Food: Whole roasted cauliflower

I was craving a proper ‘Sunday roast’, a huge deal for a Brit abroad. But I had missed the boat on the Sunday, instead I made this tasty dish on Monday. A perfect cheap and vegan solution for those awkward family gatherings, where everyone else is catered for by a huge roast joint. It’s so easy to make, even Grandad could make it!

To make you’ll need:

  • A whole head of cauliflower
  • 3 tbs gravy granules (I used Bisto- Original (red))
  • 3tbs cornflour
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 1tbs dried parsley
  • 1tsp mustard powder (I used Coleman’s)
  • 1tsp garlic powder (Available from Flying Tiger Copenhagen)
  • 1tsp onion powder (Available from Flying Tiger Copenhagen)
  • 1tsp ground black pepper

Simply wash the cauliflower and carve off any stalk and unsightly bits from the main body. Pat down with a towel and pre-heat the oven to a nice 180°C. In a bowl, place all the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Then, start adding water, bit-by-bit,  until a thick, savoury paste has formed. Now, prepare to get messy! Use your hands (cleaned, of course) to cover the whole cauliflower with the paste. This will form a nice herby crust as it roasts in the oven. Make sure the cauli is evenly covered and place in the oven in a baking tray. Roast for roughly 50 minutes, before taking it out and turning the baking tray. Place in for a further 20 minutes. Once this is done, take it out and pierce the centre with a skewer, to check that it has fully cooked. If not, place it back in for a further 10 minutes. Once it has finished, leave to slightly cool before serving.

I’d recommend serving it with a medley of vegetables and a classic British onion gravy,  which I make from using Bisto Original (red), the cooking water from all of the veg and some fried onions. I also served mine with some homemade stuffing, of which I’ll post the recipe soon!

Enjoy!

 

 

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The roasted cauliflower, enrobed in onion gravy.

 

 

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Food: Curried pancake stack

This is what I made on Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday as an alternative to sweet British pancakes with lemon & sugar…which are amazing btw! Here’s how you can make these for dinner and have the sweet ones for dessert 😉 These are also, omitting the Oatly for  another plant milk/ yoghurt alternative, gluten free too!

You’ll need:

For the pancakes:

  • 100g Gram (chickpea) flour.
  • 30g Frozen spinach, thawed.
  • 100ml Aquafaba.
  • 2tbs Chia seeds.
  • 1tsp Green barley powder.
  • 1tbs of kalonji / nigella/ black fennel seeds
  • 1tsp Garam marsala.
  •  1tsp Chilli powder.
  • 1tsp Cumin.
  • Salt & pepper.
  • Splash of non dairy milk (I used Oatly)
  • 1 Portions worth of leftover curry, vegan in my case.

For the Raita:

  • 2tbs Oatly fraîche/ soy yoghurt
  • Splash of water (If using Oatly fraîche)
  • Thumb size piece of cucumber.
  • Handful of fresh mint.
  • Sprinkle of salt

To Garnish:

  • 6 Bhaji bites
  • Handful of chopped coriander
  • 5 lingonberry pickled onion rings, learn how to make them here

This recipe is a doddle to make, simply start by heating up your aquafaba on a low heat in a pan with the chia seeds. This should start the chia seeds coagulation process.

Whilst they begin to heat up, you can get your dry ingredients ready. Sieve the spices, green barley powder, gram flour and salt & pepper into a big mixing bowl. Once you can see the chia seeds have began to open and make a gel, take the mixture off the heat.

with a hand blender, pulse the spinach ever so slightly until it begins to break up. Combine with the aquafaba/chia mixture, then add the kalonji seeds. mix until you get a green, gloopy mixture. Now, all you have to do is simply mix with the dry mixture and add a splash of non-dairy milk accordingly until it becomes a thick batter.

Fry in an oiled pan, remembering to spread the mixture evenly. Keep an eye on the level of oil in the pan, between pancakes, you may have to add a bit more oil.

once they are all cooked, stack them on a plate for later.

