Spinach Dhal – VeganMoFo Day 11

You may be getting a slight deja-vu feeling from this post. Yeah, I posted a dhal bolognese yesterday. And today I’m doing a spinach dhal! Is it a bit much? No! Dhal is delicious. And since today’s VeganMoFo prompt is your “Favourite Cuisine” I just had to do something Indian related. I love Indian food – it’s so versatile, from snacks like samosas to curries and even quick junk food meals, you can make it however you like. I’ve already posted a dhal recipe here before, but this one is a little more involved.

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I use whole spices in this  – as explained in yesterday’s post, they give a wonderful depth of flavour to the dish. Well worth buying! I also add spinach because spinach goes really well in Indian food. I use frozen spinach because that’s what I tend to have on hand, but if you wanted to use fresh you could.

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Serve this with rice, or in bowls with vegan naan bread, or chapatis!

Spinach Dhal


Ingredients

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 200g frozen spinach
  • 130g red lentils
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, heat up the sunflower oil and add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds. Fry until fragrant and the mustard seeds begin to “pop”.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli flakes, and salt, and fry for 5 minutes, until the onion softens.
  3. Add the turmeric and garam masala, and fry, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in the frozen spinach and fry for a minute.
  5. Stir through the lentils, and add the vegetable stock.
  6. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils are very soft.
  7. Stir in the lemon juice and serve!

Indian Lentil Bolognese – VeganMoFo Day 10!

Today’s challenge is Fusion Food which is something I love, because honestly, most of what I cook is a mish-mash of whatever I think tastes good. I don’t see any problem with combining cuisines to make something tasty! Today’s meal is no difference – Indian bolognese may sound a bit strange, but really, it’s not! I already have a lentil bolognese recipe, which is lovely, and dhal is a common Indian lentil recipe…so why not combine the two? Make a dhal style bolognese!

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I use whole spices in this recipe as I think they add a great depth to the dish. Especially mustard seeds – fry them in hot oil till they start popping and jumping about and they are so delicious! Whole spices also keep much longer than ground ones without losing their flavour, so don’t be afraid to buy them.

You could totally add peas or any other vegetable in with this dish if you want to get some greenery in. But as it is it is still super tasty, and the lentils give a good protein hit too!

Indian Lentil Bolognese


Ingredients

  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (sub for a chopped fresh chilli or two if you have any!)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 125g red lentils
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • 180g spaghetti

Directions

  1. In a large pan, heat up the sunflower oil. When hot, add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds. Fry until fragrant and the mustard seeds start popping.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, and chilli flakes, and fry until the onion softens – about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garam masala and turmeric and cook for thirty seconds, stirring constantly.
  4. Add in the lentils and vegetable stock, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
  5. While the lentils are simmering, cook the spaghetti.
  6. Once the lentils are tender, serve the bolognese over the spaghetti!

Afghan Biscuits – VeganMoFo Day 8

If you read the title of this post and thought “what on earth are afghan biscuits?” then, me too, reader, me too. Today’s VeganMoFo prompt is “If you dug straight down, where would you come out?” and being from the UK, roughly going straight down would take me to New Zealand, or near enough. Now, you all know I love baking, so I looked up baking recipes that come from New Zealand. One of the ones I came across, which is apparently a New Zealand favourite, was the Afghan Biscuit. A short chocolate biscuit, made with cornflakes, and a walnut on top.

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Wait, cornflakes? In a biscuit? Well, I’ve had “cornflake cakes” before, but they’ve just been cornflakes mixed with melted chocolate kinda things. Never baked into an actual biscuit. I was really quite hesitant about this food, but decided to try it anyway.

You know, I am so glad I did! Wow, these are good. The cornflakes, that I was so hesitant about? They give an amazing crunch to the biscuit and pair perfectly with the cocoa and the soft icing on top.

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The biscuits traditionally have half a walnut on top, which I did for half of my biscuits, but I know not everyone likes nuts, so I topped the other half with a chocolate button, which was also really tasty!

Afghan Biscuits

  • Servings: 25 biscuits
  • Print

Ingredients

    For the Biscuit
  • 150g vegan butter
  • 110g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 160g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp milk of choice
  • 50g cornflakes
  • For the Icing

  • 40g vegan butter, melted
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 2tbsp water
  • Walnut halves or chocolate buttons to top

Directions

    Preheat the oven to 180C/355F
  1. Cream together the vegan butter and sugar.
  2. Add in the vanilla and milk, and mix to combine.
  3. Stir through the flour and cocoa until well mixed.
  4. Gently fold through the cornflakes until combined.
  5. Place tablespoon size balls of the biscuit dough on a baking tray, gently flattening with the back of a spoon.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes, then leave to cool.
  7. Once cooled, make the icing. Combine all the ingredients, except the walnuts and chocolate button, to make a thick but spreadable icing.
  8. Top each biscuit with a spoonful of the icing, followed by either a walnut half or a chocolate button.
  9. Leave to set, then enjoy!

Cherry Bakewells – VeganMoFo Day 7!

It’s a new week, and so a new weekly theme for VeganMoFo! This week the theme is International Week, with each day being themed for somewhere around the world. We start with close to home – a food from somewhere where you live.

I live in Derbyshire and this county is famous for, alongside its beautiful scenery, the Bakewell Tart. Bakewell is a village in the Peak District and they sell fresh Bakewell Tarts there, although they are decidedly not vegan. Last year for VeganMoFo, I made my own vegan Bakewell Tart, which turned out really well and was very tasty. This year, I decided to go for something a little more portable.

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If you’ve ever seen Mr Kipling’s cherry bakewells, that’s pretty much what these are. The raspberry jam is replaced with cherry jam, and the top of the tarts are covered in icing and topped with half a glace cherry. These are really tasty!

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Because these are mini tarts, not big ones (I use a muffin tray to make them in), you don’t need to blind bake the pastry. It’ll do just fine baking along with the frangipane.

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Cherries and almonds are a classic flavour combination, and these cherry bakewells really let that flavouring shine.

Cherry Bakewells


Ingredients

    For the Pastry
  • 210g plain flour
  • 15g icing/powdered sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 110g vegan butter, chilled
  • 3 tbsp cold water (preferably cold from the fridge!)
  • For the Frangipane Filling

  • 100g vegan butter, melted
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g plain flour
  • 3 tbsp almond milk (or other vegan milk of choice)
  • 3 tbsp cherry jam, warmed
  • For the Icing

  • 200g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 6 glacé cherries, cut into halves

Directions

    Preheat the oven to 180C/355F
  1. Begin by making the pastry. Mix together the flour and icing sugar until combined.
  2. Using your hands, rub in the vegan butter until you get a sandy, breadcrumb looking mixture. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time, and mix until a dough forms. Do not overmix!
  3. Roll the dough out, and cut into circles to fit your muffin tin. Place the circles in the (greased) muffin tin and press down to fit.
  4. Next, make the filling. Combine the melted butter and sugar, and add the almond extract.
  5. Stir in the ground almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and flour, until a thick batter is formed. Add the almond milk if necessary.
  6. Place a small amount of the cherry jam in the base of each pastry case, trying to divide it mostly equally.
  7. Divide the frangipane mixture between the cases, placing it on top of the jam. Try to leave no gaps around the edges – you want the jam to be sealed in so it doesn’t bubble up and overflow.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin for five minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack until completely cold.
  9. Once cold, make the icing. Combine the icing sugar with the water to form a fairly thick glacé icing.
  10. Spread the icing over each tart (gently!), and top with a glacé cherry half. Leave to set, and enjoy!


 

Roasted Garlic Bread – VeganMoFo Day 6

Today’s post is all about comfort food. Food that makes you feel warm and happy and cosy.

It’s no secret that I love carbs. Carbs are great. Specifically bread, bread is very great. There’s nothing quite like just munching down a huge amount of warm garlic bread, maybe with pasta, or soup – or however you like. Sometimes I make a very simple garlic bread with toast – just spread some butter and some minced garlic on a slice of bread, chuck it under the grill for a couple of minutes, and there you have it, garlic bread! But this is VeganMoFo, I needed to do something special. So I put the garlic in the bread.

