30Apr/15

Vegan Frankfurter Bake

Vegan Frankfurter Bake(2)

Lately I have been buying loads of leeks! Well wouldn’t you….this time I picked up a 500 gram pack of beautiful leeks from Tescos for £1!  I know some people aren’t overly fond of leeks but I find if I slice them thin and sautee in olive oil before adding to the bake they are so creamy and sweet and I always go back for more. However, do use onions if you happen to be one of those not keen on leeks and you should have a delicious bake in no time which feeds 4 hungry vegans or 5-6 not so hungry vegans!

Vegan Frankfurter Bake(3)

Last time I did potato gratin and used vegan bacon which was absolutely finger-licking superlicious! This time I had a go at a vegan frankfurter bake and added some white beans which not only bulked it up, it also added nutritional value and added creaminess – a first rate vegan bake you are bound to love.

Vegan Frankfurter Bake

4 good servings

Ingredients

5-6 medium waxy potatoes, about 650-700 grams, thinly sliced (don’t use the ones for mash!)
2 large leeks, thinly sliced (use 2 medium onions or shallots if you don’t like leeks)
2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tin of white beans (Cannellini or any other)
1 teaspoon dried sage
300ml vegan stock (I used 1 teaspoon of Marigold vegan bouillon powder)
2 teaspoons cornflour mixed with a little cold water
6 vegan frankfurters cut into 2 inch pieces (I used Tivall frankfurters as frankfurters hold their shape better)
150ml vegan cream (I used Oatly Longlife)

 

Method

  • Saute the leeks (or onions) and garlic in olive oil until translucent and edges begin to brown
  • Add white beans, sage, 300ml stock and cornflour paste and cook for a couple of minutes
  • Place in large ovenproof dish and add frankfurters and cream
  • Lay the potato slices to cover the dish (I got 2 layers)
  • Cover with a tight lid or foil and bake in pre-heated oven at 200C, 400F, gas mark 6 for about 35-40 minutes until potatoes are cooked through
  • Place dish under grill for a few minutes to brown the potatoes
  • I served this with spinach garnished with 2 cloves of thinly sliced garlic sautéed in olive oil
25Apr/15

Rice, broad beans & braised tofu

Rice, broadbeans & parsley(6)

It never ceases to amaze me the extent to which rice lends itself to variation with good results and how well it marries with most vegetables, tofu, seitan, lentils, beans dry fruit and nuts.

Rice makes a vital contribution to our diet and specially vegans and vegetarians are very fortunate to have this humble, unassuming grain as part of their culinary repertoire. It cheerfully accommodates and adjusts to suit tastes and palates all round the world – I feel blessed…….

Layering rice with a central layer of some sort of stew or spicy mixture is known as biryani as opposed to rice cooked in broth with vegetables, which is called pilau or pilaf. Biryani was traditionally prepared for feasts or special occasions and as such good quality Basmati rice was used.  However, these days most families will have it once a week – Sunday lunch perhaps?

For this recipe I made a mild stew with lots of fried onions to add sweetness, broad beans and flat leaf parsley and replaced tomatoes with soya yogurt.  It turned out to be a delicious and very satisfying meal and required very little besides a simple salad of onion, tomatoes and cucumber.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 small cups (about 300 grams) Basmati rice, soaked for 1 hour
3 medium onions, sliced
5 tablespoons oil
2 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
5 tablespoons natural soya yogurt (I use Sojade)
1 good cup broad beans (I used frozen)
200 grams button mushrooms
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tin Marigold braised tofu, cut into 1 inch pieces + good pinch of turmeric
Salt

Method

  • In 1 tablespoon oil fry the button mushrooms, remove and set aside
  • Fry onion in 3 tablespoons oil until golden
  • Add spices, yogurt, beans, a little salt and half cup of water
  • Cover and cook on low heat for about 10-15 minutes until broad beans are cooked
  • Add fried mushrooms and parsley to the beans, cook for a further 2 minutes

Rice, broadbeans & parsley(2)

  • Rinse the rice and bring to a boil in plenty of water with 1 teaspoon salt
  • Boil for about 3-4 minutes until the rice is almost cooked but still slightly al dente and strain in a colander
  • Put about ¼ cup of water in the pan and 1 tablespoon of oil
  • Lay about one-third of the rice in the pan and tip the broad beans on the rice
  • Add rest of the rice to the pan to complete the layering
  • Cover the lid with a clean tea cloth and place firmly on saucepan

Veggie biryani(8)

  • Steam rice on medium heat for 5 minutes, then lower heat to low and continue to steam for a further 15 minutes by which time the rice should be steaming