I had a bit of batter leftover, but not enough to make another pancake. Instead of wasting it, I decided to make these bhaji bites. To the batter I added 1tbs of finely chopped spring onion, 1tsp turmeric and 1tsp paprika. mix and dollop a teaspoon worth into the pan, to which I added an inch of oil. They will slightly expand and bubble. Cook until crispy, but be vigilant as they can burn easily.

Once done, pop them onto some paper towel to drain and pop the leftover curry in a pan/ microwave to heat through.

Whilst you’re waiting for the curry to re-heat, it’s time to make the raita. Chop the mint & cucumber finely, adding to a bowl. Mix through the yoghurt/ fraîche. If you’re using the Oatly fraîche, you may need to add a splash of water to the bowl, as its quite a thick product. Season with salt & you’re done!

Time to assemble!

Layer each pancake with a big dollop of curry, then on the final layer, top with the raita & garnishes and finally crown with the bhaji bites.

It’s great paired with a light & refreshing beer. I made a shandy out of Five Points Ale & Cawston Press cucumber & mint soda and it worked perfectly!

Enjoy!

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Food: Peking jackfruit pancakes

This is a recipe to make a vegan version of my favourite takeaway dish: Peking duck pancakes. Its super easy to knock up and cheaper than going to the local Chinese 😉

To make the pancakes I used this recipe from the Queen of cookery herself, Nigella. It’s a great recipe and yields loads!

 

To make, you’ll need:

For the Peking Jackfruit:

  • 2 heaped tbs plum jam (I used my Nana’s homemade!)
  • 1 tbs golden syrup (agave/corn syrup also good)
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger (grated)
  • 1 tsp five spice
  • 1 tsp chilli paste
  • Glug of garlic infused oil
  • Glug of sesame oil
  • Dash of liquid smoke
  • 2 tbs Shaoxing  rice wine
  • 2 tbs Chinese black vinegar
  • 3 tbs dark soy sauce
  • 1 star anise
  • Splash of water
  • 1 tin green Jackfruit, drained
  • 1 tbs sour plum juice

Also:

  • 
3 spring onions, chopped
  • ⅓ of a cucumber, chopped
  • 4tbs hoisin sauce

To prepare the marinade:

Melt the plum jam in a saucepan with the golden syrup until it begins to caramelise. Agave or corn syrup are good alternatives. Reduce the heat and add the grated ginger, the five spice and the chilli paste and stir together. Add the oils to loosen the mixture and a dash of liquid smoke, the Shaoxing, black vinegar, soy sauce and a splash of water. The mixture should be heady, thick and aromatic. At this point you can add the star anise and let it simmer for ten minutes while you prepare the Jackfruit.

Begin by draining the water then cut the flesh away from the tough core. Cut the pieces into small chunks, stir into the mix when it’s ready and allow to cool. Let the Jackfruit marinade in the mixture for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

When it’s ready to cook, place them in a Dutch oven like a Le Creuset and bake in the oven with the lid off for about an hour at 140°c (fan) until dark and sticky.

The pancakes can be a bit fiddly but Nigella’s recipe is easy to follow and produces great results. They can take a bit of time to make so I’d recommend making them while the Jackfruit is cooking. After you’ve made them it’s important to steam the pancakes to give them that light and slightly translucent quality that the real ones have.

For the vegetables simply cut spring onions and cucumber into strips. Prepare a few ramekins for the Hoisin dipping sauce. Serve the whole thing on a platter and begin building!

 

I served the dish with an equally exotic cocktail, the Empress Wu with the flavours of plum, star anise, ginger and citrus – it perfectly compliments the Jackfruit dish.

For the Empress Wu cocktail you will need:

  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 4 shots of sour plum juice
  • Splash of ginger ale
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 shot orange liqueur
  • 2 shots Shaoxing rice wine
  • 200ml orange juice

Method:
In the first jug add grated ginger to 4 shots of sour plum juice (from a jar of plums – for a recipe on how to use said plums, check out my recipe for vegan apple,plum and ginger crumble). Combine with a splash of ginger ale, the juice of half a lemon and one star anise. Allow them to infuse for five minutes.

