Monday, 29 February 2016

Vegan Welsh Cottage Pie with Laverbread Mash

You will find many variations of vegetarian and vegan Shepherds Pie here, but I've never featured a Cottage Pie on my blog, not sure why as I have made them many times - perhaps its because it doesn't really look that pretty to photograph.

So what is the difference between a Shepherds Pie and a Cottage Pie.  Traditionally a Shepherd Pie made with minced lamb and Cottage Pie with chunks of beef, but for vegetarians and vegans this is often substituted with minced mushrooms or a mock meat substitute. 
Here is my version of a vegetarian Cottage Pie made with the addition of Welsh leeks which give it a little sweetness and topped with seaweed - Welsh Laverbread mash.  I was prompted to make a Welsh version of Cottage pie when I saw a Scottish twist on a Cottage Pie. 

I am sure you will find a Irish version and with respect, we all know there is no shortage of English variations of the humble Cottage Pie.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Indo Cymru Leek Stew with Dumplings that give you a Cwtch

Some of you will have noticed that in the past week or so, I have been gravitating towards Welsh recipes and Welsh things.  This is for the simple reason that next week many of us in Wales will be celebrating St David's Day, even the daffodils are coming out to celebrate, though to be honest they have been out posing by the side of the roads a month earlier.
As we enjoyed the Curried Root Vegetable Stew a couple of weeks back, I thought I would make it again, but enhance it further with the addition of spices and leeks and make it somewhat Fusion Welsh - yes we do like our leeks here in Wales, well I do.  Even though the daffodils are confused and finding the British weather warm, some of us are still finding it, so stew-like meals have been on the menu quite a bit.   
Cwtch means hug in Welsh and it a word you will hear and see a lot in Wales. And these light cloud like dumplings definitely give you a big warm welcome hug, who doesn't love a good hug. 

The topping of Welsh cheddar or Caerphilly cheese is purely optional.  

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Vegetarian Welsh Cawl Hot Pot

In anticipation of St David's Day, I made this Welsh Cawl Hot Pot yesterday afternoon.
Most people in the U.K are familiar with Lancashire Hot Pot made more famous by a barmaid called Betty (now deceased) in a popular British soap drama called Coronation Street.  It was Betty's signature dish at the Rovers Return Inn - a English pub.   

Hot Pot is a slow cooked recipe traditionally made with lamb and vegetables, but as this is a vegetarian blog I made mine with some vegan mock 'lamb' meat pieces.  I also decided to give this Hot Pot a Welsh touch with the addition of leeks and good Welsh cheese.  
Actually this can easily be a vegan Welsh Cawl Hot Pot, if you omit the cheese, but as I had some Dragon Welsh Caerphilly and Colliers Welsh Cheddar I opted to use them.  Although not authentic in any way, I enjoyed my vegetarian Welsh Hot Pot alternative.  It delivered on flavour, texture and substance.  there was also some gravy juices sitting at the bottom of the hot pot when it came out of the oven that made for moist mock 'lamb' pieces.  I served the finished dish with some steamed broccoli heads. 
This is not a sponsored blog post

Friday, 26 February 2016

Made in Wales

So its Five on Friday and I am sticking once again with my Welsh theme especially as it is St Davids Day next Tuesday.

I thought I would share five Made in Wales things in my home.
I picked up this 'Made in Wales' framed picture from a crafts arts and fair market. Its handmade and upcycled with a traditional Welsh blanket, almost tartan style and some cute little alphabet cards.  I fell in love with it instantly and D bestowed it upon me within moments.  He has a terrible habit of spoiling me.  I love him.
These graceful Welsh ladies are handmade by Kingsmaker  and carved from real welsh coal.  I  think they date back to the 1950s.  I know such things are terribly old fashioned but I like them.  I picked these charming Welsh ladies in full Welsh costume from a charity shop last summer, there is something quite solemn about them and somehow that impacts on my mood in a positive way.  I hold one in the palm of my hand when I feel that I am getting angry or mift and they bring a calmness in me.   
Next we have some Welsh recipe books  resting on a heart shaped Welsh slate.  All these Welsh cookbooks were printed in Wales.  Croeso Cymreig - A Warm Welsh Welcome was published in the 1950s and cost One Shilling.
Here we have The Best of Traditional Welsh Cooking, Welsh Country Puddings and Pies and my favourite acquisition 'Recipes from Wales' a binded book with lovely illustrations from John Cleal.  This was published in 1976 - 1977 by Workshop Wales in Fishguard.  There is one bizarre recipes in this on Banana'n Bacon Rolls!  Otherwise.  

