Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Raw Beetroot Coconut Halwa Heart Fudge

Bye Bye VeganMofo2014

Ultimately I signed up to VeganMofo for myself.  I really enjoyed it, though it was hard on days to come home from work and blog pretty much every single day in the month of September, but I think I just about managed it.  

I've stumbled upon some lovely new vegan blogs (thanks especially to VeganMofo Randomizer) and re-acquainted with some old fellow bloggers.  Its been nice; and most of all I have been inspired and have bookmarked a number of wonderful, innovative and delicious vegan recipes (many that I really cannot wait to make). 
To show my appreciation to the good people who organise VeganMofo every year, and all those bloggers that came along, especially those that that took time to leave a comment on my humble little blog, well I offer this Raw Beetroot - Coconut Halwa Hearts.  Thank you. Thank you so so much for welcoming this Welsh vegetarian into your warm VeganMofo arms. 
This is pretty much the same recipe as the Betroot 'Bounty' Bars, but here they are completely naked and raw Grrrrrr  served simply on a plate.  This is not a dessert to eat with your fingers, unless you want beet red fingers. Just enjoy every bite - its awesome!

Raw Beetroot and Coconut Halwa Hearts Fudge
Makes depends on the size of your moulds from 8 - 12
185g medium raw beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped
150g soft dates
50g dessicated unsweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Put all the ingredients into a food processor (I used my Optimum 9400 Blender) and blitz, not to a puree though, more liked grated coconut until it comes together like a dough.  Scrape out into a bowl, and press into your chosen moulds.  Put in the fridge and allow to firm up in the fridge, preferably overnight.  
Remove from the moulds the following day and enjoy.
Keep refrigerated.  Consume with the week. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Vegan Smoky Spicy 'Pastrami' with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Puy Lentil Salad

This was dinner a few days back - Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Puy Lentils, Carrots and Baby Courgettes with homemade vegan Smoky Spicy Pastrami.  
This smoky spicy vegan 'Pastrami' is based on my friends Krys recipe that I showcased earlier this month, but this time round I decided to adapt it a little and enhance it by upping the spices.  It was a lot more succulent too, perhaps because I timed the cooking better. 
Its been a long while since I've had puy lentils. I enjoyed every mouthful and look forward to making it again.  It made for a lovely light meal, perhaps next time round I will stir it in with some Bulgar wheat and take it into work for lunch.
Nom, nom nom.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Cawlfish - Keeping The Faith in Porthcawl

We were looking for something different to do at the weekend, when we stumbled across an on-line article promoting the Elvis Festival in Porthcawl, now in its 11th year.  

Every September thousands of Elvis Presley fans from around the U.K, and the world head to the Welsh seaside town of Porthcawl in South Wales. The last time I went to Porthcawl was a child on a seaside school trip. I don't remember it much, so for me it was interesting to go there again and look at it with grown up eyes, but this weekend was not about sand, sticker rocks and chips, today it was all about Elvis and as an Elvis Presley fan, D was super excited and eager to go.

Here are some selected photographs from this weekend.
I didn't come home with a mug, I came home with a novelty solar powered 'rock'n'rolling dancing Elvis for our car; and D picked up, not one, not two but three Elvis themed t-shirts. 

To end, here are a couple of my own Elvis inspired recipes. 
The Elvis Presley Bagel which surprising was not found on the menu anywhere in Porthcawl. 
Nor was The Graceland Cake: Strawberry, Banana and Peanut Butter Cake.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Vegan Star Anise and Roast Plum Sorbet

Its September and it is still very warm here in Wales, the sun has been shining pretty much every single day, with barely a drizzle of rain.  The day begins overcast and grey, but by mid-day the sun is out warming us up....so ice-cream or sorbet in my case is a welcome change.

I made this Star Anise and Plum Sorbet a couple of weeks back with my home grown plums.  I remembered stumbling across a packet of star anise, stashed at the bottom or one of my spice jars.  Star anise is one of the prettiest spices I have ever set eyes on. I thought it would be a nice addition to what may have been a plain plum sorbet.
I know I should have allowed the sorbet to sit a little to soften when I took it out of the freezer, as it would have been easy to scoop out perfect ball for the photograph, but I was being impatient as it was getting dark. If you look at the last image, it shows the Plum Sorbet beginning to melt and looking more 'creamish'. But I must say, this Plum Sorbet is unlike my previous sorbets, it is not snow icy at all.  Its a lot more smoother and richer, its sharp and has a lovely twang.  The star anise is detectable, but not overpowering, but it is not shy on kissing you on the lips either.  
And finally the colour, so pretty - it reminded me of a shimmering blusher that I once used to wear in my younger days. Ahhhh soft dimpled rosy cheeks. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Spiced Plum Chutney

Remember the plums that I harvested early last week, well here is one of the recipes that I promised to share - Spiced Plum Chutney, the other for Star Anise - Plum Sorbet will be shared hopefully tomorrow. 

