28 November 2013

Cheese and leek potato skins

Before starting with the whole Christmas recipes, there is still time to post a good basic weekday meal. Potato skins filled with vegetarian goodness are a wonderful winter dish. Alone thinking of them makes me feel warm and cosy. This recipe makes a few quite hearty and simple potato skins, which I'm sure you would enjoy.

4 large potatoes
2 leeks
150g Red Leicester cheese
150g Applewood smoked cheddar
½dl dry cider
Olive oil
Sea salt
Ground black pepper


Heat the oven to 180C. Wash the potatoes and stab them with a fork several times. Roll the potatoes in a mix of olive oil and sea salt and place them on a baking tray. Remove any excess oil from the baking tray and add more salt on the potatoes, if you feel like not enough stuck to them. The salty potato skins give a very nice flavour to this dish.

Bake the potatoes in the oven for about one hour until they are baked soft throughout and have golden brown crusts. To achieve more even browning, turn the potatoes midway through the baking. The baking time depends on the size of your potatoes, and it pays off to be patient with this dish.

In the meanwhile chop the leeks into small rings and grate the cheeses. Heat some butter in a pan and sweat the leeks in there. When they have cooked for about 10 minutes, add a dash of dry cider to the pan and let it evaporate. Season the leeks with ground black pepper and little salt as well. Don't add any salt if you think that they will be salty enough through the sea salt on the skins.

When the potatoes are done, take them out of the oven and cut them in half. Scoop the insides out and mix the insides with the leeks and grated cheese in a warm pan. The scooping process can be slightly tedious in the sense that the thin skins can easily rip when you are trying to remove the insides. Stuff the mixed filling into the potato skins. If this process of scooping and stuffing takes a while longer so that the food gets a little cold, pop the potatoes back into the oven for a while to be re-heated.

Serve with a fresh salad and enjoy!

Your VegHog

27 November 2013

Cider bread

With the help of some cider you can make a really wonderful loaf of bread. Dry British style apple cider is ideal for making a tasty cider bread. This is a simple bread recipe that doesn't require any kneading and you will get a fresh homemade loaf at the end of it. I really encourage you to try this (just behold how few ingredients and steps there are below)!


3dl dry cider (I used organic Wyld Wood cider)
7dl wheat flour
30g dry yeast
1tsp salt
tbsp sugar
50g butter


Melt the butter and set it to side.

Heat the cider lukewarm and dissolve the dry yeast to the cider.

Add the flour, salt and sugar and mix it all into an even dough. You can mix the dough with a spatula as it is quite soft.

Add the soft butter and mix a little more.

Pour the dough into a greased loaf tin and let it rise for about one hour at room temperature.

Heat the oven to 220C. Brush the surface of the loaf with water and bake for about 25 minutes or until fully baked. You can test the loaf by poking a skewer in. If it comes out wet, continue baking.

Serve the warm bread slices with heavenly butter and/or cheese.

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

26 November 2013

Spinach gnocchi with walnut and sage butter

Gnocchi, gnocchi, gnocchi... it's almost my bane, as I always keep coming back to it and could eat truck loads of it. That is especially the case if I combine it with some sort of a sage butter and a fresh salad like in today's post! I cooked this dish in the late summer, but never got around posting it. Maybe now it can bring a tiny bit of summer back during these dark November evenings.

Ingredients for the spinach gnocchi:

800g new potatoes
3-4dl wheat flour
200g fresh spinach leaves
1 tsp salt

I think I have added the following ”warning” to all my gnocchi dishes so far as making the dough requires a certain amount of experience to know when it has the correct consistency.

Please note that the ingredient amounts are approximate and flour should be added carefully while checking the texture of the dough. Too much flour can easily ruin the dough. It's important to get the texture right, which should hold together at the boiling stage and doesn't get soggy.

This is how to get started for this dish:

I used waxy new potatoes again as I have noticed that my gnocchi tend to hold together better when they're made with new potatoes. Peel the potatoes and boil them for about 30 minutes until they are soft. Then mash them by pressing through a potato ricer into a bowl and let them cool down.

While the potatoes cook, boil the spinach leaves in water for about two minutes and drain them thoroughly afterwards by pressing all the excess fluid out. This can be done with the help of a sieve. Then quickly chop the spinach finely, with a hand mixer for example. Or you could crush it using a mortar and pestle. Set it to the side and let cool.

Add the spinach, a pinch of salt and some flour into the potato mash and mix and knead until you have a bouncy firm dough that is easy to shape.

