These recipes are from my blog, here designed so they print out nicely one recipe per page.


  1. Levantine aubergine pizza
  2. Curried roast cauliflower with carrot coriander puree
  3. Lovely vegan carrot date and walnut cake
  4. Mushroom and aubergine biryani
  5. Two easy mushroom tarts
  6. Vegan chorizo carbonara
  7. Black bean chorizo
  8. Chilli sin carne, using pulled jackfruit
  9. Fake fish and chips - battered aubergine
  10. Chickpea chana curry with tamarind and baby aubergine
  11. A pea soup
  12. Roast squash, halloumi and pine nuts with asparagus
  13. Asparagus and chestnut risotto
  14. Butternut squash toad-in-the-hole
  15. Sweet onion and puy lentil stew
  16. Big aubergine and lemon tagine
  17. Courgette fritter salad
  18. Beetroot nisk soup
  19. Kale and rosemary flatbread
  20. Poached thai-style sea bass
  21. Dry-fried paneer
  22. Blackberry and lemoncurd cheesecake
  23. Beetroot and tomato soup
  24. Tea-smoked turkish delight
  25. Haggis, apple and pasta salad
  26. Blackberry pavlova
  27. Haggis and orange salad
  28. Clementine cake
  29. Lime tabbouleh
  30. Rhubarb in the hole
  31. Asparagus with garlic mayonnaise
  32. Rustic green lentils
  33. Roast pumpkin and aubergine spaghetti
  34. Aubergine casserole with stuffing topping
  35. Lemon chilli lentils
  36. Sausage, beetroot and mint stew
  37. Lime palak paneer
  38. Oriental basa
  39. Honey and ginger cheesecake
  40. Plum ketchup
  41. Mackerel supper
  42. Quick sardine salad
  43. Easy tom-yum fish and lime soup
  44. Kedgeree
  45. Ormskirk Gingerbreads
  46. Sticky toffee pudding
  47. Cabbage, pea and brown ale soup
  48. Gnocchi in rosé wine
  49. Asparagus & red onion edgeless quiche
  50. Eastern beetroot soup
  51. Beetroot as the base for stews
  52. Quick egg lunch
  53. Very quick feta supper
  54. Quick tomato and spinach sauce for gnocchi
  55. Blueberry yoghurt ice-cream
  56. Roast ratatouille
  57. Moist carrot, date, and walnut cake
  58. Walnut cake - with no eggs
  59. Curried beetroot and paneer (indian cheese) - well why not?
  60. Red Onion Tortilla
  61. Pan-fried cod with chickpeas and warm tomato salsa
  62. Sausage and bean cassoulet

Levantine aubergine pizza

This flavour combination was fabulous - the hot deep flavour of muhammara (from Turkey/Syria, so I'm told) and the herby zesty za'atar (ours is from Palestine) make a great complement to the classic taste of grilled aubergine. We're not from the Levant so don't take this as authentic, but this is evocative and quite easy.

Muhammara is a fiery dip, and mixing it with mascarpone (or similar) in a ratio os 1:2 gets the heat just right for this, in our opinion, though you may wish to tweak it! Serves 2 hungry eaters, takes about 30 minutes (aside from making the pizza dough, which is optional to do it yourself).

  • One 12" pizza base (we made a square one, using Jamie Oliver's recipe, with: 250g strong white bread flour; 160g warm water; 3g yeast; 1 flat tsp sugar; 1 flat tsp salt)
  • One medium aubergine
  • 120g mascarpone cheese (to veganise the recipe - use Oatly creme fraiche :)
  • 60g muhammara
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 flat tsp za'atar
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 5 cherry tomatoes

Heat your oven to 200 C.

Put the pizza base out onto a lightly-floured baking tray. Mix the muhammara and mascarpone together, and spread this evenly over the pizza base, leaving the edges clear like you normally do with pizza.

Slice the aubergine in half down the middle, then slice thinly to make semicircle slices (about 3mm thick). In a bowl, toss the aubergine slices with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Then lay them out nicely on the pizza, to make a scallop pattern - don't just pile them on, you want each aubergine piece exposed equally to the heat. You'll cover almost the whole pizza.

Sprinkle the za'atar evenly over the aubergine pieces, then drizzle the remaining olive oil evenly over the top. Put it in the oven for about 20 minutes, until it's looking lovely.

Chop the tomatoes into little quarters. Take the pizza out of the oven, and dot the tomato pieces all over, then also sprinkle the parsley over. Leave the pizza for a minute before eating! It's too hot, and also it's good for the tomatoes to take up some of the heat.

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Curried roast cauliflower with carrot coriander puree

This was a great dish making a centrepiece of the cauliflower with Indian spicing. I made it up based on something that looked nice on Masterchef. A notable non-cauliflower-lover gave it top marks so I'm sure you'll love it too.

Serves 2, takes about 50 minutes, plus extra time at the start to marinate.

For the rice:

  • 1/2 a mugful basmati rice
  • 1 small handful whole roast almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 small handful sunflower seeds
  • 1 small handful green lentils, cooked
  • 100ml coconut cream, or 200ml coconut milk

For the cauliflower:

  • 1 medium-to-small head caulilower, leaves and some of the base removed
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder

For the carrot:

  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 small handful coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • Pinch of salt

First, marinate the cauliflower. You can do this way in advance, e.g. 2 hours - but give it at least half an hour if you can. Mix the coconut oil, vegetable oil and all the dry spices. Chop the cauliflower into four big quarters - remember, you want these to come out whole at the end of the process, try to cut them so they'll stay entire. Now marinate the cauliflower in the oil and spice mix, turning it a few times to try and get all the surfaces flavoured.

When there's about 40 minutes until service, turn on the oven to 180 C. Oil a baking tray or baking tin and pop it in the oven to pre-heat.

Now start off your rice. Wash it in a sieve or suchlike, washing it until the water runs clear, then leave it to soak in fresh cold water for 10--20 minutes. Make sure all the bits you need for the rice are ready.

Take the baking tray out of the oven - be careful of the hot oil - and lay the cauliflower pieces flat-side down into the hot oil. Return to the oven. They'll cook for about 30 minutes, and halfway through you'll want to turn them so that "the other" flat side is down in the oil.

Drain your rice and put it in a pan that has a tight-fitting lid (it's handy to oil the pan a little, in advance). Add all the other ingredients to the rice pot, as well as 2/3 mugful of cold water (or less, if you're using coconut milk - 1/3 mugful?). Bring this to the boil, stir, then turn the heat down to the lowest it can possibly go and put the lid on. You now need to leave this un-disturbed for 20 minutes for the rice to absorb. Meanwhile you can get on with the carrots.

Slice the carrots into very thin coins and put them in a pan with a little oil and 100ml water. Bring to the boil, salt, and cook vigorously for about 12-15 minutes until soft.

Drain the carrots. If you've still got the bowl in which you marinaded the cauliflower, you can pop the carrots in there to pick up any leftover spice. If not, don't worry. Put the carrots and coriander, together with a dash of water (e.g. from cooking the carrots) and a dash of oil, all into a blender and blend to a smooth puree. Check seasoning, add a bit more salt if needed.

To serve: with a big spoon, scoop the rice out to make a mound. Take the puree and spread it over the plate next to the rice. Take the cauliflower pieces from the oven and place them on top of the puree.

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Lovely vegan carrot date and walnut cake

I veganised a recipe handed down from my mum, and it's great. It's very soft and moist with a dark sweetness (from the dark sugar) that goes really well with the other flavours. Plus it keeps for a good while, and easy to make from mostly store-cupboard ingredients.

I've been making it for years - here's the original recipe - but now I wanted to VEGANISE it. It worked!

The most exotic thing involved is the ingredient that I used to replace egg: chia seed. You can also try flax seed. This other website has a nice guide on how to make "chia egg" or "flax egg" - there is something in these seeds that makes a glutinous substance that can bind a cake together.

It's a very easy recipe. The cake mix looks quite strange when you put it in the oven - a big blob of grated carrot, mostly! But it becomes a big brown dark and moist cake.

The end result is great. Compared against the non-vegan version there's a different texture - the edge of the cake is chewy/crispy in a nice way, I find.

  • 225g (8 oz) dark soft brown sugar
  • 180ml (6 fl oz) vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds - whole OR ground
  • 175g (6.5 oz) self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder (or 1 of bicarb - I need to check this)
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely grated
  • 50g (2 oz) chopped walnuts
  • A handful (about 6) dates, whole or chopped
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar

Make sure the walnuts and dates are quite finely chopped. It's nice to have big bits but they can tend to make the cake fall apart, which is more of a risk with this vegan version.

Line an 18cm (7 inch) round cake tin with greased greaseproof paper, and preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas mark 4).

If your chia seeds are whole, grind them up in a pestle and mortar. If they're already ground, that's fine, and you might like to include a small sprinkle of whole seeds as well to add a bit of variety to the texture. Add water to the chia seeds, about the same volume of water as chia. No need to wait to let it "set" or anything like that.

Put the sugar into a mixing bowl and gradually whisk in the oil, then whisk in the chia mixture too. Add the flour, cinnamon and baking powder/bicarb and stir the mixture well, beating out lumps to make the mixture as smooth as you can. Add the carrots, nuts, dates and cider vinegar, and mix.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes, until the cake is risen and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven, leave to stand in the tin for 3 minutes, then turn out onto a wire tray, peel off the paper and leave to cool.

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Mushroom and aubergine biryani

This evening, took the time to make a nice mushroom and aubergine biryani. It takes a little time to prepare the onions and the marinade, but this method cooks the rice beautifully and makes a great one-pot dish.

Serves 2. The recipe here is based on a biryani recipe in "Indian vegetarian cookery" by Rafi Fernandez (p109). - And if you're wondering if 2 onions is too much for 2 people, well I wondered too, so I checked it against three other recipes before I tried it. It is indeed the right amount!

For the marinade:

  • 80g yogurt
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed


  • 2 medium white onions
  • 1/2 an aubergine (chopped into thin bitesize pieces)
  • 120g mushrooms (chopped into mediumthickish pices)
  • 155g basmati rice (ideally the rice with wild rice in too)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp cumin seed
  • About 8-10 strands saffron
  • 1 handful coriander leaf, chopped
  • 2 tbsp oat milk

Fry the aubergine pieces in not-too-much oil, just a touch - just to get a bit of colour on them.

With a fork, beat the yoghurt with the other marinade ingredients in a decent-sized bowl. Toss the mushroom and aubergine in this paste, making sure they're covered well, and leave to marinate for at least 20 minutes - could be much longer if you like.

Slice the onions into 5mm halfmoons, and fry them in hot oil for up to 10 minutes to crispy. Drain them on kitchen paper.

Rinse the rice. Parboil the rice (5 mins) with bay leaf, cinnamon, cumin seed and saffron. Then drain it and run the cold tap over it a little to stop it cooking. Don't do too much, no need to wash the flavour away.

In a pan with a tight-fitting lid, put a glug of oil and/or butter. Spread it around to make sure the bottom of the pan is coated. Now place a small scattering of rice, then the mushrooms+aubergine in a layer. Then half of the remaining rice, followed by most of the fried onions as a new layer (keep some fried onion for garnish), and finally the rest of the rice. Pour the milk over the top, gently making sure you get it evenly all over.

Now put the pan on the heat. Turn the heat down to the lowest it can go, and put the lid on. Let it cook gently for about 40 minutes - do not stir it ever, and do not open the lid.

To serve - turn the contents of the pan out onto a plate. Garnish with the leftover fried-onion, and coriander leaves.

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Two easy mushroom tarts

Two flat mushroomy tarts, really easy to make and vegan too. This recipe makes "half of one half of the other" but you can concentrate on just one or the other if you like.

The creamy one is a bit more savoury, while the tomato/pepper one is sweeter. They complement each other nicely.

Serves 2, takes 40 minutes (but the second half is just waiting, so you can do other things).

