Monthly Archives: November 2010

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad

Beautiful Squash and Beetroot Salad

When life gives you root vegetables, make a roast. That’s what I always say. The organic box has been brimming with carrots, parsnips, butternut squash and beets. As much as I love a good roast dinner, I’m not always in the mood for a big heavy gravy fest (particularly because such occasions typically involve way more wine than would be prudent for a school night).

This recipe from Rachel Demuth takes hearty, autumnal vegetables and turns them into a light and refreshing salad. We made this recipe in one of her cooking classes a year or two ago and I spotted it again in the latest issue of food magazine (which also happens to feature my interview with Harvey Nichol’s head chef Louise McCrimmon – check it out!).

The recipe calls for “pomegranate syrup” which is surprisingly easy to find in London’s Stoke Newington, a largely Turkish neighborhood where just about every off license / corner shop sells the stuff. If you can’t get a hold of it, I suspect you could sub some other fruity syrup or sweetener (I wouldn’t recommend maple syrup, however) or perhaps more balsamic.

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad

Recipe adapted from Rachel Demuth’s colorful roasted root salad with pomegranate dressing .


  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 butternut squash, chopped into chunks
  • 2 parsnips, chopped into chunks, slightly smaller than the squash
  • 2 carrots, chopped into same-sized chunks as the parsnips
  • 2 leeks, sliced into chunks
  • 3 beets, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 head of garlic cloves, peeled
  • spinach or rocket, fresh or steamed

For the dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp pomegranate syrup
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic
  • salt and pepper



  1. Preheat the oven to 200C / 390F.
  2. Combine the squash, carrots, parsnips, garlic and leeks in a large roasting dish with 2 Tbsp olive oil and roast in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes, turning every so often, until the squash is cooked and everything is starting to blacken a bit.
  3. Meanwhile, place the beetroot in another roasting dish (otherwise it will color everything else pink!) and stir in 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Roast for about 25 minutes, until it too is starting to blacken.
  4. To make the dressing, cut the pomegranate in half and over a bowl, ease out the pink seeds. Mix the seeds and juice with the olive oil, pomegranate syrup and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste.
  5. To serve, pile the baby spinach or rocket leaves onto a serving dish, top with the roasted veggies and drizzle over the pomegranate dressing.


Mushroom & Barley Burgers

Mushroom barley veggie burgers

When I stumbled upon Lukas Volger’s Veggie Burger Madness blog, I knew I had met a kindred spirit.

Lukas has been making and eating veggie burgers since he was a teenager, and he’s turned this passion and experience into a wonderful recipe book called Veggie Burgers Every Which Way.

What I love about Lukas’s approach is that his recipes don’t try to imitate meat, but instead, accentuate the veggies with which the burgers are made. His book comes with over thirty recipes for burgers, buns, toppings and sides, over half of which are vegan and/or gluten free.

I spoke with Lukas last month about vegan burgers, the elusive eggless binder, topping ideas and my own quest for the ultimate veggie burger. Lukas was kind enough to share some fantastic tips on making ace veggie burgers, plus a recipe for Mushroom Barley Burgers that are out of this world.

Visit my Ultimate Veggie Burgers Blog for my full review of Lukas’s Mushroom Barley Burgers plus Lukas’ Top 3 Tips from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way.

Glorious mushrooms IMG_7073 Makings of mushroom barley veggie burgers Mushroom barley veggie burgers

Mushroom & Barley Burgers

Rating: 3.8 out of 4

Reprinted with permission from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way.


  • 1 small potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 portabella mushroom
  • 12 crimini mushrooms
  • 10 shitake mushrooms
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup cooked barley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Steam or boil the potato until tender. Mash with a fork.
  2. Trim off the stem of the portabella mushroom and scoop out the gills. Chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Thinly slice the crimini and shitake mushrooms
  3. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  4. Heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Cook the portabello mushrooms and dried thyme for 6 to 8 minutes, until the mushrooms begin to soften and sweat. Add the crimini and shitake. Cook for 10 minutes, until the mushrooms have sweat off their moisture and it has dried up in the pan. Deglaze with the vinegar, scraping off browned bits with a wooden spoon.
  5. Transfer mushrooms to a food processor and coarsely grind. (Alternatively, chop the mushrooms finely by hand.) Combine the mushroom mixture with the potato, barley, salt, pepper, and mushroom mixture in a mixing bowl. Shape into 6 patties.
  6. In an oven-safe skillet or nonstick frying pan heat oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the burgers and brown each side, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Move the pan to the preheated oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until firm and cooked through.
Makes: 4 burgers
Amount per burger: 315 Calories | 11.3g Fat | 8.2g Protein | 51.2g Carbohydrates | 9.3g Fiber


Mushroom barley veggie burgers



Carrot & Coriander Soup

Carrot & Coriander Soup

I’d never heard of “carrot and coriander soup” until I moved to England, where it seems to appear on lots of gastropub menus during the autumn and winter months.

