Saturday, 31 May 2014

Pizza Party Dinner

I LOVE Pizza!

What better way is there to enjoy the delicious taste of the greatest Italian dish ever, than having a pizza party! Invite your friends and family round, provide each of them with a pizza base and have a selection of toppings to choose from. Everyone makes their own pizza exactly how they like it or tries new and exciting flavours.

I tend to provide smaller bases and make a few more pizza's than there are guests, so people can try different tastes, textures and flavour combinations. They don't take long to cook so you can keep them coming! If there is any left over (there won't be) you can have it cold the next day! 

I guarantee you'll have a great time, now if only I had a wood burning pizza oven in my back garden........................

It's easy to make your own pizza dough, all you need is flour, water, yeast & olive oil and if you're fancy a little semolina flour. There are hundreds of recipes out there if you need one.

I'm going to concentrate on the pizza toppings though, that's where all the flavour is!

Pizza sauces
Tomato (obviously) 
Caramelized onion
Sweet Chilli 
Baba Ganoush
Refried beans
A mixture of the above

Pizza toppings
No literally you can put on anything, but my favourite topping combinations are
Spinach, mushroom & garlic
Roasted vegetables
Olives, sweetcorn & peppers
Onion, peppers & mushrooms
Asparagus, peas & broccoli
Sundried tomatoes, artichokes and olives

Added extra's
Fresh spinach
Mixed herbs
Herbs & spices
Flavoured oils

Then there's the decision on 'cheese' or 'no cheese', if you're not using cheese top with fresh spinach or rocket or drizzle your favourite oils over, I like a chilli oil and a basil oil drizzle.

The pizza party's best combinations were:

Classic Pizza
Sauce base: Tomato & Garlic puree
Toppings: Onion, red pepper, mushrooms, 'cheddar style cheese' and mixed herbs

Sweet Chilli Supreme Pizza
Sauce base: Sweet Chilli sauce
Toppings: Fresh diced tomatoes, spring onion, rocket and a vegan 'cream cheese'

Mexican Pizza
Sauce base: Refried beans and Salsa
Toppings: Courgette, sweetcorn and 'cheddar style cheese'

Meditteranean Pizza
Sauce base: Pesto
Toppings: Asparagus, babycorn, garlic stuffed olives and 'cheddar style cheese'

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Vegan Lasagne

Lasagne is a classic Italian dish which is based on meat, eggs and cheese, which is made by stacking layers of pasta, sauce and a meaty filling, so how do you create a vegan version? Easy! This recipe uses tofu and cashew nuts to substitute a ricotta cheese and then added to spinach, which provides a vegan version of a vegetarian spinach and ricotta lasagne.

You could use a ready made tomato sauce, which will cut down on your cooking time but a homemade sauce will taste better and you can control exactly what goes in it. You most probably have your own way of making a tomato sauce but I've included my recipe in case you want to try it.

Its easy to make and will serve 4 people with a large green salad and maybe some homemade garlic bread.

Ingredients - tomato sauce 

1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
150ml Vegan Red wine
1 Tsp Paprika
1 Tsp Garlic powder
1 Tsp Porcini powder
1 Tsp Dried oregano
½ Tsp Dried thyme
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
½ Tsp Sugar
½ Tsp Dried chilli flakes
1 Tbsp Tomato puree
2 Tbsp Fresh basil
Salt & Pepper

Ingredients - lasagne
1 Packet tofu (396g), drained & pressed
30g Cashew nuts, soaked in water for at least 4 hours
100ml Soy Cream
3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1 Tsp Lemon juice
100g Spinach
Salt & Pepper
6 Lasagne sheets
40g Vegan cheese, grated (optional)

Method - tomato sauce
Saute the onion in the olive oil until translucent, add the garlic and saute for another minute.
Add the tinned tomatoes to the pan and stir. Next pour in the wine and give everything another stir. Bring the mixture slowly to a simmer and add the next eight ingredients. Simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly then add the tomato puree and fresh basil. Season to taste and turn off the heat.

Method - lasagne
Add the tofu, cashew nuts and soy cream to a blender and blend to a smooth paste. Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt & pepper and shredded spinach and blend again. 

Pour a third of the tomato sauce into the bottom of an oven dish then top with 3 lasagne sheets. Spread half the tofu mixture on top and repeat so you have two layers of everything. Pour the remaining sauce on top and add the grated vegan cheese, if using.

Bake in a moderate oven for 30-40 minutes

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Pasta with Wild Garlic Pesto

A few weeks ago I had a week off work and I was so looking forward to days out and lots of fun things with hubby and Marco, but no such luck, instead I was struck down with the dreaded lurgie. I had mixed with people who had the lurgie but I seemed to be fighting it off, which I put down to my vegan diet full of fruit and vegetables. But alas it wasn't to be and it seemed as soon as I stopped and started to relax after a very hectic week at work it struck. It was like it was waiting in the wings and waiting for its moment to pounce. 

We had gone out to celebrate my birthday on Good Friday and I was so looking forward to it, but half way through the evening I started to feel a bit sniffly which I put down to the dining room being a little stuffy. My symptoms gradually worsened and by the time I got home all I wanted was my bed. Typical! Absolutely typical! Basically I stayed there for a few days feeling very sorry for myself!

As soon as I started to feel better I needed to make the most of the last couple of days I had off before going back to work so I treated myself to a foraging expedition to find some wild garlic.

There are plenty of health benefits of wild garlic including its antiseptic and antibacterial properties and of course it's free! Remember to forage responsibly and never take all you find. For the recipe you don't need many leaves and flowers.

240g Pasta of your choice
1 small tin of sweetcorn
8 mushrooms chopped
70g Wild garlic leaves
25g Pinenuts
¼ Tsp Herbamare
Good grind of black pepper
A good glug of olive oil

Wash and dry the garlic leaves and shred before putting in a food processor. Gently toast the pinenuts in a frying pan being careful not to burn them and add to the food processor. Add the herbamare and black pepper and a little olive oil to get things started. Turn on the machine and gently pour in more olive oil until you reach your desired consistency.

Cook your pasta as per the cooking instructions. Meanwhile saute the mushrooms in a pan for 5 minutes then add the sweetcorn to warm through.

Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water and add the pasta to the pan. Add the pesto and stir to combine everything. Serve straight away using the flowers as a garnish.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Creamy Asparagus Pasta

As I've stated previously I'm not a massive fan of asparagus but after making my asparagus and garden pea risotto the other day my opinion changed and I wanted to experiment more with this short seasoned vegetable.

On my last visit to Stone Farmers market I picked up two bunches of asparagus, which are grown very locally. Although expensive I treated myself and decided I would make something rather decadent with them.

I treated my Mum to lunch with this dish and I'm pleased to say she absolutely loved it!

Ingredients  - Serves 4 

240g Pasta of choice, I used spirals
2 bunches of asparagus 
(I had 32 stems in all)
250ml Soy cream
½ Onion, finely diced
1 Garlic clove, minced
1 Handful of Greek basil about 6g
2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
3 Tbsp Cashew nuts
Salt & Black pepper

Cook the pasta as per the cooking instructions.

Cut off the tips of the asparagus and reserve, adding them to the last minute of cooking time

Cut the woody bases off the stems and cut the remaining stem in two. Add to a pan of boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and reserve.

Meanwhile add the soy cream, onion and garlic to another pan and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and let stand to cool down.

Transfer the asparagus stems, soy cream mixture and basil to a liquidizer and pulse a few times before adding the Greek basil, nutritional yeast, cashew nuts, salt & black pepper. Pulse again a few times before turning on to full power. Liquidize until you have a smooth and silky sauce.

Drain the pasta and asparagus tips and pour the sauce over the top. Gently mix through and serve straight away.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Specials Board: Kale & Mushroom Pasta

A while back I promised you another kale recipe and after my gardening angel bought me a huge bunch round from her allotment that recipe was created.

The kale was so fresh as she had only just picked it, I ate quite a bit raw, it was so succulent. It would be great in a green salad or like me just to munch on while you think up how your going to use it.

The variety was a non curly leaf and the stems were tender and juicy, I think it was a premier kale.

I needed something quick so I decided on a pasta dish and made a kale and mushroom sauce to weave around the pasta.

Ingredients - Serves 4
250g Pasta, I used tripoline pasta
1 Onion, diced
220g Mushroom, chopped
½ Tsp dried thyme
3 Tsp English mustard
½ Tsp Herbamare
330g Kale, cut into thick ribbons
1 Tbsp Flour (heaped)
300ml Almond milk, unsweetened
1 Tsp Bouillon powder
200ml Boiled water
3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
Good grind of black pepper

Cook the pasta as per the cooking instructions.

Saute the onion until translucent then add the mushrooms and saute for another 4-5 minutes.

Add the thyme, mustard and herbamare and give everything a good stir, before tossing in the ribbons of kale. Keep stirring until the kale has wilted, you may need to add a drop of water to prevent the mixture sticking to the pan.

Add the flour and stir through ensuring all the mixture is coated, it may seem a little thick but don't worry. Cook for a minute to ensure the flour taste is cooked out. Gradually add the almond milk stirring all the time. 

Mix the bouillon powder with the water to make a stock and gradually add to the kale mixture continuing to stir until all the stock has been used. Continue to cook over a low heat until the mixture has thickened.

Add the nutritional yeast and black pepper and give everything one last stir. Drain the pasta and if you're using long pasta ribbons or spaghetti twirl a portion onto each plate then add the 'sauce' around the pasta. If you're using pasta shapes such as penne add the pasta to the pan and stir carefully to mix into the sauce before serving.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Mushroom and Kale Pie

Last bank holiday weekend we had some friends visit us which we hadn't seen for a while, since their wedding last August. We decided to stay in and catch up as it was the first time our dog, Marco had met their dog, Milly. We had nothing to worry about, they got on famously and Marco was even a little love sick after they left! Bless him.

We had a fabulous weekend full of fun and laughter, it was great to catch up and hopefully we won't leave it as long next time!

Earlier in the day my sister and I visited Stone Farmers Market and picked up some goodies for lunch and tea. I headed straight to the mushroom man and bought a large tray of assorted mushrooms to make for dinner. 


1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Leek, sliced
400g assorted mushrooms, wiped and sliced
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
100g Curly kale, shredded
2 Tsp Porcini powder
2 Sprigs fresh rosemary, finely diced
2 Sprigs fresh tyhme, leaves only
1 Tbsp Flour (heaped)
300ml Unsweetened almond milk
320g Ready rolled puff pastry


Saute the leek in the olive oil until tender around 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for another 5 minutes, add the soy sauce.

Add the kale and continue to saute for another 5 minutes before adding the fresh herbs, stir to combine.

Add the flour and stir through, cooking for another minute to loose the flour taste.

Slowly add the almond milk and keep over a low heat stirring until the sauce has thickened.

Transfer to an oven proof dish and top with the ready rolled puff pastry. Bake for 30 minutes in a moderate oven. Serve with home made chips and peas.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Animal Friendly Cook Book

Have you heard of Mino Valley Farm Sanctuary? It is a sanctuary for rescued farm animals where they live out their days in freedom. They are shown love and compassion and are free from pain and suffering.

The owners are originally from the UK but moved to Spain for a simpler life, and after turning vegan opened the first ever sanctuary in Galacia, Northern Spain for abused and abandoned farm animals.

In order to raise money for the fabulous work they do they asked vegan food bloggers across the world to donate recipes for their Animal Friendly Cookbook which includes 101 delicious vegan recipes. I was over the moon when they asked if they could use two of my recipes. I was delighted to be able to help.

This fantastic book is available to purchase here:

Every last cent of the money raised through the sale of the book goes straight to caring for the animals at the sanctuary and provides them with the life they deserve.

Go on treat yourself, you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

May Menu

Hello! It's been a while since I last blogged, but between colds, coughs and spring sniffles and catching up on my gardening, time has been very short!

But I'm back with my menu for May and it has an Italian theme in honour of my two new friends Lenny and Stacy who run the VegItalyGuide and AnyWhereTraveller websites. Watch out for my exclusive BBQ Party menu which I have written especially for them, I'll keep you posted. After all it is BBQ Month!

Without further ado here is the menu for May.....................

May also celebrates some weird and wonderful days, including some yummy food celebrations such as Chocolate Chip day on the 15th, Pizza Party Day on 16th, Pick Strawberry Day on 20th and Macaroon Day on the 31st. There is also a celebration day for us gardeners with Learn About Compost Day on the 29th! 

The best day of the month is today as it's Eat What You Want Day! Yay! So I hope you enjoy a feast today what ever you are doing,and if you'e stuck for dinner ideas why not try; a lentil roast, a casserole, or a pie? Here are a few to choose from.

Spinach & Mushroom Pie
Mushroom Wellington

Sausage Casserole
Lentil & Kale Loaf


Here's to a good month which hopefully will be full of sunshine to help with the vegetable plot and warm enough to get those BBQ's burning. Cheers!