Posts Tagged With: vegetarian

‘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

Griddled Ruby Grapefruit and Beetroot Salad with Toasted Cobnuts and Aronia Berry Dressing

 

Chargrilled Ruby Grapefruit, Beetroot, and Cobnut Salad with Aronia Berry Dressing

Chargrilled Ruby Grapefruit, Beetroot, and Cobnut Salad with Aronia Berry Dressing

We’ve had a real foodie time of it recently and this salad reflects that.  Not only have I picked up some amazing produce at Ludlow and Beaumaris Food Festivals, but I have also been inspired by the chefs I’ve met.  This is a salad that is caught between summer and autumn, quite apt in September.  It’s also caught somewhere between a restaurant table and home kitchen.  Do not fear, all of the these ingredients are easily interchangeable and there is only a few, quick, prep steps.

This dish is a looker and is something you could serve at dinner party and it would go down a treat.  Its full of bold flavours and the Aronia berry vinegar really lights things up.  Like all salads, its a perfect way of expressing gorgeous produce.  We have made these portions main course size, but you could easily scale things down and serve as a starter.

Some of the special bits; cobnuts (from Ludlow), organic beetroots from Tyddyn Teg and Aronia Berry Vinegar

Some of the special bits; cobnuts (from Ludlow), organic beetroots from Tyddyn Teg Farm and Aronia Berry Vinegar

I think this is the best way to cook beetroots.  Although my mind does change often. I also love charring citrus.  Aine Carlin reminded me how cool charring citrus can be with this simple and delicious dessert recipe ‘Cashew Cream and Griddled Oranges’.  Check it out on youtube.  Aine’s new cookbook is out soon, which is very exciting news.

WHAT’S A COBNUT THEN?

Basically its a hazelnut.  This is the perfect time of year to pick them up and when they are fresh and young, they are plump and have a light, creamy taste and a texture similar to coconut.  They are lighter than a hazelnut when roasted and something that is well worth a try.  Cobnuts were only introduced to the UK in the 19 th century and they are famously from Kent.  In this salad they bring crunch and richness.   Use them as you would use a hazelnut.

Cobnuts -de-shelled and soaked

Cobnuts -de-shelled and soaked

ARONIA BERRIES

We met a lovely group of people at Beaumaris, Beri Da, who are growing Aronia berries in the next valley from us.  Incredible to think that these things are happening so close and you miss them!  We have tried a lot of food and nibbles over this weekend, but some really stand out.  Beri Da is certainly one of them.  Everything they produce is delicious and something a little different.

Beri Da is a small family ran business and you can read more about their story here.  Aronia berries are like blueberries but more intense and packed with even more antioxidants and good stuff.  They are native to North America but are increasingly being grown in the UK.  They are thriving near Mount Snowdon and the guys have just planted even more bushes at the base of the mountain.  A very scenic place for superfoods to grow!

The Aronia vinegar we bought is very intense, fruity and fragrant. A little goes a long way.  We also have some chutney made with beetroot which is just too good to eat right now.  We need to hide it away and dream about it for a while.  Its fair to say that Aronia berries are going down well in the BHK.  We are hoping to pop over and help with the next harvest, I’m not sure how many berries are going to make the basket!

These beetroots were so good looking, I love that crazy, deep purple.

These beetroots were so good looking, I love that crazy, deep purple.

I’m going to write more about the brilliant producers we met over the weekend in our next post.  I’ll also let you know how our first cooking demo’s and book signings went at food festivals.  We started at one of the biggest and surely one of the best, Ludlow.  It was a blast!

VEGFEST 2015

If you haven’t voted in Vegfest 2015’s massive vegan poll, tututututututututttttt!  There are loads of vegan products, authors, suppliers etc to be voted for.  You’ll find ‘Peace & Parsnips’ in the ‘Best Vegan Cookbook’ catergory along with a host of other excellent plant based cookbooks.  The Vegfest is like the vegan Oscar’s and we’ll be down there doing a cooking demo.  Is going to be HUGE!  Exciting stuff.

Lets get cooking……

Recipe Notes:

When frying the beetroots you can use any fruit vinegar, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry etc but all will be different.  Some sweeter, some more potent.  You just need to taste and adjust accordingly.  For frying the beetroots you can also use balsamic vinegar and save your precious fruit vinegar for the dressing.

If you chargrill the grapefruit for too long, they will begin to fall apart.  Keep it to roughly a minute each side, we’re just looking for a few nice griddle marks to add a smokiness to the citrus flavours.  Its well worth the little extra hassle.

I have added avocado for a little bit of richness, but you could easily use cashew cheese or even well drained and marinated tofu.

Our Aronia berry vinegar is very potent, you may need to add more fruit vinegar to balance the dressing nicely.  It should be quite tart with good acidity and a nice twist of sweetness.

The rapeseed oil we use here is good quality, single press, made like olive oil-type stuff.  The flavour is sensational and we are loving Blodyn Aur or Bennett and Dunn.  Both excellent and part of a new wave of quality rapeseed oil producers in the UK.

This recipe makes just enough dressing.  Double the quantity if you’d like extra to be served on the table.

Nicely caramelised beetroots in Aronia berry vinegar - the smell was sensational!

Nicely caramelised beetroots in Aronia berry vinegar – the smell was sensational!

The Bits – For 4
6 medium beetroots (scrubbed and trimmed)
1 small cucumber (peeled and cut in 1/2 moons)
1 ruby grapefruit (peeled and cut into 1cm slices across)
2 handfuls de-shelled cobnuts or hazelnuts (toasted)
8 big handfuls beetroot leaves or spinach/ chard leaves (finely sliced, chop the stems too and keep separate for garnish)
1 avocado (peeled and cut into small chunks)
2 radish (thinly sliced)
2 big handful basil leaves
1 tbs rapeseed oil
2 teas aronia berry vinegar or other fruit vinegar (balsamic will do)

Aronia Berry Dressing
2 teas aronia vinegar (or other fruit vinegar)
3 tbs rapeseed oil
1/2 lemon juice
Pinch salt

Do It
In a saucepan, cover the beetroots with water and add 1/2 teas salt, bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Pop lid on and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the beetroots with a slotted spoon, keep the cooking broth to drink or use as a colourful stock. Pop the beets back in the pan and pop the lid back on.

Make the dressing by whisking everything together (with a fork if you like) in a small bowl.

Grab a griddle pan and very lightly oil, place on a high heat. When hot pop the grapefruit slices on. Leave to cook for a minute, they don’t take long. Flip them over using a thin spatula and cook for a minute on the other side. Now do the same with your cucumber slices. One minute each side. Set aside.

