Green Lentil and Chilli Hummus

Green lentil hummus with garlic and chilli

Riverford sent me some celery. I don’t hate celery, per se, but I don’t like it cooked in stews or anything like that and I certainly don’t want to make a soup out of it and I don’t really like it raw in salads either. As far as I can see, celery’s only role in life is to be an edible spoon for hummus. Which, as roles in life go, isn’t a bad one – in fact, it’s to be commended, but I didn’t have any chickpeas with which to make the best hummus in the world ever so I was stuck with celery and nothing to eat it with.

So, as I knew I had a tin of green lentils, I pondered on Twitter whether green lentil hummus was a thing.

and received this reply from my Twitter friend, Healthy Hornett

and I reckoned she (actually, I have no idea if it’s a girl or boy Hornett so, if you’re reading this, @healthyhornett, sorry for assuming you’re a she) was right and, after promising to report back, I went off and made some green lentil hummus.

Well, two days later I did, anyway. And, do you know what? Green lentil hummus is most definitely a thing and an excellent alternative to the more traditional chickpea one.

I made this hummus in my Optimum G2.1 blender which whizzed it into smooth and creamy hummusy perfection in a minute but if you haven’t got a high powered blender, you might want to add a bit more olive oil to help it along.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Green Lentil and Chilli Hummus
 
A gorgeous alternative to the more traditional chickpea hummus
Author:
Recipe type: Vegan
Ingredients
  • 1 390g tin green lentils, drained
  • ½ cup (150g) tahini
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 whole dried chilli
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until everything's combined
  2. Add the olive oil and process until smooth

For other alternatives to chickpea hummus, try this beetroot and cannellini bean dip from Fuss Free Flavours, or Tin and Thyme’s smoky red pepper dip and chive guacamole.


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Vegan Oast Cakes Recipe

Vegan oast cakes

At the end of last year, I took part in a wonderful free food photography course – 30 Days to Better Food Photos. When it ended, I didn’t want to lose motivation, so I created the Beginner’s Food Photography Critique Group on Facebook so those of us who wanted to, could keep sharing our photos and get feedback on them (it’s not just for people who took the course – anyone can join). Each month we set a challenge to photograph something on a theme and this month’s theme was regional/local.

I googled for traditional Kent recipes and fancied making a gypsy tart but decided that with evaporated milk being the key ingredient, it wouldn’t easily be veganised. Then I came across a recipe for oast cakes, which are named after the round pointy-topped hop-drying houses you can see all over the Kent countryside and the oast cakes were eaten after the crop had been gathered. I’d never heard of oast cakes but, as I’m from London, not Kent, maybe that wasn’t too surprising, so I asked The Meat Eater if he’d heard of them but he hadn’t either.

As you can see from the photo, they’re similar to Welsh Cakes and taste like them too, although oast cakes don’t contain spices or egg. What oast cakes do traditionally contain is lard but that’s easily veganised by using vegetable shortening instead. I’ve got to admit, I didn’t know what shortening was but a quick investigation told me that I could use suet or Trex. I thought Trex was something from the 70s but you can still buy it in Tesco, which is what I did as Trex is pure fat, while suet is a mixture of fat and flour.

These vegan oast cakes are fried, but I can’t see any reason why they couldn’t be baked instead.

Vegan Oast Cakes Recipe
 
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Author:
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 225g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 50g vegetable shortening (e.g. Trex), diced
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 75g sultanas or currants
  • 45ml vegetable oil
  • 25g dairy-free spread (I used Vitalite)
Instructions
  1. Put the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl, then rub the vegetable shortening in thoroughly
  2. Stir in the sugar and the sultanas or currants, then mix with 3-4 tsbp water to make a soft dough
  3. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 1cm thick. Cut out 12 rounds using a 5cm cutter
  4. Heat the oil and dairy-free spread in a frying pan and fry each oast cake for about 3 minutes on each side until golden, then drain on kitchen roll

Here are some more traditional dishes from my fellow food bloggers:

Welsh Pancakes by Tin and Thyme (vegetarian)
Cornish Splits by Tin and Thyme (vegetarian)
Bara Brith by Natural Kitchen Adventures (vegetarian)

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Recipe: Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

Vegan cream of mushroom soup
Although my VonShef Soup Maker acts as a great blender, I’ve been lazy and have just chucked all my ingredients in, pressed the start button and buggered off to leave it to it. This method ends up with a smooth, creamy soup but slightly lacking in flavour with the onion and garlic not being fried first. This is only to be expected – after all, boiled onion doesn’t sound appetising, does it?

So, yesterday, I decided I’d had enough of creamy, yet bland, soup and took a bit more effort with the vegan cream of mushroom soup I’d decided to make. Yes, it meant more washing up but only one pan, so it’s not that much of a hassle and it was totally worth it.

I’ve made mushroom soup in the past (see here, here, here and here) but this one is definitely my favourite. I had a brainwave and wondered if cashews and soya milk would give it the creaminess some of my soups are lacking and yes, it certainly does. I usually use a potato to thicken my soups up but cashews are definitely the way to go in the future. Cashews will obviously add a lot of calories to a soup – if you’re bothered about that kind of thing – but they’re good calories and full of protein and apart from protein being good for you, it keeps you full up and this soup kept me full all afternoon.

Recipe: Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 250g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup cashews, soaked overnight or soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500ml stock
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • ½ cup soya milk
Instructions
  1. If making in a soup maker:
  2. Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil for about 5 minutes, until soft.
  3. Add the mushrooms and fry for a few more minutes.
  4. Add the mushroom/onion mix and all the other ingredients to the soup maker except the soya milk.
  5. Cook on the blending programme for 20 minutes.
  6. Check the texture at the end, blend until smoother if necessary.
  7. Add the soya milk and blend again to mix through.
  8. If making on the hob:
  9. Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil for about 5 minutes, until soft.
  10. Add the mushrooms and fry for a few more minutes.
  11. Add the rest of the ingredients except the cashews and milk and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  12. Add the cashews and milk and blend until smooth.

 

 

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Recipe: Battered Halloumi

vegetarian-battered-halloumi

I love halloumi. I love the saltiness, the squeakiness and the oh-my-god-it’s-just-so-fucking-delicious-ness of it. In the fridge languished half a block that needed to be used up and instead of stuffing it in the portobella mushrooms that are also languishing in the fridge needing to be used up, I decided to batter the halloumi, like they do in my local chippy.

I’ve made Yorkshire Puddings and battered tofu before, but I’ve never made a chip shop type batter. I whisked up the flour, milk and baking powder and seasoned it with salt and pepper but I felt it was missing something. The Meat Eater said it wasn’t and said that was how batter is made so I took his word for it, even though he couldn’t tell me how he knew how to make batter. He also assured me that it’s supposed to be the texture of wallpaper paste.

This battered halloumi was so, so good. It was even better than the chip shop’s. The halloumi had softened and lost its squeak and weirdly developed the texture of fish.

I don’t have a deep fat fryer, so I used the Tefal wok-type pan I use for almost everything. I’ve had it over ten years and I still think it’s brilliant and you can buy one here. (This post isn’t sponsored by Tefal, I just wanted to tell you how much I love my wok.)

Now I want to batter all the things.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Battered Halloumi
 
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Author:
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • ½ block halloumi, sliced into 4 pieces
  • 60g plain flour
  • 30ml water
  • 30ml milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • salt and pepper
  • Oil for deep frying
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan or deep fat fryer if you have one
  2. Whisk together the flour, milk, water and baking powder and season with salt and pepper
  3. Check the oil is hot enough by dropping in a bit of batter. If it floats and sizzles, the oil is hot enough
  4. Dredge the halloumi in the batter and fry for 5-10 minutes, until golden, turning over a few times

 

If you like the look of this battered halloumi, you may also like these beer battered mushrooms from Amuse Your Bouche.


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Recipe: Raw Vegan Banana Bread Biscuits

Ani Phyo's raw vegan banana bread biscuits

The strawberry and coconut macaroons I made in my dehydrator the other day didn’t last long, so it was time to make the other recipe in Ani’s Raw Food Desserts that had caught my eye.

Ani's Raw Food Desserts
Ani’s Raw Food Desserts

My cheapy food processor chopped the dry cashews okay but it didn’t like the bananas and refused to chop them, so I bashed them with a wooden spoon and the pecans kind of stayed whole. But the end result was delicious, so who cares if they look a bit ‘rustic’, eh?

Ani Phyo's raw vegan banana bread biscuits

As you’ll see from the recipe, I left my biscuits in the dehydrator for 10 hours but they were still a bit moist in the middle and therefore more cakey than biscuity. If that’s the texture you require, great – but if you want them a bit drier, then leave them in for another hour or two (or three or four).

Ani Phyo's raw vegan banana bread biscuits

5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe: Raw Vegan Banana Bread Biscuits
 
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Adapted from Ani's Raw Food Desserts by Ani Phyo
Author:
Recipe type: Raw vegan
Cuisine: Dehydrator
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2 cups dry cashews
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup dry pecans, chopped
Instructions
  1. Put the cashews and salt into a food processor and process into small pieces.
  2. Break up the bananas and add to the processor with the vanilla and process.
  3. Add the pecans and pulse until everything's combined.
  4. Shape into biscuit shapes and dehydrate at 45C for 10 hours, or longer if you want them drier.

 

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Recipe: Soup Maker Cauliflower Soup

Vegan cauliflower soup

Despite this soup being the easiest soup in the world to make, it wasn’t the easiest soup to guess in my Guess The Soup game. I didn’t think it would be so difficult; it’s just one vegetable, after all, and a seasonal vegetable at that (I’m assuming it’s seasonal – it came in last week’s veg box, anyway).

