Spring is finally springing here in Edinburgh. The flowers are poking their heads out of the ground, beer gardens are starting to think about maybe possibly just one day opening, and you can wear 2 layers instead of 3 without getting hypothermia. There’s a promise of 12 degrees on Thursday, but let’s not get our hopes up.
From a kitchen stand point, that means that all the summer fruits and vegetables aren’t that far away – and that soup season is on its way out. The long nights of winter are perfect for a warming, comforting bowl of happiness, but in summer, it just doesn’t work.
Let’s cling on to soup season as long as we can – after all, soups are easy, cheap and always nutritious. Especially this one.
Alright, I know I’m about four years behind here, but I’m just getting into goji berries, and holy mother are those things amazing.
Delicious, just the right amount of chewy, full of good stuff – and then to top it all off, they give a gorgeous splash of vibrant red into any recipe. It’s like they were made just for me.
I got some goji berries on sale from Real Foods last week; my basic modus operandi with that place is to wander around, see what’s on sale, then craft some sort of meal or recipe around that. Both the goji berries and the coconut shavings in this recipe were on sale at Real Foods, and the shaved coconut was only a pound for 100 grams – so if you shop right, this is a budget recipe!
I’m not a fan of chocolate-flavoured things.
Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE chocolate. After a youth misspent eating horrible milk chocolate and those cheap white chocolate mice (alright, they are awesome, in a disgusting sort of a way) I’ve matured into my tastebuds and these days, I love love LOVE dark chocolate. The darker and more subtley flavoured, the better.
It’s just that chocolate FLAVOURED things are so…wrong. Just like strawberry-flavoured things, they tend to never actually taste like what they’re meant to taste like.
This has meant that I’ve avoided chocolate smoothies and the like for a long time; as well as being sort of strangely chemically, they’re often far too chocolatey, or just altogether wrong.
This smoothie, then, has sort of changed my life.
There is truly no purer joy in life than a lazy Sunday brunch. If there were enough cafes in Edinburgh (I lie: there clearly are) and I had enough money, I would probably go out for a 4-hour brunch every Sunday, but as my lust for food far outstrips my budget, I often cook brunch at home with friends, listening to BB6Music and reading each other bits of interesting things. It is bliss.
Since moving back to the UK a few months ago, I’ve remembered all the ingredients that I’ve barely used in the last 6 years – and parsnips feature heavily at this time of year! They’re affordable, versatile and can last for a long while in your fridge, which helps cut down on wastage. And yet they’ve been given short shrift for so long, much like the long-maligned beetroot (poor guys).
It’s only 7 days til Christmas, and you know what that means. The presents are bought, the neighbours have got their cards, so now the only thing to worry about is the food.
Or if not, just forget everything else and just worry about the food anyway.
Yesterday I posted up this recipe for the dish that’s going to be my vegan Christmas dinner starter: a delicious Mushroom, Walnut and Spinach Puff Pastry Roll. You can serve these as they are, but I like to serve a couple on top of a light and fresh salad – and so I’m giving you the recipe for that salad today!
Christmas dinner in our house has always been a pretty joyous occasion. Folk from Yorkshire love a roast, and at our Christmas table, amongst the napkins and crispy veg and crackers with shit jokes in you can find a little present for each person, a little something to make the excitement of the morning last through lunch.
My mum cooks a mean turkey, and her roasties are well known to be fantastic – but these days, she has two little grandkids running around as well as a house full of bickering relatives, so you might say that she has enough on her plate without having to deal with crafting an entirely different meal for her difficult vegan daughter. You might also say that a meal that nut roast and stuffing are basically the same thing, so a vegan Christmas dinner might not want both. For these reasons, I have taken Vegan Christmas Dinner into my own hands this year.
And oh, I have some big plans.
Butternut squash is one of those odd ingredients that I seem to forget about for a large portion of the year. I suppose that this is the ideal for seasonal cooking, but I can’t claim that I’m an entirely seasonal shopper; rather, I get more obsessed with beetroots and cashews and a whole host of other things and squash just falls out of my head entirely.
My friend brought a beautiful butternut squash home from the market (yes! A winter market!) last week, and when I was scouting through the fridge post-yoga with a ravenous need to eat, there it was: just what I needed.
Even the most hardcore curry lovers amongst you (I know you’re out there) might be a little perplexed by the name of this recipe. Don’t worry; you’re not out of the loop. Rather, thoran is much a lesser-known dish than the korma, tikka masalas and even the daals that regularly appear on English-language recipe sites and in cookbooks.
Thoran is a “dry” curry from Kerala, which means that it may not be what you consider to be a traditional curry – it doesn’t have any sauce. Instead, the vegetables are cooked in a spice-laden oil with a little water, which might go against everything you consider a curry to be, but it’s incredibly delicious.
I’ve never really been a toast girl. I mean, I’ve eaten a frankly obscene amount of it in my life, especially as a child, but later in my life I’ve never considered it a decent breakfast, and the thought of choking down soggy toast covered in beans makes me feel so ill that I wonder if I’m a Yorkshire girl at all.
Lately, though, I’ve begun to appreciate the sheer brilliance of a great slice of high-quality bread, toasted well, and topped with something simple but gorgeous; last week, my friend Craig made us garlic mushrooms on toast and with some black coffee and the Sunday papers, it was some kind of heaven.
I’m really into Harissa right now (okay, always) and while most people cut it with yogurt, I love to pair it with a little squeeze of lemon and some fresh basil for a very layered but not too complicated flavour. Some good quality olive oil will bring all these elements together beautifully.
Parsnips? Pomegranate? Edamame? This can’t surely be good, can it?
Well, yes it can. In fact, it can be tasty as hell as well as incredibly good for you! Parsnips are everywhere right now, and a little sweetness from the pomegranate seeds in a dish like this will go a long way! Little bursts of colour are super important in a dish that contains lots of brown and beige, so the edamame here will brighten up your plate and make it look as delicious as it is. And who can argue with kale?
This ginger-tahini dressing will steel your immune system against the coming season of germs everywhere and sniffly noses, so don’t hold back on the garlic and ginger – and if you want to spice it up a little more, add in some paprika and maybe even a little turmeric. It’s all good for you in winter time!