30 January 2015

Black Dragon – Traditional Welsh Farmhouse Cider

Today's post is actually about a cider, but I have included some of the nicest travel memories I have from a special country. Tasting this cider transported me back to a happy time, but also made me miss Wales very much. I occasionally get this longing for a holiday in Wales, as I have spent a couple of good ones there. I keep nagging to my partner regularly and out of the blue "When will you take me to Wales again?" or saying "I miss Wales.".

A few years ago (in July 2012) I visited the Llandudno area and Snowdonia and everything I saw took my breath away. I have added a couple of archive photos from that trip here and keep dwelling in nostalgia while I drink this cider that I also drank during that holiday. Just look at those beautiful beasts also known as the Great Orme goats, a Welsh waterfall, a view from the Snowdon mountain and an early evening scene overlooking the Llandudno Bay – one just has to adore these views!

And now to the actual cider. It's the Black Dragon by the Gwynt Y Ddraig The Welsh Cider & Perry Company 6,5 %. The look of the bottle is very attractive and the art work is nice. I do pay attention to that whenever I buy drinks (or food). Initially the drinker is encountered by a very appley taste and the freshness of the fruit is apparent. The cider is very smooth and dangerously easy to drink for its 6,5 %. It's medium dry with spicy notes and a clean aftertaste of apples and minerality. It's a refreshing drink, great to be served at parties.

Now I'm off to look at my Wales photo folder! See you soon!

Your VegHog

29 January 2015

Chickpea and roasted root vegetable hotpot

As snow falls over Britain (in many places, here I only saw about 5 snow flakes), it's suitable to post a warming winter dish. For the life of me I couldn't decide whether to call this dish a soup or a stew, so I went for a hotpot in the end. This dish can be a little bit of all of them, but I do find that it's a nice mid-winter dish. I haven't published too many soup or stew recipes here lately, but the other day I had the idea for this dish. It's cheap and easy to make and it tastes lovely and savoury in all its simplicity.

This is yet another vegan dish. Although I didn't commit to Veganuary, I have noticed that I've been cooking amazingly many vegan dishes this month. For me it's probably better not to be “forced” to eat vegan, then I do it quite voluntarily and almost without noticing. Don't get me wrong, there has been a lot of cheese, hot chocolate etc., so I haven't changed my ways.


2 parsnips
2 carrots
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp thyme
2 shallots
3 garlic cloves
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 l water
1 vegetable stock cube
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh coriander leaves


Peel and chop the parsnips and carrots into cubes. Brush them with olive oil, sprinkle thyme on them and roast in the oven until done with roasting marks.

Chop the shallots and garlic finely and cook them in a saucepan in olive oil until soft. Add the cooked chickpeas to the pan and shortly after that, the water and vegetable stock cube.

Let simmer for a while and just towards the end, add the roasted root vegetables and season the hotpot.

Serve warm, maybe with a slice of bread.

Your VegHog

27 January 2015

Hot chocolate season

I declare this time of the year to be hot chocolate season! It's so nice to sit around indoors wrapped in huge cardigans sipping hot drinks, isn't it just?

I recently purchased Hasslacher’s “Solid Bar” Colombian drinking chocolate in order to warm myself with something else than coffee or tea for a change. It has been ages since I have made hot chocolate, but now I'm truly back in the saddle. Making hot chocolate has a completely different feel to it when you have to melt a chunk of actual chocolate to get the drink. This hot chocolate is very strongly chocolatey, just as it should be, and it contains no added sugar.

Here is my recent Sunday brunch depicted with that hot chocolate and mushroom and cheese toasties. It was so lovely that it probably has to be repeated soon.

What is your favourite hot drink? What do you drink your hot chocolate with? Is cheese toastie not the clear winner as the partner?

Your VegHog

26 January 2015

Spinach and mushroom gnocchi

Monday is almost over and I feel like a winner already, as it was a very long and a very busy day. I just want to relax now. Anyway the recipe that I'm posting today is for an easy meal for weekdays, and I find myself quite often making such dishes. It's quick and convenient after a long day, but also very tasty and made with fresh ingredients. I used of course ready made gnocchi, as couldn't be bothered to make my own. Maybe I'll make some soon again, who knows.

Okay, so here's the recipe for easy spinach and mushroom gnocchi.


