You will no doubt have some strawberries or other berries lurking around your fruit bowl, this cake is great with them.

We Love It!

The closest we’ve come to a really healthy dessert that doesn’t taste healthy (you know what we mean here).  This is the perfect summer cooler and has a nice richness even though dairy has not entered the building.

Foodie Fact

(Yawn)  Where do you get your protein in a vegan diet? (Yawn again)  The question on the tip of most carnivores tongue could be simply answered with TOFU.   Tofu is an amazing plant based source of protein and is now readily available in most parts of the world.  It has no cholesterol, is low in fat and contains a similar amount of protein to dairy and meat.  Firm tofu is also high in calcium.  As I mentioned above, just make sure it’s organic and not GMO.

Categories: Cakes, Desserts, gluten-free, Raw Food, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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