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TTK is back!

10 Jan

Albeit in a slightly modified form.  It’s over here: TTK v. 2.0.

You can read about the difference between this and the new TTK over here: About TTK v. 2.0.


With heavy heart…

20 Jun

I have been thinking about this for a while and, with heavy heart, I am putting TTK on hiatus for a while.

Currently my life is overflowing with wonderful things: my marriage, impending motherhood, my PhD, friends and – of course – cooking.  But, right now I’m quite content to spend my spare time enjoying what I have here.

That is not to say that TTK will be gone forever.  But for now; goodbye.

S and I will still continue to update W148BD, so please feel free to follow our journey in London over there.

Savoury Crumble, for a little something extra

18 Jun

Here’s something that you’ve seen before, but with something new:

What’s in the bowl is lentil and mash – in the past, I’ve posted variations on this lentil-plus-mash concept a number of times.  It’s something so easy and quick that is also healthy and delicious.  But this one has something new!  That’s right – the savoury crumble.

The general premise is the same as the crumble that goes on the top of stewed apples to make apple crumble – only savoury.  You want to start with some flour in a bowl, with a pinch of salt, and then all you really need to do is rub some dairy-free butter into it.  I generally also add a little water at the end just so the whole thing isn’t butter!  Rub the mix between your fingers until it looks like this:

and then spread it out on an oiled baking tray and pop it in the oven until it’s golden and crispy.  Done.


Lentil stew with mash

31 May

I have posted recipes quite similar to this before – mainly in ‘pie’ style.  This one is a big thicker, and still has the typical shepherd’s/gardener’s pie mash and pie crust.  Think of it as a kind of an unbaked gardener’s pie in a bowl.

What you’ll need:

  • 1-1 1/2 cups brown lentils
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1 big carrot, diced up how you like
  • 1 regular size onion
  • 2/3 cup peas
  • some form of vegetable gravy – either home made or gravy powder
  • some puff pastry (you could alternatively use filo or a regular shortcrust)
  • potatoes, about 4 medium sized

What to do:

In a pretty large pot, cover your lentils in water plus two or three ‘finger-widths’ extra.  Less is more here, as you can always add in more water if they’re getting a bit dry.  Put on the boil, and once you’ve had a rolling boil for a few minutes, crumble the stock cube over the top (alternatively, if you make your own stock you can just cook the lentils from the word go in half-and-half water and stock). While the lentils are coming up to the boil, get your potatoes in the steamer (or in a pot to boil).

While you’re waiting for the lentils to cook, time to do the pastry biscuit.  The easiest way (particularly with filo or puff) is to use frozen pastry.  If you wanted to make your own, my recipe is over here.  I like to cut out shapes, but you can easily just use a hand cut circle.  Pop them onto a well-oiled baking tray and throw them in the oven.  If you want to get your pastry into a nice little ‘hat’ shape, pop them into a shallow pie dish:

Remember to keep an eye on your pastry, and pull it out of the oven when it’s golden on top.

Once the lentils are starting to look as though they aren’t too far away from being done, throw in the carrots (and, if you’re so inclined maybe some parsnip and swede, diced to roughly the same size).  A few minutes later, stir though the peas and the gravy – either a few heaped tablespoons of pre-made gravy, or a tea spoon or so of gravy mix.  Let that cook down.

Now, your potatoes should be pretty much done so get them organised with mashing.  The thing I find about steaming your potatoes is that you don’t really need to add too much else to them to create a nice, creamy mash.  I usually just put a little bit of pepper in and that’s it.

So – everything is done.  Time to put it all together.  Fill the bottom of your bowl with the lentil mix, make a nice round ball of potato to plonk in the middle, and top with your pastry hat.  Viola!

And what to do with the left over lentil and mash?

Yep, not a very pretty photo but a damn fine sandwich.  And, some gratuitous shots of the new kitchen:

Also – let me tell you that as I write this, I’ve got some red wine braised tofu on the stove.  I’m going to serve it with some parsnip mash and carrots.  Fingers crossed, but so far it looks, tastes and smells pretty good.

Super-Creamy, Super-Cheesy Vegan Pasta Bake

28 May

This is the single creamiest, cheesiest thing I have eaten in all my years of being vegan.  Also, it makes me realise how lucky I am to have fairly easy access to the ingredients to make something like this happen – I know it won’t be as easy for some, but let me tell you this fifteen-minute pasta bake is well worth going out of your way for.

