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: 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: Vegane Currywurst

The problem with a lot of mucky, über tasty street food is that it’s invariably meat based. Here’s an equally tasty vegan alternative to one of Germany’s signature dishes: Currywurst mit pommes. 

I highly recommend prepping the carrots in advance, they’re dead simple to prepare but it makes all the difference when they’ve had time to marinate.

You’ll need:

  • Two medium sized carrots (per person)
  • 1tbs Smoked paprika,
  • 1 tsp brown German mustard (or Dijon),
  • 1-2 drops of liquid smoke,
  • 1tbs of cider vinegar,
  • 1tbs of light soy sauce,
  • 1tsp Garlic infused oil
  • 10ml water

To serve:

  • 1tbs curry powder
  • 1 packet of frozen French Fries
  • Vegan mayo (Lots of it!)

Begin by topping and tailing the carrots and “carving” to make rounded ends, a bit like a wurst or hotdog style sausage. Peel the carrots and simmer in salted water on a medium heat until soft. Don’t over boil because they’ll fall apart and be of no use to anyone! You want the knife to slide through but not disintegrate when you lift them. When they’re done leave them to dry out and cool.

When they’re dry put them in a freezer bag or container to marinate with the paprika, cider vinegar, oil,  liquid smoke, mustard and soy sauce. Leave them to soak up the flavours for 3-4 hours or best, overnight. They’ll keep for a few days in the fridge if you’re making them well in advance.

When you’re ready to cook, fill a frying pan or wok with enough oil to shallow fry the carrots. Heat the oil to medium and then reduce if the fat is too hot for them. The carrots will start to blister and brown as they cook, turn regularly for 3-4 minutes.

Once browned, take out and put in a kitchen towel lined baking dish and pop in an oven preheated to 160°C, to finish them off.

You can now use this oil to cook the fries.

Once the carrots are done, take out and leave to cool slightly. Whilst it’s cooling you can make the currywurst sauce.

To make this I used:

  • 1 Heaped tbs of vegan curry (I used one I’d made previously but a spoonful of pre-made/bought sauce will do),
  • 1 heaped tbs of ketchup
  • 1tsp of curry powder
  • 1tbs of the carrot cooking water
  • 1tsp of sweet paprika (dulce)
  • 1tsp lemon juice

To make, simply whizz up the ingredients with a hand blender, transfer to a small saucepan and heat through until all of it has cooked out into a lovely punchy sauce.

To assemble, simply slice the carrots, smother in the sauce and finish with a generous sprinkle of curry powder. Serve with the crispy pommes & a German portion of Vegan mayo. You have to pair a great beer with it, I used a great peach infused Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weiße by Mikkeller, which went great!

Guten Apetit!

Food: Armenian stuffed peppers (Dolma)

Having bought loads of peppers on double discount at work last week I had quite a few left to use up. What perfect way than with some stuffed peppers!

I had made a vegan version of Armenian peppers previously, for my Eurovision party- and it was a resounding success. This was surely the way forward.

The finished dish ends up feeding 2-3 people  (we were very full afterwards!)

To make you’ll need:

  • 5-6 medium/large red bell peppers, charred

For the filling:

  • 80g of cooked rice (per person)
  • 1/2 fried courgette, chopped finely  (I used some from an antipasti jar to save time)
  • 2 Lombardi peppers, chopped finely
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped

For the mince:

  • 100g green lentils
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped,
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1tbs tomato purée
  • 1tbs sun dried tomato paste,
  • 1tbs dried parsley
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 cups of water
  • 1tsp bouillon
  • 1 cup red wine

For the sauce:

  • 1 carton/ jar of passata
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • A glug of olive oil
  • 1 (Heaped) tbs of pepper paste

Soy garlic yogurt mix

  • 2-3 tbs of soy yogurt (I used Alpro Go On. Which is a thicker Quark style yogurt)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic infused oil
  • A sprinkle of smoked paprika – to garnish

Start by making the mince.

I’d recommend doing this in advance so you have a batch ready for you to use.  We usually have big batches of lentil mince  in the freezer that Tom cooks up whilst I’m in work on a Sunday. It’s so versatile (if you remove the cayenne and mixed spice) and can be made into all manner of creations from pies, ragù, Chilli- you name it!

This batch i’ve included the extra spices as I knew this batch was only for making dolma.

In a small cast iron pot fry the chopped onion and garlic until soft. Add the paste and the purée and heat through. Pour in the lentils and stir until thoroughly coated with the sauce. Add the herbs, spice and bouillon with lots of freshly cracked black pepper. Cover with the water and put the lid on. Simmer for at last forty minutes, an hour won’t hurt – this will allow the lentils to truly swell and soak up all the liquid.

