It was before the Covid lockdowns that I wrote about Burger King’s move into plant based options (see A Tale of Two Veggie Options). At the time their plant based “Rebel Whopper” was avoided by vegans and vegetarians (and even we pescatarians). The veggie patty was cooked on the same equipment (and even alongside) the beef burgers. It was also topped with egg based mayonnaise. Meat eaters who had tried them found them surprisingly meat-like, but they were not for us non-meat eaters. Burger King UK corporate bosses should have learned from the USA’s Impossible Whopper, where the cooking method even led to court cases by vegans.
Well then Covid hit hard, and with reduced menus, Burger King pulled the item. Now with Covid restrictions being lifted, Burger King is trying again. They have recently introduced some new fully vegan options to the UK market. These are the “Vegan Royale” and Rebel Whopper, which has been rebranded the “Plant-Based Whopper.” This time they are trying to fix past mistakes. The sandwiches are being “cooked completely separate from meat, dairy and egg products to avoid cross-contamination, and has been certified by the Vegan Society.” They are also topped with the usual BK salad but with a vegan mayo.
I gave the Royale a try the other day, and the breaded plant based paddy was above average for “fake chicken” and it had a pleasing texture. The mayonnaise and iceberg didn’t add a whole lot, but did balance the sandwich. As a whole I would give it an 8 out of 10.
Now with that said, individual franchises need to think a bit more about their product. On the occasion of my purchase the employee asked in a friendly tone, “Would you like bacon on that?” Well, somethings just take time to change.
Winter is still with us (in UK) and soup is always a good cold weather choice. Today I made a Mediterranean inspired vegetable soups that I found very tasty. While it lacks some traditional ingredients such as union or pasta, it is still warming and filling. My previous recipe for this I found it a bit bitter. The addition of a little milk and sugar remedied that but was hit and miss when using tomatoes. This time I used a cheaters short cut and used tomato soup rather than tomatoes, milk, and sugar. The result, I found, was far more satisfactory.
Sweet Potato 1 large (approx 350 g)
Sweet Potato 1 large (approx. 350 g)
Potato 1 average (approx. 200 – 220 g)
Carrot 1 medium (approx. 100 g)
Basil fresh 30 g
Haricot Beans [navy beans or similar] 1 tin (400 g)
Tomato Soup 1 tin (400 g)
Garlic Powder 1 tsp
Ground Oregano 1 tsp
Vegetable Stock Cube 1
Salt 1/2 tsp (or to taste)
Water 1 1/4 litres
Wash the potato with the peel on and then dice it into 1/4 inch pieces. Peel the carrot and sweet potato and cut them into similar sized pieces. Roughly chop the basil and it and the chopped veg into a soup maker or large pot, along with the water and salt. Run for one cycle (soup maker) or boil for 30 minutes. Then add the stock cube, garlic, oregano, tomato soup, and beans (drained) and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Then pulse blitz only for a few seconds, just long enough to break up any bigger pieces, and then serve. I prefer it this way, though it can be blended to smooth if you prefer.
It is hard to believe that it has been a year since the Western World seemed to be going crazy with Veganuary. Fast food outlets, and supermarkets seemed to be climbing over each other to prove which had the “best” plant based options. But as we all know, the health and environmental benefits of such foods were eclipsed by a world-wide pandemic. Lock-downs and hospitality venue close-downs led to takeaway and drive through menus only, and one of the first casualties of this was the plant-based menu options. KFC and Burger King quickly withdrew their veggie burgers in their “reduced crisis” menus.
Supermarkets, however continued to provide veggie options, though over the year I did not see as many options as I would have liked. Nonetheless, companies such as Quorn and Cauldron continued to provide tasty fare.
Among these options are two very similar products. These are The Linda McCartney Vegetarian burgers and Birdseye’s Green Cuisine Meat Free Burgers.
I have reviewed Linda McCartney’s Vegetarian Mozzarella Burgers before. Each burger has 238 calories with 17.8 grams of protein and 13.5 grams of fat. The carb measures at 10.1 grams of which 1.3 grams is sugars. The Birdseye competitor also has 238 calories per burger with 14 grams of protein and 17 grams of fat (1.3 g saturated).
