Vegan food at Keltfest and Castlefest

Week 4 of the Vegan Month of Food was about special occasions and holidays. This got me reminiscing about my favourite meals of the summer, so I thought I’d share the excellent vegan food I had at Keltfest and Castlefest earlier this year. These are two separate festivals (Keltfest is smaller and focuses on Celtic culture, while Castlefest has more of a medieval/fantasy theme) but they’re similar in a lot of ways — and both events have great vegan food. :)

Keltfest food

I’ve been to Keltfest three times now, and I’ve always found plenty of vegan options. Here’s what we ate this year:

Baklust falafel plate
My boyfriend and I shared a falafel plate from Bakblik, which included some incredibly delicious beer-battered mushrooms. I believe the sides were hummus, smoked tomato sauce and a beetroot & bulgur salad.

Tofu satay bowl + fried bananas
We also shared this delicious tofu satay bowl and a plate of deep-fried bananas. According to Keltfest’s website, the name of this stall was Grill-Zilla. If I recall correctly, they’re not exclusively vegan but they did have a separate stall serving vegan Indonesian dishes. These were both so good!

Wietses pie
Wietse’s pies offered two vegan options: a mushroom pie and a curry lentil pie. I’ve tried and enjoyed both. This was the curry pie.

Keltfest fruit salad and red velvet cake
Finally, I bought a fruit salad from a smoothie stall and a slice of red velvet cake from another stall (unfortunately I don’t remember what they were called). I always love a fruit salad, especially on a hot day, and I was excited to find vegan cake!

Castlefest food

This was my second time visiting Castlefest. Last year, I remember having a delicious vegan kapsalon by the Seitan Chefs. This year, we mainly ate at a German stall called Vegan Spirit. I’d tried their food a few years ago at Keltfest and I really like them! These dishes were all from Vegan Spirit:

Vegan Sprit spinach and cheese toastie
This was a cheese and spinach toastie served with mango sauce and tomato sauce (because I couldn’t pick one). The filling was nice and melty — I think they used Wilmersburger cheese — and the outside had been battered and fried, which, it turns out, is an excellent idea. This was a delicious lunch/snack.

Vegan Spirit paella + curry
For dinner, I had Vegan Spirit’s paella plate and my boyfriend had their Thai curry. Other options included chilli, falafel, and an Ayurvedic plate.

Keltfest goodies

Market stalls and other activities

But of course we weren’t just there for the food! There’s always music, workshops, demos, a big market, and probably lots of other activities that I haven’t discovered yet. I feel like I could spend hours just browsing all the different market stalls selling art, clothes, books, board games, and more. This year, we participated in a fun one-off D&D session at the Jack of Dice stall at Keltfest and tried out various board games in Castlefest’s games tent. The above picture shows some of the goodies I picked up at Keltfest: loose-leaf herbal tea from Eleoflora, a set of dice I got as a birthday gift for my boyfriend, and a tote bag, a calendar and cute donkey-shaped soap from Melief (an animal sanctuary in Sögel, Germany).

Both events have already taken place this year, but in case you’re interested in visiting them in the future: Keltfest takes place at the end of May, and Castlefest takes place during the first weekend of August. There’s also going to be a Castlefest Winter Edition on November 24th and 25th, 2018.

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Curry soup with lentils and rice

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Curry soup

I’ve been making this soup a lot lately while trying to get used to the cold weather: it uses ingredients I usually have on hand, so I don’t have to go out into the rain to get groceries, and it requires very little chopping and preparing so I can just get everything into the pot and go hide under a blanket near the heater while it cooks. The recipe is pretty budget-friendly (I sometimes leave out the coconut milk, though if you have it definitely put it in!) and you can add extra vegetables if you like. I’ve made it with cauliflower, chickpeas, kale, potatoes—but the basic version is still my favourite.

This is a slightly modified version of a recipe from my Mum’s recipe binder (she also makes it a lot). The original is on a magazine clipping with no other information so unfortunately I can’t tell you who wrote it. Whoever came up with it: thank you! :)

Curry soup with lentils and rice

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 or 2 red chillies, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 1/2 litres (about 6 cups) vegetable stock
150 grams (3/4 cup) brown rice
150 grams (3/4 cup) red lentils
200 ml (3/4 cup) coconut milk
toasted sliced almonds and fresh coriander/cilantro (optional)

1. Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté them until they’re translucent (about ten minutes).

