Simple Pleasures

When I threw my arms around my vegan friends in a flurry of tequila fuelled love, inviting them to dine on a home cooked Sunday meal with me,I hadn’t put much thought into the ensemble past the potatoes.The difference between a “dinner party” and a simple supper are all of the little extras. Probably, the universal favourites of these are bread and cheese.

I desperately enjoy baking so that wasn’t going to be a problem. I settled on a type of bread… Okay, I settled on three. 

Following that I needed a cheese. Something strong that would hold its own as a savoury dessert option. Before going vegan, I found that soft cheese pleased a majority. Whether Boursin, Boulle or even Philadelphia, given garlic and herbs, there’s nothing shameful in an easy cheaper option.

For the cheese:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 8 hours and drained.

3 tbsp refined coconut oil- solid form

1 large clove garlic

1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary

1 tsp fresh chopped mint

1/2 tsp Maldon salt

Juice 1/2 lemon

In a blender, combine the cashews, coconut oil, garlic and lemon until completely smooth in texture. 

Add the salt and herbs and pulse until evenly distributed.

Line a large ramekin with cling film and press the mixture into this. 

Leave to set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

For the bread:

The beetroot recipe is coming soon, but for now, here’s my recipe for black olive and rosemary loaves. 

250g strong white flour

200ml tepid water

1 X 7g sachet quick yeast

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus more for brushing

2 tbsp chopped black olives

1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 tsp Maldon salt  

In a measuring jug, stir together the tepid water, yeast, 1 tbsp oil and maple syrup, making sure all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Meanwhile, stir together the salt and flour in a large mixing bowl.

Make a well in the flour and slowly fold the liquid into the dry ingredients. 

Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for upwards of 45 minutes.

When the dough has at least doubled in size and is bubbly, turn out onto a very well floured surface. The dough will be quite sticky so keep dusting with flour until the dough becomes easier to work with. 

Sprinkle with a little more flour and cut the dough into two equal-sized balls. 

Add the olives to one ball and the Rosemary to the other. Knead each ball for roughly 4-6 minutes, thoroughly binding the additional ingredients.

Shape into two sausages, place on a floured tray and brush with the remaining oil. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave for a further 30 minutes.

Preheat the over to 220 degrees c. Bake the loaves for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 200. Bake for a further 14-16 minutes until the loaves sound hollow when the bases are tapped.

Cool slightly and serve! 



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