Thursday, 30 December 2010

Pasta Salad with Halloumi

As my previous halloumi recipe has been pretty popular, I thought I'd post my recipe for a quick and easy pasta salad with halloumi, which is a loose variation on a Greek salad. I've found that most kids like this dish, as the dressing is mild and sweet.

Of course, if you're vegan you could omit the cheese or replace it with some small pieces of fried firm tofu, or vegan cheese.
  • 150g/6oz dried pasta - I generally use fusilli or conchiglie.
  • ½ a green pepper, diced
  • 8-12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 5cm chunk of cucumber, diced 
  • A handful of olives, sliced
  • ½ a pack of halloumi, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup or puree 
  • Some finely chopped fresh parsley or dried oregano
  • A little black pepper
Cook the pasta.
Meanwhile, bake or fry the halloumi until golden brown.Rinse the pasta under cold water to cool, and drain well.
Make the dressing up and mix well. When the halloumi is cooked, remove from the heat and pour the dressing over the warm cheese to marinate.
Toss the chopped vegetables in with the pasta.
Add the halloumi and dressing, and mix well, to coat the pasta.
Chill until needed.

Alternative: For a more traditional Greek salad flavour, use feta cheese instead of the halloumi, but omit the tomato sauce/puree and the cooking stage.
Use cooked and cooled rice instead of the pasta if preferred.

You can make a nice salad with roasted vegetables instead of raw ones. Use chopped pepper, onion, courgette and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for around 20 minutes. Cool and stir into warm or cold pasta.

Pin It

Monday, 27 December 2010


Bizarrely (or maybe not) when checking my blog stats, I've found that around a third of my page views come from Germany, so I would like to take the opportunity to welcome my German readers. 

I say bizarrely, as I visited Alzenau in Germany, many years ago on a school exchange trip, when I was 14. Although I wasn't vegetarian then, I didn't eat red meat and this was viewed with much suspicion from my host family. When I refused salami and other cold meats at breakfast, they weren't quite sure what to offer me. I seem to remember chewing on rye bread, which is an acquired taste when you're used to British bread. I also remember potato and apple soup and potato pancakes with apple sauce, neither of which I have attempted to recreate back in the UK. I did however see some beautiful schlösser (castles) and enjoyed some very yummy kuchen (cakes) and schokolade (chocolate)!

My parents love Germany and have friends who live there, but they have said that little has changed on the vegetarian front especially when eating out. I would love to return one day to see the sights and travel on efficient and clean public transport, so if anyone lives in Germany or has a German vegetarian food/travel blog, do feel free to leave a comment and a link to your site. Pin It

Monday, 20 December 2010

Wishing you a very veggie Christmas!

I'm beginning to regret singing 'Let it Snow' quite so loudly in the car the other day, as it really is deep and crisp and even outside! Brrr. Never mind though, we're snug and warm at home and our Christmas preparations are almost over. Presents have been bought, the tree is looking pretty with our 'vintage' fairy in pride of place, and the cards have been sent out and are now at the mercy of the Royal Mail. Let's hope they arrive by next Christmas!!!

Food-wise, our vegetarian Christmas dinner is well on its way to being prepared. The nut roast and goat's cheese tarts have been made and frozen, the pudding is ready to be steamed and the hamper gifts have been labelled and wrapped. We'll prepare the vegetables on Christmas eve and then everything will be well and truly ready for the big day.

Miss Ony and Miss Kahonie have elfed themselves (and us), have planned their Christmas day outfits and have been busy making some yummy chocolate truffles as presents for the Grandparents.

Meanwhile, I've had a little time to look into the cost of Christmas for the average UK family. According to the What price website, people spend around £67 to feed and water a family of 4 on Christmas day. Now that sounds a lot to me, but without having to worry about the cost of a turkey and other such stuff, I reckon, we'll spend less than half that on our Christmas fayre and that's including a bottle of Champagne (ok, it was on special offer)!

Merry Yuletide Everyone! Pin It

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Because I'm worth with an edge!

I love Urban Decay make up! I discovered the brand last year after searching for cruelty-free cosmetics online, and was pleasantly surprised at the cost and quality of their products. Not only that, but the packing is eye-catching, original and looks great on your dressing good in fact, that 12 year old Miss Ony, keeps 'borrowing' my make up!

Their products come in an amazing range of long-lasting pigment colours, which are fabulous for the party season and would make a lovely last minute present for a friend (or yourself!)
Their new vegan eye shadow palette includes vibrant teal and silvery-green shadows plus four rich neutrals. It also includes a mini eye pencil and (non-vegan) primer. It costs around £23 and is available online and from selected Boots, House of Fraser and Debenhams stores.

