Beetroot & bean spread

Beet spread

This is a yummy, vibrant spread / dip that’s quick to make. It’s has an earthy flavor and is nice and healthy.

Start by dry roasting 1 tsp. cumin seeds in a frying pan, then put them aside.  Chop a small onion and a stalk of celery and fry them in a couple of tbsp. olive oil, as they begin cooking add 3-4 clove of garlic. While they are all softening peel and grate a large beetroot (about 350 – 400g) then grate it coarsely. Add the beetroot to the frying pan and 1/2 tsp. salt. Fry for a couple of minutes until the beetroot begins to soften.

Meanwhile strain and rinse a can of beans (red kidney or mixed beans). Then add 1 tsp. of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika and half the cumin seeds to the veggies and turn off the heat.  Put the veggies and the beans in a food processor and blend until it becomes a smooth paste. Scoop out into a bowl and allow to coo. To serve drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining cumin seeds and a little smoked paprika.

Veggie mains

Lentil and aubergine stew


At the weekend I saw a picture on Ottolenghi’ s Instagram feed which was a lentil and aubergine stew that looked very tasty so I decided to make my own version. I was pretty easy to make and is really earthy and delicious. I decided to spice the stew with middle eastern spices and added smoked paprika which gave it a lovely smoky flavor. Feel free to adapt the herbs and spices you used to suit your taste. This made a enough for 4 servings. It’s great with bread or mashed potatoes but I served it with savoury scones.

So what do you need?

  • a large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 2 large aubergines
  • 5 or 6 skinned tomatoes (or a can of tomatoes)
  • about 120g dry brown lentils
  • a couple of bay leave
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  •  a couple of stalks of dill
  • sea salt
  • plenty of olive oil

So what do you do?

Start by chopping the onion and frying it in a large frying pan. Fry it for a minute or two in some olive oil and the add the garlic. Cut the auberine into chunks of about 4-5 cms in size and add this and a couple of pinches of salt to the frying pan. The aubergine will soak up the olive oil so add more as necessary to fry it and add the cumin and coriander seeds. Once the onion starts to brown transfer the veg into a heavy saucepan with a lid. Add the lentils, chopped tomatoes and bay leaves and cover with hot water (or veggie stock if you have it), you can rinse the frying pan out with water and add it to the pan too. Cover the pan and bring to the boil and then simmer for about 25-30 minutes until the lentils are cooked, the sauce has reduced and thickened a little and the aubergine is soft, tender and starting to break up. Chop the dill and add this along with half the paprika and taste and add more paprika and salt to taste. Like most stews and curries it will taste great the next day too!



Soups, Uncategorized

Veggie stew with pulses


This is a stew / soup similar to a minestrone, but a little heartier, made with what veg. and pluses you have to hand. It’s good if you have time to make it early and let it stand so the flavours develop and then reheat it to serve.

I fried an onion then added some chopped garlic, large chillis, celery and about 150g of mushrooms and fried until beginning to brown the added a chopped carrot, and some sliced radishes and 4 chopped tomatoes, about half a cup of dried lentils, a couple of bay leaves, a couple of pinches of salt, and a few crushed pepper corns which I covered well with vegetable stock and cooked for about 10 mins. Then I added some quicker cooking veg. cauliflower and Thai kale (pak kana) and fresh herbs, coriander and dill and about 1/2 tsp dried chill powder (optional) and cooked for another 15 mins or so until the lentils were cooked. Finally, I added some cooked beans I had (you could just use more lentils). You can make it as thick as you want if you you prefer it to be a stew or add more stock for a hearty soup. If you want a really hearty stew then add a handful of pearl barley with the lentils or add dumplings to the stew. If you don’t add dumplings, then it’s good served with warm fresh bread.

Veggie mains

Vegetable stew with lentils and barley


There’s something comforting about a pot of stew. When I was young my mum often made a lamb stew with barley in it. This is a meat free Monday version.

I think you need to be flexible when you make stew using the vegetables you find in season at the market. Today I found a nice cauliflower, some lovely asparagus, and sugar snap peas that I wanted to incorporate into my stew along with some other year round veggies.

I started by preparing all my veg and putting all the trimmings in  a pot with boiling water, some salt and peppercorns and some herbs, bay leaves, dill and rosemary to make a stock. While the stock was simmering I fried a chopped onion in some olive oil, to this I added a few crushed cloves of garlic and some celery and fried it until it began to soften. Then I added a bowlful of chopped mushrooms. Then I added a chopped carrot, a handful of pear barley and two handfuls of brown lentils a couple of bay leaves, some rosemary and a teaspoon or Marmite. I poured in some of the stock and a glass of white wine (optional) ensuring that everything was well covered in liquid and put the lid on and simmered it for about 20 minutes. I added some more stock along with the cauliflower, cut into florets, and the asparagus stems. I cooked this for another 10 minutes or so before adding the sugar snap peas, the asparagus tips, some dill and freshly ground pepper and cooked it for another 10 minutes.

I served it with some mashed potatoes like my mum used to.


Baking, Snacks, Veggie mains

Curried veggie pasties


These are an adaptation of my cheesy veggie pasties and are a samosa / pasty hybrid.

Follow the cheesy veggie pasties recipe but add a teaspoon of curry powder and 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds to the pastry. For the filling add a couple of tablespoons of plain yoghurt, 2 tsp of curry powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, a tsp of toasted cumin seeds, and a handful of chopped coriander leaves (you can also swap the cheddar for a tub of cottage cheese and the butter beans for chickpeas or lentils if you like). Follow the instructions for the cheesy pasties. These go really well with mango chutney.

Baking, Snacks, Veggie mains

Cheesy veggie pasties

Perfect for picnics or a packed lunch. This recipe makes about a dozen medium sized pasties. The hot water pastry is really easy to make and work with if you don’t feel confident with pastry it’s a good one to start with and makes a sturdy pasty.

So what do you need?

For the pastry

  • 350 g plain (all purpose) flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1  free-range egg (beaten)
  • 100g butter
  • 150ml water

For the filling

  • 500g root vegetables (e.g. potatoes, swede, carrot, daikon radish)
  • 100 g peas
  • 1 onion (150g)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • 150g cheddar cheese
  • 1 can of butter beans
  • 1 tbsp. wholegrain mustard
  • a handful of dill
  • salt and pepper
  • an egg (for glazing)

So what do you do?

Start by making the pasty. Put the water and the butter in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt and egg. Once the butter has melted and the water is boiling pour this into the bowl and mix it into the flour with a wooden spoon. It will make a softish pastry dough. Cover with a tea towel and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Then put it in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge to rest for 30 mins.

Meanwhile make the filling. Peel the root vegetables and cut them into small cubes (I used potato, carrot and daikon radish). Steam them for about 10 minutes. While they are cooking chop up the onion and crush the garlic and fry them in some olive oil until the onion softens and starts to brown. Once the vegetables are cooked put them in a mixing bowl, add the peas and onion. Next cut the cheese into small cubes and add this along with the butter beans and mustard and about half a teaspoon of salt and a good grinding of pepper. Chop up some dill and add a couple of tablespoons to the vegetables and mix everything to together. Taste the vegetables and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Heat your oven to 220 degrees C / 425 F.

Once the vegetable mixture has cooled down take your pastry out of the fridge and roll it out, on a floured surface, to about 2-3mm thick then use something round about 15cms in diameter to cut circles of pastry. I used a soup bowl that I pressed into the pastry to cut out rounds. Roll out any pastry trimmings to make more pasties. Put a heaped tablespoon or so of the vegetable mix down the middle of each pastry circle. You want the pasties to be full, but you also need to be able to seal them! Beat the egg and use it to paint along the edge of one side of the circle and then fold the sides up into the middle over the filling. Press the two edges together with your finger to seal them together along the top, and then put the pasties on a lined baking tray. Prick each side with a fork then glaze them with the beaten egg and put them in the oven for about 25 minutes until they are cooked golden brown. Enjoy hot or cold. For a curried version of these pasties look here.




Veggie mains

Veggie hotpot

This is a great one-pot meal full of veggie goodness. It’s not really that different from a Shepherd’s pie but instead of mashed potatoes you use sliced one which go lovely a crisp. It’s a traditional dish from Lancashire and reminds me of the TV series Coronation Street where this always seemed the most popular dish in the local pub. This will serve 4 people.

So what do you need?

  • 3-4  tbsp. vegetable / olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 250g sliced mushrooms
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 parsnip or 1/2 daikon radish
  • 100g brown lentils
  • 100g pearl barley
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • 1 cup peas / chopped green beans
  • 10g porcini mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 tsp. of marmite / 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried herbs
  • 1 tbsp. fresh dill (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. (celery) salt
  • 2 tsp. gravy powder (Bisto) or corn flour
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large potatoes

So what do you do?

In a 20 – 25cm casserole dish heat up 2 about 2 tbsp. of oil and add the onion and fry for a few minutes then add the garlic, mushrooms and celery salt and fry for a few more minutes. Meanwhile peel and cube the carrot and parsnip / daikon radish and then add these to the pot. Next add the lentils and barley and cover well with stock add the dried herbs, pepper and marmite / soy sauce and cover. Simmer for 30 mins. Check after about 20 mins and stir, and add more stock / water if necessary you want to keep the vegetables just covered in liquid. At this point add the peas / beans, dill and porcini mushrooms and cook for another 10 mins. Mix the gravy powder with a little water and mix it into the veggies, again make sure that there is enough liquid to just cover the veggies. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees C / 4000 F. Slice the potatoes thinly and blanch in boiling water for a minute or two and the drain them and toss them in a little oil (or melted butter if you prefer) and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place the potato slices overlapping in layers on top of the casserole and put in the oven for about 45 mins until the potatoes are golden on top. It goes well with some mustard on the side!