Dinosaur Kale Mac and Cheese

Because dinosaurs are cool.

Chili and Lime Black Bean Burger

The perfect vegan burger!

Beer Battered Halloumi

Nom, nom, nom.

Ginger and Chili Tofu

Crispy delicious tofu that's easy to make... say what?

Chocolate Cake Balls

Cakes, but not as you know them.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Cider and Seasonal Vegetable Stew

I have been really lucky this year. I've been on a lot of adventures and adventures are my favourite thing ever. I don't really drink, I don't go and spend a ridiculous amount of money on nights out, I save my money for as many little adventures as I can! This year I went to Dorset with mummy Hef, Cornwall with Daddy Hef, on a few adventures with Mr Hef, Gwendoline with vegan Emma and my last adventure (probably) of this year to a yurt in a cider orchard with ginger Georgie. I've definitely mentioned Georgie on my blog before, but just to remind you, she is awesome and also loves a good adventure. So on the way back from Bath, Mr Hef and I picked Georgie up from Oxford and she treated us to an Atomic Burger (seriously, awesome) and we went back to my house to begin our adventure! After packing the essentials (and by essentials I mean long johns and a couple of pairs of pants) we set off to Gloucestershire. The yurt was incredibly beautiful with a big king sized bed (perfect for our romantic weekend) and a cute little wood burner to keep us warm. It also had a kotlich in the garden, so I came prepared with root vegetables and a dumpling kit!


750 kg seasonal veg (such as potatoes, parsnip, suede)
2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic crushed
About half a bottle of cider
1 litre of vegetable stock

1. Chuck all of the ingredients in to the kotlich and start your fire, or if you're cooking it at home pop in in to the slow cooker, or pop it in to a pan over a low heat. Cook for ages, adding water when needed. 
2. When the stew is nearly done (when you have soft vegetables), add some dumplings if you wish (I brought ready made dumpling mixture and added a bit of grated cheese) and turn the heat up/stick some more wood on the fire. 
3. Wait for around 15 minutes, until the dumplings are all fluffed up and cooked, then eat! 


video





Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Demuths Vegetarian Cookery School

As I mentioned in my last post, I luckily won the chance to go to Demuths vegetarian cookery school. I have always wanted to go, so I was super, super excited for the course. I chose to go on the Autumn fast and delicious course, because I really enjoy cooking with seasonal vegetables and I spend SO much time cooking! Seriously, I spent the whole of today and yesterday cooking, so it was great to be taught some quick meals to make after work! We started the day with knife skills, which I found really useful. We have the worst knives ever in our house, so I'm looking forward to buying some proper ones and putting my newly learned skills in to action when I move in to my new house. We then made a delicious Brazilian bean stew with quinoa for lunch, spinach balls and wild mushroom pie and were shown how to make loads more yummy seasonal dishes, including an apple cake with caramel sauce.

I really felt like I took a lot away from it. One of the main things was not to cook with olive oil, which I literally do for every single meal. I've made the switch to vegetable oil and can confirm it is much better! I would thoroughly recommend going, I'm already working out how I can get there again! Check out some pictures of the yummy food we made.











Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Acorn @ Demuths

In May this year I won a competition with Demuths and Meat Free Monday for a meal for 2 in Demuths restaurant and a day at the vegetarian cookery school. I was absolutely over the moon as I'd been to Demuths before and loved it and have always, always wanted to go to the cookery school! So Mr Hef and I booked a super cute B&B just outside of Bath (It was called Fern Cottage and run by the nicest couple I have ever met in my life!) and enjoyed a weekend of relaxation and amazing food! Since I won the competition the restaurant has been taken over by it's head chef Richard Buckley and is now called Acorns, but the amazing food and wonderful atmosphere is exactly the same as I remember it and if I didn't live over 100 miles away I would visit this restaurant as much as physically possible! 


