Posts Tagged With: cooking

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

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

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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

Autumn Photo Scrapbook – Garden, Flowers and Buster

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

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

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

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Busters fancies a hike too……lovely little punk!

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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.

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

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

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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!

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A Great Beach House Bake Off!

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Love CoconutsX

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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

Roast Asparagus, Lemon and Pesto Pizza

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Roast Asparagus, Lemon and Pesto Pizza

I love May, full of birthdays (my sister and I’s) and the green spears of asparagus decide to make a brief appearance.  Surely one of the finest vegetables with a flavour like no other.

I’ve always found asparagus season intriguing, it’s so short and makes the availability of British asparagus so appealing.  You are forced to save up all of your asparagus recipes for this one little window of the year and then POW!  Asparagus begins to appear on everything.  So to celebrate this asparagus-fest, we popped ours on a pizza, there is something special about the flavours of asparagus that lends it to Italian cuisine.

It’s not often that we get a pizza on the roll, the original idea for asparagus on pizza came from a lovely blog friend Margaret over at  Pachamama’s Beautiful Food.  If you haven’t been over to this wonderful oasis of food and nature, we highly recommend a visit.  Margaret is sure to brighten up your day!

The ingredients here are pan roasted off in a little balsamic before topping the dough, adding a nice sweet/ sharp tang.  This pizza also comes with an oil that packs even more flavour onto this already heavy-laden crust.  We’d serve it in a bowl separately and let people help themselves.

Pesto we had left over and thought it sounded like a right good idea, this does make it a very rich affair, but adds a tonne of flavour.  The pesto we used was your standard green pesto, plenty of parmesan and basil.  A regular tomato sauce would also be wonderful here.  Lemon zest is also a brilliant addition and really shines through here, not something you see often on a pizza.

GREEN SPEARS

Asparagus is one of the oldest recorded vegetables and is said to originate from the Mediterranean, it was much revered by the Greeks and Romans (and still is!)  Asparagus is related to the onion and garlic, also the daffodil and tulip.  Asparagus is one of those strange vegetables that actually take up more calories to digest, than they offer the body, making it a negative-calorie vegetable (celery is another).  A celery and asparagus could just be the ultimate ‘diet’ salad.

Asparagus must be served as fresh as possible, if not the sugars present turn to starch and it loses flavour.  Asparagus is best harvested early in the morning and kept in the fridge in a plastic bag, this will keep them tender and conserve the vitamins present.

SOCIAL PIZZA

All roads lead us to pizza at the moment.  We actually went out to a social gathering recently with the lovely people from work, Italian style.  The pizza was nice, a Welsh Rarebit with three different cheese and a salad with brown lentils, raspberry and local blue cheese. Nice stuff, it has restored our faith in all things restaurant in our area.

Normally I’m a brown flour chap, but a  little white does make things alot lighter and a heavy pizza dough is just no fun.  It doesn’t matter what you do,where you buy it from, how Italian the flour is; if you don’t make your own pizza dough, it just ain’t the same!  Give it a whirl…..

Roast Asparagus, Pesto and Lemon Pizza

Roast Asparagus, Lemon and Pesto Pizza

The Bits

Pizza Dough – equal quantities white and brown flour, live yeast, pinch salt, 1 teas malt extract (dissolved in warm water), 2 tbs olive oil, extra flour for dusting and oil fro brushing

Toppings- 8 stalks asparagus (tops cut in half length ways), 10 cherry tomatoes, 1/3 courgette (sliced at a 45o angle), 1 ball mozzarella (sliced into 1 cm slices), 1/2 lemon zest, handful of pitted olives (chopped), 1/4 cup Greek yoghurt, pinch chilli flakes, 2 tbs green pesto, fresh basil leaves, 1 tbs balsamic vinegar (for roasting veg)

Oil – 2 garlic cloves (crushed), 1/2 lemon zest, juice 1 lemon, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tbs white wine vinegar

Do It

Make your pizza dough. Combine ingredients in a large bowl, stir with one hand and add warm water with the other, gradually, little at a time. When it starts coming together stop and form a neat ball.

Jane on dough suty

Jane on dough duty

Lay on a floured surface and begin to knead dough for at least 10 minutes, give it some elbow grease here. The dough will become nice and elastic, rub with olive oil, place in a large bowl and cover with a cloth/ cling film. Leave in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, it should double in size.

Get your toppings ready, in a small frying pan, add a little olive oil and begin to roast your asparagus with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, when they are beginning to colour they are ready. Repeat process with tomato and courgette.

Roll out your dough on an oiled surface and either use your hands or a rolling pin to massage the dough into a pizza shape (you decide what that is, rustic-ness always welcome).  It will be resistant and needs a little coaxing, but will eventually rest into a shape.  For a golden crust brush with a little oil.

Pre heat oven to 200oC.

The toppings

The roast toppings

Spread pesto on pizza, leaving a one inch gap around the edges then scatter your toppings with glee on your dough.  Be reckless and generous.  Finish with big blobs of yoghurt.

Pop in oven and check after 10 minutes, may need another 5 depending on the potency of your hot box.  The base of the pizza should be cooked in the centre (give it a little tap, it should sound gently hollow)

For the oil, simply add all to a bowl and whisk together.  This will keep well in the fridge overnight and may be all the better for it!

Serve

Hot out of the oven with a nice light green salad with a sweet-ish dressing.

We Love It!

Too easy to love this one, far too easy.  From zesty top to crispy bottom, its a all round champion!

Foodie Fact

Asparagus is a good source of dietary fibre and can help with IBS, they are also rich in the vitamin B’s and folates.  It also contains many minerals, especially copper and iron.

Two slices, lucky me!

Two slices, lucky me!

Categories: Recipes, Spring | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin (Vegan)

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin

A vegan gratin to die for. Quite a dramatic statement, but not far off the mark I can assure you. Peanuts offer some much more than just a satay sauce.  With vegan food like this, you’d never miss cheese or cream in your cooking, its just so rich and YUM.

Peanut butter, in moderation, is a wonder ingredient and adds so much flavour and richness to all that it graces. A hearty bake is perfect peanut territory and a pinch of smoked paprika, chilli and garlic and you’re well on your way to a very special oven dish of happiness.

It’s been a gorgeous day in Wales, a little chilly, but the sun has shone brightly.  We’ve been walking all day on the Llyn Peninsula, a spectacular area just south of the Beach House.  After a long day rambling around the hills, cliffs and stone age forts, we were ready for some hearty bites.  We also needed some energy (those hills are steep you know!) so reaching for the jar of peanut butter sprang to mind.

Peanuts are used all over the world in cooking and my favourite use of them has to be a Thai Papaya Salad (with roasted peanuts sprinkled on), however, many others also spring to mind.

I saw Hugh Fearnley doing something like this a while ago and felt it worth a try, I have veganised the dish though. Hugh used sweet potatoes and double cream.  I’m not a huge fan of adding lashings of cream to dishes, its a little heavy going and I find it best reserved for strawberries.

I love adding paprika to dishes and we came back from Spain heavy laden with many different varieties. Smoked paprika is so powerful and works well with the chilli and peanut here, it also turns the sauce a funky pink colour.

THE MIGHTY PEA(NUT)

It took me a while to figure this out, but a peanut is not actually a nut, it’s a pea or legume or even herb to some. Makes perfect sense really.  Although strangely, and nature can be strange, peanuts have most of the properties a nut has.

Peanut butter is one of those things that just cannot be replicated, when a spoonful is added to dishes it tends to transform and can dominate proceedings. It is packed full of energy and perfect when we are out on the hills having a wee ramble. Have you ever tried making your own Peanut Butter? Its very easy and normally much more cost efficient. Grab some organic nuts and a blender and you’re off.

On a ramble yesterday, up the Rivals - Llyn Peninsula, Wales

On a ramble yesterday, up the Rivals – Llyn Peninsula, Wales

Some peanut butter you can buy have sugar and other things added, we would steer away from these, the dish will be better with 100% peanut goodness and no added bits.

We didn’t have crunchy peanut butter, so you will see a few sunflower seeds making an appearance on our version.  Just to crunch things up a little.

You can substitute lime for lemon here, that sounds like a tasty change.

The Bits

The Bits

THE BITS

1 medium butternut squash, 1 courgette, 1 parsnip, 1 red onion (all sliced in 1/2 cm slices), 3 tbs crunchy peanut butter, 1 lemon (juice and zest), 3 cups almond milk (or milk of your choice), 1 teas smoked paprika, 4 cloves garlic (crushed), 1 chilli (finely sliced) or 1 teas chilli flakes), sea salt (to taste), 2 teas cooking oil (sunflower ideal)

Getting layered up

Getting layered up

DO IT

Chop up your veggies and gather a heavy oven dish (approx 8inch by 10inch).

Pre-heat your oven to 180oC

In a blender or using a whisk, combing the peanut butter, paprika, milk, garlic and lemon into a thick, double cream-like consistency.  The thicker, the richer, you decide!?

Oil your over dish using your mitts/ hands and begin the layering.  It goes like this:

Butternut-parsnip-courgette-add half your mix-courgette-onion-butternut-pour over the rest of your sauce.  Add a few more spoonfuls of peanut butter on top and smooth them over the squash.

Try and keep the layers neat and well-packed.  It looks and slices better.

Cover the dish and pop in the oven for 20 minutes, then take foil off and cook for a further 30 minutes or until its looking nice and crispy golden.

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin (Vegan)

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin (Vegan)

SERVE

Sprinkle a little more paprika over the gratin and allow to rest and cool for 5 minutes.  Then serve up with some steamed vegetables or a full flavoured salad.

WE LOVE IT!

Creamy and rich with the lovely sweetness of peanuts and the veggies.  This is full of mouthfuls to savour and bags of YUM!  We suggest a full day walking over stone age forts prior to dinner.

FOODIE FACT

Peanuts are said to originate in Central America, but are now grown and enjoyed all over the world, thanks mainly to the Spanish conquistadors (I wonder what the world’s diet would have been like without those Spanish mercenary types setting sail in search of El Dorado and all?)

Peanuts are famously rich in energy and high in protein and vitamin B.  They are also an excellent source of antioxidants (which are increased in the nut when boiled).  So a handful of peanuts a day, keeps oxidisation away!  Good to know.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Shiitake Mushroom, Sesame and Kelp Noodles

Shiitake Mushroom, Sesame and Kelp Noodles

Shiitake Mushroom, Sesame and Kelp Noodles

Konichiwa and greetings!  Here we have a lovely Japanese dish to tickle your taste buds; the ingredients are subtle and revitalising, perfect for a light spring lunch, also great chilled as a noodle salad.

We have paid a visit to our brilliant little Oriental supermarket in Bangor recently and stocked up on the staples for tasty Japanese and Chinese fare.  Noodles are  of course a mainstay here, but the dried kelp is something not so easy to find, but well worth getting hold of.

Dried kelp adds a strong vegetal flavour to soups and stocks and, along with the mirin, really makes this salad tick and fizz with flavour. The jerusalem artichokes add nice crunch and sweetness and are plentiful in our area of Wales at the moment.  Think of them as a water chestnut substitute of Welsh origin.

The rest of the flavours found here are classically Japanese and the sauce is vaguely Teriyaki.  I had a friend as a child, Kenji, and my first most amazing cooking experience (I’ve only remembered this because of this dish, how cool is that!) was at his house with his Mum.  We had to cook infront of our school class, I have no idea why, so I went around Kenji’s house one Sunday and we got straight into the kitchen and whipped up a Chicken Teriyaki Noodles with a raw egg on top as I recall.  I remember it being another world of flavours and techniques and like absolutely nothing I’d seen before. I was then a major Japanese food fan and still am to this day.

The dish would be best garnished with some toasted sesame seeds, but we seem to have ran out!  We finished it with some dried sea salad, but you can hardly see it on the pics, but it’s there and the flavour is wonderfully oceanic and salty.  Sea salad is very similar to seaweed, which would also make a great topping here.   Anything edible, green and living in the sea is bound to be amazing for you and taste like seaside rocks (you know that flavour!).

Shiitake Mushroom - What a beaut!

Shiitake Mushroom – Hearty and Smoky…….What a beaut!

In this part of Wales we are blessed with the finest grower of shiitake and other mushroom varities in the UK, The Mushroom Garden.  Being nice and damp and misty, Wales in the perfect place for mushroom cultivation and their shiitake’s and mushrooms in general are some of the finest I’ve tasted.  I have been trying to track down a hedgehog mushroom for a while now, they are elusive little critters!  The Mushroom Garden are also doing an ‘Umami’ seasoning, which sounds interesting and will be sprinkled on things in the BHK very soon.  It’s great to have such wonderful, passionate producers locally.

Here in North Wales, good Japanese food is quite rare, homegrown is best.  This salad turned out very well and I’m sure Kenji’s Mum would be happy with my progress!

MORE BEACH HOUSE DISHES TO TICKLE YOUR TASTEBUDS:

Khoresh Bademjan (Persian Aubergine Stew)

Watermelon and Tofu Kebabs

Hippy Daal

Sayonara and Peacex

Makes two decent bowls.

The Bits

The Bits

The Bits 

15og shiitake mushrooms, 6 medium jerusalem artichokes (sliced into 1cm discs), 2 spring onion (finely chopped), 1/2 teas chilli flakes, 1 tbs minced ginger, 1 cup of dried kelp, 150g fine wheat noodles, 2 tbs light soya sauce, 2 teas rice vinegar, 1 tbs sesame oil, 2 tbs mirin, 1 cup noodle/ kelp cooking broth, 1 teas brown sugar (if needed), 2 teas cooking oil

Garnish – Sprinkle dried sea salad/ sea weed, chopped fresh coriander, toasted sesame seeds

Do It

In a saucepan, warm 2 teas of oil and fry your shiitake for a few minutes then add your artichokes and ginger, fry for five minutes and add your vinegar first (allow it to evaporate a little) then add chilli, sesame oil, soya sauce and mirin.  Keep your eye on the mushrooms, shiitake will absorb alot of liquid and can go a little soggy.  They will release this liquid after a few minutes more of cooking.

Continue to cook on a high heat and reduce the sauce a little, check seasoning, it may need a little more sugar.  Cover and keep warm.

Have some boiling water ready in another sauce pan, pop in your kelp and cook for 3 minutes, then add your fine noodles and cook for a minute.  That’s all it should take.  Seive the noodles and kelp and keep the stock.  Run under cold water to cool the noodles down.  This salad is best served warm.  Reserve any leftover stock for other soups and stews, even freeze it, the flavour is well worth it.

Add your noodles to your mushroom mix and pop in your spring onions.  Stir gently together, combine well.

Shiitake, Sesame and Kelp Noodles

Shiitake, Sesame and Kelp Noodles

Serve

In warm bowls with chopsticks, extra mirin and soya sauce available.  Make sure everyone gets a decent amount of mushroom and artichoke, they tend to sink to the the bottom.  Sprinkle on your toppings and enjoy.

We Love It!

Full of the flavours of classic Japanese cuisine and is nice and easy to get together and great served hot or cold.  Great quick bite material and something that keeps nicely.

Foodie Fact

Shiitake Mushrooms (or Wood Mushroom  in Japanese) have been used by the Chinese for over 6,000 years medicinally and are burting with health giving properties.  Brilliant for voth the immune and cardiovascular system, the Shiitake is also full of iron.

Although the Shiitake may seem like an iconic Japanese ingredient, China now produces 80% of the worlds Shiitakes.  No great surprises there though.

All this nutrition talk is all well and good, but the best way to feel healthy, is to feel healthy!  Enjoy your cookingx

Categories: Recipes, Vegan, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Panamanian Breakfast Plantains

Panamanian Plantains

Panamanian Plantains

Jane’s favoutrite breakfast that she learnt to cook all the way in sunny Panama. Jane went over earlier in the year and stayed with the wonderful Kammie, after which, inspiration flowed freely for news ways of eating. Kammie is a brilliant cook and only eats the finest, healthiest foods on the planet. After years of seeking and experimenting, Kammie’s food combinations are top banana!

Plantains are the prime source of carbohydrates in many countries where they are mainly used like a potato.  A plantain fritter is a thing of heavenly flavour and crispness, but you can only eat one and then lie down for a while.  They are rich!

This is a simple breakfast dish, we don’t want to be messing around in the kitchen too much at this time of year, especially at breakfast time. Plantains are easy to come by in Britain and are distinctly different from their cousin, the humble banana. Get a nice soft yellow plantain ideally, which will be sweet, but not quite as sweet as a banana. You may also use green un-ripened plantains here, just add a little honey or brown sugar to the pan just before serving and stir in. Unripened plantains have a potato-like texture and flavour which is savoury and delicious.

We love to use coconut oil as it is the healthy alternative to almost any other oil.  It does have slight coconut flavour, which suits us just fine, but can clash with some dishes.  Read more about the wonders of coconut oil here.

The yoghurt here adds a wonderful creamy Caribbean flavour to breakfast, a great way to start any day.  Bring on the palm trees!