The higher fat content in the Birdseye burger gives it a slight flavour edge in the burger mass, but the McCartney burger’s cheese content compensates for this to make them roughly equal in taste (in my opinion).
When grilled according to instructions, they both have limited shrinkage, through the McCartney product is slightly thicker. Both have a very similar plant mass texture, with the Birdseye burger having a very slightly richer colour. The McCartney’s cheese does give a twist to its overall texture by giving a stringy cheese presence when hot.
The plant content does differ considerably with the McCartney being primarily soya mixed with chickpea flour. The Birdseye burger is mainly rehydrated pea protein (60%), bamboo fibre, and pea flour.
All in all it is a toss up. The two products even cost the same at both Sainsbury and Tesco. That said, the Birdseye is more vegan friendly as it does not have the dairy content of the McCartney option.
For those like me who don’t have the meaty option of meatballs, and sausages to make a filling sink your teeth into meal, this might be one for you. It has the flavour of the rich pasta sauce, but the filling yumminess of good old spuds.
Potatoes 1 1/2 pounds/ approximately .7 kg
Bell Pepper 1/2 large
Garlic 2 large cloves
Olive Oil 1 Tbs
Basil 1 tsp
Oregano 1/2 tsp
Onion Powder 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Prepared Pasta Sauce (Ragu or similar) 500 g
Water as need
Greek Yogurt 2 Tbs
Peel and wash the potatoes, and cut into 1/4 inch cubes. Remove seeds from the pepper and dice onto small pieces. Peel and finely sliver the garlic. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the peppers and potatoes. Stir fry until the potatoes begin to brown on all sides. Add the garlic and herbs and continue to stir. Add the sauce to the pan, and add a small small splash of water, and stir. Reduce heat and allow sauce to warm. When it begins to bubble at the sides, stir in the yogurt until well blended and then serve.
I was looking for something a little different to do with my pantry items, so decided to go with something baked. While inspired by Gregg’s Bean and Cheese Bakes, this is more, and, well yes, less. It has more ingredients, but less filling per pastry.
Pastry Dough as per Easy as Pie or commercially pre-made approx 350-375 g
Baked Beans 400g tin
Cheese 100 g Cheddar or Leicester
Onion 1 small
Potato 1 medium
Oil 1 tsp
Ground Black Pepper 1/2 tsp
Prepare the dough as per recipe or instructions. Preheat oven to 200 C/ 390 F. Dice the onion, and peel and cube (1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces) the potato. In a frying pan add the oil and fry off the onion and potato till it begins to brown. Add fried ingredients to a mixing bowl and add the tinned beans (no need to drain), and pepper. Grate the cheese into the mixture and stir well. Cut the dough into 6 even pieces (you can see in photo I made five with one double sized as an experiment). Roll out into circular disks. Spoon about 4 or 5 tablespoons of bean mixture into the centre of each “nest” and then fold corners to to the centre. Cover a baking tray with parchment paper and place the nests on to it spaced evenly. Bake for 45 minutes. When finished, heat any remaining bean mixture in a saucepan and spoon over warm nests.
This is a really flavourful soup that is really easy to make as well. It has the filling quality of potato and the umph of garlic. How can you beat theat?
Potatoes 10-12 ounces (with peels)
Celery 8-10 stalks
Water 1.5 litres/6 1/2 cups
Garlic 3-4 large cloves
Vegetable Stock Cubes 2
Greek Yogurt 150 g/ 1/2 cup heaped
Wash the potatoes and cut into large cubes. Coarsely chop the celery. Add the potatoes and celery to a soup pot or soup maker and add the water and stock cubes. Bring to boil and then reduce to a high simmer, and cook for 1 hour (or 2 cycles in soup maker). Peel and quarter the garlic and add it to the pot/maker. Allow to simmer 5 minutes and then blitz until a thick creamy soup is made. Then stir in the yogurt and blitz quickly before serving.
