A couple of weeks ago I was invited to the launch of the summer issue of the Chilterns Food Magazine at the beautiful Wild Strawberry Cafe at Peterley Manor Farm (well worth a visit if you’re out these ways), celebrating food from the local area. The Chilterns sits just to the north-west of London, and it’s where i’m lucky to call my home. It’s one of those places that often sits in the shadows of the Cotswolds, but the Chiltern Hills definitely stands alone as a scenic place to live. Chilterns Food Magazine celebrates all things local, and I’m a firm believer that food should be as seasonal and local as your purse and lifestyle dictates, whether you’re vegan or not.
The drink recipes in this magazine have got my thirst needing to be well and truly quenched, and having never heard of a ‘shrub’ before seeing this recipe, although a little time-consuming, looks well worth the effort. It turns out “shrubs were originally colonial drinks, the name coming from the Arabic word sharab which simply means, to drink. They are made from fruit, sugar and vinegar and are left to ferment and infuse, sometimes overnight, sometimes for longer.”
Raspberry and Thyme Shrub
Makes approx 500ml
2 cups of raspberries
1 cup of raw cane sugar
8 thyme sprigs
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
- Wash and slice the raspberries and mix with the sugar in a bowl, cover and leave to infuse for two days.
- Put the thyme sprigs in a non-reactive container (so not metallic) and cover with the apple cider vinegar (use unpasteurized otherwise you get a cloudy drink), cover and leave in a cool dark place for two days.
- Strain the raspberres through a non-metallic strainer and pour the vinegar over the top.
- Place the combined shrub into a sealed glass bottle give it a good old shake then leave in your fridge for a week before using.
This method is a slightly longer process but the way the flavours combine make the effort worthwhile.
To get your Gin game on, find your local provider of Gin and add 50ml of gin with 30ml of this shrub!
Recipe from: Chilterns Food Magazine
Photography: Jamie Orlando Smith
I turned vegan nearly four years ago. Around that time I made my sister a vegan victoria sponge not to dissimilar to the one below. I was determined to not miss out on the food I was used to. To be honest, when I made the decision to give go vegan most people thought it was a phase, even I probably wasn’t wholly convinced how long I’d be able to stick to it. But, here I am, four years on and I haven’t looked back. Sure, there is food I miss occasionally, but not enough to warrant me eating it.
I made this cake last week to celebrate my friend’s birthday. It’s not quite a true Victoria sponge, as I popped some raspberries into the sponge mixture, creating quite a dense and moist sponge rather than light and fluffy one. But, needless to say it was a success and very much enjoyed, so I thought I’d share it. I used some almond soya yoghurt and it gives it a delicious hint of almonds, reminiscent of a bakewell tart – perfect!
Raspberry Vegan Victoria Sponge
300g plain flour
1 tspn baking powder
150g caster sugar
100ml vegetable oil
1 tspn vanilla extract
250ml almond soya yoghurt
100ml oat milk
For the icing:
100g vegan margarine
150g icing sugar
1 tspn vanilla extract
2 tbsp Strawberry jam
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line a 7 inch cake tin.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder and sugar.
- Add the oil, yoghurt, vanilla extract and milk and stir together. Add half of the raspberries.
- Pour the mixture into the cake tin, and cook in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Turn the cake out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
- Once cooled cut the cake in half.
- In a large bowl, add the margarine, icing sugar and vanilla extract, mix together using a blender or fork until smooth.
- Spread the strawberry jam onto one side of the sponge. On the other half spread half of the buttercream filling. Place the two sides together then spread the remaining buttercream on the top of the cake.
- Decorate using the remaining raspberries and the strawberries.
Keep in an airtight container.
Last Sunday we celebrated my Dad’s 70th birthday with a day trip on the canal, it’s a firm family favourite – spending the day drifting down the canal and tackling a lock or two! We moored our boat up and enjoyed a mega feast, my offering to the table was this delicious vegan potato salad. Roasting the potatoes makes this salad a little more special rather than your ordinary boiled type, and with all the herbs used there is no danger of this not tasting absolutely delicious.
If you’ve got a barbeque planned over the summer, why not make this vegan potato salad to serve alongside these tasty Beetroot and Black Bean Burgers?
Roasted Herby Vegan Potato Salad
1kg new potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves
3 sprigs of rosemary
Handful of mint leaves
Handful of parsley
Handful of coriander
A few sprigs of dill
Salt and pepper
- Par-boil the potatoes in a large saucepan for five minutes. Drain the potatoes.
- In a large roasting tin, add the potatoes and drizzle with olive oil. Add the garlic cloves still with their skin on, and the rosemary sprigs.
- Place in the oven at 190C. Roast for 40 minutes.
- Finely chop the rest of the herbs.
- After 20 minutes, turn the potatoes over in the pan so they are evenly roasted.
- Once roasted until lightly crispy, remove the potatoes from the oven. Remove the rosemary sprigs and garlic, and add the chopped herbs. Season with salt and pepper and stir the herbs through.
