Fish Pie

I have finally moved to Edinburgh permanently! I am super happy to be here and even happier to tell you all that everything fell into place and I got myself a really cool job! I’m going to be a baker! I start in two days time and I can’t tell you all how excited I am to be surrounded by all things sweet, all day.

I was so happy to be in the city for Pride at the weekend too! I managed to get Logan and myself on to an accessible bus for the parade, so that he didn’t get too exhausted on his feet.

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Afterwards we celebrated by visiting Considerit for Pride Doughnuts, they were delicious and left us both in a sugar coma.

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Since my last update and recipe for Lobster Rolls, I’ve become obsessed with recreating fishy dishes with Hearts of Palm. I wanted to celebrate the successful move and job find by making something special with this magic ingredient, so I decided to go all out and see how it works in a fish pie.

Fish Pie

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Ingredients:

For the mash:

  • 4 large potatoes
  • non dairy butter
  • salt and pepper

For the filling:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 leeks, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 250ml non dairy cream
  • 2 cans Heart of Palm, sliced
  • 2 tsp capers, finely chopped
  • tsp of boullion powder
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 12g toasted nori sheets, finely sliced
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Start off by boiling the potatoes to make your mash. I did mine quickly in my pressure cooker and mashed with some spread, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a large pan, fry the onions and leeks until soft and caramelised. Add the garlic and fry for a few more minutes.
  3. Add the dill, parsley and cream to the onions and heat through. Once warm, add the hearts of palm, squeezing the slices between your fingers to flake them up.
  4. Add the capers, bouillion, dijon mustard, nutritional yeast and nori. Stir through, add a little water if you need to.
  5. Once the sauce has thickened slightly, season with salt and pepper and taste before assembling the pie.
  6. Heat the oven to 200C, pour the filling into a pie dish, top with the mash. I dragged a fork along the top and added some gluten free breadcrumbs to get the top nice and crispy, but this is optional. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

This pie was super tasty! It’s been so long since I had a fish pie!

I only flaked up half of the heart of palm and wish I had done that with all of it, whilst it was nice to have larger chunks of ‘fish’, they didn’t soften as I expected and were a little crunchy. The flaked up bits were soft and delicious though.

I reckon this would also work well with artichokes or butter beans. So definitely give it a go, even if you can’t get hold of the hearts of palm!

I’m hoping I’ll be back posting a little more regularly now. I visited Kotor in Montenegro last month and I’m hoping to do a post about the vegan eats I had there, as well as bombard you with all the cat photos I took. Stay tuned!

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Big Fat Lobster Rolls

I can’t believe the last time I updated was in January…and now here we are in May and I come skulking back to you all, dear readers.

Life has been hectic and stressful with a lot of change going on. Since the new year I moved all my belongings and my lovely cat Kobi to my Partner Logan’s flat in Edinburgh, ready for me to move along with them when I found work. Sadly my attempts to find work from a City 4 hours away have been unsuccessful and I’ve really been feeling the pressure as Logan has finally been diagnosed with ME/CFS. So, long story short, after a lot of stressing out, sobbing and uncertainty about what to do, I handed my notice in at the shop I have been working at for the last 5 years, with no job to go to. It’s absolutely terrifying but definitely the best decision I could make under the circumstances.

It was a relief that two days after making this very big and sudden decision, I was due to spend the weekend with Logan here in Edinburgh. It’s been reassuring to be here with him Plus, plenty of cat cuddles from Kobi and Bo has kept me going.

The evening I arrived, Logan met up with some family he has in Canada, who very kindly brought me back two pots of Old Bay Seasoning. This isn’t something you can get over here in the UK, unless you pay a fortune for it, so I was really chuffed that I finally had the opportunity to cook with it. It seems to be pretty popular in a lot of American/Canadian seafood recipes, though I’ve seen a lot of bloggers and vloggers chuck it in all sorts of dishes.

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I decided to combine this new seasoning with my approaching House Husband duties and prepare Logan a really delicious and reasonably healthy meal. We have been relying on Farm Foods Chick’n Poppers and my oil laden Mac n Cheese recipe for far too long now.

