Food: Review: The Occasional Vegan

Sarah Philpott begins her book with a quote from George Bernard Shaw but I’m going to begin with a quote of hers:

“I’m a home cook, not a professional chef, but I’m passionate about inspiring others to eat well, simply, cheaply and above all, creatively.”

There is so much in this book and its origins that I can relate to. It’s the reason I started this blog, it’s the reason I still keep my Instagram, it’s the thing I think about in the shower, on the bus and rolling around at night when I can’t sleep. Food is a big part of my life and has been forever and reading through Sarah’s book I get where she’s coming from as a working class girl, growing up with food being a cornerstone of her life too.

Besides from the fact that we’re both Welsh and grew up in the nineties, there’s a lot in Sarah’s book that reminds me of my own complicated relationship with food. Food hasn’t always made me happy and I’m happy to sing that from the rooftops. I’ve struggled with an eating disorder, low self esteem and boughts of depression in my life that have been hard to deal with. Sometimes food has been my friend and at other times it has definitely been my enemy. It wasn’t until a few years ago (early 2015 to be exact) that my true passion for cooking and inventing food became a reality. Until then I’d been mostly living at home and my mother rules her kitchen with an iron rolling pin. Most of my suggestions for a splash of this and a dash of that fell on deaf ears. In fairness my Mam is an excellent cook so a lot of the time it was a case of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!”. That being said I thrived on having my own kitchen and my own ingredients to play around with.

The title of the book belies the fact that Sarah is a full Vegan and she lays out her reasons and the argument for going Vegan right at the start. It’s a book aimed at people who may be on the cusp of going the whole nine yards, who have never considered it before or people who have already made the leap. Stacked from beginning to end with recipes which are self confessedly “easy to make”, her aim was to deliver “proper home cooking” and she achieves that with aplomb. You will find a blast from the past in this book, especially if you’re Welsh!

So, I’ve been lucky enough to get a hold of an advanced copy from Seren and I’ve spent some time pouring over it and decided to create two recipes from the book. The ‘main’, as it were, is her Beetroot Bourguignon, a brilliant and simple take on this classic French dish. For the second I chose and old favourite from my own past, her Bara Brith. I was especially keen to see how both coped with the translation from non to Vegan and I’m delighted to say both are absolutely delicious. I was also keen for something that would make a worthy meal for Easter Sunday, something classy but also casual and not too strenuous. As it happened I’d just returned from an epic walk and needed something that was easy to make and I was not disappointed.

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Beetroot Bourguignon

Both recipes are deceptively simple but this one I was a little more curious to see how it cooked. I’m used to slow cooking everything but this recipe is a wholly hob affair and works brilliantly. The recipe itself is super easy follow, made from ingredients that are readily available and cheap to buy. I halved the recipe for myself and my partner and it still made enough for us to eat the meal twice without being stingy on portion sizes. It calls for the veg to be chunky and this suits doing this meal fast with little fussy prep work beforehand.

One slight deviation I made was making my own stock. It calls for a lot of stock and/or wine and this is where the depth of the flavour really comes from. I made mine by peeling my veg over a simmering pot and chucking in the ends of the onions and the garlic, seasoning with a bit of salt and leaving it to bubble away while I continued with the recipe. After about 20-30 minutes it worked its magic and was ready to be used. It’s a great way of avoiding stock cubes (which can be pricey) and using up your food waste. It’s one of those little cheats you can pick up easily and will quickly become part of your cooking regime. Leftover snag ends of leek or cauliflower or broccoli, stick them in a bag and hide them in the fridge until you’ve got enough to brew away on the stove. You won’t regret it as it will really give your cooking character.

