(M)any Vegetable Soup with Marmite Broth (v)

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Also known as ‘wtf-is-there-for-lunch’ soup and ‘try-and-make-the-teen-eat-something-healthy-today’ soup…

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Basically you can put any vegetables you want in this. Today’s soup is what was left in the fridge and a delicious looking savoy cabbage from the local farm shop. On that note, I got all these veggies for £9!! Love my farm shop!

 

For four portions you need

  • Mixed vegetables of your choice. I used 2 small leeks, 2 sticks celery, 3 small carrots, a small head of broccoli, 1/4 cauliflower, 2 savoy cabbage leaves.
  • 1.25 litres veg stock
  • 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tsp marmite
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Chop/dice the vegetables into roughly equal sized chunks.
  2. Add to a pan with the stock and chickpeas. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 3-4 mins until everything is tender but not over cooked.
  3. Season and add the marmite. Adjust to taste.
  4. Serve. I had mine with melted violife slices for vegan ‘cheese’ on toast and piri piri chutney. Yum.

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Avocado Toast (v)

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I’ve come late to avocado toast. And now I can’t stop eating it  especially when it’s topped with chipotle chilli flakes and grilled until the tomatoes melt  I prefer to use sourdough or seeded bread, but use whatever floats your boat. 

For two portions you need:

  • 4 slices of toast
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes
  • salt, pepper and chilli flakes
  1. Scoop the avocado out of the skin and either roughly mash in a bowl or if the avocado is very ripe, squodge directly onto the toast.
  2. Top with sliced tomato and season well.
  3. Grill for about 5 mins until the tomatoes are hot.
  4. Scoff with optional extra chilli sauce (everything tastes better with hot sauce!)
  5. Level up in hipster vegan points and grow your beard an extra 1 cm for each slice consumed…

Creamy Broccoli Pasta Bake (v)

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I had the most delicious creamy, garlicky pasta bake in an Italian in Doncaster of all places a few years ago. I’ve been trying to recreate the recipe ever since. This is the closest I have got. If you’re veggie add some melting cheese to it before baking. I can’t stand vegan cheese so didn’t bother to try and replicate that aspect!

For two portions you need

  • 150g pasta
  • 1 head broccoli cut into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 25g vegan spread
  • 25g plain flour
  • 200ml plant milk
  • 100ml white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp vegan stock powder
  1. Begin by cooking the pasta as per the packet instructions. Add the broccoli to the pasta for the last 3-4 mins of cooking time. Drain, but reserve 3-4 tbsp of the cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile make the sauce by putting everything else into a pan and stirring until it comes to the boil and thickens. Season to taste.
  3. Mix the sauce into the pasta and broccoli pan and then transfer to an ovenproof dish. Bake in a hot oven for 20-30 mins until the top layer is browned. Serve with a tomato salad.

Celebration Cake 2017

I’ve tweaked and tested and tried various versions of celebration fruit cakes over the last twenty years. Some of them have been a bit dry, some of them too boozy, others too dark and treacly. I needed an excellent cake for the winter solstice this year, and it was also a perfect opportunity to try out a new recipe ahead of our wedding next year (yes, even in a Christmas cake blog post I can get a mention of my forthcoming wedding in, give yourself a shiny*).

I tested this bake at work as the quantities below made more than my 8″ square tin could hold so I was able to bake a skinny 7″ round cake too. Everyone who tried it in the office declared it delicious and I don’t think they were just being polite.

You can veganise this cake by using dairy free spread in lieu of the butter and replacing the eggs with flax egg.

My cake based on Nigella’s Traditional Christmas Cake from her Nigella Christmas book.

* Watch this if you don’t know what on earth I am going on about…

For an 8″ square cake which will yield 16-24 slices depending on greed you need:

  • 1kg of mixed dried fruit: currants, raisins and sultanas. I used up what was in my larder but it worked out at about 350g of each type of dried fruit
  • 200g mixed peel
  • 250g glace cherries
  • 300ml each of brandy and dark rum
  • 300g butter or vegan spread
  • 180g light brown muscovado sugar
  • grated zest of two lemons and two oranges
  • 4 large eggs or the equivalent in flax egg
  • 2 tbsps treacle
  • 450g plain flour (add a little baking powder if using flax egg)
  • 1/2 freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  1. Start by placing the dried fruit, peel and cherries in a LARGE bowl and pour over the booze. Mix thoroughly then cover with clingfilm and leave in a cool place (not the fridge) for 2 weeks. Stir every couple of days to rotate the fruit and ensure even soaking.
  2. Make the cake by creaming the butter/spread with the sugar. Then add the eggs/egg replacement and flour in alternate spoonfuls to prevent curdling. Add the grated zest, treacle and spices. Mix well.
  3. Add the soaked fruit. Leave any remaining liquid in the bottom of the soaking bowl until you know if you need it. Sometimes the batter is runny enough without it, sometimes you need to add some of the liquid to let it down a bit. This stage is difficult as the batter is stiff and the bowl will be very full. Roll up your sleeves and get your hands in to ensure even fruit distribution if necessary.
  4. Scrape the mix into a lined 8″ square tin. Fill to 1cm from the top as the cake won’t rise too much whilst baking. Smooth the surface and make a little dip in the middle to compensate for any rise.
  5. Cover the tin with a square of foil with a hole in the middle to prevent the top of the cake from catching and the fruit burning during the cooking.
  6. Bake the cake in a pre-heated oven at 150 degrees (130 if fan) for 2 hours 45 mins to 3 hours 15 mins. Take the foil lid off about 45 mins before the end of the baking time to allow the top to brown evenly.
  7. Once cooked LEAVE TO COOL IN THE TIN!!! I learnt this the hard way this year when I turned it out too quickly thinking that would help it not sweat and scarily huge cracks appeared on the bottom. It was rescued by putting quickly back into the tin!
  8. Once cooled, wrap well and store or marzipan and ice. There’s no need to feed this cake as all the booze is locked inside the soaked fruit. It’s safe to give to children however as the booze cooks off as the cake bakes. If you want you can replace the booze with orange juice for a fresher tasting cake.

Black Sesame Tofu (v)

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Oh tofu, how much do I love you? I created this savoury tofu to top some vegetable noodles we had on Sunday. The texture was nicely chewy without being rubbery and the taste was deep, savoury and satisfying.

For 4 portions you need

  • 1 396g pack cauldron tofu, drained and pressed for 4-5 hours (I have an awesome tofu press which cost a fortune but honestly it’s BRILLIANT!)
  • 1″ chunk of ginger, finely grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 3 tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp white rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp oil
  1. Begin by dicing the tofu into 5mm cubes.
  2. Heat a wok until smoking hot and add the oil. Toss the tofu in the hot oil for about 10 mins until it is lightly browned all over.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, aside from the sesame seeds, and cook until the sauce has reduced into a thick sticky glaze that coats the tofu.
  4. Toss through the sesame seeds and serve. It’s equally delicious hot or cold.

 

Smoked Tofu and Charred Broccoli Salad (v)

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We drove home from a lovely holiday in the Lakes on Friday and made the regular stop at the most middle class of services, Tebay. I was delighted to find a really good selection of vegan sandwiches and salads available. I was less delighted to find how much they cost… I can’t say their version of this was worth the £5 price tag, but it was tasty and inspired me to make this which we all scoffed, even the teen.

For five portions you need:

Salad

  • 200g pack thin rice noodles
  • 1 pack smoked tofu (taifun is my favourite)
  • 1 pack beansprouts
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 100g snow peas, thinly sliced
  • 150g tenderstem broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 pack fresh coriander
  • 1/2 pack watercress, very roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • Toasted sesame seeds

Dressing

  • 1 red chilli, diced
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1/4 cup light soya sauce
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar (or use mirin instead of the vinegar and sweetener)
  1. Soak the noodles in boiling water for about 10 mins. Drain, run through with cold water and then squeeze out any excess water. Toss through 1 tsp sesame oil to stop them sticking and place onto the serving plates.
  2. Layer up grated carrot, beansprouts, shredded watercress, the sliced chilli and some roughly chopped watercress onto the plates.
  3. Combine all the dressing ingredients and mix. Add the remaining coriander, chopped quite finely to the dressing.
  4. Char the broccoli in a griddle pan until tender and lightly charred. Add to the serving plates.
  5. Slice the tofu into thin slices and heat in a hot pan until lightly golden and starting to crisp. Add to the plates, pour over the dressing, sprinkle over some extra sesame seeds and enjoy.