What you’ll need:

  • Pasta, some kind of short twirly or shell pasta, whatever you like.  Two cooked and drained serves (or more if you like)
  • 1 tin of crushed tomatoes.  Whatever brand and style you like – if you buy them with herbs and onion, just omit any more herbs and onion (or don’t, it’s up to you!)
  • 1 regular sized onion, chopped and lightly browned
  • 1 grated wheel of either Cheezly super-melting edam or Cheezly super-melting mozzarella.  I confess, I used half a wheel of each mixed together but I remember how expensive Cheezly was in Australia, so I wouldn’t have done it there!
  • 1 regular-size carton of Oatly oat cream.  You could use Soyatoo, but it wouldn’t be the same.

What to do:

  • Put the cooked and drained pasta in the bottom of your baking dish.  In a mixing bowl, combine all other ingredients and pour over the top.  Mix lightly, so all the pasta is covered.  Pop in the oven for 15 minutes.  Eat.
  • Celebrate the cheesiest, creamiest, easiest vegan dinner you have ever made.




Veggie Burgers

23 Apr

I have a kitchen again!  A proper kitchen, with bench space and cupboard space.  A kitchen that is its own room and not a nook in the wall of another room.  A proper kitchen that can now be filled with deliciousness.  A kitchen which already has a ‘baking cupboard’ with four different types of flour in it.  Hooray!

And so, in honour of the new kitchen, here is the first real creation that’s come from it (yes, I know we’ve been here for ten days now – but what with the moving and organising and everything I haven’t really had the time to devote to culinary creation.)  So, here it is: veggie burgers.

What you’ll need:

  • 3 regular sized mashing potatoes
  • 1 regular sized sweet potato
  • 1 leek
  • 1 onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 small-medium parsnip
  • 1/2 swede
  • 3/4 cup peas
  • 5-6 button mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • breadcrumbs
  • cooking oil
  • salt and pepper

What to do:

Peel all your veges, then roughly cut up and boil the potato and sweet potato, and put on to boil.  When they’re done, mash and set aside.

While they’re boiling, finely dice up your leek and onion and throw them into a frying pan with some oil.

Keep an eye on them – you want them really nicely browned.  While that’s going on dice up your other veggies (I actually did double, and set the other half aside for tomorrow night’s veggie soup!) and throw them in a pot to boil, with the peas.  Obviously, you want them cooked though – but not over cooked.

While that’s going on, your leek and onion mix should be done – tip it into the potato and sweet potato mash that you’ve set aside and keep your fry pan (no need to rinse) off the heat for a moment.  Peel and dice up your mushrooms, and throw them in the fry pan with a little bit more oil.  Peel you say?!?  If you don’t know how, there’s a handy tutorial at the end of the post.  Now, how much you cook these is really up to you.  I like them on the more well done side, but I know plenty of people who would quite happily throw them in the pan for 30 seconds and have them half-raw.  Go with what you feel.

Once the mushies and veggies are done, tip them into the mash and stir it all together, with some salt and pepper.  If you wanted to add some fresh herbs (rosemary would be my pick) do it here.  I haven’t because S likes simple food, and at the moment my taste buds are so whacked out with baby-related weirdness that I don’t want to risk adding things and then not being able to eat them.  There’s not need to be super precious about mixing – just get in there.

At this stage, you want to let the mix cool enough to handle, and then shape medium sized burger patties with your hands, and cover each one in breadcrumbs.  To be honest, I didn’t do it tonight.  For a number of reasons, which mainly had to do with not having any breadcrumbs on hand and still not having a food processor with with to make emergency breadcrumbs.  But – be assured that I’ve done it many times before and it will work out fine!  Finally, shallow fry each of the crumbed patties before draining them on some paper towel.  And then…


How to peel a mushroom:

A few years ago my wonderful mum taught me about peeling mushrooms.  Maybe everyone already knows how to do it and I was just a bit slow on the mushroom-peeling uptake.  But, just in case – this is how:

1. Break the stem off.

From here, you’ll be able to see that the outer skin of the mushroom forms a kind of lip over the bottom edge:

And you’ll find that you can just grap little bits of the skin that’s folded over and pull it off:

And that when you pull, a strip will come off from the lip to the middle of the top:

Move all the way around the lip, and hey presto – a perfectly peeled mushroom!

A good excuse and pasta sauce

7 Apr

Okay, I know that I said that I wouldn’t further neglect the much neglected TTK, particularly for the (very poor) excuse of not liking my kitchen.  Well, I have a good excuse for having done so lately and it involves spending an entire week being able to stomach nothing but cereal.  Yep – I’m up the duff.

Thankfully, I seem to have passed into the second trimester mostly unscathed and am starting to feel significantly more like eating food that is, well… not either cereal or tomato sandwiches.  So, I’m going to try and begin again in earnest.  Particularly now that I can start thinking about what kinds of wonderful wholesome foods I need to put into my body now that I’m growing a tiny human.

Add to this the fact that we are moving (hooray!) and our new place will have a kitchen.  I don’t just mean some stock bench-space, a hob, an oven, a sink.  I mean an entire room devoted to cooking.  A whole room – with some wonderful bench space – that I can lock myself into and devote to food creation.

And to celebrate, here is something which is specifically for my friend B.  While she was still living in London we talked about how to create something like this and I said that I would organise some kind of recipe for her.  Of course, I never did – but here it is.

A stock standard home-made tomato pasta sauce

What you need:

– slightly overripe tomatoes.  I used cherry tomatoes for this, but you can use any kind.

-good quality olive oil

-herbs of your choice (I use basil)

What you need to do:

Skin your tomatoes.  The easiest way to do this is to cut a little cross into the bottom side of each tomato and submerge it in boiling water.  Once you pull it out you should be able to just peel the skin away – if not, just dunk it back into the water.

Put all your tomatoes, along with a little drizzle of olive oil, into an oven proof dish.  If you’re using big tomatoes then cut them up into quarters or eighths, cherry and baby tomatoes you can just put in as is.  Put them into a moderately hot oven, something around 200 should be fine.  Leave them for about half an hour.

Pull the dish out and smush them up with a fork.  Be careful!  You might get squirted with some very hot tomato seeds and other assorted innards.  Smush as much as you can.  Pop them back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes.

At this stage, I like to transfer the tomatoes into a pot and put them on the stove – covered – to simmer down a bit more.  This is also a good time to add in some chopped up fresh (or dried, if you like/that’s all you have) herbs.  This stage is a bit more up to you.  If you don’t mind a chunky sauce, you won’t want to leave them simmering for too long.  If you want something a bit smoother you will want to cook them down a little bit more.  If you are so inclined you can wizz your sauce up for something a little bit smoother.

Now – you can either use this sauce as is.  Or, you can add things – soy milk, cream, cheese is fine, if you are so inclined you can add some cooked brown lentils or TVP to make something closer to a bolognese.  At the ‘transfer to the pot’ stage you can start by adding some finely chopped onions or leeks, carrots or celery also go really well.  Before you finish, throw in a dash of red wine for something a bit richer.   You can really do anything you like with it.  It’s also freezable, so you can make a huge batch and freeze it off.

And then, obviously, you eat it.  (Although the days of final-dish photos with a huge glass of red wine are over for me for a while, please feel free to have one if you are devouring this sauce!)

Saturday Morning Scrambled Tofu

29 Jan

aka – best hangover cure known to mankind

Many years ago BV (Before Vegan) I used to cook up huge platefuls of scrambled eggs with onions on Saturday mornings.  We ate them with buttered toast, coffee, and orange juice.  It was one of the best ways to start the day.  Except it wasn’t because the way egg-laying chickens are treated is horrific.  Yes, even so-called ‘free-range’ chickens.

Even PV (Post Vegan) I was always a little hesitant to try scrambled tofu – even though I love tofu – because I didn’t want it to compare to those early morning, hung-over, scrambled egg breakfasts.  But, I was wrong.  I was wrong not to try the mighty scrambled tofu earlier than I did because it is far superior to scrambled eggs in every way.

This one is not very fancy – it’s some diced and grilled onions, tofu mushed up with some soy sauce and some Tabasco, thrown through the frying pan and served, sans toast due to my laziness, with a very tiny amount of salt and pepper.  And a big glass of water and a mug of green tea.

So long, hang-over!

P.S Make sure you buy non-GM tofu (actually, non-GM everything!).  A horrific amount of soy is genetically modified – according to GMO Compass more than half of all soybeans planted worldwide are from genetically modified crops, that includes 85% of American soybeans and 98% of Argentinian soybeans.  It’s not cool.

There is a really good Q-and-A over at the World Health Organization about GMOs, for those interested in looking into GMOs a little bit more.  It’s here.

