Tuesday, 2 June 2015

sunny and yummy mango, melon and pomegranate smoothie

sunny and yummy mango, melon and pomegranate smoothie 

As the weather outside is absolutely terrible for June (there's sleet, rain and wind here in Glasgow) I thought I would brighten up my morning with a tropical, sunny smoothie to pretend that summer is actually here. 

I picked up the pomegranate from Lidl's, which was a great find. If you don't have anywhere that stocks them, I think raspberries would make a delightful substitute.

Makes 2 smoothies:

2 mangoes
half a cantaloupe melon (though you can use whatever melon you like)
half a pomegranate
lemon juice to taste

1. chop up the flesh of 2 mangoes, making sure to get all the skin off. I find slicing across a mango first means you can tell where roughly the stone is, which helps when you're grappling with it trying to cut the nice squishy bits off. You will need a blender for this - a fancy one, or a stick one will do. Pop the mango into whatever whizzer you have

2. Chop up half the melon and add to the mix. 

3. chop the pomegranate in half. I find a mixture of squeezing/banging it into a bowl gets a lot of the seeds out, then i scrape with a spoon. Do NOT wear white while doing this. Unless spattered pink tops are in this season, in which case go right ahead. 

4. Pick out the worst of the bitter white fleshy bits and smush the pomegranate seeds a bit to release more juice. Carefully pour that juice into the mangoes and melon, being careful not to let the seeds fall in. If you have a sieve for this, use it. I wish I did!

5. Whizz up your fruit, and add some pomegranate seeds to garnish if you want to be fancy pants like me. They also add a nice fruity crunch which I love.

What's your favourite smoothie recipe? Do you have any particular sunny meals that cheer you up when the weather is grey?

Friday, 27 March 2015

hearty and filling lentil, tomato and carrot soup

hearty and filling lentil, tomato and carrot soup

I am very particular when it comes to soup. I like my soup nice and thick - and it doesn't come much thicker than this!

The lentils in this soup are a food superhero - high in fibre, protein, vitamins C & B and a source of iron, so it's an easy way to introduce lentils into your diet if you haven't eaten them much before. 

It's also one of the easiest soup recipes I know, and vibrantly orange, which is always fun!

Serves 4 (I freeze portions of this regularly)

130g red split lentils
2 medium carrots
1 large onion 
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
400ml boiling water 
1 veggie stock cube
1 tsp of marmite (if you have it)
1 tsp olive oil 
1 clove garlic (2 if you love it)

pitta bread or toast to serve 

1. Chop up the onion nice and small, and with the olive oil, gently cook the onions in the biggest soup pan you've got 

2. When the onions are looking soft and are going more see-through, add the chopped garlic. Grate the carrots either onto a plate then into the pan or straight into the pan. This makes them cook quicker and it'll whizz up easier later. 

3. Bring 400ml water to the boil (this is around 2 mug-fuls of water). Add to the pan and crumble in the stock cube with it. Dump in the tin of chopped tomatoes too and lastly the lentils. Give it all a big mix in the pan

4. Using a teaspoon, get a blob of marmite and then swirl the spoon in the pan (don't burn yourself) until the marmite slides off. Give another big mix with a wooden spoon. 

5. Bring this up to the boil on a medium heat, then turn it down so it's just simmering for about 15-20 minutes. 

6. When the lentils are soft and don't have a 'bite' to them, take the soup off the heat. Now is the time to whizz it to a smoother consistency. I ladle it out into my nutribullet jug and whizz it per portion, but if you have a stick blender you can use in the pan, or a food processor to pour the soup into, you can do that too. If you are a total soup philistine, you can eat it without being blended! 

7. Pop some pitta breads or bread into the toaster, pour the soup into bowls and season with pepper if you want. 

8. Eat, and enjoy the nice warm glow in your tummy for having hot, hearty and healthy soup!

Do you have a favourite soup recipe, or an interesting way to use lentils?

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Super-easy pancakes and berry nicecream

super-easy pancakes and berry nicecream 

Celebrating pancake day is as easy as pie! These pancakes only have 2/3 ingredients, and the nicecream is just bananas, soya milk and raspberries!

Makes 5-6 pancakes and 3 scoops of nicecream 

For the pancakes:

1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1.5 cups of soya milk - or any other non dairy milk
3 tablespoons of oil (I used olive as it's unsaturated)

For the nicecream:

1 chopped and frozen banana 
1 handful of frozen raspberries (cheaper than fresh anyway!)
a splash of soya milk 

1. Chop the bananas into slices, and lay across a tray or some foil. Pop into the freezer and leave for a few hours, or ideally overnight

2. Whisk all of the pancake ingredients together - if your milk wasn't cold, you might want to pop the batter in the fridge for 5 minutes to chill it down

3. Pop a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat, and add a little bit of oil. If you have any kitchen roll, you can wipe the oil around the pan so it's all covered without being too oily. 

4. Use either a measuring cup, or a jug to pour a bit of the batter in your pan. Pull the pan away from the heat, and roll the pan around, so that the batter spreads out more. 

