Thursday, 26 July 2012

Easy peasy biryani

So the sunshine caught me a little off guard with my bowl of spicy biryani on the rooftop... but I'm not complaining.

This vegetable biryani was the first recipe I tried from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg Everyday! cookbook. I didn't have all the ingredients to hand, so instead just used whatever was left from the Growing Communities vegetable bag. It's a little re-jigged, and A LOT amazing. The new potatoes add a creamy taste that counteracts with the chili and curry powder, while I love the texture of the almonds, chickpeas and rice mixed together. It might not be the most traditional recipe, but when it comes to biryani, I think the only rule you need is to always make double. I was so upset when I finished eating this.

Makes enough for four meals

2 cups of rice
2 onions, one diced small, the other left in larger chunks
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 carrots, sliced
2 handfuls of new potatoes, sliced
1 handful of toasted, sliced almonds
1 handful of parsley or coriander
1 tin (drained) of chickpeas
3 tbsp of your favourite curry powder
1 chili, chopped small
1 juice of lemon
2 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and add the onions and garlic, and cook for a few minutes making sure they don't crisp. Boil the kettle with about 300ml of water and add the carrots and onions to the pan, pouring in the boiling water to just about over the vegetables. Put a lid on the pan and allow this to simmer away for about 5 minutes, until everything is coming up to parboiled.

Remove the lid and add in the curry powder and chili. You want the biryani mix to begin reducing now, so add in the chickpeas and stir occasionally, making sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. In another saucepan, prepare the rice, as there's about ten minutes until the sauce is ready.

Once the vegetable curry mix has reduced, add in the almonds, lemon juice and fresh herbs, and any seasoning if you think it needs it. When the rice is ready, drain and stir into the curry mix. This will keep for two days but be sure to reheat the rice properly for leftovers- even if the temperatures outside are soaring!

The London sky. For real.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Vegan Summer Lovin' Spicy Bean Burger

So on my journey to finding the perfect vegan burger I've so far come across falafel, chickpea burgers and red lentil and rice burgers. But no mission would be complete without a pit stop at the SPICY BEAN BURGER aka the best food on the planet.

--- Cue Scooby-Doo time warp frame---

Way back when service stations didn't have Prets and M&S Food in them, all they used to have was a Burger King and a coffee kiosk. As my whole family were vegetarian back then, the only thing we could eat out of the entire menu was the Spicy Bean Burger, and I used to dream about that burger the whole four hour car journey to our stop-off point. See, spicy bean burgers mean fun is on the horizon and that summer has just begun. At least to an eight year old me, that is.

Now I won't be eating chez Burger King anymore, but this burger recipe is based on what I can remember them tasting like. Minus the bad stuff, obvs.

This recipe will make around 10 burgers, cost about £1.50 for the ingredients you use, and fill you up so much second portions become out of the question.

4 tbsp vegetable/sunflower oil
1 carrot grated
1 onion diced small
1 tin (drained) cooked kidney beans
1 tin (drained) chickpeas
2 garlic cloves
1 chili
1 small tin (drained) sweetcorn
1 handful peas (frozen or fresh)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1tsp ground coriander
Around 300g flour

Take a big mixing bowl or wok and add everything to it apart from the flour. Once thoroughly mixed in, give the burger mix a try to see if you want to add any salt or pepper, or maybe some lemon juice or extra chili. Using a hand blender or potato masher, roughly blend the mix so it can be shaped into patties, although I like to keep it so you can see some peas, sweetcorn and kidney beans in the burger.

Add around 200g of the flour, until you are able to make burger shapes in your hand, and then use the remaining 100g of flour to roll the burgers into to keep their shape together (as above).

Then heat 1 tbsp of oil and once this is hot, carefully add two burgers to the pan to fry, turning after around 3 minutes on each side. Make sure the pan doesn't get too hot- you want to cook the mixture the whole way through without burning the tops. Once your first batch is done, repeat with two more burgers, adding more oil when the pan begins to dry out.

While you're waiting for the burgers to fry (and keeping an eye on the pan at all times) you can make a quick cous cous salad like the one below, or slice up gherkins, or toast your burger buns. Whatever tickles your summer lovin' fancy!

The tomato stall haul

Now don't get me wrong, I love tomatoes as much as the next gazpatcho obsessive. But until heading home with a brown paper bag full of tomatoes from the Tomato Stall, I didn't know they could taste quite so good.

