Saturday, November 16, 2013

Caldo verde (Portuguese kale soup)

I ate this soup the first time I came to Lisbon, and had a slightly unpleasant surprise! I'd almost reached the end of my delicious green soup, when I discovered a large slice of chouriço sitting quietly in the bottom of the bowl! I was told that this was completely normal, to add flavour to the dish, so sadly I never ate caldo verde again... Until today.

I'm sure a soup just as good could be made without any chouriço, but I wanted to make it as close to the real thing as possible. I used a very strongly flavoured soya chouriço and I think it turned out great!


(Serves 6)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 vegan chouriço (I like the ones made from soya the best), cut into approximately 1cm thick slices
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, sliced finely
3 medium potatoes, cut into smallish cubes
1tsp salt
3 cups water
350g kale, cut into very thin grass-like strips


Fry the chouriço slices in the olive oil until browned on both sides, then remove to a plate and put to the side.

Fry the onion in the same pan until soft, then add the garlic and salt and fry about a minute more.

Add the potato and water and cook until the potato is very soft and beginning to fall apart (about 20 to 30 minutes).

Remove from the heat and puree, (check if there's enough salt at this point) then add the kale and cook for about 5 minute more.

Serve with a slice (or two) of the pre-cooked chouriço in each bowl.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Awesome chocolate sandwich cookies

I read an article recently that said that studies had proven that Oreos are more addictive than cocaine. How true that is, I don't know - they have been my favourite go to cookie as long as I can remember but addiction? No way. When I saw this recipe in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar I had to try it. Something that promised to be better than my favourite cookie, but without a ton of ingredients I can't even pronounce? Yes please! It didn't disappoint.

I must admit I was a little disturbed by the wetness of the dough. However don't fret! It all turned out just fine.


For the cookies:

1/4 cup of non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening*
1 cup sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used plain soy milk)
1.5 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder**
2 tsps cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

For the filling:

1/4 cup of non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
1/4 cup of non-hydrogenated margerine
3 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

* I had no idea what vegetable shortening was, until I purchased this book. I found it almost impossible to find in Lisbon, the only place in the end being Glood, an awesome store that imports foods from all over the world!
** I changed this from the original recipe, that asks for two different types of cocoa because I have no idea where to buy different types of cocoa!


Make sure you have plenty of baking paper ready before starting!

- Cream together the shortening and sugar with a hand mixer until light and fluffy (about 1 minute). Add the vanilla extract and non-dairy milk and mix some more, until all is combined into a smooth mixture. Add the dry ingredients and mix until you have a uniformly textured dough (like I mentioned before, it will be very wet and sticky!). Put in the fridge to chill for around 10 minutes, and pre-heat your oven to 175ºc in the meantime.

- Place a sheet of baking paper, the size of your cookie sheet, onto your surface. Divide the chilled dough into two (put one back in the fridge) and roll one half into a ball. Flatten it into the centre of your baking paper, and cover it with another sheet to stop it from sticking to the rolling pin (magic!). Roll out until the dough is almost the size of your cookie sheet (it should be about 3mm thick) and carefully remove the top layer of baking paper. Cut into whatever size you wish using a round cookie cutter, or the upturned end of a clean glass (I used a glass, making mine about 6cm across!), leaving around 1cm between each cookie. Carefully peel off the leftover dough, and put back into the fridge.

- Transfer the whole sheet of baking paper with the cookies to the cookie sheet, and bake in the oven for around 12 minutes. Take them out and leave them to cool for 5 minutes on the sheet, before carefully transferring them to a wire rack to fully cool. Be very careful, they won't seem very firm at this point!

- Repeat with all of the remaining dough, preparing the filling while one of the batches is in the oven.

To prepare the filling:

- Cream the margarine and shortening together using a hand mixer. Add the sugar in 1/2 cup increments until a very firm, but smooth mixture is formed. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined. Chill in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

- Once the cookies are cooled put half of them onto a flat surface. Roll your filling into balls around the size of large grapes and squash each ball onto each cookie. Top them with the remaining cookies and squash together until the filling more or less reaches all the edges. Store in a tightly sealed container.

A new start

After ten years of being vegetarian, I have decided to take the final step and go vegan. With my love for cheese it's proving a little challenging at times, but i'm getting there! So prepare for a possible barrage of recipes, as I try to fill the hole that cheese once occupied!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Banana chocolate muffins

This was my first attempt at making vegan muffins, and they turned out pretty awesome!


(Makes 12 muffins)

3 ripe bananas
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 bar dark chocolate (100g), chopped into rough chunks


Pre-heat your oven to 200º and line a muffin tray with 12 muffin cases.

In a large bowl mash the bananas with a fork until they're completely pulverised, with no lumps.

Add the sugar and oil and mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, and baking soda and then add to the wet mixture, mixing only enough to combine the ingredients and then stir in the chocolate chunks.

Spoon this mixture into your prepared muffin cases - they'll each be about 1/2 full.

Put in the center of the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until they're risen and golden on top, and a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean.

Try to leave them to cool on a wire rack before eating them...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Lentil burgers (barbecue time is here!)

It's too warm at the moment. Like sitting on the surface of the sun kind of warm. Obviously that means it's time for lazy weekend barbecues.

These burgers love to be barbecued (and don't fall apart, bonus!) but they're just as happy to be grilled.


(Makes 8 burgers)

1 clove of garlic
1 small onion
1.5 cups cooked brown lentils
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
0.5 cup wheat gluten
3 tbsp linseeds (omega-3 go!)
2 tbsp soy sauce (or substitute one of these for worcester sauce, but make sure it doesn't have anchovies!)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water
0.5 cup oats
0.5 cup breadcrumbs
0.5 tsp ground black pepper
0.5 tsp chilli flakes


Put the garlic in a blender and pulse until finely minced. Then add the onion and pulse until it's finely chopped.

Add the rest of the ingredients.

And then blend until well mixed. Easy, right?

Now, throw this mixture into a bowl and kneed it for a few minutes to make a firm dough. Divide this dough into eight equal portions and shape into burger shapes. You can use one of those fancy burger presses if you have one, but I don't, so I use my hands. Very artistic.

Now you simply need to cook them until browned. Just make sure to brush the surface with a little bit of oil first or they will want to stay there.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ridiculously easy to make seitan sausages.

Finding good tasting vegetarian products in Portugal is a little bit difficult (not to mention, somewhat expensive too!) so I was really excited to try out this recipe when I found it on vegandad's blog.

This recipe is pretty much foolproof, and very versatile - add whichever herbs or spices you prefer for something different (a teaspoon of chilli flakes, awesome!). I've modified it slightly from the original, and this is my favourite variation i've tried so far.

These are great to be eaten hot straight from the steamer, or cold in sandwiches, or barbequed, or grilled...

Here's how it's done:


(Makes 6 sausages)

1 cup cooked white beans
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce (low salt is preferable!)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 1/4 cups wheat gluten*
1/4 cup nutritional yeast*
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

* If you're in Portugal both of these can be found in Celeiro stores (and often Jumbo has nutritional yeast too).


Make sure your steaming apparatus is ready to go before you start and put 6 sheets of silver foil (about 20cm x 30cm each) to the side.

In a large bowl, mash the beans until they're smooth.

Add the rest of the ingredients in the order listed, and mix with a fork until everything is well combined. Don't worry that it looks a little bit gross, all will be fine in the end!

Divide this mixture into six, as equally as you can, and then spread out one portion to about 12cm lengths on each of the six pieces of foil. Don't worry about shaping them, the steaming will magically pop them into shape while they're cooking (really)!

Now roll them up snugly, making sure to twist both ends tightly.

And place them into your waiting steamer. Try not to squash them together too much! (If you're using a pressure cooker to steam them 20 minutes should do it.)

Now, wait patiently for 40 minutes while they steam. Cook the rest of your meal. Go read a comic. Whatever.

Carefully(!) remove the foil parcels from the steamer and unwrap your sausages. Like I mentioned before these are awesome as they are, but my favourite way to eat them is grilled until they're slightly charred.

All done:

Try it! (They taste way better than they look, believe me!)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Lentil meatballs

I've been craving pasta and meatballs for months, but never had the time/energy/whatever to make them. Finally I decided that Monday was the day, and after work I got out the pressure cooker and cooked up a big batch of lentils... Sadly, it was not meant to be, and they went straight into the freezer. [Fastforward to today].

So, a while back I found this incredible recipe for lentil meatballs on The Post Punk Kitchen. I never had the desire to make the whole recipe, sauce and all, though I must say that the "meat"balls themselves are pure genius. Perfection!

Now this recipe, taking around 45 minutes to make, isn't the quickest thing in the universe to do, though the effort is well worth it!


(Serves 4)

1 clove garlic
1 small onion, quartered
1.5 cups cooked green or brown lentils
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp vital wheat gluten flour
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
0.5 cup breadcrumbs


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºc. Use a blender to mince the garlic (or you could use a fine grater, like I do because I find my blender isn't that great with garlic). Add the onion and blend until it's very finely chopped. Put into a large mixing bowl with the breadcrumbs.

2. Put the rest of the ingredients in the blender and pulse until they're in a smooth paste. Add to the mixing bowl and mix with your hands for around two minutes. At this point it doesn't look too appertising. But don't worry!

3. Roll into whatever size balls you'd like. Usually I make around 20 pingpong sized balls, which work out perfect for four meals.

4. Heat around a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan. Then place around half of the balls at a time (don't overcrowd your pan!) and let them cook, turning regularly, until slightly browned on the outside.

5. Transfer the balls to a baking tray and bake them in the pre-heated oven for approximately 20 minutes, turning every once in a while to make sure they cook evenly.

6. Serve with pasta and your favourite sauce!

The sauce:

My sauce was incredibly simple, because I wanted to enjoy the full beauty of the meatballs. Here's the recipe, just incase you're un-inspired today:


0.5 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
250g mushrooms, sliced
2 medium carrots, grated
pinch of rock salt
0.5 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp paprika
0.5 tsp chilli flakes
1kg tomato pulp
2 bay leaves


1. Heat the oil on a medium heat in the same large pan you originally browned the meatballs in. Add the garlic and saute for around a minute, until softened. Add the mushrooms and carrot and the seasoning, and cook until they reduce a little.

2. Add the meatballs, tomato pulp, and bay leaves and mix.

3. Simmer on a low heat whilst you cook your pasta (or for around 15 minutes).

4. Hunt out and remove those bay leaves, and enjoy!