Recipe of the Week – 25th May 2015 – Moroccan Aubergine and Chickpea Stew


I really love this recipe – it’s very filling with the combination of silky aubergines and the chickpeas, and blends nicely with the Moroccan spices that really lets the cinnamon flavours out – I will definitely be doing this one again!

Serves 6


1 large onion, chopped 

4 tbs olive oil

1 green chilli, finely chopped

6 cloves of garlic, crushed 

2 large aubergines, cut into 2cm dice

300ml water 

3 x 400g cans of chickpeas, drained 

2 x 400g cans of good quality chopped tomatoes 

1 tsp ground cinnamon 

1 tbs Ras-el-Hanout

1 bunch of coriander leaves, chopped 


1. Place the diced aubergine in a large bowl, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave to juice for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.

2. Add the oil to a large frying pan and gently fry the onion and aubergine for 10 minutes until soft.

3. Add the garlic, chilli and spices and fry for a further 2 minutes.

4. Add the water, tomatoes and chickpeas to the mixture, season, stir thoroughly and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

5. Take off the heat, stir in the chopped coriander and serve immediately with couscous or flatbreads.

Recipe of the Week – 18th May 2015 – Alfie’s ’10 of your 5 a day’ Soup

This is a recipe devised by my eight year old son which gave us a bit of quality cooking time together. It is incredibly simple to make and can of course be varied depending on what is seasonal or in the fridge!

Serves 6


2 large potatoes, peeled and diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped

1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1 yellow pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped

1 courgette, diced

1 aubergine, diced

50g mushrooms, chopped

100g frozen peas

2 sticks of celery, chopped

100g red split lentils

800ml good quality stock from bouillon

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp Herbes de Provence

Small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped


1. Place all of the ingredients, except the coriander, in a large saucepan and bring to the boil before gently simmering for 15 minutes.

2. Add the coriander and carefully ladle the soup into a food processor or blender (you may need to do this in two batches). Blend to the required consistency (I prefer it to be a bit lumpy).

3. Serve immediately with fresh bread.

Recipe of the Week – 11th May 2015 – Veggie Meatballs with Spaghetti

This is a really simple recipe, and possibly it’s a bit of a cheat as I am using Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) to make the meatballs. I have done this using breadcrumbs, crushed beans and lentils before, however it doesn’t seem to hold together as well and give a satisfying texture. Either way, this makes for a great quick tea which the whole family (and especially children!) will really enjoy.

Serves 4


300g good quality dried spaghetti

350g TVP or other ‘Sosmix’

1 large onion, finely chopped

5 tbs olive oil

1 tsp fresh rosemary or sage

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

Small bunch of fresh basil

1 tbs vegetable bouillon

Grated vegetarian Parmesan (optional)


1. Add 2 tbs of the olive oil to a shallow frying pan, and gently fry the chopped onion until lightly brown.

2. Add the water to the TVP mixture as per the manufacturers instructions (usually to a ratio of 60/40). Add in one of the tins of tomatoes the rosemary, and the fried onions. Mix well and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

3. Add the remaining oil to the frying pan on a gentle heat. Form the mixture into small balls and gently fry, turning often, until brown all over.

4. Meanwhile, add the spaghetti to a large pan of salted boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain well, drizzle with a little olive oil, and set aside.

5. Add the remaining tin of tomatoes to a small saucepan, together with the bouillon, basil and tomato purée. Simmer gently then season.

6. Add the meatballs to the spaghetti, pour the sauce over and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Decorate with the remaining basil leaves.

Recipe of the Week – 27th April 2015 – Aubergine Pahi

  I was really pleased with this Sri Lankan curry, which I have adapted to suit my reduced supplies from a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe. The result was full of complex flavours, but is also quite fiery, yet with the sweetness of aubergines – the perfect meal for me!

Serves 4 to 6


4 large aubergines, halved then cut into wedges

3 onions, peeled and cut into wedges

2 bell peppers, deseeded and cut into large chunks

200ml sunflower oil

80ml white wine or cider vinegar

2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

6 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 x 400 tins of chickpeas, drained

2 tsp medium curry powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon 

2 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbs sugar


Small handful of freshly chopped coriander 


1. Place the aubergine wedges in a large bowl, sprinkle generously with salt and leave for 30 mins to bring out the juices. Rinse then sprinkle on the turmeric and ginger.

2. Add the oil to a large saucepan and fry the aubergine wedges, turning once, for 5-8 minutes, until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3. Add the onions, pepper and chilli to the oil and fry for a further 8 minutes. Again, remove and add to the aubergine wedges.

