19 March 2017

Potato and leek pierogi

I have been meaning to make vegetarian pierogi for ages, but only managed to make them now. Pierogi are basically Eastern European filled dumplings, and I always find the veggie versions so tasty. When I was a student a long time ago, my Russian friends showed me the method, and we cooked some lovely vegetarian potato pierogi together. I'm not sure, if I kept a lot of knowledge of their method, but I still remember that night very vividly.

Quite a while ago I found a recipe for vegan Potato Pierogi With Caramelized Onions by Isa Chandra, and saved it for future reference, as I knew that I would like to make pierogi again, and her recipe sounded like there wouldn't be too much fuss. So now I amended the recipe slightly, especially the filling, as I added leeks seasoned with cider, but followed her lead otherwise. Her tips especially for the dough are very valuable.

I served my pierogi with some fried onions and mushrooms and homemade kale crisps. It was a simple dish, but so good. Have a look at my recipe below.

Potato and leek pierogi

Adapted from Potato Pierogi With Caramelized Onions by Isa Chandra


For the filling:

500 g new potatoes
1 onion
1 garlic clove
1 leek
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Sprinkle of salt
Sprinkle of ground black pepper
Dash of dry cider (optional)

For the dough:

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup warm water
3 cups wheat flour
Sprinkle of salt


Isa makes her dough last, because it's messy, but I like to get rid of this phase in the beginning. Mix the dough ingredients together, but leave one cup of flour on the side. Add it later, once the dough starts shaping. Knead for a while, wrap in cling film and let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Then off to the filling making: Cook the potatoes, mash and set to side. Chop the onion and garlic finely and slice the leek. Start frying the onion in vegetable oil until it's softened and slightly browned. Then add the garlic, soon followed by the leeks. Pour a dash of cider to the pot, if you like, and season. Let simmer under lid until the leeks are soft and all flavours have blended nicely.

Roll out a part of the dough and cut evenly sized circles from it. You can use a cookie cutter, or even a glass. Put about one tablespoon of the filling onto the dough circles, close by pinching and set to side on a floured surface. I even have a small pierogi maker that presses the sides together, so that was quite handy.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, and cook the pierogi there in batches of about six. They are done when they float on the surface. I additionally fried them in some margarine, but this is optional, however it does add something nice to them.

Serve the pierogi with the sides of your choice and enjoy!

Have a relaxing Sunday!

Your VegHog

16 March 2017

Couscous with chilli-honey glazed halloumi

I've mentioned a few times before that I'm a fan of Gran Luchito, and their chilli sauces, and I can just keep repeating myself. They have a versatile range of smoked chilli paste, chilli ketchup, chilli mayo, chilli honey etc., all products that I've tried have been of excellent quality.

I sometimes also browse through their recipes on their webpage to find Mexican style cooking inspiration, and one time I stumbled upon this Chilli Honey Halloumi Couscous Salad Recipe.

I made the salad according the instructions and pretty much even stuck to the ingredient amounts (I used a slightly bigger halloumi...), and it was a complete revelation. I loved this dish so much and want to eat it every day. All the flavours complimented each other so well, the walnuts, spring onions, the glazed halloumi, all mixed in the mild fluffy couscous, simply so good! I have the feeling that this will become one of my standard dishes.

I'm not going to repeat the recipe here, as I didn't really change it. Head to the Gran Luchito page, if you want to see how this is made. They also have quite a nice YouTube channel, if you prefer watching recipe videos.

The chilli-honey can be a bit hard to find in shops, but I order it online, so it's fairly convenient. The product is totally worth it.

Your VegHog

14 March 2017

Favourite eateries in my area – Brewhouse and Kitchen / Sadler's Brewhouse and Barbeque

Today I want to write about two nice brewhouses in my area.

This is a very nice place to spend an afternoon with friends at. The atmosphere is great, the drinks are qualitative and the food is very tasty. Their nachos are a very nice to have to accompany the drinks. On their old menu they had a spectacular bread board and deep-fried mac'n'cheese bites. I really miss those dishes, but maybe they will return some day. It's still nice to go there for small get-togethers.

Sadler's is one of my favourite hangouts and you are likely to find me here on most weekends. Their menu is quite concentrated on the meaty dishes, but they also have excellent veggie options. The portions are huge, I mostly can't finish a main. They have a very good selection of drinks, obviously beers from the Sadler's brewery, and many other craft beers and ciders.

I like their burrito very much, but my favourite was a dish with deep fried Brie wedges, mac 'n' cheese bites, jalapeño poppers and chargrilled vegetables topped with hummus and pitta bread, which has now unfortunately been removed from the menu. At least I still have my archive photo to drool over.

