Recipe: Eggs en Cocotte (Baked Eggs in Creme Fraiche)

And this, my friends, is my all-time favourite way to eat eggs at home. I mean, I LOVE boiled eggs with soliders, I love scrambled eggs (especially with pesto and parmesan) but these are whole-new-level yummy. It’s got the gooey running yolk of the boiled egg, combined with the comforting creaminess that reminds me of a pile of scrambled eggs. Best of both worlds and I could quite literally eat them every day of the week.

It took me quite a while to get the timings down for these – I’d been sticking to the “safer” method of cooking the ramekins inside of a roasting tin of boiling water but actually I find it works better just popping the ramekins directly in the oven. Whatever method you choose, once you get your cooking times right (ovens can be funny creatures, the one in this flat DEFINITELY takes longer to cook things that our previous one) I  am pretty sure you’ll fall in love with these eggs too. Creamy, peppery, a little bit cheesy. They can be jazzed up and cooked on top of things (mushrooms and leeks both work really well). But whatever you do, serve with a giant pile of buttered toast.

Recipe – to make 1 pot (I like to serve one egg per pot, you could probably add two but I find the cooking times even more difficult to master)

  • A small amount of butter, to grease
  • 3 tablespoons creme fraiche seasoned with a little salt and plenty of black pepper
  • 1 medium egg
  • A small handful of grated parmesan

Heat the oven to 160C, and lightly grease a ramekin with butter. Add in one tablespoon of the seasoned creme fraiche, and sprinkle over a third of the grated cheese. Crack in the egg, spoon over the remaining creme fraiche (try to cover the yolk, but be careful not to burst it!), then cover with the remaining cheese. If you’re adding any veggies, saute them in butter and add in between this layer of creme fraiche and cheese. Pop onto the middle shelf of the oven and bake until the eggs are cooked to you liking.

I like quite runny eggs, with the white not-quite-set and mine take 10 minutes in my oven. I reckon you’d need 12 minutes for fully-set white, 15 minutes for set but still soft yolks, and 20 for a fully set egg.

And now I’m craving these eggs. It’s currently coming up to half past five on a Sunday evening, we have a roast chicken in the oven – is it appropriate to have a dish of these a snack?!

What’s your favourite way of eating eggs?

Recipe: Low-Carb Mushroom “Risotto”

It’s been well documented on here many, many times that my ultimate comfort food is mushroom risotto. It’s rich, creamy, comforting and can be rib-achingly heart. And it’s that last point that lead me to devising this recipe. Sometimes I want the flavour and creamy texture, but I also want something lighter. Something that doesn’t make me want to spend the rest of the evening napping. This is perfect.

Substituting cauliflower “rice” in place of my beloved risotto rice not only squeezes more veggies in my dinner, but it increases the nutritional value and lowers both calories and carbs. Of course it’s not a ‘healthy’ dinner as there’s plenty of cheese and cream involved, but it is less guilt-inducing and certainly makes my tummy feel happier (too many carbs don’t really agree with me – I say with a sob as pasta, bread, rice etc is life!). Making a mushroom risotto with cauliflower rice just means I can enjoy my favourite meal more often!

Recipe – Generously Serves 1

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, or around 15g of butter
  • 1 small onion, or two shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch dried thyme (or 1/2 tsp fresh)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 large handful of sliced mushrooms, I prefer to use chestnut ones
  • 2-3 dried mushrooms, crumbled
  • 1 cup stock, vegetable or chicken
  • 1/2 a cauliflower, riced in a food processor (I use a mini chopper)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of creme fraiche (I used half-fat)
  • 30g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 handful of fresh spinach, either to serve, or wilted in right at the end

In a medium pan, heat the butter or olive oil over low heat and add the onion/shallot, celery and thyme. Fry until the onions are soft, stirring occasionally, then add the garlic and continue to cook for around 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Add the mushrooms (fresh and dried) and fry until golden brown, adding a spot more butter or oil if it’s looking dry.

Add the cauliflower and stock and, stirring frequently, cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and stir in the creme fraiche and cheese, and season well (plenty of black pepper!). Cover with a lid and leave to stand for 3 minutes, then stir in the spinach (if you want it wilted) and serve with extra parmesan.

Cauliflower is being use in a lot of inventive ways in the food blogosphere right now (check out my recipe for Cauliflower Cheese Pizza Bases). Whilst I’m definitely not a fan of depriving myself (if I want a proper pizza I’ll damn well eat one) I do like making little healthier switches so I can enjoy my favourite foods and still fit into my skinny jeans.

