Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Spicy Mango Chutney

Mango title

I think almost every Indian meal I had as a child, Mango Chutney was served.

Yes it probably wasn't Spicy Mango Chutney (not that I think this is particularly hot per se). But there it was, pride of place next to the Raiita and Naan Bread.

(The cracks in this jar, are the result of the dishwasher! - buut I think it looks quite cool!)

This Mango Chutney, I created the other night, as I was waiting for rice to boil, and Curry to reduce.


I hate chopping Mangoes. Hate hate hate it. But lucky for me, my Grandma came round a few days before, and she chopped it up for me!!


Thing is, I hate to see fruit (read : Food) go to waste, but as I mentioned before, the local fruit and veg market, is too good to pass up!


Mango Chutney was born, and because I can never pass up using the Chili Flakes. . I had to give it a little bit of a kick!


1 Ripe Mango cubed into 1" cubes (UBER ripe!)
1/2 cup Vinegar (see Notes)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp Chili Flakes (see Notes)
1 tbsp Chili Powder
1 tbsp Ginger Powder
1 tbsp Coriander seeds

1. Heat the oil in a medium size saucepan, gently fry all of the spices

2. Add the Mango to the pan and (for lack of a better word) smush it until the cubes begin to break down.
3. Stir in the Brown Sugar and Vinegar.
4. Cook for a further 5 minutes.


   Spice is completely subjective, if you don't like it spicy, then miss out some of the Chili


     Vinegar - I used Red Wine Vinegar, because that's what I had on hand, but I'm pretty sure ANY  
      vinegar would work, White Wine, Cider, Malt or even Pickling!

   Stay in touch with me, either on twitter or by email! I'll always be ready to talk.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Pea and Pistou Soup

Pea and Pistou soup title

OK so, it's getting toward that time of year, where everything is a little colder, the leaves have fallen from the trees, or the ones that are left clinging on are bright red as they anticipate the winter.

I hate it at the moment, night time appears to come twice as fast, it just makes me want to go to sleep, well, either go to sleep or cuddle up with a blanket, with a film on, eating a bowl of soup!

Here's one of the uses I mentioned for my homemade Pistou.

I know green soup is probably not the most attractive colour for a soup, but I quite like it. It has the same appeal to me as guacamole. Plus I love the contrast of the red and the green, I think it would be lovely served on boxing day, or any other day around Christmas time. Truly festive! (I know, too early to be thinking about Christmas!!!!)


I may have mentioned this before, but I'm a bit of a lover of all things spicy! My all time favourite soup is, well, anything with chili in!

This soup is so simple to make, you can whip up an entire vat full in about ten minutes!

Normally I am totally against frozen veg, when they are frozen, they just seem to lose all of their flavour, but there are two bags of vegetables that are permanent fixtures in my freezer. Peas. and Sweetcorn. (well not just any peas, Petit pois)

Growing up my francophile mother used to refuse to buy any other peas than petit pois, and I think she might have been on to something, because although other varieties work, nothing comes close to the sweetness given off by the petit pois.

Try it, you'll see.


Serve this soup sprinkled with dried chili flakes, and accompanied with wholemeal flat breads toasted and cut into strips and you will be everyone's favourite person!


You know what I like: Simple, fast, colourful, tasty, spicy, cheap and makes me forget meat ever existed!

Not too much to ask for is it?!



1 Onion
1 tbsp Oil (see Notes)
2 tbsp Pistou
2 cups Frozen Peas (see Notes)
500ml Vegetable Stock (see Notes)
Dried Red Chili Flakes

1. Dice the Onion and sweat in a large pan with the Oil and a few of the Chili Flakes until translucent.
2. Add the Peas and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
3. Pour over the Stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat and  either leave to cool slightly before blending, or blend with a stick blender. The soup should be slightly rustic and chunky looking, not a complete puree. 
5. Pour the soup back into the pan and bring back to simmering point, you may need to add more water at this point if the soup is looking a little thick.
6. Stir in the Pistou.
7. Remove from the heat and serve with a few extra Chili Flakes.


