Spicy Vegan Stir-Fry

My posts have been a bit scattered recently, but, there’s good news: I’ve finally finished university! So, while I’m job hunting, I’ll have more time to tend to this blog. I’ve also booked a cheeky day trip to Amsterdam, so expect some posts about the experience soon.

Now, for this week’s recipe…

If you’re looking for a quick mid-week meal, a stir-fry is the way to go. You can prepare your vegetables ahead of time and store them in the fridge for even less hassle.

This stir-fry includes bell peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms, tofu and of course, chillies for heat. To get the tofu crispy, I made sure to flatten the tofu block with something heavy overnight. This helps to remove the moisture from the tofu.

Enjoy this stir-fry on top of some brown rice, or have it as a starter. Whatever works for you!

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • Half a block of tofu, drained and cut into cubes
  • 125g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp season-all

Method

  1. In a wok or large frying pan, heat the sesame oil over a medium heat.
  2. Fry off the garlic, ginger and chillies for 1 minute.
  3. Turn the heat to high, then add the tofu. Fry until crisp and golden brown all over, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the onions, peppers and mushrooms and fry for about 3 minutes, until tender.
  5. Add the spinach, soy sauce and season all. Stir until the spinach has wilted, then remove from the heat. Enjoy!
Advertisements

Bulgur Wheat Jollof

The first time I had bulgur wheat was in Kervan Sofrasi two or three years ago – a Turkish restaurant in North London. The way they had cooked it reminded me of jollof rice, since it was orange in colour. It was a great alternative to eating rice.

As some of you may know, making jollof rice takes a good two or three hours. Making the switch to bulgur wheat will reduce your cooking time by half, guaranteed! When I want to cook something in bulk that will last me a week, bulgur jollof is definitely in my top five choices.

You can experiment with the seasoning as it is all to taste. Feel free to include vegetables, meat or fish to your stew to add even more flavours and textures.

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 500g bulgur wheat, washed and drained
  • 400g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 200ml water
  • 4 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large onion, 1 half thinly sliced, the other half cut into large chunks
  • 2x chicken stock cubes
  • 1x shrimp stock cube
  • 2 tsp season all
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp paprika

Method

  1. In a blender, blend the plum tomatoes, onions chunks, bell pepper chunks and the scotch bonnet until smooth.
  2. Heat a large pot with the oil on a medium heat. Once hot, fry the sliced onions and minced garlic, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the tomato puree to the pot and fry for about a minute, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the blended tomato mix into the pot and stir. Add the chicken stock cubes, shrimp stock cube, season all, ginger and paprika. The stew will start to bubble and pop at this point, so be mindful!
  4. Add the water to the pot, stir and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally and seasoning to taste.
  5. Once the stew has been cooked, add in the bulgur wheat. Reduce the heat to low and stir, ensuring all grains have been covered by the stew.
  6. Cover the pot with foil (shiny side facing the inside of the pot), then cover the pot with its lid.
  7. The bulgur wheat will cook in about 20 mins, during this period of time, be sure to stir frequently or else your bulgur will burn.
  8. Once the bulgur wheat has completely absorbed all of the stew and fully cooked, turn off the heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes. After this time, use a fork to separate the grains, then serve.

Lemon Cupcakes

Lemon cupcakes are a great alternative to the classic vanilla and chocolate flavours. Lemon desserts in general are always a solid option in my opinion. They offer not only sweetness, but a tangy citrus to cut through your taste buds.

After vanilla cupcakes, I’d say that lemon cupcakes are the easiest to make. If you’re new to baking, I definitely recommend trying this as a start if vanilla isn’t your thing.

These cupcakes are light, fluffy and quite addictive, so try to eat in moderation! I gifted these to someone for their birthday, and they revealed that they had eaten three for breakfast!

