Beetroot & Fava Bean Dip


 
With all-too familiar regularity, this Tuesday slump (as it shall henceforth be known) has reared its ugly head once again. It’s weird because I was feeling so sprightly yesterday – new week, new possibilities – but that initial enthusiasm has now been replaced with doubt, panic and all those other lovely emotions that go towards making us basically feel like crap. I think I mentioned in a vlog (oh yeah, I have YouTube channel) I made just before Christmas that I try to quash these anxieties with distraction tactics … making a cup of coffee (which, generally only serves to make me more jittery, so I’ve since switched to green tea), cleaning (there is certainly plenty of that to be getting on with – trust!) and watching endless hours of youtube vids because I’m a nosey parker and love to see what people eat in day. Once I’ve exhausted that little loop and I’m once again left with my own thoughts (and impending deadlines) I find myself wondering what I want out of life … yep, I’m a zero-to-a-hundred kinda gal and ‘the bigger picture’ is always (like a relentless whirring cog) on my mind. Of course, this approach tends to mean you aren’t always living in the present … something I am seriously guilty of. Not one for ‘settling’ or simply ‘being content’ I frequently have the bit between my teeth (pardon the non-vegan expression) quite a lot of time – not just work related, I might add. Like most people I dream of owning my own home, being able to travel more, enjoy more security in my career and maybe, just maybe, start a family at some point too … in my thirties so that clock is ticking loud and clear. These aren’t unobtainable dreams and we’re (my Husband and I) working towards achieving these life-goals all the time, however, in-between I often have to remind myself to enjoy the moment – heck, not just enjoy it but savour it. Remembering that I am, in fact, incredibly lucky (sometimes I need reminding) although seeing as everything is relative I still get caught up in everyday stresses and that definitely erodes my overall happiness.

 

Okay, so being pro-active is very much a part of the plan, and for me, plans usually start with food. Recently my focus has shifted ever so slightly in my vegan journey, as I become more and more fascinated with the raw food movement – which, is slightly ironic given the fact this recipe is so not raw. Stay with me. The power food has on our overall health (mental and physical) is really quite fascinating and as I’ve gradually erred away from food that ultimately doesn’t make me feel good (basically any shop-bought biscuits, breads, sugary yogurts, faux meats etc. which, I hasten to add, make up only a very small portion of my overall diet) I now continually question my choices to see if they comfortably fit into my current lifestyle. Luckily I’m always drawn to fresh fruit, big salad bowls, smoothies and anything that is 100% ‘natural’ and wholesome.

 

Having done quite a bit of research though, and knowing my own body, I know that 100% raw is absolutely not for me but I’d really like to find a way of upping my raw intake and decreasing my cooked food but not in a rigid ‘raw-till-4’ type way. I think being flexible will be key because I know sometimes I’ll fancy soup at lunchtime (homemade, of course!) but then maybe reach for a large, bountiful salad at dinner. Being overly dogmatic about calories and whatnot is not my thing (like, soooo not my thing) so again, I’ll be listening to my body when it comes to how much fat, protein and carbs I actually want to consume but yeah, I definitely think I can shimmy those about a bit to suit my needs – side note: 80/10/10 would not work for me either.  Equally, I don’t think totally eliminating certain foods from my lifestyle would be a good move for me or my Husband … and besides, tofu and beans are superb sources of protein (and not to be feared), which I consume regularly and totally love.

 

Likewise, grains – love ’em. Couldn’t (wouldn’t want to) live without ’em. Because yeah, taste, flavour, and all the stuff that surrounds ‘food’ (aside from its ‘fuel’ properties) is also really important to me. Who wants to be isolated in their eating? Not me. I like to create a mood where food is shared and enjoyed – this is so crucial to my vegan lifestyle and one that will encourage others to also embark on this journey … because, let’s face it, it’s lonely enough out there, and without the support of friends and family it can be nigh on impossible. Food is culture. Food is family. Food is joy. Food is everything. So when we make it this solitary endeavour we are missing out on so much. I’m not up for spending my life dining alone or just with my Husband – I want to make (and eat) great food that everyone will rave about (not just vegans) plus I want the freedom to be able to eat out at restaurants and cafes occasionally too. These are my current thoughts – I’ve not exactly put anything into practice just yet, I’m simply toying with ideas, recipes, philosophies and my own bizarre little mind. For now though, I’m happy to indulge in a little extra virgin olive oil action – drizzled over this fava bean dip with a few scattered pomegranate seeds for added sweetness, it is sheer heaven. Hand me a crudite, I’m goin’ in.