Peel the skin off the beetroots (you may like to wear clean marigolds or other plastic gloves for this job). Using a teaspoon helps to bring the skin away from the beet. Cut the beetroots in half lengthways and then each half into four even pieces. Warm the oil in a frying pan and fry the beetroots for 10 minutes, turning them regularly. You should get some nice colour on them. Add the vinegar and toss the beetroots to cover with vinegar, this will help them caramelise nicely.  Cook for 2 minutes and they’re ready to go.

On large plates, scatter the leaves and top with grapefruit, cucumber, cobnuts, beetroots, avocado, sprinkle over the sliced beetroot roots, radish and basil, drizzle liberally with dressing.

Chargrilled Ruby Grapefruit, Beetroot and Cobnut Salad with Aronia Berry Dressing

Chargrilled Ruby Grapefruit, Beetroot and Cobnut Salad with Aronia Berry Dressing

Serve
Best served when the beetroots are still warm. We had ours with some steamed whole grains (millet, green lentils and buckwheat) tossed in a little lemon juice and rapeseed oil.

Foodie Fact

Nuts are good for you.  Very good for you.  Little nutritional powerhouses they are.  Cobnut kernels contain 17% protein by dry weight, and about 15% fibre.  Cobnuts are rich in vitamin E and calcium. They also contain vitamin B1 and B6.  Not bad!

Our foodie weekend salad with all the trimmings

Our foodie weekend salad with all the trimmings

Categories: Autumn, Healthy Eating, Local food, Lunch, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nutty Apricot and Sesame Energy Balls plus the benefits of soaking nuts and seeds

Nutty Apricot and Sesame Energy Balls

Nutty Apricot and Sesame Energy Balls

I love these little energetic things. The perfect way of cramming loads of nutrition and energy into the smallest possible area. These little balls are packed with protein power and full-on flavour and are highly portable! They went down a treat yesterday, I had to share them with you.

Nuts and dried fruits are nutritional power houses and contain vast amounts of good stuff; sugars and fats. The last two should of course be enjoyed in moderation and these little balls are perfectly portion controlled. Unless you make them the size of a cricket ball ( I prefer more of a squash ball size and smaller) then you’ll be getting the optimum levels of everything you need from a revitalising, healthy between meal booster.

PLAY BALL!
I have kept these very simple and natural. No added flavours, just the nuts, seeds and fruit. I like to use seeds primarily because they taste amazing, but they are also less expensive and work just as well as nuts. I used a good mixture of nuts, but you can mix and match with whatever you have handy. Nuts like walnuts, cashews and almonds blend smooth, it is more tough to get a Brazil nut to play ball! This is great when mixed with other nuts, adds a crunchy texture. The same can be said for sunflower seeds, once soaked they blend up nicely, unlike pumpkin seeds which take a little more blitzing action. If you have a high powered blender, non of this really applies, as they will take care of anything you put into them. They’d quite happily blend a bean tin I’m sure (this is an untested theory).

BENEFITS OF SOAKING YOUR NUTS
I mention nut soaking quite a lot in Peace & Parsnips, I think its important to know about and can really accentuate the flavour, texture and nutritional properties of nuts and seeds. It takes a little forward planning but is very much worth it. Nutrients are tucked away in our food and in some occasions, are missed by our bodies. They are not available to the body, so we miss out on all the goodness. This is known as the ‘bio-availability’ of nutrients and soaking nuts in water before using them opens up the nutrients to be absorbed by the body. They have known this for thousands of years in India and soaked almonds are promoted within the Ayurvedic diet for a number of health boosting reasons.

Soaking nuts in water, preferably overnight, inhibits the potentially harmful effects of enzymes inhibitors, tannins and toxins in nuts.  Nature doesn’t want seeds and nuts to germinate until the right conditions are present, by soaking nuts and seeds we are creating these conditions.  They literally come to life!  Enzymes are essential to good health, just as important as minerals and vitamins.  Soaking releases more beneficial enzymes that our bodies love.  Most nuts also taste better after they have been soaked, they plump up nicely and become crisp.  We normally soak to order, but you can soak in bulk.  This just means that your nuts need to be dried out a little.  You can do this in a dehydrator or in a low oven.  The nuts can then be stored in a air tight container and used on cereals and salads.

TOP FIVE REASONS TO SOAK NUTS, SEEDS (AND LEGUMES)

1 – Increase the amount of vitamins, especially B vitamins

2 – Produce greater levels of beneficial enzymes

3 – To make digestion easier

4 – Allows easier absorption of protein

5 – To limit enzyme inhibitors, tannins and potentially harmful toxins

We soak nuts in warm water and some people add a little salt.  Cover the nuts and leave them overnight, between 7 – 24 hours is best.  That’s it!

REASONS TO LOVE TAHINI (AND SESAME SEEDS)

Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and is one of our favourite ingredients.  A wonderful source of vegan creaminess that creeps into dressings, sauces, stews/ curry’s or mixed with jam/ molasses/ maple syrup and lathered on toast and crackers.  Tahini normally comes in light and dark varieties, dark has a much more toasted, full flavour.  Its not only the delicious aspects of tahini that are attractive, nutritionally its a proper superstar, its is actually one of the best sources of calcium found in nature and also keeps your skin vibrant and muscles toned.  It contains 20% protein which is higher than most nuts and is high in very good fats of the unsaturated variety.   See our Foodie Fact below for more nutritional bits and pieces.

Feel free to sweeten them as you see fit (taste the mix before rolling up) but I think they are mighty fine with just the apricots.  Good dried apricots will not be bright orange.  Try and get some un-sulphured apricots, they are out there and well worth the effort and slightly higher expense.  Hunza apricots especially (from Afghanistan) are really interesting.  If you are living in an area where loads of apricots grow, you could dry your own and even use the kernels instead of nuts or seeds.  Apricot kernels are delicious and becoming quite popular in the UK.

We love to play around with combinations of nuts, seeds and flavourings. The possibilities are huge and its much more satisfying and cheaper to make these at home. The main thing is having a dried fruit to bind everything together, normally soaked so that they break down nicely into a sticky paste. Then add nuts and seeds to the equation, any type that takes your fancy and flavour with things like citrus zest, cocoa/ cacao, rose water, orange blossom water, vanilla extract, pomegranate molasses, spices……etc.  Energy balls are a medium for a healthy snack charged with all the nutrition we need when leading an active and healthy life.

Nice sticky mix

Nice sticky mix

The Bits – For 12-15 energy balls

300g mixed nuts and seeds (soaked in water for at least 7 hours beforehand.  I used cashew, walnuts, brazils and sunflower seeds)

150g dried apricots (soaked in water for at least 1 hour before hand)

4 tbs toasted sesame seeds

2-3 tbs light tahini

2-4 tbs sweetener (maple syrup, brown rice syrup etc)

Do It

Drain your nuts and place in your blender/ food processor.  Blend them for a minute of so, scraping down the sides of the blender a few times.  Add the drained apricots and continue to blend until a chunky paste is formed.  You can keep the apricot soaking water, its lovely and sweet.  The mix should be sticky, you will be able to form small balls with  it between our fingers.  Stir in the tahini and sweetener (if using).

Pour the sesame seeds onto a plate and spread out.  With damp hands (stops the balls sticking to your fingers) take a roughly squash ball sized amount of mix (3-4 tbsp) and roll in your palms into a ball.  Pop it onto the plate and roll in the sesame seeds.  Apply a little pressure when doing this to make them stick.  Place the finished ball onto a serving plate.  Repeat until all the mix is used up.

These energy balls will firm up in the fridge and keep well in a plastic container out of the fridge.   Of course, they will not be lasting that long…..!

Serve

These type of energy balls are designed to be portable and travel perfectly.  They are especially good sustenance when exercising, down the gym or hiking.  They are a boost anytime and sometimes I like to nibble one before a busy day in the kitchen.  Intensely nutritious and easy to roll.

Chocolate and Coconut Energy Balls

Chocolate and Coconut Energy Balls – a simple variation with walnuts, sunflower seeds, cacao, coconut and vanilla extract

Foodie Fact

Tahini is a great friend of the BHK.  Very high in many vitamin B’s and vitamin E.  It also contains lot of minerals like iron and potassium and contains chemicals that help our liver detox.  Tahini is alkaline which makes it easy to digest and helps with weight loss.  As mentioned above it is very high in protein and even higher in calcium.  Try a scoop of tahini in the morning instead of dairy products and you are covering yourself for calcium and a healthy raft of other things.

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Have you met Cosmos yet? He’s our new garden cat.  You may remember our dear Buster who has moved on…….where to we are not sure>  Cosmos is a character and it’s good to have him hanging out, lying down and occasionally purring.  Cats are great teachers in so many ways.

Cosmos - The new cat on the scene

Cosmos – The new cat on the scene

Categories: Desserts, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Charred Cauliflower Steaks with Coconut & 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: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Banana, Buckwheat & Walnut Slices – Yummy, easy and don’t cost the earth!

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Banana, Buckwheat & Walnut Slices – Vegan

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.

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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, Local food, photography, Recipes, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

No-Knead Pizza Dough

Roasted Med Veg Pizza with Toasted Peanut Pesto and White Bean Puree

Roasted Med Veg Pizza with Toasted Peanut Pesto and White Bean Puree

A super easy way to make pizza or flatbread dough and the best thing is that it sits happily in your fridge for days, waiting patiently to be used.  No knead, a few stirs with a trusty wooden spoon and the flour’s gluten develops in the fridge and leaving it this way makes for a full flavoured dough.

Making pizza is always a load of fun, especially when kids are thrown into the mix.  Jane’s niece and nephew were visiting this week so we had to get some pizzas in the oven!  Jane and I don’t eat much white flour at all, but pizza night is our one exception.  I like a whole wheat base, or other flour, but a white flour base just seems like a treat and traditional.  After visiting the south of Italy last year, I don’t think Jane and I’s approach to pizza and pasta will ever be the same.  We now have very regular Italian feasts and making your own pizza bases is superbly simple.   We have used plain, all purpose flour here, but finer ground flours like strong/ bread flour or even ’00’ flour would be interesting.  ’00’ especially makes for a pizza base with more texture, a bit more chewy.

I love the way that flavour develops in dough when left for a time, of course sourdough bread is amazing and its that patient build up to a fantastic bread that really makes it a special food, a cooking process that is riddle with magic and mystery.  Yeast is just a very interesting thing!  Given the right care and attention, it works wonders on our humble ground grains.

Vegan toppings are super healthy and we always try to get as many veggies on our pizza as possible.  The pizza we made last night has toasted peanut pesto (very similar to the recipe in Peace & Parsnips) and white bean puree on for added richness.  It also has a layer of reduced tomato passata, roasted Mediterranean vegetables and red onion.  Overall, a highly OTT and delicious affair that left all around the table (vegans and non vegans) commenting how tasty pizza can be when cheese-less.  I ate Marinara (just tomato sauce and the occasional, single basil leaf) in Italy for over two weeks and never got sick of it.  I think I’ve always appreciated the base as much as the toppings!?  We are not huge fans of vegan cheeses, other than the homemade variety.  We are ever open minded however.  We’d love to think that one day, some clever sort will invent a cheese that melts like a dream and is also full of healthy plant power.  Otherwise, we’ll stick happily to nut and bean based cheese-like happiness.

Have you ever tried a pizza with a cauliflower base?  Its not exactly traditional, but a delicious alternative to flour if you are gluten free or looking for something that radiates good health.  We may get a recipe together soon and pop it on the BHK.  In fact, we’re turning into a right pair of dough balls this week.  We’re going baking mad.  With loaves and cakes all over the place.  I have just made a chocolate and coconut loaf that I’d love to share here soon.  Chocolate toast!  We’ve been lathering it with our neighbours home grown raspberry jam.  We only managed a handful of raspberries this year from our juvenile bush.  What a difference the length of a garden makes, Dawn’s razzers are rampant!

Pizza dough ready for action and a random niece (lovely Martha)

comment Pizza dough ready for action and a random niece (lovely Martha)

The Bits – 4 medium pizza bases
325ml water (lukewarm)
1 1/2 teas yeast
2 teas salt
1/2 tablespoon brown rice syrup (or sugar)
85ml olive oil
475g unbleached all-purpose flour

Extra flour and oil (for finishing the bases)

The dough proves and matures nicely in the fridge adding good flavour and texture

The dough proves and matures nicely in the fridge adding good flavour and texture

Do It

Sprinkle the yeast into the warm water, stir and set aside for a few minutes.