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Vegan Hungarian 'Beef' Goulash

The last time I made Goulash was last year around Halloween. 

Today, it was an unexpected meal as I decided to pick up some 'beef' style pieces from a health shop.   It wasn't my favourite mock 'beef' meat as I found it a little powdery,  but it was interesting to try.  I adored the tones of lipstick red from the peppers and Merlot from the kidney beans in the bowl, and a warming orange glow from the carrots. 
I think Goulash like most stews benefits being cooked a day before before tucking in as the flavours develop.  
We had this 'Beef' Goulash simply with plain rice.  

I am off work tomorrow - whoop whoop, so I am planning on making Thursday night my Friday night with some junk TV.  Have a good evening.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Velvet Green Spirulina Flapjacks

Anyone who has used spirulina will know why I describe it as velvet.  The powdered form is textually very velvety.  Anyway, I only made these velvet green Spirulina Flapjacks as I was wishing to use up my very large packet of Spirulina and the one thing I was adamant I would not make was another darn groovy green Smoothie.  Blogosphere and cookbooks gearing towards healthy eating are laden with Spirulina Smoothie recipes, so I gave that a deliberate miss and went for something completely different.

I have plans on making a Green Goddess Granola, but that is on the back burner for other far more creative greeny bites. 
Unlike other spirulina recipes that are super duper healthy: no butter, no sugar - this flapjack is made with both butter and sugar.  I have shared a link below of a healthier, vegan and raw version below, if you want to check it out.  Surprisingly, I actually liked these, but I don't often make the same flapjack recipe twice - who knows... 

The distinct spirulina flavour does come through, but not too strongly.  D didn't even notice it unique flavour until day two.  His excuse for the first day is that he must have been very hungry.   
I know the Autumn Forest green photograph I share here, does not sell it much but sometimes its not about the looks, but the flavour; and I will be making these again, as D has asked for them again - I wonder if I can make the green even bold next time round.

Monday, 22 February 2016


This is a follow on from yesterdays blog post. 
These picture were taken a couple of years back when we visited an area of Newport called Caerleon. I thought it would be a shame not to share them with my readers. 

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Sunday Photo and Sunday Snap: Horns

I am not going to assign a gender on this androgynous stone carved statue, but it is rather beautiful and quite solemn in it own way.  

I've been wanting to share this picture a while ago as it made me smile.  Someone had yarn bombed it, or at least lovingly adorned them a colourful crochet scarf  to stay warm and a pair of spectacles to ignite a little sunshine and humour into what I remember was a blustery grey day. It does certainly bring a smile to your face as well as a little magic into your life, well I think so. 
We actually took this picture some time last year or maybe even a year before that, when we visited an area of Newport called Caerleon.  I will share more pictures of it tomorrow, but this is my contribution for Sunday Snap hosted by JibberJabber UK for Sunday Snap; and My Sunday Photo hosted by One Dad 3 Girls; and Karen at My Little Home and Garden for Sunlit Sunday. If anyone knows any more about the significance of horns and the story behind this stone carved character, I'd love to know.

I have two other similar yarnbombed pictured that may make you smile.  Click here to see Keeping Monkey Warm and Cardiff Yarn Bombing People Like Us.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Five Welsh Vegetarian Leek Recipes

Many of you came by last week through Amy at Love Made My Home were really kind.  You seemed to have enjoyed my Five Welsh Castle posts, so in the same vain I thought I would share five of my favourite Welsh leek recipes with you. The Leek - as many of you will know is the national emblem of Wales alongside the daffodil and the roaring glorious red dragon.  

This short blog post is also a nod towards St David's Day that will shortly be here and my Welsh roots. Hope some of these Welsh Leek recipes inspire you to celebrate St David's Day whether your Welsh or not. 
Simple, but this Leek and Potato Soup with Chilli aka Welsh Dragon Soup remains one of my firm favourites.  
I created theseWelsh Leek, Caerphilly Cheese and Laverbread Burgers when I lived in Scotland and my lovely nephew came up to see me, they were a super success. 
You will find lots of versions of Red Dragon Pie, thisFiery Red Dragon Pie is mine.
Welsh Haggis Lasagne - Yes, the Welsh also have haggis!  
Not the prettiest, but these deep fried Welsh Leek and Caerphilly Cheese Pakoras aka Bhaji's are very tasty

So do you like leeks? Do you have any Welsh leek recipes to share. Do you celebrate St David's Day where you are? 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Red Curry - Red Onion, Red Cabbage and Red Beet Root