 

what you’ll need

1 x 400g can Hodmedod’s Fava Beans

1 x small cooked beetroot (about 50g)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 heaped tbsp tahini

juice 1/2 lemon

3tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp water

1 small garlic clove

pink himalayan salt

black pepper

 

to serve

ground cumin

hemp seeds

pomegranate seeds

extra virgin olive oil

 

what you’ll do

drain and rinse the fava beans and add to a processor along with the beetroot, cumin, tahini, lemon juice, a pinch of pink himalayan salt and some freshly ground black pepper. blend until it forms a rough puree.

 

mince the garlic with a little salt until completely smooth before adding to processor. whilst blending drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil – add the water to loosen the mixture slightly.

 

once you have achieved the desired consistency, transfer to a shallow bowl or plate and swirl with the back back of a spoon to form a groove in the dip.

 

serve with a smattering of hemp and pomegranate seeds, a dusting of cumin and a final drizzle of evoo.

 

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Six steps to a stress-free Christmas Day

Christmas Day. One of the most eagerly awaited holidays of the year. Full of magic and wonder … unless, of course, you happen to be in the kitchen. In which case, that magic and wonder is replaced with sweating and swearing, and vows to be more way prepared next year. Well, next year has arrived folks so it’s time (and believe me, there still is time!) to put those best laid plans into action. Here then is my crucial six-step plan, which will hopefully make Christmas Day just that teeny bit more bearable … please note; copious amounts of wine will still be required.

 

1. Let’s cut right to the chase. Any decent plan requires a list and here’s how mine tends to play out. It all begins on Christmas Eve – but don’t worry, we’re not spending the whole day in the kitchen, that would just be silly. I want you to be able to savour every moment – but also get yourself a little ahead of the game for tomorrow. I begin with breakfast … that’s Christmas Day brekkie I’m referring to and, in my opinion, baked goods are absolutely the way to go. Pumpkin Bread has become a bit of a tradition in our house, and it means we can open our gifts at leisure. A fresh pot of tea (or cafetiere of coffee) are the perfect accompaniment – maybe a few fresh figs or other fruit to pick on, and you’ve got yourself a delicious festive breakfast that will quash any hunger pangs but still leave plenty of room for that hefty midday (or, in our case, late afternoon) dinner.

 

Here’s my go-to Pumpkin Bread recipe. Got more people coming? Just double the quantities and divide between two loaf tins. Whammo.

 

2. Okay, now you’ve made your breakfast bread it’s time to turn your attention to your starter. Trust me, unless you’re happy to faff about in the midst of preparing arguably the biggest/ most important meal of the year then you’ll want this one done and dusted and ready to be re-heated as and when needed. This year, I’ve opted for a seriously simple Chestnut Soup. In the past, I’ve opted for stuffed mushrooms but when you’re cooking for five or six, have limited room in both your fridge and oven, this can be a logistic nightmare. And besides, everyone is going to adore this silky smooth Chestnut Soup – it’s just enough to whet the appetite without over-facing everyone.
 


 

3. Likewise, dessert needs to be a breeze, especially after consuming a plate of food the size of your head. We tend to leave quite a gap between our main on Christmas Day, meaning we enjoy it more. This year my Sister has requested my Mince-pie Galette (although my Mont-Blanc Cups would also be a good option), which can be partially or fully prepped in advance. For those wanting it completely fresh on the day you can simply make and refrigerate the pastry the day ahead, then roll it out when required. Otherwise, make the whole thing a day or two before (it keeps well, loosely wrapped in foil in the fridge) and then gently heat before serving. I wholeheartedly insist you serve it with both (soya) cream and ‘ice-cream’. That and the Downton Christmas special equals festive perfection.

