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Vegan Currywurst at Beelzebab, Apple Braised Cabbage and an Impromptu Vegan Dinner Party

Week 2 of Veganuary has passed with neither insult nor injury.

My stomach has returned to its former not-8-months-pregnant-looking glory thanks to the week 1 bloating phase being well behind us and, at this half way mark, I’ve not really had a craving for anything non vegan or felt particularly deprived.

This perceived lack of deprivation in my diet may well be coming only from the fact that I’m also knee deep in Dry January, and all minor inconveniences are paling in comparison to the fact that not a single drop of alcohol has passed my lips in 14 days. Who’s to say.

Here’s this weeks highlight reel:

Beelzebab at The Hope and Ruin

Beelzebab are renowned the whole city over for their vegan kebabs and hot dogs, but it was the ‘loaded fries’ side of the menu that my friend and I gravitated towards when we were in for a drink this week.

Currywurst (right) is £5.95 and chilli cheese fries (left) are £6.95, both an ideal portion for a carb-heavy, self indulgent, beautifully beige dinner – highly recommended on a Monday – and both completely delicious. We’ve already made plans to come back this week and try the dogs, so watch this space for a report back on those.

Beelzebab can be found at The Hope and Ruin: 11-12 Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3WA. Full menu can be found here but is (I think) ever so slightly out of date price-wise.

Apple Braised Cabbage

Apple Braised Cabbage

Cabbage is really boring and annoying when you just cook it by itself. Braise it on a Sunday and whack it in the fridge and you’ve got a ready made, slightly less boring and annoying green vegetable side ready for a midweek meal.

Makes 2-3 servings

1 savoy cabbage, 1 onion, 1 apple, 1 tbsp cider vinegar, pinch sugar (or drizzle of honey if not veganuary-ing), 500ml veg stock

Slice onions finely and get them cooking low and slow in a heavy based saucepan. While the onions are cooking, roll up cabbage leaves and slice finely to create long strands. Finely slice apples. Add cabbage and apples to onions. Pour over the stock, vinegar and sugar. Bring to the boil then simmer for anywhere between 35 minutes and an hour. The longer, the better the flavour – just keep an eye out and make sure you don’t lose all the juices.

Kale and Cauliflower Coconut Curry with Clove, Cumin and Date Rice

This was an off the cuff, using-stuff-up-in-the-cupboard dinner and I’m really just posting the recipe here because my Mum wants it. If it interests you, however:

Serves 2-3

For the curry: 1/2 a head of cauliflower (cut into florets), 1 bag kale (stalks removed), 1 onion (chopped), thumb sized piece of ginger (thinly sliced), 1 green chilli (thinly sliced), 1 can coconut milk, 1 veg stock cube, 2 tbsps peanut butter, 2 tbsps curry powder

For the rice: 1 mug basmati rice, 1 pinch cumin seeds, 3 cloves, handful medjool dates, chopped

Cook the onions, ginger and chilli for 5 minutes or until onions are beginning to brown. Add cauliflower, kale and curry powder and cook for two minutes, ensuring everything’s coated in the curry powder. Pour in the coconut milk, then put the stock cube in the coconut milk can, fill it with boiling water and pour that into the pan too. Add the peanut butter and give it a stir. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the sauce is thick and the cauliflower is cooked.

While the curry cooks, get the rice on. In a saucepan, toast the spices (no oil) for a couple of minutes to start releasing their flavour. Put the rice in the pan followed by three mugs of water. Again, bring to boil then simmer. It should be ready around the same time as the curry – but double check pack instructions on cooking times. Stir through chopped dates once the rice is cooked and drained.

A Vegan Dinner Party

When my friend came to visit from Tunbridge Wells this weekend, we found ourselves at a loss for what to do when ‘sitting at the pub until we can’t string a sentence together anymore’ (our usual activity of choice) was ruled out as an option thanks to my selfish decision to take on Dry January. So, rather last minute, we decided I’d descend upon Rem‘s kitchen and knock up a couple of courses.

Cherry Tomato and Chestnut Mushroom Bolognese

 

Serves 4-6

2 punnets (or 500g) chestnut mushrooms (chopped into small cubes), 2 onions (finely chopped), 3 cloves garlic (minced), 2 carrots (peeled and finely sliced),  2 tins cherry tomatoes, 1 veg stock cube, 1 large glass red wine, 1 tsp marmite

Gently cook the onions, carrot, mushrooms and garlic until beginning to caramelise. Add the wine and cook on a medium heat until reduced (5 minutes or so tops should do it). Add the cherry tomatoes, and fill one of the empty cans with the stock cube and boiling water, then add that to the pan too. Finally add the marmite and season to taste (a pinch of sugar never goes amiss here, but I’ll leave that up to you). Simmer for 15 minutes or until thickened.

Cherry Coconut Vegan Browies

These are unreal. Follow this recipe but sub the ground almonds for desiccated coconut. Unless you fancy ground almonds, in which case follow it to the letter. I served them hot with alpro soya vanilla ice cream which is now sold in the freezer section of pretty much all the big supermarkets.

That’s it for this week..

This weekend I am going to Nice!! In the South of France!! All by myself!! For no reason beside the fact that sober weekends in Brighton are really weird!! So I’ll either cobble together something while I’m waiting for my flight home on Sunday night or.. this will be late next week. Who knows.

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Veganuary 2019 | Sweet Potato Peanut Stew, Fake Nando’s and Food Shame

*taps mic*.. this thing still on?

If anything was going to bring your old pal Cate out of the woodwork, it was going to be Veganuary. I’ve delved into the depths of my brain LastPass folder to recover my WordPress password, I’ve dusted off my keyboard, I’ve remembered how to string a sentence together. Let’s do this.

So, how’s it going?

By far the easiest transition to Veganuary I’ve had to date. I don’t know if its down to the mass uptake of the challenge nationally, the delight I find in novelty of any kind or just my body’s sheer desperation for an increase in vegetables after a month of surviving on whisky and crisps, but it’s been entirely painless.

I’d like to say that a widened availability of vegan products has contributed to how I’ve found my first week as it has for many others, but to be honest I’ve hardly touched them. I haven’t even gotten a Greggs vegan sausage roll down my gullet yet. I’ve rediscovered my love of food prep and signed up for weekly Riverford veg boxes. I’ve gone all in.

One drawback? The bloating. Fuck me, the bloating. My friends are all sick of the sight of my belly after a week of nightly WhatsApps to the tune of “Look! Look at how pregnant I look! Can you believe that! I’m not even pushing my stomach out! This is just what it looks like now!!”

If you’re taking part in Veganuary for the first time: please be reassured that no, you’re not alone and yes, this does stop eventually. It’s your body getting used to an increase in veg and pulses and just flipping out a little bit over such a drastic change. If you’re still bloated or uncomfortable this time next week, it might be worth breaking down what you’re eating and seeing what’s going on.

Vegan Nando’s

Pretend meat products are an expensive (and packaging-heavy) route to go down during Veganuary, so I don’t tend to veer in their direction particularly often. However, I’m a firm believer in following ones food cravings all the way to the freezer aisle and when I had a right hankering for a Nando’s, that’s exactly what I did.

Pictured above are vegan Quorn nuggets, chips with peri peri salt, peas with grated garlic, lemon juice and rapeseed oil stirred through and a generous helping of Nando’s peri peri sauce.

Verdict on the vegan Quorn nuggets: they don’t taste like chicken any more than chicken nuggets taste like chicken, but they have the same warm, familiar, stodgy, beige quality that chicken nuggets have, and are therefore a perfectly acceptable substitute.

The Great Sausage Roll Debate

It’s unlikely to have escaped your attention that this week, there has been a lot of feuding across social media sparked by – but not limited to the subject matter of – the Greggs vegan sausage roll.

I kept my head below the parapet for most of this week where internet beef (or internet beef substitute) was concerned (who has the time??!), but when I saw a journalist utter the words “What is the point of anything that isn’t healthy?”, I couldn’t help but weigh in a little bit.

Even as I write this, I’m still struggling to get past the fact that somebody involved with food professionally could hold such a stance. I wanted to share my response to that view here, to serve as a permanent reminder that food goes beyond sustenance and nutrition – two things that I’m suddenly questioned about relentlessly during Veganuary.

Food is quite literally life. Be it fresh, local organic vegetables or cold chicken balls dipped in questionable, slightly congealing sweet chilli sauce leftover from last night’s Chinese. It can, and should, spark joy and be respected and celebrated for more than just its nutritional content.

Peanut, Garlic, Ginger and Sweet Potato Stew with Coconut Sticky Rice

This is a meal I knocked up before going back to work to see me through dinner times on my 12-8 shifts. I posted it on Twitter and a lot of you asked for the recipe, at the time I gave out some half arsed instructions and the ingredients, here’s the real deal:

Serves 4
Stew: 

3 sweet potatoes, 1 red pepper, 3 cloves garlic, two thumb sized pieces of ginger, 3 tbsps peanut butter, 2 tbsps chilli bean sauce, 1 tbsp bouillon powder + 750ml water (or 750ml any veg stock)

Thinly slice the garlic and ginger into slivers. Heat 1 tbsp oil (I used rapeseed) in a heavy set pan and fry gently. Peel and chop sweet potatoes into small chunks. Add sweet potatoes to garlic and ginger. Chop red pepper into 1 cm chunks and add to the pan.

In a measuring jug (or other convenient receptacle) mix the peanut butter, chilli bean sauce and stock until combined. Pour over the vegetables. Bring to boil then simmer very gently until the sweet potatoes are cooked and the sauce is thick and delicious. Check after twenty minutes or so.

Sticky coconut rice: 

1 small mug rice, 1 can coconut milk, 1 small mug cold water, pinch salt

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer until rice is cooked. Refer to pack instructions on rice cooking time, but keep a close eye on it yourself – once all the moisture has been absorbed and it looks done, it’s probably done.

Thanks for still paying any attention to what I have to say about anything when I abandoned you for 9 months without a word

I’ll be back this time next week with more of the same, I hope. Until then..

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4 Quick, (Mostly) Vegetarian Dinners for Spring

Typically, the weather is yet to make up its mind about which season we’re currently experiencing. I’ve been pushing on with spring regardless under the guidance of the calendar alone – sometimes eating outside, sometimes on the sofa under a blanket wondering how long it’s been since I’ve seen the sky. That’s April for you.

Quick, easy dinners that can be rustled up on a weeknight after a long day at work were my most requested post last year. This year (now that I have a proper job where I have to actually use my brain) that’s all I have time for anyway, so you can expect plenty of these in the months to come.

Spaghetti with Tuna, Capers and Lemon

Spaghetti with Tuna, Capers and Lemon

Boil 150-200g spaghetti in salted water according to pack instructions. Reserve about 1/4 cup of pasta water just before draining. Put it back in the pan with the splash of pasta water and add the juice of a lemon, a can of tuna, a tbsp capers, a generous knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Keep the heat under it and keep stirring til rich and saucy. Stir through a handful of chopped fresh parsley just before serving.

Tip: if you want extra greens, stir through a big handful of rocket at the same time as the parsley.

Rhubarb and Lentil Curry

Rhubarb and Lentil Curry

I put a call out on Twitter recently for savoury rhubarb recipes and this one from Jenny Chandler blog came highly recommended by Gourmet Goat. I loved it. It was quick to prepare, warming enough to comfort me in the depths of a rain spell but fresh and new enough (thanks to the rhubarb) to be completely appropriate for spring.

Soften onion (1), celery and carrots (2 of each), on a medium heat and add 3 sliced garlic cloves. Stir in 1 tbsp ground cumin, 1 tbsp ground coriander and 1/2 tsp chilli flakes. Add 350g rhubarb cut into chunks 150g puy or green lentils (rinsed). Pour in 600ml veg stock, bring to boil then simmer for 20 mins. Add 1 tbsp soft brown sugar, simmer for 5-10 mins more.

Vegan Mac and Cheese with Rocket

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is more commonly used as an autumn and winter staple, but I’m easing it into spring by taking the portion size down just a little and adding a great big handful of greens to the bowl. This recipe makes enough for 4.

Boil 200-300g macaroni and set aside. Cook 30g butter and 30g flour together until a paste forms. Gradually add about half a carton of soya milk, whisking all the time to avoid lumps. Keep the heat low and cook to thicken, whilst adding generous shakes of smoked paprika, cayenne and garlic powder. Add salt to taste. If you have some, throw in a handful of nutritional yeast. Finally, add an entire block of vegan cheese*, grated. Mix the macaroni into the sauce and (if you want, this isn’t a completely necessary step) bake at 180C Fan/Gas Mark 6 for around 20 minutes. Serve with plenty of greens.

* the vegan cheese I recommend most highly/that is most affordable is ASDA’s cheddar alternative. See here.

Tofu and Spinach Curry

Tofu and Spinach Curry

This is the easiest dinner in the world thanks to a vital short cut: jarred curry sauce. If you’ve been reading this blog a while you’ll know it’s not a place for food snobs. If you want to rustle up your own curry sauce for this one, fire away. For me, this is the dinner I can pull out of the bag in 20 minutes with next to no effort after a shit day.

Soften 1 chopped onion then add half a block of pressed tofu, chopped into cubes. Once browned, add half a bag of spinach, tearing with your hands before adding to the pan (quicker than chopping). Pour over a jar of curry sauce (personal fave is Lloyd Grossman tikka masala) and cook until spinach is wilted and sauce is piping hot. Serve with rice.

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