Baked Sweet Potato with Smokey Pinto Beans and Chipotle Cashew Sauce

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So, first of all, apologies for neglecting this blog for so long! When I was living in Berlin the flat I was in was so dark it was nearly impossible to take good photos and photos are one of the most important parts of a food blog, right? Now I’m back in Scotland life is brighter – or at least there’s a good surface right next to a big window ideal for taking food snaps.

By way of hello again, here’s a little recipe I’m really happy with. This is delciously smokey, sweet, creamy, and spicey (if you want it to be) all at once and is perfect as a weekend lunch or evening meal. Enjoy!

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Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40-50  minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 3 small sweet potatoes (or two large)

For the beans

  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • chopped coriander to taste
  • dash of salt
  • 1 can of pinto beans
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • chilli flakes (optional)

For the cashew sauce

  • 1 handful of soaked cashews
  • 50ml of water
  • 1 tsp chipotle paste
  • salt

Garnish

  • coriander
  • pumpkin seeds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to to 200℃ (fan). Place sweet potatoes on a foil-lined baking tray and bake for for about 40 minutes (longer if using larger potatoes).
  2. While the potatoes are cooking make a salsa using the tomatoes, garlic, red onion, coriander and salt.
  3. Add the can of pinto beans to a pan and cook for a few minutes. Drain most of the water (leave just a little), add the salsa and return to the heat. Add smoked paprika, dark brown sugar and chilli flakes if using.
  4. Drain the cashews and blend with water, chipotle paste and salt, adding more water if too thick.
  5. Remove potatoes from the oven once ready and slice in half, add beans, drizzle some chipotle cashew sauce over the top and garnish with fresh coriander and pumpkin seeds.

Aubergine and Harissa Dip

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I call this a dip really for want of a better word – I like to mix this together with rice as a main meal or add chickpeas and eat with flatbread as well as eat cold with bread or tortilla chips. Being able to make something I can easily use up in different ways is a big plus for me and this is great for that! You make this in a similar way as you’d make mirza ghasemi, just instead of adding in egg at the last moment you add harissa paste.

This is a very simple and easy recipe with ingredients kept to a minimum but it packs a lot of flavour. If you want a smoother dip just blend everything together but I prefer to just mash with a fork and keep the texture as it is.

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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1.5 hrs

Ingredients

  • 6 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 medium aubergines
  • 6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 heaped tsp harissa paste
  • 2tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Pierce the aubergines a couple of times with a fork or sharp knife and place in an oven preheated to 200℃. Cook for about 50 minutes until done.
  2. Remove aubergines from oven and when they’re cool enough to handle peel the skin off. Chop the flesh roughly and place in a bowl.
  3. In a large pan heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add the finely chopped garlic, cook for a few minutes
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, reduce heat and cover. Leave for ten minutes or so until the tomatoes have broken down.
  5. Add the aubergine, tomato and harissa paste and use a fork to mash everything together.
  6. Season to taste (add more harissa if you want more of a kick) and serve hot or cold!

Vegan Haggis Rolls

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On Monday I had my first Burns Night outside of Scotland here in Berlin! I didn’t fancy traipsing around the entire city in search of vegetarian haggis (back home I’d always buy Macsween’s) and I thought it was about time I learnt to make my own. So I gave it a go and served it up with some tatties and carrots (I couldn’t find neeps!) and it seemed to go down well – everyone had seconds, at least. I’m very happy with this recipe and it checks several boxes – it’s cheap, straight-forward to make, healthy and very tasty. The second time I made it I thought I’d use the haggis to make “sausage” rolls and I think it works really well.

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I used this Vegetarian Haggis recipe by Graham Campbell as a rough reference. His recipe suggests poaching using cabbage leafs but while haggis is traditionally poached and it looks very nice it’s also a bit of a faff. If you don’t want to make rolls and just want the haggis stop at step 5 below and spoon the mix into a baking tin, cover with foil, bake for 20 minutes then remove foil and bake for 20 minutes more. Or poach it like Campbell suggests if you want to show off! This recipe makes a lot so if you don’t need as much either half it or use one pastry sheet and freeze the rest of the haggis.

