Couscous salad is a quick and simple lunch, perfect for home or a lunchbox. You can vary the ingredients based on what you have in, and it’s very useful for using up leftovers or ingredient odds and ends – that last stub of cucumber or half a carrot. Whilst it can be packed with lots of fresh salad vegetables, the couscous base is filling, so the goodness of this lunch is not undone by a circa 3pm carb-crash that can only be addressed with half a pack of ginger-nuts.Continue reading
Birthday Cake Cookies
This is a recipe for sugar cookies topped with ultra-processed store-bought frosting. They taste like birthday cake. This post is for tired parents who are out of ideas, and for people who need some extra sugar. Also for people who want to eat birthday cake without having to eat an entire birthday cake – cookie dough freezes really well! Make some now, make some later. Always have birthday cake.
A Food Blog in Lockdown
When we started this food blog in June 2020, we could not imagine that less than a year later we would be looking at the panicked eyes and forced cheerfulness of the lady in this 1940s propaganda poster and feeling such total empathy. We love food, and want to prepare healthy and enjoyable meals for our families. But planning, shopping, and making meals was always a daily grind, and the Covid-19 epidemic has suddenly made those tasks significantly harder. It is no longer possible to simply ‘pop to the shops’ for a forgotten ingredient or to restock on milk or bread. Every trip to a supermarket brings with it the risk of taking home a deadly disease, and there is no guarantee the ingredient you want will even be there. We are writing this post to acknowledge this new reality, and reflect on some of the things we feel we need to do to get through the next unspecified number of weeks. Our hope is to continue to deliver posts and recipes that will be useful to the home cook. We welcome contributions and comments, so please let us know what you are making now and how you are coping.Continue reading
Cooking without Sulphites
I am no stranger to adjusting my cooking to avoid certain allergens. Milk protein, chickpeas, sesame, peas and nuts can all cause problems for various members of my family, potentially turning a nice meal into a panicked whirlwind of swelling, hives, wheezing and syringes of anti-histamine. However, when I needed to cook a meal suitable for someone with sulphite intolerance, I found I was completely unprepared. It seems there are sulphites in practically everything!Continue reading
The Best Vegan Trifle That Wasn’t
This was supposed to be a recipe for a vegan trifle. It was going to be easy, fast, and extremely delicious. It was going to be in honour of my mother, whose birthday would be this month, had she not passed away in 2007. I was going to use Alpro custard, coconut whipped cream, and some kind of shop-bought vegan cake. Unfortunately, this kind of cake appears not to exist in our area, or if it does, it was so hard to find that I lost the will to continue searching for it. Continue reading
Jacket Potato with Creamy Greens
It is National Student Money week, and so I find myself looking back on my student life and what constituted a ‘meal’ in those days. The thing about student money is that you usually have less than none of it, and there are many things that you want, or need, to spend this non-existent money on. An almost universal part of the student experience is therefore trying to feed yourself as cheaply as possible.Continue reading
Towards a Beef-less Stew
It’s hard to read all the reports about greenhouse gases and the cow industry and not feel a pang of guilt every time you sit down to eat a burger. Beef stew had been in regular rotation in our house because it was so easy and cheap. Usually I would use a tough cut, like a shin, and stick that in the slow cooker all day, or put it on at midday on high when I was working from home. I would cook it until the meat would fall apart and the disc of bone would be left nestling somewhere in the centre of the stew, bare and pale.
Sausage & Mangetout Stir-fry
In honour of Chinese New Year, this week’s recipe is a simple stir-fry dish, suitable for week-night dinners. I’ve got it down to about 20 minutes by being fairly careless with the chopping and pretty generous with the heat.Continue reading
Veg Box Soup Mix Soup
Soup mix. Why are the directions on your packet so useless? What are we supposed to do with you? Just, like, boil you in some water? And then what? What are you supposed to taste like? Are you really just barley and pulses and water? Can that really be it? Continue reading
Simple Vegan Bolognese
My meticulous and academically-approved approach to research – looking on Wikipedia – led me to learn that the first documented recipe for Bolognese sauce was in 1891, in an Italian cookbook by Pellegrino Artusi. Though not uncommon at that time, I think it is notable that Pellegrino Artusi had twelve siblings. If there is one thing that Bolognese is excellent for, it is serving lots of people. And not just any people. A lot of households find that it is something all ages enjoy, even the notoriously fickle and hard to please under-fives. If all you need to do is serve the dish in such a way that sauce and pasta never touch, you are still winning my friend.Continue reading
Inclusive Sides: The Five-a-Day Plate
This isn’t so much a recipe as an approach to family dining. We’re always hearing about the benefits of a plant-based diet, how it’s good for us and good for the planet. But if you’re coming from a place where your diet hasn’t always centred around these things, it can be hard to know where to start. Likewise, if you’ve hit a wall in terms of meal prep inspiration or if you want to try Veganuary but you’re feeling overwhelmed, or if you’re just tired of cooking but don’t want to feel like you’ve given up completely, this is for you.
