Author Archives: leroywatson4

About leroywatson4

Picks grapes, eats cheese, leaves..... You'll find the vegetarian, healthy eating soul food blog 'the beach house kitchen' and also 'Riding effortlessly on a large green turtle' for free spirits with open hearts. hope to see you there/here sonnX

Banana Bread Pancakes with Almonds and Maple Peach Sauce (Gluten-Free)

Banana Bread Pancakes

Banana Bread Pancakes

This is a Sunday morning breakfast to savour jam packed full of flavour and wonderful nutrition. I love pancakes and banana bread, so thought combining the two sounds nice. It turns out they are all the range in the States and a staple brekkie for our trans Atlantic brothers and sisters.

We’ve made them vegan and gluten free, we can’t make things too easy now can we?!   This changes the texture of the pancakes and makes them much lighter.  We find ‘normal’ pancakes quite heavy in the morn and can only eat a couple, these pancakes are less stodgy only contain natural sugars.

Gorgeous Peaches

Oooh!  You peach!

The flours we used here were what we had in the cupboard.  You may also like to go for some buckwheat or coconut flour into the mix.  They will both work well, coconut flour especially adds nice body to the pancakes.

Gluten free recipes normally need a little more care in the handling.  In the pan, let them rest and only bother them when the edges are turning to a darker shade of brown and crisping up.  Loosen well with a flat spatula and elegantly flip in one motion (much easier typed than put into practice!)  These don’t take the abuse and dodgy, warm up flipping that a normal full gluten variety will.  Softly, softly…

A good little non stick frying pan is essential kit for this recipe. You don’t need oil in the pan for these pancakes, but you do need a forgiving bottom.

We used four peaches for our sauce, we love it on toast, mixed in baked stuff and stirred into smoothies. This kind of fruit puree/ sauce is never far away from the beach house fridge.

The Bits, in the mix

The Bits, in the mix

As a variation, you can use any berries to make a nice sauce.  You may also like to throw some walnuts, brazil nuts, chocolate chips….into the pancake batter.

The Bits – For 6 big pancakes
1/4 cup rice flour
2 tbs fine corn meal/ flour
2 tbs potato flour
½ teas bicarb of soda
½ teas cinnamon
¼ teas sea salt
350g firm tofu (drained)
2 bananas
2 tbs coconut oil
¼ cup coconut milk
1 teas almond extract
2 tbs flax/ linseeds (soaked in 5tbs water for 1 hour)
1 handful of almonds (roughly chopped)

Maple Peach Sauce
2 peaches (de-stoned and peeled if you like)
Maple syrup (to taste)

Do It

If you have a small blender or coffee grinder (or just plain old blender) blitz the flax seeds for a minute, try to make a nice, thick paste.

Place all the pancake ingredients, except the almonds, in a blender and pulse until smooth.  Scrapping the sides of the blender a few times to get it all incorporated.  Pour into a large bowl and stir in the chopped almonds, leave to sit for 10 minutes.

Warm a small non-stick frying pan on medium heat, make sure its hot.  Spoon in roughly 3-4 tbs of pancake mix at a time. They should be nice and thick, more a American style ‘hot cake’ than a Basque ‘crepe’. Spread out using a spatula and cook for 2-3 minutes until bubbles begin to rise, flip using a flat spatula and cook on the other side for 2 minutes.

Cover with a kitchen cloth and repeat until you have a mighty tower of pancakes on your hands.

While that is going on. Place your peaches in the, now clean, blender and blitz until smooth. You can have this sauce hot or cold. Add the maple syrup to taste.

Banana Bread Pancakes with Almonds and Maple Peach Sauce

Banana Bread Pancakes with Almonds and Maple Peach Sauce

Serve

Warm and lathered with the peachy sauce.

Foodie Fact

Bananas are said to be Malaysian in origin, where they spread through the Philippines and India where Alexander the Great noted them growing in the 4th century BC.

Bananas are packed with potassium, brilliant for maintaining low blood pressure.  Bananas are super sweet but have a low GI rating, they are rich in fibre which keeps the digestion ticking over and regulates the amount of simple sugar released into our systems.  They are also good sources of vitamin C.

There are hundreds of types of bananas, but they are mainly grouped as sweet or plantain style.  To get an idea of the sheer range and textural difference, I can recommend some time harvesting bananas in Nicaragua.  The best bananas in the world!

 

Categories: Breakfast, Gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Creamy Broccoli, Sunflower and Lemon Dip

Broccoli, Sunflower and Lemon Dip

Broccoli, Sunflower and Lemon Dip

Fancy a quick dip!  This simple, creamy vegan dip is a great way to get more broccoli into our lives.  Which is never a bad thing!

Broccoli is one of the healthiest things sprouting from the earth.  Outrageously high in vitamin C and K.  Broccoli should not be cut before storing, otherwise the vitamin content decreases and should not be washed before popping in the fridge (a general rule with all fruit and veg) as this speeds up the spoiling process.

The nutrients in vegetables and fruits is directly effected by the soil and methods used in growing.  Organic is best, but even modern organic, industrialised practices leads to an depletion in the nutrients in soil and  subsequently the things grown in it.  In the Beach House, we wholeheartedly recommend befriending local producers/ farmers or even better growing your own.

This went down a treat at lunchtime today, perfect summer dipping fodder with the added benefit of being super healthy and light.

The Bits – Males one bowlful

300g silken tofu

2 handfuls sunflower seeds (soaked overnight = smooth dip, unsoaked = crunchy dip)

1 small head of broccoli (finely chopped)

1 small clove garlic (peeled and crushed)

1/2 lemon (juice and zest)

1/2 handful of fresh dill

1/2 handful of mint leaves

1 tbs good olive oil

Cracked pepper and sea salt (to taste)

Do It

Place all in a food processor and blend for a minute, scraping the sides down if you need to.   If you have used unsoaked seeds, expect a nice crunch to your dip, otherwise, make it nice and smooth.

Beach House radishes - ready for dipping action

Beach House radishes – ready for dipping action

Serve

With all your favourite crudites, we love to dip oat cakes into ours.

Foodie Fact

By birth, Broccoli is an Italian.  A member of the cabbage family and the green sibling of the cauliflower.  It is never good soggy, steam for 5 minutes max or serve raw.  Broccoli is a meal in itself, use the leaves and stems for different textures.

Broccoli has excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, especially high in vitamin C.  We regularly add it to morning juices to gives us a gentle kickstart in the right direction.  Broccoli is also outrageously high in fibre, helping fight cholesterol and keeping our digestion ticking over nicely.  This green hero also helps our eyes and repairs our skin.  Only a handful of broccoli per day will have considerable benefits.

Summer time and dippin' is easy.....

Summer time and dippin’ is easy…..

Categories: Nutrition, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Italian Flava! Holiday Snaps of Napoli and the Amalfi Coast

ITALIA!  What a place!  Pizza, scenery, pasta, wonderful people, gelato (for Jane), stunning scenery, espresso, incredible history….so much, a country filled with endless passion for life and bellies filled with wonderful culinary creations.  Here we have just a few of our holiday snaps from June’s trip to Southern Italy.

Jane's first gelato (she was a little pleased) - Napoli

Jane’s first gelato (Pistachio flavour) – Downtown Napoli

We started off in Napoli, hiring a car and camping for most of the time.  We rarely spent two nights in one place as the allure of the open road and the fascinating sights just kept us rolling deeper and deeper into Campania.  Napoli reminds me alot of Latin America, a real vibrancy and chaos, it can be scruffy and awe inspiring  in the same alleyway, it is a hive of creativity, is crammed full of ancient historical sights and offers all the opportunity to feast like a greedy baron.

Pizza is the mainstay of things and the Marinara (just tomato sauce, a little garlic and a drizzle of olive oil, so called because the fishermen used to eat it) took dough discs to a whole new level in my eyes.  The wine was local, with a vast array of indigenous grape varieties and generally, delicious.  Apart from eating and sipping coffee with jumpers tied around our necks, we walked the cities old town, took in as many museums, cathedrals, underground grotto’s, gelaterias (Jane) and Greek sculptures as our mortal legs could manage.  Napoli is my new favourite city at a canter.

On the road lunch - Graveyard, somewhere in the Cilento National Park, Campania

On the road lunch, Italy=best produce ever! – In an old graveyard, somewhere in the Cilento National Park, Campania

The spectacular Duomo Cathedral - Napoli

The spectacular Duomo Cathedral – Napoli

After Napoli, and the utterly mental driving conditions (most of the cars bear the scars of the outrageously tight roads and kamikaze scooters), we drove south past Mount Versuvius (the once mighty eruptor) and headed to the Amalfi coast, a place constantly banged on about as being rather pleasant.  Well it was in a  fashion, if you are of the manicured tourist variety.  We are not.  So camped in forests when we could and only ventured into the pretty towns for dinner, which was almost always, fresh, local, seasonal, made my mama and utterly delicious. We generally found things quite cheap, making our breakfast and lunch on roadsides and picnic benches along the way with some of the best fruit and veg I have ever encountered.  Believe the hype!  Italian lemons, plums, tomatoes, olives……the list goes on, are touched with something intangible and utterly magnificent.  Food here is a way of life, a cornerstone of culture…..I have heard this all before, but to witness it first hand and even better, to taste the fruits of this fascination and tradition, made me feel like the luckiest muncher on the Med.

Temple of Poseidon - The Ancient City of Paestum (600BC!), Campania

Temple of Poseidon – The Ancient City of Paestum (600BC!), Campania

Camping by churches seemed to work well - Cilento National Park, Campania

Camping by abandoned churches works well –  Near Morigerati, Cilento National Park, Campania

We found some beautiful camp spots and used disused churchyards regularly.  Almost painfully romantic and with the added bonus of clean water springs to do the washing up and for the occasional bathe.  The weather was sweltering, so we rose early with the sun and generally bedded down under clear night skies, sparkling with stars and fireflies.

Another roadside lunch -  Outside the very touritsy Ravello, Amalfi Coast

Another roadside lunch – Outside the very touritsy Ravello, Amalfi Coast

The awesome Hercules - National Museum, Napoli

The ancient and mighty Faranese Hercules 3AD (roughly 12 metres tall!) – National Museum, Napoli

Packing up one of our favourite campspots  - Overlooking Positano, Amalfi Coast

Packing up one of our favourite campspots – Overlooking Positano, Amalfi Coast

Stunning villages abound! - Morigerati, Cilento National Park

Stunning villages abound! – Morigerati, Cilento National Park

The national park, Cilento was a real highlight.  The second largest in all of Italy, with little villages on crags, waterfalls, endless forests and some stunning mountainous peaks, far too much to explore in the little time we had.  There seemed to be no one there and the towns were always sleepy and friendly, generally the opposite of the Amalfi coast towns which were packed full of tourists and establishments fixed to empty their pockets of silver.   We discovered a few gems on what is a dramatically beautiful, steep slope, but generally the Amalfi is a little overrated.  Its a big world, many coastlines, why should we all gather in one place?  I have to admire the marketing job done by the tourism folk, Sorrento for example is heaving with Americans who have flown all this way to the Med to see a sanitised version of what is surely, one of the worlds most stunning areas.  And, it was 45 euros for a dorm bed!  45 euros for a wonky bunk!!!!!!

Making salads on bins - A little medieval village, somewhere in the Cilento National Park

Making salads on bins – A little medieval village, somewhere in the Cilento National Park

 

Stunning nature - Cilento National Park

Stunning nature – Cilento National Park

Jane just before another amazing dinner - Campania

Jane just before another amazing dinner – Castellabate, Campania

We spent a week in Cilento National Park, driving the crumbling roads and marvelling at the sheer natural beauty of the place.  It seemed impossible to escape the ancient past as we randomly came across site after site filled with magnificent ruins of towns and temples, the most impressive of which were (of course) Pompei and Paestum.  Some of the details that have survived are stunning, it feels like you’re looking directly into the lives of the people who lived more than 2000 years ago.  We know their names, how much they earned and where they worked, the Gods they worshiped, what they did for giggles and even their favourite snack bars!  These incredibly preserved relics give colour and texture to the ancient world and open fascinating windows into how our forefathers and mothers would have passed their lives.  It wasn’t all good, being a gladiator fighting lions seemed like a raw deal but I have to say, in the most part, they seemed to live well and in a highly advanced, organised and cosmopolitan way.