Have you tried doing anything ‘unusual’ with Cauliflower?

Recipe: Chocolate & Guinness Cake

It may come as a surprise to you, as I’ve declared my love for chocolate many times, but I’ve never really enjoyed a chocolate cake. Give me a brownie, I’ll be happy. Give me a muffin and I’ll enjoy it. But I’d never, ever choose a chocolate cake in a tearoom. This cake has changed all of that. This cake is, without a single doubt, the absolute best chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten.

The Guinness in this cake adds a beautiful rich dimension to the chocolate. It mellows out the sweetness, intensifies the cocoa flavours and adds a deep, dark colour to the sponge. Not only that, it keeps it wonderfully moist, meaning the cake lasted us nearly a week before we managed to get through it (this is the problem when you bake a large cake between the two of you!). But fear not, whilst the Guinness does add some extra flavour, it’s not an imposing taste. I’m by no-means a fan of drinking the stuff, but I couldn’t get enough of this Chocolate Guinness Cake.

Recipe (Makes a 20cm round cake serving 8 generously)

  • 175g self-raising flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 275g dark brown soft sugar
  • 110g very soft butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 50g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 200ml Guinness
  • For the icing – 300g icing sugar, 100g soft butter, 40g cocoa powder, 40ml milk, 40g dark chocolate

Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients, except for the Guinness. Now, using a whisk, beat well until you have a smooth creamy consistency. Finally gradually stir in the Guinness. Divide the mixture between two greased and lined 20cm tins and bake at 180C for about 30–35 minutes. Allow to cool fully.

For the icing, sift together the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Add the butter and beat well until coming together. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time. Melt the chocolate, then gradually add to the icing mixture. Continue beating for 5-10 minutes or until creamy and fluffy – it’s far easier to make this in a stand mixer! Use to sandwich the cakes together and cover the top. This icing recipe is also wonderful on cupcakes.

It’s also rather good warmed slightly and served with ice-cream…

Are you a fan of chocolate cake? Have you tried baking with beer? 

Recipe: Vietnamese-Style Caramelised Pork Mince & Rice Noodle Salad, with Homemade Sweet Chilli Sauce

And the award for the longest recipe title goes to….

Yep. I could have just said “Asian Pork Salad” or something similar, but it really wouldn’t have sounded quite so delicious. In fact, despite me making a royal mess of cooking the rice noodles (I still can’t even fathom what I did to them), this was one of the most delicious date-night meals I’ve cooked in a while.

This is perfect for a light dinner, yet it still feels like a big treat. Of course the sugar quantity isn’t exactly small, so best not to have it too often, but it is delicious enough for me to overlook occasionally! To make it even easier and quicker you could use bought chilli-sauce, but the results are so much better with homemade.

And, okay, so this probably isn’t strictly authentic. But it is delicious. Sweet, but with deep savoury flavours. A real hit of spice. Freshness from the salad. Definitely one I’ll be making again and again.

Recipe – Homemade Sweet Chilli Sauce (makes enough for 2x quantities of the pork dish, freezes well)

  • 4 red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 stick lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 60ml cider vinegar
  • 75ml water

Making this sweet chilli sauce is surprisingly simple, and it tastes SO much better than bottled shop-bought stuff. Simply pop all the ingredients in a blender (I used a mini-chopper) and whizz until smooth. Pour into a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and reduce until the sauce is syrupy – stirring constantly. Mine took around 15 minutes, and the fumes are quite potent so pop your kitchen fan on! Set aside to cool, probably best to transfer to a bowl as it will stick to your saucepan.

Recipe – Caramelised Pork & Rice Noodle Salad (serves 2)

  • 250g pork mince
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Juice and zest 1 lime
  • 100g vermicelli rice noodles
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • ½ cucumber, peeled into ribbons (discard the really watery middle)
  • 2 small carrots, cut into matchsticks (I use a julienne peeler as it’s SO much easier) 3 salad onions, cut into thin rings
  • 1 small handful chopped, fresh coriander

Heat a small amount of oil in a large wok, and fry the pork mince for around 10 minutes, or until cooked through and golden. Meanwhile you can prep the veg, and toss it together with half of the lime juice, the lime zest, fish sauce and half of the coriander. Cook the rice noodles via the instructions on the packet.

When the pork is nearly ready, addd the ginger, garlic, soy sauce and half of the sweet chilli sauce. Stir to combine, then add the lime juice to taste. Season well with salt and pepper, then served sprinkled with coriander, along with the salad and rice noodles.

Are you a fan of Vietnamese Food? What other recipes would you recommend?

Recipe: Leek & Blue Cheese Risotto

I’ve probably said this before, but I’m firmly of the belief that risotto is the perfect comfort food. Creamy, though not overly heavy, cheesy (but not greasy), and it can be loaded full of nourishing ingredients. When I’m feeling under the weather, need cheering up or just generally want some comfort food, it’s risotto that I turn to.

This recipe is perhaps a bit more indulgent than the risottos I tend to cook, with less emphasis on the vegetables, more cheese and a healthy dose of wine. Whilst I don’t tend to use wine in my risottos (why cook with it when you can drink it?!) I do find it pretty necessary in this one to add an extra note of background flavour. It intensifies the sweetness of the leeks, tempering the harshness of the blue cheese. And if you’ve opened a bottle to cook with, it would be rude not the finish it, right…?

#Recipe (generously serves 2)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh thyme, leaves only (around a tbsp)
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 150g risotto rice
  • 175ml white wine (roughly 2/3 of my large wine glass)
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • A knob of butter
  • 100g blue cheese
  • 25g parmesan
  • 25g walnuts, roughly chopped

Gently fry the onion, celery and garlic in the oil for around 5 minutes until softened but not brown. Add the rice to the onions and stir for a couple of minutes until the grains are slightly translucent.

Increase the heat and add the wine, stirring until it is all evaporated. Then add the stock a ladelful at a time, again stirring until absorbed before adding more. Repeat until the rice looks creamy and tastes cooked – I find it takes 20 minutes but it varies depending on the type and brand of risotto rice.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan, gently fry the leeks and thyme in the butter. Add to the risotto when it is cooked with plenty of black pepper then crumble in the parmesan and most of the blue cheese. Cover, take off the heat, leave for 2-3 minutes, then serve sprinkled with the remaining blue cheese and some chopped walnuts.

Perfect for a cosy Friday-night in, or indeed a meat-free Monday meal! I also like it with some crisp bacon on top, although admittedly this adds to the washing up…

Are you a risotto fan? What’s your go-to comfort food?

Recipe: Duck, Apple & Cucumber Salad with Malt Crumble (& The Importance of Eating Locally)

One of the big buzz words this year is sustainability. Whether it’s cutting down on your plastic consumption (I always, always travel with a bottle of water in my bag for this very reason) or making more ethical food choices, it’s quite clear that sustainability is going to be a BIG thing in 2018. And that’s something I can get on board with.

One of the easiest ways to eat more sustainable is to purchase local, seasonal produce. Veggies and fruit grown in the UK will have a smaller carbon footprint than imported produce (and let’s face it, imported strawberries eaten in the depths of winter just don’t taste that good). You can say the same for meat too. Sure, you can argue that it’s not really possible to eat meat ethically, but going vegetarian just isn’t for me (more on that another time). This is a compromise. My butcher can tell me the exact breed of cow, the exact farm my steak hails from. And of course, cutting meat-eating down to just a few times a week goes a long way to eating more sustainably, plus it cuts your food budget too. Winner, winner, no-chicken dinner if you ask me!

With all this in mind, I was asked to create a dish made from locally-sourced ingredients, and worth of a dinner party. Living in London makes this a tad more difficult that it perhaps would do elsewhere, but I’d like to think we managed okay-ish. I will say the cucumber was not local – I have an in-built fear of UK-grown cucumbers (my Granddad had an allotment for years and years, and the one thing that was pretty much inedible was the cucumbers, always so bitter!) so this was imported direct from Sainsbury’s shelves. For a completely local dish it could be left off, or you could try your luck with a UK-grown one! The duck came from our local butcher, and we were assured it hadn’t travelled far. The kale was from a local market, but you could easily use another leafy green vegetable that’s more seasonal/local. The malt crumble was the star of the show. We picked up the malt from a brewery in Bermondsey – and I’m so looking forward to introducing it into other recipes. For more tips on eating ethically, have a look here.

