Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Strawberry, blood orange and mint sweet

This is a very fresh, sweet and light end to a meal. The combination of fresh seasonal strawberries and blood oranges are stellar! 

1 punnet strawberries, sliced
2-3 blood oranges, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1 good sprig of mint, finely shredded
2 dsp brown sugar

Combine the strawberries, blood orange rounds, mint and brown sugar in a bowl and let macerate for ~30 minutes. Serve and enjoy :)

Aubergine dip

This dip is great served with turkish bread, carrot sticks and olives.

1 Aubergine, peeled and diced into small cubes
1 large clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper
2 C water (+ extra if needed)
a good sprig of mint, finely chopped
a generous stalk of dill, finely chopped
1 scallion, finely sliced
a stalk of Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon

Throw the aubergine, garlic, salt & pepper and water into a wok and cover with a lid.
Cook for about 5-10 minutes and when the aubergine is soft and pretty much cooked, add the herbs, scallion and lemon juice and check for seasoning. Add water if it looks like it's sticking. Sauté a little longer. Turn heat off and then transfer to a food processor and blend until the consistency you desire.
Scrape out into a bowl and put in the fridge to cool (or freezer for a slightly more rapid cool). Just before serving, check for seasoning and add a little more salt, lemon juice or some extra mint or dill if required.

Arugula, red cabbage and pear Asian salad

This is a quick throw-together salad, with lovely accents of crisp sweet pear and lightly peppery arugula.


2 tsp kecap manis
2 tsp mirin
1 tsp soy
1 tsp dijon mustard
juice of half a lemon

1/4 small red cabbage, shredded
1 small bag of arugula
1 carrot, skin removed and peeled into long strips
1 pear, sliced finely
a sprig or two of Italian flat-leaf parsley, using leaves only
a few leaves of cilantro

In a small bowl whisk together the kecap manis, mirin, soy, dijon and lemon juice.
Throw the rest of the ingredients together in a salad bowl. Dress and toss just before serving!
Easy as that :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

A beet, bean & almond side

This is another simple side.. and really one of the only reasons i think i'm blogging it is to show off the MASSIVE beetroot i happened upon in the grocery store! It deserved it's picture taken, although i'm not sure me holding it quite illustrates the scale.. it was the size of about 4 apples put together :)

1 beetroot - about 1/4 the size of the one i've shown here!
Juice of 4 oranges
1 C water
salt & pepper
3 T brown sugar
1 small bag green beans, top and tailed and cut into 1 inch pieces.
1/2 C almonds (for a more elegant side dish, slice them nicely instead of serving them whole).

Wash the beetroot thoroughly and cut into rough wedges, skin still on.
Throw the wedges into a medium sized pot and add the orange juice, water, salt & pepper and finally the brown sugar. 
Bring to a boil and then simmer with the lid on for ~ 15 or until the beetroot is soft through (if you poke it with a skewer and it goes right through it's perfect)
Remove the beet wedges from the juice, remove skin and cut into desired size dice.
Steam the green beans.
Place in a serving dish with the beet dice and add the almonds.
You can choose to dress it with a little of the remaining beet juice, a tsp of dijon and some finely diced parsley, or, if serving along with a bunch of other dishes, you can keep it ultra simple and nude of dressing :)

Poppa's Field Mushrooms :)

This one goes out to my Poppa. I never liked mushrooms when he took me on my very first ever mushroom hunt.. but I eat them almost every night now that i'm a dastardly oil-free plant-arian :)

Serves: As side dish, or good for snacks.

As many mushrooms as you can fit in your cast iron oven dish
salt & pepper
1 large clove garlic, minced
shredded parsley
zest of 1 lemon & juice from half
a little vegetable broth

Sprinkle mushrooms with all the ingredients and roast in a moderately hot oven for about 20 minutes.
As soon as you can start to smell them, they're about ready :)
Delicious hot or cold.

Quick warm rice noodle lunch salad

This lunch literally takes 10 minutes to make. Quick, warm and satisfying :)

1 small clove garlic, finely diced
1 tomato, finely diced
1/2 red chili, finely diced
3 T kecap manis
1 pk rice noodles, sliced into thick ribbons
1 C water
1 can drained straw mushrooms
1/2 bunch of steamed chinese broccoli (or you can use fresh baby spinach, which will wilt down super quick.. i had left over chinese broccoli in my fridge that i wanted to use up).
1 sprig cilantro, finely diced
To serve: a dash of sweet chili sauce and a sprinkling of fried onions!

In a small fry pan throw the garlic, tomato, chili and kecap manis, sauté roughly and then throw in the rice noodles and the water. Cover with a lid and give it a shake after a few minutes, so the noodles aren't tempted to stick.
After about 5 minutes, remove the lid and add the straw mushrooms, the chinese broccoli or baby spinach and the cilantro.
Whack the lid back on for another few moments, give things another rough shake and it's done.
Serve with a swish of sweet chili sauce and a sprinkling of wicked fried onions!!
Deeeelicious :)

Aubergine pomodoro wholewheat pasta with sicilian olives

This is a perfect pasta for a night in early spring, with the warm depth of the slowly cooked aubergine and tomato sauce given lightness by the addition of mushrooms and red peppers thrown in right before serving. 

