29 April 2013

Baked onion squash soup

This soup that I found in Simon Hopkinson's book, The Vegetarian Option p. 40, is so spectacular that I'm sure I'll be making it over and over again. It's a crossover between a baked pumpkin and a pumpkin soup and also the look is so irresistible.

Hopkinson's version is called ”Pumpkin soup Paul Bocuse” and is based on a French chef's recipe. I had to try it instantly when I saw it although mine once again is my own interpretation. I didn't even use a pumpkin but an onion squash instead as the main ingredient and made two different versions: a vegan and a vegetarian option. Onion squash is earthy nutty and sweet and I found it ideal for this soup, it also looked extremely cute.

Ingredients for the vegan version:

1 onion squash
1 cup red lentils
Vegetable stock
½ onion
2 cloves of garlic
Bread crumbs
Chili flakes


Pre-boil the lentils in stock until they are almost soft. Chop the onion and garlic and fry them lightly in a separate pan. Add the lentils and vegetable stock to the pan and keep simmering for a while. Season with salt, pepper, thyme and chili flakes. Add the bread crumbs only if the soup is not thick enough.

Carve the squash. First cut a small lid off, then remove the seeds.

Ladle the lentil mix to the squash, place the lid back on and bake in an oven dish at 180C for about an hour until the squash is fully baked soft and has received some dark bits. If the squash gets too dark too quickly, lower the heat a bit.

One squash makes a huge dish as the whole squash is edible. I would suggest to save some of the baked squash if it's too mighty for you or to share one between two people.

Ingredients for the vegetarian version:

1 onion squash
Vegetable stock
½ onion
2 cloves of garlic
Emmental grated
Vegetarian pasta cheese grated
200ml double cream


Chop the onion and garlic and fry them for a short while. Add the cream to the mix and let it infuse at low heat under a lid for about 15 minutes. Season the sauce with thyme, salt and pepper. In the meanwhile grate the cheeses.

Carve the squash. First cut a small lid off, then remove the seeds.

Put some grated cheese into the bottom of the squash and ladle the creamy sauce into it. Add more cheese on the top and place the lid back on. Then bake in an oven dish at 180C for about an hour until the squash is fully baked soft and has received some dark bits. If the squash gets too dark too quickly, lower the heat a bit. The cream sucks in some lovely squash flavour.

Enjoy warm!

Your VegHog

28 April 2013

Insalata Caprese - Tomato, mozzarella and basil salad

Lets' start hoping that summer comes at some stage even to Britain and plan some light summer meals. Insalata caprese is the best summer salad I can think of: it's fresh and cool and light. The ingredient list is also nice and simple:
Fresh basil leaves
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Slice the tomatoes and the mozzarella. Place them on a plate, a slice of tomato underneath and a slice of mozzarella on the top of each tomato slice. Put basil leaves here and there. Season with little salt and pepper and olive oil and balsamic vinegar and the salad is ready to be enjoyed.

Best served as a summer lunch on its own or paired with lovely pasta or ciabatta.

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

Pineapple upside-down cake

I love pineapple but have never made this classic cake before, or any upside-down cake whatsoever. I made mini versions and a large one and they turned out quite nice. This is a fairly easy cake to make and it looks adorable.

Traditionally a cherry is placed into the center of the pineapple slices but I decided to replace it with a grape as I'm not the best friend of cherries. It turned out that the baking made the grapes taste like rhubarb, which was quite a funny twist.

As a guideline I used this recipe.


50g butter
50g sugar
Pineapple slices in syrup
A few grapes


100g butter
100g sugar
100g flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
4tbsp pineapple syrup

For the topping whisk soft butter with sugar and brush it to the cake tin. Place the pineapples on it and grapes to the center of the pineapple rings.

Use only one pineapple per tin if you make the mini versions.

Whisk the cake base ingredients together and put it on the pineapples.

Bake for about 35 minutes at 180C and enjoy with coffee.

Your VegHog

25 April 2013

Tofu and vegetable noodles

Today I'm trying out my Asian style cooking skills because I was inspired by a friend's dish. It's slightly out of my comfort zone but I think the result was fairly nice tasting. I'm not going to be very precise with the ingredient amounts (see approximately how much I used on the ingredient photos) as there needs to be a certain experimental approach for the seasoning.


Wholewheat and buckwheat noodles
Smoked tofu
Shiitake mushrooms
Sugarsnap peas
Soy sauce
Rice wine
Umami paste
Groundnut oil
Sesame oil

Chop the tofu into small bits and start frying them in the groundnut oil. The smoked tofu is a nice touch as there's no need to marinate it beforehand. Also chop the chili, shallots, garlic and ginger.

When tofu is fried so it's bouncy and firm add the chili, shallots, garlic and ginger to the pan. Fry these for a while and then chop the shiitake and add them to the pan. Add some sesame oil as well at this stage. Finally add the sugarsnap peas, cut them in half if you prefer, and add good splashes of soy sauce and rice wine until it tastes right. Then you can also add a little umami paste or miso to make the dish more savoury or just add extra soy sauce. The sugarsnap peas are done within a few minutes if you want them to be a bit crunchy.

Simultaneously boil the noodles in water. When they are soft drain and stir them in to the rest of the mix. Slice the radish as garnish. Check for seasoning and serve!

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

22 April 2013

Butternut squash rye pie

This is a savoury pie with a crispy crust and soft hearty filling made with one of my favourites, butternut squash.

The crust:

4dl Rye flour
3dl Wheat flour
1 cup lukewarm water
25gr dry yeast

The filling:

½ Butternut squash
3 Spring onions
Leicester cheese grated
White pepper

For the crust mix the two types of flour, yeast and salt with lukewarm water. Knead it to a firm dough by adding more water or flour if needed. Towards the end add some oil and let the dough rise for about 40 minutes under a tea towel.

Slice the butternut squash. Boil the slices in water until they are soft and then mash them.

Chop the spring onions finely and grate the cheese. Mix these to the butternut squash mash and season with some rosemary leaves, salt and white pepper.

Once your dough has risen divide it into 1/3 and 2/3 parts. Roll both parts out thinly and place the larger one into a pie tin. I used a pie tin with 20cm diameter. Then scoop in the butternut squash filling and place the smaller dough part as a lid. Cut some breathing holes on the lid.

Bake at 190C for about 30 minutes until the crust is crispy and enjoy some hearty pie goodness.

Your VegHog

21 April 2013

Lentil burgers

The VegHog is absolutely crazy about different vegetarian burgers. It's so much fun to invent new veggie burgers. This time I have made very wholesome lentil burgers that are rich in protein. My recipe makes about 15 burgers but I would recommend freezing some of them in order to be able to warm them up quickly on other occasions.


1 cup of red lentils
1 cup of green lentils
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
1 carrot
100g smoky cheddar grated
3 eggs
2-3 vegatable stock cubes
Spelt flour

I made them like this:

Bring water to boil and put a vegetable stock cube or two into the water. Cook the rinsed red lentils in there and make the same arrangement for the rinsed green lentils. I like to cook them separately as the green lentils need slightly longer to get ready. Try not to let the lentils get too mushy. They should be soft but it's nice to have some whole lentils in the burgers as well.

In the meanwhile chop the onion and garlic and grate the carrot and the smoky cheddar cheese. Put them into a mixing bowl. When the lentils are cooked let them cool down. Then put them to the bowl with the cheese, onion, garlic and carrot. Season with salt and pepper, add the eggs and mix everything thoroughly together. Add a dash of spelt flour to bind the mix to an even burger dough. It should be firm enough not to fall apart in the frying pan.

Heat a generous amount of oil in a frying pan and shape burgers from the dough. Fry the burgers at a medium heat until they are crispy on both sides and fully cooked inside.

I served these lentil burgers with char-grilled halloumi, my carrot and spelt rolls, oven wedges and fresh pea shoots. You can find the recipes for the carrot and spelt rolls and oven wedges in my blog posted previously this month.

If you want to make the same combination I would recommend baking the rolls first and making the oven potatoes. Then you can char-grill the halloumi on a griddle pan simultaneously with the burger frying.

Put some pea shoots on the side and between the burgers and it gives some freshness to the dish. The spelt rolls and potato wedges give a lovely rustic feel to the burgers and this dish is very filling.

Veganise it! You can easily make a vegan version as well by leaving out the cheese and eggs. Then the texture is more fragile and you need to be more careful with the frying. For the vegan version I would also replace the spelt flour with potato flour as that binds the dough better together.

Of course you could also serve these burgers with a smooth potato mash and steamed or roasted vegetables. The possibilities are basically endless.

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

19 April 2013

White asparagus soup

Asparagus is in season now, so it's the perfect time to get some lovely local produce and try this soup.

I made this white asparagus soup inspired by a German spring classic Spargelsuppe, which is a white asparagus soup but typically made buttery and creamy in comparison to my lighter vegan version. I also added potatoes to make it more filling and therefore the asparagus taste isn't as strong as in the pure asparagus soup.


A bunch of white asparagus
A few potatoes
1 Shallot
2-3 cups of vegetable stock

This is how it's done:

White asparagus needs peeling, so peel them and the potatoes. Then chop the asparagus into one inch length pieces and quarter the potatoes. Chop the shallot as well.

Heat some oil in a pan and first fry the onions for a while. Then add the potatoes and again after a while the asparagus pieces. Stir and fry for a moment and add the vegetable stock.

Let simmer under lid by occasionally stirring until potatoes and asparagus are tender. Add more vegetable stock at any point if needed. Season the soup with fresh thyme, salt and pepper and then puree it. Let simmer a while more after pureeing and serve hot.