Beach Janie - somewhere in Panama

Beach Janie – somewhere in Panama

The Bits

2 plantains per person (depending on size, some are massive), 2 teas cinnamon, 2 tbs coconut oil

To serve – Yoghurt of choice (we used organic soya yoghurt), 2 tbs coconut cream

Do It

Half the plantains length ways, heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and place the plantians in flat side down.  Fry for a couple of minutes each side and turn over, they should be nicely golden on the outside and soft in the middle.

Place on a plate with some kitchen roll and mop up any excess oil.

The yoghurt is simple, mix the coco cream with the yoghurt.

Serve

Warm and sprinkled with cinnamon and a nice blob of coco yoghurt.

We Love It!

Brings a little bit of Panama sun to our little Welsh home, much needed on many Sunday mornings.

Foodie Fact

Plantains contain more vitamin A and C than bananas, they are also rich in the vitamin B’s.  As we all know by now, plantains and bananas are actually herbs and not fruits (fascinating fact of the day!)

Coconut oil – a real wonder food!

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Top 10 Detox Foods

Great healthy info here from veglov.com

Top 10 Detox Foods

Top 10 Detox FoodsLemon
Lemons are a staple of many detox diets, and there is good reason for this. Firstly, lemons are packed with antioxidant vitamin C, which is great for the skin and for fighting disease-forming free-radicals. Furthermore, the citrus fruit has an alkaline effect on the body, meaning that it can help restore the body’s pH balance, benefiting the immune system. Try starting your day with hot water and a slice of lemon to help flush out toxins and cleanse your system.

Ginger
If too much fatty food or alcohol has caused problems for your digestive system, it may be worthwhile adding some ginger to your diet. Ginger is not only great for reducing feelings of nausea, but it can help improve digestion, beat bloating and reduce gas. In addition to this, ginger is high in antioxidants and is good for boosting the immune system. To give your digestion a helping hand, try sipping on ginger tea or adding some freshly grated ginger to a fruit or vegetable juice.

Garlic
Garlic has long been known for its heart benefits, however the pungent food is also good at detoxifying the body. Garlic is not only antiviral, antibacterial and antibiotic, but it contains a chemical called allicin which promotes the production of white blood cells and helps fight against toxins. Garlic is best eaten raw, so add some crushed garlic to a salad dressing to boost its flavour and your health at the same time.

Artichoke
If you have recently been overindulging in fatty foods and alcohol, adding some steamed globe artichoke leaves to your meals is a great way to help get your body back on track. Globe artichokes are packed with antioxidants and fibre and can also help the body digest fatty foods. On top of this, globe artichoke is renowned for its ability to stimulate and improve the functions of the liver – the body’s main toxin-fighting tool.

Beetroot
For those needing a quick health-boosting shot of nutrients, you can’t do much better than beetroot. Packed with magnesium, iron, and vitamin C, the vegetable has recently been hailed as a superfood due to its many reported health benefits. Not only is beetroot great for skin, hair and cholesterol levels, but it can also help support liver detoxification, making it an ultimate detox food. To enjoy its benefits, try adding raw beetroot to salads or sipping on some beetroot juice.

Green tea
While it’s not technically a food, no detox plan would be complete without regular consumption of essential liquids. Fluids are essential for keeping our organs healthy and helping to flush toxins from the body, and drinking green tea is a great way of boosting your intake. Green tea is not only a good weight-loss drink, but it is extremely high in antioxidants. Research has also suggested that drinking green tea can protect the liver from diseases including fatty liver disease.

Cabbage
Many celebs have resorted to the cabbage soup diet to help lose weight and get in shape quickly before a big event, however cabbage is not only good for weight loss – it is also an excellent detoxifying food. Like most cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli and sprouts), cabbage contains a chemical called sulforaphane, which helps the body fight against toxins. Cabbage also supplies the body with glutathione; an antioxidant that helps improve the detoxifying function of the liver.

Fresh fruit
Fresh fruits are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre= and are also low in calories, making them an important part of a detox diet. If you’re after brighter eyes and skin, shinier hair and improved digestion, try boosting your intake of fruit and eating from a wide variety of different kinds. The good news is fruit is easy to add to your diet, so try starting your day with a fresh fruit salad or smoothie and snacking on pieces of fruit throughout the day.

Brown rice
If you want to cleanse your system and boost your health, it is a good idea to cut down on processed foods. Instead, try supplementing your diet with healthier whole grains such as brown rice, which is rich in many key detoxifying nutrients including B vitamins, magnesium, manganese and phosphorous. Brown rice is also high in fibre, which is good for cleansing the colon, and rich in selenium, which can help to protect the liver as well as improving the complexion.

Watercress
Like most green herbs and vegetables, watercress is an excellent health-booster and detox food. Firstly, watercress leaves are packed with many vital detoxifying nutrients, including several B vitamins, zinc, potassium, vitamin E and vitamin C. Secondly, watercress has natural diuretic properties, which can help to flush toxins out the body. To reap the benefits of this nutritious food, try adding a handful of watercress to salads, soups and sandwiches.

 

Categories: Detox, Healthy Living, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

greenPOWsauce! (aka Salsa Verde)

greenPOWsauce (or Salsa Verde)

greenPOWsauce (or Salsa Verde)

A simple and lip smacking sauce from our hombres in Mexico.  Salsa Verde is so fresh tasting, especially when lathered on a street taco in Mexico City.  Viva la verde!  Summer is on the way, we need to get these recipes gathered and prepared.  Here comes the sun……….

With a fridge full of amazing green herbs and lemons all around, making this was a real no-brainer.  I have played around with the spices here, but I think it adds even more punch and flavour to the sauce.

I was first introduced to this incredible, tangy number in a Mexican street stall lathered all over a street taco with lashings of raw chillis (normally after a few late night tequilas). The art of a good taco is in the balance of all the ingredients, but for me the salsa verde was always the most interesting component. How do they fit so much POW (followed instantly by a TWANG) into a sauce?! Later I found out and have been making variations ever since, normally potent concoctions with herbs, citrus and chilli as the core (and of course the essential tomatillos (green tomatoes).

The Verde is a super healthy affair also, making your own sauces cuts out the middle man, who usually enjoys adding scary sounding chemicals to sauces and no doubt bags of white sugar and other baddies.

Local lemons

Local lemons

This salsa is easily prepared and you may want to chop up your garlic, lemon rind etc depending on the potency of your food processor.  We think its best to mash it all up in a pestle and mortar (and hope you have time for this).  Here in Spain, our blender/f.p. is more of a smoothie maker and woefully under powered for the umph a salsa verde needs, you should be left with a vivid green sauce, all the bits well blended and together, mingling and sharing.

Due to the tomatoes, salsa verde doesn’t hang around to long in the fridge, its best eaten fresh poured over roasted veggies or in sandwiches/ tacos/ enchiladas/ burritos etc and we also use it in cooking as a sauce.  Salsa Verde will also grace any pasta, I wonder if they’ve thought of it in Italy yet!?

Tomatillos can be a little hard to get hold of outside Mexico, other green tomatoes work almost as well.

Happy whizzingX

Makes one decent size tubful

The Bits

4 large green tomatoes/ tomatillos, 1 tbsp capers, 1 ½ big handfuls of fresh coriander, 1 of parsley, 1 of mint, 1 teas roasted fennel seeds, 1 teas roasted coriander seeds, 1 teas ground coriander, 2 fresh red chillis (jalapeno?  Gauge how hot you like it), 3 cloves of garlic, 2 lemons (juice and zest), 150ml olive  oil, hefty pinch of sea salt

In the mix - Salsa Verder

In the mix – Salsa Verder

Do It

Pop all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz away until deep green and extremely tasty.  Or if you lead a life of leisure and want to do it properly, add garlic, seeds, capers, chilli and lemon zest to you pestle and mortar, add a little oil and get mashing!  Add this potent paste to your food processor with the other ingredients and blitz for 2 minutes.

Serve

Its very easy to just ladle this straight into your mouth!  We would however recommend it mixed in with roasted veggies and will zing up any rice dish.  Use it as a sauce and revel in the goodness.  Jane and I would also have it thinned out a little, as the perfect dressing for a lively salad.

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

We Love It!

There is nothing like the bite and zing of a salsa verde, citrus and herbaceous with hints of spice.  It’s really, very healthy too.  The only sauce for a spring barbecue and salad session.  Why not start early this year!

Foodie Fact

All those green leaf herbs are superbly good for you, packed with anti-oxidants.   Tomatillos were originally cultivated by the Aztecs and contain more minerals than your average red tomato.

Tunes

The only soundtrack to salsa making, Santa Esmeralda – ‘Please don’t let me be misunderstood’ (bad miming and all!)

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

Berber Eggs On Toast

Berber Eggs on Toast

Berber Eggs on Toast

You know we are in love with Morocco!  Here’s another morsel why…..

