Here's some beetroot chutney it hooked up with the other day - the two were fighting for attention on the taste buds in a good way.
The sad thing about it was, despite our very best, very greediest efforts, was we couldn't finish the whole lot, nor fall upon the selection of cakes the restaurant has and do some serious damage.
The second visit was a bit less successful: Mr Flicking the Vs had a seitan in paprika-y sauce and spicy fries. The fries were cold. Not just a little on the chilly side, but Antarctic cold. Sadface. And I had more of that fabulous seitan with some decently fried veggies but everything had those little black dots that (I think) mean everything comes off a plancher grill.
I'm not sure what was in it, but I caught the words "chilli choccy". I think the bottom was coconutty, and middle was banana and datey, and the top was nut and chocolatey (and chilli-y - is that a word?!). It was rich and dense and tasty, and didn't stay long in this world.
The only other thing we ate out during our stay was a falafel pitta thing from a place that looked like it had never been introduced to the concept of cleaning, but nonetheless did some kickass falafel.
Hungary totally won me over as a place, and Budapest's food did likewise. It was just Budaful!
Recently, I went to Budapest, Hungary on holiday. I went round the castle, botanic gardens, wandered along the river and looked at some coo...
Only turns out that freekeh is no joke – it's actually rather tasty.
It's the new hip grain on the block – it hails from the Middle East and is made of roasted unripe green wheat. It looks a bit like the sort of thing that you'd see at the bottom of a budgie's cage, but don't let that put you off – it's got a really nice earthy taste and a bouncy texture.
Unlike the usual grain suspects, freekeh has a distinct flavour of its own – it's not just there to bulk up dishes with a bit of carbs. And like its ancient cousin quinoa, freekeh is reasonably high in protein.
Convinced yet? I was certainly curious enough to give it a try, especially given I had a couple of recipes knocking around that seemed to be calling out for freekeh: one for a spinach freekeh pilaf on a page I'd torn out from I don't know where, and one for quinoa with summer beans from The Independent. Where I thought freekeh might make a nice substitution.
Here's what I made – a sort of cross between the two:
It was pretty simple to concoct: boil the freekeh in stock, then when it's cooked, add a load of olive oil, lemon juice and a bit of garlic, then some defrosted frozen spinach, shucked broad beans, cooked purple sprouting broccoli and herbs (I think it was chives, basil and dill in this instance).
That was it! From start to plate took under half an hour, and it survived well enough to make a solid lunch the next day too.
I've got two-thirds of a bag left, and I'm looking forward to finding some new uses for this bad boy.
It's so good, it's almost freekeh.
Sometimes, I get swept up in a wave of a cooking adventurousness that sees me sweating over the cooker for hours, cursing my decision to cook four dishes when one would be enough. I start off fancying myself to be Gordon Ramsay, I wind up swearing and cursing like him.
This was one of those times.
I'd been perusing India's Vegetarian Cooking, and had one of those 'I want to cook that, and that, and that. Oh yeah, and THAT!' moments.
I decided to make bhuna lobhia - stir-friend black beans with tomatoes, cumin, ginger and chilli, as well as a random tofu scramble with potatoes which may have been based on aloo gobi but with the cauliflower played by tofu.
That should have been enough for a decent meal, but I couldn't leave well enough alone, and decided to try out a spinach and mung bean-based dish called palak dal.
Mung beans are still a fairly new addition to my cupboard, but they're a welcome one, and they worked so well with the spinach, spices and lemon in the recipe. Mung beans have a bad rap, but I'm appointing myself their official PR person. Eat some, they're awesome!
But the star of the show was okra. You know I love okra like it's one of my family, right? And not one of the ones where I freak one when I think we share genes. Whatever the okra-hating slime-phobes say, okra is among the vegetable nobility in my eyes.
There are a couple of okra recipes in India's Vegetarian Cooking, but I made kodel (sweet and sour okra) here. It was a wonderous treatment of okra, and a dish completely new to me. The sauce for the okra was made from all sorts of fun stuff, like dried chillis, poppy seeds, coconut, tamarind and browned onions.
It was so delicious, I ate it for the next few days happily. Alas the okra lost a bit of its colour, but I'm eating with my mouth not with my eyes, so I'll forgive it. By eating it. Again and again and again.
Exhibit A: matcha powder, otherwise known as green tea that's been beaten into submission.
What can you do with matcha? Matcha lattes, matcha truffles, matcha cake, and matcha pudding, apparently. Lots of matcha-stuff. Probably turn it into gold if you tried hard enough. (I didn't try hard enough.)
No, my friends, today calls for cookies! (Most days call for cookies, as far as my understanding goes, but let's gloss over that.) The basis for this recipe is a Dan Lepard oldie from a while ago (Christmas three years ago, in fact) which you can find here (not vegan though).
If you need a reason to buy matcha, it's that it turns your cookies green. Regard:
I mean, cookies are cool, but green cookies are winning all round. Here's how to green up your own cookies:
Matcha brazil nut cookies
Makes about 10
50g vegan butter
110g light brown sugar
Half tsp of vanilla essence
Pinch of salt
100g self-raising flour
50g brazil nuts, chopped
1 or 2 tsp of soy milk (or vegan milk of your choice)
Half tsp matcha powder (Maybe more if you like that sort of thing)
Handful of vegan chocolate chips or chunk of dark chocolate, chopped up
How you do it
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Stir in vanilla essence, then flour, salt and matcha. Stir to combine.
Add nuts and chocolate, and stir.
Add milk, a tsp at a time, and stir until the the dough comes together.
Preheat oven to 180C, and grease a baking sheet.
Put dessertspoons of mixture onto baking sheet, spaced well apart.
Cook for 12 to 15 minutes until the edges of the cookies start to colour.
This is sort of a variant of that - more like a 'feel the food rage and cook it anyway'.
The subject of my food rage is savoury muffins. I've attempted to make these before, several times.
you know the quote about 'insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results?' Well, it's that. I was convinced that savoury avocado muffins were the way forward and attempted on more than one occasion to do find the secret recipe that I believed the world needed
I failed. A lot. A lot of weird avocado doughballs met their end in my kitchen. I wept, I gnashed my teeth, but I kept going. And kept failing.
After that, it was with some trepidation that I decided, months later, to return to savoury muffins after seeing an appealing recipe for a sweetcorn and sun-dried tomato version.
The recipe, which you can find here, is not vegan, but it's easily veganised. I omitted the cheese and replaced it with a bit of nooch, and dodged the egg in favour of a flax equivalent.
Here's what happened:
Not too shabby eh? All light and flavourful - the tarragon helped there, given it's pretty much the king of herbs and if you don't agree, I'll arm-wrestle til you change your mind.
One thing I have noticed with flax eggs (I think it's the flax eggs) is if you leave a baked product with flax in them for a day or two, and then pull off a chunk, you get these almost spider-web like see-through strands. Is that just me, or can you tell me what's causing it?
Weird muffin gossamer aside, I'm pretty chuffed with how these turned out, and I'll be making them again.
Reckon avocado would go well in there?
I've been posting occasional posts called feel the food fear and cook it anyway , where I attempt to cook something that's long give...