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!

🙂

Spice Cupboard Inspiration

Alys, who is a dear blogging friend at Gardening Nirvana, is good at organizing stuff – in fact that is her job, organizing people. So when she asked in a recent post about where we need help with organizational matters, I immediately thought of my spice cupboard… and the large tupperware container of herbs in another cupboard taking up much needed space in my small kitchen.

My spice cupboard is one of those shallow ones above the stove. Not ideal in terms of “keep your herbs and spices cool and dry”, but what else can I put in there?! Here it is after being emptied…

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(The panel at the bottom is missing due to the dormouse… a long story you can read about here.)

Alys is such a treasure – she immediately put her thinking cap on and produced a great post all about organizing herbs and spices. I was inspired!

So, step one is “gather and review”… what chaos!

HerbsBefore

The “consolidate” and “purge” steps came next: I had to be rigorous and throw out things I really never use or that are way too old. But I also discovered some curry spices I had forgotten about, and some fresh cardamon… mmm, that smells so good. My favourite! Do you have a favourite spice?

(The cardamon inspired a cake last weekend and I shall share the recipe with you very soon.)

As I already had quite a few metal jars which are stackable I decided to invest in some new ones to match. A good decision I think… Here is what it now looks like, after a couple of hours of cleaning old jars, re-labelling and organizing:

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Ahhh, that’s better.

Thanks Alys!

🙂

For all you gardeners out there, Alys also did a very useful post on how to organize your gardening tools.

If you have any organizing challenges Alys would love to help, so go and visit her at “Gardening Nirvana“. 😀

In a Vase on Monday: Ticket to the Moon

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The flowers in my Monday vase this week look as though they are reaching up for the sky, or with those moon daisies should I say the moon, which is why this song came to mind…

😉

(If you are as old as I am you will no doubt remember it, even if like me you weren’t keen on it!)

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Of course, I had to cut a few Aquilegias (Aquilegia vulgaris) while they are looking fresh, and the tall moon daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) and grasses growing around the edge of the lawn seemed to be suitable companions. I also have a Sanguisorba minor (salad burnet) that needed taming, and cut a large sprig. The flowers are so pretty just as they start to open…

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Growing near a pale pink Aquilegia is my white Dicentra (Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’) and I took a deep breath and cut one piece. It still takes some courage sometimes to cut things for a vase, but I am so glad I took the plunge this time…

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Some lovely white Allium cowanii (also called Allium neapolitanum) have opened the Allium season. I planted these throughout the bed at the top of the rockery last autumn and am very pleased with them. They are not too tall, so have stood up to some breezes and rain showers very well. And what’s more, despite strong sunshine on a couple of days last week they have opened slowly, with no sign of heatstroke! (The weather has been quite a mixture recently!)

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Thanks go to Cathy once more for hosting this meme. Go and visit her today at Rambling in the Garden to see what she has put in her vase, and see all the other vases from around the globe that have linked in. 🙂

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World Vegan Month Recipe 3: Garlic Spaghetti and Tofu Bites

As part of my World Vegan Month series of recipes, here is another big favourite, with tofu again. A simple recipe for busy days, it is ready in no time and real comfort food too, for those cold winter evenings. You could serve it with some roasted vegetables or salad – our neighbour Ingrid has been supplying us with autumn endive salad from her garden. 🙂

Garlic Spaghetti and Tofu Bites

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For 2 people:

  • Spaghetti
  • 5 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 small onion/shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 200g (7 oz) firm tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tsps cornflour
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Cook your spaghetti. While it is cooking, warm the olive oil in a small frying pan. Gently saute the onion/shallot until soft and then add the garlic, turning the heat off so the garlic barely browns.

Mix the flour, herbs and seasoning and toss the tofu cubes in it, making sure they are completely coated. In a separate pan warm a little olive or sunflower oil and fry the tofu cubes until crispy and golden. Be careful not to get the oil too hot, and keep turning them with a spatula.

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Coat the cooked and drained spaghetti with the garlic oil and then sprinkle the tofu cubes on top. I sprinkled on some flowery herbs for decoration too. 🙂

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Enjoy!

(I’m posting my parmesan alternative next week, which goes well on top of this pasta. 😉 )

World Vegan Month Recipe 1: Tofu Wraps

Although I am vegetarian, and not vegan, World Vegan Month seems a good month to share a couple of  good vegan recipes with you.

