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Posts from the ‘Vegan’ Category

Watermelon & Paneer Cheese Spiced Salad

I’m not a lettuce, cucumber and tomato salad type of girl, I just can’t get excited about that combination, it’s like an out dated fashion item…it’s a little boring. I could convince myself of course to eat it if it had a few olives and a big hunk of feta cheese on top of it and I was sitting beach side on one of the Greek Islands, the only way to eat a Greek salad really! Location makes a big difference doesn’t it? Saying that I live beach side in New Zealand and it is every bit as beautiful as Greece but I’m not always on holiday and more likely to be in a cold air conditioned office and need salad with a little more substance and variety for lunch.

When I saw this recipe in the Australian Gourmet Traveller I wasn’t too sure how it would turn out but decided to give it a go. The original recipe is just watermelon salad but I have added paneer cheese to make it more of a complete meal and I added a few extra herbs & spices. P wouldn’t touch it, he does do fruit and savoury together so the girls and I enjoyed it for lunch at work two days in row! I have a few other watermelon salads up my sleeve too if you enjoy this one.

It’s a perfect refreshing salad for those hot humid days. It can bee served on it’s own or with rice or as a side dish for fish or chicken.


  • 800g watermelon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • Bunch or fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 150g paneer cheese
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp sugar


  • Slice the paneer cheese into small blocks and dust with cornflour.
  • Put a few tablespoons of olive oil into a frying pan on a medium heat and once hot put the cheese blocks in to fry. Fry till golden on both sides, about 1 minute each side.
  • Once golden remove from the pan onto kitchen towel to soak up the oil, then put aside.
  • Remove the skin from the water melon and chop into 1 inch cubes.
  • Grind the coriander seeds with a mortar & pestle then add the garlic and turmeric and grind to a paste.
  • Add approx 200g of water melon to the paste and grind to a pulp.
  • In a large frying pan add the 2 tablespoons of oil, fennel seeds, mustard seeds and cumin seeds and fry them on a low heat for 1 minute.
  • Add the watermelon pulp and teaspoon of sugar to the frying pan and cook over a low heat for 5-8 minutes.
  • Turn the heat off and add the rest of the melon cubes, paneer and coriander to the pan and toss them through the sauce.
  • Serve immediately

Green Gazpacho Soup with Goats Cheese & Walnuts

The good thing about making New Years food resolutions in New Zealand is that they are easier to keep living in the southern hemisphere. I can’t even begin to imagine turning over a new (lettuce) leaf and eating salads and soup in a UK mid winter but here it has been so warm this year one craves fresh and light dishes.

I first tasted gazpacho in Spain when I was 17 and thought it was dreadful eating cold soup but that was before I developed a passion for food. Now it is probably one of my favourite, it is so fresh and light for those really hot days. I couldn’t resist adding my favourite goats cheese to it and a few walnuts for some crunch and of course some crusty bread for dipping!

This recipe is Really easy to make by whizzing everything together in a food processor, pushing it through a colander and chilling it down.

I have also been fiddling with my new photo software on my iPad……jury’s out on the new format I chose but it good to experiment.


  • 2 cucumbers, sliced lengthways and de-seeded
  • 1 green pepper/capsicum, halved & de-seeded
  • 4 green tomatoes
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1clove garlic
  • 1 slice sour dough bread
  • 2 tbsp of white wine vinegar
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper for seasoning
  • goats cheese & walnuts optional for garnish


  • Soak the bead with the vinegar and olive oil.
  • Rough chop the pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, garlic and spring onion and place in a food processor or blender.
  • Add the bread also to the food processor/blender and blend until smooth.
  • season with a little salt and pepper and the strain all the ingredients through a colander or course sift. You want texture to come through but to leave any bigger bits behind.
  • depending on how thick the soup is you can add some water or ice cubes if you want to chill it down quickly.
  • chill in fridge for several hours for the flavours to improve then serve with goats cheese and walnuts.
  • Coconut and Apricot Sago Pudding

    Sago and tapioca pudding used to be two of my horror desserts at school time lunches, we all used to call it frogs eggs but thought frogs eggs might have tasted better! I used to enjoy school meals unless of course it was something I didn’t like and in those days you were made to eat everything on your plate otherwise it would be off to the head mistress for a telling off and we were to scared to of that.

