Salsify, Lychees and Tofu with Japanese flavours

I’m not sure where the idea that salsify tastes like oysters came from, maybe there was some sort of salsify marketing board back in the mists of time that thought it was a good idea… Don’t let it put you off! Salsify has a lovely, creamy flavour, obviously root vegetable, but much more subtle than say a swede (rutabaga) or a carrot. It does look rather like a long black carrot though! It’s always sold covered in soil as the pale flesh of the root discolours within a minute or so of being exposed to the air. So either work quickly to get it cooking, or drop it into acidulated water as you prepare each root (lemon juice or vinegar work well).
The ingredients we’ve paired it with may not seem like an obvious match but goodness me they all went together well! I’d always eaten lychees raw before, but cooking them altered the flavour, and they tasted like a mix of mandarin, grapefruit and grapes, really delicious!
If you can’t get salsify, baby turnips or mooli would work very well.


Ready to eat

serves 2

4 salsify roots, peeled and chopped into chunks. If you aren’t roasting it straight away keep it in acidulated water as it discolours quickly.
200 g tofu, pressed, dried on kitchen paper and cut into rough cubes
14 lychees, peeled, stone removed and torn into pieces
2 tbsp sesame seeds
150 g baby sweetcorn, halved
150 g broccoli, cut into small florets
5 x 5 cm piece of nori, torn into small pieces
6 cm fresh ginger, finely grated
2 1/2 tbsp tamari
3 tbsp mirin
150 ml water
1 tbsp cornflour, slaked
2 tbsp oil

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Put 1 and 1/2 tbsp of the oil in a large roasting tin and toss the salsify and tofu to coat. Roast for 20 minutes. Add the lychees and sesame seeds to the tin, mix carefully and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Heat the remaining 1/2 tbsp of oil in a wok and stir fry the baby sweetcorn, broccoli and nori for 4 minutes.
Add the ginger and cook for a further few seconds still stirring all the time. Next tip in the mirin, letting it sizzle wildly for a few seconds, followed by the tamari and water. Mix it all together and bubble for 1 minute. Add the cornflour and stir well. The sauce will thicken, cook for 1 more minute. Just before serving toss the roasted salsify, tofu and lychees through the sauce.
Serve with rice or noodles.

By A. and E.


Almond lemon vegan cheese

Alex has been experimenting with vegan cheeses over the last couple of months, using different nuts, flavourings and thickeners. And this almond lemon cheese is an absolute winner!
It’s tangy and satisfying, and makes a great sandwich. You can eat it straight away, but if you keep it a couple of days the texture firms up and it can be grated. So good on a pizza!


Almond lemon vegan cheese

100 g almonds (skin on), blanched for 5 minutes and drained
100 ml cold water
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp lactic acid or 1/2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp agar
50 ml water
30 g tapioca flour

Put the blanched almonds, 100 ml cold water, lemon juice, salt and lactic acid in a blender (the higher powered the better!), and blend until all of the ingredients have amalgamated and formed an almost smooth paste.
Fold in the tapioca flour, making sure it’s all incorporated.
Heat the 50 ml of water in a small saucepan on a low heat and whisk in the agar. Keep whisking until it forms a thick gel. Turn the heat up a little.
Tip the almond mixture into the agar and beat like fury until it thickens, goes glossy, and comes away from the sides of the pan.
Tip into a suitable mold, we use a tupperware type of pot, 12 x 7 x 6 cm. Cool as quickly as you can, it will firm up.
It can be eaten straight away, it’s delicious, but the flavour develops and the texture improves if you store it.
To do this, turn the cheese out of the mold, wrap in kitchen paper and store in an airtight tub. Change the paper every day, and it will last at least 4 days.

By A. and E.


Sweet potato and kale traybake

There’s a monthly farmers market a 30 minute walk from here, which to my shame I tend to forget about until the week after its been on…
But last Saturday Alex and I trotted along to see what was on offer. We sorta knew that the vegetable stall would be the only one selling anything vegan, and that was the case. But it’s always satisfying to buy vegetables from the farmers instead of the supermarket!
Being February, there’s not a lot of vegetables in season, but there was gorgeous fresh kale which I’ve used for this recipe, and lovely purple sprouting broccoli which I cooked and dressed with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar to go with it. Delicious!


