Tag Archives: cheese

Totally un-posh vegetarian breakfast

11 Aug

As a vegetarian and wannabe vegan, it’s very important to me that the majority of my meals are healthy, well-balanced, and mostly plant-based. I don’t like to eat junk food too often (and I do count fake meat as junk food) but when I do, I like to go all out and do it in style.

It has been a very long time since I last went to McDonalds, but I remember that the only thing on the menu that I genuinely liked was the egg mcmuffin. It’s so easy to recreate at home, all you need is:

  • an English muffin
  • a cheese single (the nasty plastic-wrapped stuff, real cheese is too good and will not work)
  • a fried egg, preferably cooked in a non-stick cooking ring
  • either a couple of slices of vegetarian bacon, or some packet sausage mix made up into a little patty

Yes, there are much classier breakfast things you can make with a muffin and an egg (or some tofu), but sometimes only junk will do.


My quest for vegan parmesan

30 Jul

When I first started cutting back on cheese, I bought a dairy-free parmesan substitute from the supermarket. It was a pale yellow powder that sort of had the smell of parmesan but none of the flavour. When sprinkled onto pasta, it would instantly dissolve into the pasta sauce without adding anything to the taste. It was a major disappointment. Could I really manage without dairy if that meant I couldn’t have a little bit of something cheesy on my pasta?

Not long after, I discovered nutritional yeast flakes, AKA nooch. Nooch gives a much more satisfying cheesy flavour, doesn’t disappear into the sauce (unless you want it to), and can be used to flavour other things, such as vegan cheese sauce or scrambled tofu. For a long time it was the best vegan parmesan substitute I could find.

That is until I made an accidental discovery late one night, when home alone. I’d made some tasty vegetable pasta, and couldn’t decide whether to sprinkle it with nooch or gomasio[1], so I went for a 50:50 mix of both and bingo! A satisfying parmesan-like topping for pasta.

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The gomasio adds a slightly salty nuttiness to the nooch, converting it from mild cheesiness to a fairly convincing substitute. What’s more, it adds a tiny bit of extra protein, vitamins, and minerals to your meal. I feel like my mission is complete, I’m over the moon! [Insert your own cheese pun here.]

[1] Gomasio is a mix of ground sesame seeds with salt. It’s really easy to make your own if you have a blender or spice grinder, but you can buy it in a jar too.

Spanokopitta sausage rolls

9 Jul

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At the weekend, my mum asked me to bake some vegetarian sausage rolls for a family picnic. Normally I’d wrap some veggie sausages in puff pastry and get on with my day but on this occasion I was the only vegetarian there, and I wanted to make something the omnivores would enjoy as much as I would. I decided to make something based on my favourite Greek dish, spanokopitta (basically an AMAZING spinach and feta filo pie).

So here’s what I came up with. They went down really well, even with the meat-eaters. The children didn’t really like them (my two-year-old niece ate half of one and politely shoved the rest in my mouth); perhaps a milder, less freaky cheese would make them more child-friendly.

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Recipe (makes 24 mini rolls)

  • 500g puff pastry
  • 300g frozen spinach, defrosted, preferably the whole-leaf stuff
  • 200g feta cheese
  • 30g pine nuts, toasted
  • Two eggs (one for the filling and the other to use as eggwash)
  • One clove of garlic, mashed to a pulp, or a handful of finely chopped garlic scapes
  • A good grinding of black pepper and nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

Roll the pastry out into two long rectangles, roughly 20cm x 40cm each, about 0.25cm thick.

Mash the drained feta with one of the eggs, then add the garlic, pepper, nutmeg, and pine nuts.

Drain the spinach in a sieve, and press as much of the water out of it as you can. Stir it into the feta mixture. It should be fairly dry, otherwise the pastry will end up soggy and the filling will spill out of the edges.

Spread half the filling down the middle of one of the sheets of pastry. Brush some beaten egg along one of the edges. Roll the sheet of pastry into one long sausage, ending on the side that you brushed with egg. Cut into 12 mini sausage rolls and place them onto a greased baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the filling and the second sheet of pastry. Brush all of the sausage rolls with beaten egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes until puffed up and golden. Enjoy hot or cold.

Cheese and caramelised onion quiche

21 Jun

A couple of days ago I updated my About page to mention that most things I cook are simple, seasonal, mostly healthy, and mostly vegan. I’ve somehow managed to contradict myself already with this recipe. It’s not simple (it’s not that complicated but I wouldn’t do something like this after a long day at work), it’s not healthy and it’s definitely not vegan. You can get onions all year round, so you couldn’t really call it seasonal, although technically it’s not unseasonal either. Don’t let any of these things put you off though, unless you’re vegan, obviously. Quiche is a great retro treat, which is well worth the effort and the extra calories.

I get a weekly organic vegetable delivery, which includes 500g of onions a week (just over a pound). I love onions and use them quite a lot, but this is slightly more than I regularly use, so every few weeks or so I get the delivery and realise I’ve not even started eating the onions from the previous week. Luckily I’ve got a few onion-heavy recipes on hand to use up these occasional gluts. This is the least healthy onion recipe I have (recipe below).

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Recipe (serves 4)

For the pastry:

  • 50g margarine (check it is suitable for pastry)
  • 100g flour (white or wholemeal, I use a mix of both)
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 500g onions, peeled and sliced
  • 100g mature cheddar, grated
  • Either two eggs plus 100ml cream or three eggs (the cream gives it an extra wobble, if you prefer a firmer set or a lower fat content then just use eggs)

First, slowly cook the onions. Put them in a small saucepan with a splash of oil, cover, and put on a very low heat, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until golden brown and reduced to about a quarter of their original volume. This will take a long time, at least an hour. Once cooked, allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, for the pastry, rub the margarine into the flour and salt. Add some cold water a splash at a time until it comes together in a ball. Put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.

Lightly grease a 20cm / 8 inch quiche dish. Roll out the pastry and use it to line the dish. Trim the edges but not too much, be aware that the pastry will shrink a little bit when you cook it. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, then blind bake it for 10 minutes at 200˚C. You want the pastry to be slightly browned and crisped up.

While the pastry is blind baking, mix the cooked onions, cheese, eggs, cream (if using), and some salt and pepper. Pour these into the pastry case, and return it to the oven. Bake it for a further 20-30 minutes (depending on how well set you like it).

Allow the quiche to cool for 10 minutes, this helps it slice a bit better. Serve hot or cold.

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