Another lunch stop, abandon churches again (always with handy fresh water springs for washing up!) - Cilento National Park, Campania

Another lunch stop, abandon churches again (always with handy fresh water springs for washing up!) – Cilento National Park, Campania

Italian beaches are strange and normally filled with sun loungers, costing an exorbitant amount of euros to perch on.  It is the only place in the world I have visited where beaches are private and fenced off!  You need to buy a Cappucino to take a dip in the ocean!  What a strange approach.  Due to this, we only spent 20 minutes on the beach, it all seemed a little hectic and the opposite of relaxing.

Temple of Isis, Pompeii

Temple of Isis, Pompeii

The best pizza in town (gypsy guitarists just out of picture) - Di Mateos, Napoli

The best pizza in town (gypsy guitarists just out of picture) – Di Mateos, Napoli

There are a few famous and touristy pizza restaurants in Napoli, but we were assured by locals that Di Mateos was the best.  Located on Via Tribuani, one of the main streets in the old town, it is always packed full and has a real buzz about it.   It was, without any peer, the best pizza I ever met.  Add to that the band of gypsy’s (not the Jimi Hendrix lot) playing as we went in and you have the full package.  You cannot beat the sound of a well strummed mandolin and some toothless yelping.  It stirs the appetite and soul.

Our favourite dinner spot, in a cave! - Nochelle, Amalfi

Our favourite dinner spot, in a cave! – Nochelle, Amalfi

After all that driving, we landed in Pompeii, not a bad little town considering the daily influx of tourist coaches.  We camped there in a little family ran site and walked the 20 metres to the main gates.  Italy really impressed me in the fact that corporations don’t seem to have taken hold.  Family ran joints, hotels, cafes, restaurants etc seem to be very much the done thing and it adds so much variety and authenticity to towns.  You get to meet the real locals, eat their food, hear their gossip and understand a little about what is actually going on.  Places ran by people who genuinely care about what they’re doing which makes all the difference.  I hear this does not extend to Italian politics, but that’s a whole different blog……

Last but certainly not least, antipasti and pasta! - Mama made it, Morigerati, Campania

Last but certainly not least, antipasti and pasta! – Mama made it, Morigerati, Campania

So Italy is nice, very highly reccomended by the B.H.K.  There seems so much to rave about but its the warmth and intensity of the locals which will stay with me.  Prego!!!!  I think Jane and I would go back now, if we weren’t tending to tomatoes and reveling in the unpredictable beauty of a Welsh summer in full swing.

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Raw Food vs Cooked Food and The Power of Enzymes

Jane and I are very conscious of the power and cleansing attributes of a full-on raw food diet.  We have tried it out for the past two years for at least a month (normally stretching to two) and have felt amazing; energy levels through the roof, body and mind happy and content…..  Coupled with no alcohol, gluten or caffeine we were incredibly virtuous for a while and (almost) literally floated around in a state of exalted well-being.  It was nice.  We became converts by going through the process of learning to be more experimental with raw produce and the latent potential of the humble nut.  See more of our writing on the topic here Why Raw Food?  and more and even a little more (Raw Earth Month – Moving Back to Nature) for good measure.

The raw food movement does seem to attract a certain amount of food extremists, which puts alot of folk off.  Its not all about being super skinny and living a veg obsessed, semi monastic existence.  Jane and I do not fall into this bracket, we just love to experiment with foods and our bodies and really get a buzz from succulent, vibrant raw food dished.  Check it out!

The desserts are something truly heavenly, Raw Chocolate Brownie with Chocolate Icing  or Raw Coconut and Lime Cheesecake.  Even the inventive way that salads are used is something to get the taste buds whirling, think Sprouted Wheat Grain, Apple and Mustard Salad or how about a Crunchy Thai Salad with Green Coco Dressing?  OK, now I’m on a roll, how about a Raw Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta?  In fact its probably best just to check out our Raw button in the tags section (top right of the page)….

Raw Vegan Lasage with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta

Raw – Vegan Golden Courgette Lasagna with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta

RAW FOOD VS COOKED FOOD

So the food can be inspiring and creative, but what about the health side of things.  Most fruits and veggies are best served raw, but those containing lycopene (tomatoes, red pepper and other reddish fruits and veg like watermelons, red guava etc) are best served, from a nutritional point of view, slightly cooked.  Lycopene is a very potent antioxidant.  When cooked, tomatoes for example, show a boost in lycopene levels.  The drawback however, and this goes for most vegetation, is that when cooked for lets say 30 minutes, the Vitamin C levels of tomatoes decreases by 30%.  Basically heat increases the rate of degradation of food or ‘oxidisation’, which is bad for foods and bad for our bodies (hence the name ‘anti-oxidants’ which help against it).  Boiling foods results in loss of valuable nutrients which leech into the water (more reasons to use it as soup stock!?)  The healthiest way to cook food is to gently steam them and not to overcook them.  Firm is fine.  This will preserve much of their nutritional value.

So its a bit of a balancing act really, gain lycopene and lose Vitamin C.  Some people say that Vitamin C is more prevalent in the plant world and we are better served to boost the lycopene levels, which is rarer.  ‘Raw food vs Cooked Food’ is a complex comparison and I’d say that mostly raw is best for optimum health (if that’s what you’re driving at).  We are still not sure of all of the benefits of raw food, but each year, science is discovering more reasons to get excited about salads and carrot batons!!!!!

Oven Baked Summer Squash filled with Buckwheat, Beetroot and Walnuts

Cooked – Oven Baked Summer Squash filled with Buckwheat, Beetroot and Smoked Tofu

Here is an interesting article I just read about the importance of enzymes to overall health, our bodies cannot thrive without them!

Importance of Enzymes

Enzymes are the sparks that start the essential chemical reactions our bodies need to live. They are necessary for digesting food, for stimulating the brain, for providing cellular energy, and for repairing all tissues, organs, and cells. Humbart Santillo, in his book, Food Enzymes, quotes a Scottish medical journal that says it well: “Each of us, as with all living organisms, could be regarded as an orderly, integrated succession of enzyme reactions.”

There are three types of enzymes: metabolic enzymes, digestive enzymes, and food enzymes.

Metabolic enzymes catalyze, or spark, the reactions within the cells. The body’s organs, tissues, and cells are run by metabolic enzymes. Without them our bodies would not work. Among their chores are helping to turn phosphorus into bone, attaching iron to our red blood cells, healing wounds, thinking, and making a heart beat.

Digestive enzymes break down foods, allowing their nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream and used in body functions. Digestive enzymes ensure that we get the greatest possible nutritional value from foods.

Food enzymes are enzymes supplied to us through the foods we eat. Nature has placed them there to aid in our digestion of foods. This way, we do not use as many of the body’s “in-house” enzymes in the digestive process.

This is important to remember. Dr. Edward Howell, who has written two books on enzymes, theorizes that humans are given a limited supply of enzyme energy at birth, and that it is up to us to replenish our supply of enzymes to ensure that their vital jobs get done. If we don’t replenish our supply, we run the risk of ill health.

In the Enzyme Nutrition axiom, Howell postulates that “The length of life is inversely proportional to the rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential of an organism. The increased use of food enzymes promotes a decreased rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential.”

In other words, the more food enzymes you get, the longer, and healthier, you live.

The key is to remember that food enzymes are destroyed at temperatures above 118 F. This means that cooked and processed foods contain few, if any enzymes, and that the typical North American diet is enzyme-deficient. When we eat this type of diet, we could well be eating for a shorter and less-than-healthy life.

This points back to the importance of eating raw fruits and vegetables because they are “live foods”; that is, foods in which the enzymes are active. The more enzymes you get, the healthier you are. And the more raw foods you eat, the more enzymes you get.

DETOXIFICATION

One of the roles of enzymes in the body is detoxification — breaking down toxic substances so that they are excreted and cannot build up to possibly cause harm. Although this is done by metabolic enzymes, research shows that enzymes found in the foods we eat — although not food enzymes — may help our bodies do this.

This has such potential that the U.S. Army is looking into it. The U.S. Army Edgewood Research, Development, and Engineering Center has isolated enzymes that neutralize chemical warfare agents. The center’s Dr. Joseph J. DeFrank believes the enzymes can be used to rapidly decontaminate facilities, equipment, and vehicles.

The Frank M. Raushel Research Group is looking at ways to exploit the properties of enzymes for a variety of chemical and medicinal uses. One project is studying enzymes that catalyze the detoxification of organophosphate insecticides.

Other research points in the same direction. Research at the University of California — Davis is showing that green barley extract may accelerate the body’s breakdown of malathion, an organophosphate insecticide used heavily throughout the world.

Six different experiments measured the ability of barley leaf extract to “detoxify” this insecticide. All revealed positive results.

Interestingly enough, one more test was run after subjecting the green barley extract to high heat. This, the researchers believe, denatured and removed the proteins. Detoxification ability was again measured, and this time, did not take place. This indicates that the detoxifying agent in green barley is an enzyme, and when heated, the enzymes are destroyed. It also points out that green barley extract is “alive” — that is, that the enzymes are intact.

This info taken from the AIM International Partners Magazine, July, 1997

 

If you fancy trying out a raw food diet, you will find loads of recipes on the B.H.K. and if you need any advice, just drop us a line.  The more raw food you can incorporate into your diet, the better.   With the sun shining on our beautiful little island, I can think of no better time to drop the wok and pick up the grater.  Go Raw!!!!!!(mostly)  But most of all, have fun and enjoy cooking and eating!

Categories: Detox, Healing foods, Raw Food, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Jane’s Easy Seeded Wholemeal Loaf

Jane on the beach this morning (Dinas Dinlle)

Jane on the beach this morning (Dinas Dinlle)

Jane has been running wild with the bread vibe recently, all kinds of doughy goodness has been rising and getting crusty around the BHK. The most impressive is the most simple recipe, which is just the way things should be.

Jane has taken a few steps out of your average bread making venture and the result is a light and crispy loaf, with decent density. It makes a great base for regular bread making and avoidance of all that strange stuff made by big supermarkets etc masquerading as bread (when we really know that some strange practices have happened behind the scenes). When you taste good quality, homemade bread, you will not be hurrying back to buy some ‘fly away’ seeded loaf from a luminous aisle. This is the real deal.  You also know what goes into your loaf, there can be some strange things done with wheat, bits taken out then added later, all kinds of additive and preservative action.

Whenever we turn the oven on, we pop a loaf in. It makes sense. Turning the oven on is a real event for us, not only does it heat our kitchen (where we have no heating!!!) it also gets our minds tuned into baked goods. What can we rustle up? Rustling things up is very prevalent in the way we do things over here on Tiger Mountain.

Last year we posted something like a ‘Simple Loaf’ recipe, but this takes things even further in the simplicity stakes. If you know of an easier way to make a decent loaf, please let us know.

Jane and I have both decided that bread is cool. We have tried going off it for lengthy periods, but in moderation, toast is a wonderful thing (especially with loads of Marmite lathered on). I don’t think either of us are gluten intolerant (although we all probably are to one degree or another). I am yet to find a decent gluten free recipe for homemade bread, I’ve tried a few, but many of them contain eggs and there is a limit to the way that silken tofu can substitute the richness and binding properties of an egg. I will keep trying though.