Rice, broadbeans & parsley(3)

  • Separately fry the braised tofu with a good pinch of turmeric for about 5 minutes
  • Place the fried braised tofu on the rice before serving

 

Rice, broadbeans & parsley(4)

22Apr/15

Dal with Chiquino peppers

Dal with Chiquino peppers(2)

At last and a long time coming….I am now the proud owner of my first French, tin lined copper saute pan! Inaugural dish being something to do with potatoes!! So to put it to the test, I went ahead with a very French dish Pommes Anna and was amazed how quickly they cooked and the base was perfectly brown and hardly anything stuck to the pan!!  (Sorry, didn’t take pictures so will do a repeat soon!) Why did it take me so long to go down the copper pan route….the cost perhaps…..but I bought this one as a “second” in TK Maxx for £40 with very little wrong except for a tiny, tiny dent on the edge of the lid.  And here we are and I am the first to admit that it is a hard act to beat. Not only is it the most gorgeous, beautiful, glowing, aesthetic pan ( could go on but would be bordering on the ridiculous!), it cooks beautifully at very low temperatures and visually beats every other sort of pan I have used. I for one will never be looking back and am now a life-time member of the tin lined copper pan brigade!

As for dal….we have dal at least 2-3 times a week for its nutritious quality and also because there are so many varieties to choose from, each with its own unique taste and texture.  I always have at least 5-6 types of dals in my cupboard – they are all cheap and store very well and that way you are never at a loss and can produce a lovely dish in no time, specially the skinless variety, as this cooks very speedily.  And as I now have my very special copper pan, I had to try cooking dal in it – not perhaps quite the right sort of pan, but hey, gotta have a go.  It was unbelievable how quickly it cooked and on a very low temperature too and for some odd reason never once threatened to boil over; curious because dal usually does exactly that!

Most of us tend to use the ubiquitous orange lentil more than any other….it’s delicious, takes about 25 minutes to cook and will happily accommodate most vegetables.  Try adding spinach, carrots, sauteed leeks, fried shallots, green beans etc…the list is endless.  Adding vegetables is an excellent idea because this produces a meal-in-one-pot and all you need do is boil some rice to go with it – dinner is ready to go! And if you decide not to add a whole lot of veggies to your dal, simply rustle up this simple potato and onion dish ……. 

Potatoes with onion(2)

or a cauliflower bhaji to go with it ….

Cauliflower & sprouting broccoli

The other day I bought these pretty little sweet peppers called Chiquino from Tescos mostly because I couldn’t resist the gorgeous, vibrant colours and smooth glowing skin.  Added a few to the dal and saved some which I intend to stuff to go with a salad later and here they are…..don’t you agree they are gorgeous?

Chiquino peppers

Ingredients

1 cup orange lentils, rinsed
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 +1 tablespoons oil
1 large tomato, chopped
I teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1½ inch piece ginger, finely chopped
Few sweet Chiquino peppers (you could use the large bell variety & cut into long slices)
Salt to taste

Method

  • Fry the onion and cumin seeds in 2 tablespoons oil until the onion is golden brown
  • Add tomato, curry powder, turmeric, garlic and ginger and a little salt
  • Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring intermittently to avoid sticking
  • Add the washed lentils to the softened tomato and spices with 400ml of water
  • Cover and cook on low for about 25 minutes until lentils are cooked and the dal is thickish – if you prefer a thinner consistency, add a little more water and simmer for a further 5 minutes
  • With a sharp knife make a gash in the peppers and fry for about 3 minutes until nice and golden
  • Add to the dal and serve with plain rice

 

16Apr/15

Colcannon Patties

Colcannon patties & cassoulet

Potatoes again…. and why not?  I love potatoes, they are delicious of course, nutritious and versatile and I have no intention of giving these up ever.  Potatoes are my Desert Island food….would be difficult to choose any other vegetable if I had just one choice and I bet there are many like myself….mind I would prefer an island with olive trees, because for me, potatoes and olive oil is food of the gods.

I served these naughty but nice colcannon patties with a two bean cassoulet with butternut squash and some fresh crusty bread.  A bit of salad too would have been nice, but I ran out of steam.

