Rich Mushroom Soup


My husband is a proud Yorkshire man and was brought up on a diet of all things Yorkshire, all of which he was delighted to introduce me to when we started dating. One of the foodstuffs he most loves is Hendersons Relish. I’d never heard of this before I met him, so there’s a good chance you may not have either. It’s like Worcester Sauce (don’t hate me, Yorkshire people), in that has an intense, savoury richness which adds an incredible umami flavour to any dish. Yorkshire people particularly like their pies slathered with it – and with good reason.

When we decided to try out the plant based diet, deep, savoury flavours were the ones I thought I’d miss the most. However, on making a mushroom soup, I have discovered that this does not necessarily need to be the case. I found, quite by chance, that Hendersons Relish (unlike Worcester Sauce) is vegan friendly. Woo!

This earthy soup is a wonderful warmer for lunch, as a starter, or with a fat hunk of sour dough, a satisfying dinner. Enjoy!

Rich Mushroom Soup

Serves 4 – takes 30 minutes 

3tbsp olive oil

1 onion

4 cloves garlic

600g mushrooms 

1 vegan stock cube

600ml water

3 tbsp Hendersons Relish

2 slices whole grain bread

Handful chopped chives

1. Roughly chop the onion and add to a large casserole dish with two tablespoons of the olive oil. Sauté gently for 5 minutes.

2. Finely chop the garlic and add to the pan, then roughly slice the mushrooms and add these too. Cook (without stirring) for 3-4 minutes, then add the stock cube, water and seasoning and cover. Simmer for ten minutes.

3. Meanwhile, put your oven on to the highest temperature. Cut the bread up into rough squares and toss with the remaining oil and some salt. Put in the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes until golden and crisp.

4. Whizz your soup with a blender or food processor. If it’s too thin, add some more water to your liking, then add the Hendersons Relish. Check your seasoning and add more if necessary.

5. To serve, top each bowl with a handful of croutons and chopped chives. Yum!

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Black Forest Fruits and Beetroot Smoothie


Mornings can be rushed. Particularly weekday mornings. And when you’re trying to eat more healthily, it’s hard to avoid falling into the trap of grabbing something quick and instantly gratifying for breakfast (like a cereal bar). 

If you’ve got two minutes and a smoothie maker though, you have a healthy and nutritious breakfast at your fingertips.

When I first got my smoothie maker, I was a bit put off by the fruit and veg prep – if I’ve got to peel, slice, and de stone then it’s not exactly quick and easy. For this recipe, though, the extent of the prep is pouring – so easy and so delicious!


Black Forest Fruits and Beetroot Smoothie

Serve one

Ingredients 

1 handful frozen Black Forest Fruits

1 handful oats

250ml beetroot juice

1. Put all of the ingredients in the smoothie maker. Top up with water.

2. Whizz. Add more water if it’s too thick. 

You’re done! Simple, quick and so healthy.

Lentil Chilli with Roasted Sweet Potato


I have had a hiatus. It was supposed to be a two week hiatus – a little break to free up my crammed evenings. It turned into almost two and a half years! I have still been cooking; new recipes, old recipes. Some I’ve been keen to share, but I just didn’t have the momentum.

Then, things changed. Two things fell into place: a holiday, and a new outlook on food.

The holiday has left me with spare time I didn’t have before, and the new outlook came from watching a documentary called What The Health. A brief scour of the net tells us that, as with anything, the facts may not be entirely as presented in this documentary. However, it left me thinking that a plant based diet may be a good thing to try for a while, to see if there are any individual benefits for us.

I struggled though – where are the exciting, inventive vegan recipes? I’m not talking about making a chocolate cake from avocado, I’m talking about something quick, tasty and nourishing to fill you up on a week night. So, I decided to come back to log, mainly for myself, my plant based recipes. I’m hoping to aim for two a week – if I fall off the blogging wagon again, feel free to throw me back on it!

A couple of caveats – I’m aiming for plant based, not vegan, so there may be bits and pieces you’re not happy with if you’re vegan (check the ingredients list). Secondly, I’m not envisaging this to be an all consuming diet and I’m sure I’ll move away from it sometimes. We’ll see how it goes- this is the very beginning!

I have called this recipe a chilli for want of a better word although it has no spice (you could add some though); it is smoky and satisfying and very very easy!


