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

Burrito Bowl


Heading towards the end of the week, cupboards and fridge are becoming bare and I had no interest in braving the supermarket. I had seen a recipe for a vegan burrito bowl so decided to conjure up my own version.

I served this with homemade guacamole, salsa and jalapeños. I added some chopped onions, tomatoes and shredded lettuce on the side of the bowl. All things that were in the kitchen. The verdict? Quick, cheap and very, very, tasty.

1 cup brown rice, cooked
1 tin, black beans
2 tbsp, sunflower oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large clove garlic, chopped finely
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 dessertspoon, tomato puree
1/2 tsp, ground coriander
1/2 tsp, ground cumin
1/2 tsp, cumin seeds
1/2 tsp, cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp, smoked paprika
1/2 tsp, sugar
2 tbsp, lime juice
Sea salt to season

1. Heat the oil in a wok
2. Fry the onion until soft
3. Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes
4. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree and lime juice
5. Add the spices and cook for a couple of minutes
6. Season with salt and add sugar
7. Add the black beans and heat through
8. Mix in the rice and heat through

Serve with
Shredded lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber

Vegan, Vegetarian

Vegetarian/Vegan Shepard’s Pie


This week, I was back in my cooking groove. Me – and not the Teen – had a craving for vegetarian Shepard’s Pie. I started looking at recipes but nothing much appealed. I then decided to cook my usual recipe and swap the meat for lentils. And it worked – brilliantly! If I hadn’t slipped into a food coma, I could have happily kept eating it. Total comfort food and, dare I say it, nicer than the traditional meat version. I think the Teen gave it the thumbs up too as the leftovers vanished!

With this recipe, there is enough for four generous dinner portions. The mash can be either traditional, made with milk and butter, or vegan, made with soya milk and olive oil.

8 ounces, green lentils*
1½ pint, vegetable stock
2 tbsp, olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2-3 stalks celery, chopped into small pieces
4 ounces, mushrooms chopped into small pieces
3 fluid ounces, red wine
2 tbsp, tomato puree
1 tbsp, dried parsley
1 tsp, dried mixed herbs
1 bay leaf
½ tsp, sugar
Sea salt and black pepper

2lbs, potatoes
3 fluid ounces, milk/soya milk
Generous knob butter/2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

*These lentils keep their shape while other varieties could turn to mush in this recipe

1. Place the lentils in a saucepan, cover with a pint of cold vegetable stock
2. Bring the lentils gently to the boil and let them cook slowly for about 15 minutes
3. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan
4. Add the chopped onions and cook gently until carmelised (about 8-10 minutes)
5. Add the carrots and cook for a further 5 minutes
6. Add the celery and mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes
7. Add the red wine and cook for a further 2-3 minutes
8. Add the tomato puree, remaining half pint of stock, sugar, mixed herbs, parsley, bay leaf and season with salt and pepper
9. Strain the lentils and add to the mix
10. Heat the oven to 180 C
11. Leave the lentil mix to cook for about 30 minutes to allow the flavour to develop.
12. Boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until cooked
13. Strain the potatoes and return to a low heat to let any remaining water dry off
14. Add the milk and butter/ soya milk and olive oil
15. When heated, remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper and mash until the potatoes until smooth
16. Remove the bay leaf and place the lentil mix in an oven dish
17. Cover with the potato mix on top and even out to the edges with a fork
18. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

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

Vegan, Vegetarian

Corn Chowder


I’ve been making this chowder for over thirty years. In many flats I lived in, I often had a pot of this on the stove once a week. While it can be served immediately, I prefer to cook it the day before and let the flavour seep into the beans.

And it’s more than a soup – it’s a full meal. This recipe makes four main course servings. It also has curative properties – I often found the pot empty after flatmates arrived home after the witching hour!

I’ve made this recipe vegan but for vegetarians, I highly recommend a handful of grated cheddar on the top when serving. It is so hearty, it doesn’t need any other accompaniment.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 head of broccoli, florets and some of stalk
1 tin butter beans, drained (or the equivalent of dried butter beans, soaked and pre-cooked)
1 bag frozen corn*
1 tablespoon, parsley (dried)
1 heaped teaspoon, mixed herbs (dried)
1½ pints good quality vegetable stock
Sea salt and ground black pepper to season

1. Heat the oil
2. Fry onion until soft for about 8-10 minutes
3. Add garlic and continue cooking for 2 more minutes
4. Add in the carrots and potatoes and mix in thoroughly
5. Add stock, broccoli and butter beans, parsley and mixed herbs
6. Season to taste with salt and pepper
7. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes
8. Add corn and simmer for another 5 minutes
9. Serve

* Tinned corn doesn’t suit this recipe

Vegan, Vegetarian

Walnut Roast

When I ate only vegetarian food, a good nut roast was always welcome. And I had exacting standards! My pal, Nóirín, was the first to introduce me to this fare and she set the bar mighty high. A brazil nut roast served with vegetarian gravy, roast potatoes and vegetables, it was the food of kings! Over the years, I have made many, many, nut roasts – sometimes at midnight with the gentle persuasion of alcohol and my former flatmate (ahem, Susan!)

