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Smoky spiced potato wedges

You may have noticed that vermouth has been creeping into my recipes over the last few days… A bottle had been bought for use in cocktails, but however noble a use that is, it takes a lot of martinis to get through an entire bottle!

So I’ve been adding it to recipes as well.

This one is loosely based on a recipe for potatoes roasted in red wine from the book Veggiestan by Sally Butcher (lovely book!)

I’m using vermouth instead of the red wine of course, and I’ve added some different flavouring, going for a warmly spicy smoky flavour.

The resulting wedges have a gorgeous flavour, and are very moreish!

I served them with the herb sauce from yesterday’s recipe.

Smoky spiced potato wedges

Smoky spiced potato wedges

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Pickled cauliflower fritters with herb sauce

Today I wanted to make snacks to have with a drink this evening, but thought it would be fun to go a little fancier than the usual crisps and dips…

Something fried is always fun to eat with a beer, but the richness can be a bit much, so here I’ve pickled my vegetables first! The light herby sharpness goes beautifully with the crunchy coating, I’ve used rice flour for this, which works very well. It can also be done a little in advance as it stays lovely and crunchy for a while!

The simple herb sauce is a welcome change from ketchup…

I also made some pretty amazing potato wedges, I’ll post the recipe for them tomorrow!

Pickled cauliflower fritters with herb sauce

Pickled cauliflower fritters with herb sauce

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Risotto burgers

So this is what I made with some of the leftover risotto from the other day!

As I’ve mentioned before, I do like to make something silly to have on sandwiches for lunch at work on a Friday…

The burgers are golden and crisp on the outside, and lovely and gooey inside (particularly if you put a little melty vegan cheese in as I did…), although to be honest they’d have been great without.

They’re super easy to make, and certainly one of the most delicious, indulgent dishes I’ve ever made with leftovers!

Risotto burgers - I may have 'tested' one of them before I took the photo...

Risotto burgers – I may have tested (okay eaten…) one of them before I took the photo…

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Homemade soya milk and where it leads..!

 

homemade soya milk!

 We’ve wanted to try making our own soya milk for such a long time, I really don’t know why we kept putting it off, it’s so cheap and easy! Well, as it turns out one of the reasons we haven’t made it is finding soya beans. Goodness they were hard to find, none of our local shops had them, we finally found some in Preston at the Health food shop on Guildhall Street (always worth a visit if you’re in the area) so the experiment could begin…

We wanted to try a very simple approach, something straightforward that we can refine at a later date! but this works really well and produces a tasty soya milk.

The Where it leads part of the title … well … that becomes more fun as we siphoned off some of the soya milk to make our own tofu, which was delicious and again ever so easy, also the production of soya milk leaves you with a  slightly fibrous mash called Okara which has a load of uses, Ellie created a fantastic chocolate cake out of it made in a rice cooker!

It’s so easy, it’s barely a recipe!

100g of dried soya beans

1.5 litres of water ( plus extra for soaking)

A large saucepan, a sieve, a blender and some muslin or cheesecloth.

Pop the soya beans in a bowl and cover in water leave for 24 hours.

 

the soaked beans

 
Rinse the soaked beans and put in the blender with 500ml of water

 

ready to blend

 
Blend for a good minute.

Lay the muslin over the sieve and place the sieve over the saucepan.

Strain the liquid through the muslin into the saucepan.

 

strain, strain, dribble, plop

 
The mash that doesn’t go through the muslin gets put back in the blender and another 500ml of water added.

Blend and strain again, then pop the mash back in the blender with the last 500ml of water, blend and strain.

By this time the liquid you will be straining through will look very thin compared to the first batch.

Squeeze out all the liquid you can and save the soya pulp ( Okara)

 

Okara!

 
Next we need to bring the pan of soya milk to a gentle boil and maintain it for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to stop it sticking.

That’s it! Soya milk! It just needs to be cooled, and popped in bottles, it’ll keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

We both like unsweetened soy milk, if you prefer it sweet then add 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar after the boiling to taste.

By E & A

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Risotto with vegetables, olives and basil

I bought some risotto rice from Lidl the other day, as usual without a clear idea of what to do with it…

I did think about trying something unusual, but really, a vegetable risotto is such a gorgeous thing that I decided to keep it simple!

I’ve used the absolute minimum of oil here with just one tablespoon, I don’t think you can get away with any less or there just isn’t enough to coat the rice before the liquids go in. Also I thought I’d give it a go without any onion or shallot, instead using just carrot and celery as the base, it worked very well seeming to keep a nicely clean vegetable flavour.

