Monday, 29 December 2014

Berbere spiced lentil & barley stew

I don't know about you, but after all a few too many sweets and chocolates over Christmas, I just crave something nourishing.  Add to that the fact we've had no boiler since Christmas Eve in our house, so it needed to warm us up too.  This lentil and barley stew is flavoured with the gorgeous Ethiopian spice, Berbere, and is just what the doctor ordered.  


Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stick of celery, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced/finely chopped
  • 1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp of berbere 
  • 400g of pre-cooked lentils (you can add them uncooked but it will take longer as the salt in the stock can slow the cooking of the lentils)
  • 1/2 cup of pearl barley (approx 80ml in a measuring jug)
  • 500ml of vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
Recipe
  1. Heat the oil in a pan and then add the onion, carrot, and celery
  2. Once the onions begin to go translucent, add the garlic and berbere and mix well
  3. Allow time for the garlic to begin to cook, then add the lentils and stir before mixing in the chopped tomatoes
  4. Add the vegetable stock, stirring as you go
  5. Bring to the boil then add the pearl barley
  6. Set to simmer or transfer to a slow/soup cooker for 45-60 minutes or until the pearl barley is cooked 
  7. If the stew gets too thick, feel free to add a drop more water to get it to your desired consistency
  8. Serve with injera (Ethiopian pancakes) or flat bread 

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Vegan Supermarket Shopping


Photo by Christine McIntosh Image Source
One thing that can seem daunting to some new vegans is grocery shopping.  Whilst veganism goes beyond what we buy in our weekly shop, groceries, and food in particular, is probably the one area where have to make choices most frequently for so it can feel like quite a responsibility to have to make sure every item we buy is animal free.  However, it's not quite as difficult as it may seem initially and there are a number of things you can do to make it easier whilst you get into a routine.  Once you're in your new routine, shopping becomes pretty much the same as it was before - you'll have your main shopping list of regular items and then each time you shop, you'll probably add or change the odd item for something new you'd like to try.

Until you get into your new routine, here are a few tips to get you started:

Supermarket Lists:
Now this is one thing I wish I had known about when I first became vegan as these would have been very useful!  Most of the main supermarkets now publish regularly updated lists of their own-brand products that are suitable for vegans.  Here's where you can get the most up to date supermarket vegan lists:
Tesco: Scroll to the bottom of the page of this article for a link.
Sainsbury's: Again, scroll to the bottom of the article and click vegan.
Waitrose: Look under the 'suitable for' list and select vegan in this article.
Marks and Spencer: The last section of this article contains M&S's latest vegan list.
Ocado: They don't have a list but if you search the word 'vegan' on their website it brings up a list of items which you can search through.

Other shops: 
Asda doesn't do a vegan list but they do have a little icon on their web shop that indicates whether items are suitable for vegan.  It's not exhaustive and doesn't seem to cover all suitable items but is a good start.
Co-op doesn't publish a vegan list but they are pretty good at labelling items in store.

Label checking: 
This is can seem quite complicated before you get your vegan label checking superpower (trust me, give it a few months and you'll be scanning labels quicker than Johnny Five from Short Circuit!).  However, there's a fairly simple approach that will get you most of the way until you get the hang of the finer details.

First of all, check to see if the item is marked suitable for vegetarians - most manufacturers now will mark items as suitable for vegetarian if they are and so this is a quick way to ensure an item is free of ingredients like meat and gelatine.  Then check the allergens listing - look for things like milk, dairy, whey, milk derivatives, eggs, casein, milk protein, lactose, and milk powder.  Then quickly scan the ingredients list for the word honey.  If none of these ingredients are mentioned, and the item is likely to be suitable.

Now it's not an absolute failsafe - there will be some items that are exceptions to this (for example, some E numbers can be from animal sources and items fortified with D3 are usually not vegan) but as a new vegan, this will probably help you get most things right whilst you're getting to grips with everything else.  One other thing to note is not to worry, unless you're an allergy sufferer, about 'may contain' warnings.  These are simply disclaimers to warn people of possible (but usually very unlikely) cross-contamination where items are made in the same factory as products containing those ingredients but doesn't mean they're used as an actual ingredient.  Finally, there are some great pages and blogs out there from people who spend time checking out if products are suitable for vegans and sharing their findings online - one particularly good one is Vegan Womble.

