Warning – these are not in fact vegan, as they contain honey. You could swap the honey for maple syrup if you wanted. Though we can’t attest to the affect that might have on consistency or flavour – but maple syrup is yummy so it should be lovely.
These are truly moreish. Eat one…and you’ll want more, more, more…oh dear you’ve split in half.
You will need:
250g pack of almonds
honey (or not)
cashew butter or peanut butter
The way of making the balls:
Roast the almonds, probably for about 15 minutes or so, at a moderate temperature.
Allow to cool slightly, and grind to a medium grind with a food processor. Get a dessertspoon and get as much honey as you can get on it and add to the almonds. Repeat.
Using the same spoon (or a clean one if you’re really fussy), take your nut butter and do exactly the same as you did with the honey, including the repeat.
So now you have ground almonds with 2 big spoons of honey and 2 big spoons of nut butter.
The mixture needs to be combined and will be quite sticky, so you need adequately strong wrists. Remember to roll up your sleaves before you start or you’ll need to call out to a friend to help you do so afterwards.
Roast some of the dessicated coconut for rolling. This will burn very quickly once it starts to roast so you need to watch it. The dessicated coconut should be fairly finely ground. If it is a coarse grind then make it just a bit finer with a bit of a go in the food processor. Keep the coconut handy in a bowl.
Form the almond mixture into balls about an inch or so in diameter, but you can make them whatever size you like really. Roll each ball in the roasted coconut.
Store any that may be left in the fridge……if they last that long.
Octavia’s Daughter’s favourite film is ‘Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging’
Snogging sadly, gets in the way of chewing your food properly. Also, care must be taken to avoid parsley between the teeth, and an aversion to garlic and onion may become a nasty habit. So much for THAT film then..
On to the rest of the story.
The Bandit and Octavia’s Daughter came by this afternoon. They have already paid for their meal by way of their news that the local library sells off their excess stock of books for the bargain basement price of 50p for a shopping bag full. Clearly the library could do with some lessons in signposting, as SheWhoMustBeFed hasn’t noticed that goings on for five plus years.
This was made as a companion to Fragrant Moroccan Vegetables, for The Bandit and Octavia’s Daughter. The two tagines nestled together snugly in the oven while the loinfruits made occasionally disturbing thumps in the lounge room.
What you would need:
3 cups of cooked haricot beans
1 cup of passata
1 tablespoon of miso
2 cloves of garlic – chopped
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of ras el hanout
1/2 teaspoon of Spanish smoked paprika
1 cup of boiled water
For the doing:
Pre-dissolve the miso paste in the boiled water
Give everything else a good mix before slopping it stylishly into the tagine
Add more water if necessary
And bake in a stinking hot oven for 45 minutes or so. As always, this will cook in that time if the tagine and the oven are preheated while you’re preparing everything.
When The VegHead was a teenager he spent many an afternoon getting up to mischief with a friend who for the purposes of this blog we’ll call “770”. Living still with our parents, it was to their fridges that we turned when the fires of teenage hunger called for a shovel load of fuel, before we rushed out to do something constructive like change a differential.
770’s mum (bless her, lovely woman and still alive and kicking to this day) was…how shall we say this in a manner that accurately captures the respect and affection The VegHead has for this woman….well…..shall we say dotty sometimes. Delving into her fridge was an exercise in exploring the wild and wacky world of the leftovers that inhabited it.
770’s mum was never a fan of Tupperware either (and who could blame her), preferring instead to use old Flora Margarine containers. Finding the actual real tub of margarine generally involved finding three or four scientific experiments first; clicking off the lid from a container only to discover exactly what does grow on the half a dozen egg yolks separated off two weeks earlier when they weren’t need in that pavlova recipe. Indeed, opening the fridge in the first place generally gave access to a heady mixture of smells, reminiscent of the rich humus to be found on the floor of a rain forest. Vaguely comforting, and yet vaguely suggestive of extensive mould growth.
