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Here’s my lovely vegetarian Christmas dinner. It was inspired by something in a BBC vegetarian magazine from years ago. The original involved cranberries and cheese and a festive ring. It looked fantastic but I don’t like savory things which taste sweet, and this seemed like a much better option. It is basically a prettified mushroom tart, that can be served up with a vegetarian gravy and roast potatoes and all the trimmings. Merry Christmas!

For the filling

  • butter
  • two red onions, diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • three punnets of mushrooms, wiped, sliced and diced
  • a glass of white wine
  • thyme
  • parsley
  • frozen spinach, thawed, drained
  • Stilton

For the pastry

  • One and a half packs of puff pastry
  • Egg – whisked


  • rosemary
  • bay

Do the boring stuff – line a ring with butter and baking parchment.

Then, melt some butter in a frying pan, gently cook the butter and garlic. Add the mushrooms and cook down.

Add the wine, and reduce. I took some of the liquid and used it as a base for my gravy. Add the herbs.

Next comes the pastry. I planned all sorts of geometry for this, but in the end did a bish bash bosh and crossed my fingers.

I cut a ring of pastry for the bottom of the pie tin, layered in the mushrooms, spinach, and more mushrooms and topped it off with some Stilton. Then I arranged some strips of pastry over the top of the pie, tucked it in, decorated with some pastry leaves, brushed  them with egg and hoped for the best.

Then in the oven for 30 minutes.

Add the garnish for a festive feel.

I cooked mine on Christmas Eve, to be heated up on Christmas Day. Heating times are a bit vague because an Aga was involved.






People kept asking us to bring leftovers to our post-Christmas parties. To be honest, by New Years Eve we had long run out, so I chose to make and bring along this tried and tested vegetarian favourite by Yotam Ottolenghi. It is really remarkably easy, but tastes delicious and looks fabulous. It was put together and baked in less than half an hour and I carried it over the road to our party as soon as our oven timer went beep.


For the base:

  • 1 block puff pastry, with milk or egg to glaze the edges

For the tomato paste:

  • 10 sun-dried tomatoes (I used sun-dried tomatoes preserved in olive oil)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a sprinkling of dried chilli flakes
  • a sprinkling of dried oregano

For the topping:

  • 100/150g goats’ cheese, crumbled/daubed evenly over the base
  • 450g red, yellow, purple or green tomatoes of various sizes, sliced 2mm thick
  • some stalks and picked leaves of fresh thyme
  • a drizzle of olive oil

Set the oven to 200C. Line an oven tray with baking parchment.

Roll out the pastry onto a floured surface, then transfer onto the baking tray.

Score the edges of the tart with a sharp knife (to about an inch from the edge). Glaze the scored part of the pastry with milk or beaten egg.

Put the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, chilli and oregano into a small bowl and whizz together to make a paste. If necessary add a little water.

Spread the paste on the pastry base, avoiding the scored edges.

Add the goats’ cheese.

Then cover the tomato paste/cheese with slightly overlapping layers of tomato, again avoiding the scored edges.

Drizzle some olive oil and add the thyme.

Bake for 15-20 minutes ensuring the base is cooked and the top not burnt.

Enjoy at a (warm) room temperature.






There is a bit of an unseasonal nip in the air, so this seems like a perfect meat-free Monday dish. It is perfect served on its own or with a handful of brown rice.

I cook the lentils separately to the vegetables, so the veg don’t overcook whilst the lentils are softening.

Mess about with the vegetables and quantities as you see fit.


  • green lentils
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 1/4 leek, washed, chopped
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 courgette
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 250g large mushrooms, sliced
  • thyme
  • a splash of red wine
  • 250g large mushrooms, sliced
  • tinned tomatoes, half a can, or thereabouts
  • vegetable stock
  • parsley

Put the lentils in a small pan and add some boiling water. Simmer until the lentils are soft enough to eat. Keep an eye whilst they bubble away, you might need to add more water.

Gently fry the onions, garlic, and other vegetables. Add the mushrooms and thyme. When nearly cooked, throw in  a splash of red wine and reduce.

Add some tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock.

When the lentils are ready, throw them into the pan with the vegetables. Check that you are happy with the flavours and consistency. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serves 2.

We all know about the joy of leftovers. I delight in this breakfast which makes perhaps some radical use of a somewhat worthy supper. Here’s a rather back-to-front recipe which puts the leftovers first.


For the rather lovely breakfast:

  • toast and butter (I use the absolutely fantastic bread that I buy at they call it their low GI bread)
  • roasted tomatoes with garlic, virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • kale pesto

For the rather worthy supper: photo[1]

  • wholemeal pasta
  • kale pesto
  • roast tomatoes
  • grated cheese

For the kale pesto:

  • kale – parboiled
  • salted butter
  • chopped red onion
  • chopped leek
  • chopped garlic
  • butter

Parboil the kale, drain. Gently heat the onion, leek and garlic in some (salted) butter. Do not allow to brown. Throw the cooked kale, leek, onion and garlic into a food processor. Add a couple of anchovy  fillets, some parsley and rocket. Whizz it through. Mix in with the pasta. Enjoy. Enjoy even more the next day on some buttered toast. Make some excuses for your garlic breath. Or, serve pasta, pesto, with some lightly fried fish fillet on top. I found inspiration for the kale pesto recipe in Diana Henry’s marvellous A Change of Appetite, but have made some serious modifications. Looking forward to trying out some recipes from A Bird in the Hand.


