Sausage Ragu & Cheesy Polenta

A sausage ragu is one of those recipes you often see on pretentious Italian cooking shows. The chef spends all day cooking it and it looks like tomato slop on a plate. I decided I’d write my own recipe for it which can be completed without fancy ingredients and in about 30 minutes. This is now one of my favourite comfort food meals. It’s fresh and fragrant, yet filling and hearty. Everything you want in a dish right? Take a look at this!

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I enjoyed mine with a lovely Welsh cider really complemented the flavours in the sauce! πŸ™‚ (Pretentious or what? πŸ˜› )

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped or minced

8 vegan sausages (I used Linda McCartney as these days I’m skint.)

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

400 ml vegetable stock

2 tbsp tomato puree

400g instant polenta

1 whole block of vegan cheese (I used Cheezly because it’s hard to get hold of much in rural South Wales. Try Tesco’s smoked vegan cheese for the best flavours.)

4 fresh rosemary sprigs

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Method

Make the ragu! Heat the oil in a frying pan. Cook the onions and garlic for a few minutes on a medium heat.

Stir in the sausages, breaking them up into small pieces as they defrost. This should take roughly 8 minutes.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes, stock, tomato puree and most of the rosemary. Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken.

Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Whilst the ragu is simmering away, it’s time to make the cheesy polenta. Make up the polenta as per the packet instructions. Remove from the heat and stir in your cheese. (You’ll need to have grated it for this to work.) Season as you wish.

To plate up, pour the ragu over the top of the polenta and add some fresh sprigs of rosemary.

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I really hope you enjoy this dish. It’s worth the time and effort to make it. πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Amy’s Breakfast Sandwich: A Product Review

I was scrolling through Facebook as you do and I came across a picture of this breakfast sandwich. Hallelujah! A lovely big juicy breakfast muffin with tons of flavour and certainly enough to fill you up. It turns out that I was deceived by clever marketing. The box is very well designed and about the size you’d expect a breakfast muffin box to be.

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We don’t have a microwave in our house because we have no need for one so I followed the oven cooking instructions to the letter on the reverse of the pack. It came out like this:

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It was absolutely tiny! I think my little sister might even struggle with that as a snack let alone a full breakfast. So it tasted amazing right? Nope!

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The bread was chewy, the tofu flavourless and the sausage patty did not have nearly enough meatiness to it. There wasn’t even really that much sauce with it. It’s a good job I made a breakfast hash to go with it otherwise I’d have been starving!

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I’ve seen some people raving about this new product and don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that one is now on the market. It’s just a shame I think it tastes like cardboard and so will any non-vegan who tries it. Good try though Amy’s. I look forward to trying your other new products soon.

Whilst I personally didn’t enjoy it, people have different tastes. Try it and let me know what you think!

 

Score? 2/5

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato & Fig Salad

I don’t normally buy figs because they tend to be very expensive. However I walked into my local Morrison’s the other night and found a pack of four figs for 25p on offer. I had no idea what to do with them so I made a seasonal salad. You can adjust the spice in the recipe to your taste. Me? I like it reasonably hot!

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Ingredients:

4 large sweet potatoes

4 large figs

1 red chilli

250 ml balsamic vinegar

4 spring onions

2 teaspoons of caster sugar

Salt

Pepper

2 teaspoons of oil of choice. (I use rapeseed.)

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1) Get the oven on full whack.

2) Chop the sweet potatoes into wedges and place in a baking tray. Do the same with the figs.

3) Drizzle your oil over the tray mixture and add salt and pepper to season. Place into the oven for 30 minutes.

4) In the meantime stir fry a chopped red chilli and spring onions for a couple of minutes and leave to cool.

5) Now we need to make a balsamic reduction for the dressing. Pour the balsamic vinegar in a small pan and heat until it boils.

6) Add the caster sugar, stir well and leave to cool. the dressing should thicken to a syrup whilst cooling.

7) Remove the sweet potatoes and figs from the oven and mix in with the spring onions and chilli.

8) Serve drizzled with the sweet balsamic reduction.

 

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This could be great as a side dish or even a full main course salad.

 

Enjoy!

Caramelised onion & barley soup with cheeze croutons.

First let me apologise for there being a two month gap in blog posts. Life at Castle Mouche has been pretty hectic! We gave up our jobs and moved to the other side of the UK and then we adopted a new dog called Darcy who is taking up a lot of our time. I have however been cooking and taking pictures. Unlike a lot of bloggers my pictures aren’t staged. They just are what I happen to be eating and I decide to take pictures. πŸ™‚

Let’s start off on a dish that is easy to make, loaded with calcium and can even be frozen for use later in the week.

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Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon of dried thyme

1 tablespoon sugar

1 pint of vegetable stock

60 g pearl barley

Half a bag of curly kale

Ciabatta bread

Grated vegan cheese. I used Cheezley.

Some sprouted beans for garnish. (Optional.)

 

 

  • Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions, garlic, thyme and sugar.
  • Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly and then add the vegetable stock.
  • Add the pearl barley to this mixture and cook for a further 20 minutes.
  • In the mean time slice your ciabatta into croΓ»ton sized pieces, sprinkle with your grated vegan cheese and place under a warm grill for about 5 minutes. (Watch them carefully or else they are likely to burn.)
  • Add the kale to the soup and heat for another 3 minutes before serving warm with your croutons.

