Posts Tagged With: snowdonia

BHK Lockdown Diary – Sunshine, Cakes and Frogs

Welcome to lockdown BHK style.  I’ve lost count how long we’ve been hanging out around the garden and house, but we’re the very lucky ones, with a garden and loads of Snowdonian sunshine!  It’s been like Bermuda up here for the past couple of months which has made this whole time feel much brighter for us.  

We’ve been getting on with cooking new recipes, playing with new ideas in the kitchen and in the garden too.  The veg patch is up and running, we have modest ambitions and if we get a few Broccoli floret and a cabbage out of it, we’ll be very happy.  The slugs round here resemble ugly anacondas (I like snakes).  We’ve been really fortunate with all the foragables in the area, loads of sorrell, nettles, hawthorn and crab apple flowers, fresh hawthorn leaves, mints, dandelions, wild garlic, all the joys of spring and early summer.  All that makes for some pretty awesome salads!  

 

Slice of our White Pizza, Vegan Style! Middle-Eastern Flavours – Roasted Cauliflower and Red Onions, Za’atar and Roasted Garlic Puree, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Sumac

 

In these uncertain times (how many times are we reading those words of late!!) we feel blessed to have a local supply of organic veggies.  Our veg box is one of the highlights of the week and Tyddyn Teg are producing an amazing array of fresh local veg for us to base our vegan dreamin’ on.

People keep talking of a new world sprouting out of this, we’re ever hopeful that things will get better and we’ll start taking better care of each other, animals and the world.  One of the key factors for us is a vegan lifestyle, but also keeping food local.  Focusing more on local, sustainable, organic farming.  I don’t like the idea of massive corporations feeding us. I can’t trust those who put profit before health and wellbeing.  I can see from our groups and your emails that many of you are growing your own and from a produce point of view, it doesn’t get any better than that!  I don’t really have very green fingers, but I’m good at getting my hands muddy.  Does that count?        

 

Jane out by the pond, there are loads of frogs, newts and toads this year. We’re keeping it topped up and making shelters for them around the ponds.

 

Vegan Shish Kebab – Marinated Tempeh, Tofu and Oyster Mushrooms with Apricots, Tahini Sauce and Pilaff. Oh, there’s a Beetroot and Ajwain Flatbread too:)  Got to have big colours!!

 

We think we’ve noticed more birds and insects in the garden.  There’s definitely more newts and frogs this year, we’re being invaded!  They try and get into the house, which is very cute.  I was hanging the washing out the other day and a Peregrine Falcon leapt out of a bush.  What sight!  It was amazing to see such a bird of prey up close.  We get the buzzards overhead, but they rarely land near the garden.  We’ve also made friends with the local horses, see below.  Bob, Tanny and Hera are our names for them and they seem to be warming to us.  They’ve started to hang our beside our wall and even lie in the sun just outside our bathroom window.  It’s lovely to wake up to see horses chilling and rolling around.  Every sunset we get a crescendo of grunting horses, blackbirds twittering and the occasional croak from the pond.  

 

Meet Bob – One of the neighbourhood horses who keeps us company in the garden.  We raided there fields the other day and now have a mighty pyramid of horse poo.  For the garden next year. 

 

Pineapple and Pistachio Up-side Down Loaf with a Rose and Cacao Sauce.  Gluten-free.  I’ve had some extra time to experiment with new recipe ideas.  I cook something everyday and have realised I’ll never get through the backlog of recipes I’d like to share here.  Maybe you could give me an idea of what you’d like to see?  I’m sure I’ll have a recipe tucked away somewhere for yah!!  

 

Plenty of brews in the garden to wash down all the cake;) Apparently we’ve both got sun tans from being out in the garden, hanging out with frogs and cabbages.  

 

Sunsets!!!

[caption id="attachment_10516" align="aligncenter" width="470"] We’ve got Sorrel coming out of our ears. I love the zesty flavour in salads, stews/ soups

 

Summers really kicking in over here. We’re enjoying loads of salads, this one includes Korean Mint, an interesting member of the mint crew. It looks like marijuana, but tastes like mint crossed with liquorice. Apparently bees, butterflies and hummingbirds like it. So it must be cool.

 

We try to keep the BHK blog up-to-date, but there’s plenty more vegan cooking action and chat over on our Facebook cooking group

 

We’re loving our afternoon walks up the hills. Appreciating more than ever right now!  

 

This is part one, more BHK lockdown pics coming soon.  

 

We’re ever sending positive vibes and best wishes your way. 

 

 

Categories: healthy, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Peace and Parsnips, photography, plant-based, Summer, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Pea, Avocado and Kale Soup – Vibrantly Delicious and Vegan!

The combination of pea, kale and avocado works so well together. Really flavourful and nourishing.

 

So easy to prepare.  A warming, nourishing bowl of green goodness

 

Beautiful flavours combine with awesome nutrition to make a keeper of a recipe!

 

The avocado here gives a lovely plant-based creaminess.  This recipe is fuss-free and versatile. The soup is delicious as it is, but if you’d like to add spices or herbs, it’s a great base for many different flavour journeys.

We eat loads of pea soups, a myriad varieties, they are one of Jane’s favourites.  You might think avocado in a soup is a little weird.  It’s not.  It’s delicious.  The first time I had avocado in soups was in Mexico City and it works!  I love avocado in anything and kale is something I just worship.  

 

All Hail Kale!!!  

 

Sorrel sprouting in the Beach House Kitchen

 

I like sorrel too

 

It’s that time of year, the ‘hunger gap’ veg farmers call it, but we still have lots of edible ‘weeds’ on offer in Wales.  Nettles, sorrel, dandelions, chickweed, clover, wild garlic, burdock, even Japanese Knotweed is tasty!…. So much free food to forage!  Even on your one a day, government sanctioned stroll, you might see some of these edibles growing.  

We will be harvesting our first nettles and dandelions soon, they’ve been slow to grow this year.  But the sorrel is sprouting up all over the place, with it’s lovely, sharp flavour (like fresh green apple) it goes well in a salad of mixed leaves and makes a very punchy pesto! 

We spoke to our friends last night on Zoom, which is something we’re really enjoying.  We went to Sicily together last year (I will share the pictures for that trip one day!) and before we met, they stayed in a house with mushrooms growing from the floor!  That’s surely another level free food.  Foraging mushrooms indoors! 

 

There are loads of lovely Welsh poppies this year

 

We can’t believe all this sunshine we’re having!  It’s so beautiful sitting outside and eating.  I don’t think I’ve seen a Spring like this in the UK.  The plants are loving it, flowers blooming everywhere and our seedlings are doing well, almost ready to plant out.  I’ve got the veg patch prepared, using a no dig method this year, we’ll see how that goes.  The soil is looking and smelling great.  I’ve been using some compost I cooked 3 years ago.  Nice and mature!

We’ve also just planted some new trees in the back garden.  Elder, Field Maple, Silver Birch, Rowan, Hawthorn and Wild Cherry.  They seem to be settling in nicely.  With all this sunshine, the trees are filled with blossom (much of it being eaten by the sparrows, why do they do that?!) so we’re hoping for a bumper fruit harvest this autumn.  Finger and chopsticks crossed!     

I was just out in the garden checking on the new trees (we had some winds last night) and a Peregrine Falcon leaped out of one of the bushes!!  Which doesn’t happen very often. It seemed to be gathering twigs.  I’m noticing more bird life around here at the minute.  We have a couple of resident buzzards that float around us and stone chat is a new addition to the party.  I love watching the wrens ducking and diving in the dry stone walls.  But having said all that, that Peregrine experience was a bit special!  

 

Cooking is a refuge for me and at the end, WE EAT!  

 

We hope you’re all holding up out there in these strange and challenging times. Our diet can offer us much support and fortitude.  Soups like this are perking us up no end.  I think with this isolation thing, it’s making me more grounded and connected to where I am.  I sometimes have one eye on the next big travel overseas and projects for the future.  Now, with all my cooking gigs and retreats etc cancelled,  I can just chill here with nature and see it changing.  Beginning to notice more and appreciate everything I’ve got.  Both the small and big stuff.  Have you felt this too?  The important things in life have been brought into sharp perspective; good health, love, family, friends, freedom, SOUP!! 

 

We’re posting loads of our other cooking adventures over on

Instagram and our

Vegan Cooking Group on Facebook

 

 

If you like this one, please leave a comment below and follow the blog  

We always love reading your messages and feedback  

 

Recipe Notes

Frozen avocados is sold in many supermarkets and great to have on standby in the freezer for soups, smoothies, a quick guac! attack.  It’s also much cheaper bought frozen (for reasons unknown).  No frozen avocado?  Fresh is also fine, just add it at the end with the kale.

