Toasted walnut, hazelnut and wild garlic pesto

Wild garlic2

The wild garlic this year is HOT! It’ll keep everyone away not just vampires! I made pesto with it using lots of walnuts and hazelnuts to try and temper its kick. You can use this on pasta or mix it into stews, stir it into the sauce in a lasagne, put a small blob on your soup or even spread it thinly on toast before adding slices of avocado.

Ingredients:Wild garlic

  • 100g wild garlic, washed and dried
  • 50g walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 25g hazelnuts, toasted and chopped (or shop bought)
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 30g vegan parmesan (I like Violife Non-Dairy Cheese Alternative Prosociano With Parmesan Flavour – available from Ocado and various supermarkets), thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Toss the walnuts about in a small pan on a medium heat for a few minutes – don’t let them burn – you should just be able to smell them toasting.
  2. Do the same with the hazelnuts (or just buy toasted, chopped ones!).
  3. Put the toasted nuts in a food processor and blend them until they are a mix of nutty powder with a few small piece for texture.
  4. Add the oil, wild garlic and parmesan and blend until all the leaves are finely chopped.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Spoon into three or four small jars and keep in the fridge.


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Haggis, clapshot and whisky sauce

I spent Burns night this year in London seeing Patti Smith at the Roundhouse. She came out on stage in her usual loose black jacket and waistcoat and jeans but wearing unlikely gold boots. She said they were a tribute to Robert Burns as they burn brightly in the light!

It was also Virginia Woolf’s birthday and Patti read The Waves accompanied by her daughter Jesse on the piano. She read some William Blake too, but no Robert Burns because she “can’t read Scottish”. Someone shouted for “Emile Bronte!” and Patti looked confused and answered “Emily Blunt?” Sharp!

We were treated to Pissing in the River (with guitar solo by her son Jackson), Southern Cross and Dancing Barefoot. All sang beautifully. When she paused, people shouted “We love you Patti!”.

She covered Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning, and a wonderfully stripped back version of Love Is All We Have Left before admitting it was stolen from U2. Someone shouted “We don’t love you any more” and she said “You people are fucking weird”.

She read passages from her books Just Kids and M Train and told some anecdotal stories about her and Robert Mapplethorpe standing in front of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s giant billboard in Times Square declaring  ‘War Is Over…’. She told a great story about her pilgrimage to find the Delft grave of scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the man who invented glasses, to thank him for helping her to see again.

She was frustrated everyone was rooted to their seats but got us up on our feet for Because the Night and People have the Power and said next time she comes to the Roundhouse “we’re taking out the fucking chairs”. I had mixed feeling about that as I was in wheelchair corner with my broken ankle!

It’s always a magical night with Patti and this was one of the best, it felt like an intimate evening in a 1970’s bookshop even though there were nearly 2,000 of us in the room!

Anyway, the point of this blog is that this year I had a delayed Burns Night supper. Instead of making tatties and neeps I made clapshot – a mixture of swede and potato with chives. Unfortunately my chives in the garden are dead and I didn’t have any in the house so we had chiveless clapshot – it was still delicious.

Haggis is traditionally served as part of the Burns supper on January 25, when Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns, is commemorated. It is a savoury pudding traditionally made of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs minced up with onion, oatmeal, suet (animal fat), salt and spices. It used to be enclosed in the animal’s stomach but these days it is made using sausage casing rather than an actual stomach – ach! Authentic Scottish haggis has been banned in the US since 1971, because the USDA did not approve of using sheep’s lungs in food – why would you? I had reservations about trying a veggie version of this dish (I’ve not tried vegan black pudding or intestines either!) but now am a convert and have one every year. I used a Macsween vegetarian haggis which was on sale in Waitrose (£2.88 knocked down from £3.60). In case you are wondering…

Ingredients: Oats, Water, Vegetable Margarine (Palm Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Water, Salt, Emulsifier (E471), Flavouring), Black Kidney Beans (10%), Carrot (5%), Swede (5%), Mushrooms, Red Split Lentils (5%), Rehydrated Onions, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Salt, Ground Spices

The clapshot is made by combining boiled swede and potato (cooked separately) mashed with some vegan margarine and a dash of soya milk and freshly ground white pepper.

