Sticky Miso Aubergine

Sticky Miso Aubergine (Eggplant)

I’m just back from a little holiday in Edinburgh during which I took a bit of a digital detox (I did have 1 post scheduled for while I was away) which I’m sure was good for me, but I am missing blogging and blog-reading after only 5 days away from my computer! I’m beginning to catch up with my reader and thought I’d give you a recipe to keep you going before I fill you in on my time away.

A recent survey on The Kitchn showed aubergine (eggplant) to be the least favourite summer vegetable, something I’m not hugely surprised about, but a shame all the same. I’ve had some pretty bad aubergine dishes in the past until I learnt how to cook it to show it at its best. Roasting is usually the way to go for me: simply seasoned with salt and pepper and drizzled in olive oil, the spongy chunks sweeten and soften. I love aubergine in tagines and curries too, where, after a long simmer it seems to soak up whatever tasty sauce you’re using.

Sticky Miso Aubergine (Eggplant)

I wanted to try a different flavour profile this time, and travelled to the Far East for this dish. This is a cross-between Mabo Nasu, a Chinese aubergine stir-fry, and Nasu Dengaku, grilled miso-glazed aubergine. Both sounded good to me, so I combined them! It’s a quick recipe to make as all stir-fries are, and the sweet, salty miso sauce coating it all will, I’m sure, have even vegetable-haters hoovering up a whole plateful.

The seasonings I’ve used are ones I always have in my kitchen, but perhaps they’re not typical in everyone’s pantries… I’ve mentioned the company Clearspring on the blog before and their fantastic line of Japanese seasonings are what I’ve used here. I’m planning a full review of their products but for now will highly recommend these ones if you need to stock up on Asian supplies.

Note: Whichever brand of Mirin you use, something to be aware of is that most nowadays contain either sugar or high fructose corn syrup, and preservatives, so try to find one where the rice is naturally fermented and with no additives.

Sticky Miso Aubergine (Eggplant)

Sticky Miso Aubergine

We ate this as a main dish, just alongside some brown rice and stir-fried Chinese greens but it would be a welcome addition to any Asian meal.

1 Medium aubergine, diced large
1t Sesame oil (or another high-heat oil )
1/2 Onion, diced
1/2 Green pepper, diced large
1 t Sesame oil
1 Clove of garlic, minced
1” Piece of ginger, minced

1/2T Red miso
3/4T Agave nectar
1 1/2T Rice vinegar
1 1/2T Mirin
1 1/2T Tamari
1/2T Arrowroot
Pinch of chili flakes

Toasted sesame seeds to garnish.

Whisk together sauce ingredients  in a small bowl. Set aside.

Warm 1t sesame oil in a pan or wok over med-high heat, stir-fry the aubergine chunks in the oil for approx 10 minutes until fairly soft. Remove from pan to a bowl.

Heat another teaspoon of sesame oil in the pan and stir-fry the onion and pepper until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook, be careful not to let them burn though.

Return aubergine to the pan and pour over the sauce. It should thicken up almost immediately and create a sticky glaze. Continue to stir until all coated and hot.

Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds to serve.

Are you one of the aubergine-haters out there? Perhaps I can change your mind with this dish!
If you’re a fan, how do you like to prepare it?

Book Review: Let Them Eat Vegan

Hempanana Smoothie- Let Them Eat Vegan

I’d been doing so well on resisting buying any more cookbooks. I seem to have amassed a rather large number over the recent years since I’ve developed an interest in cooking, and as much as I love to have them, I don’t use them nearly enough, tending to get my inspiration from other blogs or restaurant menus.

All the same, I’ve been following Dreena’s blog, Plant-Powered Kitchen, where she’s been sharing recipes from her book “Let Them Eat Vegan”,  and reading write-ups elsewhere, and knew I couldn’t resist. I don’t feel one bit guilty about this purchase either, I only wish I’d got it sooner (it was published over a year ago in May 2012) as I know it’s going to be a book I come back to time and time again. There are a whopping 200 recipes to work through as well!

This is actually my first of Dreena’s books, although she has written 3 previously- The Everyday Vegan, Vive le Vegan! and Eat Drink & Be Vegan, all of which have been big hits. If you don’t know Dreena’s recipes they’re creative and satisfying, vegan of course, and based on wholefoods (no processed ingredients).

I’ve only made a few recipes so far but was keen to share my thoughts and encourage anyone who doesn’t have the book to get it! Even if you’re not vegan or even vegetarian this is a good book for you as there’s tonnes of advice and tips on how to get started on a vegan diet and a good range of easy, everyday recipes and more complicated, time-consuming ones.

