Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Turmeric and Ginger Tea with Coconut Milk

When Leigh recently had a bit of inflammation about the shoulder (a lot of wood-cutting for our woodturner and some hard gym sessions), I turned to this recipe I'd seen a friend talking about online a few weeks before.

This is my own tweaked version of what turned out to be a very nice drink indeed. It doesn't taste anything like you'd expect - it's creamy, soothing and rich with just a tang of turmeric and the knowledge, that comes with this delicious golden herb, that you're easing those inflamed tissues every time you sip.

Despite it feeling like a very wintry drink, I shall most definitely be making it again. Whether I am inflamed or not! And don't let my photos put you off - it was really hard to photograph! (all that yellow).

Makes 2 mugs.


1 x 1-inch knob of fresh turmeric
1 x 1/2-inch knob fresh ginger
2 x teaspoons almond oil or coconut oil
1 x cup full-fat coconut or soya milk
1 x cup coconut water OR powdered ground coconut
1 x generous tablespoon maple syrup


Wash the turmeric and ginger, then grate them finely into a mortar (don't bother peeling, if you grate well enough the tiny skin bits will only add to the roughage!)

Put the coconut oil into the mortar, and grind the oil into the turmeric and ginger with your pestle until they form a fine paste.

Pour the coconut milk and coconut water into a saucepan, and put in the paste made with turmeric, ginger and oil. 

Turn the heat up to medium-high and warm the ingredients together until it's bubbling a bit. Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan, allowing the turmeric and ginger to steep for about 3 minutes.  Stir in the maple syrup until it dissolves.

Strain the tea through a fine-mesh strainer or strainer into a tea pot, or pour into mugs.  
Serve warm.

If you can't get fresh turmeric (which comes in nice yellow strange-shaped blobs), substitute 2 teaspoons of organic powdered turmeric.


We’ve made our solid easter eggs twice before (you may even have eaten one) but our versions for 2015 are fabulously evolved beasts!

The eggs are a labour of love that, quite frankly, we make because we can, and because we should, and because the world has been crying out for a solid - like, actual SOLID Easter egg - since Easter Eggs were invented. Easter usually comes right in the middle of an annual busy period, so there is always a late night or two as packaging is designed and photographs are taken…samples eaten...eggs collected…but somehow we do it, for the love of sinking one’s teeth into a bed of praline or gnawing on three inches of chocolate into the night.

Hand-made for us this year by Leicester chocolatier Pete at  Cocoa Amore, whose shop sits right in the middle of the current Richard III activity in Leicester, Solid Egg 2015 has a girthy 70% cocoa shell filled with either solid chocolate or incredible soft praline. Now coming as one solid egg (rather than two halves), we’ve made these in Solid Chocolate, Praline, Salted Chocolate or Ginger (the latter in limited supply). Every egg comes wrapped in a chocolate-brown signed screen print of cocoa-loving artwork by me, printed in Factory Road, just a few doors down. Which is fully washable and can be used for any purpose after the egg is long gone!

This year we’ve made 20 available as a special edition snuggled in a hand-woven nest by international willow artist Tom Hare. If you’ve been to any of the RHS gardens, or Kew Gardens, or latterly to Bishopsgate, the Bellagio in Las Vegas or to might have seen his work. He too was in the middle of a super-busy period when we commissioned these nests from him, so we’re grateful to have them - each one will be different from the last.
As usual the eggs are 100% vegan, gluten and dairy-free, with the emphasis on flavour and quality. Oh, and size. And…weight - over 500g per egg.
Watch one being cut, and listen for the chocolate crack!

Check the photographs for proof of the existence of this magnificent celebration of bunnies, greed and re-birth!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Get Nakd cheaper!

When I first went vegan, Nakd bars became a go to snack. It was something I could easily pick up in a supermarket without having to worry about it's content as it happily boasts it's dairy free status.

It got to a stage where actually having looked at the ingredients I realised there must be a way to make these without having to fork out the high costs attached to the tiny little bars. So I got searching, and found a Larabar recipe. It's so simple, and you can mix the ingredients- swapping out nuts, adding in seeds, trying other dried fruits. Whatever you like. But this recipe is a alternative version of the Cashew Cookie Bar from Nakd- which I think is much tastier and probably saves me my pennies (haven't actually worked that out...)

Anyways, you will need:

1 cup cashews
1 cup dates 
1 tbsp peanutbutter
1-3 tbsp water

You need to have a food processor too. I have tried before to make it in a small blender but it did not like it. 

 So you follow the tricky step of chucking the right contents of everything into the food processor bar the water and hitting the blitz button until it begins to bind. At this stage add a tbsp of water at a time until it thickens more and properly sticks together. It'll look something like the image below- but it depends on how sticky you'd like it. Obviously the more water the stickier.

Then whack it all onto one half of a sheet of greaseproof paper to roll it out. Before, I used to use my hands and just mould it into a larger bar that I'd then cut up. It made it irregular, which I didn't mind, but left my hands feeling rather grim. So I started to roll it out wedged between greaseproof to save the rolling pin from making a claggy mess. 

Just cover it up- leaving space at each edge and roll it all out.

Hurrah! Then I just cut the edges off to neaten it, and cut into bars/squares ready to have healthier snacks to munch on throughout the week. My little nephew tried this once and loved it, so if you have little ones it may be a nice alternative to a choppy bar. Plus once it's made- you get to enjoy the cut off edges with a cuppa!

Friday, 6 March 2015

K on Jamie's Cheesey, creamy sauce...

It's K again, this time sharing a veganised version of a Jamie O recipe.

I’ve never really been a fan of celebrity chefs, despite watching way too many episodes of cooking shows… But when I was at uni, I lived with two people who had a real thing for famous foodies: one had a girl crush on the saucy Nigella, and the other came from a family of Jamie Oliver fans. 

And one day, the J.O fan cooked me his creamy, cheesy, tomatoey aubergine and pasta dish which I fell in love with. It became a staple meal in my repertoire, which began to develop at uni when I actually became interested in cooking and leaning new recipes. 

Then I went vegan, and the meal wasn’t an option. Jamie does have a wide selection of vegan dishes on his website though.  BUT I wanted the creamy cheesy tomatoey goodness again, so I thought I’d give it a shot using vegan imitations. 

It’s quite a simple recipe which you can easily add or subtract from/ get creative with. 

You’ll need:
An aubergine.
2-3 cloves of garlic.
2 onions- red or white, whatever you have to hand/prefer.
Olive Oil.
Salt and Pepper
A tin of chopped Tomatoes.
Tomato Puree (optional.)
Balsamic Vinegar. 
Soya Cream or a dairy free cream alternative.
Vegan imitation mozzarella cheese, or one that is meant to melt. 
Basil (optional.)

Firstly, chop up your onions and garlic all nice and fine, and whack them in the pan with a glug of olive oil over a low heat to soften. 

While that is occurring, cut up your aubergine. I do mine about as big as in the snap below, but you can do them as big/small as you like it’ll just alter cooking time. 

By the time you’ve chopped that all up your onion and garlic should be ready to have the aubergine added in, and gently cook it until it starts to get tender. 

Once you’ve reached that stage, whack in some seasoning, stir, and then pour in the chopped tinned tomatoes, and some puree if you have some to hand. 

Bring it all to the boil, and then reduce to a simmer until the aubergine is nice and soft (or if you prefer it a little differently, alter to your taste.)

With that doing it’s thing, salt some water, bring it to the boil and add the pasta in. 

When you’re about five minutes away from the pasta being cooked, add the cream. I tend to just pour it in until the sauce is a similar shade to the image above. But you can add as much or as little as you like/have available. Mix it in well and leave on a low heat. 

Then cut half a block of the vegan cheese (or more) into small chunks and stir it through the sauce, along with 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, before draining the pasta off and then chucking it in the sauce as well and mixing it all together.  Add some chopped fresh basil and stir it in too. 

