A couple of weeks ago, we hosted a youth group session in our house, and Nuala got the kids to bake some bread rolls and breadsticks. When it was time to eat the baking, I got out a jar of dukkah and some olive oil, which got devoured by the adults. Dip the bread in the oil, then into the dukkah.


Clockwise from bottom right: dukkah, focaccia, oil and balsamic vinegar, olive oil.

I use a recipe taken from Sally Butcher’s Veggiestan which is really simple: toast equal quantitites of raw hazelnuts and sesame seeds with half that of cumin and corander seeds. Grind roughly with some salt and black pepper.

I usually use a 100g packet of hazelnuts, and this adds up to a big jarful that can sit in the fridge or cupboard for ages. I also take care to break the peppercorns down into small pieces or there’ll be uncomfortable bursts of heat in with the mix.

Sally Butcher also suggests using almods rather than hazelnuts. This didn’t go as well for us; I prefer the toasty hazelnut taste. She also says dukkah works well in salads or as seasoning for cooked veg. I think it’d go well with a plain-tasting vegetable like cauliflower or courgette.

The recipe in Sophie Grigson’s Spices suggests adding a small amount of cinnamon. She also suggets dipping sticks of pepper, celery or carrot, little tomatoes or radishes, into oil and then the dukkah.

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Cauliflower with tomato and cumin

This one’s taken from Casa Moro by Sam and Sam Clark.

The cauliflower is supported by tomatoes, so don’t overwhelm the dish with them. A medium cauliflower is enough for a side dish and leftovers. Start by breaking it into small florets.

Infuse some saffron in 2 tablespoons of boiled water.

Pour a good layer of olive oil into a pan, and heat. Add a finely chopped onion and fry until it starts to caramelise, then add 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic and fry for more 2 minutes. Stir in a few roughly-chopped tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the saffron and cauliflower, season and simmer with the lid on, for about 15 minutes, until the cauliflower has softened.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Recipe: Coconut and Greens Noodle Soup

I found this soup recipe in The Sunday Times magazine – I’d picked it up when out and about somewhere and pocketed it to try the recipe. It was a success.

I blow hot and cold about fresh coriander but I think this is the sort of recipe where it shines. The fresh hit of herbs is a very important part of the Januaryness of the soup.

Coconut and greens noodle soup

4 tablespoons coconut oil
a small piece of ginger, peeled
2 garlic cloves
1 small green chilli
4 spring onions
bunch of coriander
a few pieces of mint

Melt the coconut oil – I stuck the bottle in hot water, or you can melt it in a pan, whichever works. Put it in a food processor with the rest of the herbs and whizz them into a paste. You can keep it for a day or two apparently but I went straight on to the next step.

10-20 peppercorns – original says green, which would taste stronger, I had pink.
a teaspoon of turmeric
2 tins coconut milk
1 lime
a veggie stock cube or one of those stock pot things
soy sauce
fish sauce (optional)
lemon grass (I have some weird freeze dried ones I’m trying to use up, fresh would be better)
1 medium sweet potato
100g baby leaf spinach
2 handfuls of flat chinese wheat noodles

Put the herb paste in a medium sized pan and heat it gently, adding in turmeric, peppercorns, the coconut milk, juice of the lime, the stock and a table spoon of the soy sauce. This would be a good time to add the fish sauce if you don’t mind it not being veggie. Add the lemon grass whole so you can fish it out later. Add a can and a half of water. Simmer the mixture.

Slice the sweet potato (I used a mandolin and the pieces were small – next time I might do cubes) and add to the pan.

Add the noodles and the spinach leaves, stir and cover, leave to cook for a few minutes until the noodle and sweet potato are cooked through.

Check if you like the balance – you can add more soy sauce. more lime or some sugar at this stage.

Eat with spoon and fork.

This makes 4 portions. We’ve got some leftover roast pork we may add to the leftover soup tomorrow to get a second meal out of it.

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Cianfotta (pepper, aubergine and potato stew)

We’ve been going through old cookbooks. Found this vegan stew in “Organic” by Sophie Grigson and William Black, and as the vegan family from the West are over today, I’ve cooked it. Here’s what I did:

Heat extra virgin olive oil, and add 1 chopped onion and 2 garlic cloves. Cook until the onion is soft.

