Recipe of the Week – 27th October 2014 – Parsnip and Sweet Potato Gratin

This is a really nice warming recipe for the increasingly cold Autumnal days we are getting here in the North of England. The recipe itself is very simple, although it can be modified easily to make it more elaborate using various root vegetables (celeriac works really well), and by adding chilli and additional warming spices such as mace.


2 large parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
Approx 800g sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbs dried thyme
200ml milk
200ml single cream
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to season
100g grated mature cheddar


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Lightly grease a large casserole dish then layer approximately 1/4 of the sweet potato slices on the base. Top with a layer of parsnip slices, onion slices, thyme and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Repeat with a layer of sweet potato and build up until finished with a final layer of sweet potato.

3. Combine the milk, cream and garlic in a jug and season with salt and pepper and pour over the potato mixture.

4. Sprinkle generously with 3/4 of the grated cheese and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, top with the remaining cheese and serve with a green salad and bread.

Recipe of the Week – 20th October 2014 – Spicy Shepherd’s Pie

I love making shepherd’s pie almost as much as I love eating it! It was one of the first things that I tried when I became veggie over 20 years ago, and I was amazed at why all shepherd’s/cottage pies couldn’t be meat-free, as they seemed greatly improved. This is a slightly spicy version to warm up those long autumn evenings…

Serves 6


400g red split lentils, rinsed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 tbs olive oil
1 red chilli, diced (deseeded if you prefer less heat)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large courgette, chopped
4 carrots, finely chopped
2 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g tins of cooked kidney beans, drained
150g frozen peas
1 bay leaf
700ml good quality vegetable stock from boullion
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
600g potatoes, peeled and diced
75g mature cheddar cheese, grated
50ml milk
20g butter
salt and pepper


1. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan and gently sauté the onion, chilli and garlic for approximately 5 minutes, until soft.

2. Add the courgette, carrots and herbs and cook for a further 8 minutes before adding the lentils, tomatoes, cumin and paprika.

3. Add the stock and bay leaf and simmer gently for 20 minutes before adding the peas and kidney beans.

4. Meanwhile, make the mashed potato by boiling the potatoes for 15 minutes then mash with the butter and milk. Season to taste. (Use soya milk and spread for the vegan option)

5. Remove the bay leaf then pour the cooked lentil mixture in a large casserole dish, top with the potato and sprinkle generously with the cheese. Put under the grill for 5 minutes to brown. (Omit the cheese for the vegan option). Serve immediately.

Recipe of the Week – 13th October 2014 – Completely Improvised Nut Roast!

This morning, on my day off from cooking at the Cafe, I decided to do some cooking experimentation at home instead! This proved to be very simple to make and certainly soon got polished off for Sunday dinner. I prefer nut roasts well done (some would say overdone!), so I would suggest that you adjust the baking time accordingly if you don’t like it as crispy as this.

Serves 4


2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
4 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green pepper, deseeded and finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 large courgette, grated
50g each of the following nuts; cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan nuts, all chopped finely or chopped in a food processor
100g ground mixed nuts
50g breadcrumbs
1 tbs yeast extract (eg. marmite)
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tbs sweet chilli sauce
1 tbs soy sauce


1. Preheat the oven to 220C.

2. Sauté the onion in the olive oil in a large saucepan until soft.

3. Add the garlic, carrot and courgette and simmer gently for five minutes.

4. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir well, and simmer gently for 10 minutes to combine.

5. Place the mixture in a lightly oiled casserole dish, cover with tin foil and bake for 20-25 minutes until brown.

6. Serve with a tomato and paprika sauce and sautéed potatoes.

Recipe of the Week – 6th October 2014 – Spicy Butternut Squash and Courgette Soup

I very much felt in need of a warming and filling soup today, but one with a bit of a twist. The spices in this really lift the soup and I finished it with aubergine strips fried in Garam Masala to give it another layer. I don’t really like bland soups, but this one tastes slightly different with every mouthful. I actually had some of this for breakfast today with hummus covered toast – a great, if weird, way to start a Sunday!

Serves 6


1 large butternut squash, cubed and deseeded, but not peeled
3 courgettes, sliced
2 tbs olive oil
800ml good quality vegetable stock from Boullion
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the aubergine strips;
1 large aubergine, cut into 10mm slices, then strips
3 tbs olive oil
1 1/2 tsp garam masala


1. Place the squash cubes in a large saucepan, cover with water and boil for 15 minutes or until tender.

2. Gently fry the courgettes in the olive oil until coated. Add all the spices and the salt and pepper and stir well.

3. Add the courgettes and stock and simmer gently for 20 minutes. When cooked, blend until smooth (I just used a potato masher as I prefer soups chunky).

4. Meanwhile add the olive oil to a large frying pan, add the aubergine strips and garam masala and fry gently for approximately 8 minutes until golden brown.

5. To serve, pour a generous portion of the soup in a bowl, top with a few aubergine strips and serve with toast or bread.

Recipe of the Week – 29th September 2014 – Mushroom and Roasted Pepper Risotto

This variation on the traditional risotto recipe makes a really satisfying and filling meal and seems to avoid the pitfall of every mouthful being the same which can beset some risottos. The roasted peppers really bring out a nice twist and makes this a great favourite.

Serves 6


150g fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced
300ml good quality vegetable stock from boullion
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300g risotto rice, such as arborio
1 x 175ml glass white wine
150g frozen peas
25g butter
handful parsley leaves, chopped
50g vegetarian parmesan freshly grated


1. Preheat the oven to 220C and place the sliced peppers on a large baking tray. Drizzle with 2 tbs olive oil, season and mix well. Roast for 20 mins.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep frying pan, add the onions and garlic, then fry for about 8 mins until soft. Stir in the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for a further 8 mins until softened.

3. Add the roasted peppers then add the rice into the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine until it bubbles then pour in approximately 1/4 of the stock. Simmer, stirring often until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Add another 1/4 of the stock and repeat until all has been absorbed. Add the frozen peas and continue stirring for a further 5 minutes.

4. When cooked and soft, remove the pan from the heat, add the butter and scatter over the cheese and the parsley. Serve immediately with toast and a green salad.

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.