Monday, 31 December 2012

Banh Mi Chay-Vietnamese street food re-posted for The Mad Scientist's Kitchen "Street Foods of the World" Event

Archana of The Mad Scientist's Kitchen, and  Pari , creator of  "Only" series on her blog Foodelicious have made and hosted this great event, "Only Street Food of the World" which promises to showcase some diverse and fascinating cuisines to enrich our culinary vocabularies- in other words, I'm really looking forward to learning some new stuff come the roundup, and I'm proud to have this as my first post of 2013/ last post of 2012 (depending on where in the world you are)! My contribution is this delicious sandwich from Vietnam, which blends South East Asian and European traditions due to Vietnam's French colonial history.

Fresh raw veg makes this a healthy snack choice

Add generous amounts of everything to your sandwich!

I should say something about the history of this street food; actually, this now world- famous sandwich is more likely to be found in its vegetarian/ vegan version being given out in Buddhist temples on festival days rather than on the street, (usually it's made with meat) but in an alternative universe where everyone is vegetarian, this would definitely be a popular street snack too. I chose seitan as the protein here, but I have heard it is also very good with tofu. Banh mi is made with baguette and mayonnaise, which were introduced to Vietnam by the French. (I would have preferred to use wholemeal bread, but I couldn't get any on the day I made this.) I made my mayo with tofu rather than egg, and I have used Korean kimchi as the vegetable pickle which I think lends itself very well to this sandwich, so my version of banh mi is truly a fusion dish.  You can add any salty, spicy vegetable-based pickle you wish- matchstick raw veggies and chilli  in miso is one idea that's in keeping with the banh mi's oriental roots..

This recipe serves 4 people, and needn't take long if you have made or bought the seitan and tofu in advance:
1 long baguette/ French stick, cut into 4 pieces which are then sliced lengthways
 Seitan made with 1 kg flour- click here to learn how to make it
A half quantity of tofu-miso mayo- click here for the recipe
1/4 long cucumber
1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro)
Grated daikon (mooli), or -as shown here- a mix of grated pink radish and celeriac is good
kimchi- click here for the recipe- or miso mixed with chilli. Add these according to your taste, as they provide the spicy kick to this sandwich.
  • Bake the seitan in a shallow ovenproof dish with some of the leftover stock from making it at 200C until liquid is absorbed, turning once. Slice.
  • Meanwhile prepare the salad veg. as shown in the picture above. The cucumber needs to be sliced thinly and the radish shredded.
  • Make the mayo in your blender and set aside.
  • You can either keep the seitan warm and also warm the bread, or serve the banh mi cold, as I did. (Cold seemed right because of the raw veg.)
  • Assemble the sandwiches by slathering the bread in mayo, laying on the seitan slices and topping with salad and pickle/ chilli miso.
  • Make sure your sandwich is full to bursting with crunchy veg, succulent seitan,oozing mayo and spicy flavours!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Cashew and Soya "Cheese" Roule- vegan

Looking good on the cheeseboard...

...makes a yummy vegan snack with wholewheat crackers and olives- or you could  serve it with raw crackers

The scientific approach to food triumphs yet again- and this time brings us a "live", probiotic vegan "cheese" that tastes a bit like a tangy goats' cheese and is good enough to grace any cheeseboard. It's a To our knowledge, you can't buy anything like this in the shops yet. Even the non-vegan members of our family enjoyed this on crackers along with their regular dairy cheese. It's actually really easy to make, and you don't need a dehydrator as long as you have a warm place for the "cheese" to culture. A food processor, grinder or blender for the nuts would help, though, unless you use ground almonds. If there is any drawback to this vegan cheese, it's that it does become sharper the longer it's kept- 3-4 days is probably its lifespan unless you want it really sour. This recipe makes enough to leave some plain and make the rest into an attractive "roule"-type cheese, so you may need to halve the quantities if you cannot eat it all within a few days.

300g cashews
240ml unsweetened soya milk
2 level tsps probiotic powder (a supplement available from health food stores or online) 
a pinch of seasalt
dried basil and/or oregano
coarse seasalt
coarse black pepper
(or some sweet or hot smoked paprika)
  • Grind the nuts in your food processor until they resemble a fine flour, but have not yet turned into a nut butter.
  • Drizzle in the soya milk gradually, stopping when the mixture resembles a thick cream.
  • Now stir in the probiotic powder.
  • Put into a container with a loose-fitting lid and leave in a warm place or dehydrate at 43C for about 24 hours.
  • Stir in the pinch of salt and leave to firm up in the fridge.
  • At this point you can shape it into a roll and coat the outside in herbs, salt and pepper to your own taste; you could even try smoked paprika.
For another nut cheese, see here

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Food trends for 2013

A couple of ideas from last year...

Before we launch into our findings for the coming year, let's look back over 2012: last year at around this time I tried my hand at writing about and even predicting what would be the hottest  trends for food and eating in 2012- how did I get on?

