Making a “mezze” of things…..

I recently had a culinary epiphany – BLACK TAHINI.

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Just make up your hummus as normal, using regular tahini, and then mix through a swirl of this stuff….

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It’s all natural, made from black sesame seeds. I topped mine off with some nice olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and a sprinkling of black sesame seeds.

It tastes fantastic, and looks (in my opinion) incredible.

I liked it so much that I had to make it the centrepiece of a mezze….

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On the plates we have harissa griddled aubergine, zaatar griddled courgette (from the garden). salad and sprouts (in a light vinaigrette) . Left to right – patatas bravas, stuffed vineleaves/dolmades (cheated – they’re from a tin!), garlic and pimenton sausage and beans, and of course the hummus.

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I roasted cubed potatoes in a mix of sweet pimenton, cayenne pepper, black pepper and coconut sugar, and then baked them in a tomato, garlic and chilli sauce….

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I opened a tin of dolmades. The hard bit was not eating them all as I cooked….

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A pack of WHEATY MERGUEZ sausages, a pack of frozen edamame beans, fried up in olive oil with lots of smoked paprika and garlic – my take on the classic chorizo and fava dish.

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The aubergine was marinaded in HARRY BRAND HARISSA, lemon juice and olive oil. Then griddled, and then baked until it was “melt-in-the-mouth”. The courgette was marinaded in lemon juice, olive oil, and ZAYTOUN PALESTINIAN ZA’ATAR, then griddled, and baked the same as the aubergine.

I’m pretty sure this meal had more garlic per head than anything I’ve prepared before (at least 5 or 6 bulbs went into this meal), so i’m pretty sure we’re safe from vampires for the mean time.

 

 

Indian-style kebab….ish

As I’m sure you’re aware, I’m a HUGE fan of PRASHAD, and their’s are some of the few cookery books I actually own.

 

There’s a fantastic recipe for Methi Bhaji Bataka (basically fenugreek potatoes) in their PRASHAD AT HOME book, which I’ve been meaning to turn into a wrap for ages…. so here it is….

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Yeah, I got a bit carried away with the fillings…

 

So let’s start at the bottom…

Simple flatbreads – seeded wholemeal flour, sunflower oil, salt and water – mixed, kneaded, rolled out and cooked fast and hot.

Salad – y’know, leaves and stuff?

Curried spinach – turmeric, asafoetida, black pepper, black mustard, cardomom, fresh chillies, fresh ginger, fresh garlic – fry them all up, wilt down the spinach. Green, spicy, delicious.

Methi Bhaji Bataka – the recipe’s in the book – it’s only £25, thank me later.

 

Achari Tofu – Firm Tofu, strained and marinaded in lemon juice, dried mint, salt and soy sauce. Coated with Achari Spice Blend (available from most Continental superstores – it’s basically chilli, black salt, mango powder, asafoetida and a few other bits and bobs), baked until slightly crispy. YUM.

Coriander Chutney – fresh coriander, fresh chillies, fresh garlic, lemon juice, salt. Blitz, then stir through your vegan yoghurt of choice. This time it was almond milk yoghurt. I hadn’t tried this one before – usually I go for COYO’S fantastic coconut based yoghurt.

Topped off with a garnish of fresh coriander and red chillies.

I don’t often like to “blow my own trumpet”… but this was a bit special.

17 hours later and I’m still stuffed!

 

 

I’m aware I’m a walking cliche…..

Blimey, it’s been a while hasn’t it?

 

Life got in the way a little – in a good way. I’ve been busily working away at a large vegetarian/wholefoods wholesaler (and loving it – FREE VEGAN LUNCHES!!!), going on lovely trips away and generally having a lovely time.

 

Something told me I had to tell you about my lunch today though… and as the title says, yes, I know it’s so cliched that it’s hilarious.

 

RAW SPROUTED MUNG BEAN HUMMUS.

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Yep. 100% raw, sprouted pulses (mung beans at that). Served with Palestinian olive oil and za’atar couresy of the amazing people at ZAYTOUN.

 

Sprinkled a little LA CHINATA PIMENTON on the top as well for extra tastiness.

 

The hummus itself was nice and easy to make (as it should be!).. A pack of sprouted mung beans, three cloves of raw garlic, the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon, a generous spoonful of raw almond butter, a glug of cold pressed olive oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper… bung it all in the blender and blitz.

Eaten with a chunk of Mrs Veganfoodisshit’s sourdough bread.

YUM!

On algae, and it’s merits.

Once again, it’s been a while since my last blog post – I haven’t had much time/inclination for writing. There has been ALOT of delicious food that I haven’t shared with you too.

