Kitchen fun lately

Happy Monday to all long-weekenders and working-week-starters alike!


Last week I mainly worked really hard at reducing the amount of thinking I’ve been doing. I submitted the coursework for my Dietary Assessment module last Sunday evening, with a bit of an anti-climax as the finished product didn’t come anywhere close to reflecting the amount of effort and thought that I put into it, so it was hard to totally unwind with any sort of satisfaction. Rather, the tension in my neck and the buzzing in my head ebbed away slowly last week, and a relatively warm and gorgeously sunny day off on Friday left me feeling more relaxed than I can remember being this year. And if a long bank holiday weekend isn’t the time to embrace that, then I don’t know what is…

Turns out that my go-to ways to stop thinking are: train relatively hard; do all the housework; and cook. Only one of those is really any fun to read about, I’m guessing, so let’s get straight into how dusty skirting boards can get when you’re not paying attention.

Kidding. I’m obviously here to talk about food.


Let’s start with turnips, because that is what was giving me the evil eye every time I opened the fridge, but then I promise I’ll talk about chocolate. I consider myself pretty a unfussy eater: as long as there is no animal involved in the production of my meal, I will eat whatever plants you give me. But I just couldn’t get excited enough about turnip to make that instead of the sweet potato, white potato, broccoli, aubergine, or any of the other vegetables that arrived in our vegetable delivery (we use Farmaround), so the turnip got wrinklier and wrinklier and pushed ever further back in the fridge. I even went so far as to peel and chop it, ready for roasting, before the faintly cabbagey smell put me off and I put the prepared turnip cubes in a plastic container and pushed it to the back of the fridge again.

I even Googled “how to make turnip taste good” but that didn’t bring up anything novel. I have roasted turnip many times, thank you, and it still tastes distinctly of turnip.

So I can’t tell you how I came to the idea of a curried turnip loaf, but that doesn’t matter because the important thing is it was delicious. I may never make turnip any other way again.

I rarely use recipes for anything, so I can’t give you one for this, but this is the gist:

  • turnip, cubed and lightly sautéed in a pan with oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes (I hope you’re not throwing that stuff out!)
  • turnip transferred to baking tray (or loaf pan to save washing up), covered in vegetable stock, and left in a warm (180ºC ish) oven while you get on with more fun kitchen tasks like making vegan creme eggs – stirring occasionally is recommended
  • softened turnip transferred to food processor with remainder of an open can of chickpeas and the majority of the aquafaba, a bit of cumin, pinch of turmeric, as much curry-flavoured salt as seems reasonable, and some of the white pepper that you never use, and blended until scraping the processor down becomes too tedious
  • a sprinkle of oats mixed with the textured turnip-chickpea mash to absorb excess moisture, and some frozen green peas for colour
  • everything smashed firmly into the previously used loaf tin and returned to the oven for as long as you have to spare, or until the top dries out slightly


To be honest, I had planned for many other add-ins, or at least a mango chutney glaze, but I liked the mixture so much straight out of the food processor that I decided to leave well enough alone for once (though this does taste great with mango chutney, or any chutney, I would imagine). Grated potato would probably work well to firm the mixture up, and some cashews would undoubtedly be a nice pairing. Parsnip and/or lentils would be great too – in fact, I keep referring to this as my “parsnip-lentil loaf” when it contains neither parsnips nor lentils. Either way, let’s not avoid cooking with turnip forever.

Right, I promised chocolate!


Everyone seems to be making vegan creme eggs these days, and on the eve of my seventh veganniversary I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to add another treat to my repertoire.

Ignoring the first attempt in which I mistakenly thought I could somehow substitute granulated sugar for icing sugar in the fondant recipe, I based mine off this one, but added way less icing sugar because I just got a bit scared of adding any more (though I’m not entirely sure, as I didn’t measure because… I’m not sure why). I also didn’t bother with the yellow portion of the fondant, because we all know it’s not a real egg. I also didn’t roll and dip my fondant because it didn’t firm up enough – presumably because I didn’t add enough icing sugar – so I used our previously never used chocolate mould and made about half a dozen batches of teeny little creme egg cubes over the course of two days. And a couple of freeform splats where I got too optimistic about the firmness of the fondant.


I mentioned a failed first attempt involving granulated sugar (in my defence, I did attempt to process it into powdered sugar first, but didn’t have much success and decided to plough on anyway). It’s important because that failed start turned into one of the best cakes I think I have ever made (not an overstatement; I just don’t bake very much and I certainly don’t bake very well).

I wound up with a big bowl of creamed vegan buttery spread (1/4 cup), golden syrup (1/2 cup), and granulated sugar (about 3 cups), and wasn’t about to throw it all out. It sounded like the beginning of a cake, as opposed to cookies or muffins, and having just rearranged the cupboards (which seems to be an essential part of my baking process) I was confronted with a ridiculous amount of rosewater for people who don’t consume any rose-flavoured treats. Pistachios were an obvious pairing, and we happened to have a huge bag of them that an Iranian client had gifted us. I had recently read Amey’s annual NoRouz post and I guess it all clicked into place.

Drawing very loosely on Audrey at Unconventional Baker’s recipe, I added rosewater, vanilla extract, the juice of a clementine, some mixed spice, salt, baking soda, and plain flour. I also added a little extra rosewater, and a generous pinch of saffron, but I had no cardamom. I shelled pistachios until my thumb blistered and then ruptured, and I decided that was enough pistachios. It took about half an hour, or a generous 1/2 cup, in case you’re wondering – so if you have any recipes calling for more than that amount of pistachio, I would recommend purchasing the shelled variety (or getting somebody to help).


Since my version was so different from Audrey’s, the actual baking was a bit of an anxious time, but it worked! It tastes elegant and not overpowered by rosewater, with a light crumb and just the right amount of pistachio. This would taste excellent with cardamom-scented whipped cream, and maybe a coffee on the side.

Earlier in the week, I had some carrots to clear out, so I made Dana at Minimalist Baker’s carrot apple muffins. I used chia eggs instead of flax eggs, grated apple instead of apple sauce, and I replaced the nuts with sultanas to be more Ben-friendly. These turned out pretty great!


In non-cake-related news (but very much in clearing-out-the-cupboard-related news) I also made seitan for the first time! I’ve had an packet of vital wheat gluten sitting around for years, and I’ve been meaning to make the sausage from Vegan Brunch ever since the last time I made it, but I kept just not doing it. I had just made a batch of Zsu’s savoury broth mix from Everyday Vegan Eats so it seemed like perfect timing.

I loosely followed the Post Punk Kitchen instructions because I trust Isa Chandra Moskowitz on all things seitan, but with excess broth because I decided halfway through the process that I would only make a half batch (i.e. when I had actually found the vital wheat gluten and realised I only had enough for a half batch), with apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice, and without the minced garlic because I had just noticed we were out of garlic. Miraculously (after after a LOT of squeezing excess fluid out) it worked out perfectly! Admittedly, the two pieces I ended up with look a lot like brains – hence no photos – but when you slice them they are firm and solid and were absolutely perfect in yesterday’s stir-fry.

Last but not least… I had some leftover melted chocolate so I took the liberty of covering Ben’s chocolate chip cookies with it. Oh my goodness.


That is all. Have a happy week!

Vegan MoFo 2015: Day 24 – What [well known person] would eat if they were vegan

Today’s prompt is a strange one; it instantly stood out as one of the most fun ones, but I just couldn’t seem to think of a well-known person whose diet I could veganise.

Vegan MoFo 2015

As I was talking through the prompts with/at Ben, as I mentioned this one I said “Dunno what I’ll do with this one… I vaguely thought of Arnie…”. Ben immediately exclaimed “I was gonna say Arnie!” – and thus, unwittingly, the idea for this prompt was born. Continue reading

My story for Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2015

In the spirit of the “fresh start” I am giving this blog, I feel it is the right time to share a different kind of post with you all today.

National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) week is coming to a close in the USA, and Eating Disorders Awareness Week is ongoing in the UK. In honour of NEDA week, Gena shared her personal experience with an eating disorder over on Choosing Raw, and it resonated so deeply with me that I was inspired to do the same.

b-eat Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Even as I type these words I am questioning whether I will actually publish the final post. Am I qualified to write about this? Isn’t it a bit melodramatic and self-important? Continue reading

Tu me racontes des salades!

Excuse my French – literally. But I’m actually not just showing off. The expression “raconter des salades” – literally, “telling salads” – means telling lies, in the same way the English might tell “porky pies”. In this 19th century expression, the French allude to the necessity of combining numerous ingredients to tell a successful lie; some humour, some imaginary excuses, a little truth and a little untruth, all seasoned with a convincing tone. I love a good expression, and I believe there can be much to love about a good salad.

One thing I always say when people panic about eating out is that, if the worst comes to the worst, I can always have bread and salad. Or chips and salad. Basically, salad is something of a last resort to me. Continue reading

Superfood or superfad?

What is a superfood?

Well, there’s no official definition according to the NHS Choices website. Even the definition found on the Oxford Dictionaries site only describes them as foods rich in nutrients “considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”.

If you’ll allow me to let you in on a little secret, I often feel a little guilty for not including more “superfoods” in my diet. I don’t use spirulina or wheatgrass, I don’t make açaí bowls or smoothies (though I do eat my Riolife açaí bars because they are delicious and shut my sweet tooth up for a few hours, for only 75kcal), I don’t drink matcha and I don’t buy raw cacao products or maca powder. Continue reading

Strawberry porridge forever

Almost exactly 11 months ago, I wrote a post entitled Delicious Seasonal Confusion. I’m glad I did, as I have been sitting here feeling all hard done by in the midst of “the worst summer ever” (weather-wise). I’m not sure if it’s reassuring or not to know that summer was as un-summery last year… But at least now there’s one less complaint I can use.

So, yes – it’s June and I’m getting back into porridge. And writing about it, because really when a late spring day boasts highs of 16-18ºC, there are more shameful things than curling up in a dressing gown with a bowl of porridge. Such as the time of day at which I tend to have my breakfast when I’m at home, a piece of information I will keep to myself lest you turn away in disgust. Continue reading