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And not just any garlic. Roasted garlic!

Have you ever roasted garlic? No? Well, I was a little apprehensive too at first, to be honest. A whole bulb of garlic? Isn’t that a bit much? Well, actually, no. Roasting the garlic both brings out its natural sugars, and tames its sharpness. So a whole roasted bulb of garlic actually tastes fairly mild.

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It’s actually very easy to roast garlic. Heat your oven to 200C/400F, chop off the top of a bulb of garlic (the bit that sticks up), sprinkle over some oil, salt, and pepper, and wrap the bulb up tight in some foil. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes (or longer if you’re doing more than one bulb, or a gigantic bulb), and leave to cool. You can then grab the bulb from the base and squeeze it like a tube of toothpaste…and the garlic will come out! Like a paste! It’s magic, really it is.

In this bread I put the roasted garlic paste in the actual loaf itself. It’s delicious. If you wanted some super extra garlicky flavour, then cut off a slice of the baked loaf, top with some garlic butter (minced garlic in vegan butter), and place under the grill. Keep vampires away for months.

Roasted Garlic Bread


Ingredients

  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • pinch salt + pepper
  • 300g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 250ml hand hot water (hot enough so you can just hold your little finger in for a few seconds)
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter, melted

Directions

    Preheat the oven to 200C/400F
  1. Begin by roasting your garlic bulb. Chop the top off the bulb – the bit that sticks up – trying to make sure each clove is slightly open. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and wrap in tin foil. Bake in the oven for 50 mintues.
  2. Once garlic is baked and cooled, begin your bread. Mix together the flour, yeast, salt, and parsley in a large bowl.
  3. Squeeze the roasted garlic from its skin, and mash it with a fork until it forms a paste. Mix this into the flour mixture.
  4. Slowly add the hot water, stirring, until a dough is formed.
  5. Knead for 8 minutes, until the dough is stretchy but firm.
  6. Cover the bowl and place in a warm area to rise for two hours.
  7. Once risen, punch down and form into a log shape. Place dough into a greased loaf tin, and back into your warm place for a further half an hour.
  8. Meanwhile, Preheat your oven to 215C/420F.
  9. Once the dough is risen, place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  10. Turn the heat down to 180C/355F and continue to bake for a further 30 minutes.
  11. Remove the bread from the oven, and brush the top with the melted butter (This stops the crust from being too hard).
  12. Leave to cool before slicing.

Mocha Mug Cake – VeganMoFo Day 5

Late night snacking…why is it so good? There’s something about the evening time that somehow makes you want to snack.For me, this evening-snack urge tends to be for sweet food. I don’t tend to have an appetite for dessert immediately after dinner, but a while later? Definitely dessert time.

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During the Autumn we watched the Great British Bake Off on Wednesday evenings, and my go-to quick and easy snack became the wonderful mug cake! So quick and easy to make, and tasty too.

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All the ingredients get mixed together in a mug, then put in the microwave for just one minute, and then…you eat it! So easy.

Mocha Mug Cake


Ingredients

  • 1 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp boiling water
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil (or any other neutral, liquid oil)
  • 1.5 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp milk of choice
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In a mug, combine the instant coffee, cocoa powder, and boiling water, and mix to a paste.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, except the chocolate chips, and mix well to combine.
  3. Stir through the chocolate chips, leaving a few to sprinkle on top.
  4. Put the mug cake in the microwave for 1 minute.
  5. Eat! And enjoy.

VeganMoFo Day 4 – A review of Zizzi’s

For day 4 of VeganMoFo, we were asked where we eat when we want someone else to cook.

Honestly, we don’t go out to eat a whole lot. I know some people go out to eat almost every night, but I enjoy cooking (hence the food blog!) and so we only really go out on special occasions, or when there are vegan events going on.

Sometimes we like to go to the monthly vegan market in Sneinton, Nottingham, where they usually have some lovely street-food and of course plenty of vegan goodies to buy. But other times, a sit down meal is best, and lately we’ve been turning to Zizzi for that.

