Posts Tagged With: snowdonia

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!  

 

I will be serving this at some of our upcoming cooking events soon.  It’s just so good!

 

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!  A great place for cavemen to play….Nantlle, Snowdonia

 

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

Kombucha Time! Fermented foods in the Beach House Kitchen

Jane toasting you all with tonights Kombucha! Strawberry and Rose Spritz (with a tickled of mint and a twist lime)

It’s wild today in the Beach House, we sit at the top of a hill, overlooking the Irish Sea, we get some tasty weather!! We were in the garden last night, basically it’s a big chunk of mountain, taming it and wrestling with brambles mainly. Seeing how the newts and frogs were getting on in the pond. We also got a nice pile of windfall apples (bonus!) We got a thirst going…..kombucha time.

We’re taking the Vibrant Vegan! Challenge, no alcohol for a few weeks now. We’re feeling groovy! Kombucha is the perfect treat drink. It has that fermented quality, and sometimes even tastes a little alcoholic.

Jane loves making Kombucha and we’re trying out new flavour combos for our Vibrant Vegan! Snowdonia – Plant-based Cooking & Yoga Holiday using mainly strawberry, raspberry and blackberry as bases. This is Jane toasting you all with last nights winner!!
We are truly blessed to have the magnificent Janice, aka Nourished by Nature, joining us for the holiday and hosting a fermentation masterclass. All of your Kombucha questions answered and much, much more!  Lots of tastings, pro-biotic chocolate anyone!!  How’s about some coffee Kombucha?

Sometimes I can’t believe we live here!! So beautiful. This is the view from the stone circle behind the BHK. 

Living right beside Snowdonia national park, it’s basically behind our back garden, means our local walks are pretty special!  You can nearly see Mount Snowdon in the photo above, tucked behing Mynydd Mawr (The Elephant Mountain, my local stomp).  We even have a little stone circle in our garden, which for many years we thought was all ancient and druidic etc, until we met the former owners and they said it was built in the late ’90’s.  Hari hum.  Still a great place to sit and watch sunset over Anglesey.

Several different sauerkrauts on the go…

I take charge of the sourdough and sauerkraut’s.  We both love making feremented foods, I always enjoy an edible hobby.  Here we have a few different types of ‘kraut, notice the German made Sauerkraut barrel, Jane get’s me the best Xmas pressies.  We experiment with all kinds of flavours and use many different veggies, herbs, spices etc.  Once you have the basic technique, the world of veg is your fermentable friend.  I’m keeping these a little secret, because they are especially for Vibrant Vegan!  Apologies.  One of them is Nepalese, the other, proudly German. One is with fennel, dill and lemon.  I love that combo.

You can’t make a sauerkraut, without covering your kitchen with cabbage. Them’s the rules!

Sauerkraut and fermented foods in general are a real gift, for good health and incredible flavours.  Most of our favourite foods are fermented; cheeses, coffee, wine and beer, yoghurt…the list goes on.  Fermenting foods is an ancient little trick that all cultures in the world have practiced.  It means your food is preserved, but unlike pickling for example, fermented foods come to life!  Their flavours are enhanced and their nutritional properties go through the roof.  They are also easier to digest.  Fermenting foods is also fun, and like I said, it’s and addictive hobby.  Our scobies (alien like creatures that live in jars and make kombucha) or our sourdough starter (named ‘funk face’ due to it’s fruity odour) are members of the BHK family.

Yesterdays sunset sourdough was Seeded Wholegrain

We have a new heating system in the Beach House, it’s uber energy efficient and we’re chuffed and cosy.  One thing it’s made so much better is our sourdough.  It’s actually warm enough for it to do it’s thing!  Before we tried heat pads and leaving near the fire, anything we could think of, but a consistent ambient temperature is working wonders for our little Funk Face.

Our windfall apples, let the wind do the work!

We’re not long back to the Beach House, after walking around Portugal for a while this summer and working in Spain.  The garden is now only semi-forested and we can now get down to the fun bits, like picking apples.  I feel another Kombucha flavour coming on!

What’s your favourite Kombucha flavour and what are your scobies called?  Do you love sourdough and yes, what is your sourdough called?  They have to have names, that’s more than half the fun of it…..