It must also be said that this theme has not been entirely escaped in later life. SheWhoMustBeFed’s mother is rather fond of refridgerated biological experimentation. In her case however she tends to brew up a storm in jars and proper Tupperware containers, which at least has the redeeming feature of keeping the scent of decay more firmly sealed within.
Left overs however are generally a good thing. They allow for good quick meals when you don’t have time to make something from scratch. Left overs are also a sign that you cooked enough to serve everyone generously, but that everyone has the sense to eat only sufficiently and not gluttonously. Just remember to eat the leftovers before they plan a revolution.
Here’s what to do with a cup of leftover Thai Fried Rice. It’ll take less time than it’s taken you to read this post so far.
You will need:
One cup of fried rice (obviously)
A really big handful of spinach leaves
Dark sesame oil
Crushed macadamia nuts or cashews
Reheat the rice in a covered saucepan, adding a smidgeon of water if you need
Lightly saute the spinach in the sesame oil
Serve the rice over the bed of spinach, sprinkling with the nuts
The VegHead is basically lazy. Give me an easy way out and I’ll be halfway to the door before you’ve finished putting your jacket on to follow. And so it is with creating new meals. Why start entirely from scratch when you can borrow so much from something you already know how to make? This theme is a large part of The VegHead’s You can cook EVERYTHING on a BBQ summer range of recipes….which we will get to in due course as the weather warms enough to find The VegHead outside and chasing the woodlice out from their winter of nibbling on the cold scraps around the BBQ plate.
A lazy way to make a new meal is to simply take all the same ingredients you’d use for an existing meal, and think about cooking them in different ways and in different combinations. For instance, last week The VegHead cooked Thai curry. Only it wasn’t; it was a stir fry on a bed of curry fried rice. Exactly the same ingredients as might have gone into a curry (OK….didn’t use coconut milk in this case), but a different end result.
Moreover, changing the method and order of cooking generally means the time taken to make one meal from the same ingredients might be substantially different than the time taken to make your usual meal. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends onthe circumstances, but the opporunity is there to discover a truly useful and delicious variant.
New flavours emphasised, different textures, and a refreshing view on the plate.
The Thai Fried Rice would be a great summer salad, however it was originally made to be a companion to this vegetable stir fry. Put together the two meals include a reasonable range of vegetables (corn, peas, broccoli, mushrooms) as well as tofu, rice and nuts. This meal is deliberately quite plain, by virtue of the fact that the fried rice is made with curry paste, and so carries the heat and the bulk of the flavour in the meal.
A large pile of purple sprouting broccoli spears. Cut off the knarly bits from the ends of the stem and roughly chop any really large spears. The VegHead always thinks that the size of any pieces in a stir fry is less important than the fact that all the pieces of any one ingredient are of a consistent size, so that they reach “cooked” at the same time.
a slightly smaller pile of mushrooms, sliced. Use either shiitake or standard cup mushrooms, or whatever lovely funghi you can get your greedy little hands on.
1/2 a (standard sized) block of medium/soft tofu. Cube.
1 cubic cm of ginger – grate using a ginger grater
Stir fry it all. If you need me to explain how to stir fry, you shouldn’t be trusted near a naked flame and you ought to have cereal for dinner instead. Ask Mum to help you use the scissors to cut the cereal packet open.
Somewhere deep in The VegHead’s brain is a powerful cluster of synapses that take control every time I think of the words “fried” and “rice” used in that order. Despite anything I might try to do, into my mind pops the words “Flied Lice” instead, said in a fake Asian accent. “Fried ice-cream” remains fried , “rice pudding” remains rice . Put the two words together and the “r” regresses seven letters back. What event seared this neural connection into my the structure of my brain I cannot say – the crushing disappointment of finding that the last slice of cake has been licked by the cat. Don’t know. Too late for therapy. Time to just cook…
This is a very simple fried rice; before getting to the ingredients list let me just say a few words on how much curry paste you’ll need. The answer is “it depends” – on how hot your curry paste is and how hot you like your food. So here’s my best advice. Imagine you were cooking a Thai curry for dinner. However much paste you’d use in that curry (for the same number of people you’re cooking for) then use one sixth of the paste in this dish. You’ll need much less as the heat of the paste isn’t tempered with the coconut milk.
