Thursday, 15 May 2014

Leek, Mushroom and Goat's Cheese Quiche

Hello Vegetasties :)

Many apologies for the huge gap between posts, my priorities have laid with finishing a degree for the last few months. From here on out I hope to be posting at least twice a month :)

So, to start of a series of summer dishes, here is a lovely Quiche.

It's particularly enjoyable to make this when you have plenty of time on your hands and can take your time with each step, perhaps on a Sunday or a lazy weekday afternoon. It is a versatile dish, easily eaten chilled with a side salad, or warm with boiled new potatoes and peas, for example.

You will need the following to make this a success:
For the pastry
140g chilled, slightly salted butter
280g plain flour

For the filling
25g slightly salted butter
4 leeks
250g mushrooms
3 eggs
150ml single cream
140g goat's cheese

To start with I'd slice and wash the leeks first, as this takes a bit of prep, so it's good to get it out of the way.

Then, to make the pastry, weigh out the flour and butter. Pastry demands precision, so make sure the quantities are bang on.

To combine the butter and flour, feel free to use a blender, or if you have a little time on your hands and fancy chilling out for a bit, rub the ingredients between your fingertips until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. It might feel like you'll never get there, but trust me, you will and a wave of satisfaction will roll over you too :)

Adding 6-8 tablespoons of cold water to the mix will give it enough moisture to bind together. Be careful while adding the water because it may become too wet very quickly. If this happens, just add more plain flour, a tablespoonful at a time, until the dough is at the right consistency - wet enough to hold together, but dry enough to not stick to your hands.

On a lightly floured, clean, dry surface, roll out the pastry to about 30cm in diameter. Then carefully lift it over a tin. Using any scraps still left in the mixing bowl, gently push the pastry into the edge of the tin. Be very careful not to tear it. Then cover the whole tray and leave it in the fridge to cool for a minimum of 20 mins. Also, pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade at this point.

While the pastry is chilling, it's time to make the filling. Melt the 25g of butter and add the washed, drained, leeks. Cook the leeks over a low heat with the lid on for 10 minutes. While they are cooking, chop or slice the mushrooms. After the 10 minutes, turn up the heat and add the mushrooms. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

By now, it should be time to take the pastry out of the fridge. First of all, prick the base lightly with a fork. Its next step is to be blind-baked. This means that the pastry needs to be cooked, but covered. Using grease-proof paper, cover the base of the pastry. Then, using either baking beans (pictured below) or copper coins, cover the surface of the paper. Leave it to cook in the oven for 20 minutes. 

After 20 minutes, remove the baking beans (or coins) and paper, and return it to the oven for 5-10 minutes until it is a light golden brown colour.

The reason for blind-baking the pastry is to make it a strong, dry base which will contain the wet filling without becoming soggy itself.

In a separate bowl, whisk three eggs and gradually add the cream. Stir in the mushrooms and leeks, crumble in half of the cheese and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Then gently, fill the pastry case with the filling, without it spilling over the sides. Crumble the rest of the cheese on top.

Bake the quiche for 20-25 minutes, until the top is crispy, the filling is set and it is starting to turn golden. 

Let the quiche cool a little before serving, trim the edges of the pastry and cut into generous slices. 


Friday, 28 March 2014

Creative Pudding

So, it's a Friday night. You're not going out because it's almost the end of the year and you have a big pile of books that need reading tomorrow morning. Your bank balance is on it's last legs (come on April loan!) but you're screaming out for a sweet kick.

Time to get creative! :)

I raided my cupboards and put together a seriously tasty 'Reverse Cheesecake'.

I used:

1 Banana
1 Tablespoon of peanut butter
1 Small tub of vanilla ice cream
3 Tablespoons full of plain yoghurt
2 Chocolate covered malted milk biscuits

But feel free to remove and add your own favourite things :) 

First step, smush the banana. Using a fork is the best way, squidge it down until it's a paste-y consistency. 

Then I added a small tub of vanilla ice cream (this was free with my housemate's Pizza Hut order, but she didn't want it), but you could substitute this for more yoghurt, or frozen yoghurt, to be more healthy. Or if you need the extra splurge, two generous spoonfuls of any ice cream would work well.

Adding yoghurt gives the pudding a lighter texture, and makes it last longer! I put about three tablespoons worth in. I also added a tablespoon full of peanut butter at this point.

Then, for a teeny chocolate boost, I broke up two biscuits (they were completely wrong for each other, it was for the best) and dotted them ontop. 

I have to say, this is a seriously good pudding. There is a slight saltiness from the biscuit, crunch from the peanut butter, thick and creamy texture from the banana and the ice cream makes it nice and chilled :) delicious, cheaper than Ben + Jerry's, and with significantly fewer calories!


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Guest Post - 'Ratatouille Plus'

Quick, nourishing, healthy, hot and cheap - that's Ratatouille Plus.
It's colourful and warming and you can use it as a piquant sauce for fish or in a jacket potato for a dinner dish.
Add fresh chilli to give it an added kick for winter!


Half a can of ratatouille
Half a can of chickpeas
One chopped spring onion
A clove of fresh garlic
A generous sprinkle of pine nuts
A generous sprinkle of Cheddar cheese (often cheaper ready grated!)
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Worcester sauce
Tomato puree
Freshly squeezed lime juice


In a large saucepan combine the ratatouille and chickpeas over a medium heat, stirringly frequently throughout. 
Between stirs, chop the spring onion and add to the saucepan. 
Do the same with the garlic and also add the coconut oil. Add basil, black pepper, Worcester sauce, (Lea and Perrins,) tomato puree and cook until just bubbling. Add the pine nuts and lime juice, stir in and serve with a generous sprinkle of cheddar.

Time to cook: 10 minutes

Monday, 13 January 2014

I Can't Be Asked - 6 Minute - Pasta

So, it's January, there are Exams looming, deadlines approaching, and Rent due. In this frame of mind cooking a meal from scratch is probably the last thing on your mind, but here's where I come in to brighten your day!

In just 6 minutes you can wrap your freezing hands around a bowl of warm, cheesy, pesto-covered pasta with nutritious wilted spinach and juicy chunks of pepper. How does that sound? :D

While the pasta was on a high boil, I heated up a teaspoon of oil in a frying pan and chopped up a small handful of red and yellow pepper. Once chopped I put it in the frying pan, reduced the heat to a medium flame and put a lid ontop to keep in any steam. 

While both pots were bubbling I opened a bag of spinach, took out my bowl, cheddar and a grater and waited.

Once the pasta was cooked I drained it and put it back on a low heat, added three big spoonfuls of pesto and mixed it in. Meanwhile I grabbed a large handful of spinach and let it wilt over the peppers, under a lid on a fairly high heat so that they'd get on with it.

Less than two minutes later, I plated it all up and put everything else in the basin to wash up later.

Ta Da! Delicious, Quick, Vegetarian food suitable for stressed out students! 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Thai Food :)

Thailand is where I have spent a quarter of 2013 in total! If you'd like a very raw insight into how I felt being a Vegetarian in Thailand, please see my other blog: and scroll down about 4/5 of the way!

However, my second trip, last December, was slightly more fruitful in terms of vegetarian options :)

Thais don't have a specific word for 'vegetarian', the closest term is 'jay' which means that the meal has no animal products in it at all. For example, if you say 'Pad Thai Jay, ka' that will translate as "Please can I have an animal-free Pad Thai?". When I tried adding 'jay' to favourite Thai meals, like Thai Red Curry and Pad Thai, however, people refused to make them because either they didn't know how to - without using things like fish sauce - or maybe they just didn't want to!?

The best meal(s) that I had, while I was staying on Koh Samui, were on Christmas Day. We ate at a wonderful restaurant on the South West side of the island, called Sunset View, which had a vegetarian set menu! Hallelujah!

In traditional Thai style, there were a lot of dishes on the table at the same time (instead of the Western tradition of having a starter, followed by a main, followed by a dessert). So I had a Red Curry with Tofu....

..."No Name"...which were deep fried vegetable nuggets, with sweet chilli sauce...

...mixed sweet and sour vegetables in what is very likely to be an oyster sauce (but I'm a little bit of an oyster sauce lover, so I let that slip...)...

....another Thai Curry, which was strongly flavoured with Holy Basil, a very aniseed-heavy herb, and had grapes in it too!...

...and a beautiful Thai Green Curry, with Tofu. The balance of sweet and heat was perfect! 

These were all accompanied with steamed rice, and for dessert we had deep fried bananas!

I'm so glad to be proven wrong about finding vegetarian food in Thailand, however, this is the only place that I have found to accommodate more than one option, let alone having a set if you are thinking about travelling to Thailand any time soon, maybe take a leaf from my book and put on a stone in weight before you fly! 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Sweet Jacket Potato

Happy New Year VeggieTasties :)

I'm not one for fads, especially the 'Let's Eat Healthily In The New Year' one. Health is for life, not just for January :)

This evening I made a very simple, but vibrant and nutritious dinner: a Sweet Jacket Potato with Cheddar cheese, Tomato Pesto and a side salad.