Breakfast Superfood Ice Cream – Vegan, Gluten and Sugar free

We also make our own yoghurt.  Just using the cultures that are already in the shop bought yoghurts.  Just add milk and leave….  It adds a pro-biotic punch to our morning bowls.  We’re loving superfood ice creams at the minute.  Lots of colours, textures and big flavours, just what I need to get me going in the mornings.

Fermentation is simple, with a little experience, anyone can do it and you don’t need any special equipment or fancy ingredients (although, like I said, a scobie is technically an alien lifeform living in your house.  You can buy them online!)

Please share your fermented food tales below in the comments and show some fermented love!!

There is loads more BHK chat, recipes and vegan cooking over on our Facebook page, click here.  

 


Here’s a recipe from a few years ago, KIMCHI, one of our favourties.  

Also, a Beetroot, Apple and Caraway Sauerkraut from the Beach House recipe library……


 

Our fermentation gurus are Janice from Nourished By Nature.  A ray of sunshine, wealth of knowledge and fermentista extraordinaire.

Plus Sandor Katz, his book ‘Wild Fermentation’ changed the way we look at food, packed with recipes and a huge amount of tips and knowledge.

 

Best to contact us via email, send a letter or leave a comment below, no phone signal up here in the hills;)

 

Categories: Baking, Cooking Holidays, Fermentation, fermented foods, healthy, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Vibrant Vegan! Cooking – Organic soul food in stunning Snowdonia

Dream cooking – picking tomatoes for the pot and platter)

Picking my own ingredients freshly is a dream.

All grown to organic standards just beside the kitchen.  This is surely every cooks idea of paradise!  I felt like sharing a few pictures of what I’ve been harvesting of late.  Good food comes from the earth, from rich soils, the very best vegetables are always local, seasonal and organic.

Cooking at Trigonos is always pleasure.  You may not have visited Trigonos, or Snowdonia, and I know may of your are scattered all over the world.  I’d like to bring this area to life a little, some of you are joining us for our Vibrant Vegan! Snowdonia, Cooking Holiday.  We’ll be seeing you here soon.  Can’t wait!

A peaceful day by the lake, Trigonos

The Beach House Kitchen sits high in the hills in North Wales overlooking the Irish Sea, Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula.  The views and sunsets are stunning.  We are right beside Snowdonia National Park, a place of wild beauty, stunning mountains, lakes and valleys.  We can jump over our back wall and walk up a mountain!  We love the lifestyle and one of the highlights for me, being a cook, is the local produce.

Radiant Welsh cherry tomatoes…

Yellow ones too…

I cook regularly at Trigonos, a retreat and learning centre, set in the spectacular Nantlle Valley.  It’s a hidden gem, no one goes there (don’t tell anyone about it;)  These pictures say it all really!  Trigonos sits on a little shelf of flat, arable land, beside a small lake, surrounded by old forests and a disused slate quarry.  Looking up the valley, we can see the mighty Snowdon which rises like a rocky crown above the other mountains.  Trigonos has been described as “heaven on earth” by many people who visit us and I tend to agree.  It’s one of the most beautiful spots in the UK and I feel very lucky to be able to play with veggies in their kitchens!

Trigonos has it’s own vegetable farm, a large field and a series of polytunnels, our resident horticulturalist was away in Canada, so us chefs were picking our own for a while and I loved every minute.  I visit the polytunnels regularly to see how things are sprouting and blooming, but to actually get to pick my own was a rare privilege.  I’ve been fortunate to be in this situation before, even picking my own fruits and veggies for the pot in Tamil Nadu, and it’s one of my favourite things to do.  Hand selecting the ripest and most appealing produce, to then take to the kitchen to prepare.  It doesn’t get any better!

Basil grows perfectly with the tomatoes. It’s very happy here!

 

I think autumn is my favourite time at Trigonos, the trees are all changing to a warmer shades and the mountains begin to take on burnt bronze and crimson hues

 

The peppers are coming….

But this behemoth (below) may well be the pinnacle for me, the giant and outrageously orange Crown Prince Squash.  Veggie royalty for certain.  The sweetest and most flavourful of the entire squash/ pumpkin collective.  You can see they’re massive already, and will hopefully sweeten up in the next few weeks and we’ll be preparing dishes with them for Vibrant Vegan!  A simple soup made with these squashes, home-made stock and a little onion, is a thing of rare beauty.  With produce like this, simplicity is the key, enhancing their nature fragrance, textures and sweetness.

