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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Kale, Ricotta and Leek Pancakes

Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day, or Mardis Gras. So what better day to finally break away from Veganuary with a little dairy and eggs. Yes I know there are plenty of vegan pancake recipes all over the Internet but I decided to go a little traditional, but with a twist.

Veganuary was great. I loved trying out lots of new ideas and the challenge of cooking vegan having been so used to throwing cheese onto meals for over 30 years. But I never intended it to stay with me forever. I’ll certainly be cutting down on my dairy and egg consumption, but won’t rule it out altogether until next January comes around.

Instagram was littered with photos and recipes for sweet pancakes, but having never had a sweet tooth, I opted for something savoury. i do however find it most annoying that supermarkets insist on selling kale, chopped and bagged. Given they chop the tough stem into little chunks, it makes it far less convenient than selling the leaves whole. So make sure you pick out all the tough little cuttings of stem as they really are not pleasant.

This made around 6-8 pancakes (depending on the size of your pan) so enough for 2-3 people.

You can start with either the pancakes of the filling. For the sake of argument I’ll start with the filling.

a splash of olive oil
200g Kale – tough stems removed
1 small leek – cut in half lengthwise then sliced into 1cm slices
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
a pinch of nutmeg
100g ricotta
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the kale in a pan and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Leave to steep for around 4 minutes then drain well. Put in a large bowl to cool.

Heat the oil in a frying pan then gently fry the leeks and garlic until softened. This should take about 7-8 minutes. Add the nutmeg then take off the heat and add to the kale.

Now tip in the ricotta and mix well. Season to taste then set aside while you make the pancakes.

For the pancakes you’ll need
100g wholemeal flour
2 eggs
150ml Almond milk – you can use dairy of coconut, but almond does give it a little nutty edge
150ml water
Sunflower or groundnut oil for frying

Put the flour in a large mixing bowl then add the eggs. Give than a quick mix with a whisk then add the milk. Mix and beat well to remove any lumps.

Take a large frying pan and heat a tiny amount of oil. Gte the pan nice and hot. Now take about ½ cup of the batter and pour into the pan. The best way to get coverage it to tilt the pan and pour at the top, then swirl the pan around as you pour so the batter spreads evenly. Cook for about 30-45 seconds until firm and the edges are starting to brown, turn, flip or whatever takes your fancy and cook the other side for 30 seconds. Remove and repeat the process until all the batter has gone.

Divide the filling evenly between the pancakes then roll the pancakes up and place in a lightly oiled oven dish. Grate 120g Emmental over the pancakes (you could use a strong cheddar or a gruyere perhaps) and pop them in an oven at 180C for around 25-30 minutes until nice and hot and the cheese starting to brown just a little.

I served mine with roasted new potatoes and a selection of salads.

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Mushroom & Rice Burgers with Raw Cashew Hummus

I had some leftover rice from a black bean and sweet potato chilli party last week and, as vegans have a bit of a reputation for burger eating, I decided to use them as the base for a Sunday night tea of burgers, salad and baked potatoes. Usually I would be adding cheese and an egg to my burger mix, but participating in #veganuary has taught me that it just isn’t needed and does little to ass to flavour or texture.

The raw cashew hummus is from Lee Watson’s brilliant book Parsnips and Peace and works brilliantly with the jacket spuds as an alternative to the rather unpleasant dairy-free margarines on the market. I just left out the cumin as not sure that would have worked with the burgers.

This makes 4 burgers

For the burgers
1 cup cooked rice
1x400g tin of cannelini beans – drained. You could use butter beans or chick peas if you prefer
3 shallots – finely chopped
1 fat clove garlic – finely chopped
1 cup mushrooms – finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for frying the burgers
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon Marmite
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tahini
1 large handful of spinach – chopped

Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the onion and garlic and fry gently until translucent. Now add the mushrooms, soy and Marmite. Cook on a medium to high heat until the mushrooms are soft and the pan is almost dry. Leave to cool.

Put the drained beans in a large mixing bowl and mash roughly with a potato masher or fork. Add the rice, tahini, oregano, spinach and mushroom mixture. Mix well.

Take a large frying pan, drizzle with oil and place over a medium heat. Take a large handful of the burger mixture, shape into a ball. Place in the pan and squidge it down to resemble a burger. You may need to shape it a little with your spatula. Do this for the other three burgers if your pan is large enough, or fry in batches and keep warm in the oven. These are quite fragile so best to disturb them as little as possible. Leave to cook on one side for around 10 minutes, then gently lift and turn, and fry for further 10 minutes. Again you may have to push them back into shape if they fall apart a little.

Once done, lift and plate up with a white cabbage and fennel slaw and a hot jacket potato crammed full of the cashew hummus.

For the Hummus
250g cashews (not the roasted salted ones) – soaked in water for 3-4 hours
3 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic
100ml olive oil
juice of half a lemon
a little water

Drain the cashews then put everything in the food processor. Blitz until smooth and creamy, adding a little water if needed to loosen it up. Make sure you scrape down the sides between blitzing to remove all the lumpy bits..

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Roasted Pepper Stuffed With Bulghur, Chick Peas & Herbs

For those of you that have been following me you’ll know I decided to take part in #veganuary. Veganuary is a global campaign highlighting the impact the meat and dairy industry has on our planet. The idea is simple. Cut out meat, fish, dairy, eggs and honey from your diet for the month of January, a month where many people go for faddy diets, refrain from alcohol or detox after the festive season.

I am almost half way through now and loving it. My waistline cannot hide the fact I have always been a cheese lover, but surprisingly I have found the two weeks of Veganuary so far to be much easier than I thought.

Before starting I resigned myself to the fact I would be eating stir fries, veg chilis and curries day in day out, but with a little thought and reading aoround the subject, the options are limitless. Tonight I opted for a silky smooth, roasted, stuffed pepper. In the past I would smother these with cheese but going vegan has taught me it tastes just as good without the cheese and all the bad things that brings.

This makes enough for 4 people for a lunch, or 2 if you are greedy.

4 Peppers – any colour will do
a large handful of bulghur wheat – about a cup
1x400g tin of chickpeas
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon paprika
A pinch of ground cinnamon
1 tomato – skinned and finely diced
1 onion – finely chopped
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
a handful each of fresh parsley, basil and mint – roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Put the oven on at 180C

Cut the tops off the peppers, leaving the stalk on. Remove the seeds and place the peppers and lids in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of oil and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

Take a small frying pan and heat 1 tablespoon. Add the onion and garlic and fry gently until slightly browned. Remove from heat and put in a bowl.

Cover the bulghur with boiling water and leave for 15 minutes. The grains will swell and absorb most of the liquid. Drain in a sieve and add to the bowl

Drain the chick peas and rinse under a cold tap to remove the odd tinny flavour. Add the drained chick peas to the bowl along with the tahini, paprika, chopped herbs and skinned, chopped tomato. Season and mix well.

Now spoon the mixture into the peppers, squidging them down to cram it all in. Pop the lids on and return to the oven for at least 40 minutes, or preferably an hour.

Serve with salad, or roasted new potatoes, or a little soya yogurt.

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