Thursday, 18 August 2016

Crispy Mushroom & Star Anise Pancakes

This recipe is inspired by chef Simon Rimmer at Greens restaurant in Didsbury, where his version of the dish, is permanently on the menu.   However I had no five spice powder, no Chinese pancakes, no oyster mushrooms and no plums.   I improvised and was very pleased with the results.

150 g chestnut mushrooms
35 g cornflour
1 star anise finely ground
4 spring onions
¼ cucumber peeled
Plum sauce
6-8 rice paper wrappers
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp rapeseed oil

Serves 2

Cut the spring onions and cucumber into thin battons.   I am not keen on raw onion, so I lightly cooked the spring onions, in 1 tsp oil, until soft.

Put the cornflour into a bowl, with the star anise and plenty salt and pepper.   Quarter the mushrooms, add to the cornflour mixture and mix well.

Shake off any excess flour off the mushrooms and fry in the remaining oil, until crisp and golden.

Prepare the rice paper wrappers, as per the packet instructions, normally soaking in hot water for about 1 min, until soft and then drain on a cloth, to remove the water.

Drizzle on some plum sauce, add cucumber, spring onions and mushrooms, fold the rice paper wrapper round the filling and enjoy.

I sometimes struggle to find rice paper wrappers, so another option is crisp iceberg lettuce leaves.   I also like to serve a chilli dipping sauce on the side, to satisfy my love of spice.

Vegetable Samosas

I love samosas and prefer to make everything myself, so decided to have a go at making them and I was very pleased with the result.   I had no curry powder, so used what spices were in the cupboard and you can vary the vegetables, I just used what I had.  

½ pack of Jus Rol filo pastry
1 onion
2 carrots
1 leek finely chopped
1 potato
1 tbsp curry leaves
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp coriander leaves
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper

Makes 14

Grate the carrot and onion into a pan, add the leek and 1½ tbsp oil.  

I baked the potato, as I was having one for lunch and so added the flesh to the pan, with the spices and plenty seasoning.

Cook for 15-20 mins, until the carrot, leek and onion are really soft and all the spices have released their flavour.

Put into a dish to cool, whilst you prepare the filo pastry.

Filo pastry dries out really quickly, so lay on a cloth, with the short side facing you and cover with a cloth.

When the filling has cooled, cut the filo pastry into four equal strips from left to right, take one and cover the rest with the cloth.

I always cover the counter top with clingfilm, because turmeric stains and I always wear plastic gloves, otherwise your hands will be yellow for days.   Lay the filo as in the photo below and place a teaspoon of filling in the left hand corner.   Brush some oil on the bottom and right side of the filo, which helps the pastry to stick together.

Carefully seal the edges, then brush the rest of the filo with oil, then fold the triangle upwards, pressing any air out as you go.

At this stage, fold the triangle left diagonally, with the final fold upwards, to make a neat triangle, with the filling completely enclosed in the pastry.

At this stage, I froze the samosas on a baking tray or cook at 180º for 15-20 mins, until crisp and golden.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Panzanella Salad

This is the best version of panzanella ever, thanks to Simon Rimmer, owner of Greens Restaurant and author of The Accidental Vegetarian and I have made loads of his recipes and luckily got my copy signed by the man himself, on my last visit.

1 kg plum tomatoes
2 red peppers
2 yellow peppers
100 g capers
12 large green olives
1 stale ciabatta loaf
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove crushed
250 ml olive oil
Salt and pepper
Handful of basil

Serves 6

Skin the tomatoes by putting a cross in the top, place in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for about 2-3 mins.   Drain and cover with cold water to cool, so you can handle them.

The skins will easily peel off.   Cut into quarters, scoop the seeds into a sieve over a bowl and press to release the tomato juice.   Put the tomato into a separate bowl.

Put the peppers onto a baking tray in a 200º oven and cook until blackened, then put into a plastic bag and leave to cool.

Deseed and remove the skin from the peppers, cut into pieces and add to the tomatoes, with the capers and olives.  Add any juices from the peppers, to the reserved tomato juice.

Tear the bread into big chunks and put into a bowl.

Add the vinegar, garlic and oil to the tomato and pepper juices, season well and whisk to combine thoroughly.   I lightly cooked the garlic in a tablespoon of the oil beforehand, as I do not like raw garlic and I reduced the amount, as the recipe says five cloves, so if you like garlic!

Pour over the bread and leave for about one hour, so the bread can soak up all the lovely flavours.

Combine the tomatoes and pepper mixture, with the bread and gently mix in the basil and serve.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Roots Vegetarian Cafe George Street Lancaster 9th August 2016

On a trip to Morecambe, we decided to stop off in Lancaster on the way, after I found Roots Vegetarian Cafe, whilst looking for places to stop for a coffee and cake.

Roots is bright, airy and modern inside, with a lovely relaxed feel to the place and an open kitchen, which I really like.

The menu includes breakfast and lunch choices, with vegan and gluten free options, as well as takeaway and a specials board.

I had an Americano coffee and a piece of vegan, gluten free carrot cake, it was absolutely delicious, so moist, yet so light, I could do with the recipe it was that good.

I had a quick chat with owner Dawn, a very friendly lady, who was busy preparing that day's lunchtime salads and soups, so everything is made fresh on site.   I will definitely return, as I would like to try some of the other vegan options.   Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Pot Kettle Black Barton Arcade Manchester 3rd August 2016

Pot Kettle Black is an independent coffee house, which I prefer to support, than the big chains and has a great location in Barton Arcade.   I love the signage on the windows outside, so had to take a photo.

The place has had a refurbishment, since my last visit and looks fantastic, a cool kind of place for a coffee and cake, with friends or chilling on your own.

They had vegan brunch options on the menu, sadly one of my photos came out blurry, but vegans are happily catered for.

I ordered a large Americano and I managed to bag the last vegan brownie, shows how popular vegan options are for sure.

The brownie was chocolate city, with lots of pecans and yet it was not dense at all, a really light texture, no idea who makes them, but a big thumbs up.

I will definitely visit PKB again, as places offering vegan options, deserve our support, so highly recommended.