Our famous Vegan Spanakopita

So as a vegetarian, I loved Spinach and Feta Pie, or Spanakopita. But as I love cows more than I do cheese, I thought it was only fair I make my own Vegan Spanakopita. It has now become a firm favourite at Urban Zen Yoga Cafe in Swansea, where one pie generally sells out within a couple of hours. So I thought I’d share spread the love and share the recipe. It’s the perfect thing to enjoy on a warm summers day with some nice potatoes and salad.

Vegan Spanakopita
Serves 4-6
Takes 35 minutes to make and cook

1.2kg approx  firm tofu, patted dry and crumbled
6 spring onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp tahini
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp fresh dill or parsley or dried mixed herbs
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp toasted pinenuts or cashew pieces (plus a few extra to top)
1 tbsp mixed seeds (optional)
Juice of ½ a lemon
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 large bag spinach, washed. You can add other greens like pea shoots too
1 pack Filo Pastry, Jus Roll is vegan

1. Wilt the spinach in a pan in a little water and then set aside. Drain off excess water.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the other ingredients together, apart from the filo pastry. Mix it all in well and add in the spinach.
3. Brush a large, deep oven dish with olive oil. Layer 3-4 sheets of filo pastry all around the dish, across the bottom and up over the sides, with enough pastry to fold over a few inches into the middle. You need to brush olive oil in between each sheet as you layer it.
4. Spoon the tofu mix onto the pasty and smooth down with a spatula until evenly and firmly distributed. Now place some filo layers over the top, brushing with oil and you go, so the pie becomes enclosed. Smooth off the top with more olive oil.
6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C/Gas Mark 6, for 20 minutes, until the top is golden.
7. Serve with additional toasted pinenuts sprinkled across the top with a lovely salad and potatoes.

2016-01-25 13.44.36-1

Just a little raw boost for the New Year

Squash Spagetti Salad 3

The problem, sometimes, with being someone who just loves cooking, is that you can have too much great food! Being a vegan chef means I certainly never, ever, miss out on anything. You name it, I will cook and eat it (if it comes from plants, obviously!).

So this December I’ve been doing just that, at work and at home. Squash and Spinach Filo pies, soups, salads, sweet potato chips, mayonnaise, vegan cream cheese, roasted veg, stuffing, sourdough spread with avocado and Marmite, dahls, chapatis and rice, raw chocolate, raw cake, crumbles, puddings, mince pies, chocolate, more chocolate, udon noodles, edamame, tempura vegetables, ice cream, deluxe chestnut, shallot and mushroom tart, roast potatoes… the list just goes on.

But somewhere, we have to create a balance. Even when you are eating home cooked, delicious vegan food, sometimes our bodies just need a break. Digesting rich foods takes power, it takes energy. After completing a four day yogic fast in the summer, I saw how you can actually increase your energy by fasting and then temporarily eating less and more importantly, eating a bit differently.

I am a realist however and not a food saint. I’m going to share a nutrient packed, colorful, fresh and mostly raw dish and juice to give your body a little rest and a boost.

I’m not saying I’m going to be jumping on the New Year detox bandwagon tomorrow and I’m not suggesting you do either. I’m hoping to embrace a more rounded and sustainable approach. By incorporating more raw fruit and vegetable based dishes and drinks into your diet in general you can give yourself a gentle daily boost that won’t leave you beaten and reaching for that coffee and cake because you’ve simply gone all-out too intensively after a season of indulgence.

Today I started the day with a cup of hot water and a slice of lemon, to get the digestive system moving. I followed this with a cup of matcha green tea, to give me an easy mood and energy lift. This was followed by two pieces of wholemeal toast with almond butter and banana.

Hot lemon

Supergreens Juicce 2

Mid morning I had my Supergreens Juice. Nutrient packed, this tangy and wholesome juice will really get you off to a great start!

Supergreens Juice
Serves 1
Pass the following ingredients through your juicer, and enjoy! 

5 romane lettuce leaves or other lettuce leaves
2 handfuls kale
2 handfuls spinach
1 apple
1 stick of celery
6 mint leaves
1/4 pineapple

If you don’t have a juicer, but only a smoothie maker like a Nutribullet, you can make a Supergreens Smoothie instead: 

2 romane lettuce leaves or other lettuce leaves
2 handfuls kale
2 handfuls spinach
6 mint leaves
1/4 pineapple
Dash of lemon juice (optional)
Topped up with 1/4 cup of water or more to reach desired consistency if the smoothie is too thick. You can add the apple and celery, but they give a lumpy consistency when blended.

