Fennel bhajis

Back in the dawn of time (well probably only 3 years ago) the onion bhaji was a go to happy snack for me, however between gluten intolerance and onions giving me bad acid reflux they are now firmly off the menu. I was lamenting this with Ellie the other day, and we both came up with the same solution, Fennel! Finely sliced it looks and behaves a lot like onion, and the wonderful anise flavours make this a great alternative, a dish of its own,  rather than a substitute.

yummy, crispy , fennel bhajis

I lightly steamed the fennel to mellow the flavour slightly and it gives a better texture for the bhaji. I’m also using a deep fryer, these would work in a regular skillet with a good covering of oil too.


Makes between 4 and 6 

1 bulb of fennel (about 200g) 

5 tbsp gram flour

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp dried coriander

Half teaspoon cumin

Good pinch of salt and pepper

Heat the deep fryer to 160 degrees centigrade

Remove the green parts of the fennel bulb ( I used them in soup) and finely slice the bulb into thin strips.

Place in a microwave bowl with 2 tablespoons water, cover and microwave for 90 seconds. Don’t drain the water!

Add the spices, salt and pepper to the fennel and steaming water, mix, then add the gram flour.

This will create a sticky batter that will just hold the fennel together.

When the oil is up to temperature carefully place desert spoon sized dollops into the oil.

When they float up to the surface, carefully turn over with a slotted spoon.

Cook until the bhaji are well browned and crispy, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil
By A.


Herb broth with rice noodles, tofu and vegetables

Whenever I make noodle soup, the default flavours I go for are Chinese or Vietnamese. And while both are delicious, the herbs I have growing at the moment don’t quite lend themselves to those flavour profiles, I have a lot of sage…
So, it was time to experiment!
I’ve used a standard vegetable stock as the base, flavoured with a little caraway, and sage, basil and mint for the herbs.
For the vegetables I’ve used tomato, radish, courgette and chilli, which was a great combination, and very pretty too!
Little cubes of silken tofu add protein as well as texture, and a squeeze of lemon completes the dish.
It was really good, ever so satisfying and a new combination of flavours for my noodle soups. A sort of euro pho if you will!


Herb broth with rice noodles, tofu and vegetables

makes 1 large bowlful

500 ml light vegetable stock (I used marigold made to half strength)
a pinch of ground caraway seed, (you really don’t need a lot)
2 tbsp fresh basil, small leaves left whole and the rest roughly chopped 1 tbsp fresh mint, as above
3 fresh large sage leaves, shredded
2 small tomatoes, quartered. I used yellow ones
4 radishes, sliced
1/2 a courgette, diced
green or red chilli to taste, thinly sliced. I used 1 red chilli
a squeeze of lemon juice, about a tsp
a pinch of black pepper
175 g silken tofu, diced
45 g rice noodles

Bring the stock to the boil and add the caraway and courgette. Simmer for 3 minutes until the courgette is starting to soften.
Add the noodles, chilli and sage and simmer for a further 2 minutes. Next, the radishes, tomatoes and tofu. Cook for a further minute, you just want to warm them through.
Carefully stir in the herbs (so as not to break the tofu up), and season with lemon juice and black pepper.

By E.


Sweet potato and chickpea burgers

I’m stuck in for the day waiting for some work to get done on the house and I’m on call, which is generally a fun time to try and get some bits of cooking done in the quiet spells. I’ve already made up a batch of our pitta dough, so just need something to stuff in them. These are a really simple and tasty recipe, and go beautifully with a soy yoghurt and mint sauce…

I’ve made these as mini burgers to fit in the pittas, but they’ll work fine as full size!


Makes 12 mini burgers

250g peeled sweet potato

1 400g tin of chickpeas (240g drained weight)

50g walnuts

25g pumpkin seeds

2 tbsps gram flour

Large pinch of salt

Steam or boil the sweet potato until soft. I did mine in a container in the microwave with a spot of water for 6 minutes

Roughly chop the walnuts and pumpkin seeds

Drain then mash the sweet potatoes and chickpeas together.

Stir through all the other ingredients

Heat a little oil in a frying pan

Place tablespoon sized dollops of the mixture into the pan

Cook until well browned on the underside ( about 5 minutes)

Then flip over and cook for 2 or 3 minutes more until that side has browned too


Lunch! burgers in the pitta with soy yoghurt and mint sauce

By A


Ackee with butterbeans, vegetables and dill

Ackee again! To be honest I was going to do a fried rice type of thing and stir the ackee through at the end, but as it turned out I had run out of rice… the horror!
So instead I used butterbeans and ooh it came out well, there’s something about the richness of the ackee with the creaminess of the butterbeans and the crunchy vegetables that’s ever so satisfying.
You could vary the veg, but if you can, do use the dill, the flavour is gorgeous with the ackee and beans.
As well as being delicious, it’s a super quick dish, and is good hot or cold!


Ackee with butterbeans, vegetables and dill

makes 2 nice big servings

1 540 g tin of ackee (340 g drained weight)
1 400 g tin of butterbeans (240 g drained weight)
1 large carrot, finely diced
100 g sugarsnaps, sliced in half
1 large courgette, diced
1 tsp oil
2 tbsp sherry vinegar (or apple cider, or balsamic)
2 tbsp tamari
a pinch of pepper, black or white
3 tbsp fresh chopped dill

It’s dead easy this one! Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan, and stir fry the courgette and carrot for about 3 minutes until starting to soften. Add the sugarsnaps and butterbeans along with the vinegar, tamari and pepper and stir fry for a further 3 minutes.
Fold in the ackee, and continue to cook, mixing often until the ackee is heated through. Another 3 minutes should do it!
Stir the dill through at the end.

