Good old Pie ‘n’ Mash

pie n mash

Yummy rich pie filling in a crisp and crumbly shortcrust pastry case. Who could resist?
This will serve 2 very hungry people.

For the pastry you will need…

225g strong white bread flour (using bread flour gives a lovely “short” pastry)
pinch of salt
100g vegan margarine
4 or 5 tbsp cold water
Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and add the margarine in smallish chunks and rub the flour and marg between your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the water on top and mix thoroughly until it’s a nice firm dough. Knead very lightly for a few seconds and use as required. You will probably have more than you need for this recipe, but the raw pastry freezes very well.

For the filling you will need…

1 tbsp light olive oil
3 vegetarian sausages (my preference is Linda McCartney Rosemary and red onion)
8 chestnut mushrooms, quartered
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
1/2 a pint of rich gravy, made with Bisto granules
200g canned Butter beans, drained
1tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 small glass of  vegan port (Vintage and traditional LBVs are fine)

Place the onion in a shallow pan and fry lightly in half the oil until soft. Add the sugar and mix through, turn down the heat then leave for a short time to caramelize slightly.
Meanwhile chop the defrosted sausages into bite-size chunks. Place the sausage pieces, mushrooms and caramelized onions into a pan and fry until the sausages and mushrooms have a nice golden colour. Add the butter beans, tarragon and the gravy mixture and combine well, then add the port and stir. Take off the heat and leave the mixture to cool (otherwise your pie will have a soggy bottom!)

Roll out the pastry and line your chosen deep pie dish, making sure you line the dish with a thin layer of margarine before placing the pastry in. Put the filling. Then roll out your lid, and place on top. You can use a little of the aquafaba (the brine in your can of butterbeans) to help seal your pie. Brush the top with a little oil, and sprinkle with the dried rosemary.

Serve with lovely buttery mashed potatoes (Vitalite dairy free spread is particularly good in mash as it has a very buttery taste) and some lightly fried curly kale topped with toasted flaked almonds.

Enjoy!

Wonderful, warming Moroccan stew

moroccan stew

This is perfect winter warming comfort food. Curl up on the sofa with your favourite movie and a bowl of this super-easy vegan Moroccan stew.

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil or light olive oil
1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped
4 baby potatoes, skin on, halved
1 red pepper, sliced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 heaped tsp ground coriander2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
400g tinned tomatoes
100ml vegetable stock
400g tinned chickpeas, drained
6 small dried apricots
juice of half a lemon
handful of fresh chopped coriander
unsweetened soya yogurt
2 tsp dried mint
1 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted

Method

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and red pepper until soft and translucent. Turn the heat down and fry the garlic taking care not to burn.

Stir in the ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon and chilli flakes. Add the ground black pepper and salt. This is your ‘flavour bomb’ and should look like a slightly lumpy paste.

To your bomb add the tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, potatoes, sweet potatoes and apricots. Then top up with the stock and leave to simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes and sweet potatoes are soft but not mushy.

Meanwhile make the yogurt topping – add the dried mint, some of the fresh coriander, squeeze of lemon juice to your yogurt. Mix well.

When the stew is ready, season to taste with a little lemon juice and black pepper. Serve with rice, cous-cous or a simple hunk of crusty bread. Top with the yogurt, almonds and remaining fresh coriander. Enjoy!

 

 

My go-to vegan store cupboard essentials

storecupboard-essentials

I’ve tried to list as many store cupboard go-to ingredients as I can here. You will all no doubt have your own favourites too.

Tofu
I tend to buy only silken tofu. I buy in packs of six cartons – the cheapest I’ve found is on Amazon – and they keep well in a cool dry place for weeks.

For marinating and using in stir fries I would recommend a firm tofu (press it between sheets of kitchen paper to remove excess liquid before marinating).

Cheeses
This is a difficult one! I’ve tried a few and to be honest, it’s hit and miss. The best I’ve found are these:

Sheese – Original creamy cheese, by the Bute Food Company
This is a good find – very like original phili, a little thicker maybe, but delicious. Use on it’s own on oatcakes or toast, or as an addition to a vegan white sauce to make a yummy cheese sauce (see my recipe).

