Recipe of the Week – 15th September 2014 – Sweet Potato and Runner Bean Gumbo

This is my attempt at the Louisiana Creole dish Gumbo, with a few tweaks! Traditionally okra is used to thicken and provide colour to the sauce, but I am still working through a glut of runner beans, so these went in instead!

Serves 4


3 tbs vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery stalks, trimmed and finely chopped
1 tsp each dried thyme and dried oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to season
1 bay leaf
150ml vegetable stock
440g can of good quality chopped tomatoes
200g runner beans, stringed and sliced diagonally
400g sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat then add the onion, celery and garlic and sauté gently for 8 minutes until softened.

2. Mix together the seasoning, dried herbs and spices and add to the saucepan with the bay leaf and stir well to coat. Continue to fry gently for 5 minutes.

3. Add the stock and chopped tomatoes and gently bring to the boil.

4. Add the sweet potato cubes and runner beans and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes, until the sweet potato is tender and the sauce is thickened.

5. Serve warm with rice or cornbread, and garnished with fresh coriander.

Recipe of the Week – 8th September 2014 – Vegetable Samosas

I have recently been asked to re-make my vegetable samosa recipe at the Cafe and have also been asked by a number of customers for the recipe and method, so here goes – hope you all enjoy making them at home as much as I do!

Makes 16


1 pack of 8 wheat tortillas
2 large potatoes, peeled and finely diced
2 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
100g frozen peas
6 tbs sunflower oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Salt and pepper
20 ml milk (or soya milk for vegan) to seal


1. Add the diced potatoes and carrots to a saucepan of salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the frozen peas, return to the boil and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, dry roast the whole spices in a small frying pan for 1 minute, taking care not to burn. Take off the heat and mix in the turmeric and seasoning to taste.
3. Drain the vegetables, add 2 tbs oil and the spices, and mix together well.
4. To make the tortilla casing, take each wrap and halve, then cut parallel at a spacing of approximately four fingers’ width on each side. Repeat until you have 16 wide strips.
5. Take each strip and place a large tablespoon of the vegetable mixture in the middle. Fold each side of the wrap over at 45 degrees, forming two pointed ‘ears’. Turn over and seal with a little brushed milk. Turn over again and seal the main fold. Repeat to make 16 samosas.
6. Heat 2 tbs oil in a large shallow frying pan on a medium heat and fry the samosas gently in batches of 6 for approximately 1 minute until brown, then turn over. Repeat adding more oil if required.

Recipe of the Week – 25th August 2014 – Imam Bayildi (Turkish Stuffed Aubergines)

Once again I found myself with a number of aubergines spare in the fridge (I’m not sure if this only happens to me!), and wanted to try something with them that I have never tried before. This is a lovely Turkish dish which goes well with anything, and is traditionally served chilled, although it is very nice slightly warmed with pittas.

Serves 4 to 6


4 large aubergines
200 ml extra virgin olive oil
4 large red onions, thinly sliced
3 peppers of various colours, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
4 tbs sugar
3 tsp ground coriander
Small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper to season


1. Halve the aubergines then score 4 or 5 times inside before sprinkling generously with salt. Place aubergines in a colander for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile heat half of the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions, peppers and garlic for 10 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes, sugar and ground coriander and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Add half of the chopped coriander, stir, season and set aside. Preheat the oven to 190C.

3. Rinse the aubergine halves and place cut side down in a large heavy based frying pan with the remaining olive oil. Fry gently for 5 minutes until golden brown.

4. Place the aubergine halves in a casserole dish and top liberally with the tomato mixture. Cover with tin foil then place in the oven for 30 minutes.

5. Chill for 1 hour before serving, topping with the remaining fresh coriander.

Recipe of the Week – 18th August 2014 – Herby Veggie Quarter Pounders

There are hundreds of veggie burger recipes available, which I really like as it means that there are thousands of ways of playing with different ingredients. This recipe is my take on one of the simplest and was very popular when I served these up at the cafe the other week. My only problem was keeping them small, so they were nearer to half pounders when finished!