 

4. Don’t forget nibbles and drinks … my go-to drink is a glass of chilled prosecco with a splash of pomegranate juice, and (optional) dash of gingerbread syrup. You could also make my Pomegranate & Thyme Mocktail – to make more than one, skip the cocktail shaker method and simply double, triple or quadruple the ingredients. Place everything in a large jug and stir with wooden spoon. Divide the base mixture between the glasses and top with sparkling water – or for an alcoholic version, champagne.

 

For nibbles, I’m going down the Bloody Mary Bruschetta Route, partially because the colours scream Christmas but also because my version contains vodka. What can I say … ’tis the season!

 

5. Set the table. Or, at the very least, delegate someone to do it for you. I always seem to be rushing prior to serving up, so I like to make sure the table is ready to go well in advance. Whilst everyone is busying themselves getting ready, take a moment to chose a simple theme that will really show off your food. I’m all about self-service, so like to lay everything out, which means that pretty bowls and crockery are essential. Dot the table with a few votives and foliage but don’t over-do it … people like to have room to ‘breathe’ too. I like things somewhat informal so minimal is the order of the day. I think of these few precious moments as the calm before the storm so enjoy it. Now’s the time to potter, play and savour that Christmas spirit.

 

6. Onto the main event. I tend to go through all the side dishes I want to make and highlight those that can be made ahead without impairing the taste. I’ve also narrowed it down over the years … reducing my sides from upwards of twelve (seriously) to around eight or nine, depending on how I’m feeling. Here’s this years choices:
 

(1.) Braised Cabbage & Apple

(2.) Maple Roasted Parsnips

(3.) Pan-fried Brussel Sprouts

(4.) Sweet Potato Casserole (recipe in ‘Keep it Vegan’)

(5.) Roast Potatoes

(6.) Gravy (here’s a YouTube link to my ‘Easy Vegan Gravy’ recipe)

(7.) Cranberry Sauce

(8.) Carrot & Sage Slice

(9.) Tofurkey

 

That’s quite a hefty list as it is but imagine trying to make all that on the day … er, nightmare! These are quite traditional offering so if you’re after something a little more unusual may I suggest the following:
 

Winter Squash &  CousCous Salad
Warm Pumpkin & Red Onion Salad
Festive Slaw
Baked Aubergine with Lemon-infused CousCous

 

From my preferred side-dish list above, here are the ones that I can easily prep ahead:

Braised Red Cabbage, Cranberry Sauce, Carrot & Sage Slice, Sweet Potato Casserole (don’t add the pecans until the following day) and Gravy.

 

Thus leaving these remaining dishes for the day:

Maple Roasted Parsnips, Roast Potatoes, Pan-fried Sprouts and the Tofurkey.
 

 

Seeing it laid out like that already makes it seems much more manageable. I get someone else to peel the potatoes meaning I can then happily prep the parsnips and slice the sprouts. I’ll cook the tofurkey as instructed and then cover it in foil until needed, thus freeing up space in the oven. Most of my dishes take a maximum of 30 minutes to reheat so I’ll par-boil the roasties before popping them in the oven first … in case you’re wondering I’ll coat them in a basic sunflower oil and roast them for abut 45mins or until they properly crisp up. A few minutes later, I’ll roast the ‘snips and then gently re-heat the Braised Cabbage on the stove. Ensuring everything on the stove is re-heated at a medium temperature tends to keep panic to a minimum too. Sprinkle over the pecan topping before baking the Sweet Potato Casserole until piping hot along with the Carrot & Sage Slice, which is essentially acting as my ‘stuffing’ element this year. The last dish you want to cook is your Sprout because you want to ensure they still some freshness and bite. Stir-fry them on a high heat in some coconut oil and serve immediately.

 

Like I mentioned above, I don’t personally serve everyone individually, I simply lay everything out on the table and let everyone help themselves. For me, this is all part of that communal eating atmosphere I love so much. Pass the gravy will ya!

 

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Chestnut Miso Soup with Chickpea Croutons

 

Do you ever feel like things are getting on top of you? So much so that it’s affecting your ability to savour the moment, even for a second? Your over-active brain is rendering your physical body completely inert, and you quite literally can’t see the wood for the trees? Welcome to my my current state of play where everything seems disproportionally out of control – no rhyme, no reason, just is. Okay, so I can partially attribute my mental state to being semi-trapped in a village that I truly adore but which also leaves me feeling totally out on a limb with no connection to the ‘real-world’ … whatever that may be.