I removed half of the risotto before adding in the spinach and peas, so I can make something else with it another day (arancini maybe…), but the vegetable quantities given below are for the full 4 servings.

Risotto with vegetables, olives and basil

Risotto with vegetables, olives and basil

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Braised tofu and vegetables in sesame caramel sauce

This lovely recipe is inspired by the Chinese and Vietnamese methods of using caramel as flavouring and colour for a savoury sauce.

Here I’ve used sesame seeds for a toasty nuttiness, plenty of ginger for heat, and seaweed for depth and umami.

The tofu and mushrooms are soft and flavoursome, and the just cooked courgette and baby sweetcorn add texture as well as flavour.

It’s very quick to put together, and a pretty easy recipe to remember too, as you need 2 tablespoons each of all of the flavourings!

Braised tofu and vegetables with sesame caramel sauce

Braised tofu and vegetables with sesame caramel sauce

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French style onion soup

I’ve long had trouble getting onions to caramelise properly, often when following recipes ending up with an unevenly browned or oily result. But if I want to make my very favourite soup, and get a proper depth of flavour I have to master it!

After a bit of experimentation, I think my problem has been too low a heat under the pan. Recipes that recommended leaving the onions on a low heat and stirring occasionally just don’t work for me!

This method, using a medium heat and very little oil results in a much better colour and flavour than I’ve achieved previously, which is perfect for French style onion soup.

Utilising the onion skins to colour some of the water helps so much with the colour of the soup, but don’t leave the skins in there too long or it can be bitter.

I’ve used vermouth to deglaze the pan after caramelising the onions, but brandy or white wine would be good too.

I love a great big bowl of this soup as a main meal, so this quantity would do two servings in that case, or four as a light meal.

French style onion soup - rich and comforting

French style onion soup – rich and comforting

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Peanut brownie biscuits

When I was growing up these crunchy, chocolatey, peanutty, biscuits were my sister’s favourite. She used to make them with our mum and they always filled the house with a gorgeous smell as they were cooking!

With her birthday approaching, I thought it would be lovely to make a batch as part of her present, but our mum is on holiday so I couldn’t check the recipe out with her… Internet to the rescue!

I was completely convinced that if I put peanut brownie biscuits into a search engine, it would return nothing but recipes for the cake style brownie… but how wrong I was! It turns out that they’re a well loved New Zealand biscuit, and the basic recipe seemed pretty standard. But, it used eggs, butter, and of course wheat flour. So I set about experimenting… the first batch was basically cake, due I think, to a heavy hand with the soy milk. They were also too pale and not chocolatey enough!

Maybe our family recipe came from somewhere else (to be honest, I’d assumed it was a be-ro one)…

The second batch had the correct colour and flavour, but I have it on good authority that one could be held in tea for an entire minute, with no discernible disintegration (thank you Alex…).

The third batch though, is pretty good if I do say so myself! I favour a crunchy biscuit, so I’m very fond of them, but I haven’t tried dipping them in tea yet…

Peanut brownie biscuits - yum!

Peanut brownie biscuits – yum!

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Olive, mushroom and basil spread

This little recipe is another happy accident governed by what was left lonely in my fridge after making other things. I wanted something to have on a sandwich to take to work tomorrow and the half a pot of hummus wasn’t nearly exciting enough on its own! But the olives had potential…

The spread is rather like a pesto, with olives replacing the cheese and adding the requisite salty richness. It’s a good job I made more than I needed, as it’s going to be great swirled through white bean soup, mixed with grains as a salad base, baked with tomatoes and aubergines… all sorts!

The bread in the photo is D S Gluten Free’s brown ciabatta rolls, which are my favourite by far of the vegan and gluten free breads available in the supermarkets. They have a lovely flavour, and a great texture, particularly when toasted.

Olive, mushroom and basil spread

Olive, mushroom and basil spread

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A sort of chowder, with yellow split peas and vegetables

I’d been thinking along the lines of a chowder for my latest soup, but I wanted to make something a little more nutritious than the usual potato and cream base (and of course vegan!).

So I’ve used yellow split peas as the main ingredient as they really do break down beautifully and make a lovely textured soup.

With plenty of vegetables (including sweetcorn!) and a little chilli and soy yoghurt added at the end, it makes a gorgeous satisfying soup which tastes rich but really isn’t, if you see what I mean..!

A sort of chowder...

A sort of chowder…

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