Sweet potato and kale traybake

makes 3 servings

420 g potato, cut into 2-3 cm chunks
320 g sweet potato, cut into 2-3 cm chunks
100 g kale, chopped
1 apple, cored and sliced (I used a russet)
250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 400 g tin of butterbeans, drained
1 tbsp tomato puree
50 ml hot water
1/2 tsp caraway seed
1 tsp dried chervil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp oil for drizzling
salt and pepper
3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees c. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the potato. Simmer for 5 minutes. Next drop in the sweet potato and kale and simmer for a further 4 minutes. By now, the potatoes should be softened a little. Drain the vegetables well.
Put the apple, tomatoes, butterbeans, tomato puree, caraway, chervil and thyme in a large baking dish and add the hot water (I used a bit of the potato cooking water). Season with salt and pepper and give it all a good mix. Tip the drained vegetables on top and drizzle with oil.
Bake for 1 hr to 1 hr 10 minutes until the potatoes are starting to brown and are tender, and the apples and tomatoes have cooked down and formed a sauce. After about 20 minutes of baking, tuck any bits of kale under the other veg to stop them burning. They should have gone a bit crisp and have that lovely roast kale flavour.
Sprinkle with the dill just before serving.

By E.


Vegan, gluten free filled doughnuts

Doughnuts, wahey!
These are such a treat, a lovely golden crispy outer with a soft interior with ever such a slight chew. Filled with vegan custard! Or jam, jam is great too.
We’re very pleased with the dough, Alex has been experimenting more with homemade gluten free flour mixes recently and these doughnuts are one of the results.
You can even make a doughnut plait as you can see from the photograph!
They’re best eaten straight away (but really, how could you not!). But the dough could be kept covered and refrigerated for a couple of hours before frying.


Vegan, gluten free filled doughnuts

makes 10

for the doughnuts
110 g gram flour
250 g rice flour (split into 130 g and 120 g), plus extra for dusting the board
40 g tapioca flour
60 g potato flour
6 g xanthan gum
4 g baking powder.
7 g instant yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
300 ml tepid water
around 750 ml sunflower oil for frying
100 g icing sugar for dusting
for the custard
200 ml soy milk
1 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
3 drops of vanilla extract
a tiny pinch of salt
8 tsp raspberry jam, optional

Mix the gram flour, tapioca flour, potato flour, 130 g of the rice flour, the xanthan gum and baking powder in a large bowl. Mix together with a balloon whisk to make sure the gram flour doesn’t clump. Put the salt at one side of the bowl, and then the yeast and sugar at the opposite side. Tip the tepid water onto the yeast and sugar and then mix everything together well, it’s easiest to do this using your hands.
Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes. After this time the dough should be well risen. Tip it out onto a board floured with rice flour. It will be very, very sticky. A little at a time, work the extra 120 g of rice flour into the dough. You may not need it all, stop when the dough is malleable enough to be rolled out.
Roll out to 2 cm thick. Take a 6 cm round cutter and cut 10 rounds out. Heat the oil in a large heavy based pan until a tiny bit of dough sizzles and rises to the top. Drop the rounds into the oil, holding a slotted spoon underneath them for a few seconds. This allows the doughnut to form a skin and stops it sticking to the bottom of the pan. As they cook the doughnuts will float on the top of the oil and puff up nicely. When the underside is a deep golden colour, flip them over and cook the other side. About 4 minutes per side. If the oil bubbles a lot or the doughnuts are browning too quickly, turn the heat down.
Have the icing sugar ready in a shallow bowl and as each doughnut is done, roll it in the sugar.
Make the custard while the dough is rising. Heat the soy milk, sugar, vanilla and salt in a saucepan. When it is just below simmering point, add the cornflour and mix furiously. It will thicken and become glossy. Cook for 2 minutes stirring all the time.
Cool, and then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a narrow 0.5 cm round tip. If using the jam, pop that in a small piping bag too.
To fill the doughnuts, make a hole big enough for the piping tip with the handle of a teaspoon. Push it in and waggle it around a bit to make a cavity for the custard or jam. Push the tip into the doughnut and pipe in the filling. This works best when they are warm.
Repeat for all the doughnuts.
Eat, happily!

By A. and E.


Carrot and cauliflower pancakes

It’s pancake day! I fancied something a little different to the usual (although very yummy) lemon and syrup covered crepe style pancake. These golden pancakes are slightly sweet, very moist and still nicely boingy! I’m eating mine with beetroot and pea shoots for a lovely, colourful, meal!


