Rich Mushroom Soup


My husband is a proud Yorkshire man and was brought up on a diet of all things Yorkshire, all of which he was delighted to introduce me to when we started dating. One of the foodstuffs he most loves is Hendersons Relish. I’d never heard of this before I met him, so there’s a good chance you may not have either. It’s like Worcester Sauce (don’t hate me, Yorkshire people), in that has an intense, savoury richness which adds an incredible umami flavour to any dish. Yorkshire people particularly like their pies slathered with it – and with good reason.

When we decided to try out the plant based diet, deep, savoury flavours were the ones I thought I’d miss the most. However, on making a mushroom soup, I have discovered that this does not necessarily need to be the case. I found, quite by chance, that Hendersons Relish (unlike Worcester Sauce) is vegan friendly. Woo!

This earthy soup is a wonderful warmer for lunch, as a starter, or with a fat hunk of sour dough, a satisfying dinner. Enjoy!

Rich Mushroom Soup

Serves 4 – takes 30 minutes 

3tbsp olive oil

1 onion

4 cloves garlic

600g mushrooms 

1 vegan stock cube

600ml water

3 tbsp Hendersons Relish

2 slices whole grain bread

Handful chopped chives

1. Roughly chop the onion and add to a large casserole dish with two tablespoons of the olive oil. Sauté gently for 5 minutes.

2. Finely chop the garlic and add to the pan, then roughly slice the mushrooms and add these too. Cook (without stirring) for 3-4 minutes, then add the stock cube, water and seasoning and cover. Simmer for ten minutes.

3. Meanwhile, put your oven on to the highest temperature. Cut the bread up into rough squares and toss with the remaining oil and some salt. Put in the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes until golden and crisp.

4. Whizz your soup with a blender or food processor. If it’s too thin, add some more water to your liking, then add the Hendersons Relish. Check your seasoning and add more if necessary.

5. To serve, top each bowl with a handful of croutons and chopped chives. Yum!

Advertisements

Black Forest Fruits and Beetroot Smoothie


Mornings can be rushed. Particularly weekday mornings. And when you’re trying to eat more healthily, it’s hard to avoid falling into the trap of grabbing something quick and instantly gratifying for breakfast (like a cereal bar). 

If you’ve got two minutes and a smoothie maker though, you have a healthy and nutritious breakfast at your fingertips.

When I first got my smoothie maker, I was a bit put off by the fruit and veg prep – if I’ve got to peel, slice, and de stone then it’s not exactly quick and easy. For this recipe, though, the extent of the prep is pouring – so easy and so delicious!


Black Forest Fruits and Beetroot Smoothie

Serve one

Ingredients 

1 handful frozen Black Forest Fruits

1 handful oats

250ml beetroot juice

1. Put all of the ingredients in the smoothie maker. Top up with water.

2. Whizz. Add more water if it’s too thick. 

You’re done! Simple, quick and so healthy.

Lentil Chilli with Roasted Sweet Potato


I have had a hiatus. It was supposed to be a two week hiatus – a little break to free up my crammed evenings. It turned into almost two and a half years! I have still been cooking; new recipes, old recipes. Some I’ve been keen to share, but I just didn’t have the momentum.

Then, things changed. Two things fell into place: a holiday, and a new outlook on food.

The holiday has left me with spare time I didn’t have before, and the new outlook came from watching a documentary called What The Health. A brief scour of the net tells us that, as with anything, the facts may not be entirely as presented in this documentary. However, it left me thinking that a plant based diet may be a good thing to try for a while, to see if there are any individual benefits for us.

I struggled though – where are the exciting, inventive vegan recipes? I’m not talking about making a chocolate cake from avocado, I’m talking about something quick, tasty and nourishing to fill you up on a week night. So, I decided to come back to log, mainly for myself, my plant based recipes. I’m hoping to aim for two a week – if I fall off the blogging wagon again, feel free to throw me back on it!

A couple of caveats – I’m aiming for plant based, not vegan, so there may be bits and pieces you’re not happy with if you’re vegan (check the ingredients list). Secondly, I’m not envisaging this to be an all consuming diet and I’m sure I’ll move away from it sometimes. We’ll see how it goes- this is the very beginning!

I have called this recipe a chilli for want of a better word although it has no spice (you could add some though); it is smoky and satisfying and very very easy!