Over the past year I have been trying to cut down on dairy produce, and the result has been a lot of experiments… some more successful than others! Seitan and similar meat substitutes are completely superfluous to someone who hasn’t eaten meat for over 20 years; cheese substitutes are mostly inedible (my opinion!); tofu, however, is a lifesaver – I love it! This first recipe I want to share uses tofu and has become a favourite, partly because it is such an informal affair… i.e. you get sticky fingers eating it! 😉

Tofu Wraps

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For the marinated tofu you will need:

  • 200g (7 oz) firm tofu, cut into narrow strips
  • 2 tbsps tomato puree
  • 4-5 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp mixed dried herbs
  • plenty of freshly ground black pepper
  • any other herbs or spices you fancy adding, such as chilli, coriander, onion powder etc

Spread the tofu strips over the base of a large dish or baking tray and cover with all the marinade ingredients. Do this as early in the day as possible, or even the night before, so the tofu can absorb all the flavours. Stir a few times during the day. I give mine about 10-12 hours to marinate.

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For the wraps:

  • 4 large soft tortilla wraps, warmed
  • 1/2 an iceberg lettuce, cut into smallish chunks
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced

For the tsatsiki, mix all the following ingredients together and let stand a few minutes before serving:

  • 220ml (1 cup) (soya) yoghurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 small cucumber, cut into very small chunks
  • salt and pepper

Just before you are ready to eat, heat a little sunflower or olive oil in a skillet/frying pan and on a medium to high heat fry the tofu, marinade and all, turning frequently, until warmed through and slightly crispy.

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Now the fun part! Place a wrap on a plate, sprinkle lettuce on the centre and then bits of tofu, salad and finally tsatsiki. Then wrap!

The packet showed us how…

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… but I will spare you the photos of us eating! 😉 The challenge is to eat this without any sauce dripping out… practically impossible, but that’s what makes it such a fun meal. 🙂

What do you do with wraps?

Focaccia with Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis

I have a rather old rosemary plant with no space to repot and overwinter it. Last year I risked leaving it outdoors and took cuttings. It survived the mild winter, but has lost a lot of needles this summer and has barely put on new growth. So I have been harvesting a lot, and a new smaller plant is on my list for spring. So, what can I do with all my rosemary?

My trusty calendar for October had the answer:

Calendar

🙂

Rosemary Focaccia

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  • 5oog (1 lb) strong white flour
  • 10g (1 tbsp) dried instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 325ml (1 1/3 cups) warm water

Mix all the ingredients well and knead for 5 – 10 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic dough. Place in a clean bowl and brush with oil. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour or two.

Divide into two, or if you like you could make up to 6 mini foccaccia. Flatten slightly and place on a lightly floured baking tray. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for a further twenty minutes. Preheat your oven to 250°C/475°F.

Topping:

  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and mixed into 5 tbsps olive oil
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) feta cheese, crumbled into large chunks
  • about 10 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 sprigs of rosemary

After the dough has rested a second time, use your knuckles to make little dimples in the top. Place the feta and tomatoes in and around these dimples and then brush the garlic oil all over – nice and generously! Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and the rosemary sprigs, which you can break up a little.

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Bake for 20-30 minutes until firm in the centre and golden and crispy on the outside.

Enjoy while still warm!

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(Tip: leftovers can be warmed in the microwave the next day and taste just as good!)

Have you ever made Focaccia?

In a Vase on Monday: Aromatherapy

It started with a basil flower…

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And various mints are flowering so beautifully at the moment too, providing me with the inspiration I needed for this week’s vase…

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“In a Vase on Monday” is hosted by Cathy at “Rambling in the Garden“, challenging us to find some materials in our gardens every week for a vase to bring indoors. Today I was planning on cutting the only dahlia flower that has been worth a mention this summer… but I chickened out! So I turned to some old friends for help instead – the herbs.

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You can never go wrong with herbs.

Not only do they taste good, they also enrich the garden with attractive foliage and flowers, as well as attracting bees, butterflies and other good creatures.

The lemon verbena has done very well in several pots this summer and should flower soon. The pineapple sage is now flowering more scarcely, but has grown tremendously. Some thyme and oregano are still in flower, so I cut a few sprigs of those, and some of the last lavender also went in. The salad burnet is flowering again, and I also added some of the trailing rosemary.

I actually remembered to add a prop this week…. the gardening catalogues have been arriving for a couple of weeks now, and my lists are not getting any shorter! The largest catalogue is from one of the new online nurseries I discovered this spring; an excellent herb seed and plant supplier. The basil flower above is their Ocimum basilicum “Christmas”, which I grew from seed. It has a lovely warm aroma, tasting slightly of citrus and spices. 😀

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The vase smells delicious.

Now, what shall I cook for dinner tonight…

😉