The Berbers have been around for a while, the indigenous people of Morocco, and they certainly know a thing or two about breakfast!  I ate these Berber eggs in a small village somewhere in the Atlas Mountains, a breathtaking region in the north of Morocco and home to Africa’s second tallest hill, Mount Atlas.

Berber man taking it easy

I was staying with a friend Mohammed in a little rural village; a huge white water river cut the village in two and my hosts were a gaggle of local musicians and shepherds (the two professions seem to go hand in hand perfectly).  We played music late most nights, I was on didgeridoo duties, and the depth of feeling and talent that most young Moroccans have musically blew me away and my memories of these after dinner jam sessions always inspires me (see below for more music).

After one particularly late night on the music and homemade honeycomb moonshine, one of the older chaps pulled the gas canister/ cooking device into the middle of the room (we all slept together in one room on the floor).  He took out a massive pan and began to fry onions and spices, the smell was intoxicating and unforgettable.  I hadn’t eaten all day (bar a few dried figs).  My first batch of Berber eggs were on their way and greatly appreciated.  Food memories like this will never leave me, they are intertwined with all of my travel (and life) experiences.  Food says so much about culture, heritage and the local environment.  In many cases, if you look in the pot, you see whats happening and where you really are.  The eating is just a welcome consequence.

Berber Eggs are a very simple dish and requires hardly any thought (perfect morning fodder then) but can be whipped up quickly and served any time of day.  We love spices and have no problem with them first thing, ‘start as you mean to go on!’  The egg cooks well in the tomato juices, sort of like a cross between scramble and poached.  The resulting eggs are soft and smooth and ideal lathered on a bread of your choice.  The layer of hummus takes this dish into a certain realm of deliciousness that must be tried to fully appreciate!

Salam Alaikum, Peace be with you and Bon Appetit!

Berber Eggs in the mix

Berber Eggs in the mix

The Bits

1 tbs good olive oil, 4 free range/ organic eggs, 1 onion (thinly chopped), 4 large/ ripe tomatoes (chopped into small chunks), 2 teas cumin, 1 teas turmeric, a little sea salt, 2 tbs hummus

2 thick slices of toasted bread (Moroccan round bread is of course the best)

Touch of fresh coriander to finish (not essential at all)

Do It

Heat olive oil on medium and fry off  chopped onion until soft and just colouring, then add your spices and heat them for 30 seconds, stirring all the time.  Then add your tomatoes and stir well, cook down unti the toms are nice and soft, lower the heat a little and add your eggs (scrambled up beforehand) to the middle and leave a little to cook (you may want to pop a lid on the pan to help here).  One the eggs have cooked a little give them a stir and after a couple of minutes more cooking you are ready to munch.

Berber Eggs on Toast (in the Spanish Sun)

Berber Eggs on Toast (in the Spanish Sun)

Serve

On two thick pieces of warm toasted bread with a good dollop of hummus on each piece, spoon the Berber eggs over and top with a little coriander (only if you’re fancy).  Then get stuck in!

We Love It!

If you are not musical yourself, after this dish you will feel like singing your heart out!  It’s a real Berber beauty and full of happy memories of far off hills.

Foodie Fact 

Tomatoes actually have more vitamin C when cooked, one of the only fruits/vegetables to get better with cooking (flavour aside).

DSC06570

The only way to enjoy your eggs!

Tunes

Cooking without music is like eating without a spoon (or something like that anyway!)  I like to listen to music relevant to the food I’m creating, get the energy flowing in the right direction.

Gnas El Ghiwane are my favourite Morrocan band.  Here’s a tune I love cooking to, reminding me of the desert and endless bus journeys through nothingness.

Categories: Breakfast, Recipes, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Roast Chestnut, Apricot and Spinach Terrine (Christmas Lunch)

Roast Chesnut and Spinach Terrine

Roast Chestnut and Spinach Terrine

It was -5oC here on our grey island the other day, it reminded me of our freezing Christmas and not at all of Spring (it is allegedly now Spring!)  I come from a family of food lovers and Christmas time can get a little ‘foodie’ and delicious.  But of all the amazing food we ate over the festive period, this Roast Chestnut and Spinach Terrine stood head and shoulders above it all.

This was Christmas day lunch for the Watson family (well my part of the lunch anyway) and the recipe has been hanging around ever since demanding to be posted and shared.  This is a delicious slab of baked nut and leaf and will meet all the demands of the vegetarian seeking something rather special to impress/ reward/ treat loved ones, friends and guests.  It’s quite a grand looking thing that can be wheeled out for any special occasion.  You get the point!

Up at Mum and Dad’s in the wilds of west Durham, we had flown back from our glorious little pad on the Med to a blanket of deep grey mist and drizzle for a crimbo.   A time to retire to the kitchen and feast; drink red wine and whiskey, forget about the sun and personal well-being and throw yourself headlong into christmas pudding, huddle around the fire (playing charades if desperation sets in).  Ah, great memories of festive times.

My family this Christmas at the highest pub in Britain

My family this Christmas at the highest pub in Britain

This dish works well at anytime of year, but is especially rewarding when things are colder and darker.  February is perfect for that, the January detox is over and your ready to over indulge again!  What a glorious cycle!

Chestnuts make great roasts, they are the starchiest of all nuts so they bind things together nicely.  Collapsed terrines taste fine, they just look like a horrible accident.

This superbly glorified nut roast has all the richness of a meat-style dish and will sate any carnivore (for a while, just don’t tell them that it is vegan!)  We absolutely loved it and most of the family preferred this to the fish that was also being served.  It is moist and hearty and is a real looker, a dish that naturally takes centre stage.

It has a few steps in preparation and does take a little effort, but your loved ones are definitely worth it.

Have a magic (festive) February!

This recipe fills a large terrine dish and is good for 8 portions.  If you don’t have a terrine dish, you can use any deep and, preferably narrow, oven dish.

The Bits

Nut layer – 8oz mixed nuts coarsely ground (hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans), 2 oz dried apricots, 4oz breadcrumbs, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 onions (finely chopped),  3 ripe red tomatoes (chopped), 2 tbs good tomato puree, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, pinch of cinnamon, pinch of ground clove, 3 cloves garlic (crushed), 1 small egg (not needed if vegan), sea salt and black pepper,

Chestnut layer – 2 oz chestnut mushrooms, 8oz chestnut puree (best homemade if you can), 4oz cooked chestnuts, 1 tbsp breadcrumbs, 1 tbsp oil, 1 large onion, 2 sticks celery,

Spinach layer – 1 oz butter (we used olive vegan spread here), 3 garlic cloves (crushed), 1 kg spinach leaves,

Do It

Nut layer – Blitz in a food processor the mixed nuts and apricots then mix together with the breadcrumbs.  Some chunks are fine.

On medium heat, fry off onions until soft and add your mushrooms, cook for a minute and then add your tomatoes and puree.  Cook until a thick sauce-like texture is formed.  Season, cool (20 mins in the freezer) and then add to blitzed nut mix, stirring in the egg and spices.  Set aside.  One down…..

Chestnut layer – Fry off your onion and celery until soft, then add you chestnut puree and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat, then add cooked chestnuts and breadcrumbs.  Season and set aside.  Two down…..

Spinach layer – Melt butter/ alternative in a saucepan and fry garlic for 3o seconds and then add spinach leaves, lower heat and allow to slowly cook for 10 mins with lid on.  Empty into a colander and gentle squeeze out excessive water.  Season and set aside.  Nearly there…

Preheat oven 180oC

Oil you baking dish, then line with greaseproof paper, begin to add your layers, gauging quantities it should go; nut, spinach, nut, chestnut, nut and pressing down evenly and firmly as you go.  Cover with oiled greaseproof paper and bake on the middle shelf for 35 – 40 minutes.

Remove from oven, then turn up heat to 200oC.  Empty the terrine out, ever so gently, onto a baking tray and play back into the oven for a final crisping.  Bake for around 10 minutes or until you are happy that the terrine is looking nicely browned.

Remove from oven and leave to rest on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.

P1190301

Jane carving the roast!

Serve

One your finest platter, we scattered a few basil leaves that were lingering around.  Cut in and served in nice thick slices, no sauce required, it should be nice and moist.

We Love It! 

This dish will now always remind us of Christmas and happy times, we may even be making it every Christmas from now on.  Can we wait that long!?

Foodie Fact

Chestnuts should not just be for Christmas, they are an awesome nut all year round and superbly healthy.  Chestnuts originate in China are are best in the cooler months, they are lower in fat than all other nuts and are a great source of minerals, protein and vitamins; especially rich in vitamin C.  Their starchy make up is not dissimilar to a potato!  Of course they are gluten free and make a great alternative, when dried and ground, to flour.

