Thursday, 22 November 2007

Lentil and Rice Casserole

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp each cumin and coriander seeds
1 tsp peppercorns
2 garlic cloves, chopped
150g brown rice
150g green lentils
1/2 tsp salt
350g tomatoes, sliced
1 cinnamon stick, halved
850ml vegetable stock

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for 5 minutes until lightly browned.

Crush the seeds and peppercorns with a pestle and mortar, add to the pan. Fry for 2 minutes, then stir in the lentils, rice and salt.

Take out half the mixture, and add a layer of tomatoes on top of the rest before putting the lentils back in. Then add the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 35 minutes. You might need a bit more water.

Serves 4.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

The best thing about winter...

It seems like ages since I've had the opportunity to try out new recipes. If you've been reading my main blog you'll know why, but to cut a long story short I haven't had much time at home recently, and have been resorting to easy but not particularly blog worthy staples like pasta and beans on toast.

But this weekend I decided to make an effort and picked out a few recipes, bought loads of veg and went for it. Obviously celeriac, butternut squash etc doesn't always come in exactly the quantity you want. Sometimes I just lob it all in the main recipe for the hell of it, but when it comes to root veg I love being able to save all my leftovers, shove them in the oven with some oil, herbs and honey, then blend the result into a lovely sweet roast veg soup with some stock.

I'm not sending my food "waste" to landfill, oh no...

Spicy Lentil and Parsnip Pie

50g butter
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, diced
225g red lentils
2 tbsp medium curry paste
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
650g parsnips, sliced
1 leek, sliced
85g cheddar

Melt half the butter, add the onion and carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add the lentils, curry paste, tomatoes, tomato puree and 300ml water. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile boil the parsnips for 10 minutes, adding the leek for the final 2 minutes. Drain and mash with the remaining butter. Season.

Put the lentil mixture into a dish. Top with the mashed parsnips and cheese, grill until golden.

Serves 4

Celeriac and Apple Soup

450g celeriac, cubed
2 tbsp lemon juice
25g butter
1 leek, sliced
2 sticks celery, chopped
375g apples, peeled, cored and chopped
150ml dry cider
850ml vegetable stock

Put the celeriac and apple in a bowl with the lemon juice to stop it going brown. Melt the butter, add the leek and celery and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the celeriac and apples, cook for 10 minutes. Add the cider and increase the heat. Boil for 3 - 4 minutes to reduce the cider by half. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Blend, season and serve.

Serves 4

Butternut Squash Kutta

1 large red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp lazy ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp olive oil
500g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced
1 tin tomatoes
handful sultanas
2 celery stalks, chopped
handful celery leaves
1 tbsp lemon juice
handful coriander leaves
55g whole almonds
1 tbsp sugar

Saute the onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric in the oil for 3 - 4 minutes.

Add the butternut squash, tomatoes, sultanas, celery, celery leaves and 400ml water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 - 25 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, corander, almonds and sugar, cook for 5 more minutes, serve.

Serves 4.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, diced
2 onions, quartered
5 cloves garlic
250g cherry tomatoes
olive oil
1 litre vegetable stock
Toss the squash, onions, garlic and tomatoes in the olive oil and honey and roast for 25 minutes in a hot oven with the rosemary.
Blend, adding the stock until it reaches the desired consistency. Season, heat through and serve.
Serves 4.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Pumpkin and Lentil Tagine

275g brown lentils
3 tomatoes, chopped
500 - 600g pumpkin/butternut squash, cubed
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
3 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp sugar

Cook the lentils in water for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Cook the onion in the oil until soft. Add the garlic for a few seconds, then the cumin, turmeric, pepper and paprika, cook for about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree and sugar. Stir.

Add the lentils and squash, together with a little water. Stir well, cover and cook for 20 minutes.


Serves 4.

It turned out less spicy than I was expecting, and maybe needs to be jazzed up a bit if I try it again.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Veggie Lasagne

1/2 large butternut squash (about 600g), peeled and diced
1/2 red pepper, cut into strips
1/2 yellow pepper, cut into strips
2 small courgettes, trimmed and thickly sliced
1 red onion, roughly sliced
1/2 aubergine, cut into 2cm cubes
125g cherry tomatoes
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 x tins chopped tomatoes
250g pack fresh lasagne sheets (6 sheets)
2 tbsp olive oil spread
2 tbsp cornflour
600ml skimmed milk
60g grated mature cheddar

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
2. Place all the veg, rosemary and garlic in a large roasting tin, toss with the olive oil and roast for 30 minutes.
3. Make the cheese sauce by whisking the spread, cornflour and milk together over a medium heat until thickened, then adding the cheese.
4. Stir the tomatoes into the vegetables once they are cooked.
5. Make up the lasagne - layer of lasagne, 1/3 veg, 1/3 cheese sauce, lasagne, 1/3 veg, 1/3 sauce, lasagne, 1/3 veg, 1/3 cheese sauce (I prefer to save a bit more of the sauce for the top, using less on the lower layers)
6. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes.

I was tempted to put some more grated cheese on the top but resisted. The sauce isn't the cheesiest I've tasted, but the veg mix is lovely.

Serves 4 (farily generous portions, but apparently still only 339 calories each).

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Broad Bean and Pecorino Salad

Another one from good food magazine. I just tend to make this up a portion at a time, it tastes lovely and fresh and summery, and if you use frozen broad beans instead of fresh it's very quick too.


Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Pea, Tomato and Paneer Curry

I've never eaten paneer before so decided to experiment with it. I didn't know what to expect from it, but it was actually really easy and tasty. I lowered the fat a bit by frying the cheese in some of that low calorie spray stuff, and it seemed to work OK.

Recipe here

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Vegetable Tagine

Another one from the trusty BBC Good Food website (always useful when I'm planning my cooking at work without any recipe books handy.

Recipe here

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Lemony Rice and Peas

A good standby, this one - I had everything in the cupboard except some spring onions which can easily be obtained on the way home from work. I didn't bother with the coriander because I didn't have any fresh, but it was still lovely. I also used small tins of lentils and chickpeas and made a half portion, as there blatantly aren't 10 of me!

Recipe link

Monday, 30 July 2007

Lentil and vegetable soup

2 onions, chopped
3 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1 leek, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
500g red split lentils
250ml can sweetcorn
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice

Fry the onion, carrots, celery and leek in the oil in a covered pan for 10 minutes. When soft add the lentils and 2.5 litres of water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.

Blend, keeping some aside for texture. Put everything back in the pan with the sweetcorn, soy sauce, lemon juice and seasoning. Serve

Serves about 8.

Slow cook black beans

500g dried black beans
2 large onions, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice

Soak the beans overnight. Drain, put in a pan and add enough water to cover. Boil and bubble hard for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat and cook for about 1 and a quarter hours (they might need more water).

Fry the onions in the oil for 10 minutes, add the cumin and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Set aside.

Stir the onions into the beans once they're cooked, add the lemon juice and seasoning.

Serve with yoghurt/sour cream/chopped chillies/coriander/whatever else takes your fancy.

*Warning - contains lots of beans and may have after effects*

Serves 4

Leek, carrot and ginger soup

4 small leeks, whites only, sliced
4 carrots, chopped
3 tsp lazy garlic
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp olive oil
900ml vegetable stock

Fry the leeks, carrot, garlic and ginger in the oil for about 3 minutes. Add the stock and boil for about 10 minutes. Blend, season and serve.

Serves about 3.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Store Cupboard Cous Cous

60g wholewheat cous cous
110ml vegetable stock
10g flaked almonds
25g raisins
1 small tin chickpeas
1 red onion, chopped
olive oil

Pour the stock over the cous cous and cover.

Dry fry the almonds to toast them. Heat the oil and cook the onion and spices for a couple of minutes. Add the chickpeas. The cous cous should be ready by now, so add that, the almonds and the raisin. Stir it all together and serve.

