Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Smashed avocado with roasted tomatoes and poached egg

This is a great breakfast or brunch dish to whip up on a weekend, or even a week day morning if you find yourself with a bit of time to spare.  It only takes 20 minutes or so to make and is a real treat; smashed avocado with various toppings is an increasingly popular dish on many breakfast/brunch menus and we like it particularly with tomatoes and poached egg.

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C and whilst it reaches temperature, half six small tomatoes.  We've been using some Sainsbury's Taste the Difference ones that are really sweet and juicy - well worth the few extra pence.  Place the tomato halves on a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil then sprinkle a little dried oregano, dried basil, salt and black pepper over the top.  Place in the hot oven for 15 minutes.

Whilst the tomatoes are cooking, take a ripe (very ripe is best) avocado and scoop out the flesh into a bowl.  Add the juice of half a lemon, or a lime if you don't have a lemon, along with half a teaspoon of chilli flakes and a pinch of salt and black pepper.  Use a fork to smash the avocado up leaving a few small chunks and mix well.

Bring a pan of water up to the boil and add a good pinch of salt and half a tablespoon of malt vinegar to the water.  When it is at a gentle boil, crack in two eggs and poach for 3-4 minutes until they are set but the yolks are still soft.  In the meantime, toast two slices of bread - fresh sourdough is our favourite but go with whatever you like best.

Spread some butter on the toast, smear over the avocado mixture and top with the poached egg and roasted tomatoes.  A really delicious breakfast that is simple to make and relatively healthy.  We hope you enjoy!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Jamie's Italian, Norwich

Wife of the Vegan Man first went to Jamie's Italian in Bath many years ago and can remember exactly what she ate despite the consumption of several cocktails that evening, which is a good reflection on the quality of the food. When Jamie's Italian opened in Norwich WOTVM had mixed feelings, mainly due to the fact that the restaurant was to open in the building that previously housed the much loved Waterstones in the Royal Arcade. On her first visit not long after it opened she was pleased to see that it had been sympathetically renovated (all the restaurants are decorated in keeping with the era of the building) and was looking rather swish.

When we first came to eat here as a couple we must admit that the vegetarian options were limited and the vegan ones pretty non-existent, however as the food is freshly made the staff were always happy to accommodate a cheese hating vegetarian such as Mr Vegan Man. While we don't visit here too often we're pleased to say we have noticed a vast improvement in the veggie/vegan options on offer over the past couple of years. Also, in comparison to some other Italian restaurant chains where pizza is often the highlight of the menu, there's not a pizza in sight at Jamie's Italian. The focus here is more on fresh pastas and mains with an Italian twist.

Our reason for visiting on this occasion was as a Gold Club member (this is free, you can sign up on the website and there is also an app to download) WOTVM had a birthday treat of a free bottle of Prosecco to claim - well, it'd be rude not to really! As a Gold Club member you also get a free taster for everyone on your table and a 'treat' which ranges from £10 off your bill to a free glass of house wine, so it really makes sense to sign up for one.

We were greeted on arrival and quickly seated. The staff here are very friendly and know their stuff, most are happy to recommend a dish or drink if you're having trouble deciding. Our waiter, Francesco, was no exception and quickly bought over the Prosecco wishing us both a happy birthday as it was after WOTVM's and before Mr Vegan Man's birthday.

As it was a celebration we decided to go for the full 3 courses. We both went for antipasti planks for our starters, one meaty, one veggie of course. WOTVM's meat plank was very good indeed, a great selection of Italian meats and cheeses with a fresh slaw and accompanying olives and caper berry. The highlight was the creamy buffalo mozzarella.

Mr Vegan Man's veggie plank came with a good selection of roasted veg antipasti along with some cheesy additions which he coped with as they were quite mild and not melty. A thumbs up all round!

It was at this point we were also brought our free taster which was Italian Nachos - crispy fried cheesy ravioli in a slightly spicy tomato sauce. We got stuck into this, forgetting to take a photo, but can confirm it was tasty, a comforting mix of a classic cheese and tomato combo.