For lunch I put together a salad bowl of Raw Squash Spaghetti, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Hummus, Edamame, Peppers, Lamb’s Lettuce and Raw Vegetable Cous Cous.

Super Raw Salad Bowl
Serves 1

2 handfuls lambs lettuce
1/4 small butternut squash or carrot, spiralized or grated
2 tbsp hummus (homemade or shop-brought)
1 tbsp fresh edamame
3 tbsp mixed diced pepper
3 tbsp raw vegetable cous cous

How to make Raw Vegetable Cous Cous
Serves 2
Raw Vegetable Cous Cous is the latest thing! You can ever buy it in Tesco. It’s great for a raw meal and especially handy for wheat-free diners.

This variety was made by placing the following ingredients into my food processor and blending in turn:

1/4 head broccoli florets
1 raw beetroot, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, washed and roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
4 baby corn

Dressed with 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar mixed with 2 tbsp olive oil, cracked sea salt and black pepper. Add in different veg to see how it turns out! for example cauliflower or peppers.

Here’s another recipe for an amazing looking Raw Veggie Medley Cous Cous to give you some more ideas.

Squash Spagetti Salad 2

So why not treat yourself and your body to some fresh, raw and lively foods this January, if not everyday, whenever you feel like you need a lift and your body needs some TLC.

Chestnut, Wild Mushroom and Cranberry Tart

2015-12-19 17.32.40

Now the pots and pans have found their proper homes in the new kitchen at Urban Zen Yoga Wholefood Cafe in Swansea, I’ve had time to make some specials. We have served up a couple of delicious Squash, Spinach and Toasted Pinenut Filo Pies in the last couple of weeks. This week, manager Amina, came across this delightful seasonal tart recipe from Jamie Oliver. While I can’t take credit for this recipe, I just had to share it, since it has been crowned such a triumph in the lead up to Christmas. It is great to see popular chefs such as Jamie embracing more and more vegan food.

Here is the link to the recipe. All I did to make it simple was use ready made Jus Roll Shortcrust Pastry instead of making my own. I also topped it with fresh rhyme, not parsley.IMG_20151217_135121

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viva! Cookbook is finally published

Working with my friend and vegan cookery guru, Jane Easton, we spent over four years producing a vegan cookery book for vegan charity, Viva!.

Filled with hundreds practical, delicious and easy-to-follow recipes, I’m delighted to have shot all the pictures within this book, with Jane selecting and testing all the dishes we included and writing literally thosands of words!

It is the definitive, wonderful, vegan crème de la crème of recipe books!

This is no ordinary collection of animal-free recipes, for a start there’s sections devoted to kid-friendly recipes; entertaining non-vegetarian friends; eating solo and how to freeze your food to save time and money. We have everything covered – chapters include: Feel the Pulse; Tofu Secrets; Souperb; Lunch-out; A bit on the Side; The Main Event; Sweet Thing and more!

Boasting 145 recipes with accompanying full colour photos, the Viva! Cookbook will take your taste buds on a culinary adventure; from satisfying starters – Sautéed Squash with Olive Tapenade & Cannellini Beans and Luscious Two Pear Salad with Balsamic Dressing; to decadent desserts like Juliet’s Luxury Chocolate Mousse and Viva!Blocker Glory. For the main event, we’ve scoured the globe for fresh and flavourful dishes that hold their own such as Viva!’s Very Moorish Moroccan Stew or that work well as part of our ‘Cool Combos’ – pair the Quesadillas with Guacamole & Lime Sour Cream Dip with our tangy Mango Salsa. For a stunning show-stopper, our Big Puff Pie – bursting with mixed mushrooms and topped with a crown of puff pastry – will not disappoint.

The book is avaialble to buy from the Viva! shop, priced £9.99 plus p+p.

Herb and Onion Tear and Share Rolls

Herb and Onion Tear and Share Rolls

Bread, in its many forms is certainly one of the finest foods. At its best, served warm, smothered in something tasty like homemade hummus or dipped in a hot, thick soup.

So I was inspired when I saw an old episode of the BBC’s Hairy Bikers, making sage and onion tear and share bread. It looked and sounded really appetizing, served with a parsnip and apple soup. So I thought I’d have a go at making a vegan version (theirs contained milk). We also had a good crop of parsley which needed cutting into, so I added some of that too.

It took a bit more preparation than some of my other breads like flatbread or focaccia, but was very much worth it. I had some friends over for lunch, so I served it to them with roasted butternut squash soup. Their reaction was, ‘you made that???’, which is what you want.

