30 January 2014

Wild mushrooms on sweet potato and carrot spaghetti

The whole clue of this dish is that the spaghetti is no pasta, but made of sweet potato and carrot strings instead. Combined with the creamy wild mushrooms it makes quite a nice and earthy meal. I was inspired to make this after seeing Nigel Slater's recipe for Mushroom ragout and root vegetable pappardelle.


40g dried wild mushrooms
3 small shallots
3 garlic cloves
2tbsp olive oil
1 large sweet potato
2 carrots
1tbsp fresh sage
½tbsp thyme
2tsp vegetable stock powder + 200ml water
250ml oat cream
½tsp ground black pepper
½tsp salt


Peel the sweet potato and the carrots and cut them with a vegetable cutter into thin matchstick strings resembling spaghetti.

Soak the dried mushrooms in water for about 10 minutes.

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and quickly toss the string vegetables through. Prepare the vegetable stock and add it to the pan and let simmer until cooked al dente.

Chop the shallots and garlic and start sweating them in olive oil in another pan. Add the drained mushrooms into the pan and cook for about 5 minutes more. Then add the cream and let simmer for further 10 minutes infusing the cream with the strong mushroom taste. Add some of the mushroom soaking water, if you want even more intense taste (you can add some of that into the vegetable stock as well). Season to taste with sage, thyme, black pepper and salt.

Combine the sauce with the fake spaghetti or just serve it on the top of them.

Enjoy! ~ Your VegHog

29 January 2014

Botanic Garden Oxford

I have been a little bit absent from the blog and Twitter due to my main internet connection being inaccessible for a few days. It was quite a refreshing break, but now I really want to write something again. This will only be a short post though, for all you flower and plant lovers out there.

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Botanic Garden in Oxford, and I want to share with you some of the photos I took in the oldest botanic garden of Britain. It's one of my favourite places, a visit there is so uplifting when you see all those wonderful plants and trees. Back then a part of the garden was closed due to flooding of the river close by, but luckily the greenhouses were open. Hopefully one day I'll manage to go to Oxford in the summer, because then the garden must be an even more magical place.

Hope you'll enjoy the impressions! ~ Your VegHog

24 January 2014


Shortbread is a wonderful crumbly biscuit originating from medieval Scotland, which has kept its popularity until this day. Only three ingredients (butter, sugar, flour) are needed, but the making can be trickier than you think.

This was my first time making shortbread just on the eve of the Burns Night. They turned out pretty good, but I'm still determined to make better and more authentic ones next time. I have based my experiment on a recipe on the BBC Food page, and these are the results. 

125 g butter
55 g caster sugar + some extra for dusting
180 g wheat flour

Whisk the soft butter and sugar and add flour. Knead to a dough, which can be quite crumbly. Roll the dough into about 1 cm thickness.

Cut the shortbread out with a round or rectangular cookie cutter, place them on baking paper and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Chill the shortbread in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Finally bake them at 190C for about 15-20 minutes. Try to avoid browning, which I couldn't quite manage this time due to my slightly thinner shortbread and lack of keeping an eye on the oven.

Chill for a while and enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Your VegHog

22 January 2014

Winter gardening

I thought I'd make a small update to urban winter gardening, although it's fairly quiet at the moment as all growing is limited to indoors.

Some of my herbs aren't doing so brilliantly due to the dark winter. The monster basil is still alive and well, though. It's always so handy to have fresh herbs ready to season food, so I hope they start doing better soon again.

The chili is still growing and producing a lot of small chilies. I have just hung another batch to dry and the dried chilies will become really handy in cooking.

I have planned to sow some radishes soon, and possibly some other early veg. I dried the radish seeds from my own last summer's produce, so it will be all exciting when the next generation starts appearing.

I hope that the sun comes out soon, and I can start working on my tiny balcony garden. Please share what you are growing at the moment and what big plans you have for the spring and summer!

Your VegHog

20 January 2014

Crown prince squash spelt risotto

Crown prince squash is one of my new squash favourites. It is such a lovely rich and nutty squash, and it was the perfect vegetable choice for this spelt risotto recipe I developed. With its rough pale greenish and blueish skin it might look suspicious at first, but the skin hides a lovely and succulent squash within.

The method for making this dish is basically the same as making risotto. The only thing is that you would use pearled spelt instead of arborio rice. I'm a big fan of pearled barley, and have now also noticed that pearled spelt is an equally brilliant ingredient for cooking vegetarian dishes.

This is what you'll need:

1 smallish crown prince squash
150 g peeled and cooked chestnuts
2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp vegetable stock powder + 1l water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup pearled spelt
25 g butter
1 dl dry white wine
50 g emmental cheese
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

This is how to make this dish:

Prepare the squash: Peel and cut it into about 1 cm long dices and remove the seeds. Then finely chop the shallots and garlic cloves.

Make the vegetable stock by mixing vegetable stock powder with water and heating it up. You can also use any other vegetable stock.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and lightly sweat the shallots and garlic. Add the squash dices to the pan and heat through for a couple of minutes.

Add the butter to the pan and let it melt, then also add the pearled spelt to the pan. Once the spelt has absorbed the butter, add the wine and let it evaporate. Reduce the heat of the pan slightly.

Make first addition of a few ladles of the vegetable stock and let the risotto simmer slowly under the lid. Keep making vegetable stock additions, so that the risotto doesn't dry up, stirring often.

After about 20 minutes cooking add the chopped chestnuts and the seasoning. The grated cheese can go in more towards the end, when the spelt is already nice and cooked al dente. Add more of any seasoning (or wine or cheese), if you feel that it's needed.

Then just serve warm and enjoy!

Your VegHog

18 January 2014

Green pancakes with lime butter

This January feels like the longest month ever, and I have been quite busy. It's nice to be able to relax with cooking and blogging a bit, and thank goodness it's Saturday. 

I have been looking for inspiration and ideas in my cook books and online, and have been reading Yotam Ottolenghi's vegetarian cookery book Plenty a lot. I have tried quite a few recipes from that book, and none of them have disappointed so far. A recipe that I saw in this book and altered slightly, Crusted harlequin squash wedges, is at the moment my most read post, so it must be a sign.

Also today I decided to try out one of his recipes, and this one is a real winner. Today's recipe is for absolutely fabulous green pancakes with spinach, spring onions and chili. (The recipe is also online here.) You know that I'm quite cautious with spices, so I reduced the chili amount from Ottolenghi's original a bit, and I didn't have any fresh coriander leaves handy either. Otherwise I followed the original instructions pretty closely. If you're planning to cook this, definitely also read through Ottolenghi's recipe and tips.

Lime butter:

100 g butter
1 lime (zest grated and 2 tbsp lime juice)
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
1 small garlic clove
¼ tsp chili flakes

This lime butter is a spectacular one! Remember this for the future as well when you need a seasoned butter, and when wouldn't you? Only a couple of simply steps are needed for making it.

Grate the lime zest and press the juice, also chop the garlic. Beat the butter at room temperature and then add the other ingredients to it.

Shape a sausage shape of the butter and let it rest in the fridge. This is that one done, and you can advance to pancake making.


250 g spinach
110 g self-raising flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 eggs
50 g butter
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
150 ml milk
6 spring onions
1 green chili
Olive oil for frying

Chop the spring onions and chilies finely, and wilt the spinach in a pan with little water. 

Drain the spinach and chop it small as well.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, eggs, melted butter, salt, cumin and milk into a batter, and then also add the spring onions, chili and spinach and whisk some more.

Heat olive oil in a pan and fry the pancakes for a few minutes on each side until they are crispy and golden brown and cooked fully through.

For serving place some of the lime butter on the top and enjoy this goodness! I love it!

Your VegHog