Giant Crown Prince Squashes lurking under the leaves…

In these times of abundance from the land, we try our best to preserve the mountains of tomatoes, basil, cucumbers and other produce.  My favourite method is fermenting them into a variety or saeurkrauts and kimchis, or just fermenting things like cherry tomatoes whole (they’re then called Tomato Bombs!)  We also make lots of roasted tomato sauce for the freezer, as well as frozen berries and apples for crumbles and pies later in the year.

Chutneys, jams and pickling are of course another way of preserving autumn’s abundance and we have members of the team who love nothing more than making wine from everything!  Oak leaves, no problem.  But elderberries, blackberries and rhubarb are more palatable I reckon!!

This time of year can be a busy time in the kitchen, there is a buzz in autumn, a feeling that I’m getting ready for a long winter.  The more little gifts I can preserve for those times, the better.  I think we have to put effort and care into things to feel the true benefit, food is no different.  Popping open some homemade tomato sauce on a drizzly Tuesday in February makes me very happy….

A passion for cooking is a life-long joy!

Not forgetting the intense Ruby Chard corner

We love visiting Spain and have just returned from walking the Camino Portugese, post coming soon.  Here are some of our Spanish holiday snaps, Vegan on the Road – Andalucia.  The tomatoes in this polytunnel would be worshipped in Spain!  Such is the reverence tomatoes have there.

The Beef Steak tomato below would be thinly sliced in a restaurant, drizzle with olive oil and a little sea salt and served as a starter or tapas, for a pretty penny too!  Tomatoes are selected at markets with incredible care and cooked with sensitivity to the differing flavours and textures of the tomato in the basket.  It’s this kind of ‘feel’ I try to bring to my cooking and my mind and senses are focused even more when cooking with hand-picked produce.  How can it not be?  There is so much subtlety to be aware of in the kitchen, every action has a consequence, good cooking requires a relaxed focus, it is mindfulness in action! 

Giant Beefsteak tomatoes, Ive no idea how the thin stems support these. Some seem to weigh 1kg!

A natural groove…

Growing your own vegetables, cooking and eating them, seems like a perfect cycle.  Something so natural, grounding and fulfilling.  The ultimate healthy relationship, the happiest of marriages, with our food.  Even if it’s just some pots of herbs on a window ledge, or a little tomato plant, some spuds in the garden or plums from the neighbours trees, this is food for the soul.  We all feel that I believe.  How many of our happy memories and meals as children revolved around such produce?  I know I have loads, veggies coming from my Grandad’s gardens or allotments, pick your own strawberries and raspberries, pears from my aunties garden and of course, blackberry picking (we’re going to harvest our garden blackberries soon, it’s pretty intense out there at the minute, the brambles are taking over like rabid Triffids).

Growing our own food makes us more conscious of what and how we choose to consume and plugs us straight into our local environment, the seasons and a sense of wellbeing.

We always have a range of freshly picked salad leaves for lunch at Trigonos

When I was younger (I’m not that old now, but you know what I mean…) there were many more opportunities to see and pick our produce, get up close and personal with our muddy potatoes.  Many more people were growing things and sharing in the community and amongst families.  This approach is a gift for any community and I’m grateful to Trigonos and local farms like Tydynn Teg who provide us with produce grown with care and love.  Better for our environment, better for our health and better for our tastebuds (not to mention our souls!!)

If you’re growing your own or have memories you’d like to share about awesome produce, please leave a comment below.  

Happy cooking!:)   

I love these Purple Mangetout. Amazing colour and a vivid stock when cooked. They really brighten things up.

Trigonos has many options for B+B, just give them a ring, 01286882388 or email – info@trigonos.org, to check availability.  We cook with as much produce from the land throughout the year, if you head down there soon, you’ll be tasting these tomatoes yourself!

I’ll be doing more cooking workshops in Snowdonia and at Trigonos in the future.  Here’s the BHK cooking event page to keep up-to-date, or join our seasonal newsletter here.

Looking up the valley, across the lake, Snowdon in the distant. We’ll still have many bright, fresh days like this in autumn.

 

Just to finish things off nicely, a bonfire on a chilly autumn night….

 

We have a bonfire planned at Vibrant Vegan! Snowdonia, under the stars, beneath the mountains, with lots of hot chocolate

Categories: Autumn, Cooking Workshops, healthy, Local food, Organic, photography, plant-based, sustainable, Vegan, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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!