I often cooked nut roasts for my mother. Unfortunately, while she found them tasty, she also found them very confusing. Instead of having them as a main course with vegetables, I often found her eating a slice with a good spread of fruit jam on top…

This is the first vegan nut roast I made. I usually use melted butter to bind it all together. I changed things around and this turned out as a very tasty alternative. I served it with some ratatouille and new potatoes steamed in their skins.

7 ounces Walnuts
7 ounces, wholemeal breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons, dried parsley
2 teaspoons, dried mixed herbs
5 ounces mushrooms, chopped roughly
1 medium onion, chopped roughly
3 tablespoons, olive oil
Sunflower oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oven to 180C degrees
2. Lightly grease a loaf tin with a little sunflower oil
3. Line the body of the tin with enough parchment that it can also fold over the top of the mixture
4. Place the walnuts on a baking tray and roast for about 8 minutes
5. Place the breadcrumbs and herbs in a bowl
6. Grind the roasted walnuts in a blender until they are broken up but not powder
7. Add to the breadcrumb mix
8. Using the blender again, mince the onions and mushrooms together until it is nearly paste-like
9. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan
10. Add the onion and mushroom mix and cook gently for about 5 minutes until the juices flow out
11. Add this to the dry ingredients
12. Season well with salt and pepper and combine thoroughly
13. Turn into the loaf tin and push the mix into the tin so it is evenly distributed
14. Fold the parchment over the top and seal with some tinfoil
15. Bake for 20-25 minutes
16. Remove the tinfoil and bake for another 10 minutes
17. Cut into slices and serve hot or cold

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.

Main, Vegan, Vegetarian

Vegan Samosas

Ever since The Great British Bake Off, I’ve loved the food Nadiya Hussain prepares. On one cookery programme, she made a rather massive samosa pie for a picnic. A lightbulb moment! I’ll make small Samosa Pasties for the Teen the next time she’s home.

I set about devising a pastry and a filling that were both vegan. The idea was to make enough pastry for two pie lids, divide the pastry into 6 pieces, fill them and then crimp them like Cornish Pasties. The image in my head was glorious! The reality somewhat different.

The pastry I came up with was fine. I was a little timid in my treatment of it for fear I might overwork it. With a little patience, I was able to roll it out and curl it over a rolling pin. Making it into individual pasties was, however, a self-deluding pipe (pie?) dream!

Plan B. I took out a tart plate and opted to use that instead. I prepared the pastry and put the whole thing together. I followed Nadiya’s lead of adding turmeric in the pastry. I thought this was important to give it some colour as, being vegan, I wouldn’t be able to egg wash or milk wash the finished offering. I discovered alternatives of using water or almond milk to seal the edges and of using oil or almond milk to wash the lid. I opted for water to seal and oil to wash.

The result? It was lovely and the filling was delicious. The pastry was not the easiest to work with. If I was to opt for a ‘purist’ approach, I would make it again. If I was to opt for an easier approach, and one where the pastry could be shaped into the much desired pasty, I’d go for shop bought since I discovered that Jusrol’s shortcrust, puff and filo pastries are all vegan!

What did I serve it with? A mixed salad and tomato relish. The Teen approved. She liked the filling so much, she said she’d have it as a main or side dish as well.

12 ounces, plain flour
8 tablespoons, sunflower oil
4-6 tablespoons, cold water (adjust according to how dry the pastry is)
1 teaspoon, salt
1-2 teaspoons, turmeric
Flour for rolling

2 tablespoons, sunflower oil
1 teaspoon, coriander seeds
½ teaspoon, fennel seeds
½ teaspoon, fenugreek seeds
¼ teaspoon, mustard seeds
1 tablespoon, freshly grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced finely
1 green chilli, minced finely
1 small onion, minced finely
2 teaspoons, coriander powder
¾ teaspoon, turmeric
½ teaspoon, garam masala
6-7 curry leaves
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut in small cubes
3-4 fluid ounces, water
4 ounces, frozen peas
Sea salt
Sunflower oil to wash the pie lid

1. To make the pastry: place all ingredients in a large bowl
2. Mix together until combined (adjust water as needed)
3. Put onto a floured board and bring it into a pastry ball
4. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes
5. Crush the coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds and mustard seeds
6. Heat the oil, add the seeds and cook for about 1 minute to release the spices
7. Add the onion and cover with the spices
8. Put the lid on the pot and cook slowly until the onion is soft, shaking the pot ever now and again to ensure the mix doesn’t stick or the spices don’t burn
9. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a couple more minutes
10. Add the ground coriander, turmeric, garam masala and curry leaves
11. Add the potatoes, cover with the spiced mix, add 2 fluid ounces of water and place the lid back on the pot (add more water if needed)
12. Cook for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft
13. Season with a little salt, add the peas and cook for a further 5 minutes
14. Put aside to cool
15. Back to the pastry: cut into two
16. Roll out piece for the bottom and then one for the lid
17. Fill with the samosa filling
18. Wet the edges with water and seal the edge using a fork
19. Wash the lid with oil
20. Bake at 180 C degrees for 25-30 minutes

Baking and stuff, Flapjacks

Yeah! Flapjacks!

photo 2 (3)


I’ve been very lax recently. While home cooking continued on course, the time to photograph, write up and record was in short supply. Tonight, I accomplished all three and feel pretty proud of myself!

Flapjacks remind me of being in the Girl Guides. I’m not sure why as I never remember making them then. As my sojourn into the Guides was short-lived, it is little wonder my memory is so scratchy! I know I didn’t get a badge for baking them because that was earned for baking brown bread. Hard as a rock because there was a misprint in the recipe, which called for ‘milk’ and not ‘buttermilk’, the Brigade Leader awarded me the badge – begrudgingly.

The Guides was not for me. I liked the fun but balked at the regimentation, the tasks, the awful leather belt, cycling through cold nights to get there and the uniform. I hated my school uniform so it is still amiss to why I raced home to change from one uniform into another to attend the Guides. Why did I leave? Truth be told, I didn’t really leave – I ran away. The word ‘camping’ was mentioned and that was me gone. I have never slept in a tent and never intend to. I like my creature comforts too much – crisp bed linen, heating, hot water and now that I am that bit older, a well stocked mini-bar! Did I enjoy any thing about the my time in the Guides? Sporting my one and only badge could probably be the sum total of it had I stayed long enough to sew it on! And an odd memory of Flapjacks.

Flapjacks do odd things to our senses. Why is it that when we throw oatmeal into the mix, we kid ourselves it’s healthy? Flapjacks may contain oatmeal but listen closely to the other ingredients and you can hear your arteries harden! Nevertheless, they are still delicious and I can fool myself when looking at them that they are health bars or fashionable energy bars. I used organic oatmeal tonight – not because I was trying to imbibe any extra fibre into these gorgeous baked babies but because it was all I had in the cupboard. I also added sultanas – not for their vitamin content but because they were sitting next to the oatmeal and add an extra dimension of chewiness!

Flapjacks is my favourite traybake but so many get them wrong. They have to be gooey and chewy to be worthy of the name. My all-time favourite is sold in Courtney’s Bakery in Dingle, County Kerry. Chewy and sweet with the corners dipped in chocolate. Perfection!


4 1/2 ounces butter
4 1/2 ounces brown sugar
9 ounces oatmeal
3 tablespoons golden syrup
Pinch of salt
2 ounces of sultanas (optional)


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C
2. Grease a baking tin and line with baking parchment (I use one which is 20cm x 20cm)
3. Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl
4. Melt the butter
5. When melted, add the butter and golden syrup to the dry ingredients, mixing until all are combined
6. Turn into the baking tray – press into the corners and flatten down so that the mixture will bake evenly
7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown
8. Let cool in the tin and when ready, cut into 9 generous or 12 small squares.

Soups, Vegan, Vegetable Soup with Barley, Vegetable Soup with Barley, Vegetable with Barley

‘Baby teeth’ optional

We’re all about soups this month. I make them, the Teen guzzles them – win-win situation. Sometimes, however, I tire of clever soups and simply want something warm and comforting. And quick to make and cheap!

This vegetable soup I make is one of the Teen’s favourites. Not only does she like the flavour, she adores the fact that it is a one pot soup with no blender etc. to wash up. There’s another reason we like this soup – it contains a good dollop of nostalgia. I usually cook up a pot on ‘St Stephens Day’ or ‘Wren’s Day’ as called at home. Turkey and ham sandwiches and homemade vegetable soup – a feast fit for kings!

This is a soup with bits. Rather than spend countless hours chopping vegetables neatly, this involves chopping them any which way, throwing them into the pot, cooking the soup and then using a potato masher to break it all down. Simple!

Removing the chicken stock makes it vegetarian and then using only sunflower oil will make it vegan. Removing the butter also makes it dairy free. I am unsure how well it freezes – there are never any leftovers.

Barley can be added too. About half a cup, soaked for half an hour and cooked with the soup makes it more of a meal than a snack. I like barley now – I refused to eat it when little as I was convinced they were ‘baby teeth’. No amount of effort on my mother’s part could convince me otherwise!


Vegetable Soup with Barley

1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 ounce butter and one tablespoon sunflower oil (or two tablespoons sunflower oil)
2 pints of chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon fresh parsley or a good sprinkling of dried herbs
1 level teaspoon, dried mix herbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to season
Half cup of barley

1. Melt the butter and/or oil
2. Fry the onions for a few minutes until translucent
3. Add the carrots and potatoes and cook for a few minutes
4. Add the stock, herbs and ground pepper (the amount of salt added will depend on the stock used and personal preference)
5. When the vegetables are soft, used the potato masher to break them down
6. Serve hot with crusty bread or brown bread.