2. Stir the red chilli and the curry powder into the onions and sauté for another minute. Add the vegetable stock and the rice. Rinse the red lentils in a sieve under cold water and add them to the pot as well. Cover the pot and turn the heat up to high until the stock comes to the boil, then turn down the heat and let the soup simmer until the rice is cooked and the lentils have fallen apart (about 40 minutes).

3. Mix the coconut milk into the soup and serve it with fresh coriander, almonds and/or bread.

Market log: chicory and tomato pies and vegan bitterballen

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Market day 4 November

The market was almost over by the time I arrived on this day, so I couldn’t find everything I wanted but I did get a few discounts. This is what I brought home (in the dark, hence the halved cabbage that I didn’t photograph until the next day): seven sweet potatoes for €0.50, eleven yellow peppers for €0.50, a red cabbage for €0.50, tomatoes for €0.50, mushrooms for €1, little aubergines for €1, and five heads of chicory/Belgian endive for €1

And here’s how we ate it: the yellow pepper and aubergine stew with chickpea flour dumplings that I posted about earlier, baked sweet potato chips, cabbage salad, a kind of savoury cobbler with sweet potatoes and white beans, roasted tomato and endive pies, stewed red cabbage with potatoes, stir-fries, and mushroom bitterballen.

Endive and tomatoes Endive and tomato pastries

This dish was inspired by something my Mum used to make (original recipe — in Dutch — here). The original consists of boiled chicory, sun-dried tomatoes and cheese wrapped in puff pastry. Of course this could easily be veganised using vegan cheese and pre-made puff pastry, but I wanted to try it with a cheese sauce and home-made pastry. The pastry was not what I wanted but the other elements worked well. I roasted some halved tomatoes at 200 °C (400 °F) for about 50 minutes I decided to do the same with the chicory so I wouldn’t have to boil it in a separate pot. I wrapped the vegetables in pastry with a layer of cheese sauce based on this recipe from Vegetus and baked them until crispy. If chicory’s bitter flavour doesn’t appeal to you, I think a dishes like this are an excellent way to get used to it.

Bitterballen

Finally, I decided to try my hand at home-made bitterballen. This snack usually consists of a meat ragout which is rolled into balls, battered, and deep-fried, and served with mustard. I’m pretty sure these are mainly eaten in the Netherlands and Belgium, but if you live elsewhere and you’ve had something similar, I’d love to hear about it! :)

I was half expecting this experiment to be a disaster because I’ve had shop-bought bitterballen fall apart in the deep fryer far too often, but all of these held up beautifully. I only got a picture of the ballen before they were cooked, so the ones above are still very pale, but they came out of the fryer nicely browned and crispy. I made the ragout with mushrooms instead of meat and oil instead of butter, and I used a chickpea flour batter to help the breading stick to the outside. I’d like to post a full recipe sometime, but I’d have to make them again first (poor me, right?).

Chickpea flour dumplings with yellow peppers in tomato sauce

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Chickpea flour dumplings with yellow peppers in tomato sauce

I first made this stew after I kept seeing blog posts about shakshuka, which is a dish of eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. I’ve never actually had shakshuka but I tried to imagine a vegan version, and whenever I think egg replacement I think chickpea flour. Of course these dumplings are nothing like eggs — and you definitely wouldn’t want to undercook them to dip your toast in the middle — but I liked this stew so much that I decided to share the recipe anyway. I’ll have to look for vegan shakshuka elsewhere (Terry Hope Romero has a recipe I’d love to try!).

I’ve made several versions of the sauce (some with just onions and peppers and another with quartered cherry tomatoes added in), so if you’re not an aubergine/eggplant fan you can just leave it out. If you’re like me and spicy food makes you cry, don’t be a hero; just take the seeds out of the chillies. Maybe we’ll get there someday.

I’ve written the recipe the way I prepare it, which is by adding the vegetables to the pan as I’m chopping them, but if you like mise en place of course you can chop everything in advance. I think it makes for a good one-pot meal on its own, but I definitely wouldn’t say no to some fresh bread on the side.