Chick Pea and Aubergine Casserole

2 onions, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons ground coriander
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 aubergines, chopped into chunks
1 red chilli, chopped
1 tsp saffron
1 tsp salt
2 x cans chickpeas
175g basmati rice
115g green olives
1 lemon, sliced
400ml vegetable stock
fresh coriander

Fry the onions in the oil for 5 minutes, add the cumin, coriander, garlic, aubergine, chilli, saffron and salt. cook for a couple of minutes. Add the chickpeas, rice, olives, lemon slices and stock. Bring the the boil, cover and cook gently for 20 minutes. Stand for 5 minutes then stir through the coriander and serve.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Herby pea risotto

Serves 1

80g arborio rice
250ml stock
1 onion
100g frozen peas (or a mix of peas, broad beans, green beans etc - whatever's in the freezer)
teaspoon lazy garlic
fresh chopped chives and basil
knob of butter
splash of white wine

Melt the butter and gently fry the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes. Add the arborio and coat in the melted butter, then add the wine and stir until it evaporates. Add the stock slowly, stiring until each spoonful of stock is absorbed before adding more. A couple of spoonfuls of stock from the end add the frozen peas and stir in. When all the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked add the cheese and herbs, stir, season, stir a bit more and serve.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Lentil, Spinach and walnut salad

400g tin brown lentils
4 spring onions, finely chopped
125g cherry tomatoes, halved
60g walnut pieces
1/2 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
100g baby spinach

Heat the lentils in a little water, drain and mix with the spring onions, cherry tomatoes and walnuts.

Mix the dressing ingredients together, and mix into the lentil mixture.

Make a bed of spinach leaves and put the lentil mixture on top. Serve.

Serves 2

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Spicy tofu and peas

1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
250g tofu, cubed
1 tin chopped tomatoes
150g frozen peas
1 tbsp lemon juice

Cook the onion in the oil for 5 minutes until starting to soften. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin and turmeric and cook for another minute. Add the tofu and cook for 5 minutes, stirring. Then add the tomatoes and peas, cook for another 3 - 4 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and serve.

Serves 3 - 4

Green bean and mint broth

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1.5 litres vegetable stock
200g green beans, cut into 2cm pieces
400g runner beans, cut into 2cm pieces
200g frozen broad beans (couldn't find fresh)

Heat the olive in a pan, cook the onion over a low heat for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.

Pour in the stock and simmer for 5 minutes, add the beans and mint and cook for another 6 minutes.


Serves 5 - 6

Balsamic green bean pasta

I've been a bit slack at updating my recipes recently. I've tried various things, some of which have been more successful than others. Some of the hits:

100g wholewheat pasta
100g frozen green beans
5 sundried tomatoes (the dry ones, not the ones in oil)
balsamic vinegar
tomato puree
lazy garlic

Cut the sundried tomatoes and soak in water. Cook the pasta for 5 minutes. Add the green beans and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Drain the tomatoes, pasta and beans.

Put a teaspoon or so of garlic, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a little tomato puree in the pan and mix, adjusting quantities to get the desired consistency. Add the beans, pasta and tomatoes and stir to coat. Season with the pepper, and serve topped with grated parmesan.

Serves 1

Saturday, 9 June 2007

New potato and asparagus salad

Serves 4

450g new potatoes, halved lengthways
175g french beans
225g asparagus spears
175g sugar snap peas
85g rocket
grated parmesan
4 tbsp garlic vinegar (or white wine vinegar with some added garlic)
120g pesto

Mix the garlic vinegar and pesto, chill.

Boil a big pan of water. Add the potatoes for 6 minutes, the french beans for another 2 and the asparagus and sugar snap peas for another 2 after that. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Mix the veg with the rocket and dressing, tss together, season and serve sprinkled with cheese

Peppers stuffed with cous cous

Serves 4

4 small red peppers
4 small yellow peppers
200g cous cous
400ml boiling water
4 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp harissa
zest and juice of 1 lemon
400g can chickpeas
4 tbsp chopped mint
4 tbsp chopped parsley

Cut the tops off the peppers and remove core and seeds.

Pour the water over the cous cous, cover and soak for 10 minutes.

Cook the onions in half the oil for 5 minutes, add the garlic, cumin and cinnamon and fry for another 2 minutes.

Mix the onion mixture, cous cous, chickpeas, harissa, herbs and lemon together and spoon into the peppers. Put the lids back on, brush with oil and grill for 10 - 15 minutes, turning occasionally.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Rhubarb and Ginger Compote

I got this recipe from the paper, the electronic version is here.

I only licked the spoon when I was spooning it into pots for the rest of the week, but it tasted delicious. Grated ginger, chopped rhubarb and sugar - very easy to make, and utterly delicious!

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Carrot and Ginger Soup

2tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 - 3 cm freshly grated root ginger
450g carrots, sliced
1 litre vegetable stock
2 tbsp lemon juice

Heat the oil over a low heat, add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 5 - 6 minutes. Add the carrot and stock, bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Blend with the lemon juice, season and serve.

serves 4

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Cabbage and Kohlrabi Gratin

I didn't have enough cabbage to make this, so I decided to make up the veg by chucking some kohlrabi in, as I didn't have any other ideas of what to do with it anyway. It turned out pretty well, and that's another veg on the list of things I've tried.

(In a day for new things, I bought a whole pineapple for the first time ever. I've got myself eating it out of cans, and in pre-chopped packs, but it was the first time I've ever attempted to tackle one. Let's just say, I'll be buying another. Wow)

At the moment I'm experimenting with recipes for rhubarb compote. I remember eating rhubarb at my grandparents house, just dipped into sugar, and the first compote recipe I tried wasn't much more sophisticated than that. Lovely, but with far too much sugar for my liking. I've got another batch of rhubarb and a different recipe to try tomorrow though, so I'll report back.

Spring Greens Soup

250g savoy cabbage, roughly chopped
runner beans (however much they gave me...), chopped
50g butter
150g peeled potatoes, dived
1 onion, chopped
2 pints vegetable stock

Melt the butter. Add the potatoes and coat. Sprinkle with pepper. Cover with a lid and allow to sweat over agentle heat for about 10 minutes. Remove the lid, add the stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add cabbage and beans and cook for 5 minutes. Blend, season and serve.

Serves 4

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Summer vegetable pasta

All the BBC Good Food recipes seem to make loads, and this pasta dish was no exception.

I had fresh broad beans for the first time, so wanted something nice to eat them in. As I actually like broad beans I decided not to hide them in a soup recipe. It felt very summery eating it outside in the garden. I made half the recipe and am going to eat the other half as a salad.

Moroccan Tagine

This is another BBC Good Food recipe. I modified it a bit, and used cauliflower instead of parsnips, because that's what I had in the box. By the looks of the recipe it's the chermoula paste rather than the actual veg you use that makes the recipe, so fingers crossed it will work out OK.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Veggie Burgers

For a change I decided to make some veggie burgers. When I have burgers I tend to eat them with a salad rather than on a bun. Burgers aren't really something I crave that often, I was never a real fast food junkie, but sometimes I just fancy something burger shaped. I modified this recipe a bit by leaving the mushrooms out (still a bit of a mental block), but they still look fairly successful. I haven't eaten them yet, as I wanted to prepare them before going to the cinema, so I can have something quick when I get back in, but they look pretty good.

Fennel, red pepper and chickpea salad

I'm on a roll with Good Food recipes. For lunch I had this warm(ish) salad, and really enjoyed it. Fennel is one of those things that I've only been introduced to via the veg box, and this is probably one of the nicest things I've made it with so far. You can never beat chickpeas, red pepper and red onion either, to be fair.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Vegetable Biryani

Tonight I'm trying this baked veg biryani. I've modified the recipe a bit, I'm using carrot instead of sweet potato because that's what I have, I'm using a mix of sugar snap peas and green beans, and I've chucked some broccoli in because I can't think of anything else to use it in this week. I'm also using plain cashews rather than salted ones. But fingers crossed it should still turn out OK.

Update - it was good, but HOT. A medium or mild curry paste probably wouldn't do any harm...

Grilled Halloumi with Cous Cous

One from the BBC Good Food website today.

I'm still searching for new ways to eat broccoli, and I love love love halloumi, so I decided to try this. The calories are a bit on the high side, but I've done a 20 mile run this morning so I guess that I've burned them off. I used half the cheese and cous cous, with all the veg, and it made loads.

I do love halloumi...

