Pumpkin & chickpea spread

This makes a great spread for sandwiches or can be used as a dip too. The pumpkin gives it a nice sweetness which works well with the spices. It’s inspired by a pumpkin and roasted coconut dip in my friend Yao’s book “The Yao of Cooking”.

So what do you need?

  • 500g pumpkin flesh
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper corns
  • 4 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 can / 250g cooked chickpeas
  • squeeze of lemon / lime (optional)
  • 2 – 3 spring onions
  • 3 tbsp. sesame seeds

So what do you do?

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees F / 400 C. chop the pumpkin into cubes (about 4- 5 cms) and grind the garlic, spices and salt together with a mortar and pestle. Put the pumpkin on a baking tray and 2 tbsp. of sesame oil, sprinkle over the spice mixture and mix everything together. Put in the oven for 30 – 40 mins until the pumpkin is soft and starting to brown.

Then put the pumpkin along with any spices in the baking tray and the drained chickpeas in a food processor and add the remaining 2 tbsp. of sesame oil and blend together. You can mash them in a bowl if you don’t have a food processor. Check the consistency you may need to add a drizzle of water to loosen the mixture a little but if you plan to use it as a spread then it shouldn’t be sloppy. If you plan to use t as a dip then add a little more water until you get the consistency you want. Taste and add a little more salt if necessary, if you’re using it as a dip then maybe squeeze in a little lemon or lime too. Then dry roast the sesame seeds in a frying pan until they turn golden and chop up the spring onions. Mix most of these into the spread by hand reserving some to garnish the dish with. Spoon into a bowl and garnish with the remaining sesame seeds and onions. Great with pitta bread.



Edible gifts, Preserves



This is pretty easy and great to make when Cauliflower is in season. I’ve adapted this recipe from a great friend who contributed it to a memorial book made for a relative who had died. What a great idea I would love a book of recipes from family and friends to be my memorial.

So what do you need?

  • 2 large cauliflowers (about 1.5 kg of florets)
  • 6 large onions
  • 400g green beans
  • 2 tbsp. crushed sea salt
  • 10 large red chillis (or 2 red peppers)
  • 1.2 litres vinegar about 6 cups (I use a jasmine rice one as it’s easily available here)
  • 3 cups sugar (550-600g)
  • 1 cup (about 120g) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 4-6 tbsp. mustard powder (depending on it’s strength)
  • 2 tbsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp. turmeric

So what do you do?

Start the night before by rinsing the cauliflowers and then chopping the florets into bite-sized (or smaller) chunks, put these in a large bowl and add the onions and beans also chopped into small pieces. Sprinkle with the sea salt and mix together and leave overnight. The salt will draw out excess water from the vegetables.

The next day drain off any liquid and put the vegetables in a large thick bottomed saucepan and add 1 litre of vinegar. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 mins until the cauliflower starts to soften a little, you want it to remain some crunch. Meanwhile chop the chillis or peppers into small pieces and add them to the pan. Then mix all the other (dry) ingredients together in a bowl and add the remaining vinegar (about a cup) and mix into a paste. The mustard I get in Thailand doesn’t seem that hot so I use 6 table spoons I’m sure Colman’s mustard is a lot hotter. Add this to the cauliflower mixture and bring back to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Allow to cool for a while in the pan. Then spoon into sterilized jars. This will make 6 – 8 largish jars of pickle. Like other pickles and chutneys it’s best if you leave it for a couple of weeks for the flavours to mature before eating piccalilli. It keeps well and makes a great gift.



Veggie mains

Vegetarian haggis


Last year a Scottish friend served me vegetarian haggis for the first time when I was in the UK. It was a shop bought one and it was really good so I decided to make one this year for Burns Night and as luck would have it 25th January looks like being the coldest day of the year here in Thailand which adds to the authenticity. Fortunately Felicity Cloake had done most of the leg work in researching how to make ‘The perfect vegetarian haggis’ of course I adapted things a bit from her recipe. This will serve six people.