The only time the recipe really takes is the time it takes for the green lentils to finish cooking. Don’t be tempted to go red, they’re way too gritty and don’t have the heft and richness of green lentils when fully cooked. When they’re done the whole thing is, forgive the phrase, meaty and substantial. I love how the beetroot just permeates all the veg with a deep, ruby red quality so the whole thing just glows on the plate. You might also be surprised to know that the beetroot doesn’t overpower everything else, it’s the primary flavour don’t get me wrong, but it’s a deep and complex flavour that goes brilliantly with mash and fresh greens.

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Bara Brith

For the Welsh, Bara Brith is an institution and as it was our first Easter in Malmö I was feeling a little bit of hiraeth (a Welsh word that defies literal translation but in essence means ‘a longing for home’). Translated, bara means bread and brith, as Sarah points out, “refers to the speckles of the dried fruit in the loaf”. It’s a classic, old school soaked fruit cake and is traditionally served with lashings of butter and tea. Traditionally they have egg and milk in them, which are, I’m happy to say, wholly redundant ingredients. It calls for a splash of non dairy milk but other than that all rising and binding duties are handled brilliantly by the rest of the ingredients. I regret to say I was a shade more dubious about this one than the bourguignon, maybe it was the blood of my ancestors crying out, but I’m thrilled to say my doubts were totally unfounded. The bake handles beautifully and the fruit maintain their succulence so each spiced bite comes away soft and sweet and bursting with flavour.

I deviated once more, fractionally this time, from the recipe as I used jumbo golden sultanas, as they are abundant in Malmö. As a variation on a theme they were a brilliant choice as they swell with tea to almost grape sized nuggets. I made sure to use Glengettie, a proper Welsh brew that my good friend Nia sent us in a care package from home, for the recipe as I knew that the common or garden black tea you get abroad wouldn’t cut the mustard. As for the recipe’s execution it couldn’t be much easier than this: soak fruit, measure dry ingredients, combine, stir and pour into a baking tin and cook until done. I would recommend watching over it for the last half an hour or so to check when the knife comes out clean as the fruit and the dough can make things a little deceptive. It makes quite the substantial loaf so it would be perfect for serving your friends and relatives if they come over. As a proud Welshman I couldn’t have been more impressed with the recipe and if you aren’t Welsh then I would recommend this as an alternative to the usual tea cake recipes. Perfect for a Welsh addition to a Swedish Fika (with some vegan butter and a sprinkle of Halen Môn salt, of course)!

Even though I’ve picked two of the more traditional recipes from the book, one of the things that excited me when reading it was the variety of the origins of her recipes. It’s a modern and worldly book and you can really feel her love for exciting and diverse flavours. I really can’t wait to make her porkless pie as it really excites me from a flavour and food innovation perspective. Easy to make, cheap to prepare and packed with hearty flavours, I’ve got to say I will be flicking through this one time and again for inspiration in the future.

 

Published By Seren Books, RRP £12.99

With Pictures by Manon Houston

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Food: Rude Food Recipe 4: ‘Keep the cold at bay’ soup

 

The #Beastfromtheeast has left its mark over all of northern Europe it seems and snowy Malmö is no exception. I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands with this stalwart soup that will batten down the hatches with plenty of fresh alium and flush out any lingering nasties with the heat of the chilli. The level of any of these is preferential, but here are the amounts that I used.

You will need:

  • 1 pack of cooked Beetroot, and its juice
  • The zest & juice of 1/2 lemon,
  • 1/2 tsp chilli, (go full tsp if you’re feeling particularly under the weather!),
  • 2 medium potatoes,
  • 1/2 an onion,
  • 1tbs Sauerkraut juice (optional, I used some, leftover from my dear friend Kathe Kaczmarzyk’s pop-up here in Malmö) ,
  • 3 cloves of garlic,
  • 3 rhizomes of fresh turmeric, grated,
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon,
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger,
  • Salt & pepper,
  • 500ml homemade veg stock
  • 1tbs dried parsley,

For the orange, ginger & mustard crème:

  • 2tbs dairy free crème fraîche (I used Oatly fraîche)
  • 1tsp wholegrain mustard
  • zest & juice of 1/4 orange
  • Thumb- size piece of ginger, grated

Garnish:

Handful of fresh parsley, chopped.