The resulting dish is absolutely delicious. Inspired by a recipe from The New Nordic (one of the most beautiful cookbooks on our shelves), the combination of ingredients sound like they shouldn’t work – but they totally too. The cucumber mellows the sharp apple, so the tartness blends with the dish. At the same time the cucumber adds a welcome freshness, cutting through the rich duck. The malt crumble adds the most wonderful texture, and it even has the combination of crunchy and soggy that the best fruit crumbles have. Here we’ve simplified the original recipe a tad – whilst it looks and sounds impressive it’s decidedly easy to put together!

Ingredients (Serves 3-4 as a Starter, or 2 as a Main with some good bread)

  • 1 granny smith apple, half cored and thinly sliced into water with a squeeze of lemon (to prevent it from browning), the other half left whole
  • 1 large duck leg
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 200ml chicken stock (if you’ve used homemade, you can leave out the carrot and celery above)
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 50g salted butter
  • 60g oats
  • 1 tablespoon malt
  • 2 tablespoons wholewheat flour
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
  • 150g kale – we prefer to buy whole leaves and leave them chunkier, rather than the bags of shredded stuff you can buy
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

In a hot frying pan (don’t add any oil), brown the duck legs, skin side down, until they have rendered all their fat and the skin is golden brown. Turn them over and cook for 1 minute before placing with the whole half apple in a casserole dish. Sauté the carrot and celery in the duck fat and then add the stock and vinegar. Deglaze the pan by scraping up any bits stuck to the base, then pour over the duck. Cover the casserole with a layer of foil and then top with the lid, then cook at 170°C for 1½ hours.

Meanwhile, make the crumble by rubbing together  the butter, oats, malt and flour. Spread out the mix on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 10 minutes, or until golden. Set aside.

To make the charred cucumber, preheat a grill (we used a George Foreman). Halve the cucumber lengthways and remove and discard the seeds – I find it easiest to scoop them out using a teaspoon. Cut each length in half to give you 4 batons. Place them skin side towards the heat and cook for 5 minutes on each side, until soft and lightly charred. Transfer to a food processor, add the yoghurt and plenty of seasoning, and blend briefly. You want the mix relativity smooth, but still retaining some texture. Set aside. Best not to make this part too far in advance as I find it can go a little watery.

When the duck is ready, use two forks to pull the meat apart. Return the meat to the cooking juices to keep it warm. You can discard the carrot and celery, as these were just used to add a base note of flavour to the duck – however if you’d prefer not to waste them you could leave them out. A bit of a tip – if you make your own chicken stock, we keep a bag of offcuts (celery/leek ends, carrot peelings) in the freezer to simmer with the chicken carcass to reduce food waste.

Wash and pat dry the kale, chopping it into smaller pieces if necessary. Heat the oil in a frying pan until very hot, almost smoking, then add the kale and sauté for less than a minute. Drain on paper towel.

Arrange the drained raw apple slices, shredded duck and kale in serving bowls. Dollop around some cucumber purée and drizzle over some of the juices from the pan. Serve immediately.

This is exactly the kind of thing we like to cook on our date-night evenings in. We love to spend an evening in the kitchen together, cooking up a plate of fancy food. This resulted in something that was both cosy and warming (and perfectly hygge) whilst still being light and clean-tasting thanks to the cucumber. We’ll definitely be making it again!

*This is a sponsored posts, however all opinions are my own as always!

Are you keen on eating local and seasonal food? How do you eat more ethically?

Recipe: Bacon, Feta & Lentil Salad (warm or cold)

This is an absolute staple in our household. We make a big batch at least once a month, usually doing me for a week of lunches, one evening meal for the two of us and possible W’s lunch group (for 5) too. It’s tasty, filling and healthy – a portion or so of veg, plenty of protein and just general yums.

What’s even better is that it works hot and cold. W in particular loves it warm, with sausages and steamed green veg. I love it cold of a lunch time, with plenty of spinach. It’s also great with a spot of extra stock, turned into a bit of a soup with leftover roast chicken. Mushrooms work well too, as does a spot of roasted kale. It’s so, so versatile. If we don’t quite have the ‘right’ ingredients we can switch things up – leave out the celery, use a different kind of stock, different herbs, add mustard, add white wine vinegar. Be luxurious with a splash of cream. Leave out the feta. Leave out the bacon. Ad different cheeses, extra bacon. The possibilities are pretty much endless, and that’s why we love this recipe so much.

