Friday, 5 June 2009

Chickpea and Squash Green Thai Curry

The great thing about this dish is that it can be very easily altered to suit your own tastes. Use a curry paste as the flavour base, then add extra of the flavours you want to be the dominant ones. I like mine zingy and fresh so I add extra lemongrass and a little grated lime zest. You could also add garlic, ginger, chilli, cumin, soy sauce, coriander seeds or black pepper. Or anything you like, really.

(Serves 4 normal people or 16 supermodels)

1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped as you like it (I like big chunks)
1 400g can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 400g can coconut milk
1 large onion, chopped
3-5 tbsp Green thai curry paste, according to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tsp ginger, minced
1 tbsp fresh grated lime zest
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 sticks dried lemongrass or 1 stick fresh
Small bunch coriander
Steamed rice and/or naan bread, to serve


1. Preheat oven to gas mark 7/ 220C/ 425F.

2. Fry onion, garlic, ginger and lemongrass in a little vegetable oil over a medium heat for a few minutes until golden. Add chickpeas and curry paste and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add coconut milk, soy sauce and lime zest and bring to the boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer.

3. Coat squash pieces lightly in vegetable oil and spread out on a large baking sheet and place on top shelf of oven.

4. Leave curry to simmer and squash to cook for 15 minutes while you perform mindless repetitive tasks around the house or doss around on Facebook. If cooking rice from dry state, put that on to boil first.

5. Remove lemongrass stalks and serve with lots of fresh coriander and rice/naan.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Rhubarb and Date Chutney

I am the Cookie Monster of sandwiches. Though maybe that's a little like saying I'm a palaeontologist of architecture. Anyhoo... I. Am. A. Sandwich. Monster. I never tire of experimenting with every possible type of filling, salad, spread, and bread. Chutney is, of course, an integral part of any self-respecting vegan cheese sandwich. It is also excellent on crackers, and fabulous with probably every type of vegan 'meat' available. The following recipe came to me after a local supermarket sale prompted me to buy a ludicrous amount of spring rhubarb. Having eaten more rhubarb crumble than any human ever should, I still had oodles left over, which was about to become ex-rhubarb. Preserving rocks.

(Makes around 2 1/2 lbs - that's roughly 50 sandwiches. At a guess.)

350g/ 1 1/2 cups finely sliced rhubarb
250g/ 1 cup finely chopped eating apples
250g / 1 cup red onions, finely sliced
200g/ 3/4 cup sugar
100g/ 1/2 cup chopped dates
100g/ 1/2 cup raisins/sultanas
150ml/ 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
25g/ 4-5 tsp fresh grated ginger (I get mine from a jar)
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp mustard seeds
1tsp salt


1. In a large saucepan, mix onions, vinegar and ginger, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 mins.

2. Add rest of ingredients, bar rhubarb, and simmer for another 10 mins.

3. Add rhubarb and simmer for another 15 mins, stirring often.

4. Leave to cool slightly (about 15 mins), then pour into warm sterilised jars* and seal. Leave for a month to allow the flavours to develop, if you think you can wait that long.


*To sterilise jars, put through hot cycle in dishwasher and fill while still warm, or clean thoroughly with warm soapy water and dry in a low oven (around gas mark 3/ 170C/ 325F for 15 mins).

Apple and Blackberry Crumble

For me, and many other Brits, a fruit crumble (with Vee-gan custard, of course) is the ultimate comfort food. Although hot puddings are generally better suited to cold winter evenings, there are times in the summer when I'm so exhausted by the insane heat, the insane children, the neighbour's mentally retarded, caterwaulling cat and general summer shenannigans, that I'm afraid only a steaming hot pud will do. And what better taste of British summer than sweet, soggy apples and melt-in-the-mouth blackberries? (Especially if you pick/grow your own.) Though you might want to replace the custard with a good soya ice-cream.

(serves 4 normal people or 2 bulimics)


4 fat, 6 medium or 8 midget apples (approx 700g)
Approx 250g/ 1 cup plus a handful blackberries
100g/ 1/2 cup any sugar (golden granulated is good)
4-5 tablespoons water/orange juice


200g/ 1 cup plain flour (You can use wholewheat if you enjoy the taste of cardboard; I'll be using white, thank you very much...)
100g/ 1/2 cup vegan margerine
100g/ 1/2 cup demerara sugar (or other sugar, whatever...)
80g/ 1/3 cup chopped almonds/pistachios (optional but yummy and crunchy!)


1. Preheat oven to gas mark 5/ 190C/ 375F

2. Place apples, water/OJ and sugar in a large pan and heat semi-gently, stirring often, until soft and un-liquid-y (usually 10-15 mins). Add blackberries and bring to the boil, then remove from heat and pour into baking dish or ramekins.

3. In a mixing bowl, rub together margerine, flour, sugar and chopped nuts if using (I use my electric mixer for this as it's super-fast and I'm incurably lazy).

4. Sling the whole lot on top of the fruit in the baking dish(es), and distribute evenly.

5. Bake for35-40 mins, until golden brown on top.

6. Serve with lashings of custard or ice-cream (or both), and a pint of vodka/gin/other preferred road to ruin.

7. Melt into a fuzzy, warm, fruity, gin-y puddle of contentedness.


Pear and blackberry crumble

Replace the apples with equal amount of pears and omit the water/orange juice.

Apple and Maple crumble

Use only 50g sugar in the filling and add 3 tablespoons good maple syrup.