Gazpacho (Chilled Spanish Tomato Soup)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAre you enjoying the sun but feeling super hot?  This Gazpacho (chilled Spanish tomato soup) is the best and most delicious way of cooling down!  I have tried to make the recipe as simple and quick as possible, so all you need to do is put the following ingredients in to a food processor, blitz well and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Even better if you top it with some finely chopped pepper, red onion and cucumber for a little crunch.  And a sprinkle of black pepper.

Gazpacho (serves 2 with bread as a light meal)

Tin of chopped tomatoes

1/2 red pepper, roughly chopped

1/2 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 red onion, roughly chopped

1 large clove of garlic

1 tsp of vinegar e.g. red or white wine vinegar/sherry vinegar

Juice of 1/2 lime

Blitz the above ingredients in a food processor until completely smooth.  Chill for atleast a couple of hours in the fridge (it will last a few days in there).  When ready to eat, pour in to bowls and serve with a little garnish of chopped pepper, red onion and cucumber.  Eat and feel refreshed!





Artichoke dip/gratin in 25 mins

One of my oldest friends (and avid artichoke fan) Kirsty made this recently and introduced it as ‘epic’.  She is right.  Not only is the dip/gratin epically delicious and rich but it is also too easy for words to make using only a casserole dish, and contains just three ingredients.  You mix canned artichokes with mayonnaise and parmesan and bake it for around 15 mins.  You can eat the dip/gratin with crudités, have it on bread/toast as a sort of posh cheese on toast, or as a vegetable side dish.

The dish is probably my favourite discovery of 2015.  Thanks Kirsty!


Artichoke dip/gratin (serves 2-4 as a dip/side dish)

Can artichokes, drained and roughly chopped (not too small or it will be mushy!)

Very big squeeze mayonnaise

Very large handful parmesan, grated

Preheat the oven to gas mark 7/220 degrees.

Get a small casserole dish.  In it mix the roughly chopped artichokes with the mayonnaise and most of the parmesan until nicely moist and combined.  Sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the top.

Bake in the oven for at least 15 mins, until golden brown on top.  Finish off under the grill if you need to.  Eat with chopped veg, on bread/toast or as a veg side dish.

Cranberry sauce for veggies!


I vividly remember going to a Christmas market in Poland in minus 12 degree weather, and eating these amazing, steaming street snacks of smoked Polish cheese with cranberry sauce.  They were a warming, smokey, sweet delight.

So last week I found a really simple 3-ingredient cranberry sauce recipe that had (deservedly) great reviews and can be made 1 week ahead.   I thought about/experimented with what it can be enjoyed with apart from meat and concluded: it is lovely dolloped on top of yoghurt or swirled through porridge; great with pancakes; yummy in a cheese toastie; or alongside a cheese board (particularly with warm smoked cheese or with baked brie/camembert).  Here is the recipe, which takes just 15 minutes!  You could add extra flavours like orange/satsuma zest or ginger if you like.

Cranberry sauce (serves 8)

100g muscavado sugar/soft brown sugar

100ml orange juice, fresh or from a carton

250g fresh or frozen cranberries

Tip the sugar and orange juice into a pan, then bring to the boil. Stir in the cranberries, then simmer until tender but still holding their shape – this will take about 5-10 mins if using frozen cranberries or 10-15 mins if using fresh. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Will keep in the fridge for 1 week. On the day, bring to room temperature before serving (or warmer if you fancy).

Recipe from



Gremolata – a zingy rub to liven up veg!


Gremolata is a brilliant Italian condiment to know about – simply chopped parsley, lemon zest and garlic mixed together to give dishes instant wonderful flavour.  Traditionally it is used with meat or fish but can also be used with roast veg.  In this recipe (based on one from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) the gremolata is added to roast veg (potatoes, carrots and parsnips) hot out of the oven.  The heat takes the edge off the garlic and it all smells amazing!


You can eat the roast veg with gremolata as a side dish or as a main topped with a poached egg.  Delicious!

Ingredients (serves 2)

2 carrots, chopped in to chunks
4 medium potatoes, chopped in to chunks
2 parsnips, chopped in to chunks

Good glug oil (ideally olive oil)
Salt and pepper

For the gremolata

1 clove garlic, crushed/finely chopped
Handful parsley, finely chopped
1 lemon, zest finely grated

Heat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 6. Put the carrots, potatoes and parsnips in a large roasting dish. Pour over the oil, season well and stir to coat. Roast for around 30 mins until cooked through and slightly caramelised, turning a few times to avoid burning.

Meanwhile make the gremolata. Mix the garlic, parsley and lemon zest together.

Once the veg are cooked toss with the gremolata, so the heat ever-so-slightly takes the edge off the garlic. Serve, either as a side dish or a main with a poached egg on top!

