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Types of Tofu and How to Use Them

Do you know your silken from your smoked? The world of tofu can seem intimidating if you're not used to the lingo. (Extra firm silken?) And then you need to be able to choose the right type of tofu for your dish. Most recipes will specify the kind you'll need, but really understanding your options can spark creativity. Tofu isn't just for stir fries! From smoothies to burgers to pies, tofu isn't bland or boring when you know what you're doing. 

Video by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

These recipes, sorted by tofu type, might even win over the tofu skeptic!

Tofu and Purple Broccoli Salad

How to Use Firm Tofu

The original tofu, easy to cut into cubes. It will keep its shape for stir frying and deep frying. To prepare firm tofu, drain off the liquid and pat dry with kitchen paper. Then slice or cube and  marinate if you'd like. For extra firmness, you can squeeze out liquid from the tofu by wrapping the tofu in kitchen paper or a clean tea-towel, cover with a chopping board and adding a heavy weight on top. Leave for 1 hour and you will find that more liquid has seeped out and the tofu is drier and firmer and ideal for making kebabs.

Numerous brands now produce firm tofu -  Clear SpotDragonfly and Cauldron to name just a few, and most major supermarkets stock it in the veggie-friendly refrigerator section. 

Firm Tofu Recipes

Tofu Package

How to Use Silken Tofu

Silken tofu is often used as a substitute for eggs or cream. Do NOT try to stir fry this stuff - you will be disappointed. You'll see "Soft Silken Tofu" and "Firm Silken Tofu". Soft silken tofu is, well, REALLY soft and will fall apart in your fingers, ideal for smoothies, custards, sauces and puddings - we like  Clearspring's Organic Soft Silken Tofu. Firm silken tofu holds its shape and can be cut into cubes (great for miso soup) but also works for dips and puddings. If you're feeling brave, try battering and frying firm silken tofu to make the Japanese dish Agedashi Tofu. Just hold the bonito flakes to make it vegetarian.

Silken Tofu Recipes

Vegan Dessert Crepe

How to Use Fried Tofu 

Puffed up spongy texture. Great to add to soups to soak up flavour and give texture. You can find it in Chinese supermarkets. Wai Yee Hong in Bristol sells it as  Tofu Puff.

Fried Tofu Recipes

Vegetarian Pho

How to Use Smoked Tofu

A delightful smoky flavour and is delicious served cold in a salad. Smoked tofu is super handy - the  smoked tofu range from Taifun is delicious sliced up and eaten raw, or stuffed into sandwiches.

Smoked Tofu Recipes

How to Use Ready-marinated Tofu

Saves you having to marinate plain tofu and is ready to eat. Clear Spot makes an organic marinated tofu that's really handy for stir fries and scrambles. You can also find Cauldron marinated tofu in most major supermarkets nowadays.

Marinated Tofu Recipes 

Black Sesame Tofu

For more tofu inspiration, check out our post on How to Cook with Tofu or sign up for one of our Far Eastern Cookery Courses.

Let us know if you have any questions about tofu types or recipes. Leave a comment below or come and chat to us on social media!

To keep up to date with events and goings on at the cookery school, follow us onFacebook,Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and sign up for our newsletter.

Tandoori Paneer Kebabs

Last week we shared our recipe for Charred Pepper and Artichoke Spedini and we are sticking with our vegetarian barbecue theme for today's Meat Free Monday with these delicious Tandoori Paneer Kebabs. It's definitely worth making plenty of these as everyone will want one and any leftovers make a lovely sandwich filling or salad.

Tandoori Paneer Kebabs

Makes: 4

Dietary: Gluten Free

Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 1 hour to marinade

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Tandoori

Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Ingredients

Kebabs

  • 250g paneer cut into 8 cubes
  • 1 green pepper, cut into 8 chunks
  • 1 red pepper, cut into 8 chunks
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil

Paste

  • Thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 small dried chillies
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, dry roasted and ground
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (mango powder)
  • 2 tsp sunflower oil

oil for basting

Method

  • Mix all the paste ingredients together and blend in a mini processor until smooth.
  • Rub the paste onto the paneer cubes and vegetables and leave to marinate for at least one hour.
  • Thread the paneer and vegetables alternatively onto 4 kebab sticks.
  • Brush with oil and grill or barbecue, turning often and brush on a little more oil if they are sticking to the grill until the paneer is golden
  • Serve with coriander and mint chutney and a hot naan.

Tips

Paneer is traditional Indian cheese, made from curds acidified with lemon juice. Before it is cooked it has a rubbery tasteless quality, it's saving grace is that it is wonderful cookedI it is solid enough to hold together, it doesn't melt and it absorbs the cooking flavours beautifully. 

Paneer is readily available from Asian stores and most supermarkets.

Vegetarian Barbecue Recipes

For more Vegetarian and Vegan Barbecue Ideas check out Rachel's Vegetarian Barbecue Tips and Tricks and, if you're feeling inspired to make the most of wonderful seasonal vegetables, why not sign up for one of our upcoming classes?

Keep up to date with events and goings on at the cookery school, follow us on Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and sign up for our newsletter

Edible Flowers - Recipes and Tips

You might be surprised just how many of the flowers in our gardens are edible and now is the perfect time to harvest many of them.* Edible flowers make a fabulous addition to summer dishes and they look so pretty too! Plus, if you plant edible flowers in your garden you will be encouraging in all sorts of beneficial insects and helping our struggling bee population; it's a win win situation! Here are a few of our favourites.

If you have Chives growing in your garden be sure to use the flowers as well as the leaves in your salads, they add a lovely oniony flavour and a splash of subtle colour. This salad was made on our recent Advanced Vegetarian Diploma course - isn't it beautiful?

Summer Salad with Edible Flowers

Pansies, Violets and Violas are so pretty they usually end up crystallised to decorate cakes and desserts but they have a lovely, delicate flavour all of their own and really shine in a salad! Who could resist these beauties? They certainly inspire some fabulous gourmet cooking when a basket full turns up at the cookery school.

Cooking with Edible Flowers

Courgette Flowers are fabulous raw in salads or steamed as a side dish but they really come into their own when they are stuffed, dunked in tempura batter and shallow fried.

Courgette Flowers Recipes

Blue Borage is a classic addition to a glass of Pimm's and lemonade but why not marry it with cucumber in a light summer salad or pop it on top of a summery Gazpacho?

Wild chicory grows widely in Britain. Bright blue flowers signal its presence in dry meadows. It used to be a common foraged spring vegetable here, but is now enjoyed mainly by travellers to Italy or Greece where it is common in restaurants. The young leaves should be tender and pleasantly bitter but not unpleasantly so. A really useful addition to your summer flower repertoire!

Cooking with Wild Chicory

Lavender flowers are lovely in ice creams, added to summer drinks and homemade jams, baked into biscuits or made into lavender syrup and stirred into cream.

Nasturtiums are real givers - you can eat the leaves, flowers and seeds! The leaves make wonderful edible plates to serve a salad on but you can also whizz them up into a delicious peppery pesto. The flowers look amazing and taste delicious scattered on salads and added to savoury dishes. You can even make Poor Man's Capers using the seed buds once the flowers are over!

*A word of caution, as with all foraging do make sure that you only choose organically grown flowers, free of pesticides and that you are confident that you know what you are picking.

If you are keen to do a bit more foraging do keep an eye on our courses for one of our regular foraging outings! If you are inspired to further your cooking skills and deepen your knowledge why not sign up for one of our Diploma courses?

If you do something fabulous with edible flowers we'd love to hear about it! Leave a comment below or come and chat to us on social media!

To keep up to date with events and goings on at the cookery school, follow us on Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and sign up for our newsletter.

Charred Pepper and Artichoke Spedini

The weather is warming up nicely so over the next few Mondays we'll be sharing some fabulous vegetarian and vegan barbecue recipes to help you make the most of alfresco eating this summer! Charred Pepper and Artichoke Spedini is a creative alternative to vegetable skewers. Threading the vegetables onto rosemary stalks instead of traditional skewers adds an additional flavour and looks very pretty too! 

Charred Pepper and Artichoke Spedini

Makes: 4

Dietary: Vegan

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Charred Pepper and Artichoke Spedini

Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Ingredients

  • 4 long sticks of rosemary
  • 8 jarred artichokes in oil or 4 fresh baby artichokes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • focaccia bread cut into twelve 3cm cubes
  • olive oil for basting

Marinade

  • I tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

To Serve

  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • A little chopped rosemary

Method

  • Pull the rosemary leaves off of the rosemary stem but make sure to leave some sprigs at the top.
  • Slice the peppers into thick slices, 3 cms wide, brush with a little olive oil and grill or char grill on both sides until pliable.
  • Slice the jarred artichokes in half lengthways.
  • Fold each strip of pepper around a cube of foccacia.
  • Assemble the spedini by alternating the artichoke, pepper and focaccia cubes.
  • Brush with the olive oil and garlic marinade.
  • Barbecue or grill until the focaccia is toasted and the peppers are beginning to char.
  • Finish with a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle with fresh rosemary leaves.

Serve with salsa verde.

Tips: Preparing Fresh Baby Artichokes


Cooking with Artichokes

Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

  • Prepare the artichokes by pulling the leaves of the artichoke until they start to become paler in colour then peel away any excess of the rough leaves and also peel the stem.
  • Chop the tip off of the artichokes and then place in water with a tablespoon of lemon juice and a little salt and boil for around 30 minutes until tender. 
  • Drain the artichoke and cut in half, scoop out the furry inside with a teaspoon. 
  • Cut the artichoke into thick strips including the tender stalk. Leave to marinade in some rosemary, garlic and olive oil. 

For more Vegetarian and Vegan Barbecue Ideas check out Rachel's Vegetarian Barbecue Tips and Tricks and make the most of artichoke season with these recipes!

Artichoke with Beetroot Risotto and Garlic-Almond Puree

Artichoke Farinata

Marinated Baby Artichokes

If you're feeling inspired to make the most of wonderful vegetables in season why not sign up for one of our upcoming classes?

To keep up to date with events and goings on at the cookery school, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and sign up for our newsletter

Cherry Clafoutis - Cherry Season is Here!

It's National Cherry Day tomorrow and we couldn't let it pass without sharing our recipe for Cherry Clafoutis. Every weekend should include a seasonal fruity dessert, don't you think? French Fruit Flan is very quick to make, you can ring the changes with whatever fruit is in season, my favourite is with cherries, apricots or peaches.

Cherry Clafoutis - French Fruit Flan

Serves: 4/6

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 - 40 minutes

sCherry Clafoutis

Photo by Urvashi Roe of Botanical Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 500g cherries
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 175g sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 400ml warm milk
  • 25g butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • grated zest of 1 lemon

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180Fan.
  • Cut the cherries in halve and remove the stones.
  • Butter a shallow 30cm oven proof baking dish and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar.
  • Arrange the cherries, cut side down in the dish.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder & salt.
  • Beat the eggs with the sugar until creamy, then beat in the flour, warm milk, melted butter, vanilla essence and lemon zest to make a smooth batter.
  • Pour the batter over the cherries and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes. Check after 20 minutes and if the clafoutis is browning too quickly, cover with some silver foil and bake until firm and golden.
  • Serve warm sprinkled with icing sugar with a dollop of crème fraiche.

Tips

Sweet cherries can be black, red or pale coloured, while sour cherries look similar but are very sour and are best used in sweet pies or made into jam or liqueur.  

I like to add cherries to salads, halved and de-stoned as an alternative to cherry tomatoes, as they are just as sweet. 

Dark Cherry and Strawberry Quinoa Salad

Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Cherries complement a light goat’s cheese and are a lovely way to finish a meal.

Cherries

Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

If you want to immerse yourself in a whole day of glorious vegetable cooking, and go home with a pocketful of recipes and a head full of ideas, why not sign up for one of our fabulous courses today? 

To keep up to date with events and goings on at the cookery school, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and sign up for our newsletter

Long Bean Stir Fry

Another recipe inspired by Rachel's travels in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) earlier this year where she immersed herself in the culture and culinary traditions of this beautiful country.

The most popular beans in Burma are long beans and winged beans. Winged beans Psophocarpus tetragonolobus,  also known as four-cornered beans, are very nutritious and all parts of the plant can be eaten. Long beans Vigna unguiculata are also known as yard-long beans as they do grow up to a meter long! These beans are easily available from Thai stores. As an alternative use a mix of English runner beans and French beans which are coming into season right now!

If you want to read more about Burmese cuisine and food culture, here's Rachel's account of her travels and, if you're interested in learning to cook vegetarian far eastern cuisine, why not sign up for one of our upcoming classes?

Long Bean Stir Fry

Dietary: Vegan

Serves: 4 as a side dish

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Long Bean Stir Fry

Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Ingredients

  • 200g long beans
  • 100g winged beans
  • 2 Thai shallots, chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp shoyu
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • sunflower oil for frying

Method

  • Top and tail the long beans and winged beans and keep them whole, then cook in boiling water for 5 minutes until tender, but still firm. 
  • Drain and set aside to cool.
  • Fry the shallots in a little oil until colouring then add the garlic and stir-fry.
  • Add in the cooked long beans, winged beans, lime juice, shoyu and sesame seeds and quickly stir-fry.
  • Serve hot or cold as a salad.

Winged Beans

Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Aren't vegetables just the most beautiful things? If you fancy rustling up some more dishes from Myanmar you could try this Burmese Aubergine Curry, some Shan Tofu or a Burmese Noodle Stir-Fry

Sign up for one of our upcoming classes to learn more about far eastern cuisine.

To keep up to date with events and goings on at the cookery school, follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram and sign up for our newsletter

Vegetarian Fast Food for Easy Weekends

I love preparing big spreads and glorious feasts for friends and family but sometimes, especially during the long lazy weekends of summer, vegetarian fast food is a very appealing option. Sunny days and warm evenings call for quick and easy, tasty and nutritious food which doesn't require much time at a hot stove. Inspired by the cultures of the world which do this so well, I turn to tapas and mezze, to salads, frittata and stir fry - anything which can be on the table in about half an hour!

Vegetarian

Cooking dishes using the best seasonal ingredients sourced locally, foraged from field or hedgerow or grown in your own garden, quickly cooked and slowly eaten is one of life's simplest pleasures - each of these recipes makes the most of summer's abundance.

Vegetarian

Image Credit: Rob Wicks

If you want to learn recipes, tips and time saving tricks to make cooking great tasting vegetarian food easy why not sign up to one of our Fast and Delicious Courses?

A Selection of our Favourite Vegetarian Fast Food Recipes

Spanish Tortilla de Patatas

Seasonal Frittata

Burmese Stir Fry

Burmese Aubergine Curry

Cherry, Strawberry and Quinoa Salad

Spinach and Sorrel Barleyotto

Puy Lentil Salad with Watercress Pesto

Huevos Rancheros

Vegetarian Pad Thai

Socca Pizza with Seasonal Veg

Watermelon and Strawberry Gazpacho

Image Credit: Rob Wicks

And a Handful from our Favourite Food Bloggers

Char Grilled Mediterranean Vegetable Salad with Avocado Caesar Dressing from Laura at How to Cook Good Food.

Samurai Samphire Noodles with Miso Marinated Tofu from Choclette at Tin and Thyme.

Spaghetti with Kale, Asparagus, Chilli and Lemon from Kate at Veggie Desserts

To learn more techniques and tips to make fabulous seasonal vegetarian food in a hurry, come along to one of our regular Fast and Delicious Courses! Sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with what's on at the cookery school.

What are your favourite vegetarian fast food recipes? Tell us in a comment below or come and chat to us on Facebook and Twitter.

Raw food interview with Aradhana Kaur, The Landsman, July 2016

Our raw food tutor Aradhana Kaur is featured in the Landsman in this fantastic interview about the benefits and practicalities of raw food. Read on to learn more about Aradhana's raw food journey, the health benefits of raw food, and how to incorporate raw food into your daily life. And keep an eye on our course calendar for upcoming raw food cooking courses

Click here to read the article in full.

‘Fast & Delicious’ Cooking, West Wilts Magazine, July 2016

We are in the July 2016 issue of West Wilts Magazine, where Lisa Rockliffe reviews our Fast & Delicious course:

"For those of us who rely on meat or fish to be the star of a dish, vegetarian cooking can easily, if lazily, be viewed as a poor relation. Here I was shown exactly how to make sure that doesn't happen with a selection of tasty dishes that expanded my repertoire and made me feel differently about how I cook and the ingredients I use."

You can read the full review online read the full review online (flip to pages 36-37). And keep an eye on our course calendar for upcoming Fast & Delicious courses!

Spinach and Sorrel Barleyotto

July is such an exciting month with so many fruits and vegetables at the height of their season; it's an excellent time to visit a pick-your-own farm for broad beans, strawberries, gooseberries and summer raspberries. Keep an eye out for the last of the spring sorrel or forage for summer sheep sorrel to make this zingy barleyotto or replace it with watercress or rocket which are at their peak right now! Pearl barley makes a lovely change from rice, it has a nutty taste and robust texture which are a delight in this summery vegetarian dish - eat it alfresco with friends as the sun sets. 

Spinach and Sorrel Barleyotto

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a starter

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 150g pearl barley
  • 500ml vegetable stock or water
  • 250g spinach
  • 100g sorrel
  • 50g vegetarian style ‘parmesan’
  • 25g pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • salt to taste

Lemon Oil

  • 1/2 lemon, juice and zest
  • 2 tsp cold pressed rapeseed oil

Method

  • Bring the pearl barley to the boil and simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes. Turn off and leave to cool covered. Drain through a sieve and keep the pearl barley cooking liquid.
  • Wilt the spinach and sorrel and drain through a sieve, keep the spinach water to add back to the barleyotto later.
  • Puree half the spinach and sorrel mix and roughly chop the rest.
  • Mix the lemon juice, zest and cold pressed rapeseed oil together to make the lemon oil.
  • In a saucepan gently heat up the pearl barley with the pureed and chopped spinach. 
  • Add grated vegetarian ‘parmesan’ and pumpkin seeds, keeping some back to sprinkle on top. 
  • Then stir in the lemon oil. Season to taste. You will then need to add a little spinach water and pearl barley cooking liquid to reach a soft moist risotto consistency.

Decorate with fresh herbs such as pea shoots.

Tips

Can be made with wild sorrel or garden sorrel, if you don’t have either add in watercress or rocket.

A handful of our favourite recipes using summer leaves

For more seasonal and summery inspiration join us for one of our fabulous courses and do sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date with Demuths throughout the year! 

Seasonal Cooking with Watercress

July heralds salad season with a trumpet fanfare of flavour explosions and there is nothing quite as tangy on the tongue as fresh British watercress! Both Watercress and Rocket (or Arugula) are members of the cabbage or Cruciferae family. Their sharp, heady flavour comes from the mustard oils in their leaves, which sometimes can have an almost ‘hot’ flavour - excellent in cooking! 

Image Credit: Rob Wicks

Wild watercress grows in streams in Britain, but it’s not advised to harvest it, because of liver flukes from sheep and cattle. The wild relatives of watercress include Hairy Bittercress and Bittercress that look like miniature watercress but grow all year in everybody’s gardens and supply tangy salad goodies rather like Mustard and Cress.

Tips

I love cooking with watercress, it is delicious, nutritious and distinctive in both hot and cold dishes and it is at the peak of its season this month - so grab some while you can! Try it in soups, salad, sauces and  smoothies. Its taste goes particularly well with soft cheeses and feta. I prefer bunches of watercress, that have been grown in pure cool flowing water in Wiltshire, rather than vacuum packed, chlorine flushed packs of watercress in the supermarkets. Make sure you choose the crispest, greenest bunch and use it quickly before it loses its glorious vibrancy and turns yellow and limp. 

Favourite Watercress Recipes

Image Credit: Rob Wicks

For more seasonal cooking inspiration check out our upcoming courses

Have you got a favourite way for cooking with watercress? Comment here or share your watercress recipes with us on Facebook and Twitter

Watermelon and Strawberry Gazpacho

Summer is now well under way, as well as two glorious weeks of tennis, each year at Wimbledon sees 320 000 glasses of Pimm's, 25 000 scones and 140 000 portions of English strawberries served! This recipe for Watermelon and Strawberry Gazpacho makes the most of flavour packed English strawberries in a beautiful chilled summer soup. 

If you are stocking up on strawberries for Wimbledon you could also try our Vegan Strawberry, Elderflower and Coconut Ice CreamCherry and Strawberry Quinoa Salad or how about Avocado, Strawberry and Cream Cheese Bruschetta?

Fancy some more easy vegetarian summer recipes? Join us for one of our upcoming  Fast and Delicious Summer Treats courses full of inspiration and fresh ideas! 

Watermelon and Strawberry Gazpacho

Serves 4

Dietary: Vegan and Gluten Free

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Watermelon and Strawberry Gazpacho

Image Credit: Rob Wicks

Ingredients

Gazpacho

  • 500g watermelon, peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes
  • 350g strawberries
  • 1/2 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • ½ large red chilli (optional)
  • ¾ cucumber, peeled
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp red wine vinegar
  • pinch of salt

Toppings

  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • ½ small red onion, finely chopped
  • ½ stick celery, finely chopped
  • ¼ cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ red chilli, chopped
  • ½ green chilli chopped
  • basil leaves, chopped 

Method

  • Place all the gazpacho ingredients in a blender (we use our fabulous Froothie) or food processor and blend to a soup consistency. Taste and season to taste. 
  • Refrigerate until cold.
  • Serve cold with the toppings piled on top.

Tips

With the left over watermelon, either eat as slices or whiz up for a refreshing watermelon smoothie!

Watermelon and Strawberry Gazpacho

Image Credit: Rob Wicks

Don't forget to check out our Fast and Delicious Courses for more seasonal inspiration and if you want to pop your soup in a flask and head out for a picnic, have a look at our top tips for packing a perfect picnic

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link. 


How to Pack the Perfect Picnic

As a child, picnics were a great treat. When traveling with my family by car, each day one of us girls - three sisters - chose the picnic spot. To the dismay of my father, who preferred to sit next to the car and smoke his pipe, my eldest sister would choose a remote spot to lug the picnic basket. My middle sister pleased him by choosing a lay by. I took the middle road and would choose a field just a short way from the car.

We had a big tartan rug, wicker basket, and sandwiches wrapped in grease-proof paper. They were always made with wholewheat bread, filled with a choice of cheddar, homemade chutney, egg mayonnaise from our free range chickens, home-grown cucumber, and tomato. To finish off we'd have apples and cake. My parents would sometimes have a glass of wine and we children would enjoy lime squash. Idyllic memories!

So, what's essential to recapturing the magic of a good picnic? Simplicity.

Location

First, don't overthink your picnic spot. Whether you're at the bottom of your garden, a park near your office, or the Greek islands, a picnic is always a treat. Truly, all you need is a bit of sunshine and something to eat. Hopefully your friends and family also enjoy the informality of sitting on the ground, eating with their fingers, and skipping a lot of washing up! I always like the rug rather than tables and chairs, fingers versus plates and cutlery.

My most memorable picnics seem to have been up mountains with cheddar and chutney sandwiches or on the Greek Islands, where everyday is picnic day up in the hills. Buying the ingredients first is part of the experience, choosing small Greek cucumbers, large irregular shaped beef tomato and a slab of local sheep’s cheese and then to the bakers on the way out of town for a warm loaf of bread. As one walks up an appetite, augumenting the picnic with freshly picked herbs, such as perfumed oregano and if lucky plucking sweet ripe figs. All eaten on a scenic wall, with a penknife to slice up the vegetables and curious cats to watch over you. 

Preparing

Again, don't overdo it...but here are some ideas for food you can make ahead. Our criteria for great picnic food: anything that's simple, portable, and delicious eaten cold. Bonus points if it can be picked up with fingers!

And don't forget fruit and veg you can nibble on such as broccoli, cherry tomatoes, crunchy gem lettuce, bunches of grapes, punnets of berries, and melon that you can cut on site - better when warm and the juices run!

Sandwiches

Sandwiches aren't boring! Well, store-bought sandwiches are. Have you ever wondered why sandwiches from chiller cabinets are so tasteless? They are too cold at 3C. But your fresh picnic-day sandwich will be warmed by sunshine and made exactly to your preferences. My desert island wish would be a homemade cheddar and chutney wholewheat sandwich! 


Puddings

These are some of my favourite desserts to bring on a picnic. A few biscuits wouldn't go amiss, either. The options are endless!


Drinks

Don't forget to pack something to wash all your delicious food down with - elderflower cordial or even a drop of elderflower champagne make for a perfect English Summer Picnic! 

Image credit: Monica Shaw

If you are inspired to put together a vegetarian picnic and you want more ideas why not sign up for our 5 Day Vegetarian Cookery Course or our Vegan Diploma

Please do let us know what you would bring on a perfect vegetarian picnic!