I showed you how to make homemade Pistou in my last post, however, if you don't have time to make your own batch (you must be really pressed for time, because it takes 30 seconds!) or you can't find fresh Basil, there are a few brands of really good Pistou, just make sure that they are Vegan friendly, some brands like to add cheese.
The Peas I like to use are Petit pois. Although slightly more expensive than their Garden Pea cousins, they are much, much sweeter. Garden Peas are just as lovely in this recipe though.


Oil - I don't like to use too much Olive Oil, so I usually use a little Sunflower Oil, but most oils will work. I wouldn't recommend sesame oil though (partly because it is really strong tasting, and partly because I don't like it much!)
Stock - I like to make my own stock, but there are a few good brands of vegetable stock available, I also don't think it really matters if you buy it in cube form, just go easy on any seasonings you may add however because stock cubes tend to be really salty.


   Stay in touch with me, either on twitter or by email! I'll always be ready to talk.


Pistou title

In my pre-vegan, student days, there was nothing better than a dish of pasta coated with garlicky Pesto and sprinkled with Cheese. (there would probably be a pint sat next to said dish of carbs! - but being as I don't drink any more, and my diet has changed drastically. This is  my alternative.)


Pistou always looks oily after it starts to settle and separate out, but for an entire bowl I would probably only use 1 or 2 tsp's. A little goes a long way. It is the Hulk of the pasta world!


Although this sauce can be used directly onto pasta, there are hundreds of uses for it, in soups, casseroles, or in pies and pastries.


Being that there are only four ingredients, three if you don't count the salt seasoning it really does just go to show how simple ingredients really will come together to make something so truly brilliant.

I wish we had a vegan cafe around here, and in my perfect vegan cafe they would be serving Pea and Pistou soup, Pannini's with Roasted Tomatoes and Pistou, Sweet Onion Tart, with side orders of Pistou!

In all seriousness though, I really do wish there were more Vegan Cafe's around. I went out for dinner with my boyfriend, and had the choice of three dishes on an entire menu (and one of them involved me having to pick cheese off a tart). That's why we always end up cooking at home! Better food, what we want and when we want it!

Anyway, here is my recipe for Pistou, basic, but so useful! Make a batch and keep it in a jar in the fridge and use it on everything! Some people are addicted to Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter, but that's another story!) but I think I might be addicted to Pistou!

I'm going to continue to long for my days at University, and you're now going to whizz up a batch of this!
just promise me that as soon as you have made it, you are going to tear off a hunk of rustic style bread, toast it lightly and scrape a load of Pistou over it. Heaven.


4 cups packed Basil leaves
5 garlic cloves coarsely chopped
1 cup Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt 
1. Roughly tear up the basil leaves and place in a food processor or blender pulse until everything looks chopped
2. Slowly pour in the olive oil with the blades running, the mix may change to a slightly lighter colour at this point, don't worry.
3. Scrape the mix out of the processor and taste, add as much or as little salt as you wish. 



Some recipes call for cheese to be added after the Pistou is made, but then, obviously it is no longer Vegan, and is in my mind, no longer a Pistou, it crosses more along the lines into a Pesto, a whole different ball game.

you could add pine nuts if you wished, but I really prefer it this way.

I'm a bit of a garlic fiend, so I prefer my Pistou quite garlic-y, if you don't like garlic, cut back on the number of cloves used.

I have seen Pistou made after the basil has been cooked, but I think that this almost knocks out some of the flavour of the Basil, and is quite unnecessary.  

   Stay in touch with me, either on twitter or by email! I'll always be ready to talk.

Best-Ever Bizarre Brownies

bizarre brownies Title


There are so many different types of brownies. Vegan or otherwise, they can be all sponge-y and cake-y (boo) or they can be all dense and fudge-y and goo-ey (yay!)

After some debate in my household, we decided brownies should be dense and fudgey.

In other news : what do you do when you have half a sweet potato hanging around?

bizarre brownies 1

I joke, back to the brownies!

But keep those potatoes in mind!

bizarre brownies 6

How many recipes for brownies have you seen that use Applesauce? loads? me too - but let's think about the desirable texture we previously ascertained as optimal.



