All About Beans, Mediterranean Dishes, Vegan, Vegan Main Dishes

Gigantes Plaki. Greek Bean Stew.

I guess it must be time for yet another bowl of beans!  Distinctly European on this occasion.  This one is full of rich powerful flavours: olives, tomatoes (sun-dried and fresh), celery, paprika, garlic and tons of fresh herbs.  And, of course, melty soft buttery butter beans to soak up all those wonderful flavours. ‘Tis a Mediterranean feast for the taste buds!

I haven’t thought much about food the last few days.  There’s been a lot going on in the UK and I’ve been flitting around facebook trying to make sense of things and feeling generally distracted.  It’s all very unsettling to say the least.

But, a girl’s gotta eat 🙂 , and a delicious stew like this delivers a bit of my mojo back.  It really is good.

I bought dried butter beans.  I soaked 500gms. of dried beans for 48 hours, changing the water twice daily.  I then cooked them long and slow for about 2 hours.  I froze the ones I didn’t use in this stew.

I’m lucky because I have a herb garden on my vegetable allotment, so I used a range of my own freshly picked herbs.  It’s worth using fresh herbs for this recipe, and they’re readily available in the shops these days.



Serves 3-4

If using dried butter beans, soak and cook in advance.

(250gms. of dried beans should give 500gms. of cooked beans)

Ingredients: Continue reading “Gigantes Plaki. Greek Bean Stew.”

Condiments, Salads, Vegan

Thousand Island Dressing.

Thousand Island Dressing dates back to the beginning of the 20th century and was undoubtedly invented in the US. It’s now a global standard …with endless variations.

Here’s mine. Plant-based.  Naturally.

It’s a dressing that will work with a fresh green salad and stand up equally well to powerful flavours like a vegan BBQ’d mushroom and sweet pepper kebab or chilli bean burgers.

What’s not to like?

It has a surprising number of ingredients… and feel free to adjust quantities of each ingredient according to personal taste.

Moreover ….for extra pizzazz you can add even more 🙂

… maybe half-a-dozen crisp green (pitted) olives…

a small handful of pickled dill cucumbers….

… or a couple of red hot finger chillies…

… a big bunch of fresh herbs….

… or a couple of chopped spring onions …




makes about 250ml……

Continue reading “Thousand Island Dressing.”

All About Beans, Vegan, Vegan Main Dishes, Vegan on a Shoestring

West African Black-Eyed Bean Stew.

I know the sun is shining somewhere … but it sure ain’t here in my bit of the UK!  It’s grey, it’s wet, it’s cold and disturbingly unseasonable. When it’s like this in June, I always get the feeling it could go on all summer long…chilly rainy days…

Mid-summer’s day is upon us..  Difficult to believe, but the days will be getting shorter again… ????

But that’s just about OK … for now … because I did beans.  I do beans a lot.

As far as I’m concerned, a bowl of beans is food for the soul.

This one is a modest, no-fuss, no-nonsense bowl of beans West African style.

Not many ingredients … and no faff at all … but an explosion of rich spicy flavours all the same.

Black-eyed beans are a great little bean.  They’re small, and have a nutty earthy flavour  and they don’t go too soft… and they don’t need too long a soak…


Here’s a link to one of my beany blogs with tips on beans (click image)


Tinned beans are fine for this recipe, but I prefer to soak and cook my own.



t.b.h. this may well serve 3-4 …particularly if served with rice

but 2 of us ate the lot (after a long wet day gardening)

Ingredients: Continue reading “West African Black-Eyed Bean Stew.”

Bread, Cook's Tales, Curries, Vegan

Stuffed Naan Bread + a cautionary tale…

I don’t go to restaurants much.

But the other day we went to a restaurant/cafe before going to a show.  It was a celebratory evening for 2.

We did our preliminary investigations, and found a simple sweet looking cafe (not far from the theatre, and not long opened), that did Asian food, and had on the menu displayed in the window, as clear as day, a vegan option.

An interesting looking aubergine curry with a peanut and jaggery sauce, with pilau rice and mango chutney.  Just the ticket.  I love Indian food and am always looking for inspiration.

We got there as the cafe opened, as we only had about 75 mins. before we needed to leave to get to the show. (We’d explained about the time thing and the vegan thing when we booked.  ‘That’s fine,’ they said).

We ordered drinks, and got on with relaxing and enjoying ourselves.

Waiter comes: ‘we’ll have the vegan option,’ we declare, pointing vaguely at the menu.

Off he goes.

Food arrives, and we notice that there’s naan bread rather than rice.

We might’ve asked why, but we wanted to enjoy ourselves, not get in a bother with the restaurant … and moreover we needed to get to the show on time…. and we just wanted a really nice evening….no hassle etc.

The curry was delicious.  Lovely spice mix, and the aubergine was cooked to perfection.  Sort of crispy on the outside and soft on the inside…

I began munching on the naan bread….. and after a little while my taste buds kicked in.

I said to my partner, I think this naan has got milk…or even cream in it.

He expressed disbelief…and reached for the menu.

‘That’s funny,’ he said, ‘this menu is different, but the naan is still included in the vegan option…’

‘Hmmm… not so sure,’ I said.