Comment here or share your ideas on Facebook and Twitter.

Turkish Pide with Nectarines, Feta and Mint

Pide is a Turkish ‘pizza’ with a classic boat shape and is traditionally topped with spinach and peynir, a salty ewe’s cheese. Our fresh and delicious twist sees it topped with sweet nectarines and mint balanced with the creamy saltiness of feta - perfect hot from the oven or popped into a basket for a summer picnic! 

If you're inspired to cook up a Middle Eastern Feast this summer have a look at our upcoming Vegetarian Middle Eastern Mezze Courses.

We love sharing recipes and chatting about food so do tell us what you're cooking up for summer and share any recipes perfect for a vegetarian picnic. Comment below or find us on Facebook and Twitter!

Turkish Pide topped with Nectarines, Feta and Mint

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Dough rising time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 15-25 minutes

Image Credit: Rob Wicks

Ingredients

Pide Dough

  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • 1 ½ tsp dried active yeast
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 150ml water

Topping

  • 4-6 nectarines, thickly sliced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 100g feta
  • 100g ricotta
  • a handful of fresh mint, chopped

To Serve

  • Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes
  • Sprig or two of fresh thyme
  • Mint leaves


Method

Preparing the Pide Dough

  • In a jug, whisk together the yeast, sugar and water and leave in a warm place until frothy (about 10 minutes)
  • In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and olive oil together, stir in the frothy yeast mixture and mix by hand or in a mixer with a dough hook to a soft ball consistency, 
  • Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  • To knead use the heel of your hand to gently push the dough away from you. At the same time, use your other hand to rotate the dough towards you, guiding it slowly around in a circle. 
  • When the dough feels stretchy and smooth, form into a ball and place in a large lightly oiled bowl. 
  • Cover the bowl with clingfilm oiled on the underside, so that the dough doesn’t stick to the clingfilm.
  • Leave the dough to double in size, which will take about an hour in a warm kitchen.

Preparing the Topping

  • Slice the nectarines and toss in lemon juice to stop them turning brown.
  • Mix the feta and ricotta together with chopped mint leaves.

Making the Pide

  • Preheat the oven to 235C top and bottom heat and put a baking stone in to heat up.
  • Lightly flour a piece of baking parchment that is at least 30 x 40cm.
  • Turn out the dough onto the parchment, and using a rolling pin, gently roll the dough into a large oval, approximately 1cm thick, 35cm in length and approx 25cm width for a large Turkish Pide to share. Each end should taper slightly to a point.
  • Alternatively, divide the dough in half and roll into ovals roughly 12 x 18cm, or into 4 pieces and roll into small ovals, roughly 6 x 9cm.
  • If the dough resists rolling, let it rest for a couple of minutes between rolling, and use your fingers to gently stretch it into shape, tapering the ends a little to create the ‘boat’ shape.
  • Spread the ricotta cheese mixture to cover the dough, leaving a 1cm border frame around the oval. 
  • Place the nectarine slices evenly on top and brush each slice lightly with a little olive oil. 
  • Sprinkle with the fresh thyme leaves and a little Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes.
  • Fold the dough border inwards over the filling to create a rim, and pinch each of the ends together, twisting once to seal them, giving the Pide its classic ‘boat’ appearance.
  • Carefully lift the Pide with the baking parchment directly onto the hot baking stone or onto a baking tray and into the oven
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the dough develops a good crust, the base is golden brown, and nectarines slightly tinged brown. Serve hot or at room temperature, sprinkled with more chopped or torn fresh mint leaves.

Image Credit: Rob Wicks

Are you inspired to learn more Middle Eastern Vegetarian Recipes?  Have a look at our upcoming Middle Eastern Mezze Courses!

​Vegan Cashew and Berry Cheesecake

This absolutely delicious vegan cheesecake is so easy and guaranteed to delight. If you're interested in learning more about cooking without dairy and eggs, do take a look at our upcoming vegan classes. Not just for vegans but for anyone interested in mastering a new skill! (And enjoying cake, of course.)

Cashew and Berry Cheesecake

Serves: 8

Dietary: Vegan

Ingredients

Base

  • 150g vegan shortbread biscuits
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Topping

  • 150g cashews, soaked overnight then drained
  • 3 tbsp coconut cream
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Fruit Glaze

  • 150g mixed summer berries
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 tsp agar
  • juice of 1 orange

Method

  1. Line the bottom of a 20cm round spring-form cake tin with baking parchment or line individual rings.
  2. Crush the biscuits to breadcrumb consistency. 
  3. Melt the coconut oil and mix it into the biscuits. Press the biscuits into the tin and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Blend the topping ingredients together until very smooth (we use our Froothie Optimum 9200 Power Blender). Pour on top of the biscuit base and put in the freezer to set.
  5. To make the glaze, place the fruits into a small saucepan, add the sugar, orange juice and sprinkle the agar over the surface. 
  6. Allow the agar to dissolve for 5 minutes, then boil for 5 minutes. Cool and spoon over the cheesecake.

Fruit Revolution, Vegetarian Living, July 2016

The July 2016 issue of Vegetarian Living is now available and features my latest column of seasonal cooking ideas, tips, recipes and more. This month is all about summer fruits and how to incorporate fresh sweet produce like watermelon, strawberries and nectarines into savoury dishes. Discovery the savoury potential of summer fruit through recipes such as watermelon and strawberry gazpacho; Turkish pide with nectarines, feta and mint; and dark cherry and strawberry quinoa salad

Click on the link below to read the article in full:

Fruit Revolution, Vegetarian Living, July 2016

Dark Cherry and Strawberry Quinoa Salad

In salads we like to add cherries, halved and de-stoned as an alternative to cherry tomatoes and they are just as sweet. Add grains, greens, avocados, nuts, and eye-catching fruit for a nourishing salad. Perfect for a colourful lunch or inspiring summer picnic! 

Do share any summer recipes you're excited about. Comment below or come chat with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Dark Cherry and Strawberry Quinoa Salad

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 200g cherries, de-stoned
  • 200g strawberries, quartered
  • 6 radishes, sliced diagonally
  • 1 cougette, spiralised or sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 100g lambs lettuce
  • 25g pistachios, sliced in half

Quinoa

  • 75g red quinoa
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil

Dressing

  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp Agave syrup
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
  • pinch of salt and black pepper

Method

Cooking the Quinoa

  • Rinse the quinoa.
  • Heat 1 teaspoon of sunflower oil in a saucepan and add the quinoa, stir, coating the grains in oil and stir-fry for a minute.
  • Add the water to the quinoa. Simmer covered for about 15 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa grain has burst.
  • Turn the heat off keeping the lid on for a few minutes. Then fluff up the quinoa with a fork.

Preparing the Salad

  • Make up the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together.
  • Make up the salad platter, starting with the watercress, then the lambs lettuce. Add most of the quinoa, keeping some for the top. T
  • hen add the spiralised courgette and top with the avocado, radishes, cherries and strawberries. 
  • Sprinkle over the rest of the quinoa and the pistachios and drizzle over the dressing.
  • Eat at once!

Tips: to stop the sliced avocado turning brown, toss in a little lime or lemon juice.

Photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Elderflower Champagne

Elderflowers are finally in bloom and while we usually start with elderflower cordial, it's not soon after that we turn to something a bit more... intoxicating. Elderflower champagne is easy to make, all you need is a few easy-to-find ingredients and some containers with tight-fitting lids (we recommend sturdy swing-top glass bottles). We can't think of a better way to toast in the summer than with a glass of elderflower fizz! 

For more inspiration with elderflower and other wild foods, keep an eye on our upcoming foraging classes. Or try these other elderflower recipes on our website: 

Elderflower champagne

  • 4 litres hot water
  • 700g sugar
  • Juice and zest of four lemons
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • About 15 elderflower heads, in full bloom
  • A pinch of dried yeast (you may not need this)

Method:

  1. Put the hot water and sugar into a large container (a spotlessly clean bucket is good) and stir until the sugar dissolves, then top up with cold water so you have 6 litres of liquid in total.
  2. Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.
  3. Cover with clean muslin and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days. Take a look at the brew at this point, and if it’s not becoming a little foamy and obviously beginning to ferment, add a pinch of yeast.
  4. Leave the mixture to ferment, again covered with muslin, for a further four days. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and decant into sterilised strong glass bottles with champagne stoppers (available from home-brewing suppliers) or Grolsch-style stoppers, or sterilized screw-top plastic bottles (a good deal of pressure can build up inside as the fermenting brew produces carbon dioxide, so strong bottles and seals are essential).
  5. Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for at least a week before serving, chilled. The champagne should keep in the bottles for several months. Store in a cool, dry place.

Image credit: Monica Shaw.

Green Pea, Feta and Mint Pate

The classic combination of peas, feta and mint is harmonious and refreshing for warmer weather. Which we hope is here to stay for awhile! We recommend serving this pate cut in slices with warm walnut bread.

If you're excited about summer feasts, do take a look at our other summer recipes and exciting summer classes

Green Pea, Feta and Mint Pate

Dietary: Gluten Free

Serves 4/6

Ingredients:

  • 300g organic frozen peas 
  • 175g feta cheese 
  • 50g cheddar, grated 
  • 75g crème fraîche 
  • 1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint chopped 
  • juice and zest of one lemon 
  • 2 eggs 
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven 200C/Gas6.
  2. Grease and line a 450g loaf tin with baking parchment.
  3. Cook the peas and drain, then refresh under cold water to retain the vibrancy of their colour.
  4. In the food processor blend all the ingredients, except the eggs and the black pepper.
  5. Check for seasoning, before mixing in the eggs. Mix in the eggs and blend thoroughly and add black pepper to taste.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin.
  7. Cover the top with baking parchment and bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until firm.
Elderflower Fritters

The sweet perfume of elderflowers coated in a thin tempura batter makes for an ethereal delight. This treat can be enjoyed for only three or four weeks in any year, so don't let it pass you by! Some tips:

  • Harvest the elderflowers no less than an hour or so before you cook them.
  • The flower head should ideally be picked in with most florets opened and the remainder still in bud.
  • Don’t harvest on a rainy day as much of the nectar can be washed from the flowers.
  • Serve with thick Greek yogurt or home-made vanilla ice-cream. 

If you're interested in foraged foods, do take a look at our seasonal wild food recipes and upcoming foraging classes.

Elderflower Fritters

Serves: 4 

Ingredients

  • 12 Elderflower heads 

For the batter 

  • 200ml ice cold water 
  • 1 large egg, beaten 
  • 60g sifted plain white flour 
  • 30g cornflour 
  • 2-3 ice cubes 

Method 

To make the batter 

  1. Pour the ice cold water into a mixing bowl.
  2. Mix in the beaten egg, add the flours and roughly fold in with a fork, do not beat, the batter should be lumpy! 
  3. Add the ice cubes. 

Prepare the elderflowers

  1. Shake any insects and lose florets from the heads.  
  2. Cut heads into portions about 5cm across, leaving 2-3 cms of thin stalk to pick-up the fritters. 
  3. Don’t wash the flowers as the water will make the hot oil spit. 

Make the fritters

  1. Heat a lightly flavoured oil (sunflower, safflower) either in a wok or a frying pan with 1cm of oil. The oil is ready when a drop of batter bubbles and turns golden in 5-10 seconds. Don’t heat the oil further until it smokes. 
  2. Holding the portions of flower heads by the stalk, gently wipe them through the batter so they are coated all over. Touch on the side of the bowl to remove excess. 
  3. Drop gently into the oil. Moving quickly, but calmly, place a few portions in the oil. Take care they don’t touch or they may stick in a mass. 
  4. Remove when golden and crisp. 
  5. If using the shallow frying method, turn the portions over after 30 secs or when they are golden. 
  6. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towel. 
  7. Serve when still hot or at least warm.
Elderflower Cordial

We're starting to see the first elderflower bloom of the year! We adore this summery flavour in everything from spritzers to fritters and like to make plenty of cordial to last us through the year. 

This recipe for elderflower cordial is from our forager and herbalist Christopher Robbins.

Elderflower Cordial Recipes:

Collect flowers early in the day before the sun hits them and not within 48 hrs of being wet AT ALL by rain. Choose heads that show about 75% opened florets and the rest still in bud. Do not bother with any flower head that drops florets when you touch them.

Harvest as little green stalk as possible. Do this in one of two ways. First, gather the head into your hand so when you clench your fist your thumb is pointing down the stalk of the head. Move up the stalk as close to the florets as you can and pinch through the stalks between the thumb nail and the index finger. Second, gather the head in the same manner, but with the free hand, snip the florets off using kitchen scissors. The less green stalk the less you will get bitter compounds into your water extract.

Place the flowers into a carrier bag and tie the top when you are not adding to it. Store in the shade and when home, put in the fridge until ready to extract the fragrance, which should be done asap, certainly within 24 hours of picking.

Extracting the elderflowers.

Shake the flower heads gently over the sink to dislodge any large insects. (you just will not be able to remove all insects, so be prepared for the odd floater later on. Thrips (aka ‘thunder flies’) are tiny and common in elderflowers.

There is no precision with the amount of flowers to boiling water at this stage, but, to aim for consistent strength of syrup, it is useful to weigh them. I like at least 350g stalkless flower heads to make about 1.5 litre of syrup for good colour and strong flavour.

You’ll need:

Flower heads, (350-400gm)

Boiling water (1.8-2 litres)

A clean linen tea towel or muslin

650 g white sugar to each litre of flower extract.

Measuring jug

Sterilised bottles

Place the weighed flower heads in a large saucepan with a lid. Pour over the boiling water, pushing the florets under the water quickly to avoid them turning brown. The water should just cover the flowers. Replace the lid for 10 minutes.

Pour the liquid from the infused flowers through the tea towel or muslin lining a large kitchen strainer and into a large measuring jug (2 litre). Don’t be tempted to squeeze the liquid from the mass of infused flowers. Rinse the saucepan. Measure the volume of the infused extract and return it to the pan. For every litre you need to add 650g of sugar. Weigh the calculated amount of sugar and add to the pan, stirring until dissolved.

Bottle the elderflower syrup and seal tightly. Label your bottles.

Recipe from Christopher Robbins.

Burmese Aubergine Curry

Vegetarian curry with rice is a staple meal in Myanmar. Rachel had a wonderful time exploring Burmese cuisine earlier this spring, and this aubergine curry was a favourite.

Thai bitter aubergines are only slightly bitter and go well with the sweetness of the tomatoes in this curry. You can also make this dish with one large purple aubergine. Fried garlic and/or fried onion add an interesting crunchy dimension to the dish. You should be able to find containers of both in Thai shops.

If you're interested in far eastern cuisine, do look at our upcoming classes!

Burmese Aubergine Curry

Serves: 2-4

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp peanut oil or sunflower oil
  • 8 small red Thai shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp chopped red chilli
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 400g Thai small round aubergines, quartered
  • 500g tomatoes, chopped
  • pinch of salt

Topping

  • Deep fried garlic
  • Chopped coriander

Method

  1. Fry the shallots in the oil until translucent, then add the garlic, ginger, chilli and turmeric and stir-fry.
  2. Add the aubergines and stir-fry until they turn darker in colour.
  3. Add the tomatoes, stir and simmer gently covered until the aubergines are cooked which will take about 15 minutes.
  4. Take the lid off and simmer to reduce the sauce down for a few minutes.
  5. Season to taste.
  6. Sprinkle with fried garlic and chopped coriander.

Food photography by superstar Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

Burmese Noodle Stir-Fry

Stir-fried noodles are eaten as a morning snack in Myanmar. This dish is easy to make and can be adapted to the vegetables you have at home.

If you're interested in learning more about Burmese vegetarian cuisine, do read Rachel's blog post on her recent travels

Burmese Noodle Stir-Fry

Dietary: Vegan

Serves 2 as a light meal, or 4 as side dish

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 100g wheat or rice noodles
  • ½ small onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 mild red chilli sliced finely
  • 1 pak choy, sliced
  • 200g tenderstem broccoli
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tbsp shoyu
  • ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 spring onions sliced thinly to garnish
  • Sunflower oil for frying

Method

  1. Blanch the tenderstem broccoli for 1 minute, then refresh in a bowl of cold water to cool and retain the green colour.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil to cook the noodles.
  3. Add the noodles stirring to separate and then switch off the heat. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before draining in a sieve, and refreshing in cold water to cool quickly. Leave to drain in the sieve.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or large frying pan till very hot (almost smoking point).
  5. Stir-fry the onion quickly for 1 minute.
  6. Add the red pepper and stir fry for a minute, then add the garlic, ginger and red chilli and lower the heat a little.
  7. Add the pak choi and blanched tenderstem broccoli. Fry for another minute or two.
  8. Add the Shaoxing rice wine and shoyu, followed by the drained noodles. Using a pair of tongs, mix everything together so that the vegetables and noodles combine and the sauce coats everything.
  9. Lower the heat to medium, then add the sesame oil and taste for seasoning. Add extra shoyu and sesame oil if necessary.
  10. Tip out onto a large serving plate and sprinkle with spring onions.

Photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

The Culinary Secrets of Myanmar, Vegetarian Living, June 2016

The June 2016 issue of Vegetarian Living is now available and features my latest column of seasonal cooking ideas, tips, recipes and more. This month is all about the culinary traditions of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) inspired by my recent two-week trip immersing myself in this beautiful culture. The majority of Burmese are Buddhists, but there are Muslims, Christians and animists too. The staple food is rice and curry and, depending on what you can afford, vegetables, lentils and beans. There is no dairy, making it easy for vegans, and there is very little wheat, as rice is the staple grain. 

Discovery Myanmar's food traditions through recipes such as Thai Bitter Aubergine Curry, Burmese Pumpkin and Peanut Curry, Tenderstem Broccoli and Noodle Stir Fry, and Shan Tofu.

Click on the link below to read the article in full:

The Culinary Secrets of Myanmar, Vegetarian Living, June 2016

Aubergine and Mozzarella Bake

It's Meat Free Monday and the start of National Vegetarian Week! To celebrate, the Vegetarian Society encourages everyone to share their stories and traditions behind the food we eat. We've chosen this Aubergine and Mozzarella Bake, a favourite dish from our annual Italian cooking holiday in Apulia. It reminds us how fortunate we are to share our love of veg with students, our Bath community, and friends all around the world.

We hope you enjoy this simple bake at home. It is hearty and filling, especially delightful with fresh seasonal veg from a local market. Also a great way to put your veg box to work! Do let us know what you think, here or on Facebook and Twitter. We love to hear from you!

Aubergine and Mozzarella Bake

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 aubergine, thick slices
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp black olives
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 jar artichoke hearts, cut in half
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 large fennel, sliced
  • 300g mozzarella, sliced
  • 40g parmesan and 100g breadcrumbs (optional)

Method

  1. Fry the aubergines until soft in olive oil.
  2. Layer up with the rest of the ingredients. 
  3. Top with parmesan and breadcrumbs if you wish.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes until soft and golden.

Roasted Rhubarb and Blood Orange Layered Fool

Rhubarb is one of the first crops to be harvested in the UK and for us it's one of the highlights of late winter and spring! We like to roast rhubarb so that it keeps its shape rather than boiling it to a mush. When combined with blood orange, ginger and a good dose of sugar, rhubarb becomes absolutely sublime. You could eat it on its own, but we like to layer it with Greek yoghurt (or soya yoghurt for a vegan version) to make a colourful layered fool. 

See how easy it is to make in this bite-sized video from Rob Wicks of @eatpictures.

Roasted Rhubarb and Blood Orange Layered Fool 

with Orange Flower Water Mascarpone 

Serves 4 

Dietary: Wheat Free

Ingredients

  • 500g rhubarb 
  • Juice and segments of 2-3 blood oranges, depending on their juiciness 
  • 1 or 2 knobs of Crystallised ginger 
  • 2-5tbsp vanilla sugar depending on thickness of rhubarb stems 
  • 125ml mascarpone 
  • 125ml Greek yoghurt 
  • 1-3 tsp Orange Flower Water (to taste) 
  • Vanilla sugar to taste   

Method

  1. Remove the leaves from the rhubarb and cut the stalks into 2.5cm lengths. Lay the rhubarb lengths in a shallow ovenproof dish or roasting tin. 
  2. Squeeze over the oranges, add the orange segments and grate in as much crystallised ginger as you like (it’s quite strong so go slowly) and sprinkle over the sugar. 
  3. Bake at 200°C for 15min until tender but still retaining its shape (start checking after 10min – you don’t want it to collapse into mush). 
  4. Set aside to cool. 
  5. Fold together the mascarpone and yoghurt with the sugar, using a large metal spoon. 
  6. Add Orange Flower Water and sugar to taste. 
  7. Once the rhubarb is cold, spoon or pipe a layer of cream into the base of a glass. 
  8. Top with a spoonful of rhubarb. 
  9. Repeat the process. 
  10. Serve as they are or topped with toasted flaked almonds.

Tips:

How to segment an orange:

  1. First, take a small sharp knife and carefully slice off the top and bottom of the oranges.
  2. Let one orange stand on its flat bottom and carefully hold it still. Look for where the pith meets the orange flesh and cut down the orange to remove the skin and all of the pith. The more accurate you are the better so you don’t waste orange or end up with too much pith.
  3. Once you have removed one strip of peel, turn the orange and remove another strip of peel and pith. Carry on removing peel until the orange is fully peeled-remove any final bits of pith.
  4. Over a bowl to catch all the juices, hold the orange carefully in your hand and line up your knife to one side of one of the lines, which show you where the segments are. Cut just up to the middle of the orange, not all the way through.
  5. Repeat this all around the orange, holding the “pages” of orange segment back with your thumb as if they are pages of a book as you go round the orange. Be really careful when cutting your final segments.

Tortilla de Patatas

This Meat Free Monday we wanted to share a recipe to celebrate the recent - and welcome! - shift in weather, which is finally feeling like true Spring. Buds are appearing on the trees. Wild garlic has sprung to life. Even the sun has made an appearance. As the seasons change, so too do our taste buds. We suddenly find ourselves craving salads, salsas and fresh vegetables. Instead of hearty soups and stews, we're leaning towards lighter meals, with Spanish tapas being a firm favourite. And when it comes to tapas, no tapas is complete without a good Tortilla de Patatas. This traditional Spanish tortilla is the perfect match for fresh crisp salads and salsas. It's also gluten free and travels well, making it a good option for packed lunches. This is a staple of our Spanish cookery course. Let us know what you think!

Tortilla de Patatas

Serves: 

Dietary: Gluten Free

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 600g peeled potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 50ml milk
  • 150g grated mature cheddar (optional)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil for brushing

Method

  1. In a large non-stick frying pan, fry the onion, potato and garlic in the olive oil on a LOW heat until the potato is just soft, stirring frequently. This will take about 20 minutes.
  2. In a big bowl whisk the eggs, milk, and a pinch of salt and pepper then add the cheese and mix.
  3. Remove the potato mix from the frying pan and add to the egg mix.
  4. Wipe out the frying pan removing any stuck bits of potato. Re-heat the frying pan with a brush of oil and pour in the tortilla mixture. Cook on a LOW heat. You will need to run a spatula around the tortilla to stop it from sticking and jiggle the pan to keep it moving, until the tortilla is set, which will take about 15minutes
  5. When the tortilla has set, put a large plate or chopping board over the top of the pan, put your hand on top and gently turn the whole thing over so the tortilla is turned over (if any bits of tortilla have stuck gently take them off and replace onto the tortilla)
  6. Wipe out the pan again, brush with fresh oil and re-heat.
  7. Slide in the tortilla, cooked side uppermost and cook for 5 minutes on a low heat. Turn out onto a plate, turning it over as before, and leave to cool.

Tips: 

  • Serve warm with a leaf salad with a tangy tomato salsa, or cold as tapas cut into cubes with a cocktail stick in each one to make eating easier, or eat for breakfast!

Vegetarian Barbecue Tips and Tricks

Looks like we have some great weather heading our way, and you know what that means: barbecue! My mode of barbecuing is inspired by the street food tradition of adding interesting condiments to smoky, slightly charred grilled veg. This takes barbecuing into an exciting flavour realm, enhancing vegetables with chillies and spices, adding tartness with tamarind or lime, sweetening with palm sugar, or cooling things down with a yoghurt dip. 

The best vegetables for cooking on a barbecue:

For the best flavour, cook over a wood fire. My favourite is apple wood with sprigs of rosemary or sage to add a hint of herbs. But you can also use your grill indoors if your barbecue gets rained off!

Vegetarian Barbecue Recipes

Spice Rub

A spice rub is applied to the vegetables so the seasoning permeates the vegetables before grilling. In the Caribbean they use jerk spice rub, which is made of a variety of spices, but always has all spice and fiery scotch bonnet chillies. In Morocco they use ‘lekama’, which is a mix of cumin, paprika and salt.