Going to a vegetarian meal with Mr Hef is always a joy because he doesn't know which vegetable is which (really!) which keeps me laughing for the whole meal! He also never really knows what to pick, so I usually get to choose for him and (selfishly) pick things that I want so that I can eat them too. So for his starter he had carrot and cashew pate with spelt toast, seasonal leaves and herbs, ginger gastrique and tamari cashews.


I had truffled broccoli with cauliflower pannacotta, pickled Kohl Rabi and a thyme dressing. I definitely preferred my starter, but both of them were absolutely delicious! The cauliflower pannacotta was particularly yummy, with a caramelised top and a soft creamy base it went perfectly with the truffled broccoli.


For the main meal I went for the stuffed courgette flower with smoked Dorset red and ricotta, cannellini beans and chard, in a romesco sauce. I've always wanted to try a stuffed courgette flower, and it definitely didn't disappoint. It was full of flavour, and the courgette flower was litterally oozing with smoked Dorset red and ricotta goodness. So much so that Mr Hef got a bit jealous and wished he'd ordered it.


I also really liked the look of his white onion tatin with heritage carrots, runner beans and greens, rosary goat's cheese mousse and curried emulsion, so we swapped halfway through (which makes me seriously happy, I never get to do that in restaurants!) The tatin was also extremely yummy, half an onion in a delicious pastry case, what's not to like!

By this point I was feeling pretty full, but not too full to miss desert. There's always room for desert, especially if it's chocolate ganache with salted caramel, candied pistachios, raspberries and what can only be described as a chunk of chocolate on the side. I pretty much want to eat anything that has salted carmel involved, so this was the obvious choice. It was as rich and delicious as it looks, the perfect end to the incredible meal and enough to make me need a little lie down afterwards.


Mr Hef went for the vanilla pannacotta with plum gazpacho, seared plums and shortbread, which was equally delicious. Mr Hef particularly liked the short bread on the side, I can also confirm that it was amazing.


The restaurant it's self is so cute and comfortable, it literally looks like someone's front room. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend giving it a try! 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Vegan Apple and Blackberry Crumble Muffins

Last week wasn't the best week in Hef history. I lost my domain name to a horrible man who is trying to sell it back to me for a ridiculous price (which is why it's back to its old blogspot name). My car broke down after I told a story about my old car, and how it never broke down and it was only finally defeated by a tree in the road (even then it kept on going, it was just time for me to get a new car). After the car breakage I got home at 3.30am and tried to console myself with a pug cuddle, only to be wee'd on (but I can't really be too upset about that because I still got to cuddle a pug). Then after talking about how I'd never had any problems with my wisdom teeth, I got a wisdom tooth infection, which is pretty much the most painful thing ever (probably). So I was feeling a bit miserable and the only thing that could cheer me up is some good old baking. So that's exactly what I did. It's the time of year where apples and blackberries are literally falling off of the trees. And after picking some blackberries with my mum, I popped to my local community orchard and got some beautiful apples as well. I combined them with vegan muffin mixture and topped with crumble and ended up with these. Pretty, autumnal, fruity muffins.  


What you need for 12 muffins:

For the crumble:

15g vegan margarine
25g plain white flour
20g light brown sugar 

For the muffin

250g apples
100g blackberries
225g plain white flour
200g Billingtons golden caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
100ml soya milk
100ml vegetable oil
1 large ripe banana squished

  1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 200 degrees and lining your muffin tins (I used lakelands parchment lined foil, it's amazing)
  2. Then make the crumble topping by sticking all of the ingredients in a bowl and rubbing the butter and flour together to make a light crumb mixture. Pop to one side until needed. 
  3. Then peel, core and chop your apples in to little chunks, mix with the black berries in a bowl and pop to one side. 
  4. Put all of the other ingredients in to a separate bowl and mix until well combined, then fold the fruit in. 
  5. Spoon the mixture in to the cases, filling it all the way to the top. Then sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top. 
  6. Pop in to the oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. 
  7. Leave to cool (if you can wait) then enjoy! 




