Miso Glazed Aubergine

Recipes, Starters

If you like πŸ† , you’ll love this sweet and spicy dish. The aubergine is super tender, and the sauce is so good, I keep extra to pour over rice. Serve with some fresh chilli & spring onion a bit of a crunch!

Time to Cook
1 hour

Difficulty
Medium

INGREDIENTS
3 aubergines
100g white miso paste
100ml dashi (if you don’t have any, replace with white wine vinegar or similar)
75ml mirin
100g sugar (around 20 flat teaspoons)
3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Spring onion & fresh chilli for garnish

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Cut your aubergines in half then scour them with a fork, so they’ve got nice grooves through the flesh
  3. Oil a roasting dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then rub the rest all over the aubergines. If you’ve got a particularly large πŸ† , you might want to use some extra oil when oiling those bad boys up.
  4. Bake the aubergines in the oven for around 20 minutes, until they’re starting to feel nice and tender when you put a fork through them.
  5. While they’re baking, make your miso glaze. In a pan, add your dashi, mirin and sugar and bring it to a boil for a few minutes. Once it’s bubbling away, add your white miso paste and dark soy sauce. Let it boil for 10 minutes, stirring continuously. When you take it off the heat, and the bubbles die down, it should resemble the rich, dark colour of a hoi-sin sauce.
  6. Baste the flesh of your now-baked aubergines with the sauce, until they’re nice and juicy!
  7. Let them bake for another 15-minutes.
  8. Once they’re done, take them out of the oven and garnish them with fresh spring onion and raw, red chilli.
  9. I served mine with rice, a lettuce and chilli salad, and a garlic, red onion and beansprout stir-fry, but these can be gobbled up on their own no problem.

Perfect Roast Potatoes

Recipes, Starters, Starters & Sides

No-one cooks potatoes better than a northerner. You’re in luck: not only am I from Manchester, I’m also the biggest potato addict you’ll meet. Trust me when I say THESE ARE THE BEST roasties you’ll make.

Time to Cook
2 hours

Difficulty
Easy

INGREDIENTS
10 potatoes
1 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of flour
2 teaspoons of season all or red salt
4 dollops of vegan butter

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Once you’ve peeled your potatoes, cut them into really big chunks. I’m talking, 1-2 roast potatoes per potato. The bigger, the better. These beasts should take up a quarter of your plate.
  3. Parboil them for around 15 minutes, until they’re halfway cooked. You don’t want they to be cooked to the point of being able to mash them, otherwise they’ll fall apart.
  4. Drain them and sprinkle half your flour and red salt over them. You want them coated in the mixture – but if you stir them, they’ll probably break up. So gently pour them into another bowl, and pour the rest of your mixture on the side of the potatoes that aren’t yet coated. Tip them back into the pan, then back into the bowl, then back again (you catch my drift) until they’re coated. The flour will give them a light batter when cooked.
  5. In your roasting dish which has plenty of oil in it (I’m talking, at least a cup – maybe even 2, if you’ve got a big dish), position your potatoes LOVINGLY. Turn them over with a spoon to get them coated all round.
  6. Spoon knobs of butter around the dish β€” then put everything in the oven.
  7. The next bit is very important. Check them EVERY 20 MINUTES. You want to turn them over, each time. These potatoes are like puppies. The more love they give you, the more they’ll love you back.
  8. After about 1.5 hours of roasting, they should be just perfect.

Black Cherry Cheesecake

Desserts, Recipes

A cheesecake made from cashews? Ludicrous, I thought β€” until I made one. In the words of my dad: “It tastes just like cheesecake”. There’s no higher accolade. What’s better, this one has a caramel base!

Time to Cook
3 hours

Difficulty
Easy

INGREDIENTS
1 pack Lotus biscuits
1/2 cup of coconut oil
1 1/2 cups cashews quick-soaked
1 lemon
2/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
Frozen black cherries
Vanilla essence
2 tablespoons of sugar

  1. Quick-soak your cashew nuts by covering them in boiling hot water and leaving them to soak for an hour. If you’ve got more time, soak them in room temperature water for 6-hours.
  2. While they’re soaking, make your base! Start by blitzing your Lotus biscuits (or equivalent). My blender wasn’t strong enough so I crushed them up, super fine, using a potato masher. Once they’re crushed, add around a tablespoon of coconut oil. It doesn’t seem like much, but trust me β€” it’s enough to bind everything.
  3. Stir it all together and tip it into a dish that’s covered with baking paper (I used a 6×6″ cake dish). Press it down with the back of a spoon until it’s nice and flat. Leave it to one side!
  4. Once your cashews are soaked, drain them and blend them with the juice of one lemon, one third of a cup of coconut oil, a teaspoon of vanilla essence, and 1/2 a cup of maple syrup. At this stage, it will taste a lot like coconut β€” but once you let it set, that taste will go and it will taste just like cheesecake
  5. Pour your frozen cherries (or de-pithed fresh ones, if you’re posh) into a pan. Add a glug of water and a couple of tablespoons of sugar, then let it reduce for 15-minutes, stirring as you go. Give things a bit of a blend at the end, to give it the smooth texture of coulis.
  6. Pour your filling onto your base, and swirl your topping onto it, as you wish.
  7. Put it into the freezer for an hour to set. Then hey-presto, you’re done!

Smoky Garlic Rice

Recipes, Starters

I can gobble up an entire bowl of this all by itself. The smoky, crunchy garlic scattered over the top adds a whole new dimension to the buttery rice β€” and the avocado, stirred through, makes it extra creamy.

Time to Cook
30 minutes

Difficulty
Easy

INGREDIENTS
1 cup of basmati rice (not easy-cook!)
1/2 an avocado
4 cloves of garlic
2 dried chillis
1/2 fresh red chilli
2 shallots
1 tablespoon of vegan butter
A generous glug of olive oil
Salt

  1. Chop your half red chilli super fine and mince 2 of your cloves of garlic. Fry them in your vegan butter along with the cup of rice. There’s no need to rinse the rice beforehand: you want all that starch for this.
    2. Careful not to burn yourself, put the tip of your finger on the top of the rice. Fill it up with water, so it meets the first crease in your finger. Bring it to the boil. The second it starts bubbling, move it onto a hob with a medium heat. Give everything a quick stir, then put the lid on, and let it simmer until the water has evaporated – around 10 minutes. Avoid taking off the lid and stirring things around. You don’t want the rice to break up.
    3. Slice your other 2 garlic cloves into slithers and chop your shallots into delicate rings. Fry your garlic along with your shallots and dried red chillis in the generous glug of olive oil. The juice of the onion should stop your garlic from burning and the dried chillis should puff up and develop a deeper colour. When everything starts to caramelise, take it off the heat and leave it to the side. You can throw away the dried chilli, or use it as a garnish.
    4. In a bowl, mush up your half avocado.
    5. By now, your rice should hopefully be done. There’s no need to drain it, if it’s absorbed the water. Give it a taste to make sure it’s got a bit of bite to the rice. Drop it into a bowl and stir through with the mixed avocado.
    6. Add salt to taste (a teaspoon or two β€” salt is your friend, when cooking rice!).
    7. Finally, garnish with your fried shallots and garlic. Eat away!

Scrummy Veggie Dumplings

Recipes, Starters

I was lucky enough to spend a few months in New York in 2019. The thing I miss the most? Their dumplings. There was this 3-dollar spot called Xifu in Downtown Brooklyn, which did the best ones I’ve tried. Serve these beauties up with fresh vinegar and spring onion.