 

It’s a catch 22. We have a super house (mid-century mews with south-facing courtyard and balcony and great open-plan living space) and are privileged enough to call one of the prettiest villages in Cornwall our home – and yet, this somehow is not enough. I don’t (yet) drive and the bus into town is stupidly expensive so unless I walk (which I do when the weather is good) I’m here all alone for the most of the week. Yes, people (friends/family/work colleagues) come to me and I’ve made a concerted effort to get out and about more frequently but that doesn’t mean I don’t crave access to all those town-based amenities … call me crazy (or just a Londoner trying to find out how and where she fits in) but I need to be around people – perhaps it’s a safety in numbers thing but crowds weirdly make me feel safe.

 

Anyway, suffice to say it’s come to a bit of a ‘elephant-in-the-room’ head and we are now making serious moves to find a new abode. And, as sorry as I’ll be to leave our early 70’s haven, I can’t say I’m not eager to embrace town-life once again – we’re talking Penzance here, not, I hasten to add, the big smoke. In hindsight, it was probably a bit of leap coming directly from London and expecting to settle into a sleepy village right off the bat. Truthfully, I don’t think I even knew how much of a city girl I was until I made the move down here to the depths of Cornwall … plus, I’m inherently a people person and am/was used to dealing with various demanding situations on a daily basis. These days I rarely get to flex my ‘problem-solving’ muscles – and we all know that if ya don’t use it, ya lose it, am I right?

 

Don’t feel too sorry for me though because I have lots of exciting things planned for the New Year(hurrah!) – both personally and professionally, and one maybe, might, as in definitely will involve a wittle doggler that is in desperate need of a loving home. In the meantime, I have you blessed people to keep me company (holiday hugs all round!) and a big bowl of festive Chestnut Soup to warm me cockles- don’t forget the ‘chickpea croutons’ either. Okay, I concede…  it ain’t all bad.

 

p.s. click here for my latest vlog where I make this deliciously festive soup – please do ‘like’, ‘subscribe’ & ‘share’.

 

what you’ll need

serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 red onion

1 carrot

1 garlic clove

220g cooked chestnuts

1 heaped tsp miso

salt and pepper

 

for the chickpeas

juice 1/2 satsuma/tangerine

2 tbsp olive oil

glug (1/2 tbsp maple syrup)

2 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped

good pinch of pink himalayan salt or sea salt

 

to serve

soya cream

chopped curly parsley

 

what you’ll do

 

pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.

 

heat the olive oil in a saucepan. finely chop the red onion and carrot and add to pan. sweat for several minutes until it begins to soften.

 

crumble in the chestnuts and stir through the miso. cover the mixture with water (approx 350ml) and bring to a gentle simmer for around 20 minutes.

 

drain and rinse the chickpeas and add to oven-proof pan. vigorously whisk the satsuma juice, oil and maple syrup together. pour over the chickpeas, sprinkle over the chopped rosemary and generously season with salt. toss to combine and roast for 25-30 minutes or until golden.

 

transfer the soup to a blender and blitz until smooth. return to pan and heat through – you can thin it out further with a little more water if you so desire at this stage.

 

ladle into warmed bowls or mugs, drizzle over some soya cream, spoon in the crunchy chickpea croutons and finish with a smattering of parsley.

 

Christmas Day starter sorted!

 

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Creamy Aubergine Dip

 

I’m currently visiting the folks in Ireland and because everything leading up to this trip was borderline chaos I’m only just finding the time to blog. I know! Excuses, excuses. Anyway, I hope this ‘Aubergine Dip’ (mutabal, baba ganoush, whatever you wish to call it) will in some way make up for my absence – it’s from my book (yep, that one on the sidebar, nudge nudge, wink wink) and is a recipe I rely on more than I care to admit … it makes for a particularly good alternative to hummus. I’ve served it to reluctant guests at dinner parties (I would advise not mentioning it’s made from aubergines prior to sampling) but is an equally good solitary indulgence option – a bowl of this and some toasted pitta makes me a very happy girl.