My partner quite often has a double veggie burger topped with grated Emmental, served in a bun with fries and cornbread. It looks so good, but is a bit too large for me.

12 March 2017

Kale gnocchi with crispy sage butter

I got the idea for this wonderfully green dish from Mat Follas' cookbook Vegetable Perfection. Mat writes about Kale gnocchi with kale crisps (p. 38-39), and I was very much inspired by this recipe, but made my gnocchi slightly differently, so I'm sharing my own version below. I thought that it was a great idea using the nutty kale in gnocchi, instead of the usual spinach.

I served my portion with crispy sage butter, which is one of my all time favourite gnocchi sauces. Additionally I made a tomato-garlic sauce and a baked cheese twirl from vegetarian pasta cheese. Like Mat, I also made some kale crisps to be served on the side. I just tossed mine in little olive oil, smoked paprika and sea salt, and baked them crispy. All components went so well together, and my gnocchi held nicely their shape, so I was very pleased with this dish.

Kale gnocchi
Adapted from Kale gnocchi with kale crisps by Mat Follas, serves 4

700 g baking potatoes
100 g kale
2 egg yolks
1 cup wheat flour
½ tsp salt


Bake the potatoes in the oven until soft. Once they are cooled down, remove the potatoes from the skins and mash.

Purée the kale into a smooth paste.

Combine the ingredients for the dough and knead. Add more flour of needed.

Wrap the dough in cling film and let rest in the fridge for about an hour.

Shape long sticks from the dough, cut into about 2 cm long pieces and press lightly with a fork. Repeat this for the whole dough until all gnocchi have been shaped.

Bring water to boil in a large pot and add the gnocchi. They are done after a few minutes when they float on the surface.

Before serving I fried the gnocchi a little bit in the sage butter. This is optional, but it does give them a nice flavour and a slightly chewier texture.

Serve the gnocchi with the sides and enjoy!

I want to share this green recipe with this month's Eat Your Greens, which Shaheen is hosting.

Have a nice Sunday!

Your VegHog

11 March 2017

Bento Italiano

You may have noticed that ever since I got my lovely sushi rice moulds, I've been very keen on bento box lunches. This time I gave the box a little bit of a twist by using typical Italian ingredients in it.

I made sure at work that neither my Italian nor Japanese colleagues would see this lunch, in case this fusion would've been too much for them. I avoid these subjects with one of my Italian colleagues anyway, as she wasn't very pleased to hear that I like pineapple on a pizza...

I thought that this was a really good lunch and I would make it anytime again.

So this is what I made:
  • onigiri from sushi rice cooked with vegetable stock powder and a rind of vegetarian pasta cheese, with an olive and sundried tomato filling, and basil facial features
  • mini pizzas using halves of whole wheat pittas as a base, with semi-dried tomato, basil, oregano and vegetarian pasta cheese on top
  • roasted red pepper and garlic sauce with some olive oil and pine nuts (basically a red pesto)
  • balsamic jelly
  • pulled mozzarella
  • olives
  • roasted red peppers
  • lambs lettuce
  • tomatoes
  • pine nuts
  • basil

How did you find this fusion bento? Was I crossing a line there?

I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

Your VegHog

9 March 2017

Mexican mac'n'cheese

Mac'n'cheese is certainly one of my favourite dishes, and I also like when it's slightly altered at times. I like the fairly new M&S ready meal, mac'n'cheese with leek and smoked cheese breadcrumbs, and recently one of my local burger places had truffle mac'n'cheese on offer (really really tasty!).

So that's how I thought that I could also try a new version of the classic in my kitchen. I wanted to go with Mexican spices, and what could've been a better choice than Gran Luchito smoked chilli paste as the base for the spicing. Feel free to use other brands, but I really like Gran Luchito at the moment.

My partner doesn't like milky and creamy sauces, so I whisked the cheese directly into chilli seasoned vegetable stock. I liked the end result of this recipe, soft macaroni smothered in cheese with a hint of chilli, just perfect for me. Try it, if you are a fan of mac'n'cheese and/or Mexican food!

Mexican mac'n'cheese
One large oven dish

300 g macaroni
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 small chilli
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp smoked chilli paste
Sprinkle of smoked paprika
Sprinkle of salt
Sprinkle of ground black pepper
200 ml vegetable stock
200 g grated emmental


Cook the macaroni and set to side.

Chop the onion, garlic and chilli finely and cook them in vegetable oil until soft.

Mix in the seasoning and the smoked chilli paste.

Then add the vegetable stock and let it heat through.

