Sunday, 30 September 2012

Any excuse...

When you live in London, the shift in seasons can be pretty hard to determine. But when it becomes too cold to sit in a beer garden for longer than a pint, you know autumn's on its way. Here are some photos from the last meals of summer.

A vegan barbeque with herby olive oil potato salad, corn on the cob, roasted sweet peppers and plenty of vegan sausages. One of my favourite revelations of summer is just how easy it is to have a vegan barbeque!

Then a final gin and tonic with bruschetta on grilled ciabatta -I added capers to cut through the gin and tonic. Perfect to wash away the last of summer.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Gaspacho Gazpacho

There are very few occasions in life when I can be bothered to blanch tomatoes. But gazpacho is one of them. Actually I can't think of any others.

After a scorching day full of comic book shops and iced coffees with Naomi, the only thing we could think about making was gazpacho. Nigel Slater, as ever, came to the rescue. We just simplified his recipe for The Guardian, which you can read here. The most important thing for gazpacho is to give it time to cool down! I leave it in the freezer for ten minutes or so, and then add an ice cube if you still think it needs it!

Six tomatoes (Yes, we used ten- I suppose just allow 3 tomatoes per portion)
1 onion, diced
Half a cucumber, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
2 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp caster sugar
Juice 1 lime

Boil the kettle and cut a small cross in each of the tomatoes. Add to a saucepan and heat with the boiling water until you can start to see the skin come off the tomatoes. Run them under cold water and peel off their skins, then chop and place back in the saucepan (off the heat).

Add the oil, onion, cucumber, spring onions and garlic. Using a hand blender or food processor, mix the soup until it's at your preferred consistency. 

Finally add the vinegar, any salt, pepper you think it needs and caster sugar. I also add lime juice to mine here. If you want to eat ASAP, then bung in the freezer for a few minutes and add a few ice cubes as we did- if you've got plenty of time, cover and sit in the fridge until needed.

Back to school crumble

Perfect for back to school, college, uni, or even work after a late summer holiday.  Now that apples are finally in season our Growing Communities vegetable and fruit bags are full of Worcester Pearmain apples from Essex- they're small but they are delicious! Even roasted with carrots and rosemary, they just steal the show.

Pick a crumble filling that's in season and your favourite- mine at the moment is apple and blackberry, although I also found some rhubarb stashed in my freezer from summer which worked so well with this recipe. I think flavours like cinnamon and a little vanilla work really well with blackberries, while rhubarb with apple and ginger. I've left the topping mix plain for this recipe, so add whatever else you fancy.


For the topping:
200g plain flour
200g rolled oats
Glug sunflower/vegetable oil
A few dots of Vitalite or Pure spread

For the filling:
As much seasonal fruit that fills your chosen crumble dish when washed and chopped up.
2 tbsp sugar (you could use golden caster sugar, brown sugar, anything you think will work with the flavour of the fruit).

Preheat the oven to around 160 degrees. Place the fruit in a pan, adding water to about half way up the level of the fruit. Add the sugar- you might not need any if the fruit is really ripe. While this is happening, mix the flour, oats, oil and any spices or flavourings together in a bowl.

Once the fruit has softened down, pour into the crumble dish. Add the topping and then dot little amounts of Vitalite on top- this makes the topping extra chewy and tasty once it's been cooked. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Don't worry if the liquid runs to the surface- this isn't the most elegant of puddings! But if you want it extra brown on top, just switch the grill on and leave the oven door open for the last five minutes or so.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Wahaca, veganised: Black bean soup

Great transitional piece darling. No, but seriously, I started getting cravings for this hearty, moreish-than-thou soup back in August, and now I know it's going to work wonders right through winter. This is a slightly simplified and adapted version of Thomasina Miers' black bean soup. It's quick, tasty and there never seems to be quite enough of it...

Lots of tomatoes- as you can see from the photo above I was lucky enough to get a mix in the vegetable box, but one large punnet should do the trick. Chop into quarters.
2 garlic cloves, chopped
100ml olive oil
1 onion, diced
1-2 tbsp oregano or marjoram
2 bay leaves
2 chillies
salt and pepper
2 tins of cooked black beans
Juice of 1 lime
800 ml vegetable stock

For the salsa:
Handful of tomatoes, chopped
Handful coriander, chopped
1 red/white onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp red wine vinegar/ sherry vinegar
1 tsp soft brown sugar

Heat the onion and herbs in a large pan for around 5-10 minutes, making sure the onion stays soft, before adding the garlic. Cook for another few minutes, then add the tomatoes and chillies and season. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, then add the beans.

Stir the beans in the oil and herbs, then allow to cook for a few more minutes, before adding the stock and lime juice and allow to simmer for another 5-10 minutes so all the flavours can mix. In this time you can make the tomato salsa by mixing together the tomatoes, onions and the rest of the salsa ingredients, seasoning to taste.

Blend the soup to your preferred consistency (I like to still be able to see a few bits of tomatoes and beans in there!), then pour into bowls or mugs, and top off with the fresh salsa.

The best things in life are free...

...and for everything else, there's always beans on toast, tea and Oh Comely...

For Issue 12, I wrote a wee short story about snacks sent in the post. It's a really beautiful issue so do have a flick through if you spot it on your travels!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Beach life

A few shots from holiday north and south of the Scottish border. Above: beach bbq with Linda McCartney sausages and sweetcorn for the resident vegetarian and vegan... (i.e. not all for me!)... Seaside chips at Seahouses...When the rain came down, we had an indoor picnic of green beans cooked in olive oil, flour wraps, herb potato salad, tomato salad with basil, hummus, and beluga lentil, chickpea and spinach salad.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Wahaca, veganised: Courgette, pea, sweetcorn and potato tortillas

I like to hum Galvanize by The Chemical Brothers whenever veganising a recipe. Just something to think about.

The original form of this recipe is Thomasina Miers' broad bean, pea and new potato quesadilla. I've swapped the broad beans for courgettes and added some sweetcorn for a little colour and flavour, after taking away the feta and cheddar. This makes an amazing lunch as just a wrap with some jalapenos, or as a dinner done as quesadillas in a grill pan. 

Makes enough for four

2 large handfuls of potatoes, peeled and chopped in half
Plenty of olive oil
1 onion, chopped small
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 green chili, finely chopped
2 courgettes, chopped down small as shown in photo above
100g frozen peas
100g frozen sweetcorn
Juice of one lime (I know there's lemon above but lime does work better-it's just all I had!)
handful of mint
handful of tarragon or tbsp of dried tarragon

Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are ready to mash. While this is happening, take a large pan and slowly sweat the onion, garlic and chili in plenty of olive oil- making sure none of it burns, for about ten minutes. Bring another pan of water to boil and add the courgettes, sweetcorn and peas.

With the back of a fork, mash the potatoes into the onion mix, adding the lime juice, mint, tarragon, some more olive oil, and seasoning to taste. Keep the pan on a low heat as you add in the courgettes, sweetcorn and peas. Taste the mixture once more and add some extra herbs/juice/ seasoning to your liking- you should be able to taste every flavour.

Serve with homemade corn tortillas, in flour wraps, or in quesadillas. I made this dish (centre in photo) for a Mexican themed dinner I had for my friends, and there wasn't any of this left by the end of the night! 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Summer Lovin'

A summer spent on fire escapes and roof tops that may or may not be yours is still a summer spent outside, and that's all that counts. Before departing for a few weeks in Scotland, I went with Nina to see Charlotte at her amazing flat in Brixton. Each armed with a chopping board and a mixing bowl, we somehow managed to whip up this roof top vegan picnic before 7pm, leaving as much time as possible to devour it before the sun went down!

Charlotte mixed a tin of chickpeas with two teaspoons of mint sauce, a handful of cherry tomatoes, half a red onion and a little fresh mint.  A combination I've never even heard of and absolutely delicious- perfect for cutting through a rich guacamole and oily olives.
 I made a rough and ready guacamole with avocados from Electric Avenue.

 We mixed tomatoes and artichoke for something to top our doorstop bread with.

Charlotte chopped herbs from her windowsill and mixed with olive oil, boiled potatoes and salt and pepper, for a quick, warm potato salad.

All eaten alongside the Brixton skyline.