Garlicky Avocado Mayo with a Kick

img_0896This is one of those quick write-down-now-before-I-forget-what-I-did posts, because, simple as this recipe is, it’s bound to slip through the colander that is my brain.

This makes a lovely tangy mayonaisse-like sauce that you can slather on pretty much anything. The kick from the Sriracha (or any chilli sauce) is optional. You may want to add some pepper if you leave out the heat.


1 ripe avocado
½ tsp Dijon mustard
generous pinch of salt
1 tsp of Sriracha sauce, optional
2 tbsp garlic oil


– Put all ingredients, except the oil, in the bowl of a food processor.
– Blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary, until well mixed.
– Leave the machine running while you drizzle in the oil.


Quick Black Bean Chilli Wraps (with Cashew Sour Cream)

img_0862Seeing as ‘bonenprutje’ (Dutch for ‘things flung in a pan, including some beans’) wasn’t going to cut it as a title, I’ve gone with what you see above. And, to be honest, this is a slightly more polished version of something I’ve been cooking for years when I didn’t really know what to eat, but knew it wasn’t takeaway food. img_0855

Originally I made this as a quick chilli that conveniently used up left-over veg and ends of tins. But because I feel tortilla wraps are a bit more festive than a bowl of bean stew served with bread, I made it a bit less saucy, so it could be used as a filling. If you do want it ‘soupier’, be my guest and add more water. If you do, you could up the spices a bit but I don’t really think it’s necessary.img_0842

This recipe is very much a blueprint, so use whatever you want; sub the black beans for chickpeas or black-eyed beans, add sweetcorn, baby corn, frozen peas, etc. Serve with (vegan) sour cream and some lettuce leaves, like I did here, or just scatter over some chopped fresh coriander. You can find the recipe for the cashew sour cream on the Oh She Glows website.img_0835

One last thing: as always, I sauté the mushrooms separately (but in the same pan I later cook the sauce in), because I feel they turn out so much better that way. If you don’t feel like it, skip this step and just add them to the pan with the chopped pepper.



250 g mushrooms, sliced
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 onion, chopped finely
1 red pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp cinnamon
1 x 400 ml tin tomatoes, blitzed in a processor/blender
1 x 400 g tin black beans, drained and rinsed
tortilla wraps img_0848


– In some oil, sautée the mushrooms on a high heat until cooked but not mushy. Put on a plate and set aside.
– In the same pan, heat some more oil and add the chilli flakes.
– Add the onion and sautée for a few minutes, then stir in the chopped pepper and cook for a few more minutes.
– Turn the heat down to low and add the garlic, tomato purée and spices. Cook for a minute, constantly stirring.
– Add the tomatoes, beans and mushrooms and bring to a simmer
– Let simmer, lid on, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
– Serve stuffed in a warm tortilla wrap.

Savoury Chickpea Flour Pancakes

Shortest post ever, as I am really supposed to be working and work is mad at the moment. I didn’t even mean to blog about these beauties, but they are too good not to share. Plus, I want to get the recipe on paper (well, a screen) while it’s still fresh in my mind.
I’ve been looking for breakfast ideas without egg and this is an absolute winner. Savoury pancakes, egg-less omelettes, Indian-spiced vegan fritters, whatever way you look at them, these are the perfect start to any day. The quantities below make breakfast (or a snack, or dinner) for one person.

50 g chickpea flour (aka gram flour)
60/70 ml water
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 clove garlic, grated
½ tsp grated ginger
generous pinch of salt
dash of lemon juice
three cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

– Put chickpea flour in a bowl and whisk in a bit of the water to form a thick paste.
– Whisk in the rest of the water and let the batter rest, covered,  for 30 minutes.
– After the batter’s rested, add all the other ingredients except the tomatoes and coriander and whisk to mix.
– Stir in the tomatoes and coriander.
– Heat oil in a large pan (or a small one and cook the pancakes individually).
– Using a tablespoon, make three pancake-like heaps in the pan.
– Fry until mostly dry on top.
– Flip over and cook for another two minutes. (I tend to do a last flip to crisp up both sides)
– Serve with whatever you like.

Asian-Themed Mushroom and Brussels Sprouts Risotto

IMG_0222If necessity is the mother of all invention, abundance is definitely its father, especially in the kitchen. In this case, abundance came in the shape of a bag of Brussels sprouts that needed using up. In my enthusiasm (I always go a bit mad when sprouts are back in season) I overstocked, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it forces you to be creative. So I came up with this autumny/wintery Asian-style risotto.