Chickpea flour dumplings with yellow peppers and aubergine in tomato sauce

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, quartered and sliced
1 medium aubergine/eggplant (or a handful of smaller ones), quartered and sliced 1/2 cm (1/5 inch) thick
3-4 yellow bell peppers, in 2-cm (1-inch) pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 red chillies, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika (smoked paprika is great, sweet paprika is cheap; I use a mix of both)
500 g (about 2 cups) passata (smooth tomato sauce)
Fresh coriander/cilantro and/or parsley (optional)

For the dumplings:
100 grams (about 3/4 cup, packed) chickpea flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
about 75 ml (5 tablespoons) water

1. Place a large frying pan or sauté pan over low to medium heat and add in the olive oil. Quarter and slice the onion and add it to the pan. Keep stirring occasionally as you add the other vegetables.

2. Depending on the size of your aubergine, halve or quarter it and cut it into 1/2-cm (1/5-inch) slices. Add it to pan with the onion. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers, roughly chop them, and mix them into the onions en aubergine. Mince the garlic and thinly slice the chilli (removing the seeds if you want to), then add both of those to the pan as well.

3. Add the cumin, paprika, and tomato passata to the frying pan, stir to coat the vegetables, turn the heat up, and cover the pan to bring it to a simmer while you make the dumpling batter.

4. To make the dumplings, mix together the chickpea flour, salt, baking powder, and oregano in a small mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and mix in the water a little at a time, starting with a few tablespoons and mixing until smooth — I find that this helps to prevent lumps. The batter should be thick but quite smooth.

5. Once the sauce in the frying pan has come to the boil, turn the heat down to low and add in the dumplings by dropping teaspoon-sized blobs of the batter all over the sauce. Put the lid back on the pan and let it simmer until the vegetables are soft and the dumplings are cooked; I’ve found this can take 10-20 minutes depending on the tightness of the lid. When you press on a dumpling with your finger, the surface should spring back; if it just forms an indentation, you should let it cook for a bit longer.

6. Ladle the sauce and dumplings into bowls, sprinkle it with fresh herbs (if using) and serve it on its own or with bread.

Chickpea flour dumplings with yellow peppers in tomato sauce

Market log: a salad, a stew, and courgette spread

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Market haul of 15 October, 2015

Here’s what I got at the market last month: lots of tomatoes for €1; eleven leeks for €1; strawberries for €1.25; six yellow courgettes for €1; seven fennel bulbs for €1; a bag of yellow peppers for €1, and a bowl of Brussels sprouts for €1.

Most of it went into soups and stews, but I also made pizza (as always), polenta with seitan and roasted vegetables, fennel and courgette salad, and roasted Brussels sprouts.

Courgette and fennel salad Stew and bread with courgette spread

On the left: I got a mandoline on sale for €5 last month so I’ve been eating a lot of things in thinly sliced form. Apparently this method makes raw vegetables taste extra good because this courgette and fennel salad made me love raw courgette. I had the leftovers with the pesto and tomato toastie shown above.

On the right: Another good way to use up your courgettes is this courgette butter I’ve posted about before. I’m happy to report that it’s just as good with yellow courgettes, especially on fresh bread with a little pesto on top. (That’s a fennel, potato, and tomato stew on the side.)

Some of the yellow peppers also went into a stew but I’ll save that recipe for a separate post. Speak to you soon!

Homegrown hazelnuts and raspberries (tartlets and biscuits)

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Over the years, my parents have grown a variety of beautiful fruits in their garden. Some of my favourites have been pears, plums, and strawberries, and currently they’re harvesting raspberries and hazelnuts. The only things I’ve managed to harvest from my own attempts at apartment gardening so far have been a handful of tiny tiny tomatoes and two peas, so I’m always excited by other people’s ability to grow food (especially if they’re willing to share).

Raspberries Hazelnuts

My mother knows how much I love edible gifts, so last month she brought me a little box of raspberries. They were so good I could’ve eaten them all straight away, but I wanted to save some to pair them with the hazelnuts: a homegrown dessert! (With a few ingredients from my kitchen cupboards.)

Hazelnut and raspberry tartlets

I baked these tartlets using this baking tin that my Grandma gave me. The tin is a little too shallow for muffins, but it’s perfect for little tarts that you can eat in one or two bites. The crusts consisted mostly of ground hazelnuts, flour, sugar, and cocoa, and the filling was a hazelnut milk custard with raspberries on top. The cocoa flavour in the crust wasn’t very strong (I’d meant to garnish them with grated chocolate) but hazelnut and raspberry turned out to be an excellent combination.

