31 May 2014

Cheesy garlic bread

There's still time to slip in one more post for May. This is more a tip how to make a quick side to salads, pasta dishes etc. The bread is not self-made, so that's what makes this such a quick and easy solution.

1 small baguette
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp olive oil
25 g butter
1 tsp parsley
25 g Sussex Charmer cheese

Make a cut into the baguette lengthwise without cutting it fully through.

Cook the finely chopped garlic in olive oil for a couple of minutes and then mix it with the butter and parsley.

Spread this garlic butter into the baguette and sprinkle grated cheese on the top.

Wrap the baguette in aluminium foil and bake at 180C for about 10 minutes and it's done!

Stay hungry! - Your VegHog

Roasted red pepper and halloumi pasta

I made this pasta earlier this week when I had no clue what to cook, and had to do an invention test with whatever was available. So I decided to make a roasted pepper pasta sauce and add halloumi to it. It was a nice change to the typical pasta and pesto combination or regular pasta sauces. The dish came out very good indeed, and I especially liked the contrast between the soft pasta and the chewy, salty halloumi.

3 romano peppers
3 shallots
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
A few basil leaves
250 g halloumi
1 tbsp vegetable oil
500 g Messicani pasta

Roast pepper bits brushed with olive oil at 200C for about 20 minutes. They should get soft with dark roasting marks.

Chop the shallots and garlic cloves finely and cook in olive oil until soft. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Purée the roasted peppers with the shallots, garlic and basil leaves into an even paste. Add a little olive oil if needed to make it smoother.

Cut cubes from the halloumi and fry them golden brown in vegetable oil.

Cook the pasta al dente and combine with the sauce, add the halloumi dices as well, and the dish is ready to be enjoyed.

Your VegHog

29 May 2014

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pies are just delightful: under a rich, creamy potato lid hides a savoury bean and vegetable mix. I have made a few such pies, as a friend of mine has taught me how to make them, but I think that this could be my favourite one. I made the potato mash a little bit more interesting by adding smoky cheese to it.

I can't believe how cool the weather is at the moment again, so any pie is welcome to me. This recipe makes a proud amount of pie, either one large oven dish or 4-6 smaller ramekins. Follow these instructions to make this pie.

1 kg potatoes
25 g butter
1 tsp salt
50 g smoky cheddar
1 cup dried green lentils
1 cup dried mixed beans
4-5 medium shallots
1 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots
4-5 garlic cloves
300 ml dry cider
200 ml vegetable stock
25 g dried porcini mushrooms
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp miso
½ tsp ground black pepper

Soak the beans overnight, if you're also using dried ones (Tinned ones would be ready to go). Boil them heavily for about 15 minutes and then lightly for about an hour. It's a good idea to read the instructions on the packet, as the boiling length depends on the beans.

Rinse the lentils and boil them also for about 20 minutes. Break the porcini mushrooms slightly and soak them for about ten minutes.

Peel the potatoes and boil them in water until soft and mash them. Add the butter, salt and smoky cheddar to make a smooth mash.

Chop the shallots, garlic and carrots finely (carrots into small cubes) and cook them in olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add the cooked and drained beans and lentils with the porcini to the pan.

Then add the cider and let it evaporate. Finally add the bay leaves and vegetable stock and let simmer for a further 15 minutes at least.

Season with miso, salt and black pepper to achieve a savoury mix. Remove the bay leaves before baking.

Place the bean mix into a large oven dish or into small ramekins and top with the smoky potato mash. Little butter can be added to the top. Bake at 175C for about 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and enjoy warm.

Your VegHog

28 May 2014

Orchard Pig ciders

I have been tasting the Orchard Pig ciders from Somerset and they are fast becoming my favourites, not alone because of the cute design on the bottles. I think I'll use these ciders soon for cooking as well. 

Here are some tasting notes from three different Orchard Pig ciders.

Reveller 4,5%
  • Medium sparkling cider
  • Light, clear and refreshing
  • A fine drink for a hot day
  • “A riotous celebration of apples”, says the Orchard Pig itself and I agree

Truffler 6,0%
  • Dry sparkling cider
  • Earthy and woody notes in the scent
  • Background flavour is like an earthy apple crumble with vanilla
Charmer 6,0%
  • Medium sparkling cider
  • Taste of fresh apples
  • Noticeable carbonation
  • Light nuttiness
  • A slight maple character
  • A charming little cider

Follow The Pig!

26 May 2014

Radish leaf pasta

The first batch of my own radishes is ready to be harvested, some are more individual looking than the others. They turned out really tasty this year. I like to utilise also the radish leaves, as they are quite useful in the kitchen. I simply love radish leaf pesto, and this dish that I saw in Clotilde Dusoulier's The French Market Cookbook (Radish-top pasta, p. 26-28), is quite a brilliant weekday meal also using the radish leaves.

This is how easily my version of this dish can be done (even easier when some of the ingredients come from the own garden).

Leaves of 1 bunch radishes
About 15 walnut halves toasted
250g fusilli pasta
Olive oil
3 shallots
2 garlic cloves
Sea salt
Black pepper
Vegetarian hard cheese

Remove the radish leaves and wash them carefully.

Crush the walnut halves slightly and toast them in the oven.

Cook the pasta al dente and in the meanwhile cook the shallots and garlic in olive oil until soft.

Wilt the radish leaves in the pan briefly.

Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Add the pasta and the walnuts to the pan and mix.

Serve with vegetarian hard cheese on the top.

I told you it was going to be easy!

Your VegHog

25 May 2014

Finnish style rhubarb pie

I got the first local Hampshire rhubarb of the year, and started dreaming of this Finnish style rhubarb pie. I'm feeling a bit patriotic as the Finnish ice-hockey team is playing tonight for the world championship! Dream aside and I started baking, as what can be a better time for baking a fresh pie than early Sunday morning? No healthy breakfast for me today...

What makes this pie Finnish style, is the combination of rhubarb and quark on the pie. Many Finnish summer pies combine fruits or berries with quark, and I just love that style. It's sometimes difficult to find quark in the British supermarkets, but it's a really common dairy product in Finland and you can make wondrous desserts and cakes with it. Here is how I made this easy and quick pie.


For the base:

150 g butter
100 ml sugar
200 ml wheat flour
100 ml potato flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg

For the filling:

5 small rhubarb stems
1 egg
2 tbsp quark
100 ml sugar
3 tsp vanilla sugar


Start by making the base, and grease a pie tin (mine is Ø 25 cm). Beat the melted butter and sugar into foam with a hand mixer, then add the egg. Mix the wheat and potato flours with the baking powder and add them to the butter, sugar and egg mix while stirring. Once you have a smooth dough, spread it into the pie tin.

Then continue with the filling by peeling the rhubarb stems and cutting them into small pieces. Mix the egg, quark, sugar, vanilla sugar and rhubarb and spread the mix evenly on the base dough.

Bake the pie at 185C for about 30 minutes until it's fully baked and golden brown.

Enjoy your nice Sunday coffee and pie moments!

Your VegHog

24 May 2014

The VegHog's falafel burgers

Maybe you remember when I wrote in March about how I accepted falafel back into my life. I hadn't fully discarded them, but wasn't too fond of them either as they often tend to be the only vegetarian alternative available (at least back in the day). Anyhow, my homemade falafel feast reverted me again, and now we're back in the subject, as I have made my own falafel burgers!

This falafel recipe is very similar to my previous one, I only had frozen broad beans instead of the canned ones, but both seem to work well. And of course instead of small falafel, we are now making chunkier burger patties.

This is how you can make 8 falafel burgers.

2 cups dried chickpeas
2 cups frozen broad beans
5 garlic cloves
5 spring onions
15g fresh parsley
15g fresh coriander
1tsp salt
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp baking powder
Vegetable oil for frying

Soak the chickpeas overnight and boil them in water for about 20 minutes.

Chop the garlic and the spring onions finely and remove any large stalks from the herbs.

Then just purée all the ingredients together into a paste that should be easy to shape with your hands.

Shape burger patties from the mix.

Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan (or you can deep fry these) and fry the falafel burgers on both sides until they are golden brown with crispy surfaces.

Serve in a pitta bread with char-grilled peppers, hummus, fresh tomatoes and spinach (or any other veggies) and enjoy! 

Your VegHog

23 May 2014

Olive focaccia

I'm pretty tired today (again!), so I'm only going to share a quick bread recipe with you. Having freshly baked bread is always great, and there's something about a fluffy, easy focaccia. I seasoned this one with green olives and rosemary for a nice Mediterranean feel. Have a look how easy it is!

All you need is:

500ml wheat flour
1tbsp dry yeast
1tsp sugar
1tsp salt
200ml water
2tbsp olive oil
200g green olives
20g grated Emmental
Sea salt
Chilli flakes

And this is how it's done:

Mix the dry ingredients (flour, dry yeast, sugar and salt) and then add the lukewarm water and olive oil and knead to a dough.

Spread the dough on a baking parchment and let it rise for about 40 minutes under a teatowel.

Press the whole green olives into the dough. Then sprinkle a little grated Emmental cheese, rosemary, sea salt and chilli flakes on the top.

Bake the focaccia at 220C for about 20 minutes and it's done!

Have a nice weekend everyone!

Your VegHog

20 May 2014

East Side Burgers in Paris

Here's another veggie restaurant review from Paris. I was reluctant at first going to a place called East Side Burgers, as it doesn't sound very Parisian of course. But I'm glad that I went, because the experience was just delightful.

East Side Burgers was a small vegetarian fast food restaurant, a nice looking place, which was easy to find. There was a small queue when we got there, but it moved very quickly. Before we knew it, I was trying to shout out my s'il vous plaîts and mercis. The service was very friendly, but the language was soon switched to English due to my slowness in French.

Me and my friend both decided to have Le Basque burger, which is a basque style tofu steak burger with lettuce, cheddar cheese, caramelised and spicy red pepper, tomato and grilled bun. Otherwise I might have chosen Le Forestier burger, but they didn't have any on that day. However Le Basque turned out to be a spectacular veggie burger, one of the best I've ever had with its intense tasting char-grilled peppers. The portion was large and we also had some tasty organic cheese nuggets, Nuggets du fromage, on the side. This whole thing was enjoyed with a couple of Gallia Paris beers.

The interior of the restaurant is interesting, and it's nice and cosy. The price is very good for Paris, or elsewhere, for a good quality burger.

If I'll ever be in Paris again, this is where I'll definitely be eating again. Go there and see for yourself what the craze is about!

Votre hérisson des légumes

19 May 2014

Yellow courgette and tomato salad

Survived Monday more or less eloquently... so before I go into hibernation, here's a quick salad post that's long overdue and has been hogged by me. I bought these round courgettes in Paris, as some of you might remember from a previous post, and already made this salad a few weeks ago. This potential post just got stuck in my folder, but here it is now with its delightful colours to refresh your Monday.

2 yellow round courgettes
2 tbsp lemon infused olive oil
3 slicing tomatoes
Pomegranate seeds
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

Cut the courgettes and the tomatoes into thin slices.

Briefly sautée the courgettes in a pan in the lemon oil.

Layer all the ingredients nicely on a plate or into a bowl and enjoy the freshness!

Have a good week!

Your VegHog

18 May 2014

Grilled pepper ravioli in hedgehog shapes

I enjoy making ravioli very much. It's quite a bit of work, but so rewarding when you have the end product. I like eating light pasta dishes in the summer, and already a few of these ravioli can be enough for a light summer meal! I thought that my ravioli filling was quite vibrant this time, and of course you can fill some other shaped pasta with it as well. I served the pasta with homemade radish leaf pesto, which is in my mind the best kind of pesto.

These hedgehog ravioli come a little bit late for the Hedgehog Awareness Week this year, but shouldn't every day be about hedgehog awareness anyway? 

Please follow these instructions for making this dish.


400 g grade 00 pasta flour
4 eggs
1 tsp salt

Mix the ingredients and knead into a firm dough. Press the dough into a ball and let it rest wrapped in cling film in the fridge for at least one hour.

Later when you get to assembling the ravioli, roll out the pasta dough thinly with a pasta machine and cut shapes from it.

Ravioli filling:

3 yellow and orange romano peppers (or other peppers)
Vegetable oil for char-grilling
1 small shallot
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp olive oil
50 g vegetarian pasta cheese / vegetarian parmesan
A handful of fresh basil leaves
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
Breadcrumbs (depending on the texture of the paste)

Char-grill the peppers until they have some black grilling marks and roast them at 200C for about 10-15 minutes until they are fully soft with some additional roasting flavours.

Cook the finely chopped shallot and garlic in little olive oil in a pan until soft.

Grate the cheese and purée all ingredients into a firm paste. Add breadcrumbs if the paste seems to be too moist. I had to add about 4 tablespoons to get my moist peppers to settle.

Cut hedgehog-shaped pieces (or any other shapes) from the rolled out pasta dough with a cookie cutter, fill the small hedgehog bellies with the filling (about 1 teaspoon each) and press firmly together. A light brushing of water around the edges helps the ravioli to stick together.

Once assembled, boil the pasta in water until al dente.

Radish leaf pesto:

The leaves from a bunch of radishes
1 clove of garlic
30 g cashew nuts
3-4 tbsp olive oil
A sprinkle of salt

The pesto can be prepared before the pasta making and left in the fridge.

Blanch the radish leaves for ten seconds in boiling water and quickly transfer them into cold water and then drain. Purée the leaves with the other ingredients and place the pesto into the fridge.

Serve the pasta with the pesto and some additional grated vegetarian pasta cheese as the spines and enjoy!

Your VegHog

16 May 2014

Coffee and brandy dessert

Weekend is here and the sun is shining! I couldn't be happier about that. I hope you all have a brilliant weekend, and maybe you would even like to make this dessert for your loved ones during it?

I remember cutting this recipe out from a Finnish magazine years ago, and I still have it in one of my collected recipe books. I was delighted to find the recipe now online, and decided to give it an update. This is an extremely filling dessert, but so tasty! Have a little break after dinner before eating it, or simply make smaller cups. The original recipe is in Finnish only, but here is my version of it. 

These amounts are enough for four generous dessert glasses.

160g oat biscuits
70g melted butter
300ml whipping cream
5tbsp sugar
4tbsp brandy
100ml dark coffee
100g plain soft cheese
Coffee bean sweets

Crush the oat biscuits finely and add the melted butter to it. Mix them to a buttery oat crumble.

Whip the cream with the sugar, and then carefully fold in the brandy, coffee and soft cheese.

Assemble the glasses by layering the oat biscuit mix with the coffee cream.

Put some coffee bean sweets on the top as decoration.

Let the dessert glasses set in the fridge for at least one hour and serve cool.


Your VegHog

15 May 2014

Swanage Railway Diesel Gala & Beer Festival 2014

I was lucky enough to be able to spend last Saturday at the Swanage Railway Diesel Gala and Beer and Cider Festival. During the gala weekend you can travel on traditional old diesel trains between Swanage and Norden through the beautiful landscapes of the Isle of Purbeck, or just do some train spotting and visit a beer festival. Some of these trains operate normally as well in this distance with the addition of steam trains, but this gala is a special occasion. Have a look at my photos below.

The beer festival took place in a tent in the picturesque village of Corfe Castle with a view on the impressive medieval castle on the hill. Here are my tasting notes of the ciders and beers that I tasted (and in case you're asking, I didn't have full pints of all these drinks!).


Gwynt y Ddraig – Pyder 4,5%

- pear cider; fruity and fresh; makes the perfect starting drink for a beer and cider festival

Orchard Pig – Philosopher 6,0%

- well balanced with slightly nutty taste; slight cloudiness; tastes like a Finnish apple pie of my youth

Mr Whitehead – Purbeck Pomme 4,5%

- could be what a cow shed tastes like, but in a good way!

Mr Whitehead – Strawberry/Blackberry 4,0%

- fruity and light; strong strawberry in the front taste and mild blackberry in the after taste; also this cider reminded me of some flavour from the early 1980s, but I can't quite put my finger on it


Piddle – Piddle 4,1%

- a well hopped ale with a good citrus after taste

Exmoor – Exmoor Gold 4,5%

- golden beer with fresh hop notes and a good balance between malts and bitterness

Downton – New Forest Ale 3,8%

- a pleasant session beer with a deep bronze colour and the malty character that goes with it

Yeovil Ales – Star Gazer 4.0%

- reddish copper in colour with moderate hop character throughout and a slightly more pronounced malty-sweetness than many ales

The Isle of Purbeck is one of my favourite holiday destinations, it's such a pretty and chilled out place. If you're interested, also have a look at my other Isle of Purbeck related posts: The Bankes Arms Country Inn and Great British seaside chips.

Your VegHog