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Festive Vegetarian Christmas Mains

What makes the perfect centrepiece for a vegetarian Christmas dinner? We test new recipes every year, and our answer is always changing. As you'll see below, we love pies, or anything wrapped in pastry - they're easy to make ahead, easy to transport, and perfect for feeding a crowd. We also love to incorporate other flavours from around the world. Don't be shy about shirking the traditional and taking inspiration from Morrocco or India for your vegetarian Christmas dinner. Such cuisines offer inspiration for celebration dishes that are inherently vegetarian or vegan, and can elevate your plate from an assortment of boring roasted veg to something truly special and exotic. Here are a few of our favourite Christmas recipes this year, most of which can easily be made vegan: 

Mushroom, Ale and Celeriac Pie: It's worth making this pie ahead as the filling tastes even better the next day. This recipe is vegan when made with vegan puff pastry.


Christmas squash pithivier

Christmas Squash Pithivier: This gorgeous vegetarian Christmas main dish is filled with brandied mushrooms, greens and cranberry chestnut stuffing. The stuffing also doubles as a side dish, and you can make stuffing balls with the remaining mixture.


Vegetarian festive bastilla

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 (we love the coiled effect!).


Vegetarian Christmas Wellington

Christmas Wellington: This recipe is our take on a classic Wellington using tasty mushrooms and pearl barley, as well as a delicious, light pastry that is much easier to make than puff pastry (and healthier too).


Celeriac, Leek, Chestnut, and Cranberry Pie

Celeriac, Leek, Chestnut, and Cranberry Pie: This pie combines some of our favourite seasonal flavours and when you slice into it, has the most stunning cross section. You can easily make this pie vegan by using a butter substitute for the pastry (the filling is already vegan, unless you add one of our optional extras like cheese or cream).


Vegetarian Tagine with Fennel, New Potato and Green Olives

Vegetarian Tagine with Fennel, New Potato and Green Olives: Not your usual Christmas fair but most certainly a celebration dish that looks beautiful on the table. It's a great way to celebrate the best seasonal winter vegetables, such as squash, sweet potato, and carrots, but feel free to get creative with whatever vegetables you have to hand! 


If you're in charge of the feast this year, you might also want to take a look at Rachel's top holiday tips and recipes:

We also have some fabulous Christmas cookery classes that are full of good cheer and great ideas!

What are you serving for your veggie Christmas main?

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Fermentation with Lucie Cousins

Today we welcome this guest post from Christopher Robbins, our resident foraging expert and marmalade maker, who sat in on our recent fermentation course hosted by Lucie Cousins. Here's his recap of this wonderful and inspiring day of tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. Lucie's next fermentation course will be on 25th February 2017.

As if there isn’t enough trouble with perfectly good food that we buy starting to ferment by the time it gets home, I couldn’t resist this course of how to deliberately ferment foods.

I was soon aware of my error but also of the already fermenting foods that were taken for granted (and that is I am totally fond of: good ale, wine, Vacherin cheese, and of course my live yoghurts). I began to concentrate of the tutor.

Lucie Cousins has a good history and another job in soft, white-moulded cheese making. That started her curiosity into  tempeh, the fermented whole soybean that develops a similar white, furry, fungal coating over and between the soybeans. She has already been marketing her tempeh in Bath. For today, she was introducing us to both some anaerobic (without any need for oxygen for the air) lactic acid bacteria fermentation, and some aerobic ferments. All were easy to make and care for, Lucie promised.

Tempeh had been made in Lucie’s kitchen. For those who can’t be bothered with the likes of tofu and Quorn, tempeh is as close to manna as you can get short of a night hike across the Sinai desert. Two packs of whole, cooked soybeans were presented looking as though they were beautiful ripe cheeses. The beans were visible all covered in a tight coating of soft, white mould. Like knobbly Camemberts. These were marinated for later frying, or smoked in cherry wood shavings for a different edge. Both delicious and so unlike tofu. To make the Tempeh, the beans are cooked and dehulled and a bought inoculum is added before setting aside to ferment at 30C in aerobic conditions in as little as 2-3 days.

fermentation course with lucie cousins - making kimchi

The two anaerobic fermentation products, Sauerkraut and Kimchi were both different methods of turning cabbage into something a happy remove from the wet dog smell of school days past. Both so simple and also quick.

The Sauerkraut was simple finely shredded cabbage (red or white) that was wrung and squeezed in our hands to bread the skin and put the resident bacteria and yeasts on the surface in contact with the juices inside. Salt was added to make the desirable organisms happy and to deter some undesirables. Just enough salt, not too much or too little. To this basic vegetable we could add any of several other vegetables to colour or flavour. I added a grated Ribston pippin apple, ½ a raw beetroot a small piece of celeriac and the juice from about 6 cms or a fat ginger root (detailed quantities will be released if the Sauerkraut is better than a bought jar!). Bu the time it was wrung and squeezed there was already cabbage juice in the bowl. The mixture was packed into a Hamilton seal jar, a disc of cabbage leaf placed on top and a cabbage crown on that, so when the lid was lowered all the grated veggies were beneath the liquid and under the sealed lid: happily anaerobic. The fermentation takes 1-6 weeks at about 28-30C. That can be happy in my kitchen then.

The Kimchi used the leaves and thick ribs of a Chinese cabbage. This time, the cabbage was cut into bite-sized chunks, sprinkled with salt and left to ‘brine’ overnight. A flavour paste was made with onion, garlic, ginger and a dried mushroom broth. This was added to the washed and spun brined cabbage and packed into an airtight sealable jar. This Kimchi ferments in 1-3 weeks and at a cooler temp of 14-18C.

vegetarian kimchi

These ferments are relatively easy to keep working with only a healthy mix of bacteria and mounds working away…I do adore Kimchi so I can produce edible product as easily as that I can toss the Branston pickle!!

We then moved onto two aerobics that the hippies were all on back…back when there were hippies. That’s Kefir and Kombucha. These are similar to each other, and require aerobic conditions. Both use a special collection of bacteria and yeasts to ferment. These inoculums ‘grow’ in the fermentation vessel and have to be looked after rather like my own Sourdough starter. The Kefir originated in the Caucuses where it ferments milk, but other liquids can be used from sweetened tea or fruit juices. The Kefir ‘grains’ are soft, granular grey masses that sit happily on the bottom when working. The fermentation takes only a few days and the liquid can be decanted and the whole lot restarted.

The Kombucha has a fermentation inoculum known as a SCOBY ( Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast), which apart from looking like the growth you get in the coffee pot if left unwashed while you go on a months holiday, sounds like a small pet dog breed. The devotees of the SCOBY seem to treat them like pet dogs, talking to them, sharing off-spring with friends, and I’m sure take them for walks in the park. It’s a ferment supporter’s thing.

The good thing about Kefir and Kombucha is that you can produce a litre of so of pleasant tasting drink from each fermentation jar twice a week or so, and it is said to be both rich in vitamins (from the organisms) and it works like a probiotic (again the organisms are considered good organisms displacing bad organisms in the gut rather like live yoghurt is meant to do).

Making kombucha with Lucie Cousins

There are health concerns about both Kombucha and Kefir. These seem concerned with the fact that both are aerobic and exposed to the atmosphere. It is easy to see how other organisms can contaminate the ‘soup’ and these may be harmful. I could find no good evidence for harmful results, but there seems an unresolved issue here. I don’t see why this cannot be minimised by strict adherence to sterilising fermentation vessels, washing the ‘grains’ of SCOBY after each batch, and discarding any odd colouring or off flavour/aroma batches. Both have been around in originating countries for centuries, which is encouraging, but the modern production methods may be breaking the safety rules the ancient methods had built in.

Fermentation is interesting and can be fun. But it can also he harmful to the ill-informed. All those supermarket ‘Sell by’ dates are usually protecting us from fermenting or ‘going off’ foods becoming harmful if eaten.

I enjoyed the class, learned loads, and was pleased to see how Lucie emphasised the ease as well as the safety of procedures to give us fermented pleasures for the table.

Fermentation course with Lucie Cousins

If you'd like to learn the art of fermentation, Lucie will be back on Saturday 25 February 2017 for another full day fermentation course. We hope to see you there!

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Celeriac, Leek, Chestnut and Cranberry Pies

If you're looking for a  festive vegetarian main dish for Christmas or Thanksgiving, pies are a great option as they're beautiful, delicious, and great for feeding a crowd. This Celeriac, Leek, Chestnut and Cranberry Pie features on our Christmas courses and combines some of our favourite seasonal flavours. You can easily make this pie vegan by using a butter substitute for the pastry (the filling is already vegan, unless you add one of our optional extras like cheese or cream). It's also a very handy dish to make ahead, especially if you want a vegetarian option to take along to a feast. Just pop it in the oven and enjoy! 

Celeriac, Leek, Chestnut and Cranberry Pies

Serves: 1 large pie or 4 individual pies using large (100ml) ramekins or 3 inch metal rings

Dietary: Vegan Option

Ingredients:

For the pastry

  • 300g plain flour
  • 150g butter (or margarine if vegan)
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • A little water as needed
  • Milk to glaze
  • Olive oil to rub the pie tin

For the filling

  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 small celeriac, peeled and cubed into 1 cm cubes
  • 100g pre-cooked chestnuts
  • A small glass of white wine or dry sherry
  • A handful of chopped sage and thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • Rapeseed oil to cook
  • 4 tbsp cranberry sauce – either homemade or shop bought
  • Optional extras: grated cheddar or vegetarian Parmesan cheese, cubes of Brie or Stilton, a splash of cream

Method:

For the pastry

  1. Preheat oven to Gas mark 6/200C
  2. Put the flour and butter into a bowl (or a food processor) and rub (or whiz) until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the mustard and stir in well, or whiz, until the mixture forms a ball. If the mixture is too dry add a little water until it comes together easily. Wrap the pastry in cling-film and leave in the fridge to chill for at least an half an hour, this can be left overnight and will keep for 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.
  3. Split the pastry into the number of pies you want to make and then take about 2/3 of each ball to make the pie case-the rest if for making the lid. Roll out the larger ball of pastry out to a thickness of 2mm with a rolling pin. Rub the inside of the ramekins or rings with olive oil and push the pastry gently into the dish so that it goes into all of the edges and hangs over the top. Trim off the overhang to 1cm below the top of the ramekin (the pastry will shrink when cooking). You will be left with extra pastry for topping the pies later-wrap this in cling-film so it doesn’t dry out.
  4. Bake the pasty blind (no filling) for 10 minutes – if you have some you can do this with baking beans on a piece of greaseproof paper. Remove the beans and paper and return to the oven for 5 minutes-the pastry should look dry; if it is wet return it to the oven for a further 5 minutes.

For the filling

  1. Heat a large saucepan and 2 tbsp of rapeseed or vegetable oil. Add the leeks and gently cook, with the lid on, for 10 minutes, checking that the leeks aren’t colouring as you cook.
  2. Add the garlic and celeriac and raise the temperature-fry the celeriac until it is starting to turn golden around the edges. Add the chestnuts, wine and herbs and stir well. If you want to add a splash of cream and/or cheese you can add it now.
  3. Cook for 10 minutes or until the celeriac is just cooked-you may need to add a splash of water or wine to stop it from drying out. Taste and add salt, pepper, lemon juice and more herbs to your taste.

To assemble the pies

  1. Carefully divide the filling mixture between the pastry cases (any leftovers are great to serve as a side dish or kept for leftovers the next day) make a hole in the middle of the filling and place in a spoonful of Cranberry Sauce and then push the celeriac filling over the top of the Cranberry.
  2. Brush the top edge of the pastry with olive oil. Roll out the remaining pastry and place over the top of the ramekins. Press the edges securely and press a fork around the edges to seal.
  3. Using a sharp knife trim off the cooked overhang and the uncooked pastry top neatly.
  4. If you like you can decorate the pies with shapes such as stars, holly or whatever cutters you have or shape you can cut with a knife. Stick these on with a little water and glaze all over the top of the pie with soya milk.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes until the top of the pies are golden. If you want to freeze or reheat the pies don’t overcook them at this stage, if you are eating them straight away bake for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and then carefully turn out the pies.

Vegetarian celeriac, leek, chestnut, and cranberry Christmas pie

Check out our Christmas courses for hands-on festive cooking inspiration. Or browse our vegetarian Christmas recipes for more holiday recipes!

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Top Tips for a Vegetarian Thanksgiving

American Thanksgiving is a celebration in the tradition of the British harvest festival. Autumn is a good time to reflect on how fortunate we are to enjoy beautiful and healthy food, and then prepare and eat that food with friends and family! Many people associate Thanksgiving with that very American bird, the turkey. But there are lots of outstanding plant-based vegetarian and vegan dishes - from green bean casserole to pumpkin pie - that  are perfect for a colourful and satisfying vegetarian feast. Here are some tips and recipes to make the most of Thanksgiving, or any autumn or winter celebration.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving: The Basics

  • Be bold with your main dish and nobody will miss a turkey. Try one of our show-stopping mains below!
  • Try for a variety of colour in your side dishes and pudding. It's fairly easy to get orange from squash and pumpkin, red from cranberries, and green from, well, greens. But add a pinch of saffron to parsnips for a pleasing sunshiny yellow, or make your Thanksgiving dessert with lovely deep purple berries.
  • Celebrate the season. Get outdoors and forage for rosehips for rosehip jelly, or sloes for sloe gin to enjoy next year. An easier alternative is cranberry gin. Next year you'll be glad you made the effort!
  • At the Thanksgiving dinner table, many American families ask each person at the table to name something they are thankful for. You could also try this at Christmas, or maybe just jot down your own list sometime. On that note, we are incredibly thankful for our Demuths community. You are all amazing!

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Vegetarian Starters

Vegan mushroom hazelnut and smoked tofu pate

Thanksgiving Vegetarian Main Dishes

Vegan mushroom, ale, and celeriac pie

Thanksgiving Vegetarian Side Dishes

It's all about the side dishes! 

Thanksgiving Puddings and Desserts 

Vegan Sticky Toffee Pudding

Spicy Christmas Canapés, Vegetarian Living, December 2016

The December 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 Christmas canapés! Festive canapés can be a little disheartening for vegetarians, and even more so for vegans and those on a gluten-free diet. The usual vegetarian fare tends to be either on bread or pastry, laden with cheese and cream, and often deep-fried, which can ruin your appetite for the main meal. A canapé should be an appetite enlivener, a little zingy spicy taste to accompany a drink. This article shows you how to liven up your holiday canapés with delicious and impressive recipes like Spicy Apricot KoftasThai Tofu Balls, and Mini Masala Dosas

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

Spicy Christmas canapés, Vegetarian Living, December 2016

Mushroom, Ale and Celeriac Pie

Our vegan mushroom, ale, and celeriac pie makes a fantastic vegetarian centrepiece for  ThanksgivingChristmas, or any festive occasion. It's perfect for feeding a crowd and tastes even better the next day (not that you'll have any leftovers). This recipe is vegan when made with vegan puff pastry. We prefer to buy blocks of puff pastry which is better value than the ready rolled pastry and can be rolled out to fit a large pie dish. Should have leftovers, be sure to reheat in a hot oven, never in a microwave, which will turn the pie soggy and tough!

  vegan mushroom ale and celeriac pie 

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.

