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Apr 10 14


by Trish


I’m not sure making your own oatcakes is that much cheaper than buying them.  I used organic oatmeal and seeds and stuff that I already had. Whole recipe cost about 70p and made about as many oatcakes as you’d buy in a regular sized box, which would cost you about (quick check on Asda website) .. 80p.  Add in the cost of what you spent cooking them and your TIME (depending on how expensive you think you are) and you’re either breaking even or it’s ridiculously costly.  They taste nice though and who doesn’t like saying ‘I made these!’?

  • 250g oatmeal
  • 3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • Seeds e.g. sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds (sprinkle of each)
  • 25g vegan margarine
  • 150ml boiling water
  1. Mix all ingredients together and stir well; the boiling water melts the margarine into the other ingredients
  2. Form into a dough and roll out
  3. Cut into circles with a cookie cutter and place on oiled/greased baking tray
  4. Bake at 180°C for about 10 minutes

I will ask friends if these are Gluten-Free because I don’t know

Feb 21 14

Red Kidney Bean Hummus

by Trish

Recently, in a attempt to eat healthier but also to economise, I unearthed my copies of vegetarian cook books from the 1980’s, a time when all may have been flash fast food and ready meals for the rest of the nation, but for vegetarians it was still very much D.I.Y.

I have a distinct feeling that I was a lot more healthy and, to a point, have eaten more healthily, the less money I’ve had available.  Only to a point, mind.  The months where I was living mainly off boiled barley and lentil soup mix (plain) and, a year or so before that, from flatmates’ donated leftovers, I don’t think I was getting much of a good balance food-wise.  But how different things are here and now where the cheap, processed food is everywhere.

My favourite veggie cook book ever has to be ‘The Vegetarian Cook Book 2’ by David Eno.  So old that there isn’t even an image of it on the Amazon listing (but you can pick up a used copy for 1p) and it’s DIY just about everything heaven for veggies.  Maybe I can learn something from the time of relative austerity, of health food shops with barrels of lentils and oats rather than shelves of food supplements and of eating in most nights because it’s only Pizza Hut that has any veggie options.

Buy the book (c’mon, I just said a used copy is 1p) and turn to page 31 and there’s a recipe for Hummus.   I’ve made it – it’s nice, it looks and tastes like hummus.  The variation below is something I thought I’d invented, until I looked online and discovered other people have had the same idea.

Kidney Bean Hummus 20140221_002529

  • 200g red kidney beans, cooked or from a can or carton
  • Little shake of salt
  • 2 small cloves of garlic or 1 large clove, chopped or crushed
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp tahini
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  1. Blend

(that’s definitely the shortest set of recipe instructions I’ve ever written)

Jan 25 14

French Onion Soup

by Trish

Some time ago, I attempted to veganize cream of tomato soup.  Today I attempted to vegetarianize French Onion Soup, which is traditionally made with a meat stock.  No mean feat, given the pre-warning that it is not nice if too salty and that I had been thinking Marmite would give it a meaty taste.  The mushrooms gave a bit of ‘meatiness’ to the stock without adding a ton of salt. Also, I can’t remember eating French Onion Soup.  I know I have done because I have a vague memory of making a version from a book I got when I was about 10; a version that I very much doubt contained alcohol – even if it was the seventies.  I’ll have to try the real deal at some point to see how the version below measures up but it all disappeared at the dinner table this evening so that’s a good sign.

