Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Vegan Winter Vegetable Pot Pie with Puff Pastry

Snow, chill, ice and rain please go away and let the sunshine radiate its warmth and heat, and that is coming from a person who is not so keen on hot weather.  I just want to stop wearing layers of clothing and worrying about the electricity bill warming up a place that is never going to warm up. 

One thing that will warm us all up is this Winter Vegetable Pot Pie.  All the vegetables are available right now, even the peas direct from your freezer.  The thick gravy sauce in this Winter vegetable pot is what makes the dish rich and rib sticking.  If you want more vegetables on your plate, serve this with sauteed green and mash potatoes for comfort. 
A number of people who have tried these have asserted their pleasing with a smile and one simple comment: Delicious!   And the meat eaters utter in surprise - I can't believe its vegan, its so flavourful.  I've also made this Vegetable pot Pie with butternut squash, red pepper and slender green beans. 
A word about the puff pastry topping - I have to admit, not out of laziness, although that is how it may be perceived by some, but the truth is I hate waste even with scraps of left over pastry.  I made square - almost rectangular puff pastry tops, which puffed up like pillow case.  I guess I could use the scraps of pastry to make shaped on top of the puff pastry, but sometimes I do not have the patience.  Anyway, aesthetically round ones are much better. 
Vegan Vegetable Pot Pie topped with Puff Pastry
Serves 6
4 tablespoons olive oil
I large onion, minced
chestnut mushrooms, sliced
4 carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and black pepper
Plain flour
vegetable stock
Handful of frozen peas
Packet of ready rolled puff pastry, cut out into  6 circles to fit your pie dish.

Heat the oil in a wide pan over medium-high heat. Saute the onions until transluscent, then stir in the celery,  carrots, thyme,  salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are beginning to soften about 10 - 15 minutes. Then stir in the mushroom and saute.  Add the flour and cook, stirring to prevent it from sticking for 30 seconds or so. Pour in the vegetable stock and peas, bring to a boil and simmer for a few minuted.  Turn off heat and transfer the vegetable mixture into ovenproof dishes or an 8-10 inch square baking dish. Lay the pastry circles on top. Bake until the puff pastry is puffed and golden - about 25 to 30 minutes.Bookmarked and adapted Mushroom Pot Pie recipe from Real Simple: Life Made Easier website.  

Monday, 25 March 2013

Chilli and Clementine Cheesecake

My not so little brother requested that I make the Chilli and Clementine, he's been feeling a little under the weather, so of course as a good big sister - I did as he requested and made him his own Chilli and Clementine Cheesecake.  I hope he shares some of it with his little ones. 
I have already posted this recipe earlier in the year, but of course by doing so again I can show it off once more.  This time I am sharing it with One Ingredient hosted this month by Laura of How to Cook Good Food and Nazima of Franglais Kitchen who are featuring my favourite ingredient chilli this month.
Clementine and Chilli Cheesecake
Serves 8
Packet of digestive biscuits
55g butter
225g cream cheese
280ml whipping cream
85g caster sugar
Zest and Juice from 2 large and firm clementines
Pinch of chilli flakes plus extra for garnishing
1 whole clementine, peeled and segments separated for the topping
Grease and line the bottom of a 8 inch cake tin and crush all the biscuits in a bowl. Then melt the butter in a pan and stir in the biscuit crumbs. Tip this into the cake tin, spread out and press firmly with the back of a spoon. Chill in the fridge. Put the zest and juice of the clementines into a bowl and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Stir in the cream cheese until it is of a smooth consistency. Whip the cream in another bowl, then fold into the cheese mixture, finally fold in the chilli flakes until combined. Then evenly spoon the mixture onto the biscuit base. Smooth out flat, cover with cling film and chill for at least 2 hours; even better overnight.
When the cheesecake is set, remove from the tin and decorate with clementine segments and sprinkle of the chilli flakes. Slice and serve.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Vegan Mexican Tamale Bean Pie

The girl from Mexico approves of my Mexican Tamale Bean Pie, other than it could have been a touch hotter and spicier and of course, traditionally its wrapped and cooked in corn husk, it got the thumbs up.  It made my day. 

I make this Mexican Tamale Bean Pie all the time, partly because its an easy dish to make, partly because I like eating it too.  I have posted it on my blog before, see this link, but it has changed a lot since then - before it was suitable for vegetarians, this one is suitable for vegans, though there is nothing stopping you from putting a handful of grated cheese on the top then putting it under the grill to melt or even topping it with a fried egg or two, but too be honest with you it doesn't need either.  It s quite tasty without the additional toppings mentioned. 
I am sharing one of these pies with One Ingredient hosted this month by Laura of How to Cook Good Food and Nazima of Franglais Kitchen who are featuring my favourite ingredient chilli this month. Also the soy mince, kidney and black beans in this vegan Mexican Tamale make this post suitable for My Legume Love Affair 57, this popular, legume-centred event was created by Susan, The Well-Seasoned Cook, and is now run by Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen.  This March it is being hosted by PJ of Seduce Your Tastebuds.  

Vegan Mexican Tamale Bean Pie
Serves  4 - 6 depending on the size of your pie dishes

for the pie filling
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
50g – 75g jalapeno from a jar, minced

Pinch of chilli flakes
350g reconstituted organic  soy mince
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
400g cooked black and kidney beans

300g vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

for the polenta topping200g quick cook polenta800ml water
4 tablespoons fresh coriander
Method for the pie filling
Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and garlic until softened slightly. Add the jalapenos, chilli flakes, soy mince, tomatoes, tomato puree, beans, stock, lemon juice and remaining coriander and cook on gentle heat for 30 minutes until thick like stew. Season to taste and pour into an ovenproof dish.
Preheat the oven to medium to high. 

for the polenta topping
Either cook polenta acording to packet instuctions Or
Boil the water, then slowly pour in the polenta whisking all the time, until it begins to thicken and splutter. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the coriander and salt to taste. Evenly pour over the pie filling and smooth. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or so.  Serve immediately. 


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Irish Vegan Menu for St Patricks Day

I know St Patrick's Day has passed us by now, but I am posting this for future inspiration. 

For starter Irish-Indian Spiked Milligan Soup. In memory of the world premier Irish-Indian, a root vegetable soup spiked with curried spices.
Served with home-made granary croutons in the shape of shamrocks 
The main St Paddy's Shepherds Pie was plated up like an Irish flag , not that dissimilar from my Irish Vegetarian Plate see this link
To the left green sauteed cabbage, in the centre the white mash cottage pie in the centre, to the right orange Chantenay carrots. Oh I did make some shamrock centre with parsley, but upon the baking in the oven, it kinda got lost a little.
Unlike my Welsh Red Dragon Burgers which are made from sweet potatoes, red hot chilli flakes and minced jalapenos, the 'Maggie May' Burger was one of my plainer versions packed with the orange glow of carrots, sliced french green beans and potato chunks, so you may want to have a dash of mustard to heat it up. 
For cake there was Orange Carrot Cake and Father Teds Chocolate Mint Cakes topped with shamrock, both suitable for those following a vegan diet.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Spiked Milligan Soup for St Patricks Days

I hummed at what to call this soup which was specially made for my St Patricks Vegetarian menu.  I eventually had decided on Indian-Irish soup, but my husband a huge Spike Milligan fan called it 'Milligan soup'. 
 Well why not?

So in memory of the world premier Irish-Indian, a root vegetable soup spiked with curried spices. 
 I wonder what Mr Spike Milligan would have thought of it. 
For those who opted for the starter of soup.  A bowl was accompanied with chunky home-made shamrock shaped granary croutons. 
 I am sharing a bowl of this soup with Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for this week’s Souper (Soup, Salad and Sammies) Sundays and One Ingredient hosted this month by Laura of How to Cook Good Food and Nazima of Franglais Kitchen who are featuring my favourite ingredient chilli this month. .

