Posts Tagged With: vegan

Jungle Kopi Culture – Sampling Indonesia’s coffee revolution

Traditional village - Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

Traditional village – Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

There are so many striking things about Indonesia; the people are so friendly, warm and welcoming, the incredibly diverse cultures are ancient and fascinating, the landscape varied, and jaw dropping and somewhere steaming away in this heady mix is the coffee, something of a superstar in the waiting.

Of all the coffee giants in the world; Latin America, Africa, India etc, I feel Indonesia is slightly overlooked. Especially Sulawesi. You may see some packs of Java beans out there, but nothing much else. The variety of Indonesia’s coffee cornucopia is poorly represented and we’re missing out big time.

Indonesia has the perfect conditions for coffee (and cacao) growing.  Coffee and chocolate, what a combo!  There is a youthful espresso fuelled movement swinging into existence bringing quality coffee back to it’s roots and cherries, so to speak. Led by the sprawling megalopolis that is Jakarta, there is a growing trendy cafe culture over here, hip and buzzing, Indonesians are getting to enjoy their coffee and not just export it away.  We have been lucky to sample a bewildering array of brews and take in some plantations, each island produces very different styles of beans, within those islands are various regions, each with their own character and the tumbling coffee kaleidescope continues.

Perfect cremas are not always the case though. Many Indonesians don’t drink coffee as we Euro coffee snobs like it. The local brew is something like a long Greek/ Turkish coffee. Needing a few minutes to settle into a dark cuppa with some funky sludge greeting you towards the latter stages. It is normally pretty decent, better than packet instant, but this new roasted and toasted trend is very exciting.  Young guys with hipster quiffs and girls wearing brightly coloured hijabs let loose on Italian-made coffee machines to extract the maximum wow and yum. Jakarta is filling up with bespoke cafes and the big chains are lumbering in; Starclucks are making their insidious presence felt and bizarrely use beans from Guatemala!! Speaks volumes.

Jack fruit burger with sweet potato fries- It's not just the coffee that awesome in Indonesia

Jack fruit burger with sweet potato fries- It’s not just the coffee that awesome in Indonesia

TANA TORAJA – A COFFEE AFICIONADO”S PARADISE

So Toraja is a remote region in Central Sulawesi, one of the largest islands in Indonesia, roughly the same size as France and basically, one big jungle. Toraja is reached by spectacularly rutted and windy roads, a mountainous region famous over here for producing some of the best Arabica in the country and is also home to an incredible tribal culture (see here).

Coffee is not a big deal in Toraja, they may drink it occasionally and most of the traditional houses in villages (see the top photo) had a little ornate wooden pot full of ground coffee. The beans are normally roasted in a steel pan over an open fire, which leads to inconsistent heat and inevitably a mixture of burnt and raw beans. I have tried roasting beans using this method in Luzon, Philippines and is seems that no matter how much care you take, there is little chance of avoiding charred bits with pale interiors. This could be why the Torajan’s didn’t generally cherish their beans.  The same could be said of cacao (chocolate beans) which also grows everywhere, their brilliantly red and yellow pods poking out of the canopy.

A friend told me about a Belgian couple who brought some local people a selection of fine European chocolates. The village Torajan’s were amazed that these bitter little beans had been fashioned into something so delicious. A chocolate revolution is surely the next step for Indonesia’s foodie folk, probably with some cacao smoothies along the way.

Some many Indonesia varieties to choose from, freshly ground to order

Some many Indonesia varieties to choose from, freshly ground to order

One of the largest towns in Toraja is Rantepao and this is were we met two of our coffee superheroes, Mika and Eli. Eli runs a tiny coffee roasting business and cafe with his wife, Kaana Toraya Coffee, using a perfectly eclectic range of machinery that he built himself and techniques he learnt from a Hawaiian tourist in the early 90’s. Eli has made two roasters, the largest one powered by a large water wheel. A stroke of engineering genius. It is very peaceful to sit and watch it in action. The sound of flowing water and the tantalising aromas of coffee beans roasting. The equipment may look a little basic and battered in places, but the outcome is sensational and very high quality. We tried the traditional style of beans, dried leaving the husks on and also the standard washed style bean that we are familiar with, but then the bombshell came calling, Hani! Hani is a technique that I feel would be huge in the coffee shops and nooks of Europe and beyond.

Elli's water wheel powered coffee roaster. Ingenius!

Elli’s water wheel powered coffee roaster. Ingenius!

HANI – A NEW STYLE OF COFFEE

The word sounds like honey and the flavour is like honey, much sweeter and fragrant than a washed bean. It is achieved by leaving the natural juices, released by the coffee berries when being picked and processed, on the coffee bean when drying (over here this is generally done on huge racks under the sun or in small quantities by the side of the road). This means that the berry is darker in colour. Dried pre-roast coffee beans are actually a yellowy green colour. These hani beans smell strongly of honey! It’s magic!! Especially for a vegan!!!

Eli and his wife kindly sold us a small bag of Hani for our backpacks, we are travelling with a little cafetiere contraption that means when we get a bit remote mountain cave or deserted island hammock we can still enjoy a top cup of joe. Eli loves exporting his families organic, hand picked coffee all around the world, if you’re in the business, you’ve got to try some Hani beans! Something truly unique. Also, you will never find a man who smiles more than Eli. Its highly infectious:)

Eli's extra special 'hani' coffee - tastes like honey

Eli’s extra special ‘hani’ coffee – tastes like honey

After being immersed in the full coffee story, from bush to mug, we felt like a little sunset stroll around town. Rantepao is a dusty little place, clustered around a busy main thoroughfare. Tourism has made it’s presence felt and there are a couple of biggish hotels, normally catering for large tour groups. There is an impressive protestant church beside a slightly larger bright green mosque, there is a bustling bazaar selling everything from knocked off Rip Curl t-shirts to locally grown spices and finely carved machetes. On each street corner you’ll find the ubiquitous fried snack vendour, giant pans of oil bubbling away inches from frantic swathes of traffic. Pisang Goreng (Fried Bananas wrapped in a light pastry) are famous here and served in a number of ways, all sweet and tantalising. You’ve also got the usual piles of battered tempeh, tofu, corn fritters and sometimes chicken.

We were enjoying the energy and smiles encountered, many children and teenagers were practicing for their Independence day parades, something like a mass cheerleader-athon mixed with an army cadet march. All mini well pressed uniforms, papier machete tanks and tiara clad back flips. Many proud parents watching on beside Denis’s Massage Parlour, Jane and I causing minor waves of excitement, everyone shouting “Mr, Mr, hey Mr”.  This is a normal reaction to tourists in Indonesia.  Jane is also a Mr it seems! We have now posed for hundreds of selfies which, most of the time, is a real laugh.

From bush to cup, you get the whole coffee experience in Indonesia

From bush to cup, you get the whole coffee experience in Indonesia

JAK KOFFIE – JIMI HENDRIX & AMERICANO

It was by pure chance that we found Jak coffee, not much more than a doorway on a side street. The brilliant graffiti caught our attention. We instantly realised that it was a special little place, the decor was really cool and Mika (the main man) had the biggest, warmest smile on his face. It is not uncommon in Indonesia to find cafes with rows of jars, filled with freshly roasted beans to choose. A rare treat for sure! Mika was playing some great tunes and had painted a large picture of Jimi Hendrix on the wall. Never a bad interior design idea!  The walls are lined with Mika’s work, he’s really a photographer moonlighting as a barista, plus the occasional antique lampshade or red phone.

Mika is very knowledgeable about most things it seems and spoke passionately about local history and culture, bringing life to it all, we learnt more in 1 hour than we did in 1 month of travel. This was the real story of Indonesia, right now, from the people creating the new waves and shapes.  My Americano was mindblowing; rich and deep, made with organic beans from the East of Toraja. Maybe you think a cup of coffee cannot border on or even tickle the mindblowing.  This was a coffee bomb!!  The flavours and aromas were intense.  Having said that, it was my fourth coffee of the afternoon and most things were a little intense.  Mika picks and chooses who he buys from, keeping things fresh, organic and interesting.  I have never seen someone take so much care over making a coffee.  The process elevated to an art form.

Jimi

Jimi

‘NO COFFEE MAFIA PLEASE!’