1 kg gnocchi
200 g baby leaf spinach
250 g closed cup chestnut mushrooms
2 shallots
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
Black pepper
Fresh basil
Vegetarian pasta cheese


Chop the shallots and garlic and slice the mushrooms.

Start cooking the shallots and garlic in olive oil until soft and add the mushroom slices to the pan.

Cook for a further 5 minutes at medium heat.

Add the spinach and cook until the leaves are wilted.

Season the mix with salt, pepper, nutmeg and basil to taste.

Cook the gnocchi in salt water for a couple of minutes until they float on the surface.

Serve the gnocchi with the spinach and mushrooms and some veggie pasta cheese shavings on the top. You can add a side salad, if you wish. I just served some cherry tomato halves on the side.

Enjoy your week!

Your VegHog

25 January 2015

Lebanese dirty rice

Adapted from the New Feast (p. 194-195) by Greg and Lucy Malouf

Some weeks ago I wrote a post about my newest vegetarian cookbook the New Feast by Greg and Lucy Malouf and now I cooked my first dish from it, the Lebanese dirty rice. It's a traditional Middle Eastern dish and I would love to hear from local people (or from people more experienced in this style of cuisine) how you usually make this dish. Please comment in the box below, if you have any experiences with such dishes. And obviously you can also comment, if you don't! The recipe was also published as an edited extract here. First I was very surprised by the lack of different spices, but when I ate the dish I realised that nothing else was needed. This was such a simple and beautiful dish and I think it will become a regular in my kitchen. The fried onions are just amazing!

I made some adjustments according to what was in my cupboard. I replaced the small black lentils with green lentils and the long-grain rice with brown rice. I also added one tablespoon of vegetable stock powder to the lentils when they were cooking. Otherwise I stuck more or less to the original recipe, but the below one is my version of it. I doubled up the ingredient amounts as well as I wanted to have a huge dish (feeds about 4 adults), but feel free to reduce the amounts if you prefer.

Ingredients for the rice

2 onions
4 tbsp olive oil
80 g green lentils
160 g brown rice
1,5 – 2 litres water
1 tsp ground cumin
Dried rose petals for the presentation

Ingredients for the fried onions

2 large onions
6 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp ground cumin
Vegetable oil for deep/shallow frying


Chop the onions for the rice finely and rinse the lentils. Start cooking the chopped onions in the olive oil until soft. Then add the lentils and about one litre water. More water will be added later. Let cook under lid for about 20 minutes until the lentils are almost done.

Then add the rice and little water if needed. Let cook for further 30 minutes. It can take longer with the brown rice. The goal is to cook both very soft so that the lentils stain the rice and make it dirty as described in the title.

In the meanwhile slice the onions for the topping into this strips and soak them for about 15 minutes in salt water. After that drain them well. For the coating mix the cornflour and ground cumin and roll the drained onions in there. Heat vegetable oil in a pan and deep fry the onions until they are crispy.
Serve the rice with the onions and rose petals on the top and enjoy! I found this pheomenal even cold the next day. What a great dish! I'm going to make this again next week, as it's also very cheap and I should always have the ingredients for it in the cupboard.

Have a good week everyone!

Your VegHog

24 January 2015

Caribbean style sweet potato curry with chilli roti bread

I have been planning to make a Caribbean style curry for a while now that I have managed to make a few edible Indian style curries. When I watched the BBC cooking programme How to be a better cook by Lorraine Pascale, and saw a Caribbean style curry made there, I thought that that recipe would make a nice base for a vegetarian one. You can find the original here, which unfortunately isn't vegetarian. I quite often still enjoy watching cookery shows where also meat dishes are prepared, because I can always learn a new style of cooking or get new recipe ideas. Most things can be altered and made vegetarian anyway. I also like Lorraine's style a lot.

I made the chilli roti bread as described on the BBC's page, so please refer to that recipe when making the bread. The curry recipe I obviously had to amend as it wasn't vegetarian, but I still followed Lorraine's tips for the preparation. Mine is maybe simpler, which also makes it a wonderfully easy curry to prepare quickly at home. So here is my version below and the original one can be found here.


2 sweet potatoes
4 cm piece of fresh ginger
2 red chillies
2 tbsp medium curry powder
400 g coconut milk
200 ml vegetable stock
200 g sugar snap peas
4 spring onions
1 lime


Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into cubes.

Chop the ginger and chillies very finely.

Add the curry powder to a medium hot pan and cook for a couple of minutes until the aromas are released.