Spike Milligan Soup for St Patricks Day 
Serves 4 - 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon Curry Powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 pints vegetable stock, made with 1 teaspoon bouillon powder
Salt to taste
40g fresh coriander leaves and stalks, minced
Heat the oil in a pan, fry the onions until soft. Add the vegetables and spices and cook over gentle head until it begins to soften a little.  Then pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the minced coriander and add salt to taste, simmer until the coriander begins to wilt. Tweak seasoning and serve.  

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Vegan Chocolate Mint Cake for St Patricks Day

A rather quick blog post to wish my readers, especially those of Irish ancestry and heritage a Happy St Patricks Day.
I had originally planned to make Chocolate and Guinness Cake, but as some of you may know, Guinness is neither vegan or vegetarian as it uses isinglass (fish bladder) in the filtering process. I think there are other alternatives for both vegans and vegetarians, but I have to admit I have not done my research in this area, so if anyone knows of a suitable alternative for future baking, please do let me know.  Anyway, instead I decided to make a vegan Chocolate Cake flavoured with mint syrup. 

I had some green ready to roll icing left over from Christmas (to top my mince pies with holly leaves), so a couple of days ago  I used the last of it to decorate these cake to make them more appropriate for St Patricks weekend with shamrock.  If it wasn't Irish enough with the shamrock , my husband dubbed them further as 'Father Ted's Chocolate Mint Cake'.  For those of you unfamiliar with this reference, here's a link to the hugely successful Irish comedy show Father Ted shown by Channel 4. 

These little round cakes were rather popular, so popular that I had to make another batch for Saturday.  I have to admit the mint was very subtle, so I upped the quantity to 3 tablespoons for the second batch - much better.
Father Teds Chocolate Mint Cake 
Makes  8 x 3 inch round cakes
30g cocoa powder
180g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
165g brown sugar
200ml strong brewed coffee, cooled
100ml vegetable oil
3 tablespoons of mint syrup
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

Optional: Ready to roll green icing
Optional: Icing sugar for dusting

Heat the oven to Gas Mark 5. Oil an 8 inch round baking tin or 8 round/oval cake tins lined with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the sugar. In a small bowl, combine the coffee with the oil, mint syrup and whisk. Then beat the liquid into the dry ingredients. Then quickly stir in the vinegar.
Pour the batter into the prepared tins and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a toothpick in the centre of the cake comes out clean. These are better served the following day.

The following day, roll out green icing and use a shamrock cookie cutter for decoration and top cakes.  Sprinkle with additional white icing sugar.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Smoked Paprika Bean Stew with Orzo Pasta

I had a feeling it was going to be a quiet day at work, too cold for people to come out and leave their warm offices or warm homes.  You can hardly blame them, had I been in their shoes, I too would have been couched up in front of the fire, or in my case snuggled up under a blanket with my hot water bottle or next to the central heating.
And this is this is the kind of food I would want to be tucking into - a warm bowl of Smoked Paprika bean stew with rib sticking pasta, in this case orzo.  Orzo pasta also known as Riso pasta - so called because of its rice like shape. It makes for a wonderful addition to casseroles, soups and stews such as this one. Funnily enough the last time I cooked with orzo was also for a stew - if your interested, it was Kale and Bean Stew.