- Serve straight away, or leave to cool and eat cold.
You may have noticed some changes over these sides – if anyone does read these ramblings! Amy has taken a step back from the blog, she is no longer fully vegan (due to some health reasons) and felt the time was right to step away. You can read more about it here. So, now you’ve just got me and I hope we can get to know each other a bit better!
When I made these ice lollies we were in the midst of a sunny spell. These sunny spells don’t last long in good old Blighty and it’s definitely not the weather for these refreshing ice lollies.
I bought myself some the ice lolly moulds for the summertime and then they took about two months to arrive, just in time for Autumn, that’ll teach me for resorting to Amazon! Anyway, if the warmer weather does make a reappearance get your melons out and try these bad boys!
Watermelon and Lime Ice Lollies
1 lime juice
1 tbsp agave syrup
- Slice and de-skin the watermelon, then in a food processor blitz until smooth.
- Add the lime juice and agave syrup and blend together.
- In your ice lolly moulds pour the liquid and freeze overnight.
- Makes 6 ice lollies.
A super speedy recipe to liven up your houmous. You can’t beet some roasted beetroot AND garlic, and this makes a really sweet flavour combination. Forget your pickled beetroot THIS is where you can truly appreciate the awesomeness of beetroot.
Roasted Beetroot and Garlic Houmous
240g (1 tin) chickpeas
2 tbsp tahini
3 cloves garlic
1/2 juice of lemon
Handful of fresh coriander
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp water
- Peel the beetroot and chop into small chunks. In a baking tray, roast the beetroot and garlic cloves in the oven for 35 minutes with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Meanwhile, blend the chickpeas in a food processor along with the tahini. Add the lemon juice.
- Once the beetroot is cooked, add it to the chickpea mix. Peel the skin of the garlic cloves and pop in the mixture, and drain any excess olive oil into the processor too.
- Blend until smooth, this may take awhile depending on the power of your blender.
- Add the coriander and season with salt and pepper.
I’m not sure if this is best described as a cake, it is probably more of a pudding. Whether you’ve got peaches or nectarines to hand, this tasty upside down cake is so fruity, plus the lemon zest gives the sponge an extra zing! I think it is definitely best eaten whilst warm from the oven, but you can always add some custard to warm a cold slice up.
We are in the midst of the british blueberry season, so make sure you grab a couple of punnets and stock up your freezers.
Blueberry and Nectarine Upside Down Cake
120g spelt flour
120g self-raising flour
60g caster sugar
1 tspn baking powder
200ml oat milk
70ml vegetable oil
2 x nectarines
2 x handful blueberries
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Line the bottom of a 7 inch cake tin with greaseproof paper and oil the sides of the tin. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
- Slice the nectarines and lay them and a handful of blueberries in the bottom of the tin.
- In a mixing bowl – add the flours, sugar and baking powder. Stir in the oat milk and oil and add the juice and zest of the lemon, plus another handful of blueberries. Once mixed together pour over the nectarine and blueberries.
- Bake for 40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
I promise I’m not lying when I say these courgette fritters may just be my best creation so far! When I had my allotment my kitchen was overrun with courgettes. It turned out planting five courgette plants meant you had about 50 courgettes to consume, and if you didn’t tend to your plants regularly they would look more like marrows. So, 50 marrow sized courgettes meant we were eating a heck of a lot of the vegetable! We had to get inventive with our mealtimes. I made this delightful courgette loaf that used some up. We used to have these fritters at least once a week, but now i’ve upped the fritter game with this peanut sauce AND it’s definitely a game changer. So if you’ve found yourself in a courgette predicament right now, or you’re wondering what else can you do with courgette other than slicing them and boiling them, THIS recipe has definitely got your name on!
Courgette Fritters with Thai Peanut Sauce
1 red onion
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
100g rice flour (or alternate flour)
1 tspn ground coriander
1 tspn cumin
1 chilli (finely chopped)
180ml oat milk
1 tbsp flax seed
Handful of fresh coriander (chopped)
1 juice of lime
Salt and pepper
For the peanut sauce:
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tspn dried chilli flakes (or fresh chilli)
1/2 lime juice
1 spring onion
- Grate the courgette and onion. Leave to drain for 10 minutes in a sieve and then squeeze and remaining water out of the mixture -the drier the better.
- In a pan, melt 1 tbsp of coconut oil and sauté the courgette, onion and garlic cloves for 5 – 10 minutes,
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, ground coriander and cumin and stir the spices through.
- Once the courgette mix has cooled slightly, add to the flour mix, along with the chilli, milk, flax seed, lime juice and coriander. Season with salt and pepper.
- Melt the other tablespoon of coconut oil and spoon the mixture into patties and cook on a medium high heat. Turn over once they have crisped up on the bottom. They will take about 10 – 15 minutes to cook through.