 

There is a little intro in the book where I explain my aversion to ‘smoking’ them the long-winded way – namely hovering over a flame … side note; I currently don’t possess a gas hob so this would be an impossibility anyway. Instead, I prefer to pop them in the oven until they are soft and unctuous before scooping out the flesh and mashing thoroughly by hand. Please don’t be tempted to use a food processor, as you will lose all that wondrous texture, which is a crucial part of the consuming pleasure, in my opinion.

 

Yes, it’s a just a dip but that doesn’t mean I won’t wax lyrical about it. Whether its part of a mezze or simply on its own, this is a humble bowl of greatness that I just can’t get bored of. Hope you enjoy it too!

 

what you’ll need

oil, for greasing

2 aubergines

1 garlic clove

½ teaspoon sea salt

30ml extra virgin olive oil, plus

extra for drizzling

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

50g tahini

30g fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly

chopped, plus extra to garnish

salt and freshly ground

black pepper

toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

 

what you’ll do

Preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas mark 4. Oil a baking sheet.

 

Slice the aubergines lengthways and place them on the baking sheet. Bake

for 30–40 minutes until the flesh is soft, turning them over halfway through.

 

Cover and cool completely before scooping out the flesh. Chop thoroughly

with a knife and then mash with a fork, ensuring there are no lumps.

 

Pound the garlic and sea salt together using a pestle and mortar.

Place the aubergine flesh in a bowl along with the crushed garlic, extra

virgin olive oil, lemon juice and smoked paprika. Mix thoroughly before

stirring in the tahini and parsley.

 

Season to taste and serve topped with a generous drizzle of extra virgin oil,

a little more parsley and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. This is lovely

served with crispbreads, pitta, crudités or as a spread in sandwiches.

 

Taken from ‘Keep it Vegan’ published by Kyle Books. Photo Credit: Ali Allen

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Blackberry & Avocado Salad with a Gingery Dill Dressing


 

Summer has officially hit Cornwall and I’m about to vacate the county for Ireland. Typical. Not that I don’t love a jaunt ‘home’ but the temperature there never quite reaches the heights it does here and I always feel a slight chill even on the balmiest of days – who am I kidding, Ireland doesn’t do ‘balmy’. Of course, it’ll be great to see the folks, spend time with my Dad who has just finished his third round of chemo, and celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary … quite a milestone by anyone’s standards! Being the creature of habit that I am though, I always find it difficult settling into a new routine – that adjustment period shows me what a home bird I really am. I crave structure and being a writer means I can construct my own timetable – a luxury that is thankfully not lost on me. There’s nothing I love more than splitting my day into palatable little sections … most of which revolve around tea/snack/lunch/coffee breaks – in a way it’s bliss. Unless I’m working to a tight deadline.

 

Now that the book is ‘done’ (I’ve put it in inverted commas because I don’t think a book is ever really done but at some point you have to move on … plus there’s always bits and bobs that need tweaking) I now find myself in a weird limbo scenario and so my inclination is to return my attention to ‘Keep it Vegan’. To that end I’ll be doing a few little promo things here and there (another IrelandAM appearance is on the cards for the 7th July), as well as continuing to promote my more summery recipes – perfect for the coming months! Keep an eye on my twitter and instagram accounts for details.

 

And then there’s this blog. The place and vehicle that started this whole ball rolling. I already am feeling a lot more connected to this space than I have done in a long time … so much so, I’ve even dusted off the DSLR in a bid to regain my confidence behind the camera. Slowly does it though because it really would seem that I’ve forgotten how to use the damn thing – settings, schmettings.

 

Today was a salad day (nothing special but still… ) and so I thought it would be good practice to shoot something that didn’t have any time constraints or pressures. The focus still ain’t perfect but I think I’ve been able to achieve a slightly nicer quality to these shots than I have done in a very long while. Like I said, they’re a long way from being perfect but I won’t go down without a fight. And now for the recipe … creamy avocado, tart blackberries and not forgetting that gingery dill dressing, it really is a wonderfully simple seasonal salad with a difference.

 

what you’ll need

large handful of mixed lettuce leaves

6-7 blackberries

1/4 yellow pepper, finely sliced

1 spring onion, finely sliced

1/2 avocado, sliced

 

for the dressing

1 heaped tbsp dijon

1 garlic clove, grated

1 thumb-size piece of ginger, grated

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp hazelnut oil or evoo

1/2 tbsp agave

juice x 2 clementines

pinch of salt and pepper

15g freshly chopped dill

 

what you’ll do

Arrange the salad leaves in a shallow bowl. Scatter the sliced pepper around over the leaves, sprinkle over the spring onion and dot the blackberries about the bowl.

