Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Poppadum Packets

The hardest to find ingredient for this recipe is the raw poppadums, but any large supermarket should have them.


  • 10 uncooked poppadums
  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1cm pieces
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, crushed
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 3 tbps tomato puree
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil for frying


  1. Place the raw poppadums in a dish or pan with sides and pour hot water over the poppadums until they are well covered. Leave to soften while you prepare the filling.
  2. Boil the sweet potato pieces in water for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. Fry the onion, garlic, chilli, garam masala and coriander seeds in 2 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan.
  4. When the onion starts to soften add the tomato puree and sweet potato pieces and mix well. Remove from the heat.
  5. Add the 4 tbsp sunflower oil to a large frying pan and heat over a medium heat.
  6. While the oil is heating in the frying pan, take an uncooked poppadum and fill it with some of the sweet potato filling. Carefully fold the edges over to seal it into a little packet. I'd recommend using a heaped tbsp of the filling at most for each poppadum; any more and you risk not being able to fold it up without breaking it.
  7. Fry the packets in the frying pan for a couple of minutes on each side, or until the poppadum has crisped up and started to bubble.
  8. Serve with a green leafy salad.

Make 10 packets. Use 2 packets per person as a starter.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Feta and Spinach Pie

Some people might not call this a proper pie, as it lacks any pasty on the underside. However I didn't want the shortcrust pastry to be too overpowering, so I think it works best if there's only a lid of pastry, otherwise the subtle flavours of the feta and spinach could be lost.


  • 190g spinach, washed and rougly chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 250g flour
  • 125g butter, ideally at room temperature
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 200g feta, cut into 1cm cubes


  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees.
  • Find a suitable dish to go in the oven. I used a 22cm pie dish, but any oven-proof 1.0 litre container should do.
  • Put the spinach, oregano, olive oil and black pepper in a large saucepan, add 3 tablespoons of water and put a lid on the saucepan.
  • Heat over a low heat for 20 minutes. Once the spinach has cooked down to a denser green mess, make sure to stir it every few minutes to stop it burning.
  • While the spinach is cooking make the pastry by placing the flour in a large bowl.
  • Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. Now you need to rub-in the butter and flour. To do this use your finger tips to pick up flour and butter and rub it together. You need to do this until all the butter is mixed. When you've done this the flour and butter mixture should look a bit like breadcrumbs.
  • Add the water and mix well. You should be able to form a ball of pastry. If it's not sticking together then add some more water, a small amount at a time.
  • Once the pastry is made, roll it out to the diameter of your pie dish.
  • When the spinach is done remove it from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.
  • Add the feta to the spinach and mix well.
  • Put the feta and spinach mixture into the pie dish and cover with the pastry.
  • Poke a couple of holes in the pastry to allow air to escape and place in the oven.
  • Bake for 25 minutes.
  • Leave to stand for 5 minutes after removing from the oven to allow the filling to cool a bit.
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Spiced Butternut Squash Pie

I recently got a nice pie dish as a present so I've been trying to think up exciting vegetarian pie recipes. The filling for this pie is suitable rich and develops a lovely thick gravy around the chunks of squash.


  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2/3 tsp ground fenugreek
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1cm pieces
  • 300ml water
  • 175g plain flour
  • 75g sunflower oil
  • 50ml water


  • Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.
  • Place the onion, turmeric, pepper, fenugreek and salt in a small blender and blend until it's a smooth paste.
  • Put the smooth paste into a large saucepan which you have a lid for and head over a medium heat for 3 minutes.
  • Add the butternut squash pieces and 300ml water and mix well.
  • Turn the heat down, place the lid on the mixture and leave to simmer for 30 minutes over a low heat. Stir it every 5 minutes to make sure that the butternut squash isn't burning on the bottom of the pan.
  • While that simmers away, put the flour in a large bowl and add the oil.
  • Mix well with a knife until the oil is absorbed by the flour. Season the mixture with ground black pepper if desired.
  • Add the 50ml water to the flour and oil mixture and mix with the knife until all the water is absorbed.
  • Use your hands to kneed to dough for a couple of minutes.
  • Divide the dough in half and roll out one half of it so it's large enough to cover your pie dish. I used a 22cm wide pie dish, but a slightly larger or smaller one should be fine. If you don't have a pie dish then any oven proof dish which can hold about 1.5 litres will do.
  • Use a fork to gently dent the pastry in the dish. You just want to leave a few dimples all over the pastry, don't press anywhere near hard enough to go all the way through.
  • By now the butternut squash should be cooked, so pour it into the pie dish over the pastry.
  • Roll out the other half of pastry so that it will cover the pie dish. Use a pastry brush (or repeated dipping of your finger into a cup of water) to dampen the edge of the pastry that is in the pie dish.
  • Place the rolled out pastry on top of the pie dish and press down the edges to seal it.
  • Spike a couple of holes in the pastry top to let gas escape.
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving to allow the inside time to cool down and solidify a bit.
Serves 3.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Asparagus Risotto

This is a good dish for lazy summer evenings. Roasting the asparagus covered in lemon in the oven provides it with a delightfully tangy coating.


