Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

So I have to admit, I made a variation on this several times during lent as it is super easy and quick if, say, your family is having fish and chips and you have to concoct something for yourself at speed. It may not be the most inspired vegan meal, but man is it good, especially if you use a good quality paprika that makes it extra smoky and fiery (definitely something I was craving on the occasion I was cooking chorizo quiche for the fam).

veggie/vegan chilli

Serves 4 – for a tart filling which serves 2, see below

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped/minced
  • 500g tin beans in water (any variety or mixed)
  • 500g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 handfuls chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 250 ml  apple juice
  • 160 ml (about a third of the tomato tin) red wine
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp vegetable bouillon/1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tbsp cous cous (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1tsp white wine vinegar
  • pepper and salt to taste
Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry off the onions and garlic until translucent. Add the beans WITH THEIR WATER, tinned tomatoes, wine mushrooms and apple juice. Bring to the boil and add the spices, stock cube and purée. Allow to simmer with the lid off for 15 minutes. Depending on how thick the sauce is looking, or what you are serving it with (I was serving it with soft tortillas so I didn’t want it to be too runny, but if you were serving it with rice or a baked potato, you’d want a bit more sauce) add the cous cous to thicken. Simmer for a further 15 minutes, lid on. Right at the end, stir in the sugar and vinegar. Taste and then season. Serve with nachos, tortillas, baked potato or rice and a crispy green salad.

 variation for tart filling

serves 2

I halved the ingredients  and omitted the tinned tomatoes, couscous, sugar and mushrooms adding an extra squirt of tomato purée and a squirt of tomato ketchup cooking quickly (probably only 10-15mins simmering) until it makes a drier sauce. I then put the mixture into pre-blind baked pastry cases (Jus-roll short crust pastry cooked at 200C for 15 minutes) and baked for 10-15 mins with a dollop of vegan “cheese” (more of a cheesey dip, the consistency of hummus)  on top from this recipe. I particularly like this fake cheese recipe because it doesn’t use soya milk and I find I don’t like the strong soy-taste in fake cheeses using soya milk.


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Happy Easter one and all!


Apologies for the 40days and nights (plus a few Sundays) absence. I also would have posted this yesterday, but I spent most of it either at church or in a roast beef induced stupor.

I tried a bit of an experiment over lent, which unfortunately coincided with being quite busy. From Ash Wednesday until yesterday, I have been eschewing animal products in an attempt to live more simply, healthily and with less of an environmental impact (although research has led me to believe an entirely vegan diet may not be the best way to do this…any links or input on this would be much appreciated).  Part of my Christian belief is that we have a responsibility to not over tax the planet’s resources, mainly because the poorest and most vulnerable people often suffer the most from environmental changes. I went vegan to challenge myself  and to work out how to eat fewer animal products in the future. Being vegan for lent is not such an uncommon thing in the wider Christian world, outside of our western bubble (where most people give up chocolate) many eastern orthodox traditions practice a Lenten fast without any animal products and it is sometimes called the “Daniel Fast“.

I will share some of my vegan culinary creations in the next few posts, but for starters I’d like to share these links to websites and blogs I have discovered over lent which boast excellent food (oh, and they happen to be vegan or vegetarian too).

Post Punk Kitchen

Choose Veg

One Green Planet

The Vegan Society

Green Kitchen Stories

Pea Soup Eats

Other exciting finds are that  jus-roll pastry, cheap bourbons  (thanks Ash), fig rolls and Mr. Kipling jam tarts are all vegan!

So what did I make of being vegan for lent? I think the main hurdle to overcome, as with any fasting, is psychological. Contrary to popular belief, there is a heck of a lot that one can eat as a vegan. Take the recipes on here for example: spicy aubergines, lentil tagine, mango salsa and the chick pea and spinach curry are all vegan without any alterations, and it doesn’t take much to make the fatayer, bubble and squeak or chinese broth to be vegan, with a few substitutions and omissions.

I really enjoyed trying new recipes, new food combinations and thinking more carefully about my nutrition, which I should probably be doing whatever I’m eating (on that note, I’d like to dispel a few myths of veganism which still prevail in these enlightened times, you CAN get enough protein on a vegan diet and I even gave blood halfway through lent, where they tested my iron levels and found them to be perfectly normal) . Yes, it was hard at times, and as much as I loved all the fresh and exciting food, sometimes the Brit in me just wanted something brown, smothered in gravy (and mature farmhouse cheddar cheese). For sake of the planet and my health, I’m definitely going to try and continue some of the habits I acquired during lent (like snacking on nuts and seeds, not resorting to putting cheese on everything vegetarian, and eating more pulses) into my omnivorous diet.

P.S. Ready made vegan cheese is not worth it. It is absolutely rank.

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Spicy Aubergines

Last weekend I invited some friends over, only there were a lot of last minute emergencies and it ended up shrinking from a party of eight guests to three. Fortunately it meant I got to eat (incredibly garlicky)leftovers for lunch, which may be slightly antisocial but I always find leftovers much more satisfying than a sandwich don’t you?

Aubergines, I love you.

I love aubergines. Along with buttternut squash they are very high on my list of favourite vegetables, and this, or variations on this, is my favourite way to eat them. The best thing about this dish for me, is the meaty and smooth texture of the aubergines against the sharp tangy spicy sauce. Not only does it taste amazing but it is super quick and versatile. When I cooked this at the weekend it was for more of a middle eastern Mediterranean meal, so I left out the seeds (apart from the coriander) and the ginger, added a teaspoon of ras al-hanout and served it with koftas, (recipe to come), a yoghurt sauce, salad and flat bread. I cannot sing this recipe’s praises enough , it is my food heaven, and such a reliable staple.

A lot of recipes tell you to fry aubergines, but this makes them absorb a huge (read:disgusting) amount of oil, and I’ve found roasting them gives them just the right colour and flavour. Just a quick disclaimer, I haven’t suddenly got amazing at food photography, my sister was one of the three people who got to eat the dinner, and she took some snaps for me. Thanks sis!

Spicy Aubergines

serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side dish

  • 1 large or 2 medium aubergines
  • 1 carton of pasata
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • olive oil for brushing
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped/minced
  • 1cm grated ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp kalonji/nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • cayenne pepper to taste (I go for 2 tsp, but I do like it hot!)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 200C and then cut the aubergines into even sized wedges, I do this by cutting thick slices and then quartering/sixthing them. Put into a baking tray and brush or spray with olive oil. Roast for about 20 minutes,  giving them a shuggle (somewhere between a shuffle and a jiggle) after 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok or heavy based frying pan and fry the seeds until they begin to pop. You might need to take off the heat to cool a little before adding the garlic and ginger as it might spit at you otherwise. Fry them until brown and then add the pasata and all your other ingredients, bring to the simmer. Once the aubergines are cooked stir them into the sauce, adding water if it is a bit thick and cook simmer with a lid for 5 minutes. Check for seasoning, I tend to make it quite salty, especially if it is a side dish and you didn’t season the aubergines before roasting.


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Cooking for my friends is my way of saying I love them (see my first post) and this week I was able to cook  my home friends a dish which had become a signature dish whilst at uni.

butter chicken

First stolen from one of my Dad’s plethora of Indian cookbooks and since adapted to suit budget student needs and my personal taste, it became my go-to dish when I was asked to provide visiting musicians a yummy curry. The prepare in advance nature means it is also the perfect dish for entertaining, not to mention the one pot wonder of it meaning less washing up and the ability to multiply the quantities endlessly with just a bit of simple maths (aided by my phone calculator…)

Serves 5-6 with a vegetable side dish, 4 alone

  • 2cm  ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic  chopped
  • 100g flaked almonds or ground if you don’t have a hand blender
  • 1 to 3/4 pot of Greek yoghurt (low fat if you’re feeling virtuous)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 stick cinammon
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • salt to taste (about 1 1/4 tsp)
  • 500g/6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion fine chopped
  • 6tbsp chopped fresh coriander
If you have a hand whizzer put the yoghurt, ginger, garlic and almonds into a tall pot (I used to use a jug) and blend until combined. If not, finely chop the garlic and ginger and use ground almonds. Combine all the ingredients apart from the onion and butter in a dish. Chop the chicken and stir into the mixture. Marinade in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, but preferably overnight. Preheat the oven to 170C and fry the onions in the butter until browned in an oven dish. The dish should  be shallow and wide, but anything will do. Add the chicken and marinade and stir to combine with the onions. Pop it in the oven for 1 and 1/2 to 2hrs, I normally go for 2 and turn it down if it looks like its going too brown/drying up, or cover it with foil. About 30 mins before it’s finished you can check if you put enough salt in. Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes before serving with a sprinkling of coriander, if you remembered to keep some aside…
chickpea and spinach vegetable side dish

This is vaguely based on a spicy aubergine recipe (which, by the way is THE most perfect way to eat aubergines ever ever ever) and was something I knocked up the other night with store cupboard ingredients to make the meal a bit less of a meat-fest. It was a hit and I was requested to write it down for posterity. As far as the seeds go, I tend to throw in whatever I can find in the spice cupboard, so don’t worry if you only have some of these or use others such as white mustard or cumin.

  • 1 tsp kalonji seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped or minced
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3-4 blocks frozen spinach or 300g fresh spinach
  • 1 tin chick peas
  • 2 tbsp vegetable/sunflower oil
  • Cup of water
Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan and put in all the whole seeds. Wait until they start to pop then add the garlic. Once the garlic as browned add everything else in no particular order, apart from the water, which you should add gradually as the sauce begins to dry up. Cook until the spinach has melted/wilted and then simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until everyone has arrived to eat!
 perfect rice for curry
I know everyone has their own way of doing rice and there are all sorts of tricks out there but this is my key to perfect fluffy fragrant rice using that new-fangled invention, the microwave oven. I have been forced by quantity to cook rice on a hob (for which I would employ a similar method using a heavy pan/oven dish on very low temperatures) but it was very much done under protest. As far as quantities go this worked well in a house full of hungry students, and I  blinking love rice, but others have been known to be strangely underwhelmed by its fluffy joys, in which case, follow the rule of 1:2 rice to water, but maybe reduce it by a third…
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice per person
  • 1 cup recently boiled water per person
  • 1 clove (per 4 people)
  • 2 cardamon pods (per 4 people)
  • 1 stick of cinnamon (per 4 people)
  • 1 tsp salt (per 4 people)
put it all in a microwave bowl, cover with cling film and pierce to stop it exploding. Heat on full power in the microwave for 10-15mins, or until all the water is gone. Stand for 2 minutes and fluff with a fork, removing the whole spices and serve.

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