Treacle Tart (v)

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I posted a pic of this on instagram (as usual…) and said it needed just four ingredients. According to my brother those are sugar, sugar, flour and nommmy nom. The actual four ingredients are listed below, but suffice to say there’s a lot of sugar and the resulting combination does indeed lead to nommy nom. Make it!

For 8-10 portions you need

  • 1 pack pre-made ready rolled sweet pastry (checking it’s SFV natch)
  • 100g fresh soft breadcrumbs
  • 350g golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
  1. Allow the pastry to come up to room temperature before unrolling or it will crack. Remove from the backing paper and place in a loose bottomed flan tin.
  2. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs. Drip over the lemon juice. Pour the golden syrup on top of everything – I put the tin on the scales and weigh from the jar of syrup to make this stage as mess free as possible! DO NOT MIX!!! You do not need to mix, just leave everything as is and it will sort itself out in the oven when baking.
  3. Place in a pre-heated oven at 170 degree and bake for 25-30 mins until the pastry is light golden brown and you have no soggy bottoms.
  4. Serve with vegan ice cream/creme fraiche or whatever you fancy. It’s also nice with some tart fresh raspberries or blueberries to offset the teeth melting sweetness. Enjoy 😀

Rose Elliot’s Lentil Croquettes (v)

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After a week on holiday eating and drinking whatever we wanted, I thought it was about time to get back into the kitchen and prepare something vaguely nutritious… These hit the spot. I love red lentils but usually just lob them into a dhal. I forget how lovely they are in their own right.

Rose’s recipe is very simple to follow. I added 2 tsp of marigold stock powder to the lentil cooking water as I like to boost the flavour a little. The mixture was also a little sloppy after I added the lemon juice and onions so I added 100g fresh breadcrumbs to stiffen it a little before shaping into croquettes. They were delicious hot for our tea and also nice cold for my lunch the following day. Enjoy!

Biriyani? Kichari? Kedgeree? Rice, Lentils and Vegetables! (v)

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I’m not sure what to call this. Is it a biriyani? A kedgeree? It’s rice and lentils and vegetables cooked in a spicy Indian base at any rate. And it’s utterly delicious, both hot straight from the pan and cold the next day for an easy work lunch. Add a hardboiled egg if you want to boost the protein and you aren’t vegan. Or leave it as is. You can choose what spices and veggies to use, the golden rule to follow is the rice + lentils to water ratio to ensure it all cooks properly without sticking or going gloopy. I served ours with minted almond yogurt and some lip puckeringly sour lime pickle 😀

For 3-4 portions you need

  • 225g rice – I use easy cook white as we still have 6kgs left from an over zealous Costco trip…
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 50g red lentils
  • 2 red chillies, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 6-8 cardamom pods
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2″ piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 cauliflower broken into florets
  • 1/2 pack fresh spinach
  • 650ml stock
  • handful cashew nuts, toasted in 1 tbsp oil
  • fresh coriander to garnish
  • 1 tsp mint sauce
  • 4 tbsp almond yogurt (or any yogurt)
  • lime pickle
  1. Begin by crushing the dry spices, apart from the turmeric and cinnamon, in a pestle and mortar until roughly ground.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan and toast the spices until they sizzle and start to release their aromas. Add the turmeric.
  3. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, carrots and chillies. Saute, covered, for 3-4 mins until softened.
  4. Add the rice and lentils to the pan and cook for 1-2 mins over a moderate heat until they are toasted.
  5. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Stir well and cover, reducing the heat to low. Cook for 10 mins.
  6. Add the cauliflower to the pan, mixing well. You might need to add a little more water at this stage if things are looking dry. Cook for a further 5 mins until the rice and lentils are pretty much done.
  7. Once the rice, lentils and vegetables are nearly done, turn off the heat and stir through the fresh spinach leaves. Cover and leave to sit for 3-4 mins until the rice is fluffy, the spinach is wilted and everything else is cooked to perfection.
  8. Mix the mint sauce into the yogurt, toast the cashews until golden brown and serve.