28 January 2017

The VegHog's Cheap Eats Week 2017

I want to have another Cheap Eats Week again this year, as I quite enjoyed it last year. Another reason is that I'm currently trying to save money, and what could be better than to enjoy a balanced and versatile vegetarian diet without spending a lot of money.

The VegHog's Cheap Eats Week 2017 will take place 6.-12.02. So in the second week of February I will be posting all kinds of economical vegetarian dishes myself, and I also would very much like you to participate and share your economical cooking ideas.

Simply post an economical vegetarian or vegan recipe, or a general post about low cost vegetarian eating, from now on until the midnight 11th February on your blog, share the recipe with me and it will be featured in a round up on the last day. You can use The VegHog's Cheap Eats Week picture in your post and link back to this post.

Please paste the link to your entry to the comment box below. If you are also tweeting or instagramming your entry, please also add @TheVegHog and #veghogscheapeats.

I look forward to seeing great moneysaving tips from you!

If you want to see what I got up to in last year's Cheap Eats, you'll find the links to the recipes below:

Let's save some more money this year!

Your VegHog

Braised cauliflower, roast potatoes and beurre blanc

This was our last Sunday's dinner and I think I might fancy something similar tomorrow, as I still almost taste it in my mouth by looking at these pictures. I made braised cauliflower with white wine and cheese, proper crispy roast potatoes and beurre blanc with pink and green peppercorns. It was all heavenly good and comforting. The original plan was to braise a fennel, but as the shop didn't have any, I opted for cauliflower. This was such a good combination, it just needs a little bit effort and time with the different cooking times and phases. 

Here's how I made this dish.

Braised cauliflower

1 small cauliflower
1 shallot
5 cloves of garlic
2 tsp vegetable stock powder
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
25 g butter
200 ml white wine
50 g vegetarian pasta cheese

Cut the cauliflower into thin slices. Chop the shallot into rings and the garlic into slices.

Place them all into an oven dish with the seasoning and wine. Cover with foil and slow-cook in the oven at about 150 C for about 1,5 hours.

Mix the grated vegetarian pasta cheese into the liquid in the dish and sprinkle some on the top. Return to the oven for further 10 minutes.

Roast potatoes

400 g potatoes
½ cup olive oil
Sprinkle of salt

Peel the potatoes and cut them into pieces. Cook them for about 15 minutes in water until soft. Drain the water and dry cook the potatoes for a while to remove excess liquid.

Heat the olive oil in the oven on a baking tray and put the potatoes on there. Roast at 200 C for about 40 minutes. Turn the potatoes around and roast for further 30 minutes.

Beurre blanc

1 small shallot
150 ml white wine
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
125 g butter
Pink peppercorns
Green peppercorns

Chop the shallot finely and heat them with the wine and vinegar in a pot. Reduce until about the half or 2/3 of the liquid have cooked off.

Remove the shallot with a sieve leaving just a clear liquid. Add the cold butter into the liquid, a small piece at a time and keep whisking. Then add the peppercorns.

And all is done, enjoy!

Have a great weekend!

Your VegHog

26 January 2017

Cheese and onion pie

Maybe it’s already over for me with the healthy eating boost to the new year. I’m not sure, but lately in this chillier weather I have been craving for heavier dinners. It has been chilly and foggy over here, almost feeling like winter. January has been so long, but unfortunately not such a productive blogging month for me. I’m confident that it will get better towards the spring.

I suddenly remembered this favourite of mine, Simon Hopkinson’s mother’s cheese and onion pie, and simply had to make it. I have made this pie for several times. It's so full of cheese and onion goodness and it's a tough one to beat as a winter favourite. I pretty much followed the recipe that I have already shared on my blog here. I only added some dry cider to the onions this time, and it was a very tasty addition, I can only recommend it. I also made the pie in a slightly lower pie dish this time, and obviously the decorations were different. It's nice to spend a couple of extra minutes making cute surfaces for covered pies. This time I went with the hedgehog theme. This would also make a nice centrepiece when inviting friends over.

The original recipe is by Simon Hopkinson, My mother's cheese and onion pie. It's also in his vegetarian cookbook and was made by him in his BBC cooking programme. I can only recommend this recipe!

Your VegHog

22 January 2017

Bento boxes

I really admire the art of bento boxes. People make such an effort making the cutest lunches and I wish I would have such vegetable cutting skills. I bought some rice moulds in animal and other shapes, and wanted to make a nice lunch for my partner and I. This is my first attempt using the moulds, but I'm sure there will be many more as it was a lot of fun.

I served the rice onigiri with fresh vegetables and a soy-chilli-mirin-sesameseed oil sauce. It was a tasty and filling lunch and brought a smile to my face in the middle of a hectic working day.

21 January 2017

Wild mushroom and crown prince squash spelt risotto

Hello everyone! It's a beautiful sunny Saturday and I'm soon heading to the countryside for a walk. I haven't been very active outdoors lately, so this will do me some good. Before I go I want to share a recipe from this week, a wild mushroom and crown prince squash spelt risotto.

The beauty of this spelt risotto is that you can have most of the ingredients ready to go in your dry cupboard. You can use whatever nutty squash you have and various dried wild mushrooms. The kalettes are also optional, although it's nice to have something green here. 

Wild mushroom and crown prince squash spelt risotto


1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 small crown prince squash or other nutty squash
1 tbsp vegetable oil
15 g dried chanterelles or other wild mushrooms
500 ml vegetable stock
1 cup pearled spelt
15 g butter
Fresh parsley to taste
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
100 g kalettes
70 g grated Havarti cheese


Chop the onion and garlic finely. Peel and cut the squash into squares. In the meanwhile heat up the vegetable stock. Crumble the dried mushrooms into the stock and keep it warm.

Start cooking the onion first in a pan in vegetable oil. Fry until soft and browned. Then add the squash pieces. Fry them also for a few minutes and then add the garlic.

After a while add the butter and let it melt. Mix in the pearled spelt. Add a few ladles of the vegetable stock and simmer the risotto under the lid. Keep adding stock and stirring regularly so that the pan doesn’t dry up.

Season the risotto and add the kalettes and cheese a few minutes before serving.


Have a great weekend!

Your VegHog

17 January 2017

Falafel platter

I made a hearty falafel platter on Sunday and I really enjoyed it. It was filled with homemade falafel, veggies, halloumi and hummus. This was just my kind of platter and the left-overs fed us for two further lunches, as it was incredibly filling. This dish is easy to veganise by simply leaving out the halloumi, everything else is vegan.

I used a slightly different method in the falafel making by oven baking them, or basically just grilling them under the grill setting in the oven. I also got to use these lovely Hodmedod's split dried fava beans, which are an excellent ingredient. Please read more details below how to make these falafel.


10 chunky falafel

1 cup split dried fava beans
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 onion
5 garlic cloves
2 small chillies
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
Bunch fresh coriander
Bunch fresh parsley


Homemade hummus
Salad with lettuce, cherry tomatoes and grated carrots
Pomegranate seeds
Fried halloumi
Char-grilled bell peppers
Pita bread


Cook the fava beans and chickpeas until they are done. I decided to cook them, although in some falafel recipes they are just soaked.

Chop the onion, garlic and chillies finely and cook them briefly in vegetable oil in a pan until they are soft and the onions slightly browned.

Season the onion mix and add the fresh herbs, fava beans and chickpeas to the mix and purée. I like to purée the mix just partially, still leaving some chickpeas whole.

Shape chunky falafel from the mix and grill them in the oven under the highest grill setting for a few minutes. Turn to grill the other side as well.

I would like to share the falafel recipe with this month's My Legume Love Affair challenge hosted by Rafeeda from The Big Sweet Tooth and co-hosted by Lisa from Lisa's Kitchen.

Have further a nice week!

Your VegHog

14 January 2017

Mixed vegetable and cheese tartlets

I love making vegetable tarts and mini tartlets, as they are just so nice as freshly baked snacks. They are brilliant even later or as a work lunch.

The beauty of these tarts is that you can take whatever left-over vegetables you have and add them here, even small amounts are fine, as not so much is needed. I happened to have some kalettes, what an earth are they? Well they seem to call the flower sprout looking mini kales now kalettes. I might have missed something, probably a re-branding? Anyway I like them, they are healthy and look so cute. For these tarts I shredded them to smaller pieces.

I rarely make my own pastry, which makes these tartlets super easy. For these I just took a little bit of ready made and rolled out shortcrust pastry, cut pieces from it with cookie cutter and placed them into silicone muffin cases.

Then I prepped the filling. I pre-cooked the pepper, tomatoes, onion and garlic in a pan, so that they were already softened, and seasoned them. I placed them onto the pastry, added the kalettes and cheese and baked until golden.

These were so good, they melted in the mouth! Here are the ingredients I used:

Shortcrust pastry
Romano pepper
Cherry tomatoes
Basil leaves

Have a nice weekend!

Your VegHog

13 January 2017

Quick stir fry kind of day

Vegan stir frys are just perfect for hectic weekdays. They are so quick to make after a bit of prep, taste good and are also nutritious and filling. I normally add tofu and noodles into my stir frys, as they make them extra wholesome, and this recipe was no different. The dish may look a bit pale and knackered, but I can assure you that it was tasty. I wish I would've had something green to add to it, but unfortunately not this time. These organic edamame and mung bean fettucine are made just from beans and water and they added an interesting (slightly rubbery) texture to the dish.

Tofu stir fry


200 g tofu
Vegetable oil for frying
3 carrots
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
2 cm fresh ginger
2 small chillies
Splashes of soy sauce
Splashes of mirin
Splashes of sesame oil
100 g organic edamame and mung bean fettucine


Cut the tofu into cubes and fry them in a hot pan until firm. Remove them from the pan and set to side.

Chop the carrots into thin slices and also slice the onion and finely chop the garlic, ginger and chillies.

Heat again some oil in the hot pan and start cooking the onion and carrots. Cook until they are softened and slightly browned.

Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and after a while the sauces.

Cook the noodles separately and then add them to the pan.

Let simmer for a few minutes until the flavours have blended and add more sauce, if needed.


Your VegHog

12 January 2017

New Finnish veggie protein products + Blog anniversary

I try to get into a more regular posting schedule again this year, but as always the year has started hectically, so I must apologise for the more quiet period. Even my blog anniversary caught me by surprise. I was fully aware the whole time that it would be coming, but I just didn't have the time to prepare anything special for it, and then the day suddenly passed. However I'm thrilled to be blogging still and want to say a big thank you to all my readers, you really make it worthwhile! I'm really motivated for the new blogging year, I just need to schedule my time better, more coming soon!

Last year I wrote about a new Finnish protein product Pulled Oats. It has become a big hit product, and also at the same time vegetarian eating in general has started to interest people more in Finland, and vegetarian meals and meat substitutes are selling better than ever. I really hope that my home country will embrace a more vegetable based diet with the time, as many of the traditional dishes tend to be heavy and meat based. When I went to Finland over Christmas, I was happy to detect new veggie products that are also already trending. I tasted Härkis, a broad bean protein product and Mifu, a milk protein based product. Both are from the chilled counter and basically ready to go, which makes this sort of vegetarian cooking with more substance really easy.

Härkis, which I would translate as Broadie (the name is kind of a nickname for the Finnish word broad bean Härkäpapu), is mainly made from broad beans and pea protein. It’s pre-prepared and then chilled, so it only needs warming up and it can be just fried briefly or added to sauces towards the end. It comes in fairly large chunks and the texture is soft yet firm. This product is suitable for vegans. I made a tomato sauce with Härkis to go with nice vegetable pasta, and it was very tasty. The product is very easy to use and I can’t wait to experiment more with it (once I can get some again). I could imagine that it makes brilliant burgers and meatless balls.

The second new product is Mifu (see what they did there, milk + tofu maybe..?), granules made from milk protein. It’s very much like Finnish cottage cheese (which is drier and has more defined granules in comparison to the British equivalent) with the one difference that this product can be fried. It currently comes in three flavours: plain, Mediterranean tomato and Mexican pepper. These are all lactose free, but obviously only suitable for vegetarians and not vegans. I really like the grainy cottage cheese anyway and the fact that this can now be fried only makes it better. I made mixed vegetables in a pan with the plain Mifu and served it with potato mash. The Mifu really added something nice to the dish, and I can see it being very versatile in sauces, pasta dishes, soups, salads, anything. I really want to experiment more with this product as well.

Your VegHog

7 January 2017

Souvenirs from Finland and presents

Here is a little post of some of my Christmas presents and things that I brought back from Finland to England. This post is once again full of Moomins and hedgehogs, which seems to be quite the trend for me now. But I just love all those cute items. The holiday feels like far away now, but at least I have these things around me.

I absolutely fell in love with the new seasonal Moomin mug series with a snow horse and a pitiful but lovable dog character called Surku, Sorry-oo. I got the mug a bowl from my mum for Christmas, and bought the Surku and Ancestor spoons and mini mugs in the Moomin Shop at the Helsinki Airport on our way back. I also bought a winterly Moomin tin. 

My mum got me this quirky recycled hook made from an old baking utensil. How do you think that my mini cups look hanging in there? This may not be the final installation yet.

I bought the hedgehog baubles before Christmas, but also got a lot of hedgehog themed items from my partner, like a set of four coasters, a keyring and a hedgehog and hoglet sewing kit.

I of course brought some Finnish food items with me, like oat crackers, filled chocolates with endearing artwork on the box, tooth friendly blueberry pastilles and cranberry salt received from my mum. 

There were many other items in my bag as well that I didn't have time to photograph anymore. It was quite a good bounty, which eventually arrived, even though our hold luggage got delayed by a day.

Have a nice weekend!

Your VegHog