Beet Greens with Walnuts

 

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It’s not usually a good idea to buy fresh beetroot with the leaves attached, as the leaves make the beetroot lose water more quickly than if they were removed. However, yesterday I happened to find some at a nearby health food shop that looked as if they’d just been pulled out of the ground that morning. The leaves were turgid and upright, and far too nice to just chop off and bin, so here’s the recipe I used. Leave the stalks attached to the leaves, their gorgeous purple-red colour means they’re full of anthocyanins, so very healthy, as well as great contrast with the dark leaves.

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 bunch beetroot leaves, chiffonaded

50g walnuts, chopped

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

 

Heat the oil in a saute pan, then fry the onion until translucent. Add the mustard seeds, the Dijon mustard, the sliced beetroot greens and stir thoroughly.Cover and cook gently for about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped walnuts and nutmeg, then cook for another couple of minutes to warm them through.

Serve as it is, or stir through a tablespoon of soya cream for a more indulgent dish.

 

 

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Smoothie maker

I finally succumbed to the temptation of buying a smoothie maker, after years of telling myself it’s better to eat the fruit/veg as it comes. I was watching a programme on BBC2 where they tested cheap smoothie makers against the £100+ ones on the market, and the Salter Nutri Pro apparently blends as well as the expensive ones do. The show said it cost £40, but I could only find it at that price at Wilko. Guessing that despite the 750 they had in stock, that if everyone heard about the review on the show they’d run out quickly, I ordered one and picked it up this week.

I’m so glad I did. I’ve only tried three recipes so far, and they were all lovely, but my favourite one is the one I just made up this afternoon, and here it is:

Apple and cinnamon smoothie

  • 1 eating apple, cored
  • 1 banana , peeled
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, powder
  • Approx 250ml cashew milk

And you just blend until smooth! Delish. I used cashew milk this time because I happened to have some in the fridge I wanted to use up, but I’m guessing that with oat milk, and perhaps a tablespoon of oats it will taste even better!

 

 

 

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Cooking the Books

This gallery contains 6 photos.

The Vegan Bible by Marie Laforêt In an attempt to justify the number of cookbooks I can’t resist buying I have decided that I’m going to pick one occasionally, and review it by cooking a selection of recipes from it. First … Continue reading

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Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup with cumin and ginger

This soup is deliciously thick, warm and filling. It is one of the few soups I’ve ever had that didn’t make me feel hungry afterwards if I didn’t eat it with bread. Consequently it is fantastic for these cold winter days when you really need something filling, but still haven’t succeeded in losing all that Christmas weight!

1 tblsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
500g carrots, topped, tailed, scrubbed and roughly chopped
500g sweet potatoes peeled and roughly chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
2tsp ground cumin
2tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp minced ginger or a walnut sized chunk of fresh ginger, chopped
400g can chick peas, drained

Heat the oil in the bottom of a large saucepan. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 10 mins until softened and translucent. Throw in the chopped carrots and sweet potato and stir around for a couple of minutes before adding the stock. Bring to the boil and add the cumin, coriander, ginger and chick peas. Lower the heat and simmer, covered for about 20-30 minutes. (It depends how roughly you’ve chopped the carrots and sweet potatoes. the smaller you cut them the faster they will cook.)

When the veg are soft, put the whole thing through a blender. Warm up before serving if required and garnish with a few fresh coriander leaves. IMG_0988

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Lemon Cookies

I have to admit here that these are not my favourite cookies. However, every time I make them people seem to really love them and find them quite moreish. They are really simple to make, so they get my thumbs up from that point of view.:)

 

100g margarine

100g shortening (e.g. Trex)

150g sugar

½ tsp lemon extract or zest of one lemon

Juice of two lemons

300g plain flour

 

Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees C, Gas Mark 5. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

Cream together the margarine and shortening in a large mixing bowl.

Stir in the sugar, then add the lemon extract or zest and the juice. Add the flour and mix thoroughly until you get a nice, mouldable dough. Add more lemon juice if necessary to get the right consistency.

Roll into 24 small golf balls. Flatten slightly as you arrange them on the baking trays.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges start to go brown.

Cool on a wire baking tray.

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Spicy Parsnip and Apple Soup

This is a lovely, warming winter soup. One of the things I love about soup is that it doesn’t usually create much washing up, one pan and a blender, and sometimes not even the blender. Served with crusty bread, preferably home made, this is delicious for lunch.

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2tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp turmeric
600ml vegetable stock
500g parsnips, peeled and chopped into about 1cm chunks
2 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
250ml soya cream
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion until soft and translucent. Add the spices to the pan and cook for one minute.

Add the stock, the parsnip and the apple. Bring to the boil, then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Blend the soup to a smooth puree. Return to the saucepan to reheat, and stir in most of the soya cream, retaining a little to swirl on top when it’s in the bowl. Season to taste.

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Let’s go Retro Chocolate Cheesecake

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I haven’t put the recipe on here yet, but I have a penchant for a really simple chocolate pudding and today I thought I’d have a go at tarting it up into a retro 70s style chocolate cheesecake, complete with gaudy glace cherries. I don’t like biscuits very much – well, that’s not strictly true. I DO like biscuits, what I don’t like is the fact that once I’ve opened a packet I can’t resist eating far too many, so I don’t buy them very often! I thought this would be a good way of making sure I didn’t dunk the whole packet when I opened a packet of delicious Dove’s Farm Digestives I’d picked up from Birmingham Vegan Fair.

Ingredients

150g digestive biscuits
75g vegan margarine
25g cocoa powder
100g icing sugar (you need two lots of 50g)
25ml soya cream or milk
225g tub Tofutti Cream Cheese, Original
400ml can Coconut cream
20g vegan chocolate, grated
6 glace cherries, halved

Cut a circle of baking parchment or greaseproof paper and line the bottom of a shallow 7″ cake tin (preferably with a loose base).
Crush the digestive biscuits. The easiest way to do this is to put them in a polythene bag and just whack them with a rolling pin. (I don’t want to get political, but imagine they are Owen Paterson and you are a badger!)
Melt the margarine. This takes about 40 seconds in my microwave. You only need the margarine to be liquid, it doesn’t need to get hot, and the cooler you keep it, the quicker the base will set.
Stir the melted margarine into the crushed digestives then spread evenly in the cake tin. Pop this into the fridge to cool while you get on with the rest of the cheesecake.

Put the cocoa powder, 50g of the icing sugar and the soya cream into a bowl and stir. It will be very dry at this point, but I find doing it this way helps keep the clouds of icing sugar away when you stir in the cream cheese, which is what you do next. Beat the cheese in thoroughly, until the filling is evenly coloured. (This section is the simple chocolate pudding I mentioned in the introduction.) Spread over the cold biscuit base.

If you’re doing this recipe in warm weather it might be a good idea to put the can of coconut cream in the fridge for a few hours before you start this, because you need to make sure it’s NOT well mixed. Open the can and scoop the solid layer on top into a mixing bowl and pour the liquid into another container to use in another recipe – it tastes deliciously coconutty, but isn’t any good for whipping. Add the remaining 50g icing sugar to the solid coconut cream in a bowl and whisk with an electric whisk.

Slather (Love that word:) ) the whipped coconut cream over the chocolate filling. Finish by sprinkling the grated chocolate over the top and adding the glace cherries. And for a really retro feel, serve on a paper doily.

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Tiramisu Cup Cakes

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Apparently Tiramisu comes from the Italian for pick/lift me up and I decided to make some of these to eat after I’d taken the Christmas decorations down, which is just when I need a bit of a pick-me-up. They were just what was required, tasting rich and indulgent, but they won’t do any post-Christmas diets any favours!

There are three parts to this recipe, the sponge, the coffee and the icing so I’ll split the ingredients and method into three sections.

The sponge

2tbsp milled flax seeds
6tbsp hot water
80g vegan margarine
280 caster sugar
240g plain flour
1/4tsp salt
1tbsp baking powder
1tsp cider vinegar
240 ml soya milk
1 tsp vanilla essence

Pre heat the oven to 190 degrees.

Mix the flax seeds with the hot water and stir thoroughly. Allow to thicken and cool while you prepare the other sponge ingredients, and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Beat the butter and sugar together, then add the remaining ingredients and beat together with a balloon whisk until it is smooth.

Fill the paper cases about three-quarters full and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Allow the cakes to cool on a cooling tray while you prepare the coffee and the icing.

The coffee

200ml strong coffee. (I used Douwe Egberts Chocolate flavoured coffee, but any will do.)
3tbsp sugar
50ml brandy or rum

Dissolve the sugar in the coffee by stirring. Then add the alcohol.

The icing

225g tub Tofutti Original Creamy Smooth Cheese

30g icing sugar

300ml vegan whipping cream

Cocoa Powder, for dusting.

Beat together the Cream cheese and icing sugar.

Whip the vegan cream then fold in the cheese and sugar until it’s smooth and, well, creamy.:)

Assembly

Once the cakes have cooled, use a sharp knife to cut out a section from the middle of each one. You don’t have to be too accurate, but make sure it’s about two-thirds of the depth of the cake, and that the bit you cut out stays reasonably intact. Put a couple of teaspoons of the coffee mixture into each hole, and try to soak the cut out bits of cake with the coffee mix too.

