Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Baked beetroot with pistachios and green lentil salad

As much happiness as a jar of pickled beetroot can bring (I've been known to bring my own beetroot to barbeques so I don't have to share), their flavour alone, just baked in the oven with a bit of seasoning, can be just as moreish. I added a green lentil salad and spiced potatoes to make a huge mid-week dinner, easily enough for two lunches the next day, by which time the pistachios have taken on a bit of the beetroot dye and the lentils have soaked up even more of the garlic and onion flavours.

300g beetroot, peeled and chopped into discs
200g green lentils
1 onion, chopped
3 galic cloves, chopped
1 leek, chopped
Salad leaves
Olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees celsius, and lightly oil and season a baking tray. Place the beetroot on the tray and bake for around 30-40 minutes. You will need to turn half way through to make sure one side doesn't dry out.

Follow packet instructions to prepare the green lentils- you will probably need to boil them for around 10 minutes.

While this is happening, heat a little oil in a pan, and add the onion and garlic and let sautee for around 5 minutes so it all reduces. Once the lentils are ready, add these to the pan, along with plenty of seasoning as the lentils will often be quite bitter. You might want to add a little water or oil to stop the lentils from sticking as they heat through. When the lentils have reduced down, add in the chopped leek and cook slowly until the beetroot is ready.

Plate up with the salad leaves and pistachios, which will add a great texture to the soft lentils and leeks. I served with some lightly roasted curried potatoes, or this would be great with rice or cous cous.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Vegan Burns Night supper with haggis, clapshot and kale

On Sunday I made a belated Burns Night supper using this vegan haggis recipe, along with clapshot (very fun to say), curly kale, roast carrots, parsnips and onions, roasted cabbage, homemade cranberry sauce and red onion and balsamic gravy.

Clapshot, which originates from Orkney, is traditionally made with mashed turnips (swede), potatoes, butter, chives and seasoning. I chose thyme to mash with mine, and exchanged the butter for sunflower oil and plenty of mashing. You could also use a vegan margarine replacement if you're looking for a really creamy taste.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Burnt sugar and blood orange churro bites

Last night a churro changed my life. Well, not just one, a whole plate full. Inspired by Nigel Slater's Churros with apples recipe, I whipped up a plate of moreish churro bites with some brown sugar and blood oranges. What caught my eye from Nigel's recipe is that the ingredients list was already vegan- a pretty rare find once you've strayed further than a fruit salad.

I've used every part of the blood oranges- the peel, flesh and juice- which breaks through the stodgy texture of the churros, and is perfect with the brown sugar, which I found burnt into little clusters once sprinkled over the hot churros.

Although this pudding would be PERFECTION for having friends round (everyone can eat as much as they like and still struggle to make a dent on the churro mound), I would make this a few times before to practice; the churro mix is quick to make, but the bubbling pan of oil to deep fry them in will require all your attention.

Makes a lot for 4 people
350ml water
1 orange's rind peeled
5 tbsp sunflower oil for mix, more for frying
1/2 tsp salt
200g plain flour
2-3 tbsp brown sugar
2 blood oranges for serving and juicing

In a saucepan, pour in the water, orange rind and 5 tbsp oil. Bring to the boil and then allow to infuse for 20 minutes.

Remove the rind, and add to a bowl with the salt and flour. Mix until a smooth paste forms.

In a pan suitable for deep fat frying, heat enough oil for bite size churros to cook in. Drop teaspoons of the churro mix into the oil, and wait until they turn a dark golden colour and float to the surface. It may take a few attempts to get the right colour, but once the oil is hot enough each churro should take around 30 seconds to cook.

Once they have turned a golden colour, remove from the pan and pile on a serving plate. I added a few sprinkles of brown sugar to each layer- along with some squeezes of orange juice, so that each churro tastes slightly different depending on how much sugar or juice it's soaked up.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Winter salads: warm sprout top, kale, macadamia nut, lemon and cranberry salad

Having a veg box delivery means I'm often on the hunt for any recipes that do something a bit different with what's in season. This warm winter salad was initially inspired by a recipe from Cookie + Kate, which I've simplified and veganised, focusing instead on the lemon and cranberry flavours. It's perfect for cold January evenings- full of contrasting flavours, as well as being quick and easy to keep for lunch the next day.

I used homemade cranberry sauce here as it needed using, but fresh cranberries would probably be tastier if you've got them! Likewise, I used a mix of nuts as I seem to have a weird store of them. The macadamia nuts work really well with the sourness of the cranberries while the pecans add crunch and are a rich source of calcium and iron, which is the kind of thing that makes my Mum happy.

Handful of sprout tops or sprouts
Handful of kale
Bowl of leftover rice (or enough for two people)
Around 100g cranberries, or 2tbsp cranberry sauce
Handful macadamia nuts and pecans
Juice 1/2 lemon
Few glugs of olive oil

Start by gently heating the nuts in a pan to toast them lightly. You'll know they're done when they start to brown and you can smell them. Set aside.

Prepare the rice or thoroughly reheat if leftover.

Boil the sprout tops and kale in a saucepan for 3 minutes, or until the kale stalks are just soft enough to eat (I like mine quite crunchy!) Then drain and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon, a little oil and salt and pepper. If you are using fresh cranberries, just boil these with water to cover until they begin to pop so the juices can mix in the salad.

Pile up the rice, greens and nuts in a big bowl, along with the cranberries or dollops of cranberry sauce, and add a little more lemon juice or seasoning to taste.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Clapton Hart does a mean bean vegan burger

I try not to start too many sentences with the words "As a vegan...", however I'm willing to use up my monthly quota for this one: as a vegan it's sooooooo great when you discover a great pub also does great vegan food. The Clapton Hart is this pub. They do vegan roasts now and then on a Sunday (call ahead to check) and this week added a new 3-Bean Vegan burger to their menu. So obviously there was only one place I was headed when the snow settled on Saturday.

Aside from the burger, which was great, it was the tobacco onions which stole the show for me- I had no clue what these were before this weekend but I've decided pretty much any meal could be improved with these blighters, so called because after they are cooked they look like shredded tobacco. All I'm saying is no packet of Amber Leaf ever tasted this good.

Bye-bye trying to construct chip buttys at Wetherspoons Steak Club every Tuesday. If you need me, follow the tobacco onion trail to the Lea Bridge Roundabout.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Thai-style coconut and chili broth

Another ideal rescue recipe for January is this coconut and chili broth, which is perfect if you're looking for something rich, fragrant and spicy. Both lemongrass and coriander have long been touted for their calming and restorative properties when cooked, while chilies are a great source of vitamin C. Ginger is well known for its therapeutic properties, and garlic for lowering blood pressure and helping to fight off colds. Basically a bowl of this is gonna feel good.

Makes enough for four servings
2 tsp vegetable oil
Handful sliced mushrooms
One sliced red pepper
1 chopped chili
4tsp grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, sliced length ways
300ml vegetable broth
1 tin coconut milk
1 tbsp sugar
2 spring onions chopped
1 handful fresh coriander
Juice of 1 lime
1 portion rice noodles

Heat the oil in a wok and add the mushrooms, pepper, chili, ginger, garlic and lemongrass. Cook for three minutes, stirring to ensure nothing burns. Next add the chili, and cook for another minute.
Pour in the vegetable stock, coconut milk and sugar, and bring to a simmer, before reducing the heat and allowing to cook through for 10 minutes.
Most rice noodles will need to soak in cold water first- while they soak, remove the lemon grass and discard. Add the noodles and finally the fresh coriander, spring onions and lime juice, before serving.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

January rescue recipes

I've been working on a few rescue-recipes for January as pay cheques begin to reach the thin end of the wedge and the month shows no sign of ending. The silver lining is my new kitchen recipes notebook from Naomi as a quasi-Christmas present, along with Union hand roasted coffee and L'Olivier fig vinegar I'll be saving for some knock-out warm salads. How do you hold out through the most hated of months? Share the wealth below so we can all hurry the last two weeks along!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Maltby Street Market and spicy squash soup

On Saturday, against my toes' better judgement, I braved the freezing winds with Keelan and Naomi to visit Bermondsey's Maltby Street market and the Ropewalk. Plenty of black filter coffee, stall holders with battery-heated socks and a swift trip to the Kernal Brewery's store meant we were able to stand the cold for a grand total of one hour before heading to the Design Museum to defrost our fingers. 

Still shivering the day after, I made this spicy squash and potato soup with plenty of chili for a perfect snow-day lunch. I didn't manage to save any of the soup back (there seemed to be a continuous depletion of stocks throughout the afternoon...) but this would be great to freeze and defrost for lunches midweek.

Serves about six, or enough for a lot of lunches!

600g potatoes, peeled and chopped
350g squash, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 chilis, chopped
1 tsp marjoram
400ml vegetable stock
2 tsp chili flakes (plus a little more for seasoning)
Glugs of vegetable/olive oil

Sweat the onion in a large pan with the oil. Add in the marjoram, fresh chilies and dried chili flakes. Prepare the vegetable stock, then add the potatoes, squash, seasoning and stock to the pan, and bring to the boil.

Allow to simmer for around 30 minutes, until both the squash and potato are completely cooked through.

Turn off the heat and use a hand blender or mixer to blend the soup to a rich consistency, leaving it as chunky as you like. I added about 200 ml of water at this point to thin it down a little.

Bring back to a simmer, add pepper to taste and you're done.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A year in vegan meals

A year today I decided to try being a vegan for a little while. In January I read 'Eating Animals' and mostly ate a lot of chickpeas.