Whack it in a bowl, eat, enjoy. It may not look the most attractive, but it sure tastes yum.

N.B. I did this without the 'cheese', and liked it just as much. Personally, I found the 'cheese' didn’t melt as much as I anticipated. But G said he much preferred it with the addition of the mozzarella style goodness. So I guess it’s just personal preference! 

Thursday, 26 February 2015


Yes, we've made it.
Vegan 'Nutella'.

It's horribly easy. So easy you'll be rounder than you've ever been in a month's time. Yep, fat vegans exist y'know.

1 cup of mixed brazils and cashew nuts
2 tsp pure organic vanilla extract
3 tbsps raw cacao powder
4 tbsps maple syrup
1 tbsp coconut oil
One-eighth of a teaspoon of salt
Half a cup of almond milk

Blend the nuts in a food processor or blender till they form a paste. (We actually put ours through the juicer, as we have a grinding attachment, and this worked really well. If you do, you'll need to move the nuts to your food processer/blender afterwards to continue.)

Add the coconut oil to the nuts, carry on blending till the mixture starts to get smooth.

Add all of the remaining ingredients and blend till creamy and 'spreadable'.

That's it.
It should look something like the extreme close-up below. We ate it on Leigh's fresh crusty home-made bread.

Now go away and eat it, for the love of all that's chocolatey.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Hands down to the Lansdowne.

On Wednesday, G had to venture into Leicester to buy some Okra for a curry he's making me, and one that I believe will be featuring on the blog courtesy of Sarah at a later date! I decided to tag along mainly for one reason: I wanted to try out the vegan menu at the Lansdowne pub.

Located on the London road, a mere five minute walk from the train station, the Lansdowne is part of the Orange Tree group. I'd seen another vegan foodie based in Leicester talk about the place so I thought I'd venture there myself, and after nosing at the menu I was eager to get my chops around some polenta fries!

Now the place has a really nice interior, with a mixture of beautifully designed furniture, and just a relaxed atmosphere. We arrived for opening at 12, and within the first half an hour a steady flow of customers entered- which I think is always a good sign.

Like I said I did look at their autumn menu before we went, and had my heart settled on their Mediterranean Vegetable stew- full of butternut squash, grilled pepper, aubergine and artichokes in a rich red pepper sauce served with mashed flageolet beans. But I wasn't hungry enough for it, so instead settled on the homemade raw carrot hummus and grilled veg sandwich on a nice ciabatta. It's nice to see on their menu that they source their breads from a local Leicestershire bakery. I love businesses that are conscientious of their stock sourcing- and supporting local trade!

I upgraded the sarnie (for £2) to make sure I had the chance to sample the polenta fries, and G had a veggie burger, consisting of halloumi & sweet potato which, like their other burgers, comes with the choice polenta fries or normal wedges. And oh boy, those fries were divine. Nice crispy edge and chewy soft middle. I'm not sure how I've never made them before, especially with a bag of polenta sitting in the back of the cupboard. Let's just say, the polenta won't be staying there forever, and with a vegan polenta recipe in my newest cookbook, I shall definitely be making my own. 

Now, the restaurant was great. Whenever I had any questions about the food the staff were super accommodating and quick to get answers. The deserts board seemed to have no vegan options but when asked the kitchen gave me the option of a lemon sorbet or mixed berry samosas. Being pretty full, and with neither option screaming out to me I declined. 

One thing that niggled me: the lack of sandwich/lunchtime/lighter eating choices for vegans. Don't get me wrong, what I had was absolutely tasty, filling and satisfying. I just wish there had been a tad more variety. Their other vegan dish choices seemed more like an evening meal affair. 

Saying that, I shall be going back (this time in the evening) to make sure I get a taste of that appealing Mediterranean stew. Even G said he'll go for a vegan option next time.

Monday, 9 February 2015


We have needed a decent protein ball for a long time, since we are doing more in the gym and Leigh is currently also engaged in some heavy wood-manipulation (we have a woodburner to feed, which in turn feeds the whole house with heat and hot water).