Sheese – Mozarella style, by Bute Food Company
A nice mild taste and great for topping a veggie pizza. Use sparingly though as I find a lot of it tastes rather metallic.

Tesco Free From original soya cream cheese
This is really nice! Very Phili-like and ideal for using in sauces and dips.

Tesco Free From original mature cheese spread
Again, excellent used in recipes (and not too shabby on a cracker either!)

I plan to try some of the many nut based cheese recipes – I’ll let you know how it goes!

Oats
Good old oats can be used as a soup or stew thickener, for baking, or as your fave breakfast. The list of possibilities is endless.

Barley
Again, great in soups and stews, but also to add good texture to chillies or cottage pies. Or try the ready mixed soup mix (a lovely mixure of lentils, barley and other goodness) but be sure to pre-soak it overnight. When I can’t be bothered I like to use split red lentils instead. A nice texture, but no need to soak.

Nuts and seeds
I use LOTS of flaked almonds. I like to dry-roast them in a non-stick frying pan for a few seconds each side, then sprinkle them on, well, everything! Beautiful nutty, satisfying flavour and crunch. Yum! For best nutrition use a variety, and often! Get used to sprinkling sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, butternut squash seeds (my new fave! Simply roast in the oven for around 15 minutes and sprinkle with some sea salt for a great snack), chia seeds or really whatever you fancy. They are nutritional powerhouses and very tasty too.

Creams and Yogurts

Tesco Free From unsweetened soya yogurt is excellent in recipes or on its own for breakfast with seeds and fruit.

Oatley Single cream substitute has to be my best find yet! Find it in the free from chilled section in Tesco (and most probably other supermarkets too). Use as you would any single cream. This one is not sweet so is perfectly at home in lots of savoury dishes too.

Also worth keeping a wee stock of are walnuts (dry-roast them in the same way) and pre-cooked chestnuts (I use the Merchant Gourmet ones sold in most supermarkets). Chop and add to anything you like.

Good for salad and soup sprinkling are sesame seeds – I’m using the black ones at the moment and they’re really nice! – and poppy seeds.

Basically, get in a stock of your favourites. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, anything at all and make sure you use them. Their nutrition doesn’t do you much good if you keep them in the cupboard!

Herbs and Spices

Think chilli and paprika, mint and coriander…all of your favourites. Use them in the same way to pep up your flavours. Keep them in view and handy so that you don’t need to go raking around to add simple effective oomph to your dishes.

It’s all new to me!

Welcome to my blog!

I’m a 50-years young newbie vegan – and there can’t be many who can say that! If you’re new to all this too, or are simply looking for some recipes and inspiration, check in regularly and we can share the journey.

New to a plant-based diet – 18 months and counting – I’ve found it relatively easy to make the transition from carnivore with vegetarian tendencies to all round veggie lover and vegan food enthusiast. Following my decision to cut out meat, fish and dairy from my diet, there was a lot of online recipe gathering and sighing and head-scratching and trial and error. Followed by the realisation that not only did I feel better physically but I felt better about doing my bit for animal welfare and the planet too. Win win, right?

image

This is the place where I cook up my plant-based creations.

During the past 8 months of head-scratching and research I’ve stumbled upon some delicious recipes, intriguing ingredients, light-bulb ideas and, well, not so lovely produce. Over the next few weeks I’ll try to list some of the best and to share some of my most successful experiments. I’ll draw a thin veil over the not so nice results of my cookery and produce gathering experiences shall I?

Rather than using meat substitutes (I mean, what’s the point?), I like to use vegetables, beans and pulses in recipes which lend themselves to a vegan make-over (vegan cottage pie anyone? How about vegan chilli, or veggie wellington?) Yes, there are things I miss, but I’ve found that rather than missing the actual turkey, bacon or fish or whatever my carnivorous craving is at that moment, it’s the accompanying flavours and texture that tantalises my taste buds. After all what’s turkey without the trimmings, bacon without the crispy rind and brown sauce, or fish without the salty vinegary chips and tartare sauce?

So, I set about finding alternatives in the veggie world while keeping the flavours of my past. I hope you enjoy the recipes and ideas to come.