Not two qualities I'd associate with Applesauce really!

Sweet Potatoes on the other hand . . . ! - I have seen a few recipes for Sweet Potato Frosting hanging around the internet, and I figured if I could use Sweet Potatoes in frosting, then I could probably use them in the cake . . . If I can use applesauce in cake - then I can probably use the Sweet Potatoes.

The cogs started whirring. . . and here you go.

bizarre brownies collage

The way I like to bake (vegan-style) is the wet into dry method. These brownies are nothing new there. Unlike traditional baking, where you would cream the fat and the sugar together, then add in the oeufs and fold in the flour, this doesn't really work for vegan cake.

No problem!

I did a quick Google around as I was writing this up to see who else has put Sweet Potatoes into Brownies (sadly) I'm not the first (I thought I was a genius!!) Although not Vegan, a couple sound really good. These use Honey instead of Sugar (and although I'm dubious about using Honey, Agave could also work) and these suggest using ginger spiced chocolate (how yum!?).

bizarre brownies 4

These brownies (because I didn't put any sugar in them - you're welcome) just asked to have some brown sugar sprinkled on top.

bizarre brownies 5

Don't they look all pretty lined up?

bizarre brownies 10

Am I making you hungry yet? would you like to know the recipe?

bizarre brownies 8

Oh go on then, here you go :)


Prepare your tin! an 8" x 10" rectangular tin works best. (see Notes)
Preheat the oven to 160°C

   2 cups Plain Flour
   1 cup Soy Flour (see Notes)
   1/2 -3/4 cup Sugar Substitute (see Notes)
   2 tsp Baking Soda (see Notes)
   1 tsp Salt
   1 Cup Cocoa (see Notes)
   1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips (see Notes)
   1/2 cup Sunflower Oil
   1 1/2 cups Non-Dairy Milk (see Notes)
   1 tbsp Black Treacle
   4 tsp Red Wine Vinegar ( see Notes)
   1/2 Cup Sweet Potato Mash (Approx 1/2 of one Large Sweet Potato)

1. Sift together the Flour, Baking Soda, Salt and Cocoa into a large mixing bowl.
2. Stir in the sugar substitute and the chocolate chips.
3. In a separate bowl mix the Oil into the Sweet Potato Mash.
4. Stir in the Black Treacle and Red Wine Vinegar.
5. Slowly pour in the Non-Dairy Milk whilst whisking constantly.
6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, constantly whisking.
7. Quickly scoop into your tin, the mixture will be quite thick, not runny like cupcake batter, this is good - this is how it needs to be in order to make a dense textured cake.
8. Bake at the centre of the oven for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.


To prepare the Sweet Potato Mash, I took approximately half of a large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1" cubes. I then placed it into a small microwaveable bowl. I covered the sweet potato with 3 tbsps of water. I covered the bowl with Clingfilm (Saran wrap) and microwaved on high for 6 minutes. Mash with a fork.
I used a small IKEA roasting tin, I think they are used for roasting small chickens, as it would fit just one chicken in them. They are the perfect size for making most of my traybakes and if you ever find yourself in IKEA I highly recommend them, they are pennies! 


Sugar - I didn't use sugar, well I used Splenda-style (I say Splenda-style, because it's supermarket own brand) sugar substitute, but if you wanted I think that Agave or Honey could be easily used, just cut back on some of the liquid later on.
Soy flour - I like to use Soy Flour in recipes that need to be a little dense, but if you don't have it or can't get it, Soy Flour can be substituted for Corn Flour (Corn Starch) or omitted completely.
Baking Soda - Baking Powder or Bicarbonate of Soda works well
Cocoa - I sometimes like to use Carob Powder. Carob creates a more bitter, dark chocolate-y flavour, but I do find that if you use only Carob instead of say 1/2 Carob 1/2 Cocoa you will probably need to increase the sugar content.
Chocolate Chips - I didn't use manufactured Chocolate Chips, instead I roughly chopped about 50g of Chocolate. Manufactured Chocolate Chips would work as would Carob nibs. They are not a fundamental part of the recipe so you don't actually need them!
Non- Dairy Milk - I used Rice Milk, because it is quite naturally sweetened, Soy, Almond or Hazelnut are nice, but you can also use water for the liquid content in this recipe.
Red Wine Vinegar - I like to use Red Wine Vinegar, but you can use Cider Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar. I have used Malt Vinegar (hey, it's cheap!) in other cakes but not in these Brownies. Malt Vinegar has a more distinctive savoury taste, but works and is usually undetectable in the final product.