Add all dry ingredients to a container, mix with a wooden spoon/ spatula.  Gradually pour in the water, mixing all the time.  Then pour in the olive oil, mixing as you go.  The dough with now be taking shape, give it a few more good stirs.  Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave to prove in a warm place for 2 hours.  Then cover again with cling film, loosely, and pop the dough into the fridge.  Use the next day.  This dough keeps nicely for 10-12 days in a fridge, you can use it little by little.  We have made double the quantity, meaning you’re sorted for pizza or flatbreads for over a week.  Very convenient.

Best to bring the dough out of the fridge an hour before you need it, let it get back to room temperature.  You can scoop some out with a spoon if you’re not using the full amount.  Maybe you’re just looking for a couple of quick flatbreads?

On a cool, well floured surface, knock the dough back by kneading it a few times.  You will need to sprinkle extra flour over here.  Sticky is good and will make a pizza base with great texture.  Once the dough is knocked back, cut into pieces.  One decent pizza base is about the size of a apple.  Wipe your surface down and lightly oil a piece of baking parchment (makes things a lot easier).  Rub some oil into your hands and begin to form the dough into your desired pizza shape.  Do this by stretching the dough with your finger tips and the heel of your hand.  I like my pizza thin crust, meaning roughly 1/2-1cm depth.  Use more oil on your hands if its sticking.

Gently lift the parchment onto a baking tray and set aside for 15 minutes before adding your toppings.   You may need to stretch out the dough again at this stage, it might shrink a little.  Bake in a very hot over (220oC+ fan) for roughly 8-10 minutes.  You may like to swap it around 2/3 of the way through cooking depending on your oven (one side can cook quicker than the other).  You know your oven!  The all have their own little characteristics.

Vegan Pizza!!!!!!

Vegan Pizza!!!!!!

Serve

This dough is highly versatile and can be rolled out into thin or thick flatbreads, depending on what you’re eating.  Just remember to leave it for 10-15 minutes before putting it into the oven for the yeast to wake up and do its thing.

Foodie Fact

There is really very little good to say nutritionally about white flour in general, other than stock up on nice healthy toppings (go vegan!) and then enjoy the deliciousness.  Maybe pencil in a few extra push ups or lengths of the pool (see below)….

Swimming off all that pizza down at Dinas Dinlle

Swimming off all that pizza down at Dinas Dinlle

Categories: Baking, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Italian Style Cannellini Beans with Pickled Chillies and Basil Oil

 

Italian Style Cannellini Beans with Pickled Chillies and Basil Oil

Italian Style Cannellini Beans with Pickled Chillies and Basil Oil

Jane and I have been down at Whitstable at my sisters wedding bash.  Laura and Paul were married on a beautiful beach in Cornwall, but this one was for all the family and other rabble!  It was a wonderful time, a marquee in the back garden, bright sunshine all day and Jane and I cooked up a Italian feast; plenty of antipasti to start with salads, tarts, stews etc later on.  We had a local band play a few tunes and then an impromptu talent contest from the semi-sozzled/ fully-sozzled revellers.  Stand up comics, musicians and spoken word enthusiasts.  It was a proper giggle.

A quick and easy breakfast/ brunch was in order the morning after.  Something with a bit of substance.  This is a nice change from your normal beans on toast!  I love my beans and like to play with flavours in the morning, of course, sometimes a classic beans on toast is in order (you know the brand!) But homemade beans are so much tastier and better for us. They also only take a few minutes longer to prepare and combined with the herb oil and chillies, tickles the tastebuds nicely.

The pickled chillies are essential here, you can easily make your own or buy them in, you’ll find them easily in your local shops.  I love the way Italians add cheeky chilli to things, just a tickle to get you interested.  I am more of a unabashed chilli muncher and therefore eat a few whole with my brekkie.  Probably not for everyone, but I learnt this trick in Mexico and it certainly cuts through the morning head mist.

After all the extravagance of wedding food, this was one of my favourite things to eat all weekend!  So simple and tasty, I had to share it with you.  Here we serve it with some smoked aubergine puree, which is not your normal breakfast fare, but as with all party menu’s, there were some brilliant leftovers to hoover up.

With the antipasti table

With the antipasti table

Use any greens here, spinach, kale etc……  They make all the difference for so many reasons.

I like to soak and cook dried beans. More flavour and better texture. But you can use two tins of beans if you like.

You will have a little basil oil left over, it seems wise to make a little more than needed.  Cover it with cling film and it will keep well for a couple of days.  The basil may discolour a little.  You may like to blanch it for 30 seconds in boiling water to stop this.  But that seems like a lot of hassle in the morning (especially after a wedding party!)

BIG CONGRATS TO LAURA AND PAUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Laura cutting Mums massive Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake

Laura cutting Mums massive Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake

The Bits – For 2 Healthy Appetites

480g cooked cannellini beans (2 tins or 250g dried beans – soaked overnight in plenty of cold water)

4 big handfuls of spinach/ kale leaves

2 teas dried oregano

2 teas paprika

3 tbs tomato puree

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)

1-2 tbs fruity olive oil

 

1 handful sun dried tomatoes (roughly chopped) – Optional deliciousness

 

Basil Oil

1 large handful basil leaves (very finely chopped)

1 large handful parsley (very finely chopped)

2 tbs lemon juice

1 large clove garlic (crushed)

75 ml olive oil

Large pinch sea salt

 

Sourdough Bread (for toast)

2 ripe tomatoes (chopped)

Pickled red chillies (as you like)

 

Do It

For the basil oil, stir all the ingredients together.  You can also pop it all into a good blender if you don’t fancy all the fine chopping.  Blitz until the herbs are broken down.

In a medium saucepan, on medium low heat, warm the beans, adding all the ingredients except the spinach leaves and olive oil.  Stir regularly on a low simmer for about 7 minutes, take off the heat and stir in the spinach leaves and olive oil (for optional richness).   Check the seasoning and then pop a lid on and get your toast and tomatoes ready.

Italian Brunch Beans

Italian Brunch Beans

Serve

Spoon the beans onto a plate with the toast, chillies and tomatoes.  Drizzle liberally with your herb oil.  Sit in the sun and dream of the Italian coastline and the aquamarine Med.  If its a brunch time, a chilled glass of Prosecco is perfectly acceptable.

Foodie Fact

It has been shown that around the world, cultures who eat a good amount of beans live longer.  There are of course other factors, but beans are just incredible for many reasons.   Beans are very low GI, making them a brilliant way to fuel up for a day, slowly releasing energy throughout the day.  Beans are of course full of fibre and certain chemicals which have a strong detoxifying effect on the body.  Plus, they are absolutely packed with pure plant protein with non of the nasty additions you get with animal proteins.  Beans may seems a little uninteresting to some, but they are really a magical wonder food!

