Thursday, 31 May 2012

Vegan Scottish Recipes

Why should we all love Scotland? Well, apart from the obvious kilt-based reasons, here is my favourite. Scotland is the only country in the world which doesn't have a Coca-Cola owned beverage as the top selling beverage in the country. Yep - every other country in the world has a beverage owned by the Coca-Cola as the top selling beverage.

This month has been all about Scotland. I have to admit, it has been a challenge. You might have noticed that there have been fewer recipes than usual for a featured country - but this is not for want of trying! I actually cooked 4 other dishes which I didn't end up blogging because they just didn't quite work out, which is unusual. But here is what I did end up with:


Swede and Parsnip Mini Cottage Pies with Mushy Peas
These little mini pies were amazing and very easy to make. They were perfect accompanied by mushy peas - I cannot believe that I had never made mushy peas before this, they were so easy and delicious! Check out the recipe here.

Lemon & Orange Vegetables
Sometimes you just need a quick and easy way to whip up some special side vegies - well, here it is. These carrots and broccoli are made special with a dressing of lemon and orange juice. They were lovely in their simplicity - although I have to admit I was a bit cheeky and added an incredibly un-Scottish ingredient to it! It was worth it - Check out the recipe here.

Roasted Love Apple and Red Wine Soup
Don't worry - a Love Apple isn't some sort of obscure fruit which you'll never find anywhere unless you happen to have a tree in your backyard. Actually Love Apple is a traditional name for a tomato, and this is a beautiful rich roasted tomato soup. With May being the last month of Autumn before Winter kicks in, it was perfect timing for this soup. A perfect hearty and warming soup perfect with some crusty bread. I highly recommend trying this one out! Check out the recipe here.


Cranachan (Whiskey Cream with Oats and Raspberries)
I'm not sure you could really go wrong with this dessert. It's whiskey cream with raspberries and toasted oats sprinkled with slivered almonds - but my vegan version of course! It's delicious and if you leave the nuts off then it's good for almost every allergy there is - it's egg free, dairy free, wheat free, soy free, tree nut free, peanut free and sesame free. But it certainly isn't taste free or decadence free! Check out the recipe here.

Vegan Oat and Currant Scones
Scotland gave me a great opportunity to explore scones. I actually made three types of scones but I only ended up posting these ones, the others just didn't turn out quite right. I think I will have to fiddle with the recipes and maybe post them later. These ones were really delicious though! You could make them in a more traditional scone shape, but I like the rustic loaf style wedges of these scones. Check out the recipe here.

So - What's next?
I'm so incredibly excited to announce that in June I will be featuring recipes inspired by Cambodia! I'm really glad that somebody has requested the first Asian country I've featured (much as I love European foods, it's nice to get off the continent). 

I didn't know this until I started researching, by apparently Cambodian cuisine is very old and is famed for amazing combinations of fresh ingredients and unique flavours. It really sounds like my cup of tea, I love fresh zingy foods laced with chilli, lime and fresh herbs. Want a sneak peak? Here it is:

Monday, 28 May 2012

Orange, Almond and Chocolate Chip Breakfast Muffins

You may know from this blog that I don't have a great relationship with breakfast. Why? Read here for that. These muffins, however, I have no problem having a relationship with. I'm possibly a little bit too into these actually, these muffins probably want me to give them a bit of personal space. They probably want to break up with me for being a little bit too clingy.

The choc chips are optional - it depends on whether or not you mind eating one or two choc chips for breakfast :)

1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 cup almond meal
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Zest of 1 orange (hint: zest orange before you juice it!)
1 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 orange, if 1 orange doesn't give you quite enough just top it up with a bit of water)
1/3 cup apple sauce
2 tbsp canola or rice bran oil
1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds
1/2 cup chocolate chips

To Make:
1. Preheat your oven to about 180 degrees C.
2. Put the flour, almond meal, sugar, bicarb, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix well to combine and remove lumps (a whisk or a fork work well for this).
3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the orange juice. Mix well to combine. Add the apple sauce, canola oil and orange zest and mix well.
4. Just before cooking stir through the chocolate chips and chopped almonds.
5. Either grease a muffin tray well or cheat a bit and use cupcake liners (which I did - it's just easier!!). Fill the tray/liners to the top and then bake for 22-23 mins. 
6. Remove from the oven when they are golden on top and transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

For more great vegan breakfast ideas that are worth getting up for check out:

Friday, 25 May 2012

Mexican Car Bomb Cupcakes

Corona, tequila and lime in a cupcake - what more could you ask for in life?