Serves 4-6.

1 pk wholewheat pasta
1 spanish onion, finely diced
salt & pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
2 massel cubes
~ 3 C water
1 large aubergine, peeled and finely diced 
3 cans diced tomatoes
3 large carrots, peeled & finely diced
2 zucchini, finely diced
1/2 C sliced sicilian olives
1 red chili, finely diced
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
2 handfuls sliced mushrooms
1 small red pepper, deseeded & finely sliced
2 T italian parsley
1 T capers

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add a liberal amount of salt. Add the wholewheat pasta, stirring occasionally - it takes an eon to cook!!
In a large wok, add the onion, season with freshly ground salt and pepper and add the tsp of brown sugar. Sauté quickly and then add the massel cubes and 1 C water to prevent the onion from sticking.
Add aubergine and another cup water. Cover with a lid and steam for roughly 10 minutes.
Remove lid and if the aubergine is soft go ahead and add the cans of tomato, followed by the diced carrot. Stir well and cover again, for another 10 minutes.
Remove lid and add the zucchini, sicilian olives, half the diced red chili, the vinegar and the final remaining cup of water. Stir and simmer for another 5 - 10 minutes.

By this stage the wholewheat pasta should be cooked! If not, there's no harm, you can't ruin the sauce by keeping it simmering away until the pasta is cooked. 
Once the pasta is done, fantastic. Drain and pop it back into it's pasta pot, throwing in the sliced mushrooms, red pepper, capers, parsley and remaining chili. 

Mix through and again season with salt & pepper. 
Then add the aubergine and tomato sauce. 
Mix thoroughly then voila.. your pasta is ready!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Pho :)

One of the hardest sacrifices upon taking up the plant-based lifestyle was our weekly vietnamese take-out where we would each eat a bowl of delicious pho bo soup and feel marvelously satisfied. So, about a month ago, i decided i couldn't live without it any longer... kitchen chemistry prevailed and my, i didn't realize just how much i'd missed it. Pho is all about the spice combination, so once you have those balances together, i am convinced the meatless version is better. (For those desperate to invite non plant eaters around for dinner, you can throw in some salmon pieces to satisfy them). Serves 4.

For Broth:
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp sichuan pepper
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 tsp cloves
2 tsp coriander seeds
1/8 tsp cardamon
1/2 tsp ginger powder
salt & pepper
3 cilantro roots
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 stick lemongrass, chopped into inches
zest of 1 lime and juice
3 veggo stock cubes
1 T brown sugar
8 C water

1 small eggplant, peeled and diced
1 bunch of cilantro, stems finely diced, leaves reserved for serving
1 spanish onion, finely sliced in rings
3 roma tomatoes, roughly diced
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
3 pak choi, sliced into 1 inch chunks
5 snake beans, sliced into 1 inch lengths
6 button mushrooms, sliced fine
1 can straw mushrooms

1 pkt rice noodles

Herbs and extras to serve:
Reserved leaves of cilantro bunch
1/2 bunch vietnamese basil
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1 pkt of bean sprouts
2 limes, halved

In a medium-sized pot, over med-high heat, combine all your broth ingredients and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently to intensify all the flavors. The aroma should be delectable. Check for seasoning, adding a little more salt or white pepper, lime juice or brown sugar or another stock cube to suit your particular taste.

Once you are happy with the broth intensity, sieve the liquid into a large pot, picking out the lemongrass chunks and kaffir lime leaves to also include, before discarding the other spices. (I've found you can save the cinnamon stick for another pho broth go if you're so inclined).
Bring the broth back to almost a boil and then add your eggplant and diced cilantro stems and make sure you have all the other ingredients ready to go. Once the eggplant is cooked (which takes between 5-8 minutes) you literally throw everything in together and add a little more water if necessary. Stir everything round to make sure the rice noodles disappear into the liquid (it's easier to use 2 wooden spoons to help with this). The soup will only take another 5-10 minutes to cook. You want to make sure not to overcook the noodles, so keep stirring everything round so it all cooks evenly. Taste check for seasoning. If you want to add some fish add finely diced pieces through the mix once you've removed the vegetarian portions.

To serve:
Ladle out a big bundle of noodles and veggies and broth and then add the very important toppings:
a good handful of bean sprouts, cilantro leaves, vietnamese basil leaves, 1/2 a lime, and a few pieces of red chili :)

SOOO delicious :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Carrot and medjool date and spice cake

This recipe was inspired by one I found on the fat free vegan blog which I adapted to suit my own taste buds, (ones that don't care for cloves) and tweaked here and there. It works nicely served with a little fresh minty fruit served on the side and a hot cup of tea. Note the lack of sugar for extra brownie points! The perfect amount of sweetness comes from the dates, the grated carrot and the apple sauce.