Salsas

Mexican salsas are traditionally made in a pestle and mortar, and they can be raw or cooked. Salsa Cruda is made with diced or pounded tomatoes or tomatillos and chillies. Salsa Asada is made with roasted tomatoes, chillies and garlic, the flavours balanced with lime juice, salt and sugar.

Chutneys

I like fresh Indian chutneys, which are easy to make. Try a brilliant green chutney made with copious quantity of chopped coriander and mint, green chillies, cumin and lemon. For an unusual sweet and sour chutney, try tamarind chutney made with tamarind pulp, cooked dates, and flavoured with ginger and cayenne. Tamarind has a sour flavour with a sweet aftertaste and works like lemon juice to sour and enhance flavour. Buy tamarind in blocks, which look rather like squashed dates. To extract the pulp, break off a chunk from the block, pour on just enough hot water to cover, and leave to soak, then squeeze out the pulp and discard the fibre and seeds.

Sauces

For a Far Eastern twist try a sharp plum sauce, made with plums, which are now in season, cooked down with onion, rice wine vinegar and palm sugar. Palm sugar is made from the sap of the date palm and has a soft molasses flavour, buy it in cone form, which you grate to use. Or try satay sauce made with crushed peanuts or crunchy peanut butter, fresh root ginger and chillies.

Breads

Have a go at Australian damper bread. My partner is Australian and he showed me how easy and quick it is to make. Damper can be baked as a loaf in a tin or wrapped in silver foil in the oven, but it’s more fun to make a snake of dough coiled around a wooden stick and cooked over glowing coals. Out in the Australian bush there was no time for yeast leavening so either baking powder or a little wood ash was used to make the dough rise. Authentic damper has a similar chewiness and crisp crust to today’s best sourdoughs and a unique taste from the eucalyptus sticks burnt on the fire.

Mexican Dark Chocolate Torte

We served this on our Mexican Supperclub last year and it went down such a treat that the room actually went silent as we dug into this rich gluten-free chocolate torte spiced with cinnamon, cloves and allspice, served with chilli mangoes and a good spoonful of crème fraiche.

You know people love a dish when they ask for the recipe, and we had lots of requests that night. So thanks to Helen Lawrence for taking us through the step-by-step recipe so that you everyone make this at home!

Mexican Chocolate Torte

Dietary: Gluten Free

Serves: 8-12

Ingredients:

  • 275g 70% Dark Chocolate, broken up
  • 4 large Eggs
  • 230g Caster Sugar
  • 170g unsalted Butter, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch of ground allspice

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  2. Line a 20cm cake tin, and if it has a removable bottom then wrap the outside in tin foil in such a way that water cannot enter.
  3. In a large bowl beat the eggs at full speed with 1/3 of the sugar until the volume triples and they have turned white.
  4. In a saucepan gently heat the remaining 2/3 of the sugar with 110g of water until it has fully dissolved. In another bowl pour the hot sugar syrup over the chocolate and butter and stir to melt (the mixture should be smooth and glossy).
  5. Slowly add the chocolate mix to the eggs and mix until just combined
  6. Pour into cake tin and place in a bain marie (you can also use a roasting dish). Fill with boiling water to below the cake tin’s rim (the water allows it to cook like a mousse, giving that luscious creamy texture). Bake in the middle of the oven, for 30 minutes or until set. Allow to cool completely before turning out.
  7. Serve cold with chilli mangoes and crème fraiche.

Mexican Dark Chocolate Torte

Sweetcorn Fritters

These tasty sweetcorn fitters often make an appearance on our Mexican courses. They are particularly delicious served as a snack or appetizer with guacamole and fresh salsa.

Sweetcorn Fritters

Sweetcorn Fritters

Ingredients:

  • 75g plain flour
  • 60g fine cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of chilli powder
  • pinch of paprika
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 250mls milk (approx)
  • 125g frozen or fresh corn
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • small handful coriander, chopped
  • sunflower oil for frying

Method:

  1. Sieve the flour, cornflour, baking powder, chilli, paprika and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk in the egg and milk until you have a batter about the consistency of double cream.
  3. Fold in the frozen or fresh sweetcorn, chopped spring onion, olive oil and a handful of chopped coriander and don’t mix too much.
  4. Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan with a little sunflower oil. Drop a spoonful of the fritter mix into the pan (either bite sized or jumbo!) and fry until golden, flip over and cook the other side. 
  5. Serve as an accompaniment to a chilli or as a starter or snack with a tomato salsa, minty yoghurt dip, or guacamole and sour cream.
  6. Can be reheated in the oven when needed.

Tips: If using fresh sweetcorn cobs, peel off the outer sheaf and pull away the hairy strands. Then with a small sharp knife carefully slice off the kernels. 

Sweetcorn Fritters

Shan Tofu

Shan tofu is made by the Shan people in the east of Burma. It's no relation to soya tofu but made with chickpea flour like polenta. You can slice and eat it cold, or deep-fry like chips.

If you're interested in learning more about Burmese cuisine, here's a recap of Rachel's recent trip to Myanmar. She's also teaching an evening of Burmese Teahouse Cooking 31 May - not to be missed!

Shan Tofu

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Serves: 2

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes plus 2 hours setting

Ingredients

  • 100g gram flour
  • 300ml water
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp peanut oil

Method

  1. Sieve the gram flour with the turmeric and salt into a large bowl.
  2. Whisk the water in to make a smooth thin batter.
  3. Add a teaspoon of oil to a saucepan and heat up. Then add the batter and on a low heat stir vigorously until you have a thick lump free batter, similar to polenta.
  4. Lightly oil a small flat dish or small bread tin and spread the mix into the dish so it is about 1 cm high.
  5. Leave to cool and set solid, which takes a couple of hours.
  6. You can either eat cold sliced with a salad or deep-fry.
  7. To deep fry, slice into thick slices, and blot them with kitchen towel to make sure they are dry. Then deep fry for a minute until golden and crisp on the outside and soft inside.
  8. Serve at once with a peanut, chilli, shoyu, and coriander dipping sauce

Tofu photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

​Garden Salad with Griddled Asparagus and Almonds

Meat Free Monday in spring can only mean one thing: asparagus! The asparagus season is short but plentiful, from mid-April until mid-June. At the cookery school we prefer to make asparagus as simply as possible: steamed, baked or, as in this recipe, griddled to perfection. It’s essential that the griddle is smoking before putting on the asparagus. It should be a brilliant green with a touch of burnt.

Here are more outstanding spring recipes to try, and we also offer many season-specific classes through the year.

Griddled Asparagus Salad

Garden Salad with Griddled Asparagus and Almonds

Serves: 4

Dietary: Vegan Option

Ingredients

  • 100g mix of watercress, spinach leaves and rocket
  • 12 asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 50g whole almonds
  • handful of Italian flat leaved parsley
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Dressing

  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1 un-waxed lemon
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 shallot, very finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • shavings of hard cheese

Method

  1. Griddle the asparagus until just softening, but still with a bite. Set aside.
  2. While the pan is still hot, toast the almonds until they release their natural oils and go slightly brown. 
  3. Take off the heat and chop into small chunks. Set aside.
  4. Mix the salad leaves and the parsley together and place into a bowl. Mix in the asparagus and the almonds.

To make the dressing:

  1. Mix together the olive oil, lemon zest and juice. 
  2. Add the sherry vinegar, finely chopped shallot and sea salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
  3. Add shavings of hard cheese.
  4. Pour enough dressing on the salad to coat the salad leaves, asparagus and almonds.

Italian Garden Asparagus Salad

Wild Garlic Soup

Wild garlic is one of the highlights of our spring foraging courses! Raw wild garlic is very pungent, but when cooked it has a delicate flavour. That flavour can be lost easily, so be generous and add the garlic to the soup towards the end of the cooking. Wild garlic leaves are best when very young, so pick small tender leaves, the moment the garlic begins to flower, the leaves become too strong in flavour. Pick a few flower buds to decorate the soup. Or for an extra decadent touch, garnish with  gougeres, little choux pastry balls filled with cheese, herbs or whatever you'd like. The ultimate soup dumpling! 

Wild Garlic Soup

Dietary: Vegan | Prep 15 minutes | Cooking 30 minutes | Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 250g new potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
  • 125g wild garlic leaves, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 litre vegetable stock or 1 litre water with 1 tsp vegetable bouillon
  • squirt of lemon
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in the rapeseed oil for about 10 minutes, until soft, add the cubed potatoes and quickly stir-fry. 
  2. Add the stock to the onion and potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are just soft, which will take 15 minutes, depending on the size of the cubes of potato.
  3. Add the wild garlic, cover and simmer for a couple of minutes until cooked, but are still a vibrant green colour. Either serve at once chunky or liquidise to a smooth consistency (we use a Froothie Optimum 9200 blender to blitz our soup to silky smooth perfection).
  4. Check for seasoning and add a squirt of lemon juice, salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Decorate with garlic flower buds. Serve hot.

Read on for more Wild Garlic Recipes!

Vegetarian Wild Garlic Soup

Brilliant photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cake

This Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cake was very popular at Demuths restaurant and through popular demand stayed on the menu for over 20 years! If you want to perfect your vegan baking, join one of our vegan cooking courses. There are even courses just for vegan desserts!

You can serve this recipe iced as a cake or warm as a pudding with hot chocolate sauce and vegan ice cream.

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cake

Dietary: Vegan

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 300gms self raising flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 50gms cocoa
  • 250gms caster sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla essence
  • 9 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 175ml orange juice
  • 175ml water

Topping:

  • 250gms icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 50gms vegan sunflower margarine
  • 3 tbsp boiling water

Method:

Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas5/375F.
  2. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add the caster sugar, vanilla essence, sunflower oil, orange juice and water.
  5. Whisk to a batter like consistency. Pour into the prepared tin.
  6. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for approximately 40 minutes or until a skewer when inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Topping:

  1. Sift the icing sugar and the cocoa into a bowl.
  2. Melt the margarine with the boiling water.
  3. Add the margarine mixture to the sugar mixture and mix well.
  4. The sauce will harden as it cools.
  5. As a sauce, serve hot.
  6. As an icing, spread the warm topping over the cake and leave to harden.
4 Wild Leaves to Pick Now

Despite the recent mixed weather, spring really is here - and wild food is appearing all around us! Reasons to get excited about wild food:

  • Colours, flavours, textures, and the special personal touch that supermarket excursions can't offer.
  • The specific and often brief seasonality of these edible treasures gives you new awareness of the natural world.
  • It's a delight to share recipes and creations with your friends. 
  • Once you are confident about recognising wild produce, you'll marvel that food so tasty and nutritious is absolutely free!

NOTE: Most edible wild plants that are worth the trouble of harvesting are easy to identify and difficult to confuse with harmful plants. But be safe. NEVER pick a plant if you are unsure of its identity or which part is safe to eat. If you want to gain foraging confidence, do keep an eye out for our foraging classes with the ever-entertaining Christopher Robbins, check the website or sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date!

Stinging Nettle 

Nettles are hugely versatile, and right now they're at their seasonal best: young, tender and ripe for picking. You won't want to add them raw to a salad as, yes, they do sting. But you can add a small handful of fresh nutritious nettles to smoothies without harm. Cooked nettles can replace spinach in many recipes, and they make a very good soup. To harvest your nettles, wear rubber gloves and only pick the tender new leaves. Like spinach, nettles reduce down dramatically when cooked so pick a carrier bag full for 4-6 servings. When you get them home, spread them out on a tray and as they wilt, they will lose their sting.

Dandelion

These nutritious leaves have a bitter action that stimulates digestion and liver function. Sometimes they are blanched by covering with a flowerpot to reduce the bitterness. The leaves make excellent salad, and you can use them in place of chicory in many recipes including my fave e cicoria. The petals are also delightful in jams, cookies, and sprinkled as decoration in spring dishes.

Wild Garlic

Wild garlic, also known as ramsons, grows in woods or damp shaded banks. There can be little risk of mistaking it as the leaves smell richly of garlic. Be sure to pick the garlic leaves when they are young and tender. Its flowers are white and star-like in clusters and make a striking addition to salads. The leaves are delicious in soups or folded into an omelette.

Sheep Sorrel 

Sheep sorrel (on the right side of the hat!) is one of several wild sorrels you can find around the UK. They produce fresh leaves in the spring and in June/July send up a 30-45 cms high narrow flowering spike with tiny rust-coloured flowers above the grass meadow they inhabit. The leaves have a wonderful sharp acidic tang. Add sorrel to salads, frittatas, or sauces. 

Do you have tales of foraging adventure and success?

Recipes you'd like to share?

Please do comment below or get in touch via Facebook and Twitter!

We love to chat about foraging!

How to Prepare Fresh Herbs

So, you've successfully  grown your own herbs. Great! Now what? Earlier this week we recommended some great vegetarian dishes to showcase your fresh herbs:

And now here are some tips for preparing them in a way that will show them off to greatest effect!

Vegetarian Bangers and Mash

Washing Fresh Herbs

 Wash herbs and leave them to air dry in a colander before using, but make sure they are dry before you start to chop, otherwise you will end up with a green mush. 

Waste Not

If you decide to remove parsley or coriander stalks, save them for making your own  soup stock

 Use fresh herbs to garnish a soup

The Golden Ratio

As you prepare the herbs, keep them in separate bowls as you will likely want to add them in different proportions. For cauliflower tabouleh, for example, I use twice as much parsley as mint and coriander.

To Chop...

With a large chef’s knife, pile the herbs into the middle of your board and with your left hand on top of the blade, chop backwards and forwards over the herbs. Or use a mezzaluna. If you're like me and enjoy seeing the leaves in your dishes, don’t chop too finely.

How to Chop Fresh Herbs

...Or Not To Chop

Basil doesn’t like being chopped as it bruises the delicate leaves. It’s best to gently tear the leaves instead. Or roll them up and chiffonade with a very sharp knife.

Chopping Fresh Herbs By Hand

To make salsa and pesto, I do like to use a pestle and mortar rather than a food processor.

Storing Fresh Herbs

The best way to store fresh herbs is un-chopped in a loose plastic bag in the fridge crisper. If you stick herbs in a jar of water, you end up with rotting, smelly stalks. And you wouldn't do that to your own herbs!

How to Use Fresh Herbs

Let us know if you have any questions about preparing herbs.

Or is there something we forgot?

That's what comments are for, and we value your input!

Comment here or chat with us on Facebook and Twitter.

And for more herby inspiration, check out our post: 4 Herbs to Grow at Home

4 Herbs To Grow At Home

Now’s the time to plan your herb garden! Actually, there is no need to have an actual garden, so long as you have a balcony or small outside space that is light and sunny. Herbs don’t like shade or damp; like us, they enjoy warmth and sunshine! You can grow herbs in old buckets or large olive oil tins (remember to make drainage holes), window boxes, or plant pots.

Herbs have a magical ability to transform a simple combination of ingredients into a really special dish. I like to use copious quantities of fresh herbs. The ones I use most are flat parsley, mint, coriander and basil. They are essential to dishes like  FrittatasTaboulehSalsa VerdeChermoula, and Pesto.

Read on to learn about  preparing your herbs, and if you're interested in wild herbs take a look at our upcoming foraging classes!

Growing Herbs at Home

Basil 

Also called sweet basil, an annual herb originally native to India and Iran. Basil is sweet, peppery and pungent. It is the main ingredient in  pesto, and also works well torn onto pizzas or added to a ratatouille. It's the perfect complement to tomato, so try it in a simple tomato and mozzarella salad with lashings of the best extra virgin olive oil. 

Growing Tips: Basil prefers warmth. I generally have more success with basil in a conservatory/green house or on a sunny windowsill than outside, unless we get a hot Mediterranean summer! There are a huge amount of varieties, but I like the common basil, small Greek basil and purple basil best.

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Fresh Basil

Coriander

Also known as cilantro, a feathery annual herb native to the Mediterranean and Middle East. Coriander has a very pungent flavour that has only in the last 20 years become popular in Britain. It used to be considered an odious foreign flavour and not fit to eat! Fresh coriander can be used generously by the handful. It's the signature herb in Thai cooking, where they use not only the leaves but also the root in their curry spice pastes. Try coriander in  salsa verde, spicy rice cakes, coconut laksas, and Mexican salsas. Coriander helps with digestion, which may be why it pairs so well with spicy foods.

Growing Tips: Coriander grows easily in tubs, but will go to seed very quickly in hot dry weather.

How to Grow Coriander at Home

 

Parsley 

Parsley is native to the Mediterranean. There are two main types of parsley. The short curly parsley is traditionally used in British cooking, synonymous with parsley sauce and garnishes. There's also the flat leaf variety, which I prefer. Add lots of parsley to taboulehbangers and mash, and as a garnish to many soups. Never discard parsley stalks as they make a wonderful stock. Parsley is also good for you, as it increases the expulsion of uric acid and also freshens your breath.

Growing Tips: Parsley is tricky to germinate and likes well-drained soil. Unfortunately, if you grow it outside, slugs love it. Pick profusely to stop it going to seed. It should survive over winter. 

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Fresh Parsley

Mint 

There are many varieties: spearmint or common mint, Boles mint with soft rounded leaves, pineapple mint, ginger mint and apple mint. Mint is important to many cultures.  Coriander and mint chutney is one of my favourite additions to an Indian meal. Turkish pea, feta and mint crescents are delicious and refreshing. In Greece mint is used in traditional salads and tzatziki. Mint is good for digestion, so enjoy at the end of a meal as a tea. Simply take sprigs of fresh mint, pop them in a teapot, pour on boiling water and leave to stew for a few minutes. Mint is also amazing in a healthy smoothie, such as Monica's vegan Shamrock Shake.

Growing Tips: Mint is easy to grow and is best kept in a pot to contain the roots as it will take over your garden otherwise.

Fresh Mint Tea

Do you have any tips on growing herbs at home? 

Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!

​Vegan Chocolate and Coconut Mousse

This is a lovely silky, rich chocolate mousse, a really decadent vegan dessert!

Chocolate and Coconut Mousse

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Serves: 6

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30mins
  • Cool time: 1 hour
  • Set time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 100g water
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 75g vegan dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp vegan cocoa powder, sieved
  • 3 tbsp espresso coffee
  • 130g coconut cream (Blue Dragon brand, chilled for one hour)

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

Method

  1. Put the water, sugar and dark chocolate together in a pan and heat gently until the chocolate has melted.
  2. Mix the cornflour and cocoa together in a little bowl with the espresso coffee to make a thin paste. Mix a spoon of the hot chocolate mix from the pan into the cornflour mixture, then add the cornflour mixture into the pan and simmer very gently, stirring continuously until it forms a thick cream.
  3. Sieve the whole mixture into a bowl to remove any lumps.
  4. Leave to cool to room temperature but not until it sets, either stir it over a bowl of iced water for a few minutes or put it in the fridge. It will take about 1 hour in the fridge.
  5. Whisk the chilled coconut cream until thick and doubled in volume.
  6. Put the cooled chocolate mixture into a mixing bowl and add ¼ of the coconut cream, whisk to loosen the mixture, and then gently whisk the rest of the coconut cream in.
  7. Pour into little pots and chill in the fridge for an hour until ready to serve. Can be made the night before and kept in the fridge as it will set firmer.
Healthy Vegetarian Comfort Food

Vegetarian comfort food recipes for the times you just want to curl up with a good book and a dish of something warm and nourishing! 

Comforting Mains

Vegetarian sausages are great as bangers and mash or as part of a Full English breakfast - or dinner! Salad doesn't sound like a comfort food, but try a roasted veg warm salad for some serious nutrition. And a quick hearty curry or dal are always a comfort.

Cozy Soups

There's almost nothing more comforting than a piping hot soup on a chilly day. These are some of our favorite hearty vegetarian soups to see you through! Garnish with greens, avocado, pumpkin seeds and the like for maximum nutrition.  

Occasional Sweet Treats

If you're craving a comforting snack or pudding, try to get fruit and veg involved! Nutritionally balanced smoothies are great in a bowl with lots of healthy garnish: nuts, seeds, muesli, grated veg, and berries. But sometimes you just need a sticky toffee pudding! At the cookery school we are all about balanced enjoyment of food. 

Do you have any tips for healthy comfort food? We genuinely enjoy hearing from you!

Get in touch via Twitter and/or Facebook!

Photos by Rob Wicks @EatPictures

​Gözleme

Gözleme are paper-thin breads stuffed with a variety of fillings and pan fried. They are traditionally served hot by street vendors. The fillings vary around Turkey and often include minced meat. This one uses leeks, spring onions, spinach and feta cheese but you can use cooked vegetables such as potatoes and squash, anything mashable works well. You can also add different herbs and spices to your taste.

In Turkey, this pastry is deftly rolled out with a really long thin rolling pin. The dough is wrapped around the pins as it rolls out. If you want to give this a try, you can improvise with a long piece of clean wooden dowel. To see this in action visit  Bristanbul Deli on the Gloucester Road, Bristol where a lady rolls Gözleme all day long in front of you!

Gözleme

Flatbreads with Spinach and Cheese Filling

Serves: 6 stuffed breads

Ingredients:

Bread

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 120ml warm water
  • 30ml olive oil

Filling

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large leek, cut in half lengthways and sliced finely
  • 1 bunch spring onions, sliced finely
  • 250g spinach, washed
  • 100g feta cheese (or similar Turkish cheese such as Baynez Penir) crumbled
  • 100g haloumi, grated
  • A small handful of parsley, dill and mint, finely chopped
  • black pepper
  • Aleppo pepper and sumac 

Method

Bread

  1. Place the flour in a bowl and add the salt. Make a well in the centre and add the olive oil. 
  2. Stirring with one finger gradually add the water until you have dough that feels soft and pliable. 
  3. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until it is really soft and then divide into 6 balls. 
  4. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Filling

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. On a low heat gently soften the leek and the spring onions for 10 minutes.
  2. Wilt the spinach in a large pan, then drain, refresh under cold water, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 
  3. Chop the spinach roughly, and add to the leek and spring onions and mix well to combine. 
  4. Add a generous pinch black pepper. You won't need to add salt as the cheese will be salty enough. 
  5. Divide into 6 portions, and set aside to cool.

Gözleme

  1. Sprinkle some flour onto your work surface, and using a rolling pin, roll out a ball of dough until it is as thin as possible. The dough should form a circle with a diameter of about 20 cm. Make sure the dough has enough flour beneath it to prevent it sticking to the worktop.
  2. On one half of the circle of dough spread a portion of the vegetable mix, some of the fresh herbs, grated cheeses, and sprinkle with a little Aleppo pepper and sumac. 
  3. Fold the edges of the other half of circle over the dough so that it meets the other side of the circle to form a semi circle and press the edges firmly to seal.
  4. Heat a large frying pan over a low heat. 
  5. Increase the heat to medium to high. Carefully lift one Gözleme onto the palm of your hand, brush off any excess flour and lightly brush with olive oil. Turn it into your pan oil side down, and cook until the distinctive brown “eyes” appear. Brush the top with oil then turn over and cook the other side. Remove and serve immediately, or keep the cooked bread warm under a tea towel or in a warm oven until all the Gozleme are ready.
  6. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.

Tips

  • Serve the Gozleme while still hot with Ezme salad, garlic yoghurt sauce, and pickled chillies and olives.

  • Aleppo pepper is a Turkish dried and flaked chilli pepper, not very hot, similar to an ancho in heat levels with a sweet slightly smoky tomato-like flavour. Use instead of paprika and black pepper as it will add colour and a little kick of spicy heat.
  • Sumac is the dried red berries of a Middle Eastern Bush Rhus coriaria, has a sour flavour and is a flavour enhancer. Can be used as a substitute for lemon.
  • Try sheep feta if you have a problem with cow dairy products.

Mouthwatering photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Waste Not! 10 Ways to Reduce Food Waste

Happy Earth Day! Here are some tips from Rachel on how to help the environment and enjoy every last bit of veg!

We're heading into a time of plenty for gardeners, and nothing tastes better than freshly picked veggies. But with gluts of produce we have to find creative ways not to let this bounty go to waste. Even if you don't grow your own, it's easy to buy far too much at the supermarket. According to WRAP, the sustainability agency, households in the UK are still throwing away an astonishing 4.2 tonnes of household food and drink annually. For me, forward planning is the key to avoiding food waste. Having a plan for your extra veg bits is not only sensible, it can profoundly change the way you shop, prep, and cook.

