Food: Vegan Smørrebrød

Smørrebrød, (lit. butter and bread), or open faced sandwiches, are an iconically Danish dish, but much of their popularity is due to a recent renaissance thanks to Adam Aaman’s Deli and Takeaway. Before that, their heyday was during the 19th century when they were eaten in Copenhagen restaurants by men playing cards. These days they’ve become an art form in themselves, each sandwich carefully constructed like ‘Nordic sushi’.

Using my recipe for Vegan gravlax I decided to come up with some classic combos. Smørrebrød needs good bread base so I bought a seeded rye rugbrød from Brød in Cardiff. The smør (butter) element is just as important to the dish as the bread, so make sure you layer each slice with a generous spread of your favourite butter, Vegan in my case. Spread liberally, In Denmark they say you should ‘spread corner to corner’.

Here are three classic varieties.

For the laks you’ll need:

  • 4 slices of Vegan gravlax,
  • Sprig of dill
  • 4 slices of cucumber salad,
    • Half a cucumber, sliced finely
    • 4tbsp sugar
    • 4tbsp white wine vinegar
    • some mustard seeds; some black peppercorns
    • Handful of fresh dill, chopped finely
    • a few bay leaves and a splash of water.

To make the cucumber salad simply combine the ingredients in a small bowl and leave to do their thing for an hour or two at least. It’s best to leave them for longer so the cucumber has time to soften a bit. I make mine up and leave them in the fridge as they last for ages.

To assemble, simply combine artfully & garnish with a sprig of dill 😀

For the kartoffel, you’ll need:

  • 3 medium new potatoes, boiled, cooled and sliced into coins,
  • A dollop of vegan cream cheese,
  • A spoonful of seaweed caviar (available from IKEA),
  • Sprinkle of crispy onions,

For the cream cheese I used Oatly’s PåMackan that I brought back from my trip to Malmö. Sadly it’s a Scandi exclusive for the time being but any Vegan cream cheese would work. I personally like the one from Bute Island Foods.

Again, to assemble, simply layer artfully with the potatoes at the bottom.

For the Levepostej og rødbeder, you’ll need:

  • 2tbs of Vegan leverpostej (see below),
  • 3 pieces of crinkle cut pickled beetroot,
  • 1tbs of chopped parsley,
  • 3 rings of lingonberry pickled onions:
    • 1 red onion, sliced thinly on a mandolin,
    • 1tbs lingonberry cider vinegar (IKEA),
    • 1tbs lingonberry syrup (IKEA),
    • A splash of water,

Again, the pickled onions benefit from having been made in advance, but an hour or two will do. As for the leverpostej (liver pate), this was a bit harder to replicate. It’s a classic Danish ingredient but for a Vegan it requires a degree of creativity! I used the mushroom pate from Suma, which is very rich and delivers that meaty body that you need. To give it the classic pink hue I simply mixed in some pickled beet juice! Hey presto – a convincing alternative is born.

Enjoy your smørrebrød with a shot of cold snaps – oh, and don’t forget to use cutlery! (It’s a faux pas to pick them up with your hands in Denmark :P)

SKÅL!

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Food: Pancakes of love

Here’s a recipe for some easy vegan pancakes to whizz up for Valentine’s for your sweetheart, works well for Diwrnod Santes Dwynwen (25th January) too!

You’ll need:

For the pancakes:

  • 100g self raising flour,
  • 50ml non-dairy milk (I used Oatly)
  • 1 mashed banana,
  • 2tbs golden syrup/agave nectar
  • Pinch of salt

For the strawberry & raspberry lovebomb:

  • Handful of frozen raspberries
  • Handful of frozen strawberries
  • Splash of water
  • 1tbs golden syrup/agave nectar
  • Splash of gin (I used Brecon Gin by Penderyn Distillery)
  • A few fresh raspberries and strawberries

For the salted caramel sauce

  • 1 tbs non dairy cream (I used Oatly)
  • 10ml of water
  • 20g sugar
  • Pinch of good quality salt (I used Halen Môn vanilla salt)

 

To make, start with the lovebomb, so it has plenty of time to set. Start by heating up the frozen raspberries, strawberries, water and golden syrup/agave nectar in a pan. Simmer until they start to release their juice, add the gin and stir. Remove from the heat and whizz in a food processor until it forms a coulis. Set aside and leave to cool. When it’s cool pour the contents into a heart shaped mould (I used a heart shaped cookie cutter on a plate) and put in the freezer to set.

For the salted caramel, dissolve the sugar and the water in a pan. Raise the heat until it starts to form a caramel then add the non-dairy cream and stir in a pinch of Halen Môn. Set aside and leave to cool.

