Monday, 16 October 2017

Vegan Root Vegetable & Lentil Shepherds Pie

I've veganised my carnivore Shepherd's Pie with Hidden Vegetables for #meatlessmonday.

Serves 4-6

1 large carrot
1 large stick of celery
1 large onion
1 large garlic clove
1/4 swede, celeriac, or a couple of medium parsnips
1 tbsp olive oil
125g green lentils
125g red lentils
Heaped tsp Marmite
1 tin chopped tomatoes
500ml just boiled water
1 vegetable stock cube
5 large baking potatoes
Dairy free margarine
Dairy free milk
I tbsp olive oil


Peel and dice all the vegetables.  Sweat the onion, carrot and celery for about 10 minutes with the lid on then add the garlic and remaining root vegetables for another 10 minutes, making sure they don't catch on the bottom of the pan.


After the final 10 minutes or so, add the tomatoes, lentils, marmite, water and stock cube.  Bring to the boil then simmer with a lid on for 30 minutes or until the green lentils and vegetables are tender.  Stir from time to time to make sure the pan is not drying out, adding more boiled water if it is.


Roughly chop the potatoes.  I leave the skins on, but my kids aren't keen on this timesaving approach.  Pour over boiling water and boil for 10 minutes with a little salt until the potatoes are soft.  When soft, drain and mash with the margarine and dairy free milk until you have a spreadable mash.


Pour the lentil & vegetable base into a lasagna dish.  You may with to stir in a few splashes of water if the lentils have made the mix a little dry.  Plop spoonfuls of mash over the mix to cover the surface.  Rough the potato up with a fork or a spoon to help it brown in the oven.  Drizzle over the olive oil and bake for 20 minutes at 200C or until the liquid from the vegetable mix is bubbling up round the sides of the potato.  If not browned to your taste, place the pie under the grill watching it very carefully until it is browned to your taste.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Vegetarian & Vegan Butternut Squash & Lentil Dhansak Curry

Made this dhansak for #meatlessmonday, which I have turned into veganmonday in our house. The kids like curry, providing I can make the vegetables unrecognisable.

Serves 4-6


500g butternut squash (half a medium sized butternut squash)
100g red lentils
1 400g tin tomatoes
1 large onion
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
6 black peppercorns
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
4 green cardamons, seeds only
4 cloves of garlic
2.5cm root ginger
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp hot chilli flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp dried mint

Peel and finely slice the onion.  Fry in the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat until it begins to caramelise.  Add the finely chopped garlic, ginger, and ground spices and stir round for a minute or so.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes, 2 cans of just boiled water, lentils, and the rest of the ingredients.

Simmer for 30 minutes with a lid on, stirring from time to time.  If, at the end of the cooking time, the curry is too runny for your tastes simmer it for 10 minutes with the lid off to reduce it a little.

At home we serve this with basmati rice which has been cooked with a large pinch of cumin seeds and a handful of frozen peas.


Saturday, 7 October 2017

All in One Apple Cake - Dairy Free Version

I stumbled across this recipe earlier in the year, when looking for a rhubarb cake recipe.  I thought I'd try it with apple, and using the all in one approach just to save time.  It seems to work.

2 small eating apples
225 sugar
240ml sunflower oil
240g self raising flour (gluten free self raising can be used instead)
3 eggs
2 tbsp apple juice
1 heaped tsp baking powder
2 tbsp brown sugar
1tsp cinnamon (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Peel the apples, cut into quarters and core.  Place in the food processor with all the other ingredients.  Whizz until you can just see pea sized lumps of apple.

Pour the cake into a greased and lined cake tin.  I use two sandwich tins and make 2 small cakes.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small dry bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the cake. If using 2 sandwich tins mix 1 tbsp brown sugar and 1/2tsp cinnamon, sprinkle over one cake and then do the same with the other.

Bake at 180C for 40 minutes.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Quick & Easy Kale & Squash Laksa Noodle Soup

Many of the laksa recipes I've looked at have a long list of ingredients, this one however doesn't.  And takes under 5 minutes to cook.

Serves a greedy 1

1 nest of rice noodles/vermicelli
2 large kale leaves
A large handful of grated squash (I didn't have any when I made the bowl above!)
1/2 can coconut milk
1 tsp thai curry paste or tom yum paste (NB Shrimp paste free curry paste is available for vegans & vegetarians)
1 low salt vegetable stock cube
Boiling water
Half a small onion
1tbsp fresh or dried mint

Grate the squash and thinly shred the kale.  Pour the coconut into a jug and top up to 500ml with boiling water.  Add the coconut & water to a saucepan with the rice noodles, kale, squash, curry paste, and stock cube.  Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for the cooking time of the noodles.

Quickly, whilst the noodles are cooking, thinly slice the onion and fresh mint if using.  When the noodles are cooked pour into a large bowl and sprinkle with the onion and mint.  Tuck in.


Thursday, 28 September 2017

Food Processor Gluten Free Lemon Drizzle Cake

I'm not a big cake maker.  Historically, my cakes did not rise and were only fit for close family consumption.  But I tried this Lemon Drizzle Cake for the infant school cafe a few years ago and it rose to my amazement, even experimenting with gluten free flour, so I haven't stopped making it since.

It is a Mary Berry recipe which I simply substituted the self raising flour with gluten free self raising flour, and bake in loaf tins rather than as a traybake.

Makes 2 1lb loaves

225g soft butter
225g sugar
zest of 1 lemon
275g gluten free self raising flour
2 level tsp baking powder
4 tbsp milk
4 large free range eggs

Drizzle:
Juice of 1 lemon
80g sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Place the butter, sugar and zest in the food processor and mix until pale and smooth.  If your butter is straight out of the fridge, microwave it for 30 seconds on High, in the processor jug if you can.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until just smooth.  Spoon into 2 lined loaf tins and bake for 40 minutes.  Check it is cooked with a skewer then leave to cool for 5 minutes.

Mix the sugar and lemon juice in a little bowl.  If your lemon is very juicy you may need to add a little more sugar to get the mixture to a syrupy consistency.  On the other hand, if your lemon is not very juicy, try microwaving the mixture for 10 seconds or so to make it runnier and help it go a little further.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Quince Jelly

My elderly aunt got carried away when I visited her last Friday, and picked me loads of quinces from their garden.  I've never seen, left alone cooked a quince before and I'm not sure they were quite ripe, as most quince recipes talk about the flesh turning pink when cooked.  And mine didn't.  Instead I have a beautiful honey/amber jelly with a very citrusy tang.  I now need to work out what to use it with.

1kg quince
1l water
1kg sugar approx
Juice of 1 lemon (if using ripe quince)

When making a jelly, I work on the principle of simmering 500g of fruit with the same amount of water ie 500ml.  So, with the quince, I quartered them and added the fruits, seeds, core, peel and everything to the pan and simmered with a lid on for half an hour until the fruit was soft and pulpy.

Strain the fruit pulp through a jelly bag overnight.  Weigh the drained fruit pulp the next day and add the same volume of water to the pan and simmer again for 20 minutes before straining again for a couple of hours.

When all the fruit juice has drained through, measure the liquid into a pan with a measuring jug and add 500g of sugar for every 500ml of liquid and the lemon juice if using ripe fruit.  Bring to the boil and then leave on a rolling boil for 10 minutes taking care it doesn't boil over.

After 10 minutes check for a set on a chilled plate.  When a spoonful of cold jelly wrinkles when you push your finger through it, it is done.  Take the jelly of the heat.  Jelly does seem to create a scum very easily so pour gently through a sieve  into sterilised jars and seal.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Toffee Apple Cake

Seeing someone posting a picture of an upside down Toffee Apple Cake on Instagram, I had a quick google for an easy recipe and came across this one on The Daily Mail's website from 2015.

Not only was it simple enough (apart from creating the caramel) for the kids to help, but it went down well with everyone. We'll be making this again very soon.


Serves 8

For the caramel
175g (6oz) caster sugar
125ml (4fl oz) water
3 small red-skinned apples (such as Cox’s)
A squeeze of lemon juice

For the cake
175g (6oz) butter
175g (6oz) caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
150g (5½oz) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp ground almonds (we used flaked as I didn't have ground)
Cream, to serve (optional)

Butter a 24cm (9½in) round springform cake tin and line the base with parchment paper. 

For the caramel, melt the sugar and water in a small pan over a low heat. Bring to the boil and bubble over a low heat for a few minutes until a deep golden colour – be careful not to burn it [Mmm. Ours took nearly 10 minutes to turn golden brown]. Quickly remove from the heat and pour it immediately into the base of the cake tin. 

Core and slice the apples and place in a bowl. Add the lemon juice and toss, then arrange in concentric circles in the base of the tin (see finished cake, above).

Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 5. In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar until pale and light. Gradually add the eggs, then sift in the flour and baking powder. Mix together then fold in the ground almonds. Pour the cake mixture over the apples in the tin and spread evenly. Bake for 40-45 minutes until deep golden and springy to the touch and the edges are just coming away from the tin. Allow to cool for just a few minutes on a wire rack, then turn upside down onto a serving plate. (If you leave it any longer the apples will stick to the lining paper.) Serve with cream, if liked [we served it with vanilla ice cream - no complaints there].