Because I'm quite a fan of a microwaved potato - in 12 minutes you have fluffy insides! - and because I didn't have the patience to wait for an oven cooked meal, I chose the easiest route.

While it was being zapped, I shredded some lettuce, chopped a yellow and red pepper and grated a carrot to make a simple, colourful salad.

Hope you're still enjoying your food, even if you're on a diet! Keep following for more tasty, healthy, cheap, vegetarian meals! 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Merry Veggie Christmas :)

This year, I have made a meal which brings together elements from my favourite Christmas dinners over the years. 

The heart of the dish is Thanksgiving Stuffing, a recipe from America, which is essentially a savoury bread and butter pudding. It is a fantastic winter comfort food, thick and crunchy and gooey!

To accompany this I have made Parmesan roasted Parsnips, which have a slightly nutty flavour, Honey roasted Carrots, whith a touch of vinegar to balance the sweetness, Steamed Curly Kale, for freshness, and The Best Gravy Ever.

I do have to point out that the parmesan is NOT vegetarian - it contains rennet. My personal relationship with cheese is that I have never bought, cooked with, or eaten vegetarian cheese, so I haven't used it here. If you don't have an issue with non-vegetarian cheese then knock yourself out :) but if you would prefer to omit it, or experiment with other flavours with parsnips then go for it :) maybe even leave a comment with the alternative that you used!

(I also added a big spoonful of cranberry sauce on the side, it's an accompanying treat which works with this meal, and definitely adds to the Christmassy flavours!)

Here are the cooking times. Basically the main elements can be prepared and cooked at around the same time, and you can make the gravy and steam the kale just before plating up.

Stuffing = 5 mins prep, 50 mins cook
Parsnips = 2 mins prep, 40 mins cook
Carrots = 5 mins prep, 45 mins cook
Gravy = 15 mins cook
Kale = 5-10 mins cook

To prepare the Stuffing, I cut half of a French Bread Loaf in half, and then cut that half into cubes.

In a frying pan I melted some butter and gently cooked a chopped onion and one chopped celery stick.

While this was cooking I mixed the french bread with two beaten eggs, a teaspoon of pepper, half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of dried sage.

When the celery and onions were soft I added them to the mixing bowl and slowly stirred 500ml of vegetable stock in too.

This was poured into a shallow roasting tin, covered with foil and cooked for 45 minutes in 160 degrees of heat.

For the last five to ten minutes of cooking I took the foil off of the tin to make the top crispy and golden.

 For the parsnips, I peeled and chopped them into equal sized batons and boiled them for six minutes, to make them tender.

After draining them, I coated them in a mix of 100g of grated parmesan and five teaspoons of flour.

The next step is to heat a little bit of oil on a baking tray over the hob, and place the coated parsnip ontop. This is to make sure that the 'batter' goes crispy, rather than going straight into the oven which can leave them a bit soggy.

 After 30 minutes in the oven, they were crispy and smelling awesome!

To make the Honey roasted Carrots, I peeled a large handful of these Chantenay variety (they were only £1 in the supermarket for a large bag!). Drizzled in oil and tossed in a shake of pepper and salt, they went into the oven at 170 degrees.

After 30 minutes I brought them out to add a little shake of White Wine Vinegar and half a teaspoon of honey. Then they went back into the oven for another 15 minutes.

To make The Best Gravy Ever, you only need these ingredients: Butter, flour, marmite, soy sauce, tomato puree, vegetable stock and hot water.

To start, we have to make a roux. This is simply equal amounts of butter and flour, ideally in a non-stick pan, over a medium heat.

The aim with this recipe is to keep stirring the mixture until it turns a light nutty brown colour, so that all of the flour-flavour is cooked away.

At this stage the stock needs to be added, a little at a time. This makes the roux turn quite dough-like, but by adding the stock gradually, it will thin out.

Once the stock was finished I kept topping up the sauce with hot water, until it was a normal gravy consistency - thicker than water, but thin enough to pour off of a spoon.

Now it is time to add the flavour! In went a large, heaped, teaspoon of tomato puree...

...a teaspoon of Marmite...

 ...and teaspoon of Soy Sauce. Keeping the pan over a medium-low heat, I stirred all of these ingredients in until it was smooth. (I then added another small teaspoonful of Marmite for a little extra flavour). 

Finally, in a frying pan with a splash of water, I steamed a handful of Curly Kale for just over five minutes, with a lid on. 

Time to plate up!

Merry Meat-Free Christmas!