  • I wrote that natural sugar alternatives would be big: well they certainly were in our house, and actually, I did see many stores in the UK selling stevia, malt, fructose, date syrup, xylitol and the like. It seems to be a continuing trend into 2013.
  • Vegan has indeed become the new Vegetarian over the past year as those who are truly health-conscious are eschewing animal-based products and substituting plant ones, as much for slimming and allergy reasons as for animal welfare.
  • As Huffington Post predicted, kale, Chinese broccoli and coconut oil and water were really big in 2012; especially variations on kale chips and putting coconut oil in just about everything. There are now commercial "milk" drinks based on coconut and the hydrating attributes of coconut water are now well-known. I also learnt how to make yummy and healthy kale chips and blogged about it, as well as incorporating coconut oil into various recipes- my husband is now also a convert! I also experimented with hummus, my best result being one made from green peas, but I didn't come across much else to do with hummus in the blogosphere. I did, however, come across lots  of yummy vegetarian South Indian recipes, just as they predicted (yet more coconut). I also saw such vegetable-based condiments/ spreads  as tomato jam, and responded with my green tomato chilli jam. Plus, in response to the comment about "upside-down" (sweet-savoury) foods,  I did actually bake some vegetable muffins as I intended, although a sweet pizza has so far eluded me.
  • One thing that has come out of the economic downturn is that home cooking has indeed grown hugely in popularity over the past year as it's cheaper. (And healthier, and more fun!) I think in the UK "The Great British Bake Off" has also played a big part in this. I know it inspired a lot of my colleagues to don an apron and get into the kitchen to bake cakes, pies and the like.
  • I was right in that wheat alternatives have come to the forefront over the past year; not only because it seems there is a growing number of wheat and /or gluten-allergic people, but also because gluten-free dishes are reported to stop you putting on weight/ help you lose weight. I don't know of there is any truth in this, but certainly anything I have posted labelled as "gluten free" has certainly proved popular. I didn't find much out there to do with chillis or European fusion cookery, though. Maybe I was a year too late for those...
Predictions for 2013:
So what are we all going to be raving about in the coming year? 
  • According to , in the USA nutrition and natural foods will be at the forefront of product design and restaurant menus, with lots of artisan products on the market. They also think that the gluten-free trend will be even bigger into 2013, with many companies making gluten-free lines to complement their existing products. Food trucks as the vehicles (no pun intended ;)) for pop-up restaurants are also apparently on the menu for the coming year. Mediterranean cuisine will also get even more popular in the USA.
  • According to , seaweed and greens such as kale and mustard greens will find their way into products such as crackers and seasonings. This would be great as we all know that greens are health-giving superfoods.
  • Buzzwords for 2013 include: Asian  flavourings, fermented foods, gourmet doughnuts, hot and smoky favours, white strawberries and green tomatoes (we're already onto that one- check out our green tomato recipes here and here!), geranium leaves, hibiscus and shiso- a kind of Japanese mint. But take note: we're all supposedly fed up with kimchi, so that's definitely out for 2013.
  • At (which also has many links to other food trends sites) I found that 2013 will be the "year of the vegetable"- which means more plates of vegetables such as cauliflower steaks in restaurants, a reflection on the increasing trend for "flexitarian" dining. This also means vegetables like avocado, pumpkin and corn in deserts too- again, we're one step ahead here
What does the Yogi Vegetarian Predict? 
Well in the UK I'm sure home baking, as inspired by Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry et al will continue to go from strength to strength. (We Brits do love our cakes and pies!) I also have a feeling that gluten-free will get bigger than ever worldwide, and that more vegetarian food will become vegan as the Palaeo Diet (minus the fish, of course) and awareness of lactose intolerance continue to drive the health-conscious and animal welfare issues in dairy farming become more talked-about. I'm going by what's popular right now on this blog: my top 5 pageviews last month were a sugar free strawberry tofu cheesecake, 3 gluten-free recipes and a vegan chocolate truffle cake. As for other stuff, well home-made cultured nut cheeses could get very popular once people catch on to how easy it is to make them. We at The Yogi Vegetarian also think that tempeh with added flavours and made of grains like barley could also make it big in 2013, in line with the trend towards Asian flavours and vegan protein sources. (We have a friend who makes tempeh like this, and it's caught on big-time locally... check it out here.)

We wish you all a Happy New Year and lots of fun vegetarian and vegan cooking!
(and if you would like to add to our list of food trend predictions, please do use the comments)


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Countdown to Christmas cookery 7: Main courses: Budget Nut Roast, Walnut and Red Pepper Roast (vegan)

I'm sure everyone has their favourite veggie/ vegan main courses, but if you want a more traditional dish-  minus the turkey or goose of course- then it's always useful to have some new ideas rather than trotting out the same old thing year on year. Here are a couple of variations on the usual nut-based theme to add to your repertoire. Add two or three vegetable sides (see  here, here and here) some cranberry sauce, a nice gravy and you'll have a feast that will please even the fussiest of families! Find this simple but delicious nut roast  here. If you want something a little more fancy, try out my Walnut Red Pepper Roast.
PS: I know this is a little late for Christmas Day, but I'm hoping it could still be useful if you're entertaining over the holiday period!

Christmas 2012 Cookery Highlights and Recipes

Half-demolished gingerbread house found in our kitchen this morning...
Wishing you all a somewhat belated Happy Christmas; hope you are having a wonderful holiday, and apologies for not having posted anything for nearly a week; all the preparations finally caught up with me and I literally haven't had time to catch my breath until now- sound familiar? The wonderful main course I had planned to post in time for Christmas just didn't manifest (but we had a great roast dinner anyway) so I'm hoping to get that done in time for the New Year celebrations. Here are some pictures of some of the things we cooked with recipe links where relevant...

