Posts Tagged With: hugh fearnley whittingstall

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin (Vegan)

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin

A vegan gratin to die for. Quite a dramatic statement, but not far off the mark I can assure you. Peanuts offer some much more than just a satay sauce.  With vegan food like this, you’d never miss cheese or cream in your cooking, its just so rich and YUM.

Peanut butter, in moderation, is a wonder ingredient and adds so much flavour and richness to all that it graces. A hearty bake is perfect peanut territory and a pinch of smoked paprika, chilli and garlic and you’re well on your way to a very special oven dish of happiness.

It’s been a gorgeous day in Wales, a little chilly, but the sun has shone brightly.  We’ve been walking all day on the Llyn Peninsula, a spectacular area just south of the Beach House.  After a long day rambling around the hills, cliffs and stone age forts, we were ready for some hearty bites.  We also needed some energy (those hills are steep you know!) so reaching for the jar of peanut butter sprang to mind.

Peanuts are used all over the world in cooking and my favourite use of them has to be a Thai Papaya Salad (with roasted peanuts sprinkled on), however, many others also spring to mind.

I saw Hugh Fearnley doing something like this a while ago and felt it worth a try, I have veganised the dish though. Hugh used sweet potatoes and double cream.  I’m not a huge fan of adding lashings of cream to dishes, its a little heavy going and I find it best reserved for strawberries.

I love adding paprika to dishes and we came back from Spain heavy laden with many different varieties. Smoked paprika is so powerful and works well with the chilli and peanut here, it also turns the sauce a funky pink colour.

THE MIGHTY PEA(NUT)

It took me a while to figure this out, but a peanut is not actually a nut, it’s a pea or legume or even herb to some. Makes perfect sense really.  Although strangely, and nature can be strange, peanuts have most of the properties a nut has.

Peanut butter is one of those things that just cannot be replicated, when a spoonful is added to dishes it tends to transform and can dominate proceedings. It is packed full of energy and perfect when we are out on the hills having a wee ramble. Have you ever tried making your own Peanut Butter? Its very easy and normally much more cost efficient. Grab some organic nuts and a blender and you’re off.

On a ramble yesterday, up the Rivals - Llyn Peninsula, Wales

On a ramble yesterday, up the Rivals – Llyn Peninsula, Wales

Some peanut butter you can buy have sugar and other things added, we would steer away from these, the dish will be better with 100% peanut goodness and no added bits.

We didn’t have crunchy peanut butter, so you will see a few sunflower seeds making an appearance on our version.  Just to crunch things up a little.

You can substitute lime for lemon here, that sounds like a tasty change.

The Bits

The Bits

THE BITS

1 medium butternut squash, 1 courgette, 1 parsnip, 1 red onion (all sliced in 1/2 cm slices), 3 tbs crunchy peanut butter, 1 lemon (juice and zest), 3 cups almond milk (or milk of your choice), 1 teas smoked paprika, 4 cloves garlic (crushed), 1 chilli (finely sliced) or 1 teas chilli flakes), sea salt (to taste), 2 teas cooking oil (sunflower ideal)

Getting layered up

Getting layered up

DO IT

Chop up your veggies and gather a heavy oven dish (approx 8inch by 10inch).

Pre-heat your oven to 180oC

In a blender or using a whisk, combing the peanut butter, paprika, milk, garlic and lemon into a thick, double cream-like consistency.  The thicker, the richer, you decide!?

Oil your over dish using your mitts/ hands and begin the layering.  It goes like this:

Butternut-parsnip-courgette-add half your mix-courgette-onion-butternut-pour over the rest of your sauce.  Add a few more spoonfuls of peanut butter on top and smooth them over the squash.

Try and keep the layers neat and well-packed.  It looks and slices better.

Cover the dish and pop in the oven for 20 minutes, then take foil off and cook for a further 30 minutes or until its looking nice and crispy golden.

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin (Vegan)

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin (Vegan)

SERVE

Sprinkle a little more paprika over the gratin and allow to rest and cool for 5 minutes.  Then serve up with some steamed vegetables or a full flavoured salad.

WE LOVE IT!

Creamy and rich with the lovely sweetness of peanuts and the veggies.  This is full of mouthfuls to savour and bags of YUM!  We suggest a full day walking over stone age forts prior to dinner.

FOODIE FACT

Peanuts are said to originate in Central America, but are now grown and enjoyed all over the world, thanks mainly to the Spanish conquistadors (I wonder what the world’s diet would have been like without those Spanish mercenary types setting sail in search of El Dorado and all?)

Peanuts are famously rich in energy and high in protein and vitamin B.  They are also an excellent source of antioxidants (which are increased in the nut when boiled).  So a handful of peanuts a day, keeps oxidisation away!  Good to know.

