In a Vase on Monday: Warm and Spicy

With this Monday meme, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden encourages us to find materials from our gardens every week, all year round. By the end of November pickings are limited, but there are surprisingly still a few blooms to be found, some seedheads saved, and foliage of course too. The colours for my vase this week reminded me of cinnamon and spices, both of which will be used soon in my Christmas baking. 🙂

I decided I could spare one sprig of the Hypericum, which is still looking so very pretty in the rockery. To accompany it there is a sprig of bronze Epimedium foliage, some Clematis seed heads, Briza (saved in the summer), and an oriental poppy seed head, all secured in floral foam inside my shallow dish which also has useful holes in the lid. A Physalis seed head and a maple and oak leaf complete the November scene, along with cinnamon sticks and a wooden mortar and pestle for grinding spices, found at a Christmas market several years ago.

Talking of Christmas markets, some have already opened, but most will open at the end of this week for the first Advent weekend. I am looking forward to the delicious smells of Cinnamon, mulled wine and roasted nuts…

Will you be visiting a market or doing some baking soon? Have a good week and stay warm!

The Best Pesto I Have Ever Eaten!

The title of this post refers to the compliment I received from friends who are not vegan, when I served up our homemade vegan basil pesto for dinner recently. I was chuffed, and my Man of Many Talents thought it was time I shared my secret recipe. So here it is!

Vegan Basil Pesto

For 4-6 servings:

  • 3 cups/45 g fresh basil leaves (homegrown is best! 😉 )
  • 90 g pine nuts (they are expensive, but splash out on the best quality you can find)
  • 15 g cashews
  • 4 level tbsps nutritious yeast (essential for texture and the slight ‘cheesy’ flavour)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (fresh if possible)
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes (the sort that come in a jar, marinated in oil), roughly chopped
  • 1 – 2 tbsps of the sun-dried tomato oil
  • 100 ml of mild olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a mixer until chunky. If the mixture is too thick you can either add a drop more oil or – if it is being eaten the same day – a splash of water to thin it slightly.

Serve over hot pasta and let all that sunshiny flavour tickle your tastebuds! Very good with a tomato salad and a cold drink. 🙂

Do you love basil too? What sorts do you grow and what do you use it for?

A Hearty Bake for World Vegan Month

I have been cooking my way through the World Vegan Month of November and to finish off the series I decided to share a staple recipe I have been making regularly for some time now. Since I always have a few tins of various beans in the cupboard this hearty bake can be ready on the table in 30 minutes and is not only filling, but also tasty and nutritious.

Cannellini and Tomato Bake with Garlic Bread Topping

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For the bake:

  • 1 x 400g (14oz) tin cannellini beans
  • 1 x 400g (14oz) tin tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp mixed dried herbs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional ‘glug’ of red wine or sherry!

For the topping:

  • Half a baguette, thickly sliced (you could use leftover bread of any kind here)
  • 3 tbsps olive oil mixed with 1 clove garlic, crushed

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and gently saute the onion until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add all the other ingredients. Gently cook for a few more minutes until it starts to thicken. In the meanwhile preheat your grill to medium – high and put a baking dish under it to warm.

When your dish is nice and hot, pour the bean and tomato mixture in. Arrange the slices of bread on top and distribute the garlic oil evenly over the slices. Place under the grill for a couple of minutes – be careful not to look away as the bread will burn very quickly if you don’t watch it! Add a little chopped fresh parsley as a garnish if you have any at hand.

 

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That’s it. Dinner in 30 minutes! 😀

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I hope you have enjoyed this series of recipes. I will be posting a vegan Christmas cookie recipe for you soon!

🙂

Pumpkin Pie for World Vegan Month

As Christmas approaches, and with Thanksgiving in the US this week, I thought my vegan pumpkin pie recipe might go down well. I adapted my original recipe (which you can also find on my recipes page) using alternatives for the eggs and milk, and the result was amazing… it tasted fantastic, full of flavour and nobody would ever guess it’s vegan!

I invited a friend over to test it, and the verdict was a definite thumbs up!