Our mains arrived soon after, WOTVM had gone for a dish she's had before, fresh crab spaghetti. Crab isn't something she gets to have at home very much so this was a real treat. The pasta was cooked perfectly and was tossed in a fresh, lemony sauce which went perfectly with the sweet crab. The addition of some fresh chilli, herbs and pepper made it even more delicious.

Mr Vegan Man went for Ravioli Genovese - green pasta enclosing a primavera filling and served with lovage pesto, hazelnuts and pine nuts.  The pasta was lovely and thin, not too heavy, and cooked right on point.  The filling was fresh and tasty and the pesto added a nice zing, with the nuts adding a bit of extra crunch and flavour to the dish.  The portion size was generous and although the quantity of veggies meant that the dish was not overly heavy, it managed to have a nice richness that made it feel special.  The presentation was stunning too, it looked a real picture.

We were pretty stuffed by this point when the waiter informed WOTVM that she was also entitled to a free chocolate brownie for pudding as part of her birthday treat. Feeling as full as she was she asked if she could perhaps have some ice cream instead - the waiter didn't think we could, be when he returned said he had checked and on this occasion she was in luck (she didn't mention she had done the same dessert swap on her birthday last year). Good ice cream is one of WOTVM's absolute favourite things to eat so when three delicious scoops (2 salted caramel, 1 chocolate) came out smothered in butterscotch sauce she was in her element. Full or not, the pudding stood no chance! 

Mr Vegan Man, in a show of birthday solidarity, also went for ice cream but replaced one scoop of salted caramel with a scoop of vanilla and some crushed honeycomb on top.  It was delightful, the ice cream was smooth and full of flavour.  The perfect way to end a meal.

The bill came in at a shade under £45, which was a cracking bargain considering we'd had three courses, a taster, and a whole bottle of Prosecco.  If nothing else this highlights the great value you get from being a Gold Club member, particularly during birthday month.  Our service was excellent, Francesco was enthusiastic and attentive and did his best to make us feel special.

You can visit Jamie's Italian website here to have a look at their menu, find your local branch and become a Gold Club member.  Enjoy!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Roasted chickpea and avocado salsa wraps

This is one of our favourite midweek recipes and is something we make at least once every few weeks, sometimes more.  It's a very quick and tasty evening meal.  We've pimped this version up slightly with the addition of some griddled halloumi to make it more substantial, however we often have it without.  Minus the halloumi, this recipe is vegan and is a bit lighter.  We really love the mixture of spice and crunch from the chickpeas with the sweetness from the roasted corn and the fresh zing of the salsa.  Delicious!

Ingredients (makes 4 wraps)
4 flour or corn tortilla
400g can of chickpeas - we use Napolina tinned pulses as they are plump and tasty and worth the few pence extra
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chilli flakes
0.5 tsp salt
1 corn on the cob
1 ripe avocado
1 jarred roasted pepper
1 scotch bonnet chilli
1 clove of garlic
Handful of coriander (10-15g)
1 lime
0.5 tbsp red wine vinegar
0.5 tbsp olive oil
To garnish
Sliced cucumber
1 block of halloumi (225g)
Vegan aioli or mayonnaise

Preparation and cooking time 35 minutes

Pre-heat your oven to 190°C and then wrap your corn in the cob in some tin foil along with a knob of butter.  Place the corn in the oven, it will take about 30 minutes to roast up nicely.  In the meantime, add the olive oil, paprika, cumin, chilli flakes and salt to a bowl. 

Drain the can of chickpeas and give them a rinse.  Add them to your oil and spice mixture and mix thoroughly until all of the chickpeas are coated.  Transfer them to a small roasting tin and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  Give them a shake halfway through.

Whilst the sweetcorn and chickpeas are cooking, prepare your salsa.  Crush the garlic and finely chop the Scotch Bonnet, depending on your spice tolerance you might want to remove the seeds from the chilli.  Cut the roasted pepper and avocado into a fine dice and put all the ingredients into a small bowl.

