Food: Roasted Vegetable Fusilli

Here’s a simple recipe you can knock up with very little effort in around 30 minutes! I used courgette, tomatoes and pepper, but feel free to use any Mediterranean veg you can get your hands on. Aubergine would be great, but if using aubergine, remember to salt & wash it first!

You’ll need:

  • Handful of cherry tomatoes,
  • 1 Courgette, sliced
  • 1 Pointed pepper, deseeded & sliced
  • 1tbs Balsamic vinegar
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • Handful of basil, ripped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 100g Fusilli pasta (per person)

Turn your oven on to 140°C and let it come up to speed. Whilst this is doing, in a roasting tray, add the chopped veg, oil, balsamic vinegar and salt. Toss it around until the sweet, oily, vinegary mixture has coated each vegetable piece. Place in the oven and leave for 20 minutes, only checking halfway through. This is the time you can get on with the pasta.

Weigh 100g of pasta per person, I used 200g as it’s for myself and my partner, Tom. Boil around 1 litre of water in a kettle. Once boiled, add the water to the pan and salt liberally. Nigella famously said (albeit it a Anna Del Conte quote 😉 ) that the water should be as salty as the Med Sea. Add the pasta and cook until al-dente.

Once done, drain and add back to the pan. The roasted vegetables should be ready by now. Take them out of the oven and stir through the pasta. Add in around half of the ripped basil and stir again. It is now ready to serve.

Add to a bowl and finish with a crack or two of black pepper and the other half of the basil.

I paired this rustic yet tasty evening meal with half a loaf of focaccia I had got from Wright’s Food Emporium (an amazing bistro/deli in Llanartne, Wales.) and a chilled Peroni doppio malto.  They paired beautifully with the pasta!

Buon appetito!

Food: Top 5 Vegan Easter eggs

With Veganism & people following a plant based diet growing, the selection of Easter treats has also grown to accomodate. Last year, results from a survey came out saying that the number of vegans in Britain had grown 360% in 10 years! Here are my picks for the top 5 Easter eggs this year:

For a great milk choc alternative:

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Tesco Finest Free From Caramel Egg With Truffles, £4

This caramel flavoured milk choc egg, made with rice flour is great gift to give someone (or yourself ;)) this Easter. The beautiful box contains 3 fondant truffles, as well!

Available from most Tesco’s or online

All the small things:

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The Little Vegan Bakery Vegan Creme Egg, £1.89

Easter is synonymous with Creme Eggs, and just because you’re vegan, doesnt mean you have to miss out! These little morsels of ooey-gooey goodness are great to snack on whilst the Easter lunch is in the oven. Remember to stock up though, as they are very popular!

Available at Brontosaurus Vegan, Swansea Market or contact TLVB at their Facebook page here.

For the Gourmet:

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Hotel Chocolat Hard-Boiled Easter Egg – Ginger 70%, £15

This deep, dark chocolate made with Indian ginger oil and studded with hazelnuts is a decadent tour de force. The chocolate is very rich, meaning you wont need a lot of it to get that chocolate fix, and at £15, makes the purchase more economical. It even has little crystallised ginger & hazelnut ‘crunches’ for you to nibble on.

Available at your nearest Hotel Chocolat, or online.

For the Kids:

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(photo taken from here)

Sainsbury’s Freefrom White Choc Egg, 

A great white chocolate alternative, this is sure to make your kids beam with delight! Comes with buttons for a double-whammy of vegan white chocolate treats. Creamy and sweet, it’s hard to tell the difference between this and Milkybar!

Available at local Sainsbury’s, or online.

For something Different:

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Booja-Booja truffle eggs,various flavours, from £9.95

For something a little different to the usual Easter egg, why not splash out and get yourself a Booja-Booja Easter egg, filled with their award-winning truffles, tissue wrapped and encased in a special shell. The shell, alone is worth buying, handmade & painted by artists in Kashmir. Each one unique, the egg shell can be kept for years and re-purposed into a momento box etc.

Available from Brontosaurus Vegan, Swansea Market & So Cocoa, Mumbles

Have an egg-cellent Easter everyone!

Update: We are moving to Malmö!

My Facebook friend’s know and a few other people, so just in case you haven’t heard yet, I will be moving to Malmö in late July/ early August.

Tom has got a job teaching in nearby Lund, at Lund International school and as for myself & jobs, I have a few things up my sleeve 😉  Lund, btw is a stunning university town, home to one of Europe’s most prestigious of Uni’s, Lunds universitet. Only being roughly 10 minutes away from Malmö on the train, if you come visit Skåne, take some time to see Lund!

Jag kan inte vänta! (I can’t wait!)