Toiletries and household items:

This one can seem like a little bit more of a challenge as ingredients either aren't listed or seem like gobbledygook to most people.  You also have the issue of whether an item, or its ingredients are tested on animals.  The best way to be sure is to look for brands that are known to be suitable for vegans.  For household products these include Astonish, Ecozone, Bio-D, and Faith in Nature.  A number of the Co-op's own brand items are labelled as suitable for vegans.  For toiletries, a lot of vegans like Superdrug for everyday purchases like toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel, deodorant, skincare, and make-up as they have a wide range of products most of their items are clearly labelled in store as suitable for vegans.






Saturday, 15 November 2014

Simple salsa!

Who doesn't love salsa?  I make this one quite regularly as it goes with so many things - as a side for a warming chilli, in burgers, as a dip for tortilla chips, and of course to go with tasty tacos.


Ingredients

  • 5 medium tomatoes - finely diced
  • 1 medium red onion - also diced
  • 1-2 green chillies, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 handful of chopped coriander
  • Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes
Recipe
  1. Chop all the ingredients to your preferred size
  2. Place together in a bowl and mix well
  3. Pour lemon or lime juice over and stir
  4. Serve right away or pop in the fridge for later

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Chana masala

One thing we're spoiled for where we live is delicious Indian cuisine.  There are a few different places I love going to and whilst each of them has a slightly different recipe, I love the chana masala.  I love chickpeas in general but doing them this way just makes them even more delicious.  There seem to be quite a few different recipes out there, and I know a few recipes call for amchoor and but I didn't have any in the cupboard so I used tamarind powder instead.  You could also use lemon juice if you don't have tamarind.  I make mine quite spicy but you can adjust to suit your own taste.


Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 medium red onion - diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic - crushed
  • 2-3 green chillies - diced
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed ginger
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 400g cooked chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of tamarind powder (or 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried mango powder (optional)
  • 1 bayleaf
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Handful of chopped coriander & a wedge of lemon to garnish (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
Recipe
  1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions
  2. As soon as the onions begin to soften, add the chillies and mix well
  3. Add the garlic and ginger
  4. As soon as the garlic and ginger start to cook, add the powdered spices (and lemon juice if using) & mix well
  5. Add the chickpeas and stir into the spices
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes, fill the can with water and add to the pan
  7. Bring to the boil then turn down to simmer
  8. Keep stirring occasionally until cooked
  9. Season as required
  10. Serve with rice 


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Sausage and egg free breakfast muffin

This is makes a yummy weekend breakfast treat if you're not in the mood for a full cooked breakfast. 


Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 4 vegan sausages
  • 4 vegan-friendly English breakfast muffins
  • 1 cup of chickpea (gram) flour
  • 1 cup of water (maybe a drop more to get your ideal consistency)
  • 4-5 mushrooms
  • Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Oil for cooking
  • Ketchup or brown sauce
Preparation
  1. Mix the chickpea flour and water with a whisk, ensuring all lumps are removed
  2. Add the turmeric, salt, and pepper
  3. Dice the mushrooms 
  4. Slice the muffins, ready to toast/grill 
  5. Pre-heat the oven if you're cooking sausages in the oven 
Recipe
  1. Put the sausages in the oven to cook
  2. Heat a drop of oil in a frying pan and add the diced mushrooms
  3. Whilst the mushrooms are browning off, add the bicarbonate of soda to the gram flour mixture and whisk well 
  4. Once the mushrooms have begun to brown nicely, spread them evenly across the pan
  5. Pour the mixture over and place on a low-medium heat
  6. Once one side is cooked, flip the patty over and cook the other side
  7. Toast the muffins
  8. Once the patty is cooked, cut into four or use a cookie cutter to achieve perfect rounds
  9. Slice the sauces into 3 strips 
  10. Assemble and add a dollop of ketchup or your preferred sauce
  11. Eat! 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Spicy coconut tofu & noodle soup


