Beetroot, Chick Pea and Quinoa Burgers

I now realise you can make burgers from pretty much anything provided you follow a few basic principles. You need something dry, something sticky to bind it together and lots of flavours. The dry part tends to be oats, or breadcrumbs, or nuts. The sticky comes from eggs, cheese or mashed pulses.

This came about as a somewhat random recipe. made from the sort of things I have lying about the kitchen. A few vegetables, a pulse I can mash to get the stickiness and some quinoa – yeh I know quinoa is becoming all a little bit too 2015, but it adds a wonderful nutty flavour to the dish and, when the burgers are fried, it’s the quinoa that gives it it’s crispy exterior, without the need to roll the burgers in breadcrumbs or the like. Apart from the quinoa, everything else is used raw until you cook the burgers themselves.

This made four large burgers – though I think dividing it into six would be more elegant perhaps

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 medium beetroot – peeled and grated
1 medium carrot – peeled and grated
2 clove garlic – roughly chopped
1x400g tin chick peas – drained
a handful of fresh parsley leaves and stalks
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1 teaspoon oregano
salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons tahini
a splash of tabasco
juice of half a lime
a handful or so of rolled oats
olive oil for frying

Put the quinoa and water in a pan, bring to the boil, cover then simmer for 10 minutes. Leave the lid on and allow to cool.

Put the chick peas, garlic and tahini in a food processor and blitz to a rough mixture, a little bit like crunchy peanut butter. Add the grated carrot and beetroot, the parsley, paprika and oregano. Whiz for few seconds, then add the lime juice, tabasco, salt, pepper. Whiz again briefly then slowly add the oats and cooked quinoa with a quick pulse in between, until you have a firm, but still a little moist mix.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Divide the mixture into six (or 4, or even 8!). Roll each into a ball, squash into a flattish disc and fry gently in the oil for 7-9 minutes on each side. The top and bottom should be browned and crispy and the middle nice and hot.

I served mine with a red cabbage, carrot and chili slaw and a jacket potato. How are you having yours?

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Vegan Pancakes

Who doesn’t love a pancake? With Pancake Day only a couple of weeks away, and still inspired by Veganuary, I wanted to find a way of cooking them without the eggs. Most recipes substitute bananas in place of eggs, but having never been a fan of bananas I wanted to see how easy it is to make them without.

These are delicious and light and so simple.

The quantities here will make about 8-12 pancakes depending on how large and thick you like them.

300g plain flour. I used white flour but wholemeal works just as well
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
50ml flavourless vegetable oil such as sunflower or a light olive oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract – or try using a few seeds from a fresh pod
375ml dairy free milk – Almond or coconut are good
a little oil or dairy free spread for frying

Blueberries or blackberries for serving – heated with a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of water

Place all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Mix then add the oil, vanilla extract and milk. Beat with a whisk until it all forms a smooth but slightly thick batter.

Heat a little oil or dairy free spread (I like to use Flora Freedom) in a large frying pan on a medium to high heat. When the oil is nice and hot pour in a little of the batter. Depending on thickness and size use somewhere between 2 and 4 tablespoons. if the batter is a little thick, smooth it over gently with the back of a spoon.

Fry on one side for approx 2 minuts, flip and cook on the other side for a further 2 minutes. Remove and repeat, adding a little oil each time to ensure your pancakes do not stick to the pan.

Heat the berries with the sugar and water until they start to break down and serve immediately with the warm pancakes.

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Scrambled Tofu

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Regular followers of this blog will know I am a huge fan of tofu. When I hear someone say how horrid and tasteless it is I always think to myself that they don’t know how to cook it. Tofu on it’s own is pretty tasteless stuff. But then so is a piece of chicken unless you add some flavour, seasoning, marinate it, etc.

I saw this on social media recently. Written and perhaps shared by someone who has never actually eaten the stuff.