We have mostly been enjoying the Spiced Plum Chutney in the evenings when we get the nibbles, but it would also be fantastic in a panini for lunch.  Its sharp, tangy with a little bit of spice that hits you unexpectedly. 
I've served this Spiced Plum Chutney here with Nairn oatcakes, but I have in the past made oatcakes from scratch.  Lots of time in fact , especially when I lived in Scotland such a Black Pepper Oatcakes, Chilli Oatcakes, Wild Garlic Oatcakes , and even Welsh Laverbread Oatcakes.
Recipe will be posted at the weekend.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Vegan Beetroot and Raspberry Jelly

I made a Carrot Jelly infused with Pomegranate Seeds a little while ago, and then thought why not give it a go with some Beetroot Juice and some homegrown raspberries.  

I've had some Beet It Beetroot Juice in the fridge for the past couple of weeks. It is quite velvety and smooth and really strong in flavour, that you sip it slowly like good wine.  I have been drinking it on and off, in small 'shot' portions.  

As well as drinking it, I have also used for a couple of recipes such as the vegan BBQ Beetroot Seitan 'Steaks'.  But wanted to go one step further and enjoy it for what it was, rather than just use it as an additional ingredient so a grown up version of jelly came to mind, but at the same time bearing in mind the potency of the beetroot hit, I knew it would be madness unless you are a true lover of beetroot to make pure beetroot jelly, so to cut down on the intense deep beetroot richness, I decided to throw in a lot, and I mean a lot of fresh raspberries from the garden and it worked fantastically, as well as beautiful to look at.  
Whilst making it and stirring in the agar agar, I got a tad nervous wondering if it would actually set as the juice was quite velvet thick.  But there was no need to, it worked well, there was that wibbly wobblyness that you expect from a jelly. Taste wise the beetroot juice jelly was now mellower in flavour and very enjoyable, even I liked it and those of you who have been reading my blog will know that I have come to like and appreciate beetroot over the years and shown how versatile a vegetable it can be in both savoury and sweet dishes: from currys to cakes and desserts.  
I will be making this Beetroot Jelly again come October for Halloween, and I may call it Vampire 'Beet Blood and Guts Jelly' or something like that to get the nephews and nieces attention.  Anyway, feel free to top off the Beetroot Raspberry Jelly with a little cream or vegan alternative, but D said he did not think it was necessary and I have to agree. 

I will post the recipe later today. Makes 4 - 6 portions depending on trifle dish sizes. Recipe can easily be halved. 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Quinoa Carrot 'Meatballs' in Tamarind Sauce

I share with you another very autumnal looking dish - Carrot Quinoa 'Meatballs' in Tamarind Sauce.

I know I have already shared a blog post for VeganMofo featuring mock 'meatballs', but this one is not made with TVP or 'meat' substitutes.  These are made from scratch with quinoa, carrots and chickpea flour, then rolled into bite sized balls and pan fried before being added to the tangy sauce. 
D is not that keen on tamarind, which surprises me as he likes citrussy things, but I guess tamarind offers a different kind of twang, rather than a zing.  I love tamarind.  I grew up eating and drinking it, especially when my taste buds need waking up or when I am feeling a little poorly. 

Back to this Tamarind Sauce based dish.  I must add that this is not a soupy sauce, its a little on the thick side as it is rich in flavour, but feel free to water it down with either a bit of water of vegetable stock if you so wish. 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Vegan Marrow Curry served with Tricolour Couscous

Some of you may remember the monster marrows that I harvested from my garden a couple of weeks back, well here is one recipe that I made with it - vegan Marrow Curry with Chickpeas.  For me this dish shouts Autumn on a plate!

I actually could not remember the last time that I cooked or ate marrow, I think it was in my student days when I stuffed it with brown rice and baked it (this was the mid 1990s, not 1960s by the way).  I know, very old fashioned, but some times those are the recipes that are the best, but this time round South Asian curry spices were calling my name. 
I kept some of the marrow outer skin on, for colour and texture, but it was a not such a good idea as the outer skin was really tough, but fortunately enough it slid of the marrow easily.  I have one more home-grown marrow to go, so expect another recipe in the next couple of weeks.   

Oh for a change, I served it with Artisan Grains Tricolour Couscous. made up of golden couscous, tomato and spinach infused couscous.  It was delicately flavoured.  I have to say, it made a pleasant change from plain Basmati rice.  Another option is to stir the two together, I did with the left overs and it made for easy lunching! 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Vegan Apple Raisin and Chocolate Loaf

I've had a really busy busy weekend, that i have barely had a moment to myself and Monday is nearly here, so forgive me for this short post as I want to make the most of what is left of my Sunday.  
Here is a Apple Raisin and Chocolate Loaf Cake made with local eating apples.  I've been eating apples every single day this week for lunch, but wanted to put some in cake too, this was the result.  

Lovely with a cuppa chai.
One recipe that I am looking forward to making again with seasonal Welsh apples is this Apple Butter, it was absolutely delicious.  This time round I will call it Welsh Apple Butter

Friday, 19 September 2014

Vegan BBQ Beetroot Seitan 'Steaks'

Oh wow, how real do these vegan BBQ Beetroot Seitan 'Steaks' look?!

At first, these vegan BBQ Beetroot Seitan 'Steaks' intimidated me a little, as they looked so real and 'meaty' on the plate.  I actually felt like I was eating out at a British pub, but I was at home.  These 'beetroot seitan 'steaks' were substantial and had texture and bite, had I not made them with my own hands, I would have been a bit sceptical tucking in, especially as you need a proper carving or a sharp knife to cut through the thick red slabs, motioning back and fro to reveal the beetroot 'bloody' seitan innards.  Succulent is not a word often associated with vegan grub, but these certainly were.  
Regular reader will know, that I don't do OMG!  But OMG and I am not exaggerating here, you should have seen the blender with the beetroot concoction, like a scene from a gory horror movie, my hands were too full to get the camera and take a picture.  The recipe can get messy, if your a tad clumsy, so be prepared to do some wiping down with a cloth, but you won't regret the end result that lands on  your plate, its pretty 'spoof', yet real!  

I also have to point out my mistake (not the recipe) that the first batch I made were a little over-done, but the second batch, I was more mindful of the timing and they turned out pretty perfect. The beetroot seitan 'steaks' are basted on both sides with a thick layer of BBQ sauce. This particular Smooth Original BBQ sauce comes from Jack Daniels.  It is both suitable for vegans and vegetarians. My taste buds are adventurous and can certainly take more smokiness and warmth, so I am looking forward to trying out the other two bottles: Extra Hot Habenero; and Hot Pepper Steak Sauce that I have, but you can use BBQ sauce any that you like. 
If you don't wish to make Beetroot Seitan 'Steaks', then you can easily shape the seitan into patties and make them into 'Beefy' Beetroot Seitan Burgers.  The recipe should make 8. 

Thanks to the availability of vital wheat gluten in the UK, I am so pleased to be able to get vital wheat gluten that is more affordable and accessible.  And be a bit more adventurous with wheat meat creations that end up on my plate at home,  I know D is even more excited than me. 

These BBQ Beetroot Setian 'Steaks' are inspired and adapted from my lovely blogger friend Jules over at Little Black Fox.  I've written quite fondly of her before.  Jules has been quiet on the blog frontier for a couple of reasons.  First she was busy enjoying entrepreneurship with her partner, and most recently, motherhood.   I  know she will be delighted that more people will get to enjoy the recipe, albeit it with some little changes.  

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Autumnal Raspberry Chia Pudding for Breakfast

I've been ogling over Lucy The Kitchen Maid most recent blog post for Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding and Sudha's Mango Chia Pudding.  Coincidentally last week, I made my own Chia Pudding with home grown Autumnal raspberries, as well as Raspberry Chia Jam (still to be posted).  

In the last year or so, in the U.K chia seeds have become the trendy ingredient with some food bloggers, especially as the ingredient has become more readily available.  I have a number of chia seed recipes bookmarked, but never seemed to get my mitts on the seeds or found them a little too expensive to bother with at the time, until last year when I was fortunate to find a packet of them in my 'vegan food swap' that came from Claire who blogs over GreatVegan Expectations; since then Chia seeds have found a place in my kitchen.  
One recipe that has been sitting in the background for years, 4 years in fact has been from Oh She Glows for Strawberry Chia Jam, since then many variations of it with both fruit and vegetables, (or combination of both) have appeared on blogosphere.  My lovely blogger friend Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe has beat me to it and recently made her own version of Strawberry Chia Jam  for VeganMofo2014. Please go on over and check out her lovely blog, I have been following her recipes and reflections ever since I started blogging; and she without fail continues to inspire me.
Well no Chia Jam today, instead I have a Autumnal Raspberry Chia Pudding to share.  I enjoyed this over the weekend for breakfast, though it felt more like a dessert eating out of this glass (trifle style) bowl.  It was rather a large portion for me, so I ate it slowly - over an hour.  It is very reminisce of sago and tapioca pudding, so if you dislike those, then perhaps this pudding is not for you, but you have to admit - it looks quite intriguing. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Red Velvet Raw Vegan Beetroot 'Bounty' Heart Bars

