I’ve just realised I’ve put ‘cookbooks’ in the title when, actually, only one is a cookbook (clue: it’s not the one that says ‘skincare’). But, as the skincare book uses vegetables and other edibles, when you’ve finished making stuff for your skin, you can eat the leftovers, so it’s kind of the same thing, yeah?
I would say this is the first in a new series of monthly round-ups but, knowing me, it’ll be a haphazard monthly series that doesn’t appear monthly as one would reasonably expect a monthly series to do. This haphazardness is especially likely as I had planned to start my round-ups with a round-up of May’s recipes, reviews and samples at the beginning of June, but when it got to the 28th of June, I thought that was probably a bit too late for a May round-up. (Update: Writing this post has taken far longer than I thought it would when I started it on 6 July – it’s now the 11th.)
My resolve weakened at the weekend. Don’t panic, not my Veganuary pledge – not eating cheese is a breeze. No, it was my ‘I’m not going to drink alcohol in January until the 30th when I go on a pub crawl’ resolve. But I fancied a drink on Saturday, so I had one. One bottle of wine, that is. Well, make that a bottle and a half. I should also probably confess that, according to Barnivore, it wasn’t even vegan wine (Hardys, if you’re interested) but as I don’t take too much notice of whether wine is vegetarian or not at the best of times (and certainly not if I’m drinking it in a pub), I’m not going to feel too guilty about that and, in my defence, it was a bottle I’d bought before Veganuary, anyway (although that doesn’t defend it’s non-vegetarianness).
Veganuary Day 16
Saturday’s breakfast had been a superfood smoothie containing spinach, apple, clementine, raspberry, wheat grass powder, acai powder and chia seeds. I said in Friday’s post that wheat grass is great for an energy boost and it certainly powered me through Saturday morning’s spin class.
After burning all those calories at the gym, I ate them back at lunchtime in the form of a Warburtons Giant Crumpet with Vitalite, and a mug of hot chocolate.
I’ve made a few burgers from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way before, such as:
- sweet potato burgers with lentils and spinach
- easy bean burgers
- cashew and leek burgers with bulgur and lentils
- spinach and chickpea burgers
and although I’ve enjoyed them all, making burgers can be a bit of a time-consuming faff, as well as creating a lot of washing up. These vegan smoky mushroom burgers from Vegan – 100 Everyday Recipes, while not whipped up in an instant, aren’t too much of a chore and the results are worth it. I made the whole amount, cooked enough for two burgers, then froze the rest of the mixture to use another time.
The way I made these burgers is pretty much as it is in the book but I added garlic as cooking onion without garlic seemed wrong. I also left out the 30g coriander the original recipe has as I’m not keen on coriander.
- 425g can red kidney beans, drained
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 115g mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, coarsely grated
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 70g porridge oats
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- plain flour
- salt and pepper
- Place the kidney beans in a bowl and mash thoroughly with a potato masher.
- Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes.
- Add the mushroom, carrot and paprika and fry for a further 4 minutes.
- Add the vegetables to the beans with the oats, soy sauce and tomato puree. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
- Divide into 6 portions and shape into burgers, then lightly coat in the flour.
- Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan and cook the burgers for a few minutes each side, until lightly browned.
Veganuary Day 17
I didn’t have any breakfast on Sunday and for lunch I had some of the cake my friend had sent me (which you can see on last Thursday’s post) and a mug of hot chocolate. Not the most healthiest of lunches but hey ho.
Dinner was a jacket potato with chilli, Violife and sour cream. Again. That’s the third time this month I’ve had it so I’ll spare you looking at the photo of it for the third time.
As I write this (on the 18th), there’s two weeks left of Veganuary. I still don’t feel any different. Maybe I should get a tattoo or a t-shirt or something (just kidding).
If you’re vegetarian or vegan and have been to London, you’ve probably heard of Mildreds. In fact, even if you’re vegetarian or vegan but have never been to London, you’ve probably heard of Mildreds.
But, just in case you haven’t heard of Mildreds, Mildreds is a popular vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Soho, London that has been around since 1988. It’s so popular, I’ve personally only been a couple of times because it gets mega-packed and me and mega-packed don’t get on too well. They don’t take bookings either, so if they’re full (which they usually are), you have the option of either a) having a drink while you wait in their bar; or b) go away and come back later when they’re hopefully less busy.
The first time I went (one evening a few years ago), I went for option a and I’ve got to say, this wasn’t such a pleasant experience. The bar is more of a waiting area than a comfy place to wait (if you see what I mean) and the staff were aloof, acting as if they were doing us a favour by allowing us to wait. I can’t remember what I ate but I remember being less than impressed but I probably had a grump on by then because of the wait and the snooty staff.
However, the second time I went (lunchtime/mid-afternoon, a few years ago but not as many years as ago as the first time), friendly staff showed us immediately to a table and although, again, I can’t remember what I ate, I remember enjoying it and happy to make a return visit.
Mildreds: The Cookbook
If you’re one of the many thousands of Mildreds fans and have hankered after recreating your favourite dishes at home, you’re going to love this cookbook. And for those of you who are yet to visit Mildreds, now you can find out what all the fuss is about.
Mildreds: The Cookbook is set out in chapters and sub-chapters containing:
- Dips, Sauces & Dressings
- Gluten-free menu ideas
- Vegan menu ideas
with each recipe clearly labelled if it’s suitable for vegans and/or gluten-free.
The first recipe I made from the cookbook was a gorgeous feta, chilli & mint-filled aubergine escalope. Although the escalope was delicious, it wasn’t very photogenic, so I’m going to share instead the spanakopita I also made. I usually make spanakopita in one large strudel or in pie-form (you can see others I’ve made here and here) but this time, I put a bit more effort in and made individual ones.
As you can see, I omitted the sesame seeds. I also left out the caster sugar, didn’t caramelize the onions, and didn’t add any nutmeg or pine nuts either. Despite me leaving out most of the ingredients, these spanakopita were still delicious. They froze well, too, and were great cold for lunch the next day. I’m going to post below the recipe as it is in the cookbook and not the slapdash way I did it.
- 1 x 400g packet filo pastry, thawed if frozen
- 125g butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- Olive oil
- 2 large onions, finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 500g spinach, rinsed and drained
- 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
- 120g feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 bunch of dill leaves, chopped
- 25g pine nuts, lightly toasted
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Pinch of black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas mark 5. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. For the filling, heat a splash of olive oil in a pan, add the onions, sugar and salt and cook over a medium heat; stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the onions are caramelized and golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Cook the spinach leaves in a pan of boiling water for 1 minute until tender. Strain and leave to cool, then squeeze out any excess liquid with your hands. Roughly chop the spinach and place in a mixing bowl with the caramelized onion and the rest of the filling ingredients. Mix together well.
- Cut the filo pastry sheets lengthways into 4 even strips about 7cm wide. Brush an individual strip with melted butter, place a small spoonful of the mix towards one end of the strip and fold the corner of the pastry over itself at right angles, making sure you brush it with more melted butter once more before you make the last fold to ensure it sticks together well. Place the triangle seam-side down on to the prepared baking tray. Repeat with the remaining strips.
- Brush the tops of the prepared spanakopita with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown.
Visit the Mildreds website
If you’re a fan of The Great British Bake Off, you’ll remember Ruby Tandoh, one of the finalists in the 2013 competition. You’ll probably also remember the slagging-off she got in the media (social and otherwise) for no good reason except for people deciding to get all mean girl on her.
Haterz gonna hate – as the young people say – but I loved Ruby; I thought she was fab. I loved her because, as well as the undoubted stress she was under taking part in the show, this didn’t stop her working hard towards her degree (in which she subsequently got a first – go Rubes!), she’s gorgeous and – most importantly, what with this being a vegetarian food blog and that – she also makes delicious vegetarian food. Taking all this into account, we could almost be twins. I say ‘almost’ because I’m old enough to be her mum which obviously makes us being twins slightly unfeasible.
After her success on GBBO, Ruby released a book of her recipes. Although she isn’t a vegetarian, there are plenty of vegetarian recipes contained within it, such as this Spiced Aubergine and Swiss Chard Pie which is just as good cold the next day, as hot.
As Ruby says in Crumb about this recipe, ‘There’s little to be gained in trying to make a vegetarian pie into an ersatz steak-and-kidney or second-rate ‘mince’ and potato version. Meat-free pies should be exciting and different, not apologetic’ and she’s certainly got this recipe right.
Other chapters include:
- Sweet dough
- Desserts and Puddings
- Pies and Tarts
- Extras (fudge, caramel, chocolate skills, honeycomb, jams, sauces and curds)
Giveaway – Win a copy of Crumb by Ruby Tandoh
If you’d like to win a copy of Crumb by Ruby Tandoh (please remember it also contains meat recipes), leave the answer to this question in the comments section below.
Name one of the presenters on The Great British Bake Off. Is it:
A. Sue Perb
B. Sue Percalifragilisticexpialidocious
C. Sue Perkins
Terms and conditions
UK entries only
The winner will be picked at random after the closing date of Midnight, Saturday 28 February 2015
Domu – a website containing a wide range of home and kitchen products – approached me a few weeks ago and asked if I’d contribute a recipe to an online cookbook they were planning to put together. I was happy to let them have my pesto, spinach and mozzarella pasta recipe and today they launched their cookbook 24 Restaurant Quality Dishes To Make In Your Kitchen*. You can download your free pdf copy by following the link in Domu’s blog post or download it directly here.
Do have a look around Domu’s website though, they have some fab stuff. As a ‘thank you’ for my contribution to their cookbook, they sent me a voucher to use on their website, so soon I’m going to be the proud owner of a soup maker. I can’t wait.
*Please note that not all the recipes in the cookbook are vegetarian.
I’d spent a long time pondering over whether to buy The Gentle Chef Cookbook, mostly because it’s self-published and I’m a still a bit snobby in that respect. I needn’t have worried though as the book is amazing. It’s beautifully laid out and produced and just as professional as any traditionally published cookbook. There aren’t any photographs but (and this is what swung it for me in the end) you can see plenty of photographs of the recipes on The Gentle Chef website. For even greater flexibility, if you do want the photos and the recipes combined, there’s a pdf version available to purchase.
The 235 pages are split into chapters:
- Seitan, with information on preparing it and recipes for lots of different types, e.g. meatballs, pepperoni, corned beaf, chick’n, bacun, roasts, ribz, etc., along with recipes in which to use them.
- Soy Proteins (tofu, tempeh, TVP),
- Udderly Un-Dairy (vegan butter, cream, cheese, etc.)
- Breakfast and Brunch
- Appetizers, Dips and Spreads
- Salads and Dressings (including vegan mayonnaise and mock tuna salad)
- Soups, Broths and Stews
- Entrees and Accompaniments
- Classic Americana
- British Fare
- South of the Border Cuisine
- Italian Cuisine
- German Fare
- Indian Cuisine
- Thai Cuisine
- Japanese and Pacific Cuisine
- Chinese Cuisine
- Sauces and Gravies
- Sweets and Treats
- Doesn’t this book sound amazing?
The extensive number of seitan recipes was another factor in my decision to buy the book and the day it arrived in the post, I flicked through it and decided to make the pepperoni. Unfortunately, in my eagerness, I forgot about my over-zealous fan oven and slightly overcooked the pepperoni, as the outside was a bit tough and chewy. This hasn’t stopped me snacking on it all morning though, as it’s deliciously warm and spicy, containing chilli flakes, paprika and fennel seeds, along with other herbs and spices. I can’t share the recipe with you here as – quite rightly – Skye Michael Conroy (The Gentle Chef) doesn’t like his recipes being shared and would prefer you to buy the book and find the recipes for yourselves.
At the time of writing, The print version of The Gentle Chef Cookbook is only £10.67 with free delivery on Amazon. Or you can buy the print version or the pdf version direct from The Gentle Chef Website.
On first glance, The World Food Café Vegetarian Bible seems to be part National Geographic Magazine, part travelogue and part vegetarian cookbook. This isn’t surprising when you discover that Chris Caldicott used to be a freelance photojournalist and also London’s Royal Geographical Society’s glamorous-sounding Expedition Photographer-in-Residence. It was this opportunity to travel and eat in exotic locations that led to his desire to open his own world food restaurant. After meeting his wife, Carolyn, they travelled the world together before opening the World Food Café in London’s Covent Garden which was the go-to place for adventurous vegetarian food for twenty years. As travelling vegetarians, they faced the challenge of finding food in countries where the traditional cuisine leant more towards meat and seafood.
They managed it though and the World Food Café Vegetarian Bible is a compilation of recipes inspired by food found in Africa, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America. There are over 200 recipes in this weighty 384-page hardback (even the paprika and turmeric coloured cover hints at what’s inside), 120 of them suitable for vegans and over 200 vibrant photos of food, landscapes, buildings and people. Photos of camels are interspersed with photos of stews and curries; a photo of a Gorkha woman smoking on a hillside in Nepal precedes a recipe for panch kol (a combination of five vegetables with a rich garlic and spiced tomato gravy).
As you’d expect, the recipes are varied and wide-ranging; from familiar dishes such as saag paneer (an Indian spinach and cheese dish) to the not-so-familiar cozido (a Brazilian stew containing tofu, pumpkin and okra marinated in garlic, onion and tamari). As anyone with a large collection of cookbooks can tell you, many contain hard to find ingredients but, surprisingly, considering this collection is inspired from such far-flung places, most of the ingredients are readily available in the supermarket. Where the authors have felt an ingredient may be hard to source, alternatives have been suggested.