Jane at sunset near The Old Neptune Pub, Whistable

Jane at sunset near The Old Neptune Pub, Whistable

Categories: Breakfast, Dressings, Healthy Eating, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Beetroot and Cumin Fritters with Horseradish and Dill Yoghurt

Beetroot and Cumin Fritters from Peace and Parsnips

Beetroot and Cumin Fritters from Peace and Parsnips

This is a recipe taken straight from ‘Peace and Parsnips’, a nice light summer lunch:

These little fritters are bursting at the seams with flavours, and the herbaceous horseradish yoghurt tops things off very nicely. A punchy, zesty sauce is perfect with any fried food, lighting the palate up. The sweet earthiness of the beetroot and the fragrance of cumin were, very simply, made for each other. I like to use any green peas or beans for this, but the edamame probably have the edge due to their nice crunchy texture, which adds an almost nutty bite to the fritters. Use any flour you like, but I prefer to keep them gluten free. Gram (chickpea) flour would work well.

The Bits

1 large potato, scrubbed and cut into cubes
125g firm tofu, drained and well mashed
40g buckwheat or wholewheat flour
a handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
300g beetroots, scrubbed and coarsely grated
a handful of edamame/green peas/ broad beans
1½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly ground
vegetable oil, for frying

For the garnish
1 big handful of watercress or spinach leaves
2 spring onions, thinly sliced

For the Horseradish & Dill Yoghurt

350ml thick unsweetened soya yoghurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp finely grated horseradish or 1½ tablespoons horseradish purée
a handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
a pinch of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Do It

Put the potato into a small pan, cover with water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cook for 25 minutes, until soft. Drain in a colander, mash well and leave to cool.

For the Horseradish & Dill Yoghurt, stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Season and drizzle with olive oil. This can be done well in advance.

Once the potato has cooled to handling temperature, mix with the tofu, flour, mint leaves, lemon, salt and pepper. Now gently mix in the grated beetroot and peas, until all is well combined – using your hands is best. We’d like these fritters to be chunky and packed full of texture.

In a large, heavy frying pan, dry-toast your cumin seeds on a medium-low heat for a minute. They should pop and give off a lovely aroma. Put them into a pestle and mortar and bash them up a little, then stir them into the fritter mix.

In the same pan, warm ½ tablespoon of oil on a medium heat, ensuring that the base of the pan is evenly covered with a film of oil. Spoon in 2 heaped tablespoons of fritter mix per go, pressing it down a little with the back of the spoon until roughly 1cm thick. Cook for 3–4 minutes on one side and slightly less on the other. Repeat until you have a few fritters cooking at the same time, and continue to cook in batches. Drain on kitchen paper and keep them warm in a low oven.

Serve

Warm and crispy on a bed of vibrant green watercress or spinach leaves, garnished with the spring onions and with the horseradish and dill yoghurt on the side.

 

This recipe appeared on the Happy Foodie site where I’ve done an interview and there are several other Peace and Parsnips recipes over there.

Peace and Parsnips has also been voted ‘Top Cookbook Debuts 2015’ and ‘Top 5 Vegetarian Cookbooks 2015’  We are super chuffed!!!!!

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Lunch, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Plantain Breakfast Burrito with Pico de Gallo

 

Plantain Breakfast Burrito with Pico de Gallo (Original Recipe from Peace and Parsnips)

Here’s the perfect Saturday morning Burrito packed with colours and all the flavours we love from Mexico.  If you can’t get your hands on a plantain, use potato instead and cook it for a little longer.

I spent six months in Mexico quite a long time ago now, driving around from North to South. The food memories (and parties) have always stayed with me.  In fact, you could say that a street taco changed my life!  It certainly changed my ideas about food and what constitutes ‘good food’ or ‘fine dining’.  I ate some of the best food of my life, huddled under a light bulb on a street corner or hanging out at a 24 hour taco stall.  Maybe it was all that Corona, but Mexico was one long feast and my eyes were opened to the complexity of Mexican food and its distinct regional influences.

Burritos are something we all know and are very much a meal in a wrap.   There are so many ways to fill a burrito, but in the morning, when you’re looking for something a little bit different, a plantain is a very versatile and nourishing amigo.  It brightens up your day from the very beginning!

This recipe and others from Peace and Parsnips were posted yesterday on the Hello! Magazine website, the article was all about Beyonce and her new vegan venture.  Maybe Beyonce would like a Burrito for brekkie tomorrow!  Check it out.

Taken from Peace and Parsnips:

Most of us need a quick breakfast that is easy to prepare, and burritos are ideal. In Mexico, home of the burrito, breakfast differs from lunch in only minor detail – restaurants serve dishes almost identical to any other time of day. Pico de gallo is a classic, and easy enough to assemble for breakfast – although having a bowl of pico de gallo in your fridge is never a bad idea at any time of day. It can be found all over Mexico and Central America and bizarrely translates as ‘beak of rooster’. If you’re not serving your burrito with pico de gallo, I recommend mixing some fresh coriander leaves and tomatoes into the filling. Qué rico!

The Bits – F0r 4
2 large green plantains
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely diced
240g firm tofu or tempeh, well drained and mashed with a fork
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon oregano
1-2 green chillies, deseeded and finely sliced Oalapeiios would be perfect)
a large pinch of sea salt
4 large whole wheat tortillas (must be fresh – stale tortillas will crack when rolled – and they dry out very easily, so keep them covered: gluten-free tortillas are available)

Do It

Make the pico de gallo. Peel the plantains with apotato peeler, then halve them lengthways and chop them into lcrn chunks. In a large frying pan, heat half the oil on a high heat, then add your plantains and toss well. They will become nicely caramelized. Stir them regularly to prevent them sticking and remove when they have some nice crisp brown bits – roughly 5-7 minutes. Set aside, uncovered.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan. On a high heat, saute your onions and peppers (that’s posh frying) and stir well. After 5 minutes, when they are beginning to caramelize, add the tofu, garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, oregano, chillies and salt. Cook and stir for a further 5-7 minutes, adding 1tablespoon of water to ensure the spices are not sticking to the base. Now stir in the cooked plantains and check the seasoning. Cover and set aside.

Wipe out the frying pan with kitchen roll and warm your tortillas for a minute on each side (or you can warm them beforehand on a medium grill). They should be just warmed through, fragrant and still soft and pliable. If they are too toasted, they break when wrapping.

