Festive Nut and Lentil Roast (v)

I’ve been tweaking my nut roast recipe as we approach the solstice this year. I love nut roast, and this recipe gives me everything I am looking for in a roast. It’s nice enough to be used on Christmas day, but easy enough to make more often too. It freezes well and makes the best sandwiches thinly sliced and served with cranberry sauce, mustard and lettuce in a barm. I always make a double batch and stash one in the freezer for a super quick roast on days when I don’t have the time or inclination to make a dinner from scratch.

For 2 x 2lb loaves (cuts into 8-10 slices each) you need:

  • 1 packet of cooked whole chestnuts
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 cups stock
  • 1/3 cup each of raw cashews and almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw peanuts
  • 1 onion, blitzed to a pulp
  • 1 packet sage and onion stuffing mix
  • 3 tbsp mixed dried herbs
  • generous heaped dessert spoon of marmite
  • 4 tbsp toasted sunflower seeds
  1. Begin by cooking the lentils in the stock for about 15 mins until tender. I find this best in a lidded non stick pan. Once cooked, beat them until smooth and creamy with a wooden spoon – this will take about 2-3 mins.
  2. Whilst the lentils are cooking, toast the sunflower seeds in a pan.
  3. In a food processor or mini processor, roughly blitz the peanuts, cashews and almonds, I like a mix where some of them are quite finely chopped but you still have some nice bigger lumps of nuts for texture. Add the chestnuts and pulse a couple of times until they are broken into chunks. If you don’t have a processor you can roughly chop the nuts by hand instead.
  4. Dry fry the chopped nuts and onion in a pan for 4-5 mins until the liquid from the onion has reduced a little.
  5. Make the stuffing mix up according to the instructions in a large bowl. Add everything else to this bowl and mix thoroughly.
  6. Pack into two lined 2lb loaf tins and then bake in a 160-170 degree oven for 30-45 mins. Enjoy!

Rich and Easy Gravy (v)

I have no photo of this, we ate it all too fast! I’m blogging so I can remember the recipe for Christmas Day as it was delicious.

For 4 servings you need

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp cream sherry
  • salt and pepper
  1. Sautee the onion in the oil for 10-15 mins until lightly caramelised.
  2. Add the flour and cook out for 3-4 mins.
  3. Add the sherry and allow to boil then add the stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 3-4 mins.
  4. Add the marmite and soya sauce, check the seasoning and then serve.

Four Lentil Stew in Beer with Dumplings (v)

Perfect winter warming fuel, this recipe freezes brilliantly and can also be used as a base for Shepherd’s Pie or a ‘beef’ and ale pie.

For 6-8 portions you need:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek cut into 1cm slices
  • 2 sticks celery, finely sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup each of red, brown, green and puy lentils. (If you can’t find all these use just use one or more types. Make sure you include some red lentils to help thicken the sauce as it cooks). If you have no american cup measures, use about 150ml of each type of lentil.
  • 1 440ml can stout
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • About 400ml vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp each soya sauce and mushroom ketchup (if you can find it)
  • 2 tbsp dried mixed herbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 50g vegetable suet
  • 1 tsp mixed dried herbs
  • Vegetables to serve: we had carrots, sprouts, cauliflower, savoy cabbage, braised red cabbage and lashings of mash 🙂
  1. In a large oven proof pan with a lid, begin by sauteing the leeks, onion and celery in the oil for about 5 mins until tender.
  2. Add the lentils, beer, stock, tomatoes and herbs and bring to the boil.
  3. Cover with a lid and place the pan in a pre-heated 180 degree oven for 30 mins.
  4. Mix the suet, flour and herbs together into a soft dough with some cold water. Form into 8 balls.
  5. Place the dumplings on top of the stew and cover again, cook for a further 20-25 mins until the sauce is thickened and bubbling and the dumplings are cooked. Season to taste and then scoff.

Sticky Tofu with Noodles & Zingy Lime Dressing (v)

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This is another brilliant dish for hot weather when you don’t want to be slaving over a hot stove but still want something tasty, nutritious and filling in your belly. Choose whatever veggies you have to hand and swap the noodles for rice if necessary.