Use any greens you have, but kale is my favourite.   

 

Vibrantly Delicious, Healthy and Vegan Soup – Enjoyed in the front garden in all the Snowdonia sunshine and sorrell


Pea, Avocado and Kale Soup – Vegan 


The Bits – For 4 Bowls

2 small onions (sliced)
425g frozen green/garden peas
150g frozen avocado
1.25ltr warm vegetable stock
100g kale
1 tbs coconut oil

Sea salt

Topping
Fresh herbs like sorrel, basil, mint, parsley


Do It
In a large saucepan, warm the oil on medium high heat and add the onion. Cook for 10 minutes, until nicely golden. This gives a flavourful base for the soup.

Add the vegetable stock to the pan, bring to a boil and add the peas and avocado. Cook for 3 minutes.

Add the kale to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Until vibrantly green.

Take off the heat and blend with a stick blender until creamy.  Taste and season with salt. 

Top with fresh herbs, nuts and seeds.  Enjoy!! 

 

If you like this recipe HERE are loads more of our soup recipes

 

Jane’s arty shot. Last nights sunset from the BHK window.

 

Foodie Fact 

KALE.  Is the king, the queen, the jack and the joker all combined!  It’s nutritionally sound, probably the most nutritionally dense food on the planet.  Loaded with vitamin A, K, C, B1 (Thiamine), fibre and lots of minerals like iron and calcium.

It’s rich in anti-oxidants and could help lower cholesterol, cancer and is anti-inflammatory. Kale even has some Omega 3 fats tucked away it it’s gorgeous greenery. 

It’s actually a member of the cabbage family.  

 

 

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Soups, Spring, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

Lockdown Lasagna – Wild Mushroom, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Pesto with Chickpea Bechamel (Gluten-free, Vegan)

Lockdown Lasagna – Making the best of what we’ve got! A simple lasagna filled with BIG flavours and creamy bechamel

 

This one’s for rockin’ the lockin’!

Lasagna is a celebration of a dish, it takes time and love to make well

 

Most of these ingredients are from the store cupboard or freezer, but it’s still packed with flavour and nutrition.  The sun-dried tomato pesto is a real highlight and adds a zing to the bechamel, making the top especially crispy and delicious.  You’ll get all your lasagna boxes ticked, a deeply flavoured sauce with creamy bechamel.  Many layers of happiness right here! 

I can’t think of a healthier way of making a traditional(ish) lasagna vegan and gluten-free than this one. It’s really tasty and satisfying, full of hearty lentils and mushrooms.  I like cooking food for everyone, something great that we can all enjoy, no matter what our dietary requirements.  It’s just good food right!  

Wild Mushroom, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Pesto with Chickpea Bechamel (Gluten-free, Vegan)

 

Over one our Facebook Cooking Group we decided that chickpeas were the best ingredient ever. So versatile, tasty and nutritious.  Chickpea/Gram flour is an excellent flour to keep in your cupboards.  It makes delicious crepes and pancakes, can be used to make vegan omelettes or tortillas, add it to cakes.  It generally adds a lovely toasty, almost egg-like, flavour to whatever it touches.   I use it for breads also.  It’s my favourite flour right now.

Why is this a lockdown lasagna?  I’ve stripped some of my normal lasagna recipes right back but it’s still a real treat and we all need a bit of that.  The pesto is borderline, I took the pine nuts/ almonds I’d normally use out, but I’m still calling it a pesto!  I want to make this an inexpensive and accessible as possible, but still comforting and moreish.  The process of cooking a lasagna is a labour of love, lots of techniques and time needed to make a something that is such a classic feast.  

We love having a basil plant in the kitchen, the fragrance and colour, it’s a little nod towards the Med too.  Basil is the only fresh ingredient in this lasagna.  This goes against how I normally cook, but these are strange days for sure.  Now, more than ever, the kitchen seems like a refuge of sorts.  A place we can go to lose ourselves for a while and lasagna is the perfect dish for this, disappear into a world of bubbling pots and spinning spoons. 

It may not be fresh but frozen spinach, passata and mushrooms are still filled with great flavour and nutrition.  Fresh is best in the BHK, but cooking the cupboards can also give us diverse options for making delicious and tasty food.  One thing this situation has focused my mind on is how precious food is; tinned, dried, pickled, a bit shrivelled looking, we can do things with them.  Make the best of what we’ve got.     

Our Vegetable Peel and Crisps recipe from a while ago is getting loads of visits at the minute.  I think it’s down to cooks looking for new ways of using up supposed scraps.  Fermented foods are also ideal.  You can take a humble cabbage and make something sublime!  If you’re into sauerkraut that is.  Kimchi too.  Fermented foods store for an age, are inexpensive, require no special equipment and are packed with incredible nutritional properties. Fermenting enhances flavours (chocolate, coffee, cheese, vinegar, wine etcetc all fermented foods).  Our guts love sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha etc and they are great for supporting our immune-system and good health generally.  Here’s our Beetroot, Apple and Caraway Saeurkraut recipe from good ole’ 2014.  I hope to post some new fermented food recipes soon…..  

 

Vegan and Gluten-free Lasagna topped with that sun-dried tomato pesto (which makes all the difference!)

 

If you get the chance to try this recipe, please let us know below in the comments, it’s wonderful to hear from you.  Yesterday we had people stopping by on the blog from Surinam, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Poland, Cyprus, US Virgin Islands (where are they?), your emails of support and encouragement are amazing and keep this blog floating along.  Big thanks and shout out to Cyberella in Victoria, Australia!  Amazing to know that you’re loving Peace and Parsnips all the way down there.  

From our little cottage in Snowdonia, the BHK blog was started simply because we had a passion for healthy food, empowered cooking, good health and living.  How they’re intertwined.  How the way we cook can change our lives.  Cooking is a regular opportunity for me to be mindful and compassionate.  We wanted to share this with more than just our little village!  8 years later our main motivation for blogging is still, WE LOVE IT!!

The BHK is just taking it easy at the minute, we’re waiting to see how things pan out and when this blows over, we’ll be announcing new events, collaborations, holidays, demos and retreats. Thanks everyone for getting in touch and enquiring about what’s coming for later in ’20 and into ’21.  

Who knows where this is all going to go?  I just know that for me, cooking and eating good food makes life more bearable at times of crisis.  We’re appreciating, everyday, what we have and focusing on cooking up a life filled with love and peace, staying grounded, energised and vital for the challenges ahead.  

Sending you all best wishes, all over the world, from Surinam to Scarborough, hoping that you’ve got some dried mushrooms and gram flour in the cupboard ready for action!

 

Ciao Bella!!  Vegan lasagna fresh out of the oven, all crispy on top and bubbling with flavours

 

Recipe Notes

Lasagna takes a while to get together, you can start preparing well in advance, cook the lentils, make the bechamel and even finish the sauce.  This means that you’ll just need to assemble the lasagna and bake.  If you’re making it from scratch, put aside at least a couple of lasagna hours.  It’s always time well spent!

Not gluten-free?  That’s cool, just use your favourite lasagna pasta sheets.  I haven’t tried the bechamel with plain white flour instead of gram, but any bechamel recipe would be brightened up with this pesto.    

This recipe makes lots.  Plenty for the freezer.  Use fresh spinach or other greens if you would like to freeze the lasagna.  Otherwise, all neighbours love lasagna!  It’s one of those dishes that gets better with age.  Not too much age.  A few days in the fridge is enough ageing.  

If you haven’t made a bechamel before, it’s great.  You’re in for a treat.  Just keep on top of the lumps.  Sound advice there.  Stir, keep stirring and whisk if needed.  Turn the heat down if it’s all happening too fast.  Add you milk little by little, forming a thick paste, then keep adding milk until it thins out gradually.  Eventually you’ll have a lovely, silky sauce to enjoy.   

If you’re a full-blown pasta lover, you could add another layer of pasta to the lasagna.  Just use less tomato sauce and bechamel per layer.  

 

Follow us on Instagram, more pictures from the Beach House Kitchen

and vegan recipes

 

We’re locking down with lasagna!

