Thursday, 16 November 2017

My Dad's Pickled Onion Recipe

My father died in May this year.

Leafing through my printed out seasonal recipes I came across a splattered print out of this recipe.  I will never delete this email, or any others he sent me.

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To:         Leesa
From:    Dad
Date:     26 October 2010, 02.58
Subject: Pickled Onions

It's about quarter past two, can't sleep, so I thought I'd have an Ovaltine and give you my recipe--

Peel the onions, I prefer to use smallish ones about 1" (2.5cm) in diameter or small shallots.  Don't get bigger ones and cut them.  Place in a metal or enamel bowl and sprinkle with sea salt. (If you use ceramic bowl, the strong salt plays havoc with the glaze). Cover, shake when you pass by to ensure the thick brine always spreads over the onions and leave for 24 hours.

Drain onions and place in jars without washing. To ascertain the amount of malt vinegar you'll need, fill up the jars and pour off into a pan and bring up to the boil. Turn off.

Make up a package of pickling spice for each jar. You'll need 4" squares of some gauze-like thinnish permeable cloth (as I told Chris, my secret is to use unwashed Y-fronts....) and I suggest the easiest and best way is to get proprietary pickling spice, I always crush it. Otherwise you'll need to crush coriander, black pepper corns, mustard seed, small dry hot chillis, ginger, allspice. Put about a dessertspoonful of spice in each cloth square and tie up into packages. Add to the warm vinegar,simmer very gently for about 10 mins. Put a package of spice in each jar of onions and pour over the spiced vinegar.

Screw on the caps, but put a layer of cling film to protect the lids from the vinegar.

Leave for at least 3 months and that's it.

Ah well, I've finished my Ovaltine - let's see if can get some sleep....zzzzz  nite nite!!

Luv to you all and some (but not a lot) of sympathy for him..........

Dad XXXXX

Vegan & Vegetarian Squash or Sweet Potato & Chickpea Tagine

I planned to make this dish with butternut squash, but discovered I did not have the one I thought we had.  So made it with sweet potato instead.  The kids were initially wary, but announced it smelt good as it was served up, and were surprisingly okay.

Serves 5 (or a greedy 4)

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 large sweet potato or half a medium sized butternut squash, grated or cubed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp honey
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tin boiling water
1 tin chickpeas
2 vegetable stock cubes
2 tsp dried mint

Fry the onion in the oil in a casserole dish for about 5 minutes over a medium heat until it starts to colour.  Add the garlic, cinnamon, cumin and ginger and continue frying for another couple of minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients and heat until boiling. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the squash or sweet potato is meltingly soft.

Serve with couscous or bulghur wheat.


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Vegan & Vegetarian Vegetable Fried Rice

I usually stir fry noodles, but last week I thought I'd try rice for a change.

The ingredients are roughly the same as my noodle stir fries; garlic, ginger, carrot, and something green but this time with a homemade Hoisin sauce.

Serves 5

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 cm ginger, grated or finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
2 handfuls of finely sliced cabbage, chard, or kale (mine above has rainbow chard in)
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large mug of basmati rice

Hoisin Sauce
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp hot chilli sauce

Start by cooking the rice according to the packet's instructions

Mix the Hoisin sauce ingredients together in a small bowl, and prepare all the vegetables.

When the rice is cooked, drain and leave to cool, and gather all your ingredients within easy reach ready for stir frying.

Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat until smoking.  Add the ginger and garlic, stir and add the carrot and cabbage.  Keep stirring so the vegetables don't burn.  If you like crunchy vegetables, just stir fry for a couple of minutes and then add the rice.  If you prefer softer vegetables, add a splash of water and turn the heat down to medium.  Keep stirring and you will see the vegetables start to soften in the steam

Once you've added the rice, stir and mix well over a high high for a minute or so then turn the heat down to medium.  Add the Hoisin sauce and stir through.  Keep heating until the rice is hot again.  You may prefer to cover with a lid for a few minutes until you hear it sizzling, if you have a large enough lid.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Vegan Root Vegetable & Lentil Shepherds Pie

I've veganised my carnivore Shepherd's Pie with Hidden Vegetables for #meatlessmonday.

Serves 4-6

1 large carrot
1 large stick of celery
1 large onion
1 large garlic clove
1/4 swede, celeriac, or a couple of medium parsnips
1 tbsp olive oil
125g green lentils
125g red lentils
Heaped tsp Marmite
1 tin chopped tomatoes
500ml just boiled water
1 vegetable stock cube
5 large baking potatoes
Dairy free margarine
Dairy free milk
I tbsp olive oil


Peel and dice all the vegetables.  Sweat the onion, carrot and celery for about 10 minutes with the lid on then add the garlic and remaining root vegetables for another 10 minutes, making sure they don't catch on the bottom of the pan.


After the final 10 minutes or so, add the tomatoes, lentils, marmite, water and stock cube.  Bring to the boil then simmer with a lid on for 30 minutes or until the green lentils and vegetables are tender.  Stir from time to time to make sure the pan is not drying out, adding more boiled water if it is.


Roughly chop the potatoes.  I leave the skins on, but my kids aren't keen on this timesaving approach.  Pour over boiling water and boil for 10 minutes with a little salt until the potatoes are soft.  When soft, drain and mash with the margarine and dairy free milk until you have a spreadable mash.


Pour the lentil & vegetable base into a lasagna dish.  You may with to stir in a few splashes of water if the lentils have made the mix a little dry.  Plop spoonfuls of mash over the mix to cover the surface.  Rough the potato up with a fork or a spoon to help it brown in the oven.  Drizzle over the olive oil and bake for 20 minutes at 200C or until the liquid from the vegetable mix is bubbling up round the sides of the potato.  If not browned to your taste, place the pie under the grill watching it very carefully until it is browned to your taste.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Vegetarian & Vegan Butternut Squash & Lentil Dhansak Curry

Made this dhansak for #meatlessmonday, which I have turned into veganmonday in our house. The kids like curry, providing I can make the vegetables unrecognisable.

Serves 4-6


500g butternut squash (half a medium sized butternut squash)
100g red lentils
1 400g tin tomatoes
1 large onion
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
6 black peppercorns
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
4 green cardamons, seeds only
4 cloves of garlic
2.5cm root ginger
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp hot chilli flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp dried mint

Peel and finely slice the onion.  Fry in the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat until it begins to caramelise.  Add the finely chopped garlic, ginger, and ground spices and stir round for a minute or so.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes, 2 cans of just boiled water, lentils, and the rest of the ingredients.

Simmer for 30 minutes with a lid on, stirring from time to time.  If, at the end of the cooking time, the curry is too runny for your tastes simmer it for 10 minutes with the lid off to reduce it a little.

At home we serve this with basmati rice which has been cooked with a large pinch of cumin seeds and a handful of frozen peas.


Saturday, 7 October 2017

All in One Apple Cake - Dairy Free Version

I stumbled across this recipe earlier in the year, when looking for a rhubarb cake recipe.  I thought I'd try it with apple, and using the all in one approach just to save time.  It seems to work.

2 small eating apples
225 sugar
240ml sunflower oil
240g self raising flour (gluten free self raising can be used instead)
3 eggs
2 tbsp apple juice
1 heaped tsp baking powder
2 tbsp brown sugar
1tsp cinnamon (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Peel the apples, cut into quarters and core.  Place in the food processor with all the other ingredients.  Whizz until you can just see pea sized lumps of apple.

Pour the cake into a greased and lined cake tin.  I use two sandwich tins and make 2 small cakes.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small dry bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the cake. If using 2 sandwich tins mix 1 tbsp brown sugar and 1/2tsp cinnamon, sprinkle over one cake and then do the same with the other.

Bake at 180C for 40 minutes.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Quick & Easy Kale & Squash Laksa Noodle Soup

Many of the laksa recipes I've looked at have a long list of ingredients, this one however doesn't.  And takes under 5 minutes to cook.

Serves a greedy 1

1 nest of rice noodles/vermicelli
2 large kale leaves
A large handful of grated squash (I didn't have any when I made the bowl above!)
1/2 can coconut milk
1 tsp thai curry paste or tom yum paste (NB Shrimp paste free curry paste is available for vegans & vegetarians)
1 low salt vegetable stock cube
Boiling water
Half a small onion
1tbsp fresh or dried mint

Grate the squash and thinly shred the kale.  Pour the coconut into a jug and top up to 500ml with boiling water.  Add the coconut & water to a saucepan with the rice noodles, kale, squash, curry paste, and stock cube.  Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for the cooking time of the noodles.

Quickly, whilst the noodles are cooking, thinly slice the onion and fresh mint if using.  When the noodles are cooked pour into a large bowl and sprinkle with the onion and mint.  Tuck in.