I looked up some vegan ‘fishy’ recipes and came across a lot of folk using Hearts of Palm as a Lobster substitute. I’ve heard of people using this stuff, but had no idea what it really was, or how easily it can be found here in the UK. Turns out, The Green Giant sell tins of it in most supermarkets (on the top shelf, which explains why I’ve never seen it!) at around £2.10 a can.

So what are Hearts of Palm? Well, they’re a crunchy vegetable that come from certain palm trees. They look a bit like white asparagus, they’re very subtle in flavour, which makes them pretty ideal to play around with for a fish substitute. The texture reminded me a lot like artichokes, I chopped them into slices and rubbed them between my hands, which caused them to flake a bit, perfect for that ‘fishy’ texture.

Anyway, enough going on, here is the recipe for you.

Lobster Rolls

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Ingredients:

For the mayo:

  • 1/4 cup cashews soaked in boiled water for 20 minutes
  • 1/4 cup plant milk or water
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • pinch of salt

For the Lobster:

  • 1 can Hearts of Palm
  • 1 large salad or vine tomato
  • 1 small packet of roasted nori sheets
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 tsp old bay seasoning

Everything else:

  • Fresh bread rolls
  • Lettuce
  • Pickles
  • Old Bay for sprinkling

Method:

  1. While the cashews are soaking, slice the Hearts of Palm before rubbing them through your fingers to flake them up into a bowl.
  2. Finely chop the tomato and add to the Palm along with the juice, salt and pepper and Old Bay Seasoning.
  3. Shred the Nori sheets with your hands and stir together.
  4. Add all of the mayonnaise ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth. Add more liquid if it’s a little too thick.
  5. Stir the mayonnaise into the Lobster, taste for seasoning.
  6. Prepare the rolls by cutting them in half and filling them with lettuce and pickles. Add the Lobster filling and sprinkle a little Old Bay on top before serving.

Serves 4

Oh gosh, this was such a huge success with both myself and Logan. Usually when I prepare something really tasty, all I get from my Scottish Beau is “s’alright”, which apparently is the highest of compliments in Scotland. Yesterday he could not stop going on about how much he enjoyed it, telling me I had “outdone” myself and that he thought it was really delicious. Whilst typing this up, he has messaged me from work to ask me if I will make it again for dinner tonight, which brings me a lot of joy.

I do think a lot of the flavour comes from the Old Bay. Now that I have tried it, I will try some of the recipes for making your own and see how they compare. The main flavours I got were celery salt and paprika/cayenne. If I find a great substitute, I will add the recipe to the blog.

Anyway, best get myself down to the shops before Logan returns so I can make him a big fat ‘Flobster Roll’ as he likes to call it.

 

 

Festive Eats

Hi folks!

Christmas/New Year is always an incredibly busy time for me working in retail, so along with exhausting shifts and travelling back and forth between Manchester and Edinburgh, I’ve had to let the blogging go for a few months.

Every year I hope that I can run through my plan for all the tasty foods I aim to scoff over the festive period. Every year I run out of time. I figured instead of just not mentioning all the delicious eats, I would mention it late so that later this year when folk are looking for ideas I can be all smooth and whip out the link to what I ate last time round.

This year was my first Christmas spent with my lovely new Partner, Logan. He isn’t vegan or vegetarian but was totally happy to let me cook him a delicious animal free feast for Christmas day, especially as he was working for a few hours. I wanted to impress him, so I really went for it…starters, a big roast with all the trimmings, dessert and an epic cheeseboard.

I had a vague idea that I wanted cream cheese and pastry involved for some of my starters, so bought that in, but ended up making up the starters on the day. I usually hate doing this but it worked out so well!

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First off I made some mini Filo Tarts, topped with Cream Cheese and Balsamic, Purple Sprouts. These were so simple, I just layered the filo, cut it into neat squares before spreading a little cream cheese on each one. I fried some tiny sprouts with shallots and garlic in a little oil, added some balsamic and then finished the pastries off with these. I baked them in an oven at 180 C for around 20 minutes, until browned and crisp. Finished them off with another drizzle of balsamic before serving.

The next starter I made was magical. I called these Chick’n Popper ‘n’ Pickle Parcels. It was super easy,  I just layered up that filo and wrapped Farm Foods Chick’n Poppers and sliced pickles in the filo to make a small parcel. Stuck the pastry down by wetting my fingers and then baked at 180 C for 20 minutes. These probably could have done with a brush of olive oil, but otherwise they were perfect.

I served these with some pre-bought frozen Vegan Wontons and Follow Your Heart Blue Cheese Sauce.

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The Main Course was a traditional Roast Dinner. Tofurkey was the main centre piece. It was pretty good though I do think I prefer either a homemade Wellington type thing or the VegiDeli roasts, this was a little dry despite me regularly basting it.

As I was in Scotland, I added some Macaroni Pies – these were simple, just my favourite mac n cheese wrapped in puff pastry.

Veggies included – Roast potatoes, Parsnips & Carrots roasted in butter & black pepper, Maple Mustard Brussel Sprouts, Mash Potato, Stuffing Balls, Pigs in Blankets and I added some extra Mac n Cheese because CARBS ARE LIFE.

We were so ridiculously full after this that we had to go and lie on our left sides for a while (a beautiful tip I learnt from my good chum Jenny Marie).

A few hours later we managed to tuck into some dessert, Chocolate Chestnut Torte. A favourite that I have made for Christmas before. It’s a super simple recipe and can be made well in advance if needed. Of course I left it last minute and stressed myself out on the day trying to get it to set on time.

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It was well worth the stress though, it was beautiful, so creamy and rich. I love it!

The only sad part was that we did not have any belly space for a cheese board. I had invested a fair amount of cash into a decent cheese selection and I didn’t want to waste it and make ourselves feel sick, so I had to wait until December 30th before I could tuck in. It was torture but the end result was so so worth it. It’s the best cheese board I ever had.

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I converted Logan’s coffee table into a cheeseboard by covering it in baking parchment, before unwrapping and placing all the cheeses, crackers, hummus and chutneys onto it. We then sat and ate cheese whilst watching Bad Girls for hours. It was heaven.

The cheeseboard consisted of the following

  • Mouse’s Favourite Cream Cheese
  • Nutcrafter Creamery Cheese with Chipotle
  • Nutcrafter Creamery Cheese with Chives
  • Volcanic Nutcrafter Creamery Cheese (with charcoal)
  • Nutcrafter Creamery Cheese with Cranberries
  • Mozzarisella Cream Cheese
  • Vegusto Piquant
  • Violife Blue
  • Violife Cheddar
  • Tesco Cheese with Crushed Peppercorns
  • Onion Chutney
  • Hummus
  • A selection of crackers

It was epic and I was absolutely thrilled at how much Logan enjoyed it. I was surprised that the Tesco Peppercorn Cheese was his favourite, but he enjoyed most of them and said they tasted very similar to real cheese. Proud vegan right here. Finally our cheeses are more palatable to non vegans ❤

Overall, I had a really nice time over Christmas and New Year. Logan made me this amazing painting of Totoro, which was my all time favourite present.

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We also spent a lovely day driving around the Coastal Trail with Vegan Bear on Boxing day, taking in gorgerous views and having the chilliest picnic ever because, well, we were in Scotland so we had to.

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I hope you all day a lovely time over this festive period, whether you were with friends, family or whether you just like to ignore it all and spend it alone. Looking forward to another year of blogging ahead!

Meatball & Sauerkraut Goulash

Going back to work has been a bit of a shock to the system and I’ve found myself really struggling to prepare decent meals. I was excited to be heading back to Logan’s for a few days this week, mostly to see Logan but also because I knew my beloved Pressure Cooker was there and I could whip up something warm, comforting and packed full of veg.

I came across a recipe for a pressure cooked Hungarian Goulash and decided to do something a little similar with some ingredients we already had in the cupboards. It did not disappoint and really hit the spot.

Meatball & Sauerkraut Goulash

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of frozen meatballs (I used an entire bag of the vegan meatballs found at Farm Foods, there were around 20 balls in total)
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 large jar of sauerkraut (approximately 350g)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (shop bought, homemade or sub for oatcream)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil

Method:

  • First off, heat the oil up in the pressure cooker and saute the onions, garlic and carrots for 3-5 minutes until soft.
  • Add the smoked paprika and black pepper and fry off for another minute or so
  • Add the vegetable broth, tinned tomatoes and the meatballs. Stir through until mixed and then cook under pressure for 10 minutes
  • Quick release, add the maple syrup, sauerkraut, sour cream and salt, stir through and cook without the lid until everything has warmed through

Serves 6 very big portions

I served mine with coconut rice, which is super easy to make in the pressure cooker. Just add 2 cups white rice to 1 tin of coconut milk, 1 cup of water and 1 tsp salt. Cook under pressure for 3 minutes. Slow release and leave to heat through for a further 10 minutes. Stir before serving.

This was really hearty delicious food and I was so happy that the pressure cooker allowed me to have such a quick meal with so much flavour in it. I really loved the sauerkraut in this and the meatballs absorbed all the flavour from the smokey sauce. I loved having this with the coconut rice so much, I love coconut rice!

Of course you could make this on the hob or in the slow cooker, you’ll just need to adjust the times. I would probably simmer the sauce for a good 40-60 minutes on the hob before adding the kraut and sour cream and such.

I was stuffed and satisfied after hoovering this up but I did manage to make room for a little dessert. I’d bought some of the Frozen Chocolate Filled Churros from Aldi which are suitable for vegans, served them up with some ice cream and Mini Donuts that lovely Vegan Bear made and passed on to me.

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It was a good food day and I curled up in bed a very happy man. Perfect food now that the evenings are darker and the weather is colder.

Vegan Mofo 2017 #31: Chocolate Black Bean Brownies with Pumpkin Pie Swirl

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A Vegan Experience of Surgery & Recovery: I had chest reconstruction surgery on August 22nd 2017. For Vegan Mofo 2017, I will be writing about my experience preparing for surgery and my ongoing recovery.

I can’t believe it, we’re on the final day of Vegan Mofo 2017! I don’t really care about Halloween but it’s a good excuse to use pumpkin even more than usual, so I made a sweet treat to finish off Mofo.

I came back from work on Sunday super tired but determined to prep loads of food. I didn’t manage to do much, but I did manage to cook a ridiculous amount of black beans in my slow cooker. I’m not sure what I was thinking I would make with them all, I have LOADS in the fridge ready to use.

I’ve always been scared of black bean brownies but thought this was the perfect time to give them a go because why would I want to use all those beans for savoury dishes when I can add chocolate and sugar to them?

I also had a pumpkin in the kitchen that was just begging to be used for this…so here we go Chocolate Black Bean Brownies with Pumpkin Pie Swirl

Chocolate Black Bean Brownies with Pumpkin Pie Swirl

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Ingredients for the Brownies:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup non dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence (if using an extract over flavouring, reduce by 1/2)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • handful of chocolate chips

Ingredients for the Pumpkin Swirl:

  • 1/2 small pumpkin, seeds removed, roasted
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tbsp sweetener (I used rice syrup)
  • 1/2 tbsp arrowroot/cornstarch

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 180C and line a tin with baking parchment
  2. Put all of the ingredients for the brownies except the chocolate chips into a food processor and blend until smooth
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth off the top
  4. Add all the ingredients for the pumpkin mix to the food processor and blend until smooth. Taste to check it’s sweet/spiced enough for your liking
  5. Spoon the pumpkin mix on top of the brownies and then use a toothpick or knife to swirl into the brownie batter. Scatter the chocolate chips on top
  6. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until you can place a toothpick in the centre and it comes out clean

These were so simple to make, I couldn’t believe it! I also couldn’t believe how rich, chocolatey and delicious they were. They are so fudgey and moist, I love them! I think I might be converted to these gluten free bean brownie things. That’s something I never thought I’d say

But anyway, there you go. Short and sweet today. Thank you all for this amazing month of blogging, I’ve loved it! I’ll probably take a short break but I have a huge list of places to review, especially in Edinburgh, so may do a special Vegan Edinburgh week to power through them all.

Watch this space!

Vegan Mofo 2017 #24: Loaded Potatoes

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A Vegan Experience of Surgery & Recovery: I had chest reconstruction surgery on August 22nd 2017. For Vegan Mofo 2017, I will be writing about my experience preparing for surgery and my ongoing recovery.

I’m due to head back home to Manchester tomorrow in preparation for my first week back at work. I’m really sad to be leaving Edinburgh, I love it here and of course being with my partner has been wonderful. I do have a cat I’ve been apart from for 2 months who I am desperate to see and I think it’s about time for me to get some routine back in my life.