Back in March, Zizzi unveiled a new vegan menu including a pizza with vegan cheese!! This was incredibly exciting to vegans all around the country, because we are so used to just getting “extra vegetables, no cheese” on our pizzas. Finally, we could go to a mainstream place and get pizza with cheese.

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You can get a plain “margherita” pizza with just a tomato base and the vegan mozzarella, or you can get a pizza with three different toppings for just a little extra. In the one above, I had olives, balsamic onions, and roasted tomatoes. It was delicious, and the cheese is lovely and melty!

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This autumn, they also released a new menu including a vegan lentil ragu, which I had recently. It was also delicious and a lovely addition to the menu.

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They also do vegan side dishes, such as the above “Tuscan Potatoes” which are rosemary roasted and lovely. Plus vegan cider, pictured in the first photo, by Aspall!

One thing that is great about Zizzi is how they put a little sticker on all of the vegan dishes that says “vegan”. For those, like me, who can be a little paranoid about their food, this is a lovely reassurance that your food is indeed vegan. You can get their pizza to take out too, and they even put the little vegan sticker on that!

So, I would highly recommend Zizzi to anyone looking for not too expensive vegan food in the UK.

 

Easy Potato-Carrot Soup – VeganMoFo Day 3

The prompt for Day 3 of VeganMoFo is “What’s your easy cook meal? That you make when you can’t be bothered to cook much?“. Well, for me this is probably seasonal. Ask me on a hot summer’s day, and I’ll say something like a bag of crisps and a bowl of hummus. But now, in the cold wintery weather? My answer is soup. I love soup.

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I also think soup is pretty easy to make. One pot, bung in whatever you like, cook for a while, and there you have it, soup. If you have any vegetables hanging around in your fridge that need eating up – put them in your soup. Bags of frozen veg hogging the freezer? Make them into soup. Add a can of beans or two for some protein. Herbs and spices – so many different varieties – to add flavour. You can, if you’re feeling fancy, blend up the soup to make it creamy!

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For this soup, I kept it pretty simple. Onions and garlic – the base to most of my dishes – fried off, then chopped carrots and potatoes, some dried herbs, a little tomato puree, some vegetable stock, all cooked until nice and tender. I added some white beans towards the end – you don’t want to add them too soon else they can go a little mushy – and cooked until nice and thick. You could easily make a thinner soup with more liquid, but to be honest I like my soups so thick you could almost eat them with a fork. This soup took less than half an hour from start to bowl, and was delicious too!

 

Easy Potato Carrot Soup


Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 small potatoes (about 400g), diced into bitesize chunks
  • 2 medium carrots (about 200g), cut into half-moons
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, fry the onion and garlic until softened.
  2. Add the potatoes, carrots, and dried herbs, and fry for a couple of minutes.
  3. Stir through the tomato puree and stock powder until well mixed.
  4. Pour in water until the vegetables are covered by about 2cm (1 inch). This makes a thick soup, add more water if you want it thinner.
  5. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the drained beans to the soup, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  7. Taste and season, and serve!

 

 

Spaghetti & Meatballs – Vegan MoFo Day 2!

Day two of VeganMoFo today! Today’s prompt is What’s your go to “impress me” meal? I don’t often cook huge impressive spreads, especially now I only have a small kitchen, but I think this meal is pretty impressive. Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic taste combination, and great for serving to crowds as you can just make a load of spaghetti, a load of sauce, and a load of meatballs, and people can help themselves.

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I make the sauce by pulsing the ingredients in a food processor. This chops them all up nice and small and helps to bind everything together. I also fry the onion and garlic before I put them in the food processor – again, I feel like the softened onion helps to bind the meatballs.

