Baking, Something sweet

Healthy chocolate and beetroot cake


This is based on a great recipe from the Green Kitchen Stories blog. It’s a healthy chocolate cake using beetroot, olive oil and honey. It makes a nice moist earthy chocolate cake.

So what do you need?

  • 150ml olive oil
  • 120 ml honey (or maple syrup)
  • 100g plain (70% cocoa) chocolate
  • a pinch of salt
  • 250g grated raw beetroot
  • 125g of sour cream
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 200g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder

For icing (optional)

  • 25g sour cream
  • 50 g chocolate
  • 1 tbsp. honey

So what do you do?

First preheat your oven to 175 degrees C / 350 F. Then in a medium / large saucepan warm the olive oil and honey and break in the chocolate and warm until the chocolate melts. Then add a pinch of salt and the sour cream and mix it in. (The pot of sour cream I bought was 145g so I saved about 25g to make some chocolate icing.) Then add the grated beetroot and mix it into the chocolate. Next sieve the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix them into the chocolate mixture. Grease a 23 cm bunt tin with olive oil and pour the cake mixture in. Chook for about 35 mins. until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To serve either dust withy icing sugar or make a chocolate icing by meting some chocolate in a bowl over some hot water, then mix in sour cream and honey and drizzle / spread it over the cake.



Veggie mains

Beetroot risotto with vodka & goat’s cheese


This makes a beautiful vibrant risotto. The original recipe I used for beetroot risotto was from Dennis Cotter’s ‘The love of food’ I’ve adapted it a bit and today made it with vodka instead of red wine. This will make four servings.

So what do you need?

  • 600g beetroot
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4  tbsp olive oil
  • 75 ml vodka
  • 1.3 liters of vegetable stock
  • 300g risotto rice (I use Japanese short grain rice)
  • 100g fresh goat’s cheese
  • 40g of butter
  • 4 radishes
  • handful of dill
  • salt & pepper

So what do you do?

Start by making a vegetable stock, if you don’t have any. I always make pretty big batches that I can use for a few recipes. Then roast the beets in their skins in the oven at 200 degrees C / 400 F. They will take about 45 mins Allow them to cool and in the meantime .

Peel the beets and liquidize half of them and add these to the stock. Chop the rest into cubes and pop them back in the oven with a little olive oil drizzled on them to caramelize while you cook the risotto.

Now make a dill oil to drizzle on the risotto. In a mortar put about 1 tbsp. of chopped dill and a pinch of salt and crush it add 1 1/2 tbsp. of olive oil and 2 tsp. vodka.

Then pour about 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a wide thick based frying pan and heat it up. Chop the onion and slice the garlic and fry for a few mins until it starts to brown, then lower the heat and add the rice and let this toast for a few mins stirring occasionally until it becomes translucent then add the remaining vodka and stir until evaporated. Meanwhile heat up your stock and add a couple of ladles of stock and cook the risotto stirring regularly. As the rice cooks it will absorbed the stock so add a ladle full at a time and cook for about 20mins. Once the rice seems almost cooked, it should retain a little bite allow it to dry out. Then stir in the butter,  roasted beetroot and a tbsp. of chopped dill and season with salt and pepper.

Divide into four bowls and spoon on the goats cheese , scatter with sliced radishes and drizzle with the dill oil and garnish with some dill leaves and ground black pepper. Serve with a green salad of some steam green beans.

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!





Baking, Snacks

Veggie ‘sausage’ rolls

These were a real hit at our Christmas drinks party this year. The filling is similar to my Beetburger recipe, and they are a bit like mini versions of my beetroot Wellingtion. They tasted pretty meaty and spicy and are much tastier than using a meat substitute.

In a food processor I chopped an onion and a few cloves of garlic finely and then fried them in some olive oil. Then I finely chopped about 250g mushrooms and added them to the frying pan. Next I added a grated large beetroot and seasonings, some salt, a couple slugs of light (mushroom) soy sauce, half a tsp of chilli flakes / powder (mine is pretty spicy) and some herbs I used some dried thyme (sage would work too). Then I added a can of drained kidney beans that I mashed a bit and I fried this until most of the moisture that came out of the veggies cooked off. I allowed this to cool and meanwhile made some breadcrumbs. I used about 4 -5 slices of wholemeal bread and ground these in my food processor and then spread them on a baking try and put them in a low oven, about 150 degrees F / 300 C, for about 20 mins, turning them after 10 mins. This dries the breadcrumbs out which makes the sausage mix firmer. Then I chopped about 100g of cheese (I used Carré but goats cheese or Camembert or grated cheddar would be fine) and added this and the breadcrumbs to the veggie mix and mixed them well. I then chilled the mixture overnight in the fridge so that the breadcrumbs would absob the posture from the veggies. If you want to make them the same day then just chill the mixture for an hour or so.

Next roll out some puff pastry (you will probably need about 600-700g) into strips about 8 cm wide (you can make them bigger if you like but these were for a cocktail party) and put a ‘sausage’ of my mixture in the middle and ‘painted’ one edge with an egg and milk mixture and then rolled them over to seal them. Then I ‘painted’ the top with the egg mixture, pricked the top with a fork and cut them in to rolls. I sprinkled half of the with sesame seeds and put them on baking trays covered with baking parchment . Next I chilled them in the fridge for about 15 mins while I pre-heated the oven to 200 degrees C / 400 F. Then I cooked them in batches for about 15 -20 mins until golden and puffed up. Try not to open the oven while they are cooking. Once they are done cool them on a wire rack and put the next batch in the oven. Best enjoyed warm, but good once cooled too.

