Violife Vegan Cheese

Well hello cheddar cheese that is not cheese but is cheese.

I think I may be a little late to the party with this one but hey, better late than never. I discovered this cheese when I was watching a Youtube video and just became really curious as the Youtubers were discussing different types of vegan cheese, this was the one that they liked the most; they practically ate the whole thing (definitely something I’d do).

At the weekend I ventured to my local supermarket and came across it in the free from aisle and thought I’d give it a go. I have had vegan cheese in restaurants before but as part of a dish. I hadn’t actively bought it or tried to make my own at home – yet. As cheese goes, this was pretty damn good. It smells like cheddar cheese and the texture is pretty accurate. As for the flavour, it’s almost got this nuttiness about it (even though it has no nuts in it) which I really liked; it’s not as creamy as the standard cheddar cheese and the flavour doesn’t linger as much but this doesn’t make me like it any less.

All in all this is quite a good alternative to cheddar cheese, it definitely gets my vote and will be a product that I will purchase again.

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Aubergine and Chickpea Stew

Tired from a long day at work and want a quick but delicious dish that’s healthy and meat-free? This tomato and aubergine stew brings juiciness and crunchiness together with a special cameo of our tinned friends, chickpeas. I’ve kept this version a little less spicy but if you fancy more of a kick, add more harissa paste.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized aubergine, chopped into chunks
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp harissa paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 200ml water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Splash of lemon juice

Method:

  1. In a pan, pour in the olive oil and add the aubergine and fry for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, on a medium heat until the vegetable has browned and lightly softened.
  2. Add the shallot and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the cumin, dried coriander and a sprinkling of salt and pepper; give it a quick stir.
  4. Put in the chickpeas, harissa and tomatoes and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato puree and pour the water into the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes.
  6. Squeeze in a splash of lemon and season again with salt. Leave to cook for a further 5 minutes or until the water has reduced.

Best served hot.

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Banana and Coconut Crumble

During the lockdown period everyone has gone to town on making banana bread. Now, don’t get me wrong, banana bread is good but I wanted to mix things up a bit and made my own little twist to a classic dessert. So here we are, another way to make use of those extra bananas; I hope you all enjoy.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 dessert spoon of coconut flakes
  • 70g self-raising flour
  • 42g butter
  • 30g light brown sugar
  • 2tsp maple syrup

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5.
  2. Roughly slice the bananas, layer and spread across a baking dish.
  3. Put the coconut milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and maple syrup in a bowl and give it a good mix.
  4. In a separate bowl but the flour and butter together and rub to make a crumble.
  5. Then add the sugar and the coconut flakes and mix together with your hands.
  6. Pour over the coconut milk mixture over the bananas.
  7. Evenly scatter the crumble over the bananas and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown.

Best served hot. Delicious on its own or with a serving of single cream or ice cream.

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Le Val. Kingston.

I can’t even put into words the sheer excitement I had to dine at Le Val. I flipping love the food there and recommend it every time. I have been going to this restaurant for many years now and has always been at the top of my list of restaurants to go to when I venture to Kingston.

As the lockdown rules have eased I had the chance to meet up with a friend of mine who recently moved to London. I have ranted and raved about this restaurant since they moved and when we decided to meet we thought it would be about time to dine there; wahoo!!!

Le Val has quite an extensive menu offering a selection of Lebanese dishes from cold and hot mezze to main courses, to express lunch options. I have tried a fair few things on their menu, just to put it out there, their houmous is the one!!! SO damn good. Anyways, my go to meal is the chicken shawarma wrap, which consists of chicken, salad, pickle and a garlicky dressing all wrapped up in a flat bread. This normally comes with a portion of chips and a soft drink of your choice at an incredibly affordable price. They also bring you a whipped garlic mayo and a chilli sauce, which when added to the wrap just makes a whole other party in your mouth come to life; it’s also so good to dip your chips into. I’ve only just had this meal and I am already ready for another round of this quality yumminess!!

I was one happy lady at the end of my meal and was so glad to go there after all the things that have been going on.

Fantastic meal, fantastic company, a fantastic day!

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Lamb and Pea Stew

I remember when I went to university and left London, I had a chat with my mum about her food and some of her recipes; just so that I could have some of those home comforts when I was away. This dish was one of the recipes that I wanted, little did I know that it was SO easy to make and only consists of 6 components. I’m sorry but I won’t be sharing this recipe with you guys, it belongs to my mum- she’s the boss.

Yesterday I decided that I would make it for lunch today, only it was the first time (after all those years) that I would be making it for my parents too! Such a simple, no stress recipe and yet I was nervous as ever!
Fortunately it seemed to have gone down a treat, admittedly I thought it tasted quite nice but not as good as mum’s; I find that that will forever be the case with home cooked food.

This along with several other dishes resonates with my childhood; amazing flavour and so simple. Just reminds you that the nicest meals you can have do not have to be so complex.

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Chunky Chicken and Vegetable Soup

A scrumptiously creamy chicken and vegetable soup, full of nutrients and flavour. I absolutely love the colour of this dish, the small amount of saffron used really punches up the flavour and complements the coconut milk and curry powder beautifully.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 chilli, chopped and deseeded
  • 1 sweet pepper, cut into chunks
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 diced chicken breasts
  • 1 can (400ml) coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 flat tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Method:

  1. In a pan, fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft.
  2. On a medium-low heat add the pepper and chilli and fry for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the chicken, curry powder, paprika, coriander and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the carrot and potato and give it a mix.
  5. Spinkle on the saffron, pour in the chicken stock and the coconut milk and mix well.
  6. Leave to simmer on low for 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Best served hot.

 

My First Bundt Cake!

I’ve never really had a massive sweet tooth, I am definitely a more savoury kind of girl; as I’m sure you’ve seen from my recipes they are more focused on more ‘main meals’ rather than sweets and desserts. To be honest, I don’t think I am very good at the whole ‘baking thing’, but hey, I do actually quite enjoy it and am willing to give it a go.

I was gifted a bundt tin a while ago now and hadn’t got round to using it. Of course, during this weird lockdown time I thought I’d do some experimenting and give it a whirl. For my first bundt cake bake I was quite proud of myself, it turned out better than I thought it would. I attempted to make a spiced bundt cake that consisted of ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg-  delish, I know. There is definitely room for improvement though, I found that the spices were not as prominent as I’d’ve liked, the texture was soft but not as light (hence the icing to give it some added moisture) and the mixture rose a lot more than I thought it would; perhaps too much cake mix or baking powder. Considering the tin I have is smaller than the ‘standard’ sized bundt tins, the end result was bigger than I expected.

Now that I have given it a go I am slightly more confident to try again and to also try other bakes.

Hope you’re having a lovely friday 🙂

Carla x

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Vegan Chilli

One of the things I love about this recipe is that it is so versatile. You can mix up the bean and vegetable content; ideal if you have some leftover ingredients that need using up. A meat-free, hearty comfort food; perfect with rice.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 sweet pepper, chopped into small chunks
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 large cup mushrooms, slice into chunks
  • 100ml water
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2tsp ground allspice
  • 1tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  •  1/2 tsp cumin
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1tsp sugar (optional)

Method

  1. In a pan, put the olive oil, onion and garlic and fry on a medium heat until soft and lightly browned.
  2. Then add the carrot, sweet pepper, mushrooms and fry together for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the allspice, paprika, cayenne, oregano, a sprinkling of pepper and the beans and continue to cook and stir occasionally for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and the juice and the water. Stir and leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes. If the chilli is quite dense in flavour then add the sugar to balance the flavour.

Best served hot.

 

 

 

Lemon and Herb Chicken

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 2 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1tsp garlic granules
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • Salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 100ml white wine
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp butter

Method

  1. In a bowl put the chicken, grate the zest of the lemon, oregano, garlic granules, pepper, a sprinkling of salt and mix. Then add a heaped tablespoon of plain flour and mix again. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a frying pan and fry the chicken on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, flipping occasionally until the meat has browned.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pan.
  4. Add the fresh garlic, sage, thyme, butter, wine and the juice of half a lemon and leave to cook for 2-3 minutes on medium-low heat.
  5. Put the chicken back in the pan and cover. Simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Flip the chicken every now and then and add a splash of water if the sauce looks too dry.

Best served hot and with some roast potatoes and salad.

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