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Cabbage, bean and tomato soup

Serves 5

1/2 savoy cabbage, shredded
2 onions, chopped
2 tins tomatoes
2 small tins beans, drained
herbs (I used dried rosemary)

Put the onion, tomatoes, herbs and water in a pan and bring to the boil. Add the cabbage and heat for about 15 minutes. Add the beans and heat through. Season and serve.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Carrot and Leek Bake

1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 leek, sliced
150ml orange juice
1/2 tbsp honey
1 tsp lazy garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tbsp poppy seeds

Cook the carrot and leek in boiling water for 5 - 7 minutes. Drain and put into an oven dish.

Mix the orange juice, honey, garlic and cumin, pour over the vegetables and cover.

Cook in the oven at 180 for 30 minutes, sprinkle over the poppy seeds and serve.

Serves 2.

Fennel and Carrot Salad

1/2 fennel, thinly sliced
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp poppy seeds

Mix the grated fennel, carrot and lemon juice. Heat the oil and add the poppy seeds til they start to pop, then pour over the salad.

I added some chunks of goats cheese to add a bit of protein as I was having this on its own rather than as a side dish.

Saturday, 31 March 2007


This is another Rose Elliott recipe, and is red pepper, aubergine, courgette, potato onion, potato, parsley and garlic with a tin of tomatoes tipped over it and cooked in the oven for 2 - 3 hours. A nice easy one.

Beetroot and Tomato Soup

This recipe is roughly based on this Abel & Cole recipe, but tweaked.

3 raw beetroot, grated
1 can tomatoes with garlic
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp lazy garlic
300ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
Grated goats cheese

Soften the onion in the oil for a couple of minutes. Add the grated beetroot and stock, simmer for 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and garlic and heat through. Blend roughly (all the bits are pretty small and soft anyway, so may as well keep the soup a bit chunky). I thought it needed a bit more water, so added some. Season and serve with the grated cheese.

Fennel and Leek Risotto

This is another Abel & Cole recipe. The one thing that annoys me about that website is that they rarely say how many it serves. I made roughly half of this, and it made two big portions, and was pretty good.

It also gave me an excuse to finish the bottle of wine...

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Walnut and broccoli pasta

75g wholewheat pasta
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp lazy garlic
12g wholemeal breadcrumbs
12g walnuts, chopped
1/2 tsp lazy chilli

Cook the pasta for 5 minutes, add the broccoli and cook for 5 more minutes.

Soften the onion and garlic in the oil, then add the breadcrumbs, walnuts and chilli, and cook until toasted.

Drain the pasta and broccoli, add to the walnut mixture, stir, season and serve.

Serves 1.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Puy Lentil Casserole

Rose strikes again, with puy lentils, carrots, leeks, onions, tomatoes and herbs all cooked together into a lovely warming casserole.

I've made another batch of this with assorted lentils using up some packets, and it's just as good!

Beetroot and Quinoa Tabbouleh

This is another Rose Elliott recipe, and basically consists of lovely soft onions with balsamic vinegar, raw grated beetroot, cooked quinoa and a bit of lemon juice all stirred together. Lovely, simple and quick.

Delia-esque Slow Cooked Root Vegetable Soup

I was meant to be making this soup today but at some point between reading the recipe and chopping the vegetables I managed to convince myself that I needed carrot, parsnip, celeriac and swede rather than carrot, leek, celeriac and swede. Hopefully it will still be nice (and I needed to do something with the parsnip, so it may as well go in there), and it's an excuse to make the soup again using the proper ingredients!

Friday, 23 March 2007

Chilli Broccoli Pasta

Yes, the broccoli's still coming. Amazingly I've actually started to almost like it. It's wearing me down, finally. I had a smaller portion of pasta than usual because I had the root veg salad as a starter.

60g wholewheat pasta
100g broccoli, cut into florets
2 tsp lazy garlic
1/2 tsp lazy chilli
1 tbsp olive oil

Boil the broccoli for 4 - 5 minutes, drain and set aside.

Cook the pasta according to instructions.

Meanwhile, cook the garlic in the oil for a minute, add the chilli for 30 seconds, then add the broccoli and cook until nicely combined. Drain and add the pasta, season and serve sprinkled with parmesan.

Serves 1.

Root veg salad

1 small carrot, coarsely grated
1 small parsnip, coarsely grated
small chunk celeriac, coarsely grated
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp black mustard seeds
15g walnut chunks
15g raisins
40g hard goats cheese

Combine the root veg. Heat the olive oil and add the mustard seeds. When they start popping, tip over the veg, add the walnuts, raisins and cheese, mix and serve.

Serves 1.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Garlic and Broccoli Soup

1 head garlic, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can cannellini beans, drained
2 heads broccoli, chopped into florets
1.2l vegetable stock

Fry the garlic and onion in the oil until soft. Add the beans, broccoli and stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Blend, season and serve.

Serves 3.

Sunday, 18 March 2007


I have to plug this, because it looks fab.

Rose Elliot's Low-GI Vegetarian Cookbook (Amazon link).

Today I decided on a big curry cooking session. I ended up making spinach curry (p60), cabbage thoran (p61) and lentil dal (p109), having a bit of each and freezing the rest. That means nothing if you don't have the book, but as I do, this works as a reference to me without infringing too much copyright...

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Spicy Potato and Cauliflour Stew

375g lentils
1.8 vegetable stock
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large onions, cut into wedges
1kg potatoes, cut into chunks
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
3 - 4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp mustard seeds
1 - 2 tbsp fennel seeds
2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp saffron threads, soaked in 2 tbsp warm water
125g coconut cream
1 tbsp chopped coriander

Soak the lentils for 15 minutes, then rinse, drain and cook with half the stock for 30 minutes until the water has been absorbed.

Meanwhile... fry the onion in the oil for about 8 minutes, add the potatoes, cauliflower and garlic and cook for a further minute. Stir in the turmeric, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and chillies.

Add the rest of the stock and the saffron and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until the vegetables are almost cooked.

Coarsely mash the cooked lentils, stir in the coconut cream and coriander and mix well. Add to the vegetables and cook gently until the vegetables are tender and the flavours combined.

Serves 6

This was very nice, and quite filling. Not actually too spicy, and quite runny, but one to try again.

Curried Lentil Soup

2 tbsps vegetable oil
2 small onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, cubed
4 celery sticks, copped
2 tbsp curry paste
100g red lentils
400g can chopped tomatoes
1.2l vegetable stock

Heat the oil and cook the onion until soft. Add the garlic, potato, carrot, celery and curry paste and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the lentils, tomatoes and stock. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

Serves 4.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Leek, broccoli and quinoa

1 small leek (100g)
80g broccoli florets
150 - 200ml water, with a pinch of bouillon powder
25ml olive oil
50g quinoa
20g sundried tomatoes, sliced
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp lemon juice

Slice the leeks into rings and rinse. Put the water, oil, leeks and broccoli in a pan and simmer for five minutes.

Add the quinoa, tomatoes and coriander. Cook for 15 minutes, adding extra water if necessary. Stir in the lemon juice, season with black pepper.

Serves 1.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Pepper Pasta Bake

100g wholegrain pasta
2 - 3 roast red peppers (from jar), chopped
easy chilli and garlic to taste
small tin chopped tomatoes
cottage cheese
olive oil/olive oil spray
red wine vinegar

Cook the pasta according to instructions. Fry the chilli and garlic in the oil/spray for a minute or so and add the tomatoes and a splash of vinegar, together with the red peppers. Stir together over the heat, and stir in the pasta. Put the pasta in an ovenproof dish and top with some cottage cheese, and a sprinkling of parmesan. Cook in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes.

Serves 1

Not bad for something I made up out of what was in the cupboard!

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Leek, Potato and Stilton Soup

I still had some stilton left, so I modified my soup recipe a bit.

2 large leeks, chopped
3 largish potatoes, diced
3 small onions, chopped
1.5 litres vegetable stock
stilton (I didn't weigh it)
1 tbsp olive oil

Fry the leek and onions until softened, add the potatoes and stock and boil for 20 minutes. Blend, add the stilton, heat through until melted, season and serve.

Cabbage and Onion Rice

25g pine nuts
15g butter
15ml olive oil
500g onions, sliced
500g cabbage/spring greens/kale etc, shredded
250g brown basmati rice
25g parmesan (plus extra to serve)
1 - 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Toast the pine nuts and set aside.

Heat the oil and butter in a large pan. Stir in the onions, cover and cook gently for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the rice according to the packet instructions.

Uncover the pan and continue to cook gently until the onions have turned golden. Add the balsamic vinegar and season well, then cook for a further 1 - 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Blanch the cabbage in a pan of lightly salted boiling water for about 3 minutes. Drain well, add to the onions and cook over a low heat for 3 - 4 minutes.

Drain the rice and add it to the onions and cabbage. Toss thoroughly to mix.

Season and stir in the parmesan. Serve, scatter the pine nuts over the top and parmesan if you like.

Serves 4.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Blue Cheese Vegetable Gratin

I made some more broccoli and stilton soup today, so thought I'd use the rest of the stilton in this.

450g each of potatoes, carrots and parsnips, thickly sliced
bunch of spring onions
knob of butter
140g stilton

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Cook the potatoes, carrots and parsnips in salted boiling water for 8 - 10 minutes, until just tender. Drain well.

Roughly chop the spring onions. Melt the butter, add the spring onions and fry gently for a minute or two until softened slightly. Tip in the vegetables and stir until coated with butter. Tip into an ovenproof dish.

Slice the cheese and put on top of the vegetables. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Aduki Bean Shepherd's Pie

For the mash topping:
700g/1lb 9oz floury potaotes, peeled and cut into chunks
skimmed milk
85g/3 oz cheddar, grated
For the vegetables
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 small onions, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 huge carrot, diced
420g can aduki beans, drained and rinsed
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 tsp tomato purée
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Cook the potatoes in a pan of lightly salted boiling water until tender.
3. Meanwhile heat the oil add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot and fry gently for 10 minutes.
4. Add the beans, tomatoes, herbs or chilli powder and tomato purée with 3 tbsp water. Season to taste and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. When the potatoes are cooked drain and mash until smooth with a little milk. Season to taste. Beat in half the cheese.
6. Spoon the beans and tomato mixture into an ovenproof dish and top with the cheesy mash. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
7. Cook for 20 minutes until the topping is golden brown.

Serves 4

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Brussels Sprout and Caramelised Onion Soup

Today I raided the BBC recipe database for this. I have to admit I saw the sprouts in the box and wondered why I hadn't put them on the exclude list, so I decided to do what's worked in the past and attempt to eat them blended into a soup before moving on to doing something more visible with them.

This worked quite well. It ended up brown and oniony rather than betraying the presence of the sprouts, so when I grab it from the freezer I might even forget they're in there...

Friday, 23 February 2007

Carrot and Pineapple Cake

This is a low GI recipe and will hopefully taste as good as it smells:

450g wholemeal self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (I used fresh grated nutmeg here)
1/2 tsp ground allspice
110g dark muscovado sugar
50g walnut pieces
110g raisins
25g dessicated coconut
125ml light olive oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
350g carrots, grated
250g crushed pineapple in natural juice

Preheat the oven to 180, line the base of a cake tin and grease.

Mix all the dry ingredients, then add the remaining ingredients and mix until evenly combined.

Put in the tin and bake for about 1 hour. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack until completely cold.

Broccoli and Pasta Bake

Guess where I found this recipe?... I made it pretty much to the recipe (for once!), using mozzarella and cottage cheese. But I'm really running out of things to do with broccoli...

Herbed Cauliflower Bake

Another one from Abel & Cole. I modified it by using carrots instead of mushrooms, and I added some grated cheese on top.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007


I used this batter recipe from the BBC. I tarted it up a bit by using wholemeal flour and skimmed milk.

The plan is to heat up some cherries and serve those on top with a little dollop of the leftover marscapone from last night in place of cream. And possibly a little sprinkle of options over the top for a bit of chocolatey goodness.

Well, even if I'm not giving anything up for lent this year, I need to make the most of the opportunity to have a pre-lent pancake fest!

Cauliflower, Potato and Cheddar Soup

Another one courtesy of Abel & Cole, the recipe is here.

I modified it by leaving out the cream. It didn't seem to be necessary, so I just made it without and it was still lovely. I even bought some whole nutmegs to grate into it!

It did seem a shame to blend my cauliflower though, it wasn't a normal one, it was one of these.

But I have pancakes to make later, so I didn't want much more than soup as a savoury dish...

Monday, 19 February 2007

Lemon and Leek Risotto

This may not be the most diet friendly recipe around, but boy is it good...

50g butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced
200g green beans, trimmed and chopped
250g risotto rice
6 bay leaves
150ml white wine
1 litre hot vegetable stock
juice and rind of 1 large lemon
50g marscapone
50g parmesan, grated

Melt the butter in a large pan and cook the onion, garlic, leek and beans until soft but not brown. Stir in the rice and bay leaves until the grains are glossy, add the wine and reduce by half.

Add the stock a spoonful at a time until absorbed, cook for about 20 minutes or until creamy but still with a bit of bite.

Add the lemon juice, rind and pepper and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes. Then add the cheese, stir, take off the heat, cover and rest until all nicely melted together.

Serve and drool.

Serves 2.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Vegetable Risotto

I was thrown tonight, I was expecting another helping of root veg and I came home to peppers, courgettes, tomatoes and green beans! Cue a bit of hasty rethinking of what to cook tonight. I ended up with this:

1 red pepper, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
150g brown rice
180ml vegetable stock
500ml water
2 medium courgettes
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
20g parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
1 tsp dried oregano

Heat oil in a large pan, cook onion and garlic until soft. Add rice, stock and water, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes (until tender and almost all liquid absorbed).

Cut courgette into thin strips lengthways - a mandolin or vegetable peeler works well for this.

Stir courgette, pepper and tomato into rice. Cook for about 3 minutes or until vegetables soften. Stir in the cheese and oregano.

Serves 2.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Oven Baked Veg Soup

I apologise for the vagueness of this recipe in advance.

Some root veg - quantities and mix undefined
4 - 6 tomatoes
onions/leek/garlic - quantities and mix undefined
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp honey
several bay leaves
1 litre stock (plus or minus a bit)

Cube/chop the root veg, onions, leeks etc, coat with the oil and honey, toss with the herbs and bake in the oven for about 25 - 30 minutes. Quarter the tomatoes, add and bake for a further 25 - 30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and squeeze out the garlic. Blend with stock (using enough to get it to the right consistency). Season. Heat through and serve.

Serves ? (well, it depends how much veg you use really...)

Thursday, 8 February 2007


Does anyone have any good horseradish recipes? Or indeed any horseradish recipes at all...

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Celeriac, leek and white bean soup

This soup comes from here, via Dietgirl. It will be my first taste of celeriac, so I hope it's good!

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Greens Casserole with Tofu Topping

This recipe comes from Abel & Cole.

I messed around a bit with the veg, based on what I had and what I wanted to use in other recipes, so I used a whole cabbage, about 200g baby spinach, 1 huge carrot (about 125g), about 130g broccoli florets, and I used 250g tofu in the topping rather than 200g because that was the size of the pack.

It actually turned out pretty good, and quite versatile I guess for using up whatever green stuff arrives in the box.

Friday, 2 February 2007

Friday 2 February 2007

When I went to set up the veg box I excluded mushrooms. I was very close to excluding broccoli too, but I decided that I should try to like it. (I'm not sure why this theory doesn't also apply to mushrooms, but we'll fight one battle at a time). Since I started getting the box I've had broccoli every week. Maybe it's the time of year, but I really hope it stops soon. I am eating it, but I'm looking forward to a break.

I also get potatoes and onions every week, which I struggle to use up. I'm about two weeks behind on the potatoes as it is, and a new batch arrived yesterday. Again, I'm hoping that potato season comes to an end soon! I usually get carrots too, but at least I usually get through those without a problem.

Anyway, today I had to go home at lunchtime to let the alarm maintenance engineer in to service my alarm. What a fantastic opportunity to have something other than soup for lunch and to use some of those potatoes. Being a trying to be green, fitness freak type person I worked out that if I didn't want to take my car into work (which I didn't), it would take no longer to run home than to get the bus, and it would be better for me. I would run it more often to be honest, other than the faff of getting to the other end and my stuff being in the wrong place (unless I carry it, and I have far too much stuff for that, or unless I plan ahead even more than I do already). But because I knew I'd be going back into work there was no problem with running home, letting the bloke in, then going back for an afternoons work and to pick my bits up.

That's a long way of saying that I was pretty hungry (and pretty deserving of some food) by the time I got home. I decided to use some of the potatoes in tortilla. Apologies for the vagueness of the recipe, it was cobbled together from a couple of sources, and cooking time and quantities were based mainly on whether it looked right at various stages. I think my pan was too big (or the quantity of stuff was too small for it) because it was flatter than I was intending, but it tasted pretty good.

This evening it was the turn of the broccoli. I have started eating it whole from time to time, but today I decided to go back to the pureeing it approach to disguise the fact that it's in the box yet again. Gah. The "pesto" turned out pretty nice actually. I might actually look forward to getting broccoli one day.

Broccoli and pine nut pesto

100g wholemeal pasta
90g broccoli
1 tbsp pine nuts
4 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lazy garlic
1 tsp lazy chillies
lemon juice
black pepper
parmesan cheese

Boil the broccoli for 10 minutes. Boil the pasta for 10 minutes in a different pan.

Toast the pine nuts until golden, set aside.

Heat the oil and fry the garlic and chillies for about a minute.

Drain the broccoli and blend with the garlic and chilli oil and half the pine nuts.

Stir in the pasta, sun dried tomatoes and the rest of the pine nuts.

Serve, topped with parmesan and black pepper.

Serves 1.


3 potatoes, diced
2 small onions, chopped
160g frozen mixed pepper strips
Olive oil
4 eggs

Fry the potatoes and onions in a little olive oil until the potatoes are soft. Add the pepper close to the end.

Beat the eggs, season, add the potato mixture and stir.

Heat some oil in a pan, add the eggs and potatoes and cook through slowly. Once the bottom is done either flip the tortilla over if you're feeling brave or put it under a grill to do the top if you're not.

Serves - well, how hungry are you? I ate half, but I'd just done a 4.75 mile run (almost entirely uphill too), on top of a 5k speed session earlier in the day, and I'm a greedy little piggy at the moment. It was very filling though.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Sunday 28 Jan 2008

I've not done very much in the way of commentary on my food this week, although I've got a couple of recipes noted down. Through the week it was mainly eating up frozen portions of stuff, and an uninspiring omelette on Tuesday evening when my parents decided they wanted to eat bacon and sausages (still, I suppose it's my fault for still having them in the freezer).

My main food discovery of the week has been pineapple. For years I've been convinced that I don't like it, but it's been recommended to me as a means of avoiding sore legs while marathon training. I can't remember the name of the chemical in it, but apparently it's in pineapple and papaya, so I decided to give pineapple juice a go as a post run rehydration/refuel/save the legs type drink, and realised I liked it. I followed that up with a tinned tropical fruit salad from Tesco with pineapple and papaya (double whammy!) and liked that too, so I guess that pineapples are go.

I've also come up with another trick for races. After the success of soup (then a second lunch) after my half marathon last weekend, I took the leftovers of last night's beetroot and squash salad to my cross country today. It really helped stave off the hunger pangs when I got in, allowing me to have a shower and cook some proper soup without diving straight into the jaffa cakes or toast. According to the nutritional info in the mag I adapted the salad from it was about 200 calories, and it was huge, far more filling than a Lucozade sport bar for a similar number of calories.

Today's soup wasn't the most inspiring I've ever made. It tasted a bit watery, I'm not sure whether that would be best dealt with by reducing the amount of water, or by using stock instead. It was edible, but nothing special.

I've now got to the meal of the week where I look at my leftovers and try to work out what to do with them. If in doubt, I tend to just roast the veg up and have it with packet nut roast. From the veg box I've got some broccoli, onions and potatoes, and from the extra stuff I bought to pad out some of the recipes I've got spinach, a little butternut squash and some parsnips. So I'm thinking nut roast with roast squash, parsnips and potatoes, and possibly some spinach and maybe even broccoli too, unless something more inspiring springs to mind during the course of the afternoon.

Nutty Parsnip Soup

2 carrots, chopped
3 parsnips, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1.5 litres water
2 tbsp reduced fat peanut butter
lemon juice

Place the veg, herbs and water in a large pan, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes until soft.

Blend with the peanut butter, season and add lemon juice, reheat and serve.

Serves 5

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Warm pumpkin, beetroot and alfafa salad

75g brown rice
3 beetroot
400g butternut squash
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1tsp cumin seeds
4 garlic cloves
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
50g alfafa sprouts

Heat the oven to 200c. Wrap the beetroot loosely with foil and roast for 45 minutes. At some point cook the rice and set it aside.

Peel the squash and scrape out the seeds. Cut it into chunks and put on a baking tray. Sprinkle with 1/2 tbsp oil and the cumin seeds, add the garlic and roast with the beetroot for 30 minutes.

Remove the veg, peel and chop the beetroot. Peel the garlic cloves. Mash one of them with the rest of the olive oil and red wine vinegar to make a dressing and season.

Put the rice, roast veg and remaining garlic cloves in a big bowl and mix together. Add the alfafa sprouts and stir in. Serve on a bed of baby spinach leaves. (The leaves from the beetroot would have been better, but mine didn't come with any).

Serves 2

Leek, pea and spinach soup

10g butter
2 leeks, chopped, washed and drained
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 clove garlic, chopped
900ml vegetable stock
275g frozen peas
100g baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon mint

Melt the butter in a pan and cook the leeks, thyme and garlic over a gentle heat until soft but not brown.

Add the stock, bring to the boil and add the peas and lettuce. Cook until the spinach has wilted down and the peas are tender.

Stir in the mint, then blend, reheat and season.

Serves 4.

Friday, 26 January 2007

Quinoa and rice with pumpkin seeds and broccoli

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
60g brown rice
60g quinoa
300ml vegetable stock
125g frozen peas
125g small broccoli florets
25g pumpkin seeds

Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onion for about 5 minutes. Add the rice, quinoa and stock , stir, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 - 25 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and the grains are tender. I found it needed more liquid as it was cooking.

Add the peas and broccoli and cook for another 3 - 4 minutes. At this point I departed from the recipe, decided it needed a bit more flavour and added some soy sauce too.

Stir in the pumpkin seeds, season and serve.

Serves 2

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Sunday 21 January 2007

OK, I'm officially a freak. My stunning idea for using up the leftover veg (or most of it) was to get up early before my half marathon and make another batch of soup so that I could put some in a flask to warm me up at the end, and make up for only having frozen 2 portions of the parsnip soup from yesterday (as I usually get through 4 - 5 portions during the week I try to make at least that number of extra portions most weeks so that I've always got a decent selection to choose from in the freezer and a bit of leeway for weekends when I can't cook.

Actually, I lie. I made part of it last night. I chopped and softened the veg and then left them in the pan with the vegetable stock overnight, ready to be simmered for 15 minutes and blended this morning to cut down preparation time this morning. But still, I'm sure that some people would call this sort of behaviour rather obsessive.

I was meant to be going out for lunch after the race (and I might still eat, the soup won't go very far to replacing all those lost calories), but I wanted something hot right at the finish to take the edge off my hunger and warm me up a bit, and soup seemed to kill the heat bird and the excess veg bird with one stone.

Root Vegetable Soup

2 carrots, sliced
3 parsnips, sliced
1/2 swede, sliced
2 small onions, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 litre vegetable stock
a little olive oil.

Fry the onions in the oil until translucent, add the other veg for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the stock and bay leaves, simmer for 15 minutes, remove the bay leaves, blend, season and serve.

(The recipe had a different balance of veg, but I just used up what I had left)

Saturday, 20 January 2007

Saturday 20 January 2007

I've had a nice quiet pre-half day in the house today. Obviously that's a great excuse to cook and eat carbs, and I couldn't turn that one down. I'm not drinking today though, getting through herbal tea and freshly squeezed orange juice instead. I might have a celebratory drink or two tomorrow, although usually it's the last thing I feel like after a half.

For lunch I made curried parsnip soup, which I ate with bread (obviously). It made less than I was hoping, and I ended up really kicking myself for not making twice the amount which would have been no harder really, and would have given me extra parsnippy goodness to put in the freezer. With some fresh orange juice mid afternoon, I was ready to spend time cooking something a bit more time consuming than normal this evening, vegetable bake. This worked pretty well, or it would have done if I'd remembered the flour stage. I served it with my freezer staple, frozen green beans. A mere 21 calories, a serving of veg, and nice to add a bit of bulk to a meal. I still had plenty of apple crumble left to eat with a dollop of greek yoghurt.

Now I just have to decide what to do with the assorted bits of veg I have left tomorrow. I might go the "Sunday Roast" route again and do some nut roast and various veggie dishes to go with it, or I might see if I can think of something more inventive to do with vegetables including a leek, half a cabbage, half a swede, parsnips, carrots, potatoes and onions. But I've eaten all the broccoli (despite the fact they gave me twice the amount of the stuff I got last week!)

Vegetable Bake

Serves 4

2 large potatoes, thinly sliced
cooking oil spray
3 small onions, chopped
1 leek, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 carrot, sliced
1 broccoli head, cut into florets
1 parsnip, sliced
1/2 swede, sliced
850ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp plain flour
1 apple, sliced
cayenne pepper
50g low fat cheddar, grated

Cook the potato slices in a saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and reserve.

Heat the oil spray and saute the onion, leek and garlic for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and cook for a further 3 - 4 minutes, stirring.

Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute*. Gradually add the stock and bring the mixture to the boil. Add the apple, herbs and cayenne pepper and season well. Remove from the heat, transfer the veg to an ovenproof dish.

Arrange the potato slices on top of the vegetable mixture and sprinkle with the cheese. Cook in an oven (190C) for 30 - 35 minutes or until the potato is golden brown and beginning to crispen.

*Note - I thought there was too much liquid and too little cheese. The cheese can be remedied, but it was only when I sat down to type this out that I noticed I'd missed out the flour stage, which might explain the liquidity.

Curried Parsnip Soup

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp butter
2 onions, chopped
3 parsnips, chipped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp plain flour
850ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp lemon juice

Melt the oil and butter in a large pan, add the onion, parsnips and garlic and cook for 5 - 7 minutes until the vegetables have softened.

Add the garam masala and chilli powder and cook for 30 seconds, stirring well. Sprinkle in the flour, mixing well and cook for a further 30 seconds.

Stir in the stock and lemon juice and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Blend until smooth, season and serve.

(The recipe says that it serves 4, but I thought it was more like 3).

Friday, 19 January 2007

Friday 19 January 2007

Oh, it's so nice to be cooking again. After my normal midweek routine of living out of stuff in the freezer, and a meal out last night, I got a new veg delivery and time to do some cooking. Yay!

I'm running a half marathon at the weekend, so I've got the freedom to do a bit of carb loading. Double yay! Anyway, tonight I wanted something to cook that didn't involve a trip to the supermarket to stock up on ingredients, so I went for a fairly straightforward stir fry. You will note, I hope, the presence of broccoli?

Then, on the basis I have a load of apples in the house, I decided to make some apple crumble to satisfy my sweet tooth through the weekend. Plus there are some nice carby bits in the topping, to help fuel my run. Honest, that's the only reason I decided to make crumble...

Apple crumble

5 apples
50g sultanas
15g honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp water


75g plain flour
25g porridge oats
50g soft brown sugar
40g butter
25g sunflower seeds
25g sesame seeds

Dice the apples and put in a pan with the rest of the base ingredients. Simmer for 5 - 10 minutes. Tip into a large ovenproof dish.

Put the flour, porridge oats and sugar in a bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and rub in until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the seeds, mix, then tip over the fruit.

Bake in the oven (180C) for 30 minutes.

Quick broccoli and cabbage Stir Fry

1 broccoli
1/2 cabbage
1 carrot
1 onion
sesame oil
5 spice paste
soy sauce
sesame seeds

Slice the broccoli, cabbage and carrot. Heat the oil, add the ginger and 5 spice paste. Add the veg, stir fry, adding soy sauce as it cooks. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Monday 15 January, Tuesday 16 January 2007

The good thing about having a big cooking session is how easy it makes it during the week. Yesterday was running club so I grabbed a frozen meal out of the freezer, and today I used up the rest of the winter veg ratatouille from Saturday. Easy.

There was a bit of adventurousness mixed in though. On Monday I was meant to be going out for lunch with a colleague. It fell through so I had to buy lunch, and summoned up the courage to try vegetarian sushi from pret. I've been meaning to try it for a while, but never quite managed to persuade myself to do it before. I liked! I wouldn't have it every day, but I'd definitely eat it again. Another thing to add to the list of things I've tried and liked that I wouldn't have touched with a bargepole before.

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Sunday 14 January 2007

Today has been a bit of a leftovers day. I did a 12.5 mile run this morning so had a few calories to replenish...

Lunch was leek and potato soup. This didn't turn out as nice as I was hoping, but made 4 pretty substantial portions and was at least very filling even without bread.

This evening I've used up the rest of the roasted veggies saved from the ratatouille recipe yesterday, which I'm having with a packet nut roast mix, some green beans and some veggie gravy. I've popped the veg back in the oven to roast a bit more and go a bit crispier as they went a bit soggy in the fridge overnight. It's nice to have a "proper" Sunday roast once in a while. It's not something I ever really did as a meat eater, but now it's just a case of preparing some veggies and gravy, with the nut roast taking about 20 minutes from the packet, it's a lot more of an appealing prospect.

I also had the remains of the tumeric spiced bulgar from Friday as a starter, but it had gone a bit hard in the fridge over the weekend.

Preparation for the week-wise I made up another batch of houmous, and I'll do myself a fruity compote again later. I haven't decided yet whether to do apricot and apple again, or something using some plums I've got.

Leek and Potato Soup

2 large (and I mean large!) leeks, sliced
3 potatoes, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced
1 pint vegetable stock
1 pint milk

Put all ingredients in a pan, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Blend, season and serve.

Serves 4.

Saturday, 13 January 2007

Saturday 13 January 2007

The broccoli is eaten! Actually, it wasn't too bad. I decided to use the tried and tested on kids approach of hiding it where I couldn't see it before moving on to the version that looks like broccoli. So the logical answer was to make one of my soup recipes for the weekend broccoli based, so that I could blend it into a green mush that looks like other things I eat.

I didn't want just broccoli though, so I hunted round for ideas. I came up with a plan to make broccoli and stilton soup, but couldn't find a recipe that did exactly what I wanted (most seemed to have a load of cream in them), so I used a recipe as inspiration and then added some beans and tweaked around with a couple of other ingredients to make it fit better into my style of eating. And the results were pretty impressive actually. This is what I ended up making, it wasn't too cheesy at all, and the beans gave it some nice substance. Dare I say it, I actually enjoyed it! In fact, it was bloody lovely!

Then this evening I moved onto winter veg ratatouille. I roasted all the veg, then saved half for other (as yet undecided) uses, poured half the passata in, then split the mixture into half and cooked one portion of pasta to stir into it rather than enough to feed a small family. I crumbled some goats cheese over the top on the basis that I had some, and it wasn't worth opening the parmesan I have in the fridge when I already seem to have a growing cheese mountain in there. I have to say, the parsnips and carrots were so unlike supermarket veg! Even the supermarket organic versions, the parsnip was just so soft and luscious, and the carrot was so bright and orangey compared to the stuff I normally eat. I'm liking this veg lark (although I am starting to wonder how I'm going to eat it all, the freezer is getting closer and closer to bursting, but if I spend a day eating stuff I've frozen it will be a day less when I can cook with the veg!

Winter Vegetable Ratatouille

This was another BBC inspired special. No real modifications to tell of.

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

2 onions, chopped
1 broccoli, chopped
1 tin beans (I used flageolet, but only because I couldn't find any cannellini in the cupboard)
20g butter
600ml vegetable stock
60g stilton

Heat the butter in a pan and brown the onion for 2 minutes. Add the broccoli for 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and beans, then boil for 20 minutes.

Blend, add water if necessary, and stir in the stilton until melted. Season and serve.

Serves 4.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Friday 12 January 2007

It's Friday, which means it's day 1 of use up the veg box! Last night I perused recipes and came up with a vague plan for the week. Then at work I had a couple of different ideas, raided the BBC website for recipes (the joy of internet at work...), and rewrote my shopping list. My aim was a recipe I had all the ingredients for tonight, then shop after eating for anything extra I need for the stuff for the rest of the weekend. The other vague plan is to use as much of the veg as I can over the weekend during my big cooking spree, because I don't cook too much during the week.

So, anyway after that ramble, last night I decided on aloo gobi for the main meal, and a use for the cauliflower that arrived in the box. I was then trying to work out something to go with it. I still had courgette left (will I never find uses for it all?!), and wanted something vaguely spicy to do with it to complement the curry. Anyway, I found a recipe for turmeric spiced bulgar wheat that again used pretty much only ingredients in my possession, so I decided it was a goer. This made two portions, I reckon the leftovers will be OK without reheating as a salad, the only question is working out when to eat them amongst all the other stuff I have planned!

So, veg box day 1 is a success, tomorrow is the great broccoli experiment so wish me luck!

Aloo gobi

Serves 4

2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds (mine were brown. Are these the same?)
1/2 onion, finely chopped (I used a whole small one)
200g potatoes, cut into 2cm cubes (is it possible to get the exact weight? using my rounding up theory I used 2 potatoes)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1.5 teaspoons garam masala
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
2cm piece of ginger (OK, I used lazy ginger)
1 teaspoon sugar

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over low heat. Add the mustard seeds, cover the pan and wait for the seeds to pop. Add the onion and potato and fry until lightly browned.

Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and garam masala to the pan and cook for a couple of seconds. Add the tomato and stir until the spices are well mixed. Add the cauliflower florets and stir until thoroughly coated. Stir in the ginger, sugar and 125ml water, increase the heat to medium and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Turmeric spiced bulgar wheat

I got inspiration from this from the BBC website.
255g/8oz bulgar wheat
425ml/½ pint boiling water
1 tbsp olive oil
½ yellow courgette, diced
1 large spring onion, chopped
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
55ml/2fl oz white wine or white wine vinegar

1. Preheat a large frying pan.
2. Place the bulgar wheat in a large bowl and pour over the boiling water.
3. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to steam for at least 5 minutes.
4. Heat the oil in the frying pan. Add the courgettes and spring onion and sauté for 2 minutes.
5. Add the spices and sauté for 2 minutes.
6. Pour in the wine and turn up the heat to reduce the liquid.
7. Remove the cling film from the bulgar and toss half the bulgar into the frying pan.
8. Reserve the remaining bulgar for the chilli-roasted tomatoes recipe.
9. Fry the bulgar for 2-3 minutes until it is soft, fluffy and heated through.
10. Remove bulgar from heat and serve with the Harissa Swordfish.

I pretty much followed the recipe except (having had the foresight to read all the way down before starting), I realised that I only needed half the bulgar, as the other half was for a difference recipe. I also used a full green courgette because that's what I had (and I almost always round up to the nearest whole veg), and a normal onion instead of a spring one (again, what I had). I used wine instead of white wine vinegar.

It worked pretty well actually, so thumbs up to the BBC again.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Thursday 11 January 2007

Today I actually went out for lunch with a friend, so didn't take much other than breakfast and an apple and apricot pot into work with me. I did, however, spend much of the day working out what to do with the few remnants of last weekend's shop in the fridge. The three main things I had were carrots, courgettes and cheese, but I knew I could think of something...

In the end, I plumped for the courgettes and cheese, in a made up in my head pasta dish that was an attempt to replicate something I ate in GC. It wasn't bad, actually, although I'm sure I can manage some tweaking if I try it again.

As it turned out, I didn't need to limit myself to what was in the fridge at all. I got home and I had a lovely full veggie box waiting for me behind the door. But I couldn't face working out something else to cook with the new veg, so I just went with the original plan.

I picked up some strawberries on the way home from work, so I'll be making some orange and strawberry juice later (possibly also with papaya).

I also picked up a single serving christmas pudding and some 9p brandy sauce. Naughty naughty...

Courgette and goats cheese pasta

Here's a little quickie I made up earlier to use up some stuff that had been festering in the fridge.

1 courgette
2 tomatoes
30g goats cheese
some olive oil
some red wine vinegar
100g pasta

I sliced the courgette and tomatoes while the water was boiling for the pasta.

I put the pasta in to cook (10 minutes) and then fried the courgette and tomatoes in the olive oil for just a bit until the tomato juice started to run out and get a bit juicy. I added some red wine vinegar to keep it nice and juicy, then took it off the heat and stirred in the goats cheese and some dried herbs until it melted and went nice and creamy.

Then when the pasta was cooked I drained it and stirred that in too, ground some black pepper over the top and bob's your uncle. Not the most exotic recipe ever, but a decently cheesy and vegg-y quick post work meal.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Wednesday 10 January 2007

Today was a day of reheating rather than cooking, and I'm off out for lunch tomorrow so there wasn't even any preparation of stuff for tomorrow (which was quite good considering the length of my post work run). The new blog grinds quickly to a halt...

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Tuesday 9 January 2007

Today started in similar fashion to yesterday, beetroot, apricots, lemon and ginger tea, porridge, espresso and an apple. Today's soup lucky dip was pasta, bean and vegetable soup from a batch I cooked up at the weekend. I found this soup a bit uninspiring to be honest, although I think it was because the stock I used wasn't great. I've not got to the stage of cooking up my own stock (although it's something I want to try at some point) and I'm still using powders and cubes. I find some of them too salty, and some a bit tasteless. I've yet to find the perfect stock, and this soup doesn't have any liquid other than the stock, and isn't blended, so the taste of the stock is pretty important I guess.

In the afternoon I had a bit of a treat in addition to my apple and apricot compote and apple, plus more fruit tea and espresso. Last night I prepared myself a pomegranate, so I had a little tub full of seeds to snack on to keep me going. It's fiddly, but I find that I can happily sit in front of the tv in the evening and take the seeds out without it feeling like too much of a chore, and it gives me something to look forward to the next day! This pomegranate was particularly seed filled and juicy, one of the best I've had in the UK (Canarian pomegranates are usually a class above). Mind you, given the price I paid for it, it should have been! (Oh, and there was another teeny tiny treat in the form of a Galaxy bar).

This evening is a non running evening, which means more potential for food preparation. Yes, it's the middle of winter, but I'm not letting that stop me eating salads. Call it a hangover from being in Spain over Christmas and getting back into the habit of eating cold food. Courgettes were on special offer at the supermarket on Sunday, so I bought a couple without really thinking about what I'd use them in. Having flicked through a few recipe books I came across a recipe for carrot and courgette salad which I had all the ingredients for, so I decided to eat that with some spinach and cheese filo parcels from the freezer, and some mixed salad leaves. I cooked the parcels up ages ago and can't remember what recipe I used, but they crisped back up OK in the oven despite their lengthy stay in the freezer. The leftover salad will go with me to work tomorrow for a change from soup.

I also decided to try the new blender on something more challenging than fruit juice, and tried to make some houmous. Being particularly well prepared yesterday evening, I even used dried (and soaked) chickpeas rather than the canned ones. My sister has the same blender and said that she uses it for houmous, so I assumed that the attachments I had would do the job OK. I usually eat the shop bought stuff, but thought I'd experiment a bit as part of the making as much as possible from scratch new year's plan. I'd find it hard to say exactly what my recipe was, I had about three in front of me and kept on adding things, tasting it and tweaking. I think there's too much tahini in this batch, but I'll definitely try again. Once I've eaten this lot, that is. I think I've created a houmous mountain!

The houmous is mainly for lunch tomorrow, but I had to try a bit didn't I, so I grabbed some celery and dipped away. I put a bit on some ryvita too. Quality control, obviously.

Pasta, Bean and Vegetable Soup

75g green/brown lentils
15g sundried tomatoes, chopped
15ml olive oil (I used spray)
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 onion or 3-4 shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
dried crushed chillis
1.5l vegetable stock
1 small can red kidney beans
1 small can cannellini beans
1 small can chickpeas
115g wholemeal pasta

1. Cook the lentils in 475ml water. Simmer for 15 - 20 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, soak the sundried tomatoes in 175ml warm water.

2. Drain and rinse the lentils.

3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan and add the carrot, celery, onion, garlic, parsley and chillies. Cook over a low heat for 5 - 7 minutes and stir. Add the stock, the tomatoes and the water they were in.

4. Bring to the boil and add the drained beans, chickpeas and lentils. Season, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Add the pasta, bring back to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Makes 6.