20 min cauliflower and broccoli cheese

cauliflower and broccoli cheese

This speedy 20 minute winter warmer is a twist on cauliflower cheese.  Cauliflower is combined with broccoli (both in season until December!) and onion.   A quick sauce is made by grating cheddar in to creme fraiche then adding a crumbled stock cube.  The whole dish is topped with breadcrumbs and grilled.  It is rich and delicious, with added crunch from the onions.

You could have the cauliflower and broccoli cheese as a main course with sausages or salad, or as a side dish.  It would work well with a roast dinner. My boyfriend reckons the dish would also be nice with added chopped chorizo (he says that about everything though!)

cauliflower and broccoli cheese

If you are making the breadcrumbs yourself you can use frozen, fresh or slightly stale bread (defrost frozen bread in the microwave on full power for 30 seconds).   You could make extra then store the breadcrumbs in freezer bags in the freezer for up to three months (spread thinly so they defrost quickly).  You will then have instant breadcrumbs that you can use to top future bakes/gratins and pad out burgers/fish cakes.  If you want to dry the breadcrumbs out before using from the freezer then spread them on a baking tray and leave somewhere warm ish overnight.

Cauliflower and broccoli cheese (serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish)

1 medium head cauliflower, cut in to smallish chunks

1 medium head broccoli, cut in to smallish chunks

1 small onion, chopped

280ml creme fraiche

180g cheddar cheese

1 stock cube

Dried herbs

50g breadcrumbs (1.5 pieces of bread, blitzed to breadcrumbs, or use premade breadcrumbs)

Boil the cauliflower and broccoli for a few mins, until tender, adding the onions 1 min before they are done.  Drain.  Meanwhile make the sauce by heating the creme fraiche until bubbling then adding 150g of the grated cheese and crumbling in the stock cube.  Shake over some dried herbs, mix and heat a little longer until everything is combined and the cheese has melted.

Add the sauce to the cauliflower, broccoli and onion and mix well.  Pour in to a casserole dish and top with the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese.  Grill on high heat for around 5 mins until golden and crunchy on top.  Eat!

Watercress pesto – versatile, delicious and ready in 5 minutes – yes, 5 minutes!

watercress pesto

A big thank you to Noush for recommending this brilliant watercress pesto recipe to me!  She makes it every week at home because her son loves ‘green pasta’.  It was a big hit in my house too, despite my kids not normally going near watercress, because they love pesto!

watercress pesto

watercress pesto

It takes just 5 minutes to whizz the pesto up in a food processor and it can be eaten in lots of different ways – stirred through pasta with anything you fancy; dolloped on top of pizza; on chicken; spread on to sandwiches with salad and/or cheese, or as a salad dressing.  Watching my kids eat it is very satisfying because watercress is packed with goodness.

watercress pesto

watercress pesto

The pesto will last up to a week in the fridge in a sealed container topped with a layer of olive oil, and the amount in the recipe should last for around four family meals, depending on what you use it for (it’s about a jar’s worth).  Hope you like it as much as me!

Watercress pesto

1 bag watercress (or other leaves like spinach or rocket)
1 clove garlic, crushed
60g grated parmesan (I don’t always have this at home – it’s fine without it)
Generous handful pine nuts (or whatever nuts you have – I have used walnuts, brazil nuts and pecans too)
Squeeze of lemon
Olive oil

Put everything except the lemon and olive oil in the food processor and whizz it until everything is finely chopped.  Add the oil (as much as it takes to get the consistency you want) and then a squeeze of lemon to suit your taste (usually between 1/4 and 1/2 a lemon).  Season with salt and pepper.  Store in the fridge for up to a week with a layer of olive oil on top to keep fresh.

Citrus basil vinaigrette for summer salads

citrus basil vinaigrette summer salads

I recently discovered this flavoursome vinaigrette in a supermarket magazine (always great for simple recipes!) and will be using it a lot from now on. The combination of oil, orange and lemon juice, basil, honey and white wine vinegar is a winner, especially with grain or pasta salads. I had the vinaigrette with a couscous, soya bean, sweet potato and feta salad but I think you could try it with anything that takes your fancy! It’s a great little recipe to have up your sleeve when you want to liven up a salad. I have visions of it going nicely with lentils, salad leaves, chicken, fish, quorn and quinoa.

Ingredients for citrus basil vinaigrette (based on salad for 4)

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. orange juice
1 tsp lemon juice
Zest of 1/4 lemon
2 tsp honey
1 tsp white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Bunch of fresh basil, chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a jar, put the lid on and shake. Pour over salad!