 

 

The method for soups is always fairly simple, the magic here is the contents and not the process.

Chop the onion, the garlic and the onions roughly, separately chop up the beetroot into chunks and make sure you keep the juices.

Gently soften the onion and the garlic in a little oil and then add the potatoes, stir them through. Begin to add the lemon juice, the sauerkraut, the beetroot pieces, the beetroot juice and then grate in the lemon zest and the turmeric. Be careful with the fresh turmeric as it will stain anything, including your skin, so you might want to use gloves. Add the spices, the herbs and then pour over the stock, season to your taste including the chilli!

Bring the whole thing up to a robust simmer before sticking in the oven at 140 degrees celsius (fan assisted) and allow it to do its thing for at least an hour. Take the whole thing out, stir and check the seasoning. When you’re happy with it you can blast the whole thing with a stick blender or a food processor until it’s thick.

The aroma should be rich and earthy with the beetroot and the garlic, the back notes from the sauerkraut and the lemon should be sharp and punchy. The heat should be there to the taste too from the chilli. The colour should be like you’ve liquidised rubies.

For the punchy crème, simply mix all the ingredients together into a bowl and leave to thicken for 5 minutes.

Serve with a good loaf of your favourite sourdough, a sprinkle of chopped parsley and a generous dollop of the punchy fraîche.

Enjoy!

Food: Rude Food Recipe 3: Vegan ‘Tatws pum muned’

As St. David’s Day, or the National holiday of Wales was last week, I’d thought that I’d make a Welsh dish with the rescued food from Rude Food Malmö.

This is my vegan take on the traditional dish, ‘tatws pum muned’ or ‘five minute potatoes’. It takes a little bit longer than five minutes to cook and prepare, but not much longer. This is proper home cooking so the flavours and method are super simple, but considering how cold the weather has been this week then this is exactly the kind of food I crave.

A hearty dish of thinly sliced potatoes and onions, cooked in some homemade stock, topped with some fried ‘ham hock’, made with Like Meat kebab chunks. Finished with some freshly chopped parsley &  a sprinkle Halen Môn celery salt.

You will need:

  • 3 medium potatoes (peeled)
  • 1/2 an onion,
  • 1 small carrot,
  • 250ml of stock, I used homemade veg stock using up leftovers & peelings
  • Handful of fresh parsley (chopped, to serve)
  • Salt and pepper,

For the ‘ham’:

  • 1 pack of Like Meat kebab chunks,
  • Couple of drops of liquid smoke,
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika,
  • 50ml of beetroot juice (if you have it),

 

Method:

Slice the potatoes thinly with a mandolin and put them in a bowl of cold water so that they don’t go brown while you’re doing the rest. Parboil the carrots in the stock water, when they’re beginning to soften remove them from the water.

Prepare the Like Meat kebab chunks (or as we are making them into a ‘ham hock’ substitute) in a medium bowl by adding the liquid smoke and smoked paprika. Add a splash of beetroot juice to make it a bit more pink (like ‘ham hock’ basically). When it’s stirred through you could leave it to marinate if you want. Along with the potatoes, they can sit until you’re ready to start cooking.

When you’re ready to begin, place a medium frying pan on a high heat and fry off the ‘ham’ pieces in a little oil. When they’re the colour of your preferred bacon put to one side on a plate. Give the pan a quick wipe to get rid of the colours that will stain. Lower the temperature of the pan and soften the onions. Drain the potatoes from their water and add to the pan.

In a wide frying pan brown the onions in a little oil and then add the potatoes, the carrots and the stock. I placed a Le Creuset lid over the potatoes to keep them under the water while they cook. Now, the name says five minutes but the cooking time is more like eight! When the potatoes are nice and tender remove from the heat and get rid of most of the stock (you can keep the stock once again and use in something else).