Strain the mixture into your serving jug (I used my Iittala Kartio jug – its simple, geometric form and its pop of green suited freshness of this cocktail). Add the orange liqueur and the Shaoxing. Top up the whole thing with orange juice and stir.

 

Enjoy!  享受!

Food: Spanish porkless stew

My recent affinity with Jackfruit continues with this recipe for a vegan alternative for Spanish Stew, full of the flavours and textures of the hearty Mediterranean classic!

Serves 4.

  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes,
  • 1 large onion, chopped,
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced,
  • 2/3 roasted peppers,
  • 1 tin of butter beans,
  • 2 tbs pimentón,
  • 1 tin of green Jackfruit,
  • 1 tsp tomato paste,
  • 1 tsp chilli powder,
  • 1 tbs dried rosemary,
  • A splash of sherry,
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary,
  • 125ml or a glass of red wine,
  • 2/3 Bay Leaves,

To make the picada:

  • 3tbs flaked almonds, toasted
  • 2/3 slices of stale baguette
  • 3tbs of the stew stock

Start off by frying the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft. Add the tomato paste and cut the peppers into small pieces and add to the paste. Let it cook out then pour in the tomatoes and let it simmer while you prepare the Jackfruit.

Drain the Jack Fruit and the butter beans.  Prepare the Jackfruit by cutting the flesh away from the hard, pineapple-like core. Add them, along with the beans, to the sauce.

Then, simply add the spices, the red wine and season with salt and black pepper. Cover with up to 500ml of water and let it simmer while you prepare the picada. A picada is an essential accompaniment to Catalunian stews.

Start by toasting the almonds in a dry frying pan. Keep an eye on these as they burn easily. When they’re toasted take them off the heat. Add the almonds and the bread to a pestle & mortar and crush until they resemble rubble. Continuing to grind, add in the stock from the stew bit by bit until it resembles a thick paste.

Once this is done add it back into the stew and stir thoroughly. Next, place into an oven on 140°C and let it cook for 3 and half hours on a low heat. Once the time is up, take it out, leave to cool slightly and serve. Remember to take out the sprig of rosemary and bay leaves before serving!

Enjoy with some crusty sourdough and a glass of red wine (or a crisp cerveza as I did 😉 )

¡Salud!

 

Food: Creamy aubergine pesto pasta

I had an extra aubergine in my fridge and I didn’t know what to do with it – well this a perfect for a midweek evening meal!

Feeds 2/3

To make you’ll need:

For the pesto:

  • A big handful of spinach
  • A handful of watercress
  • A handful of basil
  • 20g blanched almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 10g nutritional yest, ground
  • Some Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

For the dish:

  • 1 aubergine
  • 4 tbs of the pesto
  • 180g dried tagliatelle
  • 1tbs dried rosemary
  • Handful of wild rocket
  • Juice & zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of Vegan cream cheese- I used Oatly
  • Splash of Non-dairy milk- I used Oatly
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1tbs garlic infused oil

 

To start, all you have to do is blend up the leaves, nuts and garlic with a stick blender until smooth. Pour in the oil bit by bit until it’s a runny paste and then set aside. Next, add the nutritional yeast and season with salt & pepper then blend again. Done!

Prepare the aubergine by cutting it into coins and place them into a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and leave for 30 minutes until the juices have extracted. When this happens, pat them down with a wet cloth, sprinkle them with the rosemary and place on a chopping board. Chop the coins of aubergine into thick strips. Once this is done you can start cooking.

Set a shallow pan on a low heat with a glug of garlic oil. When the pan heats up, add in the aubergine and fry until it starts to soften. When this happens, squeeze the juice of half a lemon in and place the lid on for it to steam in the juices. Leave the lid on for a good 6-7 minutes or so. This is the time you can start the pasta. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted & oiled boiling water until sufficiently ‘al-dente’.

