It is Veganuary again so I fancied making a classic dish but doing it Vegan. I chose cottage pie as it is an all time classic comfort food. It was easy and tasty and here is what I did. This is a cross between and British classic and and Irish / Greek dishes, the addition of cabbage to mashed potato is called Colcannon in Ireland and using oil, garlic and vinegar instead of butter and milk in Greek makes it Skordalia.
400g pack of Meatless Farm Mince,
1 chopped onion,
1 diced carrot,
salt and pepper,
vegetable stock 500ml,
splash Henderson’s relish
I sautéed the vegetables for a few minutes in the oil and then added everything else and cooked until most of the liquid had cooked off. I place it into an oven proof dish.
4 baking sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt and pepper
squeeze of garlic puree
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 sliced tomato
Boil the potatoes until soft and drain them. Cook the cabbage in a little water until soft and drain. Mix the potatoes and cabbage together. Add all the other ingredients except the tomato and mash really well. add more oil if its too dry.
Place the potato mixture on top of the filling and spread it all over the filling using a fork to rough up the surface. Top with slices of tomato and bake in a pre heated oven at 180c until it is bubbling and the top is browning in parts.
I made this recipe as a main dish for our Vegan daughters Christmas meal. The pastry I made from scratch but most shop bought Puff Pastry is vegan so its easy to use that too.This is what I did.
250g strong white bread flour
200g Vegan block (must be hard/solid, I bought mine from Sainsbury)
1 Tsp lemon Juice
1 tsp salt
150ml chilled water
(extra flour for dusting/ rolling)
Soya milk (for brushing to seal and glaze)
Pre heat oven 20 210c
Place flour, salt, lemon juice into a mixing bowl. Chop the vegan block into dice and add to the flour. Stir it around to coat with flour. Add about two thirds of the water and mix to form a soft dough, add more of the water if needed. At this point we do not want to blend the vegan block into the flour. Just ball it all up with cold hands, wrap in film and place in th fridge for half an hour.
Remove from fridge onto a well floured surface and roll out to about an A4 rectangle. keep dusting the pin and surface to stop it sticking. Keep the edges neat. Fold the top third down and the bottom third up to cover the top. Wrap in film and chill for half an hour.
Repeat the above twice more. Then keep in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
1 peeled and chopped onion
3 Portobello mushrooms sliced
1 Tbs oil
1 tsp Marmite
salt and pepper
Half a peeled and diced butternut squash
2 sweet potatoes unpeeled and diced
1 pouch cooked lentils
1 pouched cooked chestnuts (chopped roughly)
2 tsp chia seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 grated nutmeg
fresh sage and rosemary chopped
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 Tsp English mustard
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 small jar cranberry sauce
Preheat oven to 180c
Soften the onions and mushrooms in a frying pan in the oil, add marmite and salt and pepper.
Roast the butternut squash and the sweet potato until tender.
Remove from the oven and place into a large mixing bowl, add the onion and mushroom mixture and all the other ingredients. Stir well and chill.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out to a large rectangle about 5 mm thick. Using a pizza roller cut the pastry into two strips horizontally. The base bout a third of the pastry and the top about two thirds.
Place the base pastry on a greaseproof sheet on a baking sheet.
Mound the filling along the pastry leaving a cm uncovered all the way around.(a margin) Spread the cranberry sauce on top.
Brush the pastry margin with soya milk and the lay the top pastry over everything. Press down well to join the bottom pastry to the top and crimp with your fingers and a thumb using both hands. Brush the whole thing with soya milk and place back in the fridge to chill for about half an hour. Brush again with soya milk and bake for about 40 minutes until golden and puffed up. Any bits of pastry left can be place on the wellington before cooking as decorations.
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The Yule log or Buche de Noel is a traditional Christmas bake. Going back many centuries the Yule Log was an actual log felled at the time of the Winter Solstice when days were short and cold and at Yule time a bit of warmth from an open fire was something everyone looked forward to. This cake is decorated to resemble a log and is quite easy and fun to make.
It comprises as Genoese style cake baked on a flat sheet and rolled prior o being filled so that it remembers to be a log shape. It is then filled with either whipped double cream, buttercream or chocolate ganache. The final stage is to cover the filled cake with chocolate ganache and a sprinkling of snow (icing sugar) and a sprig of holly.
75g caster sugar
70g plain flour
(1 Tbs caster sugar and cocoa mixed together for dusting)
Grease a 26cm x 36cm baking tray and line the bottom with greaseproof paper. Preheat oven to 190c.