Serving suggestions. You have to love the way that companies incorporate a serving suggestion on most of their processed products. I was looking at a can of beans the other day and it was just a picture of a load of beans, underneath stating ‘serving suggestions’. Serve beans, as beans! Who knew!!!! Serving suggestions here are bowls of soup, try this one, or here’s another beauty or maybe a raw soup would be nice?  You can of course go old school and just toast it up and spread on some bramble jelly of even make a little crostini, with chopped tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and fresh basil or oregano.

Have you tried spelt? This is my new favourite loaf and I will be posting a recipe for my ‘Roman Loaf’ very soon. Spelt has an awesome toasty taste and is filled with nutrition and relaxed gluten. Also barley is ridiculously high in fibre, natures highest in fact and makes for a magic crusty lump.

WHOLEWHEAT OR WHOLEMEAL?

When buying flour, try to get whole meal/ wheat.  Stoneground seems to the the most traditional way of doing things.  Sometimes ‘whole meal’ is not actually ‘whole wheat’ and this can mean a decrease in the nutritional value of your loaf.  These terms change from country to country, but we are looking for wheat with all the bran and germ etc intact and certainly not removed. Some brown looking flours can be mixed with other grains, so its worth checking the ingredients.  Also look for unbleached white flour, as bleach and food just don’t mix.  In fact, bleach and life just don’t mix!  You can easily make this loaf 100% whole wheat and experiment with different types of flour (see above).  The white flour is only really there to make it lighter and tighter (if you catch my drift).  As you all probably know by now, I’m the rough, crusty flapjack side of the ‘Beach House Bakery’ and Jane is the more frilly scone and tinsel approach.  This loaf is a compromise of sorts…..

Over to Jane for the simplicity masterclass:

For one average sized loaf (you know that bread tin shape)

The Bits

500g flour (roughly 300g whole wheat, 200g white)

7g fast action yeast (roughly one sachet)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp brown rice extract or barley malt extract

1 big handful of seeds (sunflower, hemp, pumpkin, poppy…….mixture of these?)

1 1/4 teas salt

 

Do It

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl with your hands.

Dissolve the oil and sweetener into 300ml luke warm water.  Stir this mixture into the dough.

Bring it together and turn out onto a lightly floured or oiled surface.  Knead well for 5 minutes until the dough is mixed, add the seeds now.  The dough should not be dry, and should still be sticky to the touch.  Roll dough into a fat oval shape.

Pop into a pre-oiled loaf tin and press down into the edges.  Leave in a warm place covered with cling film of a kitchen towel.  After 1 hour the dough should have doubled in size.  Make deep slashed on the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife.

Pre heat oven to 190oC and bake for 30-35 minutes, until dark golden and risen.  Loosen the edges with a spatula or pallet knife and turn out onto a wire rack.  If it is sticking, leave for a few minutes and have a go after its rested.  It will come out!  Tap the bottom of the loaf with your fingers, it will sound pretty much hollow when it is ready.  If it still feels solid and dough-filled, pop it back in for 5-10 minutes.

Leave to cool for 15 minutes before diving in.

Easy Seeded Loaf

Easy Seeded Loaf

Serve

See the ‘serving suggestions’ above.  Bread is of course best munched fresh out of the oven.  We tend to slice up old bread for croutons or crostini and freeze them.  You can do the same with breadcrumbs, which can come in very handy when making vegan bangers or burgers.

Foodie Fact

Wheat actually originates from South Western Asia and humans have been enjoying it for at least 12,000 years (and counting).   We only got it in the West when Columbus came back from his pilfering missions.

When wheat is processed, at least half of the minerals and vitamins are lost.  If we are eating pasta, breads, flours etc that are processed, we are normally getting very little of the good stuff that is present in natural whole wheat.

Wheat in its natural state is a very nutritious grain indeed, with bags of minerals like manganese and magnesium and barrel loads of fibre.   Sourdough breads are normally a better choice if you feel a gluten intolerant, they also boast better nutrition.  Interestingly, even though wheat is one of the fibre powerhouses of nature, raspberries still contain more fibre!!!!  How cool is that!  Maybe we’ll make a raspberry loaf next time……

And finally.....Buster in a box

And finally…..Buster in a box

Categories: Baking, Beach House Basics, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Spirulina – What is it and why we should all be munching it?

What may look like swamp thing is actually one of the worlds healthiest foods

Spirulina, the funkiest of green powders on the block.  Something Jane and I love dearly and take regularly to perk up our bodies and give us a super energy and health boost.

We recently visited Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India.  A community based on free expression, virtue and peace.  Its actually a difficult place to explain in an article like this, best to check it out for yourself here.

Jane worked opposite the Aurospirul Farm, a place we have bought Spirulina from in the past.  It was amazing to be so close to a fine producer of many varieties of organic spirulina. We love the spirulina mixed with Amla (like a gooseberry) which has potent levels of vitamin C which helps with the absorption of nutrients.

The Aurospirul Farm in Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India

We are spirulina converts and have been for a while now, mainly due to the fact that it contains 60% easy to digest complete vegetable protein without the bad fats and cholesterol of meat.  It also contains loads of Vitamin B12, which is a vitamin generally lacking from a vegan/vegetarian diet.  Considering all of this, many people still look at us strangely when we pop the bright green pills (or powders) of a morning, so we thought we’d share some things that we know and get us excited about spirulina.  An ancient source of  brilliant nutrition that we hope will be used much more in the future and is one of the only food ‘supplements’ that we’d whole heartedly recommend.

What exactly is Spirulina?

Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) is a tiny blue-green algae in the shape of a perfect spiral coil.  Biologically speaking, it is one of the oldest inhabitants of planet earth.  Appearing 3.6 billion years ago, it provided an evolutionary bridge between bacteria and green plants.  This water plant has renewed itself for billions of years and has nourished many cultures throughout history, in Africa, in the Middle East and in the Americas.

Spirulina grows naturally in mineral rich alkaline lakes which can be found on every continent, often near volcanoes.  The largest concentration of Spirulina today can be found at Lake Texoco in Mexico, around Lake Chad in Central Africa and along the Great Rift Valley in East Africa.

For many generations, Kanembu women have passed from mother to daughter the traditional methods of harvesting spirulina from Lake Boudou Andja in Chad

“Let your food be your medicine

and your medicine be your food”

Hippocrates 460-370 BC

Spirulina is called a super food because its nutrient content is more potent than any other food.

Many of the essential nutrients needed by the body are concentrated in spirulina.  It is comprised of of at least 60% all vegetable protein, essential vitamins and phytonutrients such as the rare essential fatty acid GLA, sulfolipids, glycolipids and polysaccharides.

Spirulina is a low fat, low cholesterol, low calorie, vegetable protein containing all the essential amino acids that cannot be produced by the body but are needed to synthesize the non-essential amino acids.  Spirulina has no cellulose in its cell walls and is therefore easy to digest and assimilate.

Whats it got in it then?

Natural Beta Carotene (provitamin A)

Spirulina is the richest source of natural beta carotene, ten times more concentrated than in carrots.  Beta carotene is a very important anti-oxidant, some studies show it reducing the risk of cancer.

Gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA)

This rare essential fatty acid in mothers milk helps to develop healthy babies.  GLA is the precursor to the body’s prostaglandins, master hormones that control many functions.

Spirulina is the only know food, other than mother’s milk, to contain concentarted levels of GLA.

The best natural iron supplement

Iron is essential to build a strong system, and yet iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency.  Studies have shown that iron in spirulina is absorbed 60% more efficiently than from iron supplements.

High in Vitamin B-12 and B Complex

Spirulina is the richest source of B12, richer than beef liver.  Because B-12 is the most difficult vitamin to obtain from plant sources, vegetarians have taken to spirulina.  B12 is necessary for the development of red blood cells.

Phytonutrients

The polysaccharides in spirulina are easily absorbed with minimum intervention of insulin.  Phytonutrients provide quick energy without ill effects on the pancreas.

Sulfolipids

In blue green algae can prevent viruses from attaching to cells or pentrating them, thus preventing viral infection; they are ‘remarkably active’ against the AIDS virus, according to the NCL.

Pycocyanin

Is the most important pigment in Spirulina; it has both magnesium and iron in its molecular formation and therefore may be the origin of life, common to both plants and animals.

Chlorophyll

Is known as a cleansing and detoxifying phytonutrient.  Spirulina contains 1% chlorophyll, among the highest levels found in nature and the highest chlorophyll A level.

Cartotenoids

Are a mixed carotenoid complex functioning at different sites in the body and working synergistically to enhance antioxidant protection.

All the pills and funky green potions made by Aurospirul (our favourite Spirulina heroes)

How to use Spirulina?

Spirulina is a perfectly safe natural food which provides quick energy and nourishment.  Spirulina powder can be added to fruit or vegetable juices or to dishes to enhance the nutritional content.  It is tasty in soups, salads, pasta and breads or mixed into yoghurt.

There is no way around it, Spirulina tastes a little like very healthy ponds.  It is an algae after all!  Aurospirul make a crunchy capsule that can be eaten straight up and is actually very pleasant.

Special tip – Make a fresh lemon juice and stir in Spirulina.  The vitamin C in the lemon will help in the absorption of minerals like Iron.  

Do not cook spirulina as this affects its nutritional value.

Dosage – 1-5 grams per day to result in significant health benefits. Take it everyday for best results.  You cannot take too much spirulina, there are no side effects at all.

Spirulina nutritional composition

General Analysis

Protein 60%

Lipids (fats) 5%

Carbohydrates 25%

Minerals (ash) 7%

Moisture 3%

Values per 100g spirulina

Energy 387 kcal

Phycocyanin 1.37g

Total caroteniods 0.19g

Chlorophylls 0.97g

Vitamin B12 16.41ug

Gamma Linolenic Acid 0.02g

Iron 37.73mg

Spirulina grows naturally in alkaline lakes around the world

All info taken from a the lovely people at Aurospirul.  

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Buckwheat Breakfast Crepes with Tofu, Olives and Cherry Tomatoes

Feta, Chive and Olive Breakfast Wraps

Buckwheat Breakfast Crepes with Tofu, Olive and Cherry Tomatoes

Sometimes I do feel sorry for Jane with all my vegan behaviour of late.  Jane loves lumps of cheese and gorgeously fresh eggs (lain below our window ledge!!!!).  We have chickens waking us every morning with a bombardment of clucks!  Add to that many wonderful cheese folk who live in the surrounding valleys and nearby islands making some amazingly pungent creamy mould.  We’ve seen their goats and they seem brimming over with happiness and vitality (goats being a particular BHK fav).  Having said all of this, Jane is now really getting into the whole vegan vibe and I fear she may give up the mozzarella balls very soon!

This recipe is a little Sunday morning surprise that incorporates our favourite grain of the moment, Buckwheat, along with herbs from the garden and tomatoes from a wonderful friend.  What a way to get things started!

Buckwheat is an awesome alternative for gluten free folk and has a proper full flavour, some would say an acquired taste, I’d just say YUM!  It has a misleading name (like many foods) it is actually a berry!  Nothing to do with wheat or gluten in the slightest.  I love to use the flour, although a straight dark buckwheat flour recipe can result in a vivid pink looking loaf.  You have been warned, buckwheat can get a little psychedelic when used pure.

Buckwheat crepes are common in France and are called ‘Galletes’.  These crepes are veganized, so turn out less like a ‘Gallete’ and more like a thin, fluffy American ‘hotcake’ (a word which Jane and I appreciate).  You can find light and dark buckwheat flour in the shops, I’d opt for light, especially if you’re cooking for an uninitiated buckwheat crowd.  I have put white flour in here, but must admit to using wholewheat flour normally (= more nutrition, and I’d have to say taste, but less of the fluffiness associated with a crepe).

We’re still here in shimmeringly shiny Wales, glorious at this time of year.  The bounty of local produce is in full swing.  All of these ingredients are special to us and we cannot think of anything that we have eaten recently that is filled with such goodness and positive energy.