Monday, 23 September 2013

France

Did I ever write about my holiday last year? If I did, I can't find it. Well it started terribly. I moaned and moaned at Mr Hef until he finally said yes to going to France and pretty much booked a little gite to stay in at random, just because I had a good feeling about it. It was the first time Mr Hef had ever driven on the other side of the road and after about an hour, he accidently slipped on to the wrong side of the road and nearly crashed in to a car. Now that is bad enough as it is, but then the lady we nearly crashed in to proceeded to turn her car around and chase us. We were absolutely terrified and decided that the best course of action was to try and loose her by driving down tiny streets. Of course, this crazy French lady was not even a tiny bit put off by that and after about 10 minutes she overtook us, slammed on her breaks and started screaming at us. So after that little drama, we got back on the road and were nearly there, but I couldn't get through to the guy who was supposed to give us the keys. We thought we might not even have a place to stay and started to panic. After sort of finding the place, but still not getting through we went to the shops and started to think of a back up plan. Then, luckily we finally got through (we had the wrong number) and proceeded back to the gite. Only we managed to get totally lost. Luckily the man who was giving us the keys came and found us and we finally got there. And when we did, we seriously could not believe our eyes. It was absolutely beautiful, comfortable and we had a whole pool all to ourselves, the holiday was quite simply perfect. So perfect we booked to go back again this year.  This year was just as amazing as the last and with all of my adventures, it contained some lovely food as well. 


I really enjoy self catering, because I love cooking and when you're on holiday you can take as much time as possible. We ate in most days, but on the days we did go out we went all out. On the third day of our holiday we went to Aubeterre, which is dubbed the prettiest village in France. As as soon as you walk the paths there you can see why. We went to a restaurant called Creperie de la Source and had galettes, which are sort of a crepe meets a pizza. I had one filled with 4 types of cheeses and tomato, it was so delcious and the view from our table on the balcony (pictuted below) was incredible.


We also ate in a beautiful town called Brantome, it's surrounded a large river which you can canoe around (Mr Hef made me last year, we got stuck on a weir, we decided to give it a miss this year).


Once again the views from the resturant are incredible, I can't remember what it's called, but it's right on the river so you can relax and soak up the sights. Both times we've been away, Mr Hef has eaten a lot of vegetarian food (or so he thinks, he sometimes forgets that ham in sandwiches, or peperoni on pizza counts as meat) and then he seems to get an overbearing craving for steak. So he had a steak and chips and I had a warm goats cheese on toast salad.


We were both super-satisfied with our meals and went to a patisserie in the town to buy some tarts. But after a whole week of blue skies and 30 degree heat, the skies opened and I was left running to the car, protecting my box of tarts like it was my only child. Luckily they remained (mostly) intact and tasted amazing.


Since the gite has been refurbished and now has a beautiful new BBQ, we decided to take advantage and cook up a storm one night. I made some yummy garlic butter corn on the cobs, baked sweet potatoes and potato salad for mine and Mr Hef had burgers. This is what self catering is made for!


As we ate in most nights we let ourselves have one really fancy meal out at a restaurant called Le Citronnier. We ate there last year as well and even though we arrived really late, they were really accommodating and had a separate vegetarian menu. To start with I had a whole baked camembert, because when you're in France that is totally acceptable.


There was only one option for the main, which the manager apologised for profusely, but I didn't mind at all because to be honest, that's more option than in some restaurants in France! The main option was a kind of mushroom omlette made with local mushrooms that had some fancy names. If you have read this blog before you will know that I HATE mushrooms, but this was actually really nice. Beautifully presented and it wasn't really affected by my hatred of those brown slimey things.


Next there was cheese, there's not much to say about cheese, but it looked pretty so I added the picture in anyway.


Then there was pudding, delicious, decadent profiterole pudding. It was stunning. We also had some fancy local wine, I don't normally drink, so the one glass I had lead to me falling in the pool when we got home.


The holiday was incredible, I didn't want to go home and I definitely want to go back. If you fancy going you can find the gite here


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Vegan Tales from Gwendoline, Part 4

The last full day of our adventure was a great one. One of the things that attracted us to the cabin was that it had a tin bath, which you could fill with water heated by your very own campfire and enjoy a bath by the stream. Pretty idyllic right? Well I woke up at 7am that day and went to collect some sticks, harvested 60 litres of water from the tap which was connected to a spring up in the mountains, (lovely) filled up the kelly kettle (crazy massive green kettle, used to heat loads of water) and started a fire. That doesn't sound that difficult, but believe me, if there's anything to make you appreciate hot water, it was that. I had to carry the water 10 litres at a time from the tap to the kettle, keep the fire going for around 2 hours (which required a lot of sitting in awkward positions and blowing on the flames until I felt dizzy). But it was totally worth it, the bath by the stream was just amazing! I took all of my Lush goodies and just relaxed. It was also a great day because vegan Emma cooked for me all day long. She made me some kind of delightful vegan yoghurt, granola, yummy fruit thing for breakfast. After the bath, I was pretty tired, so I went back to bed and Emma made me Facon and avocado on toast (we always use Redwoods cheatin rashers, they're the best)


After lunch it was time for a stick collecting ramble for some more firewood. The surroundings literally looked like an enchanted forest. 


Then it was back to the cabin and it was vegan Emma's turn to make dinner. She went for one pot cooking too and made an incredible lentil dhal, which she made by chopping up tomatoes, chili, garlic, onion and carrot and cooking them slowly with red lentils, yellow split peas and water, adding more water when needed.


We sat around the campfire and enjoyed our last meal in the cabin. There really is nothing better than toasting yourself by a fire with the sounds of the stream behind you (until it gets dark and then it's really scary).


It really is the perfect getaway. We had no phones, no internet, no nothing. Just ourselves, the outdoors and around 100 magazines. I can't recommend it enough, it's our second time booking with Canopy and Stars and I love it so much, I've already booked my third for in a months time! If you want to book Gwendoline you can find her here. I'll leave you with a picture of the bath... seriously, does it get better that that!


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Vegan Tales from Gwendoline, Part 3

This part is my favourite part, because 1. I love to cook, 2. I love to be outdoors and 3. I love starting fires (in a non weird way). This meal combined all 3 and the best part is, I got to cook it in my pajamas because I was on holiday. As it was a clear evening and I wanted to use the hungarian cooking pot thingy, I decided to cook this night. It was a super simple dish, to make it just chuck 1 chopped sweet potato, one can of black beans, one chopped onion, some garlic and some chili power in to your pot and cook very slowly for around 2 hours.


Of course, if you're not cooking outside, it would be a lot easier. As you can probably see from the absolute dismay on my face in the next photo, starting a fire is hard.


Once we finally did have it going, we hung the pot over the flames and hoped for the best. Luckily it started to bubble and was finally on its way to cooking. It smelled absolutely amazing mixed with with the smell of the fire and sitting around a campfire watching your dinner cook for 2 hours is a sure fire way of making you really, really hungry.


we served it up with some fresh guacamole (we needed to use up some of the 16 avocados) wild rice, tortilla chips and salad. It's a pretty simple dish, but putting this much love and effort in to a meal really does make it taste 1000 times better.


Saturday, 24 August 2013

Vegan Tales from Gwendoline, Part 2

I've decided to split this day in to 2 posts, because I ate way too much for it to all fit in to one, but holidays are for eating yourself stupid after all. So... After a lovely long nights sleep we woke up and started a fire. On the instructions we were given for the cabin  it said that you could toast bread on the stove. 


Any excuse to start a fire and I'm there! I made some spelt bread at home using this recipe and it turned out okay, but after a few days you could have probably mistaken it for house building materials, so it was best toasted. In hindsight, I may have cut it a bit thick, but it made a good veggie bacon sandwich anyway, even if it did take me over an hour to toast it.