Shopping

  • To avoid over-buying, try shopping at a farmers market or signing up for a weekly veg box. Becoming invested in local seasonal produce will keep cooking interesting, so you don't get into a rut of making the same dishes. With a veg box, challenge yourself to use every last bit!
  • Don't snub veg with leaves! Beetroot tops cook up like a very tasty spinach while carrot tops make a great pesto. If you do buy carrots with tops on, remove and use the carrot tops at once. Otherwise the leaves continue to take the goodness out of the roots and you end up with soft bendy carrots.
  • To keep asparagus ends for stock and soup, you only need to cut off a tiny bit. Buy whole bunches, not just the tips, and avoid asparagus that has been flown from Peru. Especially at this time of year when local asparagus is growing up the road.

Preparing

  • Don't let your veg go bad! The best place to store veg is in the cool and dark. Fridges are too cold for tomatoes and ruin their flavour.
  • There is no need to peel veg if organic or home grown. With peeling you loose some of the nutrients and the skin is tasty. Even with squashes, you can slice with the peel on. It tastes great when roasted and you can also roast the seeds. Use the roasted seeds for snacks or garnish.
  • You don't need to make every meal from scratch. When you're making a soup today, set aside some of the ingredients for a salad tomorrow. Your freezer is also great for stashing excess fresh vegetables as well as chopped ginger, spice pastes, stocks, and prepared meals.
  • If the veg really isn't good enough to eat, then turn it into compost for the garden. I find the best compost makers are simple slatted wooden bins with lots of air. It’s best to have two, one to fill up and leave for a year, whilst you fill the next one up. Only put in raw veg, not cooked, as this attracts vermin, and always layer the veg with leaf mulch.

IMG_3242

Frozen berries and bits of veg - greens, carrots, beetroot, etc. - are great for smoothies!

Cooking

  • Nibble on broccoli stalks or cauliflower stalks, rather than throw them away. They have a crunchy apple taste and make interesting crudités or are lovely just dipped in a touch of Malden sea salt.
  • Roast bits and bobs in an impromptu gratin! At the cookery school we like to layer them vertically so you wind up with lots of crispy edges and a beautiful display.
  • Be creative with your veg gluts. It's fun! You can make fresh juices and smoothies for breakfast, preserve produce in jams and chutneys, or have a go at fermenting. 
  • One of my favourite ways to reduce waste is to make homemade vegetable stock using vegetables that are getting past their best. Stock is the secret to delicious dishes, particularly soups, risottos, paellas and stews. If you make lots of stock on a day when you have time and plenty of vegetables to use up, then freeze small quantities (about 500ml) in sealable freezer bags you’ll always have some ready when you need it.

Vegetarian Pho

Vegetable Stock

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Makes: Approx. 1 litre

Time: Prep 10min, Cook 1hr

Ingredients

  • 1.5litres water
  • 1 medium onion, quartered, skin left on
  • 2 carrots, cut in halves
  • 2 celery stalks, cut in halves
  • 1/4 of a fennel bulb
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 parsley stems
  • 8 whole black peppercorns

Method

  1. In a large saucepan put in all the ingredients, bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently until the vegetables are cooked and the stock has reduced by a third, which takes about 1 hour. 
  2. Drain the stock into a heatproof bowl through a colander and discard the cooked vegetables. You will be left with golden, clear stock, which can be used immediately, will keep in the fridge for three days, or can be decanted into freezer bags and frozen.

Variations

  • Add asparagus when in season as the stalks have a lovely rich taste. Try adding dried mushrooms and a variety of herbs. For Asian flavours add lemongrass, chilli and coriander.
  • Do use: onions (keep the skin on for colour), celery, carrots, leeks, fennel, asparagus, dried porcini, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley, thyme
  • Don’t use: potatoes, peppers, cabbages, kale, cauliflower. They all have a bitter taste. And go easy on strong herbs such as rosemary and sage.
Puy Lentil Salad with Watercress Pesto

This is a delicious and satisfying salad that can be served on its own with some good bread, or as a starter or side dish. It would also be lovely topped with grilled or fried haloumi slices. Watercress pesto has a lovely peppery flavour. It's worth making a double quantity to keep for another meal, as it is goes extremely well with tomatoes, grilled vegetables, cooked grains and pasta.

If you're keen to include more dishes like this in your daily life, take a look at our upcoming vegan or fast and delicious classes for inspiration!

Puy Lentil Salad with Watercress Pesto

Serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as starter or side dish

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 75g dried puy lentils
  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 medium beetroot
  • 6 radishes
  • 75g watercress (or a bag of mixed leaves that include watercress)
  • 50g rocket
  • 50g baby spinach
  • 25g hazelnuts, skinned and toasted
  • olive oil to drizzle
  • optional: baby nasturtium leaves for garnish

Method

To cook the lentils 

  1. Place the lentils in a saucepan with the onion, bay leaf and thyme, bring to the boil on a high heat, then lower and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are tender but still firm. 
  2. Drain and remove the onion and herbs. Stir 2-3 tablespoons of the watercress pesto through the warm lentils, adding a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. 
  3. Add a pinch of salt and ground black pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

To assemble the salad

  1. Peel and slice the beetroot very thinly with a mandolin or sharp knife. Slice the radishes thinly. Chop the hazelnuts roughly.
  2. Spoon the lentils onto a serving platter and pile the watercress, rocket and spinach on top.
  3. Arrange the beetroot and radishes amongst the leaves to look pretty, and then spoon drops of the pesto over the salad. You may not want to use all the pesto, so keep the remainder in a jar or plastic container with a layer of oil on the top, in the fridge for 3-5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
  4. Finally drizzle over a little olive oil and scatter the chopped hazelnuts and nasturtium leaves.


Watercress Pesto

Ingredients

  • 25g hazelnuts, skinned and toasted
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 75g watercress, stalks removed
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp agave syrup or honey
  • pinch of salt

Method

  1. Place the hazelnuts and garlic in a processor or blender and pulse a few times till the nuts are chopped.
  2. Add the watercress and the oil, and pulse again till thick, but not totally puréed. The pesto is good with a bit of texture.
  3. Decant the pesto into a bowl and stir in the lemon juice and agave syrup and season to taste.
Laksa Lemak

Laksa Lemak is a Malay coconut and noodle soup from Malacca. It’s a meal in itself; very rich and spicy and best served in deep bowls with chopsticks and a spoon to slurp up the coconut broth.

Laksa Lemak

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Ingredients

Spice Paste

  • 5cm piece of galangal, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, finely chopped
  • 5cm piece fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped
  • ½ tsp salt

Noodle Soup

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 banana shallots, finely sliced
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tin coconut milk (400ml)
  • 500ml boiling water
  • 2 lime leaves
  • 100g baby asparagus spears
  • 2 pak choy, washed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt to taste
  • 200g dried thin flat rice noodles

Garnish

  • 200g plain tofu, sliced into matchsticks
  • 100ml sunflower oil for frying the tofu
  • 4 spring onions, sliced into rings
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced
  • handful of micro herbs such as lemon balm-alternatively use pea shoots

Method

  1. Start by making the spice paste, blend the galangal, garlic, chilli, lemongrass and turmeric with the salt in a mini food processor to a smooth paste.
  2. Prepare the garnishes; fry the tofu matchsticks in sunflower oil until golden and crisp, drain on kitchen paper. Slice the spring onions and red chilli.
  3. To make the noodle soup, heat a large saucepan, add the sunflower oil and fry the banana shallots until soft and translucent.
  4. Add the spice paste, stir-fry until fragrant and the colour of the paste has turned a shade darker.
  5. Add the red pepper and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
  6. Pour in the coconut milk, water and lime leaves, bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently uncovered for 5 minutes.
  7. Simmer the rice noodles in a separate pan of boiling water for 2 minutes until tender, then drain.
  8. Add the asparagus and pak choy to the coconut broth and simmer for a minute.
  9. Add the sugar, lime juice and salt to taste.
  10. Divide the cooked rice noodles into 4 deep Chinese bowls. Ladle the laksa broth over the noodles. Top with the fried tofu, spring onions, sliced chillies and finish with a few micro herbs for garnish.

Tasty photography by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Wild Garlic and Ricotta Ravioli

Wild garlic is in its prime right now! It adds a wonderful twist to this traditional ravioli filling with a simple sage and butter sauce. We love teaching how to make ravioli on our vegetarian Italian classes because there are endless options for fillings. A terrific opportunity to show off seasonal veg! The only challenge is saving room for the tiramisu...

Freshly picked wild garlic

Fresh Pasta Ravioli with Spinach and Wild Garlic Ricotta 

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • basic egg pasta dough
  • 125g spinach, wilted
  • 125g wild garlic leaves, chopped
  • handful of fresh herbs – basil, parley, thyme, chopped
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • 2 egg yolks
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a grating of nutmeg

Method:

  1. Make the full amount of our basic egg pasta dough and allow to rest.
  2. Steam the spinach, cool and squeeze out all the liquid.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, spinach, wild garlic, fresh herbs and season well with salt, pepper and nutmeg. When the seasoning is right, mix in the egg yolks.
  4. Roll out the dough in the pasta machine to make long sheets 12cm wide.
  5. Clean the kitchen table and sprinkle with semolina.
  6. Lay a sheet of pasta out on the table and cut into 12cm squares. Place 4 teaspoons sized spoonfuls of filling mixture on each square, each blob an equal distance apart. Lightly brush the pasta sheet around the blobs of filling with water and lay another square on top. Press to seal the edges around each blob of filling then cut the ravioli to separate them.
  7. Taking one at a time, press lightly with your fingers all round the edge, making sure you squeeze out all the air, or they will burst when you cook them.
  8. Place on a tray sprinkled with semolina, cover with a clean cloth until needed.
  9. To cook, fill a large saucepan three quarters full with water, add a very good large pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cook a few ravioli at a time, they cook in a couple of minutes, take out with a slotted spoon and serve at once with Sage Butter.

Tips:

  • Buy a good quality Italian Pasta maker. The golden rule is never wash the pasta maker as it will rust and be ruined. 
  • For a vegan pasta replace the eggs with half water and half olive oil.
  • Freeze any extra un-cooked ravioli. It only takes a couple of minutes more to cook straight from frozen.
  • You can fill ravioli with anything you like-roasted vegetables of sautéed mushrooms are good, or roasted squash with sage and garlic, and try different cheeses.

Read on for more fantastic wild garlic recipes!

Wild Garlic and Ricotta Ravioli

Basic Egg Pasta

All of our students enjoy making fresh pasta! It's a great source of pride to be able to make your own. And it's surprisingly easy! Basic egg pasta is the perfect recipe to start your pasta experiments. We have some additional homemade pasta tips from Rachel and also offer pasta-making classes if you want some guidance or practice before investing in your own machine.

Basic Egg Pasta

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 300g pasta flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • semolina for rolling

Method:

  1. Place the flour in a large bowl or in the food processor.
  2. Beat the eggs and add to the flour. If making by hand rub the eggs into the flour, to evenly distribute the egg throughout the flour. If using a food processor whiz until you have a breadcrumb consistency.
  3. Gather the dough into a ball. The dough will be stiffer than bread or pastry, but not so stiff that it crumbles when you knead it, if too stiff add a touch of olive oil.
  4. Knead until smooth and then wrap in Clingfilm and chill for an hour before rolling.
  5. To roll the dough set the pasta machine on the widest setting and start rolling about a third of the pasta, keeping the remaining pasta wrapped, through this setting, folding and refolding about 10 times.
  6. Now gradually reduce the width between the rollers until the pasta is the thickness you require.
  7. Clean the kitchen table and to prevent sticking dust with semolina, lay out the pasta sheets in a single layer. Before rolling out the rest of the pasta, cut into the required shapes and fill, as it’s much easier to shape when still pliable.
  8. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Tips:

  • For spinach pasta add a small handful of cooked and chopped spinach, very well drained to the dough.
  • Buy a good quality Italian Pasta maker and the golden rule is never wash the pasta maker as it will rust and be ruined. For a vegan pasta replace the eggs with half water and half olive oil.
  • Ravioli is a great first dish to try with this pasta recipe.

Spring Asparagus Ceviche

Vegetarian ceviche has become a mainstay on our South American courses and Vegetarian Diploma courses, and this Spring edition is no exception. Our spring asparagus ceviche is a quick-to-make raw Spring salad with a zesty lemon and tarragon ceviche dressing. This recipe was featured in the May 2016 issue of Vegetarian Living Magazine.

Spring Asparagus Ceviche

Serves: 4 starter size or as side salads

Prep time: 20 minutes

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Ingredients

  • 80g mange tout or sugar snap peas, sliced
  • 100g broad beans (podded weight)
  • 6 radishes, sliced
  • 8 large asparagus spears, peeled into long slices
  • 3 small young carrots, peeled into long slices
  • ¼ fennel, peeled into long slices

Tarragon Dressing

  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice and 3/4 tsp fine lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp finely sliced tarragon leaves plus a few whole leaves to decorate

Salad WebRes-2239

Method

  1. Prepare the salad vegetables. Double pod the broad beans. Trim the asparagus and carrots and peel down the length into strips. Peel the fennel into thin slices. Place the peeled vegetables into a bowl of ice cold water to crisp and curl. Slice the radishes and mange tout.
  2. To make the dressing, mix together the white wine vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and salt and add in the chopped tarragon and lemon zest.
  3. Drain the sliced vegetables and place them all together in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix to coat them.
  4. Arrange the vegetables on the plates or onto one large sharing plate. Garnish with tarragon leaves.
  5. Serve straight away. 

Salad WebRes-2220

Colourful spring photography by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

Spear Delight, Vegetarian Living, May 2016

The May 2016 issue of Vegetarian Living is now available and features my latest column of seasonal cooking ideas, tips, recipes and more. This month is all about asparagus which for me is the finest of vegetables. Discovery various varieties of asparagus and how to use them in recipes such as laksa lemak, char-grilled asparagus with herb pappardelle, and spring asparagus ceviche.

Click on the link below to read the article in full:

Spear Delight, Vegetarian Living, May 2016

My Favourite Asparagus Recipes

Asparagus is, for me, the queen of vegetables, and it’s best eaten with the fingers as fresh as possible. We're starting to see the first asparagus crops in late March, but the best of the season is from April to mid-June. Traditionally it would not be cut after the longest day of the year, so that the plants can replenish their root reserves for next year.

Tips

Shopping: To judge whether asparagus is fresh and good quality just look at the small bracts, or leaves, which grow just behind the tips. These should be well formed, lie flat along the stem, and not be shooting. The cut at the base of the spear should appear fresh and feel hard rather than spongy. This cut end is often tough and should be broken off before cooking. Just bend the spear near the cut end and it will snap off crisply leaving the tender spears for cooking. Don’t throw away the tougher ends. Add them to stocks and soups as they are full of flavour.

Preparing: Asparagus can be eaten as thin stalks, which are great for stir-fries and with pasta, or as chunky spears, which can be simply grilled or baked and served with a drizzle of olive oil. Either way, here are a few basic techniques for preparing asparagus:

  • Cook in the traditional way in an asparagus steamer.
  • Griddle them. Prepare and wash the asparagus and put straight on a very, very hot griddle. It’s essential that the griddle is smoking before putting on the asparagus. Griddle for 2 minutes on one side and then turn over to griddle for two more minutes. Serve at once. The asparagus should be a brilliant green with a touch of burnt.
  • Bake in a hot oven with the asparagus rolled in extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with a little Malden sea salt.


Favourite Aspragus Recipes

Asparagus Tart

What are your favourite ways to enjoy asparagus? I'd love to hear them. 

Share your recipes, stories and tips here in the comments, or on Twitter or Facebook.

Images by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

Herb-Pressed Pasta with Chargrilled Asparagus

We've just had a splendid first week of our Vegetarian Diploma course! Our talented students did a great job with this dish of fresh herb-pressed pasta. If that sounds like something you'd enjoy, we do advise investing in a pasta machine. If you're not sure, read our tips for homemade pasta - some dishes don't require a machine! And keep an eye on our upcoming pasta classes if you'd like to try a machine before buying.

The main components are this dish are the fresh pasta and griddled asparagus with cherry tomatoes. We also recommend serving with a homemade tomato sauce and dabs of wild garlic pesto. The pasta and sauces can be made in advance. (Make a large quantity of the sauce to enjoy in other dishes.) Then just griddle the veg and serve to your delighted friends!

Herb-Pressed Pasta

Dietary: Vegan

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 100g 00 pasta flour
  • 50ml water
  • Semolina for rolling
  • 15g each of soft herbs – basil, dill, tarragon

Method

  1. Place the pasta flour in a mixing bowl.
  2. Mix the water into the flour and knead to make a firm dough.
  3. The dough will be firmer than bread dough but not so dry that it crumbles when you knead it.
  4. Knead for a few minutes until smooth and then wrap in clingfilm and chill for half an hour before rolling.
  5. Sprinkle the table with semolina. Work with half of the dough at a time to make 2 long strips of pasta. Roll out the dough into a thin sheet. You can use the rolling pin to begin, then finish by passing the dough through a pasta machine to the setting before the last.
  6. Pick the herb leaves off the stems. Lay the leaves over one half of the pasta strip, leaving a little space between each leaf.
  7. Fold the other side of the pasta over and press gently with the rolling pin. Roll through the machine on the setting before the last thinnest setting a couple of times so that the herb leaves are well pressed and spread out through the dough.
  8. Trim the edges then cut the sheets down into short lasagna lengths.
  9. Bring a large pan of water to the boil add a large pinch of salt. Boil the pasta sheets for 2 minutes until tender. Drain well before serving.

Chargrilled Asparagus with Cherry Tomatoes

Dietary: Vegan

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus, remove the woody ends
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 basil leaves, finely sliced
  • To serve with pasta: homemade tomato sauce and wild garlic pesto

Method

  1. Heat a chargrill pan until it is so hot it is smoking. Very lightly brush the asparagus with a drop of oil and a tiny pinch of salt. 
  2. Place on the chargrill for a couple of minutes to create a few black lines, turning half way through cooking. Put to one side.
  3. Place the tomatoes skin side down on the chargrill and sprinkle with a little salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Cook for a minute, just on the skin-side to create black lines, remove carefully from the chargrill pan.

Serve as an Open Lasagne

  1. Warm the tomato sauce.
  2. Arrange on a plate the chargrilled asparagus and roasted cherry tomatoes in between pasta sheets. 
  3. Add dabs of wild garlic pesto, sprinkle with optional vegetarian parmesan and drizzle the tomato sauce around the plate. 
  4. Finish with finely sliced basil leaves.
Rachel’s Tomato Sauce

This is a very simple quick tomato sauce flavoured with cinnamon. Ideal for a pasta sauce or thicken down for a pizza topping.

Tomato Sauce

Dietary: Vegan

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Fry the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes to soften then add the garlic. Fry for another minute.
  2. Add the vegetable stock and tomatoes. Then add the cinnamon stick and simmer for about 25 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down and reduced to a thick sauce.
  3. Remove the cinnamon stick and season to taste. Leave slightly chunky or blend to a smooth consistency.
Food and Travel, May 2016

The May 2016 issue of Food and Travel Magazine features a review of our cookery school and our Totally Moorish class on page 107. 

"Thanks to teachers as friendly as they are enthusiastic and knowledgeable, the day truly marks a return to the heart of cooking: honest, unpretentious, spoon-licking good food complemented by lovely company."

Learn more about our Totally Moorish Cookery Course and our other Moroccan cookery courses, including dates and booking information, by visiting our course calendar.

BBC Good Food, April 2016

The April 2016 issue of BBC Good Food Magazine features a review our our Gourmet Vegan Cookery courses. 

Verdict: Fresh vegan pasta was a revelation. I couldn't taste the difference from the egg version, and the addition of herbs gave it a beautiful stained glass window effect. This course proves that vegan food can be exciting, and will inspire you to be inventive in the kitchen.

Learn more about our Gourmet Vegan Cookery Course and other vegan cookery courses (including dates and booking information) in our course calendar.

Patatas Bravas

We are, as always, so excited about the return of spring produce! New potatoes have a delicate taste and firm texture and don’t need to be peeled. Our favourite new potatoes are the kidney-shaped Jerseys and yellow Charlottes.

We recommend serving spicy Patatas Bravas as part of a selection of cold tapas, or heated as a side dish. You can serve with salmorejoromesco, or aioli sauces.

Patatas Bravas

Spicy Potatoes

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo new potatoes - halved
  • 2 stems of rosemary
  • 2 tbsp olive oil to roast
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and diced
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. In a large baking tin mix the potatoes with the rosemary, olive oil, diced red chilli, smoked paprika and chopped garlic. 
  2. Roast in a hot oven for 30–40 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes, until they are crispy and golden. 
  3. Season to taste.

Salmorejo

Salmorejo, a gazpacho-style dip, is of the most popular dishes on our Spanish Andalucian Tapas class. It's a simple puree of tomato, peppers, garlic, and herbs. The magic ingredient: a bit of bread to thicken things up. This is a light, refreshing dip for a warm spring or summer day, perfect for parties and can be personalised with various toppings such as hard-boiled eggs, diced cucumbers, peppers and chilies. 

Salmorejo

Andalucian Gazpacho-style Dip

Dietary: Vegan Option

Makes: A large bowl of Salmorejo, plenty for a tapas party - halve the recipe if you are making it for fewer people.

Ingredients

  • 500g tomatoes, cored
  • 1/2 green pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 150g white bread
  • 75ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 50ml sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • salt and pepper

Toppings

  • Chopped hard-boiled eggs (optional) 
  • Peeled and finely chopped cucumber 
  • Finely chopped red peppers or chillies 
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley  

Method

  1. Soak the bread in water, leave for 10 minutes and then squeeze dry. Place the garlic and peppers in a large blender or food processor and puree until smooth (we use our Froothie Optimum 9400 power blender). Add the tomatoes and blend again.
  2. Add the damp bread bit by bit, mixing well in between each bit, then add the oil and sherry vinegar, tomato puree, paprika and sugar and blend again.
  3. Season to taste.
  4. Top with your choice of topping. Traditional ones include chopped hard boiled eggs, diced cucumber, red pepper and chilli.

Tips

  • The tomato puree in the recipe is added to compensate for the colour and flavour of English tomatoes! If you are using ripe, tasty tomatoes you may wish to leave out this ingredient.
  • You'll typically find salmorejo in Andalucian bars in small dishes served with “Picos” (small bread sticks). Also give it a try with our spicy Patatas Bravas!

Salmorejo

Homemade Pasta: Tips and Recipes

Making homemade pasta is fun and a lot easier than most people think. Don't be put off by the hardware of pasta machines. They are just like any other kitchen device that lets you create interesting and delicious food - and they aren't always necessary. Anyone can make pasta, and we hope you'll give it a try. We offer pasta-making classes if you want some guidance or practice before investing in pasta supplies.

Setting the Scene

You don't want to feel rushed, so plan a time that works for you. It could be a weekend morning or a rainy afternoon, whenever you will feel relaxed and ready to create! It also helps to have a pasta partner. This could be a great romantic or friend date. You could plan an afternoon of pasta-making and an evening of pasta-eating with a group of friends.

What You'll Need

As our Demuths team member Monica points out, you don't need a machine to make pasta at home. She and her sister made an outstanding chestnut flour pasta by rolling the dough very thin and cutting it with a pizza slicer. This is more laborious than using a machine, though. So if you really love pasta you might want to consider treating yourself!

If you decide to invest in a pasta machine, the golden rule is never to wash it. It will rust and be ruined. To clean simply brush off any flour or dried dough with a pastry brush. Store in a dry place in its box, and it will help you make pasta for life!

Choosing Your Flour

Pasta flour is made from durum wheat, which is a ‘hard’ wheat with a high protein and gluten content. In Italy, flour is know by type - 1, 0, or 00 - which refers to how finely the flour has been milled. Type 1 is coarse and type 00 (doppia zero) is super-fine. You will need to buy 00 or 0 pasta flour. At the cookery school we like Doves Farm organic pasta flour.

Pale yellow semolina is also made from durum wheat and is essential to stop the dough sticking to the table or pasta machine. Medium semolina is ideal for making pasta.

Notes on Ravioli

We love teaching how to make ravioli because there are endless options for fillings, and they offer a terrific opportunity for showing off the season's vegetables. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • When you make the ravioli, its essential that you squeeze all the air out as you fold the pasta over the filling, otherwise they can explode when you cook them.
  • The ravioli fillings are up to you. In spring we love wild garlic and ricotta. Make sure you season the filling very well as otherwise the ravioli will be bland.
  • When cooking the ravioli, salt the water generously. There's no need to add oil.
  • Serve cooked pasta straight away with a simple sage butter or a salsa verde.
  • Freeze any extra un-cooked ravioli. It only takes a couple of minutes more to cook straight from frozen.

Making Squash Ravioli

Recipes

Here are some recipes to get you inspired and making your own pasta for friends and family!

