29 February 2016

Eat Your Greens – February Round Up

So my first month of hosting Eat Your Greens has come to an end and it's time to write the round up. It's hard to believe that February is already ending, but I'm quite glad that I get an extra leap day for writing this post nevertheless.

Thank you so much everyone for participating in the challenge, they were all beautiful entries! Next month it's again Shaheen's turn to host, so keep sharing those lovely green vegetable recipes with us.

So here are the February recipes, click the links to get to the full posts:

Lisa from Lisa's Kitchen shared a vibrant Quinoa Salad with Vegetables and Cashews with us. This is a very comforting and filling winter salad with roasted root vegetables, quinoa, different seeds and tomatoes. It contains Brussels sprouts and green kale as the green vegetables. I would want to eat this anytime, as it's a salad just after my own heart. I really like such warm and cold salads.


Emily from Cooking for Kishore blog shared her interesting post Spinach Chili Khachapuri (Georgian Egg Boats) with the challenge. I especially like the story behind this, how she got acquainted with the dish in her childhood through a friend. The homemade pastry contains a spicy mixture of feta, mozzarella, chili chutney and spinach and the baked dish is finished with a quail's egg on the top. This does sound like an amazing dish and it looks very good too. I definitely wouldn't mind trying this.


My Eat Your Greens co-host Shaheen from Allotment to Kitchen cooked a Butternut, Kale and Sweetcorn Stew with Nooch Dumplings. I really like stews at the moment and this one seems to be particularly hearty. The green vegetable here is curly kale and the stew itself is very rich and comforting sounding containing butternut squash and sweetcorn. Shaheen used vegetarian suet to make the herby dumplings, which is a new method for me, but sounds like it's a good binding agent for dumplings. You can find more information about this method on her blog.


My own contribution was an obviously green choice Thai green curry. I really adore vegan Thai curries and can't get enough of them at the moment. I used pak choi and asparagus in this one and of course made the green paste with green chillies, Thai basil and coriander.


That was the February round up for Eat Your Greens, I hope you liked it.

Your VegHog

28 February 2016

Craft Beer Rising London


Here are a few photos from my visit yesterday to Craft Beer Rising beer and cider festival in London. This year I thought that it was even better than ever, as they had moved it into a slightly bigger and brighter part of the Old Truman Brewery. We tasted many different beers and only one cider, but it was very good.




The highlight of the festival for me were Mikkeller. I hadn't seen them on the list of the brewers in advance, so I wasn't expecting them to be there. Their Blueberry Bluebic and Peter, Pale and Mary Pale Ale were just amazing beers. I was sad that the bluebic sold out before I could have more, but on the other hand glad to see that it was successful.




Big Hug Brewery had some excellent beers once again and they are just such nice people, so it's a pleasure to support their brewery. Also by buying their beer you can save the rain forest at the same time.


From Goose Island we tasted this amazing stout, which has been aged in bourbon barrels. I might make a separate post about it later, as we also took a couple of bottles for take away, but it was just incredible, so not sure if I could find the right words to describe it.



As I mentioned we concentrated more on beers this time, but the new cider I detected is a really significant find and they had quite a proud cider section this year, which was nice to see. You might remember my recent review of the Caple Road cider. Well, they were there introducing their new dry version of the Caple Road! I really liked it, and I would expect to post more about this soon. 




Also the food offering was better this year and we got to taste some yummy vegetarian street food like margherita calzones and Indian lentil snacks. I was so happy that we took a six pack of cheese and onion pies by Square Pie with us for the train journey back. No train snack has ever been better, I now also want to make some mini pies!


So that was my day out yesterday, today I'll be just chilling and cooking at home.





Your VegHog

25 February 2016

February feeling and food


Alright, I wanted to share a few things with you from my February food and drink, as the month is soon ending. I also want to remind you about the Eat Your Greens cooking challenge. There's still time to submit your February entries!

The food I've cooked this month and not posted on the blog has mainly been winterly comfort food, warming curries, roasts, soups, creamy sauces, home baked bread... here are some of the dishes depicted.





I've made this Balsamic onion and roasted pepper focaccia twice this month and have taken some to work in my lunchbox. The focaccia slices made quite a nice addition to the lunchbox and I actually ate them for breakfast. In this lunchbox there's also a stir fry with udon noodles and I soon want to share more udon noodle dishes with you, as I absolutely adore the wide udon at the moment.


Another interest of mine have been lambic beers, which are spontaneously fermented by wild yeasts and very interesting tasting. I already wrote an own post about the Spontanbasil, but I also loved this elderflower one. 


Other new items in my kitchen or old favourites that I want to show to you are:

Dried black badger peas – can't wait to get creative with those ones, they will surely make a good winter dish. Would you have any good suggestions for these?


My favourite tahini – I have recently grown fond of this tahini brand. It's very smooth, tasty and good quality, the jar only empties way too quickly.


Whole Earth organic cola and lemonade – I don't drink soft drinks much, but once or twice a week a refreshing drink is really nice. If you want some change, look out for the Whole Earth organic range. I really like these drinks and their art work.


Whole Earth organic peanut butter – This smooth organic peanut butter is also from Whole Earth and other variations also exist. I do use peanut butter for dips and sauces, but not so much on breads.


Spelt couscous – I just wanted to try what spelt couscous is like and bought a small packet. It seemed to be slightly nuttier than normal couscous, unless I'm just imagining this.


Halen Môn Anglesey oak smoked sea salt – This is a beautiful product to add some smokiness to your dishes.


That's pretty much it for now. Do you have any favourites among these products? Have you detected any new lovely stuff recently?

Your VegHog

24 February 2016

Harlequin squash, lentil and carrot soup with Thai flavours


I really adore spicy Thai flavours in a soup (and other dishes!) and felt like it was time to cook such a soup again. It has still been fairly chilly here, which is weird, as it's soon March. Well I'm not complaining, because I still have the excuse to cook wonderful winter food.

So I have made similar soups to this many times, but once again I altered the recipe slightly. I used harlequin squash as the main ingredient, but also added carrots and red lentils to the soup to give it a bit more substance. This was such a comforting soup also due to the fragrant fresh Thai basil and coriander and here's how it was made.

Ingredients

2 onions
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 red chillies
4 garlic cloves
2 cm ginger (roughly same amount as garlic)
1 harlequin squash
1 l vegetable stock
½ cup red lentils
4 carrots
1 lemongrass stalk
3 kaffir lime leaves
160 ml coconut cream
Juice of ½ lime
Soy sauce to taste
1 tsp palm sugar
Handful of Thai basil
Handful of fresh coriander

Method

Chop the onions and cook in vegetable oil until they are soft.

Add the finely chopped garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for about one minute more.

Cut the harlequin squash into cubes and the carrots into slices and add them into the pan.

Sauté them for a while and then add the vegetable stock followed by the lentils.

Add the finely chopped lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.

Let the soup simmer under the lid at moderate heat.

After a while also add the coconut cream into the soup.

Season the soup with lime juice, soy sauce and palm sugar.

Chop fresh coriander and Thai basil and add them to the pan towards the end.

Once the squash, carrots and lentils are soft, purée the soup and taste if any more seasoning needs to be added.

Serve warm and enjoy!


Your VegHog

21 February 2016

Cooking video - Portobello pizza


I opened my own Youtube channel today, as I'm planning to occasionally publish a cooking video. I once already posted a purple sprouting broccoli and potato soup video and it was great fun making it. Of course it's much more work editing the videos, but I like it. You can find my channel here

So today I filmed myself making portobello pizzas with thin spelt-wheat crust. I didn't use tomato sauce in these, but just put tomato slices onto the base instead. I made 3 pizzas from these ingredients. It depends on the size of each pizza and the thickness of the crust, how many you'll get.

Dough:

200 g spelt flour
200 g wheat flour
2 tbsp dry yeast
1 tsp salt
300 ml lukewarm water
3 tbsp olive oil

Filling:

3 portobello mushrooms
200 g tomatoes
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
Fresh basil leaves
Salt
Ground black pepper
250 g grated mozzarella

Enjoy the video!

video

Your VegHog

20 February 2016

Gardening thoughts


While the strawberry plants start pushing through in the pots on the balcony, I start wondering what I should plant this year. I'm quite indecisive at the moment, but I think I will definitely want to grow some tomatoes, as they have been quite successful on the balcony in previous years. Obviously I hope that the strawberries will actually make it through and there will be some small early strawberry crops. Similar to last year, I think I'll pass on the courgettes, as pretty as the flowers are, but the plants easily take over the whole balcony.

I would also like to grow more edible flowers this year. They are nice for the visiting bees and pretty in dish presentations and to look at.

But what else...? What are your gardening plans and would you have any tips or ideas for me? I guess I'll need to get started soon and also tidy up the balcony more, the glass windows should be cleaned the first thing.

On the picture there's a bit of inspiration from the previous years.

Your VegHog

Herbstick


I bought this extremely practical silicone herbstick from the Science museum in London. Fresh herbs and different herb mixtures can be frozen there for instant use. It's nice to store fresh herbs in this fashion as well, as they are very convenient to use for example for weekday meals.

I currently have in my herbstick a mixture for pasta, which consists of rocket, basil, garlic, olive oil and smoked paprika. I can't wait to add some to today's tomato and mozzarella ravioli dish.


18 February 2016

Balsamic onion and roasted pepper focaccia


I found these wonderful balsamic infused onions in the shop and had to try them. They were very good indeed and added a perfect flavour to my homemade focaccia. I paired the onions with some antipasti roasted peppers. This was a very nice bread as a side dish or a snack.

My focaccia recipe is so very easy and it can be made with many different toppings. This time I even added a bit of spelt flour into it to have a slightly darker bread. There's hardly any kneading and shaping in this recipe, the focaccia almost makes itself.

Ingredients

300 ml wheat flour
200 ml spelt flour
1 tbsp dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
200 ml lukewarm water
2 tbsp olive oil
Balsamic infused onions
Roasted peppers
20g grated vegetarian pasta cheese
Sea salt

Method

Mix the dry ingredients together, add the lukewarm water and olive oil and mix into a dough.

Stretch the dough onto a baking tray and let rise under a tea towel for about one hour.

Press lightly the halved balsamic infused onions and sliced roasted peppers into the dough and sprinkle some sea salt and grated vegetarian pasta cheese on the top.

Bake the focaccia at 220C for about 20 minutes.

And it's all done!



Your VegHog

17 February 2016

Jacket potato with pepper and soft cheese filling


The weather has been getting a little chillier here again, so I turn to my winter favourites like jacket potatoes for comfort and warmth. I have also been eating many soups and curries. I wouldn't mind if it stays cold for a while considering what lovely food I feel like eating then. What are your winter favourites?

So for these jacket potatoes with soft cheese filling, I chose the biggest baking potatoes that I could find. In my student days I quite often used to make this sort of bell pepper infused soft cheese and added it to all sorts of dishes. I had been planning for quite a while now to use it as a filling for chunky baked potatoes and it actually worked rather well. I will certainly be making these again! I'm very fond of the whipped soft cheese due to its lightness.

Ingredients

4 large baking potatoes
Vegetable oil
Sea salt
3 orange bell peppers
2 onions
4 garlic cloves
Salt
Ground black pepper
300 g whipped soft cheese

On the side: A salad with blood oranges and mixed leaves


Method

Stab the potatoes several times each with a fork and roll them in an oil and sea salt mix. Place on a baking tray and bake until done.

Chop the onions and garlic finely and cut the bell peppers into cubes. Slow cook them in a pan until they are soft and season with salt and pepper. Let them cool and mix with the soft cheese. You can add some fresh basil into the mix, if you like. Put the mix into the fridge to wait for the potatoes.

Once the potatoes are done, fill them with the soft cheese and pepper mix and serve. I added a blood orange salad to the side for some additional freshness.


Your VegHog

16 February 2016

Mikkeller and Lindemans collaboration beer Spontanbasil


I got to know several beers from Mikkeller's Spontan range when I visited Copenhagen last Easter, so I was obviously directly curious when I saw a bottle of Mikkeller and Lindemans collaboration beer Spontanbasil 6,0 % at my local beer shop. Obviously I had to buy it (and a second bottle in the meanwhile). It tasted so wonderful with such a strong basil flavour, it was just deligthful. It almost doesn't taste like beer at all, just like a refreshing basil drink.

I just booked my next visit to Copenhagen and I can't wait to have more of this and the other beers from Mikkeller's Spontan range. I'm so excited to go there again in March and hope to post many lovely Copenhagen posts for you.

Here are my tasting notes and impressions:

- the cork already heavily smells of basil
- the beer itself smells like an herb garden, herby with some lemon
- there's an initial punch of sour, which is directly followed by a strong basil taste underlined with fine hops
- there is a fresh lemon taste throughout
- the initial taste is very bold and powerful, lambic sourness leading to a fragrant and refreshing aftertaste
- there's more basil than hops in this beer
- the sourness comes from the lambic style of brewing, wild yeast is used to ferment the beer

I can't get enough of this beer and can't help planning which dishes it would compliment the most, would insalata caprese be too much of a clichee with this?