The Barn Halloumi Burger

The Barn Halloumi Burger

The Barn is a pub and restaurant in Tunbridge Wells, and until recently there wasn’t much to speak of on the bar menu (there’s only so many nachos you can eat). But the recent addition of a halloumi burger to the menu meant we absolutely had to go and check out the changes. Here’s what the menu has to say about this item:

Halloumi (v) 7.95
Deep fried and served with a chilli sauce and chips

The Barn Halloumi Burger
The Barn Halloumi Burger

I had curly fries instead of the normal chips, because I’m just awkward like that. They were delicious, to a standard as expected from a pub. But we’re not here to talk about curly fries.

Halloumi burger
Halloumi burger

The burger was actually AMAZING. It was so much more than I was expecting. The halloumi was super salty and matched up perfectly with the sweet chilli sauce, which just brought out the flavours so well. There was some salad in the bun but to be honest I couldn’t really tell it was there – there were such large chunks of halloumi with so much sauce I could only distinguish those flavours. Same with the onion rings, which were gone in a couple of bites and couldn’t compete with the saltiness. The bun was a sticky-style brioche, and actually kept coming apart where my fingers stuck to it, but it was pretty taste. It was hugely filling, and so satisfying. I wasn’t expecting much, but this burger totally blew me away. I’m definitely going to be heading back to try it again sometime soon.

ON THE VEGBURGE SCALE, I GIVE THIS…

TASTE – 9/10

PRICE – 7/10

REST OF EXPERIENCE – 8/10

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Vine Post: Baked Bananas

This recipe for baked bananas is so simple, I’m not even including a recipe card. Take a look at our Vine and you will see just about everything you need to know for this delicious after-dinner treat!

First off, make sure that your bananas are nice and ripe. The riper the better, in fact! Don’t slice them all the way through, but just enough to cut through the flesh – you want the skin to hold together. The quantity isn’t so important but I used one date per banana and three squares of chocolate.

Oh, and by the way – this is actually vegan. The “chocolate” is really something called chocolate-flavoured cake covering. It doesn’t taste amazing if you eat it on its own, but melted like this, you’d never know the difference. I put the bananas in at 200 degrees (fan) for 15 minutes – it might take as little as 10, so be sure to check on them. If they whole of the skin isn’t black yet and the chocolate hasn’t melted, they could go for a bit longer. 

Serve them up in the foil or in bowls, and use a spoon to dig through. It tastes amazing – you will be surprised at how good. 

Here’s our baked bananas in Vine form!

Quorn Vegan Hot & Spicy Burgers

Quorn hot and spicy burgers

Anyone who reads this blog and hates spicy food, look away now. I know you’re out there because I’ve spoken to some of you, and this burger is just not for you. Even I, made almost immune by J’s insistence on adding a bit of spice to everything, found these burgers to be too hot. Way too hot. So hot it was actually pretty uncomfortable.

Quorn hot and spicy vegan burgers
Quorn hot and spicy vegan burgers

The good thing is that these are part of the new Quorn vegan range, so if you love spice and want a burger but don’t want any egg in it, this is fantastic. It is essentially your average Quorn burger, with that same texture and taste that you would find in, say, the chicken fillets. All of that is eclipsed, however, by the spicy outer coating.

I honestly can’t say I tasted anything other than “wow that’s hot”. I do like the fact that the Quorn vegan range has some diverse options, but this one is not for me. I served it up in a pitta with some roasted veggies, but even sour cream wasn’t enough to take the heat away. In my opinion, more attention to the flavour and less to the spice level would have done this burger some good. J loves it though, so in spite of myself, I guess I’ll be getting these again.

Hot and spicy wrap
Hot and spicy wrap

 

ON THE VEGBURGE SCALE, I GIVE THIS…

TASTE – 2/10

PRICE – 6/10

REST OF EXPERIENCE – 5/10

Veggie Living: Silverstone British Grand Prix

This week past, I was living the field life at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone has been my home for five days out of the year for a decade now, as I have been volunteering as a crowd safety (and now track safety) marshal for all of that time. You might think it’s pretty tricky to eat veggie food at a place like that, where all of the food stalls are focused mostly around burgers – but actually, it’s not so bad, and this year there were more choices than ever.

