30 April 2014

Mushroom and pearled spelt stew

I have heavily fallen for the taste and texture of pearled spelt, and this time I made a very mushroomy and herby stew out of it. No need to beat around the bush, let's get cooking!


15g dried chanterelles
5g dried porcini
2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
200g small button mushrooms
1tbsp olive oil
1 cup pearled spelt
100ml dry white wine
500ml vegetable stock
1tsp salt
½tsp black pepper


Soak the dried mushrooms for about 15 minutes, drain them and save the soaking water for later.

Chop the shallots and garlic finely. Wash the button mushrooms, they don't need any chopping as they already are small.

Cook the shallots and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the soaked mushrooms and the button mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes more. Then also add the pearled spelt and after a moment stirring, pour in the wine. Let the wine evaporate a little and then add the vegetable stock and the mushroom soaking water and let it all simmer under lid until the spelt is cooked.

Season with salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme and sage to taste and it's done. I served the stew with my chanterelle focaccia

Stay hungry!

Your VegHog

28 April 2014

Curried cauliflower and lentil soup

I don't know what's going on, but the weather is playing crazy here in England. One minute it's warm and sunny, and then heavy rain and wind the next. Well, I guess that basically is what you'd call an English weather. This can only mean one thing: soup time for The VegHog!

This recipe is not very much originally Indian apart from the spices, but I think that it's sometimes nice to make a comforting curried soup, and all these vegetables go perfectly with the curry flavours. So here are my simple making instructions.


2 shallots
3 garlic cloves
1 small dried chilli
1tbsp vegetable oil
2tbsp Garam Masala spice mix
4 small potatoes
2 carrots
1 cauliflower
About 1l water
1 cup dried red lentils
Fresh coriander leaves
1-2tsp ground turmeric
Naan bread for serving


First make your Garam Masala spice mix (you can also use a ready made one, but making it from scratch is fun!). My instructions for making it are here.

Chop the shallots, garlic and chilli finely and cook them in the vegetable oil in a large saucepan until soft. Peel the potatoes and carrots and chop them coarsely and remove the cauliflower florets.

Add the Garam Masala to the saucepan and then the chopped potatoes, carrots and cauliflower florets. Cook for a few minutes and then add about 2/3 of the water (you can add more later depending on the desired thickness) and the rinsed lentils. Let the soup simmer under lid until all vegetables are fully cooked and the flavour has developed in the desired way. Stir the soup occasionally. Season with fresh coriander leaves and turmeric to taste.

Once everything is cooked and you're happy with the seasoning, purée the soup. Then serve it warm with warm naan bread on the side and enjoy!

Your VegHog

27 April 2014

Spring risotto

I already posted the cider review today, but since I had time to write more, I'll give you this spring risotto recipe. Spring and risotto go together for me almost better than anything. I just love to detect the first local asparagus and add it to a light and colourful risotto that melts in your mouth. To this risotto I also added an onion squash, red pepper and shallots. The onion squash is representing more the winter side of things meeting spring vegetables in this dish. Here are the instructions for making it.


1 onion squash
1 red pepper
100g green asparagus
3 shallots
3 garlic cloves
1l vegetable stock
1 onion stock cube
1tbsp olive oil
25g butter
1dl white wine
300g arborio rice
2tsp salt
1tsp ground black pepper
70g Sussex Charmer vegetarian hard cheese


Peel the onion squash and remove the seeds, then cut it into small cubes. Chop the red pepper, shallots and garlic, and cut about 2cm long pieces of the asparagus. Prepare a vegetable stock and heat it up. The onion stock cube can either be added to the stock, or just to the risotto later.

Then start cooking the shallots and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the squash cubes and pepper and cook for further 10 minutes at medium heat. Keep in mind for the further process that you have to be able to stir the risotto quite often.

Add the butter to the vegetables and let it melt, then add the arborio rice. Once the rice is translucent, pour in the white wine and let it evaporate. Then start making vegetable stock additions. Add a few ladles of it and let the risotto simmer under the lid. The heat can be quite low now, but the pan contents should still be able to simmer. Make sure it doesn't dry up and also stir often.

Keep adding the vegetable stock as long as it's needed until the rice and vegetables have cooked. About five minutes before the end also add the asparagus into the pan and get it cooked al dente. Season with salt and black pepper, and add the grated hard cheese. Add more butter or wine to taste.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Your VegHog

Black Fox Cider

Good morning! What a suitable time for a cider review... Anyway today I want to introduce to you the organic Black Fox Cider by Dunkertons, which is one of my main favourites among the British ciders.

In my opinion this cider tastes like a very traditional English cider should taste like. It's dry but fruity and it has a certain bitterness to it. There is a freshness of apples with light spicy notes and a fruitiness that runs through without being too sweet. The light crispy finish completes the package.

But beware, with its 7% this cider also makes you very sneakily drunk!

Happy Sunday!

Your VegHog

26 April 2014

Stuffed heirloom tomatoes and red onions

Finally the weekend is here and time to write a blog post again. I was quite busy this week, so now I just want to relax and eat well. The weather is too interchangeable to make any outdoor plans, so I think I will be cooking and possibly baking. Today's recipe is for stuffed heirloom tomatoes (regular tomatoes will also do, if you can't get heirlooms) and red onions. I stuffed them with a pearled spelt mix that was prepared in risotto fashion. Have a look how easy it is!

Please note that the onion and tomato amounts can vary depending on the size, mine were pretty much medium size.

6-8 red onions
4 heirloom tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1tsp vegetable oil
1tbsp olive oil
25g butter
1tbsp vegetable stock powder + 1l water
1 cup pearled spelt
200ml white wine
1tbsp sage leaves
50g emmental
1tsp salt
1tsp black pepper

Peel the onions and hollow them out by leaving about 2 layers of onion as a shell. The hollowing out should be doable by removing the lid, making couple of cuts into the middle of the onion and then by scooping the insides out with a spoon. Just take care that you don't pierce through the outer shell. Place the onion shells in an oven dish and brush them inside and out with vegetable oil. Cover with foil and bake at 180C for about 30 minutes.

Prepare the vegetable stock and warm it up. Wash the heirloom tomatoes and also hollow them out, keep the insides and the lids for later. Place them in another oven dish, brush with olive oil and set to side. There's no need to pre-bake these as tomatoes cook fairly quickly.

Start preparing the stuffing: Chop the onion insides and garlic finely and cook them in olive oil until soft. Add the butter, pearled spelt and after a while the wine. This method of making the stuffing is just like risotto (or speltotto) making.

Once the wine has nearly evaporated, add couple of ladles of the warm vegetable stock and let the stuffing simmer under lid. Add the tomato insides to the pan. Keep adding more stock, don't let the pan get dry, and stir often. Repeat this until the pearled spelt is cooked nicely.

Grate the cheese and add it to the pan, and also season the stuffing with salt, pepper and sage. Add more butter or white wine, if you think it's needed.

Stuff the onion shells and the heirloom tomatoes with the spelt mix and bake at 180C for about 25 minutes. Then enjoy!

This was my my 300th blog post, thank you for reading it!

Your VegHog

23 April 2014

A quick snuffle through Paris with The VegHog

Today I'm posting quite many non-food related photos from my short trip to Paris, I hope you like them. The main aim of the trip was not to run between tourist attractions, but to enjoy la bonne vie and that's what I'm trying to demonstrate through my photos. Of course I had to see some of the main sites as well, but even then I tried to take non-typical photos of them. Moving in the city is very easy thanks to the clear metro system. I haven't added comments on every photo, so please post questions below if you are curious to know more about these places.

I travelled by train from London St. Pancras station to Gare du Nord in Paris, and I have to say that for this distance the Eurostar is a much better alternative to flying. It's quick, convenient, and depending on the time of travel you can even get cheap deals for it. It was quite relaxing to have a glass of wine while rushing along under the English Channel and then watching the French countryside appear outside of the window. I also tried to brush up on my old school French on the way down.

Still in London getting ready to board the train. St. Pancras really is a pretty station.

On the train enjoying the wine and the views.

And then finally in Paris.

The Montmartre hill with the Sacré-Cœur basilica and many cosy cafés is one of my favourite places in Paris. We took the funicular up the hill, which is a small experience itself.




I'm quite jealous of the urban gardening of the Parisians as they have a beautiful way of decorating their windowsills and balconies with plants.

Below is the great shopping destination, Galeries Lafayette.

I didn't go in to the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, but it's an impressive building, and I enjoyed the views along the Seine and the beautiful roses - La vie en rose!


The parks were in full bloom here and you couldn't avoid getting into a proper spring feeling.

Lovely to see fellow city hedgehogs living in the middle of Paris.

Only in Paris an olive oil bottle can look like a bottle of perfume.

I really loved the bakeries and their produce. I simply have to learn to make such beautiful tarts! There's an ambitious goal for me.

I hope you enjoyed the photos. I will soon be posting a couple of veggie restaurant reviews from there as well. I'm sorry if I'm too enthusiastic with the subject. Please tell me what are your best experiences from Paris?

Your VegHog

22 April 2014

Marché Saint-Quentin in Paris

So I'm back home from Paris and the holiday is unfortunately over. I hope everyone had a nice time over Easter. My trip was wonderful, the weather was perfect, people friendly, and I have so many good impressions from the trip. I will be posting some other bits here as well later, but today I want to share photos and write about the Marché Saint-Quentin covered food market. The market offers a wide selection of vegetables, cheeses, baked goods and even craft beer, however it's not an entirely vegetarian food market. It was constructed in 1866, and is located in the 10th arrondissement of Paris. It's well worth a visit alone for looking at that wonderful colourful produce: the white asparagus were massive, the strawberries incredible and everything was so beautiful! Here are some photos I took there.

Your VegHog