Lentil Chilli with Roasted Sweet Potatoes 

Serves 4

Ingredients 

4 large sweet potatoes

3tbsp olive oil 

1 onion

400g chestnut mushrooms

400ml passata

2 x 250g packets of ready to eat lentils

2tsp smoked paprika

1tep dried oregano

2tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Method

1. Put the sweet potatoes in a bag and pour over 2 tbsp of the oil. Add a generous pinch of salt and rub them well to make sure they’re coated. Tip onto a baking tray and slice a cross into the top of each one with a sharp knife. Put in the oven at 180 degrees for an hour (or longer – the longer the better in my opinion). They’re done when a knife cuts through them easily.

2. For the chilli, finely chop the onion. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and add the onion, stirring, for two minutes. 

3. Chop the mushrooms into chunks and add to the pan. Leave to cook until they are starting to turn golden.

4. Add the passata, lentils, smoked paprika and oregano. Cook gently for 5-10 minutes, then taste and season with salt and pepper.

5. Just before you are about to eat, add the chopped parsley to the chilli. Slice the sweet potatoes and dollop the chilli on top. We also had a spoonful of vio life vegan cream cheese on top for a little creaminess, but this is optional.

Enjoy!

Chicken Skewers with Giant Cous Cous


Chicken Skewers with Giant Cous Cous (1)

I am back again, after another absence due entirely to laziness. So, new week, new resolve to share my recipes with you again. I have a backlog now! But, I’m sharing tonight’s dinner with you regardless because it is such a perfect Monday night meal.

Mondays are busy days. Or at least, it feels that way perhaps because of the shock of having to actually do things after the weekend!

I always get my food shopping delivered on Monday evenings, which means I have to plan a very quick meal because I’m never quite sure when it’s going to arrive, which is why this one is so perfect.

This would also be wonderful if you’re chancing the Spring weather and having a barbeque – the skewers would work brilliantly over charcoal.

This particular meal is ready in 15 minutes, and will serve 4. Enjoy, it’s a tasty one!

Chicken Skewers with Giant Cous Cous (2)

Chicken Skewers with Giant Cous Cous

400g diced chicken breast

1 tbsp ras-el-hanout

2 tbsps olive oil

300g giant cous cous

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 spring onions

1 pomegranate

100g feta

1 handful mint leaves

Salad leaves, to serve

1. In a bowl, mix your chicken with the ras-el-hanout, half of the olive oil and a pinch of salt. When all of the chicken is coated, thread each piece onto wooden skewers (about 4-5 pieces to each skewer) then cook in a griddle pan or on a barbeque over a high heat for approximately 10 minutes (until cooked through), turning often.

2. Meanwhile, pour the cous cous into a saucepan with about 600ml boiling water. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until soft, then drain.

3. Pour the cooked cous cous into a large bowl and add the remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sliced spring onions, pomegranate seeds, crumbled feta and chopped mint. Mix well, taste, and season if necessary.

4. To serve, have a skewer each with a pile of cous cous and a handful of salad leaves.

Greek Sharer with Courgette Fritters


Greek Sharer with Courgette Fritters (2)

What could be better, after a tiring Tuesday, than a meal you can basically put on a platter and eat? (Sure, with this meal there is a small amount of cooking – but this is so easy it barely counts). I love this sort of meal – see my Swedish Smorgasbord or my Greek Salad. They are perfect for Tuesday nights – not only are they seriously easy, but they are fun – sharing is fun, so lighten what could otherwise be a dreary night of the week.

You may notice some similarities between this and my Greek Salad. That is because they are both inspired by our honeymoon in Greece last year. When we were on Kos, we did a bus trip of the whole island. As part of this trip, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant high up a cliff which overlooked a tiny, beautiful cove. It was so peaceful. The friendly waiters brought us a 3 course lunch – bread and olives, then courgette fritters and tzatziki, followed by chicken skewered kebabs. It was a wonderful lunch, with a cool breeze coming off the ocean and the warm sun beating down on us. This is the sort of memory you need in the middle of February.

So, it is no surprise that today, when we woke again to frost and I can hear the rain beating against the window now, that we would want a meal to remind us of that delicious lunch on that beautiful island.

The fritters are the star of the show here – mix and match the additional bits as much as you like. I would advise you make the tzatziki too; they work so well together – but other than this, change the type of bread if you like, make your own hummus if you have the time, add some meat…whatever you like!

This’ll serve 4, and takes 15 minutes.

Greek Sharer with Courgette Fritters (1)

Greek Sharer with Courgette Fritters

2 courgettes

4 tbsps plain flour

10g grated parmesan

2 tbsp olive oil

300ml Greek yoghurt

1/2 cucumber

2 cloves garlic

4 pitta

250g hummus

A handful of green and black olives

10g feta, chopped

1. Put the pitta in the oven at 130 degrees to warm through for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, grate the courgette. Squeeze the grated courgette to get rid of the excess water (it’s good to do this in a tea towel), then put in a large bowl with the parmesan and flour. Mix well.

3. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Split the mixture into 6, then roll each bit and squash like a burger. Pop into the frying pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crisp. Remove from the pan and leave to rest on a piece of kitchen paper.

4. For the tzatziki, grate the cucumber and chop the garlic. Mix with the yoghurt and season with salt.

5. To serve, chop the pitta and add to your serving dish/board with the hummus, olives, feta, tzatziki and courgette fritters. Let everyone dig in!

Greek Sharer with Courgette Fritters (3)

Leftover Lentils


Leftover Lentils

This is not a particularly pretty photo – and for that I apologise – but it’s still a recipe I had to share with you.

This is a dish we often have as an accompaniment to meat or fish. At the weekend, my parents came to visit and we had these lentils served with lamb cutlets marinated with cumin and ground coriander. Hence – leftover lentils.

We used the leftovers in our dinner tonight – chicken and lentil soup – (which explains the need for me to share the recipe with you) but you could use them in all manner of recipes. They would be delicious, cold, on their own as a light lunch.

They’re also extremely nutritious – being lentils, they are packed full of good things and the veggies bring lots of vitamins and minerals to the table too. Get making them, then get inventive – let me know what you serve them with!

These will take approximately 30 minutes to make and will make approximately 6 servings. They will keep in the fridge for a few days, and freeze well too.

Leftover Lentils

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

1 leek

2 sticks celery

1 carrot

1 small glass white wine

500ml water

750g pre-soaked ready to eat puy lentils

1 bay leaf

1 sprig rosemary

1. Chop the onion and add to a large casserole dish with the olive oil. Cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes, then add the chopped leek, celery and carrot. Cook for a further 6-7 minutes, until the vegetables are starting to soften.

2. Pour in the white wine, allow to reduce, then add the water and lentils.

3. Bring to the boil, add the bay leaf and rosemary then simmer for 15-20 minutes (keep an eye on it and stir often) until the vegetables are cooked through. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Done!

Vegetable Korma


Vegetable Korma (1)

If someone asks you to think of a korma, what do you think of? Do you think of a bright, vibrant curry? Or do you think of a sickly sweet, yellow curry with a claggy sauce and most likely some overcooked chicken pieces?

In my opinion, the korma has been the ‘go to’ curry for when curry houses need to sell something mild. It feels unloved. There is no reason a korma needs to be like this; it is defined as a dish originating in South Asia or Central Asia[1] consisting of meat and/or vegetables braised in a spiced sauce made with yogurt, cream, nut or seed paste. There is nothing in there to say it needs to have a dyed yellow sauce, or that says it needs to taste overwhelmingly of dessert.

This particular version makes vegetables the star of the show, and is in fact vegan (I used coconut milk rather than yoghurt or cream to make the sauce). It’s also so tasty you won’t believe it’s good for you. Make it when you’re craving a curry – trust me, you’ll love it and you’ll feel much better afterwards than if you got a takeaway.

This will take 30-40 minutes to make, and will serve 4.

Vegetable Korma (2)

Vegetable Korma

1 baking potato

3 tbsps vegetable oil

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 onion, finely chopped

2 tsps garam masala

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3cm piece of ginger, finely chopped

1/2 green chilli, finely chopped

1 carrot, cut into 1cm pieces

300g dwarf beans, cut into 1 inch lengths

100g frozen peas

1 tin coconut milk

1. Bring a small pan of water to the boil. Peel the potato and chop into 1.5 cm chunks. Par boil for approximately 10 minutes.

2. In a large, high edged frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and onion; cook for 2 minutes, stirring often.

3. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Sizzle for about 30 seconds, then add the garam masala, cumin and coriander.

4. Add the carrot. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the green beans. Cook for another couple of minutes, stirring often.

5. Tip in the peas. Mix well, and when the peas have defrosted, add the potato. Tip in the coconut milk, bring to a simmer and season with salt. Put a lid on and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add a little water if it’s too thick.

6. Serve with a pile of fluffy rice. Delicious!

Vegetable Pad Thai


Sometimes, after the first day back at work, I need something to wake me up and kick me into shape. It can’t take long to cook – because all of those chores I was ‘going to do at the weekend’ need doing, and it needs to pack a punch with flavours.

I decided to go vegetarian for this because, with this dish, meat would be surplus to requirements. It’s all about the noodles and beansprouts. However, you could throw in a bit of chicken or a handful of prawns.

This recipe uses lots of beansprouts, and it means you can use less noodles. I’d recommend this for anyone looking to cut down on carbs – you could even make the dish with just bean sprouts and no noodles at all.

This will serve 2-3 and takes about 20 minutes to make.

Vegetarian Pad Thai

Vegetable Pad Thai

1 tbsp sesame oil

100g shallots

3 large cloves garlic

1 red chilli

4 spring onions

300g ribbon noodles (either straight to wok ones, or cooked and drained)

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp lime juice

3 tbsps light soy sauce

2 tbsps vegetarian oyster sauce

Handful coriander

Roasted peanuts, to serve

1. Finely chop the shallots, garlic and chilli. Halve the spring onions lengthways and then chop into 2 cm pieces.

2. Pour the oil into a wok or large frying pan and put on a high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, chilli and spring onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the noodles, soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar and oyster sauce. Cook for anther 2 minutes.

3. Add the beansprouts and stir fry for 5 minutes. Chop the coriander and add this. Take off the heat.

4. To serve, sprinkle roasted peanuts over each bowlful. Tuck in!

Honey Mustard Glazed Pork Chop with Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Sweetcorn


I saw a recipe online recently – I don’t remember where – which featured pork chop served with mac ‘n’ cheese on the side. Whenever I make macaroni cheese, I serve it as a main dish by itself (throwing a few veggies in there too to make it a bit healthier – see here). I think this is because the way I usually make it, it takes quite a long time and so I don’t want to over complicate matters.

I’ve changed the recipe this time, and I’ve used cream rather than making a bechamel which, although not particularly good for you, is quick, easy and delicious and is surely fine every now and then as a treat.

The pork chops are coated in a delicious sweet and spicy marinade which cuts through the mac ‘n’ cheese and, taking inspiration from the USA as this dish does, I decided to serve it with sweetcorn. I would have gone for full corn on the cobs, but couldn’t find any in my supermarket – so, a tin had to do and it did the job well! Frozen sweetcorn would be fine too.

This is the final of my first series of Cheap Eats – I hope you’ve been enjoying them and welcome any feedback you have!

This will serve 2 very greedy people and will take 45 minutes to make.

IMG_1078

Honey Mustard Glazed Pork Chop with Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Sweetcorn

For the pork:

2 pork chops

2 tbsps runny honey

2 tsps dijon mustard

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil

For the mac ‘n’ cheese:

250g macaroni

200g mature cheddar

150ml double cream

1 onion

1 small handful breadcrumbs

To serve:

300g tin of sweetcorn, cooked according to instructions

1. For the pork, mix together the honey, mustard, vinegar and oil in a bowl and drizzle over the pork chops on a plate, making sure they’re well coated. Put them in the fridge while you cook the mac ‘n’ cheese.

2. For the mac ‘n’ cheese, cook the macaroni in a pan of boiling water for 7-8 minutes. Grate the cheese and chop the onion.

3. Drain the macaroni and stir in most of the cheese, cream and onion. Season with salt and pepper, then tip into an oven proof dish. Top with the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs. Either pop under a hot grill or bake in the oven at 200 degrees until golden and bubbling.

4. For the chops, put a griddle pan on a high heat. When hot, place the pork chops in the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, then tip in any remaining marinade from the plate. Let it boil up, then remove from the heat.

5. To serve, pop the chops on plates and drizzle over the glaze from the griddle pan. Pile mac ‘n’ cheese and sweetcorn on the side. Delicious!

Leek and Chorizo Fusili


We’re having a New Year’s Eve party tomorrow and so this is an ’empty the fridge to make way for the booze’ recipe.

I’ve spent lots of the day in the kitchen preparing the food we’re having tomorrow night, so something quick and uncomplicated was a must. This recipe is so, so straightforward and you can throw in any meat or vegetable you have in your fridge.

I hope you all have a lovely New Year’s Eve!

Leek and Chorizo Fusili

250g fresh fusili

10g butter

25g chorizo

1 leek

200g half fat creme fraiche

150g frozen peas

1 handful fresh parsley

Cheese, to serve (parmesan or any other hard cheese would work)

1. Boil a pan of water and cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

2. Meanwhile, thinly slice the chorizo and put in a large saute pan over a medium high heat. When it starts to crisp, add the butter.

3. Slice the leek and add this to the pan. When it starts to soften, stir in the creme fraiche and frozen peas. Turn down the heat and allow to cook gently until the peas are cooked.

4. Stir in the chopped parsley and cooked pasta. It’s as easy as that!