I say ‘Asian-style’ because a vegan risotto with a list of ingredients that includes sprouts, sake and coriander is by definition a multi-continental, hybrid dish. Which, by the way, goes for a lot of vegetarian and vegan cooking of the non-potato-veg-and-fake-meat variety. And that’s just one of the things that, for me, makes it such a great way of cooking and eating.

Okay, I’ll end the plug there. 😉


I’ve used garlic and chilli oil here, instead of fresh. One, because it’s easy and lazy, and two because grated garlic tends to burn/stick in my Le Creuset pan unless I use more oil than I want to. The ginger, if chopped not too finely, can stand the heat a bit better. You could of course use a fresh chilli, chilli flakes (or even chilli sauce) instead of the oil. IMG_0215

I only have two rules when it comes to making risotto: make sure your stock is piping hot, so you don’t bring down the temperature of the pan as you add it, and start tasting your rice after about 15 minutes to see if it’s done. As usual, I sauté the mushrooms first. It’s not a rule, but I do feel it really adds to the flavour and texture of the finished dish.


olive oil
250 g chestnut mushrooms, cut into quarters
generous splash of garlic oil
smaller splash of chilli oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp freshly chopped ginger (very fine strips)
125 g risotto rice
a nice slosh of sake
225 g of Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
1 litre hot mushroom stock
handful of chopped coriander


  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the mushrooms on a medium-high heat. You want to get some caramelisation going, so don’t put them on too low. Set aside once cooked but not mushy.
  • In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat garlic and chilli oil.
  • When hot, add the shallots and ginger. Fry until softened.
  • Add the risotto rice and fry, stirring, for a few minutes.
  • Pour in the sake and let evaporate while stirring.
  • Throw in the sliced sprouts and add your first ladleful of stock.
  • Stir until the pan is almost dry, add stock, stir until almost… etc, etc.
  • After about fifteen minutes, add the mushrooms to the pan and keep stirring.
  • Cook, tasting every now and again, until the rice is done to your liking.
  • Sprinkle over the coriander.

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

IMG_4270As much as I love the spinach and mushrooms in this lasagne, the red pepper sauce is the star of this dish. It’s my take on a sauce in Mildreds, The Cookbook, where it’s served with penne and boiled vegetables. Even if you don’t fancy cooking or eating lasagne right now, do give the sauce a try. I was instantly addicted, and a batch of this (divided into 4 portions) is now a staple in my freezer. IMG_4268 To make the sauce lighter (and vegan), I use soy cream instead of the double cream they use at Mildreds. I’ve also adapted the recipe to fit whole tins and jars. It could just be me, but one roasted pepper or one tomato left in a tin usually ends up mouldy in my fridge. IMG_4263 A note on pasta sheets: I’ve used shop-bought ‘fresh’ ones (eerily long shelf life, though) that don’t require pre-cooking. In my experience, whether or not you have to pre-boil lasagne sheets depends on the brand you use, and on the cooking time. I tend not to boil them first, even with dried ones, unless they are very thick.

Ingredients IMG_4261 For the sauce  – 1 onion, chopped – 1 celery stick, chopped – 1 carrot, peeled and grated (the one I used was 165 g, unpeeled weight) – 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely – 400 g tin of whole tomatoes – 350 g roast peppers (I used a 465 g jar with brine, undrained weight), roughly chopped – 1 tsp (coconut flower) sugar – 1 tsp coarse sea salt – freshly ground black pepper – 250 ml soy cream You’ll probably have about 1/4 of the sauce left after building your lasagne. Fridge or freeze for later use. It will be like having money in the bank, believe me. For the lasagne – 500 g fresh spinach leaves (I always chop fresh spinach so it doesn’t clump together so much ) – 400 mushrooms, sliced not too thinly – lasagne sheets PreparationIMG_4253 – Preheat oven to 200°C – Start by making the sauce. In a large pan, fry onion, celery and carrot in oil until softened. – Add the garlic and fry for one more minute. – Add all the other sauce ingredients, except the cream. – Bring to a boil and then simmer, stirring regularly, for 20 minutes (lid off) – Stir in the cream and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. – Blitz the sauce with a (stick) blender and set aside. – Wash your pan and wilt the spinach in it. In a sieve, press out the excess moisture with the back of a spoon (or just squeeze with your hands). Set aside. – In the same pan, fry the mushrooms in oil (I use chilli oil here) until softened but not cooked through. Drain in a sieve. -Build your lasagne in a rectangular oven dish (the bottom of the one I used measures 16×25 cm). Start with a layer of sauce, followed by  1/4 of the spinach and mushrooms and lasagne sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all your ingredients, ending with a layer of pasta sheets topped with sauce. – Cover the dish with aluminium foil and bake for 20 minutes. – Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes. – Take the dish out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting into the lasagne.

Mushroom Ragout with Madeira

IMG_4137Ragout is one of the constants in my life. I remember eating it as a child, as a treat on lunch breaks from school, with my mum or dad. It was tinned ragout then, but it still felt luxurious. My mum also made ragout from scratch for dinner, usually a big pot at birthdays or for any large group of guests. And we had ragout in vol-au-vent cases as a Christmas or Easter dinner starter.IMG_4172

Later, as a student living in houses with health-hazard kitchens, a tin of ragout was the perfect end-of-the-month meal, served with rice or bread and a salad. Okay, I’m probably tampering with historical fact by saying I had salad with it. I mean, why waste money on empty vitamins when you can spend it on perfectly good beer?IMG_4140

These days, ragout is a dish that reminds me of all those different times in my life, and (most importantly) a dish that is simply delicious.
There are two things I particularly love about ragout: 1) it can easily be made vegetarian and 2) you can eat it whenever you feel like it; it can be lunch, a snack, a starter (vol-au-vents), or dinner. I also wouldn’t turn it down if someone cooked me it for breakfast (and, yes, that is a hint). It’s also perfect food for a crowd. Just make a big vat the day before a party and heat it up on the day.

This is my adaptation of an Allerhande recipe (a complementary food magazine published by Albert Heijn, a chain of Dutch supermarkets). I say ‘adaptation’ but, apart from the soy cream and some other minor changes, I’ve followed it pretty much to the letter. I’ve tried quite a few recipes for ragout but this is my favourite, hands down.

50 g butter (2 x 25 g)
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped or grated
500 g mushrooms (any type you like), chopped not too finely
40 g plain flour
250 ml warm mushroom stock (from a cube)
2 tbsp soy cream
2 tbsp madeira (or to taste, I like a boozy kick)
salt and pepper

– In a heavy-based pan, fry the onion and garlic in 25 g of butter until softened.
– Add the mushrooms and fry, stirring, for about 5 minutes. They should be soft but still have some bite left.
– Put the contents of the pan, including any juices, in a bowl.IMG_4145
– In the same pan, heat the rest of the butter.
– Add the flour and mix well. Cook the flour mixture for a few minutes, stirring every now and again.
– Add a splash of mushroom stock, stir (or whisk) until absorbed, add another splash, stir, etc, until you’ve used up all the stock. You should now have a creamy, thick sauce with no lumps.
– Stir in cream, madeira, mushrooms, and season the ragout with pepper and salt. Serve.

Gado-Gado with my Satay Sauce

IMG_4033Gado-gado is an Indonesian dish made with mixed boiled or steamed vegetables, fried tofu, and boiled eggs, served with a peanut (‘satay’) sauce. I was never a fan of the dish until I tried Ottolenghi’s version of it, from his Plenty book. It taught me that it’s the satay sauce that makes the gado-gado. And Ottolenghi’s satay sauce is very, very good. But it’s also a lot of work, comes with a long list of ingredients, and has a grainy texture I don’t really like, due to the peanuts and stalk of lemon grass he uses.

So I wanted to create a satay sauce that was easier to make but at least at delicious. And I think I’ve succeeded! My recipe is a bit of a Frankenstein monster; part Ottolenghi, part River Cottage Meat Book (ironically), and part my own invention. Stitch it all together, bit of lightning and there you have it.IMG_4020

I’ve left out the eggs in this gado-gado to make it vegan, but traditionally they are part of the dish. Add them or leave them out, use them instead of the tofu, play around with the vegetables (although I think the potatoes are key), as long you smother it all in the luscious peanut sauce. I often make this to use up vegetables that are lurking in the fridge. The satay sauce is good over everything, and having a tub of it in the freezer is like having money in the bank.IMG_4027

Serves 2 generouslyIMG_4025

For the satay sauce
– 1 onion, finely chopped
– 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
– 2 green bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped (or any chilli you like, seeds in or out)
– 2 tbsp ketjap manis ( a sweet, Indonesian soy sauce)
– 1 tbsp regular soy sauce
– 1 heaped tsp tamarind paste (ready-made, from a jar)
– 125 g smooth peanut butter
– 1 tsp lemongrass powder
– 50 ml coconut milk
– 2 tbsp lime juice
– water

For the gado-gado
– 4 smallish potatoes (350-400 g), cut into quarters
– 200 g green beans, topped and tailed (cleaned weight)
– 150 g cabbage leaf, cut into long, fine strips
– 180 g tofu bits, fried (I use mildly spiced ones from the supermarket)
– cassava crackers

– In a small saucepan, fry the onion, garlic and chilli in a splash of oil until soft.
– Add all the other ingredients, except the water, and bring to the boil.
– Carefully stir in water until you have a pourable/saucy consistency, but don’t go overboard(!).
– Turn off the heat, cover, and put aside.
– Put the potatoes in a medium-sized pot, cover generously with water, add some salt and bring to the boil.
– Boil for 10 minutes, then add green beans.
– Boil for 4 minutes, add cabbage and boil for 1 more minute or until the cabbage is tender but still has some bite.
– Meanwhile, fry tofu bits in a bit of oil and reheat satay sauce, if needed.
– Drain the vegetables and spread out on a large serving dish. Scatter over the tofu bits, pour over satay sauce and serve with cassava crackers.

The Ultimate Veggie Burger Quest: Kaasgehakt

IMG_3595Kaasgehakt. Having lived in the oldest city of the Netherlands, Nijmegen, for me the name is inextricably linked with one place and one place only: Restaurant De Plak. I say restaurant, but it’s more of an ‘eetcafé’, a pub. I don’t mean that disparagingly in any way; it’s a nice, bustling place that serves good, affordable food. Although I doubt kaasgehakt was invented in De Plak, it achieved local fame there and has been on the menu for ages as one of their vegetarian dishes.IMG_3599 Now, what is kaasgehakt? As I’m including it in the veggie burger Quest, you may have guessed that it is a meatless patty. You’d be right, but it’s more than that: I think it’s the closest thing to a meatball you could make without, well, meat. It’s incredibly savoury, it has a crispy outside and a soft core, and you can adapt it to your own liking by adding anything from fresh or dried herbs to onion, chilli, even oats.

I had spotted versions of the recipe online before (the ‘original’ recipe is, you guessed it, secret) but wasn’t really tempted to try it until I bought the Vegatopia Kookboek, where it’s part of the ‘Woensdag gehaktdag’ chapter. Vegatopia is the oldest and biggest vegetarian website in the Netherlands, which features recipes, reviews of cookbooks and restaurants and includes a forum. I follow them mostly through Facebook and am very happy I do, and not only because it brought me this kaasgehakt. If you read Dutch, get yourself the book, you’ll be glad you did.IMG_3586 The recipe for these gorgeous fried cheese balls can also be found on the Vegatopia website and I’ve ‘combined’ the two recipes, in the sense that I use the quantities in the book but shape the patties like they do on the website, making two large ones. Although kaasgehakt has been praised for its ‘extreme greasiness’, it doesn’t really feel like stodgy or overly indulgent food. Having said that, I definitely wouldn’t turn one of these babies down if I had a hangover. 😉 I suspect the kaasgehakt at De Plak is deep-fried but these are pan-fried in a thin layer of oil, making them a bit healthier, but let’s face it: health food it ain’t. IMG_3592 One tip: if you can, fit all your patties in one pan and fry them at the same time. The breadcrumbs go quite dark in the oil and might burn if they’re in there too long (if you fried a second batch, in other words).

serves 2IMG_3593 Ingredients – 1 slice of stale bread (I use whole-wheat), ripped up roughly. (If the bread is fresh, toast it until dried out.) – 100 g grated cheese (I use Gouda) – 1 clove of garlic, peeled – 10 g chives, chopped (the original recipe calls for parsley but I’m not a fan) – 1 egg – ½ tsp paprika – (freshly ground) pepper, to taste – 3 tbsp breadcrumbs – 2-3 tbsp oil Preparation – Blitz all the ingredients, except the breadcrumbs, in a food processor until you have a sticky, coarse mixture. – Shape into 2 patties. – Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on a plate, cover patties in them. – Fry the kaasgehakt in the oil until crispy and golden, turning every now and again. – Turn down the heat and fry gently for another 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn the breadcrumb coating.