Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Vegan’ Category

My Own Mushroom Farm

How delicate are these oyster mushrooms close up?

We started a little project over Christmas which was a small oyster mushroom farm. Perhaps not very exciting for those of you who live near woods and can pick your own under the tree canopies but for us it isn’t so easy to buy exotic mushrooms here that don’t break the bank balance. The kit from Mushroom Gourmet provides the environment to grow them in as well as the spores and you get three flushes from the spores as well as information on how to keep the cultures growing. We are only on the first flush and a third of that provided us with mushrooms on toast for the two of us. I wanted to keep the first tasting simple to really taste the mushrooms but hubby and I are already arguing what we will make next, I fancy a polenta with mushroom and Parmesan topping and hubby wants to make a creamy mushroom pasta. Whoever is first in the kitchen with the next batch of mushrooms will be the winner I say but we will most definitely enjoy both dishes. I might even make a summer sandwich series of them!

The Gourmet Mushroom company also sell Shitake kits which is likely to be next on our project list

These are the mushrooms growing from their farm….bag.


Quinoa Bircher Muesli with Coconut Milk & Breakfast on the go Quinoa Fruit & Seed Bars


After a recent trip to Sydney a friend introduced me to her quinoa porridge and I knew it was something I was going to eat and make the first weekend back home. My preference was to make a Bircher style muesli cereal rather than porridge since its summer here and week days are too busy in the mornings for me to spend time cooking (which I know is a shame as would prefer to be in the kitchen). I thought I could probably prepare a few days worth of the quinoa in advance and add the rest of the fruit and seeds to it on the day of eating it. So I cooked a cup of quinoa as the base of the cereal, rinsed it in cold water and then drained it and kept it in the fridge which lasted me three servings. The rest of the ingredients I added just before eating it, or you could easily add them the night before although it’s not really necessary. The great thing about a quinoa muesli is that is is quite filling but is gluten free, it’s high in protein for a grain and a good source of amino acids, magnesium and iron. Here is more info on the grain if you are interested.

The muesli bars where for the extra energy boost during the day rather than reach for a choccy bar which is what I am know to do. The only sweetener being the honey which is from a friends local bee hive so it has to be good for me.

1 cup Ceres quinoa grains
Cinnamon powder
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Shredded coconut
Coconut milk
Fresh berries

Place the quinoa in a medium sized pan with 2 cups of water.
Simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes or until the grains ‘sprout’ their tail. They should still have texture, not soggy.
Rinse in cold water, drain thoroughly and store in fridge until you want to eat your cereal. It will last several days only.
To serve, add a handful of sunflower, pumpkin seeds and shredded coconut, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a drizzle of homey and coconut milk.


Make 12 bars
1 cup Ceres quinoa grains
1/2 cup of fine oats
1/2 cup, pumpkin, sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup figs, finely chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coconut oil

Pre-heat oven to 180C and line a 22cm baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Place the quinoa in a medium sized pan with 2 cups of water.
Simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes or until the grains ‘sprout’ their tail. They should still have texture, not soggy.
Rinse in cold water, drain thoroughly.
Place the finely chopped figs, oil and honey in a pan and simmer for 5 minutes to break up the figs.
Add all the other ingredients to the figs and combine.
Press firmly into baking tray.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and cut into bars but do not remove from the pan.
Only remove once cooled completely.

Rose Turkish Delight


I’ll just manage a quick post before the food bloggers conference on Saturday which is taking up most of my spare time organizing. Did you know we are having our first ever New Zealand food bloggers conference? I’m so excited to be meeting another 25 food bloggers who will be attending the conference who i have followed and chatted with on the blogger-sphere. I’ll let you know how it went once its over and I have a vino in hand and my feet up.

