Friday, 31 January 2014

Vegan Eats and Treats of January

The month of January ends with my blog featuring both old and new vegan recipes in support of Veganuary.  Veganuary is a new campaign in association with Viva!  that is encouraging people to pledge and eat vegan food for every meal this January.  Veganuary is not that far removed from Vegan Mofo, which was originally created by Post Punk Kitchen.  I took part for the first time last year and it was brilliant, not just for the vegan inspiration, but also as I got to meet loads of new bloggers through Vegan Mofo.    

January also saw two fellow bloggers feature me.  The Peace Patch and Rachel Cotterill: 10 Warming Vegan Recipes for Winter; and as part of The Vegan Edition for Foodies100.  I would like to take the opportunity to Thank you to both The Peace Patch and Rachel Cotterill for shining a light on my blog. 

Finally, onto January Vegan Swap.  My vegan food swap partner was Natural Vegan Eco Mom

Laura she sent me a bumper pack of vegan goodies: Kallo Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar Rice Cakes - The Food Doctors: Couscous and Lentil Pot; Hot Wasabi: and Chipotle Crisps - Morrisons Chilli Pistachios; and Salt and Black Pepper Cashews - Dairy free White and Chocolate chips - perfect for making cookies! - Nakd Pineapple; and Tangy Lime raisins ( a super nice change from Nakd bars!) and two completely new things for me to try - On the Go Carrot and Pecan Punch; and Spirulina Powder - I am looking forward to receiving some raw dessert recipes from Laura to try out the spirulina powder, I've had it as a health supplement, but have never used it in cooking.   Thank you so so much Laura, its nice to have discovered some totally new things in my parcel.  The Salt and black pepper cashew packet is already empty.
My receiving partner Vegan Vox.  Here is a photograph of what I sent her.  I hope she likes!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Golden Parsnip and Black Rice Soup

This naturally 'creamy' vegan Parsnip Soup is one of my absolute favourites.  I make it often, though not always with the garnish of black rice.  The soup takes on that golden glow from the turmeric, perfect for blustery days.   If you wish to make this soup even more 'creamier' you can add coconut milk to it, but I personally find it unctuous and naturally creamy without it.  The black rice gives the soup some texture and bite.  

I am sending a virtual bowl of this warming soup over to my friend Sally at Poppycock and Other Creative Nonsense, as she is suffering from the cold.  Hope your feeling better soon Sally.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

St Dwynwen's Day - Welsh Valentines Day

Did you know that Wales has its own Valentines Day known as Dydd Santes Dwynwens celebrated today - the 25th January.  

St Dwynwen is The Welsh Saint of Love and Lovers. 
Artwork by Norris Nuvo
Saint Dwynwen lived in the 5th century AD and was one of twenty four daughters of Saint Brychan.  Its a strange story, surrounded by much speculation.  The story goes, that Dwynwen fell in love with a man called Maelon, nothing unusual there I know, however what is interesting about this story is the outcome - She is then either raped by Maelon and prays for help: or she is unable to marry him due to her fathers refusal and prays to forget her love for Maelon. An angel comes along and provides her with a potion.  Maelon consumes it and it turned into ice.  She  repents at what has become of her love and prays for three wishes.  These three wishes are:  that Maelon be released; God look after all true lovers; and that she remain unmarried for the rest of her life.  She retreats to  Llanddwyn Island, off the coast of Anglesey to become a recluse and live in solitude until the day she dies around 460AD. The site has become a pilgrimage for lovers and is visited to this day.   

Her name Drynwen translates to 'she who leads a blessed life; and her most well known saying is 'nothing wins hearts like cheerfulness'.  So if you want to show your loved one a little affection today and celebrate St Dwynwen's Day with us today, why not download a Welsh Love Spoon Card for your loved one tonight, courtesy of Visit Wales.

I leave you with some home-made heart-shaped delights. 
Cranberry Scone - You can also stud with blueberries

Friday, 24 January 2014

Indo-Scots Fusion Burns Night

Over the years the Scottish haggis has undergone many guises from its traditional serving with mashed neeps  and tatties  on St Andrews Day or Robert Burns Night, to celebrate the Caledonian national bards birthday. 

These days there are many fusion ways to eat the hearty haggis. There is haggis samosas, haggis pakoras, haggis pasty, haggis spring rolls, haggis wontons, haggis lasagne, haggis pastitsio, haggis moussaka - a creation of my Greek flat mates when I was at University of Glasgow, haggis tostadoshaggis Tex Mac nachos, haggis sandwiches, haggis panini's, haggis bon bons, haggis pies, vegetarian haggis Scotch eggs! haggis quesadillas and even haggis wraps, in fact you name it, and someone, somewhere had made it!

Well here is my fusion offering that I created four years ago when Scotland was my home - Portobello Mushroom Haggis Pakoras with Curried Neep Chips.  

Please follow this link for some more interesting facts about Scotlands ethnic and cultural diversity and its fusion influences on cuisine.  In the cities of Scotland, you will often see aPunjabi-style haggis on menus at pubs and restaurants. To the traditionalhaggis recipe additional ingredients such as onions, cumin seeds, garlic, ginger, green chillies and other spices are added and Naan bread, rotis and chappatis replace the traditional 'neeps' and 'tatties'.

When I lived in Scotland, its diverse communities were recognised in a BBC Radio Scotland transmitted a programme Ravi Burns. In place of Burns's 'Address to A Haggis', the Scottish Sikh comedian actor Sanjeev Kohli gives us Ode to a Samosa: "Wee sleekit, cowrin' triangular tastie, oh what a picnic is in thy pastry'. The novelist Alasdair Gray also recited 'To a Mouse' against a background of sitars.

Now back to my dish. You may already know that every South Asian (m)Ummi Ji whether she is from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh will have her own traditional recipe for pakoras, but the one I am using for this recipe combines both Scottish and Punjabi cuisines. I often serve this with curried neep chips and mint-yogurt chutney. 

Portobello Mushroom Haggis Pakoras with Curried Neep Chips
Serves 4
For the Portobello Mushroom Pakoras
200g gram flour also known as chickpea or besan flour
1 tablespoon of garam masala
1 generous tablespoon of dried methi, also know as dried fenugreek leaves
1 teaspoon cumin or Ajwain seeds (also known as Bishop weeds seeds)
Salt and red chilli powder to taste
1 fresh green chilli, minced
Tepid water as required
6 – 8 large Portobello mushrooms
Sunflower or olive oil for frying
To make the pakora batter, put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and minced green chilli and mix. Add water gradually and mix the batter until smooth but not thick. Leave aside for 5-10 minutes.
Steam the haggis for 20 minutes, then break it up with a fork so that it can cool down.
In the meantime, wipe clean the mushrooms and cut out the core.
Heat the oil in a frying pan for 5 minutes. Scoop out a tablespoon of haggis on the mushroom, press and spread it gently with the back of the spoon. Add more haggis if required but not too much. Do this with all the mushrooms. When this is done, gently place the mushroom into the batter to coat, I use my hands, but use a spoon if you wish to ensure batter covers the mushroom.
Heat the vegetable oil. Place 2 – 3 mushrooms into the pan, ensuring not to crowd them out and fry for 3-4 minutes until golden-brown. Turn the mushroom over so that it is evenly golden. Once cooked, remove from the pan and place onto a kitchen towel to dry.
For the curried neep chips
One large swede, turnip or rutabaga, peeled and sliced into chips
Toss in generous coating of olive oil
Bake in a moderate hot oven, turning now and again until slightly golden.
In the last 10 minutes, sprinkle over either 1 teaspoon curry powder or garam masala and a sprinkling of salt. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Then serve warm.
A variation of this post was originally written in January 2010.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Vegan Garlic and Mushroom Pasta

A little bit of a cheat's blog post, but I have made this dish recently this week, but with penne pasta.  

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Vegetable Chilli Pot

For those of us in colder climates, that need warming up - I offer you a virtual bowl of 'vegetable chilli', it makes a nice change from bowl of soup.
Its full of vegetable goodness such as mushrooms that are plentiful, tinned or frozen sweetcorn that many of us have lurking in the back of our cupboards, even tinned beans.  I've used kidney beans here, but you can use chickpeas, butter beans - whatever takes your fancy.  As you can see there are chunky carrots here too.  You can use the good old variety of carrots for this dish, but this time of year I prefer to make the most  of little dumpy baby carrots known as chantenay carrots.  In fact you can use any vegetable you wish, but the colours of these just shout warmth to me. 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Deep Paprika Mushroom and Butter Bean Pies

I tend to make individual hand-made pies every other week now, that includes pastry made from scratch.  D tends to take them into work and my nephews and nieces quite like them too.

One of the popular ones I make is the  Paprika Mushroom and Potato Pies.  Well to ring the changes this time round in place of potatoes I decided to replace them with butter beans.   It was a lovely change from the stodge of the potatoes.  

Monday, 20 January 2014

Jerusalem Artichoke and Rosemary Soup with Jerusalem Artichoke Crisps

I picked up some Jerusalem artichokes at the weekend from a food producers market.  Come rain or shine, I find myself there every two weeks now.  

The plan was to make some Jerusalem Artichoke crisps - my favourite way to eat what is otherwise described as 'farty chokes', but with it being rather cold, I opted for soup.  The crisps were not forgotten, I made them too.  Instead of serving the soup with bread or topping it off with crunchy croutons, I decided on crisps - well why not?!  

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Vegan Rock'n'Roll Bagel

I have shared this Rock'n'Roll Bagel beforeI dubbed it then under the much cooler name of The Elvis Presley Bagel.  The reason I am sharing this vegan bagel post again, is that I made it today for my breakfast.  I didn't fancy cereal today,   I spotted some strawberry jam and some crunchy peanut butter, a banana in the fruit bowl and remembered we had some bagels in the freezer. Suddenly breakfast was ready!

I also thought it would be another good opportunity for me to showcase it to new readers visiting my humble little blog via Veganuary.; and Food'n Fix for the first time.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Chestnut Mushroom Tofu Roast

I have my head down as I have things happening in the background, if any success comes of any of them I will share them with you later int he week, if not it will stay in the background and I will move on once more.