Recipe – makes around 5 big portions

  • 200g dried brown lentils
  • 4 rashers thick streaky bacon, or equivalent rate of lardons
  • 2 onions
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Herbs – I like a combination of thyme and tarragon, but rosemary also works well
  • Chicken stock
  • Handful of Greek feta, crumbled
  • Optional – dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, mushrooms etc…

Fry the bacon in a little oil until starting to crisp. Meanwhile, chop the veg finely, before adding to the bacon and frying over a low heat until soft. If you’re using dried herbs, add with the veg. Add the lentils to the pan, then add chicken stock until they are just covered. Stir in any fresh herbs, if using, then simmer for around 30-45 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked to your liking. If adding them, stir though a teaspoon of dijon mustard and a scant teaspoon of white wine vinegar, tasting to adjust to your liking. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper, before serving warm or cold, scattered with feta. I also find it goes really well with baby spinach leaves.

Do you have any similar recipes that are good for batch-prepping lunchboxes?

Recipe: Whisky Mac’n’Cheese with Glazed Bacon Crumb

Yep. Whisky Mac’n’Cheese. The perfect Burn’s Night supper. I’ve already made a boozy mac’n’cheese before (see my one-pan beer’n’bacon mac’n’cheese) and, quite frankly, if you’ve never mixed booze and bacon together, you are missing out. Add cheese and, done right, you end up with a bowl of complete awesomeness.

The sauce for this mac’n’cheese is creamy and rich. Whilst the whisky-taste does infuse the sauce, it doesn’t overpower. The overwhelming taste is cheese, but there’s a subtle smokiness which works so well. Add in some salty-sweet bursts of whisky-glazed bacon and some insanely savoury super-crunchy breadcrumbs.

This recipe is inspired by one originally appearing in the Waitrose Weekend Magazine (and found online here). We’ve edited slightly, increasing the sauce to pasta ratio, making LOTS of breadcrumbs, and making the mix of cheeses more to our taste.

A post shared by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

Recipe – serves 2 very generously

  • 150g essential Waitrose Macaroni
  • 30g butter (+20g for the bacon)
  • 30g plain flour
  • 75ml whisky
  • 1/2 pint milk (around 280ml)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard (we used English, if using Dijon add a bit more)
  • 50g comté, rind removed and grated (use all cheddar if you’re struggling to find some)
  • 50g mature cheddar, grated (a smoked cheddar would be very good here)
  • 40g parmesan
  • 3 rashers smoked bacon
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves only, finely chopped

Boil the macaroni for 6 minutes, then drain and reserve the cooking water.

Meanwhile, glaze your bacon. Chop the bacon very finely, and fry in 10g butter over a high heat until golden and starting to crisp. Add half of the whisky and cook until it has completely evaporated, and the bacon is glazed and crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Then make the sauce. Melt the 30g butter, then stir in the flour over a low heat to make a thick paste. Remove from the heat and slowly add half of the whisky, stirring continuously until incorporated. Return to the heat and gradually add all of the milk, stirring constantly. Heat until the sauce is just below the simmering point, and cook stirring continuously for 10 minutes, until thick and smooth. Remove the sauce from the heat, add the mustard, comté, cheddar, 3/4 of the parmesan and seasoning (plenty of black pepper!).

Mix the macaroni, a third of the bacon and the reserved cooking water into the sauce, then spoon into a large ovenproof dish. Sprinkle over the remaining parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes at 180C, it should be bubbling and golden.

Melt the remaining butter in the frying pan, then add the rosemary and breadcrumbs. Cook for 5 or so minutes, stirring every so often, until the breadcrumbs are golden and crisp. Add the rest of the bacon to reheat. When the mac’n’cheese is cooked, sprinkle the bacon-crumb mixture over just before serving.

This is rich, so I highly recommend a good crunchy salad to go with it! And a dram of whisky of course…

Are you a whisky fan? Will you be celebrating Burn’s Night?

Recipe: Homemade Marshmallows

But marshmallows are so cheap, why would I make my own?! That’s the first thought I had when my fiance suggested we make rather than buy for a dinner party dessert. The answer, though, is pretty simple. They are just so much better than shop-bought. Softer, fluffier. Quicker to melt in a mug of hot chocolate. I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied with anything other than homemade again!

And they aren’t actually as complicated to make as they seen. Sure, it involves heck of a lot of egg whisky (a stand mixer is ideal for the job) and making a sugar syrup (I have a bit of a fear of working with hot sugar so I need moral support for this recipe). But it’s quick, simple and the results are amazing.