So this is what I came up with. It is a combination of several recipes with my own alterations and additions! It's simple and you can knock up a batch every Sunday like we are now, ready for down-the-week pre-/post-gym or anytime-in-between protein injections, or in your packed lunches.

I also thought these made a good 'BACKATCHA' to Katherine's Raw Carrot Cake Bites - these too are raw.

[Note: Do not use whey protein - it behaves differently from plant-based protein and will not keep as long either (and it make your balls smell funny.)]

Use the same sized cup for everything.
I used a mug, and it made about 20 balls.

1 cup of almonds
1 fistful of cashew nuts (about a quarter of a cup)
1 cup of soya, pea, hemp or other plant-derived protein powder
Pinch of salt
2 x tablespoons pure cocoa powder (not hot chocolate)
2 x tablespoons of coconut oil (MELT GENTLY till liquid)
5 x tablespoons of maple syrup
0.5 cup coconut, almond or soya milk
3 teaspoons of organic (non-propylene glycol) vanilla essence
1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes - half as an ingredient, half for rolling the balls in


Put the dry ingredients - almonds and cashews, protein powder, cocoa powder and salt - into a blender/food processor (we do it on the top of the Kenwood Chef).
Leave the coconut aside for now.
Blend carefully till crumbly but a wee bit sticky-togethery.

Then, in a separate bowl, mix together by hand the maple syrup, melted coconut oil, soya milk and vanilla essence - basically, all the wet ingredients.

Add half the coconut to the wet ingredients once mixed.

Scrape the wet ingredients into the dry stuff in the blender and blend carefully.
You'll probably need to scrape it down from the sides now and again (WITH THE BLENDER SWITCHED OFF!)

When it's well mixed - good and squidgy - dump the lot into a bowl being careful to get ALL that precious mixture out of the blender with a spatula.

Roll into balls neatly about the size of the bottom half of a hen's egg, and roll in the coconut.

Place into a lidded tin on a layer of baking paper, and leave them with the lid off for the first 12 hours or so (or overnight) - this helps them firm up a bit.

Then stuff them in your face.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Healthy, sweet and tasty!

It's K again here, and this time with again I have a recipe review. (Don't worry I do "freestyle" in the kitchen... sometimes.)

Now, I spoke before in my introduction about my love of sweet things. And boy, have I been indulging in the sweets... What I love more finding is healthier versions of sweet treats that I love, that give me the same sugar rush feeling but don't leave me feeling like I need to go for a run.

When I saw these Raw Carrot cake bites, I was eager to get 'baking'.

So I should say this shot is taken from this fab book, by Aine Carlin. G got me it from the Works- we were strolling around my little hometown around Christmas or just after, and it was one of the few shops open. The book though was so cheap! And full of fantastic recipes. You should buy it! If you're low on funds, I did find a recipe link online here.

Now, the recipe I linked you to uses cups (which I honestly prefer) but in the book it's in grams. No big shakes. 

But whilst I was making the recipe I realised I was 50g short of the total needed for pecans. I soldiered on anyway, and I don't think it effected the result that much. I also used normal dates and not medjool, sultanas and not raisins. Rebel, I know. 

The recipe along with being healthy is super easy to make- extra brownie points for that! (The book also features some fab looking brownies which I may have to try.)

In fact the "worst" part of the job was grating my carrot and zesting my orange. Such an effort to get that off there!

Squeezing the wetness out of the carrot was a pretty weird experience too. I mean I've done it to other food stuffs but it felt weirder with a carrot. Maybe I could have done with it's moisture.

Then you just chuck everything in a food processor and let it do it's thing! Little before and after for you. 

Once I thought I got it to the right consistency (which doesn't look as refined as the book's but still looked clumpy-ish), I took a ball out shaped it, and tried rolling it in the coconut. As you can see, not great coverage.

It just wasn't sticky enough. That bothered me more than the fact that they didn't have a radiantly orange centre like in the recipe book- mine are a bit more rustic. As a result of stick-less-ness, I lobbed it back in the food processor, added some water and let it stick up. I'm unsure why mine was so dry in comparison, maybe my fault for swapping in/out stuff, but it was nothing a bit of water couldn't solve. I did think of adding some of the orange juice, but I ate my orange after zesting so water was the way forward. 

The water helped! The coconut stuck a lot better. I then got stuck in to rolling out all of the other balls before coating them. Warning: it is very sticky work, and if you don't like getting messy hands you might struggle with it. Also, it is so very tempting to pop pieces in your mouth as you go along. 

Ready for the fridge. You know, for once, I actually made more of something than the recipe calls for! Partially I think because I was worried of using too much to start with, and then realised I could go bigger. Variety is the spice of life though, hey?

Boy though, they taste amazing, and it's nice to have all the different little sizes so you can pick and mix like 3 small or 2 large. G approves too.

As a last note, I really do recommend the book. Like I said, it's full of super recipes and so cheap. It saves hundreds of hand washes when your iPad/iphone falls asleep and you need to used the screen again to follow cooking steps. And I love recipe books, I love the signs of a well loved recipe through the stained parts and crumbs and just being able to not be connected to technology for a bit and escape in the realms of the kitchen. 

I'm thinking I might tackle Carlin's carrot and courgette loaf next, or the focaccia bread. Oh and the shepherdess pie with the cabbage and apple side, oh my... too many options!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015


It's Katherine again, and with an actual recipe! 

So, back in June, I spent a week in Islington for a graduate design fair. But this post isn’t about that: it’s about a tasty little restaurant that sparked my love of Vietnamese food. 

And that place is Pho- a family run business of Vietnamese foodie enthusiasts! Along with their Islington store they have locations throughout London and a few in Brighton and Leeds. Definitely worth a visit! Plus cute little illustrations of their stores, what's not to like?

Pho (pronounced fuh) is actually the name of the Vietnamese Rice noodle broth dish. It’s typically made with a meat broth that takes hours to develop in flavour, but obviously there are vegan and vegetarian alternatives. The first time I entered the Pho restaurant I had the Phở chay- a rice noodle broth with with tofu and button mushrooms. It comes with a selection of garnishes like beans sprouts, and a variety of herbs that you chuck on to your own taste! Pho is a little bowl of nutritious loveliness. It’s the type of food that leaves you feeling content, revitalised and not over full. 

Since my first visit, I have actually made special effort when in London with the other ‘alf to venture there and share the food. Surprisingly Asian cuisine is our middle ground where we both find grub we like despite the seemingly oppositional taste palettes I mentioned in my intro. I can’t remember my main there, because really the stand out dish was their Spring rolls. Fresh vegetables wrapped in rice paper with the tastiest peanut dipping sauce. SO GOOD. 

With my New Year resolution to be to learn more new recipes, I thought where else better to start than with a Pho! I mainly used this recipe: which is a pretty solid base and I didn’t deviate much. The Pho relies on your broth, which takes time to develop its flavour. So whilst it did that, we made Vietnamese style spring rolls with a peanut dipping sauce to go with- the recipes for those are further down!

First, you have to make your broth.  Made from the fine selection of ingredients you see above:

1 large onion, peeled and halved
2-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and halved lengthwise
3-inch cinnamon stick, preferably Vietnamese cassia-cinnamon1 star anise
2 cloves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 cups unsalted vegetable stock
2 teaspoons soy sauce
4 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
(Noodles don’t get cooked in the broth…)

Now firstly, let’s address the first step from the recipe: 

Char onion and ginger over an open flame (holding with tongs) or directly under a broiler until slightly blackened, about 5 minutes on each side. Rinse with water.