  • 1 bunch of asparagus, washed and tough ends removed by gently bending until they snap
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 200ml white wine
  • 400ml vegetable stock


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. In a bowl combine the asparagus, lemon juice and dried mint and use your hands to make sure it's well coated.
  3. Place the asparagus on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until soft.
  4. In a large sauce pan fry the onion in the butter over a medium heat until it starts to go soft.
  5. Add the risotto rice to the pan and stir well so the rice gets coated in the butter.
  6. After about half a minute add the white wine and stir well.
  7. Continue to stir the risotto mixture every couple of minutes. When it starts to get dry add 50ml of the vegetable stock.
  8. Repeat this process of waiting until the rice has absorbed the liquid before adding more until all the vegetable stock is used up.
  9. This should take about 20 minutes and so the asparagus should be nicely roasted now. Remove it from the oven and chop all but two of the spears into 2cm pieces.
  10. Stir the chopped asparagus into the risotto and leave for a minute to heat through.
  11. Season with fresh black pepper and serve with the whole asparagus spears placed on top.
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Soy Bean Noodles

Soy beans have a subtle nutty flavour which goes well with the deep flavours of the miso in this dish.


  • 75g dried soy beans, soaked overnight in plenty of water
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 leeks, washed and thinly sliced
  • 3 sticks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 blocks of medium egg noodles
  • 1 tbsp brown miso paste


  1. Drain the soy beans and add them to a pan with plenty of fresh water.
  2. Bring to the boil and simmer for at least and hour and a half. If using fresh soy beans then you don't need to boil them for more than a couple of minutes, but dried soy beans can make some people ill if not boiled for long enough.
  3. When the beans have about 30 minutes left, add the onion, coriander seeds, leeks and celery to a small pan with the oil and fry over a medium heat, stirring frequently.
  4. Heat some water in another pan and cook the noodles as per the instructions on their packet.
  5. When the onions and leeks start to soften, which should be after about 10 minutes, drain the soy beans and the noodles.
  6. Combine all the ingredients together in a large sauce pan and add in the tablespoon of miso paste.
  7. Stir well until all the miso has disolved and serve in bowls.
Serves 2.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Bread Dumplings with Cabbage

A friend of mine introduced me to the wonders of bread dumplings via his Austrian grandmother. The chunks of bread in them give a variable texture, which is a nice alternative to the uniformity of other types of dumplings.


  • 2 red onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 slices of bread, made into breadcrumbs
  • 4 slices of bread, roughly cut into 1cm squares
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 2 white onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp dried juniper berries, crushed
  • 2 leeks, washed and thinly sliced
  • 1 small cabbage, sliced into small strips


  1. Fry the red onions in the olive oil until soft.
  2. In a large bowl combine the red onions, breadcrumbs and bread cubes together and mix well.
  3. Add the egg to the mixture and stir well.
  4. Use your hands to press the egg/bread mixture into 4 large dumplings.
  5. In a deep pan fry the white onions in the sunflower oil over a medium heat until they start to soften.
  6. Add the juniper berries, leeks and cabbage and mix well.
  7. Turn the heat right down low and make 4 depressions in the leek and cabbage mixture, large enough for the dumplings to rest in.
  8. Add four tablespoons of cold water to the pan.
  9. Place the dumplings in the depressions and then put a good fitting lid on the pan.
  10. Cook for 40 minutes or until the cabbage has softened. If it all starts to look a bit dry then add a couple more tablespoons of fresh water to the pan.
Serves 2.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Meatballs and Vegetables

Although meatballs are usually had with spaghetti pasta, I decided that I wanted a bit of a change from meatballs in sauce over pasta. This recipe keeps the tomato sauce but makes it into a thick stew with vegetables. It's also a great dish for saving on washing up as it only uses one pan to cook and one bowl to eat.


  • 2 small onions, thickly chopped
  • 300g Quorn Swedish style balls
  • 3 carrots, washed and sliced
  • 2 potatoes, washed and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 vegetable stock cube


  1. Fry the onions, meatballs, carrots and potatoes in the sunflower oil in a large pan, such as a wok. Use a medium heat to cook them reasonably slowly.
  2. Stir frequently and cook for 15 minutes or until the potato starts to soften a big.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, paprika and stock cube and mix well.
  4. Bring to a simmer and keep it at a simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve in bowls as it can be quite liquid.
Serves 2.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Sweet and Sour Quorn Noodles



  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 300g beef style Quorn pieces
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 2 carrots, washed and cut into 2 cm long pieces (with thickness of a few mm)
  • 2 blocks of medium egg noodles
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce (if you can only find dark then only add it right at the end)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 150ml water


  1. Put on a pan of water to boil for the noodles.
  2. Stir-fry the onion and Quorn pieces over a medium heat in the sunflower oil until they start to brown.
  3. Add the carrots and continue to stir-fry.
  4. When the pan of water is boiling, add the blocks of noodles to it and cook as per instructions on noodle packet.
  5. Mix up the ginger, cornflour, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, tomato puree and water in a mug or small jug.
  6. After a few minutes of stir-frying the carrots add the cornflour liquid mixture to the wok and mix well.
  7. Carry on stirring well as the sauce around the carrots and Quorn starts to thicken.
  8. Drain the water from the noodles when they are done and add to the wok.
  9. Stir a couple of times to get the noodles well mixed and covered in the sauce.
  10. Serve in bowls immediately. It's easiest to use forks or chopsticks to move the noodles from the wok to the bowls.
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Blue Cheese and Cauliflower Pasta

This is a simple one pan dish which has a strong flavoured sauce from the blue cheese.


  • 200g dried tagliatelle pasta
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into small 2 cm pieces
  • 150g green beans
  • 75g blue cheese, such as danish blue, crumbled or finely chopped


  1. Put on a large pan of boiling water.
  2. Add the pasta, cauliflower and green beans to the water.
  3. Bring to the boil and boil for 15 minutes.
  4. Drain most of the liquid off, but leave 30ml or so of the cooking liquid behind.
  5. While everything is still very hot, stir in the blue cheese. Stir until the cheese has all melted.
  6. Serve immediately while piping hot.

Serves 2.