In a large bowl mix the eggs and the sugar with an electric mixer until very light, frothy and doubled in size. Combine the flour and cocoa and sift over the egg mixture. Using a large metal spoon carefully fold in the flour and cocoa making sure not to deflate the mixture, so be gentle. Por the batter into the tray and bake for about 8 minutes and remove from the oven.
Sprinkle the cocoa and sugar onto a sheet of clean greaseproof paper and invert the sponge on to it. peel off the paper it has been cooked on and discard it.
with a blunt knife run a line (do not cut right through the sponge) 2 cm in from one of the short ends. and roll it up with the fresh paper rolled inside it. Leave it to cool completely.
250ml double cream
250 g dark chocolate
In a medium pan warm the cream a tiny bit with the chocolate, just enough to melt the chocolate and then stir it all together. Leave to cool and set to the consistency of soft butter.
Unroll the sponge and fill with a smooth layer of a filling of your choice. Roll the sponge back up and cover with the ganache. use a fork or the back of a knife to give a log like appearance. Dust with a little icing sugar.
Everyone in my family loves a mince pie including me. I am also very partial to anything involving marzipan so I like to top my pies with frangipane instead of pastry.
The mincemeat recipe is already on this site under its own post so check that out if you want to make mincemeat or you can buy a juicy jar most places around Christmas.
200g Plain Flour
115g g cold cubed butter
50g caster sugar
1 beaten egg
1 tsp almond essence
Place the flour and butter into a mixing bowl and rub the butter in using fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Add the beaten egg and essence and using a flat bladed knife mix around until it starts to clump together, Use hands to bring it together into a ball and wrap in kitchen film. Chill in the fridge for thirty minutes.
100g softened butter
100g caster sugar
2 beaten eggs
100g ground almonds
1 Tbs plain Flour
1 tsp almond essence
Flaked almonds for decoration
Cream the butter and sugar together using an electric whisk. Add all the other ingredients and mix well.
Assembly and Baking
Pre Heat Oven to 180c
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface until the pastry is about the thickness of a pound coin. Using a 3,5inch round cutter stamp out twelve discs. Ease the discs into the greased holes of a deep cupcake tin. Place a tablespoon of mincemeat into the bottom and top with frangipane. Smooth the surface. scatter a few flaked almonds onto the top and bake for about 20 minutes until the frangipane has set and is golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes and the carefully ease them out and leave to cool or eat warm with a dollop of cream! Don’t forget to leave one out for Father Christmas!
At this time of year, when the days get shorter and the trees are starting to drop their Autumn leaves, we often look forward to making and enjoying comfort food. Most people consider comfort food to be hearty casseroles, stews and pies. This recipe is a cross between a casserole and a pie, it is easy to make and will appeal to people of all ages. It can easily be made vegetarian and with a few specialist ingredients, vegan too. The gravy is an interesting combination of sweet and sour using cider and balsamic vinegar as its base. Apple juice can easily be substituted if you don’t want to use alcohol.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tablespoon oil
8 thick pork sausages
1 large onion sliced thinly
3 carrots sliced or diced
2 sticks celery chopped
1 parsnip chopped
1 small leek sliced into rings
1 eating apple cored and chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
1 heaped teaspoon honey
1 stock cube
Salt and pepper
1 Tbs cornflour mixed with water
200g SR Flour
50g soft butter or margarine
Salt, pepper, mustard mixture (tsp each)
1 egg beaten with 50ml milk
Pre heat oven to Fan 180 or regular 200, gas mark 6
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the sausages. Cook for a few minutes until well browned, do not prick the skins as this will keep the sausages juicy inside. When the sausages are a good colour remove to an ovenproof casserole dish. In the same frying pan add the onions (a little more oil if required) and cook until starting to look translucent then add all the other vegetables and the apple and cook stirring frequently for a few minutes. This will start to soften the vegetables. Add the salt and pepper to taste and the mustard and the honey. Add the contents of the pan to the casserole dish. To deglaze the frying pan, add the cider and bring to the boil, add the vinegar and the water, sprinkle on the stock cube. Pour this liquid into the casserole dish. Stir the contents of the casserole dish and cover with a lid or tin foil and place into the oven. Bake for about 45minutes until the vegetables are tender.
During this time make the cobbler. Add the butter to the self-rising flour and rub in with fingers tips, Add the seasoning and mustard. Add the egg milk mixture bit by bit until you can form a dough that will roll out. Reserve a little egg mixture for glazing. Pat or roll the dough until it is about 2 cm thick and cut out rounds using a small cutter.
When the vegetables are tender take the casserole out of the oven. Remove the lid or foil and pour in the cornflour water, stirring it all around. This will thicken the gravy. Place the cobbler rounds around the circumference of the dish. Brush the tops with a little egg mixture. Put back into the oven and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes until the cobblers are risen and golden brown.
Well as promised this is the last blog of the current run. We have had such a great trip away and writing this blog each day has made me stay motivated to get the most out of everything. Today we have stayed onsite most of the time bar a bit of grocery shopping. I have got up to speed with some admin, remember a caravan can be lots of things and today it has been office.
I took a walk around the site here at Brighton. There are so many different styles of leisure vehicles around. Here are a couple of pictures of two that took my eye. The teasel shot was the hedgerow up on the top level where there are some gorgeous glamping pods. This site has three different styles of glamp to choose from, the new glamping ones here
These pods are very new and are very modern and well equipped, designated parking bays, bike shelters too. There are two of the more traditional wooden pods near reception plus two beautiful airstreams.
Brighton is a very popular site as the town has so many attractions on offer. Its such a brilliant idea to be able to hire a unit, excellent value too.
While I was walking about someone called my name. It was Tom that does the filming and what have you got for the Caravan and Motorhome Club, he was onsite with Bill from the online publication Caravan Times. We had a good old catch up, he is operating a zoom call for me with Matt Allwright next week so he was able to tell me a bit about how that will work out. Such a small world is campsite life.
The campsite has a playground for young children and a dog stretch leg area too. Didn’t see any children this time as its back to school now but plenty of great dogs, most of them just watching the world go by.
John and I had a quick boule off! I actually won, must be a fluke that as I am normally rubbish. This was a set of boule I bought for birthday boy as he was embarrassed playing with the plastic coloured ones we had in the van. So good to spend a day pottering around. Just one more sleep and one more dinner before we up legs, hitch up and go back to Wakefield.
Here is the last supper. Modified from a Rick Stein recipe its a Croatian casserole. I made it in the slow cooker, beef in balsamic vinegar with red wine, lardons, apples and dates, sort of a European sweet and sour.
So its home sweet home tomorrow, a journey of about six hours will just about do it. We have had the most fantastic touring trip and already planning the next one. Thanks for following my shenanigans and look forward to inviting you along again soon. Thanks to the Caravan and Motorhome Club wardens we have had the pleasure of meeting, some for the first time some from previous trips, Heidi Hi!
If you read my last blog then you are up to speed with the makeshift cake we made for Silke’s birthday. When we brought it out on the birthday itself it had actually shifted, if you look you can see it is sloping. Fortunately the rainbow propped it up so we just told Silke the unicorn was having a snooze. She was of course delighted with her cake, which is all that matters. Four year olds can easily HATE things if they take against things!
With a slice of sugary cake inside her Silke had plenty of energy that needed to be spent. A swift ribbon dancing session did the trick and then we sat down to a game of pass the parcel. After a few tears initially when the parcel didn’t stop with her every time she did eventually understand the concept and enjoyed us all getting a chance to unwrap a treat, I got a temporary tattoo (2 days later it still is firmly in place, so pleased I didn’t go with her wish of sticking it on my forehead). Of course by some miracle the final unwrap landed on her lap and she won the prize.
With the birthday celebrations finished we made our way back once again to the campsite. As I said before the buses in Brighton are so frequent and in all directions we never wait more than a couple of minutes and then the ride up towards the Marina where the campsite is takes about ten minutes or so.
Once off the bus there is a very pleasant ten minute walk over the park to get back to the campsite. Look what we found this time, on the tennis courts there appeared a pop up Covid Testing tent!
The next day the weather looked very good. We needed to go back to see the family again as this time it was Silke’s dads birthday and we were going to look after her so they could go out for a spot of lunch. We togged ourselves up for a brisk walk from the campsite into town. The sky was what I always call Brighton Blue and everything looks so cheerful and like a proper seaside with that sky as a backdrop. The walk takes about three quarters of an hour and its along the front pretty much all of the way. There is a little train that runs from quite close to the Marina down to near the Pier. It is called The Volks Train. https://volksrailway.org.uk/ The train was originally opened in 1883. It was invented by Magnus Volks and is the worlds oldest operating electric railway. So if you fancy taking the weight of your legs on the walk perhaps you could try this.