This is my first attempt at Turkish Delight even though it is one of my favourite sweets I have never made it before. When looking for a recipe I found there are two kinds, one you just boil the ingredients like you would jam and the other adds gelatin. I decided to make the one with gelatin, I thought it least likely to fail and would perhaps not go sticky in our humid weather. I have used a recipe from The Good Food Channel but reduce the amount of gelatin since I use agar.

sunflower oil,for greasing
2tsp agar gelatin powder (Pacific Harvest)
255 ml water
4 tsp rose water
450 g caster sugar
3-4 drops red food colouring
2 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp cornflour

Lightly oil a 20x25cm baking tin.
Mix the gelatine, water and rose water in a large heavy-based pan and add the sugar.
Heat gently until the sugar and gelatine have dissolved, stirring continuously.
Bring to the boil without stirring.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the heat, stir in the food colouring and leave to cool for 2-3 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the oiled tin and leave to set for 24 hours.
Cut into squares.
Mix the cornflour and icing sugar together and toss the Turkish Delight in the mixture.
Store in an airtight container, between layers of greaseproof paper.

Date, Walnut & Orange Blossom Moroccan Inspired Treats


I love dates and have been wanting to make this Moroccan style ‘candy’ for a while. It’s not that it is even difficult or time consuming to make, quite the opposite but I always seem to get side tracked by another dish. I used our monthly Sweet New Zealand event as the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl. It’s really just a matter of roasting the walnuts, softening the dates and pressing it into a pan. No Baking, no sugar added, no flour added, no dairy either so one could almost claim it to be rather healthy if you weren’t too concerned about all that fructose in the dates.

So here’s my submission for Octobers Sweet NZ, hosted this month by Sue Couscous & Consciousness who will offer a round up of all the entries at the end of the month, so do pop over to her blog.

600g Pitted Dates
70g Walnuts
1tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp orange blossom water
1 tsp ground cardamon

Place the walnuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat and roast for a few minutes, shaking the pan to roast both sides. They should brown but not burn. You can do this in an oven too but if I’m not using the oven I don’t like to heat it up just to roast nuts.
Place the dates and 1/4 cup water, cardamon and orange blossom water in a pan over a low heat and simmer until the dates are all soft and the water is absorbed.
Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.
Press half the dates into the base of the tin.
Cover with the walnuts and then press the other half of the dates over the walnuts.
Cover the top layer of dates with sesame seeds.
Place in the fridge to chill then cut into small diamond shapes to serve.


Thai Spiced Pumpkin Soup & a new Gadget


I don’t recall ever eating pumpkin until I met a Kiwi, it wasn’t a veg we used in the UK back in the days and I tended to think of it as animal fodder. I was quite surprised to have it served up roasted for dinner but soon came to love it in many dishes although never became a big fan of the Kiwi icon pumpkin soup. So why would I post about it? It was a Tuesday evening, not much in the fridge apart from a solitary butternut pumpkin, so soup it would have to be. Thankfully I had made a Thai curry paste the previous week and the pantry always has coconut milk so I thought I could jazz it up into something tasty. It was that delicious with all the spices, fresh coriander and a velvety coconut cream I think I will even make it again!

So what is the new gadget? I finally succumbed to buying camera lighting after frustrating winter months only able to photograph at weekends and hope it would be sunny on those days. It’s take a bit of fiddling but I’m starting to get the hang of it.

1 butternut pumpkin, peeled, de-seeded & chopped
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
2tbsp Thai curry paste
1tbsp oil
Salt to season

Add the oil and paste to a large pan over a medium heat and fry for 1 minute.
Add the coconut, stock and pumpkin and simmer until the pumpkin is very soft.
Blend the soup to a smooth consistency and season to taste.
Chop the fresh coriander and garnish the soup once served.

Lanhydrock Estate and Parsnip & Apple Soup


When visiting Europe we love to roam the castles and manor houses of England and France, while in Cornwall this month we visited Lanhydrock Hall in Bodmin. I love that the National Trust calls it a country house which I am sure it was for many in Victorian times but for most of us it is a mansion beyond our wildest dreams. The most impressive for me were the vast kitchens, including pastry & bread kitchen, dairy, meat storage and prep room, vegetable prep room, roasting room and larder, my kind of house really.

My parents have visited the house several times, my sister lives in Bodmin and on their last visit my Pop said he bought a great recipe book with all Victorian recipes in it. In particular he liked the parsnip and apple soup and said he would make it for us once we got back to Liverpool which he did. It was a very creamy fragrant soup which I knew I would want to eat again so I noted it down before we left, well actually photographed the page with my IPhone. So here it is, it’s the first thing I cooked once back in NZ this week, I hope you like it too.

Below is a picture of my pop eating fish and chip in one of the many cute villages in Cornwall that we visited. There are also some pictures of Lanhydrock.

600g parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
600ml vegetable stock
300ml apple juice
300ml milk
1 tsp curry paste or powder
50g butter
Handful fresh mint leaves
Yoghurt to serve

Melt the butter in a large pan over a medium heat and add the onions, parsnips and garlic and sauté for several minutes.
Add the stock, apple juice and curry paste to the pan and simmer gently until the parsnip has become soft.
Add the milk and mint then blend till smooth.
Heat the soup but do not boil as the milk will split, then serve in bowls with a dollop of fresh yoghurt.




Tornado Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin & Couscous Soup

It’s winter soup season again, but after the tornado ripped through our commercial district, Albany the other day it felt more like gin season to calm the nerves. It’s quite ironic, I was only talking to an American friend last weekend about tornado’s in The State and how they used to park up and watch them pass. I did watch the tornado in Albany, thinking how cool it was to see my first one, for several minutes anyway until we realised it was heading straight for our building and we all dived under our work desks for shelter. No one was hurt but our building did loose some external roofing and internal ceiling tiles, the kitchen ceiling came down but thankful our building has two kitchens so eating continues. Five cars in the car park were damaged but thankfully my three week old little green bomb was untouched.

So here is my tornado soup, it’s spicy and comforting with a bit of a cayenne pepper kick to it, I suggest you start with a pinch and then add more if you like spicy food.


  • 1 butternut pumpkin
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 200ml tin chopped tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1tsp cumin seeds, freshly ground
  • 1tsp coriander seeds, freshly ground
  • large handful chopped coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • vegetable oil


  1. Pour 2 tablespoons vegetable oil into a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and saute until opaque.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne and turmeric and cook for a few more minutes.
  3. Turn heat to low and add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the vegetable stock and place a lid on the pan and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  5. In the meantime peel and de-seed the pumpkin. Grate the pumpkin or process through a food processor on grate/julienne mode.
  6. Add the harissa and fresh coriander to the stock and stir. Then add the pumpkin and bring the soup to the boil.
  7. Once soup has come to the boil, turn the heat off and add the couscous and stir. You don’t want the pumpkin to go soft but keep its form and slight crunch.
  8. Place lid back on pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes.
  9. Season to taste and serve

Vegan Lasagna with Harissa, Pesto Vegetables & Rice Milk Sauce

When you are moving house the last thing you want to do after a weekend of removals is to cook for the family. With my dodgy back I wouldn’t get far lifting boxes anyway but can be of use cooking for everyone after a hard days labour. Friends of ours moved last weekend and I thought a lasagne would be perfect to drop in for them and they could cook it when they were ready to eat. Our friend is vegan so I experimented with a rice milk white sauce which came out really well, it’s a little sweeter than milk but you don’t really notice with all the savoury fillings. You could use soy milk but I’m not fond of the taste and I was going to make an extra one for our dinner too so decided to try the rice milk instead.

It’s such a pretty looking lasagne with the layers of colour and the pesto and harrisa and depth of flavour. This original is a Ruth pretty recipe that I found in an old fitness magazine but I used a rice milk sauce and also added my Harissa paste for more flavour. The puy lentils offer additional protein.

