Weekends for me are all about my kitchen. I tend to spend the entire two days pottering around in there, making this and that – and eating way too much in the process! Whereas I used to make menu plans, now I allow the ingredients to do all the talking, which makes for more interesting dishes and more fun in La Cucina.
Still harboring an obsession for Mexican Cuisine, I rely heavily on tortilla for quick lunches and dinners. Tacos are so versatile, as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter what you fill them with, they’ll still taste amazing. With that said, sauces and dressing are what take most good meals to next level and this sweet n’ spicy jalapeno dressing does just that.
I suppose in essence this is what you might call a vinaigrette but we’ll stick with dressing for now. The jalapenos are crucial and so is their minced nature – just keep going over them with a sharp knife until you get the desired ‘squishy’ consistency.
And then…..just mix it through the cous cous AS WELL AS pouring it generously on top before consumption. This would also make a great zingy salad dressing or a yummy dip for bread.
for the dressing
5 pickled jalapeno pieces
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 heaped tbsp agave syrup
juice of half lime
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper
put everything in an empty jar and shake vigorously until it emulsifies.
cous cous ingredients
1/2 cup cous cous
1 tbsp taco seasoning
1/2 cup defrosted frozen peas
1 tbsp chopped coriander
place the cous cous and taco seasoning in a bowl. mix to combine and cover with freshly boiled water. put a plate on top and leave to soak for ten minutes.
fluff with a fork and stir through the peas, coriander and half the dressing.
serve alone or in a crunchy taco – top with more dressing before eating!
Miso has many uses. Not the fancy paste stuff – although that has a place in my kitchen too. No, I’m talking about plain old instant miso variety packed full of salty goodness, hmmmm hmmm. Freeze dried food never tasted so good!
I like the Clearspring brand but any will do the job……
….and believe me when I tell you it is the perfect antidote to flavourless (dare I say bland?) couscous.
Yeah, I know I can add spices, herbs and all sorts to give it a lift but when a packet can do all the hard work for you, sometimes you just gotta relent and succumb to the power of convenience.
easy miso couscous
1/2 cup couscous
1 x packet instant miso
1/2 cup organic chickpeas
juice 1/2 lemon
3 x tbsp olive oil
mint and lemon to serve
combine the couscous and miso in a bowl and stir to combine.
pour over 1/2 cup freshly boiled water, lightly mix and cover with a plate. set aside for 10minutes or until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid.
drain and rinse the chickpeas.
fluff the couscous with a fork, add the chickpeas, lemon juice and oil and thoroughly mix.
serve with a sprig of mint and a slice of lemon……or just serve;)
Blogging is hard. It’s something that takes dedication, perseverance and a willingness to fail. Not every post will hit the mark and the ones you believe to be your best invariably become your least read. It’s not a science and you mostly don’t know who you’re talking to but always hope that you reach one or two that maybe, possibly, might like to come back. On occasion you may not feel up to writing, photographing, processing but you do it anyway and these posts seem to always turn out the most popular ones, which both baffles and pleases you. Stats drive and deter you. A bad numbers day has the power to ruin your sunny disposition until you realise they’re not all that important. You might stress if no-one has felt the urge to leave a comment and worry you’ve not connected with your readers in the way you’d hoped to. It’s complicated. Emotional even. But ultimately you do it because you love it. It’s a personal scrapbook holding memories, ideas and…… you. Yep, blogging is hard. But undoubtedly, positively, most definitely worth it.
carrot, apple & courgette salad
1 large carrot, grated
1 courgette, grated
1 apple, grated
juice of 1/2 lime
juice of 1/2 lemon
flavoured or good quality olive oil
salt and pepper
flat leaf parsely and hemp seeds to serve
-thoroughly combine all ingredients in a large bowl and serve immediately-
Bread , Breakfast , Desserts/Sweets/Baking , Pasta/Rice/Noodles , Salad , Vegan , Vegetable side dish
If you’re not already privy to my Marcus Samuelsson contributions, let me fill you in. Since May of last year Marcus has kindly featured two weekly PeaSoupEats recipes (one savoury, one sweet) on his rather fantastic website, which has many amazing cooking tips, dishes, as well as a boat load of info on food and health. My kind of site.