When you’re ready to take the lid off, the aubergine should be soft and the skin should have become a bright fuchsia. Now add in the pesto and allow it to cook down. Splash in some oat milk and a generous nob of cream cheese. Drain the pasta and stir through with a big handful of wild rocket. Make sure the sauce clings to everything – the heat of the dish will wake the rocket up. Heap into bowls and season with freshly ground black pepper.

I served mine with a large, crisp glass of white.

Buon Appetito!

 

Food: Kjötsúpa

As the Brilliant Icelandic drama ‘Trapped’ came to a close on the weekend, I thought, there’s nothing better (and more apt!) than to make my take on the traditional Icelandic soup (and cold cure) kjötsúpa. All of these products can be purchased from Asda.

Serves 4

To make, you’ll need:

  • 600g smoked lamb (I used 2 packets of Butcher’s Selection Honey & Mint Boneless Oak Smoked Lamb Shoulder- minus the sauce sachet)
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 small turnips, chopped
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 2 leeks, chopped finely
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbs rolled oats
  • Handful of kale
  • Handful of baby potatoes (skin on), chopped
  • Sprig of lemon thyme
  • Salt & pepper

Begin by bringing a large pan of water to simmer. Prepare the lamb by cutting it into small cubes and finely chop the onion. Add both to the water, season and allow to simmer gently for around an hour.

Chop the leeks, turnips, carrots and potatoes into ‘stew’ sized chunks and add to the pot. I left all my veg skin-on for the extra rustic touch. Add the lemon thyme and bay leaves and let it carry on simmering for another hour. During the last half an hour take the lid off and let it reduce a little. Sprinkle in the oats to thicken the broth. Stir in the kale just before you serve. You can even take it off the hob and let the residual heat work on the kale.

It’s now ready to serve.

I served mine with a rye loaf and an IPA.

Enjoy!

Food: Harissa carrot tagine

Here’s an easy recipe for a Moroccan carrot & chickpea tagine. This could not be simpler to make. Feeds 3-4.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large brown onion, chopped finely
  • Large glug of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 medium carrots, chopped & peeled
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tbs agave nectar
  • 1tbs harissa paste
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 125ml water
  • Handful of sultanas
  • 1 (heaped) tsp sundried tomato paste
  • Salt & pepper

To garnish:

  • Handful of coriander, chopped

 

To start, add the oil to a shallow pan with a lid and bring to a low heat. Next, add the chopped onion and garlic and fry off until soft and translucent.Once done, you can add the carrots, agave and spices. I’d recommend you chop the carrots so that they are ‘rollcut’- which means that you chop on the diagonal and rotate as you chop, this will give the carrots more surface area to suck up the spicy sauce and give an interesting presentation.

To the pan, add in the harissa paste and sundried tomato paste and turn the heat up to medium. Cook out for roughly 1-2 minutes. Once cooked, add in the chopped tomatoes and the drained can of chickpeas. Don’t throw away the chickpea water though, as this can be used as an eggwhite substitute for so many recipes!

Next add in the lemon juice, 125ml of water and the sultanas and stir until everything has melded together. Season with plenty of salt & pepper. Next, you have to let it do its thing. So, turn the heat down on the hob to its lowest setting and put the lid on. Leave on the hob for at least 10 minutes. While it’s cooking away slowly on the hob I’d recommend putting on the oven to a low 140°C. Once up to speed, transfer from the hob to the oven. Now, you can put your feet up as it needs to be in there for at least 2, preferably 3 hours!

In the meantime the kitchen will slowly fill with a lovely North African aroma 😉

Once the time is up, take out of the oven and add in a splash more of water and stir, just to reconstitute everything. Before you will be a rich & hearty tagine. Garnish with a big sprinkle of chopped coriander and it’s ready to serve.

 

We served ours with a mountain of fluffy couscous and some sweet mint tea.

Enjoy!