    I had not touched sago since I was about 8 years old until a Chinese friend invited me over to their house for dinner while I was in Sydney. She cooked a great banquet of dishes but she knew I was a big dessert fan and said she had also made a special traditional dessert for me. When she brought out the chilled sago and mango pudding I think I broke out in a cold sweat, frogs eggs, how was I going to digest this? But I didn’t want to be impolite and bravely put a spoon in my mouth and was dearly glad I did, it wasn’t like the sago I remembered, this was silky with a creamy coconut and the tart fruit complimented it well. This is my version with apricot puree which are in season here in New Zealand. I have only passed the apricots through a sieve since they are so sweet and don’t really need much adding to them.


    • ½ cup sago
    • 1 cup coconut cream
    • 1½ – 2 cups water
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 6-8 ripe apricots


  • Half and de-stone the apricots.
  • Press the apricots through a sift and collect the puree in a bowl. Depending on how sweet your apricots are you may not need to add anything to them. If you prefer you can add a teaspoon of sugar or honey to the puree but I prefer the combination of a tart fruit against the sweet coconut sago.
  • Put the sugar, coconut cream and 1½ cups of water into a saucepan and place over a gentle heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then add the sago, stirring with a wooden spoon as you add it.
  • Don’t allow the mixture to boil as that will cause the coconut cream to split.
  • Keep stirring to ensure the sago doesn’t form clumps. The sago will swell and the mixture will become quite sticky. If it becomes too thick, just add a little more water.
  • The sago is cooked when it becomes translucent.
  • Pour the pudding into moulds or glasses and set in the fridge for a few hours.
  • Turn mould out onto the apricot puree base or if using glasses pour the fruit puree ontop on the pudding
  • Serve chilled
  • Shopping On An Empty Tummy & A New Year Food Promise

    A post with no recipe! Only a picture of a what was left of my yummy car park picnic snack.

    We have all done it….most of us probably do it once a week at least….food shopping on an empty tummy. We all know how lethal it is on our purse and waistline but with busy lives there is often no avoiding it unless one is ultra organised and since I’m not a bulk shopper or a hoarder I never have the healthy hunger buster snack option at work to enjoy just before leaving the office to tide me over. This evening was the perfect example, leaving the office 5 hours after my last morsel of food was consumed at lunch time, a small one too since I am on the New Years let’s eat healthy kick…sound familiar hey? Before Christmas I would have just bought one but no, I am determined…. for a few weeks at least.

    By the time I was half way round the shop my subconscious was zooming in to all the chocolates, pastries and baked goods perfectly presented and packaged for a quick snack to keep you company on the drive home and stop that grumpy feeling one gets when hungry. When I am hungry I turn into an irrational ogre and grump at everyone and everything till I have eaten, thankfully I am not alone in this experience, girlfriends say they’re the same, even Sasa has named it Hanger (food hunger).

    So I decide to look for a healthy snack to keep me going, after all I have a 40 minute drive before I get home. There isn’t much to be had other than muesli bars loaded with sugar, fruit or nuts…boring! There is some pot of humous with yummy India spices on top but dipping bread or crackers into it would deaf the point. But I have a plan, I buy some pre washed carrots to go with the humous, it will be perfect but….ah I forgot I’m in a super market car park not a cafe or park. Thankfully this was an under ground car park so it was rather dark so no one could see me furtively dipping a whopping big carrot into a pot of humous and munching away happily. So girls don’t be persuaded by the cash counter snacks when hungry, well at least for the first few weeks of the New Year, just have a picnic in your car…..oh and don’t tell my boss since my work car is meant to be ‘food free’.

    Fig & Hazelnut Panforte – Gluten Free


    Wishing you all a Merry Christmas! Hope you all had a wonderful day.

    I decided to make a gluten free version of panforte this year since we have a friend who is gluten intolerant visiting us and Christmas. I have substituted the flour for ground almonds which really hasn’t changed the finished product at all since there is only 100g flour to 600g of nuts and figs. You can make a whole tray and then cut it up or as I have done, make individual pieces as I like to give them as gifts to friends when we go visiting. Just be sure to wrap it up well in an air tight wrapping or greased wrapper rather than paper gift wrap so that it keeps fresh.


    • 300g roasted hazelnuts
    • 350g figs, roughly chopped
    • 100g flour (or ground almonds can be substituted for gluten free)
    • 1 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder
    • ½ tbsp ground cinnamon
    • ½ tsp cardamon
    • ½ tsp ground allspice
    • ¼ tsp ground pepper
    • 100g honey
    • 150g brown sugar
    • 150g dark chocolate, chopped


    1. Preheat oven to 180C.
    2. Prepare a 28cm x 18cm baking tin or 6-8 individual tart rings by lining it with greaseproof paper and also greasing the paper.
    3. Roast hazelnuts in oven till golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.
    4. In a large bowl, mix flour, cocoa, almonds and spices.
    5. In a pan over a low heat, melt the honey and sugar till dissolved and gently boil for 2 minutes.
    6. Add figs to the cooked honey and sugar and gently boil for a further 2 minutes.
    7. In a microwave or over a pan of simmering water, gently melt the chocolate pieces, being careful not to overcook them.
    8. Add honey and fig mixture, melted chocolate to the nuts and and flour mixture.
    9. Stir the mixture well with a wooden spoon (working quickly, it is easier to do this while the mixture is still hot.
    10. With wet hand, press down to spread the mixture and make a smooth, flat surface.
    11. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
    12. Cool on a cake rack.
    13. Store in an airtight container or gift wrap. Panforte will keep for a few weeks stored this way.



    Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad

    I have been on a mission lately to make new and interesting salads since we seem to be having a spring which is more like summer which means salad season is open and it is going to be longer than usual. I’m not very good with food routine and constantly need to try something new. A dish that is my favourite one week can quickly be struck off the menu if I have had it two weeks in a row. Poor P just gets the hang of making a new recipe and I’m thinking oh no not again! But it keeps us on our toes to be creative and always try new food. I’m not sure if I was like that before blogging or whether blogging has accentuated this tendency. But I am having  fun constantly walking, talking, thinking, sleeping new food ideas. Do you obsess about food like me?

    Serves 4 as side dish

    • 1 cup Israeli Cous Cous
    • 1 red pepper/capsicum, sliced
    • 1 red pepper/capsicum, sliced
    • 2 small courgettes, diced
    • 1 small aubergine/eggplant, diced
    • 1 onion, halved then sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 2 tomatoes, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • Large handful Italian parsley, finely chopped
    • Large handful oregano or thyme, finely chopped


    1. In a medium sized pan add the cup of cous cous grains and 1 and 1/4 cups of boiling water (or as per instructions on your packet). Cover with a lid and simmer for 8-10 on a low heat. Remove from heat and let stand.
    2. Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
    3. Add the sliced onions and gentle fry until the onions become soft and opaque, add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes.
    4. Add the diced courgettes, peppers, courgettes and aubergine and fry for a further 5 minutes until everything is cooked.
    5. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to low and place a lid over the pan. Cook for a further 20 minutes, keep checking and add a little water if the vegetables become dry.
    6. Finally add the chopped herbs and lemon zest.
    7. Fluff the cous cous up and add to the warm vegetables gently stirring them through the cous cous.
    8. Serve immediately or place in the fridge if you are going to keep it as a cold salad.
    9. Works well as a dish on it’s own or as a side with BBQ fish or chicken.

    Moroccan Quinoa Salad

    Do you ever buy things that just sit in your food cupboard and you don’t use them? I had a bag of organic Quinoa sitting in my cupboard for ages, in fact the best by date is next month so you can imagine how long it has been there! I had been to our local organic store to buy some kelp products for the Pacific Harvest competition and saw these cute little pre packaged salads of cous cous or quinoa and bought one for my lunch while I was there. It was quite delicious but the price wasn’t as cute as the packaging and I decided to make my own knowing that somewhere in the back of my cupboard was lurking a packet of quinoa.