Thus far I have resolved to not make any resolutions and instead appreciate what the past year has brought and what 2012 has yet to bring. I’m continually amazed at how unpredictable life can be and I can safely say that my Husband and I are now officially go with the flow people – plans are for suckers.
Okay, so we still make plans but are more prepared for those plans not to work out. You learn such things after moving your entire lives across the Atlantic only to have to return a mere two years later. These things happen. You deal with it and move on.
If you had told me even a few months ago I would be sitting in my new London apartment about to embark on a fashion internship with the Daily Express I would’ve thought you were mad or at the very least delusional. And yet….here I am. In London. And I start my placement next Monday. Crazy.
Throughout everything that’s happened in 2011 – moving (again!), changing career – the two continuous things that have kept me grounded, happy, sane are my Husband (of course!) and my blog. Obviously, Ma, Pa and Sister get a mention too;)
In all seriousness though, this little blog has kept me going on many an occasion when I was feeling useless and gave me a much needed outlet. More significantly, I believe it has enabled me to flex those rusty writing muscles thus giving me the confidence to enter the world of fashion journalism and for that I am ever grateful.
It goes without saying (although I will say it) that I am so incredibly thankful to everyone who reads my blog. Without an audience this blogging lark would be a lot more difficult and I appreciate every view as if it were gold dust. Quite honestly, you are the reason I continue to write here, so to each and every one of you, thank you, thank you, a thousand times, thank you x
I started with noodles and therefore I will end with noodles – spotting a theme anyone? I think I can safely say noodles, chocolate and kale are my top 3 foods. Not a bad top 3 if you ask me!
Yes, you read right, salad in Winter. No, those tomatoes are not in season but the dressing more than made up for their lacking in the flavour department.
Why bother though, you ask, with ingredients that are mediocre, hmmm? Hmmmmm? Because, quite frankly, I’m not willing to wait until next summer to indulge in a little salad eating and that’s that.
The ‘casserole’ aspect to the dish is my way of striking that bizarre balance between Summertime eats in Wintertime temps and it doesn’t not work, I must admit.
Aside from the cooked rice, this dish requires mere assembling skills. Hurrah for easy meals in a fraught time of over indulgence and mass consumption of pretty much everything – i.e.Christmas. A minor triumph methinks.
Don’t get me wrong, I am the biggest Christmas afficionado that ever walked, wrapped or caroled but amidst the chaos that is my life at the minute, I am ever more frequently reaching for the tin of soup and meals like these are just about all I can muster – that packing ain’t gonna do itself, y’know!
I must admit to being beyond excited now about our very imminent move back to London – just over a week, ahhhhhh! The first thing I plan to do when we arrive is to put up the Christmas tree. Priorities and all that.
All I can say is, thanks goodness for Nigella Christmas. It may not be vegan but it sure as heck inspires me in the cooking department at this time of year and like I’ve said many times before, Nigella’s recipes are ripe for veganizing. Tonight we had her Butternut Squash Orzotto (lush!) – just leave out the mascarpone and Bob’s your Uncle (or is it Fanny’s your Aunt?). Of course, I couldn’t help but stir through some peppery rocket (arugula) and a handful of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley.
Oh, and not forgetting her dangerously alcoholic ‘Santa’s Little Helper’ cocktail, which has just about kept me sane these last few weeks. God bless ye Nig:)
2 large tomatoes
2 or 3 cooked beetroot
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 tbsp freshly chopped flat leaf parsely
1 heaped teaspoon dijon mustard
juice 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp red/white/cider vinegar
1 tsp agave or other sweetener
4 tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tbsp finely chopped capers
salt and pepper
1. Peel and slice the cucumber and avocado. Slice the tomato and beetroot.
2. Make the dressing by putting everything into an empty-or almost empty-mustard jar and shake vigorously until it emulsifies. Set aside.
3. In a medium sized casserole (baking) dish place a layer of cucumber followed by beetroot, avocado and then tomato. Lightly salt and then cover with half of the rice. Give the dressing another shake and then pour half over the rice and other ingredients.
4. Place another layer of veg on top in the same fashion, finishing with the rice. Pour over the remainder of the dressing and sprinkle over the flat leaf parsley. Let it sit for 10-15mins before serving. Goes wonderfully with baked tofu and a side of beans.
Actually, these are just two recipes I’ve made in the last week that were particularly memorable, so I thought I’d share them with you.
The pesto coated cannellini beans were made for a quick lunch, which I served alongside a simple bulgar wheat salad consisting of cubed cucumber, peeled broad beans, spring onions, raisins and chopped parsley. I squeezed in some lemon juice, olive oil and seasoned generously with salt and pepper. Oh, and I almost forgot, I added a little cumin, cinnamon and chilli powder to the bulgar wheat before soaking it in freshly boiled water – I find bulgar wheat can be a little bland if spices and herbs aren’t added at this stage.
Right then. The pesto. I heart it.
Traditional pesto is, of course, made with the inclusion of parmesan cheese, so when I first became vegan I thought my pesto days were over and that was a difficult pill to swallow. As my knowledge of veganism grew I soon learned that pesto need not be off limits and really and truly the parmesan isn’t as crucial as you might be led to believe.
Since then I’ve made a bucket load of the stuff and used it in all manner of dishes. It’s such a great standby sauce that can be whipped up in seconds, so I use it frequently and liberally.
Ditto gravy. Love it, love it, love it.
Coming into these colder months (it’s happening already – ugh) I plan on making a lot gravies and wholesome, hearty meals – perfect for warming those cockles on a blustery autumn evening.
This gluten free gravy was simply outrageous and so incredibly easy – I’m talking a few effortless minutes and et voila, you have a lusciously smooth flavourful sauce that is ideal for use in a multitude of meals. I just so happened to have a couple of vegan schnitzel’s in the freezer and I thought some mashed tatties and boiled cabbage (I’m a sucker for boiled cabbage – don’t judge!) would go nicely – and it did. Oh my goodness, was this tasty. Tas.ty.
Bonus that it happens to be a b12 fest! Nutritional yeast flakes and yeast extract – essential ingredients for your vegan cupboard and lifestyle. Don’t be skimping on that b12 intake, ya hear?!
So, if you’re stuck for time but still want something a bit special, both of these recipes are the perfect way to bring a little pizzazz to lunch or dinner.
pesto coated cannellini beans
2 tablespoons pine nuts (you could also use walnuts)
1/4 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove
juice 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups of cooked cannellini beans
Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and set aside.
Place all the pesto ingredients (pine nuts, basil leaves, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt & pepper) into a hand blender and blitz until fully combined – it shouldn’t be completely smooth.
Transfer the cannellini beans to a bowl and season with a little salt and pepper – this will make a difference. Then stir through the pesto ensuring the beans are completely coated. Set in fridge to allow the flavours to amalgamate or eat immediately. I had enough for two lunches.
gluten free vegan gravy
1 heaped tsp vegan vegetable granules or 1 stock cube
2 tbsp gluten free flour (gluten free mix or rice flour)
1 tbsp soy sauce (or shoyu/tamari)
1 tbsp vegan Worcester sauce
1 tbsp marmite or other nutritional yeast extract
1 tbsp agave or other vegan sweetener (except maple syrup)
2/3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 cups water
Place everything into a shallow pan – I actually used a deep frying pan/skillet – and whisk all the ingredients together.
Bring to a gentle boil and keep whisking until there are no lumps. Turn down the heat and allow the sauce to simmer and thicken – this take between five to ten minutes. Stir frequently – whisking if it becomes to thick and clumpy.
The gravy should be ready to serve in 15-20 minutes. If it isn’t thickening how you’d hope then add another tablespoon of flour and whisk vigorously to incorporate. Likewise, if it is too thick for your taste, thin it out with a little water.
Can be used in a range of dishes but especially good with mashed potato!
Oatmeal made with water, hemp milk and unsweetened apple sauce. Topped with chopped pecans, flaxseed meal, omega seed mix, amaranth pops, toasted desiccated coconut and fresh blueberries. I poured over a little rice milk to finish and a squidge (technical term!) of vegan sweetener.
It was delicious.
We also had a freshly brewed cup of black tea with a splash of soya milk.
Baked potato (you can find my recipe for the perfect baked potato here) topped with lemon and coriander hummus, served with a huge salad consisting of little gem lettuce, peeled and sliced cucumber, grated carrot, spring onion and home made dressing.
Mid Afternoon Snack
Late Afternoon Snack
Rice cake spread with crunchy peanut butter and no added sugar strawberry jam plus another cup of black tea, this time served with a splash of oat milk.
‘Sausage’ Risotto made with arborio rice, onion, a lot of garlic, peas, asparagus, spinach and sliced vegan sausage. I also herbed it up with oregano, thyme and fresh flat leaf parsley and stirred in a decent amount of nutritional yeast(loves it!). Oh, and lots and lots of cracked black pepper. Lots of it. And then some more.
OMG, this was beyond tasty, we couldn’t get enough (om nom nom) – it was sooooo damned delicious. Will absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, be making this again.
We also treated ourselves to a Blue Moon. We don’t normally drink mid week but tonight I just felt like one and it was so nice and refreshing – the sliced orange is crucial!
Those were my eats:) Happy WIAW everybody, I look forward to reading all your posts xxx
Here I am over at my new home, peasoupeats.com!
This is my first full length post since transferring and it feels a wee bit weird but I’m sure it’ll take no time at all to get used to it.
Today was another jammed packed day of eats and I’m pleased to share them with you. It’s been a long day, so forgive me for just getting to it.
Oats (no surprise there then!) made with water, apple sauce and almond milk – I’ve discovered adding unsweetened apple sauce really aids in the flavour and creaminess of the oats. I sprinkled over a little cinnamon, cocoa powder, desiccated coconut and topped with sliced nectarines (from our local farm shop), strawberries (I’m still clinging on even though strawberry season is pretty much past its best – boo), cacao nibs (love those things), omega seed mix and last but not least some amaranth pops. Oh yes, I squeezed over a smidge of sweet freedom (vegan sweetener) too – yum!
Hubbie came home for lunch today, which was a bit of a novelty. I liked it. On his way he had to pick up some items we won at auction yesterday – we bid on three items and won two. Not bad. As you can see I’m a vintage nut so the 50′s foot stool and 60′s cool bags will fit in nicely with the rest of our retro/kitsch stuff. I spent most of the afternoon scrubbing up the stool with a toothbrush and it’s looking clean as whistle now – I’ll do the bags tomorrow!
Anyway, we ate a bulgar wheat salad, a spring roll and a rice cake spread with lemon and coriander hummus. My bulgar wheat salad contained roughly chopped radishes, tomatoes (the most incredible toms I ever did taste – again from the farm shop!), sun dried tomatoes, roasted red pepper, avocado, parsley and hemp seeds.
The dressing was simple:
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp cider vinegar
juice 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp vegan sweetener
salt and pepper
Put it in a jam jar and shake until it emulsifies and then stir through salad.
Rice cake spread with peanut butter and no sugar jam plus a cup of black tea with organic unsweetened soya milk.
Dinner was pretty outrageous to be honest and that was mainly down to the marinade I used for the tofu. It was sooooooo good. I adapted a recipe I found on VeganYumYum and quite honestly it rocked my world.
My version went like this:
1 heaped tbsp smooth peanut butter
3 tbsp shoyu
1 tbsp umeboshi vinegar
1 tbsp vegan worcester sauce
1 tbsp vegan sweetener (I used sweet freedom)
1 tsp sambal olek
1 tbsp oil
Whisk it together until a smooth paste is formed and pour over the sliced firm tofu. Allow to marinade for at least an hour if possible – I didn’t but I will next time! Bake for 30-40 minutes.
I served the tofu with a simple noodle stir fry consisting of chow mein noodles tossed with sliced cavalo nero, fennel and roasted parsnips & carrots. I seasoned with ginger, garlic and chilli (the holy trinity) plus sesame oil, shoyu and ume vinegar. It was lip smackingly delicious in every way.
Please pardon the poor lighting in the set of dinner photos. As ever I was too lazy and too eager to eat to bother getting out either my tripod or my flash. That’s life. That’s reality. Dinner beckoned.
Y’know, it just occurred to me there are a few recipes which I have totally forgotten to direct you too. I’ve been trawling through my recipes for my cookbook and it suddenly dawned on me this lovely Green Bean Salad has not had a mention on my blog. So, here I am, rectifying that slight oversight now.
There’s not much to say about this salad other than it makes for a superb summer side dish. Thankfully the weather here is still firmly in the warm zone (it has its moments mind you but it’s definitely t-shirt appropriate) and therefore in our house (flat, apartment, whatever) salads are still firmly on the menu.
Working on this cookbook is overwhelming to be honest. My tactic is to methodically sort each section before moving onto the next. That means being somewhat ruthless with certain recipes and just because I don’t want to go over a hundred recipes some will not make the grade. Are there any recipes you think must be included?
I really admire anyone who has successfully compiled a cookbook before. It’s a mammoth task and quite gruelling but I think I’m up for the challenge and (I hasten to add) as yet, am thoroughly enjoying it – ask me again in a month and I might have a different answer!
Here’s the link to my Green Bean Salad with Lemon, Garlic & Chilli.
I’ve also added another vlog to my youtube channel – part 1 (out of 3 – yikes!) of the ‘Inside my Vegan Cupboard’ series. There are a quite a few absent items from the cupboard, namely brown rice, bulgar wheat, chickpeas and a few others, which are usually mainstays of mine. Those were replenished today after a trip to the farm shop where I also bought a punnet of outrageous local nectarines and another bottle of umeboshi plum vinegar – my stir fries just aren’t the same without it.
It’s been heavily edited and starts rather abruptly so ignore that – my poor Husband had to deal with endless amounts of footage so he took out a lot of the waffle and possibly a few ingredients just to cut the length to a reasonable size.
Despite these omissions I hope you like it and please feel free to leave a comment after the vid or subscribe or do both!
So here I am with yet another salad. A simple salad using bits I had in the fridge plus some leftover red pepper mix from the previous days savoury muffins – which have now all been eaten! Yup. All gone.
I’m beginning to wonder if I’m in a food rut of sorts. I’m still undecided. It might just be that i’m in a food groove but for the moment the jury is out. This thought came to be after reading one of the latest posts from Seitan Is My Motor (another fabulous vegan blog – get it on your blogroll!) who seems to experiencing a certain food rut at the minute. It happens to the best of us. I distinctly remember Joy The Baker (how many times have I plugged this site now) having a bit of a food/blog lull not so long ago. Not that I’m putting myself in the same league as either of these wonderful bloggers, mind you, but I feel their pain.
You see, when all you do is make food, photograph food, think about food, write about food, at some point something is going to give. Sometimes that something is inspiration and it can happen when you least expect it. One minute you can be one top of the world, riding the crest of a beautiful wave and the next thing you know you’re being tumbled around like ragdoll in the white water that is every idea, doubt, niggle you had about you, your ability, your validity to the cyber food world. The next thing you know, nada. Completely void of anything interesting to say, make or do.
Now, I’m not saying I’m there at the moment but I can feel it coming so I’m currently warding it off by just making stuff. Anything. Salads. Simple salads.
I’m also distracting myself with fashion – it’s what I do when I need to completely escape from any sort of reality. You might not be aware but I loves me some fashion. I’ve always been a threads freak and have spent my life trying to put together the most unusual outfits that echo what’s going on in the fashion world without looking like I’ve pulled on all the clobber from the display window – there’s nothing worse than a fashion victim. My interest started young because my Mother always ensured we wore the very best and I can remember to this day some of the ensembles I used to strut (okay skip) around in. A certain red velour tracksuit (think cool retro not Juicy Couture) springs to mind – dang, I loved that thing.
My clothes have always been an extension of me – they are a big part of how I express myself. I’m definitely a vintage girl but like to mix it up with new pieces and, of course, now that I’m vegan I don’t buy any animal products such as leather goods (why would you need to with Matt&Nat on the market), suede (makes me cry now), lambskin (really? and aren’t uggs at bit passe now anyways?), fur (no brainer) and so on and so forth.
Just because I can’t partake in a lot of fashion on the highstreet (that’s my budget) doesn’t mean I can’t have fun or enjoy mainstream blogs. Take this one for example. Grasie Mercedes is a stylist, actress, host, blogger and new contributor to HelloGiggles, the collaborative blog/website from Zooey Deschanel (now there’s a girl who know how to dress) and friends. Grasie is fabulous and oozes style. When I first clapped eyes on her blog I was instantly hooked. Even though there is lots of non-vegan fashion on the blog that doesn’t detract from the beautiful and unique outfit’s she pulls together and doesn’t mean I can’t take inspiration – I just put my own vegan friendly spin on it.
People often think vegans walk around wearing ill fitting tie dye t-shirts, flowing long skirts and sandals. Maybe some do but this one right here has her eye firmly on the fashion ball and right now there seems to be a surge in eco and vegan friendly lines even from the big designers. Viv Westwood (one of my all time favs) has been pioneering vegan footwear for a while now after teaming up with vegan shoe company Melissa. I adore all their styles and only wish the price didn’t prevent me from owning every one from the range.
I seemed to have gotten all sidetracked. Back to the salad. This was an unexpected delight. I wasn’t feeling very hungry when I made it and was after a light dish with minimal effort (the red pepper mix, which would’ve been the effort part was already made). Yes, this also has blueberries in it – I told you, obsessed.
One more thing, I awoke yesterday morning to discover two of my recipes were featured on the Huffington Post. THE HUFFINGTON POST, Y’ALL!!! They were two salads (erm…..) I contributed to the ever wonderful Marcus Samuelsson and I was so chuffed to see my recipes selected, as there are a lot of excellent recipes on that site. You can vote for your favourites on the Huffington Post site. Mines are the Superfoods Salad and the Bulgar Wheat, Radish and Watermelon ones. If you have a minute to spare, please please vote. I will be forever grateful.
Here’s the link again – go vote!
1/2 head little gem lettuce
1 small cooked beetroot (not pickled)
handful of fresh blueberries
red pepper mix
handful of mixed seeds (sunflower, pine, pumpkin)
1 tsp dijon
1 tsp cider vinegar
small squeeze agave
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small crushed garlic clove
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
nb. the arrangement is crucial….
Roughly chop the little gem and place in a bowl. Roughly chop the beetroot and scatter on top.
Put all the dressing ingredients in an empty jar and shake until it emulsifies. Spoon over the lettuce and beetroot – you may not need to use it all. If there is some left, screw a lid on and keep it in the fridge. It’ll be good for a few days.
Wash the blueberries and place in bowl. Sprinkle over the seeds.
Top everything the red pepper mix – recipe can be found here.