Plate up with the potatoes and carrots first, then scatter the ‘ham’ pieces on top and then garnish with plenty of freshly chopped parsley and a generous pinch of sea salt, I used Halen Môn’s celery salt.

 

Enjoy/ Mwynhewch!

 

 

Food: Easy broccoli & borlotti bean penne with my Zogghiu

On the weekend I bought a big bunch of fresh mint from my local greengrocer for a Middle-Eastern dish. I was left thinking what to make with still a sizeable bunch left-over. Turn to Sicily!

In Sicily, unlike other parts of Italy, they have a special Eastern Influence on their flavours, because of the island’s special history, this has lead them to use mint as a herb, rather than just a garnish or for sweets. This has produced some real treasures like zogghiu, a minty & pistachio filled pesto. It would normally have some parsley too, but my version still produces a great, fresh & zingy sauce for pasta.

Serves 2

To make you’ll need:

  • 200g dried penne (100g per person)
  • Half a head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 tin of Borlotti beans, drained

For the zogghiu (pesto):

  • Bunch of fresh mint (cut the stalks off)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 4tbs rapeseed/ olive oil
  • 1tbs pine nuts
  • 1tbs pistachios (unsalted & shelled)
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1tbs white wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

Garnish:

  • Few mint leaves
  • handful of pistachios

Start with the pesto, simply add the ingredients into a food processor and whizz up into a fragrant green paste. Before blending, keep a few mint leaves aside for garnish. Remember to stop half way, scrape the sides down with a spatula and go again, this will ensure a smoother, more even pesto. Then remove and scrape into a bowl.

Put a pot of salted water onto boil, as it gets up to speed, place in the broccoli. Poach until they’re tender, but still have a bright green colour. Remove with a scoop. Place the pasta in and cook for 8-10 minutes, until al-dente. In the last minute of cooking, add in the Borlotti beans. Strain and place back into the pan. Add the florets of broccoli and pour in 1/2 of the pesto. You can store the other half in the fridge or freezer for a future meal. Fold the minty sauce through the pasta and vegetables. Then scoop into bowls. Add a few mint leaves and a handful of pistachios as a garnish, a nod to whats in the very special pesto.

Enjoy!

FOOD: RUDE FOOD RECIPE 2: PARSNIP, SAGE & BROWN MUSTARD SOUP

For my second recipe as Rude Food ambassador; as I still had a glut of rescued parsnips and potatoes left, I thought I’d do a take on my roasted parsnip & mustard soup.

these are rescued ingredients I was given for this recipe: rescued parsnips, sage, apples & potatoes.

You’ll need:

  • 4-5 medium parsnips (roasted)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 potatoes, peeled & cut into quarters
  • 1tbsp German mustard (use wholegrain mustard as an alternative)
  • 1tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1tbs dried sage
  • 1tbs dried parsley
  • 1 Litre of water
  • Rapeseed oil

Garnish:

  • A handful walnuts chopped and toasted
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • 1-2 small golden roasted parsnips
  • slice of fried apple (optional)
  • Some walnut oil (optional)

 

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C with your baking tray loaded with a generous glug or two of rapeseed oil, then peel and parboil the parsnips and potatoes. Toss the parsnips in the hot oil and roast for 25 minutes or so.

While they’re cooking, chop and fry the onion in a Le Creuset style deep pan with a little oil until they’re soft and mellow. Next, add in the potatoes. When the parsnips are done, remove from the oven and snip into the pot with a pair of scissors (keep one or two smaller parsnips and leave to one side for the garnish). Pour over the water, stir in the mustards, the dried parsley & sage and season generously with salt and black pepper. Put the lid on and let it simmer for a further thirty minutes.