    You can serve this salad both warm or cold.
    Serves 4 as side dish

    • 1 cup quinoa
    • 1 red pepper/capsicum, slided
    • 2 small courgettes, diced
    • 1 grated carrot
    • 1 onion, halved then sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1 inch of ginger, finely chopped
    • 1/4 preserved lemon
    • 1 tomato, chopped
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1tsp coriander seeds
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • Large handful Italian parsley, finely chopped


    1. In a medium sized pan add the cup of quinoa grains and 3 cups of water. Bring the water to the boil then turn heat down to a gentle simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes. The quinoa will ‘sprout’ in the water showing the little white tail you see in the picture.
    2. Dry fry the cumin, coriander & mustard seeds in a frying pan for 1 minute to release their fragrance. Remove from pan and grind with a mortar & pestle.
    3. Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
    4. Add the sliced onions and gentle fry until the onions become soft and opaque, add the garlic, ginger, ground spices, preserved lemon and turmeric and cook for a further 5 minutes.
    5. Add the diced courgettes and red pepper and fry for a further 5 minutes until everything is cooked.
    6. Add the tomato and cook until the tomato had broken down.
    7. Add the grated carrots, quinoa and parsley then serve warm or keep in the fridge until ready to serve cold.

    Focaccia Bread

    I apologise for being so remiss with my postings this past week but I have been busy surfing the NSW coast, Byron Bay to be precise. I had full intentions of posting while I was away and even had posts prepared but after a days surfing and lounging in the sun I was too exhausted to plug the laptop in (which I only had with me because the first few days I was working over in NSW) and was more inclined to spend my last vestiges of energy on food and wine!

    I can see why people move to North East Australia, the weather is perfect, the surf made me cry it was so perfect (see below for those who care for surf) and the produce is in abundance. I am pleased it isn’t too far away so we can pop across for a fix whenever we need it. Apart from surfing I managed to go to Matt Moran’s Aria restaurant, which I have been wanting to visit for a long time, unfortunately it was closed for the public holiday.. boo..hoo so I only have a photo of me outside and we had to eat elsewhere, although the restaurant we went to was excellent and I was no longer dissapointed. Maybe next time we are in Brisbane or Sydney I will have better luck.

    Anyway, enough of Aussie and back to NZ. A few weeks ago I went to an Italian pizza and bread course run by two lovely ladies, Raffaela and Patricia, at Al Dente who not only worked wonders with pizza dough but also showed us how to make a quick easy focaccia which was incredibly light and airy. For those who live in the Auckland area I highly recommend their classes, not only was it informative and hands one, the ladies are so hospitable and welcoming and there was no rush to finish the course. Rather you were invited to stay longer, chat with their Italian friends they had invited over to share the huge amount of pizza we created and enjoy an Italian family atmosphere.

    I have made the bread three times now and also shown my class how to make it and each time it turns out perfect. The difference with this dough is that it is more like a wet ‘poolish‘ and not one you knead. Next time I make it a I will photograph the dough before baking and add it to this post, in the mean time here is the recipe and feel free to ask any questions.


    • 500g High grade flour (strong flour)
    • 500 ml+ Luke warm (room temperature)
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 ½ teaspoon dry Yeast
    • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
    • Olive Oil
    • Emulsion : olive oil and water
    • Sea salt


    1. Pre heat oven to 200C
    2. In a large bowl mix with your hands flour, sugar and yeast.
    3. Pour in the water.
    4. Add salt and knead in the bowl for 5 minutes. Eventually add more water.
    5. Pour in about 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil and mix it so the oil covers the dough and goes down the side of the dough.
    6. Allow to rise covered with plastic wrap for about 1 hour or until it doubles.
    7. Pour the dough onto a well floured work surface (without kneading any further).
    8. Grease with plenty of Olive Oil a shallow oven dish or a baking tray with edges.
    9. 6.         Emulsion: in a small bowl whisk olive oil and warm water until well mixed.
    10. 7.         Pour onto the focaccia and press with your fingers to create multiple wells.
    11. 8.         The focaccia does not need rising at this stage (but it does not harm it. It will just make it thicker).
    12. 9.         Bake for about 20 – 30 minutes.

    Easter Hot Cross Buns

    This weeks cooking class was bread making and since Easter is just around the corner I thought hot cross buns would be appropriate. In addition to the hot cross buns we also made a Sicilian style Focaccia bread which is more like a poolish dough and was taught to me by the lovely ladies at Al Dente and I will post that also in the next few days.

