Monthly Archives: December 2013

Recipe: Tofu Scramble


When I first went vegetarian and had a look on the web for things to cook, I came across the concept of ‘tofu scramble’ as a substitute for scrambled eggs. I have to say the idea filled me with horror. Tofu is not egg and I thought it would be the worst kind of fakery and substandard substitution that would fool nobody. But it’s one of those things that I kept on seeing online and some people seemed to like it. Then I found this recipe which frames the concept of tofu scramble not as a scrambled egg substitute, but as an addition to a breakfast menu. The only concession to fakery is leaving in the turmeric – it really does help with the appearance of the dish, it does look a bit grey and grim without it.

So here is my version. Not something trying to be scrambled eggs, but a tasty start to the day that stands on its own feet.

Tofu scramble photo DSCN1024_zps2de35550.jpg

1 onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
pinch chilli flakes, or chilli powder
150g firm tofu, cubed
8-10 mushrooms, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
4 tsp mushroom ketchup or vegetarian worcestershire sauce
handful chopped fresh parsley

Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the onion, red pepper and chilli flakes until the onion is going translucent.
Add in the tofu, mushrooms, tomatoes, turmeric and mushroom ketchup.
Stir vigorously – the idea is to break up the tofu into crumbly pieces.
When the mushrooms are cooked and the mixture has lost a lot of its liquid, season with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped parsley.

Serves 2 on toast

Recipe: Mushroom Pate


This is based on a wonderful recipe I found over here at the Penniless Vegetarian’s blog. I can guarantee that the original tastes wonderful, but I wanted to mix it up a little tp make it my Christmas starter this year. I have some chestnut puree for the nut part and I decided that dill would make a nice swap for the sage and carry hints of gravalax – one of the things I miss since going veggie.

Serve this with toast or crackers and maybe some cucumber salad along side.

 photo DSCN1016_zps7a327244.jpg

400g mushrooms, very finely chopped
4 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp mushroom ketchup (or vegetarian worcestershire sauce, or soy sauce)
100g chestnut puree
1/2 pack fresh dill, finely chopped

Heat some oil in a frying pan and add the mushrooms, garlic, shallots and mushroom ketchup.
Sweat over a medium heat until the shallots are cooked and the liquid has been driven off from the mushrooms.
Remove from the heat and stir in the chestnut puree and dill.
Season well with salt and pepper.
Leave to cool.

Serves 6 as a starter

Recipe: Parsnip and Carrot Rosti


I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with parsnips – I love them roasted, fried or boiled – I hate them mashed, pureed or souped. I think it’s a texture thing, something about a whole mouthful of soft parsnip makes me want to puke. One of my biggest culinary disappointments was when I made a big pan of curried parsnip and apple soup and couldn’t even eat a spoonful.

So I was really pleased to come across this recipe for spiced parsnip latkes. It got me thinking, if apple worked with spiced parsnip in soup, why not here? And why not a bit of carrot as well? I decided to call mine a rosti because I wanted to make a side-dish for two rather than starters/nibbles for several.

 photo DSCN1014_zps4d0f37dc.jpg

1 parsnip, grated
1 medium carrot, grated
1/2 small onion, finely sliced
1 small apple, grated
3 tbsp corn flour
1tsp curry powder

Add the ingredients to a bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
Heat some oil in a small frying pan and when hot, spoon in the mixture.
Spread out until it covers the whole of the bottom of the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium
While the mixture is cooking, keep pushing it down in the pan so that it forms a solid cake.
Cook until the bottom is golden brown or caramelised to your taste.
Carefully slide a fish-slice under the cake and flip over to cook the other side. It doesn’t matter if it breaks up, just pat the pieces back down into place.
Cook until the new bottom is golden brown.

Serves 2 as a side to a nice stew or Serves 1 for lunch – some mango chutney would go well with it.

Recipe: Chickpeas in Red Wine and Tarragon


This recipe, a kind of half-way house between nibbles and a dip, comes a roundabout route from The Pink Adobe Cookbook via one of the legendary food threads on I have served it up at most of the fangirl weekends I’ve hosted. It was a firm favourite and was known as ‘that chickpea thing’.

When making it in bulk, I’ve cooked the chickpeas from dry, but it works just as well with tinned chickpeas as long as you heat them up a little so that they absorb more of the flavours as they sit in the marinade. I think the original had a lot more olive oil, so feel free to add more in if you want to. You need to let this sit for at least six hours before serving. Overnight is even better.

You need to serve it with some crisps that can scoop up the chickpeas. Tortilla chips are great but those mini popadoms are even better.

Chickpeas in red wine photo DSCN1011_zps83063d6f.jpg

400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 120g dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked
70ml red wine
1 garlic clove, crushed
30ml vinegar
20ml olive oil
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon

If using tinned chickpeas, put them in a suitable bowl and microwave them for about a minute just to warm them through.
Add all the ingredients together, season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
Cover and leave to stand at least six hours before serving.
To serve, spoon out the chickpeas with a bit of the marinade mixture to keep them moist.
Serve with mini popadoms or tortilla chips.
Serves 2 with other dips.

Recipe: Greens and mash


I’m in trouble with the doctor. Recent blood tests showed that my Folic Acid levels were very low. She knows I’m a vegetarian and fixed me with a beady stare, commenting that of course I was eating my leafy green vegetables …

I shuffled my feet and confessed that while I’ve been ill, my eating patterns have been very patchy. So I left the surgery with a promise to take Folic Acid supplements and to get down to the supermarket and stock up on spinach, kale and the like.