Vegetarian vegan mushroom ale and celeriac pie  

Related Links

Delicious photography by Rob Wicks

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Vegetarian Canapés and Party Nibbles

Colourful canapés are a great way to start a party. We've been getting creative with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free canapés with a view towards creating irresistible party nibbles that are both beautiful and delicious. A great canapé should be as fun to look at as they are to eat. While the recipes below are guest-approved, we also encourage you to embrace seasonal veg and add your own little touches.


Indian Spiced Rostis (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Indian Spiced Rostis with 3 chutneys

We often like to make mini rostis as party canapés and this time we've added some Indian inspiration to the mix. Cumin seeds, curry powder, and turmeric combine to make an Indian spice version of our favourite rostis. Serve with a range of chutneys for the perfect party snack. 

Get the recipe: Indian Spiced Rostis


Spicy Apricot Koftas (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Vegetarian Apricot Koftas

These vegetarian Middle Eastern koftas are spicy with sweet undertones and finished with tahini and pomegranate. The little gem lettuce leaf boats make them easy to eat too!

Get the recipe: Spicy Apricot Koftas


Thai Tofu Balls (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Thai Tofu Balls

The idea for this recipe comes from traditional Thai fish balls, but made with tofu instead of fish. With the rice flour as our as a binder they hold together beautifully and look unique with lemongrass stalks as skewers. We’ve placed them on squares of banana leaf for that added Thai feel.

Get the recipe: Thai Tofu Balls


Mini Masala Dosas (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Mini Masala Dosas

A Masala Dosa is a pancake filled with spiced potatoes and often served with chutney. In India, dosas are often made at the front of cafes for breakfast; the chefs have a knack of making them thin, crisp and huge, then deftly wrapping them around a filling. This is our quick version made canapé style with the spiced potatoes rolled up with three chutneys.

Get the recipe: Mini Masala Dosas


Celeriac and Potato Rostis (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Celeriac and Potato Rostis

These celeriac and potato rostis make a superb vegetarian canapé for special occasions and dinner parties. We love to serve them as bite sized party food on top of griddled sourdough rounds and topped with caper berries and blue cheese.

Get the recipe: Celeriac and Potato Rostis


Tricolour Bread Swirls (Vegan)

Vegetarian Tricolour Pastry Swirls with Pesto and Tapenade

A pastry swirl rolled up with your filling of choice - we like watercress and walnut pesto, but olive tapenade also works a treat.

Get the recipe: Tricolour Bread Swirls


Homemade Labna Cheese (Gluten Free)

Homemade Labna Balls rolled in herbs

Labna is essentially cheese made out of strained yoghurt. Once strained, the thick yoghurt can be rolled into balls and coated with colourful herbs, dukkah, or paprika. Serve alongside crisp bread or with a drizzle of olive oil and sprigs of fresh herbs.  

Get the recipe: Homemade Labna Cheese


Our Festive Canapés class offers even more inspiration for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free canapés. 

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More than just kimchi, Vegetarian Living, November 2016

The November 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 vegetarian Korean food... and not just kimchi! Koreans follow the oriental rule of five tastes: salt, sweet, sour, hot and bitter. Salt comes from soy sauce and bean paste, sweet from sugar and sweet potatoes, sour from vinegar, hot from chilli peppers and mustard, and bitter from ginger. In addition to the five tastes, they follow an arrangement of five traditional colours of red, green, yellow, white and black when preparing dishes, which will ensure a nutritious variety of ingredients. This article explores vegetarian Korean cuisine through recipes such as bibimbap, kimbap, and kimchi stew. 

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

More than just kimchi..., Vegetarian Living, November 2016

Indian Spiced Rostis with 3 Chutneys

We often like to make mini rostis as party canapés and this time we've added some Indian inspiration to the mix. Cumin seeds, curry powder, and turmeric combine to make an Indian spice version of our favourite rostis. Serve with a range of chutneys for the perfect party snack. An especially great option if you're looking to serve something different at your holiday party this year! 

Indian Spiced Rostis with 3 Chutneys

Makes approx 20

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten free

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 medium (approx 200g) white potatoes, grated
  • 1 medium parsnip (approx 200g), grated
  • 1 large banana shallot or small onion, sliced very thinly
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted 
  • 2 tsp Indian spice mix/curry powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp gram flour
  • sunflower oil for frying

Method

  • Mix the potato, parsnip, shallot and ¼ tsp salt together, then wrap in a clean tea towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  • Place into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients plus the remaining ¼ tsp salt, mixing well to combine. Test a teaspoon amount in your hand, squeezing gently to see if it holds together. It shouldn't feel wet, but slightly sticky from the flour. It is a good idea to cook 1 rosti to check for seasoning before continuing to shape the rest.
  • Form approx 18-20 teaspoon amounts into rostis and place onto a large plate.
  • Heat 1-2 tbsp sunflower oil in a frying pan over a low heat, and fry gently in batches till golden on both sides. You want the rostis to cook slowly without browning too darkly, but remaining golden and soft yet cooked inside. They will take several minutes on each side, so be patient and keep the heat low. Remove the rosti to a baking tray as they cook, and either reheat just before serving, or store in a plastic container for up to 3 days.
  • To assemble, arrange the warm rosti on a serving plate, and top with a little of each of the chutneys as prettily as possible. 

Tomato chutney

Makes a small bowl full

Ingredients

  • Handful of cherry toms 
  • a few sprigs coriander 
  • half a small red chilli, chopped roughly (seeds removed if too hot for your liking) 
  • Squeeze of lemon 
  • Optional: Pinch of sugar or squeeze of agave syrup 
  • Salt to taste 

Method

  1. Blend the tomatoes, coriander and chilli till nearly smooth. The chutney is nice with a bit of texture. 
  2. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt, adjusting as necessary. If it's a bit sharp, you can add a pinch of sugar. The chutney is best eaten on the day it's made but will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.  

Coconut Chutney

Makes a small bowl full

Ingredients

  • 50g desiccated coconut (soaked in hot water from a just boiled kettle) 
  • Handful mint 
  • Handful coriander 
  • Half a Mild green chilli 
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds 
  • Pinch salt 
  • Juice of half a lime 

Method

  1. Drain coconut and put into blender with herbs, chilli, salt and lime juice. 
  2. Blend till smooth. 
  3. Heat 1 tsp sunflower or coconut oil and carefully toast the mustard seeds until they turn a greyish colour and start to pop in the pan. Remove from the heat and stir into the coconut mix. Taste and adjust the salt and lime if necessary. 

Green apple, coriander and mint chutney

Makes a small bowl full

Ingredients

  • 1 dessert apple, peeled and chopped
  • Handful coriander
  • Handful mint leaves
  • Small green chilli
  • Squeeze of lemon or lime
  • Pinch salt

Method

  1. Blend all ingredients till smooth. This chutney will be a lovely bright green just as long as you add enough lemon or lime juice.


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Spicy Apricot Koftas

We have given these koftas a Middle Eastern twist, spicy with sweet undertones and finished with tahini and pomegranate, the little gem leaf boats make them easy to eat too. Serve these spicy canapés at your next dinner party or holiday bash. 

Spicy Apricot Koftas

Makes approx 25
Dietary: Vegan, Gluten free

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained
  • 2-3 tbsp gram flour
  • 3 tbsp flaked or whole almonds toasted then chopped
  • 1 mild red chilli chopped finely or a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley 
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander 
  • 1 tsp orange flower water or zest of a clementine/small orange
  • 100g soft dried apricots, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp nigella/kalongi seeds
  • Salt

Gem lettuce boats and topping

  • 2-3 baby gem lettuces
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • Juice of 1/2 an orange
  • A few mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp runny tahini (thin with water if thick- tahini will take quite a bit of water to thin to a drizzling consistency)
  • 2 tsp pomegranate syrup/molasses 
  • Seeds of half a pomegranate


Method

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. Fry and soften the onion for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cumin seeds. Stir in the turmeric and remove from the heat.
  2. Blitz the chickpeas till just broken down a little, then add the onion mix, 2 tablespoons gram flour, almonds, chilli, herbs and orange flower water.
  3. Pulse a few times till the mixture comes together, but isn't too paste like. Add in the apricots and pulse again to combine. Season to taste.
  4. It is worth test frying to make sure the mix stays together and tastes flavoursome. Pinch off a tablespoon of the mix, and form into a test patty, if the mix doesn't stick together, add a little more gram flour to the mixture. Fry the patty in a little oil, then when golden and crisp on both sides, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. To make the koftas pinch off walnut sized amounts of the mixture and roll into baby torpedo shaped koftas. Place onto a plate, whilst you roll all the mixture. Finally roll the Koftas in the sesame and nigella seeds. Chill for 30 minutes to firm them up, or covered in cling film for up to 3 days in the fridge till needed.
  6. Fry the Koftas in a little oil, rolling them gently around the pan to brown evenly. Alternatively, heat the oven to 200c°/180c° Fan, place the Koftas onto a lightly oiled parchment lined tray, brush each with a tiny bit of oil, and bake till golden for approx 15 minutes.

To assemble:

  1. Wash and dry the gem lettuce leaves well, separating the leaves into similar sizes. 
  2. Mix the grated carrot with the orange juice and chopped mint.
  3. Place a tablespoon of the carrot salad onto each lettuce leaf, then top with a kofta.
  4. Drizzle over a little tahini then a little pomegranate syrup/molasses.
  5. Finally sprinkle a few pomegranate seeds over each kofta, and serve.

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Mini Masala Dosas

Vegetarian canapés are all too often boring and bread-based, so we've been spicing things up by drawing inspiration from our favourite cuisines. Today's canapé is inspired by one of our favourite South Indian dishes. A Masala Dosa is a pancake filled with spiced potatoes and often served with chutney. In India, dosas are often made at the front of cafes for breakfast; the chefs have a knack of making them thin, crisp and huge, then deftly wrapping them around a filling. This is our quick version made canapé style with the spiced potatoes rolled up with three chutneys. 

Make the Mini Masala Dosas

Makes 32 canapés 

(See below for recipes for the individual components)

  • 8 x cooked dosas 
  • 1 quantity potato filling
  • 3 chutneys 

Method

  1. Place a dosa on a chopping board. On the edge closest to you, place one-eight of the potato filling in a neat row, about 2cm from the dges. Place a line of tomato chutney beside the potato, followed by the coconut chutney neatly along the line. On the furthest edge of the dosa, spread a tablespoon of the apple mint chutney. This will be the "glue" to seal the roll once you have rolled it up.
  2. Carefully but firmly roll the clean edge nearest you over the potato, tomato and coconut filling, and gently but tightly roll all the way up. Trim both ends so that you have a neat roll then, with a very sharp knife, cut into 4 even slices. The neatest way to do this is to cut it in half first, then slice each half in half again. Whipe the blade clean on kitchen towel in between each slice to ensure clean cuts. Serve the rolls cut-side up like sushi.

Dosa Pancakes

Makes 6-8 pancakes

Ingredients

  • 115g gram flour
  • 75g rice flour
  • 2 tsp Indian spice mix spice or curry powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 325 ml cold water
  • Sunflower oil for frying

Method

  1. Sieve flours, curry powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk in the water to bake a runny batter the consistency of single cream.
  3. Leave to stand for 1 hour or overnight if possible.
  4. To cook the dosas: Whisk the batter well before you begin to ensure the mixture is smooth and well combined. Have a large plate at the ready to stack the cooked dosas on as they are done.
  5. Heat 1/2 teaspoon of sunflower oil in a medium non-stick frying pan, and pour in a small ladle of the batter, swirling it around the pan to coat evenly. Cook as you would a regular pancake crepe, using a flexible spatula to run around the edges of the dosa, checking that it is getting a golden colour on its base.
  6. When the base of the dosa is golden carefully flip it over and cook briefly before removing to a large plate. Cook all the dosas with the remaining batter, or keep leftover unused batter for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Tip: It is very important to use a good non-stick frying pan for frying the dosas, as the batter will stick in a regular frying pan.

Masala Dosa Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 250g potatoes, peeled and boiled whole until cooked then diced
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • ½ large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Dhana Jeeru (coriander and cumin powder)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp amchoor powder (mango powder)
  • pinch of salt
  • lemon juice to taste
  • Handful fresh coriander, finely chopped

Method

  1. Cook and dice the potatoes into 1cm cubes.
  2. Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan.
  3. Add the onion and gently fry until golden.
  4. Stir in the ginger and chilli and fry for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add the dhana jeeru, turmeric and amchoor and salt.
  6. Gently stir in the potatoes, lemon juice and coriander.
  7. Season to taste.

Tomato chutney

Handful of cherry tomatoes

  • a few sprigs coriander
  • half a small red chilli, chopped roughly (seeds removed if too hot for your liking)
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Optional: Pinch of sugar or squeeze of agave syrup
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Blend the tomatoes, coriander and chilli till nearly smooth. The chutney is nice with a bit of texture.
  2. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt, adjusting as necessary. If it's a bit sharp, you can add a pinch of sugar. The chutney is best eaten on the day it's made but will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge. 

Coconut chutney

Ingredients

  • 50g desiccated coconut (soaked in hot water from a just boiled kettle)
  • Handful mint
  • Handful coriander
  • Half a mild green chilli
  • Pinch salt
  • Juice of half a lime
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp sunflower or coconut oil

Method

  1. Drain coconut and put into blender with herbs, chilli, salt and lime juice.
  2. Blend till smooth.
  3. Heat 1 tsp sunflower or coconut oil and carefully toast the mustard seeds until they turn a greyish colour and start to pop in the pan. Remove from the heat and stir into the coconut mix. Taste and adjust the salt and lime if necessary.

Green apple, coriander and mint chutney

Ingredients

  • 1 dessert apple, peeled and chopped
  • Handful coriander
  • Handful mint leaves
  • Small green chilli
  • Squeeze of lemon or lime
  • Pinch salt

Method

  1. Blend all ingredients till smooth. This chutney will be a lovely bright green just as long as you add enough lemon or lime juice.


For more festive cooking ideas, check out our vegetarian Christmas recipes.