Categories: Recipes, Special Occasion, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Radio Tarifa Tagine

Tarifan Vegetable Tagine

Tarifan Vegetable Tagine

Tarifa is one of the windiest towns in the world, home to windsurfers and a whole host of eccentric folk (apparently the relentless wind sends people mad!)  Most places in Spain have three winds, Tarifa has five!  It is located directly across the med from Tangiers, an equally nutty Moroccan town.

Tarifa has long been regarded as a great example of the merging of all things Hispanic and African, not to mention, there is an awesome band named Radio Tarifa who rock our worlds (see below), they’re also a mix of Moroccan, flamenco and other beats. Really when you get down to this coastline, cultural borders blur into one hectic mix of all things med. There is an ancient feel in the air around here, Romans, Greeks, Punics, Carthagens…… it makes sense that people who want to live in such beautiful climes and always have done.

I learnt to make good cous cous and tagine on the open fires and portable gas stoves of Morocco, in garages, date plantations and even the odd oasis. Moroccans are like Italians when it comes to their cooking, namely, don’t mess with it brother!!!! Keep it the way it has always been and momma knows best et al. Which is cool, makes things easier.  I cooked a tagine in the Atlas Mountains and added beetroot to the mix and then spent the rest of the evening in some form of food induced exile.  They turned their nose up at my meddling with the ancient, alchemical laws of the tagine.  Seems I haven’t quite learnt my lesson!

I have had a good meddle here. I love to add a little tahini to the mix to add some richness and paprika is a superb local delicacy that creeps into most things I cook over here on the Costa Calida.  The rest is all fine, fresh, fresh, med veg and fistfuls of cumin from the markets of Marrakech to get things flowing in the right direction.

The secret here is a thick and rich sauce to start with and gently steaming the other veggies over that. This makes this dish brilliantly tasty and the veg chunks are cooked until perfectly tender and succulent.  The nature of tagine recipes is wide and uber-complex, but this one is straight forward and mighty fine.  A tagine is just the pot’s name really, it’s unique conical shape, but it’s what goes into it that matters.

I serve this with fluffy cous cous in a tagine dish, there is  plenty of gorgeous sauce to make the cous cous nice and moist. My tagine dish has a very sticky base, otherwise I would cook the sauce in the tagine base and then whack the lid on. That would be the authentic route, but I have used a pan here to make this easier and avoiding sticky situatioGod, I love Morocco, the dunes of the Sahara and the peaks of the Rif mountains are just a hop, skip and ferry away from here and it is calling my name in capital letters.  It’s such a massive empty place, full of amazing people and tasty treats.  This tagine takes me back……

Tarifan Vegetable Tagine

Tarifan Vegetable Tagine

The Bits

2 med onions (finely sliced), 6 cloves garlic (finely chopped), 3 inch cube of ginger (finely chopped), 5 big fat plum tomatoes (chopped rough), 1 courgette, 1 large red pepper, ½ large butternut squash, 4 large carrots (all veg chopped into large chunks), 4 teas ground cumin, 3 teas paprika, 1 teas cinnamon, 1 teas ground coriander, ½ handful roughly chopped dried apricots, 6 dates (finely chopped), 1 heaped tbs dark tahini (dark has a more intense flavour, but regular tahini is fine), 2 cups good veg stock, s + p to taste
350g cous cous (for three), 1 pint good veg stock, 1 teas cumin seeds,

Do It

Get a nice good glug of olive oil hot (high heat here) in a large saucepan, pop your onions in and cook until soft and going golden, add your garlic and ginger and your spices. Stir well and often, get it all combined nicely, then add your chopped tomatoes and stir in. It should all be smelling amazing and cooking down well. Taste and adjust accordingly. When the tomatoes have all broken down, 5-10 minutes, add all of your other veggies, stock and dried fruit stir in a little. Stick a lid on it and leave for 30 minutes to cook slowly, no peeking!

When the lid is taken off, you’ll have a gorgeous tagine waiting with plenty of rich sauce to be soaked up by the cous cous.

To cook your cous cous, warm a pan with a little oil and toast your cumin seeds for one minute, then pour in your cous cous and stir well, add some s+p to taste and pour in some freshly boiled water (straight from the kettle is good).

Cover the cous cous with water, 2cm above and then cover tightly with a lod and leave for 20 minutes to cook off the heat. When you lift the lid, fluff the cous cous well with a fork and add a little oil if it needs a little help.

Puerto Mazarron Sunset

Puerto Mazarron Sunset

Serve

As warm as you can, in a tagine dish preferably. Lay out plenty of cous cous on the base, spoon over plenty of sauce and then scoop on your vegetable tagine. Cover with more sauce and a good drizzle of great olive oil.

We like to eat out of the tagine dish in a communal fashion, pop it in the middle of the table and enjoy with your nearest and dearest, just like in Morocco. We had ours with hummus or a nice garlic yoghurt.

At the shepherds house - Bolunuevo, Mazarron

At the shepherds house – Bolunuevo, Mazarron

Foodie Fact

We use tahini in many ways, but here it adds a creamy richness to the tagine without the use of our old friends butter/ cream and the dairy gang, with the added advantage of awesome health benefits and easy digestions.  Tahini is full of vitamin B’s, essential for keeping the body ticking over, enhancing metabolism and sorting the immune system out.

Tahini is also rich in calcium and a small blob can contain up to 35% of your required daily intake.  Many people believe that tahini boasts the highest levels of calcium in any food!

Here’s the soundtrack to our Tarifan Tagine, the incredible Radio Tarifa:

Categories: Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rasta Pasta Sauce

Jane in the ‘Lemons’ kitchen

We’re down in Mazzarron, Murcia (Espana!) and having a ball, basically taking along break and getting down with the Spanish vibes (manana!).   Lack of internet means little Beach House stuff, but we are getting a little more organised, so hope to be posting a few bits in the near future.  The sun shining, the weather is sweet……yeahX

After a wander down the local fruit and veg market we headed back to the ‘Lemons’ (our little flat near the sea) along the beach full of inspiration and big bags of odd looking tomatoes. We came up with this gorgeous and simple rich-tasting pasta dish using aubergines and yellow peppers.  We called it rasta pasta, you can take it easy, whip it up in minutes and spend more time in the sun with some good tunes.

Buen Provecho, JaneX

Getting things started, Aubergine and Peppers frying up

The Bits

1tbs cooking oil, half a large aubergine (chopped into 2cm cubes), 2 medium sized yellow peppers (chopped into 2cm cubes), 2 medium sized onions (chopped into 1cm cubes), 3 cloves garlic (chopped finely), 5 tomatoes, cracked black pepper, sea salt, 1tsp of mixed herbs, 1tbs balsamic vinegar, 1tsp runny honey (local por favor), fresh parsley, brown spaghetti (we liked).

Do It

Chop the aubergine into rough cubes and fry in oil on a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped peppers and keep cooking until everything is soft and roasted and smelling good.  Put them in a bowl and cover.

In the same pan, fry the onions gently on a lower heat in a little more oil, for about 5 mins until soft. Then add the chopped garlic and cook gently so everything goes caramalised.

Chop up your tomatoes roughly, then add to the pan. We left the skins on. Pepper and salt to taste, add the mixed herbs, balsamic vinegar and honey and turn up the heat to medium. Stir everything around then cover and leave to reduce for 15 minutes until the sauce is perfectly thick and ready for the pasta.

Rasta pasta in the mix

Serve

We used brown spaghetti which was beautiful or whatever pasta you prefer.  Mix all mixed together with a little splash more olive oil making it juicy and rich. Oh and a rather decadent side salad with avocados and sprouts.

What a feast!

RASTA PASTA

We Love It!

This dish is a wonder and has virtually no fat. It proves that the need for cheese with pasta is a myth and it has all the colours of reggae! Yippeee!

Foodie Fact

Aubergines are brilliant!  Low in calories and rich in fibre, they are full of the vitamin B’s and are good for anti-oxidants.

 

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Nantmor Shiitake and Rose Risotto with Four Herbs

Brown Rose Risotto with Shiitake and Four Herbs

The ideal warming dish as the nights are drawing in and theres a winter chill starting in the air.  Autumn is here and that means it’s time for risotto.

I love Italian food, but have never been to Italy.  I have been fortunate to have met and cooked with quite a few Italians in the past and can safely say that they are the most pedantic and fussy cooks/ eaters in the world.  Everything is how ‘mama made it’ or its no good at all.  They are critical of the slightest detail and in this way, great to cook for and with.  If you can get an Italian excited about your food, you are doing something very right!