Update: 07/06/12 I am saddened to hear that Urban Decay will no longer be cruelty free, after they decided to sell their products in China. Whilst Urban Decay won't be testing their own products, it is likely that the Chinese policy of animal testing will mean that their products will have to be tested before they are allowed to go on sale. Therefore Urban Decay will no longer be able to use the leaping bunny symbol or claim to be cruelty free.

Update: 06/07/12 I am very happy to hear that Urban Decay have done a U-turn and have decided not to expand into China. Well done everyone who expressed their concerns and well done to Urban Decay for listening to your customers :-)

Images courtesy of Urban Decay.
Pin It

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Pickled Onions/Pickled Cabbage

jars of homemade pickled shallots and red cabbage
I'm busy preparing my homemade Christmas hamper recipes at the moment - this weekend I'm in a bit of a pickle!
  • Pickling onions/shallots and/or red cabbage
  • Salt
  • Pickling vinegar OR malt vinegar plus pickling spices
Peel your onions/shallots or half the cabbage and slice it finely.
Put into a bowl and cover with brine (2-3 tbsp salt in 1 litre of water).
Cover with cling film and leave over night.

Next day, rinse well with cold water, drain and pat dry with kitchen roll or a clean tea-towel.
Pack raw ingredients into sterilised jars (wash jars well and heat in a cool oven for 5-10 minutes) and press down well.
Pour vinegar over until covered.
Top with lids and tighten.
Store in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks or until needed.

Alternatives: For pickled beetroot, cook, cool, peel and slice, and then pack into jars and top with vinegar (omit the salting).
You can pickle almost any vegetable - try cauliflower, gherkins, mushrooms, peppers or a mixture of veg.

Pin It

Friday, 10 December 2010

Talking Turkeys

I love this poem by Benjamin Zephaniah and thought I'd share it with you ...

Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas
Cos' turkeys just wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum.
Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas,
Don't eat it, keep it alive,
It could be yu mate, an not on your plate
Say, Yo! Turkey I'm on your side.
I got lots of friends who are turkeys
An all of dem fear christmas time,
Dey wanna enjoy it, dey say humans destroyed it
An humans are out of dere mind,
Yeah, I got lots of friends who are turkeys
Dey all hav a right to a life,
Not to be caged up an genetically made up
By any farmer an his wife.

Turkeys just wanna play reggae
Turkeys just wanna hip-hop
Can yu imagine a nice young turkey saying,
'I cannot wait for de chop',
Turkeys like getting presents, dey wanna watch christmas TV,
Turkeys hav brains an turkeys feel pain
In many ways like yu an me.

I once knew a turkey called...Turkey
He said "Benji explain to me please,
Who put de turkey in christmas
An what happens to christmas trees?",
I said "I am not too sure turkey
But it's nothing to do wid Christ Mass
Humans get greedy an waste more dan need be
An business men mek loadsa cash'.

Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
Invite dem indoors fe sum greens
Let dem eat cake an let dem partake
In a plate of organic grown beans,
Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
An spare dem de cut of de knife,
Join Turkeys United an dey'll be delighted
An yu will mek new friends 'FOR LIFE'.

By Benjamin Zephaniah

Pin It

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Easy Basic Bread Recipe for the Bread-maker

Here's my basic bread recipe which I adapt as needed (try making it with kids - it's better than playdough!). You can use this recipe to make mini pizzas, garlic dough balls or flat breads.

Makes 1 loaf, 8-10 rolls/mini pizzas, 16-20 dough balls or 2 pizza bases.

  • 1 cup water/milk (or 1 egg made up to 1 cup with water/milk)
  • 3 cups strong bread flour (any combination of white/granary/wholemeal)
  • 1 tbsp olive/vegetable oil/butter
  • 1 tsp fast-action dried yeast or 10g fresh yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Flavourings (optional see below*)
Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl (or bread maker) add the wet ingredients and flavourings.
Mix well until you have a smooth dough (on dough setting in bread maker).
Add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky.
Cover the bowl and allow to rise in a warm place for 30-60 minutes.
Place the dough into a greased loaf tin, or shape into a ball, flatten and place on a greased baking tray (or follow alternative ideas below**).
Allow to rise for a further 30 minutes.
Bake at 200C/Gas 6 for around 20 minutes - or until well-risen and golden.
Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Bread-maker version: Place all of the ingredients in the bread-maker and set to a medium, basic white loaf setting. If making rolls or pizza bases, use the dough setting.