Add the sweet potato cubes, chilli and ginger to the pan and stir.

Then add the coconut milk and the vegetable stock.

Simmer until the sweet potato is cooked.

Chop the spring onions into thin slices. You can cut the sugar snaps in half (like I did) or leaves them as whole. Add them both to the pan.

Press the juice of a lime onto the curry.

Serve with the spicy chilli roti breads and enjoy!

Your VegHog

21 January 2015

Freekeh salad with roasted courgettes and halloumi

Earlier this month I posted my first freekeh recipe on this blog: Smoky freekeh with peppers, beans and sweetcorn. Now I'm utterly freaking out for freekeh! At least I should get all my proteins and fibre at the moment, judging by the amount of freekeh I've been eating. This smoky freekeh is just perfect for different seasonal dishes at the moment and today I have made a warm and cold salad with it. The salad consists of roasted baby courgettes, halloumi, mixed leaves, pumpkin seeds and of course some freekeh. The fresh coriander added a wonderful flavour to this dish and as so often, I couldn't leave fried halloumi out of this salad.

Here's my salad recipe that is also my contribution to the 'Eat Your Greens' challenge by Shaheen from the A2K – A Seasonal Veg Table blog for the month January.

Freekeh salad with roasted courgettes and halloumi


1 shallot
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup smoky freekeh
1 ½ cup vegetable stock
200 g baby courgettes
250 g halloumi
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp smoked paprika
Pumpkin seeds
Fresh coriander leaves
110 g mixed salad leaves
Olive oil + balsamic vinegar + salt + pepper drizzled on the top


Rinse the freekeh. Chop the shallot and garlic finely and cook them soft in olive oil.

Add the freekeh to the pan with about one and a half cups of vegetable stock. More liquid can be added later if needed.

Let simmer under lid for about 30 minutes and season with the smoky paprika towards the end.

Cut the courgettes in about 1 cm long pieces and brush with olive oil. Roast them in the oven until they are soft with roasting marks.

Cut the halloumi into cubes and fry them in vegetable oil until golden brown.

Combine the components on a plate, drizzle olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper on the top and serve as a warm and cold salad.

Done! Easy!

Your VegHog

19 January 2015

Karhu – "Untamed Karhu is the strongest of its breed"

As usual I brought some Finnish food and drinks with me from my holiday, some of which you will be seeing here in other posts as well. And as usual a few bottles of Karhu were among those souvenirs. “Karhu” means bear in Finnish, but this one hasn't gone for hibernation. It's a bit milder one (4,6 %) than its furry friends, but it's still strong in taste. Of course I'm talking the whole time about beer here (bear beer), in case I was being a bit cryptic.

This beer has a malty nuttiness to it with some fruity esters. The sweet fruitiness is balanced through the moderately bitter aftertaste. All in all it's a very refreshing beer and can be well enjoyed after a visit to the sauna.

I took these photos already in Finland over Christmas, as we haven't seen any snow in the southern England (yet) this winter.

18 January 2015

Roasted vegetable pasta

Here is a quick weekday pasta I made the other night. I have noticed that I'm making less pasta dishes at the moment, but now I have made one. This one is a simple and quick one, just a few ingredients tossed together. The roasting adds sweetness to the vegetables and makes their taste more intense. Now in the winter time I have been roasting a lot of root vegetables, so it's a refreshing change to roast more summerly vegetables. I also love what toasted pine nut kernels add to this dish. 

So here is the recipe, have a look how I made the dish.


150 g baby peppers
200 g cherry tomatoes on the vine
200 g asparagus
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
30 g pine nut kernels
125 g buffalo mozzarella
Fresh basil
Ground black pepper
Sea salt
Pappardelle pasta


Slice the baby peppers and roast them in the oven brushed with olive oil. Roast them until they are soft and have dark roasting marks.

Roast the tomatoes and asparagus a little shorter time, but also brushed with olive oil. I did all the roasting at 200 C.

Toast the pine nut kernels in the oven or on a dry pan.

Chop the garlic cloves finely and cook them in olive oil until soft.

Boil the pasta in water until al dente.

Combine the roasted veg with the garlic in the pan and quickly toss together and season.

Serve with torn buffalo mozzarella on the top and drizzle a little your finest olive oil onto the portions as well.