How to Make a Healthy Smoothie

Our resident social media maven and smoothie-making expert Monica Shaw is here to help us get fit and beat the January blues with some tips from her book, Smarter Fitter Smoothies (available in print and as an ebook). All of the recipes in the book are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, inherently paleo and perfect for anyone. You can find more smoothie tips and recipes on her blog at smarterfitter.com. Follow Monica on Twitter @monicashaw.

Smarter Fitter Smoothies Book Cover

Just because a smoothie is a smoothie doesn’t make it automatically healthy. Many smoothies, including many pre-bottled smoothies, are full of as much sugar as a can of Coca-Cola. Even if it’s not refined cane sugar, fruit sugar is still sugar and all that energy (and Calories) can add up to a real sugar crash not long after you’ve had your last straw-full. 

So what makes a smoothie “healthy” versus a sugar bomb?

It’s all about balance. A healthy smoothie should be a whole lot more than fruit alone. Vegetables, nuts, seeds and supplements (if you'd like) all contribute to make a smoothie that’s a healthy balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.

Balance means…

A combination of fruits AND vegetables

Almost all of my smoothie recipes include both fruits and vegetables in the blend to maximise nutrient potential and balance the flavour, too. I try to use only one fruit portion in my smoothies, and let the rest of the bulk come from vegetables.

Proof that a #JuiceFeast is a treat, not a chore. One fruit portion then a veg explosion. One of my favourites!


High fiber fruits and vegetables

This isn’t just about keeping you regular; high fiber foods are also slower to digest so that you feel fuller longer. Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber, particularly apples, pears, berries and avocado.

Healthy fats from avocado, nuts and seeds

Like fiber, fats help you feel fuller longer and are part of what makes my smoothies so creamy, delicious, and satisfying. And these healthy fats bring with them a bunch of nutritional bonuses, too. Avocados are one of my favourites, full of potassium, B-complex vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. They may be high in fat, but we’re talking oleic and linoleic acids - the fats that are effective in lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing healthy HDL cholesterol. You can’t go wrong with avocado!

Back to a #JuiceFeast classic with this morning's smoothie. #pineapple #apple #lime #celery #cucumber #kale #avocado



Low sugar fruits and vegetables

You won’t notice too many bananas in my smoothies. Yes, bananas are great for adding sweetness and texture but they’re also among the fruits with the highest sugar content (this also includes mango and grapes). That sugar adds calories and sugar crash potential, two things I try to avoid with my smoothies. Instead, I err towards lower sugar fruits like apples, pears, berries and peaches. And I never add sweeteners to my smoothies.

I appreciate that some people have a sweet tooth, and if a little sugar makes the difference, then I suggest adding some dried fruit like dates or prunes to give your smoothie the sweet kick in needs. 

Ready to blend? 

Here are a few recipes to get you started with making healthy vegan smoothies 

For more smoothie ideas, check out Monica's Book, Smarter Fitter Smoothies. Read her blog smarterfitter.com. Follow her on Twitter. Like her page on Facebook. And keep up with her daily smoothie musings on Instagram!

Superfood Smoothie

Holidays are great for feasting and enjoying treats, and we shouldn't feel guilty for indulging from time to time! But when you're ready to return to your regular routine, smoothies are a great way to keep loads of colour, flavour, and nutrition in your life!

Smoothies aren't automatically healthy, though. Many, including many pre-bottled smoothies, contain as much sugar as a can of soda. Even if it’s not refined cane sugar, fruit sugar is still sugar. All that energy can add up to a real sugar crash not long after you’ve had your last straw-full. So what makes a smoothie “healthy” versus a sugar bomb? 

It’s all about balance. A healthy smoothie should be a whole lot more than fruit alone. Vegetables, nuts, seeds and supplements (if you like) all contribute to make a smoothie that’s a healthy balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Try this Superfood Smoothie and get more tips from our smoothie maven Monica Shaw of SmarterFitter

Superfood Smoothie

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Serves 2-4 

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds, soaked overnight 
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight 
  • 1 tbsp brazil nuts, soaked overnight 
  • 1 tbsp cashews, soaked overnight 
  • 1 tbsp raisins, soaked overnight 
  • 2 dates, soaked overnight 
  • 2 apricots (unsulphered), soaked overnight 
  • handful of fresh mint leaves 
  • 1 banana, peeled and chopped 1 pear (or apple), peeled and chopped 
  • 200-500ml cold water or nut milk, added to desired consistency

Additional options:

  • A handful of blueberries, strawberries, blackcurrants and raspberries for a red berry smoothie or a handful of spinach leaves, parsley, watercress for a green smoothie.

Method

  1. Soak the nuts and seeds together overnight, and soak the dried fruit together overnight.  
  2. Rinse the soaked nuts and seeds, then place into a blender and whizz until finely ground (we use our Froothie Optimum 9200 Power Blender).  
  3. Add the soaked dried fruit, the banana, pear and the mint and blend until smooth.  
  4. Add your choice of berries or greens and blend, whilst adding enough water to make a smooth consistency.  
  5. Only add as much water as you want, you can drink the smoothie thick or thin. 

Tips:

  • Smoothies are a great way to enjoy your foraged nuts and berries.
  • Soaked nuts and seeds add nutritional content, flavour and make for a more filling smoothie to drink as a breakfast alternative.  Soaking nuts and seeds overnight increases their enzyme activity and makes them more easily digestible and nutritious. 
  • Optional extras to boost your superfood smoothie include:

Maca powder for energy and hormone balancing. 

Spirulina, blue-green algae or wheatgrass powders are used for alkalising the body and as a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Spirulina is a source of GLA used by the body as an anti-inflammatory.

Hemp protein powder is a great protein addition without any whey.

Festive Bastilla

This festive dish is our vegetarian version of the Moroccan pie which traditionally is made of pigeon. You can serve it as one large coiled pie or make individual pies. For a memorable Easter meal, try serving with a hard-boiled egg in the centre - see dietary and serving tips below. Traditionally, Bastilla is sprinkled with icing sugar, cinnamon and flaked almonds. 

Festive Bastilla

Dietary: Vegan and Gluten Free Options

Makes: one large pie (serves 6) or 6 small ones

Ingredients:

  • 400g carrots, peeled and grated 
  • 100g green lentils, soaked for a few hours or overnight 
  • 100g red lentils 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 tsp turmeric 
  • 30g pine nuts, toasted 
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed 
  • 2 small onions, sliced 
  • 4 tbsp Ras-el-Hanout spice mix
  • 50g chopped fresh herbs (parsley, coriander) 
  • Zest of 1 lemon and 1 tbsp juice 
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate syrup 
  • 1 pack of feta (optional) 
  • Olive oil 
  • Salt and black pepper   
  • 1 pack of filo pastry (approx 12 sheets) 
  • 50g melted butter or olive oil 
  • A few flaked almonds 
  • Poppy seeds 
  • ¼ tsp flaky sea salt 
  • Dusting of ground cinnamon 
  • Dusting icing sugar 

Festive Bastilla

Method: 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. 
  2. Drain the soaked lentils (keeping the two types separate) place the green lentils in a saucepan and cover with water. 
  3. Add a bay leaf, the turmeric and one of the sliced onions and bring to the boil. 
  4. After 5 minutes of boiling add the drained red lentils and carry on boiling until both lentils are soft-this should take about 15 minutes. If a foamy “scum” appears on the surface of the water skim it off with a spoon, if the lentils look dry add a little water. When cooked drain the lentils in a sieve. 
  5. Dry fry the pine nuts until golden in a dry frying pan-when just golden transfer the nuts to a plate as they will carry on cooking in the pan. 
  6. Heat the little oil in a large frying pan and fry the remaining onion until really soft and starting to caramelise. 
  7. Add the garlic and spices and stir for a couple of minutes and then add the lentils, the grated carrot and stir-fry for 5 minutes. 
  8. Add the lemon juice and zest and pomegranate syrup, and then stir in the herbs. Taste and season really well - you may need to add more lemon. If you are using feta add it at this point, crumbled or cubed. 

To make the Bastilla:

  1. Lay out one sheet of filo with the short edge closest to you and brush it with melted butter, lay a second sheet on top of the first and brush this with butter as well. 
  2. Lay 1/6 of the mixture along the short side of the sheet of filo. Make sure the mixture is pressed firmly together so it makes a neat line. 
  3. Roll up the filo to make a sausage shape, quite loosely, as they will need to bend with out cracking.  Repeat this six times so you have six sausage shaped tubes. 
  4. Brush each sausage of filo with more butter. You can now make one large snake coil or six small coils. 
  5. Butter a Tagine dish or a wide round oven dish.  
  6. Start making a spiral shape with the filo sausages, joining the end of one to the end of the next until all six are in place creating a large spiralled circle.  
  7. Brush with more butter and add a sprinkle of flaked almonds and poppy seeds on top. 
  8. To make individual coils just carefully coil them up and place on a baking tray, brushed with butter or oil. 
  9. Bake at 200C for 30 minutes, cover with silver foil to prevent the flaked almonds burning, and take it off for the last 5 minutes, until golden brown.  
  10. Take out of the oven and dust with a little icing sugar and cinnamon before serving. 

Tips:

  • To make a wheat free version of the Bastilla use this filling to fill a small squash such as an onion squash. Carefully cut off the top, scoop out the seeds and roast with a little olive oil for 30 minutes. Fill the squash and cook for another 20-30 minutes. 
  • To make the Bastilla vegan omit the feta and use olive oil instead of butter for brushing the pastry.   
  • Bastilla often includes a hard boiled egg in the centre. You can do this if you like either by adding soft boiled quails eggs (cooked in boiling water for 30 seconds, chilled in cold water and carefully peeled) to the coiled pie or by placing a soft boiled hens egg (3 minutes I boiling water then chilled in cold water and peeled) in the centre of a round pie. If you are adding eggs you need to try to cook the pie as little as possible so it doesn’t overcook. Try 20 minutes instead of 30. 
  • This Bastilla will keep, uncooked, in the fridge for 2 days or can be frozen and cooked, from frozen, for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Do not freeze the bastilla if you have added eggs. 

Huevos Rancheros

With Easter on the way, we're thinking eggs and how to use them in interesting ways. Here is one of our favourites from the cookery school: spicy Huevos Rancheros, a Mexican egg dish and a great Sunday brunch pick me up. This is a really simple and delicious wake-you-up breakfast served all over Mexico. Use your favourite hot sauce or salsa or make the sauce below and cook the eggs in the same pan.

Huevos Rancheros

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 small corn or wheat tortilla per person
  • 1 egg per person

Chipotle Hot Sauce

  • 1 Chipotle chilli (dried)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 chopped fresh red chilli (or more if you like it hot!)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • Brown sugar
  • Lime juice
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Toppings: Chopped spring onions, chopped coriander, chopped fresh chilli, grated cheddar, sour cream

Method:

  1. Dry fry the dried chilli in a frying pan until it turns darker and puffs up a little and then transfer it to a small bowl and cover with 100ml of boiling water. Leave for about half an hour (while the onions cook). This rehydrates the chilli-you will use the chilli water in the sauce.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and then add the onion and cook until soft and golden. Add the garlic and fresh chilli and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the bay leaves and chopped tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Chop the dried chipotle chilli and add to the sauce. Taste and season well with sugar, lime, salt and pepper.
  3. When you are happy with the sauce crack one egg per person directly into the sauce and put on a lid (or a large plate) and leave to cook, the time this takes will vary depending on how you like your eggs, 3 to 4 minutes for soft, a bit longer for set yolks.
  4. While the eggs cook warm your tortillas and place one per person on a plate.
  5. You can leave this sauce chunky or puree with a hand blender.
  6. Serve the sauce with or on the tortilla, topped with the egg and your choice of toppings.

Tips:

  • Make double the quantity of sauce and reserve half for later use. It will keep for about a week in a sealed container and also freezes well.
  • If you can’t find dried chipotle chillies you can use chipotle paste, which is available from most supermarkets.
  • If you find it easier you can fry the eggs in a separate frying pan to the sauce

Huevos Rancheros

Hot Cross Buns

Easter is fast approaching! Whatever you're planning, chances are one thing has to be done: hot cross buns!

There are many variations on these spiced buns, typically made with currants or raisins. We add apricots and mixed peel to ours for a little added interest. However you make yours, get them done by Good Friday. English folklore says that hot cross buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or mold during the subsequent year. We cannot attest to the truth of this, as we always eat them up eagerly within a day or two!

Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp dried active yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 125ml warm water
  • 350g strong white flour
  • 100g strong wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps mixed spice
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 75g sultanas
  • 75g dried apricots, chopped
  • 75g mixed peel
  • 125ml warm milk
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten

Piping paste

  • 4 tbsps unbleached white flour
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsps cold water

Glazes

  • 1 egg yolk +1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 tbsps sugar + 2 tbsps water

Method

  1. In a bowl mix the dried yeast with the sugar and add the warm water, whisk, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place until frothy which takes about 10-15minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sieve the flour and add the salt, mixed spice, caster sugar, sultanas, dried apricots and mixed peel.
  3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the frothy yeast, warm milk, melted butter and beaten egg. Mix well with your hands into a sticky dough.
  4. Lightly flour a work surface, turn the dough out and knead the dough for 5minutes until soft and smooth.
  5. Place the dough in a clean oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 60minutes until it has doubled in size.
  6. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and gently knead the dough. Roll the dough into a sausage and divide up into 12 equal pieces, using scales to be precise.
  7. Roll each piece into a round ball.
  8. Line a baking tray or two with baking parchment and arrange the balls in lines, not quite touching. Leave in a warm place to rise for 45minutes or until the buns have doubled in size.
  9. While the dough is rising preheat the oven to 220C and make the piping paste.
  10. To make the piping paste, mix the flour sugar and water together into a smooth paste.
  11. Put into a piping bag fitted with a small, plain nozzle.
  12. Beat the egg yolk and milk together for the egg wash.
  13. When the buns have risen, make an indent of a cross on each bun using a blunt knife. Brush with the egg wash and then pipe a cross on each bun.
  14. Put the buns in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
  15. While the buns are baking, make the sticky glaze. Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat.
  16. As soon as the buns come out brush them with the glaze. Transfer to a wire rack with out pulling them apart and leave to cool.
  17. When cool enough pull apart, slice in half and butter.
Wild Garlic Pesto

It's happy times at the cookery school as wild garlic is back in season! We've been making use of it as much as we can, most recently at a baking class where we served this wild garlic pesto with freshly baked sourdough.

Read on for more wild garlic tips and recipes, and if you're keen on foraging keep an eye on our upcoming foraging walks around Bath!  

Wild Garlic Pesto

Serves 4-6 

Dietary: Vegan

Ingredients

  • 50g pinenuts, toasted
  • 75g hazelnuts, roasted, and skins rubbed off
  • 175ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 150g fresh very young tender garlic leaves
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp apple juice concentrate
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. In a food processor or in a pestle and mortar crush the pinenuts and hazelnuts roughly and then decant them into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Puree the wild garlic leaves with a pinch of salt  with the olive oil just enough to break up the basil to a rough texture.
  3. Add the lemon juice, vinegar and apple juice concentrate and mix.
  4. Pour the wild garlic mixture into the crushed nuts and stir in.
  5. Season to taste.
  6. Serve with sourdough bread, as a pasta sauce, or as a dip for crudités.

Tips

  • The pesto will keep in the fridge for a week or two so long as the top is covered with a layer of olive oil. You can also freeze it. Freeze in small containers, so that you can take out a little at a time.
  • This pesto is also delicious made with rocket, young spinach leaves, watercress or of course basil.
Vegan Danish Kringle

Kringles are Danish pastries, shaped rather like a pretzel and made of enriched yeast dough or puff pastry and filled with marzipan. Our version of the Kringle is dairy-free and vegan. 

We regularly run vegan baking courses here at the cookery school so if you're looking for more inspiration, check out our course calendar!

Vegan Danish Kringle

Makes: 1 large kringle

Dietary: Vegan

Ingredients

  • 250g unbleached white bread flour
  • 11/2 level tsp dried active yeast
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50ml warm water
  • 50ml warm almond milk
  • 50ml apple sauce
  • 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

For the filling

  • 1 tbsp margarine
  • 3 tbsp ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • zest ½ lemon

For brushing on top

  • 3 tbsp almond milk
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds
  • glaze: 1 tbsp apricot jam

Method

  1. In a measuring jug combine the warm water, warm almond milk, yeast and sugar, mix well and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes for the yeast to start to bubble. In a large bowl make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the water/milk and yeast, the apple sauce and oil. Using one finger stir in the liquid until the dough is coming together, then use both hands and start to knead.
  2. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured flat surface and knead, using your fingers to stretch the dough up and then gently fold back, it will be sticky to begin with so don’t be tempted to add too much flour, use a bread plastic scraper if the dough sticks to the work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, usually about 10 minutes.
  3. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 – 1 ½ hours, until doubled in size.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/190Fan/Gas7.
  5. Shape the dough into a large rectangle on a piece of greaseproof paper. Mix the filling ingredients and then spread them all over the pastry. Roll the pastry up gently so you have a large sausage shape and then slice lengthways with a sharp knife.
  6. Twist the two lengths and form into a ring shape. Pinch the two ends together to seal.
  7. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to prove for 30 minutes or until well risen.
  8. Brush the ring with the almond milk and sprinkle with the flakes almonds.
  9. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden.
  10. Warm the apricot jam with 1 tbsp water in a small saucepan, then brush the baked ring to glaze.
  11. Serve warm.
Spring Herb Frittata

Happy Spring! Yesterday was spring equinox, the official start of the season. So it's time to start thinking about all the glorious spring veg coming our way! Right now, purple sprouting broccoli is at its best and works wonderfully in this simple frittata. Later in the year, I make it with asparagus and broad beans.

Spring Herb Frittata

Serves: 2-4

 Dietary: Gluten Free

Ingredients

  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced small
  • 175g – seasonal vegetable such as wild garlic, purple sprouting broccoli, asparagus, broad beans, peas or young carrots
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 50g ricotta
  • 25g cheddar, grated
  • 1 large handful of fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint or basil, chopped roughly
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  • In a 24cm frying pan, one without a plastic handle, heat the olive oil and gently sauté the potato, with a lid on until cooked, which takes about 10 minutes.
  • Add the vegetables and sauté for a further 5 minutes.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the ricotta and cheddar, add the herbs and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the egg mix to the potatoes and vegetables and cook on a gentle heat, until almost set. You will need to run a heatproof spatula around the frittata to stop it from sticking.
  • Pre-heat the grill.
  • Grill until the top is golden.
  • Cut into wedges and serve at once with (this is great with roast balsamic tomatoes and rocket leaves).

Tip: 

  • If you don’t have a frying pan that can go under the grill, you will need to turn the frittata over in the frying pan so that you can brown the top. This is fiddly. You will need a plate that is larger than the top of the frying pan. When the frittata is cooked underneath and is almost set on top, take the frying pan of the heat and place the plate on top, holding the plate firm, flip the frittata over so that it is bottom up on the plate, then slip it back into the frying pan bottom up and cook until the underneath (originally the top) is golden. Serve at once.
Seasonal Recipes for Spring Veg

It's now spring! At the cookery school we're preparing for our Vegetarian Diploma course in two weeks. It will be prime time for spring produce, and we can't wait to turn  fresh organic treasures into healthy satisfying meals with our students. So this week I wanted to write about some of the ingredients you'll see us talking about through April and May: asparagus, broad beans, new potatoes, watercress, and purple sprouting broccoli. Five vegetables with five recipes each - you should be set for your springtime five a day!

Asparagus

The asparagus season is short but plentiful with fat spears available from mid to late April until mid June. It signals the end of spring and the coming of summer and the beginning of the peak season of so many of our locally grown crops. To judge whether asparagus is fresh and good quality just look at the small bracts or special leaves, which grow just behind the tips. These should be well formed, lie flat along the stem, and not be shooting. The cut at the base of the spear should appear fresh and feel hard rather than spongy. This cut end is often tough and should be broken off before cooking, just bend the spear near the cut end and it will snap off crisply leaving the tender spears for your cooking. Don’t throw away the tougher ends. Add them to stocks and soups as they are full of flavour. Asparagus can be eaten as thin stalks, which are great for stir-fries and pasta, or as chunky spears, which can be simply grilled and served with a drizzle of olive oil.

Grilling Asparagus

Broad Beans

Broad beans are the oldest variety of bean to be grown in Britain. They vary greatly in size, texture and taste as they mature. In late spring they are at their best. Small baby beans can be eaten raw, boiled or steamed for 1-2 minutes with or without the pod. Once the pods have exceeded 5-8cm the skin is no longer tasty and becomes fibrous and chewy.

When the pods are larger you need to pod the beans and it can be a surprise and a disappointment to reveal how few beans each pod contains. It is always worth buying more broad beans than you think you need as about ¾ of the weight is discarded once you have removed the pods. With young broad beans there should be no need to remove the skin of each individual bean but as the season progresses it is worth double shelling. To do this remove the beans from the pod, dunk into boiling water for 1-2 minutes and then pop the vibrant green kidney shaped beans out of their skins.

Broad beans are a natural companion to mint both in taste and in gardening as mint repels black fly.

Shelling Broad Beans

New Potatoes

New potatoes have a delicate taste and firm texture and don’t need to be peeled. Our favourite new potatoes are the kidney shaped Jerseys, and yellow Charlottes, Both have a waxy texture and are ideal for salads, which you should dress while the potatoes are still warm so they absorb the flavours.

It is best to buy new potatoes from Farmers Markets and greengrocers if you can. Try to buy unwashed potatoes, which last longer, but avoid the deception of sticking potting compost to new potatoes so you imagine they are freshly harvested. If you buy plastic bags of new potatoes always take them out of the plastic or they will soon rot. They are best stored in a cold, dark and airy place, but not the fridge, which tends to make potatoes taste too sweet.

Patatas Bravas

Watercress

The peppery vibrant green leaves of watercress awaken the taste buds and refresh the palate. This wild plant has been grown commercially in fast running water in the South of England since the 1800s and has been regarded since ancient times as a cleansing and nutritious food. Watercress is a good source of Vitamin C. It is delicious and distinctive in both hot and cold dishes; try it in soups, salad and sauces. Its taste goes particularly well with soft cheeses and feta. Watercress needs to be kept cool after it’s cut as it quickly loses its vibrancy and turns yellow.

Watercress and Rocket Pesto


Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Purple sprouting broccoli is one of the first crops of spring after over-wintering in the fields. Sprouting broccoli is either purple or green, but there is little difference between the two colours taste-wise. The purple variety becomes green on cooking. Sprouting broccoli is a real nutritional feast - just one serving contains your recommended daily amount of Vitamin C. It also has high levels of antioxidants, calcium, carotene and folate, which boost the immune system and helps cell regeneration.

Sprouting broccoli has been described as “Italian Asparagus” and can be treated in the same way, lightly steamed and served simply with aioli. Our favourite way of cooking sprouting broccoli is stir-frying. Try using a little sesame oil and sesame seeds. Mix with sesame coated tofu for a delicious supper. It also carries strong flavours well and in Roman kitchens was cooked with cumin, coriander, leeks, pinenuts and raisins. Never overcook sprouting broccoli as it becomes mushy, loses its colour and most of the peppery flavour.

Tofu and Purple Broccoli Salad

Do let us know if you have any questions about spring veg,

either the ones we've mentioned here or others.

You can reach us in the comments below

or on Twitter and Facebook!

Rachel and Spring Veg

​Easter Biscuits

Our lovely office manager Sue has shared her recipe for deliciously spiced Easter biscuits!

Easter Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 110g caster sugar, plus extra for decoration
  • 110g softened butter
  • 1 free-range, separated
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 75g currants
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp milk

Method

  1. Preheat the oven 160C/140F/Gas 3.
  2. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together then beat in the egg yolk until well mixed, light and fluffy.
  4. Stir in the lemon zest.
  5. Fold the flour and mixed spice into the mixture, then add the currants. Stir in enough milk to form a firm dough.
  6. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and cut out the biscuits with an Easter shaped or round cutter. Place onto the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Take the biscuits out of the oven. Lightly beat the egg whites until they are a little frothy and brush on to the biscuits, then sprinkle with sugar and bake for a further 5-10 minutes, until pale golden-brown.
  8. Cool on a wire rack.

Variations:

To make vegan Easter biscuits, replace the butter with vegan margarine and the egg yolk with 1tbsp flax batter. Use soya milk instead of dairy (you may find you only need 2 tbsp). Instead of brushing the part-baked biscuits with egg white to help the sugar stick, use either soya milk or warm the juice of the lemon you zested with 3 tbsp sugar and stir until dissolved - adds an extra layer of lemoniness. 

To make flax batter, grind 1 tbsp golden flax seeds in a spice or coffee grinder and mix with 3 tbsp water to make a consistency like custard.