Makes 12 Cupcakes

Ingredients

For the lemon buttercream

  • 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 350g icing sugar, sifted
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 2 lemons

Method

  1. In a bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar with an electric whisk for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in the lemon juice and zest and continue to whisk for another 2 minutes until light and smooth.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 180g self-raising flour, sieved
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder, sieved
  • 3 large eggs
  • Juice and zest of 3 lemons
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan)/ gas mark 4. Line a 12 hole cupcake tray with paper cases.
  2. In a bowl, cream together the butter and the caster sugar with a wooden spoon or whisk until well combined and pale.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then fold in the flour and baking powder.
  4. Add in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest, then mix together until you have a smooth, light cupcake batter.
  5. Spoon the batter into each case until half to two-thirds full.
  6. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when tapped gently. Leave to cool.
  7. When the cupcakes have cooled, spoon the lemon buttercream into a piping bag with a nozzle of your choice. Pipe in a spiral motion.

HAZ: A Review

I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like Mediterranean food and it is definitely in my top three types of cuisine.

Turkish food specifically is always a solid choice for me when it comes it eating out or ordering in. Borek, lahmacun, moussaka and more, the ingredients are simple, yet the flavours are fresh and bold.

I visited HAZ in St. Paul’s, London, for a birthday dinner back in January; seven of us in total. I had booked a table in advance.

The atmosphere was modern and slick, with a great bar and plenty of dining space. I ordered a bottle of Haz Rose Çal Karasi, Kalamari to start and the Steamed Atlantic Cod for the main. While we waited for out orders to come in, we were served with a basket of Turkish bread.

Haz Rose Çal Karasi

Rose

Price: £5.50/glass or £19.95/bottle

The house rose is described as having ‘fresh red fruits, cherry and raspberry with a fruity and vivid palate.’ This was a fresh and dry rose, not too sweet. The bottle lasted the majority of the evening between myself and a friend. The server gave us a bucket of ice to keep the wine chilled which was great.

Rating: 4/5

Kalamari

Calamari

Price: £6.45

If I see calamari on a menu, I’ll order it straight away. It is one of my favourite things to eat. I was surprised at how large the calamari was at HAZ – and only £6.45? A bargain compared to other places. They were served with a yoghurt tartar and a wedge of lemon. These were the best calamari I’ve ever tasted, honestly.

Rating: 5/5 (If I could give more points, I would)

Steamed Atlantic Cod

Cod

Price: £15.95

The cod was steamed with ginger and shallots. It was served with baby new potatoes and a plum tomato and pepper sauce. This was such a flavourful dish and the new potatoes on my plate were a bonus as they were not mentioned on the menu. This main was a great end to the evening – I was stuffed by the end of it!

Rating: 5/5

HAZ will definitely be seeing me again when I’m back in London. It might be my new regular spot as the food was fantastic and the service was brilliant. I can’t wait to try out the other menu items and some of their desserts (if there’s enough space in my stomach!).

There are six branches of HAZ in the City of London: Bishopsgate, Finsbury Square, Houndsditch, Plantation Place, Premier Place and St. Paul’s.

HAZ is available for delivery too!

Overall Rating: 5/5

Location: HAZ, 34 Foster Lane, St Paul’s, London EC2V 6HD
Website: https://www.hazrestaurant.co.uk/

Vegetable Noodle Soup

A warming, light noodle soup packed with a variety of crunchy and soft vegetables, topped off with a soft-boiled egg.

This dish is definitely a new favourite of mine and is very simple to make. The first time I made it was during winter; evenings were cold and coursework deadlines were nearing fast. After a long day of work, this meal kept the cold away and gave me a much needed boost of energy.

If an egg isn’t for you, try this recipe using a protein of your choice such as chicken or beef.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 200g dry udon noodles
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 700ml vegetable stock (or two vegetable stock cubes dissolved in 700ml of boiling hot water)
  • 50ml mirin
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • 80g spring greens, sliced
  • 120g shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 large free range eggs (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chillies (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Fry the minced garlic and ginger for thirty seconds to one minute. Add the onions and mushrooms, stir and cook for two minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium, then add the mirin and soy sauce. Cook for another minute.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and the spring greens into the pot. Stir and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust salt/seasoning if necessary.
  4. In a smaller pot, boil water and place in the eggs. Boil the eggs for six to seven minutes to achieve a soft yolk. Once cooked, place in cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, peel off the egg shell.
  5. In another pot, cook your noodles according to the packet’s instructions (the brand I used needed only three minutes).
  6. To serve, place the noodles in a bowl, pour over the vegetable soup along with the mushrooms, onions and spring greens. Top with the boiled egg sliced in half, the chopped spring onions and the sliced bell peppers. Sprinkle over some crushed chillies and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Chocolate & Walnut Brownies

Here is another brownie recipe, and this time, they’re gluten free!

