29 March 2014

Oven tomatoes

Do you want to have gorgeous home made oven tomatoes in style of sun-dried tomatoes? If you are willing to try, these oven tomatoes make a really nice side to many dishes. They are slow cooked in the oven with a lovely herb seasoning. This recipe is from the vegetarian cookbook Gemüse satt! by Alice Hart (p. 242).

500g medium vine tomatoes
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves
1tsp sea salt
½tsp black pepper
1tsp sugar
2tbsp olive oil

Cut the tomatoes in half and place on a baking tray lined with a baking parchment.

Sprinkle the seasoning and olive oil on them. I added the finely chopped garlic cloves on the tomatoes after one hour baking.

Bake at 110C for about 3-4 hours (depending on the size of the tomatoes) and enjoy the beautiful aroma coming from the oven.

These can be enjoyed in a whole variety of ways: in salads, in baking breads, with pastas...

Your VegHog

28 March 2014

Mini vegetable quiches

I'm visiting my family in Finland and we are celebrating my grandfather's amazing 90th birthday tomorrow. I made these mini vegetable quiches for the coffee table as a savoury treat for the guests. As we had so much to prepare, I cut a few corners and used ready made pastry, which meant that these quiches are hardly any work, have a look!

This recipe makes about 16 muffin case sized mini quiches.


400g shortcrust pastry or puff pastry

1 bell pepper

1 onion

250g mixed vegetables cut in matchstick shape at about 2cm length (carrot, potato, parsnip, swede, also a frozen vegetable mix will do)

100g emmental

2 eggs

2dl cream

1tbsp oil

1tsp salt

1/2tsp black pepper

Fresh parsley leaves


Chop the vegetables, bell pepper and onion finely and cook them in little oil until all excess fluis has cooked off and the vegetables are soft. Let it cool, and then mix the grated emmental to it and season with salt, pepper and parsley.

Roll the pastry out thinly and cut small squares of it and press each of them into muffin cases. Pre-bake the crusts at 200C for about 5-10 minutes until the pastry becomes little bit puffy.

Beat the eggs and mix them with the cream, you can add the seasoning also to this mix, if you prefer.

Put the vegetable and cheese mix into the pastry cases and pour some egg and cream mix into each one, about 2 teaspoons.

Bake at 200C for about 20 minutes and they are done.

Greetings from Finland! Your VegHog


27 March 2014

Mixed bean and sweetcorn chilli

I have made a vegetarian chilli again. The butter beans and black beans were the main ingredients in this one, but I also added some sweetcorn to it. Use more chillies than mentioned in this recipe, if you prefer really spicy food, as I like my chilli a bit milder. I normally make a bigger batch so that I can have some left as next day's lunch. I think that this kind of chilli is also a nice dish to offer to any vegetarian dinner guests you might have. 

So this is how it goes.

7 small shallots
5 garlic cloves
1 green chilli
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
250 g tomatoes
400 g butter beans (1 can)
400 g black beans (1 can)
400 g sweetcorn (1 can)
140 g double concentrated tomato purée
150 g Red Leicester cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cocoa powder
2 tsp vegetable stock powder
1 lime's juice

Chop the shallots, garlic cloves, green chilli and tomatoes small.

Cook the shallots, garlic and chilli in olive oil until soft. Then add the following seasoning: ground coriander, ground cumin and paprika, and stir for a minute or so. Then add the chopped tomatoes, butter beans, black beans, sweetcorn and tomato purée, and simmer under lid for at least 30 minutes, but the cooking time can be even longer.

Season later with salt, cocoa powder, vegetable stock powder and lime juice. Add more of any of the spices to taste. Once you are happy that the flavours have blended nicely and everything is cooked, stir in the cheese.

Serve with rice, nachos, tortillas, anything you like... what is your favourite serving suggestion?