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So apart from using tofu in casseroles and stews, in stir fries, in sandwiches, burgers, salads, you can also eat the stuff for breakfast. It makes a perfect substitute for eggs, contains huge amounts of protein, pretty much zero fat plus lots of goodies like iron, calcium, zinc, selenium and more. It really is wonderful stuff. Pair that up with powerful medicinal properties of turmeric and you can enjoy a breakfast to get your day off to the best possible start.

Any firm tofu will do. Tofoo now sold in my local Tesco is particularly good as is this which I pick up from oriental supermarkets when in London and freeze.

This makes breakfast for two.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pack firm tofu – about 200g
1 small clove garlic – finely chopped or minced
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon paprika powder
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
½ teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
a splash of light soy sauce
1 tomato – diced

Heat the oil over a high to medium heat in a frying pan. Crumble the tofu with your fingers into the pan and fry for around 5 minutes, stirring frequently. The tofu may release quite a bit of water at this stage so fry a little longer if needed to dry it off.

Add the garlic, turmeric and paprika and continue to fry and stir for a further minute. Now add the remaining ingredients and carry on stirring and cooking for a further 5 minutes.

Serve on toast

Baked Buffalo Cauliflower Wings

If you follow FoodFrom4 on Instagram you’ll know that I am doing Veganuary once again. I’ve always struggled with the ethics of dairy and egg production but I’m doing Veganuary more as a way of a) trying to shed a little middle aged spread, and to expand my repertoire and try new dishes. I once met someone who knew how to cook six dishes. Monday night was chilli. Tuesday was Spaghetti Bolognese, etc. One night a week was take away night. I like to try new recipes, ideas, flavours and textures and going vegan for a month is a great way to get you thinking of creative ways to prepare plant based ingredients.

To me, cauliflower is an incredibly versatile vegetable. It works brilliantly in curries, in middle eastern inspired dishes, as a base for pizza and quiche, makes wonderful soups, can be used as a low carb alternative to mashed potato or in place of rice.

This recipe uses it as a replacement for chicken,the “traditional” way of preparing buffalo wings. These are baked too, rather than deep fried so perhaps not quite as crispy but I am sure just as tasty though having never eaten chicken wings I can’t be certain.

This makes enough to serve 4 people as a snack, starter or side dish.

1 head of cauliflower – cut into bite sized florets
125ml milk – dairy of alternative. I used almond milk
125ml water
125g plain flour – probably works with gram flour too if you are avoiding gluten
1 clove garlic – very finely chopped or crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika powder
pinch salt
black pepper
250ml hot chili sauce. Frank’s is the authentic way of doing it but I used Mitchell’s hot chili sauce. Anything with spice and sweetness will do
1 tablespoon butter of alternative – I used Flora Freedom

Put the oven onto 200C and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Mix the flour with the milk, water, garlic, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper into a thickish batter. Dip each cauliflower floret into the batter, shake off the excess and lay on the lined baking tray in a single layer. Pop this into the oven for 25 minutes still browned.

Meanwhile put the chili sauce and butter into a pan, melt slowly, mix well and set to one side.

Take the cauliflower out of the oven and into a large bowl. Pour the chili sauce over then mix well, but gently to get every floret covered in the red chili sauce. Place back on the lined baking sheet in a single layer again and return to the oven for another 25 minutes.

Serve with soured cream (or the Oatly alternative)

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Mushroom Pie

A rich and satisfying puff pastry topped pie that makes a great centrepiece for a Sunday lunch or for Christmas Day with all the trimmings

This recipe will feed 5-6 people

1 tablespoon olive oil
A knob of butter or dairy free margarine/spread
1 onion – finely chopped
300g mushrooms – sliced
1x400g tin of green, brown or puy lentils or two generous handfuls of lentils boiled in water for 20 minutes
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 vegetable stock cube or 1 teaspoon of vegetable bouillon powder
1 teaspoon marmite
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 handful parsley – roughly chopped
1 pack of puff pastry
1 egg yolk or a splash of milk (dairy or non dairy)

Heat the oil and butter or spread in a large frying pan. Add the onion and fry gently until translucent. Add the mushrooms, turn up the heat and fry off until well cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated from the pan. Add the soy sauce and stir gently.

Now add the flour and stir well so the mushrooms are coated. Slowly add water, keeping the pan on a medium to high heat, stirring all the time, until you have a nice thick gravy. Now reduce the heat to low, drain and add the lentils, stir in the marmite and crushed stock cube or bouillon powder. Simmer gently for around 5 minutes then stir in the parsley and remove from the heat.

Take a 20cm pie dish and fill with the mushroom and lentil mixture. Brush a little egg or milk around the edge of the dish, then top with the pastry, pressing down gently and tucking into the sides of the dish. Trim the edges of the pastry. Now get creative and decorate the top with shapes from the pastry trimmings. I used Christmas trees as it was Christmas and trees are nice and easy to make.

Brush the whole thing with egg or milk and pop in the oven at 200C for around 45 minutes or until golden brown and pastry and your decorations ave puffed up.

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Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Herbs

100g puy or green lentils
1 bay leaf
200g of your favourite grain (bulgur, millet, farro, quinoa, pearl barley)
1 smallish cauliflower of half a large one
half a teaspoon each of ground cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, salt
a handful of cherry tomatoes – halved
half a cucumber – diced
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
juice of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic – minced
2-3 large handfuls of herbs (parsley, mint)
pomegranate seeds

Start by cooking the lentils in a pan of water with the bay leaf. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for around 20 minutes until tender but holding their shape. Drain, rinse under cold water, discard the bay leaf and leave to one side.

Cook your grains as per the instructions. If in a hurry use bulgur as they don’t need cooking, just soaking in boiling water for 20-25 minutes. Once cooked, drain and allow to cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan. Cur the cauliflower into smallish florets then fry in the oil over a medium to high heat, stirring occasionally. Fry for 10 minutes until starting to brown. Add the ground spices and a splash of water, stir well until the cauliflower is coated with the spice mixture, cover with a lid and allow to steam for a further 4 minutes until tender then allow to cool.

Take a large bowl and add the remaining olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper. Mix well then add the cooked grains, cauliflower, tomatoes and cucumber. Roughly chop the herbs and add them too. Mix well then transfer to a nice serving dish. Finally, scatter the pomegranate seeds over and serve with flat breads and natural soya or dairy yogurt.

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Aduki Bean Pie

This is an old family favourite, developed from a recipe discovered over 20 years ago when vegetarian food meant brown rice and lentils. A few modern day tweaks and we have a delicious and highly nutritious dish.It also works well with flageolet beans.

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This made enough for 4 people

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion – chopped
A small amount of chopped red pepper
1 celery stick – finely chopped
1 carrot – peeled and diced
1 cup aduki beans – soaked overnight then boiled for 30 minutes (or use tinned)
1 teaspoon each of dried oregano, basil, thyme
1 teaspoon Marmite
2 tablespoons tomato puree
A splash of soy sauce – about a tablespoon
Stock – enough to cover the veg
Potatoes – for mashing. Enough to cover the dish you are going to use
A dollop of dairy free margarine – or butter if you prefer
Soya or almond milk – or dairy
Optional 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes and 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Heat the oil in a pan the add the onion, pepper, celery and carrot. Cook until starting to caramelise then add the herbs. Stir a little to release the herb flavours then add the marmite, soy sauce and tomato puree. Now add the drained aduki beans followed by the stock – just enough to cover the veg. Stir it all together then simmer until reduced and the sauce has thickened.

While that is all happening, grab another pan. Peel and chop the potatoes, pop them in the pan. Cover with water. Add a little salt then bring to boil and simmer until potatoes are tender. Drain and mash, adding some margarine, spread or butter and a splash of whichever milk you prefer.

Pop the filling in a dish, cover with the mashed potato. Then sprinkle the yeast flakes and seeds over. Put in oven at 200C for around 30 minutes until the topping is starting to brown the the filling is bubbling away

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