A luxurious risotto for me is a taste of food perfection.  The balance of fresh produce, richness and a hint of wine represents all that is amazing in Italian food (not to mention the large hunk of pungent cheese).  They of course take it seriously, its seriously good food.  Our new chef at work lived and worked in Modena for years and to see him make risotto is to see a true craftsman at work, he gives it such care and dedication.  I hope this recipe reflects this passion.  I’ve gone for only the finest of local produce and a brilliant wine.  All the elements must be selected with equal care, otherwise the risotto will not be a true expression of food heaven.

Nantmor Mushrooms – The Mushroom Garden

These Nantmor Shiitakes (Shii – Tree, Take – Mushroom) from the Mushroom Garden are the real highlight in this dish.  They’re my kind of mushroom; pungent, meaty and damn pretty too, adding amazing flavour to anything they touch. They are grown on Welsh Oak in the small village of Nantmor, by a local chap named Cynan.  The Mushroom Garden now supplies many top restaurants around Britain as mushrooms actually thrive in the mist and damp of Wales.  Whenever I find a good mushroom, I always think ‘risotto’, so classic and so good.  Due to the Shiitakes being so precious and a little costly, we added some chestnut mushrooms to add a different texture and ensure that we had loads of lovely mushrooms in the risotto.

The Beach House additions here are a lot less butter (a bit more good olive oil) and brown rice.  However, we still added some properly ripe parmesan at the end. We aim to eat vegan whenever possible, but parmesan and risotto are a thing of perfect harmony.  This was a date night dinner and we were letting it all hang out!

Nantlle Shiitake

The brown rice is not as starchy as the proper risotto rice, but we are willing to make that sacrifice.  We prefer the nutty flavour of brown rice. Try and get some really funky organic rice if you can, rough stuff with chaff, good for the belly and you’re guaranteed more flavour.

We bought a wonderful bottle of southern French rose from the local family ran vineyard Pant Du, set in the beautiful Nantlle Valley.  Yes, you heard us right, they are growing wine in these parts. Brave souls indeed. The Pant Du Winery has now opened a small cafe and wine shop, Jane and I visit regularly for tea and to soak in the stunning views and happy family vibes. The wine on sale are from small pockets of Europe, a really interesting selection. This rose was a deep pink beauty.  This year at Pant Du has unfortunately been a less than prosperous growing season, but they will still make a few bottles of their German varieties.  So a glass of our Costiere de Nimes was sacrificed to the risotto. Only cook risotto with wine that you would enjoy drinking, it will make all the difference to the delicate balance of flavours. You have been warned, risottos are a no cheap plonk zone.

I plundered the herb garden for our herbs; sage, rosemary, oregano and thyme. A brilliant combination for any risotto or stew, we are so lucky that they thrive in our hedges. Unlike our tomatoes, they seem to like the grey conditions.  The courgette came from the farm and they are abundant and delicious at the moment.  I couldn’t resist a little more greenery in there.

I think we’re ready for the fun bit now, let’s get cooking!

Beauty Herb

The Bits
1 big white onion (finely sliced), 4 cloves garlic (crushed), 2 cups of organic brown rice (roughly 1 cup per person), 1 cup Shiitake mushrooms, 1 cup other mushrooms (preferably something like a chestnut), 1 smallish courgette (chopped into small cubes), several glugs of fine olive oil, 2 big handfuls of parmesan cheese (finely grated), 1 glass of decent rose wine (white is also OK), 2 teas of each fresh sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano (chopped), 1.5 ltr good veg stock, 2 knobs of butter (optional, for added richness)

Do It

You need to be a bit organised with a risotto, have hot stock ready and all your ingredients to hand, things can happen quickly here and timing is everything.

Boil the kettle and make some nice veg. stock, 1.5 ltr should be enough, if you are super cook, you’ll probably make your own stock from scratch.  Have a good bottle of wine open and preferably a glass poured for yourself, all that stirring is thirsty work.

Pre-soak your shiitake mushrooms for an hour or so prior to cooking and have all your bits chopped and ready.  The key to a good risotto is to never leave its side, keep stirring and giving it love.  You will see the difference in the end.

Getting things organised

Begin by gently frying off your onion in a thick bottomed large saucepan, keep them moving, you want them to go glassy but not browned.  Once they are getting there, add you garlic and in this case, your courgette and mushrooms (try not to break them up).  Cook for a couple of minutes on a medium heat, stirring all the time, then add your rice.  Keep stirring and giving the rice a thorough coating of oil.  The pan should be nice and hot, you now add your glass of vino, which should immediately sizzle and evaporate, being absorbed nicely by the hot rice and meaty mushrooms.

Sweet simmering

Now for some serious, steady stirring action.  With a good wooden spoon or a spatula, keep going at it, adding your hot stock one ladleful at a time (we put the mushroom soak juices into the stock), this will loosen any starch from the rice and create a lovely smooth texture.  Once the stock has evaporated and the rice is hissing slightly, its time for another ladleful.

The rice should take around 15-20 minutes to cook, you want it ‘al dente’.  Just before the rice is cooked (try some between your teeth, it should not be chalky, but still firm in the middle) take it off the heat and stir in your cheese and if you like, a knob of butter and season with sea salt and fresh pepper.  This is where the real richness kicks in.  Put a lid on and leave warming for 5-10minutes to come together.

Stirring in the Shiitakes

Risotto must be served and eaten almost immediately.  It’s perfect, when its perfect, not afterwards.   Your risotto should be liquid, but not liquid enough so that it seeps out around the edges, all should be perfectly combined and blended together, with the rice cooked but not stuck together.  Its a fine art!  But one well worth mastering.

Serve

Pronto!  Hot flat bowls are best.  We topped ours with some runner beans from garden, a little herb and a slight drizzle of white truffle oil.

We Love It!

Risottos are one of my most satisfying dishes.  I love cooking them and eating them equally.  They are normally eaten in Italy as a first dish but I cannot imagine that, I like it centre stage.  Cooking rice is something that the Italians have perfected.  Grazie Mille!x

Foodie Fact

Shiitakes are re-knowned for their health giving properties, in Japan especially, they believe the Shiitake to help fight cancer.  These mushrooms also boast many medicinal and immune system boosting qualities.

Nantmor Shiitake and Rose Risotto with Four Herbs
Categories: Autumn, Recipes, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stuffed Courgette with Hazelnut and Peach

The Bits

Cooking is still a bit weird here after all of our raw escapades.  We are still eating mainly raw, with a few exceptions, when the produce and mood take us in a hotter direction.  I need to keep my hand in because of the work that I do.

I’ve always loved a stuffed veg, Mum used to make stuffed peppers back in the dark ages on the early 90′s.  Mum’s always been a bit of a maverick.  I remember the first time she made cheesecake, in the mid 80′s with cheddar cheese!  The family all came around to try this new found food.  We’ve come a long way since then.

This is a dish along the lines of the millions of other ‘stuffed’ dishes on cyber space, the only difference being, this is ours and its only semi-stuffed.  Recipes that spring to mind via what you have at hand are always my favourite.  Spur of the moment cooking, making the best of what you have.  This recipe goes against all of the food combining advice that we have been following recently, but we felt like living dangerously!

We are lucky to have brilliant courgettes at the moment from the farm and some sweet ripe peaches; combine that with a nut cabinet that never runs dry, mint growing wild like a madman in our garden and the ever-present cauliflower and you have the makings of a feast.

I decided to add the cauliflower to the cous cous, I love the subtle flavour that cauliflower gives off when steamed/ boiled.  It added great flavour to the cous cous.

Being very much an amateur cook, I make many mistakes, or as I call them, great opportunities to learn.  Cooking with an electric hob can be a real drag, but that is what we have.  I much prefer gas stoves, mainly for controlling the heat by eye.  When cooking the cous cous and cauliflower here, I forgot that the hob was still on very low and went off to do other things (drink tea), leaving the poor cous cous to overcook.  Oh well, this is ‘real’ cooking and it still tasted good, if a little soft and congealed.

The French beans here are optional and can be substituted with anything else green and is season.  Peas, spinach, broad beans etc would be grand.

We are an energy conscious household at the Beach House and don’t like turning on the oven unless very much necessary, namely, when we have lovely guests.  Otherwise, it’s all hob.  These courgettes could be blanched off in boiling water then thrown in a hot oven for a while, that would be nice.  We have opted for the simpler and more efficient method of re-using your frying pan.

This is an ideal seasonal summer lunch which oozes flavour.  All that sweetness and crunch with the bitterness of the olives.  You could even cook the courgettes on the barbecue if you fancy!

