Category Archives: Plant-based food

Technology, how I love you…

Friends, I apologise: it has been far too long since my last post. A new laptop and a new iPad mean that I’ve been having a bit too much time configuring and reordering data and very little doing any special cooking.

The good news is that my iPad is now blog enabled so I will likely be posting more often.

To make it up to you all I’ll add two new fast recipes for you today. The first is the delightful soup I made for lunch today: fennel & celeriac. Get one of each, chop into small pieces and put in a pot with 1/2 cup of water with a teaspoon each of butter and veg or chicken bouillon powder. Once the veg is soft, zizz until smooth, adding milk if required. finish off with a generous dollop of crime fraiche or yogurt and a generous grinding of pepper.

Enjoy immediately.


Banana and chocolate chip bread and butter pudding

This is a quick and easy dessert that uses up two kitchen perennials: over ripe bananas and slightly stale bread.  I tend to use a two inch deep pyrex dish for this  as I love the cruchy/caramelised topping and my partner prefers the mushy creamy underside.   If you like the topping better, use a shallower dish to provide more surface area.


  • 2 overripe bananas (I pop bananas in the freezer as soon as they start turning black.  You can peel and slice them straight from the freezer)
  • A loaf of slightly stale bread (I wouldn’t use rye or anything savoury, of course but this works great with just about any bread: raisin loaf, white, whole wheat, panettone, brioche… whatever!)
  • Vanilla
  • Turbinado / Demerara sugar (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 cups of milk
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • a handful of chocolate chips


  1. Cut the bread up into good sized chunks (about 1 inch) and place in dish.
  2. Add the sliced up bananas and sprinkle with the chocolate chips.
  3. In a large measuring cup, combine milk and vanilla.   Add butter and microwave until milk is hot enough to finish melting the butter.  Whisk and pour quickly over the bread (you want the butter to be fairly homogeneously distributed).
  4. Sprinkle with the sugar.
  5. Bake in a hot oven (about 180 but that depends on your oven) until the whole thing puffs up a bit and the edges of the bread pieces on top start to darken.
  6. Serve immediately topped with vanilla icecream.  (left overs can be warmed again, or eaten cold)

Hearty Hearthy Earthy Potage

The weather in Glasgow at the moment is horrendous.   Strong winds, cold rain… and grey skies that make it seem dark by two in the afternoon.   Last week we even had hurricane force winds.

Given that weather, all I really want to do is curl up in front of the fire with a warm, hearty bowl of soup.   When I was a kid, mom always started supper with a soup in the winter (and sometimes in summer).  The game for us kids was to guess the ingredients.

If you are trying to lose weight, or ensure you get your 5 a day, then soup is an excellent way to achieve those goals.  You can easily make a soup using just vegetables and with very little fat or carbs, while increasing fibre intake.

This week, I made a very nice soup that I wanted to share:

  • 1 butternut (or other) squash, halved and seeded.
  • 1 onion, quartered.
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup of tomato juice
  • seasoning to taste – I used cayenne pepper, paprika, celery salt, and nutmeg.
  1. Arrange the vegetables on a baking tray.
  2. Bake vegetables in a medium oven until the edges become dark.
  3. Remove from oven and remove the peel from from the pepper and the squash.
  4. Put all the vegetables and seasonings in a blender with the tomato juice.
  5. Liquidize. (you may need to add a bit more tomato juice to get the desired consistency)
  6. In a pot, heat the soup once more to the desired temperature.
  7. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a piece of rustic bread (if desired).

Roasting the vegetables gives them an earthier flavour and allows you to soften the onion and the squash without adding water for a richer flavour.



In a jam…

My view on jam is this: why bother making plain jam in flavours you can get at the grocery store?  This week, I’ve made two variation on strawberry jam, and it’s a real quandary which I like better.

Option 1: Strawberry-ginger:  This is a combination that I love.   The main point in making strawberry cordial is so that I can add some to my ginger beer.   This has all that concentrated summer delight in a single jar.

Option 2: Orange-infused Strawberry vanilla jam.   This was an experiment.   But seems to be Des’s favourite at the moment.

