A Brief Pause

Yogi Tea Quotes Yogi Tea Quotes Yogi Tea Quotes

These beautiful tea bags are from Yogi Tea. They’ve been a staple in my cupboard for over a decade and I can never get enough of their gorgeous flavours.

What a couple of weeks coming up… Tomorrow I will be heading to Morocco, returning the following week ready to move house! That means it is going to be a quiet couple of weeks on the blogging front but I hope to have a lot of exciting things to share when I get back :)

Leeds in the Limelight – Finding Nature in Leeds

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months (read: year), no one in Yorkshire can possibly have failed to noticed that this year’s Tour de France Grand Départ is kicking off in Leeds. But of course, for anyone outside of the county or indeed outside of the country, Leeds is unlikely to be on your radar.

I’ve been a Leeds resident myself for almost three years now after having moved here to do a MA at the University of Leeds in 2011. My sister has been a Leeds local for twice that; making my decision to move here a pretty simple one. It would have seemed unfathomable, however, to my three-years-ago-self that I would still be here now. Compared to Seoul, my former home (of three out of the four years prior), this city is small and, sometimes, it sleeps at night.

Leeds is often written-off as just another grim Northern city. And certainly, it can be a bit “rough around the edges” and you might get your post-Saturday night out takeaway knocked out of your hands by a passing ruckus, but Leeds has its own unique charm and a lot on offer. It also has a surprising amount of green spaces. In honour of the spotlight being on Leeds this weekend, it seemed the perfect opportunity to show off what Leeds does have on offer with my personal picks of some of the best things to do outdoors in Leeds (all unintentionally in North Leeds!).

Roundhay Park & Tropical WorldRoundhay Park LeedsRoundhay Park is one of Leeds’ best known parks and for good reason. Covering more than 2.8 square kilometres, it is one of the biggest city parks in Europe. The park boasts two lakes, woodland, plentiful green open spaces, and an impressive mansion house.Tropical World Leeds Tropical World LeedsLocated in Roundhay Park, you can also find Tropical World. Very reasonably priced compared to similar attractions elsewhere at only £3.40 for an adult ticket, Tropical World is home to meerkats, birds, butterflies, reptiles, and much more.

The details: Roundhay Park is located in North-East Leeds. Catch buses 2 and 12 from Leeds city centre. For more information visit the Roundhay Park Leeds website.

Golden Acre Park & Adel DamGolden Acre Park LeedsAnother beautiful and surprisingly large park on the outskirts of Leeds is Golden Acre Park. Well-kept paths snake around the park which features a lake, ornate gardens, and a cherry tree orchard.

Adel Dam LeedsBehind the park, you can enter Adel Dam Nature Reserve. The Nature Reserve has various bird watching sheds, including one situated over another smaller lake.

Details: Golden Acre Park is located in North Leeds, between Adel and Bramhope. Catch buses 780, 784 and X84 from Leeds City Centre. For more information visit the Leeds City Council Website.

Hetchell WoodsHetchell Woods Leeds Hetchell Woods LeedsA tranquil stretch of woodland, Hetchell Woods is a nature reserve featuring rare species, craggy rock faces, and wonderful views over the undulating farmlands around. A network of paths runs in and around the woods, along a babbling stream and out into the surrounding fields. The area is relatively small but makes for a lovely country walk.

Details: North East of Leeds. Best accessed car but buses 98, 98A, 99 and X98 can be taken to nearby Bardsey, around a mile away. For more information visit the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Website.

Harewood House

An imposing country house located in the village of Harewood seven miles from central Leeds, there is much more to Harewood than simply the house. A bird garden, lake, wildflower gardens and tea rooms are just a handful of treats waiting here. The Himalayan Garden is a hidden gem replete with stupa and prayer flags. The house and gardens are encircled by gorgeous rolling pastureland.  Harewood House LeedsHarewood House LeedsHarewood House LeedsA visit is a bit on the pricey side, with an adult ticket being £14 including the house and £10 for only the grounds, but if you take the bus to Harewood then you can benefit from a 50% reduction.

Details: Harewood, North of Leeds. Bus 36 runs from Leeds city centre through Chapel Allerton, can also be caught if you are coming from Harrogate – or want to continue on to there after (highly recommended!) For more information visit the Harewood House website.

Do you like getting out and about in your own city? What gems have you discovered?

Baked Linseed-Batter Mushrooms with Spicy Korean Dip | Vegan

Whole mushrooms coated in a golden linseed batter, baked to perfection and served on a bed of fresh pea shoots and thinly sliced radish. A thick, tangy Korean-inspired dressing brings a spicy punch to round off the dish.Linseed Mushrooms 02This was a lovely light dinner that I had recently. Baking the mushrooms with no added oil turned it into a tempting but guilt-free option!

In this recipe, I actually used milled linseed mixed with goji berries, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds – a bag that I picked up the bag in my local Lidl. You could use plain milled linseed or a linseed mix depending on your preference or what you have in stock.Linseed Mushrooms 01The Korean red pepper paste, gochujang, can be picked up in any East Asian food store. Alternatively, you can substitute with a chili sauce but the flavour will be quite different. This recipe uses a whole tablespoon mixed in with the soy sauce and lemon juice; for a less spicy version reduce the ratio of pepper paste to soy/lemon mix.Linseed Mushrooms 03Ingredients:

250g mushrooms, cleaned, whole (cut larger ones in half)

45g pea shoots

200g radish, top & tailed, thinly sliced

For the batter:

100g gram (chickpea) flour

100ml milk of your choice (I used soy)

2tbsp milled linseed

Pinch of pepper/salt if desired

For the dressing:

1tbsp soy sauce

1tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180c / gas mark 6. Put the gram flour in a bowl. Slowly add the milk, mixing well as you do so. Add in the linseed, mix until the batter is smooth.

2. Dip each mushroom into the batter, ensuring it is fully coated. Place each onto a well-greased baking tray or baking parchment.

3. Place in the oven and bake for around 15 minutes or until the batter has turned golden brown and cooked through completely.

4. In the meantime, prepare the salad by slicing the radish and adding to the pea shoots. In a small dish, mix the dressing ingredients together, stirring until they have formed a smooth paste.

5. Serve the battered mushrooms on a bed of salad. The dip can either be drizzled on top or served on the side.Linseed Mushrooms 04Linseed Mushrooms 05What have you been cooking recently?

Superfood Snacking – Punku Quinoa Cookies

As far as superfoods go, quinoa seems to pretty much have it all: a complete protein full of minerals and amino acids. It is low in fat, cholesterol-free, high in fibre and a good source of iron. Not only that but it is also incredibly versatile. There are a lot of recipes out there that demonstrate the creative ways it is being used, such as in baking or pizza bases (that probably deserves a whole post of its own).

I love cooking with quinoa and have featured a few of recipes on this blog such as my Spiced  Quinoa Medallions and Curly Kale Quinoa. I’ve yet to try making anything more adventurous using quinoa though, so I was excited when I recently heard about Punku’s quinoa cookies and was offered the opportunity to try them out.Punku Cookies 01Punku Cookies 02

Punku offer two varieties of cookie, orange & mango and chocolate chips, with an orange & cranberry variety on its way. Made from organic Royal Quinoa, their vegan cookies are wheat, gluten, dairy and egg-free. Deliciously crunchy, I found the cookies to be that ideal balance between satisfying my sweet cravings whilst not actually being particularly sweet in taste.

The fruity flavours of the orange & mango variety hit you immediately with a mellow nuttiness that rounds it off beautifully. The chocolate chip ones are more subtle, with just a hint of cocoa, but have a moreish quality about them.Punku Cookies 03

Each cookie comes individually wrapped in a box of twelve. This makes them really convenient for popping your bag as a snack and removes some of the temptation to scoff a whole box (as I might have done had they not been individually wrapped). I’ve been taking one of each flavour to work everyday; one to accompany my morning coffee and one to go with my afternoon coffee. That’s the theory anyway, they haven’t always made it past lunchtime. The boxes clock in at £4.99 each. The packaging is very simple and clean-looking, although I would love to see them reflect their Bolivian roots a little more.Punku Cookies 04

Punku Cookies 05The word ‘Punku’ comes from Aymara, the language native to some parts of The Andes, meaning ‘door.’ A perfect metaphor since Patricia Estivariz, Punku’s founder who grew up in Bolivia, aims to open doors both here in the UK and in Bolivia; by bringing high quality, healthy, and natural foods from Bolivia to the UK and by creating education and health programmes for their employees in Bolivia.

The impact of quinoa’s rapidly growing popularity in Western countries has pushed prices up and made growing quinoa a more attractive trade. As more families in Bolivia become dependent upon quinoa crops, it is even more important that companies behave in socially responsible ways so it really is wonderful to hear about the positive impact Punku are striving to create.

To find out more about Punku, visit their website.

Have you ever tried any unusual quinoa foods or recipes? Share below!

Tuscan-Inspired Frittata di Carciofi con Fagioli | Vegan

Mini vegan ‘frittata di carciofi’ or artichoke omelette with the delicious fresh sage and black pepper. Accompanied by crisped ‘fagioli’ or white cannellini beans baked in truffle oil and crushed garlic. All served with lashings of fresh lemon juice.

“A Tuscan dish? But we were expecting some Sicilian recipes!” I hear you cry (just play along with me here…) It is true that I promised you all some Sicilian recipes of my own, but I heard a rumour that Tuscany Now are currently hosting a food blogger challenge. The competition is actually open to all Italian-inspired recipes but as soon as I heard the word ‘Tuscan’ my attention immediately wandered and I became curious about Tuscan cuisine.

Simple cooking and flavourful, fresh seasoning forms the basis of the region’s food with its roots firmly in peasant cooking. Free-flowing olive oil, rich truffle, an abundance of beans, garlic and sage; the more I read the more I could already taste the flavours of Tuscany! The artichoke omelette, ‘Frittata di carciofi,’ was one dish that caught my eye, as was the idea of making the most of the area’s love of the humble bean.Tuscan-Inspired Frittata di Carciofi con Fagioli  | Vegan

This dish is by no means the same as you would find in a Tuscan cookbook. It is very much an interpretation, but the flavours are 100% authentic and I hope enough to pique the taste buds of any Italian mangione.Artichoke Omelettes 02

The vegan omelette mix here can be a little on the tricky side so take great care when turning – wait until the underside has turned golden brown and the edges are cooked through first. This is definitely not a mix for flipping! It’s worth letting the beans crisp a little to add a wonderful contrast of textures. The truffle oil can be substituted for an oil of your choice but it adds an extra dimension to the flavour that I wouldn’t recommend missing out on.Artichoke Omelettes 01

Ingredients:

Makes around 12 mini omelettes.

For the omelettes:

1 tin/jar of artichoke hearts, sliced

400g firm tofu

1tbsp milk of your choice (I used soy)

1tbsp tahini

4tbsp cornflour

2tsp vegetable bouillon

2 stalks fresh sage, roughly torn; extra to serve

Generous amount of black pepper

Oilve oil, for cooking

For the beans:

1 tin/235g white cannellini beans (drained weight)

2tbsp truffle oil

5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the back of a knife

Juice of one lemon; extra slices to serve

Method:

1.Preheat the oven to 180C / gas mark 6. Put the beans, truffle oil and garlic into an oven-proof dish. Mix well to ensure that the beans are fully coated in the oil and the garlic is well distributed.

2. In the meantime, place the block of tofu in a large bowl. Using a spoon, mash well until it is fully crumbled. Add the milk, tahini, cornflour, vegetable bouillon, fresh sage and black pepper to the tofu and mix thoroughly until it forms a batter. Stir in the artichokes.

3. Place the beans in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes until the edges of the beans have become crispy.

4. In a frying pan, heat 2-3tbsp olive oil (depending on the size of the pan) over a medium-high heat.  Spoon in the batter to create individual mini omelettes, leaving a little space between each so they don’t run together.

5. Slightly lower the heat and cook for around 7-8 minutes until the edges have cooked through. Carefully turn the omelette and cook for a further 2-3 minutes on the other side. If they are not browning, add a small amount of additional olive oil. Depending on the size of your pan, you will need to cook them in 2-3 batches.

6. Remove the beans from the oven and pour over the lemon juice. Serve atop the omelettes. Garnish with fresh lemon and fresh sage.Artichoke Omelettes 04 Artichoke Omelettes 05This is my entry to the #TuscanyNowCookOff – for more details and to enter visit their blog. Have you ever cooked any Tuscan dishes?