I think this is the right kind of dish for the weather we have today.  Oh so perfect in many ways, but namely to switch off to the howling winds, chill and ice in the air. I think its the smoked paprika that brings this dish together: warming, wholesome and soothing. 
I am linking this recipe with Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes. Jacqueline is hosting March 2013 Edition #22 of Bookmarked Recipes: a monthly blog event initiated by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen Experiments; .
Paprika Bean Stew with Orzo Pasta
Serves 6 with crusty bread
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onions, peeled and finely sliced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
4 stalks of celery, peeled of stringy bits and sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 - 11/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or to taste
2 x 400g tins of tomatoes, chopped
2 bay leaf
400ml vegetable stock
1 x 400g borlotti beans, drained and rinsed well
150g orzo/ riso pasta, or any other tiny shape
Handful of fresh parsley, well chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In a wide pan with a lid, heat the oil until hot.  Add the vegetables and and saute for a little while, stirring now again to stop it from sticking and burning.  Then stir in the garlic and continue to fry gently for about 10 minutes or so until vegetables become translucent, stir in the paprika and simmer for a minute or so for the flavours to infuse the vegetables.  Now add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaf and vegetable stock and simmer with the lid for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent the vegetables from sticking.
After 30 minutes or so, stir in the borlotti beans, along with the riso pasta and simmer until the riso is well cooked.  Fold in the parsley and season to taste.  I like it to be a little soupy bordering on stew like, but you can cook it a little more it you want a thicker stew.  Adapted for a veg(etari)an diet from Spooning with Rosie by Rosie Lovell.  

Friday, 8 March 2013

Peanut Banana Cake

One of my favourite childhood sweets to suck on was salty-sweet peanut sweets that were made at Lovells Sweet Factory  in Newport Gwent.   Shaped like a peanut they were sickly sweet on the outside, and a sherbet salty centre, oh how I enjoyed eating them.
I found similar sweets on my travels to the seaside, but they were not a patch on the original.  Anyway, a little while ago, I decided to make a Peanut Banana Cake.  It was simple and lovely.  
Now your going to ask me for a recipe, well it is this Banana Chocolate Walnut Loaf recipe with the addition of peanut butter and peanuts in place of the walnuts - simple as that. 
Peanut Banana Cake
Serves 6 - 8
2 - 3 ripe bananas, mashed
170g golden brown caster sugar
185g self-raising flour, sifted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons of smooth or crunchy peanut butter
80g unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to gas mark 4. Lightly grease a 8 x 4 loaf tin and line the base with baking paper.
Put the mashed banana and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Add the flour, eggs, oil, milk, peanut butter and gently stir until well combined. Stir in the peanuts.
Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 minutes to an hour or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Vegetarian Welsh Chilli Con Carne

I did not get round to getting a photograph of my St Davids Day Vegetarian Menu as it was one of my busiest and rewarding evenings.   But I know there will be a next time when I make my  vegetarian Welsh Chilli, so right now you will just have to imagine how this red, white and green Welsh Vegetarian Chilli looked like in a bowl.  The colour red from the peppers, white from the cannelini and butter beans, and green from the leeks came through, extra red from the tomatoes and chilli flakes.

It was popular with the chilli fiends and avoided by some for the slightly milder Red Thai Dragon Curry or Red Dragon Burgers.  And for those who did not like the idea of spices in either the Welsh Chilli or the Red Thai Curry had the option of Caerphilly Cheese, Leek and Potato Pie. 
Welsh Chilli: Red, White and Green in a Bowl
Serves 6

270g white beans, soaked overnight.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onions, finely sliced

3 large leeks, washed and sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 small red chillies, sliced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 red peppers, diced
1 x 400g can of tomatoes, chopped

1 pint vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: coriander, chopped for garnish
In a wide pan, cook beans in water until tender. Drain and set aside.
In a saucepan, warm the oil on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions become soft, then add the leeks and cook until soft. Add the celery and chilli, then cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat and stir in the cumin, oregano,  coriander, pepper and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook until the peppers begin to soften. Stir occasionally to keep the spices from burning. Then add in the tomatoes cook for about 5 minutes, then stir in the beans and cook for  another 10minutes before stirring in the stock.  Allow to simmer for 30 minutes on a gentle head.  Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with rice or home-made nachos.