Ingredients (serves 2-3 people)
  • 1 block of firm marinated tofu
  • 2 red chillies
  • 2 cloves of garlic 
  • 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
  • 1 large carrot
  • Handful of tenderstem broccoli
  • Handful of green beans
  • Handful of baby corn
  • 2 tablespoons of vegan red curry paste
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • Handful of cashew nuts
  • 300-450g of cooked noodles 
  • Handful of coriander
  • Oil for cooking
  • Salt & pepper
  • Two pans - one frying pan for the tofu & one large pan for the soup

Preparation
  1. Chop the chillies
  2. Crush the garlic cloves
  3. Peel and chop the carrots, julienne style 
  4. Wash the remaining veg
  5. Unpackage & drain the tofu, cut into cubes 
  6. If tofu is unmarinated, coat in some soy sauce
Recipe
  1. In the large pan, heat a small amount of oil and add the chopped chillies, leaving back a few pieces for garnish if you so wish
  2. After a minute or so, add the ginger and garlic 
  3. Mix well then add the chopped carrots
  4. When the carrots have begun to soften, add the rest of the veg
  5. Add the curry paste and mix well, ensuring everything is well covered 
  6. Add the coconut milk, fill the can with water and add  to the pan
  7. Bring to the boil then leave to simmer
  8. In the frying pan, heat some more oil then add the cubes of tofu
  9. Turn the tofu occasionally, ensuring all sides cook evenly 
  10. Add the noodles to the soup and mix well 
  11. Once the tofu is almost cooked, add the cashew nuts to the pan 
  12. Add salt and pepper to the soup according to your personal taste 
  13. Serve the soup in a bowl, then add the tofu and cashew nuts on top
  14. Garnish with fresh coriander & remaining chopped chillies  

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Spaghetti Bolognese

Quick to prepare, this makes a nice easy and filling midweek dinner.



Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons of dried thyme
  • Pinch of basil (fresh, frozen, or dried will do)
  • Dash of olive oil
  • 500g of vegan mince (I used Meet the Alternative), you can use a 400g tin of lentils instead of the mince if you prefer
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes 
  • 1 teaspoon of Marmite or yeast extract
  • Water
  • Small glass of red wine (if you prefer you can add a dash of balsamic vinegar or just leave it out)
  • 250ml of vegetable stock
  • Spaghetti (75g-100g per person)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Recipe
  1. Sweat off the chopped onion and carrot in the oil until they begin to soften
  2. Add the garlic and stir well, heating until the garlic begins to go slightly clear
  3. Add the herbs, mince, & Marmite, and mix well
  4. Once the mince is warm, add the wine and heat until the alcohol evaporates
  5. Add the tin of tomatoes and the vegetable stock
  6. Bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring regularly 
  7. Taste to check the carrot is cooked through, if not keep on the low heat for another 10 minutes
  8. If needs be, add more water to ensure the mixture doesn't dry out
  9. Add salt and pepper to your taste
  10. Once the bolognese is almost cooked, bring the a pan of water pan to the boil for the spaghetti
  11. Cook the spaghetti for 11-12 minutes, until al dente 
  12. Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain and add to the bolognese and mix well 
  13. Serve with a sprinkling of basil or sprig of parsley 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Tofu & Edamame Stir Fry

Who doesn't like a big bowl of stir-fried noodles?  This simple dish has mixed veg, tofu, and edamame making it a great source of protein and fibre.  