So what do you need?

  • 100g brown lentils
  • 100g pearl barley
  • 30g butter
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 250g mushrooms (finely chopped)
  • 1 carrot (grated)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 daikon radish (grated) (optional)
  • 1 tbs light (mushroom) soy sauce
  • 1 tbs dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp black pepper corns
  • a pinch of celery salt
  • a little cinnamon, nutmeg and 3 cloves
  • 200ml hot water / veg stock
  • 100g porridge oats

So what do you do?

Start by boiling the lentils and barley for about 20 – 25 minutes until they are cooked but not too soft then drain them. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees C / 350 F. Then melt most of the butter, about 20g, in a frying pan and start frying the onion once they start to soften add the mushrooms and a pinch of celery salt. Fry until most of the moisture from the mushrooms evaporates and they start to brown. Grind the pepper, cinnamon and cloves together with a mortar and pestle. Then add the grated carrot and daikon radish (the radish should be about 1/2 the volume of the carrot) and then add the soy sauces and spices, including a grating of nutmeg. Fry together until the carrot begins to soften. Then add the lentils and barley along with the stock / water and cook for a couple of minutes until about half the liquid evaporates. Turn off the heat and stir in the oats and allow to stand for a few minutes while the oats absorb the moisture from the vegetable mix. Grease an oven proof dish / pudding basin with butter and then spoon in the haggis mix and press it down. Spread any remaining butter over the top and cover with foil and cook for 30 mins. Then remove the foil and cook for another 30 mins. take it out of the oven and allow to stand for 5 mins the run a knife round the edge and turn it out onto a plate. Best served with ‘neepes and tatties’, mashed swede and mashed potatoes.  I substituted mashed carrots and daikon radish for swede, which you can’t get in Thailand. And don’t forget to drink a dram or two of whisky too!


Something fruity, Something sweet

Mincemeat & apple steamed pudding


This is a great way to use up any leftover mincemeat you might have from Christmas, a traditional British winter’s pudding made with butter rather than suet. I adapted this slightly from a recipe of Delia Smith’s. I’ve made this on Christmas day for a lighter Christmas pudding it’s delicious and easy to make. If you don’t have any mincemeat make it with marmalade or any jam of your choice.

So what will you need?

  • 110g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 80g brown sugar
  • 2 free range eggs (beaten)
  • 1 apple
  • 150g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp. mincemeat
  • 2 tbsp. brandy (optional)

So what do you do?

Start by greasing your pudding basins you can either use one large basin (about a liter size) or two 400-500ml basins. I used smaller ones as it saves time steaming and I wanted to give one pudding to a neighbour. Then mix the mincemeat and the brandy together and put it in the bottom of your basin(s). Put a steamer and the stove to heat up with plenty of water in it.

Make the pudding by creaming the butter and sugar together in a bowl and beat it until light and fluffy, then mix in the eggs. Next peel the apple and grate the flesh into the mixture and mix in, then sift in the flour, baking powder and add a pinch of salt and mix everything together. Spoon this into the pudding basin(s) and level it out. Then take a piece of foil larger than the top of your basin and in the centre make a fold overlapping a couple of cms of foil, this will allow the foil to expand when the pudding rises. Then cover the basin with the foil wrapping it down round the sides and then secure it by tying a piece of string around it and then put the pudding in the steamer. Smaller pudding will take 1 1/4 hours to steam and a larger one will take 2 1/2 hours. Once they are done take off the foil, run a knife round between the pudding and the bowl and turn out onto a plate. Best served hot with custard.





Spiced split pea & pumpkin soup


This is an Indian spiced split pea soup with pumpkin to give it some sweetness and body. It’s very hearty and warming for winter.

I chopped a couple of medium-sized red onions and fried them in about 4 – 5 tbsp of coconut oil in a thick bottomed saucepan. Meanwhile in my mortar and pestle I crushed 4 cloves of garlic with a smiler quantity of fresh ginger (peeled) and a tsp of sea salt. To this I added a tsp of the following, corriander seeds, cumin seeds and black pepper corns and crushed them together to make a paste. Once the onion started to soften I added the garlic / spice paste, a couple of curry leaves (optional), a tsp of turmeric and half a tsp of spicy chilli powder. I fried these together until the onions we’re golden and the spices has released their flavours into the oil. I then drained off most of the spice oil to drizzle on the finished soup. I added about 300g of rinsed yellow split peas and 1.5 liters of vegetable stock to the pan and brought it to the boil. To this I added 300g of coconut flesh and then covered the soup and simmered it for almost an hour until the peas were soft. You may need to add some more stock or water at this point you can also check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Then I blended the soup with a hand blender and served it garnished with some plain youghurt (optional you could use coconut cream instead) a drizzle of the spice oil, and some chopped spring onions and corriander leaves. It’s perfect served with naan bread.

Veggie mains



I’ve been meaning to make some veggie meatballs for a while and had saved a recipe from another blog oh my veggies for lentil and mushroom balls. I used the recipe and experimented a bit combining elements from my veggie sausage roll filling and my beetburger recipes. This recipe will make about 18 – 20 beetballs.

In my food processor I finely chopped a medium-sized onion, 250g mushrooms and 4 cloves of garlic. I fried these in some  olive oil with about 1/2 tsp salt,  1/2 tsp of chilli powder (optional use some black pepper if you prefer) and a a tsp of dried (Italian) mixed herbs. Stir occasionally so that they don’t stick. Meanwhile I peeled and grated a raw beetroot and added this to the pan and 1/2 tsp of marmite (yeast extract). The veggies will release liquid and as you don’t want too much liquid fry for a few minutes so that most of the liquid evaporates. Then turn off the heat and a low to cool a little.  Meanwhile I pre-head the oven to 175 degrees C / 350F and rinsed and drained a tin of borlotti beans (you can use kidney beans or lentils if you prefer) and mashed them up a bit, not completely and then added them to the veggies. I added a beaten egg and about 3/4 – 1 cup of quick cook porridge oats and mixed everything together. The oats will absorb the liquid and help bind everything together, the amount you need will vary slightly depending on how moist your veggie mixture is. When the mixture was cool enough to handle I made the beetballs. I scooped up about a tbsp. and rolled it in my hands to make a ball a bit smaller than a gold ball I put the balls on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and then baked them for about 40 – 45 minutes until they were crisp and dry on the outside. Baking them allows them to set and they will hold there shape, if you like you can fry them after they are cooked this will make them ‘juicer’.

While they were cooking I made a simple tomato sauce by frying onion and garlic in olive oil then added some cherry tomatoes and seasoning and cooked some fettuccini to serve with the beetballs. Any leftover beetballs can be fried and eaten in a sandwich, delicious!






Bubble ‘n’ squeak


A great way to use up leftover mashed potato and cabbage. It’s a great comfort food with a soft creamy centre and a crispy outside. Perfect served as part of a fry up with fried eggs etc.

I start by mixing together leftover, cooled, creamy, mashed potato with about half the quantity of cooked drained cabbage. My mash already had chopped spring onions in it too. Then I put a reasonable amount of vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan. Once the oil is hot add a knob of butter (optional) and allow to melt. The bottom of the pan needs to be covered in oil / butter. Then put in the potato mix and spread it out so it’s 2-3 cm thick. You should divide it into rough patties at this stage as this will make it easier to turn.  Fry at a medium to hot heat, after a minute or two turn the patties over trying to scrape up any crispy potato from the frying pan as you do so. Initially the potato may stick a bit but as it cooks it will come together more as long as you don’t leave cooked bits stuck to the pan. Don’t turn it too often otherwise it will fall apart and won’t get a crispy outside. Cook a couple of times on each side until the outside is golden and crispy, you don’t want it burnt but you do want it well done.