Let me tell you why I’m not shy about calling these ‘Ultimate Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms’. Not one for making big claims about stumbled upon creations that are bourne out of what I simply have in the fridge, this recipe was the fluke to end all flukes when it’s comes to stuffed mushrooms. It’s not just that they’re tasty, work well at every meal time or are stupidly easy to make. It’s the fact they put every other stuffed mushroom I have tasted to shame….and I’ve eaten my fair share of stuffed mushrooms.
If you happen to be vegan you’ll be rejoicing at the all encompassing flavour – that certain ‘umami’ you often hear people bang on about (mainly in reference to its apparent absence in vegan dishes) will be silenced because it is totally present here. In bucketloads. If you’re not vegan, I’d be more than a little surprised if you enjoy them any less than their usually cheese laden counterparts – trust me, they do not need it!
There are several secret weapons when it’s comes to achieving such stuffed mushroom greatness and eliminating even one of them will sacrifice an essential layer of deliciousness and may even render them simply good instead Uh.ma.zing.
The nutmeg and cayenne pepper are musts – omit at your peril and against my advice….I can be quite bossy when I want to be. The coconut milk could be replaced with soya cream but it would be a less healthy choice. At a push the leek might be swapped with half a very finely chopped onion but in all honesty the earthy flavour the leek lends to the dish would be sorely missed. I also insist on the double dose of garlic – fresh and pureed…it’s an absolute must! Oh, and the nutritional yeast is crucial in achieving that perfect stuffed mushroom crust.
Ready for the recipe? Here ya go….
4 portobello mushrooms
several handfuls of fresh spinach
3 garlic cloves plus 1 tsp garlic puree
generous grating of nutmeg
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celsius/350 degrees fahrenheit.
Peel the mushrooms and remove stalks. Rub each with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
Finely chop the leek. Heat a little oil in a pan and gently fry the leek until soft. Mince the garlic and add to pan along with the garlic puree (if using – recommended) and gently infuse for several minutes before adding the spinach.
Generously grate the nutmeg over the spinach and sprinkle over the cayenne. Season and wilt.
Add the coconut milk, gently heat through, season and set aside.
Fill each mushroom with the creamy spinach filling and top with nutritional yeast. Bake for 25-30 mins depending on your oven. Serve immediately with hot ‘buttered’ toast. For extra B12 goodness, spread marmite on one slice.
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!
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.
Some like it sweet. Some like it sour. Or, if you’re like me you’ll like it a little bit of both. The tartness of this sauce is balanced by the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and clementine juice. Not forgetting the obligatory sugar addition – or any sweetener you fancy, I’ve made with agave before with great success.
The cranberries can be fresh or frozen; in my opinion it really doesn’t make too much difference and given that fresh cranberries can be tough to find near Christmas, I’d keep a stash in the freezer just in case.
I don’t just use this cranberry sauce as a Christmas dinner side. It’s a brilliant addition to festive canapes a la Joy the Baker. And of course I don’t use Brie, instead opting for the best vegan melting cheese on the market……Vegusto! This stuff is almost too good to be true. Melts like a dream, tastes alarmingly like the real thing, as well as being free from artificial flavourings and preservatives.
If you want to get your hands on some for yourself, Vegusto are still taking orders until Tuesday 19th December. Seeing as I will be in Ireland for Christmas I’ll be ordering a selection from plant goodness today to be delivered to my parents address for (excessive) consumption over the Christmas period.
Holiday’s are comin’, Holiday’s are comin’!
1 cup fresh/frozen cranberries
1/4 cup fairtrade granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp freshly grated or ground nutmeg
juice of one clementine
Put all the ingredients in a pan. Bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the fruit begins to soften.
Gently press the cranberries with a spatula leaving some cranberries whole if you wish – my preference.
Allow to cool before transferring to a tupperware container. Chill overnight. Will keep for at least a week, covered, in the refrigerator.
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!
Easy meals are my specialty. That and a little something I like to call ‘making something out of nothing’. This is when you manage to create a half way decent meal out of a hotch potch, ramshackle assortment of random ingredients, making it look and taste as if it were meant to be. I’m pretty sure this skill alone was the clincher for my Husband.
Pistachios are a great substitute for pine nuts in homemade pesto – better than cashews and walnuts, in my opinion. In fact, I hate to even call them a substitute because really they stand alone in their pesto making greatness. Their already perfect texture and flavour is made even more fantastic by lightly toasting them in a dry frying pan. A small amount of effort for a big payoff – I recommend you don’t skip this step…..not to be pushy or anything;)
Of course, I might be biased, since I have had a pistachio soft spot for a very long time – you may have heard me discuss my mild obsession before, which all started when I first read Paula Danzinger’s The Pistachio Prescription as a young girl. I loved that book. In all those years, my love for these curious little nuts hasn’t waned and now I find any excuse to eat them or include them in my cooking.
They can be pricey though (usually double the price of walnuts!) but if I could I would use them in even more dishes – pistachio sushi anyone? Perhaps not. Although….! Right now, I’m loving them on my cereal and oatmeal but I also throw them into couscous, stir them through (soya) yoghurt and use them to make incredible, you got it……pesto.
Here’s what you need…..
1/2 cup pistachios
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup packed flat leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic
juice 1/2 lemon
several pinches of sea salt
Here’s how you make it….
Lightly toast the pistachios in a dry skillet over a medium heat for several minutes ensuring to turn them frequently. Let them cool a little before transferring them to a small handblender.
Blitz the pistachios to a fine rubble before adding the parsley, lemon juice, garlic, half of the olive oil and sea salt.
Blitz thoroughly until a thick paste has formed. Scrape down the sides, taste for seasoning, add the remainder of olive oil and more salt if desired and blitz again until you achieve a coarse pesto like sauce.
Stir through pasta, spread in sandwiches, on bruschetta, use as a dip or coating for cannellini beans.
Well it would seem that Spring has finally decided to return to us. Hurrah! I mean a bit of rain never hurt anyone and all that but I sure do love those sunny skies. I even dared to don a dress today when I made a visit to the magnificent Ms.Cupcake bakery in Brixton – more on that at a later date!
It’s on days like these that I need wholesome, simple, goodness. Not that I don’t love to linger in my kitchen because I think we all know very well I do. But there’s nothing more satisfying than whipping up something in a matter of minutes – seconds even.
In this instance that something happens to be a beetroot hummus. Of course, you can use shop bought beetroot (not the pickled kind!), however, I’d already roasted some a few days back, which obviously adds a few minutes onto the whole procedure but lets just gloss over that little detail for now shall we….ahem.
1/2 cup chickpeas
1/4 cup chopped beetroot
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
pinch smoked paprika
seasalt and pepper
put everything in a blender and blitz until smooth!
Finally. Here’s that carrot and ginger soup recipe I promised.
You having a nice weekend?
I’m enjoying every second of mine….
….beers and vietnamese food last night…..
….trip to the auction rooms this morning (didn’t win the hat/bags I bid on but hey, ho, that’s the way it goes!)….
….walked through Greenwich Park….
….raided the Cat’s Protection charity shop (I love cats and thrifted goods so double win!)….
…spent a small fortune in Mark and Spencer’s food hall (including a bottle of vegan red wine – score!)….
….and now I’m chilling in front of the telly watching silly movies on filmfour (just my luck – just what I needed).
I love weekends:)
2 large celery sticks
1/2 head fennel
7-8 large carrots
1 large piece of ginger (approx 2”)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tbsp oil
salt and pepper
soya cream and hemp seeds to serve
heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan.
roughly chop the celery and fennel and add to pan. season with salt and pepper, clamp on lid and allow to soften for several minutes, stirring occasionally.
peel and chop the carrot into medium sized pieces. add to pan along with powdered garlic, stir and allow to soften for 5-10 minutes.
peel and mince the ginger. add to pan and stir to combine. let the ginger infuse a little before covering the vegetables with water and stock cube.
bring to a gentle simmer and cook for around 30-40minutes until the carrots are tender. stir occasionally.
blitz with a hand held blender until completely smooth. it may be a little thicker than desire so thin out with some water. taste for seasoning, heat gently on the stove, stirring frequently but do not allow to boil.
serve with a swirl of soya cream and a sprinkling of hemp seeds.
As promised, here is the recipe for the (kinda curried – it has garam masala in it!) soup I made yesterday. It makes two generous portions, which meant there was plenty for lunch today – lucky me!
curried cauliflower and carrot soup
1/2 head cauliflower
1 heaped tsp coconut oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp coriander
1 heaped tsp vegan vegetable bouillon
1 tbsp garam masala
salt and pepper
Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan. Finely chop the onion and add to pan, season with salt, stir and lightly fry on a low heat until the onion begins to soften.
Peel and chop the carrot into small pieces and add to pan. Place lid on and allow the carrot to soften for a few minutes before adding the garlic powder, cumin, coriander and paprika. Ensure all the vegetables are coated in the spices, clamp on lid and let the flavours infuse for several minutes more.
Break apart or roughly chop the cauliflower into medium sized pieces and add to pan. Sprinkle over the vegetable bouillon powder and cover with freshly boiled water. You want the water to cover the vegetables with about a centimetre to spare – you can always thin it out later when the soup is blended.
Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the vegetables are just soft but not mush. Transfer to a blender and blitz until completely smooth. Return the soup to the pan and warm on a low heat.
At this stage you can taste for seasoning and add water to your taste. I like my soup quite thick so I only added about a further 1/2 cup of water.
Woah! I’ve never managed to do that before – give a recipe without a load of waffle beforehand.
Have I just gone and ruined it with this little addition?
Old habits die hard!
I bought a diary.
Filled it with tasks and reminders.
Now I’m methodically ticking off each task (tick!) and you know what? It feels good. No! It feels great.
It’s been a year since I’ve had a diary and in that time I’d completely forgotten what a useful little tool it can be. I used to be the kind of person who’d note down everything – ‘to do’, ‘shopping’, ‘menus’, ‘recipes’. I’m a lists girl through and through. Somehow though I lost my way and for some reason unbenownst to me, tried to keep everything in my head. Maybe this works for some people but I’ve discovered the hard way, it does not work for me.
As well as tidying up my life I’m also cleaning up my diet. I’ve replaced my usual black tea with soya milk in the morning with hot water and lemon and to my surprise Hubbie has taken to this change rather well. In fact, given the choice this morning, he went for the lemon!
In addition to this, I’ve been craving greens like there’s no tomorrow. Honestly, a bowl of sauteed kale might just be my favourite thing to eat on this planet. With something so perfect in its simplicity, I tend not to mess about with it too much. Here, the grated carrot and tahini sauce are just enough to compliment the kale without overpowering it.
Tahini sauce is bloody gorgeous, in my humble opinion, and I can’t believe it’s been this long since I last made some – it must be months since I last whipped up a batch! I aim to rectify this ghastly oversight by forthwith declaring it a once a week ritual. That shouldn’t be a problem seeing as it goes with just about anything. Except maybe ‘ice-cream’. Although…..
2-3 cups chopped kale
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp umeboshi plum vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce/shoyu or tamari
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
¼ cup ‘nooch’ (nutritional yeast)
1 tbsp tahini
1 tsp pink himalayan salt (or rock salt)
Juice ½ lemon
1 tsp umeboshi plum vinegar
2 tbsp filtered water
Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan.
Grate the carrot and add to pan. Stir fry on a medium heat for several minutes. Add the kale and allow to wilt a little before adding the plum vinegar and soy sauce. Stir to incorporate the carrot and kale.
Whilst the kale is wilting further make the tahini sauce. Place the tahini in a bowl along with the salt and lemon juice and mix or whisk until it thoroughly combined. It may seize up, that’s fine, it will become creamy again after adding the water. Next add the plum vinegar and water and stir until creamy and smooth. Set aside.
When the kale has sufficiently wilted, drizzle over the sesame oil and stir through. Sprinkle over the nooch and sesame seeds and stir once more.
Serve the stir fry over freshly boiled brown rice (add a star anise to the pot for beautifully aromatic rice) and top with the tahini sauce. I like to drizzle over a small of sauce initially and add more as I’m eating.