Carrot and Courgette Salad

1 courgette
3 carrots
1 orange
1tbsp olive oil

Grate the carrots and courgette. Grate the rind of the orange and juice it, then mix together with the olive oil. Season, and pour over the carrots and courgette, marinate for 15 minutes.

Serves 2 - 3

Monday, 8 January 2007

Monday 8 January 2007

First day back at work after getting back from Spain, and with a whole Sunday spent in the house, and a trip to the supermarket there was no excuse for a sloppy start to the New Year. I promise that my eating isn't quite as virtuous looking as this!

Pre gym snack - 2 cooked beetroot and 6 dried apricots. I usually just have a handful of dried apricots before I leave the house, but there was some beetroot in the fridge so, what the hell, I had a couple of those too. 2 portions of fruit and veg before 6.15, yay me!

Breakfast - Porridge with berries and yoghurt. I have this every day, and never get sick of it. I mix up some porridge with some frozen berries (usually mixed berries, raspberries or blueberries), and water, then whack it in the microwave. When it's cooked I stir a pot of yoghurt into it. Another portion of fruit and veg under my belt. I had some Twinings lemon & ginger tea with it. I'm not convinced about this stuff, but they say that hot lemon wakes your digestion up, and it's drinkable so I'll persevere with it at least until the end of the box.

Mid-morning - some espresso (at about 10) and an apple (at about 11). Apples just don't fill me, but I carry on bringing them to work anyway. Maybe they'd be better eaten with some protein?

Lunch - spicy parsnip soup from the freezer. I got the recipe from this from the BBC Good Food Magazine "Vegetarian Christmas" special, made some up before christmas and froze the rest. It freezes pretty well, and was nice and warming. I went out for a walk then had the second half of my lunch, Apple and Apricot Compote with low fat greek yoghurt. I cooked the compote up yesterday evening and split it into four little pots and I'll be having it most lunchtimes this week.

Mid-afternoon - raspberry and echinacea tea. I've only recently started drinking these fruit teas and I'm still not sure that they taste of much, but I'm perservering hoping to find one I actually like. I picked a box of these up at lunchtime. Verdict - drinkable, but not the holy grail. Another apple (Pink Lady) still doesn't fill me. There were also a couple of squares of Cocoa Farm merlot chocolate and some teeny toffees (only 2 or 3). Pre-run energy...

Evening - Pumpkin and Parsnip Cassoulet - again a recipe from "Vegetarian Christmas", but with some modifications. This is the recipe as I actually cooked it. I loved this the first time round and froze the rest (it made tons), and I think the recipe could be adapted for all sorts of vegetables.

After my run I had some freshly squeezed orange, papaya and berry juice (the juice of 4 oranges, half a papaya and whatever frozen fruit I have in the freezer whizzed with a stick blender).

I also did some prep for tomorrow - I put some chickpeas on to soak for a houmous making experiment tomorrow and I prepared a pomegranate to take into work tomorrow so I don't need to fiddle around getting the seeds out at work.

Finally, the big question of the day - do I start getting an organic veg box delivered? Even if it's not actually better for me , I like the idea of eating more locally and seasonally, and of being forced into trying things because they appear on my doorstep. But will I just end up with mounds of potatoes that I never get to the end of? I'll ponder a little more.

Pumpkin and Parsnip Cassoulet

2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
500g pumpkin, deseeded, peeled and diced (I used carnival squash because that's what Tesco had, and a whole one, which was more than 500g but I threw it all in)
500g parsnips, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 x 425g cans mixed beans, drained
780g can tomatoes (have to admit I've never seen a can that big so I used two normal size ones)
225ml red wine
300ml vegetable stock
2 large sprigs fresh thyme (I used dried)
1 tbsp sugar
75g fresh breadcrumbs
25g parmesan, grated

1. Heat oven to 180c. Heat the oil in a large pan or wok, addonions, then fry for 5 minutes until golden. Add pumpkin, parsnips and garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes. Stir in beans, tomatoes, wine, stock, thyme, sugar and plenty of seasoning. Bring to the boil, then transfer to a large casserole dish, pressing the beans and vegetables beneath the liquid (I actually did everything in the same pan, I've got a casseroley thing that's also OK on the hob).

2. Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and grated cheese. Cover, then cook for 40 minutes. Uncover, stir well (not sure how you do this without disturbing the topping?) and cook for a further 40 minutes.

Nutrition info - serves 6, per serving 368 cal, 16g protein, 53g carbs, 9g fat, 2g saturated fat, 14g fibre, 3g sugar, 2.16g salt.

Apple and Apricot Compote

This is dead simple - basically put some chopped apples (I use 4), dried apricots (125g, soaked for a couple of hours), water (the stuff the apricots were soaked in), honey (1tbsp ish) and cinnamon (to taste) in a pan and cook for 10 minutes.

How I Cook/Eat

First up, I'm vegetarian. However, I'm not strict with my veggie-ness. I'm aware that some of the things I eat, such as Muller Vitality yoghurts, Worcester Sauce and certain cheeses aren't veggie. However, my reasons for going veggie were to increase the range of vegetables I eat and stop my reliance on meat, and because I feel better when vegetables, pulses and grains are the bedrock of my diet, not because I have a moral objection to eating meat. So don't shout at me if I use real parmesan, please. There are vegetarian alternatives available, I'm sure, but I'm not fussy enough to use them. Sorry.

In terms of when I eat, the bedrock of my diet is the bag of food I take to work with me. Planning what I eat and taking it with me not only helps me avoid snacking or bad impulse food choices, but it really works for me as a way of using up leftovers.

I tend to go to the gym before work, so I have 2 breakfasts. Firstly I have a handful of something (usually dried fruit) on the way out of the house, then I have a proper breakfast when I get to work. Lunch is often (although not invariably) leftover soup from one of my big weekend soup cooking sessions, which is divided into plastic containers and bunged into the freezer. I don't label anything, so tend to play "soup lucky dip" where I pick something at random and then get to guess what it is when I come to eat it. Still, it works with my lifestyle and it's dead easy to grab something from the freezer on the way to the gym then let it defrost through the morning.

2 evenings a week I usually go to running club straight from work. Because I'm not a late evening eater, this means I eat before I go, usually at about 5 to give me some time to digest before running at 7. Again, this is usually a pot of something I've cooked up in a big batch and frozen, and again it's usually lucky dip. (I have one concession to not labelling - main meals and soups go in different size pots so I can at least tell what meal it's intended for). I then eat again after my run, but more of a "dessert" or "snack" rather than a full meal.

And I snack. Constantly. Fruit, mainly, although there are some other treats in there too. Particularly just after Christmas when I'm still working through all the goodies...

The weekends are my "big cooks". I'll try to cook up loads of stuff that I can freeze to keep me going through the week when I have to take stuff to work or want something quicker when I get in. I do cook midweek too, but not to the same extent.


I've realised recently that cooking is becoming more and more important to me. One comment I read once really resonated with me. It queried why people put so much effort into chosing the right computer, or tv, or clothes, but shovel food into their mouths indiscriminately even though that will affect, and become part of, their body, and affect their lives far more than that extra bit of surround sound or function that you never use. I started trying to eat more healthily when I was losing weight. Although I put a lot of that down to exercise as well as to nutrition, there's no doubting that what I eat is a lot better than it used to be, and cooking is becoming a passion. I can't resist a new cookbook, and I'm getting an increasingly big library of them that I love to dip into. So, I thought, why don't I blog it all?

This isn't intended to be an exhaustive food diary listing calories and grams of fat and such like. It also may not take account of, or only mention in passing, some of the meals I eat out, or *ahem* treats. But I've had a lot of comments while I've been losing weight that what I eat looks, sounds or smells fantastic, so I wanted to share some of what I eat. I also want to use this as a resource for myself, with comments about recipes I enjoyed, any suggestions or comments from anyone else about modifications to the recipes etc. It's a record of how I cook, and shop for, and prepare a healthy vegetarian* diet for one, and how I fit it into my lifestyle.

I welcome comments, about the recipes and with food ideas, but also if there are any new things that you think I should try, or general comments and questions about my diet. I've learned a lot while losing over 100lb, but I'm always open to new ideas.

*See the "How I cook/eat" section for more information on this.