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Rosehip and Apple Jelly

Rosehips are a beautiful autumn fruit that punctuates country walks in November and December. There's no mistaking their small, oval, pillar-box shape and striking red fruit that hangs over hedgerows. They come from the same family as apples so it's no wonder that putting the two together results in a wonderful autumn hedgerow jelly. Any wild hips are perfect for this. They need to be ripe but don’t have to be mushy, as several frosts will turn them. But they must be ripe to have the full flavour. 

Rosehips can be tricky to harvest because of the thorns, but it’s so satisfying when you learn the knack. Don’t under any circumstance bite into a hip, because inside are seeds surrounded by short bristly hairs. These will make you gag and will also get buried in your fingers. Just pick the hips, take them home and follow the recipe below. Brace yourself for the anticipation that comes as your jelly evolves!

We like to make rosehip and apple jelly to give away as homemade Christmas gifts. What could be more special than a hedgerow jelly made with winter fruits that you foraged by hand?! For presents, bottle the jelly into 1/2 lb square or hexagonal jars, which look very beautiful. Cut some suitable fabric covers, tie with a ribbon, and all the stress of Christmas presents is solved. This jelly is excellent with roast vegetables, cheese, as a filling for your Victoria sponge, on croissants, or on your best sourdough. Just don’t forget to make enough to keep a jam-makers ‘dozen’ for yourself.

Rosehip and Apple Jelly

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg rose hips, ripe and whole
  • 1 kg dessert apples, windfalls are fine
  • 2 kg white, granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon

Method

  1. Cut the tuft and stalk ends off the hips, place in a lidded pan, just cover with water, and place on stove to boil. When boiling turn down to the merest simmer. Replace lid and leave to simmer until soft. Depending on ripeness, they can take from 30 to 60 minutes.
  2. When hips are soft, mash gently with wooden spoon to open them up, leave to cool.
  3. Wash, halve and then quarter the half apples, without peeling or coring them. Place in a second pan and just cover with water. Bring to the boil, then turn heat down to a mere simmer without covering (they will boil over easily and messily if covered), until soft and collapsing (15-20 minutes). Remove from heat to cool.
  4. Using two jelly bags, empty the contents of the rose hip pan into one, and secure hanging from a cupboard door-handle, to drip into a bowl underneath. Tip the contents of the apple pan into the second bag and secure as before, over a bowl. Leave both to drip for 12 hours.
  5. Measure the filtered apple and rose hip liquids and combine them in a large pan. For every litre of the filtrate, add 1kg granulated white sugar and stir to dissolve.
  6. Juice the lemon, filter it through a fine sieve and add to the liquid.
  7. Place the pan on a low heat, stirring be make sure the sugar is dissolved. Now, place two small, flat plates in the fridge. Turn the oven on to 130C and place the cleaned small jars (but not the lids) upside down on the rack to sterilize them. Turn the heat off as soon as 130C is reached, but leave the jars in the oven until needed.
  8. Start turning up the heat slowly until the pan boils, then watch carefully, keep it as high as it will happily go without boiling over. With the added apple, the jelly should reach setting point anywhere form 10-15 onwards. You must take it off the heat as soon as you are sure setting point has been reached.
  9. Use the wrinkle test for setting point. It is more sensitive than the 105C temperature test…trust me.
  10. As soon as setting point has been reached, remove the pan from the heat. Allow to rest, then pour into the jars, place the lids on the jars, tighten, and prepare the labels.

For more ideas with foraged food, check out or wild and foraged food recipes or come along on one of our foraging courses!

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Thai Tofu Balls

These Thai Tofu Balls are one of our featured festive canapés, a true appetite enlivener, full of zingy spice and the perfect accompaniment to party drinks and cocktails. The idea for this recipe comes from traditional Thai fish balls, but made with tofu instead of fish. With the rice flour as our as a binder they hold together beautifully and look unique with lemongrass stalks as skewers. We’ve placed them on squares of banana leaf for that added Thai feel.

Vegan Thai Tofu Balls Party Canapés

Thai Tofu Balls

Makes 25 canapés | Prep 35 mins | Cook 15 mins

  • 100g sweet potato, cooked
  • 200g firm tofu
  • sunflower oil, for frying
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, cut in half and thick part of the stalks chopped finely (save the remaining thin half for skewering the balls for serving)
  • 2 tbsp red Thai curry paste
  • 60g green beans, chopped small and blanched for 3 minutes
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 6 tbsp rice flour
  • salt

For the peanut dipping sauce:

  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1–2 tsp tamari
  • juice of 1⁄2 lime
  • 1⁄2 tsp soft brown sugar, or 1 tsp apple juice concentrate or agave syrup (optional)
  • 1 tsp red chilli, finely minced, or a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

For serving:

  • 3 lemongrass stalks
  • 1 banana leaf, cut into squares just large enough to sit each ball on

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/ gas 6. Oil a baking tray and line with parchment paper.
  2. Blend the cooked sweet potato in a food processor until almost smooth. Add the tofu and blend again to combine well.
  3. Heat a little oil and fry the spring onions, lemongrass and Thai curry paste for 2 minutes. Add to the tofu and sweet potato and pulse to combine. Transfer the mix to a bowl.
  4. Add the blanched green beans, lime zest, coriander and rice flour, and mix well to combine. Taste and season with 1 tablespoon of lime juice and a little salt.
  5. Make a test ball first. Heat a little sunflower oil in a frying pan, form a tablespoonful of the mixture into a ball, and cook until golden on both sides. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
  6. Lightly oil your hands to prevent the mixture sticking to them, roll the rest of the mixture into balls, then place on the prepared baking tray. The light covering of oil on your hands also helps them to crisp as they bake. Bake the balls for 15 minutes until golden, turning over halfway through cooking to brown on the other side.
  7. To make the peanut dipping sauce, combine the peanut butter, tamari and 1 tablespoon of water in a bowl and mix well to a dipping consistency. Add enough lime juice to taste, and sweeten and add a little chilli for heat, if desired.
  8. To serve, cut each lemongrass stalk in half widthways, then in half lengthways, and then finally each length in half again, so that you
  9. have 8 ‘sticks’ per stalk. Use the two remaining halves from the recipe, and you should end up with 28 in total (you may find that some of the sticks will be too  flimsy to use). Skewer each ball on a slight angle, and place on a square of banana leaf. Serve straight away with the dipping sauce.

Top tips:

  • You can chill the unbaked balls until needed. They will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Check your Thai curry paste is veggie/vegan- friendly, as many contain fish sauce.

Vegan Thai Tofu Balls Party Canapés

Vegan Thai Tofu Balls Party Canapés

For more festive cooking ideas, check out our vegetarian Christmas recipes.

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10 Best Vegetarian & Vegan Recipes for Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night (aka Guy Fawkes) is a time for friends, fireworks, and winter warming recipes to keep you warm while you celebrate around the fire. We've assembled a few of our favourite vegetarian and vegan recipes for Guy Fawkes, all of which make great party food and will keep you toasty warm all night long. We've also included a few sweet treats, including our famous Vegan Sticky Toffee Pudding, and all you need to make vegan s'mores. Let us know your favourite Bonfire Night recipes in the comments!


La Ribolita

La Ribolita Vegatarian Tuscan Soup

This Tuscan soup is one of our favourite winter comfort soups: hearty, healthy and warming and even better the next day. Serve with sourdough bread and vegetarian parmesan if you'd like (we recommend Old Winchester).

Get the recipe:  La Ribolita


Vegetable Stew with Mustard Herb Dumplings

Vegetable Stew with Mustard Herb Dumplings

Stews and slow-cooked dishes are perfect for cold nights, and dumplings add that extra layer of comfort. Feel free to use whatever vegetables you have on hand in this dish. Just don't skip the lovely dumplings! 

Get the recipe:  Vegetable Stew with Mustard Herb


Brazilian Squash and Black Bean Stew

Vegetarian Brazilian Squash and Black Bean Stew

Spice up your Bonfire Night with this healthy stew, enhanced with spices, red chilli, and lime. Serve with quinoa for a completely nutritious and comforting supper.

Get the recipe:  Brazilian Squash and Black Bean Stew


Jerk Haloumi Kebabs

Jerk Haloumi Kebabs

We find Halmoui to be one of the most popular barbecue dishes we know of, so if you're planning to cook on the fire this Bonfire Night, try these kebabs for a guarunteed crowd pleaser!

Get the recipe:  Jerk Haloumi Kebabs.


 

Turkish Turlu

Turkish Turlu with Freekeh and Herbs

Turlu is a Turkish mix of vegetables which changes with the seasons. In autumn and winter we use squash and beetroot along with the traditional mix of aubergine, peppers, and tomoatoes. 

Get the recipe:  Turkish Turlu with Freekeh and Herbs


 

Tandoori Paneer Kebabs

Tandoori Paneer Kebabs

It's definitely worth making plenty of these kebabs as everyone will want one! If by some chance you have leftovers, they make a lovely sandwich filling or salad.

Get the recipe:  Tandoori Paneer Kebabs


 

Burmese Pumpkin and Peanut Curry

This curry is inspired by Rachel's recent trip to Myanmar and is the perfect one-pot autumn celebration dish. It has a lovely sour flavour from the tamarind and looks beautiful on the plate. 

Get the recipe: Burmese Pumpkin and Peanut Curry


 

Vegan Sticky Toffee Pudding

vegan sticky toffee pudding

Possibly our most popular recipe of all time. This vegan sticky toffee pudding is pure indulgence and the perfect way to treat you and your friends on Bonfire Night.

Get the recipe: Vegan Sticky Toffee Pudding


 

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cake

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cake

Another wildly popular recipes of ours - for extra Bonfire Night coziness, try serving it warm as a pudding with hot chocolate sauce and vegan ice cream.

Get the recipe:


 

Vegan S'mores

vegan vegetarian smores

It's hard to imagine a fire without s'mores, and we know that these can be difficult for vegans and vegetarians because most marshmallows contain animal-derived gelatine. Fortunately there are plenty of options out there. Peta's guide to s'mores has advice on vegan marshmallows and graham crackers, and how to make your own. You can also read their 13 Best Vegan Chocolates for chocolate ideas. You can try Freedom Mallows or Dandies Marshmallows which are both vegan. Finally, try making your own Vegan Graham Crackers for the ultimate homemade s'more! If you're not exactly sure how to actually put the s'more together, here's a step-by-step guide to perfect s'mores!

How will you be celebrating Bonfire Night? Any fantastic recipes we should know about? Let us know in the comments or come find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. And if you're after more seasonal plant-based inspiration, sign up for our newsletter for the latest updates and recipes. Have a brilliant Bonfire Night

Burmese Pumpkin and Peanut Curry

Squash and pumpkins are one of autumn's highlights, especially when the more exotic varieties start to appear on shop shelves and at market stalls. We love making use of pumpkin and squash in fragrant curries, and this one inspired by Rachel's trip to Myanmar has a lovely sour flavour from the tamarind. Make it with any type of pumpkin or squash (we used butternut here). Serve it with aubergine curry and rice for a simple supper.

Pictures by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

 

Burmese Pumpkin Curry

Serves: 2 - 4

Diteary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 450g pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2.5cm cubes
  • 50g tamarind block
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil or sunflower oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 1- 2 small green chillies, chopped
  • I/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g roasted and peeled peanuts
  • large handful coriander, chopped

Method

  • Soak the tamarind in 200ml boiling water for 15 minutes, then press the tamarind through a sieve and keep the tamarind water.
  • Fry the onion in the oil until translucent, then add the chopped garlic, ginger, chilli and turmeric and stir-fry until fragrant.
  • Add the pumpkin cubes and stir-fry.
  • Add the tamarind water and top up with just enough water to cover the pumpkin.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes until the pumpkin is tender but still holding its shape.
  • Season to taste with salt.
  • Add the peanuts and to serve stir through the coriander.

Tips

  • Tamarind Tamarindus indica has a sour flavour with a sweet aftertaste and is used in the same way as lemon juice to sour and to bring out the flavour in food. Tamarind paste is extracted from the pods of the tropical tree. You can buy tamarind in blocks, which look rather like squashed dates. To extract the pulp, break off a chunk from the tamarind block, cover with just enough hot water and leave to soak, then squeeze out the pulp and discard the fibre and seeds.
  • Buy raw peanuts and roast them in a hot oven for 5 minutes and then the skins will rub off easily. As an alternative to peanuts use cashews.

Pictures by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

If your interest in Burmese cuisine has been piqued do read Rachel's travel journal from her visit to Myanmar earlier this year. You might also like to try making Burmese Aubergine Curry, Burmese Noodle Stir FryShan Tofu and Long Bean Stir Fry. Our Far Eastern Courses are packed with tips and recipes to bring a taste of the east to your kitchen - do join us very soon! 

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Vegetarian Pho

Our Vietnamese Pho is a nourishing vegan and gluten-free soup that we make on our  Vietnamese cooking courses. The base is a fragrant stock made with cinnamon, coriander and star anise, then augmented with tofu and oyster mushrooms for a healthy, warming one-bowl meal. 

You will find Pho or hot noodle soup everywhere in Vietnam, particularly in the colder north. You can buy Pho from tiny little cafes that only serve Pho, with a small table and tiny chairs out on the street; you crouch down over a huge bowl of steaming broth bulked out with flat rice noodles. The protein is meat-based, but we have substituted slices of tofu along with loads of vegetables - we like to include pak choi, carrots, and broccoli, but feel free to use whatever you have to hand. 

Vegetarian Pho Soup

Vegetarian Pho

Dietary: Vegan, Wheat Free if using tamari

Serves: 4-6

Broth Ingredients

  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • salt and freshly ground black peper

Pho Add-ins

  • mushrooms (oyster, crimini, etc)
  • pak choi, finely sliced
  • carrots, julienned
  • courgette, julienned
  • red pepper, thinly sliced
  • green beans
  • shredded cabbage
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • flat rice noodles
  • tofu, sliced into matchsticks

Garnishes

  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • beansprouts
  • red chillies, sliced
  • finely chopped fresh coriander, mint and/or basil
  • lime wedges

Method

  1. Heat the stock up with the cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, star anise, soy sauce and tamarind. Simmer for 15 minutes, strain and season to taste.
  2. Return the broth to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. 
  3. Taste and add more tamarind, lime, shoyu and sugar to your liking.
  4. Now add your vegetables in the order at which they’ll cook (e.g. add firmer vegetables like carrots first; add greens like spinach last).
  5. If adding noodles, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the noodles al dente. Drain and divide among individual deep soup bowls.
  6. Ladle the hot broth and vegetables on top of the noodles and garnish with beansprouts, chillies and coriander.

For more inspiration, check out our upcoming Far Eastern Vegetarian Cookery Courses, including Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. 

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Celebrating Apple Day with the Best of British Apples!

