Saturday, 18 May 2013

Almond "Parmesan"

A very useful sprinkle to jazz up pasta, pizza, salad etc.

This is a really useful little vegan tip that I picked up from Nicole at the awesome Vegan Green. I think she may have used more yeast flakes than me, which probably gave it a stronger flavour, and she used black salt whereas I used seasalt as no-one but me in my house likes black salt. I have noted the quantities I used in case you want to try it out; feel free to adjust the proportions according to your taste. This sprinkle is great on pasta, as the basis for a pesto or on a salad.

1 (250ml) cup ground almonds; I didn't grind mine too finely so as to leave a bit of texture
3 tabs yeast flakes (aka nutritional yeast)
1 1/2 tsps seasalt

  • Simply mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight jar!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

How- to 12: Braise Vegetables

Braised vegetables can be a side dish or just add a sauce and incorprate them into your main course...

Braising is a great way to cook veggies when you want something a bit more interesting than steamed veg but not complicated to do, and still healthy. The word "braise" comes from the French verb "braiser", meaning to cook over charcoal, or "braise". Although you can use a barbecue and then a pan to braise this way, most braising nowadays is done indoors in one pan. The food is first seared then cooked in liquid with the lid on until the liquid is absorbed. Although originally done with meat, braising also works very well with vegetables and if the liquid is absorbed it should retain more vitamins than boiling. So here's how to do it:

1: Prepare a selection of veggies: shown here are sweet potato, broccoli, green beans and white cabbage. Bell peppers, courgettes (zucchini), cauliflower and fennel are also very good braised.

2: Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a large , shallow pan.

3: Once chopped, thinly sliced or shredded, put the veg in the pan and sear in the oil until just softening/ slightly browning. We always put the lid on for this.

4:  Add seasalt, pepper and soy sauce or liquid aminos- that's the only liquid we use, as the juice from the veg will add moisture too. Stir well then pop the lid on again and cook on a low heat so as not to scorch the veg. After a few minutes remove the lid. If you have used juicy veg like courgettes you may want to continue to cook it with the lid off so that the excess liquid disappears. Be careful not to overcook at this stage though, as nothing is worse than soggy veggies!

5: The finished braised veg- they should be tender and succulent but not mushy and will have absorbed  some great subtle flavours from each other, the oil and the seasoning.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Homity pies- vegan and non-vegan versions.

The cheesy version on the left was made with white pastry, and the vegan one with wholemeal.

Homity pie is a typically British open pie, the origins of which date back to WW2, when the "land girls" were taking over fruit and veg production, and presumably also cooked up some wartime staples with the produce. The ingredients are simple as food was rationed back then (although the cheese would have been expensive.) Looking for something other then cold pizza or veggie sausages to put in the kids' lunchboxes (they hate sandwiches), I decided to have a go at both non- vegan and vegan versions of individual homity pies. Traditionally they are made with leeks and/ or onions, but we have yoga-ised them and gone for seasoned white cabbage instead. I would also like to add that this pie could just be the perfect picnic food for he English climate- it's great eaten cold al fresco, but in case of rain you can take it home and enjoy it hot while you dry off!

This recipe made about 10 individual pies, or you could make one big pie. We used a Breville "Pie Magic"  to get a neat finish and a perfectly even bake rather than the oven and tins, but you could of course use the traditional method- as outlined in the recipe below:

Pastry made with about 500g flour (see here)
2-3 medium-sized potatoes, sliced very thinly
300g shredded white cabbage
a half quantity of tofu cheese
salt and black pepper to taste
olive oil for shallow-frying
2 tsps brown sugar (optional)
2 tsps compound hing
1 tab dark soy sauce
1 tsp seasalt

  • Make the pastry and set aside somewhere cool.
  • Shallow-fry the cabbage in the oil, adding the sugar, hing, soy sauce and salt in this order- you should end up with something roughly like fried onions.
  • Steam the potato slices until soft but not crumbling.
  • Roll out your pastry (if using oil it's easier and less messy to do this between sheets of clingfilm).
  • Cut either small circles or a large one and line an oiled tin(s) of your choice with it.
  • Put in the cabbage first, then layer up the potatoes until they reach the top of the pie. Finish with a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper.
  • If you are using cheese, then top with grated Cheddar. If not go straight to the next step, which is:
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 200C until the pastry is crisp.
  • For the vegan pies, top with tofu cheese now and grill until slightly brown on top. Use some chopped curly or flat-leaved parsley to garnish.

This goes to Chandrani and Indrani's event: "Show Your Best" (links above- please do check out their great sites). I will upload the logo as soon as I can...