Spoon 3 tablespoons of plantain filling into the centre of each tortilla and top with 2 tablespoons of pico de gallo. Fold in the two opposing edges, pressing gently down, then roll the whole thing over. A burrito is like a tucked-in wrap, a fat tortilla parcel if you like.

Salsa verde is also amazing lathered over burritos or served on the side. Serve these burritos warm, with more fresh chillies or chilli sauce. POW!

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

 

Portobello Pecan Burger (Original recipe from Peace and Parsnips)

This is no ordinary veggie burger, this a proper whopper!  Perfect for every summer BBQ and a vegan burger for all (even rampant carnivores!)

A beast of a burger taken from ‘Peace and Parsnips’ our new vegan cookbook which is storming a technicolour, vibrant veggie, food trail around the UK at the moment.  Jane and I are super chuffed with its success and so happy that people are enjoying the food and positive vibe of the book.  We’ve had such a great response on The Beach House Kitchen, as well as Twitter and Facebook.

In fact, Jane and I are really getting out and about this summer and have plenty of book signings, cooking demo’s, supper clubs and festival appearances lined up.  2015 is going to be a veggie riot!  The best way to keep up with all of this is on Twitter of course, but we’ll try and keep the BHK up to date and ever crammed with gorgeous vegan deliciousness.

There are a few recipes floating around the internet from Peace and Parsnips and we thought we’d share one of our fav’s with our beloved Beach Houser’s.  Thanks to the good folk at the Happy Foodie for posting this originally.  They also voted Peace and Parsnips in their ‘Top 5 Cookbook Debuts of 2015’ and the Beetroot Fritters in their ‘Top 5 Vegetarian Dishes of 2015’.  I love these guys!!!!

If you haven’t quite got around to getting a copy of the book, we’ll be running a competition very soon, giving away a free copy.  Watch this space.

So here we go, the

‘Here we have a burger that is rich, with a deep flavour from the mushrooms and miso. It is packed with heavy umami flavours, with the seaweed, pecans and miso working their potent charms. Sun-blushed tomatoes can be found in most delis nowadays and ooze fragrant tomato all over this burger. If you are struggling to find them, I know some fantastic people on the Isle of Wight who can sort you out. This burger mix will keep very well in the fridge, 5 days easy. Try making it into ‘meatballs’, with a tomato sauce and pasta. Gluten-free option: just cook 25g more rice and omit the breadcrumbs.’
Like so many vegan dishes, this burger is super delicious and super healthy.  What a sensational combo!

The Bits – Makes 6–8 mammoth burgers

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 350g Portobello mushrooms, cut into cubes
  • 1 aubergine, chopped into 2cm pieces
  • a large pinch of sea salt and black pepper
  • 3 tbsp fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 20g dried seaweed, cut into very fine ribbons
  • 175g flageolet beans, soaked overnight, then cooked with ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda and cooled, or 1½ x 400g tins
  • 120g toasted pecans
  • 100g red or brown rice, cooked and cooled
  • 2 heaped tbsp brown miso
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g fine wholewheat breadcrumbs (you can also use gluten free breadcrumbs)
  • For the Pumpkin wedges –
  • 750g pumpkin, scrubbed, seeded and cut into 5cm wedges
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • a large pinch of sea salt
  • To serve –
  • 8 seeded wholewheat rolls, halved (for gluen-free aternative, use your favourite GF bread)
  • 1 big handful sun-blushed tomatoes
  • buttery lettuce leaves (something like oak-leaf)

Do It

To make the pumpkin wedges, preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Put the pumpkin on a baking tray, toss with the oil and salt, and roast for 30 minutes, turning over once. The pumpkin should be tender and nicely coloured.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy frying pan on a medium-low heat and add the mushrooms and aubergines. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the salt and pepper. Cook for a further 5 minutes, until the aubergine is soft. Stir in the oregano leaves and set aside in a bowl.

In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil on a medium-high heat and cook the onion and celery for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and seaweed and cook for another 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and combine with the aubergines and mushrooms.

In a food processor, combine half the beans, pecans, aubergine mix and rice with the miso, sifting in the bicarbonate of soda. Blitz to a thick paste. Add the breadcrumbs and the rest of the beans, rice and aubergine mix, along with the rest of the pecans. Pulse until a chunky mix forms, coarse in texture but finely chopped. Check the seasoning – the miso is quite salty. Transfer the mix to a bowl, combining it all well with your hands. Form the mix into 6–8 fat burgers. Put them into the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

Pop an ovenproof frying pan on a medium-high heat and lightly oil it. Cook each burger for 5 minutes per side, until beautifully light brown. If they lose shape and are unruly in the pan, press them down using the back of a spatula. Veggie burgers are sensitive and need to be handled with soft hands (and spatulas).

Put all the burgers into a warm oven, 150°C/gas mark 2, for 10 minutes to finish cooking. Cut your bread rolls in half and put them into the warm oven for 5 minutes.

Serve

On the base of each warm roll, scatter sun-blushed tomatoes (with a little of their oil) and top with a lettuce leaf, the burger and a good topping of macadamia tarragon aioli (recipe in the book). With the warm pumpkin wedges.

Foodie Fact

Pecans are a real treat for us.  We don’t use them all the time but when we do, we make them count!  Nuts are little nutritional powerhouses, packed with all kinds of anti-oxidants and friendly fats.  A handful a day, keeps the grim reaper at bay!  In fact, I write a whole section about NUTS in Peace and Parsnips called ‘Nuts about Nuts’!

Pecans are especially nutritious, loads of good mono-unsaturated fats and very high in Vitamin E and some important vitamin B’s.  They also happen to be loaded with all sorts of minerals.

 

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 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, Desserts, gluten-free, photography, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Baingan Bharta (Minced Aubergine Curry)

Baingan Bharta (Minced Aubergine Curry)

Baingan Bharta (Minced Aubergine Curry)

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

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

IS IT A DIP?