Your VegHog

17 January 2015

Grilled cheese sandwiches

Who wouldn't love a good cheese sandwich, and grilled cheese sandwiches are amongst the finest in this category. I decided to make some for breakfast, and like so often I took inspiration from Felicity Cloake's column in The Guardian. Not too long ago she published the article How to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich and there are very good tips in there. Have a read through, if you are a grilled cheese enthusiast.

I really enjoyed these sandwiches very much. Below is my variation of grilled cheese sandwiches. I got the nice bread in a fairly new bakery/café in Southampton, Boulangerie Victor Hugo and used my favourite cheese of all time, the Finnish Oltermanni

Ingredients to make 4 sandwiches

8 slices of bread
100 g mature Cheddar grated
16 Oltermanni slices (or any other more easily melting cheese)
1 tsp butter
1 garlic clove
½ tsp smoked paprika


Heat a frying pan to medium heat.

Slice the bread.

Grate the Cheddar and slice the other cheese.

Cut the garlic into very thin slices.

Place the garlic, Cheddar, paprika and Oltermanni on one slice of bread and cover with another one.

Let the butter melt in the pan and put the breads there.

Press them down a bit and cook on both sides until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown.

Enjoy as breakfast or snack and above all enjoy your weekend! Sun is shining here, which means a bit brighter food photos for a change. And did you notice that I indeed got the seasonal Moomin mug for Christmas!

Your VegHog

15 January 2015

Chinese style vegetable stir fry

Finally I have time to post a recipe again! I do apologise for the blog being a bit quieter now, as I haven't had so much time for cooking and writing. Thank goodness the weekend is soon here and I'm able to cook more, maybe even bake! I'm really looking forward to that, a really quiet weekend at home.

So, now over to the actual recipe. I hope you like today's dish, which is just a Chinese style stir fry with various vegetables and tofu – one of my favourite dishes at the moment. With a little bit of spicing and fresh produce, it's very easy to make such a dish. It's light, yet filling and full of flavour. Have a look below, how I made this. You can also get creative and variate the vegetables at will.


300 g tofu
Groundnut oil for frying

3 bell peppers
150 g shiitake mushrooms
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
3 cm fresh ginger (about the same amount as the garlic when chopped)
1 small red chilli
2 spring onions
100 g baby pak choi

85 ml soy sauce
85 ml Shaoxing rice wine
3 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp maple syrup

200 g wholewheat noodles


Press the excess liquid off the tofu and cut it into cubes. Start frying the cubes in hot groundnut oil and in the meanwhile prepare the vegetables. The tofu cubes need to be firm and bouncy, at least that's the way I like it. And they can be set to side once you're happy with the texture.

Make the sauce by mixing the soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, sesame oil and maple syrup together. This will be added to the stir fry towards the end.

Chop the onion, ginger, chilli and garlic finely. Cut the bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms, spring onions and pak choi into suitable sized slices.

Quickly fry the pepper slices in the hot pan and set to side. Repeat the same for the shiitake mushrooms.

Start also cooking the noodles.

Heat a little groundnut oil in a pan and cook the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli until soft.

Add the spring onions, tofu, pre-fried peppers and mushrooms to the pan.

Pour the sauce on the vegetables and add the pak choi just before serving. I added my pak choi a bit too early, that's why the greenery looks like it has disappeared.

You can then either mix the noodles to the vegetables or serve them on the side.


Your VegHog

12 January 2015

Lazy Sunday lunch

I have been suffering from some winter tiredness lately. I have no strength whatsoever and that also shows in the kitchen. Last week and weekend were so hectic that I just couldn't be bothered to make a proper Sunday lunch this time. Normally that's my favourite time of the week to just dwell in the kitchen and cook for ages. Now I wanted to be quicker in order to get relaxing faster. I chose ingredients that had been lying around for a while without specific cooking plans and combined them in a lazy Sunday lunch.

This lunch consisted of:

Roasted sweet potato and butternut squash wedges – these were first roasted normally and then overbaked with cheese.

Broccoli and cheese Quorn escalopes – an easy ready meal, but nice to be combined with such dishes. I haven't been eating much Quorn for years, but now I have redetected it a little bit.

Mixed salad – just mixed salad leaves, pumpkin seeds and a pomegranate molasses dressing.

Fried onion rings – quickly fried shallot rings are a good addition to Schnitzel & co.

That was it. Next time I might be posting something slightly more inspirational.

Have a great week everyone!

Your VegHog