5. When you can see bubbles on the pan and you give the pan a shake and it can peel away, either flip it with a delightful flick of your wrist (or using a spatula)

6. I keep my plate in a very cool oven (max 50C) so I can pop the pancakes on it when they're ready so they don't cool down. 

7. Once you've finished making your pancakes, add your frozen banana pieces and your raspberries to a mixer (I have a nutribullet). Add a splash of soya milk to help it all smush together. You might have to shake your mixer about a bit. 

8. SERVE! I like to pop my nicecream on top of my pancakes, but serve it however you like

Have you tried nicecream? What flavours would you like to make?

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

creamy and zingy sundried tomato pasta

creamy and zingy sundried tomato pasta 

Pasta is a very important part of my life, despite what the name of this blog might lead you to believe. Actually, all carbs hold a special place in my heart, their comforting, warming carbohydratey goodness filling up my tummy makes me very happy. And slightly bloated, but that's fine!

I recently moved to Glasgow and decided that every new kitchen deserves new cookbooks. This recipe is therefore based on a recipe from the very smily and clever Chloe Coscarelli, whose vegan italian cookbook  I recently bought after endangering my laptop because I was drooling so much looking at her recipes online. 

Serves 2

3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/3 cup/40g plain flour 
800ml of dairy-free milk, your choice 
1/2 jar of sundried tomatoes in oil 
a hefty squirt of tomato puree 
1/4 cup/30g of nutritional yeast 
a sprinkling of dried basil 
1 big or 2 small garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste 

pasta, whatever shape you like 

1. Get the pasta on - bring the water to a boil once the pasta is in, then turn it down a bit and let it simmer. 

2. Chop up the sundried tomatoes into little-ish bits. I went for little strips. Chop up the garlic really fine too. It's better to do this now, rather than when they're ready to be put into the sauce and you're freaking out and hurrying. We can all learn from my mistake!

3. Add the oil to a medium size pan, and make sure it's one that doesn't stick loads. Also make sure you have a good wooden spoon handy, one that can scrape around corners well. Put a low heat on, and add the flour to the oil in the pan. Make sure to mix and mix until it forms a squidgy dough. Hey. that's a roux! You're officially a french cordon bleu chef now, go you.

4. Continue to mix the roux on the LOW heat (if it's high, you'll have issues), until the dough feels like it's getting dry, around the 3 minute point. Now take it off the heat. 

5. Very slowly, introduce your milk bit by bit. And to begin with, this will probably be just a splash, then mix it in. Do that again, and make sure every time, you're mixing it in completely. Any lumps - stop adding milk and mix until your arm falls off, and hopefully the lumps will go. Continue this until you have a milky, thin sauce. 

6. Pop the pan back on a low/medium heat, and stir it fairly frequently. As the sauce thickens, it's got a tendency to try and stick to the bottom, so make sure your stirring has a nice scrapy action that gets the base of the pan and the edges. 

7. As the sauce is thickening, chuck in the nutritional yeast, basil, salt, pepper and the tomato paste, garlic and the sundried tomatoes. See, now it's easy! if you want to be fancy and pop some sundried tomatoes on the top when it's done, hold some back. 

8. Keep stirring until you can feel with the spoon that the sauce has thickened, and it has gone a nice orangey colour. 

9. Drain the pasta, return to the pan and pour over the sauce. Add the extra sundried tomatoes if you want to be snazzy, and some fresh basil if you happen to have it. I bought a little basil plant for my new flat so I did :)

Italian food is definitely my favourite culinary inspiration, although I am a big fan of japanese and thai at the moment! What's yours?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

crunchy kale crisps

crunchy kale crisps

Kale is great. This is an easy way to eat a lot of kale, which is a perfect idea because it is fabulously good for you, full of calcium and iron and.. lots of other good stuff. Go kale! 

The variety I thought up was cheesy spicy kale crisps, which satisfies my salty savoury cravings. 

Serves 2, but it depends how much you love kale 

1 bag of kale (usually around 200g)
a hefty drizzle of olive oil 
chilli flakes or chilli powder
a pinch of salt
a big shake of nutritional yeast (what's that?)

1. Preheat the oven to 190c 

2. Chop up the kale if necessary. I am lazy and buy it pre-chopped, hee hee. Tip the kale into a large roasting tray or oven proof dish. Don't worry if it seems a lot - like spinach in a pan it will wilt down a fair amount 

3. Drizzle some olive oil over the kale - you can always add more later if you need to so don't go mad

4. Sprinkle over the salt, some paprika, the chilli flakes or the chilli powder (careful with this it could blow your head off) and finish off with a hefty sprinkling of nutritional yeast - this gives the cheesy taste 

5. Give the kale a big mix around. Make sure you're coating the kale in the mixture as much as you can 

6. Pop in the preheated oven. Check after 5 minutes. The edges start to catch and go a bit brown - so watch out! If the kale nearer the middle is still a bit soggy, give it all a wiggle and a shake and put back in for another few mins. 

7. Grab it out of the oven and transfer to a bowl for an immediately tasty snack. Like popcorn, but even better for you! 

I've heard of other varieties like using curry powder, or just plain salt and pepper. Garlic could also be very yummy - what do you think? 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

yummy chocolate and banana celebration cake

Chocolate and Banana Celebration Cake 

This is my 'go-to' cake if I want something easy, yummy and decadent. It's lovely and squidgy because of the banana, and I've never had an issue with it rising or going badly wrong (which makes me think it is probably a miracle cake). 

It's also dead easy to bake, which is a bonus, and a good way to use up bananas that have gone a bit too brown to be appealing. The picture above is me feeling jolly proud of myself after baking a feast for everyone. Cheesy grin and pinny not essential but encouraged!

This is based on a recipe from Viva's vegan cooking guides. Viva are an absolutely fantastic animal rights vegan living charity who do a lot of good work exposing animal cruelty and encouraging people into a vegan lifestyle. So check them out!

Serves 6 or more, depending on how much you can scoff. 

200g of plain flour
50g of cocoa powder
3 bananas - ripe!
130ml soya milk (or other non-dairy milk)
200g caster sugar
2 drops vanilla essence 
100g vegan margarine, melted

two 7 inch cake tins

For the filling

175g vegan margarine 
120g icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder (optional) 
splash of soya milk (only if the mixture is too dry)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F

2. Put the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder in a bowl together. Sift if you can, and make sure this is a big enough bowl for all of the cake ingredients. 

3. In a separate bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until there's only small lumps and it's nice and squidgy. Add the soya milk, vanilla essence and sugar, and mix together

4. Melt the margarine over the heat in a pan or in the microwave until it's melted. Add that to the banana mixture

5. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients bowl and mix thoroughly. 

6. Grease two 7-inch cake tins and pour roughly half the mixture into each. If you want to be clever about this, you could weigh the mixture, but I am not that clever

7. Cook in the centre of the oven for about 45 minutes - check it after 35 to make sure it's not burning.

8. While it's cooking, wash up and make the cream filling! Mix the margarine and the icing sugar together. Try not to choke in the icing sugar cloud this will produce. Keep mixing and mixing until the consistency looks smooth. Pop in the fridge. 

9. Let the cake cool on something without a firm bottom - like a wire rack- so it can breathe and let the heat out. Don't be tempted to put the buttercream on while the cake is even a little bit warm, because it will slide right off. Eat a bit of the buttercream to keep yourself occupied if needs be.

10. Use two thirds of the filling to spread in the middle - place the filling on top of one layer, and pop the other layer on top of that. Use the remaining filling for the top of the cake, and use any other decorations you fancy. 

11. Take pleased picture of yourself holding the cake 

Do you have a favourite cake recipe? Has anyone tried a vegetable cake, like beetroot or courgette?

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

warming pear, ginger and lime crumble

Pear, Ginger and Lime Crumble

As the nights draw in, my need for warm yummy comfort food increases. Crumbles are the perfect pudding to satisfy the hungriest of visitors, but are still easy to make. This recipe is pretty quick, and the ingredients are interesting enough for it to be a bit fancier than the usual crumble, if you need it to be. 

Serves 4 greedy people!

For the crumble:

250g plain flour
90g caster sugar 
1 tsp of powdered ginger (or mixed spice if you don't have it)
115g of vegan margarine (I use 'Pure')

For the filling:

100g sugar
100ml water 
4-6 ripe pears, depending on their size. I used 4 the first time, and wished I'd had a few more. 
5 chunks of stem ginger in syrup - usually in the baking section of the supermarket 
1 lime 

1. Pop the oven on to 200 celsius/400 fahrenheit 

2. Peel and then chop up the pears into chunks. Chop the stem ginger into small pieces, and get the zest from the lime with the smallest edge on your grater. Once you've zested the lime, squeeze the juice out into a cup. 

3. Put the water and the filling sugar into the pan and bring to the boil. Very slowly and carefully add the chunks of pear - be careful not to splash the mixture on yourself as hot sugar syrup hurts!

4.  Turn the pan heat down to a simmer, and after 2 or so minutes, add the stem ginger, half the lime zest and the lime juice. Stir for another few minutes until the smell is so delicious you feel a bit dizzy!

5. Spoon the mixture into your oven-proof dish. I think smaller but deeper dishes work best for crumbles, so the filling seems thicker than if you had a long, shallow dish.

6. Now for the crumble mixture. Using a medium to large bowl, sift in the sugar, flour and powdered ginger. 

7. Cut the margarine into chunks and add it to the dry ingredients. Rub the margarine into the flour using your hands. It's messy - enjoy it! Keep going until it's the consistency of breadcrumbs - you don't want any fine floury bits or chunks of margarine left but it can look a tad rustic, that's fine.

8. Pile the crumble topping onto the pear filling in the dish. Don't pat it down - but give the dish a little shake if you want to spread the filling out a bit. 

9. Pop into the oven for 25-30 minutes - keep an eye on the topping, it should be golden brown. 

10. Sprinkle the remaining lime zest on the crumble either in the ovenproof dish, or once you've served into bowls. Serve with vegan ice cream, or custard, cream or just by itself. 

What crumble warms your cockles on a cold night? Are traditional puddings your favourite?