February meant my first vegan birthday cake, made to order by my long-suffering Mum. Thanks Mum!

Before I signed up to Growing Communities, I had to track down all my vegetables and fruit myself. So March was full of trips to the market.

Easter came around and I cooked the first of many vegan feasts for my family- roasted tomato soup, spring vegetable pie and mash potatoes.

In April I got down to veganising some of my favourite recipes from Wahaca and discovered Leffe is vegan. Big revelation.

I also managed to sign up to Growing Communities, the best thing I've ever done for my eating habits. I had to start scouring cook books to find ways of using all the new and unheard of vegetables we are given each week, and of course began taking A LOT of photos of fantastic vegetables.

In May I went to my first BBQ as a vegan and seemed to start a lentil burger factory. I also made carrot cake and lots of cups of tea for best friends.

Discovering apricots in the fruit bag one night in the park, and working out lunch box recipes to make on Sunday evenings.

In June I went on my first holiday as a vegan, to Krakow. I ate a lot of fruit, crisps and bread...

... but when I came home the vegetable bag had been transformed by all the gorgeous summer produce- I carried on making a lot of lentil burgers and sweet potato wedges for my family.

In July I picked edible flowers to add to salads and perfected a brownie recipe, which I will probably rename Gone in Sixty Seconds for 2013.

I also popped over to help my friend Alice at her tomato stall, and experimented with Bundt tins and Sunday baking like a woman possessed.

August meant lots of late night dinner parties and Mexican food, like Thomasina Miers' black eyed bean soup.
 September saw the last BBQ of the summer and the first squash soup...

...While October bought granola and more pumpkins than I knew what to do with!

The roasts began in November, my main objective being to use every shelf in the oven and every ring on the hob. I also made some ludicrous brunches and drank a lot of cava. But you already knew that.

The farmers' markets were in full bloom with all of November's produce, like the endless rows of apples at Borough Market. I made sweet potato and red lentil soup to combat blustering bike rides.

And finally it was December. When, with the help of a small army, I managed to cook a seemingly never-ending gluten-free Christmas dinner, and average at least four roast dinners a week.

So so long 2012 and Happy New Year to all my readers! I can't wait to see what 2013 holds for Guac & Roll.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Start as you mean to go on - with vegan Sloppy Joes and winter coleslaw

I don't have a clue why anyone would decide to start anything on the first day of the year. The way I see it, the first week of January is a kind of glorious no man's land, the tree is still up for a few more days, there's odd bits of wine left over in the fridge and no pressing need to step outside. After a few too many late nights I wasn't quite ready to start on anything remotely righteous or from Whole Foods, so we decided to have one last winter feast. These easy recipes for a vegan diner meal meant we could use up some odds and ends left-over in the fridge from some over-ambitious Christmas dinners, whilst keeping it vegan and hearty and not at all "January".

There's a fair few different dishes here to serve up and let your friends dig in and help themselves with- (I preferred to change my Sloppy Joe into a sort of pseudo-chili dog) so you can add whatever you have as long as it fits in the burger I guess!

Serves 4 generously.


For the chili
Morrisons own-brand soy mince (this is vegan although many others aren't so I would check if using a different brand)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 clove crushed garlic
1 chopped onion
Pinch of dried rosemary
Pinch of dried thyme
Salt and pepper

For the winter coleslaw
Half a savoy cabbage, shredded to make long strands
1 small carrot, grated (I used a purple carrot which made a great bright colour for the coleslaw, but just use whatever you have to hand)
Handful of chopped parsley
50ml olive oil
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp chili dipping sauce (vegan from Sainsbury's)
Salt and pepper

For the burgers, chili dogs and Sloppy Joes
Bread buns
Linda McCartney sausages
3 onions, chopped into rings
Oil or vegan margarine

To make the chili, heat a little oil in a large pan and sweat the onion for a few minutes, before adding the garlic. Then add the mince and stir through the oil, before adding in the tomatoes. Add the dried herbs and seasoning, then allow to reduce and thicken for about five minutes.

To make the perfect onions for the top of your Sloppy Joes, just cut into rings and with a little oil, heat on a really low temperature for about fifteen to twenty minutes, keeping the onions moving all the time so they stay soft and hardly even brown.

Finally, shred the cabbage and grate in the carrot and add the parsley. In a jar or glass mix together the oil with the soy sauce and chili dipping sauce, along with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the coleslaw and mix with your hands to make sure it's thorough.

And there you have it. Detox schmetox!

Last meal of 2012

Heather and Rhys made the most delicious final meal for us on New Year's Eve before we set out for midnight. Ginger beer mojitos, spicy aubergine and tomato salad with Harissa paste, cous cous, chickpea and red onion salad and tomatoes and celery to boot. All from Deptford Market and amazing. Good friends, good food and that was it for 2012!