Saturday, April 28, 2018

Easy bean salad with corn and avocado

After the blazing sunshine of a week ago, we are back to more typical April weather with cooler temperatures and some grey skies. Nonetheless, there is progress towards warmth and the sunshine of last week offers a glimpse of what is to come.

Outdoor eating from a week ago

This salad was a perfect match for the sunshine and it would be a great barbecue side dish for the summer months. It is extremely simple - kidney beans, sweetcorn kernels, coriander and avocado. I served it with sweet potato on the side, but you could mix it all together if you prefer. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar is all the end product needs and even that is optional.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Satay sriracha vegan pizza

Homemade pizza remains on our weekly meal plan and most of the time I use a standard mix of toppings: tomato paste, oregano, nutritional yeast, spinach, peppers, tomatoes and pineapple. If we have mushrooms I add some of those too.

Last week, I mixed things up a bit and swapped the tomato paste for peanut butter and the oregano for coriander. Sriracha provided a bonus topping. Using the term 'satay' is a bit generous but I thought 'peanut butter sriracha' might put people off as a title! That would have been a shame, because this flavour mix was delicious and a nice change from a tomato base.

I honoured my usual toppings with spinach, pepper, tomatoes and pineapple. As we had portobello mushrooms I grilled a couple separately and served them as a side to the pizza. However, you could mix up the vegetables to suit what you have to hand. I do recommend the pineapple though!

If you aren't a fan of too much spice you could use sweet chilli sauce instead of sriracha here - or any chilli sauce of choice if sriracha isn't to hand.

Satay sriracha pizza
A vegan pizza with a kick
Makes 4 small pizzas

Allow approximately 45-60 minutes of advance preparation time to make the dough

Author: Bite-sized thoughts

For the base (makes 4 small individual pizzas) -
1-1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup (63ml) + 1/4 cup (63ml) warm water, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups plain flour
Pinch salt

To top -
Peanut butter, approximately 1 tbsp per pizza (I use 100% peanut versions)
Nutritional yeast, approximately 1 tsp per pizza
Fresh coriander, chopped, approximately 2 tbsp chopped per pizza
Baby spinach leaves, approximately 1/2 cup per pizza
Red or yellow bell pepper, sliced, approximately 1/4 pepper per pizza
Cherry tomatoes, sliced, approximately 4 tomatoes per pizza
Tinned pineapple pieces, approximately 8 pieces per pizza
Sriracha, to taste

For the base -
Combine the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm water in a cup or small jug and set aside for 15 or so minutes. The mix will froth up.

After 15 minutes or so, add the oil to the yeast mixture. Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and pour the yeast mix over the top, along with the additional 1/4 cup warm water. Stir with a wooden spoon and then knead the mix together using your hands. Add a tablespoon or so more of water if needed, to achieve a thick dough-like consistency. 

Cover the dough, in your mixing bowl, with a tea towel and set somewhere warm to rise for approximately 45 minutes.

When ready, heat your oven to 160'C and prepare baking trays (you made need to cook your pizzas in batches of two, depending on the size of your oven).

Knead the risen dough for a minute or so. Divide into four balls and roll each one out on non-stick paper to 1-2cm thickness. 

To top -
Spread each pizza base with peanut butter and a drizzle of sriracha. Sprinkle over the nutritional yeast and coriander. Add the spinach leaves, then the pepper, tomato and pineapple. Drizzle over more srirarcha as desired..

Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until the base is golden and firm.

What are your favourite pizza toppings?

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Loving this week - Spring 2018

After a snowy start to spring, the UK has now leapt into warm weather. The sun has been shining, we have had maximums around 24'C, and the atmosphere is not even spring-like - it is decidedly summery.

Long time readers may recall that one reason we left Australia is that Mr Bite and I don't like hot weather. We burn easily, we aren't inclined towards lying on beaches, and we dislike the long hot Australian summers. Now we're in England, though, both of us are more kindly disposed towards sunshine. I am relishing the current warmth and the opportunity to go outside without coats and scarves. (Nonetheless, I will add that this is probably enough warmth for me. Mid-20's is perfect.)

I have soaked up the sunshine this week at home in Kent, around work in London, and on a work day trip to Cheltenham in Gloucestershire. Here are some photo highlights of England in its sunny glory. Mini Bite features a few times and you can see her clothing requirements decrease as the temperatures have increased!
Mini Bite exploring the Tonbridge riverside (still in a jacket but no longer a winter coat)

Our apple tree is starting to blossom

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Whole dried fruit cake

While I dislike Christmas-style fruit cakes, I very much enjoy cakes and breads that are studded with dried fruit. There are many traditional baking recipes of this type, from the Welsh bara brith to the Irish barmbrack and plenty in between. This cake doesn't follow any of the traditional recipes exactly, but does employ the tried and true method approach of soaking dried fruit in tea ahead of time. It includes some sugar, so is more cake than bread, but doesn't add any fat. There is plenty of flavour and plenty of dried fruit.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Vegan Life Live - pass giveaway!

Regular readers will know my affection for Vegan Life magazine, which I continue to read and enjoy each month. Given this, I am delighted to host this giveaway for a weekend, 2-person pass to the upcoming Vegan Life Live event in Manchester.

The event will be hosted in Manchester at EventCity on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of April. The pass will admit two people to the main event and to the Om Yoga Show and Mind Body and Soul Experience.

Vegan Life Live features a vegan food court, lots of stalls to try new products and undertake some shopping (food and non-food related), cookery demonstrations, and talks on varied topics. I was offered a pass to attend myself and would have loved to, but unfortunately can't make it this time around. (So if you go, please report back!) Full details are available on the event website.

I know not all of my readers would be able to get to Manchester on the weekend in question, but if you can - or know someone who can - and would like to enter, please leave a comment below letting me know. I'll select a winner at random on Friday 13th April and you will be notified soon after.

Enter away!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

In my kitchen - April 2018

I am linking this into the monthly In My Kitchen round-up, hosted by Sherry of Sherry's Pickings.

In my kitchen there is an impressive amount of chocolate. I could attribute this to Easter, but that would be somewhat unfair. In truth, there is always a lot of chocolate in our house and Easter has just increased the quantities further.

Vegan friendly hazelnut chocolate bars, thanks to Marks and Spencer

Not directly related to Easter are dairy free chocolate bars from Marks and Spencer, as pictured above. UK vegans may know the hazelnut studded Vego chocolate bars, which are delicious and moreish and akin to Nutella in chocolate bar form. M&S have brought out a comparable bar of their own, the Gianduja bar. As shown below, it even looks the same as the Vego equivalent. It is also just as tasty and just as dangerous to have in the house! The Novi' block, pictured in the middle above, also features hazelnuts but I'm yet to try this.

Also not Easter-related, albeit bought when buying other people Easter chocolates, are the sour cherries in dark chocolate sold by Lidl. I've had these before and they strike a nice balance between sweet dark chocolate and sour dried cherry interior.