You have probably not heard about Torajan coffee, primarily because large corporations from Japan and China buy it all up and make it into generic rubbish. This obviously means that prices are low and farmers suffer. There is no fair trade in these parts. Mika is fighting the good fight himself and attempting to showcase what Toraja can really do, saying “NO coffee mafia please!”  We loved his passion which sparked off in all kinds of directions.  He even had signs (see below).

Mika and his friends also bake some amazing cakes; stout brownies, chocolate croissants. The local crowd are loving to experiment with new styles of cooking. Anyone fancy a croissant sandwich?  This is anti-Starclucks world, local people taking control of their produce and making something bespoke and high quality (and a few bucks) with bags of good ethics and integrity.

No mafia coffee please

No mafia coffee please

Jak Koffie is a slightly surreal experience really (in a good way), it’s like steeping through a hip portal, you feel like you’ve been transported to Soho, London or Gothica, Barcelona.   That is until you step outside and are nearly taken out by a twelve year old on a motorbike eating a fried banana. Mika is like Indonesia’s answer to a fully caffeinated, cheery Che Guevara and I wish him my wholehearted best and hope we’ll soon see the amazing coffee’s of Toraja in more Western shops and cafes.

If you’re in Toraja, Jak cafe is a must. An a urban chic oasis in the endless steaming jungles of Sulawesi. You’ve also got to try Hani coffee, a totally new coffee drinking experience.  Rantepao is a great place to sample the old and new faces of Indonesia as they mingle and take flight.  The only negative that we’ve encountered in Indonesia is a short visa and it’s now leave.  Selamat Tinggal!

Jak coffee - one of the best cafes we visited in Indonesia

Jak Koffie – one of the best cafes we visited in Indonesia

 

Jak has no website yet but you can find more info and contact details here.

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

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

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

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

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Vegfest UK Awards 2015 – Last chance to vote!

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

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

VOTE HERE

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

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

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

....and ate loads of pizza!

….and ate loads of pizza!

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

‘Eating for the Earth’ – An article written for the Barefoot Vegan Magazine

barefoot vegan sept_oct issue lee 1I am now a regular contributor to the Barefoot Vegan Magazine, something I am very proud of.  It’s a beautiful online mag, packed with interesting and enlightening articles.  It is a real wealth of insight into the modern vegan lifestyle and I would urge you all to have a look, whether a full-power plant-based shiner or a curious veggie dabbler, there is something for all.  You can subscribe for free here.

You know that we love nature in the BHK and I see that the state of our environment is a major issue of concern for most people.  In ‘Eating for the Earth’ I explore the environmental impacts of Animal Agriculture, the worst polluting industry on the planet (well above the entire transport industry).  Going vegan is the number one way to positively effect our environment.  Just one meal makes a difference.  Our forks are our greatest weapons in combating our negative environmental impacts and what we choose to eat has never been so important.

“Making ethical choices in what we buy, do, and watch. In a consumer-driven society our individual choices, used collectively for the good of animals and nature, can change the world faster than laws.” Mark Bekoff 

There is more, Jane has also written an article for this edition of the Barefoot Vegan.  How cool is that!  Both of us in one shining mag!!!  Jane writes about her work within the Red Tent movement and how it supports women globally.  An empowering article for all women.  Jane started the local Red Tent in North Wales, which has been going for two years and which regularly transforms the Beach House living room into a sea of red fabric and smiling faces.

I hope you get the chance to read the articles and we always love feedback and a chat in general.  You’ll find regular BHK updates on twitter and facebook.  For more information about veganism or going vegan, two amazing resources are The Vegan Society and Veganuary.

If you are in the UK, Jane and I are attending loads of food festivals and doing book signings all over the place.  I’ll be at the Penarth Book Festival doing a talk about compassionate eating and Peace & Parsnips with Anthony Slaughter, Deputy Leader of the Wales Green Party.  We’ll also be down at Vegfest in London on 11th October where Peace & Parsnips has been voted in the ‘Best Vegan Cookbook’ Category.  You can vote here for our book, plus loads of other amazing vegan cookbooks, products, nibbles and restaurants.

Viva Veggies!!!!!  Surely the tastiest way of saving the world!

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Categories: Peace and Parsnips, Press, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragrant Wild Rice, Curly Kale and Pistachio Salad – Original Recipe from Peace & Parsnips

Fragrant Wild Rice, Curly Kale and Pistachio Salad - Recipe from Peace & Parsnips

Fragrant Wild Rice, Curly Kale and Pistachio Salad – Recipe from Peace & Parsnips

A rich, zesty and highly nutritious salad that is ideal for an early Autumn lunch.  This is packed with ‘superfoods’ although I think most plant-based foods are superfoods (bar maybe the Jerusalem artichoke, which I love, but lacks much nutritional oomph).  So plants are all superfoods and it seems that being a vegan, no matter what you choose for dinner, your body and mind is going to thrive on it!  That is of course if you keep things natural and whole food.  We are what we eat and I don’t want to feel like a processed vegan hotdog.  Ever.  Just doesn’t appeal!  Radiant health is just one of the coolest things about being a plant muncher.  The other benefits are well documented, many times on this blog.  But I’m a cook, so lets talk food…..

This salad is a filling centre piece dish and can be made even more so by the addition of tofu/ tempeh or even a scattering of pulses/legumes.  To be honest, that’s a little OTT.  This fragrant number is already loaded with nutrition; protein, calcium, iron, vitamins, healthy fats….  For this reason, it is very satisfying and filling.  I love dill, its such a distinct herb that is seldom used.  In this salad it is not overpowering, but mingles in with the other strong flavours.

I love to create salads and toy with texture, colours and flavours.  Salads are the perfect medium to express the freshness and vitality of seasonal produce and tomatoes, carrots, kale are bang on season up here in the wild Welsh hills.  We’ve had a poor year weather wise (you may have heard me mention many times over!) but we’re hanging in there are getting some beautiful cavolo nero and curly kale and down on the Trigonos farm, we have a massive poly tunnel laden with a variety of sensational tomatoes.  Some of which weigh over 1 kg!  All are bursting with sweetness and fragrance.  Experimentation on ways of preserving tomatoes is under way, our own sun dried tomatoes lack one very important element.  So we are going to slowly dry them overnight in the oven, it will take several nights.  Needless to say, this time of year is filled with jar hunting, lots of roasting and creative twists and freezers fit to burst.  I’m a lucky fella to be cooking with such produce on a daily basis.  Thanks to Judy and team for producing the most amazing vegetables and fruits.  A cooks dream!

That's what I call a tom!

That’s what I call a tom!

KALE! WHATS ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?

As mentioned above, we’re in a ‘sea of green’ kale at the minute and not dreaming of complaining.  As we all know, many times over, eating greens is the quickest and most effective way of becoming a super happy wonder being.  It is (sort of) that easy!  Kale is a star for so many incredible reasons:

  • Kale is high in good fats.  Omega 3’s that is.  Good for the heart, brain and can reduce Type 2 diabetes.
  • Kale contains a huge amount of vitamin A.  The highest of any green leaf.
  • Gram for gram, kale has more calcium than milk.
  • By weight, kale has twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange.

Eat your greens, live the dream……………

Sea of green. Kale harvest is going very well at Trigonos.org

Sea of green. Kale harvest is going very well at Trigonos

“HEY, WHAT’S HAPPENIN’?!”

(Any Marvin Gaye fans out there?)  The BHK is, of course, not just solely about food.  We do other things and like to keep you abreast of what’s happening in our lives up here on Bryn Teg (Fair Hill), North Wales.   We are going through renovations of the cottage and have recently built a deluxe wood shed, which could comfortably sleep a young family.  We need a lot of wood over the winter!  We have also been building a slate path out the front, all from local slate that we have scavenged and traded for.  Its looking like something out of the Hobbit at the minute.  Quite rustic, but very cool.  Add to that, loads of painting, gardening, oh working for a living and wandering around the hills, our summer has been packed.

We are now starting food festival season and this weekend we have two, Ludlow (Saturday 12th) and Beaumaris (Sunday 13th).  We will be doing cooking demonstrations, all recipes from Peace & Parsnips, and then book signings.  We are really looking forward to kicking things off this year and will be attending a load of food festivals around Britain.  Maybe see you there! (See ‘Contact and Press’, top right of the screen, for more details).

The Nantlle Valley, where we wander and work (looking great with the new heather growth, everything is going purple!)

The Nantlle Valley, where we wander and work (looking great with the new heather growth, everything is going purple!)