Ingredients (enough for two people and probably a little leftovers in the fridge afterwards):
1 cup (dry) of brown Thai rice
3/4 cup of corn kernels (either boil fresh sweetcorn and cut off the cob, or use frozen)
3/4 cup of peas
Yellow (or red) Thai curry paste
1/3 cup of macadamia nuts – roughly chopped. Substitute with cashews if you need.
Cook the rice using the boil/absorption method, along with the curry paste. If you’re unfamiliar with this method – in a saucepan, cover the rice with about 1″ (2.5 cms) of water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the water has almost entirely been absorbed. Then turn off the heat and leave covered in the saucepan for 10 minutes more.
Meanwhile, lightly stir fry the corn and peas in a heavy pan.
Once the rice is fully cooked it will have taken on a pleasant orange colour from the curry paste. Add it to the peas and corn. Mix thoroughly and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure it doesn’t stick too much.
The spirit of Tunisia entered The VegHead’s kitchen last night and held a little party in the oven. Tunisia, or more accurately the Tunisian Republic, or even more accurately al-Jumhūriyya at-Tūnisiyya, or if you want to show off اجمهورية التونسية sounds like a fairly nice place. Check it out here.
The word “Tunisia” has a degree of French lineage, which perhaps explains the ability of the puy lentils to cross the cultural barriers and get on so nicely with the Tunisian Spice Paste in this dish. Puy lentils are considered by The VegHead to be the best lentil – for three reasons. Firstly they have a lovely and unique peppery flavour. Secondly they hold their shape during cooking. Thirdly, they don’t make The VegHead unpleasant to be near the next day (well….no more than usual). Pub trivia note: They’re the only lentil to be identified by area of cultivation – grown in the Le Puy region of France.
This dish relies on having a jar of Tunisian Spice Paste from Oil and Vinegar. While we generally try to avoid specific, ready made ingredients in these recipes it does seem that Oil and Vinegar have stores in quite a few countries, from the UK to UAE to USA to RSA to Oz, and a few more in between. Their web site however is crap, and you don’t seem to be able to locate the Tunisian Paste via their product search. Oh well….you can’t be good at everything can you?
This is one of those meals where the component parts are all very simple, but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It is simply a stuffed and roasted capsicum, with wok fried cavelo nero and potatoes as side dishes.
Ingredients: Note 1: the following quantities are listed per person Note 2: the quantities of the lentils and mushrooms are approximate and you may need to adjust up/down based on the size of the capsicum
1 large orange/yellow/red capsicum
1/2 cup of cooked puy lentils
1/2 cup of shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon of chopped red onion
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons of passata
1 tablespoon of Tunisian paste
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 wooden skewers
Cut out the stalk end of the capsicum, making a hole that is large enough for you to get the stuffing in, but not so large that you just cut the capsicum in half. You’re a clever person, you’ll figure this out! This bulk of the seeds should lift out with the stalk section; slice off the soft flesh that holds the seed ball and compost.
Mix all other ingredients thoroughly
Stuff the capsicum to just below the lip of the hole. Ensure that it is firmly filled by gently pressing with your fingers
Replace the stalk lid
Use the skewers to hold the lid in place, pushing each one through the lid at an angle and down through the flesh of the body of the capsicum on the opposite side. The trick here is to angle the skewers such that once you’ve got all three in, they have emerged to form three legs that support the capsicum upright as it cooks.
Lightly brush the outside of the capsicum with a little olive oil
Bake in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes
Cube and roast an orange sweet potato, sprinkled lightly with some italian herbs
Boil some desiree type potatoes, and smash them with some soy milk and French Walnut Oil
Gently mix the roast and smashed potatoes before serving
The Cavelo Nero
Wash the leaves and drain. Remove any gnarly stem ends
Chop roughly. Slice any thick stemmy bits along the stem
Stir fry with a little olive oil in a hot wok – it will only require a few minutes at most
Serve the capsicum on a bed of the cavelo nero, with the potatoes to the side.
