Friday, 27 November 2015

Super Salad Sandwich

Last Thursday, for the Wellbeing Week Festival at uni, a couple of people from Jamie's Ministry of Food came to do some cooking demonstrations and tasting.  Unfortunately, I was busy doing my show at RamAir while they were doing the demonstration, but I picked up a Get Food Smart recipe booklet from their table in Student Central during a song break.  This top-ranking recipe is for a sandwich full of colourful vegetables and is perfect for lunch any time of the year and especially with friends.  Next week, I'll be starting with ideas for Christmas dining and will also be giving a few top 5s, so look out for those!

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 radishes, halved
5cm piece of cucumber, halved lengthways
1/2 small carrot, halved lengthways
2 cauliflower florets
1/2 small red pepper
1/2 small apple
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 sprigs of soft herbs, such as dill, flat-leaf parsley or basil, or 2 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
1/2 punnet salad cress or sprouting herbs
a handful of peas
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
4 seeded wholegrain rolls
2 tablespoons hummus


  1. Using a table knife, cut each radish half into three pieces on a chopping board and place them in a large bowl.
  2. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the watery seeds from the cucumber, and discard them, then slice each cucumber half into four pieces and add to the bowl.
  3. Cut the carrot into 8 even-sized pieces, then snap apart the cauliflower florets into bite-sized chunks and place both veggies into the bowl with the others.
  4. Pull out the pepper's stalk and scoop out the seeds and pith with a teaspoon, discarding all.  Cut the pepper into four long slices, then cut each slice into four segments and add to the bowl.
  5. Place the apple half, flat-side down, on the board.  Cut into six even pieces, discarding the core.  Add to the bowl.
  6. Place a clean tea towel on the chopping board and pile the veg and apple in the middle.  Fold over each corner of the towel so your ingredients are wrapped up like a parcel.  Squash with a rolling pin to break the ingredients into little pieces.
  7. Measure the vinegar and olive oil into a large bowl and blend into a dressing.
  8. Tear the herb leaves into small pieces (if using dill, snip it with scissors), adding them to the bowl as you go.  Snip the cress or sprouting herbs into the bowl, then add the peas, seeds, squashed veg and apple.  Using your fingers, carefully toss all the ingredients with the dressing until they're nicely coated.
  9. Halve each roll horizontally and spread the insides of each one with hummus.  Divide the vegetable mixture between the base of each roll.  Place the lids on top, press down lightly, and enjoy!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Stuffed Peppers

Yesterday was BUSOM's winter showcase, Meet Tony and Olivier, which was very fun but I'm now very sleepy and stressed about coursework, so check in with me next week when I have a special post planned.  Here's an awesome starters idea from the January 2015 edition of the ASDA magazine!

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 large peppers, any colour
100g giant cous cous
350ml vegetable stock, made with 1/2 a stock cube
50g sultanas
50g sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped
25g pine nuts, toasted
300g can haricot or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
salad, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C, 170 degrees C with a fan oven, or gas mark 5.  Cut the tops off the peppers and scoop out the seeds and pith.  Put the peppers and lids on the tray and bake for 15 minutes.
  2. Put the cous cous into a pan and cover with the stock solution.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 8 minutes.  Add the sultanas and tomatoes.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes, before taking off the heat and mixing in the pine nuts and beans.
  3. Leave the cooked peppers to cool slightly, then fill with the cous cous mixture.  Put the pepper lids on top, then cook in the oven for 12 minutes.
  4. Serve with salad.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Winter Veg Minestrone

In the past week or so, the weather here has really changed dramatically.  On Monday, I had to walk between buildings at uni to go to yoga at the gym and then go back to editing my project, and the hood of my coat got SOAKED!  Meanwhile, I'm spending my evening cosy in bed with pillows and a good catch-up on Red Dwarf.  I've been talking to Saph Joy, who I met last month at one of the BBC Radio 1Xtra Academy Q&As (which I still need to complete my post about), and she's recently been considering going vegan after seeing Food Inc., and I told her to go and read the wonderful Ally's page on vegan meal ideas and that although I'm not currently a vegan myself, I have lots of vegan-friendly recipes on my blog.  When she said she'd look for my blog for food inspiration though, I realised that I'm so much more of a smoothies and desserts person, rather than a main meal one, so this is an area that I think I'll start trying to up my game in.  I found this recipe for winter veg minestrone in the January 2015 edition of the ASDA magazine, and being low in fat and containing 2 of your 5 daily portions of fruit and veg, it sounds like a pretty good idea for families to eat this winter to keep bugs away!

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons for the bread
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, diced
1 small butternut squash, peeled and finely diced
390g carton chopped tomatoes with herbs
3 tablespoons tomato puree
2 x 300g cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
600ml stock made with 1 vegetable stock cube
100g spaghetti, broken into small pieces
160g baby spinach, washed
200g baguette
1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan, then add the onion and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes, until soft.  Add the butternut squash and cook for another 8-10 minutes, until it starts to soften.
  2. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, cannellini beans and stock.  Bring to a mild boil and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the spaghetti and stir.  Boil gently for 10-12 minutes or until pasta is cooked.
  4. Stir in the spinach and boil for 1 minute until wilted.
  5. Preheat the grill.  Slice the baguette and drizzle the remainder of the olive oil over the bread, then rub the garlic halves over one side of each slice.  Grill until golden brown and serve hot with the soup.

    Friday, 6 November 2015

    Spiced Pumpkin Cake

    This recipe for spiced pumpkin cake is one I found on the recipe card I collected at the UBU Green Thursdays pumpkin-carving event from last week!  I've adapted the original recipe a little bit to have dairy-free margarine and mashed bananas instead of the 2 eggs, just to see if it's ok.

    Ingredients (makes one 23x33cm cake)

    110g vegan margarine (such as Pure)
    220g dark brown soft sugar
    135g bread flour
    1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    175g pumpkin puree
    1 1/2 bananas, mashed

    Vegan cream cheese frosting (2 cups)
    1 cup icing sugar
    108g vegan margarine, cold
    2 tablespoons non-dairy milk (such as almond or hazelnut milk)
    1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
    1/4 teaspoon salt


    1. Use a bit of margarine to grease the inside of one 23x33cm or similar sized baking dish.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or gas mark 4.
    2. In a large bowl, combine the margarine, dark brown soft sugar, flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, pumpkin puree and bananas.  Mix until smooth.
    3. Spread the mixture evenly in the baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.  Frost with the cream cheese frosting recipe shown below once cooled, if desired.
    4. For the frosting, process all the ingredients together in a food processor for about 1 minute.
    5. Scrape down the sides of the food processor and continue to process for another minute until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
    6. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

    Here are some photographs of what I got up to over the Halloween weekend:

    1. Carving pumpkins with UBU Green Thursdays.

      My pumpkin at the beginning.

      The unscooped insides (including seeds) of my pumpkin.
      Scooping the flesh out of the pumpkin was very messy!

      My finished carved pumpkin!
    2. Archery's Halloween session, for which I dressed up as Jafar from Aladdin (there was a long black skirt)!

    3. Singing with BUSOM at the university's Red Ribbon Society's open mic night. This was my costume for being a magic broom from the Sorcerer's Apprentice in Fantasia.