Add the olive oil and red wine vinegar and then squeeze over the juice of the lime.  Give the salsa a quick mix and add a pinch of salt and pepper to season.  Finally, chop the coriander leaf finely and then mix in.

If you are having halloumi as we did, chop the block into eight equal sized pieces and in a hot griddle pan crisp the halloumi up for 3 minutes on each side.

Remove the chickpeas and sweetcorn from the oven and use a knife to remove the corn from the cob.  Place into bowls ready for serving.

Soften the tortillas for 40 seconds either on a plate in the microwave or in a hot frying pan.  We used some of our homemade vegan aioli to drizzle over the tortilla before piling on the other ingredients, this is optional but some sort of mayo or sour cream (or vegan version thereof) adds a nice cooling creaminess and helps hold the tortilla together.  Add the other components - including some thin slices of cucumber for crunch and even more freshness - to the tortilla then roll and fold it up.

Your wraps are then ready to eat and enjoy.  Two wraps each makes a hearty dinner for two, another option would be to cook up some spicy potato wedges and serve these with a wrap and a side salad and you have dinner for four.  We hope you enjoy these wraps as much as we do.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Pasta with artichoke, green beans, lemon and spinach

This vegan recipe is loosely based on one WOTVM found in a magazine when she first started dating Mr Vegan Man. Being an avid cook, WOTVM was eager to impress Mr Vegan Man with one of her favourite homemade recipes, only to find out that he didn't eat meat, and doesn't like cheese. Then she came across this vegan pasta dish and took a gamble on it... fortunately it turned out great and we have been making and adapting it ever since, and so it has reached its current incarnation. The fresh green veg and lemon make it a lovely light dish for lunch or dinner on a warm day and it is beautiful with a crisp, cold glass of white wine.

Ingredients (serves 2)

200g pasta (linguine or spaghetti work well)
100g marinated artichoke hearts (either from the deli or from a jar), drained.
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1 small garlic clove, crushed
Handful of basil leaves
Handful of baby spinach leaves
Handful of fine green beans, chopped into bite size pieces
Toasted pine nuts and drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to finish
Pea shoots to garnish (optional)

The beauty of this tasty dish is that it can be assembled in the time it takes to cook the pasta (unless you are using fresh pasta)! So, the first thing to do is bring some water to the boil and then cook your chosen pasta according to the instructions on the pack. When your pasta has about 4 minutes left to go, chuck your chopped green beans in with the pasta to cook as well.

In the meantime, you can prepare the rest of your ingredients in a large bowl. Slice your artichoke hearts into quarters, add in the crushed garlic, basil leaves and spinach. Then simply squeeze in the fresh lemon juice and zest and give a stir to combine.

Toast your pine nuts in a dry frying pan, taking care not to burn them as they take on a golden colour quite quickly.

When your pasta is cooked (preferably al dente, but however you prefer it), drain, but make sure you reserve 2 tbsp. of the cooking liquid in the pan. Add the ingredients you have prepared in the bowl to the pasta pan along with the cooked pasta and beans, toss thoroughly and then put the lid on the pan for about a minute. The residual heat will wilt the spinach and allow the flavours to infuse.

Season well with freshly ground salt and black pepper to taste and serve simply in a bowl. To finish, drizzle with olive oil, scatter over a few toasted pine nuts and add a few pea shoots to garnish if using.

It's hard to believe that a dish that can be prepared from scratch in around 15 minutes can be so enjoyable. We'd choose this over a ready meal any time, and with such a quick and easy recipe, there's no excuse not to really! Enjoy!

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Dinner at Benedict's

Benedict's opened in Norwich a little over 12 months ago.  The chef/owner, Richard Bainbridge, had been head chef at the acclaimed Morston Hall but decided to strike out alone.  Hearing Rich speak about his experiences of opening the restaurant is quite inspiring; he had limited financial backing which meant no budget for publicity and so the restaurant opened with little fanfare and no real nest egg to fall back on if times were hard. 

