Food: Umami rice balls

So, recently I felt like absolute death and didn’t fancy cooking anything elaborate. But during a window of not feeling quite as bad I rattled together this little beauty with leftover rice.

You’ll need:

  • 300-500g of leftover cooked rice,
  • 1 medium onion, chopped,
  • A handful of spring greens,
  • 3-4 mushrooms,
  • 1 tsp tomato pureé,
  • 1 tbsp Suma mushroom pâté,
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary,
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs,
  • 2-3 aubergines slices (in oil), chopped,
  • Salt for sprinkling (I used Saltverk Birch smoked salt)

For the Tomato umami drizzle:

  • 1tbs Kecap manis
  • 1tsp tomato pureé
  • 1tbs tomato ketchup
  • Splash of water to thin

For the Rosemary, garlic & smoked paprika mayo:

  • 4tbs vegan mayo
  • 1tbs Pimentón
  • 1tsp dried Rosemary, ground
  • 2tsp garlic infused oil
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan) and chop all the ingredients that need chopping. Fry the onion lightly in a little oil until soft, add the mushrooms and spring greens and continue to fry gently until they’ve softened down. Add the tomato puree and the pate and stir through.

In a big bowl stir all of the ingredients including the herbs into the rice and bring together with your hands into balls (roughly tennis ball sized). Place the balls onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven until they’re crispy on the outside for 15 to 20 minutes.

Whilst they are in the oven, mix together the ingredients for the umami drizzle & the punchy mayo in bowls. Take the balls out of the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes. To serve, place in a bowl/ plate and cover them with the drizzle, sprinkle them with salt and serve the mayo on the side.

Enjoy!

 

Food: Columbian potatoes

This is my take on the Colombian dish, Papas con Salsa de Aguacate (potatoes with an avocado sauce), using sweet & purple potatoes, topped with a creamy intense avocado hit. My version has a spicy tomato base to transform it from a traditional side-dish into a tasty plantbased meal.

You’ll need:

  • 3 Sweet potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 3 purple potatoes/ potatoes roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tin of peeled tomatoes
  • 1tbs tomato pureé
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1tbs Pimentón
  • 1tbs ground cumin
  • 1tbs ground coriander
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red chilli, chopped finely (de-seeded if want less hot!)
  • Black pepper
  • Oil for roasting.

For the Salsa de Aguacate:

  • 1/2 a tub of Oatly fraîche
  • A glug of garlic infused oil
  • 1 avocado
  • Handful of coriander, chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Some red onion
  • Salt & pepper

Garnish:

  • Salt for garnishing (I used Saltverk Birch smoked salt)
  • Handful of chopped coriander

Start by parboiling the potatoes in salted water. As they’re boiling, place a baking tray in oven on it’s hottest setting, with a layer of oil (just like you’re making roasties). Whilst they are cooking, fry off the onion & garlic in a pan. When they are sufficiently softened the potatoes should be ready to take off the boil. Drain and place into the baking tray and oil. Flip over until they begin to sizzle. Place back into the oven to start roasting and crisping up.

In a baking dish, place the now softened garlic & most of the onion with the tomatoes, spices and the chilli. I’d recommend roughly chopping up the tomatoes. Season, mix thoroughly and spread evenly across the bottom of the dish.  After around 10-15 minutes, take the potatoes out and place into the baking dish, on top of the spicy tomato base. Place back into the oven, with a lower temperature of 180°C. Cook for a further 30-40 minutes before taking out. Leave to cool slightly, before serving.

Whilst the potatoes are in the oven, you can make the indulgent bit, the avocado sauce. In a food processor, place the Oatly fraîche, avocado, coriander, garlic oil, lime juice and the rest of the fried onion. Whizz up until it forms a creamy sauce. Scoop into a bowl. Season to taste. If too thick, you can loosen it up with a bit more lime juice.

To serve, drizzle on the sauce, the chopped coriander and a sprinkle of salt flakes. I used Saltverk birch smoked salt, which matched the smoky spicy taste of the potatoes.

I’d reccomend serving this with a couple of cold cervezas. I paired it with some Columbian Cerveza Aguila.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Food: Peaches with apricot, cardamom & lemon fraîche

Here’s a quick recipe for a dessert perfect for cooling down in the Summer sun.  The flavours also give a taste of the exotic, so even if you’re stuck at home, you can feel like you’re on holiday

Serves 2

You’ll need:

  • 4 peaches ( I used doughnut peaches as they are in season)
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 shot of lemon vodka (optional)
  • 2tbs sesame seeds, toasted

Apricot fraîche:

  • 1/2 tub of vegan crème fraîche/ yogurt ( I used Oatly fraîche)
  • 2tbs icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 apricots, chopped finely
  • 1tbs ground cardamom
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

 

Start by making the fraîche. Add all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix throughly. You can either then place it in the fridge to firm or do as I did and use the freezer. It will start to create a slightly frozen texture, like a semi-freddo.