But it seems silly to order this soup at a restaurant when it’s stupidly easy to make at home. Fry some onion, boil it up with some carrots, potato and ground coriander, then blitz it in the blender with some fresh coriander (“cilantro” to my fellow Americans). It all comes together in less than 30 minutes.

Today I think I’ll have some leftovers, perhaps with a bit of spinach added to cut the sweetness of the carrot, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Am I the only one who is often compelled to add extras to soup? I especially enjoy pouring just about any soup, piping hot, over a bowlful of fresh spinach. The leaves warm and wilt without over cooking, and bring a bit of freshness to an otherwise cooked-to-hell bowl of liquid.

Carrot & Coriander Soup

Adapted from BBC Good Food.


  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion , chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 potato , chopped
  • 450g carrots , peeled and chopped
  • 1.2l vegetable stock
  • handful coriander/cilantro leaves


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion, then fry for 5 mins until softened. Stir in the ground coriander and potato, then cook for 1 min. Add the carrots and stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and cook for 20 mins until the carrots are tender.
  2. Tip into food processor with the coriander. then blitz until smooth (you may need to do this in two batches). Return to pan, taste, add salt if necessary, then reheat to serve.
Makes: 4 servings
Amount per serving: 115 Calories | 4g Fat | 3g Protein | 19g Carbohydrates | 5g Fiber



Quick Rye Bread

Quick rye bread

As far as I can tell, there are two types people in this world: those who like caraway seeds in their rye bread, and those who don’t. I fall into the former camp, and have been pining for the perfect caraway rye bread recipe for years.

Part of this stems from my love affair with reuben sandwiches, or should I say, sauerkraut and rye bread, because to me, those are the two ingredients that make a reuben sandwich (and which enable me to continue eating “reuben sandwiches” even though I ruled out pastrami and other meat products from my diet over 15 years ago).

Tempeh Reuben Sandwich Not really a reuben

But wasn’t I talking about rye bread? Yes, rye sandwich bread specifically (not the super dark pumpernickel variety, delicious in its own right, but which has its place in other posts).

A good rye sandwich bread is a little dense, a little sour, and definitely speckled with caraway. My longing has inspired several batches of sourdough, and several subsequent loaves of fairly average bread. Perhaps I’ll have to wait til my next trip to London or New york for a traditional “Jewish Rye”.

Or do I? A recipe for Quick Rye Bread in this week’s Guardian suggests it’s possible to create good rye sandwich bread without sourdough and without a commercial oven. This morning I put the recipe to the test.

Quick rye bread

The recipe is pretty easy – mix up some stuff, knead it, let it rise, and then – here is the quick part – flip out the dough onto a pre-heated baking sheet and bake. No second rise? Sounded dubious.

Upon flipping the dough onto the baking sheet, it deflated significantly and had, at best, moderate “oven spring” after baking for 40 minutes (10 minutes longer than the recipe called for, and it was still underdone).

So the loaf was a little dense, and only slightly undercooked in the middle, but the flavour was right and I look forward to trying this again over the weekend. I want to find a way to put the dough into the oven without disturbing it. Perhaps I will give in to my gut feeling and give it a second rise – if only for an hour or so.

I will forgo posting the recipe until I feel good about it, but please try it out for yourselves and let me know if you have any pointers:

Quick Rye Bread Recipe

Since we’re on the subject of rye bread, I must share with you one of my favorite, reuben-inspired sandwich creations. Strange but true:

Smoked Tofu and Cabbage Sandwich Smoked Tofu and Cabbage Sandwich

I saute the cabbage with onions and caraway seeds until its really soft and delicious, then add a splash of vinegar (balsamic is good here). Then I heat up the tofu and toast some rye bread. Sandwich consisits of (in this order): bread, avocado, salt, pepper, tomato, smoked tofu, pickles, jalapeno, cabbage. Sounds weird. Tastes awesome.


Almond Butter for Business and Pleasure

Hazelnut, Almond and Peanut Butter

What could be more universally loved than pure and simple almond butter? Vegan by its very nature, almond butter seems to be beloved by all kinds of eaters who put it on their toast, in their porridge, on fruit, or eat it plain with a spoon.

My favourite almond butter is the raw stuff sold at Trader Joe’s. Alas, being in the UK, I am not privy to this nutty delight. So when I bought my Vitamix, I was especially looking forward to recreating Trader Joe’s almond butter miracle in my very own kitchen.

The Vitamix did not disappoint. I made two batches: raw almond butter and toasted almond butter. The toasted almond butter came together in less than one minute. The raw almond butter took a bit longer (more processing is required to release the oils of raw almonds).

Almond butter two ways

My favourite is the raw almond butter. Or is it the toasted? I simply can’t decide. Both are delicious and are near replicas of the Trader Joe’s stuff I know and love.