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When the soup’s done its thing, take a hand blender and blitz the whole thing into a thick, creamy soup. For the topping, chop and toast the walnuts in apotatoes dry frying pan.  Finish with chopped parsley, a slice of fried apple, walnuts, a drizzle of walnut oil and the whole roasted parsnips you kept from earlier.

Serve with with a good hearty loaf; I served mine with a crusty walnut bread and a good beer!

 

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Food: Rude Food Recipe 1: Sage roasted parsnips on a bed of meaty green lentils

New for 2018! I’ve been made the Rude Food Ambassador for the next few months. Rude Food is Sweden’s first food rescuing service and I am lucky that it’s based here in Malmö. They stop perfectly good food from going to waste and promote good food practice to everyone. They usually return the food to the catering world to be used again but in order to help the promotional side of things they have asked me to write two recipes a month using some of their ingredients. Reducing food waste is a massive issue for me, not only for environmental and ethical purposes, but on a practical and economic level too. It just makes sense to make use of what you’ve got, so I’m thrilled to be taking on this role!

This first recipe is for sage roasted parsnips on a bed of meaty green lentils, served with a sour apple purée, blueberry pickled onions, plump sultanas and a sprinkle of fresh sage.,

If you’re wondering, here are the rescued ingredients I was given for this recipe: rescued parsnips, sage, lemons & apples.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the stock and the lentils:

600ml of water,

1 regular onion – ½ cut into half rings; ½ other half finely chopped.

150g of green lentils,

1 tsp of dried sage,

For the parsnips:

  • 4 parsnips,
  • 3-4 tbsp of rapeseed oil,
  • 2 tbsp of cornflour
  • 1 tsp of dried sage,
  • Salt,
  • Black pepper

For the sour apple puree:

  • 2 apples
  • 1 heaped tbsp of sugar,
  • 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar vinegar
  • Juice of ½ lemon

For the sultanas:

  • 20g of sultanas
  • A cup of the stock,

To serve:

  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • A handful of fresh sage,

 

For the stock and the lentils:

 

To begin you need to create a stock to cook the lentils in, one that’s imbued with the flavours of the main ingredients. To do this, simply peel the parsnips and the onion and add the skins to a Dutch oven of gently boiling water. Season with salt, black pepper and some of the dried sage. Having peeled the parsnips, cut them into decent sized chips; cutting off the thin ends then quartering the thickest part is best. Parboil them in the stock water for 2 minutes and then remove.

Allow the stock to reduce by a third. Ideally allow the stock to do its thing for at least an hour before taking out all of the skins. You can do this by straining the mixture over a bowl and then returning the water to the heat in the dutch oven. (Keep a small cup of the stock aside for the sultanas).

 

Fry the finely chopped half of the onion gently until soft in a little oil and then add to the water with the lentils and allow them to cook slowly in the Dutch oven for at least 45 minutes. Cooking them low and slow will give them all the time to lose their grittiness and take on all the flavours of the stock, leaving them meaty and moreish.

 

For the parsnips:

 

Preheat your oven to 220°c and layer a baking tray with the rapeseed oil and place in the oven until super hot.

 

Pat the parboiled parsnips down with kitchen towel to remove all excess water. Put the parsnips into a medium sized bowl and rough the skins up a little with a fork. Dust over the corn flour and season with black pepper, a pinch of salt and dried sage. Make sure the parsnips are thoroughly covered with the seasoning mix.

 

Remove the pan from the oven and place the parsnips into the hot oil carefully, they should immediately start to sizzle. Be careful to avoid spitting fat. Make sure the rapeseed oil covers all of the parsnips and return to the oven.

 

Continue to cook for 5 minutes on 200°c before reducing to 180°c. Cook for a further ten minutes before checking them.The undersides should be crispy and golden. Turn them all over and return to the oven for a further ten minutes. When they’re golden and crispy all over you can take them and remove any excess oil with some paper towel.