It’s really that simple! Enjoy as the nights start to get colder! πŸ™‚

 

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Chilli, Ginger & Coconut Japanese Vegetable Broth

Firstly let me just say, that I am really into Japanese style food at the moment. Secondly and I’m just going to put it out there, this is probably one of the best dishes I have ever made. The only thing that could have made this better was if I had used a pestle and mortar instead of a blender to make the broth paste. (Arthur our lovely ginger cat decided he didn’t like it anymore and smashed it on the floor.)

Also ASDA AKA Walmart is totally rubbish for all things Japanese, so I had to make substitutions left right and centre to make this work. It’s ok though because the bearded one absolutely loved it! \M/

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We have six rescue cats by the way so whenever we are taking pictures that are not just purely of food, you’ll see a couple here and there. πŸ˜›

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped.
  • 4 large leaves of savoy cabbage, chopped.
  • Lemon grass herbs or paste.
  • 10 black pepper corns.
  • 1 large red onion.
  • 5 cloves of garlic.
  • 1 red chilli pepper.
  • A peeled slice of fresh ginger the length of your little finger.
  • 250ml water.
  • Sea salt to add for your taste.
  • Half a head of fresh broccoli, chopped.
  • A handful of fresh coriander, chopped.
  • 1 tin of coconut milk.
  • Sugar snap peas, de-podded.

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The method:

  • Get your wok out and place a small amount of oil in it. Turn up the heat and place the chopped red onion and peppercorns in the pan.
  • Stir fry for about 3 minutes and then turn the heat off.
  • In the meantime deseed your red chilli and place it in a food processor with the garlic and ginger. Now add about 100 ml of water and wizz it all up to form a paste. (You may need to pulse blend here depending on how good your blender is. I’m not like other food bloggers. Vitamix has yet to endorse me, but hey if you’re listening guys, I don’t mind. :P)
  • Place your paste into your wok and crank up the heat again for another 3 or 4 minutes to reduce it down a bit.
  • Now it’s time to start adding ingredients one by one, each time stirring and covering in the tasty mixture you just made. I started with the carrots and and worked my way through the rest ending in coconut milk.
  • Make sure you have mixed everything in well.
  • Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes so that the vegetables aren’t entirely raw.
  • Serve with some fresh coriander and chop sticks.

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Chutney Roasted Mock Beef Spinach & Beetroot Salad

Things don’t always have to be complicated to be amazing. Sometimes the most simple of ingredients thrown together can create an explosion of flavour in your mouth that you thought you might never be able to create.

A lot of people think that as a vegan you always have to make everything from scratch too. Well that is a big fat lie! The stars of this dish are the pre-made ingredients you can see below:

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The ingredients themselves are pretty simple too:

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  • A teaspoon of dried thyme.
  • A good few twists of black pepper.
  • 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.
  • A whole pack of pre-diced and smoked beetroot.
  • 3/4 pack of baby leaf spinach.
  • 1 teaspoon of olive or rapeseed oil.
  • 1 whole pack of VBites beef style roast chopped into slices.
  • 2 tablespoons of your favourite sweet chutney.

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This recipe will make enough for two hungry post-workout adults. πŸ˜‰

  1. Get the oven on it’s top heat, whatever that is for you.
  2. Place the balsamic vinegar, oil and beef style pieces in a baking tray and mix together so that the flavours start to soak into the “meat.”
  3. Now mix in the chutney making sure every single slice is smothered in it. Use more that 2 tablespoons if need be.
  4. Place that deliciousness in the oven for 10 minutes. (Keep an eye on it because the chutney burns easily.)
  5. In the mean time mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and chop them down with a large pair of scissors to give it a shredded salad feel. (You won’t need any dressing. The “beef” will dress the entire thing.)
  6. When 10 minutes has passed, remove the roasting mix from the oven and combine with the salad you just made.
  7. Serve that baby hot and maybe with a pinch of dried chilli on top. πŸ™‚

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Aubergine Parmigiana (Soy & Gluten Free)

This is total comfort food for when those spring evenings aren’t quite warm enough yet. It’s also a budget meal with just a few ingredients and herbs that you can make with what you have in a standard vegan cupboard. If you’re not vegan yet, perhaps you should visit http://www.whyveganism.com and get on that shit, right now! πŸ˜€

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Ingredients:

3 large aubergines

1 glug of olive oil

2 red onions

3 garlic cloves

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

Salt and pepper to season

1/4 tub of nutritional yeast

Method:

1) Slice the aubergine into quite thick slices and rub with salt and pepper. (Aubergine tends to be quite watery and you want it to absorb all the tomatoey goodness.)

2) Place in layers in a a lasagne dish.

3) Now mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. (Except the nutritional yeast.) Leave to marinate for 10 minutes whilst you heat the oven.

4) Now pour over the aubergine dish and sprinkle all of the nutritional yeast on the top.

5) Bake for 40 minutes.

6) Serve with new potatoes or a crisp salad.

 

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