We have been sharing a much more on Twitter and Facebook these days and this has meant a few less BHK posts.  Its nice to mix things up a little!  Although Instagram is a step too far at the moment (I don’t have a mobile phone!)

This recipe has also recently featured in Your Healthy Living Magazine and posting it was inspired by Janice over at the wonderful Nourished by Nature blog, celebrating plant based food and natural health magic!  Thanks Janice.

This salad is great warm, just don’t let the rice cool fully and watch all those flavours come to life!  You can play around with the veggie components of this salad and keep it seasonal.  We are using sorrel loads at the moment, it growing in patches all over the garden and even likes to grow in the cracks in or front garden slates.  I can think of worst ‘weeds’.  Sorrel is delicious.  ‘With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue, the only thing I ever got from you, was …….’

Sorrel. Our favourite weed.

Sorrel. Our favourite weed.

The Bits – For 4-6

•250g wild rice
•1 carrot, grated (if you have any carrot tops, finely chop them and add)
•5 leaves of curly kale, cut from the stems and very finely sliced
•3 tbsp raisins, soaked for two hours and roughly chopped
•½ a handful of roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
•6 radishes, trimmed and finely diced
•6 sun-blush or sun-dried tomatoes, including any oil, finely chopped
•4 spring onions, finely sliced
•½ a handful of fresh dill, chopped
•½ a handful of chives, finely sliced
•A handful of sprouted mung beans or green lentils

For the dressing

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
•3 tbsp olive oil
•Juice of 1½ limes
•Zest of ½ lime
•½ tsp sea salt
•½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the garnish: •A handful of roasted pistachios
•3 tbsp chopped fresh dill

Do It

Rinse the wild rice in cold water a number of times until the water runs clean. Place in a pan, pour in water to cover by 3cm, then bring to the boil and put a lid on the pan.

Reduce the heat to its lowest possible and cook for 45-50 minutes, until the rice is soft and all the water has evaporated. Fluff up gently with a fork and allow to cool fully. Spreading the rice out on a plate will help here.

To make the dressing, whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to mix evenly. Add the dressing, spoon in the rice and combine well.

Serve

In shallow bowls, garnished with the extra nuts and herbs.

Foodie Fact

The fats in this salad (oil) and the citrus (lime) will help the body to absorb the nutrients available.  They work in harmon together and carotenoids (part of the Vitamin A family) are fat-soluble and the high levels of iron in the kale are made more available by the acid in the lime.  Not only are they tasty, but all these ingredients are working together to keep our bodies shiny and happy.

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Local food, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Salads, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Charred Cauliflower Steaks with Coconut and Kale Puree

Charred Cauliflower Steaks with Coconut and Kale Puree

Charred Cauliflower Steaks with Coconut and Kale Puree

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

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

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

BLEEDING BURGERS!?

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

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

BEACH LOVIN’

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

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

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

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

Black pepper and sea salt

Do It

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

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

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

Preheat oven to 180oC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Banana, Buckwheat and Walnut Slices (Yummy, easy and don’t cost the earth!)

Banana, Buckwheat and Walnut Slices

Banana, Buckwheat and Walnut Slices

A nice slice of proper, old fashioned cake here. I love baking these traditional style cakes, you can’t go wrong with them.  Its so quick and easy to get together and it is also very cheap.  I doubt you’ll be able to cobble a cake together for much less.  This recipe is a request from one of our lovely guests at Trigonos, Debbie. It is a Trigonos classic and a variation on Ed’s (long serving chef and all around superhero) recipe that has been served to many thousands of artists, meditators, yoga students etc over the years. One of the best things about it, is its ease in preparation. Never a bad thing when working in a busy kitchen!

I was going to make Jack Monroe’s awesome looking Extra-Wholesome Banana Loaf and will be soon as I am always open to adding coconut oil to cakes.  I think its the closest we vegans can get to butter in baking and certainly adds richness and a fuller texture to your favourite slab of sweet happiness.  The extra-wholesome element in this cake is the buckwheat.  Adding great nutrition and a depth to the flavour of the cake.

PLEASE EAT MORE CAKE:)

Afternoon tea at Trigonos is always a highlight for most of our guests. It seems that this tradition is fast disappearing, maybe Great British Bake Off is reversing the trend a little, but a nice sit down with a cup of tea is a British institution that is dwindling due to our now fast paced lifestyles.  I think eating cake is essential to a balance, healthy, blissed out existence.  A little sweetness brings a smile.  Even if its a piece of fruit or one of the vast array of healthy cakes out there now; no sugar, gluten free etc.  We’re making one today actually, something revolving around polenta, garden blackberries and gram flour.  Watch this space (idea pinched from the brilliant Laura at Whole Ingredient blog!)

THE LUCKIEST CHEF ALIVE!

Trigonos is rocking at the minute with local produce.  I’m the luckiest chef living to be able to cook everyday with glorious organic produce.  Its all thanks to Judy and Owain who work their socks off year round to make the conditions right for these summer gluts.  The team have just podded over 200lb of peas alone, the sun has been out a little recently meaning the tomatoes are finally going red and we’ve a whole poly tunnel of them to munch, roast and/ or jar up.

Lovely to see the Ruby Chard back on the Trigonos Menu

Lovely to see the Ruby Chard back on the Trigonos Menu

As a cook, its a busy time of year, but a wonderfully satisfying one.  Our freezers are beginning to burst at the seams with blanched and fresh veggies, prepared for the more leaner months.  Our guests at the retreat centre really appreciate the fact that a lot of the food they eat was grown on the land, it certainly adds to the dining experience.  You can’t beat the flavour and vibrancy!

The courgettes are just taking off and that’s always interesting, overnight they can turn into something resembling a canoe crossed with a marrow.  They just blow up!  Sometimes these are great stuffed, as a real centre piece.  Basil has also ran wild this year, meaning many pesto/ pistou’s.  An abundance of basil is always a rare gift.  I’ve been loving Toasted Cashew and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, hopefully I’ll get the recipe on the BHK soon.  Jane and I are also doing a few house renovations and working on plenty of Beach House/ Peace & Parsnips based projects.  More news of those to follow soon.

Overall, I’m consistently amazed at how the Trigo guys eek out such abundant harvests from what is quite a damp and overcast part of the world with fairly dodgy volcanic soil. Its taken 17 years to get it to this stage.  I think that is the main lesson with organic farming/ veg growing.  Patience.

Gorgeous summer peas - post pod

Gorgeous summer peas – post pod

This recipe makes roughly 24 slices. It comes directly from my Trigonos recipe book (a cluster of precious, undecipherable scrap paper) where recipes are normally fit to serve 20-30.  Please feel free to scale it down a little.  I’ve also made this with added tahini and sesame seeds (no walnuts) and it becomes even richer with a nice chewy texture.  You may also like to add seasonal berries to the cake.  Raspberries and blackberries, for example, work beautifully.  As ever, use this recipe as a base and go wild!  Feel ever free to experiment…………  Use any oil you like, of course unrefined is much better, preferably with a neutral flavour.  If you don’t have buckwheat flour, you can use all wholemeal.

IDEAS FOR REPLACING EGGS

The bananas here act as a egg replacer.  Other vegan options for helping to bind things together when baking are apple sauce (cooked apples), silken tofu, mashed sweet potato/ squash, ground flax seeds……there are loads of healthy and effective plant based options.

This one’s for you Debbie!!!!!!!x

Trigonos farm - looking a bit misty yesterday.  We're having a pretty good year with produce, but unfortunately, much less sunshine than last year.

Trigonos farm – looking a bit misty yesterday. We’re having a pretty good year with produce, but much less sunshine than last year.

The Bits – 24 Slices

Do It

11 oz (310g) self raising wholemeal flour

5 oz (140g) buckwheat flour

10 oz (285g) unrefined brown sugar

 

1/2 pint (285ml) sunflower oil

1/2 pint (285ml) soya/ rice milk

4 ripe bananas

3 oz (85g) crushed walnuts

 

Do It

Oil and line a 10 inch x 14 inch (roughly) pan with baking parchment.  Preheat an oven to 375oF (190oC).

Sieve the flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl.   Mash your bananas in a seperate bowl with a fork, until smooth.  Make a well in the flour and sugar, gradually pour in your oil and milk followed by your bananas.  Stir until all is nicely combined (not too much).

Pour into the baking pan and pop in the oven for 40-45 mins.  Until your trusty skewer comes out clean when pressed into the centre of the cake.