8 medjool dates, pits removed
2.5 C grated carrot (~ 4 large carrots)
1 C apple sauce
1/2 C sultanas
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 T chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamon
3/4 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
good pinch salt

Fruit side:
1 punnet strawberries, finely sliced
5 slices pineapple, finely sliced
5 mint leaves, finely shredded
1 tsp brown sugar

Line an 8x8-inch baking dish with baking paper or use a non stick silicone pan and preheat oven to 180 degrees. 
Pulse pitted dates in a food processor until they become a thick paste and battle through the task of scraping their stick mess into a bowl. 
Add the grated carrot, apple sauce, sultanas, vanilla, walnuts and all the spices and mix thoroughly with a fork. If you're feeling slightly frustrated, get in there with your hands, it's the fastest way to get things to come together.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and good pinch of salt into a bowl and then add to the carrot mix, combining everything well.
Spoon into lined baking dish and gently press the mix into the corners and smoothing the top.
Bake for ~ 45 minutes until a skewer comes out fairly clean, it may have a few crumbs on it, but no stickiness. The top will look a little dry, however when you turn it out, the top becomes the bottom, so disaster averted. And it doesn't taste at all dry. It's moist, subtly sweet with just the right amount of spice.

Just before serving throw the fruit together to serve on the side and make your cup of tea :) 
Delicious and guilt-free sweet treat!!

Eggplant, tomato and beet leaf linguine

This recipe was a 'use up the aging ingredients' winner, featuring an eggplant that had seen better days, a few aging tomatoes and a bunch of beetroot leaves going spare, that would have been a crime to waste. Thanks to a few capers and a hint of lemon zest... this became quite a delicious meal.

Serves 4


1 pk linguine

2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 eggplant, peeled and finely diced
1 massel imitation chicken stock cube
splash white wine (optional)
salt and pepper
1 C water
6 tomatoes, finely diced
small bunch beetroot leaves, stems included, shredded
2-3 T capers (to taste)
zest 1 lemon

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add a very generous sprinkling of salt and then add the pasta, stirring well and from time to time to prevent sticking. Cook according to time specified on packet, usually about 7-9 minutes, and making sure not to overcook.

For the sauce:
In a large non-stick wok, add the minced garlic and sauté briefly before adding eggplant, massel stock cube, the splash (or two) of wine, salt and pepper.
Cover, til the wine is absorbed and then add the cup of water and replace the lid.
Once eggplant is cooked (this will take roughly 10 - 15 minutes depending on your dice size) toss in the diced tomatoes, beet leaves and capers and check seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as necessary and give things a quick stir. Immediately add the cooked pasta, including a few spoonfuls of pasta water and just before serving add lemon zest. Enjoy!
This dish becomes a lovely color as the pasta absorbs the color from the beet stems :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hearty barley and veggie soup

Hearty barley and veggie soup
This soup is scrumptious. The barley gives it a lovely smooth and creamy texture and the veggies and corn give it subtle sweetness. It's a good winter or early spring soup and, like many of my other recipes, the flavor is even better the next day. Chopping the veggies is the most laborious part of this recipe, however then you just throw them in the soup pot and the only other step to take care of is cooking the barley, which i like to do separately, if i haven't remembered to pre-soak it the night before. Cooking it separately on the night seemed to save time.

Serves 4 (as main size)

125 g pearl barley
1 C water + extra as needed.
1/2 massel imitation chicken stock cube
juice from the can of corn used in the soup below

1 spanish onion, finely diced
1 leek, finely sliced
salt & pepper
4 carrots, peeled and diced
3 sticks celery, diced
1/2 C water + 4-6 C extra
1 super sized potato, peeled and diced
2 massel imitation chicken stock cubes
1/2 red capsicum, finely diced
1/2 bunch italian parsley, roughly chopped
2 large zucchini, diced
1 can corn
1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed well
1 small bag of green beans, top and tailed and then cut into small circles

I begin with the barley, and once it's on the go then i begin to chop my veggies.

In a medium sized pot, add the barley, the 1/2 stock cube and water and put it on the stove on med-high heat. Bring to the boil and then once the water begins to absorb, add more and repeat the process until the barley is cooked - this will take about 30 minutes. For the last water addition, add the juice from the can of corn. The barley when cooked should be creamy, smooth and soft to bite into - it almost takes on an oatmeal consistency.

