A couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure of spending most of the day at Paradise Palms here in Edinburgh. As well as amazing cocktails and proper steez, this place serves Ninja Buns, an absolutely incredible take on Taiwanese Gua Bao; delicious things sandwiched between flat steamed bread.
I had one of their tofu bao, as well as a rice bowl (and more than a couple of cocktails), and I was blown away – as was everyone else who had one. I say again: incredible.
Me being me, though, I started to wonder what make the bread so different to normal bread. Was it just the steaming process? How hard was it to make them vegan? What was the method compared to normal bread?
And so, the following Wednesday, I spent absolutely all day figuring this out. And the results were just perfect.
One of the first ‘veggie burgers’ I ever tried was a disc of butternut squash, roasted and sprinkled with basil. Whilst some might scoff at the lack of effort involved on the chef’s part, something about the simple flavour combination made it really memorable.
This recipe starts with that simplicity, adds more texture and a few additional herbs and spices to create a substantial gourmet veggie burger!
Cherry pie is one of those things that you only really get into once you’ve been to America, I think – America, or Henderson’s in Edinburgh, where they always have a vegan cherry pie served with soy cream which is the perfect sunny antidote to a drizzly Scotland afternoon.
Here we like our dessert pies filled with British fruits; apples, strawberries, blackberries and rhubarb being the usual suspects. But wait! This is set to be the year of the Great British Cherry; varieties more suited to our wonderful British climate and better technologies mean that this year, there will be more cherries grown in the UK than ever before.
So isn’t it time for us to embrace the cherry pie – and everything inspired by it?
I’ve just got back from spending a long weekend in Amsterdam and Paris catching up with old friends from far-flung places, going to galleries, drinking coffee, eating food, taking photos and reading books, which anyone will tell you is as close to heaven as I can ever get.
It also meant, however, that I ate a lot of bread, bready things and bread-based pastries, so on my first morning back at home I wanted something vastly different; something savoury, interesting and something to comfort my tummy back in not-quite-so-warm Edinburgh.
I was inspired by two very disparate things for this recipe; the British-Indian breakfast dish Kedgeree (or Kichiri), and Manpuku, a tiny Japanese restaurant near OCAD in Toronto. I used to go to the latter often when I lived in TO, as their food was amazing, cheap and full of personality. Where else in Toronto can you eat for less than $5?
We had spring here in Edinburgh; it was last week, and it lasted about 4 days. It was 18 degrees and TWICE I left the house without a jacket. I know; halcyon days.
Now, however, we’ve backpedalled a little; it’s 8 degrees and a little gloomy. Winter, it seems, it holding on to its last.
What we need, then, is a warming and delicious breakfast.
This week I bought an entire box of pears (20!) from my fruit and veg man for just a pound. They were slightly overripe and certainly not at their best, but definitely useable. I hate waste and love a challenge, so I skipped off away with my half ton of pears already cooking up this recipe in my mind.
I’m absolutely thrilled to say that today’s post is brought to you in collaboration with the wonderful Danielle from Vocabulettering! Danielle is a great friend of mine and a talented handletterer; we put our heads together and decided to bring our loves of good food and gorgeous lettering together for today’s post. You can see more of Danielle’s work here on her Vocabulettering Instagram feed and here on her Tumblr feed. She’s a talented lady so get following!
If you don’t know what Sriracha is, I suggest you Google it right now.
Back already? Sounds delicious, right? Well, it’s even better than it sounds.
Created by a Vietnamese immigrant in Los Angeles, Sriracha was David Tran’s attempt to make a sauce that was true to the flavours of his native country, and the company is one that’s fascinating; they’ve never spend a dollar on advertising, but have become one of the most popular hot sauces in the US and further afield; you can now buy Sriracha at Tesco and many other chain supermarkets here in the UK. And I suggest you do.
It’s turning warm (well, not cold) in Edinburgh and so my need for lighter meals has begun; eating your own bodyweight in Lentil Shepherd’s Pie is less fun when it’s sunny outside.
I love miso and we’ve recently invested in a few different types, one of which is a sweet white miso which I have to stop myself eating by the spoonful. It’s so thick and rich but still with that subtle miso flavour – in short, it’s perfect for a light but satisfying soup like this.
The idea to combine miso with tahini came from this great recipe from 101 Cookbooks. I feel like I wanted a bit more of a layered flavour, though, so I added ginger and nori into my stock when cooking to draw out those lovely tastes and infuse them into the dish. I also used broccoli and red kale as we always have too much of the damn stuff in our place.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before (I definitely have), but my absolute favourite kitchen book (I don’t call it a cookbook because it isn’t, really, but it’s certainly a book everyone should have in their kitchen) is the Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit.
As the name suggests, this book is a complete reference guide for flavours that go together beautifully – including ones that you wouldn’t expect. Today’s recipe was very much inspired by a few flavour combinations that I found in the book: mint and strawberries, strawberries and balsamic vinegar, and fig and almonds.
In the mornings, I need a little help.
I try to be a morning person, really I do – and for the most part, I can get up and go about my business and do things I need to, as long as I don’t need to leave the house. Once I’ve left the house, all bets are off – unless I’ve had a proper breakfast.
I’m quite lucky in terms of work hours and a short commute (either to my living room or to an office 20 minutes’ walk away) that I can make this sort of stuff most weekdays if I want to. If you’re not flush with time in the mornings, however, this makes a great weekend brunch, or you can cook it the night before and its just as delicious cold.
But why is it so good?
Well, every single ingredient here is full of something good, with the possible exception of the soy sauce. Sweet potatoes are full of fibre and beta-carotene, spinach is full of iron and calcium, kale is a nutritional powerhouse, tahini has calcium, protein and omega-3s, lemon juice has vitamin c and cleansing properties and the garlic, ginger and the chilli in Harissa will stimulate your immune system. It’s like giving your whole body a kick in the bum before you even leave the house!
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.