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
A couple of years ago my boyfriend and I went on holiday travelling around Italy for a couple of weeks – it was pretty awesome. We went to Rome, Naples, Sorrento and then took a night ferry over to Sicily. I ate A LOT of pizza and serious amounts of tomato pasta, there wasn’t too many vegan options, but it didn’t matter because pizza and pasta are fine by me! When we got to Sicily, their speciality took a seriously good turn – Pasta alla Trapanese. It’s basically tomato almond pesto and tastes so good.
Occasionally I buy the expensive pasta in the supermarket, because it reminds me of that holiday.
Pasta alla Trapanese [vegan]
250g cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Handful of basil
- Blanche the almonds in boiling water for a few minutes. Cool and peel as much of the skin off as you can.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a food processor, blitz the almonds, along with the garlic. Add the cherry tomatoes and blitz together for a few seconds, you don’t want it to go to watery. Stir through the olive oil and season with plenty of salt and pepper.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain the water and add the tomato almond pesto and make sure the pasta is coated.
- Serve with the basil leaves.
I love artichokes. Artichoke Globes that is, not those pesky Jerusalem ones, they’re gross and they make you pass a serious amount of gas…true story! I’ve never actually cooked the Globe ones from scratch before, I have just bought them covered in oil in a jar. Don’t get me wrong, jar ones absolutely have their place, but now Globe Artichokes are in season I came across them at my local market, they looked so pretty and were so cheap, I just had to grab myself a load and figured I would figure it out! Turns out they’re not too difficult to prepare, fiddly sure, but not so hard. I also grabbed a bunch of Asparagus because hello Asparagus is in season too…man Spring is the best!
This would make a great side dish, perhaps to a risotto or a pie of some sort, your side veggies definitely don’t just have to be boiled!
Artichoke Hearts and Asparagus
5-6 baby globe artichokes (or regular sized ones)
Bunch of asparagus
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves
- Rinse the artichokes in cold water.
- Peel off the outer leaves until you reach the paler leaves. Trim the tops and the stem.
- Slice them into quarters, and then place them in a bowl of cold water with 1/2 of the lemon juice, whilst you prepare the rest of them. If you’re using regular sized artichokes you need to make sure you scoop out the furry middle, you don’t need to worry about this with the baby ones, they’re just babies.
- Steam the artichokes using the lemon water for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus by snapping off the lower part of the stalk and discard.
- In a baking tray, place the asparagus along with the steamed artichokes.
- Drizzle with olive oil, the remaining lemon juice and the garlic cloves, I threw in the juiced lemon too.
- Place under the grill for 10 minutes on a medium heat.
- Season with salt and pepper.
There is more to vegetables than simply boiling them! Don’t get me wrong, boiled veg has it’s place on a plate sometimes, but this Cashew and Sesame Purple Sprouting Broccoli is one of those dishes that showcases just how an ordinary vegetable can become the star of the show. This makes an ideal side dish or serve with noodles and eat as a main meal.
Cashew Sesame Purple Sprouting Broccoli
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
50g cashew nuts
Thumb sized piece of ginger (grated)
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp sesame seeds
- In a wok or frying pan, heat the sesame oil on a medium heat.
- Chop the leek and add to the pan along with the garlic and cashew nuts, and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the broccoli, grated ginger, tamari and chilli and cook for 10 minutes. Add the sesame seeds and stir through.
For as long as I can remember Lasagna has been my favourite dish. I love a good vegetable lasagna packed full of whatever the season has to offer, but lentils provide this beaut more of a meaty texture. This dish is packed full of flavour, and a tofu topping means you don’t need to faff about with a bechamel and worry about lumpy sauce = win!
Vegan Lasagna with lentils and kale
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
200g puy lentils (soaked overnight if possible)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp oregano
1/2 tbsp thyme
1 tspn ground cinnamon
2 tbsp tomato puree
400ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
6 – 8 lasagne sheets (depending on the size of your dish)
For the topping:
1 block of firm tofu (drained)
3 tbsp pine nuts (keep an extra few to sprinkle on top)
80g spinach (washed and dried)
Salt and pepper
A few cherry tomatoes
A few basil leaves
- In a large saucepan, melt the coconut oil on a medium heat.