Aubergine, Courgette, Red Pepper Harissa Lasagne with Puy Lentils


  • 80g vegan marg/spread
  • 80g flour
  • 600ml rice milk, heated to boiling
  • 1 kg (4-5) fresh lasagne sheets
  • 1 tin Puy lentils (cooked) 1 large aubergine/eggplant (cut into 7.5mm thick rounds and baked at 220°C until soft through and golden brown on the edges).
  • 4 large red peppers/capsicum (baked at 220°C until skin blisters, then seeded, skinned and cut in half)
  • 1/2 tin tomatoes, blended and mixed with the harissa
  • 4 Tbsp harissa sauce
  • 4 courgetttes/zucchini (cut lengthwise into very thin strips and hot baked at 220°C until soft and golden brown on the edges)
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) basil pesto
  • 75g (3/4 cup) tasty grated cheese
  • 35g (1/2 cup) grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 190°C
  2. Roast all the vegetables as above.
  3. To make the sauce Garlic Bèchamel sauce, melt the butter in a medium size saucepan over a low heat.
  4. Add the flour to the melted butter and mix to a smooth paste. Cook for 2 minutes while continuing to stir the paste.
  5. Add the hot rice milk a ladle at a time and stir the milk into the flour. Only add another ladle of milk when the paste is smooth. Continue until all milk has been added and you have a smooth medium think sauce.
  6. Lightly grease base and sides of a deep baking dish. (27cm x 20cm).
  7. Spread 1/2 cup of Garlic Bèchamel Sauce over the base of the dish.
  8. Divide Puy lentils into 3 portions and sprinkle sauce with 1st portion of Puy lentils and cover with single layer of lasagne sheets.
  9. Lay cooked eggplant on top of lasagne sheets and cover with 150ml of Garlic Bèchamel sauce.
  10. Top with 2nd portion of Puy lentils and cover with a single layer of lasagne sheets.
  11. Cover lasagne sheets with tomato & harissa sauce and top with cooked peppers.
  12. Cover peppers with single layer of lasagne sheets and spread sheets evenly with pesto.
  13. Lay zucchini onto pesto and top with 100ml (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp) of Garlic Bèchamel and remainder of lentils.
  14. Top with a final single layer of lasagne sheets, remainder of Garlic Bèchamel Sauce and sprinkle with cheeses for non vegans.
  15. You can store in the fridge for up to 2 days until you are ready to bake and serve.
  16. Place in oven and bake 30-40 minutes until lasagne is soft and top is golden brown.

Harissa Sauce

At the farmers market last week there was a stall selling Harissa and giving out samples of it too. It’s not something I have tried before but as soon as I had sampled it I knew iI was hooked and this was going to be my new flavour of the season. I have to confess I didn’t buy any, instead it was like a red flag to a bull that challenged me to make my own. There are so many version of Harissa, with most regions in North Africa, where it originates, having their own version that I took a combination of several to produce what I thought would be similar to the one I had sampled. Not all Harissa contains sweet red peppers I discovered but the one I wanted the balance between the sweet and chilli peppers with the spices. The Harissa turned out exactly how I expected it to and I have a new bag of peppers in the fridge to make a new batch since we managed to consume two jars in ten days.

So what did I use the Harissa for? I tossed it through some stir fried vegetables. I used it in a vegan lasagna instead of a tomato base and I used it as a sauce over grilled fish. I have added a link if you would like to read more about the origins of Harissa and some more recipe ideas.

Ingredients – makes approx 400ml

  • 6 red peppers/capsicum
  • 1 medium chilli (the amount of chillies you use depends on how hot you want it, start with less then add more)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oli
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds, ground
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds, ground
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika powder


  1. Place the peppers and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until the skins have started to blister and bubble.
  2. Remove from the oven and place in a bowl with a plate on top so they sweat for 5 minutes (loosens the skin). Remove all the skin and seeds from the peppers and place in a blender or food processor.
  3. Place all other ingredients in with the peppers and blend to a smooth paste.
  4. Taste and season with salt & pepper and more chilli if required.
  5. Pour into a jar, cover harissa with a little oil and store in the fridge, will keep up to 10 days. Or you can freeze it in batches if you want to make a larger quantity.

Mini Courgettes with Cumin & Sumac Dressing

Happy St Patricks Day! I’d like to say I had made something green for the occasion but truth be know I have been too busy and away in Sydney on business so have not been near the kitchen all week. I did manage to don a green dress today though in honour.

Aren’t these courgettes such darlings, I couldn’t resist buying them from the farmers market when I saw them. It would have been a shame to chop them up too and looses their cuteness so I just sliced them down the middle and fried the flat side on a griddle. I did not cook both sides because they are so small it was sufficient to just cook the one side and it mean they kept their crunch and colour too. I mixed all the dressing ingredients together and poured it over the courgettes while they were warm and served them immediately. They are a perfect side dish for any meat or fish.

Ingredients – Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
%d bloggers like this: