Vegan, Vegetarian

Khoresh Bademjan (vegan)

Trying out new recipes was not top of my list during recent months. Work and keeping us all sane was the priority. Yesterday, while sporting my ‘Lockdown Grey’ hair, I decided to make something new. To draw from the selection of spices I have but not produce another dish with chili or curry as the dominant taste.

2While I haven’t that much knowledge of it, I have really enjoyed the Persian food I have had. I decided to put together a vegan version of Khoresh Bademjan. I substituted yellow split peas for the meat and it turned out quite delicious. I served it with plain Basmati rice but it would be equally nice served simply with flat breads.

My stash of Sumac was gone (now there’s something I never thought I would run out of!) so I used orange and lemon instead. It worked well and there are lovely citrus-y, garlic-y, flavours to this dish.

Serves 4-6

1lb aubergines, chopped into bite size pieces
Olive oil
Table salt
2 medium sized onions, chopped finely
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped finely (adjusted according to taste)
1 medium sized orange
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Saffron threads soaked in 3 tsp water
1 cup dried split yellow peas, rinsed with cold water
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato puree
Sea salt and ground black pepper to season

1. Place chopped aubergines in a colander and sprinkle liberally with table salt
2. Leave aside for 20-30 minutes
3. Zest and juice the orange. Place the zest in the juice and set aside
4. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C
5. Rinse the salt off the aubergines and dry the pieces
6. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes
7. While the aubergines are roasting, heat about three tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pan
8. Add the onions, cover and cook gently for 6-8 minutes until soft
9. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes
10. Add the cumin, paprika and cinnamon, cook for 1-2 minutes
11. Add the lemon and orange juices (including the orange zest) and combine with the onion mix
12. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, saffron (with water), the yellow split peas and a good grind of black pepper
13. Simmer for 10 minutes
14. Add the roasted aubergines and simmer gently for 30 minutes (stir occasionally and gently so that the aubergines stay in pieces)
15. Add salt to taste
16. Serve with plain Basmati rice or flat breads

Slow cooked pasta sauce

Slow cooked pasta sauce

Late in from work, I promised to make the Teen something tasty for dinner to be ready when she arrived in from college. Not a lot in the fridge but still enough to make a tasty pasta sauce. I’ve slow cooked meat ragu before so I wondered if I could make a vegan version. At that time of the day, I simply wanted to prepare something which ticked all the boxes but didn’t exhaust me making!

Into the kitchen and I find vegetables, tins of tomatoes, lentils and some wine so I get to work. I let it cook at a low heat and like the meat version, it became richer with the cooking. Served up with penne, it made a very happy Teen. And we discovered that it freezes well too. Win win!

Serves 4

2 tbsp, olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 carrots, diced finely
4 oz mushrooms, chopped finely
1 roasted red pepper, cut into thin slices
4 oz green lentils, rinsed
1 glass red wine
2 tbsp, tomato puree
1 tbsp, dried parsley
1 heaped tsp, dried basil
2 tins, chopped tomatoes
1 heaped tsp, sugar
Ground black pepper and sea salt to season

1. Heat the oil and cook the onion over a medium heat until soft (about 8 mins)
2. Add garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes
3. Add carrots, mushrooms and lentils cooking for another 4 minutes
4. Add red pepper
5. Add red wine and cook for 2 minutes
6. Add herbs, tomato puree, tins tomatoes and sugar
7. Season with salt and pepper
8. Bring to the boil and then reduce
9. Cook over a low heat for 3 hours
10. Serve with a pasta of your choosing

Creamy Vegan Curry

Creamy Vegan Curry

The Teen likes creamy food but she’s never liked cream in food. I kept this in mind when making a curry recently and wondered how it might turn out if I used coconut milk to make a creamy curry. I wanted the creaminess but not the coconut flavour which wouldcoconut not have suited the spice blend and it worked out perfectly once I got the following ratio correct. One tin of tomatoes to one tin of coconut milk was too creamy but two tins of tomatoes to one tin of coconut milk worked out perfectly. It made it a big pot of food so this curry generously feeds six!

It can be served with rice or warmed naan bread. It’s even nice to eat on its own and it freezes well too.

2 tbsp, sunflower oil
1 large onion, chopped finely
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
2 tbsp, grated ginger
1 red pepper, cut in strips
2 large carrots, diced
4 oz, mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-2 chillis, chopped finely or 1 tsp, minced chilli from a jar
½ tsp, cumin seeds
1 tsp, ground cumin
1 tsp, ground coriander
1 tsp, garam masala
1 tsp, turmeric
2 tbsp, tomato puree
2 tins, chopped tomatoes
1 tin, coconut milk
Sea salt and ground black pepper to season

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan
2. Fry the onion over a medium heat until soft for about 8 minutes
3. Add the garlic and ginger cooking for another 2 minutes
4. Add the pepper, carrots and mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes
5. Add the chickpeas, cumin seeds, ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, turmeric and cook for 2 minutes
6. Add the tomato puree and tins of chopped tomatoes
7. Season to taste with salt and pepper
8. Cook for 40 minutes over a low to medium heat
9. Add the coconut milk and heat through just before serving.
10. Serve with boiled rice or warmed naan bread

Baking and stuff, Peachy Buns

Peachy Buns

Oooooh peaches! Beautiful peaches! I bought two packs, And the very next day, I wake up to see them turning to mush before my very eyes. I am determined not to throw them out!

I start flicking through my cookery books – peach salsa, chilli and peach jam, peach jam. They all sound delightful but require ingredients I don’t have and am not bothered to go to the shops to buy.

I’ll make buns. I know the flavour I want and work backwards from that. I wonder ‘Will they be too sweet?’ ‘Will they be too wet?’ Will they rise?’ I persevere and they turn out delicious.

I cooked some in paper bun cases and some in a traditional muffin tin. The ones in the paper cases rose beautifully, the ones in the tin not so much. They all tasted the same – yum!

3 soft peaches, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
4 oz, soft unsalted butter
6 oz caster sugar
2 medium eggs, beaten
8 oz self-raising flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
4 tablespoons, almond flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (Fan)
2. Set out 16 paper bun cases
3. Sift the flour, cinnamon and salt together
4. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale
5. Add in the beaten eggs until combined
6. Add in the peaches and nuts
7. Fold in the flour in three stages
8. Divide into the bun cases
9. Bake for 20 minutes in the middle of the oven
10. Test with a skewer to see if they are cooked through
11. Remove from tin and allow to cool on a wire rack

Vegan, Vegetarian

Butter Bean and Sweet Potato Curry

Ah, you can’t beat a summer in Ireland! While you might expect to be knee deep in salad beansingredients and all sorts of delicious fresh produce, wintry fare is often far more suitable. No surprise then that I cooked a Butter Bean and Sweet Potato Curry yesterday for the teen. A one pot dinner which suited the weather perfectly. She ate it while sitting at the window looking out at the lashings of rain!

½ lb dried butter beans soaked overnight or 2 tins of butter beans
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
5 tbsp, sunflower oil
1 onion, cut into thinly sliced rings
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1½ tbsp, fresh ginger grated finely
1 tsp, minced chilli from jar or 1-2 fresh chillis, chopped finely
1 tsp, turmeric
1 tsp, ground cumin
1 tsp, cumin seeds
1 tsp, garam masala
1 tsp, ground coriander
1 tsp, mango powder (optional)
1 tin, chopped tomatoes
2 tbsps, tomato puree
Cup of water
Sea salt
1 cube, vegetable stock
1 tbsp, lemon juice

1. If using dried butter beans – place in a saucepan, cover with plenty of water, add the stock cube and boil gently for 30-40 minutes until the beans are softening but still have a bit of a bite. Drain and set aside

While beans are cooking
2. Preheat the oven to 180C Fan
3. Toss the sweet potatoes and carrots in 3 tablespoons of oil and season with salt
4. Roast in the oven until carmelised but still have a slight bite (about 20-25 minutes)
5. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and fry the onion until soft – about 8 minutes
6. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes
7. Add the chilli and cook for about a minute
8. Make a well in the onion mix and add the spices
9. Let these cook for a minute and then combine thoroughly and cook for a further 2 minutes
10. Add the tomato puree, tin of chopped tomatoes and lemon juice*
11. Cook for 10 minutes
12. Add the beans and roast vegetables
13. Add the water, if needed
14. Cook for another 5 minutes
15. Serve as it is, with green vegetables or some warm naan breads.

* The lemon juice is important as it cuts through the sweetness of the beans and roast vegetables

Vegan, Vegetarian

Romesco Sauce

More experimentation in the kitchen. Whenever I am at my busiest, my mind wanders to cooking and today was no exception. I saw this sauce being made to serve with fish and thought it could be nice to serve as a vegan pasta sauce too.

After scouring a number of recipes, I put together the following. It can be stored for up to a week in the fridge but I doubt this will last that long! The teen ate it with a spoon from the jar and spread it on bread before eating it with pasta. We also thought that it would be a very nice accompaniment to serve with chips or potato wedges.


2 red peppers
4 tbsp, blanched almonds
2-3 cloves, garlic
2 tomatoes, peeled and cored
Pinch of salt
½ tsp, sugar
¼ tsp, cayenne
1 tsp, smoked paprika
2 tbsp, wine vinegar
2 tbsp, olive oil

1. Pre heat oven to 180C
2. Place peppers on an oven rack and roast until soft, turning a couple of times over the 10-15 minutes required
3. At the same time, place the almonds and the garlic on a baking tray to roast for 8-10 minutes, turning the almonds once during the process to make sure they do not burn
4. In a liquidiser, place the tomatoes, salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, paprika and vinegar
5. When roasted, remove the peppers, almonds and garlic from the oven and allow to cool
6. Peel the peppers and remove the seeds and stalk
7. Peel the garlic
8. Add the peppers, almonds and garlic to the other ingredients and blitz until combined but the nuts are still slightly visible
9. Add the oil and combine thoroughly
10. Transfer to a sterilised jar


Baking and stuff, Caramel Slices

Decadent Caramel Slices

As traybakes go, this is not only one of the most decadent but also one of the most warmly received! I have made this so many times over the years and it has always put a great big smile on people’s faces!

Constructed in stages, it does take a little time but it is also very straightforward. I add in some semolina to the flour to make the base more crumbly. I have thought of substituting butter for the margarine but it could be a step too far!


Makes 12

4 oz, soft margarine
2 oz, caster sugar
6 oz, plain flour (less 3 tablespoons)
3 tbsp, Semolina

6 oz, condensed milk
2 tbsp, golden syrup
4 oz, butter
3 oz, caster sugar

6 oz, milk chocolate

1. Heat the oven at 180C degree
2. Grease a baking tin (about 7 inches x 11 inches)
3. Cream the margarine and sugar
4. Add the flour and semolina and mix all ingredients together until fully combined (as if making pastry)
5. Press the shortbread mix into the baking tin and smooth over with the back of a spoon
6. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and then allow to cool
7. Combine all the caramel ingredients into a heavy saucepan
8. Gently heat these ingredients until they come together, stirring all the time, and are slightly thickened (10 to 15 minutes)
9. Allow the caramel to cool slightly before pouring over the shortbread.
10. When cold, melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water
11. Spread the chocolate over the caramel and allow to cool before cutting into squares

Vegan, Vegetarian

Chana Masala with Roasted Pepper

We’re at that time of the week when the fridge is bare! Time to conjure up something with the softening red pepper and larder staples of onions, garlic and chilli. In the press are tins of tomatoes, chickpeas and my collection of spices. I decide to put that pepper spicesout of its misery by roasting it in the oven to bring out its sweetness and to give it a slightly charred taste. And with the tomatoes and chickpeas, I make my version of Chana Masala. I add mango powder to the spice mix – yes, it does make a difference but it can be left out. I have to admit that I only bought it at the Asian Market as I was curious and then had to go looking for recipes to use it in!

It’s not traditional as I have no tamarind to add to the mix but the Teen declares it to be ‘unreal’ so that is praise enough for me!

Serves 4

1 red pepper, whole
3 tbsp, sunflower oil
I medium onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp, cumin seeds
1 tsp, chopped chilli from jar or 2-3 fresh chilis, chopped finely
1 tsp, ground cumin
1 tsp, ground coriander
1 tsp, mango powder (optional)
1 tsp, garam masala
1 tsp, turmeric
¼ – ½ tsp, salt
2 tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tin, chopped tomatoes
6 dried curry leaves
1 tbsp, lemon juice

1. Heat the oven to 200 C degrees
2. Place red pepper on the rack and roast for 20-25 minutes, turning twice through the roasting process
3. While the pepper is roasting, heat the oil in a large saucepan
4. Fry cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes
5. Add the onion and cook for 8-10 minutes until soft
6. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes
7. Add the chilli and ginger and cook for a further 2 minutes
8. Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, mango powder, garam masala, turmeric, salt and combine thoroughly with the onion mix
9. Add the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, curry leaves and lemon juice
10. Slice the roasted pepper into thin strips and add to the mix
11. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes
12. Serve with flat breads or rice

Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

‘Masak Merah’ Vegetables

I promised I’d cook the Teen something spicy for dinner. When I looked at my recipes and on line, I knew I wanted to try something different – not the usual coriander-cumin mix or something with coconut milk. After much searching, I came up with a veganpic version of ‘Ayam Masak Merah’ – without the Ayam! Quite simply, it is a recipe with roasted vegetables served with a spiced tomato sauce from Malaysia.

This recipe is a milder version than the traditional ones. It is still not for the faint hearted! I decided to make the sauce in advance and let it stand so that the spice could cook out and come through more evenly. In keeping with the style of cooking the original chicken component, I roasted the vegetables before adding to the sauce. All of this was served up with boiled Jasmine rice.

I used whatever vegetables I found in the fridge and larder. I cut them into sizes so they would cook at the same time. Putting them in a large bowl, I drizzled them in enough sunflower to coat them lightly and seasoned with sea salt. Placing them on a pre-heated baking tray, I roasted them in an oven pre-heated to 180c for about 20 minutes. I give the selection I used plus I threw in some spinach at the end of the cooking time.

Serves 4

1 stick lemongrass, roughly chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 bulb garlic, chopped
3 hot chillies, chopped (with seeds in)
1½ inch, ginger, chopped finely
3 star anise
½ tsp, black cardamon seeds

3 tbsp., sunflower or vegetable oil
1 stick, cinnamon
1 tsp, turmeric
1 tsp, fennel seeds
1 tsp, ground coriander
1 tube, tomato puree
½ cup, tomato ketchup
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tin, chopped tomatoes
6 kaffir leaves
1 tsp, sugar
1 tbsp., lime juice
Sea salt

Sunflower oil

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size cubes
2 large carrots, cut into batons
2 bell peppers
2 large handfuls of spinach (added 5 minutes before the end of cooking)

1. With a pestle and mortar, crush the star anise with the cardamon seeds
2. Put in the blender with the lemongrass, garlic, ginger, onion and chillies
3. Blitz into a rough paste
4. Heat the oil and fry the paste for 2-3 minutes
5. Add the cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, coriander and turmeric and cook for 2 minutes
6. Add in the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, tomato ketchup, sugar, kaffir leaves and lime juice
7. Bring to the boil and simmer at a low heat for 30 minutes
8. Season with salt to taste
9. Add the roasted vegetables, coat in the sauce and cook for another 15 minutes


Nana's corner, Uncategorized

Cooked retro ‘sangers’!

Long before the arrival of gadgets such as the Breville toaster or the phenomenon of sandwich bars, my mum loved her cooked sandwiches. At home, she would make do with a slice of bread, thinly sliced tomatoes, a smattering of finely chopped opinion, a generous pinch of oregano and covered with cheese toasted under the grill (I know as I was the one charged with making it!).

If out for lunch, she loved “proper sandwiches”. These could range from ladylike sandwiches, cut in triangles with the crusts off to sandwiches the size of door stoppers. She would revel in the marvel that was the Club Sandwich, declaring it to be ‘a meal in itself!’ Dainty sandwiches would be eaten delicately, with pinkie finger extended. accompanied by tea served in proper china cups. The larger of the species would be cut into small slivers to be eaten with a fork, never directly by hand.

Ever the one for etiquette, these would be pronounced by her as ‘sandwiches’, never ‘sangers’ or ‘sangwitches’ and definitely, never, ever, ever, ‘hang sangwitches.’ And she would have subscribed to the club which believes sandwiches always taste better cut in triangles or long fingers but never squares. In Ireland of the 1960s and 1970s, this was the very height of her lunchtime eating!

It is little wonder then that I found a bundle of retro recipes for cooked sandwiches among the cookery notes.


Swiss Cheese (serves 6)

½ Swiss Emmental Cheese, grated
2 eggs
Pepper to season
1 teaspoon, finely grated onion
1 tablespoon, cream
6 slices wholemeal or granary bread
2-3 ounces, butter

1. Separate the eggs
2. Add the egg yolks to the grated cheese
3. Add the grated onion
4. Season with pepper and mix together
5. Whisk the egg whites to form firm peaks
6. Fold in the prepared mix and add the milk
7. Divide the mixture between the six slices of bread and spread evenly
8. Melt a little butter in a frying pan
9. Cook the prepared slices, filling sides down, until golden brown
10. Turnover and fry until golden brown on the other side
11. Cut into triangles to serve


Tuna Bunwiches (serves 4)

1.7 ounce tin tuna
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 dessertspoon capers, chopped
Pepper to season
4 soft bread rolls
4 slices of cheese

1. Mix the tuna, mayonnaise and capers together
2. Season with pepper
3. Cut each roll in two
4. Divide between the four roll bottoms
5. Cover each with the cheese
6. Place under a low grill until the cheese is melted
7. Put the bread top on each


Rodeo Relish (serves 2)

4 thin slices of buttered wholemeal bread
4 streaky bacon rashers
1 hard boiled egg
2 tablespoons mustard pickle

1. Place the bread, butter side up, under a medium grill until crisp
2. Grill the bacon until cooked through
3. Chop the egg and bind together with the mustard pickle
4. Place the bacon on two of the slices of toasted bread and spread the egg mixture over the bacon
5. Cover with the remaining slices of break, toasted side down
6. Press firmly in place
7. Place under the grill to toast the remaining sides

To serve
These sandwiches serve two and can be served with a side of pickled onions


Sardine Savoury (serves 1-2)

2 slices of freshly made buttered toast
1 tablespoon Horseradish relish
1 can sardines (in oil)
Salt and black pepper to season

1. Spread the hot toast with a little of the horseradish relish
2. Drain the sardines and arrange on the toast
3. Season with the salt and pepper
4. Place under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes to heat through

To serve
These sandwiches can be served with some gherkins on the side.


Hot Shrimp Frenchie (serves 4)

1 crusty French loaf
½ level teaspoon salt
½ level teaspoon paprika pepper
1 tin (3 ½ ounce) shrimps
4 ounces butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Preheat oven at 350F (c. 170C) degrees
2. Drain the shrimps
3. Add the salt and paprika to the shrimps and pound together
4. Add the softened butter and lemon juice
5. Mix together until completely combined
6. Cut the French bread diagonally in thick slices but leaving the base uncut
7. Spread the prepared shrimp butter liberally on alternative side of this bread
8. Wrap the bread in tin foil
9. Place in the oven for between 10 and 15 minutes to heat through