Mediterranean Bean Burgers (Let Them Eat Vegan) Mediterranean Bean Burgers

These were very tasty indeed. I’ve not had much luck with veg burgers in the past. They either seem to crumble to pieces when I cook them or else they’re mushy in the middle. These have the perfect texture, based on kidney beans and oats, and are packed with Mediterranean flavour- oregano, olives and red pepper.

Oh, and I was pretty proud of myself for making my own burger buns too. It seems impossible to buy buns or wraps which aren’t full of chemical preservatives around these parts. I used this recipe from Holy Cow Vegan and they turned out really well, nice and fluffy with a good rise. Now I’ve learnt how easy it is to make my own burger buns I’m sure I’ll soon be trying all Dreena’s other burger recipes- there’s a whole chapter devoted to them!

Raw Strawberry Pie (Let Them Eat Vegan)

Raw Strawberry Pie

In the interest of a comprehensive review….I of course had to delve into the dessert chapter. These pretty little tarts are a mini version of Dreena’s Raw Strawberry Pie. I just divided the recipe to make a smaller amount and used tartlet shells.

I’m very familiar with raw desserts already and this one’s very simple. It’s also delicious and a bit lighter than most which can use a lot of nuts in the filling.

Kale Slaw with Curried Almond Dressing (Let Them Eat Vegan)

Kale Slaw with Curried Almond Dressing

This salad had been getting rave reviews and after trying it I could definitely see why. With kale as the base ingredient you can really add any other vegetables you like, although the apples and raisins listed really added to this I thought. The sweet curried almond dressing is what makes this really special though- I cleaned out my blender as best I could so as not to waste any of it. I did change it a little bit just because maple syrup is very expensive here so I usually save it for on pancakes/waffles! Instead I used dates which I can buy very cheaply in the international stores near me.

Here is my version if you’re interested:

Curried Almond Date Dressing:

1/4C Dates
3/4C Water
1/2C Almonds, soaked
2 1/2T Apple cider vinegar
1t Fresh grated ginger
1 Small clove of garlic
1/2 (heaping) t Salt
1/4t Curry powder
Black pepper
First blend together the dates and water in a high-power blender, until smooth and creamy. Add in all the other ingredients and blend again until very smooth. You may prefer a thinner dressing, if so, add more water.

I didn’t need all this for my salad but loved the leftovers as a dip (yes again….) for raw veggies.

Apple Hemp Pancakes (Let Them Eat Vegan)

Apple Hemp Pancakes

I adore pancakes and these are very yummy. They are made from spelt flour and are packed with nutritious hemp seeds and diced apples so you can feel good about eating them too.  With my new morning routine I can see I’ll be working my way through the “Breakfast Bites and Smoothies” chapter.

I’m particularly excited to get stuck into the “Proud to be Saucy and Dippy” chapter. You know how much I love a good dip! And the main dishes, including warming soups and stews, casseroles, tarts, one-pots and pasta are all going to make the move towards colder weather that bit more welcome.

As I mentioned, Dreena writes the blog plant-powered kitchen where she generously shares some of the recipes from her cookbooks as well as an abundance of useful information and cooking, nutrition and vegan parenting advice.

Do you have a copy of “Let Them Eat Vegan” or any of Dreena’s other books?  Which are your favourite recipes?

Baked Beetroot Falafel


Entertaining. It used to be something I’d avoid doing. Far too much anxiety involved. Planning the perfect spread to try and please everyone I’d constantly be worrying: what if my guests didn’t like the food? What if I was bad company? What if.. ? Fortunately I’ve mellowed a little recently and entertaining nowadays is a different matter.

I get excited about having people over and love the planning and preparations that go into cooking up a big feast. All the same, sometimes it’s nice to have friends round more spontaneously and not spend weeks poring over recipes for an elaborate menu, simply embracing the company as what’s important (alongside a few light bites…).

I’m moving into my own place mid September, a cosy little flat, and am very much looking forward to playing hostess!

Baked Beetroot Falafel

Today’s recipe is the ideal party appetizer and takes hardly any time to put together so you can whip it up quickly if you decide last minute to have friends over.

Falafel is familiar to almost everyone so it’s not intimidating “vegan” food, and the shocking pink of these ones are sure to impress. I baked them too which is obviously a much healthier choice than frying, without any compromise in taste in my opinion.

During the half an hour that they’re doing their thing in the oven you can mix up a little tahini dipping sauce for a little extra yum with time to spare to spruce up your place too!