Then it was time to get showered. This is not so simple in the cabin, you're supposed to heat water in a giant kelly kettle, which I discovered the next day takes an actual age. So Emma and I, being the lazy people we are decided to heat a few kettles on the stove and transfer it to the shower. I say shower... it was actually a watering can hoisted in a tree. I was super excited about the shower, so I stood in the stream, Emma helped me hoist the watering can up, tipped it over my head and I had just about enough time to cover my body in shower gel when it ran out. My only option was a dip in the freezing cold stream... the best way to wake yourself up. We then decided to explore our surroundings and went for a ramble up the mountains, we ran around in fields, climbed trees, collected stick for fire and generally rambled around. Upon our return we had left over BBQ for lunch, with avocado on toast (Emma adds Tabasco, she is a genius) and come crisps and hummus. It was perfect for refuelling, and filling us up for a much needed nap.



I don't know if you get this after you nap, but I wake up either really grumpy or really hungry, or both. This day I woke up starving, luckily Emma and I stocked up on fruit from the market and I had my Abel and Cole veg box, so I had a large plate of fruit with some home-made vegan banana bread (recipe here) and was happy again.


After this it was time to prepare dinner, which, as mentioned was so epically long that it requires it's own post. 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Vegan Tales from Gwendoline, Part 1


You may or may not remember that last year I went on a magical glamping adventure with vegan Emma to a wagon we dubbed 'The Creepy Death Cabin' if you don't remember you can read about it here, here and here. If you do, well then you'll remember that we had the best time ever and cooked loads and loads of yummy vegan food. This year we went to one we dubbed 'Gwendoline' (her actual name is Gwenol) in Wales and cooked even more yummy vegan food whilst also having another amazing adventure. This one was a bit more secluded so we had to plan our food wisely, we took an abundance of fresh fruit and veg and 16 avocados, which we got for £1 (yep really, and we ate every single one as well).


On the first night we wanted something relatively easy and saw that there was a BBQ at the cabin. I don't know if other people do this, or if Emma and I are a bit weird, but we sometimes like to pretend to be husband and wife. So I took on the role of the husband and started the fire (I really enjoy starting fires) while Emma whipped up some vegetable skewers and corn of the cob rubbed with chili and garlic.


I can't claim that I was the best at BBQing as the vegetables were still slighty (really) crunchy, but it was still a lovely meal, served up with some giant cous cous and a yummy salad.


After the BBQ it was pretty much pitch black and time to go to bed. We settled in to the most wondefully warm and cosy bed in our little cabin, blew out our tea lights and had a wonderful sleep, with only the sound of the stream in our heads.


Monday, 12 August 2013

Cafe Boscanova, Bournemouth

I haven't posted in a really long time, but there is good reason for this. I've been off adventuring all across the land (England that is) The weekend before last I was in Bournemouth, then the weekend after that I was in Devon and I've just returned from the latest weekend in Wales. So I have a bit of catching up to do. So anyway, we're starting with Bournemouth. Bournemouth holds a special place in Mr Hefs and my heart, because way back, over 7 years ago we went there, before we were really a couple and had a little cuddle on the beach and a little kiss in the sea. Little did I know that 7 years later we would still be wanting to take trips to the beach together. A few weekends ago I begged him to take me back and camp in the new forest and go to Cafe Boscanova for breakfast. And as he is a super nice boyfriend, he agreed to all 3. 


So after work on Saturday, we hopped in the car, drove down to the campsite, set up camp, went to visit my friend Georgie, (this made me very happy) then got back to our tent, had a midnight snack and settled in to our blow up bed ready for the next day. After a good nights sleep we drove to Boscombe beach and parked there. It was at that point that I realised that the cafe was a 20 minute walk away, and we had already paid to park on the beach. So begrudgingly Mr Hef walked the 20 minute walk with me for breakfast. Cafe Boscanova is a super cute, kitsch cafe that serves what can only be described as incredible monster breakfasts. I had the Corn Stacks, organic polenta and sweetcorn pancakes
served on fresh greens, with cooked tomato and a poached egg, topped with chipotle mayo and chilli jam and also had a bit of extra halloumi on the side, because, why not! It was literally one of the best breakfasts I've ever had, I never wanted it to end. The flavours were amazing and it pretty much had all of the components I could ever need in a breakfast, so I was pretty happy. Mr Hef had the East End breakfast and said 'just those 2 bites were worth that stupid walk', so I guess he was pretty happy too! There are quite a few veggie and vegan options on the menu, so the next time I'm in Bournemouth (which I hope is really soon) I'll be trying something else on the menu!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Smoky Butter Bean Burger with 'Pulled Pork' and Beer Braised Onions

