Monday, 31 March 2014

Mothering Sunday Lunch

Long time no see! I've been very busy over the last week and a half and I haven't been able to post any recipes, that's not to say I haven't been cooking though, a girl has to eat!

So, without further ado here is what I cooked up for our Mothering Sunday Lunch

Starter: Celeriac Bisque
Main: Mushroom Roast
Side: Cauliflower & Broccoli Mornay

Celeriac Bisque
The soup was as creamy as creamy can be, and was the most easiest soup to make. I followed my theory of the "one" soup recipe, which uses one of each ingredient. You can never go wrong as everything you add is one of something.

 Ingredients: Serves 8-10 as a starter

1 Glug of Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Vitalite
1 Potato, cubed
1 Onion, chopped
1 Garlic clove, chopped
1 Celery stick, chopped
1 Celeriac, cubed
1 Litre Vegetable stock
Salt & Pepper

Add the oil and vitalite to a large saucepan and melt the vitalite over a low heat.

Add all the vegetables and fry over a low heat for about 10 minutes until they start to soften.

Add the vegetable stock and bring everything to a boil, add salt & pepper to taste and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor or blender and puree until silky smooth. Serve with a sprig of flat leaf parsley.

My Dad even remarked that this 'soup' was the best tasting vegetable soup he had ever tried! Now that is high praise indeed.

Mushroom Roast
For the main course and wanted to make a roast (it was Sunday after all) but I wanted to create something a little different than I had previously. I've always found that lentils work well in a roast and they seem to hold the mixture together. I paired green lentils with mushrooms for this particular roast and the flavour was fabulous, rich and earthy. I must admit though, when I make this again I will try using two flax eggs, to see if the mixture is firmer. Not that anything was wrong with the roast but it wasn't the easiest to slice. 

 Ingredients: Serves 6-8
1 Aubergine (about 150g)
1 Tbsp Flax Seeds, ground
3 Tbsp Water
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Onion, finely diced
2 Garlic cloves, minced2 Sprigs rosemary, stalks discarded
10 Sage leaves, shredded
350g Chesnut mushrooms*
2 Tsp Porcini powder
5g Fresh parsley, chopped
½ Tsp Herbamare
1 Tin Green Lentils, rinsed & drained
55g Breadcrumbs
2 Mushrooms, sliced

* I used my food processor to dice the mushrooms

Wrap the aubergine in silver foil and bake in a moderate oven for 40 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside until it is cool enough to handle. Remove the skin and put the flesh into a bowl and mash.

While the aubergine is baking, prepare your flax egg, by mixing the ground flax seeds with the water and set aside to 'gel'. If you want a firmer roast I would use two flax eggs, so you will need to double these two ingredients.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the onions for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.

Add the rosemary and sage and give the mixture a good stir before adding the mushrooms. Saute for another 5 minutes, then add the porcini powder, herbamare and parsley.

Add the lentils to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes, stiring regularly. Add the aubergine and stir to combine and break up any large chunks of aubergine. Add the breadcrumbs and stir through. Finally add the flax egg(s) and give everything one last stir to ensure the mixture is thoroughly combined. 

I find that using a 'loaf tin liner' is the best method for transferring a loaf from the tin to plate, but if you haven't got any then spritz the inside of your tin with a little amount of olive oil.

Line the bottom of the loaf tin with the sliced mushrooms and top with the mushroom & lentil mixture. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before transferring the loaf to a serving plate. The easiest way to do this is by using a loaf tin liner, which easily peals away from the sides of the loaf and then using a spatula transfer the loaf from the lining paper to a plate .

Cauliflower & Broccoli Mornay
I decided to keep the lunch as two courses and rather than make a special pudding I made a side to eat with the roast. I'd made some cashew nut cheese earlier in the week to use in this recipe but you could use any non dairy cheese.

 Ingredients: Serves 8 as a side

1 Cauliflower
1 Head of broccoli
2 Cartons Soy cream (500ml)
1 Onion
3 Heaped Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tsp Garlic granules
1 Tsp Porcini powder
½ Tsp Vegetable bouillon powder
½ Tsp Mustard Powder
85g Homemade cashew cheese


Grease an oven proof dish with a little vitalite.

Thickly slice the cauliflower and broccoli and layer in the oven proof dish. I started with a layer of cauliflower and managed to get three layers of cauliflower and 2 layers of broccoli, but it depends on the size of your vegetables.

Pour the cream into a saucepan and add the rest of the ingredients bar the cashew cheese (or other cheese alternative). Stirring constantly bring the pan to a simmer and then pour over the vegetable layers.

Grate the cashew nut cheese and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 40 minutes, you may need to put silver foil over the top for the last 10 minutes to stop it from burning.

Serve the loaf and mornay with roast potatoes, carrots & parsnips and a scattering of garden peas for colour.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

French Bread Pizza

Did you know that today is French Bread Day?

But did you know today is also the same day as Proposal Day and Kiss your Fiancee Day. So why not propose, kiss your fiancee and serve up French Bread Pizza for dinner?

I made this for my hubby tonight and he said that he prefers this style of pizza to the normal round pizza base style, which I took as a compliment. I must admit it did taste good and the beauty is it doesn't take long to make (if you've already made your french bread of course), so you can have it ready in a jiffy. There's no need to make a tomato sauce for the base, all you need is two store cupboard ingredients.


1 French bread* cut into 4 pieces and each piece halved 
2 Tsp Tomato puree per each piece
1 Tsp Garlic puree per each piece
1 Bunch basil, finely chopped
1 Onion, diced
1 Red pepper, diced
1 Courgette,halved length ways and thinly sliced
200g Vegan cheese (I used Tesco free from-Smoked), grated
4 Mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 Tbsp dried parsley

* There are plenty of recipes out there to make vegan french bread and it really is so easy. I actually use my bread machine to make the dough and then I shape and pop in the oven, simples!


First, place cut side down the bread on a grill pan and grill for about 2-3 minutes until the bread just starts to toast. 

Turn each piece over and squeeze the tomtato and garlic puree onto each piece, mixing them together as you spread it over the cut side of the bread. Scatter over the basil.

Next scatter over the diced onion and red pepper and top with the sliced courgette. Give everything a gentle press down with the palm of your hand.

Top with the grated cheese, sliced mushrooms and a scattering of dried parsley. Place back under the grill and toast until the cheese melts, the mushrooms are cooked and any bread showing is toasted. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Specials Board: Aubergine & Cauliflower Burritos

Do you remember that cooking programme "Ready Steady Cook"? Where a member of the audience used to bring a carrier bag of food and the chef had 30 minutes (I think) to make something from the ingredients. Well, that's what it's like in my kitchen most nights! I open up the fridge and see what 'needs' to be used first. I really should start to plan my meals again, but I like challenging myself to see what I come up with. The majority of times I have managed to create something tasty, thank goodness, but believe me there has been the odd time when my composter has been fed instead!

Today, I'm pleased to say, things worked out well. After opening my fridge there were 3 things that needed using up, half a cauliflower, an aubergine and a packet of ready prepared butternut squash & sweet potato chunks that I had picked up in the mark down section at the local supermarket. Sometimes, when my fridge is bare and I fancy a challenge I go to the mark down section in the local supermarket and buy three items & along with store cupboard ingredients I challenge myself to come up with something tasty for dinner.

It would have been easy to make a curry with these ingredients but where is the challenge in that? So, I decided that the packet of ready prepared butternut squash & sweet potato chunks would be turned into a 'cheese' sauce similar to an earlier recipe I posted here. I would normally serve this with pasta, but the aubergine and cauliflower didn't appeal to me as a pasta dish. After looking through my store cupboard I noticed a packet of tortillas had gone past there "best before" date so that was it, they had to be used. Aubergine & Cauliflower Burritos were born.......

350g sweet potato & butternut squash, cubed
1 Tbsp White miso
30g Nutritional yeast
200ml Almond milk, unsweetened
1 Tsp Marmite
1 Onion, finely diced
250g Mushrooms, chopped
1 Chilli, finely diced
1 Aubergine
240g Cauliflower
215g Spicy refried beans
1 Tsp Smoked paprika
1 Tsp garlic puree
2 Tsp Tomato puree
5 Tortilla's

Boil the butternut squash and sweet potato until soft, drain and place into a blender. Process to a puree and then add the white miso, nutritional yeast, almond milk and marmite and process again to combine everything. You will have a thick 'cheese' sauce. Pour into a saucepan and put to one side.

Saute the onions in a little olive oil until translucent, then add the mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the chilli and cook for another 2 minutes.

Meanwhile add the chopped aubergine to a food processor and pulse until the aubergine is very finely diced. Add to the onion and mushrooms and cook over a low heat for another 5 minutes.

Next place the cauliflower into the food processor and pulse until you have 'cauliflower rice' and add to the pan. Cook for another 3 minutes, stirring regularly to stop the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the refried beans and stir to combine everything evenly.

Add the smoked paprika, garlic and tomato purree and give everything one more stir.

Lay a tortilla onto a flat surface and spoon 2 tablespoons of the mixture down the middle, wrap and place in an oven proof dish. Repeat with the other 4 tortillas until all the mixture has been used.

Gently heat the 'cheese' sauce and pour over the rolled tortillas and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes.

Serve with a few salad leaves and guacamole.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Crumbled Tofu Curry & Cauliflower Rice

I have been meaning to try cooking with frozen tofu for absolutely ages! But having no freezer it has proved difficult until my Mum kindly offered me some space in her freezer - thanks Mum!

Frozen tofu has a completely different texture to tofu bought from the cooler section in supermarkets. It almost resembles a sponge. There is no need to press frozen and defrosted tofu as you can squeeze the liquid out of the frozen tofu just like you would a sponge! It doesn't break up like 'normal' (unfrozen) tofu. When you break it up it kind of looks like a sponge too!

I found that there is no need to marinade the frozen and defrosted tofu as it soaked up the flavours of the other ingredients during the cooking time. So in my book its a win win and something worth buying a freezer for!

I have also frozen the basil tofu so I'm looking forward to creating a recipe with that too, watch this space........

I've also been meaning to try cauliflower rice for some time too and this curry was the perfect opportunity to try it out!

1 Cauliflower
1 Block of tofu, frozen & defrosted
1 Tbsp Groundnut oil
3 Tbsp Soy sauce
Knob of ginger, finely grated
2 Cloves of garlic, finely grated
1½ Tsp curry powder
1½ Tsp Tomato puree
1 Onion, finely diced
1 Aubergine, finely diced (using processor)
8 Cherry tomatoes, quartered165ml Coconut milk 

First, break up the cauliflower into florets and add to a blender, pulse until it resembles rice. Transfer to a microwaveable bowl and set aside.

Squeeze out the liquid from the tofu and crumble into a large bowl. 

Mix the soy sauce with the grated ginger & garlic, curry powder and tomato puree to a thick paste and pour over the crumbled tofu. Fold the crumbled tofu through the paste until all the tofu has been coated.

Saute the onion in the groundnut oil until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.

Chop the aubergine into chunks and tip into your food processor, pulse until you have very fine pieces. Transfer to the pan with the onions and saute for another 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly, add a little water if needed.

Add the tofu mixture to the pan and stir to combine and continue to cook over a medium heat for another 5 minutes. Stir regularly to stop the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Pour over the coconut milk, there is only enough to coat the tofu and thin out the mixture slightly. (I can buy 165ml cans from home & Bargain for 19p, great to stock up on). Cook for another 5 minutes.

Add 4 Tbsp of water to the bowl with the rice cauliflower and microwave on full for 2 minutes, give the bow a shake and microwave for a further 2 minutes.

Serve the crumbled tofu curry atop the cauliflower rice and enjoy!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Sausage Casserole & Colcannon

To celebrate St. Patricks day I put my mind to making a vegan version of the Irish dish Colcannon, which traditionally contains ham or bacon. After a few different trials I decided on this version I'm sharing with you today. The mash was creamy and had some texture thanks to the cabbage. To replace the saltiness that you would get with the traditional meat version I replaced the ham with celery and a little white miso.

To make it different still I managed to pick up a purple savoy cabbage from the farmers market, it almost looked too pretty to cut into! The recipe is very easy to prepare and one that I will come back to time and time again.

I needed something just as tasty to pair with the Colcannon and I decided on sausage casserole. Regular readers know I'm not a massive fan of 'fake meat' but I was pleasantly surprised with this dish. As I hate food waste the casserole I created was based on ingredients that needed using up in my fridge, leeks & tomato passata, but partnered with some fresh herbs from my garden a tasty morsel was born!

I decided to share the recipe with you a few days early in case you want to celebrate St. Patrick's day with these dishes, if you do, I hope you enjoy and happy St Patrick's day!

Ingredients - Serves 4

600g Potatoes
2 Tbsp Vitalite (heaped)
3 Celery sticks, finely diced
½ Red Savoy cabbage, cored & sliced
2 Tsp White miso
Salt & pepper to taste

Sausage Casserole
8 Vegan sausages ( I used Linda McCartney)
3 Leeks, sliced
2 Sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 Tsp Dried thyme
1 Tbsp Flour1 Kallo Mushroom stock cube
500ml Boiling water
250ml Tomato passata

Peel and boil the potatoes until tender, drain and roughly mash. Add the vitalite and mash until smooth. Add salt & pepper to taste.

While the potatoes are cooking fry the celery in a little olive oil for 3-4 minutes, you're looking to cook the celery but still with a bit of bite.

Add the cabbage and stir fry for another 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and celery to the mashed potatoes and stir to combine thoroughly.

Add the white miso to the potato mix and stir to thoroughly combine.

Sausage Casserole
Place the sausages in an oven proof dish and bake for 15 minutes in a moderate oven. You don't want to cook them completely, but give them a little head start. 

While the sausages are in the oven saute the leeks in a little oil for 5 minutes. Add the fresh rosemary, dried thyme and flour, stir to combine thoroughly and saute over a low heat for another minute.

Add the mushroom stock cube to the 500ml boiling water and stir to dissolve. Slowly pour a little at a time over the floured leeks and stir to make a sauce. Add the tomato passata and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the vegan sausage and bake for 20 minutes in a moderate oven.

Serve with the colcannon and a few garden peas.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Shrove Tuesday - The Staffordshire Way

It's Shrove Tuesday - how do you eat yours? Sweet or Savoury? I'm a savoury kinda gal.

We all know that the traditional pancake is made with eggs and while its straight forward to make a pancake without eggs I wanted to do something a little different.

You may or may not know that I am from the County of Staffordshire, and here we are well known for our oatcakes. So to celebrate Shrove Tuesday I replaced the pancakes with oatcakes and Shrove Tuesday - The Staffordshire Way was born.

Oatcakes are 'accidentally' vegan and are very easy to make, but as Shrove Tuesday is a weekday, I thought why not cheat a little. I visited Stone Farmers market on Saturday, which is one of my favourite past times and I bought loads of goodies, including a packet of Foley Oatcakes. My arms were aching from carrying all my bags! Stone is a brilliant farmers market so if you find yourself in the area on the first Saturday of the month, you should go and visit. 

                                                                     Ingredients - Serves 4
12 oatcakes
2 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Tsp Jerk paste
1 Aubergine, diced
1 Red pepper, diced
1 Green pepper, diced
1 Red onion, diced
1 Brown onion, diced
1 Courgette, diced
½ Tsp Herbamare salt
1 Tin tomatoes
1 Tin chickpeas
1 Tsp Paprika
1 Tsp Garlic granules
1 Tsp Cumin
½ Lemon, juice only
Salt & Pepper

First mix the olive oil with the jerk paste in a large bowl. Add the diced vegetables and mix to coat all the veg with the 'jerk oil'.

Spread the coated vegetables onto a tray and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the tin of tomatoes into a large saucepan, add the chickpeas, paprika, garlic granules & cumin and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the roasted vegetables to the saucepan with the lemon juice and stir to combine thoroughly.

Serve the mixture in a bowl and three oatcakes per person, they can wrap them up 'fajita style' themselves.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Welsh Rarebit with a Leek & Thyme Garnish

Happy St David's Day! 
Or should I say 
Dydd Hapus Gŵyl Dewi!

We're celebrating in style today with all things Welsh and you can't beat the classic dish of Welsh Rarebit. When I transferred to a vegan lifestyle, I did think that I would miss cheese but surprisingly I haven't. There are plenty of cheese substitutes out there for you to try and my favourite at the moment is the smoked version of the Tesco free from range.

After making the three 'cheese' cauliflower and broccoli bake I found that a combination of three different cheese substitutes gave a winning combination. This recipe incorporates that winning combination to give a really 'cheesy' taste to this famous dish.

Ingredients - Serves 4-6
1 Tbsp Plain flour
1 Tbsp Vitalite
150ml Vegan Beer
80g Vegan 'Mozerella', grated
1 Tsp Mustard powder
2 Tbsp Nutritional yeast
Pinch Cayenne pepper
Good grind of black pepper
35g Smoked Vegan cheese (I used Tesco free from), grated
2 Tbsp Soft vegan cheese (heaped)
Loaf of bread
2 Leeks
1 Tsp Dried thyme


First, melt the Vitalite in a small saucepan, then sprinkle in the flour. Mix until you have a thick paste and cook over a very low heat for a minute. Slowly add the beer stirring continuously to prevent lumps.

Add the vegan mozzarrella and stir until its melted, add the mustard powder and nutritional yeast and stir until combined. 

Add the black pepper & cayenne pepper and the smoked vegan cheese and stir until the cheese has melted. The mixture will be very very thick, a paste rather than a sauce.

Finally add the soft vegan cheese and stir until melted.

Slice 6 pieces of your bread of choice and place under a grill, toast each side.

Spread the 'cheese' paste onto one side of each slice of bread and return to under the grill. Grill for 3 minutes or until the 'cheese' paste starts to bubble.

Meanwhile fry the leeks in a little olive oil for 2-3 minutes or until soft and starting to brown. Sprinkle over the dried thyme and cook for another minute.

Cut each slice diagonally in half and serve with the leek and thyme garnish on top.