By E.


Fennel and artichoke salad with almonds and herbs

It’s been very hot here at the seaside today, which is great for the local economy, but not so much for me! I’m a total heat wuss…
So, I definitely didn’t want to have the oven or hobs on to make tomorrow’s work lunch for Alex and I!
We’ve blogged recipes using canned artichokes before, I really do like them as a salad ingredient, they’re very different from fresh artichokes but awfully tasty all the same.
Here I’ve put them with fennel steamed in the microwave (avoiding using the cooker!), almonds and herbs, with some sugar snap peas and baby corn for sweetness.
The dressing is predominantly sherry vinegar, which I haven’t used for ages, I’d forgotten how lovely it is!
For herbs, I’ve used some micro herbs that we picked up at the great greengrocers on Topping street in Blackpool, chilli cress which tastes rather like watercress, and pak choi shoots which have a mild flavour but are very pretty.
Also, dill to complement the fennel, I do find aniseed flavours feel very cooling, so are absolutely perfect for the hot weather!


Fennel and artichoke salad with almonds and herbs

serves 2 as a meal with a bit of brown rice or quinoa, or 4 as a starter

for the salad
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1 can of artichoke hearts in brine, each one quartered (240 g drained weight)
40 g salted almonds
150 g sugar snap peas and baby corn, sliced. Substitute these for other vegetables if you like, fresh peas would be lovely, or even cooked beetroot.
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
4 tbsp micro herbs or other soft herbs. Parsley would be nice, and a bit of basil.
for the dressing
3 tbsp sherry vinegar. Or use apple cider or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil
1 tbsp liquid from steaming the fennel

Steam the fennel until just tender. I did mine with a little bit of water in a vented container in the microwave. It took two bursts of 1 minute 30 seconds. Remember to save the steaming liquid for the dressing.
Cool the fennel and liquid and then make the dressing. Whisk the vinegar, oil and fennel liquid together with the salt until combined.
To assemble the salad simply toss all of the ingredients together gently with the dressing. Serve with brown rice or quinoa.

By E.


Lemon polenta cupcakes with glazed fruit topping

Both Alex and I really enjoy making cupcakes, but are not at all fond of the type topped with mountains of super sweet buttercream!
So here we’ve gone for a light soy yoghurt custard, somewhat like a creme pattisiere, and a pretty arrangement of glazed fruit.
They’re delicious, the lemon polenta cake goes beautifully with the custard and fruit, and they’re not too sweet.
And they make such a cute display all lined up together!


The lemon polenta cupcakes looking ever so pretty (we made a double batch which is why there’s more than 12!)

makes 12

for the lemon polenta cakes
130 g rice flour
50 g polenta
18 g tapioca flour
150 g caster sugar
150 g vegan margarine
135 g plain soy yogurt
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (scant)
1/2 tsp lemon essence
a pinch of salt
for the yoghurt custard
280 ml soy milk
1 tbsp custard powder
1 tbsp sugar
60 ml plain unsweetened soy yoghurt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 to 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
for the fruit
12 nice slices of strawberry (about 4 berries)
3 slices of kiwi, each cut into 4 quarters (about half a kiwi fruit)
12 slices of peach, peel the fruit first (about one peach)
1 sachet of fruit jelly glaze, made up to the packet instructions (we used Greens orange flavour which is vegan)

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c and prepare a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cases.
For the cakes, mix all of the ingredients together in a food processor until well combined. Divide the mixture between the 12 cases, and then bake for 25 – 35 minutes, until the top of the cakes springs back from a gentle push. Cool the cakes thoroughly.
To make the custard, mix the custard powder and sugar with a little of the soy milk to form a paste. Heat the remaining soy milk in a saucepan until almost boiling, and then pour slowly into the custard paste, stirring all the time. Pour the lot back into the pan and heat slowly, still stirring, until it thickens.
Beat in the soy yoghurt and vanilla. Cool.
When the custard is completely cool whisk in the xanthan gun 1/4 tsp at a time until it holds a peak when the whisk is removed.
Make up the jelly glaze while the custard is cooling.
For each cupcake, pipe (or spoon) about 1 1/2 tbsp of the yoghurt custard onto the top if the cake, arrange the fruit slices on top (1 piece of each fruit per cake), and then brush a thin layer of glaze over the top. Allow to set for 30 minutes.


Lemon polenta cupcake with glazed fruit topping

By A. and E.


Asparagus and mushrooms roasted with sweet chilli and orange

Asparagus and chilli is a lovely combination, particularly with a little sweetness. So here I’ve used sweet chilli sauce and orange, along with juicy button mushrooms to make a lovely side dish or addition to a salad.
Actually I ate the asparagus and mushrooms on a sandwich… and it was great!
I used a home made sweet chilli sauce which had the orange juice and zest added during the cooking. But as I did not take note of either the quantity of sugar, or water, I used (terrible of me I know!) I’ve given amounts here for using a ready made sauce.


Asparagus and mushrooms roasted with sweet chilli and orange

for 1 serving

50 g asparagus, woody ends removed
50 g button mushrooms
1 heaped tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp orange juice
a grating of orange zest, just a pinch
a small pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Either take a roasting tray that fits your vegetables pretty tightly, or take piece of kitchen foil roughly 20 cm x 20 cm and turn over the edges to make a little inner tray.
This ensures that the sweet chilli sauce doesn’t burn. Mix together the sweet chilli sauce, orange juice and salt.
Put the vegetables in the tray and pour over the sauce, followed by the orange zest. Swoosh them around a bit to make sure they’re coated. Roast for 15 minutes until the asparagus is tender and the mushrooms are cooked through.

By E.