Brumal Risotto :Vegan Butternut Squash and Spinach Risotto Recipe

It's amazing how the world has changed towards veganism, 30 years ago a plant-based diet was if I am honest, rather tasteless.

This month delicious Vegan recipes are everywhere you look. After all, we are in Veganuary.  When the PR for Flora, the plant-based spreads cie, got in touch to ask if I could relay one of their recipes using Flora Freedom, I found it impossible to say no, out of respect for all the people who will dabble in veganism this Veganuary and in support of their friends who will have to make a few changes in their presence too.

I opted for their Vegan Risotto Primavera with some seasonal changes


Risotto, Vegan, Asparagus, peas, recipe

But before leaving you with the recipe, let me tell you how I first came to contact with Veganism.

We are going way-way back about three decades ago, I had never heard the word, vegan and the world had yet pay attention to the movement. On one of my trips to England, He'd offered to introduce me to his best friends. We drove to Warrington, in the middle of winter. My travel bag contained a little black dress, a pair of leather trousers and a wool fluffy jumper.

Unknown to me, the friends we were about to spend the weekend with were ethical vegans, their philosophy extended beyond diet and had utterly changed their lifestyle and left me facing a real wardrobe problem. There I was in the north of England, with only one option: my little black dress....

I spent the weekend wrapped in it and several borrowed non-wool jumpers. Not the sexy look, I was hoping for but, the beginning of a long friendship, I listen to the reasons behind their choice with my heart and after two days was much more aware of our cruelty to animals.

On an intellectual level, I remember thinking, "What difficult path they had chosen". On a practical level, my most vivid memory of our return journey is our stop on a motorway cafe to eat the place dry. A weekend of veganism had seen me not only freezing but starving too. 

It would not be the case anymore as it's much easier to find vegan products. Here is a list of 7 top tips from Lucy Jones, Expert Dietician and TV Presenter which show just how to start on a vegan course.

7 Simple Tips to try this Veganuary
1.       Simply swap the milk in your tea, coffee and cereal to one of the great plant-based alternatives. There are loads to choose from including soya, almond, cashew, coconut, oat and hemp. Pick one fortified with key nutrients like calcium and B12 to make sure you don’t miss out.
2.       Big up the pulses! Tinned pulses are easy, ready to use and a great filling provider of protein and fibre. Add to soups, salads and veggie chilli.
3.       Try making a delicious cottage pie using soya, quorn or vegetable mince and lentils / beans. Combine with chopped veggies, tinned tomatoes, herbs and spices and top with mashed root veg made with Flora Freedom. Nothing more warming when topped with vegetable gravy and steamed green veggies
4.       Get out the slow cooker. Chuck in tinned tomatoes, veggies, lentils or beans and some barley / potatoes for a warm filling dinner. Serve in a bowl with crusty fresh bread spread with Flora Freedom.
5.      Try out some vegan pancakes. Make your pancake mix using flour, a plant based alternative to milk, nut butter and mashed banana. Top with sugar and lemon or chopped fruits for a fun tasty start to your day.
6.       Don’t miss out on enjoying dessert. You can make a delicious crumble topping using flour, oats, sugar and Flora Freedom and add on seasonal fruits. Combine with a soya or oat based custard or try some coconut ice-cream alongside
7.       If you’re cravings start to creep up on you, nuts make a fantastic healthy vegan snack. Combine 30g of your favourite with some small chunks of rich 80% dark chocolate for an indulgent afternoon treat.

Brumal Risotto : Butternut Squash and Spinach Risotto



Ingredients

  • 25 g Flora Freedom
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 225 g Arborio rice
  • 700 ml hot vegetable stock
  • 300 ml vegan dry white wine (optional but increase stock to 1 litre if not used)
  • 250 g roasted butternut squash, cut into large cubes
  • 175 g spinach, washed and drained
  • 75 g vegan Parmesan cheese, grated 
  • pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Directions

  • Heat Flora and olive oil in a large pan and fry the onion and garlic until soft but not browned.

  • Add the rice and stir well. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook gently, whilst stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed.

  • Stir in 300ml stock and repeat until the stock has been absorbed.

  • Add half the remaining stock, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the risotto has a creamy consistency.

  • Add the butternut squash cubes to the rice and squash them roughly with a fork, then add the frozen spinach and remaining stock. Bring back to a simmer and continue stirring as the liquid is absorbed and the rice becomes tender and the spinach well defrosted.