   Stay in touch with me, either on twitter or by email! I'll always be ready to talk.

Simple Chick Pea Curry

Chick pea curry title

Indian food is definitely one of my favourite types of food. Indian and Mexican. I have a bit of a thing for spice!

I know this is not the same with everyone, but that's the great thing about curries, you can have them as hot, or not as you like!

This curry is a medium (in my world mild) heat curry.

Chick pea curry collage

In our house, everyone prefers brown rice to white rice. The only downside to this is that it obviously takes twice as long to cook as your standard basmati!

No problem, that just means I have twice as long to figure out how to make mango chutney, and raiita!

This curry cooks in about the same amount of time as it takes to cook brown rice.

Chick pea curry 7

My favourite herb is sage. I will literally include it anywhere I can. I know it is not traditionally the correct herb for curry - and coriander cilantro would be better suited, but I really liked it just as a dressing for this curry, it was not too overpowering- where sometimes coriander can be.

Chick pea curry 5

   1 tbsp Sunflower Oil
   2 Red Onions (see Notes)
   1 Red Pepper
   1 Yellow Pepper
   2 Cloves of Garlic - Crushed
   1 tsp Coriander Seeds
   1 tsp Cumin
   1 tsp Garam Masala
   1 tsp Chili Powder
   1/2 tsp Indian Saffron
   1/2 tsp turmeric
   1 tin Chick Peas (see Notes)

1. Sweat the Onions, Red Pepper, Yellow Pepper, Garlic and Coriander Seeds together with the oil until translucent.
2. Mix together all of the spices with enough cold water to make a stiff paste (see picture)
3. Add the spice paste to the Vegetables, and gently fry together for a couple of minutes.
4. Stir in the Chick Peas, making sure the spices are now evenly coating everything. 
5. Pour on enough water to just about cover everything. Bring to boil.
6. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Serve with Rice and Indian Bread.


   This recipe can be easily doubled to feed more hungry mouths!

   This is a In-House-Meat-Eating-Carnivore favourite! The texture of the Chick Peas is just right, you don't
   even feel like you are missing meat at all.

   Spices are completely subjective, but the top ten Indian Spices* are
     10. Turmeric
     9. Coriander
     8. Cumin
     7. Mustard Seed (nice, but I found this a little overpowering in this dish!)
     6. Curry
     5. Tamarind
     4. Cinnamon
     3. The Resin of Asafoetida
     2. Cardamom
     1. Chili

     Onions - It is completely up to you what type of onions are used. I know in America, your Green onions
                    are what I would call Scallions/ Spring onions! (but I still think they would work!)
     Peppers - Again it does not matter - you can even leave them out if you like.
     Spices - This is my favourite mix of spices, but if you don't have one, leave it out, or replace with
                   something else you like the smell of. Cumin, Garam Masala and Chili are the main spices
                   here. If you like curry very mild, reduce the amount of Chili.
     Chick Peas - The Chick Peas I used here are white chick peas. They are nice. But this dish is really
                   brought to life when you use Brown Chick Peas (which are my all time favourite, I just didn't
                   have any on hand). They are softer and creamier in texture than their white counterparts.

   * According to toptenz,net

   Stay in touch with me, either on twitter or by email! I'll always be ready to talk.

Fruity Crumble

Crumble title

There's a great fruit and vegetable (and foreign food! - but that's an obsession for another time) market in my local city centre. Yes you might have to drive half an hour to get there, or sit on a bus for an hour, but it really is worth it. To start with it's a gorgeous city with great historical sites (I can appreciate these and I've lived here a long time) but it has the Corn Exchange. I know this sounds like some sort of shop, but it's really the old corn market, where farmers bought and sold. So a bit of history muddled in I guess!