After seeing food blogger Lithuanian in the USA post an amazing recipe for chocolate and walnut brownies, I was inspired to make my own.

Any time I am at home in London (away from university life), I cook and bake for my family using gluten-free ingredients. This is because my pops needs to avoid type of protein. So, instead of using wheat flour in my bakes, I usually turn to the gluten-free flours from Doves Farm. The plain and self-raising flours are typically a blend of rice, potato, maize and more.

This brownie is very simple to make, and if you are not a fan of nuts or are allergic, you can omit them. I don’t use too much sugar as I actually like the flavour of dark chocolate, and I find some brownies a bit sickly if they are too sweet. You can also use regular plain wheat flour as well – the results will be the same!

Check out Lithuanian in the USA’s delicious chocolate and walnut brownie recipe here!

Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 200g dark chocolate (I used 85% cocoa), roughly chopped
  • 175g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 140g gluten-free plain flour (I used Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain White Flour), sifted
  • 265g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp icing sugar to decorate (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170ºC (155ºC fan)/gas mark 3 1/2. Line a 33-35cm square oven dish with baking paper.
  2. Place the butter and the chopped chocolate into a bowl and melt this over a pan of hot water, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once the butter and chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and add in the sugar. Stir until well combined.
  4. Add in the flour and stir until incorporated, then beat in the eggs until you achieve a smooth and silky chocolate mixture.
  5. Stir the chopped walnuts into the brownie batter, then transfer into the oven dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  6. Once baked, leave to cool down before dusting with icing sugar and cutting into slices.

Lemon & Blueberry Cake

I have been MIA for 4-5 months, but it has taken a while for me to get back into the flow of university life after spending 2017/18 on a work placement.

It was about time for a makeover, so I’ve acquired a domain, revamped the website and have a new logo courtesy of my good friend (my friends are so talented, honestly).

Over Christmas, I received The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook from one of my older brothers. There was actually a week in January where I made 4 different cakes. The bakes are so good and very easy to make, so I definitely recommend purchasing this cookbook. It will also save you a lot of money by baking the various cakes, cookies and pies yourselves!

The cake recipe in this post was inspired by The Hummingbird Bakery’s Blueberry Cake. Their version used one 25cm Bundt tin. The recipe below uses two 23cm round cake tins to make it a two-layer cake, and includes a citrus hint from lemons.

Serves 12-14

Ingredients

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 300g icing sugar, sifted
  • 50g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 130g full fat cream cheese, cold
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Method

  1. In a bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar with an electric whisk or free-standing mixer, until a sandy texture is achieved.
  2. Add in the cream cheese and the lemon juice, then whisk for about 1 minute until light and fluffy.

For the cake

  • 350g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 450g plain flour, sifted
  • 5 large free range eggs
  • 3 lemons, zest and juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 + 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 250ml soured cream
  • 250g fresh blueberries (plus more to decorate)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan)/ gas mark 4. Grease two 23cm cake tins with butter and lightly flour.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk or free-standing mixer, until well combined and paler in colour.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest.
  4. Gradually beat in the flour and the baking powder, then add in the soured cream. Mix until the batter is well combined.
  5. Fold in the fresh blueberries then separate the batter into the two cake tins. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, or until the cake springs back when tapped gently.
  6. Once the cakes have cooled down completely, decorate them as you wish using the cream cheese frosting and top with the extra blueberries.
  7. Grab a knife and cut yourself a slice!

Tip: lightly coat the blueberries in flour before folding them into the cake batter. This will help slow down the process of the blueberries sinking towards the bottom of the cake.