So, if your vegetarian world food expertise begins with a veggie chilli and ends with a Quorn curry, the World Food Café Vegetarian Bible will liven up your dinnertime. That’s if it makes it as far as the kitchen. It’s a bit of a cliché to say this wouldn’t look out of place on your coffee table, but it really is a beautiful book.
The World Food Café Vegetarian Bible has an RRP of £20 and is published by Frances Lincoln.
‘There’s too much black pepper in it.’ Honestly, one episode of Masterchef and The Meat Eater thinks he’s an expert. (I agreed with him, but – sshh – don’t tell him that.)
Too much black pepper aside, this was a lovely dish. The feta gave it a wonderful tang.
I’ve written out the recipe as it appears in The More Veg Cookbook but I didn’t put any wine in it because, as far as I’m concerned, wine should be in a glass, not in food so I added more stock instead. I also used 200g of feta, not 150g and, as you can see from the photo above, it still didn’t completely cover the dish. Then again, the recipe says to use a casserole or ovenproof pan and I used a wok (a Tefal one that I’ve used for about ten years as a frying pan/saucepan. It’s huge and brilliant and practically cleans itself) then transferred the mixture into an oven dish.
You’ll need about an hour to make this but that’s mostly cooking time, as the preparation is minimal.
Mushroom pot with feta and herb topping (serves 4)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 green peppers, halved, deseeded and sliced
200g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
200g button mushrooms
1 small glass dry white wine
450ml vegetable stock
For the topping
150g feta cheese, crumbled
handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole or ovenproof pan, add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes on a low heat. Stir in the garlic, oregano, paprika, lemon zest, and some salt and pepper and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Add the green peppers and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften, then add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes. Increase the heat, add the wine, and bubble for 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Partially cover and cook on a low-medium heat for 20 minutes; it should begin to thicken slightly. If it is too thin, uncover, increase the heat a little, and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. To make the topping, mix together the feta, eggs, half the parsley and a little salt and pepper. Pour this over the mushroom mixture and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the egg has set and the top is golden. Remove and sprinkle with the remaining parsley to serve.
If you’re vegan, or even if you’re not, you should own a copy of Veganomicon.
It starts with a list of pantry items, most of which are quite hard to find in the UK, e.g. vital wheat gluten (I tried to find it and failed, and ended up buying seitan mix from Veganstore), liquid smoke (which apparently is smoke from smouldering wood that has been condensed into its liquid form [no, I’m not making this up, honest] and tempeh. Also, it might be just me, but I’ve never heard of black salt (which according to Isa is pink and tastes of egg yolk and I‘m trying to decide if that‘s a good thing or not) and smoked salt (which only one recipe – tofu benny (Isa’s take on eggs Benedict) – calls for anyway).
The recipes are set out in sections. First up is the savoury section. A bit heavy on the tofu side, it starts with 11 tofu omelette recipes, followed by 20 pages of recipes containing tofu. Good news for tofu lovers then. Bad news for the other 99% of the population. Still, if tofu’s not your thing, there are plenty of other recipes to tempt you, e.g. mushroom, leek & white bean pie, chili cashew dosas with spiced apple cider chutney and buckwheat waffles with red wine tarragon mushroom gravy.
Pancakes and waffles take up a lot of room in the sweet section, including the odd sounding chocolate beer waffles and the gorgeous looking lemon cashew-stuffed crepes with whole berry sauce.
In the sides section there are a few sausage recipes and a recipe that caught my eye was the potato spinach squares.
Next up is the bread basket section, with a selection of baked goods such as muffins, cakes, bagels, rolls and scones (including a very tasty looking tomato & rosemary scone recipe).
Towards the end is the messy stuff; toppings, e.g. cashew sour cream and smoked almond gravy.
Finally, at the end is the drinks section, including pink grapefruit mimosas, so you can drink champagne in the morning, safe in the knowledge that everyone knows this is a socially acceptable thing to do and does not mean you are a raging alcoholic who drinks as soon as they get up.
Paperback, 240 pages, colour photographs throughout.
**Win a copy of Vegan Brunch**
Vegan Brunch is out on 4 June 2009. To get your hands on a copy before then, please leave a comment and I’ll pick a name out of a hat (a pink straw one to be precise) and will send one lucky winner a copy in the post.
Competition ends Friday 22 May 2009. UK entries only please.