Ingredients

1 kilo (2.2lbs) floury roasting potatoes (King Edwards, Maris Piper)
1 large leek, very finely sliced
2 cups finely shredded green cabbage (Savoy) or pointed cabbage
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
Oil for frying

Method

  • Peel, dice and boil the potatoes (or peel, slice and steam – this is how I do mine)
  • In the meanwhile, cut the leek lengthwise and slice finely. Cut the cabbage finely just as you would for coleslaw
  • In the olive oil, gently sweat the leeks and cabbage by cooking covered on low heat for about 5 minutes – stir intermittently to keep it from browning

Colcannon patties

  • When the potatoes are cooked, mash them thoroughly, add salt and mix
  • Now fold in the cabbage and leek and mix with a fork
  • Form into fat round patties and shallow fry for about 3-4 minutes each side on low to medium heat
  • Serve with bean cassoulet with butternut squash and enjoy!
16Apr/15

Two bean cassoulet with butternut squash

Cassoulet with butternut squash

If you are a vegan like myself you will know all about beans and lentils and legumes…. not only how versatile they are, easy to prepare as most beans are available in tins and incredibly delicious and nutritious.  The variation of taste from one bean to the next, or lentils for that matter, is blessedly vast and I feel so humbled to have so much available to us to eat to our heart’s content and more.

I actually die the cassoulet as an aside!  What I really wanted and craved for dinner tonight was a big, fluffy, potato cake!  Naughty, yes! but I do love potatoes and have no intention of feeling guilty about it either.

My take on potato cakes today was to add some cabbage and perhaps leeks at which point I realised what I really wanted were some colcannon patties!  Yaaay, so it shall be.  But what to serve with the patties…not baked beans from a tin – no didn’t fancy that.  Enter the cassoulet! that rich, satisfying, French “peasant” food I would happily abdicate my throne for, if I had one!

Eventually, after much deliberation, I decided upon a two bean cassoulet with butternut squash.  Borlotti beans were married with Cannellini beans simply because I love the sweet, creamy taste of Borlottis and had a hoard of tins in the cupboard. Butternut squash went in for sweetness and texture – don’t you just love the gorgeous colour of a squash?  The orange of the flesh is like no other orange and orange is definitely not my favourite colour, and I am always hesitant as I pop butternut squash into the pan because it glows so perfectly on the chopping board….but needs must and in it goes! I tend to buy cheap red wine and then freeze if so often add a shot or two to my pot but this is optional so don’t rush out to buy wine specially.  I believe in making use of what I have to hand and never rush out to buy any ingredient unless it is absolutely vital to the recipe.  Enjoy ….by the way, here’s the recipe for the main course, Colcannon Patties!

Colcannon patties & cassoulet

Ingredients

Half medium sized butternut squash (about 500 grams) peeled & cut into large chunks
1 tin of white beans (cannellini beans)
1 tin of Borlotti beans
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon Herbes de Provence or mixed herbs
1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos or Tamari/soya sauce
50ml red wine – cooking wine is fine (optional – I used some because I had some frozen in the fridge!)
350ml water

Method

  • Gently fry the onions and garlic until translucent
  • Add all the ingredients and about 350 ml of water
  • Cook on low for about 25 minutes until squash is cooked – check seasoning, you shouldn’t need more salt
  • Check the consistency while it is cooking – you may need a little more water – just eyeball the gravy you want to end up with!

Note: Drizzle with parsley pesto before serving –optional but it does give it that extra buzz!

Parsley pesto
Blend together 1 cup of chopped flat leaf parsley, with 1 large clove garlic and 5 tablespoons olive oil

12Apr/15

Potato & Leek Gratin

Potato & leek gratin(2)

I think almost all my favourite dishes have one invariable…..Potatoes!! What about you? Okay so what vegetable teams best with potatoes?  For me leeks or onions…they both add a sweetness and creaminess no other vegetable can come close to, specially if the leeks or onions are sauteed.

So here we have potato & leek gratin minus the cheese – why no cheese? because we don’t need cheese, not at all.  Simply add a dollop of good quality nutritional yeast and you have a perfect, creamy, cheesy sauce.

I hope you will try this as it is simply the best potato and leek bake I have done to date and yet it is simple and takes very little time to prepare.  Serve with some greens (I love spinach!) or a salad – anything goes! 