    I love making bread dough by hand, I just couldn’t imagine using a bread maker or a dough mixer, there is something very satisfying and personal about creating bread that you don’t get when using machines to produce it. Or is it maybe I am a gluten for punishment, watching the clock tick away the minutes I have been kneading? But with a class group the ten minutes for kneading just flew by as we all chatted and shared our latest news.

    I used Peter Reinharts cinnamon bun dough for this recipe which I made my Chelsea Buns from and just added the fruit and spice into the mixture.


    These can be easily adapted to suit vegan’s by using a vegan margarine (I use Olivani) and water instead of milk.

    • 100g castor sugar
    • 80g butter
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 450g high grade flour
    • 2 tsp instant yeast
    • 2 tsp mixed spice
    • 1 cup warm milk (approx)
    • 100g fruit (mixed, sultanas or raisins)
    • Cross Paste (2 tbsp flour & 4 tbsp water)
    • Sugar glaze (2 tbsp sugar & 1 tbsp water heated gently to dissolve)


    • Heat oven to 180C and line a baking sheet with parchment.
    • Beat sugar and butter together.
    • Add egg and vanilla extract.
    • Add the flour, spice, yeast, fruit, salt and milk and bring together to form a tacky but not wet bread like dough. Adjust with additional flour or milk if not right.
    • Knead dough for 10 minutes and then allow to rest in a warm place till double in size. Spray with oil and cover bowl with a plastic bag.
    • Divide the dough into 9-12 pieces and shape into buns.
    • Place dough buns ½ inch apart so when they swell they will join. Cover again with a plastic bag and prove until double in size.
    • Meanwhile, for the topping, mix the plain flour & water to a smooth paste that you can pipe.
    • Spoon the paste mixture into a piping bag and pipe a cross on each bun.
    • Bake for 15-25 minutes depending on size of bun, or until pale golden-brown.
    • As soon as you remove the buns from the oven, brush them with the hot sugar glaze, or warmed syrup, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.

    Courgette, Parmesan & Goats Cheese Soup

    The nights are definitely getting a little cooler here in Auckland and salads are becoming less appealing for an evening meal, but that means it’s time to start bringing back the soups which is definitely something to celebrate. This year I announced that we should try some different soups rather than my favourite, French Onion and P’s favourite broccoli which is very delicious but then he will tend to make the same one every week until I politely say I can’t eat any more of it.
    This courgette soup, or rather zucchini soup if I’m being Kiwi, is fairly quick to make if you have a mandolin for match sticking the vegetable but you can always just thinly slice them in rounds instead of cutting match stick sizes.
    I decided to add the goats cheese at the last minute since we had some left over in the fridge. We found this amazing boutique cheese company on the way down to Taupo, to do the Crossing, called ‘Over The Moon’ in a dot of a town called Putaruru. Goat & sheep cheeses have been slow to take off in NZ so I am always excited to find new ones and this cheese maker makes an excellent camembert and brie from sheep and goat milk. They are incredibly soft and gooey like a good brie or camembert should be which you do not get with the regular shop varieties here. For all NZers who appreciate a European style brie or goats cheese I highly recommend you visit their website as they will deliver.
    By the way, we survived the Tongariro Crossing even in 50k winds and minimal visibility! There was not much of a view from the top but we felt quite righteous after completing it in appalling conditions and in six hours when we thought it might take seven. I thing the cold windy weather hastened our stride somewhat!
    • 1 tbsp butter (or oil)
    • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled, chopped
    • Small bunch oregano, left whole
    • salt and ground black pepper, to taste
    • 1kg courgette cut into matchstick size pieces
    • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
    • 50g freshly grated parmesan
    • Slices of goats cheese to serve


    1. Heat the butter in a heavy-based pan.
    2. Cook the garlic and courgette slowly for 10 minutes, or until the courgettes are lightly browned and softened.
    3. Add some pepper and stock and simmer for 8 minutes, uncovered. Remove from the heat.
    4. Put 1/2 of the soup into a food processor and process until smooth.
    5. Return to the pan and stir in the parmesan.
    6. Season to taste with pepper and salt if required, depending on how salty the cheese is.
    7. Serve with slices of goats cheese on top and crusty bread.
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