All posts filed under: Vegan

Lunching at Konstam in King’s Cross

Regular readers and fellow twitterers will know that I am a big fan of pork belly! An inexpensive but delicious cut of meat, that is transformed into a thing of crispy wonder when given the right amount of care and attention. Spiced with star anise or sweetened with cider and sporting a crispy coat of crackling, it is one of my favourite things to eat in this world. So, you can imagine my delight when a restaurant local to work started serving pork belly sandwiches at lunch time. Not just any restaurant either, but Oliver Rowe’s Konstam at the Price Albert, a restaurant where most of the produce (where possible) is sourced from within the M25. Many of you will be familiar with it from the TV show, The Urban Chef, that tracked the setup and opening of this fine establishment. Prior to opening Konstam at the Prince Albert, Oliver ran a cafe of the same name (Konstam). of which I was a big fan and I was disappointed when it closed in favour of …

butternut squash curry

Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

This has been a great couple of weeks for festivities. Diwali, Halloween, Day of the Dead last week, and Guy Fawkes coming up. It certainly takes the bite out of the impending Winter! I always like to celebrate anything like this with food if I can, hey, I don’t need an excuse I know, even if it’s just for me, or, better again with friends. Last week was busy but I did sneak in a dish that would in some way cover Diwali and Halloween, well, kind of. Diwali being a Hindu festival is all about vegetarian food, particularly curry, snacks and sweets. As for Halloween, well, Halloween is about spooks and scary things, but also pumpkins, so I thought, why not make a veggie curry with pumpkin in? Or, in this case, butternut squash. I had an ulterior motive, I felt I needed a few veggie days, or veggie meals at least. I usually have quite a balanced diet but lately I’ve been buying lunch out alot more than usual, and as I work …

Ditalini with fresh borlotti beans, rosemary & tomato

Today’s recipe is ditalini with fresh borlotti beans, rosemary & tomato – a twist on Pasta e Fagioli that I made for lunch today. I’m a girl with an eye for detail, at least when it comes to food (for you friends reading, shocked that I typed that! ;)). I didn’t want to blog pasta e fagioli yet, because I wanted to make sure that the one I eventually blog is traditional, accurate and painstakingly researched. I am almost there, but not quite. So, instead, I will blog part of the research towards that goal and call it ditalini with fresh borlotti beans, rosemary & tomato. It’s a vegetarian version, intentionally, I wanted something with clean, crisp flavours, light & fruity and healthy. So, how to go about this? Spend a Sunday morning wandering around the food halls of London, unintentionally picking up the ingredients. Beautiful big red tomatoes of the type you would see in the mediteranean, fresh borlotti beans in their pink stripey pods, bursting to come out, ditalini pasta, shallots, garlic & …

Israeli Couscous with onion squash, haricot beans and pumpkin seeds

I am using pumpkin alot lately, I know. They’re in season, so I like to make the most of them. I love everything about them, the way they look and taste, their bright orange colour, I (clearly) just can’t get enough. I love just having them on my kitchen windsill, brightening the place up. Yes, sad, I know. I try to bring a homemade lunch to work every day but, lately, I’ve been lax. I find the change in seasons breaks my routine, which is no bad thing, but it’s time to get my house in order again. Often, it’s leftovers from dinner the night before but, sometimes, I make something especially for lunch as the repetition can get tedious. Anna Pickard recently made a suggested dish of mine in her “Out of my box” post on the Word of Mouth blog, and I laughed so hard at her description of it, as it’s so true of how I eat in November: The rest was dedicated to Niamheen and her Rice and Chorizo and Squash …

Moutabal

I love Lebanese food. The flavours are so fresh and lively, and the meze style eating is varied and so sociable. London is awash with great Lebanese restaurants, particularly around the Edgware Rd area.  They’re great places to bring vegetarian friends as there is plenty to satisfy everyone from the vegan to the carnivore. The Maroush chain of restaurants in London have a deli on the Edgware Rd, where I used to treat myself to moutabal when I lived in nearby Kilburn, a smoky aubergine dip, not unlike baba ghanoush from Egypt. I frequently make dips like guacamole, hummus and pesto but infrequently moutabal as I didn’t have a gas cooker in my last flat, so I decided that now that I have,  I should make it last weekend. To make moutabal you need to grill some aubergines over a gas flame until the skin is burned and the flesh is hot. The aubergine will be very hot so, take care, and ensure you don’t burn yourself as I did. I have previously made this …

