Ella Mills on her new cookbook, favourite meal and her ultimate dinner party dish

Plus Deliciously Ella reveals two of her most coveted recipes
23 August 2018 

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Ella Mills' latest cookery book not only offers up a beautiful recipes for her legions of dedicated fans but also shares insights on the life and business lessons she has learnt building Deliciously Ella.
Throughout the 100 vegan recipes she shares are regular diary style inserts that open the lid on how she has grown her empire thus far and delves into what’s next for the ever-growing brand.
On the recipe front, this book is for both those who want a complete lifestyle overhaul and for those that are looking for quick, simple, plant based meal inspiration of which there’s plenty to pick from. 

Where’s home for you or where do you spend the most of your time?
We live in Notting Hill and spend most of our time there, in our deli just off Oxford St and in our office which is in Soho.

What inspired you to write the book?
It’s a celebration of everything I think plant-based cooking should be: vibrant, warm, colourful, abundant. It’s about sharing recipes and ideas rather than anything prescriptive and all the recipes have been chosen by our readers. They all come from our delis, supper clubs and pop ups and we choose the hundred most popular for the book from the five bean chilli with corn bread to peanut cookies, thai curries, miso aubergine and broccoli salad, vegan shakshuka, banana apple muffins and all our cakes! I’ve also shared a diary of how we’ve built Deliciously Ella and all the stories, ups, downs, successes and mistakes that have happened behind the scenes.

Who should buy it?
Anyone who wants to make eating their five-a-day a little more interesting and is looking to include a few more veggies in their diet. It’s all about taking simple ingredients such as lentils and cooking them into something delicious, like adding them to sautéed onions, garlic and carrots with paprika, mustard seeds and curry powder and letting them simmer with coconut milk, dried apricots and roasted cauliflower to make a thick, creamy dahl.

Favourite recipe from the book and why?
So hard to choose just one… I’m obsessed with the Sri Lankan curry which has roasted sweet potatoes and butternut squash cooked with roasted red peppers and mixed into a base of red onion, green chiLli, garlic, spice and coconut milk. I love the creamy artichoke and edamame dip too, which I serve with our black rice, piquillio pepper and pistachio salad. For sweets, the fudgy brownies are a staple in my life, as are the mango flapjacks and the banana bread.

Your favourite quick mid week, no fuss dinner, which recipe should we head to?
The five bean chilli (scroll to the bottom for the recipe). It’s so simple, uses kitchen cupboard ingredients and is perfect for big batch cooking. We sauté garlic, celery and onion before adding fresh chilli, rosemary, thyme and tomato puree, then simmer the beans with a splash of ample, tinned tomatoes and black pepper until they form a lovely thick consistency. I love them with our black bean, coriander and chilli corn bread when I want to do something for friends, and when I’m on my own I serve them with brown rice, a squeeze of lime and a dollop of coconut yoghurt.

Your ultimate dinner party dish (from the book), failsafe and impressive?
Our sweet corn chowder with chilli and coriander to start, it so sweet and creamy – I could eat vats of it! Then our mushroom and cauliflower risotto with rosemary and parsley and our warm chocolate fudge torte with chocolate sauce to finish. We’ve made this dish for lots of events and no one knows it’s plant-based, it’s got so much flavour and is always a real hit.

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Your favourite dessert from the book and why?
Either the peanut cookies when I want something simple, they’ve got just six ingredients and take 15 mins to make, or our orange and blueberry cake with a homemade orange jam in the middle and a cashew based icing when I want something fancier.

Which chefs have influenced you and your approach to food the most?
There are so many brilliant chefs making plant based cooking so much more exciting, which is exactly what we need if we’re ever going to make broccoli something everyone looks forward to! I think Anna Jones is amazing, and Ottolenghi of course. 

Top three favourite restaurants to eat out at?
I love our deli for bright colourful salads at lunchtime, The Barbary or Palomar for date night and Amaya for something special.

What cookery books do you always reach for from the shelf, do you collect cookery books?
I have so many, but I find I get most inspiration on social media – I love flicking through my Instagram feed to just see pages and pages of colour and texture, it always makes me want to get cooking

What’s next for you?
We’re launching our new Plant-based Cookbook this week (The Cookbook) and our new podcast too, which is really exciting. We’re got a big branding project launching in a couple of weeks, so all our packaging on our energy balls, oat bars and granola/muesli will be changing and then we’re launching a line of natural, plant-based frozen meals at the end of the month, so lots going on!

Five-bean Chilli with corn bread 
I think this has been one of our most requested recipes. I can’t begin to count the number of emails I’ve had asking for it, so I’m really excited to finally share it with you. Both the chilli and the corn bread are surprisingly easy to make and they taste so incredibly good! The chilli is really hearty and I love the texture combination of the beans in the chilli and the crispy crust of the golden corn bread. If you’re going to make one recipe in this book then make this!

The chilli serves four and the corn break makes enough for 10.

ingredients:
For the corn bread:

750g drained tinned sweetcorn (3–4 tins depending on size)
450ml almond milk
150ml sunflower, rapeseed or
vegetable oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
25g coriander, chopped
1 x 400g tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon sea salt flakes
pinch of pepper
for the dry ingredients
60g plain flour (we use a gluten free one)
30g rice flouR
400g polenta
1 tablespoon corn flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

For the five-bean chilli:
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons tomato puree
2 x 400g tins of mixed beans
1 x 400g tin of tomatoes
1 tablespoon maple syrup to serve
2 red chillies, sliced
handful of sliced spring onions

Method
Start by making the corn bread.

Preheat the oven to 200.C (fan 180.C). Line a deep 35 x 25cm baking tin with baking parchment. Place three quarters of the sweetcorn in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Once smooth, mix together with the rest of the whole sweetcorn kernels.
Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well. Once mixed, add the almond milk, oil and apple cider vinegar and give everything another really good stir until well combined. Next, add the coriander, black beans, chilli, salt, pepper and sweetcorn, giving it all one final mix.

Once the mixture has come together, pour into the lined baking tin and bake in the oven for 50–55 minutes until golden and cooked through. To test if it is cooked, insert a knife into the corn bread, it should come out clean. If not, place back in the oven for 5 more minutes to cook through.

While the corn bread is baking, prepare the chilli. Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil, the onion, celery, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, about 5–10 minutes.
Now add the chilli, rosemary, thyme and tomato pur.e and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, 150ml water, maple syrup and some pepper and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and leave to simmer for 25–30 minutes, at which point it should have a thick consistency.
When you are ready to serve sprinkle the chillies and spring onion over the top and enjoy with the corn bread.

Tips
The corn bread is best eaten fresh
, especially when it’s warm out the oven, but the chilli tastes even better the next day, so keep any extras in the fridge to take to work as a packed lunch or pop it in the freezer if you want it to last longer. If you do have leftovers of the corn bread, however, you can store it in an airtight container and enjoy it the next day.
For the mixed beans, we buy tins made up of red kidney beans, black-eyed beans, borlotti beans, lima beans and pea navy beans,but there are different kinds available so just use what you like.


Fudgy Brownies
I’ve been so excited to share this recipe with you, it’s our all-time favourite and probably the most popular sweet recipe we’ve ever had at the deli! The brownies are so gooey and fudgy and I love the crunchy bites of walnuts on top. I often make these for friends, serving them hot out the oven with a scoop of coconut ice cream on top.
Makes 15

ingredients:
1 tablespoon chia seeds
250g buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch of sea salt
60g cacao powder
330g coconut sugar
100ml almond milk
130g coconut oil, melted
handful of walnuts, chopped

Method
Preheat the oven to 190.C
(fan 170.C). Line a 25 x 18 x 4cm baking tin with baking parchment.
Place the chia seeds in a bowl with 4 tablespoons water, mix well then leave to one side for 10 minutes to thicken up.
Place the flour, bicarb, salt, cacao powder and coconut sugar into a large bowl and mix well to remove any lumps. Next, add the almond milk, chia mixture and melted coconut oil and mix well for 5–6 minutes to ensure everything is well combined. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and sprinkle with the walnuts.
Bake for 25–30 minutes, until cooked through but still a little fudgy in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack, before cutting into brownies.

Tip
In the deli we bake these brownies in individual moulds, which gives them a crusty edge, but here we’ve suggested baking them in one large tray as it’s easier and makes them extra gooey.

Deliciously Ella The Plant-Based Cookbook by Ella Mills (Hodder&Stoughton; £25), buy it here.