In both cases the basic recipe is the same:

4 parts strawberries

3 parts sugar

Clean and hull the strawberries then quarter them. [Tip:  If you want to make cordial, mash up the strawberries with 1/4 of the sugar and allow to sit overnight.   You can then strain them and the liquid is the cordial that you can add to drinks, etc.  Use the strawberries as normal.]

In a large-bottomed pot, combine remaining sugar (or all of it if you skipped the cordial bit] and the juice of a lemon if you are making the ginger version, or the juices of a lemon and an orange if you are making the vanilla version.

For the ginger version add a generous amount of finely minced ginger (use fresh ginger that you mince yourself.   The pre-minced version might have preservatives etc. that will react in unpredictable ways with the jam).   I used a piece that was about the length of my hand!  Before adding the fruit, run the syrup through a sieve and reserve the collected ginger while returning the syrup to the heat.    You can gradually reincorporate this at the end so that you can exactly incorporate it to your taste.  If you want very spicy jam, you could add a chili at this point.   I didn’t.

For the vanilla version, add finely chopped orange zest.   I used about 1 tablespoon of fresh zest for 1 kg of fruit.

If you want to add a thickening agent add it now. I used agar rather than gelatine because one jar is ear-marked for a vegetarian friend.    If you don’t want to use a thickening agent, then use equal weights of sugar and fruit.

Bring to a boil stirring often.  Remove the fruit, leaving the syrup and allow that to boil down by three quarters.    Return the fruit and heat through. Add the vanilla or minced ginger.

Pour into sterilised jam jars.   I can’t be bothered with wax rings etc.   I just fill the jars right to the top and seal them while they are hot, creating a vacuum.

Allow to cool then label.


Orange Poppy Seed Cake

The secret to this (and pretty much any other cake) is to whip as much air as possible into the butter and sugar mixture.

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 170g self-raising flour
  • 170g golden caster sugar
  • 50g chopped pistachios
  • 3 large eggs
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 50g poppy seeds
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 3 oranges
  1. In the mixer bowl, combine the eggs and caster sugar.    Whip on the highest setting until volume has at least doubled (for me, this was setting 10 on the kitchen aid mixer, for about 5 minutes).
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, the almonds, the zest of two of the oranges, and all  but a tablespoon of the poppy seed and pistachios.
  3. Gradually mix into the butter mixture.
  4. Add the juice of the two oranges.
  5. Pour into a greased loaf pan.    Cook at 180C until knife inserted into centre of cake comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool.
  7. Mix the remaining poppy seeds, pistachios, and the zest of the remaining orange in a bowl and set aside.
  8. In a bowl, combine the icing sugar with just enough juice from the remaining orange to obtain a thick liquid icing.    Pour over the cooled cake.
  9. Sprinkle the zest/pistachio/poppy seed mix over the top.
  10. Enjoy 🙂

Cucumber & Mint Salad

Last week, a coworker explained to me that he really needs super simple recipes for supper.    With the great weather we’re having here in Glasgow, what immediately came to mind is a simple cucumber and mint salad. And when I say simple…

  • 1 cucumber cut up into chunks
  • 1 plain greek yogurt
  • 1 generous handful of fresh mint leaves (finely chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
In a bowl, thoroughly mix everything except the cucumber.
Then add the cucumber.
Serve cold.

Sweet potato juliennes with sauce

Sweet potato juliennes should be easy for you to figure out: cut your sweet potato into thin slices, then thinly slice them again lengthwise to get very skinny fries (unless you have a mandolin or a food processor that can do it for you).

Toss them with a blend of spices.   I tend to favour eastern spices and I load them on, toss the juliennes with the spice mix, and then drizzle a bit of oil and toss again.    Cook in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes.   (I like when the ones on the edge become slightly burnt, but you may prefer to take them out sooner).

Dipping sauce is simply something to counter the hot spicy-ness of the juliennes.

tonight I mixed:

  • a tablespoon of fresh chopped basil
  • a quarter teaspoon of veg bouillon powder
  • sour cream
  • a dash of mayo
  • and a hint of cayenne pepper.
The sauce was the best part of the meal, in my opinion. 😉