Peaches and Raisins

The Bits 

2 cup wholemeal cous cous (or brown rice, quinoa etc), 1/2 cauliflower (chopped finely), 1tbsp good veg stock, 1 large onion (chopped), 10 french beans (topped and tailed and chopped), 1 teas carraway seeds, 2 cloves garlic (minced/ finely chopped), 1/2 cup olives (sliced, we like the green ones), 1 ripe peach (finely chopped), 3 tbsp hazelnuts, 2 tbsp raisins (chopped), 2 tbsp mint (chopped), 1 tsp parsley (chopped), sea salt and cracked black pepper, 1 tbsp good oil, 4 courgettes (halved lengthways)

Chopped Cauliflower

Do It

Boil some water in a saucepan (follow quantities written on your cous cous packet, you will need a little less due to the water given off by the cauliflower) and stir in your stock, add your finely chopped cauliflower and cous cous, stir a little then tightly cover and leave off the heat to cook for 20 minutes.  Fluff cous cous with a fork and re-cover until needed.  If more water is needed, add now.

Heat your frying pan, add your hazelnuts and warm them through, lightly roasting them.  Allow to cool, chop up into chunks.

Then heat some oil in the pan, gently soften your onions for 5 minutes, until slightly golden; add carraway seeds and french beans.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, then add your mashed garlic, cook for 5 minutes more.

Gently soften your onions

Now add your mint, parsley and chopped hazelnut, stir for a minute to heat through, then add your cous cous and cauliflower, raisins, olives and peaches, with plenty of cracked pepper and some sea salt.  Combine well.  Be gentle with the cous cous here, you don’t want a mush!  Cover pan and keep warm.

In another large frying pan, heat some oil and on a low/med heat, fry your courgettes face down.  Allow them to colour for a few minutes then flip over, repeat this twice and the they should be cooked.  You don’t want to overcook the courgette, it should still have a little crunch in the middle.

Stuffed Courgette with Hazelnuts and Peach

Serve

Place two courgettes on a plate, leave a little space inbetween, spoon over your filling.  Pile it nice and high, finish with some of your chopped herbs.

We Love It!

This is a great dish, ideal for a light summer dinner.  The combination of flavours and textures here is something that delights the mouth (even with overcooked cous cous)!

Stuffed Courgette with Hazelnut and Peach

Foodie Fact

Cous cous is small balls of semolina flour, whole wheat cous cous is made with wholewheat flour and has higher nutritional properties.  Wholewheat cous cous  contains higher fibre and iron than the normal stuff, 1 cup gives you a third of your daily fibre requirement.

Categories: Lunch, Recipes, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Willie’s Cacao Roasted Pepper and Chilli Harrisa with Caramelised Roots

Willie’s Cacao

I loved the sound of this recipe, it really fired my inspiration.  I was excited to give it a try, the combination of bitter cacao with sweet roasted peppers sounded like a wonderful thing.  

I have just come to realise that I have the wrong cacao, I have the chocolate cacao and not the cacao cacao that is needed (that’s the 100% variety).  With no new cacao (I love that word!) on the horizon I have decided to share this with you all, without even tasting it.  I am so confident it will be amazing, I just want to pass it on and hopefully you may give it a go.

Over to Willie…………… 

“I love chillies, but I don’t like them so hot that I cannot taste anything else. So I’ve added roasted sweet red pepper to this sauce to balance the heat of the chillies. However, it is always hard to judge how hot chillies will be as they vary so much. You can reduce the heat of the chillies in this recipe by deseeding about a third of them before using or, if you want the sauce quite mild, halve the amount used. This is a great accompaniment to oily fish, lamb and pork, including sausages. You could also serve it with a Moroccan tagine.”  (Or lovely roasted roots a la Beach House.)

Makes 600ml

16 long red chillies
4 large red peppers
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
150ml extra virgin olive oil
10g Madagascan Sambirano Superior 100% cacao
1 tbsp Cacao Nib Balsamic Vinegar, or good quality balsamic vinegar
Salt

Preheat the oven to 250°C.

Roasted Peppers (theshiksa.com)

Wrap the chillies in a double layer of foil and place on a baking tray. Put the unwrapped red peppers alongside them on the same tray. Roast in the hot oven for about 25 minutes, or until the peppers are slightly blackened and soft. Allow to cool slightly, then peel and deseed the red peppers. Remove the chillies from the foil, but leave whole, just removing any stalks. Put both the chillies and peppers in a blender or food processor and whizz to make a rough purée (don’t overwork; leave a little texture). Set on one side.

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan until they smell fragrant. Tip them into a mortar and crush with a pestle to a coarse powder.

Place the puréed peppers and the chillies in a large saucepan, add the powdered cumin and the olive oil. Bring the mixture to the boil over a medium heat, then simmer gently until the sauce has reduced by about a half. You will find the oil separates out. Remove from the heat, add the cacao, balsamic vinegar and salt to taste and stir until well combined. Spoon the hot harissa into warm sterilized jars, allow to cool slightly, then seal. This sauce should keep for at least 3 months in a cool place.

I would serve this beautiful harissa with some oven roasted roots; sweet potato, carrots and swede would perfect.  Imagine the colours!

Original post can be found here.

We will be trying this one soon, just need to get some of that lovely cacao and we’re off into the wonderful world of savoury chocolate cooking.  

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Raw Chocolate and Black Olive Torte

Raw Chocolate and Black Olive Torte

Now this one really blew us away.  An unusual sounding combo that works out in the most fantastic way.  The dark and rich cacao blends perfectly with the fruity flavour of the olive; which of course adds a beautiful, pureed texture.  This torte is moist and decadent and will convince any raw food sceptic, that raw food is not just about carrot sticks!  You can most definitely indulge.

One of the most surprising aspects of raw food has been the desserts.  They are a real knockout!  So full of goodness, you need to eat them in moderation.  The usual base ingredients of nuts and dried fruits means that  they are high in fats and sugars, but remember, they are all good fats and sugars.  Non of that processed and refined rubbish that is alien to our bodies.  These desserts are very, very good sources of energy.

The preparation of this torte is simple, but does take a little time.  We love using fresh coconut, but it can be a job getting into one (see the recent ‘How to dispatch a coconut’ post).  Once the coconut is sorted out, the rest is just an easy exercise in blending and enjoyment.

Psyllium husks are not your average larder stock, you may need to visit your local health food store.  They do make the whole mix set well.  I am sure it will be delicious without them, just a little soft around the edges.

This torte keeps well, even the banana in the crust seems to keep its colour and flavour.  We took it down to Pembrokeshire on tour and enjoyed slices of it whilst sheltering from the wind in our little orange tent.  These raw desserts are hardy.

This recipe comes from the brilliant ‘Eat Smart, Eat Raw‘ book by Kate Wood.   The recipe makes around 12 servings.

The Bits

Base – 200g fresh coconut, 125g ground cashews, 1 banana

Filling – 300g plain black olives (drained and pitted), 450g dates, 30g carob powder (or cacao powder), 1 tbsp grain coffee, 1 tbsp ground cinnamon, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, 180ml water, 2 tbsp powdered psyllium husks.

 

Our well used blender

Do It

Base – chop coconut in a food processor, add the ground cashews and process both until well mixed, put the banana in a chunk at a time until it binds together nicely (you may not need the whole banana).  Line the mix in a cake tin (around 9in).

Filling –  break down the olives in the food processor, add the dates and process until a paste is formed.  Then add the carob, grain coffee, cinnamon and vanilla and blend again.  Keep it running and add the water gradually, finally add the psyllium and after a minute turn off and immediately spoon onto the base before the psyllium starts to set.  Spread out evenly and leave in the fridge to firm for a few hours.

We Love It!

Yet another gourmet raw dessert.  At this rate we will be gaining weight on this raw diet (with big chocolaty grins on our faces).

Foodie Fact

Psyllium husks are portions of the seed of a plant.  They are mucilaginous, which basically means that  they thicken things up.  They are great for the colon and better blood circulation.  They can be used in vegan baking and help to bind mixtures together.   These husks are also used in a popular detox drink that involves clay, Bentonite clay that is volcanic and has many detoxing properties.

Raw Chocolate and Black Olive Torte

Categories: Cakes, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Detox, Gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Vibrant Gigglebean Stew (Raw)

Raw Vibrant Chickpea Stew

This may be the healthiest dish we have ever eaten.  I can only see stew this doing wonderful things for us and it tastes amazing (always a bonus).

I love the name ‘gigglebeans’, it’s is what Jane’s friend Alex calls chickpeas (or garbanzos, they have so many names!)  What ever we choose to call them, they are fine legume and a welcome addition to raw June at the Beach House.

We had tried previously to soak and sprout chickpeas.  I don’t think we have the heat here.  It has been a very strange season this year, our plants are not sure whether its winter or summer.  I know the feeling!  This may have affected the chickpea sprouts, as they don’t seem to like sprouting, they just swell up.  After soaking the chicks for 12 hours, we have discovered that they are delicious, even without a sprout.  It has been a revelation.  Nothing adds bite and vitality to a salad like a crunchy chickpea, jam packed full of nutrition and protein, they are a real gift from nature.  They are just like nuts, without the fats.

