Plot to Plate : Tofu Scramble with Summer Vegetables

Not sure if you’ve heard, but here in the UK, it’s been a pretty miserable summer so far. We’re not just talking about a light smattering of rain, but full on torrents that have transformed roads into rivers and car parks into lakes (at work we have some rather

Erm, has anyone seen our pond?

confused ducks who nested in the paving between the car parking spaces and are now wondering where their private lake has gone!)

The wettest summer since records began has coincided with our second year of having an allotment. This time last year we were giving away bags and bags of courgettes, mangetout, peas, potatoes, onions and carrots, unable to keep pace with our harvest. This year it’s been a different story, with just a smattering of vegetables and a lot of failures. I have taken solace from the fact that Charlie, who has had a plot on our row for thirty plus years and who takes his allotmenting very seriously, had a good moan that even with all his expertise, he can’t get anything to grow this year. Phew, it’s not just our amateur efforts that are the problem!

Finally, this weekend we have seen some sun :

What is this strange golden orb in the sky?!

The sun coincided with the first courgettes and peas finally being ready to harvest, we also lifted the last of our garlic and our over-wintered onions.

Last year we enjoyed our summer veg in omelettes topped with lashings of cheddar and parmesan, I was vegetarian then and a switch to veganism wasn’t something that was on my mind. This year however, I think I have found something even better than omelettes: Tofu Scramble.

I only wish that I hadn’t waited until I was vegan to try this, it’s absolutely delicious. I thoroughly recommend having a go at ‘growing your own’, this dish is made all the tastier knowing that from plot to plate took less than an hour:

Tofu Scramble with Summer Vegetables

Tofu Scramble with Summer Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 1 onion – diced
  • 3 small courgettes – diced
  • Large handful of peas
  • 200 grammes silken tofu
  • 1 stock cube
  • Teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the diced onion, garlic, courgettes and peas and fry over a medium heat until the onions are golden and the courgette is softened;
  2.  In a separate bowl drain any excess liquid from the tofu and mash with a fork until nicely scrambled.
  3. Add the tofu, stock cube, thyme to the frying pan and heat through for a further two – three minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. We served with a slice of whole-wheat bread buttered with lashings of vegan sunflower spread.

Here’s hoping that this sunshine lasts, we’re off to Windsor this weekend to see some fabulous friends – and to watch the olympic rowing – can’t wait!

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There is no wisdom in those teeth….

Oh yeah, I look friendly enough but I can bring the paaaaiiiiinnnnnnn
Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet this week, I have been hiding under a duvet of my own self-pity battling with horrible horrible pain from my wisdom teeth, oooouuuuucccccchhhhhhhhh!

Needless to say, on account of the fact that I could barely speak, let alone eat, food has been a little low down the list of priorities.

I’ve started feeling better now, so am officially getting over myself and cracking on with some tasty healthy cooking. Recipes to follow………

Sunday Rituals (oh and vegan cottage pie)

Like most people,  we spend a lot of our lives rushing around. Between busy jobs, loving families and fabulous friends it often feels like we don’t stop, but Sunday tends to be a day about just the two of us. Whether we are doing jobs in the house or at the allotment or just chilling on the sofa watching trash TV, we always spend the day together, soothing our souls ready for the week ahead. This has become the sunday ritual in the MK household.

And the most important part of this ritual is Sunday evening…..

No matter what we’re doing, at seven o’clock everything else stops,  Planet Rock goes on the radio for ‘Amps Off’ (two hours of heavenly acoustic pieces from musicians who normally rock out at more significant decibels) and I cook.

Mr MK usually pops himself down in front of the TV or potters around finishing off the last few weekend jobs and I unwind in the kitchen cooking something slow, delicious and full of flavour.

Usually I cook a sunday roast of some description, but every now and again another home favourite will make a guest appearance. This weekend it was cottage pie.

If I do say so myself, it was fantastic – a lovely rich, thyme-y flavour, this is comfort food at its best and sets us up perfectly for the return to real life on Monday morning.

Vegan Cottage Pie

Serves Four

A welcome Sunday night appearance from a real British classic

For the potato topping:

  • 800 grams potatoes – peeled and cubed
  • 100 ml almond milk
  • 50 grams Vitalite (you can use the vegan spread of your choice but I find that vitalite has a decadent rich flavour)
  • 1.5 teaspoons garlic granules
  • Sea salt
  • A generous measure of course black pepper

For the filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion – peeled and roughly diced
  • 2 – 4 cloves of garlic – peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 large carrots – peeled and roughly diced
  • 200 ml vegetable stock (*see ‘My Hints’ below)
  • 100 ml red wine
  • 200 grams frozen peas
  • 200 grams soya mince (I use Sainsbury’s ‘Love Soy’)
  • 200 grams pre-soaked green lentils – drained
  • 1 generous tablespoon of thyme (if you are patient use fresh, if not use dried like me)
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • Pinch Sea Salt Flakes
  • Another measure of course ground black pepper
For the potato topping:
  1. Place the (peeled and cubed) potatoes into a pan of water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and then simmer for approximately twenty minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
  2.  Once soft, drain the water from the potatoes then place them back in the pan, add the butter, almond milk, garlic granules and season well with the salt and pepper. Mash thoroughly (this makes a very creamy mash so don’t be alarmed if it looks like there is a lot of liquid at first, the potatoes will soak up much of the liquid and become soft and light, they will also dry further in the oven later).
For the filling
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan then add the onions, fry for four to five minutes until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the garlic and carrots to the pan and fry for a further two minutes.
  3. Add the stock, mince, thyme and chilli flakes and simmer for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the lentils and peas and simmer for just two minutes more. Season with the salt and pepper.
Bringing it all together:
  1. Pour the filling into an oven proof dish (I used an eleven inch by seven inch rectangular dish) and spread the mashed potato over the top. Decorate the potato using the prongs of a fork.
  2. Place into the oven for twenty minutes or until the potato topping has developed a light crust.