 

Separate the sliced avocado into a fan shape and place in the centre of the bowl.

 

Place all the dressing ingredients (apart from the dill) into a bowl and whisk vigorously until it emulsifies. Add the chopped dill and whisk to combine. Spoon generously over the salad, paying particular attention to the avocado.

 

Finish with a final scattering of roughly chopped dill. Serve.

 

 

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Raw Carrot, Cashew & Pesto Tart

 

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

70g walnuts

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

50ml water

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

30g spinach

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!

 

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Thick ‘n’ Creamy Harissa Hummus

 

I know what you’re thinking. Not another hummus recipe. And I get it. Really, I do. But (but, but but!!) as hummus recipes go this has got to be my favourite… which is exactly why I felt compelled to include it in the book. Of course, this is a slightly amended version but the basic principle of boil and peel remain. Omit this step and you’ll never get your hummus completely smooth.

 

I toed and froed when it came to including recipes such as this one in the book, however, I can assure you there was some logic to my ‘who needs another hummus/risotto/crumble recipe’ madness. Sure, it’s a basic recipe that virtually no vegan hasn’t at some point tackled. Me included. However, I thought to myself, this is the book I would liked to have had when I first went vegan and because of that I wanted to lock in place all those easy go-to recipes that you can whip up at a moments notice and still wow. And trust me, hummus still has the power to wow.

 

And because it was my first book, I kinda wanted to get all those tried and tested recipes out of my system so I would then have the opportunity and freedom to expand upon those ideas in other volumes. Otherwise, I’d be constantly digging into my past kitchen repertoire instead of forging forward with new ideas. Obviously it was impossible to use all my ‘oldies but goodies’ in ‘Keep it Vegan’ but I gave it damn good try… whilst still managing to squirrel away a few classics for another time, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

 

My attention has now turned to my next book and, as ever, I’m putting myself under extreme pressure to come up with a boatload of exciting, fresh and innovative recipes that will hopefully ‘wow’ – there’s that word again! Whilst simplicity is still at the forefront of my mind, I’m conscious of creating an index of slightly unusual dishes that anybody can cook and enjoy. Not an easy task but one I’m seriously looking forward to. In the meantime, there’s always hummus.

 


 

what you’ll need

400g cooked chickpeas

1 large garlic clove

sea salt

2 heaped tsp harissa paste

juice of 1 1/2 lemons

1 heaped tbsp tahini (optional)

 

what you’ll do

drain and rinse the chickpeas and place in a saucepan with 500ml of water. bring to a boil and then simmer for 30minutes. drain (reserving some cooking liquid for later), rinse and once to cool to the touch, peel the skin off the chickpeas.

 

grind the garlic and 1 tsp salt in a mortar and pestle until you achieve a puree consistency.

 

place the chickpeas in a small food processor along with a little salt, juice of 1 lemon, harissa paste, garlic, tahini (if using) and 1 tbsp of the reserved cooking. blend until smooth, adding a little more cooking liquid if necessary.

 

taste for seasoning – it may need a little more lemon juice and/or salt. blend again. serve with a some lemon zest, chilli flakes and a dusting of smoked paprika.

 

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Roasted Cauliflower Fattoush

 

Sometimes I really wish life would slow down a bit. Right now that inimitable thing called time is a major stumbling block when it comes to me either savouring precious moments or allowing me to simply catch my breath. On the one hand I ain’t complaining (all this book launch is brilliant) and on the other we are dealing with life-changing developments that make you sit back and wonder ‘what’s it all about?’. No, really? What is it all about?!

 

I don’t suppose these bigger questions will ever truly be answered – thus is the mystery of life and all that but equally I find myself grasping tightly to anything that I hold dear or gives meaning to this existence of mine. Perhaps I’m talking in riddles here and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time, so apologies if this is all gobbledy gook… I guess you could say my head is literally all over the place right now and to be perfectly honest the only thing keeping me sane is those few snatched minutes in the kitchen.