 

Maybe you saw, we recently announced our:

Vibrant Vegan! Snowdonia – Plant-based Cooking and Yoga Holiday, 21st-25th September 2019

This is a rare chance to come over here to beautiful Snowdonia; relax, rejuvenate and get inspired!  Plus, sample lots of dishes prepared by our awesome team of chefs with produce straight from the land, and even have a tour around the farm with Owain and myself.  A little bit of foraging and lots of chat about excellent produce and organic happiness.

For more info leave a comment below or email – info@trigonos.org

The holiday is booking up quickly. Exciting times!!

 

 

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 clean 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 until it’s covered.   I add the bay leaves and ginger to the jars also.  Leave to cool.

That’s it!  Label and date the jars.

If your jars are clean, this will last a long time, one year or more when stored in a cool place.

 

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

Vibrant Vegan! Snowdonia – Plant-based Cooking and Yoga Holiday, 21st-25th September 2019

Our venue Trigonos, Nantlle Valley, Snowdonia. Photo by Ashley Duckerin

 

TIME TO NOURISH, RELAX AND GET INSPIRED!

 

This Vibrant Vegan! holiday offers a healthier approach to life and delicious plant-based food, space to rejuvenate, learn, develop and chill in beautiful surroundings, reconnect with nature and a sense of well-being.

 

This is a celebration of good living!

 

Your host is Lee Watson (vegan chef and traveller, author of cookbook ‘Peace and Parsnips’ and beachhousekitchen.com, co-host of ‘Meat vs Veg’ TV program) and his team of inspiring and talented teachers, will lead you through a varied program, designed for you, offering new skills, experiences and confidence.

 

Lee cooking at the Ludlow Food Festival last year

 

Vibrant Vegan! is all about energising, enjoying and learning, with an emphasis on vibrant and colourful, seasonal plant-based food. It’s about enjoying life, finding balance, healthy indulgence, finding peace and learning skills to promote well-being and compassion, for ourselves and others.

You’ll meet like-minded people and form new friendships, supported all the time by Lee and his team. Activities are all optional (see below), we’ll have workshops ranging from healthy vegan cooking, empowering mindful walks, a fermentation masterclass, creative crafts using locally foraged produce, bonfire storytelling and hot chocolate, candlelit meditations and more.  A time to feel grounded and nourished.

Our venue is Trigonos, a lakeside retreat centre, nestled in the stunning valleys of Snowdonia, famous for it’s seasonal and delicious food, comfortable surroundings and excellent hospitality. A location described as; ‘heaven on earth!’

 

Energy balls and healthy truffles, ideal fuel for yoga, long walks and swimming – many treats await!

 

Whether you’d like to learn how to prepare fresh and delicious plant-based meals, perfect your yoga, have an adventure in wild nature or just spend time curled up with a book in front of the fire, there is time and space during Vibrant Vegan! for all.

You will feel all the benefits of a whole food, plant-based lifestyle.  Healthy and vibrant living is fun and accessible to everyone.

 

Morning lakeside walk – Trigonos

 

LOCATION

Trigonos is a retreat centre set in the picturesque Nantlle valley, just beneath Mount Snowdon, beside a peaceful lake and forests. A variety of comfortable rooms are available, many with beautiful views.

Lee is a chef at Trigonos and has hosted a number of holidays and retreats here. Trigonos is a ‘secret garden’, a place to get away from the outside world for a while and reconnect with nature, find peace and calm, engaging with new found friends and the breath-taking scenery of Snowdonia.

 

Trigonos sits below Mount Snowdon, spectacular views await!

 

FOOD

Being a vegan chef, healthy and delicious food is one of the main focuses. Lee has created menu’s, using local, seasonal and organic ingredients, some of which are even grown on-site.

From quick dishes you can try easily at home, to desserts and cakes, homemade breads, to curries and attractive salads, a wide range of skills and dishes will be covered. Vegan roast dinner, soups and stews. Prepare for the autumn, with tips on preserving and fermenting.

 

 

Autumn is a time of abundance, this is reflected in the meals, a huge range of flavours and textures, with lots of treats along the way. This is plant-based food that everyone will enjoy!

Lee will also be hosting two cooking demonstrations (see below), where you’ll see how to cook the dishes you are enjoying, plus pick up many new cooking tips.  Lee’s demonstrations are upbeat and fun, with opportunities for you to put an apron on and get involved.

All meals are prepared by the Trigonos team, with love and care, served buffet style in the dining room, overlooking the mountains and lake.

 

You’ll enjoy delicious plant-based treats cooked by Lee and the Trigonos chefs

 

ACTIVITIES

The progam for Vibrant Vegan is varied and involves a host of wonderful, experienced teachers and experts:

A cooking demonstration, One World Vegan Holiday 2017

 

Lee’s vegan cooking demonstrations

Lee will host two vegan cooking mornings where you’ll learn practical skills and knowledge to make creative, nourishing and delicious plant-based food at home. Meals everyone will enjoy, vegan or not!

Learn how to make an awesome Vegan Sunday Roast – simple and tasty gravy, perfect Yorkies, a show stopping centre-piece, Rainbow Tart Tatin, vegan cheese,
a knockout Indian feast with curry and avocado naan, decadent desserts and cake, beetroot and squash buns and sensational umami burgers and chorizo (which can even be bbq’d).

The food you want to cook and eat!

You’ll leave feeling inspired to get cooking at home, with a recipe booklet covering all the main recipes from Vibrant Vegan!

 

“Every meal is a celebration!  An opportunity to nourish ourselves and others and fall in love with food and life.” Lee

 

Laura’s blissful morning yoga

Yoga is an excellent practice to incorporate into our lives. It offers a chance to find balance, positive energy and peace. Laura will be our yoga teacher for Vibrant Vegan!, the classes will be found useful for all levels, absolute beginner to experienced yoga practitioner.

Laura’s yoga promises techniques to ease stress and tension, stretch and strengthen out bodies and connect in a positive way with ourselves.

 

Dinas Dinlle is such a stunning beach

 

Tom’s mindful beach walk**

Tom is an inspiring and experienced leader of groups into the wilderness with his company ‘Nomad – Journey with Purpose’, with a focus on re-establishing our relationship with nature and how that reflects within ourselves and others.

We are so lucky to have him join us to lead an afternoon beach walk along the stunning Dinas Dinlle (loads of pictures of this in Peace and Parsnips), a mini adventure and loads of fun, with breath-taking views of the Snowdon Range, Llyn Peninsula and Anglesey.

 This is no ordinary stroll. This is walking with purpose, walking to discover more about ourselves and our environment.

Tom will also be joining us around our Autumn equinox bonfire, where he and Lee will be telling stories and reading poems. You are invited to join us in sharing a story or poem, or just warm your hands by the fire and contemplate the trees, lake and stars.

This quote sums up Tom’s style:

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers…” Cecil Beaton

 

Down at the Trigonos farm, picking curly kale.  The abundance of autumn!

 

Janice’s Fantastic Fermentation Masterclass

We have never met anyone as passionate about fermented foods!  A real Fermentista!! Janice is a macrobiotic health coach and writes the wonderful blog ‘Nourished by Nature’, running regular fermentation classes in and around her Glasgow home.

We love Janice’s enthusiasm for healthy, seasonal and nutritious food, she is a real inspiration for us, and believes:

“We can all make a very positive difference to both our own lives/health, and also environmentally through minimising the negative impact we create from the foods we choose and how we source them.”

Janice will show us how delicious fermented foods, made with simple techniques, can heal ourselves on every level and taste amazing!  We’ll be sampling seasonal kraut, some fermented relishes/chutneys/dips and also some seasonal kombucha flavours!

 

Owain’s vegetable farm tour

Owain is our resident veg superhero! We’ll go for a short tour around the Trigonos farm, where all veg and fruit is grown using organic principles, taking in foraging spots. Owain is an experienced horticulturalist and has been growing veg at Trigonos for years. He will be able to answer questions and help us to appreciate the importance of amazing, fresh produce, with plenty of growing tips.

 

Gillian’s autumnal craft workshop

An afternoon making celebratory door wreaths with locally foraged and hand grown woodland produce and fruits like acorns, alder masts and tiny pine cones.

Gillian Monks is a local druid, quaker, friend and best selling author of last years ‘Merry Midwinter – How to re-discover the magic of Christmas time’.

We’ll spend the afternoon creating autumnal wreaths, broaches/ posies, pine cone gnomes, or anything your imagination conjures. An afternoon with Gillian will help us to learn new skills and celebrate the rhythms, abundance and beauty of nature.

“I have a deep reverence for all that is and a great compassion and love for life.” Gillian Monks

 

Jane leading a mountain walk at our One World Vegan Holiday, 2017

 

Jane’s candle-lit meditation

Jane is Lee’s partner and will be leading our evening meditation, bringing us closer to our breath and a sense of peace and well-being.  The perfect practice for helping to quieten the mind and get a blissful nights sleep.  Jane likes to keep things simple and believes that even a little  meditation can change our lives!

Jane is also famous for her awesome smoothies, which we’ll enjoy every morning at breakfast.

 

Our days are full of activities, all optional, time is given for you to do your own thing, explore the local area and countryside, or just curl up with a book in the library.

Evenings will be spent with drinks by the open fire, an ideal chance to talk, relax and reflect.

 

Other extra activities, that can be booked at your own cost, include:

A range of massage therapies

 

Sunset at Trigonos can be an incredible time

 

PRICE INCLUDES:

 

Four nights comfortable accommodation in tranquil surroundings

 

Jane’s epic morning smoothies

 

Full bespoke recipe booklet

 

Two morning yoga and meditation classes

 

Two creative vegan cooking workshops

 

‘Vibrant Vegan!’ healthy living talk and Q+A
The fundamentals of vibrant living and well-being in mind and body

 

Stunning mindful beach walk

 

Autumn equinox bonfire with storytelling

 

Trigonos vegetable farm tour

 

Wild swimming in the lake

(Swimming in the lake is entirely at your own risk)

 

Nutritious breakfast buffet with home-baked bread and preserves

 

2/3 course lunches and dinners with vegan cheese boards
Prepared by the Trigonos chefs using carefully sourced
local, seasonal and organic produce.

 

Afternoon sweet treats, cakes, and ‘special’ hot chocolate

 

Free-flowing fresh coffee, tea, herbal infusions and fruit bowl – very important!

 

Open log fire for cosy gatherings

 

Free wifi and access to library

 

Vegan chocolate tasting – now a legendary part of our retreats!

 

Plenty of time to just be, find peace, chill
and explore the stunning valley, forests, lakes and quarries

 

Gluten-free, sugar-free and other dietary requirements are catered for and welcomed.

 

Jane and Lee with another glorious Trigonos buffet

 

PRICES

Ensuite
Single, Double, Twin

£579 per person

 

Shared Bathroom
Single, Twin

£499 per person

 

Non-resident rates are also available on request.

 

BOOK NOW

 

Call Trigonos 01286882388 (9:30am – 5:30pm)
or email info@trigonos.org

 

You can also contact us at – hellobeachhousekitchen@gmail.com

 

———

 

Click HERE to find the ‘Vegan Cooking with Beach House Kitchen’ Facebook group where you can connect with other attendees, share photos and pick up new cooking tips.

 

Click HERE to find the ‘Vibrant Vegan Snowdonia’ Facebook page, with up-to-date information on the holiday.

 

Here is Lee’s food blog with lots of recipes to tantalise your tastebuds – beachhousekitchen.com

 

Vibrant Vegan! Down on Dinas Dinlle, the beach where we’ll have a mini-adventure

 

What a Vibrant Vegan! Day looks like (example):

8:00 – 9:30 – Relaxation Morning
Lie in, practice your own yoga in the studio, swim in or walk around the lake*

 

9:45 – 10:30 – Breakfast and Jane’s Smoothies

 

11:15 – 12:30 – Vegan Cooking Demonstration and Talk with Lee

 

12:30 – 13:30 – Lunch with Homemade Soup and Loaves

 

15:00 – 18:00 – Beach Walk with Tom and Lee

 

19:00 – 20:00 – Dinner with Vegan Cheese Board

 

20:30 – Bonfire and Storytelling with Tom and Lee

 

Come and join us!

 

WE LOOK FORWARD TO WELCOMING YOU!

 

———-

** Transport to the beach walk will be using the vehicles we have available.  If you are driving, and have a free seat, we may ask if another guest can take a ride with you.

 

Categories: Cooking demos, Cooking Holidays, Cooking Retreats, Cooking Workshops, Events, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, plant-based, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , | 18 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!!  We’ve got a couple of events coming up this month, check them out here, so we’ll be taking our amazing Snowdonia produce for a ride down to London and over to Anglesey.

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.

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 oats (or gluten-free oats)

100g whole wheat (or gluten-free flour mix)

1 ½ tsp 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.

These cookies will keep nicely in sealed container for a few days, they do get slightly softer.

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.

 

 

This recipe was voted for over on our Vegan Cooking Facebook group, you can join here.

I like to see what you think about recipes before I post them.

Plus there’s loads of vegan cooking chat and pictures over there.  Pop over, sign up and show us what you’re cooking?

 

 

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, basically, I challenge anyone to make a tastier and healthier scone!  PS – I know cakes aren’t supposed to be healthy, but I still 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).  Loads of news, events, promotions and a very special interview over there this time.

 

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 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 hundreds more here and you may like to join us for an event this year, from Spain to Manchester, London to Snowdonia, we’re travelling and cooking all over the UK.  All our BHK cooking events are 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. But, let’s face it, if you don’t use spelt and rapeseed oil, we’re only talking a very distant cousin of these scones.  I think they’ll still be nice, but I can’t offer any formal BHK approval.  Let us know!

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

What we did this weekend – Beach time!

Dinas Dinlle Beach, one of our favourites

It’s been beautifully freezing and sunny at the minute up here in Snowdonia, North Wales.  We’ve been loving this winter, so much sun and at the minute, loads of snow.  We’re snowed in in Snowdonia!

Jane, well wrapped up

Don’t let the weather put you off!  Get wrapped up and go for it!!

Buddha in the garden……

….Broccoli in the basket (purple sprouting, proper treat;)

Our mate Mr Robin, keeps us company when we have breakfast in the garden.

Remember to leave a little food out for the small birds at this time of year, especially with all this snow.  Naturally, it’s a hard time of year for us all, not much is growing, food is scarce and its been a long winter.

We are making do until Spring kicks in.   There may be potatoes, cabbages, some broccoli, onions, swede, turnip, kale growing locally, so we’re not complaining, plus the occasional Pineapple from the supermarket!

The Llyn Peninsula from Dinas Dinlle

Top Soya Latte – Yum – Providero, Llandudno

Sunset up near the Beach House overlooking Anglesey and the Menai Straits. Booootiful:)

This is one cheeky little chap

Freezing winds but look at that big old sun:) Dinas Dinlle, the local

The beautiful thing about Snowdonia, one of many, is the different environments, from giant craggy mountains, down to wide stretches of beaches and forests, white water rivers, waterfalls, marshlands, it’s paradise for people who love going outside and exploring.

Deep in the heart of Snowdonia;)

Great advice!:)

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

We like to slow things down in the winter, not fight against the weather and the darkness, but try and enjoy it for what it is.  A chance to take it easy, keep warm, play, cook and sing the winter away.  Winter can be a great time to reflect and recharge.

 

Beam me up!

The first signs of spring are here, the snowdrops and there are rumours about bluebells.  I can’t wait for wild garlic, one of my favourite parts of spring, but this world is warming, there is a little spring in the air and we can’t wait for nature to wake up an bloom.

 

Join us in beautiful North Wales this March at our Food For The Soul – Plant-based Cooking and Yoga Day Retreat, 18th March ’18.

We also have two relaxing Beach House Kitchen cooking holidays, A Taste of Bliss in Spain and Vibrant Vegan Cornwall, in stunning locations.   

Categories: 'The Good Life', Healthy Eating, photography, Wales, Winter | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

 

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

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

BEER! Is it vegan? If so, which ones.

A typically Black Dog greeting

 

The sun is out over Tiger Hill and Dad has just emailed me from our favourite pub in the entire world, the Black Dog in Whistable (Kent). Yes, its named after the Led Zeppelin song and the owner Mike is a thoroughly great publican and keeps a spectacular array of local ales, not to mention vegan samosas on the menu. So my mind has drifted towards the finest of British beverages…..BEER! (aka Real Ale)

Known as the ‘hammer of the gods’ I believe

Jane and I are not drinkers a la Ollie Reed (a British actor who famously claimed to have drank 106 pints in two days) but the occasional, proper glass of bitter, stout or porter is right up our winding country track. Wishy washy lager is a no no in the B.H.K.  We like beer with character and depth.  Ale with substance and meaning.  We don’t want to bloat up on ten pints of fizzy dish water, we are seeking that perfect, 1/2 pint of dark and potent nectar. There are a few breweries around us and a brilliant pub called the Snowdonia Park which brews all of its own beers in the cellar beneath the bar. You have to love that set-up!  An institution built on beery foundations.  It is also, sometimes conveniently, a campsite.   Their best ale is ‘Karmen Sutra’, named after the landlady.  A quirky name for a beer is much appreciated.

