Perfect porridge

Porridge

Porridge

On those cold, clear autumn mornings, you can’t beat a bowl of porridge. It’s so warming and comforting, yet so simple to make. Here’s a tried and tested recipe with a few suggestions for toppings.

Preparation time: 2 mins

Cooking time: 5 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 2 cups of milk (use part water for a less creamy texture)

Method:

  1. Put the oats into a large saucepan.
  2. Pour the milk (and water) over the oats and stir well.
  3. Bring to the boil, stirring to make sure the oats don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Simmer for five minutes until thickened.
  5. Pour into bowls to serve and add the topping of your choice.

Why not try some of the following toppings: brown sugar, banana and cinnamon, honey and yoghurt, maple syrup, a handful of dried fruit (sultanas, apricots, cranberries), or fresh fruit (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries). Get creative!

If you have any other favourites, please feel free to share them below.

Photo: Elana’s Pantry

Advertisements

Kale chips

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ve tried all kinds of weird and wonderful crisps in my time. I’m certainly a fan of the colourful and earthy beetroot, parsnip and carrot variety, but I must admit, when I was sent some raw kale chips to review, I was slightly perplexed.

Kale is a form of cabbage, no? You can’t make crisps from cabbage! Well, apparently you can and it turns out they’re pretty tasty. I was sent four different flavours: cheese and purple corn, wasabi wheatgrass, baobab and onion and raw cacao and cinnamon.

At first glance, they didn’t look hugely appetising. They were very dark green in colour and if you’re the kind of person who is put off a meal by the sight of a mound of spinach, then these may not be for you…

Organic

In fairness, it’s difficult to judge any food in its packaging and I can imagine these would look very appealing served alongside a sandwich or a nice salad with some fresh, crusty bread.

While we’re discussing looks, the chips were well packaged in brightly coloured and fully recyclable eco-packing, which clearly states that the product is suitable for a whole range special of dietary requirements, as it does not contain any dairy, wheat, soya or sugar.

Looks aside, the cheese and purple corn chips (which won the 2012 Free From Food Awards) smelt delicious. They did not have the usual greasy and oily texture of crisps, but instead, were light, delicate and crispy, with a strong taste of mature cheese.

Healthy

Instead of being fried, the chips are dried and dehydrated, which means they’re much healthier than normal crisps. The manufacturer also prides itself on steering clear of all additives, preservatives, MSG and GM ingredients, instead favouring organic alternatives.

The unusual wasabi wheatgrass flavour was nutty and peppery, with a spicy aftertaste, while the equally curious baobab and onion flavour had a pungent, salty aroma and a rich, earthy flavour.

The raw cacao and cinnamon flavour was more of an acquired taste, as my taste buds were confused by the sweet, sugary taste of what otherwise appeared to be a savoury product.

Light and crispy

Overall, I wouldn’t view kale chips as an alternative to traditional crisps, I would see them as something distinct and different. If you took a packet along to a house party, you might get some funny looks, but they are definitely worth a try and I will certainly be popping into the inSpiral café next time I’m in Camden.

A 35g pack of kale chips costs £3.45, while a large 80g pack is priced at £5.95. For more information, visit the inSpiral Visionary Products website.

Photos: InSpiral

Red lentil and aubergine mousakka

Vegetarian mousakka

Vegetarian mousakka

After a delicious meal at Ezo’s Turkish Restaurant last weekend, I decided to have a go at making mousakka myself. This new take on the classic recipe uses red lentils and aubergines. In total, it takes about an hour, but it’s well worth it!

Preparation time: 30 mins

Cooking time: 30 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 1 aubergine, sliced into thin circles
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 100g red lentils, cooked according to packet instructions
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  •  Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:

  • 125g ricotta
  • 125g Greek yoghurt
  • 3 eggs
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 50g freshly grated parmesan

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Toss the aubergine slices in olive oil, then drain and season to taste.
  3. Fry the aubergine slices until golden-brown on both sides.
  4. Add the onion, pepper and garlic to the pan and fry until softened.
  5. Stir in the tomato purée and continue to fry for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and cinnamon stick and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the lentils and fried aubergines to the mixture. Simmer until warmed through.
  8. Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
  9. For the topping, beat together the ricotta, Greek yoghurt, eggs and grated nutmeg in a bowl. Season, to taste.
  10. Pour the topping mixture into the ovenproof dish on top of the filling. Sprinkle over the grated parmesan.
  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the topping is golden-brown. Serve immediately.

Yummy!

Photo: Candice Eisner

Polenta with grilled vegetables

Polenta and grilled vegetables

Polenta and grilled vegetables

This is a brilliantly simple summery dish. Just slice the polenta and vegetables, stick everything under the grill and voila – easy! You can even adapt this recipe to use on the barbecue for those sunny summer evenings.

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of polenta
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 pack of cherry tomatoes
  • A handful of mushrooms
  • A handful of black olives
  • 1 packet of halloumi
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tsps of pesto
  • Fresh basil leaves

Method:

  1. Cut the polenta into slices, so that each slice is about 1cm thick.
  2. Lay the polenta slices on a baking tray, then brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
  3. Put the polenta under the grill on a low heat and grill until it starts to turn golden. Turn the slices over when they start to brown.
  4. While watching the polenta, cut the vegetables and halloumi into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Toss the vegetables and halloumi in olive oil and season well.
  6. Remove the polenta from the grill and keep warm in the oven.
  7. Spread the vegetables and halloumi on a baking tray and grill until the vegetables have softened.
  8. Mix the tomatoes and pesto in a saucepan over a gentle heat and season well.
  9. Lay the warm polenta slices on to plates and arrange the vegetables and halloumi over the top.
  10. Finish by spooning over the tomato and pesto sauce and garnish with the basil leaves.

Lovely with a chilled glass of rosé…

Photo: Harald Walker

Launch of Cardiff food charter

Cardiff food charter

Cardiff food charter

A Cardiff Food Charter was launched at a Sustainable Food City conference event at Cardiff University last week.

The charter aims to promote a diverse and sustainable food culture in the city and get more people buying local Welsh produce. It also hopes to provide a framework for access to healthy, environmentally friendly food, as well as building a strong local economy.

The charter’s development has been inspired by the success of similar food charters in other parts of the UK, such as Plymouth and Bristol. It has also taken inspiration from overseas projects, such as the Cowichan Food Charter in Canada.

The charter asks people in Cardiff to play their part by cooking more meals from scratch, wasting as little as possible and buying food from independent retailers. It also encourages businesses to serve healthy and sustainable food to their employees, to buy more local food and to encourage staff to grow, cook and eat fresh food together.

During the launch event, there were presentations and workshops from a wide variety of people including local food activists, action groups, academics, food businesses and government representatives.

The next stage will be to identify funding to set up a Cardiff Food Policy Council which will encourage more businesses, institutions and individuals to sign up to the Food Charter and to oversee Cardiff’s future development as a Sustainable Food City.

Video: Cowichan Green

News in brief

Coffee cup

Coffee cup

Keeping you up-to-date with this week’s most important vegetarian news stories…

Call yourself a vegetarian?

With the recent revelation that international coffee giant Starbucks adds crushed bugs to their strawberry frappuchinos and other food retailers admitting they fry potatoes in pork grease, how can you be sure if you are really eating vegetarian? Read full story.

Adele goes veggie

Singer Adele has lost more than a stone since switching to a vegetarian diet. During an interview for Radio 1, she told the presenter that she was trying to lead a more healthy lifestyle by going veggie, but said she wasn’t a fan of tofu. Read full story.

New inspiration for veggie cooks

Feeling low on recipe inspiration? Cookery teacher Liz Nolan has just published My Goodness, a beautifully illustrated collection of tasty and hassle free recipes. “Part of my mantra is how to cook with beans and lentils,” she said. Read full story.

Photo: @Doug88888

Riverside Community Market Association

Vegetable stall at Riverside market

Vegetable stall at Riverside market

Riverside market has, for many, become an integral part of Cardiff life. What better way to spend a Sunday morning than enjoying a leisurely coffee on the Fitzhamon Embankment?

But with recent reports that fruit and vegetable consumption by low-income families has fallen by 30 per cent, how is the Riverside Community Market Association (RCMA) coping with current financial and commercial pressures?

Preconceptions

Gareth Simpson, Enterprise Development Manager for the RCMA, said: “People have a lot of preconceptions about our markets. Many think it’s beyond their means, but actually, buying fresh produce directly from the traders can be cheaper than going to a supermarket.”

He added: “It’s never been about trying to get people to do their weekly shop at the market, but if more people thought about buying some of their fruit and vegetables from our stall holders on a regular basis, it would make a whole world of difference.”

Social enterprise

Although Gareth has only been working for the RCMA since last May, the social enterprise has been running since 1998, when the Riverside Real Food Market was first launched. Since then, the project has expanded, and now runs farmers’ markets in Llandaff North, Rhiwbina and Roath, as well as co-ordinating the Riverside community allotment and a variety of outreach projects.

Gareth said: “The aim is to bring the countryside to the city. Many people have never had the chance to grow their own vegetables and we are trying to spread the message of growing in a fun way. The community allotment allows people to get their hands in the mud and really get involved.”

Weather dependent

However, as with all outdoor events, the markets are highly weather dependent.  Gareth said: “Footfall suffers in the driving rain.” At present, there is little shelter at the market, but he is hoping to introduce a covered area for live music.

“I always try to create a buzz at the markets,” he said. “It’s not about just filling your shopping bag, it’s very much a social event.” Recently, Gareth created a buskers’ corner at Riverside Market, which gives local musicians the chance to show off their talent and entertain the crowd.

Innovative

The RCMA also tries to bring a wide variety of products to the markets. Gareth said: “We avoid putting similar stalls together, so new products have to be quite innovative. We don’t like to turn people away, but sometime we have to. A little competition can be a good thing.”

Two new stalls have recently joined the Riverside market. Greens of Glastonbury is a traditional farmhouse cheesemaker, while cnwd is based near Carmarthen and produces patés and terrines.

For more information, visit the RCMA website.