For the past five or so months I’ve been working at Suma (Vegetarian and vegan/ethical/eco friendly wholesaler, workers cooperative and all round awesome place to work). Long working hours, and tiring work – but I love it. Free vegan meals in the works canteen every day (we even had PRASHAD come in to cook our Christmas dinner recently!) and of course the legendary FREE PALLET! (damaged stock, close to sell by date etc – delicious food for free).

My wife started working there recently too, and it’s fantastic to have our working weeks back in sync.

We recently joined a vegan group at Suma, and as a welcome gift we were given this:

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It’s made from algae….

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I’m a big fan of a scramble. I used to love scrambled eggs, and I LOVE scrambled tofu. So scrambled VeganEgg it was!

(Disclaimer time – though I work for Suma, and the breakfast i’m about to discuss is all Suma products, this is in no way a “Suma Review” and the ideas and opinions contained herein are all mine and in no way endorsed by Suma).

Firstly the “egg” – the instructions say to use two level tablespoons and 115ml ice cold water for each “egg”… I think they might be referring to ostrich eggs because I made what I was expecting to be 5 eggs worth to share with Mrs Veganfoodisshit, and we wound up with a mountain!

It fries up really well – i’m guessing it’d be excellent for omelettes and quiches too, although most of it’s eggy smell and taste seemed to leave quite quickly. The colour was also a little pasty.

After adding some turmeric, pepper and black salt it was looking (and tasting) great.

Along with some of Suma’s own brand “vegan sausages and beans” (the sausages, if i’m honest weren’t anything to write home about, but the beans were delicious!), and some toasted white bread (home baked by Mrs Veganfoodisshit using free pallet flour). We had a feast of a breakfast.

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It’s been a while – here’s something I made earlier……

You know that thing where life gets in the way, and you haven’t updated your blog in ages…….

Things have been rather busy of late here – new job happened, trips away happened, amazing vegan food happening.

We had a couple of friends round for dinner last night. They wanted tapas. I was always a huge fan of chorizo, so decided to try my hand at making some.

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Not bad for a first attempt!

I’ve been experimenting with vital wheat gluten alot recently, making my own seitan. So I knew it’d be a good base to start with. I mixed through some crushed cannelini beans, ALL the garlic, a metric tonne (or two) of smoked paprika, cayenne, black pepper and chipotle flakes. Added a dash of tomato puree, salt and a touch of sugar. Poured in enough veg stock to make a dough, then kneaded for about five minutes. I’m always amazed at how quickly seitan comes together when you knead it, and it starts to get that “meaty” texture straight away.

Next up I rolled it into “sausages”, wrapped in foil, and steamed for around 40 minutes. Let them cool, remove the foil, and then let them sit overnight.

I fried them up with some canellini beans.

Verdict – they were pretty good for a first draft. They definitely need more umami in there – I’m thinking just a drop of miso to enrich the flavour, and some oil actually mixed in – maybe toasted sesame. When I fried the chorizo it didn’t release the smokey red oils you normally get with good Spanish chorizo.

 

 

Salad and sausages….

What could be better?

Apologies that it’s been a while since my last blog post. Real life gets in the way, and lack of motivation too if I’m honest. There has been lots of GREAT food trust me – I just didn’t get around to photographing it, or writing about it.

Tonight, I had a huge pile of salad leaves to use up (I can’t walk past those little yellow “reduced” stickers in Sainsbury’s!), but also had a real hankering for sausages (VBites “Vegi Deli” Lincolnshire Sausages to be precise – they’re DELICIOUS!).

So the challenge was set – how to make salad and sausages work…..

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Once I got some onions, chilies, smoked paprika and garlic sizzling away, it kind of made itself. Added the sausages and a tin of chick peas, served with ripe avocado quarters, fresh sweet tomatoes, and mixed salad leaves. Sated my hunger for sausage, and maintained a healthy facade all at the same time.

Pie and Mash.

Due to Mrs Veganfoodisshit’s job as a baker, she works some pretty antisocial hours. Sometimes, this means that she has to go to bed very early. This leaves me pondering on meals for one.

When that happens, it’s usually PIE O’CLOCK!

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Creamy mashed potatoes, made with olive oil, oat milk and wholegrain mustard, steamed cabbage, and of course…. the pie.

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If your pie isn’t completely encased in pastry, it’s just a casserole with a lid. This, is a pie. A simple short crust pastry of plain flour, olive oil, salt and water, wrapped around a filling of chestnut mushrooms, red onions and seitan (tinned “mock abalone” this time) in a rich gravy with lots of sage and black pepper.

It was huge, and washed down with beer. And scoffed in front of an episode or two of Daredevil.

 

 

Early harvests.

I love this time of year – it’s when the foraging begins!

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…I say foraging, but we actually cultivate both wild garlic and nettles in our back garden!

Wild garlic has such a short season you have to make the most of it while it’s still here – so we’re having wild garlic in EVERYTHING just now. Nettles – they’re best when they’re still young and tender.

So these got picked, washed and sauteed with some sliced fennel bulbs. I baked some asparagus in olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper. Made some almond and cashew riccotta (blitzed them up with some olive oil, lemon juice and salt – delicious!), stuffed some large mushrooms with them, topped off with some basil pesto, and served with some seeded malthouse sourdough.

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It was a bit tasty.

A pilgrimage of sorts….

It’s been a while – sometimes real life gets in the way of blogging… but the good news is that PLENTY of great food has been eaten over the past weeks, including quite alot of eating out.

I don’t tend to go out to restaurants very often these days – over priced, uninspiring vegan options don’t tend to lend to much excitement. However……..

I’ve been meaning to visit PRASHAD for a very long time, and it was worth the wait.

If you’ve not heard of Prashad – they’re a vegetarian Indian restaurant, winner of lots of prizes, and writers of fantastic cook books.

So four of us (one vegan, two veggies and a meat loving omni) piled into the car and headed to sunny Drighlington. In our excitement we were a *little* early, but the friendly staff got us to a table in no time at all.

We had already decided on the vegan set menu, our friends went for the vegetarian one. I had been warned that there was ALOT of food… I didn’t see this as a bad thing!

First up was an “amuse bouche”. Mrs Veganfoodisshit finds the idea of amuse bouches a bit daft, but i’m not one to complain about an extra course, however small.

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A delicious little ball of tastiness on a bed of coriander chutney. The pakora was lightly spiced, the coriander bright and fresh. My bouche was well and truly amused.

A curry night isn’t a curry night without poppadoms and chutney – and this was THE best lime chutney I’ve ever tasted! The poppadoms were amazing too – lightly flavoured with asafoeteda.

Next up was Prashad’s famous chaat and bhajis. I’ve always been quite dubious about chaat – on paper it’s a bit of a mishmash – fried pasta, pastry, potato, chickpeas etc smothered in sauces. In reality it was so good I almost forgot to take a picture!

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The Bhaji were incredible, and came with even more of that stunning coriander chutney.

..and then the main course…

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I’m a big fan of thali – It saves deciding on one thing – just have it all!! And the masala dosa was so tasty I could have cried.

So in short – Prashad was every bit as good as I’d expected…maybe even better.

Harissa Happiness

I had a hankering for spice today, and we just happened to have bought a bulk order of Al Fez Harissa (both red and green) from Suma recently – so I went with something with a bit of a North African twist.

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Aubergine is one of the most amazing things in the world. And when it’s first griddled, and then baked until meltingly soft, and smothered in green harissa it becomes almost supernatural in it’s perfection.

I’m also, as you may already know, a HUGE fan of okra. Here’s a tip for you – if you don’t want your okra going slimy, or breaking down in your sauce – toss it in lemon juice, salt and oil and roast it until the skin bubbles – chuck it in whatever sauce you’re cooking at the last minute. Alternatively you could always take a leaf out of Bundobust‘s book and make okra fries. (These WILL make an appearance on the blog in the future – I set out to copy them the first time I tasted them.). If you aren’t familiar with Bundobust – it’s a craft beer bar in Leeds that also serves amazing vegetarian Indian street food.

The sauce for the okra is loosely based on one I first tasted in Empires Cafe in Edinburgh. It’s made from charred tomatoes and red peppers, flavoured with ALL the garlic, lemon juice, paprika and a generous amount of red harissa.

The couscous has pumpkin seeds and rocket through it, and is flavoured with black pepper and ajwain seeds. I’ve only recently discovered ajwain seeds, and love their thymey/minty flavour.

Last, but not least, the chickpeas. My wife had really gone off chickpeas (ok, maybe I *might* have added them to just about every meal for a while) – but then I introduced her to ROASTED CRISPY chickpeas. It’s just a tin of chickpeas (don’t forget to keep the amazing AQUAFABA to use as an egg substitute!), tossed in olive oil, smoked salt, smoked paprika and roasted. Then, just before serving, coat them in a teaspoon of red harissa (that might actually be the first specific measurement on this entire food blog!).

Goes rather nicely with a fruity red wine 🙂