Sieve the flour into a bowl and begin to pour in half of the non-dairy milk, stirring gently with a whisk the whole time. Now add the mashed bananas and bring together into a thick batter, making sure you whisk out any lumps in the flour. At this point you can judge how much more milk you need – for Scotch or American style pancakes it needs to be quite thick. Whisk in the sugar and the salt. When it’s ready, pour into a lightly oiled, hot frying pan and watch like a hawk. When the sides start to cook and the middle is bubbling flip it over with a fish slice. Adjust the temperature of the pan to suit your needs. When each side is golden brown set aside. After frying they might need 5-10 mins in the oven to make sure they are cooked through.

When you’re ready to assemble, stack the pancakes high and be as creative as you like with soy whip, caramel sauce and top it with the love bomb. I hope your other half appreciates the effort ;)!

Food: Sweet potato moqueca

This recipe started as a way to use up some leftover sweet potato I had in the pantry. By now, it’s one of my weekly favourites. Its super tasty and simple to make!

You’ll need:

  • 4 Medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 Large red onions
  • Glug of vegetable oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 1tsp Chilli flakes
  • 1 tbs Of palm oil
  • 2 Bell peppers (I used green & red)
  • 1tsp Of tomato pureé
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 tsp Ground coriander
  • 1tsp Of dried parsley
  • 1 tin Of peeled tomatoes
  • 100ml Of water
  • 1/2 Of coconut milk
  • 1 Vegetable stock pot
  • Squeeze of lime luice
  • Handful of jalapeños, chopped

Coconut Rice:

  • 1 Cup of rice (per person)
  • 1/2 tin of coconut milk
  • Water
  • 1 Dried chilli pepper

Garnish:

  • Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped.

 

Peel the sweet potatoes & chop into thick chunks. Boil them until soft in a pan of salted water. Once done, drain and set aside.

In a cast-iron pot, fry the onions – cut into strips & 2 cloves of garlic (minced) until soft. Add in a green & red bell pepper cut into chunks. Once everything has lost its toughness add in 2 tsp ground coriander, a sprinkle of chilli flakes, a big dollop of tomato pureé and a generous amount of fresh coriander. Add 1 tin of peeled tomatoes (taken and chopped into thick chunks on a chopping board) with its juice.

Fill up the tomato tin with water and add to the mix, getting out all the tomatoey goodness.

Then add in half a tin of coconut milk, a squeeze of lime juice, a vegetable stock pot, a few jalapeños and a tbs of palm oil – or dendê- which you can get online. Thankfully my mum had some Carotina oil – which is sustainably sourced, cold-pressed red palm fruit oil.

Finally add in the vegetables and season to taste. Cook incredibly slow for 3 hours.

Finish with loads of freshly chopped parsley and coriander.

I served mine with coconut rice, which I made by cooking the rice in seasoned water, the other half of the coconut milk and a dried chilli until fully cooked. The result is somewhat fluffy, somewhat sticky- FULL ON comfort food

I served mine with some lime Lemonaids, but a Brazilian beer such as a Brahma, would pair really nicely!

 

Bom apetite!

Drink: Vegan cold bomb

This morning I woke up feeling like absolute death – blocked nose, scratchy throat and phlegm’d up to my eyeballs (sorry!). Deciding to take the matters into my own hands and show it who’s boss, I made up a fiery concoction that will help de-congest, clear your sinuses and help you feel a little less rubbish on those long February days when work, kids and your immune system have got the better of you.

To make, you’ll need:

  • 500ml water
  • Thumb size piece of ginger, grated,
  • A pinch of chilli flakes,
  • A crack of black pepper,
  • 2 Tbs agave nectar,
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper,
  • Zest & juice of 1 lemon,
  • Handful of coriander leaves,
  • 2 shots of vodka ( I used ABSOLUT CITRON – because, you know, Scandi!)

The recipe could not be simpler. It’s exactly the kick you need when all you want to do is hide under the duvet and hypnotise yourself with films all day (just me?).

Start by putting the water on the hob, on a medium heat until it starts to simmer. Then, add the agave and stir. When it’s dissolved, add the grated ginger, black pepper, cayenne and chilli flakes. Next add the lemon juice & zest and give it a stir (the heat from the chilli should already begin to tingle your nose). Simmer for 8 minutes. Then, add in the coriander leaves and simmer for a further 2 minutes. Take off the heat and strain into your mug/glass of choice. Leave to cool a few minutes, then add in the vodka. With a final stir of a spoon, it should be done.

Easy and you should be feeling less bunged up in no time!