  • One sheet of puff pastry
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1/2 orange pepper (sliced)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Olive oil
  • 3 heaped tbsp of Oatly creme fraiche
  • 5 sundried tomatoes, from a jar preserved in oil - plus some more of the oil from the jar
  • 1 tsp of garlic puree, or 1 small clove garlic (pressed)

Preheat the oven to 200C, 180C fan.

Divide the pastry into two rectangular pieces, place it on a baking tray, and put something on top to weight it down a bit while it "blind bakes" in the oven. We just used some tin baking dishes (doesn't need to be too heavy). Put this in the oven and blind bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the toppings.

Warm up some olive oil in a large frying pan. Slice the mushrooms thickly and add them to the pan. Fry for a few minutes. Slice the red onion and add it. Fry it for another few minutes, stirring, until the onion is nicely softened.

Divide the contents of the pan in two, i.e. move half of it into a separate pan. Add the pepper to one pan, and the garlic and thyme to the other. Continue to fry a little more, but not too much. (It'd be nice to get a bit of colour on the pepper if you can.) Chop the sundried tomatoes, and add them to the pan that has the peppers.

When you take the pastry out of the oven, discard the weights on top.

On one pastry, spread the Oatly creme fraiche, and then spread on top the contents of the garlicky pan.

On the other pastry, spread the contents of the other pan. Also, take the jar of sundried tomatoes, and carefully sprinkle some of the liquid (i.e. tomato-infused oil) over the top.

Season with pepper if you like.

Bake these pastries in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.

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Vegan chorizo carbonara

OK, "vegan chorizo carbonara" - I think neither the Italians nor the Mexicans will forgive me for this one! But it's a veganuary experiment and I like it.

Thanks to veganuary I'm learning about chia egg, and here it really does work to provide the gloopy egg-like saucing. The chia also gives a little bit of flavour and crunch.

To get the flavour balanced, you add more lemon than you would to a "normal" carbonara - it isn't authentic but it adds some freshness and lightness.

Serves one, takes 15 minutes.

  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (white or black, doesn't matter)
  • 75g spaghetti
  • A small handful (75g) of black bean chorizo, or other vegan chorizo
  • Half a lemon, juice and rind
  • 50ml oat cream
  • A small handful of fresh parsley
  • A sprinkle of nutritional yeast

First, prepare the chia egg: grind up the chia seed in a pestle and mortar (or similar), not for too long - it doesn't need to be very fine - then add 3 tbsp of cold water. You can leave this to stand and thicken up as you do the other stuff.

Start the spaghetti cooking: put it in a large pan of boiling salted water. Cook it for maybe 12 mins until it is al dente.

Divide the chorizo into small bites. In a small frying pan, fry the chorizo in olive oil, hot at first but then turn it down to medium.

Chop the parsley roughly.

Mix the lemon juice and rind into the chia egg. You may need to stir the chia egg and poke it to beat out any clumps.

When the pasta has reached the "al dente" stage, drain it in a colander and then return it to the pan you cooked it in. (No need for any more heat at this point.) Add the chia egg and lemon, as well as the oat cream, and mix it through thoroughly. Then add the chorizo and the parsley, and mix them all up.

Serve this up, with nutritional yeast sprinkled on top.

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Black bean chorizo

I've been using "black bean chorizo" in my cooking for years. It's based on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's "tupperware chorizo" recipe - it makes a densely-flavoured black bean paste, not as firm as real chorizo but with the same kind of flavour depth.

It keeps in the fridge for a long time (let's say... a month?) and is really handy for a bit of complex strong flavour which, in vegetarian cooking, can otherwise be hard to get!

  • 375g black beans (from a tin), drained
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 25ml red wine

Put the black beans in a bowl and lightly mush/crush them, e.g. with a fork or a masher. They don't need to be fully minced but, at least... not bean-shaped any more!

Add all the other ingredients. Mix it all up thoroughly. It may well seem "too wet" with the red wine but don't worry, it all absorbs and matures.

Put the mix in a tupperware box that you can shut airtight. Shut it, put it in the fridge, and leave it for at least a day before using, ideally 1 to 3 weeks.

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Chilli sin carne, using pulled jackfruit

My amazing chilli sin carne (inspired by this version) is easy to make.

Photo of chilli dish

The only tricky thing is "pulling" the jackfruit at the end of the cooking - it's a bit labourious but it makes a massive difference to the way the food tastes in the mouth afterwards. Please don't skip it! You could ask your guests to pull their own platefuls if that works.

Serves 3-4. (It keeps fine in the fridge and tastes good next day...)

  • 1 tin young (green) jackfruit (drained)
  • The dry spices:
    • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 tbsp paprika
    • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped, or pressed)
  • oil
  • 1/2 or 1 red chilli, according to preference (thinly sliced)
  • 1 box brown button mushrooms (or whatever mushrooms you prefer) (chopped into chunks)
  • 1 red pepper (sliced)
  • 1 fairly large carrot (diced)
  • 1 packet chopped tomatoes
  • 1 splash red wine
  • 1 packet kidney beans, drained
  • 30g dark chocolate
  • 1 small handful fresh coriander

Preheat a medium grill. Coat the jackfruit pieces in the three dried spices. Put them on kitchen foil on a baking tray, and put them under the grill for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through. This helps dry the jackfruit out.

Meanwhile, in a large deep pan, start the base of the stew: fry the diced onion (gently, don't let it burn at all) for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and the chili. Stir. Let them fry for a minute or so before adding the mushrooms on top and stirring again. Optionally you can let this cook a bit more to get a touch of colour on the mushrooms, but either way, add the carrots, stir, and then add the chopped tomatoes, the red wine, and a splash of hot water (enough to loosen it to an ordinary stew thickness). Add the jackfruit to this when it's done grilling.

This is going to bubble for a good half hour, on a medium-low heat, with the lid on (take the lid off near the end if it needs to thicken up). You can start the rice cooking perhaps, if that's what'll be accompanying it.

Meanwhile, optionally you can griddle the red pepper to get some colour on it. Or just add it to the stew directly. Also add the kidney beans about half way through the stewing time.

When there's about 5 minutes left, take the lid off the stew, and add the chocolate broken into pieces. Let it melt and then stir it through. It should make the stew thicken up and become more of a dark brown colour.

The main final thing you need to do is "pull" the jackfruit. With a pair of forks - ideally strong ones! - grab each piece of jackfruit one by one with a fork, and with the second fork rake at it to make it come apart into stringy pieces. (Don't do this in a non-stick pan, you'll ruin it with the forks.)

Chop the coriander roughly and mix it in to the stew (or sprinkle it over) just before you serve it.

Serve with rice, crusty bread, slices of lime, vegan soured cream... as you like.

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Fake fish and chips - battered aubergine

Aubergine makes a great simple vegetarian/vegan alternative to battered fish and chips. Cook it like this.

Serves 2. Takes 25 to 30 minutes.

  • 2/3 ratio of plain flour (100g? dunno)
  • 1/3 ratio of cornflour (50g? dunno)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 bottle beer (ideally a flavourful pale ale or bitter) - you won't need all of it
  • 1 medium but fattish aubergine, or whatever you need to get two fillet-like pieces out of it

And to serve:

  • Oven chips
  • Mushy peas

Preheat the oven for the oven chips. (The aubergine will be going in too, later.)

Mix the flours and salt in a medium-sized bowl, and then start to pour the beer in, stirring with a fork to get everything combined and beat the lumps out. Try to use as little beer as possible to get the batter smooth - you want it to stay nice and thick so it'll form a thick coating.

Cut your aubergine(s) into big fillets. It'll depend on the size and shape of your aubergines, but for the medium-sized fattish ones I buy you can cut one in half lengthways and that gives two nice pieces, one for each person. But! You need nice big fillet-like pieces with both sides having flat white flesh exposed - so that the batter sticks better, and so that it's easier to fry. So if one side of a fillet is umblemished purple round skin, cut a thin slice off. You can discard that slice or you can keep it to batter+fry as scraps later.

Put the oven chips in the oven.

Heat a frying pan with a decent amount of oil for shallow-frying. Be a bit generous.

Dip the aubergine pieces in the batter, turning them around to coat them properly. Then immediately pop them into the hot oil.

Let them fry about 5 minutes on one side - don't move them around much, just let them fry to get a good coating. Just before you turn them over for the other side, take the leftover batter and pour a little bit on top of the aubergine, to replenish the raw batter on the uncooked side. Then you can turn the aubergine fillet over and fry the other side for 5 minutes.

When the aubergine fillets have fried to a nice golden crust on each side, take them out of the pan and put them on a baking tray, and pop them in the oven alongside the chips, to cook for another ten minutes. This will get the inside of the fillets nice and cooked and yielding.

During the last ten minutes, you can warm up the mushy peas or sort out whatever you want as accompaniment. You can also batter and fry those leftover pieces of aubergine. Or just fry some of the batter to make scraps.

Warning - the aubergine fillets retain heat really really well. Beware of burning your mouth when you tuck in to them!

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Chickpea chana curry with tamarind and baby aubergine

Tamarind is ace. It imparts a deep, rich and sweet flavour to curries. Buy a block and put it in your fridge, it keeps for months, and you can hack a piece off and chuck it in your curry just like that. That's what I did in this lovely chana (chickpea) curry.

Note that the block sort-of dissolves as it cooks, and leaves behind inedible pips. If you prefer not to spit out pips then you could put the tamarind in a paper teabag perhaps, so you can fish it out afterwards.

You can change the veg choices in here - the red pepper is a nice bright contrasting flavour - but in particular the baby aubergines do this great thing of going gooey and helping to create the sauce. Full-sized aubergines don't seem to do that, in my experience. It's the tamarind and the aubergine that go to add body to the sauce, I think - I don't add any tomato or anything like that, and yet the sauce is flavoursome and thickened.

  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 onion, chopped fine-ish
  • 1 red chilli, sliced (reduce amount if you want less heat)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into slices/dices
  • 4 baby aubergines, chopped into 2cm chunks
  • 1 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 packet of cooked beetroot, drained and quartered (you can add the drained beetroot juices to the pot later)
  • About 2cm cubed of tamarind block
  • Black pepper
  • 1 bunch coriander leaves, rinsed and roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a largeish deep pan which has a lid, on quite a hot frying heat. Add the spice seeds and the cloves - you might like to put the lid half-on at this point because as the seeds fry and pop they'll jump around and may jump out at you.

After 30 secs or so with the seeds, add the onion, then the chilli and the powdered spices. Give it a good stir round. Let the onion fry for a minute or two before adding the red pepper and the aubergines. Fry this all for another couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the chickpeas, the beetroot with its juices, the tamarind block, and maybe 1 cup of boiling water (don't add too much water - not enough to cover the mixture). Give this a good stir, then put the lid on, turn the heat down to its lowest, and let it bubble for 30 minutes or so. It can be longer or shorter, I'd say 20 minutes is an absolute minimum. No need to stir now, you can go and do something else, as long as you're sure it's not going to bubble over!

When the curry is nearly ready, take the lid off, turn the heat up to thicken the liquid if needed, and give it all a stir.

Give it a good twist of black pepper, then serve it up in bowls, with coriander leaf sprinkled on top. Serve it with bread (eg naan or roti).

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A pea soup

A nice fresh pea soup can be great sometimes, and also a good thing to do with leftovers. This worked well for me when I had some leftover spring onions, creme fraiche and wasabi. You can of course leave out the wasabi, or swap the creme fraiche for cream or a dab of milk, or you could add watercress perhaps.

  • A small knob of butter
  • 4 spring onions
  • 3-4 handfuls frozen peas (no need to defrost them!)
  • A dab of wasabi paste
  • About 75ml creme fraiche
  • Black pepper

Boil a kettle.

In a smallish pan melt the butter. Chop the spring onions, and fry the white bits gently to soften them, about 4 minutes. Then add the green bits of the spring onions, as well as the peas and the tiny dab of wasabi.

Turn up the heat and also add the boiling water, just enough to cover things. Once you've brought the pan to the boil you can turn it right down low, put a lid on it, and let it bubble gently for approx 10 minutes, no need for more.

Take the pan off the heat, and with a hand blender you can whizz up the pan's contents to blend it to a smooth soup. Add the black pepper and creme fraiche and stir it through.