Serving Suggestions: 
We enjoy this cottage pie with a simple accompaniment of undressed baby-leaf spinach and a large dollop of sweet chilli sauce.
A good glass of red wine rounds off the meal perfectly.
My Hints
Vegetable Stock – you can make your own vegetable stock, but let’s face it, not everyone has the time to do so or the space to store/freeze this once prepared. Mr MK is a big fan of vegetable bouillon but my preference is for trusty vegetable OXO cubes. The packaging recommends using 1 cube for every 190ml of water, however, I prefer a much richer flavour, for this recipe for example I used 4 cubes for the stock.

Real Eat v Real Cheat : Wednesday Night Chilli

Phew, how is it only Wednesday? It feels like it should be Thursday already, or better still, Friday and wine o’clock.

I finished work a bit late tonight and got home tired and fed up, I really didn’t feel like cooking something complex and time consuming. I know there are great reasons for eating fresh foods, but sometimes, life gets in the way and the kitchen cupboard beckons. This is one of my favourite ‘real cheat’ recipes – although this chilli only requires one fresh ingredient – an onion – it’s still wholesome and healthy.

To add to the benefits, it makes a generous portion… Dinner for tonight and leftovers for packed lunch – Done!

Wednesday Night Vegan Chilli

Serves Four (or two very hungry bods with enough for packed lunch for one!)

Vegan Chilli – Super Easy, Super Delicious

  • 1 onion – chopped
  • 1 tin (400 grams) black beans – drained
  • 1 tin (400 grams) red kidney beans – drained
  • 1 tin (320 grams) sweetcorn – drained
  • 1 tin (400 grams) chopped tomatoes
  • 100 grammes soya mince
  • 150 ml red wine
  • 2 stock cubes
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun all spice (more if you like it hot)
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (as above)
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Method

This really is so super easy to make :

1. Heat the olive oil and fry off the onions in a large frying pan until softened (about 4 – 5 minutes).

2. Add the remainder of the ingredients to the pan, heat through and keep on a low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, for at least ten minutes, if you can wait longer, then 15 – 20 minutes will allow a fuller flavour to develop (if it starts to look dry then add small amounts of water as required).

3. Serve with whole wheat tortillas and ‘guaca-salsa’.

Guaco-Salsa – another extra quick recipe

Feeling guilty as to the lack of fresh ingredients, I topped this with a household favourite, a quick and easy ‘guaca-salsa’ (so named because it’s not quite a salsa – too much avocado – and not quite a guacamole – too many tomatoes and no blitzing):

Roughly chop 4- 5 spring onions, 6 baby plum tomatoes, one avocado, a handful of torn coriander with 2- 3 pickled jalapenos in a bowl. Add a squeeze of lemon (lime works better for flavour but when life gives you lemons….) a pinch of salt and pepper and toss in the bowl then use to top the chilli.

There’s something about those endorphin firing chillies that have made me feel a bit better….. just two days to go and we’re at the weekend!

Hurray for Puma : Ethical Business Makes Sense

I’ve just found my way to this article in the Financial Times via a post on Peta’s website. The article features Jochen Zeitz, the executive chairman of Puma, talking about the future of training shoe manufacturing and how one day his company will be leather free.

Whilst the decision seems to be based on sustainability – rather than cruelty – considerations, it is great that these types of issues are driving decisions at board level. Well done to Jochen Zeitz and Puma for raising this publicly.

The more big business makes public statements like this, the sooner these considerations will be seen as mainstream and not perceived to be the preserve of tree hugging hippies like me.

I hope Puma make the switch sooner rather than later.

Breakfast : Let’s start at the very beginning….

So, where to begin with a first post? I thought why not start this blog the same way I start every day – breakfast.

I am a BIG breakfast fan, I can’t help it, I love it.

I wholly subscribe to the mantra that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I am likely to be found having the biggest throw down if I am expected to leave the house without first having eaten.

Given my ability to snooze long beyond the first dulcet tones of my alarm clock, Monday to Friday breakfast tends to be more about speed than flavour, but come Saturday and Sunday, ahhhh the weekend, well, then breakfast is an altogether more leisurely affair.

Favourites include a vegan friendly full-english, spinach and mushrooms, non-jaevos rancheros, breakfast hash, griddle pan waffles and sweetcorn fritters, but there is one standout favourite……. pancakes.

Don’t tell anyone (especially not my husband who literally goes a bit weak at the knees when these are served up) but these are super easy to make and will be loved by vegans and non-vegans alike:

Vegan Breakfast Pancakes

Makes 20 medallion sized pancakes

Vegan Breakfast Pancakes


Vegan Breakfast Pancakes : Rest assured that this piddley dribble of maple syrup was for aesthetic purposes only. As soon as the camera was away, we drowned those bad boys.

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams plain flour
  • 280 ml almond milk
  • 3 tbsp unrefined golden caster sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • Olive oil for frying
Method
  1. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and then add the sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Beat in the almond milk to form a thick batter.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan then use a tablespoon to drop the batter into the pan to form medallion sized pancakes.
  3. Wait until the batter on the upper side of the pancake is drying at the edges and bubbling in the centre, then flip to cook the second side, this should take only a minute.

Serve as you see fit – everyone has their own preferred pancake topping – but I would heartily recommend going for the classic, and our household favourite, approach of pouring on a decadent measure of maple syrup… enough so that the plate looks like some crazy breakfasty pancake swimming pool.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm, enjoy!