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

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

COOKING TIPS

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

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

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

G.M. CROPS IN INDIA

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

A RADIANT DAY ON THE HILL

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

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

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

JO POTT SUPPER CLUB

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

 

The Bits  – For 2

2 large aubergines (cut into chunky batons)

3 medium tomatoes (roughly diced)

4 cloves garlic

3 cm ginger (finely chopped)

1 medium onion (finely sliced)

Spices

1 teas mustard seeds

2 teas ground cumin seeds (1 teas ground)

3 teas coriander seeds (1 ½ teas ground)

1 teas turmeric

1 teas sweet paprika

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

1/2 teas asafoetida

 

1 -2 teas sea salt

3 tbs oil

125ml water

 

Garnish

Fresh coriander (or sprouted lentils as we used)

 

Do It

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

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

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

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

Baingan Bharta

Baingan Bharta

Serve

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

One of our new neighbours - Trev

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

 

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Bharat

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Bharat – bowls of sun in The Beach House Kitchen

I’m conscious that on a day like today, Monday, time is more precious than at other times of the week.  I am very much, in the same boat.  I made tonight’s soup as easy as possible, but did not want to compromise on deliciousness!  The roasting part here adds unmistakeable sweetness and the bharat brings a spicy edge to the soup.

You may ask the obvious question, “but Lee, you are in a hurry and yet you take pictures of your food and write a blog piece?!”  It does seem like a strange way to behave, I admit this, but such is the ways of the food blogger.  We are those people in the restaurants who unabashedly whip out their camera when presented with a particularly nice slice of cake while the rest of the table pretend they aren’t with you.  Its a passion/ affliction.  Once you blog, you can’t stop……

We are in the middle of some very stormy and chilly days up here in the Beach House and soups seems like a very good idea.  I love the bright colour of this soup, with added radiance from the turmeric.  Its sunshine in a bowl and is a real lift when the sun is hiding behind the clouds.

rsz_p1250242

We’ve been celebrating a little after the release of ‘Peace & Parsnips’.  Jane and I took a trip down to Criccieth, a local beach and went down to Black Rock Sands for a proper bag of chips.  There is an amazing chippy in Porthmadog that we frequent on rare occasions.  Chips = celebration!  We sat on the flat sands, a rare place where you can actually drive cars around on a beach without the imminent danger of sinking like a stone.  Black Rock Sands reminds me of beaches in Australia, or what I imagine the tip of South Africa to look like. You can look out over maybe a kilometre of flat sand before you see the sea.  A truly beautiful place to scoff chips!

Us.  Catching some well earned rays...

Us. Catching some well earned rays on Criccieth beach

BAHARAT

Is basically a spice mix from the Middle East, as well as Turkey and Iran.  Although the ingredients may vary, some usual suspects are: black pepper, cardamom seeds, cassia cark, nutmeg, chillies, cumin seeds, coriander seeds.  The baharat we use is very much a Middle Eastern style, in Turkey they add a lot of mint and in Tunisia they make a mix with rose petals, cinnamon and black pepper.  There are an almost infinite number of combinations of spice mixes, but most of the baharat sold in large shops in the UK is similar.   More a warming spice mix than a turmeric or chilli driven one.

If you don’t have any Baharat around the kitchen, use the same amount of Rae El Hanout or Garam Masala.  They will add a similar spice kick to the background of the sweet peppers and squash.

This soup is as easy as roasting a tray of very roughly chopped vegetables and blending.

The Bits – For 4 small bowls

1 medium butternut squash – 1kg (cut into 1/4 lengthways)

1 head garlic (skins on)

2 yellow peppers (deseeded)

1 large onion (sliced)

3 teas bharat

2 teas turmeric

2-3 teas salt

Olive oil (for roasting and frying)

 

Do It

Preheat oven to 190oC.

Grab a large baking tray and rub a little oil over the squash and peppers.  Pop them in the oven for 20 minutes.  Rub a little oil into the garlic cloves and take the tray out of the oven and scatter the garlic cloves onto the tray.  Pop back into the oven and roast for another 15 minutes.  Take the garlic and pepper out, check to see if the squash is nice and soft, if not, put back in for another 10 minutes.  Set the garlic and pepper aside to cool, do the same with the squash once it is lovely and softened.

In a large sauce pan, add 1 tbs olive oil and fry the onion on a medium heat for 6 minutes, until translucent and soft.  While the onions are on, peel the skin off your peppers, garlic and squash.  Chop them all roughly.  Add the spices to your soft onions and stir for a minute, then add the squash etc.  Pour over 1 ltr of hot water and check seasoning (add salt as needed).  Leave it to simmer for 5 minutes before blending the soup with a stick blender or using a food processor (leave the soup to cool a little beforehand for this).

Roasted Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

Roasted Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

Serve

A nice idea, for added richness is to stir some tahini into the soup.  Tahini is also packed with goodness, so nutritionally the soup becomes a real shiner.  If you are going all out tonight (it is a Monday after all!!!) chop up some coriander leaves and finish with little sprinkle of baharat.

Foodie Fact

Butternut squash is one of the healthiest veggies you can eat.  It is much lower in calories than potato and leaves you feeling nice and full after eating it.  Calories are of course only one part of the dietary picture, counting calories is definitely not our thing (big bags of chips and all!)  You can tell by the colour that its loaded with some good carotenes, which are ace anti-oxidants.  Squash is also good for vitamin C and is high in dietary fibre.

Our car off in the distance, Black Rock Sands, North Wales

Our car off in the distance at Black Rock Sands, North Wales

And who can forget......CHIPS!

And who can forget……the glorious CHIPS!

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels (Ta’amia)

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

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

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

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

The great British outdoors - Up a Welsh hill, Snowdonia

The great British outdoors – Up a Welsh hill, Snowdonia

FAVA BEANS – AS BRITISH AS A BEAN CAN BE

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

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

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

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

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

The Bits – For 12 falafels

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

2 tbs olive oil

1 onion (finely diced)

1 carrot (grated)

1 ½ teas cumin seeds

2 ½ teas ground coriander

1 teas turmeric

1 teas dried mint

½ teas bicarb soda

2 tbs gram (chickpea) flour

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

Salt and pepper (to taste)

 

Coating

2-3 tbs sesame seeds

Extra oil for frying

 

Cucumber Yoghurt Sauce

6 tbs soya yoghurt

1/2 medium cucumber (grated)

½ lemon (zest)

1 tbs lemon juice

Pinch of sea salt

½ handful fresh mint leaves (finely sliced)

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

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

Do It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve

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

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

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

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

Blueberry & Hemp Muffins (Gluten-free, Sugar-free)

Mighty MUFF - Blueberry and Hemp Muffin (gluten free)

Mighty MUFF – Blueberry and Hemp Muffin (vegan/ gluten free)

I love playing with vegan and gluten free food.  It’s a challenge.  How can we make a muffin taste, look, feel as good as a ‘normal’ muffin without the things that can muddle our bodies.  So many people are giving gluten a miss, it seems like a good idea as many people struggle with it.  I love bread so I made a tasty loaf the other day using predominately ground sunflower seeds, it worked a treat.  I feel a shift, things are changing in the foundations of how we eat.  The next generational food norms will be very different indeed.  Gluten free and vegan will be as normal as fish and chips or black forest gateau.

I cook in a place called Trigonos, an idyllic retreat centre and organic veg farm.  It’s a blessing.  There I encounter all sorts of dietary requirements, every group that I cook for has a long list of specific dietary needs.  The most regular are vegan and gluten free (we are a pure veggie place), but there are so many people out there waking up to food intolerances and how they can hamper our wellbeing.  We are all unique and beautifully different, what works for me, might not work for you.  But eating less gluten and animal-based saturated fat can only be a good thing for our health.  That is a widely held, universal, food understanding.  So these muffins are nice…..  They can be enjoyed by almost anyone and there is no sacrifice in the taste or treat departments.

Nobody who eats these muffins would think they are vegan or gluten free.  They are really quite healthy but very delicious.  Any berry can be used here, depending on the season.  We managed to get some blueberries and I admit, they are one of my favourites.  The berries sort of explode in the muffins, creating lovely fruit pockets of happiness.  There is plenty of richness from the coconut oil and a little bit of bite from the polenta flour (very fine polenta that is, not the course grain stuff we use normally).

GLUTEN FREE BEHAVIOUR

We tend to make our own gluten free flour mixes, we still haven’t got round to making the definitive Beach House Bread Mix.  But its coming.  I always like to have buckwheat flour around, one of my favourite grains/ seeds.  In moderation, it makes for a light addition to baking with a good hearty flavour.  Banana helps with the binding here, but you can use stewed apple instead.  This is also very nice and works well when using blackberries in this recipe.  We’ll be doing his later this year for sure.  The brambles are already winding their wicked way all over the back of the garden and in Autumn, it will be an oasis for big, juicy blackberries.

FLAX EGG?(!)

Making flax eggs is so easy. Grab some flax/ linseeds and grinder them in a coffee grinder, blender, something like that.  You are looking for a fine powder, but a few whole seeds is absolutely fine.  You can also buy ground flax seeds or flax meal.  This can then be added to all baking shenanigans in order to add a very nutritious binding agent.  In the absence of eggs, I find them the best.  They even have a vaguely egg-like texture, very gelatinous and gloopy.  For 1 tbs of ground flax, I add 1 1/2 – 2 tbs water, stir and leave for a short time.  You’ll see the change very quickly.  Ground flax is also an amazing way of adding nutrition to your morning cereal, yoghurt or smoothie.  Ground flax also helps to make a substantial and chewy loaf of bread or pizza crust.  Fibre is so, so important to a healthy diet.  It cleans you out in more ways that one!!!!

See here for more about flax eggs and other vegan baking substitutes.

I love using hemp seeds although they are a little rare.  You could try sunflower seeds here, but the hemp seeds (hulled ones anyway) are so creamy and light.  They seem to blend into the muffin adding richness.  Sunflower seeds will be more of an  obvious presence.  Tasty non-the-less.  Hemp is a wonderful plant and is becoming more and more popular for its uses in making fabric and even paper.

On the beach, with a shell

On the beach, with a shell

What with promoting our new book PEACE & PARSNIPS (out tomorrow I may add)  and cooking, cooking, cooking…..there seems little time to squeeze in blogging, let alone glorious beach walks.  Which is a shame.  We will hopefully get some more of our recipes up on the B.H.K very soon.  It is almost impossible to keep up.  I love writing about food, but I must say, I love cooking much, much more.  I’m an out of balance food blogger.  Forgive me!!!!  I just bought a new computer to replace my ancient little Filipino net book gadget, hopefully this will make me vastly more efficient.  You never know!

These muffins are light and fruity…..healthy and delicious….give them a whirl!!  All of your guilt-free dessert dreams are coming true….right here:

Fresh from the oven- THE SMELL!  THE AROMA! (yum)

Fresh from the oven- THE SMELL! THE AROMA! (yum)  PS – I ran out of mix so the top left muff is a bit of a half-ling

The Bits – Makes 6 muffins

50g buckwheat flour

50g rice flour

25g polenta flour (not coarse polenta, it should be fine like flour)

(or try 125g of a pre-mixed gluten free flour)

30g hulled hemp seeds

2 tbs coconut oil (softened)

½ teas bicarb soda

½ teas apple cider vinegar

¼ teas sea salt

1 teas vanilla extract

1 banana (mashed)

4-6 tbs rice syrup (depending on how sweet your tooth is; I’m a 3 and Jane’s an 8 – on this scale)

30-50ml soya milk

1 flax egg (1 tbs ground flax seeds mixed with 1 1/2 tbs water and left for 15 minutes)

100g blueberries (or berry of your choice)

When baking, always have a tea towel thrown over your shoulder.  It makes you look like you know what you're doing!

When baking, always have a tea towel thrown over your shoulder. It makes you look like you know what you’re doing!

Do It

Set the soya milk aside and then mix together the dry and wet ingredients separately.  Then mix both together until just combined, adding the soya milk as need.  The batter should be sticky, but not wet.  Gently stir in the blueberries without popping any if poss (no drama if you do, they will have cool purple streaks).

Spoon the batter into oiled and lined muffin trays.  Use muffins cases if you like, I prefer cutting out squares of baking parchment, oiling them and using them.  They look far cooler.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out clean and not sticky.  Remember, a little moisture in a muffin is a good thing of course, over baking them would be a shame.  Use your muffin-sense here.

Leave to cool in the tray for 20 minutes before enjoying liberally with mugs of your favourite chai.

Blueberry and Hemp Seed Muffin

Blueberry and Hemp Seed Muffin – Difficult to be this close without taking a bite…..

Foodie Fact – Flax Seeds

Flax seeds contain soluble fibre, a gel forming substance called ‘mucilage’.  This means that they are brilliant for slowing down the release of sugars into our bodies, helping us absorb more nutrients from our foods and resulting in us being fuller for longer.  2 tbs of flax seeds contains 4 grams of dietary fibre.

Flax seeds are also the very best source of lignans, which provide the body with anti-oxidant and fibre-like benefits.  In fact, flax seeds are actually higher in anti-oxidants (polyphenols) than blueberries!  Not bad for a little grass seed.

Flax seeds are also ridiculously high in Omega 3 fatty acids, probably the highest to be found in nature.  Omega 3’s help to keep our hearts healthy.

Categories: Baking, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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: , , , , , , , , , | 30 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: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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