Nut roast

This is based on a recipe I found on the vegan society website. Pretty simple, with the nut-chopping being the only time-consuming step. Tried for the first time the week before Christmas, and went down well on second attempt on Christmas Day!

Needed:

  • 1 onion and a celery stick, finely chopped
  • 100g walnuts, chopped
  • 100g hazelnuts, chopped
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 pint veg stock
  • 20 ml oil (veg or olive)
  • Spices: cayenne pepper, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, or whatever else you like
  • Bit of salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4
  2. Sauté the onion or leek until soft, not browned
  3. Combine all of the ingredients together in a big bowl; (the mixture may be slightly slack)
  4. I like to fill muffin tins with the mix to make little individual nut roasts. I get 8 out of this amount, with 2 or 3 for each person
  5. Bake for about half an hour

Serve with all the trimmings (including shredded sprouts sautéed with garlic and pine nuts).

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Sweet potato and chickpea curry

It turns out that Wetherspoons has some pretty decent vegan offerings on their menu! But if you don’t like your curry microwaved to order, you could make it yourself at home. One thing I like about this recipe is that you don’t need a fridge.

Needed:

  • Sweet potato – washed, roughly chopped, skin on
  • Tin of chickpeas
  • Tin of tomatoes
  • Tin of coconut milk
  • Onion, finely chopped
  • Cumin seeds
  • Garlic – 2 or 3 cloves, finely chopped or crushed
  • Ginger – about an inch, finely chopped
  • Turmeric – about a teaspoon
  • Ground coriander – about a teaspoon (Garam masala is a good substitute)
  • Chilli flakes – about a teaspoon
  • Some oil (I prefer coconut) – about 2 teaspoons
  • Pinch of salt.
  • Optional: brown rice and spinach or kale.

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan.
  2. Add cumin seeds and toast for half a minute.
  3. Add the onion and cook until it starts to brown.
  4. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander and chilli flakes.
  5. Add the sweet potato, toss to get coated in everything, then add the coconut milk, tinned tomatoes and chickpeas. I don’t drain the chickpeas, just chuck it all in.
  6. Simmer the whole lot for 20 to 30 minutes. You could cook some brown rice in this time if you want.
  7. At the last minute stir in some spinach or kale if you have it, and serve on rice or on its own.

Very good as a packed lunch after a good nuke in the microwave!

Chinese-style crispy chilli tofu

Before switching to a plant-only diet, I used to love one of the most unhealthy dishes from the Chinese takeaway: crispy chilli shredded beef.

Fortunately I have found a vegan alternative. This requires a few pans – one to fry the tofu, one to make the sauce, another for cooking the rice, and a third to fry everything up at then end. But if you want a naughty, sweet and spicy treat, then give it a go.

Needed:

  • Sugar (coconut or rapadura if possible, or soft brown)
  • White cider vinegar
  • Chilli (I use dried chilli flakes)
  • Tofu (needs to be firm. I love using Cauldron ginger tofu, and add the marinade from the packet to the sauce at the end)
  • Cornflour
  • Oil for deep-frying (I use vegetable, a.k.a. rapeseed oil)
  • A carrot or two
  • Brown rice
  • Coriander and/or cucumber to garnish

Method:

  1. For the sauce:
    • Put 1 part sugar, 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water in a small pan, and bring to the boil.
    • Simmer while preparing the other parts of the dish, until it starts to become slightly thick, like a sugar syrup.
  2. Cook the rice by adding to boiling water.
  3. Cut the tofu into pencil-thick sticks, and toss carefully in cornflour.
  4. Heat some oil in another small pan – don’t let it get too hot, just enough to make the cornfloured tofu turn a light golden brown.
  5. Deep-fry the tofu until crispy, and set aside on a plate until needed.
  6. Chop the carrot into strips about half the thickness of the tofu.
  7. When the rice and sauce are nearly ready, chuck the carrot into a hot wok with a little oil and stir fry until starting to brown around the edges.
  8. Add the sauce (and marinade if using the ginger tofu I suggested), and then at the last minute add the tofu. You don’t want it to be in the sauce too long or it will lose its crispiness.
  9. Drain the rice, put on a plate and add the crispy chilli tofu.
  10. Garnish with roughly chopped coriander and matchsticks of cucumber.
  11. Eat, then use your finger to get the leftover sticky sauce out of the wok!

On food

I still think there’s an important place for a few grazing animals. On the other hand, industrial (also known as ‘cheap’) farming of animals is just unconscionable. Still deciding how this all fits together though…

Also, if you’re reading this and if I’m boring you I don’t really care!I’ve been educating myself more and more about the production of food, with the aim of making the invisible visible. I’ve never seen an abattoir, I’ve never seen a dairy cow artificially inseminated, and I’ve never seen an industrial chicken/pork/beef/lamb operation in the flesh. Yet. So I’ve been gathering info and reading, listening to and watching what others have revealed behind the scenes of food production. I’m in the process of researching global stats on food production – more to follow on that front.

Bottom line: I want to talk FOOD and discuss, debate and learn all about it. So gimme a sign if you wanna join the conversation!!

Big love

BP

Pizza dough

This recipe is based on one I stole from a pastry chef at RiverStation some years ago. I’ll leave the sauce and toppings up to you for now – you just need a nice, smooth, blended tomato and veg sauce with whatever toppings you like. I find 2 or 3 toppings works best.

Makes 2 large pizzas (rectangular baking tray style).

Needed:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 300 ml warm water
  • 45ml olive oil
  • 25g yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method:

Mix water, oil an yeast.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Stir in liquid then knead together.

Flour worksurface, tear dough in half, and roll half out thin (~3mm).

Flour baking tray, bake in medium oven until just starting to develop colour.

Add sauce and toppings. Season and drizzle with olive oil (be sure to oil the crust).

Bake in hot oven until tasty. I like the crust pretty crispy.

Sushi rice

This recipe is taken from Rick Stein’s book, “Coast to Coast,” which was a leaving gift from the first school I taught in. Along with paper rolls, it is my favourite recipe that I learnt in 2012. You can put into rolls of nori with whatever fillings you like, make little nigiri with fish or omelette, or just eat it from a bowl. I can’t get enough of the stuff.

Needed:

  • 375g sushi rice
  • 600ml cold water
  • 6 tbspn rice vinegar
  • 2 tbspn caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Method:

Wash the rice thouroughly. You can put it in a bowl or pan with cold water and rub it between your fingers, changing the water two or three times, or run water through the rice while rubbing between your fingers. Either way, you want the water running off to be fairly clear.

Drain the rice, then put into a pan with the cold water.

Bring to the boil, and boil for 1 minute.

Reduce heat and simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes.

While this is happening, gently heat the rice vinegar and dissolve into it the salt and sugar. Leave to cool.

Remove from the heat, cover, and leave undisturbed for a further 10 minutes.

Turn out into a large, shallow tray and gently fold in the vinegar mixture. As it cools it should have a nice sheen. Cover with clingfilm as it cools at room temperature.

Use the sushi rice however you like – making rolls with nori is fairly straightforward, and there are usually pictures on the packet if you’re not sure. Best to get a sushi mat to roll these up.

To serve:

  • 4 parts dark soy sauce
  • 1 part mirin (rice wine)

Mix to make the perfect sushi dip, or simply pour a little over your sushi rice before diving in.

Sprouts and sumac

I made some sprouts with sumac a couple of Christmasses ago, but couldn’t relocate the recipe. I found this one, and used it on Christmas 2015, and it turned out to be good enough to make someone who doesn’t like sprouts say, “You found a way to make me like sprouts!”

Needed:

  • 10 – 20 sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons of melted coconut oil (I’m sure you could use any oil you like)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • Oven dish

Method

Preheat oven to Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6)

  1. In an oven dish mix together sprouts, oil, salt, cumin and sumac, spreading them out in a single layer
  2. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, turning a couple of times, until browned or caramelized on edges and tender
  3. That’s it!

Carrots and cumin

Soft carrots with a rich sweetness overlaid with the warmth of the cumin. This was part of my Christmas lunch on two occasions. They also go well in a picnic, particularly if you have a nice tiffin tin to put them in.

Needed:

  • 450g carrots, cleaned or peeled and cut into batons (or rounds if you prefer). That’s about 3 massive, 4-5 large, or 7-8 small carrots
  • Pinch of sugar (whatever type you like)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 pans

Method

  1. Place the carrots in a saucepan, cover with water
  2. Season and add the sugar.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook with the lid on until half cooked
  4. In a smaller pan, heat the butter until very hot, toss in cumin seeds, and after about 10 seconds add this to the carrots
  5. Leave it bubbling away until the water evaporates and the carrots are coated with the butter and cumin. Don’t worry if there’s a little bit of water left
  6. Put in a serving dish. Can be served warm or at room temperature