Lunch at The Green Rocket Cafe in Bath

One of my favourite pastimes is eating out at vegetarian & vegan establishments whenever I come across them on my travels. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to spend the day in beautiful Bath, with some of my best friends.

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Carla and I decided to have lunch at The Green Rocket Cafe, on Pierrepoint Street. I’d passed it before and stopped for a sandwich, but on this occasion we decided to have a proper lunch – and weren’t disappointed. My mezze platter featured wonderful baba ganoush and beetroot dips, quinoa tabouleh, falafel, soft flat bread and a wonderfully dressed spiral carrot salad. Carla enjoyed a super roasted cauliflower dahl, with the most incredible homemade pesto on the side!

I only wished we’d had time to sample some of the homemade vegan cakes they had on offer.

Really friendly staff, great setting and mouth-watering food. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the historic city (a trip to Bath Spa is also highly recommended).

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Raw Vegetable Power Salad

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While I’m awaiting delivery of a new juicer, I was craving a raw energy boost from some green vegetables. It’s a good job raw broccoli is packed with vitamins the amount I’ve been eating lately!

This salad was no exception. Plus, with the news today that we should all be eating seven portions of fruit and veg a day - this salad totally hits the spot, with five! Tahini is also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin B1 and zinc.

Raw Power Salad

Serves 1

1 handful chopped kale,
1 handful rocket
1 carrot, grated
1 handful broccoli florets
1 handful sugarsnap peas
1 handful cashew pieces

Dressing
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp soya sauce
1 tbsp olive oil or flaxseed oil

1. Mix all salad ingredients together in a serving bowl. For the dressing, whisk the ingredients together with a fork.
2. To serve, drizzle the dressing over the salad and top with a little sweet chilli sauce and hummus.

Wheat and Gluten Free Mini Pikelets with added Omega

Recently I fancied making some little bite sized snacks suitable for a lazy sunny Sunday morning. I’ve been experimenting with rice flour and recalled having little rice flour pancakes years ago. I thought I’d try making some little pikelets and add some ground flaxseed for an added nutritional boost. I served them with agave nectar and they were crispy and tasty. The great thing about these pikelets is that they are wheat and gluten-free, vegan and contain good omega fats from the flaxseeds.

Rice Pikelets
Wheat and Gluten-free Mini Pikelets with added Omega
Makes around 12
Preparation/cooking time 15 mins

1 cup rice flour
1 cup almond or other plant milk
1 tsp ground flaxseed
Pinch of salt

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and beat with a small hand whisk. The batter won’t be smooth but don’t worry.
2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and spoon in tablespoons of batter. Smooth them out into little rounds and cook them on one side until they are golden and crispy, before turning and cooking the other side.
3. Serve drizzled with agave nectar.

A New Venture

Hello faithful blog followers.
I thought I’d write and let you all know I’ve been busy working on a new venture (hence I haven’t been writing many recipes recently). I’ve just completed my training as a Yoga Teacher in Wales. I’ve started a new business called Womankind Yoga Wales and next month I’ll be starting my own yoga class at a dance studio in Swansea. If any of you fancy a look, my new website is www.womankindyoga.com. There is also a blog on there which I’ll be posting yoga related articles on.
With best wishes to you all,
Helen.

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Another Project Completed!

lotsofnicethings:

This is amazing! Hannah has made these beautiful crochet leg warmers from my free crochet pattern and blogged about it! Thank you Handmade by Hannah!

Originally posted on Handmade by Hannah:

This one has been on a back burner for the last few weeks while I have been ill. The first leg warmer seemed to take me forever to complete, but one evening last week I fancied making a start on the second one, and it only took me a few hours! Why does that happen? Usually it is the second one that takes forever though, so I suppose it was a nice surprise for the second one to be quicker for a change. And it gets something else crossed off my list after a pretty unproductive month!

Legwarmers

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Soda Bread, the Perfect Quick Breakfast

Soda Farls
Vegan Soda Farls

Serves 4
Preparation/cooking time 20 mins

Ingredients
250g plain flour, plus more for kneading
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
250ml almond, soya or coconut milk

  1. Preheat heavy based frying pan on medium to low heat.Place flour and salt in a bowl and sift in bicarbonate of soda. Make a well in the centre and pour in the plant milk.
  2. Work quickly to mix into a dough and knead very lightly on a well floured surface. Form into a flattened circle, about 1cm thick and cut into quarters with a floured knife.
  3. Sprinkle a little flour over the base of the hot pan and place each quarter into the hot pan, one at a time, until the 4 quarters create a complete circle. Cook the farls for 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. You may have to cut through the centre cross to turn them over.
  4. Take the pan off the heat and allow the farls to cool in the pan for 10 or 15 minutes.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes UK.

Soft Coconut Milk Loaf

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Recently we’ve been enjoying really soft bread. Sainsburys sell a soft batch loaf and it left me wondering what do you need to do to make really soft bread? It seems the answer is adding some sort of milk and making a very wet dough. My loaf used coconut milk, but I’m sure almond or soya milk would work well too . Based on a recipe by Dan Lepard, for The Guardian, it makes a wonderful soft and light bread perfect for toast or sandwiches.

Soft Coconut Milk Loaf
Rising & baking time 2 hrs

375ml coconut milk
100ml cold water
2 tsp fast-action yeast
75g vegan margarine, plus extra for greasing the tin
625g strong white flour
25g caster sugar
Scant 2 tsp salt
Oil for kneading

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1. Boil the milk, then tip into a bowl and leave to cool, stirring in the cold water to bring down the temperature. When it is gently warm, beat in the yeast and leave for five minutes to dissolve.
2. Melt the margarine.
3. Put the flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Pour in the milk & yeast, followed by the margarine.

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4. Work everything to a rough but evenly mixed dough with a wooden spoon. I now added 1 tsp of water to make quite a wet dough.

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5. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave for 10 minutes, then lightly oil a patch of worktop and knead the dough for 10 seconds. Return to the bowl and leave to rise for an hour.
6. Grease the inside of a large loaf tin and shape the dough into two balls and in the tin.

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7. Leave to rise by half, flour the top, cut a slash down the middle and bake at 180C/gas mark 4 for 50 minutes. Remove from the tin as soon as it’s baked and leave to cool.

Softloaf

World Food Cafe Vegetarian Bible Book Review

World Food Cafe Dahl
Whenever I was in London, I’d always make eating out at at one of the amazing selection of veggie and vegan restaurants a priority. This often involved a visit to the famous World Food Cafe, based in Covent Garden for twenty years.

So I was delighted to recipe a copy of the World Food Cafe Vegetarian Bible through the post for review. Published this month (RRP £20) it collects together over 200 dishes, including 130 suitable for vegans. Recipes gleaned over two decades of globetrotting are tried and tested to be easy to make at home, by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott.

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Every recipe tells a story, through beautiful landscape photography and anecdotes of how the dish was discovered and how they have served it in the restaurant. From India, to North Africa & Arabia, South East Asia and Central America, there are many dishes you won’t have heard of or may have only been lucky enough to encounter once  in specialized restaurants themselves in large cities.

This is a book for people who love vegetarian cookery and exploring new colour and flavour combinations. If you have a healthy spice cupboard you will have a good basis for many recipes. It’s what I call a ‘daydreaming cookbook’, amongst those kept by the coffee table to look through of an evening, then pick a recipe to try on a Saturday night or if you have guests for dinner.

Many of the recipes involve a generous list of ingredients, some requiring access to a good Asian supermarket.

What better way to try out the Vegetarian Bible, than to make a dhal from it. Every region in India and individual it seems has their own way of making dhal (and spelling it). This one was different from my method, yet totally delicious; packed full of warmth, flavour and comfort. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly.

Channa Dhal
Inspired by the World Food Cafe Vegetarian Bible

8oz/225g channa dhal
3 pints water
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsps ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
6 green chillies, slit down the side (use small ones, I used half this quantity)
2 tsp brown sugar
Salt to taste
2 tbsp vegan margarine
4 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 tbsp raisins, soaked in water for 90 mins then drained
4 bay leaves
1 tsp garam masala

Place channa dhal in a saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Remove any foam that rises to the surface. Add the turmeric and chilli powder, cover the pan and gently simmer until the dhal is soft. Mash dhal with a potato masher to break it up a little. Combine the coriander, cumin and garam masala with a little water until a paste forms, and add to the dhal along with the green chillies, sugar and salt to taste. Continue cooking for a further 5 mins. Heat the margarine in a small frying pan. When hot, add the coconut and raisins and fry until golden. Add the bay leaves and garam masala, fry for 1 min and pour on to the dhal. Serve with rice.

Best Veggie Blog Award from Vegetarian Living magazine

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I was delighted to learn that Lots of Nice Things has been named as one of the Top Ten Best Veggie Blogs for 2014, by Vegetarian Living Magazine.

The February issue, which went on sale today (January 23), features an interview with me about this blog, complete with pictures of my most popular recipe Spicy Chickpea and Cauliflower Patties with Spring Onion Chapatis, our vegan Christmas dinner and my little son Iolo and I.

So welcome to Lots of Nice Things if this is your first visit. I hope you’ll enjoy my pictures and recipes and get inspired to get creative in your kitchen. You can follow the blog to get posts straight to your inbox and like it on Facebook.

To come this month (when I get a spare minute!), a review of the World Food Cafe’s new Vegetarian Bible, a recipe for Sweet Chilli Sauce and information on the published cook book from Yoga Satsanga Ashram which I’ve posted previous recipes from. Other news, I’m eagerly waiting a publishing date for The Viva! Cookbook which I did the photography for during a massive three-year project and I’m due to qualify as a yoga teacher in March.

Go to Bristol to enjoy the very best Vegan Pizza

Amazing vegan pizza

Amazing vegan pizza

I used to have the pleasure of living in the vegan food heaven that is Bristol. A couple of years ago an Italian fast food restaurant opened on Bond Street, called Pepe Nero. The food looked amazing, but as a vegan, I got chatting to owner, Salvatore Persano and asked for my pizza to be served without the cheese.

And that’s where it all began…now Pepe Nero boast a magnificent vegan menu, serving the very best and totally delicious vegan pizzas, garlic bread, pasta dishes and sweets.

Last Saturday, I revisited and couldn’t believe my eyes how many veggie and vegan options they have on the menu.

Pepe Nero use a combination of vegan cheese and meat alternatives with fresh vegetables to create a range of lovely toppings. They include: margherita, spinach, sausage and mushroom, vegan tofu, bacon style and ham & pineapple. I had the very best – Vegan Fest (pictured). This includes mozzarella style cheese, tomato,  aubergines, courgettes, peppers, rashers, cheating ham, onion and olives. They even do vegan garlic bread with ‘cheese’, vegan lasagna, vegan cannelloni and panini options.

Almond milk is available for coffees and they also sell vegan cakes!

So if you’re vegan and going anywhere near Bristol, you must give Pepe Nero a visit, they really are setting a fabulous example of how to cater for every diet. The menu is available on their Facebook page.

PS Apologies for the publishing last night of an incomplete post (Vegetable Thoran recipe). That will teach me to try and post from a smart phone.