For three portions you need

  • 1 pack tofu, pressed. (we prefer cauldron foods and use a tofu torture press – worth every penny). Cut into thin strips.
  • 1/2 bottle hoisin sauce
  • 1 pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 cucumber, cut into ribbons with a speed peeler
  • 1/2 chinese cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 head broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 nests thin rice noodles
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • handful fresh coriander
  • 1-2 tbsp oil

Dressing

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 4 tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 1″ piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 2 thai chillies, finely grated
  • 1 tsp agave nectar or maple syrup
  1. Begin by making the dressing. I keep my chillies and ginger in the freezer so I always have fresh available. This also means I can grate them straight into a dressing to ensure even distribution in the dressing. Combine all the ingredients together and leave to mingle.
  2. Soak the noodles in boiling water according to the instructions. Once ready, drain and refresh in cold water and squeeze out any excess to prevent the dish from being too soggy.
  3.  Heat a griddle pan and add the oil. Stir fry the broccoli for 2-3 mins until slightly charred. Remove from the pan and leave to one side.
  4. Re-heat the pan and place the tofu in a single layer. Cook for 3-4 mins on a high heat until crispy and golden brown. Turn and repeat. You may need to add a little more oil.
  5. Once the tofu is crispy, pour over the hoisin sauce and remove from the heat. Toss the tofu until coated. Do not keep it on the heat or the sugar in the sauce will burn and it will taste nasty.
  6. Dress the bowls with all the ingredients, finishing with the hot tofu. Drizzle over the sauce and top with slices of spring onion and coriander.

Simple Mango Sorbet (v)

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With the warmer weather last week, we ate a LOT of ice cream and sorbet so I had a go at making some mango sorbet myself. This is pretty easy if you have an ice cream maker. If you don’t, simply pour the mix into a tub and freeze it, remembering to take it out and beat it every hour or so to keep too many ice crystals from forming. I cheated and used a tin of ready made puree because frankly it’s cheap, easy to use and you know it’s going to be sweet and perfect. If you have a glut of fresh mangoes, puree the flesh and sweeten to taste, remembering that when you freeze something you need to add a little more sugar than normal.

For approx 900ml of sorbet you need:

  • 1 tin mango puree
  • 5ml liquid glycerine
  1. Chill the tin of puree overnight in the fridge and make sure the bowl of your ice cream maker is likewise frozen overnight (unless you have one of those fancy pants ones that doesn’t need to be frozen).
  2. Pour the puree into the machine along with the glycerine. Churn until thickened then transfer to a tub and finish freezing in the freezer until you are ready to eat it.

Simple Curry Sauce (v)

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This is a quick and simple curry sauce that tastes just like the sauce base you get from the takeaway. Play around with the heat to adjust to taste and add other embellishments depending on mood and what needs to be used up – some cream or yogurt perhaps or some butter or even some desiccated coconut instead of the ground almonds.

For 3-4 portions you need

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp curry leaves (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1″ piece of ginger, chopped into pieces
  • 2 finger chillies (adjust to taste, we like a spicy curry!)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp stock powder
  • 1 tsp each of turmeric, garam masala, ground coriander, ground cumin and curry powder
  • About 200ml water
  • 3-4 tbsp ground almonds
  1. Begin by placing the tomatoes, onion, garlic and ginger in a blender and smooshing to a smooth consistency.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan until hot and then add the curry leaves. Cook out for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the pureed tomatoes and stir to fry off in the oil.
  4. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat. Cook for about 10 mins until the raw smell of the onions has eased off a little.
  5. Add everything else apart from the almonds. Cook out for another 5-10 mins, adjusting the seasoning, heat and consistency of the sauce to suit.
  6. If you’re making this into a curry e.g. chana masala or paneer etc add these now and heat into the sauce.
  7. Finish by adding the ground almonds to thicken and lighten the sauce, adjust the seasoning again if necessary and scoff. You can add a spoonful of cream, yogurt or butter at this stage too to enrich the sauce if you want.

We had it as paneer curry the first time and as a sauce for a vegetable and chickpea biryani last night, yummy!

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Coconut Vegetable Dhal Soup (v)

We eat a lot of soup. It’s tasty, nourishing and you can hide all sorts in it. This used up some leftover sweet potatoes and some sad celery as well as delivering a nutritional hit from the red lentils. Freeze some if you have leftovers. It’s a warm and comforting hug in a bowl.

Coconut Vegetable Dhal Soup

For six portions you need:

  • 1 swede, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 leek, washed and sliced
  • 3 sticks celery, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1-1.5 litres vegetable stock (more or less depending on how thick you want the soup)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp medium curry powder
  • Toasted mixed seeds
  • Fresh coriander
  1. Begin by sautéing the vegetables in the oil for 5-10 mins.
  2. Add the lentils and curry powder and mix well.
  3. Add the coconut milk and stock. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 20 mins.
  4. Blitz the soup with a stick blender, season to taste and serve garnished with the seeds and coriander.

Chocolate Peanut Smoothie (v)

Chocolate banana smoothie

In these uncertain and unsettling times I’m struggling to eat. I’m also hyper aware that I don’t want to waste any food at all. This smoothie delivers a healthy boost of fruit; is easy to drink if you’ve no appetite and uses up some bananas that are too ripe for me to enjoy as they are. You can use whatever ingredients you have to hand. These were in my freezer/cupboard.

For one portion you need

  • 1 ripe banana
  • Handful of frozen black cherries
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • ~200ml soya milk or whatever milk you have to hand.
  1. Put everything into a blender goblet. Blitz till smooth, adding more liquid if you need to. Enjoy.

If you have lots of ripe bananas, peel them and freeze them. If you use frozen banana you will need to add more liquid as it will thicken a lot.

Bangers and Mash with Red Wine Onion Gravy (v)

When it’s your birthday in our house, you can choose what’s for tea. This year I chose bangers and mash as it’s been a grey January so far and I wanted comfort food. But to make it that little bit extra special I made the gravy from scratch. It only takes 20 mins and the results are soooooooo worth it.

For three people you need

  • Vegan sausages (we used Shroomdogs and Linda McCartney sausages)
  • Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Vegan spread – 2 tbsp
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetables of your choice
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced (I used my mandolin for consistency)
  • 200ml red wine
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp each of soya sauce and mushroom ketchup
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  1. Put the potatoes on to boil. Cook for 17 mins once boiling until tender. Drain and add 1 tbsp spread then mash thoroughly until smooth and creamy. Season to taste.
  2. Heat a large frying pan and add the other 1 tbsp spread. Add the onion and sugar and cook for 10 mins until lightly golden.
  3. Sprinkle in the flour and cook out for 2-3 mins. Add the stock, wine, soya sauce and mushroom ketchup and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to thicken. Stir every now and then to prevent lumps.
  4. Cook the sausages – I use my air fryer where they take about 16 mins.
  5. Steam the veg and then serve up and enjoy.

Rainbow Tofu Poke Bowl (v)

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They say you should eat the rainbow, and this bowl is packed full of delicious things to help you achieve that goal! I think it’s also at least four of your five a day in one yummy bowl. Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients, it’s not complicated to make.

For four portions you need:

Marinated Cucumber in Ginger, Garlic and Mirin

  • 1/2 cucumber, cut in half and de-seeded
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1″ piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 red chilli, sliced (add more for extra heat)
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander

Crispy Kale

  • 200g fresh kale
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • sprinkle of sea salt flakes

Crispy Tofu

Avocado with Lime and Ginger

  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger

Other

  • 225g sushi rice, cooked according to the packet instructions
  • 2 tbsp toasted mixed seeds
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and then peeled into ribbons
  • 1/4 red cabbage, finely shredded
  • Remaining lime to garnish
  1. Begin by pressing the tofu. Use a press if you have one and if not, drain the tofu, wrap in a thick tea towel and place on a plate and put a very heavy weight on top of it – I use a cast iron pan and a 4kg kettlebell! Ideally press overnight or for at least an hour.
  2. Cook the sushi rice and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Cut the cucumber into slices about .25cm thick. Place in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and set aside to marinate whilst you make the rest of the dish.
  4. Place all the avocado ingredients together in a bowl and leave to one side.
  5. I use my air fryer to cook the kale – simply place everything in the fryer and cook for 5-7 mins until crispy. If you don’t have an air fryer then cook in a single layer in a hot (220 degrees) oven for 8-10 mins.
  6. Cut the tofu into 1cm cubes. Heat the oil in a wok until very hot then fry the tofu, tossing it frequently to ensure even cooking. This will take about 10 mins. Add the poke sauce to the pan and heat briefly. Take off the heat and assemble your bowls. Sprinkle with the seeds and squeeze over the lime. Eat. Feel simultaneously smug and amazed you made something this good!