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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Quinoa Crusted Vegetables

The party season is upon us! Whether it’s Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas or New Year you’re celebrating, you’re need some munchies to have around whilst entertaining people. This is also great to eat on the sofa in front of a movie! πŸ™‚

I was dubious at first, like, “how the hell is raw quinoa going to taste nice?” Trust me though. This is like having something breaded and crunchy.

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Ingredients

(Ok so scale up if you need to because this was just for 2 people.)

2 courgettes, cut lengthways

1 aubergine, sliced into discs

2 sweet potatoes

1 pot of store bought salsa

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

2 tsp oil

2 tsp Jamaican all purpose or jerk seasoning

A large handful of raw, dry quinoa

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Method

Get the oven on full whack.

Slice up the sweet potatoes into chips, place on a baking tray and cover in oil and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste and then chuck in the oven for 30 minutes.

Mix some salt, quinoa, oil and all purpose seasoning in a bowl.

Now dip the courgettes and aubergines into the bowl, making sure they get plenty of quinoa on them. (Your hands are going to get mucky. Deal with it.)

Place on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes.

The sweet potato fries and quinoa crusted vegetables should be ready about the same time.

Serve with salsa.

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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!

Growing Garlic

And so my adventure in Queer Vegan gardening begins! I’ve always thought that growing your own food is one of the most revolutionary things you can do, so why not let’s all do it together?

The first week in October is the ideal time to plant garlic so that you get lovely big bulbs in spring apparently. I’m going to do it one week early so that everyone has time to get the stuff they need to get this going.

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Stuff you will need:

An upcycled container. (I have used an old Ronseal container I found laying around.)

Compost. (Homemade is ideal, but if you’re just starting out like me, go and buy some.)

10 garlic bulbs. (Some guides say you need to buy these specially and can’t use the ones from supermarkets because they have been treated. I say, let’s try the cheap way and use the supermarket ones and see what happens. A lot of other people have had success with this.)

Method:

Wash out your container and fill it with compost.

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Now get your bulbs with flat bit facing down and cover with soil.

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This tub can be left outside, but don’t let it get too covered in frost and snow in the winter. I’m going to keep this in a corner to protect it a little bit, but not too much. Hopefully in the spring we’ll see some shoots. Let me know how you all get on and take some pictures! πŸ™‚

Cheats Cheesy Pizza

Who doesn’t like cheating at cooking once in a while? Sometimes you’re just too busy to make things from scratch or you just fancy something different right? Well the other day when I was shopping in Morrisons I felt exactly like that and then I found this:

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It was in the fresh pasta section, but I decided to look anyway and low and behold, the damn thing is vegan! Instantly pizza came to mind because it would involve minimal work and I could just throw it in the oven for 15 minutes with a few toppings on top.

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I added aubergine, mushrooms, tomatoes, chilli peppers and fresh cherry tomatoes as well as a whole block of grated Cheezley vegan cheese. After 15 minutes and a few Italian herbs this is what it came out like:

 

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It went down beautifully with some homemade potato wedges and a green salad.

Being vegan can be really easy. If you want to learn more about veganism, check out http://www.vegankit.com

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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Vegan Pepperoni Pizza Muffins

I got the idea for these bad bois from a random internet meme. I saw them and instantly thought, “this needs to be vegan!” Here’s the easy peasy veganised version for your taste buds pleasure! πŸ™‚

Ingredients:

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Method:

Get the oven on at full whack!

Now cut circles from one of your wholemeal wraps to make a base. If you have pastry cutters that would be great, I don’t. I used the bottom of a tin which just happened to be the exact right size.

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Now place the bases in a muffin tin and place about a teaspoon of tomato puree in each.

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Fill each tin with the pre-grated Toffuti Mozzarella and VBites pepperoni style slices. (Chopped.)

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Then place them in the oven for 15 minutes before checking them. The cheese should be nice and melted by this point and you just need to brown off the top for another 5 minutes. Once cooked serve with a nice fresh salad.

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These are perfect for parties because you can literally eat them in a couple of bites, but the flavour is still really intense.

 

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If you’re not vegan already, please consider going vegan. It’s the least you can do for the animals, for your health and for the environment.

Find out more at:

http://www.vegankit.com

http://www.whyveganism.com

Emz X

 

International Vegan Pizza Day 2014

I’ll tell you what; I’ve never eaten so much pizza in my entire life. I did use some cheeky little cheats to make it not only quicker, but cheaper too. πŸ˜‰

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I made:

Pepperoni pizza muffins out of a wholewheat tortilla, pre-grated Toffuti cheese and VBites pepperoni style pieces. (Recipe coming for this soon.)

An Italian style spicy sausage (which was just a thinly sliced Linda McCartney sausage lightly fried in paprika and chilli flakes), artichoke and mushroom strong “cheddar” thin crust pizza, using JustRoll pre-rolled dough and pizza sauce.

A herby smoked cheese stuffed dough ball.

A standard thick crusted, thin based vegetable pizza with Tesco’s own brand smoked cheese.

 

Firstly I never want to see another pizza again πŸ˜‰ , secondly I refuse to believe you can’t go vegan because “OMG what would I do without pizza” and thirdly and finally after not having cheese on a pizza for so long, I’ve found I actually prefer it that way. It’s fresher and you can taste all of the toppings instead of just cheese. It was however a nice treat and definitely wait until next year before I indulge that much again.

What did you do for Vegan Pizza day?

 

Pasta Alfredo & Kale Pesto

Having a lovely creamy pasta with a salty flavoursome pesto on it, is something I’ve not had since I’ve been vegan, which is almost 9 years now. I decided to mess around with some ingredients and I came up with this:

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Because the sauce is made from butter beans instead of cheese, it’s really filling. That protein certainly packs a punch! *flexes muscles* Kale is also a superfood and you should eat it every day, raw if possible.

Ingredients:

Pasta – I used Penne.

Alfredo Sauce

  • Vegan butter such as Vitalite.
  • 4 cloves of garlic.
  • Sea salt.
  • Black pepper.
  • 2 cans of butter beans, drained.
  • 1 vegetable stock cube, undissolved.
  • Water as required from pasta.

Kale Pesto

  • A large handful of curly kale.
  • A large handful of raw walnuts.
  • Sea salt.
  • Rapeseed oil.

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It’s best to start with the kale pesto so that it has time for all the flavours to infuse. Place the kale, walnuts and a sprinkle of sea salt into a food processor pulse blending whilst adding drops of rapeseed oil to gain the required consistency as pictured above.

Scrape out the pesto into a spare bowl and clean the food processor of all pesto flavours. You’ll need it for the next bit.

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Get your pasta on to cook as per the packet instructions, drain and place to one side. (Try and keep at least a small glass of that beautiful starchy water. It will thicken your sauce.)

Chop and peel the garlic and fry gently in about two large tablespoons of Vitalite for 3 to 4 minutes. Once complete, pour the entire contents of the pan into the food processor. (Tip, keep tasting it to make sure it’s to your liking. My first batch was waaaaaay too salty.)

Now add the rest of the ingredients for the sauce and blend until you get a nice thick consistency. Place this sauce in the pan you fried the garlic in and spread out.

Now place the pasta in the pan and mix through. The pasta will start to absorb the sauce and reheat, however if it’s still too cold for your liking switch on the pan for a couple of minutes to heat through.

Season with some extra black pepper and the kale pesto.

This amount will feed four adults, easily. You’ll also have tons of pesto left over that will keep for up to week in the fridge.

 

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Love and light! πŸ™‚