Tomatoes are often used as a base, a general flavour-filler, or simply to add colour to a dish. But good tomatoes, like mushrooms, stand up to just a little seasoning all by themselves. After spending a few hours hearing how great tomatoes could be, I wanted to see exactly what the fuss was about. So I grilled some vine and plum tomatoes for breakfast, keeping it simple with just some balsamic vinegar and rosemary.

The vine tomatoes were fleshy and great with toast, but the plum tomatoes were something else. Grilled with the rosemary they went very sweet, and sort of like how I imagine sundried tomatoes should really taste. This is a great example of how stripping back flavours and ingredients can leave you with something totally new to try- no oil, onions, eggs, cheese, or anything else needed- just one amazing key ingredient.

Handful of tomatoes, some chopped in half or left whole
Few sprigs of rosemary
Balsamic vinegar
Salad leaves

Turn the grill up high, and get the kettle on. Place the tomatoes on an oven tray with some rosemary to sit along side, then season with salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. Place in the grill for around 3-5 minutes- I like my tomatoes to just be beginning to cook through but if you like yours a little more cremated, leave longer.

In this time, sort out your toast and tea. Once the tomatoes are grilled, top the toast with washed salad leaves. Then scrape everything that's on the oven tray on- all the bits of rosemary and seasoning, and of course, as many tomatoes as you can fit.

Monday, 23 July 2012


I've had my eye on all three of these cookbooks for a while-their online recipes filling my bookmarks list and  Amazon basket- and they finally arrived last week.

What's in the box:

Thomasina Mier's Wahaca Mexican Food at Home
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall River Cottage Veg Everyday!
Bryant Terry The Inspired Vegan

After I've tried a few recipes and most likely dropped at least two in the bath I will let you know how I get on with each one, but for now, let the summer cooking begin!

Have you read any amazing cookbooks recently? I'd love to hear any suggestions...

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Tomato Stall

On Saturday I went on a mini adventure to St. John's Wood to track down Alice- who helps run the Tomato Stall at Barrow Hill Junior School. For the first time in forever the sun was out and we got to see a load of weird/cool West London sights... such as a cat on a lead, people running to help when a car alarm went off and bus drivers that say hello and don't mind you saying Thanks. It's like a different world over there.

Alice had been manning the stall since the early hours so we got some fresh coffee sorted to aid with the mental arithmetic (I will never again take for granted a grocer toting up the order in their head again). Helping Alice was so much fun, the stall smelt so good with all the fresh tomatoes, and it was great to chat to people about what type of tomato they needed and what they wanted to cook.

It's the last ever market at Barrow Hill next Saturday, as stall holders and people visiting have been dwindling, which is really sad to see when the place is full of amazing produce and people that want to talk all day long about food. I know there's a handful of really well known farmers markets every week in London, but you'd be surprised at how many happen within every few miles too- maybe have an ask around to see if there aren't any tucked away near you- I couldn't think of a better way to spend a Saturday!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Aint nothing going on but the rent brownies

On Monday night I walked in my front door at half six with a packet of plain, dark chocolate drops and a bag of flour. By seven these were in the oven, by half seven their days already numbered.

Although I chose to simplify the original recipe and take away the glazing and walnuts, by all means gild that lily if the mood takes you!

One thing I am really fond of with American baking is the use of cups instead of grams or ounces. If, like me, you are living without kitchen scales, just chose a smaller sized coffee mug that doesn't change shape at the sides. As most baking is all about the ratio between each ingredient, you can easily double or halve the cup measurements to suit.

Makes 16 brownies

1 1/2 cups of plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cup organic brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 pinch of salt
3/4 cup fresh brewed coffee
3/4 cup soy milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain dark chocolate chips (about one small packet's worth)/ broken chunks of plain dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 160 °C, and grease and line one or two baking trays. These will cook and rise better if they are poured out thinner, so if in doubt, favour two trays over one.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Then in a separate bowl, pour and mix in the coffee, soy milk and oil. Add the liquid to the dry mix, stirring in the chocolate drops. 

Pour the brownie mix into your trays. It will be quite runny at this point, but they do stodge up.

Leave in the oven for at least 25 minutes, checking back after that point to see if a tooth pick will come clean when inserted in the middle of the brownies. Once cooked, leave to stand for five minutes if you can bare it, before digging in.

These will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for five days- and they only get better!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Ratatouille and doorstep bread

Monday nights are great for this reason: at no point in the week will you ever be further away from a Monday morning. So grab some friends and make some dinner. This recipe is inspired by @Vegan's tweet on Sunday evening, suggesting that vegetarians try going vegan for #meatlessmonday. A simple, hearty ratatouille is a great place to start, chock full of flavour and low maintenance enough for a week night.