 

Wild Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Chickpea Bechamel – Gluten-free, Vegan

 

The Bits – For one large lasagna, 10-12 portions

Sauce

350g dark green or puy lentils (rinsed)

750ml cold water

1 big bay leaf

 

6 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)

2 tbs olive oil or whatever cooking oil you fancy

40g dried wild mushrooms (soaked in water)

3 tbs tomato puree

680ml tomato passata (one big jar)

2 teas dried oregano

275g frozen spinach (it normally comes in small or large blocks)

450ml hot vegetable stock

Sea salt and pepper


Chickpea Bechamel

100g chickpea/ gram flour

125ml olive oil

1 ltr plant milk (I used soya milk)

1 big bay leaf

1 – 1 1/2 teas sea salt

 

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

190g sun-dried tomatoes (one small jar, drained) 

1 tbs oil, from the sun dried-tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1/2 teas dried oregano

1 big handful fresh basil leaves

2 large pinches sea salt 

 

Gluten-free Lasagna Sheets (or your favourite pasta sheets) 

 

Do It 

First thing, get your frozen spinach out to defrost.  This can take a couple of hours.

Lentils – Start with the lentils.  In a medium sauce pan, add your bay leaf, lentils and water to the pan, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, until just cooked.  Take the lentils off the heat and remove the bay leaf.  Drain them, using any of the lentil cooking broth instead of stock if you like.  It’s full of flavour.  

 

Tomato Sauce – In a large saucepan, add the oil, on medium high heat, fry the garlic for 2 minutes, then add the tomato paste, continue to stir and cook for 3 minutes.  Now pour in the passata, sprinkle oregano, seasoning well with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  Stir, add the wild mushrooms, along with any soaking water (use a small, fine sieve, there may be some grit in the water).  Pop a lid on a simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.   

Towards the end of the sauce cooking, add your spinach and vegetable stock.  Warm through.

Taste your sauce.  It should be rich and flavoursome, if not, season more with salt and pepper.  Leave the lid on and take off the heat.  The sauce is best used hot.     

 

Pesto – Place all the pesto bits into a blender and pulse until a slightly chunky, pesto forms.  Set aside, the flavours will be mingling nicely.  

 

Chickpea Bechamel – In a medium saucepan on medium high heat, add the olive oil and chickpea flour.  Stir and cook through for 4 minutes to make a thick paste.  Add a splash of milk and quickly stir.  Continue adding splashes of milk and stirring well, add the bay leaf.  

It will eventually become smooth, a thick and creamy texture.  Keep stirring until you’ve used up the milk.  Continue to simmer the bechamel for 10-12 minutes.  Taste, season with salt.  Remove the bay leaf.  

If there are lumps in your bechamel (no probs, it happens!)  Blend.  Grab a stick blender and blend until it’s smooth.  Otherwise, to be honest, a few lumps are not the end of the world!!

 

Vegan Wild Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna, ready for the oven

 

Assemble and Bake – Preheat a fan oven to 190oC.

Stir half the pesto into the bechamel until well combined.

In a large, deep baking dish (ours is roughly 12″ long/8″wide/3″deep), ladle in half your warm tomato sauce. Spoon over roughly a third of your bechamel.   Top with lasagna sheets, until you have a snug covering, breaking up the sheets to fill the gaps.  

Ladle over the rest of your tomato sauce, top with lasagna sheets and spoon over the rest of your bechamel to form a neat layer which meets the edges of the baking dish.  

Now evenly spoon your pesto onto the bechamel, blobs are good (see picture).  Pressing the pesto down lightly with a spoon and muddling it a little.

Place your casserole dish on a large baking tray lined with baking parchment.  This stops drips and saves on washing up/ cleaning.  Jane’s idea!

Cook the lasagna for 35-40 minutes, until the top has a nice, dark golden, crust and all is bubbling begging to be eaten!

We like our lasagna served with a crisp, mixed green salad, using flavourful leaves like rocket or endive, raddichio would be delicious too.  A citrus, olive oil dressing pairs brilliantly with this dish.  

 

A lasagna anyone will enjoy!

 

Foodie Fact     

Most dried mushroom mixes have porcini in them.  Which is one of my favourite mushrooms. King boletus!  Also known as Cep, or in Germany, ‘Stone Mushroom’.   We’re moving into the age of the mushroom!!  The incredible health benefits of mushrooms are now being realised and promoted, plus, they’re just awesomely tasty.  Dried porcini are high in anti-oxidants, are good sources of protein and can help with weight loss, inflammation and digestive health.   

If you’re at all interested in the amazing fungi world, I’d recommend checking out Paul Stamets. 

 

 

 

 

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

Moroccan Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup with Yoghurt and Ras El Hanout – Fragrant, immune-boosting bowl of orange radiance

Roasted Sweet Potato, Carrots, Cauliflower and Lentil Soup with Yoghurt and Ras El Hanout – Vegan, Gluten-free

 

A delicious, radiant bowl of orange goodness

A little spicy with a whole lotta immune-boosting properties

 

I hope you and your loved ones are enjoying good health.  We’re ever sending out love and fortitude during these turbulent times.  We’re going to keep bringing the healthy, vibrant recipes to support and nourish our bodies.  Plus, for us, cooking is a great time to chill and find a slice of peace with pots and pans.     

I created this soup to hit the sweet spot, a fine balance between deliciousness and nutritiousness, with the flavours of the souks, the spice markets of Morocco in mind.  This soup is rich and sustaining, creamy and spicy in all the right places.   

I wanted to add some of my (maybe your?) favourite veggies that you may have right now; sweet potato, carrot (beta-carotene superheroes) and cauliflower.  Also adding warming spices in the Ras El Hanout spice mix (winter chills are still hanging onto Spring up here!), vivid turmeric and richly flavoured paprika.  Then a bit hit of fresh ginger for even more immune-boosting ZING!  We also roast the vegetables in this recipe to bring out their natural sweetness and flavour.  

 

IMMUNE BOOST!!

Every ingredient here is a superstar

 

This is immune-boosting from all angles.  The yoghurt is full of pro-biotics, helping our gut to stay well, 70% of our immune system is located in the gut.  Which also likes lots of fibre and pretty much all of the ingredients are good sources of fibre.  

This soup is just what we needed right now!  Our bodies crave this kind of sunshine food, which I seem to cook a lot of when we’re back in the Beach House Kitchen (located on top of a mountain in Snowdonia, Wales, for newbies).  Putting sunshine colours in our pans and on your plates really works.  Eating food this colour means it’s most probably loaded with anti-oxidants and loads of beta carotene too.  Edible rainbows of healthy happiness.  

 

Food to keep us shining!  

 

I used to eat thick, lentil soups, something like this one, in the Rif Mountains in Morocco.  I settled down for a little while up there a good few years ago.  The steaming pots of soup in the morning, with fresh bread and spices, was a great start to the day.  I love soup anytime and would dearly like to go back to Morocco when all this blows over.  The slow pace of life in the mountains of Morocco is inspiring me right now, patience and finding peace being key to riding this strange time out.  

I also stayed with some Berber musicians in a small village in the Atlas Mountains and we basically played music all day, ate together around one big pot and occasionally picked cactus fruits, or went out to play with the goats and kids.  It was a very (very) chilled life.  Jane and I are mainly playing music, cooking and going out to say hello to the local sheep, so there isn’t that much difference really!  Jane’s just remembered that she can play violin, which has opened whole new doorways in our jam sessions.  Good time to find that one out.

Back in the kitchen….this is not a traditional Moroccan soup of course, but it’s inspired by some of my favourite spices from Morocco, where they have some of the best spice markets I’ve been to.  Tucked away in souks, down tiny, winding alleys, they appear timeless.  Not quite the same when you buy them in the supermarket, but if you can, buy your spices whole, then toast and grind them yourself.  When I got back from Morocco, it took weeks for me to stop smelling like cumin.  The spices are potent in those parts!! 

Enjoy this soup and cooking it!  I love having more time in the kitchen nowadays at home to really focus on my cooking, every aspect, from buying and preparing the vegetables, to washing up at the end, the whole act of making healthy, homemade food is important to us. It seems like every aspect can affect my life in a positive way, especially when we’re doing it with a smile on our faces.

Be well and say “hello!” below in the comments or over on Instagram or Facebook.  We’d always love hearing from you.  What country are you in?  Cooking right now for us is like travelling without leaving the kitchen.  I have my favourite Moroccan tunes on when I cook this, wash it all down with some ‘Berber Whiskey’ aka fresh mint tea with a pinch of gunpowder green tea in there.  I haven’t worn my Djellaba in the kitchen yet, but it’s only a matter of time…..          