I’m writing this morning, with news that the Brexit Bill put forward by PM Theresa May passed in The House of Lords last night, with no amendments to the original Bill; which doesn’t guarantee EU citizens rights living over here. It doesn’t guarantee for people who have set up their homes and families in the UK, who have paid their taxes. Instead, it will no doubt use EU citizens & their rights as bargaining chips when the negotiations start with the European Union and its 27 members. We will be effected by this, but It is better to try before the whole opportunity for young, working class people like myself to live & work within the EU fades into the ether.

The language isn’t much of a barrier, with Malmö being both in Sweden, where proficiency in English is impeccable, and it being a World city, I can get around with my English. However, this does not mean I’m not going to learn Swedish. Being interested in languages it’s a must. Having been learning the language on & off for years, now is the time to get my head down and learn it!

I have wanted to move to Norden for years and visiting Copenhagen/ Malmö 3 times in the last 12 months I had truly fallen in love with it! So before Brexit totally stops us, we are trying. We cannot do more than simply try.

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A reason I love Malmö is how multi-cultural it is! Supposedly the city is home to people from 170 countries of this world. Which is bloody fantastic! It is so important, in these times, seeing the rise of Rightwing populism and xenophobic rhetoric and attitudes, that we expose ourself to as many cultures as  we can. Hopefully then, people will humanise eachother which stops the main strategy of the current Right; to de-huminise and see people from different nationalities as ‘other’ and usually, therefore, lesser.

Being only across the bridge from Copenhagen (and a hell of a lot cheaper!) loads of infrastructure has crossed over. So, whilst Copenhagen is the top city for cyclists in the world, Malmö is also in the Top Ten.

Ever since the Öresundsbron/Øresundsbroen  (the setting for the Nordic Noir drama, The Bridge) opened in July, 2000, Malmö has benefitted from being Linked to it’s Danish sis. These days Malmö is a young, creative city, reportedly one of the most inventive cities in the world. So much is happening these days, so many startups! Like the Studio Malmö, or Media Evolution City.  Malmö even, recently hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013, following singer, Loreen taking the crown in Baku, Azerbaijan with her song ‘Euphoria’.

 

As a foodie, the city seems like heaven for me! There’s new places popping up all the time, providing great food/ drink. From the new gourmet/ artisan food market, Saluhall, Djäkne kaffe, a quality coffee shop & great place for fika, the HQ of one of the most innovative vegan brands in the world, Oatly to Wunderchef, a new innovative food delivery service, serving up home-cooked food.

Or for the restauranteur, there’s, Michelin starred, Bastard, to amazing concept canteen, Saltimporten. You can pretty much get any cuisine in the city, with it being so diverse. The shawarma you can get there, is one of the best I’ve ever tasted and as a Brit, thinking i’ll miss the unctuous cuisine of back home, well no fear, theres even a fish & chip shop in Malmö. I love it!

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And as a design lover, it’s simply amazing. Being only 30 mins from the Design Mecca that is Copenhagen, you are spoilt for choice in Malmö. There are plenty of design & interior shops, written about here. The city is home to Scandinavia’s tallest structure, The Turning Torso, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava. There is also the Form Design Center, home to the famous and coveted Cocoa Ögon poster by Midcentury master, Olle Eksell. The city is home to my friend’s design brand, Emerybloom. Check them out if you’re looking for amazing prints for your interior! Malmö even has its own Moderna Museet, it’s like the Comparison between Malmö and Stockholm; Stockholm is bigger, Malmö is smaller, but both are as cool as eachother!

 

I cannot wait to move! If you haven’t noticed I’ve fallen completely in love with the city;

Jag älskar dig malmo! Ses Snart!

Food: Eating Vegan at The SWiGG

 

When describing Swansea to anyone new the fact that it’s by the sea will probably come up at least once. It’s great for surfing, long walks along the sands and generally admiring in all its beauty. I’d imagine “vegan” isn’t the first word that comes to people’s’ minds when they think about Swansea.

The SWiGG however has an exciting new menu that includes, not just vegetarian options, but SFV options too. The recently reopened bar and bistro has been working hard to tempt new custom down to the waterfront for a unique take on Welsh cuisine. Situated in the shell of the National Waterfront Museum’s older wing, directly opposite the iconic lighthouse and tugboats in the heart of the marina, The SWiGG is inarguably more sophisticated than ninety percent of the bars and restaurants around. It offers the chance to sample something a bit different – a Welsh take on tapas. Well, more like ‘small plates’ than anything, but it’s an opportunity to try something uniquely Swansea but crucially, with a Vegan twist.

To begin with a glance at their coffee and daytime options, if you’re looking for delicious and SFV then look no further than their cakes and chocolate cups from Naturally Kind Food, washed down with some Coaltown Coffee (Soy milk available, of course). If you’re sticking around for a drink then how about some of their SFV beers like the award winning Cwtch from Tiny Rebel Brewery. For the more sophisticated try a gin cocktail with Dà Mhìle seaweed gin. They also stock a great range of soft drinks and juices like Hartridge fruit juices.

