Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Chickpea falafel with Cilantro Dip

A bit of a middle eastern theme this time.

Chickpea falafels

Making this dish could be a quick standby if you want to make a gluten free, vegan appetiser.
having it with some pita bread on a bed of spinach is healthy and filling as well.

No fat hummus

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Leek Risotto

We will make some  leek risotto ]this week. I found it on Pintrest and thought it would be nice for our Monday morning cooking

This one uses seasonal leeks, and is ready in just 30 minutes.
Makes 4
  • 4 Leeks
  • 1 Onion
  • 10 Thyme, fresh sprigs
Canned goods
  • 1 Litre vegetable stock
Pasta & grains
  • 300 g Carnaroli risotto rice
Oils & vinegars
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 knob Butter
  • 100 g Gorgonzola
Beer, wine & spirits
  • 250 ml White wine, dry
  • Ingredient ending

As a salad we will use a mixed green salad dressed with my favourite sauce.
Oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Sowing beans sprouts and cress

The ground is still too cold but if we have a space on the window sill we can start sowing cress and bean sprouts.

I also notice how much the leek has grown, I cut the tops off yesterday for in a soup, I then put the stem in some water. Amazing how much it has grown in one day.

Today we will grow and make a beansprout stir fry with noodles

I am using the sprouting in a bottle technique for the mung beans and sprouting in a colander for the mixed beans

As a starter we made a Five Spice Sweet Potato Soup.
This recipe is extremely simple as it is just chopped up Sweet potatoes boiled in vegetable stock and five spice added for taste. This is a hearty winter soup.

Monday, 22 January 2018


Today we focussed on mushrooms as Paola gave me a kit over Christmas and thought it might be nice to experiment together.  Carmen and June were in charge of this and hope that in the next weeks we can start harvesting our first mushrooms.

 This is what it looked like after 6 days. Not much yet, hopefully a better update next week.

Today I bought mine and made some  mushroom bourguignon and mashed potatoes.

Lovely taste and very easy to make.

We were pleased that the sun came out so had an improntu walk in the garden.
Apple trees are budding first signs of life of the bulbs and chives. 

Friday, 19 January 2018

Mushroom bourguignon

For Christmas I was given a mushroom kit from Taylors so thought I would save it to start with my from Spade to Plate group to experiment with my visiting scholar friends

We will also sprout some mung beans, so that next week we can harvest bean sprouts.

To get us in the mood for a mushroom dish I have chosen a Mushroom and Chestnut bourguignon with mashed potatoes

  • Serves: 4
  • Preparation time: 1 hour


A veggie version of a classic French dish, this still has rich flavours that make for a perfect winter warmer
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, (fan 180°C), Gas Mark 6. Prick the potatoes with a fork and rub them with a little of the butter. Then wrap them in tin foil and pop them in the oven for about 1 hour.
  2. About 40 minutes before the potatoes are ready, start cooking the bourguignon. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf and cook for 4–5 minutes until the vegetables are just beginning to soften.
  3. Next, stir in the garlic and flour and cook for one more minute. Turn the heat up to high, pour in the port or wine (if using), stirring to blend the flour in well, and let it bubble away for 2–3 minutes until thickened.
  4. Then, stir in the stock and tomato puree, followed by the mushrooms and shallots. Bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer for a good 20 minutes until thickened.
  5. Add the chestnuts, season to taste with salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes to heat through.
  6. Once the potatoes feel tender when pierced with a knife, remove them from the oven. Split them open and scrape out their fluffy insides into a medium bowl. Add the remaining butter, chives and nutmey, if using, and eason with salt and pepper, and then mash everything well. Alternatively, you can just serve the potatoes split down the middle.
  7. Spoon the mash onto each serving plate and ladle the bourguignon over. Sprinkle with chopped parsley to serve, if you like.

Monday, 8 January 2018

From spade to plate: 1st in 2018! What to do with my leeks

The leeks this year are not very good, everyone in the allotment has complained about the leek miner fly. I had no leeks in the allotment but had some in one of the raised beds at home.
They have not done very well this year either, so we dug them up and made some vegetarian pasties with them.  We used some of them for a leek and potato soup which we ate with a mini home made 'hovis' bread

Glo mentioned that she felt the cold weather called for some baked apples, As we still had some stored we decided to stuff them with dates, sultanas, cloves, cinnamon and orange juice. They were delicious with a dollop of thick creamy Greek Yoghurt.