  • Serving suggestion: serve with sweet potato pancakes

Disclaimer: Sponsored post. I was contacted by Flora to write a post promoting their recipes for which I received a food voucher. No cash was exchanged. 


Bidvine: The Easy Way for Hiring a Pro

Sponsored post

When it comes to mundane tasks, we all need a bit of a helping hand time to time. Bidvine is an app-based and online local services marketplace that dubs itself as “the easiest way to find and hire local professionals.”


When Bidvine got in touch and I read through all their literature and in order to share the finding with you, I gave it a go. Like everyone else at the start of the year, I have a long list of things needing doing so if there is a simple process to save time, it's tempting.

Determine what you need


Before soon, I had my options narrowed down to three. Fitness, Photography, Learning. The latter seemed like a popular option, especially when it comes to learning guitar or singing. We possibly have the success of the TV show such as the Voice and Gareth Malone's to thank for that. However, this is not something, I would consider unless I wanted half of South London evacuated as a result.

However, my social media picture needs updated as it's now a couple of years old, best to keep up with the wrinkles. In my opinion, there is nothing worth than old profile pictures.

Request
To get the right pro, all what is needed is to detail what you need using service-specific questions. Bidvine then sends your request to relevant qualified professionals. 

Choose One
True to their word in my case, in the space of 2 hours, I had received 5 offers from professional photographers with quotes and a message detailing the companies credentials.

Hire 
The process is indeed very simple

Bidivine operates in the whole of the UK and the list of professionals is growing every day.

Click here, to learn more about Bidvine.com

Pimped up Pumpkin Gratin


Have you noticed that when you love something, it shows on the pictures you take. I make no mystery of the fact that I just adore curcubitaceae, every autumn, I publish recipes with pumpkins and it goes well into the winter.

The picture is a simple Pumpkin Gratin Recipe but if you wanted something a little fancier you could pimp the recipe up a little and that's how you do it.

Pimped up Pumpkin Gratin
Ingredients
Pumpkin 1.8kg (4lb), peeled and de-seeded
Parmesan Cheese 50g (2oz), grated
Fresh breadcrumbs 50g (2oz)
Pecan nuts 50g (2oz), roughly chopped
Chopped Thyme leaves 2 tbsp
Butter 50g (2oz), melted

Method
Preheat oven to 200°C /400°F/Gas 6. Cut pumpkin into 2.5cm (1in) thick wedges. Place in a lightly buttered oven-proof dish. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 
Mix together Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, pecans, thyme and seasoning in a bowl.
Sprinkle evenly over pumpkin. Then drizzle over melted butter.
Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until pumpkin is tender and topping is golden. Serve immediately. 
TIP Rather than Parmesan cheese crumble over some strong blue cheese – if you prefer.

It's Veganuary and if you need ideas to plan Meat-Free meals there is no better place than Meat-Free-Monday challenge hosted by Tinned-Tomatoes


Leek and Chickpea Soup


Time for a warming, comforting soup. As you can see at Pebble Soup we like our soups thick. I make soups all the time but, I am still to master the "potato business". Let me explain, most soups contain potatoes and when food processed potatoes turn "gluey", I have tried all sorts of tricks but it's often a hit or miss affair.

So it's with a sigh of relief that I found a substitute: Chickpeas. It works a treat.

Leek and Chickpea Soup 
Serves 6
Ingredients
  • 250g chickpeas (one can)
  • 5 medium leeks finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • knob of butter (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic finely sliced
  • salt ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pints chicken or vegetable stock 850 ml
  • Parmesan cheese grated
  • a little parsley (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and butter, if you use it. Add the leeks and garlic with a pinch of salt and cook until tender.
  2.  Add about two-thirds of the stock, the chickpeas and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Puree half the soup in food processor. To obtain a thick soup, use a slotted soup, give that a whizz with a little stock and then add the remaining stock. Season with salt, black pepper and add grated Parmesan cheese.

Pebble Soup has a whole collection of soup recipes, head to the recipes index for ideas such as Leek and Avocado, Harira, Coco and Chorizo and over 50 more. For quick access, I've picked a few which you can access by clicking on the pictures.





It's good to share so this week I linked my soup collection to Hijacked by Twins who is hosting #Cookblogshare
Hijacked By Twins

2016 is over and not a moment too soon

I was determined not to write a 2016 Round-Up. Though it had been a rather good year on a personal level, it didn't seem decent to rejoice in view of the atrocious events happening around the world.