Ingredients (serves 2-3 people) 
  • 1 onion (I prefer red onions)
  • 1-3 chillies depending on your taste for spice
  • 1 small piece of ginger
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of yeast extract (eg. Marmite)
  • 1 x 400g block of firm/tub tofu 
  • Salt & pepper
  • Dried chillies (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of Chinese 5-spice 
  • 1-2 handfuls of shelled edamame (baby soya beans)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 pepper
  • Handful of greens (eg. cabbage/kale)
  • 1 spring onion
  • 200g of dried soba noodles (or 2 packs of precooked noodles if you prefer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup (agave or sugar will do also) 
  • Cooking oil (rice bran is good as it has a high smoke point) 
Preparation
  1. Wrap the tofu in a clean tea towel and press well to remove the excess moisture (this is much easier if it has been frozen and then defrosted first) 
  2. Dice the tofu into cubes and coat with soy sauce, salt, pepper, and dried chillies then set aside 
  3. Boil the edamame for 10 minutes or until edible (make sure they are soft enough to eat before adding them to the stir fry
  4. Boil the soba noodles according to the instructions on the packet
  5. Dice the onion and chillies and set to one side
  6. Grate the ginger and crush the garlic and set aside from the chillies and onions
  7. Chop up the rest of the veg, keeping it fairly small so it cooks quickly
Cooking Instructions
  1. Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil into a frying pan
  2. Place the tofu into the pan and shallow fry, turning regular so all sides brown off
  3. Meanwhile, add some more oil to a wok or large frying pan and add the onions and chillies (if you don't have separate pans, then precook the tofu until crisp then set to one side) 
  4. Once the onions and chillies have started to brown, add the garlic and ginger
  5. Soon after, add the carrot, pepper, and greens 
  6. Also add a generous dash of soy sauce, a the yeast extract, and maple syrup/sugar/agave
  7. If required, add a couple of tablespoons of water to prevent the pan from drying out and burning the dish
  8. After the veg has started to soften, add the noodles, edamame, and tofu
  9. Mix well and ensure that all items are heated well 
  10. Before serving, have a quick taste, and if needs be add more soy sauce/seasonings
  11. Serve and garnish with spring onions   

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Beans on Toast

Now everyday beans from the can on toast is delicious enough in its own right.  However, when you have just a little more time, this twist on the classic dish can make for a very satisfying feed!  


Ingredients (serves 2-3 people) 
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cans of mixed beans (or any beans of your choice)
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (you can use 400g of fresh chopped tomatoes if you prefer)
  • 1-2 chillies depending on your personal taste
  • Handful of chopped basil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic 
  • Splash of olive oil
  • 250ml of water
  • Sliced bread of your choice, I used pane pugliese in the dish pictured
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Recipe
  1. Dice the onions & throw them into a flat-bottomed pan with some of the olive oil
  2. Chop the chillies and add them to the pan
  3. Crush the garlic and add to the pan
  4. Empty the beans into a colander and rinse well
  5. Once the onions, chillies, and garlic start to brown, add the rinsed beans
  6. Add the chopped basil
  7. Stir well, before adding the tomatoes 
  8. Season with salt and pepper to your preferred taste
  9. Add half of the water, before bringing to the boil then turning down to simmer 
  10. Keep on a low heat, stirring occasionally, topping up with water when needed, until the beans are cooked through
  11. Spray or drizzle the bread with olive oil then grill until crisp
  12. Taste the beans and add any additional seasoning required
  13. Serve and garnish with any remaining basil  
  14. Enjoy!  

Friday, 15 August 2014

Is Palm Oil Vegan?

There is a lot of discussion about whether palm oil is vegan.  The TL:DR is - palm oil is a plant, it is definitely vegan and if we genuinely want animal liberation, campaigning against it in isolation is actually counter-productive to our aims.  

A lot of people argue that because of the environmental destruction palm oil causes, often with particular mentions of orangutans, that it is not vegan to use or consume palm oil.  But aside from being incorrect - because palm oil is vegan - this is a huge oversimplification of an incredibly complex issue.  To start with, the sheer size of the human population is such that no matter what we eat, it's pretty much impossible to avoid some sort of environmental impact.  So we have to look at the most effective ways to reduce that impact - and singling out specific plants is not the answer.  There are a number of reasons for this:

1. The biggest cause of environmental destruction and species extinction in terms of food production is without a doubt, animal agriculture - by a long shot.  So our priority should be on ending animal agriculture.  If we focus on palm oil or any other specific useful crops rather than ending animal use then we create an extra pressure for new and potential vegans that might make them think twice about ditching their use of animals.  We also give nonvegans yet another excuse (not like they need any more of those!) as to why they should avoid making a change to veganism.  Not only that but if animal agriculture was to come to an end, there'd be a vast amount of land freed up for planting palm and other crops because as we know, it takes many times more land to produce a pound of animal protein than it does to produce a pound of plant protein.

2. Out of all the plant oils, palm oil has by far the highest yield out of any of them (more than double most other oils).  This means it takes up less land to produce the same amount.  Unless humans stop using oils - which is unlikely - then palm oil is actually one of the lesser evils.  It also requires less chemicals and pesticides in its production - which is also a positive in terms of environmental impact compared to other oils.  This article goes into more detail about this particular topic.

3. A lot of palm oil is planted on land that has already been cleared for another purpose - such as illegal logging, or narcotics.  So when the palm oil industry is singled out as the cause, it's not entirely accurate and can be a distraction from a number of very serious environmental problems.

4. Palm oil is a single issue campaign.  Whilst our initial instinct is that single issue campaigns may raise awareness of the plight of some animals, what they invariably end up doing is promoting speciesism and as we know, speciesism leads to people making distinctions between animals they want to protect and animals who they see no problem in harming.  Take for example the narrative of palm oil being associated with orangutans.  There are few people who wouldn't be moved by heart-breaking images of homeless and orphaned orangutans.  However, by promoting the cause of orangutans in relation to palm oil, we reinforce the idea - particularly in the eyes of nonvegans - that some animals are more important than others.  For starters, not all palm oil is produced in locations where orangutans are a native species but because people are speciesist, orangutans have been adopted as the poster ‘child’ of the campaign to emotionally manipulate people – there are far more species who are affected by habitat destruction caused by animal agriculture than by a single plant product.  Further, the nonvegan alternatives to palm oil come from a number of farmed animals - butter, lard, dripping etc.  Who are we to say that orangutans are more important than cows, geese, pigs, or ducks?  How can we honestly say that an orangutans value their lives any more than other animals?  We can't.  I seriously recommend having a read of this article about why single issue campaigns are problematic.

5. If you're going to object to palm oil then to be consistent you should probably be objecting to chocolate, bananas, coconuts, mangoes, sugar, and all other crops that come from tropical plantations.  When we put it like that, doesn't it seem a bit crackers to say things like chocolate, bananas, and coconuts aren't vegan?  More on this here.

So to sum up - palm oil comes from a plant, so it's definitely vegan.  Palm oil has its merits, environmentally speaking, compared to other oils.  Palm oil is a single issue campaign that promotes speciesism and can actually distract from or give some people the excuse they were looking for not to become vegan.  That's not to say we shouldn't be conscious about our consumption of palm oil or any other controversial crops but rather that we should recognise that singling out palm oil but ignoring other problematic crops whilst wasting an opportunity to educate about animal agriculture is not the best use of our time and resources if we want to have a maximum impact on animals and the environment.  Veganism is the best chance we have of solving the issues of environmental destruction and species extinction, and therefore we must recognise that no matter how much our heartstrings are pulled, we must be rational and focus on promoting veganism - nothing less will do.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Sweet spiced seitan skewers

One of the things I thought I'd miss on becoming vegan was BBQs - because mistakenly I believed that without meat, there'd be little I could eat other than vegetable skewers (don't get me wrong, they're great, but it seems a bit OTT to get the BBQ going just to toast a few peppers and mushrooms).  I never needed to worry though, there are sooooo many vegan BBQ, including this one I'm about to share with you - sweet spiced seitan skewers.  Now try saying that after a glass or two of Pimms!


This recipe is pretty quick to make but you can always prepare it in advance and stick it in the fridge if you have guests coming over.  

Ingredients
  • Approx 250g of seitan (I used GranoVita mock duck which comes in a 285g tin) 
  • 1-2 chillies
  • Handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar or similar 
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds
  • Skewers
Recipe
  1. If using bamboo skewers, pop them in water to soak to help prevent them burning 
  2. Chop the seitan into 1/2 inch thick pieces - don't worry too much about uniformity
  3. Chop the chillies and coriander leaves
  4. Place the seitan, chillies, coriander, and ginger into a bowl
  5. Add the liquid ingredients and sesame seeds 
  6. Mix well then leave to soak for 15-20 minutes 
  7. Place onto skewers in desired portions
  8. Spoon any left over mixture over the skewers 
  9. Grill & eat!  



Radical Tea Towel

Look what the lovely people at Radical Tea Towel sent me to review!  It's a rather fitting one, with a quote from Albert Einstein saying, 'Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.'  Now it probably goes without saying that I believe that veganism rather than vegetarianism is the right way to live.  However, given that the term 'vegan' was only first coined in 1944 and Einstein made this statement in a letter in 1954, I think it's ok to be a little lenient with old Albert! :)  Considering that at the time, being a vegetarian would have been a pretty progressive thing to do, I don't think it's totally out of the question to think he may well have been a vegan if he were around today.  What do you think?  



Anyway, on to the tea towel itself!  It's made from 100%, lovely thick quality cotton from an ethical source, and made in the UK.  They seem to have a decent stance on ethics too.  This tea towel itself is £8.95 and they sell a range of gifts from fridge magnets to aprons and canvas shopping bags, all with various historical, ethical, and political themes.  Well worth a look if you're looking for a slightly unique gift for a politically-aware friend.  http://www.radicalteatowel.com/ 

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Look at me Mum, I'm eating a salad!

So, as you may have guessed from my blog name, I'm not a huge fan of salad.  I will run in fear before being able to put cucumber or lettuce into my mouth.  However, as I have learned, there are plenty of salads one can eat that involves neither leaves nor slimy cucumber.  This is one such salad, it's an ode to one of my most favourite foods at the moment, edamame!


It's a very simple & quick salad to make and makes a tasty lunch or a great side dish to go with a bigger meal or BBQ.

Ingredients

  • 200g of shelled edamame, boiled and cooled
  • 1 large carrot, grated or cut with julienne peeler
  • 1 large courgette, grated or cut with julienne peeler
  • 1 handful of cashew nuts
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of fruit juice/puree (feel free to use a fruity salad dressing if you have one - I used a mango & chilli one.)
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup/agave nectar
  • Pinch of chilli powder
  • Pinch of crushed ginger
  • Pinch of dried chilli
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds
  • Chopped spring onions to garnish

Recipe

  1. Place the carrots, courgette, and edamame in a bowl
  2. Pour the soy sauce, juice/puree, maple syrup, ginger, and chilli powder over and mix well
  3. Sprinkle the cashews and sesame seeds over the top
  4. Season with the dried chilli, pepper, and salt (I used Himalayan pink salt for this)
  5. Garnish with spring onions
  6. Eat now or pop into the fridge for later 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Traditional pasty


What better after a cold afternoon out and about than a good old-fashioned pasty straight from the oven?  The good thing about the vegan version is that it's not as greasy as its traditional meaty counterpart meaning that the pastry doesn't go soggy underneath.  This is a nice simple recipe, using shop-bought pastry, that will make 4-5 regular pasties or 10-12 mini ones.
Ingredients
1 500g pack of vegan-friendly puff pastry
200g of vegan mince (I used Fry's)
1 large potato
1 small swede or 1/2 regular swede
1-2 tsp of vegetable stock powder
Salt & pepper

Recipe

  1. Get the pastry out of the fridge and leave it to get to room temperature
  2. Place a large pan of water on the hob & bring to the boil
  3. Finely dice the potatoes and swede 
  4. Pop the diced swede and potatoes in for around 5-6 minutes to boil - check before draining that they're cooked then set aside to drain fully
  5. Place the oven on to preheat to 180C
  6. In a large frying pan or wok, heat a small amount of oil and add the mince 
  7. Once the mince has browned slightly, add the swede and potatoes
  8. Add a small amount of salt, a liberal amount of pepper, and 1tsp of vegetable stock powder
  9. Mix the ingredients well until the mince is cooked through
  10. Give the mixture a taste and if needs be, add more pepper and the other tsp of veg stock powder
  11. Set the filling mixture to one side to cool and roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work top, it should be big enough to cut out 4-5 15cm/6" discs
  12. Use a bowl or saucer around 15cm wide as a stencil to cut out discs
  13. Roll each disc out a little more before adding 2-3 heaped tablespoons of filling in the centre, slightly to one side
  14. Fold the disc over then begin to crimp the edges, there are numerous ways but here's one example - http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/techniques/crimping_pasty
  15. Place the pasties on a non-stick baking tray and cook until the pastry is golden brown 
  16. Eat with a big dollop of ketchup!  