So the suns out and I’m wondering about beer……but wait, is it vegan? There seems to be a grey area around this and I’d like to attempt to clarify the question.

IS BEER SUITABLE FOR VEGAN?

Some, is the the best answer. The Camra website has some good info on this. Basically, the main ingredients of the vast majority of beers are very vegan; hops, barley, wheat, plants one and all. However, when it comes to clearing the beer of sediment, making it clear, many brewers use finings derived from the air bladders of the sturgeon fish (how random and disappointing is that!!!) These are called ‘isingas’ and draw the pesky yeast particles down through the beer.  Although these are not consumed in the final product, most vegetarians and vegans will opt out of non-veggie beer.

Beers can be sold unrefined, but they take longer to settle and can be slightly cloudy. Some pubs in the UK are now serving only ‘unfined’ beers. Vegans also need to keep an eye on honey, it can crop up in the production of some ales.  Some brewers may also use egg whites and gelatin in the brewing process.  The good news is that beers can be fined vegan-stylee, using seaweed!  How cool.

There is a directory of vegan UK beers below with some of my favourite names being Concrete Cow, Lizard, Fallen Angel, Wobble Gate and Why Not (?!) Which is a very good question, one I have posed myself many times before entering a pub.  One I may pose myself this evening.

Here’s a comprehensive list (you could even call it a database) of vegan beers from the good folk at Barnivore.  In fact, Barnivore is a one stop shop for checking all your vegan booze queries, including wines and liquor.  I love the fact that their commitment to booze have led them to research the beers of Nicaragua, Philippines and even France!

Local tipple.  Good stuff.

SOME POPULAR BRANDS OF BEER (NOT NECESSARILY GOOD ONES) THAT ARE VEGAN

Black Sheep Ale (Wahee!)

Goose Island (Waheeeee!)

Affligen beers (Hoorahhhh!)

Alhambra and Mahou Spanish Beer (Yeeesssss!  Fiesta!!)

Amstel (Hmmmmmmmmmmmm)

Asahi (Hmmmm, refreshing and points for being exotically Japanese)

Budweiser (Hmmmmmm.  Only in Wyoming.)

Aspall Ciders (Whoopp!)

Badger Ale (Double Whhooopeeee!)

Becks (Nostalgic nod of semi-approval.)

Black Isle, Isle of Skye (THANK YOU!  Thank you!!)

In fact, I’m only on ‘B’, I’ll be here all day.  There are more major brands listed below, but the good news is that most pubs will stock some vegan beers and you can always have a pint of Becks if you arm is being severely twisted.  Being vegan does not mean that you cannot be boozy.  Kale smoothies are wicked.  As is a tankard of tepid local ale!  We are British don’t you know!!!!!

Corona (plenty of lime please)

Pacifico (as above and very cold)

Peroni (if in Napoli, pleasant)

Fosters (Not if I was dying of thirst on a small antipodean island)

XXXX (See above but with much more conviction)

Bernard Beers (the absolute opposite of the past two comments.  Heavenly Czech nectar.)

Budvar (Fizzy yumvar)

Staropramen (Fueled my early 20’s misadventures.  Strong)

Stella Artois (no comment, except it can be decent if in Leeuwen.)

Conwy Ales (if you live in Wales, this is the finest of spring time news)

Birra Morretti (nice bottle and Italian, so brownie points)

Erdinger (!!!!!!!YES!!!!!!)

Kronenberg (who drinks beer in France.  Wine!)

Potentially, not everything these guys brew is vegan, but it seems like most.  Best checking with uncle Barnivore to be sure. 

I would say this, “vegans…..don’t be shy and ask at your local watering hole about vegan options.  The more we ask, the more awareness spreads and the more pubs stock vegan tipples.”  Many vegans I know provide their local pubs with excellent support and are a mainstay of their local public house.

VEGAN BEER!  Why not!!

Enjoy in moderation (or otherwise.)

Rainbow…..Dad, this ones for you big man!  Roberts still got it (never in doubt!)

Categories: Wales, Wine and Booze | 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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