By popular request from the family, gingerbread house #3

Cranberry Christmas cake with lemon-y icing and  home-made marzipan 

My husband's splendid vegan Christmas pud, shown here with vanilla Swedish Glace vegan "icecream" but equally good served hot with soya custard (recipe  to follow shortly)

This year's cheeseboard highlight: a vegan cultured cashew and soya roule that's an even tastier cruelty-free alternative to Le Roule or goats' cheese (recipe to follow soon)

Nut roast and all the trimmings (made a week or so ago for our other blog, "Vegan on a Budget")

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Countdown to Christmas Cookery 6: Gluten-free Stuffing and Sauce: Cranberry Sauce and Gluten-free Apricot Stuffing

These gluten-free stuffing balls make a great addition to your Christmas roast dinner

Whatever main course you decide to have at Christmas, it's nice to make it really special by having at least one accompaniment to it besides gravy or sauce, and "stuffing" is the ideal one for any kind of roast meal. This stuffing blends an unusual fruity element with pleasantly earthy and gluten-free buckwheat for a treat that everyone an have on their plate. (I have avoided nuts in this as there will likely be nuts in your main course and I was going for complimentary flavours and textures here; but if you want, some chopped hazelnuts would go well in this.) This recipe makes 16 balls- so you may want to scale it down.

200g whole buckwheat grains(dry weight)
100-150g semi-dried apricots, finely chopped
2 celery sticks
olive oil for saute-ing
1/2-1 tsp coarse black pepper
1 tab dried thyme
1/2 tp compound hing (asafoetida)
1 tsp seasalt

  • Cook the buckwheat until really soft in about 400ml water, keep cooking until all the water is absorbed.
  • Meawhile, finely slice and saute the celery in the oil. When it's cooked stir in the apricots and add to the cooked buckwheat. 
  • Blitz half of the mixture in a blender/ food processor until smooth and sticky and recombine with the rest in a large mixing bowl.
  • Now mix in the rest of the ingredients thoroughly and roll into balls.
  • Place on an oiled baking sheet in an oven pre-heated to 200C and cook until nicely browned (but not crispy!) turning once. This should take around 20 minutes or so, a little less than a nut roast, so put them in the oven last.

Another fruity offering for your Christmas table has to be cranberry sauce, and here I'm linking to the one I made last year. It's super-simple to make (cranberries are high in pectin so the sauce will set readily) and just that little bit tangy as a foil for all that other rich food on your plate! Click here  for the link.

Who doesn't love sweet, tangy and fruity cranberry sauce?

Monday, 17 December 2012

Countdown to Christmas Cookery 5: More Veggies- Maple-Glazed Sprouts (vegan)

Even sprout-haters will find them tempting glazed with maple syrup!
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the humble Brussels sprout, now would it? And love 'em or hate 'em, they are bound to be on your shopping list come next week. I thought it would be fun to find out a few facts about Brussels sprouts, and here's what I came up with:
  1. Sprouts have an ancient pedigree; their forerunners were known to the Romans, and the modern sprout was first recorded in the 13th Century- but some say the 11th, some the 16th and some the 18th!- in what is now the country of Belgium (hence the name...).
  2. Sprouts are cruciferous vegetables, from the same family as cabbage, kale and collard greens.
  3. They are grown mainly in Holland, Germany and the UK these days. French settlers in the Eighteenth Century also took them to the USA.
  4. Like all cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and kale, Brussels sprouts are really good for you: they contain sulphoraphane, a potent ant-carcinogen (steaming and stir-frying does not destroy this, but boiling does.) Amongst many other vitamins and minerals, Brussels sprouts are particularly rich in Vitamin K, Vitamin C and iron. Look here for some more info on this amazing family of vegetables from this blog.
(Source: Wikipedia)

So now, having a little background knowledge about sprouts and their benefits, it was just a case of finding a really tasty way to prepare them, whilst still retaining as many of their nutritional properties as possible. This is what I came up with: (Serves up to 4 sprout- lovers, 6+ sprout-haters)
500g Brussels sprouts
1 tsp fine seasalt
1/4-1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
1 1/2 tabs extra-virgin olive oil
1 tab pure maple syrup
100ml water

  • Wash, peel and slit the sprouts by making a cross-shaped slit across the stem ends of the larger ones.
  • Place in a pan with the salt, pepper and oil, and gently stir them over a medium heat to coat them.
  • Once they are coated, turn the heat right down and put the lids o the pan. Sweat them like this for a couple of minutes.
  • Remove the lid, add the water and replace the lid. Steam over a medium heat until the sprouts are just soft and all the water has been absorbed. 
  • Now stir in the secret anti-sprout-haters weapon: the maple syrup. Keep warm until needed, but do not overheat.
  • Just before eating, garnish with some finely-grate orange zest. (I was in a hurry, so I didn't manage this.)