Turn out onto a wire rack (removing the baking parchment) and leave to cool for 20 minutes.  Devour at will.

Banana. Buckwheat and Walnut Slices - This recipe makes a load, but don't worry, it freezes well!

Banana. Buckwheat and Walnut Slices – This recipe makes a load, but don’t worry, it freezes well!

Serve

Big cups of tea with your neighbour or granny.   Cats are also nice to have around when eating good cake.

Foodie Fact

Buckwheat is a great, gluten free alternative when used as a flour or grain.  Buckwheat is classed as a whole grain but is actually a fruit and is related to sorrel and rhubarb.  Buckwheat is a good source of magnesium and has other properties that promote good cardiovascular health.   Fibre is so important in a well balanced diet and buckwheat, being a whole wholegrain, is full of it.

I use buckwheat, both flour and grain, loads in Peace & Parsnips, things like Buckwheat Pancakes, Toasted Almond Buckwheat Crumble, Kasha with Rosemary, Apricots and Walnuts…….  It’s such a nutritious and tasty thang.

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Local food, photography, Recipes, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Aviyal – Keralan Coconut and Vegetable Curry with Watermelon and Pineapple Salad

Aviyal - Keralan Coconut and Vegetable Curry with Pineapple and Watermelon Salad

Aviyal – Keralan Coconut and Vegetable Curry with Pineapple and Watermelon Salad

A simple, light summer curry with all the joys and sparkling nutrition of coconut and seasonal vegetables.  This is a recipe straight outta Peace & Parsnips and was recently featured online here in Reveal Magazine.  Recipes like this are a wonderful reminder for me of special times spent travelling and cooking in India.  Kerala is surely one of the most beautiful corners of the planet and its food is surprisingly vegan friendly, diverse and really healthy.

This is a recipe I learnt from my friend Narendra on the patio of a wooden hut in a yoga retreat, rural Tamil Nadu.  Although this is (probably) a traditional Keralan style curry, they love it in neighbouring Tamil Nadu also.  I had been eating it regularly in India and was so pleased when Narendra took the time to sit down with me and finally get a recipe on paper.  He taught me his families traditional recipe, from the ancient temple town of Madurai, and it was pleasing simple.  Like many Indian family staples, the difference is in the freshness of the ingredients; the vegetables and the spices.  Most Indian households will have what I call a ‘Sabji’ (Vegetable) man.  Just like a milk man in the UK, he wanders the streets in the mornings selling his wares from a cart, shouting up to the windows of house wives what’s good , freshest and of course, on special offer!  Fresh vegetables are everywhere in India and veg markets are frequent and always interesting to wander around and pick up some funky looking spice or odd looking root (maybe a mooli or two?).

The beaches of North Kerala are stunning!

The beaches of North Kerala are stunning! Kannur

Although this is a simple recipe, cooked most days in Keralan homes, it adapts well to the changing seasons in most countries.  Any variety of vegetables can be used in its preparation and Aviyal lends itself perfectly to British/ European veg.  In fact, Narendra’s grandmother used to call things like carrots ‘British veg’ as they we only grown and popularised in the time of the Raj, when much of Indian cooking as we know it was altered and influenced by British tastes.

The ladies at Varnam Homestay, Wayanand, Kerala - Lunch prep in full swing

The women Varnam Homestay, Wayanand, Kerala – Lunch prep in full swing

I was lucky to cook in a beautiful kitchen near Wayanad National Park, Northern Kerala with some amazing ladies.  Here I learnt some proper Keralan classics and top tips that you can only learn by actually getting your hands on the pots and pans.  I loved the way that they used very roasted coconut to add depth and flavour to sauces, especially when used with piles of freshly grated ginger.  I also loved cooking with a wide range of local produce, all of their dishes contained only ingredients from their own land.  Spices and all!  They even grew their own coffee and we were inundated each day with fresh exotic fruits, many of which I’d never seen before.  Mangoes grew above the hammocks in the garden, guavas, green figs, coconuts, plantains……you can imagine, it was a bit like eden/ nirvana!

Cooking at Varnam Homestay, Kerala

Cooking at Varnam Homestay, Kerala

Aviyal is such a healthy, light dish, nothing like the rich and fiery curries of the much of North India.  Coconut is king in the south, making travelling around South India a foodie paradise for vegans.  Its up there with places like Thailand or parts of the Med for traditional vegan dishes.  Anywhere that the vegetable or coconut thrives, you find brilliant vegan dishes.  Vegan food is so creative and evolving all the time, but it is nice to find dishes on my travels that reflect a cultures heritage and history.  We’ve always eaten and enjoyed vegan dishes, we just don’t necessarily give them that name (which, for whatever reason, can put some people off).

Indian spices, down at the market

Indian spices, down at the market

The Bits – For 4
For the curry
•2-3 fresh green chillies
•2 big handfuls of freshly grated or desiccated coconut
•2tsp cumin seeds
•220ml coconut milk or unsweetened soya yogurt
•2 large carrots, scrubbed
•2 large potatoes, scrubbed
•1 large courgette
•6 fat asparagus spears
•2 green plantains, peeled
•200ml water
•1tsp ground turmeric
•1tsp of sea salt
•1 big handful of mangetout or green beans
•2tbsp coconut oil
•2tsp mustard seeds
•3tbsp curry leaves
For the pineapple & watermelon salad
•A small pineapple
•One third of a small watermelon (don’t bother deseeding)
•1 large cucumber
•1 small handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
•A pinch of sea salt
•A large pinch of chaat masala mix or black salt (optional)

Do It
In a pestle and mortar or a food processor, blend together the chillies, coconut and cumin seeds (if you’re using desiccated coconut, add 2tbsp of the coconut milk to make a thick paste). This is best done in advance and can be left overnight in the fridge to develop zing.

Cut the carrots, potatoes, courgette, asparagus and plantains into 2.5cm pieces. Heat the water in a large pan and add the turmeric, salt, carrots and potatoes. Bring to a steady boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and pop a lid on the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the courgettes and plantains and cook for 10 minutes more, keeping the lid on.

Add the coconut paste to the curry with the coconut milk or yogurt and stir carefully to combine. Cook uncovered for 8-10 mins on a gentle simmer. Check that the carrots and potatoes are tender, then add the asparagus and mangetout and remove the pan from the heat. Cover, set aside for a few minutes.

Jane and I in the Yoga Retreat, Tamil Nadu

Jane and I in the Yoga Retreat, Tamil Nadu

Serve

Really simply, with steamed rice.  Keralans love their rice!  A crunchy salad is great as a side, exotic fruits work well here with Aviyal.  This is how they served it in the Yoga Ashram (where the food was excellent).

Foodie Fact

Coconuts are wonderfully healthy, containing high levels of Lauric Acid which is anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacteria.  They also have the highest level of electrolytes known to man, making them perfect when exercising or when dehydrated.  In some parts of the world it is even used intravenously for the purpose of re-hydration.  Coconut can boost our metabolism and make our skin shine.

Keralan sunset

A Keralan sunset, Kannur

Categories: Curries, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes, Salads, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Raw-cheesecake-

Raw Blueberry and Macadamia Cheesecake taken from Peace and Parsnips

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bits – For 8 slices For the crust

300g raw macadamia nuts

A handful of pumpkin seeds

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

20g freshly grated coconut (desiccated is fine)

For the filling

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

120ml lemon juice

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

180ml coconut oil

A large pinch of sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

120ml water

For the sauce

400g blueberries

45g dates (soaked for 1 hour), pitted

Do It

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

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

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

Categories: Cakes, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Desserts, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Gooey Choco Nut Cookies (Gluten Free and Vegan)

 

Choco Nut Cookies (Gluten free)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bits – Makes 8 cookies

Dry

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

30g brown rice flour

1/2 teas ground cinnamon

100g unrefined brown sugar

1/2 teas bicarb of soda

3/4 teas baking powder

Large pinch salt

2/3 teas xantham gum

 

Wet

90ml vegetable  oil

1/2 teas vanilla extract

30ml water (splash more if needed)

 

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

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

 

Do It

Preheat an oven to 180oc/ Gas Mark 4.

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

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

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

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

Serve 

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

 

Categories: Baking, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Desserts, gluten-free, photography, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Creamy Peanut and Sweet Potato Curry

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potatoes (Vegan)

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potatoes (Vegan)

This is not a fussy thing!  Not a gram (or lentil) of stress, just lots of spicy and sweet creaminess……the perfect dish to end Vegetarian Week. Twitter takes up a lot of time! I’ve been tweeting like a nutter this morning but its great to come back to the BHK. Blog-ville!