So it got me thinking – is there a business here?

I did a quick run of the numbers.

  • Biona’s Organic Almond Butter sells for nearly £5 per 170g jar at the shops.
  • You can buy six 170g jars of Biona Almond Butter for £19.95 online – that’s £3.33 per 170g jar (this is likely the rate at which smaller health food shops buy their almond butter).
  • I can buy almonds is bulk for £7.96 per kilo, or about £1.35 per 170g jar.
  • Then I need jars and labels, which I estimate cost £0.30 and £0.10 respectively per jar.
  • Total cost for me to produce one 170g jar of organic almond butter is about £1.75.
  • If I sold these to health food shops and wanted to make £1 per jar, that’s £16.50 per six jars.

Put this way, £1 profit per jar seems pretty sweet. Even if I only sold 1000 jars per month, that’s £1000 in my pocket, and £12,000 per year. Soon enough I’d have enough to buy a house.

But there are practicalities to consider.

  • How will I deliver all this nut butter? How much will it cost?
  • What about wages? I can’t make 1000 jars of nut by myself.
  • How much do jars and labels really cost?
  • Regulation – can I even do this realistically from my own home?
  • How does it scale?
  • Is there even a market for almond butter in the UK?
  • How will compete against the big brands? On price? On branding?

The list goes on, and makes me feel a bit pessimistic. But I woke up this morning thinking, “do I really need almond butter to take over the world?” What if I kept it as a small scale project. Perhaps I could sell to a handful of places in my area, and the rest in London. And perhaps I could sell lots online and push the delivery cost onto my buyers.

Why am I so gung ho on this?

  • I really like nut butter.
  • It would be fun to have a project that isn’t related to the computer.
  • Marketing nut butter would be really fun, creating the story (much like Fage Greek yogurt has) about why nut butter rocks, and of course, swooning over nut butter with my customers.

My guess is that this is the most math a VeganMofo post has ever seen in its life, ever. Now, time for breakfast, but alas, I’m out of toast. A nut butter crisis! Which gives me an idea…

Bread and toast are huge here, maybe I could get bakeries and restaurants to push my nut butter?


Apple & Pear Saffron Samosas

Apple & Saffron Samosas

I’ve been so out of touch lately that I probably wouldn’t have realized that this month is “Vegan Month of Food”, aka VeganMofo, had I not seen cupcakepunk‘s post about it on Twitter. I’m not vegan, but I love vegan food and think it’s something worth celebrating. So here I am, adding my share of lentils, tofu and sprouts to the mix.

veganmofoBut I’m not going to start with any of those ingredients. Instead, I’m taking inspiration from the Orchard Cottage apple glut, and from last Friday’s cookery course at the Vegetarian Cookery School, a delicious day that’s given me loads of ammo for VeganMofo.

One of the day’s surprises were these Apple & Saffron Samosas. Made with phyllo dough, this is easy, aromatic, and vegan. Serve it with a bit of soy yogurt or tofu whipped cream and a drizzle of syrup from the stewed apple juices. Or just eat them on your own with your hands. I don’t mind.

Note: unlike most samosas, these make a better dessert than a starter, and probably wouldn’t pair well with tamarind chutney.

Apple & Saffron Samosas Apple & Saffron Samosas

Apple & Pear Saffron Samosas

Adapted from a recipe by Rachel Demuth. These sweet samosas would probably be just as good with only pears or apples, if that’s all you’ve got.


  • 2 cooking apples
  • 2 pears
  • pinch of saffron
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 7 Tbsp sugar plus extra for dusting (vanilla sugar if you have it)
  • 1 pack phyllo pastry (270g)
  • 3 Tbsp neutral oil


  1. Place the saffron in a small bowl and cover with 2 Tablespoons of hot water and leave for half an hour to infuse.
  2. Peel, core and dice the apples and pears into even 1 cm pieces.
  3. Put the apples with the pears into a saucepan with the saffron water and the sugar.
  4. Simmer gently with the lid on until the fruit is soft but not falling apart. Leave to cool. There should be lots of liquid around the fruit – strain the fruit and save the liquid syrup for later.
  5. Lay out the phyllo pastry and cut into 5 short strips. Stack them up into a pile.
  6. Take one sheet off the pile and brush it with oil. Top it with another sheet of phyllo and brush that with oil. Put a spoonful of filling into the corner (try not to overfill!) and fold up the line of pastry into a triangle shape. Repeat the folding process and lay the samosas onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment.
  7. Brush the samosas with a bit of oil and sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Bake in a pre-heated 200C/390F oven for 25 minutes, turning over half way through cooking, until pale golden.
  9. Serve with soy yogurt and a a drizzle of the reserved syrup.
Makes: 20 samosas
Amount per samosa (with syrup): 95 Calories | 2.9g Fat | 1.1g Protein | 16.6g Carbohydrates | 1.2g Fiber