Chocolate raspberry pots

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I’ll happily hold my hands up and admit that generally, puddings are NOT my strong point.  I love eating them but making them?  Not so much.

However, pregnancy has definitely given me something of a sweet tooth so I thought I’d have a play with a really simple, foolproof vegan recipe involving two of my favourite sweet things (chocolate and raspberries) and this is the result…

PS Even if I say so myself, they taste kind of amazing!

(Serves 4)

  • 2 x 85g bars of dark chocolate (minimum 65% cocoa)
  • 2/3 tin of coconut milk (full fat)
  • 2 large handfuls of raspberries (fresh or frozen will be fine)
  • Dried rose petals and sugar to decorate (optional)
  1. Boil a pan of water
  2. Break the chocolate into chunks and pop them into a Pyrex jug or bowl
  3. Gently place the jug or bowl into the pan to slowly melt the chocolate (be careful not to get any water in the chocolate)
  4. Once all the chocolate is melted slowly add the coconut milk, stirring as you go
  5. Place a few raspberries into the bottom of the ramekin dishes
  6. Slowly pour the chocolate and coconut milk mixture over the top of the raspberries
  7. Pop in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to set
  8. Decorate as you so wish, serve and enjoy!

Caramelised red onion and cranberry gravy

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I love this gravy.  It’s rich and sweet and goes amazingly well with bangers and mash!

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 red onions – peeled and sliced
  • Drizzle of maple syrup
  • Half a pint vegetable gravy (made with veg gravy granules)
  • Large handful of frozen cranberries
  • Sprinkle of fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to season
  1. Heat the oil in a pan
  2. Gently fry the onions over a low heat for 15 minutes
  3. Add the maple syrup and fry for a further 2-3 minutes
  4. Add the gravy, cranberries, rosemary and salt and pepper
  5. Heat through for a further 5 – 10 minutes until the cranberries start to burst
  6. Serve with vegan sausages and kale and potato mash

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Vegan kale pesto

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I use pesto a lot in different recipes and although I do sometimes buy ready-made (Zest and Suma both do some great vegan ones), I often make my own.  Pesto is traditionally made with rocket but for this one I used kale instead.  Once made it will keep in the fridge for a few days.

  • 3 large handfuls of organic kale
  • 1 small cup of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic – peeled and chopped
  • Large handful of pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper to season
  1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl
  2. Blend using a hand-held blender
  3. Delicious with pasta, gnocchi, in soups or drizzled on salads

Pan-fried gnocchi with zucchini, kale, spinach, pine nuts and pesto

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This is really simple, quick to make and healthy.  Plus at this time of year I always crave something a little lighter than the rich and heavy foods of the Christmas period but before I’m quite ready to head back to salads!

(Serves 2)

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • One bag of fresh gnocchi (egg-free)
  • 2 organic zucchini
  • Two large handfuls of organic kale
  • Two large handfuls of fresh spinach
  • Small handful of pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon of vegan pesto
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Fresh juice of 1/2 a lemon
  1. Heat up a drizzle of olive oil in a non-stick pan
  2. Add sliced zucchini and gnocchi and fry for about 5 minutes, turning occasionally
  3. Add the chopped kale, pine nuts and pesto and fry for a couple more minutes
  4. Add the spinach and season to taste
  5. Mix through and serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, to taste

Homemade cranberry sauce

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This is so easy to make and so delicious that I can’t quite believe I ever bought the stuff!  Stored in jars it will keep well in the cupboard (or fridge once opened) and makes a great present around Christmas-time.

  • 300g frozen cranberries (you can use fresh but these aren’t always easy to find)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Generous drizzle of port or cherry brandy
  • 50 ml of water
  1. Add all ingredients to a pan and heat through, stirring occasionally
  2. After a few minutes the cranberries will start to burst, give them another stir to crush the berries further and then place into jars

NB Because cranberries are so rich in pectin the sauce will appear much runnier than you think it should but will solidify as it cools

Pan-fried sprouts with chestnuts and a hint of chilli

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This is one of my favourite side-dishes at Christmas-time.  Although not popular with everyone I absolutely love sprouts and personally I could happily eat them at any time of the year!

