Review: Sgaia’s Vegan BBQ Bumper Pack

To demonstrate how behind I am with blogging I bought the BBQ Bumper Pack so I could eat the last of it for my birthday. My birthday that was in May. Lockdown hasn’t left me in a great head space. Though it has protected my lungs and I’m thankful for that. Anyway Sgaia Bacon has long been our favourite vegan bacon but I wanted to branch out a little so I ordered us one of their BBQ Bumper Packs so I could try the steak and burgers and still enjoy a bit of that bacon.

Aromatico Mheat Burger

With herbs and sundried tomatoes, the Aromatico Burger has a distinctly Italian taste to it. It’s the reason I invented the Focaccish and Pesto Wedges and I really love the flavours. The texture is just spot-on burger. There’s something to get your teeth into but they aren’t going to get stuck there or anything. I actually love this burger. Kate, as it turns out, does not. All this time I didn’t know this about her but she is a burger purist. She wants her burgers to taste of beef and nothing else (unless it’s a chicken burger, I assume), but she does concede that the flavours would make for a good meatball.

burgerbacon

Streaky Mheat Rashers

These are, without a doubt, the best vegan rashers in existence. No contest. If you’re only looking to buy one Mheat product go for these. The work on a burger, in mac and cheese and – shockingly – in your breakfast.

Smoked Mheat Steak

I had this one for my birthday alongside hassleback potatoes from I Can Cook Vegan. I didn’t ever really enjoy the non-vegan version of steak so I’m not sure why I wanted to try this so much for the first time on my birthday, but I was not disappointed. It’s got a deep, umami rich flavour and a lovely finish of smoke. I really want to try it in a stir fry  but for the first time, for my birthday, I had to have a decadent slab of it on my plate.

steak

If you’re interested in trying all three of the Mheats then the BBQ Bumper Pack is a great deal. It’s £25 and you get two steaks, two pack of burgers (four total), and two packs of bacon. That saw the two of us through four meals: bacon cheeseburgers, bacon butties, Italian style burgers and birthday steak. But at the very least buy yourself some of that bacon. A steal at £4 a pack. And for reference we find one pack enough for two of the best vegan bacon butties.

Recipe: Focaccish Burger Buns and How To Build an Italian Inspired Burger

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.

done

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.

afer oven

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.

before oven

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.

Recipe: Pesto Wedges

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.

IMG_1793

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

Bake for a further five minutes and you’re done!

Review: Zaika, Vegan Recipes from India by Romy Gill

Zaika is a rare thing in our household. It’s a cookbook bought by Kate. She was after more ideas for dishes she could cook and we found this one while browsing the Waterstones by Exeter Cathedral. The vibrant illustration of the cover drew us in, the elegant photos of simple-looking food convinced us. So Zaika came home with us.

sweetandsour

Kate made the first recipe: we loved Sweet and Sour Tofu, which she pairs with the Jeera Rice. It’s one of a handful of recipes in the book for Chinese food by way of Bengal. An amazing fusion of flavours and the tofu here absorbs all the best of them. This has become a firm favourite although Kate adds more ketchup to make it a little saucier. We’ve only stopped eating it so much recently because it’s hard to get hold of the good tofu.

naan

I meanwhile went towards the bread section and tried out these Nigella Seed Naans. I adore Naan bread. These ones are especially lovely with the generous amount of Nigella in them. We’ve eaten them alongside curry, used them for sandwiches. They’re lovely.

jackfruitsab

As we got further into the lockdown two things happened: I ran out of flour, and I wanted to combine the cans I had sitting in the cupboard with the fresh vegetables I did have to make something filling, different, and exciting. So one night I served up a tin of jackfruit, some tomatoes and some pre-made roti as Jackfruit Sabzi. The whole thing is cooked quickly on a high heat so in no more than twenty minutes you get an intensely flavoured dish. It’s also really hot which is only a problem in that the description for this one is ‘mild’. Other dishes described as hot we’ve found to be mild. If that has the potential to ruin a meal for you you’ll need to use your own judgement.

samosa

When flour finally came back into our lives I wanted to make something elaborate but first I had to make Potato and Pea Samosas. Okay so they look a bit of a state but that’s my fault. My cooking skills have always been a bit lacking in the presentation department. You’ll have to trust me however that the taste was perfect. From the pea and potato stuffing to the ajwain in the pastry.

chickpea

Then I had to make the spicy chickpeas. These turned out to be the runaway hit out of all the fabulous things we’ve made. They take six minutes to make out of nothing but pantry ingredients and the taste is mind-blowing. They’re the best chickpeas either of us have ever had and they cook in six minutes.

samosa chatt

The reason I had to make the samosas and the chickpeas was that they’re both component parts of that elaborate dish I wanted to make, combined with two chutneys, vegan yogurt, pomegranate seeds, aloo bhujia and some coriander for fun. It was a lot of effort but worth it for the fabulous combination of flavours and textures. It’s an amazing dish.

I wholeheartedly recommend you get yourself a copy of Zaika. It’s the perfect cookbook for any vegan who wants to work more Indian food into their repertoire. If you’re like me and have more than a few Indian cookbooks this one is still worth a buy. Its focus on fresh ingredients, the fact that it’s entirely vegan and that chickpea recipe make it stand out from the crowd.