Does anybody else do To Do Lists? I'm all over them, I think it's my control-freak tendencies. I always get up in the morning and write myself a list that looks something like this:

1. Clean kitchen
2. Clean out Uli's hutch
3. Clean bathroom and ensuite
4. Prune mulberry tree
5. Finish making trousers
6. Make something for Holiday Recipe Club
7. Blog recipe
8. Finish writing application
9. Write journal article
10. Make strawberry dress
11. Cut out Mah Jong dress
12. Vacuum house

Generally it's a ridiculously long list of things which I'll never possibly manage to get done. By the end of the day my list usually looks like this:

1. Clean kitchen
2. Clean out Uli's hutch
3. Clean bathroom and ensuite
4. Prune mulberry tree
5. Finish making trousers
6. Make something for Holiday Recipe Club
7. Blog recipe
8. Finish writing application
9. Write journal article
10. Make strawberry dress
11. Cut out Mah Jong dress
12. Vacuum house

At least I get some things done. However, as you can see the good news is that I managed to cook something to blog :) Today's Holiday Recipe Club ingredients are pork, watermelon and beer. Pork is obviously out, and watermelon is a bit ridiculous at this time of year - being incredibly out of season and not that appealing when it's freezing and windy. So that left beer. Lots of possibilities, but I couldn't really settle on anything.

What I ended up with were these cupcakes inspired by a drink called a Mexican Car Bomb. It's not a cocktail as such, it just means you take your corona and add a shot of tequila to it. I love Corona, it's delicious with lime and it's vegan friendly to boot! Using beer (or other carbonated drinks) in cupcakes makes for such a light and springy cake. These cupcakes are laced with corona and tequila with zingy lime icing on top. They're also perfect accompanied by a corona!


The Cake
1 cup Corona
1/4 cup tequila
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lime zest
1/3 cup apple sauce
1 1/4 cups wholemeal plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

The Icing
1/2 cup vegan margarine (I use Nuttelex)
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp lime zest (or as much as you like, I like to use more to make it extra limey)
1 tsp tequila
pinch of salt
1 cup soft icing mixture
Lime slices to decorate

To Make
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Combine the Corona, tequila, sugar,vanilla, lime zest and apple sauce. Don't over mix it though, as you'll loose some of the carbonation of from the Corona.
3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix to combine.
4. Fill cupcake liners almost to the top and bake for 20 minutes, at which time a knife should come out clean when inserted into the middle.
5. Put on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. While they are cooling you can make the icing.
6. Cream the margarine, lime juice and zest, vanilla and tequila together. Beat in the soft icing mixture until the icing is nice and fluffy. Ice cakes when they are completely cool and decorate with fresh slices of lime.

Makes 10 cupcakes.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Easy Basil Vodka Pasta

Back in March of this year I made my own pineapple and basil vodka. It was pretty unique and delicious, but admittedly it was very, very basil-y. The pineapple taste was somewhat overpowered by the basil, making it a sort of savoury vodka rather than a sweet one. Because of this I tend to refer to it as being simply Basil Vodka, because that is pretty much what it is. Since then I have drunk some on a few occasions, it's very nice with some soda water and a generous squeeze of lemon. However, you have to be in the right mood for a tall glass of basil flavoured soda water, so more than half of the bottle is still sitting in my fridge.

I figured I would have to come up with some new ways to use it, and I decided that since it was pretty savoury I would use it in my savoury cooking. However, if you don't want to make a whole batch of basil vodka (although, once you realise how good it tastes in pasta sauce then you might!) you can make a quick substitute. Just take the 1/4 cup vodka needed for this recipe and put it in a glass jar with a lid. Finely chop some fresh basil leaves (I'd say at least 7-8) and put it in the jar with the vodka. Put the lid on and shake well. Leave for a minimum of 2 hours, overnight would be best. Shake it up whenever you remember. Then just add both the vodka and the basil to the recipe at step 3.

400g pasta, I used fusili
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 mushrooms, washed and chopped
1/4 cup basil vodka
1 tin diced tomatoes, including the juice
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp soy sauce

To Make
1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is transparent and softened.
2. Add  the mushrooms and sauté until they have cooked down and released their lovely mushroom-y juices.
3. Add the vodka, tomatoes, herbs, tomato paste and soy sauce and simmer briefly. All you really want to do it cook the herbs sightly, so only 1-2 minutes.
4. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the pasta for a minute less than it tells you to on the back of the packet (pasta never needs to be cooked for as long as the packet says!).
5. Drain the pasta and stir through the sauce. Add cracked black pepper to taste (but you will not need salt because you have added soy sauce instead!).
6. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Easy Mushy Peas

Mushy peas are a great and easy side dish. They have such a warming and homely feel to them. They take a bit of forward planning, you have to soak the peas over night. But once you have done that you can just put them on to boil and go off and do something else. I recommend using a non stick saucepan so that you don't have to worry about them sticking at all to the bottom of the pan.

In this picture I've served them with my Swede and Parsnip Mini Cottage Pies - and they complimented each other perfectly!

500g Dried whole peas (not split peas)
4 tsp bicarb soda
Salt to taste
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

To Make
1. Soak the peas in plenty of water with the bicarb over night.
2. Drain the peas and rinse well.
3. Place in a medium non stick saucepan and add enough water to just cover the peas.
4. Bring to the boil, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer, covered for 1 to 1 and a half hours, or until mushy. Stir occasionally and adjust the water level if it starts to stick (I didn't need to add any more water to mine).
5. Once cooked, add salt and lemon juice to taste. Don't add the salt until after the peas are cooked, or they will make the peas tough.

Serves 6-8 as a side veggie, keeps well in the fridge.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Thai Red Tea Vegan Jelly with Poached Apples

Tea is a way of life for me. Coffee doesn't even rate for me. Don't even talk to me about coffee. Tea is an essential aspect of all the parts of my day. I drink so many cups of tea a day it's just not funny. So when 84th and 3rd (one of my favourite blogs) announced that the next Sweet Adventures Blog Hop theme was 'What's Your Cup of Tea" I knew that I had to make something even though I have been a bit lax in the blogging this month. To emphasise my point here are five reasons why tea is better than coffee (but seriously, I have nothing against coffee drinkers or coffee, so please don't take offence!):

1. Variety - having several cups of tea doesn't mean you have to have the same thing each time. Tea comes in so many different varieties that you can match it to your mood. English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Chamomile, Peppermint, Green Tea, Matcha, Orange Pekoe, Rooibus. I could go on for a long time - but you know them all. 
2. Decaf tea tastes just as delicious as regular tea - since I've had a long history of insomnia I'm predominantly on decaf tea which is pretty much the same as non-decaf. But decaf coffee just isn't quite the same.
3. Coffee gives you really bad breath. Seriously. If you drink a lot of coffee and you didn't know this then you should go out and buy some mints. 
4. Tea is the first thing guests get offered when they come into your home. It's a symbol of hospitality.
5. Some people (mostly young students) who drink a lot of coffee seem to think that their caffeine addiction is the coolest thing ever. I've had so many days at work or uni in which I've heard people loudly proclaiming that they can't function without their morning cup of coffee - as if it's something to be super proud of. Having an addiction is never cool - just so you know.

When I thought of the tea desserts the immediate obvious choice is cupcakes - super easy to add tea flavours to. I've made lots of Maccha Green Tea Cupcakes and lovely Chai Tea Cupcakes, I've even made Mango Chili Chai Cupcakes. But I wanted to try something completely different and new. Of all the delicious teas that I've got in my cupboard I knew immediately that I wanted to use the gorgeous Thai Red Tea which I bought when travelling in Thailand. It is served ice cold with coconut milk and/or lemon and it is the perfect way to cool down in the humidity.

I bought mine in Thailand, but I'm sure you can get it at some Asian grocers or probably on the internet. It is worth it to find though, as the taste is just great! In this recipe I made a fresh and healthy vegan jelly with a lovely surprise of poached apples on the bottom.

3 apples, peeled and cored
2 1/2 cups strong Thai red tea
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold water
6 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 tsp lemon zest
A few teaspoons of coconut milk

To Make
1. Slice the apples thinly and simmer gently with the red tea and sugar for about 10 minutes, until softened but not mushy.
2. Remove the apple and keep the tea syrup. Distribute the apple pieces evenly in the bottom of six glass dessert bowls.
3. Dissolve the cornstarch in the 1/2 cup of cold water.
4. Place 2 cups of the tea syrup and the lemon zest into a saucepan over a low heat.
5. Add the cornstarch. Leave over a low heat and stir continuously for 5 minutes. Don't allow it to simmer or boil, just keep it on a low enough heat to keep it hot. It should gradually thicken and deepen in colour. After 5 minutes it should look fairly thick but be easy to pour.
6. Pour over the jelly evenly across the six bowls. Add a couple of drops of coconut milk to the top of each one and use a skewer to swirl it across the top. You'll need to do this quickly as it will start to set fast.
7. Chill in the fridge for 40-60 minutes.

Serves 6.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Swede and Parsnip Mini Cottage Pies

This month I'm featuring recipes inspired by Scottish food, quite a challenge for a vegan - but one that I'm very much enjoying! Pies are a bit part of Scottish cuisine. Scotch pies, shepherds pies and cottage pies. All very meaty of course. So, this is my version of a vegan cottage pie. It has big chunks of swede and parsnip (though you could use carrots and turnips as well) mixed into a rich onion and pepper gravy topped with classic mashed potato and baked until crispy on top. It's perfect served with mushy peas. I made mine in mini pies but, of course, you could put it all in a dish and make one big pie as well.

4 parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 swedes (or turnips), peeled and chopped
1 kg floury potatoes (such as sebago), peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp Nuttelex (or other non dairy butter or margarine)
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 heaped tbsp flour
2 tsp powdered 'beef' stock (I use Massel, because it has no animal content)
2 cups boiling hot water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cracked black pepper

To Make
1. Simmer the swedes for about 35-40 minutes, or until just tender. During the last 15 minutes add in the parsnips, they should cook in much less time.
2. Preheat your grill to 160 degrees.
3. Boil the potatoes until very tender (at least 30 minutes, more is fine). Drain and mash well with salt and nuttelex.
4. Now get all the rest of the ingredients ready and close to hand to make your gravy. In a small saucepan heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until soft and translucent. Add the flour and stir constantly for a minute or two. Add the stock powder and soy sauce to the boiling water and add about 1-2 tbsp to the flour and onions in the pan. Stir well to make a very thick flour and onion paste.
5. Add the rest of the hot stock in small amounts and stir vigorously as you do so to make sure there are no lumps (this isn't as hard as people think, just don't add too much water at once and make sure the water is still hot).
6. Once you have added all the stock add the black pepper. You should now have a fairly thick but pourable gravy. If it is still too thick to pour then you can add a bit more hot water to thin it out.
7. Drain your swede and parsnip and stir into the gravy. Stir well to coat all the chunks in gravy.
8. Take 8 medium sized ramekins (or alternately just use a square baking dish) and distribute the vegies and gravy evenly amongst them.
9. Top each ramekin with mashed potato and use a fork to score/rough up the surface (this creates more surface area to go crunchy in the oven).
10. Place in the oven/grill for about 15 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned.

Serves 8, serve with mushy peas and a sprinkle of salt on top!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Scottish Vegan Oat Scones

Oats and scones are both very quintessentially Scottish - so oat scones are about as Scottish as they come. These delicious oaty and currenty scones turned out delicious, however, I almost didn't post them because the photos didn't turn out that well. But in the end Scottish food is about delicious homely cooking so taste won out. 

2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups plain wholemeal flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried currants
1/3 cup soy milk
1/3 cup oat milk
1 tbsp tapioca starch or arrowroot powder
125g Nuttelex (or other non dairy margarine), melted.

To Make
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, tapioca starch, currants, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl.
3. Make a well in the middle and add the melted Nuttelex and milks. Mix to create a soft dough.
4. Turn out onto a floured benchtop and knead briefly until the dough is a smooth ball. Flatten slightly into a thick disk about 8-10 inches diameter. Score the top into eight wedges.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Cut into wedges and serve warm spread with Nuttelex (and a cup of tea preferably).

I'm featuring lots of recipes from the United Kingdom,
Check out my other recipe posts here:

Monday, 14 May 2012

Lemon and Orange Vegetables

You'd probably be surprised to hear that this recipe is part of my Scottish recipes for May! It might not surprise you, however, to hear that it is quite difficult to find vegan savoury recipes from Scotland! So when I found citrus vegetables it was a relief to find a delicious and simple vegetable recipe from Scotland!

It looks so simple, but actually it's a very lovely way to present and eat vegetables. Tying the carrots up in little bundles with chives is a great touch, but is fiddly so if you're just cooking for yourself then you may want to skip it. However, it is a cute way to present and portion vegies if you're feeding a family or a group of guests. The inspiration for this comes from "Rainbows and Wellies" The Taigh Na Mara Cookbook, which is full of traditional and modern Scottish recipes. I've modified it and added a very un-Scottish touch to it (I couldn't help myself!).

4 carrots
1 orange
2 bunches broccoli
1 lemon
2 tsp sesame oil
Cracked pepper
Salt to taste

To Make
1. Slice the carrots into equal lengths (and do your best to make them all the same width). Place in a saucepan and zest a bit of the orange zest into the pan as well (about 1/2 tsp).
2. Juice the orange and add to the pan as well with enough water to just cover the carrots. Simmer, covered, until the carrots are just tender.
3. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the carrots and leave the orange juice in the pan. Grab about 5-6 pieces of carrot and tie it into a little bundle (you'll break a few chives doing this but practice makes perfect and you'll develop a good technique).
4. Cut the broccoli into florets and steam until just tender.
5. Bring the orange juice back to a simmer and add the juice of the lemon and the sesame oil.
6. Mix the broccoli and carrot bunches together in a bowl (or serve separately on a plate if you like). Pour the hot orange and lemon juice over the top and mix through. Add cracked pepper and salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 as a side.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Vegan Cranachan (Scottish Whiskey Cream with Raspberries and Oats)

You can't really go wrong with raspberries and whipped cream, right? But I'll tell you what you can do - make it even better! What could be a better addition than whiskey, toasted oats and almonds? Oh, and some more whiskey on top :) This is a vegan version of a Scottish dessert called Cranachan, with some personal touches.

There are two options on how to finish it off, you can use the whiskey syrup (below), or if you are a real hardcore whiskey fan you can just drizzle a teaspoon of straight whiskey over the top (although, this gives it rather a kick!). I tried both and I did prefer to use the whiskey syrup.

It's also wheat free, dairy free, egg free, peanut free, tree nut free (if you omit the almonds), sesame free and soy free. So bring on the dessert, allergy sufferers!

2 tins coconut cream, chilled in the fridge for at least 24 hours (the longer the better)
2 tbsp soft icing mixture
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 cups fresh raspberries (or frozen is fine)
2 tbsp scotch whiskey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Slivered almonds, as many as you like! (optional, leave off to make nut free)
1/4 cup scotch whiskey
2 tbsp raw sugar

To Make
1.  Refrigerate the 2 tins of coconut cream over night (minimum- I prefer to leave for 2-3 days).
2. When you open the tin you will notice that the top is a very solid thick cream. Scoop out all of the solid thick cream on top (you can reserve the rest of it to use in another meal – like a curry).
3. Put the thick cream into a bowl and mix well using a hand held electric mixer. Move the beaters up and down to try and get as much air into the cream as possible. Add the sugar and beat until it pretty much resembles thick cream.
4. Whip in the whiskey and vanilla.
5. Heat a non-stick pan and add the dry rolled oats. Toast for 2-3 minutes, stirring them frequently to prevent burning. Generally keep your eye on them as they burn quickly. Allow to cool.

6. To make the whiskey syrup, place the whiskey and sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently. Bring to a low simmer and simmer for 5 minutes, uncovered. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
7. Fold the cooled toasted oats and raspberries into the whipped cream. Distribute amongst 8 bowls. Top with slivered almonds and 2 tsp cooled whiskey syrup.

Makes 8 servings.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Roasted Vegetable and Chickpea Couscous

It's getting a lot colder where I live now, so it's time to start thinking of alternatives to salad for lunch. It's not good to eat too many raw foods in cold weather, as it takes a lot more of your body's warmth and energy to digest than food that has been cooked. So it's time to put lots of quick and easy cooked meals on the menu. Couscous is a great option - cooks in a few minutes and can be combined with a whole range of different ingredients. Roasted pumpkin and parsnips with cooked chickpeas make this dish almost completely cooked and thus easier on your digestive system.

2 cups instant couscous
2 ½ cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted*
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
200g pumpkin, peeled and diced
1 large cucumber, chopped
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 tin chickpeas)
6-7 dates, chopped
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Salt to taste

* Toasting! There are 2 ways to do this 1) Spread the seeds on a tray and toast under a grill for 2-3 minutes until slightly browned – keep a close eye on the suckers because they are really easy to burn. 2) Heat a little bit of oil in a non stick pan and then slightly fry the seeds for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

To Make
1. Place the chopped pumpkin and parsnip in a bowl or baking dish and coat with oil. Transfer to a tray (if you had it in a bowl) and roast in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes, or until soft and completely cooked.
2. Put the instant couscous in a bowl.  Add the hot stock and stir with a fork. Leave it for about 5 minutes to soak up all the liquid and then go back and fluff it up with the fork.
3. When the couscous is dry and fluffy add the the rest of the ingredients and mix well. You can also drizzle in some of the oil from the baking tray.
4. Serve with extra chopped coriander, if desired.

Serves 4.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Cherry and Almond Bircher Muesli

I'm doing my best these days to eat breakfast. One thing that has helped me hugely has been making a meal plan so that I know exactly what I'm going to have for breakfast the next day. Most of the time I skip breakfast because I wake up in the morning and this is my thought process: 

"I should eat breakfast. I'll have some breakfast."

"What should I eat? Do I have anything in the house that I can eat?"

"I could make pancakes. No, couldn't be bothered, don't want to clean up the mess."

"Ok. I'll just have something quick. Toast or cereal."

"Yeah, maybe not because I don't actually like toast or cereal much. Also, there's no bread."

"Oh look, it's 11:30 and I still haven't eaten anything. Oh, well.... I might as well just have an early lunch instead."

I don't know if anybody else does that but I do it almost every morning. The only way I can get around it is if I already know exactly what I'm going to eat for breakfast and if possible I've made it the night before. That is why bircher muesli is the new breakfast appearing weekly on my meal plan. The best thing about it is that I spend 5 minutes on it the night before and 5 minutes more in the morning and then it's done. It's also incredibly versatile and I can use any fruits and nuts and seeds that I have. In short: love it.

What is your favourite thing to put in your bircher muesli?

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 tbsp pepitas 
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tsp ground flaxseeds (linseeds)
1/2 cup whole almonds
1 cup apple juice
1 apple (I used a sweet and crunchy royal gala)
Morello cherries (or other sour cherries)

To Make:
1. Mix the oats, flaxseeds, almonds, pepitas and sunflower seeds in a small bowl. Mix the apple juice in and leave to soak in the fridge overnight (or minimum 1 hour).
2. The next morning, peel and coarsely grate the apple. Stir through the soaked oats. 
3. Serve with morello cherries.

Serves 2.

On another note - I've been nominated for the Best Australian Blogs 2012 People's Choice Award - you can vote for me by hitting up this link:

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Scottish Roasted Love Apple and Wine Soup

Now before you dismiss this as being some obscure ingredient which you'll never be find - don't worry! Love apple is a traditional name for tomato, although nobody seems sure why. There are a lot of theories on the internet but none of them have any credible source so I assume they're just people writing stuff. This gorgeous and rich love apple soup is roasted for extra rich heartiness, perfect with crusty bread for a warming Autumn meal.

May on Gormandize with A-dizzle and K-bobo is all about Scottish Food. I'm featuring the cuisine of a different country (in a vegan form!) every month. So far we've done Croatia, Chad, Bosnia and Iran. All were delicious and you should check out all the recipes in the archive. This month a reader has suggested that we do Scotland - which was posed as quite a challenge since Scottish cuisine is famed for its meatiness! I was pleasantly surprised to discover several non meat dishes (not a lot, but some!) and lots of delicious desserts! So it may be more a month of sweets than savouries this time!

This soup also rather neatly ties into the next Holiday Recipe Club. The theme ingredients for the Cince de Mayo hop (something which I know very little about) are dulce de leche, chorizos and tomato. That obviously doesn't leave me much choice- so tomatoes it is!

2 kg tomatoes
Olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stick, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 litre vegetable stock (or use a vegetable based beef stock for a richer flavour)
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup red wine

To Make
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Cut the tomatoes in half and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes.
3. Put the vegetable stock, onion, garlic, carrot, celery and tomato paste in a soup pot. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
4. Add the roasted tomatoes and any juices left on the tray.
5. Blend the soup until very smooth and press through a strainer. Use a spoon to press all the liquid out of it and you should only be left with 1-2 tablespoons of thick paste at the end (mostly tomato skin and seeds), you can discard this.
6. Return to the pot and reheat gently. Serve with liberal cracked pepper and some crusty bread.