It was a gamble, no doubt, although Rich also knew that his appearance on Great British Menu - one of our favourite programmes - was imminent and would offer the kind of publicity that money can't buy.  For anyone who didn't see Great British Menu, Rich absolutely smashed it.  His starter and dessert bookended the banquet menu, and for good measure his main course was amongst the top three in the series too.  It was a great story after a number of very near misses on the programme and anyone who watched the show will have been taken by Rich's open and affable personality.

Since opening, Benedict's has gone from strength to strength, winning a number of awards locally, an excellent review in the Guardian as well as a write up as one of the UK's best new restaurants in the Times.  We first visited towards the end of 2015 and again at the beginning of April with Mr Vegan Man's brother and his partner.  Both visits were excellent and so for WOTVM's birthday last month, Mr Vegan Man bought her a gift certificate for Benedict's and as Mr Vegan Man's birthday is also coming up, we treated ourselves to another visit this Friday.

Despite the food being very much fine dining - many people feel a Michelin star can't be too far away - the décor and atmosphere at Benedict's is decidedly unfussy.  There are no white tablecloths and complicated place settings.  It is simple, classy and elegant.  The service is friendly and attentive but happily far away from being fussy, formal and overbearing.  We were particularly pleased at the end of the evening when we left and one of the waitresses said goodbye and said "good to see you again" - given this was only our third visit, that was a really nice touch and showed an impressive memory!

On to the food and drink.  As we were seated we were asked if we'd like a drink, a G&T or a glass of fizz.  We decided to go for a G&T which is made with their own blended gin made not far away in Cambridge.  The gin was delicious, a hint of cucumber giving it a similar flavour profile to Hendrick's, which is no bad thing. 

There are two main menu choices at Benedict's, diners can either pick two or three courses from the small but interesting a la carte menu (three choices for each course, including one veggie option) for £29 for two courses or £36 for three courses.  The other option is to choose the tasting menu, which provides six courses plus canapés for £52 for the meat option and £45 for the vegetarian option.  They also offer a GBM tasting menu featuring the dishes Rich cooked on the series for £55.  Alongside the tasting menu you can choose a wine flight, with a different wine paired to each course, for £32.  Mr Vegan Man did this on our last visit but we decided against it on this occasion, however you do get a good amount of very good wine for the price and a nice explanation of each wine and how it pairs with the dish you're eating.

After much deliberation we decided to go for the tasting menu - one meat and one vegetarian, naturally.  We also ordered a bottle of Stopham Estate Pinot Blanc, which Mr Vegan Man had tried as part of the wine flight.  It was excellent, really fruity and quite full-bodied for a white wine but still with a freshness that goes nicely with the richly flavoured food on offer.  Before the main canapés arrived, we were treated to some delightful salt and vinegar crisps, served quirkily in a pine cone.  They went nicely with our G&Ts; pleasingly we were asked if we'd like our wine to wait until we'd finished our aperitifs and that was a nice touch and most welcome otherwise we'd have had three drinks on the go with our tap water.

The first canapés arrived - a playful take on cheese and pineapple and vol au vents. The cheese mousse with pressed pineapple was lovely, smooth and creamy cheese complimented by sharp, sweet pineapple.  Mr Vegan Man's pastry case was filled with edible flowers and salad cream and was a lovely little burst of flavour and the pastry was so delicate and melted in the mouth.  WOTVM's pastry was filled with salmon roe mousse and cucumber and was also delicious.

The second round of canapés was a warm sherry foam with a puffed cracker topped with lightly pickled vegetables and fruity gels for Mr Vegan Man, and with cured salmon replacing the vegetables on WOTVM's cracker.  The sherry mousse is one of the tastiest things in the world.  That is no exaggeration.  We were fortunate enough to have it on our last visit too and the four of us loved it.  As on our previous visit, we were offered some sourdough bread and unpasteurised butter to mop up the remaining foam with.  The bread and butter was glorious - the sourdough was very tangy and the butter rich and salty.  Little touches like this make a big difference.

