THE BEST EVER CARROT AND CORIANDER SOUP! (BUT DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT…)

Gluten Free, Healthy, Herbs, Specials, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

carrot and coriander

Preparation & cooking time: 45 minutes
Makes: 6-8 portions

Soup is one of, if not, the most satisfying and comforting foods going and it is one of the easiest and cheapest things to make as well. Soup has endless options for flavours and ingredients, which is why I love making them so much! I have never made a soup exactly the same twice in a row, I tend to make use of the ingredients that I have in the fridge. Now that the temperature is getting much colder, soup will definitely be a regular for me. This recipe in particular was a saviour for my girlfriend and I when we were at University in Aberdeen. The weather was so cold up there but this soup always hit the right spot and warmed us up; soups are amazing for students as they are so cheap to make and they can give you a meal everyday for a week (plus there is only one pot to wash up)! 

Ingredients:

  • 1kg carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 big bunch coriander, roughly chopped (stalks included)
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Water

Method:

1.   Put a good few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a large heavy based pan and put it over a medium heat. When the oil is nice and hot add the onions, half of the coriander, the ginger and the garlic and fry for 5 – 10 minutes. The onions should be nice and soft by now and starting to get a bit of colour. At this point add in a good pinch of salt and pepper along with the cumin and ground coriander and fry for a further 5 minutes.

2.   Turn the heat up to high and add the carrots to the pan. Fry the carrots with the delicious onion mixture for 5 – 10 minutes. Fill up and boil your kettle. Once boiled pour enough water into your pan to completely cover the carrots. Add the remaining coriander to the pot (leaving a tiny bit for garnish at the end) and leave the soup to simmer until the carrots are nice and tender, this should take around 10 – 15 minutes. 

3.   Once the carrots are nice and tender, use a hand blender to blitz the soup until it has a smooth and creamy consistency. If you feel the soup is too thick, keep adding boiling water until you have your desired thickness. Place the blended soup back onto the hob and keep it hot and ready to serve. At this point taste to see if the seasoning is correct and adjust it accordingly. The soup is now ready to eat! Pour it into a nice bowl and garnish with some coriander leaves and a drizzle of spicy extra virgin olive oil!

I hope you like this recipe, let me know what your favourite soup is 🙂

 

Aubergine Burgers, Roast Potato Chips & Homemade Barbecue Sauce!

#MeatfreeMonday, Healthy, Herbs, Roasted, Sandwich, Sauces, Side Dishes, Specials, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian, Vini's Sandwiches

DSC_0004Preparation & cooking time: 1 hr 20 mins
Makes: 2 big burgers and a good portion of chips

Ingredients:

For the Burgers:

  • 1 large aubergine, slice two 1 inch thick rounds from this
  • 2 Nice burger buns
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • A handful of spinach 
  • 1 large, ripe tomato, sliced
  • A small handful of coriander leaves

For the chips:

  • 2 large potatoes (Maris Piper potatoes are great for roasting), peeled and cut into thick chip shapes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • A handful of thyme sprigs
  • A dash of cider vinegar
  • A  few good glugs of olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

For the barbecue sauce:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 40g olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons English mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 250ml tomato ketchup
  • 120ml red wine vinegar
  • 50ml of really good espresso

Method:

1.   Preheat your oven to 200 C. Put the potatoes into a large pan of cold water (add a good pinch of sea salt to the water) and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cook the potatoes for a further 10 minutes and then drain in a colander and leave to steam dry for 10 minutes. Add a good couple of glugs of olive oil to a large roasting tray and place the tray into the oven to get the oil nice and hot. Give the potatoes a toss in the colander to give them a nice ‘frosted’ effect, this will help the chips become really nice and crispy when roasted. Take the tray out of the oven and carefully put the chips into the oil and put the tray back in the oven.

2.   Now you can prepare the barbecue sauce. In a large frying pan (over a medium to high heat) fry the onion and garlic in the oil until they are nice and soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a further 5 minutes or until the sauce has become nice and thick. Once the sauce has thickened you can blend it to make it nice and smooth or you can be old school & rustic and leave it with the slices of onion and garlic in it. Pour the sauce into a sterilized jar/container. This sauce will keep for up to a month in a fridge, but trust me it will never last that long as (if you like it like I do) you will want to put it on every meal you have!

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3.   Place the slices of aubergine in another roasting tray and spoon over a few generous tablespoons of the amazing barbecue sauce that you have just made and make sure you coat both side of the aubergine with the sauce.

4.   After the chips have had half an hour in the oven, take the tray out and add a good pinch of salt and pepper, a dash of of cider vinegar (it may seem strange to do this, but trust me it really makes a difference!), the garlic cloves and the thyme sprigs to the tray and gently stir to get the chips coated in all of the goodness. Place the tray of chips and the tray with the aubergine burgers into the oven for half an hour. After 15 minutes, using a pair of tongs, flip the aubergine slices so that both sides get cooked evenly.

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I hope you have enjoyed this recipe! It is a great way to get involved with #meatfreemonday and help you and your family have a healthier diet. Honestly, this recipe is so tasty (and tried and tested on meat eaters) that you will not miss eating meat if you try it. Let me know what you have cooked for #meatfreemonday as I would love to hear about all of your different recipes. 🙂 

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Apple & Cinnamon Granola

Baking, Breakfast, Fruits, Gluten Free, Healthy, Snack, Specials, Vegan, Vegetarian

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Makes: 6 (generous) portions
Preparation & cooking time: 2 hours (including cooling time)

My girlfriend has an absolute obsession with anything that is flavoured with apple and cinnamon! So one day, she decided that she was going to make up a recipe (her style of cooking is just try it out and make it up as you go) for apple and cinnamon granola. I was so excited as granola with cold milk has to be one of my favourite breakfasts ever and (crazily) I had never had homemade granola! Due to my girlfriends kitchen philosophy I didn’t (and she didn’t) know how it was going to turn out, but it came out so amazing that I am dedicating a blog post to her granola recipe. This recipe can either be chopped into granola bars or broken up and used as a cereal (as I have done). Trust me, if you like the combination of apple and cinnamon then you definitely want to give this recipe a go. I love a good old apple and blackberry pie so (as you can see in the photo) I have added some blackberries to my bowl of granola but you could use any berries or fruit that you would like. I hope you like it 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes
  • 40g hazelnuts (or nut of your choice)
  • 60g rice puffs
  • 250g jumbo oats
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
  • 2 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 2 heaped tablespoons apple spread/sauce
  • 95g maple syrup
  • 100g coconut oil 
  • A handful of blackberries (optional)

Method:

1.   Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line a large roasting tray with grease proof paper.

2.   Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix together until all of the ingredients are combined really well and you have a really sticky mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared roasting tray and, with a wooden spoon, press the granola down until you have a really compact mixture. Place the roasting tray into the oven for around 30-45 minutes. The cooking time really depends on how thick your mixture is, so keep an eye on it whilst it is in the oven. You will know that the granola is done when it has coloured a little, do not worry if the mixture is still a little soft as it will firm up once it is out of the oven and it is cooling.

3.   Once the granola is cooked, take it out of the oven and leave on the side to cool completely before you cut it or break it up! It must be left to cool completely otherwise it will still be a little ‘cakey’ and remain soft which isn’t the most pleasant thing to eat. Once cooled you can either break up the granola in chunks or cut it into bars. I love having the granola chunks with almond milk and a handful of blackberries.

I hope you like the recipe everyone; let me know what flavour granola you like and what you like to have it with, thanks 🙂

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Tomatoes with Infused Basil Oil

Gluten Free, Healthy, Herbs, Holidays, Side Dishes, Specials, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

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Makes: 2 portions
Preparation & cooking time: 35 minutes (including the time to infuse the oil) 

This is probably the simplest recipe I will ever post, but it is one of my favourites and it represents the food that I really enjoy eating. The flavour of this dish really does depend on being able to use the best ingredients available, so if you can get your hands on some amazingly ripe tomatoes then this recipe is so enjoyable. Since I have been in Spain, I have realised how good the tomatoes are here! They are probably the best tomatoes that I have had anywhere and for this reason I have been eating so many of them this summer and this is why I am showing you probably my favourite way of eating them. On a hot day this really is a perfect light dish to enjoy at lunch or dinner and for me it really does show off the amazing flavours of summer. I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 250ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • A pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Method:

1.   Put the oil, basil, garlic and chilli flakes into a saucepan and place it over a low heat. Infuse the oil for 35 minutes. The garlic should have a slight colour to it after the 35 minute infusion. After 35 minutes, strain the infused oil into a jar using a sieve. There will be more oil than you need for this recipe which is great as it goes so well with so many dishes. You can use it in pasta sauces, salad dressings, for roasting vegetables etc.

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2.   Slice the tomatoes and place the slices nicely on a plate. Season the tomatoes with a little sea salt and black pepper and then drizzle over some of the gorgeous infused oil. To make it look even nicer, roughly scatter some basil leaves over the tomatoes and enjoy!

I know this seems so, so simple but trust me, it really is something special when the best ingredients are used. I hope you like it!

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Avocado Pesto Pasta

Healthy, Pasta, Sauces, Specials, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

DSC_0303Makes: 4 large portions
Preparation & cooking time: 20 minutes

Before I became vegan, homemade pesto pasta was a meal that I was obsessed with (I would have a few times a week without fail). As there is parmesan in traditional pesto I have been unable to eat it. I made the pesto minus the parmesan and don’t get me wrong it was delicious, but it did lack that creaminess and seasoning that the parmesan gave to it. I have found it difficult to find a pesto recipe that would offer the same end product until I tried adding in avocado to the recipe, and voila! With the addition of avocado this pesto recipe is so silky and smooth with a very satisfying texture and taste. Not only is it perfect for vegans, it is perfect for anyone who is looking for an amazing pesto recipe that takes minutes to make and has all the natural goodness that comes from adding the avocado. I hope you enjoy the recipe 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 400g spaghetti
  • A small courgette, sliced
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • A handful of button mushrooms, sliced
  • A large bunch of basil 
  • 2 ripe avocados (peeled and pitted)
  • 60g pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Method:

1.   Bring a large pan of salty water to the boil, add the pasta and cook according to the packet. Cook the pasta 1-2 minutes less than what is stated on the packet as it will be cooked further later on with the pesto and you want it to remain nice and al dente. One minute before the pasta is ready, add in the courgette and mushroom slices to quickly blanch them.

2.   Whilst the pasta is boiling you can make the avocado pesto. Place the basil leaves, avocados , pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic and extra virgin olive oil into a food processor and blend until it is really smooth. Once the pesto is creamy and smooth season it generously.

3.   Put 4 large spoonfuls of the avocado pesto into a large frying pan and put the pan on the hob over a medium heat. When the pasta is ready add the pasta and vegetables to the frying pan. Do this with a pair of tongs as this will allow some of the pasta cooking water to emulsify with the pesto and create a silky smooth sauce. Toss the pasta with the pesto until all of the pasta is nicely coated. If the sauce is a bit stodgy add a spoonful or two of the reserved pasta water to loosen it. That is the recipe done!

Eat this immediately or you can always eat it cold. It is perfect for the summer as you can have cold at a picnic. 

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Pizza!

Italian, Specials, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

010 (2)Makes: Enough pizza dough for eight 30cm pizzas.
Preparation & cooking time: 1hr 1/2 (including time to let the dough rise)

Pizza is one of the most enjoyed foods everywhere in the world and it is one of the most common food that is ordered as a take-away. Personally, I just don’t understand the fuss about a take away pizza as more often than not it will arrive covered in grease, with a horrible doughy crust and with layer of cheese literally an inch thick on the top! Another reason why I don’t understand the whole pizza take-away fad is that it is so easy to make your own pizza at home; you will get a perfectly thin & crisp crust, no grease, fresh toppings and you will also save quite a few pennies in the process! Trust me, once you have tasted how good a homemade pizza is and how easy it is to make, you will never want to order another take-away pizza again! I always split the dough into eight portions, wrap them into cling film and freeze them until I want to use them. The dough defrosts really quickly and from that point it takes about 10 minutes to make a delicious pizza!

Ingredients:

Basic Pizza Dough

  •  1kg tipo ’00’ flour (or strong white bread flour)
  • A good pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons extra vrgin olive oil
  • 650ml tepid water
  • 14g dry yeast (if you can, use two 7g sachets)

Toppings

There are so many options when it comes to pizza toppings that I don’t really know where to begin! The recipes that I am posting use garlic oil as the base instead of the traditional tomato sauce, but you could use a muschroom sauce, a roasted vegetable sauce etc. I have used only vegetables to top my pizza but you can use your favourite pizza toppings!

  • Garlic oil (or tomato passata)
  • A handful of green beans, sliced in half
  • A few cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • A few mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • A few asparagus, sliced diagonally
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Dried chilli flakes
  • A few parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • Avocado pesto

Method:

1.   Sieve the flour and the salt onto a large clean work surface and make a large well in the middle of the flour. In a jug, mix together the water, olive oil, sugar and yeast and then leave to rest for a few minutes. After a few minutes resting, pour the mixture into the well of flour. With a fork, gradually bring the flour in from the sides and swirl it into liquid. Make sure you do this gently because you could break the walls of flour leaving you with a right mess (I have had first hand experience of this!). Keep swirling and bringing in larger amounts of flour until all of the mixture starts coming together, then work the rest with your flour dusted hands until you have a nice springy, smooth ball of dough. Place the ball of dough into a large flour dusted bowl and cover the bowl with a damp cloth. Put the bowl in a warm room (the airing cuoboard is always a good place, or next to the cooker) and leave to rise for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

2.   Once the dough has doubled in size, pour it onto a flour dusted surface and knead the dough to push out all of the air in it, in baking terms this is called ‘knocking back the dough’. Slice the dough into 8 portions and keep out as many as you need and with the rest, wrap them in cling film and put them into the freezer. The dough keeps really well, so just take a portion out as and when you need it. 

3.   Preheat your oven to the hottest temperature that it goes to (my oven goes to 270 C and this will cook the pizza in 5 minutes). On a flour dusted surface place a portion of the dough and roll it out with a flour dusted rolling pin (I use an empty bottle of wine and this works perfectly) until you have the size and thickness that you want. I like my pizzas to be very thin and crispy so I tend to roll the dough out until it is around 30cm across. Once the dough has been rolled out, put it onto a pizza tray (basically a round tray with holes in it; these work brilliantly and they are also very cheap to buy) so that it is ready for the toppings to be put onto it.

4.   Firstly, drizzle over a good amount of garlic oil onto the pizza base and then arrange the vegetables onto the base. Secondly, sprinkle over a good pinch of sea salt and pepper along with a pinch of the dried chilli flakes. The pizza is now ready to go into the oven; place it in the oven and depending on how hot your oven goes to, it should be ready in 5-7 minutes. Keep an eye on it as you do not want it to burn. After 5 minutes the pizza will have a lovely colour and the base will have bubbled up a bit. I like to leave the pizza in the oven until the vegetables char a little as I think it tastes amazing! Take the pizza out of the oven when it is ready and sprinkle over the parsley and spoon over some avocado pesto. Place the pizza onto a nice chopping board and slice into 8 slices and enjoy it 🙂

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Here is another pizza that I made. It is so easy to make, just drizzle the garlic oil over the base, place some chopped sun dried tomatoes all over the pizza, add the sea salt & pepper and some chilli flakes. Cook it in exactly the same way as the pizza above. There are so many toppings for pizza, let me know what you love to have on your pizzas. I hope you like this recipe 🙂

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Asparagus, pea & mint risotto!

Italian, Specials, Vegan, Vegetarian

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Makes: 2 generous portions
Preparation & cooking time: 45 minutes

For me, risotto is one of the most comforting foods going! A good risotto is so easy to make and with a little love and attention you will have a base risotto recipe with endless options (it is a great meal to impress people with as well!)! A risotto should be smooth, creamy and oozy! When you shake the pan the risiotto should move like the waves, or ‘onde‘ as the Italians say, and should never be thick and stodgy like the ones I have been served so many times in numerous restaurants! Peas and asparagus are in season at the moment so it makes this recipe even better! You can use the base risotto recipe and you can add whatever ingredients you like, but seasonal vegetable (see what else is in season here) risottos really stand out in my opinion. I made this recipe for my girlfriend and myself so (as she is vegan) I have left out the butter and the parmesan cheese (which are used in traditional risotto recipes), but I will tell you when you will need to add it in if you would like to use these ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • I litre organic vegetable stock (homemade is the best!)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 a carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 150g risotto rice
  • 1 small glass of dry white wine/vermouth
  • 4 – 6 sticks of asparagus, sliced diagonally
  • 75g peas (fresh if possibl;e but frozen are excellent as well)
  • 4 – 5 mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1.   In one pan heat the stock; you need to make sure that it is hot when you add it to the rice so that it doesn’t slow down the cooking process, and in another large, thick based pan heat the olive and add the onions, celery and carrots and fry slow for around 10 minutes until all ot the vegetables have softened. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice to the pan and turn it up to a high heat. The toasting of the rice is a really important part of making a good risotto as the heat cracks open the rice and allows it to absorb lots of the awesome stock.

2.   The rice will carry on frying so keep stirring it and after a minute the rice will have turned slightly translucent. At this point add the in the wine/vermouth to the pan and continue to stir. The aroma you will get will be amazing and the harshness of the alcohol will all be cooked away and you will be left with the most amazing flavour!

3.   Once the wine/vermouth has been absorbed by the rice it is time to add in the first ladleful of stock. Turn the heat down a little now so that the rice doesn’t cook too quickly and add a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Now that you have added your first ladleful of stock, it is very important to keep stirring the risotto and massage all of the starch out of the rice to give the risotto its amazing texture. After the first ladleful is absorbed by the rice, keep adding ladlefuls of stock to keep it moist and keep stirring! Allow each ladleful to be absorbed before you add the next. This process should take around 15 – 18 minutes.

4.   After 8 minutes, add the peas and the asparagus to the stock pan and ladle in with the stock as you have been doing.  After 15 minutes taste the rice to see if it is cooked. The rice should be soft with a little bite. If it is not cooked then keep adding stock and stirring unitil it is cooked through.

5.   Once the rice has cooked, take the pan off of the heat, check the seasoning and add the mint. If you want to use butter and parmesan, add a knob of butter and a small handful of parmesan now and stir it in. Cover the pan with a lid and leave to rest for 3 minutes. This is a really important stage as it will allow of the ingredients to relax and allow all of the flavours to incorporate together! Serve and eat as soon as possible whilst the risotto has its amazing texture.

I hope you like this recipe everyone. Let me know what you think of it. 🙂

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