Dawn’s (our neighbour) chicken chorus is a nice way to be wakened, natural sounds certainly beat a car alarm or even worse, an alarm clock (aka the enemy of peace and sanity). You know you’re living the good life if you wake with the chickens and not with the bleeps. The other wonderful thing about Dawn’s chickens is that occasionally they overlay and we are offered a small basket of perfectly formed egg-ness.

One of Dawn's chickers (aka our natural alarm clock)

One of Dawn’s chickers (aka our natural alarm clock)

Dawn’s little chicks are so tame, Jane and I were picking them up and petting them like little puppies the other day. I can safely say that I have never found a chicken ‘cute’ in the past, and am not a huge fan of the word, however these little cluckers where pleasant company and actually liked to be stroked.

Back to the crepe at hand, its a beat. Simple combinations of flavours that are sure fire winners, great colours and the perfect treat breakfast for a lazy Sunday morning or a decent brunch (just add dressed leaves).

The tanginess of the citrus feta (tofu or otherwise), the fruitiness of the olives and the plain deliciousness of the tomatoes mean that each mouthful was quite a thing.

You probably don’t live in a veggie+vegan household, obviously omit the parts of the method that don’t apply.  Its really a very easy dish to get together.

If you’d like this gluten free, just go the whole hog and have it 100% buckwheat.  They’re brilliant!

The Bits

For 10-12 crepes:

Crepe – 2/3 cup buckwheat flour, 1/2 cup unbleached white flour, a good glug of olive oil, large pinch of sea salt, 100g silken tofu, 1 cup organic soya milk, 3/4 teas bicarb soda, water (continue adding water until a ‘double cream’ texture is achieved)

Filling -

Janes (non vegan) – 1/2 tbs olive oil, 3 organic/ very free range, happy chicken eggs (preferably lain somewhere close to your front door), 3/4 cup feta (crumbled using fingers)

Lees (vegan) – 1 tbs olive oil, 300g firm tofu, a little squeeze of lemon juice, 1 teas nutritional yeast flakes (1/2 handful of cashew nuts if you’re feeling decadent!)

Mixed with half of the following:

2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes (halved if large), 2 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed), 1 handful of chives (finely diced), 1 handful green olives (finely chopped), squeeze of lemon juice, plenty of cracked black pepper and a little salt

Pre-wrap

Pre-wrap

Do It

In a large bowl, sieve in the flour and other dry ingredients.  Add the rest of the wetter ingredients, pouring the water in gradually at the end, mixing until a ‘double cream’ consistency is formed.  Cover and pop in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Mash up the tofu in a bowl with a fork, add the lemon juice and yeast flakes (this is best done in advance).  Whisk the eggs up in another.

Mix the filling ingredients in a bowl and add half to each bowl of tofu or egg.

Now warm a frying pan on the hob, medium heat, add the oil and fry off the tofu mixture for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.  Do the same for the egg mix, cook until the eggs are just how you like them.

Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.

Make sure the crepe batter is at room temperature (keep stirring it to ensure that the flour doesn’t clog or stick to the bottom).  In a small frying pan, heat on medium and cover the base with a very light film of oil.  Now pour in 3 tbs of your pancake mix and swirl around the pan.  The temperature of the pan is important (too hot is not cool, too cool is not hot!?)

Cook for 1 minutes on one side, run a spatula around the edges to loosen.  Flip over and cook for 30 seconds – 1 minute on the other side.  Keep this going until all the mix is used.  If there is too much mixture, it will keep in the fridge well and can be frozen for at least a month.

Serve

Lay out a pancake on a plate and spoon in a good amount of the filling (3 tbs is normally good).  Tuck one end over and roll away from you, like a fat buckwheat cigar (rolled on the thighs of a vegan).   Serve straight away, for lunch, toss together a green salad.  Two crepes are normally enough per person.

We had leftover crepes this morning and tried them with chopped oranges raisins, cinnamon and walnuts….lovely stuff.

Foodie Fact 

Buckwheat is a whole grain that is actually a relative of rhubarb and is best described as a fruit seed.  I love Buckwheat because its one of the few grains consumed in Northern Europe that is actually indigenous to the area.

Buckwheat lowers blood sugar and is packed with minerals like magnesium and copper.  It has also been shown to help fight gall stones and has very high levels of antioxidants and a packs a decent hit of fibre.

Last nights sunset

Last nights sunset

Categories: Breakfast, Gluten-free, Local food, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

We’re Back! and India Holiday Snaps

Under the Big Tree - Sivananda Ashram Madurai, 3/14

Under the Big Tree – Sivananda Ashram Madurai, 3/14

We’re back!  In two pieces;  older, wiser and hairier!

North Wales is shining; bee buzzing, flowers swaying, sheep baaaaaa-ing. This is definitetly the home of the B.H.K. Writing the blog from distant shores just seems a little strange, the creative culinary juices just aren’t flowing as deeply as when we’re hanging out up here with the heather.

This blog is such a big part of our life in Wales, so we’re back and ready to get stuck into good mountain living, with some gorgeous nibbles along the way……

There seems far too much water under the bridge to begin to catch up on the last 6 months. I decided to post a few travel pics to get us warmed up and reacquainted again.

I have been busy (even when travelling!) working on another food-related project which I am superbly excited about. More to follow on this soon. (Hopefully that is a decent enough excuse for not posting any news or recipes for a ridiculous length of time.)

Back in the lovely little Beach House, the fire is roaring (in June) and we are both full tilt and ready to get the garden blooming and the hob fully loaded with plenty of wonderful fruit and veggie action and no doubt some pictures of Buster the cat (who came back on our first morning back in the house, it seems we are linked with the little grey furball!).

Jane getting to grips with an onion - Udaipur, 2/14

Jane getting to grips with an onion – Udaipur, 2/14

Very brief catch up of our antics :
– We have been distant for the last 6 months, in Spain and India, spending time in the Himalayas and on a variety of beaches; cooked vegan food on farms, ate papaya straight from the tree, visited many huge desert forts and palaces, lived in huts and buses, hung out with warm tribal folk, learned to count to 10 in Hindi, practiced yoga by the Ganges, woke at 4am to sing songs, realised that there is more to life than chapatis (but not much!), ate our body weight several times over with the complete rainbow spectrum of all things curries, watched endangered rhinos play whilst sitting on a juvenile elephant, celebrated a Gods birthday……….too much. much, much to tell. Here are a few pics (most food related) that tell a better story:

It's Thali time!!!! (South Indian style), Madurai, 3/14

It’s Thali time!!!! (South Indian style), Madurai, 3/14

Tawang Lake, way up in the Himalayas, Arunachal Pradesh, 4/14

Tawang Lake, way up in the Himalayas, Arunachal Pradesh, 4/14

Cooking up a monsoon, Rishikesh, 1/14

Cooking up a monsoon, Rishikesh, 1/14

Survival Travel Breakfast (Papaya and Chia Seeds)

Survival Travel Breakfast (Papaya and Chia Seeds)

Jane, first day, first Bindi, Delhi. 1/14

Jane, first day, first Bindi, Delhi. 1/14

Vadas - some of South India's finest

Vadas – some of South India’s finest

A little taster, a canape of sorts, a wee bite into our last 6 months wandering the world.  We have a massive book full of new recipes to cook and hopefully post.  Its looking like a busy summer!

Love and Peace to all of you out there…..XXXXX

It’s great to be back, Lee and Janexxxxx

Categories: Photography, Travel, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Kala Chana Masala with Beetroot and Bok Choi

Jane on 'The Rock' - Karuna Farm, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu

Jane on ‘The Rock’ – Karuna Farm, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu

Finally, we post something!!!!  We have loads of half finished bits typed hurriedly in internet cafes, but have yet had the time and drive to actually finish one off!  

We’ve been in Indian now for three months and things have been thick with experience and too many foodie experiences to recollect.  Expect many Indian themed post soon, packed full of delicious and authentic recipes……. 

Kodai Kanal, Tamil Nadu 21st March 2014

Kodai is a little ex-British Hill Station (somewhere where the Raj used to go and cool off during the summer months).  Lots of little Anglo Indian stone cottages with lawns and chimneys, tea rooms and a beautiful lake.  We are staying on a farm, on a steep slope, with spectacular views over the plains towards Madurai.  It thick jungle, full nature and absolutely beautiful and best of all, we have a small kitchen to play in!!!!!

A random little post here, but we are half way up a hill in the middle of nowhere (Southern India). This recipe came together on our first night in Karuna Farm, in the green and verdant Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu. We have been sweating and meditating, sweating and yoga-ing, sweating and chanting our way through the early part of March in the Sivananda Ashram, outside Madurai. The temperatures soared, so it is magical to be up here in the mountains where the night air is crisp and the sunrises come on like an intergalactic firework show.

This is a spectacular little farm and we are witnessing many positive projects in motion. They are building earth ships, from recyclable car tyres and starting a permaculture project to supply the on-farm restaurant with some proper local produce.

On Sunday, Jane and I ventured up to Kodai Kanala (the main town). We walked through little villages, with many smiles greeting us, for 2 hours and then managed to catch a little rickety van the rest of the way to town (we’re quite remote here!).

Kodai is an old British hill station, with many rock built chalets and a large dollop of Christianity. It is now a popular retreat for Indian honeymooners and surprisingly few gringos on the streets.

Haggling at Kodai Market

Haggling at Kodai Market

Sunday is market day and we spent most of it wandering around and ogling the local produce. Non of it organic, but all of it vibrant and full of potential. Our accommodation, a nice little cottage in a banana plantation, actually has a kitchen!  The first time we’ve been able to cook, apart from random cooking classes and making spicy tea with the chai wallas.  I was so chuffed to be having a bash at the pots and pans again.  We filled our backpacks with veggies and fruits and have not looked back since.

Internet in India is tough and I must apologise for the lack of BHK activity in recent times. We have heads full of recipes and new ways of conjuring up tasty nibbles.  We can’t wait to share them with you all from HQ (North Wales, which seems like a million and one miles away).

WHAT IS KALA CHANA?

Kala Chana (also Desi Chana or Bengal Gram) are brown chickpeas, unprocessed and packed with fibre.   ‘Kala’ actually means black in Hindi and Urdu.  They have more of a robust texture than your average chicker.  This type of chana has been enjoyed all over the world for millenia, from ancient Rome, Persia and Greece, to Africa and Latin America.  It has been used in British cooking since the middle ages.

Chana is so versatile to a veggie cook, we can boil them, sprout them, roast them in the oven, make them into magic puree’s (like hummus) or even make desserts with them.

We love this rough chana, especially in a dish with full flavoured veggies like cabbage and beetroot. A lovely old lady was selling these bok chois, we couldn’t resist them. I have never seen them cooked in India, but you wouldn’t expect us to be traditional now would you??!!

This is a highly spiced dish, similar to chana masala in many ways. The spices are warming including cinnamon and cloves, making it very much north Indian fare. In the South we have been eating mainly coconuts and white rice, the staple down here. Generally lightly spiced bu heavy on the dried chilli.

This dish, served with a massive salad, made a wonderful change and we actually cooked it ourselves! I have to say our bellies have not felt this good in the 2 month India adventure.

Jane washing up sporting socks and sandals, our new look

Jane washing up sporting socks and sandals, our new look

Grating the veggies for the sauce (called a masala over here) gives the overall dish a smoother texture and helps to thicken things up. Of course, grating things unlocks the flavours of the veggies and means you don’t need to cook them for so long to get maximum flavour.