Here is last nights dinner which worked out a treat. Creamy and sweet with a hint of nuttiness and plenty of spice this is pure plant and packed with things to make you shine and go MMmmmmmmm……. This is a chunky curry, all made in the one pan for ease of preparation. We like to keep things whole food and don’t think this means loads or extra prep or time over the hob. There is no separate masala sauce making here, we just dive straight in and get maximum flavour and richness from the soya milk and peanut butter.

Jane and I celebrated my birthday on the beach and in the garden yesterday. A little belated as I’ve been busy promoting ‘Peace and Parsnips’ down in London and working at the Trig.  We quaffed a nice bottle of Sancerre and watched the sun slowly set from a rug near our stone circle (quite a cool feature of our garden!)  Pretty idyllic behaviour!  Our garden is looking wild and verdant at the minute, alive with the hum of big busy bumble bees.  You have to wait ages for a sunset at this time of year, we gave up at 9:30pm and retreated into the Beach House. I mention in the recipe that we like our veggies with a little crunch and must say that the pictures of the curry were taken alot later in the evening when the curry had sat and carried on cooking. They were well cooked by that stage (a bottle of wine can have a bizarre effect on cooking).

The Beach House Garden - Waiting for sunset

The Beach House Garden – Waiting for sunset

NATURAL HEALING

Later we watched an interesting documentary ‘Sacred Science‘ about natural plant healing, straight from the shamans of the Amazon.  There is so much healing potential in the plant world, most of which we are unaware of.  This documentary opened our eyes to the potency of the natural world to heal even serious or terminal illness; cancer, parkinsons, diabetes etc.  The Amazon is tragically disappearing for a number of reasons, one of the main ones being deforestation for the growing of soya beans to fatten cattle for humans to consume.  Cutting out meat and dairy will have a hugely positive effect on the Amazon, safeguarding the plants that will one day, no doubt, be used more widely to cure illnesses that presently can only be treated with powerful chemical drugs with many side effects.

Shades view

Shades view

A WORD ON WELSH WEATHER

(Always an interesting conversation in North Wales.  We had hail stones the other day like ping pong balls.  It sounded like the world was being pummelled with marbles!) Its been chilly up here in North Wales and the plants are taking it slowly this year. Basically, not growing. We are about to put our crop of seedlings out into the veg patch, but if things don’t get alot drier and sunnier, we fear stunted beetroots and shy cabbages. Come on SUN! Trigonos (is our local organic/ biodynamic veggie farm) is growing a load of veggies this year and hopefully soon we’ll have some local seasonal veggies to play with. At the minute we are turning to things like sweet potato regularly, primarily because they are one of the most nutritious (see ‘Foodie Fact’ below) and delicious things that could ever pass your hungry lips.

Doing the not-so-famous 'Wine Crane' yoga pose

Doing the not-so-famous ‘Tipsy Crane’ yoga pose

ULTIMATE SPINACH!

Jane makes me a mix CD for my birthday every year, last year we had the magnificence of ‘Wild Honeypie’ which contained alot of tracks from the awesome snowboarding movie ‘Valhalla‘. This years offering is ‘Hazy Daze’ and I’ve popped a couple of the tunes at the bottom of this post. To give you an idea of what we’re grooving to when peeling our radiant orange spuds. Its fair to say that ‘Ultimate Spinach’ are our new favourite band for so many reasons.

So, a simple curry which we hope you make with big smiles and eat with loved ones and laughterXXXXxx

Jane getting out little birthday picnic ready

Jane getting our little birthday picnic ready – the Beach House Garden

The Bits – For 4

850g sweet potatoes (peeled and chopped into 2 inch chunks)

1 large onion (sliced)

1 large pepper (deseeded and cut into 2 inch chunks)

1 large courgette

2 large tomatoes (roughly diced)

1 chilli (finely diced) or 1/2 teas chilli flakes

2 inches ginger (roughly grated)

250ml soya milk

2-3 tbs smooth peanut butter

1 tbs vegetable oil

1 teas sea salt

 

Spices

2 teas cumin seeds

1 1/2 teas mustard seeds

1 teas fenugreek seeds

 

1 teas ground turmeric

2 teas ground coriander

1/2 teas ground cardamom or 4 cardamom pods

Just about ready - Curries up!

Just about ready – Curries up!

Do It

In a large frying pan, warm the vegetable oil and add the spice seeds (only).  Leave them to fry and pop for 30 seconds and then add the onion.  Stir well and add 1 tbs of water if the pan is getting too hot.  This helps to prevent the spices from sticking and potentially burning.  Fry and stir for 5 minutes, when the onions are golden, add the ginger, chilli and sweet potatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.  Making sure you stir regularly.

Now add the ground spices to the pan, stir well and add the tomatoes with 2 tbs water.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Now add the soya milk, courgettes and pepper, turn the heat up a little and bring the curry to a boil. Lower the heat and cover and cook for roughly 5-7 minutes, until the courgettes are soft with some crunch still.  If you plan on serving the curry later, cook only for a few minutes, the veggies will cook through when you come to re-heating the curry.

Just before serving, stir in the peanut butter.  If you really like peanuts, go for 3 tbs, 2 tbs will give a light, nuttiness.

Serve

Would be lovely with some freshly chopped coriander, brown rice and all your favourite curry accompaniments. A spiced chutney of some sort will be magnificent!  To add even more nutrition by adding a few handfuls of spinach to the finished curry and stirring them in.

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potato (Vegan)

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potato (Vegan)

Foodie Fact

Sweet potato is one of our favourite ingredients.  Its such a treat in so many ways, just roasted in its jacket is something sublime.  Sweet potato (also called Yam) is grown all over the world, there are actually over 200 varieties.  The insides of these potatoes can be purple, cream, yellow, pink, white….  They are originally from Central and South America, one of the oldest foods known to man, nowadays the worlds largest producer is China. Sweet potato is one of the finest sources of beta-carotene, raising our Vitamin A levels.  Eating sweet potatoes with a little fat, i.e. the vegetable oil in this recipe, helps the body absorb the beta-carotene. These vivid tubers also contain lots of Vitamin C and Manganese.

Categories: Curries, Healthy Eating, Music, Nutrition, photography, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Happy Birthday Blueberry Spelt Slices (and brownies and cookies…)

Hi everyone it’s Jane here!

I have snuck into the beach house kitchen blog to post this in complete secret…

So without further ado, a Big Beach House-y Happy Birthday to you Lee!

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I made some chocolate brownies, blueberry slices and some of Lee’s brazil nut and spelt chocolate chip cookies from ‘Peace and Parsnips’ for the special day! Lee is working today so they had to be gorgeous but transportable and that’s why I opted for the kind you can cut into squares and share around…. Roll on the 10 o’clock tea break down at the Retreat Centre!

Spelt chocolate chip cookies from 'Peace and Parsnips'

brazil nut choc chip cookies from ‘Peace and Parsnips’

Cooking these cakes was so much fun, and I had such a great time covering the kitchen in flour(!) while sieving and grooving to a very cool album… not so much fun clearing up, but I felt compelled to share with you the experience anyway and post some pictures so that you can be with us from afar!

I love baking, and I tend to start with a recipe from a cookbook and see what happens…. Sometimes I go way off-piste and create something totally new, other times I stick to the recipe religiously. Both are interesting and produce unexpected results…!

The blueberry slices recipe originally came from ‘The Vegan Baker’ by Dunja Gulin and I changed it in a couple of places, but gosh I recommend you try it! I munched on a quick slice with a cup of tea this afternoon (pure research you know, checking to see if they were cooked properly..!) and they were delicious!

Lee’s birthday blueberry spelt slices

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The bits

260g/2 cups unbleached spelt flour

65g/ ½ cup plain wholemeal / wholewheat flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon vanilla powder

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

a few pinches of ground turmeric

250ml plain soya yoghurt

30ml soya milk

170g / 2/3 cup maple syrup

100g coconut oil

freshly squeezed juice and zest from one lemon

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 cups blueberries

Do it!

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together (that’s the flours, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt, vanilla powder, cinnamon and turmeric).

Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl (that’s everything apart from the fruit, because that goes on top). You may need to mash the coconut oil with a fork a little to get it to mix.