After an hour the mixture should be rich and just about ready. Stir in the wine until the mixture reconstitutes itself – allow to cook through for another twenty minutes until the wine has cooked out. Leave aside to cool slightly, or store overnight/ freeze*

*If using thawed/chilled mince, I’d recommend heating it through before stuffing.

Once your mince is ready the rest is simple and fairly quick to make!

When you’d like to make the dolma, simply put each pepper over an open flame ( I used my gas hob) until it begins to bubble and blacken. Once burnished and black, take off and leave to cool down.

PS: Be careful around open flames! The amount of times the pepper (now a ball of fire) fell off the ring- and I was wearing oven gloves!

As they are cooling I’d recommend cooking the other components.

Cook the rice as you would normally, remembering to cook slightly less than usual as you are stuffing it with a rice mixture rather than serving it with rice. Whilst it’s cooking start the sauce.

Heat up a saucepan and fry off the garlic with the olive oil until translucent. Next, add in the pepper paste and cook for another minute. Then add in the passata and let it simmer until the flavours start developing.

The rice should be done by this point. Set aside and leave to cool.

Return to the peppers and de-core & de seed them, making sure that you cut them close to the top so that you have a vessel to fill. Remember to keep the tops, though.

Grab the mince, empty it into a mixing bowl and combine it with the rice. Then, add in the lemon juice & zest, chopped peppers, courgette and parsley. season well.

Then pour the sauce into a baking dish and sit the peppers in the tomatoey-peppery bath. Fill the peppers up to the brim  with this aromatic mixture and re-hat them with their tops. Place into a preheated oven at 180°C for 10-15 minutes.

Once they are in the oven, you can make the topping. Combine all ingredients together, (except the paprika) until it becomes thick & glossy.

Take the peppers out of the oven and de-hat them once again ( no fear they’ll have their hats back on soon enough!) and smother with the  lemony-garlic yogurt. Top with the smoky, fiery paprika and return the tops on (see, I told you 😉 ). Serve with a side salad or on their own

Enjoy!

Food: Vegan Jagerschnitzel

Or the full title in German would be: Jagerschnitzel Veganisch (Blumenkohl schnitzel) mit champignons soße und pommes.

After my recent trip to Berlin with Uni, and the fact that Berlin is a vegan oasis- I’ve used this as inspiration make some some vegan schnitzel. This schnitzel uses cauliflower (or in German, Blumenkohl) in place of pork, which gives it some great bite.

 

To make, you’ll need:

  • 1 or 2 heads of cauliflower, cut lengthways into 4 thick steaks
  • 150g plain flour
  • 150g breadcrumbs
  • 200ml soya milk
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp white pepper
  • 1/2tsp mixed spice
  • One bottle of vegetable oil

 

For the sauce:

  • 75g small chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a large onion, chopped finely
  • 100-200ml soya cream
  • Handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 1tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1tbsp garlic oil

 

First start by cutting the heads of cauliflower into steaks. Small heads will only yield two decent sized steaks so I’d recommend getting two. The steaks should be at least 1 and 1/2 cm thick. Prepare your coating area by mixing the breadcrumbs in one tray and then the flour, salt, pepper and mixed spice in the other. Make sure you mix them through and evenly coat the bottom. Pour the milk into a wide bowl and dip the steaks, one at a time, into the milk then the flour mixture. Make sure you get into every nook and cranny – there’s a lot more fiddly surface area to cover on a cauliflower! When each steak is sufficiently covered in the flour mixture, leave on a rack for five minutes while you prepare the first part of the sauce.

Chop the onion and fry over a medium heat in the garlic oil. As they begin to brown add the mushrooms and fry until they begin to soften. Take them off the heat and return to the steaks.

Empty a third of bottle of vegetable oil into a pan wide enough to take the steaks – turn the heat to max and let it heat up while you prepare the next stage. Dip each steak in the milk for a second time and then in the breadcrumbs – remember to thoroughly cover each one, but don’t be tempted to double dip, therein chaos lies!

Test the heat of the oil with a small nugget of leftover cauliflower – when it’s bubbling like crazy and browns quickly, the oil is ready. Turn it down a shade and then lower the first steak into the oil – the browning should only take a minute or two so be ready to take it out. Have a cooling rack ready to take the steaks when they’re done – I used the one from the grill. I put kitchen roll underneath to take the excess oil (there’ll be a fair amount). Repeat the process for the other steaks then put the grill rack, steaks and all, onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 140 degrees celsius (fan).

While they’re baking fill your pan with the rest of the oil and return to max heat. When it’s ready deep fry your pommes until golden brown, let them shed their excess oil over kitchen roll then sprinkle liberally with salt  – I used Norður Salt.

Return your mushrooms and onions to the heat and add the soya cream and the mustard. Stir through until everything’s hot and combined. When then steaks are ready they should be golden brown. Poke the thickest part with a knife or skewer – if it goes through easily your steaks are done. Plate up and enjoy with stein of pilsner!