This was supper yesterday evening.  I had the day off from work and had ideas of going into the the big city of Cardiff or further afield Bristol and treat myself to some luxury items: shoes, a dress, a raincoat ... but no  - I decided to stay at home and do some cooking.
This Red Curry made can almost be described as a dry curry.  One that can be eaten with naan bread or chappati aka roti, but if you want it to be more liquid, you can stir in a can of Coconut milk, then I would suggest eating it with some Basmati rice as its a little more sloppy, but rich and tasty none-the-less, The addition of coconut milk will also make it more of a Pink Dish - in which case I may have called it Pink Curry with a nod towards LGBT History Month which is presently being acknowledged and celebrated in the UK, but no this is definitely a shade of mahogony wine red, not pink! 
I've made an spectacular Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry in the past and this is not that different really.  Though this one is to keep up with the red vegetables theme, is made with red onions, red cabbage, red beetroot and even red chillies.  
A final word on the photograph, yes - I know the colours are a bit in your face, but I'm playing around a little - just humour me, I know its not great, the Red Curry on the other hand was enjoyable, but different. 

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Curried Root Vegetable Stew with Chilli-Coriander Dumplings

I made this Indo-Anglo Curried Vegetable Stew on Sunday for the working week ahead, the recipe serves 6, but D is a greedy man and can eat for 2, so it ended up being a meal for 2 days (including this evening), rather than 3.  

Stews have been on our evening menu quite a bit lately.  Some of you may remember that I made one early on in the month with Butternut Squash and Kale.  Another reason its been on the menu is that we have both been enjoying the lightness of the dumplings.   This time thought I wanted to give the stew an Anglo-Indian twist with chillies, curry powder and coriander!
Of course you can make your own curry powder, but there are plenty of brands about and if there is one that you like, use it.  I have to be honest, I don't make my own curry powder at all.  My mother or sister in laws give me some when they make it, which in fact is not that often as they don't really use curry powder in their cooking, so I rely on those packets from South Asian and Oriental grocers.  

Anyway, I found the Curried Root Stew was mild for my taste, a little more chilli would have been desired on my part, but it was good none the less.  For me though, the zingy lemony coriander dumplings were the stars as they managed to elevate the stew flavours further.  
The root vegetables were tender, but not quite falling apart melting in your mouth.  I prefer that - had they been over-cooked they would be erring on baby food for me and i am not into mushy food that much. 

D liked this Curried Root Vegetable Stew but suggested serving with something like pickled onions, I'd probably serve it with some mango or lime chutney! 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

My Big Fat Persian Kuku

Happy Valentines dear readers.  

I've made Persian Kuku many times before, for those of you unfamiliar with it - click on this link to learn more.   Kuku's are a Persian omelette and what I present to you is not exactly one - though it did start of originally as a Kuku .  I should have made it in a wide frying pan, but I wanted to get all fancy for Valentines day and made it in a silicone heart shaped mould.  
This Persian Kuku puffed up like a aerated blow up bed, then settled down quite calmly.  Once it was unmoulded, the top was a blanket of beetroot red.  
It looked fabulous and sliced wonderfully.  I have to say it tasted pretty marvellous too.  D loved it as it contained two of his favourite vegetables - beetroot and cauliflower.  I'd almost describe it as a cross between Spanish Tortilla and Frittata, but its neither - so I call it a big fat Persian Kuku.  or affectionately Chubby Kuku.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Persian Style Upside Beetroot Rice Cake

I've been wanting to make a Beetroot version of Tahdig ever since I managed to find some rosy coloured barberries. Tahdig is a Iranian - Iraqi - Persian Upside Down Rice cake.  I have made traditional Tahdig once before in a pot with crusty golden almost burnt topping, but that was well before I started this blog.  
It is for this reason, I was confident I could adapt a Tahdig recipe with the addition of Beetroot.   I was pleased by the way the savoury Persian style Upside Down Beetroot  Rice cake turned out, baked in a silicon heart-shaped mould (because of Valentines week), BUT - yes there is a but, I was disappointed in the way it tasted. 
My tinkered version of this Persian style Upside Down Beetroot Cakes was just about edible, it needs work.  My version dyes the rice with beetroot instead of saffron and is filled with spiced roasted aubergines and puy lentils.  The whole recipe needs a little tweaking, Nothing major, but the savoury beetroot rice was just a little over-cooked and more closer in texture to Beetroot Rice Pudding, plus the spicing was not quite right.  
Some of you may think well what is the point of sharing a flop of a recipe on your blog?  Well mine is not a lifestyle blog, designed for a particular audience or purpose - its a real food blog and I think its important to share not just our successful recipes, but also our fails. This is a fail, even though I could have deceived you all and told you otherwise, as aesthetically it looks blooming marvellous, but what is the point - I would be fibbing to myself.  
I will be giving this Perisan Style Upside Beetroot Rice Cake a go again in the future, come back if your interested.   Adapted from this and this recipe. 

