Tag Archive | cheese

A Romantic Interlude…

IMG_20160815_121133 (2).jpgSweet Peppers Stuffed with Cream Cheese

vegetarian/lactofree/gluten free/can be made vegan

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Before we get properly started on the epic adventure curry quest I thought I would share a quick recipe to mark the occasion of receiving my first ever Valentine’s card with the word “wife” on the front. (We got married last summer. Yay us.)

This is one I often make as a romantic treat for my husband. (Yes, we do live in the 1950s apparently) wife-6-600x782.jpgIt’s tiny sweet peppers stuffed with cream cheese. My husband loves these naughty little beauties. He first spied them in a pub while on a weekend away in Birmingham and has lusted after them ever since. The look on his face while he is eating them suggests that he may even love them more than me. For my part, instead of getting jealous of the peppers, demanding to know whether he is eating them behind my back, obsessively checking his phone for pictures of peppers and throwing his cheese out of the window, I have decided to take the unconventional approach of welcoming the peppers into our relationship and fulfilling his gastronomic urges every chance I get.

I think these work best when eaten as part of a tapas style spread. On the last occasion, we ate them with sweet potato fries, miniature vegetarian pigs in blankets, baked green lemon tiger tomatoes and olives but you can do whatever you like best.

Recipe Tips

  • Sweet peppers of suitable dimensions to make delicious, single-bite-sized parcels of cheesy goodness are surprisingly difficult to find. Most on offer that I have found in supermarkets are simply too big to be consumed in one bite. Of course the recipe does still work perfectly well with the larger variety, it’s just less satisfying when you have to cut them up. For those of you with a taste for the spicier things in life, this recipe is traditionally made with chillies, and these have the advantage of being the perfect size. I and my digestive system however, cannot cope with all the excitement. On balance, the scarcity of perfectly sized peppers is probably a good thing; given an unrestricted supply who knows what orgies of cheese based consumption might otherwise ensue in our household.
  • You don’t actually have to use cream cheese for this – any soft cheese will do if you can eat cheese.
  • I have not yet found a vegan or lactose free cream cheese that contains herbs or anything exciting so have added in the step of making my own for this dish. If you are using normal cream cheese feel free to skip this part. I like to add Herbes de Provence but a standard Italian herb mix will do just nicely. You can also add a sprinkling of paprika and/or garlic powder if you like them.
  • To minimise cheese-leakage when cooking I have, through much experimentation come up with an ingenious solution involving a scrunched up roll of aluminium foil to hold the peppers cheesy end up. I call my marvellous invention the patented* perky pepper proper-upper  *patent pending**    **patent not pendingpeppers-4

(It’s not the most eco-friendly option I know but unless you are a much better person than me and your dedication to the cause extends to scrubbing burned cheese off your cookware I would highly recommend this solution)

Ingredients

  • As many tiny sweet peppers as you think you can eat – remember: they are going to be stuffed with cheese so this one really is between you, your arteries and your conscience.
  • A tub of spreadable cream cheese. (I use lactose free but vegan works fine too)
  • Oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Paprika and garlic powder (optional)
  • Mixed herbs
  1. Prepare the pepperspeppers-1

Gently cut a ring around the stems using the tip of a knife. Pull the stems out and you should be left with a neat hole. Wash the inside of the peppers out under the tap to remove the seeds.

  1. Improve the cream cheese

Decant some cream cheese into a bowl – no measures, just as much as seems reasonable – a few dessert spoons should do it for one person. Add salt and pepper and herbs to taste.

  1. Stuff those pepperspeppers-2

Using a knife, fill the peppers with cream cheese. If you’re feeling fancy you can use a piping bag but the results are much the same.

  1. Bakepeppers-3

Place on a baking tray lined with foil or greaseproof paper. Bake for roughly 15-20mins (give or take – just keep checking it) on 200C.

  1. Revel in cheesy decadence. 
    800px-Neufchâtel.jpg

    Neufchatel. Markus Lindholm Wikimedia Commons.

Cheesy vegetable bake

veggie-dish-1

Vegetable bake with Quorn sausages

vegetarian/gluten free/lactose free/can be made vegan

One week until the end of the month. That means it’s time to get creative. We may not have any money right now but what we do have is a tray full of mushrooms that are on the turn, half a loaf of stale bread and a couple of wrinkly peppers. What more does a girl need?

I don’t know exactly what this recipe is. It’s one I inherited from my Mum and in our house it was just called “veggie dish”. It’s sort of a delicious baked vegetable mush with a cheesy crispy, topping. It’s great for those times when you have a load of old odds and ends rattling around in the fridge and not much money in your bank account.

Assuming that bears had raided your kitchen and you had to buy every single ingredient in this recipe from a mid-range supermarket (I used Sainsburys prices to work this out) the cost would be roughly £4.50. This gives 4 portions at £1.12 each which is pretty good considering how nutritious it is. I love it because it uses up ingredients that I often have in anyway and prevents any waste.

In my local Sainsburys the celery, peppers, courgettes and mushroom are all cheaper to buy in gigantic packets than they are individually. This seems like a bizarre system to me and a silly waste of plastic but what do I know? I just take advantage of it while I can.

 

Recipe Tips

  • This one really works best if you have a food processor. I have made it without and it tastes just fine but you don’t quite get the same texture and the chopping takes ages. If you are doing this without a food processor you will need really stale bread to make the breadcrumb; it has to be totally dried out or else it just won’t work, especially if that bread is shop-bought gluten free.
  • If you’re like me and hate green peppers then this is an excellent way to disguise them. Also, despite the vast quantities of mushrooms in this, my husband who hates mushrooms cannot tell they’re in it.
  • If you want to make this vegan, then just leave out the egg or use egg replacer/chia seeds. It’s not a vital ingredient; it just helps to bind it.
  • My Mum’s version of this recipe used an onion, not a courgette but as I cannot eat onions in large amounts courgette is a good replacement.
  • This can be served with pretty much anything. I like it with sausages or with baked beans and half a jacket potato.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 peppers – 1 red and 1 green works best
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 12oz mushrooms
  • 1 medium courgette
  • 6oz cheddar cheese (Lactofree or vegan cheddar style)
  • 8oz stale bread (brown is best)
  • 1 egg (or substitute)
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil

Method

  1. Chop the vegetables as fine as you can. Use a food processor if possible.

veggie-dish-4

2. Fry the vegetables in a little vegetable oil for about 5mins.veggie-dish-3

3. Either use a food processor to turn the bread into breadcrumbs or rub it between your fingers.

4. Grate the cheese.

5. Beat the egg a little in a cup with the salt and pepper and add to the mixture.

 

 

6. Add 6oz of the breadcrumbs and 4oz of the cheese to the mixture.

 

7. Stir everything in and cook for another couple of minutes.

veggie-dish-5

 

 

 

8. Put the mixture into an ovenproof baking dish and smooth down. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs over the top.

 

 

 

9. Bake at 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 25 minutes or until the top is browned and crispy.veggie-dish-2

 

Vegan Fondue

20161103_144349 (2).jpg

vegan/gluten free

In honour of the UK’s Great Vegan Challenge month, (see http://www.govegan.org.uk/) may I present for your enjoyment, vegan fondue.

One of the things I miss most since going lactose-free is cheese. I love cheese. I especially love the really stinky, runny, disgusting kind. The kind that makes guests think something must’ve crawled into your fridge and died sometime in 1992 and has stayed there ever since. I used to buy one particular brand that my husband claimed he could smell when he came in through the front door, even though it was wrapped up in tin foil and sealed in a Tupperware box safely in the fridge. Sigh…

These days I have to be content with getting my fix from the many brands of vegan cheese out there. I’m lucky in that my local wholefoods shop stocks a very wide range. I haven’t tried them all yet but the one I’ve found most useful for cooking purposes has been Violife. They do several different varieties all of which are very nice and haven’t got that chalky, mushy texture a lot of vegan cheese seems to have. Their original flavour is the best for eating just as it is. It comes in a blue packet and tastes pleasantly like Edam. The green packet however is the exciting one. It’s melty pizza cheese and I love it. I love it more than real cheese on pizza. I recommend it to so many people that they should probably give me job, or at least some free cheese. This is the one that I used for the fondue.

Vegan fondue is dead easy to make as you really just              substitute the dairy ingredients for their vegan equivalents. There’s no tricky alteration required. Having said that, I did make some changes to the recipe I used to suit my own personal tastes. I adapted Nigella’s fondue recipe from her “Nigella Express” book (online version found here: https://www.nigella.com/recipes/cheese-fondue). I served this to guests on Halloween and it went down very well. (It’s even better with red food colouring in and served in a cauldron) This recipe does make a tonne though. We had enough to feed 7 people and then there was plenty left over so you might want to halve the quantities if you don’t want to find yourself swimming in molten cheese. Or maybe you do. In which case go for it.

Recipe Tips

  • The original recipe includes a clove of garlic however as I can’t eat much garlic I left it out and just sprinkled in a small pinch of garlic powder instead. It tasted just fine.
  • The wine really is necessary if you’re using vegan cheese. It gives it a tang that helps to mimic the taste of real cheese and stops it being too sweet or sickly.
  • Traditionally a fondue should be made with kirsch as well as wine but I use gin as don’t want the expense of buying a whole bottle of kirsch for the sake of 3 tablespoons. The sharpness of the gin also helps to offset the mildness of the vegan cheese.
  • I added a splash of soya cream to my fondue as I wanted it to be a little runnier and creamier, and also some salt as I find vegan cheese I use to be less salty than real cheese.

Ingredients

  • 600g vegan “melty” cheese (grated)
  • 300ml white wine
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 3 tablespoons kirsch or gin
  • A pinch of garlic powder
  • A splash of soya cream (optional)
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper.

 

Method

Put the cheese, wine, cream, nutmeg and garlic into a saucepan or a fondue bowl if you have one. Cook over a low heat for a few minutes until the cheese has melted. Mix the cornflour with the gin in a small glass and add to the cheese. Stir everything well and season it to taste.

Serve with accompaniments of your choice. We like a combination of the following:

  • Toasted bread (gluten free)
  • Bread sticks (gluten free)
  • Vegetarian sausages cut up and skewered on cocktail sticks
  • Carrot, cucumber and celery sticks
  • Slices of sweet pepper