 

Moroccan Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup with Yoghurt and Ras El Hanout – Vegan, Gluten-free

Recipe Notes 

Left thick aka not thinning with hot water, this makes for a nice daal also.  I add a little fried garlic and more spices just before serving with rice or warm flatbreads.  

Basically, you can use similar quantities of other veggies here if you’re short of any of these.  I made this again today (the photos are from a few days ago) and I popped a roasted red pepper in there, which was delicious!  The lentils and spices make for a great soup base.

 

 

Moroccan Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup with Yoghurt and Ras El Hanout – Vegan, Gluten-free

 

The Bits – For 8-10 bowls


7 medium carrots 

3 medium sweet potatoes 

350g/1 small cauliflower

 

200g red lentils

3 heaped tbs fresh ginger (finely chopped)

1 large onion (diced)

2 tbs ground turmeric

1 1/2 tbs ras el hanout (or other spice mix like garam masala or baharat)

1 tbs sweet paprika

2.5 ltrs vegetable stock

200ml unsweetened soya yoghurt 

1-2 tbs cooking oil (I used cold pressed rapeseed oil)

Sea salt

 

To serve

Chopped parsley and chillies

Soya Yoghurt

Lemon Juice

 

Do It

Preheat an oven to 190oC.

Roughly chop your sweet potato, carrots and cauliflower.  Place the vegetables onto a large baking tray (or two), cover lightly with oil and a little salt.  Roast for 25-30 minutes, until soft and slightly caramelised, turning them once during cooking.    

In a very large saucepan, the very biggest one you have.  Warm your oil and then add the onions and ginger, fry for 4 minutes, before adding the turmeric, paprika and ras el hanout, stirring for a minute.  

Now add the lentils and stock, bring to a rolling simmer and leave to cook for 20 minutes. Until the lentils are soft.  Add the roasted vegetables and yoghurt, blending all together until smooth using a stick blender.  Thin the soup with hot water if needed, have a boiled kettle on standby, for the soup, or tea?

For serving – Stir a little lemon juice into some soya yoghurt.  Drizzle over the soup and swirl if you’d like it to look a bit fancy.  Scatter herbs and chillies.  

Enjoy warm, with a stack of flatbreads.

 

Foodie Fact 

Sweet potatoes bright orange colour comes from the beta carotene content, beta-carotene makes Vitamin A, which makes you see in the dark and through brick walls, like a superhero. It will also give you the ability to scale tall turnips and dodge banana bullets….  

Also, sweet potatoes are a good sources of vitamin C, fibre, anti-oxidants (which keep us from rusting), and loads of minerals like manganese, potassium and even copper sneaks in there.     

 

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We’ll be posting more pictures of the Beach House Kitchen soon; the mountains, garden and wild nature of the Snowdonia mountains.  The sun has been shining and the sunsets have been dramatic.  The atomic mandarin has done us proud.  What a peach!    

 

OUR TOP 5 IMMUNE-BOOSTING TIPS ARE COMING SOON!

 

 

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Sending Good Vibes! BHK news and how we’re keeping well

Nourishing, simple, vegan cooking skills and knowledge is so important at times like this, giving our bodies and minds the good fuel and flavours they need to be healthy.

    

All of our plans and work for the year are cancelled, which feels both expansive and daunting, sometimes at the same time.  We’re sitting, chilling and breathing it all in at the minute.  Seeing what arises and getting prepared for a lengthy spell of uncertainty and big changes in the way we live.  Most of all, we’re staying at home!  

 

Spanish Dreams

We were moving to Spain a month ago and were in the final stages of buying a olive/ fruit farm in rural Spain.  A little slice of paradise, tucked away in the mountains of Murcia, where we could grow Mediterranean crops and make our own olive oil and wine.  I would be cooking homegrown in an outside kitchen and it even had it’s own spring.  We were over the moon to have found such a place, but it turned out that this idea was affected by Brexit and then, BOOM, Coronavirus lands and the rest of our year is turned upside down, shaken, then plonked back down looking bewildered, exasperated and a little afraid.  I’m sure you know the feeling. 

We know that what is to come will be tough, for us all in a variety of ways, each of us will experience uncertainty, loss and fear in one way or another.  We realised we are in a very privileged position and feel deeply for those who are suffering globally from health issues, themselves or within families, friends and communities.  The poorest in the world are the first and worst to suffer.  Also, those who have pressing financial worries and are trying to run businesses and have uncertain work futures.  We especially feel and offer fortitude and support to healthcare and charity workers, as well as other essential, frontline workers. Keeping the systems going that support our societies and our most vulnerable.  We hope you are well protected, healthy and rewarded for your bravery and incredible efforts.   

 

Compassion, community and kindness will get us through.  

 

Support local 

Big shout to our local organic farm superheroes, Tyddyn Teg, who will be supplying ourselves and the local community with organic veg throughout the year. Re-focusing on local produce and small businesses, growing our own food, simplifying and living a more sustainable life is more relevant now than ever.  If you have the means, distributing and investing money locally and to small businesses is so important. 

 

We are well!

Jane and I are well.

I am sure many of you are being creative and flexible in the way you’re looking at the future. How can we adapt, stay safe and earn a living in these times?  We shall see, but good energy and positivity will go a long way.  

It would be awesome to communicate and we invite you to be part of our positive on-line communities:

Our Faceboook vegan cooking group is here

Let’s eat well!  Share good vibes and tasty treats!  Develop grounding rituals and healthy habits. We hope the BHK is somewhere you can escape to for a while, topping up on happiness and inspiring recipes.   

Looking out towards Ireland, across the Irish Sea. I love this rock formation, it looks like an ancient settlement (with a view!) and makes me feel connected to the land and my impermanence in this majestic landscape

Take good care

At this time, we feel it’s essential that we focus on self-care.  Understanding how we can find balance, peace and good health in our lives.  We ever wish to take you on that journey in a holistic way, feeling that good health isn’t just good eating, but good movement, good breath, good mentality, good connections with nature and others, good vibes from the heart and lots of love and positive energy.  

Self-care beginning with the heart, opening up to love.  We feel that having clarity and peace of mind will help us make good decisions, for us and those around us.  

The world may seem to be spinning out of control but nature tells us otherwise.  Beautiful weather and the sights and smells of early Spring are in the air.  

Good health does not need to be complicated, and even with extended self-isolation and uncertainty, we can still find peace.  Good health does not need to cost anything, we have our mind and bodies, these are the only tools necessary to unlock vitality and wellness.  With regular practice, discipline and good intentions, the techniques below can transform our lives! 

We can exercise well in a small space.  Check out our friends Complete Unity Yoga and their guide to starting a yoga practice at home:

Find Peace and Calm – Yoga at home

We also love these yoga sequences

Also, here are some relaxing and empowering breathing techniques with that dude, Mr Wim. Boost your immune system and find peace:

Life Changing Breathing techniques

Meditation is an excellent practice to calm the mind and boost the immune system.  Jane’s favourite is Tara Brach:

Meditation practice 

Breathe in, smile.  A beautiful meditation here

Fermentation is a delicious way of preparing and preserving food, as well as boosting our health and immune system in general.  We have fermenting recipes here and our favourite fermentation website is Nourished by Nature:

Fermenting Foods – Immune system support and health

You’ll find most of our recipes, except the most recent, right here.  Plenty to choose from:

Simple, healthy vegan recipes from the BHK

We can also put you in touch with excellent therapists and healers; herbal, homeopathic, nutritionists and much more.

 

Our plan

We don’t have one!  Things are changing too quickly at the minute.  We’re getting prepared and trying to be as proactive as we can.  Staying at home and educating ourselves about the situation at hand.  We’ll be regularly turning our thoughts inwards and reflecting, adapting, finding balance, allowing creativity to flow and embracing what we have and the opportunities presented.  Staying alert and aware, asking questions.  Taking regular breaks from phones, social media, news and the like.  Going outside, spending time in nature.       

We’re focusing, as I’m sure you are, on our local situation, supporting family, friends and the local community.  What we can control, we try our best in, what we cannot, we are aware of, but let go.    

 

So, how are you feeling? 

Can we help and support you at this time? 

What kind of foodie things would you like to see us doing? 

 

So much beauty, even in the smallest parts and details of nature.

 

We light a candle for peace after sunset each evening and you’ll all be in our thoughts and prayers.  This BHK community means a lot to us and you’ve all contributed in making our lives a brighter and more fulfilling place to be.  Thank you.  

Wishing you all good health, safety and fortitude!

 

Another storm is here, but they always pass. 