And so far I’ve been pretty good about eating my greens. I’ve been looking for recipes which are quick and easy, as I don’t always feel up to cooking, and which incorporate ingredients likely to tempt my suddenly very erratic and fussy appetite.

Which leads me to mashed potato, my go-to comfort food. And courtesy of my brother and Nigel Slater, I’ve found two fabulous ways of using leafy greens. I was perfectly happy with them as they came, but you could also use them as accompaniments to veggie sausages or even a nut roast.


Make up as much mashed potato as you can scoff. Plain with just butter/milk works best for variation 1. For variation 2, I mixed in a touch of wholegrain mustard and some finely-grated veggie parmesan. I always use industrial amounts of black pepper!

Variation 1 (from a Nigel Slater recipe)

Cavolo nero



When the potatoes are almost cooked, shred the cavolo nero fairly finely. I’m not used to frying stuff in butter, but I have to admit it did taste good when I cooked the greens in it – they need four to five minutes until they’re tender. If it’s very stalky, cook those first, then addd the leaves for last minute or two. Tip the cavolo nero out and crumble the cheese into the pan (use some more butter if you want to) and let it melt slightly. Nigel Slater’s recipe involved finely chopped rosemary leaves cooked in the butter before you add the cheese, but I didn’t have any to hand and I thought the recipe was fine without it. Mash the potatoes, make a well in the middle, then pile on the cavolo nero. Tip the blue cheese (and any juices left) over the mash.


Variation 2 (from my brother Jon)




Cook and mash the potatoes – and this recipe is more fun if you add something to the mash. My brother recommended strong cheddar or wholegrain mustard, but I’m trying to limit how much cheese I have, so I went for about half a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, and a couple of tablespoons of vegetarian parmesan. It’s easy to make this variation vegan by using dairy-free spread, and by leaving cheese out of the mash. You could maybe chop spring onions finely and add them instead, or make garlic mash, or even use some horseradish.

Wilt the spinach and lift out of the pan. Add the juice of half a lemon and a knob of butter to the liquid and whisk. Make a well and tip the juices over the spinach and the mash.

This second variation is in the photo – and apologies for the shadows. That’s what comes of trying to take pix on a winter night!

Recipe: Artichoke and Spring Onion Dip


This is a little gem of a dip. It’s quickly made from store-cupboard ingredients, but it has a lovely savoury flavour. It’s great if you want something lighter than the usual creamy dips and if you want something just that bit different.

Artichoke dip photo DSCN1009_zps284d863d.jpg

400g tin of artichoke hearts, drained
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp lemon juice

Put the ingredients in a blender, keeping some of the spring onions back as a garnish.
Blend until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve, sprinkled with the remaining spring onions

Serves 2, with other dips

Recipe: Veggie BLT sandwich


I’ve never had a bacon sarnie in my life, and the only sausage sandwiches I’ve had have been this year and involved veggie ones. As you may have gathered, I’m not struck on recreating pig products (or any other meat, for that matter) with vegetarian alternatives.

But I admit to having been intrigued by the following recipe, which I found years ago when the Metro newspaper started up and used to have a rinky-dinky recipe column based on the premise of quick meals for that night’s dinner. And yes, it’s a vegetarian version of a BLT sandwich – not one you can wrap up and take to work, unless you like cold halloumi, but one you can dress up for lunch or supper with some potato wedges and dips on the side.

The first time I had halloumi was when I made this sandwich. It bemused me a bit at first when it squeaked between my teeth and didn’t melt, but it grew on me, particularly when I discovered how much a lemon dressing pepped it up (courtesy of a Turkish restaurant in Norwich) and how I tolerated it much better than cow’s milk cheese.


Method (serves 1)
A large ciabatta roll (or half a bigger loaf, depending how hungry you are)
Three slices of halloumi cheese
A large tomato, sliced (make it a decent one and not the blotting paper variety)
Fresh lemon juice

Heat the ciabatta through in the oven while you’re dry-frying the halloumi. When the bread is warm, slice it in half and grill it lightly on both sides. Spread hummus on the flat sides and then pile on the halloumi slices, followed by the tomato, topped by the rocket. Drizzle lemon juice over, and add salt and pepper if you like. If you’re hungry, add potato wedges on the side, with salsa or guacamole to dip them in.

Recipe: Pea Guacamole


There is an apocryphal story about Peter Mandelson, one of Labour’s original spin-doctors, who when going around his constituency of Hartlepool, called into a fish and chip shop. He ordered fish and chips and then pointed to a pot of green stuff on the counter – “And I’ll have some of that guacamole,” he said. The ‘guacamole’ was mushy peas.

That story is almost certainly untrue, but you can make guacamole with peas instead of avocados. It doesn’t taste the same (obviously) but it’s sweet and spicy, cheaper than using avocados, has fewer calories and you can rustle this up in minutes if you have unexpected guests round. It also does well as a side dish to chilli and rice or as a filling in quesadillas.

Mandelson Dip anyone?

Pea Guacamole photo PeaGuacamole_zpseb090219.jpg

200g frozen peas
1/2 red onion
1/2 red chilli
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp fresh coriander
juice of 1/2 lime
2 tbsp olive oil
sweet chilli sauce (optional)

Cook the frozen peas in boiling water until just tender (about 5 minutes).
Drain the peas and add to a food processor with the onion, chilli, garlic, coriander, lime juice and olive oil.
Blend until it becomes a smooth paste.
Put in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Add more oil if the mixture is too dry.
Serve drizzled with the sweet chilli sauce.

Serves 2 with other dips