I will be volunteering on an organic farm and cooking in a vegan kitchen soon, settling down a little. I imagine they will have internet and should catch up a little with the backlog of recipes and posts that have accumulated on my little computer gadget. There are some crackers!
Namaste and Much Love,

Lee and JaneXXXXXXX

The Bits – For 2
2 tbs coconut oil (or cooking oil)
1 large beetroot (scrubbed and diced)
6 large leaves bok choi (plus their fleshly stumps, chopped)
1 large carrot (scrubbed and grated)
1 small potato (scrubbed and diced)
1 big handful cabbage (grated)

Masala
1 onion (peeled and grated)
4-5 cloves garlic (peeled and grated)
1 ½ inch ginger (peeled and grated)
3 tomatoes (grated, skins discarded)
2 teas garam masala (or spice mix of your choice)
6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tea cumin seeds
1 teas black mustard seeds
2 tbs curry leaves
½ teas chilli powder
½ teas sea salt
½ teas black pepper

¾ cup chana daal (soaked overnight)

Brown Chana Masala with  Beetroot and Bok Choi

Brown Chana Masala with Beetroot and Bok Choi

Do It
Drain your chickpeas and rinse. Place in a small saucepan and cover with 3 inches of water, bring to a boil and simmer with a lid on for 1 hour (or until nicely tender).

Whilst they’re cooking, get your masala ready. In a frying pan, warm 1 tbs of oil, add the cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon stick fry for a 30 seconds then add the onions. Fry all on a med high heat for 5 minutes, until golden.

Add the garlic, ginger and beetroot, fry for 3 minutes, then add the carrots and cabbage. Stir well and warm through. Cook for 5 minutes and add the garam masala, chilli powder and tomato. Bring to a boil and cover. After 10 minutes cooking on a steady simmer, add 100ml water and stir, then recover. Cooking for another 10 minutes. The sauce should be nice and thick.

Now add the masala to the chickpea pan, there should be some liquid left in the pan. Stir in and thin out the sauce with more water if needed. Check seasoning, adding salt and pepper. Be heavy on the pepper, chana masala loves pepper!

In a small frying pan, warm 1 tbs oil and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves on medium heat. Let the splutter for 30 seconds and remove pan from the heat.

Once the chickpeas are warm through, stir in the seasoned oil and serve.

No lights in our cabin, but candles are better anyway.

No lights in our cabin, but candles are better anyway.

Serve
In these parts we’d be having rice and rice (with a side helping of rice!)  but tonight, in our own little cottage, we’re having one of Jane’s bonza raw salads; with grated beetroot, kohlrabi, peanuts, beetroot leaves, carrot, coriander and lots more market fresh bits (when Jane does a salad, the entire veg basket is used!)

Sunrise outside the kitchen window

Sunrise outside the kitchen window

Foodie Fact
Kala Chana is very high in dietary fibre, one big bowlful of this curry with give women almost half of their daily intake of fibre (men a little less than that).  These brown garbanzos are also high in protein and rich in minerals like iron, copper and manganese.

Kala Chana is one of the earliest cultivated legumes, remains have been discovered dating back 7500 years!  India is by far the biggest producer of chana in the world, Australia is the second, which I find surprising.

 

Categories: Curries, Dinner, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Vegan-ity hits the UK!

I’m not a massive newspaper reader, but whilst visiting my sisters gaff in Whistable for some festive frivolity, I chanced upon a well known British broadsheet and dove in.  Surprisingly unearthing two separate articles about veganism, prompting me to believe the hype; vegan-ity is really hitting this little island cluster.

It’s been in the pipe line for a while, but now the celebs are on board and we all know what  that means…….  The first vegan supermarket is opening in 2015 and generally the tofu tide is shifting.  People are eating more plants which can only be a good thing.  I even learnt that Mike Tyson is a vegan, primarily due to the fact that Roman Gladiators ate a vegan diet.  Ferocious and animal friendly makes for an interesting combination.

Veganism is more than a passing dietary trend and I like to see it as a new type of food experience, like the recent trends for Southern Mediterranean cuisine or the rise of Peruvian nibbles, vegan food is just another wonderful way of treating food.  It doesn’t have to be drastic, pedantic or serious; it is fun, naturally healthy and easy to prepare and source.  Most people already eat alot of vegan food and don’t even know it!  Being a vegan normally means that you care about the welfare of animals, your personal health and that of the environment, but it can also just mean very interesting food prepared in creative ways.

Vegans make up less than 1% of the British population, but most folk are realising the benefits that vegan food can bring to any diet and going ‘plant-based’ for a meal/ day or week, can have a massive effect on health and well being.  It is surely the ultimate low bad fat/ cholesterol diet.

I’m thinking about starting a tofu helpline, aimed at spreading the good word of curd and offering survival tips to first time tofu tamperers (in a word, MADINADE, the rest is easy, quick and delicious).  This may ease the integration slightly.

Veganism has been around since 1944, or the moniker has at least.  The movement was started by a chap named Donald Watson who set up the British Vegan Society.  Only recently has the name be officially recognised.  Vegan-ity now has legal status in the UK.  Its taking root and establishing credibility.

Vegans no longer necessarily worship mung beans and wear scratchy kaftan’s as standard (although that is very cool by me!!!).  I hope Veganism is shedding these dodgy, out dated, misconceptions; with more focus being placed on the benefits of the diet and the glorious flavour’s of the food.  Badly cooked vegan food, prepared without passion or knowledge is just like any other badly cooked food, prepared without passion or knowledge.  Pants!  Once the good word of V spreads, the general standards will improve, just like vegetarianism in recent times.   Great food is simply great food; even minus a chunk of meat, or a poached egg on top.

Tastes change and veganism uses flavours and textures in new and inspirational ways.  Proper cooks love a new challenge and I imagine veganism as that new challenge.  I see vegan food as something vital and fresh, ever changing and evolving.  Food for us all to enjoy.

We are just about to leave for our Delhi bound flight, wishing you all a brilliant start to the new yearX  The Beach House Kitchen is on the road until April…..expect a few holiday snaps soonX

Categories: Healthy Eating, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Chard, Coriander and Avocado Smoothie

P1000667

Quite a mad sounding smoothie, but we can’t get enough of it at the moment. It’s more of a breakfast pudding than a smoothie. You can drink it, but a spoon is probably the safer bet.

What we haven’t mentioned yet is that this smoothie is sweetened with banana, so its not all funky vegetal flavour, but actually well balanced and thick like beautiful green custard.

We experiment with all sorts of things in the blender and they normally work.  Kale is fine, some cabbages are hard to take (especially when sweetness is involved in the mix), asparagus is fine and spinach is a real hero, melding into all sorts of flavour combos.  Soaked nuts add dramatic richness, different milks are fun to play with and really anything that needs using up from the veg basket/ drawer can be smoothed out into something lovely and superbly nutritious.  It’s floppy leaf territory.

Recently we juiced a parsnip with excellent results.  Next up swede (rudabaga), which could prove quite a challenge.  Turnip juice sounds fresh and sweet……

I think  my body likes me even more when I give it a smoothie first thing, I can feel it smiling and appreciating the pureed magnificence.

Jane on a beach walk, near Bolunuevo, Mazzaron, Spain

Jane on a beach walk, near Bolunuevo, Mazzaron, Spain

The Bits – For 2

1 avocado (de-stoned), 1 bananas, glug of rice/ soya milk, 3 chard leaves (stems kept for a stir fry), handful coriander leaves (stems in or out)

Do It

Place all in a blender and blitz into a very thick smoothie.

Hands off!!!!!!!

Hands off!!!!!!!

Serve

We love it with a splash of milk on top, like a green pint of guiness, you can then mix the ‘head’ in with a spoon.  It also looks very cool (the importance of which is never underestimated in the BHK).

We Love It!

Thick and green, two things we always appreciate, add sweet to the mix and sold.

Foodie Fact

Coriander (or cilantro) hails from the Mediterranean and like all green things boasts an almost ridiculous amount of antioxidants.  It helps fight ‘bad cholesterols’ and has a brilliant range of vitamins.  Coriander  has one of natures highest levels of Vitamin K which helps us in so many ways, mainly assisting the bones in growth and repair.

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Smoothies | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Simple Chickpea and Pumpkin Stew

Simple Chickpea Stew

Simple Chickpea Stew

In the Beach house we love simple cooking with a smile and this stew definitely makes us beam a bit.  We’ve just landed in Spain after a mental few weeks in the UK for a variety of reasons that we’d prefer not to bore you with.  I am super busy on a food based project that I will no doubt tell you about soon, but until then, the posts are going to be few and far between as I type my little fingers to the bone.

Some of you may have read about our winter retreat last year, near the sleepy port town of Mazzaron, up near the hills (you will no doubt be unsurprised to hear).  It’s a real country area and the Med sparkles from our terrace every morning and each night sky is filled with incredible maps of stars.  All that sun means there are some amazing veggies for sale here in the markets and we have loved having a dabble and a haggle!  We pick up ridiculous bargains and then get home and wonder what on earth we are going to do with it all…!  We only have a little kitchen and the Beach House Kitchen (Part II) is slightly underequipped compared to the gleaming ‘Mark 1’.

Our favourite new bit of equipment is a wooden handled knife that we picked up off a flamenco-loving-gypsy-with-a-mullet for a euro.  It seems to be impervious to bluntness.  The Excalibur of onion chopping and potato peeling.  It is worth mentioning that we buy lettuce and tomatoes from this fellow’s Mum, who normally wears a pink dressing gown and a has a cigarette hanging from her mouth.  The dressing gown is held together by a piece of frayed string and is probably one of the most fashionable statements on display, come market day, in little Puerto Mazarron.  We love that market, but this week it was called off due to adverse weather conditions.  It rained a little and was a little blowy!  We wouldn’t get much done in Wales with these kind of restrictions.

We have just spent a busy week with my Mum doing plenty of café and bar hopping and taking in a few ancient looking little towns along the way.  Unfortunately every time we’ve got the camera out, at least one of us has been stuffing our face with tapas, so we are short of pleasant pictures of us lounging around the place.  I’m sure you can imagine the scene we enough and I hope we are not rubbing in our good fortune to be here.  To balance things out, I have had my normal restaurant experience in Spain, which go a little something like this:

Step 1)  I apologise profusely for being a vegetarian, smile through the imminent baffled glare and disdain, then fully expect the worst…..

Step 2)  I am faced with a decision to eat around fish and or meat or go hungry.

Step 3) The next course arrives and I revert to Step 2

Step 4) I eat fruit for dessert

P1000526

Vibrant veggies in the mix

Having said that, the wine is good and cheap and this carries me through each disappointing dining experience.  You’ve got to love the people here though – a brilliant bunch of rogues, fishermen and characters.  Veganism or Vegetarianism has not reached these parts, but when it does, it will be repelled with sharp sticks and incredulous words.  NO HAM!  What are you, insane!!!!!  I love them all, even if they think I am from the planet Parsnip.

NB Casa Monika’s in Puert0 Mazzaron is not included in this generalization, as one of the LOVELY owners Jose is Vegetarian, and the food rocks. Thank you.

So……we keep things even simpler in Spain and this was a stew we had for dinner last night and thought you guys would love.  The chickpeas here are little works of art, after soaking they swell up like small plums and the spices are very, very potent.  The smoked paprika almost takes your breath away and the cumin we can still smell even when its sealed in a jar in a cupboard (at first Jane thought I had some strange musty body odour thing going on).

We use a lot of vegetables here, making full use of our mammoth stash, but you can really pick and choose what ever is handy.  The classic combination of warming spices and chickpeas will lend itself to almost any vegetable.  As you can see, I like to sweeten it a little with dates, it seems in-keeping with the style of the dish.  You can always omit the sweetener, or use some honey or brown sugar.  Another idea we have been playing with recently to good effect is adding a little soya milk to stews and soups; it is surprisingly creamy and changes the texture.  You may like to throw a cup of soya milk in here and see how it goes (it will go well!!!!) Jane did it by mistake the other day confusing the carton of stock with Soya milk in a pea and mint soup… it was a lucky accident (the less said about her vegetable stock-on-muesli accident the better though)!

The coriander and glug of olive oil at the end sets this dish apart, as with so many stews and soups, that little finishing touch makes all of the difference.  Golden olive oil warmed on a stew is something almost to gorgeous to describe in feeble words.  I am sure Jane would say ‘It’s ace!’ and I would certainly agree.