So how does a veggie – or even a vegan – fare at the UK’s biggest racing circuit on its busiest weekend? The great news is that there are options for both, but of course the vegan ones are more limited than the veggies. We always try to take as much food with us as possible – Quorn BBQs and meals cooked on the caravan hob are so much cheaper than shopping at the stalls – but it’s certainly possible to survive either way.

Moony's Halloumi wrap
Moony’s Halloumi wrap

My highlight this year was a stall called Moony’s Halloumi. For £7, you could get a halloumi wrap in the Luna Italia style, which included sundried tomato pesto, spinach, olives, red onion, tomatoes, and a tasty dressing. This was good enough for us to get it twice, so that definitely tells you a lot about the quality! It was so succulent and juicy, with the flavours combined perfectly. The only criticism had to be that there was far too much sauce – by the time you got to the end of the wrap, it was running out in streams and you had to lean forward to avoid getting it down yourself.

Moony's Halloumi Luna Italia
Moony’s Halloumi Luna Italia

We also accompanied these wraps with some sweet potato fries, made fresh to order for £5 from a gyro stall. These were exceptionally good too, especially given how fresh they were. 

Sweet potato fries
Sweet potato fries

We also had cheese and onion pasties as well as veggie burritos from other stalls, and a Margherita pizza. You could find those around the Entertainment Zone, while Moony’s was on our side of the circuit behind Becketts grandstand. 

Other options were available too – I saw a vegan chilli, Indian curries with veggie options, gyros with veggie options, a vegetable pizza, and just about as many chips as you could shake a stick at. 

Halloumi wrap
Halloumi wrap

Vine Post: Peanut Butter Energy Balls

Is there anything that peanut butter can’t do? I ask that seriously. These energy balls are absolutely amazing, there are only five ingredients in them, and they pack a mighty punch. You will find plenty of nutrients as well as a great little energy boost if you need it, and you don’t even have to do any cooking. Literally, this is probably the simplest piece of food you will ever create.

Take a look at the recipe here if you don’t believe me – it’s so easy it’s ludicrous!

Peanut Butter Energy Bites
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Ingredients
  1. 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
  2. 1 cup old-fashioned oats, plus extra for rolling
  3. 1½ tbsp. honey
  4. 1/4 cup chocolate chips, plus extra for rolling
  5. 1/4 cup sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Put the peanut butter into a bowl, along with the oats, honey, choc chips, and sesame seeds. Mix together until well combined.
  2. Cover bowl and chill for 30 mins in the fridge.
  3. Roll with your hands into small balls.
  4. Put spare oats and choc chips onto a plate and roll the balls across them to coat them in extra topping.
  5. Eat immediately or store in the fridge until ready to eat!
Notes
  1. Don't like sesame seeds? Use any other type of seed you like.
  2. Not a fan of peanut butter? Almond butter works too.
  3. Hate honey? Go for syrup.
  4. Not into chocolate? Try raisins.
  5. This is a really flexible recipe so go nuts!
VegBurge http://vegburge.com/
Now here’s the Vine of how they’re made, in case you needed any visual aids!

The Bakehouse at 124 – Beetroot Burger

The Bakehouse at 124

This week we’re off to the British Grand Prix, so with five days of camping ahead, we started eating up all of our fresh food to get rid of it. As a result, there was nothing left to eat for lunch – which meant a trip to a local cafe was in order! The Bakehouse at 124 is relatively new to Tonbridge, but with bread and just about every other component of their food made in-house, they are definitely a special treat.

This visit is not our first, so I already knew to expect great things. I certainly got them, as it was time to try their beetroot burger – something I certainly had high hopes for! It costs £5.95 and consists of beetroot, carrot, courgette, coriander, onion, and chickpeas, with houmous dressing. This is all served up in one of their huffkin rolls, with red cabbage, rocket, and a side order of slaw salad with tzatziki.

The Bakehouse at 124
The Bakehouse at 124

Let’s start with the tzatziki slaw. I’ll be honest – I’m not the biggest fan of tzatziki in the world. I hate cucumber. This slaw is very cucumber-y, and it’s very strong in taste. I did try to eat some of it, but there was just no need for the large amount that was served up. I would rather have had some side salad or just more in my bun instead.

Beetroot burger
Beetroot burger

The bread, though, was delightful – very thick and soft, with that hard outer shell which is just perfect for holding on to a burger. It was very floury, so if you order it, don’t forget to pick up some napkins – you will need them! Men with beards should also beware, as J found out when he took a bite of it and ended up looking like Father Christmas.

Beetroot burger
Beetroot burger

The filling in the bun was well balanced: vinegary cabbage was placed up against a smooth and tasty classic houmous, and this in turn was matched with a peppery rocket underneath the burger. All of these flavours go very well with the beetroot’s sweetness, so this was an excellent choice.

Interior view
Interior view

The burger had a very smooth texture, as if it was blended to a puree before cooking, which was also a good choice: that smooth and soft beetroot patty was just like heaven. The flavours are all mushed together so well that you can’t necessarily make out the individual notes, but rather one overall deliciousness that takes the sweetness of the beetroot along with all of the best qualities of the other ingredients. It wasn’t totally smooth – you could make out lumps here and there of the bits and pieces that make it up – but it was combined well. I could see that it was fried in a pan to cook, with that lovely dark outer layer that comes along with that technique. You guys probably recall that that’s the way I like my beetroot burgers!

Chomp chomp
Chomp chomp

All in all it was a delicious meal, and I love the setting – there’s just something so wonderful about sitting in a venue where everything is homemade. Not only is it a great little local business, but it’s reassuring to see that they actually know what they’re doing with putting food together, not just cooking it out of a packet.

ON THE VEGBURGE SCALE, I GIVE THIS…

TASTE – 9/10

PRICE – 7/10

REST OF EXPERIENCE – 8/10

Vine Post: Vegan Fudge

Normally when I take a recipe from somewhere else, I add my own embellishments along the way, changing it to something more to my tastes. Not so with this vegan fudge, which I found in Deliciously Ella’s first book. When something has just four ingredients, looks easy to make, and sounds delicious, there’s no point in changing a thing! 

I won’t share the full recipe as it is of course printed in the book, but you can see from the Vine exactly how we made it. This was really exciting to try, especially since we both really love fudge.

I’m always so impressed by how vegan recipes manage to replicate flavours and textures by using ingredients which are so far removed from the original. Case in point is how versatile dates are – could you really imagine that they would be such a key ingredient in vegan cakes before you started seeing recipes like these?

What blows me away is the creativity with which we food bloggers come up with so many new and wonderful ideas. Kudos to those who are changing the way we eat – even if I’m only along for the ride when it comes to vegan recipes, I appreciate a good vegetarian substitute like no other. And I’m always on the lookout, so if you have a meat recipe transformed into a veggie one – or in need of transformation – let me know and we’ll see about giving it a try! Leave your links in the comments below.

Georgia’s Choice Mexican Bean Bakes

Georgia's Choice packaging

This week we found something completely new in the supermarket! That’s not a very regular occurrence these days, so it was pretty exciting (and this is probably why I don’t get invited to many dinner parties). These Georgia’s Choice Mexican bean bakes looked too good to ignore, and the chance to try a new brand was something I just couldn’t pass up.

Georgia's Choice packaging
Georgia’s Choice packaging

I cooked them in the oven and served them up as burger wraps, one of my favourite ways to eat a burger as you may recall! They have a very orange colour which at first seems a bit off-putting, but of course that wasn’t enough to distract my attention from the taste. And my goodness, was there a taste.

After cooking
After cooking

I’m going to say right now up front that this is quite possibly the best bean burger I’ve ever eaten in my life. I can definitely say it’s the best one I’ve ever eaten from frozen, so if you want to pick something up to eat at home, keep an eye out for Georgia’s Choice.

Chopped up for wrap
Chopped up for wrap

The outside layer is crunchy, the inside very soft. Good start, and it only got better from there on in: they are spicy, satisfyingly so, but not so much that all of the flavour is burned away. There are chunks of red pepper and corn littered throughout the inside, letting you know that yes, this is a natural burger which contains real vegetables. It was warming and enjoyable. It was everything a bean burger should be.

Excuse me, I’m getting a bit emotional.

ON THE VEGBURGE SCALE, I GIVE THIS…

TASTE – 10/10

PRICE – 7/10

REST OF EXPERIENCE – 8/10

Slug and Lettuce: Veggie Burger

Having lived just about across the road from one of their branches multiple times, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to eat at a Slug and Lettuce. All the same, I’ve finally managed to get around to it, and you know what I just had to eat… Here’s the menu description:

Veggie burger (v) 8.29: A vegetarian burger in a mixed-nut breadcrumb coating, made with sweet potato, mozzarella cheese and mixed peppers in garlic and coriander, served with skinny fries

Kind of eyeing up J's pizza in the background there...
Kind of eyeing up J’s pizza in the background there…

Let’s start off by saying that it has thousand island dressing, which is my all time favourite! There was a brick of tomato which I judiciously removed, as well as a generous amount of fresh salad. There was a gherkin, but it was off to one side where it was much easier to ignore. Exactly where it should be, in my opinion.

The deconstruction begins
The deconstruction begins

Even after taking out the tomato brick the burger was very large, to the extent that I genuinely almost dislocated my jaw while trying to eat it. I’m about three burgers away from evolving a snake-like ability to unhinge it, but more on that later. The brioche bun was fairly standard, as you come to expect these days, nothing to mark it out particularly from any other given brioche burger bun. 

Seriously, look how huge this thing is
Seriously, look how huge this thing is

The veggie burger itself contained large chunks of creamy sweet potato, as well as pieces of red pepper. It was crumbed with nacho crumbs and chopped nuts, making for a very tasty outer layer. It was very slightly spicy, though not so much that I imagine it would bother most people (it certainly didn’t bother me), and quite herby too. It had what I would describe as a buttery taste, very rich but not altogether creamy. It had an amazing texture, too: smooth, yet crunchy. Almost as if you made peanut butter out of potatoes. There was a little creaminess there but not so much as to be overwhelming, retaining that crunchy smoothness. Ahh. How does one even describe it? It’s so refreshing to find a burger which is different to all the others I’ve tried.

The Slug and Lettuce veggie burger
The Slug and Lettuce veggie burger

Taken out of the bun it tasted even better, which is perhaps more a criticism of the lazy brioche than anything else. It was very filling, not altogether surprising given the enormous size. I was a satisfied customer, and a pleasantly surprised one too (a status which was no doubt also helped by my hot chocolate, which contained triple sec. Not joking. They call it a Chocolate Orange. You’re missing out). 

Interior view
Interior view

ON THE VEGBURGE SCALE, I GIVE THIS…

TASTE – 9/10

PRICE – 7/10

REST OF EXPERIENCE – 8/10

Vine Recipe: Apple and Honey Loaf

This one is adapted from one of the recipes in Deliciously Ella’s first book. I felt like we needed to have something sweet and as low-calorie as possible for after dinner, so I whipped up a batch! I adjusted a few details, as you will see, but this apple and honey loaf is still suitable for veggies. It’s no longer gluten-free as I used plain flour, but that’s a simple substitution if you want to try it.

It has a peculiar texture as a result of using the bananas, and the chopped almonds give it a nice bit of crunch. It lasts for around 3-4 days covered and left out of the fridge. After that you’ll need to warm it up for maybe 30 seconds in the microwave to keep it soft. 

My favourite way to eat it is to add a coating of spread – orange curd or cherry jam work great – and enjoy it as a small square slice. When this recipe is divided into 8 portions, each contains 144 calories. It’s a bit of an indulgence, but it’s very tasty and satisfying with it!

Here’s the Vine, and you can scroll down below to read the recipe.

(sorry for the format – my recipe card plugin isn’t working right now. Will update ASAP!)

Ingredients:

3 heaped tablespoons apple sauce
6 tablespoons acacia honey
1 ripe banana, peeled and chopped up
120g chopped almonds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
200g plain flour

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan).
Put the apple sauce, honey, and banana into a large bowl and mash with a fork into a smooth mix
Stir in the almonds, chia, flour, and 4 tablespoons water.
Mix until smooth.
Grease a loaf tin and pour in the mixture. Keep it to a maximum of 3cm tall so it will cook through properly.
Bake for 30 mins. You should be able to put a knife in and pull it out clean.
Serve!