(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

  • 450g of sprouts – with stalks and any brown leaves removed
  • 200g of chestnuts – roughly chopped (I bought mine from Merchant Gourmet)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Sprinkle of dried chilli
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Steam the sprouts for 5 minutes to soften
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and then add the sprouts and chestnuts
  3. Pan-fry for approximately 6-7 minutes
  4. Add chilli, salt and pepper to taste

Creamy hazelnut pâté

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This is so easy to make that I’m a little embarrassed to call it a recipe but it’s so delicious that I thought it was well worth including!  It makes a great starter for a dinner-party (plus the super-quick preparation time means that you can spend more time with your guests and less time in the kitchen) or a nice tasty lunch or snack.

(Serves 4)

  • One tub of Tofutti vegan cream cheese
  • 3-4 large spoonfuls of hazelnut butter
  • Sprinkle of sea salt
  • Slices of fig to garnish
  1. Blend the cream cheese, hazelnut butter and sea salt together (you can do this really easily with a spoon)
  2. Serve with slices of fig and crusty bread

Vegan pizza breads

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These are so simple and quick to make and they’re an ideal way of using up day-old French stick.  You can be as creative as you like with the toppings.  I tend to use whatever we have in…

(Serves 2)

  • 1 French stick
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Drizzle of maple syrup
  • Passata
  • One organic red onion – peeled and sliced
  • Couple of handfuls of organic mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 organic green pepper – sliced
  • Green olives – de-stoned and sliced
  1. Fry the onions on a low heat with a drizzle of olive oil and maple syrup to caramelise
  2. Cut the French stick in half and slice down the middle
  3. Grill the crusty side of the bread under the grill for a few minutes
  4. Spread the passata over the bread
  5. Meanwhile gently fry the peppers and mushrooms in a little olive oil
  6. Assemble the onion, peppers, mushrooms and sliced green peppers on the bread
  7. Pop back under the grill for a few minutes
  8. Serve with a green salad

Lentil, aubergine and kale curry

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It’s hard to beat a really good homemade curry.  I love this one – it uses lentils as a base and then I pretty much just chuck in whatever other veggies I fancy on the day.  No hard and fast rules – just go with what you fancy.

Much healthier than a takeaway and quick and easy to make too!

  • Drizzle of sunflower oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 4 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 2 red onions (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 aubergine (chopped)
  • Half a mug red lentils
  • Two mugs of vegetable stock (I use Kallo organic veg stock cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • 2 large handfuls of kale (roughly chopped)
  • 1 punnet of organic cherry tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to season
  1. Heat a drizzle of oil in a pan with the aubergine and shallow fry for a few minutes, until browned on all sides
  2. In another pan heat some oil and add the spices and the onions for a few minutes to soften
  3. Add the lentils followed by the veg stock, tomato puree and fried aubergine.  Simmer for approximately 20 minutes
  4. Add the kale, cherry tomatoes and seasoning and cook for a further 5 minutes
  5. Serve with rice and a wedge of lemon

Smashed potato and rocket cake with tomato and celery sauce

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This meal came about because we were running low on fresh food before we did the weekly shop and needed to use up potatoes, rocket, tomatoes and some celery…  My husband decided to make himself a tomato soup and I opted for potato cakes – the soup was thicker than planned and so became a sauce and I decided that my potato cakes needed a little of something extra.  Hey-presto – a new meal was born!

Somewhat surprisingly it actually tasted really good so has now become a bit of a regular!

For the smashed potato cakes:

  • Small bag of organic new potaotes
  • Half a bag of organic rocket (roughly chopped)
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season

For the sauce:

  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 medium organic onion (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 6 organic tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 tin of organic chopped tomatoes
  • 1 stick of celery (roughly chopped)
  • Approximately 1 pint of vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon of agave syrup
  • Salt and pepper to season

To make the sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and the onion, fry for a few moments to soften
  2. Add the celery for a further few minutes
  3. Add the tomatoes (tinned and fresh), stock and agave syrup to the pan and simmer for 20 minutes
  4. Season to taste
  5. Blend to a smooth consistency (I use a hand-held blender)

To make the potato cakes:

  1. Boil the potatoes for approximately 10-12 minutes, until cooked (I leave the skins on)
  2. Drain the potatoes and then add the chopped rocket, olive oil and salt and pepper to the pan
  3. Roughly mash all the ingredients together
  4. Shape the mixture into chef rings to make patties and then fry in a little olive oil for a few minutes each side

Serve the potato cakes with the sauce and enjoy!