- Chop the onion and garlic and add to the pan and cook for five minutes.
- Rinse the lentils and add to the pan, along with the chopped tomatoes, oregano, thyme, cinnamon and tomato puree. Cook for five minutes.
- Gradually add the vegetable stock, along with the kale, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Cook for about 25 minutes until the lentils are cooks. Season with plenty of pepper and a little salt.
- Meanwhile in food processor, add the drained block of tofu, the pine nuts and spinach and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a large oven-proof dish add half of the lentil and kale filling and spread evenly. Lay the lasagne sheets covering the filling.
- Spoon half the tofu mixture and spread evenly across the pasta sheet.
- Spread the remaining lentil mix over and top with more pasta sheets and the rest of the tofu mixture.
- Top with sliced cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and a few basil leaves.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for thirty minutes.
- Serve with some tasty salad leaves.
I love pancakes, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE pancake day. These vegan pancakes are so easy to make and you definitely don’t need any eggs to make them! Just make sure you’ve got your favourite plantbased milk and flour in the cupboard and you’re all set to get flipping!
When I was growing up we pretty much saved our pancake eating to once a year. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see that pancakes are more of a weekly thing in my house now, I tend to mix the toppings up a bit depending what I’ve got in the house. But sometimes you can’t beat a traditional crepe style, doused in lemon and sugar. If you’re looking for more of an american style thick pancake recipe then this, this or this might be up your street. I’ve got your pancake needs covered this year don’t you worry!
Pancakes with lemon and sugar
200g plain flour
400ml plantbased milk (I used oat milk)
A pinch of salt
1 tspn vanilla extract (optional)
25g vegan margarine
2 tbsp caster sugar
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and milk and whisk using a balloon whisk until you’ve got a smooth batter.
- Add the salt and vanilla extract and stir through. Leave to sit for thirty minutes but only if you’ve got time.
- Meanwhile, heat your frying pan on a medium heat and melt a little (not all) of the margarine.
- When the pan is hot, ladle the batter into the pan and cook for a few minutes, flip the pancake to cook the other side. Add a little extra margarine before each pancake.
- Serve with plenty of lemon juice and caster sugar.
Or you could even melt some dark chocolate, and serve with coconut yoghurt. Or cook some apples and sprinkle with cinnamon. The list is pretty much endless when it comes to pancakes!
Pretty much everyday I get hungry around 11am, depending on what I’ve had for breakfast. I always need some kind of mid-morning snack that’s going to keep me going until lunchtime and this banana and chocolate bread has currently won me over in the snackosphere.
I’ve not been shy on the chocolate chunks, if something is going to have chocolate in the title then I’m going to want to get a massive hit of chocolateyness, and this doesn’t disappoint. I even took a little jar of nut butter into work and smothered it on a slice – I was winning in life at that point. Later in the day I definitely wasn’t. It turned out I’d not put the lid back on that blommin’ jar properly and got home to discover I was half a jar down and one tote bag was totally ruined. I would definitely put this catastrophe into a middle class problem type meme.
Banana and Chocolate Bread
3 ripe bananas
1tbsp maple syrup
1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax seed, 3 tbsp water mixed together)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tspn vanilla extract
100ml plant based milk
200g spelt flour
50g self-raising flour
1 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
125g dark chocolate
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C, grease and line an 2lb loaf tin (mediumish size).
- In a glass, mix together the flax seed and water and set aside for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, mash up the bananas. Add all the wet ingredients – maple syrup, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, plant milk and the flax seed egg. Stir together.
- Add the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and stir until all mixed together.
- Chop the chocolate – I like mine quite chunky so don’t over chop, stir into the mixture.
- Pour the mixture into the loaf tin, and pop in the oven for 45 – 50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when you insert it.
- Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. I like to cut a slice and eat it whilst it is still warm, after all that’s when the chocolate is at its best!
If there is one thing we’ve learnt from this….screw those lids on people!
I’m having a miso revelation. I love the stuff and this miso noodle soup is not only super quick to make but also really tasty, and it’s really good for your tummy too.
Miso is from Japan and is made from fermented soybeans, sounds a bit weird, but honestly it’s good. Fermented foods are a great natural probiotic. I’ve been doing a bit more reading into how to look after my gut and keep it happy, making sure I’m getting plenty of probiotics into my system, and eating more fermented foods is where I’m heading.
Miso noodle soup with fried tofu
For the tofu:
1/2 block of firm tofu
1 tspn coconut oil
2 tbsp tamiri (soy sauce)
For the soup:
800 ml vegetable stock (I used vegan boullion)
2 garlic cloves (sliced)
1 red pepper (sliced)
1 carrot (sliced)
1/2 white cabbage (shredded)
2 bundles of rice noodles
2 tspn miso paste
1 tbsp tamari (soy sauce)
1 tbsp sesame seeds
- First, drain the liquid off the tofu, using a sieve. Pop the tofu block on a plate and then pop another plate on top and leave for half an hour, with a heavy object of some sort on top.
- Once the liquid has drained, slice half the tofu into centimetre slices. Keep the other half in a container in the fridge and use for another dish.
- In a frying pan, melt the coconut oil and add the sliced tofu and sprinkle the tamari on the tofu, keep it on quite a high heat and it’ll start to crisp up, turning over every now and then.
- Meanwhile, heat the vegetable stock on a medium heat, add the carrot, pepper, garlic and cabbage and bring to the boil.
- Once boiling, bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes, add the miso paste, tamari and rice noodles.
- Cook as per your rice noodle instructions.
- Once cooked, serve in bowls.
- Top with the tofu and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Tis the season of indulgence and all that. I’m trying not to give in too much to my sugar cravings but I’ve succumbed to temptation and it is mainly in chocolate form. These brownies are so good. I like my brownies to be the perfect amount of gooey with a crisp/crunchy top, and these deliver my requirements. If you prefer more of a cakey texture keep these in for twenty minutes, if not, fifteen minutes and you’ll have your brownie of dreams. If you’re looking to give edible gifts this Christmas, these will make an ideal gift, wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string or a ribbon.
100g rice flour
100g buckwheat flour
1 tspn xantham gum
1 tspn baking powder
180g dark chocolate
150ml sunflower oil
100g caster sugar
1 tbsp cashew/almond butter
275ml oat milk
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease a line a 20cm baking tin with greaseproof paper.
- In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt half of the chocolate along with all of the cashew butter.
- In a mixing bowl, add the flours, xanthum gum, baking powder, cocoa and sugar.
- Add the oil, oat milk, melted chocolate and cashew butter and stir until all is thoroughly mixed together.
- Chop the remaining chocolate into pieces and add to the mixture along with the pecans, and stir through.
- Spread evenly into the lined baking tin and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Cut into even squares whilst warm, and once they’ve cooled a little turn them out onto a wire rack (although these are best eaten straight from the oven in my humble opinion!).
Is it me or is Christmas getting earlier each year? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas, but just not in November. I’m about to contradict myself majorly because this loaf cake is PERFECT for Christmas, and technically we’re not quite in December territory yet…my bad!
I’m not a massive fan of dense fruit cakes, although I’ve got a great Christmas cake recipe if that’s what you’re looking for, but I think this is perfect if you’re looking for a lighter alternative! This recipe is pretty low in sugar, just using dates, a little maple syrup and a tad of caster sugar for your orange drizzle. That’s right, it’s got an orange drizzle running through it to make it super (apologies for using this word) moist!
Cranberry and Orange Loaf
100g rice flour
100g buckwheat flour
50g spelt flour
150g fresh cranberries
Zest of two oranges
1 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp baking powder
125ml vegetable oil
300ml oat milk
2 tbsp maple syrup
50g caster sugar
Juice of two oranges
- Grease a 2lb loaf tin with margarine or oil
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flours along with the xantham gum and baking powder
- Add the fresh cranberries and coat in the flour, along with the zest of the oranges
- Finely chop the dates and stir through. Gradually add the vegetable oil, oat milk and maple syrup and mix thoroughly until everything is mixed together
- Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and spread evenly
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean
- Pierce with a skewer all over
- In a bowl mix the caster sugar with the juice of the oranges, pour over the cake and leave to cool in the tin
- Once cooled, store in an air tight container