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Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Makes: 20 rolls

Ingredients

  • 5 shallots finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 100g red lentils
  • 100g green lentils
  • 3 carrots grated
  • 1/2 medium aubergine cubed small
  • 50g oats
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 400g tin white beans, drained and chopped
  • 40g sunflower seeds
  • 20g linseeds
  • handful of finely chopped cashews
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 2 sheets vegan puff pastry
  • a little soy milk for brushing the pastry

Instructions

  1. Cook the lentils in water for 15 minutes, drain and set aside.
  2. Fry the shallots and garlic and in olive oil until soft
  3. Add the aubergine and soy sauce and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the carrots, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and rosemary
  4. Add the lentils, stock, oats, cashews, sunflower seeds, linseeds and chopped white beans
  5. Cook for about half an hour, regularly stirring to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Add salt and pepper and taste – haggis should have a decent kick of pepper so be liberal. If the mix is too wet add some more oats – it should be quite thick.
  6. Set aside to cool.
  7. Once cool take the puff pastry sheets and slice in half lengthways
  8. Along one edge leaving a 1cm gap of pastry spoon the mixture along the length of the pastry – make sure you don’t put on too much so it doesn’t close
  9. Brush the edge with soy milk and carefully fold the pastry over, pressing down at the edges. Brush the top with soy milk, cut into five equal pieces and score each three times on the top.
  10. Bake in an oven preheated to 200°C for 20-25 minutes until light brown.
  11. Enjoy hot or cold!

Potato Rösti with Rocket, Avocado and Carrot Lox

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One of my favourite vegan blogs is Olives for Dinner and a couple of months ago I tried the recipe for Carrot Lox and was blown away! So much so that I brought some into work for my colleagues to try and when I recently gave some to my nana she thought she was eating smoked salmon. I used to love smoked salmon so finding something that more than satisfies the odd craving I get for it is maybe one of the top 10 most exciting things to happen to me this year.

I’m in charge of making the starter for Christmas day this year and it seemed like a good excuse to make up a batch of carrot lox. This is all very simple to make and it can all be done the day before, which is ideal since every hob and shelf in the oven is likely to be occupied on the day.

December is always busy but it’s been especially so for me this year because I’ve been packing up my life in preparation for moving to Berlin after the New Year. This might be my last post until I’m settled into my new life in Germany so have a great Christmas and New Year to everyone who reads this blog!

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Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large carrots
  • 250-300g sea salt (enough to cover the carrots completely)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 packet of rocket
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 3 reasonably large Maris Piper potatoes (or any floury potato)
  • olive oil and vegan butter

Instructions

For the Carrot Lox (slightly adapted recipe from Olives for Dinner)

  1. Wash the carrots and place in a baking dish making sure they’re completely covered in sea salt – top and bottom. Bake for an hour and a half at 190°C.
  2. Remove from oven and once cool enough to handle brush off the salt and remove as much skin as you can manage. Slice the carrots thinly.
  3. Mix together the olive oil, smoked paprika and white wine vinegar and in a Tupperware dish coat the carrots. Place in the fridge to marinate for a couple of days (it’s still delicious the next day but the longer the better).

For the rest

  1. Peel and grate the potatoes and squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible – you can do this by hand or by wrapping in a towel.
  2. Season the grated potatoes with salt and pepper and mix together in a bowl.
  3. Add some oil and vegan butter (about 1tsp of each) to a frying pan over a medium heat
  4. Divide the mixture into four and cook one at a time or altogether (depending on the size of your pan) and using a spatula press down and shape each into a circle. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side.
  5. Serve hot, cold or warmed up just a little with rocket, a couple of slices of avocado and some delicious carrot lox! If you have leftover lox just keep it in the fridge and it’ll do for a bagel or sandwich.

Aubergine Bolognese

I was never fussed for aubergine until about five years ago when I went for dinner at The Bay Tree and had the Turkish Langee Aubergines, which is a ridiculously delicious dish of fried aubergine and salsa. Then a few years ago I tried Mirza Ghasemi for the first time and that really cemented it as a favourite vegetable. It’s something that can be quite unpleasant to eat if not cooked well or flavoured enough, but there’s so much that can be done with it!

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I make vegetable bolognese quite often and it’s ideal when you’re watching the pennies because it’s cheap to make a large quantity as well as being nice and filling. Make sure your celery, carrot and onion are all finely chopped rather than leaving sizeable chunks – I promise it’s worth the extra time and effort. Baking the aubergine first doesn’t really involve a huge amount of extra time because you can focus on preparing the rest of the veg while it’s in the oven and start cooking them while you wait for the aubergine to cool down enough to handle. You could just chop up uncooked aubergine (peeled or unpeeled) and cook it in the pot, but I prefer it this way and think it gives the bolognese a lovely smoothness.

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Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 large aubergines
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 glass vegan red wine
  • 2tsp tomato puree
  • 1tsp dried basil
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • 1tsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Bake the aubergines for 40-50 minutes until soft in an oven preheated to 200°C (fan). If it’s not cooked enough the skin will be difficult to remove.
  2. While the aubergines are cooking finely chop the celery, onion, carrot and garlic and chop up the tomatoes.
  3. Add the celery, onion and carrot to a large pan with a little olive oil and cook until soft.
  4. Simultaneously, add some olive oil to a frying pan and add the garlic. Fry for a few minutes then add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Once the aubergines have cooled down just enough to handle peel, chop and add to the pan with tomatoes and garlic. Use a fork to roughly mash everything together and add everything in with the onion, celery and carrot.
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients – tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, basil, oregano, red wine, balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil for about 5-10 minutes then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for about an hour.
  7. Serve with spaghetti, garlic bread (if you are a garlic fiend like me) and garnish with fresh basil.

Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Lentil Stew

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Another butternut squash recipe because ’tis the season! This stew is smoky and spicy and the butternut squash gives it a perfect note of sweetness. It’s also exactly what you want from a stew – cheap, simple and filling. In hindsight I wish I’d been thinking about The Minimalist Baker’s Garlic Herb Flatbread when I made this because it’s a recipe I’ve been wanting to try for a while and it would’ve been a perfect accompaniment. There’ll be other stews.

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I never used to be a fan of coriander or cumin at all but recently I’ve been using them all the time – if you’re not much of a fan of cumin you might want to use a  bit less than I have in this recipe, because I think I’ve gone from one extreme to the other and have a tendency now to use lots of it. I wish the same would happen with mushrooms. I can’t eat them. I wish I could because the standard, uninventive veggie option on restaurant menus tends to involve mushrooms (mushroom risotto, it’s always bloody mushroom risotto) and what non-meat eater doesn’t eat mushrooms? This one, despite her best efforts. So, apologies lovers of mushrooms, this will be a mushroom-free blog unless something miraculous happens.

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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 450ml vegetable stock
  • 100g uncooked red lentils (or whatever lentils you have in)
  • 4-5 tsp harissa paste
  • 2tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (or more or less depending on how spicy you want it)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Fry off the onion, garlic and cumin seeds.
  2. Add the chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, stock, lentils, harissa paste, coriander and tumeric.
  3. Cook until the squash is soft and add seasoning and cayenne pepper to taste.
  4. Serve with bread, flatbread, rice or whatever you fancy and garnish with coriander

Recipe adapted from Ambitious Kitchen’s Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Lentil Moroccan Stew

Creamy Butternut Squash Spaghetti

butternut squash pasta

I love this time of year (although the rain has been testing me lately). Soups and stews, hot spiced or mulled drinks, heavy coats and scarves, those perfect crisp days when everything’s frosted over and the sun’s shining, Glaswegians describing the cold as “baltic” – it’s all lovely. I’d sooner move somewhere it perpetually snowed than somewhere sweltering hot – not that long ago I was halfway through a job application for the British Antarctic Survey before I realised that was maybe a bit of an extreme response to the freak-out I was having about my life (it’s still a bit of a fantasy, though – if you’ve seen Antarctica: A Year on Ice maybe you get me?). So, rather than moving 10,000 miles away I opted for a mere 600 miles to Berlin, which I think will be wintery enough for me in January.

I’m also a big fan of what’s in season right now, especially parsnips, chestnuts, turnip, brussels sprouts and winter squash. It’s all very comforting – and so is pasta so here’s a no-fuss recipe for chilly day. Apart from the time it takes to cook the butternut squash the sauce takes so little effort to knock together and I suspect it’d also be great stirred into a risotto with some cubed squash.

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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 400g spaghetti
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 150ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scant tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 3-4tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh parsley or basil to garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (200°C fan)
  2. Halve the butternut squash and scoop out the seeds. Place flesh-side down on a baking tray lined with foil and cook for 40-50 minutes until soft. If any of it’s still hard your sauce will be grainy.
  3. Remove from oven and when the halves have cooled down enough to handle scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl.
  4. Using a hand blender puree the squash.
  5. Mix in the almond milk, garlic powder, smoked paprika and nutritional yeast, and give it a final quick blend to make sure the sauce is lovely and smooth. Season to taste.
  6. Cook spaghetti according to instructions, drain and reserve a little of the cooking water (just a little, you want to keep the sauce nice and thick). Add the sauce and mix together.
  7. Garnish with parsley or basil and serve!

Chocolate Orange Cake

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The only time I’ll bake a cake is when I have guests and, even then, it has to be a bit of a special occasion. The problem is that I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and I don’t find baking therapeutic in the way I find cooking – in the past I’ve found it fiddly and stressful and I’m all about relaxed vibes in the kitchen. Tomorrow night a friend who’s been away in Thailand for a year is coming round for dinner, which definitely qualifies as a special occasion and an opportunity for me to get a bit of baking practice in.

On Christmas Eve, just before bed, my mum makes everyone hot chocolate and shares out a chocolate orange, so, for me, the combination of chocolate and orange is strongly associated with winter. The weather here in Glasgow has been horrendous for about a week now, so this felt appropriate – something decadently comforting for a gloomy Sunday afternoon. The cake is a very slightly modified version of Nigella Lawson’s Dark and Sumptuous Chocolate Cake (yes, I am truly in love with Nigella, and yes, there is every chance I’m going to make every single vegan recipe that features on Simply Nigella). The only real difference is the addition of grated orange rind to the mixture and the candied orange slices on top. This adds on a little more effort in terms of preparation, so if you’re interested in slightly less fuss go straight to the linked recipe above – otherwise, read on.

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Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 8-10

Ingredients

Candied orange slices

  • 1 large orange, washed and sliced as thinly as you can manage
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 300ml boiled water
Icing
  • 75g coconut butter (this stuff is great but quite expensive)
  • 50g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp instant coffee powder (my favourite is Nescafe Azera)
  • 1 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
  • 150g finely chopped dark chocolate (I used 85% cocoa solids – the higher the better)
  • 4 tbsps cold water
Cake
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 heaped tsp instant coffee powder
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • The grated rind of one orange
  • 300g dark muscovado sugar
  • 90g coconut oil or 90g vegetable oil or 45g coconut butter and 45ml vegetable oil (depending what you have in, really – and your wallet)
  • 375ml boiled water
  • 1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

Instructions

  1. Add the sugar and water to a pan, giving it a swirl to make sure all the sugar’s dissolved, then add in the orange slices. This will take about an hour or so – you want the slices to get translucent and the time this takes depends on how thinly you’ve sliced them. Make sure to check on it from time to time, giving it a swirl (don’t stir) so the reduced syrup is coating the oranges.
  2. While the oranges are doing their thing, place all the icing ingredients except for the chocolate in a pan, and bring to the boil. Make sure everything’s all dissolved and remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and give the pan a swirl so that it’s all submerged. Then give it a whisk and leave it to one side until later when the cake has cooled. Give it a stir each time you check on the oranges.
  3. In a mixing bowl add shift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, coffee powder, cocoa powder and salt and mix with a fork.
  4. In a separate bowl mix sugar, water, coconut oil (or veg oil, veg oil/coconut butter combo), orange rind, and vinegar.
  5. Mix together the wet and dry ingredients and pour into a 20cm/8in cake tin lined with baking parchment.
  6. Bake for 30/35 minutes until a skewer comes out reasonably clean and leave on a wire rack to cool
  7. Hopefully by this point your oranges should be sticky and translucent. Remove from the pan and place on a baking sheet. Once the cake’s cooled, transfer it from the tin to a plate and pour over the icing using a spatula to help it spread if needed. Once the candied oranges are cooled sprinkle a little granulated sugar over the top and arrange them on your finished cake!

Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup

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I’ve been fixated on roasted cauliflower for about a week now thanks to Nigella Lawson’s new Simply Nigella series – her warm spiced cauliflower and chickpea salad with pomegranate seeds is so ridiculously good I made it two nights in a row. So, on a day when I’m feeling a bit under the weather and only soup will do of course it had to involve roasted cauliflower.

This is a perfect soup for a wintery day – rich, creamy and comforting. It’s also very simple and easy to make!


Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 shallots diced or 1 onion
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • 1 handful of cashews, soaked (optional: omit for a slightly lighter soup)
  • 2tbsps nutritional yeast
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 1tbsp chopped thyme
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • juice of half a lemon
Garnish (optional)
  • a couple of sprigs of thyme
  • soya cream
  • chopped roasted cauliflower florets

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and put in the head of garlic (see here for instructions on roasting whole garlic heads) for about 15 minutes then add in your cauliflower florets, drizzled with lemon juice, and leave for half an hour.
  2. 5 minutes before taking the garlic and cauliflower out of the oven heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the shallots and thyme. Cook until shallots are soft and translucent.
  3. Put a few florets aside for garnish and add the cauliflower, garlic (careful when removing the cloves!), vegetable stock, cashews, apple cider vinegar, smoked paprika and nutritional yeast.
  4. Blend and add water if too thick
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste, garnish, and serve!

Ideas for next time/possible variations 

  • swap the thyme for cumin seeds and maybe some nutmeg and cinnamon
  • coconut milk instead of cashews?
  • add some spice with chilli flakes

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