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Monkey Puzzle Nut and Jaggery Muffins (Vegan)

The Beach House Kitchen (and a box of carrots)

We’re on the road in France and Spain at the minute, but here’s one we did earlier…….

We have some lovely friends of the Beach House Kitchen to thank for these nuts, Rachel and Axel over on Anglesey, who somehow man-handled their monkey puzzle tree into letting go of its precious nuts.  Not an easy task, these trees are seriously covered in sharp spines.

We saw this technique being executed by the British wild food guru Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on his TV programme ‘Veg Everyday’ recently and he needed the help of a tree expert and a hydraulic lift.  From what Rach tells me Axel simply shimmied up a neighbouring tree and shook the hell out of the top, using only a snake catching pole (Axel is an expert in all things snakes and adders) and net.  Unconventional harvesting techniques demand an unconventional recipe me thought.  Hugh made a tasty looking summer cous cous salad out of his puzzle nuts, but we were on a different page all together.

Monkey Puzzle Nuts

So I had a bowl of these beauties, I roasted them and tried one, tastes a little like a chestnut merged with a pine nut.  They are probably best just eaten as they are, but I couldn’t resist sticking them in this vegan muffin recipe that I’ve been sitting on for a while.  A word of gentle warning, these nuts do go a bit dry after roasting and when baked.  CRUNCH!

Jane has been fantasising about cake now for a few days and I have finally got around to making my poor, long suffering lady something resembling a sweet thing.  This is as close as I get really, all that white flower, butter and sugar makes me feel a little queasy.  These muffins are packed with the good stuff and still taste mighty fine.

Monkey Puzzle Tree

What on earth is a Monkey Puzzle Nut?

The monkey puzzle tree (or Araucaria araucana if you’re Latin speaker) is an evergreen that can grow up to 40 metres tall with a trunk of two metres wide!  The tree is covered with sharp, blade-like, ‘reptilian’ leaves or spines that make the monkey puzzle nut one of natures toughest morsels to harvest.  The tree is native to the low Andean slopes of Chile and Argentina but seems to do well on this little grey island.  It is a hardy conifer and you regularly see them sticking out of gardens and stately home driveways.  I don’t think there is a more incongruous tree on this island than the monkey puzzle.

What on earth is Jaggery?

Jaggery is an unrefined sugar used in many parts of the world, known as Gud in India.  It  has an amazing toffee-like texture and can be made with palm, coconut or date tree sap.  Jaggery has a powerful, caramelised flavour that sets it apart from any sugar I have come across.  It is high is sucrose and can be used as a healthier alternative to refined sugar.  Great in a chai.  I like to bake with it because it flavours and sweetens.

You could use a good unrefined brown sugar as a substitute, or even something like molasses, as jaggery can be a little hard to track down.

These muffins make for a great breakfast (they are nice and dense) and are best served warmed through.  A cold muffin has an air of austerity to it that a baked good should not possess.  If you are storing them, make sure they are in a well sealed container or well cling filmed, they can get a little dry these vegan sorts.

I used polenta and oats here as they were in the cupboard, another flour like spelt, rye or tapioca will work really well.  Polenta isn’t quite fine enough to bind and bake as well as other flours.  The oats add alot of ballast and ‘feel’ to these wonder muffs.

Monkey Puzzle Muffins in the mix

Makes for six hearty muffs.

The Bits

2 cups polenta, 2 cups oats, 1 teas cinnamon, 1 teas baking powder, 1/2 teas bicarb,  1/4 teas sea salt, 2 mashed bananas, 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1 grated carrot, 1/2 cup jaggery, 8 finely diced dates (finely chopped), 1 teas vanilla extract, 2/3 cup monkey puzzle nuts (or pine nuts/ your favourite nut), 1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate (finely chopped), 1/3 cup roasted pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup soya milk (or your favoured milk)

Do It

Preheat your oven to 375ºF and grease six muffin cups (or use silicon muffin cups).  In a bowl, mix with vigour the polenta, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a food processor, blitz together the banana, coco oil, jaggery and vanilla until relatively smooth with just some small banana lumps remaining.  Add wet mix to dry and add carrot, chocolate, seeds and milk.  Fold and stir together nicely until just combine.

Muffins pre-mix

Divide the batter up between the six muffin cups, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until slightly browned on top and a thin knife inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Ready to bake

Serve

With a cup of fine tea.  Best warm from the oven, but great in a packed lunch too.

Lovely looking muffs

We Love It!

Simply put, we know of no cooler muff.

Foodie Fact

Jaggery is unrefined and a more complex carbohydrate than normal white sugar.  It contains magnesium and salts and good levels of the antioxidant selenium.  Jaggery also contains iron, which helps ease tension.

Monkey Puzzle and Jaggery Muffin

Categories: Baking, Desserts, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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