Felicia, Glo, Carmen and I had a lovely morning and a tasty warming lunch.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Blueberry cheese cake

This is a no bake cheese cake

vegan whipped cream
the water of 1 tin of chick peas

1/4 tbs cream of tartar
2 spoonfuls of sugar pulsated in powdered sugar (icing sugar)

Simple vegan butter with no special ingredients. If you sterilize your utensils with boiling water first, you prolong the shelf life of the butter - which should be about 7 days (except first time you make it, then it will be around 5 minutes from taking the first bite). You want the aquafaba to be slightly chilled and the oil to be around room temperature when you mix them.
Giver: ½ C
  • 3 tbs (45 ml) aquafaba (yes, it's chickpea water)
  • 1/3 C + 1 tbs (1 dl) coconut oil (I prefer virgin coconut oil but you can taste the coconut. Odourless coconut oil will make it VERY buttery)
  • 1tbs + 1tsp (20 ml) cold pressed rapeseed oil, canola or olive oil or a similar oil that you like the taste of. Or try a blend!
  • 2/3 tsp Apple cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice (or if you have, ⅛ tsp of lactic acid)
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  1. Let the coconut oil melt gently until it's almost all liquid. Remove the pan from the heat and let the rest melt. Add your rapeseed or other preferred oil. Let the oil mixture cool to room temperature.
  2. Pour the (just under room temperature cold) aquafaba in a narrow container with the salt and vinegar. Start blending it with an immersion blender/stick blender.
  3. With the blender running, slowly pour the oils in, all while making sure all oil thoroughly incorporated before you add more. It should take a couple of minutes to add all the oil and achieve a thick mayo like consistancy. (If you live in a hot area I suggest you place the container on a bag of frozen peas when pouring in the oil, to help the process along)
  4. IF you taste test it, know that it will taste pretty salty and tangy. This will be numbed a bit when it has chilled and remember, that you normally eat butter WITH something and not on it's own (right?) so it will be easier to make final judgements when spreading it on toast...mmm...
  5. Pour it in a suitable container - DO NOT COVER IT - and put it in the fridge (or maybe a short while in freezer if you're in a hurry). It will take some hours for the butter to solidify, I recommend leaving it one night in the fridge.

    Store it in the fridge, especially if you live in a hot area. Depending on what blend of oils you used (unrefined coconut is softer then the refined one) you should be able to spread it directly from the fridge. Leave it on the counter for 15 minutes to make it even softer.
- It is very important to not cover the butter while it solidifies. If you want you can put a clean piece of cloth over it, but do NOT put it in an air tight container (or it might take forever to reach solid, buttery state). Once solid, cover it as much as you like.
Note that when you spread it it will look a little flaky (in the truest sense if the word). Don't worry it will still feel velvety soft while melting on you tounge! And if you wipe it once or twice with your knife while buttering, it will loose the flaky look.
- I prefer to use cold pressed rapeseed oil, since it adds a buttery taste to the butter. But just be aware, that the oils will add flavor to the final butter.
- When taken from the fridge and warming up a bit, the butter might shed some drops of aquafaba. No biggie, It's just, I don't want you to feel awkward - mine does it to. Ignore them or gently remove them with papertowel.
- Using other than an immersion blender - please read FAQ below.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Vegan Mayonnaise -because I ran out of eggs

Today I am planning a big cooking day to get ready for the festive season, so that I don't need to cook all the time and can enjoy time with the family.

I had some puff pastry left from the Camenbert snowflake making, so decided to use it up to make a Mediterranean puff pastry treat, unfortunately it needed mayonnaise and as I don't use that very often forgot to buy it.  Then I noticed that the eggs I had bought yesterday are all needed for other recipes so  to call on my Vegan Mayonnaise recipe. It is fantastic, just don't make the mistake to drizzle in the oil. put all the ingredients in at once and you will find that within 3 seconds the mayo is made.
My own Christmas miracle without an egg in sight.

Monday, 18 December 2017

From Spade to Plate: vegan smoked salmon

This week was the last before Christmas so not many of the usual members were able to make it, but together with Carmen, Jing and Simone we had a lovely morning.

First we made the Camenbert and cranberry snowflake

and a pot of tomato and lentil soup.
Another quick and hearty soup in our soup repertoire.

Liz Thomas’ lentil and tomato soup (4-6)

1 small onion
1 can of tomatoes
2 tbsp oil
4 oz lentils
1 ½ pt vegetable stock
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp yeast extract  (marmite)
Salt and pepper

Chop the onions and sauté until transparent
Add the remaining ingredients, cover and simmer for 30 mins
Adjust seasoning for taste.
When we put the 'snowflake' in the oven we also added one par boiled (in very salty water) carrot to roast in the oven. This was later used to slice very thinly to use into the vegetarian' smoked salmon recipe. I came across is wonderful idea and think it is great for those who are vegetarian/vegan and who love the taste of smoked salmon.

For those who want to have the recipe for vegan butter just click on the link

It looks and tastes very authentic too.

I am grateful for The happy Pear team who came up with this recipe.
Lovely with a slice of lemon and some dill and mustard sauce on a cracker or toast with cream cheese.


Whilst the soup was bubbling away we decided to make some table decorations with greenery given by St John's college. We made them to give to the local retirement home to bring a bit nature into their rooms. We had a lovely time and even had enough to take one home for each of us.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Monday 11th December: From spade to plate: bread share, broccoli soup

We started with the making of the bread balls (that were made the day before to speed up time)
once this was done, we then started making another lot of bread dough, that I will use tomorrow for another breadpiece, in the shape of a wreath.

Last week we used a lot of broccoli to make our raw vegetable christmas tree. Although we ate most of the vegetables, there was a lot of broccoli left. Rather than eating 3 broccoli heads myself, I decided to blanch them and then freeze for a day like today.

The broccoli is used to make this Broccoli and Blue cheese soup.

As a desert we made Monique's apple crumblies.  The apples were picked in Autumn and are now coming out of storage. We switched the sugar and raisins for the same quantity of mincemeat and a grating of orange to give it a Christmas feel.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Christmas nibbles: 3rd December and Easy Peasy soup

Our Spade to plate group is running out of food in the allotment, but we are looking at the other side of this weekly event. The harvesting has been good but the being together, cooking and eating has been lovely. So for now we shall focus on this part until next season when we hope the allotment and garden will once again give us an abundance of lovely organic food.

We made some Easy Peasy Soup as it is a wonderful standby soup, for busy households.

We also made some Christmas nibbles

Food ideas for Christmas nibbles:

tomato, basil and mozzerella kebabs

Brie, veggie bacon and walnut puffs

Mince pies with puff pastry

In addition we made this a veggie Christmas Tree for those of us who want a gluten, dairy, nut free healthy nibble

and some hummus as a base for a dip.

Low fat hummus with yoghurt

What You'll Need

1 15-ounce can of chickpeas (or garbanzo beans, drained; save liquid)
1 to 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Blend all and serve

Hopefully this will get us in Christmas spirit.

Bon Appetite!

Monday, 20 November 2017

From Spade to plate: vegetable soup and thai vegetable curry

Today’s soup was lovely but almost too simple to give the recipe.

Basically we chopped an onion and some ginger, June softened this in some oil.
Then we added the finely chopped, carrots, broccoli (florets as well as stalk) leek, potato and some finely chopped brussels sprouts.
Sweated the vegetables and then added vegetable stock. At the very end we put in a handful of vermicelli.(pasta) boiled it for another couple of minutes et Voila,this tasty soup was it was ready in no time.

The rice was cooked in a rice cooker with some salt this time. Felicia, showed us how to use this as she uses it all the time.

We steamed 2 medium sized butternut squashes (because I thought that would be enough for the 6 of us) you could use sweet potatoes instead. We cut up some brussels sprouts and added a handful of peas. (I suppose you can use any combination, even baby corn, beans etc) 

In a non stick pan we heated oil and added  a good table spoon of yellow curry paste and cooked for a minute to develop the flavour.
When fragrant we added a quarter of a tin of coconut milk and mixed it all through.

Once done, we added the rest of the coconut milk, rinsed out the tin with 2 tbsp of water and added to the pan.
Then we added the butternut squash chunks, brussels and peas and a little salt to taste.
We simmered it for another 10 or so minutes.

Meanwhile we dry roasted a handful of cashew nuts. when toasted, we put most into the coconut mixture, keeping behind a little as topping when we dish up.

We served the curry on a bed of rice and topped with cashew nuts and coriander leaves. MMM!

Very quick and easy but above all. VERY tasty.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

From Spade to Plate: Mung bean vegetable curry with yoghurt coriander and rice

The recipe for the  Mung bean curry: 4 servings

1 cup of mung beans soaked for 6 hours or overnight
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 finely sliced onion
15 gr finely grated ginger
1 tsp tumeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
4-6 minced garlic cloves
1 can of chopped tomatoes
2 carrots sliced into half moons
4 cups of vegetable stock
3 large handfuls of shredded silverbeet/spinach
sea salt to taste

In a large pot heat the oil over a medium high  heat and add the mustard seeds
When the mustard seeds start to pop add the cumin seeds and onion. Saute for a few minutes over a medium heat. When until onions become translucent, add the chilli, tumeric, ginger, garlic and tomatoes.

Continue to saute on gentle heat for another 5 minutes, until the tomato pieces are cooked down. Then mix in the mung beans and carrots. Stir thoroughly so all the spices and flavours coat the ingredients

Next add the stock and bring to boil. then turn down and gently simmer.
At this point you may want to add some salt, try 1/2 a teaspoon.

Cook for 30 minutes with the lid partially on, until the lentils are fully cooked and you have a thick caserole like consistency. You will need to stir consistently so that the beans don't stick to the bottom of the pot.
Once cooked, stir in the beet and simmer for a couple more minutes before turning off.

Serve with basmati rice, a dollop of yoghurt and a fresh salad.

Monday, 6 November 2017

From Spade to Plate: 6th November" What to do with this Marrow

Today we saw the first frost of the year, it started cold but wow what a beautiful morning it became. fresh with a blue sky,  a real treat. Michael and I set up the kitchen for the from Spade to plate session and a little before 11, Lucy and Theo arrived. Lucy got the cheese and flour for the Brasilian cheese balls (*)
she is going to make with us today. Followed by Carmen who surprised us by presenting each member of the group with a lovely notebook for our recipes and new English words.
She had made a fish as well as a bird cage design cover. Delightful. Many thanks Carmen!

Eileen, Lucy and Glo, had a go at making the cheese balls

Whilst June and Carmen made the dough for the lasagne sheet,

You see we still had this Marrow which we wanted to turn into something lovely that could feed 9 people for lunch.

Michael and Felicia turned part of the marrow into a hearty lentil and Zucchini Soup

Rather than using the yellow lentils we used red lentils and the chicken broth was changed for vegetable stock.  The end result was delicious.

We went to the allotment to pick the spinach for the courgette, spinach and ricotta lasagne

Francis turned the pasta dough into lasagna sheets  whilst Michael and Felicia made the white sauce, the spinach and courgette filling to put the dish together. Whilst we ate our soup and cheese bread, the lasagne went into the oven for 20 minutes. The end result, a filling and tasty lunch  shared with a record  number of friends.   Thank you to Lucy, Glo, Carmen, Francis, Eileen, Michael and June it was a lovely morning again.

The pasta dough was rather sticky as we used the full eggs. We should be using:
2 cups of plain flour, 2 egg yolks, pinch of salt, table spoon of oil and a little bit of water if needed.

(*) This is the recipe we used rather than the one mentioned above from the internet

15 mins
25 mins
40 mins
Cuisine: Brazilian
Serves: 60 cheese rolls

·       500g tapioca/cassava flour (in Portuguese: polvilho doce)
·       2 cups milk
·       1/2 cup oil
·       150g grated parmesan cheese
·       3 large eggs (or 4 small/medium)
·       2 teaspoons salt

1.    Combine the milk and oil in a saucepan and bring to boil
2.    Add the tapioca flour and salt to a big bowl and, once the milk mixture boils, pour it over the flour. Mix it with a spoon until it cools so you can use your hands
3.    Then add the eggs, one at a time. You will think they won't mix, since the tapioca flour mixture is so sticky, but hang in there cause they will.
4.    Once the eggs are incorporated, add the cheese, until fully incorporated.
5.    The dough is supposed to be soft and sticky. However, if you're worried it's too liquidy, add some more tapioca flour. Just don't over do it or your cheese bread will be tough and not too gooey.
6.    To shape the balls, wet your hands with cold water and, using a spoon, scoop some of the dough to shape balls that are a little smaller than golf-sized.
7.    Place the balls on a baking sheet and bring it to the oven at 180 C. No need to preheat the oven.
8.    Bake for 25 minutes or until they are golden and puffed.
9.    Serve them warm! :)

To freeze them, shape the balls, place them on the baking sheet and bring to the freezer. Once they are frozen, transfer to a ziplock bag and keep them in the freezer.
Once you're ready to use them, place the balls on a baking sheet and bring it to the oven as usual (again, no need to preheat the oven) and bake the frozen balls for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and puffy.