Gosh! Sweetcorn & Quinoa Bites

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Gosh! Sweet Corn & Quinoa Bites over Crunchy Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Saturday after a visit with Kate (Sophie’s mum) at St. Davids, I went for another shopping adventure in the Broadway (local shopping district just over a mile from the flat). Tesco’s, a larger grocery store, makes the Free-From cheeses so I went to see what other interesting vegan products they might have. I was looking for something different to go with spinach stuffed portabella mushroom and mashed parsnips and potatoes I was planning for dinner. I located several interesting thing items…Gosh! Naturally Free-From Sweetcorn & Quinoa Bites and Cauldron Falafels in the refrigerator section as well as Vegetable Quarter Pounders (Tesco) in the freezer section.

We decided to try the Gosh! Sweetcorn & Quinoa Bites. They cooked quickly in the oven (as recommended on the package) and were quite light in texture and tasty. I am not a huge quinoa fan (has to do with the texture), but no quinoa texture left in these little bites. The big hit from our dinner, though was the portabellas. Recipe below.

Creamy Spinach Stuffed Portabellas
Serves 2

1 smallish red onion, finely chopped
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of olive oil (or 1 tablespoon of water)
½ bag (about 4 cups) baby spinach
½teaspoon dark soy sauce

2 tablespoons dairy free cream cheese
1 tablespoon vegan pesto
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 portabella mushrooms, stems removed
2 teaspoons, free-from grated hard Italian style cheese or ground cracker crumbs

Sauté onions and garlic in a medium sauce pan with a teaspoon of olive oil or a tablespoon of water for 3 to 4 minutes until they begin to soften. Add baby spinach and soy sauce to hot pan and cook, stirring, until the spinach has wilted. Stir in the vegan cream cheese and pesto until thoroughly mixed. Add black pepper to taste and salt if needed.

Place mushrooms bottom side up in a small baking pan. Divide the spinach mixture evenly into the two mushroom caps. Top with grated vegan parmesan style cheese or cracker crumbs. Bake at 180 degree C for 15 to 20 minutes until top is slightly browned and the mushroom is cooked through.

Great served with mashed parsnips and potatoes!

On Monday, I had the leftover “bites” on top of a spinach, cabbage, carrot and cucumber salad for lunch. The dressing was inspired.

Creamy Sweet and Spicy Dressing
Enough for 1 large salad or two small ones

1/2 cup Plain Alpro soya yogurt
1 heaping tablespoon of mango chutney
1 squeeze of lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper

Stir ingredients together and serve over a crunchy and savory salad such as the one picture above.

Easy Green Curry & Shaved Sprout Salad

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On Thursday, I had another dinner success. Green Curry on rice leftovers from the Persian Nights from dinner out the previous evening. The curry was simple. It was made using a ½ jar of Blue Dragon green curry paste and a can of unsweetened light coconut milk (both available in the little groceries on Pitshanger Lane).

I collected the vegetables I had tucked away in the dorm-size fridge and mini-pantry basket into a pile on top of the washing machine (one of the two counter spots in the kitchen in the flat): 1/4 of a cauliflower, a partial onion, some white mushrooms, ½ red pepper, 5 Brussels sprouts, a small brown paper sack of potatoes, a large sweet potato, a cucumber and a ½ bag of scallions. I stared at this pile for a bit and decided that some of these would make a nice side salad, a few things would be left for another meal, and the rest would make its way in to the curry.

I thought about succulent Thai curries I had had in the past and thought, eggplant! That is what I need to make this come together well. I headed out into the lane to the nearest of the little groceries and found their produce supply somewhat depleted. Alas! No eggplant so I purchased some other supplies (the last bag of Nachips on half price and some merlot rose wine) and headed back to the flat.

Vegetables for curry: small white potatoes cut into bite-sized pieces, cauliflower florets, red pepper chunks, chopped onion, and quartered mushrooms plus bite-sized chunks of smoked tofu (Tofoo). Topped with chopped cilantro and minced scallions.

Salad vegetables: Brussel sprouts, cucumber, and scallions topped with crushed raspberries and cashews. IMG_2510

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
(2 servings)

5 or 6 Brussel sprouts, trimmed and shaved (or very thinly sliced)
2 teaspoons of malt vinegar (or your favorite light-colored vinegar)
1 small, thin-skinned cucumber, cut into tiny pieces (not quite minced)
2-3 tablespoons of crushed fresh raspberries
1 tablespoons chopped roasted salted cashews

Put shaved sprouts in a small flat dish and drizzle with vinegar. Let sit at room temperature for 15 or more minutes to soften the sprout shavings. Then add cucumber and scallions and toss to combine. Top with crushed raspberries and chopped cashews and serve.

Giant Crumpets!

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Giant crumpets! Who knew such a thing existed. Delicious, light, and regularly made vegan. They are so big we cut one in half for our breakfast. This morning we paired our ½ a giant crumpet with a Linda McCartney veggie sausage, sautéed onions and mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. We had some raspberries (75p for a container!) as a side dish. Very yummy. I love to dip my sausage bites in barbeque sauce. I think the one we have at the moment is spicy HP sauce.