 

As ever, food is my salvation and this Roasted Cauliflower Fattoush is a recent revelation that is satisfying and virtuous in equal measures. The creamy tahini is optional but adds another layer to its late summer awesomeness – my Sister cannot get enough of the stuff, which is high praise indeed. Feel free to play around with the spices – I only wish I had some harissa hanging around at the time, as it would’ve been the perfect addition although my little made up mix did the job just fine. Enjoy!

 

 

what you’ll need

1 small cauliflower head, broken into small florets

1 little gem lettuce

5-6 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/3 large cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into half moon shapes

5-6 radishes, roughly chopped

2 pittas, toasted

30g (or 2tbsp) flat leaf parsley

30g coriander

15g (or 1tbsp) mint

 

for the cauliflower marinade

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp allspice

pinch cayenne pepper

juice 1 lime

1 tsp agave

1 tbsp olive oil

sea salt and pepper

 

for the chilli salad dressing

1 tsp chilli paste from a jar

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp agave

juice 1/2 lime

3 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

 

for the tahini dressing

3 tbsp hummus

2 tbsp tahini

1 tsp agave

juice 1/2 lime

1/4 cup water

 

what you’ll do

pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit. place the cauliflower florets in a baking dish. whisk the marinade together to form a smooth paste and pour over the cauliflower florets, toss until everything is coated and bake for 35-40minutes or until they brown.

 

place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. whisk the chilli dressing ingredients together untilit emulsifies and pour about a third over the salad. gently mix.

 

lightly toast the pittas and cut into triangular bitesize pieces. drizzle over a third of the chilli dressing before adding to the salad bowl.

 

finely chop the parsley, coriander and mint together and sprinkle half over the salad bowl ingredients. gently mix.

 

whisk the tahini sauce ingredients together until smooth, adding a little more water if necessary.

 

remove the roasted cauliflower from the oven and lightly season with some seasalt. add to the salad and gently toss. serve in a bowl, drizzle over the tahini dressing and smattering of smoked paprika.


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Rosemary Infused Cashew Cheese

 

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I’ll keep this short and sweet given the workload I’m currently weighing my way through at present. I am literally up to my eyeballs in recipes and writing although there’s always enough room in the day for cashew cheese, am I right? This is barely a recipe, given that all you require is a hand blender and the ability to press ‘on’, but I thought it was definitely blog worthy given that I am attempting to space out my intake of the stuff (and failing), which in essence means it’s phenomenally good.

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I’ve taken to creating a zen place for myself as I work and so far it seems to be doing the trick. It requires several of the following components and, for those of you who’ve been in a ‘working from home rut’ like myself, then I really hope any or all of the following are in some way helpful to regaining some of that much needed focus.

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A decent scented candle… mine is soy based and smells of Bluebells.

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Glass of cooled water… essential for keeping hydrated when you spend hours staring at a screen.

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Herbal tea… or any other hot drink of your choosing. Taking a break from your work is of paramount importance I find and tea-making mixes up that stagnant cycle perfectly.

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Notepad and book… I often get my best ideas about other projects when I’m engrossed in a particular task so I like to have a pen and pad nearby to jot down my thoughts.

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Iphone… because Instagram will always have that lure and it’s always great to take your mind off things for a few minutes before returning refreshed to that pulsating horizontal line on the page.

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ingredients

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3/4 cup soaked cashews

juice 1/2 lemon

1 garlic clove, minced

1 sprig of freshly rosemary finely chopped (reserve a little for sprinkling on top)

salt (to taste but I add at least a 1/2 tsp)

pepper (again to taste but I am reasonably generous… around 1/4 tsp of frshly ground black pepper)

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method

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Put the chickpeas in the blender and blitz to a pulp before adding the lemon juice, minced garlic and salt ‘n’ pepper. Blitz again to fully incorporate before adding the rosemary to the blender… blitz until completely smooth and check for seasoning – it may need a little more salt and pepper.

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Serve immediately or keep covered the in fridge until needed.

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additional notes: if the texture is very thick you can add a splash of water to help it along but be careful not to add too much – begin with 1 tsp and go from there.

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Ultimate Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms

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….

ingredients

4 portobello mushrooms

1 leek

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

method

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.

 

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