The whisky sauce is easy, use as much of a carton of vegan cream as you want (I used two-thirds for two people) add half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a small teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, two-three teaspoons of good whisky and lots of freshly ground white pepper. I served it all with some steamed kale.

Happy belated Burns night!




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Vegan Madrid

It was my first night in Madrid and I’d arrived on a late flight. Wondering where to go to eat, I stumbled on Bolero literally a stone’s throw from my apartment. This little meatball café, at 4 Calle de las Conchas, specialises in meatballs including a vegan one made with quinoa, tofu, rice, mushroom and caramelised onion. You can have them in a sandwich (5.20 EUR), or with potato wedges or rice (6.50-10.50 EUR for 3 or 6 meatballs respectively). Easy street food really, no-frills but nice and filling!

Vegan meatballs at Bolero

Next morning on the way to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía to see Picasso’s Guernica, I stopped at Distrito Vegano at 32 Calle del Dr. Fourquet in the Lavapies neighbourhood of Madrid (a five minute walk from the museum). It’s a small, friendly vegan café serving food made with high-quality fresh local products. I had the Nachos XL (12.90 EUR), made with totopos (like tortillas) topped with melted vegan cheese, black beans, pico de gallo, fresh guacamole tartara sauce and jalapeños. There was a lot of it! My partner had the burger (12.90 EUR) and loved it. Not one to turn down a vegan dessert (especially one involving my favourite nuts) I went for a Pistachio panna cotta (3.50 EUR). It was lovely and creamy and quite light.

If you are self-catering, there are plenty of health food shops that stock tofu, sausages, burgers, frankfurters, vegan cheese and more. Planeta Vegano at 34 Calle Ave María had loads of vegan goodies including sweets, chocolate and nail varnish!   IMG_7715.JPG For a fancy evening meal, I went to Vega, at 9 Calle Luna. It’s a friendly and informal vegan restaurant, serving organic handmade food, local beer and wine. The food is lovely and prepared with a great deal of thought and care. You need to book, as a table here doesn’t stay empty for long! For starters, we shared a trio of smoked aubergine pâté, sun-dried tomato hummus and avocado with pico de gallo (4.50 EUR for three). They were all very tasty and the home-baked crackers they came with were very good too. For my main, I had the black rice with ‘squid’, artichokes, asparagus and sweet garlic mayonnaise (10.50 EUR) and my partner had the burger (10.50 EUR). Both dishes were really good. The ‘squid’ was quite unusually squiddy! For dessert my partner tried the chocolate, coconut and hazelnut mousse (4.50 EUR) and I had the Tiramisu cake with toffee (4.50 EUR). The mousse was out of this world – really light! My cake was delicious and not too much either. It was all very good value considering how much care was taken over the food. I was sorry I couldn’t eat here again on this trip and will certainly make a bee-line for this place next time I visit Madrid.

For lunch the next day we went to Rayén Vegano at 7 Calle Lope de Vega. I opted for Soup and Dish of the Day (13.90 EUR) and my partner had Salad of the Day (12.90 EUR). Both options include bread, a cold drink and dessert or tea/coffee. My soup was really interesting made with almonds and turmeric. The dish of the day was tempeh, rice and vegetables and was very nice. The salad was good too with lots of different flavours and textures. I noticed several vegan cheesecakes in the fridge (which are not included in the meal deal) but I had to try! I went for the raspberry cheesecake and it was pretty darn good.

If you fancy a quick ice-cream while taking in a breath-taking view (for free) head up to Amorino on the top floor of the El Corte Inglés  at 2 Plaza Callao. Make sure you ask for the vegan options and they will make you a pretty flower-shaped ice-cream.

For our last evening meal we headed up to Viva Burger at 16 Costanilla de San Andrés, where they say eating is a daily act of love! They rely on the taste in their ingredients without incurring any animal suffering, “eat conscious and you will be much happier”. They specialise in burgers (13.90 EUR) but you can order a salad or a wrap. There is a reasonable choice of burgers including Mexican, Italian, Japanese, and more… They come with a small pile of chips and vegan mayo. It’s a bright, friendly restaurant and we enjoyed the walk up the hill to it.

Last stop for food in the morning before heading off to the airport. We went to La Rollerie at 24 Calle Mayor. They offer a vegan croissant which is delicious! My partner had toast and ‘emulsified’ tomato with olive oil – he was very enthusiastic about it! They also have soya milk.

I remember a waiter in Spain calling his colleagues out onto the street to point at me sitting at one of their tables and say ‘Look at her – she doesn’t eat anything!’ I’m happy to say that in Barcelona, Bilbao and Madrid and much more of Spain I’m sure, those days are well gone – adios! IMG_7987.JPG


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Kitchen Tour

VeganMoFo-mushroomNow the month is concluding, show us where the magic has been happening!

My kitchen is quite small, but jam-packed with tons of stuff! Here are the shelves I keep nuts, seeds, pulses and grains on. I have red lentils, chick peas, yellow split peas, black beans, chana dal, mung dal and continental (brown) lentils. There’s wholegrain rice, brown basmati rice, quick cook white rice, Arborio risotto rice and Calasparra paella rice. I have cashew nuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. Then there’s the cous cous, quinoa and pearl barley.  I have muscovado and demerara sugar and dried apricots, raisins and sultanas. There several types of dried chili up there too! Is there a compulsive condition where you keep buying food to store in jars? Come the revolution it’ll be all round mine for dinner. There’s enough to last for weeks!

Kitchen 2.jpg

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Brunch & Munch

VeganMoFo-CarrotBecause brunch is so awesome, show us your brunch meals!

Best meal of the day! Here are a few I made earlier…

Brunch collection

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Prep ahead Picnic

VeganMoFo-beetrootIf you’re going for a picnic or a road trip, what do you pack? What do you make?

Cheese and crackers are a great snack for a picnic or a road trip. This recipe is adapted from the Vegan Bible by Marie Laforêt, lovely inventive recipes and biblebeautiful photographs as well as some useful general information. It’s the only bible I’m likely to read!

This rich tempeh cheese has a good, deep flavour. Nice with crackers or in a salad, you definitely could take it on a road trip!

  • 50g cashew nuts, soaked overnight in water
  • 100g plain tempeh
  • 50ml water
  • 2 tbsp white miso
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 1 tbsp cashew or almond butter
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • a pinch of paprika (optional)
  • Freshly ground white pepper

Drain the cashews and blend with all the other ingredients until smooth. Place in an 8cm ring mould or if you don’t have one, pour into 4 or 5 well-oiled cups of a muffin tin. Bake for 20 mins at 180°C.



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TV Trays

VeganMoFo-peasA sit-down meal might be nice, but sometimes getting cosy with food and Netflix is also needed. What’s your TV dinner?

I’ve been watching the second series of Ozark so I considered veganising some classic hillbilly (Spoiler alert – NOT to be confused with red neck) food but grits or cornbread just wouldn’t cut it as a TV dinner and I’m not sure where I’d start trying to veganise chicken gizzards (WTF are they?) or catfish.

Fishless fingers, mashed potato, sweetcorn and/or peas with tartar sauce – that’s the TV dinner of kings!

My favourite fishless fingers are V-Bites but Quorn ones are pretty good too. Mashed potato is easy – I like it creamy with soya milk and a good dollop of margarine stirred in with plenty of freshly ground black pepper on top. Sweetcorn or peas, or even both, are my preferred veggies with fishless fingers and a big spoon of homemade tartar sauce made from Plamil mayonnaise with chopped capers.


Now, off to Netflix to watch The End of the Fucking World!

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