 

Peace and Love,  

Lee and JaneX          

 

We’ve a decent stash of foraged logs. When we get around to chainsawing, we’re looking forward to a summer filled with fires under the stars.

 

Join our MAILING LIST here for exclusive recipes and BHK news 

 

Email us now – hellobeachhousekitchen@gmail.com

 

 

 

Categories: healthy, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Sustainability, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Cherry, Pistachio and Cacao Smoothie – Plus Smoothie Jedi Tip

Cherry, Pistachio and Cacao Smoothie

I’m gonna smoothie all the way through Autumn! Winter too! The flavours of chocolate and cherry were made for each other. This one’s got that black forest vibe to it, really simple to make and something a little different in your breakfast bowl.

Start the day with something beautiful, something that inspires your tastebuds, something that gives your body a nice healthy hug.

Today we find ourselves halfway up a mountain (where we live) eclipsed by grey mist, grey skies, with the slate grey ocean raging beneath us.  So, I popped out in a window of sun rays to get this shot of breakfast.  I don’t have anything against the colour grey, I have a grey sweatshirt, but in the foodie sphere, I can’t think of a decent grey food.  Nature did not want us eating grey it seems!

Colours!  Vibrancy!  That’s where were are on this hillside.  BHK bowls packed with things to make you purr.  In fact, we had a grey cat named Buster once (some of you will remember that legend).  He was the greatest dash of grey in this old world I tell you.  I miss him.

Smoothies are one way of fixing yourself up for superb things!  There is no way that a smoothie can be anything but awesome.  Vegan, gluten and sugar free, loaded up with everything the body needs, we even add coconut yoghurt here for a probiotic, gut-friendly, boost.  What is not to LOVE!

If this tickles your fancy, let us know below and let’s talk smoothie and vibrant things, beauty bowls, happy days.

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**Smoothie Jedi Tip**

Start slow, then build it up.  Start blending your smoothie on low and gradually build it up to full steam ahead.  This helps to incorporate all the lumps and chunks and means less scraping and shaking to get it blended properly.  A Jedi fact.

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Recipe Notes

We buy frozen cherries from the supermarkets.  Buying frozen fruits is a great way of preparing for a smoothie-fest.  It also works out cheaper and many of the fruits are frozen ripe, meaning good flavour and a higher nutritional profile.

Go wild with toppings!  We sometimes sprinkle other nuts, muesli/ granola, funky green healthy powders (spirulina, wheatgrass etc), dried berries like raspberry and strawberry are a knockout too!  Occasionally, I rock a drizzle of nut butter or tahini.

 

I’m on Instagram.  Yes, it’s taken me a while…..remember, I’m a mountain dweller, some would say a bit of a caveman in some ways.  But, I’m over there now and sharing my little heart out.  Come and join me, click here!  

 

Beauty bowl! Cherry, Pistachio and Cacao Smoothie – Sugar-free, vegan, gluten-free

 

Cherry, Pistachio and Cacao Smoothie

The Bits – For 2

2 handfuls frozen cherries

1 handful frozen banana

2 tbs vegan coconut yoghurt (cultured preferably)

2 tbs cacao or cocoa powder

Plant Milk (of choice, we used hemp milk)

 

Toppings

Chopped pistachios, goji berries, extra frozen cherries

 

Do It

In a large smoothie cup or blender (we use a Ninja), add all the ingredients and half fill with plant-milk.  Blitz on a low setting first, turning it up to high.  Jedi style!

Give it a shake or a scrape down if it’s not blending straight away.

Pour into a bowl, sprinkled with your toppings.

 

Serving suggestions – Sit somewhere sunny and quiet, take a moment, breathe deep (x5 times), enjoy the peace, grab that spoon…..:) 

 

Foodie Fact 

Cherries are wickedly high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients!  Loaded up with vitamin C and fibre, they’re an ideal winter wonder food.  They can also be awesome for our heart and even help us get a restful sleep.

Cherries.  Yes!  More please.

See, grey can be beautiful!!  Here’s a view from the top of our hill/ mountain. I love this spot!  

 

Categories: Breakfast, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Smoothies, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Pickled Rhubarb and Ginger plus The Joys of Spring!

Rhubarb, fresh of the land, organically grown

Here’s a really quick and easy way to pickle rhubarb.  I’ve added some ginger, which gives even more intense and beautiful flavour to this pickle.  The method could not be much easier, and it’s a great technique for preserving delicious produce, enough to enliven any meal!

Rhubarb makes a great pickle, maybe you haven’t tried it?  I find it goes well with Middle Eastern salads, anything with a bit of spice.  I also like it with Japanese style salads. It has a real sweet and sour twang!

When this lovely bunch of rhubarb landed in the kitchen we wondered what to do with it?  How to make it shine!  No crumbles here.  I shouted “Pickle!”   Jane shouted “Ginger!”  And it was as easy as that really.

Nantlle Lake looking stunning in Spring (you can just about see Snowdon from here)

 

It has been a stunning week, Spring has been in full swing (and then it snowed/ hailed for a couple of days!)  A Snowdonian Spring!  It has been still and sunny, and this extra sunlight and warmth has meant some surprises in the poly tunnels.

We’ve had some beautiful and colourful, organically grown, produce coming off the land this week at Trigonos.  Owain (our resident Horticulturalist and Organic Superhero) has been appearing in the kitchen with arm loads of all kinds of goodies.

 

Not sure what you call this one? Golden Chard?  I’ll have to ask Owain

 

Most of these are seeds from last year, that have decided to make an appearance in the poly tunnels; ruby chard, swiss chard, purple rocket and some radiant rhubarb!!

 

You know I love this one. Curly Kale.

 

Along with a host of herbs and a scattering of salad leaves, and of course outside, the wild garlic is doing it’s thing.

 

Ruby Chard, love the vibrant colour!

 

I always feel like the luckiest cook alive to have access to this kind of produce.  Especially at this time of year.

 

Purple rocket. The flavour here is amazing! Very peppery and fruity even.

 

Produce picked in the morning and by lunchtime is being served (or pickled).  I love it!

 

Recipe Note

Only use the pink rhubarb stalks, never the leaves.

Any excess pickling liquor can be used in dressings or to marinade tofu, for example.

 

Quick Rhubarb and Ginger Pickle

 

Quick Rhubarb and Ginger Pickle

 

The Bits – Makes 2 jars

500g rhubarb (finely sliced)

300ml apple cider vinegar

300ml water

4 tbs sugar

8 slices fresh ginger

2 bay leaves

 

Do It

You’ll need two sterilised glass jars with lids.

Gently pack the sliced rhubarb into your jars.  So it’s snug, with a little room left at the top.

Place the vinegar, water, bay leaves, ginger and sugar into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Pour this mixture over the rhubarb making sure all is well covered.   I add the bay leaves and ginger to the jars also.  Leave to cool.

Enjoy! I’d keep this pickle for a week.

Foodie Fact

Rhubarb is packed full of minerals and vitamins. It’s a source of vitamin C, protein, calcium, fibre and beta-carotene.  Plus a whole lot more.  Much more than just a crumble!

 

Categories: Cooking Holidays, Cooking Workshops, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Spring, Vegan, Wales | Tags: | 8 Comments

Apple Crumble Cookies – Gluten-free, Vegan

Apple Crumble Cookies – Gluten-free, Vegan.  Yes please!

If you’re a fan of apple crumble, you’ll love these!  The cookie version.

I wanted to combine the best things about an apple crumble into a cookie, just to change things up a bit.  That lovely crunchy crumble and the sweet tartness of the apple sauce.

These cookies are crisp on the outside and very apple-y inside, with that lovely warming cinnamon and plenty of oats.  They’re even gluten-free, but you can make them with wholemeal flour and normal oats.  I’d just like to invite as many people as possible to the good food party!

These cookies are sweet!  But balanced with the tartness of a green apple, I’ve used russet style apples from our neighbours garden, donated, not scrumped (see all our scrumping talk on our last post).  I think an apple with good acidity and a bit of bite is what we’re looking for here.

The best things about a crumble, wrapped up in a cookie!

Please don’t worry about us, we’re still eating plenty of Apple Crumbles this autumn.  Jane loves ’em too much!  But these cookies were a big hit with everyone who’s tried one, even our neighbour Meirion, a man who dearly loves a good crumble, is a fan of the cookie variety.  That’s when I knew this was a winner, they got the nod from our Meirion.

We’re just fixing our fire at the minute, autumn is giving us those signals, nice and crisp at mornings and at night.  The occasional dramatic storm.  I do love sunshine, but I admit that a roaring fire on a cold night is very tempting.  Just need to get a big pipe and stick it onto the back of the fire.  Some of you know all about my DIY skills, so I’ll probably get the fire man in.  I’m better off with the pots and pans!

The North Wales coastline is stunning in Autumn, awesome sunsets

Another bonus of autumn is all the produce, I’m just blown away at the minute.  I just got the list through from our local organic farm and it knocked my socks off.  As a cook, I almost don’t know where to begin with it all.  I feel very lucky to have such problems!! 

I’m back cooking at Trigonos this week and I love to create new recipes like this.  There are many gluten-free visitors who need catering for, the Trigonos cooks come up with all kinds of gluten, sugar, oil, nightshade, salt etcetc free dishes.  I’ve always found it a great challenge, but having dishes which are gluten-free and vegan is a sound start to planning a menu.  These cookies can be enjoyed by loads of people!  Maybe you’re gluten-free, but I bet you know someone who is.  The mystery of gluten-free baking is disappearing as more and more people experiment with new ways of making cookies, cakes, scones and tray bakes.

Chop those apples nice and small

Chopping your apples up nice and small is one of the keys to success with these cookies.  Of course, take all the pips and core out, but I leave the skin on.  These apples had nice, thin skins and I reckon there’s some nice flavour there when baked.  You can see the apples turn a lovely golden brown in the oven, something like apple crisps.  They’re good these cookies!

These kind of cookies are going to make this autumn very sweet!  Hope you get to try one soon.

 

Recipe Notes

You can use flax seeds instead of chia seeds.  Pop the seeds into a blender and blitz until a fine powder is formed.  Then mix that with water until a gelatinous mix forms.  It only takes 5 minutes or so to get nice and thick, ready to bind our cookies together.  Ground flax and chia are ideal egg replacers in vegan baking.

You can also use light brown sugar in these cookies, although I prefer the texture using the golden caster sugar.

I used a Dove Farm white gluten-free flour mix here.  It works really nicely.  Gluten-free oats are available in most supermarkets.

I use cold pressed rapeseed oil here, but you can use most, neutral flavoured oils.  I prefer cold pressed oils.

For non-gluten-free cookies – Wholewheat flour and normal oats will work nicely here too.

Missing cookies? Has anyone seen these cookies. 15 minutes after leaving the oven, they were never seen again. Another batch coming soon:)

 

Apple Crumble Cookies – Gluten-free, Vegan

 

The Bits – For 10-11 small cookies

Dry

125g gluten-free oats

100g gluten-free flour mix

1 ½ tsp g.f. baking powder

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

⅛ teas salt

 

Wet

100ml cold pressed rapeseed oil

3 teas ground chia seeds (mixed with 7 teas cold water)

1 teas vanilla extract

125g golden caster sugar

 

175g or 2 small green apples (cored and finely diced)

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 180oC.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  In another mixing bowl, mix together the sugar and the wet ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Don’t over do the stirring.  Fold in the apples.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment, form roughly two heaped tablespoons worth of cookie dough and apple in your hands, roll into balls.  Press the pieces of apple into the cookie ball as you go. The apple keeps the cookies nice and moist.  Press this ball down gently onto the baking tray, forming a rotund disc shape.  Continue until the mix is used up.

Bake for 17 – 20 mins on a middle shelf, until the apples are golden brown and the cookies form a nice crust.  Leave to cool for 20 minutes on the tray before enjoying.  Remember that the cookies will firm up as they cool, don’t worry if they are a little soft to the touch.

We had ours warm, dipped into vegan creme fraiche.  Yes!  It was very good.

Just before they hit the oven – Apple Crumble Cookies  This was an early attempt, these apple chunks are a wee bit too big.  Go for very small pieces. 

Foodie Fact

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.  Why?  Because my Nana told me that, what more proof do we need?!

Apples are a good source of fibre and vitamin C, plus potassium, which is good for the heart.

Categories: Autumn, Baking, gluten-free, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

Bilberry and Spelt Scones – Vegan

Bilberry and Spelt Scones – Vegan

Autumn is settling in nicely and it’s definitely time for a scone.  Fresh out of the oven.  You know what I’m talking about there.  Plenty of jam and whipped cream.  Yum!!

We went for a long walk yesterday and it really felt like a touch of winter was in the air, the trees are changing; all those bronze, crimson and golden colours are coming.  It’s such a beautiful time of year up here in Snowdonia.

I made these scones using local bilberries, you can use blueberries, mulberries or blackberries here, if you’re not close to bilberry bushes.  These berries were picked somewhere up a mountain, near a beautiful lake, in the Welsh mist.  My kind of ingredient!

I’ve made the recipes as easy as possible, these scones are served in slices which means very straightforward preparation.  They’re a wholesome style, not your light and fluffy sort, but delicious and satisfying.  They’re also low in sugar, are packed with berries and contain local cold pressed rape seed oil. I know cakes aren’t supposed to be healthy, but I like to try!

 

Autumn = Scone time

Every autumn I like at least one new scone recipe.  Last year we made Coconut Scones, which are a real treat.  I even got invited onto BBC Radio Wales to talk about them.  That’s how good they are!!  Totally different scone style to these.

Really, this is our Beach House version of a Mabon cake, aka the autumn equinox, we’ll talk more about that on our upcoming newsletter coming out this week.  Sign up here (takes a few seconds)

 

Spelt – A Love Affair

Readers of the blog will know my love for spelt flour, we’ve had a long romance through the years.  If I can, I’ll find a way to add spelt or other flours like rye, to my baking adventures.  I just love the flavour and texture.  I like that some of my friends who struggle with gluten can even enjoy spelt.

I have a similar love affair with cold pressed rapeseed oil.  One of my favourite things about the last few years of living and cooking in Wales and the UK.  Just a brilliant ingredient on every level, local, healthy, tasty and inexpensive.  I buy rapeseed oil from small producers whenever I can.  Because small producers are ace!  I also wanted to avoid vegan butter/ margarine type things in this recipe.  Not a huge fan of it.

Bilberry and Spelt Scones – so simple to make

Bilberries – A taste explosion!

Are a real taste explosions!  Much more intense and flavourful than their bigger and more watery relatives the blueberry.  Have a look around for a local bilberry bush, they grow all over the UK and are ripe for the picking.  You’ll probably find them in wilder places like moors though.  Keep your eyes peeled.  They tend to grow together in big clumps.  They’re not normally city dwellers.

Other berries will be great in these scones too.  Maybe blackberries are more local for you?  Either way, foraging for these berries is loads of fun and free.  Or you can do what we did, get a friend to pick them for you!!

 

What to serve vegan scones with?

So whipped cream and butter are long gone.  Great!!  You’ll find some excellent vegan creme fraiche in the shops nowadays, this is awesome with scones.  Blended up cashew nuts is also a great idea.  Just soak some cashews until soft, then blend, adding a little water to get your desired consistency and sweeten with whatever you like.  Just a touch of sweetness will do.  Whipped coconut cream is another great, treat option.  These all add delicious, and much welcomed, creaminess when tackling a scone.  Jam?  Grab your finest jar.  Jane’s Mum’s Strawberry 2017 is a fine vintage indeed.

Bilberry and Spelt Scones – Full of flavours and ingredients from Wales, with local berries and rapeseed oil

Let us know if you makes these scones in the comments below.  If you like the look of this recipe, you’ll find more here.

 

Recipe Notes

When making scones, try not to over mix.  Just enough until things are combined.

Do your best to not pop the berries when you’re combining with the mix.  A few popped ones are fine, you can see I popped a few and they give the scones a cool purple look!

You can buy white spelt flour, but I’ve used the organic brown version here.

All flours are different when you’re baking, the amount of liquid can vary depending on many factors.  4 tbs plant milk is a guide here, we’re looking for quite a dry scone mix.  Just enough liquid to keep it all together.

No spelt flour, no probs.  Use a good quality wholemeal flour instead.

The same goes for rapeseed oil, you can use any cold pressed oil (sooooo much better than refined oils).  I’ve been loving cold pressed sunflower oil of late.

Perfect autumn tea time treat!  Served with Jane’s Mum’s Strawberry Jam

Bilberry and Spelt Scones

The Bits – For 8 slices of scones

Dry 

250g spelt flour

2 teas baking powder

60g light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Wet

80g rapeseed oil (cold pressed)

60ml (4 tbs) plant milk

 

1 big handful (75g) bilberries or blueberries

 

For brushing

A dash of plant milk and rapeseed oil

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 180oC.