For the soup:
In a large cast iron pot add the onion, leek, salt and pepper and stir to prevent sticking. Add the carrots and celery and then the 1/2 C water so things don't catch.
Add the potatoes, stock cubes and 4 C water.
Bring to the boil and turn down the heat. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the diced red capsicum and parsley. Add extra water as needed. Cook for another 10 minutes.
Add the cooked barley and then stir through zucchini, corn, butter beans, and green beans. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat and let sit for a further 10 minutes.
Serve with some extra parsley sprinkled on top :)

African sweet potato stew

African sweet potato stew

This is a vibrant winter's stew, extra comforting and super good for you. Don't be put off by the somewhat extensive looking ingredients list. Once you have everything assembled you throw everything into one large pot and it couldn't be easier. It also makes great left-overs for the next day :)

Serves 4

1 spanish onion, finely diced
1 small knob ginger, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon grass stick, finely diced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp coriander seeds
salt & pepper
2 tsp brown sugar
2-3 C water
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely diced, stems included
1 large sweet potato, chopped into rough square chunks
2 cans chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
2 massel imitation chicken stock cubes
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into circles
1/2 C peanut butter
5 stems silver beat, roughly chopped
1 can butter beans
1/2 red pepper, cut into squares
1 C cooked wild rice
1 can drained corn (optional).

Steamed rice to serve.

Turn the stove to med-high and to a large non stick wok add the diced onion, ginger, garlic, lemon grass, cumin, sweet paprika, gram masala, coriander seeds, salt and pepper and brown sugar. Stir roughly and don't let the ingredients catch on the bottom, adding a little of the water to help.
Add cilantro and sweet potato. Stir. 
Add canned tomatoes, bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
Stir in massel cubes adding 1 C water.
Add carrot. Stir.
Once it's bubbling, turn the heat to medium and cover with a lid for about 15 minutes, checking from time to time and adding more water along the way. 
Add the peanut butter and stir it through until it dissolves into the sauce, making it quite creamy.
Add the silver beat and cook another 5 minutes.
When the sweet potato is cooked (which will take between 20-30 minutes depending on your dice size), finally add the butter beans, red pepper, wild rice and corn. Cook another few minutes and then serve on steamed rice, either white or brown.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Brace yourself...vegan pizza!

Vegan pizza
This is cheats pizza, as i used a ready-made pizza base, however it's still delicious.. and i made the tomato sauce from scratch. Admittedly the first pizza i made was the most successful, however we ate it too quickly to allow time for photos. The key to remember - less is more. The pizza photographed had slightly too much of everything which made things taste a little steamed, rather than sizzled. So less of everything will lead to a more delicious result. 

1 ready-made pizza base.

Tomato Sauce:
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
salt and pepper
1 carrot, finely diced
1/2 massel imitation "chicken"stock cube
1 tsp oregano
1 jar tomato passata 
1 tsp sugar

sliced mushrooms
sliced spanish onion rings
sliced green pepper
halved cherry tomatoes
pineapple pieces
zucchini ribbons
kalamata olives

For tomato sauce - in a large non stick pan add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper and sauté for a few minutes, watching closely so they don't start to burn. Add carrot and massel stock cube with a splash of water so that things don't begin to stick. Stir. Add the oregano, passata and sugar. When it starts to bubble, turn the heat down and let it cook for about 20 minutes to reduce. Take it off the heat and set aside while you prep your toppings.
Slice up a storm to ready your toppings.
Spread a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce on your pizza base and then begin to layer up with veggies, remembering less is more.
Pop into the oven and cook for about 30 minutes, until the base is toasty and the veggies slightly crisped. 

Coconut, cranberry & pistachio scones

It's freezing cold.. again... and a raw carrot to cure the afternoon munchies just ain't gonna cut it, not today. I'm tired, i'm a little over it, i need to bake to switch my mind off damn it... but what, within the new confines of the oil-free, plant-based ingredients list is one to do???
And then i got a scone brainwave. A coconut one.
So here we go... and i promise the result was quite delicious.

3 C all purpose flour + extra
1/3 C caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 good pinch salt
1/3 C cranberries
1/3 C pistachios 
3/4 can coconut milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Put a square of baking paper on a flat oven tray (no greasing required).
In a medium-sized bowl combine all the dry ingredients and then add the coconut milk.
Stir roughly until it just begins to come together.
Flour a board and then turn out scone mixture and shape it together into a ball with some gentle kneading, using some extra flour if the mix is still proving too sticky.
Instead of the traditional way of rolling out the dough and cutting out scone circles, i found the dough is a little too soft for this, so i used an ice-cream scoop to scoop the right amount out onto the baking papered tray before popping them into the oven.
They don't take too long to cook, between 15-20 min (enough time to clean up and pop the kettle on for the much needed cup of tea to accompany the scones).
Serve immediately, drizzled with a little of the remaining can of coconut milk and sprinkled with a little brown sugar!
The coconut flavor is just delicious :)

Had to also include a shot of the inside :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Heaven in a bowl.. for when the weather outside is frightful!

When the weather outside was frightful... there was only one thing to do! I quickly assembled a bunch of ingredients to bring a little exotic warmth back into our lives! This is a very jazzed up version of my gram's recipe for old fashioned pineapple rice :)

Serves 2-4
(depending on just how frightful the weather is... the worse it is, the more you'll probably need to eat!)