Sunday, 2 February 2014

One-pot Rice Bowl


Here's a really simple, filling recipe for when you don't have huge amounts of time and don't want loads of washing up.  All you need is either a rice cooker or one large, deep, flat bottomed pan.  You can substitute the veg for whatever you might have in.

Ingredients (Serves 4)
400ml of rice, well rinsed (preferably soaked for 15-20 minutes)
1 can of chickpeas
1 large carrot
1 courgette
1 handful of frozen peas
2 tsp of turmeric
2 tsp of cumin
2 tsp of coriander powder
1-2 tsps of chilli powder (optional)
1-2 tablespoons of vegetable stock powder
1 litre of water with some extra for adding if needed
1 tablespoon of oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Salt & pepper to taste

Recipe

  1. Measure out the rice in a liquid measuring jug, doing it this way rather than weighing makes it easier to figure out how much water you need.  
  2. Make sure the rice is well rinsed and then leave to soak whilst you prep the veg, preferably for 15-20 minutes
  3. Using a knife or julienne peeler, chop the carrot and courgette into small pieces, this helps to ensure they cook in the same time as the rice
  4. Rinse the chickpeas 
  5. Add all the veg, rice, chickpeas, spices, stock and oil into the rice cooker/pan
  6. Top up with water - roughly 2.5:1 rice to water - and mix well
  7. If you have a rice cooker, set to cook and then leave it for 10-15 minutes 
  8. If you're using a pan, bring to the boil then turn down to simmer and cover for 10-15 minutes
  9. Check back, stirring only occasionally (so as not to allow too much heat to escape)
  10. If needs be, add more water - you can check this by tasting the rice once the water has evaporated and if it's still not quite cooked, add some more, roughly 100ml at a time
  11. Serve with a chapati or other bread of your choice 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Chickpea, potato, and quinoa burgers


I made these burgers from left over chickpea curry and mashed potatoes but I shall give the recipe to do them from scratch in case you don't have any leftover curry and mash hanging around!  If you do have some left over curry and mash hanging around then I suggest you experiment with putting them together,  Making them from scratch will make quite a sizeable batch (around 6-8, maybe even 10 burgers depending on how big you like them) but they can easily be frozen.

Ingredients:
1 small onion, I prefer red onions but any will do
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1-2 chillies, chopped (if you don't want them spicy, you can leave these out)
1 can of chickpeas, washed and drained
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1-2 teaspoons of vegetable stock powder
3-4 teaspoons of spices (I used turmeric, cumin, garam masala
2 large potatoes, boiled & mashed
100g of quinoa
250ml of water
Gram (chickpea) flour (ordinary flour will do if you don't have any)
Vegetable oil 

Recipe
  1. Sauté off the onions, chillies, and garlic in a glug of the oil.
  2. Add 3 teaspoons of the spices to the mixture and mix well.
  3. Add the chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of vegetable stock powder.
  4. Allow the mixture to simmer for a while until the chickpeas have softened enough to eat then remove from the heat.
  5. In the meantime, cook the quinoa in a rice cooker or flat-bottomed pan with the 250ml of water, remaining vegetable stock, and spices.
  6. Once all the ingredients are cooled, add them to a food processor and blend.  You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your food processor.  If you do, try to make sure there's an equal amount of each ingredient in each batch.
  7. Once the mixture has blended, add the flour, a tablespoon at a time and mix, keep going until you reach a consistency that is still fairly moist but firm enough that it will hold its shape when shaped and handled gently.
  8. With some of the flour in a bowl, and begin making the mixture into balls and coating them in the flour before squashing them into burger patty shapes.  How big is up to you - judge it based on the size you want. 
  9. Heat up about 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a wok, to test the temperature is right, drop a small amount of mixture into the pan and if it bubbles, it's ready to cook the burgers.
  10. Cook the burgers for 5-10 minutes, until a lovely golden brown colour, then transfer them to a plate with some kitchen roll to drain the excess oil.
  11. Serve in burger buns with whatever garnish you fancy and some yummy potato wedges or chips.  I love them with red onions, grated courgette and chilli jam.  Mmmmmm!