Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Courgette Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

There are sometimes days when I just crave vegetables. There doesn't seem to be a clear pattern to this of any sort, given that it can occur just as strongly whether I've been eating fruit+vegfully for days or eating through a pack of Choices caramel chocolate (mmm). Suddenly I feel the urge to just chomp my way through a pile of greenery with no sauces or dressings or cooking or anything. No frills (no skills), just cold plain raw vegetables. Chomp.

You'll be pleased to know that this recipe does not just consist of vegetables and nothing else - to accompany meals such as the above, I've devised a very quick far Eastern-inspired sauce, which is insanely delicious - the spice kind of counteracts the "coldness," of the salad, too, which I love. Contrast and that.

As anyone who eats anything raw knows, this meal is pretty hefty chompwork. It will leave you feeling full and sated (if you're of a similar size and weight to me) but doesn't actually contain many calories, so don't be surprised if you need to snack soon after - or if you're well-accustomed to eating raw, increase the portion as required;)

Things are mega busy right now so this may be the last post from me for a while! Got a tonne of recipes to share though, and perhaps a certain upcoming event to promote too:D Stay tuned ~

Courgette Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

by Shonalika Tilak
Cook Time: 15-20 mins
    For Salad
    • 1 courgette/zucchini
    • 1 tomato
    • 1 cooked beetroot
    • 1 spring onion/scallion
    For Sauce
    • 1 tbsp peanut butter
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 3 tbsp milk (for thicker sauce, use soy - other milks tend to be thinner, so adjust other ingredients accordingly)
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder
    1. Mix sauce ingredients with a fork. (You can use a blender, but its not necessary.)
    2. Use a vegetable peeler/spiralizer on the courgette/zucchini, chop other veg and mix together.
    3. Use the sauce for pouring or dipping. Enjoy!


    You can vary up the veg quite a bit - another one of my favourite pairings with this sauce is to use carrot ribbons and chopped silken tofu in place of the beetroot and onion. Mmmhmm.

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    Wednesday, 4 February 2015

    Birthday Time!

    So it was my birthday yesterday, and I've had a rather fabulous pre-birthday weekend with the mum and sis in Edinburgh before coming back down to celebrate my actual birthday down here. Apologies for yet more shoddy photography - we just wanted to nosedive into this thing.

    After dithering over a few options, as usual, chocolate won out, and we made this: a new version of an older recipe on the blog, my Chocolate Banana-Beetroot Cake. As I'd said I would on the original post, this time around I changed it up a bit to see if I could bring out the banana/beetroot flavours more. This version is sweeter, denser, richer, and much more "fruity" tasting - it has a really chewy, squodgy texture that makes it fantastic to eat warm with vanilla ice-cream! (As we did, not pictured.)

    I personally much prefer this version to the original, probably because its not that traditionally cake-like at all, and I'm really not that much of a traditional cake person. Its almost more like one of those malt loaf squishy things, but more indulgent and dessert-worthy... Go for it if, like me, you tend to prefer your cakes very dense and flavoursome as opposed to light and airy:)

    And don't ask about the lingering Christmas candles in the background, my family are mad. 

    Chocolate (Beetroot-Banana) Cake V 2

    by Shonalika Tilak
    Cook Time: 1 hr
    Ingredients (1 loaf)
    • 1/2 cup flour (I used spelt)
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 med beet
    • 1 large banana
    • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used sweetened soya)
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 tsp vinegar
    • 1/4 cup golden sultanas
    • 50g (1/4 cup, roughly) Choc chips
    1. Combine dry ingredients (first 6) in a large bowl and mix very well.
    2. Slice beets and bananas and add to blender along with wet ingredients. Blend until smooth.
    3. Pour wet into dry and whisk until smooth.
    4. Stir in sultanas and chocolate and pour into greasted baking dish of choice.
    5. Bake in oven pre-heated to 180C. Mine took about 1hr 10 minutes to cook right the way through - be patient with it. As usual, its done when a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
    6. Let cool for at least half an hour before trying to remove.


    For the icing, I used this frosting by CCK - great for using up leftover coconut milk and takes all of about five seconds to make. I'm not ashamed to say I ate all of the leftover icing straight-up. On the same day:D
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    Monday, 26 January 2015

    Spicy (Or Not) Courgette + Spinach Soup


    Let's just get that out the way quickly shall we:D

    I ask those of you who have tried my recipes thus far to trust me that it tastes like delicious. And those who have not tried my recipes to trust those who have tried my recipes that it tastes like delicious. Not monster bogies.



    Lol why am I putting up more photos? It's like I think I can save the last crap photo with an even crappier photo. Here guys, look more bogies soup from a different angle so you can really get that nice snotty snotty dark green colour snotty snotty

    Seriously, I don't know how you lot who are studying/working/having a life and food blogging at the same time manage. I'm usually so hungry in between intense practice and studying that even if I find the time to make wonderful blog-worthy recipes for myself, I can't bring myself to set up the stage and contort myself into weird positions in an attempt to take a photo without getting my shadow on the food or to mess around with the ruddy aperture and focal whatjamecallit and get the angle right and make it not look crap and all this while the steam is rising from the delicious soup signifying that my lunch is GOING COLD.

    Usually I don't even try to take photos. I have no self-control. Just study and slurp.

    At least this is evidence that I ATE it, right?

    I think this is the least professional post I've ever done?! I blame that new £4 cake and coffee deal at my favourite cafe. Caffeine. Sugar. Study. So much study. So much yum. So much headache.

    Anyway, this soup is amazing delicious, I've made it twice and tastes good so on etc, make it, take nicer photos of it and put it on your blog, feed it to your dog, throw it at your children, I don't care.

    FoodGawker award methinks for me woohoo soup.

    Spicy (Or Not) Courgette and Spinach Soup

    by Shonalika Tilak
    Cook Time: 1 hr
    Ingredients (2 large servings)
    • 1 medium courgette/zucchini
    • 1 medium sweet potato
    • Scant 1/2  bag spinach
    • 1 ½ cups vegetable stock
    • ½ tbsp coconut oil
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tsp turmeric
    • 1 tsp cumin powder
    • ½ - 1 tsp paprika
    • ½ tsp chili powder, or more
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C and bung the sweet potato in. After about half an hour, start on step 2:
    2. Heat the coconut oil in a pan. Chop and add the courgette. After a few minutes, chop and add the spinach along with the spices, soy sauce, salt, and pepper.
    3. Remove sweet potato from the oven and scoop flesh from skin. Stir into the pan, then add vegetable stock.
    4. Whip out your immersion blender and whizz. (Or, alternatively, cook for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a food processor/blender, if you like a very smooth soup.)
    5. Continue cooking 5-10 minutes, adjusting seasonings and adding more water as required.
    6. Serve piping hot!
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    Monday, 19 January 2015

    Broccoli Subzi

    Would you believe I used to hate cooking?

    Seriously. I was scared of the cooker.

    And no wonder, given that this was first dish that my well-intentioned mum tried to teach me. Not something plain and placid like a basic stir-fry or an easy dahl, or even a stew, oh no. She started me off with the tarka technique, which means frying the spices before adding in the main ingredients to get them to release the flavour. Which is sometimes problematic anyway due to the increased likelihood of burning the spices. Add the only seeds that leap out of the pan and burn you in the face, and you're onto a winner.

    Needless to say, I spent most of these early lessons cowering under the table saying mum can you just do it and I'll learn to cook later if I absolutely have to.

    And hey ho, I did. They say that your mum's cooking will always taste the best to you, because its what you grow up on: whilst this may not exactly scream "COMFORT FOOD," as a result, that's exactly what it is! The inclusion of dried fruit, apparently a very Maharashtrian thing, creates a delightfully sweet and salty mix of flavours. You can switch up the fruit, nuts, and spices to your heart's content. Throw in some coconut, or one of those pre-mixed nut and fruit bags in there if you want - I know my mum often did! Dishes like these probably very on established my love for savoury-sweet combinations as of today.

    The tarka step is essential - it really does intensify the flavour by 10x. Unless you're hardcore like mother Tilak, just do what I do and cover the pan while the seeds are bursting. (And stand back.)

    I enjoy this dish most with hot buttered pita bread and sweet pickle, as I used to eat it growing up, but it will go nicely with toast and hummus, or as a side to a rice and curry dish - anything really!

    Broccoli Subzi

    by Shonalika Tilak
    Cook Time: 15-20 mins
    Ingredients (Serves 4 as a side)
    • 1 head broccoli, chopped and steamed for 5 minutes
    • handful of nuts (I like to use a mixture of cashews and almonds best)
    • handful of rasins
    • 1 tsp mustard seeds
    • 1/2 tsp
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • Salt, to taste
    1. Heat some oil of choice in a wok. When the oil is piping hot, drop in the mustard seeds, and cover immediately. Wait till most of the seeds have popped, then:
    2. Immediately add all the other ingredients.
    3. Lower the heat to medium and cover for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4. Cook until desired softness is reached.
    5. Adjust seasonings as required, and serve!
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    Thursday, 8 January 2015

    Melt-in-the-mouth Sprouts n' Squash

    Ok ok, so this post has no pictures, thats ridiculous, how can I possibly expect anyone to even look at it, I know. It's especially ridiculous as this recipe is so good that I have in fact made it twice and still not managed to snap it, due to either being too busy or too desperate to stuff the result in my gob.

    You'll just have to trust me.

    I wanted to put it up now rather than putting it on the "waiting for photographs," list (though I will try and snap it next time I make it!) because its so appropriately post-Christmas. You may still have sprouts hanging around or presenting themselves to you on offer in supermarkets. It's a minimim-effort, maximum-deliciousness side dish so you can still eat a little fancily even now that you inevitably have tonnes of work and commitments to burrow through that you let stack up over the holidays.

    Melt-in-the-mouth Sprouts n' Squash

    by Shonalika Tilak
    Cook Time: 45 mins - 1 hour
    Ingredients (Serves 4 as a side)
    • 2 bags sprouts
    • 1 bag cubed butternut squash
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 3-5 garlic cloves
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • Generous chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
    1. Pre-heat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
    2. Trim and halve sprouts, and peel garlic cloves.
    3. Mix all ingredients together and spread out on the tray.
    4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, checking and stirring every now and then.

    Notes: Random fact: This goes amazingly well with VBites cranberry bites, to the extent that I’d throw one into the oven just to pair with the other! Highly recommended:D
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    Friday, 2 January 2015

    Happy New Year! (Featured blogger recipes and plans for 2015!)

    Christmas spread - links to some of of the recipes below!

    Late I know, but better than never, right?

    Been busy (aren't we all at this time of year?) As usual, Christmas was a teensy quiet untraditional affair, just the three of us. My mum and I did the cooking whilst my sister cleared the living room of the present carnage. I used the opportunity to test out some blogger recipes.

    My main dish in the middle was closely inspired by Emma's stuffed peppers recipe - I used all quinoa because my sister can't stand lentils, and I also cooked the quinoa in vegetable broth and generally mucked about with it - its a really versatile, useful recipe. The peppers themselves actually taste really good too, which isn't always the case with stuffed pepper recipes.

    I also provided a side, Natalie's brilliant vegan "pigs in blankets," just to the left of the stuffed peppers in the above picture. I have to admit, I was initially dubious about the success of this recipe because my Christmas Eve mixture was SO wet it was unshapeable (I must have weighed something wrong...) and I had to add a mountain more flour before it was possible to form a rollable, tinfoil-twistable lump. Thankfully I didn't spend forever doing this, since my sister was helping me, and we steamed the lot so they were ready to go straight into the oven the next day. We ended up with basically hundreds, and continued enjoying them for days afterwards. The recipe is quite an involved process but doing it over two days like this speeds things up - and the end result is well worth the effort!

    Oh yes, and I did dessert, which was mainly made for Nikita, a giant version of Dana's mini key lime pies. When I did the exact same thing with their cheesecake recipe earlier last year, it went down so well that Nikita insisted I do basically exactly the same thing for Christmas. No complaints here <3

    New Years Eve was the usual drunken house party banter. Mercifully somebody took the Wii controller from me ten minutes before the bells so I couldn't spend the entire night being an antisocial nerd...

    Looking back on it, 2014 has definitely been a year of massive change - for a start, marking the end of my first complete year as a vegan (I feel like I've been one forever!) Not to mention the starting up of both my blogs. This year, along with keeping these going, I'm planning to use my YouTube channel more, so its more of a vlog-type thing. That'll also make it easier to tie my various interests together without the concern of getting off-topic! I need to make the blogs look better, both with regards to photography and layout... something I've avoided thus far, but it really needs doing.

    As it's my final year of uni, I'm suffering from last-minute-omg-need-to-make-this-year-count syndrome. And I have my big final dissertation to do. And as I'm studying music, that means (finally) releasing an EP. I'm doing it DIY, which is both very challenging and exciting.

    On a closely related note:

    I'm going to be playing at Brighton VegFest! Not on the website just yet, but its confirmed. On the Saturday at 5:00 pm. If you're in the UK, come down and say hi!

    Oh yes. I also made my very first New Year's resolution, which goes by the inspiring name of Take Shorter Showers. Sadly I've already broken it.

    Hope you've all had a wonderful festive season! More recipes as of next week ^^

    Monday, 22 December 2014

    Gingernut Tiffin

    How's your Christmas preparation going? Good? Or are you in a last-minute rush where you'd like to give someone something edible, homemade, and special, but don't have the time to do it?

    I've got you covered.

    This tiffin is dead easy to make with under 30 minutes actual effort time. Just leave a couple of hours for the thing to chill and you're good to go. Its the perfect Christmas treat - rich, sweet, crunchy, crumbly, buttery, and ginger-y too.

    I made this for a friend who has nut allergies, so I used Wowbutter spread for my take on the traditional recipe. It will work just fine with regular smooth PB too. The ginger adds a lovely subtle festive taste, especially when combined with the dried fruit.

    Now, to track down the recipe I'll be using for Christmas dessert... I've been very organised this year with regards to presents but food on the day is always a last-minute haphazard affair! Happy festive season everyone :)

    Gingerbutter Tiffin

    by Shonalika Tilak
    Ingredients (Makes 6-8 squares*)
    • 50g peanut (or other nut/seed/soya) butter
    • 5 tbsp milk (I used soya)
    • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
    • 1 tbsp maple syrup
    • 1 ½ tbsp cocoa powder
    • ¼ tsp ginger (or more to taste)
    • 3 ½ digestive biscuits, crushed
    • 30 g golden sultanas
    • 100g dark chocolate
    1. Melt the first 6 ingredients together on the stove.
    2. Add remaining ingredients (apart from the chocolate) and mix well.
    3. Press mixture firmly into a lined tin and chill for one hour.
    4. Melt the chocolate (I use the double boiler method) and pour over mixture.
    5. Re-fridge until set, another hour or so.
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    *This recipe makes a highly indulgent square with a thick chocolate topping! I like it this way, but if you would rather have a thinner slice, feel free to spread the mixture out more during the pressing stage.