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 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.
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.
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 →
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.
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.
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 →
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.