Whilst it’s in the fridge/freezer you can prep the peaches. Cut them in half and de-stone. This is usually a messy job, so I tried to keep it intact by poking the stone through the other side. once this is done, heat up a pan on a medium heat. Place the peach halves in the pan, flesh down. cook until they begin to colour. Flip and cook for a few minutes. Squeeze the lemon juice over them and sprinkle them with the lemon zest. Take them out of the pan and place them into the serving bowls. This in an optional step, but I like pouring a shot of lemon vodka on them too! Take the fraîche out and dollop it on top. Finish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. I’d recommend you pair it with a Tokaji wine.

Enjoy!

 

 

Food: Barbecue Cauli Stack

Aldi recently had cauliflowers at 45p, so I bought quite a few; they’re a great meat alternative, versatile and last for ages! Here’s a recipe I came up with to emulate that meaty bbq taste!

You’ll need:

For the BBQ Cauliflower:

  • 1/2 Head of cauliflower
  • 1tbs tomato pureé
  • Splash liquid smoke
  • 1tbs dark soy sauce
  • 1tsp Chipotle chilli powder
  • 1tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tbs paprika
  • 1tbs pomegranate molasses
  • 1tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1tsp dried rosemary
  • Splash garlic infused oil
  • 1tsp onion powder
  • Splash of wate

For the charred sweet potato mash:

  • 3 Sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped
  • Salt n Pepper
  • 1 knob of vegan butter
  • 200ml plant milk (I used Oatly)

To finish:

  • 1 roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 4 lingonberry pickled onions, chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

 

Method:

Okay, so this method is a little unconventional, but bear with me.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into thick coins, layer them on a baking tray and drizzle a splash of oil and season with a little salt. Make sure all the pieces of potato are covered and then put into a hot oven (200°C) and bake for twenty minutes. At this point you need to watch them like a hawk because you want them to be burned but not incinerated! Once they’re browned or lightly blackened, remove them from the oven put them in the pan with the milk, vegan butter and a little more salt. If they haven’t fully softened by now they will in the mix. When they’re softened take off the heat mash them together. Depending on the size of your potatoes you may not need all of the milk, just enough to give you a thick but creamy mash. Spoon the mixture into chef’s ring/ decorative tart tin  on your serving plate and allow to cool. If using a tin, like I did you may have to flip it onto another plate.

Now for the bbq cauliflower. Put a pan on the hob on low heat and drizzle with a little oil. I like using a Dutch Oven such as a Le Creuset as it can go from the hob to the oven easily. Add in the tomato pureé and let it fry off. Next, add in the spices, syrups and soy sauce and stir them into the tomato mixture. You should have a smoky, dark paste in the pan. Cut the cauliflower into little pieces and add them into the pan, trying to coat them with the smoky sauce. Let it fry off for a few minutes, then add in a splash of water. Stir and with the lid on, place in the oven on a low heat (140°C) for 30 minutes.

Once the time is up you should have a brown, glistening and surprisingly meaty cauliflower mixture. Place in a bowl and add the pepper, pickled onion and coriander.

Place a Chef’s ring on top of the mash and spoon in the cauliflower mixture. Once filled, press it lightly and slowly take the Chef’s ring off. Finish with some more chopped coriander. Works great served with some fresh green veg, I served mine with some purple sprouting broccoli.

 

Enjoy!

Food: Vegan Irish Stew

With St Patrick’s Day celebrations over the last weekend why not try something traditional but with a Vegan twist? This simple recipe is made with TVP chunks which, I’ve found, aren’t that easy to track down! My packet was bought whilst on holiday in Llandrindod Wells! In any case, it comes dried in a bag and looks like misshapen croutons, but these swell to make delicious but firm soya pieces that can be used in a number of creative ways.

You’ll need:

  • 100g TVP pieces,
  • 2 medium carrots,
  • 2-3 medium potatoes,
  • 1 large onion,
  • 2 Bay leaves,
  • 1tsp of all purpose seasoning,
  • 250ml boiling water,
  • 250ml of Irish stout (I used Carlow brewing company for M&S Irish Stout as it’s SFV)
  • 1tbsp of dried thyme,
  • 50g barley or oats,

 

Prepare the TVP pieces first by covering them with boiling water in a bowl with the seasoning. They should begin to swell to nice, meaty pieces.

Peel and chop the onion and soften in a little oil over a medium heat in a decent sized Dutch oven, then peel and chop the carrots and potatoes into nice chunky pieces. Add these to the onions and pour over the boiling water and the stout until the veg is more than covered. Combine the barley or oats along with the TVP pieces and their broth into the pan and stir. Season with black pepper, dried Thyme and the Bay leaves. Check the saltiness of the water for preference. The seasoning can be quite salty so be careful when adding more.

Give the whole thing a good stir and then cook in the oven on a medium heat for forty minutes. When it’s ready the broth will be rich, the TVP will be soft but hold their shape and the vegetables will be cooked but not disintegrating. Enjoy with some crusty bread or potato farls and a liberal glass of stout, I paired ours with another couple bottles of Irish Stout brewed for Marks and Spencer’s by Carlow Brewing Company. Making the most of finding vegan friendly Irish stout
Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit! Sláinte!

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!