Shape the dough into small balls with teaspoons or by hand. Another method is to make a longish thin rod and then cut small pieces out of it. If you want to you can press some decoration in with a fork or dent the gnocchi with your fingers.

Next, bring some water to the boil and put the gnocchi in; keep the water boiling heavily throughout. Boil the gnocchi until they float on the surface, which happens quite quickly (around two minutes).

I served the gnocchi this time with sage and walnut butter and a fresh watermelon hedgehog salad. It's very much fun cutting animal shapes out of fruit for salads – try it if you own whimsical cookie cutters! I made hedgehog shaped cut-outs of watermelon and combined them with lettuce, cottage cheese and a simple olive oil vinaigrette.

You can make the walnut and sage butter quickly by heating butter in a pan, adding sage leaves and frying until they are crispy and have infused the butter. Towards the end add some chopped walnut pieces to the pan. Then just mix it into the gnocchi and serve – lovely!

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

25 November 2013

Harlequin squash stuffed with couscous

Harlequin squash is a versatile little vegetable as it's a nice and mild squash. I have already published several harlequin squash recipes here, but wanted to make something new with it this time. So I decided to roast and stuff it with couscous, which actually made a great vegan meal.


1 harlequin squash
1 romano pepper
3tbsp soya mince
1 shallot
1 garlic clove
Olive oil
Soya sauce
1/2dl couscous
Vegetable stock powder


Cut a lid off your squash, remove the seeds, place the lid back on and brush the squash with olive oil and roast it in the oven on its own for about 30 minutes at 180C.

In the meanwhile chop the pepper, shallot and garlic finely. Hydrate the soya mince by adding water, vegetable stock powder, little olive oil and soya sauce to it, and let it hydrate for about 10 minutes. It's important to remember that the amount of stuffing that you will need will be heavily depending on the size of your squash. I had pretty much a medium one and quite a bit fitted in. But also remember that you can eat that couscous combined with other stuff as well in case you have too much of the stuffing.

So in order to make the stuffing, slowly fry the pepper, shallot and garlic in olive oil at medium heat and also prepare the couscous. Couscous is very simple to make, just take same amount of couscous and water. Bring the water to the boil and once it's boiling take it off the heat and add the couscous into it. Let it rest for about 10 minutes and then the couscous should be done. I added some vegetable stock powder to the couscous water as well.

Remove the excess liquid from the soya mince and add it to the pepper pan and fry for a while. Season the mix with salt, pepper and oregano and also add the couscous to it and mix.

Then take the pre-roasted squash out of the oven and stuff it with the seasoned couscous. Bake for further 30 minutes or until the squash is soft.

Then enjoy this simple winter warmer!

Your VegHog

22 November 2013

Pea soup

Pea soup is an old classic in many cultures and it was already eaten in the ancient Greece. There are of course many cultural variations of this dish, but I made a Finnish style pea soup, hernekeitto/hernerokka, because that's the one I know best. However mine is not quite a traditional Finnish one because it is a vegan version. Pea soup is one of the basic food favourites in Finland, traditionally eaten on Thursdays. This style of pea soup is such a warming and savoury dish, the only inconvenience is that it takes a lot of patience to cook and may not be the prettiest thing to look at. On the plus side, a pea soup is a protein bomb and the ingredients are simple and cheap, so this also makes an ideal student grub.

500g green split peas
3 onions
1tbsp vegetable stock powder
2tsp salt
1tsp white pepper
1tsp ground mustard seeds

Soak the dried peas in water overnight. On the next day fill a large saucepan with the peas and water and boil them first 15 minutes heavily and then moderately for ages. My soup took about four hours to get done this time, but such a long time is needed to get the peas almost melting into the water. In the beginning of the boiling, remove the foam from the top. The cooking smell can be interesting in the early phase, but don't let it alienate you, all will be well in the end!

Chop the onions and add them to the soup after the heavy boiling phase. By the end of this all the onions will almost have disappeared, but they give the soup a nice flavour. Also add some vegetable stock powder to the saucepan. You can mainly let the soup boil under the lid and just stir occasionally once you have found the right temperature, which is neither too hot nor too cold. You might need to add some more water later.

At a later stage when the soup is almost done, season it with salt and white pepper. In Finland this soup is usually seasoned with mustard as well, but I've had a great aversion towards mustard since the 1980s as my brother can confirm. If he is reading this, he might be surprised to hear that I took the leap and added some ground mustard seeds to this soup! I actually think it was a good addition and I might use those seeds in other dishes as well, but I still am not ready to eat mustard as a paste.

