Saturday, 28 July 2012

Peri Peri Vegetable and Halloumi Stacks

Peri Peri Vegetable and Halloumi Stacks
This is a posh, dinner party version of my roasted vegetables with halloumi recipe. I think it looks much prettier sitting in a stack with a drizzle of home made peri-peri sauce encircling it, although both versions taste good!

Serves 4

For the stacks:

  • 1 large aubergine, sliced thickly
  • 1 large courgette, cut in half and then sliced into strips
  • 2 large bell peppers, deseeded and cut into quarters
  • 1 large sweet potato or baking potato, peeled and sliced thickly
  • 4 large, flat mushrooms, de-stalked
  • 200g halloumi cheese, sliced thickly 
For the peri-peri/piri-piri sauce:
  • 1-2 large red chillis - grated* or finely chopped
  • 1 large lemon or 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
Make up the peri-peri sauce, by mixing the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Brush the vegetables and halloumi cheese slices liberally with olive oil and either fry, grill or 
barbecue them in batches until soft and golden brown; 
Cook the sweet potato/potato and aubergine slices first as they take longer to cook.
Keep them warm in the oven (on a baking tray) until all the ingredients have been cooked.

Drizzle the vegetables and cheese with half of the peri-peri sauce and return to the oven for 5 minutes. 

Stack the vegetables and cheese slices on four plates.
Drizzle the remaining sauce around each stack.
Skewer with a cocktail stick and top with a sprig of parsley.
Serve with home made bread or mini roasted potatoes and salad.

Not suitable for freezing.

*Top tip: Freeze the chilli and then grate on a fine grater from the pointy end. Once you get to the seeds at the stalk end, discard the chilli.

Vegan Option: Either omit the halloumi cheese or swap for  vegan cheese or firm, drained and fried tofu (marinate tofu in some of the peri-peri sauce before frying). 

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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Bulghar Wheat Salad with Halloumi and Vegetables

This is a nice, summery dish, which goes well along-side barbecued foods or as part of a buffet or meze.

Serves 4-6 as a side-salad

  • 1 aubergine/eggplant
  • 1 red pointed pepper
  • 1 small red onion
  • A handful of Greek olives, sliced
  • 100g halloumi cheese, cubed
  • 1 cup bulghar wheat
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • black pepper, to taste
Place the bulghar wheat in a heat-proof bowl and pour 1½ cups of boiling water over. 
Stir and then cover the bowl with cling film.
Pierce the film and then microwave for 1 minute on high. 
Allow to stand for 20-30 minutes until all the water is absorbed.
Meanwhile, shallow fry the aubergine in 2 tbsp of the oil until golden brown and soft.
Remove from the pan, then gently fry the onion and peppers to soften, adding a further tbsp of oil.
Dry fry the cubes of halloumi until golden.
Remove the pan from the heat and return all of the cooked vegetables to the pan, along with the halloumi.
Add the oregano, olives, black pepper and lemon/lime juice and stir to coat the vegetables. 
Finally mix in the mint.
Serve the cheese and vegetable mix, either on top of the bulghar wheat or mixed in.
Serve warm or cold.

Not suitable for freezing.

Vegan alternative:
Either omit the cheese or swap it for a dairy-free hard cheese, or some toasted pine nuts .

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Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Easy Vegan Cupcakes/Fairy Cakes

I found Orgran No Egg on special offer recently, so I bought some to test it out and review it; One box of No Egg costs around £2.50 and replaces the equivalent of 66 eggs, so it's good value for money. It contains the following ingredients:Potato starch, tapioca flour, calcium carbonate, citric acid, vegetable gum (stabiliser): methylcellulose and is also gluten free.

Following the success of my vegan Victoria sandwich cake, I thought I'd try 
adapting my usual (non-vegan) sponge cake recipe by using the egg-replacer instead of eggs. I made some cupcakes to see how the two recipes compared. The results were very pleasing, and I actually preferred the resulting texture and flavour of these cakes compared to my vegan sponge cake. The cakes were very light and crumbly, and kept fresh for a few days in an airtight container.

Makes 12

  • 150g/6oz dairy free spread/margarine
  • 150g/6oz sugar
  • 150g/6oz SR flour
  • 3 heaped tsp Orgran No Egg mixed with 6 tbsp water (or use a similar egg-substitute)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Cream the spread and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix until combined.
Spoon the mixture between 12 paper cake cakes in a bun tin, filling quite generously.
Bake at 180C/170C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for around 20 minutes, or until golden brown and firm to the touch.
Cool on a wire rack.

When cold, top with vanilla butter cream/frosting...

