Monthly Archives: April 2014

“Pad Thai”

There are inverted commas around the title as I’m not saying this is especially authentic, but given that most Pad Thai dishes from a Thai restaurant are very oily then that’s not such a bad thing.  This still has that sweet, sour and salty thing going on, and I’ve added more vegetables than you usually get in a Pad Thai (like none, usually!).  OK I know it’s white rice noodles which aren’t the healthiest thing in the world, but we see this is a “treat meal” so it’s not on weekly rotation! This is a crafty way of getting cabbage into children as they disappear into the noodles once they’re cooked.  I got most of the ingredient ideas from watching Marion Grasby cook it on her TV show, then I veganised it!  I like the classic version without chilli, but you can add hot sauce on the top at the end.  We like to garnish ours with fresh coriander leaves, toasted cashews rather than peanuts, and lime wedges.

2014-04-16 19.43.05

"Pad Thai"
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Noodles
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4
  • 400g wide rice pad thai style noodles
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 12 teaspoons coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 pack marinated tofu cubes: sweet chili / thai / garlic flavour
  • 2 pink shallots
  • 1 small savoy cabbage
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 6 spring onions
  • 1 bag beansprouts
  • 2 limes
  • Sweet chilli sauce
  • Fresh coriander
  • Raw cashew nuts
  1. Put the noodles in a large deep bowl and cover with very hot water (not boiling) and leave to stand.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the water, tamarind paste, coconut sugar, tomato paste, lemon and lime juices and soy sauce. Taste it and adjust to your palate - it should be equally sour, salty and sweet.
  3. Finely slice the shallots, cabbage and capsicum, chop up the coriander and slice the limes into wedges. Toast the cashews.
  4. Put the tofu cubes into a sieve / colander and pour boiling water over to remove the excess oil from the marinade. Cut the pieces into 1cm cubes if too large.
  5. Heat your wok or very large frying pan and add the shallots, cabbage and capsicum. Once starting to wilt, drain the noodles and add to the wok and mix in well, immediately adding your sauce - you may not need all of it, keep some on reserve if you like to pour over once served up.
  6. Stir in the tofu, beansprouts and chopped spring onions.
  7. Once hot and thoroughly mixed (not too long as you need to preserve some crunch in the beansprouts), serve! Top with toasted nuts, freshly chopped coriander, and offer extra sauce / soy sauce / sweet chilli and a lime wedge on the side.


Savoy Cabbage and Red Lentil Stew

2014-04-15 19.07.09

This was inspired by an old favourite dish Spiced Red Lentils with Cabbage by Mary Gwynn in a much loved and now old and battered cookbook from the 1990s!  That was the introduction to me of the amazing combination of caraway seeds and cabbage.  This has developed over time into this dish, which is bulked out with the addition of more cabbage, chickpeas and some other herbs & spices and then made creamy with the hoummus and zingy with lime juice.

Savoy Cabbage and Red Lentil Stew
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Stew
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup red split lentils
  • 1 tsp "steak seasoning" (combination of black pepper, onion, coriander, chili, cumin, oregano, garlic, mustard, etc)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • ½ cup tomato pasta based sauce
  • 1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup passata
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 100g baby spinach
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ⅓ cup hoummous
  1. Place a wide-based large casserole e.g . Le Creuset / saucepan (which has lid) on a medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic, then add the cabbage, dried spices and herbs, stir well to combine. Turn down the heat, add a splash of stock or water, place on the lid and allow to steam for around 5 minutes or until cabbage is wilted, take care it doesn’t catch or burn.
  2. Add the lentils, tomato sauce, passata, paste and stock. Replace the lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils have disintegrated.
  3. Stir in the spinach and chickpeas, parsley, lime and hoummus and simmer for another few minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve. We had ours with brown rice and runner beans.

Pasta, Pea & Broccoli Bake

2014-04-13 19.29.07
Another simple family friendly meal.  There’s something about the combination of peas and pasta, I’m not sure what it is but I find it hard not to add frozen peas to almost any pasta meal.  This is made extra special by the addition of breadcrumbs and baking it, rather than it being just pasta and sauce but if you’re pushed for time that would be just fine too.  We were so hungry and keen to dig in that we forgot to take any pictures of it dished up, so you’ll have to wait til next time for that!  Believe me it was delicious and we all had 2nds.  This actually serves 6 reasonable sized portions.  🙂