3-4 servings

Ingredients

6 medium waxy potatoes (boiling potatoes) about 700 grams, thinly sliced
2 large or 3 medium leeks, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
I packet Vegan “bacon”, about 8 rasher (I use VBites Vegetarian Rashers which are vegan)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (not your best olive oil!)
1 heaped tablespoon nutritional yeast (I use Bob’s Red Mill which is excellent but a tad expensive – Marigold is a lot cheaper but I’ve not tried this)
1 small cup vegan cream, about 150ml (I use Oatly Longlife)
1 small cup water, about 150ml
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence or a mix of thyme, rosemary, oregano
2 level teaspoons cornflour
Little salt and pepper to taste

Potato & leek gratin

Method

  1. Fry the thinly sliced leeks and garlic in olive oil for about 10-12 minutes until wilted and cooked or until the edges just start to go brown – remove and set aside
  2. In the same pan, add roughly chopped up vegan rashers and fry for a couple of minutes
  3. Tip the leeks and bacon into a large ovenproof dish
  4. Cover with thinly sliced potatoes
  5. In a bowl mix together the cream, water, cornflour, nutritional yeast, herbs, salt and pepper and pour over the potato and leeks
  6. Cover and bake in pre-heated oven at 200C, 400F, gas mark 6 for 40-45 minutes until potatoes are cooked
  7. Uncover and pop back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes to brown the potatoes
09Apr/15

Step-by-step Vegetable Biryani

Veggie biryani(2)

Traditionally, biryani is a rice dish prepared for feasts or special occasions by cooks who are hired specially to cook a huge vat, often outside in the garden on an open fire or even in the street if you don’t have a garden. It is served with yogurt raita and salad and, for me, doesn’t need any other supporting dish. Most families will treat themselves to a simplified version of biryani over weekends or holidays.

Biryani is rice layered with a spicy, fragrant vegetable curry where the vegetable curry is sandwiched between two layers of rice – it is quite simple and hardly ever goes wrong.  The rice is cooked till it is al dente (almost cooked with a tiny bite to it) and you can use a whole range of vegetables or step out of line and add a tin of chickpeas or white beans. 

One would think that rice layered with a vegetable curry would taste no different to eating rice and curry, but you will be surprised how different it tastes once it is layered and steamed.  The trick with biryani is to use generous amounts of fragrant whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, nutmeg and star anise – biryani cooked by professional chefs for weddings etc use an awful lot of fragrant spices and liberally sprinkle the rice with rose water and saffron prior to steaming the rice.

Here is a step-by-step vegetable biryani recipe which works for me every time with a perfectly balanced amount of fragrant spices and if you cook curries often, the chances are you have all the ingredients in your cupboard – so what are we waiting for….let’s venture forth and cook biryani like the professionals or better!

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 cups, about 300 grams Basmati rice (soak for an hour at least)
Half a large cauliflower, cut into large florets
400-500 grams potatoes (about 4 medium potatoes)
1 tin of seitan, cut into bite-size pieces (I use “Mock Duck” by Marigold) – you could use soya chunks or any other substitute
Fry together
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
Few cloves, cardamom, black pepper (about 4-5 each)
2-3 small pieces of cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons oil PLUS 1 tablespoon for layering rice (see below)
Mix together in a bowl
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg powder
2 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
4-5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato puree
3 tablespoons natural unsweetened soya yogurt
Juice of half lemon
½ teaspoon salt
Garnish – fry in a little oil for 1 minute
2 tablespoons each of cashews and raisins

Method

  • Fry onions together with the whole spices listed above until onions are golden brown

Veggie biryani(3)

  • Mix all the other spices listed above and add to onions
  • Fry spices for about 5-7 minutes, adding small splashes of water, until the spices are cooked

DSC_0096

  • Add potatoes, cauliflower and “mock duck”
  • Add approximately 200ml of water, cover and cook on low for about 20 minutes until veggies are cooked, but not mushy

Veggie biryani(4)

Cooking rice and layering

  • Rinse the rice, add a little salt and bring to boil in plenty of water in a large, deep saucepan
  • Boil for about 3-4 minutes in which time the rice should be almost cooked (al dente) – it is best to keep an eye on the rice at this stage as Basmati rice comes in numerous grades/varieties and the cooking time depends on the quality and type of the rice; strain in colander
  • Put about ¼ cup of water in the pan and 1 tablespoon of oil
  • Spoon about one-third of the rice in the pan and tip all the vegetables on top of the rice
  • Add rest of the rice to the pan to complete the layering

Veggie biryani(7)

  • Cover lid with a clean tea cloth and place firmly on the pan

Veggie biryani(8)

  • Steam rice on medium heat for 5 minutes, then lower heat to low and continue to steam for a further 15 minutes by which time the rice should be steaming
  • Serve garnished with cashews, raisins and the fried onion you set aside earlier
01Apr/15

Cheating Roast, cider & apples

Roast with cider(3)

We don’t eat an awful lot of processed food but the other day Holland & Barrett had one of their ‘buy one get one half price’ sales on and we bought a couple of VBites Cheatin’ Roasts for a quick Sunday meal. Instead of having it with the usual gravy, I find it best to cook it pot roast style with some veggies and fruit which create their own thick sauce and keep it nice and moist.

What veggies you use is down to you as well as the cooking medium – I have tried brown ale, cider, wine and just water and depending on which Cheatin’ Roast you opt for, one of the above is a very simple way of making this roast special.

Here I have teamed their Cheating Gammon Style roast with Aspall Cider, being vegan, it was the obvious choice.

Ingredients

One VBites Roast (I used the Cheating Gammon style 390g available at Holland & Barrett and online – see link)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, thickly sliced (use 1 large onion if you don’t have shallots)
1 large sweet apple, sliced
3 sticks of celery, sliced
8 dried apricots
1 bottle Aspall’s cider – 500ml plus 300ml water (Aspall’s is vegan)
1 teaspoon dry sage
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cornflour mixed with a little cold water
Salt to taste

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a deep pan and add all the vegetables – fry for a few minutes to release the flavours
  2. Place the roast in the pan and add cider, water, apricots, sage, bay leaves and a little salt
  3. Cover the pan and let the roast simmer on low for about 45 minutes, turning the roast once halfway through cooking
  4. With a wooden spoon mash some of the vegetables then mix the cornflour with water and add to thicken gravy. You may find that your sauce is thick enough for you, in which case you can skip the cornflour!
  5. Serve with steamed greens and potatoes

Note: Whichever brand of cider you use, try to use a medium sweet cider but if the roast tastes a bit tart, add a tablespoon of brown sugar towards the end

27Mar/15

Carrot fritters

Carrot fritters(2)

Have you ever looked in your salad drawer and found sad faced veggies begging to be used?  I bet you have!  The other day my husband pointed out that the carrots looked very sad and would welcome some attention from me.  And that’s how I decided to make some carrot fritters for lunch and am the first to admit that the carrots behaved very well indeed… just scraped off the hairy bits! and underneath they were good to go.  You could do the same with courgettes although carrots are crunchier and such a pretty coral.  Sweet mango and chilli sauce tied the proverbial knot and the carrots were over the moon with all the attention they were getting – so everyone was happy!

Feel free to experiment with spices of your choice or add one de-seeded chopped green chilli to it for the extra bite!

Ingredients

1 cup chana dal (split peas) soaked for 1 hour if have the time, if not, no worries
½ teaspoon garlic powder (use fresh if you prefer)
½ teaspoon ginger powder (use fresh if you prefer)
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ level teaspoon baking powder
2 cups grated carrots
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 heaped tablespoon basan (gram flour)
Small handful of chopped fresh coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Flour to coat fritters
Oil to shallow fry

Method

  1. Rinse dal and add ¼ teaspoon of baking powder, garlic, ginger, turmeric and water (water should stand about 2 inches above the dal)
  2. Bring to boil, lower heat and cook for about 40-45 minutes until dal is cooked but not mushy. If you can dry the liquid off do so, if you have too much left, just strain in colander
  3. Lightly mash the dal with a fork – leave most of it whole because it adds texture
  4. Add carrots, onion, cumin powder, gram flour, coriander leaves and salt and mix thoroughly. Add a little more gram flour if required
  5. Shape into flat patties, pat them on both sides in the plate of flour and fry on low/medium gas for about 4 minutes each side until golden and cooked through
24Mar/15

Mushroom & peas bhaji

Mushroom&peas bhaji(3)

Those who are familiar with my blog will know that most of my cooking is based on simple recipes to help you prepare a hassle-free, simple and satisfying meal.  Making your own seitan or vegan cheese is great and a lot of fun, but most of us only get around to do these once in a while…..So here’s a mushroom & peas bhaji which we had with brown rice & chickpeas (also a quickie, see link below) and some flat leaf parsley and red onion salad……simple, yet a perfect combination and hits the spot just right!

Rice with chickpeas(4)

Brown rice with chickpeas

Parsley Onion salad(3)

Parsley & red onion salad (olive oil, lemon juice & sea salt dressing)

Ingredients

200 grams button mushrooms (best to use button mushrooms for this recipe)
1½ cups frozen peas
1 onion, sliced
2 good tablespoons oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, chopped
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon chilli powder (use less or more, according to taste)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
Salt to taste

Method

  1. Fry onions in oil until pale golden
  2. Add all the spices, salt, tomatoes and tomato puree and fry over low heat for a few minutes to cook the spices
  3. Cover and cook the tomatoes on low for about 10 minutes until soft
  4. Add mushrooms and peas, cover and cook for a further 10-15 minutes