  • 3 or 4 large onions
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine (I used Merlot because it was open)
  • Stock: I used a level teaspoon of low-salt vegan bouillon, a handful of dried porcini mushrooms and 3-4 squirts of Bragg’s Aminos (soy sauce without added wheat or salt and made by some very strange people) to a pint and a half of boiling water
  • Agave nectar (sugar will do; I don’t know where ours is)
  • Bay leaves
  • Mixed herbs
  • Vegetarian hard cheese e.g. veggie Parmesan – Morrison’s cheap hard Parmesan-like cheese is vegetarian (although it comes from cows so I can’t have any)
  1. Slice the onions finely and cook in the oil over a low-ish heat for ages, stirring occasionally.  By ages I mean about half an hour.
  2. Squirt some agave nectar in after about 10-15 minutes to help the onions caramelize a bit
  3. When onions look just about ready (browning at edges and soft), throw in minced garlic and cook for another minute
  4. Add a splash of wine and the stock, herbs and bay leaves – simmer while you set the table
  5. Serve with grated cheese

I believe traditional French Onion Soup employs squares of cheese on toast instead of just a sprinkle of cheese, hence it looks interesting enough to take a photo of.  You may be reassured, however, that this tasted too nice for me to remember to photograph it.



Nov 24 13

Xmas dinner for Unexpected Vegetarians

by Trish


It’s a few days before Christmas, there might be a shop open somewhere but you don’t care, you believe you’re all sorted.
What do you do IF you find out you’re having another guest for Christmas day and they’re vegetarian OR an existing guest announces a conversion to not eating meat and no, they can’t wait till New Year to kick off?

Not to worry!  You’ve probably got everything you need to make a very basic nut roast already in your cupboard.

You’ll need:

  • about 4 slices of bread (wholemeal for preference)
  • vegetable oil, olive oil or sunflower oil
  • an onion or a leek
  • marmite
  • some dried herbs and spices, whatever you have will do
  • some nuts (it’s Christmas, there are probably nuts in the house – not including the ones you live with)
  • A blender OR amazing amounts of patience

Here’s what you do:

  1. Heat the oven to Gas Mark 4 / 180°C / 350°F
  2. Oil a baking sheet, doesn’t need to be a huge one
  3. Turn the bread into breadcrumbs by throwing it into the blender a few slices at a time – this experience may be quite soothing, unlike breaking it into bits with your hands, which definitely isn’t – throw the resulting breadcrumbs into a big bowl
  4. Measure out 235g of nuts – really any nuts you can get your hands on are fine: chestnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews – if they’re salted, omit half of the marmite from later on in the recipe and don’t add any more salt
  5. Pull ALL of the nuts in the blender and blend till they also resemble crumbs.  If you don’t have a blender, put your nuts inside a clean plastic bag inside another carrier bag, tie securely and either stamp up and down on or bash the heck out of with a rolling pin – then put nuts in the bowl with the bread
  6. Add about a tablespoon of mixed herbs, or whatever you have, and a shake of cinnamon or cayenne pepper or whatever else you have (remember, this is an emergency recipe)
  7. Add pepper and salt (so long as your nuts weren’t salted to begin with) and give it a stir to mix everything together
  8. Put 2 tablespoons of oil into a frying pan and fry your onion (chopped) – if you have any garlic, bung a clove of that in too, also if you have any celery that has no current purpose in life, chop up and throw a stick of that in too – fry till soft but not browned (hint: lower the heat after about a minute)
  9. Add onion mixture to bread and nut mixture
  10. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of marmite (only 1 if your nuts were salted) in a quarter of a pint of boiling water and throw that into the bowl as well
  11. Mix all ingredients with a spoon – by now it should smell quite nice 🙂
  12. With CLEAN hands, form into a long loaf shape and place on your baking tray – decorate a few spare nuts if you can be bothered
  13. Bake.  The roast will take anything from 30 – 45 minutes, depending on your oven – try 30 to start and keep checking on it
  14. You can make the roast a day in advance and then warm it up on Christmas Day


 The rest of the Christmas meal is fairly easy to adapt.  Potatoes should be roasted in olive oil.  They won’t want any stuffing that’s meat based – stuffing you can buy as powder in shops is usually veggie-friendly, though so have a quick look at the label.  Obviously avoid serving them the pigs in blankets!!!

Gravy is fairly straightforward: Fry a tablespoon of flour in oil then add some veggie stock (use green OXO cube or marmite again) – bay leaf, mustard powder and some more herbs make it taste nice, soy sauce or balsamic vinegar will help it be nearer the right colour but keep tasting to make sure you’re not making it too salty.

Oh, and if you’re a meat eater, try some of the nut roast yourself (this recipe makes plenty) either with Christmas Dinner or cold the next day.  For an emergency recipe, it’s actually OK 🙂

Feb 2 13

Cream of Tomato Soup

by Trish

Watching the lovely Peter warm up lovely Heinz Cream of Tomato soup has been known to fill me with envy.  The smell is one of those that is just so nostalgic and I can remember the taste even though it’s been years.  No home-made tomato soup I’ve ever attempted has come anywhere near that taste, neither has the colour ever been right – where tomato soup tends to be the colour of tomatoes, if you had no sense of smell and you opened a can of Heinz tomato soup you could be forgiven for thinking it was orange emulsion paint.  I wondered what was in this weird stuff and whether it would be possible to make a vegan version.

The ingredients list for Heinz Cream of Tomato soup reads thus: Tomatoes, vegetable oil, sugar, modified cornflour, salt, dried skimmed milk, milk proteins, cream, spice extracts, herb extract, citric acid.  It goes against my mum’s advice of “never eat soup and milk at the same meal” (also don’t eat more than one apple a day – are you listening, people?) – whatever I made today, it was bound to be better on account of no milk and it doesn’t contain even one apple!

I don’t attempt to recreate the recipe but I have attempted to recreate the taste (not bad, quite similar) and the colour (no chance, unless I add orange or lemon peel I suppose)

Ingredients (enough for one serving)

  • 5 large-ish tomatoes
  • 1/2 a leek
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • Stock made with 1 teaspoon of vegetable bouillon (reduced salt version – if using other stock, leave out the salt)
  • Agave nectar (1 teaspoon)
  • Salt and pepper (tiny amount of each cause this is only for 1 person)
  • 1 bay leaf and 1 basil leaf (you can add more basil for decoration)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 4 tablespoons of Oatly oat milk
  1. Chop the leek and gently fry in the olive oil, then add the tomatoes (cored, peeled and quartered) and fry for a bit more
  2. Cover with stock, bring to boil then reduce to simmer for 15 minutes – add basil and bayleaf during this time
  3. Blend with handheld blender
  4. Return to pan and bring to boil
  5. Reduce heat and add agave, tomato puree and oat milk – stir in well over heat
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste (shouldn’t need much)

I then did SUMS to see how my version equated with the Heinz canned version for various factors (because I’m like that).  We reckon the amount of soup I made was equivalent to about a 400g can of Heinz tomato soup.  The home-made soup has a few more calories but not significantly more, it’s also a bit higher in protein and fibre, a bit lower in sodium and a bit higher in fat.  People wanting less fat could reduce the amounts of oat milk or olive oil.

Lastly, one serving of this soup, as made, is 6 WWPP, exactly the same as a can of Heinz tomato soup.  I think this means I’ve won 🙂

Oct 30 12

Onion Squash Soup (served in an Onion Squash)

by Trish

Here’s something you could make for Halloween.  Please NO carving of scary faces into the squash before serving up – it makes the soup fall out.



For each serving you’ll need:

  • One onion squash – about 550-600g whole weight
  • 1 and a half teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 15g creamed coconut  and half a teaspoon nutritional yeast  flakes OR  30g goat’s cheese
  • Vegetable stock
  • Parsley or chives to garnish
  1. Cut small amount from base of squash so that it stands flat
  2. Make another cut right through the squash about 2/3 of the way up and remove that section
  3. Scoop out seeds and discard
  4. Armed with a sharp knife and a metal spoon, excavate chunks of squash as you would if you were hollowing out a pumpkin – however aim for chunks all being approximately same size
  5. Put chunks of squash in a bowl and mix well with olive oil
  6. Transfer to baking tray and bake at 200°C, checking every 10 minutes, till chunks are soft (cooking time will vary depending on how big chunks are)
  7. When soft, transfer to blender and blend together with all other ingredients except for garnish (you can vary amount of stock to get a thinner or thicker soup)
  8. If soup not warm enough, transfer to saucepan and warm through
  9. Pour into hollowed-out squash to serve and sprinkle with garnish

Please note: onion squash also tastes amazing just on its own


Oct 27 12

How to put 4 different salads in the same bowl

by Trish

We were having falafels last night, which are great but haven’t got the cheeriest of colours shining up from your plate to welcome you home from your working day.  Having ‘just a bit of salad’ with them and sauces to go on them wouldn’t therefore do.  When it’s raining outside you kinda want some zing and I don’t hold with putting things in pitta bread unless one is out and has no option but to eat while walking.  I first decided I wanted to dish up 4 different things in one of those compartmentalised dishes, then I remembered we don’t own one so I worked out a way to get 4 things tidily into the same bowl.  To recreate the culinary wonder you see before you, you have to *shock horror* not mind tinfoil briefly touching your food.

You will need:

  • A bowl
  • Pair of chopsticks
  • Tinfoil, one side of which at least is spotlessly clean
  • Something to scrunch up inside the tinfoil to make it take up more space
  • 4 salads or other things to put in the bowl
    1. Place chopsticks across each other over the top of the bowl making 4 spaces
    2. Make 3 balls from tinfoil and whatever you’re putting inside (I used recycled kitchen roll) and place these in 3 of the spaces
    3. Starting with your most solid salad, place salads into the spaces, removing one tinfoil ball at a time
    4. You can add a sauce or something semi-liquid like houmous or a thick dip into the final space
    5. Remove the chopsticks and stick something pretty in the middle like parsley, olives or one of those tomatoes that has been carved to look like a… *fails to describe*
IMAG0608 IMAG0610

Looks a lot better when well-lit and photographed with a better camera.

4 salads

Salads clockwise from bottom left: grated carrot (including the lesser-known yellow carrots, for in fact carrots do come in many colours – and look like they might just be fizzy), houmous (low fat varieties taste nicer = discovery of the month), tomatoes and cucumber, baked beetroot/beets with satsuma and flat leaf parsley.  In the middle are some olives because I can’t carve tomatoes to look good and had already used parsley.

Oct 15 12

Sweet Potato Curry

by Trish

The area of London where I used to live and the area of London where I live now have something in common – good South Indian restaurants.  Hence I know the delights of dosas, sambhar and coconut chutney and would take them over poppadoms and something eye-watering with rice any day.  Last time I went to my favourite South Indian Restaurant I was informed that their dosas contravened my no-dairy rule, which made me go ‘meh!’.  Then I thought “I bet I can make my own and make it dairy-free!”.  And I nearly did.  By the time I’d got the hang of how to fry the dosas there was only enough mixture to give everyone a tiny one by the side of their plate.  Fortunately the curry got the seal of approval from everyone who tried it, including the lovely neighbours, who have provided me with the photo below.


The dosa and sambhar are from a packet I bought at Morrisons although you can buy them online here
The dosa is based on rice and lentil flours but there’s a disclaimer on the pack that says it’s packed in a plant that processes wheat flour also so I don’t know if that counts as safely GF
The curry’s fine though – the amount below makes 3 portions

  • 350g sweet potato (one large one)
  • 125g carrots (I think about 3 medium-sized)
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Teaspoon sunflower oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 125g red kidney beans, cooked or canned and drained
  • 80g french beans (or dwarf or runner beans)
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • Teaspoon curry powder
  • Teaspoon stock powder
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • Squirt of agave nectar
  1. Boil the sweet potato and the carrots till almost soft, steam the french beans over the same saucepan if you’re lazy (I am, BTW)
  2. Fry the onion and garlic in the oil in a wok or substantial frying pan
  3. Transfer potato and carrots to the same pan
  4. Add curry powder, tomatoes and (both lots of) beans and stir in
  5. Pour on enough hot stock to cover and simmer
  6. Add coconut milk and agave nectar
  7. Keep simmering till liquid reduces and potatoes and carrots go a bit mushy

In the interests of learning to make things that tend towards the healthy, I’ll be marking some of these recipes with Weight Watchers Pro Points values.  I know a number of my friends are doing Weight Watchers and I’d like to put recipes on here they can try so you’ll see at the bottom of some recipes the letters WWPP and a number.   People who are unconcerned with or even anti the whole Weight Watching thing are welcome to ignore the letters and the number.


Oct 8 12

Spring Rolls

by Trish

Vietnamese spring rolls are not fried and thus a more salady option; if you’d like to make spring rolls similar to those you’ve had in restaurants and takeaways then brush these with oil and bake or deep or shallow fry.  If you’ve used too much water preparing the pancakes then there is a danger they’ll fall apart during the cooking process (this is why there isn’t a post-cooking photo in this post – ALL of the ones I put in the oven burst open, fortunately they still taste great).


Yes, well spotted, they’re not perfectly formed tubes.  When the spring roll folding machine at the factory can do my job, be a good companion/family member/colleague, look good in jeans and be able to sing in a Welsh accent, then and only then will criticism be permitted.

Almost all of the ingredients for these I had in the cupboards and fridge already.  The wrappers for the spring rolls are Rice Flour Pancakes from a company called Blue Dragon and they contain rice flour, tapioca flour starch, salt and water.  The packaging does not say that they are gluten free but, as far as Wikipedia can tell, all of the ingredients are so I’m including this recipe as gluten free.

Mixture in the middle bit
Start with some salad ingredients in a bowl; I used leftover salad comprised of carrots, lettuce, cucumber and tomato with the carrots grated and the tomato, lettuce and cucumber cut up finely …and tomato seeds removed.  I added a pinch of Chinese 5 spice and a splash of soy sauce also some home-sprouted mung beans (although the ones you can get in the shop are fine too) and mixed it all together in a bowl.

Pancake rolling bit
Rice flour pancakes are kinda stiff, like poppadoms before you fry them.  In order to fold them around your mixture you need to get them a bit wet so they’re more pliable.  If you’re not intending frying them then go for it and stick them under running water.  If you want them more rigid then try pressing them against a damp tea towel (a clean one, not the one you’ve been using for a week).  With your pancake damp, place about a handful of your mixture into just off the middle and roll the pancake around it, sealing the (approximation of a) tube in place with a bit more water.  Now roll up the ends and seal in the same way.

Serve with dipping sauce of your choice.  And run an image search for Vietnamese Spring Rolls to see how lovely they can look when prepared by someone who isn’t me 🙂


Sep 28 12


by Trish

Some years ago, when I worked in Hackney, there was a family-run health food shop near to the office and I was a fairly frequent visitor. Alongside Decaffs with soya milk (don’t do it – it curdles), fruit and veg and branded health foods, the shop sold lentil koftas as made by one of them and lovingly presented with a slice of lemon. I found recipes for them online and tried making my own only to discover that online recipes tell you how to make a million koftas when you actually want 6 or 7 max and they all require you to use bulghur wheat which I can’t find in the shop. The recipe below uses quinoa, which is everywhere and makes enough koftas for a packed lunch plus a few extra to wait in the fridge for you and greet you when you get home.


It’s quinoa, not worms – it just looks like that, OK?

  • 50g lentils
  • 50g quinoa
  • small onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil for frying
  • tomato puree
  • fresh herbs (I used dill but mint and coriander are good too)
  • Pinch of cumin
  • Lemon juice
  1. Cook the lentils and the quinoa, drain and then mix together in a bowl
  2. Add lightly fried onion and garlic, tomato puree, herbs, cumin and lemon juice and stir in well
  3. Form into sausage shapes and leave in the fridge – they should become solid enough for you to pick up to eat (with luck!)
  4. Serve with lettuce and a squeeze of lemon