Then, this morning I looked at Pebble Soup's statistics and noticed something which made me change my mind. The top recipe, the blog post most visited in 2016, was "I Like my Pizza from Syria". Written in 2008, it's an early blog post, 

Somehow, it reassured me that thousands of people would, for a minute, associate Syrian life with something else than brutality and horrors. It reminded me of Jeremy Bowen' Twitter feed where the BBC Middle East correspondent, from time to time,  tweets pictures of food. In a 2014, in a NewStateman article, he explains his motivation for doing so, "Because it is important to show how people live as well as how they die".


Happy New Year. Let's get out there and make it happen x


Inheritance Recipes - December 16 - Round up

December is always a busy month for food bloggers, hence few had the time to add their own story to this month challenge. However, we were pleased to see that our new Facebook page attracted pictures too.

I particularly like Kavey's decades diary, do drop by. In the meantime, here is December 16 round-up with our thanks for all your contributions this year. Hope to see you in January on Margot's blog



starting from the top

Fruitful Kitchen recreated her grandmother's Sheperd pie only faster
I chose a new recipe Sweet Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon which I'll make sure to cook for my best friend this Christmas, to show her how far I've progressed since she taught me how to cook.
Gingerbread biscuits with honey, thank you so much to Margot of Coffee and Vanilla for sharing her traditional treasured recipes all the year long.
Shaheen bought us a blast from the past with a lovely Christmas Tree shaped vegetarian centerpiece stuffed with chestnut mushrooms.
The Foodie Quine wishing for a scratch and sniff screen so evocative her Brandy Snaps Baskets are.

Merry Christmas everyone

The perfect Jam Doughnut


In my opinion, doughnut is a rare thing indeed. By this I mean, the concept of frying a simple dough can be found in almost every country around the world.

A quick look the doughnut around the world list on Wikipedia will prove my point, to you. Earlier this year, I caught this picture


 Thai Youtiao being fried on Bangkok's night market; Margot, the co-host of Inheritance Recipes published a great recipe of paczki Oponki, Polish doughnuts.

In France, les beignets et bugnes have their own national day;


Jeanne as in Cook Sister, in her mischievous way named her blog after the South African doughnut, Koeksister. And, I might not be far wrong as in saying that half of the food bloggers are doughnuts lovers and have a doughnut recipe on their blog so it might be a little presumptuous to have named this post the 

Perfect Jam Doughnut

Ingredients
210g strong white flour, plus extra to dust
7g dried yeast
½ tsp salt
15g caster sugar, plus extra to dust
20g unsalted butter, at room temperature, chopped, plus extra to grease
65ml whole milk, warmed
45ml warm water
1 egg, beaten
2 litres vegetable or sunflower oil, to cook
6 tsp raspberry or strawberry jam


Method

  1. Combine the top four ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. In a smaller one, place the butter pour the warm liquids over and wait until the butter melts.
  3. Add to the flour mixture stir, add the egg and either use a mixer with a dough hook or stir by hand until you get an elastic and smooth dough.
  4. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover with a damp towel and leave it to raise, until double the size.
  5. Shape into 6 balls of about 80g each, folding each side tightly into the centre in turn, turning as you go, then turn the ball over and put it on a lightly floured baking tray or board, spacing them well apart. 
  6. Cover and leave to rise again for 45 minutes.
  7. Deep fry in oil, you'll probably need to do several batches, 
  8. Pad dry, roll in caster sugar
  9. Pipe the jam in


What's New #16 : Winter Comforts


Looking for last minute presents, these red berries or cinnamon candles by St Miguel in their recycled etched tumblers will give a cosy feeling to any room. The scent is very subtle and the reflection created by the light on the design is lovely. About £4.00 per candle.

At Pebble Soup, we love making our own soups but sometimes, it's not always possible. My brand of choice is Heinz, mostly because I like the way this company works with farmers around the UK.

Heinz has a new range called Big Soup. As always when trying out new products, it's a bit hit and miss. Big Soup has large chunks of Beef, chicken or lamb with vegetables.

I do prefer the Soup of the Day range for it's a little funkier however Heinz Soup has delivered heart-warming comfort to us for over 100 years so they know one or two things about trends and in my opinion, their range with only classic and funky was missing a chunky option.

In other news, you will be happy to know that the legendary GEO bars have had their sugar content reduced but I suppose they will be languishing in the cupboard until Christmas is over.
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