And there you have it: a simple spring soup.


Your VegHog

17 April 2013

Gnocchi and spinach bake

Let's continue with the green vegetables in an Italian style setting also today. I have previously shown how to make homemade gnocchi, which are Italian potato dumplings, and now I'm going to make a tasty oven bake with them. You can read my basic gnocchi making tips here.

This recipe makes a huge portion that would serve around four people. For this bake I would start by making the gnocchi first.

The gnocchi:

½ kg Potatoes
1 dl Wheat flour
1 tsp Salt

These amounts are approximate and flour should be added carefully while checking the texture of the dough. It's important to get a texture that holds together at the boiling stage and is neither too soggy nor floury. After a couple of times making gnocchi you'll know what I'm talking about.

Peel the potatoes and boil them for about 30 minutes until they are soft and let them cool down. Then mash the potatoes. Pressing through a potato ricer avoids lumps. Add a pinch of salt and some flour into the bowl and mix and knead until you have a bouncy firm paste that can easily be shaped.

Shape the dough into small balls and boil them in water until they float on the surface.

The sauce:

200g Spinach
A few pine nuts
2 Cloves of garlic
1 Red onion
A glass of white wine
Vegetable stock cube or powder
Basil leaves
Olive oil

Chop the onion and fry it in olive oil until translucent. Chop the garlic and add it to the pan along with the pine nuts and spinach and fry them for a couple of minutes. Then pour in the wine and dissolve a little stock powder (or a cube) into the wine as it comes to the boil. Grate nutmeg into the sauce and let it simmer for further 10 minutes. Add a little chopped basil towards the end.

The bake:

Grated mozzarella

Mix the gnocchi with the sauce and put everything into an oven dish. Cover with grated mozzarella and bake at 180C until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

16 April 2013

Tagliatelle with zucchini and asparagus

This is a simple and light pasta dish made with lovely fresh and green ingredients. It's perfect for a busy weekday as you can prepare everything within half an hour. You could also make a wine-free variation for kids and easily fool them into eating green veg as the dish looks quite funny.


Tagliatelle pasta
1 Zucchini
1 Bunch of asparagus
1 Onion
2 Cloves of garlic
1 Glass of white wine
Olive oil
Mozzarella cheese

Chop the onion and garlic. Cut the asparagus into length of about 2-3cm. Shave zucchini slices with a cheese slicer and cut the long slices in half so that they resemble tagliatelle.

Heat olive oil in a pan and start by frying the onion and garlic. Add the zucchini and asparagus to the pan and stir at moderate heat. When the zucchini is starting to get translucent add a glass of white wine and let it evaporate.

Boil the pasta to an al dente state. Season the sauce with fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper and mix it with the pasta. For serving sprinkle grated mozzarella on top.

15 April 2013

Chili and Cheddar muffins

Savoury muffins are rather great and quirky but also easy to make. With the spiciness of these you could easily surprise your friends.
Makes about 15 muffins:

150g Butter
3 Eggs
3dl Flour
3tsp Baking powder
1tsp Salt
1/2dl Milk
2dl Grated chili Cheddar
Packet of chili soft cheese

Grate the cheese. Instead of the chili Cheddar also regular Cheddar or some other cheese could be used and fresh or dried chili added to the mix.

Mix the eggs and cheese with a hand mixer. Mix the dry ingredients together and add them to the cheese mix with the melted butter and milk. Mix it all to an even paste, which would look like a normal muffin dough but only taste savoury.

Put the paste into muffin cases up to approximately the middle and bake at 200C for about 20 minutes when the muffins have risen and received some golden brown colour.

Let the muffins cool down and top them with a soft cheese icing. Squirt soft cheese through an icing gun on the top of the muffins. The icing can also be left out as the muffins are quite cheesy and tasty even without it.

Happy baking moments!

Your VegHog

Pizza funghi

I thought I'd make another pizza again. Can there ever be too much pizza, especially mushroom pizza? Here's my previous variation and this one is going to be fairly similar. 


For the base:

Wheat flour
Rye flour
Dry yeast
Olive oil

For the sauce:

Olive oil

For the topping:

Closed cup mushrooms
Red onion
Mozzarella cheese


First make the dough for the base. I deliberately didn't give the amounts as this is something I always do by feeling the texture of the dough. With just a little bit of practice you'll know when it feels right. Mix the dry ingredients together, add lukewarm water and knead. When you have the correct texture add some olive oil and knead little longer. Then let the dough rise in a bowl covered with a tea towel.

Then prepare the tomato sauce by de-skinning the tomatoes, chopping the onions and garlic and frying it all in a pan until it has a saucy texture. Season with basil or with oregano if you prefer.

Chop the mushrooms and onion for the topping and grate the cheese. Roll out the dough thinly and put the sauce and toppings on it. Bake for about 15 minutes at 220C and enjoy hot.

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog