31 January 2013

Stuffed pepper on a bed of pasta

These stuffed peppers are made along the lines of what the BBC's The Good Cook Simon Hopkinson suggested in his recipe for Piedmontese peppers. Read the whole recipe here.

The VegHog basically had one pepper and some cherry tomatoes as left-overs and thought they would be great to make a similar dish to The Good Cook's. The VegHog varied the recipe slightly and decided to serve the peppers on a bed of pasta, and obviously the anchovies of the original recipe are left out in the VegHog version.

Ingredients for feeding two hungry adults

1 Pepper
6-8 Cherry tomatoes
1 Glove of garlic
Pasta (Fusilli used by The VegHog)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Cut the pepper in half and place the halves into an oven dish. Chop the garlic into thin slices and pre-heat the oven. Make a small X-cut on the tomatoes and dip them into boiling water and peel them afterwards. Stuff the tomatoes inside the pepper halves, pour a little olive oil in and sprinkle salt and pepper over them. Bake the whole thing in the oven until the peppers are soft.

Boil the pasta just before the peppers are ready to be served. Put some fresh basil leaves on top of the peppers before serving. Place the al dente pasta on a plate and pour the juices from the oven dish over the pasta. Feel free to add some grated cheese on to the pasta.

Then place a pepper half per plate on the bed of pasta and enjoy hot! This dish is extremely tasty and juicy.

Have you been watching The Good Cook? What was your latest cooking inspiration in general? Please share your thoughts!

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

29 January 2013

Vegetarian sausages with steamed vegetables and potato mash

Well, the sausages aren't self made but this is still quite a fresh and colourful dish, and may I add very tasty.


Green beans
Small red peppers
Olive oil

Potato mash

Peel the potatoes and boil them for about 30 minutes until they're soft. Mash them adding butter and salt as you go.

Roasted peppers

I bought seedless small red peppers for this. Just wash them, roll them in some olive oil, place them into an oven dish and roast until they are soft.

Vegetarian sausages

I cooked the vegetarian sausages under the grill but you can also fry them in a pan. Just cook until they are brown and piping hot.

Steamed vegetables

Recently I was given this phenomenal Joseph Joseph Lotus steamer and I'm never going back to metal steamers again. I call the range Joseph Conrad although the heart of darkness is quite far away from these products. Have a look at their web page for brilliant plastic kitchen ware!

Wash and cut the vegetables into pieces fit for the purpose. Put some water into a pan and place steamer in there. Put vegetables into the steamer and steam under lid until they are soft.

Make a colourful presentation on the plates and enjoy this filling dish! This is how simple it can be to make a tasty vegetarian meal.

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

28 January 2013

Mulled wine and mulled cider

Welcome to The VegHog's drink corner! It starts now. The VegHog is not just a friend of nice vegetarian meals, it also likes enjoying some tasty drinks.

Mulled wine and mulled cider are the best drinks for comfortable winter evenings. The Christmas season is over but there's still the opportunity to enjoy mulled drinks.

If you want to mull your own wine or cider, you can find plenty of recipes online. You can also buy mulled wine seasoning mixes to add to red wine.

But many shops have quality mulled wines and ciders in their selection and you just need to heat them up quickly. Remember not to boil them or you'll kill the flavour!

Enjoy your warming drinks!

Your VegHog

26 January 2013

Asparagus, pepper and mushroom risotto

Risotto is a true VegHog favourite. It could eat risotto every day if only it wasn't too lazy to make it. However making risotto isn't difficult, you just need some patience and nice and fresh ingredients.

There are endless possibilities to variate a good vegetarian risotto. I like mushroom risottos of course but to this one I have also added asparagus and pepper.

At this instance I would like to preach a little bit of the importance of a good quality pan. It's important especially when making a risotto. The VegHog uses its Le Creuset cast iron casserole and can only recommend that brand to everyone. They're wonderfully non-sticking and also good looking.


Arborio rice
Bunch of asparagus
Handful of dried porcini mushrooms
1 Pepper
1 Onion
2 Gloves of garlic
Vegetable stock
Glass of white wine
Pepper and salt
Olive oil
Vegetarian parmigiano

First soak the porcinis in water and chop the onion, garlic and pepper. Chop asparagus into couple of centimeters long bits. Grate vegetarian pasta cheese. Warm up the vegetable stock in a saucepan and add some parsley to the stock. Later the soaking water from the porcinis can be added to the stock. Try to have everything prepared before you start cooking because the risotto needs to be stirred quite a lot.

Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry the chopped onion and garlic. Remove the porcini water and pour it into the stock and put the mushrooms into the pan. Fry for a while and then add the chopped pepper. Fry them until they all are nicely done.

Put about a spoonful of butter into the pan and once it's melted, pour the arborio rice in there. Stir the mix until the rice is translucent. Pour a glass of white wine into the hot pan and let it mostly evaporate.

Then add a ladle or two of stock into the pan and let it simmer while regularly stirring the pot. Put asparagus into the pan as well. It doesn't need that long to get tender, so it can be added at a later stage.

When the stock is absorbed add more until the rice is cooked al dente.

Add the cheese into the risotto. Season with salt, pepper and parsley and add more butter and even white wine if needed.

This is an excellent dish to serve to your friends. In fact it was The VegHog's friend who first taught it how to cook risotto.


Your VegHog

24 January 2013

The VegHog's potato salad

Potatoes truly are a Hog's best friend, especially new potatoes. (There will be a proper VegHog praise for new potatoes coming up later this spring. Watch this space!)

The VegHog's potato salad is very easy to make and not many ingredients are needed for it. You can put it quickly together as lunch, a side dish or an evening snack, maybe even as a party salad.

You'll need:

Potatoes (ideally new potatoes)
1 Red onion
Frozen peas
Pepper mayonnaise
Salt & Pepper

Do this!

Peel the potaoes and boil them until they're soft. There's no need to peel them if you use thin skinned new potatoes.

Defrost the peas, just let them sit in a bowl in room temperature for a while. Chop the onion small. When potatoes are boiled soft, slice them and let them cool down.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and add pepper mayonnaise in there. The VegHog uses pepper mayonnaise because it brings nice extra flavour to the dish. Season also with salt and pepper.

What makes it better?

Obviously more fresh vegetables would improve this dish, so feel free to use whatever you have. This is a good dish for using your leftovers. Peppers and sweetcorn suit well to this dish. Some creme fraiche mixed with the mayonnaise would make it a lighter option.

Variation tip: Use pasta instead of potatoes. Below is a pasta salad made with the same ingredients as the potato salad, only with wholewheat pasta instead of potatoes.

Get creative and stay hungry!

Your VegHog

22 January 2013

Butternut squash soup

It’s winter and a soup will make you feel nice and warm! And what could be a more suitable ingredient for a winter soup than the so called "winter pumpkin"? So it’s butternut squash’s turn to be transformed into lovely soupiness. The VegHog has only ever used butternut squash for soups and risottos but it also wants to try roasted ones soon. What meals have you cooked with butternut squash?

This soup is simple and quick and also vegan!


1 Butternut squash
4 small new potatoes
1 Onion
2 Gloves of garlic
1 Dried chili (from VegHog's own plantage)
A cup of red lentils
Vegetable stock

I’m not using the seeds of the butternut squash and am also peeling it. Check out the Wiki though that says that its all parts are edible.

Cut the butternut squash and potatoes into small squares. Chop the onions, garlic and chili. Rinse the lentils with cold water.

Fry the onions and garlic in oil. Add the potatoes and finally the butternut squash and chili to the mix. Glaze them a bit and then add vegetable stock into the hot kettle. Boil until the veg is soft, then puree and let boil for a while. Sprinkle cut chives on the soup and serve it hot.

 Let it boil, let it boil, let it boil...
This soup can be warmed up again the next day if you make a larger batch. Of course it's also suitable for freezing.

 Serve as it is, vegan...

... or add some cream or soft cheese before serving. For a bigger hunger, eat some warm rye bread with this soup.

During the wintertime at least I want to keep making different vegetarian or vegan soups and sharing the ideas with you here. Would you have any suggestions or own soup recipes to share?

Have also a look at The VegHog's Porcini mushroom soup!

Keep warm!

Your VegHog

21 January 2013

Roasted cherry tomato and feta tortiglioni

Different pasta dishes are the best quick weekday dinners and you can endlessly variate them. When you come home hungry from work, studies and so on, it's most important to cook something quickly. I don't condemn ready meals at all as I sometimes consume them myself but I would like to point out that many freshly made dishes are just as quick and mostly even cheaper to make than ready meals. Isn't it just nicer to know what ingredients actually were used for your meal?

Here are my instructions for making a quick and light roasted cherry tomato and feta pasta. I claim that making this dish shouldn't take more than 30 minutes and it's all fresh. Unfortunately I didn't time how long it took me, well maybe next time.

This is what you'll need:

A small box of cherry tomatoes
1 Red onion
1 Glove of garlic
½ Feta
Semi-wholewheat tortiglioni pasta
White wine
Olive oil

This is how to make it:

Glaze cherry tomatoes with olive oil and put them into an oven dish and let them roast in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Chop onions and garlic and crush feta with a fork.

Fry onions and garlic in olive oil and add tomatoes to them once they're roasted. Then add white wine to the hot pan and let it simmer. Adding white wine gives that touch of luxury into an ordinary meal.

Season with salt, pepper and fresh basil. 

Cook pasta in salt water. Add pasta to the sauce and put feta among the mix. Serve warm.

Could it be any easier?

'Til the next time!

Your VegHog

20 January 2013

Tyrkisk Peber sunday sundae

Tyrkisk Peber is a sort of Finnish salty liquorice. Generally salty liquorice is very popular in Finland and sweets, alcoholic beverages and all sorts of baking are often flavoured with it. You can already guess that there will be many more VegHog posts to this subject in the future but be patient, this is only the beginning!

You can obtain this particular Tyrkisk Peber brand made by Fazer even outside of Finland and Scandinavia at least through this online shop. Also in big cities all over the world there are some kind of Finnish or Scandinavian shops where you can buy these or similar products. But I'm sure also other liquorice products would work in a sundae. Be bold and experiment!

For this sundae you only need a few Tyrkisk Pebers and some vanilla ice-cream. I used 8 sweets and some scoops of ice-cream for two portions.

Put Tyrkisk Peber sweets into two plastic bags and make sure they're sealed and folded over the sweets in several layers. Take out your hammer or baseball bat, put the bag on the floor and crush the sweets with your weapon.

Put the crushed Tyrkisk Pebers into a mixing bowl with vanilla ice-cream and mix with a hand mixer into an even sundae. Decorate with crushed or whole Tyrkisk Peber and serve ice cold.

Enjoy the juxtaposition of the flavours and the explosion in your mouth!

Your VegHog

Warm lentil and halloumi salad with walnuts

The VegHog feels that salad needs to contain some wholesome ingredients like cheese, eggs, roasted vegetables or nuts in order to be a stand alone main dish. Side salads can be lighter combinations.

For this particular salad The VegHog got its influence from a renowned Northern Irish restaurant but their original recipe has been altered slightly. The main idea is that the cheese and lentils are served warm on a cold salad. You can use either fried halloumi or goat's cheese, both taste good with walnuts and lentils.


Halloumi (or goat's cheese)
Watercress, rocket and spinach mix
Green lentils
Vegetable stock
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar 

Start by preparing the lentils: Rinse and boil them until tender. I boil them in vegetable stock so that they taste more intense. 

Slice halloumi and fry it in oil until brownish; If you use goat's cheese instead, gently warm it in the oven. Cut walnuts in half. Wash salad and place it on the plate, throw walnuts on there. When lentils are cooked, put them on the salad and finally the fried halloumi on the top. Spice the whole thing up with salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

And there you have it, enjoy!


19 January 2013

Hello flaxseed my old friend!

Flax has been described as the wonder food or the most powerful plant in the world. It's supposed to have great health benefits and it contains many important components, such as Omega-3 essential fatty acids, Lignans and Fiber. Therefore in my opinion every vegan and vegetarian should try to include it into their diet. Read all about it here.

Today I started the day with a flaxseed yogurt. I put fresh blueberries into a cup, poured natural yogurt on it and sprinkled some milled flaxseed on the top: Quick and nutricious, and I even like the actual taste of flaxseed. Flaxseed can be obtained as oil as well but I tend to use organic milled flaxseed. I could easily have made this into a delicious smoothie as well. It's definitely worth a try next time.

You can use flaxseed in all sorts of vegetarian cooking. It's popular in baking, cereal bars, smoothies, you name it! In the internet you can find loads of different flaxseed recipes for vegetarians.

Have a healthy weekend!

Your VegHog

17 January 2013

Stuffed courgettes with sweet potato mash

Have you ever let a vegetable inspire you? It has happened to me many times but when I saw these spherical courgettes for the first time, I just couldn't resist. I had been cooking plenty with ”regular” courgettes but these immediately caught my imagination. I bought them and didn't quite know what to make. Then I decided to stuff them with other vegetables and bake. I happened to have couple of sweet potatoes at home so I made a mash out of them to accompany my courgettes. One courgette per an adult with some mash is a more than a filling meal.

Sweet potato mash

Start by peeling sweet potatoes and placing them in water to boil until soft. You might want to cut them to smaller pieces as they tend to be monstrous big.

When potatoes are cooked, mash them with a hand mixer and add some salt and butter. In this case I also baked the mash in the oven for it to become a brownish baked cover but you can leave it as it is if you want to.

Stuffed courgettes

Cut top bit off the courgettes and scoop their insides out until the outside is pretty thin but able to hold the stuffing in and so the courgettes can stand steadily. Keep the lids and insides as we're using them later. Chop other veg you want to use. I used closed cup mushrooms, onions and garlic that I quickly pre-fried in a pan.

Mix the pre-fried veg with the courgettes' insides which should be in quite small bits anyway. Add some grated cheese to the mix. You can basically put anything in there that you desire to eat.

Quickly fry the courgette shells in a pan in little bit of oil turning them around. Then place them into an oven dish. Stuff them with the veg and cheese mix, put the lids on them and let the whole thing bake until the courgettes are soft and stuffing is fully cooked and hot. They need around 15-20 minutes in 180 C.

You can stuff the traditional cucumber shaped courgettes as well: Cut them in half, remove some of the insides, put filling on and bake, simple!

Stay Hungry!

15 January 2013

Fruity milkshakes

Hello Hoggers!

It's time to take a break from all this savoury food and refresh ourselves with some fruity milkshakes and boost our vitamin levels! There might be snow in many parts of the UK, let alone the world, but any time is good for a self-made milkshake.

Well, you don't need me to tell you how to make milkshakes as it is very easy, but I can remind you of their existence and encourage you to experiment. Just grab your favourite fruits and mix them with vanilla ice-cream. Sugar and/or milk can be added if need be and you can also use other ice-cream flavours.

Mix your chosen ingredients with a hand mixer. You can adjust the thickness of the shake through ice-cream and fruit or milk additions. What I've made in recent days are blueberry and pineapple milkshakes. The pineapple shakes were made with tinned fruit, but the blueberries I used were fresh.

 Blueberry milkshake

Pineapple milkshakes

Just think of all those mandarins, raspberries and mangos – awww bliss. Get wild with mixing flavours and tell me about your creations!

Your VegHog

14 January 2013

Fondant potato, cheese and onion pasties

The VegHog has taken its own approach to pasties as well. This is quite a quick dish to make and brilliant to eat even cold the next day, maybe take it with you as breakfast or lunch. The Hog loves to take one with it for long walks in the nature.

Pasties are basically tasty with almost any vegetable filling but I'm going to make these with potato, cheese and onion filling only. My other favourites include just plain cheese and onion or mushroom and pepper filled pasties. I use ready puff pastry sheets form the shop but if you want, you can make the dough yourself.

The twist The VegHog puts in, is to use fondant potatoes. If you haven't made fondant potatoes before I really recommend you to try. They make a great side to many dishes and are very flavoursome in these pasties. Here you can find a good fondant potato recipe.

However I make the fondant potatoes slightly differently for this dish. This is how it goes Hog style: 
New potatoes are the best for this purpose! Dice the potatoes in small cubes, fry them in butter until slightly brown and bake them in the oven swimming in stock and thyme. I don't add any other seasoning as stock gives them the necessary edge.

Chop onions, grate cheese and mix these in a bowl. Later, add the fondant potatoes to this mix when they are cooled down a little.

You can make the pasties any shapes and sizes! Cut appropriate sized slices of the puff pastry: take into account that the easiest way is to use one slice of pastry that you fold over the filling. Place the filling on the pastry, brush the edges with egg and shape the pasty the way you want by folding the top over. Press the edges firmly together with a fork so that pasty will stay nice and closed during baking. You can make any kinds of imprints on the top with a knife or baking utensils, the Hog just made a simple grid on them. Brush also the outside with an egg and maybe throw some sesame seeds on the top.

Then bake in the oven at approximately 180 C until pastry is golden brown and puffy.


13 January 2013

Porcini mushroom soup

Mushroom, mushroom! Ahh, what could ever taste better? The VegHog is a total mushroom fan and today it's making a porcini musroom soup for you. A soup is such a great warming and filling winter meal and a firm VegHog favourite.

Porcini  are lovely mushrooms for soups, risotto etc. The VegHog is slightly biased and claims that the Finnish porcini are the tastiest as the origin is really important. I happened to have a bag of dried Finnish porcini here, so that's what this soup is made of. I appreciate that you probably won't be able to get the Finnish ones but do not worry, your soup will be tasty nevertheless. It's quite handy to have a selection of dried mushrooms in your cupboard.

This is how it's made: Dried porcini are perfectly good for this soup, so put them into water to soak for about 30 minutes. In this case I used a bag of 25g. Chop onions, garlic and potatoes. Prepare a vegetable stock. You can make your own, use dried powder to mix or buy a ready fluid stock. I'm normally too lazy to make my own but in case you make a larger batch, you can even freeze chunks of it which should come in handy. Here is a vegetable stock recipe for you.

Heat oil in a pan, add onions and garlic first and fry them a bit. Then add porcini and potatoes. Fry until potatoes get slightly brown colour and then add a little bit vegetable stock to the hot pan. Let boil and stir occasionally, also add salt, pepper and parsley. Later add the rest of your stock and cook under the lid until potatoes are tender.

Once everything is cooked, puree the soup with a hand mixer and serve hot garnished with parsley. It can be so easy to make a tasty soup.

As you noticed this meal was once again vegan but if you want to add some extra flavour, you can use butter for the frying or add cream to the soup at a later stage.

These notebooks by The Gift Republic make good recipe books. Please note that not all mushrooms depicted are edible! It's best to stick to mushrooms from the shops anyway if you aren't an expert.