In the meantime, to help me get on with these tasks, D has volunteered to make vegetarian or should I be more precise and say Vegan Sunday Roast Dinner with most of the trimmings.  I suggested instead of accompanying the vegetables with a brand name vegan family roast, he have a go at making this Chestnut Mushroom Tofu Roast.   I reminded him how much he enjoyed it the last time I made it.

He smiled back, 'yes - you made it'.  

Friday, 10 January 2014

Hijiki Tofu

A little hijiki goes a long way.  

Hijiki is a mild, earthy flavoured seaweed.  Hijiki is certainly an acquired taste - having umami flavours.  You can find packets at most Asian and Oriental supermarkets.  At first the hijiki seaweed looks like dried tea strands, but when soaked and reconstituted it swells to about 4 times its original weight.  Like all seaweed, hijiki must be rinsed thoroughly before being added to the dish you are making .

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Winter Beetroot Pearl Couscous Salad

Pearl couscous is also known as Jumbo couscous, Israeli couscous; and Jerusalem couscous.  It should not be confused with the traditional semolina couscous.  Pearl couscous as the name suggests are round beads or tiny balls.  Unlike traditional couscous, pearl couscous is made from baked wheat rather than semolina.  It is very similar to pasta in that it holds it shape and texture. 

This Beetroot Salad certainly has the Wow factor, especially as the bleeding juices from the beetroot penetrated the pearl couscous .  In fact the longer its left the colour deepens, as well as the flavour. 
Beetroot Pearl Couscous Salad

Monday, 6 January 2014

Rainbow Chard Bundles

Its not easy to find rainbow chard or any other chard for that matter at large supermarkets, probably because it has a tendency to wilt not long after being picked.  No, the best place to find bunches of chard are at proper greengrocers and farmers markets where you can buy it direct from the grower, as I did about a month ago for my Ruby Red Chard Pasta Loaf.  

Chard is the one strikingly leafy stem that I am so looking forward to growing again, closely followed by the handsome curly kale.  There is so much diversity amongst the chard from bright lights chard, oriole chard, perpetual spinach, rainbow chard, rhubarb chard, silverline chard and the most well known of them all Swiss chard.  I loved how the colourful stems added a splash of colour to the garden the way flowers do.

So why am I talking about chard...

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Brussels Sprouts Hash

I was never a fan of Brussels sprouts before I started this blog, in fact I positively detested them. Like as child ignoring them whenever they were served up on my plate.  But this changed, when I started growing my own vegetables.  I challenged myself to find ways of 'trying' to enjoy the vegetables that I grew as well as those that I purchased; and this meant cooking them creatively - not just out of the culinary box, but out of the traditional vegetable basket; and this trend has continued with other vegetables.  

Anyway, I've mentioned before that now my absolute favourite way of eating Brussels sprouts is oven roasted, so that those hard green baby cabbage balls transform into something soft, more delectable: charred golden, crisp here and there, but mostly caramelized.  However, in this particular recipe, the sprouts are cooked slowly oven the heat in a frying pan.  The sprouts still  get a similar treatment as you would from oven roasting.  If your still sceptic about sprouts, I woudl encourage you to try them this way, you may find yourself liking them, like I did.
Brussels Sprouts Hash

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Trini Black Eyed Peas Rice with Butternut Squash

On New Years Day, I mentioned that I had some black eyed peas on the simmer.  

Well once those black eyed peas were well cooked.  I decided to cook Trini Black Eyed Peas and rice with squash. Trini being Trinidad.  

Friday, 3 January 2014

Ginger or Orange Raw Fruit Bites

Raw vegan protein fruit balls seem to be the rage at the moment, just take a gander at Pinterest.  I came across them many years ago in a nutritionist cookbook and even in one of my raw food cookbooks, but dismissed them for two reasons.  One, they were being promoted as health food and at the time that was not my focus; and secondly I just found them way too simple.  something, that my nephews and nieces could knock up in the home economics class, but I have to day my opinion of them has changed somewhat recently.  

Yes dried fruit protein balls come under various guises: amazeballs, bliss balls and even date bombs, but for me they will always be a raw gluten free flapjack in a perfectly formed round morsel of a bite. Okay enough of the waffling, I have two recipes to share, similar to the Cranberry Date Bites.  

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Cranberry and Date Snowballs

May I wish you all a Happy New Year.  I hope to reflect on 2013, but just don't feel like doing so right now.  What I will say is that I am glad 2013 is  in the past, and that I am positively looking forward to 2014.  

Okay onto food.  Many of you will know that I am a vegetarian; and what I cook and eat at home is hugely vegan, it is with this in mind I signed up last month to participate in Veganuary.  Veganuary is a campaign in association with Viva!  that is encouraging people to pledge and eat delicious vegan food, for every meal this January.  

Although I have some black-eyed peas on the simmer reputed to bring you good luck and prosperity if eaten on New Years Day, right now I am going to share a simple recipe of Cranberry and Date Snowballs