Apple Day is one of those seasonal markers here in the UK which gloriously celebrates traditional harvests and seasonal food. Autumn and apples simply go together, from the cool crisp dessert apple that tastes wonderful on a misty autumn walk to the heady aroma of hot apple pie. Cooking with apples has always been popular, but cooking with varieties perfectly suited to your recipe is just heavenly!  Do check your local area for any Apple Day activities - most will have apple identification, apple pressing, apple bobbing and lots of recipe ideas! It's also a fabulous opportunity to find out which varieties are growing in your neighbours gardens and arrange a swap! 

Varieties

Long before modern apple varieties appeared in supermarkets, there were numerous traditional varieties bred and cherished for cooking, medicine, and cider. The famous Brogdale Horticultural Trust in Kent still grows over 2000 varieties. Dessert apples still show great variety in colour, flavour, texture, sweetness and sharpness. There used to be a great variety of cooking apples too, but now the ubiquitous Bramley is usually the only cooker on the supermarket shelves. This is sad, as there used to be an equally impressive range of cooking apples as eaters in British gardens and apple orchards. You can ask your neighbours if they have any to spare, and do check at your local farmers' markets and farm shops!

Apples chosen for cooking reflect the specific requirement of each recipe. A good baked apple needs to hold its shape and not collapse into a soft mush. The best pie apples are both sharp and also non-mushy so there remains structure to hold the pie crust and give some contrasting texture in the fruit.

  • Very tart and strong-flavoured apples like Dumelow’s Seedling or the Yorkshire Goosesauce make perfect apple sauce. 
  • Soft apples that collapse into a froth, such as Keswick Codlin, make apple snow.
  • The once mandatory garden variety, Golden Noble, becomes a white foam like a soufflé as it rises in the oven to give the finest baked apple.
  • Apple Charlotte is best made with so called dual-purpose varieties like Blenheim Orange or Golden Reinette.
  • The same consideration of flavour and texture applies when choosing apples to make a Tarte Tartin. You can get away with a Cox’s Orange or a Braeburn, but it doesn’t have the depth of flavour and acidity of a true culinary apple, such as Ashmead Kernal.

Storage Tips

Apples are very versatile and after picking can be stored until Christmas and even into the New Year. Windfalls may be bruised or damaged and won’t store, so make these quickly into chutney, apple juice, cider and cider vinegar. Crab apples make an intense dark pink jelly.

To store, lay the apples out on trays or in shallow boxes – plastic mushroom boxes are good as they are well ventilated, or ask your greengrocers for the indented foam separators they use in apple boxes. You need to make sure that the apples don’t touch each other as one bad apple can turn the whole lot rotten very quickly. You can wrap each apple loosely in newspaper to prevent this. Store in a cool, dark, frost-free place and check regularly to make sure they don’t go bad. 

Apples can also be dried in rings. The famous drying apple was the Norfolk Beefing Apple that was dried in the bread ovens as they cooled down, and then the dried apples – known as ‘biffins’ – were packed in boxes as a Christmas delicacy.

Demuth's Apple Recipes

Which is your favourite apple variety and what is your favourite apple recipe?

Let us know in the comments below or find us on social media where we love to chat about food!

Our creative vegetarian and vegan cookery courses provide inspiration and ideas for using seasonal fruit and veg - why not join us, soon?!

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Apple and Pear Saffron Samosas

Every year 21st October marks Apple Day in the UK with communities around the land coming together to celebrate this wonderful fruit - you might like to make this delicious dessert to mark it! 

These samosas are one of our of favourite desserts at Demuths Cookery School. They're easy to put together and look so delightful on the plate, especially when served with a bit of Greek yogurt and honey.

Apple and Pear Saffron Samosas

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 cooking apples 
  • 2 pears 
  • pinch of saffron 
  • 2 tbsps hot water 
  • 7 tbsps vanilla sugar plus extra for dusting 
  • 1 pack filo pastry (270g) 
  • 3 tbsps butter or margarine melted for brushing 


Method: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Place the saffron in a small bowl and cover with 2 tablespoons of hot water and leave for 30 minutes. 
  3. Peel, core and dice the apples and pears into even 1 cm pieces. 
  4. Put the apples with the pears into a saucepan with the saffron water and the vanilla sugar. Simmer gently with the lid on until the fruit is soft but not falling apart. Leave to cool down. 
  5. Lay the filo pastry out on the work surface and cut into 5 short strips. Stack them up into one pile. Lay out a single sheet and brush with melted butter or margarine, top with another sheet of filo and brush with more butter or margarine.  
  6. Put ½ a tablespoon of apple mixture into the corner and fold up the line of pastry into a triangle shape. Repeat the process and lay the samosas onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Brush them with butter or margarine. Sprinkle vanilla sugar over the top of the parcels. 
  7. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes, turning over half way through cooking, until pale golden 


Tips

Saffron: Saffron threads are the red stamen of the crocus, grown from the Mediterranean to the mountains of Kashmir. Saffron has to be picked by hand making it one of the most expensive spices in the World. It colours food a brilliant gold, is very aromatic verging on the medicinal and should be used sparingly. Make sure you buy the threads, usually sold in tiny clear plastic boxes. The saffron powder is often not pure. 

Vanilla Sugar is sugar that has had vanilla pods stored in it. If you don’t have vanilla sugar add a teaspoon of vanilla extract. 

Filo: We like French filo ‘Feuilles de Filo’ made by sofra brick, available at Waitrose.

Our creative vegetarian and vegan cookery courses provide inspiration and ideas for using seasonal fruit and veg - why not join us, soon?!

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Making the Most of Magical Mushrooms!

Autumn is the season for mushroom foraging and the best time of year for mushroom cooking too. Cultivated 'wild mushrooms' start appearing on market stalls and supermarket shelves so, if you haven't got time to forage, you can still enjoy that wonderful taste of autumn! 

Wild mushrooms have more flavour, colour and texture than plain white cap mushrooms, but remember that wild mushrooms must always be cooked, never eaten raw.

For a quick supper, mushrooms on toast is one of my favourites. For a rich topping I will use wild mushrooms and add a touch of brandy and crème fraiche; if I want to keep it simple, I use chestnut mushrooms and lots of black pepper. For either version, the bread is important – I like sourdough, grilled with a splash of olive oil and then rubbed with raw garlic.

What to Look for When Buying Mushrooms

When you’re shopping for mushrooms, look out for ‘wild’ selections, which often contain shiitake, chanterelles, oyster and shimeji, and then make up the remaining quantity you need for your recipe with chestnut mushrooms. Choose a pack that looks fresh and dry – if the mushrooms are dark and damp, they will be going bad. In supermarkets they are usually sold sealed in plastic, so you can’t do the sniff test – with loose mushrooms, if they smell off they will taste off too! Always try to eat mushrooms while they are as fresh as possible.

How to Prepare Mushrooms for Cooking

Never wash mushrooms, as they contain 90 per cent water and will act like sponges, soaking up the moisture and becoming soggy. To clean them, just wipe with a pastry brush or paper towel, or you can buy a special mushroom brush. The exception to this rule is when you are using wild mushrooms, which may be very gritty or even downright dirty! These may need a gentle plunge into a bowl of water; a running tap is too violent and may damage them. Always dry the mushrooms with paper towel before cooking.

How to Store Mushrooms

Store mushrooms in a paper bag in the fridge, never in plastic or in a bowl covered with cling film, as this will make them sweat. Mushrooms can be frozen but only when cooked: simply sauté them in oil or butter and freeze in small quantities. They can then be cooked from frozen or defrosted an hour before you intend to use them. When defrosted, cooked mushrooms become watery and loose in texture, so are best used for liquid dishes such as soups.

How to Cook Mushrooms

Cook mushrooms in rapeseed oil, olive oil or butter. I favour olive oil as the taste complements mushrooms, although sometimes I use a mixture of butter and oil. Mushrooms also love heat, and should sizzle when they cook to seal in the flavour and evaporate their moisture. They generally release a lot of their moisture during cooking and then draw it back in, so wait for the point when they become dry and begin to crisp on the edges. Add your seasoning at the end of cooking.

Mushroom Varieties

Fresh Mushrooms

Chestnut mushrooms are brown-cap mushrooms, have more flavour than white-cap mushrooms and are often organic. 

Chanterelles have a beautiful orange colour and very distinctive taste. They can be cooked whole and are best sautéed in butter or olive oil. They are also called girolles in France. 

Oyster mushrooms have short stalks on one side of the smooth bare oyster-like cap, which can be up to 15cm in diameter. They grow on the trunks of deciduous trees. They have a delicate flavour so are best in light creamy dishes, shredded by hand and quickly stir-fried. 

King Oyster mushrooms are from the same family as oyster mushrooms and are sometimes called trumpet mushrooms. They have a dense texture and a sweet mild taste. Slice them lengthwise and panfry, grill or bake. 

Porcini or Ceps are found wild in the woods in autumn. To cook fresh, slice thickly and fry or char-grill, then drizzle with the best olive oil. You can also buy them dried, with a more concentrated flavour. 

Shiitake are tough, dark brown mushrooms with a ‘meaty’ flavour. They grow on tree logs and are available to buy fresh and dried. Shiitake are well suited to Asian dishes, but will also add taste to stews, risottos and soups. 

Shimeji are popular Japanese mushrooms and are known as white or brown beech mushrooms, as in the wild they grow on fallen beech trees. They have a nutty flavour and chewy texture. 

Dried Mushrooms

Dried mushrooms are an essential storecupboard ingredient. Use them to add flavour to stocks and soups by just adding a few, whole, or rehydrate them in hot water and then chop them into risottos, pasta dishes or stews. I like dried porcini and shiitake as they are so full of flavour that you don’t need to use many to add a wonderful mushroom aroma to your dishes. After rehydrating, you can use the soaking liquid as a stock, just strain off any grit and dirt at the bottom of the soaking bowl first.

Photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Mushrooms are a staple ingredient in many of our vegetarian and vegan cookery courses, especially as autumn really gets into its stride! Here are a few of our favourite mushroom recipes which you can find on our blog, many of which are cooked on courses at Demuths Cookery School in the heart of Georgian Bath. 

Mushroom, Ale and Celeriac Pie

Sweet Chilli King Oyster Mushrooms

Christmas Squash and Brandied Mushrooms Pithivier

Wild Mushroom Bruschetta

Japanese Soba Noodles with Mushrooms

Chestnut Mushroom, Hazelnut and Smoked Tofu Pátê

Mushroom Ragout with Polenta

We have some fabulous courses lined up for Autumn and into Winter and our Christmas Classes are filling up very quickly. Why not click over right now and book yourself or a friend (or both!) onto a course at our beautiful school in the heart of Bath? 

What will you be making with mushrooms as autumn unfolds? Leave a comment below or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram where we are chatting about all things foodie and, if you like this post, please share it!

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Zaalouk and an Aubergine Dip

We hope you have been enjoying our seasonal mini series showcasing some of the best aubergine recipes in our repertoire. So far we have shared Rachel's top tips for  buying and cooking with aubergines, an Italian recipe for Aubergine InvoltiniTurkish Turlu with Middle Eastern Freekeh and Herbs and shown you how to roast aubergines with  Middle Eastern Za'atar spices! Today we are rounding up our series by turning to Greece and Morocco - what an international fruit the aubergine is! 

Zaalouk

Zaalouk is a Moroccan aubergine salad, usually served with warm flatbread. We like to add roasted pepper to give the dish colour and add a touch of sweetness.

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 1 hour

Dietary: Vegan

Aubergine Recipes

Pictures by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

Ingredients

  • 1 large aubergine
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 large tomatoes (about 300g) 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch of paprika
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • juice of 1⁄2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • sea salt and black pepper 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. 
  • Place the whole aubergine on a foil-lined roasting tray and bake for about 45 minutes until soft. Allow to cool a little, then peel away and discard the skin. Chop the flesh up roughly, then place the flesh in a colander over a bowl and allow the juices to run out.
  • Cut the pepper in half, remove the seeds, then grill until the skin blackens. Place in a bowl and cover with cling film. Set aside for 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle and the skin comes away easily when peeled. Discard the skin, and chop the pepper finely. 
  • Place the tomatoes in a heatproof bowl and cover with hot water from a just-boiled kettle. After 2–3 minutes, remove from the water and peel away the skins. If they don’t come off easily, place back in the hot water for a minute more. Chop roughly.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, then add the chopped garlic. Fry for a minute until the garlic is just beginning to colour, then add the tomatoes. Cook on a medium heat for 5–10 minutes, until they soften and can be mashed with a fork.
  • Add the cumin, paprika and chilli, then stir through the aubergine and pepper and gently cook for 5 minutes.
  • Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper, tasting and adjusting to balance the flavours. You may want to add more paprika, chilli and lemon.
  • Remove from the heat and add the chopped herbs.
  • Serve at room temperature with warm pitta bread.

Aubergine Dip 

Aubergines are roasted and blackened in Greece, Turkey and in the Middle East and made into a dip, sometimes smooth and sometimes chunky, but always with lots of garlic! This dip is delicious as part of a mezze and goes particularly well with the  roasted aubergines we shared with you last week! 

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 45 mins

Dietary: Vegan

Aubergine Dip and Roasted Aubergines

Pictures by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

Ingredients

  • 1 large aubergine
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Sea salt and black pepper Aleppo pepper flakes, to garnish 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. 
  • Prick the aubergine all over and bake for about 45 minutes, until the skin is wrinkly and beginning to blacken. 
  • At the same time, put the whole bulb of garlic, unpeeled, into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Let the aubergine cool, then place in a food processor. 
  • Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins and place in the food processor with the aubergine. 
  • Pulse quickly to chop up the aubergine, then add the tahini and lemon juice.
  • Season to taste and serve with a sprinkling of Aleppo pepper. 

Tips

  • A Turkish dried and flaked chilli pepper, Aleppo has a mild heat similar to a Mexican ancho chilli, with a sweet, slightly smoky tomato-like flavour. Use it instead of paprika and black pepper as it will add colour and a little kick of spicy heat.
  • If you prefer your aubergine with a more charred flavour, blacken it over a gas flame on a fork, or under the grill. Remove the blackened, burnt skin and you will be left with a smoky flavour; for a very strong flavour, add some of the blackened skin when you blend the dip.

 

We have some fabulous  courses lined up for autumn and on into winter and our Christmas courses are filling up fast -  we do hope you'll join us soon!

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Top Tips for Autumn Squash

No other food heralds the arrival of autumn than beautiful brightly-coloured squash. As the days shorten and the shadows lengthen we get to enjoy all the cheerful yellows and oranges of these nutritious seasonal staples. 

Squash and pumpkins are varieties of the Cucurbita family and divide into two types - summer and winter. The main difference is that the skin of summer varieties is thin and will not store, whereas winter squash has a hard skin and stores for months. 