Mix them together really gently keeping the air inside the mixture, if it looks a little dry here you can add a tiny more soya milk.

Gently spoon into a baking pan (23cm x 30cm is best) and get it fairly level without squashing the mixture down (the aim is to keep the air in the mixture). Scatter the fresh blueberries over the top making sure there are gaps between to stop the cake going soggy.

Put the cake into pre-heated oven (180 degrees, gas 4 or 375 farenheit) for 30-35 minutes and when it comes out it should be golden on top.

Allow it to cool in the pan and once it is nearly cold gently lift onto a wire rack. When it has cooled completely you can cut it into squares. Mine were nice big squares and I got 16.

serve

Drizzled in maple syrup…Yummm!

Enjoy the pictures, and if you have a chance and would like to leave Lee a message that would be fabulous!

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Have a great Day,

Love Jane Xx

Ps Thanks Dunja for great recipe idea from your book 🙂 Love it!

Categories: Recipes, Special Occasion, Treats, Uncategorized, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Braised Maple Parsnips with Young Nettles

 

Pan Roast Maple Parsnips and Young Nettles

Braised Maple Parsnips with Young Nettles

An ideal, quick and easy side dish and we are quite partial to the odd parsnip at the moment!  Throw some grains into this recipe (like millet or buckwheat) and a couple oh handfuls of walnuts or hazelnuts and you’re looking at a fine lunch.

Don’t let the bristly stings put you off, nettles are one of natures greatest gifts to Brits, they come just after winter and are packed with brilliant nutrients (see the ‘Foodie Fact’ below) that will help us get over our long winter blues. You can make them into a soup, stew, smoothie, pan fry them as they are; in fact these prickly lovelies are good in most things.  Nettle cupcakes may be pushing it however!

Nettles have a lovely flavour, quite unique, a little like spinach but with a unmistakable nettle tingle to them.  Nettles really feel alive, they are certainly a feisty plant and grow everywhere when given the chance.  The worst  thing you can do with nettles is cut them and leave them on the ground.  More will grow!  This is a good thing for us but can wreak havoc on your Dahlias.

HARVESTING NETTLES

Harvesting nettles is so easy, just handle with care.  We have been walking loads at the moment, reacquainting ourselves with all the local flora and fauna.  We normally stash a plastic bags in our pockets and use it for nettle picking.  A rubber glove, like a marigold or garden glove, can also be very handy.  If you are walking on a path, where people walk dogs, pick high.  For obvious reasons!!!  Some people even pick the nettle bare handed, apparently if you grab them quickly, it doesn’t hurt.  We have obviously not mastered this technique. OUCH!

Jane feeding our neighbourly horses - mid Nettle pick

Jane feeding our neighbourly horses – mid Nettle pick

Nettle season is coming to an end, but it seems that there are still many tender young plants around the Beach House.  Just pick the first four leaves down, anything below will be a little tough and coarse.  As with most leaves, don’t eat nettles when they have started to flower.  Something happens chemically and they lose their nutrients and become tough on the belly.

Fill your boots.  Now is the time of year to get your last batch of nettles and dry them for later in the year.  You can use dried nettles in soups and stews, but its really best as a tea.  Nettle tea is packed with nutrients and tastes delicious.  Free food!  We’d be silly not to!!!!  You can also make a load of tea and then cool it, strain it and keep it in the fridge and drink throughout the summer as an awesome, chilled infusion and full-body tonic.  Trust us, nettles are magic and will keep you shining!

One of the easiest ways to dry herbs, if you don’t have a dehydrator (they are becoming cheaper and more popular), is to lay your leaves out in the boot (for estates) or seats of a car and roll the windows up.  On a hot summers day, your herbs will dry out in no time at all.  You can dry herbs in a warm oven, but this can be energy consuming and hit and miss.  Sometimes they can burn.  Ideally, you live in a hot and dry part of the world, where drying means putting things outside in the sun.  In Wales, we have to be a little more creative!

I like to add a little lemon juice at the end, just to lift a little of that intense sweetness.  It gives a bit of a sweet and sour finish to the dish.  If you love sweet things straight up, you don’t have to bother with the citrus.

The Bits – For 4 (little plates), 2 (big plates)

5 medium sized parsnips (lightly scrubbed, but not peeled.  Cut into 3 inch batons or as you like)

6-8 big handfuls young nettles

1 tbs rapeseed oil

2 tbs maple syrup

1/2 tbs lemon juice

Sea salt and pepper (to taste)

Do It

Pick all the stems, insects etc off your gorgeous nettles (use your gloves for this), give them a good rinse.  We just want the small, tender, fuzzy leaves.  Get a small saucepan of salted water boiling.  Add the nettles to the water and blanch them for 30 seconds or so, then plunge into some cold water (keeping them vividly green).  Drain well just before serving.  If you want them warm, just blanch them before you serve the parsnips and don’t bother with the ‘plunge’.

In a large, heavy frying pan, warm the oil on a medium high heat.  Add the parsnips, toss in the oil and fry for around 7 minutes, until they begin to go golden and caramelised.  Then add roughly 2 tbs of water and cover with a lid, lower the heat to medium and leave them for 7 more minutes.

Then whip off the lid and turn the heat back up.  Pour over the maple syrup, gently toss the parsnips in the syrup and cook until you are happy with the beautiful, dark, caramelised glaze, a few minutes will do, then squeeze in a little lemon juice.

Braised Maple Parsnips with Young Nettles

Braised Maple Parsnips with Young Nettles

Serve

Stack the parsnips onto a nice plate, surround with a nettle ‘nest’ and tuck in.  You may fancy a little more salt and pepper.

Foodie Fact – Nettles

Nettles are actually more nutritious than Broccoli or spinach.  And they are free.  How cool is that!  I wonder how long until one of the big supermarkets starts to bag them up and sell them as a ‘niche’ product?

Eating nettles helps to keep our kidneys and adrenal glands up to speed.  Nettles are the perfect detox food, as they assist our bodies in expelling toxins.  These lovely leaves have also long been used as a diuretic and to treat joint pains.

Nettles are very high in Vitamin A (bones), K (blood clotting) and Calcium.  In fact, just 100g of nettles contains 1/2 your daily calcium requirement.  Calcium can help to alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, headaches, mood swings and bloating.

Nettles are also rich in minerals like Iron and Magnesium and are packed with dietary fibre.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Detox, Foraging, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Side Dish, Spring, Wild food | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Once more, just for kicks.....

Once more, just for kicks…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Viva Vegan (peaceful, bright and bountiful food)xxxx 

 

 

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

Waste Not, Want Not – Our Top Larder Tips

Beach House Maramalade (made en Espana)

Beach House Maramalade (made en Espana)

Maintaining a decent larder/ store cupboard can be tough. The larder is really the backbone of any passionate cooks foodie arsenal.  We need our dried goods, spices, grains, magic potions etc to be in special, pristine condition to produce wonderful food.  It takes time and some amounts of dedication to get it right.  It’s certainly not the most spontaneous, vibrant aspect of the joys of cooking, but its highly worthwhile, pretty much essential.  We have just cleared ours out after returning from India and a few top tips came to mind:

It’s all about rotation – keeping new things at the back and ‘to use’ things near the front helps loads. Its a visual thing, you can’t remember everything that is lurking in the larder shadows. Spend a few minutes, regularly, opening jars and inspecting the contents. Sniff and occasional taste tests may be required. Ditch what looks like its past its best and if there is a whiff of mustiness, definitely escort it to the bin. Nuts especially should be cared for and used quickly. If they are in their shells, they keep for a long time. Otherwise, keep an eye on them. A rancid nut is no fun and can be quite bad for you.

Have a good stash jars handy – keep loads of empty, clean jars or plastic containers (ex-yoghurt pots etc) to decant spices, grains, sugar etc into. They keep better, we try not to leave anything in packets once opened. Unless they are those clever re-sealable ones. But…….

Keep some pegs handy – Pegs are great. They come in really handy sealing things when you inevitably run out of jars and platic pots.

Tea bags keep powders dry – If you pop a tea bag in with salt and sugar, this will help to keep them dry.

Buy spices as seeds or whole – and then grind them yourself using a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder. You can even make your own spice mixes. Buying whole spices seriously lengthens their longevity. Ground spices should really be used quickly, within weeks, even when stored in a air tight container.

