Tag Archives: thyme

Swede and carrot soda bread (vegan)

13 Oct

Soda bread is much faster and easier to make than regular bread. Bicarbonate of soda reacts with acid to quickly produce carbon dioxide, which gets trapped in the dough and makes it rise quickly. Usually, the acid would come in the form of some sort of soured dairy, such as buttermilk, yoghurt, or whey. For vegans, non-dairy milk curdled with cider vinegar work equally well.

Adding root vegetables to soda bread adds moisture and flavour. I decided to try this when I got yet another swede in my weekly vegetable delivery. I like swede but I’m seriously lacking interesting recipes for it. It can go in soup, curry, mash, and ummm…. that’s about it. One of my colleagues keeps raving about carrot and swede mash which is undoubtedly now my favourite thing to do with it, so I decided to expand on that combo and try it in bread. It was worth the gamble. It’s glorious, and particularly good dunked in some spicy soup.

Recipe (makes one loaf)

  • 300ml your preferred non-dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 100g each swede and carrot, grated
  • 200g plain flour
  • 200g wholemeal flour
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease a large baking sheet.

Mix the milk and vinegar together in a mug, and leave to curdle while you get the rest of the ingredients together.

Put all of the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. Add the curdled milk and mix until it just comes together into a ball. Don’t over-mix it or knead it, you’ll knock out all of the gas that makes it rise.

Turn the dough out onto the baking sheet, and slash a cross in the top with a wet knife (this helps it rise evenly). Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, until the loaf has approximately doubled in size and is golden brown all over, including underneath. Enjoy hot or cold.

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Come back nut roast, all is forgiven!

2 Oct

Nut roast. It’s one of those dishes that vegetarians and vegans dread. Usually the domain of unimaginative chefs (see my stuffed pepper post for the full rant) or boring old hippies that only eat bland, brown food and probably crochet their own underwear (let’s face it, we all know at least one). I’ve decided to reclaim nut roast for the mainstream. Nuts are tasty and nutritionally dense, it’s a travesty to waste them on something boring. Here they are in a delicious, colourful roast. Rich chestnuts are paired with crunchy walnuts and seeds, and jazzed up with herbs and a hint of spice. As well as forming the centrepiece of a traditional Sunday roast, alongside a mound of roast potatoes and a gallon of gravy, it can be used to stuff vegetables (I think squash would be amazing), or cold as a sandwich filling.

Before...

Before…

... and after

… and after

Recipe (serves 6-8)

  • 1 tablespoon oil, plus extra for oiling the tin
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped (a food processor will do a fine job of this, seeing as you’ll be using it anyway)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed then chopped
  • 200g cooked chestnuts
  • 50g walnuts
  • 100g fresh breadcrumbs or ground crackers
  • 50g mixed seeds
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • a big handful of fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used parsley and thyme on this occasion)
  • half a teaspoon of hot chilli powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly oil a small loaf tin.

Fry the onion in the oil over a medium heat for about five minutes, until softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic and carrots, and cook for a further five minutes or so.

Put the chestnuts in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Tip into a large bowl, then repeat with the walnuts. It’s easier to control the consistency if you blend the two different kinds of nuts separately.

Add the fried vegetables and the rest of the ingredients to the nuts in the bowl. Mix well, and check the seasoning. Press this mixture into the loaf tin. Bake for around 30 minutes until nicely browned. Enjoy hot or cold.

Chilli and corn stuffed peppers

29 Aug

There are many things a vegetarian might see on a restaurant menu that will make their heart sink. Dishes that can be satisfying and delicious, but when made by a begrudging meat-eating chef in a busy kitchen will invariably be a stodgy, tasteless disappointment. Common failures include risotto, vegetable lasagne, and mushroom stroganoff.

I was reminded of this recently when watching an episode of Celebrity Masterchef. The contestants were asked to produce food for a college canteen. One of the vegetarian options they made was stuffed peppers, which consisted of peppers stuffed with plain cous cous and vegetables. Nothing else. I love vegetables more than anything, but if I was presented with that for my lunch I would feel really let down. It shows real lack of imagination. Most vegetarians I know have as healthy an appetite as anyone else and they like their food to taste of something. We’re not ill, we’re not on a diet, and most of all we love good food!

So in response to the Masterchef non-recipe, here are my own stuffed peppers, using the classic combination of chillies and corn. It’s tasty, it’s filling, and most of all it’s not disappointing. You could add a bit of grated cheese if that floats your boat, but I choose not to.

Recipe (makes four half peppers)

  • 2 bell peppers
  • 75g polenta
  • 1 hot chilli
  • a sprig of thyme
  • 150g sweetcorn
  • half a teaspoon of salt

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Cut the peppers in half, and remove the seeds. Try and keep the stalk attached, it helps the pepper halves keep their shape and stops the filling from spilling all over the place. Put the peppers in a roasting tin.

Bring 350ml water to boil in a non-stick saucepan. Slowly pour the polenta into the boiling water, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and keep stirring for two minutes. When the polenta is thick and fairly smooth (kinda like mashed potato), add the finely chopped chilli, thyme, sweetcorn, and salt. Stir well.

Divide the filling between the peppers. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pepper is cooked and the stuffing is starting to brown.

Note: if there is any filling left over, let it set, cut it into cubes and fry it up. Or just eat it.

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