I am absolutely in love with these 'Red Velvet Raw Vegan Beetroot 'Bounty' Bars', as much as one could be 'in love' with a raw dessert.  I don't do OMG, but this time the inner minx in me just could not resist yelping OMG especially on my first taste.  Every time I took a small bite , you know that feeling when your eyes dance in your head with delight - swoon - well I was not that far from that feeling.  These were pretty awesome in my opinion, and the flavour just got better as the days passed.  
The raw beetroot dyes and sweetens the white coconut and vice versa.  I was personally happy to eat these by hand like a bar of chocolate (rather than a spoon), but because of the natural beetroot juice colouring, BEWARE that your fingers will get a little stained; and for goodness sake do not wear white, in case some red coconut bits fall off and land on you - you have been warned.  
Whilst I was making these, I thought of my mother.  When I was a nipper, I remember my mother often treating herself to a bar of Bounty, because she loved the coconut content.  I know in my heart she would have loved these, but the greedy girl in me ate them all, not in one sitting but over the week.  I barely left the house that week meaning  there were no trips to my mother, hence the reason she did not get to try them.  I am a bit disappointed in myself for not jumping into the car and driving over with some of them, as I would liked to have known of her response to them, especially the raw aspect of the bars.  Although, my mother is quite adventurous compared to my sister-in-laws, going raw (unless its chutney, relish or a dip) may be a bit out there for her, but she may have surprised me and loved them as much as I did.
Anyway, when I plated these up ready for their photo-shoot, D muttered that they were not very neat and not fit for photographing.  I sort of agree with him and responded  'I just wanted to see if the recipe and combination worked', next time and there will be a next time I will make them look a little more neater than they are here, but truthfully I don't know when that is going to be so I have decided to share the ones that I have photographed with you now for VeganMofo 2014. 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Runner Bean Risotto with Balsamic Beetroot Drizzle

I have and always try to make whatever vegetable I use play a starring role in the dish, not just a bit side part.   However, saying that I do struggle finding interesting and inspiring recipes for runner (flat) beans and find myself often just blanching them, then dousing in a little extra virgin olive oil and seasoning and serving them simply on the side.  Not this time, as the runner beans play a central role in this risotto dish accompanied by an optional cheat balsamic beetroot drizzle. 
It was lovely.  I enjoyed every mouthful.  The risotto was naturally creamy, no addition of cream or vegan alternative.  The runner beans still had bite and the beetroot gave it that extra boost, both in favour and visually. 
I know some people cannot eat risotto without a grating of cheese on top, or even vegan cheeze - a dairy free alternative, but I have pretty much always enjoyed my home-made risotto dishes without this additional richness, but feel free to cater to your own tastes.  

Monday, 15 September 2014

Vegan Cinnamon Plum Cake

I mentioned in previous blog post that I make a vegetarian version of this Cinnamon Plum Cake.  I make it almost every year, but this year I decided to do a vegan version, especially for Vegan MoFo 2014 and it was yummy.
I don't quite know how, but there was a slight pink hue when I sliced the cake.  So somehow the natural plum juice colour infused the sponge batter, which was a nice surprising effect, along with the brown specks from the cinnamon.  D will eat vegan cake, but is not that crazy about them, but thought this one was particularly good .
Enjoy with a cuppa or vegan cream!  As this vegan Cinnamon Plum Cake is made with home-grown plums and very much in season,

Plum, Plum

Unlike supermarket perfectly plum shaped, ripened and blemish free plums, my plum are blotchy, irregular in shape and varying in shades of ripeness.  I am actually quite surprised that I even got a harvest, as both my apple and pear trees have produced zilch.  When I looked at the plums a few weeks back, I thought they were for the bin (not even the compost bin) as they were not looking good at all, some had gone mouldy, some rot and some had some kind of resin stuck to it. But some fought off the whatever was attacking them and ended up in my kitchen. 
I have made a number of recipes with some of them.  As well as old favourites like the Ginger Plum Crumble, but also some new recipes that I will share later on my blog such as Star Anise Sorbet, Spicy Plum Chutney,
a vegan Plum Cake based on this this Cinnamon Plum Cake, 
but right now, I am sharing these fresh plums with Daphne Dandelions for Harvest Monday.