Baked Beetroot Falafel

Baked Beetroot Falafel
Yields 12
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  1. 1 C Shredded beetroot
  2. 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  3. 1/2 Small onion
  4. 1 tsp Ground cumin
  5. 1 tsp Ground coriander
  6. 1/2 tsp Salt
  7. Black pepper
  8. 1 1/2 C Cooked chickpeas/1 can
  9. 3/4 C Roughly chopped fresh parsley and coriander (I used equal quantities of each)
  10. 2 tsp Olive oil
  11. 3 Tbsp Chickpea flour
Tahini-Lemon Sauce
  1. 4 Tbsp Tahini
  2. 3 Tbsp Lemon juice
  3. 1 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar
  4. 1/4 tsp Salt
  5. 1 Tbsp Agave nectar
  6. 1-2 Tbsp Water
  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
For the falafel
  1. I used the grater attachment on my food processor for the beetroot to speed things along even further but you can grate by hand if you don’t have such a thing. Remove beetroot from the food processor into a bowl.
  2. Pulse minced garlic, onion, spices and salt in the food processor until coarsely chopped. Add in chickpeas and herbs and pulse again, being careful not to process too much, as you want a little texture. Add shredded beetroot and pulse just once or twice to combine. Finally stir in the olive oil and chickpea flour. If your mixture is still a little wet then add another tablespoon of chickpea flour.
  3. Shape into golf-ball size balls, lay on a lined baking tray and flatten slightly. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping half-way, or until lightly brown and crispy. Serve warm or at room temperature with tahini dipping sauce.
  1. Whisk all ingredients, up to and excluding water, until you have a smooth, thick paste, then gradually add water until it reaches your desired consistency- I like it a little thicker for a dip, a little thinner for a salad dressing. Season with lots of black pepper and chopped fresh parsley.
  1. I’d suggest making a double batch as these things are addictive, and if you’ve got leftovers they’re great for lunch over a big salad, drizzled with extra sauce.
Coconut and Berries
Do you like entertaining? What do you like to serve when you don’t have time to plan far ahead?

Hope you try these Baked Beetroot Falafel for your next get-together!

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Lemon Coconut Milk Scones (with Blackberry Chia Jam)

Lemon Coconut Milk Scones

Lemon Coconut Milk Scones (with Blackberry Chia Jam)

I’m on “holiday mode” at the moment, and rightly so I suppose as it is the summer and I’m in between studies. But my laid-back attitude has stretched to my sleeping routine. I’m going to bed later and later and getting up later and later…There’s nothing wrong with this of course but I just feel so much better and more productive when I’m up and moving by 7am.

I miss my leisurely starts to the day so I’m making an effort to go to bed earlier and get up earlier, easing into it with 15 minutes earlier everyday as suggested by Leo at Zen Habits. Getting up later also means breakfasts have got rather dull. When I eventually get up I feel like I should be getting on with things and so have just been grabbing a quick bowl of Nature’s Path Cereal, porridge with fruit and almond milk or an uninspired smoothie, and leaving it at that.

Lemon Coconut Milk Scones

The lure of fun breakfasts is definitely helping my early-rising quest though! While at university I would regularly wake up early and head to the kitchen for a spot of baking in my pyjamas, enjoying the silent corridors and having the kitchen all to myself Smile before heading off to lectures or getting down to work. The only disturbance was the occasional rower returning from their (super) early-morning training sessions on the river, bursting in on my pancake-making to heat up some instant oats in the microwave.


These scones were made before starting my new plan to get up early so they were baked later than I’d have liked, inducing a little bit of guilt about wasting my morning. But finding time to nourish the mind and the body shouldn’t be frowned upon and baked goods don’t have to be unhealthy.

These scones incorporate wholegrain flour, are ever so slightly sweetened, and have a touch of lemony flavour and a soft crumb. Served warm from the oven topped with coconut butter and my quick blackberry chia jam they made for a lovely breakfast, and a very welcome change from cereal and milk!

Lemon Coconut Milk Scones with Blackberry Chia Jam:
Yields 8
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Blackberry Chia Jam
  1. 1 C Blackberries
  2. 1 Tbsp Agave nectar
  3. 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
Lemon Coconut Milk Scones
  1. 2 C Flour (I used 1/2 white spelt and 1/2 whole spelt)
  2. 1/4 C Coconut Sugar (use 1/3C if you’d like a touch more sweetness)
  3. 1 Tbsp Baking powder
  4. 1/2 tsp Salt
  5. 1 1/4 C Coconut Milk, chilled (NOT light)
  6. Zest of 1 large lemon
  7. 1-3 tsp Demerara sugar, for sprinkling (Optional)
For the Jam
  1. Briefly whizz blackberries in a blender, leaving slightly chunky. Stir in agave nectar and chia seeds, pour into a jar and leave to thicken in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Keep in the fridge for up to a week.
For the Scones
  1. Preheat oven to 220C/425F, lightly grease a large baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together all your dry ingredients. Whisk the lemon zest into the coconut milk and pour into the dry ingredients. Gently mix until just combined.
  3. The dough should be thick.
  4. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and shape your dough into a large disc, approx 3/4” thick. Carefully transfer the disc onto the prepared baking sheet. Using a sharp knife cut into 8 triangles.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until very lightly golden.
  6. Brush with a touch of non-dairy milk and sprinkle with Demerara sugar, if using. Leave to cool slightly and gently separate the scones. Serve warm with coconut butter and blackberry chia jam if desired.
  7. (Or how about fresh strawberries and whipped coconut cream for a healthy strawberry shortcake?)
  1. The coconut milk doesn’t make these coconutty if that’s a concern, but the richness of the milk adds a buttery taste without the need for any added fat.
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Lemon Coconut Milk Scones (with Blackberry Chia Jam)

Are you an early-riser? Or a baker?