Your VegHog

25 March 2014

Roasted aubergine with pomegranate and buttermilk sauce

This recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi's vegetarian cookbook Plenty (p. 110-111), of which I'm a great fan. The original recipe Aubergine with buttermilk sauce can also be found here. The taste of this dish is out of this world, and when I first made it I thought, I'd never eat anything else ever again. In the meanwhile my views might be less extreme, but still, this is one beautiful dish and I can't wait to make it again!

I didn't change much from the original, but here's my version anyway.

2 large aubergines
80ml olive oil
2tsp lemon thyme leaves
1 pomegranate
Sea salt
Black pepper

Ingredients for the sauce

140ml buttermilk
100g Greek yoghurt
1tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove


It's easy to start with the sauce as you only need to chop the garlic and then just stir all the ingredients together. The sauce can be placed to the fridge while you are preparing the aubergines.

Cut the aubergines in half and make diamond shape cuts to the inside of them, be careful not to pierce the skin. Place them in a baking dish and brush with the olive oil until all of the oil has absorbed into the aubergines. Sprinkle some lemon thyme, salt and pepper on the top and roast at 200C for about 35-40 minutes. Let them cool after the roasting.

Spread the sauce on the aubergines and sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on for serving. You can also sprinkle some additional olive oil and lemon thyme on the top. Then enjoy this beautiful dish!

Your VegHog

24 March 2014

Fried potatoes with leeks and mushrooms

Occasionally I want to travel in time back to the 1980s, and reminiscent wonderful working class grub from Finland. These fried potatoes qualify as such, in this post I have only changed them a little bit by adding leeks, and serving them with mushrooms (that's not quite traditional). My second excursion into the world of fried potatoes happened in Germany, and I do appreciate this humble dish very much. Normally you would only make this dish from leftover cooked potatoes, but sometimes it's worth making them from scratch. Today I'm flying to Finland for a short holiday, so this is a great lunch before the flight.

I have divided the ingredients into three sections as I started preparing these components in three different pans.

Fried potatoes:
650g potatoes
4 shallots
1tbsp vegetable oil
½tsp paprika
1tsp salt
½tsp black pepper
1tsp thyme

Leek supplement:
3 leeks
2 shallots
3 garlic cloves
24g butter
50ml dry cider

Mushroom side:
200g baby chestnut mushrooms
1 garlic clove
1tbsp olive oil
½tsp vegetable stock powder + 50ml water
1tsp parsley
A splash of white wine

Boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes with the peels on so that they become almost cooked. After the boiling peel them, if the peel is too thick for your taste. I wouldn't peel for example new potatoes, and even others can be left with the peels on. Quarter or slice them generously.

Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan and start frying the potatoes in the pan at medium heat. They are supposed to get crispy and brown on the surface, but take care that the temperature isn't too hot and stir them occasionally. The potatoes also need to fully cook, so no need for haste. When the potatoes are nearly cooked, season them with paprika, salt, black pepper and thyme.

Slice the leeks, shallots and garlic (divide the garlic for the leeks and the mushrooms that are to be cooked separately). Heat the butter in another pan and sauté the shallots and garlic in there; later add the leeks and cider and let simmer under the lid.

Keep the mushrooms as whole and cook them in olive oil with one chopped garlic clove. Add the white wine and vegetable stock, and let it also simmer slowly under the lid by occasionally stirring. Season with parsley and maybe with additional salt, if the stock isn't salty enough.

Once you're happy with all the components, combine the potatoes and leeks and serve them with the mushrooms on the side.


Your VegHog

23 March 2014

Cauliflower and potato curry – Aloo Gobi

I really love vegetarian curry dishes, and today's recipe is a favourite of mine, a basic Aloo Gobi, an Indian style cauliflower and potato curry. I'm not claiming to be an expert in Indian cuisine, or even close, but I like to try. I happen to live close to a good vegetarian Indian restaurant, so out of convenience I rarely need to cook my own curries. This one is fairly easy, so I would encourage you to try to make it too!


400 g potatoes
1 cauliflower
200 g carrots
2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
Fresh ginger (similar amount to the garlic)
1-2 small dried chillies
250 g tomatoes
70 g cashew nuts
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves

Naan bread

Either use 1½ tbsp of a ready made Garam Masala spice mix, or make your own with the following instructions:

Garam Masala spice mix

4 tbsps coriander seeds
2½ tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
3-4 large black cardamom pods
¾ tsp cloves
¾ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp crushed bay leaves
1½ tsp dry ginger (don't toast)

I especially enjoyed making the Garam Masala spice mix.

Toast all the ingredients apart from the ginger powder for a few minutes in a dry, heavy frying pan on a medium heat, until they get slightly darker. Be careful that the pan isn't too hot. After the toasting remove the pods of cardamom, keeping the seeds, and grind the spices together. Add the ginger powder to the mix.

This makes about three times the amount of the spice mix needed for this dish, but I froze the left overs to be used again soon.


Finely chop the tomatoes, shallots, garlic, fresh ginger and chilli. Cube the potatoes, slice the carrots and cut off the cauliflower florets. Coarsely crush the cashew nuts, keeping lots of large bits to add texture.

Cook the shallots, garlic, fresh ginger and chilli with a little vegetable oil in a large pan until soft. Add the Garam Masala to the pan and then the tomatoes.

After a little while add the cashew nuts, potatoes, cauliflower and carrots and simmer under the lid until the vegetables are fully cooked and the spices have developed their flavours nicely. Add small amounts of water to the pan when needed. That will make the potatoes cook quicker. However try not to rush this dish as it's nicer after a longer simmering.

Season the curry with turmeric and fresh coriander leaves. Serve with warm naan bread, or you could also pair it with some rice.

Your VegHog

22 March 2014

Winchester Real Ale & Cider Festival 2014

The VegHog visited the Winchester Real Ale & Cider Festival yesterday at the historic Winchester Guildhall. The guildhall was packed with beer and cider casks, also foreign bottled beers were available, a food court with even some veggie options, and live music. The atmosphere was cheery and uplifting.

I wanted to share some tasting notes with you of the ales and ciders I tried.

Flowerpots, Cheriton Hampshire: Edge of Darkness 4,8%
  • first impression: pretty good!
  • dark, reddish brown
  • aroma of hops and caramels
  • German malt character with a long bitter finish
  • almost like Altbier
Highland Brewing, Orkney Scotland: Island Hopping 3,9%
  • pale
  • golden with a lemony fresh hoppy zing
  • some grassy notes, like a Highland meadow in the morning
Dancing Man, Southampton Hampshire: Pilgrim's Pale 3,9%
  • fruity mango nose
  • explosion of tropical fruits with a moderate bitterness
  • fresh, quenching mouth feel
  • papaya and citrus flavours also from the hops
Downton, Downton Wiltshire: Slovenian Dream 4,5%
  • pale
  • light mouth feel
  • grassy hop character
Vibrant Forest, Lymington Hampshire: Pale Ale Citra 5,0%
  • pine and resin character from the hops
  • long bitter resiny after taste with grapefruit

Dan y Graig, Grosmont Monmouthshire: Dan y Graig 6,0%
  • cloudy cider
  • medium, without being too sweet
So all in all I had some delightful tasting experiences.

Your VegHog

20 March 2014

Chanterelle focaccia

Focaccia is a fine style of bread, quick to make and only your imagination limits what to top it with. I made a chanterelle mushroom variation, which is slightly different to the typical ones, but it worked very well. I had to use dried chanterelles, but do use fresh ones whenever you can get any, as they are much better. Their distinctive flavour is present in the dried mushrooms, but it's just not the same.

10g dried chanterelles
500ml wheat flour
1tbsp dry yeast
200ml water
1tsp sugar
1tsp salt
2tbsp olive oil
20g grated emmental
Sea salt

Mix the flour and yeast, then add the lukewarm water, sugar, salt and olive oil. Knead the dough and let it rise for about 30 minutes under a tea towel.

Soak the mushrooms for about 10 minutes, drain and cook briefly in a pan until the excess liquid has evaporated.

Hand-stretch the dough on a baking tin lined with baking parchment.

Sprinkle the grated cheese, rosemary, thyme, sea salt and chanterelles on the top.

Bake at 220C for about 20 minutes.

Serve with a salad, soup or stew, or just on its own.

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

19 March 2014

Macaroni casserole

This is a different version of macaroni cheese without a creamy sauce and with added soy mince. This one is quick an easy to make and a perfect dinner for busy weekdays.

WARNING! This recipe makes two large oven dishes, so if there aren't enough eaters, half the amounts or prepare as cheap eats and freeze for future use.


1,5 cups soy mince
1tsp vegetable stock powder
2tbsp soy sauce
3 shallots
3 garlic cloves
2 bell peppers
1tbsp olive oil
2tsp salt
1tsp white pepper
1tsp paprika
1tbsp parsley
500g macaroni
300g Red Leicester and Cheddar cheese mix grated


Hydrate the soy mince in water with added vegetable stock powder and soy sauce for about 15 minutes.

Chop the shallots, garlic and peppers and cook them in olive oil until soft. Add the drained soy mince to the pan and season. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes to let the flavours blend.

Boil the macaroni in water until done. Then add it to the soy mince and stir.

Place everything into large oven dishes and cover with grated cheese.

Bake at 200C for 15 minutes until the cheese has melted and is golden brown.


Your VegHog

17 March 2014


It's Mojito Monday! What do you mean there's no such thing as a Mojito Monday? Well, then we'll just have one now anyway.

Mojito is a much loved refreshing cocktail by many, one of its big fans was the American author Ernest Hemingway, and The VegHog also belongs to the club.

A Mojito normally contains five ingredients: rum, mint, lime, fizzy water and sugar. These are the ones that I also used without measuring, just throw them all into a jug and enjoy! Just be a little careful with the rum, or make it alcohol free if you prefer.

This is today's post in its brevity, no further explanations needed!

Your VegHog

P.S. Happy St. Patrick's Day with this green drink!

16 March 2014

Leek potatotto

What an earth is a leek potatotto?? Well, it is nothing but a leek and potato stew made in style of a risotto, the potato cubes substituting the rice. I just wanted to be a little bit whimsical with the naming of the dish, hopefully I haven't repelled any readers because of it. This is a lovely basic dish that renews the traditional and functional leek and potato pairing, and it's easy to make as well. From my description you will notice that the method is very much the same as making a risotto.

Only quite basic ingredients are needed, and this is how it goes:

3 shallots
3 garlic cloves
2 leeks
4 spring onions
1tbsp olive oil
750g new potatoes
25g butter
1dl dry cider
1l vegetable stock
Fresh parsley
1½tsp salt
1tsp black pepper
½tsp paprika
125g smoky cheddar

Chop the shallots, garlic cloves, leeks and spring onions finely. Start cooking them at medium heat in olive oil. Prepare one litre of warm vegetable stock, some of the parsley can already be added to the stock.

Dice the new potatoes into very small cubes (about 6-8mm per side), peel them only, if the skin is thick. Add the butter to the pan once the other components are cooked soft. Once the butter has melted, add the potato cubes. Keep cooking for a further five minutes and then add the cider. Let it evaporate and add a few ladles of the warm vegetable stock. Keep simmering slowly under the lid and make vegetable stock additions whenever the contents threaten to get too dry, also stir often.

Cook until the potatoes are fully cooked and the flavour has developed nicely. Season with some more fresh parsley, salt, black pepper and paprika, also add the smoky cheddar towards the end.

Serve warm and enjoy! This is real comfort food for me!

Your VegHog

14 March 2014

Falafel feast

Finally the weekend is here, and more time can be spent in the kitchen! Why not make a falafel feast for your loved ones like I made recently. Some years ago I'd had enough of falafel. Quite often they were the only, or the best, vegetarian alternative available, and so I thought that I had already eaten more than my share. However now I started thinking that I should give them another chance, and decided to make my own. It turned out that I still like them very much and will definitely have them more often again.

As an inspiration and guideline I read quite a few falafel recipes, but mainly based my own version on the Guardian article How to cook the perfect falafel and a recipe in the wonderful cookbook Veggiestan by Sally Butcher. The making of the falafel is surprisingly simple, and you can combine them with pretty much anything.

So this is how I made mine, and the recipe makes about 15 falafel.

2 cups dried chickpeas
195g broad beans (1 can)
5 garlic cloves
4 spring onions
15g fresh parsley
15g fresh coriander
1tsp salt
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp baking powder
Vegetable oil for frying

Soak the chickpeas overnight. Many recipes suggested that the chickpeas don't need to be pre-boiled, but I boiled them for 20 minutes anyway. The main reason being that I don't have a good food processor, just my old hand mixer. You can decide which version you prefer.

Chop the garlic and the spring onions and remove any large stalks of the herbs. Then just purée all the ingredients together into a paste that should be easy to shape with your hands.

Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan (or you can deep fry these) and fry the falafel on both sides until crispy.

This is how simple it is!

Serve the falafel with: homemade hummus, tahini, salad with mixed leaves, heirloom tomatoes and shallot rings, char-grilled peppers with harissa coating (chopped peppers first char-grilled on both sides, then brushed with harissa and baked in the oven for 20 minutes), char-grilled halloumi and pitta bread.


Your VegHog

11 March 2014

Marinated tofu and pomegranate salad

Here is just a quick salad idea, so without much ado: I baked tofu in the oven and marinated it with harissa, served it warm with some nice fresh salad ingredients, and then this creation was ready to be shared. I really like the complimenting flavours of harissa and pomegranate together, and fruit is always a good idea on a salad.

400g tofu
4 spring onions
100g pea shoots and baby leaf salad
1 pomegranate
Vegetable oil

4tsp harissa (smoky, less hot variety)
2tsp honey
2tsp olive oil

Dice the tofu into medium sized cubes (about 1,5cm sides; they will shrink a bit in the oven) and brush them with little vegetable oil. Roast in the oven at 175C for about one hour until the cubes start to get a crispy surface, turn them roughly every 15 minutes.

Make the marinade by mixing harissa, honey and olive oil together, and brush the tofu cubes all over with it. Roast them for further 20 minutes at 150C.

In the meanwhile prepare the other ingredients: chop the spring onions, wash the salad and remove the pomegranate seeds and place them on a plate.

When the tofu is done, sprinkle it warm on the salad and serve. You can also try substituting the tofu with halloumi to get some variation. Enjoy!

Your VegHog

9 March 2014

Gnocchi bake

This recipe is quite good for a weekday meal. It's not too much work and the result is a nice hearty meal that has the comfort food element for me. I like making this sort of dishes after a long day at work.

1kg gnocchi
100g spinach
3 shallots
2 garlic cloves
3 frozen pesto cubes / 3tbsp pesto 
1tbsp olive oil
1tsp salt
½tsp grated nutmeg
150g grated mozzarella

Chop the shallots and garlic and cook them in olive oil until soft. Add the spinach and then the pesto (I used my convenient frozen pesto cubes) and cook until the spinach has wilted. Season with salt and nutmeg.

Boil the gnocchi in water until they float on the surface and mix them with the spinach.

Place it all in an oven dish, cover with mozzarella and bake at 180C for about 20 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. And it's all done!

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

8 March 2014


Today is the first really warm day of the year here in Southern England, bright sunshine at +15C! It's incredible what a boost such a weather can give you. Here are some photos taken in the park next to my house when I enjoyed the beautiful weather outside. The daffodils and crocuses are blooming beautifully and the air has the very fragrance of spring.

Inspired by the sunshine I also washed the glass panels of the balcony and cleaned the pots to prepare it for a new urban growing season. I have some plants already propagating in small pots indoors, and I can't wait to move them outside. I have sown some seeds from the Psychedelic Salad Kit and can hopefully expect some funky looking vegetables later this year.

Enjoy the nice weather everyone!

Your VegHog