Lentil Chilli with Roasted Sweet Potatoes 

Serves 4

Ingredients 

4 large sweet potatoes

3tbsp olive oil 

1 onion

400g chestnut mushrooms

400ml passata

2 x 250g packets of ready to eat lentils

2tsp smoked paprika

1tep dried oregano

2tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Method

1. Put the sweet potatoes in a bag and pour over 2 tbsp of the oil. Add a generous pinch of salt and rub them well to make sure they’re coated. Tip onto a baking tray and slice a cross into the top of each one with a sharp knife. Put in the oven at 180 degrees for an hour (or longer – the longer the better in my opinion). They’re done when a knife cuts through them easily.

2. For the chilli, finely chop the onion. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and add the onion, stirring, for two minutes. 

3. Chop the mushrooms into chunks and add to the pan. Leave to cook until they are starting to turn golden.

4. Add the passata, lentils, smoked paprika and oregano. Cook gently for 5-10 minutes, then taste and season with salt and pepper.

5. Just before you are about to eat, add the chopped parsley to the chilli. Slice the sweet potatoes and dollop the chilli on top. We also had a spoonful of vio life vegan cream cheese on top for a little creaminess, but this is optional.

Enjoy!

Anglesey Eggs


Anglesey Eggs (2)

With it being St David’s Day yesterday, I thought it only right to share a Welsh recipe today. This particular recipe is one my Nain (Nain is Welsh for grandmother for those who don’t know) used to make often.

My Nain, who lived on Anglesey, was a fantastic cook; we used to love visiting for the delicate scones, fruity bara brith and melt in the mouth Welsh cakes.

This recipe was a speciality and we used to eat it with crispy skinned baked potatoes. I didn’t have time for baked potatoes today, so we had it with crusty bread rolls instead to mop up the cheesy sauce.

Anyway, my Nain gave this recipe to my mum, who also used to make it often throughout our childhood. When I was desparate for a comforting, nostalgic meal one day I asked her for the recipe – and now I’m sharing it with you. It is tasty, cheap and easy, and I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has.

I just googled ‘Anglesey Eggs’ to see if it is a well-known dish, and it seems others do know of it. The recipes I found had potato in them though – that’s not how our family make it!

This will serve 3-4 and takes around 40 minutes to make.

Anglesey Eggs (1)

Anglesey Eggs

3 medium leeks

6 eggs

30g butter

20g plain flour

1 pint milk

80g cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1. Preheat the grill to high.

2. Slice the leeks and add them to a frying pan with 10g of the butter. Saute over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes until soft.

3. Meanwhile, hard boil your eggs in boiling water for 6 minutes. Once they’re done, run them under the cold tap for a couple of minutes, then gently peel them.

4. For the sauce, melt the remaining butter in a saucepan then stir in the flour. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Gradually whisk in the milk, then put it back on the heat and cook, whisking all the time, until thick. Stir in most of the grated cheese, and some salt and pepper.

5. Transfer the leeks to an oven proof dish. Lay the eggs on top (keep them whole), then pour over the cheese sauce. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and the smoked paprika, then put under the grill for 5 minutes or so until golden and boiling. Iechyd Da!

Anglesey Eggs (3)

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie


Spinach and Feta Filo Pie (2)

I’ve loved spinach and feta filo pie (or Spanakopita as the Greek call it) ever since I first tried it. There’s something about the heady mixture of salty feta, fragrant nutmeg and crispy, light filo pastry which really appeals to me. It has all of the elements of a comforting pie, but feels light and guilt free (although, of course, there’s far too much butter and cheese involved for it to be really guilt free).

My love for this pie was hightened on our honeymoon in Kos, where I ate it for almost every meal (yes, that’s right, our hotel served it for breakfast! Yes, it was heaven), and cooking this meal now, in the depths of nasty, cold winter, takes me back to that beautiful, golden island under the beautiful, golden sun. Sigh!

Although we’re eating this as a main by itself, it would work perfectly well as part of a Greek mezze, perhaps as a side to these amazing Greek Chicken Tacos and Za’atar and Olive Focaccia on the side, with a wonderfully simple Greek yoghurt pud.

This will take you up to an hour to make, and will serve 4 as a main, 6 as a side.

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie (1)

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

200g spinach

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

400g feta

1 egg

6 sheets filo pastry

10g butter, melted

1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

2. Roughly chop your onion and add to a frying pan with the olive oil. Saute over a high heat for 1-2 minutes, then gradually add the spinach until it is all wilted. Stir in the nutmeg, and season with black pepper. Allow to cool.

3. Roughly chop the feta and put in a large bowl. Add the spinach mix and crack in the egg, then stir to combine well.

4. Take a large oven proof dish and brush with a little of the melted butter. Lay one of the sheets of filo pastry over the dish and brush with more butter. Repeat until the dish is completely covered with filo, and you have used 4 sheets.

5. Pile in the feta mix. Spread out evenly, then top with the remaining two sheets of filo pastry. Brush with more butter, then fold the overhanging pieces of filo pastry from the bottom layers over the top, so that it is wrapped like a parcel. Brush with more butter, then bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!

Tomato Salsa Tostados


Tomato Salsa Tostados (1)

Mexican food is fantastic – I’m sure everyone agrees with that, and who wouldn’t want an evening meal which tastes like nachos but is much better for you? These tostados are bright, tasty and you can easily omit or limit the amount of cheese and soured cream to make them seriously healthy. I’m too much of a dairy fan to do this though.

If you haven’t made tostados before, do it! They’re like little pizzas on a tortilla, and you can use any toppings you like. I love these ones because they embrace Mexican flavours – but you don’t need to do that at all – you could easily make Greek ones with black olives and feta, or you could use any of your favourite pizza toppings.

These ones are surprsingly filling because of the avocado, and so I don’t think you need any meat. If you really wanted to add some, you could top with some cooked chicken breast.

These tostados will be ready in 20 minutes, and will serve 2.

Tomato Salsa Tostados (2)

Tomato Salsa Tostados

2 tortilla wraps

2 tbsps olive oil

1 onion

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin borlotti beans

1 handful coriander

1 yellow pepper

2 tsps smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

20g grated cheddar

20g soured cream

1 avocado

1 spring onion

1 red chilli

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Place the tortilla wraps flat on a baking tray (use 2 if you need to), drizzle with half of the olive oil and bake in the oven for approximately 5 minutes until starting to crisp. Remove from the oven.

2. Pour the rest of the olive oil into a saucepan. Chop the onion and add to the saucepan. Cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes, then add the chopped coriander stalks (reserve the leaves for later).

3. Add the chopped tomatoes, borlotti beans, sliced yellow pepper, smoked paprika and cinnamon. Simmer for 10 minutes, until thick.

4. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the tortillas, as you would a pizza sauce onto a pizza base. Top each one with grated cheese, then put back in the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are golden.

5. Top each tostado with a dollop of soured cream, sliced avocado, a handful of coriander leaves and some sliced spring onion and chilli. Enjoy!

Vegetable Pad Thai


Sometimes, after the first day back at work, I need something to wake me up and kick me into shape. It can’t take long to cook – because all of those chores I was ‘going to do at the weekend’ need doing, and it needs to pack a punch with flavours.

I decided to go vegetarian for this because, with this dish, meat would be surplus to requirements. It’s all about the noodles and beansprouts. However, you could throw in a bit of chicken or a handful of prawns.

This recipe uses lots of beansprouts, and it means you can use less noodles. I’d recommend this for anyone looking to cut down on carbs – you could even make the dish with just bean sprouts and no noodles at all.

This will serve 2-3 and takes about 20 minutes to make.

Vegetarian Pad Thai

Vegetable Pad Thai

1 tbsp sesame oil

100g shallots

3 large cloves garlic

1 red chilli

4 spring onions

300g ribbon noodles (either straight to wok ones, or cooked and drained)

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp lime juice

3 tbsps light soy sauce

2 tbsps vegetarian oyster sauce

Handful coriander

Roasted peanuts, to serve

1. Finely chop the shallots, garlic and chilli. Halve the spring onions lengthways and then chop into 2 cm pieces.

2. Pour the oil into a wok or large frying pan and put on a high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, chilli and spring onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the noodles, soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar and oyster sauce. Cook for anther 2 minutes.

3. Add the beansprouts and stir fry for 5 minutes. Chop the coriander and add this. Take off the heat.

4. To serve, sprinkle roasted peanuts over each bowlful. Tuck in!