Saturday, 15 December 2012

EV Series Herbs and Spices Event Roundup

 I got this award for contributing a recipe to Julie at Erivum Puliyam's Herbs and Spices event. Click here to see the roundup of  delicious recipes hosted by "Divya's culinary Journey"... I contributed Green Pea Hummus , btw.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Rich Chocolate Truffle Cake- vegan

I just smoothed the frosting on the top and sprinkled with chocolate curls and edible glitter, but it could easily be piped if you have the time for a show-stopping party piece
This really is a decadently wicked cake, with a velvety truffle filling and frosting- special enough to be an alternative to Christmas cake
 It would also make a brilliant Yule log cake, too

This is possibly the richest, creamiest cake I have ever made -but it contains no egg or dairy products whatsoever! The cake itself is soft and slightly fudge-y because of the melted gour/soft brown sugar and the frosting and filling is actually soft vegan chocolate truffle. It definitely has that "wow" factor which means it would be at home at a dinner party, Christmas celebration or family get-together alike- I made it for my husband's birthday. Another "plus" to this recipe is that it's really simple and quick to make if you keep the decoration simple. It's a large cake; the recipe I have given here would easily make 20 portions. (You can just halve all the ingredients if you don't want that much cake.) If you prefer a sugar-free vegan chocolate cake, try this recipe.

800g white self-raising flour
8 tsps baking powder
6 rounded tabs cocoa powder
400g gour or soft brown sugar
300ml ricebran oil
800ml soya milk

To frost and fill:
200g vegan margarine
200g unrefined icing sugar
200g vegan dark chocolate (and if it's Belgian chocolate, so much the better!)
2 tabs soya milk

  • Measure out the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and cocoa) and mix together in a large bowl.
  • Meanwhile, melt the gour /brown sugar carefully over a low heat, stirring to ensure it doesn't burn on the bottom. 
  • When melted, stir in the oil, then gradually add the soya milk, making sure you keep the mixture warm. Use a balloon whisk to get it homogenous. 
  • Beat the warm liquid mixture into the dry mixture (that's why you need a large bowl), using a balloon whisk to get it really smooth.
  • Turn into 2 dampened round silicone cake moulds  (10"/26cm in diameter or the equivalent) and bake in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 180C for about 25 minutes, or until a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake emerges clean.
  • Leave to cool on wire racks while you get the frosting and filling ready:
  • The frosting/ filling needs careful putting together to ensure it is not lumpy: Melt the chocolate in a bowl over steaming hot water, but leave aside a couple of squares for decorating the cake if you like.
  • In a separate bowl, cream together the sugar and vegan margarine to a smooth consistency; you will probably need to sift the icing sugar. Carefully mix in the soya milk. Remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the heat source and whisk until perfectly smooth. Then whisk in the buttercream mixture. 
  • When the cake is completely cold, sandwich it together with half the filling and top with the rest. It can be piped and decorated however you like.
  • Store in an airtight container. The topping/ filling will solidify a little more over time.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

How to 7: Make Marzipan- vegan, gluten-free

This is a lot easier than you might think! Home-made marzipan is great because the stuff you get in the shops, even if it is "natural" and doesn't contain any yellow colouring, invariably contains glucose-fructose syrup, which is often derived from grains like wheat.  It can be used to make little sweets, fill home made chocolates or go on a Christmas or wedding rich fruit cake.

To cover the sides and top of  a small fruit cake (double this amount for Cranberry Christmas Cake) you will need:
200g ground almonds
200g icing sugar (preferably unrefined)
3 tsps almond essence
2 tabs maple syrup/ agave nectar
1 tab water (only if you need it)

1:Mix sugar and ground almonds together in a large bowl.

2: Add the almond essence and stir well.

3: Next mix in the maple syrup/agave nectar...

4: ....And rub in with your fingers to make an even mixture. If it is too dry, add the water .

5: If the marzipan is a little too wet, you can add a bit more sugar at this stage. Pat into a ball and keep it wrapped in a sealed plastic bag until you need it.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Countdown to Christmas Cookery 4: Sweets- Chocolate Hemp Chikki, Chocolate Dates and Vegan Marshmallows

Crunchy hemp and smooth dark chocolate... mmm...
There are many different sweets traditionally made and given as gifts at Christmas: Turkish delight, peppermint creams, sugared almonds, marzipan fruits and fruit jellies, to name but a few. These are all vegetarian (you can just omit the eggwhite from peppermint creams; I'm not sure why it's even in there in the first place) or vegan- of course, you do need to check labels just in case- so here are three ideas for some less traditional yet equally delicious vegan goodies with which to feast your friends. 
New this year are the chocolate hemp chikki (the hemp was my husband's idea and the chocolate was mine!) which are rich in minerals and omega oils from the gour and the hemp. Then I've posted links to my recipe for date and marzipan chocolates and one for vegan marshmallows (possibly my greatest accidental invention ever!)

Chocolate Hemp Chikki (makes a bagful of little bites)
300g shelled hemp seeds
200g gour
about 50g dark chocolate
  • Melt the gour in a sturdy pan over a medium heat, and stir in the hemp seeds.
  • Follow the instructions for making chikki  here .
  • Spread onto greaseproof paper and when setting, break into little chunks or cut into neater squares/ diamonds (I went for he "crazy paving" effect).
  • Half-dip in melted dark chocolate and return to the greaseproof paper to set.
  • You can also make these with sesame seeds.