I’d love to think that we’ll be posting again soon and we’ll be drinking G and T’s on the terrace on your behalf!  It’s a Beach House life, what can we say!!!!!

Lovely salad accompaniment

Lovely salad accompaniment

The Bits – For 4-6

1 inch and a half square ginger (grated), 3 garlic cloves (peeled and grated), ½ tsp cinnamon,1 tsp ground oriander, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1tsp ground cumin

2 tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato puree (depending on how good your tomatoes are), 1 carrot (finely diced), handful of cabbage leaves (or other greens), 1 onion (finely sliced), 1 cup of pumpkin (medium sized cubes), 1 small courgette (same size as pumpkin), 2 handfuls of spinach leaves.

3 cups of chickpeas (with cooking juices), 4 fresh dates (finely chopped), 1 cup vegetable stock, sea salt and pepper (to taste)

Fresh coriander leaves and stalks (for topping)

Do It

Soak the chickpeas overnight and cook them in fresh water for roughly 45mins- 1 hour  (add 1 teas of bicarb of soda to speed up the cooking process).

In a hot pan, brown the onions for 3-4 minutes. Then add the fresh ginger, garlic, pumpkin, carrot and courgette. Fry them off for 5 minutes.

Now add the cabbage leaves, cumin, sweet paprika, ground coriander, cinnamon, and chopped fresh tomatoes (with the tomato puree if you’re using it). Time for the chickpeas with their juice from their cooking and a good old stir.

Add one cup stock if needed (if you haven’t got enough chickpea juice). Bring to the boil and cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the carrots are nice and tender.

Sprinkle in spinach leaves cover and turn off heat.  Leave for 5 minutes and give a final stir and serve.

Even more salad reinforcements (we eat alot of salad in Spain!)

Even more salad reinforcements (we eat alot of salad in Spain!)

We Love It

This is our every day nosh, full of veggies and goodness.  This is the type of winter fuel that sparks us into life! We worship the tasty spicy-ness of this dish.

Foodie Fact

Chickpeas are super high in fibre and are renowned for their ‘filling’ properties.  Eat a few, feel full, don’t snack on all those beetroot crisps you’ve got locked away in the cupboards.  Chickpeas have been shown to help stabilise insulin and blood sugar, they are also awesome for your digestion and colon.  Lovely little chickers!!!!!

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Goodbye Buster (The Worlds Coolest Cat) and Big Hello from Spain!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Buster (aka, Buzzy, Buzz-man, Buzzeroonie, Buzz face, Raja, Buzzer, Buzzoid, Buzzeroo, Busty, Little Tiger………and other pet names) has left the building. He is the most wonderful little guy, but we are now in Puerto Mazzaron, Spain and soon to be in India for an extended period and we couldn’t find a way of keeping him close.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We managed to find a brilliant home for the Buzzman in the next valley, real animal lovers.  The first night he went to his new home, he made his way back over the mountains at night and turned up at the back door, a little peckish.  He must have used the stars as a map to make his way across the streams and hills, its around 5 miles away.  What a little grey star he is!

Just looking at our recent lack of posts makes us very ashamed of our behaviour. We miss the posts but have been busy with other exciting projects, more about these very soon…….  We have been cooking shiny food all the time and have a huge backlog of photographs and recipes to post, we just need a little time and internet access (which always helps!)

Much Love from us and have a magical festive timeXXXXXX

 

Categories: 'The Good Life' | Tags: , , , , ,

Autumn Photo Scrapbook – Garden, Flowers and Buster

P1000072

On the funghi hunt, lost and wandering up the Nantlle Valley, we’ve had magic weather even in October.

P1000110

Pleasant views abound – from the Nantlle Ridge (behind our back garden)

P1000173

The man with a sock on his head – harvesting our potato crop. Smaller potatoes this year but more of them.

P1220654

Busters fancies a hike too……lovely little punk!

P1220451

A small tree in our garden suddenly started to sprout apples. It’s an apple tree!!!!! Wahee. Lucky us, this is part of the windfall apple bonanza.

P1220521

We’ve had so much sun this year even the sunflowers had a growth spurt.

P1220517

Part of our winter preparations, HEAT! Scavenged logs meet Mr Chainsaw = cosy nights by the fire. Time consuming, but free.

P1220532

We’ve had some gorgeous beetroots this year, three varities and all of them awesome and sweet.

Our local waterfall where we sit sometimes and watch water fall.

Our local waterfall where we sit sometimes and watch water fall.  Then POW tofu inspiration strikes!

P1220445

A Great Beach House Bake Off!

P1220276

Love CoconutsX

P1000268

Your Gracious HostsXXXXXXXXX  At Jane’s parents gaff

So the clocks have changed and we’re plunged into darkness for another year, still, plenty of swedes and parsnips to look forward to.

HAPPY WINTER EVERYONEXXXXXXXX

Categories: 'The Good Life', Photography, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Sage Nutri Juicer – Juicer Extraordinaire! A BHK Product Review

Sage Nutri Juicer

Sage Nutri Juicer

We have the distinct pleasure of giving a Sage Nutri Juicer a new home.  As regular BHK readers will know, Jane and I are partial to a morning juice.  Actually, without it we feel a little under nourished and lack the incredible zing! that a fresh juice gives you in your waking hours.  We had researched juicers and made up a shortlist, Sage where somewhere close to the top and definitely offer awesome value for money.  So when one arrived on our doorstep, delivered by the juice crane we presume, we unpacked it with joy and then things got really juicy!

Juicing is so very good for us its almost outrageous.  We find that a glass of good juice in the morning sates us until lunchtime at least.  We also feel cleansed and energised by the whole process.  Most fruit and vegetables can be juiced to good effect and this means that juicing is seasonal.  We find that broccoli for example makes a wonderful juice and the stalk even tastes a little like egg (which is more appetising than it may sound!).  We are also experimenting with recipes to utilise the pulp, normally discarded in the juicing process.  Nothing is wasted!

You cannot beat a fresh juice, preferably with organic fruit and veg when possible.  Please do not be fooled by processed juices or even worse, juices from concentrate.  Many of these popular juice brands are just vehicles for added sugar to enter your diet and we don’t need any more of that.  Fresh juices can also be high in sugar and it is worth balancing high sugar fruits and veg with lower sugar varieties, greens are a perfect example of this and bursting with nutrients and flavour.  They also make your juice look very cool indeed.

One more word on juicing and we’ll get on with our review.  Juices can be high in acid, that may, over a period of time, damage teeth.  Its worth bearing in mind.  Maybe brush your teeth after your morning juice (using non-flouride toothpaste por favor).

Our last juicer died in a dramatic flaming fashion, possibly due to one too many beetroots!  We think it was a little under powered and couldn’t really handle the hard stuff, root veg and all.  The Sage has no problems on this front, when you start it up, it sounds like an out-board motor and the high setting (there are two settings, high and low) cuts through hard vegetables like carrots like a knife through cashew butter.  We are also very impressed with the amount of juice extracted, the pulp is very dry and even on high setting (think helicopter taking off on your work surface!) the extraction of juice is brilliant.

The Nutri Juicer is easy to assemble and take apart and relatively simple to wash up (the bug bear of many a non-committal juicer).  The actual juice basket is as sharp as you’d imagine (like an uber grater), so taking care when washing it is important.  Sage have provided a great little scrubbing brush for this purpose. There are a few parts that come apart with ease and fit together with the help of a reassuring metal fitting.  It has a very solid feel when in use and is well balanced, no leaning or buzzing off around the work surface like some other juicers.  The discarded pulp flies out of the juicer into a purpose built bucket, which when lined with a compostible bag, makes for very easy disposal in the compost bin, no scraping or blocked sinks here.

The juicer basket and pulp bucket

The juicer basket and pulp bucket

The Nutri Juicer comes equipped with its own jug, which even acts as a measuring jug for the pedantic juicer or doubles up around the kitchen when baking etc.  As mentioned, the Sage is a powerful little contraption and this means that the juice comes out at a rate of knots, so the lid and rubber pouring spout are a must.  There is nothing worse that walls covered with fine drops of beetroot juice!  This power also means that the juice gets nicely whipped up and when extracted into the jug has a decent head on it.  We like to swill this around and combine it with the juice, but if you leave the lid on when pouring the juice, it will separate the froth from the liquid.

A large chute on a juicer is essential and the circular chute on this machine is perfect.  We have not found an apple that will not fit in there whole.  This juicer will take care of whole apples without breaking sweat.  Even if you are having a particularly hectic juice morning and the Sage overheats, it has a safety device which means that it will cut off and can then be used after 15 minutes of cooling down.

Mid juice - see the handy little rubber spout and cosy fitting jug.

Mid juice – see the handy little rubber spout and cosy fitting jug.

This Sage is a centrifugal juicer and we had originally thought about a masticating juicer, which is alot slower and really squeezes the life force out of things (which we then drink!)  They are generally more costly and there are only a handful of companies who make them, most based in the U.S.  This means added shipping miles and cost to the equation.  In the future, we’d love to try and ‘masticator’ but have been pleasantly surprised by the Nutri Juicer performance.  One criticism of a centrifugal juicer is that it heats the juice and kills some of the enzymes and goodness, but Sage have got around that with some very clever design.

The Nutri Juicer is a real looker, with a shiny metallic finish and simple design, it sits nicely on the kitchen surface.  Heston Blumenthal is involved with these guys and he seems to be a man who knows his way around a quality gadget.  The Sage juicers were also used in the documentary ‘Sick, Fat and Nearly Dead’, I haven’t seen it, but people in a bad way use juice to help them get fit and healthy.  I can see why they chose Sage, it is a well-priced juicer with brilliant overall performance.

Sage Nutri Juicer - Quite a looker!

Sage Nutri Juicer – Quite a looker!

For reference, we have a BJE410UK.

Juice, glorious juice.

Juice, glorious juice.

Beetroot, Apple, Ginger and Lemon Juice

Makes 2 glasses of purple morning sunshine

1 large beetroot, 3 carrots, 4 small apples, 2 inch cube of fresh ginger, 1/2 lemon (juice only)

Scrub your veggies, do not peel.  Cut the very ends off your veggies, they can get stuck in the juicer.  Ensure no soil or woody stems get into the juicer.

Get your juicer up to speed, higher setting is best as these are quite hard veggies.

Add ginger, beetroot, carrots and apple in that order.  Most flavourful and colourful to least seems to extract more flavour and colour.  Makes sense!

Squeeze your lemon juice separate and stir in at the end.

Ready to juice

Ready to juice

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Detox, Juices | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A 10 Minute Meal – Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth with Red Pepper and Brussels Sprout

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth - On the hob

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth – Bubblin’ away

Here we have a delicious 10 minute meal.  5 minutes chopping, 5 minutes cooking and it won’t last long in the bowl either.  So simple, yet tastes so amazing and dare I say it, complex.  You have to love that!

Nothing says British winter more than a bowl of Soba Noodle Broth….or is that just me!  I love a noodle broth anytime of the year and this one is wonder, putting the years first brussels sprout to good use.  I could eat this by the bucket full, bowls just aren’t big enough.

The first winter chills are definitely visiting the Snowdonia hills at the moment, the winds blows a gale and we’ve kissed goodbye to what was a lovely summer of warmth and light nights.  Sitting in the garden at 10pm in the sun is surely a thing all Britons cherish.

The Beautiful Nantlle Valley - just behind the Beach House Kitchen

A view from the beautiful Nantlle Valley – just behind the Beach House Kitchen, where we walk when not eating like Tokyo-ites

As are brussels sprouts.  They’re like little cabbage hand grenades and add a punch to all they grace, we love ‘em! So, so, so very wasted on your average Sunday Roast (traditional British Sunday Lunch containing roast meats and unfortunately over cooked vegetables), boiled to death and flaccid. A quick blanch in this broth and they are a revelation of crunchy texture and potent flavour.