While I’ve been staying here I’ve managed to fill Logan’s fridge and cupboards with far too much food, so I’ve been on a mission to get through as many leftovers as possible before returning home.

I had some BBQ jackfruit that needed using up, some leftover potatoes, a carrot and a pepper that was starting to get soft. This all looked perfect for nachos but I figured why not use the bag of new potatoes instead of tortilla chips? And that’s how these Loaded Potatoes were born.

Loaded Potatoes

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Ingredients:

  • 1 small bag of new potatoes, parboiled and halved
  • 1 pepper, sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a large tin of sweetcorn
  • 1 pack of Upton’s BBQ Jackfruit (of course if you have leftovers or jackfruit and BBQ sauce then sub for this)
  • 2 handfuls of greens, torn

For the Nacho Sauce:

  • 1 large potato, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 4 jalapenos slices
  • 3-4 tbsp pickle brine (or lemon juice)
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup non dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp tapioca starch

Extra Toppings:

  • salsa
  • sour cream

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 200 C and grease a large baking dish.
  2. Scatter the halved potatoes on the dish and spray with oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for around 30 minutes
  3. Boil the carrot and potato for the nacho sauce for around 15 minutes, until soft.
  4. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the onion until soft. Add the pepper, jackfruit & sweetcorn. Add a little water and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Then add the greens and leave to sit with a lid on top to keep warm and cook the greens.
  5. Once the carrot and potato is cooked, drain and place back into the pot. Blend with the rest of the sauce ingredients until smooth. Return to the heat and cook through stirring until it thickens
  6. Remove the potatoes from the oven and plate! Top the potatoes with the BBQ jackfruit mixture, lots of nacho cheese and then extra salsa and sour cream

This was so good, all of these toppings worked so well together and it was a really comforting and filling meal.

Definitely not something to make during the beginning of recovery, there are quite a few elements to it with all the parboiling and making the nacho sauce. I pottered about all day making these bits individually rather than in one go. I now have plenty of leftover nacho sauce though so I’ll be freezing that and making this again when I’m next visiting.

This would also work well with black beans and sweetcorn instead of jackfruit and of course if you can’t be bothered to parboil potatoes then just slice and roast a little longer in the oven.

Vegan Mofo 2017 #21: Savoury Filled Croissants

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A Vegan Experience of Surgery & Recovery: I had chest reconstruction surgery on August 22nd 2017. For Vegan Mofo 2017, I will be writing about my experience preparing for surgery and my ongoing recovery.

Right back at the beginning of Mofo, I mentioned that I did some pretty filthy things with some of the Jus Roll products we have here in the UK. Jus Rol is a pastry brand that does vegan friendly puff and short crust pastries, but most important of all are their Croissant, Cinnamon Roll and Pain Au Chocolat doughs. These tins of delight are crammed full of sweet, buttery, vegan goodness that just needs rolling up and put in the oven for fresh pastries.

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I love these things. They’re really tasty and super convenient. Also, they’re usually on sale, 2  for £3, which is a bargain. I have eaten a LOT of these over the course of my recovery because they take minimal effort to put together and the taste is just so rewarding.

I came up with the idea to stuff my croissant dough with tasty treats. Well duh, I hear you say. Who hasn’t stuffed chocolate bars, chocolate spread and marshmallows into these?

But what about savoury?

I’ve had an amazing toasted croissant sandwich at Chaos Theorie in Berlin, so I was super excited to try filling this dough with a variety of savoury fillings. My boyfriend put together the first lot for me. He did a really good job, giving me three different filled croissants; Salsa & Smoked Cheese, Vegan Haggis and Pesto & Smoked Cheese

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Oh my. These were SO good. They don’t look particularly pretty but they taste frigging amazing. The salsa one was my favourite but vegan haggis was also a genius idea. The sweetness from the pastry actually worked really well with the fillings and I was left wanting more.

Since then we have tried numerous different fillings that were all a huge success. Vegan meatballs with pesto was SO GOOD and Mac n Cheese was of course, wonderful. If you can get hold of this dough…try it! I promise you won’t be disappointed!

In fact, between writing this draft post last night and publishing it this morning, I’ve just made Satay Coconut Jackfruit & Pesto Italian Sausage croissants to take along to roller derby. They smell SO good.

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What would you fill yours with? Have you tried this before, if so, what did you think?