Irish Soda Bread

We love this bread because it’s so easy to make and easily adaptable. We’ve had great success with gluten free flour, rye flour, spelt flour, whole meal flour, and good old-fashioned white flour. And the add-ons are virtually endless: seeds, nuts, cheese, fruit, sundried tomato, herbs, whatever you fancy. Irish Soda Bread is traditionally made with buttermilk, but we use milk and yogurt instead (or soya milk and soya yoghurt for our vegan friends).

Whether you're new to baking your own bread or want to learn more, we often offer  baking courses where you can improve your skills - and have lots of fun learning from our experts!

Sarah & Pat making bread

Irish Soda Bread

Dietary: Vegan and Gluten Free Options

Makes 2 small loaves or 8 rolls.

Ingredients:

  • 500g flour
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 350ml milk or soya milk
  • 75ml plain yoghurt or soya yoghurt
  • 1 Tbsp soft brown sugar

Cutting Soda bread

Method:

  1. In a saucepan, heat the milk, yoghurt and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and mix into a sticky dough.
  4. Tip onto a floured surface and portion into whatever size you want.
  5. Shape each portion into a ball and cut a deep cross in the top of each ball and dust with flour.
  6. Bake at 210C for 15-30 minutes (depending on size).

Tips:

Soda bread dries out quickly so it’s best eaten warm straight from the oven.

Try your soda bread topped with delicious spreads like hummus, jam, cheese, or simply butter. We’ve recently served ours with:

Soda Bread Edited

Leafy Loveliness, Vegetarian Living, April 2016

The April 2016 issue of Vegetarian Living is now available and features my latest column of seasonal cooking ideas, tips, recipes and more. This month is all about Spring leaves: watercress, rocket, spinach, and sorrel. Discovery how to use these lovely leaves through recipes such as puy lentil salad with watercress pesto, palak paneer with homemade paneer, and spinach and sorrel risotto. 

Click on the link below to read the article in full:

Leafy Loveliness, Vegetarian Living, April 2016

Growing tales, Vegetarian Living, April 2016

The April 2016 issue of Vegetarian Living features our foraging expert Christopher Robbins in an article about the plethora of wild foods to be found during the Spring. You'll find Christopher's top tips on how to forage wild garlic and nettles, and ideas for how to use them in your favourite recipes.

Click on the link below to read the article in full:

Growing Tales, Vegetarian Living, April 2016

Nettle Soup with Hazelnuts

Nettle soup is a lovely emerald green colour with an unique flavour. We always like to keep the nettle soup a surprise and ask people to guess what it is made from. Everyone always loves it, but can’t pin down its humble origins. 

Nettles can be picked in spring and summer and are best when very tender. If you're interested in doing more with nettles, read about our best tips and recipes. Or, better yet, sign up for a foraging class

Nettle Soup with Hazelnuts

Dietary: Vegan

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 250g nettle leaves, washed
  • 250g new potatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp pearl barley
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
  • black pepper
  • 25g hazelnuts, roasted & lightly crushed
  • optional soya crème or yoghurt

Method

  1. In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in the rapeseed oil until soft. Add the garlic and quickly stir-fry.
  2. Add the nettles, 700mls of water and the vegetable bouillon powder. Simmer gently for 30 minutes.
  3. In another saucepan add 300mls of water, pearled barley and diced potato and cook until the pearl barley and potato are tender. Take off the heat.
  4. Blend the nettle mixture until smooth (we use our Froothie Optimum 9200 Power Blender which is brilliant for blending nettles).
  5. In a large saucepan mix the blended nettle with the pearl barley and the potato mix and heat through.
  6. Check for seasoning and add black pepper.
  7. Serve hot, topped with crushed roasted hazelnuts.
  8. You can add a swirl of soya crème or yoghurt.

How to Pick and Eat Nettles

Many thanks to super-forager Christopher Robbins for his advice on nettles. If you want to learn more about wild plants, check out our upcoming foraging courses.

As we move into spring, nettles are starting to appear. Sure they may sting, but they're also hugely versatile. And right now they're at their seasonal best: young, tender and ripe for picking. Nettles have a long history of numerous uses, and it's no wonder why. They are an excellent blood purifier, a mild laxative and extremely high in vitamin C. They're also delicious to eat and make a healthy relaxing herb tea.

Nettles (Urtica dioica) are traditionally eaten in early spring as they are one of the first edible green shoots to appear, known as a “pot-herb”. In Scotland nettles were mixed with kale to make Nettle Kale, a traditional Shrove Tuesday pottage to welcome in the spring. Nettles were also mixed with onions, cabbage and oats to make Haggis or Nettle Pudding.

Nettle-Picking Tips

  • Nettles are best when very tender, so pick in the spring when the nettles are just coming up or later in the season. Pick the young leaves from the tips. 
  • Use rubber gloves or pinch the leaves hard, so you don’t get stung. Once picked, lay the nettles out on a tray to wilt. Once wilted they can no longer sting you. The sting relies on erect hairs to penetrate the skin and inject the stinging formic acid. When wilted strip the leaves off the stems. 
  • Like spinach, when cooked, nettles reduce to 1/4 the amount, so a supermarket bag full will be about 500g. 
  • Always cook nettles, which destroys the stinging formic acid. Nettles are not suitable for salads!

Favourite Nettle Recipes

Wild Garlic Recipes

Wild garlic is one of my favourite seasonal ingredients. It’s a beautiful herb with delicious flavour and is incredibly easy to forage. March and April is the time to go picking, and wild garlic is hard to miss. It’s one of the first plants to carpet the woods and its pungency as you walk through is all pervading. However, when you cook wild garlic it has a delicate flavour. In the spirit of wild garlic season, I wanted to share a few of my favourite recipes for enjoying this delicate herb.

Tips

  • This time of year, early March, you will find the wild garlic poking up in low-lying places by streams and protected woods. Make sure you pick away from dogs and roads and don’t trespass: the wild garlic might be free, but the landowner may not appreciate your picking!
  • I take a carrier bag with me, fill it up and it will last perfectly in the fridge for a week.
  • Wild garlic leaves are best when very tender, so pick when the garlic is just coming up. Choose small tender leaves - the moment the garlic begins to flower, the leaves become too strong and brash in flavour. But the flowers do make a pretty addition to spring salads. 
  • To eat raw, find the youngest leaves and add to a salad mix. I generally find the taste of uncooked wild garlic too strong.
  • Be adventurous and use wild garlic instead of spinach leaves, mix and match. It goes well with watercress. Add it to your favourite pasta sauces, or use wild garlic for a tangy pesto that makes a versatile addition dip, pasta sauce or filling for your favourite foods - especially mushrooms.
  •  Wash well before cooking with foraged plants.

And if you're interested in learning more about foraging, keep an eye on our upcoming courses for our local foraging walks around Bath!

Wild Garlic Recipes from Demuths Cookery School:

More Wild Garlic recipes from around the web:

What are you making with Wild Garlic this season?

Let us know on FacebookTwitter, or in the comments!

Photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

Mushroom, Ale and Celeriac Pie

It's British Pie Week! We're celebrating with our hearty mushroom pie. It makes fantastic centrepiece for a meal and is perfect for feeding a crowd. It's also great the next day. We just love everything about this recipe!

Mushroom, Ale and Celeriac Pie

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4/6

Dietary: Vegan

Ingredients:

  • 10g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 300ml boiling water
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g celeriac, diced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 150g mixed mushrooms (shitake, chanterelles, oyster), sliced
  • 200ml vegan ale
  • 1x 400g tin tomatoes
  • 2 tsp coarse grain mustard
  • 1 tsp Marmite
  • ½ tsp cornflour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 500g puff pastry 

Method

  1. Soak the dried porcini in the boiling water for 30 minutes and then strain saving the soaking water. Finely dice the porcini.
  2. Fry the sliced onion in sunflower oil, until the onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add the diced celeriac and carrot and quickly stir-fry.
  4. Add the crushed garlic and all the mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes.
  5. Pour in the ale and simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Mix the cornflour with a tablespoon of cold water and mix to a paste.
  7. Add the tinned tomatoes, porcini water, chopped porcini, coarse grain mustard, marmite, cornflour paste and bay leaves, and simmer gently for 30 minutes, until the sauce in thick and rich.
  8. Add the chopped thyme and parsley and season well. Leave to cool.
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/200F.
  10. Pour the mushroom filling into a 1 litre pie dish.
  11. Roll the puff pastry out to 4 mm thickness large enough to cover your pie dish with some to spare. If your pie dish has a flat edge cut a ring of pastry, to the thickness of the flat edge and stick on with a brush of water.
  12. Carefully lift the pastry and place over the pie dish and press down the edges to form a good seal and trim off any excess with a sharp knife. Reserve the trimmings to decorate the pie. Knock up and flute the edges of the pie and cut a small cross in the middle to let out the steam. Brush the top with soya milk.
  13. Decorate the pie with mushroom shapes made from the left over pastry and brush these with soya milk.
  14. Bake for 25-30 minutes until puffed up and golden.
  15. Serve with herby potato mash and seasonal vegetables.

Puff Pastry Tips

I prefer the blocks of puff pastry, they are better value and the ready rolled is too small for a large pie dish. If you want a vegan pie, make sure you buy a vegan puff pastry. At the cookery school we do make puff pastry, but it is a long process. To reheat puff, put back in a hot oven, never in a microwave, which will turn puff soggy and tough!

Related Links

Delicious photography by Rob Wicks

Discovering Burmese Food

Here is a recap from my recent trip to Myanmar, also known as Burma. If you're inspired to learn more about Burmese cuisine and culture, please do take a look at my photos from the trip. I will also be teaching a Burmese cooking evening class 31 May 2016.

I'm just back from a two-week holiday in Myanmar! Eating in Myanmar is an exciting adventure with food and tastes that I hadn’t experienced before. The country is sandwiched between better known culinary neighbours China, India and Thailand. You can find influences from them in Burmese cuisine: samosas and pakoras from India, stir-fried rice and noodles from China, and green mango salads from Thailand. But Myanmar is made up of many different ethnic groups who all have their own distinctive dishes and ways of cooking. During my visit I soaked up as much as I could for an introduction to Burmese cooking.

Markets

Whenever I travel abroad the first stop is always the local markets. In Burma they are called 5 day markets as they move round the villages on a 5 day cycle. Our local guide Mo from Bhagan said, "We are poor but not hungry." Most can afford the daily trip to the market to buy fresh ingredients. 

The markets we went to were full of fresh vegetables and flowers. The flower stalls are for the home shrines. Every day fresh flowers are placed in vases on the home shrine or given as offering at the pagodas.

Food Culture

The majority of Burmese are Buddhist, but there are Muslims, Christians and animists too. Full moon days are the day when Buddhists abstain from meat and fish. There is no dairy, making it easy for vegans. There is very little wheat, as rice is the staple grain. As with Thailand, fish sauce and shrimp paste are commonly used as the salty flavour enhancer, but I found that soya sauce was readily available and made a good alternative to fish sauce.

The staple meal is rice and curry. Additions depend on what you can afford. Vegetables, lentils and beans are most common. Sometimes the dishes are topped with dried fish, fresh fish, or more rarely chicken, pork, lamb and beef. The latter two are very rare and expensive. A typical vegetarian rice meal would consist of dishes such as fried tofu matchsticks with red chilli, snow peas in chilli sauce, sliced white daikon radish, bitter aubergine curry, Chinese long beans in chilli sauce, ladies fingers and tomato curry all served on small flowery Chinese plates.

  • Breakfast: Often the rice noodle soup 'Mohinga', fish noodle soup flavoured with fresh ginger, lemon grass, turmeric, garlic and chillies and then topped with fried garlic, coriander and a squeeze of lime.
  • Lunch: The main meal of the day is known as the rice meal and is often eaten before midday, as it’s the Buddhist tradition for monks not to eat after midday.
  • Snacks: Snacks are served all day with green tea, from deep fried samosas, pakoras to Burmese doughnuts or deep fried crisp ‘tofu’. They call it Shan tofu, but it’s actually made with gram flour similar to socca and then deep-fried with a crisp outside and soft melting inside.

  • Sides: Served with every meal are the crudités of raw cabbage, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, baby aubergines all to dip in fish sauce. We avoided this! Every meal also has fermented preserved vegetables, rather like kimchi. We tried banana flowers, coriander and oyster mushrooms.
  • Teahouses: Large vats of food are freshly made and you go and point at the curries, vegetable dishes and salads you fancy. These get delivered to your table with a bowl of vegetable soup, piles of white rice, crudités and condiments.
  • Alcohol: In the evening as it cooled down from 39C, a cold very large bottle of Myanmar beer was most welcome!

Pickled Tea

Tea is not just drunk as green tea, which is provided free wherever you go. You can even knock on a stranger's door and you will be given a small cup or glass of hot green tea! But tea is eaten too. Pickled tea leaves are a national delicacy served as part of a salad. This is often served as a snack in the afternoon to ward off tiredness with a caffeine hit!

Pickled tea leaves are the centre piece in the Pickled Tea Leaf Salad 'Lephet Thoke', served in a lacquer display tray served with roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, roasted garlic, fresh grated ginger, roasted lab lab beans from the water hyacinth, and small green chilies. Everyone is given a small plate and takes what they want and mixes it up together.

I would love to share these experiences with you, so again - please feel free to browse through more trip photos and sign up for my Burmese cooking class in May 2016! Hope to see you there. 

Vegan & gluten-free pancake recipes, Bath Chronicle, February 2016

In celebration of Pancake Day, check out Rachel's recipe for Vegan Canadian Pancakes featured in Bath Chronicle, along with more vegan pancake inspiration from other Bath area chefs. 

Click here to read the article in full. 

Bath Chronicle interviews our chef tutor and Chinese cookery expert Lydia Downey about her Chinese New year traditions and shares one of her authentic family recipes. 

Click here to read the article in full. 

Rhubarb Ketchup

Rhubarb means spring is on its way! It is one of the first crops to be harvested in Britain and remains in season from February to July. Rhubarb is one of the few vegetables traditionally cooked as a dessert, but it can be a truly interesting addition to savoury dishes - and makes great ketchup! 

Rhubarb Ketchup

Ingredients:

  • 1kg Rhubarb
  • 2 Banana shallots
  • 40g Ginger, sliced
  • 60g Cider vinegar
  • 75g Caster Sugar
  • 1  Star Anise
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Dice the rhubarb and put into a pan with the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Boil until the rhubarb breaks down and the shallots are soft.
  3. Remove the star anise, blend until very smooth and season with salt.
  4. Store in the fridge and use as a dip for veg and chips - or on a veggie burger!

Tim Talking about Rhubarb

Rhubarb Recipes and Cooking Tips

Rhubarb means spring is on its way! It is one of the first crops to be harvested in Britain and remains in season from February to July. The early harvest is often “forced” by being grown in the dark with heating to encourage growth. You can force rhubarb in your garden by covering the crown in winter with a lidded rhubarb forcer - or you can use a dustbin! It’s a real thrill to pull and twist (never cut) those pale pink stems. Uncover by April to allow the summer sunshine to feed the crowns for next year.

Forced Rhubarb 1

Rhubarb is one of the few vegetables that is traditionally cooked as a dessert, although it can be an unusual addition to savoury dishes and makes great ketchup or chutney. When it comes to eating rhubarb, do remember to only eat the stems as the leaves are poisonous. Rhubarb is very sharp and requires sweetening. Try eating it raw, sliced finely and dipped in sugar. To cook, I prefer to roast rhubarb so it keeps its shape rather than boiling to a mush. In puddings, try enhancing with ginger, honey, vanilla or cinnamon. Rhubarb’s strong acidity works well with rich foods, such as creamy Greek yoghurt, panna cotta or crème brulée desserts. Here are some rhubarb recipes we're excited about this year:

Breakfast

Rhubarb and Blood Orange

Savoury

Roasted Rhubarb and Blood Orange Layered Fool

Dessert

Roasted Rhubarb and Blood Orange Layered Fool

Beetroot, Potato and Apple Latkes

Latkes are potato fritters traditionally eaten during the Jewish Hanukkah festival. For colour and natural sweetness I've added beetroot and cooking apple. Try serving the latkes with spiralized cevichegreen hemp harissa, and the yoghurt mint dip included below.

Beetroot, Potato and Apple Latkes

Makes: 8 latkes, serves 2-4 people

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Prep Time: 30 minutes, Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 potatoes (approx. 325g before peeling)
  • 1 beetroot (medium approx. 150g before peeling)
  • 1 small cooking apple (approx 125g before peeling)
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 tbsp white miso
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp gram flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sunflower oil for frying

Method

  1. Wash the potatoes and put them in a pan of cold water. Bring them to a gentle simmer and cook until half cooked and still firm, this will take about 10 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Peel and grate the potatoes.
  2. Peel and grate the beetroot, cooking apple and red onion into a bowl, then squeeze out as much juice as possible, either through a sieve or through muslin.
  3. Mix them together with the grated potato in a mixing bowl along with the fennel and caraway seeds, white miso and red wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Mix in the gram flour and baking powder and bring the mixture together.
  5. Shape the mix into 8 round latkes.
  6. In a non-stick frying pan add enough sunflower oil to just cover the bottom of the frying pan, heat the frying pan and add the latkes, pressing them down, so that they are flat and fry them gently on both sides until crisp.
  7. Serve with the green hemp harissa and a yoghurt mint dip (below).

Yoghurt Mint Dip

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • pinch of salt
  • 150ml thick yogurt
  • handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped

Crush the garlic with a pinch of salt to a smooth paste. Then add the yoghurt and mint and mix together.

Lush photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

Care Home Caterers Training

Care Home Caterers Training

Guest post by Christopher Robbins

Seven enthusiastic chefs/cooks from Sunset West group and The Fairways (Scheme CHJ Kitchen) came to Demuths for a nutrition and cooking workshop organised by Vegetarian for Life. The group was enthusiastic for vegetarian cooking and was also a well gelled and very interactive group. They were a pleasure to work among and we felt they got a great amount from the day.

Vegetarians are usually a small percentage of the clients in most care homes. It is common that any home may have only a single vegetarian client, and there are often weeks without any. Yet, these chefs came with the clear belief that vegetarian food would probably be enjoyed by anyone. One member of the group said she had delayed reworking their menu cycles until after the workshop. She said their group didn’t have a ‘vegetarian option’ on the menus at present, but were thinking of making two changes. First to make her vegetarian meals the general menu items, as being simply more varied and interesting than the usual ‘side-dish’ form of vegetables. Second, to have the meat dishes as the options on the menus.

The fact the even meat-eaters nearly always ate ‘meat plus 2 or more vegetables’ on their plate, which meant that even meat-eaters happily consumed vegetables, led to the obvious conclusion that vegetarian dishes and meals were not ‘special’ food and that probably most eaters would happily choose vegetarian dishes, if not prefer them. They would eat or prefer them because they can easily present more variety of ingredients (vegetables and herbs/spices), more colour, more fresher flavours and textures. Vegetarian cooking is just more visually and taste appealing food, and more easily and can easily be cheaper. With that conceptual clarity, the demonstration session was interesting.

Helen demonstrated:

  • Fruity Muesli Bars, a high energy and soft fibre snack for the small eaters
  • Green Pea and Mint Pate
  • Spring Vegetable Frittata
  • Glamorgan Sausages
  • Small Mediterranean Pies or Tartlets, with options of: squash and red pepper; or chickpea and spinach; or broad bean and feta fillings
  • Celeriac Fritters - amazingly tasty with the texture of battered fish for Fridays
  • Nut Roast with Rich Onion Gravy, for the Sunday Roast meal

Focused questions and discussion punctuated description of the cooking of each recipe. There were many perceptive queries about the flexibility of each recipe for the client-specific needs of each chef in the group. Helen described how each recipe is adaptable to modifications like:

  • Food processing ingredients like nuts, whole broad beans, oats, and even dried apricots to suit the needs of poor swallowers, denture problems, or the risk of inhaling small solids.
  • Increasing flavour for typical elderly eaters by increasing amounts of herbs and spices used in dishes. Loss of flavour and taste perception, even among the healthy elderly, is a common reason for lack of interest in eating.
  • Increasing energy content for low-intake eaters with increasing amounts of olive oil in appropriate recipes. The elderly have a need for higher nutrient density food as they eat smaller amounts than younger eaters.
  • Helping increase soft fibre intakes for general clients and especially for individual low-intake eaters.
  • Having snacks with high energy and high soft fibre if appropriate for meeting the energy gaps in individual clients.

After the two hours of demonstration, lunch was devoted to eating the resulting dishes. There was clear pleasure with repeated replenishing of plates. The food clearly looked inviting and there was no difficulty in enjoying it. One delegate was heard to say (then to repeat),”I didn’t know vegetarian food could taste so good.”

It was clear to us that they enjoyed the workshop. One delegate was so impressed with the demonstration, that she said that it made her realise how simple the recipes were and how quickly such food could be prep’d and cooked off. She said too, that if she was just given a book or a set of these recipes, she knew they would never be opened again. This same person said she would like to return to repeat the course, and would be recommending that more chefs/cooks within the Group’s other homes should be sent to that workshop. I suppose the most flattering comments were that several of the delegates said that they would like to come and repeat the course, and we parted with some additional topics within the vegetarian rubric that they would be interested in coming to do.

Christopher Robbins

29 February 2016

Japanese Vegetarian for the Spirit

Vegetarian Japanese Recipes to Cleanse, Replenish and "Progress the Spirit"

Although most of us enjoy having a blow-out every once in a while, extended over-indulgence can be really hard on our bodies. The more we consume, the more energy our organs need to process. Foods like refined sugar, saturated fat, alcohol and processed foods are especially hard on the liver, kidneys and other organs involved with digestion. 

On our vegetarian Japanese cookery course, Sachiko Saeki teaches "Shojin Ryori", which means "to progress the spirit". Shojin cooking is a special way of preparing, cooking and eating for monks at Zen temples, based on the philosophy of balance, harmony and simplicity. It’s a pure and cleansing way of cooking, dairy free with no pungent flavours from onions or garlic and using only grains, vegetables, soya products and sea vegetables. At the monasteries soup is eaten every day. Often a meal is defined by the saying "Ichi Ju San Sai": one soup and a bowl of rice with three green dishes. Sounds lovely to me! 

Soup

Miso Ramen Soup with Shitake and Seaweed is one of my favourite winter meals. Miso is made with soyabeans fermented with kojii. Kojii is cooked rice, barley or soyabeans that have been inoculated with a fermentation culture. The darker the miso the stronger the flavour, and it’s already salty so there’s no need to add salt. You can also use miso to make dressings, marinades and sauces - but always add at the end of cooking to avoid damaging the healthy enzymes. Different kind of miso include:

  • Hacho Miso is made from soya beans.
  • Genmai Miso from soya beans and brown rice.
  • Mugi Miso from soya beans and barley.
  • Natto Miso is made from soya beans, barley, ginger and seaweed.

Seaweed is a good source of iodine and potassium. It grows around the coasts of the British Isles and is harvested from unpolluted shorelines. Edible seaweeds, which may be green (shallow water), brown, or red (deep water) are collected and then dried. You can buy dried seaweed from wholefood and Japanese stores. Look out for the excellent Clearspring brand. To cook with seaweed, soak beforehand and add to soups and salads or dry-roast and sprinkle over salads and rice.

Sushi Rolls ready to slice

Vegetarian Sushi

It’s really easy to make vegetarian sushi at home. Your essential kit is a sushi mat for rolling, sushi rice and sheets of ready toasted nori seaweed. My favourite filling is a simple combination of raw carrot, cucumber and mouli. Mouli is a Japanese radish, which is white and crunchy. It can be a metre long and tastes less peppery than red radish. Avocado is popular although it’s not a traditional Japanese filling, but you can experiment with any fillings you like. For a hot peppery flavour, wasabi (I like the fresh wasabi from The Wasabi Company) can be spread delicately inside the roll or mixed with shoyu for dipping. Cook the rice carefully and then spread it out in a big dish to cool. In Japan the rice is fanned to cool it. Lay the nori sheet on the sushi mat and cover with a thin layer of rice and a line of vegetables and a touch of wasabi if using. Roll up like a Swiss roll using the sushi mat to roll, pressing as you go. Slice with a really sharp knife and eat quickly as the rolls are best eaten fresh and sushi rice doesn’t like being refrigerated.

ROLL-SUSHI Filling with carrot, shitake mushroom and cucumber

Other Shojin-friendly Japanese Recipes

How to roll sushi

Do you have any other ideas for eating in the spirit of Shojin? 
For more inspiration, come along to one of Sachiko's Japanese Cookery Courses.

Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter

Rethinking Leeks: Advice and Recipes

If you're feeling a bit bored with February veg, I encourage you to choose one vegetable and explore its possibilities. This week at the cookery school we're focusing on the humble leek, so often tossed into dishes for flavouring, so rarely celebrated in its own right. It is surprisingly satisfying to get back to basics and really appreciate the taste of veg we sometimes take for granted.