So here it is:

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

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Pie crust:

  • 225g (1 4/5 cups) plain flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) vegan butter

Filling:

  • 425 g (15 oz) pumpkin puree
  • 125 g (2/3 cup) brown sugar
  • 4 tbsps maple syrup
  • 100 ml (2/5 cup) canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 4 tbsps unsweetened almond or soya milk
  • 3 tbsps cornflour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger

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Method:

Grease a 23 cm pie or flan dish. Rub the butter into the flour and salt until fine and crumbly, then add just enough cold water to bring the dough together. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Roll out the pastry to fit your pie dish. Place some greaseproof paper on top and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for about ten minutes. Remove the beans and paper.

Blend all the filling ingredients together. Pour into the pastry case and bake in the oven for a further 40 – 50 minutes.

Leave to cool and then chill for a few hours or preferably overnight.

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Serve with vegan whipped cream and enjoy! 

Wishing all American readers a Happy Thanksgiving!

😀

Butternut ‘Steaks’ for World Vegan Month

Here is another recipe for World Vegan month 2016, and one I mentioned that I would post not long ago… Butternut ‘Steaks’. 😀

At this time of year it is easy to find pumpkins of any kind, and I like to make the most of them while they are in season. Since my Man of Many Talents is not so keen on the sweet flavour in savoury dishes, except for soup anyway, I make these butternut steaks just for myself. And the beauty is, you can slice as much as you need off the ‘neck’ of a butternut and save the rest of the squash for another day.

Butternut Steaks

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So, take a butternut squash and cut some 1-2 cm thick slices from the long end (not the end where the seeds are), then peel with a potato peeler. Place on a baking sheet, lined with greaseproof paper.

Preheat your oven to 225°C/ 425°F.

Mix 1tbsp olive oil with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and spread over the slices of squash. Season with freshly ground black pepper and, if you like, a sprinkle of ground ginger for some added heat. I also sometimes use ground dried garlic or coriander, or add a sprig of rosemary or two.

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Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Depending how thick your slices are, they may need another few minutes, but try not to let them get too brown. You can test one with a sharp knife to see if it is tender.

They can be served with just about anything, or even eaten on their own as a snack!

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So simple and so tasty!

What’s your favourite pumpkin/squash dish? I bet a lot of you are going to say ‘pie’ , and I hope to post a vegan recipe for that too soon. Stay tuned! 😉

Falafel for World Vegan Day 2016

I wonder if you have heard of World Vegan Day before? It was introduced on November 1st 1994 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UK Vegan Society. I have only known about it for a few years, and feel it deserves a bit more publicity, so I would like to celebrate not only this day, but the whole month of November – also designated by the Vegan Society as World Vegan Month – by sharing some of my favourite vegan recipes. Some are new, and some are veganized versions of older recipes that I have refined over the past year. I should love to convince you all to become vegan! But since that is totally unrealistic I hope to tempt you with a few vegan delights instead! 😉

So to kick off, a recipe I have actually had in my drafts box for some time:

Quick Homemade Falafel

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I make these delicious fluffy chickpea patties regularly, and especially love them for being so incredibly quick to prepare.

Falafel are traditionally made using chickpeas, but I use the ground chickpea flour here, also known as gram flour, and this makes preparation much faster with less washing up. 😉 The result is also lighter than ones I have made with whole chickpeas. So go and find some chickpea flour (and a packet of pita breads while you are at the shops) and try these out!

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  • 1 1/3 (175g) cups gram/chickpea flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (400 ml) boiling water
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients together with a fork in a large bowl, and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Depending on your brand of flour you may need a little more water or a little more flour to make a porridge-like consistency, but keep it on the soft side.

Heat some olive or rapeseed oil in a large frying pan and add spoonfuls of the mixture. They will quickly brown so you can turn them. Keep turning until brown and crispy on all sides, then remove and keep warm while you do the next batch. (Don’t keep them in the pan too long as they will turn out overcooked and dry.)

Serve in warmed pita breads with lots of salad and tsatsiki (vegan sour cream, garlic and finely chopped cucumber).

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Enjoy!

😀

P.S. By the way, I have updated my recipe page (see top bar), with all vegan recipes highlighted in dark green.

And for those of you with a sweet tooth, I will be posting a sweet recipe at the end of the week.

Have a good start to the month of November! 😉