Bardsey Island Apple and Plum Chutney

Bardsey Island Apple and Plum Chutney

Buy local and in bulk – we buy most locally if we can, generally this means the produce is always in good condition and hasn’t been messed with on long journeys and in storage. We are lucky to be surrounded by some wonderful producers and suppliers, as I’m sure you are also. They are everywhere!

We also like to use the co-operative Suma for all larder items. They will deliver, but it needs to be over a certain amount. Get a load of friends together is our advice. A sack load of chickpeas keeps well and will make you feel wealthy beyond your wildest dreams.

Label Things – This may sound like a step towards librarian-hood, but having a few blank stickers handy means knowing you’re cumin from your coriander and importantly, your chilli from your paprika at a glance. It also means that you can be creative and decorate your jars and pots with imaginative doddles that make people smile. Labelling also means that you don’t double up on buying things.

Dry/pickle your own – This can be lots of fun, but a little hectic in the glut months of Autumn when piles of precious berries, fruits and veggies are filling the kitchen.  Some late night jammin’ and picklin’ may be in order.  A few pickling/ preserving techniques and basic chutney/ jam recipes up your sleeve can make this time of year a joy.  Preserving the beauty of harvest time for later months when blooming nature seems very distant.  Homemade raspberry jam (we make it sugar free) in January is one of life’s great treats!

Here are a few recipes for picklin’ and preservin’ from the B.H.K library:

Beachu Kimchi

Beetroot, Apple and Caraway Sauerkraut

Apple and Plum Chutney

Chilli Onion Marmalade

5 Minute Fig and Prune Compote

Simple Blackcurrant Compote

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Categories: Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Peace and Parsnips – Our New Cookbook with Penguin (Out May 7th)

WE WROTE A COOKBOOK!  PEACE AND PARSNIPS

Just a quickie to let all our lovely followers of the B.H.K that we did a cookbook and its coming out very soon with the great folk at Penguin. Pure vegan, pure delicious and packed with stunning pictures of the Beach House and beyond.  We couldn’t have done it without all of your inspiration and encouragement along the way.

Peace and Parsnips is simple and decadent, spicy and sultry, moreish and quite an  eye full.  There are recipes here for everyone, we’ve even tested them on all on ravenous carnivores and they smiled and asked for seconds.  YES!

(The veggie prints on the front cover were hand printed by Sarah, our amazing Art Designer, and her daughter on a Sunday afternoon.  How lovely is that!)

“This book will rock your concept of vegan cooking – join the meatless revolution and the trend for cooking healthy, hearty food! Nutritious, cheap, easy, diverse and mouth-wateringly delicious, Lee Watson is set to reinvent the way we think about vegan cookery with an incredible range of styles and flavours. Packed full of fantastic recipes that range from basic bites to gourmet delights. This vegan tome is the answer to all your cookery needs, whether you’re a vegan or just want to give it a go. Burgers, curries, salads, pies and sweet treats, this is a book that will appeal to everyone – including carnivores! Welcome to Peace & Parsnips, the ultimate vegan cookbook.”

We are very, very, very happy with the book.  It looks AMAZING and the recipes really shine and the food photographs are just plain sexy!  Some beautiful shots of the Welsh landscape and plenty of Jane and I cooking up many storms and trays/ bowls of full power vegan goodness.  You’ll even see us surfing, hiking in the hills, attacking sandwiches, sitting under a waterfall and laughing.  Lots of laughing.  IT WAS FUN!

We  have filled ‘Peace and Parsnips’ with the recipes that make us smile and shine; Portobello and Pecan Burgers, Macadamia and Blueberry Cheesecake, Kashmiri Turnip and Spinach Curry, Oven Baked Squash Gnocchi, Asparagus and Cashew Tart…..there are over 200 shimmering purely plant-based recipes to get stuck into! There’s even a section on making your own nut, bean and lentil milks.

You can pre-order the book HERE for a special 5 pounds off.

We will be sharing excepts and bits from the book on The Beach House Kitchen as we move towards the launch date.  As you can imagine, Jane and I are getting quite excited about it all!!!!!

We’ll also be doing alot of stuff on our facebook and twitter pages.  Follow us there for more vegetal fun, games and deliciousness……..

VIVA VEGAN!!!!Xx

Categories: Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Toasted Cashew and Green Pepper Pulao plus the healthy magic of Cinnamon

Toasty Cashews.  YUMAH!

Toasty Cashews. YUMAH!

Toasty cashews with sweet peppers and a raft of spices and fluffy rice.  Its all there.  Indians taking a staple dish way up there towards Nirvana and beyond!!!!!!

A simple rice dish (don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients) with some seriously tasty touches.  Toasted cashews are ever delicious.  Pulao is basically a side dish, but can really be a main course, something like a Biryani for example, with a few more veggies and a little more spice.  Pulao is like a toned down cousin of Biryani.  Just like all Indian food, flavours here are turned up to 11 and the possibility of spice combing are fully explored.  This may seem like alot spices to be putting into your rice, but they are worth it and if you are interested in cooking Indian food, you will find that all of these spices are used almost on a daily basis in your average Indian kitchen.

In India this March, above the Himalayan snowline in a family home.  Dinner time was a huge highlight (we could warm out hands over the rice)

In India this March, above the Himalayan snowline in a family home. Dinner time was a huge highlight (we could warm out hands over the rice)

A SPICY CONUNDRUM 

When you see the recipes for many Indian dishes you are immediately confronted with the sheer length and seemingly mind boggling array of spices in even a simple dish.  Do not fret, once you get them all together and start cooking more Indian food, your dhaba (spice rack) will become your best friend.  I always bang on about this, but keep your spices in sealed containers and preferably in the fridge (if you live in a hot place or your central heating is potent).  Don’t mix strong smelling spices with, like Hing (Asafoetida) with other spices, they’ll all be tinged with the funk of hing.  Get your spices ready, in one bowl if possible, before hand.  Then when the pan is hot and the spatula is flying, you can simply pour them in with no real fuss.  Bear  in mind however that some spices are better added earlier or later in the cooking process, depending on the dish/ spice.  Its a little complex really!  Being a bit organised with your spices beforehand saves you clambering around with slippy jars and unruly spice bags.

I’ve used brown rice and thrown some of my favourites, flax seeds in, but both are not exactly traditional.   If you use white rice, you could knock 10 minutes off the overall cooking time.

One of the main men in Nainital market.  Great onions.  India '15

One of the main men in Nainital market. Great onions. India ’15

The Bits

1 tbs cooking oil (vegetable/ sunflower etc)

400g brown rice

600ml light vegetable stock

1 green pepper (as finely diced as you can)

1 handful of cashews (chopped in half lengthways, like half moons)

2 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed up or finely diced)

1 large tomato (finely diced)

 

Spices

1-2 large red chilli (dried and cut lengthways, remove seeds for less heat)

6 green cardamom pods (split)

1 small cinnamon stick (2 inches long)

5 cloves

6 green cardamom pods (split)

1 teas cumin seeds

1 teas fennel seeds

½ teas nigella seeds

1 tbs flax/linseeds

 

Optional Topping

1 handful toasted cashews

1 handful fresh coriander leaves (roughly chopped) – we didn’t have any (soz)

Fried Pulao - Just add a few tomatoes

Fried Pulao – Just add a few tomatoes for a super simple lunch treat

Do It

In a large saucepan, with a good fitting lid, warm the oil on medium high heat and add the green peppers, fry them for a couple of minutes before adding the cumin and nigella seeds, stir for a minute and then add the rest of the spices and garlic, stirring all the time.  Cook these for a minute and then it’s time to pour in the rice and tomatoes.  Combine all the ingredients well and leave to warm through for yet another minute.

Pour over the stock and turn the heat up a little until the rice is vigorously boiling.  Now place a well fitting lid over the rice and turn the heat down to minimum.  Leave to steam away for 40-45 minutes (white rice, know off 10 minutes cooking time).

While the rice is cooking, grab a small frying pan and on medium heat, add the cashews and toast them gently.  Tossing them about, getting them nice and coloured.  Toasty.  Gorgeous.  Dark golden.

