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Griddled asparagus with apple, potato and spinach cakes and lemon sauce

It’s asparagus season, hooray!
It does seem to have taken a while for British asparagus to appear in the shops this year, but now it’s here!
So, we were thinking along the lines of the classic asparagus and hollandaise, something rich and indulgent but letting the flavour of the asparagus shine.
We happily bounced ideas around a bit and came up with this gorgeous recipe! Bramley apple and caraway work beautifully with asparagus, and the foamy lemon sauce adds a great richness and acidity.
The dish would work really well as a starter, but we ate it as an immensely fancy breakfast before we set out on a long, wet, bank holiday walk. It was sustaining as well as delicious, and the walk was pretty great too!

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Griddled asparagus with apple, potato and spinach cake and lemon sauce

serves 2 – 4


200 g asparagus
for the apple, potato and spinach cakes
1 large bramley apple, grated
2 large potatoes, cut into cubes (1 – 2 cm)
40 g fresh spinach, roughly chopped
3/4 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp vinegar
oil, 1/2 tbsp for roasting the potatoes and 2 tbsp for frying the cakes
for the lemon sauce
50 ml soya milk
1.5 – 2 tbsp lemon juice
25 ml cold pressed rapeseed oil
a large pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Toss the potato cubes in 1/2 tbsp oil on an oven tray and roast for around 20 minutes until golden and cooked through.
While the potatoes are roasting, prep the apple and spinach and then make the lemon sauce.
Using an immersion blender whizz together the soy milk and lemon juice and leave for around 5 minutes. It will start to thicken. Next add the rapeseed oil and salt and whizz again. It should be foamy.
When the potatoes are done mix them with the apple, spinach caraway and vinegar.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Using 4 x 10 cm chefs rings if you have them, press 1/4 of the apple mixture into each one, in the pan. Otherwise shape the mixture into rounds in the pan.
Cook for around 5 minutes, then flip them carefully and cook the other side for the same amount if time. They should be golden and crisp and the apple will have broken down and helped to set the cakes in shape. Griddle the asparagus for 4 – 6 minutes until just tender (our spears were quite thin).
Give the the sauce another quick whizz to foam it up again and then assemble the dish.
Plate the cakes first, then arrange the asparagus around and spoon the foam over the top.


By A. and E.

3

Corn, spinach and sweet potato cakes with parsley mushrooms and avocado

This has got to be a contender for our favourite breakfast, we made it this morning and considering it was a bit off the cuff, were ever so pleased with how it came out!
It was one of those mornings when you start off with no inspiration, but a desultory (initially) trawl through the vegetable rack, freezer and store cupboard perked us up no end and we made this lovely, colourful and satisfying meal. Hooray!

 

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Corn, spinach and sweet potato cakes with parsley mushrooms and avocado

serves 2


for the corn, spinach and sweet potato cakes
1 medium sweet potato, cooked and skinned (we baked ours, but microwaved or boiled would be good too)
140 g sweetcorn, we used tinned
75 g frozen spinach, defrosted
a pinch of salt and black pepper
30 g rice flour, plus a little extra for coating
4 tbsp polenta
3 tbsp oil for frying
for the parsley mushrooms
150 g button mushrooms
1 tbsp oil
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
and…
1 avocado, halved and sliced


Heat the oil for the mushrooms in a frying pan and saute the mushrooms, stirring often, for 6 – 8 minutes until cooked through and juicy. Season with salt and stir through the parsley. Keep warm. Roughly mash the cooked sweet potato with a fork and then stir through the corn, spinach, seasoning and rice flour. The mixture will be quite loose.
Mix the remaining rice flour and polenta together on a plate.
Heat the 3 tbsp oil in a frying pan (use the same one that you cooked the mushrooms in).
Divide the corn mixture into 4 and form each one into a patty. Set carefully into the polenta mixture and then turn to coat both sides. Transfer to the hot pan and cook for around 4 minutes per side, on a medium heat, until golden and crispy. Serve with the parsley mushrooms, and sliced avocado.


By A. and E.

10

Blueberry and lemon rice flour pancakes 

Ah, rice flour. Since having to eat gluten free, this is the flour I seem to use the most of! We’ve used it in the past to great effect with coatings and baking, so now was the turn of the blueberry pancake.. I’m happy to report these came out ever so well, light, fluffy, tasty and they soak up syrup nicely…

 

ready to eat!

 
The method is just the same as for traditional pancakes, with just a bit of tweaking of ingredients.

Makes 6×4 inch pancakes

Ingredients:

200ml soya milk

Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon syrup

Grated rind from a lemon

100g rice flour

20g tapioca flour

teaspoon baking powder

Quarter teaspoon xanthan gum

50g blueberries
Start by adding the lemon juice and syrup to the soya milk, this will thicken it and provide a slightly sour flavour.

In a mixing bowl add all the other ingredients, except the blueberries, and whisk together to incorporate.

Add the soya milk mixture to the four mixture and whisk again to leave you with a thick batter.

Heat a, lightly oiled, frying pan on a medium heat.

Pour about 2 tablespoons of mixture into the pan and drop a few blueberries onto the batter.

  

 
Flip the pancake over when the top starts to look set and the underside is a golden brown. Cook for another couple of minutes till golden on both sides and the blueberries have burst.

Repeat for the rest of the batter.

Serve with more blueberries, syrup and anything else you fancy!

By A

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Savoury, nutty protein bites

After the nasty cold both Alex and I had a couple of months ago, we didn’t really feel like we were recovering our energy levels properly. And when you eat a plant based diet that’s always a pointer to look at what you’re eating and make sure your nutrition levels are up to scratch!

We’re pretty good at eating lots of vegetables, but we did wonder if we might not be getting enough protein. So I did a little research, and looked up a selection of ingredients that have a decent amount of protein, but would combine nicely into a little savoury bite.

We’ve taken to eating these for breakfast, 6 or 7 of them eaten throughout the morning keep us going nicely until lunchtime. Energy levels have definitely improved, and they’re delicious too!

They freeze well, but I tend to make a big lot of lentils and millet and freeze it in portions, ready for making a batch of bites up once a week.

Savoury, nutty protein bites

Savoury, nutty protein bites

makes around 52, enough for 8 or so portions


50 g soya flour

20 g peanut powder

20 g nutritional yeast

2 sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped (I actually snip them up with scissors)

1 tbsp dried marjoram

50 g pumpkin seeds

50 g nuts, we like brazil nuts best

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tbsp tapioca flour

35 g small green lentils

50 g millet

a large pinch of salt, and a little more to season the outside of the bites

1 – 2 tsp oil


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c

First cook the lentils and millet. I simmer them both together in water for around 20 minutes, until soft. Drain and cool.

Put the rest of the ingredients (apart from the oil) in a food processor, and pulse a few times until well combined. You can chop the nuts and pumpkin seeds by hand and mix it all together in a large bowl if you like, but the processor is faster and you end up with a better texture.

Remove the blade from the processor bowl, and tip in the lentils and millet. Using your hands, squash everything together until it’s all well mixed. The mixture should be quite dry, but will hold together when shaped.

Spread the oil into the bottom of a large roasting tin, I use a spray which makes it easier to cover evenly.

Take a small chunk of the mixture, and shape it into a rough ball, it should be 2-3 cm in diameter. Continue until you have used all the mixture, putting the bites in the tin as you go.

Roll them around to coat with a very thin layer of oil, and then sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 30 minutes, shaking the tin halfway through.


By E.

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Beans baked with tomatoes and chilli

I really wanted something filling and full of flavour for breakfast today, and a root through the cupboards turned up a tin of pinto beans. As I also seem to have been collecting cherry tomatoes over the last week, combining them seemed like a very sensible idea!

So into the oven they went, with smoked paprika and chilli among other things, while I got on with a bit of housework.

The scent while they were cooking was gorgeous, and after an hour I had a beautiful dish of creamy beans and juicy tomatoes with a tangy, sweet and smoky sauce.

A great start to the weekend, and I have another portion for tomorrow, hooray!

Beans baked with tomatoes and chill. What was left of them anyway...

Beans baked with tomatoes and chill. After I’d eaten one portion…

makes 2 servings


1 onion, chopped

25-30 cherry tomatoes, halved

50 g frozen spinach

1 300 g tin of pinto beans, (175 g when drained)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

1/2 a green chilli, sliced thinly

1/2 tsp oil

salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c.

Spray or spread the oil into a baking dish, about 25 x 15 cm.

Layer the ingredients into the dish, starting with the onions, then the tomatoes, and then the drained and rinsed beans. Tuck the frozen spinach into the middle and then sprinkle over the chilli slices, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, smoked paprika and some salt and pepper.

Beans before baking

Beans before baking

Cover the dish with foil, leaving a small gap to let the steam escape, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, stir, and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.