Pasta, Pea & Broccoli Bake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Bake
Cuisine: Italian-ish
Serves: 6
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
  • ½ cup cashews, soaking
  • 2 cups soy milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • ½ tsp marmite / miso
  • 1 tsp chicken style stock powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp agave syrup / rice malt syrup
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 small roasted red capsicum from a jar
  • 300g wholemeal pasta penne/ fusilli/ orecchiette
  • 1 large head of broccoli, divided into small florets
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 slices wholemeal bread, made into breadcrumbs in a food processor.
  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Put the cashews into some boiling water and set aside.
  3. Put Pasta on to cook and find the baking dish you want to use – a lasagne style one works well.
  4. Put on a kitchen timer so you can add the frozen peas to the pasta 2 minutes before it’s ready.
  5. Fry the onions in a dry frying pan, in a splash of stock /water and stir occasionally until browning and softened.
  6. Add the soy milk to the pan, then and add all the flavourings - the bay leaf, mustard, lemon juice, marmite, stock powder, salt, agave, yeast, spices, tahini, and capsicum and stir well. Add the soaked cashews, the onions, and simmer for 10 minutes over a gentle heat.
  7. Remove the bay leaf, blend with a stick blender, add the cornflour and blend again. Allow it to thicken, stirring constantly until flour is cooked out. – around 5 minutes. Taste and adjust lemon / salt / sweet balance.
  8. Whilst the sauce simmers, check the pasta and peas are cooked, drain and set aside in a large bowl. Steam the broccoli for 6 minutes over the same water to save using another pot.
  9. Once broccoli is just tender, mix in with the pasta in the bowl, pour over all the sauce and mix thoroughly. Pour into your baking dish, top with the breadcrumbs and spray quickly with an oil spray.
  10. Put in the oven for 25 minutes, until bubbling and breadcrumbs are golden.

Pressure Cooker Vegetable Curry

2014-04-08 19.31.10

Don’t worry if you don’t have a pressure cooker (though I seriously recommend you get one!) as you can do this in a regular casserole / large saucepan with a good fitting lid, it will just take longer.  I have this one if you’re interested, which combines slow cooker, pressure cooker, steamer, rice cooker, soup maker etc functions, but I use the pressure option most often.  We actually got ours with Flybuys points!

This cooks for 13 minutes, the same time as my rice cooker took to do the rice so it really does save time!  You can also cook dried beans without even soaking if you are running short on time, which also saves money as well, as bags of dried beans are way cheaper than the canned variety and also avoids the BPA issue.  It’s a big win win!

You can use whatever vegetables you have around, maybe follow mine the first time so you get an idea of the volume required.  Also we often use this tofu in curries as it’s got such a great texture.  Not in this picture though, I just used regular plain tofu, cubed.

This makes a huge amount (I can never make a small amount of curry for some reason…!), enough for us for 2 meals.

If you’re not using a pressure cooker this will probably need to simmer for around 30-40 minutes.

Pressure Cooker Vegetable Curry
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Curry
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 8
  • The vegetables you choose are completely up to you, I've made this twice recently with 2 different combinations. To give you an idea of volume, this is what I used yesterday:
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 4 small potatoes
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 leek
  • 1 large handful green beans
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Then the other ingredients:
  • 250 g plain firm tofu, cubed, or a packet of marinated tofu pieces
  • 1 can chickpeas, or home-made - 1.5 cups.
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups passata / canned tomatoes - blended
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 heaped tablespoon vegetable stock powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon (mild or to your taste) curry powder
  • ¼ cup raw cashews
  • ½ cup soy /almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut essence
  • To serve:
  • Chopped coriander
  • Low fat plain soy yogurt
  • Mango chutney
  • Dessicated coconut
  1. If you have soaked cashews all the better but if not, place them in a small pan and cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer.
  2. Chop the potatoes and carrot into large pieces. Slice the leek and zucchini into 1cm slices, top and tail the beans and cut them in half. Measure out the peas.
  3. Heat your pressure cooker on the brown function if it has one (mine is electronic, if yours is the old type you can just heat it up!) and throw in the leek, stir it around for a minute or two then add all the other vegetables.
  4. Put on your rice to cook.
  5. Add all the other ingredients, stir thoroughly, close the lid, set the cooker to High Pressure and set for 13 minutes, and Start.
  6. Drain your cashews, place in a high speed blender, add the soy /almond milk and coconut essence. Blend until very smooth.
  7. Once the curry has finished cooking, reduce the pressure, then stir through the cashew cream and the peas. Serve with the rice and necessary accompaniments!



PPK’s Butternut Alfredo with Penne and Peas

This is just amazing, the sauce is a revelation!  If you haven’t tried any of Isa Chandra Moskowitz‘s recipes, this is a great one to start with!  I think it’s the sage and the wine that makes it so amazing. I’ve made this a few times now and every time it blows me away!  I reduced the sage to half a tsp as it’s quite a strong flavour so wasn’t sure how it would go down with my 2 children. We just bought a high speed blender and it really made the sauce super smooth, I only soaked the cashews for an hour.