For Pineapple Topping:
1 can pineapple circles, finely sliced (or 1/2 a fresh super sweet bethonga pineapple)
zest 1 lime
10 mint leaves, finely sliced
1 T brown sugar

For Coconut Rice:
1 can coconut milk
sprinkle of salt
2-3 T brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c jasmine rice
1 tsp cardamon spice
1 kaffir lime leaf
6 + C water


This recipe is cooked much like a risotto and thus requires constant attention. 
But not to fear, it'll only take about 30 minutes.. and the extra care makes it all the more delicious!

In a large non-stick wok add the can of coconut milk, sprinkle of salt, brown sugar and vanilla extract and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, assemble the pineapple by combining all the ingredients together and letting them macerate in a bowl, whilst the coconut rice cooks. 

Once the coconut milk mix has begun to boil add the rice and stir for a minute or so before covering with a lid for about 10 minutes.
Remove lid and stir well, adding the cardamon spice and a kaffir lime leaf.
Add 1 cup of water, stir and cover for 5 minutes.

Repeat this process much like cooking a risotto, except with the added steaming step, until the water is used up and the rice is perfectly cooked. You may need less or more water, depending on your stove.

Once the coconut rice is ready, give the bowl of macerating pineapple a quick stir...

And you're ready to serve :)
Dollop a lovely serve of coconut rice into a bowl and assemble a mound of minty pineapple on top...
finishing things off with a sprinkle of brown sugar and cardamon spice...
Heaven in a bowl!

If there are miraculously any left-overs this is a delicious treat for a winter's breakfast!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oil-free vegan pesto with linguine

Oil-free vegan pesto :)
Am incredibly proud of this one! 
Up until a few nights ago, pesto in my mind was so dependent on the use of olive oil that i wouldn't dream of attempting it on the oil-free program... however, after buying a particularly lushy bunch of organic basil, the temptation to try pesto sans oil was too great... and i'm overjoyed to report that it not only worked but was a total taste sensation! It tasted creamy, rich and delicious, but didn't leave you with that overindulged, heavy oily feeling that real pesto can.


For Pesto:
1/2 C cashews, ground
1/2 C toasted pine nuts, ground
3 cloves sautéed garlic
1/2 massel imitation "chicken" stock cube
1/2 C soy milk
1 C water
1 bunch basil
2 handfuls arugula
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt & Pepper

For Pasta:
1 packet linguine
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 massel imitation "chicken" stock cube
1/3 C water
1 punnet button mushrooms, sliced
3 zucchini, peeled in ribbons
extra water, as needed

To serve:
2 tomatoes, diced
salt & pepper
fresh basil leaves

For pesto, in a blender combine the ground cashews and ground toasted pine nuts, the sautéed garlic, stock cube, soy milk, water, basil, arugula, lemon, salt & pepper. Blend to smooth and creamy.
For pasta, bring a big pot of salted water to the boil and cook linguine until al dente.
In a large wok, saute minced garlic with the 1/2 stock cube and water, then add mushrooms and when just cooked, throw in zucchini ribbons and the cooked linguine. 
Finally stir through the pesto sauce, adding water as needed to prevent it from sticking.
Serve piping hot garnished with the fresh diced tomatoes, salt and pepper and fresh basil leaves.
If there is any pesto left-over, it keeps well in the fridge and makes a great snack spread for the next day.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Potato, mushroom, tuscan cabbage and cashew bake

Potato, mushroom, tuscan cabbage & cashew bake.


White Sauce:
1/2 c raw cashews, finely ground
1 massel imitation "chicken" stock cube
1/2 C soy milk
1 C water
salt & pepper
1 scallion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped

Vegetables for Layering:
4 dutch cream potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
salt & pepper
1 small spanish onion, finely sliced
4-5 large field mushrooms, sliced
2-3 T capers
1 handful basil leaves
1 tsp minced rosemary
1 bunch tuscan cabbage or kale, finely sliced.


To make white cashew sauce, in a blender combine the ground cashews, stock cube, salt and pepper, soy milk, water, scallion and garlic and blend well until combined and a pale green.

Slice all the vegetables and then begin the layering, beginning with a base of white sauce. 
Layer the potatoes, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, onions, capers, basil leaves, rosemary...

Add mushrooms...

Follow with a layer of the shredded tuscan cabbage/kale and then pour on more cashew white sauce and repeat layering process until out of ingredients.
Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F) covered with aluminum foil for 45 minutes and then uncovered for the last 10 minutes.
Delicious served hot as well as cold left overs for lunch the next day!

deconstructed brown rice pie

Deconstructed brown rice vegetable "pie"!

2 C brown rice
2 T toasted mix of sesame seeds, sunflower seeds & salt
2 T tahini
1 sweet potato, sliced into thick circles for steaming
1 egg plant, sliced lengthwise into 10ths
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
1 punnet button mushrooms, sliced
2 large scallions, finely sliced
1/2 massel imitation "chicken" stock cube
1 bag baby spinach leaves
1 T mirin
1 can tomato soup
1 can tomatoes
1 tsp white vinegar
6 asparagus spears.

Serves 2 starved elephant-men or 4 sensible adults!

Using inspiration from one of my favorite cook books, "let it simmer" by the god-of-cooks Sean Moran, this is my take on his Brown Rice and Vegetable Pie. This is my vegan friendly, oil free version which remains incredibly hearty, perfect for a winter's night and extremely satisfying. 


Cook brown rice using the absorption method (~6 c water: 2 c brown rice) 
While the rice is cooking prepare everything else.
Peel and slice sweet potato into big thick circles, then steam until soft in ~ 2 c water in a wok, reserving sweet potato water.
Mash sweet potatoes in separate bowl and set aside.
For eggplant, arrange eggplant segments in a steamer and cover with minced garlic and a good sprinkling of salt. Steam until soft.
To the reserved sweet potato water (which will have reduced to about 1 cup), add the 1/2 massel stock cube and a sprinkling of the sliced scallions (reserving the most part for the spinach), stir over high heat until the scallions are bright green and then add the mushrooms with a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper. 
Sauté until just cooked and set aside, reserving the sweet potato/mushroom stock water (of which there should now be only about 1/2 C left).
Check on the steaming aubergine which by this stage should almost be ready to turn off the heat.
To the reserved sweet potato/mushroom water, turning the heat up to high, add all the green scallions and sauté before adding the spinach and a splash of mirin, along with a good sprinkle of salt. Steam down spinach (which will only take a few minutes) and set aside.
If there is any liquid left over from the spinach you can throw that out and then re-use the same pan to make the tomato sauce.
Combine the can of tomato soup with a can of regular tomatoes and add 1 tsp white vinegar to balance the sweetness of the canned soup. Season with salt & pepper if necessary.
While this is heating through, for the final element, throw the asparagus spears on top of the steaming eggplant, until just cooked, literally only a minute or so, then you are ready to plate up.

To serve:
Lay a flat spoonful of brown rice on the plate and sprinkle with toasted mix of sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and salt. Drizzle 1 T of tahini over the top of this.
Add 3-4 eggplant segments.
A few spoonfuls of mushrooms.
Some steamed spinach.
2 - 3 spoonfuls of tomato sauce.
A dollop of sweet potato mash.
As the final touch balance 3 bright green asparagus spears atop the stack and sprinkle with another dash of toasted sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.

Serve :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pistachio & Chickpea Curry!
Ok, a little curry curve ball! This dish has Indian sensibilities, however was made from a pantry that fell short in the spice department.. so i had to improvise. Delightfully, it seemed to work quite tastily! Try not to be intimidated by the lengthy list of ingredients. Once you have everything out on the bench and have chopped all you need, then it's literally a matter of throwing everything in a fry pan and voila!

Serves 4 - 6


Spice flavorings -
1 heaped tsp chinese five spice
1 heaped tsp tumeric
1 flat tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground jamaican allspice
salt and pepper

Aromatics -
2 eschalots, diced
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 serrano chili, finely sliced
1/2 small nob ginger, peeled and finely diced
1 stem of lemongrass, beaten and finely diced
1 cilantro root and 1/2 bunch's worth of stems, finely diced
splash of water
1 ripe tomato, roughly diced
1 heaped tsp brown sugar
juice half lime

1/2 pound long grain brown rice (I used Trader Joe's "Brown Rice Medley" which included a delicious mix of long grain brown rice, black barley and daikon radish seeds!
2 C vegetable broth
3 C water (added through out, you may need to use a little less or a little more, depending on your stove and rice variety)

1 C diced carrot
2 zucchini, diced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed well
1/2 pound frozen green peas
1 C shelled pistachios
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Into a large hot non-stick fry pan add all the spices and then all the aromatics, stirring roughly to prevent sticking. The smell should be delicious!
Then add your rice, veggie broth and 1 C water.
This is like a low maintenance risotto. It requires far less stirring, just once in a while... and just needs you to cast your eye over things from time to time to make sure nothing's sticking.
After the rice and broth and water are bubbling nicely add your carrot and stir.
If the liquid is disappearing too quickly, add some more water.
About 10 minutes after the carrots go in, throw in your zucchini and well-rinsed chickpeas.
Again, check your liquid and add more if required. You want the rice to be moving fluidly round the pan, no sticking. You may wish to cover the pan at this time, either with a tight fitting lid or a loose piece of aluminum foil to speed up the cooking process.
About 5 minutes before serving add the frozen peas and pistachio nuts.
As soon as the rice tastes cooked, take it off the heat and stir through the cilantro leaves.
I'd say, all in all it takes about 10-15 minutes of prep and 30 minutes to cook. Not too long to wait before tucking in.

Broccoli Soup

Serves ~ 4

1 small red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, finely sliced
Salt and pepper
splash of water
1-2 heads broccoli, including stems, roughly chopped
2 zucchini, diced
6 stems asparagus, sliced into 1cm lengths
1/2 c white wine
2 cans veggie broth

To a hot medium-large sized pot add the onion, garlic and scallions and sauté with salt and pepper, adding a splash of water to prevent sticking.
Add all the green vegetables followed by the 1/2 c white wine and sweat.
Then add the cans of stock and bring to the boil.
After a few minutes of bubbling, turn it down to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft, but still a nice bright green.
At this point you can serve as is, with a good chunk of crusty bread... 
Or you can blend it and serve it with said bread, but also a dollop of the reserved unblended veggies.

The Super Smoothie
1 banana, roughly chopped
2-3 leaves of kale, shredded
2 T almond butter
1/2 glass shaved ice
3 tsp agave
1/2 glass almond milk

Blend and serve!!!
Delish :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pad Thai
Serves 3-4

4 small orange sweet potatoes
Pad Thai noodles (made from brown rice if you can find it)
1 eschallot, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
stems from 1/2 bunch cilantro finely sliced
1 wedge ginger for flavoring (to be removed before serving)
salt and pepper
1 heaped tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp agave
1 T hoisin sauce
1 splash soy
juice from 1 lime
splash of water, more if needed
1 cup green beans, cut into inch lengths
2 large puk choy, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 block medium-firm tofu sliced into 1/4 inch "steaks".
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
leaves from half bunch cilantro
thai basil leaves
black sesame seeds

Wrap sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 40 min - 1 hr, until soft and sweet.
For pad thai noodles, soak in warm water for 15-20 min until they move loosely but are still quite firm.
To a hot wok add eschallot, garlic, sliced cilantro stems, ginger wedge, salt and pepper. Stir roughly so it doesn't stick. Add a jot of water if it's getting too sticky!
Then add tamarind paste, agave, hoisin, soy and lime, with a dash more water.
Add drained pad thai noodles along with the green beans and puk choy and stir. Add more water to keep things smooth and fluid. Add the tofu carefully and arrange the noodles and veggies on top of them so that the tofu warms through.
Adjust flavors as necessary, adding more agave, hoisin or soy, or lime as necessary.
Just before serving, pile on the shredded cabbage and carrot, cilantro and thai basil and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.
Serve with the baked sweet potatoes and enjoy!

Steamed eggplant with silken tofu and green onions.

Eggplant is somewhat of a conundrum when you can't cook with oil! After much trial and error, i found that steaming it is the only way to go, to produce that soft silky texture, brought out beautifully in this chinese style dish.

Serves 4 as a side.

1 big fat beautiful eggplant, skin left on, sliced lengthways and cut into 8ths or 10ths, depending how fat the eggplant is (you can use the black skin or purple and white skinned variety, both work just as well).
Optional puk choy, rinsed thoroughly and quartered lengthwise
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced very thinly
1/2 small nob ginger, finely julienned
3-4 T shao hsing wine
1 heaped tsp brown sugar
2 T soy sauce
dash of mirin
1 block silken tofu, broken into large chunks, or diced into neat nice squares
2 green onions, finely sliced

Quarter fill with water a large pot fitted with an asian bamboo steamer. Alternatively, if you don't have the proper steamer, you can use a stainless steel vegetable steamer. I fill the water to just below the bottom of it, and then on top of it place a dinner plate and place the eggplant on top of that. Cover with the pot lid and voila - works just as well.. poor man's steamer.. just careful not to burn yourself.. things get very steamy and scauldy!

To the steamer/make-do plate & cheap-ass steamer, place the eggplant and optional puk choy and sprinkle with garlic, ginger and a little salt. Place the lid on.
Steam for about 8 minutes, or until eggplant (& puk choy) is soft.
Remove carefully and place on a serving platter. Pile the silken tofu on top immediately, to warm it through.
In a small bowl, whisk together the shao hsing wine, brown sugar, soy and mirin. Adjust to taste if necessary and drizzle over the top of the tofu and eggplant (& puk choy), finishing off by sprinkling with the green onions.

Goes very nicely with steaming hot rice and a sprinkling of black sesame seeds!

Warm carrot, fennel and wild rice side.

This is a warm side, perfect for autumn or winter.
Serves 4 (as a side dish)

1/2 c wild rice
1/2 head garlic
1 bunch of fabulous carrots - the lushiest ones you can find! Organic if you can, peeled and sliced on the diagonal .
1 bulb fennel or 2 if you're a fennel fanatic, quartered lengthwise.
salt and pepper
a light squeeze of honey
juice of 1 -2 lemons
optional splash of white wine
1 -2 C broth
1/2 bunch dill
1/3 bunch italian parsley
salt and pepper

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees F

For rice, rinse a few times and then place in a small pot, covered with about 1 C water (you can add a little more if necessary) and place on high heat, covered with a lid, until it comes to the boil.
At this point, turn heat to low and wait until all the water is dissolved. The rice is ready when it splits into flower like blooms! If it's still a bit too al dente add a little more water. Once cooked, put to the side.

Begin with the half head of garlic- this is sliced through horizontally (at the fattest part of the clove) with the skin left on. Wrap it up tightly in aluminum foil with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and place it in the oven for a head start.

In a non stick baking tray add the carrots and fennel. Season with salt and pepper and a quick drizzle of honey and add the juice of a big fat lemon.
You may add a splash of vino at this point.
Add 1 C broth. (While they are baking you may wish to add more broth, depending how quick it's evaporating - usually i will go through 2 cups liquid).
Bake for ~ 40 minutes, until carrots are the desired amount of done.

I usually put the dish altogether in the oven tray.
Remove the garlic from the oven and careful to not burn yourself, unwrap the foil and squeeze the garlic bulbs out from the garlic skin - they should just ooze out. If needs be, chop them/mash them up with a fork and add to the carrots and fennel in the oven tray.
Add the cook wild rice and stir altogether.
Add the finely diced dill and italian parsley and then season to taste with more salt and pepper and lemon juice if needs be.

Jungle Curry

This is hearty and great for entertaining. It is a coconut cream free thai/vietnamese number :)
Serves 4-6


2 C white/brown rice
6 C water
Lemon grass pieces
2 kaffir lime leaves

Aromatic base:
3 eschallots, sliced
1 large clove galirc, minced
1 green chili, finely minced (with seeds and segments if you like it hot, without if not).
1 stick lemongrass, beaten and finely minced
3 kaffir lime leaves (for flavoring, to be removed before serving)
3 thick slices of ginger or galangal root (for flavoring, to be removed before serving)
1-2 large cilantro roots (also for flavoring, to be removed before serving)
stems of 1/2 bunch cilantro, finely diced
Salt and pepper
2-3 T brown sugar
juice of 2 limes
1 heaped tsp tamarind paste (this is my fish sauce "tang" equivalent)
dash of soy
dash of mirin
1-2 C veggie broth

3-4 carrots, sliced on the diagonal
4 roma tomatoes, sliced lengthways into 6 segments
1 good handful of shitake mushrooms, sliced
2 C green beans, cut into 1inch lengths
1 yellow capsicum pepper, sliced into fine pieces, lengthwise
Optional cup green peas
1/2 bunch asparagus, bottoms cut off & stalks sliced on the diagonal
1 can of chinese straw mushrooms
1 can bamboo shoots
1 c raw cashews
1/2 bunch of cilantro leaves roughly chopped


For Rice, rinse in a colander til the water runs almost clear and then whack in a medium sized pot, cover with the water and float the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves on the top.
Cover with a lid and bring it to the boil on the highest heat setting.
Once it's bubbling, turn the heat down to the lowest setting and cook until all the water has dissolved and you have perfect fluffy rice, infused with the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.
The rice will usually be done before the curry is finished, so just leave the lid on and turn off the heat until you are ready to serve.

Prepare all the vegetables, slice and dice like a "mo fo".

To a large hot pot (i use a cast iron one, but a wok will work just as well) i add the eschallot, garlic, chili, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, cilantro root and finely diced stems and stir roughly.
Add the salt and pepper. Sauté.
Add the brown sugar, lime juice, tamarind paste, soy & mirin & stir to combine. The smell should be sensational at this point!
Add a cupful of broth to start (and you can add more as needed once all the other veggies are in).
To this aromatic bath add the carrots and give them a head start. You can put the lid on to speed this part up.
Once they are half cooked then add the tomato segments and the shitake.
Cook a little more before adding the green beans. Cook a little more.
Then add the capsicum pepper.
Add more broth.
A few minutes later add the peas, asparagus, chinese straw mushrooms, bamboo shoots & cashews. You can add more broth if you think it needs more sauce too.
Finally stir through the cilantro leaves and test for flavoring - you may like to add a touch more of brown sugar or another squeeze or two of lime.

Serve with rice and wedges of lime and a few fresh cilantro leaves.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

THE sandwich
THE bagel

Choose your favorite bread option, be it 7 grain sourdough or poppyseed bagel, slice and toast and prepare your fillings... the quantity is up to you!

1 toasted bagel cut in half/ 2 slices of toast
some slivers of spanish onion
1 roma tomato, thickly sliced
salt and pepper
some fine slices of green capsicum pepper
1/2 carrot, grated
1 radish, thinly sliced,
6 spears of tinned asparagus,
slices of tinned beetroot
6 lengthways slices of lebanese cucumber
a small handful of alfalfa sprouts (you'll be balancing by now, so add carefully!)
a leaf or two of lettuce
1/3 avocado, thinly sliced and smooched onto the top half of toast/bagel, seasoned with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice!

You will need BOTH hands for this sandwich, (possibly an extra set), your sleeves rolled up,  a big pile of napkins and a sense of humor if eating with a friend!