Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Baltzersen's Oxford Street Harrogate 24th August 2016

Baltzersen's is a Scandinavian inspired cafe during the day, which turns into Norse a relaxed fine dining restaurant, in the evening.   There is plenty of outside seating, which was packed when I visited, on a rare sunny day.   The only reason for my visit, was purely that they offer vegan options, which I notice is an increasing and welcome trend.

There is a minimalist feel to the place inside, but it has a relaxed and calm atmosphere, so nice to chill out.   I love they have a help yourself to water policy, on the counter near where I was sitting, one slightly sparkling, the other still, it was delicious, no surprise really, Harrogate water is always good.

I think the menu changes periodically, but I had my eye on the all day avocado on toast dish, as I love avocado.

The dish looked good, when it arrived on its small plate, but I was disappointed, it was rather skimpy and if I had chosen it as a breakfast option, after a night out, it certainly would not fill a gap.

The toast was tiny, more avocado was required and the dish needed a kick of something, as the lingonberry ketchup was mild for my taste, as was the garlic aioli.

However credit where its due, for making the vegan garlic aioli with aquafaba, I have never seen that on a menu anywhere.   My husbands sandwich came with more components on the plate, including potato salad, pickled girolles, charred baby gem and at only a £1 more than the avocado dish, was better value for money and more substantial.   Baltzersens told me, that with the avocado dish being a breakfast option, accompaniments like salad were not appropriate.   However the entire dish was cold, even the roasted tomatoes, so not sure it would be detrimental to the finished dish.

I hope they continue their vegan options and develop them, as I like to support independents and when in Harrogate again, I would love to try Norse, who offer a four course vegan menu, with two days notice.

Hoxton North Coffee Royal Parade Harrogate 24th August 2016

I had to visit Hoxton North Coffee on a recent trip to Harrogate, to sample their vegan cakes, that I had heard about on Twitter.   I was not disappointed.

The place itself is only small, but quirky and I liked the decor, the chilled atmosphere and the friendly staff.

I had a black Americano coffee and was torn between a sugar free banana and walnut loaf or sticky stem ginger loaf, I opted for the former.

The coffee was spot on, I love my morning coffee and it gave me my daily fix.   As for the banana and walnut loaf, it was so delicious, moist probably due to the banana and full of walnuts, I loved it.

I would definitely return to Hoxton North Coffee, purely based on their vegan cakes options and in any case, I prefer to support independents, rather than the big chains.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Mushroom Bolognese

I saw Vegan Food & Living in W H Smith,  but normally do not buy magazines, however after flicking through, I was off to the check out and consequently subscribed.  

I cannot recommend it enough, packed with tons of vegan information and fabulous recipes and it was worth it, just for this fantastic recipe.

1 tbsp olive oil
800 g chestnut mushrooms finely minced
Few sprigs of thyme
1 onion finely chopped
2 carrots finely chopped
1 celery stick finely chopped
3 tbsp tomato puree
125 ml vegan red wine
250 ml water
½ tsp sherry vinegar
Fresh basil

Serves 4

Saute the mushrooms in the oil for 20 mins, until all the liquid has evaporated, add the thyme and cook for a further minute.

Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook for 20 mins, to cook the vegetables, until really soft.

Add the tomato puree, combine with the vegetables and cook for 2-3 mins, stirring to avoid sticking.

Pour the wine into the pan and cook for another minute, to burn off the alcohol.

Add the water, stir well to combine and cook covered for 30 mins, on a low heat, to really concentrate the flavours.   Season with plenty salt and pepper to taste.

Mix in the sherry vinegar and serve with your pasta of choice, in my case, penne with plenty of fresh basil.

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.