Your soup is done when it's thick and the peas are very soft. Being such a great winter warmer, this soup is best served warm after outdoor activities in crisp winter air. As this recipe makes quite a big batch of soup, you can also freeze a part of it to be re-heated at a later stage.

Your VegHog

21 November 2013

Roasted Coquina squash stuffed with risotto

When I started thinking of what would make a squash risotto more exciting, I thought of a stuffed oven-roasted squash. That is how this recipe was born, and I quite like how it takes a regular risotto to another level.

This post also features a new vegetable to this blog, the coquina squash. It's similar to the butternut squash by looks and taste, it only has funny stripes along its skin and it tastes very sweet. Once again I have to say that I like this squash very much, but then again, I don't think I have tasted a squash yet that I don't like!


1 coquina squash
1 red pepper
1 onion
2 garlic
Olive oil
1l vegetable stock
Fresh parsley
25g butter
250g arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
80g Sussex Charmer hard cheese
Nettle salt (regular salt will also do)
Black pepper


Cut the coquina squash in half, do not peel it, but remove the seeds. Brush it with olive oil and place into an oven dish and cover it with foil. Roast the squash halves for about one hour at 200C. Occasionally check up on them that the temperature isn't too hot. Our goal is to get a soft squash with a lovely roasted flavour.

While the squash is roasting, start a normal risotto making process. I have described my method often in this blog, simply because I love different vegetarian risotto, and here we go again.

Chop the pepper, onion and garlic and prepare a hot vegetable stock. Heat some olive oil in a pan and sweat the onions first, then the pepper and garlic. After a while add the butter and once it has melted, then add the arborio rice. Stir until the rice becomes translucent and pour the wine into the pan. Let the wine mainly evaporate and then also make some ladles of vegetable stock additions. Let the risotto simmer under the lid, but remember to stir often and to add more vegetable stock when needed.

Grate the cheese. I used the wonderful Sussex Charmer, an English hard cheese, but any vegetarian hard cheese is fine. Add the cheese to the risotto and season it with the parsley, salt and pepper. Also add more white wine or butter if needed.

When your squash is roasted, take it out of the oven and scoop some of the squash out in order to make a squash ”bowl” with approximately 0,5cm edges. Stir these scooped squash pieces into the risotto.

Once the risotto is done al dente, stuff the squash bowls with it and sprinkle some extra cheese on the top. Bake the stuffed squashes at 180C for about 20 minutes.

Serve hot. This is quite a fun dish to eat as you get to eat the bowl as well.

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

20 November 2013

Vegan liquorice panna cotta

If you have read my blog before, you might already have seen my praises for liquorice, especially for salty liquorice salmiak. I absolutely adore these spicy sweets and frequently make desserts and alcoholic beverages with them.

Today I combine salmiak with smooth and creamy panna cotta, which makes a perfect combination for a nice dessert. And this is not all, my dear readers, this dessert is vegan as I substituted cream with oat cream! Panna cotta is one of my favourite puddings, but I have never had it quite like this.

50ml liquorice extraxt (+ little more for the topping)
500ml oat cream
1dl jelly sugar, sugar containing pectin
1tsp vanilla sugar
Tyrkisk Peber crush or other liquorice crush (optional)

Mix the oat cream, jelly sugar, vanilla sugar and the liquorice extract and quickly boil the ingredients for about 30 seconds. 

If you don't have jelly sugar, you can try this also with regular sugar and vege gel, vegetarian gelatine, combination. Prepare the veggie gelatine according to the instructions on the packet and add it to the mix before setting.

Pour the mixture into serving bowls of your choice and let them set for at least 3 hours in the fridge.

When the panna cotta has set, pour little bit liquorice extract, or liquorice extract with icing sugar, on the top and sprinkle Tyrkisk Peber crush on the desserts.

Then enjoy the party in your mouth!

Your VegHog

19 November 2013

Baby vegetable pasta

I made an easy weekday dish and called it the Baby vegetable pasta as all the vegetables in there are the small baby variations. I am quite fond of all sort of miniature vegetables and this time the baby round courgettes caught my eye in the shop. They are just too cute, and some are even more intense or sweet in flavour. To add a little bit of excitement to this pasta dish I also added some fried halloumi dices.


350g baby round courgettes
225g baby plum tomatoes
200g baby spinach
2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
250g halloumi
Fresh basil
Lemon juice
Pappardelle pasta
Olive oil
Vegetable oil (for frying the halloumi)


Dice the halloumi and heat some vegetable oil in a small pan. Fry the halloumi dices separately until they are golden brown. Set to side as they will be added to the main pan later.