Because the hazelnuts were so fresh, they seemed to require a slightly longer baking time than usual: I roasted them at 175 °C (350 °F) for 30 minutes and they came out deliciously crispy and full of flavour. As a result, we (I) ended up eating a lot of them straight from the oven, but I also saved enough to use in salads, pestos, and desserts. The biscuits below were inspired by posts from Amey over at Vegan Eats and Treats!, who happened to post two hazelnut cookie recipes during the Vegan Month of Food.

Baci di dama Hazelnut biscuits

I made quite a few changes to both recipes with varying degrees of success (as the pictures illustrate) so this isn’t intended as a critical review of the recipes I link to. I just wanted to share my pictures and experiences, because the biscuits were a good way to showcase these beautiful hazelnuts!

On the left are baci di dama (“lady’s kisses”) which I based on David Lebovitz’ recipe after reading Amey’s post. I didn’t have a food processor so I ground the hazelnuts in a coffee grinder, and I didn’t have rice flour so I used plain wheat flour instead. I also halved the recipe and used sunflower oil instead of butter or margarine. My dough was too crumbly to be rolled into ropes, so I used a measuring spoon to place teaspoon-sized scoops on the baking sheet and that worked quite well. Mine definitely weren’t as pretty as David’s or as adorable as Amey’s, and they kept rolling over when I tried to fill them with chocolate, but it was all worth it because they are seriously delicious. The recipe yields 45 cookies which may seem like a lot, but they have a tendency to disappear very quickly once have a bowl of them in front of you.

On the right is my attempt at brutti ma buoni, another Italian hazelnut biscuit. This time I really made one too many changes — though I’m not sure which was the fatal one. Again, I used the coffee grinder to grind the hazelnuts (along with the flax seeds). I may have added too much sugar because the biscuits were super sweet. The main problem was that my biscuits spread out in the oven, turning into thin disks with crispy edges and chewy centres — not bad, but not what I was going for. They were also a little greasy, so I think I ground the hazelnuts just a little too long. The flavour reminded me of nougat. I’d like to try them again using a food processor to get them right, but they did live up to their name: ugly but good.

The end of VeganMoFo 2014 and another market log

(Nederlandstalige versie)

The Vegan Month of Food is almost over! I managed to post every weekday for the first two weeks, my planned schedule kind of went out the window during the final weeks, but this is my twentieth post so at least I achieved my goal. There are still plenty of things I didn’t get to (for example, I made multiple attempts to recreate the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans from Harry Potter but so far without success), but at least that leaves me with enough things to write about for the rest of the year.

Here’s another little market diary with the vegetables I bought earlier this month:

Market day 15 September

This is what I bought: A bunch of fresh coriander for €0.40; 2 bunches of spring onions for €1; 2 bunches of radishes for €1; 3 ears of corn for €1; 10 red, yellow, and green peppers for €1; 8 aubergines for €1; 13 apples for €1; 1 butternut squash for €1; 4 pomegranates for €1; 1 kilo of plums for €1.

And this is how we ate it: a spicy pumpkin soup with corn and spring onion; dumpling soup with radishes and plum chutney; chili with peppers and corn; quinoa salad with aubergine, tofu, and pomegranate; roasted aubergine salad with spring onion, hazelnuts, and pomegranate; romesco spread; red pepper burgers; oatmeal porridge with apples; radish leaf pesto; naan with spring onions and nigella; and probably more things that I’m forgetting right now.

Radishes

I baked this thing and it really was good but I have no idea what to call it. The base is a kind of savoury cake (?) of silken tofu and polenta with radish leaf pesto and spring onions mixed in and halved radishes on top. I almost added a crust underneath just so I could call it a quiche or tart, but instead I just ignored its namelessness and ate it anyway.

Roasted red pepper burger Roasted aubergine salad

I roasted the rest of the aubergines and red peppers. The aubergine went into a kind of salad with hazelnuts and spring onions (on the right) — roasted aubergine doesn’t look very appetising so I just sprinkled a lot of pomegranate on top. On the left is a veggie burger made with chickpeas and soy mince and roasted red pepper on a slice of bread with mayo and radishes (the only vegetable I had left). The burgers were pretty good but they could be better so I’m sure I’ll make them again.

That was VeganMoFo for this year! I hope everyone who participated is happy with how the month went. I’m a little behind on reading and commenting on other blogs but I hope to catch up as soon as possible. :)

Oh, and did you see this treasure hunt at the VeganMoFo HQ? I’m not in the US so I’m not entering for the prize but it’s fun to see how many items from the list you can find!