All the vegetables pictured above came from my Growing Communities vegetable bag this week, so they are all in season and taste amazing. Aubergine, courgette and chopped tomatoes are usually a good place to start, and after that, just stick in whatever takes your fancy (in my case, broad beans).

Serves 4, or two people for dinner and lunch the next day

1 courgette, chopped into 1-2 cm thick chunks
2 aubergine, chopped into 1-2 cm think chunks
3 carrots, roughly chopped
2 large handfuls of small potatoes- I like to leave them whole after peeling
1 onion or 2 large spring onions, diced
Anything extra that takes your fancy, such as broad beans, peas, a red pepper, red onion. 
2 cartons of chopped tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
400ml vegan vegetable stock
2 sprigs of rosemary
150ml vegetable/sunflower oil

Heating 100ml of oil in a large saucepan and add the chopped onions and garlic. Allow these to heat through, before adding the potatoes and carrots. Cover in the oil and onions and garlic. Boil the kettle to make your vegetable stock. Add the rest of your chosen vegetables, pour in the stock and add the rosemary. Stir so it's all combined- the water doesn't need to cover the vegetables but just help cook them a little and take on some flavour from the stock. Season and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.

Once the water has reduced, add the tomatoes and turn up the heat a little so it simmers on high. Carry on seasoning and tasting as the ratatouille begins to reduce and the vegetables cook the whole way through. I chose to take the rosemary out about 10 minutes before the end of cooking so as not to overpower the other flavours- so be sure to season, add extra oil, or leave the rosemary in all to your own taste. Once the potatoes are cooked the whole way through, you're ready to serve. 

Just add thickly sliced brown bread and your #meatlessmonday is made!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Sunday lunch

A few weekends ago I was lucky enough to find myself in a walled garden with family and a whole lot of vegan food. Here are just some of the courses my Aunty made throughout the day. You can see these and lots more Guac and Roll at my new Pinterest- just click here.

Slow-fried aubergine and savoy cabbage on ciabatta rubbed with garlic.


The best kind of Sunday Roast- new potatoes with sweet red pepper and cherry tomatoes- delish.

Summer berries with a good drizzle of liquor (funnily enough, I forget which...)

Vegan hangover: The fry-up

While friends may ooh and ahh at how healthy your meals look six days of the week- sometimes a Sunday morning just needs a frying pan and a few McCain Smiles, which happen to be vegan. I make this breakfast for all friends and stragglers left in my flat come midday on Sunday. It's a great way to cook vegan, to show people how easy it is to make a few changes and have an entire vegan meal that is still hangover-quenching and pretty damn greedy. This is most certainly one for the skeptics ("Look it's not even that health-giving okay?"). Fire up the toaster.

Makes enough for four hungry people

Slices of thick brown bread
1 tin of beans
4 tomatoes cut in half
400g mushrooms, cut into chucky pieces
6 Linda McCartney sausages
1 bag of McCain Smiles
Vitalite/ Pure Soya spread if needed
Orange Juice

Everyone's kitchens are different and everyone makes fry-ups differently so instead I will just say: Smiles take the longest, so get them in the oven first, then after five minutes add the sausages. When frying the mushrooms, do in batches, with plenty of space in the pan. This will make them fry and not go soggy if they are on top of each other. Add basil and lots of black pepper for flavour. Douse all in a lot of tea, and let the Saturday night debrief begin!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Nice and easy does it

Saturday afternoon with fruit salad, tea, and a major catch-up on my fave vegan food blogs. Figs, apples and mangoes. Thank you Kirsty for leaving all the amazing fruit behind!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Chana Masala

I'll be frank- I was making this at half eleven at night, which is why it is in my lunchbox the next morning and not on a plate. This chana masala is slightly re-jigged from the citrus-y affair you get from a take-away, this is a little warmer, moreish, and with about half the ingredients. I'm in an honest mood it seems!

The addition of spring onions takes way that strong onion taste, and instead is mellow and sweet with a tender texture like it's been simmering away for hours- when really this only takes 20 minutes.

This is the best dinner when the sky falls in and you just want to eat a huggggeee curry. Everyone feels like that at least once a week yes?

Serves 4....or 3.... or 2....