Thai Food, Veggie mains

Spicy pumpkin wontons with beetroot purée 

I adapted and simplified a recipe from Pure Vegetarian by Paul Hayer to make a Halloween Devil’s Dinner. It’s good to have anytime and you can make a carrot purée instead if you don’t want the blood look! This recipe will feed 4 people.

Start by tossing 350g of peeled pumpkin flesh in a little oil and some spicies, I crushed together half a tsp of salt, peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds and turmeric powder. Then roast for about 20-25 mins until soft in a hot oven (200 degrees C / 400 F). While this is cooking chop a red onion and fry it add a couple of gloves of crushed garlic and some chopped celery (about 1 stick) and a tsp of Thai red curry paste and a couple of good pinches of salt and fry for a couple of minutes.Then grate about 250g of raw beetroot and add this to the pan and cover with hot water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 mins while the pumpkin cooks.

Once the pumpkin is cooked put its in a bowl and mash it with a fork add a good tsp of Thai red curry paste, a finely chopped spring onion or two and some chopped coriander leaves and mix together. Then take a wonton wrapper and put about a tsp of pumpkin mixture in it and then with a pastry brush wet two sides from one corner then fold the wrapper over into a triangle and seal the edges. Then put your finger in the middle and wrap the longer sides round and seal the ends together. Put it on a floured tray and keep going you will be able to make about 40 wontons. Allow them to dry for a about 20 mins so the joins seal.

Next purée the beetroot mixture and steam some green veggies. Then put about a cup of oil in a wok and fry 8 dry chillis in it so they go crisp, drain them and put them to one side. Then fry your wontons about 10 at a time, truanting them in the oil until they are golden brown. Plate up by putting some greens on the plate then pour on some of the beetroot purée and arrange 6 – 10 wontons on  the plate then add two chilli horns. Enjoy!


Beetroot soup

beet soup

This makes a lovely colourful and healthy soup, a great lunch, starter, or light meal served with some fresh bread. This will make 4-6 portions and can be served hot or chilled.


I started by frying a chopped red onion in olive oil and then I added 3 cloves of crushed garlic and some salt and ground pepper. If you want some extra zing add some crushed, or grated, fresh ginger too about an equal quantity to the garlic. When they were softened I added 800g of grated (peeled) beetroot and 200g of grated radish. I have grown hybrid radishes by accident a cross between small salad radishes a large white daikon radishes, so I used these. They add a peppery sweetness to the soup.

I then added 1 liter of homemade vegetable stock, some chopped dill and a few bay leaves. I brought the soup to the boil and simmered for about 20 mins and allowed to cool a bit before taking out the bay leaves and blending it with a stick blender. You can use a liquidizer but just do a little at a time to avoid it splashing out. I then heated the soup through and tasted it. At this point season to your taste and add more stock if necessary. I served the soup with a dollop of sour cream (you can use yoghurt instead). I added a crushed clove of garlic, some chopped dill and a little salt and freshly grown pepper to a small (150g) pot of sour cream. I served it with onion focaccia bread.

Baking, Veggie mains

Veggie shepherd’s pie

shep pieThis makes a great colourful and wholesome meal with rich earthy flavours from the beetroot and the lentils. If you don’t have / like beetroot add more of the other veg. or substitute it for finely chopped aubergine instead. This recipe will serve four people.

I started by boiling a kilo of potatoes in salted hot water to make the mash. I also separately boiled about a cup (or just under) of brown lentils, both will take 15-20 mins to cook. If you prefer use a tin of pre-cooked lentils.

While they are cooking, in a deep casserole pot (mine is 20 cm diameter) I fried a medium-sized finely chopped onion in some olive oil and then I added a couple of cloves of crushed garlic and a out 200g of finely chopped mushrooms and half a tsp of salt and sautéed this while I chopped a courgette into small cubes and added this to the pot (if you want you can grate it and add it at the next stage). Next I grated a peeled raw beetroot (or a couple if they are small) and a smallish peeled carrot and added them to the pot along with a few chopped porcini mushrooms (optional), a few bay leaves, some ground black pepper, half a teaspoon of marmite (yeast extract), and a splash of water, or red wine if you have some open. This will help bring the juices out of the veg. you shouldn’t need to add too much extra liquid. I then covered the casserole dish and simmered it on a low heat for about 10 mins. stirring occasionally.

At this point you can pre-heat your oven to about 190 degrees C / 375 F. I strained the lentils and added them to the casserole and continued to simmer everything, covered, for a few minutes while I mashed the potatoes with a clove of crushed garlic, some pepper and some milk and butter until they were light and fluffy. Next I mixed a couple of tsp of veggie gravy thickener (or you can use cornflour) with some water and added this to the casserole and heated it through. This will thicken the veggie mixture, you don’t want too much liquid but you do want some gravy. I then spooned the mashed potatoes on top and spread them out, with a fork, to seal the pie. The fork ‘lines’ will make the mash nice and crispy on top when it’s cooked. This can then go in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown on top. If you make the pie in advance it will probably need an extra 10-15 mins in the oven to heat through.

While it’s in the oven you can cook some greens, or other veggies of your choice, to go with it. If you like gravy then make some extra gravy to serve with it too. If you don’t have an oven then you can finish the pie off under a grill instead.