*Flavourings -
Any combination of : 2-4 tbsp chopped sun dried tomatoes/anti pasti/stoned olives, 1 tsp dried herbs/1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, ½ cup grated hard cheese with 1 tsp dried paprika/mustard powder, ½ cup chopped nuts/sunflower seeds/pumpkin seeds, ½ cup chopped dried fruit, ½ cup chocolate chunks/chips, 1 tsp ground cinnamon.

  • For bread rolls - Divide into 8-10 pieces. Place on a greased baking sheet and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Cook for 10-15 minutes.
  • For pizza bases (or mini pizzas) - Divide into 2 (or 8-10 mini) pieces. Flatten into circles on greased baking sheets. Spread with tomato puree and sprinkle with dried herbs. Add toppings (peppers, mushrooms, onion, olives, sweetcorn, pineapple, cheese etc) and bake for 10-15 minutes.
  • For garlic flat bread (or dough balls) - Divide into 4 and flatten on a greased baking sheet (or make 16-20 balls) . Make garlic butter using 50g/2oz softened butter/dairy-free spread mixed with 1 crushed clove of garlic and some chopped parsley. Spread garlic butter over unbaked dough and bake for 10-15 minutes.
Suitable for freezing.

Pin It

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Apple & Pear Chutney

Homemade Apple & Pear Chutney

This sweet and spicy chutney goes well with cold nut roast or Quorn roast, buffet food, cheeses and in sandwiches. It also makes a lovely home made hamper gift.

Fills approx 3 x 250-300ml jars.
  • 350g/12oz cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 350g/12oz under ripe or firm pears, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 100g/4oz raisins
  • 100g/4oz chopped dried dates
  • 500ml/1 pint vinegar (white wine vinegar, malt vinegar or pickling vinegar)
  • 350g/12oz soft brown sugar
  • ½  a finely chopped red chilli or ½ tsp cayenne powder
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • A pinch of mixed spice or cinnamon (optional)
  • Black pepper, to taste 
While peeling and chopping the fruits and onion, warm the vinegar, sugar, salt and spices in a large pan. Stir to help the sugar dissolve.
Add all of the fruits and the chopped onion and mix well.
Bring to the boil and cook, stirring occasionally for around 30-45 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half and the fruits are soft.
If you like a smoother chutney, mash the mixture with a potato masher.
Reduce the heat and simmer for a further 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until you have a fairly thick mixture.
Remove from the heat and spoon carefully into hot, sterilised jars*.
Cover with a waxed disk, or a circle of greaseproof paper and put the lids on.
When cooled slightly, re-tighten the lids.

Label and store in a cool, dark place. Will keep unopened for 3-12 months.

*Sterilise jars by washing in the dishwasher, or by putting clean jars and lids in a cool (110C/Gas ½) oven for 5 minutes.

Alternatives: You could use all apples or all pears if preferred.
Try with other gluts of seasonal fruit if you're feeling brave!

Pin It

Cloned milk and meat is safe?

So, it's official, the meat and milk from cloned animals is safe! Yipee, the world will be a better place and famine will be a thing of the past...or maybe not!

What actually are the benefits of cloning animals, apart from giving bored scientists something to do? They're initially cheaper to produce, I guess, but surely genetically identical animals will be far more prone to being wiped out by diseases like foot & mouth and BSE, which would have a huge economic impact on farmers. I also wonder what other long term costs to nature and the environment may be seen in the future.

It's up to consumers (and non-consumers!) to make sure that the demand for cheap meat does not lead to the mass production of cloned animals. This might well be a case of shutting the proverbial stable door after the horse cow has bolted though, as apparently cloned meat has already been sold in the UK (by 'accident'). Nice to know that the stringent standards of novel food regulation are in place then!

For more information see the Food Standards Agency website. Pin It

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Vegetarian & Vegan Christmas Dinner Menu

Here's my un traditional 5 course vegetarian Christmas dinner menu. I've included a selection of my own family favourites (goat's cheese and cranberry tarts followed by nut roast) plus a few variations for those who want something a little different. 

If you have to oven-share with turkey eaters, these ideas
don't take up too much room in the oven and can be covered with foil if you need to protect them from contamination!

The recipes can all be scaled up or down depending on how many veggies you need to cater for and I have included vegan options when appropriate. All of the recipes can be made in advance and reheated on the day (except the truffles, of course!)...and don't forget the crackers!
Please note that (v) indicates vegan dishes and (vo) indicates those with a vegan option.