Add 2 tomatoes, chopped, and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add: a red, yellow and orange pepper, cut into strips; an aubergine, cut into 2 cm chunks; a few charlotte potatoes, cut into 1 cm chunks; and a pinch of caster sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Stir, and cook on medium-low heat for about 30 mins, until the vegetables are tender.

Stir in a handful of basil leaves (torn) and 1 tsp dried oregano.

This was served with a cauliflower and tomato stew; and rice with dill and potatoes.

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Recipe: Sweet Potato cakes

This is a variation on a recipe from the Yo Sushi! cookbook – the kids bought it for me for Christmas.

The originals are made from pumpkin and are one of my must have choices when the kids convince us to go for sushi. But the local shop had sweet potato and no pumpkins, so the sweet potato variation was born. Also, I only had a half packet of panko so I coated the rest of the cakes in rusk as that’s what the local shop had.

Sweet Potato Cakes

1 sweet potato
1 small onion, finely chopped
Some vegan marge
chopped parsley (start with a tablespoon)
grated nutmeg
plain flour
beaten egg

Peel and chop the sweet potato into chunks. Boil for about 10 minutes until it is soft. While it is cooking fry the onion until soft (I slightly over shot this, oops, and got browned onions but it didn’t wreck anything.)

Mash the sweet potato with some marge and once it is well mashed, add the onions, parsley, salt and a fair amount of nutmeg – I like this strongly nutmeggy, you know your preferences.

Set up 3 bowls – 1 with flour, 1 with the beaten egg and 1 with the breadcrumbs. Make the sweet potato mixture into cakes and dip them into each in turn – starting with the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs.

Fry them in hot oil for a few minutes until the outside is crispy and serve with katsu dipping sauce. I am including the Yo Sushi recipe here but the internet has hundreds, many not made from combining ketchup and HP sauce!

Katsu Sauce

125ml HP sauce
50 ml tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon honey.

Mix these, taste and decide if you like it sweeter (add more ketchup) or more tamarindy (add more HP sauce). This makes loads so you’ll have to make the potato cakes more than once in the next few weeks to use it up. Shame.

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Recipe: Leftover Chicken tacos – more of a method, really

This isn’t pretty, so no photos, but it is tasty.

The kids ate at the party they went to this morning, so I needed a quick lunch but wasn’t constrained by their campaign against taste.

If I had raw chicken I would have cut it into strips and cooked it first. Instead, I had leftover roast chicken so I shredded it. I fried some shallots (would have been onion if I had some, the cupboards are pretty bare) and garlic, when softened, I added the chicken and a drained tin of cannellini beans. I cooked these for about 5 minutes until the beans were hot through and then added a good size squeeze of thai chilli sauce and the juice of half a lemon. I left it to simmer for a minute, heated up some flour tortillas and made myself soft tacos, adding tomato salsa. I would have added avocado if there was any.

I love the sour bite the lemon adds.

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Recipes: 2 soups



So it turns out keeping the kids back from this soup for long enough for me to take a decent photo was pretty much impossible.

Turkey Noodle Soup

2 turkey steaks, sliced into strips
1 litre chicken stock (I used one of those stock pots and an extra stock cube so it would taste strongly of chicken.)
handful of spinach leaves
2 pieces of spring onion (could have been more if I’d had more)
garlic (I used paste, crushed fresh would work too)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon of sugar
some chilli sauce (I used Sriracha)
mint leaves
juice of half a lemon

Heat the stock slowly, adding the garlic, fish sauce, sugar and chilli sauce to infuse.  Wait until it starts to boil, simmer for a few minutes and then add the noodles, spinach and turkey pieces. Cook for another 2 minutes, take off the heat and serve after squeezing the lemon into it and sprinkling with shredded mint leaves.

I recently fed this bean soup to a friend and promised I’d write up the recipe.

Vegan Bean Soup

1 onion, chopped
a couple of carrots, chopped
Smoked paprika – how much depends on how strong you want this to taste, start with a heaped teaspoon
2 tins of mixed beans
1 tin of kidney beans
1 small tin of tomato puree
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of coconut milk

Fry the onion and carrots until they soften, then add the paprika.  Fry until it smells lovely. Add the drained beans and stir to coat them in the paprika. Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and 2 tins full of water.  Cook for about 20 minutes or so.  Blitz with a stick blender and add the coconut milk. Either eat then or reheat to serve later.

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