Gradually start whisking in the grated cheese so that it melts into the mix. Use about 100 g of the cheese at this stage.

When the cheese mixture is smooth, mix it with the macaroni and put into an oven dish.

Cover with the rest of the cheese and bake at 180 C for about 15 minutes.


Your VegHog

8 March 2017

In My Kitchen in March

It's hard to believe that it's already March! I'm quite optimistic going towards spring, but how could these first two months slip by so quickly? Anyway, I collected some things in this post that are currently in my kitchen and want to share the post with Liz from Good Things, who is hosting the In My Kitchen blogging event.

I've spotted the first signs of spring in my area, as spring flowers start appearing here and there. It can't be long now, right?

I bought Matt Sewell's bird spotting notebook, which I may use for some recipe notes, if I can ever write anything in it rather than keeping it clean and nice to look at. I have that issue with notebooks, I love them, but I don't want to ruin them by writing in them...

I finally took upon organising the spice rack. That was long overdue, the trolley was full of stuff, spices, oils, baking ingredients, some of which had expired in 2014! Unfortunately I didn't take a before picture, so this is after. It's still not perfect, but much more neat and in order than before. Now I can actually find what I'm looking for. The trolley itself was quite a good buy from Ikea, it's mobile and sturdy.

I've been drinking more healthy waters, and of course one of my all time favourites is birch water, as we sourced it with our granddad in our childhood. It was all sustainable and from his own forest, and the season started straight away when the snow and ice had melted. It was so great to get the first refreshing harvest of the spring. Now I have to buy the bottled version, but even that brings back a lot of memories.

I bought this Classic Chipotle Chilli Sauce, but haven't dared to use it yet. It might be too spicy for me, so I will let my partner try it first. I just quite liked the bottle.

I've had this jar of Gelatina di Balsamico in my cupboard for a while, but now I finally used it. It was really great jellied balsamic vinegar, and it added such a punch to a tomato mozzarella salad. 

I couldn't resist these cute bee gingerbread cookies. I think I'll slip them into our lunchboxes one day.

A new brewhouse opened close to my house, and they serve such tasty pizzas. The pizzas are served in takeaway boxes to the table for the less formal dining, and this one was a basic tomato-mozzarella pizza with olives as a topping. 

This was my kitchen, and a bit of the surrounding area, in March. I hope you enjoyed the post, can't wait to have a peek into your kitchens!

Your VegHog

7 March 2017

Fennel and chickpea curry

I want to be quite productive with cooking, posting and commenting this week... let's see how that goes. At least I'm full of cooking ideas, if only I can make it all happen. Slowly it's starting to be bright when I leave for work in the morning, and the sun hasn't fully set yet when I get home on most days. So that's quite energising, and hopefully I'll get some daylight for my food photos soon!

Today's recipe is another fennel dish of mine. This time I used fennel in one of my favourite curries, a chickpea one with garam masala. I simply served it with some basmati rice. This was a really good vegan meal, one that I will certainly be making again. I added some purple carrots in order to add slightly more colour and texture.

Fennel and chickpea curry


1 onion
4 garlic cloves
3 cm fresh ginger
1 small chilli
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 purple carrots
1 fennel
1,5 cups cooked chickpeas
1 tbsp garam masala spice mix
Sprinkle of turmeric
160 ml coconut cream
1 cup basmati rice


Chop the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli finely. Heat vegetable oil in a pan and start cooking the onions first. Once the onions are soft and slightly browned, add the garlic, ginger and chilli.

Slice the carrots and fennel and also add them to the pan. Stir for a few moments and then add the chickpeas and garam masala spice mix and turmeric.

Then add the coconut cream and let simmer until all components have nicely cooked and the flavours blended.

Cook the rice separately and serve it with the curry once done. Enjoy! 

I want to share this recipe with Lisa from Lisa's Kitchen, who is hosting My Legume Love Affair this month.

Your VegHog

6 March 2017

Forest walk in New Forest

A few weeks back we visited the nearby New Forest and had a nice winter walk there. Back then it was still a bit icy, so it was a very refreshing and energising. It was quite unusual that those parts of the forest were so empty of people, as they are usually quite popular walking and cycling routes. I guess the weather kept the crowds away. That was even better for us, just us and the nature, bliss!

Of course we did some of the usual pony spotting. The ponies were wearing their thick winter coats and grazing happily. We also saw a large herd of deer, but they were too far away to take a photo. I didn't dare to approach them more, as they surely would have ran away.

I'm sorry that I didn't come around posting these photos earlier, but here they are now. In the meanwhile it's much more spring like already.