Mofo ’14 – Mac and Cheese Monday

Happy Monday!

For once I can actually go with the theme Mac and Cheese Monday!  Hence no “Mediterranean Monday” today.  Yesterday I embarked on making my first ever Mac and Cheese.  Honestly, I’ve never eaten it before.  Not in my pre-gan days nor my vegan days.  I was chatting about it with the husband and he couldn’t quite believe that I’d never eaten it.  But, as I see it, the thing about Mac and Cheese is that if it wasn’t part of your childhood, then it’s less likely to be part of your adulthood.  My mum’s never been a fan of cheesy dishes (nor am I, for that matter) so it never featured whilst growing up.  This has probs helped when it comes to trying out a vegan version as I have no expectations.

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Anyways, I’ve been wanting to try the Sunflower Mac from Isa Does It for ages.  Partly because it looked accessible, and partly because I can’t try out the cashew versions of Mac and Cheese due to Theo’s nut allergy.

I have to say, it was a success!  As the husband rightly pointed out; it’s better to think of it as a “Mac” rather than a “Mac and Cheese”.  That way the dish can be enjoyed in it’s own right.  The smoked paprika garnish is an essential and really adds to the flavour.  Theo loved it, and since there’s a ton of sauce left will be having it for dinner tonight as well.

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Do you guys have a favourite mac and cheese recipe?

 

Mofo ’14 Flashback Friday #2 – Ottolenghi’s Wild Rice Salad

Good morning!

I’ve been awake since 2am for no good reason other than pregnancy insomnia.  It may have also been the gigantic bowls of cereal I had before bed that are still sitting like a rock in my stomach.  The joys of pregnancy.  It’s now 4:30am and I figured I may as well get up and sort out today’s blog post before I check out for the weekend.  Today’s Flashback post goes back to August 2009.  Eek, that makes me feel old.  It’s probably more of a summer recipe but I love it nonetheless, and it uses ingredients that are good and available all year around.

To Rachel D.

This post is for one of my long-standing friends, Rachel D.  We went to comprehensive school together and, despite irregular contact with each other over the last 11 years, when we do meet up we never fail to start up conversation from where we last left off.  This is either a sign of true and lasting friendship, or that we can both talk the hind legs off a donkey.  I prefer to think it is the former.  Rachel is amazing; she listens attentively, is patient and is always on a quest to be a better, and more godly person.  Whereas I talk incessantly, interrupting dinner table conversation with my mouth full (nice), and wallow in my comfort zone of mediocrity.  She’s the person I should try to be but would fail miserably if I did.

Both Rachel and I are regulars at our doctor’s surgeries trying to find answers for ailments that are constant but sometimes fade into the background.  We have both tried out different measures for controlling our symptoms; Rachel is currently on a stimulant free diet (i.e. no caffeine, sugar or alcohol), and I am trying to be dairy free.  Friends, Rachel is doing much better than I am with dietary eliminations.  Apart from those 2 weeks without dairy recently, I have fallen off the band wagon and started having milk here and there throughout my day.  But milk in my tea and coffee doesn’t count, does it?  I believe that my body may argue otherwise…

A Morroocan flavoured lunch

Anyway, Rachel was passing through Bristol on her way to France so we met up for a long overdue catch up and to share in one of our favourite pastimes: eating delicious, healthy food.  I made us a vegan lunch, since Rachel is vegetarian and I am trying to be dairy free, to enjoy together whilst we chatted and gave a brief update of our lives over the last few years.   The recipe was borrowed from the Ottolenghi website and was packed with different flavours reminiscent of Morocco, each singing their own different tune but strangely working in harmony with each other.  Ottolenghi is an amazing, successful restaurant, having a number of outlets throughout London, along with their own cookbook.  I came across the joys of Ottolenghi via a weekly vegetarian recipe feature in The Guardian’s Saturday magazine that Yotan Ottolenghi (the patron chef) writes.  In the interests of saving paper and money, and for those of you who live outside the UK, you can check out her weekly features online.

Here is a great quote from their website, which sums up their philosophy and food beautifully…

“We are highly aware of how unusual it is, in our time, to find food that is closer to the source, uncomplicated, unadulterated, emanating from genuine instincts. This idea of simplicity is one of Ottolenghi’s basic principles. It is, along with a sense of generosity and trust, our driving force”.  Awesome.

Ottolenghi’s Wild Rice Salad (with moderations)

Ingredients

100 g quinoa
150g wild, basmati, and brown rice mix
60g roasted and salted cashews, chopped
125g dried apricots, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes, drained and chopped
1 generous handful of mint leaves (stems removed), roughly chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed

Method

Rinse the quinoa and put in a saucepan of cold water, along with the rice.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 25 mins, until tender but retaining some bite.  Drain and rapidly cool under cold water.

Put the quinoa and rice in a large bowl, mix in the cashews and apricots.

Mix together the last five ingredients and pour over the quinoa and rice.  Toss altogether and leave to stand for five minutes for the flavours to merge before serving.  Season with freshly ground pepper and sea salt, to taste.

Rachel and I enjoyed this with a mixed leaves salad, fresh tomatoes, celery crudites and hummus.