31 July 2014

Un pique-nique sur les côtes du Rhône

Firstly I would like to apologise for my poor French in the title, I'm not at all sure it's correct, but I try to get better with the language. Any tips from you, my readers? Anyway what I wanted to say in the title was something like a picnic by the Rhône, as that is what I did the other day. I didn't come around posting anything yet from this holiday, I've been just too busy admiring the wonderful sites and there are plenty of those in Avignon alone. So an update for those of you who missed my subtle hints of my upcoming Provence holiday. I'm currently based in Avignon for a week and take trips to the surrounding towns and enjoy the local vegetables, veggie food and views. I'm sure there will be a few posts more, as I'm already totally in love with this place.

Already before the trip I had listed a picnic by Rhône as a must-do, so one day I gathered nice bread, crisps, cheeses and of course wine from the shops (there are plenty of beautiful shops for local produce!) and headed to the opposite shore of le pont d'Avignon, Pont Saint-Bénézet (listen to the song here), to enjoy these products. It was a truly lovely outing in that hot weather but with a gentle breeze coming from the river and large trees offering shade. As a dessert I had very tasty lemon and apple tarts from a nearby bakery.

Here are a few impressions from my small afternoon picnic and the river Rhône in Avignon.




25 July 2014

Strawberry-lime cider ice lollies

The hot weather continues and I'm still trying to find the best cooling drinks and food. I now started making my own ice lollies as I bought a set of four of these silicone ice lolly moulds, and they are awfully practical for making all kinds of different fruity and boozy refreshing ice lollies.

Rekorderlig strawberry-lime cider is one of my summer favourites to have in a bar when it's really hot, and with some added fresh mint and lime it's even better. That is the reason why I chose these ingredients to make my ice lollies.

I got four ice lollies out of these:

500 ml Rekorderlig strawberry-lime cider (1 bottle) 
A few small mint leaves
½ lime

First I poured the cider into a large jug and let it stand around a while, and stirred so that the carbonation mostly disappeared. During this time you can already add the mint leaves and tiny lime pieces into the cider.

Fill the drink with the greens into the ice lolly moulds and freeze. Enjoy the frozen goods when you need the cooling most.

Your VegHog

24 July 2014

Gallia Paris Bière Blonde

I fondly remember my trip to Paris earlier this year, and I still had this Gallia Paris beer that I bought there. I have been saving it for a special occasion, but I drank it now. I think the occasion is special enough as I'm going to France again next week! I can't wait to try speaking French again, let alone visiting all the food markets! I'm sure there will be posts about that later. By the way, all photos in this post were shot in Paris.

Gallia Paris Bière Blonde is a nice tasting and refreshing pilsner with 5,5 % of alcohol and it's a perfect beverage in Paris and beyond. 

Here are my tasting notes:

  • caramel malt notes
  • fruity esters
  • grassy components
  • dry mineral character
  • the freshness of a radish (No, I'm not kidding you or trying to please the French, I really think the flavour was there!)

Have a taste if you can get this beer anywhere.

Your VegHog

23 July 2014

Blueberry and strawberry cooler

It doesn't get much simpler than this drink or smoothie – there are only three ingredients! I can't believe what a great and healthy breakfast this is in this hot weather.

Just mix the berries into a smoothie with the crushed ice and there you have a cooling summer drink.

I used these ingredients:

100 g blueberries
100 g strawberries
Crushed ice

I slipped two teaspoons of sea-buckthorn powder into the second version, and it was also very good. You can use any of your favourite berries and fruits to make a fruit cooler. What would your dream combination be?

Stay cool!

Your VegHog

22 July 2014

Mixed summer salad

It was a very warm day yesterday and I didn't feel like eating much. I had a couple of rye bread slices with cheese for breakfast and then skipped lunch. This salad was my dinner, and it really was enough. I scavenged my fresh vegetable section and the dry cupboards and found these appealing ingredients to combine in a salad.

One of my favourite additions to this salad are the fresh new season garden peas. When I was a child I wouldn't love any summer snack more than peeling pea pods and eating the content, preferably directly on the field where I picked them. That always was a highlight of the summer when the peas started to ripen.

The balsamic pearls look fascinating and they are a fine thing to be added to salads, otherwise I kept the dressing simple. The balsamic pearls that I purchased are suitable for vegetarians, but I would look out for gelatine as some versions might contain it.

I'm only listing the ingredients used without the amounts, as you can use whatever you happen to have and put more or less of some ingredients to the salad. So, here's what went into my salad:
  • garden peas of the new season
  • sweet baby peppers
  • red & gold santini tomatoes
  • black olives
  • mixed baby salad leaves
  • toasted pine nuts
  • mozzarella
  • salt & pepper, olive oil with balsamic pearls as the dressing
  • garlic bread on the side

Have you made a more or less random summer salad as a main meal this year?

I have no idea yet what to eat today as it seems to be even hotter. I might cook some of my own courgettes from the balcony.

Your VegHog

21 July 2014

Tomato tart

I needed a quick snack in between for my guests, and as I am a fan of savoury pies, I made this one up as I went along. It was very well received, which is always nice, and I feel like I should've made more. That's how quickly it disappeared.

This is a great tart for the summer, and you can even use some colourful heirloom tomatoes on this to make it look more interesting. This also is a very basic tart and doesn't require much effort at all. Here are my instructions.


4 shallots
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp Herbes de Provence
400 g shortcrust pastry
150 g extra mature Cheddar
100 g cherry tomatoes


Chop the shallots and garlic finely and cook them in olive oil until soft. Season them with black pepper, salt and Provençal herbs. Allow the mix to cool.

Roll out the pastry thinly and place it into a Ø 25cm pie tin that has been lined with baking parchment. It's even easier, if you buy are a readily rolled pastry.

Chop the tomatoes into halves and grate the cheese. Mix the shallots with the grated cheese and spread on the pastry base and place the tomato halves on the top.

Bake at 180C for about 40 minutes. This tart is best to be served warm, but we also took some slices on a New Forest picnic and they were perfectly fine as a cold snack as well. Maybe anything tastes really nice in these wonderful New Forest sceneries, though.

Your VegHog

20 July 2014

Ottolenghi: W is for watercress

Has anyone read the recent article “Yotam Ottolenghi's A to Z of summer veg, with recipes to match” in the Guardian? It is a very inspiring one, yet not all recipes are fully vegetarian. 

I adore Ottolenghi's vegetarian recipes anyway, and now I found a new favourite among his creations. This recipe in the section W is for watercress instantly caught my eye, and I tried to cook it. The recipe is for a great salad: Roasted courgette with watercress, pistachios and parmesan (vegetarian pasta cheese in my version). I think that the spicy watercress is a really good combination with the mild courgette, and lemon goes with both. The vibrant pesto style watercress paste is also gorgeous. I can see myself eating it with pasta or new potatoes as well.

Here you can read my version of the recipe, although it's quite close to Ottolenghi's. I used baby courgettes as I could get some local ones and they look so cute.


400 g baby courgettes
75 ml olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
100 g watercress
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
50 g pistachios
50 g vegetarian pasta cheese
2 tsp lemon juice


Cut the baby courgettes into halves and place them on a roasting tin. Sprinkle two tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper on the top and shake lightly. Bake at 220C for about 15-20 minutes so that the courgettes have roasted flavour and brown roasting marks, but still have a certain bite to them. Turn them occasionally during the roasting and allow them cool afterwards.

Purée the rest of the olive oil with the garlic, lemon zest and 2/3 of the watercress into a smooth paste and pour it on the cooled courgettes.

Chop the pistachios roughly and roast them in the oven.

Combine all ingredients and add the rest of the watercress to the salad.

Make shavings of vegetarian pasta cheese and squeeze the lemon juice on the top.

The salad is now ready to be served.


Your VegHog

19 July 2014

Rose cocktail

This summer heat forced me to make a cocktail that is low on alcohol content (you can also make this fully free of alcohol, if you prefer), as I needed desperate cooling down after the trip to the shops. It's extremely humid today and there might be thunderstorms later on.

I wanted to combine some flavours of the summer in this drink. I have admired the Fentimans lemonades and tonics on the shop shelves with the nice dog logo, and now I finally bought the rose lemonade and used it for this cocktail.

This is all you need for a quick refreshment:

500 ml sweet pear cider
275 ml rose lemonade
1 tbsp rhubarb cordial
Ice cubes
Rose petals

Mix the drink in a large jug and add the ice cubes and rose petals – done! 

Squeeze in one lime's juice for additional punch.

Keep cool!

Your VegHog

18 July 2014

Lemon and courgette risotto

My courgettes are growing nicely on the balcony, which means that it's time to cook with own produce again – exciting! Now the courgettes start coming in bulk, so it's good to have many different recipe ideas for them. I love my yellow courgettes, but I also planted green ones additionally. As I haven't made a risotto for a while, I decided to make one and the courgettes should play an important part in it. Lemon is a good complimenting flavour to courgettes, so I used lemon infused olive oil and pressed lemon juice as seasoning.

Sense the taste of summer with my lemon and courgette risotto!


250 g arborio rice
3 small courgettes (or one medium)
100 g sweet baby peppers
2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp lemon infused olive oil
1 l vegetable stock
250 ml dry white wine
25 g butter
25 g vegetarian pasta cheese
½ lemon's juice [add grated zest for more lemon flavour (optional)]
1 tbsp Herbes de Provence
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt


Cut the courgettes into thin slices and the baby peppers into small cubes. Also chop the shallots and garlic cloves finely. Warm the vegetable stock up.

Cook the shallots, peppers and garlic in one tablespoon of lemon infused olive oil for about 10 minutes, until they are pretty soft.

Add the butter and arborio rice and stir for a few minutes until the rice becomes translucent. Pour in the white wine and let it evaporate.

Add a few ladles of the warm vegetable stock and let simmer under lid. Stir often and add more vegetable stock when needed.

When the risotto is almost cooked, heat one tablespoon of lemon infused olive oil in a separate pan and cook the courgette slices in there for a few minutes. Don't cook them too long, as it's nice when they still have little bite to them. Add the courgettes to the risotto.

Season the risotto towards the end with grated vegetarian pasta cheese (vegetarian parmesan), lemon juice, Herbes de Provence, black pepper and salt. Add more white wine, if needed.

I served my risotto with a fruity halloumi salad (similar to the one in the previous post), which makes a great summer side dish.

What is your favourite vegetarian summer risotto combination?

Your VegHog