I am always compelled to add the flavours of India or North Africa/Middle East to a chickpea.  It just seems correct.  I have restrained myself this time as I am having a few days detox before raw June ends.  I feel quite amazing!  I have never been a fan of the word detox, but I’m really enjoying it.  I’ve dropped nuts and oils (fats in general) from what I eat and my energy levels have gone through the roof.  You wouldn’t imagine that, but it is true.  I went for a jog last night and I felt positively turbo charged.  I’m not sure if it is wise as a long term diet, but who knows.  I feel magic now.

This raw stew came together from the idea for a dressing.  It is definitely more of a stew, mainly due to the lack of leaves and the quantity of dressing.  The dressing itself can be used on most vegetables and you can add some olive oil and salt, if you are not having fun experimenting with the raw things.

In future I may add some fresh herbs to the dressing, a handful of mint of basil would be delicious.  But as I said, I’m trying to restrain myself at the moment and keep things relatively simple for the palate.

The combination of texture and colours here are a real feast for the senses, the flavours are light and understated, with the odd kick of chilli to liven things up.  Using apple cider vinegar here adds a nice tang to the dish. Overall a salad fit for any table and certainly fit for any body.

This will make a big bowl of salad, leftovers will get better in the fridge when left for a little marinate.

The Bits

We use the food processor for the grating

Stew – 1 cup grated swede, 1/2 cup chopped mangetout, 1 sweet potato (chopped), 2 cups sprouted (swollen) chickpeas, 1 cup grated courgette.

Dressing – 2 cloves garlic (one more if you are a garlic fiend), 1 inch of grated root ginger, 2 tbs apple cider vinegar, 1 apple, flesh of 1 orange, 1/2 cucumber, 1 red chilli (of your choice, be careful with the heat!), 2 tbs olive oil (optional), pinch of sea salt (optional)

Do It

Cover the chickpeas well with water, they will swell up to more than double their original size.  Leave for 12 hours then drain.  You can eat them now if you like, if you would prefer them softer, add more water and leave for a further 12 hours.

Dressing – Add all dressing ingredients to a food processor and blitz up well.  Stew – Arrange/mix the salad and dressing in a big bowl.

Serve

For the final, super healthy boost, top with a generous handful of sprouts (mung bean or green lentil would be great).

We Love It!

After eating this salad, we felt our bellies sing!  Such a vibrant thing and full of only goodness.  The chickpeas really fill you up and you are left with a deeply sated feeling after this, no need for dessert or nibbles between meals.

Foodie Fact

Chillis are originally from Central America and are such a mainstay of Mexican food.  I remember eating raw chillis with my ‘Huevos Rancheros’ most mornings there.  My body seemed to get used to their potent effects.

Spanish and Portugese explorers (conquistadors) were originally responsible for making the chilli a hit on the world stage.   Chillis are well reknowned for their medicinal and health benefits.

Chillis contain an impressive number of plant based compounds that help to prevent disease and promote health.  The spice in chilli, a compound named capsaicin, is a powerful anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic and lowers cholesterol levels.   Chillis are also rich in vitamin C, A and Beta-carotene, these help us counter the effects of free radicals created when the body is under stress or disease.

Chilli heat is measured by ‘Scotville Heat Units’.  Your average sweet pepper will get a 0,  tabasco sauce rates at 2,ooo-5,000, a mexican habanero weighs in at 200,000-500,00, but the hottest chilli in the world is the Naga Bhut Jolokia (or Ghost Pepper) rating at a whopping 1,041,427.  Not surprisingly, the NBJ has been used in manufacturing weapons, being placed in hand grenades and pepper spray!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Detox, Dinner, Dressings, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Lunch, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Raw Cream Cheese

Raw Cream Cheese

This is as good as cream cheese gets, raw wise. I have to say that calling it a cheese is a little off the mark. But it’s as good as the plant world can do and does have the gentle sweetness of the cashew nut.  It certainly boasts more health benefits than your average mozzarella.

We have found this buttery cashew cheese to be a very versatile little number, great to add richness to dressings and as a base for many different dips (the cashew hummus being a real star, watch this space for recipe)

By adding paprika here, you may be able to recreate something of the taste of cheddar cheese.  We have not tried this method out, but it sounds interesting.  You can also have a go with some probiotic powder and nutritional yeast flakes, but this seemed like a longer process.  Time is of the essence this busy summer time.  We have a garden to tend and a lazy cat to stroke!

This will make good sized bowl of lovely raw cheese to enjoy.

The Bits

2 cup of cashew nuts (soaked overnight), juice of a lemon, 1/2 teas good sea salt, 1 tbs good quality olive oil.

Do It 

Place all ingredients (not olive oil) in a food processor and blend until smooth, trickle in the olive oil gradually, it should take around 5 minutes.  You will need to stop and scape the mixture from the sides and start again, this ensures all is blended nicely.  This will keep well in the fridge.

Serve

As you would with any cheese.  We have just used it to make a raw caesar dressing.  It is dense and packed full of richness.  We have also mixed some honey into this cheese and served it spread on fruits.

We Love It!

This is another recipe that we will keep making, it as great base for greater adventures in the raw cooking world.

Cashew Nut Tree

Foodie Fact 

The cashew nut tree is native to the Amazon rainforest and was spread all over the world by Portugese explorers.  The cashew nut hangs of what are called ‘cashew apples’ or the fruit of the cashew tree.

Cashews are high in calories and packed with vitamins, minerals and anti oxidants.  They also contain high levels of dietary fibre which will keep you ticking over…..(for our American readers, this is how we Brits spell ‘fibre’, you may notice other spelling changes during the course of this blog.  We call an Ax and Axe for example).

Categories: Cheese, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Side Dish, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Fair Hill Salad with Vegan Hazelnut Pesto

Local veggies

We live at 1 Bryn Teg (aka the beach house), Bryn Teg translates to English as ‘Fair Hill’.  I call it tiger mountain because of the stripes, but it doesn’t seem to be catching on in these parts.

So Fair Hill it is and this salad reflects what is growing near our little home.  Things are beginning to come into season and our local farm shop’s shelves are beginning to fill (thankfully).  We bought what they had and this delicious salad was born.  The combination of flavours worked surprisingly well with the pesto and it was even better the day later after having a good marinate in the fridge.

Broad beans (Fava beans) are special in any salad, they add a unique, nutty texture.  Texture is one of the key ingredients to a brilliant salad and ingredients should be selected accordingly.  Limp leaves are not the way forward!  Fresh and crunchy is the key, something that is exciting to in the mouth and on the taste buds.

We have been discovering the art of salad making this raw month.  Ingredients and dressings take on a completely different flavour when combined and subtle changes in flavouring can make all the difference.

Making a vegan pesto is tricky, without the pungent cheese, you just cannot recreate that unmistakable flavour.  I think this is a decent attempt, matured cheese is something that vegans just have to give up on.  You can buy those yeast cheese flake things, but I am wary of anything labelled as yeasty and cheesy.  I just don’t like the sound of them.

You do end up using quite a bit of herb in the pesto, but it is well worth it.

The Bits

Salad – 1 cup shelled broad beans, 3 handfuls of chopped sprouting purple brocolli (leaves as well), 1 sweet potato (peeled and grated), 1 courgette (1/2 grated, 1/2 cubed)

Pesto – 4 cups basil leaves, loosely packed, 1 cup fresh parsley, 1 – 2 tsp honey of your choice, 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, 1/4 – 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 cup hazelnuts (soaked overnight, drained and rinsed) 1 – 2 clove (s) fresh garlic, minced

Do It

Salad – Separate your broccoli florets from the stems and leaves, chop up.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Pesto – Chop the basil and parsley until reduced to 1 cup basil and 1/4 cup parsley, blend all ingredients except hazelnuts until smooth.  Add hazelnuts gradually and continue blending, adding more olive oil as needed for desired consistency.  Check seasoning.

Thin down the pesto a little and mix into the salad.

Serve

Dress with a few of the brocolli leaves and a few more spoonfuls of the thick pesto.  Maybe a few leaves of parsley or basil if you are feeling extravagant!

Raw pesto salad

We Love It!

The glory of pesto!  Mix it in yoghurt for a tasty side dish, thin with oil for a dressing, mix with hummus to make the finest hummus ever!  It really is one of the finest things you can have lurking around the fridge.

Foodie Fact

Sometimes referred to as the horse bean (!), broad beans like all legumes are a high in protein and low in fat.  A really meaty legume!  They are packed with vitamins, fibre and have a high iron content.

Fair Hill Salad with Vegan Hazelnut Pesto

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Dressings, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Local food, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments
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