I love bread fresh from the oven and this bread is delicious. It's so simple and doesn't involve any hanging around for hours waiting for the dough to prove and its yeast free, so all good!
I made this for lunch at the weekend. I had just made some lovely watercress and pea soup and wanted some bread to go along with it, so this fitted the bill perfectly.
It's all mixed in the bowl and only requires 5 minutes of kneading and 35 to 45 minutes in the oven. I just slashed the top of the loaf into rough quarters which I then served in big rustic chunks! You can just shape the loaf into a round shape, then serve it in slices if you prefer!
I buy all my flour from Locavore and I used a mixture of organic rye flour and strong white flour and the bread turned out perfectly, with a wonderful texture.
Wheat is heavily sprayed with pesticides so its most definitely worth buying organic flour for your home baking. See organic blog post for more details here
This bread was one of the many we tried at the Vegan Cooking Retreat so again big thanks to Lee Watson at the beach house kitchen for the recipe.
The recipe is vegan and uses soya milk but you can use organic dairy milk if you do dairy.
I'm off to Portugal for a wee family holiday tomorrow, with hopefully lots of sunshine, great food and moderate amounts of exercise! We have our own pool although I don't think its heated so not sure how much swimming I'll be doing. but I'll be doing some yoga and possibly running!
I will return feeling wonderfully relaxed and raring to go with new workshops and lots of new ideas for the blog! That's positive thinking right there!!
If you haven't made bread before then this recipe is a great place to start. I hope it becomes a regular part of your repertoire!
So here is the recipe
SIMPLE SODA BREAD
500g strong wholewheat flour (use 200g strong white flour and 300g wholewheat flour for a lighter loaf)
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
150 ml plant based milk ( soya is good)
2 teaspoons vinegar
200ml warm water
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
I love Easter, its a time of new beginnings, lighter nights, gardening, wee lambs, snowdrops, crocuses, and of course lots of yummy food!
What's not to love....?
Easter is a great time to get together with family and friends. Most folks have some time off work and students return from Uni for a wee rest and some decent food ( well most of them do! )
Personally I love any excuse to spend time with family and friends and as anyone who knows me, knows that good food is a big part of any gathering at our house!
I'm sharing the recipe for the most delicious, decadent, chocolatey, gooey, fudgey, chocolate cake and its vegan, so egg and dairy free!
We had this cake, along with countless other delicious sweet treats at the Vegan Retreat and I will get around to sharing more of the recipes, as I try them out!
I can't pretend its healthy but hey we all need a treat every now and then and this cake fits the bill brilliantly and it is a celebration cake after all!
A perfect way to impress your family and friends this Easter with a fabulous home made cake, which I'm sure if you try it, will become your go to recipe for a celebration cake!
This recipe makes a large cake and it's very rich, and will keep for around 5 days in a covered tin, though I seriously doubt anyone would have the willpower to resist a second slice of this so be warned, it's seriously moreish!!
I would have decorated my cake with edible flowers if I had any but sadly I only have one pansy at the moment! On second thoughts I will put it in the middle of the cake and put mini eggs around the edges, though feel free to decorate yours whatever way you want! Grated chocolate, chopped nuts, orange zest would all work well.
So to recap this cake is sooo good we could hardly wait for it to cool so we could devour it! That's why the mini eggs are a bit skew-wif, the icing was still a bit warm!
It's moist, chocolately, gooey, fudgey, intense, moreish, and did I say chocolately, yes very chocolatey.........
Yum, yum, yum.........! Please give this a go, its seriously the best chocolate cake I have ever tried, vegan or not.
Happy Easter everyone and big thanks to my twitter buddy Lee Watson over at TheBeachhousekitchen for this fantastic recipe! In my haste to make this cake, I read the directions wrong and added the chickpea flour to the dry ingredients, instead of the wet ingredients. Luckily it didn't seem to make any difference and the cake was absolutely delicious, so don't fret if you do the same.
Note to self, read the recipe before you start!!
Here it is.
DECADENT CHOCOLATE CAKE
Ingredients makes 1 large cake (10 to 12 slices)
225g white flour
2 tablespoons chickpea flour (gram flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
80g cocoa powder
300g dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
375ml hot water
75g non dairy spread or coconut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
150g dark chocolate
75g coconut oil
50g light brown sugar
60 ml cold water
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
....your health in your hands....
I tried this delicious dish at the Vegan Cooking Retreat and absolutely loved the intensity of flavours! As I don't eat meat, I find aubergine to be a great substitute, it's really filling and although some folks find the texture a bit strange, I love it and this is a great way to cook it.
Aubergine, along with potatoes, peppers and tomatoes are part of the nightshade group of veggies (Solanaceae) which also contains Deadly Nightshade, which is as its name suggests is poisonous & deadly. However I can assure you this group, like all veggies have many benefits for your health!
There is however, some anecdotal evidence that this group of veggies can exacerbate gut issues and cause inflammation and joint pain in people with autoimmune disease, especially rheumatoid arthritis.
If this is you then you may wish to avoid these and note if your symptoms improve.
On the other hand, the Mediterranean Diet is among the healthiest and contains copious amounts of tomatoes, peppers and aubergines, along with lots of garlic, onions, olives and good quality oils, which have major benefits for our health. The vast majority of us can happily eat veggies from the nightshade family without any problems!
This dish actually contains aubergine, tomatoes and red pepper so a lot of nightshade action going on! It also has lots of garlic and good fats and bags of flavour!
I love the versatility of this dish. We had it for lunch at the weekend on toasted sourdough, our healthy version of Bruschetta.
A lovely organic poached egg is a great additional topping with some seaweed flakes for extra minerals and flavour. I use Mara
Alastair embellished his with anchovies and feta cheese and scoffed 4 slices for lunch yesterday!
Laura took the leftovers with some couscous and toasted seeds for her packed lunch today. Its delicious served cold as part of a tapas or hot as a topping for a baked potato or stirred through pasta or quinoa for a lovely dinner!
I just adore food that tastes better the next day and the flavours intensify beautifully in this dish.
Just a wee observation on aubergines, so many folks think you have to salt the slices and leave them to draw out bitter juices so although this used to be required, the modern varieties of aubergine are much less bitter so its generally fine to omit this time consuming step. Feel free to do it if you want but I never bother and the aubergine always tastes delicious.
Similarly the skin can be a bit tough and many recipes discard it but from a health perspective the skin is high in antioxidants and personally I don't find it bitter or tough so I eat it!
Aubergine is a great source of fibre, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and other beneficial minerals and can protect against oxidative damage and lower cholesterol so well worth including in your diet!
We actually had two delicious aubergine dishes at the retreat and this is a kind of combination of them both. I hope you enjoy it!
Here is the recipe!
2 medium aubergines, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil or olive oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 or 3 sticks of celery, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
4 large tomatoes, chopped or a tin of chopped tomatoes
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
50 g sultanas or raisins
50g green olives, stoned and sliced
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional but delicious)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
sea salt and black pepper
a good handful of flat leaf parsley or mint, finely chopped to finish
.....your health in your hands......
I've just returned from a fabulous trip to Krakow with my brother David. It's such a cool city, beautiful buildings steeped in history, lovely friendly people with so many bars and restaurants and its so cheap!
Well worth a visit!
After spending the previous week at Trigonos in Wales at a Vegan Cooking Retreat stuffing myself with the most delicious vegan food, thanks Lee! I didn't have high hopes of finding any decent plant based food in Krakow, a big meat eating country!
But I'm very happy to say I was wrong!
After a bit of research I discovered quite a few vegan restaurants and a few offering a decent selection of vegan food.
Our favourite was Krowarzywa Vegan Burger Restaurant, so good we went twice! Such a simple concept, they only sold vegan burgers, five different types with a choice of two rolls, 5 different sauces, all served with pickles, sprouted seeds and crisp organic salad leaves!
The restaurant was really busy both times we went, not surprising since the burgers were absolutely delicious and only cost about £2.75!
Admittedly David and I were the oldest there, the clientele was mostly cool student types! Although I did tell everyone I met in Krakow to go there!
They also had the most delicious chocolatey, fudgy vegan brownie which I had to sample twice, just to make sure it was as good as I thought it was, it was!!
So on my return I decided to make my version of those wonderful burgers. This is rather a long post since I decided to go the whole hog and make my own rolls too and vegan mayonnaise to go along with them and I have to say they were damn good!
Forgot to mention I discovered I really like gherkins, which are small lightly pickled cucumbers with dill which are delicious and add another flavour dimension to the burgers. They are fairly high in sugar and sodium but since you only need a few slices, I reckon they are well worth it. They actually contain fibre, are a good source of Vitamin K and have small amounts of other vitamins and minerals so there are a few benefits. I also served homemade sauerkraut with my burgers which is a great source of probiotics and sweet potato is a great source of food for gut bacteria so its a great prebiotic. So that pretty much covers all the bases! Some caramelised red onions and some lovely relish or beetroot slices and coleslaw would also be great accompaniments.
Had my good friend Elaine and God daughter Chloe over for lunch on Sunday and they declared the burgers the best they'd ever had!
I hope you try them, you can cheat and just buy rolls but the vegan mayo is well worth making, its delicious and so easy!
Happy cooking and baking.....!
SWEET POTATO ROLLS
I've made these rolls a few times and they are just lovely, a beautiful colour, lovely texture with a hint of sweetness from the sweet potato.
Admittedly making bread and rolls can be a bit time consuming and a bit messy, with sticky dough and flour everywhere (well maybe that's just me, I am a bit messy in the kitchen!)
Anyway its well worth the effort to make these and impress your friends and family. You need to allow an hour for the dough to rise and 30 minutes to bake them so it's a good idea to make the rolls first, then you can get on with the burgers and the mayo!
The next time I make these I'm going to use Laura's Kitchenaid mixer with the dough hook!
Spelt flour tends to make the dough a bit stickier so although I needed the dough for about 10 minutes it was still a bit sticky so I just added a bit more flour and left it to rise. I left mine in the oven on a low setting and it doubled in size in about 45 minutes.
A good tip for kneading dough is to put a tiny bit of oil on your hands to stop it sticking to you! ( thanks Lee for that very useful tip!)
So here is the recipe
SWEET POTATO ROLLS
Makes 12 small rolls or 8 bigger ones!
SWEET POTATO & BEAN BURGERS
I have a bit of an obsession with sweet potatoes, I just love them. I mean what's not to love?
They are delicious, they are on the Clean 15 List so low in pesticide residues, packed with fibre, a great food source for our gut bacteria, great for our skin due to the high levels of beta carotene and offer anti inflammatory benefits too. They are also so versatile and simple to cook. In fact one of my favourite meals is a baked sweet potato with hummous and caramelised red onions with a big green salad!
Anyway I digress, back to the burgers! You may have guessed that one of the main ingredients is sweet potatoes! Kidney beans and veggies are the other ingredients with flavour provided by tamari, tahini, tomato paste, paprika, garlic and sea salt! I have made these burgers for so many people, they are one of the dishes on my Back to Basics workshop and I have yet to come across someone who doesn't love them!
I generally steam the sweet potatoes which takes around 10 to 15 minutes depending on how small you cut them up. If you are making the rolls as well then you can just cook all the sweet potato at the same time.
You can either use breadcrumbs or polenta, for a gluten free option.
The burgers are baked in the oven so no faffing around at the last minute with hot oil and a frying pan (not a good combination in my opinion!)
You can make these in advance and just keep them in the fridge or alternatively you can cook them and then freeze them. I often serve them with oven roasted potatoes with a few salads or steamed greens. They also make a great filling for pitta breads or wraps.
Here is the recipe
SWEET POTATO & BEAN BURGERS
Makes 8 medium sized burgers
I'm all for reducing waste so this vegan mayo recipe uses the bean water, which otherwise would be thrown away. Its known as aquafaba and has similar properties to egg, I've used it to make deliciously light and airy chocolate mousse, recipe here.
This mayo just tastes like standard mayonnaise and is great for vegans or those with an egg allergy. I added crushed garlic and some mustard to mine which gave it a delicious flavour and it was so creamy. I used my hand blender and a jug and just gradually added the oil to slowly emulsify it, as you would do with normal mayonnaise. Don't be tempted to add all of the oil at once as it probably won't work and you'll be left with a thin oily dressing instead of thick, creamy mayonnaise!
Wee point to note, if you cook your own beans and chickpeas and use bicarbonate of soda in the water, that liquid won't work in this recipe.
Lee tried it on the retreat and it didn't thicken. Also sometimes the liquid from tinned beans can be a bit thin, you really want it the consistency of egg whites. All brands are different but I've tried beans from Lidl and Asda and they have been fine.
Here is the very simple recipe!
Makes about 3/4-1 Cup
Our lovely burgers from Krakow!
.I've just returned from the most fabulous Vegan Cooking Retreat in North Wales , run by the awesome Lee Watson and his lovely partner Jane. Lee's sister Laura was also there teaching us meditation and yoga so it was a real family affair and we all felt so welcomed and included, like a big happy healthy vegan family!
It was such a joyful experience, punctuated at very frequent intervals with the most amazing vegan food! I've never eaten so much in my life, and believe me I have a big appetite for healthy food!
Lee's food is full of big bold flavours which just work so I have returned determined to be more bold with flavours myself.
Admittedly I'm not a fan of chilli, mustard or cheesy flavours ( in vegan circles achieved with nutritional yeast flakes, a very good source of B vitamins) but I guess we all have different preferences, likes and dislikes so I'm going to taste my food more and adjust flavours accordingly. I always think its best to start off with less and add more if needed rather than just pile in huge amounts at the start.
We had so much fantastic food from all corners of the world that its difficult to narrow it down and select one recipe to share first. I've decided to share this delicious Turkish lentil soup flavoured with cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and mint. Its so thick and nutritious and full of flavour and its really easy to make. Its really like a complete meal in a bowl.
So since I'm off to Krakow early tomorrow morning with my brother and won't be posting any recipes for the rest of the week, this was the easiest option to post.
I have no idea what kind of food we'll find in Krakow but I know it won't be anywhere near as good as the food from the retreat!
I've said it before and I'll say it again, go and buy a copy of Peace and Parsnips, its my favourite vegan cookbook and its just full of fantastic recipes. Even if you are not vegan you can most definitely improve your health by cutting down on animal products and dairy and incorporating loads more veggies and wholegrains. Also check out the beachhousekitchen blog for inspiration and loads of recipe ideas.
I have two extra copies of the book so I'm going to run a wee competition so two lucky people can win a copy!
Watch this space......!
We had freshly baked bread every day which was a delight and I have a few new recipes to share on my return from Krakow.
We also sampled some delicious cakes, muffins and cookies which although maybe not quite so healthy, were all delicious.
So I'm just off to pack my bag so here is the recipe!
CORBA - TURKISH RED LENTIL SOUP Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 large onion, finely sliced
225g red lentils, rinsed
2 large carrots, finely diced
125g quinoa (gluten free option) or Bulghur Wheat
4 tablespoons tomato puree
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried mint
1.5 litre boiling water or veggie stock
1. Warm the oil in a pan on medium high heat, add the cumin seeds, followed by the onions, 1 tsp sea salt and carrots and fry for 8 to 10 minutes until the onions are nicely golden.
2. Stir in the paprika, lentils, and quinoa/bulghur, add the tomato paste, veg stock and cayenne pepper.
3. Cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Check seasoning and add the dried mint.
5. This makes a really thick soup so thin it down a bit with water if you prefer a thinner consistency.
6. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and lemon wedges.
NB If using quinoa, rinse it well under running water in a sieve before you add it, to remove the saponins which can taste bitter.
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