My Favourite Squash: 

  • Onion squash, shaped liked a giant onion and fluorescent orange in colour with bright orange flesh
  • Crown Prince, pale blue green and shaped like a flying saucer with paler orange flesh
  • Kabocha, which is smaller, knobbly, dark green with pale green stripes and dense orange flesh
  • Turks Turban, the most exotic looking!

Photo by Chris Mosler at Thinly Spread


Tips:

  • Winter squash are difficult to peel as the skin is hard. It's easier to roast them with the skin on and scoop out the soft flesh when cooked. Or just cut into slices and roast with the skin on. When the skin is roasted it is surprisingly tender and delicious.
  • Butternut squash does have a thin enough skin to peel with a sharp peeler, but you can also eat the skin.
  • Generally it is best not to boil squash as they contain a great deal of water and go mushy.
  • The largest pumpkins don’t have much flavour and are best for carving Halloween lanterns.

The Best Squash and Pumpkin Recipes:

Have you had a look at the cookery courses we have lined up for autumn? We do hope you'll join us soon!

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Roasted Aubergines with Za’atar

Continuing with our celebration of the aubergine, this week we bring you these aromatically spiced roasted aubergines with za'atar. Eat them as part of a mezze or serve as a starter with labna or a tahini dip, pomegranate seeds and salad leaves. 

Roasted Aubergines with Za'Atar

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Dietary: Vegan

Pictures by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp za’atar spice blend (see recipe, below) zest of 1⁄2 lemon
  • 8 baby aubergines or 1 medium aubergine pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper flakes, to garnish 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. 
  • Mix together the oil, za’atar and lemon zest in a small bowl.
  • Cut the aubergines in half lengthways and score a crisscross pattern into the flesh, avoiding cutting through the skin. Lay them skin-side down on a baking tray and cover with the oil mixture, rubbing it all over the aubergines with your hands.
  • Roast the aubergines for 20 minutes until they are soft and brown on top. If the aubergines are larger, you will need to cover them in foil and cook for an extra 20 minutes. 
  • Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper flakes to serve. 

Za'atar Spice Blend

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp sumac 

Method

  • Toast the cumin and coriander seeds separately (as the cumin burns quickly) by placing them in a dry frying pan and cooking until they start to smell fragrant. 
  • Tip them into a pestle and mortar and grind until smooth.
  • Dry-fry the sesame seeds for a minute to give them a little colour, then mix with the ground cumin and coriander, thyme, oregano and sumac. Store in an airtight jar. 

Tips

  • Za’atar is a spice mix which is prepared using herbs, spices and sesame seeds to which sumac is often added. Households throughout the Middle East have their own homemade spice mixtures.
  • A Turkish dried and flaked chilli pepper, Aleppo has a mild heat similar to a Mexican ancho chilli, 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. 
  • Sprinkle za'atar over lavash or pitta bread before baking; eat it with by bread by dipping the bread in olive oil, then za'atar and use as a seasoning to sprinkle on roasted vegetables or spice up hummus, soups or rice dishes.
  • Watch out next Monday for Rachel's recipes for Aubergine Dip and for Zaalouk, a Moroccan aubergine salad, which will be rounding off our series of aubergine recipes. Do go and grab these purple beauties which are still gloriously in season until about mid October - you can buy them all year round but they are at their absolute best right now so make the most of them!  

Have you had a look at the cookery courses we have lined up for autumn and into winter, all making the most of seasonal fruits and vegetables? We do hope you'll join us soon!

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Cooking with Pulses

2016 was declared the International Year of Pulses by the UN General Assembly. It aims to 'heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition' - so we thought we would share Rachel's tips for cooking with pulses and one of our favourite recipes!

Cooking with Pulses - Essential Tips

Pulses – which include beans, peas and lentils – are a nutritious addition to a vegetarian diet and when combined with grains, nuts or dairy provide a complete protein.

How to cook with pulses

Large whole pulses need soaking overnight in plenty of water in a large bowl, as they will triple in size. Next day, drain and rinse and cook in plenty of water until tender, the time of cooking depends on the bean, but it should be a minimum of one hour. Never add salt when cooking pulses as this hardens the skins and lengthens the cooking time. You can use a pressure cooker to cook pulses and this will halve the cooking time.

It’s worth cooking up a large quantity of beans and then freezing in measured amounts for ready cooked beans for future recipes.

Tins of beans are a great store cupboard standby, but they do have less texture than home cooked pulses and cost over twice as much. Make sure you buy sugar and salt free varieties.

How to cook with lentils

Lentils don’t need soaking, but I do soak whole lentils as this reduces cooking time. Whole lentils take the longest, while split de-husked red lentils cook the quickest. Rinse all varieties of lentils well and always check for stones before cooking.

How to temper lentils

To enrich your dhal and add depth to the flavour, fry spices such as mustard seeds, cumin seeds, whole chillies and curry leaves until they pop – but before they burn – in butter ghee for the richness or for a cleaner, vegan flavour in sunflower oil. Then pour over the hot dhal and serve at once.

From the Pantry

Curry leaves are one of my favourite additions to curries and they add a distinctly authentic taste. It’s best to buy fresh curry leaves, as dried lose their flavour. You can buy fresh from Indian supermarkets, a bunch is very cheap and they freeze well, just make sure you wrap them carefully, otherwise everything in your freezer will soon smell like curry leaves. Wash them well before cooking and don’t eat them raw – rather like bay leaves they give flavour to a dish and are then removed and discarded.

Nepalese Dhal

Nepalese dhal is a soupy dish, which is then poured over white rice to eat. It’s up to you what lentils you choose, split red lentils cook the fastest or choose split black urad dhal or split and de-husked mung dhal.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time; 30 minutes

Serves: 4

Dietary: Vegan, wheat free

Ingredients:

  • A thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 50g red split lentils
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 400ml water
  • 4 tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 green chillies, kept whole but split and de-seeded
  • to taste: lemon juice and salt

For Tempering:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil 
  • 2 red chillies, split, de-seeded
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • A handful of curry leaves

Method:

  • Heat the sunflower oil and stir fry the ginger and garlic until fragrant.
  • Add the lentils, turmeric, cumin and coriander powder, water, tomatoes and green chilli.
  • Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender, then season to taste with salt and a squeeze of lemon and set aside. Before you temper your spices, warm the dhal up.

Tempering

Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan and add the chillies, mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, pour the hot oil over the hot dhal and serve at once.

Tips:

You can add any seasonal vegetables you like to this dish to make it more of a meal-small cubes of squash or carrot, sliced beans or a handful of spinach are all good additions.

Inspired to widen your knowledge and learn to cook with pulses? Join us for one of our fabulous Indian Cookery Courses

Do you have a favourite pulses recipe to share? Leave a comment below or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram where we are chatting about all things foodie and, if you like this post, please share it! To keep up to date with events and goings on at the cookery school sign up for our newsletter.

Turkish Turlu and Freekeh with Herbs

Continuing with our celebration of all things autumnal and aubergine this week's Meat Free Monday recipe is this delicious Turkish Turlu served with herby Freekeh. Turlu is a Turkish mix of vegetables which changes with the seasons. We have added squash and beetroot to the traditional mix of aubergine, peppers and tomatoes to create a truly fabulous autumnal treat!

Turkish Turlu

Serves: 4

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 large aubergine, cubed into 3cm pieces
  • 1 beetroot, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 red pepper, thickly sliced
  • 500g butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into 8–10 wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1⁄2 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained
  • 200ml passata
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate syrup
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped 
  • handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
  • In a large bowl, mix all the vegetables together with the olive oil, allspice, coriander seeds and a large pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Spread the vegetable mix in one layer in a large roasting tray and roast for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. The vegetables should be caramelised on the edges but not burnt.
  • Add the chickpeas, passata and pomegranate syrup. Stir through, then roast for a further 10 minutes.
  • Serve warm with a green salad, pitta bread and freekeh with herbs.

Freekeh with Herbs

Freekeh is a Middle Eastern-grown wheat that is picked while green and unripe, and then roasted over wood fires to burn off the husk, giving it a slightly smoky flavour. It can be bought whole or cracked. This salad is more a herb salad than a grain dish, so don’t stint on the herbs.

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 20 mins

All Pictures by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

Ingredients

  • 100g cracked freekeh (or bulgur wheat) large handful flat-leaf parsley
  • large handful of fresh mint
  • 25ml olive oil
  • juice of 1⁄2 lemon
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • handful of pomegranate seeds, to garnish

Method

  • Soak the freekeh in cold water for 5 minutes, then rinse and drain well. Place in a pan, cover with water and boil for 15 minutes.
  • Drain, and return the freekeh to the hot saucepan with the lid on to finish cooking in the residual heat and steam for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the stems from the parsley and mint and chop the leaves.
  • Mix the freekeh with the herbs, add the olive oil and season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with pomegranate seeds to serve.

For more aubergine recipes and tips have a look here and, if you're feeling inspired to cook more adventurously, why not join us for one of our fantastic vegetarian and vegan cookery courses in the heart of Georgian Bath. We do hope you'll join us soon!

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13 Rice Recipes for National Rice Week!

We couldn't let National Rice Week go unmarked here on the Demuths Cookery School Blog - rice is fundamental to so many fabulous dishes! From Risotto and Paella to Sushi and Vedgeree, rice is versatile, nutritious and delicious. Whether you're using long grain or short grain, white, black or brown, rice is just one of those ingredients no pantry cupboard should be without! 

Rice forms the staple diet of about half the world's population. There are 40 000 varieties of rice, which is a grass seed eaten as a cereal grain, but only a fraction of those are grown for food! In the UK we eat approximately 4.4kg of rice each year which is a puny amount  compared with the consumption of between 40 - 60kg per person in some Asian countries!* We decided to  put together a list of some of our favourite rice recipes to show just how versatile it is, some are our own and some have been shared by some of our favourite food bloggers!

  • Vedgeree (pictured above) - the vegetarian version of Kedgeree, adapted from the Indian dish Khichari and traditionally made with rice and lentils. Our utterly delicious vegetarian version is made with basmati rice, topped with hard boiled eggs and flaked almonds.

  • Southern French Stuffed Tomatoes - Rice makes an excellent base for a variety of stuffing mixtures. Here Carmargue red rice is combined with herbs and mushrooms and used to stuff juicy red tomatoes.

Picture by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

  • Black Beans and Rice - beans and rice are a marriage made in heaven - our recipe is a delicious alternative to rice 'n' peas.

Picture by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

  • Paella with Samphire - there's not much better than a group of friends, on a sunny terrace, sharing a large paella! We're still clinging on to the last whisps of summer and this recipe can make us believe it is still August!


 

Some of our favourite food bloggers have kindly shared their favourite vegetarian and vegan rice recipes with us in honour of National Rice Week, which one would you cook up first?

Warm Rice and Quinoa Salad with Pan Fried Tofu from Fab Food 4 All

Mediterranean Stuffed Romano Peppers from Natural Kitchen Adventures

Mozzarella Stuffed Mushroom Arancini from Foodie Quine

Crispy Tofu Rice Bowl from The Hedgecombers

Spinach and Rice Soup from Gingey Bites

Red Carmargue Wild Rice and Sprouted Moong Bean Salad from Simply Sensational Food

Mexican Bean Rice with Salsa and Guacamole from Nadia's Healthy Kitchen

Sweet and Sour Cabbage and Tomato Soup with Rice from Family Friends Food

Courgette, Leek and Herb Risotto Cake from Thinly Spread

We hope you find something to inspire you in our selection of 13 Vegetarian and Vegan Rice Dishes for National Rice Week! Have you got one of your own to add? 

Have you had a look at the cookery courses we have lined up for autumn? We do hope you'll join us soon!

Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram where we are chatting about all things foodie and, if you like this post, please share it! To keep up to date with events and goings on at the cookery school sign up for our newsletter.

*Rice Facts sourced from The Rice Association

Aubergine Involtini di Melanzane

We were waxing lyrical on Friday, sharing our love of the perfect late summer/early autumn aubergine crop, so for today's Meat Free Monday recipe we are sharing this absolute gem - Aubergine Involtini di Melanzane. There are many variations of this Italian classic, our version is topped with another seasonal favourite - roasted cherry tomato sauce.

Aubergine Involtini di Melanzane

Serves: 6

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 medium aubergines 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Romano red peppers

For the cherry tomato sauce:

  • 600g cherry or small sweet ripe tomatoes, on the vine
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of sugar
  • balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar handful of fresh basil, chopped

For the cheese filling:

  • 250g ricotta
  • 50g vegetarian hard cheese, grated 2 free-range eggs
  • grating of nutmeg
  • sea salt and black pepper 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. 
  • Cut the stalk off the aubergine and stand it up on the cut end. Slice down the length into even slices, about 5mm thick. Rub the slices in the oil, then spread in a single layer over 2 baking trays and cook for 15–20 minutes,until soft to the touch but not too brown. Alternatively, cook them on a griddle.
  • Slice the peppers lengthways and remove the seeds and stalk. Rub with olive oil and roast until the skins are beginning to blacken. Place in a bowl and cover with cling film. When cool, peel off the skin and slice into lengths to match the width of the aubergine slices.
  • To make the sauce, place the tomatoes and garlic in a roasting tray and drizzle over the oil. Roast for 20–30 minutes or until the garlic is soft and can be squeezed from its skin.

  • Allow to cool, then remove the tomatoes from the vine and place in a blender (we use our Froothie Optimum 9200 Power Blender)
  • Squeeze the garlic from its skin, add to the blender with the tomatoes and purée until smooth. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and the pinch of sugar, if needed. If it is a little sweet, then add a few drops of vinegar. Lastly, add the chopped basil.
  • To make the cheese filling, whisk together the ricotta, grated cheese, eggs and nutmeg, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • To make the rolls, lay out an aubergine slice, put a tablespoon of cheese filling at the bottom end and a slice of roasted pepper on top, then roll up and place in a greased baking dish. Repeat the process to use up all the aubergine and cheese mixture.
  • Spoon the tomato sauce over the top of the aubergine rolls, and drizzle a little extra olive oil over the top. Bake for 20 minutes until the filling inside the rolls is set.

Pictures by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

Have a look here for some more of our favourite aubergine recipes and, if you're feeling inspired to learn more about cooking fabulous creative vegetarian and vegan food have a look at our course calendar and sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date.

We love feedback so let us know what you think in the comments or on social media! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and, if you like this post, please share it!