- Meanwhile, to make the peanut sauce – add the peanut butter to a bowl, along with the soy sauce, sesame oil and maple sauce – stir until creamy and smooth.
- Add the dried chilli flakes, lime juice and finely chopped spring onion, along with the water to make a runnier sauce, add more or less water depending on how thick you prefer the sauce.
- I served it with courgette ribbons and the peanut sauce drizzled all over them – super tasty!
Peace and love
What’s going on with this heat? Last week we were moaning that it felt like winter, now we’re in the midst of a bloomin’ heatwave! I’m definitely NOT complaining. I love the heat. I love having all the doors and windows open. Love the amazing sunsets. And love actually wearing my summery clothes. When the weather reaches these dizzy heights I cling onto my childhood memories, when I’m sure summer holidays were definitely sunnier than they appear to be these days. Perhaps I have a rose tinted view of those idealistic days, when the only care was what time the ice cream van was rocking up, or which tree we’d be climbing. But, summer memories definitely involve summer berries that’s for sure. And what better way to enjoy the raspberries you’ll be a picking than in this super tasty Raspberry Cheesecake.
For the base:
150g medjool dates
50g coconut oil (melted)
For the filling:
1 block firm tofu
50g coconut oil
1 tbsp rice/fruit/agave syrup
- In a food processor, blend the dates, almonds and oats until thoroughly chopped. Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan on a low heat and blend with the nut mixture, it should combine slightly.
- Add to your tin (I used mini tart tins), press down firmly using your hands and pop in the fridge for a couple of hours to set.
- Drain the tofu, and blend in the processor until smooth. Add the raspberries, and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Melt the coconut oil and add along with the syrup and blend once more until combined.
- Spread evenly over the base and leave in the fridge for another few hours until firm.
- Top with fresh fruit.
Get picking those raspberries 🙂
This basil pesto carrot gnocchi may just be my favourite thing EVER! I mean, I’m not going to lie, this is not a weekday dinner – making your own gnocchi is a faff that’s for sure. This is definitely more of a weekend meal, one to take your time and not stress over. I promise, it is worth the effort though, for sure!
But, this delicious pesto you could make any day of the week. Mix it through some pasta for a quick simple weekday dinner, or stir it through some courgette ribbons and add it to your lunchtime salad. You’ll never want to buy another jar of pesto once you’ve made your own!
Basil Pesto Carrot Gnocchi
For the pesto:
120g pine nuts
1 1/2 tubs of basil (the pots you can buy in the supermarket)
70ml olive oil
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper
- On a medium heat, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan for five minutes.
- In a food processor, blitz the garlic clove and basil. Add the toasted pine nuts and olive oil and blend together until it’s as fine as you want it to be.
- Season with salt and pepper.
For the gnocchi:
6 medium carrots
180g rice flour
Salt and pepper
- Peel and boil the potatoes until cooked. In a separate saucepan, peel and boil the carrots until cooked.
- Once they are both cooked, in a food processor, blend the cooked carrot until smooth, add the potatoes and mix until both are combined and no longer lumpy (use a potato masher if you don’t have a food processor).
- Add the rice flour and season with plenty of salt and pepper and blend together until a doughy consistency is formed.
- Shape into small balls using extra flour (this bit gets quite messy) and lay out on greaseproof. I used a fork to flatten them out a little and to give them an even shape.
- In a pan of salted boiling water, lower to a simmer, then place the gnocchi into the water (you may need to cook half at a time so it doesn’t clump together).
- The gnocchi will take two – four minutes to cook, once it has risen to the surface it is ready. Using a slotted spoon strain the excess water and place on a plate.
- Heat the pesto in a pan on a medium heat, and add the cooked, strained gnocchi. Stir the pesto thoroughly through the gnocchi. Serve straight away.
Happy gnocchi days 🙂
Despite the weather being
a bit very crappy during June it looks like Summer has started to arrive. Wimbledon marks the start of Strawberry season for me, and hopefully all the rain won’t ruin crops this year, because we’ve got A LOT of strawberries to eat!
This creamy strawberry ice cream is the perfect dessert to cool down on a hot summer’s evening especially with some more strawberries PLUS it’s so easy to make. I always thought of ice cream as being a pain in the butt to make, but this is super simple. Just make sure you’re not rushing out so you can keep going back to the freezer for the first few hours to whip it up and ensure you have a creamy ice cream.
Strawberry ice cream
800ml (2 tins) coconut milk
2 tbsp agave syrup
1 tspn vanilla extract
- Wash and de-stalk the strawberries.
- In a food processor, empty the coconut cream and mix until smooth.
- Add the strawberries and mix together with the coconut cream until thoroughly combined.
- Add the xylitol, agave syrup and vanilla extract and blend through.
- Empty into a suitable tub/tin that will survive in the freezer and pop in the freezer.
- Every 30 minutes, stir through to stop large crystals forming, you’ll need to do this four or five times, basically the more times the better – you’ll get a smoother creamier texture and thank yourself when eating it.
Happy summertime 🙂