Of course, once you’ve got the basic recipe sorted you can make all sorts of ‘gourmet’ marshmallows. Add rose water, or even some citrus extract. Swirl in some food colouring. The possibilities are endless and I’m looking forward to experimenting!

Recipe – makes a large 20x30cm tray

  • 50g cornflour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 50g liquid glucose
  • 450g caster sugar
  • 10 sheets of gelatine
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 vanilla pod

Sift the cornflour and icing sugar into a bowl. Finely sift half the mixture over a deep 20x30cm tray and set the other half aside. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in a small pan with 125ml of water.

Mix the liquid glucose and caster sugar together in a pan with 250ml of cold water, and heat gently, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar syrup is clear, turn up the heat and allow the syrup to boil vigorously (don’t stir). When it reaches 110°C on a sugar thermometer, place the gelatine pan over a medium heat and stir until dissolved.

Whisk the egg whites in a free-standing electric mixer until you have stiff peaks. Once your syrup has reached 122°C, very carefully and slowly pour it into the mixer (with it still whisky), then slowly pour in the dissolved gelatine.

Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla pods, add to the mixer bowl, and continue to whisk for 5 or so minutes The mixture should be increased in volume and very thick, but still pourable. At this stage you could add flavourings and/or food colouring.

Either way, pour the marshmallow mixture into your prepared tray, then sift over the remaining mixed cornflour and icing sugar. Leave to cool until set, then slice with a knife (or use cutters to make interesting shapes). If giving as gifts you’ll want to dip the cut sides (they’ll be sticky!) into more icing sugar/cornflour.


And that’s it! Reasonably simple, and the result is pretty special. We mainly enjoyed these as part of a S’mores dessert (blowtorched marshmallows, chocolate soil, whisky ice-cream and a chocolate sauce), but they were also amazing when used to top a hot chocolate. In fact, typing this has reminded me I have all the ingredients available. And seeing as it’s currently snowing, I think a hot chocolate is really rather appropriate, don’t you?!

Have you ever made homemade marshmallows?

Recipe: Vegan Keralan Curry with Cauliflower, Chickpeas & Pineapple

This is one of my all-time favourite curry recipes – full of fragrant flavours, packed with nutrients and veggies, and (best of all!) ready in around half an hour. It’s adapted from one of Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, though I don’t have the equipment nor the brain speed to make it in that time.

This is a pretty typical Keralan Curry, although I make no claims that it is authentic. It is lighter and fresh in flavour, and more vibrant in texture than a North Indian curry – and as such it is less complex to make. It does need a couple of spices that might not be in everyone’s cupboard, but actually we find that we do use these quite often in curries.

And if you fancy skipping the vegan/veggie element, this curry sauce is amazing made with prawns or white fish – though I’d fry off an onion or a couple of shallots for a bit more texture. I’m also tempted to play around with different veggies, I can imagine it would be delicious with some sweet potato!

Recipe – 2 dinner portions plus 2 lunches, or 3 for dinner (easily scaled up, we’ve made for 8 before)

  • ½ cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • Drizzle of vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 handful of dried curry leaves
  • 7 cm piece of ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 6 spring onions
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 1 big bunch of fresh coriander
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1 tin (400g) chickpeas
  • 1 tin (227g) pineapple in juice
  • 1 lemon

Remove the outer leaves from the cauliflower, then chop into small chunks and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with a little vegetable oil, then roast at 180C for around 10-15 minutes, or until lightly charred and starting to go tender.

Melt the coconut oil in a large pan, then quickly stir in the mustard and fenugreek seeds, turmeric and curry leaves. Peel the ginger and garlic , and trim the spring onions. Pulse these, together with the chilli and coriander stalks in a food processor (I used a mini chopper) until they form a rough pasta, then stir into the spices. Add the coconut milk, drained chickpeas and the pineapple chunks (plus the juice from the pineapple).

When the cauliflower is cooked as above, add this to the curry and bring the whole thing to a boil for a few minutes. Season to taste, adding in around half the juice of the lemon. Serve sprinkled with the coriander leaves, alongside rice – I love it with brown basmati.

This has become such a staple in our house, it’s perfect for a Meatfree Monday meal, and is also great for lunches throughout the week. I can imagine it would be perfect if you’ve got a cold too, with the chilli and ginger being perfect for perking you up. Definitely one we’ll be making again and again throughout the year!

What’s your favourite vegan recipe?