Makes 6


4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 x 400g chopped tomatoes, drained
300g carrots, coarsely grated
300g courgettes, coarsely grated
2 tbs freshly chopped parsley
2 tbs freshly chopped coriander
1½ tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp ground coriander
100g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten (can be replaced with 30ml soya milk if vegan)
salt and pepper


1. Heat half of the oil in a large frying pan then add the onion and garlic, and sauté gently until soft.

2. Add the carrots and courgettes, and fry for a further 10 minutes, stirring, until the vegetables have softened.

3. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, spices, herbs and seasoning and mix well. Take the pan off the heat and add the egg (or soya milk) and breadcrumbs.

4. Divide the mixture into six and shape into burgers.

5. Add the remaining oil to the pan and gently fry the burgers over a medium heat for approximately 5 minutes each side, until lightly brown.

6. Serve in a bun with salsa, sweet potato wedges, and a side salad.

Recipe of the Week – 11th August 2014 – Spicy Carrot and Chickpea Tagine

I was really impressed by this recipe when I first tried it – so much so that I I started playing around with it to try different variations! To me this tastes quite different from other tagines that I have tried, and it’s actually simpler. The level of heat can be modified quite easily by adjusting the amount of cayenne, although I do like this hot!

Serves 6


3 tbs Olive Oil
2 medium onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs honey (I used agave nectar to make this vegan)
4 medium carrots, sliced diagonally
3 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Pinch sea salt, to taste
1 medium bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic until soft (approx. 5 minutes).

2. Add all of the spices, the agave nectar or honey, and the carrots, and sauté gently for 2 minutes. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, cover, and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

3. Add the chickpeas and 50ml more water, cover and cook gently for a further 10 minutes.

4. Take off the heat, season and add the chopped coriander.

5. Serve immediately with couscous and lemon slices.

Recipe of the Week – 4th August 2014 – Roasted Red Pepper and Fennel Salad

This is a very tasty and yet simple recipe for a very different salad to those that are generally green leaf based. This works really well with pasta, but seemed adaptable to most meal types. It’s also great in sandwiches!

Serves 6 as a side


8 large sweet red peppers
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
2 medium onions, finely sliced
Juice of 1 lemon or 3 tbs lemon juice
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 180C then place the peppers in a roasting tray and roast for 45 minutes until soft. Place the cooked peppers in a large bowl and cover with cling film and set aside to cool before de-seeding and slicing thickly.

2. Place the pepper strips in a large serving bowl and add the onion and fennel slices.

3. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and stir in well.

4. Season with the salt and pepper, and finally add the chopped parsley. Chill before serving.

Recipe of the Week – 28th July 2014 – Asian Noodle Salad

As the British heatwave continues (that’s it – I’ve jinxed it now!), I am increasingly trying new cold and salad dishes. This is my variation on a traditional noodle salad, made more substantial by the roasted butternut squash chunks – a definite winner in our household!

Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side


1 pack of medium egg noodles
4 spring onions, finely chopped
100ml soy sauce
1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2cm dice
1 large cucumber, peeled and slivered
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into 1cm strips
2 medium carrots, peeled and slivered
100g cashew nuts

For the dressing

150ml vegetable oil
100ml rice or white wine vinegar
4 tbs granulated sugar
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 tsp dark sesame oil


1. Preheat the oven to 220C then place the butternut squash cubes in a large roasting tray, drizzle with 2 tbs vegetable oil, season, and roast for 25 minutes until lightly brown. Remove and allow to cool completely.

2. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the noodles and boil until soft. Rinse, drain and toss with the soy sauce to coat.

3. In a large bowl combine the noodles with all of the other main ingredients and toss well.

4. In a food processor or blender, mix all of the dressing ingredients together and pulse until smooth. Pour the dressing into a jug and chill until ready.

5. When ready to serve pour the dressing over the noodles and vegetables and toss well to combine.