Hing is the Indian name for asofetida, which together with a big, fat, grated root of fresh turmeric is the spice that gives the most to the flavour of this chick pea curry. Many recipes have asofetida thrown in to the hot oil at the beginning of cooking, together with the other dried spices and chillies. However The VegHead finds that its flavour is overcome and lost if this is done, and prefers instead to sprinkle a little in once most of the cooking has been done.
Friday’s are the principal shopping day for the VegHead larder, and so Thursday nights tend to be “whatever is left” night. A shiny black-skinned aubergine begged to be eaten, and a pile of orange sweet potatoes just cried out to be culled somewhat. These, together with the big jar of chick peas in the fridge formed the basis for dinner.
The Thursday night larder:
1 medium aubergine – cubed
1 medium sweet potato – cubed
1 cup of cooked chick peas
1 small onion – diced
2 cloves of garlic – chopped
2 medium tomatoes – chopped
1 chilli – chopped
1 thumb sized turmeric root (substitute 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder if unavailable)
1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of coriander seeds
small pinch of fenugreek seeds
2 cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon of asofetida powder
1 tablespoon of miso (or substitute vegetable stock)
corn flour (or other thickening agent)
dry roast the spice seeds for 10 minutes or so, then grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle
roughly mash the chick peas with a “potato masher”
fry the dried spices, chilli, onion and garlic over a low heat for a few minutes (if using powdered turmeric add at this stage too)
add the chick peas, sweet potato, and aubergine. Mix thoroughly and cook covered over a low heat for several minutes
add the tomato and miso, and enough water to cover. Bring to a steady, low simmer and maintain until the sweet potato and aubergine are tender but not mushy
if using fresh turmeric root, grate and add now (best to only grate fresh turmeric root just before using or it browns quickly through oxidisation). Also add the asofetida powder. Simmer for another few minutes.
thicken the sauce. The easiest way to do this is to scoop out the vegetables into a bowl using a slotted spoon, leaving just the sauce in the pan (off the heat). Then spoon out a little of the sauce into a small bowl, add a little corn flour, and mix all the lumps out with a fork. Then add the corn flour mix back into the rest of the sauce in the pan, and mix through thoroughly over a low heat. Then add the vegetables back in. This might sound fussy but it ensures a lump-free thickening experience at the expense of two extra bowls and a slotted spoon in the washing up.
Never be mean to an aubergine Even if they’re not your scene. Their gorgeous purple hue Can on the branch split in two. A single stem with mirrored parts A passionate purple kitchen heart. A whimsical, unexpected treat Clearly nicer than eating meat.
A very simple, but not very picturesque meal that The VegHead and SheWhoMustBeFed enjoy very much is a Mexican “Chilli Con Tofu”. Its best served with some plain (brown) rice, and perhaps some soy yoghurt.
And so it was last week, and in doing so The VegHead allowed a little whimsical spontaneity to enter the kitchen. Thus leading to the simple arrangementt of avocado slices on a flat glass plate to create a bowl, which served to hold the yoghurt. Meanwhile some black olives were skewered with tooth picks – half a dozen to a stick. One for The VegHead and one for SheWhoMustBeFed. The toothpick sticks stopped the olives escaping. Olives generally sit fairly passively in a bowl awaiting their fate, but the flat nature of the serving plate on this occasion gave them adventurous ideas of rolling away. A stick through their gizzards soon put an end to their plans!
And seeing as the chilli is very good to eat, but quite boring to take a picture of, we have a picture of the side dish instead.