Our appetizers arrived - the first dish on the tasting menu - with WOTVM having a Baron Bigod mousse with hen's yolk and Mr Vegan Man having Katja's Garden (named for Mrs Bainbridge), which was a combination of pea sorbet, tomato foam and edible flowers and herbs.  The pea sorbet was wonderfully smooth and packed with fresh pea flavour; underneath it were some fresh young peas which added a nice texture and little bursts of sweetness.  The tomato foam was so fresh and clean and added a bit of acidity to the sweet flavour of the peas, whilst the flowers and herbs added extra freshness. 

In contrast, WOTVM's appetizer was rich and decadent, the creamy Baron Bigod cheese - a British cheese similar in appearance to brie - combining with the runny egg yolk made an unctuous combination.  WOTVM tried Mr Vegan Man's appetizer too and was a little jealous as she loved the lightness of Katja's Garden with its fresh, summer flavours.

Our starters followed soon after, a Caesar salad for Mr Vegan Man and mackerel with watercress, radish and dill for WOTVM.  The mackerel was seared and full of smoky flavour, the little pickles radishes were earthy and sharp, working well with the oily fish.  There was a green quenelle on the plate which we think was dill butter, WOTVM was not overly keen on this as it seemed a little sweet to her taste.

Mr Vegan Man's Caesar salad was really tasty.  The scorched baby gem lettuce had a lovely smoky flavour that stayed in the back of the mouth and the breadcrumbs and finely grated cheese were nicely salty.  The salad cream gave some nice acidity and overall it was a really successful dish and a clever twist on a classic.

The next course was a Caesar salad for WOTVM, this time substituting Gentleman's Relish for the salad cream, and for Mr Vegan Man a hen's yolk ravioli with watercress and crispy garlic.  The ravioli was beautifully cooked, the pasta was nice and thin with a beautiful soft texture.  The egg yolk oozed out giving a lovely rich coating to the rest of the ingredients.  The seasoning was lovely and Mr Vegan Man also had a green quenelle on his plate but in contrast to WOTVM, he really liked it and it went well with the rest of the dish.  There was a good balance between rich decadence from the egg and butter and the freshness of watercress and herbs.

WOTVM also enjoyed her Caesar salad, the Gentleman's Relish adding a nice tang along with the crisp and smoky scorched lettuce.  She agreed with Mr Vegan Man that it was a really good dish with a nice combination of flavours.

The first three courses came fairly quickly after one another but there was a welcome gap before the main courses arrived.  On the three times we've visited the pacing of the meal has always been something that's stood out - the six courses plus canapes is quite a lot of food, so to avoid feeling overly full too quickly the full menu is spread out nicely and at the end of the meal you feel satisfied but not uncomfortable.  At the same time, at no point do you really feel that you are waiting a long time for your next course; again, it's the little details like this which make a place stand out.

Mr Vegan Man's main course was a potato pithivier with summer truffle and buttered pilsner sauce.  The pithivier was beautifully made, the pastry was crisp and surprisingly light.  The truffle-laced potato was earthy and deep in flavour whilst the buttered pilsner sauce, which was used sparingly so as not to drown the dish, brought everything together.  What really set the dish alight, though, was the truffle mousse and the lovingly-cooked baby vegetables.  The mousse was packed with flavour and was simultaneously light and creamy, although WOTVM turned her nose up at it as she has a bit of an aversion to truffle and found the smell quite strong.  The vegetables were superb, baby turnips, golden and purple beetroot and young onions and leaks, all of them cooked to perfection and packed with flavour.  On previous visits we've experienced the same; the veg on Rich's dishes are not an afterthought or accompaniment, they are integral to the dish and are treated as such.

