Tag Archives: cooking

Burns Night approaches

FAIR fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!

So said Robert Burns of the haggis. Good word ‘sonsie’, it really should be used more. You can get a sonsie vegan haggis in many shops now to serve with neeps and tatties.

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You could make some sonsie Cranachan for afters, recipe taken from our cakes and puddings page:

Cranachan
This is often served at Burn’s Suppers in Scotland.
Ingredients: half a cup of porridge oats; 1 small box of soya cream; 1 tablespoon of Agave Nectar; 1 tablespoon of whisky (or whisky flavouring if you don’t take alcohol); 1 punnet of fresh raspberries

Lightly toast the oats in a frying pan on the stove. Remove from heat and pour in the cream – it will bubble and thicken a bit with the heat. Stir well and add the agave and whiskey, and mix in. Add most of the rasps, keeping a few back for garnish. Place in dishes and chill in the fridge until pudding time.

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Other Scottish recipes that might be of use or preferable to haggis:

Scotch Broth
Balmoral Pie can be found on the main courses page (scroll down a bit). It’s a lovely dish of beans and sausages topped with mash.
Scottish Macaroons are a feast of sugar and potato.

Whatever you do, have an honest, sonsie time 😀

low sun

mini pizza bites

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Delicious and fresh after the rich food of Yule, the courgette bases are juicy and flavoursome. Nice as canapés or a starter.

Brush a baking tray with olive oil . We used three courgettes, sliced to just under a cm thick, to cover a full size oven tray. Top with pizza sauce of your choice: ours consisted of passata mixed with a little olive oil, finely chopped onion, dried oregano and seasalt. We topped off with some Redwood’s melting cheese, but half an olive would be nice too. Bake for about 20 minutes at 200C/400F.

And as we seem to have developed a food/tree rhythm in recent posts, here is a woodpecker hole in a Scots Pine, which happens to be roughly the same shape and size as a mini pizza bite 🙂

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cheesey sage and onion potato cakes

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A simple supper or a filling breakfast using up leftover mashed potato. We had one very heaped soup bowl of mash, but the recipe is versatile 🙂

Fry off 2 red onions and a couple of good sprigs of sage (chopped or scissored in). Mix into the potatoes with a block of grated cheezly and a tablespoon of flour. Squishing it all up with your hands is best. Press into fairly thin pancakes and dip each side in crumbs of some sort, we used Orgran Rice Crumbs. Shallow fry, turning once, until crispy.

Was very nice with Brussels sprouts and salad.

sun through the trees
sun through the trees

marble cake pretty

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Marble cake good. And easy, very easy. Simply mix up a vanilla cake batter (you’ll find a recipe here), then stir some cocoa into half of it. Combine the two mixes/colours by little more than a figure eight stir and plop into a baking tin and bake. We used the I Love Cake Mould which means the cake can be cut into big heart shaped slices, but marble cake is actually better sliced thin so you can see all the wonderful cake art you’ve made 😀

Don’t miss Vegan Christmas or Yule, because that’s happening. Lots of recipes, books and gift ideas over there.

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Tibits, Tomato Soup and Vegan Month

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Autumn is deepening and darkening, it’s conker time, it’s almost November, and November is vegan month. Animal Aid are running The Great Vegan Challenge where anyone can pledge to be vegan for a month with lots of help and support detailed here on their website (some rather nice recipes there too).

The vegetarian restaurant Tibits in London, normally 80% vegan in its offerings, is going to be launching Vegan Days, specifically on the 1st, 7th, 18th and 29th of November. Further vegan days will be mentioned here on their website. Judging by the lovely book they sent us – Tibits at Home – the food is pretty delicious.

Divided into seasons, the plethora of colourful recipes are all accompanied by photos. We liked the fact there are juice recipes and lots of really tasty sounding quinoa dishes, but today we tried the tomato soup with lemongrass and coconut milk, recipe below.

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Theirs is rather better presented than ours 🙂 The book is now splattered, always a good sign with a cookbook.

Preparation time 40 minutes:
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
1 stalk lemongrass
200g green leeks
600g fully ripened tomatoes
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
350ml vegetable stock
half tsp ginger powder
half tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp chilli oil
1 tsp sea salt
150ml coconut milk
freshly ground seasalt and white pepper

1. Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic. Squash the lemongrass on a chopping board and chop finely.
2. Wash the leek, cut into half lengthwise and then chop into fine strips. Wash the tomatoes, remove the stem ends and chop into 3cm dice.
3. Sweat the onion, garlic and lemongrass in the hot olive oil until transparent. Add the diced tomatoes, veg stock, ginger, lemon pepper, chilli oil and sea salt and simmer at low temperature for 20 minutes.  Puree the soup in a food processor and pass through a sieve.
4. Add the coconut milk and the leek and lightly cook for another five minutes. Add seasalt and pepper to taste.

It was a very nice and warming recipe despite being from the summer section of the book. There are many sweet photos throughout, this was our favourite:

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Next up will be the parsnip soup though the linguini with pumpkin and swiss chard also looks enticing…

Don’t forget out own paprika pumpkin soup recipe this autumn, the shops seem to be stocking proper culinary pumpkins this year.

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Chilli! Books! Autumn leaves!

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A very simple and very good (and rather vague) recipe. Fry off some finely chopped onion and garlic and add a selection of roughly chopped – chunky – vegetables. We used: courgettes; red, green and yellow peppers and celery.  Mushrooms would be great too. Add chilli of choice, either finely chopped fresh chillis, dried chilli or a chilli powder mix, or maybe a mixture of these. Stir well.

Bung in a box of passata or chopped tomatoes and add a little water to the mix. Bring to boil and turn down to simmer. Once veg is tender add a tin or two of cooked red kidney beans and salt to taste. Nice served with rice, a baked potato or quinoa or, if you’re feeling a bit trashy, chips. Cucumber is a good cooling accompaniment. Other optional additions: a teaspoon of sugar stirred into the sauce really brings out the flavours in a different, sweet, way; a few squares of dark chocolate melted through it turn the dish into a darker, richer mole.

Don’t eat  when you’ve been talked into watching a scary fast moving zombie film that will make you consume the hot chilli far too fast and overheat in a bad way.

Unconnected, book related advice: reading Very British Problems: Making Life Awkward for Ourselves, One Rainy Day at a Time will stave off the depression caused by reading certain parts of the new Bridget Jones book.

And, books again: now is the time to get a copy of Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Christmas for 1 pence or 1 cent. The price will inflate hugely through November and December and it’s a lovely collection of recipes. See our review here or visit Amazon in the UK or Amazon in the USA.

And finally, a mention for the wonderful online health food shop Goodness Direct, such a life saver for rural dwelling vegans.

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vegan pizza cheese!

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It goes all melty in the oven and tastes like something from the distant past, in a good way, not in an over-flavoured, chemically and unfortunate way. This pizza cheese comes ready grated and is delicious. I extended the taste testers beyond just our family, including those who still eat dairy cheeses, and the general consensus was that this vegan cheese ‘does not taste weird’, which is actually quite an accolade.

The same company do a range of sliced vegan cheeses in ten flavours: original, cheddar, peppers, hot peppers, olive oil, olives, tomato and basil, herbs, pizza  and mushroom. They all share subtle flavouring from whole added ingredients and are very pleasant in a sandwich. Particular favourites in this house were mushroom, herb and pepper. Pictured below is the ‘original’ type paired with lettuce and onion.

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I like the fact that the products contain no palm oil; they are also free from gluten and soya.

Available from Goodness Direct and some health food shops.