28 July 2013

Mixed salad with char-grilled peppers, halloumi and tomato-garlic dressing

”You don't win friends with salad.” Or maybe sometimes you just might, try it with this one! It's nice to eat light salads in the summer when the heat is reducing your appetite. This salad once again has some substance to it as I added halloumi cheese to it.

For the salad:

Mixed salad leaves
4 salad onions
1 halloumi
8 small sweet peppers
Vegetable oil for char-grilling

For the dressing:

6 cherry tomatoes
1 garlic clove
Herb salt
Olive oil

Make the dressing first. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the tomatoes. Let them turn into a sauce simmering under the lid by occasionally stirring. Chop the garlic and add it to the pan and let simmer for a while longer. 

Season with herb salt and black pepper and squeeze lime juice into the sauce. This is the dressing done.

Chop the halloumi into cubes and fry them in oil until they are golden brown. Heat oil in a grill pan and char-grill the peppers. Chop the salad onions and put them into a bowl with the salad leaves. Add the peppers and halloumi and dress with the tomato-garlic dressing.


Your VegHog

27 July 2013

Sesame bagel with spinach, pepper and emmental

I do like a good filled bagel as breakfast or even occasionally as lunch. This is a basic one with fresh ingredients and nice flavours.

Garden cress has a nice peppery flavour and it grows anywhere. I would recommend to have it handy at all times to add to sandwiches and salads, just remember to keep it moist. I always grow mine on a kitchen towel.


Sesame bagels
Fresh spinach
Red peppers
Salad onions
Garden cress
Emmental cheese
Herb salt
Black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Prep the veg: chop the peppers and the salad onions and slice the cheese. 

Cut the bagels in half and place the ingredients on the lower half. Put the spinach on them first, then the pepper, salad onions and the cress. Season with salt and pepper and place the cheese slices on the top. Then put the top lid of the bagel on there.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes until the cheese has melted and they are done.

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

25 July 2013

Stuffed courgette flowers

Courgette flowers and small young courgettes are tasty and look beautiful. This recipe is only a simple one for cheesy stuffed and fried courgette flowers and I obviously used the garden crops from my own balcony.

Courgette flowers and small courgettes
1 garlic clove
1 mozzarella
Olive oil

Wash the courgettes and flowers. Make sure to wash the flowers from the inside as well and remove the stamen. Make small cuts on the sides of the small courgettes. Chop the garlic and mozzarella small and mix them in a bowl. Season with basil, salt and pepper.

Stuff the courgette flowers with the cheese mix and twist the ends so that they stay closed. You might also want to close them with a toothpick.

Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry the courgettes with the flowers lightly. Serve as a starter or a side dish and feel the taste of summer!

Your VegHog

24 July 2013

Spinach and lemon hedgehog shaped ravioli with asparagus filling

I received quite many good comments on my original hedgehog shaped ravioli and I liked them myself as well, so I decided to make a different variation but keep the same shape. This time I decided to make some colourful pasta with spinach and a hint of lemon because it's tasty and looks cute and I also absolutely love asparagus filling in ravioli. I hope you'll like these too!

So here are the steps for making this whole dish:

The side salad:

Small sweet red peppers
Mozzarella balls
Fresh basil leaves
Olive oil

Make the side salad first as then you don't have to worry about it later. I have already published this side dish as the Pepper and mozzarella appetisers and it's a nice addition to this dish.

Wash the red peppers and place them into an oven dish. Brush them with olive oil and bake at 180C for about 15 minutes until they are soft. Cut the peppers in half after they have cooled down. Stuff a mozzarella ball wrapped in a basil leaf into each pepper half and let them wait in the fridge. Done!

The pasta dough:

400g grade 00 pasta flour
4 eggs
100g fresh spinach leaves
Lemon juice

First quickly boil the spinach in water for about 3-5 minutes and drain it well. Press some lemon juice on it and mix. Pour the pasta flour on a table, break the eggs into a dent in the middle of the flour pile and add some salt and then the spinach. 

Heavily knead until you have a firm dough. If the dough is too tough, add a little olive oil to make it smoother or if it's too runny, add more flour. Finally knead the dough into a ball, wrap into cling film and place to the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

The ravioli filling:

5 small asparagus
2 garlic cloves
Bread crumbs
Vegetarian pasta cheese
Black pepper

Steam the asparagus and chop the garlic cloves small. Grate some vegetarian pasta cheese. Mix these ingredients with bread crumbs and black pepper. The filling must not be too moist, add more bread crumbs if needed and cool it down before filling the pasta.

Start rolling the pasta dough with either a pasta machine or a rolling pin and make thin sheets of it. Use a hedgehog shaped cookie cutter (or any other shape will also do) to cut many pieces.

Place a small amount (about a teaspoon) of filling on the piece, brush the sides with water and stick another pasta piece on it. The water helps them stick well together, but additionally press them firmly together with your fingers or a fork.

Boil the ravioli for about 10-12 minutes in salt water until the filling is warm and the pasta al dente. They should float on the surface when cooked.

The sage butter:

Sage leaves
100g butter

Sage butter is a divine addition to any pasta dish. It takes about 10 minutes to make this, so you can start preparing it at a later stage.

Heat the butter in a pan and add the sage leaves. Keep heating at moderate heat and stir occasionally. The butter should get brown but not burn and the sage leaves should get crispy.

Mix the ravioli with the sage butter, serve with the small pepper appetisers and enjoy!

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

22 July 2013

Fresh fruit salad

I have tried to eat lighter during the warm summer days. Although I don't always manage to do it, a light summery fruit salad is always a good idea. Try to have some fresh fruit around at all times in the summer and you can make a fruit salad out of any fruit combinations.

This is what I used this time:

½ cantaloupe melon
1 mango
200g strawberries
1 lemon
1 lime

Cube the fruits and squeeze lemon and lime juice on them. Serve cold as a cooling summer dessert or lunch.

Your VegHog

Fried new potato gnocchi with sage butter

Yesterday I posted the Garden salad with chili oil dressing and I promised to tell you how the story continued. I served the fresh salad with some homemade fried new potato gnocchi and sage butter, and it really made a delightful Saturday dinner.

Here's the recipe:

800g new potatoes
3-4dl wheat flour
100g butter
Sage leaves
Olive oil
Vegetarian pasta cheese

Peel and boil the new potatoes for the gnocchi. Once they are soft press them through a potato ricer. Add the flour and mix, then let it cool down. Once the dough is cold, check the texture and add more flour if needed. Then roll small gnocchi of the dough and set them aside. Don't worry about any irregularities, that makes them even more charming. Just make sure that the texture is bouncy and not too soft or too floury. Bring water to boil and when you have shaped all the gnocchi, heavily boil them for a couple of minutes. They'll float on the surface once they're done.

Start preparing the sage butter as well when the gnocchi is boiling. Heat the butter in a pan and add the sage leaves in there. Fry at low to moderate heat for about 10 minutes until the sage has infused the butter, the butter has slightly browned and the sage leaves have become crispy. Stir quite often to make sure that the butter doesn't burn.

I haven't fried my gnocchi before but now I decided to try it and it was indeed a lovely addition. Fry the boiled gnocchi in some olive oil for a while so that some parts of them become golden brown. I kept the pan quite hot and constantly kept stirring them. Mix them with the sage butter, sprinkle vegetarian pasta cheese on them and serve. Make the garden salad to accompany if you like and serve with a nice white wine.

Your VegHog

21 July 2013

Garden salad with chili oil dressing

I made this salad as a side salad and am revealing in tomorrow's post what I served it with. Some of these ingredients came from my own balcony garden: the radish pods and the chilies for the chili oil. If you let radish grow to seed you can then harvest fresh pods that taste exquisite. I'm planning to dry some of them as well in order to get seeds for next year. Radish is a brilliant balcony plant as all of its parts are edible. I have already posted some radish recipes and will be posting more, for example salads featuring radish flowers.

I made my own chili oil about a month ago and let it infuse in a closed bottle since then. I just added four red chilies and some chili flakes into a small bottle and filled it up with olive oil and now it has become nice and spicy chili oil. It's perfectly okay to use a ready made chili oil as well for this dressing.

The salad:

Red chard
Edible flower petals
Pea shoots
Radish shoots
Radish pods

Wash the ingredients and trim off the hard ends of the radish pods and place them into a salad bowl.

The dressing:

3tbsp chili oil
2tbsp cider vinegar
Ground black pepper
Herb salt

Mix the oil and vinegar and add pepper and salt to it. Then shake it in a small sealable container or a bottle. Sprinkle the dressing on the salad and mix.

Enjoy as just a fresh salad or combine with a variety of summer foods. As promised my serving suggestion will be published tomorrow.

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

20 July 2013

Great British seaside chips

Here is a bit more lighthearted post to celebrate the current heatwave in Britain. It doesn't happen that often, so it's better to make the most of it! The seaside is one of the best places to be right now. I normally go to the beautiful Dorset coast.

If you are spending time at the seaside search for the best chip shop around and treat yourself to some chunky seaside chips. Sprinkle salt and vinegar on them to enjoy them the traditional way. It gives you a good boost for walks along the coastline and beach activities.

Otherwise good to remember during a heatwave: Leave a shallow bowl outside and fill it in with water for thirsty wildlife to help themselves. Water your plants sufficiently and remember to drink enough water yourself.

Stay cool!

Your VegHog

18 July 2013

Laugenbrötchen – Swabian pretzel rolls

This might be the earliest depiction of a pretzel. Hortus deliciarum from Alsace, 12th century.

My approaching holiday in Germany made me crave these pretzel rolls. I'm sure you'll know what pretzels taste like, but have you ever eaten a fresh roll with the same flavour? I must say that these are one of my favourite rolls and are such a tasty breakfast filled with just cheese or tomato, mozzarella and basil.

Normally lye is needed in order to accomplish the distinct pretzel taste, but instead of using lye I practiced some science and created sodium carbonate out of sodium hydrogen carbonate (bicarbonate of soda). Sodium carbonate is better to work with than lye and the end result is better than with sodium hydrogen carbonate. And please do not be afraid of what I'm about to describe. I'm the least scientific person ever when it comes to chemistry but I easily managed to do this. I just like the look of the formulas and my scientist friend checked their correctness.


600g flour
25g dry yeast
2tsp salt
400ml water
3tbsp sodium carbonate (to be made from sodium hydrogen carbonate, see below)
Sea salt flakes for sprinkling on the top


Mix the flour, salt and dry yeast with lukewarm water. Add the water slowly as you might not need to whole 400ml. Knead to an even bread dough and let rest in a bowl covered with a tea towel for one hour. While the dough is rising there's time to prepare the sodium carbonate.

The formula of sodium hydrogen carbonate:


The formula of sodium carbonate:


The thermal decomposition of sodium hydrogen carbonate:

2NaHCO3 → Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2

Place about 6 tablespoons of sodium hydrogen carbonate in an oven dish and heat at 150-180C for about 30-40 minutes. Mix it occasionally. This gives off a little water vapour and carbon dioxide as the sodium carbonate that we want is being made. Once it comes out of the oven dissolve three tablespoons of sodium carbonate into one liter of hot water.

Shape rolls of the dough and roll them in the sodium carbonate water, about one minute each. Make an x-cut across the rolls with a knife and sprinkle some sea salt flakes on the top. Place the rolls on a baking tray and bake at 220C for about 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy the baking and science!

Your VegHog