I am still working my way through a huge bag of potatoes bought to see me through lock-down. As such I have had the chance to experiment with several variations of fried potatoes. One of the best of these is spicy potato fry-up, a blend of curry and hash browns.
Potatoes 1 pound/ approx. 450 g
Chili Pepper 1
Peas 1/4 cup
Oil 1 Tbs
Curry Paste 3 Tbs
Water as needed
Peel and thinly slice to potatoes and slice the chili into thin rings. In a frying pan heat oil to medium high. Add the potatoes and allow to begin to brown stirring occasionally. As the potatoes begin to caramelise add the chili rings (including seeds). Stir and add a couple of tablespoons of water, as it steams the potato mixture, stir until glazing begins again. Add the peas and some more water and add the curry paste. Mix until it becomes a glaze and cook until entire contents are well coated. When it has once again cooked to nearly dry, and then serve.
The Brits love their baked beans. A 2010 study showed that the UK led the world in baked beans consumption 444,908,011 units being consumed. That said, in these times of living from our “long-life” pantries, even the wonderful tomato sauce enhanced staple can become the archetype of “Same old, same old.”
So with that in mind I will present a few ways to wake up or enliven the classic tinned bean. The first of these recipes is a honey and mustard blend that I hope you will enjoy.
Baked Beans 400 – 420 g tin (depending of brand). [For North Americans a vegetarian option is best, but your standard Pork and Beans will work]
Onion 1 small to medium
Oil 1 -2 tsp
Whole Grain Prepared Mustard 1 1/2 Tbs
Honey 1 Tbs
Peel and dice the onion. In a medium sized sauce pan warm the oil and then stir in the onion until it begins to become translucent. Add the tin of beans, mustard, and honey and a splash of water. Heat until it just starts to reduce. That’s all there is to it.
I served the beans over large wedges of home baked rye bread.
I woke up with a sweet tooth this morning, so decided to go with some pancakes. I am a sucker for anything cinnamon-raisin, so it seemed the perfect combination for the situation.
Flour 1/2 cup (for lighter pancakes use self rising)
Porridge Oats 1/2 cup
Raisins 1/4 cup
Baking Powder 1/2 tsp
Soy Milk (any milk will do) 250 ml (approx 1 cup)
Coconut Oil 1 Tbs (any vegetable oil will do, but I like the sweet hint in the pancake)
Cinnamon 1 tsp
Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and mix well. Add a beaten egg and the raisins. Stir in the milk until it makes a fluid, but not watery batter. Heat the oil in a frying pan, and make sure the pan is well coated. Pour any excess oil into the batter and mix. Take a tiny amount of the batter and drip it into the pan. When it sizzles and starts to take the form of a tiny pancake, take a ladle full of the batter into the pan and allow it to spread into a pancake. When bubbles form, and the indents caused by them remain, carefully flip the pancake to allow the other side to cook (about 1-2 minutes). Repeat the ladling process until all the batter is used.
Serve with butter and your choice of toppings (on this occasion I used 1 Tbs of golden syrup).
I was trying to find a nice compliment for some scampi, so I decided on making some paprika flavoured chips. This is a really simple recipe, and a great air fryer treat.
Russet Potato 1 large or 2 medium (about 12 ounces peeled)
Olive Oil 1 1/3 Tbs
Salt to taste (I used about a tsp)
Smokey Paprika 1 tsp
Peel the potato and cut into “chunky chip” (thick fries) size pieces. Place in a bowl of cold water for about 10 minutes to remove excess starch. Drain and pat dry on kitchen paper. Pour oil into a large bowl and add the potatoes. Roll potato pieces until coated nicely. Then sprinkle with the paprika and salt and all sides. Using and air fryer set for just under full heat, and time for 15 minutes. Place the chips into the basket, and wait for the fryer to do its thing. That’s all there is to it.
If an air fryer isn’t your thing, it can work in the oven at 200C for 20 minutes. My wife used to parboil the potato slices first, when doing the oven method. I prefer the air fryer method.