 

For the sour apple puree:

 

Peel and core the apples, cut them into small cubes and place in a small pan. Cover them with water and add in the sugar, lemon juice & apple cider vinegar. Allow the water to reduce and the apples to break down until you have a thick sauce. When it’s ready, remove from the heat and blend with a stick blender.

For the pickled onions and the sultanas:

 

Quick pickles are really easy to do and they can really add zing to a dish. You don’t need to use fancy vinegars but it is nice if you have a couple of bottles of nice flavoured vinegar ready for dishes like this.

 

Fill a small bowl with a third of water and add the vinegar, break up the half of the onion that’s been cut into half rings and sprinkle into the pickling liquor. Allow to absorb the vinegar for 20 minutes, but ideally a bit longer if you have the time. This can easily be made in advance, in fact they’ll keep in the fridge for a while and can be topped up and reused regularly.

 

For the sultanas, leave some of the stock aside and put in a handful of sultanas in a cup. Let them plump up in the warm stock.

 

To serve:

 

Layer a bed of the lentils in the bottom of a dish and place the parsnips on top. Spoon a little of the apple on the side and sprinkle with the sultanas, the pickled onions and some fresh sage.

 

Food: Brekkieklubben launch

Whilst being here in Malmö, I’ve noticed the lack of breakfast options. Sure, Malmö is a culinary hotpot of different cultures & cuisines, but they don’t really ‘do’ breakfasts here. Sure, there’s the Scandi style cold-cuts frukost and then on the weekend plenty of places offer a ‘brunch’ but, it’s yet again a buffet affair, where people queue up and many miss out to what they want. Seeing the gap in the market, this is where Brekkieklubben (literally, The Brekkie Club) comes in.

Together with my Aussie mate, and fellow Swedexpat, Anya Trybala (who I’d check out her music project & label Ninoosh & Synth Babes Records) came together to bring the best of a Melbourne & British Brekkie to Sweden! And as I’d been listening to a lot of Kate Bush that morning and with Stranger Things 2 (then) on its way to be released, we wanted it to have a cool 80s & early 90s vibe.

We’ve been working together with Gro’up, an amazing community run space & restaurant founded by Nina Christensson (one of the founders of both SMAK & Bastard) and run by the bloody stellar duo of Project manager, Edith Salminen and Head Chef Marcus Schön. They are such a great addition to the food scene in Malmö and conveniently around the corner from our apartment.

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So, myself, Anya and Tom spent from the end September to mid November honing our idea & concept, Tom creating original art for the project with his illustration business, Jom Tones Illustration, myself pitching the idea at Ideon’s ‘Pitcher’s Corner’, until we set the date for our launch on Sunday the 26th of November. Selling Tickets through Eventbrite, we managed to drum up both trade, in the guise of 19 tickets (plus a further 4 walk-in orders) and interest by regularly updating our social media channels. With the menu written up, containing our spin on British & Aussie favourites and classics such as Eggs Benedict that you simply cannot get easily here, we were ready for the launch!

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The prices for the tickets were 146kr for a Brekkie plate (that you ordered, in advance, especially for you), coffee & a special surprise (which were vegan bread & butter puddings, inspired by the very British combo of ‘tea, toast and marmelade’, topped with Oatly fraîche. I Even made my own bitter orange marmelade for them!). We catered to people of all diets with a gluten free ‘Punked Porridge’ option and I made it my mission that most of the dishes were or could be made Vegan Friendly.

 

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On The launch day itself, Edith thankfully helped us through our very first service. It went amazingly well considering, albeit, I’m an accomplished cook and have worked in the service industry, but I had never been this side of the kitchen before. We got the food out, with relative ease and every customer was satisfied, together with some 80s & early 90s hits rocking out on the speakers. Edith then gave us a de-briefing on how to improve next time.

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Check out Brekkieklubben on

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/Brekkieklubben

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/brekkieklubben

So, people of Malmö look out for the next opening of Brekkieklubben, very soon!