2x tin of chickpeas
2x garlic cloves, sliced small
2x large spring onions (these have a larger bulb, similar size to a shallot), sliced into circles
1 carton of chopped tomatoes
1 chili, chopped
3 tablespoons of vegetable curry powder
2 tablespoons sunflower/vegetable oil
Handful of parsley chopped loose or fine, however you like

Heat the oil and add your chopped garlic and spring onions. Keep the heat low, and let them cook without burning for about five minutes. Add the chickpeas and chili and allow everything to fry in the oil for about two minutes, before adding the carton of tomatoes.

Allow this to cook away with a lid for about five minutes, then add the curry sauce and reduce for another five minutes. Add the chopped parsley and you're done.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Lemon and sesame seed falafel

When life gives you lemons... make falafel.

I had a not-so-great experience in Marks & Spencer the other week, whereby I tried to buy a huge stack of falafel for a garden lunch, only to find that they had decided to include egg and milk in their falafel recipe. There is no need for either of those ingredients in a traditional falafel. Here's the thing: protein makes things stick together. It's why people add egg to cake. Chickpeas are a great source of protein. They will also make things stick together. Which is why falafel is great, as it is a vegan food by default- my favourite kind. It's something you don't need to mess around with or alter- it should just be vegan.

HENNYWAY. They'll see sense eventually, I'm sure. In the mean time, here's a beautiful falafel recipe to sink your teeth into. I've seen recipes that don't use the flour, and if you wanted to keep this gluten free then by all means leave it out- but I prefer to roll mine flour first to make the outer edges a little crispier when fried.

Makes around 16 falafels

3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, chopped small
1 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
1 tsp cumin
1 large handful of fresh parsley chopped down small
Juice of 1 lemon
20g plain flour
4 tbsp of sesame seeds

Heat a frying pan with 1tbsp sunflower oil, and over a very low heat, spend 5 minutes frying the onion and garlic. You want them to remain soft and not at all crispy.
In a mixing bowl, use a hand blender or potato masher to mix the chickpeas, parsley, cumin, lemon juice and 2 tbsp of sesame seeds together, adding in the onion and garlic. The fresh parsley should give it a great green colour.

In a small bowl, add half the plain flour and half the sesame seeds. Mix these in, then taking a tablespoon size of chickpea mixture, roll in the flour and sesame seed mix and shape into a patty or ball. Once you've made four of these, heat 1 tbsp of oil and fry each side for around 3 minutes. Go slow- they are much better with less oil and less heat, than if you attempt to deep fry- as they will go soggy. After you've used up the first half of the flour and sesame seed mixture, add the second, and the same with the oil, until you have a plate full of amazing, vegan, falafel.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Smashed sweet potato with basil and truffle oil

Anyone else in the UK still making curries, stews and pies despite it being July? Not a good look. 

Determined to add a bit of sunshine to SOMETHING, I've been making a few vegan dinners that look like summer, taste like winter. This smashed sweet potato is perfect to add with a vegan roast or pie, and will happily chill in the fridge for another day. 

The truffle flavouring actually comes from extra virgin olive oil flavoured with white truffle (so just extract). This means you can use a generous amount and not get an overpowering taste. Instead, this dish is just rich and full of vitamin C,vitamin B6, and a lot more health-giving than a common potato. 

Perfect with pie!

(Enough for two people)
2 large sweet potatoes, chopped into chunky cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil flavoured with white truffle
Loose handful of basil, chopped as fine as you want

If you're making a pie with this, get the pie in the oven first, and this can be done in the baking time.

Boil the sweet potatoes in salt water for about 15-20 minutes. Once they're over-done and squash with a little pressure from a fork, drain the water away and add the chopped basil and olive oil. Then put the lid on the saucepan and shake the pan for a few seconds. Shake until you have them smashed as much as you like. Your pie should be ready by now, so plate up! 

Saturday is brunch day

Things have been a little hectic at Guac & Roll HQ this past week, the winds of change and a hell of a lot of rain have left my meal times bereft of little else but museli and hummus. Not together yet, thankfully. 
But however silly busy things get in the week- somehow there always seems to be time for breakfast on Saturday. The type where you can actually sit and look at your food, as opposed to the mid-week zombie-glazed cereal bowl-cradling and black coffee.

Anyway- excuses or no, here's an unashamedly easy vegan brunch that won't go cold, soggy or stale, perfect between calling your fam or tracking down wayward best friends!

Focaccia bread
Two tomatoes
Salad leaves (a peppery kind such as rocket would work really well against the bread and tomatoes)
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

Put the kettle on. Toast slices of focaccia in the oven, chop tomatoes, mix with basil and salad leaves. Make your tea. Mix the dressing, drissle over, and SIDDOWN and ENJOY!