Tortilla Española

This year Viva! launched a new campaign inviting people to ‘Face Off’ the meat industry with a series of videos of undercover investigations. This one has touched a lot of hearts… www.viva.org.uk/faceoff/eggs.

Now we have the VeganEgg! I tried it for the first time yesterday and made scrambled egg – it’s brilliant! My Mum used to make Spanish omelettes for us when we were kids, traditionally Spanish omelette is made with eggs, onion and potato. She would throw in red peppers, peas and all sorts. Since I bought the new VeganEgg, I couldn’t wait to try this out. It works really well!

  • 1 medium potato, chopped into cubesIMG_8800
  • ½ an onion, chopped
  • ¼ red pepper, chopped
  • Small handful thyme
  • 2 tbs VeganEgg
  • 100ml ice cold water
  • Small handful of grated vegan cheese (Violife)
  • Olive oil
  1. Boil the potato for a few minutes until just beginning to soften
  2. Fry the potato, onion and red pepper with the herbs until beginning to colour
  3. Mix the VeganEgg and coldwater and whisk until smooth
  4. Combine the veg into the egg mix and stir then return to the pan, throw the cheese on top and continue to fry on a low heat (cover with a saucepan lid for a few minutes)
  5. When you think the bottom has cooked enough, place under the grill for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbling
  6. Serve with plenty of freshly ground black pepperIMG_8768

 

 

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Vegan Egg OMFG

As if Aqua faba wasn’t enough, now there’s a vegan egg! Oh lordy, what next? It’s well over a decade since I ate an egg. I have to confess, chicken abortion comments aside, I was a fan. I never liked meat – all that gristle and tubes! However, I liked an egg butty with dollops of ketchup. Since discovering black salt (Kala namak) I’ve been making a pretty passable vegan egg mayo sarnie. Now this!

It’s a bit pricey – around £7 a box which contains the equivalent of 12 eggs. To make classic scrambled egg you add 115ml of ice-cold water to 2 tbsp of the Vegan egg powder and whisk with a balloon whisk. Then fry in a pan, scramble it about a bit for a few minutes then pile it upon hot toast. Voilà!

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It was the eggiest thing I’ve tasted in years in terms of texture, it tasted eggy too but you could add a bit more black salt if you want the real eggy pong.

So what is this alchemy? It’s made from algae! Very clever.

Spanish omelette next I reckon…

 

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Early summer salads

IMG_8763

Earlier this year I went to see a film called ‘Balls, Barriers and Bulldozers’ it was a documentary about the Easton Cowgirl’s football tour to the West Bank. After the film I bought some Palestinian Zaytoun olive oil from the little stall the Easton Cowboys had set up in the independent microplex cinema. It’s really tasty and a bit peppery. They gave me a free packet of Za’atar which is a middle eastern mix of toasted sesame seeds with thyme, sumac and salt. Inspired by a couple of recipes I pulled out of a magazine I made these two salads up but I wasn’t concentrating and got the dressing round the wrong way. (I actually think it works better this way). I blame it on the fact that I’ve been ill and just really wanted to eat spaghetti hoops.

Spelt, Avocado and Radish SaladIMG_8755

  • 200g Farro Dicocco spelt (Waitrose/Ocado)
  • 1-2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 8 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 6-7 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 re pepper, sliced
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Splash of water
  • Toasted sliced almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  1. Heat some water in a small pan then add the spelt and bring to the boil, simmer for 15 mins until cooked.
  2. Drain the spelt and leave to cool.
  3. Chop/slice all the veg and combine with the spelt in a shallow bowl.
  4. Mix the tahini with the molasses, lemon juice and add a splash  of water if you need then pour it over the salad.
  5. Top with the toasted seeds/nuts.

Quinoa, Fennel and Carrot SaladIMG_8746

  • 100g white, black and red quinoa
  • 2 small carrots, sliced using a peeler
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 tsp za’ater
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp (Palestinian) olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Small handful of fennel leaves
  1. Heat 360ml water in a small pan then add the quinoa and bring to the boil, simmer for 15 mins until cooked. The water should all be absorbed into the quinoa.
  2. Let the quioa cool for a few minutes then mix in the carrot, fennel and onions.
  3. Mix the za’atar with the lemon juice and olive oil and syrup and pour over the salad.
  4. Garnish with the fennel leaves.

 

 

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Gluten-free Vegan Churros

These are slightly tricky to make as the dough is not so easy to work with as regular wheat-based dough but with a little determination, they came out OK!

  • 500g Dove’s Farm gluten-free flourIMG_8615
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp caster sugar
  • 50g margarine
  • 7g dried yeast
  • 300ml warm water
  • Sunflower or rapeseed oil for frying
  • For dusting: ½ tsp cinnamon and 50g caster sugar
  1. Sift the flour, salt and sugar together in a bowl then rub in the margarine
  2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water
  3. Make a well in the flour and pour in the yeast and water mix
  4. Mix to a smooth dough and knead for a few minutes
  5. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and leave to rise for 1 hour
  6. Prepare the cinnamon dusting sugar by mixing the cinnamon and sugar
  7. Heat the oil in a deep pan or wok
  8. Transfer the dough into a piping bag, if it feel very dry and solid, gently mix in a bit more warm water to soften it up enough to pipe
  9. Pipe 3-4 inch sausage shapes into the hot oil snipping each one off with a pair of scissors – it helps if you have an assistant for this but!
  10. Deep fry the churros for 2-3 minutes until golden
  11. While still hot, roll them in the cinnamon sugar
  12. Serve with boozy fruit (we had fresh figs in Madeira) and a salted bay chocolate sauce.IMG_8608
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Vegan Paella – food for friends!

This is great party food; colourful and full of flavour. Make a big pan full and bring it to the table for everyone to help themselves to. There should be enough for eight in this recipe if you start the evening with baked olives, chipotle almonds and Padrón peppers. A good dessert to follow would be churros with boozy fruit and salted chocolate sauce.

  • 1 tbsp olive oilIMG_8598
  • 1 large Spanish onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 300g Calasparra (paella) rice
  • 200ml sherry (I like Tio Pepe)
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 900ml veg stock
  • 300g broad beans, blanched and shelled
  • 12 mini plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 jar grilled artichokes
  • 1 tbsp arame seaweed, soaked for 20 mins in water
  • 20 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 8 lemon wedges
  1. Heat oil, fry onions for 5 minsIMG_8601
  2. Add peppers & fennel, fry till golden
  3. Add garlic, 1 min
  4. Add bay, paprika, turmeric & chilli, stir in for 1 min
  5. Stir in rice
  6. Add sherry & saffron, boil down for 2 mins
  7. Add stock, simmer for 20 mins (don’t cover or stir)
  8. Blanche and skin beans
  9. Soak arame in hot water for 5 mins then drain
  10. Remove from heat, add beans, toms, artichokes, tofu and arame
  11. Cover tightly and leave for 10 mins
  12. Scatter olives and parsley on and serve with lemon wedges
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Wild Garlic Pesto

IMG_8673Right now, the woods are full of Allium ursinum (wild garlic or bear’s leek). It is a wild relative of chives native to Europe and Asia. It is also called Bear’s Leek because brown bear’s like to eat the bulbs and will dig up the ground to get at them, they are also a favourite of the wild boar. It is a bulbous, perennial herbaceous monocot with narrow bulbs that produce bright green leaves up to 25cm long. The inflorescence is an umbel of 6-20 star-like edible white flowers. The plant’s broad, pointed leaves have a similar taste to leeks, onions, spring onions, chives and garlic. The white flowers are perfectly edible and very pretty too. In April, when wild garlic is at its peak, you are more likely to find delicious tight buds than open flowers.

The fact that wild garlic is good for you as well as delicious is an added bonus. When eaten raw, the leaves are strong and fiery, but when lightly blanched or wilted in olive oil they make a delicate garlicky alternative to spinach. Get seasonal and serve them with jersey royals and asparagus, or add them to a spring risotto, or potato cakes or scrambled tofu for a perfect seasonal brunch. Don’t hang about, it’ll be gone by June!

Wild Garlic Pesto (makes enough for 6-8 servings)

  • One large bunch of wild garlic (almost enough to loosely fill the blender)
  • A few leaves of flat leaf parsley (optional)
  • A small block of vegan Parmesan (the size of a matchbox), chopped up into small chunks
  • 1-2 tbs toasted pine nuts
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt

Throw it all in the blender and whizz until smooth. There you go! Serve it with pasta and asparagus and a small salad. Leftover pesto can be spread in a sandwich with avocado and tomato.

 

 

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Serendipity (hot cross) buns

It’s Good Friday morning and Marc is making hot cross buns like his Mum used to when he was a kid. Only they’re not quite the same; no eggs, no milk and he had a brain fart and forgot the sugar. I reckon we should call them Serendipity buns because they are bloody lovely! You really don’t need the sugar. He adapted his recipe from one his Mum gave him that was photocopied from the Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook – Mary Berry’s first cookbook originally published in 1970. I would love to get my hands on the original edition of this!

Here’s the recipe:IMG_8452

  • 12oz white bread flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2oz vegan margarine
  • 4oz currants

For the yeast mix:

  • 1 packet (7oz) dried yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ pint warm soya milk
  • ¼ pint warm water
  • 4oz plain flour
  1. Blend yeast with mixed warm milk and water, sugar and flour and leave until frothy – about 20 mins.
  2. Sift flour, salt and spices.
  3. Mix the marg into the yeast batter and add the flour and fruit.
  4. Mix well and knead dough on a floured work surface for 10 mins.
  5. Dived dough into 12 pieces and shape into buns.
  6. Place on a floured baking sheet – spaced apart.
  7. Place inside a greased bag or slightly warm oven or other warm place and leave to rise for 45 mins.
  8. Remove bag and make a cross on each on with a very sharp knife – just breaking the surface.
  9. Bake in a hot oven (220°C) for 15-20 mins.
  10. Cool on a wire tray.
  11. To make the glaze, boil 2 tbsp soya milk and 2 tbsp water with 1 ½ oz sugar. Brush the hot buns twice.
  12. Voilà!
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