Such cheery colours

They are super simple to make and quick to cook too!

Makes 6


1 medium carrot

Half a head of cauliflower

50g gram flour

Half a teaspoon baking powder

Half a teaspoon ground coriander

Quarter teaspoon ground ginger

About 100ml  cold water

Salt and pepper to taste

Using a food processor, blitz the carrot and the cauliflower into rice sized pieces.

In a large bowl whisk together all the other ingredients to make a thick batter, you may need to adjust the amount of water depending on how absorbent your flour is!

Stir the carrot and cauliflower into the batter.

Heat a frying pan sprayed with oil.

Add tablespoon sized dollops of the mixture into the pan.

Turn over when the underside is golden and crisp and cook through.

By A


Toasted quinoa salad with balsamic blueberry dressing

To be honest, this was going to be a quinoa and broccoli salad, but my broccoli had done that thing where it’s fine one day, and stinky and yellowed the next…
So red pepper and beetroot for me! And a very tasty combination it is.
I don’t use quinoa much, which is silly given how nutritious it is, so this was the first time I’d tried toasting it. It really does make a difference to the flavour, adding a subtle nuttiness which goes very nicely with the almonds in the salad.
The dressing is lovely, fruity from the blueberries and with that slight creamy flavour that they have, with sweet-sharp balsamic and salty savoury tamari. You don’t need much, but it really makes a difference to the salad!


Toasted quinoa salad with blueberry balsamic dressing

makes 4 servings

for the salad
160 g quinoa, washed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried marjoram
600 ml hot water
1 red pepper, cut into 0.5 to 1 cm dice
2 cooked beetroot, cut into thin wedges
60 g roasted salted almonds
3 tbsp soft herbs to garnish. I used garlic chives, but mint or basil would be lovely too.
for the dressing
50 g blueberries (frozen or fresh)
2 tbsp cold water
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp tamari

Tip the rinsed quinoa into a deep frying pan on a medium heat. Cook, stirring most of the time until the quinoa is dry, has turned golden, and smells toasty. Add the hot water (it will bubble furiously!), marjoram and bay leaf. Simmer for around 25 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed. If there is a bit of liquid left when the quinoa is done, turn the heat up and stir continuously until it has evaporated.
Remove the bay leaf, cool the quinoa and mix the red pepper, beetroot and almonds through.
While the quinoa is cooking make the dressing. Put the blueberries and water in a small saucepan on a low heat and cook until the blueberries have softened and are starting to pop and release their juice. Mine were frozen, and this took about 5 minutes.
Add the balsamic vinegar and tamari and cook gently for a further 4 minutes. Blend the dressing, I used an immersion blender which was a bit tricky due to the small quantity, but worked in the end with a bit of saucepan tipping! Pour into a little pot.
Serve the salad sprinkled with herbs, with the dressing on the side to add as you please.

By E.


Cheesey vegan nacho sauce, beans and salsa

These recipes started off as a fun meal to share with Alex after a particularly hard couple of days at work. But the sauces came out so well we thought we should share 🙂
The salsa is tangy, the beans savoury and comforting and the cheesey sauce is properly gloopy and tasty!


All ready to yum!


serves 2 to 4


for the salsa
150 g tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
a pinch of salt
1 red chilli, chopped (optional)
for the bean puree
1 400 g tin of butterbeans, and the liquid
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp liquid smoke (or 1/2 tsp smoked paprika)
salt and pepper
for the cheesey sauce
1 carrot, grated
250 ml soy milk
a tiny pinch of ground celery seed
1/8 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp cornflour, slaked with a little water
1 tbsp tapioca flour, slaked with a little water
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp cider vinegar
salt and white pepper
to serve
1 avocado, sliced or chopped
as many tortilla chips as you like!

For the bean puree, tip the butterbeans with their liquid into a small saucepan, add the oregano and liquid smoke and simmer for 10 minutes until the beans have started to break down. Season with salt and pepper and blend until smooth.
Next the cheesey sauce. Put the soy milk, carrots, celery seed and thyme in a small saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes, until the carrot is soft. Stir often, or the soy milk can overflow!
Blend the carrot mixture until smooth. Put back on the heat and add the cornflour, and then tapioca, stirring all the time. It will thicken and go stretchy.
Beat in the nutritional yeast, vinegar, and salt and pepper.
To make the salsa, simply combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl! Serve the sauces with avocado and tortilla chips.

By A. and E.