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Once the mixture is pulsed, I just form it into balls, fry on all sides, and serve with my spaghetti and sauce. The sauce is a simple one made from fresh and tinned tomatoes and some herbs.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • Servings: 11 meatballs worth
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 180g spaghetti (or as much as you need)
  • For the Meatballs

  • 75g TVP
  • 200ml boiling water
  • 1 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • For the Sauce

  • 300g cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Salt + Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Begin by frying your onion and garlic until softened. Remove from the pan and place in the bowl of your food processor.
  2. While the onion and garlic are frying, in a bowl mix together the TVP, marmite, and boiling water. Leave aside to rehydrate.
  3. Add all the meatball ingredients to the food processor, including the TVP mixture. Pulse until thoroughly combined.
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Fry the onion and garlic until softened, and then add the cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper, and herbs. Fry for 5 minutes until the tomatoes begin to wilt.
  5. Add the can of chopped tomatoes to the sauce and continue to simmer while you finish preparing the meatballs.
  6. When the meatball mixture is a sticky dough-like consistency, form into ping-pong size balls and place in a preheated frying pan, turning regularly, until golden on all sides.
  7. While the sauce and meatballs are cooking, boil the spaghetti in a pan of salted water.
  8. Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain, and stir through the tomato sauce. Serve with meatballs on top!

Pizza Sticks – Vegan MoFo Day 1!

It’s that time of year again! Time for 2016’s Vegan Month of Food (“VeganMoFo”). This year comes with a whole new set of weekly themes and prompts and promises to be a great month for vegan food. Check out the website to find out more! 

The first weekly theme is “Treat Yourself (and others)” so this week will be all about treats. Today’s daily prompt is “What is your favourite food?“. I had to think long and hard about this because I don’t know if I have a favourite food. I like lots of foods but my “favourite” tends to change depending on what mood I am in. One food that pops up a lot though is pizza. Pizza is pretty versatile – especially if, like me, you treat it as dough with whatever topping you like, from a cheesy feast to a healthy hummus/vegetable topped meal. I already have not one but two pizza recipes on my blog,  do I really need another one though? Yes, of course. This one is slightly different. It’s a recipe for pizza sticks.

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 Pizza sticks are somewhat a cross between a breadstick and a calzone. They are a little messy to make, yes, but they are a great food for parties, picnics, and just snacks! Have a pot of hummus or your dip of choice and eat away.

They’re not too difficult to make either – and you can fill them with a huge variety of toppings.

Roll out your pizza dough into a rough rectangular shape (oblong if you’re more like me). Top half of it it with tomato sauce (recipe to follow), and your toppings of choice – I used Vbites “Bacon” and Mozzarisella cheese – fold the top half over, squish it down a little with a rolling pin, and slice into sticks about 2cm/3/4 inch thick. Place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes or until nice and golden!

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If you have a good melty cheese then it does ooze out a little but that just adds to the tastiness. Plus, you can totally eat the cheese scraps off the baking tray (not that I did…ahem…).

Pizza Sticks

  • Servings: about 50 sticks
  • Print

Ingredients

    For the Pizza Dough
  • 400g bread flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250-300ml hand-hot water (water hot enough that you can just stick your little finger in without it being too hot)
  • For the Tomato Sauce

  • 5 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • salt + pepper
  • Boiling water
  • Toppings of choice eg: Vegan Cheese, Vegan bacon/pepperoni

Directions

  1. First, make the pizza dough. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Stir through the olive oil.
  2. Gradually add the hot water to the flour mix, adding enough to form a dough consistency. Knead the mix for 8 minutes until it forms a stretchy, firm dough.
  3. Cover the bowl, and place aside in a warm area (by the heater, in the airing cupboard etc) to rise for at least 1 hour, until doubled in size.
  4. Once the dough is risen, preheat the oven to 210C/410F.
  5. Next, make the tomato sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, and slowly add boiling water until the paste becomes a spreadable, sauce-like consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. Time to assemble the pizza sticks! Split the dough into four pieces. Roll each dough ball into a rectangle about 5mm thick (a fifth of an inch).
  7. On the bottom half of the rectangle, spread tomato sauce. Top with your toppings of choice.
  8. Fold the top half of the dough rectangle (the bit without any toppings) over the bottom half, and gently roll over it with your rolling pin to seal.
  9. Cut the folded dough into strips about 2cm/a quarter inch wide. Place on a baking tray.
  10. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining dough!