Once cooked, have a peak, the rice should be nice and fluffy.  With a fork, being careful not to scratch your nice, non-stick pan (if you are lucky enough to have one), gently tease and fluff the rice.  If you like added richness, you can add a drizzle of oil here and coat the rice.  It gives nice shine and richness and would be condone by most Indian cooks I know, although they would probably add a good knob of ghee.  Pop the lid on and leave to sit for a few minutes before serving.  The final, fragrant mingle……

Side/Main Dish (just add spoons)

Toasted Cashew and Green Pepper Pulao – Side/Main Dish (just add spoons)

Serve

Pulao is an occasion.  Mix in most of the cashews.  Warm a platter and pile it in the middle, this makes for a lovely centre piece for any Indian feast.  Or you can line some tea cups with cling film and spoon the pulao into them, packing it down quite well.  Turn the cups over, onto the plate you’re using for serving and gently lift off the cup.  This will leave you with a very neat and professional looking pile of rice.  Scatter with some freshly toasted cashews and a little fresh coriander.

Foodie Fact

All these spices are so very good for you.  At random let me pick cinnamon, a serious, serious anti-oxidants.  So much so, that it should be offered in all pharmacies across the country to treat and prevent things like colds.  Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties, it can help to stabilise insulin and hormones and can even help against heart disease.

Spices are our natural friends and the more spices you can add to your food, namely cook plenty of food from India or the Middle East, the healthier you will no doubt be.  Imagine the cumulative effects of eating decent amounts of cinnamon, fennel seeds, cloves, cumin, coriander…………….you’ll live a healthy life until you’re 200 (with some decent karmic conditions along the way).

JUST ADD SPICEX

Jane in Norbulingka Palace, Dharamasala, India '15

Jane in Norbulingka Palace, Dharamasala, India ’15

Categories: Curries, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Side Dish | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 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

Beach House Radio – Our top choppin’ tunes

Some of our top tunes to chop to………..

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Categories: Music | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Why did the Beach House Kitchen go vegan?

 

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Behold! The Veggie King…..

WHY VEGAN?

What we eat has never been so important.  We are blessed with the choice to eat what we want.  At the B.H.K., we believe that going vegan is the most important decisions you could make in terms of your own health, the planets health and the welfare and prosperity of our animal friends.  Veganism is the ultimate expression of peaceful intent for the future.  We will never judge anyone for doing otherwise, we were both very much into bacon sarnies, but here is how we feel…………..

Veganism is just a name, we all eat loads of vegan food everyday.  If you eat vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruits, you are part vegan already!  Hoorah!!!!  Choosing a vegan diet, even if its just every now and again, is not about sufferance.  You are not giving anything up, you are actually gaining loads!  Vegan food is outrageously flavourful and moreish, naturally leading to weight loss and energy gains.  Thinking vegan leads to new and healthy habits and highlights the importance of a balanced and nutritious diet.  Taking a step towards veganism leads to a giant leap forward in our collective sustainability.  All we need are open minds (and mouths!)

TAKING THE PLANT-BASED PLUNGE

Jane and I have been vegan/ vegetarians for a while now, and more than two years ago, I decided to take the plunge and become full-power vegan (Jane is still eating her homemade Kefir and loves a very occasional Indian Railway style Chai).  If you look back into the Beach House Kitchen library, you will find vegetarian dishes with cheese and egg, but no more.  We are full plant power and loving every plateful!  We have gone through the whole process, from carnivore to herbivore and we know exactly what its like to be curious about a vegan diet, to giving bits and pieces up and finally blooming into full blown vegan-hood.

We were first attracted to vegan food by its creativity and vibrancy.  It really seems like the food for a brighter future.  It all seemed so beautifully fresh and tantalising.  In our experience, eating vegan food has made us feel lighter and brighter, with oodles of well being and energy.  I know we all say that, but its true!  We have never felt so darn healthy and vivacious.

As a cook, vegan food takes you to a new levels of plant-based deliciousness, it is cooking that is laced with constant surprises!  Rich, robust, refined, raw, ravishing…….all that and much, much more.  Organic plant foods are clean and superbly nutritious, there is no need for dairy or meat in our diets anymore.  We can choose a new way to eat.  Munching and cooking a balanced and creative vegan diet is such a joy and is never, ever dull.  It is inexpensive and simple.  Anyone can do it (we did!)  Vegan food worships good produce and is constantly looking for fresh and interesting ways of creating magical meals.  Hopefully we tap into that enthusiasm here on the B.H.K.

A NATURAL PROGRESSION

Avoiding meat and dairy all together seemed a very natural progression, especially when based on environmental and ethical evidence (some of the challenging facts and figures can be found here).  The closer we get to nature and the more we learn about the impact of large scale meat and dairy production, the more we realised that this is the only way for us to express our hopes and dreams for the future.  Becoming a vegan has a massive effect on the environment; our own health and the well being of animals.  It is a no-lose decision and can only lead to a more peaceful existence for all.

Leaving meat and dairy off your plate is a powerful message and a stance against all forms of cruelty.  The suffering that animals endure to provide generally unnecessary nutrients to humans seems utterly wrong.  Meat and dairy not only harm the body by labouring it with saturated fats and cholesterol, which inevitably lead to a long term degradation of health, but also see us collectively condoning the destruction of our beautiful planet.

Gorgeous Raf Tomatoes – Too Sexy

A MINDFUL DIET

We are more conscious now of what we eat, we don’t just wolf it down anymore.  We feel more in tune with our bodies and far more creative with our cooking; having to combine a greater number of ingredients and textures to create delicious dishes.  Veganism has made us focus much more on our diets and how they effect our body and mind.  We have also learnt a lot more about nutrition and have come to realise that we are what we eat!  And most mass-produced food is just not up to scratch.  Food made in factories by machines just seems wrong, for a start, there is not love there.  Our food needs bags of love.

We both found that when you begin to give up foods that are doing you no good (we all instinctively know what these are) fatty nibbles, alcohol, caffeine, sugar etc, it is tough.  But the cravings gradually slip away and you feel uplifted.  Our bodies need good, clean, easy to digest fuel.  Namely, plant based food.  Foods that make you shine!

WHERE’S THE FUN IN IT?!

A friend of mine said to me “Where’s the fun in it?!” refering to a healthy diet.  I can assure you, there is still plenty of fun in the Beach House, just minus the lamb chops.  Healthy eating doesn’t have to be stuffy and rigid, there are endless recipes that are absolutely delicious and an incredible palate of ingredients and flavours to play with.  It does take a little change of the palate and a new approach to the way that you eat and subsequently live, but after a short while it becomes perfectly normal.  Your palate becomes more sensitive, with less exposure to rich and overly seasoned foods and you can enjoy the subtle flavours of ingredients and simpler foods.

Homegrown plums anyone?

Homegrown plums anyone?

NO PURITANS PLEASE

This is not a puritanical vegan/ vegetarian blog, we will never preach from an upturned potato crate.  We ate meat for years ourselves and enjoyed it very much.  We do however feel that there is a collective shift taking place, we are all realising that plants have to take a larger role in our diets, not just for our own sake, but to attempt to reverse the damage that we are doing to the earth.

VEGAN FOR ALL!

We try to make our dishes appeal to all tastes and most of our carnivorous friends love dinners at the Beach House (even my Dad, who suffers from acute pork addiction!).  You’ll our recipes are bursting with flavour and nutrients and we love a good plate of food, so the portions are always hearty and satisfying.  Our food is cooked from the heart, it’s real (good for the) soul food!

If you interested in learning more about a vegan/ vegetarian lifestyle, please see the ‘links’ section which is full of interesting veggie related blogs and sites or leave a comment beneath a post or email us (thebeachhousekitchenwales@gmail.com).  We’d love to hear from you.

We are even on twitter and facebook.

With a little bit of nutritional know-how and bags of glorious veggies, we believe that anybody can leave meat and dairy off their plates and live a very healthy, balanced and energetic life.

Beach House blackberries.  Yum!

Beach House blackberries. Yum!

Here are some recent BHK posts about veganism:

Veganz vs Meaties = A futile fight with only one losers…..

Why on earth are are we eating meat?

Reasons to be Vegan, 1,2,3……………

Why Raw food?

Why cats cannot be vegetarians

Vegan Inspirational Quotes pt 1

Vegan Inspirational Quotes pt 2

Vegan-ity hits the U.K.!

Raw Earth Month

Jump in!

And some interesting and informative vegan websites based in the UK:

The Vegan Society

Veganuary

Viva!

Veganism makes the world a better place for us all, one forkful at a time.

Viva Vegan!!!!!!!!xxxXXxxx

Lee and Jane

Categories: Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Inspiration, Nutrition, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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