I’d recommend you sip it though, as it will blow your head off!

Enjoy & Get well soon x

Food: Vegan espresso gelato

This is one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made. It uses a handful of ingredients and minimal effort, but produces a rich & creamy dairy-free ice cream.

You’ll need:

  • 1 tin of coconut milk
  • A splash of soy milk/almond milk
  • 3 tbs of freshly brewed strong espresso
  • A Splash of Amaretto
  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • A sprinkle of salt

 

I had nearly a full tin of coconut milk (left over from the Spicy sweet potato and chickpea recipe here) that needed using up. I started to think what to make with it – and vegan gelato popped into my head.

Only full fat coconut milk will work here, so put the can of reduced fat milk away!

The actual recipe is easy, begin by spooning it into a mixing bowl, and with an electric whisk, mix until it comes together into a thick batter. Next, add a splash of soy milk/ almond milk – or any non dairy milk to loosen it up a bit. Mix again. Add the espresso and amaretto and mix again. See I told you this was easy 😉

Sift in the icing sugar and you guessed it, mix. Add a sprinkle of salt. Mix on the top speed to add a tonne of volume to it. When it’s nearly doubled in mass scrape of the excess from the whisk and pour into a lidded container. Now place in the freezer. It’s essentially done.

There’s only one thing left to do, it’s not hard though – every hour, just take the container out and stir it thoroughly with a spoon. Do this about 5/6 times and then leave it a few more hours to set properly (I left mine overnight). This will make sure the gelato is smooth and creamy when it hits your tongue.

The next day I made a salted chocolate sauce to serve with it.

To make this all you need is:

  • 50g good quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cacao solids)
  • 1 tsp flavourless oil (I used sunflower)
  • 1tbs agave
  • A pinch of good quality Sea Salt (I used Maldon)

 

To make: chop and melt the dark chocolate in a pan on a low heat on the stove. Add the agave and oil and stir until it comes together into a glossy, dark mixture. Take off the heat and pour over the gelato. The temperature difference should start to set the chocolate mixture. Sprinkle the salt on the dark topping & devour!

Food: Slow baked lemon & garlic aubergine with a tahini dressing

This is a straight forward recipe for a Levantine inspired aubergine dish with the flavours of Tahini, garlic, lemon, mint and coriander. Serves 2.

You’ll need:

  • 1 medium aubergine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • Zest & juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbs garlic infused oil
  • 2 tsp Sumac
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • 1tsp dried rosemary
  • Salt & pepper

For the Tahini dressing:

  • 2 tbs tahini
  • zest & juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbs sunflower oil
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • Handful of fresh coriander & mint, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp agave

Begin by chopping the aubergine in half. Place in a dish and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 30 minutes until juice starts coming out of the vegetable. This draws out all the bitterness. Wipe away the salt with a damp piece of tissue and place the aubergine halves in a baking dish. Drizzle with oil and spread the grated garlic and lemon zest onto the flesh of the aubergine, along with the dried herbs and the sumac. Squeeze the lemon juice all over, cover with foil and pop into a preheated oven at 140°C. This needs to be cooked low and slow, so put it in for 1 hour 40 minutes.

While it’s baking you can chill, read a bit, do what ever you want.

Or you could also use this time to make the tahini dressing! Simply spoon 2tbs of tahini into a bowl and add the zest & juice of the other lemon halve. Add in the garlic, agave for sweetness and the chopped herbs. Next, add in the oil and stir. If still a bit too thick, add 1tbs of water until it has a pouring consistency. A crack of pepper and a sprinkle of salt and it’s done.

After  the 1 hour 40 minutes is up, take the foil off the aubergines and turn up the oven to its hottest setting for a further 8-10 minutes, to crisp them up. Once crisp they are ready to serve. To plate up, place the aubergine on the plate and smother it with the tahini dressing. Garnish with some more fresh coriander. We served ours with some fluffy couscous garnished with jewels of pomegranate and fresh spinach cooked with 1 tsp lemon zest and a drizzle of Extra Virgin olive oil and some toasted almonds.

Like myself, you could serve a cocktail or rather mocktail to compliment the meal. This drink has all the classic flavours of the Levant. To make you’ll need:

  • 200ml Pomegranate juice
  • A dash of raspberry syrup
  • 2 Sprigs of mint
  • A Squeeze of lemon juice.
  • some lemon flavoured sparkling water
  • Plenty of Ice

To make, fill a glass with a handful of ice. Add in some raspberry syrup (I like to use the Polish raspberry syrup by Łowicz). Next top up the glass three quarters full with the pomegranate juice and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Top up with sparkling water and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Enjoy!