 

Place all the dry bits into a mixing bowl, and mix together.  Add the wet and stir to combine.  Mix into the bilberries, being as careful as you can not to pop them.

 

Line a baking tray with parchment.  Form the mix into a disc shape, roughly 3/4 inch thick.  Mix together a dash of plant milk and rapeseed oil in a small bowl, brush your scone with this mix.

 

Bake on a middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes, the scone will have a nice golden crust around the edges.  Ideally, leave to cool on the tray for 20 minutes before enjoying!

 

Serve topped with whipped coconut cream and your favourite jam or more berries

 

Foodie Fact

Spelt is said to have been cultivated since 5000 BC!  It is a member of the wheat family and is a great source of energy, the Romans called it ‘marching grass’.  It is high in minerals like magnesium, copper and iron and also boasts a load of thiamin, protein and fibre.

 

Categories: Autumn, Baking, Cakes, healthy, Nutrition, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Drunken Cherries – Autumnal Livener!

Drunken Cherries

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

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

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

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

Beautiful Snowdonia – October is a spectacular month over here

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

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

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

Macerating cherries brings out some surprising flavours

Recipe Notes

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

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

———————————

Drunken Cherries

 

The Bits – Makes enough for one medium kilner jar

700g cherries (pitted and cut in half)

½ bottle brandy

2 handfuls sugar (to taste)

 

Do It

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

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

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

Hiking in Snowdonia near Moel Siabod
Categories: Autumn, Desserts, gluten-free, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Baingan Bharta (Minced Aubergine Curry)

Baingan Bharta (Minced Aubergine Curry) Baingan Bharta (Minced Aubergine Curry)

This curry is perfect for a Saturday curry festival.  I love BB, its surely one of my favourite Indian dishes and is always a delight.  This is one of those recipes that I will surely be cooking for the rest of my days.  When we look at Indian recipes, they can look a bit long, but most of the ingredients are spices and when you break it down, this is a very straightforward recipe and packed with gorgeous smoky flavours.

Baingan Bharta is eaten all over India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.  Its like an Indian version of Babaganoush (or is Babaganoush a Mediterranean version of BB?).  There are many variations, they use plenty of mustard oil in West Bengal of course and it is eaten in many parts of the sub-continent at weddings.  Brinjals (Aubergine) in India normally come in quite a small size, but its alot easier and convenient in Europe to use the larger varieties of aubs for this dish, more delightful aubergine flesh and less skin to deal with.  You can imagine that traditionally, a warm flatbread is the best accompaniment to this dish.

IS IT A DIP?

Some would call BB a dip, but I cannot get to grips with the word dip.  Especially for something so majestically tasty as BB or Babaganoush.  I always think of a supermarket bought ’90’s style dip medley’ (those four shades of dodgy dips that come in plastic trays) and these dishes are light years away from that kind of fare.  BB has serious heritage and is a feast in puree form.

Because aubergine breaks down so much when cooked, this seems like one (only one I may add) of the finest ways of treating an aubergine.  In Turkey they do amazing things to aubergines and its known as the ‘Sultan’ of vegetables.  In Wales we’ll call it the ‘Tribe Leader’ of vegetables!  I made a version of Babaganoush a couple of days ago and will post it somewhere soon.  You can never have too much aubergine on one blog!  Impossible!!

COOKING TIPS

I like to caramelise the aubergine in the pan, making it stick to the bottom a little.  A crust will form, this is fine and adds to the richness and depth to the sauce.  Just make sure that it doesn’t burn too much!  As with so many recipes, the pan scrapings are the best bits for making sauces/ gravy, basically concentrated flavours.

Traditionally Baingan Bharta is made a little like Babaganoush in that the aubergines are cooked over open flames.  Unfortunately, in the Beach House Kitchen we have an electric hob.  No open flames, so this technique is a decent option and more straightforward.  It also means that you get the benefits of all the goodness found in aubergine skins.

If you are getting a BBQ going this summer, I cannot recommend smoking a load of aubergines highly enough.  The flavour is wonderful and you can always freeze any excess aubs.  This gives you the base ingredient to make either of these delicious vegan dishes.  I mentioned on twitter recently that there is nothing as decadent as a well roasted aubergine and a few of you commented that you can probably think of a few things slightly more decadent.  This is probably true!  But aubergines to me are a sensational veg, especially for a vegan.  They have so many qualities, a wonderful vegetal creaminess and when mixed with something rich like olive oil or tahini, for example, I’ve got one foot in Nirvana.

G.M. CROPS IN INDIA

Genetically Modified (G.M.) crops are becoming a huge problem in India as large multi-national agriculture businesses, with a myriad affiliates and branches, try to introduce GM crops to India.  There are many people fighting against this unnatural invasion, one of the main spokesperson in Vandana Shiva.  In 2011 to protest against the introduction of GM Brinjal (Aubergine) into India, the Meridien Hotel and Greenpeace volunteers in Delhi cooked a world record 342 kilograms of organic aubergine and presented a portion of the dish to the president at the time, Manmohan Singh.  A very tasty protest!

A RADIANT DAY ON THE HILL

Its a lovely day up here on Tiger Hill and Jane is facilitating a Feminine Workshop, so I am home alone.  Jane has been working really hard on her new website this week, Womans Wheel.  It looks beautiful!  I’m off for a walk up ‘Myndd Mawr‘ (Big Mountain, also called Elephant mountain because it looks like a massive sleeping Elephant or ‘Yr Eliffat’) and will then plant Percy, our new Snowdon Pear Tree in the garden.  We’ve picked a nice sunny spot for him.  I’m also making tofu today and am seeking a nice firm tofu texture.  I’m going for a different salt to coagulate the beans and hopefully this will help.  Homemade tofu is really easy and cost effective, I’ll post the recipe soon.  Anyone got any top tips for homemade tofu?

Jane at the base of Snowdon with Mynydd Mawr in the background Jane at the base of Snowdon with Mynydd Mawr in the background

JO POTT SUPPER CLUB

We had a delicious meal at Jo Pott’s last night.  Each month Jo puts on a fantastic five course menu, served in a very cosy and stylish attic space above her cafe in the Kiffin area of Bangor.  Last night, the theme was South Asia and we enjoyed all kinds of traditional delicacies with a twist.  I loved the Aduki, rice and ginger balls and I think Jane was quite taken with the Watermelon and Vodka crush (which I ate half of because Jane was driving).  The Lentil Cakes in Citrus Broth was also really interesting.  Jo’s food is always creative and looks beautiful.  Jo does this every month and the fact that Jane and I could sit down to a 5 course vegan meal in a beautiful space was a real treat.  Nice one Jo!

 

The Bits  – For 2

2 large aubergines (cut into chunky batons)

3 medium tomatoes (roughly diced)

4 cloves garlic

3 cm ginger (finely chopped)

1 medium onion (finely sliced)

Spices

1 teas mustard seeds

2 teas ground cumin seeds (1 teas ground)

3 teas coriander seeds (1 ½ teas ground)

1 teas turmeric

1 teas sweet paprika

1 chilli (finely diced or 1/3 teas chilli powder)

1/2 teas asafoetida

 

1 -2 teas sea salt

3 tbs oil

125ml water

 

Garnish

Fresh coriander (or sprouted lentils as we used)

 

Do It

On a medium heat, add your coriander seeds to a pan, toast for two minutes and then add your cumin seeds and toast for one more minute, until fragrant and slightly brown.  Bash up well in pestle and mortar.  Use ground spices if you’re in a hurry.

In the same pan, add 2 tbs of cooking oil on a medium high heat and fry the aubergines.  Stir/ toss them regularly and add 1 teas salt.  Cook for 12-15 minutes, until nicely soft and well caramelised.  They will stick to the bottom a bit, but this is perfect.  That crust equals deep flavour.  Set the aubs aside and cover with a plate.

Now put the pan back on the heat and add your tomatoes to the remaining oil on a high heat, stir them well and try to scrape up the aubergine crust to combine with the tomatoes. Fry for around 5 minutes.  Set aside and cover.

Wipe out the pan and add 1 tbs of oil and on a medium heat, fry your mustard seeds for 30 seconds, they will pop a little, then add your onions and lower heat slightly.  Cook the onions until they are becoming golden, 8 minutes, then add your garlic, chilli and ginger, cook for three minutes, then your spices hit the pan, stir them well, not allowing the spices to stick to the bottom, add 1 tbs of water if this happens.  Saute for two minutes and then add your tomatoes, aubergine and 125 ml water and cover cook on a fast simmer for 5 minutes.  Add salt to taste.