WOTVM had truffled guinea fowl with pistachio pilaf rice, seared shallots and a white port and shellfish bisque.  The guinea fowl was well-cooked, juicy and tender.  The thigh meat was flavoured with herbs - WOTVM thinks it was thyme - which gave it a contrasting flavour to the breast meat which she really enjoyed.  WOTVM's dish was also garnished with baby vegetables and like Mr Vegan Man she found these to be delicious, working really well with the flavoursome guinea fowl.  The dish had a good hit of pistachio flavour and the bisque added a deep, sweet flavour.

The next course was a pre-dessert palette cleanser of lemon verbena sorbet with cucumber.  The sorbet was perfectly made and full of herby, lemony tang.  It was refreshing and light.  The cucumber water, with tiny cubes of cucumber, was equally well-made with a very slight bitterness that contrasted well with the sweetness of the sorbet.  The little pieces of cucumber added a nice bit of texture and bursts of fresh cucumber flavour.

Dessert arrived and looked stunning.  The dark chocolate glaze over the passion fruit mousse had a lovely shine and invited us to tuck in.  The mousse was soft and light, the flavour of the passion fruit both sharp and sweet at the same time.  Little passion fruit seeds popped in our mouths as we tucked in, with a lovely crunch to contrast with the smooth mousse.  The light sponge base also added an extra texture, as did the chocolate crumb around the edge.  The mellow chocolate flavour of the crumb complimented the tartness of the passion fruit, and the dish was balanced just right so that neither the passion fruit nor the chocolate dominated.

We finished our drinks and paid our bill, which came to £150 overall.  The wine we chose was £36 for a bottle, which is in the mid to high range on their wine list - there are a number of wine choices for under £30.  Whilst the price looks high, we feel it is good value.  It's a great experience that lasts a whole evening and you get a lot for your money.

The dishes, as you can see, look superb.  The presentation is wonderful but is matched by the flavour.  Rich prides himself on using fresh and seasonal ingredients and, wherever possible, locally-sourced produce.  As a result the menu changes regularly but what stays the same is the style of food.  Rich and his chefs are incredibly skilled at getting the maximum possible flavour from the ingredients and they use modern techniques to highlight and showcase the produce, not to overshadow it.

We greatly enjoyed our evening.  The restaurant was busy and buzzing, full of very happy diners having a great time.  Benedict's has managed to create a great atmosphere that is uniquely its own, and somehow the restaurant manages to reflect the character of the chef/owner: friendly, welcoming, unpretentious and treating food with both respect and a sense of fun.  It all makes for a great dining experience and we are very glad to have Benedict's here in Norwich.

Benedict's takes bookings online via their website, where you can also view their current menus and news updates.  Please leave any comments below or you can contact us via email.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

The great vegan burger off

We were watching Saturday Kitchen yesterday morning, as we often like to do of a weekend, when Annabel Langbein - who was a guest chef on the show this week - made mayonnaise using water from a can of chick peas.  After getting over the initial shock of our minds being literally blown, we decided that we should have a stab at making some vegan mayo ourselves.  From this starting point morphed the idea of using the chickpeas as part of the dish so as not to cause any waste, and from there WOTVM had the bright idea that we should each make a vegan, chickpea-based burger to act as a vehicle for our mayonnaise.

Thus was our great vegan burger off born and the trash-talking commenced.  WOTVM tried her best to maintain a veil of secrecy as we walked around Sainsbury's, refusing to be drawn on whether particular ingredients would form a part of her burger offering.  Mr Vegan Man tried to pretend that he wasn't really sure what he'd be putting in his patty, looking to lull WOTVM into a false sense of security.

And so each of us spent time in the kitchen this afternoon, furiously chopping, mixing, blitzing and cooking our way to our entries in the battle of the burgers.  Mr Vegan Man plumped for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours, whilst WOTVM went for an Indian-inspired burger.

As we sat down to taste the burgers the tension in the air was palpable.  We took our first bites, followed quickly by our second, third and fourth bites.  Neither of us said anything for some minutes, the silence only broken by chewing noises and the occasional 'Mmmmmm' sound.  Eventually, we both spoke to acknowledge that both of the burgers were very tasty and that this would not be an easy decision.  Silence followed as the seriousness of our judging task sat heavily on our shoulders.

As we reached the last few bites, WOTVM opined that she felt that her patty was a little better but that she preferred Mr Vegan Man's aioli.  Mr Vegan Man thought for a moment and agreed with this assessment.  WOTVM then said that overall she preferred Mr Vegan Man's burger; she felt that it was better seasoned.  Mr Vegan Man disagreed and said that WOTVM's offering packed in some big flavours and, on balance, he slightly preferred it to his own.

The end result - a hard-fought draw!  There really was nothing to choose between the two burgers; WOTVM's effort was an original take on some classic Indian flavours and really delivered the aromatic heat that you expect from Indian food.  A shout out to Candi's Chutney once again as the spiced carrot chutney went brilliantly, adding sweetness, heat and bite to the finished burger.  Mr Vegan Man's effort was inspired by Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours and managed to balance light freshness with a good kick of garlic in the aioli and chilli in the burger, along with a nice hit of mustard heat from the Jubberwacky wholegrain mustard.

Give them a try for yourself - the recipes are below - and let us know which one you prefer by commenting below or by sending us an email.  We'd also love to know how you get on with the vegan mayonnaise - we really enjoyed making it and watching it emulsify is very satisfying!  It's rich and tasty and everything you'd expect from a mayo but without the need for egg, making it great for pregnant ladies and anyone with an egg intolerance as well as vegans.  It keeps well in the fridge, so don't worry about your leftovers going to waste.

Mr Vegan Man's chick pea burger (makes three patties)

400g can of chick peas
1 medium sized carrot
1 small beetroot
5 cocktail gherkins
2 spring onions
Half a red chilli
5-6 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
2 sprigs of fresh mint
1.5 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika

Mr Vegan Man's caper and tahini aioli (makes a lot of aioli)

Juice from one 400g can of chick peas
4 cloves of garlic
0.5 tbsp tahini
Half a lemon
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
350ml oil
3 tsp capers

To serve Mr Vegan Man's burger

Ciabatta rolls
Avocado (half an avocado for two burgers)
Jarred roasted red pepper (one pepper per two burgers)
Pea shoots

Preparation and cooking time 45 minutes

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C and place three of the cloves of garlic (skin on) in a roasting tin, coating with a little olive oil.  Put them in the over for 15-20 minutes so that the garlic can roast and soften.

Whilst the garlic is roasting, prepare the ingredients for the burger patties.  Finely grate the carrot and beetroot, Mr Vegan Man used cooked beetroot and then squeezed out the excess moisture but raw beetroot would work too and would add some crunch.  Chop the spring onions, gherkins, mint, parsley and chilli and place in a bowl along with the grated carrot and beetroot.

Remove the garlic from the oven when it is cooked and is a light golden brown colour.  Drain your chick peas over a bowl and set aside the liquid for making the aioli.  Mash up the chick peas with a fork in a separate bowl, leaving some of the chick peas chunky and fairly intact but with the rest making a kind of loose paste.

Combine the mashed chick peas with the chopped and grated vegetables and herbs and mix together with a fork until all of the ingredients are combined.  This should make a mixture that you can easily form into patties, however if it looks or feels a little too loose then mix through some breadcrumbs to help hold the mix together.

Divide the mixture into three equal portions and use your hands to form them into a burger shape.  Place on a plate dusted with flour and then coat the top of the patties lightly in flour too.  This will help them to crisp up whilst cooking.

To your chick pea water, add the lemon juice, tahini, capers and the three roasted cloves of garlic (de-skinned) and the remaining raw clove - the reason for this is that the roasted garlic will have a nice, mild flavour and the raw clove will add a little bit of heat and punch.  Pour in the 350ml of oil - Mr Vegan Man used 100ml of olive oil and 250ml of vegetable oil - and blitz using a hand blender.  The ingredients should magically emulsify into a creamy aioli.  The quantities used made a quite loose mayo, adding more oil will make it thicker if you so wish.

Chop your avocado into thin slices and cut the roasted red pepper into strips.  Heat a small frying pan over a medium to high heat and then add enough vegetable or sunflower oil so that the base of the pan is completely coated with a couple of millimetres of oil.  Allow the oil to get nice and hot then place the burgers in the pan.

The burgers will need 5-7 minutes on each side to get a crispy top and to cook through.  Whilst the burgers are cooking, place your ciabatta rolls in the oven for 8-10 minutes to crisp up and cook through.

Once the burgers are cooked, remove them from the pan and place them on some kitchen towel to drain off the excess oil.

Cut your ciabatta rolls open and then construct your burger, adding the avocado, then the burger, then a good dollop of the aioli followed by the pepper and pea shoots.

WOTVM's aromatic spiced chick pea burger (makes five patties)

400g can of chick peas
1 large baked potato (bake in the oven for 1.5 to 2 hours and allow to cool completely)
100g pack of baby spinach
1 green cardamom pod
1tsp cumin seeds
0.5 tsp dried chilli flakes
1tsp nigella seeds
0.5tsp turmeric
1tsp garam masala
50g panko breadcrumbs (or regular dried breadcrumbs)
50g plain flour

WOTVM's chip shop curry sauce mayonnaise (makes a lot of mayo)

Juice from one 400g can of chick peas
100ml olive oil
250ml vegetable oil
Half a lemon
2tbsp fresh coriander chopped
1tbsp mild curry powder
1tsp chilli powder

To serve WOTVM's burger

Flatbreads (or mini naan breads)
1 clove garlic
Chopped tomatoes
Red onion, finely sliced
Red chilli, finely sliced
Pea shoots
Candi's Chutney spiced carrot chutney

Preparation and cooking time 45 minutes (excluding time taken to bake and cool potato)

Start by spooning out the fluffy part of the cooked potato into a large bowl. Drain the chickpeas and add to the same bowl. Bash the cardamom pod to loosen the seeds. Tip them into another small bowl along with the cumin seeds and chilli flakes. If you own a pestle and mortar use this to gently grind down the spices. If you don't, improvise with the end of a rolling pin as I did! Tip the ground spices in with the chickpeas and potato.

Steam the spinach to wilt it down, this will only take a couple of minutes over boiling water. Leave to cool before squeezing out as much moisture as possible. Chop roughly and add to the burger mix, it's a bit like a Saag Aloo burger! Use a hand blender to blitz until relatively smooth, but leaving a few whole chickpeas here and there for texture. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

The mixture will be quite wet so add the breadcrumbs and flour to bring together. Lightly flour a plate and your hands before forming into 5 patties. Place on the floured plate, cover with cling film and put in the fridge until you are ready to cook.

To make the mayonnaise, add the oil and lemon juice to the chickpea water and blitz using the hand blender until thickened. Stir in the coriander, curry powder, chilli powder and season.

To cook the burgers, fill a frying pan with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Bring the oil up to a medium high heat and then carefully place the burgers in the pan. They will take around 5-6 minutes on each side, turn the heat down if they are starting to get too brown. They will be crispy and golden brown on the outside when finished. Place the cooked burgers on some kitchen towel when cooked to drain off the excess oil.

To prepare your flat breads crush a garlic clove and rub all over the flat bread (you can also rub some of the coriander over it too). Warm up in a toaster or under the grill for a few minutes.

To assemble the burger dollop some mayo on the flatbread and place the burger on top. Slices of red onion and tomato goes next, then some coriander leaves and sliced chilli. Finally finish with some more mayo and a teaspoon of spiced carrot chutney. With the toppings I was trying to evoke memories of the condiments you get with poppadums at most Indian restaurants, such as mango chutney and onion salad. I think it works well with the burger.