When presented with a burger with Italian-inspired flavours I made Foccacia style buns. When I started turning leftover curry into the Carefree Curry Burges from Post Punk Kitchen I felt that I needed to carry on the tradition. I decided to make a bun studded with beautiful nigella seeds to compliment those India flavours. Not that all curries and curry burgers are Indian. Last time I made Japanese Style Curry I made a double batch so I could turn the leftovers into Curry Burgers for the freezer. They’re really yummy, quick to heat up from the freezer and go really well with these buns. Though so would a Beyond Burger with some of that gorgeous, slightly spicy Leon Ketchup. Or sausages with cream cheese and chilli jam for a take on Dishoom’s famous breakfast sandwiches.
Burger Buns with Nigella Seeds (makes 2)
125g strong white bread flour 75ml warm water 1/2 teaspoon dried yeast 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoon vegan yogurt (we use Oatly’s Oatgurt) 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
Mix all the ingredients together and knead for a couple of minutes until a nice strong dough has formed.
Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for one hour.
After the hour is up, shape the dough into two flat disks. Place on a baking tray to prove and cover again. At this point preheat the oven to 220ºC. Leave the buns to prove for a further 30 minutes.
After proving bake the buns in the oven for ten minutes, or until lightly browned.
At the start of lockdown I was cleaning out my freezer. I found some frozen cream cheese culture from my dairy days. Kate and I were big into cheese: supermarket cheese, artisan cheese, home-made soft cheese. And once, after a stomach bug, I wanted to eat nothing but Dairylea. Dunno why, it was really awful, but our bodies are sometimes weird like that. The point is that we liked cheese. When it comes to vegan cheese we’ll try just about anything, we enjoy a lot of it but there is only one cheese that we love as much as we love its dairy counterpart, and that’s Food by Sumear.
I should point out that we’ve been ordering these cheeses since May but we haven’t managed to blog about them so far because we keep putting them in our mouths. They arrive. We think “should we arrange them with some oat biscuits for a picture?”, and before we’ve even managed to finish the thought we’re just opening it to try a little bit… and then it’s gone. We’ve never managed to make a fancy cheese board up. But then it’s not like we’re having guests is it? And we do get plates out and sit down. It’s not like we eat it straight out of the fridge. That’s a specific denial, isn’t it?
So what’s so special? Well these are proper hard cheeses. They have the depth of flavour that can only come from time and cultures. The smoked cheese is really smoked. The blue cheese isn’t just flecks of spirulina (I bought a book for its blue cheese recipe once; that the secret was just making it blue the colour rather than anything that mimicked the taste was beyond disappointing). There is a quality to them that’s unlike any other vegan cheese I’ve tried.
I’m focusing on the hard cheeses and so did my first couple of orders. Because supermarket vegan cream cheese is okay, isn’t it? And my home-made stuff is a bit better than okay, so I’m covered for vegan cream cheese and I don’t need any Crèmou. And I’m sure that I kept telling myself this because I knew that if I tried it I would become an instant convert. I ordered a pot, made some bagels, and they were the best bagels with cream cheese I’d ever had. It’s so rich, so creamy. honestly it’s better than most of the dairy cream cheeses I ate back in the day. I know Kate definitely thinks the soured cream is better than any of the dairy ones she ever tried. I put some on our enchiladas one night and she went from tolerating me feeding her Mexican food to asking when we could have more.
The last product I want to mention is the Trímma, Greek-inspired cheese. I’m mentioning it last because I want to include a recipe-ish. A recipish. I used to make this tart when I worked at the coffee shop and we had some Greek-style vegan cheese (of a lesser brand) that we needed to use up. I’d pick up a pack of Jus-Roll on the way in and use up some tomato and pesto otherwise destined for paninis. Back then I’d cut it into six to make single servings, and so it would fit in the dinky toaster oven. You can make it as one big sheet or cut four triangles. As this is a recipe dreamed up for using leftovers, the quantities are very forgiving.
(makes 1 large or 4 small)
1 Vegan Puff Pastry Roll (get the ready-rolled kind; we use Jus-Rol)
2 tablespoons of pesto (you can make your own but Tesco does a good free-from one)
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
50-100g Trímma cut into blocks
Remove the puff pastry from the fridge ten minutes before you want to start cooking and preheat the oven to 200°C.
After ten minutes unroll the pastry. Either place it whole onto a baking tray, or cut it in half, cutting each half into two triangles.
Turn the edges of the pastry in.
Spread the pesto over the base of the tart. Put the tomatoes and Trímma on top.
Pop in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the crust is going golden and the Trímma is lightly melted.
I love a nice focaccia with a fluffy middle and a slightly crisp edge. It’s a bread made with a decadent amount of salt, oil and rosemary. When translating it into a burger bun though I wanted it to be slightly lighter, after all it’s going to be wrapped around a big juicy burger and a slab of cheese, so here it’s only made with the lightest spritz of oil on the outside and without the traditional salt sprinkle on top.
I devised the Focaccish Buns to compliment the Italian inspired flavours of the Aromatico Burger from Sagaia Meat but I’ve also had them with the Beyond Burger. Either way you can top the burger with mozzarella style cheese slices (Violife brand) and spread the bun with vegan pesto (we love the Tesco own brand) and work some veggies in there in the form of rocket or bitter salad leaves. Then serve with Kate’s current favourite potato: Pesto Wedges.
Focaccish Buns (makes 2)
125g strong white bread flour
75ml warm water
1/2 teaspoon dried yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon rosemary, chopped small for sprinkling
Olive oil spray
Mix the flour, water, yeast, salt and olive oil into a dough and knead for two to three minutes until you get a nice, strong ball of dough.
Leave to rise for one hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 220° and spray a baking sheet with olive oil.
Divide the ball of dough into two balls and flatten, until they are the width of a burger. They’re not going to be as tall as a regular bun so don’t worry about them looking a bit disc-like.
Place them on the baking tray, leave to prove for 30 minutes.
After proving make dimples in the top of the bread by poking your finger 3/4 of the way down through the dough. Spray the tops with olive oil, sprinkle over the rosemary and lightly pat down.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden on top and starting to brown along the sides.
It’s not often that Kate actually asks me to make something specific. The other day I asked her what she wanted me to make for her birthday and she told me not to go out of my way. But Kate has, actually, requested these potato wedges.
I made them initially to go with a burger that I’d stacked with mozzarella slices, bitter greens, and pesto. I thought I’d carry the Italianish theme over to the wedges by coating them with pesto and then baking them just a little longer.
Pesto Wedges (serves 2)
2 baking potatoes
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of sea salt
3 tablespoons of vegan basil pesto
Preheat the oven to 220°C
Slice the potato into skinny wedges
Pop the potatoes into a large mixing bowl, put the oil and salt on top, and toss to coat
Spread the wedges out on a baking tray; try to keep it to a single layer
Bake for 20 minutes
Remove the wedges from the oven and carefully put them back in the bowl
Scoop the pesto on top of the wedges and toss to coat
Spread the wedges back onto the baking tray and put back in the oven