27 September 2018

Toasted Oats: Two Ways

A few weeks Emily came to Wales for the weekend and we spent Sunday doing all of our favourite things: getting up early, reading recipe books and packing a bag filled with Angel Bakery pastries and a flask of coffee to devour at the top of the Skirrid Fawr.

Emily is a friend I used to see all day, every day – I'm not exaggerating, we worked and (practically) lived together – so times like these are golden, as now we often spend weeks apart. Food is our main common interest, and that's an indicator of a lasting friendship, in my opinion. We had our pastries to look forward to at the top of the mountain but we needed fuel to get us there, so we decided to try Flora Shedden's toasted coconut oats.

Everyone knows porridge is a breakfast that will keep you going til lunch (or elevenses in our case), but adding coconut and toasting the mix elevates it to a whole new level. Why hadn't I thought of this?

Toasting oats is something I now do fairly regularly, but usually on my days off, when I have a little longer to spend on breakfast. A good hour or two is dedicated to setting myself up for the day – whatever it entails – and it is a brilliant form of self care. I recently tried Emily's suggestion: an almond variation of Flora's original recipe and it's just as good, if not better.

Now that autumn is officially here the mornings are only going to get colder, so we may as well embrace it. Fill your favourite mug with your morning drink of choice and enjoy these toasted oats one of two ways; coconut or almond, or both, if you can't decide. Perfect for warming your cockles when, you know, life calls and you have to get out of bed.

Toasted Coconut Oats (Vegan)
Adapted from Flora Shedden's Toasted Coconut Oats in Gatherings
Serves 2

1 tsp coconut oil
60g rolled oats
25g desiccated coconut
300ml coconut drink (I use Rude Health)
1 tbsp coconut sugar or maple syrup
Pinch sea salt

Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan on a medium-low heat. Add the oats and coconut and toast until golden (about five minutes). Slowly add the coconut milk and stir until it absorbs completely – as if you are making a risotto. Add a pinch of sea salt and the coconut sugar or maple syrup. Serve in two of your favourite bowls with a handful of blueberries, desiccated coconut and peanut butter.

Toasted Almond Oats
Inspired by Emily from Delaterre Food Writing
Serves 2

1 tsp butter
60g rolled oats
25g ground almonds
300ml oat milk (I use Oatly organic oat drink)
1 tbsp coconut sugar or maple syrup

Melt the butter in a small saucepan on a medium-low heat. Add the oats and the ground almonds and toast until golden (about five minutes). Slowly add the oat milk and stir until it absorbs completely – as if you are making a risotto. Add a pinch of sea salt and the coconut sugar or maple syrup. Serve in two of your favourite bowls with fresh raspberries, almond butter and any other toppings you like.


20 September 2018

Abergavenny Food Festival 2018

I've said it before, but the Abergavenny Food Festival has got to be up there as one of my favourite weekends of the year. On par with Christmas (I know), it's a special weekend I have loved ever since my family moved to Abergavenny in 2004. Last year I wrote about how the festival is a watershed of sorts, marking the end of one season and the start of another, and I suppose this year has been the same in a way that is more symbolic than literal.

I mentioned in my recent post, The Second Time, that I recently quit my job as a copywriter in Bristol to move back in with my parents in my hometown, Abergavenny. This has been a huge change and one I have found relatively easy, all things considered. I used to think working office hours was a sure sign I'd made it in the real world (whatever that is), but having recently started working shifts again my mind is changing.

Working the weekend of the Abergavenny Food Festival, when a 10-hour day felt like 10 minutes and was spent from start to finish on a high, I realised that being out there and involved is what makes life so enjoyable. So, even though I missed a lot of the events and food stalls on offer on the Saturday, what I gained was an unforgettably rich experience serving great food and coffee, meeting hundreds of people and gaining a new perspective. I even got to create and showcase my own dish for the festival – a vegan pesto and tomatoes on toast (absolutely divine, by the way). Maybe it's just me, but isn't it the experiences we don't try and orchestrate that end up being the really good, memorable ones?

Saturday evening was spent celebrating a successful day with my boss and coworker at a Grace Dent event at the Borough Theatre, which was very interesting! I don't read many restaurant reviews (lol, this is namely a food blog) but hearing her speak inspired me to get clued up and make a reservation at a swanky restaurant next time I have a spare £300.

One of my best friends, Emily, came to stay and we spent Sunday eating eating eating – our favourite thing to do. We had coffee at Bean & Bread, almond croissants from the Angel Bakery, mini patisserie treats from Cocorico, including these delightful lemon meringue tarts, samosa chaat, a halloumi pitta and vanilla sprinkles cake for my nephew's 1st birthday, not to mention all the cheese we sampled in the markets 🌝

The end of the food festival weekend always brings with it a heavy dose of the back-to-school blues I used to get as a teenager on a Sunday afternoon. I never want it to end, I always feel like it's not enough time, I want just one more day! But this year was different because this year I don't have to leave. This year I get to stay and enjoy this town some more after the city dwellers leave, and that might just be the best part of this change of season.


13 September 2018

Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

There is something really satisfying about making your own nut butter. I used to love going to Wholefoods in Cheltenham to make my own peanut butter, but those days are long gone (I think it's shut down, in fact) and now I have Aldi to thank for its super cheap nuts with which I can make my own at home. You can use any nut or seed you like for this recipe, it doesn't have to be hazelnut, but I do think they work the best with chocolate. 

This recipe came from a failed attempt at making Gaz Oakley's 'Not-Ella'. Has anyone else had any luck? It's in his Vegan 100 book. Mine was like gritty, thick chocolate milkshake. Not nice and a total waste of all my lovely ingredients!

This chocolate hazelnut butter is not really anything like Nutella at all, but it's delicious in its own right. I like it on toast with berries or in my porridge with a sliced banana. You could heat it up in a saucepan to make a hazelnut chocolate sauce or use it to make a milkshake, too.

Something you may or may not be interested to know is that this recipe is completely vegan and gluten free. I subscribe to neither those diet types but I like playing around with recipes that don't involve animal products. I'll be making more of this for Veganuary, that's for sure! If you have a loaf of banana bread going spare this would make a dreamy topping.

Chocolate Hazelnut Butter
Makes 1 small jar

You will need:
130g raw hazelnuts
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
25g raw cacao powder
60ml oat milk
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of sea salt
A strong food processor or blender – I use a Nutribullet.

Put the hazelnuts into your food processor or blender and pulse for up to 10 minutes. You will need to keep a spatula to hand to scrape down the sides of the blender as you go. Add the melted coconut oil to help speed up the process.

When your hazelnuts resemble liquid rather than ground nuts, add the remaining ingredients and continue to pulse in your blender. Scrape every last drop into your (sterilised) jar and keep in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy in moderation, or eat the entire jar in one sitting.
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