Something Halloween-y – Pumpkin, Celeriac & Chilli Soup

Happy Halloween! I love festive occasions, any excuse for a bit of fun and a party. Halloween was one of my favourites as a child. We were always on mid term break and so had ample time to fashion costumes, from, *cough*, the most humble of substances. Witches costume from a refuse sack? No problem! I blame Bosco (all you Irish readers can nod your head). Pumpkins were never something we could get our hands on in the wilds of Waterford, so we use to raid the local sugar beet fields and fashion jack-o-lanterns out of them. I wish I could communicate using words the foul stench of burning sugar beet, but we persevered and carried them from house to house. There was a big band of siblings, cousins and neighbours that would march for a mile or so, stopping at the sporadic houses, singing in 3 parts everything we knew – stuff from TV (yes, Bosco), school, church, you name it. We didn’t want monkey nuts, we despised them, just money or sweets please, …

Carrot, Coriander & Lemon Soup

Summer is here! At long last! Sun, sandals, walks along the South Bank, maybe even some picnics. And last night a bright summery soup. This soup is so bright and cheerful, a twist on my usual carrot & orange inspired by an indian dal. I toyed with the idea of adding a tarka (spices tempered in oil added to a dal before serving) but decided the simpler and lighter the better. Lemon and coriander work so well together, as do carrots & coriander so I thought this should work, and it did. I like lemon, but I don’t like it to overpower so I added just a couple of tablespoons, you may want to add more or less – I suggest you do to taste. Ingredients: 300g carrots, peeled & sliced 100g split red lentils 1 leek, halved and sliced 1l vegetable stock a handful of coriander juice of half a lemon Method: Sauté the leeks for a good ten minutes or so over a low heat. Add the carrots, I like to sauté these …

Samphire Tabbouleh

Following on from yesterdays post -Wild salmon with samphire, broad bean & tomato salad and crisp sauté new potatoes, I have another samphire post. This one is vegetarian and is based on the salad recipe from yesterdays post. I was looking at the 100g of samphire that I had left and wondering what I could do with it that would be tasty and suitable for lunch the next day. A quick fumble in the cupboard revealed a forgotten bag of organic bulgur. Bulgur is very healthy, it’s more nutritious than rice or cous cous so I always have a bag to hand next to the quinoa. There’s lots of forgotten random bits in my cupboards, it’s like a bunker in there! I have promised myself that I will empty them over the coming months and base my recipes on what’s in there so it should be interesting. For the samphire, I decided on a chunky samphire tabbouleh. I love tabbouleh, it’s so light and fragrant but can take really robust flavours. I decided that I …

Courgette & Sweetcorn Soup

I haven’t been feeling very well recently so haven’t been cooking. Today I started again with something very gentle, almost medicinal, a really tasty courgette and sweetcorn soup. Both main ingredients are reasonably delicate and result in quite a creamy soup which is a pleasure to eat and perfect for tender tums. It’s also seasonal so the ingredients are at their best having grown naturally. I have a really lovely book which I have had for over 10 years and which has travelled with me from Ireland to London and through my many house moves since – The Kitchen Pharmacy by Rose Eliott & Carlo de Pauli. Both authors have great credentials, Rose Eliot is a renowned vegetarian food writer and Carol de Pauli is the Principal of the Institute of Traditional Herbal Medicine & Aromatherapy and the Director of the British and European Osteopathic Association. Their book associates specific foods with ailments and offers recipes for these which if nothing else provide comfort. You are what you eat, a cliché but so true. For …

Rice paper rolls

Or, for me, they’re pretend it’s summer rolls. It’s Saturday and I am sitting in my flat looking at the pouring rain. I can’t bring myself to go outside, it’s too grim. I need to make something to lift my spirits that doesn’t require leaving the house. Something vietnamese would be nice, it’s been a while since I’ve made any vietnamese food and it reminds me of a lovely holiday I spent in Sydney last year with two old friends. A quick stocktake reveals rice paper, bean sprouts, rice vermicelli, chillis, a green pepper, a very big avocado and some fresh herbs. So, vietnamese rice paper rolls it is. Or a twist on them at least. These look really tricky, but really they’re very simple. Rolling them is a little fiddly and you may lose the first couple through practice but once you get the hang of it you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about! I usually make these with prawns. They’re perfect for lunch and great for a light evening snack. I don’t …

Roast butternut squash, coconut & chilli soup

This isn’t a quick dish like my normal Monday-Friday dishes. It takes a little time as I like to roast the butternut squash. Roasting intensifies the flavour and leaves a beautiful sweet syrup on the roasting tray which I put in my soup. I also add chilli and herbs when roasting it which on it’s own makes a lovely side dish. Any pumpkin/squash will do, I just happened to have a butternut squash. The smaller the better, the smaller ones have a better flavour, large pumpkins tend to have more water. We cooked a giant pumpkin some years ago and while it was great fun and a challenge to use all of it, it just didn’t have that lovely sweet flavour of the smaller ones. I would love another one though. A friends neighbour grows them on his allotment. It was so big it had to be delivered in an old cement bag, it wouldn’t fit in a normal refuse sack. And we only got a quarter of the pumpkin that time. This is a …

Pasta with potato, red lentil and pumpkin

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything but I’ve got a few things to post from the weekend. I’ll start with a pasta dish that I made yesterday, one of my comfort food favourites. I tend to make this by eye and by tastebud, adjusting it as I go so feel free to be flexible with the recipe. My mood also affects it, sometimes I like it very soup-y with alot of stock, other times I prefer the pasta to be the star of the show. Yesterday was a pasta day! I got the idea for it many years ago when I visited Italy with some friends, one of whom was a local. I got many ideas that holiday, we had some wonderful food, much of it cooked by my friends boyfriends Dad whom we were staying with. It was my first time having homemade pumpkin gnocchi and proper neapolitan mozarella di bufala. It was out of this world. You just don’t get that mozarella anywhere else and I have tried very hard …

Quinoa with soya beans, parsley, sesame seeds & red onion

Quinoa is one of those foodstuffs that is so nutritious that I try to include it in my diet as regularly as possible. I like the nutty texture and as the flavour is quite subtle it mixes with almost everything. You can use it in the place of cous cous for a healthier tabbouleh or as a side dish in place of rice. It’s one of the few non-meat, non-dairy foodstuffs that contains the full complement of essential amino acids. I am not vegetarian but I was for 11 years and still keep to a predominantly vegetarian diet, mainly because I really enjoy vegetarian food and it’s extremely healthy once you take care to mix your proteins. I hadn’t had quinoa for a couple of months so I thought I’d drag it out of the cupboard and make a healthy lunch out of it. I cook quinoa in a similar way to rice, twice the amount of liquid to grain. The only difference in the way I cook it is I like to fry/toast it …

A new take on guacamole

I have been called a food snob in the past (amongst other things!). I am fairly strict with my recipes and like to do things as they should and have always been done, for example, you don’t put chicken tikka on a pizza, you do it the way the Italians have always done it! And I have always had a simliar attitude to guacamole. I like mine with lime juice not lemon juice for example. There’s a recipe I have stuck to for years since I’ve first started making it and anything outside that is an avocado dip – not guacamole. Yesterday, however, we had a breakthrough :-) I was making an asparagus risotto for dinner and in our hunger it seemed to be taking forever. I thought I’d knock up a quick snack. In the fridge I had an avocado, shallots, orange peppers and feta. First of all, I thought I’d roast some peppers and mix them with some feta and maybe green chilli on ciabatta toast. I started this but again, impatience got …

Cloud mushroom with sesame oil, red onion & parsley on ciabatta toast

On my recent trip to Marylebone farmers Market I came across a gourmet mushroom stall. He had some fantastic large brown and white oyster mushrooms, mixed dried mushrooms and fluffy white ones that almost looked like coral or seaweed. I love coming across new things like this and enquired after this one. The new discovery was a cloud mushroom which I was told has a texture similar to crab or lobster and is best eaten raw or lightly cooked. How could I resist?! A few years ago I had bought a big bag of St Georges Mushrooms in a state of excitement only to discover that I didn’t like them atall so I thought I’d play safe and bought one big one to experiment with when I got home. I carried my little treasure home in the palm of my hand like a kitten worried I’d break or damage it. Some investigations on Google weren’t all that beneficial, at least for my culinary purposes. I discovered it is used in Chinese medicine, primarily an extract …