Vegan Carbonara and the end of grieving

23 Jan

I have been grieving for my kitchen.  Not the physical kitchen – the bench, the sink, the oven.  But, the things that make my kitchen, well, my kitchen.  My amazing food processor (how did I ever live before this?!?), my wonderful Tupperware measuring cups and my Happy Chopper.  My bowls, my marble rolling pin, my baking trays.  I know that this isn’t an excuse for having – without any warning to you – let TTK fall by the wayside.  Well – no more!  I must get over it, I have sufficiently re-stocked my kitchen (albeit with less expensive things…)  And, so – to welcome back TTK I give to you my amazing no-soy, no-fake chesse Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara.

Okay – it doesn’t look super amazing, but it passed the S-taste test, and that is good enough for me.

While you’re spaghetti is cooking, throw one finely chopped onion and half a finely chopped leek into a frying pan with a little bit of vegetable oil (I personally use rapeseed oil) and start making a basic white sauce in a medium sized saucepan.  The amount of sauce you make will depend on how thick you like your cabonara, but my base was about 1 1/2 cups of rice milk and something around 1/4 cup of organic white flour sifted and whisked in, then stir though about 1/3 cup of oat cream until the sauce is a nice consistency – you’ll want it to be thick but still runny (if you cannot find oat cream, you can you Soyatoo or similar).  Add in a dollop of a mild yellow mustard (dijon or similar, or if you prefer something a bit different play around with seeded mustards) and some pepper to taste.  Take this off the heat and add in a handful of roughly chopped green beans, and your nicely-browned leek and onion mix.

Drain your spaghetti, stir the sauce though, serve with (as always) a lovely glass of red!

In other news, tonight S and I were feeling particularly lazy so we had microwave dinner (well, not really as we don’t have a microwave, but you get the idea…) consisting of Amy’s kitchen mac-and-cheese, which I bought from Wholefoods this afternoon.  Now, S had the ‘regular’ kind and I (obviously) had the vegan version.  The exciting thing about this is Amy’s kitchen vegan meals use a Daiya vegan cheese.  You can’t get it in Australia, and I haven’t found packs of it in the UK, though I’m not sure if it’s available or not.  It is apparently the most ‘realistic’ vegan cheese on the market, so I had been keen to try it.  It was nice – rich – but not like I remember cheese to taste.  I would certainly be happy to have it again, and maybe find some to try and cook with, but I’m not in the hugest rush.  I think I have said before that I am not the biggest fan of the fake-cheese products, but they are nice every so often.

One more thing, quite quickly.  Last week S and I went to see Jonathan Safran Foer do a q-and-a at LSE.  You probably know JSF as the author of (among other things) Eating Animals.  It was really wonderful.  It was great to hear how frank he was about his struggles with veganism, raising his children vegetarian, coming to terms with the research he did for the book.  Admittedly, this talk wasn’t aimed at me, and his book wasn’t aimed at me – I had already been vegan for quite a while when I picked it up – but it was great to hear such a truthful account of his struggles.  I think S took a bit more away from it than I did.

S feeding ducks in the Seine


Vegetable Soup

10 Oct

Here is my tried-and-true trusty no-fuss vegetable soup.  It’s cheap.  It’s easy.  It’s delicious.  This recipe makes 2 HUGE serves, or 4 regular serves.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 spanish onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 leek, finely diced
  • 1/2 swede (or turnip if you wish), diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 1 medium parsnip, diced
  • 3/4 cup of ‘soup mix’ (it’s a mix of different beans and legumes, you can get it at most supermarkets with the other dried legumes – otherwise you can just use borlotti beans, or red kidney beans, or any other beans you like), soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 stock cubes (or homemade stock equivalent to water)
  • 2-4 cups of water (depending how brothy you like it)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

Sautee the leek and onion in a big pot with a little oil until translucent.  Add about 1/4 cup of water (no need to be precise) and add in all the other veges.  Stir around for a few minutes, then add the soup mix and leave for another few minutes.  Add in about 2 cups of water, in which the stock cubes have been dissolved.  Turn the heat right down, pop the lid on and let it simmer away until the veges are soft.  Right at the end, stir though the tomato paste and add any extra water to get the consistency you like.  Turn the heat up to a rolling boil for the last three-ish minutes.  Serve immediately with a crusy roll.

You can make this soup in advance – stop just before you put the tomato paste in.  Then, when you’re ready to serve heat the soup back up, add the tomato paste and boil it in a bit.  Easy.

Having found Parmazano (vegan ‘parmasan’) in our local supermarket for 69p, I sprinkled a bit on the top.  Given that the only time I found Parmazano in Melbourne it was around the $9.00 mark, I wouldn’t have done it.

And, before you ask – yes, that is red wine in a mug.