Baingan Bharta Baingan Bharta

Serve

We love it with fresh, homemade super simple chapattis (recipe here).  They are really easy once you get into a flow.  We also love Baingan Bharta with pulao and pickles, or with daal, why not go the whole shebang and get a Indian feast together, Beetroot Raita and all.  It is Saturday night almost after all!

One of our new neighbours - Trev One of our new neighbours – Not sure what to call him yet?  Trev?!  

Foodie Fact

Aubergine is just one of those veggies that has it all, good lucks, charisma, tastiness, and dashing nutritional properties.  I love all veggies and when I learn about their nutritional benefits to body and mind, I get even more excited.

Aubergine has loads of dietary fibre, which is amazing for the digestive system and is one of the most important factors in detoxifying our body.  Vitamins are important, fibre equally so.

Aub is a nightshade, like tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.  Called ‘eggplant’ in many parts of the world, I think the coolest type of aubergine is surely the ‘graffiti’ aubergine, with its purple, speckled skin.

Aubergine is a good source of B1 and B6, potassium, copper and magnesium.

Categories: Curries, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels (Ta’amia) with Cucumber and Lemon Yoghurt

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels (Ta’amia)

Falafels are a simple ‘go to’ in any kitchen, the addition of fava beans changes things up a bit.  Chickpeas are awesome, but fava beans are at least an equal.  They also happen to be indigenous to the UK.

Anyone can eat falafels (almost), no matter what the food allergy or persuasion (carnivore or otherwise) EVERYONE loves a well crafted falafel with lashing of creamy yoghurt and preferably a warm wrap somewhere on the scene.  They are almost always gluten free, dairy free, almost saturated fat free (depending on the oil  usage) but packed with the flavours and textures that we adore.

The idea for Egyptian falafels made with fava beans came from one of my old bosses in London, Henry Dimbleby, and his ever tasty Guardian column.  I used to work with Henry at Leon Restaurants and had a ball down there in the big smoke making healthy food for happy people.  His article claims ‘the worlds best falafel recipe comes from Egypt’, something I whole heartedly agree with.  I had some magical falafels over there in Cairo and surround, having said that, I am yet to visit Lebanon or Israel.  There seems to be alot of competition in the falafel/ hummus stakes in this whole region.  I have heard many a heated debate between various nations over bragging rights to the worlds finest chickpea creations.

Henry’s article is a quest to find the perfect falafel recipe and shows a great deal of passion for the subject.  I remember Leon’s sweet potato falafels bringing about a u-turn in my falafel habits and opinion.  I had once thought them late night, bland and stodgy, kebab shop fodder.  I came to realise that a day without a Leon sweet potato falafel, was a day wasted!

The great British outdoors - Up a Welsh hill, Snowdonia The great British outdoors – Up a Welsh hill, Snowdonia

FAVA BEANS – AS BRITISH AS A BEAN CAN BE

Really, they are.  Fava beans have been growing in the UK since the iron age and would have probably been made into bread back then.  Something I’d be interested to try out.  They are Britain’s original bean.  Its strange how these things just come up, but I was in our local shop and saw a new brand Hodmedod’s, I liked the look of them and noticed they were selling Black Badger Peas.  Intriguing stuff.  I bought some and loved their full flavour (like a big pigeon pea, normally used in Caribbean cooking).  British peas and beans.  How marvelous is that!  I then noticed that they do split and whole fava beans and this recipe had to be made.

Split fava beans are perfect in in stews, dips, curries and can easily be made into a very flavourful daal.  They are like lentils in many ways, they don’t need soaking which is perfect if you’re in a wee rush.   Hodmedod’s have got some creative, global recipes on their site HERE.

Henry’s original recipe is brilliant and very easy to make.  I, of course, had a little play and added a few tantalising twist and tasty turns.  I’ve also toned down the oil usage to make them even shinier and healthy.  Hodmedod’s have a really nice looking Egyptian Falafel recipe HERE.

Plenty of variations to try, but I think falafels are so easy and delicious, once you’ve made one batch, you’ll be hooked and want to try them all!

The falafels may seem a little crumbly when yo handle them, but they firm up in the fridge and pan.  The ground coriander and gram flour help with this.  Just “try a little tendernessssssssssss……”

The Bits – For 12 falafels

250g fava beans (soaked overnight, or at least 6 hours, in loads of water)

2 tbs olive oil

1 onion (finely diced)

1 carrot (grated)

1 ½ teas cumin seeds

2 ½ teas ground coriander

1 teas turmeric

1 teas dried mint

½ teas bicarb soda

2 tbs gram (chickpea) flour

1 big handful fresh coriander (soft stems and all – finely diced)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

 

Coating

2-3 tbs sesame seeds

Extra oil for frying

 

Cucumber Yoghurt Sauce

6 tbs soya yoghurt

1/2 medium cucumber (grated)

½ lemon (zest)

1 tbs lemon juice

Pinch of sea salt

½ handful fresh mint leaves (finely sliced)

The carrot mix with all those gorgeous, spicy aromas.... The carrot mix with all those gorgeous, spicy aromas….

Do It

In a large frying pan, on a medium heat, add the oil and warm, followed by the cumin seeds.  Allow them to fry for 30 seconds and then add the onions and carrot.   Stir and cook for 6-7 minutes, until they are soft and just getting caramelised.  Add the ground coriander (not fresh) and turmeric to the pan, stir in and warm it all through for a minute.  Take off the heat and leave to settle and cool a little.

Once cooled, add the carrot mix and the rest of the falafel ingredients to a food processor/ blender and blitz until almost smooth, but still ‘grainy’ and coarse.  This will take a few goes, you will need to scrape down the side of your blender with a spatula.

Scatter the sesame seeds onto one plate and have another clean plate ready.  Using your hands, make small, golf ball sized globes of falafel.  Press them gently down into the sesame seeds, flip them over and get a decent coating.  Pop the finished falafel on your clean plate and continue.  Once the mix is finished, cover the falafels and place them in a fridge for an hour or more.

Mix all the yoghurt ingredients together in a nice bowl.  Check seasoning.  Jane loves lemon, so we are liberal with citrus.

Preheat an oven on a low heat (160oC) and line a baking tray with parchment and pop it in to warm.

Clean out your pan and warm on medium heat, then add roughly 1 tbs of olive oil.  In a large frying pan, you should be able to fit 5-6 falafels comfortably.  Don’t over fill or it becomes fiddly.  Fry the falafels for 2-3 minutes each side.  Using a flat spatula, loosen the falafels a little and flip them over.  They will firm up in the pan, but need be handled gently.  Place the falafels onto the warm baking tray and keep warm in the oven.  Once the batches are finished, leave the falafels in the oven to warm through for 5 minutes.  Moderate the amount of oil in your pan, you will need to add a bit more as the falafels love soaking it up.

Playing the Preserved Lemon waiting game (they take at least four weeks) Playing the Preserved Lemon waiting game (they take at least four weeks)

Serve

We made some Peanut and Lime Hummus (recipe coming very soon) and a big salad to accompany these lovelies.  A warm flat bread would also be nice.  We would serve this with some of our Preserved Lemons, but they need another week.

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels with Cucumber and Lemon Yoghurt (vegan and gluten free) Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels with Cucumber and Lemon Yoghurt (vegan and gluten free)

Foodie Fact

Fava beans are used all over the world in dishes, especially in the countries around the Med.  For some reason, they are not so popular in Britain, but I think that is going to change.  Fava beans are more British than baked beans!!!

When legumes grow, they actually enrich the soil with nitrogen, fixing it.  This means that they actually benefit the fertility of the soil as opposed to drain it.  Legumes and pulses are incredible in that respect.

STOP THE PRESS – I’ve just read that Hodmedod’s are supplying British grown Quinoa.  HOORAH!  Quinoa is back on the Beach House menu.

(Just for the record, we only promote products we really like and will say if anyone has sent us freebies.  Hodmedod’s, we just love the whole ethos and have received no bean-based bribes to promote their brilliant pulses.  We want to support the good guys ’tis all!) 

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, photography, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Photos – Winter hits the B.H.K.

This week it has snowed a little on the grey island.  Sending the country into the yearly state of mayhem.  We went for a nice walk near Snowdon…

Jane beside Nantlle Lake

 

Icicles

On the Snowdon Trail

 

The Snowdon Horse Shoe

The Grass

Categories: photography, Wales | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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