I may be a little slow on the uptake, but a broiler is a grill. So if you didn’t know that, I saved you a google search- just sayin’. And as we have an induction hob and no flame device, it was in said grill there that I placed my onions (as we didn’t have a big one) alongside my ginger until it looked like this: 

I hate in recipes where it says things like nearly, or until it looks like this. But then they include no photo to help you realise what this is. So here’s my shot, and hopefully it is somewhat near right. And if you try the recipe and get something similar, I hope this proves some assurance. 

After grilling those bad boys, you toast all of the spices mentioned (and I added an 1/8 of a spoon of fennel seeds too) until you get an aromatic smell emanating from your pan. Then chuck in all of the other stuff -BUT NOT YOUR NOODLES- and get that stuff up to a boil! When the boiling is happening, cover, simmer for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, you get to the toppings, the noodles and time to make yourself a tasty tasty side dish. 

The noodles (200g suggested) need to be covered in warm water and soaked for 25-30 minutes. I did mine about 5 mins after the broth had been simmering away and they were ready in time at the end. But the broth can always wait for you. Here are suggestions for the toppings/garnishes from the recipe:

Toppings (optional): Protein such as fried or baked tofu, bean curd skin, or seitan. Mushrooms. Vegetables such as bok choy, napa cabbage, or broccoli

Garnishes: 1/2 onion- very thinly sliced, 2 scallions- thinly sliced, 1 chile pepper (Thai bird, serrano, or jalapeño) 1 lime- cut into wedges, 1/2 cup bean sprouts, Large handful of herbs: cilantro, Thai basil, culantro/saw-leaf herbHoisin sauce, sriracha (optional)

We decided on the addition of tofu and shiitake mushrooms for our toppings. The garnishes pretty much just need removing from any packaging/plant. So you don’t have to worry about them too much in advance. We simply fried off the tofu cubes and the sliced shiitake mushrooms - starting all that jazz about 10 minutes before it needed to be ready. 

(Browning the tofu very gently before adding the mushrooms in until cooked.)

Now, the TASTY side- Spring rolls with dipping sauce. These are super easy to make, are fresh and delicious.  Again, we used a recipe: here as a guide and improvised a bit. 

Ours included: cucumber, green pepper, carrot, spring onion, beansprouts and some run of the mill cabbage. Along with the veggies are the herbs: coriander and mint. 

I did see that a lot of recipes called for Thai Basil, which I didn’t have and couldn't find locally enough, quick enough. So after a google search I learned that mint is a better replacement for the Thai Basil than typical basil! 

For the Spring roll, You simply get your rice paper sheet translucent and pliable through soaking it in warm water, and then fill it up with a bit of each veggie some herbs, wrap and repeat! 


For the Spring roll dipping sauce I used about a quarter of these amounts:

-1/3 cup water
  - 3/4 cup of peanut butter (crunchy I used)
-3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 1/2 medium limes)
-4 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

Which I did simply by looking at the measurements actually written on spoons/cups and doing rough division. I didn’t realise that the original dipping sauce recipe I looked at had way more ingredients, but I just whisked these together and it tasted great!

Now this is all done, your broth will probably be ready! After the 30 minutes is up, drain your noodles and place them in a bowl with your cooked topping: I also sneaked in some of the onions and carrot from the broth. Because once it’s simmered away for 30 minutes it tells you to sieve it so the broth is obviously without bits. But I hated the idea of wasting tasty food… (just be careful for seeds and bits!)

Then you ladle over the tasty stock. Add as many garnishes as you want and hey presto! Pho and Spring rolls are ready to be eaten.

Our topping choices were: beansprouts, a slices spring onion, some fresh chilli, coriander and mint, with a squeeze of lime!

Everything ready and ready to be eaten!  This is, I warn, a really filling dish. We ended up leaving some of the spring rolls to eat the next day. If you want to eat both dishes at once, I would recommend only using 100g of rice noodles as opposed to the 200g that is recommended in the recipe. If just Pho, go for the whole amount.

It is really tasty! And if you make it, hopefully you find it tasty too and let us know. 

**SARAH SAYS: I cannot wait to try this. These. ALL OF IT**

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