Five Course Vegetarian Christmas Dinner Menu

Your choice of Champagne cocktails

Main Courses
Nut Roast (v) , Vegetable and Almond Loaf (v) or Carrot, Parsnip and Nut Loaf (v) served with vegetarian gravy, roast potatoes & parsnips, runner beans and purple sprouting broccoli (sprouts optional!)
Stuffed Butternut Squash with tomato sauce, roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
Aubergine and Feta Bake with roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
Roasted Vegetable & Feta Filo Spiral (vo) with roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables
Champignons et Légumes au Vin (v) with roasted potatoes, parsnips and seasonal vegetables
Chestnut & Vegetable Lattice Bakes (v) with roasted potatoes, parsnips and seasonal vegetables
Rustic Christmas Pies (vo) with roasted potatoes, parsnips and seasonal vegetables

Christmas Pudding (vo) or Mince Pies (vo) served with cream, custard, ice cream or brandy butter.
No-bake Mini Desserts
Ricotta & Amaretti Cake

To Finish
Coffee and...
Chocolate Truffles 
Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles (v) 
Panforte di Siena (v)
Cheese Board and Port

Catering for vegetarians or vegans this Christmas? Here are my top tips:
  • Remember to omit or check for animal fat/suet and animal by-products in stuffing, mincemeat/mince pies, Christmas puddings and gravy
  • Please cook our roast potatoes/parsnips in vegetable oil and not around the meat.
  • Most vegetarians avoid cheese made with rennet e.g. Parmesan, Grana Padano and Gorgonzola.
  • Vegetarians do not eat fish, gelatine or certain food additives, especially E120 (cochineal/carmine). Vegans do not eat any animal products including dairy, eggs and honey.
  • Strict vegetarians and vegans may also appreciate a glass or two of a vegetarian/vegan wine. Most wines are now labelled.
  • If in doubt, or if you really don't care, please ask your veggie guests to bring their own food/drink - we really would rather do that than have to turn down unsuitable offerings!

Find my top tips for a budget-friendly Christmas here.
Find my Boxing Day buffet ideas here.
Find my festive gravy recipes here.

For some more veggie Christmas meal ideas, please take a look at the Vegetarian Society Christmas Menu.

Pin It

Goats Cheese & Cranberry Tarts

I usually make these cheese and cranberry sauce tarts as a starter for our Christmas dinner, as they always go down well with vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. They can be made in advance and chilled or frozen until needed.*

Serves 4 as a starter (1 medium or 2 small tarts per person).
  • 200g/8oz soft goats cheese
  • 1 pack of filo pastry
  • Cranberry sauce
Cut the filo pastry into 10cm squares.
Line 8 sections of a greased muffin tin with 3-4 layers of the pastry, brushing each layer with a little melted butter or vegetable oil.
Put a small teaspoonful of cranberry sauce in the bottom of each pastry case, followed by around an eighth of the cheese.
Bake for 10-15 minutes at 200C/190C Fan/Gas 6/400F, or until the pastry is golden.
Remove from the tin and serve with warm port and cranberry sauce and a side salad.

Port & cranberry sauce
  • 4tbsp cranberry sauce/jelly
  • 4 tbsp port
  • Lime juice to taste, optional
Heat the cranberry sauce/jelly and port together and bring to the boil.
Sieve/strain to remove the cranberry pips and skin (omit this step if using cranberry jelly)
Add a little lime juice to taste, so the sauce is not too sweet.

Alternatives: Use vegetarian Brie, Camembert or other mild-tasting cheese instead of goat's cheese if preferred, or for a vegan alternative, use a vegan 'cheese' or finely sliced and sautéed mushrooms instead of the goat's cheese.
Make the tarts in a bun/fairy cake tin for smaller, buffet-sized tarts - using 8cm squares of filo, or shortcrust or puff pastry.

*Recipe adapted from Rose Elliot's Goats Cheese and Cranberry Parcels

Pin It

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Vegetarian Mincemeat

I'm not usually a big fan of mince pies, as I find them too sweet and too pastry-y. Despite this, I decided to have a go at making my own vegetarian mincemeat last year as I wanted to give some away in home made hampers, and found that it tasted gorgeous (even if I say so myself!).