This is an ‘Asian’ broth, which I know covers a large chunk of global cuisine.  Its a hybrid of flavours that meld and work.  Some Japanese, some Chinese, but all super tasty.

In the Beach House we condone slurping in all its forms.  Food should be eaten with gusto and vigour, slurping is an essential part of the noodle broth experience.  We like to attack a bowl of noodle broth armed with a large spoon and some chopsticks, on occasion we resemble koi carp, such is our commitment to the cause.  Jane is a particularly good slurper, we put it down to being raised with a koi carp named bonehead.  Bonehead still lives with Jane’s Mum and Dad and is a big fish in a small pond.  He can also be stroked like a dog.

Jane, is that you?!  Koi carp – like jaws in a pond

This type of broth is best served piping hot, with all ingredients cooked for the minimum length of time.  Freshness and crunch is imperative.  The gulping and slurping actually helps the noodles cool down on the way to the mouth.  At least that’s our excuse!  It also happens to be alot of fun.

We’ve added plenty of colour here, essential in these gradually greying months, by using the last of the years red peppers and some brazen red cabbage. This broth is also nice and warming, fresh ginger and Chinese five spice take care of this.  For even more of a restorative slurp, I added some wasabi to mine which really got my juices flowing.

SOBA NOODLES

Soba noodles are always a highlight, soba meaning ‘buckwheat’ in Japanese, the noodle choice of most Tokyo-ites.  Traditionally in Japan buckwheat can be harvested four times a year, a wonder crop for sure.

Soba Noodles have a lovely bite to them, a hearty noodle ideal for my rapidly diminishing wheat intake as they are made with a large amount of buckwheat (not a wheat even though it is called a wheat!?) This means less gluten all around. For some bizarre reason, soba noodles are normally a tad more expensive than your average joe noodle, but they’re well worth the extra pennies.

Soba Noodles

We use tamari because we prefer the flavour, it contains no wheat and is always made to a certain standard. Meaning no strangeness and dodgy health issues with the soya used.

There are alot of ingredients in the broth here, really, some good stock, ginger and a splash of tamari will suffice, the other ingredients just make it extra special. Most of them can be found in any decent Chinese-style food store.

As can the Hazelnut Tofu.  It’s basically tofu mixed with hazelnuts, and a few toasted sesame seeds, pressed back together.  It is delicious and has plenty of flavour, unlike normal tofu.  It seems to be springing up in some supermarkets, but as with most of these niche veggie/ vegan bits, a health food shop is your best bet.

Makes two massive bowlfuls (or four medium sized):

The Bits
300g soba noodles, 125g hazelnut tofu (chopped into little cubes), 1/4 red cabbage (finely shredded), 1 red pepper (finely chopped), 6 brussel sprouts (finely sliced lengthways)

For the broth – 1 inch fresh ginger (minced), 2 teas chinkiang vinegar (balsamic will do), 2 tbs tamari (soya sauce is a close sub), 1 tbs rice wine (or dry sherry), 1 tbs good stock powder (or fresh if you are brilliant) – to taste, 1/2 teas Chinese five spice, 1.5 ltr boiling water

Taste the stock, make it right for you.

Wasabi stirred in to taste (if you like things spicy)

Topping – 2 spring onions (finely sliced)

Do It

Boil a kettle with enough water.

Chop your vegetables thinly.

Add boiled water to a large, warm sauce pan and get a steady boil going.  Bubblin’.

Add all of your stock ingredients in no particular order, give it a stir (no stock powder lumps, they are the enemy).

Now add your cabbage, brussels sprout and peppers, boil for two minutes, then add your tofu and noodles, simmer for a further two-three minutes and prepare to serve.

By the time you’ve got bowls and ladles and all that jazz together, your noodles should be cooked nicely.  Overcooking soba noodles is a huge sin.

Serve
Piping hot and topped with a handful of sliced spring onions.  If you have a small flask of warm sake available, well done!  Have extra tamari, wasabi and vinegar on the table so people can play with the flavouring or their stock.

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth with Red Pepper and Brussel Sprouts

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth with Red Pepper and Brussel Sprouts – Camera in one hand, large spoon in another…….

We Love It!

Soul slurping of the highest order and buckwheat noodles to boot.  Lucky us.  So quick and satisfying, we could eat this for dinner every night!  A soulful soup of the highest order.

Foodie Fact

Buckwheat is high in Thiamine and soba noodles were regularly eaten by wealthy  Japanese folk to balance their large intake of white rice (very low thaimine) thus avoiding what was called ‘beri beri’.

As we all know by now, buckwheat is a relative of rhubarb!  A berry and not a grain, a wonderful gluten-free substitute.  Buckwheat is full of flavanoids which are very good for the cardiovascular system.  In fact, some folk say  that buckwheat is better for you than any fruit or vegetable.  Quite a claim!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Gertrude’s Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

Gertrude's Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

Gertrude’s Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

A quick one here that goes out to the Tasmania crew, Fran and Steve of The Road to Serendipity fame.  Fran has requested Gertrude’s (Jane’s Nan) recipe ever since seeing it on a previous post.  Well Fran, here it is, better late than later.  Soz…….

Just to rave about Fran and Steve for a moment, their blog is a massive slice of living off grid (with two cool dogs Bezial and the mighty Earl and bags of awesome looking food, nature, ideas, good livin’, love and plenty of peaceful vibrations).  They really are shining examples of living close to nature and Tasmania looks incredibly beautiful judging by their photos.  There can be few more dedicated and prolific bloggers than our Fran and we always appreciate her enthused feedback.  It is people like Fran who keep this little old blog rocking!  Cheers guys for your constant stream of inspiration and kindness.  You make the blog world a brighter place to be.

This recipe is taken from a scrap of paper written by Gertrude, who is no longer with us.  Gertrude lived to the ripe old age of 96 and dictated this recipe as Jane made it and Keith (Jane’s Dad) scribbled it all down word for word, quaint little sayings and all.  Goodness knows how many times this cake was made, Jane was brought up on it.  All of this means that this is a recipe we hold very dear and even closer to our hearts.  It also makes a lovely light chocolate cake and is ever so easy to make.

This will make one small sandwich cake, double the mix for a big ‘un.

The Bits

4oz margarine (good stuff), 4oz caster sugar, 1/2 teas vanilla essence, 2 eggs (beaten), 4 oz self raising flour (sieved), 1 heaped tbs cocoa (sieved), pinch salt, 1 teas milk (if needed)

Do It

Preheat oven to 190oC (360F)

In a mixing bowl, paste the margarine and caster sugar together with a wooden spoon.

Slowly add the eggs to the paste, stirring nicely.

Gently add the the flour and cocoa, fold into mix.

Add salt and milk if mixture is too dry, should be thick batter texture (that plops off a spoon).

Pour into two small round baking tins (6 inch) with marg rubbed on sides and bottom.  Use baking parchment if you don’t trust the non-stickness of your tin.

Clean out bowl with finger, give to Jane.

Get Nan to smooth it over.

Slam tins on table twice each.

Place in oven, 2/3 the way up.

Check in 1/4 hour with a wooden chopstick or skewer.  It should be clean when retracted.

Serve

We filled our with a fine dark cherry jam and grated dark chocolate on top. Although I hear Gertrude was quite partial to a little butter icing.

We Love It!

‘Cause Gertrude made it.

Foodie Fact

Eating cake makes you happy.

 

Categories: Baking, Budget, Cakes, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Giant Stuffed Courgettes with a Herb Camarague Rice, Sweetcorn and Walnuts (Vegan)

Ready for a final roast

Ready for a final roast

In the time of harvest bounty my mind naturally turns to stuffing!  I have no idea why, there are so many massive vegetables everywhere that it seems like the logical thing to do, they look so cool served whole and are far, far more interesting when stuffed with something uber delicious like fresh sweetcorn, toasted walnuts and some nutty red rice.

Most cultures love a good stuffing, I read recently that in the Middle East they actually have machines to carve holes in carrots etc, you can buy pre-hollowed vegetables at the market in bags.  Now that’s spoiling all the fun (or is it?!)  I am not very good with DIY, the thought of getting the Black and Decker out to carve a carrot sets alarm bells ringing.   Do I love stuffing that much?

Everything is going a very courgette at the moment!  They are everywhere and this is a fine way to use up the wonder glut of this delicate immature fruit.  This particular beast is of the golden/ yellow variety and was over a foot long.  (This post was written a month ago when courgettes were really hanging out there, now they have finished their shenanigans for another year.  Mores the pity.  Bring on the roots!)  

In fact, the best thing that can happened to a courgette is a good stuffing. Its not every vegetable you can say that about, but a courgette is at it finest full of filling other than its own, it has to be said, watery, slightly mushy interior. Here we have replaced it with red camarague rice, walnuts, sweetcorn and many other forms of ultra deliciousness.  A stuffing to be proud of!

Mighty Golden Courgette Towers

Mighty Golden Courgette Towers

I also like to cut courgettes thin length ways and salt them for a while, then use them as a base for an endless number of bakes and gratins.  You can pack alot of courgettes into one of these dishes and the dense nature of a well baked gratin is a wonderful way to serve this normally gentle and light veg.  Having said that, simply fried with garlic and olive oil, there’s another real winner.

Courgettes are allegedly easy to cultivate, but we don’t get the heat up here on the hill.  We also get wind, which tends to knock them down.  We get ours from Trigonos, a small organic farm and retreat centre just over the hill in the next valley, Nantlle.  I am very lucky to work there at the moment and play with all the produce from the fertile land near the lake.  See here, its a magic place,

Jane is going away a lot recently (attending many interesting workshops) and we are making the very most of our short times together.  Today has been a rare early autumnal day, fresh this morning, warm in the day and a beautiful sunset, the perfect day for al fresco dining with some bubbles and twilight all around.

We sat on our bench near the stone circle and wolfed these delicious courgette treats with lashings of Russian chard and beetroot leaves.  It is that wonderful time of year when everything seems to be coming out to play (on the plate) and we are inundated with beautiful produce.  The only problem is, what to do with it all? Our veg basket is brimming over and the freezer is filling nicely, anybody fancy coming over for dinner?  We feel like gluttons, but are still smiling.

One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is berry picking.  How cool is that!  All these free berries sprouting from hedgerows and footpaths.  Leave the berries near railways alone, they use a weed killer-type train to kill all the plants around the railways meaning these berries will be contaminated.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news (again!)

The elderberries on our hill are nearly ready and we fancy making some wine this time around, I have a recipe up my sleeve.  The thought of homemade elderberry wine makes us both whoop, and we haven’t even drank any yet!

Camarague Rice filling on the hob

Camarague Rice filling on the hob

I have chopped this big boy up, but you could just half it lengthways and add the filling.  This dish is like a vegetarian roast turkey, quite a centre piece for any table.  We have kept it vegan here, but cheese added to the mix or sprinkled on just before the final roast would be a magical addition, a cheese with a bit of punch to stand up to the big flavours, a mature cheddar or pecorino.

If you can’t get your hands on giant courgettes, normal size ones are fine, but a little more fiddly.  They will also cook quicker, take 5-10 minutes off the final roasting time.

This recipe will make a little too much stuffing, but its great cold as a salad or maybe find another vegetable to stuff.  Tomato?  How about an apple?

Other things we’ve done with courgettes:

Golden Courgette and Basil Au Gratin

Stuffed Courgette with Hazelnut and Peach

Char those bad boys

Char those bad boys

The Bits

1 giant courgette (yellow, green……), 1 1/2 cup cooked camarague rice (or rice of your choice), 1 handful of chopped and toasted  walnuts, 1/2 handful of sunflower seeds (roasted is best), 1 small onion, 1 small carrot, 1 medium potato (all three finely diced), 1 corn on the cob (kernels off the cob), 4 cloves garlic (crushed), 8 cherry tomatoes (quatered, or one normal sized tomato), 1 tbs tomato puree, 1 teas dried dill, 1/2 teas dried mint, 1/2 teas dried thyme, 1 teas all spice, 1/2 cup veg stock, 1/2 cup raisins (finely chopped)

Do It

Cook your rice (as you like or follow packet instructions)

Preheat and oven 200oC

Warm a griddle pan (not necessary, but looks pretty).  Start by chopping your courgette into interesting shapes with flat bottoms, so they sit up on the roasting tray.  We have gone for bishops, maybe you’d like a crown, or just a flat top?