Anyway, this market is dirt cheap for all fruit and veg. I bought massive carving pumpkins for 1/3 of the price they were in the supermarket! (Halloween is going to be fun!).

There is the problem however, of my very-ripe fruit. Not quite to the point of going bad, but too ripe to enjoy uncooked. So what to do with it?

crumble 1

Don't hate the simplicity of this recipe, everyone knows in the Autumn (Fall)/ Winter, there really is nothing better than a rustic dessert.

Gooey, fruity crumble, with sweet baked topping, reminds me so much of being a child.

My brother hated all fruit but apples, so once we decided to trick him. Crumble being his favourite pudding, we chopped up the apples for the bottom, and stuffed in a few gooseberries! We didn't tell him until after he had admitted that he liked it!

crumble collage

I apologise, but this is the secret gooseberry crumble's older, more sophisticated crumble sister! In my family, oats were never traditionally added, but I like the extra dimension of texture!

crumble 5

Don't try and make these too perfect, you'll never get to happen. Instead, enjoy the fruit bubbling up to create a sticky sauce.

I made these in little individual ramekins - as I said, this is the grown up sophisticated crumble - but it would work equally as well in one large dish!

crumble 6

As we are creating a grown up crumble, I replaced the expected flavours with some surprising ones. Cinnamon is almost, at this point, expected in the crumble. Not this one!


Preheat the oven to 160°C

   4 Victoria Plums (Uber-ripe)
   3 Nectarines (Ditto)
   1 tsp Vanilla Seed Paste
   1 Cup Flour
   1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
   1/4 Cup Sugar
   1/4 Cup Dairy-Free Spread.
   1/2 tsp Almond Essence

1. De-pit the Plums and the Nectarines, cut into 1" cubes.
2. In a small mixing bowl add the chopped fruit and the vanilla, mix thoroughly.
3. Spoon the fruit out equally into your serving dishes.
4. In a separate (or, if you're like me, use the same bowl you mixed your fruit in!) bowl stir together the Oats, the Sugar and the Flour.
5. Add the Dairy-Free Spread and Almond essence, and either with your fingers, or with a fork (depending on how messy you want to get) rub together the dry ingredients and the fat. The mixture should look like sand (or clumpier, if you let the fat get a little too warm!)
6. Spoon the crumble mixture on top of your fruit.
7. Place the individual ramekins on to a baking tray.
8. Bake at the centre of the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the tops are golden.


   I really like this dessert in the evenings after your evening meal, especially if the evening meal is
   something light, just leave the oven on with these inside and they will be ready at the end of your meal!

   The oats are there to add a little more crunch to the topping, feel free to leave them out completely.

     Fruit - You could use almost any fruit, although I might suggest that pineapple may be a little odd. Mango
     is a personal favourite (but mango anything is a personal favourite!) Traditionally apples are best, with a
     little nutmeg and cinnamon!
     Sugar - Any powdered sugar substitute works really well.
     Vanilla Seed Paste - Vanilla essence would work, or just omit entirely.

   Stay in touch with me, either on twitter or by email! I'll always be ready to talk.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Vegan Vanilla Vinegar Cake

Vegan buns title

When you were a kid, did you lick the bowl? I did. I will admit it.

I was a bit of a timid child, and I always over-thought everything. Still do. I'm a worrier.

Once I was told that if I licked the bowl I would immediately come down with Salmonella and make myself really ill. I never did, but the hours spent worrying about it are uncountable!

Best bit about this cake - other than the fact it tastes fabulous - is that it is egg free, so you lick the bowl as much as you darn well please!

Vegan buns collage

Don't be scared at the thought of adding vinegar into the mix, I know it may seem daunting, but it really is needed in order to activate the raising agent in the cake. You can't taste it at all in the final cake.

I frosted these cupcakes with a mixture of dairy-free spread, dairy free cream cheese and icing sugar, I then sprinkled on some glimmer sugar, because it made my day that little bit brighter, and we could all do with some cheering up as we go into fall.