Toad in the Hole
Toad in the Hole is a traditional British recipe which, like a lot of traditional British recipes, has an abstract yet charming name – spotted dick, shepherd’s pie, queen of puddings… all sound hearty and wholesome, yet it is impossible to guess from the name alone what they are actually made from. And just like there is (thankfully) no actual dick in spotted dick, toads are not, and have never been, used to make ‘Toad in the Hole’. The toads are sausages and the ‘hole’ is Yorkshire pudding, an egg-based batter similar to savoury pancake or crepe batter.Continue reading
Ingredient Spotlight: Nutritional Yeast
Hello! I am nutritional yeast. Also known as ‘Nooch.’ But please don’t call me that. You might know me as the funky flakey product with which vegans have traditionally anointed their popcorn. I have also known to lurk within an ersatz nacho cheese. My odour is reminiscent of marmite. Or maybe you don’t know me? Don’t be afraid. Continue reading
Such is the prevalence of the bake sale as a means to raise money for all manner of causes, there comes a time when you will almost certainly be asked to make something for one. That’s fine if you enjoy baking and have all the right kit. But if you don’t, it’s a major hassle. A swift yet cheery “Oh, but of course, I can help with the buying and eating!” is useful for dodging a couple of requests. But there usually comes a time when you feel you better just make something.Continue reading
PB & J Tofu: Or, How to Make Tofu Taste Good
Chilli and peanut is my jam. I love to put it on some noodles, all creamy like. I really and truly love Ruby Tandoh’s ‘Ghanian Groundnut and Chicken Stew’ from Flavour, however it’s VERY spicy and my child will not eat it. And then there’s gado-gado… Peanut and chilli simply is. the most. delicious. combination. Continue reading
James’s Beans on Toast
One of the first cooking ‘techniques’ I was introduced to as a student was making cheese and beans on toast using a toastie-maker. At first, I was apprehensive. I couldn’t believe that the beans would get hot enough in the machine to cook through. However, as anyone who has used one of these machines will attest, I needn’t have worried. A toastie-maker heats the filling with all the subtlety of nuclear fusion. Bite too quickly into your toasted creation, and your hunger will dissolve, along with the lining of your mouth.
Democratic Oat Cookies
For some reason, when I think about what I want for my child in life, it always involves baking cookies. It’s possible that I’ve internalised the association of motherhood with cookie making, or else I just this have Pavlovian reaction to cookies whereby if cookies are present, something is going right in the world of your home. My sister was a day student at a boarding school (long story, which I’ll save for my memoir) where the girls were given fresh cookies every day at 10am. By contrast, I went to a Catholic school, so the closest we got to cookies was communion wafers and the cigarettes we smoked behind the music caravan. Not good. Continue reading
Any household that has attempted to feed very young children will be familiar with the phase in which the unsalted, boiled (or steamed), and mushable vegetable dominates. At first this abundance of fresh and untainted healthiness appears positive all round. “Look at me, I am ‘snacking’ on this leftover bit of carrot.”. An irrational fear that 0.0001mg of salt may somehow reach the baby’s delicate internal organs and cause widespread and catastrophic shriveling, can inspire preparing all of the family’s meals without salt. “Well, salt isn’t good for you after all, and I’m sure once we’ve got used to it, we won’t even miss all that salt…”.
Um, well. For me, this recipe is something of an antidote to the above phase. I am grateful to my extended family for serving it to me, and making broccoli an appealing choice again. The broccoli is salty – yessss! It retains bite and texture – double yessss! I still prepare broccoli the bland and healthy way for children, but this is a pleasingly straightforward way to make an adult version at the same time.Continue reading
Batch Cook: Sloppy Joe Sauce
Sloppy Joe associations: I once went to a Sloppy Joe themed party. The desperation intrinsic to such an event led to some really poor decision making on my part. Never again. For one thing, Sloppy Joe’s are kind of an awful party food. You can’t eat them while you’re standing around. You can’t hold a pint in one hand and a Sloppy Joe in the other without becoming totally coated in damp clumps of protein. You’d have to have them deconstructed in little cups with tiny spoons, or maybe dolloped onto a blini, or ladled into a bag of tortilla chips. I mean, seriously why not just eat the whole mess out of a bag of tortilla chips like a scout at a jamboree? Hindsight, 20:20. Continue reading
Sichuanese ‘Send the Rice Down’
In the interests of leading a full and meaningful life, I am keen to commit as little time as possible cutting vegetables into tiny cubes. This tedious activity is occasionally necessary to make a “hidden vegetable” dish of some kind. Motivated by concern and guilt that, in the last 48 hours, a child (or children) you are responsible for may only have eaten yoghurt and crackers, you ensure vegetables enter the digestive tract by cutting them into such small pieces they go unnoticed. Helpfully, to achieve the same without all that chopping, and in the case of celery, the equally fussy “de-stringing” bit, you can buy “Soffrito mix” from Waitrose (fresh or frozen) or frozen “Vegetable base mix” from Morrison’s, Asda, or Sainsbury’s which contain pre-cubed onion, carrot, and celery. These are great for making all kinds of pasta sauces or soups, saving prep time and sanity.Continue reading