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a BBQ last weekend and this is the beast of a burger I had. With a home made butter bean and smoked cheese burger, vegan pulled pork made from jack fruit and beer braised onions. It's not pretty, but it tasted blooming good and like they say, it's what's on the inside (of the buns) that counts. I've made vegan pulled pork before (the recipe is here) and this time I put a lot more love and a lot less ingredients in it and it was even better the second time around. If you want something that's a bit more (wo)man vs food rather than a tiny fake meat burger, this is for you. 


Makes 2 burgers

For the pulled pork:

1 can of jackfruit (I buy mine from a local asian shop)
1 bottle of vegetarian BBQ marinade
Yep that's really it

For the butter bean burgers:

1 large can of butter beans
1/2 a small white onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
25g smoked vegetarian cheddar, grated
1/2 a slice of bread turned in to breadcrumbs
A bun to serve it in

For the beer braised onions:

A large knob of butter
1 small white onion sliced
300ml vegetarian beer
  1. Start by preparing your jackfruit, chop off all of the hard bits and the seedy bits and discard, then pop the stringy bits in to an ovenproof dish, coat in the BBQ sauce and pop in to fridge overnight to marinade.  
  2. When you get up in the morning, pop your jackfruit either in to a slow cooker, or in to an actual cooker (covered in foil) for around 6 hours.
  3. At around the 5 hour mark you can start making your burgers, basically just put all of the ingredients in to a bowl and mash with a fork until well combined. 
  4. Use your hands to shape in to a burger shape, then put on to a lightly greased baking tray and pop them in to the oven for 20-30 minutes. 
  5. While the burgers are cooking, make the onions by melting the butter in a frying pan, stick the onions in and fry them on a low heat until softened. 
  6. Then cover the onions in beer and leave to simmer for around 20 minutes, until all of the beer has been absorbed. 
  7. All of your burger components should be ready, so assemble any way you wish and enjoy! 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Quinoa Stuffed Courgette

This recipe came about because I was feeling way too lazy to go to the shops after work, so it's pretty much made out of ingredients I happened to have in a fridge and cupboard at the time. My fridge is usually full of random odds and ends of vegetables and my cupboard is literally brimming with about 20 different types of rice, pastas and grains. So I stuck the odds and ends together, mixed them with some quinoa and stuffed it in to a courgette I had left over from my veg box, which actually made a really lovely hearty dinner. Perfect for a hot summer (lazy) day. 


Serves 2:

25g quinoa
500ml water
1/2 tsp vegetable bullion
2 medium courgettes
A glug of olive oil
1 small white onion chopped
1 clove of garlic minced
1/2 a green pepper chopped in to little bits
1/2 a tomato chopped in to little bits
25g grated vegetarian cheddar (I used smoked cheddar because I had some left over from my bean burgers)

  1. Boil the water in a sauce pan and add the bullion and the quiona and boil for 20 minutes. 
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, slice the courgettes in half lengthways, scoop out the soft insides and pop on to a baking tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle a bit of salt over them and pop them in to a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes. 
  3. Stick the onion and garlic in to a frying pan with a little oil and cook on a low heat until softened, then add the pepper and tomato and fry for around 10 minutes. 
  4. Remove the courgettes from the oven and pop to one side. 
  5. Drain the quinoa and add it to the vegetables and mix up well. 
  6. Spoon the mixture in to the courgettes, then top with the grated cheddar and pop in to the oven for 20 minutes. 
  7. When they're lovely and golden brown and bubbling on top, remove from the oven, serve them up with some season veg on the side and enjoy! 

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