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

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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!

Food: Salt baked vegetable soup with hay ash

Based on the NOMA dish of vegetables salt baked with hay ash, I was inspired to make this soup. It combines my love for plant based cookery with a nod to New Nordic cuisine.

 

You’ll need:

For the salt dough:

 

  • 450g (2 cups) of plain flour
  • 112g (½ cup) table salt
  • 200ml (1 cup) warm water

 

For the soup:

  • 2 Small turnips
  • 1 Large Potato
  • 2 Medium carrots
  • ¼ Celeriac
  • 2 Medium parsnips
  • 1 Medium leek
  • 500ml water
  • Black pepper

 

To finish:

  • 1 tbs hay ash (I used a handful of hay, bought here)
  • 1tbs Oatly crème fraîche
  • 1tbs Seaweed black caviar (available to buy from IKEA)
  • 1tsp rye bread crumbs
  • A sprinkle of Saltverk lava salt

 

To make the dough, simply mix the salt and flour together in a bowl, whilst slowly adding the water until it comes together into a dough. Knead it for a few minutes until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Roll out to 3-4mm thick on a floured surface.

Cover the vegetables, until they are all wrapped up cosy in their salt dough blankets. Make sure you seal all the corners. Use a pinch of water if you need to make sure they are glued shut. You want the vegetables to steam in their own moisture in the oven. Place the vegetables in a baking dish and then into the oven on low (140°C) for an hour and a half.

During this time you can start prepping the hay. Get a handful of hay, place into a baking dish/ metal box and in a well ventilated area, set it alight with a match. Leave it burn down to ashes. Have some water/ emergency equipment on hand, just in case. Once it has turned to ash, you can use them to add an earthy, smoky, bitterness to a dish.

Once the vegetables have finished baking, they should have become fudgy, with their flavour, intensified. Break open their shells and place on a chopping board. Be careful at this stage because they are hot and you don’t want any stray pieces of the dough casings. Peel the celeriac, the skin should come away easily. Chop all of them up into small chunks, and add them one by one into a lightly oiled pan, starting with the leeks. Add the water and stir on a medium heat. Season with black pepper. The dish shouldn’t require more salt but taste test at this point just in case. Place the lid on and let it cook for a good 20 minutes on low.

Once removed, place into a bowl and whizz together with a stick blender until you get a smooth and even consistency. To serve simply replace into the pan and re-heat on low if needed.

To garnish, add a dollop of Oatly craimè fraîche to the bottom of the bowl and then finish the soup with sprinkle of lava salt, rye crumbs and the hay ash. Rest the caviar on the island of craimè fraîche.

(I’d recommend pairing it with a full bodied porter or IPA, I paired ours with an Einstök Icelandic Toasted Porter)

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Food: Carrot salmon & spinach lattice

Following from the success that was my fishless fishcakes recipe, I wanted to see if I could make “carrot salmon” the star of the dish, which is where the lattice pastry came in. This recipe is a perfect alternative for a salmon en croute and with Mother’s day on the horizon would be a perfect treat for any mam/mum!

You’ll need:

  • 4 medium/large carrots, peeled cut into coins,
  • 2 tbsp of Nori Flakes/ ½ sheet of Sushi Nori (cut into pieces),
  • 1 tbsp of dried dill,
  • Handful of dill stalks,
  • 1tsp dill oil (optional),
  • Salt & pepper,
  • Handful of fresh dill, chopped
  • 200g frozen spinach,
  • Zest of 12 lemon,
  • Juice of 1lemon,
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped,
  • Glug of garlic oil,
  • 1 pack of ready rolled puff-pastry
  • 1tbs aquafaba
  • 1tsp non-dairy milk (I used Oatly)

To garnish:

  • Sprinkle of salt (I used Saltverk black lava salt)

 

To begin,  boil the carrots until soft in salted water mixed with the dried dill, the stalks and seaweed.

Meanwhile, fry the onions in a pan until translucent. Set aside for later.

Once they’re done, drain and remove the stalks. Mash the mixture until you achieve a flaky consistency. Set aside in a bowl and leave to cool.

Then add the lemon juice & zest, the onions, the garlic oil, the fresh dill, and the frozen spinach. Leave it in the fridge for a few hours to firm up, during which point the spinach would have thawed.

Once firm & slightly dry, mix the now thawed spinach through the mix. Season to taste. Roll out the pastry and cut a box net, this is so you can wrap the filling up, leaving a window at the front. Leave a square of pastry aside, though, for making the lattice. Cut this into thin strips.

Place the filling at the centre and begin to place on the lattice strips, I did it in a diagonal formation, to give the impression of fish scales. Feel free to change it up, though! Once happy with the design, start to fold up the edges. At this stage if theres excess, you can fold it back down and simply trim it. Once folded, crimp each corner and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof.

Place into a pre-heated oven (180°C fan) for 25 minutes. Check and turn and place back in for another 20 until golden brown. Take out the oven and let to cool slightly.

Serve with some green veg, parsley potatoes and a crisp glass of wine.

 

Enjoy!

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Food: fishless fishcakes

Vegan /Eating plant based? Missing fish?

Here’s a ‘salmon’ & ‘tuna’ style fishcake recipe for a convincing taste of the sea!

You’ll need:

For the carrot ‘salmon’ & chickpea ‘tuna’:

  • Four medium/large carrots, peeled cut into coins,
  • 1 tin of chickpeas,
  • ½ aquafaba of the chickpeas,
  • 2 tbsp of Nori Flakes/ ½ sheet of Sushi Nori (cut into pieces),
  • 1 tbsp of dried dill,
  • Handful of dill stalks,
  • Salt & pepper,

 

For the carrot & chickpea cakes:

 

  • Zest of ½ a lemon,
  • 2 spring onions, chopped,
  • ½ aquafaba of the chickpeas,
  • Splash of nondairy milk, ( I used Oatly)
  • 1 tsp dill oil (optional),
  • 200g mashed potatoes,
  • Handful of fresh dill, chopped,
  • Juice of ½ a lemon,
  • 100g breadcrumbs,
  • 1 tbsp Oatly fraîche,
  • Salt & pepper,

 

Method:

To begin with the carrot and chickpea ‘fish’ mix, boil the carrots and chickpeas until soft in water mixed with the dried dill, half of the aquafaba, the stalks and seaweed.

Once they’re done, drain and remove the stalks. Mash the mixture until you achieve a flaky consistency. Set aside and leave to cool.

While they’re cooling you can fry the spring onions gently, leave these to cool too.

In a bowl add the carrot & chickpea mixture to the rest of the ingredients bar the other half of the aquafaba and the breadcrumbs. The mashed potatoes can be made up from a handful of potatoes or instant (they need to be cool however). I keep a store of mashed potatoes in the freezer that can be used for different things when needed. I’ve also added dill oil to my mixture, which I bought in Germany a while back. It might be a bit difficult to get hold of over here so that’s entirely optional. The overall purpose is to imbue the cakes with as much sea-like flavour as possible, hence the dill and the seaweed.

After the ingredients are mixed allow the whole thing to cool in the fridge for at least half an hour. Remove from the fridge and form into cakes, put back in the fridge on a tray so they firm up even more.

When you’re ready to crumb, remove the cakes from the fridge. Put the rest of the aquafaba in one bowl and the breadcrumbs in another. Dip both sides of the cakes in the aquafaba, then the breadcrumbs and straight into a lightly oiled frying pan over a medium heat. Fry until golden brown on both sides.

Naturally these are great with fresh steamed greens and new potatoes or you could experiment with adding curry powder or a mix of chilli flakes, lime and a splash of soy for a Thai fishcake alternative. They are great served at a barbecue.

Enjoy!

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