Herb and Onion Tear and Share Rolls
Serves 8
Preparation/cooking time 2 and a half hours approx.

150ml/5fl oz soya milk, plus extra for glazing
400g/14oz strong white flour, plus extra for kneading
7g/¼oz sachet fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
15g/½oz vegan margarine
1 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
15-20 sage leaves, chopped
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat 150ml/5fl oz water and the soya milk in a saucepan over a low heat until lukewarm.
2. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the yeast, sugar and salt.
3. Make a well in the centre and stir in the water and milk with a large wooden spoon. Gather into a ball then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. I used the dough hook in my food processor (Magimix) and pulsed the dough for a minute instead.
4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover loosely with oiled clingfilm. Leave to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.
5. Meanwhile, melt the vegan marg and oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the onion and garlic over a very low heat for 10 minutes, or until softened.
6. Scatter the chopped sage and parsley over the onions and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, season with lots of freshly ground black pepper and set aside to cool.
7. When the dough has doubled in size, tip it back onto a floured surface and flatten with the palms of your hands. Spoon the onion mixture on top and knead for a couple of minutes until evenly incorporated. Sprinkle with a little extra flour if it becomes sticky.
8. Divide the dough into eight and shape into neat balls by pulling the dough from the outside of the ball and pushing into the centre. Turn over with the ends underneath. Place the rolls in a circle on a large baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, making sure the dough balls are touching. Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave to prove in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.
9. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 6.
7. Brush the top of each roll lightly with milk. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool a little before serving.

Make it quick tip: I chopped and cooked my herbs and onion the night before and put them in the fridge in a covered bowl, saving time during the next morning. I also did the kneading in a food processor, also reducing the preparation time. If serving soup with the rolls for lunch, why not prepare the veg for it the night before too? I roasted my butternut squash, carrots and onions and left them to stew in stock overnight, ready for blending and warming through the next day.

Amazing Vegan Spinach and Two ‘Cheese’ Cannelloni

SM Cannelloni portion 2

Spinach and Two Cheese Cannelloni
Serves 4
Preparation/cooking time 1 hour

2 tbsp vegan margarine
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 large bag spinach
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp Italian herb seasoning, or dried oregano
2 tbsp soya or other non-dairy milk
2 tins chopped tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
Sprig of fresh basil, chopped, or 1 tsp dried basil
1 packet Vegusto No-Moo Melty (400g)
12 cannelloni tubes
Salt and cracked black pepper
1 packet Vegusto No-Moo Sauce

You will need: 1 square oven dish (of around 10”x8”) and a piping bag with wide nozzle, (or you can use a plastic sandwich bag with the corner snipped off)

1. Preheat your oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.
2. Melt the margarine in a medium-sized saucepan, then add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.
3. Gradually add in the spinach, a handful at a time, stirring, so it begins to wilt down in its own moisture. Continue until the whole bag has been added and stir in the nutmeg, Italian seasoning and then season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and set aside.
4. Add the tomatoes to a small saucepan, with the sugar and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Bring them to the boil, then turn down to simmer for 15 minutes with the lid off, so they reduce and thicken.
6. Turn the cooled spinach onto a board and roughly chop it, before returning to the pan.
7. Crumble the No-Moo Melty into the spinach. Turn onto a medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. Mix until the spinach is smooth and creamy, adding the soya milk to thin the mixture slightly. Turn off the heat when all the cheese has melted.
8. Grease the oven dish and then pour in the tomatoes.
9. Spoon the spinach mixture into your piping bag, holding the nozzle flat so mixture doesn’t leak out. Fold the top of the bag down so you can squeeze the mixture down gradually.
10. Pipe spinach mixture into each cannelloni tube, ensuring it fills the entire length of each one.
11. Arrange the tubes in the tomato sauce.
12. When all the tubes are filed and in place, pour the No-Moo Sauce evenly all over the top. You can smooth it off with a pallet knife and top with a few extra herbs and black pepper.
13. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a knife inserted into the pasta goes in easily and the top is nice and golden.
14. Serve with garlic bread or salad.
Extra option: Top with some grated Vegusto Piquant, or Nutritional Yeast Flakes.

 

Three lovely recipes from The Parsnipship

Photography by Helen Rossiter for The Parsnipship

Photography by Helen Rossiter for The Parsnipship

This article and recipes from The Parsnipship appeared the in weekend supplement of The Western Mail on Saturday, April 6.

Spirit in the Pie

Having worked in restaurants all over the world for the last 20 years, Ben Moss has mastered a unique style of cooking which fuses together many ways of creating wonderful things from vegetables.