Slice the courgettes into smaller pieces and chop the shallots and garlic cloves finely. Then heat some olive oil in a larger pan and sweat the shallots and add the courgettes and garlic after a while. Heat for a few minutes and then add the tomatoes and the spinach leaves. There is no need to chop the tomatoes as they will become saucy once heated enough.

Simmer everything at moderate heat for about 10 minutes and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, basil and lemon juice. Add the halloumi dices as well.

Boil the pasta in salt water until al dente and mix it with the vegetables. And there you have a nice simple pasta with many vegetables and a halloumi twist.

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

17 November 2013

Jack Ratt Vintage Dry Cider

I thought it was time to write a little drink review again as it has been a while since the last one. I really want to introduce one of my favourite British dry ciders to you: Jack Ratt Vintage Dry Cider by The Lyme Bay Winery.

They make a few Jack Ratt cider variations, which are truly authentic West Country ciders and even award winning British ciders. I have so far tried Jack Ratt Vintage Dry Cider and Jack Ratt Scrumpy Cider and I like both of them very much.

The Jack Ratt Vintage Dry Cider normally comes in whimsically shaped bottles, slightly old fashioned cider jugs, or huge canisters. I like it for its fruity yet dry apple taste. It's a perfect drink for autumn and winter nights. Unfortunately it's sometimes a little bit difficult to find in regular shops.

Have some pleasant cider drinking moments!

Your VegHog

16 November 2013

Tomato and olive spelt crust pizza

To celebrate my 200th blog post I decided to dedicate it to a wonderful favourite of mine, a vegetarian thin crust pizza. I wanted to reach the 200 post mark this year and it looks like there will be a few more to come as we are approaching the main eating season of the year. One thing is very clear to me, I certainly wouldn't have the strength and enthusiasm to do this without you, my dear readers. So thank you so much for reading, commenting and trying out the recipes, you are the best!

On to today's recipe: I made a juicy tomato and olive pizza on a spelt crust. The olives I used had a hint of lemon and I would recommend you to add little lemon juice if you can't get hold of such lemony olives. Unlike to my regular habits I didn't make a tomato sauce for this pizza, but covered the crust with great local selected tomatoes and huge basil leaves.

The crust:

14g dry yeast
200g wheat flour
200g spelt flour
350ml warm water
2tsp salt
3tbsp olive oil

The topping:

Selected tomatoes
Fresh basil
Green olives
Ground black pepper

Make the spelt crust first. I normally prefer either half spelt or half rye crusts instead of crusts fully made of wheat flour. Mix the dry ingredients together and add the warm water. Knead it to an even dough and add olive oil. Then knead for a while further and let it rest under a tea towel for about 40 minutes.

In the meanwhile slice the tomatoes and grate the mozzarella. As you will notice, this pizza doesn't need much work at all.

When the dough has risen enough, roll it into a thin crust. Place the basil leaves, cheese, tomatoes and olives on it and grind some black pepper on the top. I would normally put the cheese on the top, but this time I placed it under the tomatoes and olives, which was a very good choice for this particular style of pizza.

Bake the pizza at 200C for about 10-15 minutes until the crust is crispy and the cheese melted and golden brown. Serve the pizza with good wine and enjoy.

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

14 November 2013

Vegetable chili

A spicy chili made with a variety of vegetables is a great dish, especially for this time of the year. It doesn't require much technical skill, you can just let it simmer and only need to remember to stir sometimes. I used black beans as the main component, and to make the chili even simpler I chose to use the canned ones. I like to serve my chili with rice to get a neutral taste to balance the spiciness out.

This is how to make a vegetable chili.

2 bell peppers
4 onions
2 cloveless garlics
800g black beans (2 cans)
140g tomato puree
450g santini tomatoes
1 yellow chili
Juice of one lime
Fresh coriander leaves
2tsp paprika
2tsp cumin
1tsp cocoa powder
1tbsp vegetable stock powder
1tsp salt
Olive oil
100g red leicester cheese
1 cup rice

First of all chop the bell peppers, chili, onion and garlic and heat some olive oil in a suitable large pot. Fry the onion until soft, then add the garlic, chili and peppers and fry for another minute or two. Add the cumin, paprika, cocoa powder, black beans, tomato puree and tomatoes to the mix.

Let it simmer under the lid at moderate heat for about 20 minutes and stir occasionally. At some point start boiling the rice as well.

Season the chili with the juice of a lime, vegetable stock powder and salt. Taste to check whether the seasoning is right for you.

When the chili is almost done, add the fresh coriander leaves and the grated cheese. Serve hot with the rice.

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog