30 March 2017

Pepper and fava bean nuggets

It was time to make some vegan nuggets again. When my partner and I plan our weekly dishes, the word nugget often comes up, but we still end up making nuggets very seldom. This was one of the rare occasions where I thought that the time of the nugget had come. I wanted to use my beautiful fava beans from Hodmedod's, and thought that bell peppers would go nicely in that combination with some warming spices. I baked the nuggets in the oven so they were fairly low fat as well. I served them with just a fresh salad containing, blood orange, halloumi, pomegranate seeds and quinoa.So this is how this recipe got created, and we enjoyed these nuggets very much indeed. 

Pepper and fava bean nuggets


2 large bell peppers
2 ½ cups cooked fava beans
2 shallots
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp vegetable stock powder
½ + 1 cups breadcrumbs (½ into the mixture + 1 as a coating)


Cut the bell peppers into large chunks, brush them with some olive oil and roast in the oven until soft and browned.

Fry the finely chopped shallot and garlic in olive oil until soft.

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and purée into a smooth paste. You can leave some bean and pepper chunks, if you prefer a bit more texture in the nuggets.

Let the mixture rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Shape smallish nuggets from the mixture, roll them in breadcrumbs and bake in the oven at 200 C for about 30 minutes.

Enjoy with the sides of your choice!

Your VegHog

27 March 2017

Spaghetti Bolognese Bake

Suddenly I remembered a 1980s school dinner from Finnish schools, Spaghettipaistos, which is in essence a baked spaghetti bolognese. Of course the school version was quite stripped down version of mince meat in a tomato sauce baked with some spaghetti. However it wasn't bad and it got us filled. Finnish school dinners tend to be of good quality and quite versatile. We were always served a warm meal with salads and bread on the side. I'm not fond of everything that we were served, and will surely never again taste some of those dishes in my life, especially because many of them contained meat.

I was somewhat of an oddball as a teenager when I became a vegetarian in a quite meat-centric eating culture in a small town, but most people showed respect to my new eating habits. In the beginning I was mainly leaving off the meat, and didn't necessarily eat versatile enough, but I slowly read more about vegetarianism and got acquainted with lentils and other vegetarian essentials. Even at school I could get through fairly well with my new vegetarian diet.

Now back to today's recipe. As I remembered this Finnish classic, I wanted to make a vegetarian version of it, and also make it a bit more posh by making a proper vegetarian bolognese containing carrots and mushrooms as well. This dish turned out to be really nice, and it was also quite a huge portion. It would be good, if you have many eaters, or want to eat this on several days. I froze a part of this so that I can enjoy it later on a day when I'm too lazy to cook.

Do you have any special memories of school dinners, or have you cooked some at home for nostalgic reasons?

Spaghetti Bolognese Bake - Spaghettipaistos


½ cup dried soya mince
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
3 carrots
1 tbsp olive oil
100 g closed cup button mushrooms
500 g tomato passata
Fresh basil
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
300 g spaghetti
150 g grated cheddar


Cook the dried soya mince as per the packet instructions, or use fresh soya or quorn mince.

Chop the onion, garlic and carrots finely, and start cooking the onion in olive oil. Cook until soft and browned, and then add the carrots and after a while the garlic.

Slice the button mushrooms and also add them to the pan.

Then cover the veggies with tomato passata ans let simmer, until the flavours have blended nicely and the vegetables still have a nice texture.

In the meanwhile cook the spaghetti separately until al dente.

Season the sauce with basil, oregano, salt and black pepper.

Combine the sauce with the spaghetti and place them in an oven dish.

Cover with grated cheese and bake for about 20 minutes at 180 C until the cheese has melted and is golden brown.


Your VegHog

26 March 2017

Cheese, onion and potato pie

Today is another sunny day, and I'm sharing another potato recipe. Not that this dish has anything to do with the sunny day, quite the contrary... I can't wait to cook some lighter spring dishes, but in the meanwhile I have still been enjoying many lovely comforting cheese and potato dishes.

Cheese and onion pies are such classics, and I can't get enough of this combination. This pie is very easy and quick to make, as I used ready made pastry. You could even use left-over potato mash in this recipe, as not particularly many ingredients are needed for this pie. I decorated it with a couple of ponies, just for the sake of it.

Cheese, onion and potato pie


4 potatoes
2 onions
3 garlic cloves
2 spring onions
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
50 ml dry cider
100 g red leicester cheese
100 g cheddar cheese
300 g shortcrust pastry


Cook the potatoes and mash them.

Chop the onions, garlic and spring onion finely, and cook them in butter until soft.

Season with salt, pepper and oregano and pour the cider in. Let simmer for a few minutes, and then mix with the potato mash and cheese.

Roll out the pastry and place it into a pie tin.

Bake in the oven at 200 C for about 30 minutes until nicely golden brown.


Your VegHog

25 March 2017

Tattie scones for breakfast

Happy weekend everyone! I'm so happy that today has started sunny and energetic after a long, busy and somewhat annoying week at work. I've been too busy to post anything, but let's hope that I can catch up a bit during the weekend.

First thing this morning I went for a walk in the local park. It was nice and quiet there early in the morning, apart from a few joggers and dog walkers, and I felt so good afterwards for having exercised a bit. Here are a couple of photos from my walk as well. It's starting to be properly spring over here, even though couple of days this week were fairly chilly. I'm heading to town soon to the health food shop, but before that I wanted to share my breakfast with you.

I didn't have the healthiest breakfast today, as I had already planned yesterday to make some tattie scones. I've shared a tattie scone recipe a few times before (at least here and here). They are Scottish potato cakes fried in butter, quite naughty, but oh so tasty. Now I made them with a 50/50 spelt and rye flour mix to make them even more wholesome. I left the skins on the potatoes for a more rustic finish. It saves a lot of time, if you cook the potatoes the previous night, and this time I was well prepared. I made a fairly large batch, so have some left for tomorrow, perfect!

Enjoy your weekend!

Your VegHog

19 March 2017

Potato and leek pierogi

I have been meaning to make vegetarian pierogi for ages, but only managed to make them now. Pierogi are basically Eastern European filled dumplings, and I always find the veggie versions so tasty. When I was a student a long time ago, my Russian friends showed me the method, and we cooked some lovely vegetarian potato pierogi together. I'm not sure, if I kept a lot of knowledge of their method, but I still remember that night very vividly.

Quite a while ago I found a recipe for vegan Potato Pierogi With Caramelized Onions by Isa Chandra, and saved it for future reference, as I knew that I would like to make pierogi again, and her recipe sounded like there wouldn't be too much fuss. So now I amended the recipe slightly, especially the filling, as I added leeks seasoned with cider, but followed her lead otherwise. Her tips especially for the dough are very valuable.

I served my pierogi with some fried onions and mushrooms and homemade kale crisps. It was a simple dish, but so good. Have a look at my recipe below.

Potato and leek pierogi

Adapted from Potato Pierogi With Caramelized Onions by Isa Chandra


For the filling:

500 g new potatoes
1 onion
1 garlic clove
1 leek
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Sprinkle of salt
Sprinkle of ground black pepper
Dash of dry cider (optional)

For the dough:

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup warm water
3 cups wheat flour
Sprinkle of salt


Isa makes her dough last, because it's messy, but I like to get rid of this phase in the beginning. Mix the dough ingredients together, but leave one cup of flour on the side. Add it later, once the dough starts shaping. Knead for a while, wrap in cling film and let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Then off to the filling making: Cook the potatoes, mash and set to side. Chop the onion and garlic finely and slice the leek. Start frying the onion in vegetable oil until it's softened and slightly browned. Then add the garlic, soon followed by the leeks. Pour a dash of cider to the pot, if you like, and season. Let simmer under lid until the leeks are soft and all flavours have blended nicely.

Roll out a part of the dough and cut evenly sized circles from it. You can use a cookie cutter, or even a glass. Put about one tablespoon of the filling onto the dough circles, close by pinching and set to side on a floured surface. I even have a small pierogi maker that presses the sides together, so that was quite handy.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, and cook the pierogi there in batches of about six. They are done when they float on the surface. I additionally fried them in some margarine, but this is optional, however it does add something nice to them.

Serve the pierogi with the sides of your choice and enjoy!

Have a relaxing Sunday!

Your VegHog

16 March 2017

Couscous with chilli-honey glazed halloumi

I've mentioned a few times before that I'm a fan of Gran Luchito, and their chilli sauces, and I can just keep repeating myself. They have a versatile range of smoked chilli paste, chilli ketchup, chilli mayo, chilli honey etc., all products that I've tried have been of excellent quality.

I sometimes also browse through their recipes on their webpage to find Mexican style cooking inspiration, and one time I stumbled upon this Chilli Honey Halloumi Couscous Salad Recipe.

I made the salad according the instructions and pretty much even stuck to the ingredient amounts (I used a slightly bigger halloumi...), and it was a complete revelation. I loved this dish so much and want to eat it every day. All the flavours complimented each other so well, the walnuts, spring onions, the glazed halloumi, all mixed in the mild fluffy couscous, simply so good! I have the feeling that this will become one of my standard dishes.

I'm not going to repeat the recipe here, as I didn't really change it. Head to the Gran Luchito page, if you want to see how this is made. They also have quite a nice YouTube channel, if you prefer watching recipe videos.

The chilli-honey can be a bit hard to find in shops, but I order it online, so it's fairly convenient. The product is totally worth it.

Your VegHog

14 March 2017

Favourite eateries in my area – Brewhouse and Kitchen / Sadler's Brewhouse and Barbeque

Today I want to write about two nice brewhouses in my area.

This is a very nice place to spend an afternoon with friends at. The atmosphere is great, the drinks are qualitative and the food is very tasty. Their nachos are a very nice to have to accompany the drinks. On their old menu they had a spectacular bread board and deep-fried mac'n'cheese bites. I really miss those dishes, but maybe they will return some day. It's still nice to go there for small get-togethers.

Sadler's is one of my favourite hangouts and you are likely to find me here on most weekends. Their menu is quite concentrated on the meaty dishes, but they also have excellent veggie options. The portions are huge, I mostly can't finish a main. They have a very good selection of drinks, obviously beers from the Sadler's brewery, and many other craft beers and ciders.

I like their burrito very much, but my favourite was a dish with deep fried Brie wedges, mac 'n' cheese bites, jalapeño poppers and chargrilled vegetables topped with hummus and pitta bread, which has now unfortunately been removed from the menu. At least I still have my archive photo to drool over.

My partner quite often has a double veggie burger topped with grated Emmental, served in a bun with fries and cornbread. It looks so good, but is a bit too large for me.

12 March 2017

Kale gnocchi with crispy sage butter

I got the idea for this wonderfully green dish from Mat Follas' cookbook Vegetable Perfection. Mat writes about Kale gnocchi with kale crisps (p. 38-39), and I was very much inspired by this recipe, but made my gnocchi slightly differently, so I'm sharing my own version below. I thought that it was a great idea using the nutty kale in gnocchi, instead of the usual spinach.

I served my portion with crispy sage butter, which is one of my all time favourite gnocchi sauces. Additionally I made a tomato-garlic sauce and a baked cheese twirl from vegetarian pasta cheese. Like Mat, I also made some kale crisps to be served on the side. I just tossed mine in little olive oil, smoked paprika and sea salt, and baked them crispy. All components went so well together, and my gnocchi held nicely their shape, so I was very pleased with this dish.

Kale gnocchi
Adapted from Kale gnocchi with kale crisps by Mat Follas, serves 4

700 g baking potatoes
100 g kale
2 egg yolks
1 cup wheat flour
½ tsp salt


Bake the potatoes in the oven until soft. Once they are cooled down, remove the potatoes from the skins and mash.

Purée the kale into a smooth paste.

Combine the ingredients for the dough and knead. Add more flour of needed.

Wrap the dough in cling film and let rest in the fridge for about an hour.

Shape long sticks from the dough, cut into about 2 cm long pieces and press lightly with a fork. Repeat this for the whole dough until all gnocchi have been shaped.

Bring water to boil in a large pot and add the gnocchi. They are done after a few minutes when they float on the surface.

Before serving I fried the gnocchi a little bit in the sage butter. This is optional, but it does give them a nice flavour and a slightly chewier texture.

Serve the gnocchi with the sides and enjoy!

I want to share this green recipe with this month's Eat Your Greens, which Shaheen is hosting.

Have a nice Sunday!

Your VegHog

11 March 2017

Bento Italiano

You may have noticed that ever since I got my lovely sushi rice moulds, I've been very keen on bento box lunches. This time I gave the box a little bit of a twist by using typical Italian ingredients in it.

I made sure at work that neither my Italian nor Japanese colleagues would see this lunch, in case this fusion would've been too much for them. I avoid these subjects with one of my Italian colleagues anyway, as she wasn't very pleased to hear that I like pineapple on a pizza...

I thought that this was a really good lunch and I would make it anytime again.

So this is what I made:
  • onigiri from sushi rice cooked with vegetable stock powder and a rind of vegetarian pasta cheese, with an olive and sundried tomato filling, and basil facial features
  • mini pizzas using halves of whole wheat pittas as a base, with semi-dried tomato, basil, oregano and vegetarian pasta cheese on top
  • roasted red pepper and garlic sauce with some olive oil and pine nuts (basically a red pesto)
  • balsamic jelly
  • pulled mozzarella
  • olives
  • roasted red peppers
  • lambs lettuce
  • tomatoes
  • pine nuts
  • basil

How did you find this fusion bento? Was I crossing a line there?

I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

Your VegHog

9 March 2017

Mexican mac'n'cheese

Mac'n'cheese is certainly one of my favourite dishes, and I also like when it's slightly altered at times. I like the fairly new M&S ready meal, mac'n'cheese with leek and smoked cheese breadcrumbs, and recently one of my local burger places had truffle mac'n'cheese on offer (really really tasty!).

So that's how I thought that I could also try a new version of the classic in my kitchen. I wanted to go with Mexican spices, and what could've been a better choice than Gran Luchito smoked chilli paste as the base for the spicing. Feel free to use other brands, but I really like Gran Luchito at the moment.

My partner doesn't like milky and creamy sauces, so I whisked the cheese directly into chilli seasoned vegetable stock. I liked the end result of this recipe, soft macaroni smothered in cheese with a hint of chilli, just perfect for me. Try it, if you are a fan of mac'n'cheese and/or Mexican food!

Mexican mac'n'cheese
One large oven dish

300 g macaroni
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 small chilli
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp smoked chilli paste
Sprinkle of smoked paprika
Sprinkle of salt
Sprinkle of ground black pepper
200 ml vegetable stock
200 g grated emmental


Cook the macaroni and set to side.

Chop the onion, garlic and chilli finely and cook them in vegetable oil until soft.

Mix in the seasoning and the smoked chilli paste.

Then add the vegetable stock and let it heat through.

Gradually start whisking in the grated cheese so that it melts into the mix. Use about 100 g of the cheese at this stage.

When the cheese mixture is smooth, mix it with the macaroni and put into an oven dish.

Cover with the rest of the cheese and bake at 180 C for about 15 minutes.


Your VegHog

8 March 2017

In My Kitchen in March

It's hard to believe that it's already March! I'm quite optimistic going towards spring, but how could these first two months slip by so quickly? Anyway, I collected some things in this post that are currently in my kitchen and want to share the post with Liz from Good Things, who is hosting the In My Kitchen blogging event.

I've spotted the first signs of spring in my area, as spring flowers start appearing here and there. It can't be long now, right?

I bought Matt Sewell's bird spotting notebook, which I may use for some recipe notes, if I can ever write anything in it rather than keeping it clean and nice to look at. I have that issue with notebooks, I love them, but I don't want to ruin them by writing in them...

I finally took upon organising the spice rack. That was long overdue, the trolley was full of stuff, spices, oils, baking ingredients, some of which had expired in 2014! Unfortunately I didn't take a before picture, so this is after. It's still not perfect, but much more neat and in order than before. Now I can actually find what I'm looking for. The trolley itself was quite a good buy from Ikea, it's mobile and sturdy.

I've been drinking more healthy waters, and of course one of my all time favourites is birch water, as we sourced it with our granddad in our childhood. It was all sustainable and from his own forest, and the season started straight away when the snow and ice had melted. It was so great to get the first refreshing harvest of the spring. Now I have to buy the bottled version, but even that brings back a lot of memories.

I bought this Classic Chipotle Chilli Sauce, but haven't dared to use it yet. It might be too spicy for me, so I will let my partner try it first. I just quite liked the bottle.

I've had this jar of Gelatina di Balsamico in my cupboard for a while, but now I finally used it. It was really great jellied balsamic vinegar, and it added such a punch to a tomato mozzarella salad. 

I couldn't resist these cute bee gingerbread cookies. I think I'll slip them into our lunchboxes one day.

A new brewhouse opened close to my house, and they serve such tasty pizzas. The pizzas are served in takeaway boxes to the table for the less formal dining, and this one was a basic tomato-mozzarella pizza with olives as a topping. 

This was my kitchen, and a bit of the surrounding area, in March. I hope you enjoyed the post, can't wait to have a peek into your kitchens!

Your VegHog