Ben and his team of chefs at The Parsnipship, spend the week hand-crafting gourmet vegetarian and vegan cuisine to sell at Farmers Markets, from their kitchens in Ogmore Vale. Their fayre includes pies, crumbles, soups, pâtés and hot dishes such as lasagne and gratin dauphinoise.

“I started baking cakes with my gran on the Isle of White, when I was eight years old. I then went on to cook at my parents’ hotel in Chamonix in the French Alps and worked with chefs in France and the UK.

“So I was always inspired by classical French cookery. I also lived in Edinburgh and became very influenced by the blending of Scottish and French Cuisine,” says Ben.

But his travels led him to discover many other ingredients and flavours from countries such as Thailand, India and Italy, which he now works together to create simple, yet pioneering vegetarian cuisine.

Ben began his career cooking and eating meat and fish every day. But when he was 28, life changed forever, after encountering a market in Indonesia, selling dead dog.

“It was one of the worst things I had ever seen,” says Ben. “That was the final straw for me with meat eating.”

“Up until recently, vegetarians and vegans were treated as second class citizens in the restaurant trade. Many chefs were so uninspired when cooking for them, just serving things made from leftovers. I was the same at some points in my career, but after I saw the light the whole thing changed for me. I wanted to make vegetarian and vegan food that tasted fantastic.”

So in 2007, Ben set up his first stall at The Riverside Market in Cardiff, selling five different varieties of vegetarian pies.

Their stalls now run regularly at markets at Riverside, Abergavenny, Cardiff St Mary’s Street, Cowbridge and Mumbles.

Favourite foods include The Glamorgan Crumble, Butternut Squash Lasagne, Shropshire Blue Cheese and Spinach Cakes and the Indian Summer Pie, which will soon be available to buy online.

“We have to make the ingredients sing and food that is inspiring,” adds Ben. “Food should be alive not dead. There is a sense of spirituality about vegetarianism, it’s part of finding yourself and trying to affect some sort of change through the quality of what you do.”

Ben’s favourite foods are homemade Chana Masala and Aubergine Curry with Chapati and their own Welsh Haggis with Leek.

The Parsnipship have a Cookery School hosting monthly courses, teaching people to cook seasonally, with produce they have grown and instinctively without recipes.

Photography by Helen Rossiter for The Parsnipship

Photography by Helen Rossiter for The Parsnipship

Smoky Lentil, Paprika and Tomato Soup
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tins of tomatoes
250g brown lentils
1 heaped tbsp smoked paprika
1 heaped tbsp tomato purèe
1 level tbsp Marigold Swiss Vegetable Vegan Bouillon
2 pints water
Salt and pepper

1. Heat the oil in a heavy bottom saucepan and fry the onion and garlic. Scald the tomato purèe in the oil, to give an intensive flavour.
2. When the onions and garlic are turning brown, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
3. When the lentils are cooked, whizz the soup with a hand blender and season. Serve with warm crusty bread or a dollop of crème fraîche and fresh coriander leaves.

Photography by Helen Rossiter for The Parsnipship

Photography by Helen Rossiter for The Parsnipship

Spinach and Potato Pakoras
Makes 20

2 mugs of gram flour (chickpea flour)
1 mug water
4 large baking potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
1 mug frozen spinach, defrosted and roughly chopped
1 tbsp nigella seeds
1 tbsp good quality curry powder
½ tsp turmeric
1 litre of sunflower or groundnut oil for deep frying
Salt and pepper

1. Add the mug of gram flour to the water and mix in a large bowl into a fairly thick batter.
2. Add in all the other ingredients apart from the oil and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Get oil to approximately 160 degrees and using two spoons, drop in golf ball size spoons of mixture.
4. When they are floating and golden brown, lift out with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper and season. Check the pakoras are cooked in the middle and return to the oil if they need a little more frying.

Photography by Helen Rossiter for The Parsnipship

Photography by Helen Rossiter for The Parsnipship

Harissa Bean Pâté
Makes 1 large tin

1 tin of each of the following: kidney beans, butterbeans, chickpeas, lentils and cannellini beans
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 mugs water
1 tbsp Marigold Swiss Vegetable Vegan Bouillon
1 heaped tbsp Harissa or other spice blend
Juice and peel of 1 lemon (remove white pith)
Salt and pepper

1. Add all the ingredients to a pan and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Whizz with a hand blender or in a food processor and turn into an oiled loaf tin. If the mixture is too wet, drain some of the liquid off.
3. Refrigerate before serving with warm crusty bread. The pate will keep for a week.