I will say that if you choose to frost these cakes this way, you need to be really fast when combining all of the ingredients because when over-worked, the dairy free cheese seems to go a little loose on me.

I do aim, however, to make this as accessible as possible, and if you are unable to get hold of dairy free cheese/ dairy free spread (well you must really live out in the sticks, because I can find these, and I'm pretty rural!) make a simple glace icing with just icing sugar and enough water to bring it to the right consistency.

vegan buns 6

This really is a brilliant all-rounder recipe.


Preheat the oven to 160°C now!
Line your tins! - Will make 16 cupcakes or one 10" cake tin.

     1 cup Plain Flour
     1/2 cup Soy Flour
     1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda (this is the raising agent)
     1 cup non-dairy milk (I used Soy: see Notes)
     1 tbsp Vinegar (see Notes - this reacts with the raising agent to make the cake rise)
     1/2 cup Oil (I used Sunflower: see Notes)
     1/2 cup Sugar
     Vanilla seed extract

1. Sieve together the Flour's and the Bicarbonate of Soda into a large mixing bowl.
2. In another bowl whisk together the milk and the vinegar, then whisk in the oil, sugar and vanilla.
3. Pour the liquid mix into the dry mix, continuously whisking.
4. When smooth, pour quickly into pre-prepared liners.
5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a skewer, when inserted will come out clean.


   No-one would guess there is vinegar in here at all; I've tried red wine vinegar, malt vinegar, white wine
   vinegar and cider vinegar - All apart from the red wine vinegar work well (I guess that's to be expected

   Don't over-do the raising agent, if you do, it won't rise any more effectively, there will just be a lingering
   acidic taste.

   The Soy Flour is used to combat the "artificial-sponge-iness" that is created without it. I believe Cake
   Flour is a combination of Cornflour (or Cornstarch) and Plain Flour, but I've never tried it. If you can't get
   hold of Soy Flour, don't stress, they will still turn out ace. Promise!

     Soy Flour - I know this may be difficult to get hold of, just replace with Plain Flour or Cornflour.
     Bicarbonate of soda - Baking Powder works as well!
     Non-Dairy Milk - Soy is easiest to get, but rice milk works really well (as does Almond/Hazelnut)
     Oil - Sunflower is best, but coconut, although distinctive is effective, as is Olive.
     Sugar - Almost any type of sugar substitute can be used. I prefer to use a low-calorie sweetener
                 (splenda-esque) but I have had success with fruit syrup, and agave.


   Stay in touch with me, either on twitter or by email! I'll always be ready to talk.

Hi, My name is Hanna, and I'm an accidental vegan!

"Wait so you don't eat meat?"
"You don't have dairy?"
"Cheese, milk, eggs? Bacon? ; none of it?!"
"None of it!"
"So, what do you have?!"

How many times have I encountered that conversation recently? Way too many!

In fact in the last week an ex co-worker made a well placed quip about me enjoying my "veggie sausages"!


Hi, My name is Hanna, and I'm an accidental vegan!

I'm a vegan for a few reasons, but primarily medical reasons. You may not be, you may be attempting a lifestyle change, you may have moral reasons, but at the end of the day, we are all here.

As I said, I am not a vegan for personal or moral reasons, I was kind of bullied into it, but I do believe that a mainly vegan based diet is a lot better for us in the long run - and by that I don't mean that I'm going to be eating the vegans!

The problem is, here, out in the sticks, where it takes a good half hour to even encounter a shop, trying to ascertain "specialist" ingredients is a bit difficult! 

My aim is to create recipes we can all enjoy (that even at times, my ridiculously picky younger brother - he's 19, he thinks he owns the world- has enjoyed without complaint, and, he's a carnivore!) that are simple to construct, that are easy to follow, and that contain easily sourced ingredients!

Let's not make this difficult shall we?

Much love,


   I don't claim to be perfectly 100% vegan!

   I don't claim to know everything about being vegan, I want to learn together!

   Stay in touch with me, either on twitter or by email! I'll always be ready to talk.

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