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All About Aubergine

As summer turns to autumn, I like to make the most of the vegetables reminiscent of Mediterranean summer holidays that bring back the warmth of taverna suppers. You'll often find aubergine at our cookery classes as they're grown in a huge array of varieties around the world and are delicious and versatile. They will soak up treasured bottles of olive oil, marry well with capers and olives, and they combine beautifully with spices. They can be simply griddled, turned into a smoky-flavoured dip, or added to hearty stews or curries for a velvety ‘meaty’ texture.

Aubergines are related to peppers, potatoes and  tomatoes; all members of the Solanaceae nightshade family. Their shape can vary from oval to globe-like with colours ranging from purple through violet, often with variegated stripes, or they can be pure white or cream. In the countries of Southeast Asia you will find a greater variety of shape, size and colour – from the small yellow Thai aubergines to the tiny pea-sized Indian ones – which are prized for their bitterness.The most common aubergine is the familiar glossy, deep purple variety we see on shelves in the UK. They love sunny growing conditions and are best grown under glass in Britain. When shopping, look for lovely shiny specimens with a heavy feel and taut skin that gives just slightly when pressed. They should be stored in a cool dark place, and never in plastic bags which cause them to sweat.

Aubergines are always cooked as they taste unpleasant raw. Some people like to "de-gorge" or salt them before cooking to remove bitterness, but I find that modern black varieties don't need to be salted. As aubergines cook they absorb flavours like a sponge! This makes them ideal for ingredients such as garlic, herbs, and spicy chili. They absorb oil at an alarming rate so use it sparingly when cooking!

Our favourite simple way of cooking aubergines is cutting them into slices or chunks with a splash of oil, which you can toss the aubergine in before roasting, griddling or stir-frying. Whichever way you cook aubergines make sure they are really well cooked, and have lost their whiteness, turned dark and become unctuously soft and juicy.

Picture by Chris Mosler of Thinly Spread.


7 Favourite Aubergine Recipes

We'll be sharing more aubergine recipes in our Meat Free Monday Recipe slot from next week so keep your eyes peeled! In the meantime, go and buy some of these beauties and tell us what you cook up with them! 

Picture by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

Have you had a look at the cookery courses we have lined up for autumn? We do hope you'll join us soon! 

Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram where we are chatting about all things foodie and, if you like this post, please share it! To keep up to date with events and goings on at the cookery school sign up for our newsletter.

Bread Making Basics - Tips and Tricks

Making your own bread is one of the most rewarding skills to master in the kitchen, and you don’t need lots of gadgets or ingredients to do it! Bread making basics are a bowl, measuring spoons, a measuring jug and something to bake the loaf on or in – either a loaf tin or a baking tray. You could also try a baking stone, which you place in the oven increasing the bottom cooking temperature and meaning you can bake directly onto the hot stone; they are great for sourdoughs, flatbreads and pizzas.

For ingredients, you only need a good quality bread flour; yeast – cultured or naturally occurring as in a sourdough starter; water and sea salt.

Bread Making Basics - Which Bread Flour Should I Use?

Always use strong bread flour, either white or wholewheat. Stone-ground flour will give you better flavour, colour and texture. Bread flour has a higher gluten content than regular plain flour, which makes the dough stretchy and gives your finished loaf lightness and volume. You can make different types of bread with spelt and rye flours, which have lower gluten content and result in a denser loaf.

Bread Making Basics - Which Yeast Should I Use?

The ingredient that makes bread rise is yeast, and there are three types of yeast that you can use. Fresh yeast is available from bakeries and in-store bakeries in some supermarkets. It can be kept wrapped in the fridge for up to a week and for a month in the freezer. Fresh yeast isn’t suitable for using in a bread making machine. You will need 25g fresh yeast for every kilo of bread flour. Dried active yeast comes in a tin and you mix this with warm water and a little sugar before combining with the flour, which means you can kick-start the yeast and check it is still alive (bubbles form on the surface of the water). Keep your open tin of dried active yeast in the fridge and use within three months. You will need two tablespoons of dried active yeast for 1 kilo bread flour. Finally, you could use sachets of fast acting yeast, which you add directly to the flour – they are easy to use and suitable for bread machines. You will need 2 x 7g sachets of fast acting yeast for every kilo of bread flour.

Bread Making Basics - Tip and Tricks

  • Cold doesn’t kill yeast but excessive heat does, so don’t add hot water to your yeast or leave dough to rise in a really hot place such as on top of an aga.
  • Kneading puts energy into the dough to stretch the gluten. The stretchier the dough, the better it will hold the gasses released by the fermentation of the yeast, and the better the texture of the bread. Knead for at least ten minutes.
  • The dough should be sticky, but not too wet, it should hold its shape and not flow over the work surface. When kneading start with a stickier rather than a drier dough as it will come together as you knead.
  • To check if your dough has been kneaded enough, lightly press with a finger the indentation should pop straight back, if it doesn’t, knead more!
  • Cover your dough while it is rising to stop it drying out with cling-film greased with a little oil.
  • Most recipes recommend double proving your dough – this means leaving it to rise until doubled in size, then knocking it back to its original size, forming into shape or place in a greased tin and leave to rise again. By doing this you get a lighter, less yeasty, good textured loaf.
  • To improve the baking process preheat your oven to its maximum temperature and reduce to baking temperate when you put the loaf in, adding a spray of water from a simple (clean!) gardening spray creates steam, which promotes the baking process.
  • To test whether a loaf is cooked turn it over and tap the bottom, it should sound hollow. If not, pop it back in the oven for a few more minutes. It is a good idea to put the loaf back into the oven without its tin, or upside down if it’s a rustic loaf to ensure that the base of the loaf is well cooked.

Bread Making Basics - Easy Recipes to Get You Started

Once you've mastered the basics the bread making world is your oyster. Here are a few of our favourite easy bread making recipes to get you started!

If you're hooked and you want some hands on bread making help sign up for one of our baking courses or one of our diplomas which include a fabulous baking module!

If you have any burning (!) bread baking questions leave a comment below or come and talk to us on social media! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and, if you like this post, please share it!

To keep up to date with events and goings on at the cookery school sign up for our newsletter.

Aubergine dream, Vegetarian Living, October 2016

The October 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 rich, velvety aubergine. Discover aubergine through my recipes from around the world, including as involtini di melanzane, roasted aubergines with za’atar, zaalouk (a Moroccan aubergine salad), and trull (pictured on the cover above, a Turkish mix of vegetables and chickpeas seasoned with coriander and pomegranate syrup). 

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

Aubergine Dream, Vegetarian Living, October 2016

Sweet and Sour Marinated Leeks

Leeks are in season from now until April and this is a very simple dish which really brings out their flavour. It can be eaten at once warm as a side dish or as a starter with hunks of sourdough bread, or leave overnight for the flavours to enhance.

Sweet and Sour Marinated Leeks

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 15 mins


Ingredients:

  • 2 medium leeks, cut into 4cm thick rounds
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red romano pepper, sliced in rings
  • 12 button mushrooms, sliced in half
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 50g dried apricots, quartered
  • 25g sultanas
  • 50g green & black olives
  • fresh thyme leaves
  • black pepper
  • lemon zest and juice from ½ a lemon

Method:

  • Soak the apricots and sultanas in the vinegar for at least 15 minutes.
  • Very gently fry the leeks in the olive oil, keep on turning them over so that they don’t brown, turn the heat down to very low, put on a lid so that the leeks braise in the steam, until they are tender, but with a bite to them. 
  • Take out the leeks and place in a mixing bowl and fry the red pepper and mushrooms in the same oil.
  • Add the cooked pepper and mushrooms to the leeks along with the apricots and sultanas in vinegar. Stir well and add the olives, fresh thyme leaves, black pepper and lemon juice and zest.

Photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

For more tips and recipes for leeks, do have a look at my post Rethinking Leeks where you'll find ideas to make the most of a vegetable which is in season from now right through until April! 

Do you have any ideas for using this wonderful mainstay of so many recipes? Leave a comment below or come and talk to us on social media! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and, if you like this post, please share it!

To keep up to date with events and goings on at the cookery school sign up for our newsletter.

Top Tips for Seasonal Eating in September - Tomatoes, Peppers and Beetroot

At Demuths Cookery School, seasonality is the most important factor in choosing what to cook and which recipes to make on our courses. In late summer we are spoilt for choice as there is a bounty of locally grown vegetables to choose from.Tomatoes, Peppers and Beetroot are all at their glorious peak right now so it is the perfect time to make some of my best-loved recipes, all of which are stunningly colourful and perfect for late-summer suppers on balmy evenings.

Here are my top tips for seasonal eating in September! 

TOMATOES

I first made my recipe for stuffed tomatoes on our French cookery holiday and it is best made with large ripe but still firm tomatoes. The red rice comes from the Carmargue and is a wholegrain variety with a nutty bite to it.

Although they are stars of the season at the moment, tomatoes are one of my most indispensable ingredients all year round. They are at their best in the summer, however, so now is the time to buy plenty and make them into passata (tomato sauce) which can be frozen, or make tomato chutney. When bought out of season, tomatoes tend to be tasteless, so in the colder months I use passata, tinned or dried tomatoes in my cooking, which have more flavour and natural sweetness as they were picked at peak ripeness.

These bright red fruits are not only delicious, they are something of a superfood too, containing vitamin C and lycopene, which has been linked to preventing cancer. But most of the goodness from tomatoes is in the seeds and juices, so do try to avoid deseeding if possible, to enjoy the full impact of the tomato’s nutritional content and flavour!PEPPERS

PEPPERS

When red peppers are ripe, plentiful and cheap, my oven roasted red pepper soup is the ideal dish to showcase the deep flavour and richness of this versatile vegetable, and it’s equally delicious served hot or cold, depending on the occasion or the weather. 

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Peppers are available in a rainbow of colours, which vary depending on variety and ripeness. Green peppers can be quite bitter and tangy and for this reason I don’t roast them. Yellow and orange peppers can be roasted, but if you are looking for a dramatic colour in your finished dish, red peppers are my top choice. When roasted, they are deliciously sweet.

BEETROOT

A dish traditionally made with roasted red pepper is muhammara, but I like to make it with beetroot for its vibrant purple colour and robust flavour. Try to buy fresh beetroot with the leaves still attached: the leaves are edible and very tasty. Baby leaves can be eaten raw in salad and larger ones cooked like spinach. With apples also ripening right now you could also have a go at my recipe for Beetroot and Apple Latkes - delicious with a yoghurt mint dip and perfect for a late summer supper!

Beetroot and Apple Latkes

Photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

You can buy beetroot all year round, but a fresh new crop of beetroot is becoming available now. Young, fresh beetroot is delicious grated raw into salads, thinly sliced with a mandolin for ceviche, made into borsch or roasted with cumin and pomegranate syrup.

Beetroot should not be peeled before cooking, because the colour will leach out. You can either roast them or boil them, and although it takes longer, I prefer to roast beetroot as this concentrates the natural sugars. To roast, simply wrap unpeeled beetroot in foil and pop in the oven for 1–2 hours, depending on their size, until they feel slightly soft. Leave to cool and then peel. If you prefer the quicker method of boiling, cook them whole in plenty of water for about 45–60 minutes, until the skin begins to break away from the root and the skin wrinkles. Cool the beetroot under cold water and peel off the skin. Some people don’t like preparing beetroot as the colour stains hands and clothes, but the flavour is worth the extra effort!

There are many different-coloured beetroot being grown in the UK now and it’s worth trying them, especially the pink-and-white-striped Italian ‘Chioggia’ variety.

Beetroot Varieties

Do you have any September seasonal recipes to share? Leave a comment below or come and talk to us on social media - we love chatting about vegetarian food! 

If you are inspired to cook using the best seasonal ingredients and you want to find out more do join us for one of our cookery courses, packed full of ideas, recipes and tips - we look forward to seeing you! 

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.

Thai Corn Cakes

Purple sweet potatoes and purple carrots are quite easy to find now and make dramatic looking food. They taste good too, especially in these Thai corn cakes! 

Thai Corn Cakes

Dietary: Vegan

Makes: 12

Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 125g purple sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 125g orange sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • sunflower oil, for frying
  • 125g sweetcorn kernels
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • small handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • fine cornmeal, for dusting

For the spice paste:

  • 1 lemongrass stick, chopped
  • 3cm galangal, peeled and chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 lime leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped

For the carrot salad: 

  • 1 orange carrot
  • 1 purple carrot
  • juice of 1 lime

Method

  •  Steam the two colours of sweet potatoes separately, until tender. Leave to cool, then mash each colour in separate bowls.
  • To make the spice paste, place the lemongrass, galangal, garlic, lime leaves and chilli in a small processor and blend finely.
  • Heat a little oil in a frying pan and gently fry the spice paste with the sweetcorn and spring onion for 5 minutes. 
  • Divide the mixture, together with the chopped coriander, between the two bowls of mashed sweet potato, mix well and season to taste.
  • When you are ready to cook the cakes, roll the mixture into small balls and flatten on a board dusted with the cornmeal, so they are coated on each side.
  • Heat a frying pan and add a couple of tablespoons of oil. Fry the cakes in batches, turning so they are golden on both sides. Between each batch, wipe out the frying pan with kitchen paper and add more oil. 
  • Drain the cakes on kitchen paper.
  • For the salad, julienne the carrots and squeeze over the lime juice. Serve the corn cakes with the carrot salad and a dash of sweet chilli sauce.

Tips

  • If you don’t have sweet potato, use ordinary potato instead. 
  • Galangal is arhizome from the ginger family with a more perfumed, aromatic flavour than ginger. It freezes well, either whole or chopped. If you can’t get it use fresh ginger instead. 
  • You could substitute beetroot in the salad, if you can’t find purple carrots.

Photos by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

For more sweetcorn ideas, check out my post Sweetcorn in Season where you'll find out how to prepare sweetcorn for cooking and some more sweetcorn recipe ideas to make the most of the season. Do you have any recipes using the fabulously coloured vegetables which are appearing in our shops? Leave a comment below or come and talk to us on social media! Find us onFacebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and, if you like this post, please share it!

We run regular Thai Cooking Courses so if you're feeling inspired and want to find out more do check our course calendar and sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date.

  

15 Fabulous Harvest Preserves

There is just a whiff of Autumn in the air. The days are slightly shorter, the mornings a little cooler and hedgerows, fields, orchards and gardens are ripe and ready. It's a time of plenty so sterilise some jam jars, gather the harvest and get ready to preserve the flavours of summer! 

Opening a jar of jam or a bottle of cordial on winter's coldest days and releasing the scent and warmth of summer has to be one of the best rewards for time spent in the kitchen.  This week we're sharing recipes for Jams, Jellies and Fruity Beverages with 15 Fabulous Harvest Preserves. You'll find my own favourite plum jam and a glorious selection from some of our favourite food bloggers and websites.  Have you got a recipe which we should be trying this autumn? 