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Roast squash, halloumi and pine nuts with asparagus

This was gorgeous. I hadn't realised that the sweet butternut and the salty halloumi would play so well off each other.

Serves 2, takes 45 minutes overall but with a big gap in the middle.

  • 1/2 a butternut squash
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • a generous handful of pine nuts
  • 1 block of halloumi
  • 6 stalks of fresh asparagus
  • Half a lemon

First get the oven pre-heated to 180 C. While it's warming get the butternut ready to go in the oven. Chop it into bitesize pieces, roughly the size of 2cm cubes but no need to be exact. Then put the pieces in a roasting tin. Take the tines of rosemary off the stalk, chop them up and sprinkle them over the squash, then drizzle generously with olive oil. Chop the garlic into two pieces (no need to skin them - we're not eating them, just using them to add flavour) and place the pieces strategically among the squash. Then put this all into the oven, to roast for maybe 40 minutes.

When there's about 10 minutes left, heat up a griddle pan and a frying pan on the hob. Don't add any oil to either of the pans.

Take the asparagus stalks, toss them in olive oil and lay them on the griddle. Don't move them about.

Put the pine nuts into the hot dry frying pan. You'll want to shuffle these about for the next few minutes, watching them carefully - they need to get a bit toasty but not burn. While you're doing that you can cut the halloumi into bitesize pieces, about 2cm cube size. Turn the asparagus over to cook the other side and add the halloumi to the pan too. (I hope they fit in the pan with the asparagus...) After a couple of minutes you can turn the halloumi over.

Get the tin out of the oven a couple of minutes before you serve it. Find and discard the garlic.

To serve, place the asparagus on each plate, then next to it you put the squash and the halloumi. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the squash and halloumi. Finally sprinkle a squeeze of lemon over.

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Asparagus and chestnut risotto

It's asparagus season, plus I have a half-used packet of ready-cooked chestnuts. Wait a moment - maybe those flavours can come together over a risotto. Yes they can.

Note: I would have started with some leek or onion to help get things going - if I'd had some.

Quantities are to serve 1, but scale it as you like. Took about 30 mins.

  • 1 big cupful of risotto rice
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • Stock (I used veg stock as well as a dash of mushroom ketchup)
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1 handful cooked chestnuts, halved
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • Black pepper
  • 2 knobs butter
  • Parmesan cheese

Rinse the asparagus, snip off the hardest end bits and chop the rest into bite-size pieces (about half an inch).

In a good-sized saucepan heat up 1 knob of butter. When it's melted add the rice and the asparagus and give it a good stir. Let it cook for a minute or so before you add a small cup-worth of stock and/or wine. Stir the rice gently as it absorbs the liquid. Eventually when pretty much all is absorbed add more liquid, and continue stirring. Continue this way for about 20 minutes, until all the liquid is added and the rice is approaching being nicely soft.

In a small frying pan heat up a big knob of butter. When it's melted and ready to sizzle add the halved chestnuts. Stir-fry them around for 3-5 minutes until coloured and smelling nice, then add the chestnuts and the butter to the risotto, stirring them in. Chop the parsley finely and add that too, stirring.

You'll want the chestnuts to spend about 5 minutes in the risotto to meld the flavours together. Then add a good twist of pepper, stir, and serve with plenty of shaved parmesan on top.

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Butternut squash toad-in-the-hole

This is a good hearty Sunday lunch for a vegetarian. One thing I'm missing as I increase my vegetarian-ness is something that's a proper centrepiece for a Sunday roast - those "nut roast" things which are fairly common are OK but I don't think I've had one that could outshine the roast potatoes on a plate. Anyway toad to the rescue. Of course you can do toad-in-the-hole with veggy sausages, but this here is great and not pretending to be anything it isn't!

Serves 2. Takes about 90 minutes in total, including a lot of oven-time where you can do other things.

I recommend you serve this with onion and red wine gravy (takes about 30 mins in a gentle pan), and have some raspberry vinegar available to sprinkle on the pud.

  • 1/2 a butternut squash (easiest to use the top half for this one)
  • 75 ml milk
  • 75 ml water
  • 65 g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1 egg

With a whisk or a fork, mix the milk, water and egg. Whisk the flour in, beating out any lumps. Now let this batter stand for a little while, e.g. 15 minutes, though it can easily rest for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 210 C.

Peel the squash and cut it into big thick fingers, like oversized chunky chips. (This is easiest if you're using the top of the squash and not the lower half with the seeds.)

Brush a roasting tray with oil (olive or vegetable) and then spread the squash pieces out on it. Drizzle over some more oil then roast the squash in the oven for about 40 minutes. They're going to get a bit more cooking after this, so they don't need to be "done" - they need to be at the point where they're just starting to soften and to get some darkening caramelisation at the edges.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the roasting tin in which you'll cook the toad. This needs to be at least 1 inch deep. Put a good glug of vegetable oil in, and then put this in the oven alongside the other stuff, so the tin and the oil can pre-heat to a good hot heat.

Take the squash out of the oven. If you leave them out a couple of minutes, they'll cool a bit so they're easier to handle in the next step.

Next is assembling the toad. It has to be done quickly! So that everything's hot in the hot tin. Quickly get the hot tin from the oven, pour the batter into it, then place the squash pieces one-by-one into the middle of the batter with a bit of space between them - and immediately return this to the hot oven and shut the door. This then cooks for 20-25 minutes until the batter is risen and crusty, the squash is nicely cooked and getting a nice roast colour.

If you have more pieces of squash than you can accommodate in the tin, simply put them back on the roasting tray and continue to roast them. You can serve them alongside.

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Sweet onion and puy lentil stew

Inspired by Nigel Slater's recipe I made a great and simple vegetarian stew (vegan, in fact), using my black bean chorizo to help add depth of flavour. (If you haven't got any of that, you could probably do something similar just with a blob of black bean sauce, even though the flavour is different?)

Lovely stew

Serves 1 (fairly big portion), takes 25 mins.

  • 125g ready-to-eat puy lentils
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp black bean chorizo
  • 1/4 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Optional: a few mangetouts
  • A few leaves of fresh parsley
  • Optional: a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

In a deep pan which has a lid, heat up about 1 tbsp vegetable oil, while you chop the onion. You want to chop about three-quarters of the onion into whatever size pieces, and the remaining one-quarter of the onion slice it into nice rings, about half a centimetre thick.

The misc pieces of onion, put them in the pan and give them a good fry to get them softened. Add the three spices and stir around. Then add the chorizo - not too much, it's mainly for flavour. Let this cook for two minutes or so.

Then add the lentils and stir, then add enough boiling water to only-just-cover. Put a lid on, turn the heat right down, and let this bubble for 15 minutes.

In the final five minutes, heat about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a frying pan. Make sure the onion rings are separated into circles, and put them in the pan to fry briskly for 5 minutes, turning halfway. While these are getting a little crispy, chop the mangetouts roughly into maybe 3 pieces each and chuck them into the stew, and also add the bits of parsley and the lemon juice.

When the onion rings are ready, simply put the stew in a bowl and sprinkle the onion rings on top.

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Big aubergine and lemon tagine

I love a lamb tagine, so I'd like to make a vegetarian tagine that competes with it for the fullness of flavour. Here's my best one so far, making it deep and main-coursey by having large chunks of aubergine flavoured with cinnamon to take centre stage, and bitterness from fried lemon slices so that there's contrasting objects in there along with the standard tagine backing.

And yes you're meant to eat the lemon slices, rind and all. You don't have to eat the rind if you don't want, but it's doing the bitter/sour job we've got it for.

Serves 2, takes maybe an hour (including the stewing time).

  • 1 medium aubergine
  • Half a lemon
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 1 pack chopped tomatoes (300ml?)
  • 1 handful prunes or dates (chopped or whole, you choose - but no stones)
  • 1 cup veg stock
  • runny honey
  • 2 handfuls sliced almonds
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • Black pepper
  • 1 handful chickpeas, drained

In a deep pan that has a lid, heat up a big glug of olive oil, and fry the diced onion at a medium heat for 3-5 minutes to soften. Then add the chopped tomatoes. Stir and let it cook for a minute or two, then add the dates/prunes, 1 cup of veg stock, the honey, and a handful of almonds. Put the lid on, bring to the boil, then turn the heat right down to a simmer.

Chop the aubergine into big pieces, maybe 1 inch cubed. Don't go smaller than that. Put the aubergine in a bowl and sprinkle over a good dose of cinnamon, maybe 2 tbsp. Toss this around to coat the aubergines fairly evenly.

Get a big frying pan and put it on a hot heat. (No oil.) Add the aubergine pieces. Let them dry-fry for maybe 6 minutes, tossing them occasionally to turn over. A couple of minutes before they're done, slice the lemon into 0.5 cm slices, remove the seeds, and cut the slices in half (i.e. into semicircles), then add the lemon slices to the dry-fry pan. This gets them a little bit browned too. If you're increasing the quantities, you'll need to do the dry-frying in batches.

Put the aubergine and lemon into the stew pot. Add a good twist of black pepper, as well as the cumin and bay leaf. Stir around. Now put the lid back on and let this bubble gently for maybe 20 minutes minimum, 40 minutes maximum.

About ten minutes before the end of the cooking time, add a handful of chickpeas.

Then, just before serving: taste to check the sweetness, and decide whether to add a bit more honey. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, and stir. Then finally sprinkle some more sliced almonds over.

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Courgette fritter salad

After a tip-off from a friend, I've had a couple of different attempts at doing a nice simple meal with courgette fritters. This one is working well so far. I keep the courgettes in pieces (rather than grating them) which maintains the nice structure with the squishy middle bit, and the egg coating helps to make them into little parcels.

Takes 10 minutes, serves 2 as a light meal.

  • 1 large courgette
  • 1 egg
  • handful of plain flour
  • grated dried parmesan (about 1/3 the amount of the flour)
  • Some leaves. I used:
    • a small handful of parsley
    • a handful of rocket
  • Half a lemon (for juicing)
  • More parmesan (fresh or dried)

First get the courgette ready. If you rinsed it, pat it dry with kitchen paper. Cut it into 1cm-thick slices and put them on kitchen paper to dry a bit more.

Put a large frying pan on a medium-hot heat, and put a good slug of vegetable oil in it, a couple of millimetres deep.

Mix the flour and parmesan in a bowl. In a second bowl, lightly beat the egg. These are going to be for coating the courgette.

Take the courgette slices and toss them in the flour/parmesan. Try to get a nice even coating.

Now we fry. With one hand, take the courgette pieces one at a time, dip them in the beaten egg, turn them to coat, and then put into the hot pan. By the time you've got them all into the pan it may well be time to turn the first ones over - they need 2 or 3 minutes each side. Do the turning-over one slice at a time (e.g. using tongs), in roughly the same order that you put them in.

When the courgettes are nicely golden-brown on both sides, lift them out onto kitchen paper. In a bowl or directly on the plate, mix them with the salad leaves. Sprinkle more parmesan over them, then squeeze lemon juice over them.

Serve with crusty bread or hot buttered toast.

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Beetroot nisk soup

"Nisk" is a kurdish soup. I don't know much about it but I've modified it with a pack of beetroot to make a simple storecupboard thing that's a lovely warming and hearty soup. Takes 20 mins, serves 1 as a main or 2 otherwise:

  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2cm ginger root, finely sliced
  • 1.5 tsp turmeric
  • 1 pack beetroot
  • Some vegetable stock
  • 1 small handful yellow lentils, dried
  • 1 small handful rice
  • 1 small splodge of chilli sauce

Set up the lentils: put some hot water on them briefly, then drain and rinse them.

Heat some vegtable oil in a saucepan and start the garlic and ginger frying gently. Open the beetroot pack (carefully!), drain the liquid, and but the beetroots into bite-size pieces (eighths).

Add the turmeric to the garlic/ginger, stir once, then add the beetroot. Stir.

The rice and lentils to the pot, then add just enough stock/hot water to cover. Bring to the boil, add the dab of chilli sauce, then put a lid on and turn the heat right down.

Simply simmer really gently for 15 minutes. Then serve, perhaps with a bit of parsley. You probably don't need bread with it.

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Kale and rosemary flatbread

Kale and rosemary flatbread. What I particularly like about this flatbread is that the kale baked in the oven goes crispy like fried seaweed. I had it as a main course with a bit of rocket and some manchego cheese. It could also be a good accompaniment, maybe an accompaniment to something meaty.

Serves 2. It's derived from a recipe from "Crumb" by Roby Tandoh.

  • 250g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp instant dried yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a twist of black pepper
  • 175ml lukewarm water
  • a few (6? 10?) tines of fresh rosemary
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g kale, stalks removed, and shredded

Combine the flour, salt, pepper and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the warm water. Mix with a fork, then when that gets difficult add 1 tbsp of the olive oil and rosemary, and mix with one hand.

Knead it for 10 minutes. You might be able to do this in the bowl or it might be easier to tip it out onto a clean surface. You might need to sprinkle a bit more flour on. It should become elastic and less sticky.

Now cover the dough and let it rise for 30-60 minutes in a warm place. Meanwhile, blanche the kale: bring a pan of water to the boil and plunge the kale in. Boil it quickly for 1 minute, then immediately drain it and run cold water over it to stop it from cooking any further. Now you need to get it as dry as you can, firstly by draining it then by pressing it gently.

Knead just under half of the kale into the risen dough. It'll be a little tricky, due to the residual moisture on the leaves, but there's no need to worry about it being perfect.

Preheat a fan oven to 170C. Using a rolling pin and a floured surface, roll out the dough and then roll/hand-stretch it into a kind of A4 shape, quite thin, and put it onto a lightly floured baking tray. Put the remaining kale over the top, pressing it down a bit so that it'll stick in. Drizzle plenty of olive oil over the top and bake for 20 minutes.

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Poached thai-style sea bass

Poached thai-style sea bass - a handy everyday recipe, easy to do, healthy and fresh, whenever you see a nice piece of sea bass in the shop. It takes less than ten minutes. All of the flavourings are optional really but most of them can be kept in your store cupboard.

These amounts are to serve one.

  • 1 fillet of sea bass
  • 1 portion dried noodles
  • Flavourings:
    • 2 spring onions
    • 1 lemongrass stalk
    • 1/2 a chilli
    • a piece of root ginger (maybe 2 cm cubed?)
    • 1 or 2 lime leaves
    • a dash of fish sauce (or if you don't have that then a dash of light soy sauce or worcestershire sauce will add a bit of depth to compensate)
  • to serve: a small amount of fresh coriander or parsley

Boil a kettle.

Meanwhile chop things up: the spring onions into ~1mm slices, the chilli into ~1mm slices, the root ginger into fine slices, and chop the parsley. Don't chop the lemongrass, but bruise it (bash it with the heel of the knife a bit). Don't chop the lime leaves.

Put all the flavourings (not the coriander/parsley) into a pan with a small-soup-portion of boiled water and bring it to the boil. Add the noodles, then add the seabass so it sits on top of them (it should still be submerged though). No need to stir anything.

Turn the heat right down and put a lid on. Let it poach for about 5 minutes.

At the end, ladle the whole lot into a soup dish, ideally keeping the fish in one piece sitting on top. Sprinkle the coriander/parsley on.

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Dry-fried paneer

This is my approximation of the lovely dry-fried paneer served at Tayyabs, the famous Punjabi Indian place in East London. These amounts are for 1 as a main, or more as a starter. Takes about ten minutes:

  • 200g paneer, cut into bite-size cubes
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 an onion, sliced finely
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (optional)
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garam masala (optional)
  • A few chives (optional)

First put the cubed paneer into a bowl, add the curry powder and cumin and toss to get an even coating.

Get a frying pan nice and hot, with about 1 tbsp of veg oil in it. Add the onion and chilli (and cumin seed if using). Note that you want the onion to be frying to be crispy at the end, so you want it finely sliced and separated (no big lumps), you want the oil hot, and you want the onion to have plenty of space in the pan. Fry it hot for about 4 minutes.

Add the paneer to the pan, and any spice left in the bowl. Shuffle it all around, it's time to get the paneer browning too. It'll take maybe another 4 minutes, not too long. Stir it now and again - it'll get nice and brown on the sides, no need to get a very even colour on all sides, but do turn it all around a couple of times.

Near the end, e.g. with 30 seconds to go, add the squeeze of lemon juice to the pan, and stir around. You might also like to sprinkle some garam masala into the pan too.

Serve the paneer with chive sprinkled over the top. It's good to have some bread to eat it with (e.g. naan or roti) and salad, or maybe with other indian things.

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Blackberry and lemoncurd cheesecake

A baked germanic cheesecake with blackberries and lemon curd. Yes please. Makes a cheesecake for 12 slices.

Cheesecake, artist's impression
  • 12 digestive biscuits
  • 85g butter/marge
  • 500g quark
  • 400g cream cheese
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 3 eggs (we'll be using 3 whites and 2 yolks)
  • 225g blackberries (if you have more, you could make a coulis to go with it)
  • 110g lemon curd (approximate amount)

Put the oven on at 180C. Line a round springform cake tin (7" diameter maybe) with greaseproof paper.

Crush the biscuits roughly in a bag, and melt the butter/marge in a pan or in a microwave. Mix the biscuits and butter/marge well then press it into the tin, forming an even base all the way to the edges. Put in the oven for 10 minutes, then take it out and leave it out to cool. If you have time, put it in the fridge for up to an hour to firm up.

Turn the oven down to 140C.

Beat the quark, cream cheese, icing sugar and two egg yolks together.

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Then fold them gently into the quark mixture, with a wooden or plastic spoon, taking care not to over-mix (which would take the air out).

Now to assemble the thing in layers:

  1. Pour one-third of the quark mixture or less (a quarter?) onto the biscuit base. (I say "or less" because you want to be sure you have enough left to do the very last layer, it's important for it to be on the top.) Smooth the layer out flat.
  2. Then put the lemon curd on top of the mixture - it's quite blobby and thick so it'll be hard to get an even coating, and you wouldn't want that anyway - but try your best to get a fairly even sprinkling of tiny blobs all over, and don't try smooshing it out afterward cos it won't work.
  3. Then another one-third of the quark mixture. Smooth it out evenishly.
  4. Now sprinkle the blackberries over the top. You do NOT want to make a complete covering, because structurally you don't want the blackberries to keep the top quark layer from meeting up with the lower quark layers. So don't pack them too tightly, and only do one layer.
  5. Finally the rest of the quark mixture. Again, smooth the top, if you want. The important thing is to have quark mixture all over the top, hiding the blackberries from the oven.

Now bake this in the oven, for about 90 minutes. (Cooking slowly, at 140 rather than 180, is so that it doesn't brown on top, or at least not much.) Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake cool in the oven, with the door ajar (cooling it slowly helps prevent cracking, though when using the blackberries it's quite unlikely you'll avoid all cracking). Refrigerate.

Serve with some blackberry coulis if you have more blackberries! Not necessary though. It's great as-is - ideally you should get it out of the fridge a while before you eat it so it isn't too chilly.

VARIATION: Cranachan cheesecake

The traditional Scottish dessert of cranachan involves raspberries, oats, cream and whisky, so let's do something like that! Follow the recipe above but:

  • raspberries rather than blackberries;
  • a flavourful honey in place of the lemon curd;
  • add a good handful of oats to the base mixture, as well as a single shot of whisky;
  • shortly before serving, heat a dry frying pan and toast a handful of oats until aromatic. Turn off the heat. When the oats are cool enough to touch, sprinkle them on top of the cheesecake (I sprinkled them all near the outer edge).
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Beetroot and tomato soup

It's always good to have recipes for those packs of cooked beetroot. So let's have a nice simple soup. Serves 4 to 5 people, takes about half an hour:

  • 1 pack cooked beetroot (4 beetroots), drained
  • 3 big tomatoes (or 5 small ones)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin seed (or less if you prefer)
  • Marge / butter / oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup of milk

On a medium heat, heat up a blob of marge in a deep saucepan with a lid. Roughly slice the onion and add it. Then add the cumin seed and stir. Slice the garlic and add that. Add salt and pepper. Let that all fry gently to soften, for about 5 minutes.

Roughly chop the tomatoes and pile them on top. Boil the kettle and add enough hot water so that it only-just-about covers the things in the pan (maybe 1/2 a cup). Stir, then put the pan lid on, turn the heat down to low, and let it bubble gently for 15 minutes.

Cut the beetroot roughly into chunks, add it to the pan and stir. Take the pan off the heat. Let everything cool for a minute, then carefully ladle it all into a big blender. (I say carefully because you still want to be careful about beetroot stains!) Whizz it all up, briefly so that there are no pieces left but it's still kinda thick. Return it to the pan.

Warm it up again, adding the milk at the end - not too much, just enough to slacken it and give it a touch of creaminess.

Serve with bread and butter.

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Tea-smoked turkish delight

At our local International Supermarket they do some great turkish delight. However, the batch I bought recently tasted funny - I think they must have stored the turkish delight alongside a big mound of parsley, because it had obviously absorbed some flavours which didn't really suit it!

So what can you do if your turkish delight has absorbed some flavours? Make it absorb some more!

So I experimented with tea-smoking the turkish delight. I was nervous that something weird would happen in the wok (I've never tried warming up turkish delight before...) but it turned out fine and the smoky flavour works well.

Actually I'd like them a bit more smoky than they are, so you might want to increase some of the proportions here:

  • One pack of turkish delight (mine had pistachios in)
  • Three teabags
  • Dark sugar
  • Rice

Get a wok (or similar) and put a layer of tinfoil in.

Rip open the teabags and pour their contents onto the foil. Then add roughly equal quantities of rice and sugar. Mix it up a bit with your fingers. Put the wok on a medium heat. It'll take a few minutes until it starts smoking.

Meanwhile, you'll need something into the wok which will hold the turkish delight well away from the heat, but will allow the smoke to circulate. Maybe some sort of steaming pan. I used a thing for stopping oil from spitting at you.

Don't put the "thing" into the wok yet, keep it to one side. On top of the thing, put some tinfoil and put the pieces of turkish delight onto that. Space them out, and make sure the foil won't stop smoke from circulating.

Turkish delight, ready to get smoked

When the tea has started smoking, put the thing-and-foil-and-delight into it, and put a tight lid on top. (You could use foil, if you don't have a good lid.)

Turn the heat down a bit and let the thing smoke gently for about 15 minutes. Don't peek inside! You don't want the smoke to escape! After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and just leave the pan there for a couple of hours to let the process continue.

When it's all finally done, open the pan - in a well-ventilated area. Take the delight out, and sprinkle with a bit more icing sugar to serve.

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Haggis, apple and pasta salad

Leftover haggis is great for salads. This time I put it with apple - a bit less jazzy than my haggis and orange salad but still a great easy lunch. Serves 1 to 2:

  • 1/4 of a cooked haggis (cold)
  • 1 apple
  • Handful of pasta
  • Handful of rocket
  • 1-2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Cook the pasta, then drain it, refresh it in cold water, and leave it to one side for a bit to cool down.

Peel the apple and slice it into matchsticks.

In a bowl, break up the haggis with a spoon or a fork. Mix the apple into it. Then add everything else and mix it together.

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Blackberry pavlova

Over the bank holiday we happened to discover a massive trove of BLACKBERRIES! Now of course I'm not going to tell you the exact location - let's just say it was somewhere in the southern half of the UK ;) and we got a massive haul of lovely blackberries:

Untitled Untitled

So we now have many blackberry-oriented puddings ahead of us. To make the most of the freshly-picked blackberries I wanted to make pavlova with blackberries and blackberry coulis. So Philippa's mum kindly told us the secret to her delicious pavlova. My photography here is amateur but trust us this is delicious:


So here's the recipe. The amounts I've written are for a "small" pavlova to serve two. If you change the amounts you'll probably need to adjust the cooking time.

I've got to say, and I know this sounds poncey, but it's not really worth bothering with shop-bought blackberries. We've had them now and again and they always look nice but there's somehow no flavour to them. (Philippa's mum makes it with shop-bought raspberries and that's good. It's really the blackberries I'm on about here.) So, while it's the season, if you can find some blackberries to pick, then take the opportunity, and make this:

  • For the pavlova:
    • 2 egg whites
    • 4 oz caster sugar
    • 2/3 tsp cornflour
    • 1/3 tsp vanilla essence
    • 2/3 tsp malt vinegar
  • For the rest:
    • 10 oz (285g) blackberries
    • 1 heaped tsp icing sugar
    • Ice cream to serve

Pre-heat the oven to 150C.

First you need to whisk the egg whites almost to stiff peaks. For this, follow all the usual meringue advice: you'll need a spotlessly clean bowl (because oil or alkaline can cause it to collapse), and I add a dab of vinegar to the bowl to be sure. Add the egg whites and then whisk them almost to stiff peaks. Add half of the sugar and whisk it in.

Then mix the other half of the sugar with the cornflour. Sprinkle it over the meringue mix, and do the same with the vanilla and the vinegar. Using a big wooden or plastic spoon, fold everything in, until it's mixed and the brown streaks have disappeared. Take care not to over-fold it or the air will go out of it - better to stop a little too soon than a little too late.

Put a sheet of baking paper on a big baking tray, and pour the mixture onto it, making a rough circle. Level it off with the back of the spoon, so it's maybe an inch thick.

Put this into the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave it to cool, without opening the door. This helps prevent it from cracking. After about 30 minutes, or maybe longer, it's probably OK to open the oven door. Then leave it to cool to room temperature, a good hour or so at least.

[...time passes...]

When you're ready to have your afters, prepare the blackberries and coulis etc - it doesn't take a sec. Rinse the blackberries gently. Put half of them onto the plates you're going to serve them on (pick the best-looking non-squishy ones if you have the patience). The other half, put them in a (mini-)blender with the icing sugar, and whizz them up. Then push this mixture through a sieve and collect the lovely dark purple coulis into a serving jug below.

Serve however you like, but each person will want a slice of the pavlova meringue, a load of the fresh blackberries, a generous drizzle of coulis and a couple of scoops of ice cream.

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Haggis and orange salad


Haggis and orange - why of course! This salad serves 2. The red wine vinegar really helps the flavours marry, and the beansprouts add a nice bit of crunch - if you're being posh you could also/instead add some pomegranate seeds.

  • 1 portion of cooked haggis
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 generous handful rocket
  • 1 very small handful beansprouts (probably no more than 10 sprouts)
  • 3 tsp olive oil, approx
  • 2.5 tsp red wine vinegar

In a large bowl, break the haggis into small pieces with a spoon. The haggis we had was a little dry so I also added a dab of oil at this point.

Now prepare the orange. First, with a zester, scrape off about 1/4 of the orange's zest, into the haggis. Then, with a knife slice the top and bottom off the orange, then stand the orange on a chopping board and slice off the rest of the peel. Then cut the orange into segments, and cut each segment in two, so you have little bite-sized bits. Pick out any pips. Add the orange pieces to the haggis, and also tip in the small amount of juice from the chopping board.

Add the rocket and the beansprouts, and mix. Add the olive oil and red wine vinegar and mix it to dress evenly. You won't need to season much, since the haggis brings a lot of seasoning.

Serve with toast.

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Clementine cake

This clementine cake is lovely and juicy, with a nice sweet chewiness to the crust. And look at that crumb:


When I took the next photo I accidentally left the flash on - but it does show off some of the bright orange colouring in the cake:


It's an easy cake to make. Cos of the juiciness it doesn't keep for that long... but that's no problem. If you have a pressure-cooker it really speeds up the bit where you cook the clementines (or tangerines, or whatever).


  • 4-5 clementines (350--375g)
  • 6 eggs
  • 225 g sugar
  • 225 g ground almonds
  • 25 g flaked almonds
  • 3 or 4 cloves
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder

Put the clementines (WHOLE AND UNPEELED, but without any stalky bits) into the pressure cooker, or a big pan with a lid. Add cold water to cover. If it's a pressure cooker, put the lid on, bring it up to pressure, and cook for 15-20 mins. If it's a normal pan, simmer gently (covered) for 2 hours.


Then turn off the heat, release the pressure, and let the clems and the water cool down. You have to let them cool before the next step, so the clementines don't scramble the eggs! Here's a picture of our clems cooling on the back step.

Put the clems into a food processor and blend them up. (It's handy to keep some of their cooking water in case the mixture needs a bit more liquid, but in my experience it's generally not needed.)

Crush the cloves in a pestle and mortar. Add the flaked almonds and crush them too. No need to crush the almonds too fine - the point of the flaked almonds is to give an occasional bit of crunch to the cake.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, then mix in the clementines. Then add everything else, and mix it up.

Pour into a 21cm springform tin (greased, and with baking paper in the bottom) and bake at 180 degrees (gas mark 4 or 5) for about an hour. Cover the cake loosely with greaseproof paper or a tray, for the last 20 minutes or so.

Take out of the oven and let it sit in the tin for 10--20 minutes or so, before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool properly.

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Lime tabbouleh

This recipe used HFW's "tabula kisir" recipe as a starting point, but I adapted it to approximate a nice tabbouleh I've had in the good lebanese place. As usual, I make no claims to authenticity - but in my opinion there shouldn't be too much wheat (or else it comes across like a boring old couscous), and it should have a nice acid tang - in my version the lime does that really nicely. I didn't have any tomatoes in the house but you could easily add a single diced tomato too. Serves 2, takes about half an hour in total.

  • 1 small handful bulgar wheat
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 generous handful parsley
  • 1 lime
  • 1 small handful chopped walnut pieces
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Put the bulgar wheat into a large bowl (it will look like not very much!), and add just enough boiling water to cover. Put a plate over the top and leave it to steam for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, there are a few other bits you can prepare in parallel:

Wash the spring onion and the parsley and put them to one side.

Put a dry frying pan on a hot hob, and add the walnuts. Toss them around in the pan occasionally until they smell nice and toasty. Then turn off the heat and put them to one side.

Also make up the dressing. Juice the lime into a small dish or glass. Then add the chilli flakes, cumin, paprika, and tomato puree, and whisk it up with a fork. Then add the olive oil and whisk it up again. Finally mix the dressing in with the bulgar wheat, and if it hasn't already cooled completely then leave it a little while more.

Chop the spring onion finely, and the parsley too. Add them to the bulgar wheat, and add the walnuts too. It's also nice to add a little bit of peel from the lime. Mix it all around, and leave it at least a few minutes for the flavours to mix together.

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Rhubarb in the hole

I've been experimenting with rhubarb, looking at nice ways to cook it in the oven without stewing it first (so it keeps its shape). Here's a rather nice one: rhubarb in the hole.

These amounts serve 2. Should work fine if you double the amounts - you just need a roasting tin big enough to sit all the rhubarb in with plenty of space.

  • 2 medium sticks rhubarb
  • 5 or 6 heaped tbsp ginger preserve (ginger jam)
  • 3 tsp caster sugar
  • Oil or marge for greasing
  • For the batter:
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup (125 ml) milk
    • 50 g (1/2 cup) plain flour
    • Pinch of salt
    • 3 tsp caster sugar

In a mixing jug, beat the egg then add the milk and beat again. Add the salt and 3 tsp sugar and beat again, then gradually whisk in the flour to make a medium-thick batter. (This is normal Yorkshire pudding batter but slightly sweetened.)

If you can, leave the batter to sit for about 30 mins, then whisk again.

Put the oven on at 200 C. Grease the roasting tin / Yorkshire-pudding tin and put it in the oven to preheat.

Rinse the rhubarb and cut it into 8cm (3in) pieces. On a chopping board or in a bowl, mix the rhubarb pieces with the ginger preserve to get them nice and evenly coated. Sprinkle the other 3 tsp sugar onto them.

Assembling the pudding can be a bit tricky - mainly because you want to work fast, so the tin stays hot. Get it out of the oven, then wobble it around to make sure the grease is evenly spread just before you pour in the batter. Then place the rhubarb pieces in (probably best to do it one-by-one) so they're evenly spread but they're all a good couple of centimetres away from the edge.

Immediately put this all back in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. The batter should rise and get a nice golden-brown crust.

You can serve it on its own, or with a small amount of ice cream maybe.

(I had expected it to be a bit dry on its own, but actually the fruit keeps it moist so the ice cream isn't compulsory.)

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Asparagus with garlic mayonnaise

Classic combination this, but when asparagus is in season it's a lovely light lunch to base around a handful of asparagus. Serves 2, takes 10 minutes, and NB it involves a raw egg so it's not for anyone preganant.

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, rinsed
  • 2 slices bread
  • 1 egg
  • About 1/2 tsp garlic puree
  • About 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • About 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • Olive oil
  • Small amount of pecorino or parmesan cheese

Put a griddle pan on a high heat to warm up. Put the bread in the toaster on a light setting. (The plan is to ignore when it pops up and leave it in the toaster while preparing the other stuff, which gets the bread a bit dry and crispy which complements the other stuff well.) Separate the egg, putting the yolk in a small mixing bowl, and put the white in the fridge/freezer (we don't need it). Shave/slice the cheese finely.

Put the asparagus in the hot griddle pan (lying perpendicular to the lines of the pan). Sprinkle a small amount of oil onto the asparagus. Let it cook for 5--7 minutes or so, turning halfway through, and meanwhile make the mayonnaise as follows.

Add the mustard powder, vinegar and garlic to the yolk, and mix it all in with a whisk. Add a tiny drop of olive oil and whisk that in until it's well blended. Add another bit of olive oil and whisk it in again. Keep doing this until you've added about 2 tbsp oil (after the first couple of drops, you can start adding slightly larger amounts at a time). Taste it, and adjust the flavour if wanted. Keep whisking and adding a dab more oil until it reaches a slightly gelatinous mayonnaisey consistency.

When the asparagus is almost ready, put the toaster down and let it warm the bread up for another 20 seconds or so. Then slice the toast in halves, and arrange each plate with toast and asparagus, sprinkling the cheese over the asparagus and then adding a blob-or-drizzle of mayonnaise over.

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Rustic green lentils

A simple lentil supper that happens to have a nice variegation of good strong flavours. Serves two, takes 40 minutes.

  • 100g green lentils
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 carrot (peeled and chopped in bitesize chunks)
  • 1 pinch asafoetida
  • 1 handful fresh thyme
  • 3 mushrooms
  • Small handful beans e.g. aduki beans (optional)
  • 1 handful fresh parsley

Put the lentils in a sieve and rinse them under running water.

Heat up 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan and start the onion and the cumin frying. After a couple of minutes, add the garlic. After another minute or two (maybe you're taking this time to chop the carrot) add the carrot and the asafoetida. Stir around and allow to fry a bit more. Overall, the onion etc should have been frying for 5 minutes or so before the next step.

Add enough boiling water to just cover what's in the pan, and let it boil strongly for a couple of minutes. Then turn the heat down to a simmer, bung the thyme in, and put a lid on.

This is now going to simmer for almost 30 minutes but halfway through we'll add the mushrooms. So about halfway through, heat up a frying pan with 1 tbsp olive oil in, peel and slice the mushrooms, and fry them quickly for a minute or so - no need to overdo it. Then bung the mushrooms in with everything else, and also the beans if you have any. Now is a good time to wash and chop up the parsley.

When the food is almost ready to serve (not much water left in the pan, and the lentils are almost soft, but still with a bit of a bite), add the parsley and 1 tbsp olive oil and stir through. Then serve.

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Roast pumpkin and aubergine spaghetti

This is a nice way to use pumpkin, a spicy and warming pumpkin pasta dish. These quantities serve 2; takes about 45 minutes in total, with some spare time in the middle.

  • 1/2 a pumpkin
  • 1 medium orange chilli
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • Plenty of olive oil
  • 1/2 an aubergine
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Spaghetti

Put the oven on hot, about 210--220 C. Peel and deseed the pumpkin, and slice it into slices about 1/2 cm thick and 4 or 5 cm long - no need to be exact, but we want thinnish pieces. Chop the chilli up into rings too.

In a roasting tin, put a good glug of olive oil, then the pumpkin and chilli. Sprinkle over the paprika and turmeric, then toss to mix. Put this in the oven and let it roast for about 40 minutes, preparing the aubergine and pasta in the mean time.

The aubergine needs to be cut into pieces of similar size and shape to the pumpkin. The tomatoes, leave them whole but cut out the stalky bit. Halfway through the pumpkin's cooking time, add the aubergine, another glug of olive oil, toss briefly to mix, and sit the tomatoes in the middle somewhere, then put it all back in the oven.

Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions (e.g. boil for 15 minutes). Drain it, and get the other stuff out of the oven. In the pan that you used for the pasta (or a new pan), put the two roasted tomatoes and bash them with a serving spoon so they fall apart and become a nice lumpy paste. Add the pasta to them and mix. Then add the other roast vegetables, and mix all together, but gently this time so you don't mush the veg.

Serve with some parmesan perhaps.

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Aubergine casserole with stuffing topping

This aubergine casserole was made extra nice by making a topping out of some leftover stuffing we had in the fridge. Serves 2, takes about 45 minutes.

  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin flageolet beans (or similar), drained
  • 1 big handful parsley
  • 1 green chilli
  • A handful of stuffing (made up and maybe pre-cooked, e.g. leftovers)
  • Plenty of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Get a wide frying pan with a bit of depth, warm it up on the hob with some olive oil in.

Chop the aubergine into half, then slice (about 1cm slices), and start them frying in the hot pan. After a couple of minutes, turn them over - they'll have sucked up a lot of oil, so many be add some more. Slice the chilli up and add it to the pan.

After a couple more minutes of frying, add the tinned tomatoes. Let the mixture bubble down a bit while you drain the beans, and rinse the parsley and chop it up finely-ish.

Add the beans and parsley to the pan. Stir. Let the mixture bubble for another couple of minutes.

Now, transfer the whole mixture to a deepish ceramic pot. Crumble the stuffing over the top (it doesn't need to form a "complete" crust, just a topping) and pour another good slug of olive oil over the top. Cook in the hot oven (uncovered) for 20 or 25 minutes, until it's developed a nice crustiness.

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Lemon chilli lentils

This is basically a dhal, but the clear lemon+chilli flavour makes it a bit different from the curry flavour when you make a dhal usually. If you're not comfortable with hot chilli, reduce the amounts in here. Serves 2.

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, chopped into matchsticks
  • 3 or 4 small hot chillis, chopped up
  • a small squirt of garlic paste
  • 1 cup yellow lentils
  • 1 lemon
  • handful fresh parsley

Heat some oil in a non-stick saucepan which has a lid. Chuck the cumin seeds in and let them fry quickly until they darken and smell fragrant. Add the diced onion and the chilli, stir briefly, and add the garlic paste and the carrot.

Add the lentils, stir, then add enough boiling water to cover and give maybe another half-to-one centimetre depth of covering. Chop the lemon in half, squeeze out its juice and add it to the pan.

Stir. Put the lid on the pan, turn the heat right down, and let it bubble gently for about half an hour. Stir it at some point during this time.

When it's ready it should be pretty dry - it will be in danger of sticking to the pan, which is why I sid use a non-stick pan. Stir it round, sprinkle in the fresh parsley and maybe a bit of garam masala too.

Serve with a couple of hot chapattis per person.

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Sausage, beetroot and mint stew

Unusual combination but surprisingly delicious: sausage, beetroot, mint. This is a straightforward stew but these robust flavours make it a fab one-pot meal. Takes about an hour (but you have loads of spare time once it's started cooking), serves 3.

  • pack of 8 sausages
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 medium potatoes
  • 2 tbsp thyme (I used fresh; if using dried, probably just 1 tbsp)
  • pack of 4 cooked beetroots
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves (dried mint not a good idea here)
  • olive oil

In a big deep pan that has a lid, heat up two tablespoons of olive oil on a medium heat. Bung in the sausages and get them frying. The sausages should start to brown nicely fairly quickly.

Put the kettle on. Peel the potatoes and chop them into big chunks. Stir the sausages occasionally while you're doing this, but don't worry too much. Peel and chop up the garlic and add that to the sausages, stirring around.

Add the potatoes to the pan, then add enough boiling water to just cover. Add the thyme. Stir all around a bit, then put the lid on, turn the heat down, and leave it to bubble gently for 30 minutes.

Take the pack of cooked beetroot, open it, pour any spare beetroot juice into the pan, chop the beetroot roughly into big chunks and add it to the pan. Wash the mint leaves then tear them up roughly and throw them into the pan too. Stir all around (some of the sausages might break, don't worry), turn the heat up a bit, and let this all bubble for another 15 minutes. Add a bit of black pepper if you like.

By the end the potatoes should be very soft and starting to thicken the mixture up a bit - they should pretty much collapse when you prod them with your serving spoon. Dish it up.

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Lime palak paneer

A semi-improvised and non-traditional spinach+paneer curry that came out particularly well - the lime flavour zings the top of it nicely. Makes 2 big portions; takes about 20 minutes.

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion (finely diced)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 3 cloves garlic (sliced)
  • 390g pack/can chopped tomatoes
  • 227g pack of paneer
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 a lime
  • 50g to 100g Spinach leaves (washed)
  • Bunch of alfalfa (optional - or coriander leaves if you're being more traditional)

In a good-sized wok, heat up some oil and add the cumin seeds. Swirl them around and then add the onion and coriander. Let this fry for 2 or 3 minutes (while you chop the garlic maybe) then add the garlic and mix it all around. Let this fry for 2 or 3 minutes more until the onion is nice and soft and then add the chopped tomatoes. Give this a stir then let it simmer gently for 5 minutes or so while you do the next bit.

Heat about 2mm of oil in a frying pan. Chop the paneer into bite-sized cubes. Put the flour and 2 tbsp garam on a plate, then toss the paneer around in it to coat. Then fry the paneer in the hot pan, giving it maybe 2 or 3 minutes before turning it all over and giving it 2 or 3 minutes more. It should fry to a nutty sort of brown colour.

While the paneer is frying, add the juice and zest of the 1/2 lime to the tomato mixture. Tip the paneer onto a plate with a piece of kitchen roll on (to drain some of the oil off). Pile the spinach into the wok - you'll need to add a large volume, cos it shrinks as it cooks - and stir it in, then add the paneer and stir that in too. Let it cook together for a minute or so.

Serve it all with the 1 tsp garam sprinkled over at the last minute, with some alfalfa on top, and warm chapatis.

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Oriental basa

This is a fairly straightforward mixture of oriental flavours which complements a nice piece of fish really well. Serves two.

  • 1 or 2 fillets of basa (depending how hungry you are)
  • 1 small handful plain flour
  • 2 blocks dried noodles
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 big handful lettuce (long stalky lettuce if you have it, or something oriental like bok choi)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

Spread the flour out on a plate and generously salt+pepper it. Then coat the fish fillet in it, and leave it there for now. Wash the lettuce.

Get a boiling pan of water and cook the noodles until just done (3 or 4 minutes). While that's happening, warm up a wok or frying pan to a hot heat with a dab of oil, and also warm up a frying pan to medium-hot with a good covering of oil.

Drain the noodles in a sieve. Let them dry off while you slice the garlic and stir-fry it in the wok for a minute of two. Then add the noodles and mix it in, still stir frying.

Chop the lettuce up, and put the tougher stalkier half of the bits in the wok. Stir. Chop the lime in two and squeeze one half into the wok. Stir fry briefly then take it off the heat while you fry the fish.

Put the fish fillets gently into the other pan and fry them for 3 or 4 minutes either side. While waiting for the fish to finish, spoon the noodles onto two plates as well as the lettuce. Sprinkle a little soy sauce over.

When the fish is done, drain it on some kitchen roll briefly before putting it on the plates. Then squeeze the remaining lime over everything.

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Honey and ginger cheesecake

Cheesecake photo

Philippa is pretty darn good at cheesecake, and this is one of the best - I suggested the honey and ginger combination and she used it to make a fab cheesecake (based originally on her mum's recipe I think). It was semi-improvised so this recipe is a reconstruction...

It uses quark which I hadn't really heard of until recently, but it's the secret to amazing germanic-style cheesecake. It's a bit like cream cheese but it's not. Make a fab cheesecake!

  • 9 ginger biscuits (ours were low-fat)
  • 5-6 tbsp margarine (approx)
  • 2 eggs
  • 500g quark
  • "Some" sugar (about 1/3 the volume of the quark)
  • "Some" ground almonds (about 1/6 the volume of the quark)
  • 2 big tsp honey
  • 4 tsp powdered ginger

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line a baking tin (7" diameter maybe) with greaseproof paper.

Bash the ginger biscuits up into dust (e.g. put them in a bag and hit them with a rolling pin). Melt the margarine in a pan and mix the crushed biscuits into it, then put the mixture into the lined baking tin. Spread it around to make a smooth even base and press it down - the aim is to make the base layer for the cheesecake.

Bake this base in the preheated oven for 5-10 minutes while mixing the other ingredients up:

Beat the eggs briefly. (Or if you have the patience, separate the eggs and beat just the whites, before adding the yolks back.)

Add the quark, sugar, almonds, honey and ginger to the quark. Mix it all together. Take the tin out of the oven, pour the mixture on top, and return it to the oven to bake for about 50-60 minutes. When it's ready it will brown a little on top and won't wobble much when you nudge it. Take it out and let it cool completely before serving.

Nutritional information

I worked out these estimates, just to see if this counts as a relatively 'healthy' cheesecake:

1 slice (out of about 10 slices per cake) contains about 8.4g fat (of which 1.6g saturates, 4g monounsturates, 2.3g polyunsaturates), 24.9g carb, 657 kJ (157 kcal) energy, 0.2g salt, 0.8g fibre.

Percentagewise by weight this is roughly 9.8% fat (1.9% saturates, 4.8% monounsaturates, 2.7% polyunsaturates).

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Plum ketchup

Plum ketchup is a great autumn recipe. I'm publishing it now (spring) cos I made up a big batch of plum ketchup to make christmas presents this year - and I think it went down pretty well... I think it's well nice, at least! Goes especially well on sausages or fish.

  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf (optional... we didn't have any)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon or 2cm cinnamon stick
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped coarsely
  • 8 plums, chopped coarsely (without stones)
  • 2 medium white onions
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste

Put tomatoes, plums and onions in a large saucepan with the spices. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 45 minutes or until the onion is soft. (Don't be tempted to add water, the fruit+veg will start to produce enough liquid after a few minutes.)

Cool the mixture for 10 minutes, then blend or process it until smooth. (Some would remove the spices before blending but I don't.) Then strain through a sieve back into the pan.

Add remaining ingredients, stir over a gentle heat (do not boil) until the sugar dissolves. Simmer uncovered until the mixture thickens to the right consistency (about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally).

Pour the hot ketchup into hot sterilised bottles or jars, and seal while hot.

(This is based on a standard tomato ketchup recipe, but with half the tomatoes replaced by plums, and some cinnamon added to complement the plum flavour.)

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Mackerel supper

The shop had some nice-looking mackerel fillets on offer today so here's how I cooked it - and it was blimmin nice! The combination was deliberately made with the vinegar and onion to balance against the oily mackerel and that worked just great. Serves 2, takes 10 minutes.

  • 2 mackerel fillets
  • 1 red onion and half a white onion (or whatever combination you have handy)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Lemon zest, not much, 1/2 tsp maybe
  • Cous cous
  • 1 tomato

Turn the grill on to a medium setting, and put a frying pan on a medium heat.

Chop the onion and start it frying in a good slug of olive oil in the pan. Let it soften while you put the makerel fillets and the tomato (chopped in half) onto some greased foil and then under the grill. The mackerel takes about 10 minutes - put it skin-side down at first then turn it half-way through.

Meanwhile, once the onions have softened a bit, add the vinegar, stir, and turn the heat down to very low so the onions can stew gently.

Mix the lemon zest into the cous cous in a bowl, add boiling water to cover, and put a lid on. Let it stand for about five minutes until everything's just about ready. Then stir the cous cous with a fork before serving it all up.

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Quick sardine salad

This is an easy quick salad for one:

  • Handful of spinach
  • Tin of skinless+boneless sardines
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • Some pickled onions
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Easy tom-yum fish and lime soup

I was challenged this evening with two ingredients: a stick of lemongrass and a box of pollack (white fish). So I've never tried it before, but it turns out that a tom-yum style soup is actually quite easy. I didn't have all the posh ingredients that I should have done (e.g. fish sauce) but we do have a bag of lime leaves in the cupboard, and the lime leaves give a really nice flavour.

It's a one-pot meal if you stick some noodles in the pot as well - here's what I did (serves 2):

  • About 500ml hot water
  • 1 stick of lemongrass
  • 6 lime leaves
  • 1 flat tsp chilli flakes (not a heaped teaspoon!)
  • Root ginger, approx 3 cm2
  • 2 heaped tsp sugar
  • A box of pollack fillet (mine was 280g)
  • A handful of button mushrooms (about 8)
  • Dried noodles (not lots: enough to serve 1)

(By the way - if you're not into hot flavours, reduce the amounts of the chilli and the ginger.)

Finely chop the ginger. Bash the lemongrass up and down with the butt of your chopping-knife. This helps release the flavour.

Put the water in a pan and bring it to the boil. Put in the lemongrass, lime leaves, chilli flakes, ginger and sugar, then turn the heat right down and let the mixture sit warming gently for 10 minutes to infuse.

Meanwhile, wash the button mushrooms, and chop the pollack into big bite-size pieces. Add the pollack to the pan, and turn up the heat. (When you add the fish it cools everything down, so you need to bring it back up a bit.) Add the mushrooms too, and when the water's bubbling again, turn the heat back down to a low setting.

Put the noodles into the broth (push them to the bottom so they'll soak nicely). Now let everything cook gently for about 6 or 7 minutes.

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I haven't had kedgeree for ages, but somehow it felt like the right thing for a hot summer evening's teatime yesterday. This was partly based on memories of my mum's kedgeree and partly on some online recipes. Serves 3 or 4 people.

  • 1/2 an onion
  • 2 heaped tsp curry powder
  • white rice (3 cupfuls maybe)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 smoked mackerel fillets

In a pan, heat up some oil. Chop the onion up and add it to the pan, with the curry powder. Fry the onion gently until softened, then pile the rice on top. Stir it all around, then add boiling water to come about half a centimetre above the top of the rice. Bring to the boil, stir once, then put the lid on and turn the heat right down. You'll be leaving this for about 25 minutes to cook gently, adding the frozen peas in the last five minutes so that they warm up.

In the meantime, hard-boil the eggs. (I put them in a pan of boiling water, took them off the heat, left them for 12 minutes to cook, then plunged them into cold water to stop them cooking.) Give them time to cool down a bit.

Break the mackerel into flakes, trying to pick out any noticeable bones as you do so.

When the rice+onions+peas is done, stir it with a fork to fluff the rice up. Peel and quarter the eggs, then gently mix the mackerel and eggs into the mixture.

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Ormskirk Gingerbreads

In York I bought a really good book about Northern English food - From Eccles Cake to Hawkshead Wig: A Celebration of Northern Food - and read about "Ormskirk gingerbread". Never heard of it before (nor been to Ormskirk) but it sounded like a good recipe so I made some for the dorks at dorksnow and they went down very well.

By the way, I added brazil nuts to the recipe, which is totally and utterly non-traditional but I fancied it. You can include them or leave them out - I've done both ways, both are good, but I recommend adding the brazil nuts.

  • 500g plain flour
  • 200g dark brown soft sugar
  • 200g margarine
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 4-6 tsp ginger (powder)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (powder)
  • 100g brazil nuts, finely chopped

Cream the marge and sugar together with a fork. Add the golden syrup too.

Sift the flour and ginger and cinnamon in. Be generous with the ginger, and stingy with the cinnamon - you don't want the cinnamon to be noticeable.

Also add the brazil nuts. It's OK if there are some larger bits of brazil nut, that adds to the texture.

Mix it all together well, then shape with your hands into flat rounds, say roughly about 1cm thick and 6cm across.

Lay them out on a floured baking tray and bake at 170ºC for 25 or 30 minutes, until they just turn a baked colour. They'll burn easily so don't overdo them. Apparently a "falling heat" is a good way of doing them: I tried both ways, a constant temperature the whole time, or turning the oven off halfway through, didn't notice much difference.

Put them on a wire rack to cool. (This stage is important cos that's when they firm up and get that nice crunchy texture on the outside, while still being cakey in the centre.)

This made 18 nice big biscuits when I did it.

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Sticky toffee pudding

I was searching around for a decent sticky toffee pudding recipe to add to the Wikibooks UK Cookbook. Ended up making this recipe today, based on recipes I read online. It was dead nice.

Sticky toffee pudding

Note: Finely chopping the dates helps make a really gooey cake - but some people prefer to chop the dates roughly, so that they're more obvious in the finished pudding.

For the cake

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 100g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 large or 3 medium eggs
  • 250g dates (without stones), finely chopped
  • 300ml water
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

For the toffee sauce

  • 400 ml whipping cream
  • 2/3 cups dark, soft brown sugar (e.g. muscovado)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 375g unsalted butter


  • Preheat oven to 180ºC/360ºF.
  • Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla. You can do this by beating it in a bowl with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes, taking care to break up the crystals and smooth the mixture out as much as possible. Or do it using an electric blender if you prefer.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating in after you've added each egg.
  • Fold in the flour.
  • Now, bring the water to the boil and add the dates. Add the bicarb and immediately take the pan off the heat. Let it cool slightly, then add to the mixture.
  • Pour the mixture into a greased cake-tin (make sure you use one with enough room for the cake to rise!).
  • Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and set aside to cool a little while you make the sauce.
  • To make the sauce, mix the four ingredients in a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring often to make sure that the mixture doesn't separate. Once the mixture looks like a smooth sauce and is nice and warm, it's ready. Don't allow it to bubble.
  • Divide the cake into portions and poke holes all over the top with a skewer or chopstick.
  • Pour the sauce over the top of the cake, making sure it gets in the holes.

Serve with cream, custard, or ice-cream.

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Cabbage, pea and brown ale soup

A couple of days ago I made the Hairy Bakers' brown ale bread. It's pretty nice (but I recommend you only use half as much cheese as they do!).

It's the kind of bread that goes best with a nice light soup so here's what I made, it's nice (serves 2 or 3):

  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cabbage
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup brown ale
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • Some veg oil and marge

Warm up the veg oil and marge in a big pan, while you chop up the onion. Add the onion to the pan and leave it for a few minutes on a low heat, to soften - don't let it brown. Peel and chop the garlic and add that half-way through.

Add the cardamom pod and the fennel seeds to the pan and stir it all around. Rinse and roughly chop the cabbage then add it to the pan. Also add the brown ale and hot water, just enough to almost cover everything.

Bring it to the boil, put the lid on and turn down to a very low heat. Let it bubble for 15-20 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat, add the frozen peas, and stir it all around. The frozen peas will have lowered the temperature enough to be safe for the blender. Put about three-quarters of the mixture into the blender and blend it until nice and smooth (won't take long). Return this all to the pan - so you should have the smooth liquid combined with the remaining lumpy bits - that makes a nice texture.

If necessary, put it back on the heat to warm it up slightly, before serving with brown ale bread and butter.

Brown ale bread

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Gnocchi in rosé wine

I would never make gnocchi myself (tried it once, it took hours and wasn't worth the effort), but you can get packets in the supermarket which take literally 2 minutes to boil so it's really handy. Normally we make them with a tomatoey sauce (like a pasta sauce for example) but here's a nice light summery way to do them. Serves 2 and takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish.

  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 glass rosé wine
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 packet of gnocchi for 2

Warm up some oil in a pan. Slice the onion as finely as you can and add it to the pan. While it fries for 3 or 4 minutes (stir occasionally), chop the tomatoes into dice. Add the tomatoes and the wine to the pan. Once this starts bubbling, let it bubble for a minute or two before turning the heat right down to minimum and putting a lid on. Let it cook gently for about 5 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking prepare the gnocchi according to the pack. When they're ready, drain them and stir them into the sauce. Serve it all with a few salad leaves on the side.

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Asparagus & red onion edgeless quiche

This is really easy to make, given how posh it looks coming out of the oven. Serves 2 or 3 people for lunch. It's a pastry-less quiche which makes it much simpler to do, and a bit healthier too probably.

  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 250g asparagus
  • 3 eggs
  • approx 150 ml milk
  • 2 tsp dried parmesan cheese
  • Butter/marge for greasing/frying
  • dash of salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 180ºC, and grease a metal baking tin of some sort whose edges go up at least one inch. (Or you could use a ceramic pot, probably wise to preheat that in the oven if so.)

Warm some marge/butter up in a pan and gently fry the red onion, with the rosemary sprinkled on top, stirring occasionally. It'll take about 10 minutes to soften nicely, so while that's doing, steam the asparagus: chop it into 3--5cm pieces (use the whole asparagus except for the hard bit right at the base) then put it in a sieve and suspend over boiling water for 5 minutes. Then run some cold water over the asparagus to stop them overcooking, and set to one side.

Whisk up the eggs, milk, salt & pepper, and parmesan cheese, whisking for about 3 or 4 minutes so there's plenty of air in the mixture. Then tip the onions into this mixture, and pour the mixture into your baking tin. Then put the asparagus in/on the top of the mixture, spreading them out in a nice even layer.

Bake at 180ºC for 25 to 30 minutes until it's looking nicely coloured on top. I served it with spinach & tomato salad, plus bread & butter.

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Eastern beetroot soup

More beetroot fun, this time using one of those sealed packs of cooked beetroot rather than raw beetroot (much quicker to cook).

This soup is a delicious thick soup, filling and with a nice warm sweetness from the spices and the beetroot. (The spices are important for the flavour, by the way.) Serves 2 to 4, takes about half an hour but only 10 minutes of work.

  • 1 onion, chopped roughly
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin seed
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 bag (250g) of cooked beetroot
  • Optional: Some plain yoghurt e.g. greek yoghurt

Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a deep saucepan, and start the onion frying. Add the cumin and turmeric. Chop the garlic and add that too, and stir and fry for a few minutes until it all smells softened and pleasant.

Add the uncooked rice and stir it in briefly just to let it catch some of the flavours.

Open the bag of cooked beetroot. Put the liquid into the pan if there is any, and chop up the cooked beetroot and add it to the pan too. Add boiling water to cover the contents by at least a centimetre or so. Stir it around.

Now put it all in a blender and whizz it up. (Or take it off the heat and use a hand-blender.) The rice will still be hard and it will break into small pieces rather than being completely whizzed, but try to get only just to the point where the beetroot and onion pieces are liquidised.

Return to the heat and bring it up to a boil. Then turn the heat down, put a lid half-on and let it bubble gently for about 20 minutes until the rice is cooked.

Turn off the heat, stir in a tablespoon or two of plain yoghurt (optionally) and serve.

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Beetroot as the base for stews

Beetroot is in season so I tried cooking with beetroot this week. (Fresh, I mean, not cooked/pickled.) It's tricky cos it can be rock-hard if you cook it as if it was potato or something. Just now I found a nice trick: you can treat it as if it was onion and use it as the basis of a stew. Frying it in olive oil at the start softens it nicely and flavours it nicely too; then if you make a wine/tomato stew on top of it, the slight acidity of the wine/tomato complements it nicely.

This recipe serves 2 and takes about 40 minutes all included. If you want more protein in it, adding beef (browned first) or chick-peas, after the garlic, would work really well with the flavours.

  • 2 or 3 beetroots
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 or 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large glass red wine
  • Bread and butter, to serve

Warm a deep pan with the olive oil in. Chop the stalks off the beetroot, then peel them (using a knife is probably easier than a peeler, since beetroots are a bit soft). Chop them into thin slices (2mm thick?), then chop the slices into matchsticks. Put these into the pan and allow the beetroot to fry gently for 5 mins or so. In the meantime, peel and slice the garlic, and wash the cauliflower and cut it into big bitesize pieces.

Add the garlic to the pan and stir around. Also add the cauliflower. Let these fry for a minute or two until the garlic has softened. (If adding beef/chickpeas, do it at this point.) Add the chopped tomatoes and enough hot water to cover the cauliflower bits, and bring it to the boil. Add the wine, stir things up, and continue to boil for a minute or so (to let the alcohol boil off the wine).

Put the lid on and let the stew bubble gently for 25-30 minutes. Serve with bread and butter.

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Quick egg lunch

Matt if you're reading, you might want to avert your eyes... the onions might offend.

This was a surprisingly nice and easy lunch just now:

  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 2 slices of bread

In a frying pan or wok, heat a little oil and fry the diced onion on a medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes until starting to soften. Break the egg into the middle of the pan. Break the yolk, but you don't need to stir it all in. Using a spatula, draw the egg/onion into a neat-ish circle towards the middle of your pan (about the same size as your bread!). Sprinkle a little bit of black pepper on top, and turn down the heat a tiny bit. Let this cook for 3 or 4 minutes until the egg is set all the way through. (The onion will caramelise a bit.)

Butter your bread slices and put a layer of spinach leaves on one. When the egg/onion is ready slide it out of the pan, on top of the spinach. Let it sit for a few seconds (to let the steam escape) before putting the other slice on top. Nice sandwich.

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Very quick feta supper

This makes a really delicious supper to have with buttered crusty bread, and it's really easy. Serves 2 or 3 depending how hungry you are.

  • 1 block feta cheese, chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 1 courgette, chopped into 1/2 cm slices
  • 2 large flat mushrooms, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

First things first: after chopping the feta into cubes you must dry it off so it will grill properly. Put the cubes onto a plate with a piece of kitchen paper on, and put another piece of kitchen paper on top.

Turn your grill on to its highest setting so that it can preheat while you do the next bit.

Put the mushroom pieces and courgette slices into a bowl, sprinkle the oil on top and mix everything around to get things covered well. The mushrooms will absorb the oil quite quickly so you won't end up with a very "wet" mixture.

On a baking tray with some tinfoil on, spread the feta and the courgette and the mushroom out fairly evenly. Put all this under the grill, as close to the grill as possible (about an inch away, no more). You won't need to turn the pieces over or anything like that, but watch everything very closely. It'll take about 3 or 4 minutes for the feta cheese to brown nicely on top and for the other things to start to cook.

As soon as the feta is nicely browned on top, serve everything straight away - it'll cool down quickly and it's best when the feta is still melty inside and everything's piping hot.

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Quick tomato and spinach sauce for gnocchi

We buy packets of ready-made "gnocchi" (italian potato dumplings) because they're really quick to cook and they're nice. I made gnocchi from scratch once and it took hours and I got grated potato all over the kitchen. It wasn't pretty. These ready-made ones are really handy to have in the cupboard.

What you need, though, is to know how to make a very quick sauce to go with them. This evening I managed to do this one in pretty much 7 or 8 minutes because we were in a rush - and it's really nice!

These amounts are to serve two.

  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 large handfuls spinach (washed)
  • 2 large teaspoons pesto
  • Olive oil
  • A packet of pre-made gnocchi

Start a large kettle of water boiling; and put a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat.

Rinse the tomatoes and chop them into slices. Put them into the saucepan. They'll immediately start to soften. Put the tsp of sugar on top of them (don't stir yet).

Chop the spinach roughly (it'll take a couple of minutes, giving the tomatoes time to cook) and put it into the saucepan on top of the spinach and tomato. Stir together and leave it to continue cooking.

The packets of gnocchi that we buy take about 2-3 minutes to boil: start them going now, in a separate pan, using the boiling water etc.

Put the pesto into the saucepan with the tomatoes etc. Mix it all together, and turn the heat right down to its lowest setting.

When the gnocchi are ready, drain them. Pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil over them, then mix them in with the sauce, and serve.

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Blueberry yoghurt ice-cream

I got Philippa an ice-cream-making-ball for Christmas, so occasionally we get ice and salt all over the kitchen and try and make some ice cream. Here's a really nice one that we made just this weekend:

  • 300ml/300g (approx) of low-fat yoghurt
  • 2½-3 dessert spoons of sugar
  • 150g (a big handful) blueberries, rinsed

You just need to squish all the ingredients together and then freeze them, in an ice-cream maker or probably it'd work in the freezer - just stir it every 20 minutes or so, and after an hour at most it'll be frozen.

You need to squish the berries so that they burst at least a little bit and so that some of their flavour comes out into the yoghurt. If you really want them squished, the best way is to mash the sugar and the berries together, before adding the yoghurt. But it's nice not to pulverise them completely.

The slightly tart blueberries and the yoghurt make a really nice flavour together.

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Roast ratatouille

Really nice ratatouille is made with the different vegetables done separately, then combined. Here's an easy way to do it, by roasting them so they don't all mush together. This goes really nicely with oven chips and serves 2.

  • Vegetables (I used 1 onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 courgette, and 1/2 a red cabbage) chopped into chunky pieces
  • 5 tbsp + 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 4 or 5 basil leaves

Preheat an oven to very hot - 220 or 230ºC.

Toss the vegetables in the 5 tbsp olive oil, in a big mixing bowl. Sprinkle the balsamic vinegar over and mix around. Spread them onto a baking tray and put in the hot oven for about 20 minutes, until nicely roasted.

Meanwhile, warm up a saucepan (large enough to hold everything) with the 1 tbsp of olive oil. Chop the tomatoes up and add them. Turn the heat down very low and let the tomatoes cook gently for ten minutes (or however long is left before the veg are ready).

Take the vegetables out of the oven and dump them all into the saucepan. Also add the basil leaves. Mix everything around and leave it on the low heat for a couple of minutes while you get the chips out (or whatever else you want).

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Moist carrot, date, and walnut cake

My mum makes the best carrot, date, and walnut cake. It's very soft and moist with a dark sweetness (from the dark sugar) that goes really well with the other flavours - nothing like the flouncy light carrot-cake-with-lemon-icing that seems to be standard. Here's the recipe, based on a recipe in a book but completely changed. It's a very easy recipe. But despite that, I can't make it quite as good as my mum does. More practice needed:

  • 225g (8 oz) dark soft brown sugar
  • 180ml (6 fl oz) vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g (4 oz) self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely grated
  • 50g (2 oz) chopped walnuts
  • A handful (about 6) dates, roughly chopped [optional]

Line an 18cm (7 inch) round cake tin with greased greaseproof paper, and preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas mark 4).

Put the sugar into a mixing bowl and gradually whisk in the oil, then whisk the eggs in one at a time (easier to get them mixed in smoothly that way). Add the flour and cinnamon and stir the mixture well, beating out lumps to make the mixture as smooth as you can. Add the carrots, nuts, and dates, and mix.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes, until the cake is risen and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven, leave to stand in the tin for 3 minutes, then turn out onto a wire tray, peel off the paper and leave to cool.

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Walnut cake - with no eggs

Philippa likes making cake, but we had no eggs, so she found a cake recipe which works without eggs. And, remarkably, it's just like normal cake! Proper cakey consistency and everything, and nice too. Here it is, adapted from the veganfamily website:

  • Dry ingredients:
    • 300g wholemeal flour
    • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    • 100g sugar
    • 1 packet of walnut pieces (200g, or as much as you like...)
  • Wet ingredients:
    • About 1 cup of milk (or enough to mix to a good consistency) (the original recipe used soya milk)
    • About half a cup of sunflower oil
  • The juice of 1 lemon

Mix up all the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and mix well. At the last minute add the lemon juice and pour into a greased cake tin.

Bake at about 190C/380F for at least half an hour, or until a skewer (or a knife) comes out clean.

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Curried beetroot and paneer (indian cheese) - well why not?

Two things I bought from the indian supermarket: some raw beetroot and some paneer (indian cheese) flavoured with cumin. I decided to have them for my lunch, and it turned out rather well.

Lovely meal!

It's like currying anything really: just start off by frying some chopped onion (and some cumin seeds), adding a bit of finely chopped ginger and garlic after a few minutes, then add the main ingredients and some liquid and get currying. I added the paneer first, turning up the heat to get some nice colour on it, and then after a while added the peeled and chopped beetroot at the same time as the boiling water. You need to let this boil vigorously for a while (about half an hour) so that the beetroot softens and the liquid reduces. Serve with rice and/or bread, or as a side dish, and it's very nice.

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Red Onion Tortilla

Tortilla (the spanish omelette, not the mexican bread) can be absolutely gorgeous, and it doesn't require much in the way of ingredients so it's really handy. Because of the potatoes it's really chunky, much more of a meal than your average omelette. The amounts given here serve 3 or 4 and fit nicely into a 12" frying pan when you're making it.

3 or 4 potatoes, washed (but not peeled)
1 red onion
4 eggs
4 tbsp olive oil
A handful of frozen peas

Warm up the olive oil in a frying pan. Slice the potatoes into chunks about 1cm thick and then parboil them - that is, drop them into a pan of boiling water and cook them only for about 5 minutes. While this is happening, chop the onion into thick chunks too, and break the eggs into a bowl and mix them up a bit.

Drain the potatoes in a colander or sieve, and leave them to drain while you gently fry the onion in the frying pan. When the onions have softened (3 or 4 mins?) add the drained potatoes and stir around. Leave these to fry for 3 or 4 more minutes before turning them over. Sprinkle the peas into the pan and get everything evenly spread out. Add some salt and pepper if you like. Turn on the grill to a hot setting.

Pour the eggs into the pan, trying to pour the mixture as evenly as possible. Do not stir at all from this point on! The pan should be on a medium heat as the eggs start to cook at the bottom. Let them cook for about 5 minutes. It's tricky to judge when to stop because you can't check underneath to see if they look done, but you can tell it's OK when the egg mixture starts to look a little bit cakey and set.

Take the pan off the heat and put it under the grill to cook the top (3 or 4 mins). Then turn it out onto a plate. Slice it up to serve, and have it with bread and butter and salad leaves.

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Pan-fried cod with chickpeas and warm tomato salsa

Very nice combination (serves 2, takes less than 20 minutes):

2 pieces cod
1 onion or 3 shallots, sliced
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 small bag of green beans
1 tbsp wine vinegar
1/2 a lime
1 beef tomato, chopped into chunks

Heat some olive oil in a wok or large pan, and also some olive oil in a frying pan. Put the onion/shallot in the wok and stir-fry it for a minute. In the meantime put the cod into the frying pan and let it cook. While it's cooking, do the following:

Add the chickpeas to the onions and stir well. Let them cook for another minute or so before adding the coriander and the green beans and stirring again.

When the cod has cooked for about 5 or 6 minutes drizzle the vinegar and squeeze the lime over. Let it cook for another minute and then take the fish out of the pan. Put the tomato into the pan and stir it around to warm it and absorb some of the vinegar/lime/fish juices - then serve.

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Sausage and bean cassoulet

This is nice and wholesome and filling. "Munchy" said Philippa. Serves 2 hungry people or 3 normal people.

4 or 5 sausages (veggie ones in this case, but meat or veg is fine)
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tin pinto beans
1 tin butterbeans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 cup red wine

Drain and rinse the beans. Preheat the oven to 190C. Start the sausages grilling/frying so they'll get nicely browned.

In the meantime, fry the sliced onion and garlic in some olive oil for a few minutes until softened but not browned. Then add the drained beans and mix things around a bit, just until the contents of the pan have warmed back up.

Add the tomates and the wine and stir it round, and let it start to bubble. Then chop the sausages into bitesize chunks, mix them into the pan, and pour everything into a casserole dish. Cover and bake in the oven for 10 or 15 minutes.

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