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Before we headed out to the library to study and write today, we had a new version of yesterday’s breakfast again, but this time with a luscious pear (grown in the UK!) instead of the raspberries. See photo. Each morning breakfast is paired with tea with a splash of soya milk (Alpro) for me and coffee for Sophie. Some mornings (as an immune booster) we also add a glass of clementine juice.

I love the “Fruit Bowl”. It is the green grocer or fruit and vegetable shop on Pitshanger Lane just up the road from where we are staying. They make a practice of putting the country of origin on each type of produce. The first day I shopped there, the pears were the only fruit currently from England. Keep in mind it is January in London. The light (and occasional sunshine) only makes an appearance for a few hours a day…about 7.30 to 4.30. The pear took nearly a week to ripen, but was juicy and tasty with just the right texture this AM.

Lunch: Leftovers Plus

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My lunches are often some variety of leftovers plus something new.

Today, I made a salad with the last handful of spinach, a ¼ of an avocado, a ¼ of a large cucumber, a small piece of smoked tofu topped with balsamic vinegar crème (I learned about this stuff during my travels in Greece). It is basically a thickened balsamic vinegar. Store bought versions have some preservatives and thickeners, but a cleaner variation of it can be made by cooking down balsamic vinegar to about 1/3 its original volume. Then paired that with a big bowl of steamed cauliflower with curried vegannaise dip.

Vegan Cheeze!

IMG_2509Yesterday I hit the jackpot with finding vegan cheeses. I love Tesco’s Free-From cheeses (I purchased smoked, jalapeño cheddar and Italian style hard cheese) and Cheezly (I have not seen this one yet this visit). I also found “Follow your Heart” pepper-jack slices. Last night and this morning we a had a cheeze fest.

Last night we had vegan NACHOS! This is one of Sophie’s favorite meals at home so I was pleased to find all the needed elements in my store by store investigations of ingredient availability in Ealing.

I was able to find 1 brand of tortilla chips (called Nachips), black beans, an adorable tiny jar of mild salsa, and I added lightly sautéed mushrooms, red peppers, some leftover roasted potatoes and scallions seasoned with southwest seasoning (Penzey’s brought from home), as well as grated jalepeño & chilli cheddar Free-From and some sliced garlic. For cold toppings, we had the salsa and a mixture of chopped avocado, lime, cherry tomatoes and cilantro. Yum! Recipe below.

This morning we had a quesadilla made with hummus, jalapeno & chilli cheddar, fresh spinach, chopped scallions, cilantro and avocado.

My lunches are often some variety of leftovers plus something new. Today, I made a salad with the last handful of spinach, a ¼ of an avocado, a ¼ of a large cucumber, a small piece of smoked tofu topped with balsamic vinegar crème (I learned about this stuff during my travels in Greece). It is basically a thickened balsamic vinegar. Store bought versions have some preservatives and thickeners, but a cleaner variation of it can be made by cooking down balsamic vinegar to about 1/3 its original volume. Then paired that with a big bowl of steamed cauliflower with curried vegannaise dip (see photo).

Yummy Vegan Nachos in Ealing

1 bag tortilla chips (Nachips at the Coop)
1 15-ounces black beans, drained
¼ cup mild salsa
½ teaspoon ground cumin
8 to 10 chestnut mushrooms (cremini), thickly sliced
½ sweet red pepper, deseeded and chopped
4 scallions, whites and greens chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon favorite seasoning (I used Penzey’s Southwest Seasoning)
½ cup of leftover or other finely chopped vegetables (optional)
¼ to ½ cup of slivers or crumbles of vegan chorizo (optional–I used Wheaty chorizo vegan slices)
1 cup grated vegan cheese (I used Free From chilli & jalepeño cheddar)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

Toppings, if desired:
1 avocado, peeled and finely chopped
6 sweet cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
juice of ½ of a lime
salt, to taste
salsa

Turn oven to 200 degrees C (at home I use 425 degrees F). Drain black beans and put into a small bowl. Mix in salsa and cumin. Set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat, sauté mushrooms, red pepper, scallions and other vegetables, if using, for a about 5 minutes until the soften and begin to brown at the edges. Stir in the seasoning mix. Take off the heat and set aside.

On a cookie sheet or similar large flat pan spread out ½ of the tortilla chips, top with ¼ to ½ the beans, ½ the sautéed vegetables, ½ the chorizo, if using, and about 1/3 of the grated cheese.

Then add the rest of the chips, as much more of the beans as you desire (I only used about half of the full can), the rest of the sautéed vegetables, the sliced garlic and the grated cheese.

Put the nachos in the oven and make the avocado and tomato topping. In a small bowl mix together the avocado, tomato, cilantro and lime. Add salt to taste.

Cook nachos for about 10 minutes in the hot oven until the top begins to brown. Remove and transfer to a serving dish. Serve with cold salsa, your favorite hot sauce (chili sauce), and the avocado/tomato mixture.