This is a quick and easy supper I put together for myself the other evening when my husband was out. I had some left-over quinoa from the previous evening and just wanted to scramble something together fast.


  • quinoa, about two cups (cooked)
  • a splash of olive oil, some salt and pepper
  • 1 courgette, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper (capsicum)
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 leek
  • 4-5  leaves of cavolo nero
  • a good handful of parsley, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 200C

My  quinoa was pre-cooked. But here is what to do if you don’t have the luxury of leftovers:

Cook the quinoa on the hob over a low temperature. In general with quinoa, you use double the amount of water to grain. In this recipe I used 1 cup of quinoa, to two cups of water, adding a little vegetable bouillon for flavour. Cook for about twenty minutes until the kernels begin to separate.

Put the chopped courgette, red pepper,  tomatoes and garlic in a small oven-proof dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for around fifteen-twenty minutes.

In the meantime, very gently fry the onion and leek together in a non-stick frying pan. Add the cavolo nero and chopped parsley. Add the quinoa, and finally the roasted vegetables.

You could serve with some grated cheese on top. Delicious.






What’s not to like? Rather weirdly, I’ve been hankering after nettles for ages. Today we went for a walk in the woods and I was compelled to have a little forage. I think it is probably too late in the season to be picking nettles, but I made sure to just pick the very youngest of leaves. The children thought I was crazy, which secretly amused me no end.


  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • a bag of fresh nettles
  • a knob of butter
  • a swish of cream
  • ground black pepper

Wash the nettles, I’ve tagged this recipe as vegetarian, but I have to tell you that there were a few little green-fly fluttering around. (Incidentally, it is wise to pick your nettles above knee height, for obvious reasons!)

Gently fry the onion, allow to soften. Add the leek and garlic and cook until completely soft, but be careful not to brown. Add the vegetable stock, then the nettles. Wilt.

Whizz it together in a food processor and return to heat.

Add a little butter and a swirl of cream.




This is just the easiest, most delicious, healthiest and beautiful bean salad there ever was. So lovely, I just had to share.


  • 500g broad beans (in their pods)
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • a handful of parsley, chopped
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • season to taste

First, remove the beans from their pods –  I think this is one of the most satisfying of culinary tasks.

Next, steam the beans for about 5 minutes. Run them (in a sieve) under a cold tap then remove the tough skins, to reveal the bright green loveliness beneath.

Combine with the other ingredients – and enjoy!

SHOULD SERVE 2-3, but I ate them all by myself.




This is a perfect evening meal after a rainy spring day. Comforting, but not too heavy –  and absolutely full of flavour. I used a combination of exotic mushrooms for glamour and brown mushrooms for flavour. Delicious.


  • a knob of unsalted butter and a little olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 300g arborio risotto rice
  • 250ml white wine
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • 200g wild mushrooms
  • a dash of thyme
  • about 75g parmesan cheese (or vegetarian alternative)
  • chopped flat leaf parsley

Melt the butter and olive oil in a deep, non-stick frying pan. Add the onion and cook until soft, but not brown.

Add the rice and stir it into the buttery onion mix until the edges of the rice grains turn translucent.

Pour in the wine, and stir until it has been absorbed by the rice.

Add the thyme.

Add the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring continuously.

When the stock has all been added, and the rice just about cooked, add the mushrooms. Cook for a further 4-5 minutes.

Just before serving, sprinkle the parsley over the risotto.

Eat straight away.



Quinoa always has a rather a wholesome reputation, but this lovely side-dish is so full of flavour and great textures, you don’t really feel like you’re being unduly virtuous. 


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp Marigold vegetable bouillon
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, halved lengthwise
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • some herbs – on this occasion I used some sage and parsley

Set the oven to 200C

Cook the quinoa on the hob over a low temperature. In general with quinoa, you use double the amount of water to grain. In this recipe I used 1 cup of quinoa, to two cups of water, adding a little vegetable bouillon for flavour. Cook for about twenty minutes until the kernels begin to separate.

Meanwhile, cook the tomatoes and garlic in an oven-proof dish with a little olive oil. This time I added some sage, but sometimes I use rosemary or thyme. Cook for about twenty minutes.

Add the baked tomato mixture to the quinoa, serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

SERVES 2 as a side dish.

Here's one I made earlier

Here's one I made earlier

Hi, my name's Helen and I live in London with my husband and two children. When I started piping the potato on my shepherd's pies, my husband suggested that it might be a good idea for me to find an outlet for my creativity, so here we are. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, the extra twist is that I don't eat meat (I do eat fish though) and Jim, who loves meat, is always on a diet. Here are a few recipes that I have enjoyed making for my family.

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