We carried on shanks pony and the next thing on my radar was this statue, who is it? this fine athlete?
We finally made it to the Pier. Not too busy today but everything was open and it is free to have a stroll along. Here is the link for you.https://www.brightonpier.co.uk/
of course this is not the first pier in Brighton. The original pier was opened in 1866. It is opposite The Grand hotel and was the first pier to be Grade 1 listed. It became derelict and was closed in 1975. The bad storms in 2002 caused lots more damage and then fires destroyed most of the remaining structure. Its framework still remains and we love to watch the massive murmuration of starlings at sundown.
My all time favourite funfair ride is the galloping horses or as it is properly called, a carousel. As we walked along I spotted it was up and running. The cost was three pounds so I hopped aboard. Everything was wiped down before you take a saddle and then the music fires up and off we went. I loved it, big kid!
Almost at our destination just two more photo opportunities to squeeze in the walk. The British Airways Eye360 can be seen from miles away. I have still not plucked up the courage to take a ride but it is on my list of must do things. On a bright day like today it must have been fab up there.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Airways_i360 I decided today a selfie would have to do.
This photo is of this gorgeous bandstand that is registered for weddings. Underneath it there is a cute café with inside and outside seating. I have yet to see a wedding taking place but sure it would be so romantic, perhaps if I get married again lol!
It is our last day of this caravan trip tomorrow and we are staying on site. I shall take a few pics and post them on my last blog. We intend to have a game of boule, a few drinks and a gentle day doing nothing in particular, see you tomorrow!
Day 15, getting there readers, this blog is drawing towards its end, we have only a few more days then we head home once again. The weather did exactly what had been forecast and it hammered it down. There is something rather nice about being tucked up under a tin roof with the sound of wind and rain gusting about outside, I am not even kidding, it is cosy! I talked about September birthdays yesterday and how there seems to be an abundance of them. Our granddaughter Silke is four on September 25th. Each year I try to make her a decent cake, having been on The Great British Bake Off it is to be expected of me. Every year I fail. Its always because I am away from home, in the caravan. This year I forgot all my tools bar some nozzles. Due to the rule of 6 she cant have a party so we only needed a little something. Challenge was on to make something out of shop bought cake and icing using whatever I could fashion as tools!
Birthday girls mum is my eldest daughter Katharine aka Kit. Here you see we have bought a red velvet and vegan lemon cakes from the supermarket. Paul Hollywood detests even a shop bought sprinkle lol! We split the cakes and stacked them and then we start to cover them in buttercream from a tub.
We needed to smooth the buttercream around and an top of the cake. To do this I found a bit of laminated cardboard with enough flexibility to cope. Normally I would use a turntable but not one to be had or a lazy Susan so we just had to cope. If I had longer to chill the layers in a fridge it would have been better but birthday girls was only out of the house a short time and the cake is a surprise (surprise to me too as to how it will look in the end). For the eyes and mouth I just dragged a skewer with edible colour on the tip and hoped for the best. Lopsided if you look closely!
With the help of my nozzles that I had packed we frosted up a mane and tail. Trusty glitter sprays are always with me so they glam things up a bit. I had made the horn, ears, rainbow and letters at home using edible modelling paste and had sprayed and hand painted those so they make it look a bit better.
So that done we hid the cake in a cool place ready for the next day. We wrapped up some presents and John and I made our way back to the campsite. Fortunately in Brighton there is no shortage of buses and we only had to wait a couple of minutes with the rain thrashing down everywhere.
A quick gallop over the field in the park once off the bus and I was warm and dry with a glass of plonk once again.
Remember the Elkie Brookes song, Sunshine After the Rain? well within ten minutes of the last photo we had a double rainbow!! Quite apt since we are in rainbow Brighton and I had just done the rainbow unicorn cake, all well with the world!
Here endeth day 15, thanks for reading and same time same place tomorrow!
Day 14 of this caravan blog off is all about John. John my husband of thirty years looks forward to his birthday. He tries very hard to discover what his presents are and for sure would be trying to guess what they are. He was 73 yesterday…… unbelievable, how could that be? It seems the third week in September has the most birthdays, something to do with it being 9 months after Xmas, too many tipples maybe! Anyway, we have three birthdays in this one week and Johns comes in first. Last week you might remember that Terry cooked an eggs benedict when we were still in Malvern. I decided to do the same dish for birthday breakfast. It worked perfectly and we both ate every scrap.
After John had opened his presents and his six cards (as you get older you get less cards not more, unless you are Sir Tom lol) We got ready to go out for a couple of hours. Our daughter Kit, her partner Finn and the baby were collecting us to go out for a spot of lunch. The weather was blustery and showery so we got our cagoules on and out we went.
Our carriage collected us from outside the Caravan and Motorhome Club site here at Brighton and we drove just a couple of miles to Rottingdean. After trying to find a country style pub but failing to find parking we settled for a Greene King chain pub called The White Horse. It was perfectly fine. In fact it had a commanding view of the choppy sea. All Covid measures in place and fab people looking after us. John loves fish and chips so I gave in once again and had the same. We did discover they do a decent vegan menu too.
After such a big breakfast and lunch the next thing on our agenda was a snooze! We were dropped off at the site and got settled down for a couple of hours rest. John started to have a look at his presents. We call him Mapman sometimes as he is very keen on maps. Our girls had ordered an ordnance survey jigsaw of where we live for him, hours of fun ahead!
I needed to reset myself as I had volunteered to cook for the last of this seasons run of cook a long live with Great British Food Festivals. Normally I work with this company and do live cooking and baking demos at their food festivals up and down the country. With everything scrapped for this year they decided to do some fun cook a longs on YouTube. As it was Johns birthday I said I would demo my take on beef stroganoff. This involves setting my phone up and zooming using my tripod, here you see me setting up. below the pic you can see the link to take a look.
The recipe worked out for everyone and we had a good laugh along the way. You can still view all of the cook a long sessions on the Great British Food Festivals Youtube. We set the table and opened a very good bottle of Burgundy that our girls had given to John and tucked in once again.
After we had cleared away John started on his presents again, thank goodness not the jigsaw. I had bought him a book that Matt Allwright (him off telly) had published last month. Matt and I did a little forum together at the NEC caravan motorhome club show back in February and he is so lovely and I felt confident John would love the book. He does, glued to it! Look here he is… I bought it through Amazon, here is the link
So there we have it, for once a blog that is not all about me 🙂 Now I need to get myself organised for the next birthday looming, Silke turns 4 on day 16 blog, I need to sort a cake!
Day 13 started with a quick radio interview with BBC Radio Sheffield. All Bake Off chatter as the new series starts tonight. It is much heralded due to the filming conditions around a Covid bubble. Well done to Love Productions for pulling it off.
After that we needed to get some groceries. There is a big Asda close to the campsite here at Brighton or a Lidl, plus lots of small shops. On the way back into the site we spotted something new, hire bikes! Then lo and behold an Air Ambulance landed at the side of us. Very exciting for a Tuesday morning.
We had made plans to go to the beach today as it was forecast to be the last warm day of the current good spell. It is also the Autumn equinox so it seemed a symbolic day to have a dip in the briny. Our daughter suggested a quiet beach close to the campsite at Ovingdean. It was perfect as we had our little granddaughter Silke and baby grandson Nicu with us. We timed it so that we got there when it was low tide and we could have a poke about in the rockpools.
Then we found a patch of sand on the otherwise pebble beach. It was time for a bit of sandcastle building. Silke was determined to go it alone.
We had a snack from the very good small cafe and a cold drink and we waited for the tide to come in a bit so we could have a dip. The weather changed very suddenly and became over cast and cool. Autumn arrived, just like that. We stripped off and in we went. I must admit I took quite a bit of cajoling but once in it was perfect. There is something called grounding apparently which is best done in a body of water, good for the soul and all of that. I must admit it was very exhilarating, I loved it.
After we came out of the sea it was time to head back to the caravan and have a good hot shower in the facilities block and freshen up. The facilities here on the Caravan and Motorhome Club site are spotless, warm and even have piped radio playing! We had a cuppa and then headed into town on the bus. Remember it is Bake Off tonight and we were going to watch it at our daughters flat. We ordered in a takeaway, a very rare treat and settled down to enjoy. Silke went off to bed but baby Nicu stayed up a while, he is the most smiley baby ever.
We all thought the first episode was very good. The bakers were very relaxed and they did look to be having the best time. It is a very unique experience and the show is very special, iconic really. After we had dissected the show and had a couple of drinks we headed back home (caravan) ready for day 14, which will be Johns birthday, so more high jinx to come!