Date and Marzipan Chocolates
Find the recipe here

These are equally good as a cake decoration or on their own

Vegan Marshmallows
Find the recipe here

Try adding a little food colouring to make them even more attractive!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Easy-Peasy Pulao- vegan: re-blogged for Kids' Delight Event

Adapt the seasoning to suit your own taste, or follow my suggestion for a mild and family-friendly side dish

Our kids don't really enjoy their rice plain. However they don't like pieces of chilli or whole spices either, so I have to be careful to make sure the pepper and cardamom are ground. (I left the cloves whole though, as they are so obvious.) What made tonight's effort different was the addition of some grated veggies- when feeding youngsters it's always a good idea to cram in as much "hidden" veg as possible! Anyway, the end result was so colourful that I'm sending this to Kids'Delight  What makes it a "storybook" recipe is that my mum used to make rice something like this, and as I ate she would tell me stories of her childhood in India- not exactly a book, but a great family story!

This recipe serves 6+ as a side.
1 1/2 cups (250ml) basmati rice
1 level tsp turmeric (haldi)
1-1/2 tsps seasalt
1/2 tsp compound hing
1 large pinch coarse black pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp powdered green cardamom (elaichi)
10 whole cloves
olive or ricebran oil for sizzling the spices
150g veg (such as courgette, sweet potato and/ or white cabbage)
1/2 a yellow bell pepper
1 tab peas
1 tab sweetcorn kernels
  • First grate all the veggies apart from the peas and sweetcorn. (I used the fine attachment on my Magimix.)
  • Wash the rice and place in a pan with 3x 250ml cups of water, the salt and the turmeric.
  • Put the lid on, bring to the boil then turn down and simmer gently until the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked through. Be careful not to overcook it or it will become sticky and stodgy and the grains will break up.
  • Meanwhile, heat some oil in a small pan and throw in the rest of the spices. When the aromas are released (don't overbrown) add the grated veggies, peas and sweetcorn.
  • After a couple of minutes stirring and heating the veg through add them to the rice (which by now should be virtually done). 
  • Your pulao is now ready!
PS: Next time I'm going to toast the spices and in the rice pan, then add the rice, turmeric salt and water- I think this will make it even more aromatic. To prevent sogginess though, I will still add the separately-cooked peas and sweetcorn at the end, once the rice is done. (I only did it separately this time because I'd already put the rice pan on to cook when I decided to make pulao!)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Seitan chickpea sausages/patties or mince- vegan

I served them with roast potatoes, baked beetroot and a large mixed salad; you also could team them up with mash, gravy, peas and a blob of mustard for a very British supper.
I had been meaning to make these for ages, so when I found myself with a spare hour or so to spend in the kitchen, I jumped at the chance. I suspect I will modify this recipe in the future as this version is a good starting point for more experiments- but don't get me wrong; it's still a good recipe to cook per se. I looked at the ingredients to my kids' favourite brand of veggie sausage (the one that bears the name of a Beatle's late wife) and found the source of protein is "wheat protein" and "pea protein". So I decided to make my own version without onion powder, using seitan and ground kala chana (dark chickpeas). I wanted to cut down on fat and salt, too. Next time I will compromise, and add a tad more salt and perhaps throw in some shelled hemp seeds for some healthy omega oils, as the sausages were a little bit dry and crumbly on the outside once baked. (Maybe they would've been better fried, but then I guess that would have defeated the object.) This recipe will make 6 sausages/patties or you could leave the mixture loose, cut out the herbs and smoked paprika and use it in a tomato sauce or stock as mince in something like Bolognese sauce or lasagne.

300g seitan- look here for how to make it
200g cooked chickpeas (I used kala chana, the dark brown ones)
1- 11/2 tabs soy sauce
1/2-3/4 tsp seasalt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp compound hing
2 tsps paprika
1 1/2 tsps sweet smoked paprika
  • Blitz the seitan and chickpeas in a blender/ food processor until they resemble a fine mince.
  • Turn into a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, stirring well.
  • Shape into sausages/patties and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
  • Bake at 200C for 10-15 minutes,or until heated through and browning, turning once.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Countdown to Christmas Cookery 3: Veggie sides: Baked Beetroot with Cumin and Smoky Swede Mash

Baked beetroot with cumin is so quick and easy to make!

Fed up with boring Brussels sprouts? Tired of predictable peas?- Well here's a couple of ideas for something different to go with your main meal on Christmas Day (or New Year's Day, or any other day during the Winter festive season for that matter...)
The first side dish features beetroot, and is great because it can just be prepared then popped in the oven with whatever else you happen to be roasting in there. The cumin really raises the humble and somewhat earthy beet to divine status, along with seasalt crystals/ flakes and a dash of lemon juice. I promise you that people who wouldn't normally go for beetroot will love this one!
-Which brings me to the second veggie side of today, Smoky Swede Mash. Swede is cheap and plentiful in the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year, but few know how to make it really delicious. Too often swede is consigned to anonymity within a stew or casserole, but here I've given it star billing. Forget its history as animal feed- swede cooked this way is really tasty; I devised this recipe last Winter to persuade my family to eat swede, and it worked!