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Spanish Romesco/Pesto Pizza with Grilled Vegetables

Spanish Romesco Pizza with Grilled Vegetables

Vegan Spanish Romesco/Pesto Pizza with Grilled Vegetables

I promised to share more recipes using pesto after my Pesto-Ricotta Tofu Omelettes post so here I am with another. Hopefully by now you’ve got a nice batch of pesto in the fridge, but if not, or (heaven forbid!) you’re not a fan of the green stuff, I’ve also got a delicious alternative for you today.

Cheese-less pizza to the uninitiated might sound boring, but it leaves room for so much more creativity, since you haven’t got all that cheese smothering any other flavours you add. And after all, the original Italian pizza  “pizza marinara”, is cheese-less- just a good thin crust topped with a rich tomato sauce, spiked with garlic and oregano (Fun fact: the name “marinara” doesn’t, as one might think, refer to fish or seafood, but “marinai” or sailors for whom it was first baked in the C18).

Vegan Spanish Romesco Pizza with Grilled Vegetables

Here I’m mixing up cultures a little as Romesco is Spanish not Italian. I first came across it with the delicious “Chickpea Romesco” from Veganomicon: A tasty bean dish in a tangy roasted red pepper, tomato and paprika sauce thickened with ground almonds.

Then, when living in Barcelona I encountered this tasty sauce again. Every year when the calçots, a vegetable similar in taste and appearance to green onions or leeks, are in season, the Catalans hold the Calçotada. This festival which celebrates the harvest of the vegetable with a feast of char-grilled calçots which are then dipped in Romesco sauce before eating.

I haven’t yet tried to recreate a Calçotada back in England (!) but I wanted to enjoy that delicious sauce again in a different way. It made a great topping for pizza, rich and flavourful, especially with some grilled vegetables on top, as the slightly smoky flavour reminded me of those blackened calçots in Spain.

Vegan Pesto Pizza with Grilled Vegetables

It’s not difficult to make, but the flavour is so complex it tastes like you must have put in a lot more effort than is actually needed.

Spanish Romesco Sauce:

1 Medium red pepper (Or use the equivalent amount from a jar of roasted red peppers)
1 Large clove garlic, chopped
2/3 C Slivered almonds
2 Tbp Red wine vinegar/Sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbsp Sweet paprika
1/2 tsp Salt
Black pepper
2 Tbsp Chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F and place the red pepper on a baking sheet. Cook the red pepper for 25-30 minutes until skin is blackened and blistered and the pepper has collapsed. Remove from the oven and immediately place in a heat-proof bowl and cover with a plate or cling film. Leave to sit for 10 minutes. The steam helps you remove the skin.

Spread out the almonds on the same baking sheet and toast for a few minutes in the oven until golden. Be careful as they burn easily.

When the pepper is cool enough to handle, rub of skin with your fingers, deseed and dice into 1” pieces.

In a food processor or high-power blender combine the chopped red pepper, toasted almonds, garlic, vinegar, oil, paprika and seasoning. Process to a thick, smooth consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl or blender jug a few times to get everything incorporated. Taste for seasoning and pulse in the parsley.

You won’t need all this for the pizza so why not try the leftovers with some grilled vegetables, Calçotada-style! It’s also yummy as a dip for carrot sticks or spread onto wholewheat pitta for a quickie lunch.

For the pizzas:

1 Ball wholegrain pizza dough (I use the pizza dough recipe from Vegan With a Vengeance, available online here, using half wholegrain flour. To make 2 small pizzas, as pictured, I halved the recipe. )
1/4C Pesto
1/4C Romesco Sauce (See above)
Grilled/Fresh Vegetables ( I grillled some courgettes, roasted a second pepper, and added some slices of fresh tomato)

Preheat oven to 250C/500F (preheat your pizza stone if you’re lucky enough to have one). Divide dough into two and roll out thin to two round (ish!) pizza bases. Spread each with the pesto and romesco sauce respectively, scatter on vegetables of choice. Slide onto a baking tray and cook for approx 10 minutes or until the crust is brown and crispy.

Serve hot, alongside a big green salad.

Serves 3

What are your favourite pizza toppings?

Vegan Spanish Romesco Pizza with Grilled VegetablesVegan Pesto Pizza with Grilled Vegetables