Isa’s blog Post Punk Kitchen was one of the 1st ones I found when searching for recipes when I dropped the eggs and dairy a few years ago and she is still one of the most inventive vegan chefs around.  She does use some oil which I try very hard to avoid completely, so some recipes do need to be amended, but that’s easily done.  This one we had with wholegrain penne, a little added roast butternut squash, and topped with some toasted pine nuts.  SO GOOD!

Here‘s link to the original recipe.  All I changed was the miso – I only had a rich red barley one (which might explain the richer colour I got in my sauce) so only used 1 heaped tablespoon, I omitted the olive oil, and just the 1/2 tsp of rubbed sage leaves and I added a cup of frozen peas to the pasta cooking water a couple of minutes before the end.

Here is the picture of my bowl:

2014-04-07 18.20.28

Shepherdess Pie

This one goes back a long way, probably 20 years.  Proper English comfort food, minus the lamb or beef!  I don’t know where the name came from, or why it is necessarily the female version of the dish once the meat is replaced with lentils, but we absolutely love it  – although it serves 6 (there are 4 of us!), it rarely goes into the fridge for the next day..! 🙂

2014-04-06 18.16.58

5.0 from 1 reviews
Shepherdess Pie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Bake
Cuisine: English
Serves: 6
  • 6 medium / large potatoes (about 800g-1kg / 28-35 oz)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 2 medium carrots
  • A dozen button mushrooms (about 200g/7 oz)
  • 1 cup passata (or pureed canned tomatoes)
  • ½ cup red lentils
  • ½ cup Puy / French blue-green lentils
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1 heaped tsp vegetable stock powder
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup soy milk (approx.)
  1. Peel and cut the potatoes into large chunks, put into a large saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil.
  2. Prepare all the vegetables – dice the onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms into small dice (around the same size as peas and corn), and crush the garlic.
  3. Put the onion, garlic, celery, carrot and mushrooms in large casserole pan, and sauté with a splash of water or stock until tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile measure out the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Add the passata, lentils, peas and corn, stock powder, tomato paste, herbs, water and bring to the boil. Simmer, covered, for around 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to check it isn't sticking on the bottom.
  6. Whilst the lentils are simmering, check the potatoes, and once tender, drain well and mash til very smooth with soy milk (or your preference) and salt and pepper.
  7. Transfer the lentils to an oven proof lasagne-style dish, top with the mash and smooth out.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbling and top crisp.
  9. Serve with steamed green vegetables or roasted cauliflower.


Mushroom, Leek and Potato Gratin

These have to be three of my most favourite ingredients, so anything with them all has to be a winner in my book!  I came up with this after trying to decide what to cook for dinner.  A quick look in the fridge, and finding I had both leeks and mushrooms which needed eating, and (I always have) potatoes, so….  After Googling for a while I found this recipe by Bits Of Carey and decided to veganise it, making a couple of other changes.   Was really good and a family hit!

2014-04-01 19.45.41

4.0 from 1 reviews
Mushroom, Leek and Potato Gratin
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Bake
Serves: 4-6
  • 6 medium/large potatoes, boiled until just cooked.
  • 2 medium leeks, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • White wine / stock / water
  • 500g brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 500ml soy milk
  • 4 tablespoons cornflour
  • ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 T coconut aminos / soy sauce / tamari
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • Salt and fresh black pepper.
  1. Whilst the potatoes are boiling, heat a large frying pan on a medium heat and dry sauté the leeks and garlic for a few minutes until softened. Add a small splash of white wine to stop them sticking.
  2. Add the mushrooms, thyme and coconut aminos, mix in well, and cook until the mushrooms have released their liquid and it has evaporated.
  3. Blend thoroughly the cornflour in a cup with some of the soy milk, then stir it into the pan with the leeks and mushrooms, whisking all the time. Slowly add the rest of the milk bit by bit, then cook off the flour – about 3 minutes. Bring to a gentle simmer, still whisking constantly (I have a wooden whisk which I use in my non-stick pan) to avoid any lumps forming.
  4. Add the lemon juice and test / adjust the seasoning. Turn off the heat.
  5. Once potatoes are just tender, drain and slice into ½ cm slices.
  6. Take a lasagne style dish and place in a very small layer of sauce, (saves needing to use any oil) then top with a half of the potatoes (mine made enough for just 2 layers, but 3 would be nice too!).
  7. Top with another layer of sauce, the rest of the potatoes, then the rest of the sauce.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until bubbling and browning on the top. Serve with steamed green vegetables like broccoli and beans.