I didn’t eat any more of it.

When we paid, I asked the front of house manager about the bread….in a diplomatic sort of a way, and hoping I was wrong.

She looked oddly at me and confirmed what I’d thought.  Yes, the bread had milk in it.

‘Why is it described as vegan then?’…I asked, as calmly as I could.

To cut a long story short, they got rather defensive.  Confusion reigned, for us at least….

Which was a shame, because all we wanted a peaceable outcome.

The waiter came back from the kitchen muttering : ‘it was only the curry that’s vegan.’

Not helpful.

‘Err, have you heard of the trade descriptions act?’ we asked.  There was no doubt that the naan was included in the vegan option on the in-house menu.  It even had a little box around it.  Asking why there was no rice (like it said on the menu in the window) seemed irrelevant by now ……

It all got a bit heated.  At no point did they offer a real, unconditional apology.

I explained to them that they were very lucky neither of us was lactose-intolerant /allergic.  This did quieten them down a bit.

We left, determined despite everything, to enjoy the rest of our evening.  Which we did.


Here’s a recipe for a naan bread they could’ve served us.

Cooking for Peace.


Makes 6

Ingredients: Continue reading “Stuffed Naan Bread + a cautionary tale…”

Curries, Vegan, Vegan Main Dishes, Vegan on a Shoestring

Tandoori Aloo

Potatoes marinaded in a spicy, lemony, creamy sauce and then baked until tender.

What could be simpler?

An economical, minimal-effort midweek meal that ticks the comfort-zone box too.

Have to say that I grow my own potatoes which have started appearing around now, but any firm, floury potatoes will do just fine. They just need to be roughly the same size.



for 4 (depending how hungry you are 😕 )

Ingredients: Continue reading “Tandoori Aloo”

Celebration Dishes, Desserts, Vegan

Strawberry Tart with a Strawberry Crème Pâtissière.

‘Tis strawberry time.  I have an ever-expanding strawberry patch on my allotment, (they put out new runners every autumn), and they’ve begun to appear in all their glorious juiciness.

To be honest, there is no better way to eat a strawberry than to pick it in the late afternoon when it has been bathed in gentle sunshine, and just pop it in your mouth.   Stand there, close your eyes, feel the light breeze and the warmth of the sun… and savour the strawberryness… of everything….

  Eating a strawberry like this tends to lead to the eating of more strawberries in a similar fashion.  It’s a very engaging activity  🙂

Nevertheless, some tend to make it back to the kitchen and sooner or later there will be jam, ice-cream, and who knows what else to come, but we had a picnic this weekend……. …so I made a strawberry tart.

Here’s how.


Strawberry Tart with a Vegan Crème Pâtissière

for 6-8

or possibly just for 1

Ingredients: Continue reading “Strawberry Tart with a Strawberry Crème Pâtissière.”

All About Beans, Salads, Vegan, Vegan Snacks

Lazy Nancy Salad Dip….

A Lazy Susan is one of those things that sits in the middle of the table, on which you put all the dishes of food, and spin it round so you don’t have to lean over to get one.  This salad/dip/sandwich filling/ baked potato accompaniment  etc. ….lets the blender take the strain.  It goes round and round and then its done! 🙂




for 4

Ingredients: Continue reading “Lazy Nancy Salad Dip….”

Vegan, Vegan Main Dishes, Vegan Quick Suppers

Crispy Tofu + Warm Noodle and Spring Vegetable Salad + Ginger and Tahini Dressing.

This is a recipe based on the delicious, tender, sweetness of young fresh carrots, using some of my favourite Asian flavours…. naturally…!

Haven’t had the chance to do much cooking lately….because, right now, it’s all about the growing!  I have a big allotment plot dedicated to vegetable growing, near the centre of town, and with a chilly UK spring finally giving way to a summer beginning with a bit of a heat wave there’s a lot to do on the growing front!

 I grow carrots in a big bin to avoid carrot fly, and a couple of days ago I thinned out a big bunch of young carrots, because that way the others have a chance to get bigger!  But, no worries if you don’t grow your own, because you can buy nice, young, thin carrots in the shops at this time of year…

Bar the marinading of the tofu, this is a quick meal to put together…

….here’s how it goes…

PS: The different aspects of this dish require a bit of organisation and timing to bring everything together.  But not rocket science 😉



for 4

Ingredients: Continue reading “Crispy Tofu + Warm Noodle and Spring Vegetable Salad + Ginger and Tahini Dressing.”

Vegan, Vegan Main Dishes

Mushroom Stroganoff

Mushrooms cooked in a rich, mellow, but light sauce.  Stroganoff is a Russian dish dating back to the nineteenth century.

Traditionally it included meat, but mushrooms are a great alternative.  The sauce is commonly flavoured with paprika, wine, and soured cream.

You can use shop-bought vegan soured cream, or here’s a recipe link that includes a recipe for vegan soured cream… (click image)



Stroganoff is a very adaptable dish: other flavourings include mustard or tomato paste, onions, and herbs such as dill, oregano or parsley.

Here’s my plant-based version ….with a plain rice pilaf …

…hope you enjoy…



for 4

Ingredients: Continue reading “Mushroom Stroganoff”