Leeks are the mildest of the allium family and have been eaten in Southern Europe since prehistoric times. They are in season from September to April and are a versatile winter crop as they over winter in the ground. They're delicious as baby veg and while maturing, but the really monster specimens are usually woody and flavourless. Buy leeks which have healthy looking green tops. These need to be cut off and can be saved for stocks. The easiest way to clean leeks is to cut them into rings and stand in a bowl or sink of cold water. Allow the mud to settle then scoop out the leeks into a colander. Repeat until the leeks are clean.

Leeks have been called “poor man’s asparagus” and can be eaten with many of the simple ingredients that asparagus also complement: cheeses, olive oil, eggs and garlic. They are lovely roasted or stir fried and are delicious additions to tarts, soups and side dishes. We've chosen some of our favourite leek recipes to showcase the range of leek possibilities.

Leeks

Leek-tastic

From breakfast omelettes to party-time appetizers, these are recipes where the leek gets its chance to shine. 

Leek Bhajis

Soups

Not just potato and leek. (Though we love that too.) Leeks are almost always welcome in a stock pot, but they have some other interesting tricks up their stalks too...

Leek, yogurt and mint soup by Monica

Let us know if you have any leek-tastic recipes!

Or share any leek-related inspiration (artwork? poems?) in the comments below

or, as always, on Twitter or Facebook.

Leek Chic, Vegetarian Living, March 2016

The March 2016 issue of Vegetarian Living is now available and features my latest column of seasonal cooking ideas, tips, recipes and more. This month, inspired by St. David's Day on 1st March, we're celebrating leeks, the underrated heroes of the allium family, which also includes the ubiquitous onion, garlic and spring onions that most of us cook with daily. Learn how to cook with leeks with recipes such as leek pakoras, and Turkish flatbreads with leek and cheese filling.

Click on the link below to read the article in full:

Leek Chic, Vegetarian Living, March 2016

​Lime Marmalade

Guest recipe from our marmalade guru, Christopher Robbins. He'll be teaching a foraging class in May!

The lime is probably the most distinctive and intense flavour of all citrus and makes a uniquely sharp and fresh-tasting marmalade. It replaces the bracing bitterness of the Seville orange with an intense tang. And lime marmalade has the advantage of wide seasonal availability. 

Unlike other citrus, the peel of the lime is very tough. If you are planning to incorporate the peel in your marmalade, you must cook it for much longer than, for example, Seville peel to ensure it is tender. And you must cook the peel before you combine it with the juice and sugar to heat and set the marmalade. I suggest simmering the peel for 2-3 hours, testing for tenderness by squeezing the cut peel between thumb and index finger until it can be severed easily.

Lime Marmalade

To make about 6 x 350g jars of marmalade

Ingredients

1.5 kg limes

1.5 kg white, granulated sugar

500 ml water

Method

  1. Wash the limes and cut off the stalks and the remaining flower at the other end. Cut the fruits into halves around the equator then juice them. Set the juice aside.
  2. Cut the juiced halves finely (you can leave the remaining juice membranes or scrape them out of the peel as preferred) and place in a saucepan with the water. If you can leave overnight, it helps the peel to soften. Bring to the boil and then gently simmer, covered with a lid, for 2-3 hours until completely soft when squeezed between thumb and index finger. You can replace some of the liquid if there is a risk it might boil dry.
  3. When the peel is softened, add the juice and the sugar, stirring to mix and dissolve the sugar before slowly increasing the heat. Stirring as necessary, increase the heat slowly until the mixture boils. Increase the heat to a steady boil, which should soon become an active, rolling boil. It should set in 20-30 min after it starts to boil.
  4. Put the washed jam jars (not the lids) in the oven and heat to 100C to sterilise them. After 10 minutes at temperature, turn off and leave the jars in the oven until needed.
  5. The marmalade will set when the temp reaches about 105C. You can most easily test for the setting point by the wrinkle test. Place a small plate in the fridge before you start heating the mixture. Test by placing about half a teaspoon of the boiling mixture on the chilled plate, spread it to a circle about the size of a 50p coil. Pop back in the fridge for a minute or so. Hold the plate to the light so you can see the light reflecting off the jam and push a finger through the jam. If the surface clearly wrinkles, setting point has been reached. If no wrinkling, add another small circle of jam and repeat the test until wrinkling occurs. 
  6. Remove pan from heat (and the jars from the oven). Leave pan to settle for 10-15 min then pour marmalade into jars. Replace lids immediately, leave to cool, then label before putting away for storage.
Black Sesame Tofu and Noodles

This sesame-crusted marinated tofu is very popular, even with people who thought they didn’t like tofu. Tofu is best marinated in shoyu and ginger, rolled in sesame seeds and fried crisp and crunchy. Serve it as a snack with the marinade as a dipping sauce or with stir-fried winter greens or with noodles. The black sesame seeds add a colour contrast, but don’t worry if you haven’t got any as the recipe works just fine with white sesame seeds.

Black Sesame Tofu and Noodles

Serves: 4 | Dietary: Vegan

Ingredients:

  • 280g plain tofu
  • 250g soba noodles
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 85g green beans, sliced lengthways
  • 2 tbsps hijiki or arame seaweed
  • small handful of fresh sprouts
  • sunflower oil for shallow frying

Marinade

  • 100ml apple juice
  • 4 tbsps shoyu
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • thumb size piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped

Tofu Crust

  • 25g cornflour
  • 3 tbsps black sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsps white sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes

Method:

  1. Slice the tofu horizontally, then cut diagonally into 8 triangles. Place the tofu in a shallow dish.
  2. Mix together the marinade and pour over the tofu. Leave the tofu to marinade for at least a hour, turn the tofu half way through so that it marinated evenly.
  3. Soak the hijiki or arame seaweed in a bowl of hot water for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside
  4. Cook the noodles, according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and stir in the toasted sesame oil to prevent the noodles sticking. You may not need all the cooked noodles.
  5. Mix together the tofu crust ingredients. Take the tofu pieces one at a time and dip into the mix so that the crust sticks to all sides. Shallow fry the tofu, until crisp. Set aside.
  6. Strain the marinade and keep as a dipping sauce.
  7. In a wok, heat a teaspoon of sunflower oil and stir-fry the green beans. Add a few tablespoons of marinade and enough noodles for each person, the drained hijiki and stir fry to heat through.
  8. On each plate serve a mound of the noodle mix and top with two pieces of tofu. Sprinkle with sprouts and use the marinade as a dipping sauce.

Black Sesame Tofu

Tiramisu

Ready-made versions of Tiramisu, which are fluffy and over-sweet, have given this traditional Italian pudding a bad name. The real thing is rich and strongly flavoured with coffee, vanilla and brandy. Tiramisu literally means ‘pick-me-up’ from its energy-giving combination of raw egg, coffee and cream. 

Rachel Demuth's Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 80g vanilla sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 250ml double cream
  • 3 tbsps marsala wine
  • 24 sponge fingers
  • 80g vanilla sugar
  • 300ml shot espresso coffee
  • 2 tbsps coffee liqueur or chocolate liqueur
  • 2 tbsps brandy
  • 100g dark chocolate, peeled into curls
  • 4 tbsps cocoa powder for dusting

Method:

  1. Whisk the egg yolks, vanilla sugar and vanilla essence together in a bowl over steaming hot water until pale and doubled in volume. Whisk together the mascarpone, double cream and marsala together until thick. Whisk the two mixtures together.
  2. Make up the dip for the sponge fingers. Dissolve the vanilla sugar with the hot espresso then add the coffee liqueur and brandy.
  3. Dip the sponge fingers into the coffee mixture, so that they evenly absorb the liquid. You want the sponge fingers to absorb as much liquid as possible without turning soggy.
  4. Line the base and sides of a large bread tin with a strip of baking parchment long enough to hang over at the ends. This will enable you to easily lift the Tirimisu out of the tin to serve.
  5. Aim to make 3 layers of mascarpone and 3 layers of biscuits with 8 sponge biscuits on each layer.
  6. Start with a layer of biscuits, sprinkle over a little dark chocolate and a dusting of cocoa. Spread a layer of the mascarpone mixture all over. Arrange 8 more sponge biscuits on top, more chocolate and cocoa, then another layer of mascarpone and another layer of biscuits, then the last of the chocolate and some more cocoa.
  7. Finish with a mascarpone layer and sift on the remaining cocoa powder.
  8. Chill and leave to set in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. The Tirimisu improves over time and is very good served the next day.
  9. To serve take it out of the tin using the baking parchment tails, serve on an oblong white serving dish cut into thin slices.

Tips: 

  • Try layering the ingredients in small ramekins for individual portions.
  • Delicious as a semi freddo, half frozen, Italian style! 

Rachel Demuth's Tiramisu

Homemade Chinese New Year

Guest post by Christopher Robbins! If you're inspired by his recap, you're in luck! Lydia is teaching a Chinese Takeaway evening class 9 March. 

Chinese cook-in beats Chinese carry-out.

The latest eating out survey results put the Chinese take-away as the most popular take-away meal in Britain (ahead of fish & chips and Indian) in 2015. Two facts spring immediately to mind. The first is that an average adult’s monthly spend of £110 per month on takeaways is about what I spend on cat food. The second is that take-away Chinese food tastes and looks so unlike the traditional home-cooked version that why bother with a carry-out when you can cook-in??? Chinese is one of my favourite ethnic foods. To be able to cook it at home would make me both happy and very popular amongst my friends.

Lydia Downey’s Chinese New Year Feast on Saturday 6th Feb was an inspiring introduction. For me, Chinese cooking is about the best vegetables, interesting and perfectly combined spices and other flavourings, and such simple and quick cooking techniques. I shudder to think how little of the take-away offerings resemble my experience of eating Chinese cooking.

We started with the basics, and they were simple basics. Most were new to us and even the familiar ones (soy sauce, sesame oil, Chinkiang vinegar, ginger root) now have a refreshed appreciation of (shall I say) what to throw out from my cupboard and what to replace them with. We were introduced to fresh lotus root (for crunch), Chinese chives, water chestnut, Chinese dried mushrooms, dried lily buds, rice wine and rice vinegar, and the magic symbolism within Chinese food, from the offering of oranges at the table, to the colour red, the number of crenellations in the seal of the dumplings, and the length of the ‘longevity’ noodles used in a simple vegetable stir-fry.

Highlights

  • The iconic Chinese dumplings were the first skill we learnt. The simple dough was rolled into 7-10 cm circles with a thicker centre to allow filling with julienne cut vegetables in the hand and deftly folding into half like a miniature calzone and then crimping into different shapes. These were steamed. 
  • Lydia showed a method of making Pot Stickers by frying the bases of dumplings in a pan then lidding the pan and steam cooking them. 
  • We made very thin spring rolls with special wrappers. These were lightly deep-fried. Lydia used a cut banana like a Prit-stick, to glue the spring roll sheets as they were rolled up, perfectly, a trick she had learnt from the wonderful Vietnamese chef Noya Pawlyn.
  • Three dishes were made in the must-have wok. Here the simple mastery of technique and perfectly cooked vegetables just shines out. An aubergine dish with lily buds; a three types of tofu with peppers, red and green peppers and black beans; and a perfectly simple Chinese variety of greens cooked whole with the ubiquitous ginger and garlic. Heavenly.
  • Desserts aren’t a feature of Chinese meals, but sweet treats are. Lydia demonstrated special festival Tangyuan rice flour balls, filled with ground, toasted sesame seeds and sweet ginger syrup. These small, smooth slightly chewy balls split onto the tongue a delicious sesame filling. They were not larger than a child’s marble but packed such pleasure.

I knew Lydia learned her cooking by her Chinese mother’s wok when she revealed several secret tips. First, was the peeling of the outer, thin skin from ginger root by drawing the side of a teaspoon across the skin (using it like a potato peeler). The thin skin fell away leaving the outer juicy layer intact. Cool.  And second, a pulverised mixture of spring onion, garlic, and chopped ginger root. Instant flavour enhancer. And you thought Branston Pickle as stock was clever! 

I may not be ready to cook for the Lydia’s family’s Chinese New Year, but I know what it should taste like when I get there.

Christopher Robbins, Feb 9 2016

Vegan Buckwheat Crepes

Pancake Day is just around the corner! And so we ask: flat or fluffy? If you prefer a crepe, these are for you! Buckwheat flour imparts a slightly nutty taste and photogenic speckled look. And the yeast and baking powder give them a light texture we love. Experiment with using soughdough starter instead of yeast for a different depth of flavour. And enjoy!

If you're a fan of fluffy panckes, we also have a vegan Canadian Pancake recipe. Lovely with organic syrup and seasonal fresh fruit. And for more vegan inspiration, check out our huge range of vegan cookery courses.

Vegan Buckwheat Crepes

Dietary: Vegan

Makes 24

Ingredients

  • 200ml soya milk, warm
  • 5g dried instant yeast
  • 10g sugar
  • 100g plain white flour
  • 75g buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • sunflower oil for cooking

Method

  1. To make the batter, mix the yeast, sugar and soya milk together. Leave to sit for 5 minutes for the yeast to dissolve. 
  2. Mix in the flours, salt and baking powder and whisk well for a minute until smooth. Leave to sit for 30 minutes until the batter is bubbly.
  3. Heat a thick-bottomed frying pan until it is evenly hot. Brush lightly with oil and remove the excess with a piece of kitchen roll. 
  4. Spread a ladle full of batter out over the pan in a thin layer.
  5. Wait for a minute for the mix to set and colour up underneath
  6. Turn each pancake over once when golden on the underside and colour the other side.
  7. Repeat the process until all the mixture is used up.
Vegan Canadian Pancakes

Not just for Pancake Day, we enjoy these fluffy delicious pancakes all year! We made these for the first time during a vegan cookery class and they were a total hit stacked up high with maple syrup poured over and lots of seasonal fruit. 

We like to make our pancakes on the small side, four in a pan, which could present a problem if you were hoping for some Pancake Day tossing. But give it a try and let us know how you get on. We always love to see your pictures on Facebook and Twitter!

Hot from the pan

Vegan Canadian Pancakes

Dietary: Vegan

Makes: 12 pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 200g plain white flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 75g plain vegan yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 200ml soya milk
  • 2 tbsps sunflower oil

Method:

  1. Mix together the plain flour with the salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.  
  2. Mix together the plain yoghurt, maple syrup and soya milk and pour this into the flour, whisking well until you have a smooth thick batter. (Alternatively, you can make your life easy by blending all of the batter ingredients in a blender - we use a Froothie 9400 Power Blender.)
  3. To cook the pancakes, heat a drop of sunflower oil in a frying pan, swirl the oil around to cover the whole frying pan.
  4. Drop 2 tablespoons of pancake batter into four places in the frying pan, and over a medium heat cook until the under side of the pancake is golden, and bubbles have appeared throughout. (about 30 seconds)
  5. Loosen the pancakes by shaking the pan and then flick each pancake over and cook for a further 20 seconds.
  6. Continue until you have finished the mix. 

Tips: 

  • Try replacing half the plain white flour with alternative flours.  Our favourite is buckwheat flour, also wholemeal or spelt works well.  For a crunchy crispier texture try rice flour or fine cornmeal.

Pancake Tower Edited

Steamed Chinese Buns

Bāozi are a popular type of Chinese stuffed dumpling made from yeasted wheat flour dough and then steamed in a bamboo steamer. They are usually found on dim sum menus. 

Lydia, our recipe tester and tutor, introduced us to her family recipe for steamed buns with a vegetarian filling. She's teaching an amazing Chinese New Years class on Saturday, 6 February. And we also have a Chinese Takeaway Evening coming up in March!

Vegetable Bāozi | Steamed Chinese Buns

Makes: approx 20 small buns

Dietary: Vegan

Prep Time: 2 hours, Cook Time: 10 minutes

 Ingredients

Dough

  • 450g strong white flour
  • 1 tbsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 275ml lukewarm water

Filling

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 spring onions, chopped finely
  • 5 cm piece of ginger, minced finely
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 200 g chopped mixed vegetables, ex. Chinese leaf or green cabbage shredded finely, grated carrot, mushrooms, fresh or rehydrated shiitake mushrooms, black fungus, cashews
  • 30 g dried tofu skin, rehydrated, shredded and chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp shoyu
  • 1 tbsp Kecap Manis, Indonesian sweet soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp Chinese Shāoxing, made from glutinous sticky rice, or rice wine

Method

Dough

  1. Whisk the sugar and dried yeast into the water and leave to stand until frothy.
  2. Put the flour into a large mixing bowl or stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, and add the yeast liquid, stirring till combined.
  3. Knead by hand for roughly 10 minutes, or mix in the machine till the dough feels smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film, and leave to rest for an hour till doubled in size.

Filling

  1. Finely chop the spring onions, garlic and ginger either by hand or in a mini electric chopper or hand blender.
  2. Prepare all the vegetables.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan, and stir-fry the spring onions, garlic and ginger for about 30 seconds. Add the vegetables and sesame seeds, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the rehydrated tofu skin, shoyu, Kecap Manis, rice wine and sesame oil. Taste and check the seasoning, adding more shoyu if required. It is important to season the mixture really well, as Bāozi fillings tend to be strongly flavoured. Leave the filling mixture to cool.
  4. To make the buns:
  5. Lightly flour your worktop and knead the dough again. It should feel soft, smooth and elastic. Roll into a long sausage shape, and cut into 20 pieces roughly the size of a golf ball. Take a piece of dough, and flatten slightly in the palm of your hand into a small pancake.
  6. Put a heaped teaspoon of filling into the centre, and gather the edges of the dough to the centre, pleating and pinching them together at the top with a little twist. This creates a classic characteristic pattern and shape of the bun.
  7. Cut out 20 small squares of baking parchment, the size of the dumplings
  8. Heat a saucepan of water, for the steamer to fit on to.
  9. Place the Bāozi in the steamer, each sitting on a square of baking parchment allowing space in between each for expansion. Steam on high heat for 10 minutes. Serve hot with a shoyu dipping sauce, or a sweet chilli sauce would go well with the Bāozi.
  10. The cooked steamed buns can be frozen and re-steamed from frozen for 15-18 minutes. Pierce with a metal skewer for 10 seconds and check the heat of the tip of the skewer to test they are hot in the centre of the bun before serving.

Shoyu Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp shoyu
  • 1 tbsp Kecap Manis, Indonesian sweet soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine, made from glutinous sticky rice and has an amber colour and nutty flavour
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli sauce
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • water to mix

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients together and add enough water to make the consistency of a dipping sauce.

Mouthwatering photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Sweet Chilli King Oyster Mushrooms

King oyster mushrooms are the "new kid on the mushroom block." Deliciously dense in texture, they make a good substitute for expensive porcini mushrooms. They go very well with sweet chilli flavours. For this recipe, serve them steaming hot with jasmine rice and sprinkled with cashew nuts and spring onions.

Sweet Chilli King Oyster Mushroom

Serves: 2

Dietary: Vegan

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 king oyster mushrooms
  • 1 banana shallot, sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced

Sauce

  • 3 tbsp shoyu
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 5 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1-3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • a few cashew nuts

Method

  1. Slice the king oyster mushrooms length-ways into thick slices, depending on size, aim to get 4 slices out of each mushroom.
  2. Mix together the sauce ingredients, except for the cornflour and set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil in a frying pan, add the mushrooms and fry until golden tinged, you may need more oil. Remove the mushrooms and set aside.
  4. In the same frying pan, add another tablespoon of sunflower oil, add the sliced shallot and red pepper and cook until beginning to brown, then add the garlic and ginger and quickly stir-fry.
  5. Mix the cornflour with 2 tablespoons of cold water to a smooth paste, then add to the sauce.
  6. Add the mushrooms back to the frying pan, and add the sauce, bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce has thickened.
  7. Serve steaming hot with steamed jasmine rice sprinkled with cashew nuts and spring onions.

​The Magic of Making Marmalade

The Magic (and Science) of Making Marmalade

Guest post by marmalade expert Chistopher Robbins, continuing on from his recipe for Thick Cut Seville Marmalade

It is hard to say when marmalade as we know it became popular in Britain, but before a rather fuzzy period of its history it was known as ‘marmelos’, a thick, sugary, mass of quince fruit paste that was popular in Portugal and Spain. Orange peels also used to be preserved in sugar syrup as a ‘sweetmeat’. Similar treats are still common in tavernas and bars around the Mediterranean. Oranges cooked into the bitter-sweet jelly that we know as marmalade started appearing around the 1750. Home making of marmalade has since become popular throughout the country. Mrs Beeton has recipes in her 1861 edition, and there are many other records of recipes. Who doesn’t have family recipe books with favourite marmalade recipes?

Although British marmalade usually refers to any citrus fruit made into a jam, the classic marmalades are made with Seville oranges. There are many different ingredient combinations and variations on the procedure, but that all draw on the same basic principles. The marmalade draws on the high Seville pectin content (mostly in the white pith of the peel), the acidity in the bitter juice, and the addition of sugar plus heating to achieve an extraction and combination of the pectin and flavours into a heavenly, glowing gel. For the cook, it involves a loving ritual of slicing, mixing, heating, and stirring. Then anxiously waiting for and judging precisely the ideal point at which the pectin will cool to set as a perfect gel that will sit on toast and show off the clean colours and transmogrifying gastronomic orgasm that comes through eating the marmalade.

Filling recycled jars with hot marmalade

The background molecular magic that results in the pleasure is worth a close look as it determines the recipe ingredients and the cooking methods for success. The Sevilles have a unique combination of strong, orange-flavour and a compelling bitterness that enhances the flavour. They also contain a high level of pectin, a class of plant cement that helps keep the plant cells together and working properly. Pectin is a long chain polysaccharide. It is at its highest concentration just before ripening then is broken down as fruits ripen. For jam makers, this pectin makes the jam into a jelly instead of only a runny liquid that would just flow off your toast and down your chin. To make the marmalade jelly, you need this pectin, a low acid environment, and sugar. The oranges have pectin and the acid in the juice. Heating the chopped fruit in water dissolves the pectin and the long chains break into smaller units. The water helps break down the pectin chains into smaller chains, and gives these pieces negative charges that further push the pectin pieces away from each other. The water also dilutes the pectin pieces so there is less tendency for the longer chains to reconnect.

The acidity in the Sevilles (or with added lemon juice if the Sevilles are very ripe) helps by balancing the negative charges with positive charges so the broken chains don’t repel each other so much. The sugar isn't just to sweeten the jam. Its role is more interesting. Sugar molecules attract water from around the pectin chains, making them closer together so the broken chains can start getting closer together again. In so doing, they form a gel as they cool and, BINGO, the hot sugar and fruit solution starts to form a gel ...and....that’s marmalade.

At home you can identify this setting point with a thermometer or by the easily learned skill of pushing your finger through some of the boiling jam that has been placed on a cool plate to cool down. If setting point is reached, you see the ‘wrinkling’ of the surface from the gel starting to form. One interesting feature of the heating the sugar and chopped fruit mixture, is that the formation of the gel occurs at a temp of between 103-105 0C. Pure water boils at 100C, but the dissolved sugar helps push the boiling temperature to the setting point and this sugar concentration will be about 60-65% by weight. The interesting fact is that there is a wide range of tolerance between the amount of juice, added water, and sugar in the recipe. With Sevilles, there is usually enough pectin and acid in the fruit so the water will boil away until the sugar concentration reaches about 60-65% and that pushes the temperature up to the setting point and the marmalade will set.

The difference between adding say two parts sugar to one part fruit weight compared to equal parts of sugar and fruit is first that the 2:1 mix will be sweeter and less orange flavoured than the 1:1 ratio (which will have more orange flavour and sweeteners with bitterness), and the 2:1 will give you 3 parts weight of sweeter marmalade to only 2 parts with the 1:1. For me, I have no hesitation choosing the fuller flavour with less sweetness, even though I get a little less weight of marmalade….but what marmalade!!

The pleasure in making marmalade at home is getting the best and just under-ripe, juicy fruit, and adding the right amount of water and sugar to the chopped fruit, before heating at the right intensity while watching for that setting point to just appear. Then removing the marmalade from the heat and bottling it correctly. There are many combinations of the basic ingredients that will give you perfectly acceptable marmalade to suit your own taste. Make it a few times or share with friends and you will soon find out your preferred recipe. In the next marmalade blog I’ll show you some very different recipes from some rather famous food writers too show you how variable the recipes can be to give a choice of marmalade pleasures.

Christopher Robbins

Jan 2015

Christopher overseeing the marmalade!

Do you have any questions for Christopher?

Please do let us know in the comments below or on  Twitter and Facebook.