Baked Beetroot with Cumin (serves 4 as a side)
2 medium-sized fresh beetroot
a pinch of coarse/ flaked seasalt
a pinch of coarse black pepper
2 tsps cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tab olive oil
a dash of lemon juice to serve
  • Wash,peel and slice the beetroot into 6-8mm-thick rounds/semicircles.
  • Toss them in the oil,salt, pepper and cumin seeds.
  • Place on a baking tray and cook in the oven at 200C until soft (but not leathery).
  • Serve with a dash of lemon juice.
Smoky Swede Mash

Swede has an attractive golden colour

This is another really simple side dish.The flavour of the swede is enhanced by sweet smoked paprika. For  the recipe, click here.

By the way, iInow have another blog, Vegan on a Budget, where the recipes are all priced up and exclusively vegan. You may find some recipes the same as here, and some new ones too.So far I've made one post....

This is going to the excellent Foodomania's Christmas Cook Off  event; do check out all the yummy festive recipes there...

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Ingredient of the Month 15: Kale

L-R: Purple curly kale, cavalo nero, ragged Jack

Jersey Cabbage, a traditional kale from the Channel Islands

Ragged Jack, another heritage kale from the UK
Kale, or "borecole",  is without doubt one of the most nourishing foods you can eat: there's something about its vibrancy when you see it growing that kind of tells you that anyway. (The photos of our own kale above were taken with my mobile phone a couple of years ago in Spring and I hope they illustrate this.) Kale is a member of the brassica family (which includes cabbages, collards and broccoli), being different from cabbage in that its central leaves do not form a "head". It seems to be able to grow anywhere, from Congo and Kenya, Scandinavia and Ireland to China and Japan, and was once called "hungry gap" as it grows well in Winter, when there is little or nothing else available in field or garden. -In fact, kale is more sweet and tender after it has been touched by a frost, and you will also find that it keeps really well in the freezer. In Scotland, kale was traditionally grown in "kaleyards", protected from the wind by stone walls.  We grow several kinds of kale in our allotment, in a cage to stop the pigeons from eating it all. We have trendy cavalo nero (aka Tuscan black kale), tender Chinese Kailan, frothy-leaved curly kale, colourful Ragged Jack and tall (and somewhat tougher) Jersey kale. They make an attractive Winter display; a lush island of greenery amid brown, bare soil.

This is where kale really comes into its own, as it has been hailed as a "superfood" for its outstanding nutritional profile. It contains high levels of beta carotene, vitamin K,vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin and calcium. It even contains some protein, vitamin E, iron and omega 3 oils, amongst numerous other nutrients.
  • There are 45 different flavonoids in kale, which include kaempferol and quercetin. These are both antioxidant and antinflammatory and great for preventing/ alleviating chronic inflammation and oxidative stress (the damage that free radicals do). 
  • One of kale's more well-known and researched benefits is that it contains a double whammy against cancer: first up is sulphoraphane, a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. Chopping the kale finely will bring this out more, but boiling will decrease the sulphoraphane levels. (It has been found, however, that steaming or stir-frying kale don't result in much of a loss.) Kale's anti-cancer weapons number 2 are isothiocyanates (ITCs) which can significantly lower the risk of cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate.  One of these is indole-3-carbinol, which actually detoxes and repairs the body at DNA level, and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.
  • We all know that green vegetables are a great source of fibre, but did you know that the fibre-related components in steamed kale can also lower chloresterol levels? They do this by binding together with bile acids in the digestive tract to excrete them more effectively. (Raw kale also does this, but not quite as well.)
Teamed with black or cannellini beans, cavalo nero makes a delicious healthy Italian soup, although I must confess to liking kale better raw or dehydrated than cooked. I don't really like its texture if it's served up to me as a plain steamed vegetable, and find it quite difficult to chew and swallow. (The kids, however, love it that way and take great delight in telling me to eat up my greens!) Kale is great in stir fries. If, like me, you find it a little tough, it can be shredded finely; this not only renders it much easier to eat, but also activates the cancer-preventing compounds (see above). I think it would also be great shredded and baked in soy sauce to make "crispy seaweed", although I'm not sure to what extent baking would adversely affect the nutrients in it. (Let me know if you have tried this.) When faced with a bag of enormous Jersey kale leaves, I tend to steam them in the pressure cooker, blitz them in the food processor and turn them into a sag-style Indian dish with spices and a little oil. My husband also chops and pressure-cooks them with halved fresh tomatoes. The acid in the tomatoes seems to tenderise the kale leaves somewhat. Apart from munching the young leaves raw in the garden, my new favourite way with kale is to make kale chips- Yummy and crispy, and packed with all those health-giving substances...

Friday, 30 November 2012

Countdown to Christmas Cookery 2: Chocolate, Pear and Almond Pudding Cake and Cranberry Christmas Cake (both vegan and sugar free)

Top with flaked almonds, drizzles of dark chocolate and more cinnamon...

... bathe in a haze of luxurious chocolate soya custard. (the cake, that is)..

Hello, and welcome to Episode Two of my Christmas recipe mini-series! This time we're in the mood for some cake (who wouldn't be??) and I have two delicious recipes for cake to see you through the festive season. One is a vegan traditional-style Christmas cake which, if you do not ice and marzipan it, contains no added sugar; just the natural sugar in the dried fruit. (Make sure the cranberries are sweetened with fruit concentrate though.) The other is a less traditional combo, also sugar free, which can be eaten cold in place of fruit cake or warm with custard/ sauce/ cream in place of Christmas pudding.

First is the chocolate, pear and almond pudding cake. A touch of cinnamon lends it that Christmassy feel. Make sure you use xylitol chocolate (Plamil make a good one) for the drizzles and xylitol in any custard or sauce you serve it with if you want to keep it sugar free. This recipe makes a cake of around the same size as my basic sponge cake. It's quite rich and luxurious, so you -probably ;) - won't want massive slices... besides, the ground almonds give it the tendency to dry out after a day or so- better eat it up quick!
400g white self-raising flour
3-4 tabs cocoa powder
4 tsps baking powder (not bicarbonate of soda)
100g ground almonds
50ml date syrup
50ml agave nectar
100ml pure maple syrup
150ml coconut oil
400ml soya milk
2 tsps powdered cinnamon (as fresh as possible, for maximum flavour) plus more for sprinkling
2-3 conference pears, sliced thinly
a handful of flaked almonds
50g dark chocolate for drizzling
  • Mix all the dry ingredients together,including the cinnamon, in a large bowl.
  • Heat the oil, soya milk and syrups gently in a small pan, whisking to blend them together.
  • Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and beat well for about a minute.
  • Pile into a prepared cake tin/ mould (I used a rectangular one) and top with a single layer of pear slices and a handful of flaked almonds.
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 180C for 20-25 mins, until a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake emerges clean.
  • When cooked, drizzle generously with the chocolate and sprinkle with more cinnamon. Serve hot or cold. (I served it with soya custard into which I stirred the remainder of the chocolate: mmmm!)
If you want something a little more traditional, then this cranberry fruit cake is perfect. Top it with marzipan and icing to complete the Christmas effect, or go for decorating it with dried fruits and nuts to keep it sugar free.

Find the recipe here, along with more pictures of how I decorated it. Happy baking :)

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Vegetable muffins- vegan (also with cheese version)

Brunch or dinner, these muffins are perfect!

Who says a cake has to be sweet? These muffins have a soft, fluffy and light cake-y texture, yet are savoury with a hint of sunny Mediterranean flavours. They are great as a main course,  served warm from the oven with a tomato sauce like this one, or cold as a snack or picnic with a dollop of chutney like this one and a crisp salad. Or why not have one as a healthy breakfast alternative to sweet muffins? You can vary the vegetables and seasonings to your own taste, and create Indian (think baked wheat dhokla and spice accordingly) or Middle Eastern flavours too if you like!  They really are a store-cupboard recipe and great if you have veggies to use up, but at the same time they are special enough to serve at a dinner party.

Sweet or savoury? Unless you tell them first, your vegan guests won't know until they take a bite...
First up is the vegan cake, which I made in a small loaf mould so I could tell it apart from the cheesy muffins (I made both cakes in one meal). I was worried it would be short on flavour, but I'm glad to report it's very tasty. The quantities here are enough to fill a small loaf tin, and would serve 4 as a main course or perhaps 6 as a snack. I guess the ingredients list is quite long, but once you get everything together, the actual cooking part is easy.
150g white self-raising flour
50g wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tab nutritional yeast (aka yeast flakes)
1tsp seasalt
2 tsps baking powder (not bicarb)
1/2 tsp compound hing
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp oregano
1 large pinch paprika
1 large pinch coarse black pepper
75g grated veggies (I used green peppers and sweet potato- you could also try courgette)
25g precooked broccoli, in very small florets
1 tab sweetcorn
6 pitted black olives, halved
2 tabs cooked cannellini beans
5 sundried tomato halves, soaked to soften them and chopped into small pieces
200ml soya milk
75ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • Prepare the vegetables, beans and olives and set aside.
  • Mix together the flours, baking powder, yeast flakes turmeric and all the seasonings in a large bowl.
  • Stir in the vegetables well.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the soya milk and the oil together.
  • Next, add the milk/ oil mixture to the flour and vegetable mixture, beating well for about a minute.
  • Pile into a dampened small silicone loaf mould or muffin cases in a tin/ a dampened silicone muffin tray, scatter with flaked almonds and get them into a preheated oven (180C) immediately.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes; the muffins should be springy and risen and a thin skewer inserted into the centre of one should emerge clean.
*Pine nuts would also be great in this cake, or to replace the flaked almonds.


-And now for the cheesy version, which is very similar to the above recipe, apart from the cheese and not having the broccoli, beans or yeast flakes:
  • Replace the nutritional yeast with 100g grated cheese
  • Cut out the broccoli and beans and instead use 100g grated veggies rather than 75g.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Yogi Vegetarian Turns 2 Today!

Happy Birthday, Dear Blog!