FOOD Swigg

For lunch or supper there’s the Beetroot Hummus, Crudité and Pumpkin Seed Salad is a riot of colour and flavour. The hummus itself is big on colour but delicate on flavour. Their Laverbread and Leek Stuffed Mushrooms are gloriously meaty (forgive the expression), with a zingy filling that bursts with lemon zest. Finally, their Vegan Salad is laced with ribbons of carrot, with tangy hits of crunchy peas, dotted with jewels of pomegranate seeds and crunchy peanuts, dressed with a soy rich dressing. They also have a Tabbouleh Salad with bulgar wheat, tomatoes, pomegranate, parsley and lemon and they’re working on a new breakfast of avocado, tomatoes and mushrooms stuffed with laverbread and lemon on toast.

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So, whether you’re chilling in the Cwtch Corner under the bespoke artwork, sitting at the bar, basking in the sun outside or inside at a table, you never feel like you’re just another customer. If you’ve ever wondered what Wales can offer the world beyond a SFV take on cheese on toast, then The SWiGG has the answer.

Vegan Salad

Design: Housfolk #featurefriday

I’m so chuffed that the Instagram group Housfolk, an Interior inspiration group who are as in love with Scandinavian, Mid-Century & Modern design as I am, have featured me in their most recent #featurefriday post. Run by the 3 admins of the Facebook group where it all began; Neena, Laura & Natalie are lovely lassies (Laura & Natalie are Scottish ;)) all with stunning homes & a penchant for Nordic/retro design. A couple of weeks ago I was asked by Laura if I’d like my home included, I jumped at the chance.

 

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I feel so blessed that even as a Swansea boy on a tight budget, that people, other than myself actually like what I’ve done with the place. Considering, here in the UK the crisp white walls of the Nordic interiors palette are more common to find in an art gallery than in ones home. But why not make your home a gallery, let the pieces of furniture sing like great paintings I say!

Housfolk was a great find to not only drool over other peoples interiors & antique finds, but also a great place to communicate with likeminded people, troubleshoot any problems or to share a great bargain deal, so that they could join in with finding that little bit of cheap, Scandi-inspired design on our very lackluster British Highstreet.

They even do #winitwednesday giveaway competitions, working with brands & artists to bring you amazing pieces that you can win.

Check them out!

 

Food: Beetroot, butterbean & dill burgers

Here’s an easy recipe for some tasty ruby red patties, perfect with a zingy balsamic dressed salad.

You’ll need:

  • 2 tins of butterbeans, drained
  • 1 Roasted beetroot, grated
  • 1tbs lemon juice
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • Glug of garlic oil
  • 1tsp dill oil (optional)
  • Handful of fresh dill, chopped
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt & pepper

To roast the beetroot (I do this in advance with many different types of veg when I have a big bag or when I’m roasting other things) drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 25 minutes on 180 and then leave to cool. Drain the beans but keep the aquafaba. I tend to sieve mine over a cup or bowl.

Place the beans into a bowl and mash them until they’re mostly broken down. Combine with the other ingredients and mix thoroughly (hands are better than spoons!). Form them into patties and place them on a greaseproof lined tray, leave to firm up in the fridge for (min) 30 minutes to 1 hour.

When ready, place in a 160 oven and cook for around 10 minutes on each side (turn and repeat). Take out and leave to cool. They aren’t done yet but the cooling helps keep them together. When you’re ready to eat them, fry them in an oiled pan on a medium heat for a few minutes each side just to colour. The frying will bring out all the lovely redness of the beetroot. Place them back in a low oven to heat through and serve.

Last night I served mine in a sourdough roll with thick slices of avocado and my Vegan smoked salmon, available here. It goes well with roasted new potatoes and my beetroot and caraway martini, also available here.

Enjoy!

 

Drink: Beetroot caraway martini

Currently I have a little obsession with anything beetroot flavoured. After absolutely hating it as a child I can’t seem to get enough of the stuff now, it’s funny how our tastebuds change. Here is an interesting Nordic inspired cocktail that will give you some pep in your step, or rather beet on your feet.

You’ll need (per person):

  • 2 Shots of Vodka (I used REYKA Vodka, a smallbatch vodka from Iceland)
  • 1 Shot of  Dry Vermouth
  • 10ml Beetroot juice (I used James White organic beetroot juice)
  • Dash of sugar syrup
  • 1tsp caraway seeds

To garnish:

  • Some pickled beetroot

Combine all into a jug/pitcher and leave the caraway infuse the puce mixture for atleast five minutes to gain its aromats. When ready, strain into a martini glass and garnish with a slice of pickled beetroot on a cocktail stick. The earthiness will be quite beguiling, but it’s a definite to match with my vegan smørrebrød.

 

Cheers/ skål!