Work is now well underway with the new book, which means I’m up to my ears and elbows in ingredients whilst I recipe test this and that. Some recipes are ones I stored (not literally) from the last book (we just couldn’t fit everything in) but most are brand spanking new, and everyday there seems to be more – aaarrgghh! The hard task is deciding what ones to use so I’ll be filtering a few out from time to time here on the blog.
This raw tart is one such recipe. I absolutely loved it (and so did my Hubby) so I wanted to share it now rather than wait. Now, I know I was ranting on about stews and casseroles not so long along but I feel Christmas is far enough behind us that we can properly contemplate Spring and get our systems officially prepped and ready.
Raw food is a bit of a passion of mine and as the months become warmer I try to include more dishes like this in my diet. It’s not so much a cleanse but I can’t deny eating this way makes me feel kinda amazing and maybe a wee bit smug… although I know 100% raw is out of the question for me – I just love my stove/oven too much. In saying that,when summer hits I’ll be back to eating my two raw meals a day and one cooked (usually in the evening – I’m a sucker for a summer bbq), which I’ve discovered is a good balance for me.
This triple layered tart (pie, slice, whatever you want to call it) is a great combination of tangy, herby and subtly sweet – that’ll be the carrots for ya – and makes for an impressive little starter or lunch option. The trick here (and with all raw food really) is selecting/using the correct equipment – that is, knowing when to utilise the blender, food processor or, as is often the case with me, my trusty Delia mini chopper. That thing never fails me.
I sometimes get messages regarding raw cheesecakes or cashew cheeses saying the texture wasn’t quite as smooth as they had hoped, and usually this can be directly attributed to what equipment was used. That is, for crusts and cheeses, I will always use a processor or mini chopper (depending on the quantities) and for creams I rely on my blender. Now, this doesn’t have to be a fancy high-speed blender but I can’t deny my Froothie does help in getting those creams and cheesecakes especially smooth.
For the pesto part, it can go either way but my preference here is to go down the mini chopper route because you’ll want to retain a little coarseness to aid the overall texture – crucial with raw food, in my humble opinion. You might need to scrape down the sides a few times with a spatula but that’s no great hardship in the grand scheme of things.
You could achieve a firmer consistency overall by popping each layer into the freezer in between but seeing as I currently don’t possess one (although hopefully that will soon be rectified) I made do with the fridge and it turned out pretty great. To ensure the layers don’t bleed into one another, do make sure each one is fairly well set (it will never be solid) before adding the next – the coconut oil addition definitely helps.
I love serving tarts like this on a rustic wooden board in the centre of the table and let everyone help themselves. The vibrant colours go a long way to dispelling those longheld myths that raw food is all ‘rabbit food and deprivation’ and gives it more of an inclusive, accessible feel – not some holier than thou cuisine that serves to alienate half your guests. Not my style. I’m all about winning people over through delicious, wholesome, attractive food… and, thankfully, I’ve not had any complaints yet.
So, what are you waiting for? Your raw food future is just a slice away – you might be surprised how good it actually tastes.
what you’ll need
for the crust
2 small carrots
1 tbsp mixed seeds
1 heaped tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
salt & pepper
finely grate the carrots and squeeze out any excess juice into a bowl – reserve this juice for the sauce.
place everything into a processor or mini chopper and blitz until it forms a fine rubble. taste for seasoning and add a little more salt & pepper if necessary.
line a small tray or loaf tin with baking parchment and press the crust evenly into the bottom.
freeze or refrigerate for half an hour.
for the cream
130g soaked cashews
juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
salt & pepper
place everything into a blender and blitz until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as you go.
check for seasoning and then pour over the carrot crust, reserving one heaped tablespoon for the carrot sauce. Smooth out with a spatula.
freeze or refrigerate for around an hour.
for the pesto
30g basil Leaves
2 tbsp mixed nuts (walnuts and pecans work best)
juice ½ lemon
1 small garlic clove
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp flaxseed oil
salt and pepper
place the pesto ingredients into a small food processor or chopper and blend until coarse but spreadable. taste for seasoning and add a touch more salt and pepper if necessary.
refrigerate for 20 minutes.
for the carrot serving sauce
reserved carrot juice
1 tbsp cashew cream
1/2 medjool date
place the reserved carrot juice into a blender, add the cashew cream and date and blitz until completely smooth.
assembling the tart
carefully lift the tart out of the tin and ease it onto a serving board. spoon over the pesto and carefully spread out using a spatula.
drizzle over the carrot sauce and adorn with crushed hazelnuts
et voila, your raw vegan tart is served!
I am just about clinging on this month so I need every materialistic comfort I can get my hands on to see me through. Surrounding myself with pretty things is just the ticket to beating these January blues and a good book (namely ‘Not That Kind Of Girl’) is also required, especially during this so-called ‘digital detox’ I’ve imposed upon myself. Luckily for me Lena Dunham’s witty writing style is perfect bedtime fodder and the make-do tea lights (more on those in a minute) are on point too in setting that sleepy-bye-byes mood.
A couple of things here are Christmas gifts from my Husband (that man truly gets me) but before I wax lyrical about my latest Mary Quant scarf let me draw your attention to the cute personalised stamps I acquired from NotOnTheHighStreet. I must confess, I’d never ordered anything from there before although I’ve always been intrigued by their wares. I’d intended to give out edible gifts at Christmastime (hence the stamp) but unfortunately due to my absolute self-confessed stupidity I listed the wrong postcode meaning it (along with the requisite cellophane bags) didn’t arrive in time. Ugh. Idiot. Thankfully I’ll still get good use out of them but I was infuriated (at myself) at the time.
Onto the scarf then. Another absolute beauty sourced online and given to me by my wonderful Husband… I adore Mary Quant and this colourful option is going to get so much wear during the summer. I’ve been playing around with different ways to style it although I think I’ll probably end up using it most as a headscarf. What can I say? J’adore.
The charm bracelet was a ridiculous (like, five quid ridiculous) bargain I found at a terrific vintage jeweller’s in Derry called The Whatnot. They have sooooo much incredible stuff in there, I could seriously spend hours browsing the shelves. We were actually on some official earring business (my Dad was buying my Mum’s Christmas gift) when I spied it out of the corner of my eye and knew I had to have it. I kind of feel like it’s an homage to our London days, even though it wasn’t actually bought in London. And I can’t deny, I did come over all nostalgic for those happy years we spent in the capital although I’m not sure how much fun it would be now. Rose tinted glasses, eh?
Herbal teas are where I’m at and Yogi is a fav brand of mine – this one was Sweet Chai and it has a real spicy kick to it. Sometimes I add a splash of soya milk and a teaspoon of agave but today I enjoyed it ‘au naturale’. I also love how each bag comes with a philosophical saying or quote. This one read:
In distant travel you learn about yourself
Having just recently discovered my skin type is ‘dry’ (and what with this winter weather wreaking havoc with my skin) I was desperate to find a natural solution. I did some research (YouTube is a wondrous thing!) and Argan Oil came up a lot, so I knew I had to try it. I’ve been using it solidly since before Christmas (I apply it after removing my make-up in the evening) and now I’m a total 100% Argan Oil convert – it really does live up to the hype. Whereas before I was waking up in the morning with a tightness in my skin, it now feels soft and supple and totally hydrated. If, like me, you also suffer from dry skin then I honestly can’t recommend this stuff highly enough. The brand I went for was Dr.Organic, which can be purchased at Holland & Barrett. Go try it ! Now!
Oh, and those simple glass tealight holders once contained scented candles. All I did was wash them out and I must say I really am quite taken with them. That’s my kind of recycling! What are you currently coveting? Leave me comment below.
PHOTO CREDIT – ALI ALLEN
Okay, so January isn’t exactly whizzing by but maybe that’s not such a bad thing … after all it gives us time to really adjust to those resolutions. If you’ve decided to give Veganuary a whirl or are just looking to tweak your diet for the better then why not join me for a full day of vegan cooking at the Waitrose Cookery School in Finchley on Saturday 24th January between 9.30am and 4pm. There are still some spots left on the course (but you best hurry before they sell-out!) where I’ll be taking you through some specially selected recipes from my book ‘Keep it Vegan’.
The price for the full day is 150pounds, which will supply you with all your ingredients and equipment plus wine with lunch. The course is not aimed directly at vegans either – everybody is welcome at my table and I am so excited to connect with you all in reality. So, even if you’re just a teeny bit curious or simply want to expand your vegan/veggie menu (especially handy when you have vegan guests!) I have endeavored to tailor the day to be as expansive and inclusive as possible.
Here’s what you can expect…
When you arrive you will be met with freshly prepared Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins and Bircher Muesli, which you will then learn to make yourself.
Afterwards we will begin preparing our lunch, which will include my Macaro-no Cheese followed by one of my personal favs from the book – the Indian Spiced Tacos. Next up I’ll be offering some tofu tips before taking you through my Sweet ‘n’ Sour Tofu dish step by step. This will be accompanied by my Green Bean Salad with Lemon, Garlic & Chilli as well as the ever-popular Cumin Spiced Carrots – because, in my opinion, side dishes are equally important as the main!
Dessert dishes will include my easy-peasy Carrot Cake Bites (for the health conscious amongst us) as well as my super-rich Fudgy Brownies (for those of us who don’t mind a little sugar in our lives). Yikes, I don’t know about you but I’m full already, haha!
To cap the day off I decided to go with my No-knead Carrot & Courgette Bread alongside my Balsamic and Black Peppercorn Cashew Cheese because they’re great ones to have up your sleeve. And that’s that!
I will, of course, be available to answer any questions you have so feel free to ask away on the day – look forward to seeing you there!
It’s a new year folks and I for one am ready to wipe the slate clean and start anew. Sayonara 2014, I’ve seen enough of your sorry ass and I’m more than ready to move on. In honour of this fresh beginning we have laid out before us (please be kind 2015!) I’ve decided to strip things right back to basics. Nothing fancy. No unpronounceable ingredients or long-winded instructions. Simply a straightforward stew. Comforting. Familiar. Seasonal. And super easy to make. I (and I hope you) approve.
I talked of resolutions in my last post and I’m pleased to inform you that one in particular has been something of revelation. The whole ‘no internet before bed’ thing is having a staggering effect on my sleep. Not forcing stimulation on my already tired, social-media sensitized brain is like a magic cure for overactive minds that tend to worry into the wee hours of the night. It’s quite literally like turning off the light in my head. If you haven’t made such a resolution yourself, I seriously urge you to give it a go – especially if you’re in need of a good nights kip like myself.
Back to the stew then. Straight-up comfort food is what I’m after during these dark months – not least in January when my morale is at an all time low. Just when I think I have a handle on things, boom, something else sidles out of the woodwork just to add an extra level of stress to my day. Hence the ultra pared down images with minimal accessories, which kinda reflect my current need to focus on the job at hand without any major distractions. Chance would be a fine thing.
I realise this probably all sounds like I’m talking in code but suffice to say the second book is underway meaning the next few months are going to be cra-zy. Not least because the current book is yet to be released in the US (it’s launching in Feb, by the way) so it’s all systems go. I’ll be blogging as much as I can during this hectic period – I actually find a lot of solace here and it’s also a great way for me to flesh out ideas. For now though, a soothing bowl of spring green stew it is.
what you’ll need
1 tbsp olive oil
2 brown onions
2 large carrots
3 celery sticks
1 sprig rosemary
several sprigs of thyme
a few sage leaves
4 cloves garlic
5 salad potatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
380g drained cannellini beans
two large handful spring greens
salt and pepper
30g flat leaf parsley
what you’ll do
heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan. roughly chop the onion, carrot and celery and add to pan. season, cover and sweat for several minutes until they begin to soften.
finely chop the rosemary, thyme and sage. add to pan and stir to coat. sweat for several more minutes. finely slice the garlic and add to pan. cover and let the garlic infuse for a few minutes.
roughly chop the salad potatoes and add to pan. stir to combine before covering with water and adding the stock cube. bring to gently simmer and cook for around 10-15minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.
add the spring greens followed by the drained and rinsed cannellini beans, season and cover. let the greens wilt into the stew before stirring to combine, then simmer gently for around 10minutes. check seasoning and serve with a generous scattering of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley. a hunk of crusty bread would be perfect to mop up any juices too.