Friday, 12 February 2016

Five Welsh Castles and a Handsome Dragon

I am looking forward to my  holidays, however when the time comes we won't be venturing far.  
Home-made Welsh Dragon Pastry Crust
So I am dreaming of dragons and castles.

Did you know that Wales has more castles per square than any other county in the world, apparently it is so.   Over the years, we have visited our fair share of fantastic castles in Wales, Wales really is a land of legends, so this Friday I am sharing five.
Harlech Castle  -  where I was most most free. I  met my now husband in the seaside town of Harlech, so I will always have a fondness for the place. 
Meet Dewi - The Welsh Dragon guarding Harlech castle in the background.

Caerphilly Castle
Conwy Castle in the background.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Garlic - Chilli Kale and Butternut Squash Spaghetti

I love the voluptuous shape of the butternut squash.  I often describe it as the curvy red head of the vegetable world.  I also love the wrinkles and crinkles of the curly kale, so it excites me when I can bring these two together as they would make a perfect combination like strawberries and cream.  

The last recipe with this combination was my Butternut, Kale and Sweetcorn Stew, This evening its a far more simpler recipe of Kale and Butternut Squash Spaghetti dish, but there is no compromise on flavour, this dish warms you all over and that's even before you tucked in.
This is essentially Spaghetti Pasta Aglio, Olio e Peperonicino or chilli flakes dressed up further with butternut squash ribbons and shredded kale.   
It was a  relatively simple quick delicious meal and just what we both wanted after a long slow day at work.   
Now I am off to laze.  
Enjoy the rest of your day, I am really tired. 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Vegan Indian Pasta, Indian Gnocchi, Indian Dumplings

When I say Indian, its more Indian style as I wish to embrace the diversity of all the countries in the Indian Sub-Continent - Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and even the Maldives as they all embrace this way of cooking.  This is also in part to show respect to the many 'Indian' restaurateurs and take-aways  across Europe and the United Kingdom where the owners and workers are often of  Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritage. 

I make Curried Red Lentil Dal all the time, its part of my South Asian heritage, however I made this particular version of Pigeon Pea Soup from Prashad's cookbook a couple of weeks back.   It does just look like a simple bowl of Red Dal, but its rather deceptive in appearance because once you take slurp of this soup you are hit first by the heady perfumed herbyness and then Boom - you taste the amazing spices - its really quite something special for some thing could easily be described as a peasant dish.  
Prashad's Curried Lentils with Indian Pasta actually reminded me of my Dal with Chilli - Coriander Gnocchi that I made many years ago, perhaps somewhere in the back of my psyche this is the reason I wanted to make it and see how it compared.  
So the verdict?!  I have to admit hands down, that Prashad's Curried Dal was far more better, in fact far more superior in taste than mine.  It had more depth of flavour from the infusion of different spices and the tempering  made a huge difference too as an enhancer. 
Normally I would serve an Indian style bowl of Dal  with chappati or roti, but was inspired further to try the accompanying Indian pasta from Prashad's cookbook which I must admit I have adapted just a little.  What's appealing about this Indian Pasta is that you don't even need a pasta machine to make it, just a good old fashioned rolling pin.  

The Indian pasta made a wonderful chewy textual change from chappati or naan bread.  If you do choose to have a go at making this, roll the dough out as thin as you can.  You will need a palette knife to remove them from the surface. I am sharing this with Inheritance Recipes hosted by Pebble Soup and Coffee n Vanilla;and  No Croutons Required hosted by Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen and Tinned Tomatoes. 

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Chocolate Marmite Caramel Fudge

Let me start by saying this is not a sponsored post.  Last week, I saw Johanna's Vegemite Fudge and found myself drooling over it, suddenly wanting to make it with the our British alternative of Marmite.  I was just going to bookmark it and come back to it, but greed got the better of me, plus I had all the ingredients to hand and I was at home waiting patiently for the Boiler man to service our boiler.  So as soon as he left, I pulled out all the ingredients I needed to make these morsels of temptation in my own home.
I couldn't wait to try them.  As soon as we had our dinner in the evening, I sliced them carefully and popped one in my mouth and wow.  Its unusual for sure - sweet and savoury, but we both loved umami aspect of them.  

We had so much of the Chocolate Marmite Caramel Fudge that there was no way we would be able to finish them off between us.  The following day D took some into his workplace and I took some into mine the following week when I returned back to work after some annual leave.  Loads of people at work were wary of marmite - snugging their noses, nevertheless they were tempted by the combination and tried them.  Even those who disliked Marmite loved them, one even described it as 'beefy chocolate' which made me smile.  I even tempted a colleague who was on a diet to take a piece, she was bowled over by it too.  I also took some over to my brothers house, one of my nieces tried a tiny bite and said yuk, the other had a bite and said yum.  Are you going to finish your piece off ?she asks her sister No she responded,  well I will finish it off for you then, they are too good not to eat!   Need I say more. 

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Sweet Parsnip, Apple, Berry and Hazelnut Crumble

A couple of weeks back I made a Parsnip Pie with Edible flowers, I have also been tucking into a bowl oParsnip Porridge for those days when I have been home alone for breakfast.

This time I am sharing with you home-made Parsnip, Apple, Blueberry and Hazelnut Crumble. On one of the evenings we had this with custard, on the other it was simply with cream.
What I love about this Root vegetable crumble recipe is its versatility.  You can easily swap some of the ingredients to reflect the seasons or your taste.
In place of the carrots you can have Swede, beetroot or carrots.
The golden caster could be demerara sugar, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup
Nuts - walnuts, pecan, almonds 
Additional spices, nutmeg, ginger, mixed spices, 
And of course you can veganize it too.
Just experiment. 

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Vegetarians Library: Sarah Beattie 'Meat Free Any Day'

I became acquainted with the rather beautiful and stunning Sarah Beattie in Glasgow.  I accidentally bumped into her in an Oxfam Bookshop on Byres Road, Glasgow - well not literally of course but I like to think so.  I found her first cookbook Neither Fish Nor Fowl: Meat Free Eating for Pleasure (1993) on the shelf and was charmed by the innovative recipes, the elegant presentation.  This was a stylish, sophisticated  and sumptuous vegetarian cookbook with recipes ahead of its time like Beetroot and Cranberry Consomme, Raspberry Soup, Avocado Soup, Stuffed Nasturtium Salad and that's just for starters.  It was a pioneering cookbook in my eyes, as it was the first vegetarian dinner party cookbook I came across that moved away from  the wholemeal way of cooking.  It also has Asparagus Eclairs and Chestnut Souffles and Raspberry Brulee and so so much more .   I have over the years adapted some of her recipes, such as Curried Peach Tartlets and Garlic and Shallot Risotto,

Her second cookbook The Table of Content: A Vegetarian Dinner Party Book for All Seasons (1995) is just as amazing... 'from the simplest vegetables to the more esoteric delights of borscht poached uszki with smetana...' but it is her most recent cookbook Meat Free Any Day (2014) which I received for Christmas from my husband that I have cooked from the most recently, as its foods that is calling to me.   

Meat Free Any Day is not like those glossy hardback coffee table cookbooks, that you will flick through but rarely cook from.  This is one cookbook you will use if its real proper food that you really want to eat.
Sarah Beattie was shortlisted for 2015 and 2013 Guild Food Writers' Awards Cookery Journalist of the Year.  Some of you may also know Sarah Beattie, she was a regular contributor to The Vegetarian Magazine until  a few months ago, Why Vegetarian  Living Magazine why?  

What some of you may not know is that Sarah Beattie was also Food and Drink/Radio Times Mastercook 1990 and Masterchef of the North in 1991. I mean how many vegetarian cooks and chefs win high profile cookery competitions these days, hardly any.  She has loads to be proud about and lots she can boast about,but she never has and never will. Sarah Beattie is a RARE and REAL talent and I am saddened that she is somewhat overlooked in todays Vegetarian and Vegan world (not by me though, never by me).   I feel somewhat an affinity to Sarah Beattie and want to praise her more, but instead will direct you to this honest and heartfelt article by Michael Gray, he may be biased as he is her husband, but I am not related in any way and echo every word he writes as I have come to love Sarah's passion and creativity for good food through her books and more recently social media - check out Sarah Beatties Facebook Page

Here are some recipes that I have made from  Meat Free Any Day, many more to come.  
 Tandoori Butterflied Aubergine
Parsnip Tamarind Curry
Winter Vegetable Tagine
Leek and Brie Rostiflette

Once again, please do check out Sarah Beatties Facebook Page too.   I am linking this with Cooking Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking Foray.