Pumpkin, Banana & Chickpea curry with brown basmati rice

Another chickpea recipe. I don’t think I can take many more for a while so I promise this will be the last one for a bit. This is a lovely summery curry. Very sweet and works well with a glass of dry white wine on a bright evening. It’s based on a recipe that I found on the Post-Punk Kitchen. For those of you that don’t know it the Post-Punk Kitchen is a public access vegan cooking show in the US. I have never seen it but I love their website mainly for their recipes. They also published two great cookbooks – Vegan with a Vengeance & Vegan cupcakes take over the world. Pumpkin, Banana & Chickpea curry Ingredients Sunflower oil 1 small onion, sliced 2 cloves garlic, chopped 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger 1 teaspoon coriander seeds 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 cinnamon stick 500g onion squash (or any other squash/pumpkin), peeled, seeded and cubed 1 tablespoon hot curry paste – I prefer to make my own, but you can …

A Spring take on minestrone

The weekend just past was filled with trips to farmers markets in an attempt to buy some sprue asapragus. Unfortunately, all trips were unsuccessful but I did get some great produce in the shape of onion squash, baby carrots, mixed wild mushrooms, garlic chives, shallots and white & green asparagus. Next week, I’ll get down there earlier and get the sprue before it sells out! I am very happy with my haul though and can’t wait to tuck in and start experimenting with all of these goodies. Having spent the day wandering I wanted something quick, light and tasty last night using some of my farmers market goodies. I decided on a pasta soup using the young carrots and squash as main ingredients. It was delicious and light and is definitely one to reproduce over the summer using seasonal vegetables like broad beans and peas. The recipe is a rough guide, add more or less of ingredients according to your preference, it’s really flexible. Ingredients: 170g macaroni 100g red lentils 750ml vegetable stock 200g Squash …

Hummus-ish and chickpeas on crackers

We have a bit of a glut of chickpeas at the moment as I cooked a big batch of dried ones earlier in the week. My intention was to freeze them in batches for further use but there are so many I have kept half to experiment with. Today, I had planned to make hummus but thought I might try and vary it a bit. The end result really wasn’t all that different from hummus, the only difference being that I substituted sesame seeds for tahini to give it a crunchier texture. It was nice for a change. This was thrown together in a haphazard fashion so the measurements are approximate. Ingredients: 400g chickpeas 50g sesame seeds Juice half lemon 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped Extra Virgin Olive Oil Crackers Method: The method is very simple! Reserve a small amount of the chickpeas and sesame seeds to put on the crackers after. Chuck the rest save the oil in a blender and add the oil slowly until you are happy with the consistency. Season to …

Chickpea, tomato, red lentil & basil soup

I used to be very good at bringing in lunches to work. After all, it usually means just putting leftover dinner into a lunchbox to heat in the microwave the next day. These last few months I have been rubbish though and find I am now feeling unhealthy as a result. So, to make amends and apologise to my poor body I decided to make a healthy tomato and bean soup. Now, I know this blog has been very much tomato based recently but I’ve read that they’ll keep me young, so it’s worth a try, eh?! This is a very simple soup and I usually don’t measure anything out but just adjust as I go to get the right textures and tastes. Ingredients: 2 cloves of garlic olive oil one tin of tomatoes approx 50g red lentils (or more if you like a chunky soup) 500ml vegetable stock one tbsp of sugar chickpeas ~ 400g – I cooked them from dry as I prefer these but you can use tins – one tin if …

Now to start: Spaghetti with homemade tomato & basil sauce and garlic toasts

So, I thought it best to start with something really simple and delicious that I can’t misrepresent on my new blog! This is one of my quick fixes, some food for the heart and soul that’s sometimes required after a long day when you know you have only got a short evening ahead. Ingredients (for two with large appetities): Half a packet of spaghetti (linguine also works really well) Sauce: 1 tin of tomatoes (I use La Fiammante, gorgeous fruity Italian tomatoes) a handful of basil (I used greek basil – I love it’s tiny leaves and potency) a dessert spoon of sugar a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar dried or fresh chilli – as much as you like, I like it hot one white onion 2 cloves of garlic (or one big one) Extra Virgin Olive oil to drizzle on top Garlic Toasts: Baguette or nice ciabatta. I prefer the second but the deli had run out. 1 garlic clove Extra Virgin Olive Oil Method: Chop the onion and garlic finely. Saute the onion until …