Vegan butter icing

  • 50g/2oz dairy free spread/margarine
  • 125g/5oz icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1-2 tsp boiled water
Soften the spread.
Mix in the vanilla.
Beat in the icing sugar gradually, adding a little boiled water as needed to make a soft, spreadable mixture.

Top tip: Warning - do not open the oven to check until at least 15 minutes have passed (unless you can smell them burning!), as the egg-replacer takes longer to set than eggs would. I found this out whilst cooking my first batch and they sunk in the middle!

Alternatives: Divide between two greased and lined sandwich cake tines and bake for 30-35 minutes. I haven't tried this yet, so please do let me know if it works!
Swap the vanilla for lemon zest to make a lemon cake, 1 tsp coffee granules mixed with 2 tsp boiling water for a coffee cake, or swap 25g/1oz of the flour for unsweetened cocoa powder to make a chocolate cake. Add the same flavourings to the butter cream icing.
Integrity Statement
I have not received any payment or free products in return for this review and the views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family. 
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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Sunshine Vegetable Soup

This is my twist on a classic carrot and coriander soup, which I've called sunshine soup due to it's colour. I used various orange coloured, sweet tasting vegetables plus good old celery, onion and garlic to balance the sweetness. This soup is a great way to get several 5-a-day portions of vegetables down your kids at once!
  • 4-6 carrots
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1 orange or yellow bell pepper
  • 150g-200g/6-8oz butternut squash
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1litre/1¾ pt hot vegetable stock (made with a stock cube)
  • 25g/1oz dried red lentils
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • black pepper to taste
  • fresh chopped coriander/cilantro to serve
Peel and chop the vegetables into chunks.
Fry the onion in 1 tbsp olive oil, until soft.
Add all of the other veg and the spices to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes.
Pour in the stock and bring up to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for around 20-30 minutes, or until all the vegetables are soft.
Liquidise in a blender until smooth.

Suitable for freezing.

Make a smaller quantity of soup, using water instead of stock and omitting the pepper, for a tasty baby-food. Leave the vegetables in chunks, mash or purée depending on the age of your baby.

This post is part of the #FaveFamilyRecipes Competition with BritMums and Tilda Rice. Every pack sold will provide a meal to an expectant mum in need in support of the World Food Programme’s Mothers Helping Mothers initiative in Bangladesh.
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Sunday, 1 July 2012

What bugs a bunny? Hay fever!

When the RSPCA asked me if I'd be interested in helping to raise awareness of their new Hay Fever campaign, I jumped at the chance (get it?!) as I realised that I've not blogged about many animal welfare issues. As a vegetarian, I've often been accused of eating rabbit food, so hopefully this post will disprove the common misconception that both vegetarian people and rabbits eat a similar diet!

Although I've never had a pet rabbit, I was concerned to read that 
a recent poll (commissioned by the RSPCA)* showed that only 8% of rabbit owners knew that hay and grass should make up the most significant part of a rabbit’s diet, as that's what they would eat naturally. Commercially produced pellets or cereal mix should only be fed as a supplement to this, along with washed, leafy greens and the occasion treat of root vegetables or fruit. 

A poor diet is only one of the issues affecting pet rabbits. Unfortunately, the RSPCA
 takes in thousands of neglected or unwanted bunnies every year and they see thousands more kept in small hutches all day with no company and no opportunities to play, exercise or graze on grass.

Whether you have a rabbit or not, it would be great if you could watch and share this fun video on Twitter or Facebook, to help the RSPCA spread the word:

The RSPCA have also put together the following tips, to help you look after your furry friends...

A healthy rabbit diet should consist of:
● Mainly good quality hay which should be available at all times (a bundle of hay that’s as big as a rabbit  every day) and ideally also access to grass for grazing.
● Fresh clean grass (growing or picked by hand).
● An adult rabbit-sized handful of washed dark leafy greens such as cabbage, broccoli, kale and herbs such as parsley.
● A small amount of good quality commercial rabbit pellets, nuggets or cereal mix (no more than 25g per kg of body weight)
● Constant access to fresh, clean water.


● Despite popular belief, a rabbit’s diet shouldn’t include too much lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is not suitable.
● Carrots and apples are high in sugar and should only be fed as an occasional treat.
● Fresh clean grass is great, but not lawnmower clippings! They can upset a rabbit’s digestive system and make them ill.

For more information on caring for your pet bunny, or to find out how to adopt a rabbit, visit the
RSPCA's rabbit welfare page.

*Study commissioned by the RSPCA: ‘Assessment of the state of rabbit welfare in the UK and prioritisation of issues’, an investigation of husbandry, housing and health (and other key issues) by a team of welfare scientists, behaviourists and vets at Bristol University in a 16-month study.

Image and video courtesy of the RSPCA.
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