Bread , Breakfast , Desserts/Sweets/Baking , dinner , Mexican , outfits , PeaSoupWears , personal , Starters/Sauces/Dips , Vegan , Vegan Fashion , vegan recipes , vintage
Can you believe today is officially the last day of Christmas. We’ve eeked it out to the bitter end but will reluctantly be taking down the tree and decorations today. Whilst I’m sad to say goodbye to a wonderful holiday I am excited about what the future holds so it seems only too appropriate to look back on what has been another fun year in blogging terms, as well as a pretty eventful year professionally also – I’m one step closer to a full time job in fashion with my new placement at the Financial Times starting next week:)
On the personal front, it’s all about making our flat more ‘us’, saving money so that we might be able to put a deposit down on a property at some point soon and just generally relishing every minute with my Husband and Family because really, when it comes down to it, that’s what makes me happy. Forget burning ambitions and dreams of a successful career, Family and home life will always be my priority. That doesn’t mean I won’t be making music(getting back into my violin playings kids!), learning to dance(laban here I come….) and sharpening my acting skills(i’m thinking a masterclass in method?!) because that’s all happening too. But you can only do those things if you have your priorities straight and I think for once I can safely say I do.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Well, almost. Although by the time I publish this it will technically be Thanksgiving in the UK…even though we don’t celebrate it here….except we will be.
Having lived in Chi-Town for a couple of years we kinda consider ourselves honorary Americans and we even have one of our Chicagoan friends here in London joining us for a full on Thanksgiving dinner. Truthfully, we probably wouldn’t be marking the day if it weren’t for him, but hey, I’m thankful for friends so why the heck not eat some tasty grub whilst appreciating everything we have. Sounds like a plan to me.
Here’s my menu, which includes the pumpkin seen in above gif (I’m doing gif’s now, get me *cough* I didn’t even know what one was until about a fortnight ago). I pureed the sucker and made it into a pie with a ginger snap crust made with almost a full packet of ginger snap biscuits (cookies) mixed with about a third of a cup of melted vegan butter. Pat it into a pie tin and bake in a moderately high oven for 10-15 minutes and allow to cool a little before pouring on the filling, which goes a little something like this….
1 cup silken tofu
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet freedom or agave
1 heaped tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 heaped tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
Blend until smooth, pour over the crust and bake (180 celsius/350 fahrenheit) for an hour until set but with a little bit of jiggle. Allow to cool completely before refrigerating overnight.
I’ll also be serving…
braised cabbage and apple (without the bacon and butter!)
sauteed brussel sprouts with pomegranate seeds and chestnuts
sage and onion stuffing balls
maple roasted parsnips
redwoods celebration roast
and for dessert…
*with an experimental coconut and pumpkin ice-cream, which I made up in a moment of panic when I realised I didn’t buy anything to go with the pie. I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out.
Now that’s what I call ‘A Very Vegan Thanksgiving’ – Woot!
It’s official. I’ve got the post holiday blues. With nothing else for it, I’ve retreated to the kitchen and attempted to console myself in a bit of cooking therapy…..it’s kinda working.
We had so much wonderful food in Santorini and it was surprisingly easy to stick to a plant based diet although I did unintentionally eat a little Greek yoghurt – these things happen.
I did happen to have the most incredible pasta dish of my life (and I’ve eaten A LOT of pasta) – linguine with Santorini cherry tomatoes and capers. I know that doesn’t sound very exciting but it was seriously ‘wow’ – Santorini is famed for both its cherry toms and capers and I for one couldn’t get enough. I will definitely be trying to recreate this in my own kitchen soon. I even managed to get my hands on some knobbly baby tomatoes similar to the Santorini beauties. Obviously they won’t be as delicious but it’s the best I can do in these climes – harumph.
Last night though was tofu night. I’m a huge tofu fan and I would suggest that if your impression is one of a bland, tasteless slab of nothing, this recipe might just be enough to change your mind. It’s got a wonderfully caramelised, charred outer and creamy but firm inner. No need to salt the tofu either, the marinade does all the hard work for you and the longer you leave it the more intense the flavours become. Be warned though, your frying pan will take a beating – elbow grease needed for the clean up for sure!
1/2 block firm tofu
2 tbsp miso paste
juice 1/2 lime
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp agave or maple syrup
1/4 cup of oil (coconut, sunflower or canola)
Drain the tofu, place it in a shallow bowl with a plate on top. Now put two cans on top of the plate and set aside for 15 minutes. Drain the excess liquid, pat dry and cut lengthways so you get two equal halves. Then slice into four triangles. Return to the shallow bowl – I use two at a time and keep the rest in the fridge for another night.
In another bowl whisk together the miso paste, lime juice, tamari, sesame oil and sweetener. Pour the marinade over the tofu and turn the tofu several times to ensure it is completely coated. Set aside for at least 20 minutes – the longer you leave it the better although if you are in a hurry 10 mins will suffice.
Heat a quarter cup of oil in a skillet and add the tofu. Fry until dark and caramelised on one side (about 10 minutes) before turning over and doing the same on the other side. The great thing about tofu is that it retains its heat for an age but equally, if you want to make this in advance and eat cold, it tastes just as good!
Real girls eat real dinners. I know I do. They’re not pretty, beautifully presented and camera ready. They’re messy, chaotic and hurried. But (mostly) always tasty.
Spaghetti is most definitely one of my top five foods. It’s been there for a while. Others may come and go but spaghetti remains.
White cabbage on the other hand……not in my top five. Not in my bottom five either, mind you, but it’s definitely a vegetable that needs help. Hello smoked paprika….
…..a kitchen is not a kitchen without smoked paprika. Just sayin’.
Courgette. Zucchini. Whatever you like to call it, I love it. How you slice it is important. No rounds here my friends. Strips.
Then there’s sliced white onion. Organic white onion. The strong kind that makes your eyes hurt bad when you cut into them. A flavour necessity. Most definitely.
Garlic. Obviously. Lot’s of it. Obviously.
Fry it up, toss it together and serve with tofu sausage and a colossal couscous salad. This is called durum wheat overload. My kind of meal.
1/2 sliced large white onion
1/2 finely sliced pointed white cabbage
1 sliced courgette/zucchini
3 large garlic cloves finely sliced
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper
heat the oil in a skillet/frying, add the onion, season with salt and pepper and sautee gently until beginning to soften.
add the garlic and fry for a few minutes before adding the cabbage and courgette. season generously and sautee gently until soft, stirring frequently. this will take around 20minutes.
meanwhile bring a large pan of water to the boil, salt and add the spaghetti.
when the cabbage mixture is sufficiently soft, sprinkle over the smoked paprika and stir to combine. season and allow the flavours to infuse for around five minutes or so.
when the pasta is cooked al dente, reserve a little liquid, drain the pasta and transfer to the frying pan. season with salt, pour over a small amount of the reserved liquid and toss to thoroughly combine.
for the tofu…
cut into thick slices and gently fry in sunflower oil until both sides are golden.
So. What you need to do is…..
…..get yourself some itty bitty pasta. The kind you put in soups. I found these teeny tube shapes in the ‘world food’ section of our local supermarket – funnily enough, not in the Italian bit.
Then, you want to make a paste from just about any herbs hanging around – flat leaf parsley, coriander, basil. Sorta like a pesto ‘cept not. No pine nuts necessary but fennel, celery and onion are good components for flavour.
Put it all in a pan, cook it up and bingo, you’ve got yourself one tasty little supper dish. That easy.
Y’know, I need more simplicity in my kitchen, which is why I’ve been loving this paste thing so much. I’ve used it with rice, giant couscous and I plan to use it with other grains. It’s a winner.
And I think it’s only appropriate that I give credit to the magnificent Ms. Miers. That lady knows food. Big love.
herbs – flat leaf parsely, coriander, basil etc.
fennel, celery or onion - some or all
garlic – big clove
lemon or lime juice – a bit
olive oil – glug
salt and pepper
mini pasta shapes – about a cup
1/2 vegetable stock cube
halved cherry tomatoes – a few
cubed basil tofu – optional
make a paste. lightly fry. add the pasta and stir to coat it. add the stock cube and cover with water.
simmer until all the water is absorbed, add a little more water and continue to simmer until the pasta is fully cooked.
stir through the tomatoes and basil tofu. heat through. season. serve.
I took these photos with the intention of tweeting them – not blogging them! I then had a thought that some of you might be possibly interested in the recipe, as it’s an everyday sort of dish, which is how and why this blog began.
You see, it’s been over two years since this site was born and along the way it’s changed direction somewhat (let’s call it progression) and I’ve almost forgotten what my initial desire was – to share simple recipes that I cook pretty much every single day.
Of course, in that time, I’ve taken up a plant based diet but really that has altered my cooking style very little. We still have the same meals (and some new ones too), albeit it veganized versions, and I still like to keep things simple. To me, that’s what home cooking is all about. Sure, I occasionally push the boat out but on a daily basis it’s those staple dishes I turn to.
So, before I got a chance to tweet this recipe, it suddenly dawned on me that it might be a good one for the blog. I hope you agree.
n.b. the grotty photos are merely a guide as to how it may look, I can assure you it tasted a heck of a lot better. In fact, it was delicious.
vegan cottage pie
1 pack cauldron tofu mince (you could use any brand or replace with lentils/beans)
1 small leek
1 celery stalk
1 cup frozen garden peas
2 large minced garlic cloves
1 400g organic canned tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree (or if you’re desperate, ketchup)
1 tsp brown rice syrup or other sweetener
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp marmite
1 tbsp herbes de provence
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
5 medium organic potatoes
1 tsp vegan margarine
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp finely chopped dill
salt and pepper
pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees/ 350 fahrenheit.
heat the oil in a large skillet on a medium heat. finely slice the leek and chop the parsnip, carrot and celery into small pieces. add to pan and gently sautee until they begin to soften.
add the tofu, garlic, seasoning, add a tablespoon of the balsamic and cook for 10mins before adding the chopped tomatoes. season with salt and pepper, add the sweetener, balsamic (remaining tablespoon), puree, marmite, splash of water and simmer for 20minutes adding more water if it becomes too dry.
meanwhile, peel the potatoes and chop into small pieces, salt, cover with water and clamp on lid. bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until soft. drain and mash with the margarine, salt and pepper until creamy. using a spatula mix through the mustard and dill.
finally, add the frozen peas to the sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes. transfer the tofu/veg sauce to a casserole dish and cover with the mash ensuring the mixture is completely encased in potato – I like to use a fork for this.
bake for 25-30minutes, allow to cool for 5-10minutes (it will be piping hot!) before serving.