Makes around 3 jars
  • 350 g/12oz 'normal' dried mixed fruit (currants, raisins, sultanas, peel)
  • 100g/4oz chopped 'posh' dried fruits (any combination of apricots, cranberries, dates, cherries, prunes etc)
  • 200g/8oz peeled, cored and grated apples (cooking or eating are fine)
  • 100g/4oz vegetarian suet or chopped block butter
  • 150g/6oz soft dark brown sugar
  • 50g/2oz chopped nuts (not peanuts or cashews) 
  • Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 4 tbsp brandy or orange liqueur
Put all of the ingredients into a large pan and and stir well.
Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Allow to cool in the pan and then stir well.

Mix in the brandy/liqueur.
Spoon into sterilised jam jars, cover with wax discs and seal the jars.
Store in a cool dark place for upto 3 months. Pin It

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Chickpea Curry/Chana Masala (Vegan)

This very cheap, easy and quick to make recipe is one of my favourite Indian side dishes.
Serve with a vegetable curry, rice, chapatti or naan.

Serves 4 as a side dish.
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 heaped tsp fresh grated ginger plus 2 crushed cloves of garlic (or 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste)
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • ½ green chilli, deseeded and chopped finely (optional)
  • ½ carton (250ml) passata/creamed tomatoes
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained 
Heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. Cook for 1 minute.
Add the onion and cook gently for a couple of minutes.
Add the garlic, ginger, chilli, pepper and turmeric and cook for another minute or so.
Add the passata and drained chickpeas and simmer gently for around 20-30 minutes.
Stir in the garam masala and add some fresh, chopped coriander before serving.

Alternatives: If you don't like chickpeas, you could use any other tinned beans instead.
To make into a main meal, add some fresh chopped spinach, sliced mushrooms and a chopped green pepper before adding the passata. Cook for a few minutes to soften before adding the passata and chickpeas.

Can be frozen, but the chickpeas may go a little mushy when re-heated!

Slow cooker method: Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix well. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Pin It

Friday, 26 November 2010

The new look Vegetarian Society website

In case you haven't seen it yet, I thought I'd give a quick plug for the lovely new-look Vegetarian Society website. The site now has a brand new forum, which is open to members and non-members alike, plus the old favourites such as recipes, news, resources and campaigns. 

They have some really useful information for vegetarian parents/parents-to-be, including fact sheets on raising veggie children, from pregnancy to weaning and beyond. If you have any questions from well-meaning family members/friends/health professionals, just hand them a copy to save yourself the bother of explaining that it is perfectly safe (and in fact, healthy) to raise children on a vegetarian diet!

They also have a whole section just for young veggies, which includes recipes, fun stuff and the option to join 2 kids clubs (Twiggy club for younger kids and Team Veggie for tweens and teens.)

I particularly like the look of this year's Christmas Recipe page, which is full of ideas for very posh looking veggie nosh at recession-beating prices! It certainly makes you wonder how restaurants and pubs have the nerve to charge the same extortionately high prices for their sad and uninspiring vegetarian option, as they do for their meat and fish based meals (fancy a festive bowl of soup and veggie lasagne anyone?)

If you haven't done so already, register on the website and pop a post or two on the forum...I have!

Image courtesy of the Vegetarian Society. Pin It

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Brussels them or hate them?

Evil sprouts!
Being a vegetarian, I have to by default, eat a lot of vegetables. Try as I might though, there are a few vegetables I just can not bring myself to like, no matter how many times I try them. One of those is the Brussels sprout. To me, the sprout is a true abombination of the vegetable kingdom!

To look at, the humble sprout is really quite cute. A tiny baby cabbage, round and perfectly formed with crisp, green layers of tightly packed leaves. But once cooked, it transforms into an evil, foul-tasting nugget of repugnance! Sorry sprout-lovers, but I obviously have superior phenylthiocarbamide receptors to you!

Here's the science bit: Sprouts and other brassicas contain a chemical similar to phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) which only some people can taste. This chemical is also present in some poisonous plants, so it makes sense to be able to taste it and not eat potentially poisonous foliage...that's my excuse anyway!

Want the proof? Here it is: Scientists discover that Neanderthals hated Brussel sprouts. Pin It

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Oh my goodness...chocolate heaven on a plate!

Miss Ony, Miss Kahonie (daughters) and myself had a girly day out shopping today, as hubbie was at the (football) match. After a couple of hours of vigorous shopping, we decided to take a pit stop at Costa Coffee. Unfortunately our favourite cafe was packed, so we crossed the road to check out the previously undiscovered (by us) Caffe Nero.
Miss Ony went for a mint-choc frappe milkshake, Miss Kanohie (being a milk-a-phobe like myself) opted for the Sicilian lemonade, while I chose a regular tea (no milk).

We were feeling decadent, and a bit hungry, so after checking out the decent range of veggie options, we decided to share a slice of White & Dark Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake...OMG!!!  It was delicious...a chocolaty explosion of tongue tinglingly melty flavours!

We went home, feeling satiated in both shopping and food, but I also felt a little bit guilty. Maybe there was gelatine lurking in all that cheesecakey yumminess. I checked on the Caffe Nero website which thankfully confirmed that there were no nasties. 'But hang on, maybe they don't understand what vegetarian means', I thought, so I checked on some non-vegetarian products and saw the heart-warming words "...Contains gelatine, so this product is not suitable for vegetarians" and " Due to the Gorgonzola cheese containing animal rennet, this panini is not suitable for vegetarians".

Yay to Caffe Nero, they do great cakes and they understand what vegetarians (and vegans) eat/don't eat! Sorry Costa Coffee, we now have a new favourite cafe.
Pin It

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Baked Feta Cheese

This is a recipe that I made up after eating several different variations on holiday in Greece. If you don't like the taste of feta, you could try it with a soft goat's cheese instead.
Serve as a starter with a salad and fresh crusty (or pitta) bread, as part of mezze, or as a sauce over pasta.
Serves 2-4 
  • ¼ portion of tomato pasta sauce (whole recipe made with 1 tsp dried oregano rather than the fresh herbs).
  • 1 pack (200g) of feta cheese
  • Hot chilli powder or hot chilli sauce 
Make the sauce up and add a pinch of dried chilli or a dash of chilli sauce to the portion you're using in this recipe. Freeze the rest.
Pour the sauce into a small oven proof dish.
Top with the whole piece of feta and sprinkle with a little more oregano.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C/Gas 6 for around 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is starting to brown.

Alternative: If you don't like tomatoey sauces, try this version instead - Slice an onion and a green pepper thinly and lay on a piece of baking foil. Place the feta on top. Sprinkle with oregano and dried chilli and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap tightly in the foil and bake as above.
You can also bake this on a barbecue.

Pin It

Friday, 19 November 2010

Christmas Nut Roast

I have adapted this nut roast (loaf) recipe from several other recipes I liked but weren't quite right and veganised it, to make sure that all the guests can enjoy it!
The cold roast tastes great with salads and in sandwiches, or you can freeze it.

Serves 6
  • 1 onion, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 75g/3oz fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 150g/6oz ground/chopped mixed nuts, not peanuts
  • 75ml boiled water 
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or fresh mixed herbs/1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • Grated zest of and juice of 1 lemon
  • Ground black pepper
  • 75g/3oz of dried (vegan) packet stuffing, made up, as per pack
Fry the onion and garlic in the oil, until soft, but not brown.
Add the breadcrumbs, nuts and other ingredients (except stuffing) and mix well.
Spoon half the mixture into a greased and lined loaf tin.
Top with the made-up stuffing and finish with the remaining nut roast mixture.
Cover tin with foil (uncover for the last 10 minutes).
Bake for 40-50 mins at 180C/Gas 4.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out and serving.
Serve with all the usual vegetarian Christmas dinner trimmings.

Alternatives: Omit the stuffing and use the nut loaf mixture to make 'sausage' rolls, stuffed flat mushrooms or filo tarts.
Pin It

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Traditional English Christmas Pudding

a traditional Christmas pudding with brandy

Shop-bought Christmas puddings are an oddity to me, tasting neither Christmassy or puddingy! Luckily, I only need taste these manufactured monstrosities very occasionally in unsocial situations. This moist and luscious vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free pudding recipe has been handed down to me through three generations...obviously the original recipe contained suet, so I have adapted it slightly!
I can only hope that my children will pass it onto the next generation. 

Make the pudding at least a two or three weeks (preferably longer) before Christmas and store in a cool, dark cupboard until needed

Serves 8
  • 100g/4oz currants
  • 100g/4oz raisins
  • 100g/4oz sultanas
  • 4 tbsp brandy/rum/sherry
  • 50g/2oz plain flour or GF flour
  • 50g/2oz fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs or GF breadcrumbs
  • 100g/4oz vegetarian suet or softened butter
  • 100g/4oz dark soft brown sugar
  • 2 medium eggs or equivalent egg replacer
  • 2 eating apples, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 lemon or ½ orange, zest and juice
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
Put the dried fruits into a large bowl and soak overnight with the brandy/rum/sherry. 

Add all of the other ingredients and mix together.
Spoon into a greased 1 litre/2 pint Pyrex pudding bowl.
Cover the bowl with a layer of greaseproof paper and a layer of baking foil.
Tie securely with string (around the edge of the bowl).
Steam in a pan half-filled with water (simmer with the lid on) for 3 hours, on a low heat. Top up with water as needed.
Cool and store in a cool dark place.

On Christmas day, reheat the pudding, by steaming for an hour as above, or remove the foil and paper and replace with pierced cling film - microwave on medium-low for around 5-10 minutes, or until piping hot.
Remove foil/paper/film and turn out onto a warm plate.
Make an indent in the top of the pudding, using the back of a spoon. 
Pour some slightly warmed brandy over the top.
Stand well back and light before serving!

Serve with brandy butter, custard, cream or ice cream.

Pin It

Fairy Cakes

I've just found out that we're having a cake sale at work tomorrow, to raise money for Children in Need. I'm going to make a double batch of fail-safe all in one fairy cakes and ice them. Here's the recipe:
  • 100g/4oz softened butter/sunflower spread
  • 100g/4oz caster or granulated sugar
  • 100g/4oz SR flour
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla flavouring
Put all the ingredients in a bowl or food processor, mix together until you have a smooth mixture.
Spoon into a lined bun tin.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C/Gas 4 for 10-15 minutes until golden and firm to the touch.
Cool on a wire rack and ice when cold.


  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp boiling water
  • A few drops of colouring/flavouring (optional)
Mix the icing sugar with a little water at a time until you have a fairly thick but spreadable mixture (a bit like PVA glue!). Add the flavouring/colouring if used and stir well.

Alternative: To make chocolate cakes, swap 2 tbsp of the flour for 2 tbsp of sieved cocoa powder for the cake mixture and swap 1 tbsp icing sugar for 1 tbsp sieved cocoa for the icing mixture.

© Image by Onykahonie Pin It

Monday, 15 November 2010

Tomato & Vegetable Pasta Sauce (Vegan)

This economical and versatile pasta sauce freezes well, so you can make up a big batch (double this recipe), freeze it in portions and pull a tub out of the freezer when needed. Leave the sauce chunky if your kids will eat it, if not, blend after cooking for a 'hidden vegetable' sauce...sneaky!
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 red or orange pepper, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, chopped or sliced 
  • ½ courgette (or a carrot), chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 500 ml carton of passata/creamed tomatoes (or a tin of chopped tomatoes) 
  • Fresh basil or parsley, chopped (or use ½-1 tsp dried herbs)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp sugar
Gently fry the onion, garlic and chopped veg. in 1 tbsp olive oil.
Add the tomato puree and cook for 1 minute.
Add the rest of the ingredients and stir.
Put the lid on the pan and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
Blend if desired.

Alternatives: Add a drained tin of chick peas or other pulses for a more filling sauce.
Use a base for spaghetti bolognese, lasagne or chilli.
Pin It

Saturday, 13 November 2010

The kids party dilemma

We all want our kids to be popular and have lots of friends, but how do you deal with the dreaded McD's party invite from a parent you don't know, when you and your children are vegetarian? Maybe something like this...

Me "Hi, thanks a lot for the invite, my daughter would love to come."
Party Mum "Great, thanks for letting me know, see you there."
Me "Erm...just one small thing I need to mention...she's vegetarian."
Party Mum "Oh" (Silence) "Does she eat chicken?"
Me "No, she doesn't eat any meat." (She's vegetarian!)
Party Mum "They do fish fingers."
Me "Sorry, she doesn't eat fish either!" (Erm, don't you understand the word vegetarian??) "She can have the chips and drink though!" (OK, I know the chips might have been cooked in the same frier as the fish, but I'll turn a blind eye to that, so she can go to her friend's party!)
Party Mum "Oh, OK, see you there."

"Phew" you think, as you put down the phone, but little do you know that the worst is yet to come. On arrival to the party you'll need to brace yourself for the McD's party host whispering "Oh what a shame" and glancing pitifully over her shoulder toward your child, when party mum orders the kids meals and mentions your animal-free request.

Inevitably, on
e or more of the other mums will over-hear and then quiz you on your and your children's dietary habits, which will generally include a random selection of the following questions: Do you eat fish, are you vegan, do you eat eggs, do you drink milk, what do you eat, why are you vegetarian, why don't you let the children decide when they're older, how long have been vegetarian, don't you miss bacon, is your husband vegetarian?

So, my advice is to be prepared and give the following answer to avoid further questioning  "Oh, we forage in the hedgerows for nuts and berries!" OK, maybe it's better to think that one rather than say it out loud, unless you want to avoid further party invites too! Pin It

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Oat and Raisin Traybake

This is another quick and easy recipe. It literally takes 5 minutes to throw the ingredients together. It's nice as a 'home from school' or packed lunch snack for the kids and is much cheaper than the over-priced cereal and flapjack bars you can buy.

Makes 12 bars

  • 100g/4oz butter/sunflower spread
  • 100g/4oz soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup or honey
  • 150g/6oz plain flour
  • 150g/6oz porridge oats
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger or cinnamon
  • 100g/4oz raisins (or use chopped dried apricots, dates, cherries, mixed dried fruit etc.)

Heat the oven to 180C/170C Fan/350F/Gas 4.
Melt the butter, sugar and syrup together in a large heat proof bowl in the microwave (for about 1 minute on a medium setting).
Add the dry ingredients and egg and mix well (it should make quite a firm dough).
Spoon the mixture into a greased 20cm x 15cm baking dish. 
Bake for around 20 minutes, or until it's golden brown and firm to the touch.
Cut into bars while still warm and in the tin.
Turn out of the tin when cool.

Suitable for freezing.

Pin It

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The Marks & Spencer £2 chicken

I was shocked by M&S's recent advertising campaign for their special offer £2 chickens. £2 for a whole chicken, bargain. That's about the same cost as a pack of Quorn mince or an organic butternut squash!

To tell you the truth, I expected more from them. I know they haven't broken any laws or anything, but it worries me that if M&S are going back down the 'cheap meat' route to make a few quid from cash-strapped consumers, we can only expect that the less ethically aware larger supermarkets will follow the trend.

I wanted to know just how concerned M&S are about the welfare of their cheapo chooks, so I visited the M&S website to find out. By reading between the Politically Correct (Plan A) lines, I found out that the slow growing Oakham breed are given a paltry (excuse the pun) 1 metre square of space for every 30kg/66lb of live poultry. Now, maths isn't my strongest subject but that doesn't sound like a lot of room to stretch their redundant wings and their oh-so-tender legs.
I reckon, assuming that the live weight of a mature (ready-to-eat) chicken is 6lb, that's equivalent to 11 chickens per square metre. Cosy!
Don't worry though, they have straw bales to perch on. Pin It

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Roasted Vegetables with Halloumi

All my family like this light meal, which is simple to prepare and contains plenty of '5-a-days'. Fussy kids can easily pick out the bits they don't like, as the vegetables are all in nice big chunks. You could swap the veg. for anything else in season, such as celery, fennel, aubergine etc.
  • 2-3 peppers (red, orange and yellow are sweeter)
  • 1 onion
  • 8-12 mushrooms
  • ¼ butternut squash (peeled) or 1 courgette
  • 2 carrots
  • ½ pack of halloumi cheese
For the dressing
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon/lime juice or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • 1tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Chop/slice all the veg. and place them (except the mushrooms) in a roasting dish.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper and some fennel seeds if you have them.
Roast for approximately 30 mins at 180 C/Gas 4, or until the vegetables are almost cooked.

Turn the vegetables and add the chopped mushrooms and halloumi cheese.
Return to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown.

Meanwhile make up the dressing.
Pour the dressing over the veg. and return to the oven for 5 minutes to heat through and cook the garlic.

Serve with hummus and pitta bread/wrap/flatbread, or mix the roasted vegetable mixture into some cooked rice or pasta.

Alternative: For an Indian version, sprinkle the vegetables with 2 tsp garam masala before cooking. Swap the halloumi for paneer cheese, and omit the dressing. Serve with plain/natural yogurt and chapatti/roti.

Vegan alternative: Add marinated or basil tofu instead of the cheese, or use a vegan cheese.
Pin It

Friday, 5 November 2010

I've made a food discovery...

Frozen butternut squash!
This might not be a revelation to some, but I didn't know it existed until I discovered it lurking in the frozen foods section of Waitrose this week. At £1 for 500g, it's a great price too.

I love butternut squash (which is a fruit, not a vegetable!) but unfortunately, the rest of the family aren't so keen, so I don't buy it that often. Now I have a bag of the stuff in the freezer and can pull out a few chunks anytime I want to. I have some roasting in the oven as I type! Pin It


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...