4. Add the mustard seeds, garlic, all the remaining spices and 1 tsp salt to the remaining oil and gently fry for 3 minutes, stirring often.

5. Add the vinegar to the spice mix, stir well then add back the vegetables. 

6. Add 50 ml water, the sugar and the chickpeas and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.

7. When the mixture is reduced, stir in most of the coriander and serve immediately with bread or rice, with a coriander garnish.

Recipe of the Week – 20th April 2015 – Courgette Paella


I love the way that making rice dishes, and paella particularly, can often transform the most basic ingredients into something special. When the rice begins to soften and become sticky with this recipe it combines really well with the texture of the courgette and the smell of the smoked paprika is one of my favourites in the kitchen!

Serves 4


2 medium or 1 large onion, finely chopped

5 tbs olive oil

1 each of red and yellow pepper finely chopped

3 medium cougettes, diced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

10 cherry or mini plum tomatoes, halved

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

3 bay leaves

Large pinch of saffron threads

300g paella rice

150ml medium sherry (optional)

600ml hot vegetable stock (from bouillon)

3 tbs fresh parsley, roughly chopped


1. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan and gently shallow fry the onion and garlic for approximately 5 minutes before adding the diced courgette and peppers. Fry gently for a further 5 minutes.

2. Add the spices and stir in thoroughly, allowing the flavours to be released. Add the bay leaves then slowly add the rice and stir continuously for 3 minutes before adding the saffron and sherry.

3. Bring to the boil then add the stock and season. Reduce the heat and simmer gently uncovered for approximately 25 minutes, stirring often to avoid sticking.

4. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir gently. Take off the heat, cover and allow rest for 15 minutes.

5. Add the parsley and sprinkle with fresh lemon juice if preferred then season to taste.

6. Serve with fresh salads and toast.

Recipe of the Week – 13th April 2015 – Warm Moroccan Aubergine and Quinoa Salad


I thought that I would try to experiment with something a little different at the cafe this week, and was scratching my head as to what to do with some impulse-bought quinoa. I had a look at some recipes online, but nothing really inspired me, so I thought I would try making it into a Moroccan salad. I was very pleased with the results – the nuttiness of the quinoa worked really well with the subtle blend of spices, and anything with aubergines in it is ok by me!

Serves 6


2 large aubergines, cut into 2 cm dice

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 red and 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and finely diced

5 tbs olive oil

500g quinoa, rinsed

400ml good quality vegetable stock from bouillon 

1 tbs Ras-El-Hanout

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cumin

A pinch of saffron threads

Juice from 1 lemon

A small bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper to season


1. Put the aubergine cubes in a large bowl, sprinkle generously with salt to coat, and leave to bring out the juices for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, put the quinoa and stock in a large saucepan, bring to the boil then simmer until the grains begin to open.

3. Rinse the aubergine thoroughly then add with the onion and garlic to a large saucepan with the oil and gently saute for 5 minutes.

4. Add the peppers, and all the spices, stir well and saute covered for a further 10 minutes.

5. Add the cooked quinoa, stir well and take off the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Season to taste.

6. Serve immediately with fresh bread and a green salad.


Recipe of the Week – 30th March 2015 – Butternut Squash and Chick Pea Loaf


I have been looking for a nut-free, nut roast (if that makes sense!) for a while, for people with nut allergies, and was inspired this week by something in the Guardian. This is my variation on it, which adds parsnips for extra sweetness, as well as a few other tweaks. This turned out to be very filling and more-ish, and I will definitely be doing it again.

Serves 6


1 large butternut squash

3 large parsnips, peeled and diced

2 large carrots, peeled and grated

300g mushrooms, diced 

5 tbs olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 x 400g can of chick peas, drained

1 tbs dried thyme 

1 tbs dried oregano

1 tbs fresh parsley, roughly chopped

3 tbs soy sauce

100g freshly grated breadcrumbs

Salt and black pepper, to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways, deseed and score the flesh then drizzle 2 tbs of the olive oil over before sprinkling 2 tsp of the thyme and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Add the parsnips to the roasting tray and also drizzle with oil. Roast for 45 minutes until soft.

3. In a large saucepan, saute the onion and garlic for 5 minutes before adding the grated carrots and chopped mushrooms together with the soy sauce. Cook gently for a further 5 minutes before adding the chickpeas.

4. Season the mixture and roughly mash the chickpeas with the back of a fork. Add the remaining herbs and simmer for a further five minutes.

5. Peel and roughly chop the butternut squash and add with the parsnips to the mixture.

6. Add the breadcrumbs and remaining herbs to the mixture then pour into a large greased loaf tin. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes until crispy.

7. Serve immediately with a tomato gravy and a selection of roasted vegetables.