Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Kale Apple and Walnut Salad

I found this recipe in the Booths supermarket "The Great Northern Christmas 2015" book, so I made it as a starter for our Christmas dinner and I am glad I did, it is a fantastic recipe.

2 large carrots cut into long batons
1 tsp onion seeds
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
50 g pumpkin seeds
50 g walnuts
350 g kale
2 apples cut into matchsticks
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 180º.   Place the carrots in a bowl and toss with the onion seeds and rapeseed oil.   Spread on a baking tray and roast for 5 mins, then add the seeds and walnuts and roast for a further 2-3 mins until toasted and golden.

Add the kale to the tray and toss well with the carrot mixture, then cook for a further 10 mins until the kale is crispy, then remove from the oven and tip into a bowl and toss in the apple.   Whisk the cider vinegar and olive oil together, add to the bowl, season with plenty of salt and pepper and combine thoroughly.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Mac & Greens

This recipe is another one from Anna Jones who writes for the Sunday Times and I just left the Pecorino cheese out to veganise it.

100g gluten free fusilli (I use Doves Farm)
1 large bunch of basil
25 g oats
100 g kale
zest of ½ lemon
½ tsp of chilli flakes
3 tbsp olive oil
250 g cherry tomatoes
75 g toasted almonds

Serves 2

Heat the oven to 200°.   Cook the macaroni until it is very al dente, reserving a mug of the cooking water and return the pasta to the pan.   Put half the basil, oats, kale, lemon zest, chilli and 1½ tbsp oil into a blender and blitz to a rough paste.   Season to taste and mix thoroughly.

Rinse the processor and add the cherry tomatoes and almonds, remaining basil and oil and blitz to a smooth paste season and blitz again.

Add the tomato mixture to the pasta and stir well, add a little of the reserved pasta water little by little, you want a sauce the consistency of double cream.   Do not worry if it seems very runny, as the pasta will soak it all up in the oven.

Transfer the pasta to an ovenproof dish and spread the kale mixture evenly over the top.

Bake for 20-25 mins until the topping is crunchy, then remove from the oven and wait 10 mins before serving.

I served the mac and greens with a fennel and avocado salad and it was delicious, definitely one to make again.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Crispy Cauliflower Pasta

I was given this recipe by my friend Joe, who had seen it in the Sunday Times magazine, so thanks Joe its fantastic!

700 g cauliflower chopped
80 g pine nuts
60 ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 tbsp oregano
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp chilli  flakes
400 g gluten free fusilli (I used Doves Farm)
Salt and pepper

Serves 4

Put the cauliflower and pine nuts into a food processor and blitz until finely chopped.

Put the olive oil in a pan, add the cauliflower, lemon  zest, oregano, garlic and chilli flakes, season with plenty salt and pepper and cook until the cauliflower is golden brown.

Whilst the cauliflower is cooking, cook the pasta until al dente, drain and toss with the cauliflower mixture.

I served the pasta dish with some lightly fried broccoli, which worked really well, but you could serve it with some lightly fried greens or kale.   I love this recipe and the humble cauliflower really makes it, so I will definitely be making it again and again.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Nishta Restaurant Prijeko bb Dubrovnik 28th September 2015

I had done some research, as to vegan options in Dubrovnik and Nishta was definitely the place to go, after reading reviews on both Happy Cow and Tripadvisor.   It is easy to find in the old town and I am glad we got there early for lunch, as it is a busy, busy place, with tables reserved for later diners.

The menu is vast with many vegan options, so it was hard to decide what to have, but I went for the Bar Bea seitan burger with naan bread and sweet potato sticks and it did not disappoint, it was fantastic.

I was far too full for a dessert, but if the main course was anything to go by, I do not doubt the desserts would be as good.   If in Dubrovnik, do not miss out on a visit to Nishta, or you will regret it and as for the price, well a meal for two with delicious local sparkling water was 182.00 kuna, which I worked out to be about £18.00.

Rosy's Bakery Paleologou Corfu Town 27th September 2015

I stumbled across Rosy Soussis's two bakeries on 37 & 71 Paleologou by chance, whilst visiting Corfu Town on a cruise.   I first of all saw the sign below and so had to go in and have a chat, as I could not believe I had found vegan baclava.

I was most impressed by Rosy's knowledge of the vegan diet, she explained her vegan baclava was made with olive oil and sugar syrup, to replace butter and honey.   I also enquired as to why she had begun making a vegan version in the first place and she just said "why not" explaining that she had been asked so many times by visitors and it was a big seller.

If you are ever in Corfu Town, you have to visit Rosy's Bakery and sample the baclava, it is awesome.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Spicy Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

I have never eaten traditional "wings" but found this recipe courtesy of Peta and is an interesting and delicious way to serve cauliflower.

100 g chickpea flour
210 ml almond milk
1 garlic clove crushed (Peta's recipe used garlic powder which I did not have)
Salt and pepper
Pinch of hot chilli powder
1 cauliflower
100 ml hot chilli sauce
1 tbsp olive oil

Separate the cauliflower into florets of similar size.   Sieve the flour into a bowl with the chilli powder, garlic and a good grind of salt and pepper.

Add the milk to the bowl and whisk until you have a smooth batter, add the cauliflower florets and thoroughly coat them with the batter.

Put onto a baking tray and roast at 200° for 20-25 mins.  Mix the chilli sauce with the olive oil, take the cauliflower out of the oven, add the chilli sauce, mix well and return to the oven for 20 mins until browned and crisp.   I have no deep fat fryer and the wings are far superior if you fry them, but baking them still makes for an enjoyable dish.

Serve with your choice of dip, which in my case is more hot chilli sauce!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Almond Feta Cheese

I have never been a cheese lover, even before I became vegan, but this is one of my favourite cheese recipes courtesy of Maple Spice which I make regularly.   I vary the flavourings, you can add herbs like oregano or thyme, spices like chilli, sun dried tomatoes, extra garlic or whatever you fancy.

145 g ground almonds
60 ml lemon juice
115 ml water
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 tsp salt

Put all the ingredients into a blender and blitz until well combined, it mixes easily with using ground almonds.

Line a sieve with muslin and spoon the mixture into the centre, gather the corners together, secure with an elastic band or freezer tie, then place the sieve over a bowl.

Leave for at least 12 hours or overnight in the fridge, to allow the liquid to drain, remove from the muslin and place on a greased baking tray smooth side up.

Bake in a preheated over at 180° for 35-40 mins until golden, slightly cracked on top, firm to the touch and leave to cool.

I love strong smoky flavours, so made a smoked almond feta, by adding a teaspoon of smoked paprika to the mixture, which I think is my favourite flavour of all.

Thursday, 16 July 2015


400 g can chickpeas
165 g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour

Heat the oven to 110°c.

I researched vegan meringues on the internet, as people had failures due to the ratio of drained chickpea water (aqua faba) and sugar which should be exactly 1:1.33, so to make perfect meringues I use 123 g aqua faba to 165 g sugar

Put the aqua faba into a bowl and whisk until it starts to form soft peaks, scraping the mixture from the the sides of the bowl, to ensure all the mixture gets whisked.

Gradually add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking well to avoid any graininess in the mixture, until the mixture is glossy and stands in peaks, then whisk in the cornflour.  The recognised way to tell if meringue mixture is ready, is to hold the bowl over your head, although you can just hold the bowl upside down.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and draw rings as big as you want the meringues to be with a pencil.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe within the pencil lines on the parchment paper, to help give an even shape, although my piping skills are pretty weak, so mine are a little scruffy.   I also piped a few small rosettes to use for decorating dishes.

Bake for 2 hours then turn off the oven and resist all temptation to open the oven door and allow to cool for a good 4 hours.

Remove from the oven, peel off the parchment paper and store in an airtight container or freeze for up to a month.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Whaletail Cafe Penny Street Lancaster 1st July 2015

I have been to Whaletail Cafe many years ago, but on a recent trip to Morecambe, due to Network Rail problems, found myself at Lancaster train station with time on my hands and a hungry tummy. Whaletail is 5 minutes from the station and remembering how good it was last time, it was a no brainer rather than standing at the station, with nothing vegan to eat at Costa Coffee bar a packet of dried mango!!

Whaletail Cafe is on the second floor and in the same building as Single Step Wholefoods another must visit place for vegans, as it is packed with everything you need.   Whaletail has a lovely cosy feel and I love the artwork over the counter made up of kitchen utensils in the shape of a whale and they have a big specials board as you walk in and a varied menu including vegan options.

I only wanted a light lunch as I was dining later that day, so I chose the salad bowl which is always vegan and consisted of chickpeas in a curry mayo, carrot and raisin salad, wild rice, lettuce leaves, tomato, pasta salad and lentils with mint.   They also have a fabulous cake display many being vegan and offered vegan crumble with either vegan ice-cream or custard.

I have decided to make a second trip to Lancaster, in the not too distant future, to sample their vegan breakfast straight off the train, do a bit of shopping and then back for tea and cakes!   They even have outdoor space which is great on a sunny day.   Highly recommended.