Mini toad-in-the-holes

lorraine pascale mini toad in hole

This is one of those recipes that instantly sounds good, and then when you open the oven door and see it bubbling away you know you’ve found a winner.   The fact that they are mini makes them a bit different, and perfect for a Sunday roast.  You can use meat or veggie sausages.  Make sure you allow time for cooking the sausages first while letting the batter stand (approx 30 mins) before combining it all in a muffin tray and popping it in the oven.  This is a good recipe if you have little time as you can cook the sausages/prepare the batter in the morning then assemble and cook them just before lunch.  Don’t forget you need a muffin tray!  Serves 4-6 people.

You can make an easy and fantastic Sunday roast by eating the mini toad-in-the-holes alongside a vegetable gratin (recipe here – or carrots and potatoes gremolata (recipe here –  And if you’re really pushing the boat out try this veggie gravy recipe, which can be prepared the night before .

Ingredients for mini toad-in-the-hole (from Lorraine Pascale’s Baking Made Easy)

Vegetable oil, for oiling

1 egg

60g plain flour

Optional – mustard powder, to taste

Pinch of dried herbs

75ml soured cream

75ml milk

12 sausages (meat or veggie is fine)

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6. Oil the muffin tin.  Whisk the egg in a large bowl until frothy. In a separate bowl, put the flour, mustard and herbs, then make a hole in the middle. Gradually add the soured cream and milk. Mix together lightly. Add the egg and stir a little to combine, then leave the batter to stand for atleast 30 minutes.  Meanwhile cook the sausages according to the pack instructions, chop each one in to three, then put aside.

When you are ready to cook, stir the batter for 10 seconds, then pour the mixture into a measuring jug (makes it so much easier to pour into the muffin tin). Divide the mixture among the muffin holes (it makes around 12) then put 3 sausage chunks into each hole. Cook in the oven for 20–25 minutes, or until puffed up and golden brown. As soon as they are cooked, remove from the oven, leave for 1 minute then bang the tin on the surface to loosen them from the holes. Serve with gravy.

Butterbean salad (10 mins)

butterbean salad

I love tinned beans because they are so cheap, easy and versatile.  This really healthy salad contains tinned butterbeans with kale, carrots and the beautiful, mellow anniseed flavour of caraway seeds.  It is based on a recipe by Aaron Craze, one of Jamie Oliver’s former employees.  Caraway seeds are the latest in my *exciting ingredients* category – they add an unusual, interesting dimenson to food.  They work particularly well with cabbage, meat and cheese apparently.  I ate this salad with some trout on top but I reckon it would also go brilliantly with sausages (chopped up and mixed in perhaps) or goats cheese.

butterbean salad

Watch out soon for an onion and gruyere tart with caraway pastry recipe – my first attempt at homemade pastry.  If it actually works..!  Here is the recipe for the butterbean salad, which serves four if you are adding extra ingredients or as a side dish, or two as a main dish.


2 tins butterbeans

2 – 3 carrots, finely chopped

3 handfuls kale

1 clove garlic, crushed

Fresh coriander, chopped

Red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Fry the butterbeans with the carrots, kale, garlic and most of the coriander in some olive oil for approx 5 minutes.  Toss the mixture with a splash of  red wine vinegar, more olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Top with some fresh coriander leaves.

Gorgeous veggie gravy (5 mins prep and 1 hour simmering)

I’m a bit chuffed with this gravy.  It’s my thriftier, simplified version of a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe and it turned out rich and flavoursome.  It’s very easy to make as long as you have an hour or so spare to keep an eye on it as it simmers.  I had it over some root vegetable mash (mash a combination of vegetables such as celariac, squash, swede, carrots or sweet potato with some puy lentils, butter, ground cumin and honey) and shop-bought veggie sausages.  The gravy would also compliment mushroom roast (recipe below).  Make sure you give the gravy a good stir before serving.

Ingredients for gorgeous veggie gravy

2 tbsp olive oil

2 onions (white or red), chopped

400ml red wine or port

200ml veg stock (I used an Oxo cube)

2 bay leaves

Sprinkle of dried mixed herbs

1 tbsp caster sugar

Salt and coarse ground black pepper

Put the oil and onions in a pan and fry, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, until well coloured.  Add the wine/port, stock, bay leaves, dried mixed herbs, sugar and salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer for around an hour until the liquid has reduced to a thicker, gravy like consistency.  Serve.

Ingredients for mushroom roast

200g mushrooms, chopped

Large knob of butter

1 onion, chopped

150g grated cheese

90g breadcrumbs (I just blend some slices of bread)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp marmite

Salt and pepper

Fry the mushrooms and onions in the butter for approx 10 mins.  Add the grated cheese, breadcrumbs, marmite, beaten egg and seasoning, and mix.  Place the mixture in a greased baking dish/loaf tin and bake at 190 degrees/gas mark 5 for approx 35 mins, until nicely brown.  Leave to cool for 5 mins.  Works well for a Sunday roast or as a cold snack cut in to wedges.

From Vegetarian Cook Book by Doreen Keighley