Rub them with oil, use your hands and pop them on a griddle pan, presentation side first.  Leave to char up for around 5 minutes.  Be sure not to move them and you’ll get nicely defined scorch marks. Then into the oven for a 10 minute pre-roast.

Why this is going on, get your prep ready for the filling.

In a large frying pan, warm 1 tbs olive oil on med/ high heat and add the onion, saute for five  minutes until going golden, then add your corn and carrot, stir and heat for three minutes then add your potatoes and garlic, saute for a further three minutes then add your herbs and spices.  Stir well, so not allow any bottom sticking.  Add tomatoes and stock.  Add 1 tbs of water if  the heat is too high and things are getting stuck to the bottom.

Now add your seeds, nuts and cooked rice.  Bring to a boil, add a glug of good olive oil, give it a final stir  and pop a lid on it.  Turn heat off and leave to settle for ten minutes.

Your courgettes should now be ready.  Grab them out of the oven and set aside for a moment to cool just a little.

Get a reasonable spoon (dessert) and begin to spoon your hot mixture into to courgettes, packing it down as you go, filling every possible space with tasty filling.

Now pop them back into the oven for a fifteen minute blast and after that the courgette should be softened and the filling piping hot and ready to devour.

Giant Golden Courgettes served with wilted Rainbow Chard

Giant Golden Courgettes served with Wilted Chard, Beetroot Leaves and Toasted Walnuts

Serve

We sprinkled ours with a few more toasted walnuts, some wilted chard, beetroot leaves and good olive oil.  We would also recommend a nice tangy tomato based sauce or chutney.  Although these densely packed courgettes are meals in themselves and need little else on the plate to satisfy.

We Love It!

A real decadent dinner treat here, fit for special occasions and Tuesday nights after work.  It does take little preparation but the combinations of textures and flavours are worth the modest toil.  Get golden courgettes if you can, if they aren’t in the shops, hit your local farm and flutter your eyelids a little (always works for me).

Foodie Fact

Technically courgettes are an immature fruit (which sounds alot like a good friend of ours) and can grow to over a metre long.

Golden/ Yellow courgettes are not only very cool to look at they are also have a higher carotene content than your average green courgettes, they are also good for vitamin C and A with plenty of potassium to boot.

Brit disclaimer – What we repeatedly refer to as a courgette in this post may be known to some of you as a zucchini.  We at the Beach House Kitchen mean no offense in the flagrant use of our British-ness and actually prefer the name Zucchini, it sounds like fun and has a ‘Z’ in it, which is always very cool in our world.  Maybe we can all just call them Zuch-ettes and bridge our islands vocab gap.  Just to add greater confusion to the mix in South Africa they call these beauts baby marrow.    

Categories: Autumn, Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Rainbow Chard and Red Lentil Harira

Harira on the hob

Harira on the hob

We regularly have an identity crisis with dishes, turning traditional fare on its head, ‘Beach House-ing’ things you could say.  We don’t mean it, no offence to the original recipes and food heritage in question, its just we like to play in the kitchen.  Here’s another traditional recipe we have messed about with, thankfully the results were rather delicious.

The best Harira I have ever had was for breakfast (regularly) in the village of Chefchaeoun, known to many a traveller for its exceptional soup, jalaba (hooded cloak garment worn by most Moroccans) production and wonderful mountain location.  Its small winding streets hide many a wonderful eating experience, rows of blue houses (yes blue!) make this one of the most distinctive and stunning villages in that vast old place.

I moved there for a while, took up residence in a room situated on the walls of the Hamam (the communal bath), the warmest room in town.  You see its high up there (in more ways than one!) and you wake chilled to the bone and needing a serious bowl of sustenance.  Abdullah provided.

He was a wonderful cook, in nothing more than a space between two buildings, a few squat tables and two gas burners with huge steel pots, Abdullah created the authentic Moroccan dining experience for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It was like a French Bistro without the pretense and price tag.  My kind of joint for sure.

For a few pennies, Abdullah would dip his oversized laddle into a pot of bubbling Harira and dish you up an epic bowl of full-on morning ammunition, sometimes with a tooth-less smile that shifted the early morning fug.  This hearty soup fuelled me on many a hike around the Rif Mountains and also on days spent lounging around playing card games with other punks holed up there. It came with a wedge of steaming flat bread, olive oil and a bowl of spices to use liberally.  I sat wearing my Jalaba (ever the over bearing tourist that I am) eating with the local men in silence, canteen style.  This kind of experience is what gets my food based juices really flowing.

Chefchaouen

I like cooking soups, its a soulful pursuit.  You don’t have to be to precious, there are rules, but not many, a little like Morocco itself.  This is the situation where I revel.  Add less water here for a nice stew.

Here’s to you Abdullah.  Peace be with you.  Hamdullah!

Rainbow Chard and Red Lentil Harira

Rainbow Chard and Red Lentil Harira

Makes one small pan full (enough for 3-4 bowls)

The Bits

1 1/2 cup dried chickpeas (cooked), 3/4 litre fresh water (or chickpea cookign juices, even better), 1 tbs vegetable oil, 1 inch fresh ginger (finely diced), 2 cloves garlic (minced), 2 onions (finely diced), 1 yellow pepper (diced), 3 ripe tomatoes (with flavour), 3 cups chopped rainbow chard (stems separated from the leaves), 1 teas ground turmeric, 1 teas smoked paprika, large pinch finely ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, 1/2 teas cumin seeds, 2tbs tomato paste
1 lemon, 1 tbs flour (of your choice), 1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves (leaves picked, stems chopped), 1 cup red lentils, 3 dates (finely chopped), 1 teas fresh ground pepper, 2 – 3 teas sea salt

Add just  2 cups of water to make this a hearty stew.

As with all soups/ stews, depending on the quality of your veggies, you many need to add some vegetable stock to the final soup if the flavour thin on the ground.

Harira bubblin' away

Harira bubblin’ away

Do It

Soak your chickpeas overnight in a saucepan.  Drain and refresh with new water, well covered.  Add 1/4 teas bicarb of soda (this makes them soft and cook quicker), bring to a boil and lower heat.  Vigorously simmer for 20 minutes or until chickpeas are just tender.  Remember they will be cooked more in the soup. Keep the cooking liquor for use in the soup, it has a wonderfully full flavour.

Warm the oil in a thick bottomed sauce pan, add your onions, cumin seeds and caraway seeds and saute the onions for a few minutes until glassy, add garlic, pepper and ginger, stir for a couple of minutes and then add all chard stems (add earlier if they are a little tough) and spices, warm through for a minute and now add your tomatoes, dates, lentils, tomato paste, warm through for a minute then add your water/ chickpea juice. Bring to a rolling boil and turn down heat to the lowest setting, add your chickpeas and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, bring back to just about boiling, add your chard leaves and coriander stems.  Re-cover and allow to cook for a few minutes.

Serve

A lemon wedge, a good glug of good olive oil with green olives and brown rice, if you’d like to make this dinner.

For a special touch, we have it sprinkled with roasted and chopped almonds.

Rainbow Chard and Red Lentil Harira

Rainbow Chard and Red Lentil Harira

We Love It!

With winter lurking up the hill, we are getting back to our hearty soups.  Harira is definately one of our fav’s and it is very cool when you have pleasant memories attached to a dish.  Food has amazing transporting properties, the sights and tastes so evocative and alive in memories.

Foodie Fact

Spices are much more than just incredible tasting, the vast majority boast some quite brilliant health properties (as long as we don’t burn them in the pan).

Turmeric is a root similar to ginger and in its raw state has very potent flavour, its wonderful stuff.  Dried is the best we can normally do on this island.  It is peppery and sweet, warm and bitter and has even been likened to orange peel (if very fresh indeed).

Now the nitty gritty and real magic.  Turmeric is anti-microbial, anti-flatulent and strongly anti-bacterial.

Heavy plate version with rice, olives, fresh coriander and lashings of olive oil

Heavy plate version with rice, olives, fresh coriander and lashings of olive oil

Categories: Autumn, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Roast Corn, Avocado and Basil Salad

The corn invasion is ON

The corn invasion is ON

The corn has come and it’s come in droves. I love corn, fresh corn on the cob is one of the finest things imaginable and it plays the lead role in this super salad supported admirably by some ripe Mexican avocado and fresh basil leaves (from the garden).

Back in the day (mid to late 80’s for the record) nothing said summer more than fresh corn on the cob; boiled almost to death and lathered with butter (maybe margarine, times were tough).  I remember the sweetness and laughing at everyone with corn in their teeth and realising that you were just as bad.  It’s all part of the fun, yellow teeth.

CORNY CORN

This superbly fresh corn can be eaten raw, I have been told that is not a good idea but this stuff is so succulent and juicy it is hard to resist.  Thankfully some made it to the pan on this occasion.

Anyone who has ventured to the lands of Latin America will know there way around an ear of corn or maize as it is known.  Corn is in many things, cakes, breads and of course, straight up roasted on braziers in the streets, which is the finest way to go.  Maize comes in all shapes and sizes and has been eaten for thousands of years, it was the main fuel for the Mayans, Aztecs etc…..  Maize even comes in different colours, you can get purple, black, blue, red and our personal favourite, pink.  Interestingly, all of the differing colours have their own unique health benefits.

Autumn is gradually fading to winter and the bounty of the last few weeks is subsiding, the last summer squashes are disappearing (too fast) and even the blackberries are off (blown by some pretty freaky storm action).  The time of the roots is nigh, but we still have a few treats up our sleeve before we get to the stodge-fest of winter.

We’ve incorporated a few more of our local veggie bits in here, but cannot resist a bit of avocado, it always ups the luxury stakes.  Some vegan creaminess to add to the carnival of crunch.

This is a simple salad, but magic combinations abound and the luxurious flavour is something to savour.  The basil adds its usual glorious fragrance to the show.  The lovely thing about a warm salad is the flavours are all THERE!  BANG…….

Serve as a main course, or bulk it up with grains like spelt or bulghur.

The Bits
Serves two
2 corn on the cobs (kernels removed), 1 avocado (2 if you’re feeling decadent), 2 small tomatoes, 1 small courgette, 2 handfuls of basil leaves, juice of 1/2 lemon, drizzle of olive oil, decent pinch sea salt and cracked pepper

Do It
Remove your kernels from the cob, stand up straight on a chopping board (thicker end down) and run a sharp knife down the cob, as close as you can to the base of the kernels. Use quick, sawing actions and the little yellow critters will just fly off.

Chop your courgette, tomato and avocado into similar sized cubes.

Warm a frying pan and some oil, fry off your courgette and corn on a high heat until slightly charred. Leave to cool.

Place the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and add your corn and courgette, mix gently with your hands getting it all nicely combined.  You will now get wafts of glorious basil filling the air, mixed with that roast corn-ness!

Roast Corn, Avocado and Basil Salad

Roast Corn, Avocado and Basil Salad

Serve

Big bowl, scattered with abandon and flair (and a pinch of cracked black pepper).

We Love It!

An abundance of avocado and the beautiful sweetness of fresh, seasonal corn. This is a very satisfying salad.

Foodie Fact

Corn is not exactly a nutrient powerhouse unfortunately, but it is classed as a grain and therefore gets many brownie points.  When compared to other grains it has good levels of fibre, vitamin C and the B’s.  It is also low in calories if that’s your way.

Roast Corn, Avocado and Basil Salad

Roast Corn, Avocado and Basil Salad

Categories: Gluten-free, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 595 other followers

%d bloggers like this: