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Posts Tagged ‘Vegetarian’

You can ask my family, but recently I’ve been getting a bit obsessed with savoury breakfasts. I’m a savoury over sweet person and I don’t understand why the standard weekday British breakfast is all about the sugar.  I miss the dosa sambar and spicy coconut chutney from south India, or the rye bread, smoked cheese and cucumber of Germany, or the falafel, olives, and fuul (fava beans) of Egypt, I want something savoury and sustaining, but I can’t quite bear to eat those leftovers in the fridge (no, it’s not because they are spicy/garlicky/I ate them about 12 hours ago…its because I was saving them for lunch!).

So I decided to do something about it- and start a weekday tradition of my own! The key is something ready-made and easy to grab. I know the reason I turn to toast and cereal is the fact it is SO easy to assemble with my eyes half shut.

To savoury muffins then, and what better vegetable than one of my all time favourites butternut squash? I decided to base my meanderings around this recipe for butternut squash and kale muffins but make a few changes with flavour combos in mind. It wasn’t until after I made it that I realised how healthy these muffins are, no sugar, no fat and vegetables, I cannot think of a better way to start the day! If  I’m starting to sound like some weird health nut let me make it up- they taste great cut in half with lashings of butter. If you’re not convinced about savoury foods for breakfast these still make a great (healthy) snack during the day.

butternut squash and feta muffins

  • 100g (1/2 a block) feta cheese
  • 1 cup roasted butternut squash (about 1/2 a medium sized squash)
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 3/4 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/4 cup rye flour (optional- replace with wholemeal flour if you don’t have it to hand)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig sage, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten- I used egg replacer in the form of flaxmeal/linseed even though this isn’t a vegan recipe because I’ve been wanting to try it out for a while- it works really well, I made it using these instructions.
  • 200ml milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200C. Peel, deseed (save the seeds if you fancy roasting them as a snack) and cut the squash into small (3cm) cubes. Place on a baking tray, spray or drizzle with a little olive oil and roast for around 15 minutes until cooked but still firm, then leave to cool whilst you get on with the muffin mix. Cut the feta into similar size cubes and set aside. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl including the chopped herbs and walnuts. Add the egg (or egg replacer) and milk and combine to make a batter with dropping consistency (add more milk if necessary).

Once combined well, fold in the feta and squash. Grease the muffin baking tray you will be using and spoon 1 large tablespoon of mixture into each smaller muffin tin or 1 1/2 tablespoon into large muffins tin baking trays.  This should make about 18-20 mini- muffins. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes if you’re making cup-cake size muffins, or 20-25 for larger muffins. Make sure muffins are golden brown and cooked through by using a cocktail stick and seeing if it comes out clean. Store in an airtight container.

Happy alternative breakfasting!

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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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veggie…

…bacon-ie

Happy New Year everyone, hope you all had a lovely season of festivities, I certainly did. I would like to say the lack of blogging is due to me being immensely busy during the season of goodwill, but that would only be true, if  you consider watching telly and eating chocolate to be a hectic schedule…

One of the many exciting cooking related gifts that I received in the final week of December (which for me is a double whammy Christmas-birthday gift bonanza) was “the flavour thesaurus“- a great read for anyone interested in cooking and creating recipes. So this recipe (having started on the basis of “oh look, we seem to have a lot of leftover stilton”) was nearly everything that the book says goes with blue cheese thrown in a pan- and it works REALLY well! Another gift utilised in this recipe was my Dad’s potato ricer, though I have made gnocchi without one before it did  make everything a whole lot easier.

I realise this recipe has lots of components, so if you weren’t feeling confident about doing all the time juggling, then I’d suggest using the shop bought gnocchi in vacuum packs, or making the gnocchi (or even just the mash) a day in advance.

Note: butternut squash takes an hour to roast so put it in the oven before starting the gnocchi.

home made quinoa and bulgar wheat gnocchi

serves 6-8

The quinoa and bulgar wheat add extra protein if you are making this dish veggie, but can just as easily be left out if you don’t have any available. I boiled my potatoes (quartered, skins on) for about 15mins, but I think if I do this again I will microwave them for less mess/water wastage/pans that need washing. I also made enough for about 6-8 and froze the gnocchi on a tray before bagging up,as they are quite time consuming to make, but a good quick meal once all the potato rice-ing and kneading has been done.

  • 650g Potatoes
  • 250g flour
  • 75g bulgar wheat and quinoa mix
  • Salt and Pepper

Wash and prick the potatoes, wrap them each in a paper towel and cook on full power for 5minutes, turn over and cook for a further 5mins. Leave to stand for 2minutes and check to see if they are soft, if not, blast for another 5mins. Allow to cool and then peel off the skins. Mash very finely or use a potato ricer. Whilst the potatoes are cooking/cooling rinse the quinoa and bulgar wheat and then boil in a pan of water for 12 minutes, drain.  Put the flour, mashed potato and bulgar wheat and quinoa into a bowl and season thoroughly with salt and pepper. Bring together into a dough and then knead on a floured surface for a couple of minutes. Divide the dough into quarters and make each quarter into a sausage. Slice into 2.5cm pieces and squash with a fork before placing on a tray.

**If you want to freeze them do so now, and cook from frozen in the same way as fresh**

Now, gnocchi really doesn’t take long to cook so at this point I would stash the tray somewhere level/not at risk of being knocked on the floor and get on with the sauce.

To cook, boil water in a large pan, drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and fish out with a slotted spoon once they float, serve immediately. I cook about 8 gnocchi per person.

butternut squash, blue cheese and sage sauce

serves 4


  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 medium onion roughly chopped
  • 1 tub (300g) creme fraiche
  • 1/2-1 pint milk
  • 75-100g chopped walnuts
  • 25-50g blue cheese
  • A sprig of sage
  • 200g lardons (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Peel and cut the butternut squash taking care to scrape out the seeds into a sieve. Place 2.5cm chunks in the oven with about 1 tbsp olive oil brushed/sprayed over them. Cook for 1hr. Rinse the seeds of orange gloop and spread out in a baking tin spraying with very little oil and a generous serving of salt. Roast on the top shelf of the oven for 10-15mins until golden brown. Leave to cool and reserve for garnishing at the end.

Once the gnocchi has been made and laid on a tray ready to cook, soften the onions in 2 tbsp olive oil, adding the walnuts and sage and cooking for another 5 mins. Add the squash once cooked and mush up. Add the crème fraiche and enough milk to make the sauce more, well, saucy. Add the blue cheese to taste and any seasoning (bearing in mind the bacon and butternut squash seeds are quite salty). Simmer gently for 5mins and in another pan dry fry the lardons until golden if you’re serving them. Now cook the gnocchi (see above).

Serve the sauce over the gnocchi with the butternut squash seeds and/or the bacon sprinkled over the top.

Try not to get too excited about just how well the flavours go together and annoy everyone else eating.

I also got this super-cool apron for Christmas!

Thank you once again to my sister for the fab photos.

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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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Did I mention I like cooking for people…oh I did? Well last Thursday I cooked for the alpha course at my church, so I happily pootled around in the kitchen the day before preparing 20 portions of tagine. For your convenience, I’ve shrunk the numbers (you are welcome), though if you did want to make this for 20 it’s a pretty simple “chuck it all in the pot” endeavour. Also I’d like to take this opportunity to sing the praises of butternut squash, which is definitely in my top ten vegetables. One of the best things about it is the smell when you cut it open, all sweet and autumnal; I actually find it quite a wrench to have to cook it. Just as well it tastes good too, eh?

Oh and sorry for the lack of photos, I just didn’t get round to snapping the food what with all the talking and that…

lamb or lentil tagine with butternut squash

serves 4

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon or a whole cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp Moroccan spice mix (ras el hanout)
  • just under 1/2 tsp of harissa
  • 200g diced stewing lamb or 1/3 cup of red lentils
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp/a squirt of tomato purée
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced into 3cm cubes
  • 300ml lamb or vegetable stock
  • 70g dried apricots, diced finely
  • 1tsp honey
  • ground pepper and salt

Preheat your oven to 170C and then find a heavy based oven proof dish with a lid. Heat the oil in it on the hob and fry the onions and garlic until softened. Add the powdered spices (NOT the harissa!) and fry for another two minutes. Then add everything else and stir until well mixed. Plonk on the lid and pop it in the oven for 1.5 hours, then check seasoning, and how watery it is and the tenderness of lamb (unless its the veggie version of course). Put back for another 30mins for the veggie version and 1hr for the meat. If it looked a bit watery to you when you pulled it out take the lid off for the last 30 mins. Another easy peasy crowd pleaser done.

Serve with couscous. Follow the instructions on the packet to work out quantities but before I pour on the hot water, I like to add a pinch of salt and about 1/2 tbsp of olive oils and 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice stirred into the dry couscous to coat it and give it a bit of extra flavour.

I would also say that any root vegetable like sweet potato, carrot or swede would work well here. I was going to put other veggies in when I made this but the butternut squash I had was so mammoth nothing else would fit in the pots!

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Fatayer

Hooray! I finally made it back in the kitchen this weekend! Needless to say there were liberal sprinklings of flour and coriander by way of celebration.

So, fatayer then. I hadn’t heard of them either until I decided to cook them today, and apparently they are a middle eastern snack food. I came across them because  I made a bouillabaisse-ish fish stew for dinner (recipe in the next post soon) and was pondering the ways I could include more vegetables without going down the obvious side salad route. I thought about the Greek spanakopita, spinach filo pie, but wanted something more bready to dip in the stew. It crossed my mind that someone MUST have considered filling bread with spinach. Lo and behold, those middle easterners had, and I found this recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi, which I promptly fiddled about with liberally. Here’s the result.

Fatayer (or mini-spinach-bread-parcels)

for the dough

  • 150g strong white bread flour
  • 150g wholemeal bread flour
  • 1tsp dry active yeast
  • pinch of salt
  • 40ml warm milk
  • 70ml lukewarm water
  • 40ml sunflower or vegetable oil

for the filling

  • 200g washed spinach or baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts

Start by warming the milk to skin temperature and then adding the dried active yeast. Leave for 10-15mins whilst you combine all the dry ingredients for the dough in a bowl. Make a well and combine the milk and water gradually. Once it is combined, turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, rest for 2 and knead again for 10 minutes (if you happen to have a bread mixer, or a mixer with a dough hook check back on Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe). Oil the bowl the dough was first combined in, pop it back in and cover with a clean tea-towel. Find somewhere warm and leave the dough there to rise for 45 minutes.

Whilst you are waiting combine all the ingredients for the filling and leave to marinade. You could probably add some feta too if you wanted, but I didn’t think it would work with the fish stew I was making them for.

The dough should have doubled in size after 45 minutes, and now is the time to preheat the oven to 200C. Divide the dough into 12 portions with a knife. Roll out the pieces in rounds on a floured surface, the original recipe says to make them 10cm in diameter, which is a lot smaller than you think (or I thought…), I found the right size was nearer 12.5cm on average , but whatever. Spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons of mixture into the middle of the round, making sure you drain any excess liquid first to stop the dough going soggy.

Now, imagine a triangle in the circle of dough. Fold along two of the sides of the triangle, pinching the edges of the dough together. Now fold along the last side to make a Y shaped seam and something which resembles a tiny tricorne hat. Place the 12 parcels onto a lined baking sheet 2cm apart, and prick with a fork. Leave to rise for another 20minutes, then brush them with oil and bake for 20minutes. Cool on a rack and eat as a snack or serve with soup or stew.

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