Fill each of the holes in the cakes to about half way with the cream icing mix. Then pop the cut out bits back on top of the hole. Finally, cover each of the cakes with the icing mix and dust with cocoa powder. (A dessertspoonful in a tea strainer works perfectly).

You can eat these cakes straightaway, but they are infinitely nicer if you eat them the next day, as the coffee will have soaked through and the top of the cake won’t be at all crisp and the whole thing will just melt in the mouth.

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Lemon and Lime Marmalade

I very rarely buy marmalade, largely because most shop bought marmalade is too sweet for me. I like a really sharp, refreshing marmalade with nice chunky bits of peel and I’ve never found a brand that really hits the spot for me. So here’s my recipe for Lemon and Lime marmalade. It takes quite a while to make as you have to simmer the fruit for about two hours to cook it, but I like to prepare the fruit the day before, because soaking the peel in the water overnight helps to soften it.

6 limes
4 lemons
3 pints water
3lbs/ 1500g sugar

The most important thing for this recipe is a good sharp knife. Bear in mind when you chop the peel that it won’t shrink when it’s cooked, so unless you have a really sharp knife your arm will probably be so tired by the end of all that chopping you’ll probably end up just chucking entire skins in.

Cut all the limes and lemons in half and juice them. Keep all the pips and bits of membrane and tie them up in a square of muslin. There will be bits of membrane still clinging to the peel, but unless you’re planning to enter your marmalade into your village competition, this will mainly disappear in cooking and won’t do any harm. (If you are planning to enter a competition, then scrape it out and add it to the pips and bits in the muslin.)

Thinly slice the lemon and lime peel and put it in a large pan with the water. You may leave the peel to soak which will help soften it, but this is not essential. Add the pips and bits tied up in the muslin.

Bring the water to the boil, then turn it down and simmer gently for two hours. (I love this stage, it makes my house smell delicious!) Remove the muslin square and squeeze it out, into the pan. The easiest way is to put it into a sieve and squash it with a spoon, but you can just let it cool and do it by hand if you prefer. Discard the muslin and its contents.

Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring the pan back up to a rolling boil and boil for 10-15 minutes. Check to see if it will set. My preferred method is to put a couple of plates in the freezer before I start then get one out and put a spoonful of the marmalade on it. Allow it to cool for a few seconds, then push the marmalade with your finger or the spoon. If the surface sort of folds as you do this, then the marmalade is done.

Allow it to settle for 10-15 minutes the ladle it into sterilised jars with screw tops, or top with a waxed disc.

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Christmas Surprises

Towards the beginning of December I signed up for Vegan Cuts Snack Box Subscription I love trying new products and there seem to be a lot more in the US than have yet made their way over here. The boxes were dispatched on Dec 16th, so US customers would get them in time for Christmas, so I was delighted when my box arrived here in the UK on Dec 23rd. Here are some pictures of the contents.

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Here’s a list of the contents:

Goody Good Stuff Cola Breeze sweets. (There were two options that could have been included, these or some sour flavoured ones. Fortunately I got the Cola one. Goody Good Stuff’s Sour flavours are not my thing at all, although Motley Major likes them. Strange child!:) )

Viana Horseradish Creamy Sunflower Spread I’ve not come across this brand before, and the website isn’t hugely helpful, but the product looks interesting.

Mahima for Life Included was an 11g sample pot. I’m not a huge fan of supplements – I always think it’s best to eat the actual berries and veg, but in the British winter our systems can often need a bit of a lift, so I’ll try this.

Home Free Treats 31g pack of Vanilla Cookies

Revolution tea Southern mint flavour. I’m already familiar with Revolution Tea and my love of the Orange Chocolate flavour hasn’t diminished!:)

Pure Bar Fruit Sandwich, Strawberry and Banana.

Hint Mints A little sample pack of two.

JJ’s Sweets 43g pack of Sea Salt Flavour Cocomels. Sound delicious and I can’t wait to try them!

Beanitos 42.5g bag of Sea Salt flavout. In the picture they look a bit like burnt crisps, but I’ll give them a try and let you know what they’re really like.

A Michy’s Pumpkin Eater Cookie

And finally, a Caramel Bite This is another brand I’m unfamiliar with, but I do love chocolate!:) Wow! This is lovely. The chocolate is deliciously milky smooth and the caramel is creamy and soft. They are reminiscent of Rolos (although it’s been many years since I had one of those!) Definitely moreish!

So I’m looking forward to quite a variety of new things to try – once the mince pies have been finished off!

Oh, and my New Year Resolution is to get to grips with WordPress, so you can look forward to a more interesting looking blog soon (I hope:) )! Happy New Year.

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