Birchwood Farm – Sweet Potato and Mozzarella Burger

I recently ate this veggie burger while out meeting friends to celebrate Christmas, and of course a great night was had. There was Baileys, good food, and good company, and what more could you wish for? The sweet potato and mozzarella burger, as described on the menu, is served “with peppers and soya beans served in a floured bap with seasoned chips, homemade coleslaw, and a salad garnish”.

So how did it stand up to that description? Well, deliciously, basically. There was smooth sweet potato inside, so creamy and soft that you could barely tell what vegetable it had originated from. If you don’t like sweet potato, you could still love this burger. It was flavourful and a little spicy too, crammed full of lots of little pieces of vegetables like beans and carrots. This was all served up in a coating of crunchy breadcrumbs to make the perfect combination of textures. The bun was also nicely soft and floury, which contrasted well.

Birchwood Farm sweet potato and mozzarella burger

The chips and coleslaw were not anything special, but they were good enough. Simple pub fare with no thrills – they were finished off with the inclusion of a small section of salad in a vinaigrette dressing. This was a very filling and satisfactory meal indeed, such that all plans for dessert were abandoned (largely in favour of more Baileys). Please excuse my slightly wobbly phone pictures on this review… it seems the excitement had already got to me!

Birchwood Farm sweet potato and mozzarella burger

On the VegBurge scale, I give this…

Taste – 9/10

Price – 6/10

Rest of experience – 9/10


Vine Post: Pumpkin and Mozzarella Quesadillas

Quesadillas strike again! You already know we love Mexican food and especially these little folded and fried parcels of goodness, and so while we enjoy pumpkin month over on Vine, we just had to give these a go. I first found the recipe which inspired this meal over on The Kitchn, and it was definitely not something I could just click past. I mean, I seriously love three things: good cheese, quesadillas, and pumpkin. What wasn’t to like?

In terms of playing around with the recipe, we didn’t include the cilantro/coriander as we just didn’t feel it was necessary. We used a red onion as we always do instead of a yellow one, and I only put the chilli pepper into J’s food (he’s actually growing his own now, which he’s fairly proud about!). We also didn’t make the yoghurt – we just wanted to try these on their own.

It has to be said that they are absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to eat them again as the way it all blends together was just beautiful. The mozzarella goes so nicely with the rest of the pumpkin flavour and I’d love to play around with this recipe some more to see what happens.

Here’s the Vine of us making these delicious quesadillas:


Vine Post: Tomato chutney, mozzarella, and basil grilled cheese

We’re always on the hunt for a great toasted sandwich. There’s just something about combining gooey, melted cheese with seeded bread and getting all the right flavours together. So when we saw the idea for an Italian themed grilled cheese – combining three classic elements – we just couldn’t resist.

This sandwich is very easy to make, and does not require you to measure ingredients exactly. We used Warburton’s seeded toastie loaf, a very nice tomato chutney that we bought at a local food festival, and some mozzarella. The finishing touch was fresh, home-grown basil. Plucking it right off the plant is always so satisfying! We also coated each side of the bread with a little melted coconut oil to give it that amazing taste and texture that signifies a truly great grilled cheese sandwich.

The end result was gooey, stringy, fun to eat, and bursting with flavour. It’s a bit like eating a Margherita pizza, with far less calories and a really moreish taste. Trust me – you won’t be able to just eat one.


Vine Post: Hello Fresh Strolling Rigatoni

Our second Hello Fresh meal was rigatoni with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella, which was surely going to be an interesting one. For starters, we never eat pasta unless it’s in a sauce, and we also usually go for a healthy version rather than just the normal “white” pasta. Secondly, we never eat white onions, always red. And thirdly, I don’t like olives. Basically, this recipe had a lot of work to do to win us over!

Hello Fresh Strolling Rigatoni

The rigatoni is cooked separately to the rest of the meal, which is a mixture of cherry tomatoes, onion, yellow pepper, basil, olives, and mozzarella. It is then combined at the end and tossed together for an even spread. There were some things that I definitely liked about this recipe – the mozzarella and cherry tomatoes go nicely together, and for once the olives weren’t utterly horrible. Perhaps simply because there were so few of them that I was able to disguise them with tomatoes and pretend they weren’t there!

Hello Fresh Strolling Rigatoni

However, there are a few changes I would have made. It was just far too dry, and could have done with more of a sauce element. Perhaps a larger quantity of tomatoes would have helped to create the right kind of sauce, especially if they were blended together rather than just being cooked in the pan. I also would have seriously preferred either having red onion, or just doing without. There’s just something so bland about “white” onion when it has been cooked in this way that I hugely dislike. A better blending of the basil throughout the dish would also have improved it.

Hello Fresh Strolling Rigatoni

So that’s what we thought of meal number two – and with the leftovers from this added to the leftovers from last week’s post, we ended up making some Italian and Mexican themed wraps on the third day! Here’s the Vine of this meal being made so you can see it in action.



Vine Recipe: Cauliflower Base Pizza

For the second of our alternative pizza month Vines, we made a base out of cauliflower. I’m sure you’ve seen this idea elsewhere – it’s been quite widely used as an alternative way to create a pizza base, making it gluten free. I’m not a big fan of cauliflower, so I had been approaching this one with a little trepidation – was it going to taste like an actual cauliflower, or would there be subtler tastes at work?

Cauliflower pizza ingredients

It took a little while longer to make than I would have expected, although given that we were making our own dough, it was not unreasonable. One word of warning: don’t use your favourite tea towel. It took two washes to get the smell of cauliflower juice out of ours, and leaving it for just one day before the wash was put on left it stinking in a way that I could barely believe. I thought at first the drains had somehow got blocked until I realised where the smell was coming from.

Cauliflower pizza

You can of course substitute your own toppings for those we have used here. One thing I had to notice is that it calls for a lot of parmesan. Perhaps a bit too much. You can definitely taste it in the base, but it is not very strongly flavoured. We had to put in a whole pot, which seems a bit excessive given the results. I’m not sure what the alternative would be, however.

Cauliflower pizza

How did it taste? Pretty much like a cheesy cauliflower pizza. It wasn’t terrible – far from it. If I had to get rid of gluten from my diet, maybe I’d try this recipe more often just to get my pizza fix. But this isn’t the best base we’ve had so far during alternative pizza month – the tortillas were so much tastier. I’d rate it somewhere around a 4/10. If you actually like the taste of cauliflower, then you will love this base. It’s also a bit crumbly though, so you might want to eat with knife and fork – although I did manage to pick up the slices by hand, it was a close thing.

Cauliflower pizza

Here’s the Vine, so you can see what it’s like to make!

And if you want to try it yourself, the recipe we followed:

Cauliflower base pizza
Serves 2
An alternative pizza base which is gluten free!
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  1. 1 head of cauliflower
  2. Handful of basil, shredded
  3. Handful of oregano, shredded
  4. 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  5. 50g parmesan (powder)
  6. 50g mozzarella (shredded into small pieces)
  7. 1 egg
  1. Spinach
  2. 50g mozzarella, broken up into chunks
  3. Sweetcorn
  4. 5/6 mushrooms
  5. 1/4 red onion
  6. 50g-ish grated cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven at 240C.
  2. Trim the leaves/stem from the cauliflower head and chop up to 2 inch chunks.
  3. Rinse cauliflower under running water.
  4. Put cauliflower into blender until finely ground and powdery.
  5. Put the cauliflower in a microwaveable bowl and cover the bowl loosely with kitchen roll. Microwave for 3 minutes.
  6. Spread the cauliflower across a dish towel.
  7. When it is cool enough to hold, gather it all up in the middle and use the towel to wring out the water from the cauliflower. This will take you quite a while, so keep going. You'll have a tiny bit of cauliflower left compared to what you started with.
  8. Combine cauliflower, mozzarella, Parmesan, oregano, basil, and garlic powder in a bowl with your hands.
  9. Add the egg and then combine until fully mixed.
  10. Put the mixture onto baking paper on top of a pizza tray and form the crust, around 1/4 inch think.
  11. Bake for around 10 minutes, until crust is golden brown and a little crispy at the edges.
  12. Put your chosen toppings onto the pizza, using the back of a spoon to spread the sauce.
  13. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, until mozzarella is gooey and the crust looks well done.
  1. We used fresh herbs, but dried ones work too.

Frankie and Bennys Mediterranean Vegetable Burger

I used to eat at Frankie and Bennys quite often, but it’s been a while since I was back. I went for their veggie burger to remind myself of what it was like! The menu describes it as follows:

“A Mediterranean style combination of red peppers, olives, sundried tomatoes and mozzarella. Served in a toasted sesame seed bun with fresh baby gem lettuce, tomato, red onion, dill pickle and mayo. With house fries and tomato-chilli relish on the side.”

It is priced at £10.75, so it’s one of the more expensive burgers you will come across in this type of restaurant. The ambiance is good most of the time, but it has a tendency to break into the annoying – such as every time someone has a birthday. The lights dim, and “Congratulations” plays, every single time – sometimes four or five times a night during your meal if you go on a busy day. But having said that, there are places with more annoying traditions. Let’s move on to the burger now!

Frankie and Bennys Mediterranean Vegetable Burger

This burger comes with a very tasty fruity relish, which I enjoyed. Actually, I’m always on the lookout for a good burger relish – I may add some reviews later on, after recently picking up some at a local craft fair. This one fit the bill and was one of the highlights of the meal. It was served with a good amount of onion and some nice stringy cheese which melted nicely against the rest. There was a kind of average bun which did not make so much of an impression on me. Unfortunately, I would also have to say that the burger was not so remarkable. It is made with large amounts of olives but not a very strong taste – on the one hand this is good, as I’m not really an olive fan. On the other hand, I expected more flavour. It does need a little something added – as is so often sadly the case, the burger itself is just not anything special. I really want to see more of an effort made in this area by restaurants – plenty of their other dishes are packed with flavour, so this is a disappointment.

It was also served with thin chips, which felt quite cheap and did not add much to the meal. You had the option to change to a thick cut chip if you wanted to pay more, but that hardly seems worth it. There is a lot more that could be done with this meal, particularly for the price at which it is sold.

Frankie and Bennys Mediterranean Vegetable Burger
On the VegBurge scale, I give this…
Taste – 5/10
Price – 3/10
Rest of experience – 5/10