5 Tips for Making Perfect Marmalade

I have fond memories of my family's ritual of making orange marmalade in January during Seville orange season, which lasts for just a precious few weeks. If you've never tried making your own marmalade, I really encourage you to give it a go. The result will taste much better than store-bought, and you'll have the pride of mastering a new skill. It might even become a tradition for you as well!

So what's the secret to great marmalade?

1. Pick the best oranges

Seville oranges, so called because they are grown near Seville in southern Spain, are very seasonal. They are available only for a few weeks up to the beginning of February. Don't bite into one like a sweet orange! They are very bitter, and marmalade has this bitterness to thank for its notable flavour.

You can buy Seville oranges from greengrocers and supermarkets. It's best to buy them where you can select your own. Don't be tempted to buy boxes of Sevilles, no matter how pretty they look! You might end up with some duds. Feel each orange to make sure that it's firm, thin skinned, evenly coloured and with no bad bits. You are best off with small, heavy thin-skinned oranges. Discard big puffy light-weight 'blown' oranges as you will end up with lots of pith and not much juice. Buy organic if the quality is good.

Seville Oranges

2. Choose the right time

Marmalade making is a once a year treat, so set aside a winter afternoon or early evening. You don’t want to be waiting for the marmalade to set past midnight on a week night. The process will be much more fulfilling if you are feeling relaxed, so put on some good winter music, make yourself a cuppa, and enjoy this seasonal ritual.

You will also feel more relaxed if you have your jars all washed in advance. You don’t want to be struggling with scraping off old labels while your marmalade is bubbling away.

Slicing the Seville peel

3. Master your techniques

Over the years I have learned a few simple techniques to make the marmalade process quite a bit easier:

  • Over the years I have learned a few simple techniques to make the marmalade process quite a bit easier:
  • Slice your peel with a sharp knife. If your knife is blunt it will be a frustratingly slow business.
  • Before adding the sugar, make sure you simmer the peel until it’s really soft. Don’t skimp on this stage! When you add the sugar, the peel will stop softening.
  • The gelling process continues as the jam cools in the jars, even over the first few weeks of storage. This is why it is best to stop boiling immediately after you detect clear wrinkling with your setting test. For more information about the setting test see our basic recipe for Seville orange marmalade.
  • When you have reached setting point, turn off the heat and leave the marmalade to cool slightly for 10 minutes before bottling.
  • It sounds obvious, but do remember to use your most reliable oven gloves when pouring hot marmalade into a hot jar.
  • A couple of tools can help with the jar-handling business: consider investing in a wide-mouth funnel to make pouring into jam jars easier.

Muscovado Sugar added

4. Try new things

Once you have a basic marmalade down, there are some interesting variations to try:

  • For a dark marmalade use half Muscovado and half white sugar. (Using 100% Muscovado is too dark and strong.)
  • Try adding ingredients such as crystallized ginger, cardamom, coriander, etc. Use your imagination!
  • Label your jars with the name, added ingredients, and the date. It's fun to keep a few from each vintage to compare and contrast later.
  • Use your marmalade in a dessert, such as Seville Orange and Almond Cake with Marmalade and Orange Flower Cream.

Filling recycled jars with hot marmalade

5. Consult with the experts

By making our own marmalade you are entering a community of people who are passionate about this seasonal endeavor. It's always interesting to get tips from other marmalade masters. You could start with us, of course, and our own our basic Seville Orange Marmalade recipe. For more hands-on help (and a fun way to interact with other marmalade fans like you), check out future Marmalade Making classes taught by marmalade expert Christopher Robbins.

There are loads of great marmalade resources out there; here are a few of our favourites:

Christopher overseeing the marmalade!

We genuinely would love to hear about your top marmalade tips

and see photos of your successes.

You can leave a comment below or chat with us on Facebook or Twitter.

​Dark Chocolate Seville Marmalade

A guest post by our  marmalade guru, Christopher Robbins:

There is something in this combination of the decadent atmosphere of a Turkish Souk and a candle-lit, complete-reading of Ali-Baba and the Forty Thieves about the thought of the best dark chocolate blended into the strongest flavoured Seville marmalade. I consider that the flavour of dark chocolate and Seville orange essential oils is one of the most sensual combinations. They go so well together and uniquely so.

The puritans among you might baulk at chocolate with breakfast. But a chocolate lover might not! However, the best dark chocolate melded with the bitter-sweet essential oils of Seville orange is neither chocolate nor marmalade: it is something else instead. And very delicious too.

Marmalade

Dark Chocolate Seville Marmalade

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg Seville oranges
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1.5 kg white granulated sugar
  • 750 ml water.
  • 100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
  • 6 -7 x 1 llb (454g) jars with screw lids

Method

1. Wash the oranges, take out the stalks, and cut them in halves around the equator.

2. Juice the oranges and lemons, removing all the pips. Sieve the juice into a jug and retain the pips.

3 Slice the orange peel. Place two halves of orange on top of each other, hold them firmly, and with a sharp knife slice them about ¼ cm thick. You can also slice the lemon skins if you wish. (The peel can be cut thinner if you like, but don’t be tempted to slice it in a food processor or you are more likely to have a mushy result)

4. Put the sliced oranges and lemons into a large lidded saucepan with 500mls of the water. Cover and simmer gently for 60 minutes to soften the peel. Stir often. When ready, the pith will become more translucent and the peel will easily squash between finger and thumb. Turn off the heat.

5. While the peel is simmering, put the pips in a small saucepan with 250mls of water and simmer for 5 minutes.

6. When the peel is soft, add the juice and the sugar then stir until dissolved. Strain the pectin rich liquid into the marmalade and discard the pips.

7. Put the pan back on the heat, and stirring, slowly bring to the boil. Stir often to stop the marmalade sticking and keep on a slow boil. If a scum forms, lightly scoop it off the surface.

8. Place a saucer or two in the fridge ready to test for setting point. Also place the washed jars (but not the lids) in a medium oven (about 100 C) to sterilise them and heat them so they don’t break when the hot marmalade is poured in.

9. Stir the Marmalade and keep it on the heat until a rolling boil is reached (about for 30-40 minutes) and setting point will be near.

10. To test for setting point, put ½ teaspoon of the marmalade on the cold saucer in a small 50p-sized circle. Put back in the fridge for 30 seconds to cool, then take out, hold up to the light and push your finger through the jam to see if it wrinkles. If it does, it’s ready. If it doesn’t, try again after 1 or 2 minutes.

11. When setting point is reached, turn off the heat and leave for 10-15 min to allow the peel to distribute evenly through the marmalade. (If you bottle it too quickly, the peel is likely to float to the top of the jars). Remove the jars from the oven.

12. Break the chocolate into squares. Place in bowl over simmering water bath until melted. Remove bowl from heat.

13. Fill four 1 llb (454g) jars to within 2-3 cm of the top of the jar. Divide the 100g melted chocolate between the four jars of marmalade. Stir chocolate gently to evenly distribute it. Apply lids and tighten gently.

14. Pour the remaining marmalade into the remaining jars. Immediately put on and tighten the lids gently. Now carefully check lids are on jars correctly and tighten firmly. Wipe off any drips when jars are still warm. Leave the jars to cool before you label. Label all jars before you forget to.

Marmalade

Notes on the Setting Point 

Beginners often end up with jam that either is set like heavy clay, or is as runny as before any boiling. To set into a soft gel, the jam requires acidity, sugar, and pectin at the right temperature. Marmalade making has enough of all three ingredients and the cooking delivers the right temperature. The trick is to boil it enough to raise the temperature to 103-105C, when the sugar content is about 60-65%, but to do so quickly before both the flavour and the essential pectin are damaged.

It is more sensitive to use the wrinkle test than the thermometer. The setting point is just that: a ‘point’. Heat for too long at or beyond setting point and the gel will be damaged. You produce a thick mass not the lovely, light gel. The temperature changes slowly towards the 1050C and you may be watching the temperature for a long while before deciding it was at the right point. Heating for too long after setting point will damage the texture and the flavour.

There is no harm in testing for setting point too early. The marmalade on the plate will be just a patch of syrup. But you will know exactly when the setting point is reached with the first sign of wrinkling. Repeat the test once or twice more until you get a clear wrinkling that remains after your finger has pushed through the patch.

Interestingly, the gelling process continues as the jam cools in the jars and even over the first few weeks of storage. This is why it is best to stop boiling AS SOON AS you detect clear wrinkling, knowing that the jam will ease itself into an impressively delicious gel. Boil for too long after setting point and the result is a heavy, stiff set.

Making excellent marmalade is an art. The art is in the setting point as much as in preserving the flavours.


Christopher Robbins

January, 2016

Green Hemp Harissa

Enjoy this fresh harissa as a condiment to enliven your meals, such as veggie sausages, rice dishes or a vegetable tagine. We especially enjoy it with Rachel's Beetroot, Potato and Apple Latkes. It is best eaten on the day, or can be refrigerated for a few days.

Green Hemp Harissa

Serves: 4

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp agave syrup
  • 3 tbsp water
  • a handful of fresh coriander and fresh mint leaves, chopped

Method

  1. In a frying pan dry-fry the hemp seeds, sesame seeds, cumin and caraway seeds together, until they smell fragrant and begin to colour. 
  2. Grind them up in an electric spice grinder or coffee grinder to a rough powder.
  3. De-seed the chillies and finely chop.
  4. Zest and juice the lime.
  5. Blend together the hemp seed mixture with the chillies, lime juice and zest, salt, olive oil and agave syrup, and add water to mix to a thick custard like consistency. 
  6. Stir in chopped coriander and mint.

Heavenly hemp harissa photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

​Winter Coleslaw with Barberries

This colourful seasonal vegan coleslaw is truly delicious and versatile. It goes wonderfully well with almost any meal. We especially love it alongside baked potatoes, quiches, curries and Eastern noodle or rice dishes. It also adds a lovely fresh crunch to filled pittas and wraps

We have lots more winter recipes on our blog - or check out upcoming classes and diploma courses if you want to become a master of vegetarian or vegan cooking!

Winter Coleslaw with Barberries

Serves 4-6 (6-8 as a side dish)

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 300-400g mixed cabbage - white, green or red
  • a few brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 small parsnip, peeled and grated
  • 1/4 small celeriac, peeled and grated (or 1 stick celery finely chopped)
  • 1 small beetroot, peeled and grated
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and sliced
  • Handful of parsley, large stalks removed
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • Handful of dried barberries, soaked, drained and rinsed
  • Handful of sunflower seeds, toasted
  • Handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted

Dressing

  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon or lime
  • Optional: agave syrup
  • Optional: red chilli, seeded and finely diced
  • Sea salt

Method

  1. Finely shred the cabbages and brussels sprouts by hand or using the slicer attachment of a food processor and place into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the grated carrot, parsnip, celeriac and beetroot.
  3. Finely slice the red onion and place into a small bowl of cold water, making sure it is fully submerged. This will help to remove the strong pungency of the onion flavour, and crisp up the texture.
  4. Chop the fresh herbs roughly, and add to the grated vegetables.
  5. To make the dressing, squeeze the lemon or lime and mix the juice with the olive oil and red chilli if using. Taste and add enough agave syrup to slightly sweeten.
  6. Drain the onion in a sieve, then add to the other vegetables.
  7. Pour over the dressing and mix thoroughly through the coleslaw.
  8. Season with a pinch of salt and taste. Add a little more salt, oil or lemon if necessary.
  9. Sprinkle over the barberries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  10. This coleslaw will keep for up to 3 days in a container in the fridge.

Scrumptious photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Orecchiette with Purple Sprouting Broccoli

In southern Italy this dish is made with broccoli raab (also known as rapini or locally as cime di rapa) which is not easily available in the UK. So I've substituted purple sprouting broccoli as an alternative. This sauce will go well with any dry pasta shapes that you have in your cupboard, but it is outstanding with your own vegan homemade orecchiette pasta.

If you're interested in southern Italian cuisine, take a look at our upcoming vegetarian Italian cookery classes. Or better yet, come on our cooking holiday in Apulia in late September! 

Orecchiette with Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Dietary: Vegan

Serves 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes, Cook Time: 35 minutes

Orecchiette WebRes-8091

Ingredients

  • 400g fresh orecchiette pasta
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 large red chilli, chopped, (optional)
  • 24 large cherry tomatoes, left whole
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice
  • 600g purple sprouting broccoli
  • 2 tbsp capers (optional)
  • salt and black pepper
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Orecchiette WebRes-8151

Method

  1. Fry the green pepper and garlic in the olive oil for a few minutes, until softened. 
  2. Add the chilli and continue to sauté for a few more minutes. 
  3. Add the cherry tomatoes, lemon juice and zest and cook for 20 minutes with a lid on. Squash the cherry tomatoes lightly. 
  4. Continue to stir the sauce for a few minutes and, if it looks a little dry, add some of the boiling pasta water (see below) to loosen it up. Season with salt and black pepper.
  5. Remove the thick stems and any outer leaves from the purple sprouting broccoli and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and refresh in cold water.
  6. Add the purple sprouting broccoli to the sauce stir well and cook for a further 3 minutes. If you want, add capers at the same time as the purple sprouting broccoli.
  7. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta, (retain some of the water to add to the sauce) and add it into the pan with the sauce. Mix everything together well. 
  8. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil.

Orecchiette WebRes-8200

Photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Orecchiette Pasta

Orecchiette is the most traditional of the hand-made Southern Italian pastas. It gets its name for being shaped like a "small ear." Made with just flour and water, it's perfect for vegans! If you're interested in  vegan or traditional Italian cookery, do take a look at our upcoming classes.

Orecchiette WebRes-7954

Orecchiette

Ingredients 

  • 300g pasta flour 
  • 100ml warm water to mix 

Orecchiette WebRes-8013

Method 

  1. Mix the flour with the warm water to make a firm dough. 
  2. Shape into 6 sausages and roll on a board dusted with flour to the diameter of a centimetre.
  3. Cut into 1 cm long pieces and then using the rounded point of a knife, push them into the little ear shape. 
  4. Turn the inside out with the help of your forefinger tip, so that the concave part of the pasta is smooth, while the convex part is rough. 
  5. Leave the orecchiette to dry on a floured board before cooking.
  6. Cook the orecchiette in plenty of salted water, drain and mix with tomato sauce. Or try it with homemade sauce in Orecchiette with Purple Sprouting Broccoli.

Orecchiette WebRes-8027

 Tips

  • To make macaroni, roll as for orecchiette and then cut into 2 ½ cm lengths and then with a thin square edged rod, hold with your left hand and roll the pasta length on to the rod. Slip the pasta roll off the rod and leave to dry. 
  • To make Sagna Incannulata, roll out a piece of dough thinly with a rolling pin, slice into 2 cm wide and 10 cm long pieces and curl them like a twisted ribbon and leave to dry.

Orecchiette WebRes-8044

Photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Healthy Vegetarian Breakfast Ideas

At the cookery school we're enjoying Breakfast Week and chatting about our favourite healthy vegetarian breakfasts. We have different ideas about what makes the perfect morning meal, but we all agree that it's easy to make breakfast vegetarian or vegan. So if you're trying to do Meat Free Monday or Vegan Before 6, that's a third of your meals sorted! 

We also decided that it's common for people to get into a routine of eating the same thing every morning. So this week I want to challenge you to try something new, whether it's supplementing your usual breakfast with a healthy balanced smoothie or making your own bread and marmalade. Here are some of our best ideas for how to liven up what could be the most important - and most delicious! - meal of your day.

Monica Smoothie

1. Smoothies

For those who prefer a light breakfast, smoothies can be a wonderful complete meal. If your body craves heavier fare first thing in the morning, a smoothie is a delicious supplement and wonderful way to get more fruit and veg before lunch. The main thing is to not let your smoothie become a sugar bomb! As our resident smoothie expert  Monica Shaw notes, "Many smoothies, including many pre-bottled smoothies, are full of as much sugar as a can of Coca-Cola." A balanced smoothie has fruit, veg, nuts and seeds for a nutritious blend of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Try eating your smoothie in a bowl sometimes. It will feel more like a traditional breakfast...and there's extra room for healthy toppings!


2. Breakfast Bowls

In the winter porridge is a warming healthy option. Porridge has a lot of potential when it comes to healthy toppings. Perhaps you can challenge yourself to try a different mix of nuts, seeds and berries every day for a week? Or mix things up with a chia pudding, quinoa berry bowl or overnight bircher muesli? 

Tom Herbert

3. Toast and Jam

For many people, breakfast isn't breakfast without toast. And we believe there's nothing quite like making your own bread. Whether you're new to baking or want to learn more, we offer baking courses where you can improve your skills and have lots of fun learning from our experts. And the same goes for jam. Plum jam is one of my favourites, for its intense colour and unique flavour. It's perfect for beginners because it will set without fail. But right now, from late January to early February, is the season for making Seville Orange Marmalade and here are some of our top tips for perfect marmalade.

Pancakes and Fruit

4. Around the World

Sure, you could grab a croissant and imagine you're in Paris this morning. But why not let your imagination wander even farther? Mexico, Egypt, Turkey, Canada and India are just some of the places your breakfast can take you.

5. On the Go

Whether you're travelling or commuting, sometimes you have to eat your breakfast on the go. Smoothies are a great option as they take so little time to make. Raw bars of all sorts are easy to prepare ahead of time and travel well. You can use your spare fruit - and veg! - to make delicious muffins. And of course we'd be poor residents of Bath if we didn't encourage the occasional Bath Bun as a special treat.

Muesli and Coffee by Monica

What have we missed? 

Please let us know about your favourite vegetarian or vegan breakfasts.

You can leave a comment below or chat with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Vegan Haggis

This vegan haggis is perfect comfort food for any cold winter night. It's especially festive for a Burns Night supper, celebrating the great poet Robert Burns annually on 25 January. Traditional foods include haggis, bowls of steaming "neeps and tatties," and, of course, a dram (or more) of Scotch whisky! This recipe was created by our always inventive chef tutor Lydia Downey and features in The Daily Express and The Bath Chronicle

Vegan Haggis

Serves: 4-6

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten-Free Option

Ingredients

  • 100g lentils- puy, beluga, green or brown (not red or split)
  • 75g pearl barley or toasted buckwheat (gluten free option)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped finely
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 100g Shitake or chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground mace
  • 100g rolled oats or cooked brown rice (gluten free option)
  • 75g cashews, chopped roughly
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried
  • 2 tbsp shoyu
  • 1 tbsp dark miso paste
  • 500ml hot vegetable stock

Method

  1. Generously oil a large pudding basin or individual ramekins or dariole moulds.
  2. Cook the Puy lentils and barley in separate pans till just tender, but still retaining some ‘bite’ for approximately 20 minutes. Drain and leave to one side.
  3. Heat the stock in a pan and keep on a low heat.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large pan, and on a medium to low heat, fry the onion for 5-10 minutes till soft and beginning to go translucent.
  5. Add the carrot and cook for a few minutes, till just beginning to soften and brown.
  6. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the mushrooms (you may need an extra tbsp or two of olive oil) and fry, adding the spices after a minute or so.Add the lentils and oats, stirring well to combine with the vegetables.
  7. Add the hot stock, the shoyu, and miso, and simmer until the mixture is very thick, adding a little water if necessary. Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.Stir in the pearl barley, cashew nuts, and chopped thyme, and taste the mix for seasoning. Remove from the heat.
  8. Spoon into the basin, ramekins or moulds, cover with a piece of baking parchment, and a piece foil scrunched around the rim to seal, and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the paper and foil and bake for another 20 minutes.
  9. Turn out onto a serving plate and serve with mashed or roasted swede, sautéed greens and mashed potatoes.

Tips: 

  • Instead of baking in a pudding mould, make small patties, coat in breadcrumbs or oats, and fry or bake till crisp on both sides.

Recipe by Lydia Downey.

 

Seville Orange Marmalade

If you've never tried making your own marmalade, we encourage you to give it a go. The result will taste much better than store-bought, and you'll have the pride of mastering a new skill. It might even become a tradition. Below is our entry-level marmalade recipe from guru Christopher's recipe for Thick Cut Seville Marmalade. 

Seville oranges, so called because they are grown near Seville in southern Spain, are very seasonal. They are only available for a few weeks up to the beginning of February. For quick guidance on shopping, and variations, check out Rachel's top tips on making perfect marmalade. And if you get really into it, cozy up with a cuppa and immerse yourself in Christopher's entertaining guest post on the magic - and science! - of marmalade

Thick Cut Seville Marmalade

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo Seville oranges
  •  Juice of 1 lemon (use wax-free if you add the rind)
  • 1 kilo granulated sugar
  • 500ml water

Filling recycled jars with hot marmalade

Method

1. Wash the oranges, take out the stalks, and cut them in halves around the equator.

2. Juice the oranges and the lemon, removing all the pips. Sieve the juice into a jug and retain the pips.

3 Slice the orange peel thickly (or thiner if you prefer). Place two halves of orange on top of each other, hold them firmly, and with a sharp knife slice them about ¼ cm thick. You can also slice the lemon skins if you wish. (The peel can be cut thinner if you wish, but don’t be tempted to slice it in a food processor or you are more likely to have a mushy result)

4. Put the sliced oranges and lemons into a large lidded saucepan with 300mls of the water. Cover and simmer gently for 60 minutes to soften the peel. Stir often. When ready, the pith will become more translucent and the peel will easily squash between finger and thumb. Turn off the heat.

5. While the peel is simmering, put the pips in a small saucepan with 200mls of water and simmer for 5 minutes.

6. When the peel is soft, add the juice and the sugar then stir until dissolved. Strain the pectin rich liquid the pips are simmering in, and discard the pips.

7. Put the pan back on the heat, and stirring, slowly bring to the boil. Stir often to stop the marmalade sticking and keep on a slow boil. If a scum forms, lightly scoop it off the surface.

8. Place a saucer or two in the fridge ready to test for setting point.

Also place the washed jars (but not the lids) in a medium oven (about 140C) to sterilise them and heat them so they don’t break when the hot marmalade is poured in.

9. Stir the marmalade and keep it on the heat until a rolling boil is reached (about for 30-40 minutes) and setting point will be near.

10. To test for setting point, put ½ teaspoon of the marmalade on the cold saucer in a small 50p-sized circle. Put back in the fridge for 30 seconds to cool, then take out, hold up to the light and push your finger through the jam to see if the surface wrinkles. If it does, it’s ready. If it doesn’t, try again after 1 or 2 minutes.

11. When setting point is reached, turn off the heat and leave for 10-15 mins to allow the peel to distribute evenly through the marmalade. (If you bottle it too quickly, the peel is likely to float to the top of the jars).

12. Pour the marmalade into the jars, holding the hot jar with an oven glove, using a small heat-proof jug or a pouring funnel. Immediately put on the lids, wipe off any drips when still warm. Tighten the lids. Leave the jars to cool before you label. Label before you forget to.

Tips

  • For a Dark Marmalade add an extra 250g muscovado sugar. Don’t be tempted to add more than 50:50 muscavado unless you like the ‘molasses’ flavour more than you do the Seville orange.
  • For added flavour add 250g chopped crystalised ginger when you take the marmalade off the heat. You can add the ginger alone or added with the muscavado is doubly delicious.

Note on setting point

Beginners often end up with jam that either is set like heavy clay, or is as runny as before any boiling. To set into a soft gel, the jam requires acidity, sugar, and pectin and at the right temperature. Marmalade making has enough of all three ingredients and the cooking delivers the right temperature. The trick is to boil it enough to raise the temperature to 105 0C, when the sugar content is about 60-65%, but to do so quickly before both the flavour and the essential pectin are damaged. But this ‘setting’ point is not a precise setting point, and experience shows that some batches will be set but some may have to be increased another 3-50 to get a set.

It is more sensitive to use the wrinkle test than the thermometer. The setting point is just that: a ‘point’. Heat for too long at or beyond setting point and the gel will be damaged. You produce a thick mass not the lovely, light gel. The temperature changes slowly towards the 1050C and you may be watching the temperature for a long while before deciding it was at the right point. Heating for too long after setting point will damage the texture and the flavour.

There is no harm in testing for setting point too early. The marmalade on the plate will be just a patch of syrup. But you will know exactly when the setting point is reached with the first sign of wrinkling. Repeat the test once or twice more, if you are unsure, until you get a clear wrinkling that remains after your finger has pushed through the patch.

Interestingly, the gelling process continues as the jam cools in the jars and even over the first few weeks of storage. This is why it is best to stop boiling AS SOON AS you detect clear wrinkling, knowing that the jam will ease itself into an impressively delicious gel. Boil for too long after setting point and the result is a heavy, stiff set.

Making excellent marmalade is an art. The art is in the setting point as much as in the flavours. Simple experience will polish your art and maximize your satisfaction.

Recipe from Christopher Robbins.

Marmalade on the boil

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