By E.

6

Potato, pea and spinach sausages

We both have the day off work today so thought it would be fun to make something interesting for breakfast. Sausages are a great treat breakfast, but there really aren’t many vegan gluten free options around!

So we thought we’d have a go at making some using the sort of ingredients we usually have to hand. The sausages are super easy to make, and quick too if you have ready cooked potatoes. We used leftover baked potatoes which were perfect!

Including the potato skin in the mixture really does make a difference to the flavour, and the blend of seasonings worked really well.

The sausages turned out beautifully, we baked them until golden along with some mushrooms, and had a very happy breakfast!

And there’s some leftover for tomorrow morning too…

Potato, pea and spinach sausages (with roasted mushrooms!)

Potato, pea and spinach sausages (with roasted mushrooms!)

makes 6

75 g frozen peas

50 g frozen spinach

10 g parsley, chopped

400 g cooked potato, with skins, finely chopped

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

3/4 tsp mustard powder

a pinch of fennel powder

1/4 tsp mixed dried herbs

a large pinch each of salt and pepper

2 tbsp oil

Potatoes and parsley waiting to be chopped

Potatoes and parsley waiting to be chopped

Preheat the oven to fan 180 c. Defrost the vegetables, we used the microwave. When the spinach has cooled a little, squeeze out any excess water. Next mix all of the ingredients, apart from the oil, together well. Slosh the oil onto a tray and pop it in the oven for a few minutes to heat through. Shape the mixture into 6 sausages and roll carefully in the hot oil. Bake for 20 minutes.

Sausages and mushrooms ready for the oven

Sausages and mushrooms ready for the oven

By A. and E.

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mushroom noodle broth

I eat (slurp) this broth at least once a week, usually for breakfast at the weekend. The umami flavour from the seaweed and vegetarian oyster sauce, combined with savoury mushrooms and sweet peas is, for me the perfect start to the day! It’s immensely versatile of course, as this sort of dish is, but I always make it with the basic recipe below adding the extras depending on my mood.

The seaweed makes a huge difference to the depth of the broth. I’m using nori meant for wrapping sushi at the moment (it was 19p a pack at the discount shop!) but I’ve used kombu before with good results. My vegetarian oyster sauce and Chinese mushroom ketchup are from Wing Yip.

Current favourite extras are spinach and sliced sausage! But I’m fickle, and I’m sure in a couple of weeks I’ll be on to something else…

In the photograph, it’s the basic recipe with a sliced spring onion added.

Delicious savoury mushroom noodle broth

Delicious savoury mushroom noodle broth (slurp….)

makes one big bowlful

the basic recipe

500 ml hot light vegetable stock, or water with 1 tbsp vegan broth powder

4 mushrooms, sliced thinly

40 g frozen peas

3 x 3 cm piece of nori seaweed, torn into little bits

1 1/2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce (or substitute 1/2 tbsp with Chinese mushroom ketchup)

1 tsp light soy sauce

white pepper

35 g noodles (I use half a standard block of ramen noodles)

extras

20 g frozen spinach

1 -2 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced

1/2 tsp grated ginger

1 sliced spring onion

chilli to taste

sliced cooked vegan sausage

cubed tofu, silken or firm

Put the stock, mushrooms, vegetarian oyster sauce, nori, and soy sauce in a pan on a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Add the peas and noodles, and cook for a further 3 minutes. Season with white pepper.

By E.

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Breakfast tempeh 2 with sweetcorn fritters

This is day two of my tempeh-ing, the method for the tempeh is identical to the previous post, but the flavours have a bit of Asian influence, creating a salty, sticky, caramelised flavour that creates a wonderful contrast with the slightly sweet, clean taste of the fritters, and its all wonderfully simple!
Tempeh 2 and sweetcorn fritters
For the tempeh, I’m using the second half of my frozen block.

Ingredients
About 110g block of tempeh

For the marinade
2 tablespoons of vegetarian oyster sauce
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Splash of liquid aminos ( or soya sauce)
Half a teaspoon of fennel seeds

For the fritters
75g plain flour (I’m still using gluten free )
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon egg replacer ( I’m using vegg, but any will do, it can be skipped entirely if you don’t have one to hand)
100ml soya milk
A small tin (196g) of sweetcorn

Again the method is really straightforward. Mix all the marinade ingredients together, slice the tempeh into 5 strips and pop in the marinade, turning the tempeh to make sure it’s fully coated. This does make a thick marinade that even after crisping up in the pan will retain an element of stickiness.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the fritters except for the sweetcorn, to make a smooth and thick batter, then add the sweetcorn stirring it through with a spoon.

Pop the tempeh slices, and heaped tablespoon sized dollops of the fritter batter into a hot frying pan. The pancakes need to be turned when you see air bubbles forming on the surface and the top of the batter stops looking wet, this should be about 5 minutes.

Almost ready to flip

Turn the tempeh when it starts to caramelise, that’s where the best flavours are!

Tempeh and sweetcorn fritters

Bob on a plate and serve, yum.

By A.

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Breakfast tempeh 1

Tempeh is one of those foods that I hardly ever eat, and I don’t know why, in just a few minutes it can be transformed into wonderfully tasty dishes.

Tempeh breakfast sandwich

Tempeh if you haven’t encountered it before is made of cooked fermented soya beans, and is chewy, slightly tangy, protein packed goodness.

For this recipe and the next (cunningly titled breakfast tempeh 2) I’m just going to use a simple marinade to liven it up.

Today’s uses traditional savoury flavours, here’s what you need:

Half a block of tempeh (about 110g)

For the marinade
2 tablespoons of oil
1/2 a teaspoon liquid aminos (or soya sauce or tamari)
1/2 a teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 a teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 a teaspoon thyme
1/2 a teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 a teaspoon fennel seeds
Pinch of white pepper

To serve
A big mushroom, or a handful of smaller mushrooms!
Toast
Condiments of choice

The method is simplicity itself.
Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl large enough to sit your tempeh in.
Slice the tempeh into 5 strips
Pop the tempeh in the marinade, this marinade absorbs into the tempeh quickly so make sure to turn your strips over so they get fully covered before it disappears

Tempeh marinating

Slice your mushrooms

Put the marinated strips in a frying pan (it shouldn’t need oil) and cook until slightly crisp on both sides, it should take about 5 minutes each side, when you flip them over put in the mushrooms too so it’s all cooked together.

Tempeh cooking

Assemble on toast and enjoy!

By A.

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Gluten free chia seed pancakes with caramel banana sauce

The finished recipe

I was chatting to the, always informative, chappie in our local health food shop. He was relating how for his breakfast he has a mix of almond milk, chia seed, blueberries and pecans.

He explained how the chia seed creates a jelly like substance in liquid when it’s left to stand for a while … Anyhow long story short, he piqued my interest and I’m now the proud owner of what appears to be a sack of chia seeds.

It’d been a tough day at work, and I wanted something particularly comforting as a pudding, so I came up with the following..

You’ll need.
250ml of soya milk
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

150g gluten free plain flour (I’m presently using the Dove’s Organics variety)
1 tablespoon gluten free baking powder

1 large banana sliced
25g sugar
25g vegan margarine
A splash of soya milk

To serve, these are completely optional…
vegan ice cream (vanilla Swedish glacé for me)
Any sweet sauce you have to hand, I had blueberry.

Start by adding the chia seeds and apple cider vinegar to the 250ml of soya milk, this needs to be left for 10 minutes .. It does not look appealing, but make it feel better by giving it a stir every so often.. It will start to thicken a bit, think buttermilk sort of consistency..

The gloop

While that’s thickening, warm a frying pan on the stove and pop a very small amount of oil in for cooking, I’m presently using one of the fry-lite sprays

Add the flour and baking powder to the thickened liquid and whisk until combined. That’s our batter done..

Pour pancake sized (about two big tablespoons each) amounts of batter into the pan, my mixture made 7.

When the pancakes puff up to roughly double the original height and you start to see air bubbles forming on the surface of them flip them over, it took about 5 minutes on the first side and 3 on the other for mine.

Pancakes puffing..

When all pancakes are cooked lower the heat on the pan to a minimum and add the sugar, margarine, banana to the pan, as it’s already hot it’ll make an instant caramel as the sugar and margarine melt together, take the pan off the heat after about 30 seconds, it’s really best to judge this by eye, and add a splash of soya milk and mix into the caramel.

Stack the pancakes, (there are 3 in the photo which looks good but was a huge amount of food to try and get through) and pour the banana caramel mix over the top, and a dollop of your favourite vegan ice cream and drizzle of sauce … It’s fantastic … But all I can do after eating it is sit and dopily type this out… So probably best not to have much planned for afterwards!

By A.