Jams, Jellies and Curds

Christopher's Foolproof Plum Jam from Demuths

Fig and Strawberry Jam from The Veg Space

Apple, Pear and Passion Fruit Chutney from Tinned Tomatoes

Sloe and Crab Apple Hedgerow Jelly from Smarter Fitter

Blackberry and Apple Jam from Thinly Spread

Bramble Jelly from Feeding Boys 

Damson Jam from Fab Food 4 All

Spiced Apple and Rosehip Jelly from Foodie Quine

Blackberry Curd from The Botanical Kitchen

Blackcurrant and Raspberry Jam from Food to Glow

Homemade Fruit Syrups and Liqueurs

Sloe Gin from River Cottage

White Cherry Rum Liqueur from Kavey Eats

Blackberry Whisky from The Crafty Larder

Rose Syrup from Tin and Thyme

Blackcurrant Cassis from The Hedgecombers

Have you got a favourite harvest recipe to share? What is your favourite jam, jelly or fruity beverage? 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.

Fall in Love with Tempeh, Vegan Food and Living, September 2016

Check out Rachel's tempting tempeh recipes featured in the September 2016 issue of Vegan Food and Living. Tempeh is a phenomenal alternative to tofu with all the taste, texture and versatility to create mouth-watering and exotic dishes. Try it in recipes such as Tempeh Goreng (Indonesian fried tempeh chips with samba recap) and Indonesian  Gado Gado with satay tempeh.

Get your copy here: http://bit.ly/2bkTyQR

Mexican Sweetcorn Soup (Sopa de Maize)

Sweetcorn season is in full swing and this is the perfect soup to make when you have juicy, fresh sweetcorn cobs. You can make it all year round with frozen kernels but the addition of grilled corn kernels, fresh from the cob, gives the soup a gorgeous smoky flavour.

For more sweetcorn ideas, check out my post Sweetcorn in Season where you'll find out how to prepare sweetcorn for cooking and some more sweetcorn recipe ideas to make the most of the season.

Mexcian Sweetcorn Soup - Sopa de Maize

Dietary: Vegan

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 40 mins

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 Romano red pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 250g sweetcorn kernels
  • 1 corn on the cob
  • olive oil to baste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • lime juice

To Serve:

  • chopped coriander
  • lime wedges
  • corn tortilla chips (recipe below)

Method:

  • Heat the sunflower oil in a large saucepan and fry the chopped onion and celery until softened, and the onions are sweet and starting to caramelise.
  • Add the pepper, chilli, garlic and bay leaf along with the ground cumin, coriander and paprika, and stir-fry for a few minutes.
  • Add the vegetable stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sweetcorn kernels and simmer for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if the soup is too thick.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the grill, rub the corn on the cob with a little olive oil and grill until it is slightly blackened, turning to cook evenly. Allow to cool, then slice off the kernels.
  • Remove the bay leaf and blend the soup until almost smooth, using a hand-blender or liquidiser - we use our Froothie Optimum 9200 Power Blender.
  • Stir in the grilled corn from the cob and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Taste and season with salt, black pepper and lime juice.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and serve topped with chopped coriander, with lime wedges and corn tortilla chips on the side.

Corn Tortillas

Making your own tortillas is easy and satisfying - why not hold a Mexican evening and a-maize your friends?!

Makes: 6 small tortillas

Prep: 30 mins

Cook: 10 mins

Ingredients

  • 125g masa harina yellow corn
  • good pinch of salt
  • 165ml warm water

Method

  • Mix the masa harina and salt together in a large mixing bowl and add the warm water.
  • Mix together with your hands, shape into a ball and let stand for a few minutes. Add more water if the dough is crumbly.
  • Gently knead the dough and divide into 6 small balls. Roll out each ball into a circle 3mm thick between 2 sheets of baking parchment, or use a metal tortilla press (we find that placing the dough ball in a split open plastic sandwich bag stops the dough sticking to the tortilla press).
  • Heat a dry frying pan. Place a tortilla into the hot pan. When the edges begin to dry out, turn and cook for 30 seconds then turn again. After 30 seconds remove the tortilla and keep warm in a clean tea towel.

Tips

  • Masa harina is made from coarse maize flour and can be found at Mexican stores, specialist sections of supermarkets and online.
  • Make your own corn tortilla chips: Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/ gas 6. Oil a large baking tray with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cut the tortillas into triangles and spread on the baking tray. Sprinkle with a little salt and smoked paprika and rub it into the tortillas. Roast for 5 minutes in the oven and then turn the chips over and cook on the other side until golden and crisp. 

We run regular Mexican Cookery Courses so if you're looking for more inspiration do check our course calendar and sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date. 

We love feedback so let us know what you think in the comments or on social media! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and, if you like this post, please share it! 

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link.

Simple Vegetarian Student Recipes

Results day has been and gone and there are lots of young people out there who are now preparing to leave home for the first time and head off to University! We thought a handful of simple vegetarian student recipes to help them on their way would be very handy! Student cooking doesn't need to be just peanut butter sandwiches and it needn't be complicated or daunting - practise a handful of simple vegetarian student recipes at home before you go and you are guaranteed to be the most popular person in your flat! 

A good basic tomato sauce is an essential - of course you can buy it in jars but it's expensive and the flavour is nowhere near as satisfying. This fabulous sauce base from our tutor, Lydia, is packed full of veg to help you get your 5 a Day and can be embellished to make pasta sauce, to top pizzas or as a base for warming stews, casseroles and curries. It takes no more effort to double the quantities here and freeze it and you have instant, healthy food readily to hand! 

‘5 A Day’ Tomato Sauce Base

Makes 11/4 litres (approx 6-8 ladles)

Ingredients

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced small
  • 2 sticks celery, diced small
  • 1 red pepper, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tins tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method

  • Prepare all the vegetables.
  • Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over a medium heat.
  • Fry the onions for 2-3 minutes till soft, but not brown. Stir from time to time to move them around the pan.
  • Add the carrots, celery and peppers, and fry for 5 more minutes till the peppers are beginning to soften.
  • Stir in the garlic and fry for a minute more. Don't allow the garlic to brown!
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, turn up the heat a little, and allow to come to a simmer. Let the sauce bubble for approximately 5 minutes, then turn the heat to low and place a lid on the pan. Cook gently for a further 20-25 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
  • Remove from the heat and blend till smooth with a stick blender. Alternatively, if you don't have a stick blender, mash the vegetables with a potato masher which will give a rougher, chunkier texture.

Tips

  • To make an easy tomato soup you can thin 1 ½ ladles of this sauce down slightly with a little water, season with a little salt and pepper, and maybe some spices, and eat straight away with crusty bread. To make a more substantial soup add a cup of cooked lentils or ½ tin of ready cooked lentils to make it really easy.
  • This sauce will keep for 1 week in the fridge, or can be portioned into freezer containers or bags, and stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Pasta Sauce

To serve 1

Ingredients

  • 1 ladle of tomato sauce
  • Pinch dried oregano or a few basil leaves, torn up
  • Vegetables to add: any combination of mushrooms, spinach, peppers, courgettes, aubergines
  • Olive oil for frying

Method

  • Slice the vegetables or chop into fine dice.
  • Heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan or frying pan, and cook the vegetables to your liking, though if using aubergines, start with them first- they will need longer and a little extra oil as they are best when golden brown and very soft.
  • Serve with cooked pasta of your choice or couscous, ‘Veggie Balls’ and grated cheese.

Flatbreads are simple to make and go with so many easy dishes - you can dip them into soups, serve them with curries or load them up with tomato sauce, veggies and cheese - making your own pizza has to be worth about a million kudos points in any student household! 

Simple Quick Flatbreads

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 100ml warm water
  • 2 tbsp sunflower or olive oil

Method

  • Place the flour in a bowl and add the salt. Make a well in the centre and add the oil. Stirring with one finger gradually add the water until you have dough which feels soft and pliable-if it is too sticky add more flour, if it is too wet add more flour. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until it is really soft and then divide into 3 or 4 balls.
  • If you have time, cover with a clean tea towel for up to half an hour to rest the dough.
  • To cook the flatbreads, sprinkle a clean surface with flour and roll out a dough ball approximately 3-4 mm thin. 
  • Heat a large frying pan and add 1 tsp oil.
  • Place the flatbread into the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes then turn over and cook the other side. Each side should have a few golden brown spots in places. Reduce the heat if the breads are blackening at all in places.
  • Keep the cooked breads warm under a tea towel or in a warm oven until they are all ready. Eat straight away, or once cold, store in a plastic bag or wrapped in foil for up to 3 days. Otherwise freeze straight away after cooking once cold.
  • Serve with curry, chilli, or with Veggie Balls, salad and hummus.

Easy Pizza

Ingredients

For each pizza:

  • 1 cooked ‘Easy Flatbread’
  • 2-3 tbsp Tomato Sauce (depending on the size of your flatbread)
  • 1/2 mozzarella ball, or a handful of grated cheese of your choice
  • Pinch dried oregano
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • A few mushrooms or ¼ red pepper sliced thinly, or wilted spinach (see note below)

Method

  • Heat the grill or oven to 200°
  • Spread the sauce on the flatbread.
  • Tear or chop the mozzarella into small pieces, and arrange on top of the sauce.
  • Scatter over the mushroom slices, and sprinkle the oregano over.
  • Drizzle over a little olive oil if you like, and place on a baking tray and into the hot oven, or under the hot grill and cook till the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Tip

  • To wilt spinach, heat 1 tsp oil a frying pan over a medium heat, and gently stir a handful of fresh spinach leaves until they release their liquid and wilt down. Allow to cool a little, then squeeze excess liquid out of the spinach with your hands (or the back of a wooden spoon in the pan) before using to avoid the spinach being soggy on your pizza.

If you are heading off to Uni, or you know someone who is, we are running a Vegetarian Student Cookery Course on 1st September where you can learn simple skills and recipes to help you make the leap from home to University. We will be teaching knife skills and simple time saving cookery techniques and sharing lots of ideas to help you save time and money. You will learn how to make authentic curry, tasty pasta dishes, stir fries and quick snacks - everything to keep your tummy full and your body healthy!

Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

 Do talk to us about cooking skills and easy vegetarian student recipes, we have lots of ideas and useful tips to share! Leave a comment or question below or come and chat to us on social media!

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Indonesian Tempeh Curry with Coconut Rice

This Indonesian tempeh curry is creamy with coconut milk and rich in protein from the  tempeh. In Indonesia, tempeh is known as ‘the meat of the fields’ and is valued as a cheaper healthier alternative to meat. We love it too, especially in this sumptuous curry! Don't let the long list of ingredients put you off. It only takes about 30 minutes to prep and 25 minutes of cooking time. And the leftovers make a great packed lunch. Nourishing and full of flavour, tuck into this tempeh curry and let us know what you think!

Indonesian Tempeh & Sweetcorn Curry with Coconut Rice

Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Indonesian Tempeh Curry with Nasi Kuning Coconut Rice

Vegan | Serves 4

Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 150g tempeh cut into slices
  • sunflower oil for frying

Marinade

  • 2 tbsp shoyu
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp kecap manis or brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli sauce

Garlic paste

  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 2.5cm fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

Everything else

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 8 cardamom pods, bruised
  • small piece cinnamon stick
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 150ml water
  • 150g carrots, sliced into matchsticks
  • 125g baby sweetcorn, sliced lengthways
  • 1 red or orange pepper, sliced
  • 150g green beans, cut in half
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and black pepper
  • handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, sliced

Method:

  1. Make up the marinade. Pour over the tempeh slices and leave to marinate for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that the tempeh is evenly covered.
  2. Blend the garlic, chilli and ginger in a mini food processor to a smooth paste or chop finely.
  3. Heat the sunflower oil in a large saucepan, add the garlic paste and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the turmeric, whole cardamom pods and cinnamon stick and quickly stir-fry.
  4. Add the coconut milk and water, stir well and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the carrots and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the sweetcorn, red or orange pepper and green beans and simmer until just tender.
  6. Add the lemon juice and season to taste.
  7. When the curry is ready fry the tempeh.
  8. The tempeh should have absorbed most of the marinade. Drain off any remaining marinade, pat the tempeh dry with kitchen paper and fry in sunflower oil until golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper.
  9. Top the curry with the tempeh slices, chopped coriander and sliced red chilli and serve with Nasi Kuning coconut rice (recipe below).

Yellow Coconut Rice (Nasi Kuning)

In Indonesia coconut rice is called Nasi Kuning or very yellow rice, from the turmeric, which colours the rice a beautiful golden yellow.

Vegan, Gluten free | Serves 4

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 125g jasmine fragrant rice
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, bruised
  • 2 lime leaves
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 100ml water

Method:

  1. Rinse the rice and put into a saucepan with all the other ingredients.
  2. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and simmer on the lowest heat for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to stand covered for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Fluff up the rice with a fork and serve steaming hot.

Tips:

  • Tempeh is made of compressed lightly fermented soya beans. It’s packed full of protein, free of cholesterol and has a nutty flavour and a chewy texture. You can only buy tempeh frozen from wholefood shops and Asian stores. Keep in the freezer.
  • Kecap Manis is a sweet dark soya sauce from Indonesia. You can buy it from oriental stores and in the specialist section of some supermarkets. If you can’t find any, mix 2 tablespoons of shoyu with 1 teaspoon of soft brown sugar.

Indonesian Tempeh & Sweetcorn Curry with Coconut Rice
Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

We run vegetarian Indonesian cooking courses throughout the year so if you're looking for more inspiration, check out our course calendar.

You might also like our other Far Eastern recipes and our post on Tempeh Basics including marinades and quick recipes.

As always, let us know what you think in the comments or in social media! Find us on Facebook, TwitterPinterest and Instagram

And for even more vegetarian recipe ideas and special offers on our courses, sign up for our newsletter. Thanks for reading, cooking, and sharing!

Fields of Gold, Vegetarian Living, September 2016

The September 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 sweetcorn, one of the treasures of late summer. Discover sweetcorn through recipes such as Thai corn cakes, Mexican sweetcorn soup, and Indonesian Sweetcorn and Tempeh Curry.

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

Fields of Gold, Vegetarian Living, September 2016

Vegetarian Saint Petersburg

My recent trip to St Petersburg was my first ever visit to Russia and, as always, vegetarian food was high on my agenda. This time, however, I had been so busy with work that I hadn’t read up on vegetarian friendly eateries, and I was traveling with my sister and niece, neither of whom are veggie, so I went with a totally open mind of what to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised as to how easy it was to find vegetarian dishes everywhere we ate in St Petersburg. 

In addition to food, St Petersburg is an art lovers paradise. The buildings and canals makes it feel like a northern Venice. You could spend all your time in the Hermitage and the fantastic new Impressionist and post Impressionist gallery in the General Staff Building. This is arguably the best collection in the World; many of the paintings were first seen in the 1990s having been seized by the Red Army from Germany at the end of WW11.

We found that the best places to eat were festooned with colourful window boxes full of flowers and herbs.

For breakfast our favourite eateries were in The Marketplace, a small chain of restaurants where you could get great food for breakfast, lunch and supper, all buffet style, so you grabbed a tray and chose what you wanted.

My go to choice was Syrnika which are a cross between a cheesecake and a fritter and are slightly sweet with sultanas and served with sour cream and cherry conserve. To drink, a large glass of fermented kefir and black coffee.

At the Museum of Modern Art Erarta we had our smartest meal, served on beautiful earthenware plates of Chanterelle mushrooms, spinach, and sour cream on potato waffles.

In the evening we ate at a couple of excellent Georgian Caucasian restaurants where you could eat mezze style with lots of veggie choice, less so for vegans. Interestingly the mezze was always served with pickles and preserved vegetables.

I ate a lovely Georgian aubergine stew with peppers, tomatoes and potatoes called Ajapsandali similar the Turkish Imam Bayaldi and cooked with copious quantity of olive oil.

The highlight was Khachapuri, a Georgian stuffed bread with spinach and cheese. I have made a version at home using a yoghurt pastry, it can also be made with an enriched bread dough (try my recipe).

Russian Cheeses were white and the two we tried were Sulgani like a firm mozzarella (best alternative is pizza mozzarella) and Imeretian cheese which is a Georgian raw cows milk semi soft cheese (best alternative a mix of haloumi with mozzarella).

Have any of you been to St. Petersburg and have a story to tell, culinary or otherwise? Share with us in the comments or in social media! And if you're feeling inspired, try my recipes for Syrnika and Khachapuri and let me know what you think! You'll find more photos from the trip on Flickr.

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Khachapuri - Georgian Stuffed Bread

During Rachel's recent trip to Saint Petersburg, she enjoyed Khachapuri, a traditional Georgian dish of cheese-filled bread that is also popular in the post-Soviet states, including Russia. Khachapuri is traditionally made with a mix of Sulgani cheese like a firm mozzarella and Imeretian cheese, a Georgian raw cows milk semi soft cheese. We've managed to recreate the experience using a mix of haloumi and mozzarella. Give it a try!

Khachapuri, Georgian stuffed bread

Ingredients:

Pastry

  • 80ml plain yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 40g butter, melted
  • 200g plain white or brown flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Filling

  • 250g spinach or chard
  • 125g haloumi, grated
  • 125 mozzarella, finely chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • dried chilli flakes
  • beaten egg or olive oil for brushing

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
  2. Make the pastry, in a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, egg and melted butter. Sieve in the flour with the baking powder and the salt. Mix together to make a soft smooth elastic dough. Leave the pastry to rest while you make the filling.
  3. Cook the spinach in a tiny amount of water, then drain, leave to cool, squeeze out all the liquid and chop.
  4. Grate the haloumi and mix with the mozzarella and chopped spinach and season with black pepper and dried chilli flakes.
  5. On a well floured work surface roll out the dough into a large circle approx 40cm in diameter with the outer 10cms rolled thinner than the middle as this pastry will be folded over the filling.
  6. Place the filling in a central circle about 20cms in diameter and then fold over the edges like a hankerchief so that the filling is all covered. Then gently roll out the filled dough until it’Ts about 30cms in diameter.
  7. Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, brush with beaten egg and bake in the pre-heated oven for approx 20-25 minutes until golden.
  8. Serve while still warm.

You might also like to try Rachel's recipe for Syrniki, fried cheesy Russian pancakes! Check out Rachel's travelogue from Saint Petersburg for more inspiration from her trip.

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Syrniki - Russian Pancakes

Inspired by Rachel's recent trip to Saint Petersburg, Russia's second largest city, we're sharing this recipe for Syrniki, fried pancakes made with cheese, flour, eggs and sugar. Syrniki are eaten all across eastern Europe and are lovely for a quick Sunday brunch. I like the addition of sultanas, but if you don’t have any add another tablespoon of sugar. In St. Petersburg I had them with Kefir, Cornelian cherry compote and black coffee - the ultimate Russian breakfast.

Syrniki Russian Pancakes

Makes 6-8 Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 250g cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp soaked sultanas
  • 2-3 tbsp flour
  • olive oil or butter for frying

Method

  1. Mix cottage cheese with beaten egg, sugar and vanilla.
  2. Add the sultanas and the flour and gently mix.
  3. Heat a non stick frying pan and lightly oil.
  4. Oil your hands so that the mix doesn’t stick, then take 2 tablespoons of batter at a time and using your hands form into round fritters about 1.5cm high
  5. Fry on a low to medium heat until slightly browned on both sides.
  6. Serve with sour cream and cherry conserve

Russian Syrniki Pancakes with Kefir, cherry compote, and coffee

You might also like to try Rachel's recipe for Khachapuri, a traditional Georgian bread stuffed with cheese! Check out Rachel's travelogue from Saint Petersburg for more inspiration from her trip.

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.

Black Beans and Rice

Our recipe for black beans and rice is a delicious alternative to traditional rice 'n peas made without coconut milk, but full of flavour. It makes an ideal side to go with any BBQ dish or as a stand alone meal on its own any time of the year. It goes really well with our Jerk Haloumi Kebabs!

Black Beans and Rice

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten free

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Ingredients

  • 75g dried black turtle beans, soaked overnight
  • 150g red or brown rice
  • 1 green pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice
  • handful of fresh coriander and parsley, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Boil the turtle beans in plenty of water for 10 minutes, drain and rinse and then cook in fresh water, until the beans are tender, about 30-45 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Rinse the rice and cook in plenty of water, until cooked, drain, rinse and set aside.
  • Stir-fry the green pepper, onion and green chilli for a minute and then add the fennel and cumin seeds.
  • Mix together the cooked rice and beans.
  • Stir in the pepper mix, lemon juice and zest, herbs and season to taste.

Serve hot or cold with Jerk Haloumi Kebabs

Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

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 FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Instagram and sign up for our newsletter

Bath Magazine Delicious Guide 2016

We are thoroughly delighted to be featured in the Delicious Guide to Bath 2016, Bath Magazine's annual round-up of the top gastronomic gems which celebrate the diverse culinary culture on offer in our city. Naturally we're thrilled to be a part of it. Check us out!

South American Cookery, House and Garden, July 2016

We are delighted to be featured in House and Garden in this glowing review of our South American Cookery Course

"...no knowledge of Spanish is required to follow the admirably straightforward recipes. Most are suitable for vegans and many are gluten-free or wheat-free. There's an emphasis on fresh produce and flavour is provided with key ingredients like chillis, coriander and lime. We do cook quinoa to accompany a Peruvian bean stew, but thankfully there is no sign of the sort of wonder ingredients that require a frantic trawl of health-food stores. And there's definitely no feeling of deprivation as we tuck into our slices of satisfyingly rich gluten-free chocolate torte with a hint of cinnamon, served with lime-flavoured chantilly cream."

Click here to read the article in full.

Top 10 Easy to Grow Vegetables For Your Garden Or Allotment

There's nothing more satisfying than eating vegetables you've grown yourself, and I'm especially happy with how my own garden has taken shape this year. That's not to say it hasn't seen its own success and failures. This year has been a war against the slugs and snails, which seem especially prolific. The slugs have won with my carrots, borlotti beans, parsley and salad leaves, but fortunately they are not partial to any of the allium family or the chicories. 

Still, there have been numerous successes that I'd like to pass on as examples of easy to grow vegetables that anyone can grow in their garden or allotment. It gives one a glow of satisfaction to pick, cook and eat produce from ones own patch! So what are you waiting for?

For those planning a new vegetable garden I highly recommend 'how to create a new Vegetable Garden' by Charles Dowding, for quick gardening tips I go to The Royal Horticultural Society excellent website.

1. Courgettes

Top 10 Easy to Grow Vegetables For Your Garden Or Allotment

Courgettes are one of the easiest and most prolific vegetables to grow. They like to spread out but you can always plant them in big patio containers if you're short of space. Keep them well watered and pick the courgettes when they are small, this encourages more to grow. Well worth growing yellow courgettes which are just as easy to grow, but far more difficult to buy. The flowers are edible too and are delicious stuffed with herby ricotta and fried in a light tempura batter.

2. Broad beans

Growing your own broad beans gives you the pleasure of picking the young beans which are sweet, tender, and succulent. When the beans are very small you can eat the whole pod too. Sow them in the Autumn and if the mice don't eat them you will have an early crop in late April, alternatively sow in March for a May harvest. The advantage of an Autumn sowing is you are likely to harvest before the black fly emerge. 

3. Mange tout

Mange tout are one of the easiest pea varieties to grow. All peas need to be supported with canes otherwise they just trail along the ground. Mange tout should be picked when the pods are about 7.5cm long, just as the peas are starting to develop. Use them as quickly as possible as they lose their sweetness once picked. Lovely to eat raw in a salad or steam them lightly.

4. Peas

There is nothing like the sweetness of home grown peas, they like a rich soil and regular watering and must be supported with canes. Pick when the pods have filled out, but tastiest when the peas are small and sweet, as they mature the peas turn starchy. Use the pea shoots for salads and dont discard the pea pods as they make excellent vegetable stock.

5. French beans

Top 10 Easy to Grow Vegetables For Your Garden Or Allotment

French beans are easy to grow in small gardens, so long as you choose a dwarf variety. Just a few plants will reward you with a copious and reliable crop. French beans also come in a variety of colours – the usual green but also cream, yellow, flecked, and purple French beans. Do note that purple French beans turn green when you cook them. 

6. Rocket

Rocket is an easy-to-grow and as its name implies when it gets established it grows fast. Rocket flourishes in a warm, sunny position. I grow both the rounder leaved and wild more toothed varieties. The younger leaves are milder and less peppery.The yellow or white flowers are a pretty addition to salads.  A glut of rocket can be turned into a pesto or salsa verde. Leaves can also be lightly cooked like spinach, added to sauces or sautéed in olive oil.

7. Chicories

The Chicory family (Cichorium intybus) is an exciting and greatly varied family of leafy plants with so much variety compared to the forced "Witloof" white 'chicons' that we buy in the Supermarkets. In Italy, there are more than 600 different varieties. They grow right across the year and are available as green shoots in the spring and as puntarelle and big-hearted vegetables in the summer. Wild chicory grows widely in Britain. Bright blue flowers signal its presence in meadows and is a foragers delight. All the chicories can be grown in your garden and grow through the winter, with varieties such as Treviso and Radicchio turning a beautiful deep crimson colour as the weather gets colder. Castelfranco is another stunningly beautiful chicory with leaves that look as though they have had crimson paint flicked over them. I use chicory as a slightly bitter salad and as a cooked vegetable.

8. Leeks

Leeks are easy to grow and its one crop that the slugs and snails are not partial too. Sow leeks in the Spring in seeds trays and then plant out when they are about 20 cms high into a deep round holes made with a 'dibber' (or wooden broom handle). As leeks grow straight up you can dot them around your summer cropping vegetables. Harvest through the winter.

9. Cavolo Nero

Cavolo Nero tolerates cold weather and is relatively free of pests and diseases. You will need to net your cavolo nero against the cabbage white butterfly, which flys in July, lays eggs on the underside of the leaves and within a few days the ravenous caterpillars can decimate your crop. All through the winter pick the leaves, leaving the plant to keep on growing.

10. Chard

Chard, or Swiss Chard, is one of the most visually appealing of the leafy vegetables and looks good in a herbaceous border. I find it easier to grow than spinach. It is grown both for its leaves and the stalk. try growing the spectacular Rainbow chard. Chard is the oldest form of beet and unlike beetroot it does not form a bulbous root but a mass of stalks and leaves which carry on growing as individual leaves are cut. When cooking chard It's worth separating the leaves of chard from the stalks and cooking the sliced stalks for a few minutes before adding the leaves and, like spinach, they reduce down dramatically so always pick more than you think you need!

Jerk Haloumi Kebabs

Continuing with our Vegetarian Barbecue theme, this week's Meat Free Monday features these Jerk Haloumi Kebabs! Perfect summer barbecue fayre, they are relished by meat eaters too, so make extra and get to the barbecue quick, before they are all devoured!

Jerk Haloumi Kebabs

Makes: 4 kebabs

Prep Time: 40 minutes plus 1 hour to marinate

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Ingredients:

Kebabs

  • 1 pack haloumi (250g), cut into 8 cubes
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 12 segments, like an orange
  • 1 large courgette, cut into 12 x 2cm slices

Jerk Spice Rub

  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

You Will Also Need

  • 4 bamboo kebab skewers (soaked in water)
  • olive oil for basting

Method

  • Make the spice rub by mixing all the ingredients together to form a paste.
  • Place the haloumi and vegetables into a large mixing bowl and gently rub in the jerk spice paste and leave to marinate for an hour.
  • Thread the vegetables and haloumi onto kebab skewers. Thread the courgette slices horizontally so that they lie flat on the grill.
  • Brush with a little olive oil.
  • Barbecue or grill turning often, and baste with a little olive oil if they stick, until the haloumi is golden and the vegetables are beginning to char.
  • Serve with black beans and rice.

Tips

Jerk seasoning (the origin of the name is obscure) comes from Jamaica. It is a dry blend of spices used as a rub or made into a fiery marinade. The spice mix varies with the cook, but the primary spice is Jamaican pimento (all spice).

The jerk spice rub can be made the day before which allows the flavour to develop.

Make it vegan

For vegan kebabs use plain tofu instead of haloumi.

Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

For more Vegetarian Kebab Recipes check out our Charred Pepper and Artichoke Spedini (Vegan) and our Tandoori Paneer Kebabs.

If a barbecue isn't a barbecue without a bit more Haloumi have a look at our recipe for Chermoula Marinated Haloumi and Courgette Kebabs! 

For even 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

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!

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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 berry cheesecake is so easy and guaranteed to delight. The secret to the sumptuous creamy filling is soaked cashews. You'll need a good blender to blitz it to silky smooth perfection, but if you don't mind a few nutty bits, any blender will do. Even people who have no issues with eating dairy LOVE this cheesecake, and they marvel when they learn what it's made out of! Use whatever berries you can get hold of - we love it foraged blackberries.

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.) 

Vegan Cashew and Berry Cheesecake

Serves: 8 | 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.

We run all kinds of vegan classes throughout the year so if you're looking for more inspiration, check out our course calendar.

As always, let us know what you think in the comments or in social media! Find us on Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

And for even more vegetarian recipe ideas and special offers on our courses, sign up for our newsletter. Thanks for reading, cooking, and sharing!

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

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