Maybe the stock discoloured it. I don’t know what goes into most ready-made stock powder and cubes (I should probably be ashamed of this) but this stock was a home-made one, made from The Gentle Chef’s Instant Chicken’less Bouillon Powder, which is easy to make and much nicer than anything you’ll find in the shops. Just make a batch up and store it in a jar until you need it.

Recipe: Soup Maker Cauliflower Soup
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
These instructions are for a Von Chef Soup Maker. Your settings might be different. If you want to make it on the hob, just simmer all ingredients for about 20 minutes then blend at the end and add the soya milk.
Author:
Cuisine: Soup
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp home made or store bought bouillon powder
  • 3 cups water
  • salt and pepper
  • 50ml soya milk (optional)
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients except the soya milk into the soup machine
  2. Set on 'low' for 25 minutes
  3. Add the soya milk at the end for extra creaminess

 

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Recipe: Bread Maker Sundried Tomato Ciabatta

Bread machine sundried tomato ciabattaI know, this doesn’t really look like ciabatta. Ciabatta should have a holier texture (that’s ‘holier’ as in ‘full of holes’, not some religious thing) than that and this just looks like your average loaf of bread. The crust, however, does have a ciabatta texture and the bread on the whole is a perfectly decent and light loaf which went beautifully toasted with my soup for lunch today.

The recipe I used is similar to this one at Frogeatstown except I added two large, chopped, sundried tomatoes out of a jar (I would have used more but I only had two left) after a couple of minutes into the cycle on the bread machine. I’m wondering now if maybe the oil from the sundried tomatoes is the reason for the un-ciabatta-like texture? It could also be because I’m not particularly accurate when it comes to measuring so my volumes were probably a bit off. Breadmakers out there – if you know about these things, please leave me a comment!

Bread machine sundried tomato ciabatta

Bread machine sundried tomato ciabatta 

1 ½ cups water
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 tsp white sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
3 ¼ cups strong white flour
1 ½ tsp fast acting yeast
2 large sundried tomatoes out of a jar, chopped

  1. Place all ingredients except the sundried tomatoes into your bread machine in the order specified in your instruction manual.
  2. Choose the dough program and press ‘start’.
  3. Add the sundried tomatoes after a few minutes.
  4. After the dough program has finished, turn the dough out on to an oiled baking sheet and bake in the oven at 220C/200 fan/gas mark 7 for about 20 minutes.

 

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Recipe: Spinach, Tahini and Cumin Spread

Spinach, tahini and cumin dip

While I was in the supermarket this morning, I pondered over which spread to make for lunch. I’d just bought a far bigger bag of spinach than I needed so I thought I’d put that to use. I’d gone past the dairy aisle and didn’t want to go back to get some yoghurt to add to it but I remembered the jar of tahini I’d bought the other day and concocted this delicious dip when I got home.

This recipe doesn’t make a huge amount, as you know how spinach disappears into nothing, but it’s easy enough to double or triple the quantities. Spinach, tahini and cumin dip

Spinach, tahini, cumin and garlic spread

2 large handfuls spinach
3 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper

Add everything to a food processor and blitz until it’s the texture you require.

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Recipe: Curried Kidney Bean and Chickpea Spread

Curried kidney bean and chickpea pate

I’ve been experimenting again with dips and spreads. I had half a tin of kidney beans and half a tin of chickpeas in the freezer so I blitzed them up with some Greek yoghurt and curry powder and the result was this gorgeous spread that’s perfect to have on oatcakes or in a wrap with some salad.

What a great way to use up any leftover beans!

Curried kidney bean and chickpea spread

Curried kidney bean and chickpea spread 

Half a can of kidney beans
Half a can of chickpeas
2-3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp curry powder (or to taste)
Salt and pepper

  1. Place the kidney beans and chickpeas in a food processor and blitz until they’re mashed up.
  2. Add the Greek yoghurt and carry on blitzing until you get the consistency you require.
  3. Add the curry powder to give as much or as little heat as you like.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
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Recipe: Soup Maker Spinach and Carrot Soup

Because my kitchen currently looks like this:

I keep telling myself it'll be worth it in the end
I keep telling myself it’ll be worth it in the end

I haven’t done any cooking in there for a week or so. Despite the novelty and convenience of having Papa John’s pizza on a Monday night, pre-packaged pasta and couscous salad on Tuesday night and leftover Papa John’s last night, today I craved something not out of a box or a packet, then remembered I had a soup maker somewhere (if you think the kitchen looks bad, you should see the state of the dining room where the floor is covered with the contents of the former kitchen) and looked in the fridge where I found some spinach and carrots.

I didn’t take much notice of how much spinach was in the bag or how much water I used, so all weights and measures are approximate.

Soup maker spinach and carrot soup

Spinach and carrot soup (serves 2-3)

200g spinach
2 carrots, chopped into chunks
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tsp stock powder
700ml water
30g Cheddar
1 onion, chopped
3 dried whole chillies
salt and pepper

Chuck everything into the soup maker and put on the setting that blends as it goes along.




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