I would never have thought that I would be able to keep writing recipes for this long, and I have to say I am finding blogging more and more enjoyable- and addictive- as time goes on!
Looking back at my second year of blogging I realise that I have a lot to thank others for: Firstly my husband, who has not only tolerated me spending hours on my laptop but also chipped in with useful tips and ideas, and contributed some of his own amazing recipes. It is as much his blog as mine now. The rest of my family have also done me a great service by eating and commenting on the recipes. If none of them like a particular one, I can be pretty sure it isn't worth publishing! I must also thank my friends, godbrothers and sisters and work colleagues for reading the blog and its fb page; their interest and enthusiam has spurred me on. And last, but certainly not least, it's YOU, my blog readers and followers who have inspired me. I have read so many truly excellent posts by others it's really quite humbling! (For example, I am always really impressed with Mel Makes, which is always immaculately presented and beautifully illustrated. She has only been in the blogosphere since October, too.)
From my stats I can tell that my blog gets way more pageviews from search results rather than from regulars, as I don't have tons of followers- yet- but at least I know it's being read by someone. (And I get a lot more pageviews now than I used to, as I post very regularly.) I often wonder who has tried out a recipe or two... and that leads me on to think about the steps I have made in the past year towards building a blog community round The Yogi Vegetarian. I don't get tons of comments on my posts, but then I myself don't spend an awful lot of time following and commenting on other blogs- my reading list only has to take a few minutes to keep up with every day, as I am a full-time Mum and wife and I go to work every day. I do like to leave comments when I get time, though. When someone writes a really great post with lovely pictures they deserve recognition! I tried out hosting a recipe event last Spring, but maybe that was a little premature, as the response was not huge. (Perhaps I should ask a more popular fellow blogger to guest host an event on my behalf next time?)*
If you are reading this now, and you do drop by The Yogi Vegetarian from time to time, then I'd love to get some feedback via comments. What would you like to see featured? Do you have a request for any dish in particular, an idea for a "how-to" or maybe you'd like some information about an ingredient? 
.... I'm eagerly awaiting your responses, so I can better cater for you!

*If you'd like to do this, just leave a message for me in the comments below this post. It's great way to direct new readers to both our blogs.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Fiery Green Tomato, Lemon and Chilli Chutney

This might be just the ticket to liven up your Christmas cheeseboard, vegan or otherwise...
My husband requested a really hot chilli pickle or chutney after I had made the green tomato chilli jam the other day. He asked me to put 3 nag bhut chillis in, seeds and all. Normally, this would be enough to make the chutney totally inedible to all but my courageous husband, but luckily the chillis had been in the freezer a while and seemed to have lost some of their bite. Having said that, though, this is still a fiery condiment and a little will go a long way...

This recipe makes enough for 2 small jars or one larger jar (coffee jar size)
500g green tomatoes
Up to 3 nag bhut chillis (or more of a less hot kind)
150g gour or unrefined brown sugar
1 tab extra virgin olive oil
2 tabs lexia raisins
2 tsps seasalt
1 lemon, sliced into very thin wedges
1 tab cumin seeds
1x5cm cinnamon quill
1 tsp hing

  • Mince the chillis and stir into the hot oil with the cumin seeds just until the seeds start to toast.
  • Add the green tomatoes (roughly chopped), the cinnamon, and the lemon slices.
  • Lower the heat, adding a splash of water if necessary, and cook with the lid on until the tomatoes are soft and their juice is coming out.
  • Now add the gour/ brown sugar, the salt and the raisins to the pan. Stir it in until it has melted/ dissolved and bring to the boil.
  • Continue to boil gently, stirring from time to time to prevent scorching. After a few minutes, a little of the chutney will hold together when dropped into cold water and it's ready to bottle in a sterilized jar(s). You can remove the cinnamon now if you like.
  • Use with caution! 
 For more interesting chutney/ jam recipes, look here, here and here

rhubarb chilli chutney, green tomato jam, plum chutney

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Hemp seed Soda Bread Rolls -vegan, yeast free

Just waiting to be dunked into homemade soup...
We were both tired after a crowded Saturday afternoon's shopping in Birmingham, we had yet to go on our run and were also facing a drive later to pick up our daughter from her friend's house, so dinner had to be a simple affair. While I donned my leggings and grabbed my running shoes, my husband got busy with a pumpkin and chickpea soup and also somehow found time to rustle up these rolls to go with it. They are a variation on his soda ciabatta bread and take just minutes to prepare. The hemp seeds add their own special subtle flavour, plus some useful omega oils. What a warming, delicious feast awaited us when we got back from running!

(Makes 8-10 rolls)
500ml (about 2 cups) wholemeal flour
500ml white flour
100ml shelled hemp seeds
4 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
15ml extra-virgin olive oil
soya milk to mix
  • Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Rub in the olive oil.
  • Add just enough soya milk to make a workable dough that's not too wet and sticky.
  • Dampen your hands and roll into 8-10 balls, then place on a warmed and lightly oiled baking sheet, Bake in an oven preheated to 180C for 15 minutes until they are starting to turn light golden-brown on top.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Countdown to Christmas Cookery 1: Introducing a new mini-series

Try making a gingerbread house this year!

Here's a new mini-series I am running up to Christmas Day, with (mainly) vegan Christmas fare for the festive season. I am hoping to cover sweet, savoury, main meals, cakes and desserts, snacks and all things Christmas-y. This will mostly mean Yuletide flavours with a new twist, veganised festive favourites and yummy things to do with the season's fresh produce. In case you missed any of the last two Christmases' offerings, I will link to those too. 
To start us off, how about some inspiration for those of you who prefer gingerbread to cake? Have a look at this gingerbread house here and this gingerbread house over here. They are surprisingly easy to make and children adore them as the centrepiece to a party table: just make sure you make the icing "glue" thick enough...