Time to Cook
1 hour

Difficulty
Hard

INGREDIENTS
500g plain flour & 1 cup water for the dough*
1 cup soy mince
2 large carrots
1/2 a cabbage
1 cup of mushrooms
2tbsp dark soy sauce
2tbsp rice vinegar
1 inch ginger
3 cloves garlic
Sherry vinegar for serving
Lots of chives
Generous glug of vegetable oil
Spring onion (for garnish)

*Use wrappers if you don’t want to make it from scratch – but it always tastes best when you do it yourself!

  1. In a bowl, stir the water in with the flour. You can use chopsticks to stir it all together – or if you’re lazy like me, just use a wooden spoon. Once it’s all mixed in and doughy, pop it on a floured surface and give it a knead for 5-minutes to make sure everything’s worked through. Cover it in cling film and leave it to rest for 30-mins.
    2. As finely as you can, chop your carrots, cabbage and mushrooms into teeny-tiny chunks. If they’re too big, you won’t be able to mould the dumplings. So take your time here. It’s laborious but worth it in the end.
    3. Fry the veg mixture up with a clove of minced garlic in a good glug of light oil (I use vegetable oil). Stir it pretty regularly, to ensure nothing sticks. After about 15-minutes, it should be soft. Take it off the heat.
    4. In a cup, mix your soy sauce, vinegar, minced ginger and remaining 2 cloves of garlic. Pour it all into the veg mixture you’ve been frying up, and cook it down for another 5-minutes. When it’s off the heat, dice up your fresh chives (I use a good handful) and add this to the mixture.
    5. Now it’s time to make your dumplings. Roll out your dough on a floured surface, and cut them into circles roughly the size of your palm. You might want to use a cookie cutter – or if you don’t have one, just upturn a cup and use that instead. I like my dumplings to be quite doughy so they absorb lots of vinegar, so keep mine around 2mm thick.
    6. Dollop a tablespoon of mixture in the middle of your dumpling wrappers and crimp them up! I put a little bit of water around the edge of the circle, so the dough sticks to itself more easily when I squeeze it all together.
    7. In a fresh pan, bring more oil to the heat then add your dumplings. Fry them on one side for a minute or two, until the underside is brown. You can turn them over if you want and give the other side a blitz too but it’s not necessary. When you’re happy with how they’re looking, pour half a cup of water into the pan and put the lid back on. Let them boil a little bit in the shallow water.
    8. After a couple of minutes, they’re done! Take them, with a spoon or a pincer, and pop them in a bowl. Pour some vinegar and soy sauce over them and sprinkle some chopped spring onion over them. You’re done!

Plant-Based Pomodoro

Mains, Recipes

There are many lessons I learned from dating Italian and Spanish men. One of them, is the importance of good-quality tomato sauce. It’s super easy to make β€” and tastes great on pasta! No need to over complicate this hearty, Italian dish. When cooked properly, the ingredients speak for themselves.

Time to Cook
30 minutes

Difficulty
Easy

INGREDIENTS
6 fresh tomatoes (the redder, the better)
1 clove of garlic
Lots of olive oil
Fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
Salt & pepper
Pasta

  1. Blend your six tomatoes into a paste. I’m lazy and do it with the skins on as they lose their texture when cooked up β€” but if you’re cooking for super-sensitive kids, drop them in boiling water for a minute first then peel off the skins before blending them up. Or another trick would be to just chop them in half and grate all the lovely, tomato juice and seeds into a bowl then toss away the skins.
    2. Fry the garlic in your olive oil (sorry, Italians β€” I know it’s a crime to fry with it). Don’t let it burn: 30-seconds is fine. Pour the tomato into your pot, drop in your half a teaspoon of sugar, and give it a stir. Put the lid on and let it bubble away for 15-minutes until it’s turned from a pink, frothy colour into a dark, red paste.
    3. Boil your pasta in lots of water. The more water, the better. When it’s al-dente, drain it and pour it into the pan of tomato sauce.
    4. Give everything a stir and season it with salt, black pepper and fresh basil. Drench it in as much olive oil as you want (who’s judging?) and plate it up.
    5. Finish with some extra basil, olive oil and pepper.