Vegan, Vegetarian

Teen’s Favourite Daal

chilli picI used make this Daal all the time. I stopped, forgot how to and kept trying out different recipes. They were never the same as this one. It is both simple and tasty.

Then last week, a scrap of paper fell out of another cookery book. I know I tweaked the original but I have no idea where I found it nor where credit is due. So whoever came up with the basis from which this recipe grew, we thank-you!


4 ounces, red lentils
4 ounces, yellow or green lentils
1½ pints, water
1 tsp, turmeric
1 tbsp, grated ginger
1 heaped tsp, garlic finely chopped
2 tbsps, sunflower oil
½ tsp, mustard seeds
1 green chilli, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 tomatoes, sliced

1. Place lentils, 1 pint of water, turmeric, ginger and garlic in a saucepan and bring to the boil
2. Reduce the heat and cook for about 20 minutes until the lentils are soft (add more water if the mixture becomes too thick)
3. Using a potato masher, gently mash the mix so that the lentils are broken up a bit but not a puree
4. Heat the oil in a frying pan
5. Add the mustard seeds and stir for about 1 minute
6. Add the sliced onion and chilli and cook until soft (5-10 minutes)
7. Add the tomato and cook until soft
8. Add this to the lentil mix
9. Serve this as a side dish or in a bowl with naan bread



kimchi picWhen it comes to food, we have yet to meet a cuisine we don’t like. Korean is one of the top favourites at the moment. In particular, the Teen loves Kimchi so I decided to put together a recipe. Any one I found on line required buying additional ingredients. I designed a recipe using things I already had in the cupboard. It’s not authentic but the Teen was very pleased with the result and deemed the taste pretty close.

I so enjoyed making this. The smell in the kitchen was deliciously fragrant. A lot of chopping but very straight forward to make. And it was worth it given how little it costs to make from scratch compared to how much it costs in the shop.

While some recipes said it could be eaten right away, others said to leave the mix for at least a week before opening and to store in the fridge for up to two weeks after. This was left for a week and it was really delicious. One thing I did notice, however, The mixture swells when put into the jar so we were very careful opening it in case it exploded!

1 head, Savoy cabbage
2 carrots, grated
8 radishes, grated
5 scallions, shredded lengthwise
2 in fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 tsp chopped chilli from a jar*
8 ozs, table salt
1 oz, sugar
7 fl oz, rice wine vinegar
2 fl oz, fish sauce or light soya sauce
2 fl oz, lemon juice

1. Shred the cabbage finely
2. Add the salt and cover with water
3. Cover and weigh down
4. Leave for an hour and a half to allow the cabbage to soften
5. Mix all the other vegetables in a large bowl with the ginger, garlic and chilli
6. Rinse brine off cabbage and dry off
7. Add to the other vegetable mix and massage cabbage into the rest of the ingredients
8. Put into a large jar and press down to pack it all in
9. Gently heat the vinegar, fish sauce/light soy sauce and sugar until sugar is melted
10. Add the lemon juice
11. Pour warm liquid into jar and seal tightly
12. Leave for at least a week to ferment. Store in fridge for 2 weeks after that

  • I used chilli from a jar as I know the strength of it rather than fresh chillis which sometimes need some guesswork as to how spicy they are.


Vegan, Vegetarian

Brown Bread with Pumpkin Seeds (vegan)


This week, I’m in a mad mood for baking. Over indulging in watching cookery competitions has its effect. Vegan Samosas, Cinammon Apple Pie and bread – lots of bread.

Since seeing The Hairy Bikers make Kartoffelbrot, I couldn’t wait to try the recipe. It was so worth the effort with the Teen asking if I could make it every week!

I now have lots of flour and a box of yeast. Too much temptation for this girl to resist! More baking to be done and this time, I set about devising a recipe for a wholemeal vegan loaf.

It turned out very well. I have to admit I missed the tang of buttermilk but the Teen said she preferred it. High praise indeed!

Compared to the amount of kneading for the Kartoffelbrot, this bread is a joy! It needs no kneading at all (my biceps heaved a massive sigh of relief)!

2 tsp sugar
1 sachet fast acting yeast
1lb brown wholemeal flour
1 tsp salt
3 oz, pumpkin seeds
16 fluid ounces, luke warm water
1 tbsp, sunflower oil and some extra for greasing
Plain flour for dusting

1. Take 5 tablespoons of the water, add the yeast and one teaspoon of sugar. Stir and leave somewhere warm for 10 minutes to activate
2. Combine the flour, remaining sugar, salt and pumpkin seeds in a bowl
3. Add the sunflower oil to the water
4. Prepare the loaf tin by greasing it with sunflower oil and then dusting with flour
5. Add the now activated yeast to the dry ingredients and also the rest of the water. Mix until totally combined (the mix will be wet and no kneading is required)
6. Place in the prepared loaf tin and cover loosely with oiled cling film
7. Put into a warm place to prove for about 30 minutes
8. Heat the oven to 200C degrees (fan oven)/220C (without fan)
9. When proved, place in the centre of the heated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes
10. Check if it is done by tapping the back for a hollow sound
11. Wrap in a clean, damp, towel and leave to cool on a wire rack

Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian

Tomato, Carrot and Black-Eyed Bean Soup

A need for a last minute supper and no interest in racing to the shops to buy stuff. A good ferret around the cupboard and fridge and this is what I came up with. I blitzed this in the liquidiser but only to blend the ingredients rather than to puree the mix. This gave the soup a nice texture when the beans were added.

Turned out to be very tasty indeed and nicely filling. Thumbs up from the teen who made off with the leftovers for lunch!

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
3 carrots, grated
2 tablespoons, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon, dried parsley
1 heaped teaspoon, dried basil
¾ pint, vegetable stock
2 tins, chopped tomatoes
1 tin, black-eyed beans*
½ to 1 teaspoon, sugar**
Sea salt and ground black pepper to season

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan
2. Add the onion, cover with the lid and allow to cook for about 5 minutes until soft
3. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes
4. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes
5. Add the herbs, tomatoes and stock
6. Cook for about 20 minutes
7. Add the sugar according to taste**
8. Season with salt and lots of black pepper
9. Blitz in the liquidiser until the ingredients are blended but not pureed
10. Return to the pan and add the black-eyed beans*
11. Heat through and serve

* With the amount of soup, more beans would be possible to turn this into a heartier soup or even a main meal. Next time, I will try adding a tin of borlotti beans
** I usually like tinned tomatoes cooked with sugar to season. This soup, however, was nicer with less sugar.

Chicken, Daal II

Normal services resume…

Services were temporarily suspended as the Teen left the Attic. It is only temporary. Since her return, normal cooking has now resumed!

As her return beckoned, I went into cooking overdrive. While she told me not to overdo it, I couldn’t resist. I so enjoy cooking but more than anything, I love cooking for her!

I put together some of her favourite dishes to welcome her home. Chicken curry, Daal and chocolate cake – not exactly a traditional ending to a spicy but it’s her favourite bake.

The Chicken Curry? It’s a tweaked version of Roopa Gulati’s recipe on the BBC Good Food website. The spicing is perfect for us and it’s a really tasty dish.

The Daal? I have no idea where it came from (another recipe scribbled on the back of a page) but whoever created the original, we thank you as its one of the best we’ve tasted.

And the chocolate cake? It’s the Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe on this blog but with a twist. Instead of the chocolate butter cream filling, I used whipped cream mixed with crushed Malteesers. It was surprisingly light and not too sweet as I’d feared. A really nice alternative.

Chicken Curry

1 large onion, chopped roughly
50g ginger, chopped roughly
6 garlic cloves
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
5cm cinnamon stick
1 chilli, chopped finely with seeds removed
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp castor sugar
1 tsp caster sugar
10-12 chicken thighs, skinned and boneless
250ml hot chicken stock

1. Place the onion in a small food process with three tablespoons of water. Process until a paste
2. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan
3. Fry the cumin seeds, fennel seeds and cinnamon stick for about 30 seconds
4. Add in the onion paste and fry for about 10 minutes until golden brown
5. Place the garlic and ginger in the food processor with 4 tablespoons water and blend into a paste
6. Add this to the onion mix with the chilli and cook for for another 2 minutes
7. Stir in the garam masala, turmeric, sugar and tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes until the tomatoes darken and reduce
8. Add in the chicken and coat with the paste.
9. Cook for about 15 minutes until the chicken is tender and the masala lightly thickened. The stock can be added if the sauce is becoming too thick
10. Serve with rice or naan bread


Stage 1
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
8-10 fresh curry leaves
1 chilli, deseeded and chopped very finely

Stage 2
3 tbsp butter or ghee
1 onion, chopped finally
1-2 chillis, deseeded and chopped finely
1 tbsp minced garlic
8 ounces red lentils
1½ pints water
3 tbsp roasted garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
7 ounces tomatoes, skinned and chopped
A dash of lemon juice
Salt and black pepper

Stage 1
1. Heat the oil. Add the cumin and mustard seeds, cooking for about 30 seconds
2. Fry the onion until crispy.
3. Add the garlic and chilli. Cook for a further 2 minutes until the garlic softens
4. Add the curry leaves and cook for another 2 minutes
5. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave aside

Stage 2
1. Heat the butter or ghee in the same saucepan. Add the onions, ginger and chilli and cook for about 10 minutes until golden brown
2. Add the lentils and cover with the onion mix
3. Mix in the water, bring to the boil and leave to cook for about 50 minutes
4. Add the garam masala and coriander
5. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and freshly ground pepper
6. Cook for another 10 minutes
7. Remove about one third of the mix and blend into a smooth paste
8. Return to the pan and mix in
9. Mix in the onion and garlic mix from the first stage
10. Serve as a main dish with naan bread or as a side dish

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Here is the link to the recipe on this blog


Pollo Asado



Food smells conjure up so many memories – mostly good, thankfully! I can’t remember what age I was when I first encountered Pollo Asado but it was memorable. Love at first bite as the cliché goes!

Long before the chicken rotisserie machine graced every supermarket and the concept of a raw chicken without giblets was commonplace, my mother brought home an unimaginable feast – a cooked chicken from the local shop in Spain. I remember every detail – the bright yellow plastic bag and the tinfoil package inside. But mostly, I remember the delicious smell, the juices dripping into the bag and the heat off the parcel!

It was one of those simple meals which was divine. Mum put the chicken on a plate and we broke pieces of bread. Eating with our fingers and putting bread into the juices was truly amazing. I worried about the yellowish colour of the flesh but was assured the bird had been corn fed and that was part of the beautiful flavour we were enjoying.

I often cook Pollo Asado but while delicious, it will never be on par with that first encounter. Sometimes, it is eaten with hands and bread or mixed salad or chips. Whatever accompanies it, there are rarely any leftovers!

All the ingredients are commonplace in the kitchen and the chicken is roasted in the usual fashion. The level of garlic, however, is not for the faint hearted!

Whole chicken (c. 4lbs)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 dessert spoon of sea salt flakes
Generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees
2. Combine all the ingredients together to make a paste*
3. Rub the paste into the skin of the chicken and allow to stand for about 30 minutes
4. Place in a covered tin and put in the oven
5. Cook for 20 minutes before reducing the heat to 170
6. Cook for 1 hour
7. Remove the lid and cook for another 20-30 minutes until the skin is browned and the juices run clear
8. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving

*The salt can be omitted and sprinkled over instead (this makes the skin crispier).


Beef, Chilli

Dining around schedules


We’re on different schedules these days, the teen and me. Not only do I need a dinner which fits but something which can be served with a range of different items according to the mood of the diner. So a big pot of chilli suits all these. Spicy and tasty. In this home, it is served with rice, baked potatoes, potato wedges, in pitta bread with salad or in a bowl with some grated cheese on top.

1 lb good quality minced beef
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin kidney beans or black beans drained and rinsed
1 medium onion chopped finely
3 cloves garlic chopped finely
1 hot chilli deseeded and chopped very finely or 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 red pepper deseeded and chopped finely
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
Salt and pepper

1. In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil and fry the onions for about 5 minutes
2. Add in the garlic, chilli and red pepper – frying for another couple of minutes
3. Break up the mince, add to the pan and after coating with the onion mix, brown the meat
4. Stir in the spices and cook for another minute
5. Add in the rest of the ingredients
6. Reduce to a simmer and cook slowly for about 1 hour

Beef, Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti, Meatballs and Song…

This week, I resurrected one of the Teen’s favourite dinners from when she was a tot. Not only did she like the dish for its flavour but because it always involved singing too. How can you have spaghetti without belting out…

On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese
I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed
It rolled in the garden and onto the floor
And then my poor meatball, it rolled out the door
It rolled in the garden and under a bush
And then my poor meatball was nothing but…

I dreaded making this dish as I found the preparation sooooooo tedious. That was then. Originally, I hand-rolled each and every meatball, coated each in flour and pan fried each and every one of them before adding them to the sauce. One day, my pal Jimmy, who’s a chef, guided me towards making this a far easier meal to make. Using a small ice cream scoop cuts out work and makes the meatballs the same size. Baking them in the oven on a tray takes out even more of the work and more importantly, with no added oil, removes the frying aspect of the dish. Once the process got easier, the Teen asked for it even more! Eh…thanks, Jimmy… 🙂

For us, Spaghetti and Meatballs remains a fun dish full of nostalgia and it’s a great dish when cooking for pals. This recipe feeds 4-6 and is well received by young and those who like to remember being young.  It also remains a very tasty dish where spaghetti can be swapped for different shaped pasta or, dare I say it, rice?!?! There is a kick to this recipe as it contains chilli. If you don’t want it spicy, simply ditch the chilli!


Spaghetti and Meatballs

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)
1 heaped tablespoon of flour
3 fluid ounces of good quality beef stock
1 heaped tablespoon, tomato puree
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped finely
1 tablespoon basil, chopped finely
2 tins chopped tomatoes
Salt and ground pepper to season

2lbs minced beef
1 small onion, chopped as finely as possible
1 heaped cup breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten
Good shake of dried parsley
Salt and Pepper

To serve
Cooked pasta
Grated cheese

1. Preheat the oven at 180C
2. To make the meatballs, blend all the ingredients together
3. With a small ice cream scoop, shape the mince mixture into walnut size pieces and place on a baking tray
4. When the oven is heated, place the baking tray in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes
5. For the sauce, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan
6. Add the onion and cover with a lid, allowing the onion to cook until soft (for about 5 minutes)
7. Add the garlic (and chilli) and cook for another two minutes
8. Add the flour and allow to cook for a minute
9. Add the stock in three stages, making sure to blend it with the flour, onion and garlic mix
10. Blend in the tomato puree and then sprinkle in the herbs
11. After adding the tins of tomatoes to the mix, season with salt and black pepper
12. Allow to simmer
13. Place in a blender and blitz for about one minute until smooth
14. Return to the pot and heat through
15. Add the meatballs and cover with the sauce
16. Place the lid on the saucepan and allow to simmer for 10 minutes
17. Serve with spaghetti or pasta shapes of your choice and a big handle of grated cheese
18. And sing…!


photo 2 (1)

Soups, Spiced Butternut Squash, Spiced Butternut Squash Soup, Spiced Butternut Squash Soup, Spiced Cauliflower, Vegan, Vegetarian

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Winter dawned yesterday when I was reduced to wearing the dreaded tights! URGH! I hate them but needs must and all that.

And with the cold comes the greater need for soup. Technically, a slow release food, soup is great. Spiced Butternut Squash Soup is one of the teen’s favourites. I like it because it is so easy to make and it fills the house with the really warm and comforting aroma of spices. She likes it because it is tasty and smooth enough in texture to fit in her flask for college. A winner all round methinks!

Here’s the recipe.

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
(Serves 4)

1 butternut squash, chopped into large chunks with the skin left on but seeds removed
1 large onion, skin removed and halved
1 dessert spoon, coriander seeds
1 teaspoon, mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sea salt and ground pepper
Extra Virgin olive oil
1 pint vegetable

1. Preheat the oven at 180c
2. Place the chunks of butternut squash on a baking tray, skin down
3. Add the halved onion
4. Sprinkle with spices
5. Season with sea salt and ground pepper
6. Cook in the oven until the flesh is soft (about 30 minutes)
7. Allow to cool
8. Scoop the spiced flesh off the skin and put in a liquidiser
9. Add the stock
10. Liquidise until the texture is smooth and all ingredients are blended
11. Pour into saucepan to heat and season to taste
12. Serve on its own or with a swirl of cream.




Kofta, Lamb

Lamb Kofta – a versatile feast

In our home, Lamb Kofta is one of the handiest dishes as it is quick to prepare and adapts to all seasons. In Summer, I serve this with flatbreads or pitta, wedges of lemon and salad. Side dishes include plain yoghurt, baba ganoush, yoghurt with mint, raita, roast vegetables (strips of red peppers and red onion) or all of them if we have company!

 In Winter, these Lamb Kofta are delicious served with pilau rice, steamed spinach or roasted vegetables (aubergine, red pepper and slivers of red onion) and a yoghurt accompaniment. It’s not the authentic way to serve them but it has got the thumbs up from the teen and many visitors (including the numerous au pairs who have wandered through our lives).

 Lamb Kofta

1lb lamb, minced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
¼ tsp cayenne pepper or 1 green chilli, chopped finely
½ rind of lemon, grated (more if you prefer)
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped finely
Salt and pepper

1. Place all ingredients in a bowl
2. Mix together thoroughly
3. The mix can be made in advance and left in the fridge until needed
4. Using a small ice cream scoop, measure out into equal meatball size
5. These can be fried as meatballs in a little sunflower oil for a few minutes on each side until brown. I prefer to put them on a tray with no oil in the oven at 180c for about 10 minutes
6. Alternatively, two meatballs can be moulded onto a skewer in a sausage shape and grilled. They should be grilled at a medium to hot heat for about 4-5 minutes on each side until brown
7. They are best served hot but can be eaten cold too.