Vegan cookery classes

I have just started running cookery courses again (we used to do them at my cafe and I have organised lots in the past when I was working as a Five a Day Co-ordinator for the NHS) so I thought I would share the recipes here.

All the food was made with seasonal, local, organic produce from Pea Pod Veg box scheme which is mainly grown at Pannel Organics. So I based the menu on what was in the box that week – kohlrabi, aubergine, sweetcorn, lettuce, french green beans, onions, tomatoes, red and green curly kale, fennel and courgette.

First of all we made a Raw Lemon Cheesecake, as these take at least two hours to freeze. The standard recipe for every raw cheesecake is the same, so once you have worked out how to do it you can experiment with different flavours. We made this with my Kitchen Aid blender and I’ve also just made one in my Nutribullet so you do not need a mega expensive blender like a Vitamix (….there goes my sponsorship deal) you just need to be careful it doesn’t overheat, so blend a small amount at a time, and if you hear any strange noises stop!

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Raw lemon cheesecake

  • 2 cups almonds
  • 1 cup dates
  • 2 tblsp dessicated coconut
  • 3 cups cashews (soaked overnight in water)
  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 3/4 cup agave syrup
  • 3/4 coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Blend the almonds, dates and 1 tblsp coconut until they clump together to form a paste. If you are not using a mega powerful blender, just blend a few add a time, and add a little water if necessary to bring it all together. You can also mix it in a bowl, if you need to, once the nuts and dates are ground up.
  2. Line an 8 inch spring bottomed cake tin and sprinkle the other tablespoon of dessicated coconut on the base.
  3. Press the nut and date mixture on to the bottom of the cake tin until it’s smooth and evenly spread.
  4. Melt the coconut oil in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.
  5. Drain the cashews, then put in the blender along with the melted coconut oil, lemon zest and juice, agave, vanilla and salt.
  6. Blend together until completely smooth, this will take a while to get it really smooth and you may need to stop the blender and stir to get rid of air pockets.
  7. Pour the cashew mixture on to the base and gently shake the tin to give it an even surface.
  8. Then put in the freezer for at least two hours. If it is really hard when you take it out of the freezer you’ll need to leave for about 10 mins at room temperature to soften enough to get it out of the tin and cut it.
  9. Serve on it’s own or with a seasonal fruit sauce – eg blended strawberries.

Next I decided to make a Thai style salad with the kohlrabi. A lot of people have never heard of, or seen a kohlrabi before. It is a member of the cabbage family but is a root vegetable. You can steam it, roast it, or use it in soup but I love eating it raw in salads as it has a delicious nutty taste. It makes a great substitute instead of green papaya in the well know Thai dish Som Tam, although Thai salads work well with a wide variety of roots and other vegetables. This recipe is adapted from Thai Vegetarian Cooking by Vatcharin Bhumicitr.

Thai Kohlrabi Salad

  • 1 large kohlrabi
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 large red chilli (or use a few smaller hotter ones if you like it spicier)
  •  3 tblsp peanuts, roasted in a hot oven for about 10 mins
  • A few green beans, chopped into 1 inch lengths
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped (we used plum tomatoes as they were in season)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tblsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  1. Peel the skin off the kohlrabi and cut into very thin long strips
  2. In a mortar pound together the garlic, chilli and peanuts.
  3. Add the beans, then kohlrabi and lightly pound (nb if you haven’t got a pestle and mortar big enough you can pound together is a big bowl using a wooden spoon).
  4. Then add the lemon juice, soy sauce and sugar and stir into the mixture.
  5. Finally add the chopped tomatoes, stir together and serve.

Next we made a vegan moussaka, as aubergines aren’t in season in the UK for very long you need to make the most of them when they are. The ‘meaty’ sauce is made with brown or puy lentils, and you can also use this sauce for other dishes like spaghetti bolognese or shepherds pie. I decided to make the white sauce with chickpeas, so it was gluten free. This something I have never done before but it worked amazing well and was really easy.

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Vegan moussaka

  • 1 cup brown or puy lentils
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • A glug of red wine
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 1 tblsp tomato puree
  • Pinch of salt and sugar
  • 2 aubergines
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • Soya milk
  • 2 tblsp yeast flakes
  • 1 tblsp tahini
  • Pinch of salt
  • Grate nutmeg
  • Sesame seeds
  1. Cover the lentils with boiling water in saucepan and cook for about 30mins until soft.
  2. Slice the aubergine into rounds and sprinkle with a bit of salt and cinnamon.
  3. Fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil then add the spices, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, red wine and a pinch of salt and sugar to taste and let the sauce simmer for a while, add more water if necessary if it starts to thicken.
  4. Rinse the aubergine slices and pat dry then fry them in olive oil until browned on both sides you will need to do a few at a time.
  5. When the lentils are cooked drain them and add to the tomato sauce, add a bit more water if required.
  6. Drain the chickpeas (keep the liquid as you can use it to make vegan meringue and other dishes) and put in a blender and cover with soya milk (or other non sweetened plant milk if you prefer).
  7. Then add the yeast flakes, tahini, salt and nutmeg and blend together, add a bit more milk if necessary if it is too thick.
  8. Assemble the moussaka in a large oven dish, pour on a layer of the lentil sauce then add a layer of aubergines, then a layer of white sauce, then aubergines again and repeat, ending with the white sauce. Then sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
  9. Bake in a hot oven about 200C for half an hour or until it browned on top.

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Finally we made some Sweetcorn and Tofu Fritters, as again sweetcorn has a very short season so I wanted to use it for something a bit different, and also thought these fritters would go well with the Thai salad. I used an Ottolenghi recipe I found online. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/may/28/breakfast-recipes-yotam-ottolenghi-frittata-turnip-cake-tofu-fritter-granola although I didn’t have quite all the ingredients required, so ours did not have the coriander, spring onion or green beans but were still delicious. These pancakes were really easy to make and I think would be perfect for small children, although maybe a slightly spicy version.

After we’d cookery everything we sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labour. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the class – Vincent gave it a 5* review and said “We had a wonderful lesson with Maresa and I learned loads of new cooking tricks and tips.”

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