For the Chilli Con Tofu you will need:
1 cup of cooked kidney beans
1 block of soft/medium tofu (meaning a medium grade, but hopefully on the softish side)
1 medium tomato – chopped
1 small onion – chopped
1 green capsicum (a.k.a “green pepper” if you’re from Disneyland) – chopped
2 cloves of garlic – crushed
1 fresh chilli (or more or less to taste, or substitute equivalent chilli powder)
A large blob of tomato paste
A large blob of dark miso (or a vegetable stock cube)
A small blob of peanut butter
1 generously heaped tablespoon of cumin powder (yes TABLEspoon)
1 teaspoon of coriander powder
Sauté the onion, garlic, chilli and powdered spices in a generous pour of olive oil
Add the beans. Crumble the tofu in – don’t cube the tofu, mash it which will allow it to soak up more of the flavours. I don’t want to find you using some masher implement here, I want to see you connecting with your food and using your hands. Squeeeeeeze it through your fingers! Stir it all together until the tofu and beans have been thoroughly coated with the spices.
Add all the remaining ingredients, together with a cup or more of water. It often helps if you pre-dissolve the miso, tomato paste and peanut butter in some boiled water.
Simmer for 20 minutes.
If it doesn’t taste “mexicanny” enough – dump in more cumin.
This is meant to be a blog about the goings on in The VegHead’s kitchen. OK…..with the occasional foray to feed the compost and to observe the wonders and worries of buying local, organic, fresh, glorious food.
However our stomachs aren’t all that need feeding. Our minds too need to be stretched with new ideas. To be nourished with the richness of a poetic tumble of words. To feed our appetite for change within ourselves and within the world through the truth and strength of the story of another. To curl on a comfortable chair on a cold day, a cuppa to hand as some quiet music plays. Reading. Reading something that will change us, rather than crap Hollywood gossip.
Someone asked The VegHead just a few days ago “When was the last time you cried?”.
A question most timely perhaps as those rare, hot tears have been flowing most profuse this last week. The onions (for a change) are not to blame. Instead the catalyst for The VegHead’s expression of emotion has simply been the most extraordinary story. The. Most. Extraordinary. Story.
“Three cups of tea” – The story of Greg Mortenson’s life; building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Living better than we do involves treating those around us in a fashion that recognises the fundamental truths of the problems we face. My words fail to capture the simple complexity and honesty of Greg Mortenson’s life so I will leave it there.
If you feed your mind nothing else this year, feed it this.
1/2 glass of white wine (I’ll leave it to you to figure out what to do with the other half a glass)
Spelt tagliatelle pasta (or penne, or whatever)
Now ze doing:
Cook the pasta as per instructions on packet
Meanwhile; dump about 3/4 cup of the pesto into a small saucepan, together with the wine. Simmer (covered) over a low heat until the wine is reduced, stirring regularly to ensure it doesn’t stick.
Stir the pesto/wine sauce through the cooked pasta, together with an additional teaspoon of fresh pesto (the pesto has raw garlic in it – so you’re cooking most of it and then just adding a little “raw” pesto in to sharpen up the taste a little)
Serve the pasta, then top with the (warm) bean salad
It can’t be summer….not where The VegHead is anyway. The give away is the fact that its very white outside, and more white stuff is falling from the sky. So it must be either snowing, or a CIA aeroplane carrying a cocaine shipment has exploded in mid-air overhead. As Kate Moss is absent from the scene…it’s probably snow.
If it was summer then perhaps this salad would perhaps be being served to guests as we sipped Pimms into the long English evenings. It is very nice either warm, or “room temperature” (have you ever wondered “Which room?”).
Anyway…this ended up being the basis for a pasta dish for dinner last Thursday. I was going to write up the recipe for that, until as she was eating dinner SheWhoMustBeFed exclaimed “Hey…isn’t this the butter bean salad thing with balsamic vinegar?”. Clever thing she is…
So instead of writing up that dish in full, it seemed more sensible to write up this dish, and then in the recipe for the pasta dish just refer back to this. Are you following?
1 cup of cooked butter beans
1 small red onion
1 cup of small fresh button mushrooms
thick, gorgeous, sweet balsamic vinegar
pinch of ground black pepper
Do it to me baby:
Peel the onion and top and tail it. Halve it “across”. Then quarter each of those halves. Then peel apart the layers, making little “cups” of onion.
Very lightly saute the onion in a little olive oil
Add the mushrooms, beans, pepper and tamari. Continue over a low heat for a few minutes.