Saturday, March 28, 2015

Meat Free Week: Day Six - Cauliflower Cheese

Sorry for the very late post today but it's been Earth Hour here in the UK, turning our lights and electricity off for the planet. Earth Hour is still sweeping across the globe, so watch Earth Hour Live on the website

Meat Free Week advocates reducing your meat consumption because of the impact it is having on our health, animals and the environment. As today is Earth Hour, here is a environment related fact from the Meat Free Week website:

Deforestation is a major global crisis. As demand for agriculture grows, grazing space continues to leach more forest from our environment, especially in the Amazon. If current trends in agriculture for grazing and crops continue, we can expect to see as much as forty per cent of the rainforest destroyed by 2050.1 This also leads to the destruction of crucial carbon sinks and releases harmful gases that have been stored on soil and vegetation.

Today's recipe is one of my favourites and comes from LEON's cookbook ; Fast Vegetarian. Its a classic but another veg box winner! Its perfect for a wet and windy Saturday lunchtime, like today!

Cauliflower Cheese

Serves four to six people
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients and Preparation

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets (a.k.a roughly chopped up!)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 teaspoons of maple syrup

350g creme fraiche

50g Gruyere cheese, grated

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon grated vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese

salt and pepper

1. Heat oven to 170C/ 325F/gas mark 3
2. Toss cauliflower in a bowl with oil and maple syrup.
3. Season well. 
4. Transfer to an oven dish and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cauliflower is tender
5. Put the creme fraiche, Gruyere and mustard into a bowl and stir to combine. 
6. Tip in the roasted cauliflower, mix until well coated and season.
3. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and put back into the oven for another 10 minutes, until golden. 

For veg box owners, don't be afraid to add other veggies you may have such as broccoli or kale. We cook our dish with kale and it's never tasted better!

Kale never tasted so good!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Meat Free Week: Friday Day Five - Red Lentil Stew

Its Friday and I don't about you but it's been a loooong week. Thank goodness I've had some delicious veggies for brain food!

If you've only just joined us, I've been blogging some veggie recipes all week for Meat Free Week which is a campaign raising awareness about excessive meat consumption and the impact it is having on our health, animals and the environment. You can find out loads more on the Meat Free Week website but my top fact is:  Scientists and environmentalists agree that reducing meat consumption will take pressure off the planet's resources. While estimates vary, it is clear that greenhouse gas production from livestock and meat production sector is significant and consumer can reduce their greenhouse gas footprint by reducing the volume of their meat consumption.

Also as part of week, plenty of people are being sponsored to go meat free for the week and its still not too late to sponsor me if you're inclined or if you've been enjoying the recipes. You can read more about my own reasons for going meat free in my original blog post on the subject.

Today is a recipe handed down to me from a friend and I'm now happy to share it with you, enjoy and happy Friday!

Red Lentil Stew

Serves 4 mains or 6 starters
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 to 30 minutes

Ingredients and Preparation

Red lentils - a large fistful for each person or about 200gs in total

1 tablespoon of rye seeds (if you can find them!)

I teaspoon of cumin seeds

2 medium onions, finely chopped

100g of cherry tomatoes sliced in half (or whatever's left over from yesterday's dish!)

5 green chillies, seeded and chopped finely (see how there's no waste now!)

2 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Fresh coriander, roughly chopped

1. Boil the lentils in a pot until they become mushy. Don't use too much water as all will be used later in the dish and you don't want to drown it.
2. Meanwhile in another pot, heat the vegetable oil
3. Add the rye and cumin seeds to the oil and cook till they start popping
4. Add the onions, chillies and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes or until soft
5. Add the boiled lentils to the second pot with all the ingredients and let it simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste
6. Cover and continue to cook on low heat for about 10 more minutes

When to add the coriander depends on your taste. If you like cooked coriander, add it at step 6, if you like it fresh, garnish the dish with it when serving. Choice is yours!

Serve either on its own or with rice. Enjoy!

I like my coriander fresh and plenty of it!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Meat Free Week: Day Four: Chickpea Stew

Half way point and I thought we could do something different on the lead-up to the weekend...

Up until now, I've blog about recipes that are good for people who have veg boxes delivered and yummy ways of using up your endless stash of potatoes. On a side note, if you are interested in getting a veg box delivered to your door full of organic goodness, the veg box company I use in Edinburgh is East Coast Organic who also deliver eggs, bread and cheese.

These next two recipes feature ingredients not quiet in season just yet, but that makes them perfect for the upcoming months. Today and tomorrow's recipes use a lot of the same ingredients so there is no need for food waste trying to figure out what else to do with these green chillies! They are some of my favourite recipes that I get a real craving for and unlike yesterday's risotto, these are super quick to cook.

Chickpea Stew
(This recipe is a version of Bill Granger's from Saturday Kitchen which I found on the internet ages ago)

Serves 4 mains or 8 side dishes
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 - 30 minutes

Ingredients and Preparation

2 tablespoon of olive oil

1 red onion, finely sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely diced

Small knob of ginger, grated

1 or 2 green chillies to taste, seeded and finely chopped

2 x 400g (14oz) of tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

500g (17oz) cheery tomatoes

100g (4oz) spinach

80 ml (2oz) water

1 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon turmeric

salt and pepper to taste

And for serving plain yoghurt and paprika

1. Heat oil in pot
2. Add onion, garlic, ginger, chillies and salt and cook for 5 minutes or until onions are soft and golden
3. Add chickpeas, water, cumin, turmeric and pepper and cook for another five minutes or until water evaporates
4. Add tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes or until tomatoes are soft
5. Turn heat off and add spinach, stirring them through allowing them to wilt
6. Plate up dish, add yoghurt to the top and sprinkle with paprika and devour!

Optional serving suggestion - serve with rice. Did you know darker rice, like wild or brown rice, has up to 40 % more protein than white rice, making it a better option for upping your protein intake? 

Keep some chillies and tomatoes for tomorrow's recipe; red lentil stew! 

Remember to check out information about Meat Free Week on their website

How tantalising tempting does that spinach look? Almost wilted enough to eat!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meat Free Week: Day Three: Fear not Risotto!

Day Three of Meat Free Week - are you feeling the goodness? Today's recipe comes from one of my dearest childhood friends who loves to cook. Along with a university pal, she set up a trans-Atlantic blog where they stay in touch by swapping recipes. It's called Feta and Arepa and should you need some more inspiration this week, I highly recommend it.

Many people fear risotto and its high standards and capricious demands, but with this recipe you need not fear risotto anymore! Get ready to get tucked into some tastiness!

Mushroom Risotto

Serves four people
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: At least 30 minutes but get ready to be in there for the long haul, but trust me it's worth it!

Ingredients and Preparation

1.5 litres or 6 cups of vegetable stock

500ml or 2 cups white wine

2 tablespoons of olive oil

60gr or 1/4 cup butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves grated

1 kg or 2lbs of mushrooms sliced (or whatever's available in the veg box)

500g or 1lb Arborio rice

180grs or 3/4 cups of grated Parmesan

and for those who like it chopped fresh parsley

1. Place the stock and wine in a pot, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover to simmer.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in another pot and add onions and garlic and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft and golden.
3. Add mushrooms to onions and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes or until tender.
4. Add rice to onions and mushrooms and stir until translucent.
5. From the first pot into the rice pot, add small amounts of stock while stirring the rice constantly over a medium heat until liquid is absorbed. Continuing adding small amounts of stock for 20-25 minutes or until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender and creamy in texture. This is where you need to have patience and strength in your arms. My rule of thumb is if in doubt, stir some more, it won't hurt. It's hot and hard work but totally worth the effort!
6. Stir in Parmesan and heat for one minute or until all cheese is melted.
7. Dish up, garnish with parsley and more cheese and tuck in, you deserve it!

This is step four (not quite translucent yet!) - I added some leeks to my dish as I had some,
so feel free to experiment once you're feeling confident!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Meat Free Week: Day Two: Ethiopian Cabbage Dish

Day Two of Meat Free Week and feeling fine! Did you know that...

Plant based diets have a lower risk of bone loss and therefore osteoporosis.

Increasing your intake of vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants help reduce the signs and effects of aging

As yesterday you can still sponsor me for Meat Free Week!

This dish is an absolute godsend for anyone who has a veg box! Not only does it use up your numerous potatoes and cabbage but taste amazingly yummy!

Ethiopian Cabbage Dish

Serves four to five people
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Ingredients and Preparation

Olive oil approx one tablespoon

3 garlic cloves - finely diced

1 medium onion - finely sliced

4 carrots - thinly sliced

Cabbage - depends on what's in the veg box but if they're tiny put up to two in. If its one big or medium one put in half

Potatoes - as per yesterday, tempting to put them all in as more are always on the way with a veg box, but depending on their size put in 5 medium potatoes worth in chopped into cubes.

A small knob of ginger grated

1 teaspoon of turmeric

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1. Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat.
2. Add carrots and onions and cook for about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in turmeric, cumin, salt, pepper and cabbage and cook for another 20 minutes
4. Add potatoes and cover.
5. Reduce heat to low and cook until potatoes are soft, 20 to 30 minutes.

I've used red onions this time, because that's what I had in the veg box but still tastes the same!

My attempt at some fancy artsy-fartsy food photography - trust me this dish tastes great!